* OCCUPATION SEEKS TO HALT FORECLOSURES NATIONWIDE! ( 3 ITEMS )
Arrest for Occupy Bremerton foreclosure protest
For the second week in a row, Occupy Bremerton protesters have attempted to disrupt an auction of foreclosed homes.
The Associated Press
Faced with evictions, occupy movement protesters look to new tactics
By Mark Guarino | Published Mon, Dec 12 2011 8:31 am
Occupy Homes: New Coalition Links Homeowners, Activists in Direct Action to Halt Foreclosures
November 11, 2011
* THE WAR IN IRAQ IS OVER. LONG LIVE THE WAR ON TERROR!
By Liz Armstrong, Vice.com
Even though the president just declared an official end to the war in Iraq–aka a good hunk of our so-called War on Terror–the paranoia hotline is still on fire. Over the past months troupes have been coming home after the nine years spent fighting for something a lot of us didn’t think ever made any sense, and yet the Senate still passed the National Defense Authorization Act. This hands over domestic terror investigations and individual inquiry to the military, which means it’s cool to send anyone suspected of terrorism—not just the non-US citizens targeted in the Patriot Act—off to special prison without a trial for the duration of this “war on terror.” Which is supposedly over by the end of this month. This, combined with the discovery last week that FEMA’s put out a help-wanted ad for subcontractors to provide “temporary camp services” for facilities all over the country, is fairly alarming news.
It’s not new news, though. The government subcontracts anything from health insurance for local employees in Nigeria to building airplanes to producing maps. Winning a contract with FEMA, according to instructional DIY site eHow, is “moderately challenging,” and right now they’ve got a contingency call for companies who can respond quickly to a call for temporary fencing and barricades, hand-washing stations, refuse collection, potable water, and other elements that, when added up, seem to equal big-ass pop-up jails.
And prison privatization in general isn’t news either. Forty-nine percent of detainment centers for illegal immigrants (what’s up Arizona!) are owned by non-government entities. Most of these companies were started specifically to get into the prison biz. And in order to start a corporation to run something so massively expensive the government can’t even handle it, you need some help with money. In step large investment firms and banks such as Lehman Brothers and Wells Fargo, who’re notorious for financing internment start-ups, and here’s one shortcut to the complex answer as to why no one on Wall Street is in jail: If you have stakes in keeping the prison industry afloat, you won’t be visiting it, even if you’ve broken the law.
Obama just cited reasons why we’re ready to move forward in Iraq–namely that Iraqis are voting in democratic fashion, creating institutions that are transparent, and participating in an increasingly robust economy–and simultaneously quickly mentions continued efforts in fighting terrorism, lest we get too comfortable. The momentum in profiting off of fear is what made this war drag on for nine years, and why there’s no end in sight to counter-terrorism initiatives around the world. Nowhere is it more publicly apparent in this country than at the airport, any airport, in all steps taken, from entering through one and exiting out another. […]
* DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION CONFERENCE MAKES FEW CHANGES TO DETAINEE PROVISIONS
By Marcy Wheeler, Emptywheel
According to a press release from Senator Levin’s office, the conference on the Defense Authorization has made few changes to the detainee provisions institutionalizing military detention of alleged terrorists.
With regards to Section 1031, which authorized the indefinite detention of alleged terrorists, the conference bill,
Reaffirm[s] the military’s existing authority to detain individuals captured in the course of hostilities conducted pursuant to the Authorization for the Use of Military Force. No change has been made to the Senate version of this provision, which confirms that nothing in the provision may be “construed to affect existing law or authorities relating to the detention of United States citizens, lawful resident aliens of the United States, or any other persons who are captured or arrested in the United States.”
Section 1032, which mandates presumptive military detention, adds language purporting not to change FBI’s national security authorities (though I don’t understand how that could practically be the case).
Require military detention – subject to a Presidential waiver – for foreign al Qaeda terrorists who attack the United States. This provision specifically exempts United States citizens and lawful resident aliens, authorizes transfer of detainees to civilian custody for trial in civilian court, and leaves it up to the President to establish procedures for determining how and when persons determined to be subject to military custody would be transferred, and to ensure that such determinations do not interfere with ongoing intelligence, surveillance, or interrogation operations. Language added in conference confirms that nothing in the provision may be “construed to affect the existing criminal enforcement and national security authorities of the Federal Bureau of Investigation or any other domestic law enforcement agency with regard to a covered person, regardless whether such covered person is held in military custody.” [my emphasis]
And the conference does change the breathtaking limits on Attorney General authority in the Senate bill I laid out here, apparently adopting the House formulation of requiring the AG to ask permission of the Defense Secretary before the AG does his or her job.
Require the Attorney General to consult with the Secretary of Defense before prosecuting a foreign al Qaeda terrorist who is determined to be covered under the previous section, or any other person who is held in military custody outside the United States, on whether the more appropriate forum for trial is a federal court or a military commission and whether the individual should be held in civilian or military custody pending trial.
It seems to me the language does enough to avoid a veto from the cowardly Obama, but still does terrible damage to both the clarity of national security roles and overall investigative expertise. […]
* EVEN CONGRESS’S INSIDER TRADING REFORM IS A SCAM
By Barry Ritholtz, The Big Picture
Don’t be fooled by noise about reforming Insider Trading rules for Congress — its a scam, with lots of loopholes, says Yale law prof Jonathan Macey.
First, the background:
“Members of Congress already get better health insurance and retirement benefits than other Americans. They are about to get better insider trading laws as well.
Several academic studies show that the investment portfolios of congressmen and senators consistently outperform stock indices like the Dow and the S&P 500, as well as the portfolios of virtually all professional investors. Congressmen do better to an extent that is statistically significant, according to [a 2004] study . . . The trading is widespread.
These results are not due to luck or the financial acumen of elected officials. They can be explained only by insider trading based on the nonpublic information that politicians obtain in the course of their official duties.”
Now for the kicker:
“Congress’s rules would be clear and precise. And not too broad; in fact they are too narrow. For example, the proposed rules in the Stock bill are directed only at information related to pending legislation. It would appear that inside information obtained by a congressman during a regulatory briefing, or in another context unrelated to pending legislation, would not be covered . . .
If the law passes in its current form, insider trading by Congress will not become illegal. I predict such trading will increase because the rules of the game will be clearer. Most significantly, the rule proposed for Congress would not involve the same murky inquiry into whether a trader owed or breached a “fiduciary duty” to the source of the information that required that he refrain from trading.”
Is this what is meant by “Doing the people’s business?” No wonder why Congress’s approval ratings are at 9% — a record low. […]
* OBAMA: I CAN’T COMMENT ON WALL STREET PROSECUTIONS
By Glenn Greenwald, Salon
President Obama was interviewed by 60 Minutes‘ Steve Kroft last night. Kroft mentioned a new poll showing that 42% of Americans believe Obama’s policies most favor Wall Street rather than average Americans (only 35% believe the opposite). Kroft speculated that this was due in part to the fact that, as he put it, “there’s not been any criminal prosecutions of people on Wall Street,” and then asked Obama whether he was “disappointed” with that development. Obama replied:
I can’t, as President of the United States, comment on the decisions about particular prosecutions. That’s the job of the Justice Department, and we keep those separate so that there’s no political influence on decisions made by professional prosecutors.
If only that were what President Obama really believed and how he actually comported himself.
On January 12, 2009, The New York Times – under the headline: “Obama signals his reluctance to investigate Bush programs” — reported that “President-elect Barack Obama signaled in an interview broadcast Sunday that he was unlikely to authorize a broad inquiry into Bush administration programs like domestic eavesdropping or the treatment of terrorism suspects”; specifically, he expressed the “belief that we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards” and announced that “part of my job is to make sure that, for example, at the CIA, you’ve got extraordinarily talented people who are working very hard to keep Americans safe. I don’t want them to suddenly feel like they’ve got spend their all their time looking over their shoulders.” On April 19, Obama’s Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, went on ABC News and announced that the President opposes investigations not only for the CIA torturers themselves, but also high-level Bush officials who devised and authorized the policies:
STEPHANOPOULOS: Final quick question. The president has ruled out prosecutions for CIA officials who believed they were following the law. Does he believe that the officials who devised the policies should be immune from prosecution?
EMANUEL: . . . He believes that people in good faith were operating with the guidance they were provided. They shouldn’t be prosecuted.
STEPHANOPOULOS: What about those who devised policy?
EMANUEL: Yes, but those who devised policy, he believes that they were — should not be prosecuted either, and that’s not the place that we go — as he said in that letter, and I would really recommend people look at the full statement — not the letter, the statement — in that second paragraph, “this is not a time for retribution.” It’s time for reflection. It’s not a time to use our energy and our time in looking back and any sense of anger and retribution.
CNN’S ED HENRY: Just so I understand, you’re saying the people in the CIA who followed through on what they were told was legal, they should not be prosecuted? But why not the Bush administration lawyers who, in the eyes of a lot of your supporters on the left, twisted the law, why are they not being held accountable?
GIBBS: The president is focused on looking forward. That’s why.
[During the same time period, the Obama White House worked to block plans by then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi for a Congressional investigation into those crimes, and also had its State Department pressure Spain to impede its own judiciary’s investigation into the torture regime.] […]
* SOPA IS ”UNCONSTITUTIONAL”, WOULD “CRIMINALIZE” THE INTERNET … MODELED ON CHINA
By Washington’s Blog
Harvard Law School professor Laurence Tribe is one of the top constitutional experts in the country, and wrote one of the main treatises on the subject. Tribe wrote a letter to Congress last week stating that SOPA (the Stop Online Piracy Act) is unconstitutional.
As the Hill notes:
Laurence Tribe, a constitutional law expert at Harvard Law School, argues [SOPA] violates the First Amendment in a memo sent to members of Congress on Thursday.
The bill would empower the Justice Department and copyright holders to demand that search engines, Internet providers and payment processors cut ties with websites “dedicated” to copyright infringement.
Tribe argues the bill amounts to illegal “prior restraint” because it would suppress speech without a judicial hearing.
Additionally, the law’s definition of a rogue website is unconstitutionally vague, Tribe writes.
“Conceivably, an entire website containing tens of thousands of pages could be targeted if only a single page were accused of infringement,” Tribe writes. “Such an approach would create severe practical problems for sites with substantial user-generated content, such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, and for blogs that allow users to post videos, photos, and other materials.”
Google CEO Eric Schmidt said that the bill would criminalize the Internet:
An online piracy bill in the House would “criminalize linking and the fundamental structure of the Internet itself,” according to Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt.
Schmidt said the controversial [bill] would punish Web firms, including search engines, that link to foreign websites dedicated to online piracy. He said implementing the bill as written would effectively break the Internet.
“By criminalizing links, what these bills do is they force you to take content off the Internet,” Schmidt said, calling it a form of censorship.
He compared the proposal to the Web censorship practiced by repressive foreign governments like China and doubled down on that comparison when speaking with reporters after his remarks at the Economic Club of Washington.
If you’re wondering why lawyers and Hollywood folks would get behind legislation to censor the Internet, you only need to listen to former Senator Chris Dodd [the same guy who killed any chance of financial reform – see this, this, this and this], now the head of the MPAA, who last week explained to Variety that the lobby is only asking for the same kind of power to censor the Internet as the government has in the People’s Republic of China:
“When the Chinese told Google that they had to block sites or they couldn’t do [business] in their country, they managed to figure out how to block sites.” […]
* HOW THE FEDERAL RESERVE FIGHTS
By Matt Stoller, Naked Capitalism
Two weeks ago, Bloomberg released a significant story on the actions of the Federal Reserve as the lender of last resort during the crisis and the extent of that lending. The article, an homage to the late great reporter Mark Pittman, revealed lending and guarantees of roughly $8 trillion, and estimated government-granted profit garnered by the big banks of $13 billion.
More disturbing were inconsistent statements by Bernanke publicly claiming he was lending only to sound institutions when the Fed’s internal assessments of those same banks showed otherwise. This article prompted a remarkable back-and-forth between Bloomberg and the Fed, in which neither side backed down while coming close to calling the other a liar. Bloomberg essentially argued that the Fed gave ill-gotten profits to money center banks through facilities set up to flood the system with liquidity. The Fed responded that it charged “penalty” rates to these banks, that it was fulfilling a well recognized function of central banks by serving as the lender of last resort. […]
* FEARFULLY, THE U.S. TREASURY’S SECRET, 75-YEAR-OLD FUND AND ITS DARK HISTORY HAS BEEN EXPOSED
Staff Report, The Daily Bell
After months of work, the video series on the Treasury’s Exchange Stabilization Fund is finally finished! Why you should watch these five videos: It is impossible to understand the world today without knowing what the ESF is and what it has been doing. Officially in charge of defending the dollar, the ESF is the government agency which controls the New York Fed, runs the CIA‘s black budget, and is the architect of the world’s monetary system (IMF, World Bank, etc). ESF financing (through the OSS and then the CIA) built up the worldwide propaganda network which has so badly distorted history today (including erasing awareness of its existence from popular consciousness). It has been directly involved in virtually every major US fraud/scandal since its creation in 1934: the London gold pool, the Kennedy assassinations, Iran-Contra, CIA drug trafficking, HIV, and worse … ” – Market Skeptics
Dominant Social Theme: The US Government has taken over the world and the ESF has been its weapon of choice.
Free-Market Analysis: We’re not sure who Eric deCarbonnel is, but he has posted five YouTube videos that contain extraordinary allegations about the US Government’s Exchange Stabilization Fund. In aggregate, the series is called, “What I have been afraid to blog about: THE ESF AND ITS HISTORY.”
We were made aware of the series just last night by a considerate feedbacker who was puzzled by them. We used Google to find out about Mr. deCarbonnel, whose ESF thesis has been covered by GATA, where he contributes. He also contributes to some other alternative media websites and has received coverage there and elsewhere.
The videos don’t seem to have made a wide stir as of yet (not that we could tell, anyhow). But they are certainly interesting. Having listened to all five presentations, we will try to provide an analysis of what we might call “holistic” journalism, where someone tries to put a lot of different facts together to create a scenario not previously well known.
You might call him a practitioner of conspiratorial or directed history. Perhaps that’s why we’re drawn to it. Many of the problems of the modern world can be traced to the ESF, according to Mr. deCarbonnel. He proceeds to make the case for his argument in over an hour of insights and detail.
We have been reading and writing about the New World Order for decades but the information presented by deCarbonnel seems, in some ways, new to us. (That doesn’t mean it’s accurate, of course.) We would be remiss in not making the following point: According to Mr. deCarbonnel, he is also related to Frank Vanderlip, one of the founders of the US Federal Reserve system, so the series of videos can also be seen in some way, perhaps, as a defense of Vanderlip and private banking.
Anyway, let’s jump in. We will try to summarize Mr. deCarbonnel’s argument for those who don’t have the time or patience to sit through all five videos. Here are his arguments – buttressed, to be sure, by a plethora of historical sources – in approximate order in bullet points: […]
* THERE’S NOTHING TO STOP MORTGAGE SERVICE FRAUD BECOMING STANDARD BUSINESS PRACTICE
By Matt Stoller, Business Insider
n 2004, the FBI warned Congress of an “epidemic of mortgage fraud,” of unscrupulous operators taking advantage of a booming real estate market. Less than two years later, an accounting scandal at Fannie Mae tipped us off that something was very wrong at the highest levels of corporate America.
Of course, we all know what happened next. Crime invaded the center of our banking system. Wall Street CEOs were signing on to SEC documents knowing they contained material misstatements. The New York Fed, riddled with conflicts of interest, shoveled money to large banks and tried to hide it under the veil of central bank independence.
Even Tim Geithner noted that Lehman had “air in the marks” in its valuations of asset-backed securities, as the bankruptcy examiner’s report showed that accounting manipulation to disguise the condition of the balance sheet was a routine management tool at the bank. There’s a reason Charles Ferguson got an Academy Award for his work on the documentary Inside Job.
And yet, no handcuffs. The big news on prosecutions in the traditionally high-powered Southern District of New York are convictions for relatively petty insider trading that are unrelated to the collapse of the economy. The criminal charges could have been filed in the 1980s. U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara has brought minor civil suits against banks, but nothing significant, and no criminal indictments for the Ponzi scheme of the last four years.
And what happens when this kind of fraud goes unprosecuted? It continues, even today. The same banks that ran the corrupt home mortgage securitization chain are now committing rampant fraud in the foreclosure crisis. Here’s New Orleans Bankruptcy Judge Elizabeth Magner discussing problems at Lender Processing Services, the company that handles 80 percent of foreclosures on behalf of large banks (emphasis added):
In Jones v. Wells Fargo, this Court discovered that a highly automated software package owned by LPS and identified as MSP administered loans for servicers and note holders but was programed to apply payments contrary to the terms of the notes and mortgages.
The bad behavior is so rampant that banks think nothing of a contractor programming fraud into the software. This is shocking behavior and has led to untold numbers of foreclosures, as well as the theft of huge sums of money from mortgage-backed securities investors. […]
* SPECIAL REPORT: FORENSIC ANALYSIS FINDS VENANGO COUNTY, PA E-VOTING SYSTEM ‘REMOTELY ACCESSED’ ON ‘MULTIPLE OCCASIONS’ BY UNKNOWN COMPUTER
Battle for independent election investigation rages in rural Republican county, pitting renegade Election Board against County Commission, giant E-Vote firm ES&S…
By Brad Friedman, BradBlog
According to the Initial Report from a landmark independent forensic audit of Venango County, PA’s touch-screen voting system — the same system used in dozens of states across the state and country — someone used a computer that was not a part of county’s election network to remotely access the central election tabulator computer, illegally, “on multiple occasions.” Despite the disturbing report, as obtained by The BRAD BLOG and posted in full below, we may never get to learn who did it or why, if Venango’s County Commissioners, a local judge, and the nation’s largest e-voting company have their way. And that’s not all we won’t get to find out about.
The battle for election integrity continues in Venango, with the County Commissioners teaming up with e-voting vendor Election Systems & Software, Inc. (ES&S) on one side, and the county’s renegade interim Republican-majority Board of Elections on the other. The Commissioners and ES&S have been working to spike the independent scientific forensic audit of the county’s failed electronic voting machines that was commissioned by the interim Board of Elections. Making matters worse, the Board has now been removed from power by a county judge, a decision they are attempting to appeal as the three-person board and their supporters continue to fight the entrenched establishment for transparency and accountability in the rural Western Pennsylvania county.
The extraordinary battle began when the interim Board was appointed by a county judge to oversee elections in the Republican-leaning PA county last spring. Normally the County Commissioners serve as the Board of Elections. But when they themselves are up for election, as they were this year, the county court judge names a specially appointed Board to over the election and serve until the end of the year, or until they are dismissed by the same court.
When the interim Board of Elections — comprised of two Republicans and one Democrat — took power this year in Venango, they unanimously set about commissioning the landmark, independent forensic audit of the county’s 100% unverifiable ES&S iVotronic touch-screen voting systems, on the heels of sworn testimony from voters about several failed elections over recent years, beginning in 2008.
After months of legal wrangling, with County Commissioners in opposition, the special Election Board’s independent study of the County’s ES&S iVotronic voting system finally got under way in late September. At that time, a hard drive clone of the computer which runs the ES&S central tabulator system (known as the “Unity Election Reporting Manager”) was created and given, along with other data, to two Carnegie Mellon computer science professors who had volunteered to carry out the analysis on behalf of the Board. The Board also announced that the November election this year would be carried out on an optically-scanned paper ballot system, also made by the county’s vendor, ES&S, while the reported anomalies from their May 2011 primary election, run on the unverifiable touch-screen systems, were being examined by the scientists.
But now, as documents and letters obtained by The BRAD BLOG reveal, the voting machine company, Omaha-based ES&S, who had issued no objections prior to the start of the study, but who changed their mind quickly after it began (as we detailed in an Exclusive report in late October) has now hardened their position, sending threatening legal letters to both the county and the two computer scientists. The e-voting firm has warned them they are likely to face a lawsuit if they do not agree to complete confidentiality and if results of their analysis are released publicly without their prior review and approval.
Shortly after ES&S’ legal threats were issued last month, a county judge released the interim Board from their duties (a move now being appealed by the Board) and the County Commissioners, who had fought tooth and nail against the analysis even being undertaken in the first place, are now back at the helm. According to members of the interim Board, the County Commissioners seem likely to “white wash” and/or quash the entire analysis and a plan for continuing the investigation before it can be completed or even see the light of day.
The BRAD BLOG, however, has obtained a copy of the Initial Draft of one of the forensic studies by the Carnegie Mellon computer scientists. Findings from the report [linked in full below, along with ES&S’ threat letters], include a number of disturbing, and so-far unexplained revelations that should raise alarm bells for voters in virtually every corner of the nation as we head into another Presidential election year.
Among those findings: details on unexplained, out-of-sequence activity log entries in the computer tabulation system, indications that the system was mounted several times with a “USB ‘flash drive'” device, and, perhaps most troubling, evidence that the system was repeatedly accessed by an unidentified remote computer, for lengthy periods of time, on “multiple occasions”.
The entire affair has left members of the interim Board — which includes the Chair and Treasurer of the local Republican Party, as well as the former Chair of the Democratic Party — hopping mad. They’re asking questions about motivations of both the County Commissioners and ES&S and describing their actions as a “cover up”, even as they take legal action to try and complete the work they had begun months ago, after first hearing sworn testimony from voters, describing major failures with e-voting machines at the polling place in recent elections… […]
* PLANNED CHAOS OF THE EURO COLLAPSE?
Staff Report, The Daily Bell
EU debt deal may be divisive for Europe … Heads of state in Europe are congratulating each other for agreeing to a deal that will force fiscal discipline on European Union countries and impose sanctions on those that stray from the budget diktats of EU regulators. But the pact drafted largely by Germany and France and agreed to over dinner and drinks in Brussels must now be sold to average citizens, who are increasingly mistrustful of surrendering national sovereignty to the European Union, analysts said Sunday. The pact, then, could wind up forcing nations to choose between further European integration or disintegration. Leaders of 23 of the EU’s 27 nations agreed Friday to be part of a new fiscal union in which they would be sanctioned if they miss preordained targets on spending and borrowing. Britain declined to join the pact, while Czech Republic, Hungary and Sweden said they would have to seek approval from national parliaments. – USA Today
Dominant Social Theme: Too bad Britain faded away … The chaos is as undeniable as it is undesirable.
Free-Market Analysis: In today’s lead article we tried to point out once more (as before) that this global central banking order we have is not to the world’s benefit. What we call the Internet Reformation has made it more and more difficult for the powers-that-be to promote their fear-based dominant social themes.
It is these memes that the power elite has used in the past to frighten Western middle classes into giving up wealth and power to already-prepared globalist solutions such as the UN, IMF and World Bank. But these themes are foundering now as more people find out more about them.
Global warming, Peak Oil, even the War on Terror itself – all of these memes and many more are not so convincing as they once were, thanks to the unfurling of the Internet era, which is doing to power structures what the Gutenberg Press did 500 years ago.
The European Union itself is a power elite meme – the idea that increased centralization and globalization are necessary in the modern world. It is not true, of course. It merely supports the larger agenda of the power elite, which is world government.
In fact, the recent splitting-up of the Eurozone, between those that support further integration to salvage the euro and those that don’t, may be seen as part of this larger trend. And as we recently pointed out, the Anglosphere elites behind the EU probably didn’t want the split between Britain and mainland Europe. […]