Your Wall Street Slumlord Arrives in Europe – Goldman and Other Financial Firms Launch “Buy to Rent” in Spain

Screen Shot 2014-08-29 at 3.15.21 PMLiberty Blitzkrieg was early in reporting on the trend of financial firms entering the U.S. residential real estate market with “all-cash” bids for tens of thousands of homes with the intention of turning former homeowners into permanent sources of rental income. The first of many pieces I published on the topic was in January 2013, titled: America Meet Your New Slumlord: Wall Street.

Now that the financial oligarchs have had their way with the U.S. property market, to the point that average citizens can’t even afford to own a home (Zillow recently showed that 1 in 3 homes are unaffordable), it appears they have turned their sights overseas. What better market for bailed-out bankers to feast on than Spain, with its 50%+ youth unemployment rate and a continued depressed real estate market.

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A “Ring of Steel” – The UK Spends $80 Million on a Massive Fence to Protect Politicians Ahead of NATO Summit

Screen Shot 2014-08-29 at 12.07.54 PMMost of us woke up this morning to news that the UK had raised its terror threat level from “substantial” to “severe.” Considering the competence and trustworthiness of the nation’s Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre, there must be some specific threat they’re concerned about to justify instilling fear in a population of 65 million. Nope.

Although the new threat level rates the risk of an attack on the UK to “highly likely,” Home Secretary Theresa May stated that “there was no evidence to suggest one was imminent.” Well then.

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Poverty Profiteering in 2014 – Introducing Private Probation Companies

As N.P.R. reported in May, services that “were once free, including those that are constitutionally required,” are now frequently billed to offenders: the cost of a public defender, room and board when jailed, probation and parole supervision, electronic monitoring devices, arrest warrants, drug and alcohol testing, and D.N.A. sampling. This can go to extraordinary lengths: in Washington state, N.P.R. found, offenders even “get charged a fee for a jury trial — with a 12-person jury costing $250, twice the fee for a six-person jury.”

- From Tuesday’s New York Times op-ed, The Expanding World of Poverty Capitalism 

We’ve all heard about the private prison industry by now. An idea so insane and so rampant with perverse incentives that no civilized society would ever allow such a concept to take hold. Yet taken hold it has in the Banana Republic formally known as America.

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“A Man of Many Perversions” – Federal Cybersecurity Head Convicted of Child Porn Charges

The following story is a warning as to why centralized power is so dangerous. It doesn’t matter whether the power is political or corporate, overly centralized power in all forms must be resisted whenever it appears. The worst of all worlds is when centralized political and corporate power unite in an unholy alliance, which is what has happened to America in recent decades. When this occurs, the combined forces of oligarchy simply begin to rapaciously feast on the citizenry with zero accountability. This is a fair description of the United States in 2014.

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Video of the Day – Chris Hedges on Overthrowing the Corporate Fascist State

The relationship between those who are constantly watched and tracked, and those who watch and track them, is the relationship between masters and slaves.

- Chris Hedges

Below you will find an extremely powerful and inspiring speech by Chris Hedges. The award winning journalist has been ahead of the curve on many issues of national and global importance, including being one of the earliest critics of the Iraq war. Chris has an unshakable moral compass and a passion to match it. He has been a shining light in a sea of darkness and cowardice when it comes to public figures speaking truth to power, including having led the charge to sue the Obama administration on the right to imprison American citizens without trial.

Thank you for all you do, Chris.

In Liberty,
Michael Krieger

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Putting Ferguson in Context – New Jersey Man Faced 5 Years in Jail Before Dashcam Video Proved Police Abuse

*Note: While the following incident happened in 2012, it helps put the recent events in Ferguson in context, particularly for privileged white people who don’t have to deal with police abuse on a daily basis. Marcus Jeter was only cleared in February 2014, once the dashcam video surfaced.

Sarah Wallace: “If this tape hadn’t surfaced?”

Marcus: “I’d be in jail.”

This video was only turned over by Bloomfield police after Jeter’s attorney filed a request for records; at the time prosecutors were insistent that Jeter do prison time.

“The first plea was 5 years,” said Jeter.

Sarah: “Your hands are up.” 

Jeter: “My hands are up.” 

Jeter: “As soon as they opened the door, one officer reached in an punched me in my face.” He adds, “As he’s trying to take off my seatbelt, I’m thinking something is going to go wrong…”

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Letter Reveals Tony Blair Advised Kazakhstan’s President on How to Spin Massacre of Innocent, Unarmed Protesters

Screen Shot 2014-08-27 at 11.35.49 AMIt doesn’t matter who pays Tony Blair, as long as Tony Blair gets paid. When he’s not busy committing war crimes or advising JP Morgan, the former UK Prime Minister (who has amassed a fortune estimated at over $115 million) can be found doing public relations work for some of the world’s most autocratic rulers, such as Kazakhstan’s Nursultan Nazarbayev.

There’s nothing warm and fuzzy about Kazakhstan. In its latest global corruption index, Transparency International ranked Kazakhstan as one of the most corrupt countries on earth in its latest report, 140 out of 177 to be precise (the higher your rank the more corrupt). The oil and gas rich former Soviet Republic has a horrible record when it comes to human rights, but that doesn’t stop Tony Blair from advising the country’s leadership in exchange for millions of dollars per year.

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Monks and Martyrs: A Controversial Perspective on Dissent in 21st Century America

Two months ago, I highlighted a powerful video from Warren Pollock in the post: Video of the Day – The Religion of Consumerism. Today, I am highlighting another one of his videos.

While this one is no less interesting, it’s likely to be quite a bit more controversial. He poses questions that philosophers have no doubt pondered from the very first moment human beings came together to organize into centralized political structures.

Namely, what is the responsibility of a citizen in a society in which the majority is ruled by a small minority? By living passively within this system has a citizen de facto given his or her consent to the minority? If so, is that citizen therefore ultimately responsible for the fate of the society as a whole?

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The Bailout of Robert Mugabe – How Wall Street Money Led to Intimidation, Torture and Death in Zimbabwe

Four days later, Camec announced it was using the money it raised to purchase a joint venture with the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corp., or ZMDC, Mugabe’s state-owned mining company. The joint venture owned the platinum stakes on the Great Dyke that had been taken back just a few weeks earlier from Anglo American. The price included $5 million in cash; Camec issued shares to partners whose identities were shielded by a shell company based in the British Virgin Islands; and $100 million to Mugabe’s government. Camec said the $100 million was a cash loan “to comply with its contractual obligations to the government of Zimbabwe” for the platinum claims. It said the money would be repaid out of ZMDC’s share of future platinum earnings. Camec’s balance sheets for the period make clear that funding for the platinum rights came from the private transactions involving Och-Ziff.

- From the excellent Bloomberg article, The Hedge Fund and the Despot 

The $100 million figure mentioned above that flowed directly to Zimbabwe’s brutal dictator Robert Mugabe was more than just a cash infusion to a corrupt dictator. Rather, it was a veritable political lifeline to a desperate and vulnerable despot. Facing defeat in the initial round of elections to the opposition, and with the nation’s currency hyper-inflating, the only thing he had at his disposal were valuable platinum assets that were at the time held by Anglo American Platinum. So Mugabe did what any desperate tyrant would do. He expropriated the assets from Anglo-American and immediately put them on the market to raise money to crush his opposition. Enter Wall Street.

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How Senator Jay Rockefeller (Worth Over $100 Million) Shamelessly Wastes Taxpayer Money

Screen Shot 2014-08-22 at 7.54.43 AMJust in case you still had any lingering doubt about how members of Congress see themselves, and the lack of any sort of respect they have for taxpayer dollars, you need to look no further than Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia.


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