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UK floods ravage south west – In Pictures – Al Jazeera English

UK floods ravage south west – In Pictures – Al Jazeera English.

Thousands left without power as storms batter the English coastline.
Last updated: 06 Feb 2014 09:13
Waves have destroyed a stretch of railway as well as a flood defence wall in the south west of England.The UK government pledged £100m ($163m) for flood works following the destruction which left thousands of people without power and forced others to flee their homes.

/Matt Cardy/Getty Images

Waves crash against the seafront and the railway line that has been closed due to storm damage at Dawlish on February 5 in Devon, England.

/Matt Cardy/Getty Images
A man walks in flood water as waves crash against the seafront and the railway line that has been closed due to storm damage at Dawlish.
/Matt Cardy/Getty Images
Waves crash against the seafront at Dawlish on February 5.
/Matt Cardy/Getty Images

Beach huts damaged by the storm waves at Dawlish on February 5.

/Matthew Horwood/Getty Images

Spectators watch as waves break over the harbour wall at Porthcawl. High tides combined with gale force winds and further heavy rain mean some parts of the UK are bracing themselves for more flooding.

/Matthew Horwood/Getty Images
A man and woman walk along the seafront as waves break over the harbour wall at Porthcawl.
/Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

An onlooker takes a picture of Brighton’s dilapidated West Pier of which a large section was washed away in the storm on February 5.

/Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
Waves pound the seafront in Brighton, United Kingdom.

Ponzi World (Over 3 Billion NOT Served): Put A Fork In It: The Collapse in Globalization Is Well Underway

Ponzi World (Over 3 Billion NOT Served): Put A Fork In It: The Collapse in Globalization Is Well Underway.

It took five years of Extend and Pretend, but global thought dealers have finally squandered enough financial resources to kill the globalized ponzi model for posterity. All of Harvard’s frat boys plus 520 global interest rate cuts combined with $33 trillion of fiscal and monetary stimulus, can’t put Humpty Dumpty together again…

Capacity Utilization is Falling
The vast majority still believe that interest rates have been falling (Treasury bonds rallying) these past years, due to Central Bank stimulus programs. Therefore, according to conventional wisdom, the Fed’s tapering of monetary stimulus MUST cause interest rates to rise:
“The search for bond alternatives is urgent. Interest rates almost certainly will rise this year as the Federal Reserve continues scaling back its massive stimulus program — and bond prices fall as interest rates rise”
Unfortunately, even a one-eyed man looking sideways can see below that interest rates (red) fall EVERY time the Fed ends one of its quantitative easing programs. The economy is in a state of deep underlying deflation. Therefore every time the Fed takes its foot off the gas, deflation accelerates and risk assets sell off aka. stocks and interest rates fall.
The Mother of All Output Gaps
The longer-term view of interest rates (below) is the scariest chart on the internet. The implications of this chart have even me wanting to change my underwear. Despite trillions in monetary inflation, forward inflation expectations are still falling. The bond market has already determined that deflation is inevitable. Central Banks can’t save globalization from cannibalizing the world economy and leaving nothing in its wake except massively expanded supply capacity and collapsed demand i.e. the mother of all output gaps.

The Mystery of the Missing Jobs
Therefore, the real reason there are no jobs is simply because there is too much global spare capacity and under the fundamentally imbalanced globalization paradigm, the output gap just keeps growing.

 
Long-term interest rates over the past 20 years:
The trend in interest rates is still down even though the money supply and economy are still expanding. Totally unbelievable. Wait until that black line (S&PCasino) collapses; as we see in 2008, interest rates went straight down with the stock market. This time nominal interest rates will go firmly negative, even if real (deflation-adjusted) rates remain positive:
 
 
Game Over, Man
The Fed did its best (below) to save globalization from self-imploding, but they can’t save something that is totally imbalanced and unsustainable from collapsing. With respect to jobs and debt-adjusted GDP, The underlying economic collapse is already well advanced despite what the public at large has been led to believe.
 
Low interest rates are only confirming what the jobs market is clearly saying about spare capacity.
The Labor Force Participation Rate – now at a fresh 35 year low – is the best indication that the globalized pseudo-economy is throwing off massive amounts of spare capacity aka. people. It was either this, or lower profits, so DowCasino took priority…

Obamanation

Using 2008 as a baseline for GDP and the deficit, then we see that debt-adjusted incremental GDP is firmly negative. This implies a Keynesian/Fiscal economic multiplier of less than 1 i.e. a negative ROI for each dollar of debt. Conventional demand (and supply) side economic theory is irretrievably broken. We are in uncharted territory on a rudderless ship.

The illusion-formerly-known-as-the-economy is 120% borrowed money. We can thank the grandchildren for giving up their future so that today’s shrink-wrapped zombies could have a few more years of shopping sprees:

 
China “Won” the Globalized Trade War – A Totally Pyrrhic (Empty) Victory
Over two decades ago, the Chinese Communist Party set out to create the leading capitalist economy on the planet. You can’t make this shit up. Fast forward and they have now surpassed the U.S. in global trade as of just this week.
It was text book export mercantilism. China ran the long game against America’s political attention deficit retards. No different than how England amassed Spain’s gold back in the 1600s:
The Balance of our Forraign Trade is The Rule of Our Treasure
“We must always take heed that we buy no more from strangers than we sell them, for so should we impoverish ourselves and enrich them.”

U.S. (Im)balance of Trade:
Lesson learned: No nation is obligated to be mercantilist in its trade relations, however, those that are not mercantilist certainly can’t trade with those that are.

America is Run by Political Retards
Apparently people four hundred years ago were not this stupid…

In any event, China is now Communist in name only and have thereby become the world’s largest Fascist state followed by the U.S. and Russia both of which are puppet democracies owned by and for ultra wealthy oligarchs. China’s *reward* for this metamorphosis is a society populated by millions of factory wage slaves making $.80/hour minimum wage, unsustainably polluted cities, trillions of non-amortizingunsecured foreign (Ponzi) debt and what will ultimately prove to be thousands of idled factories closely followed by widespread discontent.

Congratulations. You finally made it.

When A Stock Bubble Goes Horribly Wrong And Hyperinflation Results | Zero Hedge

When A Stock Bubble Goes Horribly Wrong And Hyperinflation Results | Zero Hedge.

Perhaps the most amusing and curious aspect of this entertaining summary of the Mississippi Bubble of 1720, the resulting European debt crisis (the first of many), how bubble frenzies are as old as paper money, the man behind both – convicted murderer and millionaire gambler, John Law, what happens when paper money’s linkage to gold is broken, and how everyone loses their wealth and hyperinflation breaks out, is who the source is. The New York FedPerhaps the Fed-employed authors fail to grasp just what their institution does, or have a truly demonic sense of humor. In either case, the following “crisis chronicle” highlighting how banking worked then, how it works now, and how it will always “work”, is a must read by all.

Crisis Chronicles: The Mississippi Bubble of 1720 and the European Debt Crisis

Convicted murderer and millionaire gambler John Law spotted an opportunity to leverage paper money and credit to finance trade. He first proposed the concept in Scotland in 1705, where it was rejected. But by 1716, Law had found a new audience for his ideas in France, where he proposed to the Duke of Orleans his plan to establish a state bank, at his own expense, that would issue paper money redeemable at face value in gold and silver. At the time, Law’s Banque Generale was one of only six such banks to have issued paper money, joining Sweden, England, Holland, Venice, and Genoa. Things didn’t turn out exactly as Law had hoped, and in this edition of Crisis Chronicleswe meet the South Sea’s lesser-known cousin, the Mississippi Bubble.

Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?

John Law was an interesting figure with a colorful past. He was convicted of murder in London but, with the help of friends, escaped to the continent, where he became a millionaire through his skill at gambling. Like South Sea Company Director John Blunt in England, Law believed that a trading company could be leveraged to exchange the monopoly rights of trade for the ability to make low-interest-rate loans to the government. And like Blunt, in 1719 Law formed a trading company—the Mississippi Company—to exploit trade in the Louisiana territory. But unlike Blunt or the South Sea Company, the Mississippi Company made an earnest effort to grow trade with the Louisiana territory.

In 1719, the French government allowed Law to issue 50,000 new shares in the Mississippi Company at 500 livres with just 75 livres down and the rest due in nineteen additional monthly payments of 25 livres each. The share price rose to 1,000 livres before the second installment was even due, and ordinary citizens flocked to Paris to participate. Based on this success, Law offered to pay off the national debt of 1.5 billion livres by issuing an additional 300,000 shares at 500 livres paid in ten monthly installments.

Law also purchased the right to collect taxes for 52 million livres and sought to replace various taxes with a single tax. The tax scheme was a boon to efficiency, and the price of some products fell by a third. The stock price increases and the tax efficiency gains spurred foreigners to Paris to buy stock in the Mississippi Company.

By mid-1719, the Mississippi Company had issued more than 600,000 shares and the par value of the company stood at 300 million livres. That summer, the share price skyrocketed from 1,000 to 5,000 livres and it continued to rise through year-end, ultimately reaching dizzying heights of 15,000 livres per share. The word millionaire was first used, and in January 1720 Law was appointed Controller General.

The Trickle Becomes a Flood

Reminiscent of a handful of florists failing to reinvest in tulip bulbs as we described in a previous post on Tulip Mania, in early 1720 some depositors at Banque Generale began to exchange Mississippi Company shares for gold coin. In response, Law passed edicts in early 1720 to limit the use of coin. Around the same time, to help support the Mississippi Company share price, Law agreed to buy back Mississippi Company stock with banknotes at a premium to market price and, to his surprise, more shareholders than anticipated queued up to do so—a surprise we’ll see repeated at the apex of the Panic of 1907. To support the stock redemptions, Law needed to print more money and broke the link to gold, which quickly led to hyperinflation, as we saw in our post on the Kipper und Wipperzeit.

10-livre-banknote

The spillover to the economy was immediate and most notable in food prices. By May 21, Law was forced to deflate the value of banknotes and cut the stock price. As the public rushed to convert banknotes to coin, Law was forced to close Banque Generale for ten days, then limit the transaction size once the bank reopened. But the queues grew longer, the Mississippi Company stock price continued to fall, and food prices soared by as much as 60 percent.

To make matters worse, there was an outbreak of the plague in September 1720, which further restricted economic activity—in particular, trade with the rest of Europe. By the end of 1720, Law was dismissed as Controller General and he ultimately fled France.

Balancing Dispersed Debt Issuance against Central Monetary Policy

One might argue that Law suffered a self-inflicted loss of control over monetary policy once the link between paper money issuance and the underlying value of gold holdings was broken—a lesson that monetary authorities have learned over time. (ZH: they have? where?)  But what if you don’t have direct sovereign authority over banknote issuance or, in more modern times, monetary policy? A challenge that’s perhaps most visible in the Eurozone is how best to balance dispersed, country-specific debt issuance against more centralized authority over monetary policy. In an upcoming post on the Continental Currency Crisis, we’ll see why a united fiscal policy was needed along with the united currency and monetary policies. Could the same be true of Europe? And if so, would a united fiscal policy include Eurozone debt as well as centralized fiscal transfers, or perhaps even collection of taxes? Tell us what you think.

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500 Years of History Shows that Mass Spying Is Always Aimed at Crushing Dissent Washington’s Blog

500 Years of History Shows that Mass Spying Is Always Aimed at Crushing Dissent Washington’s Blog.

It’s Never to Protect Us From Bad Guys

No matter which government conducts mass surveillance, they also do it to crush dissent, and then give a false rationale for why they’re doing it.

For example, the U.S. Supreme Court noted in Stanford v. Texas (1965):

While the Fourth Amendment [of the U.S. Constitution] was most immediately the product of contemporary revulsion against a regime of writs of assistance, its roots go far deeper. Its adoption in the Constitution of this new Nation reflected the culmination in England a few years earlier of a struggle against oppression which had endured for centuries. The story of that struggle has been fully chronicled in the pages of this Court’s reports, and it would be a needless exercise in pedantry to review again the detailed history of the use of general warrants as instruments of oppression from the time of the Tudors, through the Star Chamber, the Long Parliament, the Restoration, and beyond.

What is significant to note is that this history is largely a history of conflict between the Crown and the press. It was in enforcing the laws licensing the publication of literature and, later, in prosecutions for seditious libel, that general warrants were systematically used in the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries. In Tudor England, officers of the Crown were given roving commissions to search where they pleased in order to suppress and destroy the literature of dissent, both Catholic and Puritan. In later years, warrants were sometimes more specific in content, but they typically authorized of all persons connected of the premises of all persons connected with the publication of a particular libel, or the arrest and seizure of all the papers of a named person thought to be connected with a libel.

By “libel”, the court is referring to a critique of the British government  which the King or his ministers didn’t like … they would label such criticism “libel” and then seize all of the author’s papers.

The Supreme Court provided interesting historical details in the case of Marcus v. Search Warrant(1961):

The use by government of the power of search and seizure as an adjunct to a system for the suppression of objectionable publications … was a principal instrument for the enforcement of the Tudor licensing system. The Stationers’ Company was incorporated in 1557 to help implement that system, and was empowered

“to make search whenever it shall please them in any place, shop, house, chamber, or building or any printer, binder or bookseller whatever within our kingdom of England or the dominions of the same of or for any books or things printed, or to be printed, and to seize, take hold, burn, or turn to the proper use of the aforesaid community, all and several those books and things which are or shall be printed contrary to the form of any statute, act, or proclamation, made or to be made. . . .

An order of counsel confirmed and expanded the Company’s power in 1566,  and the Star Chamber reaffirmed it in 1586 by a decree

“That it shall be lawful for the wardens of the said Company for the time being or any two of the said Company thereto deputed by the said wardens, to make search in all workhouses, shops, warehouses of printers, booksellers, bookbinders, or where they shall have reasonable cause of suspicion, and all books [etc.] . . . contrary to . . . these present ordinances to stay and take to her Majesty’s use. . . . ”

Books thus seized were taken to Stationers’ Hall where they were inspected by ecclesiastical officers, who decided whether they should be burnt. These powers were exercised under the Tudor censorship to suppress both Catholic and Puritan dissenting literature.

Each succeeding regime during turbulent Seventeenth Century England used the search and seizure power to suppress publications. James I commissioned the ecclesiastical judges comprising the Court of High Commission

“to enquire and search for . . . all heretical, schismatical and seditious books, libels, and writings, and all other books, pamphlets and portraitures offensive to the state or set forth without sufficient and lawful authority in that behalf, . . . and the same books [etc.] and their printing presses themselves likewise to seize and so to order and dispose of them . . . as they may not after serve or be employed for any such unlawful use. . . .”

The Star Chamber decree of 1637, reenacting the requirement that all books be licensed, continued the broad powers of the Stationers’ Company to enforce the licensing laws.  During the political overturn of the 1640′s, Parliament on several occasions asserted the necessity of a broad search and seizure power to control printing. Thus, an order of 1648 gave power to the searchers

“to search in any house or place where there is just cause of suspicion that Presses are kept and employed in the printing of Scandalous and lying Pamphlets, . . . [and] to seize such scandalous and lying pamphlets as they find upon search. . . .”

The Restoration brought a new licensing act in 1662. Under its authority, “messengers of the press” operated under the secretaries of state, who issued executive warrants for the seizure of persons and papers. These warrants, while sometimes specific in content, often gave the most general discretionary authority. For example, a warrant to Roger L’Estrange, the Surveyor of the Press, empowered him to “seize all seditious books and libels and to apprehend the authors, contrivers, printers, publishers, and dispersers of them,” and to

search any house, shop, printing room, chamber, warehouse, etc. for seditious, scandalous or unlicensed pictures, books, or papers, to bring away or deface the same, and the letter press, taking away all the copies. . . .]”

***

Although increasingly attacked, the licensing system was continued in effect for a time even after the Revolution of 1688, and executive warrants continued to issue for the search for and seizure of offending books. The Stationers’ Company was also ordered

“to make often and diligent searches in all such places you or any of you shall know or have any probable reason to suspect, and to seize all unlicensed, scandalous books and pamphlets. . . .”

And even when the device of prosecution for seditious libel replaced licensing as the principal governmental control of the press,  it too was enforced with the aid of general warrants — authorizing either the arrest of all persons connected with the publication of a particular libel and the search of their premises or the seizure of all the papers of a named person alleged to be connected with the publication of a libel.

And see this.

General warrants were largely declared illegal in Britain in 1765.  But the British continued to use general warrants in the American colonies.  In fact, the Revolutionary War was largely launched to stop the use of general warrants in the colonies.  King George gave various excuses of why general warrants were needed for the public good, of course … but such excuses were all hollow.

The New York Review of Books notes that the American government did not start to conduct mass surveillance against the American people until long after the Revolutionary War ended … but once started, the purpose was to crush dissent:

In the United States, political spying by the federal government began in the early part of the twentieth century, with the creation of the Bureau of Investigation in the Department of Justice on July 1, 1908. In more than one sense, the new agency was a descendant of the surveillance practices developed in France a century earlier, since it was initiated by US Attorney General Charles Joseph Bonaparte, a great nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte, who created it during a Congressional recess. Its establishment was denounced by Congressman Walter Smith of Iowa, who argued that “No general system of spying upon and espionage of the people, such as has prevailed in Russia, in France under the Empire, and at one time in Ireland, should be allowed to grow up.”

Nonetheless, the new Bureau became deeply engaged in political surveillance during World War I when federal authorities sought to gather information on those opposing American entry into the war and those opposing the draft. As a result of this surveillance, many hundreds of people were prosecuted under the 1917 Espionage Act and the 1918 Sedition Act for the peaceful expression of opinion about the war and the draft.

But it was during the Vietnam War that political surveillance in the United States reached its peak. Under Presidents Lyndon Johnson and, to an even greater extent, Richard Nixon, there was a systematic effort by various agencies, including the United States Army, to gather information on those involved in anti-war protests. Millions of Americans took part in such protests and the federal government—as well as many state and local agencies—gathered enormous amounts of information on them. Here are just three of the numerous examples of political surveillance in that era:

  • In the 1960s in Rochester, New York, the local police department launched Operation SAFE (Scout Awareness for Emergency). It involved twenty thousand boy scouts living in the vicinity of Rochester. They got identification cards marked with their thumb prints. On the cards were the telephone numbers of the local police and the FBI. The scouts participating in the program were given a list of suspicious activities that they were to report.
  • In 1969, the FBI learned that one of the sponsors of an anti-war demonstration in Washington, DC, was a New York City-based organization, the Fifth Avenue Peace Parade Committee, that chartered buses to take protesters to the event. The FBI visited the bank where the organization maintained its account to get photocopies of the checks written to reserve places on the buses and, thereby, to identify participants in the demonstration. One of the other federal agencies given the information by the FBI was the Internal Revenue Service.

***

The National Security Agency was involved in the domestic political surveillance of that era as well. Decades before the Internet, under the direction of President Nixon, the NSA made arrangements with the major communications firms of the time such as RCA Global and Western Union to obtain copies of telegrams. When the matter came before the courts, the Nixon Administration argued that the president had inherent authority to protect the country against subversion. In a unanimous decision in 1972, however, the US Supreme Court rejected the claim that the president had the authority to disregard the requirement of the Fourth Amendment for a judicial warrant.

***

Much of the political surveillance of the 1960s and the 1970s and of the period going back to World War I consisted in efforts to identifyorganizations that were critical of government policies, or that were proponents of various causes the government didn’t like, and to gather information on their adherents. It was not always clear how this information was used. As best it is possible to establish, the main use was to block some of those who were identified with certain causes from obtaining public employment or some kinds of private employment. Those who were victimized in this way rarely discovered the reason they had been excluded.

Efforts to protect civil liberties during that era eventually led to the destruction of many of these records, sometimes after those whose activities were monitored were given an opportunity to examine them. In many cases, this prevented surveillance records from being used to harm those who were spied on. Yet great vigilance by organizations such as the ACLU and the Center for Constitutional Rights, which brought a large number of court cases challenging political surveillance, was required to safeguard rights. The collection of data concerning the activities of US citizens did not take place for benign purposes.

***

Between 1956 and 1971, the FBI operated a program known as COINTELPRO, for Counter Intelligence Program. Its purpose was to interfere with the activities of the organizations and individuals who were its targets or, in the words of long-time FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, to “expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit or otherwise neutralize” them. The first target was the Communist Party of the United States, but subsequent targets ranged from the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. and his Southern Christian Leadership Conference to organizations espousing women’s rights to right wing organizations such as the National States Rights Party.

A well-known example of COINTELPRO was the FBI’s planting in 1964 of false documents about William Albertson, a long-time Communist Party official, that persuaded the Communist Party that Albertson was an FBI informant. Amid major publicity, Albertson was expelled from the party, lost all his friends, and was fired from his job. Until his death in an automobile accident in 1972, he tried to prove that he was not a snitch, but the case was not resolved until 1989, when the FBI agreed to payAlbertson’s widow $170,000 to settle her lawsuit against the government.

COINTELPRO was eventually halted by J. Edgar Hoover after activists broke into a small FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania, in 1971, and released stolen documents about the program to the press. The lesson of COINTELPRO is that any government agency that is able to gather information through political surveillance will be tempted to use that information. After a time, the passive accumulation of data may seem insufficient and it may be used aggressively. This may take place long after the information is initially collected and may involve officials who had nothing to do with the original decision to engage in surveillance.

Indeed, during the Vietnam war, the NSA spied on Senator Frank Church because of his criticism of the Vietnam War. The NSA also spied on Senator Howard Baker.

Senator Church – the head of a congressional committee investigating Cointelpro – warned in 1975:

[NSA’s] capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter. There would be no place to hide.  [If a dictator ever took over, the N.S.A.] could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back.

This is, in fact, what’s happened …

Initially, American constitutional law experts say that the NSA is doing exactly the same thing to the American people today which King George did to the Colonists … using “general warrant” type spying.

And it is clear that the government is using its massive spy programs in order to track those who question government policies. See thisthisthis  and this.

Todd Gitlin – chair of the PhD program in communications at Columbia University, and a professor of journalism and sociology –  notes:

Under the Freedom of Information Act, the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF) has unearthed documents showing that, in 2011 and 2012, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and other federal agencies were busy surveilling and worrying about a good number of Occupy groups — during the very time that they were missing actual warnings about actual terrorist actions.

From its beginnings, the Occupy movement was of considerable interest to the DHS, the FBI, and other law enforcement and intelligence agencies, while true terrorists were slipping past the nets they cast in the wrong places.  In the fall of 2011, the DHS specifically asked its regional affiliates to report on “Peaceful Activist Demonstrations, in addition to reporting on domestic terrorist acts and ‘significant criminal activity.’”

Aware that Occupy was overwhelmingly peaceful, the federally funded Boston Regional Intelligence Center (BRIC), one of 77 coordination centers known generically as “fusion centers,” was busy monitoring Occupy Boston daily.  As the investigative journalist Michael Isikoff recently reported, they were not only tracking Occupy-related Facebook pages and websites but “writing reports on the movement’s potential impact on ‘commercial and financial sector assets.’”

It was in this period that the FBI received the second of two Russian police warnings about the extremist Islamist activities of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the future Boston Marathon bomber.  That city’s police commissioner later testified that the federal authorities did not pass any information at all about the Tsarnaev brothers on to him, though there’s no point in letting the Boston police off the hook either.  The ACLU has uncovered documents showing that, during the same period, they were paying close attention to the internal workings of…Code Pink and Veterans for Peace.

***

In Alaska, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Wisconsin, intelligence was not only pooled among public law enforcement agencies, but shared with private corporations — and vice versa.

Nationally, in 2011, the FBI and DHS were, in the words of Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, executive director of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, “treating protests against the corporate and banking structure of America as potential criminal and terrorist activity.”  Last December using FOIA, PCJF obtained 112 pages of documents (heavily redacted) revealing a good deal of evidence for what might otherwise seem like an outlandish charge: that federal authorities were, in Verheyden-Hilliard’s words, “functioning as a de facto intelligence arm of Wall Street and Corporate America.”  Consider these examples from PCJF’s summary of federal agencies working directly not only with local authorities but on behalf of the private sector:

• “As early as August 19, 2011, the FBI in New York was meeting with the New York Stock Exchange to discuss the Occupy Wall Street protests that wouldn’t start for another month. By September, prior to the start of the OWS, the FBI was notifying businesses that they might be the focus of an OWS protest.”

• “The FBI in Albany and the Syracuse Joint Terrorism Task Force disseminated information to… [22] campus police officials… A representative of the State University of New York at Oswego contacted the FBI for information on the OWS protests and reported to the FBI on the SUNY-Oswego Occupy encampment made up of students and professors.”

• An entity called the Domestic Security Alliance Council (DSAC), “a strategic partnership between the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and the private sector,” sent around information regarding Occupy protests at West Coast ports [on Nov. 2, 2011] to “raise awareness concerning this type of criminal activity.” The DSAC report contained “a ‘handling notice’ that the information is ‘meant for use primarily within the corporate security community. Such messages shall not be released in either written or oral form to the media, the general public or other personnel…’ Naval Criminal Investigative Services (NCIS) reported to DSAC on the relationship between OWS and organized labor.”

• DSAC gave tips to its corporate clients on “civil unrest,” which it defined as running the gamut from “small, organized rallies to large-scale demonstrations and rioting.” ***

• The FBI in Anchorage, Jacksonville, Tampa, Richmond, Memphis, Milwaukee, and Birmingham also gathered information and briefed local officials on wholly peaceful Occupy activities.

• In Jackson, Mississippi, FBI agents “attended a meeting with the Bank Security Group in Biloxi, MS with multiple private banks and the Biloxi Police Department, in which they discussed an announced protest for ‘National Bad Bank Sit-In-Day’ on December 7, 2011.”  Also in Jackson, “the Joint Terrorism Task Force issued a ‘Counterterrorism Preparedness’ alert” that, despite heavy redactions, notes the need to ‘document…the Occupy Wall Street Movement.’”

***

In 2010, the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee learned … that the Tennessee Fusion Center was “highlighting on its website map of ‘Terrorism Events and Other Suspicious Activity’ a recent ACLU-TN letter to school superintendents.  The letter encourages schools to be supportive of all religious beliefs during the holiday season.”

***

Consider an “intelligence report” from the North Central Texas fusion center, which in a 2009 “Prevention Awareness Bulletin” described, in the ACLU’s words, “a purportedconspiracy between Muslim civil rights organizations, lobbying groups, the anti-war movement, a former U.S. Congresswoman, the U.S. Treasury Department, and hip hop bands to spread tolerance in the United States, which would ‘provide an environment for terrorist organizations to flourish.’”

***

And those Virginia and Texas fusion centers were hardly alone in expanding the definition of “terrorist” to fit just about anyone who might oppose government policies.  According to a 2010 report in the Los Angeles Times, the Justice Department Inspector General found that “FBI agents improperly opened investigations into Greenpeace and several other domestic advocacy groups after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in 2001, and put the names of some of their members on terrorist watch lists based on evidence that turned out to be ‘factually weak.’”  The Inspector General called “troubling” what the Los Angeles Times described as “singling out some of the domestic groups for investigations that lasted up to five years, and were extended ‘without adequate basis.’

Subsequently, the FBI continued to maintain investigative files on groups like Greenpeace, the Catholic Worker, and the Thomas Merton Center in Pittsburgh, cases where (in the politely put words of the Inspector General’s report) “there was little indication of any possible federal crimes… In some cases, the FBI classified some investigations relating to nonviolent civil disobedience under its ‘acts of terrorism’ classification.”

***

In Pittsburgh, on the day after Thanksgiving 2002 (“a slow work day” in the Justice Department Inspector General’s estimation), a rookie FBI agent was outfitted with a camera, sent to an antiwar rally, and told to look for terrorism suspects.  The “possibility that any useful information would result from this make-work assignment was remote,” the report added drily.

“The agent was unable to identify any terrorism subjects at the event, but he photographed a woman in order to have something to show his supervisor.  He told us he had spoken to a woman leafletter at the rally who appeared to be of Middle Eastern descent, and that she was probably the person he photographed.”

The sequel was not quite so droll.  The Inspector General found that FBI officials, including their chief lawyer in Pittsburgh, manufactured postdated “routing slips” and the rest of a phony paper trail to justify this surveillance retroactively.

Moreover, at least one fusion center has involved military intelligence in civilian law enforcement.  In 2009, a military operative from Fort Lewis, Washington, worked undercover collecting information on peace groups in the Northwest.  In fact, he helped run the Port Militarization Resistance group’s Listserv.  Once uncovered, he told activists there were others doing similar work in the Army.  How much the military spies on American citizens is unknown and, at the moment at least, unknowable.

Do we hear an echo from the abyss of the counterintelligence programs of the 1960s and 1970s, when FBI memos — I have some in my own heavily redacted files obtained through an FOIA request — were routinely copied to military intelligence units?  Then, too, military intelligence operatives spied on activists who violated no laws, were not suspected of violating laws, and had they violated laws, would not have been under military jurisdiction in any case.  During those years, more than 1,500 Army intelligence agents in plain clothes were spying, undercover, on domestic political groups (according to Military Surveillance of Civilian Politics, 1967-70, an unpublished dissertation by former Army intelligence captain Christopher H. Pyle). They posed as students, sometimes growing long hair and beards for the purpose, or as reporters and camera crews.  They recorded speeches and conversations on concealed tape recorders. The Army lied about their purposes, claiming they were interested solely in “civil disturbance planning.”

Yes, we hear echoes to the Cointelpro program of the 60s and 70s … as well as King George’s General Warrants to the Colonies … and the Star Chamber of 15th century England.

Because – whatever governments may say – mass surveillance is always used to crush dissent.

Notes:

1. Spying is also aimed at keeping politicians in check.

2. The East German Stasi obviously used mass surveillance to crush dissent and keep it’s officials in check … and falsely claimed that spying was necessary to protect people against vague threats.   But poking holes in the excuses of a communist tyranny is too easy.  The focus of this essay is to show that the British and American governments have used this same cynical ruse for over 500 years.

3. For ease of reading, we deleted the footnotes from the two Supreme Court opinions

Met police want water cannon ready to use in Britain by summer | UK news | theguardian.com

Met police want water cannon ready to use in Britain by summer | UK news | theguardian.com.

Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson wrote to Theresa May about water cannon this week: ‘I am aware you have declined to make funds available.’ Photograph: Lam Yik Fei/Getty Images

Britain’s biggest police force wants water cannon ready to be used on the streets of mainland Britain by this summer, official letters reveal.

They also show that a request for the government to fund the controversial purchase has been rejected by the home secretary,Theresa May.

Public consultations on the deployment of water cannon will begin within weeks and a formal decision made next month.

Water cannon have not previously been available to police on mainland Britain, and their use has been limited to Northern Ireland.

In a letter sent on Monday by Johnson to May, the London mayor explains his reasoning, saying it is a direct result of the 2011 riots that started in London before spreading, becoming the most serious and widespread riots to hit England in decades.

Ultimately the home secretary will have to licence the acquisition of water cannon for use on the capital’s streets. Critics warn it is a step towards the militarisation of the police and could be used to stifle the democratic right to protest.

In his letter, dated 6 January 2014, Johnson writes: “Following the disorder in August 2011, both the Metropolitan police service and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary stated that there are some circumstances where water cannon may be of use in future.

“Following briefing by the [Met] commissioner I am broadly convinced of the value of having water cannon available to the MPS [Metropolitan police service] for those circumstances where its absence would lead to greater disorder or the use of more extreme force.”

The Met commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, has pledged that water cannon would be “rarely used and rarely seen”, the letter says.

His letter to May, his Conservative colleague, then discusses funding: “Finally, I am aware that you have declined to make funds available for purchasing the interim water cannon solution as a national asset.

“Subject to the public engagement process … I am happy to make the necessary funds available to the MPS for the most economical interim solution that allows the commissioner to meet his desire to prevent disorder on the streets. I would expect to do this in February, following the [public] engagement.”

In his letter London’s mayor says there is public support for the deployment of water cannon.

A further letter written on Tuesday by Stephen Greenhalgh, deputy mayor for policing, says a formal decision to go ahead with water cannon will be made next month.

Greenhalgh wants public consultation to begin within weeks, which will involve public meetings and talks with MPs, councillors and what he describes as “stakeholders”.

The mayor’s office says water cannon would only be used in “the most extreme circumstances”.

Greenhalgh’s letter was written to Labour’s Joanne McCartney, chair of the London assembly’s police and crime committee.

The letter says: “In order to ensure that water cannon is available by next summer, something which the commissioner has been calling for, it is important that the process of engagement starts soon.”

The Green party London assembly member Lady Jones said: “Allowing water cannon on the streets of London is a step in the wrong direction towards arming our police like a military force, and it goes against our great tradition of an unarmed police service.

“People have a democratic right to protest and my fear is that once the mayor allows these weapons on to our streets we will see them being used against people exercising their legal right to protest.”

It is believed the Met are in talks with German companies about supplying water cannon in time for this summer.

The Met has approached companies about hiring or buying second-hand water cannons from overseas to have the machines available as soon as possible.

The Met is interested in acquiring around three units.

In a letter to Jones, assistant commissioner Mark Rowley detailed the training required. Rowley wrote in July 2013 that no more than 20 staff would need to be trained in the use of water cannon and another 200 riot officers would need to be trained in how to quell disorder while working alongside water cannons.

Rowley’s letter said the use of water cannon would require authorisation by an officer of the rank of commander.

The home secretary must authorise the acquisition of water cannon for use on the mainland and May has already signalled her sympathy for the controversial tactic.

Some within the Met have privately told the Guardian they are sceptical about the need and effectiveness of water cannon on London’s streets. They say streets here are much narrower than in Europe, where water cannon are already in use, thus making them less effective and potentially vulnerable to capture. They also say water cannon fire jets that could prove indiscriminate and strike innocent members of a crowd.

UK’s worst winter storms for two decades set to continue | UK news | theguardian.com

UK’s worst winter storms for two decades set to continue | UK news | theguardian.com.

The riverside at Tewkesbury, where the Severn has burst its banks

The riverside at Tewkesbury, where the Severn has burst its banks. Photograph: Dougscycles Ashburn/Corbis

Britain remains in the grip of the worst run of winter storms for two decades, with 96 flood warnings in place throughout England and Wales and a further 244 areas put on flood alert.

Coastal areas – particularly in southern England – are most vulnerable because of unusually high tides and the arrival of a strong Atlantic storm.

The Met Office has issued yellow weather warnings of ice and rain, predicting river and surface flooding as well as travel disruption, mainly in south Wales and the south-west and south-east of England. Up to 40mm of rain could fall on higher ground.

Inland rainfall will put pressure on rivers, endangering nearby communities including those along the river Medway in Kent, the river Thames in Oxford and Osney, and the river Severn estuary in Gloucestershire.

The Thames barrier will remain closed to protect land near the river.

Matt Dobson, a forecaster for MeteoGroup, said the rain “simply has nowhere to go” because weeks of severe weather had left the ground waterlogged and rivers rising over their banks.

“It’s very unusual to have so many powerful storms come in one after the other in such a short space of time; we haven’t seen anything like this since about 1991,” he said.

“The nasty weather of the last few days is going to continue across the UK, with the combination of high tides and a powerful storm putting coastal areas particularly at risk.

“Any rain will mean more flooding as the ground is saturated and swollen rivers are coming up against strong waves.”

The strong winds, persistent rain and tidal waves are predicted to batter the UK for at least another two days, as emergency services attempt to cope with the trail of devastation already created by the severe weather.

More than 200 homes have been flooded from Cornwall to Scotland, with miles of coastline affected and roads and fields across the country left under water.

Two people have already died in the storms: a 27-year-old man from Surrey was found on Porthleven Sands beach in Cornwall after he was swept out to sea on New Year’s Eve night, and a woman died after being rescued from the sea in Croyde Bay, north Devon.

Dozens of volunteers in south Devon have resumed their search for missing 18-year-old student Harry Martin, who was last seen leaving his home to take photographs of the weather.

Officials around the country have pleaded with people to keep away from coastal areas, where waves up to 40ft high have lashed the land.

A man and child were almost swept away by a huge wave at Mullion Cove in Cornwall as they peered over the sea wall to watch the raging sea, and elsewhere in Cornwall vehicles driving on a coastal road were swamped and almost washed away by a tidal surge.

In Aberystwyth, a man was rescued by lifeboat after he defied police warnings and became trapped when photographing waves from a harbour jetty. Aberystwyth University has deferred the start of the examination period by one week and is advising students not to travel to the coastal town until the middle of next week.

Debris was strewn across the town’s promenade, while rail lines in north Wales were left buckled by the power of the sea and a road collapsed in Amroth, Pembrokeshire.

The strong tides were said to be the worst to batter the Welsh coast in 15 years.

Emergency services rescued four people from a flooded farm in Llanbedr near Barmouth, north-west Wales, the river Severn burst its banks in Gloucestershire for the second day running and a pregnant woman was rescued after 30 properties were flooded in Cardigan, mid-Wales. Part of the sea wall behind the Landmark theatre in Ilfracombe collapsed because of the storms.

The coastal surge in recent days has tested over 3,000km of flood defences in England.

Trains have also suffered disruption with services in west Wales and from Newport and Bristol to the south coast affected by the weather. There were also delays at the Port of Dover because of force five winds.

The environment secretary, Owen Paterson, warned that more bad weather was on the way and said he had chaired a meeting of all government departments to ensure all the necessary preparations were in place.

“Our flood defences have worked very well and have protected 205,000 homes at risk,” he said.

“I’d like to thank the Environment Agency, local councils, public utilities and emergency services who have worked tirelessly over the last week. I’d also like to thank soldiers from 36 Engineer Regiment and 2 Royal Gurkha Rifles who have helped to fill additional sandbags today in Kent.”

Paterson also urged those in risk areas to sign up to Environment Agency warnings and heed any advice that was issued.

However, the government’s flood-control strategy has been criticised after it emerged that an estimated 1,700 jobs are to be axed at the Environment Agency, with 550 staff from the floods team to go.

Paterson said frontline flood defences would be protected after the EA’s chief executive Paul Leinster said risk maintenance would be “impacted” and work on flood warnings would “have to be resized”.

Leslie Manasseh, the deputy general secretary of trade union Prospect, has called on the government to stop the cuts.

“Last week David Cameron praised Environment Agency staff for doing an amazing job with the floods and extreme weather. It’s typical that as soon as there is a crisis, the politicians immediately turn to the specialists and professionals with the scientific knowledge and skills to step in and protect the public,” he said.

UK braced for more storms and floods | UK news | theguardian.com

UK braced for more storms and floods | UK news | theguardian.com.

Flooding in Maidstone

Flooding in Maidstone, Kent: about 1,000 homes in south-east and south-west England have been flooded and at one stage 300,000 properties were without power. Photograph: Matthew Aslett/Demotix/Corbis

Weather forecasters are warning that more storms could cause further significant flooding in parts of southern England on Thursday as more than 10,000 properties remain without power.

About 1,000 homes in south-east and south-west England have already been flooded and at one stage 300,000 properties in the south-east, the east of England and London had no electricity as bad weather threw many people’s Christmas celebrations into chaos.

The Met Office said widespread gales were likely to develop late during Thursday night or in the early hours of Friday morning bringing gusts of more than 50mph inland and of 70mph to 80mph to some coastal areas and high ground. On Thursday morning, the Environment Agency had 83 flood warnings in place, the bulk of them in the south-east (37), south-west (16), and the Midlands (18).

A Met Office spokesman said: “The public should be aware of the potential for disruption, especially where the high winds are combined with heavy rainfall.”

He said a deep area of low pressure developing over the Atlantic Ocean would bring more wet and windy weather across the UK as it tracked north-eastwards past north-western Britain later on Thursday and during Friday.

“Peak winds are thought most likely to occur during the early hours of Friday and Friday morning with the highest gusts probably being over Irish Sea coastal areas,” he said.

There was some consolation as he said the likely impact was presently thought to be “less severe” relative to other recent storms to have hit the UK.

The Energy Network Association said 13,000 properties remained without power on Thursday morning after 50,000 had no supplies on Christmas Day.

UK Power Networks, which delivers power to about 8 million customers in the south-east, the east of England and London, said that by Thursday morning there were around 8,000 without power in the area.

The director of customer services, Matt Rudling, said: “All our efforts today remain fully focused on reconnecting power supplies in the quickest way possible. Extra staff are on duty, many of whom have cancelled their leave to help with the repair effort or to join our additional call centres. We know this is a very difficult time for our customers and we want to thank them for their understanding.”

The bad weather also hampered the annual Christmas getaway. Some of the most chaotic scenes were at Gatwick airport, where a power outage at its north terminal led to more than 35 cancellations and long delays. Police stepped in to calm angry passengers. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has said it may launch an investigation into the problems, which came two months after flights were hit by an earlier storm.

A CAA spokesman said: “We need to know exactly what happened at the airport. Once we have that information we can decide if there is any further action we need to take.”

The airport said heavy rain caused flooding from the River Mole into airfield substations and the north terminal.

 

European countries reel from deadly storms – Europe – Al Jazeera English

European countries reel from deadly storms – Europe – Al Jazeera English.

Deadly hurricane-force winds and torrential rain have brought havoc to transport networks Britain and France.The death toll rose to at least six people on Tuesday, as winds of up to 145kph hit both sides of the Channel with heavy downpours causing flooding, traffic jams, and cancellations of rail, flight and ferry services.

Aidan McGivern, a meteorologist, told Al Jazeera people were preparing themselves for more bad weather.

Analysts expect the storms to hurt retailers eager to cash in on the traditional Christmas rush [EPA]

In Britain, the number of people killed in two days of storms rose to at least five after a man died trying to rescue his dog from fast-flowing waters in Devon, southwest England.

A teenager died in France on Monday after a wall collapsed on him.

Airports in southern England were disrupted, with some flights from Britain’s busiest airport, Heathrow, cancelled or delayed.

Britain’s second busiest airport, Gatwick, said one terminal had been hit by a major power outage on Tuesday and storm damage had temporarily cut all trains to the airport.

Several hundred passengers were stranded at the airport and airport police had to be called in to help deal with angry passengers.

British train operators cancelled hundreds of services on Tuesday morning, by which time the storm had abated, leaving hundreds of thousands of people scrambling to get on to later services in and out of London.

Thousands without power

Brittany and Normandy were among the regions worst hit in France, where 240,000 homes lost electricity, while in southern England, 150,000 homes were cut off from the power grid, the Energy Networks Association said.

Energy company Southern Electric said that some customers would be without power on Christmas Day.

McGivern told Al Jazeera another storm was expected to strike on Friday.

“That is expected to bring another spell of wet and windy weather,” he said.

IHS analyst Howard Archer said the weather was expected to hurt British retailers, eager to cash in on the traditional pre Christmas rush.

“Given retailers’ hopes that the last couple of days before Christmas would see a final strong surge in sales, the awful weather could not have come at a worse time,” Archer said.

 

Vince Cable: interest rates may have to rise to combat housing boom | Business | theguardian.com

Vince Cable: interest rates may have to rise to combat housing boom | Business | theguardian.com.

Vince Cable<br />

Vince Cable has again called for the government to rethink its help to buy scheme. Photograph: David Cheskin/PA

The business secretary, Vince Cable, has warned that interest rates may have to rise to constrain a “raging housing boom” in London and the south-east.

Speaking on BBC1’s Andrew Marr Show, he said if interest rates were not increased by the Bank of England, there was a danger that large parts of London could be inhabited only by foreigners and bankers as house prices spiralled.

He added that, on the other hand, if interest rates were increased it would have a negative impact on UK manufacturing since exchange rates would rise, making exports harder.

It is the first time Cable has spoken so openly about the possibility of interest rates rising due to the imbalance in the economic recovery.

He again called for the government to rethink its Help to Buy scheme, which he said was conceived in entirely different circumstances. He also hinted strongly he did not want to follow the Conservative path on spending cuts after the election in 2015, saying the social fabric was under strain.

Cable said: “There is a raging housing boom in London and the south-east, and not in other parts of the country. The danger of raising interest rates is that you hit those parts of the country which are not yet fully recovered, you push up the exchange rate and that hits manufacturing. We don’t want that. On the other hand, if you do not increase interest rates – if that is the way the governor and the Bank of England go – then this boom that is taking place in housing prices gets out of control and the only people that can afford to live in large parts of London are foreigners and bankers, and we don’t want that either.”

He said the government needed to look again at the Help to Buy scheme, which involves government backing for mortgages so that buyers do not have to provide such a large deposit, saying “it was conceived in very different circumstances”.

Cable also said he noted the rating agency Standard & Poor’s hadreaffirmed the UK’s AAA rating, but had expressed concerns about imbalance in the UK economy.

He said: “We have got to have a sensible balance on public spending cuts – which is getting very severe. Some very good services are now being seriously affected.”

 

Pipeline Decisions Based on Short-Term Payoffs Are Dangerously Irrational | David R. Miller

Pipeline Decisions Based on Short-Term Payoffs Are Dangerously Irrational | David R. Miller.

Last week, Lorraine Mitchelmore, the top Canadian executive for Royal Dutch Shell, broke with industry narrative, stating that “the argument for environmentalism is not an emotional argument. It is just as rational as the argument for growing our energy industry.”

There is an important underlying realization in Mitchelmore’s statement that some conservative pundits, as well as our own government, seem to willfully miss. Sustainability — smart environmental decision-making — has everything to do with prosperity. It has everything to do with people’s jobs and their quality of life, with the opportunities they want for their kids. It is, in fact, the rational decision to carefully steward, protect, and invest in the natural capital on which our communities and future livelihoods depend.

What is dangerously irrational is making decisions based on short-term economic pay-offs that we know will undermine our future prosperity, perhaps catastrophically.

This is exactly what the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline threatens to do. Our government is apparently determined to move unprocessed diluted bitumen by tanker through the Great Bear Sea, which by Environment Canada’s own assessment, is one of the most treacherous sea passages in the world. No one can guarantee that there will not be an accident. Indeed, given the extremely dangerous waters of the Hecate Strait, it is rational to argue that an accident is simply a matter of time. And as two recent reports point out — one commissioned by the Province of B.C. and the other by the Federal government — Canada is woefully ill-prepared to deal with an oil spill in these waters.

What is at risk is very clear. Just talk to the people who live in this region, and they will tell you. It’s their jobs — the fishing and tourism industries — and their cultural identity. And it’s the spectacular ecosystem upon which all of that depends. A place that is as unique a global treasure as the Great Barrier Reef or the Amazon rainforest. It is no wonder that so many Canadians exercised their democratic rights by participating in the review process for this project. More than 9,500 people wrote to the Joint Review Panel, 96 per cent against the pipeline. The overwhelming majority of the 1,000+ people who provided oral testimony were also opposed. There is no question that the concerns raised by this project are the legitimate concerns of Canadians who value their livelihoods.

The real question is why we would take such a huge risk in such a special place.

If the answer is “to defend jobs”, it is misguided and misleading. More jobs will be destroyed by an oil spill than will be created by Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline. Coastal First Nations’ traditional territories and coastal communities depend economically on the Great Bear Sea. Marine-dependent activities in these territories represent significant economic value. B.C. seafood and tidal recreational fishing generate $2.5 billion per year – and support more than 30,000 jobs. Exporting raw, unprocessed bitumen creates far more jobs outside Canada than it does here.

It is also irrational to repeat mistakes that we now have the knowledge and ability to avoid.

A generation ago, the Exxon Valdez ran aground and foundered, off the coast of Alaska. The resulting oil spill was an ecological, economic and social disaster that crippled coastal communities and deprived a generation of its livelihoods. The loss of the herring fishery alone cost the economy $400 million. Many communities have not yet fully recovered. In fact, some never will.

It’s a fate that we have the power to prevent in the Great Bear region, by pragmatically acknowledging that the risks of this proposed oil pipeline outweigh the benefits.

Yes, the argument for environmentalism is a rational one. For the people whose lives would be destroyed by an oil spill, it is also an emotional one. And for Canada, particularly at this moment, it is the one that will determine our future as global leader or laggard.

This article originally appeared in the Financial Post on Dec. 17, 2013

 

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