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The latest announcement about "NewCo", the Greenwald/Omidyar venture, is that NYU Prof Jay Rosen is joining them.  Seems that everyone is watching them now and eagerly awaiting their debut.


Out of the press box and onto the field

I am joining up with the new venture in news that Pierre Omidyar, Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and Jeremy Scahill are creating, along with Liliana Segura, Dan Froomkin, Eric Bates and others who are coming on board to give shape to this thing, which we are calling NewCo until we are ready to release the name.

Because it doesn’t exist yet, NewCo could take many forms. Only a handful of those possible paths will lead to a strong and sustainable company that meets a public need. Figuring that out is a hard problem, to which I am deeply attracted. So I signed up to be part of the launch team. This post explains why I made that decision and what I hope to contribute.

McClatchy.
Americans’ personal data shared with CIA, IRS, others in security probe

WASHINGTON — U.S. agencies collected and shared the personal information of thousands of Americans in an attempt to root out untrustworthy federal workers that ended up scrutinizing people who had no direct ties to the U.S. government and simply had purchased certain books.

Federal officials gathered the information from the customer records of two men who were under criminal investigation for purportedly teaching people how to pass lie detector tests. The officials then distributed a list of 4,904 people – along with many of their Social Security numbers, addresses and professions – to nearly 30 federal agencies, including the Internal Revenue Service, the CIA, the National Security Agency and the Food and Drug Administration.

Although the polygraph-beating techniques are unproven, authorities hoped to find government employees or applicants who might have tried to use them to lie during the tests required for security clearances. Officials with multiple agencies confirmed that they’d checked the names in their databases and planned to retain the list in case any of those named take polygraphs for federal jobs or criminal investigations.

It turned out, however, that many people on the list worked outside the federal government and lived across the country. Among the people whose personal details were collected were nurses, firefighters, police officers and private attorneys, McClatchy learned. Also included: a psychologist, a cancer researcher and employees of Rite Aid, Paramount Pictures, the American Red Cross and Georgetown University.

David Dayen: IRS Confirms that $12 Billion in “Mortgage Relief” in National Mortgage Settlement Completely Worthless

Here is why this is important, aside from Californians being spared from getting hit with a tax bill on a short sale. The Justice Department, in the National Mortgage Settlement, allowed short sales in non-recourse states to count toward the penalty the five biggest mortgage servicers “paid.” If the IRS says something is not a thing of value, it’s not a thing of value. The borrower would not be liable to make up the difference of the mortgage after a short sale anyway in a non-recourse state. The servicer didnt “forgive” anything. So the banks got away with paying off their penalty for a series of crimes with completely worthless non-recourse short sales. That’s the implication of the IRS letter.

Think this doesn’t matter? It’s not just applicable to California, but any non-recourse state. There are 12 of them, as I found out when I researched this situation over a year ago. And as of last August, as I wrote, the majority of short sales counted under the settlement were going to non-recourse states, where the servicers had no ability to recoup mortgage balances anyway[...]

I've been waiting for this.  Looks like we might be getting our military involved in Libya again (as if it wasn't a big enough disaster the last time).  Now mind you, despite the "no boots on the ground" claims, our military is already in Libya, according to former special forces Brandon Webb and Jack Murphy of SOFREP, in their book "The Benghazi Report" and and those operations, run out of the White House by John Brennan, are what they believe triggered the attack on the consulate.  With the craziness and then the 60 Minutes fraudulent reports, this part of the story is what I have always thought was the real scandal and oddly enough, none of the scandalmongers have touched it.
U.S. Military Considers a Mission to Train Libyan Security Forces

SIMI VALLEY, Calif. — The United States military is considering a mission to train Libyan security personnel with the goal of creating a force of 5,000 to 7,000 conventional soldiers and a separate, smaller unit for specialized counterterrorism missions, according to the top officer at the United States Special Operations Command.

Speaking on Saturday at the Reagan National Defense Forum at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Library here, the commander, Adm. William H. McRaven, said no final decisions had been made about a training mission to support Libya, where militia violence has increased in recent days.
[...]
“There is probably some risk that some of the people we will be training with do not have the most clean record,” Admiral McRaven said. “At the end of the day, it is the best solution we can find to train them to deal with their own problems.”

North Atlantic Treaty Organization officials say the alliance has sent specialists to Libya to assess how best to run a training program, perhaps in Bulgaria or Italy. American officials said at the forum here that a small number of United States military personnel had also traveled to Libya to assist in the planning.

The bloody disaster of Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan is laid bare
Bombs and militia violence make clear the folly of Britain's wars – the removal of law and order from a nation is devastating

Forty-three people died on Friday in clashes between militias in Libya, as did 22 on Sunday from bombs in Iraq. In Helmand, a return of the Taliban to power is now confidently expected. Why should we care? Why should it feature on our news?

The answer is that we helped to bring it about. Britain's three foreign wars in the past decade were uninvited military interventions to topple installed governments. All have ended in disaster.
[...]
It is hard to exaggerate the misery and chaos created by so-called "liberal interventionism". It is hard to think of a more immoral foreign policy, roaming the (chiefly Muslim) world, killing people and sowing anarchy. That is why the blood-stained consequence should be splashed across headlines. Those who seek political kudos by visiting violence on foreign peoples should never be allowed to forget their deeds.

I note that none of the gung ho "liberal interventionists" who called me and others "Gaddafi lovers" and accused of wanting genocide have said anything in months, years even, about the way they were cheerleading us into this disaster.  It's ridiculous to think that this country does real humanitarian intervention with Tomahawk missiles.  But there is no doubt in my mind that the same liberal warmongers will cheerlead us into the next one too and will attack anyone who opposes it while citing the track record of US "interventions".  
Libya: on the brink of abyss
Libya's dangerous slip into anarchy will have serious implications for Africa.

The deterioration of the political and security situation in Libya has been worsening throughout the year, stocking fears that the country risks total anarchy and civil war. Violence and instability have increased in parts of the country, while the level of insecurity, particularly in cities such as Tripoli and Benghazi, has worsened. Indeed, a simple survey of headlines such as "Libya: Going wrong",  "Libya on the brink",  "Premier's brief 'arrest' highlights anarchy", or "Deepening crisis in Libya", all tell the story of a failing Libya.

The latest violent incident which occurred on November 15, epitomises the gravity of the crisis. In the worst street fighting between one of the revolutionary brigades in Tripoli and residents of the city, at least 32 people were killed and about 400 wounded.

One of the legacies of the rushed military campaign against former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was the dismantling of the security sector and the looting of the weapons stockpiles of the country. The various armed formations and revolutionary brigades that waged the war that toppled Gaddafi, are not integrated into a unified national security architecture. Instead, granting official recognition to a large number of armed groups under the National Transitional Council encouraged the consolidation of the brigades. The recognition brought many of them under the "nominal" authority of either the defence or interior ministry and allowed their proliferation. Yet, the brigades, known locally as Katibas, for the most part, act independently. While only an estimated 50,000 Libyans fought in militias against Gaddafi, the number of brigades has grown and the country's Warriors Affairs Commission believes that currently, there are 250,000 militiamen under arms.

U.S. soldier charged with murder in killing of two Iraqi civilians

A U.S. soldier has been charged with two counts of premeditated murder in the killing of two Iraqi civilians.

The charges against Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael Barbera, 31, stem from an alleged shooting of two civilians near the village of As Sadah in Diyala Province in March 2007. Barbera was charged Wednesday at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Alaska, U.S. Army Public Affairs Officer Major Johnpaul Arnold told the Los Angeles Times.

"AS SADAH, Iraq — Shortly before noon on March 6, 2007, Small Kill Team leader Michael Barbera rose from his squad's position in high grass in a palm grove here and shot two teenage cattle herders.

"A short time later, the Army staff sergeant ordered his soldiers to kill a third teenager walking toward them.

"Barbera would report to his superiors that the three dead boys were insurgents operating out of this farming village about 50 miles northeast of Baghdad."

It would be nice if this kind of mindset and treatment was afforded to all prisoners, especially those who are in for drugs and alcohol related offenses.  I suspect that there might be government money involved in this but the article doesn't say.
Separate jail facilities seek to cut recidivism rates among veterans
The San Diego sheriff offers classes, special housing to increase the chances vets don't repeat offenses. Programs also assist with drug and alcohol abuse.

VISTA, Calif. — The N-Module-3 housing wing at the San Diego County Jail was recently repainted red, white and blue.

Brightly colored paintings now hang on the walls: one of the Statue of Liberty, another of the U.S. flag, and one of a screaming eagle landing with talons outstretched. Hanging from the ceiling are the service flags of U.S. military branches and the POW/MIA flag.

The paintings and the flags are key to a program begun this month that aims to reduce recidivism among veterans who have slipped into the criminal justice system after leaving the structured world of military service.
[...]
The program was spurred both by a sense of obligation toward the veterans and also an increased need to reduce recidivism to accommodate the state's prison realignment program that threatens to overwhelm the capacity of local jails.

Krugman.  You know, I can hardly hold back after reading this.  

I can't help but remember that a number of people, amateurs and experts, equally ignored by the Obama administration, said we needed massive and repeated stimulus the top priority of his presidency. So he went into this eyes wide open, though as we know from articles written about his regular bull sessions with Very Serious Opinion writers, he spends most of his time with them trying to convince them how he's right and his opponents are wrong.  He focused on the debt instead, and on a fairy tale of how federal spending is analogous to a family budget, while at the same time his Fed was printing tens of billions of dollars every month to buy up the toxic mortgage backed securities to prop up the Too Big to Fail banks banks who are now bigger than ever and according to some of the people who have been pretty right all along, still not solvent.  I recall warnings about a Japan-like recovery, a jobless recovery, a decade (at least) of recession.

This is sickening.  But we haven't even gotten to the most vomit inducing part:  Look at who Krugman is quoting.  Larry F'ing Summers in an IMF presentation.  But Larry Summers is talking about a lack of demand as a core problem. This is the argument that sane people who wanted massive and repeated stimulus were making back then when Larry Summers was making sure that didn't happen.  And now he's out there holding court as if he was not in a position to make that happen when it mattered.  It's really hard to hold back here.  Really hard.  The rest of my thoughts on this are redacted.  It begins and ends with a loud WTF?! WTF?! WTF?!

A Permanent Slump?

You might imagine that speculations along these lines are the province of a radical fringe. And they are indeed radical; but fringe, not so much. A number of economists have been flirting with such thoughts for a while. And now they’ve moved into the mainstream. In fact, the case for “secular stagnation” — a persistent state in which a depressed economy is the norm, with episodes of full employment few and far between — was made forcefully recently at the most ultrarespectable of venues, the I.M.F.’s big annual research conference. And the person making that case was none other than Larry Summers. Yes, that Larry Summers.

And if Mr. Summers is right, everything respectable people have been saying about economic policy is wrong, and will keep being wrong for a long time.

[...]

He then made a related point: Before the crisis we had a huge housing and debt bubble. Yet even with this huge bubble boosting spending, the overall economy was only so-so — the job market was O.K. but not great, and the boom was never powerful enough to produce significant inflationary pressure.

Mr. Summers went on to draw a remarkable moral: We have, he suggested, an economy whose normal condition is one of inadequate demand — of at least mild depression — and which only gets anywhere close to full employment when it is being buoyed by bubbles.

Yves Smith response. A must read.  I don't know when, but the way some bellwether type economists are talking, something big (and not good) is on the horizon.  Not that we didn't know that, but for a long time we were coasting and talking about the recovery.  
Krugman, Following Summers, Endorses Asset Bubbles

We have now passed the event horizon into a world run by Dr. Pangloss. In a Sunday afternoon post, Paul Krugman enthusiastically endorses an IMF presentation by Larry Summers which depicts asset bubbles as necessary and desirable. And that means they both agree they should not only continue, they should be encouraged.

I am not making this up. Here are the key bits of Krugman’s post. He starts by saying that the economy is in a liquidity trap, and Summers pretty much agrees even though he does not use that turn of phrase. Krugman continues:

I am not making this up. Here are the key bits of Krugman’s post. He starts by saying that the economy is in a liquidity trap, and Summers pretty much agrees even though he does not use that turn of phrase.[...]

The insanity of all this is that it finesses the elephants in the room: government spending (as in deficits) and business investment. In this topsy-turvy account, Krugman treats the rise in household debt as a good thing, when economic studies have concluded that rising levels of household debt fund generally unproductive activities (as in they are not pro-growth).
[...]
But the really crazy part of this analysis is the primary role it gives to interest rate policy. This is the loanable funds fallacy.
[...]
By e-mail, Marshall Auerback of INET also described the other yawning problem: that the real problem is demand, and that can only be solved by fiscal policy, not by monetary policy. Summers apparently did mention fiscal policy, but it’s not clear how much emphasis he gave it; Krugman treats it as a mere aside in his post.

This might just be wild speculation, but something is going on with NSFWCorp.

Not too long ago they did a fundraiser and raised a significant amount of money (hundreds of thousands, IIRC, though that wouldn't last very long with a print version along with the digital site and with employees).  Then they put this out about ten days ago and laid off three people.

And this a few days later.



Action



Stop Watching Us.

The revelations about the National Security Agency's surveillance apparatus, if true, represent a stunning abuse of our basic rights. We demand the U.S. Congress reveal the full extent of the NSA's spying programs.



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