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THE GOVERNMENT CONFESSES: Social Security To Run Out Of Funding BY 2035, Earlier Than Expected


The government now says that Social Security finances have worsened dramatically, which will reduce the life of the supporting trust funds by 2035. This is earlier than previously forecasted.

Social Security

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/report-social-security-to-run-out-of-funding-by-2035-2012-4#ixzz1st7GHxEi

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Rumors Circulate on a Nokia, $NOK, Bankruptcy

“Nokia just blew Q1 earnings in part because sales of its new iPhone-killer, the Lumia, have been “mixed.” (Read our Lumia review here.)

That’s bad.

But here’s what’s worse.

The company is burning cash at a mind-boggling rate, and it’s about to run into a cash crunch.

Nokia still has €4.9 billion of “net cash” on its balance sheet (cash less debt) and €9.8 billion of total cash. That’s a lot. But in the past year, Nokia has gone from comfortably making money to losing a lot of it.

In the past year, Nokia has burned €1.5 billion. In the past quarter, it burned a staggering €700 million. At the first quarter’s burn rate, Nokia would blow through its net cash in 7 quarters (less than two years) and its total cash in four years.

The cash situation has gotten dire enough that Nokia CEO Stephen Elop is already talking about the need to conserve it. When a company that knows it needs to be super-aggressive to have any chance of saving itself starts talking about the need to conserve cash, you know there’s a problem…”

Read more

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Here’s a Look at Strand East, Ikea’s 27-Acre London Suburb


Screen-shot-2012-04-13-at-10.45.jpgRendering via Architizer

In October Ikea announced its plans to build a 27-acre suburb near Olympic Park in London, and recently renderings of Strand East, as it’s called, have been released. The community, which is designed to hold 6,000 people, will open post-Olympics—2013 is the projected date—and contain stores, a variety of housing options (including freestanding houses and apartments), and office space. According to Architizer,Strand East will be both car- and Ikea-free: the Swedish furnishings chain will not, in fact, build a mothership here. Which implies a mission that’s more thoughtful than just plain brand expansion: “the village will test the repeatability of the company’s urban schemes in countries suffering from housing shortages.” Find another rendering below, as well as a diagram depicting the various components of the community.

web-folio-ikea1_1390962cl-8.jpgRendering via Architizer


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Sanford (FL) Police Deny any Indication of Neo-Nazis Patrolling

Posted by    Saturday, April 7, 2012 at 1:29pm

The latest wildfire spreading through the media and blogosphere is that armed neo-Nazis are patrolling Sanford, FL, in anticipation of trouble if George Zimmerman is not charged in the killing of Trayvon Martin.  In what has become a prime example of media malpractice, none of the major publications spreading the rumors bothered to check with local law enforcement.  I did, and the Sanford Police deny any indication of neo-Nazi patrols.

It all started with this blog post in The Miami New Times, Armed Neo-Nazis Now Patrolling Sanford, Say They Are “Prepared” For Post-Trayvon Martin Violence:

Neo-Nazis are currently conducting heavily armed patrols in and around Sanford, Florida and are “prepared” for violence in the case of a race riot. The patrols are to protect “white citizens in the area who are concerned for their safety” in the wake of the Trayvon Martin shooting last month, says Commander Jeff Schoep of the National Socialist Movement. “We are not advocating any type of violence or attacks on anybody, but we are prepared for it,” he says. “We are not the type of white people who are going to be walked all over.”

Because nothing diffuses racial tension like gun-toting racial separatists patrolling an already on-edge community….

The patrols are comprised of between 10 and 20 locals and “volunteers” from across the state, including some from Miami, he added. He couldn’t go into specifics on what kind of firepower, exactly, the patrols had with them.

The blog post quotes someone from a supposed neo-Nazi group in Detroit, and contains photos of armed patrols not in Sanford, but in Arizona.  The author of the blog post provides no confirmation that such patrols actually are taking place.

The blog post already has generated over 1100 comments, and was picked up with reckless abandon by the usual suspects, including Charles Johnson at Little Green Footballs:

You know all that rhetoric about “race war” that’s showing up at Breitbart.com and many other right wing sites these days? It’s not just rhetoric. There are some people in Sanford, Florida right now who are taking it very seriously indeed

And Pam Spaulding at Firedoglake:

And the right wing said it wasn’t about race (on their side), didn’t they? Neo-Nazis have never been affiliated with the left; they’ve always been on the fringe anarchist/chaos/gov’t overthrow wing of the GOP, because there’s no way these white supremacists would vote Dem. After all, that party is polluted with black, brown…you know, the Mud People….

I thought the police department was there to protect all of Sanford’s citizens (when it’s not torpedoing its own bad police work/f’ing up cases involving black folks as victims), but as there’s nothing like having this paramilitary crowd with strong views on race stepping in to do the job. You know, like the KKK, it’s not intimidating at all.

A writer at Mediaite joined in [note:  Mediaite has updated its post with a link here, and also has published a separate post on the Sanford denial]:

And just so we’re clear, the Neo-Nazis have no official position on the Martin case, because remember, George Zimmerman isn’t even white. But the Neo-Nazi commander is trying to assure everyone that they are trying to protect everyone, because “if something were to touch off a race riot, we’d already be in the area.”

Well said! Because whenever there’s a race riot, my first question is always, “Where are the armed racists when you need them? They’ll put a stop to all this violence!”

HuffPo and The Daily Beast are helping spread the story.

It even has spread to The NY Daily News [note:  The NYDN story changed tonight. after I contacted the writer, and now acknowledges police denial; the following is from the original story] :

The Trayvon  Martin case is getting even more heated as armed neo-Nazis are reportedly  patrolling the streets of Sanford, Fla.-where the black, unarmed teen was shot  and killed.

A representative for the Detroit-based National Socialist movement told  the Miami New Times that his group of roughly 10 to 20 volunteers aren’t there  to start trouble, but are prepared to protect the “white citizens in the area”  in the event of race riots.

Only Gateway Pundit asked the obvious question:

Is there any evidence that this is actually happening in Sanford?

Did anyone bother to contact the Sanford Police?  I did, and the Sanford Police deny any indication of Neo-Nazi groups patrolling in Sanford.  Here’s the e-mail exchange:

Read the rest here.


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Editgate: NBC’s Nameless Scapegoat Raises More Questions

Like Rathergate, Edit-Gate is a New Media-driven story pushed so hard (including here at the Bigs) that the mainstream media can no longer ignore it.

The result has been some action on the part of NBC News, but nowhere near enough. But hey, if NBC prefers death by a thousand paper cuts as opposed to biting the bullet and simply doing the right thing, that’s fine by me.

At first NBC News thought they could make us go away by admitting the “error.” The “error,” of course, being the malicious, race-baiting edit of 911 audio in order to make a private citizen, who is currently in hiding for fear of his life, look racist.

Then NBC News thought an apology might end the growing firestorm.

Then, finally, just like a White House with something to hide about Fast and Furious, news was leaked late Friday that NBC had finally fired the producer responsible for this unpardonable act.

The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple, who has been the mainstream media exception in doing a superb job of covering this scandal, put the news of last night’s firing this way:

Yet it’s not sewn up. We still don’t know the name of the dismissed producer; we don’t know if the network gave any consideration to apologizing directly to Zimmerman; we don’t know if warnings were issued to other NBC employees; and so on.

NBC could have headed off this story sprawl by publishing a fuller account of the incident ealier [sic] this week. Since it failed to do so, this scandal will have a life well beyond Easter.

Yes, that’s right, just for starters, NBC News refuses to name the fired producer responsible.

And that, by any reasonable standard, is nothing more than a cover up.

To think that this biased, irresponsible, race-baiter can now freely move about the cabin and get a job anywhere in the news business, free from public scrutiny, is a cover up.

Moreover, if NBC won’t name the producer, how in the world are we supposed to know someone has actually been fired?

But the biggest problem for NBC News is that a single unnamed sacrificial scapegoat doesn’t begin to pay for the deliberate crime of throwing gasoline on a racial fire that was already raging.

Edit-Gate didn’t occur in the fever swamps of MSNBC. This happened on the oh-so-storied “Today Show,” which means that there are only two ways this was allowed to happen:

Read the rest here.

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Israelis Suspect Obama Media Leaks to Prevent Strike on Iran

Alexander Marquardt

JERUSALEM – Two reports today about Iran’s nuclear program and the possibility of an Israeli military strike have analysts in Israel accusing the Obama administration leaking information to pressure Israel not to bomb Iran and for Iran to reach a compromise in upcoming nuclear talks.

The first report in Foreign Policy quotes anonymous American officials saying that Israel has been given access to airbases by Iran’s northern neighbor Azerbaijan from which Israel could launch air strikes or at least drones and search and rescue aircraft.

The second report from Bloomberg, based on a leaked congressional report, said that Iran’s nuclear facilities are so dispersed that it is “unclear what the ultimate effect of a strike would be…” A strike could delay Iran as little as six months, a former official told the researchers.

“It seems like a big campaign to prevent Israel from attacking,” analyst Yoel Guzansky at the Institute for National Security Studies told ABC News. “I think the [Obama] administration is really worried Jerusalem will attack and attack soon. They’re trying hard to prevent it in so many ways.”

Read the rest here.

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BREAKING: Eddie Lampert Looking to Sell Lands’ End Brand

NYPOST.com Exclusive 

Eddie Lampert is cleaning out the closet at Sears, and he’s not feeling sentimental about Lands’ End.

The number-crunching hedge-fund tycoon — who, as chairman of Sears Holdings, has lately been scrambling to raise cash amid heavy losses at the Sears and Kmart retail chains — has quietly been shopping the Dodgeville Wis. mail-order catalog to potential buyers, The Post has learned.

Lampert, who inherited Lands’ End when he took control of Sears in 2005 by merging it with Kmart, has approached a handful of private-equity firms as he looks to raise as much as $2 billion in cash, sources said.

Sears boss Eddie Lampert is shopping the retailer’s underperforming khaki-andplaid Lands’ End brand, which he bought for just under $2B a decade ago.

While it’s early in the process, sources said that Lampert is likely to tap Goldman Sachs to run the sale.

Last month, Sears said it had moved to raise upwards of $750 million by selling 11 stores and spinning off some smaller-format stores as it disclosed it lost $3.1 billion last year.

Sears has since cut a deal to sell three prize stores in Canada for $170 million.

“Everybody is talking to Sears about buying back stores,” according to a real-estate source. “It stinks of desperation.”

A Sears spokeswoman yesterday said the retailer doesn’t “comment on rumor or speculation.”

Lampert is looking to find a buyer who will license Lands’ End to Sears while pursuing growth elsewhere, possibly in Europe, according to a source.

“The idea is that Lands’ End would become something like Tommy Hilfiger,” according to the source, noting that the global brand’s clothing is licensed exclusively to Macy’s in the US.

Nevertheless, many insiders question whether the hard-bargaining billionaire could fully recover the $1.86 billion shelled out in 2002 by former Sears CEO Alan Lacy — a price tag that was widely viewed as inflated at the time.

That’s because Lands’ End — which had seen torrid growth in the 1990s as a family destination for khakis, cardigans and sensible swimsuits — hasn’t grown much under the Sears umbrella.

Sears has mostly kept mum about the brand’s financial performance in recent years, but sources said its profitability hasn’t changed much either, generating between $150 million and $200 million annually in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, or Ebitda.

While Sears had paid more than 10 times Ebitda for Lands’ End, today’s rocky retail environment makes a deal more likely in the $1.2 billion to $1.6 billion range, bankers said.

Lands’ End’s upscale image was an awkward fit from the beginning for Sears, whose stores have become increasingly shabby as Lampert has slashed capital spending.

While it’s rare for a brand to rebound, Martha Stewart has been successful at Macy’s despite a previous stint at Kmart, notes Michael Stone of the Beanstalk Group, a branding consultant.

“A lot of people remember Lands’ End before it went to Sears,” Stone said. “It can certainly be brought back to its former glory by the right company.”
Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/business/lands_end_game_5p3ePLWUD0sqSpTPERJGeM#ixzz1qWI6UmuU

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“BILL THE BUTCHER” Raw Meat is Back in Style in New York City Restaurants

Story via NYPOST.com

A good 20 minutes before the West Village Japanese restaurant Takashi opens its doors at 6 p.m. on a recent Monday, there is already a line of hungry customers forming out front.

Alex Raij, 43, is one such customer. “We’re super-excited,” says Raij, who had enlisted her mother to watch her two kids so that she and her husband, Eder Montero, 36, could dine out.

“We’ve been really keen to try it.”

What could have stoked such excitement in Raij — herself a busy chef at highly regarded tapas spots Txikito and El Quinto Pino?

Raw meat.

Takashi is one of a small but growing number of restaurants around the city catering to those who are rah-rah about consuming their animal flesh raw-raw.

The heart sashimi is a popular draw at Takashi in the West Village — but it’s not for the faint of (heh, heh) heart.

The first dish to come out is the yooke, ground chuck prepared like a Japanese version of steak tartare. Topped with a raw quail egg, it’s adorned with Japanese seaweed and an enormous shiso leaf.

It’s also by far the tamest uncooked dish at Takashi, which gets its meat from some of the better purveyors around, such as Dickson’s Farmstand and Pat LaFrieda.

There’s the heart sashimi — the organ thinly sliced and simply dressed with wasabi and soy. There’s the namagimo — slivers of liver with sesame oil and rock salt. And, perhaps wildest of all, there’s the nama-senmai, a white, chewy third stomach. (Cows have four stomachs — the third one is used to absorb nutrients.) Flash-boiled but essentially raw, it’s served with spicy miso sauce and scallions and somewhat resembles a bowl of discarded computer parts. “I like that snappiness,” says Raij of the stomach dish. But it’s not her favorite. That would have to be the niku-uni, beef tartare topped with sea urchin and wasabi. “That was delicious. It really contrasted [with seared beef] in temperature and flavor,” she says.

While New Yorkers have long embraced the concept of raw fish, our relationship with raw meat has been more complicated. “Raw meats or undercooked foods leave you at risk of infection [of parasites or a slew of other illnesses],” says Dr. Michael Mansour of the division of infectious diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital.

The health risks — including tapeworms — are not all that different than the ones you face eating sushi. “If you are a person who is elderly, pregnant or your immune system is compromised . . . you should think very carefully about exposing yourself to raw foods, whether sushi or raw meat,” he adds.

According to NYC’s Department of Health, restaurants must notify diners when food isn’t cooked to required temperatures — either verbally or by printing this on the menu. A diner may also request such a dish. Basically, it’s buyer beware — though the DOH says it will investigate complaints of people getting sick from eating raw food. But with so many New Yorkers obsessed with high-quality ingredients, meat so fresh it can be served raw is seen as a benchmark — not a danger.

“There’s no better way to sample quality than when all the other things are stripped away,” says “Bizarre Foods” TV host Andrew Zimmern. The appeal of eating raw is that one tastes the meat without the smoke or the char associated with the cooking process.

And then there’s the primal urge: “Since cavemen have been dragging a brontosaurus leg to the homestead [people enjoyed raw meat],” adds Zimmern.

At downtown’s Acme, you’ll find endive leaves stuffed with a mix of raw bison and sweet shrimp. At Manzo in Eataly, Piedmontese beef is hand-cut and ground to order. Hakata Tonton, just a couple of blocks from Takashi, offers veal liver sashimi on its menu, as does EN Japanese Brasserie on Hudson Street. Last fall, Hecho en Dumbo in the East Village offered venison tartare on the chef’s menu. (It plans to bring it back next fall, too.)

“This is basically dzik,” says Danny Mena, chef of Hecho en Dumbo, referring to the Yucatan specialty. Mena puts his own spin on the dish by soaking cubes of raw venison in sour orange juice, radishes, red onion and cilantro.

And then there’s raw chicken, a dish not for the squeamish. “There are a lot of places in the city that serve raw chicken,” says Dave Pasternack, chef-owner of Esca in Hell’s Kitchen. But you might have to ask, with a nudge and a wink, to go off the menu.

For some, raw meat is uncontroversial. “It’s my soul food,” says Takashi’s Inoue, who grew up in Osaka. “That’s how we eat in my home in Japan. The meat is very, very fresh.”

At First Oasis, out in Bay Ridge, Said Albahri serves raw kebbeh — minced raw lamb mixed with cracked wheat, onions and spices.

“Raw meat is very popular in Syria,” says Albahri, who grew up in Damascus. His customers include plenty of Middle Easterners and locals — but also the epicurious from as far away as Queens.

Still, some dishes haven’t crossed the cultural divide. At the original branch of Eataly in Turin, Italy, you’ll find a raw sausage sandwich — an item you can’t get in NYC.

And despite the popularity of places like Takashi, it can still be a struggle to get diners to try their meat raw. Mena only serves venison tartare on his tasting menu, where there are no substitutions. “I would never put it on the regular menu,” he says. But one can’t argue with the reaction. “It was very positive,” says Mena. “The customers might not have ordered [it if it was served à la carte], but 99 percent of people would finish it.”

Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/entertainment/food/they_like_it_raw_U1hn0eFWD4rCY2KlDQdm6L#ixzz1qRClL3TG

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Ritholtz: Who Is Gaming Bloomberg.com to Keep Bullish Articles “Most Popular” ?

Here’s a weird little observation:

About a month ago, I included this Bloomberg article — S&P 500 Gets 9% Cheaper — in a linkfest.  Normally, something I cull off Bloomberg’s most popular list slips off after a day or two.

But yesterday marked a full month that this has remained on the top of the Most Popular list. As you can see from the graphic below, its #3 — a month after its Feb 23, 2012 4:39 PM publication list.

Which makes me ask the question: Why?

Read the rest here.

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Whistleblower Confirms Long Standing Rumors @ JPM

“Rampant silver manipulation?  Rampant gold manipulation?  Rampant LIBOR manipulation?  Hiding MF Global client assets?  These are all happening at JP Morgan according to an open letter reportedly written by an anonymous employee of the firm.  The whistleblower also warns of a “cascading credit event being triggered” by derivatives related to Greek government debt.  UnlikeGreg Smith at Goldman Sachs, this whistleblower has chosen to remain anonymous for now.  According to the letter, the whistleblower is still an employee of JP Morgan and has not resigned.  But that does make it much more difficult to confirm what he is saying.  With Greg Smith, we know exactly who he is and what he was doing at Goldman.  As far as this anonymous whistleblower is concerned, all we have is this letter.  So we must take it with a grain of salt.  However, the information in this letter does agree with what whistleblowerssuch as Andrew Maguire have said in the past about silver manipulation by JP Morgan.  And this letter does mention Greg Smith’s resignation from Goldman, so we know that it must have been written in the past few days.  Hopefully this letter will cause authorities to take a much closer look at the crazy things that are going on over at JP Morgan and the other big Wall Street banks.

This anonymous letter was addressed to the CFTC, but unfortunately it looks like the CFTC has already chosen to ignore it.

The original letter from this anonymous whistleblower has already been taken down from the CFTC website. When you go there now, all you get is this message….

“The Comment Cannot Be Found. Please Return to the Previous Page and Try Again.”

Read More

Here is the letter:

From: Z A N
JPMorgan Chase

Comment No: 57019
Date: 3/14/2012

Dear CFTC Staff,

Hello, I am a current JPMorgan Chase employee. This is an open letter to all commissioners and regulators. I am emailing you today b/c I know of insider information that will be damning at best for JPMorgan Chase. I have decided to play the role of whistleblower b/c I no longer have faith and belief that what we are doing for society is bringing value to people. I am now under the opinion that we are actually putting hard working Americans unaware of what lays ahead at extreme market risk. This risk is unnecessary and will lead to wide-scale market collapse if not handled properly. With the release of Mr. Smith’s open letter to Goldman, I too would like to set the record straight for JPM as well. I have seen the disruptive behavior of superiors and no longer can say that I look up to employees at the ED/MD level here at JPM. Their smug exuberance and arrogance permeates the air just as pungently as rotting vegetables. They all know too well of the backdoor crony connections they share intimately with elected officials and with other institutions. It is apparent in everything they do, from the meager attempts to manipulate LIBOR, therefore controlling how almost all derivatives are priced to the inherit and fraudulent commodities manipulation. They too may have one day stood for something in the past in the client-employee relationship. Does anyone in today’s market really care about the protection of their client? From the ruthless and scandalous treatment of MF Global client asset funds to the excessive bonuses paid by companies with burgeoning liabilities. Yes, we at JPMorgan that are in the know are fearful of a cascading credit event being triggered in Greece as they have hidden derivatives in excess of $1 Trillion USD. We at JPMorgan own enough of these through counterparty risk and outright prop trading that our entire IB EDG space could be annihilated within a few short days. The last ten years has been market by inflexion point after inflexion point with the most notable coming in 2008 after the acquisition of Bear.

I wish to remain anonymous as of now as fear of termination mounts from what I am about to reveal. Robert Gottlieb is not my real name; however he is a trader that is involved in a lawsuit for manipulative trading while working with JPMorgan Chase. He was acquired during our Bear Stearns acquisition and is known to be the notorious person shorting in the silver future market from his trading space, along with Blythe Masters, his IB Global boss. However, with that said, we are manipulating the silver futures market and playing a smaller (but still massively manipulative) role in manipulating the gold futures market. We have a little over a 25% (give or take a percentage) position in the short market for silver futures and by your definition this denotes a larger position than for speculative purposes or for hedging and is beyond the line of manipulation.

On a side note, I do not work directly with accounts that would have been directly impacted by the MF Global fiasco but I have heard through other colleagues that we have involvement in the hiding of client assets from MF Global. This is another fraudulent effort on our part and constitutes theft. I urge you to forward that part of the investigation on to the respective authorities.

There is something else that you may find strange. During month-end December, we were all told by our managers that this was going to be a dismal year in terms of earnings and that we should not expect any bonuses or pay raises. Then come mid-late January it is made known that everyone received a pay raise and/or bonus, which is interesting b/c just a few weeks ago we were told that this was not likely and expected to be paid nothing in addition to base salary. January is right around the time we started increasing our short positions quite significantly again and this most recent crash in gold and silver during Bernanke’s speech on February 29th is of notable importance, as we along with 4 other major institutions, orchestrated the violent $100 drop in Gold and subsequent drops in silver.

As regulators of the free people of this country, I ask you to uphold the most important job in the world right now. That job is judge and overseer of all that is justice in the most sensitive of commodity markets. There are many middle-income people that invest in the physical assets of silver, gold, as well as mining stocks that are being financially impacted in a negative way b/c of our unscrupulous shorts in the precious metals commodity sector. If you read the COT with intent you will find that commercials (even though we have no business being in the commercial sector, which should be reserved for companies that truly produce the metal) are net short by a long shot in not only silver, but gold.

It is rather surprising that what should be well known liabilities on our balance sheet have not erupted into wider scale scrutinization. I call all honest and courageous JPMorgan employees to step up and fight the cronyism and wide-scale manipulation by reporting the truth. We are only helping reality come to light therefore allowing a real valuation of our banking industry which will give investors a chance to properly adjust without being totally wiped out. I will be contacting a lawyer shortly about this matter, as I believe no other whistleblower at JPMorgan has come forward yet. Our deepest secrets lie within the hands of honest employees and can be revealed through honest regulators that are willing to take a look inside one of America’s best kept secrets. Please do not allow this to turn into another Enron.

Kind Regards,
-The 1st Whistleblower of Many


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Executive-order Panic: Martial Law in U.S.?

Drew Zahn

The White House’s late-week release of an executive order has sent the online community into an uproar, worried that President Obama had secretly provided himself means to institute martial law in America.

In the common practice of dumping government documents on a Friday afternoon, just as the news cycle is wrapping up for the week – a move critics say allows the administration to avoid widespread coverage of embarrassing actions – the White House released an executive order on “National Defense Resources Preparedness.”

Filled with language about “government-owned equipment” and a “defense executive reserve,” among other vague statements, rumors began to spread that the executive order expanded the president’s power to do everything from seizing whole industries to drafting private armies.

A Canada Free Press article titled “Obama Executive Order: Peacetime Martial Law!” spread concerns of gasoline ration cards; while an Examiner article declared the order would “nationalize everything” and “allow for a civilian draft.” Facebook, email and Twitter were suddenly abuzz, and even the extremely popular Drudge Report posted a link to the White House release under the title “Martial Law? Obama Issues Executive Order.”

But are the cries of martial law and expanding executive power justified?

No, says William A. Jacobson, associate clinical professor at Cornell Law School.

“If someone wants to make the argument that this is an expansion of presidential powers, then do so based on actual language,” warns Jacobson. “There is enough that Obama actually does wrong without creating claims which do not hold up to scrutiny.”

As it turns out, Obama’s executive order is nearly identical to EO 12919, issued by President Clinton on June 7, 1994, which itself was an amendment to EO 10789, issued in 1958 by President Eisenhower, and which in fact, was later amended by EO 13286, issued in 2003 by George W. Bush.

Obama’s executive order specifically assigns “executive departments and agencies responsible for plans and programs related to national defense” to do five things:

  • “identify” requirements for emergencies;
  • “assess” the capability of the country’s industrial and technological base;
  • “be prepared” to ensure the availability of critical resources in time of national threat;
  • “improve the efficiency” of the industrial base to support national defense;
  • “foster cooperation” between commercial and defense sectors.

Later provisions in the order establish the protocol for government agencies to purchase equipment needed in times of national emergency and even make loans to ensure the availability of that equipment.

Despite the vague nature of the functions, none mention anything about martial law or seizing private property. The five functions are also identical to those identified in Clinton’s EO 12919.

So why did Obama issue the order at all?

A side-by-side analysis of Obama’s order compared to Clinton’s, conducted by Ed Morrissey of HotAir.com, reveals Obama’s order is essentially just an update to reflect changes in government agency structure.

“If one takes a look at EO 12919, the big change is in the cabinet itself,” Morrissey writes. “In 1994, we didn’t have a Department of Homeland Security, for instance, and some of these functions would naturally fall to DHS. In EO 12919, the FEMA director had those responsibilities, and the biggest change between the two is the removal of several references to FEMA (10 in all). Otherwise, there aren’t a lot of changes between the two EOs, which looks mainly like boilerplate.

“I’m not ruling out the possibility that this is more than it seems,” adds Jacobson, “but unless and until someone [demonstrates any expansion of powers in the order], I’ll consider this to be routine.”

“The timing of this release might have looked a little strange,” Morrissey concludes, “but this is really nothing to worry about at all.”


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Goldman Person Leaked Apple, Intel Secrets: Lawyer

By Grant McCool

NEW YORK | Fri Mar 16, 2012 7:30pm EDT

(Reuters) – A person at Goldman Sachs Group Inc, who has not been identified or charged in a broad U.S. insider-trading probe, was caught on a wiretap leaking secrets about Intel Corp and Apple Inc, a lawyer for accused former Goldman board member Rajat Gupta said in court on Friday.

Lawyer Gary Naftalis, in a heated exchange with U.S. prosecutor Reed Brodsky during a pre-trial hearing, said the Goldman person leaked confidential information about the two companies to Raj Rajaratnam, the Galleon Group hedge fund founder convicted of insider-trading charges last year.

Gupta, the best-known corporate executive accused in a sweeping prosecution of insider-trading at hedge funds in recent years, denies criminal charges that he tipped Rajaratnam with Goldman Sachs and Procter & Gamble Co secrets between 2007 and 2009. His trial is scheduled to begin in May.

“In a letter he (Brodsky) said the government had a person who provided confidential information to Raj Rajaratnam about Apple and Intel,” Naftalis said. “There is also wiretap evidence, substantial evidence of another source at Goldman Sachs.”

Naftalis told U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff the defense believed “there is a much more circumstantial case that person should be sitting in the box rather than us.”

Read the rest here.

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Schools Will Be Able Not to Serve Pink Slime


“WASHINGTON (AP) — The Agriculture Department says that starting next fall, schools can stop feeding students a common ammonia-treated ground beef filler dubbed “pink slime” by critics.

The department says it will give school systems a choice of beef patties made with the lean finely textured filler, or less lean bulkground beef without it.

Concern about the ammonia-treated filler exploded last week as a social media topic. The Agriculture Department says the filler is safe. But it says it wants to be responsive to schools that want a choice.

The low-cost filler is heated and processed so most of the fat is removed before it is compressed into blocks for use in ground meat. It is exposed to a “puff of ammonia hydroxide gas” to kill bacteria.”

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FORMER GOLDMAN INTERN: This Is What It Was Like Working Under Greg Smith

By Linette Lopez

So far, the only inside response to Greg Smith’s damning NYT op-ed on Goldman Sachs has been from the company’s PR department. They simply said they didn’t agree with Smith, no color, no context to why he would write this piece.

But a former intern who worked under Smith gave Business Insider a look into who Smith was at Goldman. Aveneesh Singh Saluja, a fellow Stanford alum, was willing to speak out for the guy most Goldmanites are probably fuming at…

Read the rest here.

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Jeremy Scahill: Obama after whistleblowers worldwide


“The United States encourages the Freedom of the Press both in America and abroad — at least they claim. But in actuality, the Obama administration is going out of their way to keep journalists from exposing the truth.

US President Barack Obama claims he runs an administration hell-bent on being transparent and open. At the same time, however, the commander-in-chief has condemned WikiLeaks contributor Bradley Manning for allegedly aiding the enemy by revealing the truth behind America’s war in Iraq. Now it has been divulged that Obama even appealed with the president of Yemen to ensure that one of their own journalists would stay behind bars for telling the truth.

Journalist Jeremy Scahill tells RT that Yemeni reporter Abdulelah Haider Shaye was instrumental in exposing the falsities of a covert war in Yemen. In December 2009, Scahill says the press reported that a Yemeni strike had killed 34 members of al-Qaeda. When Shaye went to investigate though, he soon learned through spending time on the ground that the US was actually directly involved in the attack — an attack which took the lives of civilians.

“They were concerned that this was a guy who was telling al-Qaeda’s side of the story and they wanted it shut down,”says Scahill.

Shaye was eventually put on trial for exposing the truth behind the event and allegedly the court introduced false evidence, which in the end yielded a conviction that potentially  carried a death sentence. But since the entire case against the journalist was fabricated by his government, the journalist got off with a relatively mild sentence of just five years. Under pressure, Yemeni President Saleh intended to pardon Shaye. This is when he got a call from President Obama himself, personally requesting that Saleh switch his stance on pardoning the reporter.

“He is in prison because Barack Obama wants him in prison,” Scahill tells RT. Although Shaye remains largely unrecognized by western reporters, Scahill says it was his work that served as a smoking gun behind one of the biggest cover-ups of the Obama administration, saying that “his journalism, if anything, is the number one reason why we know anything at all about al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.” Even if his identity is largely unknown though, says Scahill, the unfortunate consequences are something any war reporter will try to avoid.

“I think a lot of journalists are afraid to speak out on behalf of someone who has been accused of being pro-al-Qaeda or an al-Qaeda spokesperson,” he claims. The writer adds that the case of Shaye may be an extreme one, but that doesn’t mean it will happen again.

“What I am more concerned about,” says Scahill, is “in this culture where this administration is going after whistleblowers in an unprecedented way, we all have an obligation to protect our sources. Myself, I’m really nervous about the safety of some of the people that I talk to.”

“This administration seems intent on going after whistleblowers,” adds Scahill, who continues that as a journalist that covers national security issues, he often deals with government insiders that disclose details that otherwise would not escape the Pentagon. Incidents such as the imprisonment of Shaye and Manning, however, ended up sending“shockwaves through the community.”

In Yemen, where Shaye broke the truth behind the 2009 airstrike, Scahill says the mood has changed entirely for reporters there who are now terrified to talk the truth. With Obama extending his influence all the way to Yemeni journalists, Scahill says soon others may have to worry.

“The message there is that there sort of good terrorists and bad terrorists, and if you’re a former official of the Democratic or Republican Party, you’re allowed to advocate for people that are State Department-designated terrorists,” says Scahill. “But if you’re a journalist, you’re not allowed to interview them. That is chilling.”

Scahill adds that even if the Obama administration believes persecuting whistleblowers will bring a victory for their covert wars, it ultimately hurts America’s counterterrorism efforts.

“You need to understand the mentality of the people you claim to be fighting or you’re never going to be able to address the problem you say you’re fighting to wipe out,” says the journalist. “Even if you accept the framework of this global so-called ‘war on terror,’ you have just taken away one of your best opportunities to get intelligence on the ground” by jailing reporters.”

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