Scare Tactics, Bribes And Assassinations All Failed Onto Plan “Y” – Episode 131

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In this report we will discuss the latest news on the economic collapse. US controlled Saudi Arabia tried to bribe Russia with oil, gas and cash to remove their protection of Syria. Putin laughed at the bribe. CIA deputy director said the biggest threat would be the removal Assad and al-Qaeda was in control of the government. al-Qaeda tried an assassination of Assad, it didn’t work. The terror threat is still in place and the warnings are still in place. There is an eerie feel in the air that something is about to happen.

Please check the Sentinel Alerts for the latest news on the economic collapse. The Sentinel Alerts are updated throughout the day. If you haven’t already, go to “The People” and join the community of people who are helping each through the economic collapse.

Current News


Greek Youth Unemployment Soars To Record 65%

As the unemployment rate continues to rise it makes more difficult each time for the government to pay off the debt. Greece will be collapsing soon, it doesn’t matter if they continually receive bailouts, this is not sustainable.

  • RIP Greekovery.
  • What little hope there may have been that bad and/or deteriorating Greek economic data had peaked in the early part of 2013 and the country was set for a long overdue “recovery” was promptly extinguished following today’s latest release of the Greek May labor force survey.
  • The headline news for the broader population was ugly:
  • The number of employed was 3,621,153, a decline of 14,889 from April, and down 171,356 from a year earlier
  • The number of unemployed was a record high 1,381,088, an increase of 43,467 from April, and up 193,668 from a year earlier
  • The unemployment rate was a record high 27.6%, up from 26.9% in April and 23.8% a year earlier
  • But that was the “good” news.
  • The bad news? Greek youth (15-24 year old) unemployment halted its decline over the past few months only to explode higher from 57.5% in April to a whopping 64.9% in May! Needless to say this is a record high, and means that two thirds of all eligible for work youths can not find a job. That this is the most combustible combination for social upheaval if not war, is well known to anyone who has opened even one history book.

Greek Villagers Chase Tax Collectors Out Of Town

Unemployment is at an all time high, people are struggling to survive, the government is laying off more people to take on more debt. People have decisions give the money to the government or use it to survive.

  • Everyone is welcome at the church fete in the small Greek village of Archanes in Iraklio. Everyone, that is, apart from the so-called ‘Financial Crimes Squad’. The team of tax-inspectors entered the village in the light of day to conduct raids on businesses for tax code violations… the people were not happy. As ekathermini notes, the villagers heckled and threatened them with force if they did not leave the village. This is not the first time the government’s enforcers have run afoul of the people; last year, inspectors were held captive by disgruntled locals… We are sure this is just a storm in a teacup and that the recovery is ticking along nicely in Greece – how else does one explain their surging bond and stock prices?
  • A team of inspectors from the Financial Crimes Squad (SDOE), was on Tuesday heckled by locals at a village in Crete and coerced to leave, before a one-month closure order was issued against the owner of a taverna where the team was intimated, local media reported.
  • The SDOE team turned up at the village of Archanes in Iraklio as locals were celebrating their patron saint with a church fete.
  • According to reports, local residents took offense that the tax inspectors chose that day to conduct raids on businesses for tax code violations.
  • Their displeasure became more than apparent among a group of people at a large local taverna, who heckled the tax officers and threatened them with force if they did not leave the village.
  • Last summer SDOE inspectors were prevented from leaving the Saronic island of Hydra by disgruntled locals. Police had to be sent from Athens to ensure their safe passage back to the mainland.
  • Following Tuesday’s incident in Crete, the Finance Ministry issued orders for the taverna at which the intimidation was centered to be shut down for one month and for a complete audit to be conducted of its finances.

Troika Lenders Demand Confiscation Of Homes In “Bastion Of Stability Greece

Youth unemployment around 65%, Greeks are paying the taxing collectors, the government used 75% of the bailout money, the government needs money because there is no revenue being produced to service the debt. The government will eventually go after assets just to keep its head above water.

  • As the Greek Prime Minister, Antonis Samaras, visits the US to promote his nation as a “bastion of stability” in the eastern Mediterranean, things appear to be going from worst to worster in his nation. While 65% youth unemployment is a large and scary enough data point, and Greeks are in open revolt against tax collectors, the uproar over Troika’s current demands to lift a ban prohibiting banks from confiscating homes is growing. From the people to the politicians, anger is brewing over the lifting of the ban but the banks (already mired in 27% default rates) are behind the decision to help recapitalize themselves (and are refusing to restructure loans). However, given that Greece has already used 75% of its bank bailout fund and that repossessing and auctioning homes (potentially based on ‘social criteria’) could cut home prices 12 to 21%… not exactly going to help bank balance sheets; and it would seem Greece will need more caves.
  • Via Greek Reporter,
  • Greece’s international lenders are pressuring the coalition government led by Prime Minister and New Democracy Conservative leader Antonis Samaras again to lift a ban prohibiting banks from confiscating homes worth more than 200,000 euros ($260,000) of Greeks who can’t afford to pay their mortgages because of daunting austerity measures.
  • The idea of lifting the ban, which is set to expire at the end of the year, has riled even some government Members of Parliament who are told how to vote by Samaras and PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos, and has set off ire among other parties
  • With banks suffering a more than 27 percent default rate on loans because austerity measures have left many Greeks unable to pay, they are also demanding they be allowed to repossess homes to help them recapitalize their coffers
  • The government is considering a partial lift on the ban, said Deputy Minister of Growth Thanasis Skordas, who suggested that allowing the auctioning of primary residences based on social criteria, in order to protect vulnerable groups, would be allowed
  • It was estimated that a revision on the bank would result in my residences with a high objective value to be take by bank but result in a drop in value between 12% and 21%
  • Consumer union EKPOIZO also demanded that the ban be extended for a further three years and requested the development of a network to deal with bad loans
  • The government has not acted on a bill it promised to pay giving debt relief to households who could prove they could not afford to pay loans, credit cards and mortgages because of loss of income and tax burden demanded by the state.

Employers Show “Strong Distaste” For The 3 Million Long-Term Unemployed

This is very different from what the BLS is showing, they are showing that unemployment is 7.4%.  But they are only showing everyone a number, most of the jobs are temp jobs and they don’t show the number who are no longer looking for work.  The Government changed the calculation so it doesn’t have to show this.

  • There are still more than 3 million Americans who have been unemployed for more than 52 weeks and, as WSJ reports, economists (via recent studies) worry they will never work again. Of course, with benefits at such heights (and work punished), it is not surprising but on the demand side, for the long-term unemployed, interview “callback rates decrease dramatically at 9 months of unemployment.” Worst still, for those applying for medium-to-low skilled jobs (so the majority), being long-term unemployed reduced interview requests by 20% – the equivalent of shaving four years of work experience off their resumes. Critically, one study found employers showed “a strong distaste for applicants with long spells of non-employment.”
  • Sad…

  • Via WSJ,
  • Do the long-term unemployed face a stigma that keeps them from finding jobs? A new experiment suggests the answer is “yes”
  • More than three million Americans have been out of work for more than a year, a figure that leaves out millions of others who have given up looking for work because they can’t find jobs. Economists worry many of them will never work again.
  • In a forthcoming paper in the American Economic Review, the researchers find that short-term spells of unemployment (those of six months or less) had no effect on job-seekers’ prospects…. But for the long-term unemployed, it was a different story: “The callback rate decreases dramatically at nine months of unemployment,” the researchers write. For those applying for medium or low-skill jobs (those not requiring a college degree), being long-term unemployed reduced interview requests by 20%, the equivalent of shaving four years of work experience off their resumes.
  • The good news for the long-term unemployed: If they can find work, the stigma of their joblessness should wash away fairly quickly.
  • Northeastern University graduate student Rand Ghayad conducted a similar experiment in the U.S. last year. His research, which hasn’t yet been published, found that employers showed “a strong distaste for applicants with long spells of non-employment” — even when they had better experience than applicants who had been unemployed for less time.

2013 American Eagle Silver Bullion sales continue to shatter records

When the price of gold and silver are on sale everyone buys. We have to remember precious metals are an insurance policy against a currency that collapses. More people are waking up to this and taking out their insurance policy.

  • Sales of the U.S. Mint’s American Eagle Silver Bullion coins experienced their best July ever with a whopping 93.4% increase over July 2012 sales, scoring 4,406,500 one-ounce coins sold this July compared to 2,278,000 silver American Eagle one-ounce coins sold in July 2012.
  • For the first seven months of the year, American Eagle Silver bullion coins sales grew at the fastest pace ever as 2013 appears to be well on its way to setting a new annual record for the coins even though a system of coin rationing is still in place.
  • During the January through July period of this year, total American Silver Eagle sales hit 29,450,000 ounces, a threshold not accomplished until November 5th of last year. The current annual sales record is 39,868,500 American Silver Eagle Bullion coins sold in 2011 when the 29.45 million silver ounce mark was not achieved until September 2011.
  • Meanwhile, American Eagle Gold Bullion coin sales were reported at 50,500 ounces sold in July of this year, up nearly 66% from 30,500 ounces sold during July 2012. Year-to-date sales from January to July totaled 679,500 gold ounces, ranking sixth overall in sales for the first seven months of the year since the coins debuted in 1986.
  • Sales of American Buffalo gold coins during the first seven months of 2013 are up 362% from the same period of last year, setting a new record at a total of 180,000 ounces. This compares to a total of 132,000 ounces of sales recorded for the year in 2012.
  • The five-ounce American the Beautiful Silver Bullion coin sales are at a seven month total of 656,000 silver ounces as of July, compared to 127,500 ounces last year during the same period. The seven-month America the Beautiful sales so far this year have already exceeded last year’s entire total of 590,500 silver ounces.

Retailers see slow start to back-to-school season

When people are not working or underemployed they are very cautious with their money. We have been seeing stores close across the country, retailers scaling back, but when you see the busy times in retail reporting sluggish sales times must be rough for people

  • Retailers are reporting a slow start to the critical back-to-school shopping season in July. Shoppers focused on discounted summer merchandise but held off on picking up new fall clothing in an uncertain economy.
  • Revenue at stores open at least a year — an industry measure of a retailer’s health— rose 3.8 percent in July, the slowest pace since March, according to a preliminary tally of 10 retailers by the International Council of Shopping Centers. The figure was below a 5.5 percent increase in June.
  • Costco Wholesale Corp. was among the retailers posting disappointing figures.
  • Only a sliver of retail chains now report monthly sales figures. But Thursday’s figures add to other evidence that shoppers are being cautious about their back-to-school purchases.

If Housing Is Booming – Why Do We Need Another Fix

If housing was truly in a recovery and back on its feet the government would not have to intervene and it would not need to setup program after program to get people into the housing market. An open free housing market would grow on its own

  • President Obama recently stopped in Phoenix to deliver his latest diatribe on how he is going to fix the economy. Yes, that is correct, another round of “campaign speeches” that, as has been the hallmark of this Administration to date, have generally wound up mired in an abyss of a broken congressional system. What really struck me, however, was his comprehensive plan designed to further boost the housing market including:
  • Helping responsible families save $3,000 a year by refinancing while mortgage rates are still low.
  • Take executive action to cut red tape so responsible families can get a mortgage.
  • Fix our broken immigration system to increase home values [WTF!]
  • Rebuild communities hit hardest by foreclosure.
  • Create and preserve affordable rental housing by passing a bipartisan Senate proposal.
  • Put private capital at the center of the housing finance system
  • End Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s failed business model so taxpayers are never again on the hook for bad loans and bailouts
  • Ensure widespread access to safe, responsible financing like the 30-year fixed rate mortgage
  • Support affordability and access for renters and homeownership for first-time buyers, in part by continuing the historic affordability role of Federal Housing Administration (FHA)
  • Ensure all prospective homeowners receive a single, simple three-page mortgage disclosure form
  • Increase incentives for lenders to deliver high quality loans and products.
  • Level the playing field for financial institutions of all sizes so borrowers can work with the lender right for them.
  • Excuse me? Another plan for the housing market. The housing market has been inundated with programs including HAMP, HARP, tax credits for first time home buyers,”fraud-closure” forgiveness, trillions of dollars injected to artificially suppress interest rates, bailouts of banks, etc. which have resulted in a surge in home prices. The Federal Reserve, the White House, the media and every housing and real estate related organization have been crowing over the resounding housing recovery over the last couple of years. If this is the case then why do we need another housing support program?
  • The reason is because, as I have been writing about over the last couple of years, the housing recovery has been a facade of speculative investors flooding into the housing market. I specifically discussed this issue recently in “Housing – Is It Really Recovering?”:
  • “While the Federal Reserve and the current Administration have tried a litany of programs to jump start the housing market nothing has worked as well as the “REO to Rent” program. With Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac, and the banks loaded with delinquent and vacant properties, the idea was to sell huge blocks of properties to institutional investors to be put out as rentals. This has worked very well.
  • The chart below shows the number of homes that are renter occupied versus the seasonally adjusted home ownership rate.


Now those part-time workers will be added up and counted as full time if they meet the number of hours. If you have 20 part-time employees working 15 hours per week. The 20 part-time employees are counted as 10 full-time equivalent employees.

  • Small businesses hoping to avoid the high costs of ObamaCare by switching to part-time employees got some unwelcome news last Thursday, as Paul Bedard at the Washington Examiner reported that the Small Business Administration launched a website to explain to employers the federal government will add up the number of part-time staff employed to determine if enough hours have been worked to meet the “full-time equivalent” criterion.
  • Though President Obama has unilaterally suspended the employer mandate for one year, many companies that were anticipating it going into effect October 1st are moving ahead with their plans to lessen the impact on their businesses.
  • Some businesses believed that if they could get their number of full-time staff to under 50, they could avoid activating ObamaCare mandates by cutting full-time workers and hiring more part-timers. Confusion about the employer mandate calculation has been widespread.
  • Bedard wrote:
  • Said Matthew Haller of the International Franchise Association, “while its nice the administration has launched a new website, employers have been scrambling since the law was passed two plus years ago for answers to the laws complicated calculations for determining if they are ‘large’ employers and how many ‘full-time equivalent employees’ they have. The uncertainty created by the [health care act] continues to cause franchises and other small businesses to hit the pause button on job creation.”
  • Keeping in mind that, under ObamaCare, a “full-time” work week is only 30 hours, the SBA website provides an example:
  • Company X has 40 full-time employees working 40 hours per week, along with 20 part-time employees working 15 hours per week. The 20 part-time employees are counted as 10 full-time equivalent employees. Company X has 50 full-time employees and is subject to the employer shared responsibility provisions.
  • The rules are a “problem for employers at the margin” of 50 full-time workers, said Edmund F. Haisimaier of the Heritage Foundation. In addition, the mandates include seasonal employees, so even if a business with seasonal workers has the equivalent of 50 full-time workers for only 121 days, ObamaCare requirements are activated for that business.


Wall Street will cut 15% of its jobs over 18 months: Meredith Whitney

  • Are investment bankers and traders facing near-extinction very soon?
  • Yes, according to analyst Meredith Whitney.
  • We are on the precipice of a seismic downsizing on Wall Street, the likes of which have never occurred before,” said Whitney in a recent research note to clients, acquired by the New York Post.
  • Whitney says the financial sector is set to see layoffs of up to 100,000 or as much as 15% of the work force in the next 18 months, as banks contract and muddle through a sluggish economy.
  • Several banks have already announced layoffs in the last several months, including J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.jpm JPM , Bank of America Corp. BAC -0.07%, Citigroup Inc. C and HSBC Holdings Plc HBC . Many of the announcements affect operations globally.
  • J.P. Morgan announced plans in February to cut 17,000 jobs, including about 4,000 this year.
  • Bank of America announced 16,000 layoffs in September.
  • HSBC announced 14,000 layoffs in May.
  • Citigroup announced 11,000 layoffs in December.
  • Critics says it’s not a secret the industry has contracted in the last several years since the financial crisis.
  • “To argue that this is new suggests you have been sleeping for the last five years,” said Richard Bove, an analyst at Rafferty Capital.
  • Whitney made her name through grim but accurate calls about the financial health of banks just prior to the financial crisis, but has since faced a backlash over a call that suggested a spat of municipal defaults were on the horizon. That didn’t happen to the extent she had argued.
  • Bove says the industry already has been working hard to shrink its labor force.
  • “The reduction of personnel at this point is leading to industry profits, because a large portion of those being let go were associated with housing scandal and another large portion is being replaced by technology,” said Bove.
  • A third reason that people are being let go is the financial firms are making decisions to exit certain sectors – trading derivatives for example – as the cost of capital is too high with the new regulations, added Bove.
  • Last year, employment at New York securities firms totaled 169,700 jobs as of December 2012, 1,000 fewer jobs than in December 2011, according to a report fromNew York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. The report estimated that Wall Street lost 28,300 job during the financial crisis, but only added 8,500 so far during the recovery. The New York Post noted that despite multiple rounds of layoffs, financial jobs in the U.S. are down only about 4.3%, or 37,000, from peak levels, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • “Sounds like Whitney is really making a call on the global economy,” said Paul Miller, analyst at FBR. “And can it tank? Yes, it can, but we been waiting for the global tank for five years now. We might have to wait another five. Until then, it’s business as usual.”


Middle East Expert: U.S.-Egypt Alliance ‘On Verge of Collapse’

  • America’s alliance with Egypt, forged over more than four decades, is “standing on the verge of collapse” because of the Obama administration’s inability to understand the revolution that ousted President Mohammed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, says Middle East expert and journalist Youssef Ibrahim.
  • Writing in Thursday’s New York Sun, Irbrahim referred to this week’s Obama-sanctioned trip to Cairo by Republican Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham, as pretty much a disaster that makes things worse between Cairo and Washington.
  • “In a cascade of mutual recriminations over the past three days, [acting] President [Adly] Mansour and his prime minister, Hazem Biblawi, described [the] two senior American senators, sent as emissaries of President Barack Obama, as ‘delusional’ and ‘liars.’
  • During their meetings with the new Egyptian leadership, McCain and Graham said they urged the government to release ousted President Morsi and his supporters and negotiate with the Muslim Brotherhood.
  • “Spokesmen for both the presidency and the prime minister immediately took umbrage, joined by an array of press commentators, who accused the two Americans of ‘manufacturing facts’ and ‘of unwelcome interference in Egypt’s internal affairs,” wrote Ibrahim.
  • “Following a press conference in which Mr. McCain threatened sanctions, the leader of the Egyptian Popular Current Party, Hamdeen Sabahi, who is a co-leader of the ruling National Salvation Front, described Mr. McCain as a ‘senile old man.'”
  • McCain also angered Egyptian leaders by suggesting the removal of Morsi amounted to a coup by referring to it as “a transition of power not by the ballot box.”
  • According to Ibrahim, public sentiment in Egypt echoes that of its acting leadership. He noted, for example, that a new “Rebel Movement” is calling for a public campaign to “Say No to US Aid,” which totals $1.5 billion a year. He also referred to a Reuters report Wednesday in which military sources suggested Egypt might call off joint military maneuvers codenamed Bright Star.
  • The exercises have been led by the U.S. and Egypt, with the participation of Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and at times Turkey, since 1981.
  • “The confrontation emerging between the Obama administration and Egypt represents a startling collapse for a president who. . . made his first presidential demarche a speech at Cairo reaching out to the Muslim world,” said Ibrahim. “Now the confrontation threatens to destroy the foundation of regional, military, intelligence and anti-terror alliances built over decades.”
  • While the cost to Egypt of losing American trade and investment would be steep, Ibrahim argued that the cost to the U.S., “if the confrontation gets out of hand,” would be larger.
  • “It could plunge America into an era like that which [was] obtained between 1952 and 1970, when Gamal Abden Nasser used Egypt’s clout to fan Arab Nationalism and anti-Americanism across Africa and the Arab world,” he said.
  • Ibrahim warned that there are also implications for Israel, saying, “With the second most powerful army after Israel, Egypt is a major factor in the search for peace.”
  • He summed up Egypt’s view of the situation by pointing to remarks made Wednesday by Amr Moussa, who served as both foreign minister under former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and as secretary general of the League of Arab States.
  • Addressing McCain and Graham via a television interview, Moussa said, “Neither of you are delegated to open the dictionary on our behalf to designate a coup from a revolution. Or course we did choose Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood companions via the ballot box, but that does not exempt them from consequences of criminal behavior.”

US air force chief ends secret week-long visit to Israel

  • The Chief of Staff of the US Air Force, Gen. Mark A. Welsh has ended his week-long trip to Israel which the White House requested to remain confidential.
  • Few details have come out of Welsh’s meetings. The news about his secretive trip was, however, broken by Walla, an Israeli news agency.
  • The visit comes ahead of a planned trip to Israel by the Chairman of the Joints Chief of Staff, Martin Dempsey on Monday.
  • Reports say the main focus of Dempsey’s meetings with Israeli officials will be on Iran, Syria and Egypt.
  • Over the past months, Israel has conducted several aerial attacks on Syria. The regime in Tel Aviv has also threatened time and again to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities claiming that the country is seeking to make an atomic bomb, an allegation Iran has strongly rejected.
  • Lyndon LaRouche, an American political activist, recently warned that the continuation of Israel’s attacks on Syria would drag the US into a broader war which will end in a thermonuclear conflict with Russia.
  • From the beginning of the crisis in Syria, Russia has opposed any foreign military intervention in the conflict and has blocked any Western efforts at the US to adopt harsh measures against the Syrian government.
  • Reuters reported on Wednesday that Saudi Arabia has offered to buy billions of dollars in arms from Russia to persuade the military giant to stop backing the Syrian government. Moscow has reportedly rebuffed the offer

Iran has new rocket site, ballistic missile tests possible

We have seen this before over the last 20 plus years, the propaganda of the missile and the nuclear war head that they are so close to developing.  They used this one back in 2004

2004: Then-Secretary of State Colin Powell tells reporters that Iran had been working on technology to fit a nuclear warhead onto a missile.

  • Iran has constructed a rocket-launching site that could be used for testing ballistic missiles, a report from a military intelligence publication said on Thursday.
  • Satellite imagery analyzed by Jane’s Intelligence Review showed extensive construction over the last three years at a site of what Jane’s says is a launch tower and pad, an area to prepare rockets for launch and an administration and support section.
  • The Islamic Republic has pursued ambitious goals to develop its space program in recent years. In January this year it demonstrated its missile delivery systems by launching a live monkey into space and returning it safely, officials said.
  • Western countries are concerned that long-range ballistic technology used to propel Iranian satellites into orbit could be put to delivering nuclear warheads.
  • Assertions about the site, near the town of Shahrud some 100 km (62 miles) northeast of Tehran, come weeks after Iranian officials said they would inaugurate a new space centre to launch satellites.
  • Jane’s says the Shahrud site is one of three that will ultimately serve Iran’s space program.
  • “Imagery analysis of the Shahrud site suggests it will be a strategic facility used to test ballistic missiles, leaving the other two sites free to handle Iran’s ambitious program of satellite launches,” said Jane’s editor Matthew Clements.
  • Iranian officials were not immediately available for comment.
  • Iran’s efforts to develop and test ballistic missiles and build a space launch capability have contributed to Israeli calls for pre-emptive strikes on Iranian nuclear sites and billions of dollars of U.S. ballistic missile defense spending.

Putin Laughs At Saudi Offer To Betray Syria In Exchange For “Huge” Arms Deal

The US and Israel are running out of options, Putin is not going to take the bribe, the assassination attempt on Assad failed.  The terrorist threat is still in effect, be ready for a false flag.

  • One of the more surprising news to hit the tape yesterday was that Saudi Arabia, exasperated and desperate by Russia’s relentless support of the Syrian regime and refusal to abandon the Syrian army thus facilitating the Qatari plan to pass its natgas pipeline to Europe under Syria, had quietly approached Putin with a proposal for a huge arms deal and a pledge to boost Russian influence in the Arab world if only Putin would abandon Syria’s Assad. It will hardly come as a surprise to anyone that in the aftermath of yesterday’s dilettante mistake by Obama which alienated Putin from the western world (and its subservient states such as Saudi Arabia of course), has just said no. It will certainly come as no surprise because as we explained previously, the biggest loser from Russia abandoning Syria (something we predicted would never happen) would be none other than Russia’s most important company – Gazprom – which would lose its energy grip over Europe as Qatar replaced it as a nat gas vendor. What is shocking in all of this is that Saudi Arabia was so stupid and/or naive to believe that Putin would voluntarily cede geopolitical control over the insolvent Eurozone, where he has more influence according to some than even the ECB, or Bernanke. Especially in the winter.
  • From AFP:
  • On July 31, President Vladimir Putin, a strong backer of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, met Saudi Arabia’s influential intelligence chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan, after which both Moscow and Riyadh kept a lid on the substance of the talks.
  • “Every two years, Bandar bin Sultan meets his Russian counterparts, but this time, he wanted to meet the head of state,” said a European diplomat who shuttles between Beirut and Damascus.
  • “During the meeting at the Kremlin, the Saudi official explained to his interlocutor that Riyadh is ready to help Moscow play a bigger role in the Middle East at a time when the United States is disengaging from the region.”
  • Bandar proposed that Saudi Arabia buy $15 billion (11 billion euros) of weapons from Russia and invest “considerably in the country,” the source said.
  • This is where it gets funny:
  • The Saudi prince also reassured Putin that “whatever regime comes after” Assad, it will be “completely” in the Saudis’ hands and will not sign any agreement allowing any Gulf country to transport its gas across Syria to Europe and compete with Russian gas exports, the diplomat said.
  • Right. Of course, if Saudi is found to have lied about this tiny factoid, it will be none other than the US who would step in and defend its brand new “allies” in the Syrian government.
  • In 2009, Assad refused to sign an agreement with Qatar for an overland pipeline running from the Gulf to Europe via Syria to protect the interests of its Russian ally, which is Europe’s top supplied of natural gas.
  • An Arab diplomat with contacts in Moscow said: “President Putin listened politely to his interlocutor and let him know that his country would not change its strategy.”
  • “Bandar bin Sultan then let the Russians know that the only option left in Syria was military and that they should forget about Geneva because the opposition would not attend.”
  • Russia and the United States have been trying for months to organise an international peace conference between Assad’s regime and the opposition to take place in Geneva, but so far to no avail.
  • Asked about the Putin-Bandar meeting, a Syrian politician said: “As was the case before with Qatar and Lavrov (in talks), Saudi Arabia thinks that politics is a simple matter of buying people or countries. It doesn’t understand that Russia is a major power and that this is not how it draws up policy.”
  • “Syria and Russia have had close ties for over half a century in all fields and it’s not Saudi rials that will change this fact,” he added.
  • The meeting between Bandar and Putin came amid tension between Moscow and Riyadh over the conflict in Syria, as Russia has accused the Saudis of “financing and arming terrorists and extremist groups” in the war which has killed more than 100,000 people since March 2011.
  • While there was no official reaction to the meeting, Russian experts also said Putin had apparently turned down the Saudi offer.
  • According to military expert Alexander Goltz from online opposition newspaper Ejednevny, “such an agreement seems extremely improbable.”
  • Of course it is, because as JPM and Goldman are to the US government, so Gazprom is to Russia.
  • What is most interesting here is that Russia is now actively stretching its wings against not only the US but its chief foreign allies abroad. Which only means that a confrontation with Israel, directly over Iran or otherwise, is only a matter of time.

Assad shown unharmed after Syria rebels report attack

So yesterday the CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell said the prospect of the Syrian government being replaced by al-Qaeda his biggest worry in episode 130 I created a scenario that they might try to assassinate Assad and then use the terrorists threat to go in and remove al-Qaeda. This would bypass congress to have them vote to bring troops into the region to take over Syria. Today there was an attempt on Assad’s life.

  • Syrian rebels said on Thursday they targeted President Bashar al-Assad’s motorcade heading to a Damascus mosque to mark the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, but state television showed him unharmed and the government denied he had been attacked.
  • The Tahrir al-Sham rebel brigade, a unit of the Free Syrian Army, said it fired several artillery shells towards Assad’s convoy in the heart of the capital and that at least some hit their target.
  • If confirmed, the attack would be one of the most direct against Assad in two years of conflict which have pitched mainly Sunni Muslim rebels against the Alawite president.
  • Rebels have targeted Assad’s residences in Damascus and a bombing in the capital last year killed four of his inner circle, but there have been no reports of Assad himself coming under fire.
  • Video footage distributed by the Tahrir al-Sham rebels showed smoke rising from what it said was the Malki district, where Assad and his close aides have homes. Other activists also reported rocket fire into the area.
  • Syria’s government denied the reports. “The news is wholly untrue,” Information Minister Omran Zoabi said.
  • Firas al-Bitar, head of the Tahrir al-Sham brigade, said his fighters had carried out reconnaissance of the route of Assad’s motorcade and fired 120 mm artillery towards the president’s convoy early on Thursday.
  • “The attack rattled the regime, even if Assad was not hit,” he told Reuters from an undisclosed location in the capital. “There were two motorcades, one containing Assad and a decoy. We targeted the correct one.”
  • Bitar’s brigade operates mainly in the Ghouta region on the eastern outskirts of the capital. Another official in Tahrir al-Sham said Assad’s forces fired rockets and artillery “like rain” on the region in response to the reported attack.
  • Following the statement, Syrian state television showed footage of Assad praying alongside ministers and other top officials. It said the footage was from Thursday’s Eid prayers at the Anas bin Malek Mosque in Malki.
  • Assad appeared unharmed and smiled at the worshippers as he entered the mosque.
  • Islam Alloush of the Liwa al-Islam, another rebel brigade, told Reuters earlier on Thursday that rebels fired rockets which struck Assad’s motorcade.
  • “Assad was not hit but the information we have based from sources within the regime is that there were casualties within his entourage,” Allooush said.
  • Other activists also reported rockets were fired into the Malki area, which was sealed off by security forces.


Rep. Amash: Congress Purposely Kept in Dark on Surveillance Efforts

The spying is in complete violation of the 4th Amendment. Congress is kept in the dark because the people who really control everything know a collapse is coming, they know they need to make lists of people who are threats, they know they need to track everyone. Why spy on everyone, investment tips,blackmail, corporate insider information, keeping track of Americans and tagging them to be picked up when the time comes

  • It’s “total nonsense” to say Congress was told about the NSA collecting communications data on Americans, and as a matter of fact, efforts are made to keep members of Congress in the dark, says Rep. Justin Amash, a Republican from Michigan.
  • Members would have a stack of documents hundreds of pages long stacked on a table in front of them and told to read it, Amash said Wednesday on Fox News Channel’s “O’Reilly Factor.”
  • If congressional members don’t know the definitions of terms used by intelligence agencies such as the National Security Agency, they have no way of knowing what the documents mean, he said. One example: There is a difference between the words “collect” and “acquire.”
  • Further, Amash said, committee members have to phrase their questions in just the right way during hearings or they won’t get the answers they seek.
  • Amash said members of the intelligence committees were aware of the full extent of surveillance, “but I think rank and file members, yes, there was an effort to keep information from us.”
  • Amash said that as recently as last week, a classified document was going to be made available, but it was announced just one day before through an “unusual channel.” His staff happened to notice it and he informed other members.
  • Other members of Congress had missed the announcement. Their knowledge of the meeting came from Amash himself, he said.

Police State

Counter-Terror Experts: Government’s Mass Surveillance Program – And Justifications – Are So Dumb They’re “Crazy Pants”

  • Spying Does Not Keep Us Safe
  • Top security experts say that mass spying doesn’t keep us safe.
  • NSA spying did not prevent a terror attack on Wall Street. While the government initially claimed that mass surveillance on Americans prevented more than 50 terror attacks, the NSA’s deputy director John Inglis walked that position back all the way to saying that – at the most – one (1) plot might have been disrupted by the bulk phone records collection alone.
  • And no, it didn’t lead to last week’s tip about a new terror threat. AP reports:
  • An intelligence official said the controversial NSA programs that gather data on American phone calls or track Internet communications with suspected terrorists played no part in detecting the initial tip.
  • And the New York Times writes:
  • Some analysts and Congressional officials suggested Friday that emphasizing a terrorist threat now was a good way to divert attention from the uproar over the N.S.A.’s data-collection programs, and that if it showed the intercepts had uncovered a possible plot, even better.
  • (Indeed, the government has resorted to lamer and lamer excuses in a failed attempt to justify mass surveillance).
  • In fact, the argument that the new terror warning shows that NSA spying is necessary is so weak that American counter-terrorism experts have slammed it as “crazy pants”.
  • And Colbert ridiculed the fear-mongering:
  • The Colbert Report
  • Get More: Colbert Report Full Episodes,Video Archive
  • Remember, top counter-terrorism experts say that mass spying actually hurts U.S. counter-terror efforts. And that we can keep everyone safe without violating the Constitution … more cheaply and efficiently than the current system.
  • There’s No Real Congressional or Judicial Oversight
  • There is no real oversight by either Congress or the courts. And see this and this.
  • Indeed, most Congress members have no idea what the NSA is doing.
  • And a Federal judge who was on the secret spying court for 3 years says that it’s a kangaroo court.
  • Revealing Spying Programs Does Not Harm National Security
  • The top counter-terrorism Czar under Clinton and Bush says that revealing NSA spying programs does not harm national security. Many other counter-terrorism experts agree.
  • (TechDirt also points out that it makes no sense that whistleblower revelations about spying hurt our security … while U.S. official revelations that they’re tapping the communications of Al Qaeda doesn’t.)
  • Spying Is Destroying the Economy
  • Mass surveillance by the NSA directly harms internet companies, Silicon Valley, California … and the entire U.S. economy. And see this.
  • Mass spying creates an easy mark for hackers. And IT and security professionals are quite concerned about government spying
  • (A handful of fatcats make a lot of money off of mass spying; but the government isn’t using the spying program to stop the worst types of lawlessness.)
  • The American People Hate Spying
  • Polls show that the public doesn’t believe the NSA … and thinks that the government has gone way too far in the name of terrorism.
  • While leaker Edward Snowden is treated as a traitor by the fatcats and elites, he is considered a hero by the American public. (Remember, in the last 10 years, whistleblowers have had no “legal” way to get the information out).
  • What’s It Good For?
  • Even President Obama admits that the terrorism threat is drastically overblown. And yet the American government is doing everything possible to spy on us and to destroy anonymity..
  • A Congressman noted that – even if a mass surveillance program is started for good purposes – it will inevitably turn into a witch hunt. Surveillance can be used to frame you if someone in government happens to take a dislike to you. Government spying has always focused on crushing dissent … not on keeping us safe. Indeed, every single American is vulnerable to being labeled a terrorist by the government … and so spying is aimed at everyone.
  • An NSA whistleblower says that the NSA is spying on – and blackmailing – top government officials and military officers (potentially including former presidents; and see this). Indeed, high-level US government officials have warned for 40 years that mass surveillance would lead to tyranny in America.
  • Spying started before 9/11 … and may have stemmed from an emergency program which has nothing to do with our current situation.
  • Oh, And Mass Spying Is Illegal
  • In addition to all of the above-described problems with spying, experts say that the spying program is illegal. Indeed, they point out that it’s exactly the kind of thing which King George imposed on the American colonists … which led to the Revolutionary War.
  • A former U.S. president says that the spying program is so bad that it shows that we no longer have a functioning democracy.
  • And top constitutional experts say that Obama and Bush are worse than Nixon … and the Stasi East Germans.

Cyber Attacks

Cyber attacks: drilling down into the financial system’s newest threat

  • Cyber attacks represent one of the newest threats to financial stability and are rising up the agenda for exchanges and other market infrastructure providers. But what exactly is the industry grappling with?
  • A white paper from the Depository Trust and Clearing Corporation, one of the world’s largest post-trade services operators, identified cyber attacks as one of the most substantial threats to financial stability and one that is unlikely to dissipate substantially in the near term.
  • The fear is that, in a financial system and trading environment that has become increasing automated and driven by technology, cyber attacks could have a huge financial and reputational impact, and severely damage market integrity.
  • A recent survey from the International Organization of Securities Commissions and the World Federation of Exchanges noted that 53% of surveyed WFE members had faced some kind of cyber attack in the last year, while only 59% thought they had sufficient disaster recovery protocols in place to manage coordinated, large-scale cyber attack.
  • Mark Clancy, managing director, technology risk management, DTCC, told Financial News: “If you look attacks on the financial sector historically, they are usually motivated by fraud. But what we have seen particularly in the last year, are mainly motivations to disrupt or destroy infrastructure. We are concerned about where these events take us in the future. We are calling for industry-wide action on this issue.”
  • Based on the white paper, Financial News looks at the two most common types of cyber attack:
  • • Distributed denial of service attacks
  • DDoS attacks against financial institutions have increased “dramatically” over the past year, according to the DTCC paper. In May, Prolexic, a US-based provider of DDoS protection services, said it prevented the biggest ever attack on an unnamed exchange.
  • A DDoS attack involves flooding bandwidth and network connectivity between a financial institution and the internet by inundating a website with a huge volume of requests. The nature of such attacks has evolved from being initiated by personal computers to being launched by multiple servers that have significantly more capacity and bandwidth.
  • This type of attack could cause disruption to markets by preventing core functions, like the completion of business transactions, from taking place and may be used by hacktivists or nations intent on causing disorderly markets.
  • The DTCC paper said: “[DDoS] attacks have been unrelenting and are getting more sophisticated by the day. Financial institutions are spending more and more of their resources in attempts to ward off these attacks.”
  • • Advanced persistent threats
  • Compared to DDoS attacks, which are designed to disrupt internet-based communications, APTs have the aim of infiltrating core technology systems in order to get hold of sensitive data. Such breaches can be hard to identify and could originate from a variety of sources that include e-mail attachments or compromised websites.
  • According to the DTCC paper, attackers commonly use social networking tools to investigate and identify key employees at a firm, before compromising their machines and launching a firm-wide attack.
  • For financial firms, APTs can cause severe market disruption by deleting, modifying or corrupting books and records, or publicly disclosing sensitive or restricted data.
  • So, what is being done to mitigate the threat of cyber attacks?
  • In February, US president Barack Obama paved the way for the development of a cyber-security framework that would aim to protect critical infrastructure. This would cover other sectors in addition to finance. The US House and Senate are currently working on new legislation to this effect.
  • In the same month, the European Commission published a proposal for a new directive to cover network and information security, which is scheduled to come into force during 2016 and will cover issues including cyber resilience, improving cyber defence, developing resources to bolster cyber security and establishing a coherent international cyber-space policy.
  • The latter, says Clancy, is critical: “Defence against cyber-security should be a team sport. The goal should be to promote defence by sharing information against attacks that allows market infrastructures to be better prepared in preventing attacks. The goal should be to decrease the cost of defending attacks, while increasing the cost of launching them.”


Other News

Obama thinks Americans don’t need to know

  • When former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden leaked the existence of a massive spying program siphoning up Americans’ personal phone records earlier this year, President Obama declared: “I welcome this debate and I think it’s healthy for our democracy.”
  • Shortly thereafter, his administration revoked Snowden’s passport and hit him with Espionage Act charges (filed under seal, naturally).
  • That’s the thing about the self-styled “most transparent administration in history”: Often you can’t find out what they’re up to until somebody breaks the law to let you know.
  • One suspects Obama “welcomes this debate” about as enthusiastically as Anthony Weiner greets the debate over his post-apology “sexting.” But this administration has given us plenty of reasons to debate the health of our democracy.
  • After all, Team Obama feels entitled to keep the public in the dark about the most fundamental decisions a self-governing people can make, such as what the law is and whether and with whom we go to war.
  • Let’s review:
  • The administration claims the right to target Americans suspected of terrorism for death by drone-strike, but it’s resisted revealing the legal memoranda explaining under what circumstances and by what authority.
  • In 2011, the Obama Justice Department responded to a Freedom of Information Act request with “the very fact of the existence or nonexistence of such documents is itself classified.”
  • The current debate over the NSA’s call-records dragnet also involves “secret law” — specifically, a classified interpretation of the PATRIOT Act broad enough to make every American’s call data (and perhaps other records) “relevant” to terrorism investigations.
  • And for several years now, the Obama administration has been building secret drone bases throughout Africa and the Arabian Peninsula in order to wage war against al Qaeda and its “associated forces.” Who are those “associated forces”? Sorry, that’s classified too.
  • In May, Senate Armed Services Committee chairman Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., asked the Defense Department for a list. They agreed to provide one — but only if Levin kept it secret. Letting us know who we’re at war with could cause “serious damage to national security,” a Pentagon spokesman explained.
  • It might be useful for the public to learn how far War on Terrorism mission creep extends so their representatives can debate whether we need perpetual drone war against increasingly marginal groups.
  • Tough, says DoD: “Because elements that might be considered ‘associated forces’ can build credibility by being listed as such by the United States, we have classified the list.”
  • Two weeks ago, the House and Senate intelligence committees quietly approved shifting CIA funds to the administration’s covert military aid program for Syrian rebels.
  • Seventy percent of Americans want to stay out of the Syrian bloodbath, according to Pew’s latest poll, but Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry shored up wobbly legislators by stressing “the need for U.S. ‘skin in the game.'”
  • Conveniently, they didn’t have to convince too many: “Obama opted to approve the program as a CIA covert action,” the Washington Post explained, in order to avoid “the need for wider congressional approval.”
  • Secrecy can be pretty convenient for legislators, too. When asked how she voted on Syria, committee chairman Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., replied, “it’s classified.”
  • The day after his first inauguration, Obama proclaimed “a new era of openness in our country.” Yet, in office, he’s driven state secrecy to new levels of absurdity.
  • You may think that Americans have a right to know who we’re at war with, when the government thinks it can kill them, and whether the executive branch considers the personal data of all Americans “relevant” to terrorism investigations – but this administration begs to differ. As far as it’s concerned, you can’t handle the truth.