Conspiracy of Banks Rigging States Came With Crash

May 18 (Bloomberg) — A telephone call between a financial adviser in Beverly Hills and a trader in New York was all it took to fleece taxpayers on a water-and-sewer financing deal in West Virginia. The secret conversation was part of a conspiracy stretching across the U.S. by Wall Street banks in the $2.8 trillion municipal bond market.

The call came less than two hours before bids were due for contracts to manage $90 million raised with the sale of West Virginia bonds. On one end of the line was Steven Goldberg, a trader with Financial Security Assurance Holdings Ltd. On the other was Zevi Wolmark, of advisory firm CDR Financial Products Inc. Goldberg arranged to pay a kickback to CDR to land the deal, according to government records filed in connection with a U.S. Justice Department indictment of CDR and Wolmark.

West Virginia was just one stop in a nationwide conspiracy in which financial advisers to municipalities colluded with Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co., Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., Wachovia Corp. and 11 other banks.

They rigged bids on auctions for so-called guaranteed investment contracts, known as GICs, according to a Justice Department list that was filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan on March 24 and then put under seal. Those contracts hold tens of billions of taxpayer money.

California to Pennsylvania

The workings of the conspiracy — which stretched from California to Pennsylvania and included more than 200 deals involving about 160 state agencies, local governments and non- profits — can be pieced together from the Justice Department’s indictment of CDR, civil lawsuits by governments around the country, e-mails obtained by Bloomberg News and interviews with current and former bankers and public officials.

“The whole investment process was rigged across the board,” said Charlie Anderson, who retired in 2007 as head of field operations for the Internal Revenue Service’s tax-exempt bond division. “It was so commonplace that people talked about it on the phones of their employers and ignored the fact that they were being recorded.”

Anderson said he referred scores of cases to the Justice Department when he was with the IRS. He estimates that bid rigging cost taxpayers billions of dollars. Anderson said prosecutors are lining up conspirators to plead guilty and name names.

“This will go on for a long time and a lot of people will be indicted,” he said in a telephone interview.

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Denied Entry

Israel Blocks Noam Chomsky from Entering West Bank to Deliver Speech

Chomsky-dn

On Sunday afternoon, Noam Chomsky was stopped by Israeli border guards at the Allenby Bridge border crossing from Jordan. After over three hours of questioning, Chomsky’s passport was stamped with “Denied Entry.” He was scheduled to deliver a lecture at Bir Zeit University near Ramallah and was scheduled to meet with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. No reason was initially given for the decision, but the Interior Ministry later told Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz that officials were now trying to get clearance from the Israel Defense Forces. Noam Chomsky joins us now from Amman, Jordan. [includes rush transcript]

WATCH OR LISTEN HERE

(starts about 11 minutes into the program)

Detroit police kill seven-year-old child

Detroit police shot and killed a seven-year-old girl during an early morning raid of a home on the city’s east side Sunday morning. The child, Aiyana Stanley Jones, was struck in the head and neck area while sleeping on a couch at the home on Lillibridge Street.

In a Sunday morning press conference Assistant Police Chief Ralph Godbee said police were executing a “no-knock” search warrant for a homicide suspect in the two-apartment home. He said the police—members of the heavily armed Special Response Team—threw a flash grenade through an unopened window around 12:45 a.m. before charging in with guns drawn.

Godbee claimed the policeman’s gun discharged after he “had some level of physical contact” with the girl’s 47-year-old grandmother, Mertilla Jones. The police were not categorizing the shooting as accidental yet, Godbee said, “although we don’t believe the gun was discharged intentionally.”

Charles Jones, father of the slain girl, said he rushed from a back bedroom to see his mother being pushed through the door and another police officer carrying his bleeding daughter from the house. “They came into my house with a flash grenade and a bullet,” Jones told the Detroit News. “They say my mother (Mertilla Jones) resisted them, that she tried to take an officer’s gun. My mother had never been in handcuffs in her life. They killed my baby and I want someone to tell the truth.”

The young father added, “I want this story to be heard. This was a wrongful death.”

Mertilla Jones, who was arrested at the scene and released Sunday, told the Detroit News, “They blew my granddaughter’s brains out. They killed her right before my eyes. I seen the light go out of her eyes.” She denied police claims she had a physical confrontation with the cops, telling WXYZ-TV, “I never touched none of them. No one gave them any struggle. My grandbaby is gone. The Detroit police killed my granddaughter.”

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Now independent thinkers are considered diseased by psychiatry

(NaturalNews) Psychiatrists have been working on the fourth revision of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) and, in it, they hope to add a whole slew of new psychiatric disorders. Unfortunately, many of these disorders are merely differences in personality and behavior among people.

The new edition may include “disorders” like “oppositional defiant disorder”, which includes people who have a pattern of “negativistic, defiant, disobedient and hostile behavior toward authority figures.” Some of the “symptoms” of this disorder including losing one’s temper, annoying people and being “touchy”.

Other “disorders” being considered include personality flaws like antisocial behavior, arrogance, cynicism or narcissism. There are even categories for people who binge eat and children who have temper tantrums.

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Genetically modified crops failing worldwide

The Green Revolution — a misleading name applied by PR firms to the onset of globalized, chemical-intensive, industrial agriculture that is anything but friendly to the environment — is coming unraveled around the world, bringing devastation to farmers from the plains of China to the plains of America.

It was revealed last week that China is dealing with an explosive infestation of the formerly inconsequential mirid bug in its orchards and cotton fields. The bug’s population exploded as a result of widespread planting of cotton that had been genetically altered to be resistant to the bollworm, formerly cotton’s worst enemy. Cotton farmers stopped spraying insecticides, since their plants shrugged off the bollworms, and thus allowed other insects, especially the mirid bug, to multiply without interference.

According to a study published last week by Kongming Wu at the State Key Laboratory for Biology of Plant Diseases and Insect Pests in Beijing (reported by Reuters), the mirid bug is now laying waste to orchards and cotton fields in at least six provinces in Northern China, affecting 10 million farmers. Controlling one pest, as chemical companies boast frequently that they have discovered how to do, inevitably unleashes others in a cascade of unintended consequences. The lesson in this case, according to Wu, is that “We have to study the whole ecosystem.” Indeed.

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Control Freaks Targeting The Internet

Control Freaks Targeting The Internet

By JAY AMBROSE
Syndicated columnist

Published: Monday, May 10, 2010 at 4:01 a.m.

Oh, my word, what a phenomenon it is, this Internet, this miraculous world of easily accessed information and opinions, as full of energy as democracy itself, the result of literally millions of contributory hands, a two-edged sword like any powerful technology, but an amazing tribute to what a free people can do when given a chance.

So how much longer are we going to put up with all of this?

Ask Professor Cass Sunstein, something of a phenomenon himself, a here-there-and-everywhere intellectual who also happens to be President Obama’s regulation czar, and he’ll concede good points about this communications wonder before telling you why it is we need some reforms, voluntary if possible. Yes, he will say, we should first try to do this without coercion. But he is very afraid.

What he mostly fears is how people use the Internet to focus overly much on what most interests them, sometimes neglecting other areas of knowledge and often linking up with those who are like-minded, so that they then don’t get exposed to contrary views, are to some extent cut off from the community at large and don’t learn about other issues and events that matter to their lives.

Emerging from all of this is isolation, balkanization, conspiracy theories, ugly, untrue rumors and worse. And the answers, Sunstein says, with various hints of intervention if it’s finally needed, are more self-supervision, links on some of these blog sites to blog sites with different takes on public affairs and government subsidies for public Web sites.

Where to start in response? Maybe with the observation that even the most extreme blogs usually cite contrary opinions as a starting point for voicing their own? Maybe with noting that most of those involved in these blogs are probably more curious than the average person not involved in them? Maybe with the observation that while the Internet amplifies some ways in which we the people behave, the issue of some of us being ignorant and mean antedates the Internet? Maybe that college faculties tend to be collections of the politically like-minded, that most professors are specialists and that more than a few have bragged to me that they do not read newspapers?

OK, Sunstein is not now prescribing some ironclad set of Internet regulations. But – as some Internet searching reveals – some members of the House are indeed proposing a law that would imprison people for harassment or causing “emotional distress” through hostility-preaching Internet transmissions, thereby taking his ideas to a scary denouement.

The proposed language I’ve seen – and I have not read every word of any proposed bill – is loose enough to stick lots of ordinary people in the clinker for speaking out, and my conclusion is pretty simple: These representatives are a greater threat to America than any blogger not clearly encouraging outright hate and violence.

These representatives – and people like Sunstein – are control freaks who do not believe the world can possibly progress to anything decent without their impositions, forgetting that one of the greatest development in human history was allowing sufficient freedom to unleash the ingenuity of the masses and that the one of the worst developments has been interventions that cut off the possibilities for truth to find sunlight and that crush something crucial in the human spirit.

Sunstein is an interesting guy. While I think his ideas about the right of people to sue on behalf of animals, ending government recognition of marriage and a couple of others are wacky. And while I find disturbing his seeming conviction that something like absolute truth is to be found in the social sciences, I also think some of his ideas sound and that intellectual provocateurs of his stripe can be socially valuable.

The thing that bothers me is that he is chief of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, a very powerful fellow.

Jay Ambrose, formerly Washington director of editorial policy for Scripps Howard newspapers and the editor of dailies in El Paso, Texas, and Denver, is a columnist living in Colorado. He can be reached at SpeaktoJay@aol.com.

Where to start in response? Maybe with the observation that even the most extreme blogs usually cite contrary opinions as a starting point for voicing their own? Maybe with noting that most of those involved in these blogs are probably more curious than the average person not involved in them? Maybe with the observation that while the Internet amplifies some ways in which we the people behave, the issue of some of us being ignorant and mean antedates the Internet? Maybe that college faculties tend to be collections of the politically like-minded, that most professors are specialists and that more than a few have bragged to me that they do not read newspapers?

OK, Sunstein is not now prescribing some ironclad set of Internet regulations. But – as some Internet searching reveals – some members of the House are indeed proposing a law that would imprison people for harassment or causing “emotional distress” through hostility-preaching Internet transmissions, thereby taking his ideas to a scary denouement.

The proposed language I’ve seen – and I have not read every word of any proposed bill – is loose enough to stick lots of ordinary people in the clinker for speaking out, and my conclusion is pretty simple: These representatives are a greater threat to America than any blogger not clearly encouraging outright hate and violence.

These representatives – and people like Sunstein – are control freaks who do not believe the world can possibly progress to anything decent without their impositions, forgetting that one of the greatest development in human history was allowing sufficient freedom to unleash the ingenuity of the masses and that the one of the worst developments has been interventions that cut off the possibilities for truth to find sunlight and that crush something crucial in the human spirit.

Sunstein is an interesting guy. While I think his ideas about the right of people to sue on behalf of animals, ending government recognition of marriage and a couple of others are wacky. And while I find disturbing his seeming conviction that something like absolute truth is to be found in the social sciences, I also think some of his ideas sound and that intellectual provocateurs of his stripe can be socially valuable.

The thing that bothers me is that he is chief of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, a very powerful fellow.

Jay Ambrose, formerly Washington director of editorial policy for Scripps Howard newspapers and the editor of dailies in El Paso, Texas, and Denver, is a columnist living in Colorado. He can be reached at SpeaktoJay@aol.com.

Found at newschief.com