Friday, August 21, 2009

Attorney: FBI trained NJ blogger to incite others

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - A New Jersey blogger facing charges in two states for allegedly making threats against lawmakers and judges was trained by the FBI on how to be deliberately provocative, his attorney said Tuesday.

Hal Turner worked for the FBI from 2002 to 2007 as an "agent provocateur" and was taught by the agency "what he could say that wouldn't be crossing the line," defense attorney Michael Orozco said.

"His job was basically to publish information which would cause other parties to act in a manner which would lead to their arrest," Orozco said.

Prosecutors have acknowledged that Turner was an informant who spied on radical right-wing organizations, but the defense has said Turner was not working for the FBI when he allegedly made threats against Connecticut legislators and wrote that three federal judges in Illinois deserved to die.

"But if you compare anything that he did say when he was operating, there was no difference. No difference whatsoever," Orozco said.

Special Agent Ross Rice, a spokesman for the FBI in Chicago, said he would not comment on or even confirm Turner's relationship with the FBI.

Orozco spoke to reporters after a court hearing in Hartford on Tuesday. Turner, 47, of North Bergen, N.J., did not appear, because he is in federal custody in Illinois. His arraignment on the Connecticut charges was rescheduled to Oct. 19.

In June, Turner urged his readers to "take up arms" against Connecticut lawmakers and suggested government officials should "obey the Constitution or die," because he was angry over legislation—later withdrawn—that would have given lay members of Roman Catholic churches more control over their parish's finances.

He wrote in Internet postings the same month that the Illinois federal appeals judges "deserve to be killed" because they issued a ruling that upheld ordinances in Chicago and suburban Oak Park banning handguns. He included their photos and the room numbers of their chambers at the courthouse.

Orozco officially joined Turner's defense team in the Connecticut case on Tuesday, with approval from Superior Court Judge David Gold. Orozco said his Newark, N.J.-based firm has been representing Turner for the past five years, including during his FBI informant years.

Turner's Connecticut attorney, Matthew R. Potter, said it's too early to tell which trial will move forward first. Orozco said he plans First Amendment defenses in both cases.

Randall Samborn, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Chicago, said the office would not comment on Orozco's statements.

8/19/2009 Peter Schiff On FOX Business: Buffett's Concerns Valid?

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Days Away From Economic Chaos?

America is just a few days away from a possible day of reckoning. I again call attention to this day, August 25, when the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation issues its 2nd Quarter report for 2009 on the state of health of American banks.

It has not particularly alarmed Americans that its growth and prosperity have been built upon debt. The American public is a bit desensitized, particularly since the Y2K threat fizzled. We must wait and see how Americans respond to the upcoming FDIC report.

The following charts tell the story. There are roughly 8400 American banks that set aside a small portion of their profits to aggregately insure bank depositors should their local bank fail. A plethora of bank failures has depleted the FDIC reserve fund from $52.8 billion in 2008 to $13 billion in the 1st Quarter of 2009. (See chart below)

Alison Vekshin, writing for Bloomberg, indicates

"The failure of 77 banks this year is draining the fund, prompting the agency in May to set an emergency fee of 5 cents for every $100 of assets, excluding Tier 1 capital, to raise $5.6 billion in the second quarter. The agency has authority to set fees in the third and fourth quarters, if needed, to prevent a decline in the fund from undermining public confidence."

Vekshin goes on to report that 56 bank failures since March 31 have cost the FDIC an estimated $16 billion. (For comparison, in the 1st Quarter, bank failures only cost the FDIC $2.2 billion.) That $16 billion bank rescue would fully deplete the FDIC fund as it only had $13 billion at the close of the 1stQuarter. It’s possible the FDIC has already tapped into its line of credit at the Treasury Department without setting off alarm bells to the public.

The FDIC is required by law to maintain a reserve ratio, or balance divided by insured deposits, of 1.15 percent. It was at 0.27 percent as of March 31. It could be near zero at the current moment. (See 1st Quarter FDIC reserve ratio chart below)

Banks will be assessed extra fees

The FDIC's 8400 banks will likely be assessed special fees to shore up the FDIC's treasure chest.

Bloomberg’s Vekshin, quoting Robert Strand, a senior economist at the American Bankers Association, says the industry will pay $17 billion in premiums this year, including $11.6 billion from the annual fee.

The following chart shows the aggregate profits of all 8400 FDIC-insured banks, which is about $5–7 billion per quarter. This figure is AFTER the banks have set aside funds for anticipated losses in real estate loans.

Insured institutions set aside $60.9 billion in loan loss provisions in the 1stQ, an increase of $23.7 billion (63.6 percent) from the first quarter of 2008.

Hiding losses

Banks have been slow to foreclose, allowing mortgage holders a few months before their home is deemed in default and giving another 2 years before the property is foreclosed on its accounting books. This practice has been able to temporarily hide most of the banking collapse.

But banks must eventually write down their real estate home mortgage losses. First-quarter net charge-offs of $37.8 billion were slightly lower than the $38.5 billion the industry charged-off in the fourth quarter of 2008.

As banks write off bad home loans, this downsizes their asset values. Downsizing at a few large banks caused $302-billion decline in industry assets in the 1stQ. The FDIC report says:

Total assets declined by $301.7 billion (2.2 percent) during the quarter, as a few large banks reduced their loan portfolios and trading accounts. This is the largest percentage decline in industry assets in a single quarter in the 25 years for which quarterly data are available. Eight large institutions accounted for the entire decline in industry assets;

You can see by the following chart that US banks are directing a great deal of their profits towards write-offs (loss provision in the following chart) for non-paying home mortgages (foreclosures). So the banks only have about $5–7 billion of profit to direct to the FDIC to shore up its quickly vanishing reserve account. This aggregate profit equates to about $890,000 profit per bank in a quarter. That is a pretty thin margin.

Zombie banks

The FDIC, which claimed only about 300 problem banks in the 1st Quarter of 2009, but hid the fact there were about 2000 total lame banks among its 8400 members, This has given rise to the term "zombie banks," which are defined as "a financial institution with an economic net worth that is less than zero, but which continues to operate because its ability to repay its debts is shored up by implicit or explicit government credit support."

Examination of the following FDIC chart shows geographically that most banks are not making a profit.

FDIC's $13 billion against $220 billion liabilities

So just how much liability does the FDIC bear aggregately for its "problem banks?"

At the end of the 1st Quarter in 2009 the FDIC said that figure was $220 billion. Remember now, the FDIC had only about $13 billion to over these institutions at the time. (See chart below) This figure will likely grow beyond imagination with the issuance of the FDIC 2ndQ report.

How do American banks make profit today?

So how to American banks make any money today? You can see in the following chart that in the recent past American banks derived most of their profits (45%) from residential and commercial property loans. These income sources are obviously crashing.

So the FDIC 1st Quarter report tells all – our so-called conservative American bankers, entrusted with your hard-earned savings, with no place to turn to generate traditional profits, have entered the gambling parlor. Here is how the FDIC said it:

Sharply higher trading revenues at large banks helped FDIC-insured institutions post an aggregate net profit of $7.6 billion in the first quarter of 2009.

Trading revenues means profit generated from trading stocks and other risky investments. Recall, when your money was being financed commercial and residential property it had some collateral behind it. An asset (real estate) was held in balance against the risk of failure to pay the loan. Now bankers are "investing" your money in the stock market in what appears to be a replay of how the Japanese propped up their stock market in recent years – by simply having major companies purchase each other’s shares to prop up value.

The FDIC's 1stQ report says: "Total equity capital of insured institutions increased by $82.1 billion in the first quarter, the largest quarterly increase since the third quarter of 2004 (when more than half of the increase in equity consisted of goodwill)."

What the hoot is "goodwill" you want to know? It is how the banks are cooking their books. Arbitrary value is being given to bank holdings.

The FDIC 1stQ report goes on to say that:

Most of the aggregate increase in capital was concentrated among a relatively small number of institutions, including some institutions participating in the U.S. Treasury Department’s Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).

Banks valued by goodwill and bailout funds

So there, you can see that in addition to goodwill, the bank's capital was largely increased by bailout funds. So a dose of reality therapy will lead one to conclude that nearly all American banks are essentially insolvent.

If this leaves you feeling a bit queasy, well, you may need to reach for Dramamine when you realize the FDIC is not only broke, but it will probably announce it is tapping into its line of credit at the US Treasury Department, which is also insolvent (America is spending $1.58 trillion more than it collects in taxes this year).

Here is how Bloomberg’s Vekshin says it:

If the fund is drained, the FDIC also has the option of tapping a line of credit at the Treasury Department that Congress extended in May to $100 billion, with temporary borrowing authority of $500 billion through 2010.

Compared with savings and loan crisis

American banks weathered the savings and loan/real estate appraisal crisis in the 1980s and 1990s by loading from the US Treasury. In 1991–92, during the last part of the savings and loan crisis, the FDIC borrowed $15.1 billion from the Treasury and repaid it with interest about a year later.

But just exactly how will American banks ever pay back the treasury while facing years of write-offs from home mortgages? The banks do not have sufficient profits to offset their losses.

The entire cost of the savings and loan crisis of the 1980s and 90s was finally calculated at $153 billion, which was four times the reserves held by the FDIC (FSLIC at the time) in 1982. Of this, taxpayers paid out $124 billion while the thrift industry itself paid $29 billion. (FDIC Banking Review, volume 13, no.2, December 2000) So there is a false notion that the banks underwrite their own members’ losses. In fact, the public bears the brunt of the losses when bankers are reckless.

Bankers prodded to loan money

Sheila Bair, FDIC chief, is trying to get US bankers to begin loaning money again. But to do so bankers must begin to assess the worth of real estate at more realistic values. Then the real value of their asset package would be revealed and the banks would all collapse. Furthermore, if banks begin to loan money under their fractional banking scheme (banks loan out 10–50 fold more money than they have in reserve), then massive inflation will likely result. This would not only result in Americans bearing the brunt of higher cost of goods and services, but it could trigger Asian banks, seeing their savings devalued, to sell off their stash of US treasury bonds. America as a debtor nation depends upon billions of dollars every day, loaned from Asian banks, to stay afloat financially.

The FDIC's Bair is aghast at American bankers shift away from traditional sources of revenue backed by collateral to risky investments. Bair wants to charge banks additional fees tied to risks when their business expands beyond traditional lending, such as stock trading. This idea hasn’t advanced in Congressional committees yet. American bankers are walking a tight rope with their depositors’ money.

The mother of all bank runs?

Now if just a small portion of American bank depositors hear that the FDIC had to tap into the US Treasury for funds, and these depositors feel their banked money is at risk and want to withdraw some of it, the mother of all bank runs could ensue. This could create the day of reckoning that many have predicted. A short banking holiday would have to be declared and who knows what happens from there – troops in the streets, issuance of new currency, martial law? Don’t think those in the Federal government haven’t made plans for such an occurrence.

The unbanked

Of surprising interest, the FDIC reveals that millions of Americans don’t trust or don’t use banks. These Americans have been called the unbanked or underbanked, meaning that they "do not have access to banks or are not fully participating in the mainstream financial system," says the FDIC. The FDIC guesstimates that 10 percent of American families are "unbanked." That’s a lot of capital the banks don’t have access to. Those who hold currency outside of banks are anathema to the gods of banking.

Sources: Alison Vekshin, FDIC May Add to Special Fees as Mounting Failures Drain Reserve, Bloomberg News August 20, 2009; FDIC 2ndQuarter report 2009.

by Bill Sardi

C.I.A. Said to Use Outsiders to Put Bombs on Drones

WASHINGTON — From a secret division at its North Carolina headquarters, the company formerly known as Blackwater has assumed a role in Washington’s most important counterterrorism program: the use of remotely piloted drones to kill Al Qaeda’s leaders, according to government officials and current and former employees.

The division’s operations are carried out at hidden bases in Pakistan and Afghanistan, where the company’s contractors assemble and load Hellfire missiles and 500-pound laser-guided bombs on remotely piloted Predator aircraft, work previously performed by employees of the Central Intelligence Agency. They also provide security at the covert bases, the officials said.

The role of the company in the Predator program highlights the degree to which the C.I.A. now depends on outside contractors to perform some of the agency’s most important assignments. And it illustrates the resilience of Blackwater, now known as Xe (pronounced Zee) Services, though most people in and outside the company still refer to it as Blackwater. It has grown through government work, even as it attracted criticism and allegations of brutality in Iraq.

A spokesman for the C.I.A. declined to comment for this article.

The New York Times reported Thursday that the agency hired Blackwater in 2004 as part of a secret program to locate and assassinate top Qaeda operatives.

In interviews on Thursday, current and former government officials provided new details about Blackwater’s association with the assassination program, which began in 2004 not long after Porter J. Goss took over at the C.I.A. The officials said that the spy agency did not dispatch the Blackwater executives with a “license to kill.” Instead, it ordered the contractors to begin collecting information on the whereabouts of Al Qaeda’s leaders, carry out surveillance and train for possible missions.

“The actual pulling of a trigger in some ways is the easiest part, and the part that requires the least expertise,” said one government official familiar with the canceled C.I.A. program. “It’s everything that leads up to it that’s the meat of the issue.”

Any operation to capture or kill militants would have had to have been approved by the C.I.A. director and presented to the White House before it was carried out, the officials said. The agency’s current director, Leon E. Panetta, canceled the program and notified Congress of its existence in an emergency meeting in June.

The extent of Blackwater’s business dealings with the C.I.A. has largely been hidden, but its public contract with the State Department to provide private security to American diplomats in Iraq has generated intense scrutiny and controversy.

The company lost the job in Iraq this year, after Blackwater guards were involved in shootings in 2007 that left 17 Iraqis dead. It still has other, less prominent State Department work.

Five former Blackwater guards have been indicted in federal court on charges related to the 2007 episode.

A spokeswoman for Xe did not respond to a request for comment.

For its intelligence work, the company’s sprawling headquarters in North Carolina has a special division, known as Blackwater Select. The company’s first major arrangement with the C.I.A. was signed in 2002, with a contract to provide security for the agency’s new station in Kabul, Afghanistan. Blackwater employees assigned to the Predator bases receive training at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada to learn how to load Hellfire missiles and laser-guided smart bombs on the drones, according to current and former employees, who asked not to be identified for fear of upsetting the company.

The C.I.A. has for several years operated Predator drones out of a remote base in Shamsi, Pakistan, but has secretly added a second site at an air base in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, several current and former government and company officials said. The existence of the Predator base in Jalalabad has not previously been reported.

Officials said the C.I.A. now conducted most of its Predator missile and bomb strikes on targets in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region from the Jalalabad base, with drones landing or taking off almost hourly. The base in Pakistan is still in use. But officials said that the United States decided to open the Afghanistan operation in part because of the possibility that the Pakistani government, facing growing anti-American sentiment at home, might force the C.I.A. to close the one in Pakistan.

Blackwater is not involved in selecting targets or actual strikes. The targets are selected by the C.I.A., and employees at the agency’s headquarters in Langley, Va., pull the trigger remotely. Only a handful of the agency’s employees actually work at the Predator bases in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the current and former employees said.

They said that Blackwater’s direct role in these operations had sometimes led to disputes with the C.I.A. Sometimes when a Predator misses a target, agency employees accuse Blackwater of poor bomb assembly, they said. In one instance last year recounted by the employees, a 500-pound bomb dropped off a Predator before it hit the target, leading to a frantic search for the unexploded bomb in the remote Afghan-Pakistani border region. It was eventually found about 100 yards from the original target.

The role of contractors in intelligence work expanded after the Sept. 11 attacks, as spy agencies were forced to fill gaps created when their work forces were reduced during the 1990s, after the end of the cold war.

More than a quarter of the intelligence community’s current work force is made up of contractors, carrying out missions like intelligence collection and analysis and, until recently, interrogation of terrorist suspects.

“There are skills we don’t have in government that we may have an immediate requirement for,” Gen. Michael V. Hayden, who ran the C.I.A. from 2006 until early this year, said during a panel discussion on Thursday on the privatization of intelligence.

General Hayden, who succeeded Mr. Goss at the agency, acknowledged that the C.I.A. program continued under his watch, though it was not a priority. He said the program was never prominent during his time at the C.I.A., which was one reason he did not believe that he had to notify Congress. He said it did not involve outside contractors by the time he came in.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat who presides over the Senate Intelligence Committee, said the agency should have notified Congress in any event. “Every single intelligence operation and covert action must be briefed to the Congress,” she said. “If they are not, that is a violation of the law.”

Mark Landler contributed reporting.

Fed Chairman Says American Economy Is Poised to Grow

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. — Ben S. Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, offered his most hopeful assessment in more than a year on Friday, asserting that “the prospects for a return to growth in the near term appear good.”

In a much-awaited speech here to central bankers and economists from around the world, Mr. Bernanke went beyond the Fed’s most recent assessment that the nation’s economy was “leveling out” and that the recession was ending.

Reed Saxon/Associated Press
Ben S. Bernanke, the Federal Reserve chairman, arrives at the morning session of the conference in Jackson Hole, Wyo., on Friday.

Noting that short-term lending markets are functioning “more normally,” that corporate bond issuance is strong and that other “previously moribund” securitization markets are reviving, Mr. Bernanke said that both the United States and other major countries were poised for growth.

In emphasizing not just the imminent end of the recession — the worst since at least the early 1980s if not since the Great Depression — but also the “good” chances of actual growth, Mr. Bernanke’s assessment was in some ways surprising.

Despite encouraging signs on many fronts, American retailers have reported unexpectedly weak sales in the last week — a sign that that consumer spending could drag down economic growth in the months ahead. And on Thursday, the Labor Department reported that new unemployment claims jumped again.

The Fed chairman’s added hopefulness may have reflected the unexpectedly good news from other parts of the world: Germany and Japan both reported positive economic growth this week, an unexpected rebound from their own recessions.

The Fed chairman cautioned that problems remained, and warned that regulators would have to impose much tougher capital requirements on major financial institutions to ensure that they can better withstand the kind of cash crunch that crippled the global financial system last fall.

“Strains persist in many financial markets across the globe,” Mr. Bernanke said, speaking at the Fed’s annual symposium at this resort in the Grand Tetons. “Financial institutions face significant additional losses, and many businesses and households continue to experience considerable difficulty gaining access to credit.”

Repeating the caution that Fed officials and most private forecasters have expressed in recent weeks, Mr. Bernanke predicted that the economic recovery “is likely to be relatively slow at first, with unemployment declining only gradually from high levels.”



台灣政治大學一名學生日前向台灣《蘋果日報》投訴,指美國在台協會官員梁大衛(David Lyon)始亂終棄,對她假意追求,兩人發生關係並拍下裸照後失聯。


不過,AIT發言人表示,該會政治組確實曾有一名David Lyon,但他目前已離開,因此不願評論此事。









































報導引述麥肯錫全球研究院總監、首爾分公司資深董事Richard Dobbs表示,「中國消費者和歐洲經濟合作組織的消費者將成為未來全球經濟的主要推動力。」







農損金額增至144億元 雞死亡逾600萬隻

(中央社記者唐佩君台北21日電)行政院農委會今天公布,莫拉克颱風農損金額增至新台幣 144億2967萬元;其中農產損失達 101億5955萬元,漁產損失逾41億元,豬隻及雞隻分別死亡逾14萬頭、600萬隻。

農委會表示,統計至今天下午 3時,莫拉克風災造成農業產物損失 101億5955萬元、民間設施毀損42億7012萬元,合計 144億2967萬元。





Scholars for 9/11 Truth & Justice

We are a group of scholars and supporters endeavoring to address the unanswered questions of the September 11, 2001 attack through scientific research and public education. We take care to present the strongest, most credible research available, some of which is published on our sister site, the Journal of 9/11 Studies. For more information visit our Welcome page.

Scholars for 9/11 Truth and Justice is committed to effecting change through non-violence. For our position statement, please see Scholars for 9/11 Truth & Justice Statement Against Violence and Racism.

For recent updates, see our STJ911 Blog.

Rand Paul Money Bomb Exceeds $200k in 12 hours!

he response to Dr. Rand Paul's money bomb is amazing, with over $200,000 raised in just 12 hours! This limited government candidate is going to bring some much needed integrity and common sense to Washington, let's give him all the support we can!

The truly exciting part of this is that recent polls show Dr. Rand Paul IS POSITIONED TO WIN!!

Here's a message from Dr. Paul this morning:


Held In A Psychiatric Ward & Called “Delusional” For Saying 9/11 Was An Inside Job

Check this link ......

Exploring JPMorgan’s ties to Obama administration

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Unemployment claims worsen, rise 15,000

New jobless claims rise unexpectedly to 576K

The number of newly laid-off workers filing claims for unemployment benefits rose unexpectedly for the second straight week, an indication that jobs remain scarce.

The Labor Department says the number of first-time jobless claims rose to a seasonally adjusted 576,000 last week, from a revised figure of 561,000. Wall Street economists expected a drop to 550,000, according to a survey by Thomson Reuters.

The number of people remaining on the benefit rolls dropped by 2,000 to 6.24 million. Analysts had expected a slight decline.

The four-week average of initial claims, which smooths out fluctuations, also rose for the second straight week to 570,000.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The number of U.S. workers filing new claims for jobless benefits unexpectedly rose last week, a government report showed on Thursday, as companies continued to cut payrolls amid uncertainty over the economic outlook.

Initial claims for state unemployment insurance benefits rose 15,000 to a seasonally adjusted 576,000 in the week ended August 15 from 561,000 the prior week, the Labor Department said.

Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast new claims slipping to 550,000 last week from a previously reported 558,000. A Labor Department official said there were no special factors influencing the report.

The number of people collecting long-term unemployment benefits edged up 2,000 to 6.24 million in the week ended August 8, the latest week for which the data is available. However, the four-week moving average declined 2,500 to 6.27 million.

The insured unemployment rate, which measures the percentage of the insured labor force who are jobless, was unchanged at 4.7 percent.

Chicago shuts down to save money


Chicago resident: "It's a huge inconvenience"

Public services in the US city of Chicago have been shut down for a day as the authorities face an expected budget shortfall of some $300m (£184m).

Non-essential services such as rubbish collections, libraries and health centres were closed, in the first of three planned reduced service days.

City authorities hope the move, with workers taking an enforced unpaid holiday, will save an estimated $8.3m.

Other cities in the US have already introduced similar measures.

The savings from Chicago's reduced service days are small compared with the overall deficit.

But in a statement last week, Chicago's Mayor Richard M Daley thanked state employees for their "sacrifice".

"Every dollar we save from these measures helps to save jobs, and in the long-term, maintain service for Chicagoans," he said.

"This plan engages most civilian employees to accept cuts and to be part of the solution to our budget crisis."

Two more reduced service days have been scheduled - one for 27 November, the day after Thanksgiving and another for Christmas Eve, 24 December.

Workers have also been asked to take a series of unpaid days off and holidays without salary.

Chicago is one of a number of US cities and states to introduce closures and furlough days to address deficits.

In California, which has a budget deficit of some $24.3bn (£14.5bn) and has declared a fiscal emergency, state offices have been ordered to close for three days each month.

Michigan has said it will not pay its state employees on six days up to the end of September, to save nearly $22m.

UK 'can't find' $13bn in military hardware

Auditors have been unable to find 6.6 billion pounds ($13 billion) worth of British military equipment including vehicles, weapons and radios used by troops, a report said Thursday.

The government has ordered a shakeup at the Ministry of Defence after the auditors found holes in its record keeping, the Financial Times reported.

The findings raised concerns about whether critical resourcing decisions for Afghanistan have been taken by MoD officials without knowing where billions of pounds of equipment, including machine guns, night vision goggles as well as spare parts, is located, the newspaper said.

The National Audit Office has refused to sign off on MoD accounts because of an "inadequate level of evidence" that 6.6 billion pounds of its assets existed, the FT said.

The MoD told the newspaper the assets were "never physically lost".

The report comes amid a furious debate in Britain about whether troops fighting Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan have adequate resources as the number of soldiers killed in the conflict rises.