What Your TV Is Telling You to Do

NBC Universal’s Shows Are Sending Viewers Signals to Recycle, Exercise and Eat Right. Why?


In just one week on NBC, the detectives on “Law and Order” investigated a cash-for-clunkers scam, a nurse on “Mercy” organized a group bike ride, Al Gore made a guest appearance on “30 Rock,” and “The Office” turned Dwight Schrute into a cape-wearing superhero obsessed with recycling.
Forget product placement, NBC Universal is trying “behavior placement” with some of its shows. Characters from programs such as “30 Rock” and “The Office” are acting out eco-friendly behaviors that advertisers hope will sway viewers. WSJ’s Amy Chozick reports.

Coincidence? Hardly. NBC Universal planted these eco-friendly elements into scripted television shows to influence viewers and help sell ads.

The tactic—General Electric Co.’s NBC Universal calls it “behavior placement”—is designed to sway viewers to adopt actions they see modeled in their favorite shows. And it helps sell ads to marketers who want to associate their brands with a feel-good, socially aware show.

Unlike with product placement, which can seem jarring to savvy viewers, the goal is that viewers won’t really notice that Tina Fey is tossing a plastic bottle into the recycle bin, or that a minor character on “Law and Order: SVU” has switched to energy-saving light bulbs. “People don’t want to be hit over the head with it,” says NBC Universal Chief Executive Jeff Zucker. “Putting it in programing is what makes it resonate with viewers.”

TV has always had the ability to get millions of people to mimic a beloved character. Ever since Carrie Bradshaw on “Sex and the City” stopped in at the Magnolia Bakery, fans of the show wait in long lines for the once-quiet shop’s $2.75 cupcakes. When Jennifer Aniston as Rachel on “Friends” cut her hair, salons across the country reported requests for the shaggy, highlighted, layered look known as “the Rachel.”

This is the power of persuasion that NBCU hopes to tap. “Subtle messaging woven into shows mainstreams it, and mainstreaming is an effective way to get a message across,” says Lauren Zalaznick, president of NBCU Women & Lifestyle Entertainment Networks, which oversees the effort.

Since fall 2007, network executives have been asking producers of almost every prime-time and daytime show to incorporate a green storyline at least once a year. The effort now takes place for a week in April and November. Starting April 19 this year, 40 NBC Universal outlets will feature some 100 hours of green-themed programming, including an episode of the Bravo reality series “Millionaire Matchmaker” in which a 39-year-old tycoon with an eco-friendly clothing line goes into a rage after his blind date orders red meat.

NBC’s Behavior Placement

30 Rock

[GreenTv_foto1] NBC

The Message: Small changes can reduce your carbon footprint.

What Viewers Saw: Kenneth, the page, is put in charge of reducing the carbon footprint of fictional late-night show “TGS” by 5%. Liz Lemon, Tina Fey’s character, reluctantly gives up her office mini-fridge.

The Office
[GreenTv_foto2] NBC

The Message: Get rid of plastic water bottles in the workplace.

What Viewers Saw: Employees complain about metallic-tasting reusable water bottles. “We weren’t on theme, we were just on comedy,” says Paul Lieberstein, an executive producer.

Top Chef
[GreenTv_foto3] NBC

The Message: Organic, locally grown foods are better for the environment.

What Viewers Saw: Competing chefs prepare a meal for the farm workers at Blue Hill farm using organic, local fruits, vegetables and other ingredients.

In June, NBCU plans a week in which programming will emphasize healthy eating and exercise: The idea is that viewers will watch the shows and then spring into action. “It’s about incorporating a marketer’s message into a thematic environment,” says Mike Pilot, president of sales and marketing at NBC Universal.

While the network says it tries to incorporate green programming throughout the year, the special emphasis twice a year creates an “event” that provides opportunities to advertisers, an NBC spokeswoman says. For instance, a Wal-Mart ad focusing on locally grown produce ran this past November after an episode of the medical drama “Trauma” in which emergency medic Rabbit rescues a window washer dangling precariously from a building; medics are alerted to the situation by a man sitting in his hybrid vehicle.

Behavior placement gives marketers extra incentive to advertise at a time when digital video recorders equip viewers with an unprecedented ability to skip commercials, says Jason Kanefsky, a media buyer at Havas’s MPG. “You’re not forcing your way into a program in any shape or form,” he says. “You’re just nodding your head at a program.” ABC, CBS and FOX have plenty of product placement but haven’t taken the step into behavior placement, network spokesmen say.

TV writers and producers are less enamored with behavior placement. Already on the hook to create holiday-themed episodes and accommodate marketers in other ways, some producers and writers grumble about additional demands. Requests for green-themed storylines come at the start of the year when programming executives sit down with producers and lay out which company-wide themes and holidays they will be working into shows.

Producers do have some leeway. “The Office,” for example, embraces Valentine’s Day, Halloween and Christmas but refuses to incorporate Easter since it isn’t part of office culture.

Angela Bromstad, president of primetime entertainment at NBC, says her only specific request is that writers incorporate something related to the environment into a storyline and not make it a throwaway line of dialogue. “We haven’t had any pushback,” she says.

Paul Lieberstein, an executive producer on “The Office” who also plays the character Toby Flenderson, says he was thinking about making Dwight a superhero called “Recyclops” before network executives ordered up an environmental storyline.

“In this case it fell right into the realm of what we do,” Mr. Lieberstein says. “We’d have to say no if it hurt the integrity of the show.”

“Heroes” creator Tim Kring says behavior placement is easier than incorporating a specific brand, which is what the science-fiction series about ordinary people with superhuman abilities, recently did for sponsor Sprint Nextel Corp. This past fall, members of a carnival loaded a pickup truck with recyclables as Masi Oka, in the role of Hiro Nakamura, talks about giving back to the Earth. “Someone has to pay for our big, expensive television shows,” Mr. Kring says.

Armed with its own data showing consumers are wiling to spend more if a brand seems eco-friendly, NBC in 2007 launched “Green Week,” the programming component of a larger “Green is Universal” corporate campaign. That effort brought in an estimated $20 million in advertising revenue from 20 sponsors, according to industry estimates. Many new clients, including the nutrition bar Soy Joy, came on board, NBC says. In April 2008, the network added another week of green-themed programming, when network logos go green and on-air promos tout NBC’s support for the environment. But there are no obvious cues to alert viewers to the green emphasis in programming.

To court advertisers targeting specific demographics, NBC researchers conduct regular focus groups. Viewers are broken into categories based on their favorite shows and their level of concern about the environment. “Alpha ecos” are mostly women who drive hybrids, eat organic and watch the Bravo channel. “Eco-logicals” are older viewers who have “traditional Midwestern values,” drink Diet Coke, drive domestic cars and love basic-cable channel USA. When PepsiCo Inc.’s Sun Chips brand launched a compostable chip bag, executives wanted to reach young, edgy consumers who watch “30 Rock.” Pepsi purchased a skit starring Kenneth, the show’s lovable page. It will run during a commercial break of an eco-friendly episode this fall. “This audience has a tendency to be a little more cynical about blatant product placement,” says Gannon Jones, vice president of marketing for PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay unit.


Encrypt the Web with the HTTPS Everywhere Firefox Extension


Technical Analysis by Peter EckersleyToday EFF and the Tor Project are launching a public beta of a new Firefox extension called HTTPS Everywhere.

click here to encrypt the web

This Firefox extension was inspired by the launch of Google’s encrypted search option. We wanted a way to ensure that every search our browsers sent was encrypted. At the same time, we were also able to encrypt most or all of the browser’s communications with some other sites:

  • Google Search
  • Wikipedia
  • Twitter and Identi.ca
  • Facebook
  • EFF and Tor
  • Ixquick, DuckDuckGo, Scroogle and other small search engines
  • and lots more!

Firefox users can install HTTPS Everywhere by following this link.

As always, even if you’re at an HTTPS page, remember that unless Firefox displays a colored address bar and an unbroken lock icon in the bottom-right corner, the page is not completely encrypted and you may still be vulnerable to various forms of eavesdropping or hacking (in many cases, HTTPS Everywhere can’t prevent this because sites incorporate insecure third-party content).


2010 Bilderberg meeting atendees list

2010 Bilderberg meeting atendees list

1. Bronner, Oscar – Publisher and Editor, Der Standard
2. Faymann, Werner – Federal Chancellor
3. Scholten, Rudolf – Member of the Board of Executive Directors, Oesterreichische Kontrollbank AG
4. Treichl, Andreas – Chairman and CEO, Erste Group Bank AG

1. Davignon, Etienne F. – Honorary Chairman, Bilderberg Meetings; Vice Chairman, Suez Tractebel
2. Coene, Luc – Vice Governor, National Bank of Belgium
3. Philippe, H.R.H. – Prince

1. Kenna, Frank – Former Ambassador to the US
2. Munroe-Blum, Heather – Principal and Vice Chancellor, McGill University
3. Prichard, J. Robert S. – President and CEO, Metrolinx
4. Reisman, Heather M.- Chair and CEO, Indigo Books & Music Inc
5. Samarasekera, Indira V. – President and Vice-Chancellor, University of Alberta

1. Eldrup, Anders – President, DONG Energy A/S
2. Thorning-Schmidt, Helle – Leader of the Social Democratic Party
3. Thune Andersen, Thomas – Partner and CEO, Maersk Oil

1. Ackermann, Josef – Chairman of the Management Board and the Group Executive Committee, Deutsche Bank AG
2. Enders, Thomas – CEO, Airbus SAS
3. Klaeden, Eckart von – Foreign Policy Spokesman, CDU/CSU
4. Koch, Roland – Koch, Roland
5. Löscher, Peter – CEO, Siemens AG
6. Nass, Matthias – Deputy Editor, Die Zeit

1. Katainen, Jyrki – Minister of Finance
2. Ollila, Jorma – Chairman, Royal Dutch Shell plc
3. Rajalahti, Hanna – Managing Editor, Talouselämä
4. Vanhanen, Matti – Prime Minister

1. Baverez, Nicolas – Partner, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP
2. Bompard, Alexandre – CEO, Europe 1
3. Castries, Henri de – Chairman of the Management Board and CEO, AXA
4. Lagarde, Christine – Minister for the Economy, Industry and Employment
5. Olivennes, Denis – CEO and Editor in Chief, Le Nouvel Observateur
6. Oudéa, Frédéric – CEO, Société Générale

Great Britain
1. Kerr, John – Member, House of Lords; Deputy Chairman, Royal Dutch Shell plc
2. Mandelson, Peter – Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform
3. Micklethwait, John – Editor-in-Chief, the Economist
4. Osborne, George – Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer
5. Taylor, J. Martin – Chairman, Syngenta International AG
6. Wolf, Martin H. – Associate Editor & Chief Economics Commentator, The Financial Times
7. Bredow, Vendeline von – Business Correspondent, The Economist (Rapporteur)
8. McBride, Edward – Business Editor, The Economist (Rapporteur)

1. Alogoskoufis, George – Member of Parliament
2. Arapoglou, Takis – Chairman and CEO, National Bank of Greece
3. Bakoyannis, Dora – Minister of Foreign Affairs
4. David, George A – Chairman, Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Co. (H.B.C.) S.A.
5. Kyriacopoulos, Ulysses – Chairman and Board member of subsidiary companies of the S&B Group
6. Papahelas, Alexis – Journalist, Kathimerini
7. Papalexopoulos, Dimitris – Managing Director, Titan Cement Co. S.A.
8. Papathanasiou, Yannis – Minister of Economy and Finance
9. Stournaras, Yannis – Research Director, Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE)
10. Tsoukalis, Loukas – President of the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELlAMEP)

1. Gleeson, Dermot – Chairman, AIB Group
2. Sutherland, Peter D. – Chairman, BP plc and Chairman, Goldman Sachs International

1. Bernabè, Franco – CEO Telecom Italia SpA
2. Draghi, Mario – Governor, Banca d’Italia
3. Elkann, John – Chairman, EXOR S.p.A.; Vice Chairman, Fiat S.p.A.
4. Monti, Mario – President, Universita Commerciale Luigi Bocconi
5. Padoa-Schioppa, Tommaso – Former Minister of Finance; President of Notre Europe
6. Prodi, Romano – Chairman, Foundation for Worldwide Cooperation
7. Siniscalco, Domenico – Vice Chairman, Morgan Stanley International

1. Halberstadt, Victor – Professor of Economics, Leiden University; Former Honorary Secretary General of Bilderberg Meetings
2. Hirsch Ballin, Ernst M.H. – Minister of Justice
3. Hommen, Jan H.M. – Chairman, ING N.V.
4. Veer, Jeroen van der – Chief Executive, Royal Dutch Shell plc
5. Wellink, Nout – President, De Nederlandsche Bank
6. Wijers, Hans – Chairman, AkzoNobel NV

1. Baksaas, Jon Fredrik – President and CEO, Telenor Group
2. Myklebust, Egil – Former Chairman of the Board of Directors SAS, Norsk Hydro ASA
3. Reiten, Eivind – President and CEO, Norsk Hydro ASA

1. Balsemão, Francisco Pinto – Chairman and CEO, IMPRESA, S.G.P.S.; Former Prime Minister
2. Leite, Manuela Ferreira – Leader, PSD
3. Pinho, Manuel – Minister of Economy and Innovation

1. Entrecanales, José Manuel – Chairman, Acciona
2. León Gross, Bernardino – General Director of the Presidency of the Spanish Government
3. Moratinos Cuyaubé, Miguel A. – Minister of Foreign Affairs
4. Nin Génova, Juan Maria – President and CEO, La Caixa
5. Solbes, Pedro – Vice-President of Spanish Government; Minister of Economy and Finance
6. Sophia, H.M. the Queen of Spain

1. Bildt, Carl – Minister of Foreign Affairs
2. Björklund, Jan – Minister for Education; Leader of the Lìberal Party
3. Wallenberg, Jacob – Chairman, Investor AB
4. Wallenberg, Marcus – Chairman, SEB

1. Blocher, Christoph – Former Swiss Counselor; Former Chairman and CEO, EMS Group
2. Ringier, Michael – Chairman, Ringier AG
3. Vasella, Daniel L. – Chairman and CEO, Novartis AG
1. Babacan, Ali – Minister of State and Deputy Prime Minister
2. Koç, Mustafa V. – Chairman, Koç Holding A.S.
3. Kohen, Sami – Senior Foreign Affairs Columnist, Milliyet
4. Sabanci Dinçer, Suzan – Chairman, Akbank
5. Ugur, Agah – CEO, Borusan Holding

1. Alexander, Keith B. – Director, National Security Agency
2. Altman, Roger C. – Chairman and CEO, Evermore Partners, Inc.
3. Eberstadt, Nicholas N. – Economy, American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
4. Boot, Max – Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Senior Fellow for National Security Studies, Council on Foreign Relations
5. Collins, Timothy C. – Senior Managing Director and CEO, Ripplewood Holdings, LLC
6. Ferguson, Niall – Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History, Harvard University
7. Graham, Donald E. – Chairman and CEO, The Washington Post Company
8. Holbrooke, Richard C. – US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan
9. Johnson, James A. – Vice Chairman, Perseus, LLC
10. Jordan, Jr., Vernon E. – Senior Managing Director, Lazard Frères & Co. LLC
11. Keane, John M. – Senior Partner, SCP Partners; General, US Army, Retired
12. Kent, Muhtar – President and CEO, The Coca-Cola Company
13. Kleinfeld, Klaus – President and CEO, Alcoa Inc
14. Mundie, Craig J. – Chief Research and Strategy Officer, Microsoft Corporation
15. Munroe-Blum, Heather – Principal and Vice Chancellor, McGill University
16. Perle, Richard N. – Resident Fellow, American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
17. Rockefeller, David – Former Chairman, Chase Manhattan Bank
18. Rubin, Barnett R. – Director of Studies and Senior Fellow, Center for International Cooperation, New York University
19. Sheeran, Josette – Executive Director, UN World Food Programme
20. Steinberg, James B. – Steinberg, James B.
21. Thiel, Peter A. – President, Clarium Capital Management, LLC
22. Wolfensohn, James D. – Chairman, Wolfensohn & Company, LLC
23. Wolfowitz, Paul – Visiting Scholar, American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research 23.


1. Hoop Scheffer, Jaap G. de – Secretary General, NATO
2. Kroes, Neelie – Commissioner, European Commission
3. Lamy, Pascal – Director General, World Trade Organization
4. Maystadt, Philippe – President, European Investment Bank
5. Pisani-Ferry, Jean – Director, Bruegel
6. Stigson, Bjorn – President, World Business Council for Sustainable Development
7. Tanaka, Nobuo – Executive Director, IEA
8. Trichet, Jean-Claude – President, European Central Bank
9. Zoellick, Robert B. – President, The World Bank Group

Secretive Bilderberg Club Ready for Protests

From The Times, June 3, 2010

Splash! Could that be the sound of Lord Mandelson hitting one of the Dolce hotel’s four pools? Or Robert Zoellick of the World Bank? Paul Volcker of the US Economic Recovery Advisory Board? Or merely the euro taking another dive?

That is the thing about the Bilderberg group’s top secret meetings: you never know quite what is going on behind the police checkpoints.

Across the world, secretaries to the rich and the powerful have blocked out the next three days in their bosses’ calendars for their annual gathering, this time at the Dolce in Sitges, one of Spain’s most exclusive resorts.


On Thursday, 120 people will gather in Torquay. Henry Kissinger will be there, so will Helmut Schmidt, Baron Rothschild and Mrs Thatcher

Normally, every minute of their working lives is accounted for but, each year, a couple of hundred of the world’s financial elite and the more business-friendly members of the political class disappear from view; supposedly to save the planet from the dangers of parochialism, the nationalist genie.

It is all terribly confidential — breathe a word about it and you’re out of the club — but the Bilderberg watcher Daniel Estulin claims to have a copy of the agenda. The big question this time around is whether the euro will survive. “They are afraid that the countries in trouble will leave and the euro will fall apart,” said Mr Estulin. “The biggest nightmare is if EU members return to nationally orientated policies.”

That would certainly explain why the keynote address is being given by José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, the Spanish Prime Minister. The Piigs — Portugal, the Republic of Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain — are of concern to the Bilderbergers. After all, the club was set up in 1954 by a Polish exile, Joseph Retinger, to create a European bulwark against the spread of communism. It provided the germ of the European idea; Franco-German reconciliation, the entry of West Germany into Nato, the Maastricht treaty — all were cooked up in annual fireside chats.

Now, according to Mr Estulin’s information, the Bilderbergers are nervous that the erosion of the euro could nudge the world back into recession while public services cuts could trigger unrest and radicalise the political climate.

Plenty to talk about at the Dolce, then. The Bilderberg protesters, sure that they can smell a good oldfashioned capitalist conspiracy, will be holding fringe meetings in the town. The hunt will be on to find a chambermaid ready to ransack hotel litter bins for evidence that evil work is afoot. It has been easier to get nuggets of information out of Bilderberg since hotel staff started to read Dan Brown and talk about the illuminati.

Could it be, though, that the Bilderbergers are simply having fun, away from their spouses, on their annual jamboree? The secret of Bilderberg could be that there is no secret. Certainly, the hotel offers plenty of distractions for stressed CEOs: qi-gong courses, excellent fish, fine wines and bicycle tours.

Henry Kissinger, 87, the former US Secretary of State, and David Rockefeller, 95, the former chairman of the Chase Manhattan Bank, are the elder statesmen of Bilderberg — but the leaked invitation list reveals that the gathering is made up primarily of elderly white gents.

Remember Richard Perle, 68, George Bush’s erstwhile Prince of Darkness? He could perhaps form a Prince of Darkness sub-group with Lord Mandelson. Paul Wolfowitz, 66, formerly of the World Bank? Mario Monti, 67, EU commissioner for the single market between 1995 and 1999?

Only the possible attendance of George Osborne, 39, the British Chancellor, will reassure hotel staff that they are not dealing with a Saga Holidays tour. Other members of this clandestine coven include Queen Sofia of Spain and Queen Beatrix of Holland. No doubt their views will be sought on the Swedish royal wedding later this month. Is it right, for example, that a young princess should marry her personal trainer? Fortunately, the Dolce has a team of personal trainers on hand ready to chip into the debate.

Last year Bilderberg held its meeting at the Nafsika Astir Palace hotel in Greece and apparently failed to spot how close their host country was to melting down. Watch out, Spain!

The weather forecast is for three days of sunshine — time for the Bilderbergers to slink out of the shadows.

Fiat Money And Schemes Collapsing – Bob Chapman, May 29 2010

Bob Chapman

Goldman Sachs will get a hand slap, the Greek Tragedy continues, signs of growth not real, more market manipulation to report on, never incremental news, a broken system of risk-free trade and return.

The DOE reported crude oil inventories up 646,000 barrels, gasoline fell 3.19 m/b and distillates rose 1.52 m/b.

The commercial paper market fell again by $2.6 billion to $1.073 trillion.

Goldman Sachs wants to settle with the SEC exactly as we predicted. They would neither admit nor deny and be fined $1 to $ 2 billion, which is chump change to them.

Lehman is seeking return of $8.6 billion that JPMorgan Chase seized before Lehman filed for bankruptcy. The claim is Morgan had unparalleled inside knowledge. There is no honor among thieves.

Part of the deflationary mode is borrowers are paying down debt and saving at a 3.4% rate. It could be the elitists, as we speculated months ago, want to take down the entire world financial system in the next 1-1/2 to 2 years. Hi Ho stimulus.

The fiat Ponzi scheme is collapsing.

During the past few months the financial world and nations have been consumed with the problems of sovereign debt and so they should be. Debt is a worldwide problem, but that problem has been exacerbated by the ability of banks, brokerage houses and insurance companies to manufacture derivatives.

The Greek tragedy continues as the IMF and others get ready to fund not only Greece, but all the PIIGS as well. That includes Canada, the UK, which has refused to contribute, because they are broke, and the US whose end will be about $60 billion. Greece is rolling their old debt in order to bail out the banks. It won’t be long before Spain, Portugal, Ireland and Italy will be doing the same thing. The other euro zone members are saying why should we bail out these countries, which in turn are bailing out banks?

These euro zone countries are saying all we did was what everyone else was doing. Governmental debt has hit unprecedented levels worldwide. It is now called a sovereign debt crisis. Any recovery in any of these countries will remain anemic as long as this situation exists. More debt is being created via stimulus in some countries, and in others austerity has begun. In the US real growth is only 1.3%, and that is fading fast having fallen from 6.5% in the fourth quarter.

The top participant was penalized in 1985 at the Plaza Accord and in 1987 at the Louvre Account and as a result entered
depression in 1992. That is Japan. Their debt is now 200% of GDP. Structural impairment still sticks out like a sore thumb. They are trapped in the same quandary, as Europe is, growth via debt. It is interesting to note that if global military spending of $1.5 trillion ended there would be o trouble funding debt. The US spends more than $600 billion a year, or over 40% of the world’s total, so they can bludgeon the world’s inhabitants into doing what the US wants them to do, it is called tyranny.

The foregoing is certainly not growth. Growth has to come from the development of domestic markets, not as it has been or is today via foreign trade and the endless creation of debt. The experiment of free trade, globalization, offshoring and outsourcing hasn’t worked. Look at what it has done to the US economy. It has gutted it. It has been based on the exploitation of what is essentially slave labor and the theory of comparative advantage. This method of impoverishing the US economy has been funded by the workers themselves via their savings and those of their pension plans. Instead of transnational conglomerates working with foreign governments to keep wages low they should be working to increase them. That never occurred to the Illuminists who run these corporations, nor governments such as China. As a result we have had the opposite effect. Slightly higher wages in China and much lower wages in the US. The ultimate result is going to be tariffs on goods and services to level the playing field.

The euro for Greece and others works both ways. The weaker members acquire a stronger currency and as a result a stronger economy based in part on the strength of its fellow members. Thus, Greece surrendered its sovereignty for the ability to create domestic debt. Unfortunately they cannot print euros, so they cannot devalue. Instead they default unless subsidized by other members.

The dollar had been probing lows on the USDX at 74 just several months ago. In order to solve the dollar weakness and sap euro strength a crisis was created. From out of nowhere Greece was exposed for its debt. Before this took place starting in October major NYC banks were accumulating dollars, because they knew what was going to happen, because they planned it that way. Do not forget Goldman Sachs knew all of Greece’s secrets – they created them.

The events in Greece have left many European banks badly exposed and riding to the rescue has been the Fed with a new swap facility. Last time, over 15 months, the Fed says they used $583 billion. The Fed is again printing money from out of thin air to be used by foreign nations to rescue European banks. They, of course, would have us believe it was to save the European financial structure, when the move was to save private banks that should have never made loans to Greece and other PIIGS, nor purchased their bonds. As professionals they knew better. Effectively the American taxpayer is funding these banks and they pay the price for this via inflation and greater debt. The Fed is further debasing the dollar.

As a result of what the public would call hocus-pocus, the price of gold has been rising. There are other factors making gold rise, but this is the latest. Finally professionals are paying attention to these problems, but more importantly, that the “President’s Working Group on Financial Markets” is manipulating all markets, but particularly the gold and silver markets. It won’t be long, within two weeks that a class action lawsuit, one of many by silver owners, will be filed against JPM Morgan Chase for manipulating the silver market. That should get Wall Street’s and Washington’s attention. This kind of suit is very difficult to defend against. Like Barrick Gold not many years ago, they admitted taking direction from the US government for hedging in the gold market, so will Morgan defer to the US government to explain their actions. Irrespective, Morgan will lose and the manipulation of the silver market and probably the gold market will end.

It should also be noted that the CFTC was complicit in this criminal activity. They had all the evidence and had to be forced to investigate. The Justice Department was forced to investigate as well.

This swap being done by the fed on the short-term could be somewhat injurious to gold, because the recipients are very liable to use some of those funds to short gold and silver..

As we explained earlier there is a fight going on between the dollar and gold for currency supremacy. The recent dollar rally was part of the plan to keep the dollar as the preferred asset or currency. It didn’t work all that well because gold rose more than the dollar. The dollar swap will be used to keep European banks from going under and that is inflationary. The Fed is obviously buying their subprime assets. The bank proceeds from the garbage sold to the Fed will in all likelihood be used to purchase US Treasuries. In a late note now that Fitch has lowered Spain’s credit rating from AAA to AA+, they’ll be even more pressure on European banks and government for Fed assistance. Now not only are the banks broke, but so are the governments. That said how could Treasuries be a store of value? They cannot thus; sooner or later professionals will be storming the gold parapets. If you think markets are currently volatile, just wait you haven’t seen anything yet..

There was a spike in purchase applications in April, followed by a decline to a 13 year low last week. As Fratantoni noted last week: “The data continue to suggest that the tax credit pulled sales into April at the expense of the remainder of the spring buying season.”.

Top national GOP recruit Vaughn Ward on Tuesday lost his primary in Idaho after a series of missteps by his campaign, throwing the Republican Party’s chances in doubt against top-targeted Rep. Walt Minnick (D-Idaho)..

Ward was trailing state Rep. Raul Labrador (R) 48 to 39 percent, with 90 percent of precincts reporting. The Associated Press called the race for Labrador early Wednesday..

Ward becomes the latest establishment favorite to go down in defeat, although his loss will more likely be chalked up to his campaign’s myriad gaffes..

He was one of the first 10 candidates named to the final stage of the National Republican Congressional Committee’s (NRCC) Young Guns program for its top 2010 hopefuls this cycle. Over the past month, however, his campaign has fallen victim to multiple charges of plagiarism, revelations that he didn’t vote in the 2008 presidential election and a slip-up in which he said (in front of his Puerto Rican-born opponent) that Puerto Rico is a country (hint: it’s not)..

That opponent, Labrador, moves on to the general election and leaves national Republicans to evaluate where the race fits in their list of priorities this November. Labrador, an immigration attorney, is something of a blank slate to Washington..

He joined the NRCC’s Young Guns program but has yet to reach the goals required to be named to the first stage of the program..

Given the right candidate, the freshman Minnick’s district should be at the top of the GOP’s target list. It went for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) with 62 percent of the vote in 2008, but former Rep. Bill Sali (R-Idaho) severely underperformed the top of the GOP ticket, losing narrowly to Minnick..

Sali backed Labrador, while Ward was backed by former Alaska governor Sarah Palin (R)..

Minnick has proven a savvy congressman, voting conservative on almost all major pieces of legislation and building a sizeable war chest for 2010. Republicans can’t rely on merely a good environment to take him out..

In other races in Idaho on Tuesday, Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter (R) and Sen. Mike Crapo (R) both overcame nominal primary opposition, as did Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), who faced a reasonably well-funded opponent and was a Troubled Asset Relief Program (a.k.a. bailout) supporter. All will be heavy favorites in the general election..

The federal prosecutors investigating Goldman Sachs are focusing on Timberwolf, the infamous “shitty deal” repeatedly cited in a tense Senate hearing last month, according to people who have been contacted by the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s office..

The probe raises the possibility of criminal charges against the storied Wall Street firm, which was charged in April by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission with civil fraud for allegedly misleading investors about another subprime mortgage-related security called Abacus..

Investigators from the U.S. Attorney’s office have reached out to individuals involved in the deal, including David Mapley, the former independent director of an Australian hedge fund who claims that the firm collapsed shortly after Goldman sold it $100 million of securities in Timberwolf, a $1 billion collateralized debt obligation..

In an interview with the Huffington Post from his office in Geneva, Mapley said that he has been contacted by the U.S. Attorney’s office and that he expects to be interviewed by them soon. Mapley brought his complaints about Goldman’s role in the deal to the SEC in December 2007, met with SEC lawyers several times in 2008 and he says that he continues to talk to them..

“Overall, the whole thing was a fraudulent concoction,” says Mapley, who says that it was one of the most egregious cases he had seen in his decades working in finance. “We examined the whole trade, what led up to the trade, the way it was marketed and everything about it was inaccurate. You think you’re buying one thing and what you see is totally different.”.

Among the most serious allegations, Mapley claims that Goldman sold Timberwolf securities to the fund at marked-up prices — while Goldman’s trading desk was busy shorting such CDOs tied to toxic subprime mortgage securities..

Mapley says that the hedge fund, Basis Yield Alpha Fund, where he was an outside director, ultimately went into liquidation “with Timberwolf tipping the balance.”.

To help us understand exactly what’s going on, and why debt loads that have been growing for years have suddenly become a market-melting issue, I turned this week to Satyajit Das, an independent credit analyst in Australia. Though his vantage point is half a world away, Das is frequently sought out as a consultant by central bankers, government officials and fund managers for his unconflicted insights and his unusually clear explanation of the dense pathways of debt and its derivatives. I started by asking why the sovereign bond crisis reared up to spook investors last week despite the lack of any new news..

“It’s never incremental news — it’s how old news sinks into the people with brains the size of caraway seeds who populate the financial markets,” he said from his office in Sydney. “They always depend on selective information and process it in uneven ways. Even smart people tend to believe what they want to believe, and they right now they’re using the idea that central banks and governments will miraculously prevail as a crutch. This is magical thinking. I have said from the beginning that governments won’t have enough money to bail everyone out.”.

Das believes the central problem is that governments have already spent more than $1 trillion in taxpayer-generated and borrowed funds but are not getting as much bang for their buck as expected. If you strip out government spending and low interest rates, he notes, there’s not a whole lot of activity going on. The government has tried to prime the pump, but the pump is still just dribbling..

He suggests we not be fooled by recent earnings reports or government stats, pointing to U.S. bank earnings as especially inaccurate. JP Morgan has a balance sheet of $1 trillion and can borrow at essentially zero, he notes. So if they just go out and buy 10-year bonds at 3% they should be able to earn $30 billion a year. Yet the bank announced a profit of $3.3 billion last quarter..

“What does that tell you? It says they are losing money on everything else,” Das says. “Strip out the gifts, and it’s big net loss.” And at big industrial concerns like General Electric, he argues, revenue growth is anemic — so earnings growth is solely stemming from cost-cutting and layoffs..

In February, Defense Secretary Robert Gates authorized $150 million in security assistance for Yemen for fiscal 2010, up from $67 million last year..

Officials told Reuters the money would be used in part to bolster Yemen’s special operations forces to lead an offensive targeting al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which claimed responsibility for a failed plot to blow up a U.S. passenger plane on Christmas Day..

The group has emerged as one of al Qaeda’s most active affiliates, and the Obama administration recently took the extraordinary step of authorizing the CIA to kill a leading figure linked to the group — American-born Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki..

The U.S. government’s Aaa bond rating will come under pressure in the future unless additional measures are taken to reduce projected record budget deficits, according to Moody’s Investors Service Inc..

The U.S. retains its top rating for now because of a “high degree of economic and institutional strength,” the New York- based ratings company said in a statement today that was little changed from a credit opinion released in February. The outlook is stable, the statement said..

The government’s finances have been “substantially worsened by the credit crisis, recession, and government spending to address these shocks,” Moody’s analysts lead by Steven A. Hess wrote. “The ratios of general government debt to GDP and to revenue are deteriorating sharply, and after the crisis they are likely to be higher than the ratios of other Aaa-rated countries.”.

Debt to revenue has more than doubled over the past three years and is now over 400 percent, which could lead to “potential stress” on finances, the report said..

“This whole financial crisis in Europe has actually benefited the U.S. government in its access to finance,” Hess said in a
telephone interview. “The U.S. Treasury market has become once again, as it was during the recent financial crisis globally, the safe haven, and therefore lots of money flows into the U.S. Treasury market and that is a very positive.”.

Tuesday morning rumors and a FT story about Germany extending its short-selling ban prevented US stocks from a larger opening decline and generated a rally after the opening onslaught..

One rumor said the ECB would cut its 1.00% benchmark rate by 50bps generated a rally in US stocks after the opening carnage..

Any ECB rate cut would pressure the euro, which in turn would induce traders to sell European sovereign debt, which would exacerbate Europe’s debt-death spiral..

On Tuesday morning, the NYSE invoked Rule 48, which allows the NYSE to suspend the requirement to disseminate price indications at the open. Looks like all that technology isn’t very useful – or does the opaqueness aid and abet the connected few in their desire to operate with ‘an edge’?.

Tuesday’s rally got a second-stage boost during midday when Cong. Barney Frank stated that forcing banks to spin off their derivatives operations “goes too far” in regard to financial reform..

There is a new dynamic that most people cannot cogitate: The current crisis is not the usual crisis of a private sector firm or problem appearing that needs a public sector bailout..

Now, the public sector needs a bailout and there is no private sector entity large enough to bailout the public sector. So government officials and central banks are trying to euchre the markets and people into accepting the notion that the imploding public sector can bailout itself out by increasing its indebtedness..

In the Nineteenth Century and early Twentieth Century the private sector (i.e. JP Morgan or Europeans) bailed out governments.

Then the Twentieth Century movement of gigantic government that increased its size and control over the private sector produced governments and central banks that would bail out private sector firms. But now, governments and central banks are too large for a private sector bailout..

This of course, destroys the multi-decade concepts of risk-free rate of return, Keynesian economics, freely-traded markets, buying every market dip, central bank omnipotence and child-like belief in a supra entity that stands ready at all times to bailout everyone in order to prevent another depression..

Paychecks from private business shrank to their smallest share of personal income in U.S. history during the first quarter of this year. At the same time, government-provided benefits — from Social Security, unemployment insurance, food stamps and other programs — rose to a record high during the first three months of 2010. The result is a major shift in the source of personal income from private wages to government programs..

The trend is not sustainable, says University of Michigan economist Donald Grimes [How is this different that Greece or most of Europe?].

A record-low 41.9% of the nation’s personal income came from private wages and salaries in the first quarter, down from 44.6% when the recession began in December 2007..


US Plays Down European Crisis but China Worried The United States suggested Europe’s debt crisis would have minimal impact on global growth, but China took a more pessimistic view, warning it would impact demand for its exports and other regions would suffer too..

Loans guaranteed by the Federal Housing Administration, the U.S.-owned mortgage insurer, may be involved in more home-purchase transactions than borrowing financed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac..

FHA lending last quarter may have topped the combined volume of government-supported Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in a home-lending market that’s still a “government-financed market,” David Stevens, the agency’s head, said today at a conference in New York, citing research by consultant Potomac Partners..

This is a market purely on life support, sustained by the federal government,” he said at the Mortgage Bankers Association conference. “Having FHA do this much volume is a sign of a very sick system.”.

The Conference Board’s confidence index rose to 63.3 for May, the highest reading in two years. 58.5 was consensus. If you have been playing along at home over the past year, you already are assuming that future expectations once again soared. You are correct..

The Conference Board’s ‘present conditions’ increased to 30.2; but ‘expectations for the next six months’ surged to 85.3, the highest level since August 2007. The stock market peaked in October 2007…

In October of last year http://www.zerohedge.com/article/rare-glimpse-feds-discount-window-courtesy-brewing-lehman-barclays-scandal [1]we wrote an extended piece discussing the conflict between the bankrupt Lehman Brothers estate (i.e., its unsecured creditors) and Barclays, in which JPMorgan played a prominent part, as it was the critical tri-party repo clearing bank on all of Lehman’s collateral that would subsequently go to Barclays. As we summarized, extortion attempts back then by Barclays only had the adverse effect of making Jamie Dimon very, very angry: “Barclays’ attempt to nickel and dime JPM (and the US taxpayers) so infuriated Jamie Dimon that he penned an angry letter to John Varley http://chapter11.epiqsystems.com/viewdocument.asp… [2], Barclays Group CEO (which CC:ed Barclays’ president Bob Diamond), threatening with litigation in case Barclays is intent on sticking JPM with Lehman collateral that it thought was without value and not worth assuming in a time when every single day stock prices were crashing further lower.” As we expected in October, the resolution would most likely involve litigation, as by dint of its collateral clearing position, JPM had unprecedented knowledge about Lehman’s affairs: a special status that would likely be abused in a court of law. Sure enough, here is the lawsuit: the estate of Lehman Brothers, desperate to pick another several bps in recovery on their Lehman General Unsecured Claims, has sued JPMorgan, claiming Jamie Dimon’s bank pushed Lehman into bankruptcy by forcing it to turn over $8.6 billion in collateral.

As Lehman was completely insolvent long before JPM demanded any incremental collateral comfort, claiming that JPM was the catalyst for Lehman’s bankruptcy is absolutely the same as saying that Goldman forced AIG’s bankruptcy by increasing its collateral demands. While both arguments are ludicrous, should the JPM case proceed to court, it is tantamount that AIG immediately seek legal action against Goldman Sachs on identical grounds.

Source: Bob Chapman at the Internationalforecaster.com

Wall Street Operative Geithner Rebuffed in Berlin on Mission to Make World Safe for Derivatives

Webster G. Tarpley
May 28, 2010

On the most important stop of last week’s desperate mission to make the world safe for derivatives, US Treasury Secretary Geithner has been dealt a decisive rebuff. Geithner’s obvious attempt to sabotage the recent prohibition enacted by the German government against naked credit default swaps (among the most toxic of derivatives) was rejected in Berlin on Thursday by German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble.

At their joint press conference, Geithner and Schäuble could hardly hide the atmosphere of tension and hostility, even though both were determined to mask the clash for domestic political reasons. A Handelsblatt blog pointed to the language of mutual dislike, and this newspaper headlined that the transatlantic conflict was escalating. The Washington Post published a photograph on Friday, May 28, 2010 showing the German minister scowling at the feckless featherweight Geithner. Geithner assured the journalists that there was a “broad agreement on regulatory reform,” but in reality there was no such common ground.

Schäuble has now emerged as the strongman in the German cabinet, due precisely to his willingness to take the point in the fight against derivatives. “Ban Bolsters Schäuble’s Sway,” headlined the Wall Street Journal. German officials are reported to be increasingly dismissive of the carping criticism coming from other countries which have failed to act against the world derivatives plague. The Germans know exactly what they are doing, Schäuble stressed: “We have done our national homework,” he added.

It is abundantly clear that Germany is determined to act unilaterally against speculation, especially in the form of derivatives. This means maintaining the current ban on naked credit default swaps, and supplementing this with a ban on naked short sales of German stocks, euro-denominated government bonds, and of the euro itself.

Geithner, as always, is operating behind a mask of duplicity. During the press conference, he did not directly address the German ban on naked credit default swaps which has caused such consternation in the City of London, Wall Street, the US Treasury, and the Federal Reserve, where derivatives are regarded as sacrosanct. Geithner also failed to address the question of a Tobin tax or securities sales tax on speculative financial turnover, which the German government is attempting to push through the ponderous elephantine Brussels bureaucracy of the European Union. Geithner also did not talk about the regulations largely targeting the Anglo-American hedge fund wolfpack which are also being developed in the Byzantine corridors of the eurogarchy.

These are matters of extremely serious strategic conflict. As the Washington Post noted on May 28, “… differences have emerged on the host of issues between the United States and Europe… some European officials – including Schäuble – want to tax all financial transactions for a fund that might be dedicated to crisis resolution or that might go into each government’s general account.” Given the increasing pressure on national budgets, it is of course imperative that the revenue generated by a Tobin tax be kept in-country to prevent the savage dismantling of the social safety net which is increasingly demanded by the financiers and their agents and dupes. Under no circumstances should these funds be kept in a fund which will inevitably be used for further bailouts of bankrupt zombie banks. As the Washington Post further commented: “Europe wants to more strictly clamp down on what it views as speculation, while … US officials speak more frequently about the risk of stifling innovation if regulations become too rigid.” Modern societies need innovation in the area of scientific discoveries that can lead to new technologies, and do not require any more variations of the available brands of derivatives cyanide, arsenic, and strychnine. The world has had enough of toxic derivatives to last us until the end of the century and beyond.

Geithner’s true intentions can be read from his systematic sabotage and gutting of the financial reform bill recently passed by the U.S. Senate. The most important feature of this bill was the ban on derivatives speculation by commercial banks proposed by Senator Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas. This would have partially restored the blanket ban on most types of derivatives which was in force under the New Deal from 1936 through 1982 thank to the Commodities Exchange Act signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Geithner has attacked this provision, and is teaming up with Obama handler Rahm Emanuel to remove it during the upcoming House-Senate reconciliation process.

Geithner was also an active participant in the efforts to torpedo the McCain-Cantwell amendment, which would have restored the New Deal era Glass-Steagall law, which rigorously prevented commercial banks from engaging in stock jobbing and related forms of investment banking, including derivatives.

Geithner has also talked about stress tests for European banks. It should be recalled that the stress tests for US banks carried on last year under Geithner’s supervision were worse than useless, since they systematically excluded from consideration the main cause for bank insolvency in the current era – off-balance-sheet toxic derivatives. This blatant mockery should not be repeated in Europe.

As for the hedge fund hyenas, they are adamant about their intention to bring the crisis currently impacting the southern tier of the euro back home to the United States. In his New York Times article “Easy Money, Hard Truths,” David Einhorn, a leading hedge fund operator involved in the infamous February 8, 2010 Manhattan planning session for the current assault on Europe, is categorical in his forecast that the European crisis will happen here as well. To spare the American people endless and useless misery, it is imperative that we mobilize every legal and regulatory tool in the New Deal armory to put the hedge fund predators out of business while banning or taxing derivatives. The goal must be to prevent a needless national bankruptcy of this country and preserve the present constitutional system of representative government from the chaos and anarchy the speculators are eager to visit upon us.

High-tech speed cameras which use satellites to track motorists on secret trial in Britain

By Luke Salkeld,  23rd April 2010

SpeedSpike One of the new SpeedSpike speed cameras which has been installed on the A374 in Cornwall

Speed cameras which communicate with each other by satellite are being secretly tested on British roads.

The hi-tech devices can follow drivers’ progress for miles to calculate whether they have broken speed limits.

Combining number plate recognition technology with global positioning satellites, they can be set up in a network to monitor tens of thousands of cars over huge areas for the smallest breach.

Known as SpeedSpike, the system uses similar methods of recognition as the cameras which enforce the congestion charge in London, and allow two cameras to ‘talk’ to each other if a vehicle appears to have travelled too far in too short a space of time.

After a covert national trial which has not been publicised until now, just days after a report showed motorists have been fined almost £1billion in speeding tickets under Labour, authorities hope the new cameras will enable them to re-create the system used on motorway contraflows.

The Home Office is currently testing them at two sites – one in Southwark in London and another on the A374 between Antony and Torpoint in Cornwall.

Details of the secret trials emerged in a House of Commons report and immediately attracted criticism.

Conservative MP Geoffrey Cox, whose Devon constituency is close to the Cornish test site, said fundamental questions had to be addressed before such an ‘alarming’ level of surveillance was extended.

SpeedSpikeThe high-tech devices are an enhanced version of the spy cameras which enforce London’s congestion charge

He said: ‘You always have to ask if it is really necessary to watch over people, to spy on them and film them.

‘We will get to a point where it becomes routine and it should never be a matter of routine that the state spies on its citizens.’

‘We will get to a point where it becomes routine and it should never be a matter of routine that the state spies on its citizens’

SpeedSpike uses automatic number plate recognition technology, which in 2008 took photos of 64 million of motorists in Britain – ten times more than the previous year.

The new cameras have been developed by PIPS Technology Ltd, an American-owned business with a base in Hampshire.

In the company’s evidence to the House of Commons Transport Committee, it boasted of ‘number plate capture in all weather conditions, 24 hours a day’ as well as pointing out the system’s low cost and ease of installation.

The company believes the cameras can be used for ‘main road enforcement for congestion reduction and speed enforcement’, can help to ‘eliminate rat-runs’ and cut speeds outside schools.

It said: ‘We have an urban test site at Salter Road in Southwark and are working in conjunction with the Metropolitan Police.

‘We also have an inter urban test site located on the A374 from Torpoint to Antony at which we are working with the Devon and Cornwall Constabulary.’

The trial is being carried out in conjunction with the police and the Devon and Cornwall Safety Camera Partnership.

Superintendent Tim Swarbrick, chairman of the partnership and head of roads policing, said it was being tested ‘on a live road system to assess how effective and accurate it is’.

He added: ‘Average speed recorders have proved to be very successful in roadworks on the major trunk roads. They have reduced injury and deaths and we would like to replicate this positive effect on more rural roads.

‘To this end we are assisting the Home Office in piloting a new version of this equipment to gauge both its accuracy and operational effectiveness.

‘The equipment is not being used for enforcement purposes, as it is not Home Office approved at this stage.’

The Home Office said it was unable to comment on the trials because of ‘commercial confidentiality’.

Last week a report showed that motorists have been hit with speeding tickets worth almost £1billion under Labour.

But receipts have fallen since police were stopped from keeping part of the money raised from speed cameras.

It suggested that the explosion in the number of cameras was used as a ‘cash cow’ and that forces no longer have an incentive to install them.

Drivers were clobbered with 1.23million tickets in 2008, of which 1.03million were issued by speed cameras, the Home Office report revealed.

The tickets raised more than £73million for the Treasury that year, or £200,000 a day.

In total, 16million tickets have been issued since 1997, raising £913million.
Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/