The government hides surveillance programs just because people would freak out

The government hides surveillance programs just because people would freak out

Government agencies will go to great lengths to keep their data collection a secret, strictly to avoid the bad press they know would be coming
 
The government hides surveillance programs just because people would freak out

by Ariana Eunjung Cha – April 13, 2015


Want to see how secrecy is corrosive to democracy? Look no further than a series of explosive investigations by various news organizations this week that show the government hiding surveillance programs purely to prevent a giant public backlash.

USA Today’s Brad Heath published a blockbuster story on Monday about the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) running a massive domestic spying operation parallel to the NSA’s that was tracking billions of international calls made by Americans. They kept it secret for more than two decades. According to the USA Today report, the spying program was not only used against alleged terrorist activity, but countless supposed drug crimes, as well as “to identify US suspects in a wide range of other investigations”. And they collected information on millions of completely innocent Americans along the way.

Heath’s story is awash with incredible detail and should be read in full, but one of the most interesting parts was buried near the end: the program was shut down by the Justice Department after the Snowden leaks, not because Snowden exposed the program, but because they knew that when the program eventually would leak, the government would have no arguments to defend it.

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Iran demands nuclear disarmament from U.S. Russia, China, Britain and France

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Iran accused the five nuclear powers Wednesday of failing to take concrete action to eliminate their stockpiles and called for negotiations on a convention to achieve nuclear disarmament by a target date.

Iran’s deputy U.N. ambassador Gholam Hossein Dehghani told the U.N. Disarmament Commission that “a comprehensive, binding, irreversible, verifiable” treaty is the most effective and practical way to eliminate nuclear weapons.

He accused the nuclear powers — the U.S., Russia, China, Britain and France — of promising nuclear disarmament but making no significant progress.

Dehghani’s speech came days after the announcement of a framework agreement between Iran and the five nuclear powers and Germany aimed at keeping Tehran from being able to develop a nuclear weapon. It has to be finalized by June 30.

The commission, which includes all 193 member states, is supposed to make recommendations in the field of disarmament but has failed to make substantive proposals in the past decade.

Its three-week meeting is taking place ahead of the five-year review of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), the world’s single most important pact on nuclear arms, which begins on April 27.
Read more at http://www.trunews.com/iran-demands-nuclear-disarmament-from-u-s-russia-china-britain-and-france/#CyLEhRdaqwuOJepD.99

How Big Business Is Helping Expand NSA Surveillance

Lee Fang
The Intercept [1]
April 2, 2015

Since November 11, 2011, with the introduction [2] of the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, American spy agencies have been pushing laws to encourage corporations to share more customer information. They repeatedly failed, thanks in part to NSA contractor Edward Snowden’s revelations of mass government surveillance. Then came Republican victories in last year’s midterm Congressional elections and a major push by corporate interests in favor of the legislation.

Today, the bill is back, largely unchanged, and if congressional insiders and the bill’s sponsors are to believed, the legislation could end up [3] on President Obama’s desk as soon as this month. In another boon to the legislation, Obama is expected to reverse his past opposition and sign it, albeit in an amended and renamed form (CISPA is now CISA, the “Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act”). The reversal comes in the wake of high-profile hacks on JPMorgan Chase and Sony Pictures Entertainment. The bill has also benefitted greatly from lobbying by big business, which sees it as a way to cut costs and to shift some anti-hacking defenses onto the government.

For all its appeal to corporations, CISA represents a major new privacy threat to individual citizens. It lays the groundwork for corporations to feed massive amounts of communications to private consortiums and the federal government, a scale of cooperation even greater than that revealed by Snowden. The law also breaks new ground in suppressing pushback against privacy invasions; in exchange for channeling data to the government, businesses are granted broad legal immunity from privacy lawsuits — potentially leaving consumers without protection if companies break privacy promises that would otherwise keep information out of the hands of authorities.

Ostensibly, CISA is supposed to help businesses guard against cyberattacks by sharing information on threats with one another and with the government. Attempts must be made to filter personal information out of the pool of data that is shared. But the legislation [4] — at least as marked up by the Senate Intelligence Committee — provides an expansive definition of what can be construed as a cybersecurity threat, including any information for responding to or mitigating “an imminent threat of death, serious bodily harm, or serious economic harm,” or information that is potentially related to threats relating to weapons of mass destruction, threats to minors, identity theft, espionage, protection of trade secrets, and other possible offenses. Asked at a hearing in February how quickly such information could be shared with the FBI, CIA, or NSA, Deputy Undersecretary for Cybersecurity Phyllis Schneck replied, “fractions of a second.”

Full article here [1]

5 Charts Which Show That The Next Economic Crash Is Dead Ahead

5 Charts Which Show That The Next Economic Crash Is Dead Ahead

 

Michael Snyder
Economic Collapse [1]
March 31, 2015

When an economic crisis is coming, there are usually certain indicators that appear in advance.  For example, commodity prices usually start to plunge before a recession begins.  And as you can see from the Bloomberg Commodity Indexwhich you can find right here [2], this has already been happening.  In addition, I have previously written [3] about how the U.S. dollar went on a great run just before the financial collapse of 2008.  This is something that has also been happening over the past few months.  Some people would have you believe that nobody can anticipate the next great economic downturn and that to try to do so is just an exercise in “guesswork”.  But that is not the case at all.  We can look back over history and see patterns that keep repeating.  And a lot of the exact same patterns that happened just before previous stock market crashes are happening again right now.

For example, let’s talk about the price of oil.  There are only two times in history when the price of oil has fallen by more than 50 dollars in a six month time period.  One was just before the financial crisis in 2008, and the other has just happened…

5 Charts Which Show That The Next Economic Crash Is Dead Ahead Price Of Oil 2015 425x282 [4]

As a result of crashing oil prices, we are witnessing oil rigs shut down in the United States at a blistering pace.  In fact, almost half of all oil rigs in the U.S. have already shut down.  The following commentary and chart come from Wolf Richter [5]

In the latest week, drillers idled another 41 oil rigs, according to Baker Hughes. Only 825 rigs were still active, down 48.7% from October. In the 23 weeks since, drillers have idled 784 oil rigs, the steepest, deepest cliff-dive in the history of the data:

5 Charts Which Show That The Next Economic Crash Is Dead Ahead Fracking Bust 2015 425x303 [6]

We are looking at a full-blown fracking bust, and this bust is already having a dramatic impact on the economies of states that are heavily dependent on the energy industry.

For example, just check out the disturbing number that just came out of Texas [7]

The crash in oil prices is hammering the Texas economy.

The latest manufacturing outlook index from the Dallas Fed plunged again in March, to -17.4 from -11.2 in February, indicating deteriorating business conditions in the state.

Ouch.

But this pain is going to be felt far beyond Texas.  In recent years, Wall Street banks have made a massive amount of money packaging up energy industry loans, bonds, etc. and selling them off to investors.

If that sounds similar to the kind of behavior that preceded the subprime mortgage meltdown, that is because it is.

Now those loans, bonds, etc. are going bad as the fracking bust intensifies, and whoever is left holding all of this worthless paper at the end of the day is going to lose an extraordinary amount of money.  Here is more from Wolf Richter [8]

It suited Wall Street just fine: according to Dealogic, banks extracted $31 billion in fees from the US oil and gas industry and its investors over the past five years by handling IPOs, spin-offs, “leveraged-loan” transactions, the sale of bonds and junk bonds, and M&A.

That’s $6 billion in fees per year! Over the last four years, these banks made over $4 billion in fees on just “leveraged loans.” These loans to over-indebted, junk-rated companies soared from about $40 billion in 2009 to $210 billion in 2014 before it came to a screeching halt.

For Wall Street it doesn’t matter what happens to these junk bonds and leveraged loans after they’ve been moved on to mutual funds where they can decompose sight-unseen. And it doesn’t matter to Wall Street what happens to leverage loans after they’ve been repackaged into highly rated Collateralized Loan Obligations that are then sold to others.

At the same time, we are also witnessing a slowdown in global trade.  This usually happens when economic conditions are about to turn sour, and that is why it is so alarming that the total volume of global trade in January was down 1.4 percent from December.  According to Tyler Durden of Zero Hedge [9], that was the largest drop since 2011…

Presenting the latest data from the CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis, according to which in January world trade by volume dropped by a whopping 1.4% from December: the biggest drop since 2011!

5 Charts Which Show That The Next Economic Crash Is Dead Ahead Global Trade Volume 425x273 [10]

We are seeing some troubling signs in the U.S. as well.

I shared the following chart in a previous article [11], but it bears repeating.  It comes from Charles Hugh Smith, and it shows that new orders for consumer goods are falling at a rate not seen since the last recession…

5 Charts Which Show That The Next Economic Crash Is Dead Ahead Charles Hugh Smith New Orders 425x282 [12]

Well, what about the stock market?  It was up more than 200 points on Monday.  Isn’t that good news?

Yes, but the euphoria on Wall Street will not last for long.

When corporate earnings per share either start flattening out or start to decline, that is a huge red flag.  We saw this just prior to the stock market crash of 2008, and it is happening again right now.  The following commentary and chart come from Phoenix Capital Research [13]

Take a look at the below chart showing current stock levels and changes in forward Earnings Per Share (EPS). Note, in particular how divergences between EPS and stocks tend to play out (hint look at 2007-2008).

5 Charts Which Show That The Next Economic Crash Is Dead Ahead Change In 12 Month EPS 425x273 [14]

We all know what came next.

And guess what?

According to CNBC [15], a lot of the “smart money” is pulling their money out of the stock market right now while the getting is good…

Recent market volatility has sent stock market investors rushing for the exits and into cash.

Outflows from equity-based funds in 2015 have reached their highest level since 2009, thanks to a seesaw market that has come under pressure from weak economic data, a stronger dollar and the the prospect of monetary tightening.

Funds that invest in stocks have seen $44 billion in outflows, or redemptions, year to date, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Equity funds have seen outflows in five of the last six weeks, including $6.1 billion in just the last week.

It doesn’t matter if you are a millionaire “on paper” today.

What matters is if the money is going to be there when you really need it.

At the moment, a whole lot of people have been lulled into a false sense of complacency by the soaring stock market and by the bubble of false economic stability that we have been enjoying.

But under the surface, there is a whole lot of turmoil going on.

Those that are looking for the signs are going to see the next crisis approaching well in advance.

Those that are not are going to get absolutely blindsided by what is coming.

Don’t let that happen to you.


Article printed from Prison Planet.com: http://www.prisonplanet.com

URL to article: http://www.prisonplanet.com/5-charts-which-show-that-the-next-economic-crash-is-dead-ahead.html

URLs in this post:

[1] Economic Collapse: http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/archives/5-charts-that-show-that-the-next-economic-crash-is-dead-ahead

[2] which you can find right here: http://www.bloomberg.com/quote/BCOM:IND/chart

[3] previously written: http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/archives/last-great-run-u-s-dollar-death-euro-74-trillion-currency-derivatives-risk

[4] Image: http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/archives/5-charts-that-show-that-the-next-economic-crash-is-dead-ahead/price-of-oil-2015-2

[5] Wolf Richter: http://wolfstreet.com/2015/03/22/the-us-oil-bust-gets-even-worse/

[6] Image: http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/archives/5-charts-that-show-that-the-next-economic-crash-is-dead-ahead/fracking-bust-2015-2

[7] that just came out of Texas: http://www.businessinsider.com/dallas-fed-manufacturing-report-march-30-2015-3

[8] from Wolf Richter: http://wolfstreet.com/2015/03/23/oil-gas-defaults-bankruptcies-hit-wall-street-banks/

[9] Tyler Durden of Zero Hedge: http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-03-24/global-trade-volume-tumbles-most-2011-biggest-value-plunge-lehman

[10] Image: http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/archives/5-charts-that-show-that-the-next-economic-crash-is-dead-ahead/global-trade-volume

[11] in a previous article: http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/archives/7-signs-stock-market-peak-happening-right-now

[12] Image: http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/archives/7-signs-stock-market-peak-happening-right-now/charles-hugh-smith-new-orders

[13] from Phoenix Capital Research: http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-03-30/earnings-have-peaked%E2%80%A6-and-dropping-first-time-2008

[14] Image: http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/archives/5-charts-that-show-that-the-next-economic-crash-is-dead-ahead/change-in-12-month-eps

[15] CNBC: http://www.cnbc.com/id/102541062

[16] Controlling the Global Economy: Bilderberg, the Trilateral Commission and the Federal Reserve: http://www.prisonplanet.com/controlling-the-global-economy-bilderberg-the-trilateral-commission-and-the-federal-reserve.html

[17] Why The Price Of Oil Is More Likely To Fall To 20 Rather Than Rise To 80: http://www.prisonplanet.com/why-the-price-of-oil-is-more-likely-to-fall-to-20-rather-than-rise-to-80.html

[18] Entering the Greatest Depression in History: http://www.prisonplanet.com/entering-the-greatest-depression-in-history.html

[19] More Financial Turmoil Ahead: A Stock Market Bear Rally Built on Sand: http://www.prisonplanet.com/more-financial-turmoil-ahead-a-stock-market-bear-rally-built-on-sand.html

[20] Fed Monetisation is a Political Power Tool: http://www.prisonplanet.com/fed-monetisation-is-a-political-power-tool.html

China to invest $500 billion in other countries’ economies by 2020

China to invest $500 billion in other countries’ economies by 2020 — President Xi Jinping

March 28, 13:58 UTC+3
“The Chinese economy has entered a new stage of its development, which will be for the benefit of all world countries,” the Chinese leader said

Chinese President Xi Jinping

Chinese President Xi Jinping

BOAO /China/, March 28. /TASS/. The volume of China’s investment in other countries’ economies by 2020 will exceed $500 billion, President Xi Jinping said while speaking at the opening of the Boao Forum for Asia annual conference 2015.

“The Chinese economy has entered a new stage of its development, which will be for the benefit of all world countries,” the Chinese leader said.

He said the volume of “Chinese investment abroad will exceed $500 billion over the next five years.”

This year, some 2,000 politicians, economists and representatives of business circles take part in the forum’s work. The Russian delegation is led by First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov.

Who can Save Israel Now?

 

Yesterday I told a friend that there would be tens of thousands of Israelis flooding Rabin Square at midnight to celebrate Israel’s return to the world. But when we drove by the plaza at 11:30 the place was dead.

Yesterday I wrote a piece predicting that the election in Israel would be hugely clarifying for Americans. Netanyahu would be gone, the Herzog peace process would begin, and the fight would at last begin between liberal Zionists and anti-Zionists in the U.S. over who could produce results, with neoconservatives exiled.

I couldn’t have been more wrong. I was influenced by the excitement of the Zionist Camp, which believed Netanyahu would end up with as few as 18 seats in the Knesset. Netanyahu got 30. Zionist Camp only 24.

But I was right about this being a hugely clarifying election. All has been revealed to a watching world. Netanyahu’s reversion to racism in the last days of a desperate campaign, his explicit denunciation of “Arab voters” on Facebook so as to get his people out, along with his repudiation of the two-state solution—and the huge reward delivered to him by Israelis for these statements — should be clarifying revelations to the American political class. This is Israel. Everything you have been told about the “Jewish democracy” by the Israel supporters: it is wrong. It may be Jewish, but it is no democracy, this is a white settler society where a fearful privileged group of Jews holds on to its power in ever-expanding colonies by reelecting a strong leader, now in his tenth year as premier, who will use threats and violence against the Palestinians. This place is what Ali Abunimah and Max Blumenthal told us it was years ago. Blumenthal’s video Feeling the Hate in Jerusalem was censored just about everywhere he put it up six years ago. MJ Rosenberg, a liberal Zionist, said that Blumenthal had caricatured the Israeli public by quoting a few yokels.

Well today those yokels have spoken, and they are Israel.

At a polling place in south Jerusalem yesterday, a woman told me how upset she got that morning when her neighbor blurted, “Bloody Arabs,” during an election conversation. But a friend who was with her jumped in to justify the comment. “We are right to be afraid.” Jerusalem can never be divided because the Arabs already destroy the trainline that runs through East Jerusalem, they learn hatred as schoolchildren. So we need a strong leader who will not allow them to have a state. This woman was a child psychologist in her 60s, who has worked in the U.S. and Europe. She wore a chic purple fleece and gray slacks, as sophisticated as they come; and she speaks like a South African haut bourgeois during apartheid.

I had just walked through East Jerusalem to get to the German Colony. There are no polling places in the Nablus Road or on Salah ad-Din Street. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who are governed by Israel, who according to Israel live In Israel, cannot even vote because of the color of their skin. If this is not apartheid, what is? And if this is your idea of a Jewish democracy, why would your children want to be Jewish?

The election results are especially a challenge to liberal Zionists. This was the moment Israel was supposed to pivot. It was a change election, the liberals came to believe in the last few weeks, and I believed right along with them. The kids electioneering for Zionist camp in their blue t-shirts in Jerusalem said they were going to Rabin Square in Tel Aviv that night, depending on the news. Gershom Gorenberg couldn’t suppress his excitement on twitter. Peace Now was hopeful. In The New Yorker, Bernard Avishai described a post-Zionist electorate in which a new center of sophisticated young people (Yesh Atid and Kahlon followers) will end the Likud era because they want to be engaged with the world, not isolated, and the Palestinians can be included in the new economy. Avishai is just as wrong as I was, but he and all liberal Zionists who oppose boycott now need to be challenged. You told us to give Israel a chance. Well, this society is not going to change.

“This is devastating for the peace process,” a crestfallen Yaniv told me at the Zionist Camp party that turned out to be a soggy funeral in Tel Aviv last night. An election that never addressed the peace process had turned into a fury about the peace process at the very end, he said.

“Nothing will change. We need a Mandela. The only thing that can help us is for more pressure to come.”

Yaniv was almost in tears.  When will the liberal Zionists help Yaniv and call for real outside pressure? Last night Peter Beinart, the leading liberal Zionist, tweeted a comment by Rep. Adam Schiff on CNN that from now on the US must not veto Palestinian statehood resolutions in the Security Council. Beinart is rising to the occasion, making his way toward BDS.

At the Zionist Camp party, some people tried to blame Netanyahu for the results, his desperate campaign tactics. “Milosevic,” a liberal Zionist friend said as we left the fizzled hall on the booming north end of town. The New York Times blames Netanyahu too in a long editorial today, citing his “ugly” campaign and “subversive” speech to Congress two weeks ago.

But they are missing the point. The Israeli people have spoken. Noam Sheizaf explains at +972:

There is symbolic significance to the fact that Netanyahu openly campaigned on his opposition to Palestinian statehood. It means that he is backed by a majority of Israeli voters, and an absolute majority of the Jewish vote. There needs to be, and I think there will be, a debate on the implications of this decision by the Jewish public. For years we have been hearing that Israel will either end the occupation or cease to be a democracy. Could it be that the Jewish public has made its choice?

These were the people I met outside the polling places in West Jerusalem yesterday. Even a Zionist Camp voter was railing about Haneen Zoabi on the Joint Arab List: a demon who spews hatred, he said. A Meretz supporter pointed out hopefully that Tzipi Livni of Zionist Camp was going to support the peace process; but Livni had to make it clear this week that she would not ever be prime minister under a Zionist Camp government, lest people would vote against Herzog as an appeaser. The same Livni who is shunned in Europe because she has blood on her hands from two massacres of Palestinians in the last six years.

Jewish Israel is a rightwing society. You must understand that the Zionist Camp the liberal Zionists are so excited about is like the racist Democratic Party back in the days of Jim Crow in the U.S. While the one Jewish leftwing party, Meretz, is more like Obama’s Democratic Party today. The Meretz kids I met yesterday are smart idealists, and anti-racists. And they have 5 seats in a Knesset of 120. One girl told me that in a straw vote of 100 7th graders at Beit Chinuch school, the vote was overwhelmingly for Netanyahu and Bennett, two for Meretz. And this is an affluent West Jerusalem neighborhood.

So this is Israel’s crisis; it has now lost all political cover in the west among liberals. I said on a radio show a couple of months ago that Zionism began with cries of Death to the Jews in Paris in the 1894 that motivated Herzl and ended with cries of Death to the Arabs in Jerusalem. Bernard Avishai said I was wrong, and Jane Eisner and Beinart were silent. But Netanyahu proves the point. This is how Zionism ends.

A couple of years ago Beinart said that Zionism was in crisis. But that crisis for American Jews is over now. Zionism is what Netanyahu has shown us it is, in his frank calls on Jews to hold the land and deny the vote to non-Jews. This is what Palestinian intellectuals from Ghada Karmi to Edward Said to Raja Shehadeh to Lila Abu-Lughod to Saree Makdisi to Ali Abunimah, really the list is endless, have been telling us Zionism is for many years, and they have been marginalized and smeared for saying so.

This moment is immensely clarifying because it will bring those voices into our discourse and force American Zionists to say, What is this Jewish democracy, and what are you prepared to do about it?

Thanks to Scott Roth for reporting and observations in this post.

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net

Only 1 year of water left in California, NASA scientist

NASA Signals Crisis: “California Has About One Year of Water Left”

 March 15, 2015
 The California drought has already been alarming enough not only for residents of the state – whose water supply was never secured, and has constantly been the source of heated controversy – but those across the country and globe who depend up on its agriculture for survival.

As SHTF reported back in November, NASA scientists have already warned that California’s groundwater supplies are at critical low points, and threatening the food supply:

A new Nature Climate Change piece, “The global groundwater crisis,” by James Famiglietti, a leading hydrologist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, warns that “most of the major aquifers in the world’s arid and semi-arid zones, that is, in the dry parts of the world that rely most heavily on groundwater, are experiencing rapid rates of groundwater depletion.”

The most worrisome fact: “nearly all of these underlie the word’s great agricultural regions and are primarily responsible for their high productivity.”

Now, Jay Famiglietti – the same NASA hydrologist who led the previous report – is sounding an all-out alarm that California has less than one year of water remaining based on satellite image data:

Data from NASA satellites show that the total amount of water stored in the Sacramento and San Joaquin river basins — that is, all of the snow, river and reservoir water, water in soils and groundwater combined — was 34 million acre-feet below normal in 2014. That loss is nearly 1.5 times the capacity of Lake Mead, America’s largest reservoir.

Statewide, we’ve been dropping more than 12 million acre-feet of total water yearly since 2011. Roughly two-thirds of these losses are attributable to groundwater pumping for agricultural irrigation in the Central Valley. Farmers have little choice but to pump more groundwater during droughts, especially when their surface water allocations have been slashed 80% to 100%. But these pumping rates are excessive and unsustainable.

As difficult as it may be to face, the simple fact is that California is running out of water — and the problem started before our current drought. NASA data reveal that total water storage in California has been in steady decline since at least 2002, when satellite-based monitoring began, although groundwater depletion has been going on since the early 20th century.

Right now the state has only about one year of water supply left in its reservoirs, and our strategic backup supply, groundwater, is rapidly disappearing. California has no contingency plan for a persistent drought like this one (let alone a 20-plus-year mega-drought), except, apparently, staying in emergency mode and praying for rain.

Famiglietti makes no hesitation in calling for mandatory water rationing and other measures to cut water uses:

First, immediate mandatory water rationing should be authorized across all of the state’s water sectors, from domestic and municipal through agricultural and industrial. The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is already considering water rationing by the summer unless conditions improve. There is no need for the rest of the state to hesitate.

And he further claims that public support, at over 94% in polls, is sufficient to support massive state intervention in residential water usage, and even back mandatory restrictions.

If the claims of California’s water shortage are not overstated for effect, it may be tough times coming for the Golden State.

 

 

Thanks to Mac Slavo from www.shtfplan.com