Advertisements

Tag Archive: JP Morgan Chase


Despite Eight Ongoing Criminal/Civil Investigations of JPMorgan, the Bank’s a Law Enforcement Partner With the NYPD

By Pam Martens: November 4, 2013

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly Inside the Lower Manhattan Security Coordination Center

Nothing reveals the incestuous, one-percent-mindset that New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly have with Wall Street than the next to last photo at this link. The photo shows an employee of U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s number one target for financial fraud investigations, JPMorgan Chase, working inside a high security spy center in Lower Manhattan to — wait for it — help the New York City Police Department catch crooks.

While most law enforcement bodies around the U.S. would instantly weed out serial wrongdoers as job hires, Bloomberg and Kelly have created an art form out of joint policing ventures with Wall Street, operating both a rent-a-cop program with Wall Street as well as pumping at least $150 million of taxpayer money into the Lower Manhattan Security Coordination Center where Wall Street employees sit elbow to elbow with NYPD officers.

Under some Orwellian concept of citizen surveillance, the very Wall Street banks that proved they were a far greater threat to the United States than any foreign terrorist when they collapsed the Nation’s financial system in 2008, are part of a joint venture with the NYPD to use high-tech spy equipment to monitor the comings and goings of citizens in the streets of Manhattan – the majority of which, unlike Wall Street, are law abiding citizens.

Last week, JPMorgan Chase revealed in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it is under eight separate investigations by the U.S. Department of Justice. Some of the investigations involve potentially criminal matters ranging from allegations of hiring well-connected family members to get business in Asia; turning a blind eye to fraudulent transactions that Bernard Madoff ran through his business bank account at JPMorgan; rigging the Libor interest rate index; manipulating energy trading markets; gambling in London with insured deposits (London Whale episode); to improper credit derivatives and mortgage bond sales.

One of the most serious crimes for which JPMorgan is under investigation is the decades-long Ponzi scheme perpetrated by Bernard Madoff, which stole $17 billion in actual cash from thousands of investors while producing account statements showing the fictitious portfolios had grown to $64 billion. The fraud left hundreds of families destitute or forced to move in with children.

Outside of Madoff and his employees, no one had a better birds-eye view of this operation than JPMorgan Chase, the bank where Madoff held his business bank account for 22 years. According to lawsuits filed by the Trustee handling the Madoff recovery funds, Irving Picard, JPMorgan knew that Madoff was engaged in an investment advisory business for a broad array of customers but the Madoff bank account that JPMorgan Chase oversaw never showed a payment going to clear or process a stock trade.

 

Read More Here

 

……….

Wall Street’s Biggest Banks Had a Trading Scheme With Madoff

By Pam Martens: October 30, 2013

The trial of five former employees of Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi operation is currently playing out in Manhattan as the U.S. Justice Department weighs bringing charges against JPMorgan Chase, where Madoff had his primary business banking account, for ignoring flashing red lights that a fraud was taking place.

According to lawsuits filed by Irving Picard, the Trustee handling the Madoff recovery fund, JPMorgan knew that Madoff was supposed to be engaged in managing stock portfolios for hundreds of clients. JPMorgan even created structured investments that allowed investors to make leveraged bets on the returns achieved by Madoff. But the Madoff business bank account that JPMorgan Chase oversaw, showed billions of dollars in cash being wired in and out but no payments ever going to any party engaged in processing or clearing a stock trade. Under Wall Street’s Know Your Customer Rule, the activity in the account should have been reported to U.S. regulators because it was completely incompatible with transactions that would be happening in a legitimate investment advisory account.

On October 28, 2008, less than two months before the Madoff Ponzi scheme collapsed following a confession by Madoff, JPMorgan finally did reveal its suspicions to a regulator that Madoff was running a fraud – to the Serious Organized Crime Agency. That regulator is based in the United Kingdom. According to Picard, JPMorgan never reported its suspicions to U.S. authorities.

But there are four other major Wall Street firms and their high-priced lawyers who have some explaining to do. According to prosecutors trying the current case against the five former employees, Madoff was funneling tens of millions of dollars that he was stealing from his investment advisory clients into his broker-dealer operation. Madoff has heretofore said this was a legitimate business. One such check for $31 million was dated December 28, 1999.

That was a little more than three months after Madoff started a business with four of the biggest names on Wall Street, effectively putting these primary dealers to the U.S. government’s Treasury auctions in business with the biggest financial felon in U.S. history.

On September 14, 1999, Citigroup’s Smith Barney, Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch and Goldman Sachs partnered with Madoff to compete with the New York Stock Exchange in a venture called Primex Trading. When Wall Street behemoths create a joint venture with a much smaller firm like Madoff’s, it would be expected that the top law firms on Wall Street would have been crawling all over its books and conducting a thorough due diligence.(Major European banks were harmed in the Madoff collapse. No major Wall Street bank had any serious exposure.)

Madoff had purchased the rights to a new technology called Financial Auction Network (FAN) created by Christopher Keith, a 17-year veteran of technology creation at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). Keith had retired from the NYSE and started a technology think tank in lower Manhattan in the early 1990s called Exchange Lab. FAN was one of the early technology offerings and the rights to develop it were bought by Madoff, ostensibly with stolen customer funds it now appears. The firm that emerged was Primex Trading, a division of Primex Holdings.

 

Read More here

 

……….

Enhanced by Zemanta
Advertisements

News Corp. headquarters in New York. (Photo: Mary Altaffer/AP/DAPD)Here in Manhattan the other day, you couldn’t miss it — the big bold headline across the front page of the tabloid New York Post, screaming one of those sick, slick lies that are a trademark of Rupert Murdoch’s right-wing media empire. There was Uncle Sam, brandishing a revolver and wearing a burglar’s mask. “UNCLE SCAM,” the headline shouted. “US robs bank of $13 billion.”

“The problem: ideology and self-interest trump the facts or even caring about the facts, whether it’s banking, Obamacare or global warming.”

Say what? Pure whitewash, and Murdoch’s minions know it. That $13 billion dollars is the settlement JPMorgan Chase, the country’s biggest bank, is negotiating with the government to settle its own rip-off of American homeowners and investors — those shady practices that five years ago helped trigger the financial meltdown, including manipulating mortgages and sending millions of Americans into bankruptcy or foreclosure. If anybody’s been robbed it’s not JPMorgan Chase, which can absorb the loss and probably take a tax write-off for at least part of it. No, it’s the American public. In addition to financial heartache we still have been denied the satisfaction of seeing jail time for any of the banksters who put our feet in cement and pushed us off the cliff.

This isn’t the only scandal JPMorgan Chase is juggling. A $6 billion settlement with institutional investors is in the works and criminal charges may still be filed in California. The bank is under investigation on so many fronts it’s hard to keep them sorted out – everything from deceptive sales in its credit card unit to Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme to the criminal manipulation of energy markets and bribing Chinese officials by offering jobs to their kids.

Nor is JPMorgan Chase the only culprit under scrutiny. Bank of America was found guilty just this week of civil fraud, and a gaggle of other banks is being investigated by the government for mortgage fraud. No wonder the camp followers at Fox News, The Wall Street Journal, CNBC and other cheerleaders have ganged up to whitewash the banks. If justice is somehow served, this could be the biggest egg yet across the smug face of unfettered, unchecked, unaccountable capitalism.

One face in particular: Jamie Dimon, the chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase. One of Murdoch’s Fox Business News hosts, Charlie Gasparino, claims the Feds are on a witch hunt against Dimon for criticizing President Obama, whose administration, we are told, “is brutally determined and efficient when it comes to squashing those who oppose their policies.” But hold on: Dimon is a Democrat, said to be Obama’s favorite banker, with so much entree he’s been doing his own negotiating with the attorney general of the United States.

But that’s crony capitalism for you, bipartisan to a fault. Rupert Murdoch has been defending Dimon in his media for a long time. Last spring, when it looked like there might be a stockholders revolt against Dimon, Murdoch was one of many bigwigs who rushed to his defense. He tweeted that JPMorgan would be “up a creek” without Dimon. “One of the smartest, toughest guys around,” Murdoch insisted. Whether Murdoch’s exaltation had an effect or not, Dimon was handily reelected.

“Ignorance will kill democracy as surely as the big money that funds and encourages the media outlets, parties and individuals who spew the lies and hate.”

Over the last few days, The Wall Street Journal, both Bible and supplicant of high finance as well as one of Murdoch’s more reputable publications — at least in its reporting — echoed the “UNCLE SCAM” indignation of the more lowbrow Post. The government just wants “to appease their left-wing populist allies,” its editorial writers raged, with a “political shakedown and wealth-redistribution scheme.” Perhaps, the paper suggested, the White House will distribute some of the JPMorgan Chase penalty to consumers and advocacy groups and “have the checks arrive in swing congressional districts right before the 2014 election.” We can hear the closet Bolsheviks panting for their handouts now and getting ready to use their phony ID’s to stuff the box on Election Day with multiple illegal ballots.

Such fantasies are all part of the Murdoch News Corp. pattern, an unending flow of falsehood and phony populism that in reality serves only the wealthy elite. Fox News is its ministry of misinformation, the fake jewel of the News Corp. crown, a 24/7 purveyor of flimflam and the occasional selective truth. Look at the pounding they’ve given Obama’s healthcare reform right from the very start, whether the non-existent death panels or claims that it would cause the highest tax increase in history.

While it’s true that the startup of Obamacare has been plagued by its website nightmare and other problems, Fox News consistently has failed to mention Republican roadblocks that prevented the program from getting proper funding or the fact that so many states ruled by Republican governors and legislatures — more than 30 — have deliberately failed to set up the insurance marketplaces critical to making the new system work. Just the other day, Eric Stern at Salon.com fact-checked a segment on Sean Hannity’s show. “Average Americans are feeling the pain of Obamacare and the healthcare overhaul train wreck,” Hannity declared, “and six of them are here tonight to tell us their stories.”

Eric Stern tracked down each of the Hannity Six and found that while their questions about health reform may have been valid, the answers they received from Hannity or had decided for themselves were not. “I don’t doubt that these six individuals believe that Obamacare is a disaster,” Stern reported. “But none of them had even visited the insurance exchange.”

And there you have the problem: ideology and self-interest trump the facts or even caring about the facts, whether it’s banking, Obamacare or global warming. Ninety-seven percent of climate scientists say that climate change is happening and that humans have made it so, but only four in ten Americans realize it’s true. According to a new study in the journal Public Understanding of Science, written by a team that includes Yale University’s Anthony Leiserowitz, the more that people listen to conservative media like Fox News or Limbaugh, the less sure they are that global warming is real. And even worse, the less they trust science.

Such ignorance will kill democracy as surely as the big money that funds and encourages the media outlets, parties and individuals who spew the lies and hate. The ground is all too fertile for those who will only believe whatever best fits their resentment or particular brand of paranoia. It is, as an old song lyric goes, “the self-deception that believes the lie.” The truth will set us free; the lie will make prisoners of us all.

Bill Moyers

Journalist Bill Moyers is the host of the new show Moyers & Company, a weekly series of smart talk and new ideas aimed at helping viewers make sense of our tumultuous times through the insight of America’s strongest thinkers.. His previous shows on PBS included NOW with Bill Moyers and Bill Moyers Journal. Over the past three decades he has become an icon of American journalism and is the author of many books, including Bill Moyers Journal: The Conversation Continues, Moyers on Democracy, and Bill Moyers: On Faith & Reason.He was one of the organizers of the Peace Corps, a special assistant for Lyndon B. Johnson, a publisher of Newsday, senior correspondent for CBS News and a producer of many groundbreaking series on public television. He is the winner of more than 30 Emmys, nine Peabodys, three George Polk awards and is the author of three best-selling books.

Michael Winship

Michael Winship, senior writing fellow at Demos and president of the Writers Guild of America-East, is senior writer for Bill Moyers’ new weekend show Moyers & Company.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Jon Stewart Goes on Epic Smackdown Against CNBC, FBN ‘F*ck All Y’all!’

PoliticalStar!·

Published on Oct 23, 2013

Jon Stewart does not often dip into the shenanigans of the financial world, but when he does, it’s certainly something to see. And he set his sites Wednesday night on financial networks CNBC and Fox Business Network for their incredibly hyperbolic outrage over JP Morgan paying a settlement fine of $13 billion.

Business analysts are calling the settlement a “shakedown and a jihad.” Stewart took it one step further, suggesting “it’s like if the Holocaust had sex with slavery while the last ten minutes of Human Centipede watched!”

Stewart pointed out how JP Morgan anticipated potential litigation issues and set aside a rainy day fund. “And guess what? It’s raining, motherfucker!” He mercilessly mocked the two networks for their unqualified defense of anyone and everything in the business world, and ended the segment with an impassioned “Fuck all y’all!”

 

……….

 

JPMorgan Chase’s $13 Billion Fine Pales Next To Profits From Crisis Deals

 

The Huffington Post  |  By

Posted: 10/21/2013 11:42 am EDT  |  Updated: 10/22/2013 2:57 pm EDT

If JPMorgan Chase is a scapegoat, it is an extremely well-paid scapegoat: The crisis-era mergers that are costing the bank a small fortune in fines probably have racked up an even bigger fortune in profits.

Many on Wall Street, including the Wall Street Journal editorial page, are in a fit of rage over the news that JPMorgan has struck a tentative deal to pay $13 billion to settle federal charges that it sold bad mortgage securities to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac ahead of the crisis.

The source of the rage is the fact that most of these securities were sold by Bear Stearns and Washington Mutual, two banks that JPMorgan bought in 2008 to help calm the financial crisis.

It seems JPMorgan is being punished unfairly for its kind-hearted assistance to the U.S. government at its darkest hour. That should make JPMorgan and other massive banks far less likely to come to the rescue in the next financial crisis, in Wall Street’s view.

“My only hope,” bank analyst Gerard Cassidy of RBC Capital Markets sobs on the Wall Street Journal’s MoneyBeat blog, “is that the next time a large financial institution gets into trouble and the government calls a large bank CEO to help with a bail out that he chooses not to pick up the phone.”

But before we start playing the world’s smallest violin for America’s biggest bank (by assets), it is worth remembering that JPMorgan and its CEO, Jamie Dimon, knew the risks when they bought Bear Stearns and Washington Mutual. They took the good with the bad, and there will likely be a lot more good from those deals than bad.

When asked for comment on this story, JPMorgan spokesman Joseph Evangelisti pointed to Dimon’s annual letters to shareholders in the past two years, saying “he gives plenty of detail on the pluses and minuses of the WaMu and Bear purchases.” You can read them for yourself, but I didn’t see all that much detail in them. The 2010 letter has a little bit more detail, but no tally of the pros and cons.

In each letter, Dimon brags that the bank absorbed Bear Stearns and Washington Mutual without hurting its capital levels. That is at least partly because JPMorgan bought both banks at fire-sale prices.

 

Read More and Watch Video Here

……….

Enhanced by Zemanta
JPMorgan Accused of Manipulating Energy Markets by U.S. Agency

Pedestrians walk by the offices of JPMorgan Chase & Co. in New York. Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg

Bloomberg News

By Brian Wingfield and Dawn Kopecki

JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM:US) manipulated power markets in California and the Midwest from September 2010 to June 2011, obtaining tens of millions of dollars in overpayments from grid operators, the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission alleged today.

The agency said in a Notice of Alleged Violations that it had preliminarily determined a JPMorgan trading unit had engaged in eight manipulative bidding strategies.

The New York-based bank has agreed to sanctions including a fine of about $400 million in a settlement that may be announced as early as tomorrow, according to a person familiar with the case who asked not to be identified because the terms aren’t yet public. Other sanctions may include forfeiting profits, this person said.

Brian Marchiony, a JPMorgan spokesman, declined to comment on the FERC action.

The case marks another setback for the biggest U.S.-based bank, which sailed through the 2008 financial crisis without a single quarterly loss. Last year JPMorgan lost more than $6.2 billion from wrong-way derivatives bets placed by traders in London. The incident prompted a U.S. Senate investigation, the departure of two senior executives and a debate over whether Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon should keep his chairman role. In May shareholders re-elected him as chairman.

Physical Commodities

JPMorgan said July 26 it may sell or spin off its physical commodities business including energy trading, three days after a congressional hearing examined whether banks are using their ownership of raw materials to manipulate markets.

Commodities chief Blythe Masters oversees the unit, J.P. Morgan Ventures Energy Corp. The wholly owned subsidiary trades and holds physical commodities, including agricultural products, metals and energy, as well as derivatives.

The FERC in November revoked a JPMorgan energy-trading unit’s right to trade power for six months after accusing the firm of providing misleading information to regulators. The suspension, which took effect in April, marked the first such sanction for an active market participant.

 

Read More Here

Enhanced by Zemanta

Late last year the Securities and Exchange Commission approved a plan that will allow JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM), Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE:GS) and BlackRock, Inc (NYSE:BLK) to buy as much as 80 percent of the copper available on the market. Many saw this as a dangerous precedent that would artificially inflate copper prices and leave the power of the copper market in the hands of only a few.

It appears that Goldman Sachs is attempting a similar move with aluminum, the price of which has almost doubled since 2010. Goldman owns 27 warehouses in Detroit that store around 1.5 million tons of aluminum that is owned by customers. The problem, those customers say, is the 16-month waiting time to have their aluminum shipped to processing plants that make anything from cans to car parts.

Read More  and  Watch Video Here

Enhanced by Zemanta

 BREAKING NEWS – “Massive Fire” JP MORGAN gold depo!!!

Ondertube2013

Published on Jul 20, 2013

A journalist on scene on Wall Street filmed footage of a massive fleet of Firetrucks and ambulances in front of JP Morgan’s former headquarters at 1 Chase Manhattan Plaza, with fire-fighters stating they are responding to a COMMERCIAL VAULT FIRE IN THE BASEMENT of JPM’s headquarters at 15 Broad St!
With JPM’s gold inventory plunging 66% Friday to an all-time low of 46,000 ounces, and with reportedly over 502,000 ounces still standing against JPM for the JUNE gold contract, is the long anticipated force-majeure event in progress?

*UPDATE: FDNY tweet confirms fire is in a commercial vault!

http://www.silverdoctors.com/breaking…

Enhanced by Zemanta

Politics and Legislation

 

Chamber, House Republicans leave discord over the debt ceiling behind

By Kevin Bogardus and Rachel Leven

House Republicans who defied corporate leaders by voting against the debt-ceiling increase last summer will likely have the backing of Washington’s most powerful business lobby come November.

Of the 66 House Republicans who voted against legislation to lift the debt ceiling in August, all but one have scored well enough on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s 2011 legislative scorecard to earn a coveted endorsement, according to a review by The Hill.

The Chamber endorses candidates who earn a 70 percent rating or higher on the scorecard over their career on Capitol Hill, according to Rob Engstrom, the group’s national political director. The Chamber’s average lifetime rating for the House Republicans who opposed lifting the debt ceiling is more than 85 percent.

“Do we expect them to vote with us 100 percent of time? Absolutely not. Is 95 percent still an A? It is where I am from,” Engstrom said. “We are not going to leave our friends who were 95 percent with us because of one or two votes.”

Retiring Rep. Ron Paul (Texas) is the odd man out among the House Republicans who opposed the debt-ceiling bill, scoring a 64 percent lifetime rating from the Chamber.

Business groups and House Republicans, particularly members of the freshman class, were at loggerheads last year over the debt ceiling.

GOP lawmakers were elected on promises to shrink the government, not expand its credit line, and raising the debt ceiling became a test of their convictions in Congress’s first legislative session.

Business lobbyists saw the conflict coming, and began an extensive effort to educate freshman Republican members about the issue after the 2010 election. Not lifting the debt ceiling, the lobbyists warned, would throw the economy into a tailspin if the country defaulted on its debts.

“We knew this was going to be a big issue. We were weighing in early and often on the debt ceiling,” said Ron Eidshaug, the Chamber’s vice president of congressional and public affairs. Eidshaug recounted meeting with a freshman GOP House member at a town hall event a week after the 2010 elections to talk about lifting the debt ceiling.

After a brutal political battle, the House eventually approved a deficit-reduction package that authorized a more than $2 trillion increase to the debt ceiling. The vote was 269-161, with 95 House Democrats also voting no.

The debt-ceiling bill was among 16 different House votes that the Chamber placed on its 2011 scorecard. It was given the same weight as the other votes, which included trade deals with Colombia and South Korea, action against the National Labor Relations Board and repealing the healthcare reform law.

“They don’t get a free pass on this. That vote carries with them on their scorecard the

entire time they are in Congress,” Eidshaug said. “We are aggressive on all these issues. We certainly were on the debt ceiling.”

The Chamber continues to tussle with the House GOP at times, most recently over reauthorizing the U.S. Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im). Bruce Josten, the Chamber’s executive vice president for government affairs, expressed frustration last month with the House Republicans who voted against renewing the bank’s charter.

“It makes us upset that some of them went against us. Some of them typically go against us,” Josten said at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast. “There’s some new people that, I would contend, who don’t truly, to this day, understand Ex-Im as a lending facility or the fact that letters of credit and international trade has been around for a thousand years.”

Jade West, senior vice president of government relations for the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors, said it’s possible that the House Republicans could find themselves at odds with business groups once more when it’s time to raise the debt ceiling again next year.

“Is there a possibility of disagreements with that group of conservative House Republicans again? Yeah, sure,” West said. “But I don’t see merit in ignoring several other pro-business votes that they have made and will make. … From where I’m sitting, you take in the totality.”

Nevertheless, Eidshaug said, the Chamber enjoys good relations with the House GOP.

“Look at their scores. They are generally getting As,” Eidshaug said. “The notion that we generally need to bury the hatchet with them is just not the case. … We need to earn their vote, and that’s what we are doing.”

The Chamber will aim to weigh in with television and radio ads in as many competitive congressional races as possible where its endorsed candidates are running. The group will release its endorsements on a race-by-race basis throughout the summer.

Engstrom said the Chamber could be active in up to 53 House races, and 12 for the Senate. He said the Chamber is “on track” to execute the largest, most aggressive voter-education effort in its 100-year history.

That’s welcome news for the 28 House Republican freshmen who voted against raising the debt ceiling — including several who might be facing competitive races in the fall.

Other groups have not been as kind to House Republicans.

 

 

Read Full Article Here

 

 

Some cry ‘coup’ as Egypt’s highest court annuls parliament, military extends power

From Mohamed Fadel Fahmy and Josh Levs, CNN
Watch this video

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Ex-candidate Amre Moussa says the court ruling is “not a political move”
  • NEW: U.S. Sec. Clinton says, “There can be no going back on the democratic transition”
  • The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces declares full legislative authority
  • A runoff vote is set for this weekend between Mohamed Morsi and Shafik

Lea este artículo en español/Read this article in Spanish

Cairo (CNN) — Egypt’s highest court declared the parliament invalid Thursday, and the country’s interim military rulers promptly declared full legislative authority, triggering fresh chaos and confusion about the country’s leadership.

The Supreme Constitutional Court found that all articles making up the law that regulated parliamentary elections are invalid, said Showee Elsayed, a constitutional lawyer.

The ruling means that parliament must be dissolved, state TV reported.

Parliament has been in session for just over four months. It is dominated by Islamists, a group long viewed with suspicion by the military.

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, in control of the country since Mubarak’s ouster, said that it now has full legislative power and that by Friday it will announce a 100-person assembly that will write the country’s new constitution.

 

The real obstacle to democracy in Egypt

The Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s largest Islamist party, said SCAF leaders were taking matters into their own hands “against any true democracy they spoke of.”

The court also ruled that former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik, the last prime minister to serve under ousted President Hosni Mubarak, may run in a presidential election runoff this weekend.

The court rejected a law barring former members of Mubarak’s regime from running in the election.

The runoff Saturday and Sunday pits Shafik against Mohamed Morsi, head of the Freedom and Justice Party, which is the Muslim Brotherhood’s political arm.

Shafik, at a news conference in Cairo, praised the high court for rejecting the rule preventing former regime members from running. “The age of settling accounts is over and gone. The age of using the law and the country’s institutions against any individual is over,” he said.

Mahmoud Ghozlan, a spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood, said a court ruling to ban Shafiq was unnecessary.

What is the Muslim Brotherhood?

“We will put all our efforts into the upcoming elections so that Morsi wins and we avoid the rebirth of the old regime overnight,” he said.

Yet some Freedom and Justice members, including parliamentarian Mohamed el-Beltagy, called the rulings “a complete coup d’etat through which the military council is writing off the most noble stage in the nation’s history.”

Ashraf Khalil, an Egyptian-American journalist and author of the book “Liberation Square,” predicted that the Muslim Brotherhood, which has “shied away” from “straight-up confrontation” with the military leadership, won’t “go to war over this.”

“The activist community, on the other hand, they are very upset,” he said.

Hossam Bahgat of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights decried the court’s decisions in a tweet.

“Egypt just witnessed the smoothest military coup,” said Bahgat “We’d be outraged if we weren’t so exhausted.”

Perhaps guarding against more popular unrest, riot police and military personnel, some in armored vehicles, were outside the court ahead of the rulings. Military intelligence officers were also present.

After the ruling about Shafik was announced, a crowd of citizens shouted their disapproval. Military police moved to block the road in front of the court — a major Cairo artery.

Shadi Hamid, director of research at the independent Brookings Doha Center, called the court rulings the “worst possible outcome” for Egypt and declared that he felt the transition to civilian rule is “effectively over.”

“Egypt is entering into a very dangerous stage and I think a lot of people were caught by surprise,” he said.

 

Read Full Article Here

 

 

 

Johnson & Johnson Becomes 19th Company to Dump ALEC

Johnson & Johnson, a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council’s corporate “Private Enterprise” board and its Civil Justice and Health and Human Services task forces, announced [yesterday] that it has decided to “suspend” its ALEC membership.

“We have been in dialogue with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) for some time, and while we acknowledge ALEC’s recent decision to focus only on innovation and growth-supporting policies, we have decided to suspend our participation and membership,” a Johnson & Johnson spokesperson told CMD.

Johnson & Johnson is an international health care and pharmaceutical company based in New Jersey with revenues of $65 billion in 2011. Its brands and products include: OneTouch glucose testing, Acuvue contacts, Listerine, Aveeno, Neutrogena, Neosporin, RoC, Band-Aid, Tylenol, Splenda, Carefree, and Visine. It also sells prescription drugs, medical devices, and medical supplies including Cordis and Ethicon.

ColorOfChange.org, CMD, and Allies Urged Johnson & Johnson to Dump ALEC

The Center for Media and Democracy’s (CMD’s) Executive Director and former Deputy Assistant Attorney General at the U.S. Justice Department, Lisa Graves, applauded Johnson & Johnson and said its decision “demonstrates that the excellent work of concerned citizens to shine a light on ALEC’s extreme agenda is working.”

19 corporate members have announced they were cutting ties with ALEC since it became clear that ALEC ratified as a “model” bill the law that may protect Trayvon Martin’s killer and other unarmed victims. Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, on which the bill is based, is the subject of a new U.S. Commission on Civil Rights inquiry for racial bias.

ColorOfChange.org, a grassroots organization that aims to strengthen the voice of African Americans, launched radio ads last week targeting African Americans in Chicago, DC, New Brunswick, NJ, and Sanford, FL, with news about Johnson & Johnson’s ties to ALEC. ColorOfChange.org Executive Director Rashad Robinson also penned an op-ed for yesterday’s New Jersey Star-Ledger saying, “It’s time that major companies based in New Jersey, including Johnson & Johnson, realize that membership in ALEC is bad for their customers and bad for the state.”

 

Read Full Article Here

 

 

 

 

Feinstein fires back at McCain as parties battle over security leaks

By Jeremy Herb

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said Wednesday that Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) was wrong to accuse President Obama of hypocrisy for opposing a special counsel to investigate recent national security leaks.

“Senator McCain has his way of saying things,” Feinstein told reporters. “He’s a United States senator — he can certainly say what he wants. I don’t happen to agree with that.”

Feinstein’s pushback against McCain’s hypocrisy charge comes as a major divide has opened between Democrats and Republicans over how to investigate a series of national security leaks, including disclosures about a U.S. cyberattack against Iran, a “kill list” and a double agent in Yemen.

Both Feinstein and McCain are in agreement that the recent series of intelligence leaks is the worst cases they have seen as senators — more egregious than the Valerie Plame CIA leak under the George W. Bush administration.

The partisan fight that’s broken out over the leaks this week stems from deep disagreement over the best way to get to the bottom of the security leaks and Republican anger toward perhaps the most contentious figure in the Obama administration, Attorney General Eric Holder.

Republicans allege that the leak investigation Holder announced Friday, in which two U.S. attorneys will investigate and possibly prosecute the leaks, will not be an independent investigation.

McCain on Tuesday said it was the “height of hypocrisy” for Obama to oppose a special counsel when Obama called for independent investigations of the Plame and Jack Abramoff scandals during the Bush administration.

McCain has introduced a nonbinding resolution demanding a special counsel to investigate the leaks.

Republicans on Tuesday pressed Holder, who could face a contempt of Congress vote in the House Oversight Committee next week, to explain why he and Obama did not think a special counsel is appropriate.

McCain and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) cited calls for independent investigations from then-Sens. Obama (Ill.) and Joe Biden (Del.) during the Plame and Jack Abramoff investigations in the Bush administration.

“There is no doubt in my mind that if the shoe were on the other foot, you and everybody on that side would be screaming to high heaven to appoint a special prosecutor that all of us could buy into,” Graham said told Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) at Tuesday’s hearing.

Democrats, including Feinstein, have rejected the charges from Republicans. They say that the two U.S. attorneys appointed, D.C.’s Ronald Machen and Maryland’s Rod Rosenstein, will operate independently and fairly.

 

Read Full Article Here

 

 

 

Court allows Shafiq to stay in Egypt race, declares invalidity of 1/3 parliament seats

 

The court also declared that some of the rules in a parliamentary election that ended earlier this year and which handed control to Islamists were unconstitutional, the sources said.. (Reuters)

The court also declared that some of the rules in a parliamentary election that ended earlier this year and which handed control to Islamists were unconstitutional, the sources said.. (Reuters)

By AL ARABIYA WITH REUTERS

Former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq was given the green light on Thursday to run for president when Egypt’s constitutional court ruled against a law that would have thrown him out of the race, judicial sources said.

“The Supreme Constitutional Court has ruled that the political isolation law is unconstitutional,” the state MENA news agency reported.

The court also declared that some of the rules in a parliamentary election that ended earlier this year and which handed control to Islamists were unconstitutional, the sources said.

The court found that the seats of a third of the seats in the Islamist-dominated parliament were invalid, stirring fresh uncertainty in the politically divided country.

“The constitutional court ruled unconstitutional some articles of the parliamentary election law related to the direct vote system,” MENA reported, referring to the third of seats elected on a first-past-the-post system.

The ruling military decided on a complex electoral system in which voters cast ballots for party lists which made up two thirds of parliament and also for individual candidates for the remaining seats in the lower house.

The individual candidates were meant to be “independents” but members of political parties were subsequently allowed to run, giving the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party an advantage.

That decision was challenged in court.

The ruling will cast all of parliament’s legitimacy into question. Parliament speaker Saad al-Katatni, an Islamist, had said before the ruling that the house would have to consider how to implement it.

In the absence of a constitution, suspended after last year’s overthrow of president Hosni Mubarak, no authority had the right to dissolve parliament, Katatni said.

He said one possibility would be to hold by-elections for the seats ruled unconstitutional.

Experts have said the parliamentary ruling could lead to the dissolution of parliament or a re-run for the seats affected. The presidential vote that pits Shafiq against the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Mursi will go ahead on Saturday and Sunday.

A judicial body had already recommended that both laws be overturned, allowing Shafiq to continue his bid and possibly dissolving the parliament. The court was not bound to follow that advice, but it was a likely indication of the ruling.

Analysts say that the election drama only two days before the Saturday and Sunday run-off is emblematic of the tortuous and messy transition overseen by the council of army generals since Mubarak was ousted 16 months ago.

“This sort of overhang is a reflection of our current state of affairs. Only days before the election and there is legal uncertainty,” Judge Mohamed Hamad al-Gamal, a former head of the state council, told Reuters.

Seeking to derail presidential bids by senior Mubarak-era officials, parliament approved the law on April 12 to strip political rights from anyone who served in top government or ruling party posts in the last decade of Mubarak’s rule.

That law initially prompted the election committee to disqualify Shafiq. But he was let back into the race on appeal and pending the constitutional court ruling.

In a security message its website, the U.S. embassy in Cairo said any decisions from the Thursday’s court session may lead to protests. “These court decisions may further raise the level of tension as Egypt heads to the polls to elect their first democratically elected president,” it said.

The election pits Shafiq, who is running on a tough law-and-order platform, against the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mursi, whose movement has vowed to uphold the goals of the uprising that propelled it to the forefront of Egyptian politics.

Mursi came ahead with 24.7 percent, against Shafiq’s 23.6 percent, in the first round of voting in May, which saw 13 candidates compete for the top job.

The race has polarized the nation between those who fear a return to the old regime under Shafiq’s leadership and those wanting to keep religion out of politics and who accuse the Muslim Brotherhood — which already dominates parliament — of monopolizing power since last year’s revolt.

“It’s the worst possible scenario,” said Hassan Nafea, professor of political science at Cairo University.

“If Shafiq is elected, this means the revolution has been aborted. If it’s Mursi, the country will be run according to the Muslim Brotherhood program, which most Egyptians reject,” he told AFP news agency.

The difficult choice has garnered support for the boycott movement, largely ignored in the first round of voting.

Now high-profile activists and celebrities are calling on the 50 million registered voters to abstain or to void their ballots, highlighting the fact that the very same judiciary that issued the controversial Mubarak verdicts will oversee the election.

 

********************************************************************************

Economy

How Jamie Dimon’s New Business Model From Hell Could Take Down Wall Street – Again

 

An “Investment” office sans licensed investment brokers is the latest deregulatory mutation on Wall Street.
 

The following piece is a co-exclusive with Wall Street on Parade.

If you want to trade securities at any brokerage firm in the U.S., you’ll need to study intensively for about three months, memorize dizzying rules and regulations, then take a six hour licensing exam. (The exam is so rigorous that it’s compared to the CPA exam. I don’t know if it’s fact or lore, but I was told exam rooms in past decades had puke buckets in the corners.  My room didn’t in 1986.) Then, you’ll need to get fingerprinted, pass a background check, register with a host of stock exchanges, make sure you have a supervisor who holds a principal’s license, get approved in each state in which you plan to conduct business, and take ongoing continuing education classes to keep your licenses.

Or, you could skip all of that and earn $14 million a year trading – without a license – stocks, bonds, swaps, options, futures with $374 billion of bank depositors’ money at JP Morgan Chase’s Chief Investment Office – a unit few on Wall Street had ever heard of until it reported losing billions of dollars in May in the same derivative transaction that made AIG a ward of the taxpayer in 2008.

An “Investment” office sans licensed investment brokers is the latest deregulatory mutation on Wall Street. The other mutation is the JPMorgan model to create an art form out of depicting itself as a “fortress balance sheet” while holding $156 billion of capital and $66 trillion (with a “t”) in derivatives according to financial filings for March 31, 2012 with the Comptroller of the Currency.

Ina Drew, the head of the Chief Investment Office at JPMorgan in New York earned $29 million total for years 2010 and 2011.  She was paid on a par with a hedge fund manager because, in essence, she was a hedge fund manager.  She held no securities licenses so she was ineligible under securities law to supervise others who did hold a license; sort of like an operating room full of unlicensed brain surgeons who never went to medical school.

 

Read Full Article Here

 

 

 

Cenk Uygur: Iceland Shows Bailing out Middle Class Works, Not Bailing Out Banks

On The Young Turks yesterday, Cenk Uygur spoke about two different approaches to the economic bailout.

There’s the US m.o., where we gave “everything to the banks, and nothing to the homeowners” and are, predictably, still struggling. Then there’s the divergent example of Iceland, where initial efforts at complete deregulation failed and the government switched course by indicting those who had “caused the mess” and bailing out the middle class instead.

Take a look at what they did, and how it worked.

 

Watch Video Here

***********************************************************************************

Wars and Rumors of War

 

 

 

Mursi warns foul play in Egypt vote will trigger revolt

 

The Muslim Brotherhood’s presidential candidate Mohammed Mursi urged all Egyptians to unite on the days of the run-off elections. (Al Arabiya)

The Muslim Brotherhood’s presidential candidate Mohammed Mursi urged all Egyptians to unite on the days of the run-off elections. (Al Arabiya)

By Al Arabiya with Agencies

The Muslim Brotherhood’s presidential candidate Mohammed Mursi said on Thursday that foul play in Egypt’s election run-off that pits him against Hosni Mubarak’s last prime minister, Ahmed Shafiq, would be met by “a huge revolution.”

Mursi also said at a news conference that a court ruling that overturned a law that would have prevented Shafiq from running in the race and another that will dissolve the Brotherhood-led parliament indicated “there some who seek, strive for and plan ill against the people.”

The Muslim Brotherhood candidate urged all Egyptians to unite on the days of the run-off elections, scheduled on Saturday and Sunday, against any attempt to forge the elections. He invited the voters to head to the ballot boxes in millions.

Mursi added that the revolution “is continuing and the power will be transferred from the military to an elected civilian authority.”

Earlier Thursday, Mursi said he respected a court ruling that declared as unconstitutional the rules under which Egypt’s Islamist-dominated parliament was elected.

He said in an television interview he also respected the Supreme Constitutional Court’s decision to allow his rival in the presidential election, Shafiq, to stay in the race — though he said the ruling was “unsatisfactory.”

“The ruling must be respected,” Mursi told the privately-owned Dream TV in reference to the ruling on parliament, an assembly in which the Brotherhood has the biggest bloc.

“This ruling does not dissolve parliament,” he added, saying that it only applied to a third of the members of the assembly.

However, the head of the constitutional court had earlier told Reuters that the ruling would mean parliament would be dissolved and new elections held.

 

 

 

Washington provides communication aid, non-lethal assistance for Syria’s opposition

 

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the aid is part of “non-lethal” assistance to Syrians. (File photo)

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the aid is part of “non-lethal” assistance to Syrians. (File photo)

By AFP
WASHINGTON

The United States on Thursday acknowledged providing communication equipment and other forms of assistance to members of the “peaceful opposition” in Syria.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the aid is part of “non-lethal” assistance to Syrians living under President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, and part of a global effort to support Internet freedom.

Nuland declined to elaborate on the aid, but a source familiar with the effort said it includes things such as anonymizing software, and satellite phones with GPS capabilities “to document the location of atrocities.”

Nuland said the Internet freedom initiatives are part of “programs that we do around the world that we’ve been doing with Syrians and many, many other countries for quite a long time.”

These are programs “that help citizens in countries where the Internet is restricted or unavailable to find ways to have access to the Internet so that they can know their fundamental freedom to expression and access to information is respected,” she told a press briefing.

The United States has spent $76 million since 2008 for these programs around the world and has another $25 million that will be allocated this year.

Nuland said that additional aid for Syria “is largely in the communications area” and is “designed to help those who are subjected to government intrusion, government interruption of their ability to communicate with each other, to do so to help support unity among the peaceful opposition.”

Time magazine reported this week that the State Department has been providing media-technology training and support to Syrian dissidents by way of small nonprofits.

Asked about the report, Nuland said it was “greatly over-revved.”

 

 

 

Yemeni army advances on third rebel-held town; 40 militants killed near Shaqra

 

Yemeni troops and tribesmen advanced on the southern coastal town of Shaqra. (Reuters)

Yemeni troops and tribesmen advanced on the southern coastal town of Shaqra. (Reuters)

By Reuters
ADEN Yemen

Yemeni soldiers killed 40 Islamist militants and captured one of their outposts in heavy fighting in southern Yemen on Thursday, local Defense Ministry officials said.

The Interior Ministry warned in a statement it had put security forces on alert following warnings al Qaeda-linked militants might try to launch attacks against civilian and government targets following their defeat in southern Yemen.

The Yemeni army is pushing ahead with a U.S.-backed offensive against the last stronghold held by the al-Qaeda-linked Ansar al-Sharia (Partisans of Islamic Law) in Abyan province after they were driven out from the cities of Jaar and Zinjibar on Tuesday.

A local Yemeni official said heavy fighting had taken place during the capture of the outpost at Wadi Salam, some 20 kilometers (16 miles) west of Shaqra. An estimated 300 Islamist militants were besieged by the army after the outpost fell.

The report could not be independently verified.

Earlier on Thursday, a local Yemeni official and residents said Islamist militants were seen fleeing from the advancing Yemeni army.

Government troops and allied tribal fighters were a few kilometers from Shaqra after retaking an area held by the insurgents on the outskirts on Wednesday.

Many insurgents fled at dawn and headed towards the town of Azzan after setting fire to two tanks and other military equipment, Shaqra residents said.

The militants were forced out of their strongholds of Zinjibar and Jaar on Tuesday in the army’s most significant victory against them in more than a year of turmoil that has taken Yemen to the brink of civil war.

Thousands of soldiers backed by tanks and war planes launched the offensive last month and were joined by local tribesmen opposed to the militants.

The United States has provided training and other support, including drone strikes, concerned its Islamist foes have gained a new foothold in the Middle East.

Their advance has fuelled fears about al Qaeda’s presence in a country next to Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter, and close to shipping lanes.

In Sana’a, the Yemeni Interior Ministry warned that Islamist militants could resort to attacks following its defeat in southern Yemen and said it was beefing up security in the capital and other cities against such attacks.

“Security forces have warned that al-Qaeda, in light of the humiliating defeat, could resort to terrorist operations to take revenge for the great victory achieved by the armed forces in destroying the dens of terror in Jaar and Zinjibar,” it said in a statement.

Ansar al-Sharia had earlier said it would seek to spread the war across Yemen after it was forced to abandon the towns, according to the SITE Intelligence Group which monitors militant websites.

***********************************************************************************

Articles of Interest

 

 

 

By Jordy Yager

The political appointee at the Justice Department responsible for falsely telling Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) that the agency does not allow guns to “walk” into the hand of criminals announced his retirement on Wednesday.

In the Feb. 4, 2011, letter to Grassley — which has been much of the focus surrounding Republicans’ outrage about the failed “Fast and Furious” gun-tracking operation — Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich said that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives “makes every effort to interdict weapons that have been purchased illegally and prevent their transportation to Mexico.”

The DOJ has since taken the rare step to rescind the letter, nine months after it was issued.

Weich, who was the chief legislative correspondent for the DOJ to Congress, is taking a job as the dean of the University of Baltimore School of Law.

 

 

 

By Ben Geman

The House is slated to vote next week on controversial legislation that would exempt the Department of Homeland Security from more than 30 environmental and land-management laws within 100 miles of the border with Mexico and Canada.

The laws covered include the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act, the National Historic Preservation Act and many others.

The provision is part of Rep. Rob Bishop’s (R-Utah) wider border security bill.

The Utah lawmaker contends that policies of the Agriculture and Interior departments — agencies that oversee huge swaths of public lands — have restricted federal border security efforts. Under the measure, the Agriculture and the Interior departments cannot “impede, prohibit or restrict” activities of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

It also gives the border agency “immediate access” to Interior and Agriculture department lands for activities including road and fence construction, use of patrol vehicles and deployment of temporary “tactical infrastructure.”

The bill — which would sunset after five years — is rolled into a larger package of land-use bills headed for the House floor next week.

The Bishop measure “Enhances border security by ensuring that Border Patrol has access to federal lands along the border and is not prohibited from doing its job due to bureaucratic red tape,” according to an announcement of the land-use package Wednesday from House Natural Resources Committee Republicans.

Bishop, when introducing the bill last year, said it takes steps to “address the unacceptable restrictions that prevent Border Security experts from doing their jobs.”

But environmentalists have been battling the plan. Jane Danowitz of the Pew Environment Group said last year that waiving “bedrock” environmental and land-management laws has little to do with enhancing security.

“Instead, the proposed legislation would give unprecedented authority to a single federal agency to destroy wildlife habitat and wetlands, impair downstream water quality and restrict activities such as hunting, fishing and grazing,” said Danowitz, the group’s director of U.S. public lands, last year as the Natural Resources Committee was considering the measure.

Our Floor Action blog has more coverage here of the wider package of bills coming to the floor next week.

 

 

 

************************************************************************************

  • [In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit, for research and/or educational purposes. This constitutes ‘FAIR USE’ of any such copyrighted material.]

Politics and Legislation

Protests Erupt in Egypt As Mubarak’s Ex-PM Secures Spot in Presidential Runoff

Published on May 29, 2012 by

DemocracyNow.org – Sharif Abdel Kouddous reports from Egypt where protests erupted last night after final results were announced in the country’s first-ever competitive presidential election. The top two candidates in the first round of the race are Mohamed Morsi, of the Muslim Brotherhood, and Ahmed Shafik, the last prime minister under Hosni Mubarak — who was ousted in a popular uprising 15 months ago. “[Shafik] speaks the language of Mubarak’s regime and what that means is the retention of broad discretionary powers given to the executive and given to security forces, a very strong role for Security Agency involvement whether the intelligence services or Ministry of Interior Security agencies to ensure stability and control over protests, which as far as he is concerned, are the source of instability,” says Heba Morayef of Human Rights Watch. Morsi and Shafik will face each other in a runoff vote set to begin June 16. Special thanks to Democracy Now! video producer Hany Massoud.

To watch the complete weekday independent news hour, read the transcript, download the podcast, search our vast archive, or to find more information about Democracy Now! and Amy Goodman, visit http://www.democracynow.org/

Filipino government fires top judge

Published on May 29, 2012 by

The Filipino government has fired the country’s top judge, after he failed to declare millions of dollars in assets.

Chief Justice Renato Corona was impeached by the Senate on Tuesday, on charges of betraying public trust, as part of a new effort to clean up corruption in the country.

Al Jazeera’s Marga Ortigas reports.

Protester at Leveson accuses Tony Blair of war crimes!! 28th May 2012

Published on May 29, 2012 by

Tony Blair gets worries as a protester manages to get past security and accuse Tony Blair of war crimes at the Leveson inquiry.

Recorded from Sky News, 28 May 2012

Link added by request:-

http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/tony-blair-appointed-senior-advisor-t…­-chase-56871787.html

Tony Blair Appointed Senior Advisor to JPMorgan Chase

Blair to Explain Murdoch Ties at British Press Inquiry

Alan Cowell
The New York Times
Tony Blair

© Getty Images

London – The judicial inquiry into Britain’s phone hacking scandal was set to hear testimony on Monday from Tony Blair, a former prime minister who sought the endorsement of Rupert Murdoch’s newspapers but once described the press as “feral.”

Mr. Blair’s appearance may, paradoxically, offer welcome relief for Prime Minister David Cameron, switching attention from the close relationship between Mr. Murdoch and the current government to the tycoon’s ties to its Labour Party predecessor.

For much of last week, the judicial inquiry headed by Lord Justice Sir Brian Leveson sought to probe what seemed a cozy relationship between the Murdoch empire and the office of Culture Minister Jeremy Hunt at a time when Mr. Murdoch’s News Corporation was seeking to acquire full ownership of BSkyB, Britain’s biggest satellite broadcaster.

Mr. Hunt, who was the minister overseeing the bid, has been depicted as favorable to the takeover at a time when his role required impartiality. He is to testify before the Leveson inquiry on Thursday.

The $12 billion bid was abandoned last year as the phone hacking scandal broke over parts of the Murdoch media outpost in Britain.

In Mr. Blair’s case, the ties date to 1990s when Mr. Murdoch’s top-selling tabloid, The Sun, swung its support behind Mr. Blair’s Labour Party before the 1997 general election and later took credit for the Labour victory. Two years before the election, Mr. Blair, then leader of the opposition, flew to an Australian island to address News Corporation executives as the Labour Party sought to reverse a hostile relationship with the press.

One of Mr. Blair’s former close aides and allies, Lord Peter Mandelson, told the Leveson inquiry last week that it was “arguably the case” that the relationship between Mr. Murdoch, Mr. Blair and his successor, Gordon Brown “became closer than was wise.”The bonds endured: Mr. Blair was reported in the British media to have acted as godfather to one of Mr. Murdoch’s ‘s children in 2010.

While his government took power on a huge wave of popularity, Mr. Blair’s close alliance with former President Bush in the Iraq war and accusations that he had misled Britons about the conflict contributed to a gradual souring of his relationship with newspapers.

Shortly before he left office in 2007, he told an audience: “The fear of missing out means today’s media, more than ever before, hunts in a pack. In these modes it is like a feral beast, just tearing people and reputations to bits. But no one dares miss out.”

He also quoted a past prime minister, Stanley Baldwin, who berated the news media for having “power without responsibility – the prerogative of the harlot through the ages,” a charge that borrowed from Kipling.

Shortly before the 2010 general election, in which Mr. Cameron came to power as head of a coalition government with the junior Liberal Democrats, The Sun abandoned Labour to swing behind Mr. Cameron’s Conservatives.

Allies Quit Government as Nepal Crisis Deepens

Gopal Sharma
Reuters

© Reuters/Navesh Chitrakar
Nepalese Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai addresses the nation from his official residence to declare fresh elections for November 22, 2012 for the Himalayan republic after political parties failed to finalize the new constitution, in Kathmandu May 28, 2012.

Three parties quit Nepal’s Maoist-led government on Monday as the Himalayan republic slipped deeper into crisis after the prime minister called elections following the failure to agree on a new constitution aimed at ending years of instability.

Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai has called for Nov 22 elections to resolve the constitutional impasse, sparking a backlash from politicians and Nepalis who have seen the country lurch from one crisis to the next after a civil war ended in 2006.

With political rivals calling for the prime minister’s resignation, the desertion of three parties from his coalition may force Bhattarai to step down, but it is not likely to derail fresh elections.

However, the political row could trigger months of street protests and violence in one of the world’s poorest countries, wedged between India and China.

Security forces in Kathmandu remained on “high alert” after clashes between protesters and police injured more than a dozen people over the weekend. The streets were quiet in the capital on Monday, which was a public holiday.

But protesters took to the streets again in southern pockets of the country, angry at the ongoing deadlock.

“Political parties are not interested in a constitution. They simply want power and money for themselves and don’t care about us,” said Bal Bahadur Lama, a 63-year-old laborer in the Nepali capital.

Bhattarai is Nepal’s fifth prime minister since the end of the civil war, which killed more than 16,000 people and ended the rule of a centuries-old monarchy.

Efforts for a new constitution have been scotched by demands for the country to be divided into states along ethnic lines, which triggered violent protests in recent weeks and saw ethnic groups stage demonstrations outside the parliament building.

The call for new elections prompted three smaller allies of the Maoist-led government to quit on Monday morning.

“The prime minister brought the election proposal suddenly without consulting us,” said Ishwar Pokharel, from the Communist UML party, who resigned as deputy prime minister.

“The government has no constitutional or political legitimacy to hold new elections,” he told Reuters.

Critics accuse the Maoists, whose guerrilla army fought against the monarchy during the war, of using the elections as a cynical ploy to remain in power.

Prolonged instability in Nepal, with immense potential to generate hydro-electric power could have regional implications as energy-hungry China and India could compete to influence an unstable neighbor, dependent on aid and tourism.

**********************************************************************************

Economy

MORE THAN 30 BLOCKS OF GREY & DECAY

by Administrator

It happened again yesterday morning. There was an accident on the Schuykill Expressway so I had the pleasure of navigating through the 30 Blocks of Squalor, again. After having made at least 25 posts about the 30 Blocks of Squalor over the years, I keep thinking I’ve run out of things to say. But it seems to be a never ending treasure trove of insights about our society and the people who live in this country. It was a particularly grey day in Philadelphia with a dreary overcast and intermittent rain. It seemed fitting for this trek through the slowly decaying landscape leading to my workplace in West Philly. I’ve talked previously about the stretch of highway leading to the 30 Blocks of Squalor. It’s called West Chester Pike (Route 3) and it cuts through Delaware County where I grew up. It cuts through Havertown, Haverford, Drexel Hill, and Upper Darby and eventually spits you out at 69th Street, where I’ve previously detailed the flash mob of savages rampaging through the Sears stealing everything in sight (all caught on surveillance cameras to be shown on a future reality TV show). In a shocking turn of events, Sears decided to later close this retail establishment.

The 30 minute excursion along West Chester Pike and then the 30 Blocks of Squalor (Chestnut St from 69th St to 39th St) is like traveling through Dante’s nine circles of hell. Every mile leads you deeper and deeper into the abyss. My observations along this route are of a country in a slow methodical steady decline that has been underway for decades and shows no signs of abating.

The neighborhoods and towns along West Chester Pike were occupied by the rising middle class during the 1950′s, 60′s and 70′s. These towns were where blue collar middle class families built a life and raised their families. The fathers worked in factories, refineries, schools, power plants and thousands of other productive enterprises. Americans made stuff back then. Most wives stayed home and raised the three or four children in the small brick row homes or small detached singles that dotted the landscape. These neighborhoods were entirely white and most were church going. Most of the adults had not graduated college, but they were still able to move up the economic ladder through hard work, saving, and living within their means. Their children were guaranteed an even better life if they studied hard, went to college, and got an office job as an accountant, engineer, marketing executive, or in some other promising profession.

This progression began to transform into regression in the 1980s and the slow steady descent has picked up speed. There is now a grey pallor that seems to engulf this once thriving corridor. The houses that were built in the 1950s and 1960s and kept up by middle class families that took pride in their neighborhoods have been deteriorating for years. The homes are in disrepair. The bricks have grown dingy from years of pollution buildup and lack of power washing. Porches and awnings are sagging. The woodwork hasn’t seen a paint brush since the 1970s. Trash is strewn in the streets. Gardens are no longer tended to. Lawns are overgrown with weeds. The inhabitants of these neighborhoods either don’t care or don’t have the financial wherewithal to maintain their homes. On the current trajectory, these once proud neighborhoods will eventually resemble the 30 Blocks of Squalor.

Read Full Article Here

Quebec Student Movement Grows with Popular Support

Published on May 29, 2012 by

People from Montreal’s communities bang pots and pans to show support as students broaden demands

“Inside Job” Director Charles Ferguson: Wall Street Has Turned US Into a “Predatory Nation”

Published on May 29, 2012 by

DemocracyNow.org – Two years after directing the Academy Award-winning documentary, “Inside Job,” filmmaker Charles Ferguson returns with a new book, “Predator Nation: Corporate Criminals, Political Corruption, and the Hijacking of America.” Ferguson explores why no top financial executives have been jailed for their role in the nation’s worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. We also discuss Larry Summers and the revolving door between academia and Wall Street as well as the key role Democrats have played in deregulating the financial industry. According to Ferguson a “predatory elite” has “taken over significant portions of economic policy and the political system and also, unfortunately, major portions of the economics discipline.”

To watch the complete weekday independent news hour, read the transcript, download the podcast, search our vast archive, or to find more information about Democracy Now! and Amy Goodman, visit http://www.democracynow.org/

Keiser Report: Asymmetric Accounting (E294)

Published on May 29, 2012 by

In this episode, Max Keiser and co-host, Stacy Herbert, discuss ‘asymmetric accounting,’ flatulent dark market clubs in austerity London and the $72 trillion claim against Limewire, while President Obama settles for $26 billion for widescale, systemic mortgage fraud. In the second half of the show Max talks to Jan Skoyles of TheRealAsset.co.uk about her campaign to Buy Britain’s Gold Back.

Follow Max Keiser on Twitter: http://twitter.com/maxkeiser

Dewey and Lebeouf Bankruptcy Biggest Law Firm Collapse in US History

Published on May 29, 2012 by

Dewey and Lebeouf, a crippled law firm has made history as the biggest collapse of a law firm in U.S history. The firm filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Monday night, and will seek approval to liquidate its business after failing to find a merger partner.

Dewey is one of the largest law firms in the U.S, and was hit by the loss of the vast majority of its roughly 300 partners to other firms amid concerns about compensation and a heavy debt load. But employees had been warned at the beginning of the month that there was in fact a chance the firm could shut down.

The firm is expected to keep around 90 employees to assist in the liquidation over the next few months. Dewey has stated there was a number of reasons that caused the company’s ultimate demise, including partnership compensation arrangements, capitol expenses and compensation expectations.

Dewy has now already terminated 433 of its 533 New York employees, and the firm will now go down in history as the biggest collapse of a law firm in US history.

Poverty Rate Increasing Among U.S. Retirees

Emily Brandon
US News
pensioner

© iStockphoto

The gap between the wealthiest and poorest retirees is growing

Growing numbers of older Americans are spending their retirement years in poverty, according to a recent Employee Benefit Research Institute study. The proportion of older people living below the poverty line has been growing steadily since 2005, and many of those people are falling into poverty as they age and spend down their savings.

Poverty rates for people ages 65 to 74 climbed from 7.9 percent in 2005 to 9.4 percent in 2009, according to the EBRI analysis of University of Michigan health and retirement study data. For older retirees ages 75 to 84, there was an even steeper increase, from 7.6 percent to 10.7 percent over the same time period. But it’s the oldest retirees who are the most likely to live in poverty: 14.6 percent did so in 2009.

Many older Americans are falling into poverty as they age. In 2009, the most recent year included in the study, 6 percent of those age 85 older were new entrants in poverty, up from 4.6 percent in 2005. And while 3.3 percent of people ages 75 to 84 fell newly into poverty in 2005, that number increased to 5.6 percent by 2009.

One of the biggest drivers of poverty in old age is failing health and the associated medical costs. Most retirees living below the poverty line (70 percent) have suffered acute health conditions such as cancer, lung disease, heart problems, or stroke, compared with 48 percent for those above the poverty line, according to health and retirement study data. And almost all senior citizens living in poverty (96 percent) have some sort of health condition, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, psychological problems, or arthritis, versus 61.7 percent of retirees with incomes above the poverty line.

“Medical expenditures go up for the elderly as they age and medical expenses have been rising over the past decade very rapidly,” says Sudipto Banerjee, a research associate at EBRI and author of the report. “A lot of people have to move to nursing homes, and nursing homes are very expensive. People who live there, they lose their income and assets very quickly.”

Many people also spend down their retirement savings too quickly, especially during recessions. “As people age, personal savings and pension account balances are depleted,” says Banerjee. “Also, the rising poverty rates noted correspond to the two economic recessions that occurred during the last decade. I would expect that as the economy does better, the rates will go down.”

Comment: Alas, the economy is not doing better. As medical expenses have continued to rise and interest rates have remained at virtually zero for the last four years, we can only assume a very sharp increase in the rate of poverty among the elderly since 2009.

Once you have spent your nest egg, your only remaining source of income is likely to be Social Security. Social Security payments are based on your earnings during your 35 highest earning years in the workforce. Those who didn’t work for 35 years get smaller payments because zeros are included in the average.

Poverty rates for women were nearly double that of men in almost all years between 2001 and 2009. In 2009, poverty rates were 7 percent for men and 13 percent for women. And both men and women who are single have significantly higher poverty rates than married couples. When one spouse dies, the total Social Security benefit received by the household often decreases.

The Census Bureau reports that 9 percent of people age 65 and older lived below the poverty threshold in 2010. But there is an incredible amount of geographic diversity in poverty rates, ranging from over 25 percent in Opelousas-Eunice, La., and Gallup, N.M., to less than 2 percent in Pocatello, Idaho, Helena, Mont., and Ames, Iowa.

A recent Urban Institute study predicts that poverty rates for people at age 67 are likely to decline in the future. The analysis projects that 7 percent of Depression-era babies are expected to live in poverty at age 67, compared with 6.1 percent of late baby boomers and 5.7 percent of Generation Xers. However, retirement poverty is expected to increase for people without advanced education. For example, the study predicts that retirement poverty rates for high-school dropouts could increase from 13.5 percent among Depression-era babies to 24.9 percent for the oldest baby boomers.

Older retirees may have few opportunities to pull themselves out of poverty once they have crossed that threshold. The elderly may not have many opportunities for employment, and could be limited by health issues.

The Urban Institute expects retirement income inequality to increase dramatically over time. The study found that among Depression-era babies, the median income in the top income quintile will be 7.5 times higher than in the bottom income quintile. For Generation Xers, the retirement income gap will increase to a factor of 10.4. “More income for boomers and Generation Xers is from retirement accounts and less from defined-benefit pensions, and a larger share of income will be from earnings,” says Barbara Butrica, senior research associate at the Urban Institute and coauthor of the report. “If we look at their [retirement income] replacement rates, Generation Xers and boomers are projected to be significantly worse off on a relative basis.”

***********************************************************************************

Wars and Rumors of War

Annan holds talks with Syria’s Assad

Published on May 29, 2012 by

The massacre in the Syrian area of Houla has prompted Australia to expel two Syrian diplomats, and France now says that it will be expelling the Syrian ambassador to Paris.

Earlier on Tuesday, in Damascus, UN-Arab League peace envoy Kofi Annan met Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, to discuss a peace plan that looks to be in tatters.

Al Jazeera’s Rosiland Jordan reports.

Slaughter Slant: Houla massacre sparks media blame-game

Published on May 29, 2012 by

The most gruesome episode in Syria’s uprising is quickly turning into a PR battle, as each side, and their allies, portion blame for the slaughter in Houla. Just four days after the murders of over a hundred men, women and children – the media has been flooded with images furthering one, or the other agenda.

Commenting on the BBC’s blunder with the Iraq picture, journalist and human rights investigator Keith Harmon Snow says there’s simply no way it could have been posted by mistake.

Recycling the same old propaganda: BBC caught using Iraq photo to inflate massacre by Western-backed Syrian terrorists, then blame it on Assad government

Hannah Furness
The Telegraph

The photograph was actually taken by Marco di Lauro in Iraq in 2003

The BBC is facing criticism after it accidentally used a picture taken in Iraq in 2003 to illustrate the senseless massacre of children in Syria.

Photographer Marco di Lauro said he nearly “fell off his chair” when he saw the image being used, and said he was “astonished” at the failure of the corporation to check their sources.

The picture, which was actually taken on March 27, 2003, shows a young Iraqi child jumping over dozens of white body bags containing skeletons found in a desert south of Baghdad.

It was posted on the BBC news website today under the heading “Syria massacre in Houla condemned as outrage grows”.

The caption states the photograph was provided by an activist and cannot be independently verified, but says it is “believed to show the bodies of children in Houla awaiting burial”.

A BBC spokesman said the image has now been taken down.

Mr di Lauro, who works for Getty Images picture agency and has been published by newspapers across the US and Europe, said: “I went home at 3am and I opened the BBC page which had a front page story about what happened in Syria and I almost felt off from my chair.

“One of my pictures from Iraq was used by the BBC web site as a front page illustration claiming that those were the bodies of yesterday’s massacre in Syria and that the picture was sent by an activist.

“Instead the picture was taken by me and it’s on my web site, on the feature section regarding a story I did In Iraq during the war called Iraq, the aftermath of Saddam.

“What I am really astonished by is that a news organization like the BBC doesn’t check the sources and it’s willing to publish any picture sent it by anyone: activist, citizen journalist or whatever. That’s all.

He added he was less concerned about an apology or the use of image without consent, adding: “What is amazing it’s that a news organization has a picture proving a massacre that happened yesterday in Syria and instead it’s a picture that was taken in 2003 of a totally different massacre.

“Someone is using someone else’s picture for propaganda on purpose.”

A spokesman for the BBC said: “We were aware of this image being widely circulated on the internet in the early hours of this morning following the most recent atrocities in Syria.

“We used it with a clear disclaimer saying it could not be independently verified.

“Efforts were made overnight to track down the original source of the image and when it was established the picture was inaccurate we removed it immediately.”

Iranian Parliament: US responsible for Houla massacre in Syria

Press TV

© AFP/Shaam News Network
UN observers examine bodies at a hospital morgue in the Syrian town of Houla before their burial, May 26

The new Iranian Majlis (parliament) has strongly condemned the ruthless massacre of defenseless Syrians in Houla, saying the US is responsible for the attack.

“The barbaric massacre of the innocent people of Houla, in Homs, is reminiscent of the merciless terrorist atrocities in Sabra and Shatila and is a blatant symbol of terrorist acts and mass murder in this juncture of human history,” the 9th Majlis lawmakers said in a statement Monday.

On May 25, deadly clashes broke out between Syrian forces and armed groups in Houla, located in the central province of Homs.

Head of the UN observer mission in Syria Major General Robert Mood said in a briefing via video from Damascus to an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council on Sunday that UN observers in Houla estimate 108 people were killed, including 49 children and 34 women.

The Iranian lawmakers said there is no doubt the terrorists responsible for such atrocities are armed and trained by the West and its regional allies and are dispatched into Syria by some of its neighbors.

“The US should be held accountable for its incorrect policies in Syria,” they said.

The lawmakers called on the United Nations Security Council to prevent the shipment of weapons into Syria.

Earlier, Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast also condemned the ”suspicious attack” in the village of Houla and stressed the necessity of identifying and punishing the perpetrators.

“The attack has been carried out in order to create chaos and instability in Syria and its perpetrators are trying to block the way to a peaceful resolution,” Mehmanparast said on Sunday.

NOW ethnic cleansing is taking place in Libya (Thanks, NATO)

Karim Shanqiti
al-monitor.com

© REUTERS/Finbarr O’Reilly
A mother and child ride atop a camel as a Tuareg caravan travels north through a remote region of southern Niger July 4, 2005.

Libyan Tuaregs Flee to Algeria Amid Reports of Ethnic Cleansing

More than 55 Libyans from the Tuareg tribe have crossed over into Algerian territory in the last two days through the border crossing at Debdeb in the province of Illizi. They left the town of Ghadames and its surrounding villages out of fear of reprisals by armed groups against certain individuals, and particularly against Tuareg families.

Sources inside the Libyan city of Ghadames told El-Khabar that the Tuareg tribes have been subjected to ethnic cleansing for the past eight months. The Ghadames tribe, which is backed by forces affiliated with the National Transitional Council, is allegedly carrying out these acts. The latter burned and destroyed hostels and stables belonging to the Tuareg tribe and expelled them from the city, forcing them to flee into Algeria.

According to the escapees, many Tuareg members were subjected to “illegal” detention in secret locations under inhumane conditions. They added that members of the Ghadames tribes are searching for Tuareg members everywhere, even in hospitals, to kill and torture them. They have also recently arrested a large number of them, including women.

Tuareg representatives from the Libyan city of Ghadames expressed their fear of physical liquidation by the Ghadamesites, especially after the arrival of a large number of NTC troops who support them to the area in the last couple of days. According to the Tuaregs, the escalation of events have put them in danger, and international intervention is now required to save them from death. Libya has more than 500,000 Tuaregs distributed among the cities of Ghadames, Ghat, Ubari and Sabha, where they have established close relations with some Libyan families.

According to information out of Ghadames, the situation is now stable after a week of armed clashes between young members of local Tuareg families and the Ghadamesites. The latter have waged a war which the Tuareg described as “vengeful.” Fourteen people have been killed, including a military field commander named Issa Tlili, and at least 20 others from both sides have been wounded by gunfire. The Debdeb crossing of the Algeria border is now closed and prohibits the entry of escapees from the deteriorating security situation in Ghadames. These orders come from the highest authorities in the country, as confirmed by official sources to El-Khabar.

Now, hundreds of Libyan Tuaregs who have escaped from hell are stranded at the Algerian-Libyan border and suffering harsh conditions. They are unable to enter Algeria since they do not carry passports or other proof of their identities.

***********************************************************************************

Articles of Interest

Inside Story – Israel accused of ill-treating African migrants

Stuxnet x20: Massive cyber spy virus ‘Flame’ hits Iran, Israel

Published on May 29, 2012 by

A powerful data-snatching virus targeting computers in Iran, Israel and other Middle Eastern countries has been discovered by Russian experts. The worm has been used for years for what seems to be state-sponsored cyber espionage.

Thomas Harkin, Former Catholic Priest Accused Of Sex Abuse, Now Works For TSA

Huffington Post
A Catholic priest who was defrocked in 2002 over sex abuse allegations has a new job…with the TSA.CBS Philadelphia reports that Thomas Harkin, who worked at churches across southern New Jersey before being removed by the Diocese of Camden because he was found to have abused young girls, now has a job as a “Transportation Security Manager, Baggage” with the TSA at Philadelphia International Airport.The station saw Harkin working as a checkpoint supervisor between terminals D and E at the airport even as a new lawsuit has been filled against him for sexually abusing an 11-year-old girl.Karen Polesir, a spokeswoman with the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, told the station, “They should know who they’re hiring…As the public, we are screened to our underwear getting on a plane, and yet they hire a man like that.”Yet a TSA official told the station that his title reflects that he deals mostly with luggage, not people. When asked by CBS Philadelphia if the flying public should be wary of his appointment, Harkin said, “No, they shouldn’t be.”Beginning in October 2007, the TSA “began requiring airports to receive a favorable security threat assessmentresult for all employees prior to issuing airport badges,” according to its website. The airport is in charge of doing background investigations, including checking fingerprints and checking for any of 28 “disqualifying crimes,” according its site. The 28 crimes are not listed, so it’s unclear if sexual abuse is one of them.In Harkin’s case, the TSA said that because the allegations against him were so old, criminal charges were not filed. A spokesman with the Diocese of Camden said that two previous lawsuits against Harkin were settled.In April, it was found that the TSA gave Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson airport (the world’s busiest) license to hire “any workers needed” for the job due to a backlog of background checks. At the time, U.S. Rep. Paul Broun told Atlanta’s Channel 2, “You can’t put unsecured people or people that you haven’t checked in a secured environment.”

Two Thousand False Convictions Documented in the U.S. Since 1989

Scott Horton
Harpers
hands on prison bars

© iStockphoto/helenecanada

This week has been full of illuminating disclosures concerning the American criminal-justice system. Last Monday, a Columbia Law School project showed convincingly that Carlos DeLuna, executed for homicide by the state of Texas in 1989, was innocent of the crime; the project also showed who actually committed the crime. The revelation was shocking in part because DeLuna’s name had never figured among the dozen or more prisoners executed by Texas whose guilt has been vigorously and publicly contested; even his own lawyers seemed to have assumed his guilt.

Four days later, news broke in the case of Cameron Todd Willingham – executed by Texas in 2004 for murders, dubbed the “Texas witch trials,” that involved bizarre allegations of occultism related to the defendant’s love of heavy-metal music – when a state district-court judge reviewing the case concluded that Texas had wrongfully convicted and executed Willingham. The judge, who cited “overwhelming, credible and reliable evidence” presented at a hearing in October 2010, prepared an order of posthumous exoneration, but its issuance was effectively blocked by a state appellate court, which criticized the continued exploration of the Willingham case.

Now, a joint project by students and faculty at the University of Michigan and Northwestern University law schools has assembled the details (.pdf) of more than 2,000 exonerations since 1989.

The ABA Journalarticle on the report notes:

873 exonerations from 1989 through March 1, 2012 [were examined] in close detail, of which nearly half were wrongly convicted of murder. Of those, 101 were sentenced to death….

In half of the 873 detailed exonerations, 43 percent of the cases involved mistaken eyewitness identification, and 24 percent of the cases involved false or misleading forensic evidence. Researchers also noted 1,170 individuals cleared in “group exonerations” related to 13 police-corruption scandals across the country, the Columbus Dispatch reports. It took an average of 11 years, from conviction to exoneration, for wrongfully convicted people to be cleared.

The cities with the most exonerations were Chicago and Dallas – but should not necessarily be taken as evidence of a wrongful-conviction problem in those two cities. Rather, their rankings point to the fact that special projects were launched in both cities to review dubious convictions – often making use of new DNA-evidence techniques – after scandals exposed corruption involving police and prosecutors. Similar scandals erupted in other jurisdictions, notably New Orleans, but no special review efforts took place.

CBS News legal commentator Andrew Cohen asks the obvious questionprompted by the report:

How does this happen? Why are there so many wrongful convictions when there is so much at stake for both the defendants and the victims and when we pride ourselves on a legal system designed to ensure meaningful judicial review? The reasons are legion. It matters where you are convicted, for example, and the color of your skin matters too. And it matters who your police and prosecutors and judges are. The report reveals that in a whopping 56 percent of murder-case exonerations the initial convictions was based upon “official misconduct.”

It isn’t surprising that the system misfires – judges, prosecutors, and jurors are human, and thus fallible. Indeed, the 2,000 instances of exoneration documented by the study are undoubtedly only a sampling of the false convictions produced by the nation’s criminal-justice system since 1989 – they are simply the misfires the system itself has acknowledged. Unfortunately, our system is highly resistant to recognizing such misfires. The data therefore serve to highlight those judicial defenders of capital punishment who insist, as Antonin Scalia has put it, that “capital cases are given especially close scrutiny at every level” – an observation that could only be made by someone who is either woefully ignorant about the actual process or determined to shill for it.

Judicial reticence about exonerations and support for capital punishment rest, at their core, on hollow professions of certitude about case results, coupled with two other considerations. The first is an economically driven perspective that views process as a sort of metered utility, arguing that society can expend only so much time and effort on court activities before reaching a remedy and bringing the proceedings to a conclusion. This view has been applied with special vigor to capital-punishment cases, which in the view of conservatives require far too much judicial time and energy. The second consideration relates to confidence in the criminal-justice system. It argues that once a final conviction has been pronounced, it should not be unsettled lest that confidence be undermined. But this view essentially confuses justice with the vanity of its human actors, especially those prosecutors and judges who fear the embarrassment associated with being proven wrong (a trait which is itself disqualifying of a good prosecutor or judge).

The Michigan – Northwestern exoneration database provides another powerful tool for understanding a badly flawed criminal-justice system. Legislatures, prosecutors, and courts must be challenged to extract from it a clearer understanding of the system’s weaknesses, and to accept with humility the compromised role they have thus far played.

Another phenomenon merits notice here, too: In the war-on-terrorism detention cases, students at dozens of law schools across the United States (led by Seton Hall) played a critical role in disclosing abuse and misconduct by American government actors. Likewise, death penalty and innocence projects have been fueled by the extraordinary diligence of students at Columbia, Michigan, Northwestern, and many other universities. It is remarkable to contrast the complacency and self-satisfaction of many figures at the highest echelons of our legal system with the relentless questioning and demands for improvement from students who are committed to their ideals.

************************************************************************************

[In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit, for research and/or educational purposes. This constitutes ‘FAIR USE’ of any such copyrighted material.]

Politics and Legislation

Deputy PM denies Kremlin cover-up of multi-millions in offshore deals

The Russian Prosecutor’s Office has denied that the earnings of deputy prime minister Igor Shuvalov are related to his job in government. ­The accusations came from several international business dailies that disclosed details of multi-million-dollar transactions involving Shuvalov. They said Shuvalov’s offshore company, registered in his wife’s name, has earned millions investing in the projects of Russia’s most powerful enterprises, among them Gazprom, during the last twelve years – while he has been a deputy prime minister. Journalists believe that it was Shuvalov’s post that allowed him access to the best possible deals…..

http://rt.com/news/prime-time/shuvalov-assets-offshore-corruption-692/

Open mic catches Obama asking Russian president for space on missile defense head

Posted by: CNN White House Correspondent Brianna Keilar In a private conversation about the planned U.S.-led NATO missile defense system in Europe, President Obama asked outgoing Russian President Dmitri Medvedev for space on the issue. “On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this, this can be solved but it’s important for him to give me space,” Obama told Medvedev. “Yeah, I understand. I understand your message about space,” Medvedev replied. “This is my last election,” Obama said. “After my election I have more flexibility.” “I understand. I will transmit this information to Vladimir,” Medvedev said, referring to incoming President Vladimir Putin……

http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/.element/apps/cvp/3.0/swf/cnn_416x234_embed.swf?context=embed&videoId=world/2012/03/26/dnt-keilar-obama-asks-for-space-on-missile-defense.cnn   http://whitehouse.blogs.cnn.com/2012/03/26/open-mic-catches-obama-asking-russian-president-for-space-on-missile-defense/

Children ‘forced to shout Long Live Sarkozy!’ when French president visited their school

By Peter Allen The French president has caused an outcry after dozens of infant school children were forced to chant ‘Long Live Sarkozy!’ when he visited their school. Parents complained about the youngsters being used as ‘propaganda tools’ after they were made to treat Nicolas Sarkozy as a hero, waving Tricolour flags and constantly shouting his name. Some were even kissed by Mr Sarkozy, who is hugely unpopular and widely expected to lose the presidential election being held in France in the Spring…..

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2101337/Children-forced-shout-Long-Live-Sarkozy-French-president-visited-school.html#ixzz1qRhEm135

38 House Members Filtered Government Money to Relatives and Their Employers

Nearly 40 members of the House of Representatives earmarked $150 million to organizations affiliated with themselves and their family members from 2008 to 2010, according to a government watchdog organization. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) reported that although 24 of the earmarkers were Democrats and only 14 Republicans, the top five representatives who earmarked to organizations affiliated with them or their family members were all Republicans: Kay Granger (R-Texas) earmarked $28.3 million to her son’s project. J.D. Granger is the executive director of the Trinity River Vision Authority. Jerry Lewis (R-California) who earmarked a combined $25.5 million to three relatives’ organizations. Bill Young (R-Florida) earmarked a combined $16.6 million to two sons’ employers. In 2008 he herded $4.4 million to defense contractor SAIC’s facility in St. Petersburg, Florida, where son Patrick is a security administrator. Another $8.5 million went to the National Forensic Science Technology Center, where son Billy is a senior consultant. John Mica (R-Florida) earmarked $13 million to his daughter’s client. Mica has five relatives who work as lobbyists, two brothers, a son and a nephew. His daughter, D’Anne, ran a public relations firm whose client, the Central Commuter Rail, received the $13 million. Michael Simpson (R-Idaho) earmarked $12.5 million to his wife’s employer, the Idaho National Laboratory…….

http://www.allgov.com/Where_is_the_Money_Going/ViewNews/38_House_Members_Filtered_Government_Money_to_Relatives_and_Their_Employers_120326

**************************************************************************************************

Economy

British firm discovers oil in Kenya

A British company has announced it has struck oil in Kenya for the first time, beating rivals including China in the race to strike crude. President Mwai Kibaki said it was “the first time Kenya has made such a discovery” and called it a “major breakthrough”. Tullow Oil dug more than 3,000ft into the sand and rock of the country’s northern Turkana region, hitting viable “light crude” samples that suggest Kenya’s oil is of a similar geological provenance as Uganda’s. That country found large deposits, also identified first by Tullow, in 2006 and is expected to begin refining and exports soon. The discovery in Kenya follows more than a decade of exploration across the inhospitable north stretching from the Somali border in the east to the lands around Lake Turkana in the west, where some of the oldest bones of early hominids were found. British, Chinese, Italian and French companies are understood to have been in the race to strike crude first. Tullow Oil was the most recent operator to join the search…..

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/kenya/9167381/British-firm-discovers-oil-in-Kenya.html

**************************************************************************************************

Wars and Rumors of War

US approves $1.3 billion in military aid to Egyptian military dictatorship By Madison Ruppert So much for revolution, and so much for the United States being absolutely and completely broke. Since I wrote the article “Egypt: what revolution?” in July of last year, very little progress has been made. United States Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced that the United States will be giving military aid to Egypt even though there are “concerns that Cairo was not meeting goals in its democratic transition,” according to Azerbaijan’s Trend News Agency. I believe that this is a bit of an understatement, seeing as the democratic transition has yet to occur and, like Libya, the people of Egypt are in many ways worse off than they were before. Instead of addressing the fact that Egypt is being ruled by a military dictatorship, Clinton waived all of the conditions placed by Congress on the $1.3 billion in aid…..

http://EndtheLie.com/2012/03/24/us-approves-1-3-billion-in-military-aid-to-egyptian-military-dictatorship/#ixzz1qRYKkwHI

**************************************************************************************************

Environmental

BP oil spill continues to kill

A can is seen coated with oil that washed ashore from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in Waveland, Mississippi (Joe Raedle/Getty Images/AFP) The infamous oil spoil which gushed for 86 days in the Gulf of Mexico continues to have a rippling effect on the ecosystem. The spill caused by the London based oil giant British Petroleum, is responsible for the deaths of 11 workers aboard the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig which was approximately 50 miles off the coast of Louisiana, and is now being blamed by scientist for the slow death of a brightly colored deep-sea coral community. The laboratory reports which have taken several months have resulted in scientist pointing the finger at one of the most catastrophic oil spills in history. The brown and dull coral which has been left in a state of ruin continues to sway in the gulf which had more than 70,000 barrels of oil pouring into it per day……

http://rt.com/usa/news/bp-oil-spill-contines-612/

Green Climate Fund Wants Immunity from Any Kind of Prosecution

Activist Post

Fox News is reporting that the Green Climate Fund, created by the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), is seeking full diplomatic immunity from “any kind of legal process, including civil and criminal prosecution, in the countries where it operates.” The U.N. enacted the legal framework for the private-public fund at the Copenhagen Accord in 2009, but it was ratified last year during COP-17 in Durban, South Africa. The fund, controlled by a 24-nation board of trustees, received $30 billion in start-up money from U.N. member nations. The function of the Green Climate Fund is to be the facilitator of money between countries. According to Wikipedia they will act “as a mechanism to transfer money from the developed to the developing world, in order to assist the developing countries in adaptation and mitigation practices to counter climate change.” In other words, they are the group that decides where the money gets distributed. Clearly an outfit like this handling such large sums of money would be ripe for corruption. And perhaps that’s why they seek this broad immunity before the wealth transfers begin in earnest. Why else would any organization request immunity if they weren’t anticipating injustices in the actions they take? Their stated objective is to mobilize $100 billion in annual funds. They admit, however, that there’s “a lot of uncertainty where this money would have to come from.” Yet, they have outlined several potential sources of funding that further blends an already dubious relationship between governance and big business….

http://www.activistpost.com/2012/03/green-climate-fund-wants-immunity-from.html

**************************************************************************************************

Whistle Blowers

US needs Assange under arrest ‘while seeking Manning link’ Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, faces an uncertain future. Pr. Marcello Ferrada-Noli told RT why he thinks it’s convenient for the US to have Assange under arrest in Sweden. ­Even considering the particularities of the Swedish legal system, there is the possibility of questioning Assange by various means, by phone, for instance, noted Ferrada-Noli, a Senior Advisor at Stockholm University. But, he added, there is a political reason why Assange is kept under arrest – and why several players are falling into place to let America get its hands on WikiLeaks’ founder. “In the US, the preparations for the trial [over Assange] are seeking a connection between WikiLeaks and Bradley Manning, trying to make Assange accountable. For that they need time, they need to prepare this material. For that, of course, it’s highly convenient to keep him under arrest.” The professor also mentions the biased image of Assange the media has been carefully drawing.

http://rt.com/news/us-assange-sweden-wikileaks-617/

New Whistleblower Emerges at JPMorgan Chase.

The Rumor Mill News Reading Room

New Whistleblower Emerges at JPMorgan Chase.
Posted By: Lion [Send E-Mail]
Date: Monday, 26-Mar-2012 07:54:05

——————
Source: Alcin Bramerton
http://alcuinbramerton.blogspot.com/
New whistleblower emerges at JPMorgan Chase.
JPMC actively involved in manipulation of LIBOR and precious metals futures.
JPMC hid client assets from MF Global. Greece holds hidden derivatives in excess of $1 trillion to which JPMC is a substantial counterparty.
Cascading global credit event imminent.
The following letter was originally posted on the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission website in the public comments section.

Read Letter Here 

***************************************************************************************************

Activism

Bakers Green Acres vs. Michigan DNR – Family Farm Under Attack

Uploaded by Kyle Miron on Mar 21, 2012 A family farm in rural Michigan may be shut down by a Government Entity who has passed a law stating that the breed of hogs they are raising are a threat to neighboring croplands. In truth, the Big Pork Industry has been planning this campaign to take down all family farms with hopes to eventually siege complete control of the American Food Supply. This short-film was created with hopes to inspire the public to take action. The Baker Family website is http://www.bakersgreenacres.com and their battle has just begun. Please join in their fight.

**************************************************************************************************

Radiation

Tokyo Soil – Blanketed With Fukushima Radiation – Would Be Considered “Radioactive Waste” In the United States

Tokyo Slammed with Radiation We noted in August that some parts of Tokyo have more radiation than existed in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zones. And see this and this. There are indications that radiation levels are increasing in Tokyo. Nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen took 5 random soil samples in Tokyo recently, and found that all 5 were so radioactive that they would be considered radioactive waste in the United States, which would have to be specially disposed of at a facility in Texas: ……

Tokyo Soil Samples Would Be Considered Nuclear Waste In The US from Fairewinds Energy Education on Vimeo.

http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2012/03/tokyo-soil-hit-with-fukushima-radiation-would-be-considered-radioactive-waste-in-the-united-states.html

**************************************************************************************************

Psy – Ops

WESTERN PSY-OPS AGAINST SYRIA: When Mrs Assad’s “Shopping” Becomes a “Crime Against Humanity”

by Finian Cunningham

Michelle Obama, the fashion style icon wife of US President Obama, is to have travel sanctions imposed on her by member countries of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, including Russia, China and SCO associate state Iran. Mrs Obama’s annual six-figure budget for designer clothes and accessories is seen as an affront to moral decency at a time when her husband is overseeing foreign wars of aggression, mass murder in several territories using aerial drones, and ordering the assassination of individuals such as nuclear scientists in Iran. The equally fashionista-conscious wives of British and French premiers, David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy, are also reportedly lined up for sanctions in several Middle East and Central Asian countries owing to these leaders supporting the illegal and murderous US-led NATO bombing campaign on Libya. By now, the reader will have spotted the above “report” to be a spoof. However, when it comes to the real world, the European Union is applying such unprecedented measures against the wife of Syria’s President Bashar Al Assad. “EU slaps Sanctions on Assad’s Wife,” read several newspaper headlines after Europe’s foreign ministers banned British born Asma Assad from traveling to EU states, and ordered the freezing of her personal assets. Describing the 36-year-old Syrian First Lady as stylish, glamorous, even sexy, the combined lurid portrayal was aimed at presenting Mrs Assad as an insensitive bimbo in the face of her country’s ongoing violence and misery….. http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=29993 The CIA’s War On Human Consciousness The T.V. Kills Your Brain With The CIA’s Mass Mind Control Gun. “From 1950 to 1962, the C.I.A. ran a massive research project, a veritable Manhattan Project of the mind, spending over $1 billion a year to crack the code of human consciousness, from both mass persuasion and the use of coercion in individual interrogation.” – Professor Alfred McCoy, author of “A Question of Torture: CIA Interrogation, from the Cold War to the War on Terror.” This quote is from Prof. McCoy’s interview with Democracy Now on February 17, 2006. “Our brain is domineering when it comes to coping with reality. We sometimes see things not as they really are, sometimes invent categories that do not exist and sometimes fail to see things that are really there. There are people who have never seen or heard of an aircraft and will not be able to imagine it and a real airplane overhead will be distorted in their minds, creating alternative realities. To recognize that what we call reality is only a consensus reality (only what we have agreed to call reality) is to recognize that we can perceive only what we can conceive. Captain Cook’s ship was invisible to the Tahitians because they could not conceive of such a vessel. Joseph Pearce explains this best: “Man’s mind mirrors a universe that mirrors man’s mind.”” – Bharati Sarkar, “Consciousness – Our third eye.” “Remember: those who are at the top of the heap will always take whatever steps are necessary to maintain the status quo. It is obvious that they cannot completely control the propagation of the information……

http://disquietreservations.blogspot.com/2012/03/cias-war-on-human-consciousness.html

***************************************************************************************************

Articles of Interest

Black Panther who posted bounty for Martin’s killer arrested

The New Black Panther Party member behind the call for vigilante justice against Trayvon Martin’s killer has been arrested. ­On Monday Hashim Nzinga was imprisoned for an unrelated weapons charge. According to a Dekalb County Sheriff’s arrest warrant, Nzinga had a FN Herstal 5.7 x 28 handgun which was pawned. Over the weekend Nzinga announced to the media that anyone who was able to capture Zimmerman, “dead or alive” would be handed a reward of $10,000. The New Black Panther Party’s campaign to track and hunt down Martin’s killer was widely promoted with flyers and press conferences all across Sanford, Florida, the location of the black teen’s death. The radical group’s national chief of staff was arrested during a visit to a probation office by his probation officer….. http://rt.com/usa/news/arrest-panther-zimmerman-new-688/ Citing Potential “Hate,” Feds and Race Profiteers Descend on Florida As race-hatred profiteers like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson whip up a frenzy of hysteria over a hypothetical racial element to the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin in Florida last month, the Obama administration’s Justice Department is reportedly investigating whether or not shooter George Zimmerman can be federally prosecuted for a “hate crime.” And experts fear the situation is spiraling quickly out of control. Some observers are even worried a “race war” may erupt as a group of racist blacks — the New Black Panther Party — offered a “bounty” for the “capture” of Zimmerman, who has not been charged with a crime. “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth,” said New Black Panther leader Mikhail Muhammad during a rally in Florida, leading a group of followers chanting “black power.” “It’s time for us, as black men, to take justice in our own hands. If you won’t give us justice, we will have to take justice,” Muhammad told the crowd. “An eye for an eye. A life for a life.” Local officials and law enforcement condemned the incitement to violence and warned that “vigilante justice” could result in criminal charges. But the anti-Semitic black supremacist group has repeatedly called for violence against whites, Jews, and law enforcement. And during the 2008 election, members of the party were caught on film carrying weapons and intimidating voters at polling places….. Post Pic here http://thenewamerican.com/usnews/crime/11310-citing-potential-hate-feds-and-race-profiteers-descend-on-florida 14 defining characteristics of fascism: The U.S. in 2012 Gregory Patin BlacklistedNews.com When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross. — Sinclair Lewis, It Can’t Happen Here. (1935) In the spring of 2003, ex-corporate executive and political scientist Lawrence W. Britt published an essay in Free Inquiry magazine entitled “Fascism Anyone?” In his work, Britt examined the traits of the two governments that formed the original historical model for fascism, Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, and five other protofascist regimes that imitated that model, Franco’s Spain, Salazar’s Portugal, Papadopoulos’s Greece, Pinochet’s Chile, and Suharto’s Indonesia. He identified 14 characteristics that were common to all of them. These traits have since been widely accepted as the 14 defining characteristics of fascism. Nearly three generations removed from the horrors of Nazi Germany, all of these regimes have been overthrown, but fascism’s principles can still be found in many nations. History tends to repeat itself because many leaders and nations fail to learn from history, or they draw the wrong conclusions. Sadly, historical amnesia is the norm in the world today….. http://www.blacklistednews.com/14_defining_characteristics_of_fascism%3A_The_U.S._in_2012/18642/0/0/0/Y/M.html TSA bars security guru from perv scanner testimony Last minute excuse blocks Bruce Schneier By Iain Thomson in San Francisco • Get more from this author Posted in Security, 26th March 2012 21:03 GMT Security expert Bruce Schneier was been banned at the last minute from testifying in front of congress on the efficacy – or otherwise – of the US Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) much-maligned perv scanners. Schneier is a long-time critic of the TSA’s policies for screening travelers, and was formally invited to appear before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure hearings. However, the TSA objected to his presence because he is currently involved in a legal case over the use of said scanners in US airports. “I was looking forward to sitting next to a TSA person and challenging some of their statements. That would have been interesting,” Schneier told The Register. “The request to appear came from the committee itself, because they’d been reading my stuff on this and thought it would be interesting.”….. http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/03/26/tsa_schneier_congress_block/ THE PENTAGON’S SECRET NUCLEAR AGENDA: “Privatizing Nuclear War” By Sherwood Ross BlacklistedNews.com U.S. corporations that reap billions from making nuclear weapons have “a direct voice” as to “their use and deployment,” according to professor Michel Chossudovsky in a recently released book. What’s more, he says, if nuclear weapons are integrated with conventional armaments, a decision to use nuclear weapons could be made by battlefield generals. On August 6, 2003, on Hiroshima Day, (August 6 1945), a secret meeting was held at U.S. Strategic Command headquarters at the Offutt Air Force Base, Omaha, Neb., that brought together more than 150 “senior executives from the nuclear industry and military-industrial complex,” writes Michel Chossudovsky, Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG) in Montreal. “This mingling of defense contractors, scientists and policy-makers was not intended to commemorate Hiroshima”. According to a leaked draft of the agenda, the secret session included discussions on “mini-nukes” and “bunker-buster” bombs with nuclear warheads “for possible use against rogue states,” Chossudovsky writes in his new book, ” The meeting was intended to set the stage for the creation of a new generation of “smaller,” “safer,” and “more usable” nukes for use, in America’s 21st Century “in-theater nuclear wars”, Chossudovsky writes. No members of Congress representing the public were in attendance. Barely a week prior to this meeting, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) disbanded the advisory committee that had “independent oversight” over the U.S. nuclear arsenal, including the testing and/or use of new nuclear devices…..

http://www.blacklistednews.com/THE_PENTAGON%27S_SECRET_NUCLEAR_AGENDA%3A_%22Privatizing_Nuclear_War%22/18665/0/0/0/Y/M.html

Dominique Strauss-Kahn charged in French prostitution case

Former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn faced preliminary charges Monday of aggravated pimping, or illegal procurement of prostitutes, in France.

Strauss-Kahn was summoned for eight hours of questioning Monday by French judges investigating an illegal prostitution ring operating out of the northern French city of Lille. The former IMF chief was notified that he was being placed under formal investigation, but allowed to leave after paying 100,000 Euros in bail, and agreeing not to talk to others being investigated in the case, or travel without consulting a judge, the Associated Press reported.

French prosecutors in Lille have been investigating an illegal prostitution ring that is alleged to have brought prostitutes from Belgium to luxury hotels in France and to parties in Washington, D.C., and New York attended by VIP clients, France’s Radio France International reported in October. Eight people have been charged in the case so far, including a police officer in Lille and three directors with the city’s Carlton Hotel, the New York Times reported………

Read More  Here

**************************************************************************************************

MF Global: A New Hope In The Effort To Send A Wall Street Big Shot To Jail

************************************************************************************************

MF Global exec tied to money transfers clams up

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – An MF Global executive, who has emerged as a central figure in the desperate shifting of funds before the brokerage’s collapse, refused to answer questions on Wednesday, frustrating lawmakers probing why more than $1 billion in customer money is missing.

Assistant Treasurer Edith O’Brien and other mid-level MF Global (MFGLQ.PK) executives, people who had operational control over money transfers at the brokerage, were called to testify before the investigations panel of the House Financial Services Committee.

O’Brien, a demure-appearing brunette dressed in a somber black dress suit, was excused after refusing to answer questions. The others remained to take scathing questions from the lawmakers who likened the missing customer funds to a grand heist.

The executives were unable to say why the money is missing, and who was responsible for it, keeping open the mystery nearly five months after MF Global filed for bankruptcy and former Chief Executive Jon Corzine resigned from the firm…..

Read  Full Article Here

**************************************************************************************************

Faulty generator blamed for fatal poisoning of wealthy banker and his wife in remote Estonian forest

  • 55-year-old worked as analyst at shady Moscow investment firm

By Matt Blake

A wealthy British banker and his wife died of carbon monoxide poisoning in a ‘tragic accident’ at their holiday home in Estonia, an inquest has heard.

Philip Townsend, 55, worked for a mysterious Moscow investment company, where he was an analyst in the lucrative but murky Russian telecoms industry.

But he and his wife MaryAnne, 52, were found dead at the converted barn near the town of Valga on February 24.

They are believed to have been killed by fumes from a faulty generator.

Police at the time said they couldn’t work out if the deaths were suspicious or not.

Four years ago another wealthy British-based tycoon involved in the Russian telecoms industry vanished from his opulent holiday villa in Latvia.
Read Full Article Here

**************************************************************************************************

Soros Loses Case Against French Insider-Trading Conviction

Billionaire investor George Soros lost a challenge to his 2002 insider trading conviction, with the European Court of Human Rights saying French market regulations were clear enough to hold him responsible.

France didn’t violate Soros’s rights in punishing him criminally for trading on inside information about Societe Generale SA in spite of the market regulator’s conclusion that its rules were unclear, the Strasbourg, France-based court said.

“Soros was a famous institutional investor, well-known to the business community and a participant in major financial projects,” the court said in a statement about its ruling. “As a result of his status and experience, he could not have been unaware that his decision to invest” risked violating insider- trading laws, and given “there had been no comparable precedent, he should have been particularly prudent.”

Soros, 81, was convicted in 2002 of insider trading and ordered to repay 2.2 million euros ($2.9 million) he’d made from the share purchase and subsequent sale after a Paris court found he’d acted with the knowledge that the bank might be a takeover target. While prosecutors filed criminal charges, French stock market regulators didn’t pursue Soros, saying insider-trading laws were too vague to determine whether he’d broken them…..

Read Full Article Here

*************************************************************************************************

Soros Criminal Conviction Exposes “Human Rights” Scam

Soros leverages “human rights” for personal gain – as does his global NGO empire.

Tony Cartalucci, Contributor
Activist Post 

Bloomberg’s report, “Soros Loses Case Against French Insider-Trading Conviction,” indicates that an appeal based on a “human rights” violation against Wall Street speculator George Soros has been rejected by the “European Court of Human Rights.” Soros, who was convicted and fined for insider trading in 2002 regarding French bank Société Générale shares he bought in 1988, has built an empire out of obfuscating global criminal activity with the cause of “human rights.”
The court’s decision in rejecting the appeal was based on Soros being “a famous institutional investor, well-known to the business community and a participant in major financial projects,” and thus should have been “particularly prudent” regarding insider-trading laws. The contents of Soros’ appeal, based on “human rights” was not heard, and the details of the appeal not yet made public, however, it is an illustrative example of how Soros and global elitists like him leverage the legitimate cause of human rights and freedom as a means to execute and defend both individual and institutional criminal behavior……

Read Full Article Here

Politics and Legislation

‘Stability’ Trumps Democracy in Egypt

 

Charles Davis and Medea Benjamin, Op-Ed:

If one only pays attention to what politicians say, ignoring what they do, this may come as a surprise. President Barack Obama, after all, has voiced support for the Arab Spring. He gave a speech in Cairo full of lofty words about the people of the region’s legitimate democratic aspirations. So why would his administration lavish a regime that cracks down on pro-democracy forces with money for weapons?

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/medea-benjamin/us-egypt-aid_b_1376226.html

 

 

The Dumbest ‘Bipartisan’ Move Since Repealing Glass-Steagall

 

Richard (RJ) Eskow, Op-Ed:

The hype that led Washington honchos to name this tragic bill the “JOBS Act” is the same brand of patented b.s. that inspired lawmakers to call Gramm-Leach-Bliley, the law that overturned Glass-Steagall, the “Financial Services Modernization Act.” That act of “modernization” actually turned the clock back – from 1999 all the way back to 1929, stripping away some of the common-sense measures that prevented the formation of too-big-to-fail banks that could gamble with their customers’ money or bring the economy to the brink of ruin – which they promptly did, less than a decade later.

http://www.nationofchange.org/dumbest-bipartisan-move-repealing-glass-steagall-1332569940

 

 

Economy

 

Ten years of Obamacare would cost 1.76 trillon dollars – far more than originally claimed

 

By Ethan A. Huff,

(NaturalNews) According to new spending projections issued by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the costs associated with implementing Obamacare over the next ten years are more than double what the Obama Administration claimed when first pushing for its passage. Through 2022, the gross spending requirements for the federal government to fully implement this progressive form of universal healthcare in the U.S. are an astounding $1.76 trillion dollars, also written as $1,760,000,000,000.

“The ACA’s (Affordable Care Act) provisions related to insurance coverage are now projected to have a net cost of $1,252 billion over the 2012-2022 period,” says the CBO report. “[T]hat amount represents a gross cost to the federal government of $1,762 billion, offset in part by $510 billion in receipts and other budgetary effects (primarily revenues from penalties and other sources)” (http://cbo.gov/publication/43080)…..

http://www.naturalnews.com/035324_Obamacare_health_care_costs.html#ixzz1q9qukB7F

Cairo fuel shortage causes long lines at gas stations

 

The New Straits Times reports that the reason for the fuel shortage isn’t clear:

Petroleum Minister Abdullah Ghorab flatly dismissed talk of a shortage, saying fuel supplies exceed demand. He said the crisis stems from “mistrust between the government and the citizens,” according to the state-run MENA news agency.

Another Petroleum ministry official, Hani Dahi, was also quoted by MENA as saying that there is “a rise in the illegal use of fuel” and calling for tighter security measures to prevent black market dealers selling subsidised fuel at higher prices……

http://photoblog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/03/23/10831029-cairo-fuel-shortage-causes-long-lines-at-gas-stations

Tax breaks exceed $1 trillion

 

By John D. McKinnon

A congressional report detailing the value of major tax breaks shows they amount to more than $1 trillion a year—roughly the size of the annual federal budget deficit—and benefit wide swaths of the population.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303812904577299923495453562.html

AT&T points finger at federal regulators for layoffs at T-Mobile

 

By Brendan Sasso

AT&T blamed the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Friday for thousands of layoffs at T-Mobile, saying the jobs would have been saved if the agency had approved the merger of the two companies last year.

http://thehill.com/blogs/hillicon-valley/technology/217857-atat-blames-fcc-for-t-mobile-layoffs

 

Why Leaving Goldman Sachs Breaks the Rules of the Game

 

Elizabeth Doty , Op-Ed:

Most professionals who hold this second worldview believe that, in the long run, the greatest financial rewards go to whoever creates the most value. Unfortunately, when regulations are distorted or monopoly power comes into play, businesses can be rewarded for actions that do not add value for customers or other stakeholders. For example, by convincing regulators to drastically reduce banking oversight, Goldman and other banks helped create incentives for banks to take irresponsible risks, for which society ultimately bore the cost.

http://www.nationofchange.org/why-leaving-goldman-sachs-breaks-rules-game-1332571268

Why Seniors Could Pay $5,900 More for Health Care Under the Republican Budget

 

Topher Spiro, News Report:

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office analyzed the Republican budget and estimated its effect on average Medicare spending per beneficiary. Under current law, or CBO’s “baseline scenario,” CBO projects that average spending will rise from $5,500 today to $8,600 in 2030 and to $17,000 in 2050. (CBO converted all dollar figures to 2011 dollars to remove the effects of inflation and ensure appropriate comparisons over time.) These numbers reflect the projected trend in health care costs over time.

http://www.nationofchange.org/why-seniors-could-pay-5900-more-health-care-under-republican-budget-1332597060

Wall Street Confidence Trick: The Interest Rate Swaps That are Bankrupting Local Governments

 

Ellen Brown, Op-Ed:

Interest rate swaps are less often in the news than credit default swaps, but they are far more important in terms of revenue, composing fully 82% of the derivatives trade. In February, JP Morgan Chase revealed that it had cleared $1.4 billion in revenue on trading interest rate swaps in 2011, making them one of the bank’s biggest sources of profit.

http://www.nationofchange.org/wall-street-confidence-trick-interest-rate-swaps-are-bankrupting-local-governments-1332571419

MF’s Corzine Ordered Funds Moved to JP Morgan, Memo Says

 

Jon S. Corzine, MF Global Holding Ltd. (MFGLQ)’s chief executive officer, gave “direct instructions” to transfer $200 million from a customer fund account to meet an overdraft in a brokerage account with JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM), according to a memo written by congressional investigators.

Edith O’Brien, a treasurer for the firm, said in an e-mail quoted in the memo that the transfer was “Per JC’s direct instructions,” according to a copy of the memo obtained by Bloomberg News. The e-mail, dated Oct. 28, was sent three days before the company collapsed, the memo says. The memo does not indicate whether that phrase was the full text of the e-mail or an excerpt.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-03-23/mf-global-s-corzine-ordered-funds-moved-to-jpmorgan-memo-says.html

 

 

Wars and Rumors of War

 

Terrorists blow up gas pipeline in Syria: State media

 

Syrian state media say terrorists have blown up a section of a pipeline carrying gas through the eastern province of Deir al-Zour.

The attack was carried out on Saturday, state media said.

This is not the first time a Syrian gas pipeline comes under attack by armed groups over the past year.

In January, Syrian state media also said terrorists attacked an oil pipeline near Quriye area in Deir al-Zour.

An armed terrorist group also blew up a section of a gas pipeline in the central province of Homs near the Lebanese border in January, state media said…….

http://www.presstv.ir/detail/233067.html

US: Journalist fired after calling Israeli occupation ‘brutal’

 

A veteran American journalist has been fired after referring to Israel’s occupation of Palestinian and Syrian land as “brutal.”

Sunni Khalid, managing news editor at WYPR-FM in Baltimore, was dropped by the public radio station on Thursday after more than nine years on the job.

He had been on probation following criticism of comments he made on Facebook about Israel’s continued illegal occupation of Palestine.

“I, for one, have had enough of this pandering before the Israeli regime,” he wrote.

“The war-mongering toward Iran has, once again, distracted the world from Israel’s brutal military occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights.”…..

http://www.muslimnews.co.uk/news/news.php?article=21971

 

Activism

Anatomy of an Occupation: Did the Planners of Occupy Wall Street Really Have a Plan?

 

Nathan Schneider, Video Report:

When Occupy Wall Street and the ensuing Occupy movement captured the world’s attention in the fall of 2011, the world wasn’t exactly sure what hit it. Through a series of up-close portraits of the movement in both planning and execution, this webinar will explore how it has succeeded as well as what its challenges will be in the coming months. Drawing from his experience covering the Occupy movement since the early planning stages, Nathan Schneider will focus on the role of strategizing.

http://www.nationofchange.org/anatomy-occupation-did-planners-occupy-wall-street-really-have-plan-1332599972

 

Misc

Afghan case puts military mental health care under microscope

 

By Carlo Munoz

The recent killing of 17 Afghan civilians at the hands of a U.S. soldier has reignited concerns on whether the Pentagon is doing enough to care for its newest generation of combat veterans.

http://thehill.com/blogs/defcon-hill/operations/217923-bales-afghanistan-shooting-case-puts-military-mental-health-care-under-the-microscope

http://thehill.com/blogs/defcon-hill/operations/217923-bales-afghanistan-shooting-case-puts-military-mental-health-care-under-the-microscope

Documents: White House was all-hands-on-deck as Solyndra collapse neared

 

By Ben Geman and Andrew Restuccia

Several key White House offices were involved with the Obama administration’s messaging plans and other preparations as the collapse of the taxpayer-backed solar company Solyndra was imminent, newly released documents show.

http://thehill.com/blogs/e2-wire/e2-wire/217915-white-house-was-all-hands-on-deck-as-solyndra-collapse-loomed

 

Hunter: Marine should not be punished for anti-Obama Facebook posts

 

By Jeremy Herb

A Marine who said he would not follow an unlawful order from President Obama should not be dismissed, Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) said Friday.

Hunter, a Marine reservist who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, said Marine Sgt. Gary Stein should not be punished for posting his opinions on Facebook.

http://thehill.com/blogs/defcon-hill/marine-corps/217901-hunter-marine-should-not-be-punished-for-facebook-posts

 

U.S.: Bales went on 2 shooting sprees

 

(AP) WASHINGTON – American officials say U.S. investigators now believe the U.S. soldier accused of killing 17 Afghan civilians split the slaughter into two episodes – returning to his base after the first attack and later slipping away to kill again.

This scenario seems to support the U.S. government’s assertion — contested by some Afghans — that the killings were done by one person, since they would have been perpetrated over a longer period of time than assumed when Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales was detained March 11.

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-202_162-57403946/u.s.-bales-went-on-2-shooting-sprees/