Most Americans paying attention to global affairs have some conception of his opponent, nationalist firebrand Marine Le Pen, but Macron is likely to be very much a black box. I hope today’s post changes that.

empire destructionTND Videocast Spotlight:  Greg Hunter’s USAWatchdog.com

Former Wall Street analyst and journalist Michael Krieger contends the recent so-called “Brexit” chaos is signaling something much bigger than coming economic trouble. Krieger explains, “I think the biggest thing with Brexit, and I think it is far bigger than an economic downturn, is the disintegration and ultimately the overthrow of the entire status quo regime, the entire post WWII establishment. That’s way bigger than an economic decline. It’s way bigger than the economic decline in 2008 and 2009. When you think about it, since 1945, we’ve had all kinds of economic declines. We’ve had bear markets and bull markets, but the status quo, the establishment, the basic principles that have been guiding the world for, let’s say 80 years now, those are what are going to be overthrown, and that is a way bigger deal than an economic downturn, in my opinion.”

Click here to read the rest of Greg Hunter’s write-up and to access the active comment section.

After the Interview:

Michael Krieger is a prolific writer, and he posts his analysis and articles for free on LibertyBlitzkrieg.com.

# # # #

About Greg Hunter:

greg_hunter1Mr. Hunter is the producer and creator of Greg Hunter’s USAWatchdog.com. The site’s slogan is “analyzing the news to give you a clear picture of what’s really going on.” The site will keep an eye on the government, your financial interests and cut through the media spin. Greg Hunter’s USAWatchdog.com is neither Democrat nor Republican, Liberal or Conservative. Before creating and producing the site, Greg spent nearly 9 years as a network and investigative correspondent. He worked for ABC News and Good Morning America for nearly 6 years. Most recently, Greg worked for CNN for shows such as Paula Zahn Now, American Morning and various CNN business shows. Greg encurages feedback and welcomes comments. You may also support USAWatchdog.com by clicking here to donate.  Reprinted with permission.

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IMFThe IMF is seriously considering bringing things to a head next July by dangling Greece once more over the abyss, exactly as in July 2015. Except that this time the purpose is to force the hand not of Alexis Tsipras, whose fresh acquiescence the IMF considers in the bag, but of the German Chancellor.
 
Submitted by Michael Krieger, Liberty Blitzkrieg:
 

nyc_featureTND Article Spotlight:  Michael Krieger, Liberty Blitzkrieg:

William Ackman is a wildly successful hedge fund manager. He oversees $17 billion of mostly other people’s money. Forbes estimates his personal net worth at $1.7 billion. These facts alone would make him a prime candidate to buy the penthouse condominium at One57, the new luxury tower on West 57th Street.

And indeed, Mr. Ackman told The Times in a fascinating profile Sunday that he is the buyer of the 13,500-square-foot condo with an estimated price of $90 million. What is more shocking is what he plans to do with it…

Click here for full story.

 

When it comes to the Fed, Congress is mired in hypocrisy. The anti-regulation, de-regulation crowd on Capitol Hill shuts its mouth when it comes to the most powerful regulators of all – you and the Federal Reserve. Meanwhile, Congress goes along with the out-of-control, private government of the Fed—unaccountable to the national legislature. Moreover, your massive monetary injections scarcely led to any jobs on the ground, other than stock and bond processors.  – From the post: Ralph Nader Destroys the Federal Reserve in Open Letter – Calls it “Out of Control, Private Government”

TND Guest Contributor: Michael Kriegeruncle ben

Rand Paul’s signature “Audit the Fed” legislation failed to garner the 60 votes needed in the Senate to move the measure forward. Of course, this is merely the latest in a never-ending series of banker victories, and a truly devastating blow against liberty, free markets, transparency and any hope for government by the people and for the people. Ensuring that light is never shined on the Fed’s shady, corrupt and unaccountable bailout activities has always been a key goal of the American oligarchy, and they succeeded once again.

Kudos to Rand Paul for trying, and respect to Democrat Bernie Sanders for voting in favor. Elizabeth Warren voting against is inexplicable and indefensible.

More from MarketWatch:

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — A bill that would have allowed Congress to order reviews of Federal Reserve interest-rate policy decisions failed a procedural test in the Senate on Tuesday as supporters failed to come up with the 60 votes needed to cut off debate on the measures.

The measure to curb the powers of the Fed has been a central theme of the presidential campaign of Sen. Rand Paul, a Republican from Kentucky. The legislation would end a ban on the Government Accountability Office’s authority to audit the U.S. central bank’s monetary policy moves that has been in place since 1978. The Republican House has already approved the measure.

The bill was designed to “pull back the curtain and uncover the cloak of secrecy” at the Fed, Paul said on the Senate floor. He said there had not been a full accounting for the swelling of the Fed’s balance sheet — to $4.5 trillion from roughly $800 billion before the financial crisis.

Just 53 senators voted to halt debate on the bill Tuesday. Sixty or more votes for “cloture” would have paved the way for possible final passage of the bill.

The bulk of the opposition to the measure came from Democrats.

Because supporting an unelected, unaccountable bank cartel is so liberal.

Sen. Sherrod Brown, an Ohio Democrat, who is ranking member on the Senate Banking Committee, said Congress should “keep its hands out of monetary policy.”

Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen called the bill “a grave mistake” and warned the measure could lead to higher market interest rates.

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, an independent senator from Vermont, voted for the measure.

The first top-to-bottom audit of the Federal Reserve uncovered eye-popping new details about how the U.S. provided a whopping $16 trillion in secret loans to bail out American and foreign banks and businesses during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. An amendment by Sen. Bernie Sanders to the Wall Street reform law passed one year ago this week directed the Government Accountability Office to conduct the study. “As a result of this audit, we now know that the Federal Reserve provided more than $16 trillion in total financial assistance to some of the largest financial institutions and corporations in the United States and throughout the world,” said Sanders. “This is a clear case of socialism for the rich and rugged, you’re-on-your-own individualism for everyone else.”

Among the investigation’s key findings is that the Fed unilaterally provided trillions of dollars in financial assistance to foreign banks and corporations from South Korea to Scotland, according to the GAO report. “No agency of the United States government should be allowed to bailout a foreign bank or corporation without the direct approval of Congress and the president,” Sanders said.

The non-partisan, investigative arm of Congress also determined that the Fed lacks a comprehensive system to deal with conflicts of interest, despite the serious potential for abuse.  In fact, according to the report, the Fed provided conflict of interest waivers to employees and private contractors so they could keep investments in the same financial institutions and corporations that were given emergency loans.

For example, the CEO of JP Morgan Chase served on the New York Fed’s board of directors at the same time that his bank received more than $390 billion in financial assistance from the Fed.  Moreover, JP Morgan Chase served as one of the clearing banks for the Fed’s emergency lending programs.

In another disturbing finding, the GAO said that on Sept. 19, 2008, William Dudley, who is now the New York Fed president, was granted a waiver to let him keep investments in AIG and General Electric at the same time AIG and GE were given bailout funds.  One reason the Fed did not make Dudley sell his holdings, according to the audit, was that it might have created the appearance of a conflict of interest.

To Sanders, the conclusion is simple. “No one who works for a firm receiving direct financial assistance from the Fed should be allowed to sit on the Fed’s board of directors or be employed by the Fed,” he said.

The investigation also revealed that the Fed outsourced most of its emergency lending programs to private contractors, many of which also were recipients of extremely low-interest and then-secret loans.

The Fed outsourced virtually all of the operations of their emergency lending programs to private contractors like JP Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, and Wells Fargo.  The same firms also received trillions of dollars in Fed loans at near-zero interest rates. Altogether some two-thirds of the contracts that the Fed awarded to manage its emergency lending programs were no-bid contracts. Morgan Stanley was given the largest no-bid contract worth $108.4 million to help manage the Fed bailout of AIG.

A more detailed GAO investigation into potential conflicts of interest at the Fed is due on Oct. 18, but Sanders said one thing already is abundantly clear. “The Federal Reserve must be reformed to serve the needs of working families, not just CEOs on Wall Street.”

# # # # #

michael kriegerAbout Michael Krieger

My name is Michael Krieger, and I am the creator and editor of Liberty Blitzkrieg. I’m originally from New York City.

As far as my academic and professional background, I attended college at Duke University where I earned a double major in Economics and Spanish. After completing my studies in 2000, I took a job at Lehman Brothers where I worked with the Oil analyst in the Equity Research Department.  In 2005, I joined Sanford C. Bernstein where I served as the Commodities Analyst on the trading floor. About halfway through my time there, I started to branch out and write opinions on bigger picture “macro” topics that no one else at the firm was covering. These opinion pieces were extremely popular throughout the global investment community, and I traveled around providing advice to some of the largest mutual funds, pension funds and hedge funds in the world.

I loved my job, but as time passed I started to educate myself about how the monetary and financial system functions and what I discovered disgusted me. I no longer felt satisfied working within the industry, and I resigned in January 2010.  At that point, I started a family investment office and continued to write macro pieces on economic, social and geopolitical topics. That summer, I drove cross country for six weeks and ultimately decided to leave the crowded streets of Manhattan for the open spaces of Boulder, Colorado, where I currently reside.

In the years that followed, I gradually recognized that my true passion centers upon writing on issues of significant societal importance given the extremely challenging times we live in. This realization culminated with me losing interest in financial markets and eventually launching this website in early 2012.

Visit Liberty Blitzkrieg:  click here.

This article was published at Liberty Blitzkrieg and is reprinted with permission.

obama_branches-government-The deliberations of the Constitutional Convention of 1787 were held in strict secrecy. Consequently, anxious citizens gathered outside Independence Hall when the proceedings ended in order to learn what had been produced behind closed doors. The answer was provided immediately. A Mrs. Powel of Philadelphia asked Benjamin Franklin, “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?”

With no hesitation whatsoever, Franklin responded, “A republic, if you can keep it.”

TND Guest Contributor: Michael Krieger | 

I actually can’t believe I’m writing this, but the following speech from freshman U.S. Senator Ben Sasse (R, Neb) is so thoughtful and inspiring, it should be required viewing for all American citizens.

To hear a U.S. Senator sound more like a statesman than a corrupt hack politician for sale to the highest bidder, is such a breath of fresh air I almost can’t believe it’s real. Rather than talking down to voters, he challenges them to become more enlightened, nonpartisan-thinkers with a sense of history. He challenges all of us to shake ourselves from an ignorant, fear-based stupor and reclaim the true genius and beauty at the heart of the American experiment.

Take the time to watch this. The entire thing, and then share it with everyone you know.

Thank you Ben Sasse, for proving that there remains a remnant of wise, honorable, decent people in U.S. government.

Finally, while we’re on the topic of executive overreach, here’s what Obama has planned for gun control in the new year…

From Roll Call:

Senior congressional aides and sources in the gun-control community expect the White House to use its executive powers to tighten federal gun laws shortly after President Barack Obama returns from a Hawaiian vacation in early January.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Thursday he anticipates a legal review to continue through the holidays.

Since the deadly shooting in San Bernardino, Calif., White House officials have been, as Earnest has put it, “scrubbing through the law” to determine whether and how Obama can use his constitutional authorities to make it harder for terrorists and other potential mass shooters to legally obtain firearms.

On both sides of the Capitol, sources involved in the guns debate say, as one senior House GOP leadership aide put it, “something is brewing on guns.”

The hot-button issue returned to the front burner of American politics following the lethal Islamic State-inspired California shooting.

Since, however, Republican lawmakers have blocked Democratic measures on stiffening gun laws; and Democrats have kept a mental health bill the GOP has tied to mass shootings from passing, saying they would rather close loopholes in gun laws first.

A recent CNN/ORC poll suggests the American public is siding with GOP arguments. The survey found a majority (52 percent) of those polled oppose tighter gun laws. And a Washington Post/ABC News poll found 53 percent are against the assault weapons ban the White House has endorsed.

“So part of our solution is to consider the range of authorities that are vested in the executive branch to try to advance some of those common-sense policies,” Earnest said. “And we certainly do want to make sure that any sort of steps that the president would take have a strong legal basis in the law.”

So there you have it. A majority of Americans do not want tighter gun laws. Nevertheless, King Obama thinks he know best, and will simply do as he pleases.

This is not what freedom looks like. 
michael kriegerAbout Michael Krieger

My name is Michael Krieger, and I am the creator and editor of Liberty Blitzkrieg. I’m originally from New York City.

As far as my academic and professional background, I attended college at Duke University where I earned a double major in Economics and Spanish. After completing my studies in 2000, I took a job at Lehman Brothers where I worked with the Oil analyst in the Equity Research Department.  In 2005, I joined Sanford C. Bernstein where I served as the Commodities Analyst on the trading floor. About halfway through my time there, I started to branch out and write opinions on bigger picture “macro” topics that no one else at the firm was covering. These opinion pieces were extremely popular throughout the global investment community, and I traveled around providing advice to some of the largest mutual funds, pension funds and hedge funds in the world.

I loved my job, but as time passed I started to educate myself about how the monetary and financial system functions and what I discovered disgusted me. I no longer felt satisfied working within the industry, and I resigned in January 2010.  At that point, I started a family investment office and continued to write macro pieces on economic, social and geopolitical topics. That summer, I drove cross country for six weeks and ultimately decided to leave the crowded streets of Manhattan for the open spaces of Boulder, Colorado, where I currently reside.

In the years that followed, I gradually recognized that my true passion centers upon writing on issues of significant societal importance given the extremely challenging times we live in. This realization culminated with me losing interest in financial markets and eventually launching this website in early 2012.

Visit Liberty Blitzkrieg:  click here.

This article was published at Liberty Blitzkrieg and is reprinted with permission.

occupy wall street and tea party overlap

People are going to be pissed off no matter who wins this election and that is a very important social dynamic I believe is vastly under appreciated by the majority of mainstream pundits and analysts out there.  This is also very distinct from the environment that prevailed in 2008.  Four years ago, the financial markets were crashing and the economic future of America was circling the toilet bowl, yet a majority of Americans embraced the potential of a young, inexperienced biracial politician from Illinois who was saying all of the right things.  Despite the gigantic disappointment he has proven to be as President, there is no denying that he had all of the Democrats and most Independents under his spell on this day four years ago.

Fast forward to 2012 and the county isn’t “divided” as mainstream media talking heads like to say.  The country is pissed off.  Genuine and legitimate frustration permeates the land from sea to shining sea and rightly so.

– From my 2012 pre-election article: The Seventy Percent

TND Guest Contributor:  Michael Krieger

Robert Reich is Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. I know of the man mainly from his frequent appearances on CNBC when I used to watch the channel (I’m proud to say I haven’t tuned in, even for five minutes, for several years now). He was always held up as the token “liberal,” who was more than eager to spar with CNBC’s endless parade of crony capitalist heroes and “socialism for the rich” supporting statists. During my post Wall Street years, I have from time to time come across his musings, but none have struck me like the insightful post he published three days ago.

The post is titled, What I Learned on My Red State Book Tour, and it’s an extremely important that all Americans read it. Here are a few excepts:

I’ve just returned from three weeks in “red” America.

It was ostensibly a book tour but I wanted to talk with conservative Republicans and Tea Partiers.

I intended to put into practice what I tell my students – that the best way to learn is to talk with people who disagree you. I wanted to learn from red America, and hoped they’d also learn a bit from me (and perhaps also buy my book).

But something odd happened. It turned out that many of the conservative Republicans and Tea Partiers I met agreed with much of what I had to say, and I agreed with them.

For example, most condemned what they called “crony capitalism,” by which they mean big corporations getting sweetheart deals from the government because of lobbying and campaign contributions.

I met with group of small farmers in Missouri who were livid about growth of “factory farms” owned and run by big corporations, that abused land and cattle, damaged the environment, and ultimately harmed consumers.

They claimed giant food processors were using their monopoly power to squeeze the farmers dry, and the government was doing squat about it because of Big Agriculture’s money.

I met in Cincinnati with Republican small-business owners who are still hurting from the bursting of the housing bubble and the bailout of Wall Street.

“Why didn’t underwater homeowners get any help?” one of them asked rhetorically. “Because Wall Street has all the power.” Others nodded in agreement.  

Whenever I suggested that big Wall Street banks be busted up – “any bank that’s too big to fail is too big, period” – I got loud applause.

In Raleigh, I heard from local bankers who thought Bill Clinton should never have repealed the Glass-Steagall Act. “Clinton was in the pockets of Wall Street just like George W. Bush was,” said one.

Most of the people I met in America’s heartland want big money out of politics, and think the Supreme Court’s “Citizens United” decision was shameful.

Most are also dead-set against the Trans Pacific Partnership. In fact, they’re opposed to trade agreements, including NAFTA, that they believe have made it easier for corporations to outsource American jobs abroad.

Heartland Republicans and progressive Democrats remain wide apart on social and cultural issues. 

But there’s a growing overlap on economics. The populist upsurge is real.

I sincerely hope Donald Trump doesn’t become president. He’s a divider and a buffoon. 

But I do hope the economic populists in both parties come together.

That’s the only way we’re going to reform a system that’s now rigged against most of us.  

The above is both depressing and encouraging, but mostly encouraging. It’s depressing because Robert Reich is a man who clearly means well. He isn’t trying to grab as much money and power as possible, rather, he genuinely seems to want the best thing for this country. Despite all of that, it wasn’t until he actually visited “red states” and talked to people who he assumed he had very little in common with from a public policy perspective, that he discovered common ground. In other words, an intelligent, thoughtful and well meaning professor had been so successfully siloed into partisan group think, he wasn’t able to see the bigger political picture. If that was the case for Mr. Reich, imagine how divided and conquered the general population is?

Writing the above isn’t meant as a critique of Mr. Reich, we are all constantly learning. That said, the obvious overlap between “progressives” and “tea partiers,” has been clear for years. This is why I’ve always posted the following venn diagram whenever possible:

occupy wall street and tea party overlap

Of course, it’s not just me saying it. Ralph Nader actually wrote a book titled, Unstoppable: The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State. While I agree with Ralph’s prediction in the long run, what is “stopping” this alliance from flexing its muscle in the present day? The longer we wait to confront the major issues of the day, the more pain and suffering the population will have to deal with. So what’s taking so long?

I believe there are two primary drivers behind our current predicament. The first is human nature. People are tribal. Generally speaking, most individuals will ultimately gravitate toward an ideology that helps them understand the world around them, and will then cling to that ideology and defend it to the bitter end against those who disagree (those people become their “enemies” and are easily vilified). This can manifest in many different forms, from religion, to political party partisanship, to nationalism. Such unbending adherence to one ideology or another leads to most of the conflict and irrationality we see around us. This is because once someone has “committed” to an ideology, they close themselves off to even hearing other points of view. At that point, learning and critical thinking ends, and dogmatism takes over. To help those in finance understand what I’m trying to say, it’s very much like when you are in a losing stock position, but can’t get yourself to close out the trade and cut your losses. It’s the exact same seemingly insurmountable emotional commitment at play.

One of the ways I’ve tried to prevent this mindset from infecting my own psyche, is by shunning political labels entirely. In my early days of writing many people characterized me as “libertarian,” although I never personally embraced such a label. As discussed earlier, once you embrace a label you end up defending a side more so than thinking critically. You have committed the sin of identity politics, and from that point forward you feel it is your duty to defend other “libertarians” and wage war against those who you perceive to be “on the other side.” Although discarding political labels confers obvious advantages, many people simply can’t do it. Why?

Again, back to human nature. Most people feel a need to identify with, and become part of, a larger group. Unfortunately that larger group is almost never “the human race” as it should be. Why? Because if people tried to identify with everyone then they couldn’t feel special. People like to feel special, and that they’re a small part of a bigger struggle against other groups of humans who are in the wrong. Not in the wrong about specific policies mind you, but in the wrong merely because those other humans have not chosen to identify with the particular group you have aligned yourself with. You can usually tell who these brainwashed people are, because they constantly critique other people as “libtards” or “tea party wackos.” There’s no need for these loaded labels, but many people love to use them anyway. Why? Because with a single word they can be dismissive and degrading without ever having to talk to the other side and discuss real issues.

Which brings me to the second reason American citizens have yet to unite on the greatest issues of national importance, despite the fact that a vast majority of the population agrees on them: Status quo propaganda.

The status quo are deeply unethical and corrupt, but they aren’t stupid. They know how to divide and conquer people, and through the media, they are doing a great job of keeping citizens of these United States angry at each other, as opposed to angry at them.

Robert Reich’s experience presents the perfect example. He admits he didn’t realize how much he has in common with “red state” tea partiers until he went out and talked to them. The problem here is that it’s not exactly feasible all for coastal people to travel to the heartland and vice versa in order to come to a mutual understanding. Most people depend on the media for information about the world around them and “those other people out there.”

Unfortunately, the media intentionally misinforms people and makes them distrustful of “the others.” Fox News will make it seem like liberals are child-sacrificing heathens who simply want to get everyone to have an abortion while taking away their Christmas tress. Likewise, MSNBC makes it seem like it’s an indisputable fact tea partiers are ignorant, racist schmucks who want to shoot everything that moves and turn American into a Taliban-like Christian theocracy. Of course, neither of these things are true.

The truth is, the American public is tricked into thinking they disagree with each other on the big issues, when in reality there’s enormous overlap. Until we stop being tricked, the status quo will continue to suck the economy dry through their religious-like embrace of corruption and crony capitalism. Unfortunately, the people who could benefit the most from reading this post, will never see it.

For related articles, see:

The Seventy Percent

#StandwithRand: The Filibuster that United Libertarian and Progressive Activists

Former Senator Opines on the Incredible Corruption in America and the Fourth Branch of Government

A Libertarian-Liberal Alliance Forms to Tackle Criminal Justice Reform

Thoughts on Election Day: Relax—Both Parties Are Going Extinct

Former Aide to Bill Clinton Speaks – “My Party Has Lost its Soul”

The Pitchforks are Coming…– A Dire Warning from a Member of the 0.01%

In Liberty,
Michael Krieger

# # # #
michael kriegerAbout Michael Krieger

My name is Michael Krieger, and I am the creator and editor of Liberty Blitzkrieg. I’m originally from New York City.

As far as my academic and professional background, I attended college at Duke University where I earned a double major in Economics and Spanish. After completing my studies in 2000, I took a job at Lehman Brothers where I worked with the Oil analyst in the Equity Research Department.  In 2005, I joined Sanford C. Bernstein where I served as the Commodities Analyst on the trading floor. About halfway through my time there, I started to branch out and write opinions on bigger picture “macro” topics that no one else at the firm was covering. These opinion pieces were extremely popular throughout the global investment community, and I traveled around providing advice to some of the largest mutual funds, pension funds and hedge funds in the world.

I loved my job, but as time passed I started to educate myself about how the monetary and financial system functions and what I discovered disgusted me. I no longer felt satisfied working within the industry, and I resigned in January 2010.  At that point, I started a family investment office and continued to write macro pieces on economic, social and geopolitical topics. That summer, I drove cross country for six weeks and ultimately decided to leave the crowded streets of Manhattan for the open spaces of Boulder, Colorado, where I currently reside.

In the years that followed, I gradually recognized that my true passion centers upon writing on issues of significant societal importance given the extremely challenging times we live in. This realization culminated with me losing interest in financial markets and eventually launching this website in early 2012.

Visit Liberty Blitzkrieg:  click here.

This article was published at Liberty Blitzkrieg and is reprinted with permission.

 

nanystate

TND Editor’s Note:  Michael Krieger’s ongoing spotlight on the out of control growth of the “nanny state” will hopefully become garden variety insight in the future – and Americans wake-up and change, if possible.  For now and in aggregate, Americans appear to be willing to robotically fall into the “loving,” “protecting” arms of government. — Eric Dubin

# # # #

 

# # # #
michael kriegerAbout Michael Krieger

My name is Michael Krieger, and I am the creator and editor of Liberty Blitzkrieg. I’m originally from New York City.

As far as my academic and professional background, I attended college at Duke University where I earned a double major in Economics and Spanish. After completing my studies in 2000, I took a job at Lehman Brothers where I worked with the Oil analyst in the Equity Research Department.  In 2005, I joined Sanford C. Bernstein where I served as the Commodities Analyst on the trading floor. About halfway through my time there, I started to branch out and write opinions on bigger picture “macro” topics that no one else at the firm was covering. These opinion pieces were extremely popular throughout the global investment community, and I traveled around providing advice to some of the largest mutual funds, pension funds and hedge funds in the world.

I loved my job, but as time passed I started to educate myself about how the monetary and financial system functions and what I discovered disgusted me. I no longer felt satisfied working within the industry, and I resigned in January 2010.  At that point, I started a family investment office and continued to write macro pieces on economic, social and geopolitical topics. That summer, I drove cross country for six weeks and ultimately decided to leave the crowded streets of Manhattan for the open spaces of Boulder, Colorado, where I currently reside.

In the years that followed, I gradually recognized that my true passion centers upon writing on issues of significant societal importance given the extremely challenging times we live in. This realization culminated with me losing interest in financial markets and eventually launching this website in early 2012.

Visit Liberty Blitzkrieg:  click here.

This article was published at Liberty Blitzkrieg and is reprinted with permission.

Screen-Shot-2015-10-18-at-6.37.04-PM

TND Guest Contributor:  Michael Krieger |

Whenever cryptographer and computer security specialist Bruce Schneier issues a warning about something, I pay close attention.

What follows are excerpts from a recent piece he wrote for Forbestitled, The Era of Automatic Facial Recognition and Surveillance Is Here:

ID checks were a common response to the terrorist attacks of 9/11, but they’ll soon be obsolete. You won’t have to show your ID, because you’ll be identified automatically. A security camera will capture your face, and it’ll be matched with your name and a whole lot of other information besides. Welcome to the world of automatic facial recognition. Those who have access to databases of identified photos will have the power to identify us. Yes, it’ll enable some amazing personalized services; but it’ll also enable whole new levels of surveillance. The underlying technologies are being developed today, and there are currently no rules limiting their use.

Read that again: “There are no rules limiting their use.”

Walk by a policeman, and she will know your name, address, criminal record, and with whom you routinely are seen. The potential for discrimination is enormous, especially in low-income communities where people are routinely harassed for things like unpaid parking tickets and other minor violations. And in a country where people are arrested for their political views, the use of this technology quickly turns into a nightmare scenario.

The critical technology here is computer face recognition. Traditionally it has been pretty poor, but it’s slowly improving. A computer is now as good as a person. Already Google’s algorithms can accurately match child and adult photos of the same person, and Facebook has an algorithm that works by recognizing hair style, body shape, and body language — and works even when it can’t see faces. And while we humans are pretty much as good at this as we’re ever going to get, computers will continue to improve. Over the next years, they’ll continue to get more accurate, making better matches using even worse photos.

This is no longer fiction. High-tech billboards can target ads based on the gender of who’s standing in front of them. In 2011, researchers at Carnegie Mellon pointed a camera at a public area on campus and were able to match live video footage with a public database of tagged photos in real time. Already government and commercial authorities have set up facial recognition systems to identify and monitor people at sporting events, music festivals, and even churches. The Dubai police are working on integrating facial recognition into Google Glass, and more US local police forces are using the technology.

 
Companies will spring up whose business models depend on capturing our images in public and selling them to whoever has use for them. If you think this is farfetched, consider a related technology that’s already far down that path: license-plate capture.

Today in the US there’s a massive but invisible industry that records the movements of cars around the country. Cameras mounted on cars and tow trucks capture license places along with date/time/location information, and companies use that data to find cars that are scheduled for repossession. One company, Vigilant Solutions, claims to collect 70 million scans in the US every month.The companies that engage in this business routinely share that data with the police, giving the police a steady stream of surveillance information on innocent people that they could not legally collect on their own. And the companies are already looking for other profit streams, selling that surveillance data to anyone else who thinks they have a need for it.

I’ve written on this topic several times over the years. See:

How the Repo Industry is Collecting Data on Virtually Every Car in America

Department of Homeland Security Moves to Install National License Plate Tracking System

License Plate Readers Stir Controversy in California as the NYPD Prepares to Use Drones

Already the FBI has a database of 52 million faces, and describes its integration of facial recognition software with that database as “fully operational.” In 2014, FBI Director James Comey told Congress that the database would not include photos of ordinary citizens, although the FBI’s own documents indicate otherwise. And just last month, we learned that the FBI is looking to buy a system that will collect facial images of anyone an officer stops on the street.

I’ve covered this program as well. See:

The FBI Unveils its Controversial Facial Recognition Database with 52 Million Photos to be Stored

FBI Plans to Have 52 Million Photos in Facial Recognition Database by 2015

Last year, the US Department of Commerce tried to prevail upon industry representatives and privacy organizations to write a voluntary code of conduct for companies using facial recognition technologies. After 16 months of negotiations, all of the consumer-focused privacy organizations pulled out of the process becauseindustry representatives were unable to agree on any limitations on something as basic as nonconsensual facial recognition.

Don’t expect to have access to this technology for yourself anytime soon. This is not facial recognition for all. It’s just for those who can either demand or pay for access to the required technologies — most importantly, the tagged photo databases. And while we can easily imagine how this might be misused in a totalitarian country, there are dangers in free societies as well. Without meaningful regulation, we’re moving into a world where governments and corporations will be able to identify people both in real time and backwards in time, remotely and in secret, without consent or recourse.

Despite protests from industry, we need to regulate this budding industry. We need limitations on how our images can be collected without our knowledge or consent, and on how they can be used. The technologies aren’t going away, and we can’t uninvent these capabilities. But we can ensure that they’re used ethically and responsibly, and not just as a mechanism to increase police and corporate power over us.

You have been warned.

In Liberty,
Michael Krieger

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michael kriegerAbout Michael Krieger

My name is Michael Krieger, and I am the creator and editor of Liberty Blitzkrieg. I’m originally from New York City.

As far as my academic and professional background, I attended college at Duke University where I earned a double major in Economics and Spanish. After completing my studies in 2000, I took a job at Lehman Brothers where I worked with the Oil analyst in the Equity Research Department.  In 2005, I joined Sanford C. Bernstein where I served as the Commodities Analyst on the trading floor. About halfway through my time there, I started to branch out and write opinions on bigger picture “macro” topics that no one else at the firm was covering. These opinion pieces were extremely popular throughout the global investment community, and I traveled around providing advice to some of the largest mutual funds, pension funds and hedge funds in the world.

I loved my job, but as time passed I started to educate myself about how the monetary and financial system functions and what I discovered disgusted me. I no longer felt satisfied working within the industry, and I resigned in January 2010.  At that point, I started a family investment office and continued to write macro pieces on economic, social and geopolitical topics. That summer, I drove cross country for six weeks and ultimately decided to leave the crowded streets of Manhattan for the open spaces of Boulder, Colorado, where I currently reside.

In the years that followed, I gradually recognized that my true passion centers upon writing on issues of significant societal importance given the extremely challenging times we live in. This realization culminated with me losing interest in financial markets and eventually launching this website in early 2012.

Visit Liberty Blitzkrieg:  click here.

This article was published at Liberty Blitzkrieg and is reprinted with permission.