This is especially true of businesses which aren’t natural monopolies: selling weapons to the government, for obvious reasons, or; selling music, which could be copied by anyone (say hello to copyright laws); being a lawyer and not wanting too many other people to act as lawyers (say hello to bar exams and law schools); selling genetically modified food of which people are scared (make GMO labeling illegal). Creating money out of thin air, which is what banks, brokers and so on do, might be considered the ultimate monopoly. They sure don’t want Joe Blow to be able to say “I have one hundred thousand dollars, and if Goldman Sachs (in the 00′s) can create money through leverage at 41/1, I can too.”
Creating and lending money is a valuable perogative, one worth defending.
And what if everything goes wrong? What if, despite all your money, and all the defenses you’ve bought, you lose everything anyway?
Be clear: This is what happened in 2007 and 2008. If you take into account counterparty risk and you mark assets to market (value them at what they could be sold for), every bank and major brokerage in the United States, and probably all of those in Europe, was bankrupt.
Bankrupt. Even the ones who made the right bets, like Goldman Sachs: because if all their counterparties go under, so do they.
This sort of risk, the kind that is backed up by the full credit of the United States, requires owning government. It requires knowing the central bank is yours and will act to save you.
The first thing a capitalist does when he or she gets rich enough, is buy the system.
From intern to senior analyst in five years. Wheeler dealers unite?
Prior to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Emerson successfully portrayed himself as a credible terrorism expert, thanks in part to his 1994 documentary, "Terrorists Among Us: Jihad in America," which aired on "PBS Frontline." His work at the Investigative Project on Terrorism, which he founded shortly after the airing of "Terrorists Among Us," helped fuel speculation linking University of South Florida professor Sami Al-Arian to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and the Holy Land Foundation to Hamas. In addition to Kohlmann’s, Emerson also helped launch the career of Rita Katz, who runs the SITE Intelligence Group. . . .
(In recent years, while Kohlmann and Katz have maintained close relationships with the U.S. government and news media, Emerson has seen his star fade due to two embarrassing Fox News appearances — one in 2013, when he claimed a U.S. government official told him that a Saudi national initially suspected in the Boston Marathon bombings was being deported on national security grounds, and another this year, when he said Birmingham, England, was “totally Muslim” and off limits to non-Muslims.)
While at the Investigative Project on Terrorism, Kohlmann wrote what would become his book, Al-Qaida’s Jihad in Europe: The Afghan-Bosnian Network. He initially submitted the manuscript to the University of Pennsylvania Press, where Sageman, who would become a chief critic of Kohlmann’s work as a government expert, was asked to serve on a peer review panel. He recommended against publishing the book. Kohlmann found a publisher in the United Kingdom, Oxford International Publishers, which had no affiliation with the University of Oxford. . . .
With his book and stint with the Investigative Project on Terrorism as credentials, Kohlmann became an expert witness for the Justice Department and a consultant for the FBI. An FBI agent described the baby-faced expert as “the Doogie Howser of Terrorism,” and a George Washington University law professor described Kohlmann to "New York" magazine as having been “grown hydroponically in the basement of the Bush Justice Department.”
Among Kohlmann’s earliest cases was the 2006 prosecution of Yassin Aref and Mohammed Hossain in Albany, New York. It was the first FBI counterterrorism sting to use Shahed Hussain, an aggressive criminal-turned-informant who was involved in the investigations of the so-called Newburgh Four — a sting involving four defendants and a plot to bomb synagogues in the Bronx and attack a nearby airport — and of Khalifah al-Akili, a botched sting operation in Pittsburgh in which the FBI informants’ covers were blown. . . .
The government initially claimed that Jamaat-e-Islami, a political party in Bangladesh, was linked to terrorism through a proxy organization, Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen. Rohan Gunaratna, a terrorism scholar at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, was originally going to testify to this connection as an expert. But the government instead brought in Kohlmann.
Kevin A. Luibrand, a lawyer for Hossain, challenged Kohlmann’s knowledge as an expert.
“Can you name any of the major political parties in Bangladesh from the year 2000 to 2004?” Luibrand asked Kohlmann in a deposition.
“Other than Jamaat-e-Islami?” Kohlmann asked.
“That’s — I’m not familiar off the top of my head,” Kohlmann said.
“Have you ever heard of an organization known as the Bangladesh National Party?” Luibrand followed.
“Do you know what it is?”
“I’m assuming it’s a political party, but again — the name vaguely sounds familiar but …” Kohlmann answered.
“Do you know what, if anything, it stands for politically within Bangladesh?” Luibrand asked, cutting off Kohlmann’s answer.
“Sorry, can’t tell ya,” Kohlmann said.
The Bangladesh Nationalist Party, to which Luibrand was referring, is one of the two largest political parties in Bangladesh and allied with Jamaat-e-Islami.
“You can’t tell me because you don’t know?” Luibrand asked Kohlmann in a follow-up question.
“I don’t know off the top of my head,” Kohlmann said.
Kohlmann also admitted in the deposition that he had never written about Jamaat-e-Islami of Bangladesh. Luibrand asked to have Kohlmann disqualified as an expert, arguing that Kohlmann was unable to demonstrate knowledge of the groups he was testifying about. A judge denied the request and allowed Kohlmann to testify. Aref and Hossain were convicted and sentenced to 15 years in prison.
From there, Kohlmann’s career as a government witness skyrocketed. In all, he has testified in more than 30 trials, including the trial of the Fort Dix Five, a group of men who allegedly planned to attack a U.S. military base in New Jersey; of medical doctor Rafiq Abdus Sabir, who was caught in a sting swearing allegiance to al Qaeda; and of Mohamed Osman Mohamud, who plotted with undercover FBI agents to bomb a Christmas tree-lighting ceremony in Portland, Oregon. Among more recent court appearances, Kohlmann testified in the Tampa, Florida, trial of Sami Osmakac, a counterterrorism sting target FBI agents described privately as a “retarded fool” whose targets for an attack were “wishy-washy.”
At the same time, Kohlmann has amassed what he has described as seven terabytes of information related to terrorism and illicit activity. He has described the database as proprietary, and he’s never been asked to turn it over as part of his expert testimony. He also leverages it, according to court testimony, to provide information and services to private sector clients; as of 2014, working for the government represented only about 40 percent of Kohlmann’s income.
Sageman, one of Kohlmann’s harshest critics, alleges that the use of this database in trial testimony and expert reports lacks transparency and makes it difficult, if not impossible, to challenge his conclusions. “He uses the appearance of scholarship, such as footnote references, but is extremely selective in his references basing them not on actual scholarly work, but on anecdotes from obscure references that he often has privileged access to, preventing other scholars from checking the context of the reference,” Sageman wrote in a court report.
Sageman also alleged in the same report that Kohlmann views his expert testimony not as well-researched and settled science to be discussed honestly at trial, but as a kind of information clay to be molded for the prosecution’s benefit. Referring to a conversation he had with Kohlmann over lunch, Sageman wrote: “He selects what is most supportive for the side that retains him. Indeed, he told me so at one time when I challenged him about his testimony in the [Hammad] Khurshid case in Copenhagen, because he had neglected to mention important facts under oath. He justified his one-sidedness by saying that it was an adversarial process and it was up to the defense attorneys to cross examine him.”
Among the topics Kohlmann often testifies to is his theory of homegrown terrorists — a series of indicators showing that a disillusioned individual living in the United States likely has stepped over the line to become a terrorist. He has testified that the indicators include choosing a scheme to travel abroad to fight or launch an attack in the United States; acquiring training material and propaganda from the Internet or elsewhere; adherence to an extreme ideology, particularly radical Islam; using “logistical subterfuge” by, for example, encrypting electronic communications or taking indirect routes when traveling; and attempts to contact like-minded individuals. “Not every case necessarily has one of these or all of these, but you do tend to see these factors pop up again and again,” Kohlmann testified in a 2011 hearing in the case of the so-called Triangle Terror Group in North Carolina. “And these tend to be the most definitive factors leading to judge whether something is, indeed, a valid home-grown terrorist or home-grown extremist network or violent extremist network.”
However, the number of indicators in Kohlmann’s theory appears to be malleable, depending on the case. In the North Carolina trial, he testified to five factors. Two years later, in court testimony in the 2013 case of Mohamed Osman Mohamud in Portland, Oregon, Kohlmann listed six factors. In a hearing in the Triangle Terror Group case, Kohlmann conceded that his terrorism indicators, and his methodology in general, are not supported by any statistical analysis that would prove their veracity. . . .
And it’s not just that Kohlmann chooses not to subject his theory to rigorous testing; he doesn’t seem know much about social science research at all. In a July 2014 hearing in the case of Ralph Deleon, a citizen of the Philippines, and Sohiel Omar Kabir, an Afghanistan-born U.S. citizen — who along with two others were swept up in an informant-led counterterrorism sting — defense lawyer Angela Viramontes quizzed Kohlmann on commonly used terms in the social sciences. . . .
Jeffrey Aaron, who represented Kabir, asked the judge to force the government to provide the classified materials on Kohlmann. “We felt that he didn’t seem like a legitimate academic expert to us,” Aaron said. “He seemed like an advocate, and it seemed to us that he was a witness who would always find a way to support the government’s case. We suspect that the material under top-secret protection probably dealt with him cooperating with the FBI or being a quasi-government agent. And honestly, we thought that was very disturbing.”
(Kohlmann studied political science at Georgetown and later law at the University of Pennsylvania, though he never took the bar exam. His steeping in terrorism studies can be credited to Steven Emerson, who founded a nonprofit think tank, the Investigative Project on Terrorism, which a young Kohlmann joined in 1998. “I started obviously as an intern, but by the time I left the Investigative Project in 2003, I was a senior analyst,” Kohlmann said in court testimony.)
Neil Patrick Harris said he was always surprised that anyone accepted the premise of "Doogie Houser." He hadn't met men like the terrorism experts at the top of the U.S. government, I'm guessing.
Ian Welsh speaks clearly about these sort of folks. Is anyone listening?
Does the following essay remind us of anything we've heard before?
A competitive market is one in which profits are steadily pushed towards zero. If anyone can do what you do (freedom of entry), if there are no information barriers (patents, copyright, secrets) and there are no scale advantages others cannot also achieve, there is no reason why any product or service you create cannot be copied by someone else, who then undercuts you if collusion is not allowed.
To make consistent profits higher, then, than inflation plus the rate of growth of the economy requires that you not be in a competitive market. This is explicitly recognized in strategic thinking, that in a fair market, there are no competitive advantages, and that therefore you need to create an unfair advantage.
Anything another company does which increases their profits, no matter how unethical, if not forbidden by effective law (as opposed to theoretical, aka. unenforced law) you must also do.
What is important about this is that the drive for profits above all and the requirement to gain an unfair advantage as dictated by modern strategic thinking (there are other ways to create an advantage that aren’t unfair, but that’s not what most companies concentrate on) means that you have to do evil. If your competitors use cheap conflict metals from the Congo, the control of which is gained by mass campaigns of rape, you must do so. If an insurance company denies healthcare to people who are desperately sick, it makes more money. If a power company doesn’t spend money on anti-pollution equipment, or dumps untreated effluents rather than treated ones, it makes more money. If a clothing manufacturer doesn’t spend money on safety equipment for its highly flammable factories, it makes more money.
It is also in the interest of corporations to create barriers to entry: to enforce stringent patents and copyrights; to ask regulators to say that only some banks get access to the Fed window, giving them a massive advantage over others; to buy politicians who can use public money to subsidize them or bail them out; to insist that money go to them for bailouts rather than to ordinary householders, and so on.
At the lower executive level, the more you can get out of your employees, no matter how you do it, the more likely you are to be promoted. And fear, terror and cost-cutting, while they aren’t the only way to do this, are easier to sell to higher management and pay back faster. When they backfire in the long run, as is often the case, well, you’ll be gone, because you’ll have been promoted.
This leads to the common observation that corporate life is about the next quarter or year, not the next decade. What matters is how much profit you’re making now and next quarter, especially to your chances of promotion, not what will happen in the future. Corporate capitalism is largely incapable of planning more than a few years out, certainly not decades (there are exceptions, but even those exceptions, like insurance companies, have been losing that ability.)
High compensation is also an issue. Once you ascend to the senior corporate ranks, your bonuses are based on short term performance and are large enough that after a few years, and sometimes just one, you have enough money you’ll never have to work again. So you don’t care about the long term, because you don’t need the company to be there long term, only to make as much money as fast as possible.
As a society, we have accepted that money measures the worth of the individual. However, it’s about social status as well as simply money. Few people are villains in their own minds. They don’t think they are responsible for mass campaigns of rape; they think they are savvy traders advancing economic value that keeps the rest of mankind from living in Stone Age conditions and dying young. I think Lloyd Blankfein was totally serious when he claimed to be doing “God’s work”. They don’t think they are mistreating workers; they think they are meting out the carrots and sticks that their supervisees deserve. It’s all about meritocracy, so they’re actually advancing morality by punishing the poor.
In many, if not most, large organizations you get ahead by kissing up more than by delivering better numbers. That means that executives live their days being catered to and flattered. If they weren’t narcissists when they stepped on the first rung of the latter, they quickly become so. Their lives are about being worshiped by all around them. They’re brilliant, godly, all things good. Everyone tells them so. All the thin-skinned reactions when their fee-fees are hurt by criticism are absolutely real.
It’s not that people decide to trade in their morals for money. It’s that they have so marinated in immorality that evil has become their good.
If it were just “you can do better by treating people better,” there would be some hope of convincing our leaders. But how do you argue morality to people who believe “it’s your moral duty to treat people badly”?
TPP, not in effect yet, shows its power.
And, whoo boy, does it have its heralders!
The Communications Workers of America, which opposes TPP, condemned the Obama Administration for “placing the completion of the TPP ahead of human trafficking concerns.” Furthermore, CWA legislative director Shane Larson said the change “tramples on our country’s basic values. … We simply should not be rewarding bad actor countries like Malaysia with inclusion in trade deals.”
Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., who wrote the anti-trafficking provision into the trade promotion authority, pronounced himself “profoundly disappointed” with the change on Malaysia in a statement. He suggested that the report was “subject to political manipulation,” and vowed hearings, investigations and potentially legislation on the issue.
Despite the White House’s contention that trade deals like TPP are “the most progressive in history,” it appears to be overlooking significant forced labor violations to get it passed.
From Schools Matter:
By Doug Martin at Hoosier School Heist Blog
July 27, 2015
Hillary Clinton has been busy this summer, working all of her wealthy connections to gather money for her campaign. Two campaign bundlers are lobbyists Heather and Tony Podesta.
Heather Podesta is married to Tony Podesta, the brother of John Podesta, Bill Clinton’s former Chief of Staff, once-keynote speaker at a Jeb Bush school privatization conference, and leader of the Center for American Progress.
As I detail in my book Hoosier School Heist, the Center for American Progress is NOT the democracy-promoting group liberals believe it is. Backed up by a right-wing mouth piece claiming public schools have too much nepotism, the Center for American Progress cooked up a plan to eliminate local school boards across America which would have made the Koch Brothers’ father’s John Birch Society envious.
Heather Podesta was Edison School’s lobbyist in 2007. Her firm, Heather Podesta & Partners, has also lobbied for the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.
Last year, Heather Podesta & Partners raked in $7 million by working for, among others, Eli Lilly, a big corporate school funder in Indiana, and Aramark Sports & Entertainment Services, which is part of the multi-national corporation Aramark whose Aramark Correctional Services profits from the private prison complex and has repeatedly given prisoners food laced with maggots.
Aramark also operates custodial services for schools. In Chicago in April, despite the promise to save money for CPS, Aramark over-budgeted for $20 million, as principals complained of Aramark’s services leading to filthy schools. One Chicago school cafeteria was closed because of roaches and mice, although it is not clear whether this was under the watch of Aramark or SodexoMAGIC, the other company in contract with CPS.
Heather Podesta & Partners' relationship with Aramark Corp. goes back to 2007.
Last year, Heather Podesta sat on the DC Democratic Party’s Senate Majority PAC board. Hillary’s supporters at the American Federation of Teachers donated at least $1.95 million to this super PAC last year.
And then there’s Tony, Heather’s husband, who is also raising campaign funding for Hillary.
Dubbed as one of DC’s “biggest players” by the "New York Times," Tony Podesta runs the lobbying firm Podesta Group. In 2013, one of the Podesta Group’s largest clients was the Walmart Walton family’s WAL-PAC, which funds politicians across America. It is no great secret that the Walton family is a major financial backer of school privatization in the United States. At the time of writing my book , the Walton’s anti-public school funding had shattered the billion dollar mark
From this April to the end of June, the Podesta team of Heather and Tony bundled a little over $100,000 for Hillary.
For more on the Podestas, Aramark, and Hillary, see Susan Ohanian’s notes here.
Still shopping at Wal-Mart?
Try to remember what you're ultimately funding!
Don't gasp too loudly as you read the next essay.
No one's listening.
July 27, 2015
"Kyle Cleveland, sociologist at Temple University’s Japan Campus, published Apr 29, 2015 (at 2:00 in): "Like everyone else we were seeing what was on the media. The media was very alarmist, and I think ironically, some of what were taken as an overreaction or a panic in the first couple of weeks of the crisis subsequently have been vindicated to be in some ways quite reasonable claims and worries as more information have been revealed, as gov’t reports have been written. Those reports have demonstrated that the situation was really quite more serious at the time than certainly what the government was saying, and certainly what TEPCO was saying at the time.
My starting point for my research was looking into the government’s FOIA documents. I was very surprised to see that there is a big difference within the United States government as they were trying to determine just how bad this was. And what I realized in those documents is that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission was recommending a 50-mile (80 km)exclusionary zone. This was an stark contrast to the Japanese government’s recommendation of 30 km. And also I was very interested to see that the the US Navy Pacific Command and particularly naval reactors, was recommending a 200-mile exclusionary zone. So that’s a rather profound gap between 30 kilometers on the one hand with the Japanese government 80 km from the NRC [and] something like over 300 km for the US Navy.
But ironically aside from the staff at the Daiichi plant maybe some at the very first people who were hit by the radioactive plume were sailors who run the United States Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group. They detected the plume at about 132 miles distance from the Daiichi plant. The FOIA documents demonstrate that these government officials. were very concerned about the levels that they were reading. They were indicating that they were about 30 times above background levels, and that they would exceed a ‘protective action guideline’ criteria within about a 10 hour period.* The reason the US Navy had recommended a 200-mile exclusionary zone was that the Yokosuka naval base is about 163 miles from the Daiichi plant. At the same time that the Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier was detecting the nuclear plume, the George Washington aircraft carrier which was ported down near Yokosuka was also detecting a plume and the result that they were getting were really quite alarming to them."
*"They were indicating that they were about 30 times above background levels, and thatthey would exceed a ‘protective action guideline’ criteria within about a 10 hour period."Now consider the following from yesterday's post:
Normal Radiation is 5 to 20 CPM. 50 CPM is an alert level.
RADIATION CPM* CITY STATE
• 590 CPM, 29.5 to 118 Times Normal, South Valley, NM. Gamma only.
• 500 CPM, 25 to 100 Times Normal, Miami, FL. Gamma only.
• 373 CPM, 18.6 to 74.6 Times Normal, Atlanta, GA. Gamma only.
• 622 CPM, 31.1 to 124.4 Times Normal, Raleigh, NC. Gamma only.
• 617 CPM, 30.8 to 123.4 Times Normal, Pittsburgh, PA. Gamma and Beta.
• 340 CPM, 17 to 68 Times Normal, New York City, NY. Gamma only.
• 394 CPM, 17.2 to 68.8 Times Normal, Boston, MA. Gamma only.
• 591 CPM, 29.5 to 195.6 Times Normal, Concord, NH. Gamma and Beta Radiation.
• 263 CPM, 13.1 to 52.6 Times Normal, Chicago, IL. Gamma only.
• 427 CPM, 21.3 to 85.4 Times Normal, Kansas City, KA. Gamma only.
• 334 CPM, 16.7 to 66.8 Times Normal, Tulsa, OK. Gamma only.
• 645 CPM, 32.2 to 129 Times Normal, Little Rock, AR. Gamma and Beta.
• 306 CPM, 15.3 to 61.2 Times Normal, Dallas, TX. Gamma and Beta.
• 463 CPM, 23.1 to 92.6 Times Normal, San Angelo, TX. Gamma and Beta.
• 275 CPM, 13.7 to 55 Times Normal, Lubbock, TX. Gamma only. Off line. Last known report.
• 460 CPM, 23 to 92 Times Normal, Ft Wayne, IN. Gamma and Beta. Off line. Last known report.
• 423 CPM, 21.1 to 84.6 Times Normal, Indianapolis, IN. Gamma only.
• 383 CPM, 19.1 to 76.6 Times Normal, St Paul, MN. Gamma and Beta.
• 704 CPM, 35.2 to 140.5 Times Normal, Lincoln, NE. Gamma and Beta.
• 586 CPM, 29.3 to 117.2 Times Normal, Des Moines, IA. Gamma only.
• 333 CPM, 16.6 to 66.6 Times Normal, Aberdeen, SD. Gamma only.
• 573 CPM, 28.6 to 114.6 Times Normal, Rapid City, SD. Gamma only. Off line. Last known report.
• 530 CPM, 26.6 to 106 Times Normal, Albuquerque, NM. Gamma and Beta. Off line.
• 377 CPM, 18.8 to 75.4 Times Normal, Grand Junction, CO. Gamma only.
• 869 CPM, 43.4 to 173.8 Times Normal, Billings, MT. Gamma only.
• 465 CPM, 23.2 to 93 Times Normal, Phoenix, AZ. Gamma and Beta.
• 642 CPM, 32.1 to 128.4 Times Normal, Tucson, AZ. Gamma and Beta.
• 225 CPM, 11.2 to 45 Times Normal, Las Vegas, NV. Gamma only.
• 507 CPM, 25.3 to 101.4 Times Normal, San Diego, CA. Gamma only.
• 855 CPM, 42.7 to 171 Times Normal, Bakersfield, CA. Gamma and Beta.
• 306 CPM, 15.3 to 61.2 Times Normal, Los Angeles, CA. Gamma only.
• 243 CPM, 12.1 to 48.6 Times Normal, San Francisco, CA. Gamma only.
• 588 CPM, 29.4 to 117.6 Times Normal, Spokane, WA. Gamma only.
"During that March 13 phone call, Cleveland wrote, Troy Mueller — the deputy administrator for naval reactors at the US Department of Energy — said the radiation was the equivalent of “about 30 times what you would detect just on a normal air sample out at sea.” “So it's much greater than what we had thought,” Mueller reportedly warned other American officials after taking samples on the Reagan. “We didn't think we would detect anything at 100 miles.”
After Mueller made that remark, according to Cleveland’s transcript, Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman asked him if those levels were “significantly higher than anything you would have expected.” He responded yes. When Poneman later asked Mueller, “how do the levels detected compare with what is permissible,” Mueller said those on the scene could suffer irreversible harm from the radiation within hours.
“If it were a member of the general public, it would take- well, it would take about 10 hours to reach a limit,” he said. At that point, Mueller added, “it’s a thyroid dose issue.” If people are exposed to levels beyond the Protective Action Guideline threshold released by the Energy Department, Cleveland acknowledged in his report, radiation could have ravaged their thyroid glands."- http://www.rt.com/usa/uss-reagan-fukushima-radiation-979/
So within 10 hours of exposure to 30 times the normal background radiation level "radiation could have ravaged their thyroid glands."
Find the nearest location to you in the listing above.
10 hours? 30 times normal exposure? Remember this is 24 hour a day, 7 days a week exposure for over 4 years now.
Draw your own conclusions...