Kucinich Amendment Passes, Creates New Jobs + CA Wildfires + Ohio’s Nuclear Power Plants

Dandelion Salad

Kucinich Amendment Passes, Creates New Jobs

by Dennis Kucinich

Washington, Dec 6 – As the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill to update the nation’s energy sources today, Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) claimed a major victory with the passage of his amendment. The amendment would create new jobs and training programs for people to perform personalized building energy efficiency evaluations.

“This amendment will put America on a path toward making substantial increases in energy efficiency,” Kucinich said. “If we’re serious about energy efficiency, we need experts that can give an individualized analysis of opportunities to eliminate waste.”

The Kucinich Amendment provides training services to veterans, at-risk youth and unemployed people to provide comprehensive energy audits to homes, businesses and industries.

Energy audits provide information on where to get the greatest potential efficiency gains, at the least cost. Because the workforce that performs these audits is currently small, the audits are expensive. The Kucinich Amendment will create a new cadre of these experts.

On June 27, 2007, H.R. 2847, the Green Jobs Act of 2007, which provided for training for thousands of new green collar jobs, was considered in the House Committee on Education and Labor.  Kucinich, the only Member from Ohio on the Committee, offered an amendment to the act, which was accepted by Chairman George Miller (D-CA), and passed unanimously. The Green Jobs Act was included in HR 6, the energy bill which passed the House today.


Domestic Policy Subcommitte Hearing: What the October Wildfires Reveal About Preparedness In Southern California

by Dennis Kucinich

Washington, Dec 6 
– On October 21, a wildfire began in Witch Creek, a rural area in the foothills of San Diego. At the height of the disaster, 23 fires were burning. By the time all the fires were contained, 368,000 acres of land had been burned; 1,700 homes were destroyed; and 10 people died.

The damage caused by the Witch Creek fire could have been much worse were it not for the capable response efforts of local, state and federal emergency responders. The absence of additional fires in San Diego’s surrounding counties and in Northern California also helped make the story of southern California’s October wildfires a success.

This hearing will examine southern California’s preparedness for future wildfires.

What the October Wildfires Reveal About Preparedness In Southern California

Monday, December 10, 2007
9 a.m.
Fallbrook Public Utilities District
Board Meeting Room
990 East Mission Road
Fallbrook, CA 92028

Witnesses for the December 10 hearing include:

Panel I
•    Mr. Tony Morris, Founder and Researcher, Wildfire Research Network
•    Mr. Jeffrey Bowman, Former Fire Chief, City of San Diego Fire-Rescue Department
•    Ms. Tracy Jarman, Fire Chief, City of San Diego Fire-Rescue Department
•    Mr. P. Michael Freeman, Fire Chief, Los Angeles County Fire Department
•    Mr. Chip Prather, Fire Chief, Orange County Fire Authority
•    Mr. Ruben Grijalva, Director, Department of Forestry and Fire Protection
•    Mr. Ron Roberts, Chairman, Board of Supervisors, County of San Diego

Panel II
•    Ms. Nancy Ward, Region 9 Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
•    Mr. Mark Rey, Undersecretary for Natural Resources and the Environment, U.S. Department of Agriculture

Panel III
•    Mr. Steve Poizner, Commissioner, California Department of Insurance
•    Ms. Tracy Nelson, Chairman, La Jolla Indian Reservation


Kucinich Asks Ohio Governor For Greater Emergency Preparedness For Ohio’s Nuclear Power Plants

by Dennis Kucinich

Washington, Dec 6 – In a meeting with Ohio Governor Ted Strickland today, Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), asked the governor to look into updating and improving emergency preparedness for Ohio’s nuclear power plants.

“Malfunctioning nuclear power plants in Ohio have become systemic,” Kucinich said. “Over the last several years, these facilities have become unsafe and unreliable because of poor management by FirstEnergy.

“Nuclear power plants in Ohio are famous to regulators for being mismanaged and FirstEnergy is responsible. There is something fundamentally wrong with the way FirstEnergy is running its nuclear power plants and the results of their poor management could be fatal.”

Kucinich has actively sought greater government oversight for FirstEnergy in looking out for the health, safety and safe water supply for Ohio’s residents. The Davis-Besse and Perry plants are on top of the largest supply of fresh water in the world.

Just last week, FirstEnergy’s Perry Nuclear Power Plant automatically shut down. The emergency closure occurred as two water cooling pumps malfunctioned and portions of the backup system failed. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is still investigating exactly what caused the water cooling pumps to malfunction.

Kucinich wrote a letter to the NRC last week, detailing the history of poor management at the plant and requesting a briefing a soon as is “reasonably practicable.”  The NRC has stated that their inspection would be finished in seven days, with a report to follow in 45 days. This incident was not the first time the Perry plant had an unplanned shutdown. Most recently, in July, the Perry plant closed for a month when FirstEnergy had to replace a reactor recirculation pump motor.

The Davis-Besse nuclear facility, also operated by FirstEnergy, nearly caused a massive disaster for the residents of Northern Ohio in February 2002. A football-sized crater was found in the reactor vessel and experts predicted the plant might have been as close as 60 days away from bursting the slim steel liner that stood in the way of the radioactive release into the air.

“It is vitally important that Ohio residents have an emergency preparedness procedure in place. We need improved planning, response and communication by federal, state and local governments to deal with the frequent reactor accidents.

“FirstEnergy’s record of incompetence and deception proves that their nuclear plants pose a hazard to public health and safety. The least the State of Ohio must do is adopt robust plans to provide Ohio residents with the safety and security they deserve,” Kucinich said.

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.

Olbermann: Romney’s Mormon Speech + Profiteering + Worst + Intel Inside (videos)

Dandelion Salad



Dissecting Romney’s Mormon Speech

Billions in Profiteering at the Dept of Homeland Security


Worst Person

And the winner is…..Glenn Beck. Runners up Bill O’Reilly and Joe Klein.

Intel Inside

Keith discusses what Bush knew and when he knew it about the NIE with Flynt Leverett, a former senior Director for Middle East Affairs on George Bush’s Security Counsel. Bush knew a year ago about the information the report contained.

Blackwater’s Bu$ine$$ By Jeremy Scahill + What is Blackwater’s Role in the 2008 Presidential Race? (videos)

Dandelion Salad

By Jeremy Scahill
12/06/07 “
The Nation

Gunning down seventeen Iraqi civilians in an incident the military has labeled “criminal.” Multiple Congressional investigations. A federal grand jury. Allegations of illegal arms smuggling. Wrongful death lawsuits brought by families of dead employees and US soldiers. A federal lawsuit alleging war crimes. Charges of steroid use by trigger-happy mercenaries. Allegations of “significant tax evasion.” The US-installed government in Iraq labeling its forces “murderers.” With a new scandal breaking practically every day, one would think Blackwater security would be on the ropes, facing a corporate meltdown or even a total wipeout. But it seems that business for the company has never been better, as it continues to pull in major federal contracts. And its public demeanor grows bolder and cockier by the day.

Rather than hiding out and hoping for the scandals to fade, the Bush Administration’s preferred mercenary company has launched a major rebranding campaign, changing its name to Blackwater Worldwide and softening its logo: once a bear paw in the site of a sniper scope, it’s now a bear claw wrapped in two half ovals–sort of like the outline of a globe with a United Nations feel. Its website boasts of a corporate vision “guided by integrity, innovation, and a desire for a safer world.” Blackwater mercenaries are now referred to as “global stabilization professionals.” Blackwater’s 38-year-old owner, Erik Prince, was No. 11 in Details magazine’s “Power 50,” the men “who control your viewing patterns, your buying habits, your anxieties, your lust…. the people who have taken over the space in your head.”

In one of the company’s most bizarre recent actions, on December 1 Blackwater paratroopers staged a dramatic aerial landing, complete with Blackwater flags and parachutes–not in Baghdad or Kabul but in San Diego at Qualcomm Stadium during the halftime show at the San Diego State/BYU football game. The location was interesting, given that Blackwater is fighting fierce local opposition to its attempt to open a new camp–Blackwater West–on 824 acres in the small rural community of Potrero, just outside San Diego. Blackwater’s parachute squad plans to land at the Armed Forces Bowl in Texas this month and the Virginia Gold Cup in May. The company recently sponsored a NASCAR racer, and it has teamed up with gun manufacturer Sig Sauer to create a Blackwater Special Edition full-sized 9-millimeter pistol with the company logo on the grip. It comes with a Limited Lifetime Warranty. For $18, parents can purchase infant onesies with the company logo.

In recent weeks, Blackwater has indicated it might quit Iraq. “We see the security market diminishing,” Prince told the Wall Street Journal in October. Yet on December 3 Blackwater posted job listings for “security specialists” and snipers as a result of its State Department diplomatic security “contract expansion.” While its name may be mud in the human rights world, Blackwater has not only made big money in Iraq (about $1 billion in State Department contracts); it has secured a reputation as a company that keeps US officials alive by any means necessary. The dirty open secret in Washington is that Blackwater has done its job in Iraq, even if it has done so by valuing the lives of Iraqis much lower than those of US VIPs. That badass image will serve it well as it expands globally.

Prince promises that Blackwater “is going to be more of a full spectrum” operation. Amid the cornucopia of scandals, Blackwater is bidding for a share of a five-year, $15 billion contract with the Pentagon to “fight terrorists with drug-trade ties.” Perhaps the firm will join the mercenary giant DynCorp in Colombia or Bolivia or be sent into Mexico on a “training” mission. This “war on drugs” contract would put Blackwater in the arena with the godfathers of the war business, including Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon.

In addition to its robust business in law enforcement, military and homeland security training, Blackwater is branching out. Here are some of its current projects and initiatives:

§ Blackwater affiliate Greystone Ltd., registered offshore in Barbados, is an old-fashioned mercenary operation offering “personnel from the best militaries throughout the world” for hire by governments and private organizations. It also boasts of a “multi-national peacekeeping program,” with forces “specializing in crowd control and less than lethal techniques and military personnel for the less stable areas of operation.”

§ Prince’s Total Intelligence Solutions, headed by three CIA veterans (among them Blackwater’s number two, Cofer Black), puts CIA-type services on the open market for hire by corporations or governments.

§ Blackwater is launching an armored vehicle called the Grizzly, which the company characterizes as the most versatile in history. Blackwater intends to modify it to be legal for use on US highways.

§ Blackwater’s aviation division has some forty aircraft, including turboprop planes that can be used for unorthodox landings. It has ordered a Super Tucano paramilitary plane from Brazil, which can be used in counterinsurgency operations. In August the aviation division won a $92 million contract with the Pentagon to operate flights in Central Asia.

§ It recently flight-tested the unmanned Polar 400 airship, which may be marketed to the Department of Homeland Security for use in monitoring the US-Mexico border and to “military, law enforcement, and non-government customers.”

§ A fast-growing maritime division has a new, 184-foot vessel that has been fitted for potential paramilitary use.

Meanwhile, Blackwater is deep in the camp of GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Cofer Black is Romney’s senior adviser on counterterrorism. At the recent CNN/YouTube debate, when Romney refused to call waterboarding torture, he said, “I’m not going to specify the specific means of what is and what is not torture so that the people that we capture will know what things we’re able to do and what things we’re not able to do. And I get that advice from Cofer Black, who is a person who was responsible for counterterrorism in the CIA for some thirty-five years.” That was an exaggeration of Black’s career at the CIA (he was there twenty-eight years and head of counterterrorism for only three), but a Romney presidency could make Blackwater’s business under Bush look like a church bake sale.

In short, Blackwater is moving ahead at full steam. Individual scandals clearly aren’t enough to slow it down. The company’s critics in the Democratic-controlled Congress must confront the root of the problem: the government is in the midst of its most radical privatization in history, and companies like Blackwater are becoming ever more deeply embedded in the war apparatus. Until this system is brought down, the world’s the limit for Blackwater Worldwide–and as its rebranding campaign shows, Blackwater knows it.


What is Blackwater’s Role in the 2008 Presidential Race?


Democracy Now!
December 12, 2007

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.

Rep. Kucinich On His Legacy to the World’s Poor (video)

Dandelion Salad


Rep. Kucinich talks to ONE members about what legacy he’d like to leave to the world’s poor if he’s elected president. Rep. Kucinich recorded the video in response to ONE.org’s “On The Record” campaign. Check it out at http://onevote08.org/ontherecord.

h/t: After Downing Street


College Student to Kucinich: Will I Waste My Vote? + Business as an Agent of World Benefit (videos; Elizabeth)

Kucinich Wins & Loses NPR’s Post-Debate Analysis By Manila Ryce + Kucinich, Gravitational Field

Determined, Steady Kucinich Quadruples Support By Joe Shea & Ted Manna + Kucinich First, Edwards Second in PDA Straw Poll


Is George Army Strong? by Cindy Sheehan

The Real Cindy Sheehan
by Cindy Sheehan
Dandelion Salad
featured writer
Dec. 06, 2007

Is George Army Strong?

While leafing through a women’s fitness (Body, Mind, and Spirit) magazine, I came across an Army recruitment ad that had the headline “Are you Army Strong?” Above the headline is a picture of young females in a line doing push-ups with a male standing over them, watching, I suppose.After recovering from my disgust that a magazine which refuses cigarette and alcohol ads would help the military prey on its young female readers on two valuable pages of advertisements, I noticed that the ad contained the “Seven Core Army Values.” It struck me deeply that the Commander in Chief of the Army, and indeed all the US armed forces, would not be able to pass the “Army Strong Test.” Even though the military keeps upping the age for its recruits, at 61 George is too old. With the pathological way that he exercises, he may be able to pass the physical test, but, unfortunately for George, the military has been giving a record number of “morality waivers” but there is no way that he would be able to adhere or conform to the Army Values (always glorified by capitals).

The first Army Value is “Loyalty:” Bear true faith to the U.S. Constitution, the Army, your unit, and other soldiers. Putting on my thinking cap, I could think of very few of our elected representatives, from President to Congressperson, that can say that they “Bear true faith to the Constitution.” BushCo has defiled the Constitution in its continual quest to undermine our freedoms and democracy here in the US while they wage their constitutionally and internationally illegal occupation of Iraq. Congress has confirmed and legitimized George’s crimes against the Constitution by ratifying and always paying for the occupation, passing the Patriot Act and Military Commissions Act and by not impeaching Dick and George for their high crimes and misdemeanors. Since George was a deserter from the Alabama Air National Guard during Vietnam (He was “fighting” them here, so he wouldn’t have to fight them over there), he had already failed the loyalty test to his unit long ago.

The second Army Value is “Duty:” Fulfill your obligations. George Bush had the obligation to protect our nation. His administration failed miserably on 9-11 and during Hurricane Katrina. His Global War OF Terror has misused our resources and has been a phenomenal recruitment tool for al-Qaeda. The only people that he has fulfilled his obligations to are the pigs of war that pull his strings and have profited from George’s profound dereliction of his duty.

The third Army Value is “Respect:” Treat people as they should be treated. Should innocent people be treated with bombings, murderous checkpoints, chemical weapons, rape, starvation, disease, and all of the other horrendous “spoils” of war? Even if Saddam had something to do with 9-11, why have over one million innocent Iraqis (called “collateral damage” by the war pigs) been killed and over four million forced to flee their homes? The third Army Value is a condensation of the Golden Rule, which says: “Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you.” An insurgency in a tiny country that was decimated from years of deadly sanctions has held off the world’s military “Superpower” but I shudder to think of the day of reckoning when we are again treated the same way we treat other people.

The fourth Army Value is “Selfless Service:” Put the welfare of the nation, the Army, and your subordinates before your own. George has treated his office like a treat dispenser for his ravenous oil buddies and his greedy family who have also profited from his administration. The Bush family does not see pain in tragedy: they see dollar signs. Bush’s grand-pappy, Prescott profited from World War Two (when it was unpatriotic to do so), and George’s little brother Neil has profited from Katrina and the No (Every) Child Left Behind Act. The Bushes do not selflessly serve this nation: they selfishly rape it.

“Honor” is the fifth Army Value: Live up to all the Army Values. Well?

The sixth Army Value is the one that I believe George gets the lowest grade in: “Integrity.” Do what’s right legally, and morally. Not withstanding its illegal and immoral mistakes in the Middle East, BushCo has exhibited an extreme lack of integrity. His office participated in outing CIA Agent Valerie Plame to punish her husband, Ambassador Joe Wilson, for committing a great sin (Thou shall never be honest) in the eyes of BushCo: telling the truth. George’s 2nd Attorney General, Gonzo, wrote the book on torture. The entire administration, those who have departed, and those who have remained, exploited the tragedy of 9-11 and fed the fears of many people who just wanted their families to be safe at whatever cost to their souls.

The final Army Value is “Personal Courage:” Face fear, danger, or adversity (physically or morally). Since George has failed the first six, there is no possible way that he can pass this test. George is notable for escaping from physical danger (on 9-11, during Vietnam, and grieving parents who disagree with his policies) and is a moral coward. It does not take any “personal courage” to send the sons and daughters of other mothers and fathers off to die to grease the wheels of the war machine with their flesh and blood. It takes no personal courage to order the bombings of civilians. George Bush has exhibited nothing but personal cowardice in his administration. Even though he seeks to conflate his image as a “war president” who can adorn himself with flight jumpsuits, ridiculous codpieces, and helmets, I am convinced that he will go down in history as the worst president, ever. Move over Tricky Dick—you get to go up one notch.

When we received the contents of Casey’s wallet a few weeks after he was killed by the insane policies of his sniveling Commander in Chief, there was a card in it with these same Army Values. Unfortunately, Casey followed the Values all the way to the dark alley in Sadr City, Baghdad, where his short life was ended by a sniper’s bullet. Casey could do no less, while his Commander in Chief defecates all over those same values.

Many Army recruiters do not even follow these values but they misuse and exploit vulnerable young Americans who oftentimes see no alternative than join a military that the Commander in Chief expended a lot of energy to avoid when he was their age. The only difference is that George was born with a silver spoon in his mouth and his family has been busy for generations assuring that the rest of us only get the shaft.

A tragically values-impaired Commander in Chief is quickly leading our nation down a path to disaster and it is a mystery to me why anyone is still following or why he is still firmly ensconced in that position.

“People before Politics”
Support Cindy for Congress!

Homeless in Paradise America, Land of 371 Billionaires & 3.5 Million Homeless By Stephen Fleishman

Dandelion Salad

By Stephen Fleishma
12/06/07 “Counterpunch

In the United States of America, the greatest country in the world, as many as three and a half million people experience homelessness in a given year (1% of the entire US population or 10% of its poor) and of that, 1.37 million (or 39%) are children under the age of 18.

The total number of billionaires in the world is 793 with 371 of them being in the United States of America, that’s about 322 more than there were 20 years ago.

If it can be said that people with money and power run the world, then 1% of America’s wealthiest and most powerful run America behind a façade of democracy. The façade is coming apart and the true nature of this government is plain to see.

After four years of a useless war, costing Americans their lives and treasury, and enriching the multitude of corporate entities slurping up billions at the Iraqi trough, we have allowed the new robber barons, Bush and his crony capitalist friends to continue conning us out of house and home, our country. Our constitution is in shreds and our economy is about to crash. Don’t let any of the Wall Street freaks try to fool you. They’re as scared as we are.

What happens when an economic system reaches the end of its days; when purchasing power dries up and workers can no longer buy the products they produce?

When Capitalism still had some vigor, Henry Ford said he would price his cars so that his workers could afford to buy them.

Do you find that kind of insight in Corporate America today? Not on your life! First, they break the unions and then they outsource their high-paying manufacturing jobs. It’s a race to the bottom. Go to wherever the lowest wages can be found. All we get to hear is that giant sucking sound that Ross Perot talked about when he was running for president American good paying jobs and manufacturing plants leaving the country. Let’s call it “globalization”. Some economists, like Milton Friedman, seem to think it’s a good thing.

I hate to sound like an old-time Trotskyite, but I’m beginning to believe now that our political and economic system will have to get worse, before it can get better. We’re going to have to take some “shock and awe” in this country to knock some of the lethargy out of our citizens, brainwashed by the corporate media. And it’s not just the media. The almost deliberate act of dumbing down the populous has been built into the fabric of society”from public education to academia to computer games to radio and television talk shows. To keep the sheep compliant, I presume.

When was the last time you heard the labor theories of value or the theory of surplus value discussed anywhere in the public media? They’d rather give us Brittany Spears and O.J. Simpson.

You wouldn’t know, from what you learned in school or read in the papers, that Franklin D Roosevelt, when he became president in the depth of the depression in 1933, saved capitalism by providing a “safety net” for the millions of destitute Americans. He did it with the NRA, WPA. TWA, CCC, AAA, Social Security and other “socialist-like” programs such as Aid to Families with Dependent Children.

So where have all the alphabets gone”along with the flowers of the “new left” of the 1960s? We thought they’d re-descend in the 1990s, but they haven’t shown up yet.

So I think it’s a matter of taking matters into our own hands. We have a line-up of presidential candidates, Republicans and Democrats, most of them in the pockets of corporate interests, who will take us back to the same old stand, except, perhaps for Republican Ron Paul and Democrat Dennis Kucinich. But they have already been ruled out of the running because they have something helpful to say to the American people. Not allowed.

Now, Democratic candidate, Joe Biden, has just announced that he will move to impeach President Bush if he bombs Iran. Isn’t that courageous! Doesn’t Joe have enough evidence of high crimes and misdemeanors right now and hasn’t he had them for the last three or four years; enough to move those proceedings from the Senate which he can’t because impeachment must originate in the House of Representatives? Joe must know that. But he needs something to grandstand on while running for president. This is typical of the kind of tactics candidates like to use in futzing with the minds of the voters.

It appears that our system is heading into the perfect storm. With the sub-prime mortgage disaster, a dismal forecast in consumer spending, the maxing out of credit cards and the Fed fighting the credit crunch, can a recession be far behind? We might be lucky if it’s only a recession. We could get the kind of economic collapse that would make the last depression look like a tea party. With friends like China, who needs enemies? We’ve fought this Iraqi war (which we’re still fighting) on the cuff”about two trillion dollars worth. China, a prime creditor, could call in some of this debt if they wanted to be mean.

Bush would like to get our minds off Iraq by attacking Iran. That way, he could get one more war under his belt. Go get him, Joe Biden!

Meanwhile, we wander around aimlessly, homeless in paradise, waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Stephen Fleischman, television writer-director-producer, spent thirty years in Network News at CBS and ABC, starting in 1953. In 1959, he participated in the formation of the renowned Murrow-Friendly “CBS Reports” series. In 1983, Fleischman won the prestigious Columbia University-DuPont Television Journalism Award. In 2004, he wrote his memoir. See: http://www.ARedintheHouse.com/, E-mail: stevefl@ca.rr.com

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.


Robert Greenwald discusses the War on Greed (video)

Henry Kravis makes $57,000 PER HOUR. You pay more taxes. (video)

Mortgage Meltdown (video)

Saint Joe and the Impending Global Financial Crisis By Mike Whitney

The Lies at the End of the American Dream – The Shortage Myth By Paul Craig Roberts

Robert Greenwald discusses the War on Greed + Winner of the contest (videos) (updated)

Dandelion Salad


http://warongreed.org Director Robert Greenwald discusses the new documentary series “War on Greed” on CNBC’s “Closing Bell” 12/6/07


Winner of the War on Greed contest 


Two weeks ago, we released the “War on Greed Starring Henry Kravis’ Homes” and asked you to tell us what *you* would do with one of Kravis’ mansions for a day during the holidays.

We received thousands of responses, but Carolyn’s idea clearly stood out.

Listen to her story, and tell us what you’d do this holiday season at bravenewfilms.org.

Added: December 25, 2007


Henry Kravis makes $57,000 PER HOUR. You pay more taxes. (video)

Saint Joe and the Impending Global Financial Crisis By Mike Whitney

Dandelion Salad

By Mike Whitney
12/06/07 “ICH

The wreckage in the housing market just keeps piling up. Sales of existing homes in October dipped 23.5% from last year. Prices on new homes dropped 13% year over year. Third quarter foreclosures skyrocketed to 635,000, a 94% increase over last October and an all-time high on the Misery-Meter. The real estate market is in free-fall and the real trouble hasn’t even begun yet.

California, Nevada, Arizona and Florida are mired in a full-blown housing depression. Inventory is off-the-chart. Presently, there’s a 10.8 month backlog and the numbers are steadily rising. If foreclosures continue at the current pace, by the end of 2008, there’ll be a 14 month inventory. That means that every builder in the country could take off his tool-belt right now and stop working FOR MORE THAN A YEAR before the market would clear. Contractors would be filling out job-applications at Red Lobster or looking for an empty street-corner with a tin cup.

We’re now entering the crisis phase of the biggest housing bust in US history; Greenspan’s remake of Three Mile Island; only this time the whole country will be vaporised by a subprime-radioactive cloud.

As bad as the housing market is now; it’s going to get a whole lot worse. Judith Levy sums it up in her article “ARM Resets to Hit Fan in 2008”:

“In 2008 interest rates will be reset upward on $362 billion worth of adjustable-rate subprime mortgages [ARMs] ….The ‘real crest of the reset wave’ has yet to take place, which promises more pain for borrowers, lenders and Wall Street…. In addition to the $362 billion of subprime ARMs, $152 billion of other adjustable-rate loans are scheduled to reset in 2008, including jumbo mortgages and Alt-A loans. The Mortgage Bankers Association estimates that 1.35 million homes will enter foreclosure in 2007 and another 1.44 million in 2008, up from 705,000 in 2005.”

$514 billion in resets. 3.5 million foreclosures.

Did I say Three Mile Island? I meant Nagasaki.

California is bound to be the state that’s hardest hit by the housing slump. Homeowners can expect to see price depreciation that could rival the Great Depression. As Broderick Perkins says,

“The California Association of Realtors reported the median price of an existing, single-family, detached home in California dropped 9.9 percent in October, compared to the same month a year ago. The decline was the largest year-to-year decline in CAR’s history books….

We believe that a downturn is imminent, with sales volumes down 52 percent from the peak (in January 2005) and inventory (11.8 months) up 100 percent since last year. House price depreciation and credit deterioration go hand-in-hand. We anticipate residential mortgage credit deterioration to follow house price declines in California. Presently, credit quality (in absolute terms) is better in California versus the national average, but the rate of deterioration is much worse. For instance, in the second quarter of 2007 delinquency rates for prime ARMs and subprime ARMs rose 92 percent and 73 percent year-on-year respectively in California, versus 53 percent and 38 percent nationally,” Goldman Sachs reported.”( Broderick Perkins, “Record Home Price Declines Portend Extended Downturn”, Seeking Alpha)

Wow. Home prices dropped 10% in a MONTH! Inventory is up 100%. Sales volumes are down 52%. Its the trifecta!

Its getting so hard to sell a house in California, that people are resorting to divine intervention. A number of websites have popped up on the Internet promoting transcendental or occult techniques for attracting potential buyers. Luckymojo.com recommends an old favorite; “burying a statue of Saint Joseph upside down in the yard”. The site even features its own “Real Estate Spell Kit” which includes:

1 Dressed and Blessed Saint Joseph Candle
1 Statuette of Saint Joseph
1 Bottle Saint Joseph Oil
1 Saint Joseph Chromo Print
1 Saint Joseph Holy Card

Luckymojo even provides an optional prayer that can be recited during the ceremonial burying of St. Joseph:

Saint Joseph, I am going to place you
in a difficult position
with your head in darkness
and you will suffer as our Lord suffered,
until this [house/property] is sold.

Then, Saint Joseph, I swear
before the cross and God Almighty,
that I will redeem you
and you will receive my gratitude
and a place of honor in my home.

Following the prayer, the supplicant takes the statue of Saint Joseph and plugs him into the ground upside down and waits for the phone to start ringing. Who needs a realtor anyway? “If there’s no yard, then dig a hole in a large potted plant.” St. Joe won’t mind. All of this can be done without chanting, amulets, prostrations, or messy sacrificial animals.

It’s worth a shot.

But sorcery won’t work for everyone and the deteriorating housing market is sending tremors through the broader economy. In fact, the accelerating rate of foreclosures has put Washington in full panic-mode. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson has been frantically trying to put together a bail-out package that will keep millions of homeowners from losing their homes. Here’s Paulson’s statement from earlier in the week:

“As we are all aware, the housing and mortgage markets are working through a period of turmoil, as are other credit markets, as risk is being reassessed and re-priced. We expect that this turbulence will take some time to work through, and we expect some penalty on our short-term economic growth.

To speed up the modification process, Treasury is working through the “HOPE NOW” alliance with the American Securitization Forum to convene servicers and investors so they can develop categories of borrowers eligible for appropriate modifications and refinancings, and an industry-wide solution….I am confident they will finalize these standards soon. And I expect all servicers will implement them quickly, and create benchmarks to measure their progress along the way. As a result, what was a fragmented, cumbersome process can be a coordinated effort which more quickly helps able homeowners.”

Who does Paulson think he’s kidding? He knows the plan is a non-starter. Why would homeowners opt to make outrageous monthly payments on homes that are quickly losing value, when they can just park the keys on the kitchen counter and vamoose. There’s no incentive for them to be shackled to a home if prices are going down. They’d be better off loading up the U-Haul, grabbing the dog, and letting the bank worry about it. That’s who Paulson is really worried about anyway. “Helping the homeowner” is is just a red herring.

There are a number of glitches to Paulson’s scheme. For example, if he freezes monthly mortgage payments, then bondholders won’t get what they bargained for and the market for mortgage-backed securities (MBS) will dry up. As Tom Deutsch, deputy executive director of the American Securitization Forum, said, “If they no longer invest in mortgage-backed securities, you’ve cut off the credit available for refinancing, you cut off the lifeblood of being able to give better loans.” (Bloomberg)

That’s right. If investors don’t get the returns they were promised—or if the government arbitrarily changes the terms of the deal—bondholders will just take their money and put it somewhere else. It’s as simple as that. That would trigger a run on the MBS market and put the kibosh on Paulson’s plan.

One thing is certain, investors will not sit by quietly while their rights are trampled and their profits are slashed so that people can stay in their homes. That won’t happen. Any viable bailout plan will have to be evenhanded, so that everyone shoulders part of the burden. Besides, these bonds are covered under contract law and the investors have rights. Paulson seems to thinks he can just make up the rules as he goes along. But he’s wrong. If he tries to void or rewrite the contracts he’ll be hit with class-action lawsuits that will stop him in his tracks.

The best summary of Paulson’s plan appeared in the Wall Street Journal:

“This whole scheme is an act of eminent domain, except the government isn’t formally seizing property rights, but emboldening private parties to do so. Why is no one calling a spade a spade?”

It’s ironic that the biggest boosters of free enterprise—like Paulson—are the first to do an about-face at the first whiff of grapeshot. Whatever happened to principles? Does Paulson really want to promote a scheme that forces the revision of contracts as well as repeals basic property rights? Needless to say, Paulson’s metamorphosis into Leon Trotsky has not been warmly received on Wall Street where he has been lambasted by friend and foe alike.

The housing blowup is having dire effects on global financial markets. The credit crunch has spread throughout Europe where lending standards are tightening and industrial growth is threatened by the falling dollar. Consumer confidence has plummeted in Europe just like in the US. Last week, the Dow Jones slipped below its August low of 12,850 following the path of the Transports. The stock market continues to lurch back and forth furiously like an overloaded washing machine; soaring 100 points one day and then, plunging 200 the next. The volatility is just another indication that we are entering a primary bear market. Dow Theory suggests that the trajectory will continue downward into recession.

The subprime debacle has cast doubt on whether the “structured finance” model of securitizing debt will survive. On Monday, there were crucial new developments in this story that will have profound effects on the future of many the country’s largest investment banks. E*Trade Financial has been forced to liquidate $3 billion of its mortgage-backed securities. Up to now, the banks, hedge funds an other holders of these toxic MBS and CDOs have been reluctant to sell, fearing that trillions of dollars in asset value would be immediately wiped out (for similar investments) once a firm “market price” is established.

Well, the Day of Reckoning arrived on Monday and the only thing missing was the funereal dirge and the wreath of fresh lilies.

According to Reuters:

“Financial analysts on Friday said E*Trade got anywhere from 11 cents to 27 cents on the dollar for its $3.1 billion portfolio of asset-backed securities. The portfolio sale was part of a $2.5 billion capital infusion from a group led by hedge fund Citadel investment Group.

“The portfolio sale, one of the few observable trades of such assets, has very clear, generally negative, implications for the valuation of like assets on brokers’ balance sheets,” Credit Suisse analyst Susan Roth Katzke said.”

$.27 on the dollar! Yikes. No doubt they’ll be pulling a few weepy bankers off the ledge before the week is out.

What is particularly distressing about the E*Trade sale is that over 60% of the $3 billion portfolio “WERE RATED DOUBLE-A OR HIGHER”. That means that even the best of these mortgage-backed bonds are pure, unalloyed garbage. This is really the worst possible news for Wall Street. It means that trillions of dollars of bonds which are currently held by banks, insurance companies, retirement funds, foreign banks and hedge funds will be slashed to $.27 on the dollar OR LOWER. Banks will have to hoard reserves to meet the new capital requirements on the falling value of their assets, which means that they’ll have less money to loan to businesses and consumers. In fact, this is already taking place. (which is the real reason the Fed keeps injecting money into the banking system) The E*Trade “firesale” confirms that the country–and perhaps the world—is now headed into a downward deflationary spiral. The Fed will HAVE to cut interest rates 50 basis points on December 11, just to keep the financial system from freezing up entirely. That will, of course, further emasculate the dollar and send food and energy prices through the roof.

There’s really no way to overstate the importance of the E*Trade sell-off. It is the equivalent of a neutron bomb detonating in the heart of the financial district. Yes, everyone is still milling around with their caramel Macchiatos clutching their Blackberries just like before. But the game is over. Trillions of dollars of market capitalization will be lost and some of the biggest names in banking will be carted off to the boneyard. It will be a miracle if the Fed’s interest rate cuts are enough to keep the economy sputtering along while the losses are written-down and the country recovers its footing.

$.27 on the dollar should be inscribed on the headstone of every Wall Street fraudster and every chiseling “financial innovator” who transformed the world’s most powerful and resilient markets into a carnival sideshow. It should include every subprime “no doc–no down” homeowner who lied on his loan application to goose the system and get another 50 grand for a jet-ski and 42” liquid TV; every cheesy realtor who fudged the paperwork to put unemployed busboys with bad credit in $550 McMasions in Loma Verde; every ratings agency stooge who got carpal-tunnel from stamping each shaky subprime loan with with AAA seal of approval; every lacquer-hair banker in a two-toned shirt who bundled up garbage loans and dumped them on Wall Street; every shabby hedge fund manager who used the subprime loans to beef-up his own personal administrative fees by leveraging the MBSs and CDOs at rates of 10 to 1; every regulator who serenely looked the other way while the market was dousing itself in jet-fuel and reaching for the matches; and, of course–above all–the Federal Reserve, who initiated this whole boondoggle by producing trillions of dollars of low interest credit which flooded the system creating the greatest speculative frenzy in the world history. Alan Greenspan—the Ponzi Ringleader– deserves a place of honor at the head of the chain-gang as they are frog-marched to some remote black site where they can pay for their transgressions.

The rest of us will have to stay put and endure the fallout from a “completely avoidable” Great Depression. We’re dead ducks.

Managing Director of Pimco Managed Funds, Bill Gross, summarized our present conundrum in a recent article:

“What we are witnessing is essentially the BREAKDOWN OF OUR MODERN DAY BANKING SYSTEM, a complex of levered lending so hard to understand that Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke required a face-to-face refresher course from hedge fund managers in mid-August. My PIMCO colleague, Paul McCulley, has labeled it the “SHADOW BANKING SYSTEM” because it has lain hidden for years—untouched by regulation—yet free to magically and mystically create and then package subprime mortgages into a host of three-letter conduits that only Wall Street wizards could explain.” (Bill Gross, “The Shadow Knows”, Pimco Funds)

A few months ago, Gross’s observations would have been dismissed as the ravings of a doomsday alarmist. Now they are part of mainstream analysis. Gross is a realist. The financial markets are broken; it’s time to strap the patient to the gurney and wheel it in to I.C.U. No more band aids, thank you.

Closing Thoughts

The President of the St. Louis Fed, William Poole, discussed many of these issues in a speech last week. Poole insisted that it is not the Fed’s intention to “pump up the stock market” or to protect investors from losses by lowering the Fed’s Fund Rate. Rather, the rate cuts are supposed “to restore normal market processes. He said, “ An active financial market is central to the process of economic growth and it is that growth, not prices in financial markets per se, that the Fed cares about.”

Fair enough.

He added, “One of the most reliable and predictable features of the Fed’s monetary policy is action to PREVENT SYSTEMIC FINANCIAL COLLAPSE. If this regularity of policy is what is meant by the “Fed put,” then so be it, but the term seems to me to be extremely misleading. The Fed does not have the desire or tools to prevent widespread losses in a particular sector but should not sit by while a financial upset becomes a financial calamity affecting the entire economy.”

The Federal Reserve is now actively trying to forestall “a systemic financial crisis”. (Poole’s words) The trillions of dollars that were loaned to mortgage applicants–and which ignored traditional criteria for lending—have created the likelihood of a decades-long downturn in the housing industry as well as a meltdown in the broader financial markets. The bundling of dodgy subprime liabilities and selling them as valuable assets to unsuspecting investors; is a scam that any competent regulator should have spotted immediately. And stopped. It doesn’t take genius to see that offloading sketchy MBSs and “marked to model” CDOs to gullible institutions is wrong and a danger to the entire system.

Financial innovation has created a dilemma for which there is no easy solution. The Genie cannot be put back in the lamp. Paulson’s remedies have no chance of succeeding. Mortgage-backed securities have been so chopped up and spread throughout the system; it would be easier to to unravel a bowl of spaghetti , separate each strand, one by one, and lie them next to each other without touching. It can’t be done. The bad debts will have to be written down, banks will have to fail, and government will have to investigate affordable housing alternatives for millions of defaulting homeowners.

Deregulation has created a monster. The prevailing Reagan-era, “supply side”, free market doctrine has removed tariffs, subsidies and other state-created price-distortions, but it has also eliminated all oversight and accountability. Government agencies no longer play an active role in policing the markets and, as a result, US financial institutions have fallen into disrepute.

This is, first of all, a credibility problem and it will require astute leaders with a strong moral foundation, not evasive bureaucrats who’re looking for a painless way to “cut their losses” and and keep the wheels of industry clanking along. Asset-backed commercial paper–a $2 trillion business–“is hardly trading at all.” The securitization of credit card debt, mortgages and car loans has slowed to a crawl and is in danger of stopping altogether. Many of the main engines for generating revenue for the banks—the repackaging of debt and amplifying it through levered derivatives—has vanished overnight. The financial markets have never been under such stress. There’s so much mortgage-backed gunk in the plumbing, the system is grinding to a halt. This is no the time for “business as usual” “garbage in, garbage out”. We need people who really understand what is going on to step up to the plate and propose coherent “fiscal” policy options that will steer the global economy away from the reef.

Forget about Paulson’s “quick fix” snake oil. It’s utter bunkum. The credibility of the system is at at stake. It’s time to get serious.

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Mortgage Meltdown (video)

The Planned Collapse of America By Peter Chamberlin

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

Dandelion Salad

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

Selected Episode

Dec. 5, 2007


For more: http://linktv.org
“The Fallout from the Iran Nukes Report,” Al Jazeera English, Qatar
“Ahmadinejad Declares Victory,” Dubai TV, UAE
“Report is a Victory to Iranian Nation,” IRIB2 TV, Iran
“Iran’s Reaction to US Intelligence Report,” Al-Alam TV, Iran
“Jordanian Translator in Iraq,” Al Arabiya TV, UAE
“Kurdish Oil Contracts are Illegal,” Baghdad TV, Iraq
“Arms Traders in Palestinian Refugee Camps,” Al Arabiya TV, UAE
“30 Palestinians Killed in Gaza,” Dubai TV, UAE
Produced for Link TV by Jamal Dajani.

Interview: Dennis Kucinich on Randi Rhodes (audio on videos)

Dandelion Salad


Interview Randi Rhodes and Dennis Kucinich on Air America Radio.

December 5 2007

h/t: juanapm1


Determined, Steady Kucinich Quadruples Support By Joe Shea & Ted Manna + Kucinich First, Edwards Second in PDA Straw Poll

Kucinich calls for Congressional investigation of NIE handling

Dennis 4 President


Mortgage Meltdown (video)

Dandelion Salad

Four Corners
Australia Broadcasting

Paul Barry’s report “Mortgage Meltdown”, originally broadcast on 17 September, 2007. Length 44′ 08″.

Video link

Last month an unfamiliar expression appeared in the Australia media. A “subprime mortgage crisis” was unfolding in the United States. Homeowners across America were defaulting on loan payments and economists warned of major financial fallout occurring anywhere from Paris to Beijing to Melbourne. But why should a foreclosure in Cleveland affect a hedge fund in Sydney?

As Four Corners reports, Australia, along with the rest of the world is at risk of a virulent economic virus thanks to financial globalisation where everything is interconnected through a sophisticated form of pass the parcel. And even more alarmingly, no-one knows just how bad it might get.

In “Mortgage Meltdown” Paul Barry reports on the fallout from the US subprime mortgage crisis and asks what impact it will have on Australia.

Climate change election topples Howard government (video)

Dandelion Salad


More at http://therealnews.com
Dr. Clive Hamilton: Ratification of the Kyoto protocol is not a symbolic act.

Wednesday December 5th, 2007


Bush ally goes down in Australian election by Rick Kuhn