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Longwood Gardens. May, 2013.  Photo by: joanneleon

Longwood Gardens. May, 2013.  Photo by: joanneleon


Stevie Wonder - You Haven't Done Nothin'

News & Opinion

U.S. authorities seize accounts of major Bitcoin operator

ST. LOUIS - U.S. authorities have seized two accounts linked to a major operator in the booming Bitcoin digital currency market, Tokyo-based exchange Mt. Gox. The move may prevent the firm from facilitating the purchase and sale of Bitcoins in U.S. dollars at a time when use of the currency and its value has mushroomed.

Bitcoin, which unlike conventional money is bought and sold on a peer-to-peer network independent of any central authority, has grown popular among users who lack faith in the established banking system.

The price of the volatile currency ballooned in March as a result of the Cyprus bank crisis. Authorities worry that a lack of regulation has left the currency vulnerable to money launderers and other criminals.

A seizure warrant obtained Tuesday by the Department of Homeland Security froze an account that an Iowa-based online payment processor, Dwolla Inc, held at Veridian Credit Union in the name of Mutum Sigillum LLC.

This excerpt is actually from the update/response that the author posted after getting a lot of push back to his original column, with critics hinting that he was too favorable to hedge fund managers, which he argues, I think, is too narrow a way to look at it. I think his POV is worth reading.  
The Fed’s Credibility Problem

What was my main point? We are four years into the One Percent's recovery. Now, we are in Round 3 of quantitative easing, the formal term for the Fed injecting hundreds of billions of dollars into the economy by purchasing longer-term assets like Treasury bonds and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac paper. What's that giving us? Overvalued stocks. Private equity firms racing to buy up Arizona real estate. Junk bond yields at record lows. Ratings shopping on structured financial products.

These are dangerous signs of prebubble activity.
In response to my column, people have said: What else should the Fed do? Things would be far worse if the Fed weren't buying $85 billion in bonds a month. Look at Europe, whose monetary policy has been almost as big a disaster as its fiscal policy.

But how long do we have to wait? How much more wealthy do the One Percent get to become through speculation — how much house flipping do private equity firms get to do — before we see some sustained improvement in the rest of the economy?

And could it be that with a heavily indebted populace and a dysfunctional banking system still unable to lend effectively, that this round of quantitative easing is having a counterproductive effect? As evidence that the banking system transmission mechanism isn't working well, small businesses are having a hard time borrowing, according to a recent New York Fed poll.

One solution is that the Fed needs to have a heavy regulatory hand to limit speculative activities. Perhaps regulators should raise margin requirements for stocks. Put the ratings agencies on notice that they are watching out for any loosening of criteria. Make these efforts public and keep talking about them.

And then, maybe quantitative easing needs to be refocused away from long-term Treasuries and housing. Maybe the Fed could figure out a way to buy student debt or municipal bonds to support infrastructure.

If quantitative easing is necessary, it should support investment, not speculation.

Washington gets explicit: its 'war on terror' is permanent
Senior Obama officials tell the US Senate: the 'war', in limitless form, will continue for 'at least' another decade - or two

It is hard to resist the conclusion that this war has no purpose other than its own eternal perpetuation. This war is not a means to any end but rather is the end in itself. Not only is it the end itself, but it is also its own fuel: it is precisely this endless war - justified in the name of stopping the threat of terrorism - that is the single greatest cause of that threat.
This war will end only once Americans realize the vast and multi-faceted costs they are bearing so that the nation's political elites can be empowered and its oligarchs can further prosper. But Washington clearly has no fear that such realizations are imminent. They are moving in the other direction: aggressively planning how to further entrench and expand this war.

One might think that if there is to be a debate over the 12-year-old AUMF, it would be about repealing it. Democratic Congresswoman Barbara Lee, who heroically cast the only vote against it when it was originally enacted by presciently warning of how abused it would be, has been advocating its repeal for some time now in favor of using reasonable security measures to defend against such threats and standard law enforcement measures to punish them (which have proven far more effective than military solutions). But just as happened in 2001, neither she nor her warnings are deemed sufficiently Serious even to consider, let alone embrace.

First two minutes of Nixon's speech on Watergate (from the National Archive).
Nixon Defends His Office On Watergate Charges

Obama Worse Than Nixon? Pentagon Papers Attorney Decries AP Phone Probe, Julian Assange Persecution

Bob Woodward: Obama Scandals Are Not Watergate, But Benghazi Kind Of Is (VIDEO)

"If you read through all these emails, you see that everyone in the government is saying, 'Oh, let's not tell the public that terrorists were involved, people connected to al Qaeda. Let's not tell the public that there were warnings,'" he said. "And I have to go back 40 years to Watergate when Nixon put out his edited transcripts to the conversations, and he personally went through them and said, 'Oh, let's not tell this, let's not show this.' I would not dismiss Benghazi. It's a very serious issue."

I find the conclusion drawn by Gallup and the headlines that are spread all across the news on this to be fascinating.  Gallup says that the stories aren't garnering the level of attention that other news stories have over the years, but they don't provide any context for that.  Also, this poll was taken just a few days after the AP story broke, and the news about all these issues ramped up considerably after that, so that might explain the comparative lack of attention, plus the fact that people don't watch the corporate news as much, though the do get more of their news from the internet.  Anyway, the fact that 75% of Americans are paying attention to the Benghazi story, and 76% to the IRS story, even if only paying attention a bit, that seems like a large number to me.  And the fact that 69% of Americans think Benghazi is a serious issue that needs investigation, and 74% feel the same way about the IRS story also seems significant, and makes the headlines that Americans are 'meh' about both issues seem very misleading to me.  You can look at the numbers with the Gallup link I provided in the first sentence of this paragraph. They break out the results by party affiliation and that is interesting.  As you would expect, more Republicans are following closely than Democrats and Independents are somewhere in between the two.  I tend to study headlines and it's an entire subject in itself, especially if you are interested in the subject of propaganda.  When you scan the news every day, you develop a nose for certain things, too much to go into right here and hard to explain because there is some intuition involved, but you can tell, IMHO, which stories are being spun by TPTB, which ones are being pushed and which ones are being suppressed.
Americans not paying that much attention to IRS, Benghazi stories

"The amount of attention Americans are paying to the IRS and the Benghazi situations is well below the average for news stories Gallup has tracked over the years," a new Gallup poll found.

Democrats are not paying much attention, nor are independents, said the survey released Friday--though Republicans are paying a lot of attention.

"Republicans are also much more likely than Democrats to strongly agree that both situations are serious enough to require investigation," according to a Gallup analaysis.
The survey was taken May 14-15.



Obama May Back F.B.I. Plan to Wiretap Web Users

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration, resolving years of internal debate, is on the verge of backing a Federal Bureau of Investigation plan for a sweeping overhaul of surveillance laws that would make it easier to wiretap people who communicate using the Internet rather than by traditional phone services, according to officials familiar with the deliberations.

The F.B.I. director, Robert S. Mueller III, has argued that the bureau’s ability to carry out court-approved eavesdropping on suspects is “going dark” as communications technology evolves, and since 2010 has pushed for a legal mandate requiring companies like Facebook and Google to build into their instant-messaging and other such systems a capacity to comply with wiretap orders. That proposal, however, bogged down amid concerns by other agencies, like the Commerce Department, about quashing Silicon Valley innovation.

Is Obama the New Nixon?
Obsession with Leaks, Secret Wars, Enemies List. At Least Nixon had No Drones to Take Out His Enemies.

Without going over the edge to Rush Limbaugh territory, the internal spying on reporters and politicization of the IRS do raise the question. Could Obama be trumping “Tricky Dick” on the latter’s home turf? Few politicians can match Richard Milhous Nixon for obsession with leaks, propagation of secret wars and creation of a list of enemies.

Let’s consider the evidence thus far and remember first that an indignant bi-partisan Congressional investigation, a ferocious press well beyond Woodward and Bernstein and a public that was riveted to the hour-by-hour testimony exposed Nixon’s dirty tricks.

Boycott Verizon.  One idea: Switch your cell phone service to a non-contract Virgin Mobile plan and ditch your land line.
Seizure of AP Phone Records Continues Obama Admin's Attack on Whistleblowers

Mark Seibel (McClatchy Newspapers): Seizure of a news organization's phone records should be illegal as it limits the ability of journalists to investigate and report - something guaranteed by the Constitution

Nixonian or Obamaesque? Obama Administration Spied On Associated Press Editors and Reporters

I recently published a column on how Barack Obama has publicly assumed many of the powers that were once cited as the basis for the investigation and attempted impeachment of Richard Nixon. One of those areas was the Obama Administration’s crackdown on journalists. This week Attorney General Eric Holder appears to have yet again added to this ignoble record. It appears that the Justice Department secretly obtained two months of telephone records of reporters and editors for The Associated Press. This disclosure follows another recent disclosure that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) targeted conservative groups associated with the Tea Party. Yet, once again, most Democrats remain silent in a type of cult of personality where principle is discarded in favor of loyalty to the President.

Mickey Louse: New York Moms Hiring Disabled People To Skip Lines At Disney

One of the longest (and unresolved) complaints with Disney is that families pay an obscene amount to get into “The Happiest Place on Earth” only to face ridiculously long lines that severely limit the number of rides that they can enjoy. Disney actually makes money off the inconvenience by selling “guides” and offering fast passes. However, it is not the only one making money off its lines. New York City moms are reportedly hiring disabled people to pose as family members so that their kids can go to the front of lines. The cost: $1000 a day for your own personal line-cutting wheelchaired person.

SF Pride CEO Resorts to Lies as Scandal Around Honoring Bradley Manning Continues

A member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, Supervisor David Campos, has spoken out on the ongoing scandal involving San Francisco Pride’s decision to not honor Pfc. Bradley Manning as a Grand Marshal of the Pride parade. He has urged Pride to hold a public meeting before this year’s parade and celebration on June 30 instead of after. Pride CEO Earl Plante is also outright lying or, at best, deliberately misrepresenting Pride’s actions in interviews with media.

One Hundred Days of Hunger Striking at Guantanamo

It has now been one hundred days since prisoners being held at the Guantanamo Bay prison launched a hunger strike. According to the Miami Herald‘s Carol Rosenberg, the Pentagon says 102 prisoners are now on hunger strike, and thirty are being “tube-fed.”

From the National Archives (now also has animated GIF files) which has a YouTube channel, a Flickr account and a presence on all major social media sites. I'm not sure when this started but it probably happened under the Obama administration.  They should be commended for finding numerous ways to share the assets of our national archives with all of us, since they belong to everyone.  
Let There Be Light, 1946 (Digitally restored)

ARC Identifier 35924 / Local Identifier 111-M-1241

Moving Images from the Department of Defense. Department of the Army. Office of the Chief Signal Officer. (09/18/1947 - 02/28/1964)
National Archives - Washington, DC - Motion Pictures, College Park, MD
Item from Record Group 111: Records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer, 1860 -1985

Creator: Department of Defense. Department of the Army. Office of the Chief Signal Officer. (09/18/1947 - 02/28/1964)
Production Date: 1946

Scope & Content: DOCUMENTARY: Veterans' hospital (Mason General Hospital, Brentwood, NY.) showing ten week treatment program for men with psychological problems stemming from combat; men enter the hospital, go through the orientation, admission, and evaluation process as the narrator observes that these men, whose education, culture, and development rejects war, share thoughts, share common anxieties: fear, apprehension, disaster, hopelessness, death, and the fear of death; veterans relate their experiences, thoughts, and emotions to hospital medical and professional staff; at night dreams of combat and other fears interrupt the men as they try to sleep; next morning, as the process of diagnosis, treatment, and therapy begins, men undergo a series physical exams and psychological tests; shows individual and group counseling sessions; demonstrate use of hypnosis; as weeks pass, the positive affects of therapy become apparent; men relax in the recreation room as combat experiences are no longer blocks to present activities and future plans, with emphasis on the veteran's occupation; visitors day, time for contact with family and friends; group therapy discussion concerning civilian reaction to returning veterans and their adjustment to the post-war pattern; montage contrasting condition of men before and after therapy; men show signs of recovery, of readiness for discharge, and ability to resume civilian life.

Contact: National Archives - Washington, DC - Motion Pictures (RD-DC-M), National Archives at College Park, 8601 Adelphi Road, College Park, MD, 20740-6001. Phone: 301-837-3540; Fax: 301-837-3620; Email:


Kevin Gosztola soliciting funds to help continue his excellent and tireless reporting on the Manning trial.  Remember, he was virtually the only one reporting on it at times.  I hope he is well funded for the court martial trial.  He deserves a Pulitzer for his journalism on this.  It will be interesting to see if the media does a turnaround on Manning and Assange now that they have had their epiphany and a taste of the whistleblower witch hunt.  But unlike the MSM, Kevin needs the funding from his readers to keep going.  Without Kevin and some others like Alexa O'Brien, the government would have succeeded in keeping most of the Manning situation in the dark.

To Those Who Have Supported My Coverage of Bradley Manning’s Court Martial (So Far)

Every dollar donated to help fund coverage of Bradley Manning has helped transform me into a foremost journalist on one of the biggest cases in military justice history.

Every post of mine shared on Facebook or Twitter has helped amplify critical coverage that is keeping the world informed of how the government is prosecuting Manning as if he is a traitor that aided terrorists.
I hope you will keep sharing my reporting with family, friends or those in your social network, and, when possible, make donations so I can remain a fixture in the press pool at Meade and keep up my coverage of the Manning case.

With gratitude,

Kevin Gosztola Journalist

Blog Posts and Tweets of Interest

Evening Blues
Sex change surgery performed on 16-month-old South Carolina child without consent

More Tunes

Funky President (People It's Bad) - James Brown

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