Archive for June, 2010
I am a student of history. Professionally, I have written 15 books on history that have been published in six languages, and I have studied history all my life. I have come to think there is something monumentally large afoot, and I do not believe it is simply a banking crisis, or a mortgage crisis, or a credit crisis. Yes these exist, but they are merely single facets on a very large gemstone that is only now coming into a sharper focus.
Something of historic proportions is happening. I can sense it because I know how it feels, smells, what it looks like, and how people react to it. Yes, a perfect storm may be brewing, but there is something happening within our country that has been evolving for about ten to fifteen years. The pace has dramatically quickened in the past two.
We demand and then codify into law the requirement that our banks make massive loans to people we know they can never pay back? Why?
We learned just days ago that the Federal Reserve, which has little or no real oversight by anyone, has “loaned” two trillion dollars (that is $2,000,000,000,000) over the past few months, but will not tell us to whom or why or disclose the terms. That is our money. Yours and mine. And that is three times the $700 billion we all argued about so strenuously just this past September. Who has this money? Why do they have it? Why are the terms unavailable to us? Who asked for it? Who authorized it? I thought this was a government of “we the people,” who loaned our powers to our elected leaders. Apparently not.
We have spent two or more decades intentionally de-industrializing our economy.. Why?
We have intentionally dumbed down our schools, ignored our history, and no longer teach our founding documents, why we are exceptional, and why we are worth preserving. Students by and large cannot write, think critically, read, or articulate. Parents are not revolting, teachers are not picketing, school boards continue to back mediocrity. Why?
We have now established the precedent of protesting every close election (violently in California over a proposition that is so controversial that it simply wants marriage to remain defined as between one man and one woman. Did you ever think such a thing possible just a decade ago?) We have corrupted our sacred political process by allowing unelected judges to write laws that radically change our way of life, and then mainstream Marxist groups like ACORN and others to turn our voting system into a banana republic. To what purpose?
Now our mortgage industry is collapsing, housing prices are in free fall, major industries are failing, our banking system is on the verge of collapse, social security is nearly bankrupt, as is Medicare and our entire government. Our education system is worse than a joke (I teach college and I know precisely what I am talking about) – the list is staggering in its length, breadth, and depth.. It is potentially 1929 x ten….And we are at war with an enemy we cannot even name for fear of offending people of the same religion, who, in turn, cannot wait to slit the throats of your children if they have the opportunity to do so.
And finally, we have elected a man that no one really knows anything about, who has never run so much as a Dairy Queen, let alone a town as big as Wasilla , Alaska .. All of his associations and alliances are with real radicals in their chosen fields of employment, and everything we learn about him, drip by drip, is unsettling if not downright scary (Surely you have heard him speak about his idea to create and fund a mandatory civilian defense force stronger than our military for use inside our borders? No? Oh, of course. The media would never play that for you over and over and then demand he answer it. Sarah Palin’s pregnant daughter and $150,000 wardrobe are more important.)
Mr. Obama’s winning platform can be boiled down to one word: Change. Why?
I have never been so afraid for my country and for my children as I am now.
This man campaigned on bringing people together, something he has never, ever done in his professional life. In my assessment, Obama will divide us along philosophical lines, push us apart, and then try to realign the pieces into a new and different power structure. Change is indeed coming. And when it comes, you will never see the same nation again.
And that is only the beginning..
As a serious student of history, I thought I would never come to experience what the ordinary, moral German must have felt in the mid-1930s In those times, the “savior” was a former smooth-talking rabble-rouser from the streets, about whom the average German knew next to nothing. What they should have known was that he was associated with groups that shouted, shoved, and pushed around people with whom they disagreed; he edged his way onto the political stage through great oratory. Conservative “losers” read it right now.
And there were the promises. Economic times were tough, people were losing jobs, and he was a great speaker. And he smiled and frowned and waved a lot. And people, even newspapers, were afraid to speak out for fear that his “brown shirts” would bully and beat them into submission. Which they did – regularly. And then, he was duly elected to office, while a full-throttled economic crisis bloomed at hand – the Great Depression. Slowly, but surely he seized the controls of government power, person by person, department by department, bureaucracy by bureaucracy. The children of German citizens were at first, encouraged to join a Youth Movement in his name where they were taught exactly what to think. Later, they were required to do so. No Jews of course,
How did he get people on his side? He did it by promising jobs to the jobless, money to the money-less, and rewards for the military-industrial complex. He did it by indoctrinating the children, advocating gun control, health care for all, better wages, better jobs, and promising to re-instill pride once again in the country, across Europe , and across the world.. He did it with a compliant media – did you know that? And he did this all in the name of justice and ….. . .. change. And the people surely got what they voted for.
If you think I am exaggerating, look it up. It’s all there in the history books.
So read your history books.. Many people of conscience objected in 1933 and were shouted down, called names, laughed at, and ridiculed. When Winston Churchill pointed out the obvious in the late 1930s while seated in the House of Lords in England (he was not yet Prime Minister), he was booed into his seat and called a crazy troublemaker. He was right, though. And the world came to regret that he was not listened to.
Do not forget that Germany was the most educated, the most cultured country in Europe . It was full of music, art, museums, hospitals, laboratories, and universities. And yet, in less than six years (a shorter time span than just two terms of the U. S. presidency) it was rounding up its own citizens, killing others, abrogating its laws, turning children against parents, and neighbors against neighbors.. All with the best of intentions, of course. The road to Hell is paved with them.
As a practical thinker, one not overly prone to emotional decisions, I have a choice: I can either believe what the objective pieces of evidence tell me (even if they make me cringe with disgust); I can believe what history is shouting to me from across the chasm of seven decades; or I can hope I am wrong by closing my eyes, having another latte, and ignoring what is transpiring around me…
I choose to believe the evidence. No doubt some people will scoff at me, others laugh, or think I am foolish, naive, or both. To some degree, perhaps I am. But I have never been afraid to look people in the eye and tell them exactly what I believe-and why I believe it.
I pray I am wrong. I do not think I am. Perhaps the only hope is our vote in the next elections.
Jamestown , Rhode Island
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Friday, Jun 25, 2010 08:26 ET
By Glenn Greenwald
When The Washington Post’s Dana Priest first revealed (in passing) back in January that the Obama administration had compiled a hit list of American citizens targeted for assassination, she wrote that “as of several months ago, the CIA list included three U.S. citizens.” In April, both the Post and the NYT confirmed that the administration had specifically authorized the assassination of Anwar al-Awlaki. Today, The Washington Times’ Eli Lake has an interview with Obama’s top Terrorism adviser John Brennan in which Brennan strongly suggests that the number of U.S. citizens targeted for assassination could actually be “dozens”:
Dozens of Americans have joined terrorist groups and are posing a threat to the United States and its interests abroad, the president’s most senior adviser on counterterrorism and homeland security said Thursday. . . . “There are, in my mind, dozens of U.S. persons who are in different parts of the world, and they are very concerning to us,” said John O. Brennan, deputy White House national security adviser for homeland security and counterterrorism. . . .
“If a person is a U.S. citizen, and he is on the battlefield in Afghanistan or Iraq trying to attack our troops, he will face the full brunt of the U.S. military response,” Mr. Brennan said. “If an American person or citizen is in a Yemen or in a Pakistan or in Somalia or another place, and they are trying to carry out attacks against U.S. interests, they also will face the full brunt of a U.S. response. And it can take many forms.”
Nobody — or at least not me — disputes the right of the U.S. or any other country to kill someone on an actual battlefield during war without due process. That’s just obvious, but that’s not remotely what Brennan is talking about, and it’s not remotely what this assassination program is about. Indeed, Brennan explicitly identified two indistinguishable groups of American citizens who “will face the full brunt of a U.S. response”: (1) those “on the battlefield in Afghanistan or Iraq”; and (2) those “in a Yemen or in a Pakistan or in Somalia or another place.” In other words, the entire world is a “battlefield” — countries where there is a war and countries where there isn’t — and the President’s “battlefield” powers, which are unlimited, extend everywhere. That theory — the whole world is a battlefield, even the U.S. — was the core premise that spawned 8 years of Bush/Cheney radicalism, and it has been adopted in full by the Obama administration (indeed, it was that “whole-world-is-a-battlefield” theory which Elena Kagan explicitly endorsed during her confirmation hearing for Solicitor General).
Anyone who doubts that the Obama administration has adopted the core Terrorism policies of Bush/Cheney should listen to the concession — or boast — which Brennan himself made in his interview with Lake:
Mr. Brennan toward the end of the interview acknowledged that, despite some differences, there is considerable continuity between the counterterrorism policies of President Bush and President Obama.
“There has been a lot of continuity of effort here from the previous administration to this one,” he said. “There are some important distinctions, but sometimes there is too much made of those distinctions. We are building upon some of the good foundational work that has been done.”
I would really like never to hear again the complaint that comparing Bush and Obama’s Terrorism and civil liberties policies is unfair, invalid or hyperbolic given that Obama’s top Terrorism adviser himself touts that comparison. And that’s anything but a surprise, given that Brennan was a Bush-era CIA official who defended many of the most controversial Bush/Cheney Terrorism policies.
I’ve written at length about the reasons why targeting American citizens for assassination who are far away from a “battlefield” is so odious and tyrannical, and I won’t repeat those arguments here. Suffice to say — and I’m asking this literally — if you’re someone who believes, or are at least willing to acquiesce to the claim, that the U.S. President has the power to target your fellow citizens for assassination without a whiff of due process, what unchecked presidential powers wouldn’t you support or acquiesce to? I’d really like to hear an answer to that. That’s the question Al Gore asked about George Bush in a 2006 speech condemning Bush’s claimed powers merely to eavesdrop on and imprison American citizens without charges, let alone assassinate them: “If the answer is yes, then under the theory by which these acts are committed, are there any acts that can on their face be prohibited? . . . If the president has th[is] inherent authority. . . . then what can’t he do?” Can anyone defending this Obama policy answer that question?
One other thing that is truly amazing: the U.S. tried to import this same due-process-free policy to Afghanistan. There, the U.S. last year compiled a “hit list” of 50 Afghan citizens whose assassination it authorized on the alleged ground (never charged or convicted) that they were drug “kingpins” or funding the Talbian. You know what happened? This:
A U.S. military hit list of about 50 suspected drug kingpins is drawing fierce opposition from Afghan officials, who say it could undermine their fragile justice system and trigger a backlash against foreign troops. . . .
Gen. Mohammad Daud Daud, Afghanistan’s deputy interior minister for counternarcotics efforts . . . said he worried that foreign troops would now act on their own to kill suspected drug lords, based on secret evidence, instead of handing them over for trial . . . “They should respect our law, our constitution and our legal codes,” Daud . “We have a commitment to arrest these people on our own” . . . .
The U.S. military and NATO officials have authorized their forces to kill or capture individuals on the list, which was drafted within the past year as part of NATO’s new strategy to combat drug operations that finance the Taliban.. . . . “There is a constitutional problem here. A person is innocent unless proven guilty,” [Ali Ahmad Jalali, a former Afghan interior minister] said. “If you go off to kill or capture them, how do you prove that they are really guilty in terms of legal process?”
Read the entire article HERE.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Israel Today Staff
A flurry of news reports over the past week indicate that Israel and the US are readying for an imminent military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities.
On Wednesday, Iran’s semi-official Fars News Agency reported that about a week ago a squad of Israeli military aircraft landed at a military airstrip in Saudi Arabia, of all places. It was reported earlier this month that Saudi Arabia had agreed to let Israel pass through its airspace in order to strike Iran.
The Israeli aircraft reportedly landed at the airport in Tabuk in northwest Saudi Arabia, which according to the report will act as the central base of operations for the Israeli air campaign against Iran.
Fars cited a local Saudi resident who said the Israeli presence and cooperation between the ruling local Saudi prince and the Jewish state was the talk of the town.
Saudi Arabia does not have formal relations with Israel, and publicly refers to the Jewish state as an enemy. But Riyadh is just as fearful of an Iranian nuclear bomb as Israel, and would likely resort to any means to avoid having its regional economic influence disturbed.
At the same time, Iran’s Press TV reported that a very large contingent of US ground forces had massed in neighboring Azerbaijan. The independent Azerbaijani news website Trend confirmed the report.
Read the entire article HERE.
By Jeff Stein | June 23, 2010; 6:00 AM ET
The Central Intelligence Agency has hired Xe Services, the private security firm formerly known as Blackwater Worldwide, to guard its facilities in Afghanistan and elsewhere, according to an industry source.
The previously undisclosed CIA contract is worth about $100 million, said the industry source, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the deal, which is classified.
“It’s for protective services … guard services, in multiple regions,” said the source.
Two other security contractors, Triple Canopy and DynCorp International, put in losing bids for the CIA’s business, the source said. (A DynCorp spokeswoman says the company did not bid on the contract.)
The revelation comes only a day after members of a federal commission investigating war-zone contractors blasted the State Department for granting Blackwater with a new $120 million contract to guard U.S. consulates under construction in Afghanistan.
CIA spokesman Paul Gimigliano stopped short of confirming the contract, saying only that Xe personnel would not be involved in operations.
“While this agency does not, as a rule, comment on contractual relationships we may or may not have, we follow all applicable federal laws and regulations,” Gimigliano said.
The spokesman added, “We have a very careful process when it comes to procurement, and we take it seriously. We’ve also made it clear that personnel from Xe do not serve with CIA in any operational roles.”
Mark Corallo, a spokesman for Erik Prince, chairman of the board at Xe and owner of Prince Group — which owns Xe — said the firm would have no comment.
“Blackwater has undergone some serious changes,” maintained a U.S. official who is familiar with the deal and spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss it freely.
“They’ve had to if they want to survive. They’ve had to prove to the government that they’re a responsible outfit. Having satisfied every legal requirement, they have the right to compete for contracts. They have people who do good work, at times in some very dangerous places. Nobody should forget that, either.”
The Moyock, N.C.-based firm has been fighting off prosecutions and civil suits since a September 2007 incident in Baghdad, when its guards opened fire in a city square, allegedly killing 17 unarmed civilians and wounding 24.
In December a federal judge threw out charges against five of the alleged Blackwater shooters on procedural grounds, but the Justice Department is appealing the ruling.
Early this year German prosecutors launched a preliminary investigation into allegations that the CIA sent Blackwater operatives on an assassination mission against a suspected terrorist in Hamburg, Germany, in 2001.
In April, meanwhile, a federal grand jury indicted four of Prince’s former top deputies, including his legal counsel, and a fifth employee, on 15 counts of conspiracy, weapons and obstruction-of-justice charges.
Prince personally has not been charged with any crimes.
Members of the federal Commission on Wartime Contracting hammered a State Department official during a hearing Monday, repeatedly asking how much weight was given to Blackwater’s record when the decision was made to give the firm a new contract last week.
“I don’t want to guess,” said Charlene Lamb, the department’s assistant director of International Programs.
Apparently weary of all the controversy, Prince announced two weeks ago he was putting the company on the block.
Read the entire article HERE.
By James Quinn, US Business Editor
Published: 8:01PM BST 23 Jun 2010
The Federal Open Markets Committee (FOMC) of America’s central bank voted 9-1 in favour of maintaining its federal funds rate at a range of 0pc-0.25pc for the 13th meeting in a row, as it adopted a somewhat cautious stance on future growth.
The central bank, chaired by Ben Bernanke, for the first time gave a formal nod to the problems in Greece and Spain and other eurozone nations struggling with high debt levels.
“Financial conditions have become less supportive of economic growth on balance, largely reflecting developments abroad,” the FOMC statement warned. Until now the rate-setting committee had consistently said that “financial market conditions remain supportive of economic growth.”
Coming ahead of this weekend’s G20 meeting in Toronto, the comments will encourage the heads of the world’s leading economies to co-ordinate policies and ensure European austerity measures do not restrict growth.
The rest of the statement remained largely as it has done on previous occasions, with the Fed noting that the economic recovery is “proceeding” and that the labour market is “improving gradually.”
It went on to say once again that it believes interest rates will be held at these levels for “an extended period”.
For the fourth consecutive meeting Tom Hoenig, president of the Kansas Federal Reserve, disagreed with the consensus to hold rates, row, saying they are “no longer warranted.”
The decision came soon after news that sales of new houses fell by 32.7pc in May as prospective buyers homebuyers stalled following the removal of the government’s tax incentive for first-time buyers.
Based on the new data, economist now predict 300,000 sales of new home for the whole year – the lowest level since records began in 1963.
Patrick Newport, US economist at IHS Global Insight, attributed the slowdown to the removal of the tax credit, saying that “going forward sales should improve”.
However, he did point out one “statistical eyesore”, noting “the median time to sell a home is still near a record high. For builders, market conditions remain brutal. But things should be looking up soon.”
Read the entire article HERE.
The city of Maywood will lay off all city employees and begin contracting police services with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department effective July 1, officials said.
In addition to contracting with the Sheriff’s Department, the Maywood City Council voted unanimously Monday night to lay off an estimated 100 employees and contract with neighboring Bell, which will handle other city services such as finance, records management, parks and recreation, street maintenance and others. Maywood will be billed about $50,833 monthly, which officials said will save $164,375 annually.
“We will become 100% a contracted city,” said Angela Spaccia, Maywood’s interim city manager.
Deputies from the East Los Angeles Sheriff’s Station will begin patrolling the 1.2-square-mile city by the end of the month, said Capt. Bruce Fogarty of the Sheriff’s Contract Law Enforcement Bureau. The annual cost of providing those services for the small city is estimated at $3.6 million, Fogarty said.
At a council meeting Monday night, city leaders said they were forced to dismantle the Police Department and lay off city workers because they lost insurance coverage as a result of excessive police claims filed against the department. They also blamed years of financial abuse and corruption from the previous council.
“We’re limited on our choices and limited on what we can do,” Councilman Felipe Aguirre told the standing- room-only crowd.
Frustrated and enraged residents blame the council for the city’s predicament, and for not following an insurance agency’s recommendations, which council members had agreed to last August. The recommendations included hiring a permanent city manager.
Some suggested that city leaders should step down.
“You guys had the power to change it and you didn’t,” said City Treasurer Lizeth Sandoval, 28, who addressed the council as a resident. “You single-handedly destroyed the city.”
Sandoval, a city employee, will be laid off as part of the cuts.
Local activists, who refer to themselves as “A Group for a Better Maywood,” announced their intention to recall four of the council members: Felipe Aguirre, Edward Varela, Vice Mayor Veronica Guardado and Mayor Ana Rosa Rizo. The same group sought a similar recall in 2008 and failed.
Read the entire article HERE.
NEW YORK (TheStreet) — Gold price manipulation is the most controversial theory that has circulated among gold bugs for 20 years.
Conspiracy theorists think that gold prices have been illegally suppressed over the last two decades by central banks and governments. GATA or Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee is the biggest complainant.
Central banks reportedly have 32,000 tons of gold, with the International Monetary Fund accounting for 2,800 tons. Under the Washington Agreement on Gold, its members can only sell a maximum of 400 tons a year thereby restricting the amount of gold in the open market place.
GATA argues that central banks in actuality have less than 15,000 tons of gold and that the missing gold has been secretly sold into the market preventing gold prices from rising to their actual price, which helps the country’s paper currency, bonds and interest rates. The suppression theory means that global economies are in worse financial shape than investors think and that gold should be bought as the ultimate safe haven.
The New York Post recently reported that the the Commodities Futures Trade Commission and the Department of Justice have launched criminal and civil probes into JPMorgan’s trading in the silver market to determine if the investment bank depressed the silver price for their advantage. There are also rumors circulating that a major New York law firm will launch a similar lawsuit against the investment bank.
I interviewed Chris Powell, secretary and treasurer of GATA to get the facts of this alleged manipulation.
Can you explain the basics of silver/gold manipulation?
Powell : Gold, and to a lesser extent, silver are currencies. Governments have intervened in the gold market in the open throughout history. Our complaint is that more often now they’re doing it surreptitiously as a mechanism of supporting their currencies, supporting government bonds and suppressing interest rates.
So can you break it down, how the government is doing it on the sly as you said?
Powell: Yes, the manipulation of the gold market now is achieved through two mechanisms mainly. One is the outright sale or leasing of central bank gold reserves to add gold to the market. The other is the sale of futures and options, gold derivatives by the big investment banks that have special relationships with the central banks, particularly with the Federal Reserve. These are essentially naked short positions in the gold and silver markets.
We believe they are pretty much backed up by the central banks, which will, at least in the gold market, provide whatever gold is necessary when somebody actually wants to remove gold from the system to really liquidate a position. The problem is the gold supply has been inflated in the futures market so there’s so much more gold paper out there than there really is gold.
For someone who has no idea what this means, how do the central banks lease to the bullion banks?.
Powell: It basically began as a carry trade. It was in the interest of most central banks and the investment banks. The central banks would lend gold at a very low interest rate, perhaps 1% to an investment bank. The investment bank in turn would sell the gold for cash and use the cash to fund its operations.
And this worked very well for the investment houses as long as they had some confidence that the gold price would not rise and destroy the carry trades. Central banks liked it because it kept the price of gold, the competitive currency down. It kept interest rates down. It supported the government bonds and the government currencies. Now this carry trade is breaking up a bit. We think because central banks are running out of gold that they can distort.
So that doesn’t seem so bad. You lease gold, it goes into the markets. So what’s the problem?
Powell: Well the problem is it’s surreptitious. It’s a matter of deceiving the gold market and more importantly, the currency and government bond markets as to what the government is doing. It also gives inside information to the investment houses that are working the trades that the government wants done. It’s a grand deceit. If it was done in the open, people would understand what the government policy was. But open policy would not have the effect of deceiving the markets. If you remove the deceit from the gold pricing scheme, the scheme is of very little use.
How long do the investment banks get to lease the gold for, from central banks?
Powell: The leases may be written in limited periods of a year or two years or three years. We believe that most of the central bank gold sales, or supposed gold sales in recent years, were not really gold sales at all. They were cash settlement of lease gold that could not be recovered and returned to the central bank without causing a huge spike in gold prices.
Continue the article HERE.
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06/25/10 Update (Oil Balls washing up on beaches):
When you pour more than a million gallons of toxic chemical dispersants on top of an oil spill, it doesn’t just disappear. In this case, it moves to the atmosphere, where it will travel hundreds, if not thousands of miles from the site of the BP oil spill, in the form of toxic rain.
BP’s oil spill-fighting dispersant of choice is Corexit 9500. It has been banned in Europe for good reason. Corexit 9500 is one of the most environmentally enduring, toxic chemical dispersants ever created to battle an oil spill. Add to that the millions of gallons of oil that have been burned, releasing even more toxins into the atmosphere, and you have a recipe for something much worse than acid rain.
Oil in the environment is toxic at 11 PPM (parts per million). Corexit 9500 is toxic at only 2.61 PPM. But Corexit 9500 has another precarious characteristic; it’s reaction to warm water.
As the water in the Gulf of Mexico heats up, Corexit 9500 goes through a molecular transition. It changes from a liquid to a gas, which is readily absorbed by clouds and released as toxic rain. The chemical-laden rain then falls on crops, reservoirs, animals and of course, people.
What makes ‘Corexit rain’ so frightening are the carcinogens it will leave behind on everything is touches. Acid rain will be considered genial after it is inevitably replaced by the far more virulent ‘Corexit rain.’
It is futile to believe that we can keep ‘Corexit rain’ from occurring – it has already been released and the molecular transformation has begun. We have set off an unprecedented chain of events in nature that we cannot control.
By releasing Pandora’s well from the depths and allowing it bleed into the sea at a rate of 2.5 million gallons of oil a day, the unimaginable becomes material.
Yet unlike a bad dream, we will not wake up from this nightmare and find it gone. The BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill will be touching millions of earth’s life forms for uncountable years.
Read the entire article HERE.