Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart
* THE WAR IN THE SHADOWS
By Chris Hedges
[…] Since the attacks of 9/11 the U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM)—which includes the Green Berets, the Army Rangers and the Navy SEALs—has seen its budget quadrupled. There are now some 60,000 USSOCOM operatives, whom the president can dispatch to kill without seeking congressional approval or informing the public. Add to this the growth of intelligence operatives. As Dana Priest and William M. Arkin reported in The Washington Post, “Twenty-four [new intelligence] organizations were created by the end of 2001, including the Office of Homeland Security and the Foreign Terrorist Asset Tracking Task Force. In 2002, 37 more were created to track weapons of mass destruction, collect threat tips, and coordinate the new focus on counterterrorism. That was followed the next year by 36 new organizations; and 26 after that; and 31 more; and 32 more; and 20 or more each in 2007, 2008, and 2009. In all, at least 263 organizations have been created or reorganized as a response to 9/11.”
There are now many thousands of clandestine operatives, nearly all of them armed and equipped with a license to kidnap, torture and kill, working overseas or domestically with little or no oversight and virtually no transparency. We have created a state within a state. A staggering 40 percent of the defense budget is secret, as is the budget of every intelligence agency. I tasted enough of this subterranean world to fear it. When you empower these kinds of people you snuff out the rule of law. You empower criminals and assassins. One of these old CIA operatives, Felix Rodríguez, was in El Salvador when I was there during the war in the early 1980s. He wore Che Guevara’s Rolex watch. He had removed it from Guevara’s body after ordering Guevara to be executed in the Bolivian jungle. I would later run into clandestine operatives in the Middle East, Africa or Yugoslavia I knew from the wars in Central America. We would invariably chat briefly in Spanish. It was a strange fraternity, even if I was the outsider. The Great Game.
These black forces have created as much havoc, or blowback, in the Middle East as they did in Latin America. And by the time they are done there will be so many jihadists willing to blow themselves up to vanquish America, the Islamic radicals will be running out of explosives. These clandestine operatives peddle a self-fulfilling prophecy. They foment the very instability that allows them to continue to proliferate like cockroaches. The dozens of CIA kidnappings—“extraordinary renditions”—of radical Islamists in the late 1990s, especially from the Balkans, many shipped to countries such as Egypt where they were tortured and murdered by our allies, was the fuse that lit the al-Qaida bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 and the attacks on the Navy destroyer Cole in the Yemeni port of Aden on Oct. 12, 2000. Militant Islamists had publicly vowed reprisals for these renditions. […]
* “WAR ON WHISTLEBLOWERS MUST END!” – ASSANGE SPEECH AT ECUADOR EMBASSY
Julian Assange makes his first public appearance in two months, ever since he took refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. The WikiLeaks founder was granted political asylum on Thursday — a decision that ignited a wave of international responses, with the UK and Sweden opposing the verdict and Latin American countries strongly supporting Ecuador’s move.
* HUMAN RIGHTS CRITICS OF RUSSIA AND ECUADOR PARADE THEIR OWN HYPOCRICY
The media’s new converts to civic freedom over the Pussy Riot and Assange asylum affairs show a jingoism blind to US abuses
By Glenn Greenward, The Guardian UK
Readers of the American and British press over the past month have been inundated with righteous condemnations of Ecuador‘s poor record on press freedoms. Is this because western media outlets have suddenly developed a new-found devotion to defending civil liberties in Latin America? Please. To pose the question is to mock it.
It’s because feigning concern for these oppressive measures is a convenient instrument for demeaning and punishing Ecuador for the supreme crime of defying the US and its western allies. The government of President Rafael Correa granted asylum to western establishmentarians’ most despised figure, Julian Assange, and Correa’s government then loudly condemned Britain’s implied threats to invade its embassy. Ecuador must therefore be publicly flogged for its impertinence, and its press freedom record is a readily available whip. As a fun bonus, denunciations of Correa’s media oppression is a cheap and easy way to deride Assange’s supposed hypocrisy.
(Apparently, activists should only seek asylum from countries with pristine human rights records, whichever countries those might be: a newly concocted standard that was conspicuously missing during the saga of blind Chinese human rights activist Chen Guangcheng at the US embassy; I don’t recall any western media outlets accusing Guangcheng of hypocrisy for seeking refuge from a country that indefinitely imprisons people with no charges, attacked Iraq, assassinates its own citizens with no due process on the secret orders of the president, bombs funerals and rescuers in Pakistan, uses extreme force and mass arrests to try to obliterate the peaceful Occupy protest movement, wages an unprecedented war on whistleblowers, prosecutes its Muslim citizens for posting YouTube videos critical of US foreign policy, embraces and arms the world’s most oppressive regimes, and imprisoned Muslim journalists for years at Guantánamo and elsewhere with no charges of any kind.) […]
* MORE EVIDENCE THAT WALL STREET IS OVERPAID
By Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone
[…] We’ll be getting to this more next week when we do our piece on Mitt Romney and the private equity business, but one of the most frequently-overlooked problems of the financialization age is that a lot of our brilliant financial engineers are actually pretty damned average, when it comes to playing the market.
There’s a great little piece at Zero Hedge about how hedge funds are having a terrible year (for the second straight year), with only 11% of all funds outperforming the Standard and Poor’s 500, the basic stock index.
Here’s Tyler’s take on the panic in the hedge fund industry:
This is the worst yearly aggregate S&P 500 underperformance by the hedge fund industry in history, and also explains why the smooth sailing in the S&P500 belies the fact that nearly every single hedge fund manager (and at least 89% of all) is currently panicking like never before knowing very well there are only 4 more months left to beat the S&P or face terminal redemption requests. And with $1.2 trillion in gross equity positions, the day of redemption reckoning at the end of the year (and just after September 30 for that matter as well) could be the most painful yet. it also explains why, just like every other quarter in which career risk is at all time highs, HFs are dumping everything not nailed down and buying up AAPL, which as of June 30 was held by an all time high 230 hedge funds (more on that later).
Translating that into English, all those super-rich people who turned to hedge funds with their millions in the hopes that bunches of Whiz-Kids from Wharton and Harvard and Yale would find unseen and wildly creative investment ideas to fatten their fortunes — all those rich clients are actually finding out now that those same Whiz Kids are buying Apple just like the rest of us. Hey, it has to be a good stock, right? Everyone has an iPhone now. […]
* ‘JPM’s $150 BILLION FDIC REALITY ADJUSTMENT’ — JAMIE DIMON JUST ADMITTED TO THE WORLD THAT JPM’s ASSETS ARE OVERVALUED BY $150 BILLION
Source: DAILY BAIL
Reuters published an exclusive story this morning:
Buried in the final paragraph:
In a presentation in March, JPMorgan Chase said it had a recovery plan in place and said it was ordered by regulators. The presentation was organized by Harvard Law School and was closed to the media at the time, but is now available online.
Here’s the BEST part of the JPM document.
It’s easy to see on the PDF:
Go to page 9. Under the wipeout scenario JPM describes a $50 billion trading loss turning into a $200 billion loss as soon as the FDIC takes over. Why… ? Because JPM says they would expect the FDIC to immediately writedown JPM’s assets by an additional $150 billion.
Holy mark to bullshit. Jamie Dimon just admitted to the world that JPM is mis-marking assets to the tune of $150 billion. […]
* OUR COMING RENTCROPPER SOCIETY
By Yves Smith, Naked Capitalism
We are in the midst of a sea change in terms of the relationship of ordinary Americans to the housing market. Policymakers are not only in denial as to its magnitude, but are actively enabling courses of action that are likely to prove destructive.
One of the accidental and fortunate discoveries of the 1930s was that a long-dated mortgage, meaning 15 to 30 years, was a good fit with working conditions of that era. The Home Owners Loan Corporation refinanced borrowers who were delinquent and in danger of losing their homes from short maturity mortgages to 20 to 25 year ones, considerably lowering borrower payments. This was considered a radical experiment at the time, and was expected to lose $1 billion, a very large sum in those days. When its operations ceased, it had shown a profit. One of the big reasons was the stability of employment. Job tenures were much longer than now; in fact, being fired was rare, and usually a result of business failure or distress, not management whim or need to meet quarterly earnings targets. And with the exception of some very large corporations that liked transferring managers (IBM stood for “I’ve been moved”), families were more likely to remain in the same house over the husband’s working life.
Much of this equation has been turned on its head. A college degree is now an entry requirement for many jobs. 94% of recent graduates borrowed to finance their educations and the average debt level across all student debtors is over $23,000. And the fact that student debt cannot be discharged in bankruptcy means that young people are less likely to by a house than in the past, and will take longer to accumulate enough savings to do so. On top of that, the uncertainty of employment makes buying a house a much dodgier proposition than in the past. One of the paradigmatic stories of our day is how people in their 40s and 50s who lose a job either can’t find work at all, and join the ranks of the long-term unemployed, or take a large cut in pay. If they haven’t paid off their mortgage, that loss of income often leads to foreclosure. Ever shortening job tenures increases the odds of an abrupt, permanent fall in pay. And as Elizabeth Warren described in The Two Income Trap, two earner families are more vulnerable economically than the old working dad, stay at home model. […]