Making Unique Observations in a Very Cluttered World

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Gold company heavily promoted by Glenn Beck charged with 19 criminal counts -

Gold company heavily promoted by Glenn Beck charged with 19 criminal counts - 

A California-based precious metals seller Goldline International, promoted by pseudo-conservative talk radio hosts like Glenn Beck, was charged with 19 criminal counts on Tuesday by Santa Monica’s City Attorney’s Office.
Among those implicated in the formal complaint are the CEO, Mark Albarian, two other company executives and two salespeople.
Some of the charges filed against them include: conspiracy, grand theft by false pretenses, and false advertising, and all 19 counts carry a maximum of one year in prison or a $10,00 fine.
Goldline was reportedly using aggressive telemarketing tactics employing highly questionable methods to pressure customers into buying overpriced coins as early as 2010 as revealed in a Mother Jones investigative report.
The report revealed that Goldline was pressuring customers into buying marked up coins on a regular basis which were so wildly overpriced that customers would likely never make their money back.
Beck took this a step further by saying that in the event of a total economic collapse, government would confiscate citizens’ gold bullion so instead recommended that listeners invest money in the overpriced gold coins hawked by Goldline.
Beck was far from alone in his endorsement of Goldline, which gave the entire operation a false sense of legitimacy.
Indeed, other individuals who promoted the possibly criminal Goldline International operation are: Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, Laura Ingraham, Monica Crowley, Lars Larson, Jerry Doyle, and Alan Colmes.
Goldline features an entire page devoted to the celebrity endorsements they have paid to receive with a graphical header with “CREDIBILITY” emblazoned prominently at the top of the page.
Goldline has had many complaints filed against them by through the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) as revealed by Mother Jones and a PDF file of the actual complaintsthemselves.
Instead of simply selling gold bullion or gold coins which is far from an illegitimate or criminal practice, Goldline directed their salespeople to “’get the money in’ from customers on the promise of delivering gold bullion bars or gold bullion coins (collectively ‘Bullion’), with the intent not to deliver the Bullion but instead to later persuade the customers to buy far more overpriced, so-called semi-numismatic or numismatic coins” according to the official Santa Monica v. Goldline complaint.
This is clearly a highly deceptive and unethical practice and the charges are the product of an in depth year-long investigation.
I wonder what Glenn Beck and the other “celebrities” who endorsed Goldline will have to say now that it has come out that their favorite “trusted” gold company was actually ripping off their gullible listeners who actually thought they were operating with a conscience and not in the name of the almighty dollar?
It will be interesting to see how they react to this as this is a pretty damning indictment of a company that they put their names behind.
Will it ruin Beck’s credibility? Well, honestly, I don’t think that anyone who still gives Beck any credence cares about any semblance of credibility or else they would no longer take him seriously.

More at EndtheLie.com - http://EndtheLie.com/2011/11/02/gold-company-heavily-promoted-by-glenn-beck-charged-with-19-criminal-counts/#ixzz1cZZB7Op4

Texas judge is under police investigation after a video, showing him beating his disabled teenage daughter with a belt -

Texas judge is under police investigation after a video, showing him beating his disabled teenage daughter with a belt - 

A Texas judge is under police investigation after a video, purportedly showing him beating his teenage daughter with a belt, was released on the Internet.

“Aransas County is aware of the video posted on YouTube regarding County Court-at-Law Judge William Adams, and the matter is now under review by the Police Department,” read a statement posted on the county website.

County attorney Richard Bianchi confirmed to the San Antonio Express-News that the individual in the video is Judge Adams. The child was reportedly being punished for using the Internet without permission.
“Obviously it is a very disturbing video,” he told the newspaper. “We in my office as well as everyone on Earth is taking a look at it at this time.”
Judge Adams expressed remorse to KXTV – and said his conduct in the video was “not as bad as it looks on tape.”
“It happened years ago,” he told the Texas television station. “I apologized.
The video was believed to have been shot in 2004 – but was posted Tuesday on YouTube – by someone identifying themselves as Adams’ disabled daughter. The graphic video shows the child being whipped with a belt as the man curses.
“It’s disturbing,” County Judge C.H. Mills, Jr. told Fox News.
Mills said he’s talked to his colleague and said “he’s pretty upset.”
“I’m not at liberty to tell you what our conversation was about because the county attorney told me I shouldn’t,” Mills said.
The Texas Dept. of Public Safety confirmed to Fox News that they’ve been asked to assist the Rockford Police Dept. as they investigate the video.
But at this point it’s unclear what – if any crime has been committed – and whether or not there’s a statute of limitations.
The video has caused turmoil in this tiny community about 30 miles north of Corpus Christi.
“It’s very hard to take care of business today because every phone is ringing with the same question,” Mills said.
For the time being Judge Adams has not been removed from the bench.
However, he agreed with the county attorney to have a visiting judge for the immediate future, Judge Mills said.


Toyota Shows experimental robots to Help Sick, Elderly Move -

Toyota Shows experimental robots to Help Sick, Elderly Move - 
PHOTO: Eiichi Saito, a professor at Fujita Health University, demonstrates an Independent Walk Assist robot at a Toyota Motor Corp.

Toyota unveiled its ambitions for high-tech health care Tuesday, displaying experimental robots that the auto giant says can lift disabled patients from their hospital beds or help them walk.

The company aims to commercialize products such as its "independent walk assist" device sometime after 2013 — seeking to position itself in an industry with great potential in Japan, one of the world's most rapidly aging nations.

Eiichi Saitoh, a professor in rehabilitation medicine, demonstrated the "walk assist" device on Tuesday, strapping the computerized metallic brace onto his right leg, which was paralyzed by polio.

He showed reporters at a Toyota facility in Tokyo how the brace could bend at the knee as needed, allowing him to walk more naturally and rise from a chair with greater ease than the walker he now uses. Wearing a backpack-like battery, Saitoh walked up and down a flight of stairs, smiling with delight.

Saitoh said he had tried Toyota's machines with patients and was confident they helped people recover more quickly from strokes and other ailments that curtailed movement.

"It may be difficult to predict the future, but the era of an aging society is definitely coming," he said. "We need partner robots to enrich our lives."


Will Greece Pull an Iceland … And Tell the Banks to Pound Sand? -

Will Greece Pull an Iceland … And Tell the Banks to Pound Sand? - 

Iceland told the banks to pound sand. And Iceland’s economy is doing much better than virtually all of the country’s who have let the banks push them around.

Barry Ritholtz noted in May:

Rather than bailout the banks — Iceland could not have done so even if they wanted to — they guaranteed deposits (the way our FDIC does), and let the normal capitalistic process of failure run its course.

They are now much much better for it than the countries like the US and Ireland who did not.

Bloomberg pointed out in February:

Unlike other nations, including the U.S. and Ireland, which injected billions of dollars of capital into their financial institutions to keep them afloat, Iceland placed its biggest lenders in receivership. It chose not to protect creditors of the country’s banks, whose assets had ballooned to $209 billion, 11 times gross domestic product.


“Iceland did the right thing by making sure its payment systems continued to function while creditors, not the taxpayers, shouldered the losses of banks,” says Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz, an economics professor at Columbia University in New York. “Ireland’s done all the wrong things, on the other hand. That’s probably the worst model.”

Ireland guaranteed all the liabilities of its banks when they ran into trouble and has been injecting capital — 46 billion euros ($64 billion) so far — to prop them up. That brought the country to the brink of ruin, forcing it to accept a rescue package from the European Union in December.


Countries with larger banking systems can follow Iceland’s example, says Adriaan van der Knaap, a managing director at UBS AG.

“It wouldn’t upset the financial system,” says Van der Knaap, who has advised Iceland’s bank resolution committees.


Arni Pall Arnason, 44, Iceland’s minister of economic affairs, says the decision to make debt holders share the pain saved the country’s future.

“If we’d guaranteed all the banks’ liabilities, we’d be in the same situation as Ireland,” says Arnason, whose Social Democratic Alliance was a junior coalition partner in the Haarde government.


“In the beginning, banks and other financial institutions in Europe were telling us, ‘Never again will we lend to you,’” Einarsdottir says. “Then it was 10 years, then 5. Now they say they might soon be ready to lend again.”

Even the IMF praises Iceland’s strategy:

As the first country to experience the full force of the global economic crisis, Iceland is now held up as an example by some of how to overcome deep economic dislocation without undoing the social fabric.

Greece Faces the Same Choice

As Robert Reich notes, the same choice – telling the foreign banks to pound sand or caving in – is now faced by Greece:

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou decided in favor of democracy yesterday when he announced a national referendum on the draconian budget cuts Europe and the IMF are demanding from Greece in return for bailing it out.

(Or, more accurately, the cuts Europe and the IMF are demanding for bailing out big European banks that have lent Greece lots of money and stand to lose big if Greece defaults on those loans – not to mention Wall Street banks that will also suffer because of their intertwined financial connections with European banks.)


We’ve been here before, remember? Here in the United States, at the end of 2008 and start of 2009. Wall Street had made lots of bad loans, and the question we faced then was whether to bail out the Street.

The difference is, we didn’t hold a referendum. Instead, the Bush administration told Congress the nation risked “economic Armageddon” if it didn’t immediately authorize a giant bailout of the Street – with no strings attached. [Our comment: Indeed, Paulson threatened martial law if the bailouts weren't approved.] Of course Congress hastily agreed. Hank Paulson, Ben Bernanke, and Tim Geithner (as head of the New York Fed) then doled out the money. And the Obama administration (with Geithner installed as Treasury Secretary) gave out more.

So instead of allowing the Street to live with the consequences of its negligence, we bailed it out – and allowed the Main Streets of America to suffer the consequences.

If Americans had been consulted about the bank bailout, I doubt it would have happened the way it did. [Our comment: Polls showedthat Americans were overwhelmingly against the bailouts.  And see this.]  At the very least, strict conditions would have been placed on the banks in return for the money. The banks would have had to eat the losses of the predatory mortgages they sold, and help homeowners reduce those mortgages. They’d be required to improve the capitalization of small banks in communities across the country. They’d be forced to accept stringent new regulations, including resurrection of Glass-Steagall. [And see this, this and this.]

But Americans weren’t really consulted. It was an inside job.


Remember Fukushima? It's Back - TEPCO finds sign of fresh nuclear fission at Fukushima reactor -

Remember Fukushima? It's Back - TEPCO finds sign of fresh nuclear fission at Fukushima reactor - 
Possible Nuclear Fission at Crippled Japanese Power Plant

The problem with sweeping unresolved problems, especially of the unstable gamma decay variety, is that they tend to pop up at the most inopportune of times. Such as during global coordinated fiat ponzi bailouts. Kyodo reports that according to TEPCO a fresh fission reaction has restarted at Fukushima Daichi, and that boric acid is being injected to control a "possible nuclear reaction." Hardly the encouraging news that the world needs right about now.

From Kyodo:

TEPCO finds sign of fresh nuclear fission at Fukushima reactor 

Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Wednesday there may be signs of fresh nuclear fission in the No. 2 reactor at its quake-damaged Fukushima Daiichi power plant and that it has begun injecting boric acid to control a possible nuclear reaction.

There has been no change in the temperature, pressure and radiation levels at the reactor, whose nuclear fuel is believed to have melted when the cooling system failed following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, the utility known as TEPCO said.

Gas samples taken Tuesday from inside the reactor's containment vessel may contain radioactive xenon, a gas typically generated by nuclear fission, the company said.
What is the conventional wisdom thinking on Fukushima anyway? Out of sight, out of mind? Yeah, we thought so.

12 Reasons To Be Extremely Pessimistic About The Direction That The Economy Is Headed -

12 Reasons To Be Extremely Pessimistic About The Direction That The Economy Is Headed - 

Do you want to feel optimistic about the U.S. economy?  If so, you might not want to read the rest of this article.  In many areas of the United States today, you can almost smell the fear and the anxiety in the air.  Survey after survey has found that the American people are extremely pessimistic about the direction the economy is headed.  In fact, many recent surveys have found that economic pessimism is at the highest levels ever recorded.  There has been an astonishing loss of faith in the system.  In general, people are extremely dissatisfied with how things are going right now, and they do not believe that things will get better any time soon.  When the majority of the population starts losing hope like that, it creates a very unstable economic environment.  Once people are gripped by desperation, they start behaving much differently.  Desperate people do desperate things, and we are already starting to see this in many parts of the country.
It would be great if there was some reason to be optimistic about things, but our leaders continue to pursue the same failed policies that got us into this mess in the first place.
The statistics that you are about to read should alarm you.  The American people have gotten it into their heads that things are bad and that they are going to get even worse.
Unfortunately, the American people are correct about that.
The following are 12 reasons to be extremely pessimistic about the direction that the economy is headed right now....
#1 A big chunk of the American people are flat broke.  According to one recent survey, one-third of all Americans say that they have absolutely no spare cash.
#2 The budgets of American families are being stretched incredibly thin and the savings rate is going down again.  In fact, the savings rate in September was the lowest that it has been since December 2007.
#3 Back in 2001, Gallup began asking Americans about how they feel about the state of their own personal finances.  In October, Gallup once again asked this question, and 22 percent of the respondents rated their personal financial situations as "poor".  That is the highest number that Gallup has ever seen.  In addition, the gap between the number of Americans that said that their finances were "getting worse" and the number of Americans that said their finances were "getting better" was also the largest that Gallup has ever seen.
#4 Overall, Americans are very depressed about the state of the U.S. economy.  According to a recent Associated Press-GfK poll, 43 percent of all Americans believe that the economy is in "very poor" shape.
#5 Big corporations continue to lay off more American workers.  For example, Whirlpool has just announced that it will be slashing 5,000 more jobs in the United States and Europe.
#6 Americans seem to have an incredibly dim view of the job market.  One recent survey discovered the following....
This month, just 9% of Americans would rate the job market of their region of the nation as good while 67% would rate it as bad and one-quarter (24%) say it is neither good nor bad.
#7 If nearly all Americans believe that something bad is going to happen, does that make it more likely that it actually will happen?  A recent IBOPE Zogby Interactive Poll found that 95 percent of all Americans are "somewhat concerned" or "very concerned" that we are headed for a double-dip recession.
#8 The American people are also overwhelmingly pessimistic about the housing market.  In fact, the same IBOPE Zogby Interactive Poll referenced above found that 89 percent of all Americans are "somewhat concerned" or "very concerned" that there will be an increase in foreclosures over the next two years.
#9 Older Americans tend to be cranky in general, but the amount of pessimism that they are exhibiting about the economy right now is absolutely stunning.  The following comes from a recent article in the Huffington Post....
Older workers are gloomier about the economy now than they were last year.
Nearly two thirds of workers older than 50 first surveyed by AARP's Public Policy Institute in 2010 said things had gotten worse by the time the senior lobbying powerhouse followed up in August. Fewer than one in 10 said their view of the economy had improved. The rest said things had stayed the same.
#10 The consensus among the American people seems to be that the economy will get even worse leading up to the election in 2012.  The following is what one recent telephone survey discovered....
By a 49%-35% margin, Americans say they expect the U.S. economy to worsen between now and the November 2012 presidential election.
#11 The U.S. national debt is an anchor around our necks that just gets heavier and heavier as time goes by.  The U.S. government is now about 15 trillion dollars in debt, and a recent Allstate-National Journal poll discovered that 79 percent of all Americans "believe the federal debt and deficit have a meaningful impact on their personal finances."
#12 The financial crisis in Europe just seems to get worse by the day.  The United States is already teetering on the edge of an economic disaster, and if Europe experiences a big time financial crash it seems extremely unlikely that we would be able to avoid another major recession.
Things simply do not look very promising for the economy right now.
As I wrote about recently, there are a lot of signs that the American people are already extremely angry and frustrated by what is happening to the economy.
So what is going to happen if things get significantly worse?
Unfortunately, there simply are not any "quick fixes" which are going to put us back "on course".  The consequences that we are experiencing now are the result of decades of bad decisions.  The American people kept sending incompetents, con men and charlatans back to Washington D.C. over and over and over and now we are going to pay the price.
The prosperity of the last 30 years was a false prosperity.  We squandered our national inheritance and we lived the "high life" by piling up mountains of debt unlike anything that the world has ever seen before.
In the end, there is always a very high price for "living for today" at the expense of the future.  Tomorrow always ends up arriving way too soon, and future generations will curse us for being so foolish.
The party was great while it lasted, but it is coming to an end.
A whole lot of economic trouble is on the horizon, and it is going to be very, very painful.

Change In Crack Sentencing Means 12,000 Inmates To Be Released -

Change In Crack Sentencing Means 12,000 Inmates To Be Released - 

Antwain Black was facing a few more years in Leavenworth for dealing crack. But on Tuesday, he returned home to Illinois, a free man.

Black, 36, was among the first of potentially thousands of inmates who are being released early from federal prison because of an easing of the harsh penalties for crack that were enacted in the 1980s, when the drug was a terrifying new phenomenon in America's cities.

"I did more than enough time," Black said outside his family's Springfield, Ill., home, where family and friends had gathered to celebrate over dinner. "I feel like I can win this time. I'm a better man today than I was then."

The 1980s-era federal laws punished crack-related crimes much more severely than those involving powdered cocaine – a practice criticized as racially discriminatory because most of those convicted of crack offenses were black.

More recently, the penalties for crack were reduced to bring them more in line with those for powder, and Tuesday was the first day inmates locked up under the old rules could get out early.

Some 12,000 prisoners are expected to benefit from reduced sentences over the next several years, with an estimated 1,900 eligible for immediate release as of Tuesday. On average, inmates will get three years shaved off their sentences. The reductions do not apply to people found guilty of crack offenses under state laws.

Black said like many of his peers, he started smoking crack in high school and began selling it partly to support his habit. He said he was a low-level dealer and that he didn't realize the mandatory minimum sentence he faced when he pleaded guilty in 2003 and was given a 15-year prison term.

With changes in the law, good behavior and credit for time served in jail, he was freed from the federal penitentiary at Leavenworth, Kan., after 8 1/2 years locked up for the crime. His projected release had been Oct. 3, 2013.

"I didn't think it was fair and I still don't think it's fair now," Black said. "I know guys who aren't coming home, still, because of these laws that were placed upon a certain race of people," he said.

Kentucky inmate Darryl Flood, 48, thought he would have to wait until 2013 to get out of prison, more than a decade after he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute crack. But on Monday a judge approved his release two years ahead of schedule.

Susan Cardwell, his sister in Haymarket, Va., said she was expecting him to arrive on a bus on Wednesday. She said she cried after getting a call from his lawyer with the news.

"He wants to get out, get a job and get his life back together," she said in a telephone interview. "He says he'll work two jobs if he has to."

Under the old system, a person convicted of crack possession got the same mandatory prison term as someone with 100 times the amount of powdered cocaine. Five grams of crack, about the weight of five packets of Sweet N'Low, brought a mandatory five years; it took 500 grams of powder to get the same sentence.

The law was seen as racially unfair because blacks made up the majority of people convicted of crack crimes, while whites were more likely to be found guilty of offenses involving powdered cocaine.

In 2010, Congress reduced the disparity in sentences for future cases. Last summer, the U.S. Sentencing Commission decided to apply the measure to inmates doing time under the old rules.

Chris Burke, a spokesman for the Federal Bureau of Prisons, said that he could not say exactly how many people would be let out Tuesday but that officials were working around the clock to process hundreds of orders from judges granting early release. In certain cases, prison officials have been given a grace period of several days to free inmates, Burke said.

The releases are the result of months of work by prosecutors, public defenders and judges across the country. Inmates' requests for sentence reductions were decided on a case-by-case basis, with courts taking into consideration such factors as the prisoner's behavior behind bars and threat to society.

Read more -