“Life's greatest comfort is being able to look over your shoulder and see people worse off, waiting in line behind you.” -Chuck Palahniuk
One of the many civil liberties related themes we have focused on over the past several years has to do with how emerging technologies can pose a threat, first to our basic 4th Amendment rights, and then ultimately to freedom itself. Two of the most high profile technologies in this regard, and which have extremely high potential for abuse, are license plate readers and drones.
Freedom of the Press Geared Towards Protecting CRITICS of Government Corruption ... NOT Government Apologists
"Unbridled faith in financial markets prior to the crisis and the recent demonstrations of corruption ... has eroded social capital. An unstable dynamic of declining trust in the financial system and growing exclusivity of capitalism threatens.... Capitalism must reassess bankers' sense of self."
On the same day in which we released our letter writing campaign to “End Gold Price Manipulation Now!”, Barclays Plc was fined $43.8 million and Barclays trader Daniel James Plunkett was fined more than $160,000 for manipulating the gold price to avoid a $3.9 million payout to a client that had placed options on gold in the market. Of course, these types of shenanigans have been going on for more than a decade now, but since this event marks the first significant fine against a bullion bank and a banker for gold price manipulation, it is groundbreaking in that regard.
Having watched Tim Geithner's disgusting defense of the tax-payer-backed re-inflation of a corrupt and knowingly devastating banking system on Jon Stewart's Daily Show, and watching the US fine (no jail time for anyone) a Swiss bank which admits its guilt over billions of fraud yet allow them to remain a prime dealer of US Treasuries; we thought the following story from a '3rd world banking system' would open a few eyes in the US this weekend as 'we remember'. As AP reports, a billionaire businessman at the heart of a $2.6 billion state bank scam in Iran, the largest fraud case since the country's 1979 Islamic Revolution, was executed Saturday, state television reported.
A year ago it was the US which first "boosted" America's GDP by $500 billion - literally out of thin air - when it arbitrarily decided to include "intangibles" to the components that 'make up' GDP (in the process cutting over 5% from the US Debt/GDP ratio). Then Spain joined the fray. Then Greece. Then the UK. Then Nigeria, which showed those deveoped Keynesian basket cases how it is really done, when it doubled the size of its GDP overnight when it decided to change the base year of its GDP calculations. Now it is Italy's turn, and like everything else Italy does, this latest "revision" of the definition of GDP easily wins in the style points category. As Bloomberg reports, "Italy will include prostitution and illegal drug sales in the gross domestic product calculation this year." Yup: blow and hookers. And that, ladies and gents, how it's done.
- The Fed can't print trade? World Trade Flows Fall in First Quarter (WSJ)
- PBOC’s Zhou Says China May Have Housing Bubble in ‘Some Cities’ (BBG)
- ECB's Weidmann - Reviving ABS market not task for central bank (Reuters)
- LOL: Fitch upgrades Greece by a notch to 'B'; outlook stable (Reuters)
- LOL x2: Spain Sovereign Debt Rating Upgraded by S&P (BBG)
- China Will Vet Tech Firms After Threatening U.S. Retaliation (BBG)
- US to claim victory over China in WTO car dispute (BBG)
- Obama urges Democrats to vote in midterms, attacks Republicans (Reuters)
- U.S. Military Pushes for More Disclosure on Drone Strikes (WSJ)
Thailand is a prosperous nation with strong banks, modern factories, flourishing tourism, a growing middle class and other typical markers of a successful democracy. Which, as Bloomberg explains, is exactly what it lacks. Thailand has had so many coups in its modern history that scholars sometimes refer to the last 82 years as its “coup season.” In between, violent political strife has been chronic. The latest round features deadly street clashes, politically tainted corruption trials and the army taking control after an election derailed by protests. In contrast to political activists almost everywhere, the ones in Thailand are demanding less democracy... and this is the timeline of events that led to the latest 'coup'. What is perhaps more troublesome for a nation desperately seeking allies, under US law, sanctions are triggered if a country receiving military aid suffers a coup.
Update 2: Thailand's military suspends the 2007 constitution and dismisses the caretaker government.
Update: The Thai army has announced a nationwide curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. after declaring a military takeover of the government to restore order.
Two days ago, when reporting on the Thailand "non-coupy" martial law imposed by the army, which wasn't in charge, but really was or something, we summarized the situation as follows: THAI MILITARY CHANNEL 5 SAYS MARTIAL LAW `NOT A COUP'. "Ah, gotta love the New Normal: full of non-coupy martial laws." Moments ago, the New Normal regressed back to its Old Normal ways, when in a live statement on TV, the Thai army chief made the non-coupy coup coupy, and announced a military takeover of the government Thursday, saying the coup was necessary to restore stability and order after six months of political deadlock and turmoil.
Just one day after the FBI issues arrest warrants for 5 Chinese military officials, Caixin reports that Fang Fang - the former CEO of JPMorgan Asia - has been arrested in Hong Kong by the Independent Commission Against Corruption (or anti-graft agency). Coincidental timing we are sure; and while details are sparse, the arrest appears linked to the hiring of the children of Chinese officials. Bloomberg reports that Fang declined to comment after being released on bail (under restrictions not to leave Hong Kong).
- Qatar Bank: Deutsche Bank to raise $11 bln with help from Qatar (Reuters)
- AstraZeneca rejects Pfizer's take-it-or-leave-it offer (Reuters)
- China Home-Price Growth Slowdown Spreads as Sellers Discount (BBG)
- The new face of NSA: Mike Rogers (Reuters)
- Putin orders troops near Ukraine to return home (AP)
- Wall of Worry Rebuilt as Nasdaq Rout Sends Cash to High (Nasdaq)
- Bank of England's Mark Carney highlights housing market's risk to UK economy (Guardian)
- Greek Selloff Shows Rush for Exit Recalling Crisis (BBG)
- Anti-austerity Greek radicals ahead in Athens local election (AFP)
Underappreciated risks to electronic bitcoin and all forms of investments and savings today, including gold, that are held electronically come in the form of modern warfare - involving as it does cyberwarfare and electromagnetic warfare. No electricity and no computer or internet access and you cannot access your savings, investments and money ...
Given the surge in India's stock market, echoing the reflexive pro-business exuberance of last year's Japanese stock market, the similarities between India's newly-elected PM Narendra Modi and Japan's Shinzo Abe are coming thick and fast... some good (pro-business), some bad (potential dislike of the US) and some potentially ugly (strong nationalist tendencies).