Are You Being Watched?

Filed in BP, deflation, o, silver by on December 17, 2010 0 Comments

Do you remember the good old days the when it used to be illegal for governments to spy on their citizens? I don’t either… but I’m told that it used to be illegal. Oh, how times have changed. The British government went out of control years ago. One report from the BBC in 2009 showed that an average of 1,500 petitions are submitted — every day — to conduct surveillance on U.K. citizens. In the latest (publicized) perversion of government power, federal agents are now ordering real-time tracking of credit card transactions, travel information — pretty much anything right down to what brand of peanut butter you buy, and all without judicial or citizen oversight Known as “hotwatch orders,” government agents are able to write their own administrative subpoenas to surveil U.S. citizens; they request the records of phone companies, Internet service providers, video rentals, and even frequent flyer/customer loyalty programs at airlines and grocery stores. Without court oversight, the subpoenas do not even need to be part of an ongoing investigation or suspicion of criminal wrongdoing; U.S. federal agents can simply decide that a particular individual should be tracked, and then compel private companies to provide a real-time feed of his/her activities. Frequently, the administrative subpoenas are accompanied by gag orders that prevent the company from notifying its customer that they have been served with a subpoena. More than likely, the customer will never know that his/her records are being instantaneously relayed to a federal agent. The thing is, these hotwatch orders are not expressly authorized under U.S. law; federal agents are capitalizing on loose language in existing laws that allow them to write administrative subpoenas in certain instances… and they’re taking that limited authority to extremes. In 2009, House bill HR 1800 (National Security Letters Reform Act of 2009) was submitted, which would tighten the language, provide clear guidelines for federal agencies’ authority, and provide an oversight mechanism. The bill quickly lost momentum and has been in subcommittee purgatory for 18 months. Just like the TSA’s egregious violations of passenger privacy, politicians have no incentive to keep their federal agents in check. All in all, this is yet another brick in the wall that shows how quickly the U.S. is descending into a police state. Perhaps it’s only a matter of time before the redux of the “Un-American Activities Committee.” Perhaps the final nail in the coffin is that in addition to their far-reaching, unchecked power for surveilling their citizens, U.S. federal agents also have nearly unlimited powers to confiscate any asset in the country that they suspect may be involved in criminal wrongdoing . To be clear, ‘criminal wrongdoing’ covers a lot of ground… most people think such seizures are limited to customs violations, drug trafficking, and the like. Not true. Government agencies as irrelevant as the Federal Trade Commission can ruin your life if they even suspect you of violating any number of obscure laws relating to email spam, Internet downloads, misuse of pay-per-view cable TV, etc. It’s the real-life equivalent of that old, trite joke about the guy who goes to jail for ripping off the “DO NOT REMOVE” tags from underneath his mattress. Law enforcement officials often…

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Introduction to the Naked Truth About Drugs

Filed in BP, deflation, o, sov, sovere, Spot Gold, target by on December 15, 2010 0 Comments

For nearly one hundred years our government has been wrong about drugs, about the people who use them and the risks they pose to society. Much of what they report is blatant misinformation, if not outright lies, despite a veneer of good intentions. It is also my contention millions of Americans agree with me. And it is not just the millions doing drugs responsibly, either. It is the millions more who’ve come to see society’s approach to the drug crisis generate more harm than good. They cut across all age, income and race demographics. Over the last thirty-plus years I’ve made it a point to talk with a number of them. And listen. What I’ve gathered reflects not so much a change of mind as it does a change of heart. We still consider drugs to be harmful, but have come to view our drug laws as worse–and many of us no longer consider legalization a four-letter word. But when Richard Nixon first convened his drug war council, escalating the conflict, hardly anyone outside of what was derisively labeled the “lunatic fringe” favored legalization. How dare we, they scolded, when marijuana tuned innocents into murderers and LSD would sufficiently scramble our DNA to produce three-headed babies. None of that was true of course, but it is what our government wanted citizens to believe. And many did. But that was then. This is now. We have come to see the responsible use theory, the one so close to the alcohol lobby heart, parallel itself in the illicit drug environment: as not every drinker is a drunkard, so too is not every drug user an abuser. The Naked Truth About Drugs … All drugs were legal and cheap and readily available in America prior to 1914, and we were even encouraged to use them. Heroin was available from the Sears mail order catalog, as was morphine, opium and cocaine. But if you couldn’t wait for the mailman, all those same drugs were sold at the corner grocery or drugstore. Our addiction rate then was very low, near identical to now. And we had no drug crime [emphasis mine]. What changed it all, what disrupted our peaceful co-existence, was the…

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Why Don’t Conservatives Oppose the War on Drugs?

Filed in BP, deflation, New Gold, o, Ron Paul, Spot Gold, target, ubs by on December 13, 2010 0 Comments

The war on drugs is a failure. According to the latest National Survey on Drug Use and Health conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: “Drug use in the United States increased in 2009, reversing downward trends since 2002.” There was a spike in the number of Americans admitting to using marijuana, ecstasy, and methamphetamine. Yet no matter how much it costs to wage the federal drug war (more than $41 billion, according to a just released Cato Institute study), conservatives generally support it. I know of no prominent conservative who publicly calls for drug legalization. I know of no Republican candidate in the recent election (outside of Ron Paul) who has ever publicly voiced his support for the decriminalization of drug possession. Republicans in Congress — by an overwhelming majority — have even criminalized the purchase of over-the-counter allergy-relief products like Sudafed because they contain pseudoephedrine. [The sale of Sudafed isn’t illegal, but its quantities are strictly controlled so much so that the experience of purchasing Sudafed may make one feel like a criminal. — Ed.] Negative arguments about how the war on drugs ruins lives, erodes civil liberties, and destroys financial privacy are unpersuasive to most conservatives. None of these things matter to the typical conservative because they, like most Americans of any political persuasion, see using drugs for recreational use as immoral. The hypocrisy of conservatives who support the war on drugs but not the prohibition of alcohol should be readily apparent. But aside from a small minority of conservative religious people that long for the days of Prohibition, conservatives generally don’t support making the drinking of alcohol a crime, even though alcohol is a factor in many accidents, crimes, and premature deaths. So why is getting high on drugs treated differently from getting high on alcohol? The reason conservatives should …

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Endless Targets for Terror

Filed in AMAG, BP, deflation, economy, o, target, ubs, US Dollar by on December 10, 2010 0 Comments

The Number of Potential Terrorist Targets Is Essentially Infinite Terrorists seek to kill people and/or destroy property in pursuit of a political goal. They may exercise some discrimination in selecting targets, but because people and vulnerable property are everywhere in the United States, they have a wealth of potential targets—there are about 5 million commercial buildings alone. Nothing can be done to change this fundamental condition. Indeed, it is difficult to think of something that couldn’t be a target. Even a tree in the woods, after all, could be ignited to start a forest fire. The Number of Terrorists Appears to Be Exceedingly Small and Their Efforts and Competence Rather Limited Since terrorism of a considerably destructive nature can be perpetrated by a small group, or even by a single individual, the fact that terrorists are few does not mean there is no problem. However, many homeland security policies were established when the threat seemed far larger, and those perceptions may still be fueling, and distorting, current policy. In 2002, intelligence reports asserted that the number of trained al Qaeda operatives in the United States was between 2,000 and 5,000. And on February 11, 2003, Robert Mueller, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, assured a Senate committee that al Qaeda had “developed a support infrastructure” in the country and had achieved “the ability and the intent to inflict significant casualties in the US with little warning.” By 2005, however, after years of well funded sleuthing, the FBI and other investigative agencies concluded in a secret report that they had been unable to uncover a single true al Qaeda sleeper cell anywhere in the United States, a finding (or nonfinding) publicly acknowledged two years later. [The FBI has subsequently seemed to resort to cultivating their own terrorists with questionable set ups and stings; — Ed.] The lack of true al Qaeda attacks inside the United States combined with the inability of the FBI to find any potential attackers suggests that the terrorists either are not trying very hard or are far less clever and …

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Freedom and Opportunity Await Those with the Courage to Leave the U.S.

Filed in BP, deflation, economy, EPS, euro, Gold, o, silver, Tanzania, target, US Dollar by on December 6, 2010 0 Comments

Freedom, independence, and awareness are undoubtedly in decline in the western world, particularly the U.S. In the last 10-days, Homeland Security has started seizing Internet domains from ‘rogue’ webmasters, and TSA has begun labeling dissenters of its new security procedures as domestic extremists. It’s as if the government’s actions are being ripped from Atlas Shrugged and 1984 … and yet the trend, at least for now, is still more government control, fake security, and reduced freedom. I recently sent you a controversial article about the nature of patriotism . In the article I suggested that when you find yourself increasingly isolated from your country’s declining values, it’s probably time to pack up and head somewhere else. Many people found this idea to be cowardly and weak. Obviously I believe the opposite to be true. One of the most difficult things you could ever do is pack up your life, leave everything familiar, and head to a new world full of uncertainty. Just about everyone reading this had ancestors who did just that. These were not cowards, they were pioneers; they were trading tyranny for opportunity, heading to a land full of bright prospects where they could carve out a life accountable for their own …

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The FBI’s Stalinist Homeland Security Theater

Filed in Ashland, BP, deflation, EPS, Gold, o, sov, Spot Gold, target, ubs by on December 3, 2010 0 Comments
The FBI’s Stalinist Homeland Security Theater

The FBI’s Stalinist Homeland Security Theater “The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.” — George Orwell, Animal Farm A few days after bombs ripped apart two apartment buildings Moscow , residents of Ryazan — a town 100 miles southeast of the Capital City — were alarmed to find several suspicious-looking figures loitering near a 13-story apartment complex. After police arrived on the scene they extracted three large sugar sacks from the high-rise. An examination of the sacks found that they contained hexagen — the same high-yield explosive that had been used in the Moscow terrorist bombings just a few days earlier. The police arrested two of the mysterious strangers, who immediately produced credentials issued by the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), the successor to the KGB. Within a few hours high-ranking FSB officials intervened to free their operatives, claiming that they had been involved in an innocuous “training exercise.” “This was not a bomb,” insisted then-FSB Director Nikolai Patrushev. “The exercise may not have been carried out well, but it was only a test, and the so-called explosive was only sacks of sugar.” There was at least one lapse in efficiency on the part of the FSB: The agency neglected to retrieve the detonator, which remained in the custody of the local police. Leaving aside the fact that tests had confirmed the presence of hexagen inside the “dummy” bomb, Patrushev didn’t explain why the FSB would attach a genuine detonator to phony explosives. Nor did he explain why the Security Organs insisted on collecting the “sugar sacks” and keeping them under armed guard at a nearby military base. Patrushev’s account didn’t satisfy one of the paratroopers given that peculiar assignment. The soldier smuggled a small sample collected from one of the sacks to a laboratory, and the resulting analysis confirmed that the substance was hexagen, not sucrose. The Ryazan “training exercise” took place on September 22, 1999. During the previous two weeks, hundreds of people had died in the Moscow apartment bombings. The FSB, acting with what could charitably be called indecent haste, destroyed both of those crime scenes before critical evidence could be collected. Shortly thereafter, six Chechen separatists (five of them in absentia) were accused of plotting the terrorist rampage. Invoking the need to avenge the innocent dead, Moscow carried out a punitive invasion of Chechnya, a predominantly Muslim province whose population has long sought independence from Russia. This series of events struck many in Russia as bit too tidy. In a house editorial published the day before the “training exercise” in Ryazan, the Moscow Times observed that “the bombed-out shell of the apartment block on Ulitsa Guryanova was destroyed in a controlled implosion, reducing to rubble the remains of the building and irreparably buying beneath it any remaining traces of evidence  — just ten days after the explosion. Workers at Kashirskoye Shosse, meanwhile, began clearing the rubble from the site as early as September 13 — the day of the bombing.” As the Times pointed out, the FSB’s insistence that the case had been “solved” was impossible to reconcile with the fact that “untold traces of chemical residue, fingerprints, technical fragments, [and] hair and DNA samples that were present at the [bombing] sites are now irrevocably lost.” “Is this ignorance?” asked the Times . “In the capital city of a country where the…

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Is the Collapsing Empire and Its Police State Worth Fighting For?

Filed in BP, Debt, deflation, lead, noble, o, US Dollar by on December 1, 2010 0 Comments

In 43 BC, over 2,000 years ago, warring consuls Antony, Lepidus, and Octavian were duking it out with each other over control of Rome following Julius Caesar’s assassination the prior March. Each had legions at his disposal, and Rome’s terrified Senate sat on its hands waiting for the outcome. Ultimately, the three men chose to unite their powers and rule Rome together in what became known as the Second Triumvirate. This body was established by a law named Lex Titia on this date (give or take depending on how you convert the Roman calendar) in 43 BC. The foundation of the Second Triumvirate is of tremendous historical importance: As the group wielded dictatorial powers, it represents the final nail in the coffin in Rome’s transition from republic to malignant autocracy. The Second Triumvirate expired after 10 years, upon which Octavian waged war on his partners once again, resulting in Mark Antony’s famed suicide with Cleopatra in 31 BC. Octavian was eventually rewarded with rich title and nearly supreme power, and he is generally regarded as Rome’s first emperor. Things only got worse from there. Tiberius, Octavian’s successor, was a paranoid deviant with a lust for executions. He spent the last decade of his reign completely detached from …

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The Forest, the Trees and the TSA

Filed in BP, deflation, o, silver by on November 29, 2010 0 Comments

With all the naked viewing and groping going on, I wonder if this is the United States of America or the back room of an adult video store. We have two major problems here, the TSA and its intrusive unconstitutional invasions of our rights, and the bigger question of why are we turning into a police state. Let’s start with the TSA. How many passengers have I seen interviewed on TV who all share the notion that “If it makes us safer then I think it is a good idea. I just want to get to my destination in one piece.” Not only does this presume that the government is more capable at assuring safety than private citizens, but it also illustrates an alarming trend in this country where we have become willing to so easily trade freedom for the illusion of safety (or prosperity, or charity). Let me ask you this — who has the greatest interest in safe and secure airplanes? The government? On the contrary, the people themselves have the greatest self interest in safety. The airlines would not want to jeopardize their reputation, their financial security, nor the lives of the passengers. Then there would be the insurance companies who insure those planes who would insist on the airlines taking proper steps for safe travel. And finally there are the passengers, who are so interested in safety that they willingly bend over and accept the government’s intrusion. So we now have three key private players with major interest in the safety of planes. The TSA only had a two-year contract before the airlines could opt out. I believe it is time for America’s airlines to opt out, or for the people to opt out of America’s airlines. Let airlines decide what security policies they employ, and then let the free people of America choose which airlines they feel safest flying. This simply means if you don’t want to blow up prematurely (if blowing up was already on your agenda), ride on a plane with tight professional security, and if you don’t want to pay more for a ticket (or be probed) ride on the plane without it. Freedom and security is not a trade off. Freedom IS security. If you believe that the federal government has the greatest interest in a secure plane, or that we should employ a more intrusive “papers please” approach or the Israeli model of rapid fire interrogations, let me ask you a few questions. If we could make airlines 100% safe, so safe that we know that a terrorist will never board a plane and take it over, would that be the end of terrorism as we know it? Do secure airlines mean a secure America? Hardly, considering that in America we have thousands of events held daily where greater numbers of people gather. Which brings us to the title of this article, “The Forest, the Trees and the TSA.” The TSA is actually only a symptom, while the real problem is our foreign policy. Our history in the Middle East did not start on Sept. 11, 2001. Understanding our involvement around the world and how it has a habit of coming to roost is key before we end up with check points outside our children’s soccer games. Though any step toward privatization in the airline industry is an improvement, the ultimate solution to our problems is bringing our troops home and minding our own business. Foreign belligerence is immoral, incredibly costly, and it threatens our security by inspiring people to hate us. This is not a “blame America …

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Why the Government Hates Deflation

Filed in BP, deflation, economy, Gold, Gold Prices, inflation, money supply, o, silver by on November 26, 2010 0 Comments

Being the naturally cynical type of guy that you would expect from someone so angry, so depressed, so outraged, so paranoid and so “Howard Beale” (“I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!”) as I am, people want to know “what is with” all of this “deflation” stuff that the Why the Government Hates Deflation originally appeared in the Daily Reckoning . The Daily Reckoning, offers a uniquely refreshing, perspective on the global economy, investing, gold, stocks and today’s markets. Its been called “the most entertaining read of the day.”

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There is No Food Inflation; the BLS Made Sure of That

“Moreover, inflation has been declining and is currently quite low, with measures of underlying inflation running close to 1 percent… In this environment, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) judged that additional monetary policy accommodation was needed to support the economic recovery and help ensure that inflation, over time, is at desired levels.” -Federal Reserve There is No Food Inflation; the BLS Made Sure of That originally appeared in the Daily Reckoning . The Daily Reckoning, offers a uniquely refreshing, perspective on the global economy, investing, gold, stocks and today’s markets. Its been called “the most entertaining read of the day.”

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We Are All German Jews Now

Filed in BP, deflation, New Gold, o, silver, Spot Gold, US Dollar by on November 24, 2010 0 Comments

The introduction of so-called porno scanners at America’s airports and the egregious pat downs of airline travelers have turned every American into a German Jew. Instead of dehumanizing and demeaning one segment of the population in order to pave the way for the Holocaust, all airline travelers are being treated like German Jews by our government for our own good — to keep us safe from terrorists on airplanes. The TSA now considers every American a potential “enemy of the state,” because any one of us may be carrying a bomb aboard an airplane, despite the fact that young men from the Middle East perpetrated the 9/11 attacks. “Hold on,” say TSA officials and their lackeys in Congress and in the media, “Our federal government is not out to harm us let alone kill us like the Nazis did to the Jews; our government needs to conduct “aggressive measures” to “protect” us on all commercial flights from potential terrorists.” That is the party line. I can understand objections to those who point to Nazi Germany and warn that this is what current day America is about. But I disagree with this objection. The ultimate horrors in Nazi Germany were, indeed, much more terrible than anything close to what has occurred so far in America. But one should do more than only consider just the ultimate horrors of what went on in Nazi Germany. One must think about the road that was traveled by the Germans to get to that point. I believe one of the most serious misunderstandings about totalitarianism is that it arrives as a full package that requires no assembly. That it is put on the people, like a winter coat. All at one time, and in full view for all to see. This is a grave misunderstanding. I often wondered why more Jews didn’t flee Nazi Germany. The answer did not come to me until I saw Roman Polanski’s important movie, The Pianist . In the movie, Polanski demonstrates how many Jews were simply one step behind. When Nazi Germany limited how much money a Jew could have, instead of leaving the country, many Jews debated where they should hide their money. When Jews were required to move to certain parts of the city, many Jews simply focused…

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Airport Sexual Assaults Don’t Increase Security

Filed in BP, deflation, New Gold, o, ubs, US Dollar by on November 22, 2010 0 Comments

A recent CBS News reported a poll (taken between November 7 and November 10) in which 8 out of 10 of the 1,137 adults surveyed answered the following question “Yes”: “Should Airports Use Full-Body X-Ray Machines?” Poll results change over time as information is released and people revise their opinions. It may be that 8 out of 10 or 9 out of 10 adults will continue to support the use of these machines. So what? Neither polls nor votes make something right or wrong. If right and wrong are determined by majority rule or by authorities who are acting on behalf of majorities or a consensus of the population they represent or rule, then anything can be right or wrong. In particular, the people and authorities may decide to remove all Jews from the country or deport all Afro-Americans or imprison anyone who sells an ounce of marijuana or stop a person from working at less than $10 an hour or any number of other such measures. Right and wrong cannot possibly be determined by polls and votes. They are found by examination and discovery of law and justice in both general and particular situations. Within the current spate of news reports appear various opinions that represent the current debate. Let’s examine some of this thinking. “Robert Thompson, a professor of popular culture at Syracuse University, says society is entering virgin technological and ethical territory. ‘The scanner’s ability to penetrate is metaphorically powerful. It’s invading privacy in all kinds of new ways,’ he told AFP. ‘Balancing that out, there is the other really basic, powerful argument, which is how you remain safe in the sky in the age of tiny weaponry and concealed bombs.’” Prof. Thompson is correct that scanners invade privacy. On the other hand, he sees the scanners as an essential technology that is necessary to prevent concealed bombs. It isn’t necessary, however. Screening on the basis of who people are can replace it. And scanners and molestations by physical feel-ups won’t prevent terrorism. Even if all air travel were 100 percent safe, terrorists could easily shift their focus in countless other directions on land and sea. The focus on air travel safety is misplaced. It ignores the substitution effect, whereby terrorists shift to other targets. The same kind of error is…

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