Tag Archive: Bank of America


Wall Street On Parade

Suspicious Deaths of Bankers Are Now Classified as “Trade Secrets” by Federal Regulator

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: April 28, 2014

It doesn’t get any more Orwellian than this: Wall Street mega banks crash the U.S. financial system in 2008. Hundreds of thousands of financial industry workers lose their jobs. Then, beginning late last year, a rash of suspicious deaths start to occur among current and former bank employees.  Next we learn that four of the Wall Street mega banks likely hold over $680 billion face amount of life insurance on their workers, payable to the banks, not the families. We ask their Federal regulator for the details of this life insurance under a Freedom of Information Act request and we’re told the information constitutes “trade secrets.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the life expectancy of a 25 year old male with a Bachelor’s degree or higher as of 2006 was 81 years of age. But in the past five months, five highly educated JPMorgan male employees in their 30s and one former employee aged 28, have died under suspicious circumstances, including three of whom allegedly leaped off buildings – a statistical rarity even during the height of the financial crisis in 2008.

There is one other major obstacle to brushing away these deaths as random occurrences – they are not happening at JPMorgan’s closest peer bank – Citigroup. Both JPMorgan and Citigroup are global financial institutions with both commercial banking and investment banking operations. Their employee counts are similar – 260,000 employees for JPMorgan versus 251,000 for Citigroup.

Both JPMorgan and Citigroup also own massive amounts of bank-owned life insurance (BOLI), a controversial practice that pays the corporation when a current or former employee dies. (In the case of former employees, the banks conduct regular “death sweeps” of public records using former employees’ Social Security numbers to learn if a former employee has died and then submits a request for payment of the death benefit to the insurance company.)

Wall Street On Parade carefully researched public death announcements over the past 12 months which named the decedent as a current or former employee of Citigroup or its commercial banking unit, Citibank. We found no data suggesting Citigroup was experiencing the same rash of deaths of young men in their 30s as JPMorgan Chase. Nor did we discover any press reports of leaps from buildings among Citigroup’s workers.

Given the above set of facts, on March 21 of this year, we wrote to the regulator of national banks, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), seeking the following information under the Freedom of Information Act (See OCC Response to Wall Street On Parade’s Request for Banker Death Information):

The number of deaths from 2008 through March 21, 2014 on which JPMorgan Chase collected death benefits; the total face amount of BOLI life insurance in force at JPMorgan; the total number of former and current employees of JPMorgan Chase who are insured under these policies; any peer studies showing the same data comparing JPMorgan Chase with Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Citigroup.

The OCC responded politely by letter dated April 18, after first calling a few days earlier to inform us that we would be getting nothing under the sunshine law request. (On Wall Street, sunshine routinely means dark curtain.) The OCC letter advised that documents relevant to our request were being withheld on the basis that they are “privileged or contains trade secrets, or commercial or financial information, furnished in confidence, that relates to the business, personal, or financial affairs of any person,” or  relate to “a record contained in or related to an examination.”

The ironic reality is that the documents do not pertain to the personal financial affairs of individuals who have a privacy right. Individuals are not going to receive the proceeds of this life insurance for the most part. In many cases, they do not even know that multi-million dollar policies that pay upon their death have been taken out by their employer or former employer. Equally important, JPMorgan is a publicly traded company whose shareholders have a right under securities laws to understand the quality of its earnings – are those earnings coming from traditional banking and investment banking operations or is this ghoulish practice of profiting from the death of workers now a major contributor to profits on Wall Street?

As it turns out, one aspect of the information cavalierly denied to us by the OCC is publicly available to those willing to hunt for it. On March 24 of this year, we reported that JPMorgan Chase held $10.4 billion in BOLI assets at its insured depository bank as of December 31, 2013.

We reached out to BOLI expert, Michael D. Myers, to understand what JPMorgan’s $10.4 billion in BOLI assets at its commercial bank might represent in terms of face amount of life insurance on its workers. Myers said: “Without knowing the length of the investment or its rate of return, it is difficult to estimate the face amount of the insurance coverage.  However, a cash value of $10.4 billion could easily translate into more than $100 billion in actual insurance coverage and possibly two or three times that amount” said Myers, a partner in the Houston, Texas law firm McClanahan Myers Espey, L.L.P.

 

Read More Here

 

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Insurance policies pertaining to bankers’ suicides classified as containing ‘trade secrets’

Published time: April 29, 2014 19:09

AFP Photo / John Moore

AFP Photo / John Moore

After a recent rash of mysterious apparent suicides shook the financial world, researchers are scrambling to find answers about what really is the reason behind these multiple deaths. Some observers have now come to a rather shocking conclusion.

Wall Street on Parade bloggers Pam and Russ Martens wrote this week that something seems awry regarding the bank-owned life insurance (BOLI) policies held by JPMorgan Chase. Traditional life insurance policies ensure that the loved ones of the deceased are compensated fairly in the event of a death, but banks are investing billions in policies that let them receive untaxed payment with the passing of each employee. While it’s not unusual for major banks to take out policies that compensate companies in the event of an employee death, the Martens wrote, attempts to find out more about that practice have been peculiarly hard and have raised a red flag among bloggers like those at Wall Street on Parade.

Four of the biggest banks on Wall Street combined hold over $680 billion in BOLI policies, the bloggers reported, but JPMorgan held around $17.9 billion in BOLI assets at the end of last year to Citigroup’s comparably meager $8.8 billion.

Both banks are global financial institutions with commercial and investment banking operations, the Martens wrote, and each employs close to a quarter-of-a-million employees. Nevertheless, they say that JPMorgan has experienced a far greater rate of suicide among employees in recent months, particularly in the midst of a series of news reports documenting unusual leaps off buildings and other bizarre deaths that have taken the lives of JPMorgan staffers.

 

Read More Here

 

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Published time: February 18, 2014 17:12
Stefan Selig.( Reuters / Mike Segar )

Stefan Selig.( Reuters / Mike Segar )

 

 

A controversial trade deal being touted by the White House is expected to give American corporations broad new authority if approved. Now according to newly released documents, big banks gave millions to the execs that are now orchestrating the agreement.

 

Investigative journalist Lee Fang wrote for Republic Report on Tuesday this week that two former well-placed individuals within the ranks of Bank of America and CitiGroup were awarded millions of dollars in bonuses before jumping ship to work on the Trans-Pacific Partnership on behalf of the White House.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, is a widely-contested trade deal between the US and 11 other nations adjacent to the Pacific Rim, and has been negotiated by representatives for those countries in utmost secrecy. According to leaked excerpts of the TPP and remarks from experts following the news closely, though, it’s believed that the arrangement would allow corporations to oppose foreign laws while at the same time limiting the abilities for governments to regulate those entities.

On Tuesday, Fang wrote that two major United States-based financial firms have significantly awarded former executives who have since attracted the attention of President Barack Obama and subsequently been offered positions that put them directly involved in TPP talks.

Former Bank of America investment banker Stefan Selig, Fang acknowledged, received more than $9 million in bonus pay after he was nominated to join the Obama administration in November. And Michael Froman, the current US trade representative, was awarded over $4 million from Citigroup when he left them in 2009 in order to go work for the White House. Republic Report were provided those statistics through financial disclosures included in Fang’s article.

When Selig was asked to head the International Trade Administration by the White House last November — a Commerce Department job — the New York Times considered it “a rare appointment of a Wall Street banker by the Obama administration.” If he is confirmed by the Senate as expected, he will work directly with US trade officials on hammering out final arrangements for the TPP. Froman has been the US trade representative since last June, and according to his biography on that department’s official website, is directly overseeing TPP discussions.

 

Read More Here

Obama trade officials received huge bank bonusesSalon.com

Obama trade officials received huge bank bonuses

http://www.salon.com/…/obamareceived_huge_bank_bonuses

Obama’s TPP trade officials took bonus money from big banks

http://www.allvoices.com/contributed-news/16564785-obamas

Obama Trade Officials Received Hefty Bonuses From Big Banks

Obama Trade Officials Received Hefty Bonuses From Big Banks
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/17/obama-trade-banks

 

 

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2xtream·

Published on Jun 4, 2011

COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. – A bank foreclosure story you’ve got to see to believe. A Collier County couple turns the tables on Bank of America, the bank that tried to foreclose on their home. Now, the family is foreclosing on the bank! Even bringing trucks and deputies ready to seize property.

The foreclosure nightmare started when Warren and Maureen Nyerges paid cash for a home owned by Bank of American in the Golden Gate Estates. They never had a mortgage whatsoever. But, the bank fouled it up and wound up issuing a foreclosure through their attorney.

The couple took their case to court and after a year and a half nightmare the foreclosure was dropped. A Collier County judge said Bank of America has to pay the couple’s $2,534 legal fees for the error. After more than five months the bank still hadn’t paid up. So, the homeowners’ attorney did just what the bank would do to get their money, legally seize their assets.

“I instructed the deputy to go in and take desks, computers, copiers, filing cabinets, including cash in the drawers,” Attorney Todd Allen told WINK News.

Outside the Bank of America on Davis Boulevard, several deputies stood by with movers ready to start hauling out the bank’s office supplies and furniture.

Inside, the homeowners’ attorney was locked out of the bank manager’s office by deputies while the bank manger tried to figure out what to do.

Allen says the manager was visibly shaken, “Having two Sheriff’s deputies sitting across your desk, and a lawyer standing behind them, demanding whatever assets are in the bank can be intimidating. But, so is having your home foreclosed on when it wasn’t right.”

After about an hour the bank finally cut a check to satisfy the debt, and no furniture was taken. A representative for Bank of America issued a statement saying they are sorry for the delay in issuing funds. They claim the original request went to an outside attorney who is no longer in business.

As for Allen, he calls this a symptom of a larger problem he sees often in the courts, where banks don’t perform their due diligence on foreclosure cases. “As a foreclosure defense attorney this is sweet justice.”

Read more: http://www.winknews.com/Local-Florida…

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 photo justiceshreddedbygov2150x1611foryoutube_zps372fd10e.jpg

Copyright Desert Rose Creations / Family  Survival Protocol  2013

 

One  would  wonder  why the  courts have  not  been  as  ruthless with the  interpretation of the  many  laws  broken  by   Banks and  Wall Street, as  they  looted the  American  People  of  their hard  earned  money?

 It is  clear that   justice  serves  those  who can  afford to buy  it.  It  gives new  the term “greasing the   wheels  of  Justice” perspective.

Does it  not ?

Interesting how the  fact that the messages  were  written  not  only  on the  sidewalks, but also  written in washable   chalk.  Would the  same  charges  apply  to  children marking the  sidewalk so they  can  play   Hop Scotch,  if it   were done on a  sidewalk adjacent to  a  bank and  said  Bank  was  offended?

It seems  that State  Statutes now trump The  American Constitution and  the  Bill of  Rights.  Where  was  that  distinction made apparent, save  in this Justices courtroom?  Or  do lawyers  and   Judges  now  dictate what  rights can and  will  be  applied  to   Citizens at their  leisure? 

That  concept  somewhat nullifies  the   entire reason  for the  existence of  the  Constitution and  the  Bill of  Rights  does  it  not?

  Now  our  rights  are  determined  by the  Justice  System rather  than  being interpreted by the  same.  Our rights are  no longer protected  by the documents we  were all  under the   impression to  be  the  “Law  of  The  Land”, it seems.

~Desert Rose~

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Published time: June 26, 2013 04:07
Edited time: June 27, 2013 08:59

Reuters / Fred Prouser

Reuters / Fred Prouser

Jeff Olson, the 40-year-old man who is being prosecuted for scrawling anti-megabank messages on sidewalks in water-soluble chalk last year now faces a 13-year jail sentence. A judge has barred his attorney from mentioning freedom of speech during trial.

According to the San Diego Reader, which reported on Tuesday that a judge had opted to prevent Olson’s attorney from “mentioning the First Amendment, free speech, free expression, public forum, expressive conduct, or political speech during the trial,” Olson must now stand trial for on 13 counts of vandalism.

In addition to possibly spending years in jail, Olson will also be held liable for fines of up to $13,000 over the anti-big-bank slogans that were left using washable children’s chalk on a sidewalk outside of three San Diego, California branches of Bank of America, the massive conglomerate that received $45 billion in interest-free loans from the US government in 2008-2009 in a bid to keep it solvent after bad bets went south.

The Reader reports that Olson’s hearing had gone as poorly as his attorney might have expected, with Judge Howard Shore, who is presiding over the case, granting Deputy City Attorney Paige Hazard’s motion to prohibit attorney Tom Tosdal from mentioning the United States’ fundamental First Amendment rights.

“The State’s Vandalism Statute does not mention First Amendment rights,” ruled Judge Shore on Tuesday.

Upon exiting the courtroom Olson seemed to be in disbelief.

“Oh my gosh,” he said. “I can’t believe this is happening.”

Tosdal, who exited the courtroom shortly after his client, seemed equally bewildered.

“I’ve never heard that before, that a court can prohibit an argument of First Amendment rights,” said Tosdal.

 

Read More Here

Article Submitted by  Roy Mcdade to  Family  Survival Protocol

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Chase Bank Account Zero Balance “Glitch” – Test run for bank closures?

| Mar 19, 2013

By Chris & Sheree Geo

Truth Frequency Radio Network

Many could not get even get online to access their accounts! We at Truth Frequency cannot help but wonder if this is a test to see how people will react to a bank holiday or a sudden collapse of the economy. Just a few weeks ago Bank of America customers were also unable to access their accounts.

Bank runs are a very touchy subject. We have to realize that the banks only hold 10% of all money in their reserves thanks to the fractional reserve system. One must only peruse Modern Money Mechanics to realize how money is created and handled. First, it’s noteworthy to mention that only 3% of all money actually exists in paper or metal form. The rest is nothing but digits in a computer system. But it’s even more chilling to think about the fractional reserve system and how banks only have 10% of their money on hand. Therefore if only 10% of the money was withdrawn, the economy would crash. Factor in the very fact that only 3% exists in paper form and disaster is imminent! It’s really a catch-22 situation: Withdraw all of your money from the bank and crash the economy, or leave your money in the bank where it’s sure to be stolen.

However, we have to realize that money in any form is not actually yours. It belongs to the Federal Reserve. It was loaned out to the US government with interest attached and then given to you for use as a promissory note that one day you will pay back to debt. So let’s do some simple math here. If you borrow 10 dollars from me and the interest is a dollar and I create that ten dollars out of thin air, you have to pay me back eleven dollars. So you do what you need to do, come back to me and you’re ready to pay back the $10. However since I’ve only created $10, you have to borrow another $10 to pay me back the dollar. So you borrow another $10 making your loan $20, you pay me back the $10 plus $1 and you’re left with $9. So you’ve paid back the original $10 plus interest but you’re still stuck with the second $10 loan plus $1 interest. But you only have $9!! So what are you going to do? Borrow another $10, which gives you $19 in your hands. You pay back the $10 loan plus $1 interest and you’re now left with $8 in your hand. But you still owe me for the recent $10 loan plus $1 interest.

Does this sound crazy? This is EXACTLY what the Federal Government does with the Federal Reserve. The Federal Reserve prints up some fancy looking pieces of paper called “dollars” and the Federal Government prints up fancy pieces of paper and they call them treasury bonds.  And through that exchange, We The People work 1/3rd of the year to pay the “income tax” which goes directly into the pockets of the Federal Reserve Bankers to pay back the interest accumulated from this transaction (According to the Grace Committee – Ronald Reagan). So considering a third of your income goes to pay back the interest, the interest is more like 30% rather than 10% as used in the example above.

So now you realize why we have to constantly borrow money to keep the economy going. Now let’s get back to the fractional reserve system. Banks do not actually loan out money but rather they loan out “credit”. This credit is based on their “fractional reserves”. So let’s say you put $1000 in the bank. Because the bank is only required to hold 10% of their reserves then they now have $9,000 worth of new lending power. So then your neighbor goes to the bank and asks for a loan for a $9,000 car. The bank takes the credit they created based on your deposit and pays the financing company for your friend’s loan. But this money never actually leaves the bank or even given in cash. What happens instead? The financing company receives a check for the amount then deposits it into their bank. So now that they deposited $9,000 into their bank, that bank now has $81,000 worth of lending power based on that $9000 deposit ($9,000 times 10 equals $90,000 minus 10% for the reserve equals $81,000). And the system keeps going and going and going.

Read Full Article Here

Published on Feb 23, 2013

One of America’s biggest banks may be getting another government bailout. This week it was revealed that the New York Fed struck a secret deal with Bank of America over its toxic mortgages. The deal spares the banking giant from billions of dollars in legal claims. Victim’s of B of A’s banking practices, are still losing their homes, but fighting to keep Wall Street accountable.

Wells Fargo pays $175M to settle race discrimination probe

By msnbc.com staff and news services

The Justice Department says Wells Fargo & Co. will pay at least $175 million to settle accusations that it allegedly discriminated against qualified African-American and Hispanic borrowers in its mortgage lending from 2004 through 2009.

The settlement, which needs approval from a judge, would end the investigation into whether the fourth largest U.S. bank between 2004 and 2009 knowingly targeted minorities for risky mortgages that came with higher costs, according to documents filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

“The Department of Justice today filed the second largest fair lending settlement in the department’s history to resolve allegations that Wells Fargo Bank, the largest residential home mortgage originator in the United States, engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination against qualified African-American and Hispanic borrowers in its mortgage lending from 2004 through 2009,” said a statement from the U.S. Department of Justice.

The settlement will provide $125 million in compensation for minority borrowers the DOJ said were steered into subprime mortgages, which usually carry higher fees. Wells Fargo will pay $50 million more in direct down payment assistance to borrowers in parts of the country where the DOJ identified large numbers of discrimination victims.

At a news conference, Deputy Attorney General James Cole said the government will ensure that borrowers hit hard by the housing crisis will have an opportunity to access homeownership.

Cole said the bank’s discriminatory lending practices resulted in more than 34,000 African-American and Hispanic borrowers in 36 states and the District of Columbia paying higher rates for loans solely because of the color of their skin.

Wells Fargo in May said it could face civil charges under laws that prohibit discrimination against minority homebuyers. At the time, the lender said in a securities filing it believed the charges should not be brought and said it was seeking to show the department that it is in compliance with fair lending laws.

The government investigation found that loans submitted to Wells Fargo by mortgage brokers had varied interest rates, fees, and costs based only on race and not correlated to the borrowers’ creditworthiness, according to the court document.

Wells Fargo noted in a statement that it has denied the claims.

“Wells Fargo is settling this matter solely for the purpose of avoiding contested litigation with the DOJ,” it said, “and to instead devote its resources to continuing to provide fair credit services and choices to eligible customers and important and meaningful assistance to borrowers in distressed U.S. real estate markets.”

The disclosure came after Bank of America Corp’s Countrywide Financial unit agreed in December to pay a record $335 million to settle similar charges.

Last year, San Francisco-based Wells Fargo received an $85 million penalty from the Federal Reserve Board over charges it steered borrowers into high-cost loans. The Fed ordered Wells to compensate certain borrowers between $1,000 and $20,000.

The cities of Baltimore and Memphis filed suits alleging Wells Fargo engaged in “reverse redlining,” or intentionally targeting minority communities for predatory mortgage loans, leading to high foreclosures in minority neighborhoods.

In May, Memphis agreed to drop its suit after Wells Fargo agreed to contribute $7.5 million toward local homeowner and economic development initiatives. The bank also set a $425 million mortgage lending goal in the Memphis area, including $125 million in loans for low- and moderate-income borrowers.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

Politics and Legislation

Mayor’s office buys 8,513 more face shields for NATO summit

Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration is buying 8,513 more face shields for Chicago Police officers at a cost of $757,657 — and demanding delivery in time for the May 20-21 NATO summit — to give every officer on the street a shield that fits over a gas mask and prevents them from being blinded by liquids thrown by protesters.

The supplemental purchase from Colorado-based Super Seer Corp. brings to $954,118 the amount of money spent to purchase 11,570 face shields twice as thick as the old ones with a larger surface and air-tight seal to keep liquids out.

The new contract was piggybacked onto an existing Fairfax County, Va. award with a third-distributor to expedite delivery. It makes it clear the Chicago Police Department is not scaling back its protest preparations even though President Barack Obama has shifted the G-8 summit from Chicago to Camp David.

“It’s an urgent thing. They want ’em by May 15th. Their intent is to outfit all of the officers Chicago Police have with the new face shield for the NATO summit,” said Super Seer President Steve Smith, who is hiring a dozen employees to “ramp up” production.

http://www.suntimes.com/11443023-418/mayors-office-buys-8513-more-face-shields-for-nato-summit.html

An Administration Gone Rogue

By Rep. Ron Paul

March 23, 2012 “Information Clearing House” — Have certain parts of the Constitution become irrelevant, as a former Republican leader once told me at a Foreign Affairs Committee hearing? At the time, I was told that demanding a Congressional declaration of war before invading Iraq, as Article I Section 8 of the Constitution requires, was unnecessary and anachronistic. Congress and the president then proceeded without a Constitutional declaration and the disastrous Iraq invasion was the result.

Last week, Obama administration officials made it clear that even the fig leaf of Congressional participation provided by the 2003 “authorization” to use force in Iraq was to be ignored as well. In a hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta stated clearly and repeatedly that the administration felt it was legally justified to use military force against Syria solely with “international permission”. Such “international permission” could come by way of the United Nations, NATO, or some other international body. Secretary Panetta then told Senator Sessions that depending on the situation, the administration would consider informing Congress of its decision and might even seek authorization after the fact.

While Senator Sessions expressed surprise at the casual audacity of Panetta in making this statement, in reality his was just a bluntly stated explanation of what has been, de facto, the case for many years. When President Obama committed the US military to a pre-emptive war against Libya last year, for example, Congress was kept completely out of the process. Likewise, military action in Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, and so on, proceed without a Congressional declaration. In fact, we haven’t had a proper, constitutional declaration of war since 1942, yet the US military has been engaged in Korea, Lebanon, Iraq, Bosnia, Liberia, Haiti, and Libya with only UN resolutions as the authority. Congress’s only role has been authorizing funds, which it always does without question, because one must “support the troops”.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article30894.htm

‘Big Government’ Isn’t the Problem, Big Money Is

By Robert Reich

March 23, 2012 “The Nation” — Conservatives love to rail against “big government.” But the surge of cynicism engulfing the nation isn’t about government’s size. It flows from a growing perception that government doesn’t work for average people but for big business, Wall Street and the very rich—who, in effect, have bought it. In a recent Pew poll, 77 percent of respondents said too much power is in the hands of a few rich people and corporations.

That view is understandable. Wall Street got bailed out by taxpayers, but one out of every three homeowners with a mortgage is underwater, caught in the tsunami caused by the Street’s excesses. The bailout wasn’t conditioned on the banks helping these homeowners, and subsequent help has been meager. The recent settlement of claims against the banks is tiny compared with how much homeowners have lost. Millions of people are losing their homes or simply walking away from mortgage payments they can no longer afford.

Homeowners can’t use bankruptcy to reorganize their mortgage loans because the banks have engineered laws to prohibit this. Banks have also made it extremely difficult for young people to use bankruptcy to reorganize their student loans. Yet corporations routinely use bankruptcy to renege on contracts. American Airlines, which is in bankruptcy, plans to fire 13,000 people—
16 percent of its workforce—while cutting back health benefits for current employees. It also intended to terminate its underfunded pension plans, until the government agency charged with picking up the tab screamed so loudly that American backed off and proposed to freeze the plans.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article30903.htm

Paul Ryan’s Focus on Dignity

By Greg Kaufmann

March 24, 2012 “The Nation” –“Promoting the natural rights and the inherent dignity of the individual must be the central focus of all government.”

That’s what Congressman Paul Ryan wrote earlier this month in an exclusive commentary for Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity. This week, he revealed exactly where his laser-like focus on dignity would lead this nation. He released his budget proposal, as clear a statement of one’s principles and priorities as there is in politics.

Here are the results, and they’re not pretty. Nation readers with young children should probably ask them to leave the room before reading onward.

Mr. Ryan’s focus on dignity… means a cut in food stamps of $133 billion over ten years, even though 76 percent of participating households include a child, senior or disabled person, nearly half of all recipients are children and 40 percent of single mothers use food stamps to help feed their families. It translates to as many as 2.2 trillion meals lost for low-income people, more kids at risk of being underweight or developmentally delayed, worse educational outcomes and more stressed-out parents.

The congressman would also block-grant the program so it would no longer be able to respond to rising need during times like these—in 2010 alone food stamps kept 3.9 million people out of poverty. If you liked the cash assistance for poor families (TANF) block grant—which resulted in a free-fall from 68 of every 100 poor families receiving help to 27 of every 100—then you will absolutely love the Don’t Worry Ryan Will Feed You block grant.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article30904.htm

French President Sarkozy Sees Opportunity for Censorship, Seizes It

In the wake of a horrific rampage, in which Mohamed Merah (now dead after a 32-hour standoff with police) reportedly murdered three French soldiers, three young Jewish schoolchildren, and a rabbi, President Nicolas Sarkozy of France has begun calling for criminal penalties for citizens who visit web sites that advocate for terror or hate. “From now on, any person who habitually consults Web sites that advocate terrorism or that call for hatred and violence will be criminally punished,” Sarkozy was reported as saying.

Apart from the obvious flaws in Sarkozy’s plan–users, can, of course, use anonymizing tools to view the material or simply access it from a variety of locations to avoid appearing as “habitual” viewers–there are numerous other reasons to be concerned about criminalizing access to information.

https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2012/03/french-president-sarkozy-sees-opportunity-censorship-seizes-it

Economy

Greece is Now Irrelevant. Watch Spain and Germany

Submitted by Phoenix Capital Research

Earlier this month, Spain began “rocking” the EU boat by telling the EU it wasn’t going to meet the new EU fiscal requirements.

Spain’s sovereign thunderclap and the end of Merkel’s Europe

As many readers will already have seen, Premier Mariano Rajoy has refused point blank to comply with the austerity demands of the European Commission and the European Council (hijacked by Merkozy).

Taking what he called a “sovereign decision”, he simply announced that he intends to ignore the EU deficit target of 4.4pc of GDP for this year, setting his own target of 5.8pc instead (down from 8.5pc in 2011)……

http://www.zerohedge.com/contributed/2012-12-21/greece-now-irrelevant-watch-spain-and-germany

Bank of America Getting Into the Landlord Business

Bank of America, the nation’s second-largest lender, is launching a pilot program this week that will offer a limited number of customers behind on their mortgages to transition from owner to renter.

The bank, which was saddled with thousands of delinquent loans when it took over mortgage giant Countrywide, says that beginning this week “in targeted hard-hit markets,” it will offer a limited number of mortgage customers who are facing foreclosure an opportunity to remain in their homes, and transition to tenant status. The program is called “Mortgage to Lease.”

“This pilot will help determine whether conversion from homeownership to rental is something our customers, the community and investors will support,” said Ron Sturzenegger, Legacy Asset Servicing executive at Bank of America in a statement. “This program may have the potential to further round out the broad set of solutions we offer our customers in need of assistance.”…….

http://www.cnbc.com/id/46829774

Wars and Rumors of War

JOSEPH KONY, AMERICA’S PRETEXT TO INVADE AFRICA: US Marines Dispatched to Five African Countries

by Michel Chossudovsky

The hidden agenda in Uganda, Central Africa and the Horn of Africa is the conquest of oil and strategic mineral resources. Going after Joseph Kony and protecting Ugandan children is a cynical smokescreen, a pretext for a “humanitarian intervention” in a region where US sponsored “civil wars” (Sudan, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia, Ethiopia) have in the course of the last 20 years resulted in more than eight million deaths:

“Through AFRICOM, the United States is seeking a foothold in the incredibly resource rich central African block in a further maneuver to aggregate regional hegemony over China. The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is one of the world’s largest regions without an effectively functioning government. It contains vast deposits of diamonds, cobalt, copper, uranium, magnesium, and tin while producing over $1 billion in gold each year. It is entirely feasible that the US can considerably increase its presence in the DRC under the pretext of capturing Joseph Kony.” (Nile Bowie, Merchandising and Branding Support for US Military Intervention in Central Africa, Global research, March 14, 2012)

In a recent decision, the Pentagon confirms the sending in of Marine Special Forces to train Ugandan troops in the fight not only against Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) but also against Al Shabab in Somalia. Joseph Kony is being used as a pretext for outright military intervention in five African countries.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=29800

New Samsung TVs Have Built-In HD Camera, Microphones, Face and Speech Recognition

Here’s a bit of context that most people won’t consider when purchasing these quasi telescreens:

Avi Rubin – All Your Devices Can Be Hacked:

http://cryptogon.com/?p=28177

Massive EU Weapons Sales to Saudi Arabia Contribute to Fuelling International Aggression and Terrorism in the Middle East

By Julie Lévesque

According to the German magazine Der Spiegel, the European Union is the most important weapons exporter to Saudi Arabia. Of all EU member states, France comes first with Euro2168.6 million of exports in 2010. Italy is in second place with Euro435.3 million, before Great Britain, with Euro328.8 million.

By arming the Saudi kingdom, the member states of the European Union are breaking prevailing EU rules regulating the exports of weapons, notes Der Spiegel. The magazine quotes the relevant section of the legislation on Non-Proliferation and Disarmament titled Security-related export controls II – Military equipment, which states:…….

http://www.blacklistednews.com/Massive_EU_Weapons_Sales_to_Saudi_Arabia_Contribute_to_Fuelling_International_Aggression_and_Terrorism_in_the_Middle_East/18580/0/0/0/Y/M.html

Former Mossad chief: Israel will know before Iran begins producing nuclear weapons

Nuclear talks between Iran, Western powers to begin next month; officials in Jerusalem estimate Israel will allow at least three months for discussions, until oil embargo on Iran comes into full effect in July.
By Barak Ravid, Natasha Mozgovaya and Haim Handwerker

Discussions between Iran and the U.S., Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program will begin on April 13, senior U.S. and EU officials informed Israel on Tuesday. The talks are likely to take place in Geneva.

Officials in Jerusalem estimate that Israel will allow at least three months for discussions, until the oil embargo on Iran comes into full effect in the beginning of July……

http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/former-mossad-chief-israel-will-know-before-iran-begins-producing-nuclear-weapons-1.419978

Japan Prepares to Intercept Possibly Errant N. Korean Missile

The Japanese parliament has approved a resolution condemning North Korea’s planned missile launch, and the country is also preparing contingencies should the missile veer off course and pose a threat to Japan.

Speaking in Tokyo Friday, Defense Minister Naoki Tanaka said the Japanese military will be prepared for any eventuality.

Tanaka says he is ordering officials to prepare deployment of PAC-3 surface-to-air missiles and Aegis destroyers carrying a state-of-the-art anti-missile system that could attempt to shoot down the rocket…..

http://www.voanews.com/tibetan-english/news/Japan-Prepares-to-Intercept-Possibly-Errant-N-Korean-Missile-143976466.html

Palestinian on Hunger Strike “in Mortal Danger”

Uploaded by TheRealNews on Mar 23, 2012

Hanaa Shalabi, a Palestinian prisoner under Administrative Detention without charge or trial enters 36th day of her hunger strike
====
After more than a month on hunger strike, Hanaa Shalabi is in “immediate

mortal danger” and at “risk of coma” according to a Physicians for Human Rights doctor. Shalabi’s strike came at the heels of another high profile campaign by Khader Adnan who survived a 66 day hunger strike before the Israeli authorities decided to release him. Both were arrested under Administrative Detention, a military order that allows Israeli authorities to arrest anyone and hold them indefinitely, without charge or trial. The Real News’ Lia Tarachansky met with the families of the two prisoners and spoke to lawyers Shawan Jabarin for Al Haq and Sahar Francis of Addameer about the mass imprisonment of Palestinians

Inside Story – A coup underway in the West African state of Mali

Uploaded by AlJazeeraEnglish on Mar 23, 2012

Rebel soldiers in the West African state of Mali claim to control the country, ousted the president and suspended the constitution. How powerful are they and can the government sustain its grip on power? Guests: Akli Sh’kka, Baz Lecocq, Adam Thiam.

Terror Management: ‘US losing last credibility in Syria’

Uploaded by RussiaToday on Mar 23, 2012

The EU continues to pursue its strategy of pressure on the Syrian regime to force it out of power. Foreign ministers have agreed to impose a travel ban and asset freeze on the British-born wife of the country’s leader. Asma al-Assad is among 12 officials or family members to be added to a number of figures, including the president, who are already subject to sanctions.

Washington has also threatened to tighten the screws on the Syrian government and isolate it even more if President Assad doesn’t comply with the UN statement appealing for a ceasefire. With violence still raging in the country, the opposition has dismissed international calls on both sides to implement Kofi Annan’s peace plan – as not meeting the needs of the people.

Government consultant Christoph Hoerstel, who’s recently returned from Syria, says he’s deeply concerned that the sanctions may have been a response to recently leaked emails between the Assad family.

Worrisome Security Council Presidential Statement on Syria

By Stephen Lendman

March 23, 2012 “Information Clearing House” — After months of internal wrangling, Security Council members unanimously endorsed efforts to end Syrian violence. Or did they? More on that below.

Presidential statements are non-binding. However, with vague language, they risk potential slippery slope trouble. More on that below as well.

Media reports called unanimity a setback for Assad. The statement’s also characterized as “Western.”

Hillary Clinton called it “a positive step. The council has now spoken with one voice.” She also said Washington is working with Syria’s opposition “to strengthen its preparation to participate in the Syrian-led transition process that the Council has endorsed.” By any other name, she means regime change.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article30898.htm

Israel and US Disagree on Timetable for Iran Attack

By Associated Press

March 24, 2012 “Washington Post” — JERUSALEM — Israel and the U.S. disagree on what would be a realistic timetable for stopping Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, Israel’s defense minister said Thursday, but he stopped short of threatening unilateral Israeli action.

Ehud Barak reiterated concerns that Iran is trying to make its suspected nuclear weapons program immune from attack before taking a decision on assembling atomic bombs, and said Israel “cannot afford” to wait in such a situation.

However, Barak told Israel Radio that the Jewish state could hold off for several more months to allow sanctions and negotiations to work. During this period, it would become clear “if the Iranians intend or don’t intend to stop their nuclear weapons program.”

In the interview, Barak argued that superior U.S. military capabilities and Washington’s position as a world power account for its different stance toward perceived Iranian nuclear threats. The U.S. has urged Israel to give sanctions time to work.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article30905.htm

Special Report – Intel Shows Iran Not Nuclear “Threat”

By Reuters

March 23, 2012 “Reuters” – The United States, European allies and even Israel generally agree on three things about Iran’s nuclear program: Tehran does not have a bomb, has not decided to build one, and is probably years away from having a deliverable nuclear warhead.

Those conclusions, drawn from extensive interviews with current and former U.S. and European officials with access to intelligence on Iran, contrast starkly with the heated debate surrounding a possible Israeli strike on Tehran’s nuclear facilities.

“They’re keeping the soup warm but they are not cooking it,” a U.S. administration official said.

Reuters has learned that in late 2006 or early 2007, U.S. intelligence intercepted telephone and email communications in which Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, a leading figure in Iran’s nuclear program, and other scientists complained that the weaponization program had been stopped.

That led to a bombshell conclusion in a controversial 2007 National Intelligence Estimate: American spy agencies had “high confidence” that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in the fall of 2003.

Current and former U.S. officials say they are confident that Iran has no secret uranium-enrichment site outside the purview of U.N. nuclear inspections.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article30900.htm

Nuclear Watchdog Chief Accused of Pro-western Bias Over Iran

Former officials warn of parallels between IAEA approach to Iran and mistakes over Iraq’s supposed weapons of mass destruction

By Julian Borger

March 23, 2012 “The Guardian” – -The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the nuclear watchdog at the heart of the growing Iranian crisis, has been accused by several former senior officials of pro-western bias, over-reliance on unverified intelligence and of sidelining sceptics.

Yukiya Amano, a veteran Japanese diplomat, took command of the IAEA in July 2009. Since then, the west’s confrontation with Iran over its nuclear programme has deepened and threats of military action by Israel and the US have become more frequent.

At the same time, the IAEA’s reports on Iranian behaviour have become steadily more critical. In November, it published an unprecedented volume of intelligence pointing towards past Iranian work on developing a nuclear weapon, deeming it credible.

However, some former IAEA officials are saying that the agency has gone too far. Robert Kelley, a former US weapons scientists who ran the IAEA action team on Iraq at the time of the US-led invasion, said there were worrying parallels between the west’s mistakes over Iraq’s supposed weapons of mass destruction then and the IAEA’s assessment of Iran now.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article30899.htm

Kurd militants threaten Turkey if it enters Syria

By Jon Hemming

ANKARA

(Reuters) – Turkish Kurd militants threatened on Thursday to turn all Kurdish populated areas into a “war zone” if Turkish troops entered Syria, a sign the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) which has allies in Syria may be taking sides in the conflict there.

A renewed alliance between Damascus and the PKK would anger Turkey and could prompt it to take an even stronger line against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad over his brutal repression of anti-government protesters.

PKK field commander Murat Karayilan said Turkey was preparing the ground for an intervention in Syria.

“The Turkish state is planning an intervention against our people,” the Europe-based Firat news agency, close to the militants, quoted him as saying.

“Let me state clearly, if the Turkish state intervenes against our people in western Kurdistan, all of Kurdistan will turn into a war zone,” he said.

Western Kurdistan is the term Kurdish nationalists use to describe Kurdish areas of northeast Syria, while by Kurdistan they mean the Kurdish areas of Turkey, Iraq, Syria and Iran.

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said last week that setting up a “safe zone” or a “buffer zone” along the border with Syria to protect civilians from Assad’s forces was among the options being considered should the stream of refugees turn into a flood.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/03/22/us-syria-turkey-kurds-idUSBRE82L0UH20120322

Environmental

Monsanto ‘Biotechnology Book for Kids’ Caught Brainwashing Children

By Anthony Gucciardi
BlacklistedNews.com

Facing direct opposition from the public, biotechnology giants like Monsanto and Dow are now making a disturbing attempt to brainwash developing minds into accepting their genetically modified foods using blatant lies and propaganda.

In a last ditch effort to potentially sway public opinion, the Council for Biotechnology Information (CBI) has launched the “Biotechnology Basics Activity Book” for kids.

With the intent to be used by ‘agriculture and science teachers’, the activity book spreads absurd lies about GMO crops — even going as far as to say that they ‘improve our health’ and ‘help the environment’.

The book can be seen on the organization’s website, and makes it extremely apparent that it is full of misinformation and propaganda that completely ignores scientific research surrounding genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

In fact, let’s examine some claims made by this book that serves as an ‘educational’ tool to be used by teachers.

http://www.blacklistednews.com/Monsanto_%E2%80%98Biotechnology_Book_for_Kids%E2%80%99_Caught_Brainwashing_Children_/18585/0/0/0/Y/M.html

Cyber Space

Trapped In The Grid: How Net-Centric Devices And Appliances Provide Voluminous Information To Intelligence Agencies And Their Business Partners

“The patent discusses the technology to analyze the background noise during your phone call and serve up ads for you based on the environmental conditions Google picks up on. Yeah, that’s creepy.” –Google wants to serve you ads based on the background noise of your phone calls…..

In addition to this patent including the background noises of phone calls, it also talks about the backgrounds of photos and videos you’ve taken as well. So if you took a picture in the snow, you might be shown ads for snow shovels.”–Google wants to serve you ads based on the background noise of your phone calls……

Petraeus allowed that these household spy devices “change our notions of secrecy” and prompt a rethink of “our notions of identity and secrecy.” All of which is true — if convenient for a CIA director.”–CIA Chief: We’ll Spy on You Through Your Dishwasher…….

http://stratrisks.com/geostrat/4827

Inside the Ring: Beijing coup rumors

U.S. intelligence agencies monitoring China’s Internet say that from March 14 to Wednesday bloggers circulated alarming reports of tanks ent
ering Beijing and shots being fired in the city as part of what is said to have been a high-level political battle among party leaders – and even a possible military coup.

The Internet discussions included photos posted online of tanks and other military vehicles moving around Beijing.

The reports followed the ouster last week of senior Politburo member and Chongqing Party Secretary Bo Xilai, who was linked to corruption, but who is said to remain close to China’s increasingly nationalistic military.

Chinese microblogging sites Sina Weibo, QQ Weibo, and the bulletin board of the search engine Baidu all reported “abnormalities” in Beijing on the night of March 19.

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/mar/21/inside-the-ring-436080940/

Activism

Activist Outrage Causes Major Supermarkets to Drop ‘Pink Slime’ Meat

Activist Post

We have been reporting on the staggering amount of “pink slime” used in the U.S. food industry over the last few months. Pink slime is a meat filler made from “ammoniated boneless lean beef trimmings or similar products, which are considered unfit for human consumption until ammonia has been added.”

In early March, it was reported by ABC that a shocking 70% of ground beef at supermarkets contained this pink slime. Since this disgusting food additive has been exposed, natural health activists rallied to demand its removal from McDonald’s and school lunches. Now major grocery chains are falling to the pressure of activism.

http://www.activistpost.com/2012/03/activist-outrage-causes-major.html

Radiation

Escobar on Fukushima email leak: ‘Deleting data a cover-up’

Uploaded by RussiaToday on Mar 23, 2012

It’s emerged that at the height of Japan’s nuclear crisis last March, the authorities in Fukushima concealed radiation data vital to safely evacuate people from that area. Japan has a computer system designed to predict the spread of radioactive releases. But local media reports say the prefecture’s government deleted the e-mails detailing it. RT talks to Asia Times correspondent Pepe Escobar.

Psy – Ops

Scientists Warn of Ethical Battle Concerning Military Mind Control

Advances in neuroscience are closer than ever to becoming a reality, but scientists are warning the military – along with their peers – that with great power comes great responsibility
A future of brain-controlled tanks, automated attack drones and mind-reading interrogation techniques may arrive sooner than later, but advances in neuroscience that will usher in a new era of combat come with tough ethical implications for both the military and scientists responsible for the technology, according to one of the country’s leading bioethicists.

“Everybody agrees that conflict will be changed as new technologies are coming on,” says Jonathan Moreno, author of Mind Wars: Brain Science and the Military in the 21st Century. “But nobody knows where that technology is going.”

http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2012/03/20/scientists-warn-of-ethical-battle-concerning-military-mind-control

French Terror Attack: All the Hallmarks of an Intelligence Psy-op and False Flag

by Kurt Nimmo

Mohammed Merah, the suspect in the killing of seven people outside a Jewish school in Toulouse, France, fits the pattern of an al-Qaeda intelligence asset. According to the BBC, he was on the radar of French authorities because of visits he made to Afghanistan and the “militant stronghold” of Waziristan in Pakistan.
More specifically, Merah was handled by France’s DCRI intelligence service “for years,” according to Claude Gueant, the interior minister.

Merah, a French citizen of Algerian origin, was arrested on December 19, 2007, and was sentenced to three years in jail for planting bombs in the southern province of Kandahar in Afghanistan.
In April of 2011, the United States admitted it has operated secret military prisons in Afghanistan where suspected terrorists are held and interrogated without charges.

The notorious Bagram airbase detention center is operated by the Joint Special Operations Command and the DIA’s Defense Counterintelligence and Human Intelligence Center (DCHC)………

http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=29899

Politics and Legislation

The Hill: Obama shifts healthcare defense

By Sam Baker

The Obama administration has shifted its legal arguments as it prepares to defend the president’s healthcare law before the Supreme Court.

http://thehill.com/blogs/healthwatch/health-reform-implementation/216361-obama-shifts-healthcare-defense

The Hill: Republican bill would enroll seniors in same health plans as lawmakers

By Julian Pecquet

A group of Senate Republicans has introduced legislation that would end traditional Medicare and sign seniors up for the same private healthcare plans received by members of Congress.

http://thehill.com/blogs/healthwatch/medicare/216303-gop-medicare-bill-would-enroll-seniors-into-lawmakers-plans

Washington elites queue up to see nine justices on hot seat

By Janet Adamy and Jess Bravin

The hottest ticket in the capital is for a spot inside the Supreme Court to watch three days of arguments challenging the 2010 health-care law that begin here a week from Monday.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303863404577283631472580966.html?mod=ITP_AHED

Tape A Cop, Face A Felony Charge

Well, now the news is that in Chicago the police will continue to
enforce, arrest, and prosecute citizens under this law as long as
it remains on the books.

Coming to Chicago in May is an upcoming NATO summit and it is
expected to bring with it huge numbers felonious camera carrying
members of the public, and you can bet the police will have their
own cameras trained on them.

Supreme Court rules out television cameras for healthcare arguments

By Sam Baker

The Supreme Court on Friday rejected calls to allow television cameras into its chambers during arguments over President Obama’s healthcare law.??

The court said it would release same-day audio recordings of the arguments, scheduled for March 26-28. It cited the “extraordinary public interest” in the case, which could lead to President Obama’s signature domestic achievement being struck down in the midst of the campaign season.

http://thehill.com/blogs/healthwatch/legal-challenges/216447-supreme-court-no-cameras-in-healthcare-case

GOP Super PAC Men Seek to Overturn Donation Limits

Michael Beckel, News Report:

McCutcheon is a 44-year-old general contractor in Alabama. He’s the owner, founder and president of Coalmont Electrical Development. He’s a member of the Republican Party who admits he may have a bit of a libertarian streak. And he’s also the treasurer of a super PAC called the “Conservative Action Fund.” That’s a group that spent more than $43,000 opposing House Financial Services Committee Chairman Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) in Tuesday’s GOP primary in Alabama, although it has mostly targeted Democrats with its attacks.

http://www.nationofchange.org/gop-super-pac-men-seek-overturn-donation-limits-1331907498

Democratic Senators Issue Strong Warning About Use of the Patriot Act

For more than two years, a handful of Democrats on the Senate intelligence committee have warned that the government is secretly interpreting its surveillance powers under the Patriot Act in a way that would be alarming if the public – or even others in Congress – knew about it. On Thursday, two of those senators – Ron Wyden of Oregon and Mark Udall of Colorado – went further. They said a top-secret intelligence operation that is based on that secret legal theory is not as crucial to national security as executive branch officials have maintained. The senators, who also said that Americans would be “stunned” to know what the government thought the Patriot Act allowed it to do, made their remarks in a letter to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. after a Justice Department official last month told a judge that disclosing anything about the program “could be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security of the United States.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/16/us/politics/democratic-senators-warn-about-use-of-patriot-act.html?_r=1

Economy

UK could lose coveted AAA rating, warns Fitch

Britain’s hopes of retaining its prized triple-A credit rating were dealt a blow last night after Fitch said the country was more likely than not to be downgraded.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/9144551/UK-could-lose-coveted-AAA-rating-warns-Fitch.html

The Global Economy is Now More Vulnerable to Oil Prices than Ever

This paper examines the impact of oil price changes on global economic growth. Unlike some recent studies, this paper finds that oil price rises have had significant negative impacts on world economic growth. A time-series analysis of the data from 1971 to 2010 finds that an increase in real oil price by 10 dollars is associated with a reduction of world economic growth rate by between 0.4 and 1% in the following year. As oil prices approach historical highs, the global economy may be vulnerable to another oil price shock.

http://oilprice.com/Energy/Oil-Prices/The-Global-Economy-is-Now-More-Vulnerable-to-Oil-Prices-than-Ever.html

Gold “Vulnerable” as U.S. Treasury Bond Market Sell-Off Worsens

The WHOLESALE-MARKET gold price twice rose within a few cents of $1650 per ounce in London Thursday morning, adding 0.9% from yesterday’s fresh 8-week low as industrial commodities ticked lower again.

The price of silver bullion rallied 2.3% to $32.40 per ounce, but remained over 5% down for the week so far, being “very much influenced” by the gold price according to one Swiss precious-metals dealer.

http://www.marketoracle.co.uk/Article33621.html

Europe’s Economic Crisis: Portugal, Ireland, Spain, Italy and Belgium Following Greece

It isn’t over until it is over. Of course, we are referring to Europe and its version of 1984. We find it profound that the bankers, politicians and bureaucrats of Europe can do what they have done with a straight face. Investor had a haircut shoved down their throats and the ECB, the European Central Bank and the IMF were exempt.

http://www.marketoracle.co.uk/Article33614.html

Retail sales suggest consumers shrugging off gas prices

Dave Prokupek doesn’t like the high price of gasoline either. But business is good enough at Smashburger that the chain where Prokupek is CEO opened its 150th restaurant Wednesday, and plans to open up to 75 this year, even though eating out is theoretically the first thing gas-strapped consumers would trim.

http://www.usatoday.com/money/economy/story/2012-03-14/gas-prices-consumer-spending/53536216/1

S&P 500 ends best week since December with quiet day

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The S&P 500 closed out its best week in three months with a slim gain on Friday as investors continued to propel equities near four-year highs.

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/p-ends-over-1-400-024934926.html;_ylt=ApQL0mCH094ssRZYbqrtjyiiuYdG;_ylu=X3oDMTQzcjhzN29wBG1pdANGaW5hbmNlIEZQIEp1bWJvdHJvbiBMaXRlBHBrZwM4NmU2MDcwOC1mNmVhLTNkMDUtYWUzZC0yMjI0OWUzZjI0MjIEcG9zAzEEc2VjA2p1bWJvdHJvbgR2ZXIDZTc4ODAwZDAtNmYxMi0xMWUxLTk2NmItNzIxM2Q2ZDI2ZmJl;_ylg=X3oDMTFvdnRqYzJoBGludGwDdXMEbGFuZwNlbi11cwRwc3RhaWQDBHBzdGNhdANob21lBHB0A3NlY3Rpb25zBHRlc3QD;_ylv=3

Jobless claims fall, manufacturing holds up

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) – Economic growth showed signs of becoming more self-sustaining as the number of Americans claiming new jobless benefits fell back to a four-year low last week and manufacturing activity in the Northeast picked up this month.

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/jobless-claims-fall-manufacturing-holds-025406890.html;_ylt=AvsoQHMJwEqo4vsQWGfhQHqiuYdG;_ylu=X3oDMTQ0NWxhc2xjBG1pdANGaW5hbmNlIEZQIFRvcCBTdG9yeSBSaWdodARwa2cDYTFkNjVjNjktNjY3Ny0zY2RmLTg4MzQtYjdkODNjY2NkZTQ0BHBvcwMxBHNlYwN0b3Bfc3RvcnkEdmVyAzk4YWNmOGMwLTZmMTMtMTFlMS1iNWZmLWZmOTYwOTBjZDY4OA–;_ylg=X3oDMTFvdnRqYzJoBGludGwDdXMEbGFuZwNlbi11cwRwc3RhaWQDBHBzdGNhdANob21lBHB0A3NlY3Rpb25zBHRlc3QD;_ylv=3

Secret “Occult Economy” Coming Out of the Shadows?

During December 2011 and January 2012, I wrote two articles dealing with the announcement of two different lawsuits being filed in U.S. District Courts regarding astronomical amounts of money in the forms of U.S. Bonds, Federal Reserve Notes, foreign government-issued bonds, and other financial instruments.

http://www.activistpost.com/2012/03/secret-occult-economy-coming-out-of.html

Appropriators warn legislative agencies of further funding cuts

By Debbie Siegelbaum

Members of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on The Legislative Branch are warning congressional agencies that the current atmosphere of economic austerity will likely not abate any time soon.

http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/216321-senate-appropriators-warn-legislative-agencies-of-further-funding-cuts

CBO finds Obama budget adds $3.5T to deficits

By Erik Wasson

President Obama’s 2013 budget would add $3.5 trillion to annual deficits through 2022, according to a new estimate from the Congressional Budget Office.

It also would raise the deficit next year by $365 billion, according to the non-partisan office.

The CBO estimate is in sharp contrast to the White House claims last month that the Obama budget would reduce deficits by $3.2 trillion over the next decade.?

http://thehill.com/blogs/on-the-money/budget/216397-obama-budget-adds-35-trillion-in-deficits-cbo-finds

Fourth straight monthly fall in FDI

Foreign direct investment (FDI) shrank in February from a year earlier, the fourth straight fall, while investment from Europe witnessed a sharp decline, according to the Ministry of Commerce.

Experts were not optimistic about the inflow of foreign investment into China as the European debt crisis continues and domestic economic growth slows down.

http://usa.chinadaily.com.cn/business/2012-03/16/content_14847086.htm

The View From Muppetland

Veena Trehan, Op-Ed:

Banks relentless search for profits has racked up immense “collateral damage”. Investment banks have injured individuals and institutions of every stripe. Institutions include the country Greece whose books Goldman cooked; Jefferson County, Alabama, and many European cities devastated by risky derivatives; colleges like the University of Virginia and Harvard who have held cut-rate sales on private equity; and pension funds and others who sued for fraudulent trades.

http://www.nationofchange.org/view-muppetland-1331903343

Four Whistleblowers Who Sounded the Alarm on Banks’ Mortgage Shenanigans

Cora Currier, News Analysis:

“Buried in the sweeping mortgage settlement with banks, for which final documents were filed this week, are five whistleblower cases that shed light on the litany of foreclosure abuses by the banks. According to one suit, Bank of America allegedly passed bad loans on to the Federal Housing Administration. According to another, the bank allegedly denied qualified homeowners access to HAMP, the government’s loan modification program.”

http://www.nationofchange.org/four-whistleblowers-who-sounded-alarm-banks-mortgage-shenanigans-1331912410

Wars and Rumors of War

Azerbaijan arrests 22 of their own citizens for allegedly being Iranian spies

The Azerbaijani government has announced the arrest of 22 of their own citizens who they claim are Iranian spies.

The tensions between Iran and neighboring Azerbaijan have only increased over recent months and this latest announcement is, without a doubt, not going to make anything less heated.

http://www.blacklistednews.com/Azerbaijan_arrests_22_of_their_own_citizens_for_allegedly_being_Iranian_spies/18467/0/38/38/Y/M.html

GOP senator dismisses ‘CliffsNotes’ explanation for killing citizens abroad

By Jordy Yager

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) on Thursday demanded that the White House hand over documents that detail the administration’s legal case for killing U.S. citizens abroad who are believed to be terrorist threats.

http://thehill.com/blogs/defcon-hill/policy-and-strategy/216263-gop-senator-dismisses-holders-cliffs-notes-explanation-for-killing-citizens-abroad

Obama: Window for diplomacy in Iran shrinking

US President says administration will do “everything we can” for diplomatic solution, but urges Tehran to negotiate.

http://www.jpost.com/IranianThreat/News/Article.aspx?id=261878

U.K’s Cameron: No justification for Israeli attack on Iran

In interview to NBC’s Brian Williams, British Prime Minister says Iran could maintain a civilian nuclear project if it did away with the military aspects of its program.

http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/u-k-s-cameron-no-justification-for-israeli-attack-on-iran-1.419068

US admits Israel is arming and training terrorist groups to create terrorism

Uploaded by 91177info on Feb 9, 2012

So much for this War on Terror! It is actually War OF Terror. This is proof THEY are creating terror directly and indirectly. This was shown live on US television !!

Deadly attacks on Iranian nuclear scientists are being carried out by an Iranian dissident group that is financed, trained and armed by Israel’s secret service, U.S. officials tell NBC News, confirming charges leveled by Iran’s leaders.
The group, the People’s Mujahedin of Iran, has long been designated as a terrorist group by the United States, accused of killing American servicemen and contractors in the 1970s and supporting the takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran before breaking with the Iranian mullahs in 1980.

The attacks, which have  U.S. Embassy in Tehran since 2007 and may have destroyed a missile research and development site, have been carried out in dramatic fashion, with motorcycle-borne assailants often attaching small magnetic bombs to the exterior of the victims’ cars.

U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Obama administration is aware of the assassination campaign but has no direct involvement.

Currency Wars: Iran’s banks to be blocked from global banking system

Swift, the body that handles global banking transactions, says it will cut Iran’s banks out of the system on Saturday to enforce sanctions.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-17390456

78 Percent of Americans Oppose Invading Syria

Strong Opposition Also Seen to Arming Rebels

http://news.antiwar.com/2012/03/15/78-percent-of-americans-oppose-invading-syria/

Environmental

Proposed UN Environmental Constitution For The World Would Establish An Incredibly Repressive System Of Global Governance

Most people have no idea that the United Nations has been drafting an environmental constitution for the world that is intended to supersede all existing national laws. This document has a working title of “Draft International Covenant on Environment and Development” and you can read the entire thing right here. Work on this proposed world environmental constitution has been going on since 1995, and the fourth edition was issued to UN member states on September 22nd, 2010. This document is intended to become a permanent binding treaty and it would establish an incredibly repressive system of global governance.

http://endoftheamericandream.com/archives/proposed-un-environmental-constitution-for-the-world-would-establish-an-incredibly-repressive-system-of-global-governance

Activism

Occupy-Monsanto to Wear Bio-Hazmat Suits as They Protest a Genetically Modified Congress

News Report: The GCU will arrive at the metro station wearing bio-hazmat suits to assess whether Members of Congress and their staff have been victims of genetic crimes. The GCU will hold a banner that reads, “Congress is Genetically Modified,” as they circulate on Capitol Hill sidewalks. This day of action is part of a larger international call to ‘Occupy Monsanto’ taking place all over the globe including Spain, Africa, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, and at least 28 cities throughout the US.

http://www.nationofchange.org/occupy-monsanto-wear-bio-hazmat-suits-they-protest-genetically-modified-congress-1331912438

The American Spring: A Time for Occupy to Blossom

Kevin Zeese, News Report:

The weekend of March 31st and April 1st includes a two day “Bail Out America” direct action training organized by the Backbone Campaign which will provide information on strategies and tactics and developing creative actions that advance the causes of Occupy.

http://www.nationofchange.org/american-spring-time-occupy-blossom-1331906460

Cyber Space

House Dems demand meeting with Apple over privacy policy for iPhone, iPad apps

By Brendan Sasso

Two prominent House Democrats demanded a briefing with Apple over its privacy policies for mobile device applications in a letter to CEO Tim Cook on Thursday.

http://thehill.com/blogs/hillicon-valley/technology/216299-house-democrats-demand-meeting-with-apple-over-privacy

LulzSec-linked STRATFOR hacker appears in court

The Chicago-based hacker who took credit for a devastating computer attack on intelligence company Stratfor made his first appearance in a New York federal courtroom, after his March 5 arrest. Hammond, 27, faces federal charges of conspiracy to commit computer hacking, computer hacking and access device fraud… Hammond chuckled when his attorney, Liz Fink, asked a prosecutor if today was the Ides of March and said, “Et tu Brutus?” a possible reference to the betrayal Hammond might have felt at learning he and other hackers were undone by LulzSec leader-turned government informant [traitor] Hector Xavier Monsegur, known online as “Sabu.” Monsegur’s FBI handler was present but declined to comment after the proceeding.

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/03/15/lulzsec-linked-hacker-who-threatened-to-burn-white-house-appears-in-court/

Radiation

4 more steam tubes fail in tests at troubled San Onofre nuclear plant’s Unit 3 reactor

Four more tubes that carry radioactive water at a Southern California nuclear power plant failed pressure tests, prompting new safety concerns, officials disclosed Friday. The four tubes in a massive steam generator failed Thursday in the Unit 3 reactor at the San Onofre coastal plant in northern San Diego County, Southern California Edison said. Three other tubes failed earlier tests, the company said Wednesday, bringing the total to seven.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/4-more-steam-tubes-fail-in-tests-at-troubled-southern-calif-nuclear-plant-unit-3-reactor/2012/03/16/gIQAhcoHGS_story.html

Heavy tube wear a mystery at Calif. nuclear

Forty-five days after a radioactive water leak prompted a Southern California utility to shut down a nuclear reactor, investigators Friday sought to pinpoint why tubing in the plant eroded at an alarming rate while the prospect of an extended repair job raised questions about summertime power supply. Tests on massive steam generators at the troubled Unit 3 reactor at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, which was shut down as a precaution after the leak on Jan. 31, revealed seven alloy tubes that carry radioactive water are in danger of rupturing under high pressure. Traces of radiation escaped during the January leak.

http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/03/16/2697689/4-more-tubes-fail-in-tests-at.html

UK nuclear sites at risk of flooding, report shows

As many as 12 of Britain’s 19 civil nuclear sites are at risk of flooding and coastal erosion because of climate change global warming, according to an unpublished government analysis obtained by the Guardian. Nine of the sites have been assessed by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) as being vulnerable now, while others are in danger from rising sea levels and storms in the future. The sites include all of the eight proposed for new nuclear power stations around the coast, as well as numerous radioactive waste stores, operating reactors and defunct nuclear facilities.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/mar/07/uk-nuclear-risk-flooding

Misc

The Obama Flag: Who Decided That It Was Okay To Replace The Stars On The American Flag With The Face Of Barack Obama?

Democrat Party headquarters in Lake County, Florida has been flying an American flag with a face of Barack Obama on it. Yes, you read that correctly. The “Obama flag” features a huge picture of the face of Barack Obama in the area where the stars are usually located. To many Americans today, the American flag may be “just a piece of cloth”, but when I was young I was taught that one must never desecrate the American flag. The American flag is our highest national symbol. Millions of Americans have fought and died defending freedom and liberty under that banner. To see a photo of Barack Obama plastered on it is an absolute disgrace. Sadly, there are lots of these flags floating around. In fact, you can buy them online for $12.95. Down in Florida, the chairwoman of the Lake County Democratic Party took down the “Obama flag” after a group of veterans protested, but she also said that she is not promising that she will not put it back up and that she is going to consult an attorney about all of this.

Needless to say, a lot of veterans had steam coming out of their ears when they heard about the Obama flag. Korean war veteran Don Van Beck said that he was absolutely furious when he saw what they had done to the American flag….

http://endoftheamericandream.com/archives/the-obama-flag-who-decided-that-it-was-okay-to-replace-the-stars-on-the-american-flag-with-the-face-of-barack-obama

GRIME WAVE

It’s a dirty job: Police nationwide take on soaring Tide detergent theft

Law enforcement officials across the country are puzzled over a crime wave targeting an unlikely item: Tide laundry detergent.

Theft of Tide detergent has become so rampant that authorities from New York to Oregon are keeping tabs on the soap spree, and some cities are setting up special task forces to stop it. And retailers like CVS are taking special security precautions to lock down the liquid.

http://www.thedaily.com/page/2012/03/12/031212-news-tide-theft-1-4/

McCain sees another Solyndra in Navy biofuels spending

By Carlo Munoz

The Navy’s push to develop biofuels to run its fleet of planes and warships could devolve into a “Solyndra situation” for the Pentagon, a top Republican senator said today.

http://thehill.com/blogs/defcon-hill/army/216261-mccain-warns-navy-biofuels-plan-could-become-another-solyndra

Department of Agriculture to offer beef without ‘pink slime’ to schools

By Mike Lillis

Facing increasing pressure over its embrace of “pink slime,” the Obama administration announced Thursday that it will offer schools ground beef absent the controversial product.

http://thehill.com/blogs/hillicon-valley/technology/216299-house-democrats-demand-meeting-with-apple-over-privacy

Norway Military Plane Lost During Exercise
C-130 presumed crashed; 5 missing

AP) – A Norwegian military transport plane with five people on board went missing today during an exercise and was feared to have crashed in northern Sweden, officials said. The C-130 was heading from Evenes in northern Norway to the Swedish city of Kiruna where it was supposed to pick up personnel. Air traffic controllers lost contact with the plane when it was about 50 miles west of Kiruna, a Norwegian military spokesman said.

http://www.newser.com/story/141930/norway-military-plane-lost-during-exercise.html

Lawyer wants WikiLeaks case dropped

A lawyer for an army private accused of leaking hundreds of thousands of pages of classified information has asked a military judge to dismiss the charges, arguing the government bungled the handover of documents to the defence. The request came during a pre-trial hearing for Private Bradley Manning at a military courtroom at Fort Meade, Maryland. Manning’s lawyer, David Coombs, asked that charges against his client be dismissed because the government has “hopelessly” messed up the document turnover in the nearly two years Manning has been held.

http://www.theage.com.au/world/lawyer-wants-wikileaks-case-dropped-20120316-1vaky.html

State Dept. moves to fire author of book critical of Iraq reconstruction effort

Peter Van Buren, a foreign service officer who wrote an unflattering book about his year leading two reconstruction [sic] teams in Iraq, was stripped of his security clearance, banned from State Department headquarters for a time and transferred to a telework job that consists of copying Internet addresses into a file. Now the State Department is moving to fire him based on eight charges, ranging from linking on his blog to documents on the whistleblowing site WikiLeaks to disclosing classified information. Van Buren called the termination notice he received Friday the coup de grace in a series of blows he received since his book, “We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People” was published last fall.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/federal-eye/post/state-dept-moves-to-fire-peter-van-buren-author-of-book-critical-of-iraq-reconstruction-effort/2012/01/31/gIQAiXNSCS_blog.html

CIA Chief: We’ll Spy on You Through Your Dishwasher

More and more personal and household devices are connecting to the internet, from your television to your car navigation systems to your light switches. CIA Director David Petraeus cannot wait to spy on you through them. Earlier this month, Petraeus mused about the emergence of an “Internet of Things” – that is, wired devices – at a summit for In-Q-Tel, the CIA’s venture capital firm. “‘Transformational’ is an overused word, but I do believe it properly applies to these technologies,” Petraeus enthused, “particularly to their effect on clandestine tradecraft.” All those new online devices are a treasure trove of data if you’re a “person of interest” to the spy community.

http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2012/03/petraeus-tv-remote/

HAZMAT situation: ‘Non-emergency significant event’ declared at Los Alamos –DP Road open after HAZMAT situation on Los Alamos property

With sirens blaring, emergency management vehicles raced down DP Road Wednesday, responding to a Hazmat situation at Enclosure 12 in TA-21. For two hours, DP Road was closed as the LANL Hazmat team, Los Alamos Fire and Police Department and FEMA assessed the situation. Most of DP Road was reopened around 1:45 p.m. as LAPD decreased its perimeter. Capt. Randy Foster said the initial call came into dispatch at 11:53 a.m. The road was closed east of 272 DP Road until the all-clear from the LANL Hazmat teams came in Wednesday evening. The situation has been categorized as a “non-emergency significant event” by the laboratory… Police said a voluntary evacuation was taking place on DP Road. Police said for those who are working on DP Road to remain inside if they chose to stay. Businesses along DP Road still were waiting for an all-clear signal as of 7:30 p.m. An automated 911 call was received at the Los Alamos Monitor at 1:05 p.m. advising all people on DP Road to shelter in place until the all-clear signal is sounded.

http://www.legitgov.org/HAZMAT-situation-Non-emergency-significant-event-declared-Los-Alamos

Whistleblower details unreported mercury spill at Hill AFB

A whistleblower’s claim that a 2007 spill of more than 60 pounds of mercury was not properly reported or cleaned up at this military base, where more than 24,000 military personnel and civilians work and live, has prompted a federal criminal investigation. The Utah Department of Environmental Quality has backed that claim, concluding after an investigation in September and October that the base violated permits because it failed to report the spill and cleanup, improperly stored the cleaned-up material, improperly labeled storage containers that were also not in good condition and failed to inspect containers storing the hazardous waste.

http://www.ksl.com/?nid=960&sid=19583627http://www.ksl.com/?nid=960&sid=19583627&title=whistleblower-details-unreported-mercury-spill-at-hill-afb

The NSA Is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center (Watch What You Say)

The spring air in the small, sand-dusted town has a soft haze to it, and clumps of green-gray sagebrush rustle in the breeze. Bluffdale sits in a bowl-shaped valley in the shadow of Utah’s Wasatch Range to the east and the Oquirrh Mountains to the west. It’s the heart of Mormon country, where religious pioneers first arrived more than 160 years ago. They came to escape the rest of the world, to understand the mysterious words sent down from their god as revealed on buried golden plates, and to practice what has become known as “the principle,” marriage to multiple wives.

http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2012/03/ff_nsadatacenter/all/1

‘Media – West proxy to fuel Syria conflict’

Uploaded by RussiaToday on Mar 14, 2012

Syria’s turmoil has been laid bare on our TV screens for more than a year, but some networks are being accused of affecting rather than reflecting the conflict. Maria Finoshina reports now, on how there’s more to the coverage on the Qatari-owned Al Jazeera TV channel, than meets the eye.

Politics and Legislation

The Hill: McKeon wants to stop sequestration—and previous Pentagon budget cuts

By Carlo Munoz and Jeremy Herb

The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee said Wednesday he wants to reverse $487 billion in cuts to the Pentagon’s budget that were included in last summer’s deal to raise the debt ceiling.

http://thehill.com/blogs/defcon-hill/budget-approriations/216125-mckeon-wants-to-stop-sequestrationand-previous-pentagon-budget-cuts

The Hill: Obama, Cameron toast ‘essential relationship’ at black-tie state dinner

By Meghashyam Mali

President Obama hosted British Prime Minister David Cameron at a black-tie state dinner in Washington on Wednesday night.

http://thehill.com/blogs/on-the-money/banking-financial-institutions/216095-reform-groups-use-goldman-takedown-to-push-for-tough-wall-street-rules

The Hill: State lawmakers blast House GOP’s medical malpractice reform bill

By Julian Pecquet

The nation’s leading advocacy group for state lawmakers wrote to House leaders on Wednesday to share their “strong, bipartisan opposition” to federal medical malpractice reform because it would infringe upon states’ rights.

http://thehill.com/blogs/healthwatch/state-issues/216099-state-lawmakers-blast-medical-malpractice-reform-bill-

The Hill: Dem presses USDA to ban ‘pink slime’ in school lunches

By Mike Lillis

A Maine Democrat is pressing the Obama administration to ban “pink slime” in school cafeterias.

http://thehill.com/homenews/house/216109-dem-presses-usda-to-ban-pink-slime-in-school-lunches

Selling Out Pays
When a Congressman Becomes a Lobbyist, He Gets a 1,452% Raise (on Average)

By Lee Fang

What’s the best way to “buy” a member of Congress? Secretly promise them a million dollars or more in pay if they come to work for you after they leave office.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article30817.htm

UN panel approves sidelined report praising Gaddafi’s human rights record :

A United Nations panel has adopted a report praising the human rights record of the former government of deposed Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, a year after it was sidelined amid international objection.

http://www.newkerala.com/news/2011/worldnews-173120.html

Economy

More austerity needed in Greece: EU/IMF

Greece will have to slash a further 5.5 percent of GDP in government spending in 2013 and 2014 to meet agreed fiscal targets underpinning the second international bailout for Athens, a European Commission report said.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/03/13/us-eurozone-greece-austerity-idUSBRE82C0KP20120313

J.P. Morgan Chase’s Ugly Family Secrets Revealed

In a story that should be getting lots of attention, American Banker has released an excellent and disturbing exposé of J.P. Morgan Chase’s credit card services division, relying on multiple current and former Chase employees.

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/taibblog/j-p-morgan-chases-ugly-family-secrets-revealed-20120313#ixzz1p6CRq0i1

Bank of America: Too Crooked to Fail

The bank has defrauded everyone from investors and insurers to homeowners and the unemployed. So why does the government keep bailing it out?

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/bank-of-america-too-crooked-to-fail-20120314#ixzz1p7dZGHK5

11 Reasons Why America Would Be A Better Place Without Goldman Sachs

Would America be a better place without Goldman Sachs? Of course it would. The “vampire squid” of Wall Street does not care about the future of America. Sadly, Goldman Sachs apparently does not even care much about their own clients. What Goldman Sachs is all about is making as much money as humanly possible. In the end, there is nothing wrong with making money, but there are constructive ways to make money and there are destructive ways to make money. Unfortunately, Goldman Sachs seems to find the destructive path almost irresistible. Greg Smith, the head of the U.S. equity derivatives business for Goldman Sachs in Europe, the Middle East and Africa made headlines all over the world on Wednesday when he resigned publicly from Goldman Sachs in a scorching editorial in the New York Times. Smith said that he could “honestly say that the environment now is as toxic and destructive as I have ever seen it”.

http://www.blacklistednews.com/11_Reasons_Why_America_Would_Be_A_Better_Place_Without_Goldman_Sachs/18458/0/38/38/Y/M.html

Greece on the breadline: HIV and malaria make a comeback

Jon Henley finds a medical aid organisation trying to plug the gaps as the health service nears breakdown

The savage cuts to Greece’s health service budget have led to a sharp rise in HIV/Aids and malaria in the beleaguered nation, said a leading aid organisation on Thursday.

The incidence of HIV/Aids among intravenous drug users in central Athens soared by 1,250% in the first 10 months of 2011 compared with the same period the previous year, according to the head of Médecins sans Frontières Greece, while malaria is becoming endemic in the south for the first time since the rule of the colonels, which ended in the 1970s.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/blog/2012/mar/15/greece-breadline-hiv-malaria

Israeli strike on Iran could mean $6-per-gallon gas

By Ben Geman

An Israeli military strike against Iranian nuclear enrichment sites would spike gas prices to between $5 and $6 per gallon, according to market analysts.

This would be well beyond the record highs hit in 2008, when nationwide average retail prices hit $4.11-per-gallon, analysts say.

“I think you will see $5 and $6 dollar a gallon gas,” said Andrew Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates.

http://thehill.com/blogs/e2-wire/e2-wire/216179-iran-strike-could-mean-6-per-gallon-gas

5 Principles for Money and Banking in a New World System

Eric Blair Activist Post

Increasing numbers of global citizens are becoming aware that the monetary system and international cartel of banks are rotten to the core and represent the root cause of all economic disparity to mankind.

http://www.activistpost.com/2012/03/5-principles-for-money-and-banking-in.html

Foreign buyers are snapping up U.S. homes

With foreign entities wary of mortgage-backed securities, buyers are focusing on individual homes — a welcome occurrence in regions suffering from a glut of properties on the market.

http://www.latimes.com/business/realestate/la-fi-lew-20120311,0,7203197.story

European Zombie Banks and Vampire Governments

The term “zombie banks” refers to banks that refuse to lend to the private sector. They are run by fearful bankers who do not trust other bankers. They do not trust many potential borrowers. According to legend, zombies survive by eating the brains of their victims. It seems to me that zombie bankers must be limiting their diet to brains of other bankers and investment fund managers.

http://www.marketoracle.co.uk/Article33596.html

Making 9 Million Jobless ‘Vanish’: How The U.S. Government Manipulates Unemployment Statistics

When we look at broad measures of jobs and population, then the beginning of 2012 was one of the worst months in US history, with a total of 2.3 million people losing jobs or leaving the workforce in a single month. Yet, the official unemployment rate showed a decline from 8.5% to 8.3% in January – and was such cheering news that it set off a stock rally.

How can there be such a stark contrast between the cheerful surface and an underlying reality that is getting worse?

http://www.marketoracle.co.uk/Article33590.html

Wall Street retreats after rally, but Apple up again

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The S&P 500 broke a five-day streak of gains on Wednesday as investors found little reason to extend a rally that took the benchmark index to four-year highs.

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/stock-index-futures-signal-mixed-094024399.html;_ylt=AidcdvEcpLn4Uz593cgZHlCiuYdG;_ylu=X3oDMTQzZXBscGdlBG1pdANGaW5hbmNlIEZQIEp1bWJvdHJvbiBMaXRlBHBrZwM1ZDVkNjdlYi1mZDU5LTMwYmYtOGJjMy1iMjQ4Y2EzMjU5ODAEcG9zAzEEc2VjA2p1bWJvdHJvbgR2ZXIDZGM5YzFkMjAtNmUxNi0xMWUxLWJiZmItMWM0NDJjOTRmZmI4;_ylg=X3oDMTFvdnRqYzJoBGludGwDdXMEbGFuZwNlbi11cwRwc3RhaWQDBHBzdGNhdANob21lBHB0A3NlY3Rpb25zBHRlc3QD;_ylv=3

Recovery for the 1%, Recession for the Rest

Christopher Petrella, Op-Ed:

“Historically, one of the most problematic features of a neoliberal economy has been the sharp rise in precarious employment, as employers have unwaveringly pursued strategies that ‘flexibilize’ work and destabilize the very concept of job security. Precarious labor in this sense refers to forms of work typically marked by temporary contracts, limited or no social benefits and statutory guarantees, high degrees of job insecurity, low job tenure, sub-standard wages, and high risks of occupational injury and disease.”

http://www.nationofchange.org/recovery-1-recession-rest-1331826118

13 Reasons Goldman’s Quitting Exec May Have a Point

Cora Currier, News Report:

“An executive at Goldman Sachs left the firm today with a bang, penning a New York Times op-ed accusing the company of increasingly putting profits ahead of clients. Greg Smith started as an intern 12 years ago and last headed a derivatives department. Not surprisingly, Goldman quickly and strongly disagreed with his take.”

http://www.nationofchange.org/13-reasons-goldman-s-quitting-exec-may-have-point-1331824190

Homeless In The USA
One Family’s Story In Pictures

By Lucy Nicholson

One in 45 children, totalling 1.6 million, is homeless, the highest number in United States history.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article30818.htm

Wars and Rumors of War

Kony 2012, US War Crimes, Coltan & Depleted Uranium make “Invisible Children”

Uploaded by chatzefratz on Mar 12, 2012

When Americans talk about helping children, then things get real scary; depleted uranium in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Irak, Libya and soon in Uganda – Agent Orange in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. Wrecked children, babies, offspring and human genetics for hundreds of thousands of years – all this while Americans sing about love, showing half naked ladies and their pharaonic signs and symbols. Watch “The Pharaoh Show” from user giureh for total understanding.

Suicide attack at Camp Bastion today looking like more pro war propaganda…

US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta is feared to have been the target of a suicide attack at Camp Bastion today.

http://www.blacklistednews.com/Suicide_attack_at_Camp_Bastion_today_looking_like_more_pro_war_propaganda…/18452/0/0/0/Y/M.html

Australian ‘special forces gathering intelligence in Africa’

The Sydney Morning Herald said 4 Squadron of the elite Special Air Service (SAS) had mounted dozens of clandestine operations in places such as Zimbabwe, Nigeria and Kenya in a role normally carried out by spies.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/australiaandthepacific/australia/9139759/Australian-special-forces-gathering-intelligence-in-Africa.html

Terror, Trauma, and the Endless Afghan War

Amy Goodman, Op-Ed:

“We may never know what drove a U.S. Army staff sergeant to head out into the Afghan night and allegedly murder at least 16 civilians in their homes, among them nine children and three women. The massacre near Belambai, in Kandahar, Afghanistan, has shocked the world and intensified the calls for an end to the longest war in U.S. history. The attack has been called tragic, which it surely is. But when Afghans attack U.S. forces, they are called “terrorists.”

http://www.nationofchange.org/terror-trauma-and-endless-afghan-war-1331826602

Taliban Suspend Talks with U.S.; Karzai Calls for Faster Transition

Ali Safi, News Report:

“The Taliban said Thursday that they had suspended negotiations with the United States and Afghan President Hamid Karzai called on international troops to withdraw from villages in the latest apparent fallout from a U.S. soldier’s alleged murder of 16 Afghan villagers.”

http://www.nationofchange.org/taliban-suspend-talks-us-karzai-calls-faster-transition-1331827784

Netanyahu is Preparing Israeli Public Opinion for a War on Iran

By Aluf Benn

Haaretz’s editor-in-chief says that what looks like a preparation for war, acts like a preparation for war, and quacks like a preparation for war, is a preparation for war.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article30821.htm

Top Ten Media Failures in the Iran War Debate

By Stephen M. Walt

Americans haven’t been well-served by media coverage of the Iran debate.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article30819.htm

Cold-blooded Murder
Targeted Killings: US and Israeli Specialties

By Stephen Lendman

International law permits justifiable self-defense. Targeted killings are prohibited, especially premeditated ones like America and Israel repeatedly commit for reasons other than claimed.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article30828.htm

Why is President Obama Keeping Yemeni Journalist in Prison?

By Democracy Now!

The Obama administration is facing scrutiny for its role in the imprisonment of a Yemeni journalist who exposed how the United States was behind a 2009 bombing in Yemen that killed 14 women and 21 children.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article30820.htm

Pakistan Says End Drone Strikes:

Pakistan has told the White House it no longer will permit U.S. drones to use its airspace to attack militants and collect intelligence on al-Qaeda and other groups, according to officials involved in the talks.

http://bloom.bg/ypQzVv

Netanyahu warns: Israel has defied U.S. wishes before:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday told the Knesset that Tehran was behind the recent rocket barrages from the Gaza Strip and ratcheted up his rhetoric regarding a possible military strike on Iran, broadly hinting that Israel might act even without American approval

http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/netanyahu-warns-israel-has-defied-u-s-wishes-before-1.418719

AIPAC’s Iran “Expert” Briefs Hill Staff on Tehran’s “Terror Threat”:

Ilan Berman, vice president of the American Foreign Policy Council, briefed some 40 congressional staffers on Iran’s support for terrorism worldwide.

http://www.aipac.org/in-the-news?newsid=F3BF617C-9E77-4D33-A0F7-62B160A7798E

Iran strike imminent: Russian diplomat:

“The attack will be mounted before the end of this year. Israel is blackmailing [U.S. President Barack] Obama by confronting him with a dilemma: either he supports the war option or will lose the support [of the U.S. Jews],” a high-ranking official of the Russian Foreign Ministry told the newspaper ahead of the U.N. Security Council meeting on Syria on Monday.

http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/article2995203.ece

SWIFT Cuts Off Iran As Sanctions Vice Tightens :

Iran was effectively cut off from global commerce on Thursday, when the company that handles financial transactions said it was severing ties with many Iranian banks

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/15/swift-iran-sanctions_n_1347361.html?ref=world

Iran food stockpiling grows as grain ships near port: –

Vessels carrying at least 360,000 tonnes of grain are lined up to unload in Iran, Reuters shipping data showed on Thursday, a sign that Tehran is succeeding in stockpiling food to blunt the impact of tougher Western sanctions.

http://af.reuters.com/article/commoditiesNews/idAFL5E8EF6BE20120315

No sanctions on US wheat?
Iran makes second US wheat purchase-USDA:

A weekly export sales report released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Thursday showed that Iran has bought an additional 60,000 tonnes of U.S. wheat.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/03/15/usa-wheat-iran-idUSL2E8EF25S20120315?rpc=401&feedType=RSS&feedName=rbssEnergyNews&rpc=401

U.S. May Sanction India Over Level of Iran-Oil Imports:

India has failed to reduce its purchases of Iranian oil, and if it doesn’t do so, President Barack Obama may be forced to impose sanctions on one of Asia’s most important nations, Obama administration officials said yesterday.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-03-15/u-s-may-sanction-india-over-level-of-iran-oil-imports.html

Pro-government rallies held across Syria:

Millions of Syrian government supporters dashed through streets and main squares nationwide, to stage rallies in support of embattled President Bashar al-Assad on Thursday, according to Xinhua.

http://www.inform.kz/eng/article/2448700

Activism

Reclaiming the Commons: Taking Human Lessons in the Era of H.R. 347, Corporatism and Perpetual War

Phil Rockstroh, Op-Ed:

“With increasing velocity, since the advent of the post-Second World War national security state, then gaining speed with the incessant search and destroy mission waged on the U.S. Constitution known as the War on Drugs, and kicking into a runaway trajectory in the post Sept. 11, 2001 era — the increase in totalitarian impulses, among both the general population and corporate and governmental elite of the nation, has proceeded at an alarming rate.”

http://www.nationofchange.org/reclaiming-commons-taking-human-lessons-era-hr-347-corporatism-and-perpetual-war-1331820296

Cyber Space

US Government Admits It Has Seized Hundreds Of Domains Registered Outside The US
from the this-has-been-happening-for-a-while dept

After the US seized Bodog.com, we pointed to a writeup by EasyDNS that has created quite a stir, claiming that this was the first time that the US had seized a domain that was registered through a non-US registrar by going straight to the register (in this case VeriSign). But as we pointed out, that’s simply untrue. Back in 2010 we wrote about how most of the federal government’s domain seizures went directly to the register.

http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120309/04064518045/us-government-admits-it-has-seized-hundreds-domains-registered-outside-us.shtml

US e-voting system cracked in less than 48 hours

Broken Padlock Icon Researchers at the University of Michigan have reported that it took them only a short time to break through the security functions of a pilot project for online voting in Washington, D.C. “Within 48 hours of the system going live, we had gained near complete control of the election server”, the researchers wrote in a paperPDF that has now been released. “We successfully changed every vote and revealed almost every secret ballot.” The hack was only discovered after about two business days – and most likely only because the intruders left a visible trail on purpose.

http://www.h-online.com/security/news/item/US-e-voting-system-cracked-in-less-than-48-hours-1463881.html

Misc

KONY 2012: Merchandising and Branding Support for US Military Intervention in Central Africa

Edward Bernays believed that society could not be trusted to make rational and informed decisions on their own, and that guiding public opinion was essential within a democratic society. Bernays founded the Council on Public Relations and his 1928 book, Propaganda cites the methodology used in the application of effective emotional communication. He discovered that such communication is capable of manipulating the unconscious in an effort to produce a desired effect –

http://www.blacklistednews.com/KONY_2012%3A_Merchandising_and_Branding_Support_for_US_Military_Intervention_in_Central_Africa/18461/0/38/38/Y/M.html

Justice Department Investigating Whether MEK Speakers Accepted Illegal Fees From Terror Group

Did Alan Dershowitz accept blood money (aka speaker’s fee) from the MEK, a designated terror group? If so, he may’ve violated federal law.

http://www.richardsilverstein.com/tikun_olam/2012/03/13/justice-department-investigating-whether-mek-speakers-accepted-illegal-fees-from-terror-group/

In ‘highly unusual’ move, Marines asked to disarm before Leon Panetta speech

In a highly unusual move, around 200 U.S. Marines were asked to leave their weapons outside the tent where U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta was set to speak during his trip to Afghanistan on Wednesday.

http://worldnews.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/03/14/10684063-in-highly-unusual-move-marines-asked-to-disarm-before-leon-panetta-speech

Automated License Plate Recognition

Uploaded by DeputyKen on Dec 19, 2006

Automated License Plate Recognition currently being used in Central Florida.

Both The Market and Government Are Irrational

By Paul Craig Roberts

Those dependent on Social Security and Medicare are finding that these programs are being blamed for budget deficits caused by multi-trillion dollar wars of choice.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article30822.htm

Welcome to the USA:

Canadian women allege U.S. border groping:

Four female U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers in Detroit are being sued by three Canadian women who allege they were sexually fondled at the border.

http://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2012/03/14/Canadian-women-allege-US-border-groping/UPI-46311331743360/#ixzz1p7C7mig1

Soledad O’Brien on Breitbart’s Bombshell:

‘Where’s the Bombshell?’:

In this CNN clip, Breitbart.com editor Joel Pollak is grilled by Soledad O’Brien in a way I wish more journalists would follow

http://littlegreenfootballs.com/article/40034_Soledad_OBrien_on_Breitbarts_Bombshell-_Wheres_the_Bombshell

Afghanistan massacre by U.S. sergeant reveals epidemic of psychiatric drugging of soldiers

By Mike Adams,

(NaturalNews) The recent massacre of 16 civilians in Afghanistan by a rampaging U.S. military sergeant has something in common with nearly every school shooting in the USA — something the mainstream media typically refuses to report: These shooters frequently have a history of psychiatric drug “treatment” by psychiatrists. Psychiatric drugs are now being routinely used across the U.S. military, where violent suicides have skyrocketed to levels never before seen in human history. 18 veterans commit…

http://www.naturalnews.com/035232_US_troops_psychiatric_drugs_Afghanistan.html