Archive | March, 2013

UK Government ‘Wastes’ £200k on New Anti-Piracy Tech

Posted on 31 March 2013 by JGVibes


In ever-more futile efforts to ‘fix’ piracy, lots of methods have been tried, and it’s doubtful there are very many left, except the obvious one of giving consumers what they want.

Cyber Security Spy Task Force

Cyber Security Spy Task Force

Torrent Freak
April 1, 2013

Now the UK Intellectual Property Office has given almost £200,000 to two new projects that will almost certainly fail.

Let’s face facts here. Piracy-wise, the horse has already bolted. A majority of the population knows how to get what they want, and how to circumvent measures.

The old guard, however, are pushing for ever more draconian measures in an attempt to turn back the tide. Now the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) has reached out to some groups it hopes might provide the metaphorical Silver Bullet (or at least white one) to deal with it.

On Thursday, the IPO and the Department of Business Industry and Skills (BIS – better known for being the department that rammed the Digital Economy act through after some back-room deals) proudly announced two anti-piracy grants. Contracts totaling £196,000 were signed with two companies as a result of a competition by the Technology Strategy Board called “How to promote Legitimate Online Intellectual Property Markets”. The simple business-oriented answers of “adapt to new technologies” and “give consumers what they want” clearly were not submitted.

£83,000 went to the University of Surrey for what the BIS calls “a novel scheme for protecting digital media content”, or as we generally call it, DRM. Few details are actually available at present, but the IPO describes it thusly:

Digital content which has been obtained illegally is automatically blocked by the system. A key feature of the proposed technology is not to inconvenience legitimate users like existing Digital Rights Management systems do: Users don’t need to worry about how to configure and use the system; they just use their devices as usual without even knowing about its existence. The technology is patent-pending and further details will be available once it is published.

And if this sounds like the claims made of every other DRM product, you’d be right. Once removed for one person, it’s removed for anyone else, making DRM’d goods MORE popular for piracy.

Meanwhile those using the DRM’d product are restricted to what the DRM allows, which does inconvenience others. Just ask Apple about Fairplay and why they removed it, or users who’ve fallen foul of CSS, AACS, or indeed any other DRM scheme. In reality, ditching DRM reduces piracy

The lion’s share of the money – £113,000 – went to a company called ‘WhiteBullet’. If you’ve not heard of them, you’re not alone. Started less than 3 months ago, its big idea is that websites really need a colour-coding system so people can tell how ‘legitimate’ it is. Called the “IP Infringement Index”, or IPI, it’s a red/amber/green rating for sites based on how ‘infringing’ they think a site is.

Of course, like all automated systems there are going to be significant errors. When Viacom can’t tell if it uploaded stuff to YouTube itself in court filings, or music blogs get seized because record labels forgot they told them to distribute songs, any automated system assessing 3rd party infringement will be next to useless.

Also missing is exactly how this IPI rating will be used. A consumer-based system would require either a browser plugin, or the likes of Google to integrate it. A private ‘look at our score for your site’ model, by contrast, will have all the wide-ranging appeal and accuracy of a Special 301 report. Also, its claim to be “developed in conjunction with industry and law enforcement” and “in accordance with legal best practices and have been openly reviewed with key Internet stakeholders” might be more believable if they had some actual specifics.

Of course, that’s not so surprising when you find out the two people behind White Bullet are Peter Szyszko and Jane Sunderland. Peter was Senior Legal Counsel at NBC Universal from January 2006, until he left to form White Bullet.

Sunderland is no slouch in the establishment anti-piracy world either. Between 1997 and 2011 she was Vice President of Content Protection at Fox, with another three years before that as VP Intellectual Property. Some of her most memorable actions there include the statement back in 2007 that episodes of 24 uploaded to YouTube before their airdate could cause irreparable harm to Fox (and yet they’re still here)

So never fear our British readers. Public funds are being spent wisely on yet another DRM scheme and a ‘scoring’ system that has no obvious method of use, all to protect massively profitable media companies. Isn’t austerity great?

And if we find out more about how these new white elephant bullets, or DRM-that-isn’t are supposed to work,  we’ll let you know.

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Kuwaiti Activists Rally for Gitmo Prisoners, Hunger Strikers ‘Prepare for Death’

Posted on 31 March 2013 by JGVibes


Hundreds of protesters flocked on to the streets of Kuwait in support of two Kuwaiti nationals who have been kept at the notorious US prison for over a decade. The protest comes as hunger strikers at the prison say they will die before stopping.

kuwait_map

Kuwait, officially the State of Kuwait, is a sovereign Arab state situated in the north-east of the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia. (Photo: Britannica)

RT
April 1, 2013

The rally, dubbed “Rescue Fayiz Al Kandari & Fawzi Al Odah,” took place outside the US embassy.

Fawaz Sahod Anzi, from the International Anti-Guantanamo Coalition (IAGC) called on US authorities to recognize that the Kuwaiti nationals in American custody are “not animals but humans who have dignity that must be respected,” was quoted by sabr.cc

The protesters also voiced their anger over the Kuwait government’s inability to act. Anzi  continued, “I did not find any condemnation of the members of the National Assembly or a statement or a statement denouncing the handling of inmates inside the prison.”

Image from alziadiq8.com

Image from alziadiq8.com

Fayiz Al Kandari was captured in Afghanistan as he was traveling to Pakistan shortly after the US invaded the country following the September 11, 2001, terror attacks. The Guantanamo military commission charged him with war crimes, believing him to be a trained jihadist recruiter. His lawyers said most of the evidence against Al Kandari was based on hearsay. He has been in US custody for almost 11 years.

Fawzi Al Odah was also captured while traveling to Pakistan through Afghanistan by what his family called bounty hunters seeking American reward money for Arabs. The US believes him to be a Taliban foot soldier with links to Al Qaeda. He has spent more than 11 years in Guantanamo prison.

Both men were involved in previous hunger strikes in the prison, and were subjected to force-feeding; Al Kandari was reportedly one of the detainees who has lost much weight during the ongoing protest.

A lawyer representing 15 Guantanamo detainees said the strikers are prepared to die before ending their protest.

“It’s the ultimate expression of desperation,” David Remes told AFP after meeting two of the inmates on Friday.

“It’s a matter of personal autonomy… the detainees are determined to take it all the way unless the military stops searching their Korans.” The prisoners feel “death is with them, death is coming to them,” Remes quoted one of the men as saying.

Image from alziadiq8.com

Image from alziadiq8.com

Prisoners at Guantanamo have since early February been engaged in what appears to be the prison’s biggest hunger strike in a decade. US authorities have said that 31 inmates are on hunger strike, with 11 of them being force-fed. Lawyers and rights activists reported more than 100 of the 166 Guantanamo prisoners, possibly as many as 130, are participating in the protest in some way.

The ongoing protest was reportedly sparked by a change in the treatment of prisoners by a new contingent of guards. The inmates complained of seizures of personal items and mishandling of the holy Koran, bordering on sacrilege, among other things.

Guantanamo authorities initially denied reports that the hunger strike was taking place, but later admitted to the fact while attempting to downplay its scale. They have denied allegations that jailors mistreating the prisoners or their Korans.

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Cyprus President’s Family Transferred Millions to London Days Before Bank Confiscations

Posted on 31 March 2013 by JGVibes


Before the people of Cyprus knew that their savings were going to be confiscated, the president’s family transferred millions of dollars out of the country through one of their companies.

Nicos_Anastasiades_Cyprus_President

President Nicos Anastasiades in Cyprus Parliament

By JG Vibes
Intellihub.com
April 1, 2013

Over the weekend it was reported that people in Cyprus may lose as much as 60 percent of the money in their savings accounts.

The president of Cyprus, acting on behalf of the people, rolled over to the EU and agreed to go along with their plan and continue to mandate the EU currency under his jurisdiction.

Just days before the confiscations were announced to the public, a company closely connected to the president of Cyprus transferred millions of dollars to London.

RT reported that:

During two days, 12 and 13 of March, the company A.Loutsios & Sons Ltd., co-owned by Loutsios John, the husband of Nikos Anastasiadis’ daughter, Elsa, took five promissory notes worth €21 million from Laiki Bank. The money was then transferred to London, reported Cypriot newspaper Haravgi, affiliated to the communist-rooted AKEL party.  The withdrawal was fulfilled just three days before the Eurogroup meeting when euro finance ministers agreed a 10 billion euro ($13 billion) bailout for Cyprus. The newspaper recalls that Cyprus Finance Minister, Michalis Sarris, publicly admitted that the government was aware in advance about the Eurogroup’s intentions to impose a “haircut” on bank deposits of more than 100,000 euros.

Responding to the allegations, Anastasiades said: “The attempt to defame companies or people linked to my family… is nothing but an attempt to distract people from the liability of those who led the country to a state of bankruptcy.”

Yet as president of a country involved in central banking, Anastasiades is absolutely complicit in the countries state of bankruptcy.  In addition,  a list of companies and politicians that had loans written off by banks at the heart of Cyprus’ bailout crisis was published in Greece and was subsequently handed to the Cypriot parliament’s ethics committee.

This situation has caught the attention of people worldwide, who are now wondering if their savings accounts are at risk, considering that Cyprus is not much different from any other central banking government.  These measures are not just possible in other places, they have actually already been planned, Cyprus just happens to be the first place in the EU to get robbed.

Earlier last week Anastasiades admitted that the measures in Cyprus were simply an “experiment” concocted by the European Union in an attempt to deal with their current debt crisis.

It was also revealed in plans dating back to last year that

“Confiscation of the customer deposits in Cyprus banks, it seems, was not a one-off, desperate idea of a few Eurozone “troika” officials scrambling to salvage their balance sheets. A joint paper by the US Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Bank of England dated December 10, 2012, shows that these plans have been long in the making; that they originated with the G20 Financial Stability Board in Basel, Switzerland; and that the result will be to deliver clear title to the banks of depositor funds.”

It was also reported last week that a Cyprus style “bail in” was proposed in the new 2013 Canadian budget.

There has been a rush towards precious metals and Bitcoin because people are attempting to retain as much of their wealth as possible, but for many who have had their funds seized it was too late.

To help the people of Cyprus get their assets off the grid, Jeff Berwick has announced that he will be opening a Bitcoin ATM in Cyprus in the coming weeks.

******

Read more articles by this author HERE.

J.G. Vibes is the author of an 87 chapter counter-culture textbook called Alchemy of the Modern Renaissance, a staff writer, reporter for Intellihub.com and Executive Producer of the Bob Tuskin Radio Show. You can keep up with his work, which includes free podcasts, free e-books & free audiobooks at his website www.aotmr.com

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DEA Targets FedEx, UPS in Online Pharmacy Battle

Posted on 31 March 2013 by JGVibes


Charged with cracking down on the diversion of prescription drugs, the DEA has pursed doctors, pharmacists, pharmacy chains, and wholesale drug suppliers. It has now turned a baleful eye on shipping companies as well, with differing results—at least so far.

drug enforcement agency (Copy)

by Phillip Smith
The Daily Chronic
March 31, 2013

The Orlando Sentinel reported Tuesday that both UPS and FedEx had admitted in corporate filings that they were the targets of DEA probes into packages of pills shipped from online pharmacies.

Prescriptions filled by online pharmacies are illegal if there is not a real doctor-patient relationship, and the DEA maintains that prescriptions written by “cyber doctors” relying on online questionnaires are not legal.

FedEx has strongly pushed back against the DEA probe, but UPS has now buckled under the pressure.

In a Friday statement, the DEA announced that UPS had agreed to forfeit $40 million it had been paid for shipments by online pharmacies and to enter into a “compliance program” to ensure online pharmacies can’t use its services. The deal was part of a non-prosecution agreement the shipper signed with federal prosecutors in Northern California.

DEA accused UPS of knowingly shipping the illegally-prescribed drugs between 2003 and 2010 because “it was on notice, through some employees” that such activities were occurring. DEA also accused UPS of failing to do anything about it.

“DEA is aggressively targeting the diversion of controlled substances, as well as those who facilitate their unlawful distribution,” said DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart.  “This investigation is significant and DEA applauds UPS for working to strengthen and enhance its practices in order to prevent future drug diversion.”

FedEx may prove a tougher nut to crack. Officials there called the federal probe “absurd and disturbing” and said it threatened customer privacy. They also accused the DEA of failing to cooperate with them in efforts to resolve the problem.

“We are a transportation company — we are not law enforcement, we are not doctors and we are not pharmacists,” FedEx spokesman Patrick Fitzgerald said in a prepared statement. “We have no interest in violating the privacy of our customers by opening and inspecting their packages in an attempt to determine the legality of the contents. We stand ready and willing to support and assist law enforcement. We cannot, however, do their jobs for them.”

FedEx complained that rather than working with the shipping industry to come up with solutions, the Justice Department appeared focused on finding ways to prosecute shippers.

“This is unwarranted by law and a dangerous distraction at a time when the purported illegal activity by these pharmacies continues,” Fitzgerald said.

FedEx has been a major campaign contributor to US Rep. John Mica (R-FL), whom the Sentinel reported had sent a letter to Leonhart and Attorney General Eric Holder asking them to recognize “the difficulty and unfairness of requiring those carriers to assume responsibility for the legality and validity of the contents of the millions of sealed packages that they pick up and deliver ever day.”

Mica told the Sentinel that while he is “concerned about prescription drugs,” it was inefficient to try to turn shipping companies into drug policy enforcers. “You can’t stop commerce; you can’t open every package,” Mica said. “I’m only asking them for a reasonable approach.”

But it doesn’t appear that DEA and the Justice Department are interested in that.

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Fusion Center Director: We Don’t Spy on Americans, Just Anti-Government Americans

Posted on 31 March 2013 by JGVibes


Law enforcement intelligence-processing fusion centers have long come under attack for spying on Americans. The Arkansas director wanted to clarify the truth: centers only spies on some Americans – those who appear to be a threat to the government.

(Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

(Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

RT
March 31, 2013

In trying to clear up the ‘misconceptions’ about the conduct of fusion centers, Arkansas State Fusion Center Director Richard Davis simply confirmed Americans’ fears: the center does in fact spy on Americans – but only on those who are suspected to be ‘anti-government’.

“The misconceptions are that we are conducting spying operations on US citizens, which is of course not a fact. That is absolutely not what we do,” he told the NWA Homepage, which supports KNWA-TV and Fox 24.

After claiming that his office ‘absolutely’ does not spy on Americans, he proceeded to explain that this does not apply to those who could be interpreted as a ‘threat’ to national security. Davis said his office places its focus on international plots, “domestic terrorism and certain groups that are anti-government. We want to kind of take a look at that and receive that information.”

But the First Amendment allows for the freedom of speech and opinion, making it lawfully acceptable for Americans to express their grievances against the US government. The number of anti-government groups even hit a record high in 2012, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. Many of these groups are ‘hate groups’ that express disdain for minorities. But unless they become violent, these groups are legally allowed to exist.

“We are seeing the fourth straight year of really explosive growth on the part of anti-government patriot groups and militias,” Mark Potok, senior fellow at the SPLC, told Mother Jones. “That’s 913 percent in growth. We’ve never seen that kind of growth in any group we cover.”

And with a record-high number of anti-government groups, fusion centers may be spying on more Americans than ever before – or at least, have the self-proclaimed right to do so.

“I do what I do because of what happened on 9/11,” Davis said. “There’s this urge and this feeling inside that you want to do something, and this is a perfect opportunity for me.”

But Davis’ argument is flawed: in order to determine whether or not someone is considered a threat to national security, fusion centers would first have to spy on Americans to weed out the suspected individuals, and then proceed to spy on the ‘anti-government’ individuals further.

Across the US, fusion centers have reported on individuals who conducted ‘crimes’ like putting political stickers in public bathrooms or participating in movements against the death penalty. In October, the bipartisan Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations finished a two-year investigation on fusion centers, only to find that the centers had directly violated constitutionally protected civil liberties.

“In reality, the Subcommittee investigation found that the fusion centers often produced irrelevant, useless or inappropriate intelligence reporting to DHS, and many produced no intelligence reporting whatsoever,” the report stated.

And the privacy violations could soon become worse: RT previously reported that the FBI’s proposed facial recognition project could provide fusion centers with more personal data to work with. With at least 72 fusion centers across the US and technology that could further infringe upon privacy rights, government agencies will be able to more efficiently collect data on Americans solely for exercising their freedom of speech.

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Eiffel Tower Evacuated After Bomb Threat

Posted on 30 March 2013 by JGVibes


The Eiffel Tower has been evacuated following an anonymous phone call that threatened a bomb attack on the famous monument, police say.

(Photo by Franck Prevel/Getty Images)

(Photo by Franck Prevel/Getty Images)

Press TV
March 31, 2013

French police sources said about 1,400 visitors to the tower were rushed out when the call came from the Paris suburbs and threatened an assault at 9:30 p.m. local time (2030 GMT) on Saturday.

However, police did not find any suspicious objects in the site and the tourist attraction was reopened after around two and a half hours.

Concerned about reprisals at home over its war on Mali, France has intensified security measures with the heavy presence of police and military units at government buildings, subway and railway stops as well as major tourist sites. Uniformed French troops are reportedly patrolling inside subway trains and monitoring major streets.

On January 11, France launched aerial attacks and deployed hundreds of troops into Mali in a major war that Paris claimed had been intended to drive out anti-government fighters in its former African colony.

Local fighters in northern Mali pledged to strike “at the heart” of France. They said retaliatory attacks against France would take place “everywhere; In Bamako, in Africa and in Europe.”

The French-led war in Mali has caused a serious humanitarian crisis in the northern areas of the country and has displaced thousands of people, who now live in deplorable conditions.

On February 1, Amnesty International raised the issue of “serious human rights breaches” – including the killing of children – which occurred during the French war on Mali.

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Iraq, Afghanistan Wars Will Cost U.S. 4-6 Trillion Dollars: Report

Posted on 30 March 2013 by JGVibes


Costs to U.S. taxpayers of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will run between four and six trillion dollars, making them the most expensive conflicts in U.S. history, according to a new report by a prominent Harvard University researcher.

war-money_us_dollars (Copy)

by Jim Lobe
IPS
March 31, 2013

While Washington has already spent close to two trillion dollars in direct costs related to its military campaigns in the two countries, that total “represents only a fraction of the total war costs”, according to the report by former Bill Clinton administration official Linda Bilmes.

“The single largest accrued liability of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is the cost of providing medical care and disability benefits to war veterans,” she wrote in the 21-page report, ‘The Financial Legacy of Iraq and Afghanistan: How Wartime Spending Decisions Will Constrain Future National Security Budgets’.

Bilmes, who since 2008 has co-authored a number of analyses on war costs with the World Bank’s former chief economist, Joseph Stiglitz, noted that more than half of the more than 1.5 million troops who have been discharged from active duty since 9/11 have received medical treatment at veterans’ hospitals and have been granted benefits for the rest of their lives. More than 253,000 troops have suffered a traumatic brain injury.

Additional costs include the replacement and repair of equipment — which wears out at an estimated six times the peace-time rate — and the accumulation of interest on money borrowed by the Treasury to finance the wars since the nearly two trillion dollars in war costs were not subject to the normal budgetary process.

So far, Washington has paid some 260 billion dollars in interest charged on war-related borrowing, but the “potential interest cost of the U.S. war debt reaches into the trillions,” according to the report.

“One of the most significant challenges to future U.S. national security policy will not originate from any external threat,” she wrote. “Rather it is simply coping with the legacy of the conflicts we have already fought in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

The report comes at a key moment, as Republicans in Congress appear increasingly split between defence hawks on the one hand, who want to maintain or increase Pentagon spending and have been pushing for a more aggressive U.S. role in the Syrian civil war, among other hotspots, and deficit hawks, on the other, who believe the country can ill afford bigger military budgets, let alone new foreign military adventures, especially in the Middle East.

The defence hawks, consisting primarily of neo-conservatives and aggressive nationalists who led the march to war in Iraq 10 years ago, are particularly worried about the impact on the military of the so-called “sequester”, which requires across-the-board cuts by the Pentagon totalling 500 million dollars over 10 years, in order to help reduce the deficit.

With tensions with Iran, North Korea and even China on the rise, they argue that Washington cannot afford to be seen as constrained militarily by its fiscal challenges.

But this report – as well as another put out by Brown University on the tenth anniversary of the Iraq invasion that estimated the total war costs at three trillion dollars – are likely to bolster the deficit hawks among Republicans, as well as foreign-policy realists most closely identified with the administration of President George H.W. Bush, and most Democrats, including President Barack Obama and his closest aides.

That most war-related costs are actually incurred after the wars are themselves concluded is not unusual in U.S. history, according to a recent investigation by the Associated Press (AP).

After researching federal records, it reported last week that compensation for World War II veterans and their families only reached a high in 1991 – 46 years after the war ended.

It also reported that, almost exactly 40 years after the last U.S. combat troops left Vietnam, the government is still paying veterans and their families or survivors more than 22 billion dollars a year in war-related claims, and that that figure is on the rise, as the beneficiary population ages. Similarly, payments to Gulf War veterans are also increasing.

The much-greater costs to be incurred by the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are explained by, among other factors, much higher survival rates among wounded soldiers, more generous benefits for veterans, new categories of beneficiaries, more expensive medical treatments, and increases in both pay and benefits for troops in order to gain more recruits for the all-volunteer army.

The report argued that dramatic increase in war-related costs means taxpayers will not get the kind of “peace dividend” that they received after other wars, including the two world wars and the Cold War after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

“Today as the country considers how to improve its balance sheet, it could have been hoped that the end of the wars would provide a peace dividend, such as the one during the Clinton administration that helped Americans to invest more in butter and less in guns,”
it concluded.

“In short, there will be no peace dividend, and the legacy of Iraq and Afghanistan wars will be costs that persist for decades.”

The Pentagon and other national-security agencies, according to the report, will likely face more – rather than less – pressure to cut costs.

“One likely result,” it predicted, “is that budgetary constraints will tilt the U.S. in a direction of fewer military personnel in the forces, …and greater investment in unmanned weaponry, robotics, and other technological solutions – which may or may not be a wise choice over the longer-term.”

To Miriam Pemberton, a national-security analyst at the Institute for Policy Studies, the new study should prompt a major re-assessment of the regular military budget (not including the costs of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars), which grew by nearly 50 percent in real terms to more than half a trillion dollars – over the decade that followed 9/11.

“We need to bring that budget back to where it was when these wars began,” she told IPS. “Those savings need to be re-invested in the needs that have been neglected over the past decade, foremost among them, in my view, being the urgent need to address the climate crisis by investing in a transition to a clean energy and transportation economy.”

*Jim Lobe’s blog on U.S. foreign policy can be read at http://www.lobelog.com.

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Central Banking Is Central Planning

Posted on 30 March 2013 by JGVibes


A book review in the Wall Street Journal by associate professor of economics at San Jose State University Jeffrey Hummel entitled “The New Central Planning” tends to confirm the perspective that the Federal Reserve is under continued attack. The upshot may be a new monetary system, one way or another.

Bernanke

Ben Bernanke

by Anthony Wile
The Daily Bell
March 31, 2013

The new system, probably some sort of gold standard, will not merely inch into position but will be the result of various problematic failures of current monetary policy. It may be driven, in fact, by catastrophic failure. The seeds are being sown even now, and the review in the Journal examines some of them.

What is noteworthy is not the discussion but that it has appeared at all and that it is conducted within a historical context. In fact, this is the point we’ve been making here in the pages of The Daily Bell and long before, that the timeline is now sufficient to counteract any arguments that might support the institution. One hundred years of damage, economic ruin and institutionalized prevarication is enough. Here’s something from the review itself:

What role should the Federal Reserve play in the U.S. economy? That question is at the heart of any study of the economic crisis that began in 2007 and any consideration of how to prevent further crises. A year ago the chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, delivered four lectures at George Washington University, in which he argued that the Fed’s response to the crisis—including its conspicuous and contentious bailouts—fell within the traditional role of a central bank. Those lectures and Mr. Bernanke’s answers to some audience questions have now been edited and published in a slim volume. Pitched to a general audience, “The Federal Reserve and the Financial Crisis” is part of the chairman’s praiseworthy effort to increase Fed transparency.

The first two lectures cover the origins and history of the Fed. Mr. Bernanke identifies three primary functions of central banks: to conduct monetary policy (i.e., controlling of the supply of money by setting interest rates); to serve as lenders of last resort (i.e., providing liquidity for important institutions to stave off financial crises); and to regulate the financial system (i.e., limiting the risks that banks and other players in financial markets may take). Yet he hardly discusses the quantity of money in circulation or the Fed’s effect on it. The omission reflects the fact that Mr. Bernanke has dramatically altered the nature of central banking. Under his management, the Fed now tries to determine to which sectors the economy’s savings flow, and monetary policy has become solely about setting interest rates.

To his credit, Mr. Bernanke considers the merits of the classical gold standard, in which the dollar was fully redeemable for a specific quantity of gold. He believes that its gains in long-run price stability were more than counterbalanced by the short-run economic fluctuations it caused. But as University of Georgia economist George Selgin pointed out after the lectures were delivered, the chairman’s argument against the gold standard suffers from some severe weaknesses. For starters, it ignores the path-breaking research of Christina Romer, former chairman of President Obama‘s Council of Economic Advisers, which demonstrated that the frequency and severity of recessions weren’t significantly greater before the Fed’s creation in 1913 than after World War II. This casts doubt on the ability of the Fed with its fiat money to tame the business cycle any better than did the gold standard without the Fed’s intrusions. Mr. Bernanke’s case against gold also exaggerates the economic difficulties associated with the mild, long-run deflation of the late 19th century, a period of robust economic growth.

The review goes on to enumerate various Fed failures, though not in great enough detail so far as I am concerned, and inexplicably is not as vehement about current Fed-inspired disasters as past ones. The most interesting aspect of current central bank policy is the manipulated tightening of monetary policy in 2007. History may well examine that incident with greater interest than it now receives.

Of course, Bernanke made up for seemingly precipitating the Great Recession by subsequently screwing rates down disastrously. Whatever the real rates of interest are, you can bet that for the past five years the Fed, like other central banks, has held them lower than they ought to be.

The result is threefold. First, there are literally trillions locked away on bank books that can circulate if and when Western economies become more active. Second, when the money DOES begin to circulate, interest rates will inevitably begin to move up, causing countries like the US to devote more and more cash to interest payments.

Finally, so much money printing has almost terminally distorted the US’s economic picture. Companies that should have failed have not and markets – especially stock markets – have moved up hard because so much paper and electronic money has been printed.

When one looks back at the current era of ruinous Fed policies, one will be struck by two things: The rashness of Ben Bernanke’s actions and the surprising consensus surrounding him regarding perhaps the most egregious example of money printing ever launched within a modern establishment context.

The review’s title alludes to Fed “central planning,” and this may be the boldest and most straightforward characterization made about current Fed policy that has appeared in a mainstream publication in years. What the Fed under Bernanke has done is every bit as egregious as setting up a series of five-year plans. That plans are made via monetary policy instead of industrial policy is probably beside the point.

Central banks fix the price of money and its value. And price fixing never works. The Fed, controlling the world’s reserve currency, is the most powerful central bank and the most destructive. The destruction accomplished under Bernanke will linger long after he slips away.

And as an article in yesterday’s issue of The Daily Bell pointed out, once the reality of the destruction is entirely evident there will be many apologias appearing in the form of books, articles and media interviews. Those involved will admit ruefully to lapses of judgment or a lack of courage in not speaking up sooner.

But all of it will be beside the point. Those in charge likely now know full well what they have done and undone. They have planted the seeds for a new economic system and no doubt initiated it with a cold-blooded and even globalist perspective. The idea is that once catastrophic failures afflict the current system even more internationalist solutions can be applied.

I tend to doubt the strategy of this program and I think that the Internet Reformation is making it increasingly difficult for the architects of such program to generate believable deniability. Maybe, therefore, a decision has been made in certain circles to be more forthright about the reality of the terrible and manipulative money system under which we currently live and labor.

When examined clearly, it is indefensible, and eventually this illumination will doom it.

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Assange’s WikiLeaks Party Opens for Membership in Australia

Posted on 30 March 2013 by JGVibes


Julian Assange’s new political party is open for membership, WikiLeaks announced on Twitter on Saturday. The party must enlist 500 dues-paying members to officially register with the Australian Electoral Commission.

RT
march 31, 2013

The WikiLeaks party was created as part of Assange’s bid to become an Australian senator in September 2013 elections in Victoria State. At the moment the party has an initial 10-member national council, consisting of supporters and close associates of Assange and pro-WikiLeaks activists, but it also has to attract 500 fee-paying members required to be registered.

The Twitter post calling on Australians to join the WikiLeaks party suggests its newly-created website is still being tested, although an online membership form is already available. 

Australian WikiLeaks Party now open for membership. Please test and comment ahead of our launch next week! wikileaksparty.org.au/forms/membersh… #wlparty

— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) March 30, 2013

Joining the WikiLeaks party founding crowd takes filling out at least 8 fields of personal information, mandatory for membership application, and also paying a $20 fee.

The website also has the constitution of the WikiLeaks Party available online. Among its priorities it cites “the protection of human rights and freedoms; transparency of governmental and corporate action, policy and information; recognition of the need for equality between generations; and support of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander self-determination”.

WikiLeaks announced its founder and leader Julian Assange was planning to run for a seat in the Australian Senate a year ago. He submitted his application to the Australian Electoral Commission and had his political party incorporated in Australia in February.

Screenshot from wikileaksparty.org.au

The whistleblower is hoping that if he is elected, the US and Britain might stop their persecution of him for fear of diplomatic row. 

Assange has been holed up in the Ecuadoran embassy in London since June 2012, after claiming asylum in a bid to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning on sexual assault allegations.

The founder of the whistleblowing website believes once in Sweden, he could then be extradited to the United States, where according to his lawyers he is likely to face trial and possibly even death penalty for the release of thousands of classified US diplomatic cables.

If elected Australian Senator, Assange might still not be able to be physically present at the Australian senate as he might still be trapped in London’s Ecuadorean embassy. British authorities have vowed to detain him if he steps foot outside of the embassy in light of the European Arrest Warrant issued against him.

Thus, Wikileaks founder does not rule out the possibility, that if he wins election and is unable to return to Australia, a WikiLeaks Party nominee could fill his seat in the Senate.

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North Korean “War Plans” Image Discrepancies Suggest Photoshopping

Posted on 30 March 2013 by JGVibes


Google “North Korea news” and what you find are hundreds of articles about the photos of North Korean military leaders meeting with Kim Jong Un to go over plans to strike the continental United States and Hawaii.

by Scott Creighton
American Everyman
March 31, 2013

Over at the Huffington Post for example, they credit these damning shots as coming from the Korean Central News Agency, the official news outlet for the DPKR.

North Korean state media issued two photos Friday that, either by accident or design, appeared to show plans for striking the US mainland, as well as details of the North’s military strength.

The pictures, released by the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), both showed leader Kim Jong-Un sitting at a desk in what looked like a dedicated military operations room.

The photos accompanied a KCNA report on an emergency meeting with top army leaders in which Kim ordered strategic rocket units to prepare for a possible strike against US mainland and Pacific bases” AFP/Huffington Post

This is patently false on multiple levels regarding where these photos came from and more importantly, are they legitimate in the first place or Photoshopped for effect. It’s laughable to think that their “secret” war plans would be posted on the paper and website for all to see with the rather cartoonish “U.S. Mainland Strike Plan” text printed right on the top of their secret map. Sounds like a bit from Team America: World Police. The other thing is, North Korea knows damn well that they don’t have the capacity to hit Hawaii with a rocket, much less the continental U.S. Furthermore, it appears to list D.C. L.A. and AUSTIN TX. as designated targets. Austin TX.? Makes you wonder if the Stratfor guys decided to toss that in as a target to help the local commission plead for more Homeland Security money.

It’s laughable at best and when you see the images, you’ll see what I mean. But where did it come from and why was it done?

First of all, the images were not released on the North Korean official news agency. They are being attributed to the site Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of North Korea’s Workers’ Party. It’s not the official government paper. Big difference. You can verify the fact that Rodong is the source for the photos, here and here.

You can also go to the KCNA’s index and see all their publications and check for yourself they did not post an article on the “emergency planning” of a strike on the United States. When you do a Google search of images for KCNA you find one copy of one of the photos but it links back to XIN and not the official state news agency of North Korea.

The Rodong site seems to be blocked here in the United States. There is no apparent means by which to verify if these images even came from Rodong as opposed to Stratfor in Austin, TX. The VOA propaganda outlet attributes the key photo to “AFP Photo/KCNA VIA KNS” that’s Associated Free Press AND KCNA coming from the company KNS which is a British company that sells images from the likes of the Daily Mail and the AFP. Or it could be referring to this KNS but they don’t seem to have the image listed there either.

The images themselves look Photoshopped. See if you notice what is wrong with these:

Here is the “money shot” as they call it. North Korea with the “Big Plans” on the poster behind them. Here’s a clue: look at the raytraced reflected image on the desk…

doctored shot

Now here is the close-up shot of Kim Jong Un doing some homework on his Apple computer… notice anything funny?

close up

Look at the handrail and the blue image map behind it. Looks like the same handrail partially obstructed in the one above it, the money shot, doesn’t it? That’s because it’s the same handrail. Notice the Firewire and the white router on the right of this pic? You will see Firewire and that same router on the left of the other pic. That means this photo is taken of Kim Jong Un sitting at a desk placed at the end of that highly polished table he is seen at in the first photo. You can actually see the bottom corner of the same tan books in the second photo and the rest of the books in the first photo. And of course you can see the same handrail.

So what is missing in the second photo that is the incriminating evidence in the first? Well, obviously, there is no cartoonish “U.S. Mainland Strike Plan” map in the second pic. Clearly it would be seen because it’s back there obstructing the curved handrail in the first picture.

A website did a composite of the two images to put them into spacial relations with each other and laughably, the room suddenly has two curved ends to that one handrail as a result:

composite-photo-kim-jong-un-battleplan-and-imac-620x236

Notice the two curved handrails? If they had moved that one picture of him at the end of the table closer in order to make the two handrails back into one, half the map would be missing or at least a chunk of it. As it stands it’s pretty odd that the map shows the flights of the missiles, but not their origin, North Korea.

Also notice this: the use of raytracing in this image gives it an air of authenticity, but it looks to me like they got a few details wrong:

doctored shot

When you zoom in, the text of “U.S. Mainland Strike Plan” looks super imposed on the picture and the edges of the guy standing there clearly looks like another layer.

super imposed 1

It looks like someone took these images and added the super secret strike plans for effect. Notice none of the military planners are seen looking at the plan behind them and it certainly doesn’t appear in the accompanying photo. The reflections also indicate that it could be Photoshopped.

So the question is, who would have done it? Would the Worker’s Party do something like this to reassure the North Korean population that they have a plan?

It seems unlikely that the North Korean government would do it to intimidate the U.S. because they know we know they have no weapons to strike these locations with.

Could it be more propaganda from the likes of Stratfor? The inclusion of Austin TX would certainly hint at that.

Whoever did it, it’s pure propaganda. That’s for sure.

The post North Korean “War Plans” Image Discrepancies Suggest Photoshopping appeared first on Intellihub.com.

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