How Do You like Your Skies…Natural or Man-made? (Remake) (video)

Dandelion Salad

8.21.14 replaced the video

ROOK1 4 LIBERTY

09:35 – Aug 10, 2007
Bakersfield SkyWatch – Todd Blackmon – www.bakersfieldskywatch.com

This narrated 10 minute video is a disturbing look at what is happening in our skies and atmosphere on a daily basis. This is a remake with narration, new pictures, and new information. For more info, visit our website: http://www.bakersfieldskywatch.com

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Extraordinary interview with pro-resistance Iraqi Nationalist by Willi Langthaler


Dandelion Salad

Interview conducted by Willi Langthaler
08/10/07 “ICH

“Political process to the benefit of al Qaeda”

Abduljabbar al Kubaysi, influential political leader of the Iraqi resistance and secretary-general of the Iraqi Patriotic Alliance (IPA) elaborates on the new situation evolving in Iraq

Q: In the last period the European media when touching Iraq have been speaking only on a sectarian civil war. What is really happening?

Actually the US occupiers as well as the government imposed by them are pushing for this sectarian civil war. Also the Iranians have interest in this as they are looking for a federation in the South as well. Their attempt is to make the Sunni, the Christians, the Mandeans leave to have a purely Shiite zone. Under the conditions of war this sectarian drive has an immediate effect.

The US uses this as an argument to stay in Iraq as they claim that they would be needed to settle this strife.

There is, however, so much evidence that the intelligence services of the US, of the Iraqi as well as of the Iranian government are the real source of the violence. They plant bombs or pack them into cars which are then being exploded by remote control or by helicopter in both Shiite and Sunni areas deliberately killing civilians not involved in politics. Thus, they try to spark the sectarian conflict.

In the beginning, the media used to check on the site of the blast and often eye witnesses contradicted the official version that a person exploded himself. Now they use to cordon off the area and impede questions to the locals. They want to have the news spread that militants did the massacre while it was governing forces or the US who planted explosive loads. In most of the cases there is no person involved killing himself. In these cases you can be sure that the ruling coalition is involved.

For example, they changed the name of an important road in the Al Adhamiye district in Baghdad from a Sunni religious figure to a Shiite one during the night. It was the Shiite community of al Adhamiye itself to change it back to the original name. Then they came again with their Hummers…

But actually they did not success succeed in creating the rift between Sunnis and Shiites. Yes, in officials politics there is. The Sunni Islamic Party, which is with the Americans, and the Shiite block, which is with Iran and the US, litigate along such lines, but they did not succeed in pushing the ordinary people to go with them. Here and there, there might be some minor conflicts but in substance the broad masses on both sides insist that they are Iraqis regardless of their confession.

Look to Najaf and see the positions of the Arab Shiite Ayatollahs who continue to advocate national unity and oppose the occupation. Or look to Diala province which is composed of 50% Shiites and 50% Sunnis and at the same time is a strong base of the resistance. Two big Shiites tribes, al Buhishma and the followers of Ayatollah Abdul Karim al Moudheris, are with the resistance and everybody knows it. The Ayatollah’s son fell in combat. He was the leader of a big tribal contingent of the resistance. In Baquba, the provincial capital, they cannot do the same cleansing as in Basra with the Sunnis or as in Amara with the Mandeans. In Baquba both Shiite and Sunnis support the resistance. Certainly there are attacks by the different resistance groups on the Iraqi government agencies, the US army, Iranian forces and the Shiite parties and militias like the Madhi army which are inside the political process, but you will not hear of sectarian killings.

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.

China’s “Nuclear Option” is real By Paul Craig Roberts


Dandelion Salad

By Paul Craig Roberts
08/11/07 “ICHTwenty-four hours after I reported China’s announcement that China, not the Federal Reserve, controls US interest rates by its decision to purchase, hold, or dump US Treasury bonds, the news of the announcement appeared in sanitized and unthreatening form in a few US news sources.

The Washington Post found an economics professor at the University of Wisconsin to provide reassurances that it was “not really a credible threat” that China would intervene in currency or bond markets in any way that could hurt the dollar’s value or raise US interest rates, because China would hurt its own pocketbook by such actions.

US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, just back from Beijing, where he gave China orders to raise the value of the Chinese yuan “without delay,” dismissed the Chinese announcement as “frankly absurd.”

Both the professor and the Treasury Secretary are greatly mistaken.

First, understand that the announcement was not made by a minister or vice minister of the government. The Chinese government is inclined to have important announcements come from research organizations that work closely with the government. This announcement came from two such organizations. A high official of the Development Research Center, an organization with cabinet rank, let it be known that US financial stability was too dependent on China’s financing of US red ink for the US to be giving China orders. An official at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences pointed out that the reserve currency status of the US dollar was dependent on China’s good will as America’s lender.

What the two officials said is completely true. It is something that some of us have known for a long time. What is different is that China publicly called attention to Washington’s dependence on China’s good will. By doing so, China signaled that it was not going to be bullied or pushed around.

The Chinese made no threats. To the contrary, one of the officials said, “China doesn’t want any undesirable phenomenon in the global financial order.” The Chinese message is different. The message is that Washington does not have hegemony over Chinese policy, and if matters go from push to shove, Washington can expect financial turmoil.

Paulson can talk tough, but the Treasury has no foreign currencies with which to redeem its debt. The way the Treasury pays off the bonds that come due is by selling new bonds, a hard sell in a falling market deserted by the largest buyer.

Paulson found solace in his observation that the large Chinese holdings of US Treasuries comprise only “one day’s trading volume in Treasuries.” This is a meaningless comparison. If the supply suddenly doubled, does Paulson think the price of Treasuries would not fall and the interest rate not rise? If Paulson believes that US interest rates are independent of China’s purchases and holdings of Treasuries, Bush had better quickly find himself a new Treasury Secretary.

Now let’s examine the University of Wisconsin economist’s opinion that China cannot exercise its power because it would result in losses on its dollar holdings. It is true that if China were to bring any significant percentage of its holdings to market, or even cease to purchase new Treasury issues, the prices of bonds would decline, and China’s remaining holdings would be worth less. The question, however, is whether this is of any consequence to China, and, if it is, whether this cost is greater or lesser than avoiding the cost that Washington is seeking to impose on China.

American economists make a mistake in their reasoning when they assume that China needs large reserves of foreign exchange. China does not need foreign exchange reserves for the usual reasons of supporting its currency’s value and paying its trade bills. China does not allow its currency to be traded in currency markets. Indeed, there is not enough yuan available to trade. Speculators, betting on the eventual rise of the yuan’s value, are trying to capture future gains by trading “virtual yuan.” The other reason is that China does not have foreign trade deficits, and does not need reserves in other currencies with which to pay its bills. Indeed, if China had creditors, the creditors would be pleased to be paid in yuan as the currency is thought to be undervalued.

Despite China’s support of the Treasury bond market, China’s large holdings of dollar-denominated financial instruments have been depreciating for some time as the dollar declines against other traded currencies, because people and central banks in other countries are either reducing their dollar holdings or ceasing to add to them. China’s dollar holdings reflect the creditor status China acquired when US corporations offshored their production to China. Reportedly, 70% of the goods on Wal-Mart’s shelves are made in China. China has gained technology and business knowhow from the US firms that have moved their plants to China. China has large coastal cities, choked with economic activity and traffic, that make America’s large cities look like country towns. China has raised about 300 million of its population into higher living standards, and is now focusing on developing a massive internal market some 4 to 5 times more populous than America’s.

The notion that China cannot exercise its power without losing its US markets is wrong. American consumers are as dependent on imports of manufactured goods from China as they are on imported oil. In addition, the profits of US brand name companies are dependent on the sale to Americans of the products that they make in China. The US cannot, in retaliation, block the import of goods and services from China without delivering a knock-out punch to US companies and US consumers. China has many markets and can afford to lose the US market easier than the US can afford to lose the American brand names on Wal-Mart’s shelves that are made in China. Indeed, the US is even dependent on China for advanced technology products. If truth be known, so much US production has been moved to China that many items on which consumers depend are no longer produced in America.

Now let’s consider the cost to China of dumping dollars or Treasuries compared to the cost that the US is trying to impose on China. If the latter is higher than the former, it pays China to exercise the “nuclear option” and dump the dollar.

The US wants China to revalue the yuan, that is, to make the dollar value of the yuan higher. Instead of a dollar being worth 8 yuan, for example, Washington wants the dollar to be worth only 5.5 yuan. Washington thinks that this would cause US exports to China to increase, as they would be cheaper for the Chinese, and for Chinese exports to the US to decline, as they would be more expensive. This would end, Washington thinks, the large trade deficit that the US has with China.

This way of thinking dates from pre-offshoring days. In former times, domestic and foreign-owned companies would compete for one another’s markets, and a country with a lower valued currency might gain an advantage. Today, however, about half of the so-called US imports from China are the offshored production of US companies for their American markets. The US companies produce in China, not because of the exchange rate, but because labor, regulatory, and harassment costs are so much lower in China. Moreover, many US firms have simply moved to China, and the cost of abandoning their new Chinese facilities and moving production back to the US would be very high.

When all these costs are considered, it is unclear how much China would have to revalue its currency in order to cancel its cost advantages and cause US firms to move enough of their production back to America to close the trade gap.

To understand the shortcomings of the statements by the Wisconsin professor and Treasury Secretary Paulson, consider that if China were to increase the value of the yuan by 30 percent, the value of China’s dollar holdings would decline by 30 percent. It would have the same effect on China’s pocketbook as dumping dollars and Treasuries in the markets.

Consider also, that as revaluation causes the yuan to move up in relation to the dollar (the reserve currency), it also causes the yuan to move up against every other traded currency. Thus, the Chinese cannot revalue as Paulson has ordered without making Chinese goods more expensive not merely to Americans but everywhere.

Compare this result with China dumping dollars. With the yuan pegged to the dollar, China can dump dollars without altering the exchange rate between the yuan and the dollar. As the dollar falls, the yuan falls with it. Goods and services produced in China do not become more expensive to Americans, and they become cheaper elsewhere. By dumping dollars, China expands its entry into other markets and accumulates more foreign currencies from trade surpluses.

Now consider the non-financial costs to China’s self-image and rising prestige of permitting the US government to set the value of its currency. America’s problems are of its own making, not China’s. A rising power such as China is likely to prove a reluctant scapegoat for America’s decades of abuse of its reserve currency status.

Economists and government officials believe that a rise in consumer prices by 30 percent is good if it results from yuan revaluation, but that it would be terrible, even beyond the pale, if the same 30 percent rise in consumer prices resulted from a tariff put on goods made in China. The hard pressed American consumer would be hit equally hard either way. It is paradoxical that Washington is putting pressure on China to raise US consumer prices, while blaming China for harming Americans. As is usually the case, the harm we suffer is inflicted by Washington.


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.

see:

US Hegemony Spawns Russian-Chinese Military Alliance By Paul Craig Roberts

The Grim Reaper pays a visit to Wall Street By Mike Whitney


Dandelion Salad

By Mike Whitney
08/10/07 “ICH

Thursday, August 9, 2007:

Alan Greenspan’s low-interest, subprime, snake-oil Caravan took another spin down Wall Street today—ripping up pavement, knocking down power-poles and sending traders scampering for safety. When the dust finally settled, “Maestro’s” wrecking ball had lopped another 387 points off the Dow Jones leaving markets reeling and investors cringing in fear. No doubt about it; the mood on the “Street” has taken a 180 overnight. A long procession of bears—marching three-abreast with arms locked—can now be seen winding through downtown Manhattan. Their sense of triumph is palpable.

Meanwhile the last wounded bull—still writhing at curbside– is being carted off to slaughter.

MORTGAGE BLUES

No one has summed up the disaster in the mortgage lending business better than Paul Muolo of “Broker Universe”:

“I’ll put it bluntly: if you operate a non-depository mortgage firm and don’t have a deep-pocketed parent or hedge fund as a sugar daddy you’re likely to be out of business by year-end, probably sooner. In the 20-plus years that I’ve been covering residential finance I haven’t seen a financial meltdown this swift since the S&L crisis of the mid-to-late 1980s. One subprime executive who closed his shop a few months ago told me, ‘This is a liquidity crunch the likes I have never seen.’ Meanwhile, the mudslide is rolling downhill from Wall Street to mortgage bankers, to loan brokers, and then the consumer.”

“The mudslide from Wall Street”. That says it all.

In a matter of days, the credit markets have frozen making it impossible to secure financing on anything from a leveraged buyout (LBO) of a major corporation a meager home loan. The cheap money and easy credit have vanished into the summer-ether leaving the investment banks holding $300 of billion toxic debt they have no way of off-loading.

It’s a real mess and there are no simple solutions. Lenders are standing on the sidelines waiting for the next shoe to drop or the next body to float to the surface. Deals are going undone; business is grinding to a halt.

What were the geniuses at the Federal Reserve thinking when they dropped rates to 1% and pumped out trillions of dollars that made their way into “no document” liar’s loans to applicants with bad credit? Didn’t they know there’d be a day of reckoning when the housing and credit bubbles would smash into each other taking down much of the US economy with them?

Was it an honest miscalculation or a sinister plot? Or, maybe, it was just stupidity?

Who knows; who cares. Whatever it was; the aftershocks are bound to be felt for a very long time. Decades maybe.

WARNINGS FROM CHINA

The Chinese have added to the subprime woes by threatening to dump their reserves of US dollars and US Treasuries if congress passes protectionist legislation. According to MarketWatch:

“A report in the U.K.’s Daily Telegraph that China, the second-largest foreign holder of U.S. government debt with $407 billion, is prepared to sell its holdings in the event of U.S.-imposed trade sanctions. Japan owns $615 billion of Treasuries.”

That ought to stop congress in a hurry. China has $1.3 trillion of US paper they can toss into the jet-stream and crash the greenback whenever they choose. That’s why they’ve stockpiled dollar-backed assets for the last decade—not because they like us. They don’t. They intend to use their massive FOREX reserves like a cattle-prod to keep us in line. That’s how bankers always do it. And China is now America’s banker. That’s why it pays to run the country the old fashioned way; by strengthening the manufacturing sector, increasing exports and building up national savings. Debt is just the fast-track to slavery.

China is now calling the shots. If they even get a whiff of US-imposed tariffs, they’ll bring the US economy to its knees. And there’s nothing congress can do about it either. They’d be better off just pulling up a lawn-chair and watching as US jobs and wealth go chugging off to the Far East.

But China is probably the least of our worries. The looming credit crunch is a much bigger immediate concern. The Wall Street Journal provided a glimpse of sudden breakdown in lending in an article earlier this week: (“Credit Chill Freezes Leveraged Deals” WSJ Aug 3)

“The big chill gripping global credit markets has caused 46 leveraged financing deals around the world to be pulled since June 22, representing more than $60 billion in funding that companies had planned for mergers and acquisitions.

The number of deals pulled last year: zero”.

Another article put it like this:

“The investment grade corporate bond market HAS GROUND TO A HALT, making it difficult for companies to access capital and hard for investors to find a place to put their money to work. ….The problems in the primary market could, if they persist, throw a wrench in the workings of corporate America, making it tougher for companies to finance, among other things, investments, buyouts and equity buybacks….For July, corporate bond issuance was down 77% from June.” (“Corporate Bond Market has come to a Standstill”, Wall Street Journal)

Still, President Dumbo assures us that, “There’s enough liquidity in the system to allow markets to correct” and that “the U.S. economy remains the envy of the world.”

Err, correction; “Was the envy of the world.”

The easy money is drying up, the big mergers are slowing down and the hand-wringing in the front office has just begun. Next question: How low can the stock market go?

At present valuations; stocks are vastly overpriced reflecting the inflationary pressures from our recycled $800 billion current account deficit and the loony expansion of the money supply at the Federal Reserve.(now running at a whopping 13%) Presently, the stock market is hanging on by its fingernails. One little gust of wind—like a few more collapsing hedge funds —and the market will go somersaulting through deep-space.

The ISI Group’s Andy Laperriere put it like this: “It’s worse than the most pessimistic assumptions”. In these kinds of financial corrections, it pays to expect more surprises.” (WSJ Aug 6, 2007)

Still, even though the subprime contagion has spread to all loan-categories, the glut of homes continues to increase, and the mortgage industry is flat-lining on the emergency room floor; there is room for optimism. Consider the comforting comments of Secretary of Treasury Henry Paulson:

“I don’t think it (the subprime mess) poses any threat to the overall economy…..In an economy as diverse and healthy as this, losses may occur in a number of institutions, but that overall this is contained and we have a healthy economy.”

“Contained”?!? This is “contained”?

Newsweek’s Daniel Gross had this reaction to Paulson’s remarks:

“If the containment policy of the Cold War worked as well as this subprime-mess containment policy, we’d all be speaking Russian and living on collective farms”.

Gross is right— we’ve only begun to see the spillover from the housing fiasco. There’s plenty more carnage in the pipeline. Paulson needs to stop “blowing smoke” and tell the truth.

“A SELF-REINFORCING NEGATIVE CYCLE”

Economy.com’s head honcho, Mark Zandi, gave the best overview of what lies ahead in the near term as credit becomes scarcer:

“There is a substantial risk that the mortgage market will devolve into a self-reinforcing negative cycle. Mounting credit problems could beget more restrictive underwriting standards, which would weigh heavily on the fragile housing market as potential borrowers become unable to obtain credit, and existing borrowers facing large payment resets are unable to refinance. Foreclosures would mount, leading to weaker house prices, falling homeowners’ equity and even more substantial credit problems. The cycle repeats with more intensity and the mortgage market corrections unravel into a crash.”

The “Great Unwinding” appears to be taking place already and can be expected to accelerate as inflationary pressures increase and the price of oil—which has gained 20% in the last 3 months—continues its upward trek. There are other concerns, too, besides the slump in housing sales and falling stock market. The downstream effects of tight credit will hurt retail sales and employment. We can anticipate a decline in both areas in the next two quarters. Auto makers have already reported the weakest sales in 9 years. There’s also been a steady erosion of investor confidence and a plunge in consumer spending from 3.7% to 1.3%. Credit card debt continues to soar, but that’s only because the poor American consumer is strapped and has no where else to turn. He has no savings and his wages have stagnated. What choice does he have except to use the plastic?

Some market analysts believe that the credit storm will pass without inflicting too much damage. Don’t bet on it. The big picture is pretty grim. Trading in mortgage-backed securities (MBSs) has slowed to a trickle while the appetite for corporate bonds has nearly disappeared. No one really knows how many trillions of dollars will be lost in funky mortgage-related CDOs. But one thing is certain; the blow-ups in the hedge fund industry will continue through the autumn and early winter. These are End Times for the fund managers; they’d better make their ablutions and kiss their kids goodbye.

Still, the sudden reversal in the credit markets is not without its lighter side. Jim Kunstler provided this witty summary of frantic traders trying to sort through the current mess while still enjoying the waning of summer:

“One can only imagine the number of cell phone minutes racked up this weekend out in the Hamptons by players trying desperately to finagle their way out of the brutal fact that their firms and funds suddenly lay exposed to the cruel ravages of reality. A lot of catered crab tidbits and mini-quiches must have gone uneaten out along the dunes as weeping men in blazers realized that “marked to market” had come to mean the same thing as “holding a bundle of shit.”

“Weeping men in blazers.” Priceless. Later in the post, Kunstler offers this synopsis of the subprime, CDO, “Ponzi-loan racket” which is swirling through the financial markets like a tornado:

“The whole racket this time was designed to dissociate the loan contracts as far as possible from their company of origin, and then to slice and dice the liabilities of ownership so finely that all the lawyers theoretically ever producible in the life of this universe, or several like it, may never succeed in patching together a coherent skein of ultimate responsibility. In the meantime, a remorseless chain of mere procedure in the form of default and foreclosure notices issued by computers will be sent through the mail, and sheriff’s deputies will fan out through the subdivisions with their rolls of yellow tape, tossing residents out on the street (if they haven’t already mailed in their keys to some company that fired all its employees and shuttered its offices back in June).” (Clusterfuck Nation by Jim Kunstler)

As the banks tighten up their lending standards; the number of business deals will drop accordingly and the economy will slow to a crawl. This process is already underway. A few “Up Days” in the stock market mean nothing. This is a Force-5 hurricane headed for a trailer park. Nothing will slow it down. The problems are too deeply rooted—the infection too far along. The huge, overleveraged bets will progressively unravel and the economy will go into freefall. It’s always painful when fundamentals re-emerge and economic gravity takes hold.

When credit markets freeze, consumers become wary of spending too much, and the economy stalls. This is how deflationary cycles begin. The Daily Reckoning’s Bill Bonner puts it like this:

“The Fed is still talking about the risk of inflation…while the risk of deflation rises daily. Deflation happens when liquidity dries up. Suddenly, money disappears. Lenders don’t lend. Spenders don’t spend. The velocity of money declines as everyone holds on to what he’s got…fearful of losing it.

When this happens even the feds can’t do much about it. They have their printing presses…but they have no good way of getting the money into the hands of people who will move it around. The usual way is through the credit markets. The Federal Reserve pushes down short-term interest rates, for example, enabling lenders to offer money at lower rates.

But when a deflationary mentality takes hold of people, the last thing they want to do is to borrow money. They’re afraid that they might not be able to pay it back. Besides, in deflation, consumer prices fall….As prices fall, consumers become even more reluctant to spend. They begin to see that they’ll get a better deal if they wait.” (Bill Bonner, “The Daily Reckoning”)

“Spenders don’t spend. Lenders don’t lend”. That says it all. People get scared and liquidity gets choked off at the source. This is the “reinforcing negative cycle” which ends in Depression. The only way it can be avoided is by central banks quickly taking action and priming the economic pump with cheap credit that stimulates economic activity. But the Fed doesn’t want to lower rates because foreign investment will flee the country and put the greenback in a fatal swoon.

According to reports on the internet, the Bank of Canada has assured “financial market participants and the public that it will provide liquidity to support the stability of the Canadian financial system and the continued functioning of financial markets.” (see entire entry at: http://elainemeinelsupkis.typepad.com/money_matters/ )

This sounds serious.

And a similar report on Bloomberg:

“The European Central Bank, in an UNPRECEDENTED RESPONSE to a sudden demand for cash from banks roiled by the subprime mortgage collapse in the U.S., loaned 94.8 billion euros ($130 billion) to assuage a credit crunch….THE ECB SAID IT WOULD PROVIDE UNLIMITED CASH as the fastest increase in overnight Libor since June 2004 signaled banks are reducing the supply of money just as investors retreat because of losses from the U.S. real-estate slump”. (“ECB Offers Unlimited Cash as Bank Lending Costs Soar”; Bloomberg News Aug 9,
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=apKhWv7EHTR0&refer=home )

Hmmmmm. Has the light started blinking RED yet?

CREDIT CRUNCH: Out of the pan, into the fire

The impending credit crisis can’t be avoided, but it could be mitigated by taking radical steps to soften the blow. Emergency changes to the federal tax code could put more money in the hands of maxed-out consumers and keep the economy sputtering along while efforts are made to curtail the ruinous trade deficit. We should eliminate the Social Security tax for any couple making under $60, 000 per year and restore the 1953 tax-brackets for America’s highest earners so that the upper 1%– who have benefited the most from the years of prosperity—will be required to pay 93% of all earnings above the first $1 million income. At the same time, corporate profits should be taxed at a flat 35%, while capital gains should be locked in at 35%. No loopholes. No exceptions.

Congress should initiate a program of incentives for reopening American factories and provide generous subsidies to rebuild US manufacturing. The emphasis should be on reestablishing a competitive market for US exports while developing the new technologies which will address the imminent problems of environmental degradation, global warming, peak oil, overpopulation, resource scarcity, disease and food production. Off-shoring of American jobs should be penalized by tariffs levied against the offending industries.

The oil and natural gas industries should be nationalized with the profits earmarked for vocational training, free college tuition, universal health care and improvements to then nation’s infrastructure.

Unfortunately, these issues cannot be resolved within the framework of the current political model—the system has been thoroughly corrupted by private interest and corporate money. The feudal system of predatory capitalism is incompatible with democratic values, civil liberties, and basic human needs. Ending the two party Duopoly would be a good place to start—along with public funding of political campaigns. Then we can begin the serious work creating a world where environmental protection, human rights, and economic justice have a chance to flourish.

CREDIT MELTDOWN: Another Katrina?

Neither Bush nor his colleagues at the Federal Reserve will use the present crisis to bring about the sweeping changes that would strengthen the middle class, build confidence in the financial system, or eliminate inequities in the present distribution of wealth. Instead, they will choose the path of least resistance, that is, Bernanke will eventually lower interest rates and set-off a hyperinflationary cycle that will destroy the currency, strip workers and pensioners of their savings and retirements, and plunge the country into third-world poverty.

Inflation is the purest form of class warfare. That’s why we can say—with some degree of certainty—that it will be George Bush’s first choice.

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.

08.09.07 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.

August 9, 2007
From:  linktv

For more episodes and other Link TV programs:
http://www.linktv.org/originalseries
“Clashes Erupt Between Al Qaeda & Yemeni Security Forces,” Al Arabiya TV, UAE
“Americans Will Lose War in Iraq,” IRIB2 TV, Iran
“Irregularities Surround Iraq’s Reconstruction Funds,” Baghdad TV, Iraq
“Kurdish PKK Disappointed with Maliki’s Visit to Turkey,” Al Jazeera English, Qatar
“Sixty Days Under Hamas in Gaza,” Dubai TV, UAE
“Israeli Court Renews Ban on Muslim Leader,” Al Jazeera TV, Qatar
“Almost Half Million Israeli Settlers in the West Bank,” Palestine TV, Ramallah
“14 Hamas Members Kidnapped by PA,” Al Aqsa, Gaza
“Mauritania Passes Anti-Slavery Law,” Al Arabiya TV, UAE

Mike Gravel: Cheating at Chess (video)

Dandelion Salad

August 10, 2007
From:  gravel2008

The US Government, including our Democratic Congress, has been treating our foreign policy rationale like a game of chess, a game which we’re cheating at.

The only way to fix this decision making process is to empower the people, which is exactly what Presidential candidate Mike Gravel wants to do.

http://www.gravel2008.us
http://www.ni4d.us

The Daily Show – Band of Brothers By Manila Ryce (video link; Romney)

Dandelion Salad

By Manila Ryce
Published Friday, August 10th, 2007, 5:58 am

As posted earlier, Mitt Romney did an incredibly disrespectful thing by comparing the plight of his 5 sons touring across the country to that of our military men and women serving overseas. Stewart tracks this heroic group and their “tour of Iowa without caffeine”. As in Iraq, these boys are on a mission to bring freedom while burdened with the discrimination that comes with belonging to another religion from a foreign region. Luckily, a search into the contents of their Winnebago (which has yet to be fitted with sufficient armor) breaks the stereotype that Mormons are boring people. From bike rides to ice cream socials, these boys have sacrificed so much for their country. Assif Mandvi gives us a report from the battlefield of the horror which would make any Mormon soil their sacred underwear.

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.

see:

Daily Show: Romneys ‘willing to give up all five of their boys for the Romney campaign’ (video link)

No Bravery in the Iraq War (video; over 18 only)

Thanks to

Critical Region Consulting  Critical ..

for the link to this video.

Dandelion Salad

Warning

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

February 15, 2007
From:  davybrasco No Bravery by James Blunt set to a Sl…

No Bravery by James Blunt set to a Slide Show created by user codenamed Telepathy, am not her or him.

see:

No Bravery (4 minute video) (18 and older please, graphic)

No Bravery Over There

Goading Xerxes: A New Tactical Twist in the Coming War on Iran by Chris Floyd


Dandelion Salad

Written by Chris Floyd
Empire Burlesque
Friday, 10 August 2007

An American strike on Iran is coming closer. It probably won’t take place in the next few weeks, because Bush is on vacation and will not want to be disturbed. And it probably won’t take the form that many have expected (including this writer). But Bush himself has raised the ante in recent days, warning of vague punishments for alleged Iranian misdeeds – and unleashing an outright lie that Iran has openly “proclaimed its desire for nuclear weapons,” when of course the very opposite is true. And now McClatchy Newspapers brings fresh confirmation that the decider behind the Decider – Dick Cheney – is calling for airstrikes against Iran. Indeed, it seems Cheney has already chosen the casus belli for such an attack – a provocation that we will doubtless see occuring any day now.

For some time, it has been thought – with good reason – that the coming Bush-Cheney attack on Iran would be aimed at the country’s rudimentary nuclear power facilities. And it’s true the old “mushroom cloud in American cities” ploy continues to be the Administration’s best propaganda gambit in demonizing Iran and instilling fear of this demon in the public, as Bush demonstrated with his Goebbelsian lie this week. But even a ruthless, authoritarian “Unitary Executive” regime faces some political restraints on its brutal ambitions, as we noted here yesterday. It cannot act on its most radical plans until the PR ground has been properly prepared. (Even a supreme despot like Hitler was forced by public opposition to cancel his “Action T4” program of murdering the “inferior stock” of mentally and physically disabled people in Germany.) And the fact remains that it would be difficult to move even the docile American public to any great support for a sudden, massive assault on Iran’s nuclear sites, when even the White House has to admit that Iran does not have nuclear weapons yet.

Continued…

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see:

Cheney Urges Strike on Iran: McClatchyBush threatens al-Maliki then Backs OffBombing in Taji Kills 7 by Juan Cole

Might blackmail explain the Dems’ spinelessness? by Glitzqueen (aka The Other Katherine Harris)

glitzqueen

Featured writer
Dandelion Salad

by The Other Katherine Harris
glitzqueen’s blog post
Aug. 10, 2007

I’m not saying it does, but this certainly COULD explain why so many Democrats won’t stand up to Shrub and His Thugs: A tangle of radical Republican tech firms has controlled most federal government communications for years!

What should be an immeasurably huge story is so far mainly confined to the website of ePluribusMedia, to which I was led by a few diary entries on Daily Kos.

It isn’t the sort of issue one raises lightly — being almost up there with speculation that 9/11 and the Kennedy and King assassinations were inside jobs — so I’ve been slow to mention it. And during the four months that I’ve been noodling the possibility, the plot has thickened. In the wake of Prosecutorgate, others have asked “Are Rove’s Missing E-mails the Smoking Guns of the Stolen 2004 Election?” — linking the servers hosting Ohio election returns with those used for RNC e-mail accounts inside the White House and for just about Everything Republican in cyberspace.

Beyond that shocking connection, the same network block also hosts the firm that employs busy Bushies working behind the Congressional firewall for the House Committee on Administration (responsible for telecommunications, IT networks including committee intranets, finance, HR and every other administrative aspect of our House of Representatives). This crew is still in posish for wiretapping, grabbing e-mails and otherwise weaseling in the woodwork, unless the new Congress fired them. Even if they’ve recently been canned, they were there from 2001, when former HCA head Bob Ney invited them in.

Yes, Ney is in prison now, a confessed member of the Abramoff Gang.

Also sullied is Republican internet guru Mike Connell, Ney’s fellow-Ohioan who serves as the point of intersection for all involved in this complex setup. He was axed for “unethical” tactics during Poppy Bush’s campaign, but the reprimand was really a love-pat, since he became a cozy family friend and went on to help both Jeb and Georgie. He’s subsequently built a client list that reads like a GOP “Who’s Who”. Companies overtly his are New Media Communications and Connell Donatelli, Inc. The firm behind the Congressional firewall, GovTech Solutions, is nominally headed by Connell’s wife and was certified “woman-owned” for government contracting purposes by Ohio’s former Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell — as scandal-ridden a figure as Mrs. Connell’s partner, Thomas Synhorst, a Rove operative, Bush campaign consultant and lobbyist active in creating “astroturf” front groups for corporations, trying to burnish the image of horrible governments like Burma’s and engaging in such dirty tricks as malicious robo-calling in many states during last fall’s election season. Further linking Connell with Karl Rove is the latter’s protégé, Barry Jackson, who now runs the White House Office of Strategic Initiatives (responsible, essentially, for seeing that the prez gets his way). Connell and Jackson were school chums at the University of Iowa in the early 1980s, part of a Young Republicans coterie distinguished for black bag jobs, stealing student elections and running phone-bank scams and rent-a-mob intimidation operations. Nice kids.

Want to know more? Here’s what I’ve seen, virtually guaranteed to persuade you it’s a miracle if our Congress isn’t somehow compromised by Connell’s techno-mafia:

Who is Michael L. Connell? Part I: The Atwater School of Politics

Behind the firewall, Who is Mike Connell? Part II

Ken Blackwell Outsources Ohio Election Results to GOP Internet Operatives, Again

Ohio’s election website still sent real-time results to GOP mirror server

GOP’s Cyber Election Hit Squad Exposed

Are Rove’s Missing E-mails the Smoking Guns of the Stolen 2004 Election?

Wonder if they’ll try subpoena-ing these guys. I’m not holding my breath.

From Pakistan to the Potomac: The Terror Warriors’ Enduring Victory by Chris Floyd

Dandelion Salad

Written by Chris Floyd
Thursday, 09 August 2007

Our frozen friend, Winter Patriot, is on fire this week, weighing in on, among other things, the state of emergency now being mootedand denied — in Pakistan.  WP has been covering the seething cauldron in this pivotal nation more thoroughly than almost anyone else in the blogosphere, and brings his in-depth knowledge to the latest tremor in Pakistan’s quaking political landscape.

He takes special note of the powerful, well-placed extremist elements emerging from the chaos. The curse of Bush’s “friendship” has weakened Musharaff’s standing as a strong, independent leader in the eyes of his people, which in turn has forced him into increasingly hardline measures to bolster his faltering authority. As an unconstitutional military dictator, Musharaff has no institutional legitimacy as the ruler of Pakistan; everything depends on his personal stature, and the willingness of various powerful factions to acquiesce to his leadership. One by one, these factions, both religious and secular, are withdrawing that acquiescence, and Musharaff is watching his authority bleed away.

The result could be a nightmare scenario: a failed, extremist-riddled state with nuclear weapons. [Hmm, sounds a bit like a description of Bush’s America, doesn’t it?] Then again, what better way to ensure the continuation of the “War on Terror”? Islamic extremists with nuclear bombs? Smell the fear, baby. Or as they used to sing back in the Harding Adminstration, “My God, How the Money Rolls In!”

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.

see:

President Mussarif will set a side Democracy for Pakistan! (video)

FISA Revised: A Blank Check for Domestic Spying by Prof. Marjorie Cohn

Dandelion Salad

by Prof. Marjorie Cohn
Global Research, August 10, 2007

Responding to fear-mongering by the Bush administration, the Democrat-led Congress put its stamp of approval on the unconstitutional wiretapping of Americans.

George W. Bush has perfected the art of ramming ill-considered legislation through Congress by hyping emergencies that don’t exist. He did it with the USA Patriot Act, the authorization for the Iraq war, the Military Commissions Act, and now the “Protect America Act of 2007” which amends the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

FISA was enacted in 1978 in reaction to excesses of Richard Nixon and the FBI, who covertly spied on critics of administration policies. FISA set up a conservative system with judges who meet in secret and issue nearly every wiretapping order the administration requests.

But that wasn’t good enough for Bush. In 2001, he secretly established his “Terrorist Surveillance Program,” with which the National Security Agency has illegally spied on Americans. Instead of holding hearings and holding the executive accountable for his law-breaking, Congress capitulated once again to the White House’s strong-arm tactics. As Congress was about to adjourn for its summer recess, Bush officials threatened to label anyone who opposed their new legislation as soft on terror. True to form, Congress – including 16 Senate and 41 House Democrats – caved.

The new law takes the power to authorize electronic surveillance out of the hands of a judge and places it in the hands of the attorney general (AG) and the director of national intelligence (DNI). FISA had required the government to convince a judge there was probable cause to believe the target of the surveillance was a foreign power or the agent of a foreign power. The law didn’t apply to wiretaps of foreign nationals abroad. Its restrictions were triggered only when the surveillance targeted a U.S. citizen or permanent resident or when the surveillance was obtained from a wiretap physically located in the United States . The attorney general was required to certify that the communications to be monitored would be exclusively between foreign powers and there was no substantial likelihood a U.S. person would be overheard.

Under the new law, the attorney general and the director of national intelligence can authorize “surveillance directed at a person reasonably believed to be located outside of the United States .” The surveillance could take place inside the U.S. , and there is no requirement of any connection with al-Qaeda, terrorism or criminal behavior. The requirement that the AG certify there is no substantial likelihood a U.S. person will be overheard has been eliminated.

By its terms, the new law will sunset in 180 days. But this is a specious limitation. The AG and DNI can authorize surveillance for up to one year. So just before the statute is set to expire around February 1, 2008, they could approve surveillance that will last until after Bush leaves office.

There is provision for judicial review of the procedures the AG and DNI establish to make sure they are reasonably designed to ensure communications of U.S. persons are not overheard. But that requirement is also specious. They must submit their procedures to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court 120 days after the effective date of the act. The court doesn’t have to respond to their submission until 180 days after the effective date of the act, and the standard of review is appallingly low. It’s limited to whether the government’s determination is “clearly erroneous.” Even if the court were to find the proffer clearly erroneous, the AG and DNI have another 30 days to fix it. That takes the entire review process beyond the 6 month sunset period. Meanwhile, the surveillance can continue.

The Supreme Court held in the 1967 case of Katz v. United States that government wiretapping must be supported by a search warrant based on probable cause and issued by a judge. In 1972, the Court, in U.S. v. U.S. District Court (Keith), struck down warrantless domestic surveillance. The Court has recognized the “special needs” exception to the warrant requirement. The special need must be narrowly tailored to the problem. However, the new law is much too broad to come under this exception. Congress eliminated any need that the person surveilled be a foreign power or an agent of a foreign power. The government need only show it is seeking “foreign intelligence information.” There is no requirement of any connection with terrorism. The special needs exception also requires an absence of discretion in the implementing authority. There is unlimited discretion now as long as the target is reasonably believed to be outside the United States .

The AG is required under the new law to report to Congress semi-annually, but only on incidents of non-compliance. Can we really trust Alberto Gonzales to be forthcoming about compliance with this law? Senator Christopher Dodd told Glenn Greenwald at the YearlyKos convention last week that neither he nor the other senators have any idea of how the Bush administration has been using its secret program to spy on Americans.

Finally, the new law requires telephone companies to collect data and turn it over to the federal government. It also grants immunity against lawsuits to these companies, many of which are currently defendants in civil cases.

Indeed, the mad rush to push this legislation through last week was likely a preemptive strike by Bush to head off adverse rulings in lawsuits challenging the legality of his Terrorist Surveillance Program. On August 9, a federal district court in San Francisco will hear oral arguments by lawyers from the Center for Constitutional Rights and the National Lawyers Guild in CCR v. Bush. And on August 15, Guild lawyers and others will argue Al-Haramain v. Bush in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

In six months, when the “Protect America Act of 2007” is set to expire, there will be even more political pressure on Congress to appear tough on terror in the run-up to the 2008 presidential election. We cannot expect a Congress that so easily caved in to the fears hyped by the Bush administration to stand firm in support of the Constitution.

Marjorie Cohn is a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and President of the National Lawyers Guild. Her new book, Cowboy Republic: Six Ways the Bush Gang Has Defied the Law, has just been published by PoliPointPress. Her articles are archived at http://www.marjoriecohn.com/.

Marjorie Cohn is a frequent contributor to Global Research.  Global Research Articles by Marjorie Cohn


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Fighting the Democrats’ Complicity with Bush by Prof. Francis Boyle

Dandelion Salad

by Prof. Francis Boyle

Global Research, August 10, 2007

AfterDowningStreet.org

Despite the massive, overwhelming repudiation of the Iraq war and the Bush Jr. administration by the American people in the November 2006 national elections conjoined with their consequent installation of a Congress controlled by the Democratic Party with a mandate to terminate the Iraq war, since its ascent to power in January 2007 the Democrats in Congress have taken no effective steps to stop, impede, or thwart the Bush Jr. administration’s wars of aggression against Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, or anywhere else, including their long-standing threatened war against Iran. To the contrary, the new Democrat-controlled Congress decisively facilitated these serial Nuremberg crimes against peace on May 24, 2007 by enacting a $95 billion supplemental appropriation to fund war operations through September 30, 2007.

In the Spring of 2007 all the Congressional Democrats had to do was nothing. They could have sat upon the supplemental appropriation request for war operations by the Bush Jr. administration and thus failed to enact it into law. At that point, the money for war operations would have gradually run out, and the Bush Jr. administration would have been forced to have gradually withdrawn U.S. armed forces from Iraq and Afghanistan. Instead of so doing, the Congressional Democrats knowingly prolonged these wars of aggression and thus in the process became aiders and abettors to these Nuremberg crimes against peace.

Under the terms of the United States Constitution, the President cannot spend a dime unless the money has somehow been appropriated by the United States Congress. Article 1, Section 9, Clause 7 of the United States Constitution expressly provides: “No money shall be drawn from the treasury, but in consequence of appropriations made by law…” Furthermore, Article 1, Section 8, Clause 12 of the Constitution also provides that “Congress shall have power… To raise and support armies, but no appropriation of money to that use shall be for a longer term than two years…”

America’s Founders and Framers deliberately strove to keep America’s prospective military establishment on a financial short-leash tightly held by the hands of Congress precisely because of their well-founded fear that a standing army would constitute a dire threat to the continued existence of the Republic based upon their recent experience confronting and defeating King George III’s standing army. As the American July 4, 1776 Declaration of Independence stated their objections in part: “…He has kept among us, in Times of Peace, Standing Armies, without the consent of our Legislatures. He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power… For quartering large Bodies of Armed Troops among us…”

Congress must use its constitutional power of the purse to terminate the Bush Jr. administration’s wars of aggression immediately. Those Congressional incumbents of either political party who refuse to do so must be replaced by men and women of good faith and good will of any or no political party who will do their constitutional duty to terminate ongoing Nuremberg crimes against peace. To the contrary, the current leadership of the Democratic Party (though, to be sure, not all Democrats), let alone most of the Republicans, have been complicit with all the atrocities that the Bush Jr. administration has inflicted upon international law, international organizations, human rights, the United States Constitution, civil rights, civil liberties, Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, and elsewhere since September 11, 2001.

Further confirmation of this proposition can be found in the fact that when the self-described Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan went on July 23, 2007 with 200 protesters to speak with Democratic Congressman John Conyers — Chair of the House Judiciary Committee that has supervisory jurisdiction over bills of impeachment — about starting impeachment proceedings against President Bush Jr., at the end of an hour Congressman Conyers ordered her and 45 others arrested for disorderly conduct when they refused to leave his office. In other words, one of the leaders of the Democratic Party arrested one of the leaders of the American Peace Movement for insisting that he and his congressional colleagues perform their constitutionally-mandated duties. Nothing could be more symptomatic of the constitutional, moral, and political bankruptcy of the so-called two-party system of politics in the United States of America: Republicans versus Democrats, Tweedle Dum versus Tweedle Dee.

Since the Democrats’ Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi had already ruled arbitrarily that President Bush’s impeachment was “off the table,” Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan announced her intention to run against Pelosi in the 2008 national elections. Once again Mrs. Sheehan’s instincts, principles, judgment, and strategy are directly on target. The American people must oppose, defeat, and replace all members of the United States Congress of any political party who will not impeach President Bush and Vice President Cheney in order to terminate their needlessly – inflicted death and destruction in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Somalia as soon as possible. The so-called leaderships of both political parties have left the American people with no alternative. Even more urgently, the Neo-Conservative cabal known as the Bush Jr. administration are still threatening, planning, preparing, and conspiring to attack Iran, which could very well set-off World War III. Just recently they added nuclear-armed Pakistan to their publicly proclaimed list of targets.

Meanwhile, the Bush Jr. administration’s “surge” of 30,000 troops into Iraq announced in January of 2007 has marched on to its inexorable bloodbath for the Iraqi people and U.S. armed forces.There is more than enough circumstantial evidence to conclude that the underlying strategy of the Bush Jr. administration is nothing more than to postpone their inevitable defeat in Iraq until after their departure from office in January 2009 no matter what the cost in lives to Iraqis and Americans. But the world cannot wait until January of 2009 for America to start to end these wars and their related war crimes, as well as to prevent more threatened wars, especially against Iran or Pakistan, which could prove catastrophic for humankind.

The United States Congress must immediately and simultaneously proceed to exercise both its constitutional power of the purse and its constitutional power of impeachment toward that end. That is the bilateral strategy which the U.S. Congress pursued a generation ago in order to terminate the Nixon administration’s criminal wars of aggression against Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. That must be the bilateral strategy by which the U.S. Congress today terminates the Bush Jr. administration’s criminal wars of aggression against Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, and otherwise perhaps soon Iran or Pakistan. Despite Pelosi’s disingenuous protestations to the contrary, the Nixon/Vietnam precedent proves that Congressional impeachment and cutting-off funds for wars are mutually reinforcing strategies. They might even win the 2008 U.S. Presidential and Congressional elections for those who embrace them.

Francis Boyle is a frequent contributor to Global Research. Global Research Articles by Francis Boyle

 


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www.globalresearch.ca contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available to our readers under the provisions of “fair use” in an effort to advance a better understanding of political, economic and social issues. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving it for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than “fair use” you must request permission from the copyright owner.

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© Copyright Francis Boyle, AfterDowningStreet.org, 2007 he url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=6501