Typical. From the Wash Post:President Obama has repeatedly embraced three titans of American commerce, General Electric, Boeing and JPMorgan Chase, showering their chief executives with praise and adopting policies that benefit the companies.His economic stimulus package awarded $200 million in contracts to GE, according to the company, and he has traveled the world selling Boeing airplanes...
In a settlement with the American Civil Liberties Union last week, the Enfield Board of Education in Bloomfield, Connecticut, agreed to stop holding high school graduation ceremonies in a church. The settlement culminates in a victory for the group of organizations which sued the board in May 2010 on behalf of two students and their parents who argued that their First Amendment right to religious freedom was violated by having graduation ceremonies at The First Cathedral in Bloomfield, where banners read “Jesus Christ is Lord” and “I am GOD.” After a federal judge initially issued an injunction on the basis that graduations inside the church would be an unconstitutional endorsement of religion, the school board decided to stop using overtly religious settings for public school functions.
HSBC's Money Laundering Lapses, By the Numbers
by Cora Currier ProPublica, July 20, 2012
This week a Senate investigation detailed that HSBC had lax controls against money-laundering and often ignored warnings about clients with ties to drug cartels and terrorists.
The bank is also reportedly nearing a settlement with the Justice Department, which has two criminal investigations into whether HSBC was complicit in money-laundering and tax evasion.The federal regulator that should have been keeping tabs on all this, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, also came under fire for "systemic weaknesses" in its oversight of banks' anti-money laundering procedures.
The report reaches back more than a decade, and in testimony in front of the Senate this week, the bank apologized and vowed it has recently overhauled its anti-money-laundering efforts. The bank's head of compliance stepped down this week. But the Senate report notes that HBSC made similar promises of reform back in 2003 when it was cited by regulators for poor oversight of suspicious transactions. HSBC declined to comment further on the report or on the DOJ's ongoing investigation.
There are lot of blunders and blind spots detailed in the Senate's 335-page takedown. Here's a rundown2014in each instance, we've linked to the relevant page in the report.
17,000: The backlog of unreviewed, potentially suspicious activity alerts at HSBC's U.S. arm as uncovered by government regulators in 2010.
200: Number of compliance staff in bank's U.S. branch between 2006 and 2009, of which a smaller group was charged with making sure the bank was following anti-money-laundering rules. HBUS had millions of accounts, and more than 16,000 employees overall, and according to the report, kept compliance staff small as a cost-cutting measure.Members of the anti-money-laundering group told investigators that understaffing was a key problem.
85: Number of problems with the anti-money-laundering efforts at bank's U.S. arm red-flagged by the OCC between 2005 and 2010. That was a third more than the next-closest major bank.
0: number of enforcement actions the OCC took in that time period.
3: number of years, from 2006 to 2009, for which HSBC's U.S. branch didn't do any money-laundering monitoring for transactions with HSBC banks in other countries.
15 billion: Total value of U.S. dollar bills (as in paper money) the bank accepted as part of bulk-cash transactions from foreign HSBC banks during that period, with no anti money-laundering controls.
Concerns about HBMX, the bank's Mexican arm
7 Billion: U.S. dollars exported from 2007-2008 from HBMX accounts to HSBC's U.S. accounts. At the time, both American and Mexican officials raised concerns that such a volume was only possible if it included illegal drug money.
1: Rank of HBMX in repatriation of U.S. dollars from Mexico for those years. HBMX is only the 5th largest bank in Mexico.
50,000: Number of clients in 2008 with U.S. dollar accounts at an HBMX shell operation in the Cayman Islands.
75: Estimated percentage of those accounts for which HBMX had incomplete information on the account holder.
15: Estimated percentage of such accounts for which the bank had no account holder information. (In 2009, HBMX closed 9,000 Cayman U.S. dollar accounts, but continues to allow new ones to be opened there).
Potentially Violating Sanctions
25,000: number of those transactions that involved Iran. The vast majority, auditors found, were sent through the U.S. without disclosing Iranian ties. In many cases, foreign HSBC banks substituted their own names for clients' with Iranian ties to avoid triggering red flags.
300,000: dollar amount of a wire transfer that went through HBUS because a compliance officer didn't realize "Persia" meant Iran.
2: Number of U.S. dollar accounts established by HBSC's European operation in the U.K. for the "Taliban." HSBC's U.S. operation was unable to tell Senate investigators whether they ever processed transactions for the account.
Other shady ties
1 billion: U.S. dollars bought from HSBC between 2006 and 2010 by Al Rajhi, a Saudi Arabian bank previously cut off because of ties to terrorism. An HSBC official fought against concerns from compliance employees, because of the revenue they brought to the bank.(He apologized in front of the Senate committee Tuesday).
290 million: Amount in U.S. dollar travelers' checks cleared by HSBC's U.S. operation for a Japanese bank over four years. The checks originated at a Russian bank and were brought in by 30 clients who all claimed to be in the used car business. Compliance officers raised concerns in 2005, but HSBC didn't stop processing the checks until October 2008. (When questioned by the Senate committee, the Japanese bank could offer no explanation for why "the parties were using U.S. dollars to purchase used cars located in Japan or why [the bank] had so little information about the 30 clients carrying in U.S. dollars travelers checks totaling about $500,000-$600,000 each day.")
1,670: number of those accounts in the bank's Miami branch, holding $2.6 billion in assets. One such account was linked to a Miami real estate family convicted of tax fraud for hiding nearly $200 million through bearer-share accounts. Another account, for a Peruvian family, was opened without the normal controls on bearer-shares. One HSBC executive wrote in an email in support of waiving the requirements, "this is too important a family in Peru for us not to want to do business with."
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has delivered a report to the Senate Banking Committee on the rise of the private student loan industry. This industry took a hit after 2010, when the Affordable Care Act included a provision that ended the[...]
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President Obama's chances of winning the Electoral College are 67.2 percent, up slightly from 66.7 percent on Thursday.
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President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden meet with senior advisors in the Oval Office to discuss the shootings in Aurora, Colorado, July 20, 2012. Pictured, from left, are: Kathryn Ruemmler, Counsel to the President, and FBI Director Robert Mueller. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)Police are holding James Eagan Holmes in the killing of 12 and injuring of 59 in a movie multiplex in Aurora, Colorado, a suburb of 325,000 east of Denver. Patrons were in the packed theater for a midnight premiere of the new Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises. A 6-year-old girl was among the dead and nine of the injured were in critical condition. Holmes is said not to be cooperating with authorities. He was arrested
in behind the theater just a couple of minutes after a 911 call was answered. Authorities say he will be arraigned on Monday.
Authorities say Holmes bought a ticket to the movie, then left through an exit door that he propped open. He removed body armor and three firearms from a car in the parking lot and returned to carry out his carnage.
? The Aurora police chief, Dan Oates, announced at a press conference at noon Mountain Time that one of the 71 victims was struck by a bullet that penetrated the wall between two theaters in the multiplex.
? The Aurora police, perhaps together with other law enforcement officials, will hold another press conference at 7 PM MT.
? It is believed, police said, that Holmes acted alone. But they are closely cooperating with federal authorities as the investigation continues.
? The four firearms recovered by police were two .40-caliber Glock pistols (one of which was found in a car parked in a lot behind back of the theater), a Remington 12-gauge shotgun, and a Smith & Wesson .223-caliber AR-15-style rifle, the semi-automatic civilian version of the military's M-16. The Associated Press has reported Holmes had a "drum" magazine for the AR-15. These can hold as many as 100 rounds.
? The firearms were all purchased legally and recently at local stores in May, June and July. Holmes also carried at least two explosive canisters of an unknown, irritating gas that he set off in the theater before opening fire. He wore a gas mask, a ballistic helmet, a bullet-resistant vest, and leg, groin and throat protectors.
? Holmes set a timer to turn on loud music in his Aurora apartment. That music was triggered at midnight, according to what a nearby resident told reporters. Authorities say the apartment was rigged with trip wires designed to set off incendiary and chemical weapons. Investigators evacuated the building. As this post was being published, the devices had not yet been defused.
? In a report on the victims (one sailor and two airmen were injured) the Department of Defense reported: "We can also confirm that the alleged gunman in this incident, James Holmes, is not a past or current member of any branch or component of the U.S. Armed Forces."
? Speaking at a Friday afternoon press conference, University of California-Riverside chancellor Timothy White said James Holmes, the suspected shooter in the deadly Aurora, Colo. massacre, had a distinguished academic career at the school.? New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said: "It clearly looks like a deranged individual. He has his hair painted red. He said he was the Joker, obviously the enemy of Batman." Aurora Police Chief Oates would not confirm this, but said he had he had spoken to Kelly. Oates used to work with Kelly in New York. Federal authorities have also informed CNN Holmes had colored his hair.
?He was an honor student,? White said. ?So academically he was at the top of the top. He distinguished himself from an academic point of view during his four years with us graduating with highest honors.?
? Here is an aerial map of the theater and surrounding area.
In a disappointing setback, Arizona's top public health official, Will Humble, is denying a request to increase the number of conditions medical marijuana may treat. He told the Arizona Republic that there is not enough scientific evidence to prove[...]
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Update: July 20, 2012, 5:29 PM
Growing up in San Diego, James Eagan Holmes was seen by his neighbors as an "every day guy," a smart kid who was otherwise unremarkable.
But by Friday, the young man was being described by Colorado's governor as a "very deranged mind" and was the sole suspect in a horrific massacre that left 12 people dead and 59 wounded at a movie theater in the Denver suburbs.
There are still many questions unanswered about how Holmes, now 24, went from the quiet teen in California to an alleged mass killer in Aurora, Colo. But just hours after the massacre, a clearer portrait was emerging of his life leading up to it.
Holmes graduated from Westview High School in San Diego in 2006, a school district spokeswoman, Tina McDowell, told TPM. His neighbors described him as a shy, Presbyterian churchgoing teen.
"I saw him as a normal guy, an every day guy, doing every day things," neighbor Anthony Mai, 16, told the Los Angeles Times.
Reporters flooded his former neighborhood after the killing, lining up in front of the house where his parents still live. Police were called to keep reporters at bay.
San Diego police spokeswoman Lt. Andra Brown said the family was deeply upset and just wanted privacy. She said the suspect's father was escorted from the house early in the morning but declined to say where he was headed. She also released a statement from the family.
"Our hearts go out to those who were involved in this tragedy and to the families and friends of those involved," the unsigned statement said. "We ask that the media respect our privacy during this difficult time. Our family is cooperating with authorities in both San Diego, California and Aurora, Colorado. We are still trying to process this information and we appreciate that people will respect our privacy."
After high school, Holmes enrolled in the neuroscience program at the University of California, Riverside. Chancellor Timothy White said at an afternoon news conference that Holmes was an honor student who earned merit scholarships and graduated in 2010.
"Academically, he was at the top of the top," White said. "He distinguished himself from an academic point of view during his four years with us, graduating with the highest honors."
For graduate school, Holmes moved out of state and enrolled in a neurosciences graduate program at the University of Colorado Denver. Dan Meyers, a spokesman for the school of medicine, confirmed to TPM that Holmes had been a student on campus there.
But something changed in recent weeks. The Denver Post reported that Holmes was in the process of withdrawing from the school. A neighbor in Aurora, Colo., told the Huffington Post that Holmes appeared stone cold, carrying two black bags into their apartment building a day before the killing.
Then on Friday, authorities said Holmes drove his white Hyundai sedan to the nearby Century 16 movie theater that was screening midnight showings of the premier of the Batman movie, "The Dark Knight Rises."
Holmes was dressed all in black and wearing a helmet, a bullet-proof vest, armored leggings, a groin protector and a gas mask when he walked into the theater. Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates said the young man brought an assault rifle, a shot gun and at least one .40 caliber Glock pistol with him.
Holmes allegedly then opened fire on the sold-out theater just a short time after the movie began. Authorities said the 911 calls started to come in at 12:39 a.m. In the end, 71 people had been shot. The police chief said officers found Holmes in the parking lot behind the building. As of Friday afternoon, 10 bodies were still in the theater.
There was no credible information early after the massacre about what motivated the gunman. He was in custody, but it was unclear whether he was cooperating with authorities. Denver television KUSA reported that he was expected to make his first court appearance on Monday.
Meanwhile, Oates said bomb technicians were dealing with what appeared to be "sophisticated" booby traps rigged in Holmes' apartment. Five buildings in the area had to be evacuated.
Almost every major political leader in the U.S., including President Obama, offered their condolences by the end of the day. Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, however, offered a cold assessment of the gunman that had torn apart his state.
"This is the act apparently of a very deranged mind," Hickenlooper said. "We will come back stronger than ever, although obviously it will be a very, a very hard process."
The Brad Blog is the place to read up on the GOP stealing elections.
Here's another must read: How Walker Stole the Recall Election, by Dennis Kern.
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Here's Dave's Top Ten List from this Wednesday evening's Late Show With David Letterman: Questions on the Application to Become Mitt Romney's Running Mate.