Just weeks before Blackwater guards fatally shot 17 civilians at Baghdad’s Nisour Square in 2007, The NY Times reports that the State Department began investigating the security contractor’s operations in Iraq. However, as James Risen (who himself faces jail time thanks to the White House) reports, a senior official of the notorious private security firm allegedly threatened to kill a government investigator leading the probe into the firm’s Iraqi operation. Stunningly (or not), the US embassy sided with him and forced the inspector to cut the visit short. “Blackwater contractors saw themselves as above the law,” Richter added; now we wonder what gave them that idea?
"According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration's reference scenario, domestic oil production is going to peak at 14.6 million barrels a day in 2019 and then drop to 12.7 million barrels a day in 2040. Given the 2013 consumption level of 18.9 million barrels of crude a day, the U.S. will never be a net oil exporter under this scenario,... The U.S. crude producers need the flexibility of exporting oil or selling it domestically. As for the political dreams of making the U.S. a major oil exporting power, or even of energy independence backed by the shale boom, they are just that -- dreams."
Back in 2011 Goldman, when the FDIC-insured bank holding company with no deposits, was slapped with the biggest at the time SEC penalty for shorting CDOs it had sold to clients, it started a trend of scapegoating all its evils on a lone, then 20-something individual, Fabrice Tourre, who seemingly had "worked alone" and whose actions were not supervised by anyone: the chain of responsibility started and ended with him. Naturally, nobody went to jail. A few years later, stuck in the biggest scandal of its post-bankruppcy existence involving over 20 million recalls in just the first 6 months of 2014 alone, GM has decided that what worked for Goldman should work for it too, and as the WSJ reports, is "pinning of a decadelong failure to recall defective cars on a lone engineer." Meet Raymond DeGiorgio, said lone engineer.
Following Darrell Issa's subpoena of Lois Lerner's hard drive, the rather stunning (and ripped from the pages of a badly written inside-Washington TV mini-series) news is that the IRS reports that the hard drive in question has been destroyed (just as we hinted last night). "We've been informed that the hard drive has been thrown away," Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, the top Republican on the Finance Committee, said in a brief hallway interview and as Politico reports, Ex-IRS official Lois Lerner’s crashed hard drive has been recycled, making it likely the lost emails of the lightening rod in the tea party targeting controversy will never be found, according to multiple sources. Issa is pissed... blasting in a statement that the 'lost emails' meme was "just one more attempted deception... e-mails of a prominent official, don’t just disappear without a trace unless that was the intention." His response... requesting the White House attorney's testimony on Lerner's emails.
Following the release of the "deeply troubling" 315-page "Valukas Report" and the firing of 'all' those responsible for multiple deaths from GM's 'Kevorkianesque' cars, CEO Mary Barra is back on the Hill to face the music once more from The Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. Having explained in her previous testimony that she could answer their questions as she did not have the information, Subcommittee Chairman Tim Murphy (R-PA) noted, now "we will have the chance to get those answers and compare the company's findings to our own." Of course, one wonders if the politicians will ask about how GM silenced a whistleblower.
The market is highly confident that it has a good handle on tomorrow’s FOMC meeting, despite the fact that several factors will require modification. There is high conviction that the Fed will not surprise the market, but rather take a “steady as she goes” approach that delivers a market consensus outcome. The reasons for this view are obvious and logical; however, such complacency breeds risk as well as opportunity, because the arguments for accelerating tapering to $15 billion (per month) are quite compelling.
No Wonder Impeachment Was “Off the Table”: Democrats Approved Mass Surveillance and Torture … and the Subsequent Cover-UpSubmitted by George Washington on 06/09/2014 18:52 -0400
No, It Was NOT All Bush and Cheney's Fault ... Even Back THEN
The war on privacy continues unabated, as the U.S. government continues to prove time and time again that it views the citizenry as a bunch of cattle to be branded, herded and dealt with at will. It doesn’t seem to bother anyone in the establishment that the public has lost all faith in institutions and so-called “authority” (a concept which I do not believe in to begin with). The evidence of a growing number of Orwellian databases being created has been available for quite some time. And now, the public faces another sinister and unacceptable invasion to our privacy. A national financial database is being planned, which would contain the most intimate details of our entire financial lives. It may apply to as many as 227 million Americans.
"For lack of a better term, you’ve got an organized crime syndicate," a whistleblower who works in the Texas VA told The Daily Beast. "People up on top are suddenly afraid they may actually be prosecuted and they’re pressuring the little guys down below to cover it all up." What’s worse, the documents show the wrongdoing going unpunished for years...
Once again we get confirmation that this administration is the most transparent in history. The State Department's Marie Harf explained that John Kerry will not be attending the Select Committee hearing on Benghazi and must postpone his testimony to the House Oversight committee due "critical diplomatic work" he is undertaking. As the full letter below explains:
*HARF SAYS KERRY 'WILL APPEAR ONCE ON BENGHAZI'; SAYS NO NEED FOR KERRY TO GO BEFORE TWO COMMITTEES
*KERRY HAS 'CRITICAL DIPLOMATIC WORK' ON SUBPOENA DAY OF MAY 29
Furthermore, the State Department adds, "we believe there are witnesses better suited to answer questions regarding the Department’s response to Congressional investigations of the Benghazi attacks."
Two Former Government Officials Tell Us What It's All About ...
"Notwithstanding the view that we may see S&P get up to 1950 (+/- a little) over the next fortnight or so, over the rest of Q2 and Q3 we could see a decent correction of up to 20% in the risk-on trade. Low 1700s in the S&P attracts, and thereafter, depending on weekly closes, low 1600s/mid-1500s S&P could be in play. For now, however, the key level to the upside is 2000 as a weekly close on the S&P – if achieved then I would have to revisit my bearish bias for the belly of 2014. To the downside a weekly close below 1770 would, I feel, easily put a 1700 S&P within reach. Beyond that I would need to assess data and price action at the time before highlighting the next set of levels, but I would not be surprised to see policymakers again attempt to boost markets later this year - there should be no surprise if this happens because the reaction function of central bankers has become depressingly predictable."
Dispassionate discussion of the near-term forces at work in the foreign exchange market.
One can’t help but look at the situations transpiring around the globe and hope: things are different this time. The problem is being different puts it right back in line with that other caveat: history doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme. And so lies the most troubling aspect facing not only the U.S. economy, but quite possibly the world as whole. For if things rhyme anything inline with past events in history: We’re all in a dung heap of QE based minutia, with Geo-political ramifications the “intellectual” crowd never contemplated as possible – let alone probable.
As another week passes by the markets have made no real movement in months. News flow, outside of Yellen's testimony, was also rather slow as first quarter's earnings season begins to come to a close. However, there were a few articles that we read this week that we thought you might find interesting as well... from the dangers of hidden leverage (in the re-burgeoning CDO markets) to the history if bubbles (and their lack of logic) and the demise of the US small business.