Is it hot enough for you?
And the hits just keep on coming! (h/t Casey Kasem - R.I.P.)
(Thermite genesis at WTC?)
Gordon Duff is known to make some people hot. He and July are running neck.
(Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.)
Monday, July 7th, 2014
Posted by Gordon Duff
US ‘Superbomb’ too classified for Obama to know
The United States possesses and may well have used a devastating weapon designed to emulate terror attacks and even natural disasters.
The “thermo-metric bomb”, a combination of illegal enhanced or “salted” radiation or “neutron bomb” and infrared/thermal booster, weighing in at 10,000 pounds, is controlled by a “shadow” parallel command structure at one time under the direct control of former Vice President Dick Cheney.
Today, no one knows who controls these weapons, deployed on the B2 bomber on specially modified bays or any place a storage container or delivery truck can be left uninspected.
We do know this, they have been deployed, they have been used and “they work really well.”
A description of the weapon, designed for clandestine nuclear warfare:
“It is called a “Nuclear Thermobaric bomb”. This is what the 10,000lb bomb is that the B-2 was modified for. It uses a 1 kiloton primary surrounded by over 5,000 lbs. of iron oxide in powdered form. The devices are placed into a thick steel case, similar in looks to the Fat Man Bomb used on Hiroshima in 1945. The iron oxide or thermite is used as a secondary to make a very large heat wave blast.NOT SO SECRET NOW
It converts neutrons into infrared thermal heat energy, reducing fallout. It is an “infrared neutron bomb”. If you place several tons of iron oxide around a small nuke it will turn it into a massive enhanced radiation weapon. The neutron bomb is not the only enhanced weapon. There is an entire series of these devices such as the X-ray bomb and the EMP bomb. All primaries are nuclear. The secondaries vary depending on need or use.”
In a leak received from a national intelligence agency other than the US, it has been learned that, during the late 1990s, the US sought to develop advanced bunker buster bombs as Russia was moving its strategic command center deep underground, beyond the reach of anything in America’s arsenal.
A virtual stream of leaks is a clear sign that, in the light of events in the Ukraine, Syria and Iraq, the “rule book” is being thrown out. From a discussion of the real 9/11 report, citing the use of nuclear weapons, the official finding of the United States Department of Energy:
“Again the original Sandia report that I read stated that it was a salted or enhanced radiation device, not just a standard low-level nuke. The report only identified the type of primary used being in the W-54 series of primary boosters made at Hanford. The secondary radiation enhancement part of the weapons used was eradicated from the text.”(Editor’s note: Please carefully re-read this startling revelation from an official source)The birth of this weapon is a story in itself. From a highest-level source:
“It is used to destroy very large metal objects such as rail yards, refineries, oil storage tanks, steel mills and very large suspension bridges. It is also good on tank columns and big ships (supertankers).BACKGROUND
The cover story is that it is one of the “new B-61 bunker buster mods” that the Air Force wants. This is to hide new weapons development that is banned by congress and Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty or ‘SALT 2.’”
With the cancellation of the nuclear bunker buster programs, the new “salted ‘secondary’” modified nuclear weapons went “dark,” and in doing so, eventually disappeared from official inventories and official “command structures” as well.
Over the past 24 months, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey removed “undesirable elements” from America’s nuclear command. Almost no one was left. Was General Dempsey securing “toys” like the thermometric bomb from rogue commanders who had used it in Afghanistan, as several reports confirm or even in the United States?
THE “BUNKER BUSTER” COVER STORY - From Wikipedia:
“The ‘bunker buster bomb’ was revisited after the Cold War during the 2001 U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, and again during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. During the campaign in Tora Bora in particular, the United States believed that “vast underground complexes,” deeply buried, were protecting opposing forces.Such complexes were not found. While a nuclear penetrator (the “Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator”, or “RNEP”) was never built, the U.S. DOE was allotted budget to develop it, and tests were conducted by the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory. The RNEP was to use the 1.2 megaton B83 physics package.The Bush administration removed its request for funding  of the weapon in October 2005. While the project for the RNEP seems to be in fact canceled, Jane’s Information Group speculated in 2005 that work might continue under another name.A more recent development (c. 2012) is the GBU-57 Massive Ordnance Penetrator, a 30000 pound conventional gravity bomb. The USAF’s B-2 Spirit bombers can each carry two such weapons.”Even Wikipedia was able to discern continuing “black projects” and budget irregularities that our sources indicate allowed nuclear war to be waged by the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld cabal.
MORE CAPABILITIES, MORE THREAT
Weapons designed with one purpose in mind, clandestine nuclear warfare, and “staged” natural disaster” or bringing to reality the continual “promises” of Dick Cheney, nuclear devastation of one or more American cities by “terrorists,” is closer to a reality each day.
With the theft of 350 “nuclear pits” from the Pentax facility in Amarillo, Texas and the confirmed use of nuclear weapons in the demolition of the World Trade Center on 9/11, confirmed by multiple intelligence agencies and the Department of Energy/Sandia 9/11 report of 2003, a dozen nations could well provide facilities and expertise, nations like Germany or Saudi Arabia, for the continued production and deployment of these “city killers.” From a high-level source at an American nuclear lab, part of a group that believes these weapons were used as part of 9/11.
“These devices (thermometric nuclear weapons) are very good in an urban environment because they reduce fallout and mainly destroy steel infrastructure and power telecommunication systems only.EMP effect. (Melted cars on 911).The EMP effect is restricted to very long wave lengths due to the magnetic self-induction produced by the presence of the very heavy iron tamper surrounding the core. It is intended to melt steel, engine blocks and metal weapons, tanks, artillery, rifle barrels and set off ammunition. (Exploding bullets on 911)It will induce a very high intensity magnetic pulse into any electrically conductive metal. (iron, steel, copper, aluminum) The thicker the metal the more energy it will absorb. So very thin metal will only heat up but not melt. This is called the skin effect.In this case the steel structure of the buildings on 911 acted as a Faraday shield and absorbed most of the EMP pulse, turning it into more heat energy.”THE SCIENCE
The briefing materials leaked include technical drawings, discussion notes and detailed explanations on the chemistry and physics of thermometric weapons. From these materials as they apply to discussion notes from the DOE/Sandia 9/11 report:
“In this case the iron oxide is sucked into the plasma ball immediately vaporizing it into nano sized particles when cooled. Iron absorbs more neutrons than any other non-nuclear material. It also holds the neutrons until cooled. It is the best heat transfer system ever devised for a Thermobaric weapon system. The hot plasma is then shot up the central core vaporizing anything in contact with it.CONCLUSION
Over-pressure would be minimum and light flash would be entirely in the Infrared / UV spectrum. The irradiated iron oxide is the heat transfer system needed to vaporize the central core all the way up the tower and it explains the ground zero high thermal temperatures lasting for so long.
Ionized Iron oxide is the mechanical heat transfer medium needed to melt the steel. The thermal blast energy has to travel up to 1,000 feet. The nuclear fireball is only 150 feet maximum in size. In order to transfer all of its energy it needs a thermal moderator.
This is the job of the iron oxide to transfer the thermal radiation energy from the primary blast to the secondary load. It is referred to as impedance or thermal load matching. You ha(ve) to efficiently transfer the thermal energy of the fire ball to the secondary load being the steel columns and beams of the building that are over 1,000 feet away from top to bottom. This maximizes the weapons efficiency. Without the added plasma material added to the fire ball thermal transfer needed to melt the steel would be restricted to the outer most limits of the plasma ball or about 150 feet maximum. This may also enhance the EMP effect of the weapon.”
I am told the president of the United States will learn of these weapons programs only through reading this article. Even Wikipedia and Jane’s knew something was afoot, projects hidden from Congress, projects with a life of their own.
The issue isn’t secretly modified weapons, illegally designed and built but rather that we have no idea where they are, under whose control or how often they have been deployed.
What we do know is that they have been deployed. What we need to know is how to make sure they are never “deployed” again.
July 4, 2014
By Chris Floyd
Originally published at Empire Burlesque.
This month, the world has marked significant historical milestones: the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landing (and unmarked, except in Russia, the 70th anniversary of the Red Army’s Operation Bagration, the largest battle in world history, in which the Soviets broke the back of the Nazi army); and the 100th anniversary of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo, the spark that led to the First World War.
But this week saw the anniversary of another major turning point in modern history, a campaign that became — and remains — the enduring template of foreign policy for the world’s most powerful nation. We speak, of course, of the 60th anniversary of Washington’s “regime change” operation in Guatemala, overthrowing a democratically elected government.
It was not the first such American “intervention,” of course (and was preceded in the previous year by a more indirect role in overthrowing democracy in Iran), but it set in train more than six decades of violent attacks on democracy by the “leader of the free world.” (A fine tradition carried on by Barack Obama in Honduras.) In fact, a hatred of democracy — a genuine, visceral revulsion at the idea of people choosing their own leaders and their own form of society — has been a driving force in American foreign policy for generations. Democracy and freedom are only allowed if they lead to outcomes that advance whatever the agenda of the American elite happens to be at any given time. They hate democracy abroad; they hate it at home; they hate it everywhere, all the time. The historical record is remarkably consistent on this point.
And it hardly seems fair of me but I just can't read enough at Wall Street On Parade as they seem to be documenting daily everything that's giving me goosebumps minutely.
How about you?
It's still fairy tale city out there as far as I can see.
By Pam Martens: July 7, 2014
On June 2 of this year, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), a self-regulator of Wall Street’s broker-dealers, dropped a bombshell. For the first time, FINRA released trading data for Wall Street’s dark pools – unregistered stock exchanges that the SEC recklessly allows to trade stocks without making the bids and offers public, along with many other details.
The bombshell, that mainstream business media has yet to comprehend, was that the same mega Wall Street banks whose share prices crashed in the 2008 financial crisis are today not only running dark pools for stock trading but they’re trading the stock of their own corporate parents – to the tune of tens of millions of shares a week. Those Wall Street banks include JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Citigroup.
What could possibly go wrong in this arrangement?
Two days after Franklin D. Roosevelt was sworn in as President on March 4, 1933, he declared a nationwide banking holiday lasting to March 13 to stem a mushrooming banking panic and bank runs. The spark that ignited the accelerating panic was the collapse of the Bank of United States in 1930. At the time of its collapse, it was the fourth largest depositor bank in New York City, holding an astounding $268 million for over 400,000 small time depositors. It was the largest banking collapse in the nation’s history at that point.
The name of the bank, incorrectly suggesting it had U.S. government ties, fueled press coverage of the collapse and started other bank runs around the country.
The bank was founded by two men from the garment industry, Bernard Marcus and Saul Singer. Like the dangerous structure of today’s biggest deposit-taking banks, it had a stock trading arm, the Bankus Corp. It was through that trading unit that the bank manipulated the price of its own stock, using the money of depositors, and then used the shares as collateral for loans. Banking examiners later determined that other banks had acted similarly.
It was a clear-cut recipe for disaster that no regulator took action to preempt until, at the height of an economic collapse, Congress passed the Glass-Steagall Act on June 16, 1933, creating Federal Deposit Insurance for bank deposits while also banning banks taking insured deposits from owning stock trading houses.
That legislation protected a nation from the insatiable greed of stock speculators for almost 70 years until its repeal under the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act on November 12, 1999 under the Clinton administration and at the behest of Citigroup and other Wall Street mega banks who sold naïve editorial boards and a gullible Congress on the benefits of the one-stop banking supermarket model.
To be perfectly clear on this point, there is absolute historical proof that banks can and will manipulate their own share prices when they are allowed to operate stock trading venues in the dark. And, there is the very recent evidence of 2012 that JPMorgan lost $6.2 billion of its depositors’ funds in a high-risk derivatives trading scheme known as the London Whale. We also know that depositor funds were being used in some kind of stock trading operation at JPMorgan but the U.S. Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations has redacted the details.
On June 27, 2012, the editorial page editors of the New York Times finally admitted their horrifically bad call on urging the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, writing:
“While we are on this subject, add The New York Times editorial page to the list of the converted. We forcefully advocated the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act. ‘Few economic historians now find the logic behind Glass-Steagall persuasive,’ one editorial said in 1988. Another, in 1990, said that the notion that ‘banks and stocks were a dangerous mixture’ ‘makes little sense now.’
“That year, we also said that the Glass-Steagall Act was one of two laws that ‘stifle commercial banks.’ The other was the McFadden-Douglas Act, which prevented banks from opening branches across the nation.
“Having seen the results of this sweeping deregulation, we now think we were wrong to have supported it.”
What exactly were “the results of this sweeping deregulation” to which the New York Times referred. The editorial page editors were likely thinking of the insolvency of iconic Wall Street names like Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns and Citigroup and Merrill Lynch; the $182 billion bailout of AIG; the government takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and so forth.
But there is one more critical detail that has received too little attention. The stock market, under the repeal of Glass-Steagall, was insanely mispricing the value of the shares of stock of Wall Street’s trading houses.
On March 17, 2008, at the very beginning of the Wall Street mega-bank unraveling, we wrote the following about the perils our nation was facing as a result of the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act:
“If ever there was evidence that America is now facing that peril, it was the most recent news that the Bush administration’s much touted ‘free and efficient market’ had priced Bear Stearns at $30 a share at the close of trading on Friday, March 14, 2008 but on further examination of its books over the weekend, it was valued at $2 a share and absorbed by JPMorgan at that price.” (JPMorgan later raised the price to $10 but it was still two-thirds below Bearn Stearns’market price on March 14, 2008.)
Then there was the 5-day share price evaporation at Citigroup from November 17-21 of 2008. We wrote as follows at the time:
“Citigroup’s five-day death spiral last week was surreal. I know 20-something newlyweds who have better financial backup plans than this global banking giant. On Monday came the Town Hall meeting with employees to announce the sacking of 52,000 workers. (Aren’t Town Hall meetings supposed to instill confidence?) On Tuesday came the announcement of Citigroup losing 53 per cent of an internal hedge fund’s money in a month and bringing $17 billion of assets that had been hiding out in the Cayman Islands back onto its balance sheet.
Wednesday brought the cheery news that a law firm was alleging that Citigroup peddled something called the MAT Five Fund as ‘safe’ and ‘secure’ only to watch it lose 80 per cent of its value. On Thursday, Saudi Prince Walid bin Talal, from that visionary country that won’t let women drive cars, stepped forward to reassure us that Citigroup is ‘undervalued’ and he was buying more shares. Not having any Princes of our own, we tend to associate them with fairytales. The next day the stock dropped another 20 percent with 1.02 billion shares changing hands. It closed at $3.77.
“Altogether, the stock lost 60 per cent last week and 87 percent this year. The company’s market value has now fallen from more than $250 billion in 2006 to $20.5 billion on Friday, November 21, 2008. That’s $4.5 billion less than Citigroup owes taxpayers from the U.S. Treasury’s bailout program.”
Was Citigroup allowed to fail? Was Citigroup closed by regulators? Did anyone go to jail at Citigroup as was the case at the Bank of United States? None of those things occurred. Instead, after losing 60 percent of its market value in one week, the U.S. government chipped in another $20 billion in equity into Citigroup, bringing the total to $45 billion, and then provided an asset guarantee of over $300 billion. The New York Fed did its part with over $2 trillion in below-market rate loans to Citigroup.
Which brings us to today, with a mainstream business media that has covered this epic tale of deceit and hubris and financial collapse for five long, agonizing years and yet this corporate media sees no alarm bells, no warning sirens from the fact that Citigroup and other Wall Street trading houses that control the vast majority of banking deposits in the United States are trading the shares of their own bank stocks in their own in-house, unregulated, dark pool trading venues.
By Pam Martens and Russ Martens
July 3, 2014
Let us see if we have this straight: Facebook is a company that has been publicly traded for just slightly more than two years. It pays no dividend so its key attraction for its shareholders is that it knows how to run and grow its business. Its initial public offering launch was one of the biggest fiascos in modern finance. Its core asset from which its revenues flow is based on the loyalty and growth of its user base upon whom it decided to conduct secret psychological experiments – and then publish the findings.
But wait. It gets worse.
Facebook’s secret human lab rat study on a self-described “massive” 689,003 of its users was published just last month in the Proceedings of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences under the title: “Experimental Evidence of Massive-Scale Emotional Contagion Through Social Networks.”
The study said the significant finding was that “emotional states can be transferred to others via emotional contagion, leading people to experience the same emotions without their awareness. We provide experimental evidence that emotional contagion occurs without direct interaction between people (exposure to a friend expressing an emotion is sufficient), and in the complete absence of nonverbal cues.”
According to Facebook, this is what they did to manipulate the behavior of its unpaid and involuntary human lab rats:
“In an experiment with people who use Facebook, we test whether emotional contagion occurs outside of in-person interaction between individuals by reducing the amount of emotional content in the News Feed. When positive expressions were reduced, people produced fewer positive posts and more negative posts; when negative expressions were reduced, the opposite pattern occurred.
These results indicate that emotions expressed by others on Facebook influence our own emotions, constituting experimental evidence for massive-scale contagion via social networks. This work also suggests that, in contrast to prevailing assumptions, in-person interaction and non-verbal cues are not strictly necessary for emotional contagion, and that the observation of others’ positive experiences constitutes a positive experience for people.”
Facebook has observed along with the rest of America the fallout from the revelations of secret government surveillance of its citizens. Somehow the public outcry over secret surveillance did not send a “non-verbal cue” to Facebook that there might be an outcry to revelations that it was using an algorithm to manipulate the emotional mood of its users without their knowledge or informed consent.
What if some of these users were under psychiatric care for depression? What if they had just lost their job, or their marriage, or their home, or experienced the death of a loved one? How outrageously irresponsible is it to secretly attempt to manipulate the mood of an already depressed person to a more negative state?
But wait. It gets worse.
In 1994, the CIA declassified a secret paper outlining other attempts to manipulate a person’s behavior without their knowledge. The document, “The Operational Potential of Subliminal Perception” by Richard Gafford notes the following:
“Usually the purpose is to produce behavior of which the individual is unaware. The use of subliminal perception, on the other hand, is a device to keep him unaware of the source of his stimulation. The desire here is not to keep him unaware of what he is doing, but rather to keep him unaware of why he is doing it, by masking the external cue or message with subliminal presentation and so stimulating an unrecognized motive.”
We’re also informed by the CIA that “The operational potential of other techniques for stimulating a person to take a specific controlled action without his being aware of the stimulus, or the source of stimulation, has in the past caught the attention of imaginative intelligence officers.”
And, the CIA offers some other helpful tips that Facebook may want to consider in its next human lab rat study:
“In order to develop the subliminal perception process for use as a reliable operational technique, it would be necessary a) to define the composition of a subliminal cue or message which will trigger an appropriate preexisting motive, b) to determine the limits of intensity between which this stimulus is effective but not consciously perceived, c) to determine what preexisting motive will produce the desired abnormal action and under what conditions it is operative, and d) to overcome the defenses aroused by consciousness of the action itself.”
But wait. It gets worse.
The jury is still out on whether this study had a military connection. The original press release issued by Cornell University, which was involved in the research study, indicated that the U.S. Army Research Office was one of the funders of the study. After there was a public uproar about the study itself, this correction appeared at the bottom of the press release:
“Correction: An earlier version of this story reported that the study was funded in part by the James S. McDonnell Foundation and the Army Research Office. In fact, the study received no external funding.”
While questions continue to swirl around this dubious study, one thing is not in doubt: Facebook has a unique talent for brand suicide.
The saddest part of the next story is that it's so easy to find out the amount that they earned/paid out (even if it's only approximate). You'd have thought it would have been harder in light of the "poor talk," but maybe that's the price politicians who appeal to the poor pay. They have to show empathy with their exact plight? (Shades of hell.)
By Pam Martens and Russ Martens
July 2, 2014
In an interview with ABC’s Diane Sawyer on June 9, Hillary Clinton said that she and former President Bill Clinton were “dead broke” when they left the White House in January 2001. The remark was made in this context by the former first lady: “We came out of the White House not only dead broke, but in debt. We had no money when we got there, and we struggled to, you know, piece together the resources for mortgages, for houses, for Chelsea’s education. You know, it was not easy.”
The remark is causing a storm of criticism, both for its lack of veracity and for its insensitivity to what actual financial struggle means in a nation with 46 million people living below the poverty level – including almost one in every five children.
CounterPunch’s Jeffrey St. Clair has a particularly poignant full page article in the current issue of the progressive CounterPunch Magazine (paid subscription required). St. Clair writes, tongue-in-cheek, about Hillary’s exit from the White House: “With no life-ring to cling to, Hillary was forced to work furiously to save her family from a Dickensian existence of privation and destitution.”
Former Presidents are not “dead broke” by any possible interpretation. They receive a pension, which is currently 10 times the poverty level for a family of three; monies for staff, travel, an office, postage and supplies and Secret Service protection for themselves and their spouse.
The President’s pension kicks in as soon as he leaves office.
According to the Congressional Research Service, former President Clinton received in pension and other perks, adjusted for 2013 dollars, $335,000 in fiscal year 2001; $1.285 million in 2002, and over $1 million every year thereafter through 2011. Since 2011, the outlay by the taxpayer for former President Clinton has been just under $1 million. Including what is budgeted for fiscal year 2014, Clinton will have received a taxpayer outlay of $15,937,000 since leaving the White House in 2001.
According to the Congressional Research Service, for fiscal year 2014, “office space rental payments were the highest category of cost for former Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush” with former President Clinton’s office budgeted at $450,000 and former President George W. Bush’s budgeted at $440,000. Both former Presidents Clinton and G.W. Bush have offices of over 8000 square feet, more than three times the size of many middle class homes.
A former President’s pension is equal to pay for Cabinet Secretaries, which was $199,700 in calendar year 2013 and set to rise to $201,700 this year.
Both of the Clintons likely knew they would become multi-millionaires very rapidly upon leaving the White House. Just sixteen days after George W. Bush was sworn in on January 20, 2001, Bill Clinton delivered his first speech for $125,000 to Wall Street brokerage and investment bank Morgan Stanley. The speeches continued every few days, with the former President earning an eye-popping $1.475 million in just his first two months out of office.
The price per speech has reached $250,000, $300,000 even $500,000 at times. The Clintons earned millions more in book advances and royalties.
According to the joint tax return released by the Clintons, in that 2001 year of financial desperation, the couple reported unadjusted gross income of $15.6 million in business income (mostly from Bill Clinton’s speeches); pension payments of $152,700; dividends of $172,621 and wages of $154,952.
It is true that the Clintons had legal debts when they left the White House but they were miniscule compared to the former President’s earning power on the speech circuit.
PolitiFact also notes the following:
“…the federal disclosure form does not include homes used for personal use and the Clintons owned two. In 1999, they bought a five-bedroom home in Chappaqua, N.Y., for $1.7 million. In December 2000, just as they were leaving the White House, they bought a seven-bedroom house near Embassy Row in Washington, D.C. The price was $2.85 million. While those homes had mortgages, which would increase the amount of the Clintons’ debt, the family also had equity in them. The New York Times reported that the Clintons put $855,000 down on the Washington house, for instance. That equity would have covered the low-end debt estimate of about $500,000.”
One institution that did not believe the Clintons were “dead broke” was Citigroup. According to PolitiFact, Citigroup provided a $1.995 million mortgage to allow the Clintons to buy their Washington, D.C. residence in 2000. That liability does not pop up on the Clinton disclosure documents until 2011, showing a 30-year mortgage at 5.375 percent ranging in face amount from $1 million to $5 million from CitiMortgage. The disclosure says the mortgage was taken out in 2001.
Citigroup also paid Bill Clinton hundreds of thousands of dollars in speaking fees after he left the White House. It committed $5.5 million to the Clinton Global Initiative — a program which brings global leaders together annually to make action commitments. Citigroup employees have also been major campaign funders to Hillary Clinton.
And, Citigroup is one other thing: it was the major beneficiary of the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, the depression era investor protection legislation which for almost seven decades had kept the financial system safe from the Wall Street greed and gambling w(hich) led to the 1929 crash. Just 9 years after its 1999 repeal, Wall Street collapsed in just as spectacular a fashion as in 1929 and the early 30s.
Sandy Weill, the CEO at Citigroup who lobbied for this repeal, was given a commemorative pen from the Clinton signing ceremony which repealed the legislation. Robert Rubin, Clinton’s Treasury Secretary who lobbied for the repeal, was given a non-management post on the Board of Citigroup which paid him over $115 million over the next decade.
The Clintons, who now have a net worth in the range of $100 million, have done very well for themselves with the help of their friends on Wall Street. The country – not so much.
By Pam Martens: July 1, 2014
You know there is something different in the air when Rand Paul is railing against “fat cats” and a fat cat is worrying aloud about pitchforks in Politico Magazine.
It all harkens back to one of the greatest grassroots awareness campaigns in history, variously called Occupy Wall Street or “We Are the 99 Percent.” In a messy, tarp-filled outpost in Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan, the message of enforced inequality via the 99 percent brand was plastered across posters, hand-made t-shirts, street puppets, and even flashed onto skyscrapers in a creative blend of marketing savvy and social activism. From there, it tweeted around the world.
This was creative destruction at its finest: calling out a failed system of crony capitalism that was only working for the 1 percent while creatively protesting for change in the streets – the only method left since the system was metastasizing under the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision which opened the spigots to a flood of corporate money in elections.
Capitalists supposedly love creative destruction where failed systems and business models are meant to collapse in order to be replaced with more efficient, innovative ones. But Occupy Wall Street was crushed with the brutality of a wrecking ball and the collaboration of a vast surveillance network.
The Department of Homeland Security funded a high-tech, joint spy center in the heart of Wall Street where the New York Federal Reserve, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and other Wall Street mega banks had their own personnel working alongside NYPD officers to spy on the activities of Occupy Wall Street protesters as well as law abiding citizens on the streets.
Thanks to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) demands made by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF), we learned that the Department of Homeland Security obsessed over the social media savvy of the protesters and evaluated daily the media coverage being given to the movement.
In one October 2011 memo, an agent wrote:
“Social media and the organic emergence of online communities have driven the rapid expansion of the OWS movement. In New York, OWS leaders have also formed ad hoc committees to organize protesters and manage communications, logistics, and security. The OWS encampment in Zuccotti Park features a medical station, distribution point for food and water, and a media center complete with generators and wireless Internet. Organizers hold general assembly meetings twice a day and have established committees and working groups including an Internet Working Group and a Direct Action Committee, which plans protest activities and works to maintain peaceful and controlled demonstrations. This high level of organization has allowed OWS to sustain its operations, disseminate its message, and garner increasing levels of support.”
Manhattan, of course, has one of the greatest concentrations of the one percent in the world and one of their own, billionaire Michael Bloomberg, was serving as Mayor at the time of the Occupy encampment in Zuccotti Park. The fear of the peaceful movement quickly turning into an exponentially mushrooming mob branding pitchforks was on the minds of the billionaires.
The man now speaking aloud about the pitchfork concern to his self-described fellow “plutocrats” in Politico Magazine is venture capitalist Nick Hanauer, an early investor in Amazon. Hanauer writes:
“What everyone wants to believe is that when things reach a tipping point and go from being merely crappy for the masses to dangerous and socially destabilizing, that we’re somehow going to know about that shift ahead of time. Any student of history knows that’s not the way it happens. Revolutions, like bankruptcies, come gradually, and then suddenly. One day, somebody sets himself on fire, then thousands of people are in the streets, and before you know it, the country is burning. And then there’s no time for us to get to the airport and jump on our Gulfstream V's and fly to New Zealand. That’s the way it always happens. If inequality keeps rising as it has been, eventually it will happen.
We will not be able to predict when, and it will be terrible — for everybody. But especially for us.”
Hanauer’s missive, which currently has an astonishing 4,786 comments at Politico, was posted at Information Clearing House where one commenter, “Upstream,” threw cold water on the plan to escape to New Zealand, writing: “… they should not be too surprised to be met at the airport here in New Zealand with pitchforks.”
If one were to compile a timeline, it would confirm that the Occupy movement, through much human suffering in outdoor encampments in frigid temperatures, brutal arrests at the hands of a billionaires’ police state, and incessant snark from Fox News, built the foundation for the growing debate about the unprecedented income and wealth inequality in America.
Consider how similar the message of progressive Robert Reich is to the message of billionaire Nick Hanauer. Reich wrote on his blog on February 7, 2014:
“Yet too many still believe in trickle-down economics — that the wealthy are the job creators, and tax cuts for big corporations and the rich will boost the economy. The real job creators are the vast middle class and the poor — when they have enough money in their pockets. That’s the only way out of the vicious cycle we’re now in.”
Nick Hanauer writes at Politico:
“Which is why the fundamental law of capitalism must be: If workers have more money, businesses have more customers. Which makes middle-class consumers, not rich businesspeople like us, the true job creators. Which means a thriving middle class is the source of American prosperity, not a consequence of it. The middle class creates us rich people, not the other way around.”
And now, of course, the bestselling book from economist Thomas Piketty, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, with its 200 years of cold, hard data is creating insurmountable problems for the “we built it” crowd and spreading the wealth and income inequality debate around the globe.
Jeffery Haas, in a comment posted under Hanauer’s article at Politico summed up the mood of a great part of America, writing:
“Trust me Nick, it’s not that people WANT to bring out the pitchforks. People want to work, but they want to be rewarded for their work. They want to climb that same ladder you climbed. They know that they may not reach the same dizzying heights that you ascended to, but Nick, the general feeling down here is that some of your friends are either furiously sawing the rungs off the ladders or pulling the ladders up altogether once they get over that wall.”
Grab a box of tissues and read the same message of Jeffery Haas with the untidy specifics from our fellow citizens living through this plutocrat nightmare.
And you thought no one (especially not I) was going to continue mentioning all those young banker deaths at JP Morgan Chase?
These guys have got all the moves and then some.
How about death derivatives?
And you thought bankers might lose money.
By Pam Martens and Russ Martens
June 30, 2014
A man with a long history of keeping big bank secrets safe from the public’s prying eyes has denied the appeal filed by Wall Street On Parade to obtain specifics about the worker deaths upon which JPMorgan Chase pockets the life insurance money each year.
According to its financial filings, as of December 31, 2013, JPMorgan held $17.9 billion in Bank-Owned Life Insurance (BOLI) assets, a dark corner of the insurance market that allows banks to take out life insurance policies on their workers, secretly pocket the death benefits, and receive generous tax perks subsidized by the U.S. taxpayer.
According to experts, JPMorgan could potentially hold upwards of $179 billion of life insurance in force on its current and former workers, based on the size of its BOLI assets.
The man who denied Wall Street On Parade’s appeal is Daniel P. Stipano, who told us by letter on June 20, 2014 that he had 450 pages of responsive material but it was not going to be released to us or the public. (See OCC Response to Appeal from Wall Street On Parade Re JPMorgan Banker Death Bets.)
Stipano is, by title, the Deputy Chief Counsel of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), the U.S. regulator of national banks, including those that were at the center of the 2008 financial collapse, mortgage and foreclosure frauds, and which continue to violate the nation’s laws with regularity.
According to Stipano’s current bio, he also functions as the supervisor of the OCC’s Enforcement and Compliance, Litigation, Community and Consumer Law, and Administrative and Internal Law Divisions. That’s a lot of hats for one man to wear at a regulator of serially malfeasant mega banks.
Stipano also appears to be the decider-in-chief when it comes to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to the OCC. He also functions as a key decision maker when it comes to denying documents to U.S. Senators to allow them to perform their oversight duties. (One would certainly think that a Federal regulator would establish an independent office to handle FOIA and Congressional information requests.)
Stipano is the man who played an outsized hand in the scandalous structure of the “Independent Foreclosure Review,” where the major Wall Street banks who had illegally foreclosed on families were allowed to hire their favorite, deeply conflicted consultants to review the foreclosure files for wrongdoing, set the terms of the consulting contracts and pay out $2 billion to the consultants before homeowners had received a dime — and a year had been wasted on bogus reviews.
The end result of that hubris, as Senator Elizabeth Warren revealed last year, was that the actual banks engaged in the illegal foreclosure activities, not the so-called Independent Foreclosure Review consultants, were allowed by the OCC to tally up and classify their own wrongdoing.
One of the “independent” consultants that the OCC rubber-stamped for hire by the banks was Promontory Financial Group. As Wall Street On Parade reported in April of last year:
“In the engagement letter dated September 6, 2011 between Bank of America and Promontory Financial Group, the ‘independent’ consultant it hired to conduct its foreclosure investigation, Promontory attested to regulators that: ‘Promontory does not have an ongoing relationship with BAC [Bank of America], nor does it act in any advocacy capacity on its behalf.’
“The veracity of that statement is severely undercut by public records. While it was denying any ongoing relationship to regulators, Promontory actually had a large scale re-branding and turnaround contract with Bank of America that had been in place since May of 2011, four months prior to its engagement letter to conduct a government investigation into the bank’s foreclosure abuses.”
There were two other interesting facts about Promontory: Stipano’s two former bosses were employed there: Eugene Ludwig, former head of the OCC and Julie Williams, former Chief Counsel at the OCC. Of the estimated $2 billion paid out to the “independent” consultants, Promontory received $928 million.
On April 11, 2013, Senator Elizabeth Warren had this to say to Stipano and a representative from the Federal Reserve at a Senate hearing on the Independent Foreclosure Review:
“Over the last few months, Congressman Elijah Cummings and I have requested documents from your agencies regarding the basic data and the processes of the Independent Foreclosure Review. We made 14 specific requests to you in January, and despite multiple letters back and forth and multiple meetings, you have provided only one full response, three partial or minimal responses, and no response to nine of our requests. You have provided little specific information on what the review actually found, such as the number of improper foreclosures, the amount and number of inflated fees, or the extent of abusive practices by each of the mortgage servicers.”
During the course of the hearing, Senator Warren became so frustrated with Stipano’s insistence that illegal activities of banks, if ferreted out by bank examiners, was subject to “privilege,” that she blurted out: “So unless someone throws a rock through the window with this information tied to it, you will not release it, is that what you are saying?”
Wall Street On Parade received the same fundamentally flawed logic in Stipano’s letter of June 20, 2014. Stipano writes:
“The OCC has no responsive records pertaining to the number of employees insured by JPMC under BOLI policies, the face amount of the policies, the rank of employees who are insured, or the number of deceased who have generated death benefits under the policies. The OCC does have documents provided by the bank to OCC examiners during examinations that are responsive to the aspects of your request dealing with revenues and peer data…As previously stated, all of this responsive information is properly exempt pursuant to FOIA exemptions 4 and 8.”
The absurdity of Stipano’s position rests in this paragraph:
“All of the information you requested was either provided by JPMC to the OCC or created by the OCC in the course of its examination of JPMC. Therefore, all of the responsive information is related to the OCC’s examination of JPMC and examination reports prepared by the OCC, and it is exempt from disclosure under the FOIA pursuant to Exemption 8. The application of Exemption 8 to the responsive materials promotes “frank cooperation” between JPMC and the OCC…”
Simple translation: JPMorgan Chase can be trusted to engage in “frank cooperation” with its regulators as long as the bank and the regulator keep the public in the dark about the details of corruption festering inside the bank.
Putting aside for the moment the public’s right to know if the same too-big-to-manage banks that ushered in the worst economic crash since the Great Depression in 2008 are gaming the system again, there is simply no basis at all to believe that JPMorgan Chase engages in “frank cooperation” with its U.S. regulators, regardless of how much is secreted away for them.
As Stipano well knows or should know, on October 28, 2008, JPMorgan turned in Bernie Madoff for potentially running a fraud, citing numerous alarm bells and calling his returns too good to be true.
It filed its “Suspicious Activity Report” not with U.S. regulators but with the United Kingdom’s Serious Organized Crime Agency – leaving its U.S. regulators in the dark until Madoff confessed.
On March 15, 2013, when the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations released its report on how JPMorgan Chase had gambled and lost over $6 billion in depositor funds by making high-risk investments in exotic derivatives, the report specifically addressed how JPMorgan had kept the OCC in the dark and how the OCC had been blindsided:
“JPMorgan Chase dodged OCC oversight of its Synthetic Credit Portfolio [SCP] by not alerting the OCC to the nature and extent of the portfolio; failing to inform the OCC when the SCP grew tenfold in 2011 and tripled in 2012; omitting SCP specific data from routine reports sent to the OCC; omitting mention of the SCP’s growing size, complexity, risk profile, and losses; responding to OCC information requests with blanket assurances and unhelpful aggregate portfolio data; and initially denying portfolio valuation problems.
“The OCC failed to investigate CIO trading activity that triggered multiple, sustained risk limit breaches; tolerated bank reports that omitted portfolio-specific performance data from the CIO; failed to notice when some monthly CIO reports stopped arriving; failed to question a new VaR [Value at Risk] model that dramatically lowered the SCP’s risk profile; and initially accepted blanket assurances by the bank that concerns about the SCP were unfounded.”
Given this recent history between the OCC and JPMorgan Chase, the press has every right to demand and receive answers when we observe a vast, dark industry with ghoulish overtones going unregulated.
In our May 12, 2014 appeal to the OCC, we pointed out the following:
“Since December of 2013, JPMorgan Chase has experienced five unusual deaths among current workers in their 30s and one unusual death of a 28-year old former worker whose brother currently works for JPMorgan and was cited by name in the U.S. Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations’ report of JPMorgan’s London Whale trading debacle…
“Three of the six JPMorgan-related deaths cited in the article referenced above were allegedly from leaps from buildings in London, Hong Kong and Manhattan, respectively. None of JPMorgan’s peer banks — such as Citigroup, Morgan Stanley or Goldman Sachs – have publicly reported any suicides in the past six months as far as I’m aware. A 12-month review of public death notices among Citigroup employees revealed no cluster of deaths of young men in their 30s. (JPMorgan is reported to have 260,000 employees versus Citigroup’s reported 251,000.)…
“Why young men in their 30s are dying at JPMorgan but not at its peer banks is a matter of critical public health and safety concern. It is against public policy to keep the records secret. As the Chief Medical Examiner of Connecticut (where one of the deaths occurred) states on its web site: ‘Medico-legal investigations also protect the public health: by diagnosing previously unsuspected contagious disease; by identifying hazardous environmental conditions in the workplace, in the home, and elsewhere; by identifying trends such as changes in numbers of homicides, traffic fatalities, and drug and alcohol related deaths; and by identifying new types and forms of drugs appearing in the state, or existing drugs/substances becoming new subjects of abuse.’
“Additionally, research into this matter has revealed that just four of Wall Street’s largest banks hold a total of $68.1 billion in Bank-Own Life Insurance assets. Using a legal expert’s estimate that there is frequently a 10-to-1 ratio between assets and life insurance in force, this could potentially translate into these four banks holding $681 billion in life insurance policies on their workers – policies which pay the corporation the death benefit income tax free.”
Wall Street On Parade previously filed a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request with the New York State Insurance Department. Amazingly, it responded that it “does not have any of the records” for JPMorgan’s BOLI policies, a company headquartered in its state with tens of billions of life insurance policies on its workers. (See NYS Department of Financial Services/NYS Insurance Dept Response to Freedom of Information Law Request by Wall Street On Parade Seeking Information on Life Insurance Held by JPMorgan on Employees Lives.)
Perhaps New York State regulators do not even know this type of bank life insurance exists. In New York, nothing is really “official” until it appears in the Old Gray Lady. The New York Times made BOLI official just recently, on June 23, 2014, with an article by David Gelles.
Two days after Gelles’ article, Teresa Tritch continued the topic on the New York Times editorial page editor’s blog, writing: “It’s not illegal, but it’s dubious in the extreme.” Tritch goes on to state that “At the very least, there needs to be better disclosure” since it is the public that is subsidizing the generous tax breaks on the policies. (Both the death benefit as well as the cash buildup in the policies are received tax free to the corporation. If the policy were to be cashed in prior to the death of the insured, back taxes on the gains would have to be paid.)
If the OCC has no records pertaining to the number of employees insured by JPMorgan under BOLI policies; has no idea as to the face amount of the policies or the rank of employees who are insured, then it cannot possibly know if JPMorgan is complying with the 2006 law that limits this insurance to just the highest-paid 35 percent of employees.
If the OCC does not know “the number of deceased who have generated death benefits under the policies,” it could not possibly spot a pattern of suspicious deaths. (Given its obfuscation with the Senate during the Independent Foreclosure Review matter, is there any reason to believe it would bring troublesome findings to the attention of Congress under any circumstances?)
If the OCC is in the dark about much of this insurance and the key insurance regulator in New York State is as well, who exactly is regulating this vast dark area of tax-subsidized death profiteering?
We suspect Wall Street’s powerful lobbyists have imposed this dark curtain because BOLI is exempt from the Volcker Rule – these insurance assets can, and are, remaining under bank control and invested in high-risk instruments as proprietary bets for the house – essentially repealing the Volcker Rule and potentially laying the foundation for the next Wall Street blow up.
The OCC says that it does have documents provided by JPMorgan “that are responsive” to the revenues JPMorgan receives from BOLI policies,” but it says those are privileged as well. This is akin to telling the public, whose pensions and 401(k) mutual funds are holding millions of shares of JPMorgan Chase stock, that it’s none of your business how JPMorgan Chase generates its revenues.
According to OCC thinking, shareholders are not entitled to know to what extent the business model of this mega-global behemoth is built around providing prudent consumer and business loans or is built around tax dodges and longevity bets on the lives of its workers.
Given the financial crash of 2008, the Bernie Madoff decades-long Ponzi scheme, the decidedly not “independent” Independent Foreclosure Review, and the London Whale debacle, regulators have not earned the right to tell the public “just trust us.”
Banking Deaths: Why JPMorgan Stands Out
Suspicious Deaths of Bankers Are Now Classified as “Trade Secrets” by Federal Regulator
Swiss Insurers and JPMorgan Have More Than “Suicides” in Common
JPMorgan Vice President’s Death in London Shines a Light on the Bank’s Close Ties to the CIA
Suspicious Death of JPMorgan Vice President, Gabriel Magee, Under Investigation in London
As Bank Deaths Continue to Shock, Documents Reveal JPMorgan Has Been Patenting Death Derivatives