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Big Banks Back to Old Tricks Bundling Loans and Mortgages for Investments

By Matt Bewig | AllGov | April 22, 2013

Proving that those who are not punished for their misdeeds are allowed to repeat them, the Wall Street banks that created and sold risky combinations of mortgages and loans during the pre-2008 boom—and crashed the world economy with them—are doing exactly the same thing again. Once again, financial products with obscure, complex-sounding names like “collateralized debt obligations” and “securitized mortgage instruments,” are being sold by Wall Street to people on Main Street.

The ominous return from the dead of these investments, also called structured financial products, has largely evaded new regulations meant to avert another crisis, prompting concern from financial industry observers. Manus Clancy, managing director at commercial real estate research firm Trepp, worries that “All of this seems like a fairly quick round trip. You are seeing a fair number of sins being forgiven.”

And the sinners who committed those sins are acting like they’ve been forgiven as well. “The players in the business are generally the same as they were before,” noted Tad Philipp, a commercial real estate analyst at Moody’s. “Because it’s the old players, they know how to push the boundaries.”

Wall Street is certainly pushing boundaries on securitized commercial mortgage-backed securities, in which a pool of commercial mortgages are mixed together into bonds, ranked by varying levels of risk. So far in 2013, banks have issued $33.5 billion in such bonds, slightly more than they did in early 2005. Before the 2008 crash, 57% of the outstanding money in such securities was in high-risk interest-only loans, a number that fell hard and fast, to just 11% two years ago. Today, that number has more than tripled to 34%.

Even faster to revive have been collateralized loan obligations, which are pools of loans given to companies with junk ratings. In the first quarter of 2013, banks issued about $26 billion of them—more than in the same period of the last boom year of 2007. Demand has been so strong that banks have started to loosen underwriting standards on the underlying loans and bonds, prompting the Federal Reserve to warn last month that “prudent underwriting practices have deteriorated.”

Those willing to learn from history will recall that securitization—the bundling of many loans into one investment—proved dangerous during the real estate bubble because when the bubble burst, investors learned that the complexity of the instruments had obscured their real risks, leading to unexpected losses by those investors, chaos in the financial system and the Great Recession. They will also recall that those who created these “shoddy deals” and then defrauded their investors escaped wealthy but largely unpunished, and are still working on Wall Street today.

To Learn More:

Wall St. Redux: Arcane Names Hiding Big Risk (by Nathaniel Popper, New York Times)

SEC Tricks Judge to Help Citigroup (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)

Why No Prison for Banksters Who Caused Financial Crisis…Yet? (by David Wallechinsky and Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

April 22, 2013 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Economics, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , | Comments Off on Big Banks Back to Old Tricks Bundling Loans and Mortgages for Investments

FBI’s Track Record On Creating Terrorism Destroys The Official Boston Marathon Bombing Narrative

By Lee Rogers | Blacklisted News | April 21, 2013

The Federal Bureau of Investigation or the FBI has been manufacturing fake terror plots only to later claim that they foiled the same plots that they created. This is a historical fact. They have been doing this for decades and have greatly accelerated these programs following the 9/11 attacks and the official launch of the so-called war on terror. Is it any surprise that the FBI was in close contact with at least one of the two Russian brothers who have been accused by the FBI of being behind the Boston Marathon bombings? It shouldn’t be when you also consider that the FBI actually allowed the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center to go forward and did nothing to stop it. Accusations have even been made by Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols that a high level FBI source had been directing Tim McVeigh in the plot to blow up the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. So not only does the FBI have a track record of creating fake terror plots but they have a track record of allowing real terror plots to take place. With this in mind, the FBI has no credibility with their alleged on-going investigation into the Boston Marathon bombings.

Let’s first take a look back at the FBI’s involvement in the events that led up to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. The FBI actually had foreknowledge of the bombing through one of their informants Emad Salem. Salem was embedded amongst a group of Muslims who the FBI believed were preparing to launch terrorist attacks. The group included Ramzi Yousef and others who would eventually be sentenced to prison in connection with the bombing.

In 1992 roughly a full year before the attack, Salem told his handlers at the FBI that the group was building a bomb. The original plan was for Salem to substitute harmless powder for the explosives but the plan was called off by an FBI supervisor who claimed Salem could be used better in other ways. Not trusting his FBI handlers, Salem recorded many hours of their conversations. The transcripts of these conversations clearly reveal that the FBI knew about a real terrorist plot but did nothing to stop it. The news of these transcripts was reported in media outlets including CBS News and the New York Times.

Moving on to the Oklahoma City bombing, below is an excerpt from a 2007 Salt Lake Tribune article regarding Terry Nichols statement claiming that Tim McVeigh was being directed by the FBI.

Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols says a high-ranking FBI official “apparently” was directing Timothy McVeigh in the plot to blow up a government building and might have changed the original target of the attack, according to a new affidavit filed in U.S. District Court in Utah.

The official and other conspirators are being protected by the federal government “in a cover-up to escape its responsibility for the loss of life in Oklahoma,” Nichols claims in a Feb. 9 affidavit.

Needless to say, the official story of the Oklahoma City bombing is littered with unanswered questions. The documentary film A Noble Lie goes over the mountain of evidence proving that the government had prior knowledge of the Oklahoma City bombing and participated in a massive cover up.

Worse yet, there is a substantial amount of evidence indicating that the government was involved in the attacks themselves. The ATF had offices in the Alfred P. Murrah building but ATF personnel were conveniently told not to come into work the day of the bombing. There were also eyewitness accounts and local media reports confirming that there were in fact multiple bombs inside the building. The only way bombs of such sophistication could have been put inside a secure federal building would be if the people placing them in the building were doing so under some sort of official capacity. This in of itself proves that the Oklahoma City bombings couldn’t have happened unless high level people in the government green lit such an operation. Amazingly, this just represents a small fraction of the evidence proving government involvement in the Oklahoma City bombings.

Since the 9/11 attacks the FBI has been involved in manufacturing a number of terror plots by entrapping a myriad of idiots and bizarre characters. What is significant about this is that these so-called terror plots would not have happened if it weren’t for the activity of undercover FBI informants. There are so many cases of this that it would be almost impossible to include them all in a single article. A book entitled The Terror Factory: Inside the FBI’s Manufactured War on Terrorism written by Trevor Aaronson details several cases of the FBI creating terror plots so they can later make arrests and claim they are making progress in the fake terror war.

Here are just a few of the articles that detail the FBI busting terror plots that they created in the first place.

The FBI again thwarts its own Terror plot

Terrorist Plots, Hatched by the FBI

FBI spreading fears of fake terror plots across the US

FBI Arrests Five in Fake Cleveland Terror Plot

How FBI Entrapment Is Inventing Terrorists and Letting Bad Guys Off the Hook

The Informants

Five New Jersey men convicted in FBI-concocted Fort Dix “terror” case

From the FBI manufacturing fake terror plots to the FBI allowing real terror events to take place, the connection between the FBI and the now allegedly deceased Boston Marathon bomber suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev is highly suspicious. The odds that he and his brother were setup by the FBI are quite high considering the FBI’s historical track record in dealing with such matters. The FBI has still yet to provide any real evidence proving that these two young men were solely responsible for the bombings. All they have going for them is the mockingbird media repeating generalizations and lies that are not backed up with any facts or logic.

It is painfully obvious that the establishment is struggling to link these two men to known terrorist groups or offer a reasonable motive as to why they would use bombs against innocent people. The official narrative is falling apart and the FBI along with the assorted establishment agencies and corporate media outlets are losing more and more credibility the longer they try to sell this ridiculous story to the public.

April 22, 2013 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

As Pentagon Officials Whine about Budget Cuts, How about Canceling some of These Projects?

By Matt Bewig | AllGov | April 22, 2013

Even as Pentagon officials complain that budget cuts threaten to hollow out its ranks and degrade its military capabilities, they have been able to find money for new sun rooms, a museum, golf course netting and other “questionable projects,” according to a Senate Armed Services Committee report released last week.

The report focuses on the military’s $10 billion-a-year overseas construction efforts, about 70% of which is spent in just three countries with a large U.S. troop presence: Japan, South Korea, and Germany. According to the report, much of this spending occurs with little oversight, sometimes in violation of military regulations and Pentagon promises to Congress.

The specific boondoggles include addition of sun rooms to housing for senior officers in Stuttgart, Germany; a $10 million museum in South Korea praising the U.S. Army; and $2.9 million worth of netting around an Army golf course at Camp Zama, Japan.

Perhaps more disturbing than the amounts involved is the surreptitious manner in which the Pentagon spent the money and kept Congress and the public in the dark. The U.S. is withdrawing or relocating troops in all three countries, and as the military relinquishes various facilities to the host countries, they are expected to pay the U.S. for the returned properties. However, a little-known rule lets local American commanders waive these payments in return for work of an equivalent value performed by the host country—without approval from Congress or even the Pentagon itself. Each of the most questionable expenses—the sun rooms in Germany, the pro-Army museum in South Korea and the golf netting in Japan—was financed this way.

“When the Pentagon and the entire federal government face enormous fiscal challenges, the questionable projects and lack of oversight identified in this review are simply unacceptable,” said Sen. Carl Levin (D-Michigan), the committee chairman.

“We are aware of the report, and we take it very seriously,” said Air Force Maj. Robert Firman, a Department of Defense spokesman. “The DOD strives to be a good steward of taxpayer resources and we look forward to discussing it with Congress in the near future.”

April 22, 2013 Posted by | Corruption, Economics, Militarism | , , , , , | Comments Off on As Pentagon Officials Whine about Budget Cuts, How about Canceling some of These Projects?

Obama’s nuclear U-turn: Billions set aside for B61 nukes

Press TV – April 22, 2013

US President Barack Obama is accused of making a U-turn on his nuclear disarmament pledges as his administration plans to allocate billions of dollars for upgrading its atomic arsenal in Europe.

According to newly published figures, the United States will set aside more than USD 10 billion dollars for a life extension program for the B61 bombs and another USD one billion for adding controllable tail fins.

The plan to give new tail fins to nearly 200 B61 gravity bombs stored in Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy and Turkey would give them new mission and new capabilities. The bombs could be delivered by stealth F35 fighter-bombers.

“What will be going back to Europe will be a guided nuclear bomb… Especially when you combine it with F35 with stealth characteristics, that expands the targets you can hold at risk from Europe, because by placing the explosion closer to the target you can choose a lower explosive yield,” Hans Kristensen, a nuclear weapons expert at the Federation of Nuclear Scientists, told The Guardian.

“That is very important as there is less radioactive fallout. For many people this is a great concern because it means making nuclear weapons more ‘usable’,” Kristensen added.

In its Nuclear Posture Review in 2010, the US administration pledged to reduce its nuclear arsenal by not developing new nuclear warheads and vowing that it would not “support new military missions or provide for new military capabilities.”

According to the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, the US is believed to have deployed approximately 1,950 strategic nuclear warheads, including about 200 B61 gravity bombs deployed in five NATO states (Belgium, Italy, Turkey, Germany, and the Netherlands).

It also keeps 2,650 non-deployed warheads in reserve, and 3,000 warheads which are reportedly awaiting disarmament.

“It flies directly in the face of the pledges Obama made in 2010 that he would not deploy new weapons,” Kristensen added.

The US is the only country to have used an atomic bomb in war. Hiroshima was devastated on August 6, 1945 after the US B-29 bomber Enola Gay dropped an atomic bomb on the city, killing an estimated 140,000 people instantly or gradually from radiation sickness and cancers. Three days later, another atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, killing more than 70,000.

The nuclear radiation emitted following the blasts continued to claim thousands of more lives over the past decades.

April 22, 2013 Posted by | Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | 1 Comment

Israel detains Hamas leader’s sons in raid

Ma’an – April 22, 2013

JENIN – Israeli security forces detained the sons of a local Hamas leader overnight in the northern West Bank city of Jenin, locals said.

Locals told Ma’an that Israeli troops raided Gamal al-Haija’s home and detained sons Abed al-Salam, Asem and Hamzeh. Their whereabouts are unknown, residents added.

Teacher Khaled Mohammad al-Haj was also detained after Israeli forces raided his home to the east of the city, a source told Ma’an. Summons were also handed down to three Palestinians in the district, requiring them to meet with Israeli security agents.

Residents also told Ma’an that Israeli forces raided the nearby Jalqamus and al-Yamoun villages, setting up checkpoints at the villages’ entrance and stationing near Yaba’s eastern border.

An Israeli military spokeswoman confirmed three of the four detentions. At least five Palestinians were detained by Israeli forces across the West Bank on Monday.

Three Palestinians were detained in the Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem. A local source identified them as Murad Karaja, 20, Ahmad Hajajra 21, and Ahmad Amer, 21. A resident said Hajajra’s mother was taken to hospital after collapsing during the raid.

Israeli forces also raided a home in the area and handed down summoning notices to brothers Muhammad, Khaled and Aboud al-Azza, the local added.

Troops also raided the refugee camp’s youth center, the resident said.

A source said Israeli forces raided the Azza refugee camp, also in Bethlehem, detaining Jihad Abu Shira and injuring his brother. The brother was taken to the al-Arabiya Hospital in Beit Jala for treatment, the source added.

Meanwhile, Ahmad Ali Musa and Amid Ahmad al-Azza, both 20, were detained by Israeli forces from the village of al-Khader in Bethlehem.

Israel’s army confirmed the detentions in Aida refugee camp but did not return requests for comment on the summons and raids.

April 22, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Israel detains Hamas leader’s sons in raid

Egypt: “We Captured Israeli Spy Cell”

By Saed Bannoura | IMEMC & Agencies | April 22, 2013

Egyptian sources reported, Sunday, that the Egyptian police and security forces uncovered a cell that operated on behalf of Israel in the Sinai area in Egypt.

The sources said that cell members were spying on Egypt and were on constant communication with Israeli security officers.

Israeli Yedioth Aharonoth reported that the spies are eight Palestinian and Egyptian men working for Israel, and that Egypt managed to intercept phone calls between cell members and Israeli officers.

Sameeh Shadi, in charge of the security in northern Sinai, reported on Sunday afternoon that the security forces managed to apprehend the eight, and that the person who ran the spy cell is from the Egyptian city of Rafah, who also managed to pass sensitive information to Israel.

Cell members have been under constant surveillance over the last four months, and were operating in Cairo and northern Sinai.

The Egyptian security services said that it has several tapes of recorded calls cells leaders made with persons in Egypt and Israel security officers.

April 22, 2013 Posted by | Timeless or most popular | , , | Comments Off on Egypt: “We Captured Israeli Spy Cell”

Peter Oborne: How the US messed up a chance for peace with Iran… again

By Cyrus Safdari | Iran Affairs | April 22, 2013

Peter Oborne writes in the Telegraph about how the EU3 violated the Paris Agreement with Iran under US pressure in 2005, and thus missed a chance to make peace with Tehran:

One witness puts the problem like this: “There was not the faintest chance that President George W Bush’s Republican advisers and Israeli allies would allow him to look benignly on such a deal. On the contrary, if the Europeans were to defy American wishes, they would be letting themselves in for a transatlantic row to end all rows…

So the peace proposal from the Iranian negotiators was killed stone dead even though the European negotiating team realised that it was both very well judged and in full conformity with international law.

Of course when Iran then ended the 3 year voluntary suspension of enrichment that accompanied the talks, the EU3 accused Iran of “violating the Paris Agreement.”

Oh and incidentally, earlier in 2003 an Iranian peace offer made to the US was similarly spurned.

So what does Peter Osborn think was really going on?

The answer is that a different agenda is at work, which we believe has little or nothing to do with Iran’s non-existent nuclear weapons. The US and its European clients are driven by a different compulsion: the humiliation and eventual destruction of Iran’s Islamic regime.

And this also corresponds to former IAEA head ElBaradei’s conclusions:

They weren’t interested in a compromise with the government in Tehran, but regime change – by any means necessary.

Allow me to take this opportunity to say, “I TOLD YOU SO!” (Forward to 15:05) or read the excerpt here.

So remember that the next time the corporate media matter-of-factly declares “The goal of these sanctions is to support diplomatic efforts to peacefully resolve the disagreements with Iran without having to resort to violent means.”

April 22, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments