Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Americans fought alone to bloody death in Benghazi but US had troops nearby who could've helped, contrary to what we've been told. Witness disguises his voice and identity to tell us this, fearing reprisal

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Ed. note: Until hearing the audio on Mark Levin's show tonight I didn't realize the witness had to hide his identity and disguise his voice. The information may have been known before but no one would say it.

4/29/13, "Special Ops: Forces Were Available To Assist Americans Under Attack In Benghazi," Washington Free Beacon by staff

"Fox News reports that despite the Obama Administration’s claim that there were no available troops who could have arrived in time to aid Americans under attack in Benghazi, a U.S. special operator says that is not true.

"SPECIAL OPERATOR: “I know for a fact that C 110 CIF was doing a training exercise in the region of northern Africa but in Europe. They had the ability to react and respond.” 

“They would have been there before the second attack. They would have been there at a minimum to provide a quick reaction force that could facilitate their exfil out of the problem situation. Nobody knew how it was going to develop, and you hear a whole bunch of people and a whole bunch of advisors say hey, we wouldn’t have sent them there because the security was unknown situation.”“If it’s an unknown situation, at a minimum you send forces there to facilitate the exfil or medical injuries. We could have sent a C 130 to Benghazi to provide medical evacuation for the injured.”" via Mark Levin show
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Video here at Breitbart (commercial runs for a few seconds)

4/30/13, "EXCLUSIVE: Special Ops Benghazi Whistleblower Claims Obama Could Have Intervened," Fox News

"BAIER:  The administration has insisted from the beginning there was no help available for the Americans under assault in Libya.  None that could arrive in time to change the outcome in Benghazi.  Tonight is the first of three exclusive reports charging that claim is just not true.  Because the special operator in this piece is fearful of reprisal, we have agreed to conceal his identity. 

Correspondent Adam Housley has the story....

"HOUSLEY:  But members of the military who are monitoring events in Benghazi disagree.  Only a few dozen people in the world know what happened that night and Fox News spoke exclusively with a special operator who watched the events unfold and has debriefed those who are part of the response.
                UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I know for a fact that C-110, the (INAUDIBLE) was doing a training exercise in the region of Northern Africa but in Europe.
And they had the ability to react and respond.

                HOUSLEY:  The C-110 is a commanders and extremist force.  In Layman's terms, a 40 men (ph) special operations force capable of rapid response and deployment, specifically, trained for incidents like the attack in Benghazi.  That night, they were training in Croatia just three and a half hours away.
                UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We had the ability to load out, get on birds, and fly there at a minimum stage.  C-110 had the ability to be there, in my opinion, in four to six hours from their European theater to react.
                HOUSLEY:  They would have been there before the second attack.
                UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  They would have been there before the second attack.  They would have been there at a minimum to provide a quick reaction force that could facilitate their exfill out of the problem situation.  Nobody knew how it was going to develop.  And you hear a whole bunch of people and a whole bunch of advisors say hey, we wouldn't have sent them there because, you know, the security was unknown situation.
                HOUSLEY:  No one knew that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  If it's an unknown situation, at a minimum, you send forces there to facilitate the exfill or medical injuries.  We could have sent a C-130 to Benghazi to provide medical evacuation for the injured.
                HOUSLEY:  Our source says many connected to Benghazi feel threatened and are afraid to talk.  So far, confidential sources have fed some information, but nobody has come forward publicly on camera until now.
                UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The problem is, you know, you got guys, in my position you got guys in special operations community who are -- still active and still involved.  And they would be decapitated if they came forward with information that could affect high level commanders.
                HOUSLEY:  Despite the concern, our confidential source says the community feels there was a betrayal all the way to the top.  And that people on the ground in Benghazi were left to fend for themselves.
                UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I don't blame them for not coming forward, you know?  It's something that's a risky, especially in a profession to say anything about anything in the realm of politics or that deals with policy.
                HOUSLEY:  Our source provides insight into how the U.S. government and military reacted from the moment the attack began through the immediate hours after Ambassador Chris Stevens went missing, what they were told to do and what not to do as Stevens, diplomatic officer, Sean Smith, and former special operations members, Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty were killed.
                UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  There's a lot of responsibility, a lot of onus that needs to be taken up and accounted for.

(EXPLOSION)
                HOUSLEY:  The attack began about 9:30 p.m. on September 11th, 2012 at a diplomatic compound in Benghazi and culminated roughly seven hours later at a second location, a CIA annex about one mile away.
                While the official responses from Washington have been that the assets could not have made it to Benghazi in time to stop the second attack that killed Woods and Dohety, our source says otherwise and insists there were at least two elite military units that could have made it in time, including the one training in Croatia.
                So, besides those guys who went in on their own, we had two more assets that could have been there.
                UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Two more assets that could have been on the ground.  It's frustrating.  It's upsetting especially being in the community.  The hardest thing to deal with in any kind of, you know, dangerous scenario or gun fight, is, you know, we always look to each other to help each other and that's how we get through situations.  It's not about the assets overhead.  It's about the guys on the ground.
                (GUNFIRE)
                HOUSLEY:  He also says that as the attack began, there were at least
 

15 special forces and highly skilled state department security staff available in the capital Tripoli who were not dispatched, even though they were trained as a quick response force.  Meantime, a group of American reinforcements also in Tripoli, which included the CIA's global response agent, Glen Doherty, and about seven others took matters into their own hands.

A little known fact which also contradicts the version of events in the state department report.  The team commandeered a small jet and flew to Benghazi to help try and secure the CIA annex still under fire.  Doherty would eventually be killed on the roof along with his friend, Tyrone Woods.
And our source say, these men deserve the highest medal of honor for their actions.

                UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  If it wasn't for that decision, I think we'd be talking completely different about this entire situation.  I think you would be looking at either 20 plus hostages loose captured by AQ or you'd be looking at a lot of dead Americans dead in Benghazi.
                (END VIDEOTAPE)
                HOUSLEY (on-camera):  We've heard some of these same details from a number of our other sources who have not yet come on camera, also some of our British sources on the ground that night, Bret.  Tomorrow, more of our exclusive interview including the hunt for those responsible or the hunt that's lack thereof -- Bret.
                BAIER:  Interesting story.  Adam, thank you.  We'll look for part two tomorrow."


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Six Muslims in UK made bomb with 359 nails and 93 ball bearings to blow up free speech rally, only by series of mishaps was bomb even found-BBC

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"The five men travelled there in two cars, one of which was carrying a homemade bomb...containing 359 nails and 93 ball bearings."...Bombs weren't found until days after the car was impounded for having no insurance.

4/30/13, "Six admit planning to bomb English Defence League rally," BBC

"Six men from the West Midlands have pleaded guilty to planning to bomb an English Defence League rally. Omar Mohammed Khan, Mohammed Hasseen, Anzal Hussain, Mohammed Saud, Zohaib Ahmed and Jewel Uddin admitted preparing an act of terrorism. All six will be sentenced on 6 June.

Five of them took a homemade bomb to an EDL rally in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, last June but arrived after it ended.

They were caught after their car was stopped and found to have no insurance.

Police and security services had no intelligence about the planned attack, although one of the would-be killers, Jewel Uddin, was under surveillance in relation to another terror plan.

After the hearing at Woolwich Crown Court, Assistant Chief Constable of West Midlands Police Marcus Beale said:..."They created devices that would have certainly maimed and possibly killed people depending on how close they were. Their intent was very, very clear. In my view they were very dangerous."...

On 30 June 2012, the EDL, an anti-Islamic group [anti-terrorism group] that says it supports peaceful protest, held a rally in Dewsbury, despite attempts by the Muslim community in the town to have it stopped. 

Police estimated there could have been as many as 750 EDL supporters in attendance, as well as dozens of police officers and passers-by.

As the rally was taking place, the five men travelled there in two cars, one of which was carrying a homemade bomb constructed out of a modified firework and containing 359 nails and 93 ball bearings.

They also had two sawn-off shot guns, parts of other explosive devices, knives and a long printed message, dated the same day, describing their motivation and calling the Queen a "female devil".
It said: "To the EDL (English Drunkards League). O enemies of Allah! We have heard and seen you openly insulting the final Messenger of Allah... you should know that for every action there is a reaction.

"Today is a day of retaliation (especially) for your blasphemy of Allah and his Messenger Muhammad. We love death more than you love life. The penalty for blasphemy of Allah and his Messenger Muhammad is death."

However, the men arrived after the EDL rally had broken up because the right-wing group had insufficient speakers to carry on later into the afternoon. 

The would-be attackers left the town but were stopped by a traffic police officer on the M1 motorway for having no car insurance. 

Days later, when the impounded vehicle was searched, the weapons were found - sparking a manhunt across Birmingham.

Following their arrests, it emerged that Uddin was already known to the police and MI5.

He was an associate of another group of Islamist terrorists, also based in Birmingham, who were jailed last week for planning an attack to rival the 7 July and 9/11 atrocities.

Uddin was under partial counter-terrorism surveillance, and five days before the aborted EDL attack, a West Midlands surveillance officer watched him and another man go to a homewares shop near his home in the Sparkhill area of Birmingham.

Police later established that the man accompanying Uddin was fellow plotter Omar Khan - and that the pair had bought some of the knives eventually found in the car boot.

A second member of the group, Ahmed, had been separately charged with possession of jihadist magazines that included bomb-making instructions. He was on bail at the time of the failed bombing. ...
 
All changed their pleas from not guilty on Tuesday via videolink, admitting preparing an act of terrorism between 1 May and 4 July 2012."...

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BBC Analyst Gardner: "Officials warn against any complacency. They say just because plots are amateurish that does not stop them posing a serious risk to British lives."

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US home ownership drops to 1995 levels, US Census data 1Q 2013, 'economic recovery' forces more Americans not to buy but to rent at sky high prices

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1Q 2013 US Census data

4/30/13, "US Homeownership Rate Drops To 1995 Levels," Zero Hedge

"When it comes to the US housing market there appear to be three groups of people: those who who have either unlimited cash and/or access to credit, and like the most rabid of bubble-chasing speculators, are perfectly happy to engage in a game of Flip That House for a short-term profit pending the discovery of a greater fool (often times converting the house into rental properties as numerous hedge funds have been doing on cost-free basis courtesy of the government's REO-To-Rent program) - they are the vast minority of speculators;... and then there is everyone else. Sadly, it is the "everyone else" that is the vast majority of the US population. 

It is this "everyone else" that is once again being forced out of housing due to both the ramping bubble in housing prices making housing affordable primarily to those who buy with the intention of flipping, and due to the lack of available credit to those who actually need it (see sad state of commercial bank loans in the US).

Finally, it is this "everyone else" who comprises the bulk of those who have been kicked out of the American Dream, whose core pillar has always been owning your own home (with or without a massive mortgage attached), not renting.

As the US Census Bureau reported earlier today, the US homeownership rates in the first quarter of 2013 dropped by another 0.4% to a fresh 18 years low, or 65% - the lowest since 1995!
















That this progressive, ongoing decline in ownership is taking place despite allegedly record home affordability is without doubt the most troubling feature of the economic "recovery" which has forced ever more Americans to shift away from owning and into renting, as can be seen by the next two charts showing the median asking rent and sale prices for vacant rent units and for sale units. While home prices have a long way to go still countrywide (excluding the occasional regional bubble market such as LA and NY), rents are already at record highs, which explains why it is every hedge fund's dream to become a landlord.






















However, it is only a matter of time before zero-cost subsidized rental pass thru units owned by hedge funds who can therefore keep the rental asking price as high as they wish, forces out more and more Americans out of the Adjusted American Dream, where renting is the new buying, and leads to ever more people living in the streets. 

Although, we are confident, it will be merely a matter of time before this, or some other administration, simply unleashes a "street living tax" - after all, "it is only fair" to apply austerity to hobos next. Because it has worked so well with the billionaires and trillionaires..."

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Ed. note: This method helps get rid of the annoying middle class.



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Massive hurricane on Saturn not caused by humans, no oceans on Saturn to "hide" planet "warming," no coal mines, no cars, no lightbulbs, no cap n trade

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4/29/13, "Monster hurricane rages on Saturn's north pole: Video," LA Times, D. Netburn

"Images of a massive hurricane raging inside a strange hexagonal weather pattern at Saturn's north pole have recently been released by NASA, revealing a mystery inside an even bigger mystery.
The hurricane is enormous and violent--more than 20 times the size of the average hurricane on Earth, with winds gusting at speeds four times what they would be on our planet.

The hurricane appears to be fixed at Saturn's north pole, rather than drifting around the planet like hurricanes do here. Also, scientists are still trying to figure out how the hurricane developed with no body of water below it. There are no oceans on Saturn; it is a gaseous planet.

But scientists were surprised to discover that Saturn's north pole hurricane does share some characteristics with Earth's hurricanes. For example, it has an eye, and it spins in the same direction -- counterclockwise -- that a hurricane would spin in Earth's Northern Hemisphere. 

"We are trying to understand the similarities and differences, and I can't say we have it all solved yet," said Andrew Ingersoll, a Cassini imaging team member at Caltech in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. He added that scientists are still trying to determine whether the hurricane makes lightning.

As for the hexagonal weather pattern -- that is a mystery to scientists, but not a surprise.
Known simply as "the hexagon," it was discovered more than 30 years ago when Voyager flew past the ringed planet, and scientists were amazed that it was still there when the Cassini spacecraft arrived nine years ago.

"It is just a big pattern in the clouds. It is not cast in concrete. It's not part of the continents, because there are no continents," Ingersoll said. "But it's still there -- some kind of wandering jet stream."

While scientists knew that the hexagon existed, they did not know what was inside it until recently. That's because for much of the time that Cassini has been in orbit around Saturn, the planet has been in its winter, and its north pole was turned away from the sun, leaving it in total darkness.

Using Cassini's infrared imaging capabilities, scientists could see that there was a break in the clouds right over the planet's north pole, and they surmised it might be a hurricane, but it wasn't until the planet entered its spring, and sunlight flooded the north pole, that Cassini's visible-light cameras were able to take more detailed photos, revealing the hurricane in all its raging glory."...

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Monday, April 29, 2013

April 2013 Dallas Fed report on manufacturing activity biggest drop and miss on record, plunges to -15.6, expected +5.0

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4/29/13, "Dallas Fed Implodes: Biggest Drop And Miss On Record Send Market To Intraday Highs," Zero Hedge

"If this doesn't send the S&P to new all time highs nothing will. Moments ago the Dallas Fed reported its April General Business Activity report and in short it was the biggest miss to expectations on record, plummeting from 7.4 to -15.6, on expectations of a 5.0 print and the lowest since July 2012. It was also the biggest one month drop on record. Since all of this will be attributed to balmy spring weather in New Zealand, extra rainfall in the Russian Steppes, the US sequester, evil European fauxterity, Cyprus deposit confiscation, and of course, Bush, there is no point in commenting on this disaster at all. And why comment: judging by the market's response which is now at the day's highs, it is not as if anyone even pretends any data matters. The only hope now for those expecting a 20,000 on the DJIA is that the ISM due out soon, will print at 0 and everything will be permanently fixed. In other news the daily prayer to praise St. Bernanke begins at 11 am when POMO ends. Please orient yourself to face the Marriner Eccles building when bowing down."...

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4/29/13, "GIGANTIC MISS: Dallas Fed Manufacturing Index Plunges Into Negative Territory," Business Insider, Matthew Boesler

"The Dallas Fed's monthly survey of regional manufacturing activity is out. The headline index plunged to -15.6. Economists expected +5.0 after last month's +7.4 reading.

The index was dragged lower by the prices paid for raw materials sub-component, which fell to 2.5 from 19.1.

Elsewhere, the biggest weakness was seen in the new orders sub-component, which fell to -4.9 from 8.7, the shipments sub-component, which fell to -0.4 from 10.6, and the production sub-component, which fell to -0.5 from 9.9."...

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If people hate the US it's because it steals from its own citizens, treats them like garbage, tells them they must sacrifice by giving bags of US taxpayer cash to organized crime and warlords in Afghanistan

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The CIA has insisted that organized crime be allowed to flourish in Afghanistan via the US taxpayer:

4/28/13, "With Bags of Cash, C.I.A. Seeks Influence in Afghanistan," NY Times, Matthew Rosenberg

"For more than a decade, wads of American dollars packed into suitcases, backpacks and, on occasion, plastic shopping bags have been dropped off every month or so at the offices of Afghanistan’s president — courtesy of the Central Intelligence Agency

All told, tens of millions of dollars have flowed from the C.I.A. to the office of President Hamid Karzai, according to current and former advisers to the Afghan leader. 

“We called it ‘ghost money,’ ” said Khalil Roman, who served as Mr. Karzai’s chief of staff from 2002 until 2005. “It came in secret, and it left in secret.” 

The C.I.A., which declined to comment for this article, has long been known to support some relatives and close aides of Mr. Karzai. But the new accounts of off-the-books cash delivered directly to his office show payments on a vaster scale, and with a far greater impact on everyday governing. 

Moreover, there is little evidence that the payments bought the influence the C.I.A. sought. Instead, some American officials said, the cash has fueled corruption and empowered warlords, undermining Washington’s exit strategy from Afghanistan. 

“The biggest source of corruption in Afghanistan,” one American official said, “was the United States.” 

The United States was not alone in delivering cash to the president. Mr. Karzai acknowledged a few years ago that Iran regularly gave bags of cash to one of his top aides. 

At the time, in 2010, American officials jumped on the payments as evidence of an aggressive Iranian campaign to buy influence and poison Afghanistan’s relations with the United States. What they did not say was that the C.I.A. was also plying the presidential palace with cash — and unlike the Iranians, it still is. 

American and Afghan officials familiar with the payments said the agency’s main goal in providing the cash has been to maintain access to Mr. Karzai and his inner circle and to guarantee the agency’s influence at the presidential palace, which wields tremendous power in Afghanistan’s highly centralized government. The officials spoke about the money only on the condition of anonymity.

It is not clear that the United States is getting what it pays for. Mr. Karzai’s willingness to defy the United States — and the Iranians, for that matter — on an array of issues seems to have only grown as the cash has piled up. Instead of securing his good graces, the payments may well illustrate the opposite: Mr. Karzai is seemingly unable to be bought. ...

But the C.I.A. has continued to pay, believing it needs Mr. Karzai’s ear to run its clandestine war against Al Qaeda and its allies, according to American and Afghan officials. 

Like the Iranian cash, much of the C.I.A.’s money goes to paying off warlords and politicians, many of whom have ties to the drug trade and, in some cases, the Taliban. The result, American and Afghan officials said, is that the agency has greased the wheels of the same patronage networks that American diplomats and law enforcement agents have struggled unsuccessfully to dismantle, leaving the government in the grips of what are basically organized crime syndicates. 

The cash does not appear to be subject to the oversight and restrictions placed on official American aid to the country or even the C.I.A.’s formal assistance programs, like financing Afghan intelligence agencies. And while there is no evidence that Mr. Karzai has personally taken any of the money — Afghan officials say the cash is handled by his National Security Council the payments do in some cases work directly at odds with the aims of other parts of the American government in Afghanistan, even if they do not appear to violate American law. 

Handing out cash has been standard procedure for the C.I.A. in Afghanistan since the start of the war. During the 2001 invasion, agency cash bought the services of numerous warlords, including Muhammad Qasim Fahim, the current first vice president....

A number of senior officials on the Afghan National Security Council are also individually on the agency’s payroll, Afghan officials said. 

While intelligence agencies often pay foreign officials to provide information, dropping off bags of cash at a foreign leader’s office to curry favor is a more unusual arrangement. 

Afghan officials said the practice grew out of the unique circumstances in Afghanistan, where the United States built the government that Mr. Karzai runs. To accomplish that task, it had to bring to heel many of the warlords the C.I.A. had paid during and after the 2001 invasion. 

By late 2002, Mr. Karzai and his aides were pressing for the payments to be routed through the president’s office, allowing him to buy the warlords’ loyalty, a former adviser to Mr. Karzai said. 

Then, in December 2002, Iranians showed up at the palace in a sport utility vehicle packed with cash, the former adviser said. 

The C.I.A. began dropping off cash at the palace the following month, and the sums grew from there, Afghan officials said. 

Payments ordinarily range from hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars, the officials said, though none could provide exact figures. The money is used to cover a slew of off-the-books expenses, like paying off lawmakers or underwriting delicate diplomatic trips or informal negotiations. 

Much of it also still goes to keeping old warlords in line. One is Abdul Rashid Dostum, an ethnic Uzbek whose militia served as a C.I.A. proxy force in 2001. He receives nearly $100,000 a month from the palace, two Afghan officials said. Other officials said the amount was significantly lower....

When word of the Iranian cash leaked out in October 2010, Mr. Karzai told reporters that he was grateful for it. He then added: “The United States is doing the same thing. They are providing cash to some of our offices.” 

At the time, Mr. Karzai’s aides said he was referring to the billions in formal aid the United States gives. But the former adviser said in a recent interview that the president was in fact referring to the C.I.A.’s bags of cash. 

No one mentions the agency’s money at cabinet meetings. It is handled by a small clique at the National Security Council, including its administrative chief, Mohammed Zia Salehi, Afghan officials said. 

Mr. Salehi, though, is better known for being arrested in 2010 in connection with a sprawling, American-led investigation that tied together Afghan cash smuggling, Taliban finances and the opium trade. Mr. Karzai had him released within hours, and the C.I.A. then helped persuade the Obama administration to back off its anticorruption push, American officials said. 

After his release, Mr. Salehi jokingly came up with a motto that succinctly summed up America’s conflicting priorities. He was, he began telling colleagues, “an enemy of the F.B.I., and a hero to the C.I.A.”" via Lucianne

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4/26/13, "The US Is Still Spending Billions In Afghanistan, But No One Seems To Care," Fiscal Times, David Francis, via Business Insider

"Hard-fought gains in Afghanistan over the last decade are at risk of being squandered unless immediate action is taken to determine the fate of tens of billions of dollars in questionable reconstruction projects, the chief of the Afghan audit agency said."...

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9/25/11, "Government by crime syndicate," LA Times, Op-ed, Sarah Chayes
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"In Afghanistan and elsewhere, rampant corruption threatens security and the rule of law."

"Afghanistan is controlled by a structured, mafiaesque system, in which money flows upward via purchase of office, kickbacks or "sweets" in return for permission to extract resources (of which more varieties exist in impoverished Afghanistan than one might think) and protection in case of legal or international scrutiny. Those foolish enough to raise objections are punished. The result is a system that selects for criminality, excluding and marginalizing the very men and women of probity most needed to build a sustainable state."...



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Commenters know Breitbart News carries water for GOP/democrat/Fox News/Murdoch crowd. McCain and Chambliss are central figures in the destruction of this country and the GOP but Breitbart calls them 'leaders'

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I hope Breitbart's widow sees this and demands Andrew's name be taken off the site.

4/28/13, "Republicans Assail Obama over Syria Inaction," Breitbart News

"The opaque foreign policy of the Obama administration is emboldening Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, Republican leaders alleged on Sunday. Appearing on NBC’s Meet the Press, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) stated that the Obama administration’s estimate about the Syrian use of chemical weapons “may not be airtight,” but said that American action in Syria could not be contingent on Assad’s use of chemical weapons.

“First of all, sooner or later, he most likely would [use chemical weapons] in order to maintain his hold on power,” said McCain. “But what has happened here is the President drew a red line about chemical weapons, thereby giving a green light to Bashar al-Assad to do anything short of that including scud missiles and helicopter gun ships and air strikes and mass executions and atrocities that are on a scale that we have not seen in a long, long time.”

Meanwhile, on ABC News’ This Week, chair of the House Intelligence Committee Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) said that intelligence was conclusive regarding the Syrian use of chemical weapons. “There is also classified information that we have that strengthens the case that, in fact, some small amounts of chemical weapons have been used over the course of the last two years.” He said that Obama’s “red-line” approach “can’t be a dotted line.”

Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), appearing on CBS’ Face the Nation, said that if the Obama White House stands idly by, Syria will become a state “fracturing along sectarian ethnic lines. It’s going to be an al-Qaeda safe haven.” Chambliss worried about the use of chemical weapons in Syria and their distribution to terrorist groups elsewhere, as well as the fate of the kingdom of Jordan. He predicted that inaction on Syria would lead to “war with Iran because Iran is going to take our inaction on Syria as meaning we’re not serious about their nuclear weapons program.”"

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Can't wait for the usual suspects from Hollywood to call for U S action in Syria. I do not want a single American Military man or woman killed to save those people that cheered bin laden on 91/01 and do not want a single one of America's finest killed by Hussein's WMD shipped there in 2003."

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"auntgiddy

"bingo...interesting that THIS article has NO author...conservatives DO NOT want any more "action" in the ME...BO's "inaction" re Syria is the only thing we applaud..."

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"Vidkun Lauritz Jonss√łn 9 hours ago

Assad is killing Al-queda backed Muslim terrorists. Am I supposed to be upset about that? Am I supposed to want my government to send money and weapons to Al-queda backed Muslim Terrorists? Am I supposed to want our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines to be forced to train and or assist Al-queda backed Muslim Terrorists?

Let them nerve agent each other to oblivion. Nerve agent isn't toxic outside the immediate
area of use, so it won't affect anyone outside of Syria. Doing nothing is a win for the US."

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"DList 9 hours ago

Sorry but the last thing we need is another war, getting involved in yet another Arab Muslim country. Waste of money and US lives. We cannot be the worlds policeman."


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"inja

LET THEM DESTROY THEMSELVES. EVERY ONE THAT GOES ONE TO ALLAH IS ONE LESS PACKING A PRESSURE COOKER ON OUR STREETS!!
MCCAIN IS SO HOT ON SYRIA, LET HIM PUT ON A STRIPED SHIRT AND GO REFEREE,
PERSONALLY, WE SHOULD'NT SPEND ONE DROP OF BLOOD FOR THESE HORRIBLE SAND DWELLING NEANDERTHALS.....
IT'S A NO WIN SITUATION, WHOEVER WINS WILL HATE US AND THE LOSER WILL BRING THEIR ANGER TO THIS COUNTRY!!!"

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"libertyluvur 9 hours ago

I say put a wall up around Syria, let them all kill each other and we'll sort them out late

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"btr784 7 hours ago
 
Since when is John McCain part of the GOP Senate leadership. Although one could make the mistake given the regularity with which McCain and his pal Goober Graham turn up pontificating on show after show. The fact is they don't speak for Republicans."

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"flyingfox88 btr784 7 hours ago

You mean they don't speak for REAL Republicans. Neither does anyone else in the GOP leadership these days. Sad--watching a party self-destruct before our eyes. Lincoln must be turning in his grave."

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Ed. note: Assad's opposition is already Al Qaeda. The US taxpayer has already supplied aid and weapons to terrorist rebels in Syria and numerous other places. Not to mention millions to the Taliban in Afghanistan. It's long been obvious we're being bled to death but no one gives a damn. How about looking into so-called wars we're already involved with, Breitbart?


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Sunday, April 28, 2013

Some say waves at Rockaway beach are different, better, after Sandy. Surfers cite sandbar shifts-NY Times

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4/28/13, "Waves Are Different After Sandy, and Some Surfers Say Better," NY Times, Nick Corasaniti 

"Walking down Beach 90th Street in Rockaway offers a glimpse of a neighborhood in the midst of an uphill battle: windows are shuttered, lawns are littered with debris and a beach is unprotected by its boardwalk. Yet as Rockaway slowly recovers, block by block, one crucial element is back, and, according to some, better: the wave. 

As the Eastern Surf Association held its state championship in Rockaway on Saturday — the first competition there since Hurricane Sandy led to the cancellation of October’s event — two- to three-foot walls of sea green water welled up for contestants, leftovers from this past week’s swell. 

“The exposure from the event is good for Rockaway,” said Mike Reinhardt, a Rockaway native who competed in the men’s shortboard and longboard competitions. “I like to see more businesses. More surfers. More livelihood in the area.” 

The same black-and-white pop-up tents, dotted with sponsor logos, that had littered the beach in previous contests sprung up again, offering a semblance of structure in between the concrete support Ts that used to hoist the boardwalk. 

“Having this contest here, it means everything,” said John Gutierrez, a Rockaway native and a surfer. “To get the surfers back, the kids back on the beach. It’s great. A lot of these local kids haven’t seen each other since the storm.” 

Organizers of the contest acknowledged the recovery effort, hosting raffles and accepting donations for local charities. 

But the event was as much about the surfers as it was about the wave that they came for. What was once a wave that broke directly off the jetty and rolled left has added another peak, slightly uptown, allowing for a short wave that instead rolls right. That means regular-footed surfers — those with a dominant right foot — can enjoy it. 

Since the storm, the wave typically breaks more in the middle now, rather than at the jetty,” said Michael Kololyan, a Rockaway resident who runs Locals Surf, a surf school there. “So it’s more of like an A-frame wave in the middle of the beach.” 

Kololyan won first place in the men’s longboard division, with Reinhardt taking second. Kololyan also won the 2001 Rockaway boogie board championship. 

“I’ve seen a couple of guys starting to go right, so I guess that’s good for the regular-footers,” added Reinhardt, who is also Kololyan’s partner in Locals Surf. 

Sandbars are usually cyclical, and breaks change slightly year to year. But the sand displacement caused by Sandy changed the sandbar — and therefore the wave — more than usual this year.

Downtown, where the jetties protected the sand displacement from Sandy’s force slightly more, the wave conditions have also improved. 

“You used to go from being in knee-high water to almost neck-high water in like three, four steps at high tide,” said Frank Cullen, a longtime Rockaway surfer who runs New York Surf School in the Arverne area of Rockaway. “That incline has become much more gradual now, so we don’t have this big heavy shore break that we used to have at high tide. It’s been good through all tides.” 

But the improvements did not happen immediately after the storm. Runoff, flooding residuals and gas leaks left parts of the Atlantic off Rockaway looking and smelling like the Gowanus Canal, but with waves. “The first time I got out there was about a week after the storm, and I stayed out for just 20 minutes because the water quality was just awful,” Reinhardt said. “It actually had a funk smell to it. But then, every week after that it seemed to get better. We’re not surfing the Caribbean to start with here, but everything seems back to normal.” 

While the water is now clean, green and somewhat clear, plenty of work remains, on and off shore. Some groups are still wading through the sand and white water, doing their best to remove wood, nails, glass and other debris in time for surfers and swimmers to enjoy the area this summer. 

Two local surf institutions, the Rockaway Beach Surf Club and Boarders Surf Shop, are struggling to reopen in time for the summer season, after taking in more than five feet of water, and many residents are still piecing back together their houses. 

Yet the break remains as crowded as ever, some surfing the newly formed right, some riding the classic long left off the jetty. And, for perhaps the first time for surfers in Rockaway, the crowds are welcome."...
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79% of US temperatures are cooler than normal 2013 year to date

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4/27/13, "79% Of The US Below Normal Temperature in 2013," Steven Goddard, Real Science

YearTDeptUS.png (688×531)

"Thirty three percent of the US is more than two degrees below normal. Nine percent is more than four degrees below normal. Three percent is more than six degrees below normal."















---------------------------------------

Commenter to above at Steven Goddard notes even AP's Seth Borenstein acknowledges 2013 has cooler temperatures than 2012:

"Jimbo says:"

 4/24/13, "Seth Borenstein Twitter"

"What a difference a year makes: As of 4-22: 2013 US hot temps broken 9931, cold 11041; in 2012 US hot temps broken 27,755, cold: 2,354."

-------------------------

Ed. note: Cooler doesn't mean "extreme" it just means cooler year to date.

Millions of US taxpayer dollars go to the Taliban, US politicians ignore Afghanistan where American soldiers are still dying-Obama appointed IG

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4/26/13, "The US Is Still Spending Billions In Afghanistan, But No One Seems To Care," Fiscal Times, David Francis, via Business Insider

"Hard-fought gains in Afghanistan over the last decade are at risk of being squandered – unless immediate action is taken to determine the fate of tens of billions of dollars in questionable reconstruction projects, the chief of the Afghan audit agency said.

In an exclusive interview with The Fiscal Times, John F. Sopko, Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, said that the Pentagon, aid agencies and the State Department must quickly evaluate these projects to determine whether the billions being spent in Afghanistan right now will yield the desired results or not. Many projects are simply not sustainable, he said – and continuing to spend money on them results not just in a wasted fortune, but very real risks to nearly 70,000 American soldiers who are still there.  

“They have not thought about sustainability,” Sopko said, referring to the military, aid agencies and the State Department. “If you don’t think about that, you’re going to build a bridge and give it to the Afghans who can’t sustain it.”

He added, “There’s pervasive corruption throughout the country.”

These warnings from Sopko – who was appointed to his post last summer by President Obama – come as lawmakers, the public, and the policy community in D.C. have largely turned their attention away from the war and from the soldiers still fighting and dying there. Despite spending some $500 billion to fight in Afghanistan, the war is becoming invisible. Sopko and his team at SIGAR are among the few voices reminding the country about financial mismanagement, corruption and the continuing threat to American lives.
“I believe in the mission in Afghanistan,” he said. “We lost too many lives and we’ve spent too much money” to ignore it. 

Dollars to the Taliban

In recent months, SIGAR has been especially busy identifying waste, fraud and abuse. Earlier this month, it found that a $53 million USAID project meant to supply power to Kandahar was unsustainable.

It also found that millions of contracting dollars have ultimately ended up in the hands of the Taliban. As The Fiscal Times recently reported, the Pentagon did not have the required protocols in place to prevent 80 percent of all contracts from getting into the hands of the enemy.

A quarterly report issued by SIGAR in January said that the United States has spent more than half of the nearly $100 billion in Afghan reconstruction funds on developing the country’s police and security forces. But numerous reports have found that the Afghan forces are not ready to take over security responsibilities.

Two recent SIGAR reports also found that police and Army buildings built by the United States for $26 million in two key strategic provinces were underutilized or sat empty. One was even being used as a chicken coop.

All of this is especially troubling in the wake of a February 2013 GAO report that determined Afghanistan would essentially collapse without extensive U.S. financial support. Sopko painted a picture of a country with intractable corruption, a U.S. military that had not properly planned or executed countless projects, and an aid apparatus that has

failed to acknowledge realities on the ground.

“We found systemic problems almost everywhere we looked,” Sopko said....

Poor planning, quality control
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Unlike other inspector generals who work for the agency they’re inspecting, Sopko is independent. He has the power to audit any program related to Afghanistan reconstruction, whether the projects are implemented by DOD, State or USAID. In his tens months on the job, Sopko, a veteran investigator and attorney with more than 30 years in oversight work, has discovered that corruption within the Afghan government is the primary obstacle to effective reconstruction.
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“Afghanistan, according to Transparency International, is the most corrupt country [in the world] except North Korea and Somalia,” he said.

But there are also a myriad of problems on the American side. Sopko said poor planning and inadequate quality assurance practices make it nearly impossible to effectively implement reconstruction programs.

“What’s caused the extensive problems is something I emphasized in the last quarterly report: inadequate planning, poor quality assurance,” he said. “We’re not enforcing quality. The successful programs are the ones that [were] planned properly,” Sopko added. “They had talked to the Afghans, they had worked out sustainability. They dealt with corruption.”...

He referenced a story written by The Fiscal Times’  Josh Boak when Boak was with The Washington Post. In 2011, Boak found that a school built by the U.S.in a remote region of Afghanistan had actually been taken over by the Taliban.

“You’ve got to go kick the tires. You’ve got to make certain someone we trust goes out and makes certain the money is spent the way it was intended,” Sopko insisted. “You’ve got to verify that the money you gave to buy fuel bought the fuel.”

Sopko refused to say whether fatigue has contributed to a lack of oversight by U.S. agencies and departments. But he did say many government employees would prefer that the audit process disappear altogether.

“There are too many people in this government, in the bureaucracies, who would like IG [inspector general] reports to be classified, secret and show up in the dead of night in a sealed envelope. If that happened, there will never be any improvements in how the government’s run,” he said....

Sopko said he is especially concerned about continued direct foreign assistance to the Afghan government. “It’s a big area of concern,” Sopko said of U.S. assistance to Afghanistan. “Afghans don’t have the capability to handle the direct assistance.”

The amount of money provided to Afghanistan is expected to exceed $100 billion by the end of the year – and the U.S. will need to fund the country far into the future if the government is to have any chance of success.

USAID also lacks the ability
to effectively monitor money being given to the Afghan government, suggested Sopko. “When I talk to some of the people in USAID, they refer to direct assistance programs they’ve done in Egypt and Israel. They’re not Afghanistan. I’m looking for models where this has worked in a kinetic environment,” he said."...via Lucianne

=============================
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This isn't new about Afghanistan. It's been a scam since day one to rob Americans. Following 2011 LA Times piece describes Afghanistan is controlled by mafia-like system, hands out US wealth, punishing anyone who speaks up:
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9/25/11, "Government by crime syndicate," LA Times, Op-ed, Sarah Chayes
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"In Afghanistan and elsewhere, rampant corruption threatens security and the rule of law."

"Afghanistan is controlled by a structured, mafiaesque system, in which money flows upward via purchase of office, kickbacks or "sweets" in return for permission to extract resources (of which more varieties exist in impoverished Afghanistan than one might think) and protection in case of legal or international scrutiny. Those foolish enough to raise objections are punished. The result is a system that selects for criminality, excluding and marginalizing the very men and women of probity most needed to build a sustainable state....
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The remarkable public confrontation between the Gandhi-like ascetic Anna Hazare and the government of India — which came to a triumphant end last month with a glass of orange juice and a government promise to create a strong, independent anti-corruption agency — is the latest manifestation of a worldwide explosion of outrage at what historians may someday come to deem humanity's latest form of tyranny: the capture of states by criminal syndicates.

  • Otherwise known as rampant public corruption."...
Ms. Chayes is the "author of "The Punishment of Virtue: Inside Afghanistan After the Taliban" and designed an anti-corruption strategy for the command of the international forces."
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========================
Ed. note: The first paragraph sounds like the US today.

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US criticizes China for mishandling Muslim terror, China not happy about it, especially since Boston bombings show US has no room to criticize others-BBC

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4/26/13, "Doubts over China government claims on Xinjiang attack," BBC

"Local frustration" (scroll down)

"Critics, though, say that by blaming "terrorists" China is ignoring the root cause of Uighur resentment, and China should rethink its own, heavy-handed tactics.

In response to the deaths in Selibuya the US state department said it "regretted the unfortunate acts of violence that led to these casualties", but it did not condemn the acts as terrorism. Instead, it called on China to "take steps to reduce tensions and promote long-term stability in Xinjiang".

That has infuriated China, which argues that following the Boston bombings the US is guilty of double standards. 

Beijing's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said: "China ensures the rights of people from all ethnic groups including their religious rights. We are firmly opposed to the US confusing black and white, and right and wrong. 

"Not only do they not condemn violent terrorist acts, but they also make casual and irresponsible accusations against China's ethnic policy.""...

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Saturday, April 27, 2013

After Boston bombings NY Times op-ed says Americans must reflect on their role in it. When Muslim Hasan slaughtered 13 unarmed Americans in Ft. Hood, US official said it would be worse if it affected our diversity-Mark Steyn

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4/26/13, "The Collapsing of the American Skull," Mark Steyn, NRO, "The parameters in which we allow ourselves to think about vital issues shrink remorselessly." 

"One of the most ingenious and effective strategies of the Left on any number of topics is to frame the debate and co-opt the language so effectively that it becomes all but impossible even to discuss the subject honestly. Take the brothers Tsarnaev, the incendiary end of a Chechen family that in very short time has settled aunts, uncles, sisters, and more across the map of North America from Massachusetts to New Jersey to my own home town of Toronto. Maybe your town has a Tsarnaev, too: There seems to be no shortage of them, except, oddly, back in Chechnya. The Tsarnaevs’ mom, now relocated from Cambridge to Makhachkala in delightful Dagestan, told a press conference the other day that she regrets ever having gotten mixed up with those crazy Yanks: “I would prefer not to have lived in America,” she said.

Not, I’m sure, as much as the Richard family would have preferred it. Eight-year-old Martin was killed; his sister lost a leg; and his mother suffered serious brain injuries. What did the Richards and some 200 other families do to deserve having a great big hole blown in their lives? Well, according to the New York Times, they and you bear collective responsibility. Writing on the op-ed page, Marcello Suarez-Orozco, dean of the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, and Carola Suarez-Orozco, a professor at the same institution, began their ruminations thus:

“The alleged involvement of two ethnic Chechen brothers in the deadly attack at the Boston Marathon last week should prompt Americans to reflect on whether we do an adequate job assimilating immigrants who arrive in the United States as children or teenagers.”
Maybe. Alternatively, the above opening sentence should “prompt Americans to reflect” on whether whoever’s editing America’s newspaper of record these days “does an adequate job” in choosing which pseudo-credentialed experts it farms out its principal analysis on terrorist atrocities to. But, if I follow correctly, these UCLA profs are arguing that, when some guys go all Allahu Akbar on you and blow up your marathon, that just shows that you lazy complacent Americans need to work even harder at “assimilating” “immigrants.” After all, Dzhokhar and Tamerlan were raised in Cambridge, Mass., a notorious swamp of redneck bigotry where the two young Chechens no doubt felt “alienated” and “excluded” at being surrounded by NPR-listening liberals cooing, “Oh, your family’s from Chechnya? That’s the one next to Slovakia, right? Would you like to come round for a play date and help Jeremiah finish his diversity quilt?” Assimilation is hell.

How hard would it be for Americans to be less inadequate when it comes to assimilating otherwise well-adjusted immigrant children? Let us turn once again to Mrs. Tsarnaev:

“They are going to kill him. I don’t care,” she told reporters. “My oldest son is killed, so I don’t care. I don’t care if my youngest son is going to be killed today. . . . I don’t care if I am going to get killed, too . . . and I will say Allahu Akbar!”

You can say it all you want, madam, but everyone knows that “Allahu Akbar” is Arabic for “Nothing to see here.” So, once you’ve cleared the streets of body parts, you inadequate Americans need to redouble your efforts.

There is a stupidity to this, but also a kind of decadence. Until the 1960s, it was assumed by all sovereign states that they had the right to choose which non-nationals were admitted within their borders. Now, to suggest such a thing risks the charge of “nativism” and to propose that, say, Swedes are easier to assimilate than Chechens is to invite cries of “Racist!” So, when the morgues and emergency rooms are piled high, the only discussion acceptable in polite society is to wonder whether those legless Bostonians should have agitated more forcefully for federally mandated after-school assimilationist basketball programs.

As Ma Tsarnaev’s effusions suggest, at the sharp end of Islamic imperialism, there’s a certain glorying in sacrifice. We’re more fatalistic about it: After Major Hasan gunned down 13 of his comrades and an unborn baby, General Casey, the Army’s chief of staff, assured us that it could have been a whole lot worse:

“What happened at Fort Hood was a tragedy, but I believe it would be an even greater tragedy if our diversity becomes a casualty here.”

What happened at Boston was a “tragedy,” but it would be an even greater tragedy if there were to be any honest discussion of immigration policy, or Islam, or anything else that matters."...photo above Mrs. Tsarnaev, April 25, 2013, at a news conference. via Free Republic



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'Everything is Rigged: The Biggest Price Fixing Scandal Ever,' Rolling Stone, Matt Taibbi

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"Two of America's top law-enforcement officials, Attorney General Eric Holder and former Justice Department Criminal Division chief Lanny Breuer, confessed that it's dangerous to prosecute offending banks because they are simply too big. Making arrests, they say, might lead to "collateral consequences" in the economy."

4/25/13, "Everything Is Rigged: The Biggest Price-Fixing Scandal Ever," Rolling Stone, Matt Taibbi

"The Illuminati were amateurs. The second huge financial scandal of the year reveals the real international conspiracy: There's no price the big banks can't fix."

"Conspiracy theorists of the world, believers in the hidden hands of the Rothschilds and the Masons and the Illuminati, we skeptics owe you an apology. You were right. The players may be a little different, but your basic premise is correct: The world is a rigged game. We found this out in recent months, when a series of related corruption stories spilled out of the financial sector, suggesting the world's largest banks may be fixing the prices of, well, just about everything.

You may have heard of the Libor scandal, in which at least three – and perhaps as many as 16 – of the name-brand too-big-to-fail banks have been manipulating global interest rates, in the process messing around with the prices of upward of $500 trillion (that's trillion, with a "t") worth of financial instruments. When that sprawling con burst into public view last year, it was easily the biggest financial scandal in history – MIT professor Andrew Lo even said it "dwarfs by orders of magnitude any financial scam in the history of markets."

That was bad enough, but now Libor may have a twin brother. Word has leaked out that the London-based firm ICAP, the world's largest broker of interest-rate swaps, is being investigated by American authorities for behavior that sounds eerily reminiscent of the Libor mess. Regulators are looking into whether or not a small group of brokers at ICAP may have worked with up to 15 of the world's largest banks to manipulate ISDAfix, a benchmark number used around the world to calculate the prices of interest-rate swaps.

Interest-rate swaps are a tool used by big cities, major corporations and sovereign governments to manage their debt, and the scale of their use is almost unimaginably massive. It's about a $379 trillion market, meaning that any manipulation would affect a pile of assets about 100 times the size of the United States federal budget.

It should surprise no one that among the players implicated in this scheme to fix the prices of interest-rate swaps are the same megabanks – including Barclays, UBS, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and the Royal Bank of Scotland that serve on the Libor panel that sets global interest rates. In fact, in recent years many of these banks have already paid multimillion-dollar settlements for anti-competitive manipulation of one form or another (in addition to Libor, some were caught up in an anti-competitive scheme, detailed in Rolling Stone last year, to rig municipal-debt service auctions). Though the jumble of financial acronyms sounds like gibberish to the layperson, the fact that there may now be price-fixing scandals involving both Libor and ISDAfix suggests a single, giant mushrooming conspiracy of collusion and price-fixing hovering under the ostensibly competitive veneer of Wall Street culture.

The Scam Wall Street Learned From the Mafia

Why? Because Libor already affects the prices of interest-rate swaps, making this a manipulation-on-manipulation situation. If the allegations prove to be right, that will mean that swap customers have been paying for two different layers of price-fixing corruption. If you can imagine paying 20 bucks for a crappy PB&J because some evil cabal of agribusiness companies colluded to fix the prices of both peanuts and peanut butter, you come close to grasping the lunacy of financial markets where both interest rates and interest-rate swaps are being manipulated at the same time, often by the same banks.

"It's a double conspiracy," says an amazed Michael Greenberger, a former director of the trading and markets division at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and now a professor at the University of Maryland. "It's the height of criminality."

The bad news didn't stop with swaps and interest rates. In March, it also came out that two regulators – the CFTC here in the U.S. and the Madrid-based International Organization of Securities Commissions – were spurred by the Libor revelations to investigate the possibility of collusive manipulation of gold and silver prices. "Given the clubby manipulation efforts we saw in Libor benchmarks, I assume other benchmarks – many other benchmarks – are legit areas of inquiry," CFTC Commissioner Bart Chilton said.

But the biggest shock came out of a federal courtroom at the end of March – though if you follow these matters closely, it may not have been so shocking at all – when a landmark class-action civil lawsuit against the banks for Libor-related offenses was dismissed. In that case, a federal judge accepted the banker-defendants' incredible argument: If cities and towns and other investors lost money because of Libor manipulation, that was their own fault for ever thinking the banks were competing in the first place.

"A farce," was one antitrust lawyer's response to the eyebrow-raising dismissal.

"Incredible," says Sylvia Sokol, an attorney for Constantine Cannon, a firm that specializes in antitrust cases.

All of these stories collectively pointed to the same thing: These banks, which already possess enormous power just by virtue of their financial holdings – in the United States, the top six banks, many of them the same names you see on the Libor and ISDAfix panels, own assets equivalent to 60 percent of the nation's GDP – are beginning to realize the awesome possibilities for increased profit and political might that would come with colluding instead of competing. Moreover, it's increasingly clear that both the criminal justice system and the civil courts may be impotent to stop them, even when they do get caught working together to game the system.

If true, that would leave us living in an era of undisguised, real-world conspiracy, in which the prices of currencies, commodities like gold and silver, even interest rates and the value of money itself, can be and may already have been dictated from above. And those who are doing it can get away with it. Forget the Illuminati – this is the real thing, and it's no secret. You can stare right at it, anytime you want.

The banks found a loophole, a basic flaw in the machine. Across the financial system, there are places where prices or official indices are set based upon unverified data sent in by private banks and financial companies. In other words, we gave the players with incentives to game the system institutional roles in the economic infrastructure.

Libor, which measures the prices banks charge one another to borrow money, is a perfect example, not only of this basic flaw in the price-setting system but of the weakness in the regulatory framework supposedly policing it. Couple a voluntary reporting scheme with too-big-to-fail status and a revolving-door legal system, and what you get is unstoppable corruption.

Every morning, 18 of the world's biggest banks submit data to an office in London about how much they believe they would have to pay to borrow from other banks. The 18 banks together are called the "Libor panel," and when all of these data from all 18 panelist banks are collected, the numbers are averaged out. What emerges, every morning at 11:30 London time, are the daily Libor figures.

Banks submit numbers about borrowing in 10 different currencies across 15 different time periods, e.g., loans as short as one day and as long as one year. This mountain of bank-submitted data is used every day to create benchmark rates that affect the prices of everything from credit cards to mortgages to currencies to commercial loans (both short- and long-term) to swaps.

Gangster Bankers Broke Every Law in the Book

Dating back perhaps as far as the early Nineties, traders and others inside these banks were sometimes calling up the company geeks responsible for submitting the daily Libor numbers (the "Libor submitters") and asking them to fudge the numbers. Usually, the gimmick was the trader had made a bet on something – a swap, currencies, something – and he wanted the Libor submitter to make the numbers look lower (or, occasionally, higher) to help his bet pay off.

Famously, one Barclays trader monkeyed with Libor submissions in exchange for a bottle of Bollinger champagne, but in some cases, it was even lamer than that. This is from an exchange between a trader and a Libor submitter at the Royal Bank of Scotland:
SWISS FRANC TRADER: can u put 6m swiss libor in low pls?...
PRIMARY SUBMITTER: Whats it worth
SWSIS FRANC TRADER: ive got some sushi rolls from yesterday?...
PRIMARY SUBMITTER: ok low 6m, just for u
SWISS FRANC TRADER: wooooooohooooooo. . . thatd be awesome
Screwing around with world interest rates that affect billions of people in exchange for day-old sushi – it's hard to imagine an image that better captures the moral insanity of the modern financial-services sector.

Hundreds of similar exchanges were uncovered when regulators like Britain's Financial Services Authority and the U.S. Justice Department started burrowing into the befouled entrails of Libor. The documentary evidence of anti-competitive manipulation they found was so overwhelming that, to read it, one almost becomes embarrassed for the banks. "It's just amazing how Libor fixing can make you that much money," chirped one yen trader. "Pure manipulation going on," wrote another.

Yet despite so many instances of at least attempted manipulation, the banks mostly skated. Barclays got off with a relatively minor fine in the $450 million range, UBS was stuck with $1.5 billion in penalties, and RBS was forced to give up $615 million. Apart from a few low-level flunkies overseas, no individual involved in this scam that impacted nearly everyone in the industrialized world was even threatened with criminal prosecution.

Two of America's top law-enforcement officials, Attorney General Eric Holder and former Justice Department Criminal Division chief Lanny Breuer, confessed that it's dangerous to prosecute offending banks because they are simply too big. Making arrests, they say, might lead to "collateral consequences" in the economy.

The relatively small sums of money extracted in these settlements did not go toward reparations for the cities, towns and other victims who lost money due to Libor manipulation. Instead, it flowed mindlessly into government coffers. So it was left to towns and cities like Baltimore (which lost money due to fluctuations in their municipal investments caused by Libor movements), pensions like the New Britain, Connecticut, Firefighters' and Police Benefit Fund, and other foundations – and even individuals (billionaire real-estate developer Sheldon Solow, who filed his own suit in February, claims that his company lost $450 million because of Libor manipulation) – to sue the banks for damages.

One of the biggest Libor suits was proceeding on schedule when, early in March, an army of superstar lawyers working on behalf of the banks descended upon federal judge Naomi Buchwald in the Southern District of New York to argue an extraordinary motion to dismiss. The banks' legal dream team drew from heavyweight Beltway-connected firms like Boies Schiller (you remember David Boies represented Al Gore), Davis Polk (home of top ex-regulators like former SEC enforcement chief Linda Thomsen) and Covington & Burling, the onetime private-practice home of both Holder and Breuer.

The presence of Covington & Burling in the suit – representing, of all companies, Citigroup, the former employer of current Treasury Secretary Jack Lew – was particularly galling. Right as the Libor case was being dismissed, the firm had hired none other than Lanny Breuer, the same Lanny Breuer who, just a few months before, was the assistant attorney general who had balked at criminally prosecuting UBS over Libor because, he said, "Our goal here is not to destroy a major financial institution."

In any case, this all-star squad of white-shoe lawyers came before Buchwald and made the mother of all audacious arguments. Robert Wise of Davis Polk, representing Bank of America, told Buchwald that the banks could not possibly be guilty of anti- competitive collusion because nobody ever said that the creation of Libor was competitive. "It is essential to our argument that this is not a competitive process," he said. "The banks do not compete with one another in the submission of Libor."

If you squint incredibly hard and look at the issue through a mirror, maybe while standing on your head, you can sort of see what Wise is saying. In a very theoretical, technical sense, the actual process by which banks submit Libor data – 18 geeks sending numbers to the British Bankers' Association offices in London once every morning – is not competitive per se.

But these numbers are supposed to reflect interbank-loan prices derived in a real, competitive market. Saying the Libor submission process is not competitive is sort of like pointing out that bank robbers obeyed the speed limit on the way to the heist. It's the silliest kind of legal sophistry.

But Wise eventually outdid even that argument, essentially saying that while the banks may have lied to or cheated their customers, they weren't guilty of the particular crime of antitrust collusion. This is like the old joke about the lawyer who gets up in court and claims his client had to be innocent, because his client was committing a crime in a different state at the time of the offense.

"The plaintiffs, I believe, are confusing a claim of being perhaps deceived," he said, "with a claim for harm to competition."

Judge Buchwald swallowed this lunatic argument whole and dismissed most of the case. Libor, she said, was a "cooperative endeavor" that was "never intended to be competitive."...Buchwald made this ruling despite the fact that both the U.S. and British governments had already settled with three banks for billions of dollars for improper manipulation, manipulation that these companies admitted to in their settlements.

Michael Hausfeld of Hausfeld LLP, one of the lead lawyers for the plaintiffs in this Libor suit, declined to comment specifically on the dismissal. But he did talk about the significance of the Libor case and other manipulation cases now in the pipeline.

"It's now evident that there is a ubiquitous culture among the banks to collude and cheat their customers as many times as they can in as many forms as they can conceive," he said. "And that's not just surmising. This is just based upon what they've been caught at."

Greenberger says the lack of serious consequences for the Libor scandal has only made other kinds of manipulation more inevitable. "There's no therapy like sending those who are used to wearing Gucci shoes to jail," he says. "But when the attorney general says, 'I don't want to indict people,' it's the Wild West. There's no law."...

The only reason this problem has not received the attention it deserves is because the scale of it is so enormous that ordinary people simply cannot see it. It's not just stealing by reaching a hand into your pocket and taking out money, but stealing in which banks can hit a few keystrokes and magically make whatever's in your pocket worth less. This is corruption at the molecular level of the economy, Space Age stealing – and it's only just coming into view." via Zero Hedge