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Monthly Archives: April 2014

The White House is set to propose major changes to the NSA phone-metadata-surveillance program amid criticism over citizens’ privacy

by Taboola

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President Obama is set to announce a new proposal to scale back one of the most sweeping and controversial national-security surveillance programs in U.S. history, according to multiple reports.

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The proposal, which will be presented to Congress, would end the National Security Agency’s collection of vast amounts of data about U.S. phone calls, according to the New YorkTimes, which first reported the plan.

 

The Obama proposal is the most significant White House effort yet to address the global furor that was sparked after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked reams of classified documents about the NSA’s secret snooping programs. The proposal would end the NSA’s bulk collection of so-called phone metadata, which includes the number the target called, when the call was made and how long the conversation lasted.

The NSA phone-metadata-collection program was part of a secret U.S. surveillance system that former President George W. Bush approved after the 9/11 attacks. It remained hidden from the public until the Snowden revelations.

Under the Obama proposal, the phone records would instead be retained by phone companies, including AT&T and Verizon. Those companies would not be required to retain the data for a longer period of time than they do now, the Times said. The proposed policy shift was not unexpected — it was one of the major recommendations of the President’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies, which delivered its report in December.

MORE:

NSA Spying Scandal Could Cost U.S. Tech Giants Billions)

The timing of the White House proposal is also not a surprise. The current court order authorizing the NSA program — which the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) must approve every three months — expires on Friday. The U.S. has decided to renew the NSA metadata-collection program for at least one more 90-day cycle, the Times said. The purpose of the program is to identify possible terrorist threats to the U.S., but government officials have offered scant evidence that the system has actually thwarted any major terrorist attacks.

On Tuesday, Representative Mike Rogers, the Michigan Republican, and Representative C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, the Maryland Democrat, will introduce bipartisan legislation also designed to scale back the NSA’s bulk collection of phone metadata. The two lawmakers told the Washington Post on Monday that their goal is that their bill “can be the compromise vehicle that arrives at the President’s desk.”

The White House proposal differs from the Rogers-Ruppersberger legislation in key respects. The former would maintain FISC oversight with respect to individual phone-record orders, while the latter “would have the court issue an overarching order authorizing the program, but allow the NSA to issue subpoenas for specific phone records without prior judicial approval,” the Times said.

Instead of collecting and storing the phone records of millions of Americans, the White House proposes to obtain “individual orders” from the FISC that apply “only to records linked to phone numbers a judge agrees are likely tied to terrorism,” the Times reported. Under the current policy, the NSA holds the phone data for five years, under authorization by Section 215 of the Patriot Act.

The proposal will not require that phone companies retain the data “longer than the 18 months that federal regulations already generally require,” the paper reported, after intelligence agencies determined that the impact of that change “would be small because older data is less important.”

Under the new system, the FISC would require the phone companies to “swiftly provide” phone records “on a continuing basis,” including data about “any new calls placed or received after the order is received,” the Times reported. The new system would also allow the U.S. to seek phone records for people “two calls, or ‘hops,’ removed” from the original number that is being scrutinized, according to the paper.

Lauren Weinstein, a tech-policy expert and privacy advocate, expressed guarded optimism about the White House proposal. “On its face, this sounds like a definite improvement over the status quo of the program, but the devil will be in the details,” Weinstein says.

Reached by TIME, representatives of Verizon and AT&T both declined to comment on the White House proposal. Earlier this year, AT&T and Verizon began issuing so-called transparency reports providing data on the number of law-enforcement requests for customer information that the company receives in the U.S. and other countries. Those reports do not separately disclose information about orders made under FISA, but instead combine such orders with other government requests.

 

 

 

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The Rule of Gold

By Jeff D. Opdyke, Executive Editor of The Sovereign Investor
With Nazis pressing in from the West and Soviets on the march from the East, officials inside the Polish central bank had but one option: get their country’s gold out of Poland.

It was September 1939, the eve of war. In the dark of night, Polish officials secreted the country’s gold – estimated at between 75 and 83 tons – onto trucks and sent them packing for Constanţa, a port on Romania’s Black Sea coast 1,000 miles to the south. All along the way, Nazis tried to intercept the shipment as it switched between trucks, buses and trains. Through sheer luck, the Poles managed to sneak their valuable cargo onto the SS Eocene, a British tanker that had been diverted to Romania to help Poland protect its national treasure from the fascists.

Over the next several weeks Poland’s gold landed in Istanbul, Beirut and the vaults of Banque de France in Paris before ultimately coming to rest at Threadneedle Street, London, the address of the Bank of England, where Poland’s patrimony has spent the past 74 years.

Now, after all these years, Poland wants its gold back.

The message: Even governments no longer trust the global, fiat monetary system. Nor should you.

BOMBSHELL: Research Of Government Doc’ FT900 Exposes “Next 9/11”

What you are about to see is based on information obtained from a little-known document published by a non-descript Federal office located one mile from the White House. The following presentation not only reveals the contents of this document, but it walks you through the exact timeline of how and when this catastrophic event is scheduled to occur … and how it will reshape America forever. You have until April 24th to take all the necessary steps to protect yourself and your family.

Poland is just the latest in a collection of governments that no longer want their gold held in U.S. and U.K. vaults, the resting places for much of the world’s sovereign gold for decades.

Finland, Germany, Switzerland, Venezuela, Ecuador, Mexico, Romania and Poland: They’re all either talking about repatriating national gold or they’ve already done so. Some are clearly countries run by leaders with a populist agenda – to wit, Venezuela and Ecuador. Others are run by sober governments making sober decisions about national wealth.

These countries want their gold back because they’ve lost trust in the U.S. and the U.K. banking authorities. Better to have local gold in local banks than exposed to the shady finances of the world’s greatest Ponzi scheme. Taking back their own gold is, effectively, a vote of no confidence in the monetary policies pursued by the U.S., in particular.

Who can blame them?

Consider the state of the global union. The West has accumulated so much debt that the International Monetary Fund now says that meaningfully large, one-off levies that tax every Westerner’s wealth are the only way to save the world from financial calamity. Politicians in too many Western nations – except maybe the Germans – have reached the point that French political philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville predicted in the middle of the 19th century – namely that democracy will survive only to the point that lawmakers discover they can bribe the public with the public’s own money.

We have reached that point in much of Western society, most ominously in America. Politicians no longer press for any semblance of fiscal prudence, only for the preservation of personal power by spending ever larger sums of public money on various forms of welfare and regulation that hurt one class over another.

This will not end well for those of us with any degree of wealth to protect.

That so many nations are now seeking to repatriate gold is that trite canary in that proverbial coalmine. The end might not come today – it might not come tomorrow or even next year. But it will come. It always does. And it will come in my lifetime (I am 48, for those who want a reference point.)
Will You Be on the Wrong Side of History?
To anyone who has sold their gold in recent months, I say this: Big, big mistake.

Why is it that central banks the world over refuse to sell their gold reserves? Why is it that many continue to add to their holdings – officially Russia, Turkey, Kazakhstan and Indonesia, and, unofficially, China?

The wrongheaded nincompoops on Wall Street, inside the Fed, and wandering around looking for a Dairy Queen and a Coke in Omaha, Nebraska, would have you believe that gold has no intrinsic value. Yet all over the world, central banks in countries giant and small cling to their gold, are adding to their gold reserves and are increasingly demanding that their gold be returned to national treasuries. Those that have parted with any gold have sold off just the tiniest fractions of what they own.

No country has sold a meaningful amount of its gold reserves – though I am betting the U.S. has sold a very large sum of gold from Fort Knox that, to date, has gone unreported by the Federal Reserve, but which will come to light soon enough.

Is owning gold such a crazy notion that central bankers in 100 countries are all delusional?

Or, might it be that gold really is of value as the ultimate insurance policy against the destruction of fiat money that is now necessary to help the West manage a half-century’s worth of excesses?

Poland went to extraordinary lengths to protect its gold from fascists and communists in the late 1930s. Now, it’s going to extraordinary lengths to protect it from Western financial decay.

This is a game where, ultimately, you have to pick sides. Do you side with U.S. officials who talk down gold as a quaint tradition out of step with modernity? Or do you side with 100 central banks around the world that are increasingly putting their reserves in gold rather than fiat currency?

I absolutely know what side I’m on … which means I know my wealth is protected on that day a fiat currency crisis erupts.

Until next time, keep a global view …

Jeff D. Opdyke
Executive Editor, The Sovereign Investor

P.S. A revelation about the status of U.S. gold is on the horizon and I think it has the potential to change America forever. If you’d like to learn about the little-known government document that holds clues to one of America’s biggest deceptions, click here.

Must Read: Fed Employees Rollout A Bold Idea To Trap The Entire Country’s Wealth

3.24.2014 BY KELLY BROWN

Free market economists are not going to be happy about this…

A major financial news source just published shocking details about a research report by two employees at the Federal Reserve Bank. The 36-page report applauds the use of “capital controls” in global markets.

If you’re unfamiliar with the term “capital controls,” it’s probably because we tend to avoid them in the United States in favor of a free market economy.

Capital controls are simply laws that regulate and restrict what you are allowed to do with your money by regulating the flow of cash in and out of a national economy. The laws define such things as where you can invest your cash and how you can allocate your assets.

If you take a look around the globe, you’ll see several recent example—almost always from countries experiencing a currency crisis:

In Cyprus…some citizens cannot withdraw or write checks for more than €300 per day from their own accounts. These controls were put in place after the Greek debt crisis of 2012 and are set to continue until year-end.
In Iceland…capital controls imposed in 2008 have blockaded offshore investors from selling $7.2 billion in assets.
In Argentina…citizens must pay an extra tax on vacations abroad.
In the Ukraine…recent tensions sparked a series of capital controls. Ukrainians must wait six working days before making any type of foreign currency purchases. In addition, they cannot exchange more than the equivalent of $5,800 USD within a given time period.
You might be wondering… how are these draconian laws “a useful tool for managing financial stability” as the recent Fed paper says?

Well, the Fed research claims that capital controls would protect the U.S. dollar from the effects of rapid cash movements…

Of course, the only countries that are worried about capital controls are those deeply worried about a currency crisis.

According to Steve Hanke, a professor of applied economics at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, “Capital controls signal that a country is very worried about preserving its foreign exchange….That means bad things are in the wind.”

SEE ALSO: Is your state as broke as these places?
For more than 50 years, Americans have never really thought twice about the value of our currency.

But times are rapidly changing. For example, the U.S. government has plans to strong-arm some of the largest financial institutions in the world by imposing a 30% withholding tax on all transactions concerning U.S. securities.

Most Americans don’t realize that the greatest weapon in our nation’s arsenal is not our military might or our education system, but the simple fact that the U.S. dollar is the world’s “reserve currency.” As such, our money forms the basis of the global financial system. And banks around the world hold our dollars in reserve against their loans.

That’s why, for the past few decades, we have been able to print and borrow trillions of dollars, with no real negative impact.

We are the only country in the world that does not have to pay for imports in a foreign currency. We can rack up enormous debts and then print more money.

But this exorbitant privilege could soon expire, because many of the most powerful countries around the world (including China and Russia) are looking for a new world reserve currency.

And when the U.S. dollar is no longer the world’s reserve currency… when we can no longer print money and borrow absurd sums without consequence– we are in trouble.

One financial guru, Porter Stansberry, believes this currency collapse in America is actually going to happen much sooner than most people think. He says that’s how currency collapses happen… gradually… slowly… then all of a sudden. And Mr. Stansberry has an uncanny track record of predicting some of the biggest moves in the economy over the past decade. In 2006 he announced GM would go bankrupt and in 2007 he predicted Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac would also soon go bankrupt. Both of his predictions came to fruition.

WATCH: Learn more from Porter Stansberry, here.
Now Stansberry says the next big collapse could be America’s currency. And even though most Americans think this could never happen… not here…Stansberry believes new laws set to go in place on July 1st 2014 will dramatically accelerate this process.

What is this law that was secretly passed by the Obama Administration… and how will it affect you, your money, and the U.S. dollar?

Stansberry and his Baltimore-based research team have put together a free slide presentation that explains everything you need to know. Get the facts and protect yourself here.

SEE ALSO: The catastrophic events planned for July 1, 2014

CATO INST FRIEDMAN PRIZE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Cato Institute invites you to an event. View this email in your browser

Winner of the 2014 Milton Friedman Prize:
Leszek Balcerowicz
Leszek Balcerowicz, former Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister of Poland, will receive the 2014 Milton Friedman Prize for Advancing Liberty.

Balcerowicz has been widely credited with the economic transformation of Poland. He liberalized the prices of most consumer goods and initiated sound fiscal and monetary measures designed to balance the budget and end hyperinflation.

A former member of the Polish United Workers’ Party, Balcerowicz became Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister in 1989 under Tadeusz Mazowiecki, Eastern Europe’s first non-communist leader since the end of World War II. He held those positions again from 1997 to 2000. From 2001 to 2007, Balcerowicz served as the chairman of the National Bank of Poland.

More about Leszek Balcerowicz
The Milton Friedman Prize for Advancing Liberty, named in honor of perhaps the greatest champion of liberty in the 20th century, is presented every other year to an individual who has made a significant contribution to advance human freedom. The prize, a cash award of $250,000, will be presented at

The Milton Friedman Prize
for Advancing Liberty
2014 Biennial Dinner

May 21, 2014
Waldorf–Astoria Hotel • New York City
Reception at 6:30 p.m. • Dinner at 7:30 p.m. • Black Tie

with keynote address by
Garry Kasparov
Russian Pro-Democracy Leader and Global Human-Rights Activist

More about the Milton Friedman Prize

An Apology for the Rwandan Genocide, 20 Years Later
Per Liljas 1:59 AM ET

Former New Zealand ambassador Colin Keating addresses an open session of the United Nations Security Council on April 16, 2014. He apologized for the council’s refusal to recognize that genocide was taking place in Rwanda and for doing nothing to halt the slaughter.
Evan Schneider—ASSOCIATED PRESS
The New Zealand diplomat who was president of the Security Council in April 1994 admits the U.N. “utterly failed” to prevent the slaughter of up to one million people in Rwanda. He was speaking at a council meeting held to mark the 20th anniversary of the genocide

The New Zealand diplomat who was president of the U.N. Security Council at the start of the Rwandan genocide in April 1994 has apologized for the council’s refusal to recognize and halt the slaughter, in which up to one million lives were lost.

Colin Keating’s apology was issued at a council meeting Wednesday, held to both commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the genocide and review what had since been done to prevent similar atrocities.

Keating recalled that “most” veto-empowered nations, including the United States and France, rejected a call to condemn the killings, and that warnings sounded by U.N. Human Rights Commission on the possibility of genocide never came before the council.

“The genocide against the Tutsi highlighted the extent to which the U.N. methods of prevention utterly failed,” he said.

The U.N.’s increased commitment to human rights work was noted during the session, but the organization was also widely criticized for its failure to prevent current atrocities in Syria, Central African Republic, and South Sudan.

Baby Charged With Attempted Murder, Goes Into Hiding in Pakistan

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Relatives of a nine-month-old baby charged with attempted murder in Pakistan have taken him into hiding, a relative said on Tuesday, in a case that has thrown a spotlight on Pakistan’s dysfunctional criminal justice system.

Mohammad Musa Khan appeared in court in the city of Lahore last week, charged with attempted murder along with his father and grandfather after a mob protesting against gas cuts and price increases stoned police and gas company workers trying to collect overdue bills.

“Police are vindictive. Now they are trying to settle the issue on personal grounds, that’s why I sent my grandson to Faisalabad for protection,” the baby’s grandfather, Muhammad Yasin, told Reuters, referring to a central Pakistani city.

Image: A Pakistani lawyer taking the thumb impression from nine-month-old toddler Mohammad Musa Khan AFP – Getty Images
A Pakistani lawyer taking the thumb impression from nine-month-old toddler Mohammad Musa Khan on a bail bond in Lahore on Saturday.

The baby is on bail and due to appear at the next hearing on April 12 but Yasin said he was not sure if he would take him to court for the case.

“There is immense pressure on me from various corners,” he said.

At his first appearance in court last week, Musa cried while his fingerprints were taken by a court official. Later, the baby sucked on a bottle of milk and tried to grab journalists’ microphones as his grandfather spoke to the media.

“He does not even know how to pick up his milk bottle properly, how can he stone the police?” Yasin asked journalists at the court last Thursday.

BABY CHARGED w MURDER ATEMP-02The baby was apparently charged because an assistant sub-inspector complained in a crime report that Musa’s whole family had beaten him up and injured his head.

— Reuters

2 Priests and Nun Taken as Hostages in Cameroon Kidnapping: Officials

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YAOUNDE, Cameroon — Two Italian priests and a Canadian nun were kidnapped in northern Cameroon overnight, a bishop and a government source said on Saturday, months after a French priest was seized nearby.

It was not immediately clear who took them, though Nigerian Islamist sect Boko Haram is known to operate in the area.

“Doors were broken towards midnight by unknown people and the religious were taken away. We do not know where they are. The act is not yet claimed but we imagine who is behind this kidnapping,” said Bishop Phillippe Stevens, from the parish of Maroua, where the kidnapping took place.

He named the priests as Giampaolo Marta and Gianantonio Allegri, both missionaries sent out by the diocese of Vicenza in northeast Italy, and the nun as Gilberte Bissiere.

Image: AP
Vicenza Bishop Beniamino Pizziol, second from right, poses with priests Gianantonio Alllegri, left, and Giampaolo Marta, right, during a visit in Jericho, Cameroon, in January. Officials say Allegri and Marta, working as missionaries in northern Cameroon, have been abducted.

Pope Francis was aware of the kidnappings and praying for those taken, the Vatican press office said.

A government source in northern Cameroon said armed forces were attempting to free the hostages, without going into further details.

The priests had been working on improving water supplies and fighting the spread of HIV Aids, as well as their religious duties, the diocesan website described.

The Italian Foreign Ministry said it was working with the Italian embassy in Yaounde to resolve the situation.

Boko Haram has killed thousands of people in its fight to carve out an Islamic state in northern Nigeria, which borders the north of Cameroon.