New York Times Reports – “Fannie and Freddie are Back, Bigger and Badder Than Ever”

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Just in case you still harbored any doubt that absolutely zero lessons were learned from the cataclysmic financial collapse of 2008/09. We learn from the New York Times that:

AFTER the financial crisis of 2008, there was one thing that almost everyone agreed on. The government-sponsored mortgage giants, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, had to go. While shareholders and executives reaped the profits from Fannie and Freddie in good times, taxpayers were stuck with the bill in a crisis. President Obama described their dysfunctional business model as “Heads we win, tails you lose.” But here we are, seven years after the crisis, and nothing has changed.

In the 2008 crisis, when it looked as if Fannie and Freddie might go bankrupt, Henry M. Paulson Jr., then the Treasury secretary, argued that their fall would cause economic catastrophe. Foreign investors, stuck with their securities, would panic, and the mortgage market would shut down. So Fannie and Freddie were put into something called conservatorship, and are now government controlled, supported by a line of credit from the Treasury.

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How Jeb Bush’s Recent Speech Bashing Lobbyists Was Organized by Lobbyists

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Last week, the Clinton, Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio campaigns filed reports with the Federal Election Commission to list their lobbyist bundlers, revealing that all three have relied on Akin Gump for campaign cash. In Clinton’s case, her campaign not only used Akin Gump lobbyists as bundlers, but the Clinton campaign treasurer, Jose H. Villarreal, works for Akin Gump’s lobbying division, though he is not registered as a lobbyist. In addition, former Sen. John Sununu, R-N.H., who is now employed by Akin Gump, has been tapped to raise money for the presidential campaign of Gov. John Kasich, R-Ohio, who kicked off his candidacy on Tuesday.

“As a result of the breadth and depth of our experience and relationships, our firm is well positioned to represent its clients — regardless of which party controls the legislative or executive branch,” boasts the Akin Gump website, touting the firm’s lobbying practice.

– From the Intercept article:  Lobbyists Fundraising for Clinton, Bush, Rubio and Kasich Are Coworkers

The most amusing aspect of the run-up the 2016 U.S. Presidential election is to watch establishment Democrat and Republican candidates scramble to reinvent themselves to fit the dramatically changed political environment. While a sizable portion of the American public remains clueless about virtually everything happening the world around them, enough people have woken up to the disastrous fraud that is the two-party political system and they’ve had enough. As a result, you see establishment clowns like Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush scramble to pretend to be outsiders when they are the consummate insiders. Naturally, this is impossible and watching them flail and flounder like fish out of water is extremely gratifying.

Before I get into the meat of this post, a great article published at the Intercept today demonstrates just how completely captured by corporate money these useless candidates really are. We learn that:

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Here’s What Happens When Hackers Shut Down a Jeep’s Engine Going 70mph on a Highway

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Some of you have probably already read Wired’s shocking article published yesterday titled: Hackers Remotely Kill a Jeep on the Highway—With Me in It. If not, I strongly suggest getting caught up.

If two guys working out of a basement estimate they can hack 471,000 vehicles made by Chysler from their couch, just imagine what a more sophisticated and well funded team can do.

Here are some excerpts from Wired:

I WAS DRIVING 70 mph on the edge of downtown St. Louis when the exploit began to take hold. 

Though I hadn’t touched the dashboard, the vents in the Jeep Cherokee started blasting cold air at the maximum setting, chilling the sweat on my back through the in-seat climate control system. Next the radio switched to the local hip hop station and began blaring Skee-lo at full volume. I spun the control knob left and hit the power button, to no avail. Then the windshield wipers turned on, and wiper fluid blurred the glass.

As I tried to cope with all this, a picture of the two hackers performing these stunts appeared on the car’s digital display: Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek, wearing their trademark track suits. A nice touch, I thought.

The Jeep’s strange behavior wasn’t entirely unexpected. I’d come to St. Louis to be Miller and Valasek’s digital crash-test dummy, a willing subject on whom they could test the car-hacking research they’d been doing over the past year. The result of their work was a hacking technique—what the security industry calls a zero-day exploit—that can target Jeep Cherokees and give the attacker wireless control, via the Internet, to any of thousands of vehicles. Their code is an automaker’s nightmare: software that lets hackers send commands through the Jeep’s entertainment system to its dashboard functions, steering, brakes, and transmission, all from a laptop that may be across the country.

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How Lobbyists for Monsanto, Exxon Mobil, Microsoft and the Telecom Industry are Bundling Funds for Hillary

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The pantsuit revolutionary is at it again. Once again demonstrating her populist chops by employing the services of lobbyists to bundle millions in campaign funds. It’s no wonder opinion polls on her have been plunging as of late.

We learn from Bloomberg that:

When Barack Obama was running for the presidency in 2008—and later for reelection in 2012—he promised he wouldn’t take money from registered lobbyists, not even as bundlers. In the race to succeed him, Hillary Clinton is not following in his footsteps.

The former secretary of state raised more than $2 million from 40 “bundlers”—fundraisers who get their contacts to give to campaigns—who were also lobbyists, according to financial forms released Wednesday by the Federal Election Commission. In all, the Clinton campaign raised $46.7 million between the beginning of April and the end of June.

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U.S. Government Reinstates Arm Sales to Bahrain Despite Rampant Human Rights Abuses

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One of the many destructive myths Americans like to tell themselves is that the U.S. government is a staunch defender of human rights and democracy around the world. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth.

Yes its true, there are plenty of well intentioned individuals and organizations across America that do care very deeply about such things; the U.S. government just isn’t one of them. The facts on the ground clearly prove this to be the case. The only thing those in charge care about is raw imperial power and money. Of course, they know this. They also know that keeping the myth alive is extremely important in order to maintain the moral high ground and some degree of legitimacy in the eyes of the public.

The most recent example of what a sham the government’s purported commitment to human rights is, was last week’s revelation that the State Department may be prepared to upgrade Malaysia’s trafficking in persons ranking just to move the TPP forward. Here’s an excerpt from the post, To Pass TPP, U.S. State Dept. Upgrades Malaysia’s Human Trafficking Ranking Despite Discovery of Mass Graves:

Earlier this week, we wrote about a troubling move by the US State Department to “upgrade” Malaysia from a “tier 3″ country to a “tier 2″ country regarding human trafficking. This move came despite a near total lack of evidence of any improvement by Malaysia. In fact, just two months ago 139 mass graves were discovered for migrant workers who had been trafficked and/or held for ransom. And the US ambassador to Malaysia had publicly criticized the country for failing to tackle its massive human trafficking problem.

Today, we learn about how the U.S. government has reinstated arm sales to Bahrain despite horrific human rights abuses. From International Business Times:

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Yanis Varoufakis on “Europe’s Vindictive Privatization Plan for Greece”

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A man in debt is so far a slave.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

The one silver lining to emerge from Yanis Varoufakis’ resignation as Finance Minister of Greece, is his ability and willingness to come out and bluntly tell everybody the truth about what happened behind closed doors as Greece was put into conservatorship.

I highlighted one example of this last week in the post, Everything You Need to Know About the Greek Crisis and ECB Fascism in Two Paragraphs, in which we learned that:

Varoufakis said that Schäuble, Germany’s finance minister and the architect of the deals Greece signed in 2010 and 2012, was “consistent throughout”. “His view was ‘I’m not discussing the program – this was accepted by the previous [Greek] government and we can’t possibly allow an election to change anything.

 “So at that point I said ‘Well perhaps we should simply not hold elections anymore for indebted countries’, and there was no answer. The only interpretation I can give [of their view] is, ‘Yes, that would be a good idea, but it would be difficult. So you either sign on the dotted line or you are out.’”

In his latest revelation, Mr. Varoufakis explains how the “Troika” rejected his proposal for the privatization of certain Greek public assets in favor of the draconian one which was ultimately agreed to.

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Subprime Auto Loan “Titan” Foolishly Proclaims There’s Nothing to Worry About

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Some of you will read the title of this post and wonder why I chose to cover this in light of all the other things happening in the world. While the rapidly growing subprime auto market might seem unimportant on a relative basis, I think it’s very significant as a microcosm of the many failures within the U.S. economy since the financial crisis, during which oligarchs were bailed out and the rest of the nation was left hung out to dry.

I best summarized how disturbing current trends in the U.S. economy are in the post, Land of the Debt Serf – How “Auto Title Loan” Companies are Ruthlessly Preying on America’s Growing Underclass. With regard to trend toward debt serfdom, I noted:

Think about how troubling this is for a second. In the run-up to the last crisis, Americans borrowed on their home equity and used the proceeds to remodel kitchens, etc. Now these same Americans are so completely broke, the only asset they can borrow against is their cars, and they are desperately using the money to purchase groceries, pay cable bills, etc. Thank you Ben Bernanke.

Even worse, more than 10% of these debt serfs end up losing their cars. What will they end up borrowing against after the next crisis, their organs?

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No Capital Controls for Oligarchs – Warren Buffett Buys Greek Island

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If you want to see what unrestrained parasitic financial oligarchy ultimately looks like, look no further than the humanitarian crisis in Greece turned unprecedented billionaire opportunity. With global wealth becoming more and more systemically concentrated in the hands of “insiders,” empty flats bought for tens of millions of dollars in London and Manhattan no longer cut it. These guys have billions of dollars to burn, which means they need to start buying countries; or at least parts of countries, once they’ve been intentionally run into the ground via vulture financial colonialism.

Enter Warren Buffett. Sure, he’s a harmless old grandpa, just like yours. He loves cherry coke, hamburgers, Dairy Queen, America and, you know, Greek islands.

From Newsweek:

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett has joined up with Italian real estate agent Alessandro Proto to purchase a Greek island off the coast of Athens.

Consistently ranked as one of the wealthiest men in the world, Buffett and Italian millionaire Proto, acquired the island of St Thomas for €15m last Thursday, Proto Enterprises confirmed today.

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Former High Ranking U.S. Senator Wants to “Hang Edward Snowden on the Courthouse Square”

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We need to hang him on the courthouse square as soon as we get a hold of him.

– Former vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Saxby Chambliss, on Edward Snowden

It appears the past few days have represented a sort of coming out party for formerly powerful players in the U.S. government to showcase their fascist tendencies. Earlier today, I highlighted General Wesley Clark’s clear suggestion during a MSNBC interview that Americans who are “disloyal” should be forcibly separated from the “normal” general population through the use of WWII style internment camps.

In the latest display, video has emerged of former Republican Senator, and ex-vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, saying that Edward Snowden should be hanged in the courthouse square. What ever happened to fair trials?

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A Fascinating New Interview with Wikileaks’ Julian Assange

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SPIEGEL: Who uses these methods? 

Assange: The British GCHQ has its own department for such methods called JTRIG. They include blackmail, fabricating videos, fabricating SMS texts in bulk, even creating fake businesses with the same names as real businesses the United Kingdom wants to marginalize in some region of the world, and encouraging people to order from the fake business and selling them inferior products, so that the business gets a bad reputation. That sounds like a lunatic conspiracy theory, but it is concretely documented in the GCHQ material allegedly provided by Edward Snowden…

SPIEGEL: What does this “colonization” look like? 

Assange: These corporations establish new societal rules about what activities are permitted and what information can be transmitted. Right down to how much nipple you can show. Down to really basic matters, which are normally a function of public debate and parliaments making laws. Once something becomes sufficiently controversial, it’s banned by these organizations. Or, even if it is not so controversial, but it affects the interests that they’re close to, then it’s banned or partially banned or just not promoted.

– From the recent Spiegel interview of Julian Assange

Ever since I read the lengthy and extremely interesting discussion between Google’s Eric Schmidt and Wikileaks’ Julian Assange, I always try to make an effort to hear what the man has to say from his forced asylum in Ecuador’s London embassy.

His latest interview is with Germany’s Spiegel and it doesn’t disappoint. Here are a few of my favorite excerpts, but it’s worth reading the entire thing.

From Spiegel:

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