The FBI Admits its Primary Focus is NOT Law Enforcement

Recently, the FBI made a significant change to its self-proclaimed primary focus in its fact sheet from “law enforcement” to “national security.” This change merely confirms what I and countless others have claimed to be true for quite some time. That the entire regulatory, security and intelligence apparatus of these United States has been redirected away from protecting the Constitution and the rule of law, toward a narrow focus on protecting the economic and social positions of the oligarch class at all costs under the guise of a “war on terror.” We have seen many signs of cronyism at the FBI for decades now, something most accurately pointed out in the priceless image “All My Heroes Have FBI Files.”

While this change to the FBI fact sheet is just confirmation of something we already knew, it’s still mind-boggling to see it shoved right in our faces:

Screen Shot 2014-01-06 at 2.52.09 PM

TechDirt covered this story well. Here are some excerpts:

A couple years ago, it was revealed that the FBI noted in one of its “counterterrorism training manuals” that FBI agents could “bend or suspend the law and impinge upon the freedoms of others,” which seemed kind of odd for a government agency who claimed its “primary function” was “law enforcement.” You’d think that playing by the rules would be kind of important. However, as John Hudson at Foreign Policy has noted, at some point last summer, the FBI quietly changed its fact sheet, so that it no longer says that “law enforcement” is its primary function, replacing it with “national security.”

Of course, I thought we already had a “national security” agency — known as the “National Security Agency.” Of course, while this may seem like a minor change, as the article notes, it is the reality behind the scenes. The FBI massively beefed up resources focused on “counterterrorism” and… then let all sorts of other crimes slide. Including crimes much more likely to impact Americans, like financial/white collar fraud.

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from A Lightning War for Liberty http://libertyblitzkrieg.com/2014/01/06/the-fbi-admits-its-primary-focus-is-not-law-enforcement/
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Revolving Door 2014: Former Head of the Federal Communications Commission Joins Carlyle

What better way to kick off 2014 than with the first (and most certainly not last) egregious example of USA banana republic revolving door crony capitalism. In this case, the crony in question is former head of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Julius Genachowski, who was earlier today named Managing Director and partner in the U.S. Buyout team for private equity giant Carlyle Group. Carlyle is so giddy about its latest example of regulatory capture, they issued a glowing press release on the matter. Here are some excerpts:

Tech & Media Business Executive and Former Head of U.S. Federal Communications Commission Will Focus on Global Technology, Media and Telecom Investments

Will Help Carlyle Further Capitalize on Internet and Mobile Revolution

Washington, DC – Global alternative asset manager The Carlyle Group (NASDAQ: CG) today named Julius Genachowski a Managing Director and partner in the U.S. Buyout team. He will focus on investments in global technology, media and telecom, including Internet and mobile. Mr. Genachowski is returning to the private sector after serving as Chairman of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission for four years, departing last May. He is an accomplished leader and expert in technology, media and telecom and brings to Carlyle almost 20 years of experience in the space. Mr. Genachowski joins Carlyle today and will be based in Washington, DC.

Since leaving the FCC, Mr. Genachowski has taught a joint class at Harvard’s Business and Law Schools, and served as a Senior Fellow at the Aspen Institute, the non-partisan education and policy organization. Over the course of his career, he has been a Special Adviser at General Atlantic, a board member and advisor to several public and private companies, and a law clerk to United States Supreme Court Justice David Souter.

Since inception, Carlyle has deployed on a global basis more than $18 billion in equity in investments in the technology, media and telecom sectors. Investments include Syniverse Technologies, Nielsen, Dex Media, AMC Entertainment, Insight Communications, CommScope and SS&C Technologies.

Congrats Mr. Genachowski, this is your big payday. There is no quicker route to success in the USSA than to go into “public service” regulating a massive industry and then flip back over to engage in M&A in the exact industry you were in charge of regulating. Congrats on the several months in which you pretended to be a professor.

In the past couple of years I have highlighted several instances of revolving door cronyism including:

In Journalism.
In Defense.
In Law Enforcement.
In Finance here,herehere and here.

Thanks for playing serfs.

Full press release here.

In Liberty,
Mike

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Revolving Door 2014: Former Head of the Federal Communications Commission Joins Carlyle originally appeared on A Lightning War for Liberty on January 6, 2014.

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from A Lightning War for Liberty http://libertyblitzkrieg.com/2014/01/06/revolving-door-2014-former-head-of-the-federal-communications-commission-joins-carlyle/
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Time to Say Goodbye to 2013 with “A History of Bitcoin” Timeline

There is no doubt that the most important story of 2013 from an economic and monetary perspective was Bitcoin. Whether you love it, or thinks it’s “evil” like statist lemming leader Paul Krugman, this was the year in which decentralized, crypto-currency first entered human consciousness, a concept which is unlikely to go away any time soon. So on that note, I’d like to present you with the most comprehensive and enjoyably interactive “History of Bitcoin” timeline I have come across.

Click on the image below to get to the site:

Screen Shot 2013-12-31 at 11.27.04 AM

*As far as my own timeline with BTC ,I first wrote about about Bitcoin in August, 2012 in my piece, Bitcoin: A Way to Fight Back Against the Financial Terrorists? 

See ya in 2014!

Michael Krieger

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Time to Say Goodbye to 2013 with “A History of Bitcoin” Timeline originally appeared on A Lightning War for Liberty on December 31, 2013.

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from A Lightning War for Liberty http://libertyblitzkrieg.com/2013/12/31/time-to-say-goodbye-to-2013-with-a-history-of-bitcoin-timeline/
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This is What Really Happens in the Drone Program from an Insider

Over the weekend, Heather Linebaugh wrote a powerful Op-ed in The Guardian newspaper lamenting the lack of public understanding regarding the American drone program. Heather should know what she’s talking about, she served in the United Stated Air Force from 2009 until March 2012. She worked in intelligence as an imagery analyst and geo-spatial analyst for the drone program during the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Here are some key excerpts from her article:

Whenever I read comments by politicians defending the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Predator and Reaper program – aka drones – I wish I could ask them a few questions. I’d start with: “How many women and children have you seen incinerated by a Hellfire missile?” And: “How many men have you seen crawl across a field, trying to make it to the nearest compound for help while bleeding out from severed legs?” Or even more pointedly: “How many soldiers have you seen die on the side of a road in Afghanistan because our ever-so-accurate UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles] were unable to detect an IED [improvised explosive device] that awaited their convoy?”

Few of these politicians who so brazenly proclaim the benefits of drones have a real clue of what actually goes on. I, on the other hand, have seen these awful sights first hand.

I knew the names of some of the young soldiers I saw bleed to death on the side of a road. I watched dozens of military-aged males die in Afghanistan, in empty fields, along riversides, and some right outside the compound where their family was waiting for them to return home from the mosque.

What the public needs to understand is that the video provided by a drone is not usually clear enough to detect someone carrying a weapon, even on a crystal-clear day with limited cloud and perfect light. This makes it incredibly difficult for the best analysts to identify if someone has weapons for sure. One example comes to mind: “The feed is so pixelated, what if it’s a shovel, and not a weapon?” I felt this confusion constantly, as did my fellow UAV analysts. We always wonder if we killed the right people, if we endangered the wrong people, if we destroyed an innocent civilian’s life all because of a bad image or angle.

Moreover, the many civilians being incinerated without a trial are not the only victims here. So are the actual drone operators themselves, many of whom end up committing suicide. Recall my article from December 2012: Meet Brandon Bryant: The Drone Operator Who Quit After Killing a Child. Of course, our so-called political “leaders” never get their hands dirty, other than to take a lobbyist bribe that is. Now more from Heather:

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from A Lightning War for Liberty http://libertyblitzkrieg.com/2013/12/30/what-really-happens-in-the-drone-program-from-someone-on-the-inside/
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How Retailers are Seeing Big Upside by Accepting Bitcoin

For a while now, I have been highlighting the fact that it is an absolute no brainer for small businesses to accept Bitcoin. Not only are you providing your customers with another method of payment with essentially zero downside (if you use a payment processor such as BitPay or Coinbase), it is the best free PR you could ever achieve. Back in November I wrote the following in my article You Can Now Buy a Plane Ticket with Bitcoin:

Notice the CEO’s comment about people coming to his site just because of Bitcoin. This is undoubtedly true, and as I have mentioned before on several occasions, it is a no brainer for a small business to accept bitcoin. It is early enough in the adoption phase that it will still drive tremendous press and buzz for your business and make you look technologically savvy.

It seems many businesses in NYC are finally recognizing the upside. According to the New York Post:

Sure, its value might rise and fall by the day, but some small-business owners in New York City are buying into bitcoin by accepting the buzzed-about currency at their brick-and-mortar locations. They’re saying the benefits are many, and the disadvantages are next to none.

That’s right, the digital currency — infamously linked to the purchase of drugs and guns — isn’t just for buying illegal goods anonymously online. It’s becoming a preferred method of payment for innovative business owners.

Daniel Lee, owner of Greene Ave. Market in Fort Greene, is even incentivizing with a 10-percent-off discount offer for customers who pay with bitcoin.

This “Bitcoin discount” is a trend that I expect to accelerate, and could be one of the primary drivers that sends Bitcoin adoption into the stratosphere in 2014. One recent example of this is the huge 40%-60% discount New York property firm RentHop is offering for clients that use Bitcoin.

More from the New York Post:

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from A Lightning War for Liberty http://libertyblitzkrieg.com/2013/12/29/how-retailers-are-seeing-big-upside-by-accepting-bitcoin/
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Further Proof the Justice Department is Protecting JP Morgan from Criminal Prosecution

In what may be the least surprising article of 2013, we find out from Newsweek that the Department of Justice is going out of its way to protect the poor little babies at JP Morgan from criminal prosecution in the Bernie Madoff case. While we know all too well about the institutionalized practice of “Too Big to Jail” that dominates the current fraud system of so called “justice” in America, it is still of the utmost importance that we spread these stories far and wide. Amazingly, in this instance the DOJ is actively blocking the Treasury Inspector General from doing his job in order to protect the mega-bank.

From Newsweek:

Bernard Madoff’s principal bank, JPMorgan Chase, has for years obstructed federal bank examiners trying to ascertain what it knew about his gigantic Ponzi scheme, an official document obtained by Newsweek shows.

The Justice Department refused in September to back up Treasury inspector general staff who wanted a  court order to enforce a subpoena, in effect shielding JPMorgan from law enforcement, the October 8 document shows.

The Justice Department told the Treasury Inspector General “that they were denying the request for enforcement of the subpoena,” which means officials “could not undertake further actions regarding this matter,” wrote Jason J. Metrick, the inspector general special-agent-in-charge.

The memo revealing that Justice protected JPMorgan from an obstruction complaint raises anew questions about how much the Obama administration has done to protect the big banks, whose lies about mortgage securities and other investments they sold sank the economy in 2008.

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from A Lightning War for Liberty http://libertyblitzkrieg.com/2013/12/27/further-proof-the-justice-department-is-protecting-jp-morgan-from-criminal-prosecution/
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Asia’s Richest Man, Li Ka-shing, Invests in Bitpay

If this is true, it is a stunning piece of news for the Bitcoin economy. According to the South China Morning Post, Asia’s richest man, Li Ka-shing has made an investment of an undisclosed amount in BTC payment processor Bitpay, a company I have highlighted on these pages on several occasions.

From the South China Morning Post:

Asia’s richest man, Li Ka-shing has invested in BitPay, the digital currency equivalent of PayPal, through his venture capital company, Horizons Ventures.

A spokeswoman for Horizons Ventures said the group would not comment on the details of the investment.

BitPay said it was “fortunate to have the benefit of many supportive investors, including Horizons Ventures”.

BitPay, founded in May 2011, handles transactions for 14,000 companies across 200 countries. About half are in the United States, with 25 per cent in Europe and 25 per cent in the rest of the world.

Simply incredible.

Full article here.

In Liberty,
Mike

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Asia’s Richest Man, Li Ka-shing, Invests in Bitpay originally appeared on A Lightning War for Liberty on December 26, 2013.

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from A Lightning War for Liberty http://libertyblitzkrieg.com/2013/12/26/asias-richest-man-li-ka-shing-invests-in-bitpay/
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How Debtors’ Prisons are Making a Comeback in America

Apparently having 5% of the world’s population, but 25% of its prisoners simply isn’t good enough for neo-feudal America. No, we need to find more creative and archaic ways to wastefully, immorally and seemingly unconstitutionally incarcerate poor people. Welcome to the latest trend in the penal colony formerly known as America. Debtors’ prisons. A practice I thought had long since been deemed outdated (indeed it has been largely eradicated in the Western world with the exception of about 1/3 of U.S. states as well as Greece).

From Fox News:

As if out of a Charles Dickens novel, people struggling to pay overdue fines and fees associated with court costs for even the simplest traffic infractions are being thrown in jail across the United States.

Critics are calling the practice the new “debtors’ prison” — referring to the jails that flourished in the U.S. and Western Europe over 150 years ago. Before the time of bankruptcy laws and social safety nets, poor folks and ruined business owners were locked up until their debts were paid off.

Reforms eventually outlawed the practice. But groups like the Brennan Center for Justice and the American Civil Liberties Union say it’s been reborn in local courts which may not be aware it’s against the law to send indigent people to jail over unpaid fines and fees — or they just haven’t been called on it until now.

The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University’s School of Law released a “Tool Kit for Action” in 2012 that broke down the cost to municipalities to jail debtors in comparison with the amount of old debt it was collecting. It doesn’t look like a bargain. For example, according to the report, Mecklenburg County, N.C., collected $33,476 in debts in 2009, but spent $40,000 jailing 246 debtors — a loss of $6,524.

Don’t worry, I’m sure private prisons for debtors will soon spring up to make this practice a pillar of GDP growth.

Many jurisdictions have taken to hiring private collection/probation companies to go after debtors, giving them the authority to revoke probation and incarcerate if they can’t pay. Research into the practice has found that private companies impose their own additional surcharges. Some 15 private companies have emerged to run these services in the South, including the popular Judicial Correction Services (JCS).

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from A Lightning War for Liberty http://libertyblitzkrieg.com/2013/12/26/how-debtors-prisons-are-making-a-comeback-in-america/
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Jeffrey Lacker: “Fed Has No Interest in Stopping Bitcoin”

While I don’t believe a word the professional criminals at the Federal Reserve say about anything, this is nonetheless an interesting clip from CNBC earlier today. The guest was Jeffrey Lacker, the President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.

Of course, I do note that after Lacker says his statement about the lack of imminent Fed intervention, he does mumble “at this point” under his breath.

The first thirty seconds is all that’s worth watching.

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Jeffrey Lacker: “Fed Has No Interest in Stopping Bitcoin” originally appeared on A Lightning War for Liberty on December 24, 2013.

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from A Lightning War for Liberty http://libertyblitzkrieg.com/2013/12/24/jeffrey-lacker-fed-had-no-interest-in-stopping-bitcoin/
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McDonald’s Advises its Own Employees to Avoid Fast Food

McDonald’s is simply the gift that keeps on giving. The company’s “McResource” website has made mistake after mistake all year, several of which I have have covered previously, including advice to broke employees to quit complaining, and their publication earlier in the year of budgetary advice that included not using heat and taking on a second job. Well McResource is back, this time essentially telling its employees that the company’s own food is not fit for public consumption.

From CNBC:

McDonald’s employee resources website once again is giving out worker advice that doesn’t seem to fit. This time, it’s about the industry it helped make ubiquitous — fast food.

“Fast foods are quick, reasonably priced, and readily available alternatives to home cooking. While convenient and economical for a busy lifestyle, fast foods are typically high in calories, fat, saturated fat, sugar, and salt and may put people at risk for becoming overweight,” reads one post on the site, which includes a picture of a hamburger and fries, two items that the fast-food giant specializes in selling.

A separate post writes, “it is hard to eat a healthy diet when you eat at fast-food restaurants often,” adding that large portions make it easy to overeat.

The site also advises people to limit how many fries they eat.

Screen Shot 2013-12-24 at 11.03.25 AM

It was the latest in a series of gaffes involving the site.

Last month, the company detailed tipping advice for workers, many of whom make around minimum wage. It listed pricey suggestions for tipping au pairs, personal fitness trainers and pool cleaners from etiquette maven Emily Post — advice it removed after a CNBC inquiry.

McSerfdom.

Full article here.

In Liberty,
Mike

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McDonald’s Advises its Own Employees to Avoid Fast Food originally appeared on A Lightning War for Liberty on December 24, 2013.

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from A Lightning War for Liberty http://libertyblitzkrieg.com/2013/12/24/mcdonalds-advises-its-own-employees-to-avoid-fast-food/
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