(Democracy Now)- In an interview with Democracy Now!, Rolling Stone journalist Matt Taibbi spoke about the recent news surrounding the five major banks – Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland and UBS – who pled guilty to rigging the price of foreign currencies and interest rates. Their fines amount up to more than $5 billion. “They were monkeying around with the prices of every currency on Earth,” Taibbi told Amy Goodman. “So, if you can imagine that anybody who has money, which basically includes anybody who’s breathing on the planet, all of those people were affected by this activity. So if you have dollars in your pocket, they were monkeying around with the prices of dollars versus euros, so you might have had more or less money fractionally, depending on all of this manipulation, every single day.”

Below is an interview with Taibbi, followed by a transcript:

NERMEEN SHAIKH: We turn now to the felons on Wall Street. Five of the world’s top banks will pay over $5 billion in fines after pleading guilty to rigging the price of foreign currencies and interest rates. Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotland pleaded guilty to conspiring to manipulate the price of U.S. dollars and euros exchanged in the five trillion foreign exchange—$5 trillion foreign exchange spot market. UBS pleaded guilty for its role in manipulating the Libor benchmark interest rate. On Wednesday, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the deal.

ATTORNEY GENERAL LORETTA LYNCH: We are here to announce a major law enforcement action against international financial institutions that for years participated in a brazen display of collusion and foreign exchange rate market manipulation, and will, as a result, pay a total of nearly $3 billion in fines and penalties. As a result of our investigation, four of the world’s largest banks have agreed to plead guilty to felony antitrust violations. They are Citicorp, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Barclays PLC and the Royal Bank of Scotland PLC.

AMY GOODMAN: No one who works with the banks was hit with criminal charges as part of the settlements.

For more, we’re joined by Matt Taibbi, award-winning journalist with Rolling Stonemagazine. His most recent book, The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap, is now out in paperback.

Welcome back to Democracy Now!, Matt.

MATT TAIBBI: Good to see you, Amy.

AMY GOODMAN: OK, explain what these banks are charged with. And what does it mean when you say banks are charged, but all the people go free?

MATT TAIBBI: Right, they filed—actually, these banks, the companies, pleaded guilty to felony charges in this case, which means it was not individuals of the company, it was the actual company itself, which is actually a step forward, because for a long time in the post-2008 period we were having a lot of settlements where there was a sort of a neither-admit-nor-deny agreement between the government and these companies, and in this case they actually did have to admit to wrongdoing and did have to plead guilty to a criminal charge, in addition to the money changing hands.

AMY GOODMAN: And what was the wrongdoing?

MATT TAIBBI: The wrongdoing was manipulating the prices of currencies, which is about as serious a financial crime as you can possibly get, I think. You know, you and I sat here a few years ago and talked about the Libor scandal. This is very similar.

Read More

(NPR)- Fifty years after the repeal of Jim Crow, many African-Americans still live in segregated ghettos in the country’s metropolitan areas. Richard Rothstein, a research associate at the Economic Policy Institute, has spent years studying the history of residential segregation in America.

“We have a myth today that the ghettos in metropolitan areas around the country are what the Supreme Court calls ‘de-facto’ — just the accident of the fact that people have not enough income to move into middle class neighborhoods or because real estate agents steered black and white families to different neighborhoods or because there was white flight,” Rothstein tells Fresh Air’s Terry Gross.

“It was not the unintended effect of benign policies,” he says. “It was an explicit, racially purposeful policy that was pursued at all levels of government, and that’s the reason we have these ghettos today and we are reaping the fruits of those policies.”

Listen to the entire interview HERE

Read More

(The Blaze)- Readers of Playboy may be surprised to find that buried within a recent interview with one of Hollywood’s biggest stars is a fairly deep explication of his libertarian beliefs.

In a lengthy discussion with Vince Vaughn, star of blockbuster films from “Swingers” to “Wedding Crashers,” the author opened up about his views on topics ranging from federal versus local government, to affirmative action and the non-aggression principle.

Below are the pertinent excerpts:

On the superiority of local over federal government

“I like the way it was until 1913 [when the 16th Amendment was ratified, legalizing a federal income tax], when locally you had sales taxes and property taxes. That seems ethical to me, because I can move to a different neighborhood or area if I like the services they provide. To this day, your police department and your fire department are paid for with local taxes, and that makes sense, because you might use those. But the federal government looking into your books to decide what to take from you, that feels wrong.

Trusting the federal government to know what we need and to run things well feels like a bad idea. You see that in the foreign policy of force, where the United States decides to go into another country to make things turn out a certain way. It doesn’t work. It causes more problems. Just look at any of these undeclared wars. You’re suggesting at gunpoint that you’ll decide how things will go. The results haven’t gone well. I’ve been over to Afghanistan and Iraq. I’ve been with the USO. I’ve gone over with movies and done stuff. I care a lot about all the kids and families in those situations. It can’t be easy. But I don’t agree with a foreign policy that says you can send troops places without declaring a war and without having a plan to win the war. I would think you would look at Vietnam and suggest it wasn’t the best-laid plan.

I feel the same way domestically. If you look at America today, there’s a real want to use force for the issues people believe in. You want whatever you believe in to become law. You’re going to make this drug legal and that one illegal. I don’t think that’s the government’s job to decide. I think it’s up to the individual. We’re all different…We don’t all share the same consistent behavior, and the individual should be innocent until proven guilty. They should be allowed to decide what’s in their interest, what makes sense for them, unless they commit fraud or physical force or take someone’s property.”

On the rule of law

“If someone commits fraud against you or does something to you, you take them to court. Then there’s either a penalty or jail time, depending on what it is. No one’s suggesting that you don’t have law. Everyone’s freer and safer if there are laws in place. If you have no law, you can’t leave your house, because you have to protect your stuff.”

On the Second Amendment

“I believe in the right to defend yourself if need be. Hopefully you’re never in that situation, but I think you’re fairly naive to believe there will never be a cause for self-defense. But again, I believe it’s up to the individual. I don’t believe rights come in groups. You shouldn’t get more or fewer rights because of what you believe in or what nationality you were born into.”

On affirmative action

Do you believe that using race as a factor in evaluating a person is a good way to operate?

…[E]valuating someone based on race…is racism. Rights don’t come to you because you’re a man or a woman or African American or European or Jewish. And I certainly don’t think the federal government should be in the business of deciding things or handing out money based on factors like these. It’s the same with same-sex marriage. Who cares what people feel about each other? Let people decide for themselves who they can marry. It’s not the government’s job. It’s between you and your partner and your church or synagogue or whatever you believe in.

I think history has proven without a doubt that the proper role of government is to protect individuals’ rights and liberties. That has always been the most prosperous, freest society for people to live in. And when government gets too involved, society turns into a place that gets very, very ugly.”

On cronyism and politics

“Let’s say I did [run for office]. I’m going to have a lot of people with a lot of money becoming my friends, aren’t I? Because I can write laws to benefit you. Let’s say you’re a major corporation, and I’m the politician and I can write laws. I can say which race gets a benefit and which doesn’t. That could get me some votes. Or I write laws that help your business and limit other businesses from being able to compete with you because they can’t survive all the new programs I’m putting in place. What is it they can’t afford? The health care act? Okay, I’ll vote for that and they can never reach you. But you have to vote for me.

You have to understand that America today is not capitalistic. The problem is corporatism. The government has too much authority, and it’s dangerous. It stifles productivity and freedom and prosperity and peace. I find most people nowadays are more complacent or accepting that the government can successfully do everything for us. It can’t. It can’t!”

Read more at The Blaze

(Business Insider, by Katherine Krug) In 2010 I moved from Los Angeles to San Francisco and thought I had to bring my car with me.  LA, as anyone who’s ever heard anyone say anything about LA knows, is a car city. If you’re going anywhere, you’re going in your car.And after living there, I was convinced that this truth wasn’t limited to any one city. Owning a car was necessary wherever you lived.My friends placed bets on how quickly I’d ditch my beloved Volkswagen Jetta for a bicycle, telling me about the bike lanes, the BART, and so on. I patiently listened as I jingled my car keys in my pocket, confused why anyone would ever think I’d let go of such control.

When I arrived in San Francisco, I drove to work every day. Having a car was freedom. It was going wherever I wanted, whenever I wanted. But slowly it started becoming a burden, both mental and financial.That large dent someone anonymously gifted me on my driver’s side door? I can’t turn my leased car in with that. Do I fix it now or later? Those $68 parking tickets that amassed so quickly? But that’s more than the cost of my lease each month! The reasons kept piling up. Skyrocketing gas prices, flat tires, overnight parking, more hit and run gifts, a speeding ticket, smashed windows. That glow of freedom? It was from a bonfire fed by a never-ending stream of my money.

Enter Uber and Lyft. Since giving up my car in October ’13 I haven’t waited more than 5 minutes from the moment I thought about needing a car to buckling my seatbelt. They hydrate me, tell me great stories, or, if I want, give me the space and time to do that last bit of work before a meeting. I don’t look for parking, or worry about gas, or get upset if someone cuts me off on the highway. That’s real freedom.

Read more at Business Insider

Slate– Those on a quest to rethink small-space living build tiny houses, install pop-up rentals on vacant lots, and design portable 10-square-foot microkitchens tucked inside armoires. Presented over the weekend at Toronto’s Interior Design Show, Cubitat is a 10-by-10-by-10-foot cube that houses a kitchen, bathroom, bed, laundry, and storage.

 Once plumbing and electric are hooked up, the structure can theoretically turn any dwelling into what the developers are calling a “plug and play” living space that looks something like a giant’s Rubik’s cube and seems to beg to be painted in Mondrian colors.

A collaboration between Toronto-based Urban Capital developers David Wex and Mark Reeve (the team behind Smart House microcondos) and designer Luca Nichetto, the prefab cube—which is still in the prototype phase—can be customized online and shipped to its destination.

Read more at Slate

Zak Kanter Blog– I have spent quite a bit of time lately thinking about autonomous cars, and I wanted to summarize my current thoughts and predictions. Most people – experts included – seem to think that the transition to driverless vehicles will come slowly over the coming few decades, and that large hurdles exist for widespread adoption. I believe that this is significant underestimation. Autonomous cars will be commonplace by 2025 and have a near monopoly by 2030, and the sweeping change they bring will eclipse every other innovation our society has experienced. They will cause unprecedented job loss and a fundamental restructuring of our economy, solve large portions of our environmental problems, prevent tens of thousands of deaths per year, save millions of hours with increased productivity, and create entire new industries that we cannot even imagine from our current vantage point.

The transition is already beginning to happen. Elon Musk, Tesla Motor’s CEO, says that their 2015 models will be able to self-drive 90 percent of the time.1 And the major automakers aren’t far behind – according to Bloomberg News, GM’s 2017 models will feature “technology that takes control of steering, acceleration and braking at highway speeds of 70 miles per hour or in stop-and-go congested traffic.”2 Both Google3 and Tesla4 predict that fully-autonomous cars – what Musk describes as “true autonomous driving where you could literally get in the car, go to sleep and wake up at your destination” – will be available to the public by 2020.

How it will unfold:

Industry experts think that consumers will be slow to purchase autonomous cars – while this may be true, it is a mistake to assume that this will impede the transition. Morgan Stanley’s research shows that cars are driven just 4% of the time,5 which is an astonishing waste considering that the average cost of car ownership is nearly $9,000 per year.6 Next to a house, an automobile is the second most expensive asset that most people will ever buy – it is no surprise that ride sharing services like Uber and car sharing services like Zipcar are quickly gaining popularity as an alternative to car ownership. It is now more economical to use a ride sharing service if you live in a city and drive less than 10,000 miles per year.7 The impact on private car ownership is enormous: a UC-Berkeley study showed that vehicle ownership among car sharing users was cut in half.8 The car purchasers of the future will not be you and me – cars will be purchased and operated by ride sharing and car sharing companies.

Read More at the Zak Kanter Blog   

Deadline – The Big Apple took the top spot in 2014 by accounting for $19.7 billion in entertainment and media spending, ahead of Tokyo’s $19.5 billion, according to a report out today from research and consulting firm. NYC likely will remain the industry capital through 2018, with outlays increasing an average of 4.5% a year to $23.6 billion, says the report titled “Cities of Opportunity.” It would be followed by Tokyo (+0.7% a year to $20.1 billion in 2018), London (+3.3% to $18.5 billion), Seoul (+3.5% to $13.5 billion), Hong Kong (+5.6% to $11.2 billion) and Los Angeles (+4.4% to $9.9 billion).

The results could be significant: Entertainment and media (or E&M) will be an increasingly important source of jobs and wealth as the world becomes more urbanized, PwC says. It estimates that by 2018, the 30 top cities will account for $184 billion in E&M spending — up from $147 billion in 2013 — and 6.3 million jobs. Established industry centers will continue to dominate: E&M accounts for more than 10% of the GDP for London, New York, Los Angeles, Berlin, Madrid and Istanbul. But the fastest growth will take place in emerging cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Mumbai and Jakarta.

Read more at Deadline 

This is the consequence of not enough men rising to their Godly design.  Strong men would be looking out for these women, not leaving them to wolves. -TL

USA Today – For a decade, federal authorities say Paulino Ramirez-Granados and Raul Granados-Rendon were known for their skill at professing love to young, lonely women.Then they smuggled the women into the U.S. from Mexico and forced them to work as prostitutes.

Today, they are known as something else: fugitives.

The men have been on the lam since they were indicted in 2011 for their part in leading a family ring of sex traffickers from Tenancingo, Mexico, who took dozens of women to Queens, N.Y., and made them turn tricks for $30 to $35 per quarter-hour.The duo have made the Immigration and Customs Enforcement list of the 10 most wanted fugitives indicted for human trafficking, the agency announced Tuesday.

Most are wanted for sex trafficking. Half come from Tenancingo, a Mexican town of 10,000 people 80 miles southwest of Mexico City that has become known as that country’s sex trafficking capital.

Read more at USA Today

(Rolling Stone)- Helmand Province in southern Afghanistan is named for the wide river that runs through its provincial capital, Lashkar Gah, a low-slung city of shrubby roundabouts and glass-fronted market blocks. When I visited in April, there was an expectant atmosphere, like that of a whaling town waiting for the big ships to come in. In the bazaars, the shops were filled with dry goods, farming machinery and motorcycles. The teahouses, where a man could spend the night on the carpet for the price of his dinner, were packed with migrant laborers, or nishtgar, drawn from across the southern provinces, some coming from as far afield as Iran and Pakistan. The schools were empty; in war-torn districts, police and Taliban alike had put aside their arms. It was harvest time.

Across the province, hundreds of thousands of people were taking part in the largest opium harvest in Afghanistan’s history. With a record 224,000 hectares under cultivation this year, the country produced an estimated 6,400 tons of opium, or around 90 percent of the world’s supply. The drug is entwined with the highest levels of the Afghan government and the economy in a way that makes the cocaine business in Escobar-era Colombia look like a sideshow. The share of cocaine trafficking and production in Colombia’s GDP peaked at six percent in the late 1980s; in Afghanistan today, according to U.N. estimates, the opium industry accounts for 15 percent of the economy, a figure that is set to rise as the West withdraws. “Whatever the term narco state means, if there is a country to which it applies, it is Afghanistan,” says Vanda Felbab-Brown, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who studies illicit economies in conflict zones. “It is unprecedented in history.”

Even more shocking is the fact that the Afghan narcotics trade has gotten undeniably worse since the U.S.-led invasion: The country produces twice as much opium as it did in 2000. How did all those poppy fields flower under the nose of one of the biggest international military and development missions of our time? The answer lies partly in the deeply cynical bargains struck by former Afghan President Hamid Karzai in his bid to consolidate power, and partly in the way the U.S. military ignored the corruption of its allies in taking on the Taliban. It’s the story of how, in pursuit of the War on Terror, we lost the War on Drugs in Afghanistan by allying with many of the same people who turned the country into the world’s biggest source of heroin.

Read More at Rolling Stone


Tad Lumpkin has a keen eye for emerging global trends, economic cycles, politics, culture and history. Tad has experience in several aspects of political and cultural analysis as a host of nationally syndicated radio show and book author. Tad also has created wildly successful multi-platform media that explains complex and information heavy topics such as banking, The Federal Reserve, the roots of violence, education, and more in easy to understand and entertaining packages.