"● In a nutshell, civil forfeiture is the practice of confiscating items from people, ranging from cash, cars, even homes based on no criminal conviction or charges, merely suspicion. ● This practice first became widespread for use against pirates, as a way to take possession of contraband goods despite the fact that the ships’ owners in many cases were located thousands of miles away and couldn’t easily be prosecuted. As is often the case, what starts out reasonable becomes a gigantic organized crime ring of criminality, particularly in a society where the rule of law no longer exists for the “elite,” yet anything goes when it comes to pillaging the average citizen. ● One of the major reasons these programs have become so abused is that the police departments themselves are able to keep much of the confiscated money. So they actually have a perverse incentive to steal. As might be expected, a program that is often touted as being effective against going after major drug kingpins, actually targets the poor and disenfranchised more than anything else."
Eric Zuesse ■ The Ukrainian leadership has resigned, because of their unwillingness to impose the IMF's terms, which would impoverish the population within months. That impoverishment would be extracted from the Ukrainian public in order to repay the IMF's loans, which had been skimmed off by Ukraine's oligarch billionaires into secret bank accounts in Switzerland and other tax-havens. Two of the four parties in Ukraine's ruling coalition have bolted, refusing those IMF terms on loan-repayment; and, so, on July 24th, Ukraine's Prime Minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who had been appointed by Obama's agent Victoria Nuland , tendered his resignation.
Recall what we said earlier today: the proxy Ukraine war just like that in Syria preceding it, "is all about energy." Recall also the following chart showing Ukraine's shale gas deposits, keeping in mind that the Dnieper-Donets basin which lies in the hotly contested eastern part of the nation and where as everyone knows by now a bloody civil war is raging, is the major oil and gas producing region of Ukraine accounting for approximately 90 per cent of Ukrainian production and according to EIA may have 42 tcf of shale gas resources technically recoverable from 197 tcf of risked shale gas in place. Finally, recall our story from May that Joe Biden's son, Hunter, just joined the board of the largest Ukraine gas producer Burisma Holdings.
Ten dark suited men entered the premises of FBME bank in Cyprus on Friday afternoon and took it hostage. It must have looked like a scene from the Matrix. And given the surrealism of how this conflict is escalating, maybe it was. The men were from the Central Bank of Cyprus (CBC). And they commandeered FBME because an obscure agency within the US government recently issued a report accusing the bank of laundering money. It just so happens that FBME… and Cyprus in general… is where a lot of wealthy Russians hold their vast fortunes...Bear in mind, there has been no proof that any crime was committed. There was no court hearing. No charges were read. It wasn’t even the government of Cyprus who accused them of anything. There was just a generic report penned by some bureaucrat 10,000 miles away.
Fifty million Americans still live in poverty in the United States, including almost one-in-four US children, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said Wednesday. ● In its newest report on the world’s largest economy, the IMF urged Washington to boost the nation’s sluggish long-term growth and employment rates to tackle its social vows. “Despite improving growth and rising employment, almost 50 million Americans still live in poverty, unable to earn enough to meet their basic needs… Improved employment prospects and economic growth will be essential to bringing this number down,” the IMF said in its annual survey. [...] The global economic monitor pointed to a slump in US economic activity in the first quarter of 2014 following an unusually harsh winter, which together with a struggling housing market, slower exports demand and a 2.9-percent drop in home production output, stole the momentum of the second half of 2013. “Growth for the year as a whole will be a disappointing 1.7 percent,” the report said, citing the “large drag” from the first quarter contraction, which will be difficult to offset.
Tanvi Madan is the director of the India Project at the Brookings Institution. Pepe Escobar is the Asia Times roving correspondent and veteran Brazilian journalist in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
President François Hollande won broad domestic applause on Tuesday for defying allies Britain and the United States by confirming plans to deliver a helicopter carrier to Russia, with one backer dismissing the objections as hypocritical. ● Speaking on the eve of an EU meeting to discuss sanctions on Moscow over the downing of a civilian airliner over Ukraine, Hollande said late on Monday that a first Mistral warship would be handed over on schedule in October but a decision on a second would depend on Russia's attitude. It was the clearest signal yet that Paris will go through with the controversial deal despite the Ukraine crisis and came only hours after British Prime Minister David Cameron said it would be "unthinkable" for his country to fulfil such an order. The United States has also said it opposes the sale, which has exposed France to criticism that it is putting its own interests ahead of Western solidarity over Ukraine.
America’s sanctions against Russia over the Ukrainian crisis demonstrate Washington's impotence and will mainly hurt US businesses and Washington’s allies, former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury Paul Craig Roberts told RIA Novosti on Friday.
“The sanctions announced by the Obama regime against Russian defense and energy companies are a demonstration of Washington’s impotence,” Roberts asserted, adding that they will cause more damage to the US banks that are now prohibited from doing business with Russian companies. “The Russian companies can borrow, if they need loans, from European banks or from China, and have no need for US bank loans. It is in Russia’s strategic interests to have no business relationships with the US.”
“Sanctions are encouraging countries to withdraw from the dollar payments system that is the foundation of US power," Roberts added. "Even Washington’s NATO puppet states are becoming unwilling to hurt their own economies in order to help boost Washington’s power over Russia."
Paul Craig Roberts ■ Sanctions and Airliners
MotherBoard ■ With paranoia over NSA surveillance reaching a fever pitch, foreign governments are making a reasonable plea: bring our data home. But the Americans are doing their best to ensure that the world’s Internet data stays on U.S. soil, well within the reach of their spies. To do so, American negotiators are leveraging trade deals with much of the developed world, inserting language to ensure “cross-border data flows”—a euphemism that actually means they want to inhibit foreign governments from keeping data hosted domestically. The trade deals they’re influencing—the Trans-Atlantic Partnership (TPP), the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA), and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)—are all so secretive that nobody but the governments themselves are privy to the details. But thanks to the Australians and Wikileaks, both of whom have leaked details on TPP, we have a pretty good idea of what’s going on in the latest Trans-Pacific Partnership—a trade agreement that will act as a sort of NAFTA for Asia-Pacific region nations.
● A Ukrainian security spokesman has accused Russia's air force of shooting down one of its jets while it was on a mission over Ukrainian territory. Andriy Lysenko, spokesman for the Ukrainian National Security and Defence Council, said an Su-25 ground attack plane was downed on Wednesday evening. There was no comment from Moscow but rebels in eastern Ukraine say they shot down two Su-25 jets on Wednesday. Ukraine also alleges rockets were fired at its forces from Russian territory. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko ordered his foreign ministry to react officially after reports that Grad rockets were fired at Ukrainian forces in Luhansk region, from over the border near the Russian village of Gukovo. ● Russian President Vladimir Putin has denounced a new round of US sanctions against his country, saying they will damage relations and hurt businesses from both countries. He said the sanctions were driving bilateral relations towards a "dead end".
RIA Novosti: Russia Denies Shooting Down Ukrainian Combat Jet
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RIA Novosti: Ukrainian Army Buk Missile Likely Downed Malaysian Plane - Source
RT.com: Gruesome images of Malaysia MH17 plane crash in east Ukraine appear online
RIA Novosti: Almost 300 Dead in Malaysia Airlines Plane Crash - Ukrainian Interior Ministry Official
BBC: Malaysia airliner crashes in east Ukraine near Russia border
ABC News: Malaysia Airlines Loses Contact With Passenger Plane Over Ukraine
Mirror: Latest disaster reopens questions on whether missing MH370 was shot down
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday Moscow didn’t object to Ukraine receiving financial aid from the International Monetary Fund and other big lenders, but stressed they should prevent the money from being used to wage war on civilians in the east. ● “
Of course, we are all up for supporting Ukraine financially, meaning the people of Ukraine, and not some oligarchs or swindlers,” Putin said during a press conference in Brazil. “
fund has traditionally abstained from providing financial assistance to countries at war, and I think it is the right thing to do. I believe this tradition must be upheld in Ukraine’s case. As a rule, a country at war is given money for one goal and it spends the cash on quite another,” Putin noted. Kiev received the first IMF tranche of $3.16 billion in early May after the fund approved a $17 billion loan to Ukraine in the form of a two-year stabilization program. Ukraine is expected to receive a total of $27 billion from international donors such as the IMF, the World Bank, the US and the EU. From this sum about $14 billion is to come in 2014. Putin urged the IMF to think of such control instruments to monitor the distribution of financial aid in Ukraine so as to see to it that this money is channeled into the nation’s social and economic spheres, and not siphoned off by murky private banks or stolen.
RT.com: Putin: US sanctions contradict its national interests, will backfire
RT.com: Russia: US sanctions revenge for Ukrainian failure, Moscow may retaliate
Daily Mail: Obama [arrogantly] orders Putin to halt "flow of weapons and fighters" into Ukraine
The group of emerging economies signed the long-anticipated document to create the $100 bn BRICS Development Bank and a reserve currency pool worth over another $100 bn. Both will counter the influence of Western-based lending institutions and the dollar. ● The new bank will provide money for infrastructure and development projects in BRICS countries, and unlike the IMF or World Bank, each nation has equal say, regardless of GDP size. Each BRICS member is expected to put an equal share into establishing the startup capital of $50 billion with a goal to reach $100 billion. The BRICS bank will be headquartered in Shanghai, India will preside as president the first year, and Russia will be the chairman of the representatives. “
BRICS Bank will be one of the major multilateral development finance institutions in this world,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday at the 6th BRICS summit in Fortaleza, Brazil. The big launch of the BRICS bank is seen as a first step to break the dominance of the US dollar in global trade, as well as dollar-backed institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, both US-based institutions BRICS countries have little influence within.
RT.com/Pepe Escobar: BRICS bank on its way to beat casino financial system - VIDEO
Wayne Madsen: Check Mating Washington in its Own Backyard with
RIA Novosti: BRICS Seek Joint Stance on Foreign Policy – Putin
RIA Novosti: Washington ‘Not Worried’ by BRICS Bank – Spokeswoman
A long-shot effort to break California into six separate states got a boost on Monday, when the billionaire venture capitalist behind the proposal said he had gathered enough signatures to place it on the ballot in two years. ● Timothy Draper, a founder of a Silicon Valley-based venture capital firm that has invested in Twitter, Skype and Tesla, among other companies, has been agitating for months for a ballot initiative to chop the most populous U.S. state into smaller entities. "It’s important because it will help us create a more responsive, more innovative and more local government, and that ultimately will end up being better for all of Californians," said Roger Salazar, a spokesman for the campaign. "The idea...is to create six states with responsive local governments - states that are more representative and accountable to their constituents." Salazar said Monday that the campaign had gathered more than the roughly 808,000 signatures needed to place the measure on the November, 2016 ballot. Draper and other supporters plan to file the signatures with California Secretary of State Debra Bowen on Tuesday. But the plan has raised bipartisan hackles across the state, and opponents say it stands little chance of gaining voter approval. If it does win the support of voters, it must still be passed by Congress, which opponents say is also unlikely.
Michael Snyder ■ Most people have never heard of Jaime Caruana even though he is the head of an immensely powerful organization. He has been serving as the General Manager of the Bank for International Settlements since 2009, and he will continue in that role until 2017. The Bank for International Settlements is a rather boring name, and very few people realize that it is at the very core of our centrally-planned global financial system. So when Jaime Caruana speaks, people should listen. And the fact that he recently warned that the global financial system is currently "more fragile" in many ways than it was just prior to the collapse of Lehman Brothers should set off all sorts of alarm bells. Speaking of the financial markets, Caruana ominously declared that "it is hard to avoid the sense of a puzzling disconnect between the markets’ buoyancy and underlying economic developments globally" and he noted that "markets can stay irrational longer than you can stay solvent". In other words, he is saying what I have been saying for so long. The behavior of the financial markets has become completely divorced from economic reality, and at some point there is going to be a massive correction. - So why would the head of 'the central bank of the world' choose this moment to issue such a chilling warning? Does he know something that the rest of us do not?
Former PM criticised over link to United Arab Emirates-funded programme that promises lucrative 'business opportunities' ● Tony Blair has agreed to advise the Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who came to power in a military coup last year, as part of a programme funded by the United Arab Emirates that has promised to deliver huge "business opportunities" to those involved, the Guardian has learned. The former prime minister, now Middle East peace envoy, who supported the coup against Egypt's elected president Mohamed Morsi, is to give Sisi advice on "economic reform" in collaboration with a UAE-financed taskforce in Cairo – a decision criticised by one former ally. The UAE taskforce is being run by the management consultancy Strategy&, formerly Booz and Co, now part of PricewaterhouseCoopers, to attract investment into Egypt's crisis-ridden economy at a forthcoming Egypt donors' conference sponsored by the oil-rich UAE, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.
Seumas Milne ■ Blair embodies corruption and war. He must be sacked
Sam Kriss ■ Tony Blair, dread creature of the forbidden swamp
Not even we anticipated this particular "unintended consequence" as a result of the US multi-billion dollar fine on BNP (which France took very much to heart). Moments ago, in a lengthy interview given to French magazine Investir, none other than the governor of the French National Bank Christian Noyer and member of the ECB's governing board, said this stunner at the very end, via Bloomberg: NOYER: BNP CASE WILL ENCOURAGE ‘DIVERSIFICATION’ FROM DOLLAR
Martin Armstrong ■ I have gone on record that the most dangerous organization is the now French led IMF with Christine Lagarde at the helm, which has presented a concept report that debt cuts for over-indebted states are uncompromising and are to be performed more effectively in the future by defaulting on retirement accounts held in life insurance, mutual funds and other types of pension schemes, or arbitrarily extending debt perpetually so you cannot redeem. Yes you read correctly, The new IMF paper is described in great detail exactly how to now allow the private sector, which has invested in government bonds, to be expropriated to pay for the national debts of the socialist governments. I have been warning that there is an idea that has been running around behind the curtain that the national debt of the USA could be settled by usurping all pension funds in the country. Here is a remarkable blueprint that throws all previous considerations concerning the purchase of government bonds over the cliff. The IMF working paper from December 2013 states boldly: “
The distinction between external debt and domestic debt can be quite important. Domestic debt issued in domestic currency typically offers a far wider range of partial default options than does foreign currency–denominated external debt. Financial repression has already been mentioned; governments can stuff debt into local pension funds and insurance companies, forcing them through regulation to accept far lower rates of return than they might otherwise demand.” People are blind. They think this is authorization to go get the rich. They are going after everyone. For [even] the “rich” are tiny players in the game. People do not want to hear that. They want to think the rich can pay the bills for everyone else.
Nick Beams ■ A revealing speech by US Fed chief Yellen (Question & Answer session with Lagarde)
Central Bank Analysts Say Stocks Are In 'Euphoric' Territory And We're Screwed When The Recession Hits
The Bank for International Settlements — the Swiss-based financial institution that acts as a counterparty to national central banks — has declared that stock markets are currently in a "euphoric" state and has urged central banks globally to begin tightening interest rate policies now while economies are growing rather than wait for another recession, when it will be too late. Those are scary words, coming from a set of economists whose job it is to monitor how capable central banks are of responding to economic conditions with flexible monetary policy. The subtext (and not-so-subtext) of BIS's annual report is that because many central banks have reduced interest rates to zero — the U.S. and Japan included — they are currently without weapons to boost the economy should another crisis hit. You can't go lower than zero, basically.
Paul Craig Roberts: A New Recession and a New World Devoid of Washington’s Arrogance?
Association Agreement with the European Union envisages bringing the legislatures of Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia in line with the EU norms and creating a free trade zone. ● Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Georgia's Prime Minister Irakly Garibashvili and Moldova's Prime Minister Iurie Leancã have signed their respective Association Agreements with the EU. Association Agreement with the European Union envisages bringing the legislatures of Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia in line with the EU norms and creating a free trade zone. However, the agreement does not make the three countries the members of the EU yet. The document will come into effect after it is ratified by all EU member countries.
Dear friends, Very little is really know about the inner workings of the US-EU relationship and the corporate media only serves us the official and completely meaningless propaganda line. During the war in Korea, General MacArthur's insane threats to use nuclear weapons did trigger something of an European revolt (unlike the US, Europe was well within reach of Soviet bombers, including those with nuclear weapons). Could the absolute insanity of what is taking place in the Ukraine also trigger a European awakening? Could the European elites ever find it in themselves to stand up to the almighty Uncle Sam? Check out the short article below which, I think, is an amazing illustration of the real nature of the US-EU relationship. This article was translated from French into English by the same wonderful people who are the editors of vineyardsaker.fr, the French-language "mirror+" ("plus" because it has more than just translations of what is posted here). To them, yet again, I owe a big "merci les amis!". Kind regards, The Saker [Article here]
Remember when in January 2014, Q1 GDP was expected to rise 2.6%? Well, here comes the final Q1 GDP revision and it's a doozy: at -2.9%, far below the -1.8% expected and well below the -1.0% second revision, it is an absolute disaster, and is the worst print since Q1 2009. And while a bad GDP print was largely expected, the driver wasn't: personal consumption expenditures somehow crashed from 3.1% to just 1.0%, far below the 2.4% expected, meaning that all hope of a consumer recovery is dead. Finally, as a reminder, US GDP has never fallen more than 1.5% except during or just before an NBER-defined recession since quarterly GDP records began in 1947. Good luck department of truth propaganda machine, because even assuming 3% growth every other quarter in 2014 means 2014 GDP will be 1.5% at best!
Tyler Durden: Bad News Is "Bad" News - Stocks Drop, Bonds/Gold Pop
NYT: Economy in First Quarter Was Worse Than Everybody Thought
Business Insider: Futures Sink After Ugly Economic Reports
Germany Gives Up On Trying To Repatriate Its Gold, Will Leave It In The Fed's "Safe Hands" ● Several months after it was revealed that Germany was able to only recover a miserable 5 tons of its gold in all of 2013 (under 10% of the 84 tons it was scheduled to repatriate), Germany appears to have given up entirely in its attempt to recover gold which "simply is not there", and as Michael Krieger reports, citing Bloomberg, has decided to keep "it" (by "it" we don't mean the gold since that clearly has not been at the Fed for decades, but merely the paper promises of ownership: for more see China's gold rehypothecation scandal and how the unwind works) at the NY Fed after all. That is to say, in the "safe hands" of former Goldmanite Bill Dudley.
Russia built the one-unit nuclear power plant in Iran. The Bushehr nuclear power plant became first in the Middle East. The Bushehr first unit was put into operation in 2011. This was one of the most difficult projects in the history because the construction had started in 1974 and ended in 1980. Twelve year later Russia and Iran agreed to resume the activities. It took 14 years to build the plant. The Bushehr nuclear power has never been imposed any international sanctions. The plant is being built under the control of the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency). In compliance with the supplements to the 1992 agreement Iran obliged to return spent nuclear fuel back to Russia.
More than 400 large American drones have crashed since 2001, each accident causing from hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars in damage, according to the findings of new research by the Washington Post after examining more than 50,000 pages of federal and military records. ● Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or drones, became a popular American weapon during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But in 2015, the Federal Aviation Administration plans to open up American airspace to commercial, police, and military drones. The government has argued the use of domestic drones is absolutely safe, but the recent data about drone crashes shows there are still significant problems to be solved. ● According to the Washington Post, UAVs have crashed into houses, farms, roads and, in one case, even an airborne Air Force plane. No one has died as a result of a drone accident yet, but on many occasions, disaster has only been avoided by chance. The US military divides drone accidents into two different categories: There have been 194 Class A incidents, each of which either destroyed the aerial vehicle or resulted in at least $2 million in damage. More than half of these accidents took place in warzones, in Afghanistan and Iraq, but nearly 25 percent were in the US. Class B accidents caused between $500,000 and $2 million of damage. There have been 224 such events in total.
Today, WikiLeaks released the secret draft text for the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) Financial Services Annex, which covers 50 countries and 68.2%1 of world trade in services. The US and the EU are the main proponents of the agreement, and the authors of most joint changes, which also covers cross-border data flow. In a significant anti-transparency manoeuvre by the parties, the draft has been classified to keep it secret not just during the negotiations but for five years after the TISA enters into force. Despite the failures in financial regulation evident during the 2007-2008 Global Financial Crisis and calls for improvement of relevant regulatory structures2, proponents of TISA aim to further deregulate global financial services markets. The draft Financial Services Annex sets rules which would assist the expansion of financial multi-nationals – mainly headquartered in New York, London, Paris and Frankfurt – into other nations by preventing regulatory barriers. The leaked draft also shows that the US is particularly keen on boosting cross-border data flow, which would allow uninhibited exchange of personal and financial data. Read the full press release here.
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