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Thursday, 27 August 2015

Fake Goldman Sachs bank found in China

A Goldman Sachs (Shenzhen) Financial Leasing Company was found operating in the country without any connection to the US investment giant.

“We don’t have any connection with the US Goldman Sachs, we just picked the name out, and it’s not intentionally the same,” a woman who answered the company’s listed phone number told AFP.

The company uses the same Chinese characters, gao sheng, as the real Goldman Sachs, and its English font is evocative of the US bank’s.

Bloomberg made a filing with the Shenzhen government that reveals the replica Goldman Sachs has been operating since May 2013.

Goldman Sachs China

It’s not the first case of setting up fake banks in China. A 39-year-old man in eastern China’s Shandong Province was arrested this month after starting a fake branch of the China Construction Bank with card readers, passbooks, teller counter and convincing looking logos, the Xinhua news agency reported. The bank was taking deposits but didn’t allow withdrawals.

“It’s notoriously difficult for an overseas claimant to persuade the Chinese courts that there has been trademark infringement. There’s still a practice of whoever registers first wins,” Paul Haswell, a Hong Kong-based partner at law firm Pinsent Masons told Bloomberg.

Basketball legend Michael Jordan lost a case in July against a local sportswear company that used his name in Chinese.

In 2012, Apple paid $60 million to Proview Technology (Shenzhen) that first registered the iPad trademark in China in 2001.

AP Sues FBI Over Impersonating An AP Reporter With A Fake AP Story

It later came out that the way the FBI used this was an undercover agent

pretended to be an AP reporter

and sent the suspect -- a 15 year old high school kid... -- a "draft" of the article to review. And when the kid opened it, the malware was deployed.

In response to this, FBI director James Comey

defended the practice

, saying that it was legal "under Justice Department and FBI guidelines at the time" and, furthermore, that this bit of deception worked. Comey also said that while guidelines had changed, and such impersonation would require "higher-level approvals," it was still something the FBI could do.

The AP

has now sued the FBI

, along with the Reporters Committee on Freedom of the Press (RCFP) over its failure to reveal any more details about this effort following a FOIA request. For reasons that are beyond me, even though it's the AP filing the lawsuit and the AP

writing about

the lawsuit, reporter Michael Biesecker apparently doesn't think its readers can handle the actual filing, so they don't include it (this is bad journalism, folks). However, you can

read the actual lawsuit here


In short, the AP made a FOIA request for documents related to this specific case above, as well as "an accounting of the number of times" that the FBI "has impersonated media organizations or generated media-style material" to deliver malware. The FBI said it was working on it, and then bizarrely told the AP that the request was being "closed administratively" because it was being combined with someone else's FOIA request, which left the AP reasonably confused, since they had not initiated that request and had no idea who had.

In a letter from Mr. Hardy dated December 10, 2014, the FBI stated that, even though the request had yet to be fulfilled, the AP Request was unilaterally “being closed administratively,” because the “material responsive to your request will be processed in FOIA 1313504-0 as they share the same information.”

The combining of Mr. Satter’s request with Request No. 1313504-0 occurred despite the fact that Mr. Satter had not filed Request No. 1313504-0 and was given no information about the identity of the requester underlying FOIA Request No. 1313504-0.

When the AP asked the FBI for more info, it was told that "the estimated completion time for large requests is 649 days." And still refused to reveal who had sent in the other FOIA request. The AP filed a formal appeal, and a week ago was told that there was nothing to appeal because the FBI had not completed Request No. 1313504-0 (which, again, the AP had not actually sent in). Hence the lawsuit.

The RCFP FOIA request received a somewhat more standard "no responsive records" response, to which the RCFP pointed out that the FBI was clearly lying, given that the earlier response (to the EFF FOIA, which kicked off this whole thing) showed that there was, in fact, such responsive results (I

know this experience

all too well).

And thus, both organizations are now suing to force the FBI to actually turn over the damn documents. Can't wait to find out all the national security reasons (or will they be redacted) for why the FBI won't respond, and why it combined the AP's FOIA request with some totally unknown party's.

Chinese Man Jumps From 17th Floor In First Stock Market Casualty

It appears the collapse of China's stock market has officially taken its first victim. While we have heard fromdesperate farmers who lost everything after realizing that making money in stocks is not easier than farmworkRT reports that a 57-year-old man has allegedly committed suicide in Shenyang, the largest city in Liaoning Province, by jumping off the 17th floor of a building with a black briefcase "full of stock-related materials," local press reported.

As we previously heard from one Chinese farmer,

From the hope-filled exuberance of early June to Yang Cheng's utter hopelessness, "I have lost everything," after he followed the government's 'grand plan' to open the economy and encourage stock market speculation.

Having piled his life savings (plus his relatives' money) into the market, thanks to encouragement from his broker he borrowed $1 million in margin and bet it all on one stock - a local mining company.

Now, after being forced to liquidate by the same risk-encouraging brokerage, he has suffered catastrophic losses... and he is not alone...

"I don't know what to do... I trusted the government too much..." he exclaims, adding "I won't touch stocks again, I have ruined everyone in my family."

And now, as RT reports, it appears the crash has claimed its first victim,

A 57-year-old man has allegedly committed suicide in Shenyang, the largest city in Liaoning Province, by jumping off the 17th floor of a building, possibly in response to a recent stock market crash in China, local press reported.

The building belongs to the city’s Chamber of Commerce and the 17th floor hosts a security exchange center, China.org reported citing a local newspaper. The incident took place Tuesday afternoon at around 2:00 p.m.

According to a witness, a black briefcase ‘full of stock-related materials’ was found on the ground next to the body of the man who was reportedly identified as a local resident.

While authorities are investigating the reason for the dive, it has been suggested that the suicide was connected to the recent stock market crash.

Be careful who you tell about this though...

Last month, Chinese authorities arrested a man who had allegedly been spreading rumors about people jumping off buildings in Beijing because of a stock market crash, China Central Television reported. The 29-year-old man allegedly wrote on social media that “there are people, because of the stock market crash, who have jumped off buildings in Beijing’s Financial Street.”

The post in question disappeared the day after it was created, thought to have been deleted by the state censors. Its author was detained for “disorderly behavior.”

*  *  *

Who's next?

India just turned off mobile internet for 63 million citizens amid protests in Ahmedabad

Restricting access to internet services isn’t the answer to such issues. Indian politicians need to encourage public debate and participation in creating policies that ensure equal opportunities for everyone.

Mobile internet services have been blocked in the Indian state of Gujarat (home to nearly 63 million people), following violent protests led by the Patel community after one of its leaders was detained by local police in Ahmedabad.

22-year-old politician Hardik Patel, the convener of the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti, led a rally to demand Other Backward Class (OBC) status for members of the Patidar community, in order to level the playing field in the competition for enrollment at universities and jobs in government organizations.

After he was detained on Tuesday, Patel sent out messages via WhatsApp urging citizens to maintain peace:

I make an appeal to maintain peace and keep calm. I give a call for Gujarat bandh tomorrow (Wednesday). This decision has been taken by Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti considering widespread violence in the state.

Patel’s supporters have been using WhatsApp extensively to broadcast videos and make media announcements.

According to NDTV, a police officer said, “Last night, there were concerns of rumour-mongering and crowd mobilization through WhatsApp.”

The officer added that the service will resume only after the situation returns to normal. However, other reports indicate that all mobile internet services have been blocked across the state.

A slice of Ahmedabad. Gujarat is home to India's current Prime Minister Narendra Modi


A slice of Ahmedabad. Gujarat is home to India’s current Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Patel’s agitation aims to draw the nation’s attention to one of India’s major quandaries. While many members of his community are wealthy and politically influential, thousands of families are poor and don’t have easy access to quality education and high-paying jobs.

As the Patels are regarded as well off, all members of the community — including those from lower income groups — have to compete with citizens from across the country for a chance at proper schooling and lucrative careers.

It’s easier for groups with OBC and similar statuses, as seats at universities and jobs are reserved for them and often have significantly lower educational requirements.

Social Media Study Reveals Half Of Americans Hate Their Police Dept.

With the rise of digital technology, it has become easier and easier to document the transgressions of state enforcers like police – so it is no surprise that according to a social media analysis by drug treatment and awareness website drugabuse.com, almost half of Americans hate their local police department.

The study found that a little over 47 percent of Americans gave their police precinct a grade of D or F with states like Arkansas, Idaho, Missouri, Virginia, and Georgia exhibiting the most overall dissatisfaction.

37 percent of Americans gave their police department an F grade, with the national average being a D but grades of A relating the most overall satisfaction came from states like New Hampshire, North Dakota, West Virginia, Kansas, and Hawaii.

More than 19 percent of people, in states like Texas, Kentucky, Illinois, Michigan, and Oregon, gave their police departments a C or C-plus grade – and more than 19 percent of people gave police departments in states like Maine, Alabama, Oklahoma, Utah, and South Dakota a grade of B-minus, B, or B-plus.


The study also looked at the breakdown of expressed sentiment towards police by city.

Interestingly, despite that some states like Texas rank above the national average – when looking at data city by city – it exhibited three of the lowest ranked cities: San Antonio, Austin and Fort Worth – which all received an F grade.

Other cities that received an F score include Denver, New York City, Phoenix, Miami, Los Angles, and Ferguson, MO – who received the lowest recorded sentiment score in the nation.

Its important to note that no city or state received a positive overall sentiment score but the cities with the “least-worst” ratings were Columbus, San Deigo, and Seattle, who garnered A grades – and Houston, Washington, and Charlotte, who received grades of B-plus or B.


The study, which analyzed over 766,000 tweets about sentiment toward law enforcement during the first five months of this year, illustrates the reality that unlike a private or market entity, consumer sanctification has nothing to do with the prolonged longevity or success of government-run services like police departments.

Whereas unsatisfied customers of private security and protection firms can quickly withdraw their support if they find the actions of such businesses disagreeable – in government – repeated failures, abuses, and ineptitude only results in larger and larger budgets – paid for by the extracted wealth of citizens against their will under threats of force and violence.

Johns Hopkins University professor Philip Leaf says the reasons for the low scores vary, but maintains that new media interest, in conjunction with technology that can record incidents of police abuse, has led to new conversations about law enforcement – especially in neglected communities.

“There has been a negative perception of police in many communities for a long time, Leaf said. “There just haven't been conversations with these young people or in the media about it until recently.”

“There hasn't been an upsurge of disconnect with the police,” Leaf added. “With cellphones, there has been documentation of things that people have been talking about for a long time. People haven't been believed, and now it's hard not to believe it, if you see it on TV.”

Total War in Yemen Totally Ignored by Western Media

With almost a whimper, the Western media reported that the US-backed regimes of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and their auxiliary fighters drawn from Al Qaeda have begun carrying out what is the ground invasion of Yemen. Along with an ongoing naval blockade and months of bombing raids, the ground invasion adds a lethal new dimension to the conflict – for both sides.

Landing at the port city of Aden on Yemen’s southern tip, it is reported that an “armor brigade” consisting of between 1,000 – 3,000 troops primarily from the UAE are now moving north, their ultimate destination Sana’a, the capital of Yemen.

Columns of the UAE’s French-built Leclerc main battle tanks were seen moving out of the port city though their numbers are difficult to establish. Reports claiming that the UAE unit is brigade-sized might indicate as many as 100 tanks involved – a third of the UAE’s total armored force.

The bold move comes after months of frustrating failures for the two Arabian regimes. Their Yemeni proxies – loyalists of the ousted president Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi – have proven all but useless in fighting Houthi fighters across most of Yemen despite air superiority provided to them by their Arabian allies. And while it appears the well-equipped Arab forces are able to concentrate firepower, overwhelming Houthi fighters in pitched battles, the ability for Saudi, UAE, and Al Qaeda forces to actually hold territory they move through is questionable at best.


The Roman Empire throughout much of its reign was feared as invincible. After suffering several major defeats, the veneer of invincibility began to peel and along with it crumbled inevitably their empire. Likewise, Western hegemony has been propped up by the illusion of military superiority on the battlefield. By carefully picking its battles and avoiding critical defeats, the West, and the US in particular, has maintained this illusion of military invincibility

As the US moves against nations with larger, better equipped and trained armies, it has elected to use proxies to fight on its behalf. Thus, any humiliating defeat could be compartmentalized.

However, by most accounts the war in Yemen is not only a proxy war between Iran and the Persian Gulf monarchies, it is one of several such conflicts raging regionally that constitutes a wider proxy war between the US and its regional allies on one side, and Iran, Syria, Russia, and even China on the other.

With the presence of Western main battle tanks in Yemen attempting to move north, the opportunity now presents itself to punch holes through this illusion of Western invincibility. Yemen as the graveyard for an alleged brigade of French-built Leclerc main battle tanks would be one such hole. It would also set the UAE’s extraterritorial military ambitions back, if not overturn them entirely, and finally, would leave whatever fighting was left in Yemen to the Saudis who have thus far proven incompetent.

Perhaps this is one of the many reasons the Western media has decided not to cover the events unfolding in Yemen.

Yemen Vs. Ukraine 

One might ask how – in the context of international law – it is possible for unelected absolute autocracies like Saudi Arabia and the UAE to intervene militarily in Yemen with naval blockades, aerial bombardments, and now an overt ground invasion including armor columns to restore an ousted regime. This is done with seemingly little concern from the United Nations and with the enthusiastic support both politically and militarily of the United States.

The answer to this question becomes more confounding still when considering Western condemnation of Russia for any attempt to support or defend the ousted government of Ukraine, a nation now overrun by NATO-backed Neo-Nazi militias who in turn are backing a criminal regime in Kiev which includes foreigners assigned to cabinet positions and even as governors. Saudi and UAE military aggression in Yemen makes it increasingly difficult for the West to maintain the illusion of moral superiority regarding Ukraine.

Russia’s relative restraint when compared to US-backed aggression on the Arabian Peninsula exposes once again the pervasive hypocrisy consuming Western legitimacy.

This may be yet another reason the Western media refuses to cover the events unfolding in Yemen.

Responsibility to Protect…? 


After NATO’s attempt to invoke the “responsibility to protect” (R2P) as justification for the destruction of Libya, it became clear that NATO was merely hiding behind the principles of humanitarian concern, not upholding them. And while it may be difficult to believe, there are still those across the Western media and policy think-tanks attempting to use R2P to justify further military aggression against nations like Syria.

However, R2P is conveniently absent amid what little talk of Yemen that does take place in the Western media. US-backed blockades and months of aerial bombardments have tipped Yemen toward a humanitarian catastrophe. Not only does both the UN and the West fail to demand an end to the bombings and blockades, the West has continued to underwrite Saudi Arabia and the UAE’s military adventure in Yemen.

The carnage and injustice visited upon Yemen serves as yet another stark example of how the West and its institutions, including the United Nations, are the greatest dangers to global peace and stability, using the pretext of defending such ideals as a means to instead undo them.

Considering this, we discover yet another potential reason the Western media’s coverage of Yemen is muted.

It remains to be seen how the Houthi fighters react to the ground invasion of Yemen by Emirati troops. Dealing severe losses to the UAE’s armor while continuing to weather aerial bombardment may see the stalling or even the withdrawal of this latest incursion. Not unlike the 2006 Lebanon War where Hezbollah fighters expertly used terrain to negate Israeli advantages in airpower and armor, forcing an early end to the fighting, the Houthis may yet answer this latest move by US-backed proxies operating in Yemen.

Perhaps this possibility above all, is why the Western media would rather the general public knew little of what was going on in Yemen. It would represent yet another conventional Western-equipped proxy army defeated by irregular forces in yet another failed campaign fought in the interests of Wall Street and Washington. While the Western media refuses to cover the events unfolding in Yemen with the attention and honesty they deserve, the conflict is nonetheless pivotal, and may determine the outcome of other proxy wars raging across the Middle East and North Africa, and even beyond.

Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazineNew Eastern Outlook”.