News ArticlesExcerpts of Key News Articles in Major Media
JPMorgan Chase said Friday that its traders may have tried to conceal the losses from a soured bet that has embarrassed the bank and cost it almost $6 billion — far more than its CEO first suggested. The bank said an internal investigation had uncovered evidence that led executives to “question the integrity” of the values, or marks, that traders assigned to their trades. JPMorgan also said that it planned to revoke two years’ worth of pay from some of the senior managers involved in the bad bet, and that it had closed the division of the bank responsible for the mistake. “This has shaken our company to the core,” CEO Jamie Dimon said. The bank said the loss, which Dimon estimated at $2 billion when he disclosed it in May, had grown to $5.8 billion. The investigation, which covered more than a million emails and tens of thousands of voice messages, suggested traders were trying to make losses look smaller, the bank said. The revelation could expose JPMorgan to civil fraud charges. If regulators decide that employee deceptions caused JPMorgan to report inaccurate financial details, they could pursue charges against the employees, the bank or both. JPMorgan could not necessarily hide behind the actions of its employees. Regulators could decide that its oversight or risk management contributed to the problematic statements.
Note: Yet will anyone go to jail for these shady activities? For key investigative reports on the criminality and corruption in the financial industry and biggest banks, click here.
The Department of Homeland Security will soon be using a laser at airports that can detect everything about you from over 160 feet away. This laser-based scanner ... could read everything from a person’s adrenaline levels, to traces of gun powder on a person’s clothes, to illegal substances — and it can all be done without a physical search. It also could be used on multiple people at a time, eliminating random searches at airports. The scanner is called the Picosecond Programmable Laser. The device works by blasting its target with lasers which vibrate molecules that are then read by the machine that determine what substances a person has been exposed to. The inventor of this invasive technology is Genia Photonics. Active since 2009, they hold 30 patents on laser technology designed for scanning. In 2011, they formed a partnership with In-Q-Tel, a company chartered by the CIA and Congress to build “a bridge between the Agency and a new set of technology innovators.” Although the technology could be used by “Big Brother,” Genia Photonics states that the device could be far more beneficial being used for medical purposes to check for cancer in real time, lipids detection, and patient monitoring.
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One of the world's deadliest businesses - the $55 billion-per-year arms trade - prefers to operate in the shadows. Bananas, cold pills and truck tires come with more market rules and international norms. This shameful gap could be filled by a United Nations agreement nearing completion in New York. The Arms Trade Treaty would require signatory countries to abide by clear rules on the import, export and transfer of weapons, ranging from small arms to air-defense systems. The aim is to bring a lethal, back-alley game into the open and curb sales to brushfire wars and terrorist groups. Think of Syria, Sudan and Somalia as prime examples where outside guns, tanks or helicopters are killing thousands. Governments, militias and guerrilla movements with the cash can buy virtually anything through brokers with the right connections. The United States, as the top seller of arms, has a special duty to improve this patchwork system. The Obama administration has pushed for approval of the treaty, a healthy break from the Bush White House, which favored a country-by-country approach that achieved little. But don't think this treaty is a slam-dunk. Gun-rights groups such as the National Rifle Association bristle at any mention of weapons controls and see the treaty as a threat to domestic gun ownership. It's nothing of the sort, and State Department negotiators have made Second Amendment guarantees an absolute "red line" in talks.
Note: For lots more from reliable major media sources on government corruption, click here.
In January of this year, health and nutrition blogger Steve Cooksey received a disturbing letter from the North Carolina Board of Dietetics/Nutrition. The letter contained a 19-page markup of Cooksey’s own blog, highlighting in handwritten red pen an extensive series of changes the Board demanded that Cooksey make. He had to make these changes, the Board censors told him, or he would face arrest. Specifically, the Board censors said, he had to remove or change all writing they construed as constituting “nutrition advising” or “nutrition counseling” without a license. Forbes was granted exclusive first-look at a new series of internal documents, freshly leaked by outraged members within the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics [formerly the American Dietetic Association, or ADA], the professional association behind the NC State Board of Dietetics/Nutrition which censored Cooksey. In these newly-available internal documents, [the ADA]: Openly discusses creating and using state boards of dietetics/nutrition ... for the express purpose of limiting market competition for its Registered Dietitian members; [and] openly discusses a nation-wide plan of surveilling and reporting private citizens, and particularly all competitors on the market for nutrition counseling, for “harming the public” by providing nutrition information/advice/counseling without a license.
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The former Countrywide Financial Corp., whose subprime loans helped start the nation's foreclosure crisis, made hundreds of discount loans to buy influence with members of Congress, congressional staff, top government officials and executives of troubled mortgage giant Fannie Mae, according to a House report. The report ... said the discounts — from January 1996 to June 2008 — were not only aimed at gaining influence for the company but to help mortgage giant Fannie Mae. Countrywide's business depended largely on Fannie, which ... was responsible for purchasing a large volume of Countrywide's subprime mortgages. "Documents and testimony obtained by the committee show the VIP loan program was a tool used by Countrywide to build goodwill with lawmakers and other individuals positioned to benefit the company," the report said. "In the years that led up to the 2007 housing market decline, Countrywide VIPs were positioned to affect dozens of pieces of legislation that would have reformed Fannie" and its rival Freddie Mac, the committee said. The Justice Department has not prosecuted any Countrywide official, but the House committee's report said documents and testimony show that Mozilo and company lobbyists "may have skirted the federal bribery statute by keeping conversations about discounts and other forms of preferential treatment internal. Rather than making quid pro quo arrangements with lawmakers and staff, Countrywide used the VIP loan program to cast a wide net of influence."
Note: For a treasure trove of reliable reports on the criminality and corruption within the financial and banking industries, click here.
India has put in place a $5.4 billion policy to provide free medicine to its people, a decision that could change the lives of hundreds of millions, but a ban on branded drugs stands to cut Big Pharma out of the windfall. From city hospitals to tiny rural clinics, India's public doctors will soon be able to prescribe free generic drugs to all comers, vastly expanding access to medicine in a country where public spending on health was just $4.50 per person last year. Under the plan, doctors will be limited to a generics-only drug list and face punishment for prescribing branded medicines, a major disadvantage for pharmaceutical giants in one of the world's fastest-growing drug markets. The initiative would overhaul a system where healthcare is often a luxury and private clinics account for four times as much spending as state hospitals, despite 40 percent of the people living below the poverty line, or $1.25 a day or less. Within five years, up to half of India's 1.2 billion people are likely to take advantage of the scheme, the government says. "The policy of the government is to promote greater and rational use of generic medicines that are of standard quality," said L.C. Goyal, additional secretary at India's Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and a key proponent of the policy. "They are much, much cheaper than the branded ones."
The Deputy Governor of the Bank of England encouraged Barclays to try to lower interest rates after coming under pressure from senior members of the last Labour government, documents have disclosed. A memo published by Barclays suggested that Paul Tucker gave a hint to Bob Diamond, the bank’s chief executive, in 2008 that the rate it was claiming to be paying to borrow money from other banks could be lowered. His suggestion followed questions from “senior figures within Whitehall” about why Barclays was having to pay so much interest on its borrowings, the memo states. Barclays and other banks have been accused of artificially manipulating the Libor rate, which is used to set the borrowing costs for millions of consumers, businesses and investors, by falsely stating how much they were paying to borrow money. The bank claimed yesterday that one of its most senior executives cut the Libor rate only at the height of the credit crisis after intervention from the Bank of England. The memo, written on Oct 29, 2008, by Mr Diamond and circulated to two other senior bank officials, said: “Mr Tucker reiterated that he had received calls from a number of senior figures within Whitehall to question why Barclays was always toward the top end of the Libor pricing.” Government sources suggested that Baroness Vadera, one of Gordon Brown’s closest colleagues, was responsible for the contact with the Bank of England.
Note: For deeply revealing and reliable major media reports on corruption and criminality in the operations and regulation of the financial sector, click here.
For the past 10 years an unlikely coalition of geologists, oil drillers, bankers, military strategists and environmentalists has been warning that peak oil – the decline of global supplies – is just around the corner. We had some strong reasons for doing so: production had slowed, the price had risen sharply, depletion was widespread and appeared to be escalating. The first of the great resource crunches seemed about to strike. Some of us made vague predictions, others were more specific. In all cases we were wrong. Peak oil hasn't happened, and it's unlikely to happen for a very long time. ["Oil - The Next Revolution"] by the oil executive Leonardo Maugeri, published by Harvard University, provides compelling evidence that a new oil boom has begun. The constraints on oil supply over the past 10 years appear to have had more to do with money than geology. The low prices before 2003 had discouraged investors from developing difficult fields. The high prices of the past few years have changed that. Maugeri's analysis of projects in 23 countries suggests that global oil supplies are likely to rise by a net 17m barrels per day (to 110m) by 2020. This, he says, is "the largest potential addition to the world's oil supply capacity since the 1980s". The investments required to make this boom happen depend on a long-term price of $70 a barrel – the current cost of Brent crude is $95. Money is now flooding into new oil: a trillion dollars has been spent in the past two years; a record $600bn is lined up for 2012.
Some might call Neil Grimmer and his wife Tana Johnson picky eaters. For more than a decade, Grimmer, a triathlete, didn't eat meat or dairy while Johnson followed a macrobiotic diet, made up mostly of whole grains and vegetables. So when the couple became parents about nine years ago, they sought to feed their children healthy foods. Trouble was, they couldn't find snacks that were healthy, yet easy to pack and appealing to their kids. That's how the Nest Collective, now known as Plum Organics, was born. [The] startup makes baby food and toddler and kids' snacks such as pouches of pureed blueberry oats and quinoa for babies and squeezable oatmeal for older children. Plum Organics is also addressing increasing concerns about childhood obesity and parents looking for alternative, easy-to-pack snacks. In what turned out to be a momentous decision, the company moved away from the traditional plastic or glass jar and began offering baby food in the form of the squeezable pouch already popular with older children. The company took off from there. The benefit of the pouch is that it allows the food to be cooked more gently so that the flavors are richer, said Grimmer. The packaging also takes up less space in landfills and is easier to transport.
Wall Street has already watered down or delayed most of Dodd-Frank [financial reform act]. Now it wants to create a giant loophole, exempting its foreign branches from the law. Yet the overseas branches of Wall Street banks are where the banks have done some of their wilder betting. Four years ago, bad bets by American International Group's London office nearly unraveled the U.S. financial system. When the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the main regulator of derivatives (bets on bets), recently proposed extending Dodd-Frank to the foreign branches of Wall Street banks, the banks screamed. "If JPMorgan overseas operates under different rules than our foreign competitors," warned Jamie Dimon, chairman and CEO of JPMorgan, Wall Street will lose financial business to the banks of nations with fewer regulations, allowing "Deutsche Bank to make the better deal." This is the same Jamie Dimon who chose London as the place to make highly risky derivatives trades that have lost the firm upward of $2 billion so far - and could leave American taxpayers holding the bag if JPMorgan's exposure to tottering European banks gets much worse. JPMorgan's risky betting in London is added proof that unless the overseas operations of Wall Street banks are covered by U.S. regulations, giant banks will hide irresponsible bets overseas. Squadrons of Wall Street lawyers and lobbyists have been pressing all the agencies charged with implementing Dodd-Frank to go easy on the Street.
Note: The author of this article, Robert Reich, is former U.S. secretary of labor, professor of public policy at UC Berkeley and the author of Aftershock: The Next Economy and America's Future. He blogs at www.robertreich.org.
Five of the biggest banks in the United States are putting finishing touches on plans for going out of business as part of government-mandated contingency planning that could push them to untangle their complex operations. The plans, known as living wills, are due to regulators no later than July 1 under provisions of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law designed to end too-big-to-fail bailouts by the government. The living wills could be as long as 4,000 pages. Since the law allows regulators to go so far as to order a bank to divest subsidiaries if it cannot plan an orderly resolution in bankruptcy, the deadline is pushing even healthy institutions to start a multi-year process to untangle their complex global operations, according to industry consultants. JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are among those submitting the first liquidation scenarios to regulators at the Federal Reserve and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. The liquidation plans are coming amid renewed questions about the safety of big banks following JPMorgan's stunning announcement last month that a trading debacle has cost it more than $2 billion.
Note: For other key major media articles showing blatant financial corruption, click here. For more vitally important information on banking manipulations, explore the excellent, reliable information in our Banking Corruption Information Center available here.
President Barack Obama's campaign has recruited a legion of lawyers to be on standby for this year's election as legal disputes surrounding the voting process escalate. Thousands of attorneys and support staffers have agreed to aid in the effort, providing a mass of legal support that appears to be unrivaled by Republicans or precedent. Obama's campaign says it is particularly concerned about the implementation of new voter ID laws across the country, the possibility of anti-fraud activists challenging legitimate voters and the handling of voter registrations in the most competitive states. Republicans are building their own legal teams for the election. They say they're focused on preventing fraud -- making sure people don't vote unless they're eligible -- rather than turning away qualified voters. Since the disputed 2000 presidential election, both parties have increasingly concentrated on building legal teams -- including high-priced lawyers who are well-known in political circles -- for the Election Day run-up. The Bush-Gore election demonstrated to both sides the importance of every vote and the fact that the rules for voting and counting might actually determine the outcome. The Florida count in 2000 was decided by just 537 votes and ultimately landed in the Supreme Court.
Note: For key reports from major media sources on serious dysfunctions in the US elections process, click here.
Revelations that top officials are targeting people to be assassinated abroad, including American citizens, are only the most recent, disturbing proof of how far our nation’s violation of human rights has extended. This development began after [9/11] and has been sanctioned and escalated by bipartisan executive and legislative actions. While the country has made mistakes in the past, the widespread abuse of human rights over the last decade has been a dramatic change from the past. With leadership from the United States, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted in 1948 as “the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.” This was a bold and clear commitment that power would no longer serve as a cover to oppress or injure people, and it established equal rights of all people to life, liberty, security of person, equal protection of the law and freedom from torture, arbitrary detention or forced exile. It is disturbing that, instead of strengthening these principles, our government’s counterterrorism policies are now clearly violating at least 10 of the declaration’s 30 articles, including the prohibition against “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” Recent legislation has made legal the president’s right to detain a person indefinitely on suspicion of affiliation with terrorist organizations or “associated forces,” a broad, vague power that can be abused without meaningful oversight from the courts or Congress. This law violates the right to freedom of expression and to be presumed innocent until proved guilty, two other rights enshrined in the declaration.
Note: For revealing reports from major media sources on war crimes committed by US forces in the "global war on terror," click here.
In 1992, world leaders signed up to something called "sustainability". Few of them were clear about what it meant. Perhaps as a result, it did not take long for this concept to mutate into something subtly different: "sustainable development". Then it made a short jump to another term: "sustainable growth". And now, in the 2012 Rio+20 text that world leaders are about to adopt, it has subtly mutated once more: into "sustained growth". This term crops up 16 times in the document, where it is used interchangeably with sustainability and sustainable development. But if sustainability means anything, it is surely the opposite of sustained growth. Sustained growth on a finite planet is the essence of unsustainability. As a result, the draft document, which seems set to become the final document, takes us precisely nowhere: 190 governments have spent 20 years bracing themselves to "acknowledge", "recognise" and express "deep concern" about the world's environmental crises, but not to do anything about them. The draft and probably final declaration is 283 paragraphs of fluff. It suggests that the 190 governments due to approve it have, in effect, given up on multilateralism, given up on the world and given up on us. So what do we do now?
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) may soon be an acronym as recognizable as NAFTA — but this free trade venture could have much more economic strength and impact than its North American predecessor. The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a free trade deal aimed at further expanding the flow of goods, services and capital across borders. Its four founding members — New Zealand, Chile, Singapore and Brunei – soon caught the attention of five other nations: the United States, Australia, Peru, Vietnam and Malaysia, who joined in 2008. The nine partners currently have a combined GDP of more than $17 trillion. Canada and Mexico are now being considered for membership, subject to the approval of the nine countries already involved. Add to this the possibility that Japan could join the TPP, despite mounting protests in that country, and the economic and political traction of the group increases. In fact, the TPP could become the world's largest free-trade zone. "It's really a trade agreement for the one per cent and their corporate interests," said Maude Barlow, the National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians, which opposed and continues to criticize NAFTA. "This is not going to be a good deal for Canadians."
Note: A later Toronto Star article reveals that the agreements of the TPP are secret.
When Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase Bank, appeared before the Senate Banking Committee on June 13, he was wearing cufflinks bearing the presidential seal. “Was Dimon trying to send any particular message by wearing the presidential cufflinks?” asked CNBC editor John Carney. “Was he . . . subtly hinting that he’s really the guy in charge?” The groveling of the Senators was so obvious that Jon Stewart did a spoof news clip on it. JPMorgan Chase is the biggest campaign donor to many of the members of the Banking Committee. Financial analysts Jim Willie and Rob Kirby think it may be something far larger, deeper, and more ominous. They contend that the $3 billion-plus losses in London hedging transactions that were the subject of the hearing can be traced, not to European sovereign debt (as alleged), but to the record-low interest rates maintained on U.S. government bonds. The national debt is growing at $1.5 trillion per year. Ultra-low interest rates must be maintained to prevent the debt from overwhelming the government budget. Near-zero rates also need to be maintained because even a moderate rise would cause multi-trillion dollar derivative losses for the banks, and would remove the banks’ chief income stream, the arbitrage afforded by borrowing at 0% and investing at higher rates. The low rates are maintained by interest rate swaps, called by Willie a “derivative tool which controls the bond market in a devious artificial manner.”
Note: We don't usually use alternet.org as a reliable source, but because the major media failed to ask the hard, very important questions posed in this article, we've included it here. For powerful reports on financial corruption, click here.
A U.N. investigator has called on the Obama administration to justify its policy of assassinating rather than capturing al Qaeda or Taliban suspects, increasingly with the use of unmanned drone aircraft that also take civilian lives. Christof Heyns, U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, urged Washington to clarify the basis under international law of the policy, in a report issued overnight to the United Nations Human Rights Council. The U.S. military has conducted drone attacks in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen, in addition to conventional raids and air strikes, according to Heyns, a South African jurist serving in the independent post. Citing figures from the Pakistan Human Rights Commission, he said U.S. drone strikes killed at least 957 people in Pakistan in 2010 alone. Thousands have been killed in 300 drone strikes there since 2004, 20 percent of whom are believed to be civilians." Although figures vary widely with regard to drone attack estimates, all studies concur on one important point: there has been a dramatic increase in their use over the past three years," Heyns said. Human rights law requires that every effort be made to arrest a suspect, in line with the "principles of necessity and proportionality on the use of force", the investigator said.
Note: For lots more from reliable sources on the warcrimes committed by the US military, click here.
Native American tribes are celebrating a major victory in their battle for equal treatment after the US supreme court ruled that the government could no longer short-change them over contracts for public services. The suit claimed that the government had over many years withheld millions of dollars owed to the tribes by imposing a cap on the contracts it had taken out with them. Native American leaders hailed the ruling as an important victory. Rodger Martinez, president of the Ramah Navajo Chapter in New Mexico that was a plaintiff in the case, said they had been saddened that they had to go all the way to the supreme court to find redress. "But we are happy that they sided with us. This gets us back to the principle that the government must pay us what we are entitled to," he said. The dispute over money relates to services provided by the tribes themselves under the Indian Self-Determination Act of 1975. Under that law, the tribes would sub-contract from the federal government public services such as police, schools, fire prevention, hospitals, and infrastructure works, as well as environmental works and subsidies to farmers. Under the arrangement, the federal government would pay the tribes for the services provided, just as it would any other contractor. But from 1994 the government changed the way it paid for the services, no longer paying for each contract in full but handing the tribes a collective lump sum onto which it imposed a ceiling – thereby withholding from them a portion of the moneys owed. The supreme court ruling found this to be unacceptable.
Note: For key reports on government corruption from major media sources, click here.
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi declared Saturday that the Nobel Peace Prize she won while under house arrest 21 years ago helped to shatter her sense of isolation and ensured that the world would demand democracy in her military-controlled homeland. Suu Kyi received two standing ovations inside Oslo’s city hall as she gave her long-delayed acceptance speech to the Norwegian Nobel Committee. The 66-year-old champion of political freedom praised the power of her 1991 Nobel honor both for saving her from the depths of personal despair and shining an enduring spotlight on injustices in distant Myanmar. “Often during my days of house arrest, it felt as though I were no longer a part of the real world,” she said. “What the Nobel Peace Prize did was to draw me once again into the world of other human beings, outside the isolated area in which I lived, to restore a sense of reality to me. ... And what was more important, the Nobel Prize had drawn the attention of the world to the struggle for democracy and human rights in Burma." Suu Kyi, who since winning freedom in 2010 has led her National League for Democracy party into opposition in Myanmar’s parliament, offered cautious support for the first tentative steps toward democratic reform in her country. But she said progress depended on continued foreign pressure on the army-backed government.
Note: It is inspiring to see the positive effect that the Nobel Peace Prize may have on the state of the world. Unfortunately it does not always do so, as is evident with the prizes given to strategists of global war such as Henry Kissinger.
There's been a lot of speculation about the cufflinks [JPMorgan Chase CEO] Jamie Dimon wore during [his Congressional] testimony. They caught the eye of folks because they seemed to bear some sort of official government stamp. As it turns out, they were emblazoned with the seal of the President of the United States. CNN's Lizzie O'Leary first confirmed the story last night over Twitter. They were, in fact, a gift from a resident of the White House. But people close to the JPMorgan Chase CEO won't say which president gave them to him. Dimon's got a bunch of official U.S. government cufflinks. Search for images of him and you'll see FBI cufflinks, for example. Was Dimon trying to send any particular message by wearing the presidential cufflinks? Was he, for instance, trying to remind the Democrats he supported Obama? Or subtly hinting that he's really the guy in charge?
Note: For powerful reports on financial corruption, click here.
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