Friday, February 21, 2014

US Fast Becoming The Credit Card Capital Of The World

The chances are good that you were one of the unlucky customers to fall victim to a massive Target hack. Last Christmas, Target’s servers were compromised. And while the original estimates said approximately 40 million Target customers had been hacked, we’re now learning that the estimate is now between 70 and 110 million people. It’s just the latest incident pointing to the US’ vulnerable credit card security apparatus. RT’s Ameera David reports.

Karpal found guilty of sedition

Veteran lawyer Karpal Singh (pic) was today found guilty of uttering seditious words against the Sultan of Perak at the height of the constitutional crisis in 2009.
High Court judge Azman Abdullah said the defence failed to create a reasonable doubt in the prosecution's case.
"The prosecution has proven its case after this court heard the defence witnesses, the submissions of both parties and the judgment of the Court of Appeal," he said.
Lawyer Gobind Singh Deo applied that sentencing be deferred to another day for them to prepare mitigation to obtain a lighter sentence.
"We need to obtain medical records to support our case," he said.
Karpal, 73, is wheelchair-bound following a road accident in January 2005.
Azman then fixed sentencing on March 7.
A calm and composed Karpal told reporters later he accepted the decision and would file an appeal at the Court of Appeal within 14 days.
Karpal, who is DAP chairman, also risks being disqualified as MP as the offence carries a maximum RM5,000 fine or three years' jail, or both, if convicted.
Under the Federal Constitution, an elected representative is disqualified from office if fined more than RM2,000 or jailed for a term exceeding one year.
Also present in the packed court room to hear the verdict were opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang and Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng.
Karpal joins the list of DAP leaders who were convicted under the draconian law which critics said was designed to stifle dissent.
The late Dr Ooi Kee Saik, a former Penang DAP chief, was the first in 1970, followed by the late Fan Yew Teng, who was Kampar MP and acting secretary-general, in 1975 .
Guan Eng was also found guilty of the offence in 1998 and sentenced to 18 months jail. He returned to active politics in 2004.
Karpal was said to have committed the offence at his legal firm in Jalan Pudu Lama in Kuala Lumpur on February 6, 2009.
The Bukit Gelugor MP was alleged to have said that the removal of Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin as mentri besar of Perak by Sultan Azlan Shah could be questioned in a court of law.
Karpal's defence was that he offered a legal opinion and not a threat to the Ruler, who was once the Lord President of the then Supreme Court.
His defence team also contended that the charge was framed in bad faith as there were others who made worse seditious remarks but no action was taken.
"Karpal did not question the Ruler's prerogative to appoint a menteri besar, but his contention is that such power can only be exercised when there is a vacancy," Gobind had said in his submission at the close of the defence's case last month.
"The law allows for Rulers to be sued and it is for this reason that a Special Court was set up in 1993," Gobind said.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Noorin Badaruddin said Karpal had uttered seditious words and his intention was irrelevant for the prosecution to prove.
"He has questioned the prerogative of the Sultan under the constitution," she said, adding the statement was made in the midst of a tense political crisis then.
She said the lawyer's words have the tendency to create hatred towards the Ruler.
Azman first acquitted Karpal without calling for his defence in June 2010.
In January 2012, the Court of Appeal ordered Karpal to enter his defence after the public prosecutor's appeal was allowed. – February 21, 2014.

Tres Knippa: Japan is Fighting & Losing to Basic Math & Gravity

Jason Burack of Wall St for Main St interviewed CME Trader and hedge fund manager Tres Knippa Tres has setup a hedge fund to specifically short the Japanese government bond (JGB) market.During this 40+ minute interview, Jason first asks Tres how high frequency trading (HFT) has affected his trading.Next, they start to go in depth on Japan and how Japan got into its huge mess of QE, debt monetization and stagnation in the first place.This discussion covers many aspects of Japan including how Japan’s culture makes entrepreneurship difficult, how Japan has kept the game going for this long and bankrupted many hedge fund managers betting there will be a crash in JGBs, etc.Finally, Tres talks about MMT, Keynesian economics, politicians and gold to wrap up the interview and discusses some different ways the retail investor who is not worth 7 figures or more can possibly plan Japan’s coming currency and bond crisis.Please visit the Wall St for Main St website here
Follow Jason Burack on Twitter @JasonEBurack
Follow Mo Dawoud on Twitter @m0dawoud
Follow John Manfreda on Twitter @JohnManfreda
Follow Wall St for Main St on Twitter @WallStforMainSt

Up 106%: Obama Has More Than Doubled Marketable U.S. Debt

The marketable debt of the U.S. government has more than doubled–climbing by 106 percent–while President Barack Obama has been in office, increasing from $5,749,916,000,000 at the end of January 2009 to $11,825,322,000,000 at the end of January 2014, according to the U.S. Treasury’s latest Monthly Statement of the Public Debt.
During the eight-year presidency of George W. Bush, the marketable debt of the U.S. government almost doubled–climbing 93 percent–from $2,977,328,000,000 at the end of January 2001 to $5,749,916,000,000 at the end of January 2009
71% Of Obama Voters “Regret” His Re-Election
Over 7 in 10 Obama voters, and 55% of Democrats, regret voting for President Obama’s reelection in 2012, according to a new Economist/ poll.
President Barack Obama signed into law the first bipartisan budget produced by a divided Congress in 27 years, abating the fiscal discord that spurred a government shutdown in October.
The Senate yesterday passed a $1.01 trillion budget deal easing $63 billion in automatic spending cuts, raising user fees and lowering the U.S. deficit over 10 years. The plan keeps in place about half of the spending cuts known as sequestration for next year, and about three-quarters of the planned reductions for 2015.
Nine Republicans joined all Democrats to back the measure, which passed the Senate 64-36. 
Professor Kotlikoff joins the Financial Sense Newshour for an eye-opening interview about the true state of fiscal affairs in this country. He explains how the government uses accounting tricks to hide the truth and keep everyone in the dark about the US’s actual debt-load, which runs $205 trillion versus the $17 trillion you often here in the news.
Professor Kotlikoff: The liabilities the government owes are mostly off the books. We have a true debt picture which is about $205 trillion. This is recording all the future obligations the government has, whether they are official obligations or not, such as paying for your social security benefits, mine, or your mother’s Medicare benefits, defense spending, etc. All of these things are really obligations that aren’t recorded on the books as debt, whereas paying off future principal and interest payments on Treasury bills and bonds are recorded. So, anyway, if you take the value of all of those commitments and subtract all the taxes coming to pay those commitments, the difference is what’s called the fiscal gap; and that fiscal gap in the U.S. is now $205 trillion. So, the true debt is $205 trillion; the official debt is only $17 trillion. So, most of the problems we’re facing, most of the debt we have, the vast majority of it is off the books and Congress has done bookkeeping to make sure the public doesn’t see it. So, when we have these big fights over the debt ceiling, it’s really laughable because at the same time we may not be expanding our official debt at a very rapid rate, we are expanding our unofficial debt or off-the-book debt, unrecorded debt, at a very high rate.
No Dhimmi

The Federal Reserve Is Causing Global Revolution

Fed Says It Would Take Something Big To Stop The Taper

UK unemployment rises unexpectedly which indicates the economy is now declining. German car sales are slumping and food prices in the US are sky rocketing. The housing bubble is about to pop in the US as hedge funds and investors try to unload their properties. The President wants to put monitors in newsrooms to keep an eye on journalists. The Ukraine riots are increasing with the help of the US and the situation is critical. There is now new evidence that there was a secret meeting in Washington with Arab nations to plan out how they are going to topple the Syrian government. Be prepared for a false flag in the US or an attempt on Assad’s life.

MN Dems Laugh When Asked Why Obamacare Doesn’t Save Families Money


During a panel at South Central College in Mankato, MN Wednesday, Senator Amy Klobuchar and Reps. Tim Walz and Collin Peterson fielded questions on a range of issues, including the farm bill, the national debt, and immigration reform. But the most notable question was on Obamacare.
“I thought the Affordable Care Act would save $2,500 per family,” a constituent asked. “What happened?”
Klobuchar and Walz looked at each other sheepishly, before laughing uncomfortably. Peterson said, “Well I voted ‘no’, so I’ll let these guys handle that,” eliciting laughter and applause from the crowd.
Klobuchar and Walz could only say that the law did need to be fixed in some areas, but could not answer why the President’s promise that families would save an average of $2,500 under Obamacare has largely proven false.
(h/t Hot Air)

China Starts To Make A Power Move Against The U.S. Dollar

US Dollars - Photo by selbstfotografiert
In order for our current level of debt-fueled prosperity to continue, the rest of the world must continue to use our dollars to trade with one another and must continue to buy our debt at ridiculously low interest rates.  Of course the number one foreign nation that we depend on to participate in our system is China.  China accounts for more global tradethan anyone else on the planet (including the United States), and most of that trade is conducted in U.S. dollars.  This keeps demand for our dollars very high, and it ensures that we can import massive quantities of goods from overseas at very low cost.  As a major exporting nation, China ends up with gigantic piles of our dollars.  They lend many of those dollars back to us at ridiculously low interest rates.  At this point, China owns more of our national debt than any other country does.  But if China was to decide to quit playing our game and started moving away from U.S. dollars and U.S. debt, our economic prosperity could disappear very rapidly.  Demand for the U.S. dollar would fall and prices would go up.  And interest rates on our debt and everything else in our financial system would go up to crippling levels.  So it is absolutely critical to our financial future that China continues to play our game.
Unfortunately, there are signs that China has now decided to start looking for a smooth exit from the game.  In November, I wrote about how the central bank of China has announced that it is “no longer in China’s favor to accumulate foreign-exchange reserves”.  That means that the pile of U.S. dollars that China is sitting on is not going to get any higher.
In addition, China has signed a whole host of international currency agreements with other nations during the past couple of years which are going to result in less U.S. dollars being used in international trade.  You can read about many of these agreements in this article.
This week, we learned that China started to dump U.S. debt during the month of December.  Many have imagined that China would try to dump a flood of our debt on to the market all of a sudden once they decided to exit, but that simply does not make sense.  Instead, it makes sense for China to dump a bit of debt at a time so that the market will not panic and so that they can get close to full value for the paper that they are holding.
As Bloomberg reported the other day, China dumped nearly 50 billion dollars of U.S. debt during the month of December…
China, the largest foreign U.S. creditor, reduced holdings of U.S. Treasury debt in December by the most in two years as the Federal Reserve announced plans to slow asset purchases.
The nation pared its position in U.S. government bondsby $47.8 billion, or 3.6 percent, to $1.27 trillion, the largest decline since December 2011, according to U.S. Treasury Department data released yesterday.
This is how I would do it if I was China.  I would try to dump 30, 40 or 50 billion dollars a month.  I would try to make a smooth exit and try to get as much for my U.S. debt paper as I could.
So if China is not going to stockpile U.S. dollars or U.S. debt any longer, what is it going to stockpile?
It is going to stockpile gold of course.  In fact, China has been voraciously stockpiling gold for quite some time, and their hunger for gold appears to be growing.
According to Bloomberg, more than 80 percent of the gold that was exported from Switzerland last month went to Asia…
Switzerland sent more than 80 percent of its gold and silver bullion and coin exports to Asia last month, the Swiss Federal Customs Administration said today in an e-mailed report. It imported most from the U.K.
Hong Kong was the top destination at 44 percent on a value basis, with India at 14 percent, the Bern-based customs agency said in its first breakdown of the gold trade data since 1980. Singapore accounted for 8.6 percent of exports, the United Arab Emirates 7.9 percent and China 6.3 percent.
When China imports gold, most of it goes through Hong Kong.  We know that imports of gold from Hong Kong into China are at an all-time record high, but we don’t know exactly how much gold China has accumulated at this point because they quit reporting that to the rest of the world a number of years ago.
When it comes to global finance, China is playing chess and the United States is playing checkers.  China knows that gold is a universal currency that will hold value over the long-term.  As the paper currencies of the world race toward collapse, China could end up holding most of the real money and that would be a huge game changer when they finally reveal that fact…
The announcement of China’s new gold hoard will send shockwaves through the financial markets, and make China and the Chinese yuan (their national currency) even bigger players at the international table.
International banking expert James Rickards compared it to a game of Texas Hold ‘Em poker:
“You want a big pile of chips. The U.S. has a big pile of chips, Europe has a big pile of chips. The U.S. has 8,000 tonnes [metric tons] of gold, 17 members of the euro system have 10,000 tonnes. China at 1,000 tonnes is not a player, but at 5,000 tonnes, they are a player.”
There are some really good points made in the quote above, but I do take exception with a couple of things.  First of all, I believe that China now has far more than 5,000 tons of gold.  Secondly, I seriously doubt that the U.S. still actually has 8,000 tons of gold or that Europe still actually has 10,000 tons of gold.
As China (and eventually the rest of the world) moves away from a U.S.-based financial system, the consequences are going to be dramatic.
For instance, right now the average rate of interest that the U.S. government pays on debt is just 2.477 percent.  That is ridiculously low and it is way below the real rate of inflation.  It is simply not rationalfor anyone to lend the U.S. government money so cheaply, and at some point we are going to see a dramatic shift.
When that day arrives, interest rates are going to rise dramatically.  And if the average rate of interest on U.S. government debt rises to just 6 percent (and it has been much higher than that in the past), we will be paying out more than a trillion dollars a year just in interest on the national debt.
Even more frightening is what a rapidly changing interest rate environment would mean for our banking system.  There are four large U.S. banks thateach have exposure to derivatives in excess of 40 trillion dollars.  You can find the identity of those banks right here.  Interest rate derivatives make up the biggest chunk of those derivatives contracts.  As John Embrytold King World News just the other day, when that bubble bursts the carnage is going to be unprecedented…
“Stockman brought up a brilliant point, the fact that we have hundreds of trillions of dollars of interest rate swaps, which are polluting the world’s banking system. If we see growing volatility in interest rates, and I think that’s inevitable with what’s going on, that would cause spasms in the financial system. And if something goes wrong in the derivatives market, Heaven help us because the leverage that is imparted to the banking system through these derivatives is unholy.”
Unfortunately, very few of the “experts” will ever see this crash coming.
Very few of them saw it coming in 2000.
Very few of them saw it coming in 2008.
And very few of them will see it coming this time.
I really like what Paul B. Farrell had to say about this…
Early warnings of a crash are dismissed over and over (“just a temporary correction”). They gradually numb us about the inevitable. Time after time we forget history’s lessons. Until finally a big surprise catches us totally off-guard. Financial historian Niall Ferguson put it this way: Before the crash, our world seems almost stationary, deceptively so, balanced, at a set point. So that when the crash finally hits — as inevitably it will — everyone seems surprised. And our brains keep telling us it’s not time for a crash.
Till then, life just goes along quietly, hypnotizing us, making us vulnerable, till a shocker like Lehman Brothers upsets the balance. Then, says Ferguson, the crash is “accelerating suddenly, like a sports car … like a thief in the night.” It hits. Shocks us wide awake.
Don’t let the upcoming crash take you by surprise.
The warning signs are very clear.
Get ready while you still can.
Money - Photo by Pen Waggener

Banker Clean-Up: We Are At the Precipice of Something So Big, It Will Shake the Financial World to its Core!

I feel that this is one of the most important investigations I’ve ever done. If my findings are correct, each of us might soon experience a severe, if not crippling blow to our personal finances, the confiscation of any wealth some of us have been able to accumulate over our lifetimes, and the end of the financial world as we once knew it.  The evidence to support my findings exists in the trail of dead bodies of financial executives across the globe and a missing Wall Street Journal Reporter who was working at the Dow Jones news room at the time of his disappearance.  If the bodies were dots on a piece of paper, connecting them results in a sinister picture being drawn that involves global criminal activity in the financial world the likes of which is almost without precedent.  It should serve as a warning that we are at the precipice of something so big, it will shake the financial world as we know it to its core.
Although the trail of mysterious and bizarre deaths detailed below begin in late January, 2014, there are others. Not only that, 
there will be more, according to sources within the financial world. Based on my findings, these are not mere random, tragic cases of suicide, but of the methodical silencing of individuals who had the ability to expose financial fraud at the highest levels, and the complicity of certain governmental agencies and individuals who are engaged in the greatest theft of wealth the world has ever seen.
We appear to be witnessing a clean-up where JPMorgan and Deutsche Bankers are at the epicenter of it all.
Are Bankers Being Killed Because They Know Too Much?
Today a brave and outspoken hedge fund manager out of Hong Kong told King World News that what the world has just witnessed is not the suicide of five bankers, but rather five bankers that were killed because of their knowledge, and therefore the threat that they would expose the criminal activity of major banks.  William Kaye, who 25 years ago worked for Goldman Sachs in mergers and acquisitions, also spoke with KWN about why this tragic situation is unfolding in such a gruesome manner.
REALIST NEWS – Another JP Morgan Banker Bites The Dust

Bekas pengerusi DAP Kampung Jering mati ditembak

Bekas Pengerusi DAP Kampung Jering mati akibat di tembak di bahagian badan, tangan dan dada di depan rumahnya di Kampung Jering, Ayer Tawar di Seri Manjung malam tadi.
Mangsa yang dikenali sebagai Wong Kong Ting, 56 yang mengalami pendarahan teruk disahkan meninggal dunia di Hospital Manjung pada pukul 11 malam.
Ketua Polis Daerah Manjung ACP Jaafar Baba berkata dalam kejadian pukul 10.13 malam itu, isteri mangsa terdengar bunyi satu letupan di luar rumah yang disangkakan mercun sebelum melihat suaminya terbaring dalam keadaan berlumuran darah.
"Sebelum kejadian, mangsa baru pulang selepas keluar minum pada pukul 10 malam. Isterinya yang berada di dalam rumah bersama ibu, anak serta sepupunya terkejut mendengar bunyi letupan kuat di luar rumah," katanya kepada pemberita di Ibu Pejabat Polis Daerah Manjung di sini hari ini.
Katanya hasil pemeriksaan di tempat kejadian, polis menemui beberapa kelongsong peluru dan tidak menolak kemungkinan suspek yang terlibat lebih daripada seorang.
Beliau berkata satu pasukan khas polis ditubuhkan yang diketuai Ketua Jabatan Siasatan Jenayah Perak Datuk Mohd Dzuraidi Ibrahim untuk menyiasat motif sebenar kejadian meliputi pelbagai sudut.
"Orang ramai yang mempunyai maklumat mengenai kejadian boleh menyalurkannya kepada Pegawai Penyiasat ASP Ahmad Hisham Mohamad Sani di talian 019-5753207 atau menghubungi IPD Manjung di talian 05-6835222 atau menghubungi mana-mana balai polis berhampiran," katanya.
Mangsa yang juga merupakan kontraktor tanaman semula kelapa sawit memegang jawatan Pengerusi DAP Kampung Jering selama empat tahun bermula 2006 dan kini merupakan anggota biasa dalam parti.
Sementara itu, anak mangsa yang enggan dikenali berkata semasa menemui bapanya terbaring di perkarangan rumahnya, mangsa memberitahu dia ditembak. 
"Ketika kejadian saya, emak serta seorang sepupu yang sedang menonton televisyen dengar bunyi motosikal bapa masuk pintu pagar dan tiba-tiba bunyi letupan kuat di luar.
Kami bergegas keluar dan terkejut apabila melihat bapa dalam keadaan berlumuran darah," katanya.
Katanya bapanya selalu keluar minum malam bersama rakannya di kedai berhampiran.
Beliau berkata jirannya memberitahu ternampak sebuah motosikal yang dipecut laju dari rumahnya selepas kejadian itu. - Bernama, 20 Februari, 2014.

China Sells An Enormous $48 Billion Worth Of U.S. Treasuries

George Soros Bets $1.3 Billion That Stock Market Will Crash! China Snapping Up Gold As Fast As It Can!

A curious finding emerged in the latest 13F by Soros Fund Management, the family office investment vehicle managing the personal wealth of George Soros.
The “Soros put”, a legacy hedge position that the 83-year old has been rolling over every quarter since 2010, just rose to a record $1.3 billion or the notional equivalent of some 7.09 million SPY-equivalent shares.
Since this was an increase of 154% Q/Q this has some people concerned that the author of ‘reflexivity’ and the founder of “open societies” may be anticipating some major market downside.
Soros Fund Management has doubled up a bet that the S&P 500 is headed for a fall.
Within Friday’s 13F filings news was the revelation that the firm, founded by legendary investor George Soros, increased a put position on the S&P 500 ETF SPY by a whopping 154% in the fourth quarter, compared with the third. (A put or short position basically gives the owner the right to sell a security at a set price for a limited time, and in making such a bet, an investor generally believes the security is going to decline.)
The value of that holding, the biggest position in the fund, has risen to $1.3 billion from around $470 million. It now makes up a 11.13% chunk of all reported holdings. It had been cut to 5.14% in the third quarter, from 13.54% in the second quarter, which itself marked another dramatic lift on the bearish call. The numbers can be found at, which makes them slightly easier to digest than the actual SEC filing.
It’s official: China overtakes India as top consumer of gold
Chinese consumer demand – which includes jewelry, bars and coins – rose 32 percent on year to a record 1,066 tonnes in 2013. Indian consumers, by comparison, bought 975 tonnes – a 13 percent rise from the previous year, the latest WGC Gold Demand Trends report published on Tuesday showed. Globally, consumer demand climbed 21 percent on year, totaling 3,864 tonnes.
“Demand for gold in China set a remarkable new record…The impact on the Chinese gold industry of the extraordinary growth in 2013 demand has been marked, with significant growth in both manufacturing and retail network capacity,” the WGC, an industry body representing gold miners, wrote.
Forex: US Dollar May Rise on Pre-Positioning Before FOMC Minutes

New Report Exposes America’s Highest Paid Government Workers

RINF Alternative News
The Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) released a new report today, “EXPOSED: America’s Highest Paid Government Workers.”
The report shows that, contrary to misinformation spread by some politicians and pundits, America’s highest paid “government” workers are not your local teachers, nurses, or sanitation workers. Rather, they are corporate executives who sign lucrative contracts to take over public services and then pay themselves and other executives eye-popping salaries.
This report by CMD highlights just six of these “government” workers who, between them, raked in more than $100 million from taxpayers in personal compensation during the past few years alone.
“Given these astronomical salaries, and evidence of higher prices, poor service, and at times outright malfeasance, taxpayers have every right to be concerned about how their outsourced dollars are spent,” said Lisa Graves, Executive Director of CMD.

These top executives include:
  • George Zoley, America’s highest paid “corrections officer” and CEO of private prison giant GEO Group. Zoley made $22 million in compensation between 2008 and 2012. CMD estimates that GEO Group makes 86 percent of its revenue from the taxpayers. GEO Group writes language into private prison contracts that forces taxpayers to keep prisons full or else pay for empty beds. GEO Group has faced hundreds of lawsuits over prisoner deaths, assaults, excessive force, and more, which have led to secret court settlements.
  • David Steiner, president and CEO of Waste Management, is America’s highest paid “sanitation worker.” Steiner made a whopping $45 million in compensation from 2006 to 2012. Waste Management’s makes about 50 percent of its revenue from U.S. taxpayers, says Goldman Sachs.
  • Ron Packard of K12 Inc. is America’s highest paid “teacher.” Packard made more than $19 million in compensation between 2009 and 2013, despite the alarming fact that only 28 percent of K12 Inc. cyber schools met state standards in 2010-2011, compared to 52 percent of public schools. CMD estimates that K12 Inc. makes 86 percent of its revenue from the taxpayers.
  • Jeffry Sterba, president and CEO of American Water Works Company, is America’s highest paid “water worker.” Sterba has made $8.3 million in the three years he has been top executive. American Water is the largest for-profit provider of water and wastewater services in the United States. CMD estimates that American Water makes approximately 89 percent of its revenue from taxpayers.
  • Richard Montoni, CEO of Maximus, is America’s highest paid “caseworker.” Maximus is a for-profit firm that handles government services for poor and vulnerable residents. Montoni made more than $16 million between 2008 and 2012. In 2013, Maximus landed in hot water for improper billing in Wisconsin. In 2007, Maximus paid $30 million to settle a U.S. Department of Justice criminal investigation into fraudulent billing.
  • Nicholas Moore is America’s highest paid “road worker.” As managing director and CEO of the Australian infrastructure firm Macquarie, Moore made $8.8 million in compensation in fiscal year 2013. As a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), Macquarie has pushed for privatization of public services across the board. It has long-term contracts to run Chicago’s Skyway, Indiana’s Toll Road, and the Dulles Greenway in Virginia.
These and other “government workers” who head big firms that take over public assets or contract for services make billions off of taxpayers, but are not accountable to taxpayers for their enormous salaries being subsidized at public expense. The report also contains information on shareholder lawsuits, criminal investigations, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) sanctions, court settlements, and more.
Find out more at, and follow the conversation on Twitter at #OutsourcingAmerica.
The Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) is a non-profit investigative reporting group. Our reporting and analysis focus on exposing corporate spin and government propaganda. We publish PRWatchSourceWatch, and BanksterUSA. Our newest major investigation is available at

Peter Schiff: Janet Yellen More Bullish For Gold Than Bernanke

Ultimate Insult: Goldman To Prepare Spain's Bankia For New IPO

By Don Quijones, a freelance writer and translator based in Barcelona, Spain. His blog, Raging Bull-Shit, is a modest attempt to challenge some of the wishful thinking and scrub away the lathers of soft soap peddled by our political and business leaders and their loyal mainstream media.
Goldman Sachs, the vampire squid of lore, is in the process of growing a new tentacle. Like so many of its blood sucking appendages, this one will soon be squirming its way into a European market, where it will no doubt wreak havoc while vacuuming up as much ill-gotten wealth as possible.
The ill-fated market this time around is Spain. A few days ago it was announced to great fanfare in Madrid that Grupo Bankia, Spain’s biggest basket-case bank, which to date has cost taxpayers well over 20 billion euros in bailout fees and customers (through the preferentes scam) a cool four billion, would be tentatively dipping its toes once again in the stock market. And the alpha wolves of Wall Street have not only been invited to the bank-uet, they will be cooking it up.
Here’s more from Reuters:
Spain’s bank rescue fund FROB said on Friday it chose Goldman Sachs to advise it on the sale of part of the government’s controlling stake in nationalized lender Bankia (BKIA.MC).
The government is taking steps to start selling part of its 68 percent holding in Bankia, but will maintain control. Economy Minister Luis de Guindos told Reuters this week that small stakes could be sold during the year before a bigger sale in the medium-term.
In short, the bank that helped the Greek government mask the true extent of its deficit with the help of a derivatives deal that legally circumvented the EU Maastricht deficit rules, setting the stage for one of the worst financial crises in the nation’s long history, is back in Europe doing what it does best: namely, working in the shadows to expand its power, influence and wealth at the expense of just about everybody else.
Goldman, we are led to believe, was picked from a long list of potential candidates — including Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse, Citi, UBS and BNP Paribas  – to check the books and survey the terrain in preparation for the state’s disinvestment of between five and ten percent of its holdings in Grupo Bankia.
All this it will do for the price of one measly euro.
Which begs the question: Why would the bank that lords it over European financial markets like no other before be interested in a simple analyst assignment that will pay less than the price of a Big Mac? Has the squid found a conscience somewhere within its deep, putrefying soul (unlikely), or is this merely the latest stunt in an image make-over geared at turning malicious, money-grubbing narcissists into huggable bankers who only want to serve humanity?
Or perhaps there’s something altogether more nefarious behind its interest in Bankia — something even more valuable than money itself? Such as, say, information? You see, not only does GS stand a good chance — conflicts of interest be damned — of later being hired as market maker for Bankia’s IPO, by which it will accrue huge sums in fees and backroom deals with its most valued customers; it will also gain a bird’s eye view of the real health, and more importantly, vulnerabilities of Spain’s fourth largest bank, of which there are no doubt many.
Information, as they say, is power, and for Goldman, power is everything! Lest we forget, GS not only made handsome returns helping the Greek and other governments hide their debt from European authorities through the creative use of derivatives instruments, it also used the information it gleaned through its “partnerships” with those governments to make “speculative” bets against their respective economies’ performance.
To wit, from Business Insider:
While Goldman Sachs was helping Greece hide its debt from the official statistics, it was also hedging its bets through buying insurance on Greek debt as well as using other derivatives trades to protect itself against a potential Greek default on its debt. So while Goldman Sachs engaged in long-term trades with Greek debt (meaning Greece would owe Goldman Sachs a great deal down the line), the firm simultaneously was betting against Greek debt in the short-term, profiting from the Greek debt crisis that it helped create.
All of which is kind of funny given point 12 of Goldman's 14 guiding principles:
We regularly receive confidential information as part of our normal client relationships. To breach a confidence or to use confidential information improperly or carelessly would be unthinkable.
If nothing else, you have to admire the firm’s barefaced chutzpah! Once lionized as the premier “money machine” of Wall Street, Goldman has in the past few years become synonymous with greed and duplicity.
As Matt Taibbi put it so succinctly in his 2009 article for Rolling Stone, The Great American Bubble Machine:
The bank’s unprecedented reach and power have enabled it to turn all of America into a giant pump-and-dump scam, manipulating whole economic sectors for years at a time, moving the dice game as this or that market collapses, and all the time gorging itself on the unseen costs that are breaking families everywhere — high gas prices, rising consumer credit rates, half-eaten pension funds, mass layoffs, future taxes to pay off bailouts.
Even the bank’s own marks clients have not been impervious to its greed. Time and again Goldman has displayed an insouciant willingness to use confidential client data against the very same people and entities that pays its bills and bonuses.
A case in point: a few years ago the firm advised some of its biggest clients to place investment bets against California bonds right after collecting hefty fees from the state for underwriting some of those bonds.
However, by far the most notorious case to date, at least in the U.S., was its Abacus investment vehicle which was used to sell mortgage-related securities to investors. What Goldman absent mindedly forgot to tell them was that the investment vehicle had been designed in consultation with hedge fund manager John Paulson, who chose securities he expected to decline in value and had shorted the portfolio. Paulson and Goldman naturally made a killing, all at the expense, of course, of many of the investment bank’s lesser clients.
That said, it is in Europe where Goldman Sachs has made by far its biggest killing to date. The bank that, oh so conveniently, had a former CEO, Hank Paulson (no relation to John), installed as U.S. Treasury Secretary just before the implosion of the U.S. economy in 2008 now has alumni carefully positioned at the very highest echelons of Europe’s financial power centres (see this graphic), including at the helm of the ECB and the Bank of England, Europe’s preeminent central banks.
Now Goldman has its sights and tentacles firmly trained on Spain, none of which bodes well for Bankia or the country’s already moribund economy. The fact that Bankia has spectacularly crashed once already in its two-and-a-half year lifetime should be enough to make any investor think twice before parting with his or her hard or ill-gotten cash.
Throw in the fact that the IPO will be drawn up by an investment bank that has consistently shown an acute disregard for its clients’ needs or interests — indeed anyone’s interests but its own — and you can’t help but wonder whether Bankia will go down in history as the world’s shortest lived Too-Big-To-Fail bank.
One thing is certain: Goldman will be just fine. It will dust off its designer jacket, pick up its bloody spoils and wait, probably not for long, for the next in line of our respective governments to invite it to seize and plunder what little remains of our national wealth. By Don Quijones, Raging Bull-Shit.
Branch manager Gómez Ortega, by deciding to warn his customers about the risks of these toxic preferentes — they should never have been sold to savers — set himself on collision course with the bank's head office in Madrid. Read..... The Fate Of A Good Banker In Spain’s Financial Bloodbath

Smedley Butler on Interventionism

-- Excerpt from a speech delivered in 1933, by Major General Smedley Butler, USMC.
War is just a racket. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of people. Only a small inside group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few at the expense of the masses. I believe in adequate defense at the coastline and nothing else. If a nation comes over here to fight, then we'll fight. The trouble with America is that when the dollar only earns 6 percent over here, then it gets restless and goes overseas to get 100 percent. Then the flag follows the dollar and the soldiers follow the flag. I wouldn't go to war again as I have done to protect some lousy investment of the bankers. There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. War for any other reason is simply a racket. There isn't a trick in the racketeering bag that the military gang is blind to. It has its "finger men" to point out enemies, its "muscle men" to destroy enemies, its "brain men" to plan war preparations, and a "Big Boss" Super-Nationalistic-Capitalism. It may seem odd for me, a military man to adopt such a comparison. Truthfulness compels me to. I spent thirty- three years and four months in active military service as a member of this country's most agile military force, the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major-General. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high class muscle- man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I suspected I was just part of a racket at the time. Now I am sure of it. Like all the members of the military profession, I never had a thought of my own until I left the service. My mental faculties remained in suspended animation while I obeyed the orders of higher-ups. This is typical with everyone in the military service. I helped make Mexico, especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912 (where have I heard that name before?). I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. In China I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested. During those years, I had, as the boys in the back room would say, a swell racket. Looking back on it, I feel that I could have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.

China Starts To Make A Power Move Against The U.S. Dollar

US Dollars - Photo by selbstfotografiert
In order for our current level of debt-fueled prosperity to continue, the rest of the world must continue to use our dollars to trade with one another and must continue to buy our debt at ridiculously low interest rates.  Of course the number one foreign nation that we depend on to participate in our system is China.  China accounts for more global trade than anyone else on the planet (including the United States), and most of that trade is conducted in U.S. dollars.  This keeps demand for our dollars very high, and it ensures that we can import massive quantities of goods from overseas at very low cost.  As a major exporting nation, China ends up with gigantic piles of our dollars.  They lend many of those dollars back to us at ridiculously low interest rates.  At this point, China owns more of our national debt than any other country does.  But if China was to decide to quit playing our game and started moving away from U.S. dollars and U.S. debt, our economic prosperity could disappear very rapidly.  Demand for the U.S. dollar would fall and prices would go up.  And interest rates on our debt and everything else in our financial system would go up to crippling levels.  So it is absolutely critical to our financial future that China continues to play our game. (Read More....)

How Energy Companies Are ‘Robbing the ‘Hood’

Low-income residents in Oakland and throughout the state likely will face higher energy bills in the years to come, while wealthy residents will see rate cuts.

John Hrabe
The Kardashian family’s spotlight consumes real power. For five seasons, the gated-community of Hidden Hills, Calif., served as the backdrop for the TV show “Keeping Up with the Kardashians.” During that time, Hidden Hills consistently topped the list of what Forbesmagazine has called the state’s “most egregious energy hogs.”
In September 2012, every home in Hidden Hills consumed an average of nearly four-and a-half megawatt hours of electricity, according to energy consumption data from the California Public Utilities Commission. That’s 4.3 million watts used to fuel each of the star-powered homes owned by Drake, Britney Spears, the Osbournes, Jessica Simpson, and Sean Penn. For just a single month. You would have to leave a standard light bulb on for more than eight years to match that level of energy use.
About 370 miles north, the average household in Oakland used less energy than that during all of 2012. But Oakland and Hidden Hills aren’t anomalies. There’s a strong correlation between energy use and wealth.
Browse the country’s most expensive zip codes, and you’ll find a list of the state’s biggest energy consumers. Atherton, Hillsborough, Los Altos Hills, Rolling Hills, and Woodside, are all among the state’s biggest energy hogs, while communities like Oakland and Southeast Los Angeles consume the least energy.
Yet, in the coming years, energy bills likely will be going down in Hidden Hills and up in Oakland, thanks to a controversial energy rate restructuring plan that was passed by the legislature and signed by Governor Jerry Brown last year.
This is the story of how that bill passed, why a notorious special-interest junket to Maui is partially to blame, and how the state Senate’s only convicted felon tried to stop his colleagues from “robbing the ‘hood.”

Not every kilowatt of electricity sold in California costs the same. The CPUC categorizes rates in five different price tiers, based on energy consumption. Some consumers, as a result, pay as much as 233 percent more than others. Pacific Gas & Electric Company customers in Tier 1 pay as little as 12 cents per kilowatt, whereas Tier 4 customers, who use more than 200 percent of the baseline energy consumption, pay 40 cents for the same quantity of electricity.
As heavily regulated and complicated as it may be, energy policy in California traditionally could be reduced to one simple philosophy: The more energy you use, the more you pay.
Is this tiered-pricing fair? Well, that depends on your perspective. For low-income families, it means a relatively fixed price as long as they stay within the energy baseline. The rate structure also encourages energy conservation and provides an incentive to make energy-savings improvements to older, energy-inefficient homes. However, in hot-weather areas of the state, such as the Central Valley, rich and poor alike spend big bucks to run the AC during the middle of summer.
Fair or not, the policy means higher energy bills for hot-weather regions of the state and large commercial users that consume substantial amounts of energy. It also means lower bills for consumers who invest in renewable energy systems that take their homes off the grid.
But that all may come to an end with Assembly Bill 327, which took effect on January 1. Authored by Assemblyman Henry Perea, D-Fresno, the bill promises to produce the biggest change to California’s energy laws since deregulation. The bill grants the California Public Utilities Commission substantial power to rewrite California’s energy policy.
Read more

Asia Imports Huge 80% Of Swiss Gold And Silver Exports In January

Today’s AM fix was USD 1,313.75, EUR 959.22 and GBP 788.90 per ounce.
Yesterday’s AM fix was USD 1,318.75, EUR 959.09 and GBP 791.14 per ounce.
Gold fell $11.80 or 0.89% yesterday to $1,310.20/oz. Silver dropped $0.52 or 2.37% at $21.44/oz.
Gold and Silver Cross Currency Rates – (Bloomberg)
Gold is marginally higher in London as investors continue to digest the recent weaker U.S. data and continuing ultra loose monetary policies. Gold futures dropped 0.8% yesterday as minutes from the last meeting of the U.S. Federal Reserve suggested that the Fed will not scale back plans to reduce their monthly multi billion dollar bond purchases.
More data overnight confirms that gold is flowing from west to east and from the western banking system into strong store of wealth hands in Asia. This includes Asian investors and store of wealth buyers and indeed Asian central banks including the People’s Bank of China.
Asia accounted for more than 80% of Swiss gold and silver bullion coin and bar exports in January, the Swiss Federal Customs Administration said today in an e-mailed report covered by Bloomberg.
Interestingly, as suspected most of the bullion exported to Asia from Switzerland came from London.
As holdings in gold-backed funds that are mostly listed in the U.S. and Europe declined, lower prices led to demand from Asia in a further sign of bullion flowing from the west to east. While the majority of the demand is from Asia itself, there is a percentage of the flow that is of western investors seeking to own gold outside the banking system, in what they perceive to be safer jurisdictions in allocated gold accounts Hong Kong and Singapore.
Hong Kong was the top destination of Swiss bullion exports at 44% on a value basis, with India at 14%, the Bern-based customs agency said in its first breakdown of the gold trade data since 1980.
Singapore accounted for 8.6% of exports, the United Arab Emirates 7.9% and China 6.3%, according to Bloomberg.
Switzerland imported 4.32 billion Swiss francs ($4.87 billion) of gold and silver bullion from the U.K., or 60% of total inbound shipments, according to the report. The U.S. was second at 4.9%, Italy at 3.8%, Germany at 2.8% and Thailand at 2.5%, the data showed.
Webinar: Gerald Celente On Strategies For Protecting Your Wealth In 2014 And BeyondJoin Gerald Celente on this broadcast today as he examines the opportunities in 2014 and in the coming uncertain years.
Gerald Celente needs little introduction: Founder of The Trends Research Institute in 1980, Gerald Celente is a pioneer trend strategist. He is author of the national bestseller Trends 2000 and Trend Tracking (Warner Books) and publisher of the internationally circulated Trends Journal newsletter.
Celente’s Trends Research Institute has been featured on Oprah Winfrey amongst hundreds of media interviews and credited with forecasting many major geopolitical and economic trends.
These include the “Panic of ’08,” the collapse of the Soviet Union, the dot-com bust, the 1997 Asian currency crisis, the 1987 world stock market crash, increased terrorism against America, “Crusades 2000,” and the quagmire in Iraq … before war began and the last two recessions.
This webinar is scheduled for today, February 20, 2014, 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM GMT and will be moderated by Mark O’Byrne, Head of Research at GoldCore.

The New Fascism: Terms and Conditions

Let’s talk about those pesky terms and conditions.
Last month, I had a chance to talk with John McAfee, the founder of the popular McAfee computer security programs.
We talked about how people usually don’t read the terms and conditions of the smartphone applications that they download onto their phones.
But McAfee did read the terms and conditions of the Bank of America smartphone application, and what he saw was pretty shocking.
McAfee told me that, by agreeing to the terms and conditions for the Bank of America application, “You give the Bank of America application, which is the remote banking application, the permission to turn on your phone and make phone calls at your expense and without telling you, to turn on your camera and microphone without telling you at any time, and to transmit pictures and sound files.”
While you may not exactly be signing away your life to Bank of America, you’re giving the big bank a great deal of access to your private life whenever it wants. That’s pretty scary.
And Bank of America isn’t the only big bank or corporation using terms and conditions to barge in on your private life.
Fellow big bank Capital One sent out a new contract update with new terms and conditions to its credit card holders.
And as the Los Angeles Times puts it, the bank, “makes clear it can drop by any time it pleases.”
The new terms and conditions specify that the bank, “may contact you in any manner we choose” including emails, calls, texts, and faxes.
Ok, that’s not terrible.
But then comes the part when Capital One says it might make “personal visits” which can be “at your home and at your place of employment.”
So, say you’re a Capital One credit card holder, and you forget to make a monthly payment. According to the terms and conditions that you just agreed to, Capital One can come to your office and harass you to make that payment. And if you’ve left work for the day, bank representatives could come to your home.
And if you’re lucky enough to avoid a “personal visit” from Capital One, the bank may still call you at all hours of the night, without revealing its identity.
That’s because the new terms and conditions also state that the bank, “may modify or suppress caller ID and similar services and identify ourselves on these services in any manner we choose.”
Many people might interpret this to mean that Capital One can trick you into thinking you’re getting a call from your doctor’s office or your mother-in-law, and it’s all perfectly legal.
The invasive nature of Bank of America‘s and Capital One’s terms and conditions are another example of how corporations have run amok in America, with very little to stop them.
But they’re also symptoms of a larger problem: fascism in the 21st century.
Historically when we talk about fascism we think about Mussolini and his replacement of the elected parliament with corporate representatives.
After all, he invented the word “fascism” to describe the merger of corporate and state interests.
And today when we talk about fascism, we talk about how corporations are buying off politicians in Washington, and taking control of our democracy.
But what about fascism that doesn’t even involve governments, except to enforce contracts?
We’re witnessing a new era of fascism, where corporations are creating intrusive and over-bearing terms and conditions that customers click to agree to without even reading.
As a result, corporations in America have acquired king-like power, while we’re the poor serfs that must abide by their every rule or else.
But enough is enough.
It’s time for us all to start saying “wait a minute.”
We need to have a national conversation, and establish clear guidelines on what corporations can and can’t do in those never-ending lists of terms and conditions.
And we need to put those guidelines into law, so Bank of America can’t spy on you in the bedroom, and Capital One can’t come running into your workplace.
Sometimes big government is needed to help Americans take back their lives, and this is definitely one of those times.
Thom Hartmann is a Project Censored Award-winning New York Times best-selling author, and host of a nationally syndicated daily progressive talk program on the Air America Radio Network, live noon-3 PM ET.

Silver Has More Potential Than Gold – Mike Maloney

New York McDonald’s fires 8-year worker after she donates food to firefighters

Heather Levia fired by New York McDonald's (WIVB)
A McDonald’s restaurant in New York fired a worker after 8 years because she “opened a whole bee’s nest” by buying food for firefighters after they put out a house fire, she said this week.
Heather Levia, 23, told WIVB that she was working as a manager when the group of firefighters came in and ordered 23 breakfast sandwiches after fighting the blaze. It was a cold day so Levia covered the $83 cost of the meals herself.
“Just because I appreciate everything they do,” she said.
When more firefighters came in and ordered $70 worth of food, Levia wanted to cover those meals too. But she is a single mother with twins who is working two jobs to put herself through nursing school.
So, she called her boss, thinking he might pay for the meals because he often gives food to police officers.
After her boss said no, she called corporate and was told no again. Eventually, Levia and her coworkers came up with enough cash to cover the meals themselves.
The firefighters later contacted the store management when they learned that the meals had been paid for by employees. That’s when Levia’s boss accused her of opening “a whole bee’s nest,” she said.
The store fired Levia during her next shift for swearing at a superior, which she denied.
“I did say this is ‘freaking’ ridiculous. But it was not implied to anybody,” she explained to WIVB.
McDonald’s restaurant owner Tom Meyers told the station that he would not talk about the dismissal “[o]ut of respect for Ms. Levia and her privacy.”
“The Meyers Organization has always valued the employees who serve our customers every day. We likewise continue to be an ardent supporter of our police and fire departments, along with other first responders. They are always welcome in our restaurants, and we will continue to support them in the future,” Meyers said in a statement.
“We are aware that certain allegations have been made concerning the reasons for Heather Levia’s termination,” he added. “Out of respect for Ms. Levia and her privacy, it would not be appropriate to comment in detail on the reasons she is no longer employed by our organization. Still, it should be pointed out that the allegations are absolutely not true. We would never penalize an employee for showing appropriate gratitude for the work of our firefighters.”
As for Levia, she expected to spend the next few weeks looking for a job. She has already received several offers.
Watch the video below from WIVB, broadcast Feb. 18, 2014.