Fascism is the union of government with private business against the People.
"To The States, or any one of them, or to any city of The States: Resist much, Obey little; Once unquestioning obedience, at once fully enslaved; Once fully enslaved, no nation, state, city, ever afterward resumes its liberty." from "Caution" by Walt Whitman

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

2011-08-31 "Rick Perry's secret plan to save blue states from the red states; The Texas governor's states-first approach would overwhelmingly benefit Democratic areas" by Robert Reich

Robert Reich, a professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley, was secretary of labor during the Clinton administration.
Of all the nonsense Texas Governor Rick Perry spews about states’ rights and the 10th amendment, his dumbest is the notion that states should go it alone. “We’ve got a great Union,” he said at a Tea Party rally in Austin in April 2009. “There’s absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that.”
The core of his message isn’t outright secession, though. It’s that the locus of governmental action ought to be at the state rather than the federal level. “It is essential to our liberty,” he writes in his book, Fed Up! Our Fight to Save America from Washington, “that we be allowed to live as we see fit through the democratic process at the local and state level.”
Perry doesn’t like the Federal Reserve Board. He hates the Internal Revenue Service even more. Presumably if he had his way taxpayers would pay states rather than the federal government for all the services and transfer payments they get.
This might be a good deal for Texas. According to the most recent data from the Tax Foundation, the citizens of Texas receive only 94 cents from the federal government for every tax dollar they send to Washington.
But it would be a bad deal for most other red states. On average, citizens of states with strong Republican majorities get back more from the federal government than they pay in. Kentucky receives $1.51 from Washington for every dollar its citizens pay in federal taxes. Alabama gets back $1.66. Louisiana receives $1.78. Alaska, $1.84. Mississippi, $2.02. Arizona, $1.19. Idaho, $1.21. South Carolina, $1.35. Oklahoma, $1.36. Arkansas, $1.41. Montana, $1.47, Nebraska, $1.10. Wyoming, $1.11. Kansas, $1.12.
On the other hand, fiscal secession would be a boon to most blue states. The citizens of California – harder hit by the recession than most – receive from Washington only 78 cents for every tax dollar they send to Washington. New Yorkers get back only 79 cents on every tax dollar they send in. Massachusetts, 82 cents. Michigan, 92 cents. Oregon, 98 cents.
In other words, blue states are subsidizing red states. The federal government is like a giant sump pump – pulling dollars out of liberal enclaves like California, New York, Massachusetts, and Oregon – and sending them to conservative places like Montana, Idaho, Oklahoma, Arizona, Wyoming, Kansas, Nebraska, and the Old South.
As a practical matter, then, Rick Perry’s fight to save America from Washington is really a secret plan to save blue states from red states.
Perry, it turns out, is a closet liberal.
2011-08-31 "Inside the Spy Unit That NYPD Says Doesn't Exist" by ADAM GOLDMAN and MATT APUZZO from "Associated Press"
Working with the CIA, the New York Police Department maintained a list of "ancestries of interest" and dispatched undercover officers to monitor Muslim businesses and social groups, according to new documents that offer a rare glimpse inside an intelligence program the NYPD insists doesn't exist.
The documents add new details to an Associated Press investigation that explained how undercover NYPD officers singled out Muslim communities for surveillance and infiltration.
The Demographics Unit, a squad of 16 officers fluent in a total of at least five languages, was told to map ethnic communities in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut and identify where people socialize, shop and pray.
Once that analysis was complete, according to documents obtained by the AP, the NYPD would "deploy officers in civilian clothes throughout the ethnic communities."
The architect of this and other programs was a veteran CIA officer who oversaw the program while working with the NYPD on the CIA payroll. It was an unusual arrangement for the CIA, which is prohibited from spying inside the U.S.
After the AP report, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the NYPD has kept the city safe and does not take religion into account in its policing. The NYPD denied the Demographics Unit exists.
"There is no such unit," police spokesman Paul Browne said before the first AP story ran. "There is nothing called the Demographics Unit."
Internal police documents show otherwise. An NYPD presentation, delivered inside the department, described the mission and makeup of the Demographics Unit. Undercover officers were told to look not only for evidence of terrorism and crimes but also to determine the ethnicity of business owners and eavesdrop on conversations inside cafes.
A police memorandum from 2006 described an NYPD supervisor rebuking an undercover detective for not doing a good enough job reporting on community events and "rhetoric heard in cafes and hotspot locations."
How law enforcement agencies, both local and federal, can stay ahead of Islamic terrorists without using racial profiling techniques has been hotly debated since 9/11. Singling out minorities for extra scrutiny without evidence of wrongdoing has been criticized as discriminatory. Not focusing on Muslim neighborhoods has been equally criticized as political correctness run amok. The documents describe how the nation's largest police force has come down on that issue.
Working out of the police department's offices at the Brooklyn Army Terminal, the Demographics Unit maintained a list of 28 countries that, along with "American Black Muslim," it considered "ancestries of interest." Nearly all are Muslim countries.
Police used census data and government databases to map areas it considered "hot spots" as well as the ethnic neighborhoods of New York's tri-state area, the documents show.
Undercover officers known as "rakers" — a term the NYPD also denied existed — were then told to participate in social activities such as cricket matches and visit cafes and clubs, the documents show.
Police had a list of "key indicators" of problems. It included obvious signs of trouble such as criminal activity and extremist rhetoric by imams. But it also included things commonly seen in neighborhoods, such as community centers, religious schools and "community bulletin boards (located in houses of worship)."
Rakers were also used to monitor neighborhood sentiment. After CIA drone attacks in Pakistan for instance, current and former officials said, undercover officers would move through Pakistani neighborhoods to listen for angry rhetoric or anti-American comments.
At least one lawyer inside the police department has raised concerns about the Demographics Unit, current and former officials told the AP. Because of those concerns, the officials said, the information gathered from the unit is kept on a computer at the Brooklyn Army Terminal, not in the department's normal intelligence database. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the intelligence programs.
The AP independently authenticated the NYPD presentation through an interview with one official who saw it and by reviewing electronic data embedded in the file. A former official who had not seen the presentation said the content of the presentation was correct. For the internal memo, the AP verified the names and locations mentioned in the document, and the content is consistent with a program described by numerous current and former officials.
In an email Tuesday night, Browne disputed the AP's original story, saying the NYPD only follows leads and does not simply trawl communities.
"We do not employ undercovers or confidential informants unless there is information indicating the possibility of unlawful activity," Browne wrote.
That issue has legal significance. The NYPD says it follows the same guidelines as the FBI, which cannot use undercover agents to monitor communities without first receiving an allegation or indication of criminal activity.
After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the CIA sent a respected veteran officer, Lawrence Sanchez, to New York, where he worked closely with the NYPD. Officials said he was instrumental in creating programs such as the Demographics Unit and met regularly with unit supervisors to guide the effort. After a two-year rotation in New York, Sanchez took a leave of absence, came off the agency's payroll and became the NYPD's second-ranking intelligence official. He formally left the agency in 2007 and stayed with the NYPD until last year.
The CIA recently dispatched another officer to work in the Intelligence Division for what officials described as a management sabbatical. A U.S. official familiar with the NYPD-CIA partnership said Sanchez's time in New York was a unique assignment created in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. But the official said the current officer's job was much different and was an opportunity for him to learn from an organization outside the CIA.
Both the CIA said and the NYPD have said the agency is not involved in domestic spying and said the partnership is the kind of counterterrorism collaboration Americans expect.
The NYPD Intelligence Division has unquestionably been essential to the city's best counterterrorism successes, including the thwarted plot to bomb the subway system in 2004. Undercover officers also helped lead to the guilty plea of two men arrested on their way to receive terrorism training in Somalia.
"We throw 1,200 police officers into the fight every day to make sure the same people or similarly inspired people who killed 3,000 New Yorkers a decade ago don't come back and do it again," Browne said earlier this month when asked about the NYPD's intelligence tactics.
The Demographics Unit had officers who spoke Arabic, Bengali, Hindi, Punjabi and Urdu, according to the police presentation. The undercover officers were divided into teams based on ethnicity. Arab officers could blend into Arab neighborhoods and Southwest Asian officers, those from Pakistan and Afghanistan, could more easily blend into those neighborhoods.
Rep. Yvette Clarke, a Democrat who represents much of Brooklyn and sits on the House Homeland Security Committee, said the NYPD can protect the city without singling out specific ethnic and religious groups. She joined Muslim organizations in calling for a Justice Department investigation into the NYPD Intelligence Division. The department said it would review the request for an investigation.
Clarke acknowledged that the 2001 terrorist attacks made Americans more willing to accept aggressive tactics, particularly involving Muslims. But she said Americans would be outraged if police infiltrated Baptist churches looking for evangelical Christian extremists.
"There were those who, during World War II, said, 'Good, I'm glad they're interning all the Japanese-Americans who are living here,'" Clarke said. "But we look back on that period with disdain."
View the NYPD documents: http://bit.ly/q5iIXL and http://bit.ly/mVNdD8
2011-08-31 "Where Have You Gone Jack Welch? CEO Pay Rises While Stature Fades" by Daniel Gross
The Institute for Policy Studies released a report Wednesday that shows many large companies pay more to CEOs in compensation than they did in corporate income taxes to the federal government in 2010.
Of the 100 top paid CEOs, 25 of them earned more than their companies' tax bill, including the CEOs of Bank of New York Mellon, Verizon, eBay, GE and Boeing. And astonishingly, the report found that the gap between CEO and average U.S. worker pay rose from a ratio of 263-to-1 in 2009 to 325-to-1 last year.
The release of the report has helped contribute to a highly toxic environment for CEOs — worse than I've seen in twenty years of covering business.
Because they are problem solvers, CEOs are frequently welcome in public life. Not now.
Steve Pearlstein, normally mild-mannered Washington Post business columnist, uncorked a scorcher against America's executive class, blaming them for the Tea Party, the debt ceiling debacle, poor infrastructure — everything but Hurricane Irene.
Over the past decade, the main problems they seem to have been working on are increasing their own compensation and reducing the amount of taxes their companies pay. CEOs get paid a lot because they work so hard to deliver for shareholders. But America's shareholders have received a big helping of nothing from public companies in the past decade.
The S&P 500, as this very long-term chart shows [not included], is basically where it was in the fall of 1998. We're frequently told we must be sensitive to CEOs' prerogatives because they're the ones who create jobs. But in July 2001, there were 109.156 million private sector payroll jobs, down from 110.737 million in July 2001. And every time CEOs ask for a specific policy that tells us will enhance growth — like the big foreign earnings tax amnesty in 2004, or financial deregulation — it doesn't quite turn out.
They hold themselves out as the pie enlargers, but eat most of the pieces themselves, leaving everybody else with crumbs. When columnists or politicians point this out, they complain that they're being persecuted.

Quick. Name a widely admired CEO -- besides Apple's Steve Jobs, whose resignation last week caused outpourings of admiration, including from me. Jobs enriched common shareholders who had the foresight to buy shares at $8 in the fall of 2002 hung on for the rise to near $400. And he did it for much of the time while taking home $1 a year in salary. Look at the most recent proxy, and his compensation for each of 2007, 2008, and 2009, was precisely one dollar — no bonus, no options, no nothing.
2011-08-31 "Verizon under pressure to return $800K in funds allegedly taken in Dept. of Education scam" by Ben Chapman
Telecom giant Verizon is under growing pressure to return $800,000 in profits allegedly obtained through accused Education Department swindler Willard Lanham.
Tuesday, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer led a group of elected officials and advocates in calling on the company to return the funds.
"Any company that does business with our city on the scale of Verizon should be a model corporate citizen. You must return the money now," said Stringer.
Verizon is implicated in a city investigation against Lanham, who is accused of bilking the Education Department out of $3.6 million. Lanham was contracted to wire public schools for the Internet.
The telecom giant "facilitated" Lanham's theft, according to an April report by special schools investigator Richard Condon.
The swirling controversy didn't stop the Education Department from this month awarding Verizon a $120 million contract to provide phone and Internet service to city schools.
Verizon spokesman John Bonomo insisted that the company did not participate in Lanham's schemes and said it is willing to return any inappropriate profits.
Education Department spokeswoman Deidrea Miller said the agency is in talks to recover the funds.
"We are currently in discussions with Verizon regarding repayment of the overcharges," said Miller.

Monday, August 29, 2011

2011-08-29 "Kansas Fighting Disclosure of Who Helped Write Abortion Restrictions" by Jessica P.
As part of a crusade to made abortion legal-in-name-only, the Kansas legislature issued a host of new, mandatory restrictive guidelines that all clinics providing abortion services must follow and then gave clinics just a few weeks to comply or lose their licensing. Abortion rights advocates challenged the new restrictions right away and the state of Kansas is fighting back-hard [http://www.kansascity.com/2011/08/27/3104463/kansas-balks-at-disclosing-how.html#ixzz1WKxq4SJN].
Kansas is so intent in outlawing abortion entirely that it is willing to battle over commonplace legislative history requests. Lawyers for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and the attorney general want to prevent two abortion clinics from learning how those rules were crafted and have asked a judge to limit the scope of what information is shared with the clinic’s lawyers.
The discovery dispute is framed at challenging “overly broad” requests for information that the state argues will not lead to relevant evidence. The state has also denied open records requests from both The Kansas City Star and The Associated Press, which asked for similar documents related to the drafting of these rules.
Abortion providers want the opportunity to question Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt and Secretary of Health and Environment Robert Moser about the new rules, including what steps were taken in developing them and who was involved in researching and writing them. They are also asking for records related to meetings and communications between the governor’s office and anti-choice groups Kansans for Life and Operation Rescue.
The state is arguing that legislative immunity protects them from disclosing this information in the context of litigation but have yet to provide a justification for denying the open records request.
Discovery objections are commonplace and typically used in conjunction with a disclosure of information — a party will object to a request to preserve the objection for trial while simultaneously providing the information requested. That is because the standard for what is discoverable in the context of litigation is extremely broad. Here the state’s position is unusually aggressive, suggesting the requests are likely to lead to some damaging information for the state.
The anti-abortion tactics already drew scrutiny when it was disclosed that the state had hired lawyers tied to the infamous Koch Brothers to defend its plan to strip Planned Parenthood of funding, which of course just begs the question of what, or who, is the state trying to hide?

2011-08-29 "Armstrong Williams: “The Wealthy Are A True Minority”" by Robin M.
Somehow, despite being uncovered as a paid shill who in the past has been hired by groups to push their propaganda under the guise of writing columns [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A56330-2005Jan7.html], conservative writer Armstrong Williams is still being given column space to pontificate about the state of the U.S. government. His latest lament? How difficult the rich in this country have it. After all, they have been given the daunting responsibility for caring for a large portion of the country’s wealth, a challenging task indeed.
Armstrong writes [http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/152-uncategorized/178559-the-poor-get-poorer-and-the-rich-get-richer]: “The wealthy are a true minority in the world and are often criticized and ridiculed for their success in spite of the fact that everyone, given the choice, would rather try it rich than continue being poor.” But before you think he is really referring to those hard working, nose to the grindstone rich, he closes his piece by discussing inherited wealth — something that takes no more effort than the fortune to be born into the right family. “I don’t know where it originated, but the cliché ‘the poor get poorer and the rich get richer’ has been in use for some time, implying that the poor will never rise out of poverty. Is this true? Why do people stay mired in poverty while others can pass on generational wealth?”

Is it really the result of hard work not to squander away a fortune, when provided with million dollar annual bonuses or multimillion dollar inheritances? And is it harder work than working two or more jobs in an attempt to bring yourself out of poverty? Plus, doesn’t calling the rich the “true minority” both belittle the struggles of real minorities and place a group of people who are in many ways the most privileged in the world in a status of somehow being victimized?
2011-08-29 "Federal Government Less Popular Than Oil and Gas Industry" by Robin M.
The federal government has reached a level of unpopularity few could have imagined.
It is now less popular than the oil and gas industry.
According to the latest Gallup Polling [http://www.gallup.com/poll/149216/Americans-Rate-Computer-Industry-Best-Federal-Gov-Worst.aspx], only 17 percent of Americans have a positive view of the federal government, compared to 20 percent who have a favorable view of the oil and gas industry. Also down in the bottom of the list were the real estate industry (23 percent), the health care industry (27 percent) and the banking industry (30 percent).
Suddenly, lawyers aren’t looking nearly so bad.
With the majority of the industries that have the most effect on day to day life for most Americans being seen mainly as the enemy — bad governing, high gas prices, bad housing market, skyrocketing medical costs and rising consumer debt — it isn’t surprising at all that fewer that 10 percent of Americans have a favorable view of the economy, as Rasmussen reports [http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/business/indexes/rasmussen_consumer_index/rasmussen_consumer_index]. The big surprise instead is likely just that there are even 9 percent who still do see the economy as good.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

2011-08-28 "Who Runs the World ? – Network Analysis Reveals ‘Super Entity’ of Global Corporate Control" by Michael Ricciardi
In the first such analysis ever conducted, Swiss economic researchers have conducted a global network analysis of the most powerful transnational corporations (TNCs). Their results have revealed a core of 737 firms with control of 80% of this network, and a “super entity” comprised of 147 corporations that have a controlling interest in 40% of the network’s TNCs. [Note to the reader: see the very end of this article for a ranking of the top 50 'control holders']
When we hear conspiracy theorist talk about this or that powerful group (or alliance of said groups) “pulling strings” behind the scenes, we tend to dismiss or minimize such claims, even though, deep down, we may suspect that there’s some degree of truth to it, however distorted by the theorists’ slightly paranoid perception of the world. But perhaps our tendency to dismiss such claims as exaggerations (at best) comes from our inability to get even a slight grip on the complexity of global corporate ownership; it’s all too vast and complicated to get any clear sense of the reality.
But now we have the results of a global network analysis (Vitali, Glattfelder, Battiston) that, for the first time, lays bare the “architecture” of the global ownership network. In the paper abstract, the authors state:
“We present the first investigation of the architecture of the international ownership network, along with the computation of the control held by each global player. We find that transnational corporations form a giant bow-tie structure* and that a large portion of control flows to a small tightly-knit core of financial institutions. This core can be seen as an economic “super-entity” that raises new important issues both for researchers and policy makers.” [emphasis added] * This “bow tie” structure is similar to the structure of the WWW (analyzing for most influential/most trafficked websites); see diagram below.
 Data from previous studies neither fully supported nor completely disproved the idea that a small handful of powerful corporations dominate much or most of the world’s commerce. The researchers acknowledge previous attempts to analyze such networks, but note that these were limited in scope to national networks which “neglected the structure of control at a global level.”
What was needed, assert the researchers, was a complex network analysis.
“A quantitative investigation is not a trivial task because firms may exert control over other firms via a web of direct and indirect ownership relations which extends over many countries. Therefore, a complex network analysis is needed in order to uncover the structure of control and its implications. “
To start their analysis, the researchers began with a list of 43,060 TNCs which were taken from a sample of 30 million “economic actors” contained in the Orbis 2007 database [see end note]. TNCs were identified according to the Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) definition of a transnational corporation [see end note]. They next applied a recursive search algorithm which singled out the “network of all the ownership pathways originating from and pointing to these TNCs.”
The resulting TNC network includes 600,508 nodes and 1,006,987 ownership ties.
In terms of the connectivity of the network, the researchers found that it consists of many small connected components, but the largest one (encompassing 3/4 of all nodes) “contains all the top TNCs by economic value, accounting for 94.2% of the total TNC operating revenue.”
Two generalized characteristics were identified:

1] A strongly connected component (SCC), that is, a set of firms in which every member owns directly and/or indirectly shares in every other member. The emergence of such a structure can be explained as a means of preventing take-overs, reducing transaction costs, risk sharing and increasing trust between “groups of interest.”
2] The largest connect[ed] component contains only one dominant, strongly connected component (comprised of 1347 nodes). This network, like the WWW, has a bow tie structure. What’s more, they found that this component, or core, is also very densely connected; on average, members of this core have ties to 20 other members. “Top actors” occupy the center of the bow tie. In fact, a randomly chosen TNC in the core has about 50% chance of also being among the top holders, as compared to, for example, 6% for the “in” section. [emphasis added]
“As a result, about 3/4 of the ownership of firms in the core remains in the hands of firms of the core itself. In other words, this is a tightly-knit group of corporations that cumulatively hold the majority share of each other.”
In examining the details of this core, the analysis also showed that only 737 top holders accumulate 80% of the control over the value of all TNCs (in the analyzed network). Further,
“…despite its small size, the core holds collectively a large fraction of the total network control. In detail, nearly 4/10 of the control over the economic value of TNCs in the world is held, via a complicated web of ownership relations, by a group of 147 TNCs in the core, which has almost full control over itself. The top holders within the core can thus be thought of as an economic “super-entity” in the global network of corporations.” [emphasis added]
Concerning the implications of this super entity, the researchers asked two fundamental questions: First, what are the implications for market competition, and, second, what are the implications for economic stability?
Regarding the first question, the authors  assert that no matter the origin of the SCC, due to its high degree of TNC network control, “it weakens market competition”.
It is clear just from the history of anti-trust laws in this country (the U.S.) that concentrated ownership stifles free market competition and innovation, reduces over-all employment, and leads to excessive pricing.
In regards to the second question, the researchers note that “the existence of such a core in the global market was never documented before and thus, so far, no scientific study demonstrates or excludes that this international ‘super-entity’ has ever acted as a bloc.“
However, there is historical data — such as within the airline, auto and steel industries — supporting this possibility.
“…top holders are at least in the position to exert considerable control, either formally (e.g., voting in shareholder and board meetings) or via informal negotiations.”
Additionally, recent studies (Stiglitz J.E., 2010, Battiston S. et al, 2009) have shown that densely connected financial networks are highly susceptible to systemic risk. Despite the fact that such networks may seem robust in good economic times, in times of crisis however, member firms tend to enter ‘distress mode’ simultaneously. This was seen recently in the 2008 (“near”) financial collapse (note: 3/4 of the network core in this analysis are financial intermediaries).
Calling their findings “remarkable”, they suggest that because “international data sets as well as methods to handle large networks became available only very recently, [this] may explain how this finding could go unnoticed for so long.”
While the researchers acknowledge that verifying whether the implications of their findings “hold true for the global economy” is beyond the scope of their current research, they assert that their unprecedented attempt to uncover the structure of corporate control is “a necessary precondition for future investigations.”
The paper, The network of global corporate control (Vitali, Glattfelder, Battiston) was published July 26, 2011, on arXiv.org

End Notes:
The Orbis 2007 marketing database [http://www.orbisglobal.com/] comprises about 37 million economic actors, both physical persons and firms located in 194 countries, and roughly 13 million directed and weighted ownership links (equity relations).  This data set is intended to track control relationships rather than patrimonial relationships. Whenever available, the percentage of ownership refers to shares associated with voting rights. Accordingly, we select those companies which hold at least 10% of shares in companies located in more than one country. Overall we obtain a list of 43,060 TNCs located in 116 different countries, with 5675 TNCs quoted in stock markets.
The definition of TNCs given by the OECD [http://www.oecd.org/] states that they “…comprise companies and other entities established in more than one country and so linked that they may coordinate their operations in various ways…”

Diagrams: (source) The network of global corporate control (Vitali, Glattfelder, Battiston) [http://arxiv.org/abs/1107.5728]
Strongly Connected Component (SCC); layout of the SCC (1318 nodes and 12,191 links). Node size scales logarithmically with operation revenue, node color with network control (from yellow to red). Link color scales with weight.

A bow-tie consists of in-section (IN), out-section (OUT), strongly connected component or core (SCC), and tubes and tendrils (T&T).

Bow-tie structure of the largest connected component (LCC) and other connected components (OCC). Each section volume scales logarithmically with the share of its TNCs operating revenue. In parenthesis, percentage of operating revenue and number of TNCs

Zoom on some major TNCs in the financial sector. Some cycles are highlighted. Note: data for this analysis comes from the 2007 Orbis database -- prior to the 2008 financial crisis, thus, firms such as Bear Stearns and Lehman Bros. are included.

Top 50 Control-Holders Ranking:
{source: the following is quoted directly from the research paper]
This is the first time a ranking of economic actors by global control is presented. Notice that many actors belong to the financial sector (NACE codes starting with 65,66,67) and many of the names are well-known global players.
The interest of this ranking is not that it exposes unsuspected powerful players. Instead, it shows that many of the top actors belong to the core. This means that they do not carry out their business in isolation but, on the contrary, they are tied together in an extremely entangled web of control. This finding is extremely important since there was no prior economic theory or empirical evidence regarding whether and how top players are connected.
Shareholders are ranked by network control (according to the threshold model, TM). Columns indicate country, NACE industrial sector code, actor’s position in the bow-tie sections, cumulative network control. Notice that NACE codes starting with 65,66, or 67 belong to the financial sector.
Rank , Economic actor name, Country, NACE code, Network Cumul. Network position, control (TM, %)

1 BARCLAYS PLC  GB 6512  SCC 4.05


3 FMR CORP  US  6713  IN  8.94

4 AXA  FR  6712  SCC  11.21


6 JP MORGAN CHASE & CO. US 6512 SCC 14.55



9 UBS AG  CH 6512  SCC 18.46

10 MERRILL LYNCH & CO., INC. US 6712  SCC 19.45


12 DEUTSCHE BANK AG DE 6512  SCC 21.17





17 NATIXIS   FR 6512 SCC 24.98



20 LEGG MASON, INC. US 6712 SCC 26.92







27 INVESCOPLCGB 6523 SCC 30.82

28 ALLIANZSE DE 7415 SCC 31.32

29 TIAA US 6601 IN 32.24


31 AVIVAPLC GB 6601 SCC 33.14


33 DODGE & COX US 7415 IN 34.00




37 CNCE FR 6512 SCC 35.57




41 INGGROEP N.V.  NL 6603  SCC 36.96





46 BNPPARIBAS  FR 6512 SCC 38.56


48 RESONA HOLDINGS, INC.  JP 6512  SCC 39.18



Saturday, August 27, 2011

2011-08-27 "Texan Taxpayers Foot The Bill For Perry’s Presidential Run" by Robin M.
Running for president is a very, very expensive business. You have campaign workers, media buys, travel, security, polling, and a wide variety of other costs that can number in the hundreds of thousands of dollars a month.
Luckily, for Texas Governor Rick Perry, he’s found a way to defray some of those expenses. Charge them to his constituents.
According to the Washington Post [http://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/perrys-travel-security-costs-will-stay-secret-until-after-2012/2011/08/22/gIQANIZBjJ_story.html?wprss=rss_campaigns], Perry has brought on Texas law enforcement to help out with his security, scouting out the sites that events will be held at ahead of time, providing extra enforcement while he’s in attendance. The costs for those additional hours are of course being passed on to the state budget, and paid for with the state’s gas tax and vehicle registration fees.
How much are these extra security costing the state? Well, conveniently enough, no one knows. Records of the governor’s security costs have been kept under wraps for years, with the Department of Safety declaring that releasing the info could jeopardize Perry’s safety.
Presumably, they don’t just mean because Texans would be so angry to see how much money it is that he might get hurt.
Those records will be concealed even longer, despite numerous attempts to get them released, thanks to a bill passed in the special session that states they must be kept closed another 18 months. Which just happens to be until after the 2012 election has ended.
What is Perry keeping secret, and how much is his protection really running? It may be a long time before we ever find out, but it looks like Texans will need to keep doing a lot of driving to cover it.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

2011-08-24 "With CIA help, NYPD moves covertly in Muslim areas" by ADAM GOLDMAN and MATT APUZZO from "Associated Press",
Associated Press writers Tom Hays and Eileen Sullivan in Washington contributed to this report.
NEW YORK (AP) — Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the New York Police Department has become one of the nation's most aggressive domestic intelligence agencies, targeting ethnic communities in ways that would run afoul of civil liberties rules if practiced by the federal government, an Associated Press investigation has found.
These operations have benefited from unprecedented help from the CIA, a partnership that has blurred the line between foreign and domestic spying.
The department has dispatched undercover officers, known as "rakers," into minority neighborhoods as part of a human mapping program, according to officials directly involved in the program. They've monitored daily life in bookstores, bars, cafes and nightclubs. Police have also used informants, known as "mosque crawlers," to monitor sermons, even when there's no evidence of wrongdoing.
Neither the city council, which finances the department, nor the federal government, which has given NYPD more than $1.6 billion since 9/11, is told exactly what's going on.
Many of these operations were built with help from the CIA, which is prohibited from spying on Americans but was instrumental in transforming the NYPD's intelligence unit.
A veteran CIA officer, while still on the agency's payroll, was the architect of the NYPD's intelligence programs. The CIA trained a police detective at the Farm, the agency's spy school in Virginia, then returned him to New York, where he put his new espionage skills to work inside the United States.
And just last month, the CIA sent a senior officer to work as a clandestine operative inside police headquarters.
In response to the story, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a leading Muslim civil rights organization, called on the Justice Department to investigate. The Justice Department said Wednesday night it would review the request.
"This is potentially illegal what they're doing," said Gadeir Abbas, a staff attorney with the organization.
The NYPD denied that it trolls ethnic neighborhoods and said it only follows leads. Police operations have disrupted terrorist plots and put several would-be killers in prison.
"The New York Police Department is doing everything it can to make sure there's not another 9/11 here and that more innocent New Yorkers are not killed by terrorists," NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said. "And we have nothing to apologize for in that regard."
AP's investigation is based on documents and interviews with more than 40 current and former New York Police Department and federal officials. Many were directly involved in planning and carrying out these secret operations for the department. Though most said the tactics were appropriate and made the city safer, many insisted on anonymity, because they were not authorized to speak with reporters about security matters.
In just two episodes showing how widely the NYPD cast its net, the department sought a rundown from the taxi commission of every Pakistani cab driver in the city, and produced an analytical report on every mosque within 100 miles, officials said.
One of the enduring questions of the past decade is whether being safe requires giving up some liberty and privacy. The focus of that debate has primarily been federal programs like wiretapping and indefinite detention. The question has received less attention in New York, where residents do not know for sure what, if anything, they have given up.
The story of how the NYPD Intelligence Division developed such aggressive programs begins with one man.
David Cohen arrived at the New York Police Department in January 2002, just weeks after the last fires had been extinguished at the debris field that had been the twin towers. A retired 35-year veteran of the CIA, Cohen became the police department's first civilian intelligence chief.
Cohen had an exceptional career at the CIA, rising to lead both the agency's analytical and operational divisions. He also was an extraordinarily divisive figure, a man whose sharp tongue and supreme confidence in his own abilities gave him a reputation as arrogant. Cohen's tenure as head of CIA operations, the nation's top spy, was so contentious that in 1997, The New York Times editorial page took the unusual step of calling for his ouster.
He had no police experience. He had never defended a city from an attack. But New York wasn't looking for a cop.
"Post-9/11, we needed someone in there who knew how to really gather intelligence," said John Cutter, a retired NYPD official who served as one of Cohen's top uniformed officers.
At the time, the intelligence division was best known for driving dignitaries around the city. Cohen envisioned a unit that would analyze intelligence, run undercover operations and cultivate a network of informants. In short, he wanted New York to have its own version of the CIA.
Cohen shared Commissioner Ray Kelly's belief that 9/11 had proved that the police department could not simply rely on the federal government to prevent terrorism in New York.
"If anything goes on in New York," one former officer recalls Cohen telling his staff in the early days, "it's your fault."
Among Cohen's earliest moves at the NYPD was making a request of his old colleagues at CIA headquarters in Langley, Va. He needed someone to help build this new operation, someone with experience and clout and, most important, someone who had access to the latest intelligence so the NYPD wouldn't have to rely on the FBI to dole out information.
CIA Director George Tenet responded by tapping Larry Sanchez, a respected veteran who had served as a CIA official inside the United Nations. Often, when the CIA places someone on temporary assignment, the other agency picks up the tab. In this case, three former intelligence officials said, Tenet kept Sanchez on the CIA payroll.
When he arrived in New York in March 2002, Sanchez had offices at both the NYPD and the CIA's station in New York, one former official said. Sanchez interviewed police officers for newly defined intelligence jobs. He guided and mentored officers, schooling them in the art of gathering information. He also directed their efforts, another said.
There had never been an arrangement like it, and some senior CIA officials soon began questioning whether Tenet was allowing Sanchez to operate on both sides of the wall that's supposed to keep the CIA out of the domestic intelligence business.
"It should not be a surprise to anyone that, after 9/11, the Central Intelligence Agency stepped up its cooperation with law enforcement on counterterrorism issues or that some of that increased cooperation was in New York, the site of ground zero," CIA spokeswoman Jennifer Youngblood said.
Just as at the CIA, Cohen and Sanchez knew that informants would have to become the backbone of their operation. But with threats coming in from around the globe, they couldn't wait months for the perfect plan.
They came up with a makeshift solution. They dispatched more officers to Pakistani neighborhoods and, according to one former police official directly involved in the effort, instructed them to look for reasons to stop cars: speeding, broken tail lights, running stop signs, whatever. The traffic stop gave police an opportunity to search for outstanding warrants or look for suspicious behavior. An arrest could be the leverage the police needed to persuade someone to become an informant.
For Cohen, the transition from spying to policing didn't come naturally, former colleagues said. When faced with a decision, especially early in his tenure, he'd fall back on his CIA background. Cutter said he and other uniformed officers had to tell Cohen, no, we can't just slip into someone's apartment without a warrant. No, we can't just conduct a search. The rules for policing are different.
While Cohen was being shaped by the police department, his CIA background was remaking the department. But one significant barrier stood in the way of Cohen's vision.
Since 1985, the NYPD had operated under a federal court order limiting the tactics it could use to gather intelligence. During the 1960s and 1970s, the department had used informants and undercover officers to infiltrate anti-war protest groups and other activists without any reason to suspect criminal behavior.
To settle a lawsuit, the department agreed to follow guidelines that required "specific information" of criminal activity before police could monitor political activity.
In September 2002, Cohen told a federal judge that those guidelines made it "virtually impossible" to detect terrorist plots. The FBI was changing its rules to respond to 9/11, and Cohen argued that the NYPD must do so, too.
"In the case of terrorism, to wait for an indication of crime before investigating is to wait far too long," Cohen wrote.
U.S. District Judge Charles S. Haight Jr. agreed, saying the old guidelines "addressed different perils in a different time." He scrapped the old rules and replaced them with more lenient ones.
It was a turning point for the NYPD.
With his newfound authority, Cohen created a secret squad that would soon infiltrate Muslim neighborhoods, according to several current and former officials directly involved in the program.
The NYPD carved up the city into more than a dozen zones and assigned undercover officers to monitor them, looking for potential trouble.
At the CIA, one of the biggest obstacles has always been that U.S. intelligence officials are overwhelmingly white, their mannerisms clearly American. The NYPD didn't have that problem, thanks to its diverse pool of officers.
Using census data, the department matched undercover officers to ethnic communities and instructed them to blend in, the officials said. Pakistani-American officers infiltrated Pakistani neighborhoods, Palestinians focused on Palestinian neighborhoods. They hung out in hookah bars and cafes, quietly observing the community around them.
The unit, which has been undisclosed until now, became known inside the department as the Demographic Unit, former police officials said.
"It's not a question of profiling. It's a question of going where the problem could arise," said Mordecai Dzikansky, a retired NYPD intelligence officer who said he was aware of the Demographic Unit. "And thank God we have the capability. We have the language capability and the ethnic officers. That's our hidden weapon."
The officers did not work out of headquarters, officials said. Instead, they passed their intelligence to police handlers who knew their identities.
Cohen said he wanted the squad to "rake the coals, looking for hot spots," former officials recalled. The undercover officers soon became known inside the department as rakers.
A hot spot might be a beauty supply store selling chemicals used for making bombs. Or it might be a hawala, a broker that transfers money around the world with little documentation. Undercover officers might visit an Internet cafe and look at the browsing history on a computer, a former police official involved in the program said. If it revealed visits to radical websites, the cafe might be deemed a hot spot.
Ethnic bookstores, too, were on the list. If a raker noticed a customer looking at radical literature, he might chat up the store owner and see what he could learn. The bookstore, or even the customer, might get further scrutiny. If a restaurant patron applauds a news report about the death of U.S. troops, the patron or the restaurant could be labeled a hot spot.
The goal was to "map the city's human terrain," one law enforcement official said. The program was modeled in part on how Israeli authorities operate in the West Bank, a former police official said.
Mapping crimes has been a successful police strategy nationwide. But mapping robberies and shootings is one thing. Mapping ethnic neighborhoods is different, something that at least brushes against what the federal government considers racial profiling.
Browne, the NYPD spokesman, said the Demographic Unit does not exist. He said the department has a Zone Assessment Unit that looks for locations that could attract terrorists. But he said undercover officers only followed leads, disputing the account of several current and former police and federal officials. They do not just hang out in neighborhoods, he said.
"We will go into a location, whether it's a mosque or a bookstore, if the lead warrants it, and at least establish whether there's something that requires more attention," Browne said.
That conflicts with testimony from an undercover officer in the 2006 trial of Shahawar Matin Siraj, who was convicted of planning an attack on New York's subway system. The officer said he was instructed to live in Brooklyn and act as a "walking camera" for police.
"I was told to act like a civilian — hang out in the neighborhood, gather information," the Bangladeshi officer testified, under a false name, in what offered the first narrow glimpse at the NYPD's infiltration of ethnic neighborhoods.
Officials said such operations just made sense. Islamic terrorists had attacked the city on 9/11, so police needed people inside the city's Muslim neighborhoods. Officials say it does not conflict with a 2004 city law prohibiting the NYPD from using religion or ethnicity "as the determinative factor for initiating law enforcement action."
"It's not profiling," Cutter said. "It's like, after a shooting, do you go 20 blocks away and interview guys or do you go to the neighborhood where it happened?"
In 2007, the Los Angeles Police Department was criticized for even considering a similar program. The police announced plans to map Islamic neighborhoods to look for pockets of radicalization among the region's roughly 500,000 Muslims. Criticism was swift, and chief William Bratton scrapped the plan.
"A lot of these people came from countries where the police were the terrorists," Bratton said at a news conference, according to the Los Angeles Daily News. "We don't do that here. We do not want to spread fear."
In New York, current and former officials said, the lesson of that controversy was that such programs should be kept secret.
Some in the department, including lawyers, have privately expressed concerns about the raking program and how police use the information, current and former officials said. Part of the concern was that it might appear that police were building dossiers on innocent people, officials said. Another concern was that, if a case went to court, the department could be forced to reveal details about the program, putting the entire operation in jeopardy.
That's why, former officials said, police regularly shredded documents discussing rakers.
When Cohen made his case in court that he needed broader authority to investigate terrorism, he had promised to abide by the FBI's investigative guidelines. But the FBI is prohibited from using undercover agents unless there's specific evidence of criminal activity, meaning a federal raking program like the one officials described to the AP would violate FBI guidelines.
The NYPD declined to make Cohen available for comment. In an earlier interview with the AP on a variety of topics, Police Commissioner Kelly said the intelligence unit does not infringe on civil rights.
"We're doing what we believe we have to do to protect the city," he said. "We have many, many lawyers in our employ. We see ourselves as very conscious and aware of civil liberties. And we know there's always going to be some tension between the police department and so-called civil liberties groups because of the nature of what we do."
The department clashed with civil rights groups most publicly after Cohen's undercover officers infiltrated anti-war groups before the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York. A lawsuit over that program continues today.
During the convention, when protesters were arrested, police asked a list of questions which, according to court documents, included: "What are your political affiliations?" ''Do you do any kind of political work?" and "Do you hate George W. Bush?"
"At the end of the day, it's pure and simple a rogue domestic surveillance operation," said Christopher Dunn, a New York Civil Liberties Union lawyer involved in the convention lawsuit.
Undercover agents like the rakers were valuable, but what Cohen and Sanchez wanted most were informants.
The NYPD dedicated an entire squad, the Terrorist Interdiction Unit, to developing and handling informants. Current and former officials said Sanchez was instrumental in teaching them how to develop sources.
For years, detectives used informants known as mosque crawlers to monitor weekly sermons and report what was said, several current and former officials directly involved in the informant program said. If FBI agents were to do that, they would be in violation of the Privacy Act, which prohibits the federal government from collecting intelligence on purely First Amendment activities.
The FBI has generated its own share of controversy for putting informants inside mosques, but unlike the program described to the AP, the FBI requires evidence of a crime before an informant can be used inside a mosque.
Valerie Caproni, the FBI's general counsel, would not discuss the NYPD's programs but said FBI informants can't troll mosques looking for leads. Such operations are reviewed for civil liberties concerns, she said.
"If you're sending an informant into a mosque when there is no evidence of wrongdoing, that's a very high-risk thing to do," Caproni said. "You're running right up against core constitutional rights. You're talking about freedom of religion."
That's why senior FBI officials in New York ordered their own agents not to accept any reports from the NYPD's mosque crawlers, two retired agents said.
It's unclear whether the police department still uses mosque crawlers. Officials said that, as Muslims figured out what was going on, the mosque crawlers became cafe crawlers, fanning out into the city's ethnic hangouts.
"Someone has a great imagination," Browne, the NYPD spokesman, said. "There is no such thing as mosque crawlers."
Following the foiled subway plot, however, the key informant in the case, Osama Eldawoody, said he attended hundreds of prayer services and collected information even on people who showed no signs of radicalization.
NYPD detectives have recruited shopkeepers and nosy neighbors to become "seeded" informants who keep police up to date on the latest happenings in ethnic neighborhoods, one official directly involved in the informant program said.
The department also has a roster of "directed" informants it can tap for assignments. For instance, if a raker identifies a bookstore as a hot spot, police might assign an informant to gather information, long before there's concrete evidence of anything criminal.
To identify possible informants, the department created what became known as the "debriefing program." When someone is arrested who might be useful to the intelligence unit — whether because he said something suspicious or because he is simply a young Middle Eastern man — he is singled out for extra questioning. Intelligence officials don't care about the underlying charges; they want to know more about his community and, ideally, they want to put him to work.
Police are in prisons, too, promising better living conditions and help or money on the outside for Muslim prisoners who will work with them.
Early in the intelligence division's transformation, police asked the taxi commission to run a report on all the city's Pakistani cab drivers, looking for those who got licenses fraudulently and might be susceptible to pressure to cooperate, according to former officials who were involved in or briefed on the effort.
That strategy has been rejected in other cities.
Boston police once asked neighboring Cambridge for a list of Somali cab drivers, Cambridge Police Chief Robert Haas said. Haas refused, saying that without a specific reason, the search was inappropriate.
"It really has a chilling effect in terms of the relationship between the local police department and those cultural groups, if they think that's going to take place," Haas said.
The informant division was so important to the NYPD that Cohen persuaded his former colleagues to train a detective, Steve Pinkall, at the CIA's training center at the Farm. Pinkall, who had an intelligence background as a Marine, was given an unusual temporary assignment at CIA headquarters, officials said. He took the field tradecraft course alongside future CIA spies then returned to New York to run investigations.
"We found that helpful, for NYPD personnel to be exposed to the tradecraft," Browne said.
The idea troubled senior FBI officials, who saw it as the NYPD and CIA blurring the lines between police work and spying, in which undercover officers regularly break the laws of foreign governments. The arrangement even made its way to FBI Director Robert Mueller, two former senior FBI officials said, but the training was already under way and Mueller did not press the issue.
NYPD's intelligence operations do not stop at the city line.
In June 2009, a New Brunswick, N.J., building superintendent opened the door to apartment No. 1076 and discovered an alarming scene: terrorist literature strewn about the table and computer and surveillance equipment set up in the next room.
The panicked superintendent dialed 911, sending police and the FBI rushing to the building near Rutgers University. What they found in that first-floor apartment, however, was not a terrorist hideout but a command center set up by a secret team of New York Police Department intelligence officers.
From that apartment, about an hour outside the department's jurisdiction, the NYPD had been staging undercover operations and conducting surveillance throughout New Jersey. Neither the FBI nor the local police had any idea.
The NYPD has gotten some of its officers deputized as federal marshals, allowing them to work out of state. But often, there's no specific jurisdiction at all.
Cohen's undercover squad, the Special Services Unit, operates in places such as New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, officials said. They can't make arrests and, if something goes wrong — a shooting or a car accident, for instance — the officers could be personally liable. But the NYPD has decided it's worth the risk, a former police official said.
With Police Commissioner Kelly's backing, Cohen's policy is that any potential threat to New York City is the NYPD's business, regardless of where it occurs, officials said.
That aggressiveness has sometimes put the NYPD at odds with local police departments and, more frequently, with the FBI. The FBI didn't like the rules Cohen played by and said his operations encroached on its responsibilities.
Once, undercover officers were stopped by police in Massachusetts while conducting surveillance on a house, one former New York official recalled. In another instance, the NYPD sparked concern among federal officials by expanding its intelligence-gathering efforts related to the United Nations, where the FBI is in charge, current and former federal officials said.
The AP has agreed not to disclose details of either the FBI or NYPD operations because they involve foreign counterintelligence.
Both Mueller and Kelly have said their agencies have strong working relationships and said reports of rivalry and disagreements are overblown. And the NYPD's out-of-state operations have had success.
A young Egyptian NYPD officer living undercover in New Jersey, for example, was key to building a case against Mohamed Mahmood Alessa and Carlos Eduardo Almonte. The pair was arrested last year at John F. Kennedy Airport en route to Somalia to join the terrorist group al-Shabab. Both pleaded guilty to conspiracy.
Cohen has also sent officers abroad, stationing them in 11 foreign cities. If a bomber blows himself up in Jerusalem, the NYPD rushes to the scene, said Dzikansky, who served in Israel and is the co-author of the forthcoming book "Terrorist Suicide Bombings: Attack Interdiction, Mitigation, and Response."
"I was there to ask the New York question," Dzikansky said. "Why this location? Was there something unique that the bomber had done? Was there any pre-notification. Was there a security lapse?"
All of this intelligence — from the rakers, the undercovers, the overseas liaisons and the informants — is passed to a team of analysts hired from some of the nation's most prestigious universities. Analysts have spotted emerging trends and summarized topics such as Hezbollah's activities in New York and the threat of South Asian terrorist groups.
They also have tackled more contentious topics, including drafting a report on every mosque in the area, one former police official said. The report drew on information from mosque crawlers, undercover officers and public information. It mapped hundreds of mosques and discussed the likelihood of them being infiltrated by al-Qaida, Hezbollah and other terrorist groups.
For Cohen, there was only one way to measure success: "They haven't attacked us," he said in a 2005 deposition. He said anything that was bad for terrorists was good for NYPD.
Though the CIA is prohibited from collecting intelligence domestically, the wall between domestic and foreign operations became more porous. Intelligence gathered by the NYPD, with CIA officer Sanchez overseeing collection, was often passed to the CIA in informal conversations and through unofficial channels, a former official involved in that process said.
By design, the NYPD was looking more and more like a domestic CIA.
"It's like starting the CIA over in the post-9/11 world," Cohen said in "Securing the City," a laudatory 2009 book about the NYPD. "What would you do if you could begin it all over again? Hah. This is what you would do."
Sanchez's assignment in New York ended in 2004, but he received permission to take a leave of absence from the agency and become Cohen's deputy, former officials said.
Though Sanchez's assignments were blessed by CIA management, some in the agency's New York station saw the presence of such a senior officer in the city as a turf encroachment. Finally, the New York station chief, Tom Higgins, called headquarters, one former senior intelligence official said. Higgins complained, the official said, that Sanchez was wearing both hats, sometimes acting as a CIA officer, sometimes as an NYPD official.
The CIA finally forced him to choose: Stay with the agency or stay with the NYPD.
Sanchez declined to comment to the AP about the arrangement, but he picked the NYPD. He retired last year and is now a consultant in the Middle East.
Last month, the CIA deepened its NYPD ties even further. It sent one of its most experienced operatives, a former station chief in two Middle Eastern countries, to work out of police headquarters as Cohen's special assistant while on the CIA payroll. Current and former U.S. officials acknowledge it's unusual but said it's the kind of collaboration Americans expect after 9/11.
Officials said revealing the CIA officer's name would jeopardize national security. The arrangement was described as a sabbatical. He is a member of the agency's senior management, but officials said he was sent to the municipal police department to get management experience.
At the NYPD, he works undercover in the senior ranks of the intelligence division. Officials are adamant that he is not involved in actual intelligence-gathering.
The NYPD has faced little scrutiny over the past decade as it has taken on broad new intelligence missions, targeted ethnic neighborhoods and partnered with the CIA in extraordinary ways.
The department's primary watchdog, the New York City Council, has not held hearings on the intelligence division's operations and former NYPD officials said council members typically do not ask for details.
"Ray Kelly briefs me privately on certain subjects that should not be discussed in public," said City Councilman Peter Vallone. "We've discussed in person how they investigate certain groups they suspect have terrorist sympathizers or have terrorist suspects."
The city comptroller's office has audited several NYPD components since 9/11 but not the intelligence unit, which had a $62 million budget last year.
The federal government, too, has done little to scrutinize the nation's largest police force, despite the massive federal aid. Homeland Security officials review NYPD grants but not its underlying programs.
A report in January by the Homeland Security inspector general, for instance, found that the NYPD violated state and federal contracting rules between 2006 and 2008 by buying more than $4 million in equipment through a no-bid process. NYPD said public bidding would have revealed sensitive information to terrorists, but police never got approval from state or federal officials to adopt their own rules, the inspector general said.
On Capitol Hill, where FBI tactics have frequently been criticized for their effect on civil liberties, the NYPD faces no such opposition.
In 2007, Sanchez testified before the Senate Homeland Security Committee and was asked how the NYPD spots signs of radicalization. He said the key was viewing innocuous activity, including behavior that might be protected by the First Amendment, as a potential precursor to terrorism.
That triggered no questions from the committee, which Sanchez said had been "briefed in the past on how we do business."
The Justice Department has the authority to investigate civil rights violations. It issued detailed rules in 2003 against racial profiling, including prohibiting agencies from considering race when making traffic stops or assigning patrols.
But those rules apply only to the federal government and contain a murky exemption for terrorism investigations. The Justice Department has not investigated a police department for civil rights violations during a national security investigation.
"One of the hallmarks of the intelligence division over the last 10 years is that, not only has it gotten extremely aggressive and sophisticated, but it's operating completely on its own," said Dunn, the civil liberties lawyer. "There are no checks. There is no oversight."
The NYPD has been mentioned as a model for policing in the post-9/11 era. But it's a model that seems custom-made for New York. No other city has the Big Apple's combination of a low crime rate, a $4.5 billion police budget and a diverse 34,000-person police force. Certainly no other police department has such deep CIA ties.
Perhaps most important, nobody else had 9/11 the way New York did. No other city lost nearly 3,000 people in a single morning. A decade later, police say New Yorkers still expect the department to do whatever it can to prevent another attack. The NYPD has embraced that expectation.
As Sanchez testified on Capitol Hill: "We've been given the public tolerance and the luxury to be very aggressive on this topic."
In the wake of the Oslo shootings and the London Uprising, a white supremacist group that has used both events to further their own agenda is holding a conference at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, DC on Sept. 10. This is a call for everyone to come out and oppose what even the organizers are saying will be a highly controversial event!
The National Policy Institute (NPI), a high-brow organization that -- according to the Southern Poverty Law Center (who has listed them as a hate group) -- feels it is their mission "to elevate the consciousness of whites, ensure our biological and cultural continuity, and protect our civil rights", will hold their first conference ever on [Saturday] Sept. 10 from 9:00 AM - 10:00 PM at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, just north of the National Mall, [14th St. NW south of Pennsylvania Ave.] with a press conference on [Friday] Sept. 9 from 3:00-5:00 PM at the National Press Club, also in Washington, DC. [529 14th Street Northwest at F St., NW]
NPI's Executive Director is Richard Spencer a prominent figure in DC White Nationalist circles who was also the founder of the paleoconservative group Robert A. Taft Club, along with his friend Kevin DeAnna who along with others went on to also found the White Nationalist student group Youth for Western Civilization. The focus for NPI is to, according to them, "address the consequences of mass immigration into the United States from cultural, political, and biological perspectives." NPI however, promotes eugenics and it is from that foundation that they will address those "consequences" from, even with Spencer himself speaking on the issue at the conference.
In recent weeks NPI has featured articles on not only their website, but also the website AlternativeRight.com, which is edited by Spencer, that defend the Norway shooter Anders Behring Breivik in one article as "a serious political thinker with a great many insights and some good practical ideas on strategy". They also have addressed the disturbances in London declaring them "race riots" and an example that multiracial societies are failures.
According to Spencer the focus of the conference is to promote a so-called "Majority Strategy" for Republicans, to in his words, "stop all this nonsensical outreach to various minorities and blacks and Hispanics and so on and so forth, who are never going to vote for them anyway and who don't, and instead try to inreach, so to speak, to the people who do vote for them - that is White Christian Americans." Spencer also notes getting the Republicans to then focus on stopping immigration and affirmative action is merely the first step to their larger goals.
Their speakers are mostly academics who many are familiar to white supremacist circles who have seen them speak or organize racist conferences in the past. Among the more notable speakers will be:
* Jared Taylor, the publisher and editor of American Renaissance, whose calls for racial separation has been so virulent, his "AmRen" Conferences, which brings out a who's who of neo-Nazis, including notables such as former Klansman David Duke, have been marked with protests, and the last two years the controversy surrounding them have been so great, hotels have been shutting their doors to them,
* Peter Brimelow, the editor of the anti-immigration, white nationalist website VDARE who is pushing for the Republican Party to stop reaching out to Hispanics and other people of color and focus only on white people,
* James Edwards, a Council of Conservative Citizens board member who hosts a radio show promoting racist ideals, and repeated a mantra of his on his Aug 13 program in relation to the London Uprising that "You can't have a First World nation with a Third World population,"
* John Glad, a former professor and author who is a staunch defender of eugenics as "preventing the squandering of our genetic patrimony",
* Keith Preston, who believes mixing anarchist ideals with fascist ones in an attempt to recruit the left into his way of thinking.

As noted earlier, conferences such as these have resulted in outrage that has prompted venues to shut their doors to them.
Should this conference take place, however,a rally and demonstration is planned for the Ronald Reagan Building that will take place the entire duration of the conference. To learn more about the Conference, go to http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=236082193083177.
2011-08-24 "The problem is Texanism -- not Texans: Talking up secession while taking more than $6 billion in stimulus cash from Obama? Pure Texanism in action" by Gene Lyons
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette columnist Gene Lyons is a National Magazine Award winner and co-author of "The Hunting of the President" (St. Martin's Press, 2000). You can e-mail Lyons at eugenelyons2@yahoo.com. More: Gene Lyons
Having recently written that many Republicans yearn for a tough-guy presidential candidate because they yearn to punish somebody, I knew what to expect: a barrage of insulting emails from anonymous tough guys yearning to punish me personally.
Many feature sexual taunts and the kinds of scatological imagery scrawled on honky-tonk bathroom walls. I'll spare you the details.
Hey, it comes with the territory. Aiming to be provocative, I can't complain when readers are provoked. When they cross the line into overt threats, it's my policy to warn them that they've committed a crime, although I only turn in repeat offenders. That sometimes brings apologies. The police will tell you that people who make email and telephone threats are blowhards anyway.
Because the tough guy candidate I criticized is a Texan, I also anticipated a certain amount of the "Big Me/Little You" theme that some there find irresistible. "You, like most people from Arkansas, are both jealous and afraid of anybody from Texas," one braggart opined.
Actually, my all-time favorite Texas joke concerns the time somebody proposed building a pipeline to divert water from the Arkansas River to irrigate cotton fields around Lubbock. "Just give 'em a 900-mile straw," people said. "Then if they can suck as hard as they blow, no problem."
You can also bet your genuine George W. Bush 14-inch action figure (flight suit model) that they intended to finance the boondoggle with federal tax dollars. That's the kind of thing you don't hear a lot about when "states' rights" guys like Gov. Rick Perry sound off.
See, it's not Texans but the ideology of Texanism that's the problem. Another Lone Star patriot favored me with a bunch of insulting messages premised upon the widely believed fiction that Perry refused federal stimulus funds, resulting in an economic boom.
In fact, Texas financed $6.4 billion of its $6.6 billion budget shortfall in fiscal years 2010 and 2011 with cash from President Obama's 2009 Recovery Act. On the same day Perry accepted the funds, he set up an online petition titled "No Government Bailouts." Pure Texanism in action.
Alas, I couldn't persuade my correspondent to read news stories documenting those facts.
As for that economic boom, another indisputable fact is that unemployment rates in Texas are higher than in any neighboring state -- Arkansas and Louisiana included. What's more, due partly to Texas' draconian 2012-13 budget, joblessness there is trending higher, from 8.1 percent to 8.4 percent this month.
Still another fellow informed me that if I'd ever had the good fortune to live in Texas, I wouldn't be such a cynic. (A cynic perhaps defined as anybody who notices that Gov. Perry used to have a lot of gray in his hair.)
Ah, but I've both lived and worked there. During what climatologists call the Medieval Warm Period, I taught at the University of Texas. I owe much of whatever reputation I've earned in journalism to Texas Monthly magazine. I've been all over the place, from Amarillo to Rio Grande City, El Paso to Texarkana.
All things considered, I like it there.
Indeed, because I raise cattle, I've been thinking a lot about people I've met in Texas towns like Mason, Rockdale and New Braunfels. Here in Arkansas, our relatively moderate drought broke a couple of weeks ago. But it was scary enough to give me some feeling for the slow-motion agony many Texans are feeling: watching the grass die, the ponds dry up and the animals suffer.
What are political opinions next to that? Almost nothing, it seems to me.
That said, many blame the Internet for the perceived coarsening of public dialogue. (Although the only truly disturbing messages I've ever received -- vivid fantasies of murder and dismemberment -- arrived from Florida via U.S. Mail.)
It's definitely true that anonymity's a big part of it. Certainly nobody ever talks to me, or to anybody else, in person the way people do in emails. The instantaneous nature of Internet communication also encourages people to let fly. Slanging matches erupt among pseudonymous antagonists in online comment threads that would lead to violence face to face.
But there's more to it than that. Hard times and fear lead to black and white thinking and a hatred of "the Other." At times, reading my email can be like eavesdropping on therapy sessions. "I like feeling superior and more wise than you," one fellow confides. "You are a scared little man with no heart ... Just a little wimpy leftist."
Virility and humiliation are omnipresent themes, a veritable catalog of adolescent revenge fantasies. It's remarkable how many remain obsessed with Bill Clinton's sins -- real and imagined.
Heaven knows there are loons and crackpots on the left, but nothing like the kind of focused outrage that's building on the populist right. It seems to me that it's going to be a very long time until November 2012.
2011-08-24 "America’s Sweatshop Diplomacy" by JENNIFER GORDON from "new York Times" newspaper
Jennifer Gordon is a professor of labor and immigration law at Fordham.
ACCORDING to the State Department, the J-1 visa Summer Work Study program, which allows foreign students to work in the United States for a few months, is meant to promote “lasting and meaningful relationships” between the students and Americans.
Try telling that to the more than 300 J-1 holders who went on strike at a Hershey’s distribution plant in Pennsylvania last week, with the support of the National Guestworker Alliance. These engineering majors and future lawyers from places like Turkey, Moldova and China came hoping to travel and speak English, but spent the summer packing and lifting heavy pallets of Kit-Kats, often on overnight shifts and for meager pay.
The America that the Hershey’s workers have seen is surely not the one the J-1 visa was created to promote. But perhaps it is the America we have become. Hershey’s business strategy is a microcosm of the downsizing and subcontracting that so many American companies have pursued during the past few decades in search of ever cheaper labor.
The J-1 visa, also known as the exchange visitor visa, has its roots in the cold war. In 1961, Congress created a program for international students and professionals to travel here, with the goal of building good will for the United States in the fight against Communism. The program, which became the J-1 visa, thrives today — but not as Congress intended.
Instead, it has become the country’s largest guest worker program. Its “summer work travel” component recruits well over 100,000 international students a year to do menial jobs at dairy farms, resorts and factories — a privilege for which the Hershey’s students shelled out between $3,000 and $6,000. They received $8 an hour, but after fees and deductions, including overpriced rent for crowded housing, they netted between $1 and $3.50 an hour. Hershey’s once had its own unionized workers packing its candy bars, starting at $18 to $30 an hour. Now the company outsources distribution to a non-union company that hires most of its workers from the J-1 program.
The Pennsylvania workers are not alone. Recent exposés by journalists and advocates have found similar abuse of J-1 visa holders at fast food restaurants, amusement parks and even strip clubs.
Though the number of J-1 visa holders admitted to the United States swelled from 28,000 in the program’s first year to more than 350,000 in 2010, and the government made minor changes to the program earlier this year, the State Department has never established a sufficient oversight system. Instead, it hands that responsibility to organizations it designates as sponsors, who profit from the arrangement and so have no incentive to report abuses.
Other guest worker programs — themselves often avenues for exploitation — are managed, however ineffectually, by the Departments of Homeland Security and Labor. They require employers to offer international workers the same wages as local workers in comparable jobs and to attest that no local workers are available. Not so with the J-1 visa.
Indeed, the J-1 program is attractive to employers because it is uncapped and virtually unregulated; companies avoid paying Medicare, Social Security and, in many states, unemployment taxes for workers hired through the program. One sponsor authorized by the State Department even offers a “payroll taxes savings calculator” on its Web site, so potential employers can see how much they would save by hiring J-1 visa holders rather than American workers. Visa holders can be deported if they so much as complain, and cannot easily switch employers.
At a minimum, the government should preclude the use of the J-1 program as a way to obtain workers at below-market rates. If the program continues, it should be reformed to explicitly incorporate worker protections, including the right to organize, and should be supervised by the Department of Labor.
But last week’s strike, and the resulting uproar over J-1 visas, should also lead us to rethink the downward spiral of job quality to which such programs contribute. To recover from economic distress, this country needs not only more jobs, but good jobs, with living wages, full workplace rights and meaningful freedom to organize. That goal will remain out of reach as long as easily abused guest-worker programs exist. Among other things, Congress should pass the proposed Power Act, which protects immigrants who report workplace abuses from being deported.
In a way, the students at Hershey’s got more insight into the realities of the American economy than they ever could have expected. Unfortunately, it’s an insight unlikely to foster the sort of “lasting and meaningful relationships” that Congress intended — or the United States needs if it is to promote decent work in a global economy.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

2011-08-23 "Moderate GOP Presidential Hopeful: Tax the Poor" by Sam Taxy
Jon Huntsman, former Utah Governor and current Republican hopeful for President, has until recently been charting a moderate course in the Republican primary, often echoing Mitt Romney’s talking points [http://www.care2.com/causes/huntsman-still-running.html]. That is, until Sunday when he told the Wall Street Journal his innovative new plan to fix the economy: tax the poor and elderly. In his own words, he believes that “we don’t have enough people paying taxes in this country.” [http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2011/08/21/huntsman-fires-from-center-at-perry-bachmann/]
The WSJ reports that this is just a case of Huntsman falling into line “with the new Republican orthodoxy that the half of American households no longer paying income tax – mainly working poor families and seniors – should be brought onto the income tax rolls.” This puts Huntsman in the same boat as his far more conservative adversaries Rick Perry and Michelle Bachmann, who both think that low income households and individuals should be paying a more substantial tax burden.
Obviously, Huntsman is flat out wrong. Though they may not pay high income taxes, low income households do pay payroll taxes, which take up a larger percentage of their income than for the rich. Also, they have to pay local, state and federal taxes on staples such as food and gas in addition to state income taxes. This means that even the unemployed pay taxes. A recent book [http://www.ucpress.edu/book.php?isbn=9780520269675] by sociologists Katherine Newman and Rourke O’Brien finds that in some southern states, the sales taxes are so regressive and onerous that they are driving the poor further into poverty, exacerbating problems such as obesity and high school drop out rates.
The numbers back up this logic, showing that the poor contribute significant sums of money to the IRS: the lowest income quintile pay, on average, 16% of their income in taxes [http://sociology.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/power/wealth.html]. This compares to just over 30% for the mega rich. But those are raw numbers, not the marginal rates. On the margins, the poor have the highest tax rate in the country — in many cases for every dollar they earn, more than a dollar is clawed back [http://epionline.org/study_detail.cfm?sid=27].
Especially in these hard economic times, with high unemployment and underemployment rates, the last thing we need is another presidential candidate who wants to continue to over-tax the poor in order to coddle the rich. It’s especially disappointing that Huntsman, who has been positioning himself as a rare Republican candidate who (gasp!) believes in science [http://www.care2.com/causes/morning-mix-huntsman-gets-vocal.html] and criticizes other candidates for being too extreme [http://www.care2.com/causes/morning-mix-huntsman-still-after-perry.html], has joined the tax the poor bandwagon. I guess he realized that all of our corporate tax loopholes aren’t going to pay for themselves.
Since Huntsman might be positioning himself for a VP nod [http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/177809-huntsman-says-he-could-join-bachmann-as-vp-candidate] or 2016 run [http://www.care2.com/causes/morning-mix-huntsman-gets-vocal.html], it’s important to keep on eye on not just his flashy centrist pronouncements, but also the disturbing policy prescriptions he’d rather keep hidden. It makes me wonder, though, if an all out war on the poor is now seen as moderate, what are conservative extremists hiding up their sleeves?
2011-08-23 "Facebook: The CIA Conspiracy"
Facebook has 750 million users worldwide, is worth billions of dollars and, if internet sources are to be believed, was started by the CIA.
The social networking phenomenon started as a way of American college students to keep in touch. It is rapidly catching up with MySpace, and has left others like Bebo in its wake.
But there is a dark side to the success story that's been spreading across the blogosphere. A complex but riveting Big Brother-type conspiracy theory which links Facebook to the CIA and the US Department of Defence.
The CIA is, though, using a Facebook group to recruit staff for its very sexy sounding National Clandestine Service.
Checking out the job ads does require a Facebook login, so if you haven't joined the site - or are worried that CIA spooks will start following you home from work -check them out on the agency's own site.
The story starts once Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg had launched, after the dorm room drama that's led to the current court case.
Facebook's first round of venture capital funding ($US 500,000) came from former Paypal CEO Peter Thiel. Author of anti-multicultural tome 'The Diversity Myth', he is also on the board of radical conservative group VanguardPAC.
The second round of funding into Facebook ($US 12.7 million) came from venture capital firm Accel Partners. Its manager James Breyer was formerly chairman of the National Venture Capital Association, and served on the board with Gilman Louie, CEO of In-Q-Tel, a venture capital firm established by the Central Intelligence Agency in 1999. One of the company's key areas of expertise are in "data mining technologies".
Breyer also served on the board of R&D firm BBN Technologies, which was one of those companies responsible for the rise of the internet.
Dr Anita Jones joined the firm, which included Gilman Louie. She had also served on the In-Q-Tel's board, and had been director of Defence Research and Engineering for the US Department of Defence.
She was also an adviser to the Secretary of Defence and overseeing the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which is responsible for high-tech, high-end development.
It was when a journalist lifted the lid on the DARPA's Information Awareness Office that the public began to show concern at its information mining projects.
Wikipedia's IAO page says:
"the IAO has the stated mission to gather as much information as possible about everyone, in a centralised location, for easy perusal by the United States government, including (though not limited to) internet activity, credit card purchase histories, airline ticket purchases, car rentals, medical records, educational transcripts, driver's licenses, utility bills, tax returns, and any other available data.".
Not surprisingly, the backlash from civil libertarians led to a Congressional investigation into DARPA's activity, the Information Awareness Office lost its funding.
Now the internet conspiracy theorists are citing Facebook as the IAO's new mask.
Parts of the IAO's technology round-up included 'human network analysis and behaviour model building engines', which Facebook's massive volume of neatly-targeted data gathering allows for.
Facebook's own Terms of use state:
"by posting Member Content to any part of the Web site, you automatically grant, and you represent and warrant that you have the right to grant, to facebook an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license to use, copy, perform, display, reformat, translate, excerpt and distribute such information and content and to prepare derivative works of, or incorpoate into other works, such information and content, and to grant and authorise sublicenses of the foregoing."
And in its equally interesting privacy policy:
"Facebook may also collect information about you from other sources, such as newspapers, blogs, instant messaging services, and other users of the Facebook service through the operation of the service (eg. photo tags) in order to provide you with more useful information and a more personalised experience. By using Facebook, you are consenting to have your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States."
Is the CIA really providing the impetus and the funding behind the monster growth of this year's biggest dot com success story? Maybe only the men with the nice suits and ear pieces can answer that.

2011-08-23 "New Hampshire Rep: Young People Aren’t Worth Minimum Wage"
One New Hampshire lawmaker verbally insulted thousands of hardworking young Americans in a recent statement, saying they aren’t worth the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.
State Rep. Carol McGuire made the comment in a statement that called a minimum wage requirement “discriminatory” and argues that young people would take $5 per hour work if offered [http://www.realclearpolitics.com/news/ap/politics/2011/Aug/20/nh_dumping_own_minimum_wage_law_sunday.html?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=lcrga].
“It’s very discriminatory, particularly for young people. They’re not worth the minimum,” the Republican legislator said.
The pre-tax annual salary of a person working 40 hours per week at $7.25 per hour is roughly $15,000. Drop that to $5 an hour and the pre-tax yearly income falls to $10,000.
McGuire is an advocate of overturning all minimum wage legislation and allowing business to compensate employees on their own terms. She sponsored the legislation that ultimately repealed New Hampshire’s minimum wage law—an effort Democratic Gov. John Lynch attempted to veto. Republicans also defeated a Democrat-sponsored bill to up the state’s minimum wage by 75 cents per hour—a hike that would mean an extra $30 a week for New Hampshire’s 4,000 lowest-wage employees.
Republican House Speaker William O’Brien called the minimum wage a “job-killing regulation” and took his own jab at young Americans:
“Minimum wage jobs are often filled by younger workers with no job skills,” he told the Associated Press, arguing that a higher minimum wage would “take an axe to the bottom rung of the career ladder and deny many of those entry-level workers the chance to develop the job skills to have success later in life.”
As ThinkProgress’ Lee Fang notes [http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2011/08/22/301300/minimum-wage-nh/], the $7.25 federal minimum wage is already low—the minimum wage in the 1960s was more than $9 an hour when adjusted to 2006 dollars.
Fang writes: "McGuire’s accusation that “young people” are “not worth the minimum” is a slap in the face to youth around the country who work minimum jobs to support their families, save for college, or are forced to survive without the privileges of inherited wealth or their parents’ income."