Kucinich: Democrats, South Carolina Debate Question – Health Care (video)

Dandelion Salad

July 30, 2007
From: Kucinich2008

A response from Dennis Kucinich

Advertisements

07.27.07 Uncensored News Reports From Across The Middle East (video; over 18 only)

 

Dandelion Salad

Warning

This video contains images depicting the reality and horror of war and should only be viewed by a mature audience.

Selected Episode

July 27, 2007

 Suicide Attack Near Red Mosque in Pakistan,” Al Arabiya TV, UAE
Inquiry Commission into Hamas’ Coup in Gaza Submits Report,” Al Jazeera TV, Qatar
Hamas Condemns Prisoners’ Release Deal,” Al Aqsa, Gaza
Israel’s Navy Commander Resigns,” IBA TV, Israel
Lebanese Army Advances at Nahr el Bared,” Al Jazeera English, Qatar
Conference on Iraqi Refugees Opens in Jordan,” Dubai TV, UAE
Iranian Public Supports Uranuim Enrichment,” IRIB2 TV, Iran
Jericho’s Rich History,” Palestine TV, Ramallah
Mosaic Intelligence Report: Oil Talks,” Link TV, USA

 

 

07.26.07 Uncensored News Reports From Across The Middle East (video; over 18 only)

 

Dandelion Salad

Warning

This video contains images depicting the reality and horror of war and should only be viewed by a mature audience.

Selected Episode

July 26, 2007

“Taliban Executes Korean Hostage,” Al Jazeera TV, Qatar
“Iraqis Enjoy a Rare Moment of Unity,” Dubai TV, UAE
“Iraqi Doctors Flee Baghdad to Safer Towns,” Alsumaria TV, Iraq
“Israel Prepares to Invade Gaza,” Al-Alam TV, Iran
“Arab League Envoys’ Visit to Israel Described as Historic,” IBA TV, Israel
“Israeli Settlers Claim More Palestinian Land,” Al Jazeera English, Qatar
“Lebanese Army Pounds Nahr El Bared,” Future TV, Lebanon
“French Magazine Article Angers Moroccans,” Al Arabiya TV, UAE
“Cleric Wants to Establish a Sunni Authority,” ANB TV, England

The NYT’s New Pro-War Propaganda By Robert Parry + (Owned Big Time) Author: A War We Just Might Win (video)


Dandelion Salad

By Robert Parry
July 30, 2007

No need to wait until September. It’s already obvious how George W. Bush and his still-influential supporters in Washington will sell an open-ended U.S. military occupation of Iraq – just the way they always have: the war finally has turned the corner and withdrawal now would betray the troops by snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

At one time, the Iraq story line was how many schoolrooms had been painted or how well the government security forces were doing. Now there are new silver linings being detected that will justify a positive progress report in September – and the U.S. news media is again ready to play its credulous part.

President Bush signaled the happy-news judgment of his hand-picked commander, Gen. David Petraeus, in a round of confident public appearances over the past two weeks. With his effusive praise of “David,” as Bush called the general at a White House news conference, the President acted like a smug student arriving for a test with the answers tucked in his pocket.

Another key element of the coming propaganda campaign was previewed on the op-ed page of the New York Times on July 30 as Michael E. O’Hanlon and Kenneth M. Pollack of the Brookings Institution portrayed themselves as tough critics of the Bush administration who, after a visit to Iraq, now must face the facts: Bush’s “surge” is working.

“As two analysts who have harshly criticized the Bush administration’s miserable handling of Iraq, we were surprised by the gains we saw and the potential to produce not necessarily ‘victory’ but a sustainable stability that both we and the Iraqis could live with,” O’Hanlon and Pollack wrote in an article entitled “A War We Just Might Win.”

Yet the authors – and the New York Times – failed to tell readers the full story about these supposed skeptics: far from grizzled peaceniks, O’Hanlon and Pollack have been longtime cheerleaders for a larger U.S. military occupying force in Iraq.

Indeed, Pollack, a former CIA analyst, was a leading advocate for invading Iraq in the first place. He published The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq in September 2002, just as the Bush administration was gearing up its marketing push for going to war.

British journalist Robert Fisk called Pollack’s book the “most meretricious contribution to this utterly fraudulent [war] ‘debate’ in the United States.” (Meretricious, by the way, refers to something that is based on pretense, deception or insincerity.)

Neocon ‘Full Monte’

Pollack’s influential book offered the “full monte” neoconservative vision for remaking the Middle East, with the Iraq invasion as only the first step in the transformation. Ousting Saddam Hussein “would sever the ‘linkage’ between the Iraq issue and the Arab-Israeli conflict,” Pollack wrote. “It would remove an important source of anti-Americanism.”

But Pollack was wrong in his predictions. If anything, the Iraq War has deepened Arab-Israeli animosities while enflaming the region’s anti-Americanism.

Also, in Fisk’s view, “Pollack’s argument for war was breathtakingly amoral. War would be the right decision, it seemed, not because it was morally necessary but because we would win. War was now a viable and potentially successful policy option.


Continued…


FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

***

(Owned Big Time) Author: A War We Just Might Win

July 30, 2007 Hardball MSNBC

Michael O’Hanlen, guest

see:

8 Million Iraqis in Need of Emergency Aid (video) + Half of Iraq “In Absolute Poverty”

 

 

 

An Immoral Philosophy by Paul Krugman


Dandelion Salad

by Paul Krugman
Common Dreams
Published on Monday, July 30, 2007 by The New York Times

When a child is enrolled in the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (Schip), the positive results can be dramatic. For example, after asthmatic children are enrolled in Schip, the frequency of their attacks declines on average by 60 percent, and their likelihood of being hospitalized for the condition declines more than 70 percent.

Regular care, in other words, makes a big difference. That’s why Congressional Democrats, with support from many Republicans, are trying to expand Schip, which already provides essential medical care to millions of children, to cover millions of additional children who would otherwise lack health insurance.

But President Bush says that access to care is no problem – “After all, you just go to an emergency room” – and, with the support of the Republican Congressional leadership, he’s declared that he’ll veto any Schip expansion on “philosophical” grounds.

It must be about philosophy, because it surely isn’t about cost. One of the plans Mr. Bush opposes, the one approved by an overwhelming bipartisan majority in the Senate Finance Committee, would cost less over the next five years than we’ll spend in Iraq in the next four months. And it would be fully paid for by an increase in tobacco taxes.

The House plan, which would cover more children, is more expensive, but it offsets Schip costs by reducing subsidies to Medicare Advantage – a privatization scheme that pays insurance companies to provide coverage, and costs taxpayers 12 percent more per beneficiary than traditional Medicare.

Strange to say, however, the administration, although determined to prevent any expansion of children’s health care, is also dead set against any cut in Medicare Advantage payments.

So what kind of philosophy says that it’s O.K. to subsidize insurance companies, but not to provide health care to children?

Well, here’s what Mr. Bush said after explaining that emergency rooms provide all the health care you need: “They’re going to increase the number of folks eligible through Schip; some want to lower the age for Medicare. And then all of a sudden, you begin to see a – I wouldn’t call it a plot, just a strategy – to get more people to be a part of a federalization of health care.”

Now, why should Mr. Bush fear that insuring uninsured children would lead to a further “federalization” of health care, even though nothing like that is actually in either the Senate plan or the House plan? It’s not because he thinks the plans wouldn’t work. It’s because he’s afraid that they would. That is, he fears that voters, having seen how the government can help children, would ask why it can’t do the same for adults.

And there you have the core of Mr. Bush’s philosophy. He wants the public to believe that government is always the problem, never the solution. But it’s hard to convince people that government is always bad when they see it doing good things. So his philosophy says that the government must be prevented from solving problems, even if it can. In fact, the more good a proposed government program would do, the more fiercely it must be opposed.

This sounds like a caricature, but it isn’t. The truth is that this good-is-bad philosophy has always been at the core of Republican opposition to health care reform. Thus back in 1994, William Kristol warned against passage of the Clinton health care plan “in any form,” because “its success would signal the rebirth of centralized welfare-state policy at the very moment that such policy is being perceived as a failure in other areas.”

But it has taken the fight over children’s health insurance to bring the perversity of this philosophy fully into view.

There are arguments you can make against programs, like Social Security, that provide a safety net for adults. I can respect those arguments, even though I disagree. But denying basic health care to children whose parents lack the means to pay for it, simply because you’re afraid that success in insuring children might put big government in a good light, is just morally wrong.

And the public understands that. According to a recent Georgetown University poll, 9 in 10 Americans – including 83 percent of self-identified Republicans – support an expansion of the children’s health insurance program.

There is, it seems, more basic decency in the hearts of Americans than is dreamt of in Mr. Bush’s philosophy.

Paul Krugman is Professor of Economics at
Princeton University and a regular New York Times columnist. His most recent book is The Great Unraveling: Losing Our Way in the New Century.
© 2007 The New York Times
h/t: ICH

see:

HR 676 Universal Healthcare: Don’t Stop Believin’ (video; Kucinich; 35 percenters)

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

Guillotining Gaza By Noam Chomsky


Dandelion Salad

By Noam Chomsky
ICH
07/30/07

THE death of a nation is a rare and somber event. But the vision of a unified, independent Palestine threatens to be another casualty of a Hamas-Fatah civil war, stoked by Israel and its enabling ally the United States.

Last month’s chaos may mark the beginning of the end of the Palestinian Authority. That might not be an altogether unfortunate development for Palestinians, given US-Israeli programmes of rendering it nothing more than a quisling regime to oversee these allies’ utter rejection of an independent state.

The events in Gaza took place in a developing context. In January 2006, Palestinians voted in a carefully monitored election, pronounced to be free and fair by international observers, despite US-Israeli efforts to swing the election towards their favourite, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah party. But Hamas won a surprising victory.

The punishment of Palestinians for the crime of voting the wrong way was severe. With US backing, Israel stepped up its violence in Gaza, withheld funds it was legally obligated to transmit to the Palestinian Authority, tightened its siege and even cut off the flow of water to the arid Gaza Strip.

The United States and Israel made sure that Hamas would not have a chance to govern. They rejected Hamas’s call for a long-term cease-fire to allow for negotiations on a two-state settlement, along the lines of an international consensus that Israel and United States have opposed, in virtual isolation, for more than 30 years, with rare and temporary departures.

Meanwhile, Israel stepped up its programmes of annexation, dismemberment and imprisonment of the shrinking Palestinian cantons in the West Bank, always with US backing despite occasional minor complaints, accompanied by the wink of an eye and munificent funding.

Powers-that-be have a standard operating procedure for overthrowing an unwanted government: Arm the military to prepare for a coup. Israel and its US ally helped arm and train Fatah to win by force what it lost at the ballot box. The United States also encouraged Abbas to amass power in his own hands, appropriate behaviour in the eyes of Bush administration advocates of presidential dictatorship.

The strategy backfired. Despite the military aid, Fatah forces in Gaza were defeated last month in a vicious conflict, which many close observers describe as a pre-emptive strike targeting primarily the security forces of the brutal Fatah strongman Mohammed Dahlan. Israel and the United States quickly moved to turn the outcome to their benefit. They now have a pretext for tightening the stranglehold on the people of Gaza.

‘To persist with such an approach under present circumstances is indeed genocidal, and risks destroying an entire Palestinian community that is an integral part of an ethnic whole,’ writes international law scholar Richard Falk.

This worst-case scenario may unfold unless Hamas meets the three conditions imposed by the ‘international community’ — a technical term referring to the US government and whoever goes along with it. For Palestinians to be permitted to peek out of the walls of their Gaza dungeon, Hamas must recognise Israel, renounce violence and accept past agreements, in particular, the Road Map of the Quartet (the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations).

The hypocrisy is stunning. Obviously, the United States and Israel do not recognise Palestine or renounce violence. Nor do they accept past agreements. While Israel formally accepted the Road Map, it attached 14 reservations that eviscerate it. To take just the first, Israel demanded that for the process to commence and continue, the Palestinians must ensure full quiet, education for peace, cessation of incitement, dismantling of Hamas and other organisations, and other conditions; and even if they were to satisfy this virtually impossible demand, the Israeli cabinet proclaimed that ‘the Roadmap will not state that Israel must cease violence and incitement against the Palestinians.’

Israel’s rejection of the Road Map, with US support, is unacceptable to the Western self-image, so it has been suppressed. The facts finally broke into the mainstream with Jimmy Carter’s book, ‘Palestine: Peace not Apartheid,’ which elicited a torrent of abuse and desperate efforts to discredit it.

While now in a position to crush Gaza, Israel can also proceed, with US backing, to implement its plans in the West Bank, expecting to have the tacit cooperation of Fatah leaders who will be rewarded for their capitulation. Among other steps, Israel began to release the funds — estimated at $600 million — that it had illegally frozen in reaction to the January 2006 election.

Ex-prime minister Tony Blair is now to ride to the rescue. To Lebanese political analyst Rami Khouri, ‘appointing Tony Blair as special envoy for Arab-Israeli peace is something like appointing the Emperor Nero to be the chief fireman of Rome.’ Blair is the Quartet’s envoy only in name. The Bush administration made it clear at once that he is Washington’s envoy, with a very limited mandate. Secretary of State Rice (and President Bush) retain unilateral control over the important issues, while Blair would be permitted to deal only with problems of institution-building.

As for the short-term future, the best case would be a two-state settlement, per the international consensus. That is still by no means impossible. It is supported by virtually the entire world, including the majority of the US population. It has come rather close, once, during the last month of Bill Clinton’s presidency — the sole meaningful US departure from extreme rejectionism during the past 30 years. In January 2001, the United States lent its support to the negotiations in Taba, Egypt, that nearly achieved such a settlement before they were called off by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak.

In their final Press conference, the Taba negotiators expressed hope that if they had been permitted to continue their joint work, a settlement could have been reached. The years since have seen many horrors, but the possibility remains. As for the likeliest scenario, it looks unpleasantly close to the worst case, but human affairs are not predictable: Too much depends on will and choice.

Noam Chomsky is a professor of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the author, most recently, of Hegemony or Survival Americas Quest for Global Dominance.


FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

Iraq: One in seven joins human tide spilling into neighbouring countries By Patrick Cockburn


Dandelion Salad

By Patrick Cockburn
in Sulaymaniyah
ICH

07/30/07 “The Independent

Two thousand Iraqis are fleeing their homes every day. It is the greatest mass exodus of people ever in the Middle East and dwarfs anything seen in Europe since the Second World War. Four million people, one in seven Iraqis, have run away, because if they do not they will be killed. Two million have left Iraq, mainly for Syria and Jordan, and the same number have fled within the country.

Yet, while the US and Britain express sympathy for the plight of refugees in Africa, they are ignoring – or playing down- a far greater tragedy which is largely of their own making.

The US and Britain may not want to dwell on the disasters that have befallen Iraq during their occupation but the shanty towns crammed with refugees springing up in Iraq and neighbouring countries are becoming impossible to ignore.

Even so the UNHCR is having difficulty raising $100m (£50m) for relief. The organisation says the two countries caring for the biggest proportion of Iraqi refugees – Syria and Jordan – have still received “next to nothing from the world community”. Some 1.4 million Iraqis have fled to Syria according to the UN High Commission for Refugees, Jordan has taken in 750 000 while Egypt and Lebanon have seen 200 000 Iraqis cross into their territories.

Potential donors are reluctant to spent money inside Iraq arguing the country has large oil revenues. They are either unaware, or are ignoring the fact that the Iraqi administration has all but collapsed outside the Baghdad Green Zone. The US is spending $2bn a week on military operations in Iraq according to the Congressional Research Service but many Iraqis are dying because they lack drinking water costing a few cents.

Kalawar refugee camp in Sulaymaniyah is a microcosm of the misery to which millions of Iraqis have been reduced.

“At least it is safe here,” says Walid Sha’ad Nayef, 38, as he stands amid the stink of rotting garbage and raw sewage. He fled from the lethally dangerous Sa’adiyah district in Baghdad 11 months ago. As we speak to him, a man silently presents us with the death certificate of his son, Farez Maher Zedan, who was killed in Baghdad on 20 May 2006.

Kalawar is a horrible place. Situated behind a petrol station down a dusty track, the first sight of the camp is of rough shelters made out of rags, torn pieces of cardboard and old blankets. The stench is explained by the fact the Kurdish municipal authorities will not allow the 470 people in the camp to dig latrines. They say this might encourage them to stay.

“Sometimes I go to beg,” says Talib Hamid al-Auda, a voluble man with a thick white beard looking older than his fifty years. As he speaks, his body shakes, as if he was trembling at the thought of the demeaning means by which he feeds his family. Even begging is difficult because the people in the camp are forbidden to leave it on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Suspected by Kurds of being behind a string of house robberies, though there is no evidence for this, they are natural scapegoats for any wrong-doing in their vicinity.

Refugees are getting an increasingly cool reception wherever they flee, because there are so many of them and because of the burden they put on resources. “People here blame us for forcing up rents and the price of food,” said Omar, who had taken his family to Damascus after his sister’s leg was fractured by a car bomb.

The refugees in Kalawar had no option but to flee. Of the 97 families here, all but two are Sunni Arabs. Many are from Sa’adiyah in west Baghdad where 84 bodies were found by police between 18 June and 18 July. Many are young men whose hands had been bound and who had been tortured.

“The majority left Baghdad because somebody knocked on the door of their house and told them to get out in an hour,” says Rosina Ynzenga, who runs the Spanish charity Solidarity International (SIA) which pays for a mobile clinic to visit the camp.

Sulaymaniyah municipality is antagonistic to her doing more. One Kurdish official suggested that the Arabs of Kalawar were there simply for economic reasons and should be given $200 each and sent back to Baghdad.

Mr Nayef, the mukhtar (mayor) of the camp who used to be a bulldozer driver in Baghdad, at first said nobody could speak to journalists unless we had permission from the authorities. But after we had ceremoniously written our names in a large book he relented and would, in any case, have had difficulty in stopping other refugees explaining their grievences.

Asked to list their worst problems Mr Nayef said they were the lack of school for the children, shortage of food, no kerosene to cook with, no money, no jobs and no electricity. The real answer to the question is that the Arabs of Kalawar have nothing. They have only received two cartons of food each from the International Committee of the Red Cross and a tank of clean water.

Even so they are adamant that they dare not return to Baghdad. They did not even know if their houses had been taken over by others.

Abla Abbas, a mournful looking woman in black robes, said her son had been killed because he went to sell plastic bags in the Shia district of Khadamiyah in west Baghdad. The poor in Iraq take potentially fatal risks to earn a little money.

The uncertainty of the refugees’ lives in Kalawar is mirrored in their drawn faces. While we spoke to them there were several shouting matches. One woman kept showing us a piece of paper from the local authority in Sulaymaniyah giving her the right to stay there. She regarded us nervously as if we were officials about to evict her.

There are in fact three camps at Kalawar. Although almost all the refugees are Sunni they come from different places and until a month ago they lived together. But there were continual arguments. The refugees decided that they must split into three encampments: one from Baghdad, a second from Hillah, south of Baghdad, and a third from Diyala, the mixed Sunni-Shia province that has been the scene of ferocious sectarian pogroms.

Governments and the media crudely evaluate human suffering in Iraq in terms of the number killed. A broader and better barometer would include those who have escaped death only by fleeing their homes, their jobs and their country to go and live, destitute and unwanted, in places like Kalawar. The US administration has 18 benchmarks to measure progress in Iraq but the return of four million people to their homes is not among them.

© 2007 Independent News and Media Limited

see:
Global Pulse – A World of Refugees (video; over 18 only)

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

8 Million Iraqis in Need of Emergency Aid (video) + Half of Iraq “In Absolute Poverty”


Dandelion Salad

CSPANJUNKIEdotORG

JULY 30, 2007 BBC WORLD

***

Half of Iraq “In Absolute Poverty”

Dandelion Salad

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies
ICH
07/30/07 “
Al Jazeera

Up to eight million Iraqis require immediate emergency aid, with nearly half of the population living in “absolute poverty”, according to a report by Oxfam and a coalition of Iraqi groups.

About four million people are lacking food and “in dire need of different types of humanitarian assistance”, said the report, released in Amman on Monday.

“Iraqis are suffering from a growing lack of food, shelter, water and sanitation, health care, education, and employment,” said the report, compiled by Oxfam and the NGO Co-ordination Committee in Iraq (NCCI).

The report also says two million people within the country are currently displaced, while more than two million are refugees.

Most of those refugees have fled to Jordan and Syria.

‘Grim picture’

Said Arikit, a spokesman for the UN mission in Iraq, told Al Jazeera the report painted a “grim picture”.

“Many of the figures and percentages in the report were actually derived from UN sources… so we concur with the findings,” he said.

“The government of Iraq is definitely the authority in Iraq and it bears responsibility for the welfare of its people.”

Iraqi services have been left in crisis as most of those seeking refuge are professionals, according to the report.

“The ‘brain drain’ that Iraq is experiencing is further stretching already inadequate public services, as thousands of medical staff, teachers, water engineers, and other professionals are forced to leave the country,” it said.

The entry of Iraqi refugees to neighbouring countries has placed a growing strain on health, education and social services in the two countries.

Ration crisis

Only 60 per cent of the four million people who depend on food assistance have access to rations from the government-run public distribution system, down from 96 per cent in 2004, the report said.

The number of Iraqis without access to adequate water supplies has risen from 50 per cent to 70 per cent since 2003.

The lack of effective sanitation was also highlighted by the joint report, which said 80 per cent of people in Iraq did not have safe access.

The report said children were the hardest hit by the fall in living standards, stating child malnutrition rates have risen from 19 per cent before the US-led invasion in 2003 to 28 percent currently.

“Despite the constraints imposed by the government of Iraq, the UN and the international donors can do more to deliver humanitarian assistance to reduce unnecessary suffering,” the report said.

One recommendation called for the government of Nuri al-Maliki, Iraq’s prime minister, to decentralise the distribution of aid to local authorities, and make it easier for civil society organisations to operate.

Deaths fall

Meanwhile in Iraq, officials from the US military say they have seen a drop in US troop deaths in July.

In April, the number of US soldiers who died was 104, increased sharply in May when 126 servicemen died, and decreased slightly with 101 troops dead in June.

For the month of July, at least 69 US soldiers have died, about half the casualties in May.

Iraq’s police say the number of civilian deaths also decreased by 36 per cent, from an estimated high of 1,900 in May to 1,342 in June.

General David Petraeus, the US commander in Iraq, said: “The sheikhs and the tribes and the leaders have banded together and made a decision to oppose al-Qaeda and that has resulted in a substantially improved security situation.”

Despite what appears to be at least a temporary let-up in both military and civilian deaths, many say there will be no security without a stable Iraqi government.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies

see:

U.S. drops Baghdad electricity reports

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

SOS: Financial Whistleblowers Under Attack From Industry by Danny Schechter

Dandelion Salad

by Danny Schechter
Pacific Free Press
Sunday, 29 July 2007

Credit Bubble, Toil and Trouble. Yes, I promised myself not to blog during my vacation here in Australia. But two things have have forced me to reconsider. First, it is clear that the housing lending crisis that I have been tracking has surfaced down under as well and throughout the world. We need to keep our eye on the global tidal wave of economic destruction it is creating.

More urgently, one of the websites, Mi-implode, that I have been referencing and that does a great job of tracking all the imploding lenders and criminal mortgage practices, has come under attack from the industry. They are amazing whistle-blowers and deserve our support now that one of the financial companies they have been exposing tries to put them out of business with a malicious law suit.

Here’s their release.

RELEASE: STOP THE ATTACK ON MI-IMPLODE:

SUPPORT A FREE FINANCIAL PRESS

One of the leading websites monitoring the mortgage loan crisis that is unhinging world financial markets is under attack in the courts by a lending agency, Loan Center of California, because an alleged claim in an anonymous email from whistle-blower charging that the company was collapsing, as well as a variety of impropriety charges. Although the general claims were reasonably supported by both public and private evidence available to ml-implode at the time, the lawsuit aims to silence the work of a widely-read, web-based independent financial news outlet, which is now scrambing to raise legal costs.

 

“This is akin to using the courts to shoot the messenger,” says Aaron Krowne, proprietor of the widely-known and valued ml-implode.com website. “This is an example of an attack on the free press and citizen-journalism in the digital age by a well-heeled lending company using deep pockets to undercut outside scrutiny by the public, cloud transparency in the financial markets, and potentially force the website out of business with unsubstantiated claims and mis-placed blame.”

Krowne explains that the web site is run on a shoestring, with the workload shouldered by him (in addition to a full-time job), a partner, and a free-lance contractor, all working part-time. In spite of this, reports contributed by the public (the majority) are only posted if there are multiple independent sources corroborating a claim. This was the case with the whistleblower’s tip on LCC.

Krowne says that in accordance with standard operating procedure, the post was marked as doubtful immediately after LCC complained. However, the company refused to send in a correction for unknown reasons, demanding the information be removed entirely. Krowne says ml-implode relented within a day, and removed the posting from the web page.

However, LCC surprised the site by filing a lawsuit a few weeks later, blaming Krowne and ml-implode for the loss of about $3.8 million in funding, and requesting damages of at least $50,000. LCC did not disclose whether the funding was restored, or explain why major investment banks Credit Suisse and Washington Mutual (the creditors) were not themselves responsible for any business injury LCC suffered. The suit implies the banks acted against solely based on information on the ml-implode site, despite the prominent disclaimers advising otherwise.

Krowne and ml-implode have thus far pursued an “anti-SLAPP” defense, which would provide for early dismissal of the suit and award the defendant legal costs. However, last Friday Judge Franklin Taft denied this motion in a ruling that casts doubt on the state’s ability to abide by its own anti-SLAPP statute. The ruling states that the site “is not an index” (even though this is clearly what it is) and that the submitted letter had been “transformed” (even though it was posted verbatim). The ruling did not address the issue of the site’s disclaimers, which amply explained the meaning of the “imploded” list and imperfect nature of the information on the site. The ruling also did not consider the defendent’s immediate flagging of the item as “doubtful” and its rapid removal within a day.

Krowne says the site is considering seeking an appeal of the anti-SLAPP denial decision. Failing that, the case would proceed to litigation, which Krowne is optimistic about, saying that the site acted reasonably and responsibly, within the best of its abilities. However, Krowne urges that the community’s support is needed to pay for the case.

MI-implode.com has had more than 4.5 million visits since January 1, 2007, according to the site meter on the web page. Currently 105 lending operations are listed as “imploded”.

Please pass this release along to financial journalists and media freedom groups.

IN DEBT WE TRUST SCREENINGS

Paul Hyland wrote to me at Facebook: “Just watched In Debt We Trust in the US Capitol – it got a good reaction (or at least a reaction, a couple Amens, a few wows, that sort of thing). Campaign for America’s Future sponsored the screening.”

Next screening I will be at is August 8 at 6 PM at Downtown Community TV at 87 Lafayette Street in Lower Manhattan organized by NEDAP.

There will also be a screening with Bob Manning in attendance at the American Sociological Association Meeting at 8:30 am on Aug 12th.

 

MORE ON THE CREDIT BUBBLE

Comments to Dissector@mediachannel.org

Blog Resumes Aug 8. Medichannel seeking partners.


FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

Global Pulse: Iran and the US – Less Than Zero (video)

Dandelion Salad

July 30, 2007

For more episodes and other Links programs: http://www.linktv.org/originalseries

It’s been a bad year for Iran-US relations, and both sides have lots to complain about. But each nation’s media portrays events from different, and contradictory, perspectives. This sampling of news coverage from Iran and the US reveals what matters to both sides.