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How Wall Street, Congress and President Obama Killed Financial Reform

Financial Reform“It’s bad enough that the banks strangled the Dodd-Frank law. Even worse is the way they did it – with a big assist from Congress and the White House.” Another must read from Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone:

Two years ago, when he signed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, President Barack Obama bragged that he’d dealt a crushing blow to the extravagant financial corruption that had caused the global economic crash in 2008. “These reforms represent the strongest consumer financial protections in history,” the president told an adoring crowd in downtown D.C. on July 21st, 2010. “In history.”

This was supposed to be the big one. At 2,300 pages, the new law ostensibly rewrote the rules for Wall Street. It was going to put an end to predatory lending in the mortgage markets, crack down on hidden fees and penalties in credit contracts, and create a powerful new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to safeguard ordinary consumers.

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A ‘Sonic Weapon’ Can Be Deployed At the London Olympics (If Needs Be)

LRADReports Gavin Thomas for BBC News:
The Ministry of Defence has confirmed a device which can be used as a "sonic weapon" will be deployed in London during the Olympics. The American-made Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD) can be used to send verbal warnings over a long distance or emit a beam of pain-inducing tones. The equipment was spotted fixed to a landing craft on the Thames at Westminster this week. An MoD spokesman said it would be used "primarily in the loud hailer mode". Royal Marines operating in patrol craft from HMS Ocean are also heavily armed with conventional firearms.
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CIA Allowed to Sustain Cover-Up of the Full ‘Bay of Pigs’ History

Bay of PigsVia the National Security Archive at George Washington University:

More than year after the National Security Archive sued the CIA to declassify the full “Official History of the Bay of Pigs Operation,” a U.S. District Court judge today sided with the Agency’s efforts to keep the last volume of the report secret in perpetuity. In her ruling, Judge Gladys Kessler accepted the CIA’s legal arguments that, because Volume V was a “draft” and never officially approved for inclusion in the Agency’s official history, it was exempt from declassification under the “deliberative process privilege” despite having been written over 30 years ago.

The National Security Archive called the decision “a regrettable blow to the right-to-know” and vowed to press the Obama administration to force the CIA to adhere to the President’s Executive Order 13526 that “no information shall remain classified indefinitely.”

The volume, titled “CIA’s Internal Investigations of the Bay of Pigs Operations,” was written by CIA historian Jack Pfeiffer in 1981.

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TSA Places Baby On No-Fly List, Orders Family Off Airplane

Seriously? (And what's been going on with JetBlue flights lately?) Reports Ari Hait on WPBF 25 West Palm Beach:
Eighteen-month-old Riyanna has been called a lot of things: cute, adorable and now ... a suspected terrorist. She was called that on Tuesday night at the Ft Lauderdale Airport. She and her parents had just boarded a JetBlue flight when an airline employee approached them and asked them to get off the plane, saying representatives from the Transportation Security Administration wanted to speak to them. "And I said, 'For what?'" Riyanna's mother told only WPBF 25 News on Wednesday. "And he said, 'Well, it's not you or your husband. Your daughter was flagged as no fly.' I said, 'Excuse me?'" Riyanna's father was flabbergasted. "It's absurd," he said. "It made no sense. Why would an 18-month-old child be on a no-fly list?"
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Al Qaeda Attack Plots Discovered in Porn

Flash Memory CardReports Nic Robertson, Paul Cruickshank and Tim Lister on CNN:

On May 16 last year, a 22-year-old Austrian named Maqsood Lodin was being questioned by police in Berlin. He had recently returned from Pakistan via Budapest, Hungary, and then traveled overland to Germany. His interrogators were surprised to find that hidden in his underpants were a digital storage device and memory cards.

Buried inside them was a pornographic video called “Kick Ass” — and a file marked “Sexy Tanja.”

Several weeks later, after laborious efforts to crack a password and software to make the file almost invisible, German investigators discovered encoded inside the actual video a treasure trove of intelligence — more than 100 al Qaeda documents that included an inside track on some of the terror group’s most audacious plots and a road map for future operations. Future plots include the idea of seizing cruise ships and carrying out attacks in Europe similar to the gun attacks by Pakistani militants that paralyzed the Indian city of Mumbai in November 2008.

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Ron Paul on The Real Costs Of War

Ron Paul PeaceRon Paul writes on the Daily Bell:

This month Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki announced the addition of some 1,900 mental health nurses, psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers to its existing workforce of 20,590 mental health staff in attempt to get a handle on the epidemic of suicides among combat veterans. Unfortunately, when presidents misuse our military on an unprecedented scale – and Congress lets them get away with it – the resulting stress causes military suicides to increase dramatically, both among active duty and retired service members. In fact, military deaths from suicide far outnumber combat deaths. According to an article in the Air Force Times this month, suicides among airmen are up 40 percent over last year.

Considering the multiple deployments service members are forced to endure as the war in Afghanistan stretches into its second decade, these figures are sadly unsurprising.

Ironically, the same VA Secretary Eric Shinseki was forced to retire from the Army by President Bush for daring to suggest that an invasion and occupation of Iraq would not be the cakewalk that neoconservatives promised.

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U.S. Military Under-reporting Afghan Military and Police Attacks on American Soldiers

ISAFNow why would the military do such a thing? Reports Robert Burns in the AP via Google News:

The military is under-reporting the number of times that Afghan soldiers and police open fire on American and other foreign troops.

The U.S.-led coalition routinely reports each time an American or other foreign soldier is killed by an Afghan in uniform. But The Associated Press has learned it does not report insider attacks in which the Afghan wounds — or misses — his U.S. or allied target. It also doesn’t report the wounding of troops who were attacked alongside those who were killed.

Such attacks reveal a level of mistrust and ill will between the U.S.-led coalition and its Afghan counterparts in an increasingly unpopular war. The U.S. and its military partners are working more closely with Afghan troops in preparation for handing off security responsibility to them by the end of 2014.

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Osama bin Laden’s Personal Notes and Letters To Be Declassified on Thursday

Combating Terrorism CenterThis will be interesting to check out Thursday (but I guess the press has already gotten wind of what is in the documents). Osama bin Laden reads like a troubled CEO who was frustrated by the lack of new talent and struggling with a failing brand. Brian Bennett writes in the LA Times:

Osama bin Laden’s personal notes and letters, which were seized a year ago in the U.S. raid on his compound in Pakistan, show a leader removed from day-to-day operations of the terrorist organization he founded and increasingly frustrated with the new generation of managers who were rising in the ranks.

A declassified selection of the vast trove of material — large enough, officials say, to fill a college library — will be published online Thursday by the Combating Terrorism Center, a think tank at the United States Military Academy at West Point.

In correspondence with his senior leaders, Bin Laden lamented the inexperience and poor judgment shown by the rising crop of Al Qaeda leaders.

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The Terrorist Plots Hatched by the FBI

These practices do not receive enough attention in the press. As Davis K. Shipler writes in the NY Times:

The United States has been narrowly saved from lethal terrorist plots in recent years — or so it has seemed. A would-be suicide bomber was intercepted on his way to the Capitol; a scheme to bomb synagogues and shoot Stinger missiles at military aircraft was developed by men in Newburgh, N.Y.; and a fanciful idea to fly explosive-laden model planes into the Pentagon and the Capitol was hatched in Massachusetts.

But all these dramas were facilitated by the F.B.I., whose undercover agents and informers posed as terrorists offering a dummy missile, fake C-4 explosives, a disarmed suicide vest and rudimentary training. Suspects naïvely played their parts until they were arrested.

When an Oregon college student, Mohamed Osman Mohamud, thought of using a car bomb to attack a festive Christmas-tree lighting ceremony in Portland, the F.B.I.

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