Britain’s surveillance agency GCHQ, with aid from the US National Security Agency, intercepted and stored the webcam images of millions of internet users not suspected of wrongdoing, secret documents reveal. GCHQ files dating between 2008 and 2010 explicitly state that a surveillance program codenamed Optic Nerve collected still images of Yahoo webcam chats in bulk and saved them to agency databases, regardless of whether individual users were an intelligence target or not. In one six-month period in 2008 alone, the agency collected webcam imagery – including substantial quantities of sexually explicit communications – from more than 1.8 million Yahoo user accounts globally. GCHQ does not have the technical means to make sure no images of UK or US citizens are collected and stored by the system, and there are no restrictions under UK law to prevent Americans’ images being accessed by British analysts without an individual warrant.
Are fish from the Pacific safe to eat? What about the elevated background radiation readings detected in Japan, and recently in California? Are these harmful levels? Should we be worried? And if so, what should be done about these potential health threats? What steps should we take to protect ourselves? Fukushima-related fears have been both overblown as well as heavily downplayed by parties on each side of the discussion. Much of this stems from ignorance of the underlying science. But some of it, sadly, seems to be purposefully misleading. Again, on both sides. To assess the true risks accurately, you need to know about the difference between radiation and contamination. The distinction is vital and, unfortunately, one of the most glossed-over and misused facets of the reporting on nuclear energy.
The ObamaCare website rollout fiasco, joined by the bait-and-switch “You can keep your current insurance (not)” tempest, obscure the fundamental quandary about so-called health-care in America: that it is a gigantic racket structured to allow countless layers of grift and counter-grift. The end product of all that artifice is that medical care costs twice as much in America as any other civilized country, and that it has to be operated by a cruel and despotic matrix of poorly coordinated bureaucracies that commonly leave people more disabled financially than the diseases that brought them into the system. ObamaCare was designed to work like a giant roll of duct tape that would allow the current cast of characters in charge (Democratic Progressives) to pretend that the system could keep going a few years longer.
In lieu of the Japanese government doing the right thing and finally coming clean about the epic environmental catastrophe that is Fukushima, which it hopes to simply dig under the rug even as the inconvenient reality gets worse and thousands of tons of radioactive water make their way into the ocean, one is forced to rely on third-party sources for information on this tragedy. We present a useful primer from Scientific American on Fukushima "water retention" problem and "what you need to know about the radioactive water leaking from Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean."
After all, it’s clear at this point that the entire EU financial system is essentially held together via duct tape by the ECB. And with Spain and Greece’s banking systems once again in dire need of capital I’m very concerned that the next round of the EU Crisis is fast approaching and EU leaders are trying to start the damage control in advance.
Well, my fellow Slope-a Dopes, your favorite intrepid seafaring Frenchman got blown out of the water by Benjamin Moby-Dick Bernanke once again. I have to hand it to captain grey beard, for a guy with a curiously quivering lower lip, who seems so utterly unsure of himself every time he opens his moronic mouth, he sure does have some pair of ballistic brass balls. Not only did he delivered on his QE3 promise, but he actually turbo charged it into a terrifying trifecta! Boatswain BDI was left for dead, desperately drowning in a sea of red DOOMs (Deep Options Out of the Money). So now that Moby Dick has breached and surged the equity waves to new highs, where do we sail from here?
"What's the difference between the US and Europe?" 'About Six Years' is the punchline that CNBC's Rick Santelli ascribes the apparently magnanimous view that Europe is so much different from us. Between PIMCO's Kashkari pontificating on unsustainable debt (and the Fed's need to 'do something', and Liesman still defending the Fed with all his might, Santelli loses it - noting Kashkari's intelligence, he rhetorically asks "Do you really think [the Fed] is the solution?" - and rightly so. "It's all band-aids," he exclaims, adding that "the problem is insolvency." Speaking out loud what many are thinking, Rick blasts the hypocrisy of the Kashkaris of the world who opine on solutions (and band-aids) while missing the critical underlying problem - that no one is accountable. Between Reagan, 'unreal' spending cuts, compromised 'bad' resolutions, and the continuing ostrich economics in the US mainstream, Santelli tells it like it is - as hard as it is for the CNBC anchors to hear.
Welcome to the Crazy House, a rotting McMansion ruled by power-drunk megalomaniacs suffering from delusions of invulnerability and god-like powers. Why are we here, you ask? Because the drunks who run the household make it so darned easy: just keep quiet, listen politely to their ravings, and you get subsidized meals, free rent, a houseful of techno-gadgetry and nonstop entertainment--and that's not even counting the amusement value of their delusional, sloppy-drunk ramblings out by the rust-stained pool.
Out of one side of its mouth, our political system talks about reforming Social Security to preserve it for a few more years, and out of the other side of its mouth, it proposes to expedite its demise. Where's the duct tape?
According to my research, last week's stock market rally was the sharpest such surge since 1644, just before the Ming Dynasty collapsed and Europe was decimated by an epidemic of plague. Perhaps that is coincidence, perhaps not. The Status Quo always tries to brighten the outlook just before things fall apart, and nothing cheers flagging spirits more than a sudden rise in wealth. The rally in barley in Babylon during the last week of December 1748 BCE was almost as robust, a peculiar coincidence given the next sharpest rally on record was the rebound in Dutch tulip bulb contracts which also occurred in the month of December, 1636. Shares in the South Seas Company recovered much of their initial losses in a similar rebound in London, September, 1720, a welcome respite for all the investors who were about to be wiped out by the 80% decline in share value when that bubble popped. More recently, condos in Florida saw a sharp uptick of sales and prices fetched in August, 2007, just before that market collapsed in a great heap. You see the pattern: the sharper the rally, the closer the market is to the bubble's end-game.
The single greatest conceit of the Status Quo in the U.S., China and Euroland is that systems and trends can be tightly controlled. That conceit is slowly being revealed as hubris, as all sorts of things are spinning out of the control of the centralized authorities and financial elites in each geopolitical power center. Does anyone really think the people of Greece will stand idly by while the state treasures of their nation are transferred to the banks which foolishly lent billions to a visibly risky enterprise? The banks, of course, lent freely to insolvent governments throughout the European Union, confident in the backstop of the E.U. itself....Does anyone really think the uprisings against this transfer of national wealth to the "too big to fail" banks in Europe will fade as unemployment rises and the true costs of the transfer become apparent to all?...Does anyone really think the banks are really that precious to the people they are stripmining? Just how awful would it be if all the big banks with exposure to sovereign debt in the E.U. went belly up and were declared insolvent? A handful of very wealthy managers would lose their jobs, a handful of very wealthy owners would lose their stake, and all the pension funds and mutual funds which bet on the infinite passivity of the citizenry and the infinite checkbook of the E.U. would lose, too. It's called Capitalistic risk and return, baby, and return can be negative. All the big players assumed the citizenry would quietly line up to have the clothing ripped from their backs and their flesh flayed to extract the pound of flesh "owed" the banks. But as the citizenry of Europe wake up to costs of the stripmining, which extends now to the taxpayers of Germany, Finland and beyond, they are withdrawing their support of the financial Status Quo.
This alert warns you that major world-changing events are now underway and that your personal preparations for an uncertain future should either be completed or take on a new sense of urgency. On the basis of the information contained here and in the past two days of posts, I am personally ratcheting up my preparations, making purchases, and topping off what needs to be topped off. Important caveat: At this point in time, I cannot fully support 100% of my concerns with hard data and evidence. Some of what has tipped me into this state of urgency is data, evidence, and stories that I can point to. Some is due to the absence of data or information, the remainder results from watching market gyrations and correlations shift into new patterns, which tell me something is afoot. I have not been this concerned since October of 2008. - Chris Martenson
Charting 2010, Part 3: Fraudclosure, Halted Traffic, An America Divided: A World Stuck In Its TracksSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 12/27/2010 05:00 -0400
Continuing with the key words to describe 2010's New Normal, promptly after "Jobs" (and the lack thereof) and "Currency" (it is a very fitting metaphor that recently terrorism takes place in the form of weaponized printer cartridges), the 3rd one that should come to mind is "Stuck" - as in the quicksand the economy has found itself, whereby it sinks with every second there is no fiscal and monetary stimulus, and all other primary aspects of the new normal that are going nowhere fast. One of the better illustrations of this newly-found immobility has to do with the Fraudclosure scandal that sizzled in October and November, then fizzled as the banks and the media have done everything in their power to keep it out of sight and out of mind. And Stuck describes far more than just a state of pervasive mortgage insolvency (and bank undercapitalization): it has become a state of mind, whereby the entire nation is seemingly permanently divided on virtually all key issues. We review some of the more salient 'adhesive' trends in the past year.
A popular definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results. Is the solution as simple as changing our methods or does insanity beget more insanity? This 5 part series is an examination of our collective and individual insanity. Hop aboard the crazy train express and let’s see if there’s a way out.
So just where does that leave CRE owners who need to refinance this year or early next? In trouble, that’s where. And if this were not enough, we can tell you from first hand knowledge that bank regulators have been crisscrossing the country examining bank CRE loans intently. They do not want another mortgage debacle as was residential real estate on their current watch. Like they have a choice, right? In many cases current CRE appraisals are being conducted against existing bank property loans and capital calls are going out to CRE owners who have always been model credits and have never missed a payment in their lives. And CRE values will improve in this type of a regulatory and available capital environment? Quite the opposite, as you already know.