From the 1978 movie, “The Medusa Touch.”
Hot damn, that sure clears up a lot! Now I can go on a spending spree at WalMart and buy myself some cheaply made happiness!!!
From the 1978 movie, “The Medusa Touch.”
Hot damn, that sure clears up a lot! Now I can go on a spending spree at WalMart and buy myself some cheaply made happiness!!!
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com/JPL Designs
If all you’ve got is a hammer, then everything starts to look like a nail. And if police and prosecutors are your only tool, sooner or later everything and everyone will be treated as criminal. This is increasingly the American way of life, a path that involves “solving” social problems (and even some non-problems) by throwing cops at them, with generally disastrous results. Wall-to-wall criminal law encroaches ever more on everyday life as police power is applied in ways that would have been unthinkable just a generation ago.
By now, the militarization of the police has advanced to the point where “the War on Crime” and “the War on Drugs” are no longer metaphors but bland understatements. There is the proliferation of heavily armed SWAT teams, even in small towns; the use of shock-and-awe tactics to bust small-time bookies; the no-knock raids to recover trace amounts of drugs that often result in the killing of family dogs, if not family members; and in communities where drug treatment programs once were key, the waging of a drug version of counterinsurgency war. (All of this is ably reported on journalist Radley Balko’s blog and in his book, The Rise of the Warrior Cop.) But American over-policing involves far more than the widely reported up-armoring of your local precinct. It’s also the way police power has entered the DNA of social policy, turning just about every sphere of American life into a police matter.
The School-to-Prison Pipeline
It starts in our schools, where discipline is increasingly outsourced to police personnel. What not long ago would have been seen as normal childhood misbehavior — doodling on a desk, farting in class, a kindergartener’s tantrum — can leave a kid in handcuffs, removed from school, or even booked at the local precinct. Such “criminals” can be as young as seven-year-old Wilson Reyes, a New Yorker who was handcuffed and interrogated under suspicion of stealing five dollars from a classmate. (Turned out he didn’t do it.)
Though it’s a national phenomenon, Mississippi currently leads the way in turning school behavior into a police issue. The Hospitality State has imposed felony charges on schoolchildren for “crimes” like throwing peanuts on a bus. Wearing the wrong color belt to school got one child handcuffed to a railing for several hours. All of this goes under the rubric of “zero-tolerance” discipline, which turns out to be just another form of violence legally imported into schools.
Despite a long-term drop in youth crime, the carceral style of education remains in style. Metal detectors — a horrible way for any child to start the day — are installed in ever more schools, even those with sterling disciplinary records, despite the demonstrable fact that such scanners provide no guarantee against shootings and stabbings.
Every school shooting, whether in Sandy Hook, Connecticut, or Littleton, Colorado, only leads to more police in schools and more arms as well. It’s the one thing the National Rifle Association and Democratic senators can agree on. There are plenty of successful ways to run an orderly school without criminalizing the classroom, but politicians and much of the media don’t seem to want to know about them. The “school-to-prison pipeline,” a jargon term coined by activists, is entering the vernacular.
Go to Jail, Do Not Pass Go
Even as simple a matter as getting yourself from point A to point B can quickly become a law enforcement matter as travel and public space are ever more aggressively policed. Waiting for a bus? Such loitering just got three Rochester youths arrested. Driving without a seat belt can easily escalate into an arrest, even if the driver is a state judge. (Notably, all four of these men were black.) If the police think you might be carrying drugs, warrantless body cavity searches at the nearest hospital may be in the offing — you will be sent the bill later.
Air travel entails increasingly intimate pat-downs and arbitrary rules that many experts see as nothing more than “security theater.” As for staying at home, it carries its own risks as Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates found out when a Cambridge police officer mistook him for a burglar and hauled him away — a case that is hardly unique.
Overcriminalization at Work
Office and retail work might seem like an unpromising growth area for police and prosecutors, but criminal law has found its way into the white-collar workplace, too. Just ask Georgia Thompson, a Wisconsin state employee targeted by a federal prosecutor for the “crime” of incorrectly processing a travel agency’s bid for state business. She spent four months in a federal prison before being sprung by a federal court. Or Judy Wilkinson, hauled away in handcuffs by an undercover cop for serving mimosas without a license to the customers in her bridal shop. Or George Norris, sentenced to 17 months in prison for selling orchids without the proper paperwork to an undercover federal agent.
Increasingly, basic economic transactions are being policed under the purview of criminal law. In Arkansas, for instance, Human Rights Watch reports that a new law funnels delinquent (or allegedly delinquent) rental tenants directly to the criminal courts, where failure to pay up can result in quick arrest and incarceration, even though debtor’s prison as an institution was supposed to have ended in the nineteenth century.
And the mood is spreading. Take the asset bubble collapse of 2008 and the rising cries of progressives for the criminal prosecution of Wall Street perpetrators, as if a fundamentally sound financial system had been abused by a small number of criminals who were running free after the debacle. Instead of pushing a debate about how to restructure our predatory financial system, liberals in their focus on individual prosecution are aping the punitive zeal of the authoritarians. A few high-profile prosecutions for insider trading (which had nothing to do with the last crash) have, of course, not changed Wall Street one bit.
The past decade has also seen immigration policy ingested by criminal law. According to another Human Rights Watch report — their U.S. division is increasingly busy — federal criminal prosecutions of immigrants for illegal entry have surged from 3,000 in 2002 to 48,000 last year. This novel application of police and prosecutors has broken up families and fueled the expansion of for-profit detention centers, even as it has failed to show any stronger deterrent effect on immigration than the civil law system that preceded it. Thanks to Arizona’s SB 1070 bill, police in that state are now licensed to stop and check the papers of anyone suspected of being undocumented — that is, who looks Latino.
Meanwhile, significant parts of the US-Mexico border are now militarized (as increasingly is the Canadian border), including what seem to resemble free-fire zones. And if anyone were to leave bottled water for migrants illegally crossing the desert and in danger of death from dehydration, that good Samaritan should expect to face criminal charges, too. Intensified policing with aggressive targets for arrests and deportations are guaranteed to be a part of any future bipartisan deal on immigration reform.
As for the Internet, for a time it was terra nova and so relatively free of a steroidal law enforcement presence. Not anymore. The late Aaron Swartz, a young Internet genius and activist affiliated with Harvard University, was caught downloading masses of scholarly articles (all publicly subsidized) from an open network on the MIT campus. Swartz was federally prosecuted under the capacious Computer Fraud and Abuse Act for violating a “terms and services agreement” — a transgression that anyone who has ever disabled a cookie on his or her laptop has also, technically, committed. Swartz committed suicide earlier this year while facing a possible 50-year sentence and up to a million dollars in fines.
Since the summer, thanks to whistleblowing contractor Edward Snowden, we have learned a great deal about the way the NSA stops and frisks our (and apparently everyone else’s) digital communications, both email and telephonic. The security benefits of such indiscriminate policing are far from clear, despite the government’s emphatic but inconsistent assurances otherwise. What comes into sharper focus with every volley of new revelations is the emerging digital infrastructure of what can only be called a police state.
Sex is another zone of police overkill in our post-Puritan land. Getting put on a sex offender registry is alarmingly easy — as has been done to children as young as 11 for “playing doctor” with a relative, again according to Human Rights Watch. But getting taken off the registry later is extraordinarily difficult. Across the nation, sex offender registries have expanded massively, especially in California, where one in every 380 adults is now a registered sex offender, creating a new pariah class with severe obstacles to employment, housing, or any kind of community life. The proper penalty for, say, an 18-year-old who has sex with a 14-year-old can be debated, but should that 18-year-old’s life really be ruined forever?
Equality Before the Cops?
It will surprise no one that Americans are not all treated equally by the police. Law enforcement picks on kids more than adults, the queer more than straight, Muslims more than Methodists — Muslims a lot more than Methodists — antiwar activists more than the apolitical. Above all, our punitive state targets the poor more than the wealthy and Blacks and Latinos more than white people.
A case in point: after the 1999 massacre at Columbine High School, a police presence, including surveillance cameras and metal detectors, was ratcheted up at schools around the country, particularly in urban areas with largely working-class black and Latino student bodies. It was all to “protect” the kids, of course. At Columbine itself, however, no metal detector was installed and no heavy police presence intruded. The reason was simple. At that school in the Colorado suburb of Littleton, the mostly well-heeled white families did not want their kids treated like potential felons, and they had the status and political power to get their way. But communities without such clout are less able to push back against the encroachments of police power.
Even Our Prisons Are Over-Policed
The over-criminalization of American life empties out into our vast, overcrowded prison system, which is itself over-policed. The ultimate form of punitive control (and torture) is long-term solitary confinement, in which 80,000 to 100,000 prisoners are encased at any given moment. Is this really necessary? Solitary is no longer reserved for the worst or the worst or most dangerous prisoners but can be inflicted on ones who wear Rastafari dreadlocks, have a copy of Sun Tzu’s Art of War in their cell, or are in any way suspected, no matter how tenuous the grounds, of gang affiliations.
Not every developed nation does things this way. Some 30 years ago, Great Britain shifted from isolating prisoners to, whenever possible, giving them greater responsibility and autonomy — with less violent results. But don’t even bring the subject up here. It will fall on deaf ears.
Extreme policing is exacerbated by extreme sentencing. For instance, more than 3,000 Americans have been sentenced to life terms without chance of parole for nonviolent offenses. These are mostly but not exclusively drug offenses, including life for a pound of cocaine that a boyfriend stashed in the attic; selling LSD at a Grateful Dead concert; and shoplifting three belts from a department store.
Our incarceration rate is the highest in the world, triple that of the now-defunct East Germany. The incarceration rate for African American men is about five times higher than that of the Soviet Union at the peak of the gulag.
The Destruction of Families
Prison may seem the logical finale for this litany of over-criminalization, but the story doesn’t actually end with those inmates. As prisons warehouse ever more Americans, often hundreds of miles from their local communities, family bonds weaken and disintegrate. In addition, once a parent goes into the criminal justice system, his or her family tends to end up on the radar screens of state agencies. “Being under surveillance by law enforcement makes a family much more vulnerable to Child Protective Services,” says Professor Dorothy Roberts of the University of Pennsylvania Law school. An incarcerated parent, especially an incarcerated mother, means a much stronger likelihood that children will be sent into foster care, where, according to one recent study, they will be twice as likely as war veterans to suffer from PTSD.
In New York State, the Administration for Child Services and the juvenile justice system recently merged, effectively putting thousands of children in a heavily policed, penalty-based environment until they age out. “Being in foster care makes you much more vulnerable to being picked up by the juvenile justice system,” says Roberts. “If you’re in a group home and you get in a fight, that could easily become a police matter.” In every respect, the creeping over-criminalization of everyday life exerts a corrosive effect on American families.
Do We Live in a Police State?
The term “police state” was once brushed off by mainstream intellectuals as the hyperbole of paranoids. Not so much anymore. Even in the tweediest precincts of the legal system, the over-criminalization of American life is remarked upon with greater frequency and intensity. “You’re probably a (federal) criminal” is the accusatory title of a widely read essay co-authored by Judge Alex Kozinski of the 9th Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals. A Republican appointee, Kozinski surveys the morass of criminal laws that make virtually every American an easy target for law enforcement. Veteran defense lawyer Harvey Silverglate has written an entire book about how an average American professional could easily commit three felonies in a single day without knowing it.
The daily overkill of police power in the U.S. goes a long way toward explaining why more Americans aren’t outraged by the “excesses” of the war on terror, which, as one law professor has argued, are just our everyday domestic penal habits exported to more exotic venues. It is no less true that the growth of domestic police power is, in this positive feedback loop, the partial result of our distant foreign wars seeping back into the homeland (the “imperial boomerang” that Hannah Arendt warned against).
Many who have long railed against our country’s everyday police overkill have reacted to the revelations of NSA surveillance with detectable exasperation: of course we are over-policed! Some have even responded with peevish resentment: Why so much sympathy for this Snowden kid when the daily grind of our justice system destroys so many lives without comment or scandal? After all, in New York, the police department’s “stop and frisk” tactic, which targets African American and Latino working-class youth for routinized street searches, was until recently uncontroversial among the political and opinion-making class. If “the gloves came off” after September 11, 2001, many Americans were surprised to learn they had ever been on to begin with.
A hammer is necessary to any toolkit. But you don’t use a hammer to turn a screw, chop a tomato, or brush your teeth. And yet the hammer remains our instrument of choice, both in the conduct of our foreign policy and in our domestic order. The result is not peace, justice, or prosperity but rather a state that harasses and imprisons its own people while shouting ever less intelligibly about freedom.
Posted in criminal justice system, government, law | Tagged American way, Mississippi, National Rifle Association, police, police power, Sandy Hook Connecticut, School-to-prison pipeline, swat | Leave a Comment »
Save the Children accused of suppressing criticism of corporate sponsor British Gas, while internal emails reveal how fuel poverty campaign was dropped to avoid offending EDF
Save the Children, one of the UK’s oldest NGOs, which raised almost £300m last year, is alleged to have repeatedly quashed press releases criticising British Gas price rises to avoid damaging its corporate partnership with the company, which was worth £1.5m over 10 years. The charity is also accused of dropping a potential campaign on the effects of fuel poverty on children while it was under consideration for funding from EDF.
Internal emails obtained by The Independent show senior staff were worried about publicity that could “risk the EDF partnership”. The accusations are part of a wider investigation into the operations of major NGOs to be broadcast tonight by the BBC’s Panorama, which criticises the investment practices or financial management of two other major charities – Comic Relief and Amnesty International UK. Amid the turmoil of the economic crisis and its impact on charity donations, Save the Children has been unapologetic in its pursuit of corporate partnerships. Income from large corporations has boosted its income more than five-fold, from £3.9m in 2009 to £22.5m this year.
The charity, which has a partnership with the drugs giant GlaxoSmithKline and a £23.5m deal with Anglo-Dutch conglomerate Reckitt Benckiser to stop children dying from diarrhoea, said earlier this year that a key part of its strategy was “not being afraid to be commercially focused”.
It has also bucked a trend that saw cash donations from the corporate sector drop by 16 per cent to £622m last year.
But a former senior manager claims that in its pursuit of corporate funding, the charity went too far in its concern not to offend donors.
Dominic Nutt, the head of the press team at Save the Children until 2009, told Panorama he had been keen to campaign on fuel poverty because of the pressures it put on poor families but claimed press releases criticising price rises by British Gas were “spiked”.
Writing in The Independent, Mr Nutt says: “When British Gas put their prices up, our policy colleagues asked us to send out a press release condemning them… I wrote the release, got it approved by the policy experts and prepared to press ‘send’.
“But the release was spiked because, I was told, it would upset British Gas who were Save the Children donors. The quest for money is beginning to destroy the mission.”
Save the Children said it “totally refuted” Mr Nutt’s allegations, pointing out it ran a fuel-poverty campaign in January 2012 which was critical of the Big Six, including British Gas. The charity did not declare it had a commercial relationship with British Gas as part of the campaign.
The charity is alleged to have also avoided criticism of EDF in November last year at a time when it was down to the last three to become EDF’s NGO partner, a deal which would have been worth £600,000 over three years.
Internal emails from Save the Children’s corporate partnerships team reveal disquiet at “planned media coverage around energy affordability”.
One manager in charge of winning new partnerships wrote: “I am really conscious that this will need to be handled carefully so as not to jeopardise what could end up being a long-term partnership.”
A few days later a second email stated that the charity’s head of advocacy was “of the feeling we should not risk the EDF partnership”.
Save the Children acknowledged that a fuel-poverty campaign had been at the early stages of consideration but said the idea “didn’t get to first base” because of a separate campaign on UK child poverty. A spokesman said there was no connection between any publicity plans and the EDF funding, which eventually went to another charity.
Justin Forsyth, the chief executive of Save the Children, said: “It is simply wrong and misleading to suggest our silence can be bought. We will continue to campaign on all the areas we think matter most to saving children’s lives both at home and abroad. Save the Children would never put in jeopardy our values and our cause by pulling our punches on a campaign for money from a corporate partnership.”
Panorama also found that, between 2007 and 2009, Comic Relief invested in funds which bought shares in the alcohol, arms and tobacco industries – all sectors that the charity says damage lives. Comic Relief said it was legally obliged to maximise the return on its donations and could not impose “ethical screening” on its investments without putting at risk its ability to meet its £17m annual running costs.
Amnesty International UK was also found to have lost nearly £750,000 last year on its annual “Secret Policeman’s Ball” benefit show. The charity denied it had gone wrong.
Dear reader put away your charts and graphs. Forget about fundamental and technical analysis. Ignore financial statements and trends. The extraordinary agreement to share information between the National Security Agency [NSA], a host of European, Russian, Canadian and Chinese spy agencies and the world’s Central Banks will ensure that the only relevant force in Global Stock markets will be the trading activity of the world’s Central Banks. Thanks to the data gathering of the NSA and its subsidiary spy agencies around the world, the Central Banks will be privy to the most confidential conversations and communications from the boardroom, the bedroom and the trading floor. Central Banks will now be able to trade with inside information that could only be dreamed about in years gone by.
In the past, only employees at the NSA, their friends and families were able to trade and profit using the confidential information captured in NSA’s confidential PRISM surveillance sweeping activities. The funds these individuals were able to devote to these insider trades were insignificant to the global markets. However this new agreement, [called the 'Market Assistance Directive' [MAD] will allow the Central Banks to use their unlimited resources to trade and profit based on inside information on an almost unimaginable scale.
“Poppycock!” you say. “Balderdash!” you exclaim. Dear reader, I too shared your cynicism and disbelief regarding the possibility of such an agreement existing until I spoke with my good friend and trusted confidante Gustavo Laframboise-Pierre, Global Director of Statistical Creation at the European Central Bank [ECB]. Dear reader, before you click away in an indignant fit of outrage at the mere suggestion of this preposterous reality. I would encourage you to ask yourself one question. Would you or any of your trusted friends and honorable family members, if given access to inside information that would allow one to guarantee oneself untold wealth, without fear of legal reprisal, by trading in the stock market based on this inside information, would you or they turn the opportunity down? Dear reader, I thought so. Please continue reading.
Prior to the unique MAD agreement only the thousands of employees of the NSA and other security agencies, their friends and family, their political masters, paramours and twitter followers, have had the ability to use the PRISM surveillance capability to know every grain of inside information that exists in the world. Massive profits on their personal trading accounts are inevitable. It is a denial of human nature to believe that this activity is not only prevalent, it is the norm.
But I digress; my conversation with Gustavo would enlighten me as to the New World Order that now permeates our capital markets and our global economy. For those of you not familiar with Gustavo, my friendship with such a highly placed member of the ECB executive traced its roots back to my days on Wall Street and to his days in New York when he was my bookie. His fortunes changed dramatically one day when a senior member of the ECB on a junket to New York placed an astonishingly large, incorrect and foolish bet on the outcome of the 2010 World Cup. The only way the debt could be settled was for the senior member of the ECB to offer Gustavo an obscenely highly paid sinecure at the ECB. Gustavo traded Brooklyn and Fulton Street for Paris and the Champs-Élysées. He became the ECB’s Global Director of Statistical Creation. His notional job was to make up statistics that would support whatever lunatic policies were being proposed by central banks around the world. Gustavo’s complete lack of moral fiber coupled with his gift for numbers allowed him to excel at his job.
I was in Rome on business, [well truthfully I had left my home in New York to avoid some rather inconvenient lawsuits from my banks and other sundry creditors relating to my inability to make payments on my credit cards, lines of credit, loans, mortgages, and overdraft fees.] In any event, imagine my surprise as I strolled down the Via Veneto when I spied Gustavo [I surmised that he was in town visiting one of his mistresses] exiting the Gucci store, laden with what appeared to be their entire inventory.
I greeted him with a smile and suggested we repair to the nearest bistro for a lunch and libation. I helped with his bags and we strolled to the uber-chic Rome Cavalieri Hotel on Via Alberto so that we might feast at la Pergola, perhaps the finest restaurant in Europe. Dear reader, I had dined with Gustavo before. I knew that the meal would be charged to his expense account at the ECB. Today my empty wallet and penury would not prevent me from enjoying a culinary delight. We were seated at a prestigious seat by the window that offered us a magnificent view of St. Peter’s Basilica. Gustavo’s legendary expense account ensured that we received premium service.
Gustavo, I enquired, “Have you won the lottery? You must have $50,000 of Gucci accessories in these bags?” “David” he giggled, “It is better than that”, he continued. “The central banks, thanks to an agreement with the world’s spy agencies, [this would be the aforementioned MAD agreement] we bankers are now privy to not only the emails and phone calls of all the world’s politicians, business leaders, journalists, accountants, lawyers but to the innermost thoughts of every citizen who uses an electronic device for communication”.
“With this information we can use our resources to control the global markets. Now there is no trade, no event, no market information that we bankers do not know in advance. We can literally make as much money as we want. At the same time we relegate to destitution any soul who dares to challenge us. All we had to do to finalize the agreement was to promise to kick back 20% of our profits to the senior members of the spy agencies and 10% of our profits to their political masters.”
I almost choked on my Remy Martin Black Pearl Luis XIII Cognac as I digested Gustavo’s statement. Little did I know that this particular brand of Cognac that Gustavo had requested, was worth $30,000/bottle. [Oh, how glorious it must be to be a banker with an expense account.] However, as a frequent beneficiary of Gustavo’s largesse I guess I should not complain.] “Gustavo” I exclaimed, “Do the words insider trading, market manipulation, extortion, thievery, invasion of privacy, immoral, illegal and just plain wrong not mean anything to you bankers?” “Don’t you read the papers David?” He replied.
“Bankers have been given immunity from prosecution for any misdeed or imperfection no matter how damaging it is to the markets, the global economy and society. HSBC, JP Morgan Chase, European banks, the list goes on. Banks are fined but no individual banker goes to jail. How many times do bankers need to skate on corruption charges before you get it through your thick skull that you can fine the bank but you cannot put bankers in jail?” Gustavo postulated.
He continued, “We central bankers will share the data gathering efforts with the world’s commercial or retail banks for a [big] fee. Our prudence will ensure that the inside information is shared fairly.” The profits the banks will make on these trades will guarantee their survival. Furthermore it will ensure the bank executives become richer than King Midas. It is truly a win-win situation.” I poked at the remainder of my appetizer, ‘scampi carpaccio with two caviars’, and eagerly awaited the first course, ‘liquorice consommé with sweet pepper cream and squid salad’. Gustavo had come a long way from his days making book from his car outside Madison Square Garden, I thought to myself. His notion of win-win was certainly unique.
“Gustavo”, I replied, “I don’t know where to begin. How does any of this help Main Street and the masses? This sounds like a conspiracy by the 1% to own the entire universe”. “I am glad you brought that up David” he slurred. [The effects of his overindulgence of the Cognac was starting to have the usual impact] “That whole silly Occupy movement and its childish 99% versus the 1% was our creation. The 1% is a phrase we coined to give us cover as we filled our pockets. You see David; there are two types of wealth in this world. The first is wealth created by innovators, creators, entrepreneurs, risk-takers, hard workers, savers: diligent, honest, principled, prudent, responsible men and woman”, Gustavo pontificated.
“These remarkable people, as they created wealth also created jobs and enhanced their community. The world rightfully respects, celebrates, admires, encourages and emulates their efforts. The other type of wealth is created by creatures like me who scam, suck, pillage and plunder the public purse and Main Street’s wallets. We create nothing. We central bankers and our commercial and retail cousins contribute nothing. We take what we can while convincing the masses that we ‘have got their backs.’ Can you believe that bankers are still able to pay themselves tens of millions of dollars a year after the damage they have done to the global economy?” Gustavo opined.
His sermon continued, “If the public ever thought about it for a moment, their anger would not be focused on the notional 1% who accumulated their wealth the old fashioned way [They earned it] Rather the anger would be focused on the ’10%.’ The scoundrels like myself: bankers, consultants, lobbyists and other assorted leeches who drain the public’s purse while adding to their own personal fortune”. I was quite taken aback. Candor, honesty and critical self analysis were not attributes I usually expected from Gustavo. I smiled at the waiter as he delivered my main course, a very appealing ‘soya poached fillet of beef with garlic dandelion and wasabi purée’. I continued my conversation with Gustavo by asking him why he was sharing all this information with me. Was he not concerned that I might publish some of this, clearly confidential, information? “David, have you heard nothing I have said, Bankers are immune from prosecution”. He said sardonically.
He looked sternly in my eyes as he said, “Furthermore, unless you write your commentary in crayon and pass it out on street corners, either we or the NSA will become aware your attempt to undermine our dominance. We will simply disable your computer and delete your files. If you persist in inconveniencing us we will turn your file over to our ‘Blackmail’ department who will examine your life with a fine tooth comb, discover your secrets and threaten you with exposure unless you cease and desist.”
Dear reader, like you, based on Gustavo’s insights, I could not help thinking that the players in our global capital markets were more reminiscent of James Bond’s nemesis, SPECTRE [SPecial Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion] than a functioning system for the free and fair exchange of goods and capital. I said as much to Gustavo as I had the first bite of my Caciocavallo Podolico. This cheese is the pride of Italy. At $500/lb, it has the same value by weight as silver. I would strongly recommend this taste sensation should you ever be dining with a banker and their expense account. As I waited for his response, [he was busy talking to his broker], I gazed out the window at the Vatican and wondered if there might be spiritual salvation to guide us through the financial quagmire we had entered. I then remembered that the Vatican Bank scandals indicated that there would be no guidance from that direction. [Oh please dear reader, curtail your disapproval. Just Google 'Vatican Bank scandals' and see for yourself.]
Gustavo smiled at me as he hung up his phone. “I just made a million dollars in two hours based on information this new MAD Agreement’ provided me”, he boasted. “The best part is that because I have set up Trusts in tax havens around the world I will not have to pay any taxes. Isn’t life grand?” I sighed as gazed through the window and watched a beggar appealing for donations from shoppers on the Via Veneto. I guess this is what ‘la Dolce Vita’ is all about?
David can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
David has divided his time unequally for the last 30 years between the financial services, education, writing and comedy. He has spent time in financial services as an investment adviser, financial planner, sales trainer, corporate entertainer, and as a teacher of investment courses. He has also taught numerous financial courses. His work in comedy includes numerous corporate events and performances at comedy clubs. His background allows him to seamlessly move between the business world, higher education and the world of comedy and sometimes, to bring the two worlds together.
Newtown to media: Leave us alone on anniversary [of Sandy Hook false flag]
09 Dec 2013 Local government officials are urging the news media to stay away Saturday, the first anniversary of the Dec. 14 shootings that at Sandy Hook Elementary School. USA TODAY Editor-in-Chief David Callaway said the news organization will not report on the anniversary from Newtown on Saturday. Some other media organizations, including CNN, have announced that they also will not be in Newtown to cover the anniversary of the tragedy.
Posted in criminal justice system, death, government, media | Tagged CNN, David Callaway, Newtown, Newtown Connecticut, Newtown Public Schools, Sandy Hook Elementary School, Saturday, USA Today | Leave a Comment »