Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart
* THE UNTOUCHABLES: HOW THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION PROTECTED WALL STREET FROM PROSECUTIONS
By Glenn Greenwald, The Guardian
A new PBS Frontline report examines a profound failure of justice that should be causing serious social unrest
PBS‘ Frontline program on Tuesday night broadcast a new one-hour report on one of the greatest and most shameful failings of the Obama administration: the lack of even a single arrest or prosecution of any senior Wall Street banker for the systemic fraud that precipitated the 2008 financial crisis: a crisis from which millions of people around the world are still suffering. What this program particularly demonstrated was that the Obama justice department, in particular the Chief of its Criminal Division, Lanny Breuer, never even tried to hold the high-level criminals accountable.
What Obama justice officials did instead is exactly what they did in the face of high-level Bush era crimes of torture and warrantless eavesdropping: namely, acted to protect the most powerful factions in the society in the face of overwhelming evidence of serious criminality. Indeed, financial elites were not only vested with impunity for their fraud, but thrived as a result of it, even as ordinary Americans continue to suffer the effects of that crisis.
Worst of all, Obama justice officials both shielded and feted these Wall Street oligarchs (who, just by the way, overwhelmingly supported Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign) as they simultaneously prosecuted and imprisoned powerless Americans for far more trivial transgressions. As Harvard law professor Larry Lessig put it two weeks ago when expressing anger over the DOJ’s persecution of Aaron Swartz: “we live in a world where the architects of the financial crisis regularly dine at the White House.” (Indeed, as “The Untouchables” put it: while no senior Wall Street executives have been prosecuted, “many small mortgage brokers, loan appraisers and even home buyers” have been). […]
* THE WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM DOESN’T MATTER
By Natasha Lennard, Salon
World leaders, CEOs and economists are this week tucked away in a skiing village in Switzerland, making predictions — which have historically not borne out — about the economy, the climate and impending doom or lack thereof. As the annual World Economic Forum begins at Davos Tuesday, there will be networking, hobnobbing, blue-sky thinking, auguring and at the end of it all, many commentators note, not much changes for the rest of us.
The WEF, Andrew Ross Sorkin noted in the New York Times Monday, is rife with prediction-making. “The predictions that have emanated from Davos always have a ring of plausibility to them, in part because of the credibility of the speakers. But all too often they fall short.” Sorkin notes that Bill Gates didn’t think much of “the Google guys” in 2003; and, in 2008, C. Fred Bergsten, senior fellow and director emeritus of the Peter G. Peterson Institute for International Economics, said “It is inconceivable — repeat, inconceivable — to get a world recession.”
WEF founder Klaus Schwab since issued a mea culpa about the Forum’s collective failure to anticipate the financial crisis. “We let it get out of control, and attention was taken away from the speed and complexity of how the world’s challenges built up,” he said. But as Jem Bendell, a professor of sustainability leadership, commented on Al Jazeera Tuesday, “I wondered at the time whether an institution that pays its bills by convening the world’s largest companies to entertain them at high-powered meetings would be beset by a form of systemic sycophancy, restricting its ability to explore any root causes that might challenge members.” Does the echo chamber reverberate too loudly in those Swiss mountains? […]
* THIS TECH ENTREPRENEUR IS ABOUT TO LAUNCH THE BLACKWATER OF THE HIGH SEAS
By Spencer Ackerman, Wired
Beware, pirates of Africa. You may have outlasted years of patrols from the world’s navies. You may have driven fear into the hears of shipping magnates and sent insurance rates skyrocketing. But now you’ll have to contend with a dapper British investor who is seeking to privatize the fight against seafaring brigands.
Anthony Sharp, a 50-year-old veteran of tech startups, grew up with a love for ships. On February 7, he’ll turn that boyhood affection into what might be the first private navy since the 19th century. Sharp’s newest company, Typhon, will offer a fleet of armed ex-Royal Marines and sailors to escort commercial ships through pirate-infested waters. In essence, Typhon wants to be the Blackwater of the sea, minus the stuff about accidentally killing civilians.
Sharp thinks the market is ripe for Typhon, a company named for a monster out of Greek myth. Budget cuts are slicing into the wallets of the militaries that provide protection from pirates. The conflicts and weak governments that incubate piracy in places like Somalia persist. “Maritime crime is growing at the same time that navies are shrinking,” Sharp tells Danger Room by telephone from the U.K. “The policemen are going off the beat.” Sharp thinks that creates a potent opportunity for the fleet he’s buying. […]
* THE ROAD TO WORLD WAR III
* MALI: ONE WAR CAN HIDE ANOTHER
By Thierry Meyssan, Voltaire
|A long time in the making and announced by François Hollande six months in advance, the French intervention in Mali was portrayed as an emergency decision in response to dramatic developments. This scheme aims not only at seizing Mali’s gold and uranium, but more especially at paving the way for the destabilization of Algeria.|
Appetite comes with eating”, says the proverb. After having re-colonised the Ivory Coast and Libya, then having attempted to get a hold on Syria, France is now setting its sights on Mali in order to take Algeria from behind.
During the attack on Libya, the French and the British made wide use of the Islamists to fight the power structure in Tripoli, since the Cyrenaican separatists had no interest in overthrowing Muammar al-Gaddafi once Benghazi became independent. At the fall of the Jamahiriya, I was personally witness to the reception of the leaders of AQMI (Al Qaida in Islamist Mahgreb) by members of the National Transitional Council in the Hotel Corinthia, which had just been secured by British special forces who had come from Iraq for that purpose. It was clear that the next target for Western colonialism would be Algeria, and that AQMI would play its part, but at that time I could not see which conflict could be used to justify international intervention.
Paris has imagined a scenario in which war will enter Algeria via Mali.
Shortly before NATO’s capture of Tripoli, the French managed to bribe and return the Tuareg groups. They had the time to supply them with abundant funds and weapons, but it was already too late for them to play a role on the ground. Once the war was over, they went back to their desert. […]
* REGULATORS DISCOVER A HIDDEN VIRAL GENE IN COMMERCIAL GMO CROPS
By Jonathan Latham and Allison Wilson
How should a regulatory agency announce they have discovered something potentially very important about the safety of products they have been approving for over twenty years?
In the course of analysis to identify potential allergens in GMO crops, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has belatedly discovered that the most common genetic regulatory sequence in commercial GMOs also encodes a significant fragment of a viral gene (Podevin and du Jardin 2012). This finding has serious ramifications for crop biotechnology and its regulation, but possibly even greater ones for consumers and farmers. This is because there are clear indications that this viral gene (called Gene VI) might not be safe for human consumption. It also may disturb the normal functioning of crops, including their natural pest resistance. […]
* RICHEST 100 ‘COULD END POVERTY NOW’
By Rory MacKinnon, CADTM
Oxfam said today that the world’s 100 richest people could easily afford to end the hunger, thirst and basic illness of every person of Earth.
The charity demanded an end to “extreme wealth” as David Cameron prepared for next week’s annual billionaire bash at the Davos World Economic Forum.
The event, held at a Swiss ski resort, attracted 70 billionaires last year to hobnob with world leaders and mere millionaires who were “committed to improving the world.”
The guests’ total wealth was £269 billion – enough to wipe out poverty seven times over.
Even a quarter of the world’s hundred richest people’s annual income would be enough to supply basic health care, food and clean drinking water for everyone, costing about £37.5bn.
Since 1990 the billionaires and millionaires making up the world’s richest 1 per cent have seen their incomes grow by 60 per cent.
And they have grown even faster since the 2008 financial crash. […]
* MEGAUPLOAD ASSISTED U.S. PROSECUTIOIN OF SMALLER FILE-SHARING SERVICE
By David Kravets, Wired
Eighteen months before Megaupload’s operators were indicted in the United States, the company complied with a secret U.S. search warrant targeting five of its users, who were running their own file-sharing service using Megaupload’s infrastructure, according to interviews and newly unsealed court documents.
The June 24, 2010 warrant to search the Megaupload servers in Virginia (.pdf) was part of a U.S. criminal investigation into NinjaVideo, which was piggy-backing on Megaupload’s “Megavideo” streaming service. Though the feds had already begun quietly investigating Megaupload months before, in this case the government treated Megaupload as NinjaVideo’s internet service provider, serving Megaupload with the warrant and asking them to keep it quiet.
Megaupload responded as “good corporate citizens,” said Ira Rothken, who represents founder Kim Dotcom. The company kept the warrant a secret and turned over information on the alleged NinjaVideo operators, as well as database information on the 39 pirated movies detailed in the warrant. The NinjaVideo probe led to the indictment of the five top NinjaVideo administrators, including founder Hana Beshara, on charges similar to those now faced by Dotcom and other Megaupload operators.
“Megaupload complied with the warrant and cooperated with the government’s request,” Rothken said. He said Megaupload had gotten “a number of such warrant and subpoena type requests a year and still have an expectation that as classic ‘online service providers’ they are immune from liability for the acts of users who are the target of such warrants and subpoenas.”
Despite Megaupload’s cooperation, the 39 infringing NinjaVideo files were later used against the popular file-sharing service as evidence to seize Megaupload.com domains and prosecute Dotcom and others connected to the site. […]
READ MORE: KimDotcom: A Master of Delusions, Illusions and Double-Cross @ http://pastebin.com/xdTdsgAe