Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Keeping Dark Money in the Shadows

Congress recently passed a new bill that will ensure that “dark money” in elections will remain shrouded in secrecy.
Congress recently passed a new bill that will ensure that “dark money” in elections will remain shrouded in secrecy.
With the Supreme Court knocking down regulations with a wrecking ball, the FEC out of commission, and an election heating up that will likely redefine the term “big money,” there are few avenues left for regulation of American elections. And now, Congress is set to close one off.
On June 17, the House Appropriations Committee passed 2016 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill including a collection of provisions that ensure that the so-called “dark money” of elections—money that passes through supposedly non-political social welfare nonprofits, such as the Koch Brothers’ Crossroads GPS or the League of Conservation Voters, and is therefore free from disclosure—remains very much dark.
Section 129 of the bill prevents the IRS from taking any action to investigate whether these social welfare groups are acting exclusively for social welfare; Section 625 prevents the SEC from requiring disclosure of political donations for publicly traded companies; Section 735 prevents a rule requiring that government contractors disclose their contributions to political groups, nonprofits, and trade unions.
Rules like these are aimed at preventing what some campaign watchdog groups refer to as the dark money system. Though Federal Election Commission regulations require disclosure of all donations to political candidates, 501(c)(4) groups—groups determined by the IRS to be for social welfare, not political campaigning, and exempt from taxes and donor disclosure—can be used as a workaround. Corporations and individuals do not have to disclose their donations to these groups, meaning that these groups can make donations to political campaigns using money donated by others without those original donors revealing it.
An executive order requiring disclosure rules of this sort had been one of the last hopes for election watchdogs looking for a way to keep campaign finance under control in the coming election. This action by the House Appropriations—part of a large government funding bill for which passage will likely not hinge on such small sections—has left them even more enraged at the state of current campaign finance regulations.
“I think it’s pretty outrageous that they try to kill these ideas,” Lawrence Noble, Senior Counsel for the Campaign Legal Center, told WhoWhatWhy. “They’re trying to short-circuit any attempt of disclosure of dark money.”
Jon Bonifaz, President of the Free Speech for People campaign watchdog group, agrees. “It’s another effort to essentially keep from the public the information of who is influencing our elections,” he said to WhoWhatWhy. “I don’t think this belongs in any open society in any country that believes in the fairness of its elections.”
The Appropriations Committee, for its part, celebrated these provisions in a press release, pointing to their efforts “to protect the right to free speech and political involvement.”
David Keating, President of the Center For Competitive Politics, applauds the Committee’s bill, saying that it is a victory for freedom of speech.
“It’s very dangerous for any government agency to be policing speech, especially when it’s an agency like the SEC that knows nothing about First Amendment speech,” Keating told WhoWhatWhy. He points to the way that these disclosure rules would go beyond political contributions and affect all non-profits—a problem for worthy causes that may be unpopular.
He furthermore feels that forcing rules like these for government contractors would make assigning of government contracts far more difficult. “It’s bad from a First Amendment perspective and it’s bad from a fiscal policy perspective.”
Noble disagrees with this claim.
“It is a pay-to-play situation,” he said, comparing campaign contributions by government contractors to out-and-out bribery corruption. “You can’t even get any reform to the system because the people who would be affected by reform are giving enough money to stop it.”
Polls have shown public opinion clearly supports limits on money in politics, but Congress is now making it clear that things will get worse before they get better.
“Because Congress knows that there’s public support for all this, they don’t want it to gain too much steam,” says Noble.
Bonifaz sees this action, seemingly going against the wishes of the people as another contributing factor to a public that may write off the whole political system. “It’s very difficult to maintain public confidence when you have tens of millions or hundreds of millions of dollars dark money coming in,” he says.
“It’s supposed to be we the people, not we the corporate interests.”

16 Facts About The Tremendous Financial Devastation That We Are Seeing All Over The World

Region: , ,
As we enter the second half of 2015, financial panic has gripped most of the globe.  Stock prices are crashing in China, in Europe and in the United States.  Greece is on the verge of a historic default, and now Puerto Rico and Ukraine are both threatening to default on their debts if they do not receive concessions from their creditors.  Not since the financial crisis of 2008 has so much financial chaos been unleashed all at once.  Could it be possible that the great financial crisis of 2015 has begun?  The following are 16 facts about the tremendous financial devastation that is happening all over the world right now…
1. On Monday, the Dow fell by 350 points.  That was the biggest one day decline that we have seen in two years.
2. In Europe, stocks got absolutely smashed.  Germany’s DAX index dropped 3.6 percent, and France’s CAC 40 was down 3.7 percent.
3. After Greece, Italy is considered to be the most financially troubled nation in the eurozone, and on Monday Italian stocks were down more than 5 percent.
4. Greek stocks were down an astounding 18 percent on Monday.
5. As the week began, we witnessed the largest one day increase in European bond spreads that we have seen in seven years.
6. Chinese stocks have already met the official definition of being in a “bear market” – the Shanghai Composite is already down more than 20 percent from the high earlier this year.
7. Overall, this Chinese stock market crash is the worst that we have witnessed in 19 years.
8. On Monday, Standard & Poor’s slashed Greece’s credit rating once again and publicly stated that it believes that Greece now has a 50 percent chance of leaving the euro.
9. On Tuesday, Greece is scheduled to make a 1.6 billion euro loan repayment.  One Greek official has already stated that this is not going to happen.
10. Greek banks have been totally shut down, and a daily cash withdrawal limit of60 euros has been established.  Nobody knows when this limit will be lifted.
11. Yields on 10 year Greek government bonds have shot past 15 percent.
12. U.S. investors are far more exposed to Greece than most people realize.  The New York Times explains…
But the question of what happens when the markets do open is particularly acute for the hedge fund investors — including luminaries like David Einhorn and John Paulson — who have collectively poured more than 10 billion euros, or $11 billion, into Greek government bonds, bank stocks and a slew of other investments.
Through the weekend, Nicholas L. Papapolitis, a corporate lawyer here, was working round the clock comforting and cajoling his frantic hedge fund clients.
“People are freaking out,” said Mr. Papapolitis, 32, his eyes red and his voice hoarse. “They have made some really big bets on Greece.”
13. The Governor of Puerto Rico has announced that the debts that the small island has accumulated are “not payable“.
14. Overall, the government of Puerto Rico owes approximately 72 billion dollars to the rest of the world.  Without debt restructuring, it is inevitable that Puerto Rico will default.  In fact, CNN says that it could happen by the end of this summer.
15. Ukraine has just announced that it may “suspend debt payments” if their creditors do not agree to take a 40 percent “haircut”.
16. This week the Bank for International Settlements has just come out with a new report that says that central banks around the world are “defenseless” to stop the next major global financial crisis.
Without a doubt, we are overdue for another major financial crisis.  All over the planet, stocks are massively overvalued, and financial markets have become completely disconnected from economic reality.  And when the next crash happens, many believe that it will be even worse than what we experienced back in 2008.  For example, just consider the words of Jim Rogers
“In the United States, we have had economic slowdowns every four to seven years since the beginning of the Republic. It’s now been six or seven years since our last stock market problem. We’re overdue for another problem.”
In Rogers’ view, low interest rates caused stock prices to increase significantly. He believes many assets are priced beyond their fundamentals thanks to the ultra-easy monetary policies by the Federal Reserve. Fed supporters argue such measures are good for investors, but Rogers takes a different view.
The Fed might tell us we don’t have to worry and that a correction or crash will never happen again. That’s balderdash! When this artificial sea of liquidity ends, we’re going to pay a terrible price. When the next economic problem occurs, it will be much worse because the debt is so much higher.”
Of course Rogers is far from alone.  A recent article by Paul B. Farrell expressed similar sentiments…
America’s 95 million investors are at huge risk. Remember the $10 trillion losses in the crash and recession of 2007-2009? The $8 trillion lost after the dot-com technology crash and recession of 2000-2003? This is the third big recession of the century. Yes, America will lose trillions again.
Especially with dead-ahead predictions like Mark Cook’s 4,000-point Dow correction. And Jeremy Grantham’s warning of a 50% crash around election time, with negative stock returns through the first term of the next president, beyond 2020. Starting soon.
Why is America so vulnerable when the next recession hits? Simple: The Fed’s cheap-money giveaway is killing America. When the downturn, correction, crash hits, it will compare to the 2008 crash. The Economist warns: “the world will be in a rotten position to do much about it. Rarely have so many large economies been so ill-equipped to manage a recession,” whatever the trigger.
Things have been relatively quiet in the financial world for so long that many have been sucked into a false sense of security.
But the underlying imbalances were always there, and they have been getting worse over time.
I believe that we are heading into a global financial collapse that will make what happened in 2008 look like a Sunday picnic by the time it is all said and done.
Global debt levels are at all-time highs, big banks all over the planet have been behaving more recklessly than ever, and financial markets are absolutely primed for a huge crash.
Hopefully things will calm down a bit as the rest of this week unfolds, but I wouldn’t count on it.
We have entered uncharted territory, and what comes next is going to shock the world.


So many of you sent me this article that it would be impossible to thank you all individually, but herewith a general "thank you". On the surface, it seems straight forward enough. The USA is opening a new space command center to counteract the growing "counter-space" capabilities of China and Russia:
Pentagon Rushing to Open Space-War Center To Counter China, Russia
Everything here is straight-forward and crystal clear, and entirely reasonable:
The ops center, to be opened within six months, will receive data from satellites belonging to all government agencies, Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work said Tuesday at the GEOINT symposium, an annual intelligence conference sponsored by the United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation.
“[W]e are going to develop the tactics, techniques, procedures, rules of the road that would allow us … to fight the architecture and protect it while it’s under attack,” Work said. “The ugly reality that we must now all face is that if an adversary were able to take space away from us, our ability to project decisive power across transoceanic distances and overmatch adversaries in theaters once we get there … would be critically weakened.”
And all of this is because the USA is worried about Russia and China:
The Pentagon and intelligence community are developing war plans and an operations center to fend off Chinese and Russian attacks on U.S. military and government satellites.
The problem here, however, is that we've all heard such stories before, and it seems a bit suspicious to be opening another such command center when NORAD (North American Air Defense) already covers so much of the activities being talked about in this article, including, it may be noted, the tracking of UFOs. And thus, I suspect we're not being told the complete story nor even the biggest part of it.
Recall that in last Thursday's News and Views from the Nefarium I pointed out that NASA is cooperating on projects studying the use of nuclear weapons to destroy, or "nudge", threatening asteroids. The "nudging" part intrigued me, for as one commenter on the News and Views rightly pointed out, a "nudge" may not necessarily mean a nudge away from the Earth but rather a nudge toward it, for the ultimate use of an asteroid as a kind of "mass driver" bombardment weapon. Such plans would call for a massive expansion of our detection capability, and as I noted in the News and Views, some are calling for a one hundred-fold increase  - two orders of magnitude - of that ability. Additionally, as I pointed out, this was urgently needed ("their" word, not mine).
This, I suspect, is the background for what may be taking place here, for a coordinating command center would be needed for "counter-counter space 'activities'", a bland and typical euphemism for space-based warfare, and so much the better if one can blame the whole need for such a system on Russia and China, who, the last time I looked, weren't planning to bombard America, Japan, or Europe, with asteroids, but which, in the form of Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev, did call for a planetary wide asteroid detection and defense system a month before the Chelyabinsk meteor incident provided a "coincidental" underscoring for his remarks. And, just to round out his remarks, recall that he also indicated that blasting them apart with hydrogen bombs (and Russia, let it be remembered, knows how to build some very big ones) or "other means" was a possibility. Notably, those "other means" were left undefined, but in the context of remarks by Russian premiers talking about hydrogen bombs  - think "Tsar Bomba" here folks - the "other means" takes on a rather ominous overtone.
Increasing our capability to detect and defend space assets by two orders of magnitude - especially in the light of already existing command structures handling space matters - simply to defend against Russia and China seems ... well... a bit over the top. In the context of the last few weeks' incredible focus on the mysterious Ceres lights, and of Russia's calls for an Apollo investigation, the announcement seems to indicate the potential for a rather different kind of potential threat.
In that high octane speculative context, Russia and China are just the cover story.

Is US-Russian Spy Intrigue Behind Boston Bombing?

The strange ability of Tamerlan Tsarnaev to slip through airports without delay in both New York and Moscow—despite being on security watch-lists—raises questions about both American and Russian security agencies. Photo credit: Workstation: U.S.F.D.A. / Flickr
The strange ability of Tamerlan Tsarnaev to slip through airports without delay in both New York and Moscow—despite being on security watch-lists—raises questions about both American and Russian security agencies. Photo credit: Workstation: U.S.F.D.A. / Flickr
In the penalty phase of the Boston Marathon bombing trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the shadow of his dead elder brother Tamerlan looms large.
The defense team’s effort to avoid the death penalty hinges on the claim that Tamerlan was the lead player in the plot and heavily influenced his impressionable younger brother. We will soon learn if this strategy succeeds in saving Dzhokhar’s life—at the price of incarceration without chance of parole at the federal supermax prison in Florence, Colorado, known as the “Alcatraz of the Rockies.”
But one thing that the trial will not do is open a window onto the whole back story of the bombing itself, the motivations of the perpetrators, and the many signs that there may be more to it. WhoWhatWhy has provided more investigative coverage of this story than any news organization in the United States, or the world. That’s because we see the singularity of the event, the tremendous resources brought to bear on it, and the clampdown on various rights and liberties, including the government’s first-time ability to make Americans stay in their houses until told they may leave.
Nowhere do we see more of a hint of something amiss than in the US national security apparatus’ seeming lack of interest in the international travels of Tamerlan Tsarnaev before the Boston Marathon bombing—even after the authorities were explicitly warned to watch him as a threat.
Equally confounding is that Russia seems to have taken the same “hands off” approach to Tamerlan’s travels there, despite stated worries about his being a “radical Islamist.”
In truth, this “failure to look” may have been no accident. It is a common practice for intelligence services worldwide to allow those who are either would-be troublemakers or pretend troublemakers to circulate with relative freedom in order to snare bigger fish—or as dangles to opposing spy agencies. The upside—confusing or compromising your opponents—is obvious. The downside is less so, but no less significant, and tragedy can result when the maneuvering goes wrong.
Ignored or Waived Through?
US authorities didn’t bother to question Tamerlan Tsarnaev at JFK international Airport when he flew to Dagestan in 2012, despite watch-listing him as potentially “armed and dangerous.” The same thing happened when he flew back six months later.
Recall that Tsarnaev was watch-listed as a result of Russia’s March, 2011 “warning” to the FBI and the CIA that he was exhibiting a growing extremism and concocting plans to travel to the North Caucasus to join the Jihad there against Russia.
The FBI claims to have “investigated” Tsarnaev upon receiving the warning, but ultimately concluded he was not a threat to the United States, and officially closed the investigation on June 24, 2011. The “investigation” itself was laughably superficial, and largely consisted of directly confronting Tsarnaev and asking him if he was up to no good. Unsurprisingly, neither he nor his neighbors or friends reported any kind of forthcoming plot.
However, Tsarnaev was placed on at least two watch lists as a result of the Russian warnings. Why Tsarnaev was watch-listed in light of an investigation that supposedly turned up nothing is unclear. What is clear is that the language in the listing warns of a dangerous individual who must be detained.
It warns that Tamerlan might be armed and dangerous, and notes that his detention and secondary screening are “mandatory.” It also says to “immediately call the lookout duty officer at NTC [Customs and Border Protection National Targeting Center]” and that the “call is mandatory whether or not the officer believes there is an exact match.”
Either the FBI was criminally incompetent, or this easy treatment and dismissal of the high-level Russian warning was deliberate.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev? Who’s That?
The apparent neglect of Tamerlan Tsarnaev continued.
The intrigue thickens when one considers that it was not just the US that took a hands-off approach to Tamerlan’s travels, but Russia as well.
Tamerlan arrived, via Moscow, in Dagestan in late January, 2012. But why would they let him? The 2011 “warnings” issued to the FBI by Russia’s Federal Security Service (known in English by the acronym FSB) were centered specifically on Tamerlan’s traveling to Russia. Why not just refuse him entry and put him on the next plane back to New York?
Russian officials originally feigned ignorance about the fact that Tamerlan had even traveled to Dagestan. Yet, we later found out he was, in fact, stopped by local authorities and brought in for questioning. It also became known he was being filmed by anti-terrorism operatives, who at one point, “scrambled to locate him when he disappeared from sight,” indicating they were following him closely.
And two days before Tamerlan left Dagestan for the United States by way of Moscow, they “lost track of him”—meaning he didn’t get any extra attention at the airport.
How do we explain the disconnect between the warnings and watch-listing of Tsarnaev with the bewildering failures to stop him at airports in both the US and Russia?
Tamerlan the Grim Reaper
Did Russian security forces purposefully allow Tamerlan Tsarnaev to travel without impediment?
Did Russian security forces intentionally allow Tamerlan Tsarnaev to travel without impediment?
One intriguing possibility is that Russian officials allowed him into Dagestan to “smoke out” Jihadis operating in and around the area.
At least two insurgents that Tsarnaev was said to have contacts with ended up dead at the hands of Russian anti-terrorism forces—while Tamerlan was still in that country.
One of them was Mahmoud Mansur Nidal. An official from the Russian anti-extremism unit told the newspaper Novaya Gazeta that Tsarnaev had been spotted repeatedly with the suspected militant, Nidal, who was killed not long after in a counter-terrorism raid, as reported by the New York Times.
The other insurgent was William Plotnikov. An ex-boxer like Tamerlan, Plotnikov was born in Russia, but raised in Canada, and was also said to have heard the call of Jihad in the North Caucasus. Both men were in Dagestan at the same time and there are unconfirmed reports from Gazeta and others that the two had been in contact.
For American investigators, the date of Plotnikov’s death, July 14, 2012, has reportedly been of particular interest. Just a few days after Plotnikov was killed in Dagestan, Tsarnaev left the region and went back to the US in an apparent hurry. He did not even wait to pick up his new Russian passport, which, according to his father, was the reason he went to Russia in the first place. According to this logic, Tsarnaev was somehow spooked by the death of Plotnikov.
Were Russian officials trying to send a message to Tsarnaev—someone they may have suspected of being a foreign agent? After all, Russian officials were aware he’d been in contact with the FBI in the year before he traveled to Russia.
Or was Tsarnaev somehow leading Russian authorities to these insurgents, either wittingly or unwittingly?
It was also at this point that Russian authorities who were surveilling Tamerlan claimed to have “lost track” of him as he returned to the US. Did they really “lose” him? Or did they let him go?
According to US officials, Tsarnaev purchased his ticket back to the United States on June 22, 2012, three weeks before the killing of Plotnikov. Even if he changed the departure date of the ticket in haste, it’s hard to believe airline tickets purchased by individuals in the violence-plagued North Caucasus region would not receive intense scrutiny by the FSB. Yet, just as he did at JFK International, he got through Moscow without being stopped.
Watch and Learn
We are routinely reminded that the sole purpose of our ever-expanding national security apparatus is to keep us average citizens safe from bodily harm. But is that really the case? Or are our security agencies gambling with our safety by allowing violent individuals in and out of the country for some larger espionage or geopolitical game between spy agencies?
Despite the rhetoric, low-level terrorists like Tsarnaev are not, in fact, considered a strategic threat to the US by intelligence agencies. They do, however, cause a lot of misery for the unfortunates who turn out to be their victims.
It’s standard practice for opposing spy agencies to provoke one another in an effort to learn something from the other’s reaction. If something goes horribly wrong, the result is typically to increase the security apparatus’s budgets and power. In other words, there is no downside to the responsible agencies—only up, up and away.
It is worth noting that exactly a half century before the Marathon bombings, another man traveled easily between the US and Russia, with the security services of both countries inexplicably tolerant of his movements. His name was Lee Harvey Oswald. Whatever one is to make of Oswald, the net effect of the terror activity associated with him in no way slowed the growth of the national security agencies responsible, nor was anyone ever really held accountable.
Despite these gargantuan screw-ups or, more generously, misjudgments, one might think there would be a subsequent reining in of the national security apparatus—maybe even a few high-level firings. But instead, these tragic events perversely end up benefiting the agencies responsible. Public fear and outrage leads to calls to increase budgets and to double down on covert activities, only further eroding civil liberties and therefore democracy itself.
Alas, it appears to work the same the world over.
Photo credits for panorama: Boston Logan Airport Metro: Troy / Flickr, Airline Cabin: Simon Grubb / Flickr, Moscow Airport: Alex LA / Flickr, Mosque. Makhachkala, Dagestan: Gadzhi Kharkharov / Flickr, Agent 1: The White House / Flickr, Agent 2: The White House / Flickr, Camera: Matt Buck / Flickr, Agent 3: US Army Africa / Flickr

Monday, June 29, 2015

Dark Fiber and the Future of the Internet

Dark Fiber and the Future of the Internet
A mere cursory glimpse into the future foretells of a world in which the Internet has been integrated into almost every facet of our lives. However, the flood of smartphones, laptops, and “Internet of Things”-enabled devices in recent years has led it to expand at a rate far beyond the expectations of its original creators. With today’s generation of technology pushing the limits of current fiber optic capacity, in the next decade, radical new solutions to the “capacity crunch” are crucial to the sustained success of the web.
The domain of all things digital is evolving quickly, and tomorrow’s Internet promises to be in places it never was before: inside our appliances, in far-flung villages, even in space. While some of these needs are practical (“smart” healthcare devices, learning thermostats, rural WiFi) others are purely for amusement (Netflix, the introduction of Oculus Rift). All in all, coming changes to the constantly-expanding role of the net stand to make our world a much different place than it was just several years ago.
As much of the world races to improve Internet connection speeds, researchers are concerned that the fiber optic cables which form the physical backbone of the global Internet are reaching their peak capacity and may run out of bandwidth in as soon as five to eight years. According to UK scientists, the cables and fiber optics that deliver data to users will have reached their limit by 2023. No longer able to transmit information, this may trigger an Internet collapse of epic proportions. This is a massive problem, of course, especially taking into account the fact that much of the developing world still needs to be brought online, even as Western superpowers continue to demand greater bandwidth and faster Internet speeds.
This issue has made it to the mainstream, as doomsday predictions from scientists, physicists and engineers warning of a “full” Internet summoned the attention of all who depend on the web (for cat videos, or other perhaps more worthwhile pursuits). Until now, Internet providers have kept up with increased demand simply by sending more and more data down a single line of optic fiber. But now, the optical fibers have reached maximum capacity, and cannot transfer any additional information. Some of the world’s largest providers of fiber optic connections, such as VerizonFiOS, Google, and Microsoft, have recently worked to improve their networking infrastructure to keep up with our insatiable desire for faster, stronger Internet. However, this does not change the fact that computer-to-computer interactions are growing at an exponentially faster rate than anyone had predicted.
earth-fiber-optic-networksAs reported by the media, there are several Internet initiatives afoot which may serve to mitigate this issue completely. Some of the biggest names in technology today have a stake in the race to develop better and faster forms of Internet delivery, implementing some wild schemes in an attempt to move beyond broadband. From Google’s Loons to Elon Musk’s lofty plan for individual Internet satellites, some plans are perhaps less “grounded” in reality than others. However, the key to fighting capacity crunch might already be beneath our feet.
“Dark fiber” is a term used to refer to networks of unlit optical cable infrastructure, laid down and left unused during the dotcom era. In the city of San Francisco alone, over 110 miles of fiber optic cable run underground. Only a fraction of that fiber network is currently being put to use. Right now, networks of dark-fiber primarily serve corporate entities, in high-density urban centers. But experts say that putting them to use residential communities wouldn’t be tough.
Robert Steele, former intelligence officer with the CIA, has proposed another idea to solve this problem: open source everything. As the growth of online media consumption – through streaming sites such as Netflix and Youtube – promises to further skyrocket in years ahead, his solution may make the most sense.
Steele spoke on the matter, saying:
“Sharing, not secrecy, is the means by which we realise such a lofty destiny as well as create infinite wealth. The wealth of networks, the wealth of knowledge, revolutionary wealth – all can create a nonzero win-win Earth that works for one hundred percent of humanity. This is the ‘utopia’ that Buckminster Fuller foresaw, now within our reach.”
Does reaching the end of the current optical fiber limit mean an Internet apocalypse will occur within our lifetimes? Personally, I’m optimistic that engineers will soon ameliorate the problem and clean up the mess – hopefully before I have to cancel my Netflix subscription.
The Pope
“Yet it must also be recognized that nuclear energy, biotechnology, information technology; knowledge of our DNA, and many other abilities, which we have acquired, have…given those with the knowledge, and especially the economic resources to use them, an impressive dominance over the whole of humanity and the entire world….In whose hands does all this power lie, or will it eventually end up? It is risky for a small part of humanity to have it.” (p.77)
~ Pope Francis

By Catherine Austin Fitts
A Papal Encyclical is a letter concerning Catholic doctrine which is circulated by the Pope. This week, Pope Francis published a new Encyclical: Laudato Si’ of the Holy Father Francis – Care for Our Common Home.
The 180+ page document sounds the alarm regarding the global degradation of living things: people, animals and our environment.
If this document had been authored by a professor of theology, there would be much room for common ground. However, it has been written by the leader of an institution which has been the single most powerful in the Western world for the last 500 years – a period during which the central banking-warfare model has been busy harvesting our common whole.
There is a profound disassociation from the nuts-and-bolts of what the Catholic Church (and its networks and investment syndicates) have been doing and the sources of their wealth. This Encyclical is, if you will, a concept piece independent of the financial and political realities of the Vatican, the Catholic Church and its allies.
Assuming that Pope Francis first and foremost addressed the Encyclical to bishops, patriarchs, primates, archbishops as well as to the general population, I would like to propose several steps which the Pope, the Vatican and the leadership of the Catholic Church (collectively, the “Church”) might take to integrate some of the best ideas in this document into the power lines controlled and influenced by the Church.

  1. Disclosure
The world is struggling with propaganda, disinformation, and significant suppression of the truth.  The new Pope’s efforts to provide digital access to works in the Vatican Library on a selective basis are a good start. In the meantime, there is a great deal of knowledge which the Church, its libraries and networks can share:

  • The Church can accelerate access to both the Vatican Library and Archives.
  • The Church can publish all its information regarding global “black budgets.” This would include any information related to invisible weaponry and technology driving the real governance systems operating on Planet Earth.
  • In the context of understanding what is happening to our environment, the Church can publish all its information on global geo-engineering and weather control programs as part of an open discussion to ensure that the global population and scientific community has accurate data on what is happening to our climate.
  • The Church can provide open access to its financial information and persuade its affiliates, endowments and churches to do the same, including detailed disclosure on a place-based basis.
  • The Church can encourage global governments to publish their budgets and credit information on a place-based basis. Place-based financial disclosure will permit the alignment of financial ecosystems with environmental ecosystems – a critical step to ensuring a healthy environment. This will create incentive systems which reward the health and well-being of all living things.
  • The Church can disclose all information on its direct and indirect involvement in any illegal activities, including vote rigging, narcotics trafficking, and money laundering.
  • The Church can use its shareholdings and ownership positions in media companies to insist on integrity in public information.
  • The Church can use its shareholdings in pharmaceutical and food companies to insist on integrity and independence of scientific research.
  • The Church can provide a safe haven for scientists, journalists and other professionals who are targeted for upholding high standards of integrity in science and information.

  1. Individual Freedom
Slavery contributes significantly to the degradation of people throughout our planet.

  • The Church can withdraw from supporting governments, corporations or any other organizations that support any form of slavery.
  • The Church can destroy the “control files” of prominent businessmen and politicians created through the use of its networks.
  • The Church can complete restoration efforts related to its pedophilia activities and publish complete figures on how much the Church has spent on all restoration efforts.
  • The Church can use its shareholdings and ownership positions in government and corporate securities to insist on a withdrawal of corporate and government support for mind control, torture and slavery and the compromise of individual privacy and sovereignty.

  1. Organized Crime & Lawlessness
The primary source of environmental damage does not result from market economics – quite the opposite. It results from the lethal combination of organized crime operating powerful and invisible weaponry coupled with invasive digital systems and sophisticated financial tools on scale. In short, those with the ability to kill, to destroy and to steal with impunity combine such force with fiat currencies, unsustainable debt, resource extraction, financial fraud, war and genocide in order to centralize wealth and power in a manner which shrinks total wealth.
Lawlessness on a global scale must be dealt with before it destroys our planet.

  • The Church can divest its holdings in governments and corporations which engage in these practices. It should encourage its affiliates and members to do the same.
  • The Church can also disassociate from foundations and not-for-profits that engage in these practices or that launder profits for those who do.
  • The Church can make clear that the ten commandments apply not just to what we do, but to whom and what we finance.
  • The Church can stop any and all participation by itself and its networks in narcotics trafficking and disgorge the profits of the same to the people harmed.

  1. Debt & Fiat Currency
No less than The Economist has rightly pointed out that we are chocking on debt, in part because we provide enormous tax subsidies which encourage debt (see The Great Distortion). Debt throws people out of alignment with one another and with the environment around them. Ditto fiat currency which is used in a manner to debase global populations and economies.
We must shift to an equity-based financial system which facilitates the free flow of equity unencumbered by the intervention and control of organized crime. An equity-based system – which includes the financing of small businesses, small farms and local economies with equity – will permit us to evolve a financial system in which we can generate wealth from healing our environment and reducing consumption.

  • The Church can encourage these changes by shifting the significant funds it manages as well as those managed by its networks.
  • The Church can encourage governments to reduce laws and regulations that prevent the local circulation of equity or that prevent the creation and success of local currency systems.

  1. Sovereignty is Sacred
A global culture is one which respects the sovereignty of every individual. We respect human rights. We respect property rights. We respect privacy. We respect the right of each human being to make up their own mind.

  • The Church can withdraw its investments from all governments and corporations (including media) which compromise people’s privacy or which manipulate them via mind control techniques, entrainment technology, subliminal programming or electronics.
  • The Church can actively encourage its priests and networks to bring transparency to mind control techniques or any efforts to mislead people globally.
  • The Church can offer sanctuary to scientists, government personnel or journalists who bring transparency to these efforts.

  1. Capitalism: Let’s Try It
Before we dismiss capitalism, we should try it.
Organized crime is not capitalism. It is the application of force to control and to get one’s way. Market economics can solve many of the problems before us – but we have to unleash markets to work rather than prevent them from operating and then blaming the subsequent “mess” on them.

  • The Church can call for all monies stolen by illegal means in the last two decades to be returned, including trillions which have disappeared from the US government or which have been accrued as a result of financial frauds prior to the bailouts.
  • The Church can refrain from blaming our current situation on the people who have been harmed by these thefts or from insisting that the subsequent economic damage is a result of the victims’ poor values or “consumerism.”
  • The Church can withdraw its investment from financial institutions, governments and corporations that:
    • Engage in market rigging and intervention.
    • Provide unlawful or unethical support to cartels and monopolies.
    • Engage in the purposeful suppression of technologies which would ease the harm we are doing to the environment.
The Church and its affiliates and members manage trillions in real estate and financial assets. As one of the most significant capitalist organizations/investment networks on our planet, it can institute policies to ensure that it does not invest in companies or governments which behave in the manner described in the latest Encyclical and that its real estate is not used to support such activities.
During Vatican II, the Church forced the sale of significant real estate holdings which were serving communities. The proceeds from these sales were reinvested in corporate securities. The Church can ensure that the Orders for whom these funds are managed have access to full transparency about these investments and are permitted to institute policies which ensure that these investments are managed in accordance with the goals of this Encyclical.

  1. War
Published global military expenditures were $1.7 trillion in 2013. Add secret black budget expenditures and the total was likely much more. These funds – combined with savings from destructive behavior such as gambling, narcotics and alcohol – could be shifted into investment in healing our environment, our education systems, our health care systems and revitalizing global infrastructure.

  • The Church can bring transparency to all worldwide resources which are related to killing. It can invite its members to pray that these resources be shifted to investments which increase productivity rather than enable a small group of people to own and control the planet.

  1. Invite Feedback
Both the Church and our planet are dynamic living systems. Moving to a healthy global culture and aligning our financial ecosystems with our environmental ecosystems is a journey.

  • The Church can encourage its entire network to adopt these goals in their lives so that achieving them is a partnership of the many for the benefit of all.
  • The Church can publish an annual report on its efforts to take responsibility and to achieve these goals internally in its own operations, asset managements and investments and to invite feedback from all of its constituents to help it do so.
9. Wise as a Serpent
There is often a risk that any important policy will be misunderstood or misused by those who are centralizing control and power. The G-7 nations have experienced a financial coup d’etat.  A great deal of money and assets have been shifted out of sovereign governments into private hands – either illegally or under the guise of trillions in bailouts and quantitative easing – while liabilities have been shifted back into governments.
Now that these transfers are complete, it would be convenient to blame the victims and to abrogate their pensions and other savings plans and promises. It would be unfortunate if this Encyclical were used to justify the value of doing so in the name of “reducing consumerism” or to politically outmaneuver the victims by accusing them of being “selfish.”
Economies function on trust and such trust must come from honoring our agreements. As Pope Francis understands, it is easy to blame the victim and to take from the powerless.
Utah Phillips once said, “The Planet is not dying, it is being killed. And the people doing the killing have names and addresses.”
We commend the Pope for calling out for a cessation of the debasement of all living things. Let us hope that his latest Encyclical starts ringing doorbells – beginning with the opportunity to do so in the Church and in the Church’s asset and investment portfolios.

Related Reading:

The Merging of Government and Wall Street Into One Criminal Entity: The Rising Tide of State Fascism in the US and Canada

Originally published by GR in May 2014
In the dozen plus years since 9/11, the US government has rapidly moved from democracy to fascism. When government acts on behalf of a corporate oligarchy as declared by the Princeton-Northwestern study last month, state fascism is the result. And First Amendment rights in America have been obliterated in this morphing process. 

Obama has declared war on whistleblowers, those individuals who recognize corporate or governmental wrongdoing and are ethical and courageous enough to tell the truth in order to try and stop it. Nobel Peace Prize nominee Chelsea Manning as Private Bradley Manning witnessed US military occupiers committing heinous war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan and went public with it on Wikileaks and last year was sentenced to 37 years in prison. Last June Edward Snowden revealed the massive violation and invasion of our privacy rights perpetrated by invisible NSA occupiers in our homes and he was promptly charged with violating the espionage act and forced as a fugitive to live his life in exiled peril.
News journalists daring to accurately show the Obama administration in an unfavorable light are customarily harassed and threatened with litigation. In reality those who are standing up to evil are public heroes yet the government is bent on destroying their lives. The bold young journalist Michael Hastings who wrote unflattering Rolling Stone articles on powerful Generals McChrystal and Petraeus and was gathering evidence of wrongdoing by the FBI, CIA and NSA was more than likely assassinated by remote hacking of his crashed vehicle last June. Clearly just in this last year alone, the US government’s war against truth has been stepped up in sinister reckless abandon.
Under this growing tyranny and oppression comes the loss of American liberty and freedom. Citizens’ right to peacefully assemble and make their views known in public protest have been under systematic and insidious attack by those in power in both Canada and the United States. The Occupy Wall Street movement protesting the mounting inequality and injustice between the 1% haves and the 99% have not’s who were further burdened with bailing out the unscrupulous and corrupt corporate criminals of Wall Street was brutally squashed with police clubs and tear gas. The orders in cities across the nation to brutally suppress the movement from spreading and growing any larger were clearly orchestrated and issued from Washington DC. Obama and corporate America had had enough of the mounting civil unrest and so the militarized police state moved into violent, unlawful action beating, abusing and arresting thousands of peaceful activists attempting to legally express both their rights as well as their increasing disgust with corporatized America.
As if government betrayal, hostility and harassment were not enough travesty of justice, Obama went for overkill ordering his justice department to aggressively pursue hundreds of federal lawsuits filed against protesters for assault and resisting arrest while in actuality they were merely reacting to the police aggressors brutally attacking them.
Of the 2,644 people arrested during the Occupy Wall Street protests in New York City, Cecily McMillan may be the only demonstrator tried in a court of law and found guilty of felony assault two weeks ago for elbowing a police officer on March 17, 2012. From Rikers Island Prison where she has since been awaiting her sentence, she stated last week, “My lawyer has told me to expect two years.” Today Judge Ronald Zweibel that told the courtroom that “she must take responsibility for her conduct,” announcing that the 25-year old graduate student is sentenced to three months prison time, plus community service and five years probation. Cecily had maintained throughout her ordeal that the policeman grabbed her breast from behind and in a knee jerk reflex, she inadvertently elbowed the officer in the eye.
Though McMillan could have been sentenced to seven years imprisonment, the judge was barraged by media pressure that included a recent visit and show of support from two members of popular Russian girls rock band Pussy Riot that gained worldwide attention serving several months in prison for protesting against Putin’s Russia. An online petition was circulated and submitted as well. But perhaps the letter written by nine of twelve jurors asking that the judge not send Cecily to prison was taken most into consideration.
After the nine jurors found Cecily McMillan guilty of assaulting a police officer over two years ago based primarily on their viewing a grainy youtube video, they felt so remorseful over their verdict and McMillan’s potentially going to prison for seven year that they wrote the judge strongly recommending that Ms. McMillan be placed only on probation. Actual evidence proving Cecily had suffered injury due to police assaulting her was never even permitted inside the courtroom.
The injustice in this case was hardly some isolated fluke. Many firmly believe it is simply a grossly unjust, over-the-top policy and strategy implemented by the Obama regime to set a high profile example demonstrating to the rest of America what happens to citizens brave and principled enough to risk assembling in peaceful protest to assert their no longer recognized rights in police state America. This apparent reality is what our nation has degenerated into under Obama in the face of his and Bush’s systematic assault on all of all US constitutional liberties.
The exact same aggressive federal tactics are recently being utilized for the first time to criminalize protests by environmentalists, charging demonstrators with acts of domestic terrorism. Five months ago in Oklahoma City two college students placed a banner objecting to the local company Devon Energy’s participation in the Keystone XL pipeline project inside its Devon Towers building. In an attempt to raise awareness of the severe detrimental effects to human health that fracking causes on the environment, the two protestors were jailed and charged with a terrorism hoax, an apparent state law felony subject to ten years imprisonment.
Activists Stefan Warner and Moriah Stephenson had used black glitter on their unfurled banner and apparently some of it was falling from their banner draped from the second floor. Falling glitter then became the basis by which the dispatched police accused them of unleashing a toxin used in their “biochemical assault.” Twisted irony would have the polluter-for-profit oil company that has no qualms about poisoning the environment and killing humans conveniently using trumped up, grossly exaggerated false charges that two harmless young protestors acting in the public’s best interest would be using toxins to potentially poison the oil company polluters.
The arrested protesters’ attorney, Doug Parr, who has been practicing law since the 1970’s, stated that he saw this kind of reactionary oppression coming. In his words:
“Based upon the historical work I’ve been involved in, I know that when popular movements that confront the power structure start gaining traction, the government ups the tactics they employ in order to disrupt and take down those movements…” not unlike the Occupy Wall Street movement earlier.
The two activists were working in conjunction with two other protesters also arrested at the site who are members of the Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance organization. Its website states: “These industries poison countless communities, often deceive and coerce folks into signing contracts, and when that doesn’t work, they use eminent domain to steal the land. Texas and Oklahoma have long been considered sacrifice zones for the oil and gas industry, and people have for the most part learned to roll over and accept the sicknesses and health issues that come with the temporary and unsustainable boost in employment.”
Last year the environmental group Bold Nebraska obtained documents through the Freedom of Information Act indicating that the huge and powerful tar sands giant TransCanada methodically trained the FBI, numerous US police forces and prosecutors on how to effectively charge environmentalist protesters with terrorism.
Lauren Regan, executive director of the Civil Liberties Defense Center and legal coordinator for the environmental group the Tar Sands Blockade, explained:

“These documents expose the truth that the government is giving the nod to unlawful corporate spying. By slinging false allegations against peaceful activists in this presentation, TransCanada puts them at risk of unwarranted prosecution.”
This overwhelming evidence proves collusion between the privately owned foreign Canadian corporation and US law enforcement, pushing their agenda to ruin innocent American lives merely standing up against malevolent forces bent on destroying the planet by peacefully exercising their First Amendment rights. Once again the real criminals acting as corporatized fascists are systematically demonizing civic-minded individuals and groups acting for the greater good of humanity by declaring war on their dissent and peaceful protest.
Clearly the real environmental terrorists are the North American coal, oil and gas polluters that have been systematically poisoning and killing off life on earth for over a century. But when the governments and corporations merge to become one and the same entity as they clearly have in both Canada and America, it is the agents operating on behalf of corporate governments who are the fascist criminals turning on their own decent law abiding citizens in order to eliminate them and all opposition and resistance to their global theft and destruction.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

How Chris Christie Used A Manufactured Terrorist Plot To Boost His Political Career     ~ dummycocks,republipupes & STILL you's (that's u voters) just keep falling fer the same shit over & over& fucking OVER ? & mean while the rest of U.S. have 2 go down the same shitter hole wit ya's ...2 fucking stupid 2 C their "playbook" , 4 how long now ! allll don't worry just "vote" in an republipube ...this "time" it will "work" Hummm    yea   ....fucking dummycocks & republipubes   ... hey "vote"fer me i'll take yer "vote" & $$$  ...& i'll tell right fucking up front .....i will/can pisssss it away fer ya :0  Oops I    I  I um mean god bless amerika   ....who's gonna pay 4 my 22 kids from 17 different woman  .........Huh!!!!!!!!!!!

from the own-plots dept

For a few years now, we've been covering the proliferation of the FBI's own plots, in which they basically set up a fake terrorist plot, and use their own undercover agents or (preferably) informants (generally former criminals who get paid and/or favors such as reduced sentences) to go out seeking young and gullible individuals to convince to "join" the plot (a plot that has no connection to reality). Then they stage a big arrest and an even bigger press conference about how they "stopped" a terrorist threat. We've written about examples of this over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again. Apparently, a huge chunk of the FBI's resources goes toward manufacturing these kinds of fake plots, which help generate scary headlines, but rarely seem to do much other than putting young, gullible folks in jail.

The Intercept has now published a story of one of these cases that is so extreme and so ridiculous that it should make you angry. It is the story of the "Fort Dix Five" -- a case that Chris Christie led the prosecution of while he was a US Attorney before becoming governor. This case was part of his fame and his "tough on terror" bona fides. Now, as Christie prepares his presidential campaign announcement, the case against the Fort Dix Five is a big part of his biography:

In a 2012 speech to the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Christie recalled his success in the “uncovering of a plot to kill American servicemen and women,” telling a packed audience at the New York Hilton Hotel that he helped send to prison a group of “Muslim men practicing with semi-automatic weapons and screaming about jihad against the infidels.” Today, both the Republican Governors Association and the New Jersey Republican Party list the Fort Dix case as “one of Christie’s finest moments” under his biography.
Except, as the Intercept writeup details, despite putting three brothers away for life, there was no evidence against them. There was one friend of theirs, who liked to make up stories and brag a lot, who talked about an idea to shoot people at Fort Dix, but no indication at all that the other participants (mainly the three Duka brothers) knew about this plot at all. And then the fifth member of the "Fort Dix Five", upon hearing about the "plot", immediately went to the police to tell them about it. The Intercept has also published a short film about the Duka brothers (narrated by their younger brother) that is worth watching: https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20150625/17081531464/how-chris-christie-used-manufactured-terrorist-plot-to-boost-his-political-career.shtml
The video shows clips of the footage the FBI got on the brothers, none of which ever has them discussing a plot against Fort Dix -- and actually tends to just show them messing around or even pushing back while the two FBI informants pushed them to get more involved in plots, which the brothers mostly ignored. Even the story of how the brothers came to the attention of the FBI is somewhat ridiculous. After a ski vacation in the Poconos, in which the brothers also did some horseback riding and went to a shooting range, they tried to make a DVD of some of the video they shot to give to everyone who went on the trip as a memento. In the video, while at the shooting range, some of the brothers say "allahu akbar" leading the guy making the DVDs at Circuit City to alert the feds.

Despite the two FBI informants pushing to try to get the brothers engaged in a plot for a year -- mainly by pressuring the one show off guy who kept saying he had talked to them about it -- there is no evidence of any actual plot whatsoever. One of the informants and the one show off guy both admit that the brothers had no role in the plot. Eventually, the FBI set up a fake gun buy -- as the brothers were fans of guns, but as non-US citizens couldn't buy guns legally. It's pretty clear in going through with the plan to buy some guns, they broke the law, but it had nothing to do with a terrorist plot at all, and so the charges left them baffled. But in the end it didn't matter:

Delivering Shain’s sentence, the culmination of a terrorism case that had lasted over two years, Judge Kugler said, “It’s not my place or desire at this time to review all the evidence … Suffice to say this defendant was in the middle of this plot. I’m realistic, I remember that they weren’t being taped 24 hours a day seven days a week.”

Brushing off the lack of direct evidence, Kugler added: “That there isn’t more explicit evidence does not concern me and obviously didn’t concern the jury either … I cannot deter this defendant, because of his belief system, from further crimes.”
Equally as disturbing is the way they included the fifth member of the "Fort Dix Five," Serdar Tatar, a friend of the Dukas who the braggart guy, Mohamad Shnewer, dragged into the "plot" to prove to the FBI informant that he could pull together people to pull off an attack. Except Tatar -- who wanted to become a police officer -- went to the police instead. And still got included in the charges.
Omar apparently felt more comfortable approaching Tatar than the Duka brothers and began courting the 23-year-old. He told him of the plot to attack Fort Dix and openly asked for his help: he needed the pizza delivery map.

Tatar, who had since left his father’s pizza shop and moved to Philadelphia, was working at a 7-Eleven when Sgt. Dean Dandridge of the Philadelphia Police Department came by for his daily coffee. On November 15, 2006, Tatar told Dandridge that he believed Omar might be planning a terrorist attack. Neither Tatar, nor Dandridge, had any way of knowing that Omar was an informant.

Dandridge left Tatar’s information with the FBI, expecting the bureau’s agents would be in touch soon. For three weeks, Tatar waited for the FBI to contact him. In the meantime, he recorded at least one conversation with Omar, so that when the authorities did reach out, he would have information to give them.
The full story and the video are infuriating. Yes, the FBI should be looking out for people looking to perform acts of terrorism and such, but in case after case after case we don't see them doing that. We see them setting up elaborate theater productions. In many of those cases, after lots of pressure, at the very least, the gullible and troubled individuals make some sort of statement to agree to participate in the "plot." This case -- as high profile as it is -- is even more exceptional in that 4 of the 5 participants never agreed to take part in any plot at all, with three of them not even knowing there was a plot.

The story is a complete travesty and raises serious questions about what the FBI and Chris Christie were doing, other than padding their resumes.