Wednesday, September 14, 2016

(Toxic Soap Opera)  Wells Fargo Ups Wachovia Drug-Dealing Ante  (The Real Unemployment Rate?)  NCAA Says "NO" NC - Thanks Duke Power!  (Fooled Again? Don't Get)  Generous To a Fault - To Our Betters/Owners?  (Witch Hunt! But Which Witch?) Leprechauned Attack

Wells Fargo ups the Wachovia drug-dealing ante?

You can't make this stuff up.

And if you do, you can't do it better than they do.

Max and Stacy fill us in on the dirty details.

[KR966] Keiser Report:  US Elections Toxic Soap Opera
September 13, 2016 by Stacy Herbert

We discuss the "basket of deplorables" and the fistful of dollars that is the toxic soap opera called US Elections 2016 in which that “basket of deplorables” is not the bankers with the fistful of campaign dollars, but the schmuck voter. We also look at one deplorable bank, Wells Fargo, which has had to fire 5,300 of their employees for engaging in yet another bout of systemic fraud. In the second half, Max interviews Jaromil of about the latest in cryptocurrency markets and the lessons we might learn from Ethereum and now Monero.

What's the Real Unemployment Rate? That's the Wrong Question

Numbers like gross domestic product (GDP) and the unemployment rate no longer provide insight into how our economy works.

. . . The unemployment rate is nothing but guesswork hocus-pocus. The current system has the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and other agencies guessing how many people in the workforce are "discouraged" and should be deleted from the workforce count.

. . . Then they guess how many new businesses started up and how many closed (the birth/death model) and how many people might have been hired/let go as a result of the birth/death model guesswork.

They derive data by collecting self-reported statistics - the most unreliable source of data possible, as people will adjust their answers to avoid reporting whatever looks bad and exaggerating what looks good. Even if they are scrupulous, does collecting time sheets really provide insight into the economy, employment, and labor force utilization?

N.C.A.A. Leaves North Carolina in a New Spot: Sapped of Sports Pride

Things in North Carolina go from pretty terrible to much worse?

Don't joke around. It's not funny and only an election where the voters are able to vote easily will cure this disease.

And speaking of not fooling around with the truth and what's to come if we don't quickly address the prevailing acceptable high-level criminality . . . .

Fooled Again

by Chris Hedges
September 13, 2016

The naive hopes of Bernie Sanders’ supporters — to build a grass-roots political movement, change the Democratic Party from within and push Hillary Clinton to the left — have failed. Clinton, aware that the liberal class and the left are not going to mount genuine resistance, is running as Mitt Romney in drag. The corporate elites across the political spectrum, Republican and Democrat, have gleefully united to anoint her president. All that remains of Sanders’ “revolution” is a 501(c)(4) designed to raise money, including from wealthy, anonymous donors, to ensure that he will be a senator for life. Great historical events happen twice, as Karl Marx quipped, first as tragedy and then as farce.

The multibillion-dollar extravaganza of our electoral Circus Maximus is part of the smokescreen that covers the ongoing devastation of globalization, deindustrialization, trade deals such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, endless war, climate change and the intrusion into every corner of our lives by the security and surveillance state. Our democracy is dead. Clinton and Donald Trump do not have the power or the interest to revive it. They kneel before the war machine, which consumes trillions of dollars to wage futile wars and bankroll a bloated military. To defy the fortress state is political suicide. Politicians are courtiers to Wall Street. The candidates mouth the clichés of justice, improvements in income equality and democratic choice, but it is a cynical game.

Once it is over, the victors will go to Washington to work with the lobbyists and financial elites to carry out the real business of ruling.

While there is a difference in the temperament of the two major presidential candidates, that difference will play out only in how our poison will be delivered. Political personalities serve global corporate centers of power. They do not control them. Barack Obama illustrates this.

To neoliberals, everyone and everything are disposable. The failed states that have risen up across the Middle East, Africa, the Caucasus and Asia in the wake of the Cold War herald a neoliberal world driven by violence, corruption, greed and desperation. The drug traffickers, smugglers, pirates, kidnappers, jihadists, criminal gangs and militias that roam huge swaths of territory where central authority has vanished are the real faces of globalization. These nihilists define Islamic State just as they define the corporate state.

Corruption may be more naked and cruder in Afghanistan or Iraq, but it has its parallel in the for-sale politicians and political parties that dominate the United States and Europe. The common good—the building of community and solidarity — has been replaced through decades of corporate indoctrination with the callous call to amass all you can for yourself and leave the stranger bleeding on the side of the road.

Is the Goldman Sachs commodity trader, who hoards futures of rice, wheat, corn, sugar and livestock to jack up prices on the global market, leaving poor people in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America to starve, any less morally repugnant than the drug trafficker? Are F-16 pilots who incinerate families in Raqqa morally distinct from jihadists who burn a captured Jordanian pilot in a cage? Is torture in one of our black sites or offshore penal colonies any less barbaric than torture at the hands of Islamic State?

Are the decapitations of children by military drones any more defensible than decapitations of Egyptian laborers on a beach in Libya by self-described holy warriors? Is Heather Bresch, the CEO of Mylan, who raised the price of the lifesaving EpiPen by 400 percent or more and whose compensation since 2007 has risen by 600 percent to above $18 million a year, any less venal than a human trafficker who sends an overloaded boat and its occupants to their doom on the coast of Libya?

There is a new world order. It is based on naked exploitation. It — not democracy — is what we have exported across the globe. And it looks a lot like the anarchic state that Hobbes feared. The criminal gangs that deliver migrants to Europe make about $100 million a month for their work. They exploit and traffic human beings just as highly paid CEOs do.

The failed states of Iraq, Syria and Libya, a direct result of globalization, have their counterparts in Detroit, St. Louis, Oakland, Memphis, Baltimore, Atlanta, Milwaukee and the south side of Chicago. They are our versions of Mogadishu, complete with lawlessness, senseless killings, armed gangs, widespread hunger, fear, a population retreating into the numbing embrace of opiates, crippling poverty, dysfunctional state institutions, the growth of private security companies that protect the elites, and indiscriminate police violence that creates reigns of terror aimed at the poor.

The more the global corporate forces extract from us in the name of austerity and the maximization of profit, the more parts of the U.S. will descend into domestic versions of the failed states overseas. The same system exists here and abroad. And it has the same result here and abroad. It may appear first in Somalia, Mali, Guinea-Bissau and Libya, but it will soon come to characterize much of America. The proliferation of weapons will do to our society what it has done to every other failed state where there has been unchecked access to arsenals — hand power to those with a penchant for violence.

“Anyone who wants to rule men first tries to humiliate them, to trick them out of their rights and their capacity for resistance, until they are as powerless before him as animals,” Elias Canetti wrote in “Crowds and Power.” “He uses them like animals and, even if he does not tell them so, in himself he always knows quite clearly that they mean just as little to him; when he speaks to his intimates he will call them sheep or cattle. His ultimate aim is to incorporate them into himself and to suck the substance out of them. What remains of them afterwards does not matter to him. The worse he has treated them, the more he despises them. When they are no more use at all, he disposes of them as he does of his excrement, simply seeing to it that they do not poison the air of his house.”

History has amply demonstrated where this will end up. The continued exploitation by an unchecked elite, and the rising levels of poverty and insecurity, will unleash a legitimate rage among the desperate. They will see through the lies and propaganda of the elites. They will demand retribution. They will turn to those who express the hatred they feel for the powerful and the institutions, now shams, that were designed to give them a voice. They will seek not reform but destruction of a system that has betrayed them.

Failed states — czarist Russia, the Weimar Republic, the former Yugoslavia — vomit up political monstrosities. We will be no different.

A form of fascism has already taken hold in two nations on the edges of the European Union, Hungary and Poland. Far-right parties, reacting to the flood of more than a million migrants that descended on Europe last year, are gaining ground in France, Austria, Sweden, Germany and Greece. Nationalism, buttressed by a deification of the military, will be used to compensate for individual powerlessness and a loss of national identity. Dissent in the U.S. will become “anti-American,” a form of treason. Enemies at home will be vilified along with enemies abroad. And this will lead to even more warfare in the Middle East. The far-right political parties in Eastern Europe flirt rhetorically with military conflict with Russia. And because of its membership in NATO, the United States would be obligated to enter any hostilities.

Voting for Hillary Clinton will not halt this slide into the apocalypse. It will only accelerate it. Donald Trump may vanish from the political landscape, but someone even more venal, and probably more intelligent, will take his place. Our job is to dismantle the machinery that is pushing toward the cliff. And this means sustained and massive civil disobedience. As exemplified by the protests at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation and by prisoners across the nation who carried out work stoppages last Friday, it means doing everything possible not to cooperate with the elements of authority. It means disrupting the mechanisms of power. It means overcoming fear. It means no longer believing the lies we are told.

(Chris Hedges, spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He has reported from more than 50 countries and has worked for The Christian Science Monitor, National Public Radio, The Dallas Morning News and The New York Times, for which he was a foreign correspondent for 15 years.)

Seems like fantasy politics is getting out of hand in this campaign.

True or not, this cannot help Hillary's candidacy with the Trump faithful, or even those still on the fence.

And, of course, the push-back is strong.

by Karl Denninger

"Hillary’s campaign ended Sunday with the now-infamous all-on collapse that the spin doctors are now claiming was due to “pneumonia” she “was diagnosed with Friday.” Yeah, sure it was. But you know what? It doesn’t matter, really, whether that’s a lie or not.

Facts aside, optics matter in politics. The one place you cannot have a wipe-out of this sort is on the grounds of a terrorist attack 15 years ago, after saying the President must be “solid as a rock” in an attack on your opponent a few days earlier, then literally collapsing and having to be stuffed into a Vanbulance like a side of beef during a service to honor the dead.

The one thing the President must do is present the persona of Superman/woman. It’s never true, of course; a President can die like everyone else but that is what everyone wants to believe and buys in a Presidential election. There is no place the presentation of that persona matters more than on the ground where a bunch of muslim nutjobs murdered 3,000 people during a service to honor the dead and remember the events of the day 15 years ago.

To display your own mortality to the point that you’re unable to stand and appear to have lost consciousness on such a day, in such a place, is fatal to a candidate’s run for President.

The fact is that Hillary lost the election Sunday, and it was lost irretrievably.

Hillary has displayed several instances of behavior previously that called her medical status into question, but she and her campaign have dismissed them as part of the vast right-wing conspiracy. The coughing fits, the twitchy behavior that looks suspiciously like a petit mal seizure and more all have led people to ask very-valid questions, especially given her known medical history and previous physical issues. The response has been typical Clinton: Talk to the hand.

But this event came on a pleasant early-fall day, not a blistering-hot mid-summer noontime event. New York was “suffering” under low-80s temperatures, humidity well under 50% and a pleasant, roughly 10 mph breeze, the stifling heatwave previously over the northeast having broken. In other words, exactly the sort of day on which you’d take your young child to the zoo or stroll along the lakefront, river, or ocean without a care in the world. There were thousands upon thousands of people at the service and nobody was falling over from heatstroke. The collapse itself was caught on high-resolution video, everyone has picked it up including AP and it clearly shows Hillary literally collapsing into someone’s arms and being dragged, feet behind her, into the van to spirit her out of there.

Were anyone else to collapse in such a sudden and dramatic fashion the gurney would be out and the person in an ambulance headed for the nearest hospital stat. But not Hillary, you see, we are told instead that she went to Chelsea’s apartment and was “fine” a short while later, instead of her receiving immediate medical intervention while the press was barred from leaving their pen and reporting on what actually happened. (Speaking of which, since when can a political candidate prevent the press from leaving their press pen? I didn’t know being a member of the press subjected you to arbitrary arrest at the whim of a disabled candidate’s handlers….)

Hillary’s campaign is over, whether you or she wishes to admit it or not. But more to the point, if she does not drop out, given what appears to be a set of very serious health issues, the next two months may literally kill her. I strongly dislike Hillary and emailgate is just a small part of it, but even though I’m a “deplorable” by her view I don’t wish her dead. She ought to retire from political life and go home to spend whatever time she has left in peace. She’s clearly in no shape whatsoever to serve in any sort of public office capacity and the entire world saw that Sunday in an undeniable, in-your-face fashion.

9/11 Real News Time?


And not something to just enrich some builders further at public expense?

We hear some real financial (history) news, building on Donald Rumsfeld's admission about the missing billions on 9/10/01 . . . Remember that old story?

Didn't think so.

We are quite the forgiving mob, aren't we?

A study in generosity to our betters.

Just tell us what we need to pay to make them feel better.

And we'll do it every time.

The Untold Story of 9/11: Bailing Out Alan Greenspan’s Legacy

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens
September 11, 2016

Alan Greenspan, Former Fed Chairman, Testifying to the House Oversight Committee on How He Got It Wrong, October 23, 2008
Alan Greenspan, Former Fed Chairman, Testifying to the House Oversight Committee on How He Got It Wrong, October 23, 2008
Today marks the 15th Anniversary of the tragic events of September 11, 2001 and yet the American public remains in the dark about critical details of hundreds of billions of dollars of financial dealings by the Federal Reserve in the days, weeks and months that followed 9/11.

What has also been lost in the official 9/11 Commission Report, Congressional hearings and academic studies, is how Wall Street, on the day the planes slammed into the World Trade Towers, was on the cusp of being exposed by the New York State Attorney General, Eliot Spitzer, as the orchestrator of a fraud of unprecedented proportion against the investing public.

That investigation was stalled for more than six months. It would have been politically incorrect to do perp walks outside Wall Street’s biggest investment banks as families mourned the loss of their loved ones; as U.S. savings bonds were renamed Patriot Bonds to rally patriotism around the country; and Congress paid homage to the heroes at the big banks, the stock exchanges and the Federal Reserve for getting the system back up and running in less than a week.

The loony policies of laissez-faire capitalism of Fed Chair Alan Greenspan, who worshiped at the feet of Ayn Rand, were also bailed out by the events of  9/11. Members of the Senate Banking Committee praised him on September 20, 2001 for his performance. Amazingly, at this hearing, just nine days after the attack, not one Senator asked Greenspan how much money the Fed had spent or to whom it went. The percolating collapse of Wall Street was held off for seven more years until 2008 when it finally became impossible to deny that Greenspan’s brand of financial deregulation and the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act he had pushed for, had left Wall Street in ruins – without any assault from the skies.

Here’s where Wall Street and the U.S. economy stood on September 10, 2001, the day before an attack in lower Manhattan provided the excuse for the Federal Reserve to flood Wall Street with unquestioned amounts of cash: The Nasdaq stock market, filled with the stocks of rigged analyst research from the iconic firms on Wall Street (the target of Spitzer’s investigation), had imploded, losing 66 percent of its pumped up value and wiping out $4 trillion in wealth. While it wasn’t yet known at the time, being only officially acknowledged long after 9/11, the U.S. economy had contracted for two consecutive quarters and was looking at another negative quarter of growth.

Thus, it was quite advantageous for Alan Greenspan’s legacy as Chair of the Federal Reserve and what might have been an even worse economic slump that the Fed was given carte blanche to funnel hundreds of billions of dollars to Wall Street after 9/11 with the Federal government pumping billions more in fiscal stimulus.

According to a report from the New York Fed, an “unprecedented” amount of liquidity was pumped into the system. The Congressional Research Service quantifies the “unprecedented” amount as “$100 billion per day” over a three-day period beginning on 9/11. But the idea that the bailout lasted only a few days or weeks is misguided. The consolidated annual reports of the Federal Reserve Banks show that the Fed’s balance sheet grew from $609.9 billion at the end of 2000 to $654.9 billion at the end of 2001 to $730.9 billion at the end of 2002 and $771.5 billion as of December 31, 2003.

According to the 2001 Annual Report of the Chicago Fed, one unnamed bank was so grateful for the largess flowing from the Fed that it sent “a thousand packages of LifeSavers candy to each of the 45 Fed offices.”

A report prepared by Stacy Panigay Coleman for the Federal Reserve’s Division of Reserve Bank Operations and Payment Systems indicated that the flood of money took various forms on and after 9/11:

A handful of the largest, again unnamed, Wall Street banks were dramatically overdrafting their accounts at the Fed, resulting in daylight overdrafts peaking at “$150 billion on September 14, their highest level ever and more than 60 percent higher than usual….” According to other annual reports at regional Fed banks, fees were waived by the Fed for these massive overdrafts.

Coleman reports that “discount window loans rose from around $200 million to about $45 billion on September 12.”

Gail Makinen, Coordinator Specialist in the Economic Policy, Government and Finance Division of the Congressional Research Service delivered a 60-page report on other flows of money as a result of 9/11. Makinen found that New York City received the following in Federal aid as of the date of her report in September 2002:

“$11.2 billion appropriated in September 2001 for debris removal and direct aid to affected individuals and businesses [again, the businesses go unnamed]; just over $5 billion in economic development incentives was approved in March 2002; and another $5.5 billion for a variety of infrastructure projects for New York City was approved in August 2002.”

Greenspan’s weak economy received another form of bailout. Makinen writes:

“Although legislation initially introduced was directed at workers adversely affected by 9/11, the legislation that ultimately passed dealt with the economy-wide recession. It extended unemployment compensation (UC) benefits 13 weeks for those who had exhausted their basic benefits, and for UC exhaustees in ‘high-unemployment states,’ it provided 13 weeks of benefits beyond the initial 13-week extension.”

The Congressional Research Service also noted that “overtime wages of police and firefighters raised national income by $0.8 billion” in the third quarter of 2001.

Then there was the bailout of the airlines. Makinen reports:

“At the time of 9/11, the industry was already in financial trouble due to the recession. 9/11 severely compounded the industry’s financial problem. Even though the federal government quickly responded with an aid package that gave the airlines access to up to $15 billion (consisting of $5 billion in short-term assistance and $10 billion in loan guarantees), it is by no means certain that the industry will not have to undergo a major reorganization typified by U.S. Airways filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and United suggesting that it may take a similar course of action.”

The Fed’s rapid cuts in the Federal Funds Rate and Discount Rate after 9/11 was worth hundreds of billions of dollars more to the big Wall Street banks by lowering their borrowing costs. On September 17, before the stock market opened for the first time since the 9/11 attack, the Fed announced it was cutting both the Fed Funds Rate and the Discount Rate by 50 basis points (half of one percent). Two weeks later, on October 2, the Fed slashed both the Fed Funds and Discount Rates by another 50 basis points. Stunningly, on November 6, one month later, it again cut both rates by 50 basis points, bringing the Fed Funds Rate to 2 percent and the Discount Rate to 1-1/2 percent. On December 11, both rates were cut again but this time by just 25 basis points.

The Fed Funds Rate was now trading at the lowest level in 40 years.

The Fed then went on pause until November of the following year, when it again slashed 50 basis points from both the Fed Funds Rate and the Discount Rate. At this point, the Fed Funds were at 1-1/4 percent while the Discount Rate was a miniscule ¾ percent.

When President George W. Bush submitted his budget in January 2002, it carried this often repeated misstatement of fact: “The terrorist attacks pushed a weak economy over the edge into an outright contraction.” That was the official narrative – which served to soften Greenspan’s gross bungling of his job as Fed Chair.

Using 9/11 as a handy source of blame would go up in smoke on March 26, 2002 when the National Bureau of Economic Research announced that the U.S. economy had entered a recession in March 2001, six months before the attacks. The Commerce Department weighed in on July 29, 2002 with data showing that GDP had contracted in the first, second and third quarters of 2001. Rather than pushing a “weak economy over the edge into an outright contraction,” it is highly likely that the unprecedented amounts of money infused by the Federal Reserve and the government after 9/11 actually bailed out a seriously contracting economy.

The Chicago Fed’s 2001 Annual Report contains further information on the enormous amount of money flowing from the Fed. The report notes the following regarding the actions immediately after 9/11:

“The Fed begins to flood the financial system with record levels of liquidity by executing repurchase agreements. These overnight loans collateralized with government securities are used routinely in open market operations, but seldom top a few billion dollars each day. On Wednesday [September 12], the Fed injects $38 billion, more than double the previous record. Thursday [September 13], the Fed shatters that mark with $70 billion. The next day, the Fed injects even more — $81 billion. [Which banks were at the other end of these trades with the Fed? The public, to this day, has no idea.]

“In addition, the Fed does not offset the float generated by check-processing delays. Typically, if check deliveries are delayed, the Fed ‘soaks up’ the float through open market operations. The Fed opts to let the float remain, providing additional liquidity. The result is $23 billion in float on September 12 and a daily average of $28 billion in float for the week ending September 19.”

The Chicago Fed’s report also indicates that an additional “$90 billion in liquidity” was added by the Fed setting up 30-day dollar swap agreements with the European Central Bank, the Bank of Canada and the Bank of England.

Then there was the stimulus added to the economy through the creation of the juggernaut known as the Department of Homeland
Security. According to a Government Accountability Office report in 2011, that Federal agency in 2011 was “the third-largest federal department, with more than 200,000 employees and an annual budget of more than $50 billion.”

The Fed was not the only Wall Street regulator to be given a free pass during and after 9/11. The Chair of the SEC at the time, Harvey Pitt, a long time lawyer to Wall Street banks, testified before the Senate Banking Committee on September 20, 2001 that the SEC had, for the first time, “invoked the emergency powers that you bestowed upon us.” According to testimony from U.S. Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill at the same hearing, the emergency relief the SEC invoked “included providing relief under Rule 10b–18 which provides a safe harbor from liability for manipulation in connection with purchases by an issuer of its own stock. The relief gives issuers greater latitude to provide buy side liquidity this week.”

Typically, corporations are not allowed to buy back their own stock during the opening minutes of trading on the stock exchanges. It is likely that requirement was waived when the market reopened on September 17, 2001 according to O’Neill’s statement at the Senate Banking hearing.

On April 14, 2002 – seven long months after 9/11 – the public finally found out what Eliot Spitzer knew about how the public had been hosed by the iconic investment banks on Wall Street. Spitzer released an affidavit he had filed with the New York State Supreme Court which indicated that his investigation had commenced in June of 2001.

The New Yorker’s John Cassidy perfectly described the mess that Greenspan and the Bill Clinton administration had ushered in by getting Congress to repeal the Glass-Steagall Act, which had separated banks holding insured deposits from the trading and underwriting firms on Wall Street:

“Long-standing restrictions on the financial industry were relaxed, allowing firms of all kinds to join together. Union Bank of Switzerland acquired PaineWebber; Salomon merged with Smith Barney, which was owned by Travelers Group, which then merged with Citicorp. These deals, and many more like them, blurred the traditional line between retail brokerages, such as Merrill Lynch and Dean Witter, which catered principally to the investing public, and investment banks, like Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, which dealt primarily with corporations. The new all-purpose financial supermarkets that resulted from the merger wave, such as Citigroup, J. P. Morgan Chase, and Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, were, in the words of Paul Volcker, a former chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, ‘bundles of conflicts of interests.’ ”

Spitzer’s office would later uncover thousands of emails at Salomon Smith Barney, the investment bank and retail brokerage arm of Wall Street banking behemoth, Citigroup, showing that in 2000 and 2001, prior to 9/11, retail brokers at Salomon Smith Barney were livid at Jack Grubman, the telecommunications analyst that had issued buy ratings on startups that repeatedly crashed and burned. One broker wrote in an email that Grubman was “an investment bank whore.” One email from Grubman explained the corrupt scheme in simple terms: “Most of our banking clients are going to zero and you know I wanted to downgrade them months ago but got huge pushback from banking.”

At some of the biggest banks on Wall Street, research analysts were telling the public to buy, buy, buy while secretly emailing their colleagues that the companies were “crap,” “junk” or a “piece of sh*t,” as illustrated by the emails released by Spitzer.

In April 2003, 10 of the banks investigated settled charges for $1.4 billion – marking the beginning of an era of massive fines and little meaningful change on Wall Street. The heads of the divisions that oversaw this massive fraud were never prosecuted. PBS reported the slaps on the wrist as follows:

“Two of the most well known analysts, who came to symbolize the conflicts of interest of the 1990s bull market, were fined and banned for life from the securities industry. Henry Blodget of Merrill Lynch was ordered to pay $4 million in fines and Jack Grubman of Salomon Smith Barney was ordered to pay $15 million as part of the terms of the settlement. In addition, Sanford I. Weill, CEO of Citigroup, was banned from talking to his firm’s analysts about their research outside of the presence of company lawyers.”

Weill walked away from Citigroup with compensation that had made him a billionaire. Grubman paid $15 million in fines but his compensation at Citigroup’s Salomon Smith Barney had “exceeded $67.5 million, including his multi-million dollar severance package” according to the SEC. (Note that on Wall Street one gets a severance package for fraud.) Blodget went on to found the financial news web site, “Business Insider,” which was sold last year for $343 million, a nice share of which Blodget will keep.

How did the shareholders in Citigroup and Merrill Lynch make out? Citigroup is currently trading (despite a 1-for-10 stock split attempting to dress up its price) at 10 percent of where it was trading on this date a decade ago. Merrill Lynch succumbed into the arms of Bank of America during the Wall Street crash of 2008, taking Bank of America shareholders on what the Wall Street Journal rightly called the “$50 Billion Deal from Hell.” The Journal notes further that the CEO of Merrill, John Thain, had “furnished his office with an $87,000 rug, arranged $25 million goodbye packages for his own hires, and handed out billions of dollars in last-minute bonuses to his staff before the acquisition closed.”

Where did Wall Street learn about how to funnel billions without going to jail? At the knee of the Federal Reserve, of course.

Official 9/11 Narrative Will Be Challenged at Manhattan Symposium

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens
September 9, 2016
Richard Gage, AIA, Founder and CEO of Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth (
Richard Gage, AIA, Founder and CEO of Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth (
Fifteen years after 9/11, an expanding international body of scientific researchers and legal experts continue to challenge the official narrative of 9/11. They will host a two-day symposium this Saturday and Sunday in the historic Great Hall of Cooper Union in New York City to present the science-based evidence they have compiled.
Tickets will be available at this site for a limited period of time. (See the two-day program and lineup of speakers here, here and here.)

Saturday’s program will include a presentation by Dr. J. Leroy Hulsey on the preliminary findings of a computer modeling study of the collapse of World Trade Center Building 7, a 47-story skyscraper in lower Manhattan that was not hit by a plane but collapsed to the ground within seconds at 5:20 p.m. on the afternoon of 9/11. The study is being conducted at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) using finite element modeling. Dr. Hulsey is the Chair of UAF’s Civil and Environmental Engineering Department. He is being assisted by two Ph.D. research assistants. (See video below.)

One of the special guest speakers at the symposium will be Bob McIlvaine, a retired school teacher from the Philadelphia area. McIlvaine’s son, Robert Jr., worked for Merrill Lynch and perished on 9/11. Robert Jr. was among the many to die on the 106th floor of the North Tower where a conference had attracted attendees from across Wall Street that morning. Bob McIlvaine is one of the few family members of 9/11 victims who has openly challenged the official narrative for many years.

Also speaking at the symposium will be Richard Gage, AIA, a San Francisco Bay Area architect of 25 years, a member of the American Institute of Architects, and the founder and CEO of Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth (, a nonprofit that includes more than 2,000 licensed architects and engineers who have signed a petition calling for a new, independent investigation, with full subpoena power, into the destruction of the Twin Towers and Building 7.

The Master of Ceremonies for the first day of the symposium will be Mark Crispin Miller, Professor of Media, Culture and Communication at New York University, and a noted author and speaker. Master of Ceremonies for day two of the symposium will be William Pepper, a barrister from the United Kingdom who is engaged in Human Rights Law, for a time convening the International Human Rights Seminar at Oxford University.


September 11, 2016

by Peak Prosperity
Whether it’s struggling to keep up with the rising cost of living, a 0% return on savings, working longer hours while real wages stagnate, scrimping to pay back education loans, despairing at the abuses of power in our banking and political systems, or lamenting the loss of nourishing social interaction in our increasingly isolated and digital lifestyle — most “regular” people find their own personal experiences to be at odds with the rosy “Everything is awesome!” narrative trumpeted by our media.
Click here to read the full article

Back to arguing about Obama's peacenik initiatives?

Seems he won't aggrandize against Putin.

Not to worry. Hillary will.

Literally every week ushers in a new round of witch hunts in search of domestic Kremlin agents and new evidence of excessive Putin sympathies. The latest outburst was last night’s discovery that Donald Trump allowed himself to be interviewed by well-known Kremlin propagandist and America-hater Larry King on his RT show. “Criticizing US on Russian TV is something no American, much less an aspiring prez, should do,” pronounced Fred Kaplan. Other guests appearing on that network include Soviet spy Bernard Sanders (who spoke this year to Putin crony and RT host Ed Schultz), Bill Maher (whose infiltrates American culture through his cover as a comedian hosting an HBO program), and Stephen Hawking (whom the FSB has groomed to masquerade as a “physicist” while he carries out un-American activities on behalf of Putin).
Despite the fact that Russia ceased long ago to be guided by anything resembling communism, this linking of one’s political adversaries to the Kremlin is such a potent tactic in the U.S. because of decades of Cold War rhetoric about Moscow. Referring to Putin, Matt Lauer this week asked Trump:  “Do you want to be complimented by that former KGB officer?” Denouncing Trump’s praise of Putin, Democratic Rep. Charlie Rangel called the Russian president “a communist leader that’s a potential enemy!” Explaining why Trump’s comments about Russia are so remarkable, the New York Times contended that “Mr. Trump has made improved relations with the Kremlin a centerpiece of his candidacy” in “a fashion that would have been unheard-of for a Republican during or immediately after the Cold War.”

There are all sorts of glaring ironies, and glaring dangers, to this new theme — including the fact that “improved relations with the Kremlin” was a long-time plank of the Democratic Party, which, as a result, was routinely vilified by the American Right as Kremlin agents and sympathizers (as were Republicans such as Nixon and Reagan when they sought better ties with Moscow). But the most glaring irony of all is that as Clinton-led Democrats this year equate overtures toward Russia as evidence of Putin-loving disloyalty — whether it be Trump’s opposition to arming Ukraine or his heretical questioning of NATO — there is an American politician who has, time and again, accommodated Putin, sought to improve relations with Moscow, dismissed as fearmongering the threat Russia poses to the U.S., and repeatedly taken steps that benefited Russian interests.

That politician’s name is Barack Obama. As Trevor Timm wrote yesterday in The Guardian, “Barack Obama seems to be the only politician not playing into the cold war 2.0 hysteria.” Indeed, Obama has continually acted in accord with Russia’s agenda and sought to pour cold water on attempts to revive Cold War rhetoric and policies.

Early last year, U.S. intelligence agencies claimed to have evidence that Russia was making increasingly aggressive military incursions into Ukraine, including with tanks and artillery. Leading foreign policy experts in both parties — including Madeleine Albright, Zbigniew Brzezinski, and Obama’s own Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin E. Dempsey — united to pressure President Obama to send arms to Kiev to ward off what they viewed as Russian aggression. But Obama steadfastly refused. Obama’s recalcitrance became so entrenched that a bipartisan alliance in Congress emerged to introduce legislation to force him to provide lethal aid. As the New York Times reported:

Representative Eliot L. Engel of New York, the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said last week that he was so “disappointed” in the administration for not using tools in past legislation authorizing more sanctions against Russia and arms for Ukraine that he was introducing a new bill to “dial up the pressure on Vladimir Putin.”

The Ukraine debate of 2015 was not the only instance in which President Obama has taken action that accommodated Putin and benefited Russian interests. Last year, Russia began bombing Syria in order to protect its long-time client Bashar Assad. While Hillary Clinton and others advocated imposition of a “no-fly zone” to stop the Russians, Obama did nothing. To the contrary, Obama — who himself has spent two years bombing the anti-Assad fighters in Syria whom the U.S. government regards as terrorists (killing many civilians in the process) — is now actively forgingpartnership with Putin whereby Russia and the U.S. would jointly bomb agreed-upon targets in Syria (ones opposed to Assad).

Then there’s Obama’s total passivity in the face of accusations from Democrats and others that Putin has been actively and maliciously interfering in U.S. elections this year through hacking, disinformation, and other subversive measures. For those who really believe these claims, shouldn’t the U.S. president be issuing strong condemnations and taking aggressive retaliatory measures? What has Obama done to punish Putin for these transgressions? By all appearances, he’s done nothing. Max Boot — who until recently was one of the country’s most discredited neocon extremists but has now once again become a Respectable and Credible Commentator by virtue of endorsing Clinton over Trump — complained this week about Obama’s submission to Putin:

Even when hacks can be traced to Russia, it’s very difficult to prove that the Kremlin was responsible. But the U.S. government doesn’t need to wait for definitive proof to act, assuming, as appears likely, the evidence is already overwhelming. … And yet no action has been forthcoming so far. …

Reflecting the professorial style of the president, this is an administration that has a tendency to talk problems to death even as they grow worse. … So far the Obama administration, in this area as in so many others, is choosing the take-it-on-the-chin option. …

In fact one suspects that that the information-gathering now being conducted by the intelligence community can provide a convenient cover for administration inaction — how can the president possibly do anything before all the facts are in?
So after acting in Putin’s interests in both Ukraine and Syria, Obama now backs down from challenging or punishing him even when the Russian leader interferes in U.S. elections? The plot does indeed thicken.

But perhaps most bizarre of all was the relentless messaging of the Democratic Party under President Obama during the 2012 campaign. All year long, GOP nominee Mitt Romney tried to alert the country of the menace posed by Putin and the Kremlin. Russia “is without question our No. 1 geopolitical foe. They fight for every cause for the world’s worst actors,” Romney warned.

For his patriotic efforts to warn Americans, what did Romney get in response from Obama-led Democrats? Nothing but derision and scorn. During their foreign policy debate, Obama mocked Romney for his Russia-phobia, telling him: “The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because … the Cold War’s been over for 20 years.” Joe Biden “attacked the former Massachusetts governor for being ‘one of a small group of Cold War holdovers,’ for naming Russia as a major threat to the United States.” At the DNC convention, John Kerry scoffed at this Russia-as-Villain cartoon: “Mitt Romney talks like he’s only seen Russia by watching Rocky IV.” The Democrats even made a campaign poster laughing at Romney’s concerns over Putin:

Leading Democrats made it a central theme of 2012 that only someone stuck in antiquated, obsolete Cold War thinking could possibly regard Russia as some sort of dangerous or serious threat:

The Obama-led Democratic Party of 2012 — with very suspect motives and possibly suspect loyalties — tweeted all forms of mockery aimed at Mitt Romney as a result of the GOP nominee’s valiant attempt to warn about the menace of Vladimir Putin:

While it’s true that Russia had not yet annexed Crimea, it was accused of doing all sorts of other things by that point that Democrats today hold up as proof of the Kremlin’s evil — including its incursion into Georgia (2008), its active support of Assad (2012), its imprisonment of Pussy Riot (2012), its alleged poisoning of Putin critic Alexander Litvinenko (2006), its alleged murder of journalist Anna Politkovskaya (2006), and the shooting of human rights lawyer Stanislav Markelov and journalist Anastasia Baburova (2009). In the face of all that, there were Obama-led Democrats throughout 2012 mercilessly mocking — as outdated Cold War rhetoric; Hillary Clinton called it “dated” — the notion that Russia was a serious threat or that Putin ought to be regarded as serious geopolitical foe.

It is certainly disturbing to watch Donald Trump express admiration for Putin’s domestic authoritarianism and venerate that as “strength.” That’s a valid concern, as it reflects — by his own reckoning — what Trump is likely to do, or what he wants to do, if he becomes president.

But this ongoing attempt to equate a desire for better relations with Russia with disloyalty to America, or to vilify any associations with Moscow as proof of un-American Putin sympathy, is toxic in the extreme. Beyond being dangerous and oppressive, it’s incredibly short-sighted. After all, the politician who, in reality, has most accommodated Vladimir Putin and most eagerly sought to avoid tensions with the Kremlin — up to and including trying to partner with them to bomb Syria — happens to be the one currently occupying the Oval Office: a Democrat.

[KR965] Keiser Report:  Leprechaun Economics

September 10, 2016 by Stacy Herbert

We ask whether there is something sinister about putting a leprechaun in the workhouse? Or is there comfort in that it will not pay tax? In the second half Max interviews Constantin Gurdgiev, Professor of Finance at Middlebury Institute of International Studies, about the Apple tax ruling and Ireland’s fight to decline the €19 billion payment due.

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