Thursday, August 8, 2013

August 8



Legion of Doom

Via Gawker:

Embassy-Closing Terror Plot Uncovered on Al Qaeda Conference Call

For the first time in history, a group of managers were able to sit down and prepare for a major project on a conference call. It's just that all the managers were al Qaeda managers, and the major project was a terrorist attack.

A bizarre story from The Daily Beast, based on clearly targeted leaks from U.S. officials, holds that the communications intercepted by the U.S. government wasn't just any old email or text—it was a full conference call between nearly two dozen representatives from various al Qaeda branches.

"This was like a meeting of the Legion of Doom," one U.S. intelligence officer told The Daily Beast, referring to the coalition of villains featured in the Saturday morning cartoon Super Friends.

In case you were wondering why al Qaeda has thus far been unable to follow up on the spectacularly successful (from their point of view) September 11 attacks, this conference call may provide a critical clue: Perhaps, like many a Silicon Valley wunderkind before them, al Qaeda's senior management team transformed a once-agile organization into a stodgy, hidebound old clunker of a corporation and have since occupied themselves with meetings, PowerPoints and mission / vision statement revisions. Either that or someone droned the shit out of every new project launch leader.

The Gawker article also contains some interesting speculation on why US officials are releasing this information now, why they're willing to reveal intelligence-gathering methods they want to jail Snowden for disclosing, why they're closing down embassies again, etc. Worth a read.


JP Morgan Chase revealed in a regulatory filing Wednesday that the bank faces civil and criminal investigations over its dealing of shoddy mortgage securities that led to the 2008 financial crisis. It was the first time the bank has acknowledged the probe. The filing revealed that U.S. district attorneys have preliminarily concluded JPMorgan flouted federal laws by selling subprime mortgages from 2005-2007. The criminal investigation is in an earlier phase, and it's not the only legal threat the bank faces. Federal prosecutors in Philadelphia are examining whether JPMorgan duped investors into buying worthless securities. All in all, the bank faces scrutiny from eight federal agencies, a state regulator, and two European nations.


JPMorgan is also one of 18 banks that a federal regulator accused of selling troubled loans to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — the government-controlled mortgage finance giants — without fully disclosing the potential risks. The regulator, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, recently rejected a settlement offer from JPMorgan, the people briefed on the matter said, raising the prospect of a drawn-out legal battle.

In the latest investigations out of California and Philadelphia, federal prosecutors are examining whether JPMorgan ignored evidence of broad flaws among the loans that were ultimately pooled and sold to investors, the people briefed on the matter said. The California investigation is aimed at the mortgage business that JPMorgan inherited after its purchase of Washington Mutual, the people said. It is unclear what prompted the inquiry in Philadelphia.

Facing the onslaught of unwanted attention, JPMorgan has moved to settle some cases. The bank recently struck a $410 million settlement with the nation's top energy regulator, which had accused the bank of devising "manipulative schemes" to transform "money-losing power plants into powerful profit centers."

On Tuesday, Bank of America found itself in the government's cross hairs when the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission accused the bank of defrauding investors by greatly overstating the quality of mortgages backing roughly $850 million in securities. The bank has contested the accusations.


Former Navy Chaplain: Jesus Wants You to 'Sell Your Clothes and Buy a Gun'


Virginia's Right-Wing 'Crisis Pregnancy Centers' Caught On Tape Lying To Women




Chris Christie has released his first wave of campaign ads for the 2016 presidential elections! Oh no wait, no, these are not campaign ads, they are Jersey Shore tourism ads, can't you tell? They are public service ads to promote tourism! Because everybody wants to go to a beach full of Chris Christies. That's why it is totally okay for Christie to spend $4.7 million from Hurricane Sandy relief money with some PR firm called MWW — which happens to be $2 million MORE than another bid — on shameless self-promotion, or, as the always yelling Christie yells it, this selfless effort to promote tourism. These particular ads also cost more because they had Christie starring in themREAD MORE »


NOAA report released yesterday brought more bad news concerning global climate change.

It should be noted that a number of congressmen are currently trying to cut funding for NOAA and increase funding for severe weather warning systems in their home states instead.

Also — here's Senator Tom Harkin dishing harsh reality.

"I'm not naming any names, but one senator got up from a southern state and said, 'Well, you've got to understand that to my people down here, Obama seems like he's exotic,'" Harkin told the newspaper. "That he's just exotic, he doesn't share our values."

Asked if he could name another American era as polarizing as today, Harkin said "Sure — the Civil War."


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