Economics

Gotta get Guinea goodies: Aluminum pursuit sparks AFRICOM covert op for African resource control

A strange NBC series called E-Ring, which produced 22 episodes that aired in 2005, exalted narratives of American military adventurism and featured Dennis Hopper. I only saw episode #5, "Weekend Pass," in which as Wikipedia says, "Two US Marines are accused of raping a young local woman in Suriname. JT immediately jumps to action only to find opposition from senior staff. The United States doesn't want to jeopardize aluminum interests controlled by the Surinamese government. He must navigate the political maze to discern the truth and try to save the soldiers' lives."

The other aspect of the episode was how a military coup in Suriname made a mess of things -- a lot of dialogue about who would end up controlling the bauxite mines was at the center of the story. A coup inside the Suriname 'made nice' with the Pentagon and promised to have elections later.

This show jumped to mind when I read the post on WayneMadsenReport.com about a coup in Guinea along similar lines: December 18-20, 2009 -- AFRICOM helped engineer attempted assassination of Guinean leader - Wayne Madsen Report

WMR's African sources report that the group of Guinean army officers who attempted to assassinate Guinea's President, Captain Moussa Dadis Camara, were operating under orders of U.S. Special Forces assigned to the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) and French military intelligence personnel. Camara seized power in a coup in December 2008 after the death of Guinea's President Lansana Conte.

Camara was flown to Morocco for medical treatment after the unsuccessful assassination attempt. Guinean junta spokesman Idrissa Cherif accused the Sarkozy government in France of being behind the assassination attempt.

Camara's aide, Lieutenant Aboubacar Sidiki Diakite, fled to a safe house in Guinea after shooting Camara. Diakite reportedly worked closely with U.S. Special Forces and French military intelligence in planning the assassination of Camara.

Camara had, according to our sources, signed a deal with China for that nation to take over bauxite mining contracts from U.S. and French companies with the promise that China would refine bauxite into aluminum by building a factory in Guinea. The Americans and French had exported the bauxite to smelters abroad. The offer of the Chinese to smelter bauxite in Guinea with the promise of well-paying jobs for the impoverished nation, was too much for France and the United States and the "hit" on Camara, using assets in the Guinean military loyal to Washington and Paris, was authorized and coordinated jointly by U.S. and French forces stationed in west Africa.

******

This type of special operations affair is obviously not in America's national interests, but it is in the interest of corporatists that have performed what some call 'regulatory capture.'

AFRICOM was feared by many as a new way to run a resource control gendarme force in Africa, and schemes of this exact structure are to be expected first and foremost.

Official site: United States African Command (AFRICOM). More: Resist AFRICOM, allAfrica.com: Africa: Obama Moves Ahead With Africom (Page 1 of 3), Think Again: Africom | Foreign Policy, Say No to Africom, Foreign Policy in Focus | Congress Challenges AFRICOM. Etc.

UN crime chief Costa says it again: banks bailed out by now "laundered" drug money

There was a quip about this a while ago, now it is more established. Posted in full cause it's a big deal.... via Agonist .

These people are criminals!

Drug money saved banks in global crisis, claims UN advisor

Drugs and crime chief says $352bn in criminal proceeds was effectively laundered by financial institutions

Drugs money worth billions of dollars kept the financial system afloat at the height of the global crisis, the United Nations' drugs and crime tsar has told the Observer.

Antonio Maria Costa, head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, said he has seen evidence that the proceeds of organised crime were "the only liquid investment capital" available to some banks on the brink of collapse last year. He said that a majority of the $352bn (£216bn) of drugs profits was absorbed into the economic system as a result.

This will raise questions about crime's influence on the economic system at times of crisis. It will also prompt further examination of the banking sector as world leaders, including Barack Obama and Gordon Brown, call for new International Monetary Fund regulations. Speaking from his office in Vienna, Costa said evidence that illegal money was being absorbed into the financial system was first drawn to his attention by intelligence agencies and prosecutors around 18 months ago. "In many instances, the money from drugs was the only liquid investment capital. In the second half of 2008, liquidity was the banking system's main problem and hence liquid capital became an important factor," he said.

Some of the evidence put before his office indicated that gang money was used to save some banks from collapse when lending seized up, he said.

"Inter-bank loans were funded by money that originated from the drugs trade and other illegal activities... There were signs that some banks were rescued that way." Costa declined to identify countries or banks that may have received any drugs money, saying that would be inappropriate because his office is supposed to address the problem, not apportion blame. But he said the money is now a part of the official system and had been effectively laundered.

"That was the moment [last year] when the system was basically paralysed because of the unwillingness of banks to lend money to one another. The progressive liquidisation to the system and the progressive improvement by some banks of their share values [has meant that] the problem [of illegal money] has become much less serious than it was," he said.

The IMF estimated that large US and European banks lost more than $1tn on toxic assets and from bad loans from January 2007 to September 2009 and more than 200 mortgage lenders went bankrupt. Many major institutions either failed, were acquired under duress, or were subject to government takeover.

Gangs are now believed to make most of their profits from the drugs trade and are estimated to be worth £352bn, the UN says. They have traditionally kept proceeds in cash or moved it offshore to hide it from the authorities. It is understood that evidence that drug money has flowed into banks came from officials in Britain, Switzerland, Italy and the US.

British bankers would want to see any evidence that Costa has to back his claims. A British Bankers' Association spokesman said: "We have not been party to any regulatory dialogue that would support a theory of this kind. There was clearly a lack of liquidity in the system and to a large degree this was filled by the intervention of central banks."

*****

Thanks Costa!!

Linktastic: more climate change email lolz, even FORTRAN comment LOLZ, financial meltdowns & more

In this season of thanks, we can always give thanks for leaks and lols. I really hate Secret Treaties. Secret Treaties Suck!!! Especially absurd copyright treaties.

The FDIC Is Broke - The Market Ticker. Oh noes! A coverup is needed immediately says Mishkin!

A hell of a story: Noted FBI provocateur Brandon Darby and a bullshit Grand Jury and some snarky emails. Epic trolling, the Feds being dumb, and a huge amount of taxpayer dollars wasted. "These days will eventually end and will be seen as the modern McCarthy era for the next generation." Amazing!

Climate Email explosion still a LOL: In a nutshell, Project Mayhem spells it out: Global warming exposed as UN-funded fraud, or rather, at a minimum a lot of people are being very shady, now caught with hands inthe ol cookie jar. Goldman Sachs 666 notes the skrilla to be made by these guys. Al Gore “laying low” in Canada. Get a sunspot widget @ Widget « Watts Up With That?

The funniest part is the comments in the FORTRAN code, of course!! GO FORTRAN CLIMATE CONSPIRACY. [UPDATE: A great Reddit thread on the code ] CRU Emails “may” be open to interpretation, but commented code by the programmer tells the real story « Watts Up With That?

Climate Alarmists Finally Admit The Debate Is Not Over

Debt explosion: even the NYT is worried about government debt. AKA the avalanche.

Facebook spying against beer!! And in LaCrosse no less!! Facebook friend turns into Big Brother

Librarian win: Library is pressed to take gang force report off Web | StarTribune.com - but they won't!! Legislative Reference Library rocks.

MOAR secrecy: New Executive Order Aims to Avoid Declass Deadline | Secrecy News. UK genetic data mining insanity and DNA sampling!! YUCK.

Misc file: The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press is cool.

Wobblies in Palestine!

A Proposal For Goldman Sachs: Pay Down $21.2 Billion In TLGP Borrowings Using Your $20 Billion+ Bonus Accrual | zero hedge

Sibel Edmonds' Boiling Frogs Post | Home of the Irate Minority is cooking up the goodz.

Priceless photos of JFK, Bush found under Fort Worth bridge.

Investigative journos' Book looks good: but the page is inside some app. Weird.

Techs: HOW TO: Make Social Media Work for Non-Consumer Brands and Mashable jobs too. ALso 5 Important Tips for Successful Web Meetings.RIP Joost

Murdoch to go away. Nice!!!Murdoch: Take Your Google Ball and Go Home.l After Being Out Foxed On The Web, MySpace May Do An About Face(book) | Nifty: Trefis Makes Understanding Stock Prices Easy.

A random video on Freemasons. If that's your thing.

Unbelievably horrible acid burns against women in Pakistan. This is the most awful thing ever pretty much, very graphic disturbing & kudos for the people involved in documenting it.

Weak: Obama Plans 34K More Troops for Afghanistan -- News from Antiwar.com AND t r u t h o u t | McChrystal Testing the Limits

Minneapolis IRV: Via e-democracy fora: Some pitch saying Instant Runoff (aka Ranked Choice Voting 'cause it sure ain't instant) should get chucked out but others don't buy it. The MN Supreme Court was pretty clear... [Also, Guardian Angels on the Greenway with their weird Masonic iconography?]

Wicked Chicago cops busted but you don't know who they are? Because why should anyone find out? 2 Chicago officers punished after G-20 photo probe - KRDO.com

CHICAGO (AP) - A Chicago police spokesman says two high-ranking officers have been reprimanded after a video surfaced that showed officers posing with a handcuffed suspect at the G-20 meeting in Pittsburgh.

Police began investigating after video of the September incident began circulating on the Internet. In the video, more than a dozen officers in riot gear pose for a photo with the suspect kneeling in front of them.

Police spokesman Roderick Drew said Tuesday that a department chief and a commander were reprimanded. He declined to identify the officers or say how or why they were punished.

A lawyer for the detained man, a 21-year-old university student, has said his client was wrongly detained while returning to campus from a pizza parlor.

Modestly amusing: My Glenn Beck Pie Toss Flop | Mobile Broadcast News

Student uprisings in California and elsewhere: It was interesting to follow what is happening in CA with a 30%+ hike in costs sparking unrest on many campuses. This essay was pretty good in reflecting on how stylish New York City (white) anarchists must be at all times - and the exclusionary identities therein. Inside the UC Occupations Guerilla Film Screening: Everything Belongs to Everybody : Indybay.

Stuff in Greece got blowed up - a lot is going on there too, see Antiauthoritarian Movement :: Gallery :: Εκρηκτικός μηχανισμός στην ΑΚ
MOAR: Local crazies! Today I came face to face with a Rush Limbaugh fan who had stepped over the edge - Democratic Underground

Cancer is a racket? Hell I don't know but YouTube - G Edward Griffin, World without Cancer part 1 of 6 and Cancer Home Page. Earlier, a popular post on hongpong: Canadian discovers hemp oil cures cancer... hoax or another typical moment in the pharma-industrial-death complex?
Why do greasy Republicans think they are having a revolution? Right wing gatekeeper revolutionary vanguardism is narsty. Patty pat!
CBS is going all stoner: Mom: Marijuana Helps My Son's Autism - The Early Show - CBS News

Catherine Fitts on Alex Jones: financial disorder, global government, laundered drug money & etc

Previously: Negative Return on Investment Economy: Katherine Austin Fitts and the fake war on drugs
Katherine Fitts on Alex Jones, I grabbed this post off dprogram.net which is a sturdy little new aggregator site. Nicely done everyone... The world divided into the pro-centralization and anti-centralization teams, attack poodles, etc.

Making fun of Eric Holder not able to keep a straight face when announcing a new hopeless financial crimes task force, talking drug money in part 2, etc etc. A good overview of her older stuff as well... Fitts is without a doubt one of the best on the case -- see Solari.com for a much better financial schema than the establishment crime/inflation/Federal Reserve/Wall Street configuration.
http://dprogram.net/2009/11/19/video-catherine-austin-fitts-on-alex-jone...

Former managing director and member of the board of directors of the Wall Street investment bank Dillon, Read & Co. and commissioner to the Department of Housing and Urban Development in the first Bush Administration, Catherine Austin Fitts.

http://solari.com/

Part 1 of 4

Part 2 of 4

Part 3 of 4

Part 4 of 4


MORE: Narcodollars for Beginners

Video with Peter Schiff: A black hole called Federal Reserve

I got a kick out of this video and the funny animations. It's all about the mysterious black hole called the Federal Reserve System. Gotta love it! Just posted yesterday:


Additionally, the landscape of ruined houses in the first couple shots caught my notice. I'll explain why later...

Carbon Market+Sun=FAIL? Sunspot Maunder Minimum vs. 'global warming,' bad for Alliance for Climate Protection 'mass persuasion exercise': How about dem sunspots??!

Another Little Ice Age? Solar activity and climate change - Ars Technica:

Some scientists are suggesting that the slow return to a more active phase of the solar cycle may portend a general decline in solar activity. If sunspots shut down, does that mean that we could stop worrying about climate change?

Over the weekend, a paper published in the American Geophysical Union's journal Eos attracted a lot of attention, as it suggested that the levels of magnetic activity associated with recent sunspots indicated that the sun might be returning to a state of low activity, similar to that of the Maunder Minimum, which occurred in the late 17th century. That change in solar activity was notable for setting off what's called the Little Ice Age, which plunged Europe into a deep chill. Left undiscussed is what that might mean in a world where greenhouse gas changes are threatening a period of extended high temperatures.

To understand how a significant change in sunspot levels might be felt in the Earth's climate, we'll back up and look at how sunspots relate to solar output, how that output gets felt on Earth, and how it interacts with changing levels of greenhouse gasses. The answer appears to be that it could reverse the climate change that occurred during past century, but would only delay the changes expected by the end of this century.

And the grand weather guy of Minnesota, Paul Douglas, weighs in with a reference: MinnPost - Paul Douglas: Picture postcard perfect:

Maybe it's because summer was so amazing. Yes, it was a couple degrees cooler than average (I blame the damn sunspots, or lack thereof) but we still had a blast.

Douglas goes on to restate that he's big on climate change, but the reference stands. A worthy question: Are climate change deniers like creationists? | The Agonist. Couldn't resist, I proceed to rattle teh cage on the thread:

At the risk of getting in trouble, has anyone had a cold summer? We sure have here. Some people are saying that the roughly 11-year sunspot cycle is becoming much quieter than usual.
While atmospheric CO2 measurement is a recent development (altho of course we can get ice cores for now), sunspot observation has been going on for centuries. Interestingly, the Little Ice Age corresponded to a period of very low sunspot activity, with the Hudson River in NY/NJ and the Thames freezing over for extended periods. (Some other people theorize that it was because an oceanic current loop halted for a while.)
Anyway it seems to me that CO2 is a coefficient for trapping heat. OK. It is not as effective by weight as many other pollutants/components of the atmosphere but it certainly has an effect.
However there are basically three thermal inputs to the whole system. One is the level of solar energy and the other would be whatever geothermal heat bleeds out of the earth's core. (a moderate amount but whatever steam you see coming off a hot spring is part of this). The third would be the heat generated by civilization itself. (not the CO2)
Sooo... if it's true that the sunspots and thermal-type solar energy are linked, then that would seem to be a way bigger deal to the whole system than the CO2 level. People were wigging out about global cooling in the '70s and also proposing overarching powerful political structures to react to the problem.

If people were presented a clear mathematical model considering the sunspot & solar side as well as the atmospheric coefficients then that seems like it would be more intellectually honest than the current PR campaign which seems to be a policy agenda oriented exclusively around carbon.
Check out this lil gem from the Internet Wayback Machine on the Alliance for Climate Protection site: (It's been deleted for some time, but I found it awesome when I spotted it originally):

Our Mission

Americans have always risen to meet the most important challenges to our nation’s and the world’s future. Our mission is to persuade the American people — and people elsewhere in the world – of the importance and urgency of adopting and implementing effective and comprehensive solutions for the climate crisis. The Alliance for Climate Protection is undertaking an unprecedented mass persuasion exercise based on scientific facts.

Through a new combination of non-partisan alliances with Americans from all walks of life and innovative and far-reaching communication techniques the Alliance will focus on presenting the facts about climate change and its solutions to the general public in an accurate, clear and compelling manner.

Americans have always risen to meet the most important challenges to our nation’s and the world’s future. Together, we can address the climate challenge domestically and provide a robust economy for now and for our children.

Say what you will about Darwin, he didn't have a bunch of PR flacks doing an 'unprecedented mass persuasion exercise,' which frankly is Rendon Group-style jargon.
And also I don't see how you can measure carbon I/O on farms -- it would take a whole staff of Goldman Sachs minions to figure out how much to pay for one farm, which appears to be precisely the whole idea of 'carbon trading.'
Matt Taibbi nailed how the almighty Carbon Market is going to Suck: The Great American Bubble Machine : Rolling Stone

And instead of credit derivatives or oil futures or mortgage-backed CDOs, the new game in town, the next bubble, is in carbon credits — a booming trillion dollar market that barely even exists yet, but will if the Democratic Party that it gave $4,452,585 to in the last election manages to push into existence a groundbreaking new commodities bubble, disguised as an "environmental plan," called cap-and-trade.

The new carboncredit market is a virtual repeat of the commodities-market casino that's been kind to Goldman, except it has one delicious new wrinkle: If the plan goes forward as expected, the rise in prices will be government-mandated. Goldman won't even have to rig the game. It will be rigged in advance.

...... The feature of this plan that has special appeal to speculators is that the "cap" on carbon will be continually lowered by the government, which means that carbon credits will become more and more scarce with each passing year. Which means that this is a brand new commodities market where the main commodity to be traded is guaranteed to rise in price over time. The volume of this new market will be upwards of a trillion dollars annually; for comparison's sake, the annual combined revenues of all electricity suppliers in the U.S. total $320 billion.

Goldman wants this bill. The plan is (1) to get in on the ground floor of paradigmshifting legislation, (2) make sure that they're the profitmaking slice of that paradigm and (3) make sure the slice is a big slice. Goldman started pushing hard for cap and trade long ago, but things really ramped up last year when the firm spent $3.5 million to lobby climate issues.

......[Buying into renewables...] is convenient, considering that Goldman made early investments in wind power (it bought a subsidiary called Horizon Wind Energy), renewable diesel (it is an investor in a firm called Changing World Technologies) and solar power (it partnered with BP Solar), exactly the kind of deals that will prosper if the government forces energy producers to use cleaner energy. As Paulson said at the time, "We're not making those investments to lose money."

The bank owns a 10 percent stake in the Chicago Climate Exchange, where the carbon credits will be traded. Moreover, Goldman owns a minority stake in Blue Source LLC, a Utahbased firm that sells carbon credits of the type that will be in great demand if the bill passes. Nobel Prize winner Al Gore, who is intimately involved with the planning of cap-and-trade, started up a company called Generation Investment Management with three former bigwigs from Goldman Sachs Asset Management, David Blood, Mark Ferguson and Peter Harris. Their business? Investing in carbon offsets. There's also a $500 million Green Growth Fund set up by a Goldmanite to invest in greentech … the list goes on and on. Goldman is ahead of the headlines again, just waiting for someone to make it rain in the right spot. Will this market be bigger than the energyfutures market?

"Oh, it'll dwarf it," says a former staffer on the House energy committee.

Well, you might say, who cares? If cap-and-trade succeeds, won't we all be saved from the catastrophe of global warming? Maybe — but cap and trade, as envisioned by Goldman, is really just a carbon tax structured so that private interests collect the revenues. Instead of simply imposing a fixed government levy on carbon pollution and forcing unclean energy producers to pay for the mess they make, cap-and-trade will allow a small tribe of greedy-as-hell Wall Street swine to turn yet another commodities market into a private taxcollection scheme. This is worse than the bailout: It allows the bank to seize taxpayer money before it's even collected.

"If it's going to be a tax, I would prefer that Washington set the tax and collect it," says Michael Masters, the hedge fund director who spoke out against oil futures speculation. "But we're saying that Wall Street can set the tax, and Wall Street can collect the tax. That's the last thing in the world I want. It's just asinine."

Cap-and-trade is going to happen. Or, if it doesn't, something like it will. The moral is the same as for all the other bubbles that Goldman helped create, from 1929 to 2009. In almost every case, the very same bank that behaved recklessly for years, weighing down the system with toxic loans and predatory debt, and accomplishing nothing but massive bonuses for a few bosses, has been rewarded with mountains of virtually free money and government guarantees — while the actual victims in this mess, ordinary taxpayers, are the ones paying for it.

NZ Cellphone racket! LOL This article officially censored in New Zealand: Revealed: Vodafone's secret deal with 2degrees

In a stunning surprise, apparently the New Zealand mobile phone system is a complete racket, wherein grumpy ministers set the pay rate and thereby influence the balance of corporate power. Or something.

In any case, New Zealand's version of the Man officially censored this article about the stupid hustle upon which people's cellphone billing rests. It's interesting because it just shows how arbitrary determinations are used to control the market, particularly telecommunications.

Plus, this sort of censorship is exactly the thing that is lame about British Commonwealth nations and law. The truth should be an absolute defence against libel or in this case arbitrary censorship.

The rights of the Press is inscribed on the First Amendment around here partly because the Brits love to BS about stuff like this! Everyone knows it's a hustle, but they get extra powers to gag people. Saudi prince type guys abuse British press law all the damn time and get away with it.

They need to erase this article because there is no free market cell phone system in New Zealand. Boooo hoooo....

WIKILEAKS! Censored story from the National Business Review of New Zealand on Vodafone interconnection deal, 5 Aug 2009
"This is the text to a National Business Review (nbr.co.nz) article written by Chris Keall, detailing a secret interconnection deal ordered by former Labour Minister of Communications, David Cunliffe, between Vodafone New Zealand and mobile operator 2 Degrees.
The file contains information that directly affects public policy (telecommunications regulation). However, the regulator, the New Zealand Commerce Commission, has used its powers under section 100 of the Commerce Act to suppress the story, and have ordered New Zealand media not to publish any details of the deal. NBR was forced to take down the story as a result of this state censorship.
The New Zealand public that needs to know how telecommunications industry regulation is done."

Revealed: Vodafone’s secret deal with 2degrees
Wednesday August 5 2009 - 03:02pm

In November 2008, in the dying days of the last Labour government, communications and IT minister was determined to clear the path for 2degrees’ launch.

A source says that at the climax of discussions, a fed up Mr Cunliffe gave Vodafone just more hour to reach a mobile termination rate agreement with 2degrees - or face a fresh investigation on the issue from the Commerce Commission (mobile termination rates - MTR - are what one telco pays another when a call terminates - is received - on another’s network).

The two mobile operators duly stitched up an MTR agreement, which has remained confidential ever since - to the infuriation of Vodafone, which has maintained that 2degrees has complaining loudly about MTR, while in reality knowing it was in line for sweetheart rates.

The source says that at the time, “2degrees thought the deal was the best thing since sliced bread”. Yet, to Cunliffe’s dismay, the new carrier failed to launch by the end of the year. And when National came to power, 2degrees saw the chance to push its MTR luck further.

The Commerce Commission - which under the new government is investigating MTR a third time, regardless of Mr Cunliffe’s promise (again, to Vodafone’s chagrin) - has told NBR it has no issue with the deal being made public.

However, 2degrees said no dice. “We respect the confidentiality of our agreements,” said head of corporate communications Bryony Hilless.
Terms revealed

Now, NBR has obtained the terms of the secret MTR deal.

There are three key elements.

One, Vodafone gives 2degrees a “new entrant” discount of around 33%.
For mobile-to-mobile calls, Vodafone charges other telcos 15 cents a minute, but 2degrees will only have to pay 10.75 cents per minute.
For txt, Vodafone’s MTR is 9.13 cents per message. 2degrees is charged 6.25 cents.

The second element is asymmetry: 2degrees will pay 10.75 cents a minute. But when as call terminates on Vodafone’s network, it will pay 2degrees the full whack: 15 cents. The same applies to txt, with Vodafone paying 146% of 2degrees’ rate.

The third is that MTR is charged by the second, from the first second - which, says one source, makes it pretty rich that 2degrees charges by the minute.

Vodafone wants the Commerce Commission - which has so far based its MTR sums on Vodafone’s headline rate - to take its 2degrees deal into account when weighing whether market termination rates are competitive.

The commission recently recommended that MTR be reduced to 7.2 cents per minute immediately for voice calls, and 3.8 cents per txt, with a series of further cuts through to 2015. A review and consultation process is now underway, with communications minister Steven Joyce likely to make a decision on the matter in the New Year.
Many independent observers, including Tuanz, representing 500 corporate customers, have strongly backed the commission’s call for voice MTR of 7.5 cents or below.
For its part, Telecom has challenged all carriers to agree to a voice MTR of 7 cents a minute - though by 2015, rather than immediately as the commission is angling.

Thanks to Rose for finding my phone! Plus: I'm starting a design company!

I nearly had a horrible day today, leaving my trusty old Helio phone on a bench at the University of Minnesota mall. A good samaritan named Rose picked it up and called the Boiler Room coffee shop back after I tried the phone. I got it back! Thanks a ton, Rose, you saved yet another messy situation from befalling me.

What happened?!

It's been a strange July! I parted ways with my job of four years & change @ Politics in Minnesota as a staff writer and Web Editor. We were really at the top of our game, which is as good as anything you might hope for. The PoliticsMN Twitter account hit 4000 followers right when I left! And I'll leave it at that.

What about the car?!

That was its own dramatic tale. It involved a savage journey somewhere near the heart of the American dream. I still need to get sent the photos.

What are you doing next?!

I am setting up a design and web development company!

For a long time I have fixed up Macs, developed Drupal themes and other websites, edited video, done various tweaks and twists on technical stuff, but I never tried to establish a proper company to marshall this stuff under one roof -- because of course, that means getting a solid business operation together.

I've spent a bit of time in corporate America and a long time working for smaller businesses, as well as a really nice time at a temporary gig developing at Macalester College's development office after I graduated. (I picked up enough ASP.net / C# / Oracle to get the job done pretty quickly, thanks to Lloyd's really solid training, and other skills as well.)

Overall it has been a productive experience, and I've come to know a lot of talented and cool people all over the place -- many of them, small business proprietors of their own. If these people can do it, I can do it. I'm feeling pretty much ready to get stuff going on my own -- if it doesn't work, it doesn't work.

I've got a good feeling about this, though, because...

Demand exceeds supply for Drupal skills!

drupal-centroamerica.jpg

[Photo at right © Xamanu]
The really good news is that Drupal demand is growing rapidly, much faster than the availability of Drupal developers, coders and themers. Drupal has really delivered well, and it seems to have a sunny future that's attracting a giant global community of good talent.

Drupal has the benefit of being more versatile and modular than most other content systems, so it's easily extended for different types of websites. It's overkill for a regular blog, but if you want to get complex, have social media type functions (for example, making Facebook clones), then Drupal is really what you want.

Who the hell uses Drupal anyway?

Hmm... Recovery.gov, the New York Senate, the Emmys, Foreign Affairs magazine, the Australian prime minister, USAspending.gov, businesses like Dogfish Head brewery, this crazy Open Atrium thing, About Zappos, Wellstone Action!, Dutch and French government portals, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Radio Netherlands Worldwide, MIT Media Lab, IFRA, the global newspaper industry association, and yes, even Britney Spears!!

Also, the all-important core private team at Acquia is getting venture capital infusions. Much like RedHat put the legs under Linux in the wobbly early days, Acquia has the fancy high-end services and community-friendly engine to advance Drupal over its main rivals, Wordpress and Joomla on the CMS end, as well as the various PHP frameworks that let you develop your sites more from scratch.   

OK, that seems fairly plausible!

Yes, it mainly consists of working through design gigs and running Quickbooks. Unlike in the physical economy, there's actually more than enough aggregate demand to keep things rolling. That, my friends, is not too bad.

The late great Robert Nichols, a $250 billion Treasury Note, the Octopus Wiki (all your Iran-Contra/PROMIS style tiebacks) and Main Core, to boot

In a popular culture that has gotten more sympathetic to conspiracies, things that nagged at us out on the shady Internets have been shot into the mainstream in a weird way lately - it seems people like Glenn Beck and Michele Bachmann are "gatekeeping" around very weird stories -- they inject a bunch of crazy spin to some very strange, but real, facts, leaving a messy ideological wreckage behind, leaving existing small Internet communities of thoughtful observers dazed and confused...

(the leading recent example here would be how Alex Jones tried to raise alarm about the "FEMA Camp" federal paperwork and policies out there, and Bachmann and Beck parachuted in and made it all seem crazy, which caused the documentation-driven alarm from Jones to get totally overrun with nonsense. Not that Jones' analytic framework is necessarily good all the time - but in this case it was substantive).

But no one like Beck or Bachmann will stir up the loose change left behind by Danny Casolaro or the Octopus. You can bet on it.

*****

One of the great figures in the whole Iran-Contra/BCCI/Savings&Loan scandal complex mix was Danny Casolaro, a journalist who got into what he called the Octopus. Casolaro was abruptly murdered by someone like Oliver North's henchmen, or something roughly along those lines.

A new Octopus tentacle, which happens to match pretty well with an old one, washed up dead in Switzerland. Robert Nichols' name goes right back through everything, and it matches nicely the latest turn -- sadly, he turned up dead in February. From there, it gets into the Original Big Murky Ink Cloud.

One angle to this whole thing is that corrupt and powerful people can sometimes obtain really awesome letters of credit from government entities, and stash them away. The notes can then be used to build new financial instruments and complex frauds - Al Martin's book The Conspirators (almartinraw.com) had a bunch of stuff about the Bush family doing this in the 1980s.

So it made a very certain sense to me when I caught this story - off a site that seems to be run by Casolaro's daughter (or someone else whose parent was murdered in the broader Iran Contra/Octopus mix). Haters of the Federal Reserve, check it out!

$250 Billion Treasury Note Cloaked in Mystery – Evades Public Scrutiny | Desertfae

It all started with a Bloomberg News article entitled “Bayou’s Israel Cheated in Scam,” published on July 15, 2008 by court reporters David Glovin and Bob Van Voris.http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601127&sid=aLCwdJsx0V3M&refer=law

The article talked about Samuel Israel of Bayou Management Group LLC being cheated by Robert Booth Nichols, “who in a 1993 lawsuit claimed to have worked for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency for 20 years. Nichols was also the target of a 1987 probe by the Federal Bureau of Investigation of organized crime in the entertainment industry,” wrote Bloomberg.

An excerpt of the article read as follows: “As Samuel Israel grew desperate to raise money in 2004 to save his Bayou Group LLC hedge fund firm, he turned for help to a Hawaii man who promised a windfall and then conned him out of $10 million, said a U.K. investigator.

“Robert Booth Nichols cheated Israel, later convicted in his own $400 million theft, in a ‘prime bank’ fraud, a scheme used by con-artists promising quick riches in secret markets, the U.K. investigator said in a document filed in June in federal court in New York. U.S. prosecutors seeking to recover funds for Bayou investors won a British judge’s ruling in November freezing $1 million Nichols held there, and they may be pursuing millions more in Singapore, Nichols’s lawyer said.

Robert Booth Nichols, 65, denied wrongdoing and sought to retain the $1 million in London. He said in court papers that he helped Israel invest in a legitimate, though unspecified “project” involving U.S. government obligations. Nichols said he had no reason to believe Israel was engaged in fraud.

“He was asked to find something, and he found it,” Nichols’s lawyer, Joseph Bainton, told Bloomberg, declining to elaborate. “There are very few people capable of performing this service, for which he was paid a lump sum of $10 million.

Nichols said in court papers that he believed the investment was on behalf of Israel personally, that Nichols was told his services involved matters of national interest,” and that a first cousin of President G. W. Bush, John P. Ellis, vouched for the legitimacy of the transaction. Nichols said the deal required him to contact representatives of foreign governments that he knew, according to court documents.

Nichols’ lawyer told Bloomberg that Mr. Ellis attended some meetings and gave Mr. Nichols some assurance with respect to the approval of the United States. Ellis worked at GH Venture Partners in 2004, according to Nichols’ court documents.

The criminal case is U.S. v. Israel, 05cr1039, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

The bankruptcy case is In re Bayou Group LLC, 06-22306, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District New York (White Plains).

The missing link in the above story is the $250 Billion Treasury Note secured by 2,500 metric tons of gold at the Atlanta Federal Reserve, Serial Number SC 3040-20. Robert Booth Nichols’ lawyer described this to Bloomberg as an unspecified “project” involving U.S. government obligations. However, the reporters had no knowledge at the time they wrote the story that the “project” for which Nichols was paid $10 million allegedly involved Nichols locating and obtaining the Treasury Note for Samuel Israel and depositing it at the London Safe Deposit Box Company Ltd. http://londonsafedeposit.co.uk/

Yumz. Now we are getting somewhere. Christopher Story (Worldreports.org) also talked a lot about this certain raid against the London safe deposit boxes - the idea is that several months ago the London Metropolitan Police raided a huge bunch of safe deposit boxes, and these boxes contained all sorts of weird items, blackmail, leverage, the shadow wealth of a bunch of players who believed themselves untouchable.

But London Metro managed to take their stuff, and thereby actually, roughly speaking, damaged a huge chunk of the shady "intelligence power" as Mr Story likes to call it.

So that is one side... i will leave it there for now. Wayne Madsen had stuff on it too.

Anyway the Desert Fae blog has a lot of backstories like for example the Frank Sinatra mob stuff - Dr Nichols is showing up at the Cabazon Indian Reservation in the 1980s (Cabazon was where, according to the great Iran Contra Octopus tapestry, they were hacking PROMIS backdoors, something about weird weapons and the Contras, it was quite a classic set of data points that you find, when you go looking....)

Meanwhile running attached is The Octopus Wiki! Not too shabby!! It sort of suggests that major drug cartels and the Italian mob are subsets or sub-pathways of the Octopus. From the Wiki front page, just a few of the angles you need to nibble at:

The Inslaw Affair

Danny Casolaro, Michael Riconosciuto, Robert Booth Nichols, and others were mentioned rather prominently in the final House of Representatives Report #102-857 released to the public on September 10, 1992. The Investigative Report, put together by the Committee on the Judiciary headed by Senator Jack Brooks of Texas, entitled “The Inslaw Affair,” summarized a three year investigation into the theft of the PROMIS software from Bill and Nancy Hamilton, owners of Inslaw Corporation in Washington D.C. (The investigators who handled the three-year probe were listed on the Report as James E. Lewin, Chief Investigator, and John D. Cohen, Investigator.)

As a result of media exposure, Inslaw’s owners, Bill and Nancy Hamilton, had received information which subsequently led them to believe that the Department’s actions were part of a high level conspiracy within Justice to steal the “enhanced” version of PROMIS.

Inslaw alleged that former Attorney General Edwin Meese and Deputy Attorney General Lowell Jensen forced Inslaw into bankruptcy by intentionally creating a sham contract dispute over the terms and conditions of the contract which led to the withholding of payments due Inslaw by the Department.

Two federal court judges and the House Judiciary Committee ultimately concluded that “the United States Department of Justice‎ acted willfully and fraudently” and “took, converted and stole” Inslaw’s enhanced PROMIS software by “trickery, fraud and deceit.”

EXCERPTED from High Times Magazine, August 2001 issue, Vol. No. 313 – Title of article: "The Ghost ofDanny Casolaro.” [3]

“ --- Danny Casolaro's tragic death essentially opened a Pandora's Box which the DOJ was never able to close. During the last week of his life, Danny had discovered a connection between Mike Abbell, a former director of international affairs for the Justice Department, the Cali Drug Cartel, and Robert Booth Nichols, an international intelligence operative whom he had been interviewing extensively for months. Danny's last phone bills indicated he'd spent hundreds of hours on the phone with Nichols, most of the calls averaged one to two hours. This in effect, was one tentacle of the Octopus.

“Danny had confronted Nichols about Mike Abbell and the Cali Cartel while staying in Martinsburg. It was the last conversation Danny ever had with Nichols, and with Bob Bickel, a friend whom Danny confided in. Bickel subsequently confirmed the conversation, but for reasons unknown, the Abbell - Cali Cartel connection was never published in any of the official investigative reports on Danny's death. These included the DOJ report of September 27, 1994.

“In fact, a note handwritten by Danny four days before his death, found by relatives, read as follows: ‘Bill Hamilton - August 6. MR … also brought up 'Gilberto.’ Unknown to anyone outside the DOJ at that time, a [secret]FBI investigation of Mike Abbell was underway at the time of Danny's death. Years later, an indictment unsealed in Miami on June 6, 1995 charged Abbell with laundering money for the Cali Cartel. Surveillance reports indicated he'd made frequent visits to the home of Gilberto Rodriguez, leader of the Cali Cartel in Bogota, Columbia.

Top notch.

PROMIS was originally Prosecutor's Management Information System - early in the era, it seems to have been a kind of nice IT case management system that would let the suits tie into various government databases. According to reams of odd stuff out there (yet never definitively presented to the American public) it got stolen from INSLAW and mutated by the CIA and other assorted lunatics. (American intelligence sold a backdoor'd PROMIS to the RCMP and the Mounties were fucking pissed when they found out - I want Dan Aykroyd to play the Mountie boss in the film.)

From there PROMIS sort of seems to morph into a magic skeleton key into all types of data mining - by extending its ability to probe around into all government databases.

It seems too much the handy conspiracy program: It sort of plays like a MacGuffin or other placeholder "program that all the players have, to dominate reality in bizarre and invisible ways." There's no other program out there in the Internet conspiracy world I know of that compares to PROMIS. But I don't get what that means!

The idea from Chris Ketcham is that PROMIS became extended into MAIN CORE, the master NSA program that was spun out of DARPA's Total Information Awareness effort. Check this out - it does have the areas about "Continuity of Government" -- which is often an odd kind of logistical code or cipher for hardcore martial law, it seems, especially in the REX84 era (also Operation Sledgehammer, and Ollie North's Civilian Labor Inmate Facility [CLIF] proposal) --- myahhh I'm getting caught up in keywords now.

Check the Ketcham article for how MAIN CORE grew from PROMIS:   The Last Roundup : Information Clearing House - ICH

More goods:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Core
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article19871.htm
http://digitizedrevolution.wordpress.com/2008/05/23/christopher-ketcham-the-last-roundup-2/
(great google ads at the end of this one ^ )
http://harpers.org/archive/2008/05/hbc-90002972
http://cryptogon.com/?p=2590

Excerpt of Wayne Madsen: http://www.waynemadsenreport.com/articles/20090508

May 8-10, 2009 -- Was Clan Bush involved in looting of other Federal Reserve Banks?

There is additional information to report on the Treasury Note that is secured by $250 billion in gold (2500 metric tons) at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. After the sudden resignation of New York Federal Reserve Bank Chairman Stephen Friedman, a one-time top economic adviser to President George W. Bush and someone who apparently profited from the government's bailout of Goldman Sachs while he served as both Chairman of the New York Fed and as a board member for Goldman Sachs, the entire Federal Reserve Bank system appears to be involved in a massive ploy to loot the United States of its gold and cash reserves.

On May 5, 2009, WMR reported: "According to WMR's sources, the FBI and London police are working together on a case that involved a $250 billion U.S. Treasury Note seized by the FBI from a London safety deposit box company, London Safe Deposit Company, Ltd. The box was reportedly placed at the London firm by self-described 20-year CIA veteran Robert Booth Nichols, who reportedly died in Geneva, Switzerland on February 14, 2009.

A heart attack was believed to have been the cause of death but there was a blow to Nichols's head. A 'friend' of Nichols, a New York stockbroker who was reportedly helping Booth move a large sum of cash, bonds and gold in Geneva, arranged for a quick cremation of Nichols's body and the U.S. embassy in Bern was notified. ........

Well, consider yourself educated at least in a few classic slices of Octopus lore, and how, in theory, they fit into the modern NSA panopticon. That's the damn thing about these freakkin conspiracies:

the same people pop up over and over and over. It's really fuckin' annoying.

New hybrid flu annoys me - shady business with engineered viruses all over the place

Here's the fucked-up thing: it is damn near impossible for nature to recombine a lot of things, frequently. Certainly nature is constantly messing around, but it can't make a huge batch of a special three-part influenza hybrid. The odds are astronomical.

But now we've got these research labs making all the hypothetical possible flu combinations, so that they can, perhaps, have vaccine lines ready to go.

So all you gotta do to market your product is spill it on some buses in Mexico City, or whatever.

I'm ticked off about this. Some damn links.
step 1: don't open those live mashup packages from Baxter Where does anyone draw the dang line about 'bio weapons proliferation'???? Remember "bio-weapons"? Where did that concept slip off to - oh yes, we left it behind the beakers in the Bio-business lab. and yes the fabulous Illinois company, Baxter, with its spiffy special patented vaccine dev setup, is going to step up and research what's going on.
http://www.chicagobreakingnews.com/2009/04/baxter-to-pursue-swine-flu-vi... except they sent out the hot stuff before - along with the other cultures you'd want to make a mix
http://www.opednews.com/articles/Still-Think-They-re-Not-Tr-by-Mr-M-0903...

scientists find it an obvious brew - AP
http://www.prisonplanet.com/medical-director-swine-flu-was-cultured-in-a...
Bloomberg: "New version" excellent choice of words
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=avEHg48g1qUg&refer=home
National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza
http://www.pandemicflu.gov/plan/federal/stratergyimplementationplan.html

Right now, i am watching Red Dawn. hehe - the soviet spectres of doom come drifting thru the air, like a virus...
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