Call it the loophole that destroyed the world. It’s 1999, the tail end of the Clinton years. While the rest of America obsesses over Monica Lewinsky, Columbine and Mark McGwire’s biceps, Congress is feverishly crafting what could yet prove to be one of the most transformative laws in the history of our economy – a law that would make possible a broader concentration of financial and industrial power than we’ve seen in more than a century.
But the crazy thing is, nobody at the time quite knew it. Most observers on the Hill thought the Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999 – also known as the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act – was just the latest and boldest in a long line of deregulatory handouts to Wall Street that had begun in the Reagan years.
Wall Street had spent much of that era arguing that America’s banks needed to become bigger and badder, in order to compete globally with the German and Japanese-style financial giants, which were supposedly about to swallow up all the world’s banking business. So through legislative lackeys like red-faced Republican deregulatory enthusiast Phil Gramm, bank lobbyists were pushing a new law designed to wipe out 60-plus years of bedrock financial regulation. The key was repealing – or “modifying,” as bill proponents put it – the famed Glass-Steagall Act separating bankers and brokers, which had been passed in 1933 to prevent conflicts of interest within the finance sector that had led to the Great Depression. Now, commercial banks would be allowed to merge with investment banks and insurance companies, creating financial megafirms potentially far more powerful than had ever existed in America.
All of this was big enough news in itself. But it would take half a generation – till now, basically – to understand the most explosive part of the bill, which additionally legalized new forms of monopoly, allowing banks to merge with heavy industry. A tiny provision in the bill also permitted commercial banks to delve into any activity that is “complementary to a financial activity and does not pose a substantial risk to the safety or soundness of depository institutions or the financial system generally.”
Complementary to a financial activity. What the hell did that mean?
“From the perspective of the banks,” says Saule Omarova, a law professor at the University of North Carolina, “pretty much everything is considered complementary to a financial activity.”
Fifteen years later, in fact, it now looks like Wall Street and its lawyers took the term to be a synonym for ruthless campaigns of world domination. “Nobody knew the reach it would have into the real economy,” says Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown. Now a leading voice on the Hill against the hidden provisions, Brown actually voted for Gramm-Leach-Bliley as a congressman, along with all but 72 other House members. “I bet even some of the people who were the bill’s advocates had no idea.”
Today, banks like Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs own oil tankers, run airports and control huge quantities of coal, natural gas, heating oil, electric power and precious metals. They likewise can now be found exerting direct control over the supply of a whole galaxy of raw materials crucial to world industry and to society in general, including everything from food products to metals like zinc, copper, tin, nickel and, most infamously thanks to a recent high-profile scandal, aluminum. And they’re doing it not just here but abroad as well: In Denmark, thousands took to the streets in protest in recent weeks, vampire-squid banners in hand, when news came out that Goldman Sachs was about to buy a 19 percent stake in Dong Energy, a national electric provider. The furor inspired mass resignations of ministers from the government’s ruling coalition, as the Danish public wondered how an American investment bank could possibly hold so much influence over the state energy grid.
There are more eclectic interests, too. After 9/11, we found it worrisome when foreigners started to get into the business of running ports, but there’s been little controversy as banks have done the same, or even started dabbling in other activities with national-security implications – Goldman Sachs, for instance, is apparently now in the uranium business, a piece of news that attracted few headlines.
But banks aren’t just buying stuff, they’re buying whole industrial processes. They’re buying oil that’s still in the ground, the tankers that move it across the sea, the refineries that turn it into fuel, and the pipelines that bring it to your home. Then, just for kicks, they’re also betting on the timing and efficiency of these same industrial processes in the financial markets – buying and selling oil stocks on the stock exchange, oil futures on the futures market, swaps on the swaps market, etc.
Allowing one company to control the supply of crucial physical commodities, and also trade in the financial products that might be related to those markets, is an open invitation to commit mass manipulation. It’s something akin to letting casino owners who take book on NFL games during the week also coach all the teams on Sundays…..
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The war against so-called ‘vaccine preventable’ diseases has a new frontier: the internet, and most recently The Council of Foreign Relations (CFR) has entered the fray with the publication of an interactive map that it claims “visually plots global outbreaks of measles, mumps, whooping cough, polio, rubella, and other diseases that are easily preventable by inexpensive and effective vaccines.” This widely referenced map generated news headlines such as:
- LA Times: “The toll of the anti-vaccination movement, in one devastating graphic”
- Medical Daily: “Map Shows Anti-Vaccine Movement’s Impact On Public Health In U.S., Europe”
- The Verge: “Map of preventable disease outbreaks shows the influence of anti-vaccination movements”
CFR’s map is “made possible by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation,” and is part of The Global Health Program at the Council on Foreign Relations, which it claims “provides independent, evidence-based analysis and recommendations to help policymakers, business leaders, journalists, and the general public meet the health challenges of a globalized world.” The problem, however, with this map is that is not based on peer-reviewed biomedical evidence as one would expect, but largely anecdotal evidence aggregated from unconfirmed and often unverifiable news stories. …
As long as they deny the autism connection they are not to be taken seriously. But in any case it takes a great deal of blind trust in our medical, pharmaceutical and governmental institutions to get vaccinated.
TCR’s interview with Jane Graham, OKC bombing survivor:
I wonder if it ever occurs to these people how washington’s preparations for martial law dovetail so well with its carefully engineered destruction of the economy. What kind of government exports its own industrial infrastructure?
The U.S. Army has built a 300 acre ‘fake city’ complete with a sports stadium, bank, school, and an underground subway in order to train for unspecified future combat scenarios.
The recently opened site is located in Virginia and was built at a cost of $96 million dollars, taking just two years to complete.
While the city was ostensibly built to prepare U.S. troops for the occupation of cities abroad, some will undoubtedly fear that the real intention could be closer to home. Although the site includes a mosque, the town looks American in every other way, with signs in English.
The fact that, as the Telegraph reports, “The subway carriages even carry the same logo as the carriages in Washington DC,” could suggest that the site was built to double both as a foreign city and a mock domestic town.
According to Colonel John P. Petkosek, “This is the place where we can be creative, where we can come up with solutions for problems that we don’t even know we have yet….This is where we’ll look at solutions for the future–material solutions and non-material solutions…anything from how you’re going to operate in a subterranean environment to how you dismount a Humvee to avoid an IED strike.”
The increasing demonization of domestic political groups as extremists has prompted numerous scenarios where commentators have suggested that U.S. Army and National Guard personnel could be needed to quell civil unrest.
In 2012, an academic study about the future use of the military as a peacekeeping force within the United States written by a retired Army Colonel depicted a shocking scenario in which the U.S. Army is used to restore order to a town that has been seized by Tea Party “insurrectionists”.
The study dovetailed with a leaked U.S. Army manual which revealed plans for the military to carry out “Civil Disturbance Operations” during which troops would be used domestically to quell riots, confiscate firearms and even kill Americans on U.S. soil during mass civil unrest.
The manual also describes how prisoners will be processed through temporary internment camps under the guidance of U.S. Army FM 3-19.40 Internment/Resettlement Operations, which outlines how internees would be “re-educated” into developing an “appreciation of U.S. policies” while detained in prison camps inside the United States.
Fort Hood soldiers are also being taught by their superiors that Christians, Tea Party supporters and anti-abortion activists represent a radical terror threat, mirroring rhetoric backed by the Department of Homeland Security which frames “liberty lovers” as domestic extremists.
Last year, former Navy SEAL Ben Smith warned that the Obama administration is asking top brass in the military if they would be comfortable with disarming U.S. citizens, a litmus test that includes gauging whether they would be prepared to order NCOs to fire on Americans.
During a recent Ohio National Guard exercise, second amendment proponents were portrayed as domestic terrorists as part of a mock disaster drill.