Sunday, September 20, 2009

U.S. Authorities Probing $100 Billion of Bonds Seized in Italy

Sept. 18 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Secret Service is examining more than $100 billion of U.S. government bonds confiscated in northern Italy in August, just two months after $134 billion of allegedly fake securities were seized in a nearby town.

The Secret Service is analyzing whether the bonds taken in August may be counterfeit, said a spokeswoman for the U.S. embassy in Rome. Italy’s financial police in Varese, north of Milan, arrested two individuals carrying the securities in a briefcase, according to a person involved in the case.

The two men currently are in custody as prosecutors in the town of Busto Arsizio carry out their investigation, the person said. The seized notes include securities with face values of $500 million and $1 billion, Italian daily MF reported today, without saying where it got the information.

“There must be a well-organized group behind these alleged crimes,” Fabio Polimeni, a Milan lawyer specializing in counterfeiting cases, said.

Italian authorities seized U.S. treasuries on June 4 with a face value of more than $134 billion from two Japanese travelers attempting to cross into Switzerland. The two men later disappeared and the case is still under investigation. The U.S. government bonds found in the false bottom of a suitcase carried by the men were fake, a U.S. Treasury spokesman said June 18.

“As financial markets become more sophisticated, creative and bigger, we can expect criminal activity to go with it and it’s happening everywhere,” Livia Oglio, a Milan lawyer, said. “The amount seized is phenomenal.”

Since the beginning of the year the police at border stations in Italy have seized 1.7 million euros of genuine money and bonds, and have confiscated more than 100 million euros of bonds that have been determined to be false, according to an Italian finance police statement in July.

By Sonia Sirletti and Elisa Martinuzzi

Political Punch

McCain Opposes Both Former CIA Interrogations and Justice Department Review of Them

President Obama’s 2008 presidential opponent asserted Sunday that he agrees with former Vice President Cheney in opposing the Justice Department’s review of whether any CIA officers engaged in any actions during interrogations of detainees that didn’t comply with legal advice at the time.

But he also spoke firmly against the enhanced interrogation techniques that Cheney so strongly asserted made the country safer.

“I think it's a mistake,” McCain said of Attorney General Eric Holder’s announcement last week that he would open a preliminary review to see if laws were violated with the use of some interrogation techniques. “I think in the future we'll find that's a mistake.”

McCain told CBS’s Face the Nation that he worries “about the morale and effectiveness of the CIA” and that even thought Holder caution this was a preliminary review, not an investigation, it might get “out of control” and harm the US government’s “ability to carry on the struggle that we're in with radical Islamic extremism.”

That said, McCain said he “was radically opposed” to the enhanced interrogation techniques the CIA used during the Bush administration.

“I think it harmed us,” he said, “I think torturing harmed us.”

McCain went so far as to say some of the interrogations in question violated international law.

They “were in violation of the Geneva Convention against torture that we ratified under President Reagan,” McCain said. “I think that these interrogations, once publicized, helped al Qaeda recruit. I got that from an al Qaeda operative in a prison camp in Iraq who told me that. I think that the ability of us to work with our allies was harmed. And so -- and I believe that information according to the FBI and others could have been gained through other methods.”

McCain said he spoke with the formerly high-ranking al Qaeda operative at Camp Bucca in Iraq.

“I said, ‘How did you succeed so well in Iraq after the initial invasions?’” McCain recalled. “He said two things. One, the chaos that existed after the initial invasion, there was no order of any kind. Two, he said ‘Abu Ghraib pictures allowed me and helped me to recruit thousands of young men to our cause.’ Now that's al Qaeda.”

McCain also said, presumably from his first hand experience as a Vietnam War prisoner of war, “if you inflict enough pain on anyone, they'll tell you anything to make the pain stop. So you not only get perhaps right information but you also get a lot of wrong information.”


Homeland Security’s Michael Chertoff Gets Pounded With 9/11 Questions By C-SPAN Callers

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New World Currency !!!

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2009 US bank failures reach 94: FDIC

Two more US banks have closed down -- including the sixth largest bank bankruptcy this year -- to bring the total number of bank failures this year to 94, according to the government banking insurer.

The Indiana-based Irwin Union Bank was shuttered with a total of 2.7 billion dollars in assets and total deposits of some 2.1 billion dollars, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) said in a statement Friday

In the same group, the Kentucky-based Irwin Union Bank failed with assets of 493 million dollars and total deposits of some 441 million dollars.

The institutions were banking subsidiaries of the Columbus, Indiana-based Irwin Financial Corporation.

With 27 branch locations between them, the two banks are set to reopen under regular business hours Saturday as branches of First Financial Bank, with deposits continuing to be insured by the FDIC.

After suffering no bank failures at all in 2005 and 2006, the US banking system saw three banks going under in 2007, followed by 25 in 2008.

With the bankruptcies Friday, the institutions brought the number of bank failures this year to 94 -- highlighting the extreme stress that the global financial crisis has placed on US banking institutions.

The FDIC said it estimated the transactions would cost the government's Deposit Insurance Fund 850 million dollars.

The fine or the piper? Either way, you'll pay


SARASOTA COUNTY - A word of caution for Keith Chrimson, Hiram Amason, Brandon Finch, Agraciana Rojas and Lorna Todd: An arrest warrant was issued for you Friday because you did not pay your court fines.

Those five people did not show up to a new collections court in Sarasota County to explain why they have not paid their fines, so the judge ordered them arrested under an aggressive new collections program.

Last month, Holly Young of Venice did not show up, either. So, she was arrested Sept. 9 and was not released until she paid $250 bond toward her fine for driving while her license was suspended.

Previously, defendants who missed a payment toward their court fines would be hounded by mail by the clerk's office, which would eventually hand the case over to a collection agency.

But the new collections court gives the courts heavy leverage to collect money from people who owe fines and fees to the court system for crimes and civil infractions. If successful, a similar program could expand into Manatee County.

The six people who did show up to collections court Friday had a relatively easy time. They told the judge how much they could pay each month and when they could start.

County Judge Kimberly Bonner worked with them, even Patrick Cabrera, who had a warrant for his arrest for contempt of collections court.

Bonner also canceled Cabrera's warrant and waived any extra fees associated with issuing the warrant.

Cabrera still got some bad news Friday: His fines in four separate cases totaled $1,139. But he can avoid jail by paying $50 a month, or less if he cannot afford it.

"If you have to go to $5 a month, that's fine, but at least you keep whittling away," Bonner told him. "Just let us know."

Collecting the money is the goal for the judicial system, which started the program as a way to collect court-imposed fines to keep the judiciary system working.

The judicial circuit budget has been cut 13 percent over the past three years because of the economy, court officials said.

Attorneys and advocates for the poor say the collections court falls hardest on people who are struggling, and jail is a harsh way to try to get money from people who might not be able to pay.

Particularly now, when the economy is bad.

Bonner did not push hard on Friday, although the judge can also ask what the debtor spends money on -- cable TV or cigarettes, for example -- and require them to end frivolous spending until the court fees and fines are paid.

"I'm not going to be able to pay this month," Matthew Smith told the judge. "I was injured and not able to work."

Bonner gave him until Nov. 30 to start paying $25 a month on his $855 fines.

Willie Spiller said he was riding his bicycle when he got arrested on a warrant for not setting up a payment plan for the $323 fine for an arrest on having an open beer in public.

"They got a little rough out there, and I didn't know anything about it," Spiller told the judge.

He has no job, and is drawing unemployment, but he said he could start paying $25 each month starting in October.

Constitutional law forbids jailing people solely over fees and fines they cannot pay, but Florida officials argue that, technically, they are jailing people because they violated court orders by not showing up.

In a similar program in Leon County, 839 people in one year were arrested and jailed over court debts or failure to appear at collections court, according to a study by the Brennan Center.

Sarasota court officials say the program -- modeled after one in Orange County -- is not intended for defendants who have no chance of paying the fines. It even lets them write a letter explaining why they missed a payment if they cannot make it to court or to ask for an extension.

After the judge put Cabrera on the payment plan, he thought about two years worth of $50 monthly payments and suggested another alternative.

"Is there any way to go to jail and get this taken care of rather than paying this for two years?" Cabrera said.

Bonner said no.

By Todd Ruger

Is the Recession Over?

Just the other day, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said, Iit is very likely that the recession has ended."

Well, let me just suggest to Mr. Bernanke that today we have about 17 percent of our workforce - 26 million Americans - who are either unemployed, have given up looking for work because they no longer think a job is possible, or they are working part time when they want to work full time. That's 17 percent of our population.

For those folks, I don't think they believe this recession is over.

In fact, what they believe is that they are mired in the worst economic mess since the Great Depression.

One of the really disturbing statistics out there is that it is taking unemployed people a lot longer to find a job than used to be the case. On average, it's taking about six months.

But it's not just losing your job or working part time. People are losing health insurance, losing their homes, losing their pensions. What it's about is slipping out of the middle class and into poverty and not having the capability of sending your kids to college. That's what the economy is about today.

So to my mind, most importantly, we have got to stay focused on the reality that because of the greed, the irresponsibility, and the illegal behavior of people on Wall Street, we are plunged into a real economic mess, and we're going to have to work together and we're going to have to think real hard about how we get out of that mess.

I've talked before about some of the ideas we're working on, but let me just reiterate what some of them are.

We need to get a handle on Wall Street so that they do not go back to the horrendous ways of the past. They are spending millions of dollars right now on lobbying and campaign contributions to make that happen. What we must demand - and this is enormously important - is a new Wall Street, not designed to make hundreds of millions of dollars for their CEOs, but a Wall Street designed to help increase manufacturing in the U.S., create decent jobs, help small businesses, do something for the productive economy.

Another area that we need to return to is our disastrous trade policies which allow corporate America to throw American workers on the street, move to China, pay people 50 cents an hour, and then bring those products back into the country.

So there is a lot of work ahead of us in terms of the economy. Let's stay focused on this issue, and don't believe anybody who's telling you "the recession is over."

Chertoff: 9/11 Truth Is Akin To Holocaust Denial

Former Department of Homeland Security Head Michael Chertoff twice described dis-believing in the official 9/11 story as akin to holocaust denial as he was bombarded with 9/11 ‘inside job’ questions from multiple CSpan viewers.

Chertoff: 9/11 Truth Is Akin To Holocaust Denial 290509banner

Top 10 Americans for monetary reform: Thomas Edison #1

From time-to-time I’ll remind you that the financial crisis in America today could be over almost instantaneously through monetary reform. Monetary reform is a fundamental shift in how American creates money. The shift is from the Robber Baron-era design of banks creating credit to lend to us at interest and ever-increasing debt, to our community (government) creating it for the direct payment of public goods and services. The benefits of monetary reform are conservatively $1 TRILLION every year, the end of the national debt, and full employment.
Please review the links above to fully understand this idea.
The power of monetary reform is evident in history. Napoleonic France quickly became the world’s leading economy and Paris its most beautiful city after ten years of violent revolution that killed or drove-off their economic leadership. Nazi Germany overcame tragic-comic hyperinflation to become the model economy during the Great Depression. These nations were in worse economic conditions than America today (economic power needs to be invested in the public good, not for empire).
This top 10 list of Americans who understood monetary reform deserve your attention. Given our economic condition, you literally have nothing more valuable for your attention.
Thomas Edison (1847-1931) held over 1,000 US patents for his inventions and is considered among the most brilliant minds in American history. Edison understood the engineering of our monetary system and actively spoke for monetary reform. The following seven paragraphs are from an interview with the New York Times in 1921 from a publicity tour Edison took with his friend and fellow inventor Henry Ford to discuss monetary reform at a potential site for a hydroelectric dam at Muscle Shoals, Alabama. He discusses with the reporter how the US government should directly create the money for this public good.
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"That is to say, under the old way any time we wish to add to the national wealth we are compelled to add to the national debt. Now, that is what Henry Ford wants to prevent. He thinks it is stupid, and so do I, that for the loan of $30,000,000 of their own money the people of the United States should be compelled to pay $66,000,000 -- that is what it amounts to, with interest. People who will not turn a shovelful of dirt nor contribute a pound of material will collect more money from the United States than will the people who supply the material and do the work. That is the terrible thing about interest. In all our great bond issues the interest is always greater than the principal. All of the great public works cost more than twice the actual cost, on that account. Under the present system of doing business we simply add 120 to 150 per cent, to the stated cost.
But here is the point: If our nation can issue a dollar bond, it can issue a dollar bill. The element that makes the bond good makes the bill good. The difference between the bond and the bill is that the bond lets the money brokers collect twice the amount of the bond and an additional 20 per cent, whereas the currency pays nobody but those who directly contribute to Muscle Shoals in some useful way.
... if the Government issues currency, it provides itself with enough money to increase the national wealth at Muscles Shoals without disturbing the business of the rest of the country. And in doing this it increases its income without adding a penny to its debt.
It is absurd to say that our country can issue $30,000,000 in bonds and not $30,000,000 in currency. Both are promises to pay; but one promise fattens the usurer, and the other helps the people. If the currency issued by the Government were no good, then the bonds issued would be no good either. It is a terrible situation when the Government, to increase the national wealth, must go into debt and submit to ruinous interest charges at the hands of men who control the fictitious values of gold.
Look at it another way. If the Government issues bonds, the brokers will sell them. The bonds will be negotiable; they will be considered as gilt edged paper. Why? Because the government is behind them, but who is behind the Government? The people. Therefore it is the people who constitute the basis of Government credit. Why then cannot the people have the benefit of their own gilt-edged credit by receiving non-interest bearing currency on Muscle Shoals, instead of the bankers receiving the benefit of the people's credit in interest-bearing bonds?
Certainly there is a complete set of misleading slogans kept on hand for just such outbreaks of common sense among the people. The people are so ignorant of what they think are the intricacies of the money system that they are easily impressed by big words. There would be new shrieks of ‘fiat money,’ and ‘paper money’ and ‘green-backism,’ and all the rest of it – the same old cries with which the people have been shouted down from the beginning.
But maybe we have passed beyond the time when the thoughtful 2 per cent – you know, I gather from my questionnaire that only 2 per cent of the people think,” and Mr. Edison smiled broadly. “Maybe they can’t shout down American thinkers any longer. The only dynamite that works in this country is the dynamite of a sound idea. I think we are getting a sound idea on the money question. The people have an instinct which tells them that something is wrong, and that the wrong somehow centers in money. They have an instinct, also, which tells them when a proposal is made in their interests or against them.”

Homeland Security's Michael Chertoff Gets Pounded With 9/11 Questions By C-SPAN Callers

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San Diego Sheriff Buys Sonic Weapon Planned to be Used Against Civilians

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CHANGE! Obama extending the Patriot Act...Sounds more like Bush.....NWO

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