Revelations from the Torture Report – CIA Lies, Nazi Methods and the $81 Million No-Bid Torture Contract

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Courtesy of Michael Krieger @ Liberty Blitz Krieg:

After initially helping to devise the “enhanced interrogation” efforts, they were designated as the only two contractors allowed to oversee these interrogations at sites around the world. In 2005, they formed a company to receive contracts from the CIA. According to the Senate report, the base value of their contract in 2006 was in excess of $180 million.

By the time the CIA terminated their contract in 2009, the consulting firm founded by the two men had collected $81 million in taxpayer money. In May of that year, ProPublica reported, the firm abruptly gave up the lease on its Spokane, Washington, headquarters and disconnected the phone.

Still, according to the Senate report, the CIA will provide $5 million in indemnity costs to the firm to cover all legal expenses for potential criminal prosecution and investigations through 2021.

– From the Huffington Post article: Architects Of CIA Torture Program Raked In $81 Million, Report Reveals

One of the greatest propaganda successes of the consolidated and corporate owned mainstream media in the US. has been its ability to convince many naive Americans that people with fascist tendencies do not exist in our society, and it they do, they certainly don’t reside in the highest halls of power.

One of the key points I try to get across in my writing is that the sociopathic mindset knows no borders, and a society that ignorantly believes that its “leadership” consists of good people with a moral high ground is a society of sheep primed for slaughter. Not only do fascist types exist at the highest levels of the U.S. status quo, the smart ones will typically do everything they can to attain such positions. Why?

As I noted recently in the post, In Great Britain, Protecting Pedophile Politicians is a Matter of “National Security”:

I’ve long written about how the percentage of sociopaths within a group of humans becomes increasingly concentrated the higher you climb within the positions of power in a society, with it being most chronic amongst those who crave political power.

The reason for this is obvious. Those with the sickest minds, and who wish to act upon their destructive fantasies, understand that they can most easily get away with their deeds if they are protected by an aura of power and ostensible respectability. They believe that as a result of their status, no one would dare accuse them of horrific activities, and if it ever came to that, they could quash any investigation. Continue reading

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Yes, we can reshape the state – if corporations pay more tax

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George Osborne has announced the so-called Google tax. Photograph: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

Courtesy of Will Hutton @ The Guardian:

If companies in Britain paid, proportionally, as much tax as they did in the last year of Mrs Thatcher’s prime ministership, the country would be £30bn better off. There would still be a deficit, but the fiscal situation would be transformed. The crisis talk of the unprecedented reshaping of the state to the same level – in terms of percentage of GDP – as it stood in the 1930s would recede. It would not be necessary.

The chancellor has nothing if not sensitive political antennae. This kind of claim cannot be allowed to get any traction. It is a political imperative that he and his allies keep the national conversation away from the structure of the tax base. Instead they need to concentrate firmly on the shortcomings of the allegedly inefficient state and featherbedding of the welfare system – always taken as axiomatic – and thus the inevitable necessity for their reshaping and downsizing. The Conservative party’s brand is toxic enough without being seen as being soft on companies and tough on the poor and average citizen.

So last week Mr Osborne announced the popular profits diversion tax, or Google tax. It is widely advertised that he is doing all in his power to increase the tax take from rogue multinationals who artificially organise their affairs to reduce their British taxes. Company directors have a new duty to notify Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs every year if, in their opinion, their tax arrangements qualify as artificial: instead of paying 21% corporation tax they would pay a penalty 25%. It was left unsaid in the accompanying documents, but any financial officer who did not notify the tax authorities of what his or her company was doing would risk being disqualified from holding office. Continue reading

Presenting The $303 Trillion In Derivatives That US Taxpayers Are Now On The Hook For

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Courtesy of The Hedge:

Courtesy of the Cronybus(sic) last minute passage, government was provided a quid-pro-quo $1.1 trillion spending allowance with Wall Street’s blessing in exchange for assuring banks that taxpayers would be on the hook for yet another bailout, as a result of the swaps push-out provision, after incorporating explicit Citigroup language that allows financial institutions to trade certain financial derivatives from subsidiaries that are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp, explicitly putting taxpayers on the hook for losses caused by these contracts. Recall:

Five years after the Wall Street coup of 2008, it appears the U.S. House of Representatives is as bought and paid for as ever. We heard about the Citigroup crafted legislation currently being pushed through Congress back in May when Mother Jones reported on it. Fortunately, they included the following image in their article:

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Continue reading

Named and shamed: The government MPs profiting from NHS sell-off

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Sickening: These are some of the prominent government ministers who have profited from allowing private companies to provide NHS healthcare services. Meanwhile…

Courtesy of Voxpolitical:

Here’s a new wrinkle on an old story: The social media have been publishing lists of MPs with shares in private healthcare companies – and therefore have their noses in the trough as these companies profit from NHS contracts – since before the Health and Social Care Act 2012 was passed. Now the Unite union has published its own list and the mainstream media have got involved.

Good for Unite – at last this corruption is receiving the attention it deserves.

Named on the list of 71 Coalition MPs (64 Tories; seven Liberal Democrats) are David Cameron and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, along with former Health Secretary Andrew Lansley – proving that corruption played a huge part in the introduction of private firms into NHS work.

Nick Clegg and Vince Cable are also named, providing a clear indication of why the Liberal Democrats colluded in this – we can only call it – crime. Even though none of the politicians mentioned in the list acted against current UK laws, they all acted dishonestly in claiming that the change was good for the country when in fact they meant it was good for themselves.

How many of them declared this clear conflict of interest while voting for the Health and Social Care Act in 2012? None seems the most likely answer.

According to the Daily Mirror, “All 71 MPs named in the dossier voted in favour of the Government’s controversial Health and Social Care Act in 2012, which opened up the NHS to more private firms.”

The revelation comes ahead of Friday’s vote on Labour MP Clive Efford’s Private Members’ Bill, which calls on MPs to scrap key sections of the Act.

This Bill is not to be confused with Labour’s plan to abolish the Act altogether, which could only happen after a Labour government is elected in May next year. The UK Parliamentary system works in such a way that the sitting government can never lose a whipped vote as its members outnumber all other groups in the House of Commons; it is a shame that this blog has to spell it out but some readers have demonstrated a lack of understanding in this regard.

The list includes Andrew Lansley’s now-infamous £21,000 donation in November 2009 from John Nash, the former chairman of Care UK, and Jeremy Hunt received more than £20,000 from hedge fund baron Andrew Law, a major investor in healthcare firms. Continue reading

The $9 Billion Witness: Meet JPMorgan Chase’s Worst Nightmare

Courtesy of Matt Taibi @ Rollingstone:

She tried to stay quiet, she really did. But after eight years of keeping a heavy secret, the day came when Alayne Fleischmann couldn’t take it anymore.

“It was like watching an old lady get mugged on the street,” she says. “I thought, ‘I can’t sit by any longer.'”

Fleischmann is a tall, thin, quick-witted securities lawyer in her late thirties, with long blond hair, pale-blue eyes and an infectious sense of humor that has survived some very tough times. She’s had to struggle to find work despite some striking skills and qualifications, a common symptom of a not-so-common condition called being a whistle-blower.

Fleischmann is the central witness in one of the biggest cases of white-collar crime in American history, possessing secrets that JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon late last year paid $9 billion (not $13 billion as regularly reported – more on that later) to keep the public from hearing.

Back in 2006, as a deal manager at the gigantic bank, Fleischmann first witnessed, then tried to stop, what she describes as “massive criminal securities fraud” in the bank’s mortgage operations.

Thanks to a confidentiality agreement, she’s kept her mouth shut since then. “My closest family and friends don’t know what I’ve been living with,” she says. “Even my brother will only find out for the first time when he sees this interview.”

Six years after the crisis that cratered the global economy, it’s not exactly news that the country’s biggest banks stole on a grand scale. That’s why the more important part of Fleischmann’s story is in the pains Chase and the Justice Department took to silence her.

She was blocked at every turn: by asleep-on-the-job regulators like the Securities and Exchange Commission, by a court system that allowed Chase to use its billions to bury her evidence, and, finally, by officials like outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder, the chief architect of the crazily elaborate government policy of surrender, secrecy and cover-up. “Every time I had a chance to talk, something always got in the way,” Fleischmann says.

This past year she watched as Holder’s Justice Department struck a series of historic settlement deals with Chase, Citigroup and Bank of America. The root bargain in these deals was cash for secrecy. The banks paid big fines, without trials or even judges – only secret negotiations that typically ended with the public shown nothing but vague, quasi-official papers called “statements of facts,” which were conveniently devoid of anything like actual facts.

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Jamie Dimon (Photo: Bloomberg/Getty) Continue reading

The Common Purpose – State Control of the Press by Appointment

David Cameron declares his interests with Common Purpose. Suddenly the press and media realise that he was part of the same Common Purpose that created the Leveson Inquiry. It was an oversight? No State Control of the Press is by appointment….

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Courtesy of Brian Gerrish @ The Uk Column:

Nothing could be so obvious, for those that are prepared to look, that the British State is taking direct control of the press via the Leveson Inquiry. This will only be the start. Controls for the wider TV media and Web based media will follow, as sure as night follows day. For now we will concentrate on the press – the follow on should then be obvious. Firstly we recognise that the Mainstream Press is not really free in any sense. Whatever the title, Telegraph, Mail, Sun, Guardian or other, the publication is controlled by those that control the finances and their legal teams, who are in turn controlled by the Bar Council, to whom they pledge their allegiance. History demonstrates however that despite this control, truth has a habit of bubbling to the surface, as competing journalists and titles publish their wares. True enough, the increasing centralisation of newspaper titles in the hands of a few corporations is a dangerous precedent, but at the moment that is a secondary threat to freedom and liberty. The Common Purpose of Leveson is the real and present danger.

Created on the back of a massive lie, that press phone hacking was not controllable by existing laws, the Guardian and its Common Purpose tentacle, the Media Standards Trust, deliberately created and fueled a press, media and government furore. The Guardian was even prepared to cynically use an emotive family tragedy and a lie, by falsely claiming that Millie Dowler’s texts were deleted.

By the time the phone hacking firestorm was burning, the UK Column and CP Exposed had been warning for several years of the danger of the political charity Common Pupose, and its subversive objectives to destroy both liberty and democracy in UK. Using key information taken from the UK Column, the Daily Mail eventually joined some of the dots in December 2012, to publish an expose of the Common Purpose network wrapped around Leveson. The Telegraph and Sun followed suit, as did the Guardian with a disingenuous piece ignoring the fact that its parent, the Scott Trust, had funded the Common Purpose Media Standards Trust in the first place. To their credit, the Mail, Telegraph and Sun exposure also covered the role of the Common Purpose created Hacked Off campaign, but none of the press identified the critical danger to press freedoms – the influence and control of David Bell (Common Purpose Chair of Trustees) and Julia Middleton (Common Purpose CEO), already deeply embedded in Cameron’s government. Continue reading

Bank of England warns City Misconduct is Undermining Public Trust

Courtesy of Jill Treanor @ The Guardian:

The Bank of England has warned of “deep-rooted problems” in the City that are undermining public trust in the financial system, as it launched a sweeping review intended to wipe out market manipulation.

In her first speech as deputy governor of the Bank of England, Nemat “Minouche” Shafik said the behaviour of traders in foreign exchange, currencies and bonds markets pointed to a pattern of behaviour that goes beyond a few rogue players.

Saying she had found the behaviour of Libor riggers outrageous, Shafik said that the ongoing fines for misconduct were “like salt rubbed into the wounds to public confidence in financial markets”.

About £4bn of fines have already been levied for manipulation of key benchmark rates such as Libor and the City is braced for fines for rigging the currency markets to be announced next month.

“Public outrage is based on the fact that rewards in finance are disproportionate and the system is rigged. When people read of malpractice in financial markets, of trading profits being claimed through manipulation, collusion or dishonesty, they naturally wonder if they are one of the people who have been wronged,” said Shafik.

She was speaking at the London School of Economics as she launched a much-anticipated consultation into the markets for fixed income, foreign exchange and commodities, which are collectively known as FICC and generated $117bn (£72bn) of revenues for the big investment banks in 2013. These are global markets and any cleanup efforts would need international cooperation.

George Osborne commissioned the review in his Mansion House speech in June and it is due to report next June, after the general election.

“The integrity of the City matters to the economy of Britain. Markets here set the interest rates for people’s mortgages, the exchange rates for our exports and holidays, and the commodity prices for the goods we buy,” the chancellor said on Monday.

Shafik said these markets affected everyone’s lives. They are huge, she said, describing how the global stock of bonds was worth about $100tn (£62tn) in 2013 – bigger than world GDP.

“The initial argument that it is just the case of a ‘few bad apples’ is not longer credible. Instead it seems that there were deep-rooted problems in the nature of the FICC markets that resulted in practices that would be unacceptable elsewhere,” said Shafik. Continue reading