America’s Corrupt Institutions – Paul Craig Roberts

Every public institution in the United States and most private ones are corrupt.
To tell this story would be a multi-book task. Lawrence Stratton and I have written one small volume of the story. Our book, The Tyranny of Good Intentions, now with two editions and multiple printings, documents the corruption of law in the United States and has been cited in rulings by Federal District and Appeal Court judges.
Law is just one public institution, but it is a corner stone of society. When law goes, everything goes.
Only about 4 percent of federal felony cases go to trial. Almost all, 96 percent, are settled by negotiated plea bargains. Law & Order Conservatives condemn plea bargains for the wrong reason. They think plea bargains let criminals off easy.
In fact, plea bargains are used by prosecutors to convict the innocent along with the guilty. Plea bargains eliminate juries and time-consuming trials, that is, plea bargains eliminate all work on the part of prosecutors and police and lead to high conviction rates for prosecutors, the main indicator of their career success. Once upon a time, prosecutors pursued justice. They carefully examined police investigations and only indicted suspects whose conviction they thought could be obtained by a jury. Sloppy police work was discarded.

This post was published at Paul Craig Roberts on August 27, 2014.

Comcast Data Breach of Unlisted Phone Numbers Threatens Customers

The longer my information is out there, the worse the issue gets, yet still no action. I have paid for unpublishing my information for years as I testified in a murder trial. Now, my wife, children, and I are [a]ll in danger; and I have nowhere to turn.
Four years ago, users of Comcast’s phone service who had paid for their personal information to be unlisted noticed that something was amiss. Complaints started appearing from these individuals who found their names, addresses, and telephone numbers in phone directories both online and off.
Later, it was revealed that this breach of confidential information affected more than 74,000 individuals and households in California – over half of Comcast’s users in California with unlisted numbers. While the breach hit California the hardest, it also occurred with Comcast customers in other states. These numbers were treated just like ordinary listed phone numbers, licensed by Comcast to ‘publishers,’ directory assistance providers, and apparently passed on to other databases and published for everyone to see.
This is but one example of how a mistake in an industry built upon the acquisition and selling of personal information can hurt people. And this is why California law requiresphone companies to protect their customers’ unlisted or non-published phone numbers. The California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has opened up an investigation [pdf] to determine whether and to what extent Comcast may have broken the law in allowing this release of non-published numbers.

This post was published at Wolf Street on August 26, 2014.

Burger King Flips Obama the Bird; BK, Warren Buffet, Greg Mankiw, Barry Ritholtz, Mish on Corporate Tax Inversion “Fairness”

Obama Condemns CEOs
President Obama is fed up with corporations no paying their “fair tax”.
On August 24, Bloomberg reported Inversion Express Slows to Crawl as Obama Condemns CEOs
On July 24 Obama referred to companies looking to shift their domicile as ‘corporate deserters’ and aides pledged to curtail the practice with or without Congressional approval.
Since then, no companies have announced any of these deals — known as inversions — and it’s no coincidence, according to lawyers and investment bankers. The presidential rhetoric has caused several companies exploring inversions to put on the brakes to see what emerges from the political debate, people familiar with the preparations said.
Between mid-June and late-July, when Obama ramped up his criticism of the deals by calling companies that strike them ‘corporate deserters,’ at least five large American companies announced plans for inversions, including AbbVie Inc. and Medtronic Inc. (MDT) Since the start of 2012, 21 U. S. companies have announced or completed such deals, or almost half the total of 51 such transactions in the last three decades.
After Obama called for ‘economic patriotism’ from business leaders in July, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said the agency was examining options for new rules that wouldn’t require Congressional sign-off.

This post was published at Global Economic Analysis on Monday, August 25, 2014.

Forensic Expert Says Foley Murder Video “May Have Been Staged”

While there have been many suggestions, some of very dubious nature others not so much, that the ISIS video showing the execution of James Foley may have been staged, faked or otherwise fabricated (especially after Scotland Yard warnedthat sharing or merely viewing the infamous YouTube clip of Foley’s murder is a crime and is punishable under anti-terror laws, stunning virtually everyone), it wasn’t until today that an actual forensic expert opined – apparently one who isn’t afraid of the criminal charges headed their way – that something may be wrong with the 4 minute 40-second clip. TheTelegraph reports that an “international forensic science company which has worked for police forces across Britain, suggested camera trickery and slick post-production techniques appear to have been used.”

This post was published at Zero Hedge on 08/25/2014

The ‘Sunni Turn’ Against The ‘Shiite Crescent’: How The Strategic Stupidity Of Washington And Its Allies Created ISIS

The Islamic State in Syria (ISIS) is being touted as the newest ‘threat’ to the American homeland: hysterics have pointed to Chicago as the locus of their interest, and we are told by everyone from the President on down that if we don’t attack them – i.e. go back into Iraq (and even venture into Syria) to root them out – they’ll soon show up on American shores.
How is this supposed to work? Well, you see, that monster who beheaded James Foley had a British accent, and there are reports of more than a few Brits (and Americans) traveling to Syria to fight on behalf of ISIS. So these jihadi ‘internationalists’ could always just fly back to either Britain or the US, where another 9/11 would shortly be in the works.
Let’s put aside the FBI statement that, while Americans abroad may be in some unspecified degree of danger, ISIS represents ‘no credible threat’ to the continental United States. If we take the ISIS-threatens-us-at-home war propaganda seriously we have to believe Western law enforcement agencies, with all the tools at their command – including near total surveillance of online and telephonic communications worldwide – have no idea what dubious characters have traveled to Syria via, say, New York or London, and would in any case be powerless to prevent their return.
In short, we have to invade yet another country (or two) because our own post-9/11 security arrangements are virtually nonexistent – in spite of having spent untold billions on building them up.
Can that really be true?

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner on August 25, 2014