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

Dandelion Salad

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

Selected Episode

Nov. 2, 2007


For more episodes and other Link TV programs:
“Hamas Launches Rockets in Retaliation,” Al Jazeera TV, Qatar
“Gaza Faces Environmental Catastrophe,” Al Aqsa, Gaza
“Iraqi Students Unable to Attend Classes,” Baghdad TV, Iraq
“Interview With Maliki,” Al Arabiya TV, UAE
“More Sanctions on Iran?” Dubai TV, UAE
“Mauritanian Opposition Demands Government’s Resignation,” Abu Dhabi TV, UAE
“Children Abducted from Darfur,” Al Jazeera English, Qatar
“MIR: Good Kurds, Bad Kurds,” Link TV, USA
Produced for Link TV by Jamal Dajani.

Sarkozy accused of working for Israeli intelligence by Gamal Nkrumah

Dandelion Salad

by Gamal Nkrumah
Global Research, November 3, 2007
Al Ahram Weekly

Sarkozy’s bad week

As if his marital challenges were not enough cause for concern, “Sarco the Sayan” has suddenly emerged as the most infamous accolade of French President Nicolas Sarkozy. The influential French daily Le Figaro last week revealed that the French leader once worked for — and perhaps still does, it hinted — Israeli intelligence as a sayan (Hebrew for helper), one of the thousands of Jewish citizens of countries other than Israel who cooperate with the katsas (Mossad case-officers).

A letter dispatched to French police officials late last winter — long before the presidential election but somehow kept secret — revealed that Sarkozy was recruited as an Israeli spy. The French police is currently investigating documents concerning Sarkozy’s alleged espionage activities on behalf of Mossad, which Le Figaro claims dated as far back as 1983. According to the author of the message, in 1978, Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin ordered the infiltration of the French ruling Gaullist Party, Union pour un Mouvement Populaire. Originally targeted were Patrick Balkany, Patrick Devedjian and Pierre Lellouche. In 1983, they recruited the “young and promising” Sarkozy, the “fourth man”.

Ex-Mossad agent Victor Ostrovsky describes how sayanim function in By Way Of Deception: The Making and Unmaking of a Mossad Officer. They are usually reached through relatives in Israel. An Israeli with a relative in France, for instance, might be asked to draft a letter saying the person bearing the letter represents an organisation whose main goal is to help save Jewish people in the Diaspora. Could the French relative help in any way? They perform many different roles. A car sayan, for example, running a rental car agency, could help the Mossad rent a car without having to complete the usual documentation. An apartment sayan would find accommodation without raising suspicions, a bank sayan could fund someone in the middle of the night if needs be, a doctor sayan would treat a bullet wound without reporting it to the police.

And, a political sayan ? It’s rather obvious what this could mean. The sayanim are a pool of people at the ready who will keep quiet about their actions out of loyalty to “the cause”, a non-risk recruitment system that draws from the millions of Jewish people outside Israel.

Such talk sends chills down spines, especially Arab and Muslim ones. Indeed, the revelation did not go unnoticed in Arab capitals or come as much of a surprise. Paris can be a sunny place for shady people. When it comes to intelligence gathering on behalf of Israel, a question mark is immediately raised on the moral calibre of the person in question. But, how does this scandal influence France’s foreign and domestic politics?

It is of symbolic significance that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was on a state visit to France in the immediate aftermath of Le Figaro ‘s exposé — ostensibly to discuss Iran’s nuclear agenda and the Palestinian question. Proud and prickly France under its supposedly savvy new president hopes to play a more prominent role in the perplexing world of Middle Eastern politics. On Monday, Sarkozy flew to Morocco, the ancestral home of many of France’s Jewry, soon after his Mossad connection was made public. There is no clear evidence that the revelation is to make France any more unpopular in the Arab world than it already is, especially not in official circles.

On the domestic front, however, there are many conflicting considerations. The Jews of France now display a touch of the vapours, in sharp contrast to the conceited triumphalism with which they greeted his election: “we are persuaded that the new president will continue eradicating anti-Israeli resistance,” Sammy Ghozlan, president of the Jewish Community of Paris pontificated soon after Sarkozy’s election. France is home to 500,000 Jews, mostly Sephardic Jews originally from North Africa and Mediterranean countries.

Sarkozy’s own maternal grandfather Aron Mallah, hailed from Salonika, Greece, and is said to have exercised considerable influence on his grandson. Even though raised as a Roman Catholic, “Sarkozy played a critical role in moving the French government to do what is necessary to address the ill winds that threaten the largest Jewish community in Western Europe,” noted David Harris, the executive director of the American Jewish Committee. Sarkozy, after all, was a political product of the predominantly Jewish elite neighbourhood of Neuilly-sur-Seine, where he long served as mayor.

France’s Muslim minority was far from surprised by Le Figaro ‘s revelations, even though some may have feigned disappointment. Others have been more forthright. “France is not run by Frenchmen, but by lackeys of the Zionist International who control the economy,” lamented Radio Islam, of militant Islamist tendencies. When Sarkozy was France’s minister of interior and clamped down hard on Muslim immigrants, calling mainly Muslim rioters “scum” in a widely-publicised interview, they retaliated by calling him “Sarkozy, sale juif [dirty Jew]”. Obviously there is no love lost between the five million-strong French Muslim community, the largest in Western Europe, and the French president. He has grounds for concern. He assiduously courts the Israelis. That much is known.

In the scientific annals of French politics there is a cautionary tale of pantomime. French presidents are not always what they seem. There are, however, two key observations concerning Sarkozy. One, is Sarkozy’s intention of implementing a “new social contract” between employers and employees, capital and labour. This smacks of Thatcherism. His determination to force a “cultural revolution” in the collective national psyche is a trifle farcical. And unprincipled to boot. He recently introduced legislation — in tandem with his pension cuts, calling for genetic profiling of immigrants to ensure any relatives intending to immigrate are linked genetically. The strategy appears to be to soften the blow of the social security cuts by appealing to xenophobic racism.

The state of race relations in France is an even more muddled picture than the devastating caricatures by French-African comedian Dieudonne suggest. He is notorious for playing the part of a Hassidic Jew who mimics the Nazi salute. Few politicians blame their troubles on cynical comedians, though, and Sarkozy is no exception. His fans point accusing fingers at the “irresponsible press”.

The real magic starts when you power Sarkozy with his ex-model wife. She, after all, played a part in the freeing of the Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian medical doctor. She, too, is of Spanish-Jewish ancestry. But, that may be nothing but an insignificant aside. France, generally, regarded their bust-up as something of a bad joke. Unlike the Americans, the French do not take the private lives of their presidents terribly seriously. There was the late François Mitterrand, for example. Hardly anyone in all France raised an eyebrow when it transpired that he had an illegitimate daughter. The French are more concerned with the ideological orientation and political affiliation of their president and are not in the least interested in their private affairs — at least not in any political sense.

The interesting twist, however, is that the contest between Cecilia and Nicolas Sarkozy is a comic cross between a lover’s tiff and the battle of the sexes. It appears befuddled French voters are being forced to turn a blind eye to their leaders’ antics. Sarkozy’s divorce follows hard on the heels of the separation of France’s first female presidential candidate Ségolène Royal, the “gazelle” of French politics, from her lifelong lover François Hollande barely a month after she lost the presidential race in May. Moreover, at the tender age of 19, Royal sued her father for his refusal to divorce her mother and pay alimony and child support. That was way back in 1972; barely a decade later she won the case against her father. Ironically, Royal’s own mentor the late French socialist president Mitterrand was notorious for his extra-marital affairs, the most conspicuous being his love affair with Anne Pingeot and subsequent disclosure towards the end of his life that he fathered an illegitimate daughter Mazarine with her.

And, what of the voters? The latest hazard facing the French president has been his socio-economic policies. Sarkozy’s showdown with the trade unions threatens to turn into a deciding moment for France. Foreign policy, too, has come under much scrutiny. France has become fanatically Atlanticist under the presidency of Sarkozy. Although, unlike US President George W Bush, Sarkozy does not make much noise about his own dubious religious convictions. The commonest criticism of Sarkozy is that he is overly conscious of his religious heritage, a trait that is not appreciated by the fanatically secular French political establishment. France is culturally the most irreligious country in Europe, itself the most secular and anti-religious of the world’s continents.

For a politician acclaimed for his acumen, it is startling that Sarkozy has been tripped up by events he should have seen coming. His sagacity obviously failed him this week. Le Figaro let the cat out of the bag. And his wife, too, after shopping with Lyudmila Putin, the Russian first lady, apparently decided that she had had enough of being treated as “part of the furniture” and made their rift very public.

France is now in the awkward position of having no first lady. The 49 year-old former model, lawyer and political advisor is by no means media shy. “I gave Nicolas 20 years of my life,” she told the popular French magazine Elle in a special feature which she asked for personally, despite the awkwardness of its timing. She had long complained of being politically peripheralised. Troubling as that interpretation is, it is in a way a consoling one for Sarkozy. He is now free to handle his opponents without his maverick Cecilia breathing down his neck or, on the contrary, disappearing at crucial moments.

Even with his personal life in tatters, Sarkozy is obliged to hoist the French tricoleur high in the international arena. Which flag is it to be?

Global Research Articles by Gamal Nkrumah
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© Copyright Gamal Nkrumah, Al Ahram Weekly, 2007
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State to Blackwater: Nothing You Say Can and Will Be Used Against You in a Court of Law by Jeremy Scahill

Dandelion Salad

by Jeremy Scahill
The Huffington Post

Apparently there is one set of rights for Blackwater mercenaries and another for the rest of us. Normally when a group of people alleged to have gunned down 17 civilians in a lawless shooting spree are questioned, investigators will tell them something along the lines of: “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.” But that is not what the Blackwater operatives involved in the September 16 Nisour Square shooting in Iraq were told. Most of the Blackwater shooters were questioned by State Department Diplomatic Security investigators with the understanding that their statements and information gleaned from them could not be used to bring criminal charges against them, nor could they be introduced as evidence. In other words, “Anything you say can’t and won’t be used against you in a court of law.”

ABC News obtained copies of sworn statements given by Blackwater guards in the immediate aftermath of the shootings, all of which begin, “I understand this statement is being given in furtherance of an official administrative inquiry,” and that, “I further understand that neither my statements nor any information or evidence gained by reason of my statements can be used against me in a criminal proceeding.” Constitutional law expert Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, says the offering of so-called “use immunity” agreements by the State Department is “very irregular,” adding he could not recall a precedent for it. In normal circumstances, Ratner said, such immunity is only granted after a Grand Jury or Congressional committee has been convened and the party has invoked their 5th Amendment rights against self-incrimination. It would then be authorized by either a judge or the committee.

Military law expert Scott Horton of Human Rights First says, “What the State Department has done in this case is inconsistent with proper law enforcement standards. It is likely to undermine an ultimate prosecution, if not make it impossible. In this sense, the objective of the State Department in doing this is exposed to question. It seems less to be to collect the facts than to immunize Blackwater and its employees. By purporting to grant immunity, the State Department draws itself more deeply into the wrongdoing and adopts a posture vis-a-vis Blackwater that appears downright conspiratorial. This will make the fruits of its investigation a tough sell.”

Ratner says that while what was offered the Blackwater operatives is not immunity from prosecution, prosecutors would need to prove they did not use the sworn statements as part of their investigation. “Even though the person can be prosecuted if independent evidence is relied upon, often this is hard to demonstrate,” he says. As an example of the problems such immunity can pose, Ratner points to the case of Oliver North. “He had been granted ‘use immunity’ and was then prosecuted, supposedly on the basis of independent evidence,” Ratner says. “However, his conviction was reversed in the court of appeals because it could not be demonstrated that all of the evidence against him had an independent source outside of his own testimony.”

Aside from the fundamental problem that there is quite possibly no legal framework for charging the Blackwater shooters under any legal system–US civilian law, military law or Iraqi law–legal analysts and a former federal prosecutor say the State Department has already tainted the Nisour Square criminal investigation in several ways. The FBI was not dispatched to investigate the case until two weeks after the shootings occurred, meaning that the initial investigation was in the hands of a non-law enforcement agency that just happens to be Blackwater’s employer. By the time actual law enforcement, the FBI, was sent to Baghdad, the crime scene had been tainted and some of the perpetrators questioned with the alleged immunity provision. “To rely on non-law enforcement to conduct sensitive law enforcement activities makes no sense if you want impartial justice,” says Melanie Sloan, a former federal prosecutor who currently serves as Executive Director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. “This investigation has already taken so long and it looks like the State Department has impeded the possibility of a successful criminal investigation.” The Washington Post reported that “Some of the Blackwater guards have subsequently refused to be interviewed by the FBI, citing promises of immunity from State.”

This is hardly the first indication that the government’s investigation of the Nisour Square shootings was lacking in integrity and impartiality. The State Department’s initial report on the shooting was drafted by a Blackwater contractor on official US government stationary. The FBI team initially dispatched to Baghdad to investigate Blackwater was to be guarded by Blackwater until Sen. Patrick Leahy raised questions about the arrangement forcing the Bureau to announce it would be guarded by official personnel and not personnel from the same company it was investigating.

Perhaps the most disturbing part of this story (aside from the loss of Iraqi civilian life) is that even if Blackwater was not so politically connected to the White House and even if there was a truly independent US Justice Department and even if immunity had not been offered and even if there was an aggressive investigation, it may all be totally irrelevant. When Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice recently dispatched a team to Baghdad led by veteran diplomat Patrick Kennedy to review the department’s private security force, the team returned with the conclusion that it “is unaware of any basis for holding non-Department of Defense contractors accountable under US law.”

While there are currently moves afoot in the US Congress to adjust language in the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act to allow for prosecutions of State Department contractor crimes in US civilian courts and although there is a debate over whether the court martial system could be applied, the reality is that the political will to prosecute contractors has been totally absent since day one of the Iraq occupation. Not a single armed contractor has ever been prosecuted for crimes committed in Iraq–not under US civilian law, not under military law and certainly not in Iraqi courts, which have been banned by the US occupation authorities from going after private contractors.

What is so often lost in this new debate on accountability and oversight is this fact: private contractors now outnumber regular soldiers on the Iraq battlefield. The military–with its massive bureaucracy–has been unable or unwilling to effectively monitor the actions of its soldiers and prosecute them for crimes. Who will effectively oversee the 180,000-strong shadow corporate army? Will FBI teams really be running around Iraq chasing allegations (ever increasing) of contractor crimes and misconduct? Who will guard the investigators? Who will interview Iraqi witnesses? Where will the funding come from? Who will arrest the heavily-armed mercenary alleged to have committed a crime, particularly when he was doing exactly what he was supposed to do in keeping VIP US officials alive in Iraq?

While there may be some token prosecutions that stem from the recent uptick in reporting on contractor crimes in Iraq, the reality is that without private forces from Blackwater and its ilk, the US occupation of Iraq would be untenable. Nothing will be done that would actually jeopardize the use of such forces in the war zone. While Blackwater’s conduct in Iraq is horrifying, it is important to remember that US ambassadors–all four who have served under the Iraq occupation–owe their lives to Blackwater’s shoot-first-and-never-ask-questions cowboy tactics. They are the reason the company can brag it has never lost an American life it was protecting. Blackwater does its job and while it is essential to prosecute its operatives for their crimes, the ultimately responsible party is the entity that hired them and deployed them armed and dangerous in Iraq.

Jeremy Scahill is the author of the New York Times bestseller Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army. He is currently a Puffin Foundation Writing Fellow at the Nation Institute.

Copyright © 2007 HuffingtonPost.com, Inc.

h/t: Speaking Truth to Power


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. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


Blackwater’s Owner Has Spies for Hire By Dana Hedgpeth

Olbermann: Bush’s Tantrum + Giuliani + Blackwater Immunity + Worst + Chris Matthews (videos)

Bill Moyers Journal: Jeremy Scahill on Blackwater (video; Iraq)

Blackwater: Hired Guns, Above the Law by Jeremy Scahill (+ video)

Tomgram: Nick Turse, Big-Game Hunting in Iraq By Tom Engelhardt

Blackwater’s Owner Has Spies for Hire By Dana Hedgpeth

Dandelion Salad

By Dana Hedgpeth
The Washington Post
Saturday 03 November 2007

Ex-US operatives dot firm’s roster.

First it became a brand name in security for its work in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now it’s taking on intelligence.

The Prince Group, the holding company that owns Blackwater Worldwide, has been building an operation that will sniff out intelligence about natural disasters, business-friendly governments, overseas regulations and global political developments for clients in industry and government.

The operation, Total Intelligence Solutions, has assembled a roster of former spooks – high-ranking figures from agencies such as the CIA and defense intelligence – that mirrors the slate of former military officials who run Blackwater. Its chairman is Cofer Black, the former head of counterterrorism at CIA known for his leading role in many of the agency’s more controversial programs, including the rendition and interrogation of al-Qaeda suspects and the detention of some of them in secret prisons overseas.

Its chief executive is Robert Richer, a former CIA associate deputy director of operations who was heavily involved in running the agency’s role in the Iraq war.

Total Intelligence Solutions is one of a growing number of companies that offer intelligence services such as risk analysis to companies and governments. Because of its roster and its ties to owner Erik Prince, the multimillionaire former Navy SEAL, the company’s thrust into this world highlights the blurring of lines between government, industry and activities formerly reserved for agents operating in the shadows.

Richer, for instance, once served as the chief of the CIA’s Near East division and is said to have ties to King Abdullah of Jordan. The CIA had spent millions helping train Jordan’s intelligence service in exchange for information. Now Jordan has hired Blackwater to train its special forces.

“Cofer can open doors,” said Richer, who served 22 years at the CIA. “I can open doors. We can generally get in to see who we need to see. We don’t help pay bribes. We do everything within the law, but we can deal with the right minister or person.”

Total Intel, as the company is known, is bringing “the skills traditionally honed by CIA operatives directly to the board room,” Black said. Black had a 28-year career with the CIA.

“They have the skills and background to do anything anyone wants,” said RJ Hillhouse, who writes a national security blog called The Spy Who Billed Me. “There’s no oversight. They’re an independent company offering freelance espionage services. They’re rent-a-spies.”

The heart of Total Intel operations is a suite on the ninth floor of an office tower in Ballston, patterned after the CIA counterterrorist center Black once ran, with analysts sitting at cubicles in the center of the room and glass offices of senior executives on the perimeter.

A handful of analysts in their 20s and 30s sit hunched over Macintosh computers, scanning Web sites, databases, newspapers and chat rooms. The lights are dimmed. Three large-screen TVs play in the background, one tuned to al-Jazeera.

The room, called the Global Fusion Center, is staffed around the clock, as analysts search for warnings on everything from terrorist plots on radical Islamic Web sites to possible political upheavals in Asia, labor strikes in South America and Europe, and economic upheavals that could affect a company’s business.

“We’re not a private detective,” Black said. “We provide intelligence to our clients. It’s not about taking pictures. It’s business intelligence. We collect all information that’s publicly available. This is a completely legal enterprise. We break no laws. We don’t go anywhere near breaking laws. We don’t have to.”

Total Intel was launched in February by Prince, who a decade ago opened a law enforcement training center in Moyock, N.C., that has since grown into a half-billion-dollar business called Blackwater Worldwide. Prince has nine other companies and subsidiaries in his Prince Group empire, offering a broad range of security and training services. (One, Blackwater Security Consulting, is under scrutiny because of a Sept. 16 shooting incident in Iraq that involved some of its armed guards and in which 17 Iraqi civilians were killed.) Prince built Total Intel by buying two companies owned by Matt Devost, the Terrorism Research Center and Technical Defense, and merging them with Black’s consulting group, the Black Group. Devost, a cyber security and risk management expert, is now president of Total Intel.

Devost runs day-to-day operations, overseeing 65 full-time employees. At the Global Fusion Center, young analysts monitor activities in more than 60 countries. They include a 25-year-old Fulbright scholar fluent in Arabic and another person with a master’s degree in international affairs, focused on the Middle East, who tracks the oil industry and security in Saudi Arabia.

Black and Richer spend much of their time traveling. They won’t say where. It’s a CIA thing. Black called at midnight recently to talk about Total Intel from “somewhere in the Middle East.”

“I don’t spend a lot of time telling people where I am as part of my business,” he said. “I am discreet in where I go and who I see. I spend most of my time dealing with senior people in governments, making connections.”

Black, who also serves as vice chairman of Blackwater Worldwide, said he also does “a lot more mundane things like go to conferences and trade shows,” looking for business opportunities. “I’m going to have to go,” he said. “My guy is motioning for me. I have to go meet people.”



Government people? Business people?

All kinds.

The company won’t reveal its financial information, the names of its customers or other details of its business. Even looking at an analyst’s screen at its Global Fusion Center wasn’t allowed.

“No, no,” Richer said, putting his hands up. “There may be customers’ names on there. We don’t want you to see.”

In their conference room overlooking the Global Fusion Center, Total Intel executives fired off a list of some of their work. Are some recent bombings at major cities in India isolated incidents or should you pull your personnel out? What are the political developments in Pakistan going to mean for your business? Is your company popping up on jihadist Web sites? There’s been crime recently in the ports of Mexico, possibly by rogue police officers. Is the government going to be able to ensure safety?

Since 2000, the Terrorism Research Center portion of the company has done $1.5 million worth of contracts with the government, mainly from agencies like the Army, Navy, Air Force, Customs and the U.S. Special Operations Command buying its data subscription or other services.

To Black and Richer, one of the most surprising things about being in the private sector is finding that much of the information they once considered top secret is publicly available. The trick, Richer said, is knowing where to look.

“In a classified area, there’s an assumption that if it is open, it can’t be as good as if you stole it,” Richer said. “I’m seeing that at least 80 percent of what we stole was open.”

As he’s no longer with the CIA, Richer said he’s found that people are more willing to share information. He said a military general in a country he would not name told him of the country’s plan to build its next strike fighter. “I listened,” Richer said.

“We talked business and where we could help him understand markets and things like that.” At the end of the conversation, Richer said, he asked the man, “Isn’t that classified? Why are you telling me this?”

Richer said the man answered, “If I tell it to an embassy official I’ve created espionage. You’re a business partner.”


Staff researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.

h/t: Speaking Truth to Power

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. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Is The USA A Giant Enron? By Charles Hugh Smith (+ video)

Dandelion Salad

By Charles Hugh Smith
Speaking Truth to Power
Saturday, 03 November 2007

I finally got around to watching the documentary Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room which is based on the book The Smartest Guys in the Room by Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind.

As a refresher, recall that Enron was the 7th largest corporation in the U.S. (by market cap) in its heyday. From those lofty heights it fell rapidly into bankruptcy in late 2001. Indictments of its top officers were finally issued in 2004, and trials were finally held in 2006 which resulted in long prison sentences for the white-collar perps who destroyed 20,000 jobs, $2 billion in employees’ pensions and $60 billion in stock market investors’ holdings. While its shenanigans were in full swing behind closed doors and cooked books, Enron was recommended as a “buy” by dozens and dozens of analysts.

Considering the fraud, mismanagement and lies propping up our entire economy and financial system, I wonder if the U.S.A. is more or less a giant Enron, clinging desperately to a precipice of deception which is rapidly crumbling.

The standard media line is that “we’ve learned from Enron, Worldcom, et. al.” I would submit that is true, but not in the way the mainstream media suggests: the financial Powers That Be learned how to lie and deceive from the masters at Enron.
Bottom line: nothing was as it seemed at Enron. How is our entire financial system any different?

There are three trades which assume what is being presented on the surface is either deceptive or distorted by half-truths: marriage counselors, reporters and intelligence officers ( i.e. spies). Perhaps we should take a professional skeptics’ view of the “facts” reported by our financial system’s handlers.

How is our financial system based on cooked books, lies and deceptions? Let me count the ways:

I. Bogus inflation numbers. I have covered this at length over the past few years; please refer to the links in this entry for more: Inflation/Deflation II: Is The Answer How We Measure? (January 9, 2007)

The best single source for information on the “real” rate of inflation (roughly 6-7%, not the phony 2% cited by our government agencies and the Fed) is John Williams’ Shadow Government Statistics Analysis Behind and Beyond Government Economic Reporting.

The site has in-depth analysis of just how the CPI etc. is manipulated: GOVERNMENT ECONOMIC REPORTS: THINGS YOU’VE SUSPECTED BUT WERE AFRAID TO ASK!

A deceptively low rate of inflation is the essential Big Lie behind our economy and financial system. As Fed Chairman Bernanke often reminds us, inflation lies (pun intended) in the mind: once inflationary expectations are built into citizens’ minds, inflation becomes a reality. So the key job of the government’s “factoid” factories is to create the illusion of low inflation.

How can anyone be foolish enough to doubt their own experience? Hasn’t anyone else noticed that gasoline prices that used to start with 2 now start with 3? Has no one else seen the costs of milk, meat, grain, education, medical care, drugs, government fees (hidden taxes) skyrocket, even as the Fed crows about the fake PCE and “core” inflation rates remaining at 1.9%?

Unfortunately, we all have the ability to ignore experience in favor of “official reality.” This was starkly and sadly illustrated last year when a techie and his family became lost in the backroads of Oregon. Despite the fact that the road was unlit and unpaved and progressively becoming more primitive, the man continued to place his faith in a map he’d printed off the Web. Thus do we deny the reality in front of our noses because the “official and therefore trusted” Fed claims inflation is minimal.

Of course the deceptive practice of breaking out “core inflation” began in the high-inflation early 70s as a method of masking the inflation everyone was seeing with their own eyes. The deception worked so well that it remains a key tool in the “Emperor has no clothes” toolbox.

Want to keep that pesky entitlement spending down? Make sure the inflation/ cost-of-living adjustment to those millions of checks remains artificially low.

2. The Unemployment rate is also manipulated down. The Big Picture had a good comment on August 6 Closer Look at July NFP (or, true UR = 5.4%) which covers the completely phony “birth death model” which is a “black box” calculation used to create jobs out of thin air. Mish has an excellent account of this chicanery: Martian Economists and BLS Moonbats.

Bottom line: “discouraged workers” are not counted as unemployed. You’d think not having a job when you used to have one would mean you were unemployed. But if you’re laid off and don’t find work within the 6 months you report to the State Unemployment office, then you cease being unemployed. Is there any possible reason for this other than artificially suppressing the unemployment rate? And the purpose of that, of course, it to fool the people into believing everything is just fine and they can continue to spend money they don’t have in fasle confidence.

3. GDP is back-adjusted lower every quarter. This is like a magic trick performed for people with short-term memory loss: we seem to fall for the same trick every 3 months. GDP is announced on page One or as a Yahoo headline as surging, strong, up, etc. and then a few months later, a downward revision is buried on Page C-17.

4. Balance sheets of corporations, pension funds and government agencies massively understate liabilities and overstate assets/future earnings. The Federal Governmewnt alone faces unfunded liabilities of between $49 and $59 trillion which is a heap of cash: How Large Is the Federal Government’s Debt?

Elsewhere, corporate and public pension plans routinely extrapolate the outsized returns of the past 20 years Bull Market in stocks and bonds into the future, as if returns which are historically higher than the norm are sure to continue indefinitely. On what basis are these rosy projections made and swallowed? Pardon my skepticism, but this sounds like Enron announcing it’s “broadband on demand” business was set to take off. The reality behind the lies was that the company’s broadband business was a huge money pit from Day One.

5. Visibly laughable lies are mouthed by top officials with a straight face. Treasury Secretary Paulson never tires, apparently, of announcing that the subprime meltdown is “contained” and won’t affect the resilient, stupendous, ever-growing U.S. economy, even as evidence piles up that it is indeed affecting the larger credit markets and thus the economy.

So how is the U.S. financial system any different from Enron? Cooked books, bogus announcements, bald-faced lies offered to calm any public skepticism: welcome to the United States of Enron.

For more on this subject and a wide array of other topics, please visit my weblog.

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Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (trailer)


July 04, 2007


What if all drugs were legal? by Harry Browne

Dandelion Salad

by Harry Browne
Populist Party

The Drug Warriors‘ biggest argument against medical marijuana is that it’s only the opening wedge in a movement toward total legalization of drugs. So, supposedly, we have to “nip it in the bud” – in the words of Deputy Barney Fife, the nation’s first Drug Czar.

What if the Drug Warriors are right?

What if legalizing medical marijuana turned out to be the first step on a journey that ended in the outright repeal of every drug law? What would America be like?

Understandably, many Americans fear that with no drug laws, we would have hundreds of thousands of addicts, crack babies, children trying drugs, and other evils. But that’s what we have now.

Let’s assume the worst

If all drugs were legal, addicts would no longer pay black-market prices to criminals for drugs of questionable and dangerous origin. They would get drugs produced by legitimate pharmaceutical companies and pay market prices. They would no longer die from buying toxic drugs, and they would no longer have to mug innocent people to support their habits.

If all drugs were legal, addicts could seek help by going to doctors – no longer afraid of being prosecuted for their medical problems.

If all drugs were legal, criminal drug dealers would no longer be on our streets. They couldn’t compete with the low, free-market prices for drugs sold at pharmacies.

If all drugs were legal, criminal drug dealers would no longer prey upon our children – any more than distilleries and breweries try to infiltrate schools to hook kids on alcohol. When I grew up in Los Angeles in the 1940s, the worst schools were safer than L.A.’s best schools are today.

If all drugs were legal, our government would no longer be dispensing propaganda that makes children want to try the forbidden fruit.


h/t: “Uber-Kore=001”Randomlight / Israel-laster

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. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Meet the Kucinichs (video)

Dandelion Salad

CBS: Meet The Kucinichs
Ohio Democratic congressman and ’08 presidential hopeful Dennis Kucinich and his wife, Elizabeth, speak with Hannah Storm about the campaign trail.

Meet the Kucinichs (video)

h/t: After Downing Street


Rep. Dennis Kucinich has been working for us for years (video)

Kucinich Will Introduce Privileged Resolution To Force Up Or Down Vote On Cheney Impeachment

It’s Kucinich Time! By Scott Raab

Dispatches from the Other Side of Despair by The Other Katherine Harris

The Other Katherine Harris

by The Other Katherine Harris

Featured writer
Dandelion Salad

The Other Katherine Harris’s blog
Nov. 2, 2007

“Where does one go from a world of insanity?
Somewhere on the other side of despair.”
~ T.S. Eliot, from his play The Family Reunion

Alongside the surfeit of Getting It Wrong that prevails in our world of insanity, a couple of countries have gotten two crucial things right. There’s much we could learn from Argentina and from Iceland about how to deal with our economic and energy crises, respectively. But trust our media not to report these good news stories well, since they fly in the face of what passes here for wisdom.

Dispatch 1: Argentina. Only the LA Times seems to have acknowledged the sheer sense behind Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner’s presidential win last week. Her party and that of her husband, the previous president, grew the nation’s economy by more than 50 percent in the past five and half years — making it the Western Hemisphere’s fastest-growing — while liberating more than 11 million people (28 percent of the population) from the abject poverty that befell them under the evil sway of the IMF/World Bank’s gang of looters. Yeah, by defaulting on $100 billion in crippling debt at the end of 2001, they lost foreign investment and the ability to borrow directly in international bond markets, but those proved no great losses. The recovery didn’t require strong exports, either; they contributed only about 13 percent to the result. All it took was, as Mark Weisbrot put it, getting “basic macroeconomic policies right” — which meant reining in an overvalued currency that favored artificially cheap imports, while keeping interest rates low enough to promote growth, never mind inflation. Thus the Kirchners and their colleagues achieved average annual growth that, at 8.2 percent, was more than twice the average for Latin American nations. Further, wages have soared by more than 40 percent (adjusted for inflation).

Sounds like heaven from where most Americans sit, having steadily lost buying power and benefits for 30 years, doesn’t it? And yet we keep being told that our only possible future lies in pandering to giant transnationals and even paying them to ship our jobs offshore. In the Argentinan version of the word, mierda del toro.

Dispatch 2:  Iceland.  Back in the 1970s, when our effed-up government inflicted Pinochet on Chile and everything in South America started going swiftly to hell for all but a tyrannical elite, Iceland was one of the world’s poorest nations.  Now it’s one of the most affluent, ranked fifth in GDP per capita, based on three decades of utterly sane energy policy. We were making headway in that arena, ourselves, until Reagan pulled the plug on developing solar, wind and other energy alternatives that vied with what his buddies were selling. Come recently to our shores bearing the gospel of geothermal energy, Iceland’s President Olafur Grimmson said we’re also sitting on goldmines of the stuff. According to Byron White, writing for The Daily Reckoning a few days ago, Grimmson told both a Harvard audience and members of our (unreasonably uninformed) Senate that the U.S. sits atop “the second-largest geothermal resources in the world” — more than highly volcanic Iceland has and yet Grimmson’s folk are “heat-mining” so effectively that foreign companies have queued up to obtain such cheap electricity. “Fully 100% of Iceland’s electricity now comes from renewable sources, geothermal and hydroelectric,” wrote White, “and almost all buildings … are heated with geothermal energy … (A)bout 72% of … energy usage is tied to geothermal sources, which eliminates essentially all carbon emissions and dramatically reduces reliance on imported fossil fuels.” Citing a second source, Walter Snyder, director of the Intermountain West Hydrothermal Consortium, White added that “known but untapped sites in Western states could be developed within a reasonable time to produce … the equivalent (of) about 15 nuclear power plants or 30 coal-fired plants.” And Snyder imparted that information to the same Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources a year ago!

So why do you reckon we’re being railroaded into subsidizing lunatic alternatives like filthy coal, immensely dangerous nuclear power and biofuels that experts warn will starve the world’s poorest people and are already contributing to sharply rising hunger in America?

Here in the world of insanity, Andrea Hopkins wrote for Reuters on October 30: “The Hormel Hunger Survey released on Monday … found 64 percent of Americans believe US hunger has worsened in the last year, with 13 percent saying they or someone in their family had gone to bed hungry in the past month. Sixty percent said they have had to cut back on the quality or quantity of food they buy because of higher prices, while 29 percent said they expected to ask for food from a food bank or other charitable organization in the future.”


Biofuel: Another Flawed Policy (video)

It’s Time to Fire Washington! by Debbie Lewis (Homegrown Terrorism)

Dandelion Salad

by Debbie Lewis
Global Research, November 2, 2007

When will United States Citizens ever decide enough is enough and fire Washington?

Congress is pulling another fast one and no one is paying attention. As if wanting to control the entire population via the latest proposed commission, H.R. 1955, otherwise known as the “Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007,” is a slick piece of legislation. The way it reads, we are heading straight for an Authoritarian style government (like we are not in one already!).

This new bill is to be added to Title VIII of the Homeland Security Act of 2002, another questionable piece of legislation. Where, may one ask, is representation for “We the People?” The vote for passage in the House of Representatives was 404 ayes to 6 nays and 22 representatives not voting. People on the right or the left think their representation is the best, but quite frankly, there is clearly little difference. Of the fifteen sponsors for this bill, eleven of them are Democrats. The bill has now moved to the Senate for approval, with its two sponsors being Republican.

The title, alone, is offensive. “Homegrown Terrorism?” It will come as no surprise, but the language is also extremely vague. Take the very first line: “To prevent homegrown terrorism and for other purposes.” The Senate version has similar language: “To establish the National Commission on the Prevention of Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism, and for other purposes.”

Honestly, “…for other purposes?” We pay these people how much and we get “…for other purposes” in a piece of legislation governing the United States of America? Can they be more vague? Furthermore, why aren’t more US citizens outraged at such unclear language?

The definitions for the phrases “violent radicalization,” “homegrown terrorism,” as well as “ideologically based violence” are almost as interesting as the terminology “…for other purposes.”

To radicalize means to go through sweeping change, while radicalization means to go from an active or passive stance to one of a more militaristic or intense stance. Are they talking about the United States citizens or the US government? Our government has taken on a vastly more violently radicalized stance in this War on Terror, but, so far, the citizens are taking a more peaceful approach, that of public protests. Do they mean to say that these protests are somehow violently radicalizing? I attended the rather large End the War rally in Washington DC on September 15, 2007, and it wasn’t violent at all. In fact, it was inspiring!

What about the oh-so-cleverly coined phrase “ideologically based violence?” According to the framers of this piece of legislation, this string of words is to mean the “use, planned use or threatened use of force or violence by a group or individual to promote the group or individual’s political, religious or social belief.” First of all, planned use? Are they now referring to thought crimes? Secondly, what about the threats of government to try and force the Real ID card on us, or vaccines, or the loss of our civil liberties? Would that not fall under this same category? If so, it appears to me the first casualty of this new legislation should be…The USA PATRIOT Act!

In light of these definitions, one must wonder if the current Congress would see our founding father’s actions as homegrown terrorism using violent radicalization and ideologically based violence to set our country free from the tyrannical government of England. Better yet, can the citizens of the United States consider the current administration as using violent radicalization and ideologically based violence to promote their agenda around the world or promote an idea, here at home?

This is sounding more and more like the War on Terror is coming home, and not in a good way! The internet has been sited as an aid in “facilitating violent radicalization….” (Our government hasn’t figured out a way to take a controlling interest in the internet yet, now have they?) Also, according to HR 1955, preventing such behavior cannot be readily brought about by the “traditional Federal intelligence or law enforcement efforts.” They plan to include state and local efforts, as well as including the US Postal Service and university-based Centers of Excellence, these latter being established by the Secretary of Homeland Security. This Commission sounds like it is being governed by…The USA PATRIOT Act!

If I’m not mistaken, though, I do believe President Bush did say, “…either you are with us, you are with the terrorists.” In light of the growing disenchantment of the US citizens with regards to this illegal war, does that make United States citizens the enemy of the United States government it elects? Apparently so, hence the need for this commission and legislation!

This newly proposed ten member Commission for the prevention of these so-called violent radicalizations, homegrown terrorists, and ideologically based violent groups and individuals is going to look toward governments in other countries that have knowledge and “significant experience” in dealing with such behavior, such as the UK, Canada and Australia. We know that the UK is one of the most surveilled countries on the planet and Canada was financially worse off than the US, until recently. I guess I didn’t realize the UK, Canada, and Australia had such problems with their citizens behaving so badly!

It is past time for us, as good US Citizens, to hold our elected officials responsible for the shoddy legislation they are enacting, especially since they are enacting it on our behalf! When will we learn? When will we take up the fight for our own freedoms? When will we be educated enough to realize we need to fire our representatives in Washington and find a better way to preserve our way of life that doesn’t include thousands of pieces of unnecessary legislation?


House of Representatives Text of H.R. 1955: Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007

http://www.govtrack.us/congress/vote.xpd?vote=h2007-993 House Vote for HR 1955

http://www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=s110-1959 Senate Text of S. 1959: Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radicalization Radicalization is the transformation from passiveness or activism to more revolutionary, militant or extreme postures. Radicalization is often associated with youth, adversity, alienation, social exclusion, poverty or the perception of injustice to self or others.

http://encarta.msn.com/dictionary_/radicalization.html Radicalize-change fundamentally: to undergo fundamental change, or introduce sweeping change in something. Make or become politically radical: to adopt politically radical views or cause somebody to do this.

http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2001/09/20010920-8.html Address to a Joint Session of Congress and the American People

http://www.undersiegemovie.com/moreinfo.html Documentary “One Nation Under Siege”

http://www.dhs.gov/xres/programs/editorial_0498.shtm Homeland Security Centers of Excellence


Global Research Articles by Debbie Lewis

Big Brother: House passes the “Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act” by Lee Rogers

One Nation Under Siege – What if everything you were ever told was a lie? (vid; over 18 only)

The CRG grants permission to cross-post original Global Research articles on community internet sites as long as the text & title are not modified. The source and the author’s copyright must be displayed. For publication of Global Research articles in print or other forms including commercial internet sites, contact: crgeditor@yahoo.com

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.

For media inquiries: crgeditor@yahoo.com
© Copyright Debbie Lewis, Global Research, 2007
The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=7242

MIR: Good Kurds, Bad Kurds (video)

Dandelion Salad


For more visit http://www.linktv.org
Mosaic Intelligence Report – November 2, 2007

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice designates the rebel Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, a “common enemy.” America assists the Kurds in Iraq and opposes the ones in Turkey . Why the double Standard? And will Turkey invade northern Iraq?

Answers to these questions and more on Link TV’s Mosaic Intelligence Report.

Added: November 02, 2007


Double-crossing in Kurdistan By Pepe Escobar

The Thunder of Turkish War Drums By Eric Margolis