Tagged: conspiracy

Feds abuse another law — defendant charged with clearing his browser history


A law designed to prosecute corporate fraud – but that requires work, integrity, dedication

Khairullozhon Matanov is a 24-year-old former cab driver from Quincy, Massachusetts. The night of the Boston Marathon bombings, he ate dinner with Tamerlan and Dhzokhar Tsarnaev at a kebob restaurant in Somerville. Four days later Matanov saw photographs of his friends listed as suspects in the bombings on the CNN and FBI websites. Later that day he went to the local police. He told them that he knew the Tsarnaev brothers and that they’d had dinner together that week, but he lied about whose idea it was to have dinner, lied about when exactly he had looked at the Tsarnaevs’ photos on the Internet, lied about whether Tamerlan lived with his wife and daughter, and lied about when he and Tamerlan had last prayed together. Matanov likely lied to distance himself from the brothers or to cover up his own jihadist sympathies—or maybe he was just confused.

Then Matanov went home and cleared his Internet browser history.

Matanov continued to live in Quincy for over a year after the bombings. During this time the FBI tracked him with a drone-like surveillance plane that made loops around Quincy, disturbing residents. The feds finally arrested and indicted him in May 2014. They never alleged that Matanov was involved in the bombings or that he knew about them beforehand, but they charged him with four counts of obstruction of justice. There were three counts for making false statements based on the aforementioned lies and—remarkably—one count for destroying “any record, document or tangible object” with intent to obstruct a federal investigation. This last charge was for deleting videos on his computer that may have demonstrated his own terrorist sympathies and for clearing his browser history.

Matanov faced the possibility of decades in prison — twenty years for the records-destruction charge alone.

Federal prosecutors charged Matanov for destroying records under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, a law enacted by Congress in the wake of the Enron scandal. The law was, in part, intended to prohibit corporations under federal investigation from shredding incriminating documents. But since Sarbanes-Oxley was passed in 2002 federal prosecutors have applied the law to a wider range of activities.

RTFA for all the details, all the analysis about what is reasonable – nothing the Feds want to do in this case.

Just like the Patriot Act, lousy policing leads to abuse of laws written for another purpose. Just like the Patriot act, abuse of constitutional rights is OK with incompetent cops who can’t begin to prove guilt under relevant law. I wouldn’t be surprised to find a local cop using the Patriot Act for parking violations.

The greatest conspiracy ever created — extra-terrestrial reptoid invasion

Last November, the political fate of America was once again put to a vote. But for the millions of Americans who believe in lizard people, this vote had bigger implications — like thwarting an ongoing plot of world domination.

The idea of shape-shifting lizards taking human forms in a plot to rule America and the world has become one of the most majestic and marvelous conspiracy theories created by mankind (or lizardkind, if you will). In 2008, “lizard people” found its way onto the Minnesota’s midterm ballot with some controversy.

As pundits continue to extrapolate on what the Republican win in the midterms means for the country, there are people around this country who hope their votes did something crucial — kept the country safe from lizard people for the next few years…

What is a lizard person?

It’s just what it sounds like.

Lizard people are cold-blooded humanoid reptilians who have the power to shape-shift into human form. According to David Icke, a new-age philosopher and one of the most prominent theorists in the lizard people game, these creatures have had their claws in humankind since ancient time, and world leaders like Queen Elizabeth, George W. Bush, the Clintons, and Bob Hope are all lizard people…

How many Americans believe in lizard people?

Back in April of 2013, Public Policy Polling conducted a poll about conspiracy theories like aliens, an impostor Paul McCartney, and, of course, lizard people. And the polling organization found that 4 percent of Americans believe in lizard people, while another 7 percent were unsure. Taken to its absurd extreme, that would imply around 12 million Americans, Philip Bump, a lizard person scholar and writer at the Washington Post, found. (Public Policy Polling is a serious outlet, but it’s also known for some trolly polls, so these results have to be taken with a grain of salt.)

Keep in mind that this might not be counting all the people who, in their heart of hearts, believe that lizard people exist but are nervous that they will be found out if they publicly disclose their beliefs.

RTFA for more of this crap.

Of course these folks haven’t as much support as people who think the Earth is flat.

20 maps that never came to pass

Maps are a powerful way of illustrating not only the world that is, but worlds that never have been. What follow are not fictional maps — there’s no Westeros or Middle Earth — but plans and hypotheticals that never came to pass.

You’ll see military plans for invasions that didn’t happen or conquests that were hoped-for and never achieved. You’ll also find daring infrastructure schemes that would have remapped cities and even whole continents. There are proposals for political reform — some serious and some more fanciful — as well as deeply serious plans for entire independent nation-states that have never been brought to life. Welcome to maps of worlds that don’t exist — but might.


1927 – Next US war with the Brits begins with pre-emptive invasion of Canada, Caribbean islands


Return of southwestern states proposed by Germany to Mexico for an alliance in WW1


NAFTA superhighway, a favorite conspiracy for American nutballs – never proposed

RTFA for a review of all 20 hypothetical adventures believed possible or at least hoped for. Should we laugh or cry for what some folks believe is reasonable?

Rick Perry indicted on two charges of felony corruption

A Travis County grand jury Friday indicted Gov. Rick Perry on two charges related to his effort last year to force District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg to resign after her drunken driving arrest.

Grand jurors charged Perry, 64, with abuse of official capacity, a first-degree felony, and coercion of a public servant, a third-degree felony. The first charge carries a punishment of 5-99 years and a fine of up to $10,000. The second charge is punishable by 2-10 years and a fine of up to $10,000.

The indictment stems from Perry’s threat last summer to withhold $7.5 million in state money from Lehmberg’s office unless she step down – a threat he later carried out by vetoing an appropriation in the state budget.

Mary Anne Wiley, General Counsel for Perry, said blah, blah, blah, blah, blah…

The special prosecutor in the case, San Antonio attorney Michael McCrum, said he was confident with the strength of the charges filed against Perry.

“There has been an immense amount of work that has gone into my investigation up until this point,” he told reporters after announcing the indictment. “I have interviewed over 40 people who were related in some way to the events that happened.”

He later added: “I looked at the law. I looked at the facts. and I presented everything possible to the grand jury.”

RTFA for all the political brouhaha that immediately followed Perry’s indictment. Everyone knows what sort of opportunist power-hungry liar Rick Perry is. Given the accepted level of corruption in the Confederacy, no one expected him to be indicted.

Funs and games ahead, folks.

The Land of the Free holds a man in solitary confinement for 41 years — lets him out to die!


Photograph from The Innocence Project, 2008

Herman Wallace’s world for much of the last 41 years had been a solitary prison cell, 6 feet by 9 feet, when he left a Louisiana prison on Tuesday, freed by a federal judge who ruled that his original indictment in the killing of a prison guard had been unconstitutional.

On Friday morning, Mr. Wallace died of cancer in New Orleans. He was 71.

He had been one of the “Angola 3,” convicts whose solitary confinement at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, an 18,000-acre prison farm on the site of a former plantation, became a rallying point for advocates fighting abusive prison conditions around the world.

Mr. Wallace was serving a prison sentence for armed robbery when the correctional officer, Brent Miller, was stabbed to death in a riot at Angola in April 1972. Mr. Wallace and two other men were indicted in the killing. Two of the three — Albert Woodfox and Mr. Wallace — were convicted in January 1974.

They were placed in solitary confinement, joining another prisoner there, Robert King, who had been convicted of a different crime, and for decades to follow they were locked up for as much as 23 hours a day. Amnesty International published a report on them in 2011, and they were the subject of a documentary film, “In the Land of the Free,” directed by Vadim Jean…

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If you distrust vaccines, you probably believe NASA faked the moon landings

Do you believe that a covert group called the New World Order is planning to take over the planet and impose a single world government?

Do you think the moon landings were staged in a Hollywood studio?

What about 9/11—do you suspect the US government deliberately allowed the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks to happen in order to concoct an excuse for war?

If you believe these sorts of things, you’re a conspiracy theorist. That much goes without saying. But according to new research, if you believe these sorts of things, you are also more likely to be skeptical of what scientists have to say on three separate issues: vaccinations, genetically modified foods, and climate change.

The new study, by University of Bristol psychologist Stephan Lewandowsky and his colleagues in the journal PLOS ONE, finds links between conspiratorial thinking and all three of these science-skeptic stances. Notably, the relationship was by far the strongest on the vaccine issue. For geeks: the correlation was .52, an impressive relationship for social science. Another way of translating the finding? “People who tend toward conspiratorial thinking are three times more likely to reject vaccinations,” says Lewandowsky…

As if the new study won’t provoke enough ire by linking anti-vaccine views to conspiracy theories, Lewandowsky also finds links—albeit much weaker ones—between conspiracy theories and both anti-GMO beliefs and climate change denial. On GMOs, the board of directors of the American Association for the Advancement of Science has stated that “crop improvement by the modern molecular techniques of biotechnology is safe.” Accordingly, Lewandowsky’s survey respondents were asked to react to items like “I believe that because there are so many unknowns, that it is dangerous to manipulate the natural genetic material of plants” and “Genetic modification of food is a safe and reliable technology.”

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Two charged for hiding JP Morgan’s London Whale trading-loss

Two former employees of JP Morgan Chase have been charged with concealing the size of the investment bank’s $6bn trading loss last year.

Javier Martin-Artajo, 49, and Julien Grout, 35, and their co-conspirators were accused on Wednesday of “artificially increasing the market value of securities to hide the true extent of hundreds of millions of dollars of losses”, according to court papers filed by US prosecutors.

Martin-Artajo oversaw JP Morgan’s trading strategy in London, while Grout recorded the value of the soured investments.

The pair were charged in federal criminal complaints with conspiracy to falsify books and records, commit wire fraud and falsify Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filings…They also were charged separately in an SEC civil complaint…

The Wall Street Journal’s website reported that US prosecutors had reached an agreement with Bruno Iksil, a former JP Morgan trader who executed the giant trades and who was known as the “London whale”, in which he would not be criminally prosecuted for his conduct.

Iksil has agreed to fully cooperate with the investigation by US authorities as part of the deal, according to documents filed on Wednesday by the US attorney’s office quoted by the newspaper.

Overdue.

Antibiotics and the quality of meat

Scientists at the Food and Drug Administration systematically monitor the meat and poultry sold in supermarkets around the country for the presence of disease-causing bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics. These food products are bellwethers that tell us how bad the crisis of antibiotic resistance is getting. And they’re telling us it’s getting worse…

In 2011, drugmakers sold nearly 30 million pounds of antibiotics for livestock — the largest amount yet recorded and about 80 percent of all reported antibiotic sales that year. The rest was for human health care. We don’t know much more except that, rather than healing sick animals, these drugs are often fed to animals at low levels to make them grow faster and to suppress diseases that arise because they live in dangerously close quarters on top of one another’s waste…

It was not until 2008…that Congress required companies to tell the F.D.A. the quantity of antibiotics they sold for use in agriculture. The agency’s latest report, on 2011 sales…was just four pages long — including the cover and two pages of boilerplate. There was no information on how these drugs were administered or to which animals and why.

We have more than enough scientific evidence to justify curbing the rampant use of antibiotics for livestock, yet the food and drug industries are not only fighting proposed legislation to reduce these practices, they also oppose collecting the data. Unfortunately, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, as well as the F.D.A., is aiding and abetting them.

The Senate committee recently approved the Animal Drug User Fee Act, a bill that would authorize the F.D.A. to collect fees from veterinary-drug makers to finance the agency’s review of their products. Public health experts had urged the committee to require drug companies to provide more detailed antibiotic sales data to the agency. Yet the F.D.A. stood by silently as the committee declined to act, rejecting a modest proposal from Senators Kirsten E. Gillibrand of New York and Dianne Feinstein of California, both Democrats, that required the agency to report data it already collects but does not disclose…

…Why are lawmakers so reluctant to find out how 80 percent of our antibiotics are used? We cannot avoid tough questions because we’re afraid of the answers. Lawmakers must let the public know how the drugs they need to stay well are being used to produce cheaper meat.

Overdue. Another example of reactionary politicians on the payroll of corporations dominating an industry establishing standards – or lack or standards – for that industry.

The not-so-reactionary politicians stand around and do little more than pat themselves on the back.

The bureaucrats in charge of enforcing regulations seem to work hardest at avoiding the implementation of regulations worth enforcing.

We pick up the tab.

Vatican worries that the Pope’s butler scandal erodes trust

The Vatican acknowledged Monday that the newest crisis in Pope Benedict XVI’s papacy was damaging trust in the church, even as it tried to contain a scandal that has sent the Italian news media into a frenzy since the pope’s butler was arrested days ago and accused of leaking the pontiff’s confidential correspondence.

Italian news media have suggested that the butler, Paolo Gabriele, could not — and would not — have acted alone, and several newspapers suggested that a cardinal was the guiding force behind the dissemination of the documents.

“It is painful to see such a negative image” emerge of the Holy See, The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi told reporters hastily convened for a briefing. The scandals “put trust in the church and the Holy See to the test.” He added, “That’s why we must confront them directly and not hide.”

The arrest last Wednesday of Mr. Gabriele in connection with the illegal possession of confidential documents was the latest act in a scandal called Vatileaks, which has been punctuated by the periodic release of correspondence laying bare conflicts and clashes within the Holy See, including internal accusations of cronyism and corruption…

Mr. Gabriele, who has been the pope’s butler since 2006, is being held in a Vatican detention facility and on Monday morning he met with his wife and his lawyers. One lawyer, Carlo Fusco, said that his client would “cooperate fully” with Vatican magistrates investigating the leaked documents.

The first question that comes to mind is one of semantics. In practice what the Vatican and the Pope means by “trust” – is obedience.

Then there is the question of transparency. History tells us that “transparency” in an investigation of the Vatican and the papacy – means blind acceptance of whatever tale is proffered. If and when time passes and the real truth is discovered – that’s just another question for another time.