Friday, July 29, 2016

VA Spent $20 Million on Art Amidst Scandal

Six-figure sculptures for facility serving blind vets

The Veterans Affairs administration spent $20 million on expensive artwork and sculptures amidst the healthcare scandal, where thousands of veterans died waiting to see doctors.

The taxpayer watchdog group Open the Books teamed up with COX Media Washington, D.C., for an oversight report on spending at the VA, finding numerous frivolous expenditures on artwork, including six-figure dollar sculptures at facilities for the blind.

In the now-infamous VA scandal of 2012-2015, the nation was appalled to learn that 1,000 veterans died while waiting to see a doctor,” wrote Adam Andrzejewski, the founder and CEO of Open the Books, in an editorial for Forbes. “Tragically, many calls to the suicide assistance hotline were answered by voicemail. The health claim appeals process was known as ‘the hamster wheel’ and the appointment books were cooked in seven of every ten clinics.”

“Yet, in the midst of these horrific failings the VA managed to spend $20 million on high-end art over the last ten years—with $16 million spent during the Obama years,” Andrzejewski said.

http://freebeacon.com/uncategorized/va-spent-20-million-art-amidst-scandal/

New Law In Illinois Restricts Stingray Use, Requires Court Orders For Deployment

Roughly eight years after information about law enforcement use of Stingray devices began slowly making its way into the public sphere, positive changes are being made. While the government has often argued it can be the "Third Party" in "Third Party Doctrine" by inserting itself warrantlessly between people's cell phones and their carriers' towers, its assertions are being met with increased judicial skepticism.

Two judges -- one state, one federal -- have reached the same conclusion in recent months: using a cell tower spoofer to locate suspects by dragging information out of their phones is a search under the Fourth Amendment. Warrants are required.

A few state legislatures have gotten into the act as well, proposing laws that create a warrant requirement for Stingray deployment. Illinois is the latest to do so (and the law actually passed), creating a new set of guidelines for law enforcement Stingray device use, including limits on data retention. It doesn't go quite so far as to mandate warrant acquisition, but it does force law enforcement to specify the equipment used in their applications, which also serves to create a paper trail that can be examined by defendants and members of the public.

https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20160727/06472235085/new-law-illinois-restricts-stingray-use-requires-court-orders-deployment.shtml

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Hillary Clinton Makes History Accepting Democratic Nomination

Hillary Clinton has accepted the Democratic party's presidential nomination, making history as the first woman to be chosen to run for the highest office in the land by a major party in the United States.

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/excerpts-hillary-clintons-historic-dnc-speech-released/story?id=40968289

Ireland to Prosecute Former Anglo Irish Bank CEO for 2008 Economic Catastrophe

Last year, Iceland set precedent by sentencing 26 top bankers to a combined 74 years in prison, for causing the 2008 global financial crisis. The unprecedented conviction of bad bankers sent a strong message across the world (none of America’s top bankers went to jail for the crimes that caused the 2008 financial crisis) that no individual is too big to investigate, and that it was possible to prosecute fraudulent bankers.

Taking cue from Iceland, Ireland is going to prosecute the 2005-2008 CEO of Anglo Irish Bank, David Drumm, on 33 criminal charges. These include two charges of conspiracy to defraud and false accounting relating to €7.2 billion in deposits placed in Anglo Irish Bank accounts by the then Irish Life and Permanent, between March and September 2008.

16 of the 33 charges relate to unlawfully authorizing billions in loans (to be invested back into Anglo Irish Bank) to 16 wealthy investors, in a bid to artificially prop up Anglo Irish Bank’s share price before its December 2008 collapse. Each of the 33 offenses carries a 5 or 10 year jail term, except for a single count of conspiracy to defraud, which has a maximum penalty of an “unlimited term of imprisonment” under Irish law.

According to Cape Cod Times, Anglo Irish Bank was nationalized in January 2009, but the financial crisis before and after the nationalization destroyed Ireland’s economy, with taxpayers forced to shoulder costs of $32 billion to cover bad debt and repay investors. The collapse of its economy forced Ireland to take EU and IMF bailout packages worth up to £77 billion in November 2010.

http://anonhq.com/ireland-prosecute-former-anglo-irish-bank-ceo-2008-economic-catastrophe/

IRS Launches Investigation Of Clinton Foundation

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen referred congressional charges of corrupt Clinton Foundation “pay-to-play” activities to his tax agency’s exempt operations office for investigation, The Daily Caller News Foundation has learned.

The request to investigate the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation on charges of “public corruption” was made in a July 15 letter by 64 House Republicans to the IRS, FBI and Federal Trade Commission (FTC). They charged the foundation is “lawless.”

The initiative is being led by Rep. Marsha Blackburn, a Tennessee Republican who serves as the vice chairwoman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, which oversees FTC. The FTC regulates public charities alongside the IRS.

The lawmakers charged the Clinton Foundation is a “lawless ‘pay-to-play’ enterprise that has been operating under a cloak of philanthropy for years and should be investigated.”

http://dailycaller.com/2016/07/26/exclusive-irs-launches-investigation-of-clinton-foundation/

An All-Seeing Eye In The Sky Will Watch Over The Rio Olympics



The Olympic Games will be the first use of Logos Technologies' city-wide persistent surveillance system at a sporting event.

When the Olympic Games begin next month in Rio de Janeiro, billions of people are expected to watch athletes from countries around the world compete.

But also watching over the Olympic and Paralympic events will be a set of futuristic, balloon-mounted surveillance camera systems capable of monitoring a wide swath of the city in high resolution and in real-time.

Initially developed for use by U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan by Fairfax, Virginia-based Logos Technologies, the technology is sold under the name Simera, and offers live aerial views of a large area, or what the company calls "wide-area motion imagery," captured from a balloon tethered some 200 meters above the ground. The system's 13 cameras make it possible for operators to record detailed, 120-megapixel imagery of the movement of vehicles and pedestrians below in an area up to 40 square kilometers, depending on how high the balloon is deployed, and for up to three days at a time.

The Brazil sale, which includes four systems operated under an $8 million contract, marks the first export of Simera, and the first time such as system will be deployed by a non-U.S. government at a large-scale event, the company says. "Simera was built late last year and we tested it this past February and then immediately sold four of them to Brazil," says Doug Rombough, Logos’s vice president of business development.

http://www.fastcompany.com/3062179/rio-olympics-surveillance-logos-simera




NSA could hold 'smoking gun' in DNC leak

The political world is intensely focused on the FBI investigation into the suspected Russian hacking of Democratic National Committee emails, but the real smoking gun that could link the hack to Moscow is more likely found in the vast data troves of the National Security Agency.

While private sector cybersecurity specialists have gathered evidence pointing to Russia as the source of the hack, the U.S. Government has unique abilities to confirm such a finding, including sometimes being able to identify specific foreign government agencies or even individuals as responsible for the hacking, experts said.

http://www.politico.com/story/2016/07/nsa-dnc-hack-russia-226315

Bye Bye Middle Class: The Rate Of Homeownership In The United States Has Hit The Lowest Level Ever

The percentage of Americans that own a home has fallen to the lowest level ever recorded. During the second quarter of 2016, the non-seasonally adjusted homeownership rate fell to just 62.9 percent, which was exactly where it was at when the U.S. Census began publishing this measurement back in 1965. This is not what a “recovery” looks like. All throughout the Obama years, the percentage of Americans that own a home has gotten smaller and smaller and smaller. The reason for this, of course, is that the middle class in America is dying. Last year, we learned that middle class Americans now make up a minority of the population for the first time ever. In order to have a high rate of homeownership, you need a thriving middle class, and you can’t have a thriving middle class without good paying middle class jobs. This is why I write about the evisceration of the middle class so extensively, because the U.S. economy is systematically being hollowed out and most Americans don’t understand what is happening.

http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/archives/bye-bye-middle-class-the-rate-of-homeownership-in-the-united-states-has-hit-the-lowest-level-ever

Cryptome Interview by Pit Schultz Reboot FM Transmediale Berlin

Hillary Clinton Talks Tough on Shadow Banking, But Blackstone Is Celebrating at the DNC

Last December, James hosted a high-dollar fundraiser for Hillary Clinton that featured Warren Buffett. He’s made six-figure donations to the Center for American Progress, known as Clinton’s White House in exile, and sits on CAP’s Board of Trustees. And he has made no secret of wanting to hold a high-level position in a future Democratic administration, perhaps even Treasury Secretary.

The head-scratcher here is that James runs a private equity firm, exactly the kind of “shadow bank” that Clinton has derided as a scourge to the financial system. Shadow banks are financial institutions that do bank-like activities (such as lending or investing for clients) but aren’t chartered as banks, existing outside of the traditional regulatory perimeter.

Clinton argued during the primaries with Bernie Sanders that they were more dangerous than the big banks, because of the lack of scrutiny on their risk-taking. That was the linchpin of her argument that Sanders’s plan was too myopic, and that her plan, which sought to crack down on shadow banking and deny it sources of funds, was more comprehensive.

James has not only actively engaged in defending the whole concept of shadow banking, he created the original private equity trade group, formerly known as the Private Equity Council. The group later quietly changed its name to the more innocuous-sounding American Investment Council.

https://theintercept.com/2016/07/28/hillary-clinton-talks-tough-on-shadow-banking-but-blackstone-is-celebrating-at-the-dnc/

Infowars Operation Sleeping Giant

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

In Secret Battle, Surveillance Court Reined in FBI Use of Information Obtained from Phone Calls

Beginning over a decade ago, the country’s surveillance court intervened to limit the FBI’s ability to act on some sensitive information that it collected while monitoring phone calls.

The wrangling between the FBI and the secret court are contained in previously undisclosed documents obtained by the Electronic Privacy information Center, or EPIC, in an ongoing Freedom of Information Act lawsuit and were shared with The Intercept.

The documents reveal that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court told the FBI several times between 2005 and 2007 that using some incidental information it collected while monitoring communications in an investigation—specifically, numbers people punch into their phones after they’ve placed a call—would require an explicit authorization from the court, even in an emergency.

“The newly obtained summaries are significant because they show the power that the [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court] has to limit expansive FBI surveillance practices,” Alan Butler, an attorney for EPIC, wrote in an email to The Intercept.

https://theintercept.com/2016/07/27/in-secret-battle-surveillance-court-reined-in-fbi-use-of-information-obtained-from-phone-calls/


Privacy International reveals extent of MI5, MI6 and GCHQ bulk data collection

THE HEARING into Privacy International's challenge to the UK security services' collection of bulk communications and personal data opened in London on Monday, and previously secret documents revealed for the first time the extent of government surveillance into ordinary citizens' communications.

This follows a 'dirt dump' in April which showed that successive home secretaries have allowed this to carry on since at least 2005.

The documents provide evidence that MI5, MI6 and GCHQ collected data on every citizen in the UK, including location information, telephone numbers dialled and calls received, as well as metadata regarding time, date and duration of calls.

In addition, the security services are accused by Privacy International of collecting data in bulk via the internet, including browsing history, IP addresses visited, instant messaging data and operating systems. The bulk collection of personal information even includes physical post data.

http://www.theinquirer.net/inquirer/news/2466048/privacy-international-reveals-extent-of-mi5-mi6-and-gchq-bulk-data-collection

John Hinckley, Who Tried to Kill Reagan, Will Be Released

John W. Hinckley Jr., who tried to assassinate President Ronald Reagan in 1981, will be allowed to leave a government psychiatric hospital, a federal judge ruled on Wednesday.

Judge Paul L. Friedman of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia wrote in his opinion that Mr. Hinckley no longer posed a danger to himself or others. The release should begin no sooner than Aug. 5, the judge said.

On March 30, 1981, Mr. Hinckley opened fire with a revolver outside the Washington Hilton hotel, where Reagan had just addressed labor leaders. He wounded the president; his press secretary, James S. Brady; a Washington police officer; and a Secret Service agent. Mr. Brady suffered permanent brain damage and eventually died from his injuries in 2014.

The assassination attempt was the culmination of Mr. Hinckley’s obsession with Jodie Foster, which arose from her role as a child prostitute in the 1976 film “Taxi Driver,” in which a disturbed man plots to assassinate a presidential candidate. Mr. Hinckley began to identify with the main character in the film, Travis Bickle, played by Robert De Niro.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/28/us/hinckley-who-tried-to-kill-reagan-to-be-released.html

Hillary Clinton Officially Becomes First Woman to Win Major Party Nomination

Hillary Clinton became the first female presidential nominee of any major party on Tuesday, a historic milestone that sets the stage for a battle to prove to voters that she is someone they can trust in the White House.

The second day of the Democratic National Convention was designed to offer reassurance to an electorate that has watched her on the national stage for more than two decades as first lady, then U.S. senator and secretary of state.

http://www.wsj.com/articles/hillary-clinton-officially-becomes-first-female-to-win-major-party-nomination-1469572814