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TBR News June 16, 2010

Jun 16 2010

The Voice of the White House

          Washington, D.C., June 16, 2010: “On June 14, 2010, The New York Times ran a large advertisement on page A9. It was the work of Abe Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League, an organization that espouses Jewish causes.

            Mr. Foxman, and many of his co-religionists, are very unhappy about the public response to the Israeli attack on the Gaza humanitarian convoy. Although the convoy was not armed, it was attacked by Israeli Defense Forces in international waters, boarded by force and a number of its passengers were shot to death by the IDF.

            Mr. Foxman is terribly upset because, as he says, passengers and crew members of the invaded ships dared to fight back and actually injured some of the invaders! What did Voltaire say of similar matters? ‘This animal is dangerous. Why, when it is attacked, it dares to defend itself!’

            In international law, which Israel obviously has no respect for, such an act is considered piracy and is illegal, and punishable.

             Although this action caused a wave of international protest and revulsion, it was given only the barest of coverage by the American print and television media, who then rushed to inform us of the terrible oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico. ‘Oh, look over there children, see the pretty bird? No, Jimmy, don’t look at the roadkill, look where Mommy tells you to look.’

            And I note that while British Petroleum does indeed have the lease on the leaking site involved, the total ineptness and lack of concern for possible damage was the direct responsibility of Halliburton. I doubt if anything will be done about Halliburton, once the darling of their former CEO and later Vice President, Cheney.

             Halliburton got hundreds of millions of dollars of no-bid government contracts when Dirty Dick was in power and according to the Army, was useless and, in many cases, dangerous (their portable showers electrocuted many GIs) but nothing was ever done to punish this worthless but well-connected organization.

            But I suppose we can all look at televised blobs of tarry oil on beaches and see soaked and dead birds and other wildlife while Halliburton can slip out the back door and perhaps join Blackwater in further acts death and destruction and gross incompetence.. And, supported by Abe Foxman and many loud-mouthed others, Israel can plan, and execute, more acts of vicious savagery. ”

 

FOX IN THE HENHOUSE, CAN WE TRUST ISRAELI SECURITY COMPANIES?
June 15, 2010

by Gordon Duff

 

DID ISRAEL GIVE US THE DISEASE TO SELL US THE CURE?

            Would you go to a doctor who worked in a germ warfare lab? Would you hire a check forger to work in a bank? Would you hire a child molester to watch your kids? Well, we have hired Israel to watch our ports, our nuclear facilities, our airports and much more, a country we know for certain will give us a phony video, an altered container scan or a falsified radiation reading if it serves their purpose.”

            This week we learned that Israel had staged scenes from the Freedom Flotilla attack using actors and a common Hollywood special effects, called “double negative.” The actors were shown standing among peaceful humanitarian workers, waving weapons around. This became a problem when the stage Israel used wasn’t quite the same. We ended up with a film showing our Israeli “terrorists” walking through solid steel time and time again. Israelis film industry has been suffering of late. Even the phony bin Laden videos have given over to audio. The new bin Laden they use was doing Marlboro commercials in Egypt before they took him on.

            It is a given that Israel has destroyed any credibility it once had. It is one thing when a cheap set up job is leaked but this one was sent out special delivery Government of the State of Israel, stamped all over it. This was pure suicide. Only idiots that want to be fooled, polticians in the pocket of AIPAC and Fox News were really taken in. Frankly, with no integrity to sacrifice in the first place, humiliation is impossible anyway. With the “news cycle” such as it is, a new massacre or terrorist bombing could happen at any time. As Israel needs one quickly, it is quite possible we may get one.

            I guess I never thought that any country would go as far as to place people, spawned just like in a video game, in something used as vital evidence supporting Israel as “defending themselves.” Not much hope of making that dog hunt anymore. Maybe that dog never should have been tossed in a well at birth. Israel’s continual rantings about terrorism might all have been movie magic from day one. We now have to go back decades and look for photos and videos that are now likely to have all been altered like the films Israel sent of the dancing Palestinians on 9/11. Nothing was altered on these, they were simply many years old, just like the still photos of weapons Israel claimed they found on the Freedom Flotilla, photos with digital signatures from as early as 2006.

            What Israel has presented to us as “self defense” is now an act of terrorism. I don’t know if putting armed terrorists in a film, Israeli actors dressed up with steel waving steel rods around, is a crime but it should be. Were there any question, the films make it clear. What we need to know is why has falsifying evidence of terrorist acts become an industry in Israel, a nation that handles the security, including the video security, of most world airports, including nearly all airports in the United States? Would you go to a doctor who worked in a germ warfare lab? Would you hire a check forger to work in a bank? Would you hire a child molester to watch your kids? Well, we have hired Israel to watch our ports, our nuclear facilities, our airports and much more, a country we know for certain will give us a phony video, an altered container scan or a falsified radiation reading if it serves their purpose.

            Think of the Americans continually piping on about Israel as our ally, the great democracy, the bastion of liberty in the Middle East. Even the ill named Simon Wiesenthal Center or ADL, issuing a mass fatwa declaring the entire population of the planet either anti-Semites or “self hating Jews” or a combination of both won’t get them past this one. Israel already killed off their “Auschwitz” card when they were caught dubbing “Go Back to Auschwitz” over the screams for help from Flotilla wounded, like ventriloquists. We have even heard that Israel is now telling the Palestinians to go back to “Gazauschwitz.” Odd sense of humor.

            There is no doubt America was burned in the flood of intelligence received from Israel after 9/11. “Their” agenda, a long history of grudges, was settled at the cost of thousands of American lives, lives still being lost.

            A question comes to mind, why develop an industry for falsifying evidence of terrorism? What comes to mind at first is, of course, that Israel has a multi-billion dollar industry in selling security equipment and services, managed by Mossad personnel who are allowed now to work in the private sector and still actively serve their government. But does it go deeper? If you can and will, as Israel has shown us, add people into videos, then you can also remove them. When we see videos of “Arab terrorists” planting bombs or firing weapons as in Mumbai, what else are we not seeing? Have the players been switched? Have some people been removed? Why?

            Thus far we have seen proof that Israel creates phony passports from any country and moves agents where they choose. We have also seen videos altered to cover the murder of innocent civilians. From this we can guess that when we see a video of a rock throwing teen being shot it may well have been a child carrying school books instead. This is exactly the kind of thing done with the videos from the Freedom Flotilla and no reasonable person could imagine that Israel sat on this 35 year old technology without ever using it.

            Were phony videos and agents using falsified passports used to cover the 7/7 bombings in London? A curious set of circumstances involving the Netanyahu visit, alterations of his plans to avoid areas under attack bring the videos showing “Arab looking” suspects under suspicion. Now we know it could have been anyone or no one, the bombs could have been planted at any time and remotely activated.

            Once you take that step into deception or the moment you are caught doing something you may have done for decades, you can’t close that door again.

            Most intelligence professionals recognize that a significant percentage of Israelis who do business around the world are employed by their intelligence agencies. Many of these individuals carry Australian, German or British passports, many more seem to be Arabs, speaking local dialects with perfection. Many American contracting companies have had Israeli agents placed among their employees as have UN NGO organizations, many well know charities and, of course, the press. However, the majority are employed in selling, installing, maintaining equipment in high security installations or, in fact managing the installations themselves, providing broad services. This is, as it were, the rub. Stipol Airport in Amsterdam, the airport the Detroit “Crotch Bomber” hurried through with no passport was an Israeli run facility.

            Where were the videos showing who our terrorist met with while in Shipol, an airport with the broadest high definition video of any facility outside Israel? Oh, the video is missing, it disappeared, the Israeli company running the airport misplaced it. Wasn’t there time to cut in a pack of dancing Palestinians who could have been shown strapping a bomb to his “johnson?” They could have all been carrying steel bars and walked right through the airport walls to get there. When they left, they might have just disolved through the floor like vampires.

            Times Square was supposed to get us to forget the Mossad fiasco in Detroit, another airport managed by Israelis. When the Indian passenger picked out by the bomb dogs was taken into custody, where did that video go? What was his name? Did he simply disappear? Was he sent back to Israel like the dancing Israeli video crew on 9/11? When the government of Yemen reported that the “Al Qaeda” operatives, you remember, the ones Dick Cheney released from Guantanamo, had been in contact with Israeli handlers, where did that story go? Yemen has their laptops, filled to the brim with helpful hints on running operations, Mossad style.

            The issue then is one of trust. Can an airport be guarded by the same people who shuffle assassins and terrorists through airports? Can we accept a group of special effect clowns to handle video security footage that we may end up going to war over? No matter how cheaply priced or how nicely packaged the stolen American technology being offered is, shouldn’t it matter who we do business with?

http://www.veteranstoday.com/2010/06/14/gordon-duff-fox-in-the-henhouse-can-we-trust-israeli-security-companies/    

 

 

FBI to target mortgage fraud

June 11 2010

by Suzanne Kapner in New York

Financial Times/UK

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is preparing a nationwide crackdown on mortgage fraud, the latest in a series of efforts to curb lending practices that contributed to the housing meltdown, according to people familiar with the matter.

The FBI is preparing to arrest hundreds of people across the US as early as next week for offences including encouraging borrowers to falsify income on mortgage applications, misleading home owners about foreclosure rescue programmes, and inflating home appraisals, said two people with knowledge of the operation. An FBI spokesman declined to comment.

Since October 2008, the FBI has opened 23 local mortgage fraud task forces around the country with the purpose of curtailing the illegal misstatement, misrepresentation or omission of material facts on mortgage applications.

Such misstatements and omissions helped to fuel the housing bubble by allowing brokers, banks and other lenders to issue loans to borrowers with unverified income and low credit scores.

Many of these borrowers could not afford the loans and once the housing market started to deflate they stopped making interest and principal payments. More recently, mortgage fraud has involved foreclosure schemes in which financial firms collect a fee for falsely promising to help borrowers stay in their homes.

As of June 2009, suspicious mortgage-related activity for the year was on track to exceed 70,000 cases, a 10 per cent increase over 2008 levels, according to preliminary FBI estimates. Mortgage fraud-related losses totalled $1.4bn in 2008, an 83.4 per cent rise over the previous year.

In the first six months of 2009, losses exceeded levels for the same period in 2008 by $208m. California and Florida, two states that played a key role in the subprime meltdown, had the most mortgage fraud in 2008, according to the latest data. Los Angeles, Miami, San Francisco, Chicago, Sacramento, New York, Tampa, Detroit, Minneapolis and Atlanta were the top cities in descending order for mortgage fraud.

The FBI is scheduled to release its 2009 mortgage report on June 17. In previous years a series of arrests has coincided with the report’s publication. In June 2008, the FBI, along with other agencies, arrested 400 people as part of “Operation Malicious Mortgage,” a comprehensive shutdown of illegal mortgage schemes. That sweep was a co-ordinated effort among multiple agencies, including the Internal Revenue Service, the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

A multi-agency effort is also expected to be behind the latest crackdown, said a person familiar with the operation.

 

 

U.S. Drops Inspector of Food in China

June 13, 2010

by William Neuman and David Barboza

New York Times

Organic food from China, like tea and frozen broccoli, has increasingly found its way onto American store shelves, typically emblazoned with the green “U.S.D.A. organic” seal also found on food grown in this country.

The federal certification, the backbone of the organics industry, is aimed at assuring consumers that farmers and food manufacturers have passed tough, independent inspections — even half a world away.

Now serious questions about certification in China have been raised by the United States Agriculture Department. The agency, which uses private groups to conduct most organic inspections worldwide, has banned a leading American inspector from operating in China because of a conflict of interest that strikes at the heart of the organics’ guarantee. The federal agency also plans to send an audit team to China this year to broadly review the certification process.

Federal officials say the banned inspector, the Organic Crop Improvement Association, used employees of a Chinese government agency to inspect state-controlled farms and food processing facilities. The group, based in Nebraska and known by the initials O.C.I.A., has for years been one of the leading inspectors of Chinese organics for the United States market. Anticipating the department’s action, the group shut most of its operations last year.

The ban, to be formally announced on Monday, is likely to propel consumer worries about organic food from a country that many associate with food safety scandals and lax regulation, involving things like contaminated milk and toys coated in lead paint.

Whole Foods Market, the nation’s leading organic retailer, has used Chinese organics, including those from association-inspected producers, in many of its store brand products, including frozen vegetables, sunflower seeds, pine nuts and bottled teas.

But the number of those products has been shrinking, in part because of consumer worries about their credentials as organics. Two years ago, the company said, it sold about 30 private label items with organic ingredients from China; by the end of this year, it will stock only two: shelled and unshelled frozen edamame soybeans.

“Over the years, we’ve gotten a lot of critical feedback from customers on products that we source from China,” said Errol Schweizer, Whole Foods’ senior global grocery coordinator.

Whole Foods said it had conducted its own audits of its Chinese suppliers and had tested their products for contaminants and was confident that edamame soybeans remained of high quality and a good value. The retailer said it had also found some similar products from places besides China at better prices.

The United States imports $3 billion a year in farm products from China. Trade data does not single out organic farm products, which are believed to account for a small but growing portion of the total. The upward trend can be seen in the number of Chinese organic producers certified under Agriculture Department rules, which rose more than 200 percent, to 669 last year, from 216 in 2008. China is one of the biggest exporters of agricultural products to the United States.

The inspection process, known as certification, is meant to guarantee that an independent eye has scrutinized farming and food processing to make sure they meet federal rules ranging from a ban on most pesticides to requirements that organic and nonorganic foods be kept apart in processing plants.

But in an audit of O.C.I.A.’s operations in China, department investigators found at least 10 state-managed farms or factories that posed a potential conflict of interest, said Miles V. McEvoy, deputy administrator of the agency’s National Organic Program.

He did not know how large the operations were or what they produced, and it was not clear if the auditors had visited those operations to see if violations of organic standards had been overlooked. “We’re serious about enforcing the organic standards across the board, and we’ll be doing more work in China and other countries to assure the integrity of organic products,” Mr. McEvoy said.

Amanda Brewster, interim executive director of the association, declined to discuss its activities or the enforcement action.

But Jeff See, who was executive director of the O.C.I.A., said in an interview in March that the group began shutting its China operations late last year because of the regulatory pressure and financial difficulties. On May 28, the association signed a settlement agreement with the department, barring it from operating in China for at least a year.

O.C.I.A. is a nonprofit organization founded by American farmers in the 1980s. It remains one of the most active certifiers licensed by the department’s organic program. Today, according to department data, it inspects more than 1,800 operations in 11 countries, mostly in the United States, Canada and Latin America.

That does not include the 223 operations that the association certified in China last year, a third of all department-approved producers there, according to department data.

In China, the O.C.I.A. joined forces with the Organic Food Development Corporation, an agency affiliated with the Chinese Ministry of Environmental Protection. The association kept a small staff — one or three people in Nanjing — while inspectors from the Chinese agency went out to farms and factories. Their findings were translated into English and sent to O.C.I.A. headquarters in Nebraska, where staff members reviewed the material and made the final decisions on certification.

The department objected to the arrangement after a 2007 audit, saying the partnership violated a rule barring certifiers from reviewing operations in which they held a commercial interest.

The department moved to revoke the association’s accreditation and the group filed an appeal. The department’s disciplinary process is conducted in secret, and negotiations often drag on. In O.C.I.A.’s case, it took nearly three years to resolve.

Mr. See, the former association director, said that if the group had cut its ties to the Chinese agency and kept working in China independently, it would have had to comply with a requirement that foreign companies maintain large reserves in a Chinese bank, money the group did not have.

(Since the interview, Mr. See has left the association. He said last week that a confidentiality agreement prevented him from further discussing his former employer’s activities.)

Zhou Zejiang, a senior adviser to the American group’s Chinese partner, said his agency was affiliated with the Chinese government but was largely independent. Even so, he said, the department’s objections could have been resolved by requiring O.C.I.A. to use other inspectors in visits to farms or processors directly managed by the state.

Many producers that had been screened by the association were transferred to two certifiers based in Europe, Ecocert and the Institute for Marketecology.

Ding Wei, the director of the Institute for Marketecology’s office in Nanjing, said it had no ties to the Chinese government but sometimes encountered interference from local government officials during inspection visits.

“Each time they accompany us visiting the farm, they will raise lots of questions and they will watch closely when you are writing your report and try to find loopholes,” Mr. Ding said. But he added, “We are absolutely keeping our work independent.”

 

Abuse of Palestinians ‘widespread’

Aljazeera

             B’Tselem said the blockade shattered Gaza’s economy and caused blackouts and pollution Reuters

            The death toll in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories was “much lower” in 2009 than previous years, but human rights abuses against Palestinians remain widespread, according to a new report from the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem.

            The number of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces dropped by more than 80 per cent last year, the report pointed out on Monday.

            But human rights abuses still run rampant in the Palestinian territories, particularly in the Gaza Strip, where B’Tselem blamed Israel’s blockade for “the collapse of the economy”.

            The report noted that 95 per cent of Gaza’s factories have closed, that 98 per cent of residents suffer from blackouts, and that 93 per cent of Gaza’s water is polluted.

Israeli impunity

             “Poverty and deprivation, which were widespread before the operation Israel’s war on Gaza, have worsened still further,” the report said.

             “Absurdly, Israel’s decision to prevent imports and exports has encouraged the development of the tunnels economy between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, which is controlled by Hamas and increases its power.”

             B’Tselem also denounced what it described as a culture of impunity within the Israeli security forces.

            “From the soldier at the checkpoint to the top echelon of the army and government, accountability for harming Palestinian civilians is the exception rather than the rule,” it said.

            The report also criticised continued settlement growth in the West Bank as a violation of several Palestinian rights, including “the right to housing, to a livelihood, and to freedom of movement”.

             B’Tselem’s report acknowledged, though, that the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territories has “improved in several important ways”. Israel had reduced the number of manned checkpoints in the West Bank to 44 by the end of February, for example, down from 63 in 2008.

Fewer casualties

            Eighty-three Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces between the end of the Gaza war in January 2009 and April 2010. More than one-third of them were not engaged in hostilities, the group said. That compares with 456 Palestinian deaths in 2008.

            During the same period, Palestinian fighters killed three Israeli civilians, compared with 21 in 2008; and four members of Israel’s security forces were killed, as opposed to 10 in 2008.

            None of B’Tselem’s figures include casualties from the three-week Gaza war, during which more than 1,100 Palestinians were killed along with 10 Israeli soldiers and three Israeli civilians.

             B’Tselem was founded in 1989 by a group of Israeli lawyers, academics, journalists and politicians to document human rights abuses in the occupied Palestinian territories.

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2010/06/201061432151656148.html

 

Turkey has ‘no trust’ in Israel probe

June 15, 2010

PressTV

Turkey has dismissed an internal Israeli inquiry into Tel Aviv’s Gaza aid attack, saying it has “no trust” that the Israeli investigation team will act impartially.

            “We have no trust at all that Israel…that has carried out such an attack on a civilian convoy in international waters, will conduct an impartial investigation,” AFP quoted Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu as saying on Monday.

            Israeli navy commandos on May 31 launched a deadly onslaught on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla in international waters as it was heading toward the besieged Gaza Strip.

            The attack killed 20 activists, including eight Turks and a dual Turkish-US national, accompanying the six-seep aid convoy and left more than 40 others wounded.

            Defying repeated international calls for a transparent and credible probe into the incident, Israel has announced an internal investigation to probe the legal aspects of the deadly operation.

            The probe is far from what the international community has been demanding as it includes only two international observers who will have the right to vote on the proceedings and conclusions of the commission.

            Ankara insists that the investigation should be carried out impartially “under the direct control of the United Nations,” and that any such commission must be participated by both “Turkey and Israel,” Davutoglu stressed.

            Israel’s cabinet on Monday approved the creation of an “independent public commission” a day after it was announced by the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Saudi Arabia: We will not give Israel air corridor for Iran strike

Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf refutes Times of London report saying Saudi Arabia practiced standing down its anti-aircraft systems to allow an Israeli bomb run.

June 12, 2010

by Haaretz Service

Saudi Arabia would not allow Israeli bombers to pass through its airspace en route to a possible strike of Iran’s nuclear facilities, a member of the Saudi royal family said Saturday, denying an earlier Times of London report.

Earlier Saturday, the Times reported that Saudi Arabia has practiced standing down its anti-aircraft systems to allow Israeli warplanes passage on their way to attack Iran’s nuclear installations, adding that the Saudis have allocated a narrow corridor of airspace in the north of the country.

Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf, the Saudi envoy to the U.K. speaking to the London-based Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, denied that report, saying such a move “would be against the policy adopted and followed by the Kingdom.”

According to Asharq al-Awsat report, bin Nawaf reiterated the Saudi Arabia’s rejection of any violation of its territories or airspace, adding that it would be “illogical to allow the Israeli occupying force, with whom Saudi Arabia has no relations whatsoever, to use its land and airspace.”

Earlier, the Times quoted an unnamed U.S. defense source as saying that “the Saudis have given their permission for the Israelis to pass over and they will look the other way.

“They have already done tests to make sure their own jets aren’t scrambled and no one gets shot down. This has all been done with the agreement of the [U.S.] State Department.”

            Once the Israelis had passed, the kingdom’s air defenses would return to full alert, the Times said.

            Despite tensions between them, Israel and Saudi Arabia share a mutual hostility to Iran.

“We all know this. We will let them [the Israelis] through and see nothing,” the Times quoted a Saudi government source as saying.

According to the report, the four main targets for an Israeli raid on Iran would be uranium enrichment facilities at Natanz and Qom, a gas storage development at Isfahan and a heavy-water reactor at Arak.

Secondary targets may include a Russian-built light water reactor at Bushehr, which could produce weapons-grade plutonium when complete.

            Even with midair refueling, the targets would be as the far edge of Israeli bombers’ range at a distance of some 2,250km. An attack would likely involve several waves of aircraft, possibly crossing Jordan, northern Saudi Arabia and Iraq.

Aircraft attacking Bushehr, on the Gulf coast, could swing beneath Kuwait to strike from the southwest, the Times said.

Passing over Iraq would require at least tacit consent to the raid from the United States, whose troops are occupying the country. So far, the Obama Administration has refused this.

On Wednesday the United Nations passed a fourth round of sanctions against Iran in an attempt to force it to stop enriching uranium. But immediately after the UN vote, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad vowed the nuclear program would continue.

Israel hailed the vote – but said sanctions were not enough and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has refused to rule out a raid.

Netanyahu’s predecessor, Ehud Olmert, is believed to have held secret meetings with high-ranking Saudi officials over Iran.

 

PR Push Against Strategic Defaulters Underway (Is There a Debtors’ Prison in Your Future?)

June 12, 2010

nakedcapitalism

 

A good Washington DC contact told me that a public relations/media push to demonize those who decide to walk away from mortgages they can still afford to pay (aka “strategic defaulters”) is underway. Expect to see a good bit of moral fervor as those who choose to cut their losses are attacked as immoral, irresponsible, and abusive.

There is a wee problem with the “blame the ruthless borrower” narrative. Banks who acted in a ruthless manner have trained their customers to behave the same way. This shift in prevailing attitudes is the logical and inevitable result of financial firms taking an increasingly predatory posture toward their customers. Borrowers are responding in kind, by taking a cold-blooded and legalistic look at their agreements with lenders.

So now they are going to try to stuff the genie back in the bottle by castigating borrowers who treat their obligations as “just business”, the way banks do. But the problem with this little narrative is that the bank haven’t simply been pig-headed about adherence to their often pig-headed contracts (and before you argue otherwise, go read your full credit card agreement, which at Bank of America runs to 30 pages, or a home equity line of credit agreement, and then we can talk). It’s that even with doing everything possible to skew the playing field in their favor, they still had to be rescue en masse. Having been deadbeats and strategic defaulters of the first order, they continue to manifest their characteristic unmitigated gall via (through proxies and ads) hectoring the public about honorable behavior.

Now it is true that this is in fact a very destructive trend. A calculating, contract-driven mindset eats away at the foundations of commerce. When I was young, it was possible to deal with most clients on a handshake (I’d still write the arrangements up, but it was mainly a device for confirming that we had heard each other correctly). Now pretty much every one I know has very carefully crafted agreements precisely because if things stray outside the bounds initially contemplated, it is much less likely that the party on the other side of the table will try to reach a middle of the ground resolution. It is now the norm that parties to a contract will try to exploit ambiguous or unforeseen situations to their advantage.

Now this is a destructive trend. An erosion of trust leads to much greater contracting and dispute-resolution costs, a de facto tax on all commerce. As I discuss in ECONNED at greater length, it’s prohibitively costly and time consuming to negotiate agreements that contemplate every scenario. It would be far better if the banksters were to lead by example; most consumers would be delighted to deal with an institution that hadn’t forgotten the notion of reciprocity (which is why many consumers are switching to community banks and credit unions). But they no doubt want the average Joe to toe the line while they carry on with their use of complexity and opacity to shift hidden risks and fees on to overmatched customers.

One example comes, in of all places, a Republican motion to recommit (an amendment to a bill when it is on the floor made by the minority party). Now narrowly, one might well agree with the idea behind this amendment (to prevent people who strategically default, which will be difficult to define in any tidy way, from using FHA programs). But look at this section, which is roughly 2/3 of the entire amendment:

 

Strategic Defaults

A strategic default occurs when a borrower decides to stop paying their mortgage even though they can still afford their payments. It is usually undertaken by those who owe more on their mortgage than their home is currently worth.

The Wall Street Journal has reported on families that have chosen to stop paying their mortgage and instead use the extra money they are saving each month to “buy season tickets to Disneyland…take a Carnival cruise to Mexico…” and go out to dinner more often.

Companies have even sprung up to capitalize on the new trend with websites advising people (for a fee) on how to go about a strategic default. These companies actually advertise that after a few years an individual who chooses to default on their mortgage should be able to buy a home again, including through government loan agencies.

60 Minutes reported on individuals who defend their decision to strategically default saying, “…with the money savings that I will have in four to six years, I’m confident I’ll have money to buy my way into a house if I want to.”

Strategic defaults raise costs for responsible borrowers, many of whom may currently be struggling to make their mortgage payment themselves, but who take their obligations to pay their debts seriously. The MTR would ensure that no one who chooses to simply stop paying their mortgage, even though they can afford to do so, is able to benefit in the future from the government’s FHA program.

But it might be more straightforward to restore debtors’ prison. David Walker of the Peterson Institute seems fond of them:

The Conversations with the Crow

 

          When the CIA discovered that their former Deputy Director of Clandestine Affairs, Robert  T. Crowley, had been talking with author Gregory Douglas, they became fearful (because of what Crowley knew) and outraged (because they knew Douglas would publish eventually) and made many efforts to silence Crowley, mostly by having dozens of FBI agents call or visit him at his Washington home and try to convince him to stop talking to Douglas, whom they considered to be an evil, loose cannon.

             Crowley did not listen to them and Douglas made through shorthand notes of each and every of their many conversation. TBR News published most of these and the entire collection was later produced as an Ebook. Now, we reliably learn, various Washington agencies are trying to find a way to block the circulation of this highly negative, entertaining and dangerous work, so to show our solidarity with our leaders, and our sincere appreciation for their corrupt and coercive actions, we are going to repriint the entire work, chapter by chapter. (The entire book can be obtained by going to http://www.shop.conversationswiththecrow.com/Conversations-with-the-Crow-CWC-GD01.htm:

             Here is the second chapter:

Conversation No. 2

Date: Friday, February 9, 1996

Commenced: 9:11 AM (CST)

Concluded: 9:38 AM (CST)

GD: Robert.

RTC: Good morning, Gregory. How are you doing today?

GD: Functioning. Yourself?

RTC: Good days, bad days. I have to be careful in the bathroom because I sometimes lose my balance.

GD: Put in some grab irons.

RTC: Better said than done. I have some advice for you Gregory. Don’t get old.

GD: Do I have a choice?

RTC: We know the alternative. Have you heard back from your publisher?

GD: He’s too patient with me, I must say. He wants to see something about flying saucers but I have a diary entry for Mueller that covers this subject and I want to put it in there. His cousin was involved in the Roswell business and Roger actually saw one of the American ones out at Moffitt Field once. Actually climbed up on it.

RTC: Oh the hysteria of it all.

GD: I remember very clearly. At least three sightings a week. I created one of them at least.

RTC: How so?

GD: Oh we made a fake saucer out of balsa and silver paper, mounted two pulse jets at the rear and set it up for radio control.

RTC: Did you put little green men in it?

GD: No. The pilot area was covered with a plastic salad bowl upside down, but it really wasn’t very big. We took it down to the beach on a really hot day in July and flew it from one cliff to another. Right past a beach full of fat people getting sunburns. It was a distance of…oh say about 1000 feet give or take. To me, it wasn’t realistic but we put some noisemakers inside the jet pipes and it made a shitawful noise. High whistling and farting noises. Anyway, I was on one headland and my friend was on the other. We flew it fairly slowly in a straight line and believe me, the beach was packed. Right at the surf level but about 300 feet up in the air. God, you never heard so much shrieking and yelling in your life.

RTC: You always seem to have such a bizarre sense of humor, Gregory. Do you still do things like that?

GD: No. At my age, people get stuck into nut houses doing that but at the time, I did enjoy it. I remember once we carved the dorsal fin of a Great White out of a Styrofoam boogie board, mounted an underwater motor at the base with the control antenna running up to the top. Jesus, it was a huge fin at that. And of course we painted it up right. That was about the time that ‘Jaws’ came out. And this time we took it down to an even bigger beach…..do you know the California coast by any chance? I could be more specific

RTC: No, not really. Go on.

GD: It was the Fourth of July and hot as shit and the beach and the surf were jammed with intercity types. There was a pier that ran out well past the surf at the northern end of the beach so we took a rented rowboat with the fake fin and the radio control equipment and rowed right under this pier. It was a big pier with a road on it and all kinds of shops along the sides so there was certainly room under it. Anyway, we put the fin in the water, turned on the motor and aimed it towards the beach. It was a little hard to direct what with the surf and all but with a few tries, we got it fine. Ran it towards the beach and then paralleled it just out past the surf line. Jesus H. Christ, Robert, you couldn’t imagine the havoc. Screaming we could hear under the pier and everyone stampeded out of the water. We ran it back and forth a few times and then headed out to where a bunch of twits were fishing and again panic reigned supreme. Little outboard jobbies fleeing in terror in all directions. I mean given the size of the fin, what was supposed to be underneath it must have been the size of the Titanic. We saw a Coast Guard boat coming so we just aimed it out to sea and opened it up. Lost the whole rig but I didn’t feel like trying to get it back. If we’d been bagged, I would have got at least ten years out of it. But probably for contaminating the beach. I’ll bet there were six inches of shit floating in the surf.

RTC: Your escapades always entertain me, Gregory. But what do you know about real saucers? I don’t mean toys.

GD: The Germans developed one during the war and flew it. That I do know. Habermohl, Meithe and some wop.

RTC: Yes, true enough. And after the war we got the plans and one of the engineers. The Russians got a prototype and another scientist.

GD: Bender tells me the one he saw at Moffitt was made in Canada.

RTC: Yes, by the A.V. Roe Company. Called it AVRO.

GD: He said they had used it as a high altitude recon craft and it had USAF marking on it.

RTC: They let him see it?

GD: Been out of service for some time and he had some friend in the Navy who got him in.

RTC: Well, those were the legit ones. There really were others, you know.

GD: Russian?

RTC: No. We have no idea where they came from. Radar picked up flights around the moon that never came from down here. And the Roswell business was true enough. That’s where we got transistors, you know. But the sightings came at a sensitive time. The Korean War, the Cold War and so on. Great national fears. Remember the Orson Wells program?

GD: On Halloween of ’38. Mercury Theater radio show. I heard it as a kid. Of course I read Wells’ book and knew it was just a show.

RTC: A lot of others did not, believe me. It caused an enormous national panic. Hundreds dead, people killing themselves and their children, fleeing into the countryside and so on. I’m, surprised they didn’t lynch Orson. But he infuriated old Hearst with his movie….

GD: Citizen Kane.

RTC: Right and old Hearst blackballed Orson and ruined his career. But because of the huge flap over this, Truman decided to keep serious accounts about the sightings out of the papers and they minimalized it and made fun of the whole thing. But they were real enough.

GD: Given the huge number of systems out there, from a mathematical point of view, there isn’t any question superior entities do exist. Why would they bother with our planet? To watch the pink monkeys running around killing each other? Investigate Elvis concerts?

RTC: Well, most of the legit sightings came around the period when they were all testing A-Bombs so maybe that got the little green men interested.

GD: Did the Company have anything to do with all of this?

RTC: No. We had the U-2 business but not the saucers. The real ones. They were strictly military. No weapons but did carry cameras. These were used in various places because they were impossible to intercept but not as stable a camera platform as the U-2. The Russians knew all about these and when the strangers showed up, they thought they were ours and we thought they were theirs. We had several secret conferences about these at the time to try to clarify this.

GD: Any authentic reports of landings or abduction of humans?

RTC: Not that I remember. Mostly what we could call recon passes. The Roswell one was a fluke. Lightning was supposed to have hit one of their ships and brought it down. Don’t forget that Roswell was in a very sensitive military area at the time.

GD: Did they recover bodies?

RTC: As I understand it, they did but I can’t give you any more than that. What did Mueller have to say about these?

GD: That they were both domestic and from somewhere unknown. I’ll include this passage when I do the journals or diaries.

RTC: Journals sounds more authoritative. Diaries sounds like something a little girl keeps about her pets or boyfriends.

GD: I think you’re right.

RTC: When are they coming out?

GD: They’re in German and the handwriting is terrible. And his wife is terrified that I’ll somehow identify her or the children. I won’t but she is not sure of that. Some of your friends will not be happy when this comes out but so what?

RTC: So what. And after that? After the journals?

GD: I don’t know. Any ideas?

RTC: Well, we can always think about the Kennedy killing. I can give you some material on that that could produce a best seller.

GD: For example?

RTC: Now, Gregory, everything in its own good time. First things first. Finish up with the Mueller business and then on to other things. One of these days, we’ll have to jerk Jim Critchfield’s chain a little. I can’t stand that man. His wife, Lois, used to work for me and when we were shortening staff, I got her a job with Jim but we both wish I hadn’t. Jim is a first class asshole and a sadist of sorts. I think we can do a number on him as they say.

GD: Well, if you want to off him, I’m not your man. I’ve truly done in a few in my life but I prefer the typewriter to the gun. I do have an Irish friend who is a hit man but only political. He worked for your people in Ireland. He led the team that did Mountbatten in ’79.

RTC: Oh, I know about that. They caught one man.

GD: The man who planted the bomb on the boat but not my friend. A very interesting story.

RTC: Are you planning to use it? He’s still alive I take it?

GD: Oh yes, and doing fine in the private sector. And, most important, a very good friend. If I do anything, I’ll talk to him first. It’s not only OK but a real duty to fuck your enemies but never your friends.

RTC: Well, in time I can tell you our part in that one but let’s wait awhile. Every day is not Christmas, is it?

GD: That would be nice. Christmas every day. By the way, I read in the Post that it was so cold in DC the other day that a Senator was seen with his hands in his own pockets.

RTC: (Laughs)

GD: Did I ever tell you the one about the man who asked his girl friend to put her hands into his pocket? No?

RTC: Not that I recall.

GD: Anyway, she said ‘I feel silly doing this,” and he said, “If you put them any further down, you’ll feel nuts.”

RTC: Gregory, so soon after breakfast. Don’t you know any refined jokes?

GD: Limericks?

RTC: God no. The last time you got off on those we were an hour on the phone and Emily wondered why I was laughing so much. You must know thousands of them. How can you remember so much?

GD: It’s a curse, believe me.

RTC: Bill said you have a phenomenal memory.

GD: I can remember everything but dates and figures. No pre-natal memories.

RTC: The shrinks are useless, Gregory. We hired weird people like Cameron and you would be astonished at the pure crap they peddled on everyone.

GD: You know, I think most of them went into the game because they started reading up on their own psychosis and went on from there. Freud used to bang his sister when he wasn’t smoking Yen Shee….

RTC: You mean opium?

GD: Yes. Coleridge loved it too but Xanadu is all he has to show for it. Oh, I was digging into the Elmali business. The Greek coins. Now there’s a funny story for you. The Bulgarians forged up thousands of the rarest old Greek coins and sold them to the sucker brigades for millions. Cash for operations. Like the Stasi doing the Hitler Diaries.

RTC: You were into that one, weren’t you?

GD: I did all the detail work for Wolfgang and let Connie Kujau do the writing. Old Billy Price gave them a million dollars for the Hitler Diary I turned out. I mean I did the research and Connie did the writing. Now that would make a nice book.

RTC: Was if profitable for you?

GD: Oh God, yes. Very. They still can’t account for millions of marks.  But I really enjoyed watching the phonies and experts like Irving and Trevor-Roper get shit on their bibs. God, such a frenzied drive to get their names into print. Irving is such a brainless fuck that I can’t believe it. One of these days, Dave will really start believing his own lies and then he’ll get caught. ‘Irving’s been in hiding since early last fall when his picture first appeared on the Post Office wall.’

RTC: Costello admired him.

GD: Don’t forget, I met Costello. If he admired Irving, Irving must have a huge cock.

RTC: Now, now, I liked Costello.

GD: Brittle and vituperative without a reason or an excuse. I don’t have much use for him but he was a better writer than Irving.

RTC: I’ll agree. But John tried.

GD: What an epitaph!

RTC: Do I detect professional jealousy here, Gregory?

GD: No. You know how Costello died, don’t you?

RTC: There is somewhat of a mystery about that. There is a story going around that the Russians did him because he had discovered something sinister on his last trip to Moscow. What have you heard?

GD: John died of AIDS on a flight from Spain to Miami. Found him dead in his seat.

RTC: Gregory, come now. Where did you get that canard?

GD: It’s not a canard. Miami is in Dade County, Florida. When someone dies like that, the local coroner gets the body and has to do a post on it. I used to do posts so I have some knowledge. Anyway, I called the coroner’s office there, talked shop with a technician and got him to pull the initial death certificate and the final report. Costello had a raging lung infection only caused by HIV and died from it. Not open to debate at all. Since these are public records, I sent my new friend the money and he got official copies and sent them off to me. When I told Kimmel and Bruce Lee about this, Lee was very irate and, true to form, Kimmel refused to believe me. I can understand why Kimmel was negative because I can never be right but Lee’s reaction was interesting.

RTC: Why speculate?

GD: I’m a curious person, Robert. Why did the dog not bark in the night? Lee told me sinister forces got Costello and poisoned him with shellfish. The official autopsy report shows differently. I sent him a copy of the reports and he was not happy.

RTC: Regardless of the truth of this, Costello was a very competent historian, don’t you think?

GD: Costello alive didn’t particularly impress me. I talked with him in Reno, as you know, for about three hours and I’ve had more enlightening conversations with the hairlip who grooms my dogs.

RTC: How are your dogs?

GD: Being dogs. Actually, Robert, I am a firm believer in Frederick the Great’s sentiment. He said that the more he saw of people, the more he loved his dogs. I told Tom Kimmel that and he got huffy about it.

RTC: Tom is a decent sort but I agree he’s conventional.

GD: How can you be a good intelligence officer and be conventional? I’m not at all conventional and you yourself said I would have been your best agent. Or were you just flattering me?

RTC: You have talent.

GD: Ah, my Russian friends have said the same thing but we don’t need to discuss that aspect, do we?

RTC: That might be interesting.

GD: Not to the author of the ‘New KGB.’ You did write that, correct?

RTC: We had some help from Joe Trento.

GD: I wouldn’t admit that to anyone. You should have used my literary abilities. Trento is of the mistaken impression that he’s important and articulate.

RTC: We didn’t know you then but you probably would have done a much better job at that.

GD: Truth pressed to earth will rise again.

RTC: That’s     ?

GD: Mary Baker Eddy. Actually, it’s Latin. I could give it to you in Latin but what the hell? Oh, well, another day and another fifteen cents. How’re your family?

RTC: Doing fine, thank you for asking. And yours?

GD: My evil sister is still alive but all the rest of them have gone off to play cards with Jesus. If it’s true that when you die you have a great burst of glowing light and then you get to meet all your dead relatives, I think I’ll try to postpone the inevitable and find some place where they aren’t. Like Monaco.

RTC: Sam Cummings and Monaco. Do you know about Sam?

GD: A Limey who ran Interarmco and sold to the wrong people. That’s a no-no for one of your people. And safe in Monaco. Sometime I’ll talk to you about Jimmy Atwood and his Merex gun operation but not now.

RTC: Always promises. I’m going to have to cut this short Gregory because I have to do a little maintenance work upstairs and Emily keeps reminding me about this in a nice way. If you talk to Bill, ask him to call me, would you? His wife is not doing too well and it’s hard to get a hold of him.

GD: Of course. And be good.

RTC: At my age, there isn’t much reason not to.

(Concluded at 9:38AM CST)

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