Links 6/14/13

Deep-diving mammals’ secret revealed BBC

Stressed out dads have stressed out sperm Salon (Lambert)

Triumph of the Bronies: Hasbro Turning My Little Ponies into Sexy Human Characters. Neigh. Slate. Lambert flags this as a zeitgeist watch item that he can’t quite puzzle out. Readers?

Do-it-yourself brain stimulation has scientists worried as healthy people try to make their minds work better National Post

Brazil losing reserves fast as speculators attack real Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph

Why am I defending a public broadcaster (ERT) that banned me, and which I always considred problematic? Yanis Varoufakis

Turkish PM steps back from confrontation Financial Times

What We DO Know About Chemical Weapons In Syria Moon of Alabama

Big Brother is Watching You Watch:

U.S. Agencies Said to Swap Data With Thousands of Firms Bloomberg. Today’s must read. I’m now regretting posting on the SCMP disclosures rather than this, in that this story provides a key piece of the puzzle. Bloomberg has done some serious reporting and finds evidence that corroborates some elements of Snowden’s account. Moreover, it depicts the intelligence agencies as trading classified information to curry favor with private sector players. The PRISM slides that referred to companies as “partners” looks more and more apt. Plus a lot of people seem to want to believe that the telcos were the bad guys and cooperated more with the government than the tech firms (I’ve heard some staunch defenses of Google). But here we have Sergey Brin provided with classified info a full year after Google was part of PRISM (in 2010), yet Larry Page claimed on June 7 he’d never heard of PRISM. So tell me how much we can trust these corporate denials?

Edward Snowden: Classified US data shows Hong Kong hacking targets South China Morning Post. Holy moley, he’s just blown this up big time. He showed a list of IP addresses and locations. The intel folks must be in DefCon 1 freakout mode.

Five myths about privacy Washington Post

U.S. faces challenges trying to charge Edward Snowden Los Angeles Times

Loretta Sanchez, Dem Rep, Says NSA Revelations Only ‘The Tip Of The Iceberg’ Huffington Post

NSA to release details of attacks it claims were foiled by surveillance Guardian. Wow, this looks desperate. And notice the horrible Feinstein’s fingerprints look to be all over this.

FBI chief Robert Mueller says surveillance tactics could have stopped 9/11 attacks Guardian. If this is the best they can do, it’s pathetic.

Escape from PRISM: how Twitter defies government data-sharing The Verge (Ed Harrison)

Secret Court Ruling Put Tech Companies in Data Bind New York Times

CloudFlare, PRISM, and Securing SSL Ciphers CloudFlare (Ed Harrison). Trying to puzzle out the hotly debated PowerPoint slides

Contamination Testing Kit Crow’s Eye

Horrible Bill Michael Smith

Court: Human genes cannot be patented CNN. Still allows for a lot of other genes to be patented.

US: Starved of healthy options Financial Times. Although I’m a believer that high fructose corn syrup (sodas) is the biggest single culprit (when I was a kid, they were a treat, not a staple), there are a lot of early-ihn-life factors that are hard to surmount that this article ignores. But fly anywhere to the South, and you’ll see way more wheelchairs per flight than to other parts of the US. Diabetes is one of the big reasons why.

Secret Trade Agreements Threaten to Undo Our Last Shreds of Food Safety Alternet

RealtyTrac: Home repossessions rose in May Associated Press (Lisa Epstein)

Fed’s securities purchases blunt the impact of convexity hedging Sober Look. Different argument, but same conclusion our MBS Guy provided here weeks ago.

Feds Find Someone Weak and Poor Enough to Nail for Housing Meltdown Gawker

The Conflicting Testimony That Could Sink Bank of America Motley Fool (Lisa Epstein)

Fed Board Couldn’t Be Bothered to Vote on Multi-Billion Foreclosure Settlement Adam Levitin, Credit Slips

Watch out for the rate hike hit to banks Gillian Tett, Financial Times. Ah, the old Tett who is keen on the markets beat is BAACK! A seriously bearish indicator.

Antidote du jour:

kitten_lesson (5)

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  1. dearieme

    Obama has always been keen to hide much about his life, even about his birth. (The nuts who think he was born in Kenya at least realise there’s something fishy about him.) I’ve always said that what matters is not so much what he’s hiding, but who knows what he’s hiding. Suppose it’s the “intelligence community” that knows. Then they are pretty likely to get their way on anything they want, aren’t they?

    1. Chris E.

      The black community, like Cornel West, Tavis Smiley — are up in arms at Obama. They see Obama as a guy with a white mother and elite first-generation Harvard-educated father from Kenya with no ties to the American slave descendants whatsoever.

      An example of this sentiment is from Obama’s speech at Moorehead, which was largely received negatively by the “true” black community (that is, individuals who have direct lineage to slavery in the US) —

      Of course, having a black face automatically makes you aware of the plight of Black America, but there’s definitely a sense that he’s out of line with the way he tries to represent black America.

      Regarding his birth situation though — look at Ted Cruz. Nobody cares when the white guy who was proven to be born in Canada (and don’t call Cruz a latino or hispanic, he’s a European, a conquistator) wants to run for president, but the black guy who may people suspect may be born in _Kenya_ — ohh no, that’s unacceptable. It’s this counterexample which shows that the allegations are almost entirely racial in nature, with bigotry as the main motivation.

      1. dearieme

        I don’t know anything about this Cruz chap, but I do know that the issue is whether a Presidential candidate is a natural born American citizen. I also know that being born abroad does not of itself exclude one from being a natural born American citizen. So, for all I know, Cruz might be a legit candidate. Hell, for all I know Obama may have been a legit candidate. Maybe what he’s been hiding about his circumstances is not to do with his citizenship. As I say, what matters is who knows the answers, because they’re the people with the power of blackmail. Now, who’s likeliest to know? MI6? I think not. Mossad? Could be. The US Intelligence Services? Very likely: they’d have been failing in their duty if they don’t. The Russian and Chinese Intelligence Services? Maybe.

        The case of Obama’s secrets is a virtual case study of how the American media did not do their duty of enquiry.

        1. dearieme

          One more thing: I do remember that the Obama birth certificate fuss was first kicked up by a Clinton Democrat while they were still competing for the nomination. It’s not obvious why that makes it racist – just ordinary politics is an adequate explanation. Still, if playing the race card puts people off investigating the matter, I suppose that’s ordinary politics too.

          1. Chris E.

            I don’t know exactly what you’re getting at — but Obama is on his second term, I frankly don’t give a shit if he was born in Kenya at this point, just like I don’t give a shit if Cruz was born in Canada and wants to run for president (and if liberals/progressives have a brain at all they will embrace Cruz as a foreign-born American…to maintain moral authority against the conservative base screaming for Obama to resign over false allegations of being foreign-born). As an American who was born overseas, I’m obviously biased in this matter.

            But I will say that you’re right that at the beginning such a claim is politics as usual — but after the matter has been addressed by Obama to the point that he even provided a long-form birth certificate, any further fuss seems purely racial and bigoted.

            I don’t recall Hillary actually making an issue of the birth certificate, but I may be wrong. It could be that hardcore supporters were finding issues?

            Anyway, it really doesn’t matter!

          2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            The Romans had it simpler – if you were born anywhere controlled by the empire, you were eligible.

            In fact, I think even if you were not born inside their ‘spheres of influence,’ you might still be eligible.

        2. b2020


          My understanding is that McCain actually has more substantial doubt about his “born here” creds than Obeyme. Given the endemic lawbreaking on either side of the aisle, who gives a shit whether they broke/tried to break that particular one?

    2. CRLaRue

      Bongo dearieme!
      Was thanking along the same lines.
      I would venture to say that without their cover he
      would be history by now.

  2. Dan S

    Lambert is right, but late to the party. Chris Hedges’ book “Empire of Illusion” a few years ago noted the change in pro wrestling and porn from what could be called campy fun in the 70’s and 80’s to the debased and exploitative trash it is today.

      1. sleepy

        Aw, I still got a soft spot for the Jerry Lawler-Andy Kaufman matches back in the 80s.

        btw–a few years back in a seamless transition from pro wrestling, Lawler ran for mayor of Memphis, coming in 3rd out of 15 candidates.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I believe a lot of people watch those things as part of their academic research.

          It’s not easy, it seems, as none has produced a single paper at all after thousands of hours of observation.

          Part of the problem maybe to do with the ivory tower aspect of it; on the field investigation and experimentation may be the key missing factors.

          1. Binky Bear

            This was a subplot in the documentary drama PCU, featuring David Spade and future Obama activies Jon Favreau.

    1. corner cubicle

      I have enjoyed Chris Hedges’ writing but I question this idea of pro wrestling of yesteryear not being as exploitative. Iron Sheik? Gorgeous George? Nikolai Volkoff?

      The main differences between then and now, so as far as I can tell, is 1) pro wrestling is open about the outcomes being pre-determined and 2) I’d say the sexual content is much more explicit.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Judging by this morning’s Consumer Confidence, entertainment in May must have been quite good.

        I don’t understand why the nattering of negativism.

      1. RanDomino

        Depressing moralizing his Hedges’ only schtick. That, and Quixotic lawsuits (funny how it was never mentioned again after the Supreme Court slapped it down).

      2. craazyman

        sometimes? according to my NSA file on Hedges he’s a direct descendant of the Rev. Samuel Treat, Calvinist Pastor of Eastham Mass in the 1600s. I have them connected by 68 differnet vectors, all pointing north-north-west toward Scandanavia.

        we will look for him there when it’s time to arrest him for Repetitive Religiosity, punishible by a 60 dollar fine. If we can’t find him, we’ll arrest somebody else in his place. he looks like he might be from scandanavia and who’d know the difference outside of a few liberals?

        these are some of the more famous passages from rev. treats sunday sermons

        Discourse on Luke xvi. 23, addressed to sinners: —
        [2] “Thou must ere long go to the bottomless pit. Hell hath enlarged herself, and is ready to receive thee. There is room enough for thy entertainment….

        [3] “Consider, thou art going to a place prepared by God on purpose to exalt his justice in, — a place made for no other employment but torments. Hell is God’s house of correction; and, remember, God doth all things like himself. When God would show his justice, and what is the weight of his wrath, he makes a hell where it shall, indeed, appear to purpose…. Woe to thy soul when thou shalt be set up as a butt for the arrows of the Almighty….

        [4] “Consider, God himself shall be the principal agent in thy misery, — his breath is the bellows which blows up the flame of hell forever; — and if he punish thee, if he meet thee in his fury, he will not meet thee as a man; he will give thee an omnipotent blow.”

        I don’t know if he learned this stuff at Harvard divinity school or if he learned it on the street, but it’s true. what that means is you don’t have to go to divinity school to learn it. you just see it and point at it. that will save lots of money in tuition and lots of boring time spent sitting in the classroom pettifogging under the watchful gaze of God.

  3. Chris E.

    RE: Feds Find Someone Weak and Poor Enough to Nail for Housing Meltdown – Gawker

    Anyone who was worked in mortgage brokering or origination should check out this story. Such a stark reminder of how things were in 2005-2006, when I was working my way through college trying to get big commissions selling HELOCs/refi’s under Countrywide. Poor guys like the individual in the story were merely encouraged to just take out loans and we take care of the paperwork and nobody is the wiser.

    It’s hard for anyone who wasn’t active in that time period to really understand the mentality of all parties in the mortgage industry, but the Gawker article is a solid run-down of one representative case.

  4. Chris E.

    Didn’t see the link to the general story from last night:

    Washington (CNN) — Syria has crossed a “red line” with its use of chemical weapons, including the nerve agent sarin gas, against rebels, a move that is prompting the United States to increase the “scale and scope” of its support for the opposition, the White House said Thursday.

    There’s no way this will turn out good. There’s two choices when it comes to most Middle Eastern politics: the authoritarian secular state, or the pseudo-democratic pseudo-theocratic alternative.

    In Syria, supporting with “Free Syrians” and fundamentalist religious folks with ties to Al Qaeda can’t possibly end well. They will either not be able to defend against Assad/Hezbollah and thus the weapons we give them will end up in the hands of the “enemy” — and then we’ll have to support them even more based on “quick sand theory” (we can’t just put a foot in and then leave when it goes bad, we have to commit fully in the end to boots on the ground, that’s the logical conclusion of maintaining credibility in intervention).

    The “positive” outcome would be the Free Syrians with their al qaeda brothers defeating Hezbollah and Assad — then what? Then we’ve got a bunch of fanatics running Syria with no desire for a secular state and no respect for pluralism. It’s Mujahadeen all over again. Try looking at any of the videos of the “rebels” bombing Assad targets — they’re always screaming Allahu Akbar and religious nonsense. These are not the people we want running any country in the middle east. In my opinion we should have stuck with Assad, because we need Western educated individuals running secular states in that area.

    The only way it seems to make sense is that the deep state _wants_ the religious fanatics to take over across the Middle East, as they will end up making poor decisions that result in military intervention down the line. Whereas a secular, more authoritarian state with Western-educated leaders knows the boundaries.

    I just don’t get why McCain, in his final years, is wasting time being a war monger. I don’t know what makes him tick.

    1. Synopticist

      It’s crazy. The west has absolutely no business putting it’s hands into that particular hornets nest. Either Assad wins, or the takafirri jihadis take over, there’s no middle ground there any longer. The educated, confident, often middle class Syrians who took to the streets 2 years ago have either gone back to siding with the regime, or become hyper radicalised Sunnis.

      Up until yesterday, it looked like assad was winning after a series of key victories and falling al qeada morale. Now they’ll be cock-a-hoop and looking forward to recieving NATO anti-tank missiles and other high-tech kit.( Which won’t ever be used against the west, because, err, they won’t.Obviously.)

      So they’ll be happily back to slaughtering Christians and Shiite villages shouting allah ackbar and holding the memory of bin laden deep in their hearts, just while the blood drips from their fingers.

      1. Massinissa

        “The educated, confident, often middle class Syrians who took to the streets 2 years ago have either gone back to siding with the regime, or become hyper radicalised Sunnis.”

        Firstly, did those middle class syrians that took to the streets even exist at all? Or at least in numbers large enough to justify foreign Jihadi’s pretending to go to war to ‘liberate’ them?

        And im doubtful many of those radicalized sunni’s are well educated. Usually religious fundamentalism and education dont mix very well. Im assuming the majority of any middle class that protested peacefully against Assad is now looking to the State for their own protection from these crazies, and who can blame them?

        1. Synopticist

          I think there was a happy, confident idealism at the start, but it got violent very quickly. Within a few days there were policemen being mass murdered for example. It was always heavily regionalised.

          Here a decent article from a middle class, Allepo, slightly elitist view…

          On the educated Sunnis getting radicalised, I read an interesting article recently about a little militia somewhere in one of the cities over there. I can’t find it now, I’ll try again later. The key point for me was that they’d originally named themselves after a early 20th century nationalist leader, but now 2 years later, were called after a companion of the prophet, spent a whole bunch of time praying, and openly admired the hardcore jihadis of jabbat al Nusra, the al qeada franchise.
          So it seem that the process of fighting and dying in a highly sectarian, jihadised context had radicalised them.

          Its pretty sad.

    2. PunchNRun

      I believe the desired end is perpetual war. Maintaining a “balance” furthers that end. What more do we need to know?

  5. David Lentini

    On sexing-up chemical warfare claims in Syria

    But the U.S. is again claiming “chemcial weapons” as a (fake) reason to wage war on a Middle Eastern country. Who does it think will believe such claims?

    The short answer is, “It doesn’t care.” The Obama administration, indeed all of Washington, has bought in to the “we’re an empire now, we define reality” mantra of the Bushies from 2000. The point of these statements is not to prove any reality, but to provide cover for the needed votes to support more aggressive weapons donations (probaby paid for by the Gulf states scared sh’tless over Iranian expansion), and outright intervention or invasion.

    Of course, when time passes and the reality becomes clear (after huge bloodshed and expense), we’ll be treated to the faux outrage of the politicians and the media will yet again gaze at its navel to proclaim itself tarnished but still worthy or respect.

    La plus ça change …

    1. skippy

      “chemcial weapons” = Fallujah Iraq or depleted uranium… ummm?

      skippy… chemistry challenged here.

    2. Jim Haygood

      So Barack Milhous Obushma has decided to make Syria safe for demonocracy.

      By summer’s end, he supposes, grateful citizens of Damascus will be showering our Al Qaeda proxy troops with rose petals, as Assad’s statue is pulled down and replaced with one of Syria’s American liberator.

      Mission ac-ac-ac-accomplished!

      As someone on the internet wrote last night,

      “Snowden WHO? Look over here. WAR! SHINY!”

      1. Paul Tioxon

        Syria is the main outpost of Russian influence in the Middle East and has been for over 50 years. Syria is the only Arab/Islamic nation NOT to condemn the USSR when they invaded Afghanistan back in the 1970’s. It has a naval base there where its ships cross the Mediterranean on legitimate business to visit their good friend and ally, the Assad family. The most advanced weaponry on par with the Russian/Red Army has been historically exported to Syria. And they have always had cash money to pay due their oil. So, the reason that Syria goes on and on is because they have a strong enough ally to support them. The US has had all its pretty dreams of a New American Century go up in smoke and disaster in Iraq and Afghanistan.

        And whether a rhetorical and manipulative flourish or not, all wars do end, as does everything. It is not the time for the US military to take on a war of choice in Syria. It is time for it to heal. Maybe you aren’t getting the other bright shiny object of US soldiers and sailors raping one another, mostly men raping women in the military. That whole organization has severe problems, including stressed out, suicide prone, 3-4 tour burned out lifers, who are finally coming home. And to put them head to head with a Russian leader who would sorely like a domestic win in the form of chasing Yankee soldiers out of the Middle East is a policy disaster waiting to happen.

        Russian President Vladmir Putin “has based a fair bit of his domestic legitimacy on the idea that Russia goes its own way and does not take orders from the West, has its own friends and makes its own choices internationally, ” said Stephen Sestanovich, the George F. Kennan Senior Fellow for Russian and Eurasian Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

        “Judged by almost any imaginable criteria,” he said, “Syria seems like a pretty good friend of Russia.”

        At the same time, diplomats and analysts said Russia is making subtle efforts to reassert itself in the Middle East and is putting out the word that it plans to vigorously defend its interests.

        Early this month, institutes backed by the Russian government hosted a conference in the Moroccan city of Marrakesh, inviting more than a hundred of the region’s most influential newspaper columnists, pundits and policy experts. In attendance were officials from Persian Gulf Arab states staunchly opposed to Russia’s support for Syria as well as representatives of Hezbollah and Gaza’s Hamas organization. The two-day conference was billed as a forum on political Islam, but a recurring theme was Russia’s new assertiveness in the region, attendees said in interviews.

        “The Russians’ real intention seemed to be to say, ‘We’re back,’ ” said one Arab analyst who attended the event but who requested anonymity in order to speak frankly about sensitive discussions with the conference’s Russian hosts.

        “They were adamant in saying they would continue to back Assad,” the analyst said”

        1. sleepy

          Yes, and along those lines:

          “Alexei Pushkov, the head of the Russian foreign policy committee in the lower chamber of parliament, said in a Friday message posted on Twitter that the information has been concocted in a similar fashion as lies were made up about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction prior to the US invasion of the country in 2003.

          “Information about the use by [Syrian President Bashar] Assad of chemical weapons has been fabricated in the same place as the lies about (Saddam) Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction,” Pushkov stated.”

          1. Paul Tioxon

            How big a disaster is brewing for the interventionistas?

            DATELINE PRAVDA:

            Russia » Politics
            Russia to create Mediterranean fleet to protect Syria

            During the Cold War, the Mediterranean was the most important area of ​​strategic struggle between the West and the USSR. Many years have passed, a lot has happened, but the importance of the Mediterranean Sea has remained the same. Russia, a successor of the USSR, has lost some of its influence in the region over the years. It appears, though, that the country is not going to sit on its hands watching others taking its place under the Mediterranean sun.

            Russian President Vladimir Putin, speaking in front of the military, announced plans to restore the permanent presence of the Russian Federation Fleet in the Mediterranean. Putin believes that such a move is not an act of “saber rattling.” The president said that Russia had its own interests in the Mediterranean that are related to the national security of the country. The region is strategically important to Russia, and the country plans to deploy its warships in the Mediterranean Sea on a permanent basis.

            According to the press service of the Defense Ministry of Russia, the Russian naval task force in the Mediterranean will include about ten ships of various classes of the North, Baltic and Black Sea fleets on a rotational basis. Depending on tasks, the number of warships in the compound can be increased.”


            So, in the words of the Russians themselves, and not foreign analysis, but confirming them in crystal clear terms: Amerikanskis NYET!

            Somebody tell our good friend and colleague Senator McCain that America does not want its naval pilots shot out the sky with Russian SAMs just like he was over North Viet Nam. Oh wait, he wants revenge. Too bad, his elected office isn’t where he gets to work out his PTSD.

          2. Jim Haygood

            Nor is elected office the proper place for McCain’s Senatorial colleague, Ms. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, to act out her PMS.

          3. Kurt Sperry

            Given Russian proximity they have more right than us to have bases in the area. American deployments in the region are pretty much de facto non-defensive.

          4. LucyLulu

            If Russia has it’s eyes on establishing a Mediterranean fleet then Syria, providing Russia its sole port in the region, is critical.

            I don’t know if chemical weapons have been used or not. Our NATO allies seem to be in agreement. Pressure to intervene from our allies has been mounting. From reports I’ve read, they feel intervention is long overdue but won’t act themselves unless the US leads the way. If true, we need to change that mindset. France seemed to do just fine without us leading the way in Mali.

            However, the timing of US confirmation of the reports, several months and several (alleged) uses of chemical weapons later, is just too convenient to be coincidental. Don’t we collect 97 billion pieces of intelligence every month? Don’t we essentially monitor all communications of both foreign and American citizens? Yet we’re only now as “confident” re: the use of chemical weapons as our allies who don’t have nearly the same privacy busting security infrastructure in place. How do I get my money and privacy refunded?*

            I’m using irony to make a point, I don’t believe the Administration has just reached any conclusion…….. but why pass up an opportunity to use Big Brother advocates’ lies to hoist them on their own petard?

          5. Roland

            The Russians aren’t trying to “reassert” themselves in Syria or the Middle East.

            Instead, the Russians are in an unenviable position, in which they must meaningfully support Syrian government, or risk losing all of their credibility in world affairs.

            If Russia ever wants to make another ally in this world for a long time to come, they must make it clear to the world at large that being a Russian ally means something. Russia must maintain that old thing called “credibility.”

            After all, if being allied to Russia doesn’t prevent a bunch of other foreigners from invading your country and overthrowing your government, then why would anybody on Earth ever want to be allied to Russia?

            The USA also faces a credibility problem in Syria, but the USA has plenty of credibility to spare. After all, nobody has the slightest doubt that the USA is able and willing to go to war, anywhere in the world, at any time, for any reason, or maybe even for no reason.

            But plenty of people have reason to doubt whether Russia will really step up and meet a challenge.

            So if you ever read or hear anyone declaring that Russia wants a confrontation in Syria, tell them they’re being absurd. The Russians don’t want a fight in Syria. They’ve been trying to get the parties to the table from the beginning.

            Russia’s “support” for the Syrian government has been half-hearted, and mostly negative in nature, such as blocking UNSC votes.

            Russia has not provided modern weapons to the Syrians. The only modern anti-aircraft systems in Syria are for the point defense of harbour installations Tartus. Russian shipments have only been resupply of the obsolescent 1970’s and 80’s vintage East Bloc weapons with which the Syrian forces are still equipped.

            They’re most definitely not trying to “expand their influence.” Instead, the Russians are facing the question of whether or not they can ever have allies and partners other than those approved for them by the Western countries.

            This is what makes this conflict strangely dangerous for the world. Rationally speaking, neither Russia nor the USA has much reason to escalate in Syria. But for the Russians the Syrian situation is not really about the Middle East. It is about the future value of Russian diplomacy around the world for a long time to come.

            Of course, given the absolute and comprehensive nature of the USA’s own geopolitical ambitions, I suspect that US policymakers don’t mind testing Russian credibility.

    3. Doug Terpstra

      It’s an unimaginative replay of Iraq for somnolent American frogs, not even all that sexy: no yellow cake forgeries, grainy Powell photos, no deep throat, and no ties (yet) to the Boston bombings. The Mossad and CIA are still busy fixing the evidence.

      Who you gonna believe, Obama (no one is listening to your phone calls) or your lying eyes? Russian MP calls US report “cooked” and “fabricated”:'Fabricated'–Russian-MP.html

  6. Richard Kline

    The Bloomberg piece is absolutely chock full of nuggets to consider, I won’t even try to quote. One comes away from it with more and better informed questions than one had answers upon beginning. Trim takeaway: Everything yet said in recent days by the guvmint spyboys aout their doings is a complete crock of stale cover-up.

    And the Guardian piece, sheesh—and at the end of it Feinstein makes a whopper gaffe of a further disclosure, evidently confirming that NSA has the acutal names of all those whose numbers it holds, something explicitly denied not a week ago by our National Intelligence Liar. (Of course they have the names, duh, what _else_ would be the first thing they would secure?)

    And in the Guardian and elsewhere all this “We’d uh stopped 9/11 if pollyanna liburuhls like you just step back and give us room to swing a cat!” —Well they didn’t; didn’t stop that one, or another one, or a Boston, or any such, billions spent despite. Because, folks, the NSA isn’t about playing defense, it’s about playing offense. The NSA’s Big Spy is about digging into and frying the other guy. And _that_ might give many citizens pause, do we really want to stir things up. So of course Big Spy is sold as ‘protecting us from an evil, uncertain world’ when it’s purpose is really offensive. And that is why so few ‘terrorists’ have been caught: they’re not really looking for terrorists, they’re looking to hack Paris and Beijing for anything that can be stolen or pranged. Try selling _that_ to the American public, so off course the National Intelligence Liar and all the other Directors of Semi-Intelligent Lying are going to lie and talk about all the non-existent dastardly deeds they are trying hard 24/7/365 to save us from.

      1. Kurt Sperry

        Re the Bloomberg piece– The term “committing officer” is an odd bit of detail. Try a search on it.

    1. LucyLulu

      “and at the end of it Feinstein makes a whopper gaffe of a further disclosure, evidently confirming that NSA has the acutal names of all those whose numbers it holds, something explicitly denied not a week ago by our National Intelligence Liar.”

      I wouldn’t count on our Congress critters having any kind of real understanding of these programs. They pass laws without reading them, don’t read the briefs they’re given, and are given conflicting reports by the Intelligence community. Not that members of the Intelligence Oversight Committees are going to (‘wittingly’) let on that they’re clueless and they don’t actually provide any oversight. The only thing one can count on from the Intelligence Oversight Committees is to keep funneling the NSA any funds they request.

      The authority to collect business (phone) records is found in Section 215 of the Patriot Act. The authority for PRISM is found in Section 702. These two sections are the meat of the Patriot Act, providing the surveillance powers that arguably violate the First, Fourth, and Fifth Amendment.

      Tweeted from yesterday’s Congressional hearing (the public portion):

      Oversight in action, part 2 RT @brianbeutler: Boehner, member of Intelligence Gang of Eight: “I’m not familiar with Section 215.” (???)

      1. Richard Kline

        So LucyLulu, agreed. The Bloomberg piece makes it plain that many in Congress had _no idea that these programs even existed_ despite widespread reporting on the NSA and the threat outside the mainstream media for many years that made programs like this a near certainty. Moreover, as emphasized in that piece also, most members of Congress would, and do, lack the technological expertise to in any way personally assess the accuracy or validity of anything the spy boys might tell them. There is the further widespread view that, ‘it’s [mostly] all approved by a judge,’ which complacency is of course predicated upon the notion that said judge has the technological competence to rule knowingly, and assumption I suspect is usually false.

        —But much of that is beside the real point, to me. What Congress members and judges really can, and often do, assess is whether the reporting individual is leveling with them. Are they being advised, ‘snowed,’ or deliberately decieved? Congressmembers can’t be experts on many of the issues they must vote on but they can be experts on the inviduals who advise them and on the behavior of advisors. And it is in this capacity that Congress is grossly remiss. We have complete intellectual capture: Congressmembers sit down and nod timorously to all of the strum and drang touted by those who _do_ understand theses programs, then chalk their shaky ‘X’ on the approval line. What Congress can do, and has done at it’s best, is ASK HARD QUESTIONS, keep track of the answers, and check the situation with those outside of the loop. If something is so ultra-secret no outside checking is allowed, that is _automatically_ a suspect activity, for reasons of groupthink alone.

        Congress could do better, it just doesn’t. Because most there are bought in, babby, and plan to stay that way until they die rich.

    2. Everythings Jake

      For decades, a core function of the military/intelligence agencies has been to “externalize” the losses/costs of development of technological advancement. Profits are of course privatized. What company would not kill to get to its hands on the information that the NSA possesses? Not even Google sweeps up that much saleable information. Did now global albeit U.S. based corporations just manage to externalize the costs of market research? Along, of course, with gaining other forms of social control.

      1. JTFaraday

        That’s the way I see it. The government uses the terror threat as an excuse to provide legal warrant for things that were illegal for private businesses (like the Telecom companies) to do, develops the technology, and then monetizes it one way or another for connected insiders.

        This is not a new business development model, but the nature of the things we’re talking about with reference to the police state represent a new height of depravity in the annals of corporatist “capitalism.”

  7. WI Quarterback

    Fellow citizens,

    As we are drawn down the rhetorical paths of “Does our government have ill intent?”, “Does Snowden have ill intent?”, and “Could the capabilities that NSA has, and is diligently expanding, have prevented 9-11 (or fill-in-the blank)?”. I urge us all to pause, very briefly, and focus ourselves on the much more important question of “What kind of world do we, you, I, want this nation, our nation, to bring forth upon us and our children?”

    I have lived, seen, and experienced enough of the essence of who we are as Americans, and as fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, and children of God to know in my heart that our collective intent, and our intent for the Goverment (that we all are a part of) is on the whole, in pursuit of virtue. A pursuit, that I fear, has become clouded and lost. The question for us to ponder is whether or not, in our pursuit of safety, we, like Icarus, are beginning to fly too close to the sun in the form of the power we seek to pursue that safety.

    All intentions aside, we are building capabilities of power beyond our ability to adequately control or comprehend. Again, lets take pause and question, not others, but ourselves; individually and together. What world do we want to live in?

    We are a great and blessed nation. A nation that was birthed and conceived on the very question before us. The founders of this country saw a beautiful continent, inspired people, and a form of Government led by King George III that had amassed enormous power that was turned on its people, the governed, to a form that was tyrany. Those brave founders, took pause and decided that the path before them led to world that was ugly and counter to the principles of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. They chose a new vision of a world and a form of government that became America, OUR nation.

    Next time, this growing of unchecked and uncomprehended power is examined with the question “Could these powers have stopped 9-11?”. Take pause, and consider the type of life that comes with this power, and that comes with the ignorance of its effects. The question that I urge you to ask yourself is “Could these powers have enabled George III to have stopped the Declartion of Independance?”

    1. Jim Haygood

      ‘I know in my heart that our collective intent … is on the whole, in pursuit of virtue.’

      Since the Mexican-American War, and the War on Southern Secession, and the Spanish American War, on through the catalog of 20th and 21st century disasters, one pattern is clear: Americans readily support military attacks. They honor the generals who lead those wars by electing them president, and build monuments to war presidents in Washington.

      Now the American gates of Janus are immobilized permanently open in connection with the permanent terror emergency. With the Afghan retreat not even completed, already a promising new military front in Syria has been identified. As always, the press and the Congress are falling right into line. And so will the credulous people.

      Americans are neither virtuous nor vicious; they are amoral. And like their Roman predecessors in a previous dying empire, they have a decided taste for blood sport.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        It wouldn’t surprised me if the ancient Romans fixed their chariot races ad gladiator fights as well.

      2. sleepy

        I think the majority of the American public would prefer that the US stay out of foreign empire-building and concentrate its resources on pressing domestic issues, particularly economic justice issues.

        The fact that their preference is never reflected at the ballot box is testimony to a rigged electoral system and a vast media propaganda network–and last but certainly not least, the public’s own lack of critical thinking.

        But I don’t think the public is evil. At this point it appears to lack any consciousness of the free agency necessary to make moral choices.

        So, I guess your term “amoral” works.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I was surprised to learn the other day that Inanna, you know, the original Ishtar, was the goddess of love, war, fertility and lust.

          It seems that love and war go hand in hand…at least to the wise people of old.

          1. hunkerdown

            War arising from love of life is qualitatively different from war arising from more narcissistic principles. If Americanism has a god of war, that god must be the god of handies from bored but conventionally attractive twentysomethings.

    2. Jackrabbit

      While the characterization of the American people may have been off, I think what WI Quarterback is trying to say is that pervasive surveillance is inherently dangerous and has no place in a free, democratic society.

      Such practices should be banned, not regulated with secret courts and shoddy oversight.

    3. Massinissa

      Has anyone else been able to figure out whether or not this post is satire? Because I honestly cant tell.

      If it isnt satire its some pretty serious propaganda.

      If it is satire, then honestly I dont really get the punchline.

      1. PunchNRun

        I choose to believe it is well-intentioned but ingenuous. Many of my Democrat liberal friends and relatives choose to believe this, it validates our fervent wish to see ourselves to be “the good guys.” Just like the soldiers of the Confederacy believed themselves to be the same, and of course we can count so many others with similar mind sets. There are some nuggets, but so overwhelmed in a world infused by the rose-tinted glasses that there is little of utility therein.

      2. hunkerdown

        The last paragraph strikes me quite clearly: “are you preventing the next Revolution of human development with your loyalty?”

    4. AbyNormal

      Congratulations! your post proves…

      The IQ and the life expectancy of the average American recently passed each other in opposite directions.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      How does one go about finding out the unemployment rates for people with 0.01% parents and people with 99.99% parents?

      1. bob

        An Unemployeed person from .01% parents is called an “Entrepreneur”.

        Unemployed…how gauche…You’ll not be getting an invite to the regatta this summer.

  8. dSquib

    Everything is made in secret. Bills, wars, prosecutions, trade agreements, legal rationales for secret government behaviour. On election day, you turn up and you vote for the person you think will best represent your interests in secret negotiations. Did they do a good job? Dunno it’s secret.

    The public though are ever pressured to live more in public and give up on privacy and quaint protections.

  9. Yonatan

    So Brazil is under attack by financial terrorists? Oh wait financial warfare isn’t terrorism unless THEY do it to US.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Only on the 0.01%.

      Financial warfare on the 99.99% is…how should I say this…financial warfare on the 99.99% will only make the surviving 99.99% stronger.

      It’s a scientific fact.

  10. SubjectivObject


    As is my usual penchant, I watched it with the sound off. Nevertheless, it comes accross as an absolute manipulation of primal emotion, perception, and expectation produced by some of the best minds in the how-to-mold/use-human-psychology-for-conformance-with-commericial-and-state-priorities business. Oh but we’re all just so beautiful, sophisticated, and powerful now, ar’nt we.

    With competant parenting having fallen by the way, expert mediation steps into the void (not that the fundamental relationship/scenario changes with age).

  11. Massinissa

    Re: Hasbro

    Anyone else completely fail to see the problem?

    As a casual brony, Im not sure I see the point of this movie myself, im sort of doubtful I will even watch it, but I think its a hard argument that these characters are ‘sexualized’. Theyre nothing compared to barbies or Bratz dolls: Theyre practically conservative compared to both.

    I really fail to see the problem. If I have any problem with it, its more to do with the consumerism displayed by the characters trendy and expensive looking clothing, but thats mostly because im a socialist.

    Or the fact that theyre trying to milk more money out of the series, but unlike, say, Walmart trying to milk its business, most bronies are more than happy to be milked. And again thats mostly because im an anticapitalist(Me, Ive never bought any of the merchandise, I just watch the show)

    I really dont see any problem. This is nothing compared to what other cartoon companies have done before.

    1. Massinissa

      Note: I do want to point out that large sections of the brony community actually really disliked the idea of this movie. So blaming the bronies for Hasbro doing it is sort of disingenuous. Its not like many of us asked for this sort of thing.

      Im not sure im against the movie, but Im not particularly for it either. I dont see the big deal either way, honestly.

    2. mookie

      I watch it with my daughter but don’t particularly like it. However, watching it with someone who enjoys it has given me the opportunity to consider the brony phenomenon. My take is that it paradoxically gives jaded younger men the opportunity to truly enjoy a piece of entertainment because it seems at first something that could only be enjoyed ironically. In other words, the gateway to bronyhood is only opened with the key of ironic appreciation, but once inside the glorious kingdom of bronyhood irony is no longer part of the experience.

      This may be off-base. Can you explain the appeal of the show to us non-bronies?

      1. Massinissa

        Theres multiple reasons. But If youre asking for a general perspective, I can try. I wont be effective though.

        In general, its a good show. Firstly, the animation is actually impeccable. Much more quality than most modern cartoons in terms of animation, or music for that matter. Come to think of it I cant think of any non-theatrical modern cartoon with singing every few episodes.

        For most people the main draw are the likeable characters. With the possible exception of Applejack, all the characters have a surprising amount of depth. To be fair, not the kind of depth you would see in say, a book series, but more than you would find in other cartoons. I mean for gods sake, there are episodes that go into exploring the psychology of the characters, like for example s2e5 for Twilight.

        I dont know how to explain further, honestly. Theyre likeable characters, with an almost human element, albeit an anthropomorphized human element. Most bronies just like the characters and the way their personalities are portrayed, and find them endlessly amusing.

        And to be perfectly honest, most of us, including myself, find it cute. Theres nothing wrong with that. Women and children are allowed to find things cute and adorable but men cant? Who came up with that rule? Who came up with the rule that if we think something is cute it means we are overtly sexualizing it?

        Id like to say something about the guys who ‘Clop’ to the show. Regardless of the existence of that particular minority, I dont see why so many people paint us as a bunch of porn freaks. While its true that there is alot of it and alot of people like that, thats the same with about any other popular cartoon. Look up the porn for Kim Possible, Digimon or Pokemon, or Disney movies, among countless other cartoons. And its not like we are talking about small amounts here: God alone knows how much Kim Possible porn is out there.

        But its the bronies who are painted as sexual deviants, mostly because people look for an explanation for why men like a ‘little girls show’, because apparently thats socially taboo or ‘unmanly’. Of course it probably doesnt help that as a group we are unusually large, high profile, and alot of us make it a pride or identity thing. Or that its ponies and not humans.

        By the way, some of the references in the show that would never be understood by most kids. Rarity parodied a famous line from Gone with the Wind once, in one episode there were pony cameo’s of characters from the movie The Big Lebowski, and particularly entertaining to me, in one episode there was a statue of a pony that was posed like the Venus from Botticelli’s ‘Birth of Venus’, complete with a shell. Nice touches all around.

        Im sorry if I have jumped around and been incoherent. But its just a damn fun show. Its almost amusing how the brony community has ruffled so many feathers just by its very existence.

        To be fair im not really as into it as some other guys are: Due to time constraints from college, I havnt been able to keep up with season 3 since it started months ago. I suppose im sort of a lapsed brony of sorts at the moment.

        1. hunkerdown

          “Come to think of it I cant think of any non-theatrical modern cartoon with singing every few episodes.”

          Even if it is targeted at a quite different demographic, Family Guy comes to mind. Seth MacFarlane is a talented singer and fairly often writes in fairly large portions of songs or even the occasional Broadway-class number.

          I tried MLP:FiM but couldn’t really connect with the “work hard and play by the rules” subtext running through the whole thing, same as I couldn’t connect with the neat fables that were all the rage in 1980s mainstream animation.

  12. Garrett Pace

    Brazil losing reserves fast

    With the world awash in trillions of dollars of malinvested cash, aren’t most nations at risk of this sort of attack, even the very well-provisioned ones?

  13. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Human genes…don’t patent.

    If I understand her correctly, my cat does not believe cat genes should be patented either.

    For that matter, the last carrot I came across, before it sacrificed its life, completely without resistance, in order for me to live, mumbled something about the sanctity of carrot genes as well.

  14. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    The Fed…dialing QE taper talk…

    Here is one really bad koan:

    If the Fed talks to no one but itself about tapering QE, do stocks not fall?

  15. Bridget

    Billions and billions of human beings in the history of mankind have not had access to healthy food, and obesity has been the least of their problems. Type II diabetes was once called “adult onset” diabetes, because even for the poor, it took decades to develop. It is now regularly developing in children. High fructose corn syrup is a scourge.

  16. Jackrabbit

    Govt: Trust our secret courts and peek-a-boo oversight

    – Who chooses the Judges? Who argues the other side?
    Kim Dotcom wrote in the Guardian that: “According to congressional reporting, the FISA court received 1,789 applications for authority to conduct electronic surveillance in 2012, but not one application was denied”!

    – How does Congress KNOW that intelligence agencies have not gone beyond what they say they’re doing? Whistle-blowers? Well whistle-blowers are telling us that no one listens and by sticking their neck out, they only invite investigation and retribution upon themselves.

    And as Kim Dotcom has pointed out, the US cooperates with several foreign intelligence services to which they can outsource spying (on US citizens or others) – in addition to their use of corporate contractors.

    Furthermore, when when intelligence leaders like DNI Clapper lie to Congress and then skate by, it becomes CLEAR that there really is no oversight or accountability.

    Why does it take nsa days to put together a list of what attacks they have prevented?
    Haven’t they already provided Congress with information on the success of their programs? This stinks.

    And, proof that they have actually stopped a few attacks si not sufficient to make the case that pervasive surveillance is justified or worthwhile. What else are they doing with this capability? Who are they tracking and why?


    Pervasive surveillance is an inherent threat to a free, democratic society. The Constitution recognizes and protects us from that. I don’t see how it can really be adequately regulated.

  17. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Scientists worried as healthy people try to make their minds work better…doing it themselves.

    Thanks for the warning.

    I better stop my foolish, do-it-myself attempt of eating organic (mistaking as an antidote to having holes in my brain from toxic foodstuff).

    1. ScottS

      Wow. If this is true, it’s huge. I wouldn’t be surprised to see riots.

      These and other similar instructions often came in monthly meetings that were conducted by Site Leaders and attended by 60-70 employees. At these meetings, my colleagues and I were given performance “goals” and quotas. Employees were rewarded by meeting a quota of placing a specific number of accounts into foreclosure, including accounts in which the borrower fulfilled a HAMP Trial Period Plan. For example, a Collector who placed ten or more accounts into foreclosure in a given month received a $500 bonus. Bank of America also gave employees gift cards to retail stores like Target or Bed Bath and Beyond as rewards for placing accounts into foreclosures.

    2. Lambert Strether

      Yikes! From the litigation:

      We were regularly drilled that it was our job to maximize fees for the Bank by fostering and extending delay of the HAMP modification process by any means we could-this included by lying to customers.

      Rentier capitalism. And accounting control fraud?

  18. Howard Beale IV

    A must read from Julian Sanchez at CATO:

    Key item:

    A story by Michael Isikoff of NBC News finds the likely answer in a little-noticed set of answers to Congress from FBI Director Robert Mueller:

    “Beginning in late 2009, certain electronic communications service providers no longer honored NSLs to obtain” records because of what their lawyers cited as “an ambiguity” in the law. (What Mueller didn’t say was this came at a time when all the major telecommunications companies were still facing lawsuits over their cooperation with the government on surveillance programs.) As a result, Mueller said, the FBI had switched over to demanding the same data under Section 215. “This change accounts for a significant increase in the volume of business records requests,” Mueller wrote.
    And what ambiguity in the law would that be? This is almost certainly a reference to the DOJ Office of Legal Counsel’s November 2008 opinion concluding that the FBI had seriously misinterpreted the scope of its authority under the National Security Letter statute permitting access to telecommunications records without court approval. Congress, the OLC pointed out, had not given the FBI a blank check to demand any kind of “transactional records,” but only “toll billing records” or whatever their equivalent in the Internet context might be. That opinion was only made public several months later, and while the gap between the ruling and the switch to §215 suggests that the FBI was in no hurry to inform providers that they were turning over too much information, it looks as though attorneys at the companies eventually got wind of the problem and began demanding more robust process. The extraordinarily high rate of modifications suggests that the requests must be quite sweeping: The FISC is required to deem “relevant” for §215 purposes any records pertaining to suspected foreign agents or their activities or anyone known to them (like e-mail correspondents). A modification suggests a request beyond both those broad parameters and the incredibly loose general standard of relevance.

  19. rich

    Woman sues McDonald’s franchisee for payroll debit

    She spent her days serving up Happy Meals, but when it came time to get paid, Natalie Gunshannon says a local McDonald’s franchisee gave her an unhappy deal.

    The Shavertown McDonald’s forces workers to be paid only one way: with a payroll debit card that burdens workers with hefty fees to obtain their hard-earned cash, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday on behalf of Ms. Gunshannon and other McDonald’s workers.

    Ms. Gunshannon, 27, Dallas Twp., and an untold number of current and former employees had no option to receive a traditional paycheck or get paid by direct deposit, she and her attorneys said in the class-action against franchise owners Albert and Carol Mueller of Clarks Summit.

    Ms. Gunshannon, who worked at the Shavertown McDonald’s for a month after being hired April 24, refused to activate the payroll card after reviewing the fee structure, quit the job and reached out to an attorney to see if the practice was legal.

    Attorney Michael J. Cefalo of West Pittston and his law firm then drafted a class-action lawsuit against the Muellers, who own 15 other McDonald’s locations throughout Northeast Pennsylvania.

    Filed in Luzerne County Court, the suit accused the Muellers and their limited partnership of violating the Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Act and unlawfully boosting profits with the payroll card “scheme.”

    The J.P. Morgan Chase payroll card carries fees for nearly every type of transaction, according to the lawsuit, including a $1.50 charge for ATM withdrawals, $5 for over-the-counter cash withdrawals, $1 to check the balance, 75 cents per online bill payment and $10 per month if the card is left inactive for more than three months.

  20. b2020

    From the Book of Unintended Ironies: an accidental analysis of the US occupation of Iraq.

    “[The military] had the run of the countryside. It could drive around freely on the roads, it was even using the rail line. It could move almost as it saw fit and it could predictably in these large columns and patrols. That changed when the rebels developed an indigenous effort at making improvised explosive devices, or makeshift bombs. By bombing the roads, by setting up ambushes, they were able to deny sections of the countryside to the army. Certainly, the freedom of movement in the countryside, where the rebels were strong, became a thing of the past.
    “And the army understood that when it couldn’t fight this free-roaming that it needed to find a way that capitalized on its own strengths. And that strength was firepower, in some cases manpower but often just firepower. And so they went to a series of strong points, like islands, all across areas of the countryside where they were weak. And these islands are almost, in some cases, impregnable to the rebels’ weapons.
    “If the other side is not coming out, if the other side is not exposing itself, it’s very difficult to dislodge that army with rifles and rocket-propelled grenades and makeshift bombs that are waiting along the sides of the roads. It’s very, very hard to gain momentum against a militarily stronger side that will not move when all you have are these weapons that you can carry on your shoulder or in your backpack.
    “[T]he rebels would certainly like and appreciate something like a no-fly zone. But what they want and probably think is more realistic to get are weapons that will allow them to fight against these strong points and will allow them to fight against armor and will allow them to defeat aircraft that are in some cases bombing their positions and their homes and their towns. Not in some cases, actually, in many cases their homes and their towns, because a lot of the air strikes are clearly just dropped on neighborhoods.”

  21. doc strangeluv

    DEFCON 1 freakout…oh Yves, thank you. Hadda look it up. I guess you know CYBERCON is on the way, maybe already here. Maybe. You good Yves, you mighty good. Hope all INFOCON is working well with your new website host.

    “It prescribes five graduated levels of readiness (or states of alert) for the U.S. military, and increase in severity from DEFCON 5 (least severe) to DEFCON 1 (most severe) to match varying military situations.[1]

    DEFCONs are a subsystem of a series of Alert Conditions, or LERTCONs, that also includes Emergency Conditions (EMERGCONs).[3] There is no single DEFCON status for the country, and in fact different branches of the military can be at different levels of DEFCON at the same time. DEFCONs should not be confused with similar systems used by the U.S. military, such as Force Protection Conditions (FPCONS), Readiness Conditions (REDCONS), Information Operations Condition (INFOCON) and its future replacement Cyber Operations Condition (CYBERCON),[4] and Watch Conditions (WATCHCONS), or the former Homeland Security Advisory System used by the United States Department of Homeland Security.”

  22. rich

    Uncovering corruption: Charmian Gooch at TEDGlobal 2013
    “Corruption is made possible by the actions of global facilitators.”

    Obiang, for example, did business with global banks in order to finance his expensive art, and, she says, he used shell companies to buy and maintain his mansion. And, says Gooch, Dan Etete awarded an oil block now worth more than 1 billion to a company he was the hidden owner of. “On the surface, the deal appeared straightforward. Subsidiaries of [oil companies] Shell and Eni paid the Nigerian government for the block. The Nigerian government transferred precisely the same amount, to the very dollar, to an account earmarked for a shell company whose hidden owner was Etete.” Global Witness found evidence that Shell and Eni had known that the funds would be transferred to that shell company, and, she says, “frankly, it’s hard to believe that they didn’t know who they would be dealing with there.”

    “The reality is that the engine of corruption is driven by our international banking system, the problem of anonymous shell companies, and the secrecy we afford to big oil, gas and mining operations.” she says. She also points to the failure of our politicians to tackle the problem systemically.
    Start with banks. No surprise that banks accept dirty money, but prioritize profits in destructive ways.
    Then there’s the problem of anonymous shell companies, which block knowledge of who is really behind business dealings. These have appeared in every case of corruption investigated – a 2011 World Bank study reviewed 200 cases of corruption and found more than 70% of the cases had used anonymous shell companies, including in the US and UK. “So it’s not just an offshore problem, it’s an onshore one too,” says Gooch.

  23. Hugh

    Interesting link I found at the FDL newsdesk:

    It concerns Pentagon planning for deployment of military forces domestically, and the initial moves in this direction. The money quote is at the end:

    The revelations on the NSA’s global surveillance programmes are just the latest indication that as business as usual creates instability at home and abroad, and as disillusionment with the status quo escalates, Western publics are being increasingly viewed as potential enemies that must be policed by the state

    1. AbyNormal

      one for the files Hugh…Thanks!

      a wow from commenter Billhook:
      Quote from the press release:
      – Research released today shows that within the next 10 years large parts of Asia can expect increased risk of more severe droughts, which will impact regional and possibly even global food security. On average, across Asia, droughts lasting longer than three months will be more than twice as severe in terms of their soil moisture deficit compared to the 1990-2005 period. This is cause for concern as China and India have the world’s largest populations and are Asia’s largest food producers.

      – Dr Lawrence Jackson, a co-author of the report, said: “Our work surprised us when we saw that the threat to food security was so imminent; the increased risk of severe droughts is only 10 years away for China and India. These are the world’s largest populations and food producers; and, as such, this poses a real threat to food security.”

      This report shows the predictable rise of crop failure and food shortages hitting China, which implies the strong possibility of this generating sufficient civil unrest to impose regime change, and thereby to end the coherence that underpins China’s bid for global economic dominance. From this perspective intentionally delaying the mitigation of global warming is merely a covert policy for the climatic destabilization of a rival power.

      It might be claimed that US intransigence on climate is only accidentally disrupting China’s agriculture, but if so, it is probably the first empire in history to be destabilizing its rival’s food supplies by accident.

      Yet the costs within the US are escalating rapidly, and with over 70% of the public recognizing AGW – despite the convenient circus of denial – it is only a matter of time before protests gain massive weight. The longer that can be delayed, and when necessary suppressed, the longer the brinkmanship of inaction can be maintained to ensure the crushing of China’s attempt to secure global economic dominance.

      One final point of this framing of US ‘public security’ policy is the exit strategy, without which letting AGW rip would have been implausibly rash, even for Cheney.
      His friend the nuclear weapons scientist, Edward Teller, provided it in ’95 in the form of a peer reviewed scientific paper on the feasibility and low cost of controlling global warming by the use of sulphate aerosols “should that some day be seen as desireable.”

      Exposing this genocidally amoral and inadmissible covert policy of a brinkmanship of inaction is the one option available for putting an end to it, so I hope you’ll give it some thought.

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