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Court Documents Show the Fed is Helping to Shield Large Banks From Regulation and Capital Requirements While Still Bailing Them Out

“Many people became rightfully upset about bailouts given to big banks during the mortgage crisis. But it turns out that they are still going on, if more quietly, through the back door.

The existence of one such secret deal, struck in July between the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and Bank of America, came to light just last week in court filings.

That the New York Fed would shower favors on a big financial institution may not surprise. It has long shielded large banks from assertive regulation and increased capital requirements.

(Read MoreThe World’s Safest Banks)

Still, last week’s details of the undisclosed settlement between the New York Fed and Bank of America are remarkable. Not only do the filings show the New York Fed helping to thwart another institution’s fraud case against the bank, they also reveal that the New York Fed agreed to give away what may be billions of dollars in potential legal claims.

Here’s the skinny: Late last Wednesday, the New York Fed said in a court filing that in July it had released Bank of America from all legal claims arising from losses in some mortgage-backed securities the Fed received when the government bailed out the American International Group in 2008. One surprise in the filing, which was part of a case brought by A.I.G., was that the New York Fed let Bank of America off the hook even as A.I.G. was seeking to recover $7 billion in losses on those very mortgage securities.

It gets better…..”

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GAO: The Financial Crisis Tops $22 Trillion

“The 2008 financial crisis cost the U.S. economy more than $22 trillion, a study by the Government Accountability Office published Thursday said. The financial reform law that aims to prevent another crisis, by contrast, will cost a fraction of that.

“The 2007-2009 financial crisis, like past financial crises, was associated with not only a steep decline in output but also the most severe economic downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s,” the GAO wrote in the report. The agency said the financial crisis toll on economic output may be as much as $13 trillion — an entire year’s gross domestic product. The office said paper wealth lost by U.S. homeowners totalled $9.1 billion. Additionally, the GAO noted, economic losses associated with increased mortgage foreclosures and higher unemployment since 2008 need to be considered as additional costs.

The report, five years after the collapse of mortgage-focused hedge funds in late-2007 set off a yearlong banking panic and a deep recession, was published as part of a cost-benefit analysis of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law of 2010. The GAO tried to determine if the benefits of preventing a future economic meltdown exceeded the costs of implementing that law.

“If the cost of a future crisis is expected to be in the trillions of dollars, then the act likely would need to reduce the probability of a future financial crisis by only a small percent for its expected benefit to equal the act’s expected cost,” the GAO concluded.

Federal agencies have spent some $1.1 billion in implementing the law, the report found. Financial companies, and therefore the wider economy, will shoulder some costs, although the GAO noted “no comprehensive data are readily available on the costs that the financial services industry is incurring to comply with the Dodd-Frank Act.”

It’s unclear whether the report will mollify critics of the Dodd-Frank law….”

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Advocacy Group Says Cyber Attacks are on the Rise for Journalists

“More journalists are now the target of cyber attacks, said the Committee to Protect Journalists. CPJ deputy director Robert Mahoney said cyber attacks on individuals and news organizations have increased notably over the past few years and that the practice serves as easy and inexpensive censorship. In a press conference with reporters, Mahoney cited the recent attacks on The New York Times, the Washington Post, Bloomberg News and The Wall Street Journal by Chinese hackers, but said other news organizations and journalists in Africa, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and other regions had also been subjected to cyberattacks.

Attacks by hackers have ramped up so much that in a report last June, the CPJ said that it’s now “open season on online journalists,” with nation-states using customized software to exploit security flaws on personal computers and consumer Internet services in order to spy on users. Countries suspected in spying include the U.S., Israel and China. Journalists working in the latter country reported receiving regular warnings on their Gmail that their account had been targeted by what Google said was a “state-sponsored attack.”

Other countries include Myanmar, where several journalists who cover the country said earlier this week that they had received warnings from Google that their email accounts might have been hacked by “state-sponsored attackers.” This wasn’t the only case of cyberattacks and news Web sites in that country, where these incidents are calling into question the integrity of media reforms by the government.

CPJ wrote in its June report that:

The lesson of all of this activity is that many governments see these attacks as an effective, unregulated, and deniable way to target groups that would otherwise be too politically sensitive or independent to publically challenge or co-opt. That puts reporters, bloggers, and media companies high on the hit list….”

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Dangerous Liaisons: The Revolving Door Between The SEC and The Industry they ‘Police’

“A revolving door blurs the lines between one of the nation’s most important regulatory agencies and the interests it regulates. Former employees of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) routinely help corporations try to influence SEC rulemaking, counter the agency’s investigations of suspected wrongdoing, soften the blow of SEC enforcement actions, block shareholder proposals, and win exemptions from federal law. POGO’s report examines many manifestations of the revolving door, analyzes how the revolving door can influence the SEC, and explores how to mitigate the most harmful effects….”

Full report

“The study also found numerous other concerns with the “revolving door” between the SEC and financial firms. These included agency workers trying to help corporations influence agency regulations, defending companies suspected of breaking the law, and helping them avoid tougher enforcement actions.


Perhaps the most high-profile concern in this arena is President Obama’s nomination of Mary Jo White to become the new SEC chief. During her most recent job at the firm of Debevoise & Plimpton, White’s clients included JPMorgan Chase, General Electric, Verizon Communications, former Bank of America chief executive Kenneth Lewis, and Rajat Gupta, the former Goldman Sachs board member convicted of insider trading….”



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Thousands of Florida Students Arrested Annually for Actions that Used to Merit a Trip to the Principal’s Office

“Florida continues to arrest thousands of students each year for minor violations not deemed criminal acts.


Of the 12,000 students taken from school to jail by police in 2012, 67% were accused of misdemeanors, such as disorderly conduct. Oftentimes, disorderly conduct amounts to little more than a student disobeying a teacher’s order to put away a cell phone or stop talking in class.


Wansley Walters, secretary of the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, told theOrlando Sentinel that most arrests stemmed from “bad behavior, not criminal behavior.”


“The vast majority of children being arrested in schools are not committing criminal acts,” Walters added. He pointed out that these arrests pull students out of school and inject them into the criminal justice system, which usually results in making their behavior worse and prevents them from getting counseling.


It was also found that African-American and disabled students were arrested disproportionately in number…..”

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NYT: Complex Products are Creating More Investor Fraud Opportunities

“Investor fraud is increasing, as yield-hungry investors embrace exotic financial products and speculative bets.

“Since the crisis, we’ve seen more and more people reaching out into different types of exotic investments that are a big concern to us,” said William Galvin, the Massachusetts secretary of the commonwealth, according to The New York Times.

For instance, Massachusetts ordered LPL Financial, a large brokerage firm, to pay $2.5 million for improperly selling non-traded real estate investment trusts (REITs). …”

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State of the Union: Households On Foodstamps Rise To New Record

“While hardly presented by the mainstream media with the same panache dedicated to the monthly ARIMA-X-12 seasonally-adjusted, climate-affected, goal-seek devised non-farm payroll data, the three month delayed Foodstamp number is according to many a far greater attestation to the “effectiveness” of the Obama administration to turn the economy around. And far greater it is: since his inauguration, the US has generated just 841,000 jobs through November 2012, a number is more than dwarfed by the 17.3 million new foodstamps and disability recipients added to the rolls in the past 4 years. And since the start of the depression in December 2007, America has seen those on foodstamps and disability increase by 21.8 million, while losing 3.6 million jobs. End result: total number of foodstamp recipients as of November: 47.7 million, an increase of 141,000 from the prior month, and reversing the brief downturn in October, while total US households on foodstamps just hit an all time record of 23,017,768, an increase of 73,952 from the prior month. The cost to the government to keep these 23 million households content and not rising up? $281.21 per month per household.

Total Americans on foodstamps…”

Full article and charts

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Let’s Scrap the 4th Amendment Too!

“The Department of Homeland Security’s civil rights watchdog has concluded that travelers along the nation’s borders may have their electronics seized and the contents of those devices examined for any reason whatsoever — all in the name of national security.

The DHS, which secures the nation’s border, in 2009 announced that it would conduct a “Civil Liberties Impact Assessment” of its suspicionless search-and-seizure policy pertaining to electronic devices “within 120 days.” More than three years later, the DHS office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties published a two-page executive summary of its findings.

“We also conclude that imposing a requirement that officers have reasonable suspicion in order to conduct a border search of an electronic device would be operationally harmful without concomitant civil rights/civil liberties benefits,” the executive summary said.

The memo highlights the friction between today’s reality that electronic devices have become virtual extensions of ourselves housing everything from e-mail to instant-message chats to photos and our papers and effects — juxtaposed against the government’s stated quest for national security.

The President George W. Bush administration first announced the suspicionless, electronics search rules in 2008. The President Barack Obama administration followed up with virtually the same rules a year later. Between 2008 and 2010, 6,500 persons had their electronic devices searched along the U.S. border, according to DHS data.

According to legal precedent, the Fourth Amendment — the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures — does not apply along the border. By the way, the government contends the Fourth-Amendment-Free Zone stretches 100 miles inland from the nation’s actual border.

Civil rights groups like the American Civil Liberties Union suggest that “reasonable suspicion” should be the rule, at a minimum, despite that being a lower standard than required by the Fourth Amendment.

“There should be a reasonable, articulate reason why the search of our electronic devices could lead to evidence of a crime,” Catherine Crump, an ACLU staff attorney, said in a telephone interview. “That’s a low threshold.”

The DHS watchdog’s conclusion isn’t surprising, as the DHS is taking that position in litigation in which the ACLU is challenging the suspicionless, electronic-device searches and seizures along the nation’s borders. But that conclusion nevertheless is alarming considering it came from the DHS civil rights watchdog, which maintains its mission is “promoting respect for civil rights and civil liberties.”

“This is a civil liberties watchdog office. If it is doing its job property, it is supposed to objectively evaluate. It has the power to recommend safeguards to safeguard Americans’ rights,” Crump said. “The office has not done that and the public has the right to know why.”…”

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Trend Cycle Analysis in Relation to Unemployment, Retail, GDP, & Event Horizon

“……According to numbers issued by the Department of Labor, weekly unemployment reports have dropped to a five year low, and the overall employment rate is holding at 7.9%.  This would seem to be a vast improvement over the dreadful bloodletting in the system only a few years ago.  Has the private Federal Reserve and the Obama Administration really done it?  Have they turned back the tide on the greatest fiscal crisis the U.S. has seen since the Depression?

No.  They haven’t.

They have only changed how the data is disseminated to the public. In order to understand how the employment statistics con is being engineered, it is important to understand the difference between “Adjusted” and “Unadjusted” numbers.

Labor Department data is “seasonally adjusted”, using a series of statistical assumptions including something called “Trend Cycle Analysis”.  Trend Cycle Analysis is, basically, a sham, but a sham put together in a very complex and confusing manner.  If you ask a mainstream economist what it is, you’ll likely get a three hour long dissertation filled with financial babble and very little concrete explanation.  So let me break it down as simply as I can…

Imagine that you are going to estimate how much profit you plan to make in a particular month, but you don’t just consider your current pay rate and pop it into a calculator; you also throw in the possibility of a few pay raises, an inheritance from a grandma who might kick the bucket, and, your exaggerated expectations of the entire year’s profit on top of that.  You may also take into account future bad weather, a mugging, a nuclear war….whatever.  All hypothetical situations not based in reality.  Basically, you decide that a particular trend in your income is inevitable, then, mold your statistical analysis around that assumption.

When your real profit numbers come in (the unadjusted numbers) and they do not meet your expectations, you simply change them according to what you believe SHOULD have happened.  If you insist that your profits are going to go up for the year, and they go down for a couple months instead, you change the variables you use to calculate the statistical average so that the results match your expectations, assuming that it will all balance out in the end.

Now, this sounds utterly insane for the common person out there trying to make a living.  If you ran your household this way, without accepting the cold hard unadjusted numbers in front of you, you’d find yourself broke and on the street in no time.  Unfortunately this is EXACTLY how our government handles most financial data; by coming to a final conclusion before hand, and then forcing the numbers to fit that conclusion.

This is why in February of 2013, “adjusted” first week unemployment rate was reported at 366,000 – a 5000 person drop from the week before.  A seeming improvement in the trend.  But, unadjusted numbers came in at 386,176 – a 16,000 person spike from the week before.  When one examines real unemployment numbers, he finds that the divergence between the adjusted and unadjusted statistics is growing larger with each passing quarter.  That is to say, the contradiction is becoming so blatant between the hard numbers and the Labor Department’s fantasy numbers that one must question whether or not the government is lying to us outright about the state of the economy (hint – they are lying).

These same methods are used by the government to calculate progress in the housing market, disposable income, etc.

The claim of “recovery” in the jobs market simply doesn’t jive with other indicators, like 2012 Christmas retail, which had the worst showing since the crash in 2008 (and these are still mainstream numbers!):


Average household savings continue to scrape the bottom of the barrel, indicating that the public is not spending or withholding cash.  They are simply broke:

And the overall GDP of the U.S. contracted in the fourth quarter of 2012 for the first time in three years (again, according to official numbers, meaning the reality is much worse):


The downturn in consumption and industry also seems to be supported by the Baltic Dry Index, a measure of global shipping and rates.  The BDI has fallen to near historic lows THREE TIMES in the past year, which to my knowledge, has never happened before.  In the past, the BDI has been a strong prophetic indicator of future market volatility.  Usually, around a year after a severe decline in the index, a dangerous economic event takes place.  The BDI made its first sharp drop to all time lows at the end of January 2012, exactly a year ago. …….”

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Support the Syrian Rebels With Your Tax Dollars

Do you see what your contributing too? We need to change foreign policy people. This can’t be good.

[youtube://http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jya6aNo_JvM 450 300]

Link for iPhone users: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jya6aNo_JvM

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Nearly Seven Million iOS Devices Hacked In Four Days

“Over the last half a week, Apple has been hit with the largest mass-hacking incident in its history. And the perpetrators were the company’s own users.

Nearly seven million iPhone, iPad and iPod touch owners have cracked Apple’s restrictions on their devices using the jailbreaking tool Evasi0n since the tool was released Monday morning, according to the latest count from Jay Freeman, the administrator of the app store for jailbroken devices known as Cydia. That makes the iOS-hacking app the fastest-adopted jailbreak software of all time, Freeman says.

As of Thursday night, Freeman’s alternative app store had received visits from 5.15 million iPhones, 1.35 million iPads, and 400,000 iPod touches that were jailbroken with evasi0n, the first jailbreaking software for the iPhone 5 and iOS 6.1.

Though he doesn’t have exact figures for previous jailbreaks, Freeman says that evasi0n has brought Cydia “insanely more new traffic” than the release of the jailbreak tool called Absinthe that worked on some versions of iOS 5. And even Jailbreakme3, the popular web-based jailbreak released by iPhone hacker Comex in the summer of 2011, was only used on 1.4 million devices in its first nine days online, Comex told me at the time.

That increased demand is due in part to a larger number of iPhones on the market–Apple sold 136 million phones in 2012, according to the latest figures from analyst firm Canalys. But Freeman argues that evasi0n’s popularity also comes from the fact that those devices still remain far too tightly locked down for many users, who want the ability to download apps Apple has kept out of its strictly filtered app store, or to customize their phone’s appearance and settings in ways Apple doesn’t allow. “Smart phones have become more and more popular, but they’ve maintained a closed experience that makes it difficult for people to get what they want,” he says. “Therefore people have needed to turn to jailbreaking to fill the gap.” …”

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Ex L.A. Police Officer Goes on a Shooting Rampage

“A massive manhunt was underway Thursday morning for an ex-Los Angeles Police Department officer suspected of shooting three police officers early Thursday, one fatally. He is also a suspect in the shooting of a couple in Irvine over the weekend.

The suspect is believed to have written an online manifesto on what authorities say is his Facebook page, threatening to harm police officials and their families, law enforcement sources said.

PHOTOS: Manhunt for ex-LAPD officer

The three shootings early Thursday morning occurred in Riverside County.

One LAPD officer was grazed in the Corona area, law enforcement sources said. Then sometime later, two Riverside Police Department officers were shot in Riverside. One of those officers died, sources said. That shooting occurred at Magnolia and Arlington avenues. The officers were taken to Riverside Community Hospital…..”

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E-Mails Imply $JPM Knew Mortgage Deals Were Toxic

“When an outside analysis uncovered serious flaws with thousands of home loans, JPMorgan Chase executives found an easy fix.

Rather than disclosing the full extent of problems like fraudulent home appraisals and overextended borrowers, the bank adjusted the critical reviews,according to documents filed early Tuesday in federal court in Manhattan. As a result, the mortgages, which JPMorgan bundled into complex securities, appeared healthier, making the deals more appealing to investors.

The trove of internal e-mails and employee interviews, filed as part of a lawsuit by one of the investors in the securities, offers a fresh glimpse into Wall Street’s mortgage machine, which churned out billions of dollars of securities that later imploded. The documents reveal that JPMorgan, as well as two firms the bank acquired during the credit crisis, Washington Mutual and Bear Stearns, flouted quality controls and ignored problems, sometimes hiding them entirely, in a quest for profit.

The lawsuit, which was filed by Dexia, a Belgian-French bank, is being closely watched on Wall Street. After suffering significant losses, Dexia sued JPMorgan and its affiliates in 2012, claiming it had been duped into buying $1.6 billion of troubled mortgage-backed securities. The latest documents could provide a window into a $200 billion case that looms over the entire industry.In that lawsuit, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, has accused 17 banks of selling dubious mortgage securities to the two housing giants. At least 20 of the securities are also highlighted in the Dexia case, according to an analysis of court records.

In court filings, JPMorgan has strongly denied wrongdoing and is contesting both cases in federal court. The bank declined to comment.

Dexia’s lawsuit is part of a broad assault on Wall Street for its role in the 2008 financial crisis, as prosecutors, regulators and private investors take aim at mortgage-related securities. New York’s attorney general, Eric T. Schneiderman, sued JPMorgan last year over investments created by Bear Stearns between 2005 and 2007.

Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan’s chief executive, has criticized prosecutors for attacking JPMorgan because of what Bear Stearns did. Speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations in October, Mr. Dimon said the bank did the federal government “a favor” by rescuing the flailing firm in 2008….”

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$SD Allows CEO Wide Latitude on Oil and Gas Deals That Spark Conflict of Interest

“(Reuters) – SandRidge Energy Corp is giving its chief executive wide latitude to profit from personal oil-and-gas deals in ways that pose potential conflicts of interest with the company, according to a review of employment contracts and recent transactions.

SandRidge has lifted most restrictions on CEO Tom Ward’s ability to sell mineral rights or drill wells, through little-noticed changes to his employment agreement in 2011. (See Factbox.)

Before the changes, Ward was permitted to receive royalties from SandRidge, or jointly own wells with it, on land he had owned before joining the company in 2006. The 2011 agreement allows him to do deals with SandRidge competitors in the oil and gas business, and to do business with SandRidge on any land that he owns or acquires.

Ward started the independent energy producer in 2006 after leaving Chesapeake Energy Corp, which he co-founded with Chesapeake CEO Aubrey McClendon. At the two companies, both based in Oklahoma City, the CEOs have entwined their own finances with those of the publicly traded corporations they run. Last week, McClendon announced his resignation from Chesapeake after a year marked by a cash crunch and civil and criminal probes into his personal finances and other matters.

The new language in Ward’s employment contract allows “participation in outside operated oil andgas drilling” in areas not being pursued by the company. It also allows his “participation as a working interest owner in properties operated by the company” on land owned by Ward-related entities.

Taken together, the two privileges give Ward greater leeway to profit on private dealings.

According to land records reviewed by Reuters, a Ward-linked entity named 192 Investments LLC acquired mineral rights on thousands of acres in late 2011 in the Mississippi Lime shale formation in Kansas. The Ward-related company bought those mineral rights just months before SandRidge leased property in adjacent plots, the Kansas land records show.

Such deals could pose a potential conflict of interest. Buying personal mineral rights in land adjacent to acreage later bought by SandRidge could allow Ward to profit if SandRidge’s purchases help drive up values, for instance. SandRidge doesn’t disclose when its chief executive acquires new mineral rights in areas where it drills.

In 2012, the year after the employment contract was revised, royalties paid by SandRidge to TLW Land & Cattle – an entity in which Ward holds an ownership stake – rose by some $500,000 from the previous year to $1.4 million. TLW stands for Tom L. Ward.

It is unclear why the TLW royalties rose last year. Energy production simply could have increased at wells on land owned by TLW, increasing the royalties as well. The 2011 changes in Ward’s contract could also have enabled him to sell more mineral rights to the company….”

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Feds Bust a Credit Card Ring That Got Away With $200 Million

“Eighteen people have been charged in what may be one of the nation’s largest credit card fraud rings, a sprawling international scam that duped credit rating agencies and used thousands of fake identities to steal at least $200 million, federal authorities said Tuesday.

The elaborate scheme involved improving fake cardholders’ credit scores, allowing the scammers to borrow more money that they never repaid, investigators said.

“The accused availed themselves of a virtual cafeteria of sophisticated frauds and schemes, whose main menu items were greed and deceit,” said David Velazquez, assistant special agent in charge of the FBI’s Newark field office.

The U.S. attorney in Newark, Paul Fishman, described an intricate Jersey City-based con that began in 2007, operated in at least 28 states and wired money to Pakistan, India, the United Arab Emirates, Canada, Romania, China, and Japan.

The group used at least 7,000 fake identities to obtain more than 25,000 credit cards, Fishman said. Investigators documented $200 million in losses, but the figure could rise, he said.

“Through their greed and arrogance,” Fishman said, the people arrested harm credit card companies, consumers and “the rest of us who have to deal with increased interest rates and fees because of the money sucked out of the system by criminals.”

Participants in the scam set up more than 1,800 mailing addresses, creating fake utility bills and other documents to provide credit card companies with what appeared to be legitimate addresses, investigators said. Once they obtained the cards, they started making small charges and paying off the cards to raise their credit limits, authorities said.

They then sent fake reports to credit rating agencies, making it appear that cardholders had paid off debts, setting the stage for sterling credit ratings and high credit limits, investigators said….”

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Chances Are You Have Been Hacked by $GOOG


“A few months ago, the Federal Communications Commission fined Google $25,000 for taking its sweet time to give information to the FCC about an interesting project Google had been working on.

Most of you are probably familiar with Google Maps, where you can search for directions to wherever you need to go and even get a street view of the area. Google literally paid for trucks to go around with cameras on them in order to record this information. Not a big deal, right?

Well it wouldn’t be a big deal if those trucks didn’t include technology on them that could swipe all of your personal information off unsecured Wi-Fi connections.

Just in case you don’t know what that means, if you have Wi-Fi in your house and it didn’t have a password on it to protect it, odds are that Google has all of your personal information.

What do I mean by personal information? Everything. Passwords, websites you’ve visited, financial records, absolutely anything that you have ever done on your home computer, Google now has.

Think about it this way: If you can’t live without the Internet, odds are that Google has your life.

The FCC Did Nothing

Apparently, according to the FCC, Google did nothing wrong. That’s right. According to the government (which, by the way, has millions of dollars’ worth of contracts with Google), the company had a right to spy on you.

Actually, that’s not quite right. Google did do something wrong, according to the FCC, it delayed the information it gave to the FCC.

The world’s leading search engine said that searching its own employees’ emails and getting statements from them “would be a time-consuing and burdensome task.”

The company can gather all of your personal information in a nanosecond from the air outside of your house, yet it said it would take too long to get the information about why it did it.

For delaying a Federal investigation, Google, of course, was fined heavily and people were sent to jail, right? Wrong. For all of that, the company was fined $25,000.

What does that “hefty” fine mean to Google?

Take all the money you have out of your pocket. Now take the lint out of the bottom of that pocket. That lint has the same value to you as a $25,000 fine does to Google. It’s not even a slap on the wrist; it’s more like an endorsement.

When contacted, Google’s employees refused to make statements as to why they were recording this information. That sounds like they have something to hide, doesn’t it?

Oh, and don’t think Google has pulled this trick off just in America. It did the exact same thing in 29 other major countries. Google doesn’t just spy on U.S. citizens; it spies on the world.

No one has rights in a Google-run world. And our government (which, let me remind you again, contracts Google to supply it data) is doing nothing to stop it.

It Isn’t Just Google…”

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$GS On the Matter of New Tax Policies: “Each % Point Rise in Effective Tax Rate Would Lower S&P 500 ROE by 22 bp and EPS by $1.50

“Following today’s sequester-delay-seeking, tax-hiking, close-the-loophole speech by the President, it would appear that fiscal policy debates will be balanced a little more to raising effective rates on corporates (as opposed to the ‘statutory’ rate so many discuss). The US has the second highest global ‘statutory’ tax rate but less than 10% of S&P 500 firms have paid this rate over the last decade. Somewhat shockingly, since 1975,taxes have had the largest cumulative impact on S&P 500 ROE as effective rates fell from 44% to 30%. They estimate each percentage point rise in effective tax rate would lower S&P 500 ROE by 22 bp and EPS by $1.50, all else equal. Closing all the loopholes would smash year-end 2013 expectations from Goldman’s 1575 to around 1300 with Staples and Tech the hardest hit. With the ‘market’ the only policy tool left, it would seem not even the Fed could monetarily save us from this fiscally fubar action. 


Via Goldman Sachs,

Political dialogue in Washington, D.C. has turned squarely to the nation’s fiscal health. The temporary resolution of the ‘fiscal cliff’ focused mainly on raising revenues through changes to personal tax rates, but delayed decision-making deadlines on the sequester and the long-term path of Federal spending.

Corporate tax rates will likely receive scrutiny as the debate continues. Corporate taxes contributed 8% of 2012 federal revenues. A recent Congressional Budget Office report suggested that policy adjustments such as eliminating foreign tax deferrals could increase US tax revenues by as much as $100 billion over the next decade….”

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Tsunami Warning In Effect for Australia and New Zealand, 8.0 Strikes in the Solomon Islands


SYDNEY – A tsunami alert has been issued after a strong earthquake in the South Pacific.

The U.S. Geological Survey says the 8.0-magnitude quake struck Wednesday 81 kilometers (50 miles) west of Lata, in the Solomon Islands, at a depth of 5.8 kilometers (3.6 miles.)

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center says the tsunami warning is in effect for the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Tuvalu, New Caledonia, Kosrae, Fiji, Kiribati, Wallis and Futuna.

This is a developing story and we’ll update the information as it becomes available.

Full report

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A Moment of Clarity- #MLK Jr., #News, #Murder, #Intrigue

[youtube://http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z_4hikITY7M&list=UU6co8_uGCP_EUQKGZguG63Q&index=1 450 300]

Link for iPhone users: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z_4hikITY7M&list=UU6co8_uGCP_EUQKGZguG63Q&index=1

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