suicides; when the NSA has lost its way; gold as price signal

7-12-13     The World Health Organisation last year said one million people commit suicide every year worldwide, accounting for more deaths than wars and murders put together.http://www.dawn.com/news/1028500/suicides-hit-all-time-high-in-singapore-in-2012

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Still, central banks don’t want to go to a gold standard. But if gold is a barbarous relic, if gold has no role in the monetary system, if gold is a ‘stupid’ investment, then why do the Chinese have 5,000 tonnes? Are they stupid?

If some scenarios play out, you are going to see the price of gold go up…a lot. And it may go up a lot in a very short period of time. It’s not going to go up 10% per year for seven years and the price doubles.

It’s going to chug along sideways, maybe in an upward trend, with a lot of volatility. It will have a kind of a slow grind upward…and then a spike…and then another spike…and then a super-spike. The whole thing could happen in a matter of 90 days — six months at the most.

When that happens, you’re going to have two Americas. You’re going to have an America that was not prepared. Paper savings will be wiped out; 401(k)s will be devalued; pensions, insurance and annuities will be devalued through inflation… Because remember, it’s not just the price of gold going up.

It’s like putting a thermometer in a patient, getting a 104-degree temperature and blaming the thermometer. The thermometer’s not to blame; it’s just telling you what’s going on.

Likewise, the price of gold is not an economic object or aim in itself; it’s a price signal. It tells you what’s going on in the economy. And gold at the levels I’m talking about would mean that you’ve now verged into hyperinflation, or something close to it, because nothing happens in isolation.

At that point, you have to give more credence to gold. Now you’ve crossed the threshold. The minute you think of gold and paper money side by side, or having some relationship, you get to these price levels of $7,000–8,000 an ounce.

They’re not made up. They’re not there to be provocative. They’re actually the math. Those are the numbers you get when you simply divide the money supply by the amount of gold in the market.

People are going to have to pay attention to that. And either the Chinese are dopes — which they’re not — or people will start to get gold, which they will.

But if there’s a run on paper currencies (which is entirely possible) and there’s borderline hyperinflation (which is entirely possible), they may have to go to a gold standard… Not because they want to, but because they find it necessary to calm the markets.

I suggest you buy your gold at current levels — $1,200, $1,250 — and ride the wave up to these much higher levels ($4,000-5,000 an ounce) and then assess the situation. Be nimble. http://www.dailyreckoning.com.au/why-you-should-back-your-own-personal-gold-standard/2013/07/13/
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Former NSA Official Disputes Claims by NSA Chief

7-29-12   William Binney, a former technical director at the NSA, said during a panel discussion that NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander was playing a “word game” and that the NSA was indeed collecting e-mails, Twitter writings, internet searches and other data belonging to Americans and indexing it.

“Unfortunately, once the software takes in data, it will build profiles on everyone in that data,” he said. “You can simply call it up by the attributes of anyone you want and it’s in place for people to look at.”

He said the NSA began building its data collection system to spy on Americans prior to 9/11, and then used the terrorist attacks that occurred that year as the excuse to launch the data collection project.

“It started in February 2001 when they started asking telecoms for data,” Binney said. “That to me tells me that the real plan was to spy on Americans from the beginning.”…

Finally, Binney contradicted Alexander’s earlier claims that the agency could not violate the law even if it wanted to do so because the NSA is monitored by Congress, both intel committees and their congressional members and their staffs. “So everything we do is auditable by them, by the FISA court … and by the administration. And everything we do is accountable to them…. We are overseen by everybody,” Alexander had said.

But these assertions are disingenuous since, Binney said, “all the oversight is totally dependent on what the NSA tells them. They have no way of knowing what [the NSA is] really doing unless they’re told.”  http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2012/07/binney-on-alexander-and-nsa/

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Asked why the NSA didn’t employ privacy protections in its program, Hayden reportedly told the staffer, “We didn’t need them. We had the power,” and admitted the government was not getting warrants for the domestic surveillance.

The New Yorker also spoke with a former head of the agency’s Signals Intelligence Automation Research Center, or SARC, who invented software codenamed ThinThread that is believed to have been adapted by the NSA for the warrantless surveillance. The program had privacy protections built into it, but the official says he believes the NSA rejiggered the program to remove those protections, so that it could collect data on everyone, including people in the United States….

rumors began circulating within the NSA that the agency, with the approval of the White House, was violating the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act by conducting domestic surveillance. On Oct. 4, 2001, President Bush authorized the policy, which was operational by Oct. 6.

Drake said strange things began happening inside the NSA, with equipment suddenly being moved, and people who worked on FISA warrants being re-assigned. Drake saw this as a tipoff that the conventional legal surveillance process was being circumvented.

Binney, who wasn’t involved directly in the post-9/11 surveillance program, was certain that the rumored surveillance must be using components of the ThinThread program he helped design, but with the privacy protections now stripped out of it.

“It was my brainchild,” he told The New Yorker. “But they removed the protections, the anonymization process. When you remove that, you can target anyone.”

NSA people who were apprised of the program told him, “Can you believe they’re doing this? They’re getting billing records on U.S. citizens! They’re putting pen registers on everyone in the country!”

Drake heard from colleagues that the surveillance involved special “arrangements” that were being made with telecom and credit card companies to collect data on customers. Drake says he tried to raise concerns about the legality of the program with the NSA’s general counsel but was told not to worry about it, that it was legal and none of his business.

“The mantra was ‘Get the data!’” he told The New Yorker.

He discussed the issue with Maureen Baginski, his superior at the NSA and the third-highest-ranking official in the agency. She reportedly told him presciently that she feared the NSA would be “haunted” by the surveillance program. She left the agency in 2003 in part because she was uncomfortable with the program, The New Yorker reports.

Drake also confided in Diane Roark, a staff member on the House Intelligence Committee. She wrote a series of memos in February 2002 warning of the potential legal violations and gave them to Intelligence Committee staffers who worked for committee chairman Porter Goss and Democratic minority Whip Nancy Pelosi. But nothing happened.

Instead, Roark drew the wrath of Hayden who pleaded with her to stop agitating against the program….Roark tried to contact Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist but got no response. When she contacted a judge on the FISA court to express concern that the NSA and government were doing an end-run around the court, she was referred to the Justice Department, which had approved the surveillance program in the first place.

“This was such a Catch-22,” Roark told The New Yorker. “There was no one to go to.”http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2011/05/new-yorker-on-thomas-drake/

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6-12-13  by James Bamford, author of The Puzzle Palace (NSA):

I also wrote about Adrienne J. Kinne, an NSA intercept operator who attempted to blow the whistle on the NSA’s illegal eavesdropping on Americans following the 9/11 attacks. “Basically all rules were thrown out the window,” she said, “and they would use any excuse to justify a waiver to spy on Americans.” Even journalists calling home from overseas were included. “A lot of time you could tell they were calling their families,” she says, “incredibly intimate, personal conversations.” She only told her story to me after attempting, and failing, to end the illegal activity with appeals all the way up the chain of command to Major General Keith Alexander, head of the Army’s Intelligence and Security Command at the time. 

Without documents to prove their claims, the agency simply dismissed them as falsehoods and much of the mainstream press simply accepted that. “We don’t hold data on U.S. citizens,” Alexander said in a talk at the American Enterprise Institute last summer, by which time he had been serving as the head of the NSA for six years. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper made similar claims. At a hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee last March, he was asked, “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?” To which Clapper responded, “No, sir.” The documents released by Snowden, pointing to the nationwide collection of telephone data records and not denied by government officials, prove the responses untrue….

The Snowden case demonstrates the potential risks involved when the nation turns its spying and eavesdropping over to companies with lax security and inadequate personnel policies. The risks increase exponentially when those same people must make critical decisions involving choices that may lead to war, cyber or otherwise.

At a time when the NSA has lost its way and is increasingly infringing on the privacy of ordinary Americans, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that NSA employees —  whether working for the agency or for one of its contractors — would feel the obligation to alert the public to the secret acts being carried out in its name.http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2013/06/nsa-prism-verizon-surveillance/

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AMY GOODMAN: Bill Binney, Bloomberg Businessweek recently disclosed how a secretive unit inside the National Security Agency called Tailored Access Operations conducts massive cyber-espionage on overseas computer networks, the Pentagon hackers harvesting nearly 2.1 million gigabytes every hour, the equivalent of, oh, like hundreds of millions of pages of text. Do you know about this?

WILLIAM BINNEY: Well, I think they would refer to that as active attack on your computer, and it’s like hackers. You know, it’s this—that’s how you can—what they’re doing is going across the network and going through your weaknesses or holes in your operating system and then getting into your computer and then looking at whatever data you have in there, selecting it out, and using your unused CPU to send it back to themselves. So, that’s—that’s pretty much what they’re doing. That’s, of course, what the Chinese are doing to us, so that’s—and I’m sure other countries are doing it—the Israelis, the Russians, all of them, you know? So that’s standard hacking into the system that we hear about

http://www.democracynow.org/blog/2013/6/10/inside_the_nsas_domestic_surveillance_apparatus_whistleblower_william_binney_speaks_out

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