Why Does No One Speak of America’s Oligarchs?

Via: Naked Capitalism

One of the striking elements of the demonization of Cyprus was how it was depicted as a willing tool of Russian money launderers and oligarchs. Never mind the fact, as we pointed out, that Cyprus is not a tax haven but a low-tax jurisdiction, and in stark contrast with the Caymans and Malta, has double-taxation treaties signed with 46 nations and has (now more likely had) with six more being ratified. Nor is it much of a tax secrecy jurisdiction, according to the Financial Secrecy Index. Confusingly, in the overall ranking, lower numbers are worse (Switzerland as number 1 is the baaadest) but in the secrecy score used to derive the rankings, higher is worse, with 100 being utterly opaque. The total rank is a function of “badness” (secrecy score) and weight (amount of business done). You’ll notice that all the countries ranked as worse than Cyprus have secrecy scores more unfavorable than it, with the exception of Germany, which is a mere 1 point out of 100 less bad, and the UK, which scores considerably lower (Nicholas Shaxson, author of Treasure Islands, would take issue with that reading, but he takes a more inclusive view of the boundaries of a financial services industry. For the UK, thus he not only includes the “state within a state” of the City of London, but also the UK’s secrecy jurisdictions, such as the Isle of Man, in his dim view of the UK as well as the US on secrecy). And even so, its greater volume of hidden activity gives it a much worse overall ranking. Of countries 21 tp 30, only 3 rank as less bad on secrecy: Canada, India, and South Korea.

And as far as how many oligarchs have deposits there, even the New York Times, in a story framed around a lawyer who sets up shell companies for Russian investors, mentions in passing at the end:

Any dirty money flowing through Cyprus, however, is dwarfed by funds generated by legitimate businesses looking for easy and legal ways to avoid taxes. There are so many Russian companies registered in Cyprus for tax reasons that the tiny country now ranks as Russia’s biggest source of direct foreign investment, most of it from Russian nationals through vehicles registered in Cyprus.

Read more: here

Frugality Or Fragility?

Via: ZeroHedge

Submitted by ‘Jim in MN’,

The hallmark of human nature is adaptability.  Faced with a changing environment, the human spirit and its social manifestations change in response.  But once the human endeavor itself creates the environment, how can such adaptation be a simple exercise in instinct?  Simply put, it cannot.  For better or for worse, the subjective element must dictate the outcome.  This subjective element is often called judgment.  But under today’s circumstances, a better term might be ‘taste’.  The question then becomes: do the powerful have good taste?  The fate of the rest of us hangs on the answer, as the fate of the slave rests upon the master’s whim.

Consider the global financial crisis.  The unfettered power and unrestrained corruption that is the hallmark of today’s society has been allowed to play out with predictable results.  There is no need to document the disaster that has befallen the people around the world, saddled with debt, stuck with stagnant wages if they can find work at all, and subject to worsening standards of living, with civil liberties eroding so quickly that only the authorities seem to know what is left on any given day (and they’re not telling).

Throughout all of this, the global elites have displayed consistently worsening signs of decadence, psychopathic tendencies, and overall detachment from reality.  And who can blame them?  There has been no tap on the shoulder, no knock on the door, no raid on the office to indicate that anything is seriously wrong.  The destruction of a generation’s potential, the removal of trillions from the rest of the population has not been punished.  It has been handsomely, indeed shamelessly, rewarded.

Read more: here

Really good article…
-Moose

Switzerland Next: Swiss Banks Set To Foward Confidential Bank Client Data To U.S. Officials

Via: ZeroHedge

Submitted by Tyler Durden on 03/24/2013

Complete the following SAT logic question:

Cyprus : Russian depositors :: Switzerland : [X]

If you answered X = US depositors (for now… soon many more), you are correct.

It has been no secret that in the aftermath of the crackdown of the Obama administration on Swiss-based “whale” accounts, Swiss banks promptly gave up on the legacy model of bank secrecy which allowed them to fund a massive banking sector that has assets (and therefore liabilities) six times greater than the GDP of Switzerland. That this has led to a literal Swiss fear and loathing of anything American, is no surprise: after all banks have blamed the informal US accords, in which the US DOJ can now expose any and every Swiss bank client for the massive layoffs that have ensued in the past several years, hitting not only megabanks UBS and Credit Suisse, but all the smaller players as well.

Now, in the aftermath of the deposit tax in Cyprus, it appears that “wealth taxation” in Switzerland is about to be taken up a notch.

As the leading Zurich financial media NZZ reported and Reuters summarized, the country has reached a deal in principle with the United States over undeclared funds hidden by wealthy Americans in Swiss offshore bank accounts. Naturally, the state was quick to deny it – after all, the last thing they need is a prompt exodus of all big offshore accounts held locally as fears of a Cyprus “wealth tax” on big accounts spreads.

Read more: here

Uh oh…they’re starting to go after the rich people….They’ll stop that for sure…
-Moose

New ‘Fast and Furious’ Report Finds DHS Warning Signs Ignored

Via: LA Times

By Richard A. Serrano
March 21, 2013, 2:10 p.m.

WASHINGTON — Even as they lost scores of illegal firearms in their Fast and Furious operation, federal ATF agents asked their Border Patrol counterparts not to pursue criminal leads or track gun smuggling in southern Arizona so they could follow the firearms themselves, and senior Homeland Security agents “complied and the leads were not investigated,” according to a new Department of Homeland Security inspector general’s report.

The report, obtained Thursday by The Times, also said that a Homeland Security special agent on the border was collaborating with the ATF in Fast and Furious, but his “senior leaders” in Arizona never read his updates about fundamental flaws with the failed gun tracking operation. Had they done so, Homeland Security officials could have tried to close down the operation before one of their Border Patrol agents, Brian Terry, was killed not far from Tucson.

Furthermore, the report determined that top Department of Homeland Security officials in Washington did not learn about Fast and Furious until Terry was shot to death in December 2010 and two of the 1,430 lost firearms were found at the scene of his murder.

Fast and Furious has led to a number of high-ranking demotions within the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and a contempt of Congress citation against Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. Now, the new Homeland Security inspector general’s findings for the first time document that the ATF also managed to mostly keep their Border Patrol counterparts in the dark about Fast and Furious.

Read more: here

I’m so surprised….
The script looked promising….
-Moose

North Carolina Deputy Rehired Days After Resigning Over Road Rage Incident

Via: Photography is Not a Crime

March 23rd, 2013
By Carlos Miller

The North Carolina deputy who was forced to resign this week after committing an act of road rage that was caught on video was rehired a few days later, proving that the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office was merely trying to appease the media after drafting a lengthy press release.

Craig Culpepper thanked the lord on his Facebook page when he announced the news to his friends and family.

He should also publicly thank the North Charleston Police Department for not citing him, even though they acknowledged he was at fault for the accident he caused when he cut off another driver in his patrol car and slammed on the brakes, forcing that driver to hit him from behind.

After all, police usually frown upon culpable drivers leaving the scene of an accident.

Nevertheless, Culpepper did at least make a public apology for the incident on his Facebook page, which he doesn’t keep private, accepting full blame for the incident, even though he blamed Chad Walton for “baiting” him into acting like asshole.

On Monday the 18th of March; I competed a 40 hour K9 Handlers training course in Edisto Island, South Carolina, while driving home I allowed another person to manage my emotions and I made a very bad decision. While traveling on highway 526 in Charleston South Carolina; I was being tailgated by another driver in a much bigger hurry then I was, and I reacted to his impatience by creating a situation that could have had very serious consequences. I have embarrassed; myself, my family and my fellow law enforcement officers. I apologize to any law enforcement officer’s that feel any repercussions for my actions. As a result of my actions I am no longer a deputy with the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office; this I am very hurt by, I loved my job, the people I worked with and the citizens I worked for; and it drives home the mistake I made. Let me be clear I made a mistake, I own it, it’s mine and I will not try to hide it or cover it up.

The above statement is not something we normally see from cops who screw up, so I’ll give him a few points for that.

But if the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office wanted to be just as honest, they could at least issue another press release explaining its decision to rehire him.

Read more: here 

That’s a good cop…..
-Moose

A Proposal to Study How Violent Video Games May be Affecting The Minds of Youngsters Has Stalled

Via: NY Daily News

By Dan Friedman / DAILY NEWS WASHINGTON BUREAU
Sunday, March 24, 2013, 12:01 AM

WASHINGTON — The gun lobby isn’t the only group throwing its weight around trying to thwart President Obama’s plans to combat gun violence.

Even a modest proposal to study how violent video games might be affecting young minds has quietly run aground, the victim, sources say, of opposition by the burgeoning video game industry — a $67 billion colossus with increasing clout in Washington.

“It doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere,” one Senate aide tracking the proposal told the Daily News.

The debate over violent video games reemerged after gunman Adam Lanza killed 20 children and six adults at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school in December.

Like the mass killers who opened fired at Columbine High School in Colorado in 1999, and inside an Aurora, Colo., theater last summer, Lanza played violent video games at home.

Read more: here

Everyone understands we as humans learn by example and mimicry. 
Thank goodness that ultra realistic violent videogames have been specially crafted to be free from the ability to cause mimicked behavior…
That’s why it’s a 67 billion dollar business..It costs a  lot of dough to buy off that many politicians.
Plus it helps create the next generation of dumbed down, desensitized warfighters to sacrifice for the Empire.. 
-Moose

Our Chavez: Huey Long

Via: Counterpunch

Where’s the Kingfish Now That We Really Need Him?

by MIKE WHITNEY

“Every man a king, but no one wears a crown.”
– Huey P. long, Governor of Louisiana

Americans are committed to capitalism and prefer free market solutions whenever possible.

Wrong. The truth is that support for capitalism has been steadily eroding since the Great Crash of ’08 when markets tumbled and housing prices plunged wiping out $8 trillion in home equity and leaving 5 million homeowners facing foreclosure. After that dose of cold water in the face, support for the free market system dropped precipitously from 80% (in 2002) to a titch above 54% by 2010. Interestingly, in France (according to the Economist) only 6% of the people now “strongly” support the free market. Here’s more from the article in the Economist:

“Capitalism’s waning fortunes are starkly visible among Americans earning below $20,000. Their support for the free market has dropped from 76% to 44% in just one year. The research was conducted by GlobeScan, a polling firm. Its chairman Doug Miller says American business is “close to losing its social contract” with average families.” (“Market of Ideas: Capitalism’s waning popularity”, The Economist)

“Social contract”? What social contract? You mean the social contract that allows the banks to fleece your ass at every opportunity with no chance of being held accountable?

While the report is 2 years old, it indicates something that’s fairly obvious to many, that Americans are generally pragmatic people who judge a system by its results not by the public relations blabber issuing from the business channel. “Show me the beef”, that’s what the average working slob cares about, not some horseshit about “the wondrous symmetry of the self-correcting market”. What a load of malarkey. If we’d applied the theories of the market fundamentalists after Lehman Brothers collapsed, the 10 biggest banks in the country would have been euthanized (as they should have been) and we’d be well on our way to a true recovery. Instead, the economy is still hopelessly mired in a long-term slump that shows no sign of ending. The only thing that’s “corrected” is the profit margins on Wall Street which are at record highs. Get a load of this from the WSWS:

“As the US government prepares to furlough 1 million federal workers and slash hundreds of billions in social spending, corporate executives in the United States are receiving among the highest payouts in history. USA Today reported Thursday that at least ten CEOs took in $50 million apiece in 2012, largely as a result of cashing in stocks that have soared in value with the rising market. According to the newspaper, “Early 2013 proxy filings detailing 2012 compensation show a growing number of CEOs reaping $50 million or more, gains that could prove unmatched in breadth and size since the Internet IPO craze enriched tech company executives more than a decade ago…..

Read more: here

A Tale of Two Londons

Via: Vanityfair

Who really lives at One Hyde Park, called the world’s most expensive residential building? Its mostly absentee owners, hiding behind offshore corporations based in tax havens, provide a portrait of the new global super-wealthy.

By Nicholas Shaxson April 2013

Up until the 18th century, Knightsbridge, which borders genteel Kensington, was a lawless zone roamed by predatory monks and assorted cutthroats. It didn’t come of age until the Victorian building boom, which left a charming legacy of mostly large and beautiful Victorian houses, with their trademark white or cream paint, black iron railings, high ceilings, and short, elegant stone steps up to the front door.

This will not be the impression a visitor now gets as he emerges from the Knightsbridge subway station’s south exit. He will be met by four hulking joined-up towers of glass, metal, and concrete, sandwiched between the Victorian splendors of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, to the east, and a pretty five-story residential block, to the west. This is One Hyde Park, which its developers insist is the world’s most exclusive address and the most expensive residential development ever built anywhere on earth. With apartments selling for up to $214 million, the building began to smash world per-square-foot price records when sales opened, in 2007. After quickly shrugging off the global financial crisis the complex has come to embody the central-London real-estate market, where, as high-end property consultant Charles McDowell put it, “prices have gone bonkers.”

From the Hyde Park side, One Hyde Park protrudes aggressively into the skyline like a visiting spaceship, a head above its red-brick and gray-stone Victorian surroundings. Inside, on the ground floor, a large, glassy lobby offers what you’d expect from any luxury intercontinental hotel: gleaming steel statues, thick gray carpets, gray marble, and extravagant chandeliers with radiant sprays of glass. Not that the building’s inhabitants need venture into any of these public spaces: they can drive their Maybachs into a glass-and-steel elevator that takes them down to the basement garage, from which they can zip up to their apartments.

The largest of the original 86 apartments (following some mergers, there are now around 80) are pierced by 213-foot-long mirrored corridors of glass, anodized aluminum, and padded silk. The living spaces feature dark European-oak floors, Wenge furniture, bronze and steel statues, ebony, and plenty more marble. For added privacy, slanted vertical slats on the windows prevent outsiders from peering into the apartments.

In fact, the emphasis everywhere is on secrecy and security, provided by advanced-technology panic rooms, bulletproof glass, and bowler-hatted guards trained by British Special Forces. Inhabitants’ mail is X-rayed before being delivered.

The secrecy extends to the media, many of whose members, including myself and the London Sunday Times’s and Vanity Fair’s A. A. Gill, have tried but failed to gain entry to the building. “The vibe is junior Arab dictator,” says Peter York, co-author of The Official Sloane Ranger Handbook, the riotous 1982 style guide documenting the shopping and mating rituals of a certain striving class of Brits, who claimed Knightsbridge’s high-end shopping area, which stretches from Harrods to Sloane Square, as their urban heartland.

Read more: here

How Rich Is the Catholic Church?

Via: Slate

Nobody really knows, because religious groups don’t need to follow regular accounting and disclosure rules.

By Matthew Yglesias Posted Thursday, March 14, 2013

Pope Francis is not just the spiritual leader of one of the world’s major religions: He’s also the head of what’s probably the wealthiest institution in the entire world. The Catholic Church’s global spending matches the annual revenues of the planet’s largest firms, and its assets—huge amounts of real estate, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Vatican City, some of the world’s greatest art—surely exceed those of any corporation by an order of magnitude.

But it turns out to be surprisingly difficult to understand exactly how rich the church is. That’s in part because church finances are complicated. But it’s also because, in the United States at least, churches in general are exempted from the financial reporting and disclosure requirements that otherwise apply to nonprofit groups. And it turns out, that exemption may have undesirable consequences.

The main thing we know about Catholic Church finance is that in cash flow terms, the United States is by far the most important branch. America is a rich country with a large population of Catholics. What’s more, America’s Catholic population is a religious minority. That’s meant that, rather than using political clout to influence the shape of mainstream government institutions, as in an overwhelmingly Catholic country such as Brazil, the Catholic Church in the United States has created a parallel state: a vast web of schools, hospitals, universities, and charities that serve millions of clients.

Read more: here

She Survived Hitler and Wants to Warn Us

Via: Humores y amores

Her name is Kitty Werthmann, and this is her story:

“I am a witness to history.

“I cannot tell you that Hitler took Austria by tanks and guns; it would distort history.

If you remember the plot of the Sound of Music, the Von Trapp family escaped over the Alps rather than submit to the Nazis. Kitty wasn’t so lucky. Her family chose to stay in her native Austria. She was 10 years old, but bright and aware. And she was watching.

“We elected him by a landslide – 98 percent of the vote,” she recalls.

She wasn’t old enough to vote in 1938 – approaching her 11th birthday. But she remembers.

“Everyone thinks that Hitler just rolled in with his tanks and took Austria by force.”

No so.

Hitler is welcomed to Austria

“In 1938, Austria was in deep Depression. Nearly one-third of our workforce was unemployed. We had 25 percent inflation and 25 percent bank loan interest rates.
Farmers and business people were declaring bankruptcy daily. Young people were going from house to house begging for food. Not that they didn’t want to work; there simply weren’t any jobs.

“My mother was a Christian woman and believed in helping people in need. Every day we cooked a big kettle of soup and baked bread to feed those poor, hungry people – about 30 daily.’

“We looked to our neighbor on the north, Germany, where Hitler had been in power since 1933.” she recalls. “We had been told that they didn’t have unemployment or crime, and they had a high standard of living.

“Nothing was ever said about persecution of any group – Jewish or otherwise. We were led to believe that everyone in Germany was happy. We wanted the same way of life in Austria. We were promised that a vote for Hitler would mean the end of unemployment and help for the family. Hitler also said that businesses would be assisted, and farmers would get their farms back.

“Ninety-eight percent of the population voted to annex Austria to Germany and have Hitler for our ruler.

“We were overjoyed,” remembers Kitty, “and for three days we danced in the streets and had candlelight parades. The new government opened up big field kitchens and
everyone was fed.

“After the election, German officials were appointed, and, like a miracle, we suddenly had law and order. Three or four weeks later, everyone was employed. The government made sure that a lot of work was created through the Public Work Service.

Read more: here

Interesting read…. Thank goodness our country isn’t like this..
-Moose

Why Has There Been No Revolution?

Via: Freedom Outpost

by William Lafferty

When the central government in the United States rams through a 2700 page bill that was not read by any person who voted for it and whose impossible promises of more-for-less are now being revealed as a fraud; when the government, without apparent concern, rapidly inflates the national debt to 16 trillion that it will admit to (actually it’s 83 trillion); when the federal government sues the state of Arizona to stop it from guarding the borders and enforcing federal laws concerning illegal aliens; and when the government announces that it wishes to ban all weapons that would allow citizens to resist government overreaching, how far distant is revolution?

This question must have run through the minds of anyone who has read the newspapers for the last four or five years. In today’s Wall Street Journal in the “Notable & Quotable” column, historian Paul Rahe, citing Tocqueville, writes:

“One key indicator [of readiness for revolution] is that those with access to the levers of power within the ruling order cease to believe in the religion or ideology that legitimizes the regime. . . . First goes the belief in the legitimacy of the system. Then comes a trigger–an event which causes large numbers of people to say to themselves, ‘I cannot take this anymore.’ Then, the crucial question is whether those in charge have the nerve to try to crush the rebellion and whether their underlings will follow orders. If the powers that be are hesitant, ambivalent, or divided, if their underlings are fed up, things can very easily come apart (as they did in eastern Europe, in the Soviet union, and in Tunisia, Egypt, libya, and Syria).”

The most striking thing to me about Barak Obama is that he does not and he has never believed in the ideology that has formed this country and that legitimizes his own government. He meets the first requirement in Tocqueville’s analysis. He comes from some other culture, some other way of thinking, as is illustrated by the political identities of those who raised him and his friends like Bill Ayres.

And it is because he does not believe in this country, its origins, its traditions or its ideology that he is willing to destroy it.

Why then has there been no revolution?

Read more: here

Move Over, Traffic Court, It’s Time for a New Money-Making Scheme—School Truancy Laws Jail Parents and Levy Excessive Fines

Via: The Rutherford Institute

By John W. Whitehead
March 04, 2013

We are now five years out from the worst financial crisis in modern history, and still the yoke around the neck of the average American seems to tighten with every new tax, fine, fee and law adopted by our so-called representatives. Meanwhile, the three branches of government (Executive, Legislative and Judicial) and the agencies under their command—Defense, Commerce, Education, Homeland Security, Justice, Treasury, etc.—have switched their allegiance to the Corporate State with its unassailable pursuit of profit at all costs and by any means possible.

As a result, we are now ruled by a government consumed with squeezing every last penny out of the population and seemingly unconcerned if essential freedoms are trampled in the process. This profits-over-people mindset has taken various forms in recent years, ranging from the rise of privatized, for-profit prisons which require the states to keep their jails full to capacity to the overcriminalization phenomenon which has subjected Americans to a slew of inane laws that outlaw such innocuous activities as making and selling unpasteurized goat cheese, cultivating certain types of orchids, and feeding a whale. Included in the mix are the preponderance of red light cameras, sold to communities as a means of minimizing traffic accidents at intersections but in fact are just a vehicle for levying nuisance fines against drivers often guilty of little more than making a right-hand turn on a red light.

The most recent ploy to separate taxpayers from their hard-earned dollars and render them criminals comes in the form of school truancy laws. Disguised as well-meaning attempts to resolve attendance issues in the schools, these truancy laws are nothing less than stealth maneuvers aimed at enriching school districts and court systems alike through excessive fines and jail sentences, while the ones being singled out for punishment—more often than not from middle- to low-income families—are the very ones who can least afford it.

Under this increasingly popular system of truancy enforcement, instead of giving students detention or some other in-school punishment for “unauthorized” absences, schools are now opting to fine parents and force them or their kids to serve jail time. (“Unauthorized” is the key word here, of course, since schools retain the right to determine whether an absence sanctioned by a parent or even a doctor is acceptable.)

For example, California students are ticketed for missing or being late to school. One ticket for tardiness can cost a family $250. Tardiness is a particular problem in Los Angeles, where the city’s poor transit infrastructure and overcrowded buses often leave student passengers stranded at the bus stops. According to the Los Angeles Bus Riders Union, 12,000 students received tickets for truancy in Los Angeles in 2008.

Of those students, about 80% received tickets simply for being late to school. In order to avoid a $250 ticket, some parents from low-income households go so far as to keep their children home from school if there is any chance they will be late. As Barbara Ehrenreich, writing for the New York Times, points out, “it’s an ingenious anti-truancy policy that discourages parents from sending their youngsters to school.”

Read more: here

Nah…They just want to make sure your child gets a great education….
-Moose

The Tyranny Of The Majority…The Patriot Act’s Mandated Silence

Via: ICH

By Andrew P. Napolitano

March 21, 2013 “Information Clearing House” – In 1798, when John Adams was president of the United States, the feds enacted four pieces of legislation called the Alien and Sedition Acts. One of these laws made it a federal crime to publish any false, scandalous or malicious writing — even if true — about the president or the federal government, notwithstanding the guarantee of free speech in the First Amendment.

The feds used these laws to torment their adversaries in the press and even successfully prosecuted a congressman who heavily criticized the president. Then-Vice President Thomas Jefferson vowed that if he became president, these abominable laws would expire. He did, and they did, but this became a lesson for future generations: The guarantees of personal freedom in the Constitution are only as valuable and reliable as is the fidelity to the Constitution of those to whom we have entrusted it for safekeeping.

We have entrusted the Constitution to all three branches of the federal government for safekeeping. But typically, they fail to do so. Presidents have repeatedly assaulted the freedom of speech many times throughout our history, and Congresses have looked the other way. Abraham Lincoln arrested Northerners who challenged the Civil War. Woodrow Wilson arrested Americans who challenged World War I. FDR arrested Americans he thought might not support World War II. LBJ and Richard Nixon used the FBI to harass hundreds whose anti-Vietnam protests frustrated them.

The Patriot Act permits FBI agents to write their own search warrants and gives those warrants the patriotic and harmless-sounding name of national security letters (NSLs). This authorization is in direct violation of the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which says that the people shall be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects from unreasonable searches and seizures, and that that security can only be violated by a search warrant issued by a neutral judge and based upon probable cause of crime.

The probable cause requirement compels the feds to acquire evidence of criminal behavior about the person whose records they seek, so as to prevent politically motivated invasions of privacy and fishing expeditions like those that were common in the colonial era. Judges are free, of course, to sign the requested warrant, to modify it and sign it, or to reject it if it lacks the underlying probable cause.

The very concept of a search warrant authorized by law enforcement and not by the courts is directly and profoundly antithetical to the Constitution — no matter what the warrant is called. Yet, that’s what Congress and President Bush made lawful when they gave us the Patriot Act.

Read more: here

Senate Censors Part of Report on JPMorgan About Its Stock Trading

Via: Wall Street on Parade

By Pam Martens: March 18, 2013

The 307-page report the Senate released last Thursday on JPMorgan’s cowboy culture was deeply unsettling; the testimony under oath at the related Senate hearing on Friday was equally shocking with eyewitness accounts confirming that CEO Jamie Dimon ordered the withholding of financial data to a regulator while both he and the Chief Financial Officer at the time, Douglas Braunstein, presented an Alice in Wonderland version of facts to the public in April 2012.

But it now appears that the worst of this story may be so unsettling to the markets and the public perception of Wall Street that it must be censored from public viewing. Throughout the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigation’s 98 exhibits of emails and internal memos on the wild trading schemes at JPMorgan, the word “Redacted” appears. In a high number of the areas where the material is censored, it concerns trading in the stock market, not the credit market where Bruno Iksil, the trader known as the London Whale, was causing giant ripples and eventual mega losses for the largest bank in the U.S. To date, there has been no media attention to the issue of stock trading within the Chief Investment Office nor has the issue been raised by investigators.

That the words equity trading (meaning stock trading) appear at all in this investigative report raises more serious red flags for JPMorgan. As Wall Street on Parade has repeatedly reported, the Chief Investment Office at JPMorgan, which oversaw the London Whale trades, was using insured deposits of the bank to place its casino bets. Senator Carl Levin, Chairman of the Senate Permanent Committee on Investigations, confirmed on Friday that JPMorgan used insured deposits as well as funds corporations had placed on deposit.

That’s clearly not compatible with the Nation’s safety and soundness rules for banks and likely explains why the FBI is involved in an investigation.

Read more: here

WTF!?  
Too big to fail?
-Moose

AUDIO: New York’s Police Union Worked With the NYPD to Set Arrest and Summons Quotas

Via: The Nation

Ross Tuttle
March 19, 2013

Audio obtained by The Nation confirms an instance of New York City’s police union cooperating with the NYPD in setting arrest quotas for the department’s officers. According to some officers and critics of quotas, the practice has played a direct role in increasing the number of stop-and-frisk encounters since Mayor Michael Bloomberg came to office. Patrolmen who spoke to The Nation explained that the pressure from superiors to meet quota goals has caused some officers to seek out or even manufacture arrests to avoid department retaliation.

An audio recording of a stop-and-frisk in action sheds unprecedented light on a practice that has put the city’s young people of color in the NYPD’s cross hairs.

The audio makes up part of the prosecution’s case in the landmark federal class action lawsuit Floyd, et al. v. City of New York, et al., which opened yesterday in US District Court for New York’s Southern District and which was brought forward by the Center for Constitutional Rights.

The audio, recorded in 2009 by officer Adhyl Polanco, is part of a series of recordings originally released to the media that year, and a selection first aired on WABC-TV in 2010. But WABC-TV used only a small portion of the recordings, and did not air the union representative’s explosive admission.

“I spoke to the CO [commanding officer] for about an hour-and-a-half,” the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association delegate says in the audio recording, captured at a Bronx precinct roll call meeting. “twenty-and-one. Twenty-and-one is what the union is backing up…. They spoke to the [Union] trustees. And that’s what they want, they want 20-and-1.”

“Twenty-and-one means twenty summonses and one arrest a month,” says a veteran NYPD officer who listened to the recording, and who spoke to The Nation on the condition of anonymity. Summonses can range from parking violations, to moving violations, to criminal court summonses for infractions such as open container or public urination.

“It’s a quota, and they [the Union] agreed to it,” says the officer. “It’s crazy.”

Read more: here 

To protect and serve….
-Moose

The Plague of Wall Street Banking

Via: ICH

By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers

March 20, 2013 “Information Clearing House” – The economic news this week highlights what happens when governments are unable to confront the root cause of the financial collapse – the risky speculation and securities fraud of the big banks. What happens? They blame the people, cut their benefits, tax their savings and demand they work harder for less money.

In the United States there have been no criminal prosecutions for securities fraud in the big banks. Just as the Justice Department has made it clear that the big banks are too big to jail because doing so jeopardizes the stability of the banking system; financial fraud investigator Bill Black points out that the SEC cannot institute fines that are too big for the same reason. “The art is to make the number sound large to fool the rubes, but to insure that the fine poses only a modest inconvenience to our ‘most reputable’ fraudulent banks.” So, the SEC trumpets “more than 150 firms and individuals, with sanctions totaling $2.7 billion.” Black points out that this number sounds big, but it isn’t compared to the losses caused by the fraud epidemic in the US which are well in excess of $15 trillion. A trillion is a thousand billion. Are we, ‘the rubes’ or do we know that our government is in cahoots with big finance?

In fact, the big banks have been engaged in all sorts of nefarious activity for a long time, as Washington’s Blog points out with this jaw-dropping list of crimes, and are rife with fraud. And, this week the biggest of the too big to prosecute, JP Morgan, had its financial fraud and disrespect for government on display when the Senate Banking Committee issued a massive 300 page indictment, errr report, documenting the $6.2 billion “London Whale” scandal. The report traces the scandal right to the top, CEO Jamie Dimon, and shows how the bank lied to bank examiners and investors. Experts state the obvious from this evident fraud; investigations and fines, and possibly a large monetary settlement are possible but a prosecution by DOJ remains unlikely. Obvious because everyone knows the game in Washington is one of no criminal prosecutions.

Although, another too big to jail bank, Goldman Sachs did have a loss in court this week, when the US Supreme Court refused to overturn a Court of Appeals decision requiring the bank to defend a civil suit by investors claiming securities fraud. There are lots of hurdles ahead, but this provides a glimmer of hope.

This week our too big to prosecute philosophy of the (lack of) Justice Department was shown to apply to foreign banks as well. The second largest bank in Germany got a pass when it offered a job to an IRS agent who cut its tax burden. Again, the rubes were told that Commerzbank paid $210 million in tax liability, sounds good, but it was only 62% of what it owed. The day after the agreement the IRS officer was offered a job at Commerzbank. The agent pled guilty to charges this week, but the bank and the officers involved were not prosecuted.

Europe is showing us what happens when government fails to confront the big banks – the people pay and the economy collapses into depression. Is this our future?

Read more: here

Jury Indicts Former Calpers CEO for Fraud Scheme

Via: Reuters

SAN FRANCISCO | Mon Mar 18, 2013 6:23pm EDT

(Reuters) – A former chief executive of Calpers, the largest U.S. public pension fund, was indicted on federal conspiracy charges in connection with a scheme to commit fraud, the U.S. Department of Justice said on Monday.

Former Calpers CEO Federico Buenrostro was indicted by a San Francisco grand jury, as was Alfred Villalobos, a former member of the pension fund’s board. They were charged in connection with the scheme involving fraudulent documents related to a $3 billion investment by the retirement system in funds managed by Apollo Global Management.

The private equity company had hired Villalobos’ firm, ARVCO Capital Research LLC, to provide placement agent services to secure investment business at the pension fund, formally the California Public Employee Retirement System. He and Buenrostro conspired to create fraudulent investor disclosure letters sent to Apollo, according to a statement released by the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California.

Apollo paid ARVCO about $14 million in fees after receiving the fraudulent letters, the statement said, adding that ARVCO transmitted the last of the letters in June 2008, a few weeks before Buenrostro retired from Calpers and was hired by Villalobos to work for ARVCO.

The statement also said the two men made false statements to authorities investigating the disclosure letters, adding that the grand jury charged Buenrostro with making a false statement and obstruction of justice.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission last year charged the two men with scheming to defraud Apollo.

Buenrostro’s lawyer and representatives for Villalobos could not be reach for comment.

Apollo and Calpers have cooperated with long-running federal and state probes of placement agent activity at the pension fund, and the investigations spurred it to increase its oversight of placement agents.

“We are extremely pleased that law enforcement authorities are moving to hold individuals accountable for activities which violate the public trust,” Rob Feckner, president of the Calpers board, said in a statement.

Read more: here

Greedy…sorry, he’s innocent until proven guilty….
-Moose

The Bank, The School And The 38-year Loan

Via: The Orange County Register

Published: Feb. 15, 2013 Updated: Feb. 21, 2013 1:43 p.m.
Melody Petersen / ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

The fliers touted new ballfields, science labs and modern classrooms. They didn’t mention the crushing debt or the investment bank that stood to make millions.
In early 2008, residents of Placentia and Yorba Linda approved a $200 million school construction bond after reading those fliers and being assured repeatedly that “their money will be spent wisely.”

Borrowing through capital-appreciation bonds is helping to pay for a 600-seat performing arts center at El Dorado High School in Placentia. The expensive bonds, which delay payments for decades, were sold by Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified officials after voters approved Measure A in 2008.

What happened instead was that Measure A led to a debt so large and long lasting that it has mortgaged the future of their children’s children.

With no public discussion, the school board had hired George K. Baum & Co. and its staff of political strategists to help push the measure through so the district could continue an ambitious building spree.

After the election, the board allowed the bank to sell some of the costliest bonds ever issued by a California public agency. Just one $22 million borrowing from 2011 will cost taxpayers nearly 13 times that amount – $280 million – to repay.

Those bonds, known to Wall Street traders as capital appreciation bonds, are like a loan for which no principal or interest payments are made for 35 years. Interest is charged on a growing pile of unpaid interest, causing the balance to balloon.

“It’s another method of pushing debt to future generations,” said state Treasurer Bill Lockyer, who compares the bonds to “payday loans.” “I just don’t understand how these board members got away with this,” said Alexandria Coronado, a former member of the Orange County Board of Education. “These people need to be recalled.”

Read more: here

This scam has been played out all over.
Greed isn’t only in Orange County….although there is a lot of it there..
-Moose

The Shame of America’s Gulag

Via: Truthdig

Posted on Mar 17, 2013
By Chris Hedges

If, as Fyodor Dostoevsky wrote, “the degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons” then we are a nation of barbarians. Our vast network of federal and state prisons, with some 2.3 million inmates, rivals the gulags of totalitarian states. Once you disappear behind prison walls you become prey. Rape. Torture. Beatings. Prolonged isolation. Sensory deprivation. Racial profiling. Chain gangs. Forced labor. Rancid food. Children imprisoned as adults. Prisoners forced to take medications to induce lethargy. Inadequate heating and ventilation. Poor health care. Draconian sentences for nonviolent crimes. Endemic violence.

Bonnie Kerness and Ojore Lutalo, both of whom I met in Newark, N.J., a few days ago at the office of American Friends Service Committee Prison Watch, have fought longer and harder than perhaps any others in the country against the expanding abuse of prisoners, especially the use of solitary confinement. Lutalo, once a member of the Black Liberation Army, an offshoot of the Black Panthers, first wrote Kerness in 1986 while he was a prisoner at Trenton State Prison, now called New Jersey State Prison. He described to her the bleak and degrading world of solitary confinement, the world of the prisoners like him held in the so-called management control unit, which he called “a prison within a prison.” Before being released in 2009, Lutalo was in the management control unit for 22 of the 28 years he served for the second of two convictions—the first for a bank robbery and the second for a gun battle with a drug dealer. He kept his sanity, he told me, by following a strict regime of exercising in his tiny cell, writing, meditating and tearing up newspapers to make collages that portrayed his prison conditions.

“The guards in riot gear would suddenly wake you up at 1 a.m., force you to strip and make you grab all your things and move you to another cell just to harass you,” he said when we spoke in Newark. “They had attack dogs with them that were trained to go for your genitals. You spent 24 hours alone one day in your cell and 22 the next. If you do not have a strong sense of purpose you don’t survive psychologically. Isolation is designed to defeat prisoners mentally, and I saw a lot of prisoners defeated.”

Lutalo’s letter was Kerness’ first indication that the U.S. prison system was creating something new—special detention facilities that under international law are a form of torture. He wrote to her: “How does one go about articulating desperation to another who is not desperate? How does one go about articulating the psychological stress of knowing that people are waiting for me to self-destruct?”

Read more: here

Land of the Free!
-Moose

After The Banksters Steal Money From Bank Accounts In Cyprus They Will Start Doing It EVERYWHERE

Via: The Economic Collapse Blog

By Michael, on March 17th, 2013

Cyprus is a beta test. The banksters are trying to commit bank robbery in broad daylight, and they are eager to see if the rest of the world will let them get away with it. Cyprus was probably chosen because it is very small (therefore nobody will care too much about it) and because there is a lot of foreign (i.e. Russian) money parked there. The IMF and the EU could have easily bailed out Cyprus without any trouble whatsoever, but they purposely decided not to do that. Instead, they decided that this would be a great time to test the idea of a “wealth tax”. The government of Cyprus was given two options by the IMF and the EU – either they could confiscate money from private bank accounts or they could leave the eurozone.

Apparently this was presented as a “take it or leave it” proposition, and many are using the world “blackmail” to describe what has happened. Sadly, this decision is going to set a very ominous precedent for the future and it is going to have ripple effects far beyond Cyprus.

After the banksters steal money from bank accounts in Cyprus they will start doing it everywhere. If this “bank robbery” goes well, it will only be a matter of time before depositors in nations such as Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal are asked to take “haircuts” as well. And what will happen one day when the U.S. financial system collapses? Will U.S. bank accounts also be hit with a “one time” wealth tax? That is very frightening to think about.

Cyprus is a very small nation, so it is not the amount of money involved that is such a big deal. Rather, the reason why this is all so troubling is that this “wealth tax” is shattering confidence in the European banking system. Never before have the banksters come directly after bank accounts.

If everything goes according to plan, every bank account in Cyprus will be hit with a “one time fee” this week. Accounts with less than 100,000 euros will be hit with a 6.75% tax, and accounts with more than 100,000 euros will be hit with a 9.9% tax.

How would you feel if something like this happened where you live?

Read more: here

Thank goodness this could never happen here…
-Moose