We're All Crazies Now

Vet Committed to Psych Ward for Criticizing Government

Even the most hard-bitten cynic among those reading this will have a hard time digesting just what happened to Iraq vet Brandon Raub. Be sure to read the entire series of articles on this case.

Virginia, which every year proposes and then attempts to enact laws that creep ever closer to fascism, finally crossed the finished line.

FBI, Secret Service and local police came to Raub's home, threw him to the ground, handcuffed him and hauled him off to the psych ward, where he was involuntarily committed for psychiatric evaluation. This is the law in Virginia. He was not charged with a crime.

Nevertheless, Raub was basically rendered by local police as a favor to the feds and ordered to stay 30 days in hospital on orders of a social worker. Raub's lawyer put it this way, "I’m friends with the local police; I could call them right now and probably get you committed if you were in Virginia. They can arrive at your door based on somebody’s testimony or your Facebook page and take you away to a mental hospital."

Every year, Virginia involuntarily commits 20,000 people, so this has become a growth industry for the state.

This is who we've become.

Iceland Shows World How to Fix an Economy

Imagine a world where government, faced with the aftermath of a calamitous economic meltdown, decided to punish those who, for years at a time, held their finger on the economic doomsday button. If, instead of strict austerity for citizens and a slop trough full of money for banks, enlightened leaders actually did the reverse; if they imposed sanctions on banks, and made sure social programs, pension funds, educational systems, infrastructure were all adequately funded before banks saw a red cent in bailout money - imagine it.

Imagine no more. Remember when Iceland's banking system collapsed? Icelanders took to the streets in the so-called Kitchenware Revolution, banging pots, throwing eggs at the Prime Minister's car and demanding he and his administration step down.

This revolt forced Iceland's President to stop payouts to predatory European banks and domestic creditors who fed on Icelandic goodies and brought the country to its knees. The taxpayers did something extraordinary (it is only extraordinary in the world we live in today) - they said enough. They said no, we won't bailout foreign banks and schemers, and NO, we won't even bail out Icelandic banks that played into this fraudulent system.

And remarkably, the politicians actually listened to the people and did the right thing. Imagine it.

Yes, dream, American citizen of such a thing happening here. Well, it did happen here on a small scale - it was called the Occupy movement. It was roundly scorned and ridiculed when it was not ignored by mainstream media, the financial oligarchs and just about everyone else. Except, that is, for the NYPD. They went in the other direction by demonizing, attacking, pepper spraying and arresting Occupiers as fast as they could, while protecting and serving the very banks that caused the mess.

Well now, in a moment of stunning veracity and clear-eyed perspicacity, the IMF has been forced to admit... that... well... maybe... just maybe... Iceland's approach was the right one. Maybe strangling Greece to death with austerity isn't exactly the best way to promote long-term healing of a damaged economy. Maybe pouring money into corrupt companies engaged in long-term cons and fraud, hoping they will use this senseless, no-strings-attached handout to help struggling citizens, maybe this wasn't so smart. It takes a genius to figure this complicated stuff out.

Three years after its government took a stand and decided to put its citizens first and foreign and domestic corporate creditors last, Iceland has recovered nicely, thank you. Imagine being able to say that about the US economy, about Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece. Yes, just imagine it.

Appeals Court to Brokers - Do the Wrong 'em Boyo

Let's say you have some money you want to invest. You go to a broker, who smiles, shakes your hand and assures you - you made a good choice. What's supposed to happen is the broker puts your money (it is still your money even though the broker has possession) into a dedicated client's account, to be used solely for the business it does on your (and other client's) behalf.

Your money can't be used for other, more routine brokerly business - the broker's personal investments, corporate investments, buying coke to snort off a hooker's ass in a hotel penthouse, insider trading, paying off the vig on gambling debts, that sort of thing.

For brokerages, many of which are attached to banks, that has long been more theory than practice, a dirty little industry not-so-secret. But judicially, legally, the theory was still supreme - there must be a firewall between corporate and client funds.

A recent appeals court decision has torn down that firewall, with prejudice, the death knell for common sense regulation of brokerages. You may recall Sentinel Management Group, a Chicago brokerage, that was caught using client funds as collateral on a huge bank loan, which loan was subsequently used to trade in risky investments. The banks CEO, Eric Bloom, and his assorted family members, as well as the head trader and other high level Sentinel officials traded in high risk securities for their personal benefit backstopped with client funds.

When these gambles went south and the loan came due in August 2007, Sentinel filed for bankruptcy. It seemed like an open and shut case, especially as Chicago's golden boy, Patrick Fitzgerald, brought the charges against Sentinel.

A few years later, this same scenario played out in the MF Global fiasco. Jon Corzine, head of MFG, still walks about a free man raising money for Obama's reelection campaign while several officers of Sentinel have finally been indicted for fraud (as of June 2012).

A trustee was appointed to oversee the fallout of Sentinel's bankruptcy. His job was made harder when Bank of NY Melton, the creditor on the original loan, demanded it be moved to the head of the line for repayment. A recent federal appeals court ruling affirmed just that recently, putting the interests of NY Melton before that of Sentinel clients.

The ruling is a sea change, a disaster for investors.

The appeals court ruling turned what was an industry standard on its head. And then fucked it for good measure, just so there are no lingering doubts about the integrity of the financial system. The court said that mixing corporate and client funds isn't necessarily fraud. Brokerage houses can now use client funds to pay off debts from any crazy shit they decide to gamble on. Does this sound familiar? It's like TARP, only without the government as middleman.

The court has streamlined corruption, throwing small investors under the big bank's steamroller. In effect, investor money placed in trust with brokerages isn't safe. Banks and brokerages should be given the benefit of the doubt, according to the court, "That Sentinel failed to keep client funds properly segregated is not, on its own, sufficient to rule as a matter of law that Sentinel acted ‘with actual intent to hinder, delay, or defraud' its customers."

Take some time with that quote and marvel at how far we've fallen. The banks, who's greed and corruption put us into a financial grave from which we've yet to emerge, steal client funds. But don't worry, say the appeals court justices, these financial geniuses may have done it for perfectly good reasons.

Breaking News - there are no good reasons to steal funds. Sentinel officials used client money because they wanted more, more, more, and didn't want to risk their own skin to get it. Easy money, just sitting there doing nothing, a cakewalk. Until they weren't financial geniuses anymore and lost it all, and they were relegated to being plain old crooks.

This ruling is a wake-up call for the zombies who haven't yet heard the warnings. It's also a get out of jail free card for Corzine, and a huge relief to the Obama administration. The court has just thrown small investors to the wolves. They'll get whatever scraps are left after the big banks and institutional investors pick over the carcass.

Proceed to the exit. Run don't walk.

It's Official: Fistful of Gold Has Less Bullshit Than NYTimes, WaPost, Weekly Standard, The Nation

Yes beloved reader(s), FOG has less bullshit than some media heavy hitters. See for yourself below, and check your own bullshit, at BlaBla Meter.

FOG Breaking story 'You Save My Ass, I'll Save Yours' registers 19 on the Bullshit index, 'Your text shows only a few instances of bullshit.'

This 28 July 2012 NY Times editorial, chosen willy nilly at random using FOG's complex randomizing algorithm, 'Governor Cuomo at the Controls' registered a whopping 29 on the Bullshit index.

A Washington Post editorial 28 July 2012 'The time for patience in Syria is over' received a bullshit index reading of 20.

The Weekly Standard honcho Fred Barnes unsurprisingly wins the Bullshit Gold Medal for this story in the most recent issue of the magazine, a Bullshit index reading of 32.

On the other end of the political spectrum, The Nation received a Bullshit index of 21 for this partisan story from 25 July 2012 by Eric Alterman.

Ladies and gentlemen, the results are clear, scientific and irrefutable: here at Fistful of Gold we are dedicated to shoveling through bullshit on your behalf, not spoon feeding it to you as 'news.' Donations and praise humbly accepted.

You Save My Ass, I'll Save Your Ass

Outsourcing Assassination to Private Contractors

Shortly after 911, Bush authorized CIA to set up a hit squad, the spook equivalent of Murder Inc. They cheered, finally the gloves were coming off. The agency, embarrassed by the largest lack of intelligence in US history, was back in the saddle, cowboying around the Middle East whacking people, grabbing people off the street, torturing them, disappearing them. Like the good old days. And Bush saw it and it was good - no accountability for him, it was CIA ops all the way, and those muffuckers know how to keep secrets (Kennedy[s] anyone?).

The program was so much fun and so successful and so secret, top agency pencil squeezers, knowing they would need a private sector job when the shit hit the fan, decided to bring Blackwater into the mix. This was spookery genius - insulate CIA from accountability for the dark arts, if it became known, and keep the largest private contractor in the US beholden to intelligence officials who would soon be out in the cold, hat in hand.

As anyone who can read knows, it's impossible to keep a secret for very long, especially something this fucking awesome. Word leaked out.

[Dream Sequence] Millions of people outraged by what Bush had wrought, marched in the streets, demanding his impeachment. He clung to his diminished office by stonewalling tenacious pitbull-like congressional investigations, until finally came the election of Barack Obama. Bush left office in utter disgrace. Obama, outraged by the Constitutional abrogations and the damage done to US standing in the world, launched a series of investigations that saw CIA officials, Cheney, Bush, Rumsfeld, Libby, Wolfowitz and other high ranking administration officials sent to Gitmo for the safety of all, 'the worst of the worst.' [Finis]

Obama inherited this program and decided it was so fucking awesome, he would keep it. But then CIA head Leon Panetta told congress and ruined the secret fucking awesomeness (word is that this was one of the reasons he was removed as CIA head). Did Obama put the kibosh on the program? Read on.

In 2007, during the Bush administration, Blackwater was caught smuggling guns, but the court case continued when Obama took office. He ordered DoJ to squelch all evidence of Blackwater's misdeeds to protect the fucking awesome assassination program, or simply to save Bush's ass, you decide. Either way, it was an act of immense cowardice and betrayal.

Inside this story, another even darker, even dirtier story has emerged. We did a previous piece on the narco-hitman Enrique Prado who became head of this CIA assassination squad (based no doubt on his impressive resume). That is why, when a federal organized crime investigation fingered Prado for his role in seven previous murders, CIA protected their guy, and kept him out of prosecutor's reach. The investigation was shitcanned. He was later poached from CIA by Blackwater who most likely thought him overqualified for the position.

Having run the fucking awesome assassination program for the US government, ipso facto for you and I (someone's gotta do it, was it going to be you?), the narco-hitman turned legit kept this cash cow in his portfolio at his new, much higher paying private sector job. So the US hired-out murder to a private company, accountable only to its shareholders, with zero federal oversight. Pretty good deal for Blackwater.

A highly credible source, initially skeptical that Blackwater contractors were actually killing people, took a trip to Afghanistan in 2011. While there he obtained confirmation that "Private contractors are whacking people like crazy over in Afghanistan for the CIA." Winning hearts and minds.

Does it all make sense now?

Fourth Estate in Foreclosure, Politicians Purchase for a Song

Confession - this story shocked us. It shouldn't have, we know better, but it did. We weren't sure what it took to get one of those high powered jobs at the Times or the Post, with high salary, thousands of readers, and built-in credibility. Well, now we know.

Journalists with the Times, the Post, Bloomberg, Reuters and several others let political operatives edit their stories. These fearless guardians of the Fourth Estate gave the subject of their stories final approval over what parts of their interview responses to include and what parts to cut.

The worst part is how damned civilized it all seems, how urbane and de rigueur. Nothing funny going on here, just business as usual, don't be alarmed we're professionals. What are they teaching in journalism school these days? And where are senior editors? How can this happen?

Will anyone lose their job? Don't count on it. The Times Managing Editor for news hard hitting self-critique, "Maybe we have to push back harder."

California Consumers Screwed by JP Morgan Gaming of Electricity Markets

JP Morgan screwed California consumers, and didn't even buy them dinner first. Since JP Morgan and other too big to fail banks (now even bigger) weren't held accountable for the financial monkeyshines that melted down the global economy, they've been busy scamming, scheming and thwarting with little thought of federal regulatory repercussions.

Bind your head before reading this story, otherwise it might explode. The California electricity market is overseen by the California Independent System Operator (CAISO), a state entity. Basically CAISO says hey power companies, we need 200 kilowatts of power today, place your bids. CAISO handles the auction and the resulting contract.

So far so good. But CAISO has in place a hinky mechanism, called bid recovery, whereby it compensates the losing bidders, ostensibly to offset their financial risk and baseline operating costs, and to ensure their ongoing participation in the electric market. Another twist is that in some instances, losing bidders can request up to double their theoretical (because they aren't generating the power to fulfill the contract) operating costs. Now do you see in part why your power bills are so high?

One further delineation - there are two electricity markets in California, the futures market and the daily market. For the daily market, CAISO fulfills current electricity needs, a measurable quantity based on demand, through auctions. Power companies bid to fulfill these contracts.

The futures market is where power companies bid on future electricity needs, which of course are prospective. What JP Morgan was doing was submitting artificially low bids to the futures market, ensuring they were in the game. CAISO's bidding process is automated, no human involvement required, so the bid was automatically accepted.

JP Morgan then artificially inflated their daily market bid to ensure it wouldn't have to fulfill the contract. In short, it bid low on futures contracts in order to be eligible for bid recovery, and bid high on the daily market in order to secure a hefty bid recovery return.

CAISO started noticing their payouts suddenly increased threefold. That's how they stumbled onto the scam, otherwise JP Morgan could have slowly drained the system for much, much longer. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission oversees energy market regulations, and through them CAISO was able to close the loophole JP Morgan was exploiting. But they're investment bankers, they found another loophole and in the course of five days, Morgan siphoned off over $5 million. FERC and CAISO were able to close this loophole also. But even this isn't the end of JP Morgan's corruption.

FERC started doing what federal regulators haven't regarding large banks, they actually started an investigation. They demanded company emails related to the scam. JP Morgan refused to hand them over, citing attorney client privilege, even on correspondence that didn't involve company attorneys. You can read all about that sideshow here.

JP Morgan doesn't own a power generating plant in California, how were they able to pull this off? It's not clear from the documents (CAISO sent two documents to FERC concerning JP Morgan trading, in March 2011 and again in June 2011) but it sounds like they were short selling. This is pure market speculation, known everywhere but Wall Street as gambling. Only in this case it was like playing blackjack wearing X-ray spectacles. They exploited a loophole in a very complex market.

Short selling is one of those asshole schemes investment banks exploit for no purpose other than to make money. It has no social, financial or economic benefit whatsoever. X company has a shitload of some asset that it pawns out to Y company, for a small rental fee. Y takes that stock, waits until the price is high, then sells it. Y then invests this money in something they believe, they hope, is undervalued, but which they believe, they hope, will increase in value over the short term. When this commodity price increases, they sell their stock. This profit generated from buying low and selling high is used to buy back the asset loaned from X. X gets its asset back and a small commission fee, Y pockets the profit from its trading.

JP Morgan made contractual obligations to provide power. They hedged their risk (ie actually winning a contract) via intimate knowledge of the computerized low bid/high bid mechanism. It's plain they were speculating on the market, not seriously involved in providing a necessary commodity to California consumers.

How much did JP Morgan make this way? Over $57 million. And this is a zero sum game, electricity markets, if costs go up, it gets passed directly to consumers. As JP Morgan's jackpot increased, electricity rates went up.

Yes You Poor Sod, The Rich Bastards are Laughing at You

Gordon Brown Sold UK Family Jewels for Peanuts

If you read one financial story this week, let it be this one. For several reasons. First, it reveals that Goldman Sachs approached then UK prime minister Gordon Brown and asked him to help a brother out. It seems a large US bank (the story hints that it wasn't Goldman) was heavily short gold (ie it made bets that the price would be low when it bought gold and high when it sold gold, the difference being their profit), such that it might be insolvent if gold continued at its current high price.

What is a politically connected bank to do when faced with the consequences of its own greed, short selling being the riskiest form of financial chicanery? If you are Goldman, you dispatch a former employee, whose wife ran Gordon Brown's office, to talk turkey to the Prime Minister. Apparently when a Goldman man issues dire warnings about global financial meltdowns unless bank X is saved to Prime ministers things get done.

The story accuses Brown of manipulating the gold market, selling 400 tons of UK gold at deflated prices in order to allow the troubled US bank to avoid losses on its short positions. Yes, even I was a little stunned by the cynicism of that move, and that is rare.

The story is also remarkable because it provides a lucid explanation of the rather arcane gold market, in particular a complex, ergo completely unnecessary, financial locution called a carry trade. When first introduced to this financial process, I wondered, Why? Why do this? What purpose does it serve? This story brought it all back - it serves no real purpose. It's a game finance assholes play among themselves. Most people play darts or pool, have a beer, bowl; stock brokers and bankers do this kind of shit.

Company A owns gold, but it's just sitting somewhere not doing anything. Company B rents that gold from A for a small sum, like a pawn shop in an alternative universe (the financial world). B then sells the gold dear on the open market (yes I know, it's not theirs to sell, hold on). With this loot they invest in some fluid commodity, hoping to make a quick turnaround profit. With this profit they then 'buy' back the gold they sold, only at a lower price than that at which they sold it. Sell high, buy low. B then returns A's gold, keeps the profit. A lot of moving parts, a lot of risk. Hence accusations that the gold market is rigged, otherwise shorting would be like playing russian roulette. What better way to skew the odds than to increase the number of bullets in the gun?

As astounding as these revelations are, to my mind the most sinister aspect of this episode is that it worked. Gordon Brown didn't blink when Goldman came to him and said, we need you to fix someone else's fuckup, and here's how you do it: manipulate the gold market, then sell UK public assets at firesale prices, just so, you know, we rich motherfuckers don't have to poormouth to our trophy wives over pheasant tartar at dinner.

'Come on Gordy, you're one of us now. Next time, Gordo, we'll do you for.' Cheerio wankers.

UPDATE

Here's an update on the gold story, containing a good explanation of the relationship between gold and fiat currency. Be sure to watch the video too, where the guest matter-of-factly states that the gold market is being, and has long been, rigged.

Someone's Lying About NSA Dragnet Surveillance

In the Freedom Corner, weighing in at CLASSIFIED employees and with an annual budget of CLASSIFIED - the NSA. Their fearless leader Keith Alexander recently gave a speech to a righty neo-con fink tank which you should watch with a salt mine at your back. He states that NSA isn't intercepting, reading and storing the private communications of US citizens. All US citizens. He called the charge "Baloney."

In the Commie Terrorist Enabling corner, weighing in at the usual non-profit stature, the Electronic Frontier Foundation waging a Davidesque battle against government spying and unnecessary secrecy. They've filed suit against NSA, which suit has now been joined by three ex-NSA whistleblowers. These three have given affidavits affirming that NSA is siphoning up communications of US citizens and storing and sifting them for data. Watch this recent interview in which Thomas Drake explains why he quit NSA, the extent of the spy agency's capabilities, its extra-constitutional excesses and a secret deal with the executive branch. He claims that NSA "entered into a secret agreement with the [Bush] White House in which NSA would become executive agent for this super-secret surveillance program... What you're seeing is the establishment of a surveillance society."

Alexander also made the claim, citing anti-virus company data, that the fight against hackers represents "the greatest transfer of wealth in human history." One wonders if its greater than the wealth transfer from US taxpayers to the elite bankers during the financial crisis.

He also despaired of US capabilities to defend against cyberattacks, which the US has declared an act of war, while failing to mention its own cyberwar against Iran, for which Stuxnet, Duqu and Flame were developed no doubt with vital input from NSA. Is the US government reading everyone's email, or as Drake put it, maintaining "a persistent universal wiretap on every single person?" They won't tell you.

What's clear is that someone is lying, either Alexander or the whistleblowers, who've each been savaged by government agents and paid a very high personal price for coming forward.

US Storing Nuke Waste in Trash Bins

You'd be excused for thinking the US has safe and secure storage for its nuclear waste. But you'd be wrong. Political cock blocking has left the DoE with few options but to store plutonium waste (half life of almost 25,000 years) in dumpsters, like any NY restaurant, out back in the alley.

TSA Behavioral Detection Program Nabs Palsy Victim

TSA is probably the least effective, least efficient, most reviled US government entity, and that's quite an accomplishment. They are infamous for low caliber employees. But, hey, they are always trying new things, attempting to foil terrorist plots with quantity, misdirection and hocus pocus, the Washington Generals of the security world.

For example, recognizing that US procedures at airports are slower, less effective and outrageously more expensive than Israeli procedures, TSA sought advice and training from Israelis. Hence the Behavior Detection Program.

Asking a TSA employee, no matter how good the training, to employ advanced behavioral and psychological techniques in order to uncover terrorists is simply a joke. A joke US taxpayers pay for, both monetarily and in frustration and time wasted at airports.

Here's the TSA Behavioral Detection Program methodology: TSA agent sidles up to irritable citizen waiting shoeless and beltless in a long line to be molested; TSA agent interrogates citizen by asking question after question after question, ending with, where you going and what are you doing there; citizen, shoeless, beltless, irritable, still in line, says shove off lardass; TSA agent announces they've got a suspect; TSA swabs suspects hands, searches bags, interrogates some more.

So good are the TSA behavior detection folks that recently they nabbed a suspect, a reporter suffering from partial facial paralysis. That's right, TSA proudly bagged its first palsy victim.

Pay No Attention to That Government Behind the Curtain

The Office of Legal Counsel is basically the President's lawyer. Most if not all executive branch decisions are reviewed by OLC so they will withstand judicial branch scrutiny. But the office's most controversial duty is to write Presidents get out of jail free cards in the form of legal opinions for such things as torture, assassination, warrantless searches, rendition, indefinite detention without habeus corpus, military tribunals and anything else a President wants done.

When Dick Cheney said torture was legal, rendition was legal, indefinite detention was legal - all these were only 'legal' because people like Jay Bybee, Steve Bradbury, John Yoo and others wrote OLC opinions providing the executive branch with a fig leaf to hide behind. Obama's OLC has okayed assassination, NDAA and other hijinks of highly suspect constitutionality.

In fact, OLC executive fig leaf manufacturing might be the only truly bipartisan activity in Washington. Perhaps that is why, since 1998, nearly 40% of Office of Legal Counsel Opinions are kept secret from the American people. Nearly half of the 'democratic' process of the executive kept behind the curtain.

DHS Criminal Problem

Since 2004, 2527 DHS employees have been convicted of crimes, with 1591 cases still open. DHS has not caught one suspected terrorist, has not foiled one plot. They have, however, doled out large amounts of cash to states for fusion centers, they given grants to states and localities for surveillance systems and weapons, and they set about creating a TSA-led checkpoint state throughout the US. TSA is now searching attendees at political rallies. Six TSA agents were checking bags at a recent Paul Ryan campaign stop.

DHS Stowaway Problem

What the hell is going on at DHS? Recently, the lid was pulled off the sexually charged atmosphere of Big Sis's inner circle. Who knew? She looks so... well, whatever it is, sex isn't the first thing comes to mind.

Now DHS wants to put the kibosh on the problem of stowaways. We haven't verified a single case of successful stowing, so it seems a solution in search of a problem. One wonders why they are looking for technology to catch stowaways and not something that can scan cargo containers for contraband, weapons, bombs, fake iPods, knockoff Gucci or exotic hardwoods.

Perhaps they have better things to do.

NYPD Spy Program - No Leads in Six Years

NYPD has a large counterterror operation. It was set-up and run by a CIA agent, it's funded in large part by federal grants, it includes missiles, agents in foreign lands, secret headquarters, a new all-encompassing surveillance system, license plate readers, radiation detectors - all sorts of cool shit.

It also includes comprehensive surveillance of Muslims, in their mosques, in their shops, on the streets, even in New Jersey. With all the resources expended, you might believe NYPD is making cases, kicking ass and taking names, guided by intelligence units that have become experts on Islam, and how to distinguish suspected jihadis from ordinary Muslims.

You'd be wrong. The unfortunately named Demographics Unit, NYPD's secret counterterror group, has admitted that their warrantless eavesdropping, surveillance, informants, databases - none of it produced a single lead in six years.

The officer heading up the NYPD Intelligence Division, Thomas Galati, makes a strong case for renaming that division to something like the DumDum Squad.

When plainclothes officers overhear two men speaking Urdu, they are instantly suspect. As Galati explains, "I’m seeing [sic] Urdu. I’m seeing [the officers] identify the individuals involved in that are Pakistani. I’m using that information for me to determine that this would be a kind of place that a terrorist would be comfortable in. Most Urdu speakers from that region would be of concern, so that’s why it’s important to me."

Not to be too obvious about it, but there are estimated to be 60 million Pakistanis who speak Urdu as their first language.

And the head of NYPD's Intelligence Division has just proclaimed that speaking Urdu is an inherently suspicious act. This is what millions and millions of dollars in counter terror training and resources buys at the end of the day - one fucking idiot. In charge.

Just to solidify his expertise among skeptics, Galati offers another example. When officers overhear two men talking in a Lebanese cafe for example, crack NYPD analysts are brought in. Are they from North or South or East or West Lebanon?

Here's where NYPD's expertise really shines forth, because if the speaker is identified as being from South Lebanon, Galati explains, "That may be an indicator of possibility that that is a sympathizer to Hezbollah because Southern Lebanon is dominated by Hezbollah."

A = B, B = C, therefore A = C; 2 + 2 = 4 - you see, the world we live in is ruled by logic and mathematical certainties, just like NYPD's counterterror operations.

LIBOR Biggest Banking Scandal in History

LIBOR is now officially the largest scandal in worldwide banking history. A staggering $300 trillion in contracts worldwide were adversely affected when banks and traders manipulated LIBOR in order to benefit themselves or their partners.

But the most surprising revelation in this Bloomberg report is how easy it was to cheat. One phone call to a floor trader was all it took to jiggle LIBOR up or down.

Treasury Oversight Fail 6.0

One of the conditions of the massive TARP bailout for select, and politically connected, companies was that Treasury had to approve executive bonuses, an attempt to reign in enormous year-end payouts to those who wrecked the economy.

And what a hash Treasury has made of it too. The huge bonuses continue, according to this TARP inspector general report, and Treasury continues business as usual.

Privatizing Cities for Fun and Profit

Honduras has ushered in the endgame in class warfare. And it's a breathtaking power grab by political elites against the plebes. Because Honduras political and economic systems aren't as developed as those of the US or EU countries, they are skipping several developmental steps straight to privatization of an entire city.

In this quixotic project they are being guided by American bankers and economists, who no doubt see this as a future model for America. One couldn't imagine a more scintillating wet dream for US bankers, private equity firms and international corporations.

The city of Trujillo is ground zero for the project. Why Trujullo you may ask? Look at a map. Trujillo is on the Caribbean coast, boasts a population of under 30,000, mostly Garifuna Indians living in fishing villages, is under-developed (in the eyes of US developers) and is ripe for the plucking.

Garifuna Indians live there. The Garifuna are descendants of Arawak and other indigenous indian tribes that, despite their best efforts, early European conquistadors and settlers were unable to completely eradicate. No worries, their descendants will finish the job, not with disease, horses, muskets and armor, but with a fountain pen.

The terms of the agreement would thrill the heart of a conquistador. A US developer is throwing $15 million on the table as an initial investment, a down payment on a gold mine. Here's why. Trujiullo will become what is called a free city, which is completely independent of any Honduran laws.

Yes, that's right. It is essentially a state within a state. Only this state will be run by rich people who will invite poor people in as laborers. The new state can negotiate treaties, lease-out the land, sign trade agreements, set their own immigration policy - anything an independent national government can do, this free city ruling clique can do.

This is a wholesale sellout of sovereignty to Mammon, coming soon to a banana republic near you.

Yes Virginia, They are Trying to Screw You

You know that peculiar feeling you have that the entire system is rigged against you? That it favors the rich and connected, who buy their way out of trouble? That powerful forces are aligned against honest, hard-working citizens who struggle to make ends meet and who never seem to catch a break?

Here's one explanation for why you feel that way.

Corzine Complains Law Unfair

Still not in jail. But whining about his treatment under the bankruptcy remediation process.

Corzine says that the bankruptcy trustee's plan to join his case with plaintiffs suits against MFGlobal's executive swindlers is unfair and will inhibit his ability to get off scot free with only a light wrist slap and an suitably affordable fine.

What is Corzine so worried about? DoJ second in command Lanny Breuer virtually assured he'd never wear an orange jumpsuit. He spoke to the NY Bar Association recently and spilled the beans on his own incompetence and Justice's problematic refusal to indict any white rich guys.

Breuer maintained that deferred prosecutions, a fancy term for a corporation admitting it crept over the line, paying a fine, and otherwise going about its business, and the DoJ's tactic of choice when dealing with the rich, powerful and politically connected (fuck the rest of y'all), was the best way to deal with corruption on Wall Street. Deferred prosecutions, he said, have “a truly transformative effect on particular companies and, more generally, on corporate culture across the globe.[They] have the same punitive, deterrent, and rehabilitative effect as a guilty plea.”

Corzine has nothing to worry about.

EuroZone Death Spiral

The Next Time the Economy Tanks

Insider's are dumping Morgan Stanley shares quietly and quickly. They know what no one wants to hear so shortly before an election, which will most likely be determined by voter's thoughts on the economy and who can best fix it.

Morgan Stanley will shit the bed, and Wall Street will move quickly to clean up the mess. How? By destroying evidence, raiding client accounts ala MFGlobal, Peregrine, Sentinel, cleaning up hinky balance sheets and quietly convincing some sucker to buy Morgan for a song.

At least this is the prediction of one analyst who believes the latest catastrophe is already in progress, coming soon to towns across the country.

Another day older and deeper in debt.

This is Why Pension Funds are Failing and Cities are Broke

Another regulatory failure, another big bank con job, another bailout, another failure of local officials on due diligence. Another day, another pension fund hits the skids, another municipal bankruptcy.

Gone in 60 Seconds - Another $10 Million in the Hole

In the time it takes you to read this brief message, the US will have added another $10 million to the national debt. That's ten million dollars every sixty seconds.

Here is Proof Jon Corzine Should be Behind Bars

CME Group was MF Global's auditor after the shit hit the fan at the investment company. CME executive chairman testified before the Senate that his auditors were present when an MF Global employee stated for the record that Jon Corzine knew sequestered client funds were being raided to shore up gambling losses from risky investments.

The testimony also hints at how sequestration works - client funds are kept in a separate account. In order to use those funds, the company has to actively, knowingly and with full intention withdraw money from sequestered accounts. This is no accidental, haphazard activity, as this testimony demonstrates.

Damning also is the assertion that Corzine's knowledge of raided client accounts was passed along to DoJ and CFTC, the federal regulator. DoJ and CFTC used this evidence to do exactly nothing.

Credit Card Companies Scamming for Profits

Credit card companies have seen the virtual writing on the iPhone screen. And they are running scared. Mobile payment apps, digital wallets, consumer outrage over hidden fees and extortionate interest rates, federal regulations - it's enough to make a corporate executive cry over his foie gras and double expresso gold flake latte.

Credit card companies have taken a page from bank's response to the foreclosure mess - dazzle them with bullshit. As the economy circled the drain for the last five years, consumers racked up credit card debt of alarming proportions. Now the credit card companies want to collect.

So they are blizzarding the courts with lawsuits based on fraudulent paperwork, and inciting employees to provide what one judge has called 'robo-testimony.' The companies often add hidden fees and interest charges to the total debt, which, although news reports won't call it such, amounts to fraud, or even extortion.

One Brooklyn judge claims that 90% of the cases that come before him suffer from bullshit paperwork, and that the companies cannot provide proof that the amount owed is accurate.

Aaaaand... It's Gone

Okay, it's ancient history measured in internet years, but in light of MF Global, Sentinel, Peregrine, LIBOR, HSBS, Fannie and Freddie's inability to pay back TARP... hell, scratch all that: in light of the total US economy, which more than ever seems like a poorly designed Ponzi scheme, this seems more and more like prophecy.

Fannie and Freddie Funnels for Backdoor Bailouts of Banks

An armored car pulls up to the backdoor of a Bank. Government accountants, politicians and Obama administration officials all wait expectantly. The armored door opens and huge bins of cash are rolled into the bank, bin after bin after bin. Who knew that such a small truck could hold so much loot?

The onlookers cheer wildly. The bank officials cheer wildly. US citizens have once again paid the government to fuck them over.

The Home Affordable Refinance Program, or HARP, and Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) were supposed to benefit homeowners, as the names imply. But don't believe it. Once again, the banks reap the harvest.

HARP/HAMP were supposed to help people underwater on their mortgages refinance their loans, or provide cash to offset the principle owed, in essence, sending them back to the banks in a more favorable position to refinance for new, better terms.

Here's how it's really working. Fannie and Freddie guarantee home loans made by banks. During the housing bubble banks falsified loan paperwork on an industrial scale, so F & F were guaranteeing fraud. After the shit hit the fan and the economy teetered into the toilet we still haven't crawled out of, Treasury developed HARP/HAMP. Normally, F & F would send fraudulent loans back to the banks that made them, absolving themselves of legal liability. In an alternative universe ruled by reason and common sense this is called accountability.

Under terms of HARP/HAMP, F & F could no longer throw the bad loans back to the banks. Instead F & F assumed this liability. So, HARP/HAMP provides relief, ie cash, to homeowners to pay down the principle on their underwater mortgage. This money goes to the banks. If owners walk, F & F are liable. If the owners continue to make payments, the banks have made money on the initial cash infusion and via ongoing loan payments.

It doesn't get any clearer than that. The armored car full of US taxpayer money is parked behind every too-big-to-fail bank right now. Now we learn, surprise surprise, that F & F is having trouble paying off its TARP obligations. Why? Because the Obama administration has allowed banks to offload their toxic assets onto F & F, or, in other words, onto the shoulders of US taxpayers.

This is being spun as good for taxpayers and homeowners.

Now California has taken this idea and streamlined it, funneling money directly to the banks, without F & F as middlemen. Where did this money come from? US Treasury. So taxpayers in the 49 other states are paying to bail out the exact people who caused the housing crisis. God Bless America.

California City Does Surveillance Old School

Lancaster California is kind of retro, a revolver in a semi-automatic world. Not for them fancy new surveillance blimps, or those newfangled drones everyone's talking about. No sir, Lancasterians want the human touch. That's why they bought a surveillance plane piloted by a real live human being.

It may be just a plane but it's packed with gear providing full-scale surveillance of the entire city via real-time video streaming. But don't worry, it's just for criminal activities. The police said so.

And There Goes the Fourth Amendment

An appeals court has ruled that police don't need a warrant to track a suspect's cellphone. The legal reasoning defies logic and common sense, and displays vast ignorance of cell-phone technology and its implications for personal privacy.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has a good rundown on the decision. The court documents are here.

A close reading reveals at least one surprising fact. At one point, while driving, the defendant had his cell phone GPS deactivated, preventing DEA from tracking him. DEA then requested the carrier turn on the phone's GPS. The court, in it's ignorance, considered this tracking in real time, ergo legal, ergo no need for a warrant.

This, surely, is another creep too far. This isn't the last anyone will hear of law enforcement's remote and warrantless GPS activation.

UPDATE

If anyone doubted reports on the demise of the Fourth Amendment, they need only read this.

Trapwire

Trapwire is a massive surveillance subscription service. It was developed by Abraxas, whose board is stuffed with exCia spooks. Trapwire data mines DHS, FBI and most other government agency's Suspicious Activity Reports and threat assessments, it trolls social media, including a DoD program called Earnest Voice that creates 'sock-puppet' accounts for social media spying ops, and ties together private and public surveillance feeds from cameras throughout the US and even globally.

Just for good measure, Abraxas bought out Anonymizer, Inc, supposedly a service to protect privacy and shield user's online identity. Anonymizer users will want to check out alternative services immediately.

In case you missed it, Wikileaks recently released an email dump from Texas intelligence contractor Stratfor. Stratfor provides intelligence and security analysis to subscribers and US government entities. Reading the company's internal emails is a dismal experience. You see just what a joke government national security contracting to private corporations really is.

Stratfor worked closely for a time with one Jamie (or James as he's known in court documents) Smith, a con-man working the national security beat for all its worth. This is a much larger story and outside the scope of Trapwire but you can read about his cons here, here and in these court documents.

Stratfor hawked Trapwire to its subscribers while not mentioning they get a commission on sales. The surveillance system is used by the Pentagon and police forces in DC and LA, with more cities lining-up to test the system.

Through this twisted web, US taxpayers are subsidizing a good-old boy network of former spies, wanna-bes, hucksters and con-men looking to cash-in on national security hysteria. Below is a list of links to stories about Trapwire and Stratfor.

First Surveillance Blimps Appear Over US

Pretty soon, straight out of science fiction, the skies will be full of blimps. The helium-filled monstrosities, longer than a football field and over seven stories tall will slowly navigate the skies, an unblinking eyeball of continual surveillance to keep your revolutionary ass in line. If you live in New Jersey you might have already seen one patrolling the skies. Ogden Utah wants one but the idea was shot down by FAA.

Microsoft Does Evil - But Only For Profit

The infamous Total Information Awareness system ogled over by government spook and intel types has finally found a home in NYC. TIA was the notorious all-encompassing surveillance program conceived of by disgraced Iran-Contra stooge John Poindexter. But the program was too much, even for a Congress that has no problems with retroactive immunity for telecoms, the Patriot Act, the NDAA, presidential assassination programs, undeclared shadow wars, destruction of torture evidence, undeclared cyberwarfare, crackdowns on whistleblowers, elite support for declared terrorists, ginned-up intelligence reports that led to war, monumental waste and graft in Iraq and Afghanistan, wristslaps for Wall Street, DEA murders on foreign soil and all that shit.

But any secretive surveillance program, given enough time and lobbying dollars, is a golden opportunity for private contractors, not to be missed because of pesky constitutional restrictions. Those can and have been dispensed with by a compromised Congress and the disastrous Obama administration.

Ladies and gentlemen, Microsoft is now a surveillance contractor. In conjunction with NYPD it has developed a TIA-like system it hopes to sell to other cities and intelligence agencies globally.

NYC officials have long envied London its famed Ring of Steel, a net of over 10,000 surveillance cameras scattered throughout the city. Londoners going about their daily life are caught over 300 times per day on this system. This sends shivers of jealousy through the cold, clandestine hearts of NYPD Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and Mayor Bloomberg.

This is the future of life in NYC, and most major American cities. Or as Bloomberg says about this pervasive surveillance system and the philosophy behind it, "That's just something you're going to have to learn to deal with."

Because it's not enough for the city's force to be nearly three times larger than the FBI, to have anti-aircraft missiles, to have agents embedded with foreign intelligence agencies. No, it needs a Ring of Steel too, or Domain Awareness System (these systems always have bland names, like Total Information Awareness) as Microsoft/NYC are calling it.

This system links surveillance cameras, license plate readers, disparate police and intelligence databases, radiation detectors and private industry data such as phone records, DMV information and any other database they can access without a warrant.

For those who don't believe NYPD can, and does, access phone records and track people using their phone's GPS, you had best brush up on this, this and this, as well as a recent appeals court case that has fundamentally dismantled the Fourth Amendment.

The ruling is a law enforcement wet-dream, but a chafey dry hump for everyone else. Here is a deconstruction of the case, or try to grasp the twisted logic in the court's appeals ruling. Read this document carefully if you want to see how judges are creating law about current technologies and their implications that they quite simply don't understand.

Taxpayers paid $40 million for a system that spies on them 24/7, and which NYC will be hawking to other cities and countries, for a cut of course. NYC stands to receive a 30% commission on any sales of DAS. Will that money be distributed to the taxpayers, the true shareholders who paid for this all-seeing-eye?

US Owns the Cloud

Barely noticed updates to FISA statutes gives US intelligence and law enforcement agencies the legal right to access anything held on US servers. In effect, anything stored in the cloud on American soil is fair game for government snoops.

CyberWar Rules Kept Secret

Rules defining when the US can use drones, on whom, where and how decisions are made are classified. So too are new rules for when the President can use cyberwarfare. That hasn't prevented the US from using its weapons of mass cyber destruction (Stuxnet, Duqu, and their children). Obama and his team have taken secrecy as their mandate for a second term.

Stuxnet Comes Home to Roost

Stuxnet, developed by the US with help from Israel, targeted Iran's nuclear program by exploiting a vulnerability in the software that controlled enrichment turbines. These turbines were made by the German company Siemens. Siemens provided US intelligence with technical data which was then used to create Stuxnet which in turn sabotaged the turbine's operating system.

Cheers all around in the US intelligence community. They thought themselves pretty clever and the Obama administration leaked details of the program to boost his chances for re-election later in 2012.

Who, except for everyone, could have seen this coming, as unknowable, as unimaginable as someone flying planes into the twin towers?

A security researcher has found flaws in US-based, Siemens-designed network systems, that could allow hackers access to SCADA systems using this equipment. Where in the world did anyone get the idea for this kind of thing?

FBI Cyber Cop Goes Through Revolving Door, Wants to Sell You Safety

The divide between security researchers and the FBI on cybersecurity couldn't be wider. The FBI's former top cyber investigations director recently headlined the Black Hat security conference, basically saying the government can't provide safety against cyberattacks, and that private industry needed to step up to the challenge. You hackers out there also need to step up and do your patriotic duty, because, said the former Feeb, Lives. Will. Be. Lost. "Our failure to [commit to the cause of cybersecurity] means people are going to get hurt and people are going to die."

And golly, by the way, I'm now president of a security vendor, don't you want to buy some of my shit?

Hollywood Yanks Chain, DoJ Barks

Just how far will the DoJ go to please entertainment industry corporations? This far. An English student set up a site that points people to free online movies and tv shows. He didn't host any movies, no tv shows, he merely provided links to other host sites. DoJ is getting ready to extradite him on charges of copyright infringement. If convicted, he could do 10 years.

The Brits are fine with sending one of their citizens abroad in shackles. Perhaps extradictee Richard O’Dwyer should be thankful though that he didn't get the Samir Khan treatment, killed by a drone strike, or the Javed Iqbal treatment, jailed for 5 plus years for material support for terrorism. Khan's only 'crime' was editing and publishing a jihadi magazine. Iqbal provided a Hezbollah tv channel to NY subscribers. Maybe O'Dwyer is getting off light.

On this issue, like on many issues, the major media lacks balls to call a turd a turd. The NYT story presents 'serious' discussion from MPAA lawyers, who are as credible as their industry lobby-shill, Chris Dodd and his DC-to-Hollywood revolving door cronies, when in fact, this case is complete and utter bullshit, and someone should say so, starting with the journalist. FOG is calling you out Somini Sengupta. Do yourself and your readers a favor, this turd? It is indeed a turd.

New Roosevelt Corollary

Under the guise of the drug war, the US has sent military troops to Guatemala.

Previous US involvement in Guatemala resulted in 36 years of war, establishment of drug pipelines and smuggling routes, 100s of thousands of civilian deaths, US trained death squads, complete destruction of the economy, plundering of national resources by the elite, and overall misery for the majority of Guatemalans.

We'll get it right eventually.

CIA Takes One for the Team

CIA recently declassified its assessment of the intel fiasco surrounding Iraq's phantom weapons of mass destruction. In it, the agency blames analysts blinded by preconceptions, or what it calls "analytic liabilities."

Bullshit. When have you ever heard about CIA declassifying anything that reflects poorly on itself?

Justice - the US Way

The US Department of Justice [sic] put the final kibosh on any prosecutions for US torture of illegally detained prisoners - just in the nick of time. After Gaddafi's fall in Libya, prisons were opened up, and formerly secret archives were plundered, taken god-knows-where.

But some prisoners were in Libyan jails because the US handed them over to Gaddafi to be investigated tortured, after these men were first captured and tortured in far-flung places like Afghanistan by US forces or intelligence agents.

That Bush administration officials admitted to waterboarding only three men throughout the course of their torture regime was never credible.

A new report by Human Rights Watch documenting US rendition and torture of captured Libyans and their subsequent transfer to the torture regimes of brutal leaders such as Gaddafi was just released.

The report makes for some grim reading. Perhaps DoJ, which has continually asserted that it didn't have the evidence to proceed with torture prosecutions, should have read it. But now AG Holder has finally told the world to go fuck itself, to stop holding its breath over justice for rendition, torture and murder of illegally detained terrorism suspects. There won't be accountability for torture, kidnapping and murder - its Justice the US way.

So, CIA did Gaddafi a favor by softening up and then handing over Libyans who worked to overthrow his regime. Then, when the winds of fortune changed, the US bombed the shit out of him. Mission accomplished.

Now the Agency has called again on its old ally Al Queda to fight a proxy war for the US this time in Syria. It also required the Agency provide transport and arms for the Islamists from Libya to the battle in Syria.

What did the US gain by helping 'liberate' Libya? An unstable country still struggling to define itself, and now, the deaths of four US embassy staff, including the US ambassador, at the hands of irate Libyans, the same Libyans the US/NATO liberated from Gaddafi's tyranny.

A mob attacked the US embassy in Benghazi because of this hysterically funny film, made by an Israeli Jew living in the US. The mystery is how anyone could sit through enough of it to become irate.

But here it is in one tight neat little package, US justice, aka unintended consequences of ill-considered, expedient militarism, or blowback.

Kamikazes the Next Logical Step in Drone Warfare

Does anyone think this tactic might, just might, be used against the US one day? No problem; if the US does it it's asymmetrical warfare, if anyone else does it it's terrorism.

Media Tale of Two Arms Dealers

US weapons exports = GOOD.

Chinese weapons exports = BAD.

Civilian Drone Death Cover-up

Why do they hate us? Here's why.

Shooting Jihadis in a Wadi

US soldiers on the ground, air strikes by fighter jets and drones alike, ongoing Special Forces operations - Iraq, sure, Afghanistan, yep, Pakistan, absolutely, Yemen, yessiree bob.

The newest (not that new really) US war is in Yemen. Did you miss it? Did Congress, whose constitutional duty it is, draw up and pass a declaration of war? No. Did President Obama seek authorization to go to war in Yemen? No. Did [insert your favorite media outlet here] alert its readers and viewers to this undeclared, shadow war?

Since 911, all it takes is one word, Terrorist, to justify bombing the beallah out of anyone, anywhere with no sanction, no governor on executive power, with little discussion but with great apathy from the American electorate. The US has killed so many so-called terrorists in Pakistan and Afghanistan that it's running out of targets. Yemen on the other hand is like shooting jihadis in a wadi.

The American people are, in general, so ignorant of what their government is doing in their name, it's a wonder this administration and most US federal agencies are so obsessed with secrecy, leaks or disclosures of any kind. Outrage has a lifespan of one Twitter cycle.

If a piece of unfortunate news about the government's doings somehow gets reported, the Obama administration deploys its super weapon of mass distraction Joe Biden to shove his foot into his mouth again (take one for the team Joe!). It will surely get twitted about for several hours afterwards until everyone gets bored or the latest naked celebrity pics hits the street.

Unfortunate Nomenclature Reveals True Objectives in Afghanistan

The Pentagon has unintentionally revealed why the US is still in Afghanistan, despite reports that al Queda, the stated reason we are still fighting, has been effectively neutralized. DoD and US Geological Survey officials at the Afghanistan embassy recently announced that they are constructing a 'treasure map' of the nation's natural resources.

But don't worry, the US will stake no claims on those precious resources. A USGS official reassured all saying, "[The Afghanis] … are eager to take leadership and ownership of these [mining] projects and learn how to do it because they’re excited about rebuilding."

This in a country where only 6% of the rural population has electricity.

The Tale of Two Invasions

The Iraq invasion was a disaster from the gitmo. A full accounting has only recently been completed. The result has been a silent yawn among the electorate, who would rather track the latest negative Obomney ad than examine what the government is doing in its name with its money.

For those with short attention spans, here's a quick breakdown. The Final Forensic Audit of Iraq Reconstruction Funds had this to say,

SIGIR audits, inspections, and investigations have found serious weaknesses in the government’s controls over Iraq reconstruction funds that put billions of American taxpayer dollars at risk of waste and misappropriation. The precise amount lost to fraud and waste can never be known, but SIGIR believes it is significant. As of June 30, 2012, SIGIR audit reports had questioned $635.8 million in costs.

As outrageous as $650 million (at least) being squandered is the admission that no one knows how much was wasted, where it went, who got it or what they did with it. And the American public, politicians, the media pundocracy and the military industrial complex simply throw up their hands - What can be done?

Yes, a disaster, but if there's anything Americans are good at it's learning lessons from past mistakes. That's why a new audit of Afghanistan reconstruction spending is so cheering - only an estimated $400 million in Afghanistan reconstruction funds were wasted, lost to fraud, corruption, incompetence or graft. That's a net gain (well a gain on a loss) of $235 million (at least) over Iraq, proof that the US has learned important lessons in executing its wars.

Footnote - there is, however, an estimated $36 billion in unspent funding for upcoming and proposed projects in Afghanistan, so anything can happen.

Congress Buys Pentagon Very Expensive Mothballs

Congress has decided to fund planes, ships and weapons systems the Pentagon no longer wants. American democracy in action.

Why is Pentagon Manufacturing Flu Vaccine?

DARPA, the Dr. Frankensteins of the Defense Department, has produced 10 million doses of flu vaccine in just one month. Why? According to a DARPA press release, "U.S. military forces are the front line of U.S. national security, but as a globally deployed force they are also on the front line of any new pathogen-based health threat that may emerge."

Translation: because US bases are sprouting like weeds globally, because US policy dictates we be the world's insomniac police force, because we spend more on defense than the next 17 countries combined, US military forces are vulnerable to pandemic especially in the third world countries we just love to invade, inhabit, and purge of resources.

But there's something here doesn't quite ring true. Why not run a trial to scale, produce some fraction of 10 million doses in a reduced time frame? Why 10 million, which is one hell of lot of vaccine, and which must have cost US taxpayers a pretty penny? This story smells.

Torture Worked Say Torturers

Three people intimately involved in the US black site torture regime recently held a reunion of sorts. Michael "Revolving Door" Hayden, John "Only Following Orders" Rizzo, and Jose "Torture Worked So I had to Destroy the Tapes" Rodriquez spoke at an American Enterprise Institute forum recently, each going to great lengths to explain why torturing rendition detainees was good, necessary, American and fruitful.

Rizzo was CIA's lawyer who provided legal cover for the rendition and torture programs; Hayden is former CIA chief, and Rodriquez headed the clandestine branch that oversaw black sites, rendition and torturing (and recording) detainees. He destroyed tapes of interrogations that included water boarding, stress positions and other forms of torture.

Wal-Mart Employees Detain Woman for Using Cash

A woman buying $150 worth of Christmas presents for her children paid for her purchases in cash with one hundred dollar bill one fifty. Possibly because she's Latino, the cashier took the cash, decided it was fake, and ripped it in half, whereupon the metallic anti-counterfeit strip was exposed to plain sight.

The woman demanded to see a store manager. The manager appears, asks what happened. The woman told her story, and showed him a different one hundred dollar bill she got from selling her car as evidence. The manager took that bill and ripped it in half.

Then the manager and other store employees called the police and detained the woman in the front of the store for two hours until police arrived. The police determined the money was real, whereupon the store manager handed the two ripped hundreds back to the woman. She demanded unripped bills.

Now the woman is suing Wal-Mart.

Always wondered how Wal-Mart could sell their China-made shit so cheap.

Secret Service Rented U-Haul Stolen in Detroit

Questions: They have to go to U-Haul? The Secret Service can't afford its own trailer, complete with fucking lojack? Were they with prostitutes at the time?

US Most Dangerous City Shutters Police Department - Criminals Rejoice

Camden NJ, easily one of America's most dangerous cities, is closing down its police department.

Camden's mayor claims it can't afford a unionized police force any longer. This harkens to tactics used by the GOP throughout the country. In Wisconsin, Scott Walker busted public sector unions and had to battle a recall election. Governors and GOP legislators in Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Florida, South Carolina among others have sought to bust unions outright, if not to severely reduce their maneuverability.

So it comes as a surprise to some that Camden's mayor is a Democrat. Nevertheless, the FOP union in Camden is kaput, with one swoosh of the mayoral pen. The county will pick up police duties for the city of Camden, an idea so problematic it beggars belief.

Union busting is but one tactic in a conservative, pro-business, trickle down agenda, no matter which party is in power. If any further proof were wanting that political differences matter much less than class differences, behold Camden. Closing the municipal police department is but step one. The closer will be when police functions for the city are outsourced not to another governmental entity but to private industry.

This has every likelihood of becoming a trend. NJ Governor Chris Christie, inexplicably beloved by Republicans, firmly endorsed the plan, saying he stakes his reputation on its success. Depends on one's definition of success, but Christie is hailing it as "a win for everybody."

What could possibly go wrong?

Stingrays

Do you sit around worrying about the end of privacy? Well we here at FOG do, which is why this article from the Czech Republic got our attention. Czech police have tracked the increase in cellphone interception hardware known as IMSI Catchers.

Well this got our attention here at FOG. We remembered a story about the Metropolitan London Police employing a device that captured all cellphone activity, calls and texts, within a certain radius by sending out a decoy signal, in effect, pretending to be a cell phone tower.

That's not all. The device had the ability to nuke cellphones with a 10 kilometer range, essentially acting as a remote kill switch.

Yes Virginia, the FBI has them too. So do the US military and every US spook agency, and they didn't wait around for a court to decide their legality. They are being used every day, only evidence of their use is being washed from investigative records. They are known generically as stingrays.

You will notice that the Wall Street Journal article postulates that these devices cannot listen in on calls. That's parsing, as there are any number of plug-ins available to tap into the intercepted signals. But it also speaks to the secrecy the FBI has thrown over this technology. If criminals in the Czech Republic can listen in on calls, do you think law enforcement would forego this option?

A US appeals court recently deemed this warrantless tracking legal.

Now do you worry about the end of privacy?

Some Call it Technology, Some Call it Mark of the Beast

Parents who are totally cool with TSA agents molesting their terrorist-suspect children in order to ensure the safety of all other passengers might want to consider enrolling their kids in Moss Bluff Elementary in Louisiana.

Moss Bluff is introducing palm scanners in its school cafeteria. For elementary school kids. To eat lunch.

UPDATE

A San Antonio high school and middle school are implementing RFID tracking for all students. The spychip technology is getting the full propaganda treatment, and is being rebranded not as a constant surveillance tool, but as a 'smart id' card. Genius. Putting the word 'smart' before something inside a school is a surefire winning strategy.

The Great Commodities War Has Already Begun

Why is China buying up large swaths of Africa?

Why is Russia planting a flag beneath the North Pole?

Why are Japan and China and Vietnam and the Philippines disputing islands in the South and East China Seas?

Why are wealthy nations buying up farmland in Africa?

Why is the US still in Afghanistan?

Because a new world war has begun, a contracted battle for increasingly scarce resources.

Judge Caves to Security Apparatus

The Orange County Muslim spying scandal should be required learning for all high school and college students. It's a fascinating and complex case, deconstructed in a very good This American Life episode, The Convert.

The next, and possibly last chapter, of this story has now been written. A federal judge threw out the lawsuit filed by OC Muslims against the FBI, saying proceeding with the case would jeopardize national security. Another judicial surrender to the monolithic national security apparatus.

This is Why New Orleans Needs The Times Picayune

When New Orleans venerable Times Picayune announced it would cease daily publication and become a three day a week paper with a heavy emphasis on online content, it was a turning point for the city it served and newspaper publishing in general.

This is why New Orleans, now more than ever, needs the Picayune.

Al Queda Goes for the Drone

It's only a matter of time before a terrorist group, a disgruntled geek, or someone unleashes a drone, either kamikaze style or filled with explosives, inside the US. It almost happened in Gibraltar.

Extraordinary Rendition for Mexican Drug Suspects

Anyone, even those with the shallowest knowledge of the US extraordinary rendition program, wherein CIA snatched suspected terrorist suspects off the street in foreign cities and sent them to secret black sites to be tortured, could see this coming.

According to a Stratfor email recently released by Wikileaks, there is a "shitton" of US undercover operatives in Mexico ostensibly working on intelligence gathering on Mexican drug cartels. They are largely ignored by Mexican officials so to preserve the illusion of plausible deniability. It also frees US agents to employ methods they couldn't use in the US, "kidnapping [Mexican cartel members] to put them before a judge in the U.S."

As the US claims dominion over the earth, especially over a failed state like Mexico, practically speaking the 51st US state, a suspected Mexican cartel member can expect no better treatment than any of the hundreds of suspects rendered without any explanation or justification or legal niceties. Snatching a Mexican citizen off the streets of his own country and bringing him before the bar of justice in the US therefore, per the legal reasoning behind rendition, is not kidnapping. It's justice.

It won't be long before rendition is so common, an industry will grow up around it.

NPR's Propaganda on Syria

The decline continues in NPR's national security coverage. FOG has long been dismayed at NPR's national security coverage. Dina Temple-Raston, NPR's lead national security correspondent, has proven herself to be little more than a government stenographer, dutifully reporting whatever her high level government contacts have to say about the crisis du jour.

Her latest story about al Queda in Syria is no exception. She 'reports' that US officials discovered a disturbing YouTube video that purportedly shows al Queda has infiltrated the Free Syrian Army rebel movement. FOG, and indeed all Americans, should be comforted knowing that billions in US counterterror spending is not being wasted on silly things like human sources on the ground, or real, live information gathered inside Syria.

A YouTube video has disturbed US counterterror officials. Wow. Think of the implications for US national security, think of the high powered intel, the meetings, analysts, technology and resources poured into that disturbing discovery. Really, googling 'YouTube al Queda' is not something just anyone without a coveted high level security clearance could think of.

As usual in a Temple-Raston story her sources are two government officials and an academic, sources who just might have a political agenda and their jobs to defend. That's it. She doesn't even bother consulting her colleague Kelly McEvers who has done some good reporting from the warzone, including inside Syria.

Google 'al Queda in Syria' and you'll discover that if US officials are still unsure that jihadists are fighting with FSA in Syria, they should all be fired for incompetence immediately. Does Temple-Raston have access to Google? I'd gladly send her several links to stories confirming al Queda's growing influence among the rebels.

But government officials and Temple-Raston herself want to make it clear that foreign jihadists are infiltrating the rebel army, not working alongside it every day, not a constituent component of its ranks. Her evidence? The word of a counterterror expert academic, and US government officials. This isn't journalism, even by today's elastic definition of the word.

While Temple-Raston is sitting on her perfumed ass in Washington DC duly quoting US officials, there are reporters on the ground in Syria talking to real live al Queda fighters. Her report provides no new information whatsoever, it isn't even a story. This, on the other hand, is.