Busted: Bankers and The Global Economy

August 1, 2010

Digital Privacy Once Again in the Air

Did you know that a proposed amendment to U.S. surveillance law leaves even lawmakers guessing on privacy implications for internet users? Now why would this be? Invasion of privacy in the United States has been ongoing since Bush and 911. With this amendment, many fear the unlimited reach of the FBI where email and internet surfing are concerned. The royal question is being credited against the Obama administration over the responsibility of the lawmakers in the Senate and House. Last I heard, the Senate and House had little to do with the President. Since the Senate and House have more to say with the construction and final wording of this amendment, clearly a visit to your local lawmakers is in order if you care about such things.

Anyone that has been keeping track of digital privacy and security knows that A.T.&T. is already working in collaboration with the federal government to store and rake through all the data that comes into and leaves the States. Suddenly, fear is rampant about the FBI having free access to all that data without a court order, judge approval or oversight. Suspicion or wrongdoing doesn’t enter the picture, just being relevant to an intelligence or terrorism investigation. This amounts to a free season on personal information, as well as all that spam that you get in your email daily. In effect, little has changed in technical terms.

The FBI has already engaged in widespread and serious misuse of its privilege so far. They illegally collect data from both¬† Americans and foreigners, based on a report by the Justice Department’s inspector general that was concluded in 2007. FBI officials issued 192,499 national security letter requests from 2003 to 2006.

The FBI and other internal agencies like the NSA, have come to rely on free access to your personal email and the like. They have free access to information from telephone providers, banks, credit bureau and business, already holding wide powers where personal information is concerned.

The law already requires Internet service providers to produce the records. The want the power to get whatever details they need from internet sources without litigation or preview by judges. A few lawmakers like Patrick Leahy of Vermont have suddenly become concerned about privacy issues and civil liberties, as if these have not already been violated. It’s all about having the necessary tools to “keep Americans safe.”

If you are wondering why anyone should be concerned, all you to do is to examine the vagueness that “law” is written with. The interpretation is often left to the user or implementing agency to decide. Proponents of this amendment say that it is merely clarifying what Congress intended back in 1993. Oh really?

Since a 2008 justice department opinion, some providers have refused access to internet records and web surfing histories. What do you think? If you aren’t watching what you say in your emails and where you browse, you might think twice.

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October 25, 2008

The Smell of Global Financial Fear

The world of finance doesn’t look pretty at all right now since the time has come to pay the piper. Through the smell of global panic and fear reigns the realization that like all economic cycles, eventually this one will change for the better. When that change happens depends on multiple factors, but sooner or later, the global plight will improve. However, that is not the immediate concern of world leaders. Their accountability and the fear of losing both their power and confidence of the people they lead seems to be at stake. The idea is that the all powerful and nameless investor must be placated at any cost. The reality in many cases is that the governments, central banks and large financial and insurance instituations, to name a few, are the investors. While the world is full of many small investors, the reality is that the parties involved in a global rush to solve the problem are servicing themselves.

Even stranger, the panicked U.S. government has been very quiet on the world scene dealing with their own issues internally in an effort to keep some stability before the Presidential election on November 4th. Instead, American citizens have a marvelous sideshow of Congressional hearings in which many charges and concerns have been made, most of them quite vague. Naturally, little blame has been assigned, but the finger-pointing is legendary. There have been charges by certain lawmakers that information is being withheld in hearings until after the election.

The United States seems no closer to arresting the criminals that have instrumental in bringing the nation and the world to its knees than when they started back in March 2007. The FBI has arrested mostly small-time operators and con men intent on harvesting relatively small deals earlier this summer. The U.S. government has been very hesitant to go beyond the scope of the easy pickings of the small guy. Capital is now so constrained that government intervention seems to be the requirement to save many banking corporations and Corporate Multinationals, notably in the auto industry. Authorities are trying to mask the fear that they feel as they seek to manage the fallout of the entire financial debacle.

Europe already admits to recession. Fear is that cooperation in shoring up banking systems could be threatened as governments begin to turn their attention to reviving domestic demand. What is worse is that shoring up the U.S. financial system through the latest bailout largely depended on a healthy global economy and copious amounts of foreign capital from investors. The global recession makes that old promise seem unlikely at best, furthering coloring negative results. German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck holds that “The danger of a collapse is far from over.”

The Middle East economies, unaquainted with working together, have began to consider doing so, recently showing more interest in working through Europe and Asia or perhaps the global summit in New York City next month. George Bush is keeping most ideas about the economic summit next month to himself. However, he stated that agreeing on common principles to reform regulators would be essential to preventing another disaster. The idea of unity is nice, but the reality is that unity in the system is what has brought the system to the brink of collapse. Clearly, more innovative ideas will be required beyond unity and placation of the masses. ~ E. Manning

June 19, 2008

FBI Begins Kicking Booty in Banker Fraud

The Federal Bureau of Investigation isn’t wasting time. America needs some fall guys. Who better than lying and scheming financial salesmen? Finally, crooked bankers, financial gurus and investment brokers should be shaking in their boots. The FBI is on the stick and hasn’t been wasting much time. Obviously, the preponderance of evidence is huge or the government wouldn’t moving this quickly. Previously, the FBI stated that the first arrests could have taken two years or more.

The first criminal cases of the credit crunch are two former Bear Stearns hedge fund managers, Ralph Cioffi and Matthew Tannin. The men allegedly misled investors in two funds that collapsed last summer on mortgage-backed securities.

Why fall guys you ask? The FBI will have to be up on their numbers (more…)

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