Saturday, 4 October 2008

Beware of my hunger and anger

Tunnels feed besieged Gaza


"Hundreds of tunnels under the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt are keeping many of the Palestinian territory's 1.5 million impoverished residents supplied with food and fuel.

On Saturday, Egyptian authorities found the entrances of three tunnels and confiscated a large amount of fuel about to be smuggled into the territory.

Sources say there are more than 6,000 Palestinians employed in the clandestine industry, which merchants say is heavily controlled by the Hamas authorities. Strict rules are imposed on what can be brought in - weapons, drugs and people-trafficking are prohibited - and tunnel operators are taxed.

Ehab Gheissen, a Hamas spokesman, said: "It is the right of the Palestinian people to do whatever they can to break the siege they live under. "They have a right to do whatever they can to get what they need, including through tunnels, but at the same time we are watching all of the things that are being brought in."

Basic necessities

The tunnels were previously used to smuggle weapons to fight the Israeli occupation, but the blockade that was enforced after Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007 has made the smuggling of basic supplies a necessity.

Shortages have sent prices of flour and milk soaring, and the industry established around the tunnel smuggling system is now worth millions of dollars.

Sami Abdel Shafi, a Gaza-based business analyst, said: "These days, most of the anecdotal evidence we hear is that the tunnels are being used to bring in very human items, for lack of proper medicine in the Gaza Strip. "They are used to bring in shoes, chocolate and 7-Up, things like that. "Then again, all of the quantities being brought in are being blown out of proportion I feel, 1.5 million people deserve a lot more than having to operate under ground, they deserve a much better chance at operating an economy above ground."

Al Jazeera's Ayman Mohyeldin visited a nondescript warehouse in Rafah where one tunnel operator was waiting for merchants to pick up the goods that they had ordered. A diverse range of items, such as cigarettes, teacups and spare parts for motorcycles, were among the items awaiting collection.

But no matter how important the tunnels are in keeping the Palestinian economy going, there is a human cost. At least 35 people have died in the tunnels since the beginning of the year, according to the UN......."

Gaza's Only Growth Industry

By Nadia W. Awad for MIFTAH

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After Hamas defeated Fatah in the 'Battle for Gaza' in June 2007, the Hamas-led government became solely responsible for the Gaza Strip. Israel, the US and the rest of the international community refused to deal with them and embarked on a form of collective punishment, imposing an economic and political blockade on the Strip. These blockades have plummeted the people of Gaza into a humanitarian disaster of gigantic proportions. When people such as Lauren Booth (sister-in-law of former British PM Tony Blair) call Gaza the world's largest concentration camp, or the world's largest open-air prison, they are not exaggerating. More than 1.4 million Palestinians are surrounded by Israeli soldiers on one side, Egyptian soldiers on another, with the sea visibly taunting them with its apparent openness. Of course, it is not open. Israel's navy blockades Gaza from that side as well. Goods are not allowed across Gaza's borders in either direction. Even essential items such as medical equipment are prohibited, while only some humanitarian assistance is allowed in. Israel tends to summarily switch off water and power to thousands, as well as prevent fuel deliveries from entering Gaza. Hence, Gazans truly live at the mercy of Israel. Yet despite these tribulations which would normally destroy one's will to live, Gazans have found a way of venting the economic blockade imposed on them. Allow me to introduce you to Gaza's only growth industry: the tunnel trade.

Gaza's infamous tunnels are rumored to exist in the hundreds, up to 500 by some reports, passing under Israel's buffer zone with Egypt. Before Israel unilaterally withdrew to Gaza's borders, the Israeli army cleared a 300 meter wide buffer zone along the border with Egypt by demolishing more than 2,500 Palestinian houses, mostly in Rafah, a densely populated refugee camp. This 10-mile long border with Egypt, also known as 'Tunnel Town', is home to these hand-dug tunnels which supply everything from medical supplies to food to weapons. They also supply luxury goods such as clothing, laptops, and cigarettes. There is no doubt, these tunnels have saved lives. As a result, the Hamas-led government cannot prohibit or prevent them from being dug. Such an unpopular decision would probably spell political suicide for them, and their support is already weakening as the siege on Gaza continues. But while these tunnels may save lives, they also cost lives.

The tunnels are extremely dangerous at the best of times, with their walls propped up only by makeshift wooden planks. Sometimes, though not always, they can be equipped with ventilation pumps to allow the diggers to breathe something other than dust and sand. The diggers, ranging from young children to men in their 50s and 60s, are all desperate for work to feed their families. Most of them have no choice in the matter if they want to work at all. In 2007, unemployment in Gaza reached a staggeringly high 45% of the work force.

Since the beginning of 2008, 45 Palestinians have died in these tunnels. Some died while digging them; others died after Egyptian or Israeli efforts to destroy them. Until a ceasefire was reached between Israel and Hamas, Israel used to routinely bomb 'Tunnel Town' from the air. Egyptian authorities, on the other hand, mostly turned a blind eye towards the tunnels. However, due to increasing Israeli and American pressure, Egypt has recently adopted a new stance towards the tunnels, opting to destroy them upon discovery, especially as the tunnels are also used to smuggle weapons into the Strip. Explosives are the most successful method of destroying tunnels irrevocably, but according to reports and interviews, Egypt has also been known to flush water, sewage, and poison gas down the tunnels. The saddest part of all this is that neither the Israelis nor the Egyptians check to make sure that the tunnels are empty before they begin their operations.

Unfortunately, as history has shown over and over, there are always those individuals who profit from other people's suffering and misfortune. While it is clear that these tunnels are like a breath of fresh air for Gazans, this air comes at a heavy monetary price. According to interviews with tunnel workers, gangs including both Gazan and Egyptian individuals are earning tens of thousands of dollars a week, charging premiums of up to 150% on their cargos. As this trade becomes more profitable, smuggled goods become even more expensive, leaving fewer people able to afford even the most essential of goods. However, as long as the economic blockade is maintained, this tunnel trade will continue to flourish. After all, beggars cannot be choosers.

What is more important than this story of tunnel digging, smuggled goods, and profits is the reason these tunnels came about in the first place. I have already mentioned that unemployment is at 45%. This is an official World Bank estimate. Unofficial reports suggest that unemployment is much higher, nearer to 80%. More than 80% of Gazans live under the poverty line, with 35% of them living in what is considered extreme poverty. The blockade on Gaza has also led to the suspension of 95% of Gaza's industrial operations. With no job prospects, no investment, and no trading, Gaza will drown in its own poverty. The only thing stopping it from going under completely is the intermittent arrival of humanitarian assistance and Hamas government wages. Unless the blockade is ended, this humanitarian crisis will worsen, tunnel trading will grow, and more and more people will turn to desperate measures to survive. While Israel and the world are hoping that this economic siege will force Gazans to overthrow Hamas, they must know that Palestinians will not submit to this type of blackmail. If Hamas is ever removed from power, it will be because the Palestinians democratically made that choice.

As long as Gazans are subjected to this inhumane siege placed upon them by an international community which claims it does not condone collective punishment, the tunnel building will continue despite the dangers. As Mahmoud Darwish said on behalf of all Palestinians, "I hate nobody. And I don't steal. But if I'm made to starve, I'll eat the flesh of my oppressor. Beware of my hunger and anger!"

As Mahmoud Darwish said on behalf of all Palestinians, "I hate nobody. And I don't steal. But if I'm made to starve, I'll eat the flesh of my oppressor. Beware of my hunger and anger!"

Related Links:

Holocaust denier gets MP backing

British courts should refuse to act on an EU arrest warrant requesting the extradition of an alleged Holocaust denier, a senior Lib Dem has said.

Australian citizen Dr Gerald Toben was remanded in custody after his arrest by British Police at Heathrow Airport.

German authorities allege Dr Toben published material online "of an anti-semitic and/or revisionist nature".

But home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne said holocaust denial is not a crime in the UK and he should not be extradited.

Dr Toben, a German-born former schoolteacher, was en route from the United States to Dubai when he was arrested.

He has been remanded in custody ahead of a bail hearing on 10 October and a full hearing on 17 October.

He has previously been convicted in Germany for breaking a law that prohibits denying or "playing down" the mass murder of the Jews under Hitler.

We don't in this country tend to prosecute people for issues that we regard as issues of freedom of speech

But some human rights campaigners have backed his case, saying that his views - however unpleasant - do not make him a criminal in the UK.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), acting for the German authorities, argues that agreements signed in 2003 between the UK and other European countries mean that Britain is duty-bound to assist the German authorities.

But Mr Huhne, a former MEP, told BBC Radio 4's Today Programme that countries could "pick and choose" cases in which they would apply warrants issued by fellow EU member states.

The Lib Dem home affairs spokesman said there were good legal grounds for refusing to participate. He cited the case of Belgium, which is refusing to send suspects to Poland on murder charges which related to abortion.

Mr Huhne said: "There is a clear precedent for doing this and I think we should in this case."

Dr Toben has in the past described the Holocaust as "a lie" and has claimed on his Australian-based website, the Adelaide Institute, there was "no proof" Hitler systematically exterminated the Jews.

'Pretty dodgy'

While stressing that he was completely opposed to anti-semitism, Mr Huhne said: "We don't in this country tend to prosecute people for issues that we regard as issues of freedom of speech."

Mr Huhne said the case seemed "pretty dodgy" given the fact the offence was not committed in Germany.

In his court appearance earlier this week, Dr Toben, 64, claimed he was the victim of a "legal ambush" and promised never to return to Britain if he was allowed to leave.

Judges will decide whether the alleged conduct constitutes an extraditable offence.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Friday, 3 October 2008

In the Quiet Between the Lightning and the Thunder.


(rich vs.poor here too)

Thursday, October 2

Contibuted by ritalin

Thursday, October 2
In the Quiet Between the Lightning and the Thunder.

We’re in the coiling moments before the strike… the windup. It’s a different kind of windup than the one that’s been practiced on us for so long. I like to stay away from spooky predictions at this blog. I sense and feel a lot of things that I don’t mention but today I want to mention them because I’m getting some strange sensations about next week and the rest of the year. There’s too many weird things happening; half a million coffins in Georgia… those FEMA camps… those thousands of soldiers ready to be deployed in defiance of Posse Comitatus which got neutered for just such a purpose… and there are other things …but first… first I want to say a little more about ‘the bailout’.

You are where you are today because of the policies of President Shit-Gollum and his puppet-masters. If I am not mistaken, the last time there was a bailout the same idea that the banks would then be able to loan out the money was also the intended result. If I remember correctly, they sat on the money instead. It’s also curious to note that the tax breaks that President Shit-for-Brains gave the rich adds up to close to the money they’re talking about here. I’d also like to mention that the now, eight hundred billion they want to steal from the American people, isn’t going to solve the problem because we actually have trillions in bad debt and… there’s the question of the price that will be paid for the bad paper and… to what extent will the value be inflated over what it is actually worth? Don’t kid yourself about that.

What the public should do is storm Congress and drag these miscreants out into the street and strip them naked… roll them in pig shit, or their own, same difference and whip them down Constitution Avenue and across Key Bridge. What the public should do is automatically vote out every one of the criminals who vote for the bailout. The only platform any opponent needs is to say, “He/she voted for this.”

The bailout is going to have about the same impact on the fortunes of the American people as the rescue efforts had on the people in Louisiana after Katrina. Until you remove the people responsible for the problems you cannot expect, unless you are a moron, that they will fix the problem. They ARE the problem. Well, you’ll see. You’ll see where you are after they give your money away to the people whose business is based on stealing it from you in the first place.

I’m going to go on record here and say that this isn’t going to work and I doubt that that is the intention anyway. You’re not dealing with human beings here. You are dealing with swine. They’ve abdicated their humanity in favor of certain animal characteristics that satisfy the lower nature. They are not human beings. Human beings don’t behave like this. For whatever the reason, there are a lot of them about in these times.

I don’t know what the penalties are likely to be but I suggest that everyone within a few hundred miles of New York City travels to the nearest farm and buys as much pig shit or cow shit or whatever you can find and drive on over to Wall Street and start throwing it at the traders and stockbrokers and lawyers… anybody in a suit. Throw it at the doors of The Exchange and all of the firms and offices in the area. It will be worth it. The memory alone will carry you for decades. Animal blood… heads… body parts… be creative. I’d say more about this bailout but plenty of people are …and you can go and read what they have to say if you want to hear more about it.

This time we are in is the quiet between the act and the aftermath. When you see lightning, it is said that every second you can count before the thunder is heard is a determinant of how far away the lightning was. Something impressively big and ugly is on the way. It’s in the mail. It’s traveling to its destination. The plans have left the draftsman’s table and the foundry is in operation. Soon, the product will appear. It’s some kind of 9/11 and it’s on the way. The Iranian stooges have come off the assembly line at Tavistock. The trails are being laid and the evidence is being planted. The Bin Laden Boogeyman night light is in the socket. Soon we’ll be able to watch our fearless leaders sweat gravitas all over the television set. News-casting Ken and Barbie dolls wearing six kinds of deodorant are going to get their chance to talk like they were announcing a tense golf tournament. It will be all awe and whispers that grow into outrage and violence carried out by the people who actually carried out the attack.

If you’ve been traveling around the internet in the last few months you’ve come across a whole lot of suspicious activity. If you’ve watched the legislations of the last eight years you’ve seen what looks like a deliberate plan to put as much power as possible into the hands of the people most likely to abuse it. We’ve had bad presidents before who have changed the country in ways that have reduced the quality of life for everyone but those who use the public as a food source. Ronald ‘McDonald’ Reagan comes to mind. He’s proof positive that a lot of people are a great deal more stupid than one might think possible. But there’s never been anything like what you have now. These people assisted in an attack on their own country. Along with agents of certain foreign governments, especially Israel, these people committed treason and murder many times over and just want to do it some more.

If you haven’t seen the various preparations taking place then you’ve been asleep. If you think they won’t do it again… or worse… you are a fool. There’s a lot of talk about October 7th and there are indications from many sources that the following months are going to be very freaky and dark. I can tell you that without needing to consult arcane modalities or metaphysical agencies. All indicators are pointing in that direction. Look at the tension and uncertainty on all sides. Listen to the threats based on manufactured intelligence and outright lies. Look at the hypnotic state of the lumpen proles. Look at the vacuous superficiality that oozes like malignant treacle from print and electronic media. Take a look around. Open your eyes. Remove the earphones. See if it is possible for you to stop your mind from looping the jingles in your head and take a good look.

I have no way of knowing about particular dates but I do know that you can see the future in the movements of the present. You can look at the past and see the possibilities based on what has happened before. Everything that happens has happened before. Oh it may wear a different outfit and it may dance to a different tune but the beat is the same.

The best place not to be is in an urban setting. Whatever happens and however far it spreads, it will be in the cities where the heavy stuff goes down. Never underestimate the power of the basic survival instincts ability to turn a man into a beast in a very short time. The patina of civilization is a thin veneer. The trouble coming will continue to increase until those causing it are stopped… by whatever it takes. The people in power have no intention of relinquishing it and the election is coming up. It shouldn’t be hard to figure out. Consider the players involved and what is at stake. Consider the mentality of the players and what is at stake. After that, it’s just a matter of what particular action they intend to take… there can be no doubt about their motivations.

It is time to become very watchful and past time to be somewhere far away from major population centers. For a great many people this just isn’t possible. It could be that there will be warnings that are sufficient and powerful enough to wake people up so that they can head for the hills. I’d like to hope that I am just being an alarmist. I’d be glad to find out that I was. If anything, I suspect that I am being reserved. For many… hindsight is going to be a powerful reminder in the aftermath.

Graveyards of the Heart

Posted by Visible at 2:32 PM

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Has Syria become a dangerous place?

Hizbullah orders its men not to visit Syria

Lebanese media report organization has issued 'travel advisory' to its members following Mugniyah assassination, car bomb explosion in Damascus last Saturday. Senior Hamas members in Syrian capital on high alert as well

Roee Nahmias
10.01.08, 12:27 / Israel News

Hizbullah has instructed its men, particularly senior members involved in the organization's security, to refrain completely from visiting Syria until further notice, Lebanese media reported Wednesday.

The instruction was issued following the explosion of a car bomb in Damascus last Saturday, which left 17 people dead, including a high-ranking military officer.

More Threats

According to Lebanese media, Hizbullah asked its men to take precaution during their visits to the Syrian capital following the assassination of the organization's military leader, Imad Mugniyah. Now, following the car bomb, the request was changed to a stark instruction to halt all visits to Syria.

According to the report, for years Hizbullah viewed Syria as a safe place for its members, where there was no need for the strict precautions used in Lebanon, but now the organization has changed its perception and views Syria as a dangerous place.

The policy was changed after Hizbullah realized that Syria has become significantly penetrable for the activity of radical Islamic groups, and that the Syrian security organizations have failed to discover who was responsible for the car bomb explosion.

According to the report, Hamas leaders living in Damascus also decided to take unusual security measures following the Mugniyah assassination. In the past, Syria's security organizations were exclusively responsible for their safety.

The Syrian security organizations are experiencing problems on two levels, the report said. On the one hand, they are penetrable to radical Islamic groups which have entered Syria and settled in the country, and on the other hand, they are penetrable to foreign security organizations, leading to security concerns in Syria.

'Car bomb aimed at undermining stability'
Meanwhile, a Syrian security source reported that the country's security organizations have exposed the cell responsible for Saturday's attack. The source told Syrian newspaper al-Watan that all cell members were citizens of Arab states and none of them were Syrian.

According to the source, the car accidentally exploded in a neighborhood in south Damascus, and was actually meant to be detonated in a different place. The accident happened "due to reasons which will be revealed later on," the source said.

He added that "the investigation being conducted shows that the cell planned to undermine the security and stability in Syria through instructions it received by the elements financing it."



lucia said...

UP, did you see this article?

I've read another piece informing that Syria has massed 10.000 troops at the border with Lebanon. I saw it yesterdan but cannot remember where, I'll try to search for it. This step was adopted, apparently, after Muallem talked with Rice (a green light to invade?)

Some western media are spreading zio-hasbara sayind that Palestinian refugees abroad, specially in Lebanon are getting radicalised and "approaching salafism"

...... what leads us ask why the salafists have been and are being sent there. I only see the response pointing at undermining Hezbollah and Syria and the same liquidating Palestinians in Lebanon under the cover of fighting salafist groups. Nahr-el-Bared revisited.-
7:18 AM, October 01, 2008

uprooted Palestinian said...

Yes, Lucia I read aL-akhbar daily, Syria has massed 25.000 troops at the border with Lebanon, and a similar number at th Iraqi borders, before the meeting of Rice and Moallim. It was said that Syria, would follow the steps of Russia and interven in Lebanon, and that Assad hinted to that option during the summit with Sarkozi, Turky and Qutar, and that hint forced Saad Al-Hariri, to hurry to Tripoly to release the tension.I personally think that Syria. unless obliged fot its own security shall not intervene in Lebanon.
7:46 AM, October 01, 2008

lucia said...

Here are three more articles on this issue.Tension grows between Syria and Lebanon

after bombings

Syria urges security cooperation on Lebanon borderSyria encouraged by U.S. talks

The piece I mentioned above (re massing troops) is none of these thee. I think I saw it on yahoo news and has already been sent to archives, but I'll continue digging for it
7:37 AM, October 01, 2008


"...... what leads us ask why the salafists have been and are being sent there. I only see the response pointing at undermining Hezbollah and Syria and the same liquidating Palestinians in Lebanon under the cover of fighting salafist groups. Nahr-el-Bared revisited.-"


You are hundred percent right, the majority of Fath alislam in Nahr albarid were, were not lebanese, not palestinians. It is well know that Qaeda assasinated Hariri, and 13 members invoved are jailed at RUME PRISON.

They were sent to Lebanon, to be used by Hari, He used to say, Me or Qaeda.

Their second mission is destoying Palestinian camps, to pave the way for transfering Palestinian. They did it in nahr albarid, and would repeat it in Ein Al Helwi, where they have strong presence (Zund Ahsam, and Usbat Al-ansar).

The third mission is fighting Hezbullah, and the fouth is distablise Syria.
They succeeded in Tripoly, because Hezbullah has no efficient presence in the North, therefore, Syria would act if necessary,

You heard that Quarazy, asked king Abdullah to use his influence on Talban... Connect the dots

fatima said...
UPI have heard Mr Aniss al Naqash saying that Hariri personal planes bring salafists into the North Lebanon . (to use them when needed didnt they have their own bank accounts in the Banque Meditaranee ? )
12:57 PM, October 01, 2008

Fatima and Lucia
The following article shed mor ligt on the facts said on above comments

The Explosions in Damascus and Tripoli

Bombs in the Levant

Two bombings in three days have rattled both Syria and Lebanon. And as with most events in the Middle East—especially those that occur in neighboring countries—nothing happens by coincidence.

The first took place in Damascus on Sept. 26, killing 17, all civilians. According to Syria’s state run news agency SANA, the attack was the result of a suicide car bomber. This past Monday, a second car bomb, this time detonated via remote-control, targeted a bus filled with Lebanese soldiers in the northern city of Tripoli, killing seven and injuring 33.

Although no group claimed responsibility for either incident, the perpetrators are well aware that the location of the two blasts and their intended victims are all that are needed to identify them.

Twin Attacks?

The Damascus bombing occurred at the junction of a road leading from the airport to the shrine of Sayyida Zainab, an important pilgrimage site for Shia Muslims. Shias from all over the world visit the shrine, but most frequently those from Lebanon, Iraq and Iran. Interestingly, the site of the blast was also near a Syrian intelligence building. More intriguing, a statement denouncing the bombing was conspicuously absent from Saudi Arabia, unlike most other Arab countries. Even the United States State Department saw fit to condemn it.

In Tripoli, those responsible obviously had the Lebanese Army in their sights. Indeed, Tripoli has been a hotbed of Sunni Muslim extremism in Lebanon, especially since the siege of Nahr al-Bared over a year ago. At that time, a group calling itself Fatah al-Islam took over the Palestinian refugee camp just outside Tripoli, and a three-month long battle with the Lebanese Army ensued. The Salafi militants, following the same fundamentalist form of Islam as al-Qaeda, were ultimately defeated but not before inflicting heavy casualties on the Army.

More recently, fighting in the city erupted between Sunni Muslims supportive of Rafiq Hariri’s Future Movement and Alawites allied with Hezbollah. The longstanding dispute finally ended after the “Tripoli Document” was signed in September by Hariri and Ali Eid, head of the Arab Democratic Party and leader of the Alawite community. [It was signed after Syria massed troops on the borders] Again, it was the Lebanese Army that needed intervene to end the sectarian conflict.

Ironically, it was Rafiq Hariri himself, as detailed by The New Yorker’s investigative reporter Seymour Hersh, who first rolled out the welcome mat in Lebanon for extremist groups such as Fatah al-Islam as a way of curtailing Hezbollah’s influence in the country (before the agreement backfired). [this confirm what Fatima said ]

These fact make the U.S.-backed Hariri—a dual Lebanese, Saudi citizen—appear even more hypocritical and ridiculous when he blamed the Syrian government for the Tripoli attack, especially since Damascus was the victim itself only days earlier, likely at the hands of the same type of militants.

New Arrivals

But why two attacks, in two different countries, against two different targets?

It was the pan-Arab daily, Al-Hayat, which broke the news that will shed some light on this question:

"Al-Qaeda representatives are in Lebanon at present and they are trying to establish contact with [certain] groups based in Ain al-Hilwah."

Ain al-Hilwah, located on the eastern outskirts of the southern port city of Sidon, is home to anywhere between 45,000-70,000 Palestinian refugees. The uncertainty in population is reflective of it being the largest and most autonomous of all the 12 Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon. Ain al-Hilwa is also completely off-limits to the country’s armed forces and security is the responsibility of the factions within it.

According to the Jordanian security official quoted in the story, Saudi, Yemeni, Jordanian and European nationals departing Iraq have infiltrated Ain al-Hilwah—no doubt under cover of its internal disputes—in order to enlist disgruntled Palestinians to their cause. Local militant groups already present there and considered sympathetic to al-Qaeda include Jund al-Sham, the Ansar League, and Fatah al-Islam.

The hallmark of al-Qaeda is sowing sectarian strife. And there is no better recruitment ground to help in this endeavor than the teeming Palestinian refugee camps such as Nahr al-Bared and especially Ain al-Hilwah. The latter is completely isolated from the rest of the country and its disenfranchised, disaffected Sunni Muslim inhabitants make them an ideal constituency.

Hezbollah though, is keenly aware of these circumstances and overtures and has proactively attempted to counter them. As so well reported by Dr. Franklin Lamb, they have done this through humanitarian outreach, by providing municipal assistance in the form of sewer and water projects, and successfully lobbying the government to issue Palestinians temporary identification cards, all not insignificant measures.

Rallying the Troops

It was al-Qaeda’s Ayman al-Zawahiri, in a videotaped message released in early September, who lambasted Hezbollah for allowing “thousands of crusaders”—otherwise known as United Nations peacekeepers—into the south after the July 2006 war with Israel. He additionally assailed nearly all Shia political and religious figures in the region.

Quite remarkably, a “memorandum of understanding” had been signed earlier in August between (Shia) Hezbollah and the Salafi Belief and Justice Movement. For this to occur between two groups at opposite ends of the ideological spectrum was stunning (Salafis consider Shia Muslims as heretics at best and non-Muslims at worst). But because of the outrage and intense pressure levied against it by other Salafi movements, the agreement was frozen only a few days later.

Although al-Qaeda and their allies are far from posing a direct military threat to Hezbollah, this was never their modus operandi. Rather, they will attempt to achieve their objectives by creating conditions giving pretext to the Israelis to strike Lebanon, launching attacks on UNIFIL forces, or assassinating high-profile figures in the country so as to foment political instability.

The Damascus and Tripoli bombings are thus meant to convey one simple message:

We have arrived.

Rannie Amiri is an independent commentator on the Arab and Islamic worlds. He may be reached at: rbamiri


lucia said...

UP, check this out:
Officer linked to Hariri killing was target of Syria blast: reports
9:02 PM, October 01, 2008


According to DEBKAfile
Brig-Gen. Abdul-Karim Abbas head of the Syrian intelligence Palestinian department is on the list of 6 Syrian officers UN Hariri investigator Detlev Mehlis wants for interrogation in Lebanon

I checked your Link, but who would kill him? The Syrians could have done it without killing innocents, and hurting the their security image.


Sep 29, 2008
No Syrian intelligence officer killed in the blast

AKI reported few minutes ago that a Syrian Brigadier Abdul-Karim Abbas, Vice-Chairman in the Syrian intelligence, is assassinated in yesterday’s explosion. The Brigadier is questioned earlier and linked to Hariri assassination.

Lebanese website Elnashra denied this report saying Brigadier Abbas is still alive, and an army Brigadier George Garbi is killed [with his son in the car], he was coincidentally driving in the area when the blast took place.

Elnashra is an independent news source (leaning towards the opposition

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Bailout Rejected,EU Urges US to Take Responsibilities

Bailout Rejected,EU Urges US to Take Responsibilities
Readers Number : 119


The European Commission urged the United States on Tuesday to "take its responsibilities" after US lawmakers rejected a vast Wall Street bailout plan.

"The US must take its responsibility in this situation, must show statemanship for the sake of their own companies and for the sake of the world," commission spokesman Johannes Laitenberger told journalists.

The US House of Representatives on Monday narrowly rejected a 700-billion-dollar plan to bail out the financial markets by a vote of 228-205. The bailout proposal would grant Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson sweeping authority to buy up toxic mortgage-related assets in troubled banks in hopes of easing the flow of credit and reviving the moribund housing market.

Paulson warned US lawmakers they had to act fast after the House rejected his 700-billion-dollar bank bailout, triggering panic selling as the global financial crisis deepened.

Stock markets around the world plunged after US House members, wary an angry public will punish them on Election Day five weeks from now, voted 228 to 205 Monday to shoot down what would be the biggest government bailout in history.

US stocks lost one trillion dollars in value in one day for the first time ever. Markets across Asia and Europe also fell steeply, as the House defied warnings that the entire world was waiting for the United States to act.

"Markets around the world are under stress," said Paulson, the architect of the audacious proposal to buy up the mountains of bad mortgage-related debt behind a wave of home foreclosures and spectacular bank failures.

"We need to get something done," Paulson said. "This is much too important to simply let fail."

Despite fears the stability of the global financial system is at stake, House lawmakers appeared to heed widespread public sentiment that the US taxpayer should not suffer for the mistakes and greed of Wall Street's bankers.

But Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said the fallout was being felt around the world, and that he and other US allies would press Washington to take action after what he called the "bad development" of the House vote.

"This is necessary for the stabilization of US financial markets and necessary for stabilization of global financial markets," Rudd said.

"We intend to be arguing this case strongly -- robustly -- in the days ahead."

On Wall Street, the Dow shed almost 778 points or nearly seven percent. The carnage was repeated in Asia on Tuesday morning, with

Tokyo and Hong Kong both down around five percent.

The continuing financial woes "will likely greatly affect the world economy," said Kaoru Yosano, Japan's minister for economic and fiscal policy. "We hope that the US will reach an appropriate conclusion on the solution."

The crisis has its roots in a wave of loans to would-be US homebuyers with spotty credit histories. Once people began to default on these so-called subprime mortgages, a chain reaction of chaos ensued.

Housing foreclosures sent home values plunging, and the US housing market fell apart. Meanwhile the loans themselves had been re-packaged as complicated investment products and resold.

As bank after bank realized the extent of its investment in these bad debts, they saw they had less money available to make new loans while their own share prices began to collapse -- and the global meltdown began.

Under the Paulson plan, the US government would buy up to 700 billion dollars of bad mortgage-related assets from banks, wiping the dodgy debts from their balance sheets and freeing them up to start lending robustly again.

But with the election five weeks away, the House of Representatives -- whose members must be re-elected every two years -- voted down the plan, despite a reported informal agreement on Capitol Hill that it would pass.

David Obey, a Democrat from the state of Wisconsin, said: "Evidently some of those guys would rather lose an economy than lose an election."

With the Jewish New Year holiday coming on Tuesday, it was believed unlikely there would be any action in Congress until later in the week, raising fears the crisis would continue to deepen.

Many Americans, feeling the pinch from a weak economy and high oil prices, oppose footing the bill. In particular, many free-market conservatives see the rescue as "socialist" and destined to cause more trouble ahead.

McCain Vows to Fight for Bailout

Republican presidential hopeful John McCain said Tuesday he would keep pushing for a bailout for the US financial system, admitting lawmakers had failed to convince voters of its urgency.

"I'm glad to stay at it. That's what my job is as an American, not as a candidate for president ... We have to get this job done for America and I have a plan to restore our economy," he said. McCain added: "Let's not call it a bailout, let's call ... ... More

European Markets Dip after Sharp Drop in Asia

European shares opened lower Tuesday, following falls in Asia, but they were spared the rout seen overnight on Wall Street as investors expressed hoped that a new US bailout agreement would emerge this week. There was disappointment that US lawmakers rejected the $700 billion emergency rescue plan and more fears about European institutions as Dexia, a Brussels-based lender, was given a $9.2 billion state-backed rescue after worsening ... ... More

Asian Stocks Dive as Panic Sweeps Global Markets

Stocks plunged in Asia Tuesday as fears of escalating financial turmoil triggered panic selling on world markets after Washington policymakers unexpectedly shot down a US financial rescue plan. In Tokyo and Hong Kong stocks were some five percent in the red despite calls from policymakers for markets to keep their cool after a record plunge on Wall Street. The shock rejection by Congress of the 700-billion-dollar bailout package raised ... Details

Bank Turmoil Hits Europe
29/09/2008 13:38

Financial hurricane hit European banks full on Monday forcing nationalizations, rescues and a new stocks slump as US lawmakers agreed a 700 billion dollar bank bailout. But any relief internationally came too late for Fortis, one of the biggest banks in northern Europe, which was rescued by Benelux governments for 11.2 billion euros (16 billion dollars) at the weekend. Fortis shares rallied by 14.5 percent in initial trading ... Details

Grand Theft America.
Financial Crime of the Century

by Stephen Lendman

Global Research, September 29, 2008

The crime of the century. The greatest one ever. Author Danny Schechter calls it "Plunder." The title of his important new book on the subprime and overall financial crisis. Economist Michael Hudson and others refer to a kleptocracy. A Ponzi scheme writ large. Maybe an out-of-control Andromeda Strain. An economic one. Deadly. Unrecallable. Science fiction now real life. Potentially catastrophic. World governments trying to contain it. Trying everything but not sure what can work. Maybe only able to paper it over for short-term relief. Buy time but in the end vindicate the maxim that things that can't go on forever, won't.

The world as we know it is changing. Industrial capitalism. The entire global economic system. Interconnected. What affects one nation touches others. If the troubled country is America it reaches everywhere, and if the crisis is great enough, the disease may be fatal and human wreckage catastrophic. Precisely the current dilemma that world leaders and financial experts are scrambling to figure out. Desperate to contain, and not sure what, if anything, can work. How did this happen and why?

The result of unfettered capitalism's fatal flaw - unbridled greed in a rigged system that rewards the few at the expense of most others. First an explanation of how it works. Free-wheeling, "free market" Chicago School fundamentalism the way economist Milton Friedman championed it in his 1962 book "Capitalism and Freedom" and taught it to students for decades. He believed that government's sole function is "to protect our freedom both from (outside) enemies....and from our fellow-citizens." Preserve law and order. Enforce private contracts. Protect private property and "foster competitive (unregulated) markets." Everything else in public hands is "socialism....blasphemy." Not to be tolerated.

He said "free markets" work best. Unfettered by rules, regulations, onerous taxes or any at all, trade barriers, entrenched interests, and human interference. That anything government does, business does better, so let it. That the best government is one that governs least. That public wealth should be in private hands. The accumulation of profits unrestrained. Corporate taxes abolished. Social services also, and that "economic freedom is an end to itself....and an indispensable means toward (achieving) political freedom."

He called most all government interference a restriction of freedom. Opposed foreign aid. Subsidies. Import quotas and tariffs, and illicit drug laws for being a subsidy to organized crime, but he found no fault with major banks laundering their profits. He believed business should be unrestrained in maximizing them, even the illegal kind apparently.

He opposed the minimum wage and right of unions to bargain collectively on equal terms with management. He believed high wages and benefits harm everyone. They raise prices, and in the end, hurt workers as well as management. He called Social Security "The Biggest Ponzi Scheme on Earth," even though it's been the most effective poverty reduction program ever for millions of seniors who'd be desperate without it. Especially today given a deepening economic crisis. The nation's social safety net disappearing, and heading everyone toward managing on his or her own. Dependent on their ingenuity, resources, and good fortune. Milton Friedman's ideal world. For those who can't make it, it's their own fault. It's everyone for him or herself in his judgment, and let the devil take the hindmost.

As for today's largest ever unraveling Ponzi scheme, it's just the workings of the "free market." Creative destruction. "Freedom to choose." The best of all possible worlds, and unfettered capitalism will figure out the right solutions. Provided government gets out of the way and gives it free reign. Free money also to wreck world economies and human lives even more than what's already done.

The Chickens Are Home to Roost

Are they ever, and here's what we've got. A global asset bubble. A predictable crisis allowed to build and mushroom. Begun after Chicago School economics took hold under Ronald Reagan. Continued under GHW Bush. Became religion under Bill Clinton, and ultimately fundamentalism under GW Bush.

The result - a "slow motion train wreck" gaining speed. Banks and other financial institutions failing globally. On September 25, the largest bank failure in US history with Washington Mutual's collapse. Earlier it was giant insurer AIG. Before that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns, and Merrill Lynch a forced liquidation to Bank of America.

Others are now teetering on the edge. Strapped by toxic debt. The result of out-of-control greed for easy profits. Massive fraud to get them. Thinking they're the best and brightest, and only mere mortals mess up. Knowing Fed moral hazard will cushion them if they do. True for some. Not for others, and learning that the Federal Reserve (the world's key central bank) failed in its primary job. To protect the country's financial system from insolvency. By contributing to a financial crisis and one of confidence. By creating near-limitless amounts of capital. Fueling a housing bubble. Outsized consumer debt, and irresponsible investments free from government oversight. Fraudulent ones involving multi-trillions of dollars.

Partnering with government to make it easy. Risking a global economic meltdown as a result. Scrambling to find solutions. Unsure if there are any. The present crisis is unparalled. Maybe it can be fixed, and maybe not. The problem is multi-fold. A perfect storm involving:

-- residential housing;

-- commercial real estate;

-- consumer over-indebtedness;

-- unknown amounts of toxic debt (in the multi-trillions);

-- affecting world finance and economies;

-- causing bankruptcies;

-- many more will follow;

-- selected ones bailed out;

-- the entire system endangered;

-- consumer money market, bank accounts and private pension funds as well; government backing is needed to protect them; there's not enough money to do it; and

-- the contagion is spreading; threatening world economies and people everywhere.

This time is really different. A $700 billion bailout (called the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 - EESA) is just a down payment. Trillions will be needed in the end. Other nations contributing to help. The problems are deeper and more intractable than anyone expected. Before this ends, unimaginable amounts of capital will be written off. Too much to even contemplate. Bad investments contaminating good ones. Threatening world financial structures with paralysis. Severe economic damage to their economies as a result.

Eroding industrial capitalism as we know it. At best managing a short-term fix and delaying a final denouement for a later time. Under new management with the current and past ones claiming no responsibility. And unmindful of millions of homeowners facing foreclosure and bankruptcy. One in ten currently behind in their payments. Others losing their jobs and way of life. They're the most vulnerable. Least able to cope, and for some their ability to survive.

According to The New York Times, here's how the Paulson scheme helps them: "it requires the government to use its new role as owner of distressed mortgage-backed securities to make 'more aggressive' efforts to prevent home foreclosures." Weasel words. No specifics. No assurances, and nothing apparently for homeowners already in foreclosure.

On September 22, ahead of the announced agreement, American Research Group (ASG) published its latest public sentiment poll results, and they were stunning. At 19%, George Bush scored lowest ever for a US president, surpassing Harry Truman at the depth of the Korean War and Richard Nixon during Watergate. It came at a time ASG's results showed 82% of Americans believe the economy is getting worse, and only 17% approve of how Bush is handling it. Among registered voters, the number is 18% at a time no one surveyed (zero percent) said the economy is improving and 68% say it's in recession. True or false, it's how they feel. How the crisis affects them, and that's what counts most.

Yet on September 24, the president addressed the nation audaciously. Callously dismissing public pain and anger. Deceitfully stating outright lies. A typical performance. Demanded that Congress give the treasury secretary carte blanche authority over $700 billion to address "a serious financial crisis." Asked taxpayers to pay for corporate fraud. Reward criminals and ignore their crimes. Said nothing about the root cause. The effect on ordinary people, or how Paulson's scheme will help them. Ignored growing public opposition. Large numbers of credible observers believing the proposed solution is worse than the problem. The most honest of them saying it will enrich fraudsters and offer no help for homeowners.

Yet Bush concluded that "democratic capitalism (is the) best system the world has ever devised" in spite of clear evidence that it's broken and corrupted. Exploits people for profit. Enriches the few at the expense of the many. Rewards criminals for their crimes. Protects the rich from beneficial social change.

Ahead of the president's address on September 24, The New York Times showed a rare display of candor in a critical Timothy Egan opinion piece. About "nearly nationalizing the banking system and giving the treasury secretary more power than a king....whose decisions may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency." He asked readers to remember "where the biggest heist took place, and how Wall Street dragged down the rest of the country once before," referring to the Great Depression but leaving out everything in between.

He stressed, however, "how Wall Street brought down main street," and things have now come full circle. Deregulation unleashed casino capitalism, and bankers made a killing. Now they're in trouble and Bush demands "the biggest bailout in American history....or the world will crumble. He said the a similar thing in the run-up to war" so who can believe him now. Egan quotes a dirt farmer asking why not the same "concerns (for) average Americans." Because "we the people" Bush speaks for are them, not us.

As for Paulson's plan, here's what the Financial Times writer Martin Wolf said on September 23. He called it "not a true solution to the crisis." It doesn't address the "fundamental problem." It's "neither a necessary nor an efficient solution. It is not necessary because the (Fed can) manage illiquidity through its many lender-of-last resort operations. It is not efficient because it can only deal with insolvency by buying bad assets (overpriced junk) at far above their true value, thereby guaranteeing big losses for taxpayers and providing an open-ended bail-out to the most irresponsible investors."

Wolf also objects to Paulson getting unchecked powers. Providing little or no help to the poor and "ill-informed" (read duped) borrowers, and lists other operational suggestions "essential for the long-run health of any financial system" without needing "a penny of public money." Among them, forcing creditors to take losses and not taxpayers.

Unmentioned in his article is the underlying fraud behind the crisis and a lack of regulatory oversight that made it easy. Also, omitted was what's covered in the section below.

The 1937 Housing Act's Empowering Section 8 Authority

One Section 8 sentence provided the basis for the treasury secretary's empowerment. It reads:

"Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administration agency."

In other words, unchallengeable czarist powers. In contrast to the 1930s Reconstruction Finance Corporation's (RFC) closely supervised operations. That era's Home Owners' Loan Corporation (HOLC) that refinanced homes to prevent foreclosures. And the 1980s Resolution Trust Corporation (RTC) mandate to liquidate assets from failed S & Ls. Not dispense free money for bad investments unchecked. The above authorities subject to judicial review. Not governed by a financial boss to run as he pleased.

The Announced "Bailout" Deal - The Emergency Stabilization Act of 2008 (ESA)

According to The New York Times, EESA calls for "strict oversight of the program by a Congressional panel and conflict-of-interest rules for firms hired by the Treasury to help run the program." Also "a change in the bankruptcy laws sought by some Democrats to give judges the authority to modify the terms of first mortgages."

Given the bipartisan blame for today's crisis. The post-9/11 willingness to give the administration near-carte blanche authority across the board. Eight years of indifference to social needs and public welfare. Who now believes that policy going forward will change and that the agreed-on scheme will protect people or curb the secretary's authority. On his own initiative, George Bush usurped supreme power post-9/11 while few in Congress blanched. None in leadership positions. Little today has changed.

Disclaimers notwithstanding from both sides of the aisle, Wall Street is pleased. Paulson got what he wanted. The plan's fine print will assure it. Public money. Far more, if needed, than $700 billion. The power to dispense it freely. With weak at best oversight and judicial review, and the ability to conceal fraud and malfeasance. In short, the between-the-lines meaning of Paulson saying: "We have made great progress toward a deal, which will work and be effective in the marketplace."

The same one that fleeced the nation and betrayed the public trust. Now empowered to take more with the full faith and blessing of the government from both sides of the aisle. Belying George Bush's insult that "The rescue not aimed at Wall Street; it is aimed at your street." And Nancy Pelosi's hypocrisy that: "All of this was done in a way to insulate Main Street and everyday Americans from the crisis on Wall Street....I want to congratulate all of the negotiators for the great work they have done." Who in banker boardrooms would disagree.

Some Relevant Facts

Clearly the present crisis is unprecedented. As stated above, maybe it can be fixed and maybe not. No one is sure because no one understands it fully. Where all the problems lie. To what degree can they be contained. How great their fallout may be. Their full effect on world economies. How bad things may get before they stabilize and improve, and the way the world will look like when they do.

Whatever's coming, industrial capitalism is eroding. A kleptocracy replaced it. If the system is saved, it will be temporary, and an even greater one will emerge. Why this article is called Grand Theft America. A criminal class runs it, and they're rewarded for their crimes. Backed by the full faith and credit of the government with taxpayer money. A near-limitless amount created and borrowed. Who said crime doesn't pay!

For over 30 years, an unimaginable wealth transfer to the rich has been ongoing. To the top 1% and corporate America from most others. It proves the failure of a system that rewards the few at the expense of the many. Licenses greed and creates this kind of global financial crisis so far uncontained. It begs the questions: what caused it and what's the fallout:

-- the ruinous effects of militarization; insane amounts of spending on it; "military Keynesianism;" believing capitalism thrives on foreign wars; "Global Wars on Terrorism" currently; their costs are unsustainable and are heading the nation toward bankruptcy;

-- the drain on an already weakened economy;

-- maxed out consumers now debt slaves;

-- so is government from unrepayable obligations in the tens of trillions; not the fictitious "official" reported numbers;

-- the possibility of future default; hyperinflation; national bankruptcy, and the demise of the republic;

-- human default as well: mass bankruptcies; home foreclosures; rising unemployment; increased poverty; and growing numbers of families unable to survive;

-- the subprime crisis is just part of it; seven million mortgages sold to the unwary; the idea was to criminally defraud them; offer two-year teaser rates; then reset them higher semi-annually based on an interest rate benchmark; payments soared as much as 30% and became unaffordable; the scheme was to cash in at the expense of mortgage holders, and five million risk losing their homes and life savings;

-- an "economic Pearl Harbor" for Warren Buffett; for Senator Chris Dodd a "50-state Katrina;" a "house of cards (built on) reckless finance" for author Kevin Phillips; Frankenstein finance; casino capitalism; for most Americans, a human catastrophe;

-- the demise of our manufacturing base; letting malls replace factories as the economy's engine;

-- permitting the financialization of the economy; speculative finance writ large; replacing productive investment; totally deregulated; run by fraudsters; free from government oversight; letting investment banks game the system at up to 40 to 1 leverage; until 2004, 12 to 1 was the maximum;

-- a government - business conspiracy for global dominance and the single-minded pursuit of profit; unfettered amounts of it through cleverly manipulated schemes; transferring multi-trillions of dollars from workers to the most wealthy; doing it without people even noticing;

-- creative destruction to let giant businesses grow larger by removing and devouring smaller ones; even large ones;

-- permitting and/or ignoring massive fraud; involving multi-trillions of dollars; the largest ever Ponzi scheme; a calculated crime with media complicity through silence; not reporting a growing problem as it emerged; waiting until it mushroomed and still not explaining it accurately and honestly; and

-- wondering won if the best and brightest can fix things or if no amount of money or ingenuity can do it.

The Plan's Architect - Henry Paulson

From a Nixon administration staff assistant to the assistant secretary of defense. To assistant to key Watergate official John Erlichman. To Goldman Sachs in 1974. To a partnership in the firm in 1982. Then Chief Operation Officer (COO) in 1994 and CEO in 1998 by a palace coup against co-chairman and now New Jersey governor Jon Corzine, according to New York Times columnist Floyd Norris.

Even before the current crisis, Goldman was the preeminent Wall Street firm. A survivor. The largest, and along with Morgan Stanley, the remaining two Street giants left standing. But no longer as investment banks after the Federal Reserve's September 21 announcement that both companies will become bank holding companies after a mandatory five-day waiting period, now over.

In theory, they'll be under stricter Fed oversight but will get Fed help to complete their transition and thereafter. As a well-connected financial powerhouse, whatever Goldman wants, Goldman gets. Always in the past by recycling top executives into Democrat and Republican administrations, and now more than ever given Henry Paulson's extraordinary financial czar powers.

Before his $700 billion giveaway plan, the 2008 Housing and Economic Recovery Act gave him authority to fleece taxpayers by rescuing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as well as raise the national debt by over $5 trillion dollars. He also orchestrated the demise of Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers and Washington Mutual. The forced sale of Merrill Lynch, and arranged the government takeover of AIG.

He has near-open checkbook authority to reward close allies with loans and free money and let them acquire troubled assets on the cheap. This from a man with much responsibility for today's crisis. A June 12, 2006 Business Week cover story titled "Mr. Risk Goes to Washington" called him "one of the key architects of a more daring Wall Street, where securities firms are taking greater and greater chances in their pursuit of profits." Such as assuming huge amounts of debt and "placing big bets (with their own money) on all sorts of exotic derivatives and other securities." Advising clients to do the same. Casino capitalism at up to 40 to one leverage. Hugely profitable in up markets. Disastrous in down ones.

Paulson earned millions and now has an estimated $700 million + net worth. For 2007 overall, according to, "Wall Street's five biggest firms (paid out) a record $39 billion in bonuses (and did it in) a year when three of the companies suffered the worst quarterly losses in their history and shareholders lost more than $80 billion."

Speculative finance pays well, even in down years, and it even raised Bloomberg's ire in a Michael Lewis September 24 commentary titled "America Must Rescue the Bonuses at Goldman Sachs." It reflected on a possible global financial collapse but sacrificing Goldman bonuses is another matter. If firm "employees (take) pay cut(s), it will be (tantamount to failure and) our country may never recover." How will the company induce new talent to come aboard. Goldman is well-positioned to get maximum gain from its former CEO's $700 billion handout.

Why else would Warren Buffett bet $5 billion on the firm! For preferred shares paying an annual 10% dividend. Warrants as well to buy $5 billion in common stock at a $115 a share strike price. Well off its $251 peak and below the latest September 26 $138 a share.

Joseph Stiglitz on the Economy

Stiglitz was formerly part of the system he now criticizes. Free market fundamentalism in its most extreme form. For many months, he warned about a worsening global economy and growing financial crisis that's as bad or worse than the Great Depression.

He sees similar problems now as then:

-- outsized speculation through excessive leverage;

-- pyramid schemes;

-- multiple bubbles through so-called Wall Street innovations; and

-- a lack of transparency and government oversight.

Combined they created a crisis "so great that no one knows exactly the magnitude of the risk they face. It is particularly bad because our financial institutions are based on trust. You put money in the bank and you trust that you can get (it) out, so trust is absolutely essential for the functioning of our financial markets and economy."

The problem is exacerbated by those providing the news. The dominant media and frequent spokespeople. Industry representatives like Lehman Brothers CEO saying last April that "we turned the corner, and the economy is on the uptick." Also from the president, treasury secretary and others in government as things keep worsening.

Stiglitz calls this a "top down crisis." The "$3 trillion cost" of foreign wars a key. Creating huge deficits and consuming vital resources needed for growth. "This is the first war in American history that has been totally financed on the credit card. For the last five years....we have been a debt economy." Not since the Revolutionary War have "we have had to turn to foreigners," so now "40% of our national debt is financed by (them). Even as we went (to war) we had a big deficit, and yet the president called for tax cuts for upper middle class Americans." Insane but we did it.

Another factor is other countries trusting that our economy is working well, and when the president says it is he's believable. "This administration burned that wonder everybody around the world is losing confidence." Even worse is that the administration isn't dealing responsibly with these problems, mostly because they're of our own making.

Stiglitz worries about the "real economy:" home prices dropping; owners forced into foreclosure; more financial firms in crisis; and a good many won't survive. He sees a weakening financial system unable or unwilling "to provide credit (the lifeblood of the economy for) loans, mortgages," and that means lower home prices, contracting businesses, rising unemployment, and a "downward vicious cycle. You have to be in fantasy land to say that everything is fine (or even) that we have turned the corner." He sees at least another 18 months of pain. Maybe longer. Who can know or how much.

For sure, real economic stimulus is needed. Productive investment. Not the phony "bailout" kind proposed. Aiding state and local governments. Better unemployment insurance and more for infrastructure. Providing a basis for long-term growth. Not feeding markets and starving the hungry, as one writer put it. Not believing markets on their own will fix things.

Understanding that government must intervene. Responsibly. Facilitate job creation. End casino capitalism. Provide incentives for real economic growth. Let foreclosed and threatened homeowners stay in their homes. Work out an equitable way to do it. "We learned a painful lesson in the 1930s and today: The invisible hand often seems invisible because it's not there." It led to the kind of predicament now confronting the country. The solutions proposed will just compound it.

Ones that Can Fix It

Good ones not considered. From figures like Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. Others as well with solid advice to:

-- make fraudsters eat the bulk of their losses;

-- use public funds only "to sustain the orderly operation of the financial system;"

-- minimize speculative finance; the root of the current problem;

-- "minimize moral hazard" - the Paulson (and Bernanke) "put" picking up where Greenspan left off;

-- let delinquent homeowners stay in their homes and pay rent;

-- curtail executive compensation for companies getting government aid;

-- make a key Fed responsibility the prevention of asset bubbles; reinstitute regulations to do it; Glass-Steagall for starters that prohibited commercial and investment banks and insurance companies from combining;

-- impose a modest financial transactions tax to curb excesses and raise revenue;

-- trade assets, like credit default swaps, openly on exchanges to establish fair value for them;

-- impose strict limits on leverage;

-- keep Fannie and Freddie public institutions; their status before being privatized in 1968; and

-- restructure the Fed democratically; a far better solution is abolish it and let government control its own money; use it responsibly for all Americans, not just the privileged few.

Other recommendations recognize no quick or easy solutions to problems this great. Economist James Galbraith says borrowers need collateral. A new Home Owners Loan Corporation to rewrite mortgages. Manage rental conversions, and decide what degraded properties should be demolished. Which ones to save and refurbish. Set it up in communities under federal guidelines and do it quickly. Help state and local governments strapped for cash. Reestablish federal revenue sharing. A National Infrastructure Bank making capital available for infrastructure. Put people to work building it. Protect seniors and near-retirees from wealth loss. Extra Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid revenue will help. Get money in the hands of people who'll spend it.

Address other crucial issues like energy conservation, reconstruction and renewable power. Infrastructure overall. Tuition help for students. Another GI bill. Credit card and mortgage interest rate caps. Rescind anti-consumist laws like the misnamed 2005 Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act. A boon for credit card companies and other businesses. Unfairly burdensome to the public.

A whole range of other projects and ideas to redirect the economy away from speculative finance and militarism and toward high-return public investment. Do it before it's too late. Recognize that the present course is unsustainable. Imagine a government working for everyone and not just the privileged few. Imagine it not tolerating fraud and malfeasance.

Instead, Congress agreed to a "bailout" and passed a record $634 billion omnibus spending bill (to run the government through March 6, 2009) to include a record Pentagon budget; $25 billion in low-interest auto industry loans; maybe with no provision for repayment; lifting a quarter-century ban on Atlantic and Pacific off-shore drilling; billions more in earmarked pork; and likely more coming later for the airlines and other endangered companies. Taxpayers for Common Sense criticized the bill at the same time it noted that government "bailout" appropriations will reach about $1.2 trillion with the $700 billion Paulson scheme. Others put the total above $1.5 trillion, and many say it's only for starters.

Paying "hold-to-maturity" prices compounds the fraud. For securitized assets worth a fraction of full value. Much of it pennies on the dollar, if anything. Trillions of dollars of toxic ones. All sorts of them. Newly invented ones. Structured finance and insurance. Asset-backed securities. Repackaged into marketable pools. Sold to investors. It's been done for decades but only recently so out of hand. Greed and deregulation created an alphabet soup of levered-up, high-risk securitized assets. Financial alchemy. Largely outright fraud, including:

-- collateralized debt obligations (CDOs), including auto loans, credit and corporate debt;

-- collateralized (asset-backed home) mortgage obligations (CMOs);

-- commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS);

-- mortgage-backed securities (MBS) and levered loans;

-- structured investment vehicles (SIVs);

-- special purpose vehicles (SPVs);

-- pass-through securities;

-- credit and interest rate default swaps;

-- commercial paper and more;

-- repackaged arcane stuff most people don't understand; even investors who bought them; like eating a stew with no idea what's in it; a recipe with no list of ingredients; learning too late it's toxic and you're in trouble;

Credit card companies as well from growing amounts of unrepayable credit card debt. The auto industry already assured of a low-interest $25 billion loan (or maybe handout) for starters. Airlines coming next. Select homebuilders and troubled companies called too big to fail. If they're too big to fail, says one observer, they're too big to exist.

EESA will give the treasury secretary near-carte blanche powers to conceal fraud and help the fraudsters, including his former company, Goldman Sachs, now in trouble. Pick and choose among others. Which will survive, and what less favored ones will go on the block at fire sale prices or disappear. Today there are 9000 banks in the country. In a decade, half or more of them may be gone.

Economist Michael Hudson calls EESA "cash for trash" and a "giveaway," not a bailout. A "transfer of wealth to insiders." A financial coup d'etat. The "largest and most inequitable (kind) since the (19th century) land giveaways to the railroad barons."

In this case, socializing losses to let fraudsters "sell out all their bad bets." Junk of all sorts: a stew of securitized assets, bad mortgages, car loans, credit card loans, student loans, anything for insiders stuck with too much of them.

A doomed scheme that will raise the debt level instead of lowering it. Enrich fraudsters with taxpayer funds. Stick the public with toxic junk. Maybe buy time before more people and markets catch on, but, in the end, cripple the economy and erode industrial capitalism with it.

Hudson is justifiably angry given the amount of fraud and deceit. The government-concocted scheme to whitewash it. Reward criminals. Harm most others, and wreck the country at the same time. He says a "kleptocratic class has taken over the economy to replace industrial capitalism....'banksers' " for FDR and earlier condemned by Jefferson with this stinging comment:

"I sincerely believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. Already they have raised up a money aristocracy that has set the government at defiance. The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people to whom it properly belongs."

A half century later Lincoln said:

"I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country....corporations (including bankers) have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed."

Lincoln refused to pay bankers usurious rates to finance the Civil War and got Congress to pass the 1862 Legal Tender Act. It empowered the US Treasury to issue "greenbacks" that were interest-free because government printed its own money. When Lincoln was assassinated in 1865, the "Greenback Law" was rescinded. A new national banking act was passed, and the government once again had to pay interest to bankers.

On June 4, 1963, President Kennedy issued executive order (EO) 11110 giving the president authority to issue currency. He ordered the treasury to begin printing "United States (Treasury) Notes" to replace "Federal Reserve Notes." He began a process to let government control its own money and no longer private bankers under the guise of the Federal Reserve. Months later, Kennedy was assassinated. Once Lyndon Johnson took office, he rescinded EO 11110 and reestablished the current system. More on that below.

The Two Greatest Ever Financial Crimes - Today's Fraud and the 1913 Federal Reserve Act's Privatization of Money Creation

Most people think the Federal Reserve is a government agency, subject to its control. It's sometimes mistakenly called a quasi-governmental decentralized central bank to disguise its real identity and purpose. Its Eccles building headquarters compounds the subterfuge. Below it's stripped away.

The Federal Reserve is a private for-profit banking cartel. Owned and run by major banks and Wall Street in each of its 12 Districts. It was created and operates in violation of Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution that states that Congress alone shall have the power to create money and regulate its value. In 1935, the Supreme Court ruled that Congress cannot constitutionally delegate this power to another authority, but, in fact it did.

On December 22, 1913, between 1:30 - 4:30 AM, the Federal Reserve Act was shepherded through a special Congressional Conference Committee. Then voted on and passed the next day. Two days before Christmas with many members gone and most others with no time to read or consider this momentous document.

By enacting this law, Congress and President Woodrow Wilson defrauded the public. Wilson later said (when it was too late to matter) he made a mistake and "unwittingly ruined my country." This from a man who was an intellect. Trained in the law. A PhD in political science and president of Princeton University in his earlier years.

The Federal Reserve Act gives private bankers the most important of all powers. The one most of all that governments should never relinquish. The authority to print money. Control its supply. Its price through the Fed Funds rate and how it influences the whole yield curve. Loan it out for profit, and charge government interest on its own money. It's later returned minus operating expenses and a guaranteed 6% profit. Taxpayers foot the bill. An early and continuing example of wealth transfer from the public to powerful bankers. Illegally sanctioned by Congress and the president.

The Fed literally creates money out of nothing. Expands or contracts its supply as it wishes - with no government oversight or control. Gold once backed it until Nixon closed the gold window in August 1971. Suspended dollar convertibility into the metal, and ended compliance with the Bretton Woods core provision. The US dollar became fiat currency. Mere paper. Backed by nothing except the faith of the issuing authority.

Given today's crisis, that faith is fast eroding and is to blame for dollar weakness. Mostly because of profligate policies by private bankers running the country's monetary policy for their own gain. The grandest of grand thefts along with today's all-consuming fraud. Backed by the full faith and credit of the government, and up to now at least, with most people none the wiser.

A Growing Public Response to the Crisis

For how long is the question given growing public anger and people expressing it publicly. It has administration officials worried enough to order what Michel Chossudovsky wrote in his September 26 article titled "Pre-election Militarization of the North American Homeland."

He cites an Army Times article saying that the 3rd Infantry's 1st Brigade Combat Team is coming home (in October) from Iraq as (according to the Times) "an on-call federal response force for natural or manmade emergencies and disasters, including terrorist attacks." Perhaps with a manufactured incident as pretext. To defend the homeland against ourselves. Be deployed against dissent. Erupting public anger. On city streets like in Denver and St. Paul. Displaying civil disobedience. Defiance against fraud, deceit, illegal foreign wars, and nearly eight intolerable years under George Bush and a complicit Congress. Capped by the current financial crisis touching everyone while government rewards crime and hangs its victims out to dry.

The 3rd Infantry's 1st Brigade is for combat. It's not the National Guard or local police. It's trained for war. "Equipped to kill people" with potent weapons, and a last hurrah scheme may be planned to divert public attention from the financial crisis. A "terrorist" attack with "chemical, biological" or other dangerous weapons. A possible pretext for martial law at a time the administration and Congress are vulnerable. When people are angry about Washington protecting the privileged. Partnering with them in crime. Defrauding the public and stifling dissent. Moving one step closer to tyranny and away from silly notions about democracy. Proving crime indeed does pay and awfully well on Wall Street. "It's the economy, stupid." Theirs, not ours.

Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization. He lives in Chicago and can be reached at

Also visit his blog site at and listen to The Global Research News Hour on Mondays from 11AM - 1PM for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests. All programs are archived for easy listening.


Decline and Fall of the US political system

Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Decline and Fall of the US political system

It's the autumn of our old republic
By Justin Raimondo"

.....Power breeds arrogance and quickly becomes an overweening pride.In Washington, they imagine they can legislate their way out of the crisis and once again conjure up a convenient reality: this, they believe, is their prerogative as history's actors.

The rest of us, you see, are only acted upon.Their failure is inevitable, but there's a way out for them, if they can manage to pull it off. Yes, you guessed it: another war, another foreign "enemy," a heretofore undetected threat to the Homeland that will divert us – and keep the engines of the economy running.Of course, it will be a different sort of economy.

You can forget all that rhetoric about the "free market" and the joys of "globalization." In the global division of labor, America has chosen the niche of the world's policeman: the undeveloped world provides agricultural and unfinished goods, the East is the world's factory, and the U.S. "protects" the whole arrangement, putting down insurgencies when they erupt and toppling "rogue" regimes that don't go along with the program.

Any nation that defies the will of the "benevolent global hegemon" faces an American military colossus, which feeds upon a budget equal to the combined defense budgets of all the other nations on earth, by some measures more than equal.

The problem with this arrangement is that an empire, far from being a benefit, is nothing but a burden. Our $3 trillion war with Iraq is ample testimony to that. And the bill will only get larger. It is a cliché that America no longer produces anything. Yet we do produce something, in these latter days of our perishing republic – wars, and plenty of them......."

Stunning defeat of bill exposes failures of the US political system
Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Yesterday was not only a black Monday for markets. It was the blackest of Mondays too for the US political system, saddled with a discredited president who has completely lost control of his own party and a Congress that responds to a national emergency with little except snarling partisanship.

The stunning defeat of the financial bailout bill has exposed the weakness of the system at its moment of maximum vulnerability, in the quasi-interregnum of the weeks immediately before and after a presidential election. Even so, had a similar crisis erupted at the same stage of the second term of Bill Clinton or Ronald Reagan it is hard to imagine Congress staging a similar rebellion. For George W Bush, alas, it is a different story.

His lack of clout was first exposed last Thursday when the bailout summit he convened at the White House degenerated into a blazing row. But that humiliation paled beside yesterday's. The President went on TV at 7.30am to plead for the measure that had been thrashed out over the weekend, to no avail. Then he called two dozen recalcitrant House Republicans, begging them to hold their noses and do their patriotic duty – but again to no avail.

When the vote came, his own party voted almost two to one against the bill, more than cancelling out the 140-95 majority of Democrats who did hold their noses to support the wishes of a President most of them despise.

Thus did US politics enter the world of Alice Through the Looking Glass. A president who prided himself on being a champion of free markets was urging the biggest state intervention in the economy in more than 50 years.

Then not only did a majority of Republicans disown their own president. After they sent the bailout compromise down in flames, those same Republicans then blamed the Democrats for their own disloyalty, accusing Speaker Nancy Pelosi of being too harsh in her criticism of their president. This despite the fact her Democrats, instinctively far less inclined to come to Wall Street's aid, had in fact done so.

Maybe Ms Pelosi should have been more restrained in her language. Maybe the head counters on both sides can be blamed for misjudging the balance of forces. More than a dozen Republicans were assumed to be in favour when they were not.

But in a deeper sense this is a crisis of the political system. The stately and endless process of electing a new president has produced a power vacuum at the worst possible moment.

Mr Bush's power, it has been conclusively demonstrated, is exhausted. Yet more than five weeks remain until election day – when either John McCain or Barack Obama morally takes power – and three and a half months until Inauguration Day, when one of them actually moves into the Oval Office. On the campaign trail, they can make uplifting speeches and put forward ingenious proposals. But speeches and policy papers will not make banks lend again.

However, yesterday already looks like Black Monday for Mr McCain. He returned to Washington last week as the self-styled statesman who would knock heads together for the country. But he, like Mr Bush, could not bring his Republicans into line. The tumultuous events of yesterday have only strengthened the feeling that America's worst financial crisis since the 1930s has doomed his bid for the presidency – just as the crash of 1929 doomed Herbert Hoover.


ritalin said...
Perhaps this is off topic but there is a linkage to the title "Pre-Planned".Clearly, there are elite eugenicists who are involved in pre-planned actions against the poor. This, in order to reduce the world population of poor peasants.

Posted On: September 26th, 2008

(NaturalNews) The number of children being treated with anti-psychotic drugs has drastically increased in the United Kingdom, according to a study conducted by researchers from University of London's School of Pharmacy and published in the journal Pediatrics. The increase among children in the United States is believed to be substantially higher still.

Researchers reviewed the records of more than 16,000 children seen by 400 doctors. They found that while fewer than four in 10,000 children were prescribed antipsychotics in 1992, the rate had increased to seven per 10,000 by 2005. When the researchers looked at the rate of new prescriptions, however, it did not appear to have changed much, "which suggests that the patients remain on treatment longer."

This increase was largest among children between the ages of seven and 12, who underwent a threefold increase in prescription rate from 2 per 10,000 to 6 per 10,000. Much of this increase appeared to be due to so-called "off label use," meaning uses not approved for the government, most often for treatment of autism or hyperactivity.

The use of such drugs is not approved for these conditions in children because their effectiveness has never been proven.

Many of the drugs being given to children are fairly new, the researchers noted, making their effects even more uncertain. They noted that the prescription of atypical antipsychotics increased by 60 times from 192 to 2005, while the prescription rate of older antipsychotic drugs actually fell.

"The prescribing of atypical anti-psychotic drugs has increased despite the lack of conclusive evidence showing their superiority over older conventional anti-psychotics," they said.

Known side effects of antipsychotics include extreme weight gain, heart problems and even malfunctioning of the nervous system.

"This highlights the need for long-term safety investigations and ongoing monitoring, particularly if the prescribing rate of these medicines continues to rise," the researchers wrote.

According to the Associated Press, children in the United States are prescribed antipsychotics at six times the rate of children in the United Kingdom.

This massive "soft kill" of children is ghoulish. Big Pharma is an elite run bunch of gangsters who are contolling populations and greedily profiting from this same

"soft kill"
8:54 AM, September 27, 2008