Helen Thomas gives the White House Press Secretary a shellacking

Dandelion Salad


Helen Thomas, shown here at a sprightly 85 years old, puts The White House Press Secretary, Scott McClellan on the spot for Bush’s illegal surveillance. She demonstrated more guts than the rest of the White House press corps combined. An inspiration, and an example of how a real journalist works. As opposed to “correspondents”, who take notes on whatever is said, and then just regurgitate them to the Public; a journalist endeavors to get the truth, and put information into broader and meaningful context. Watch “The Dean” of the press corps at work enjoy! Video is Public Domain

Vodpod videos no longer available. from www.youtube.com posted with vodpod


h/t: After Downing Street

Frost over the World: Pakistan’s Election (videos)

Dandelion Salad


Asif Ali Zardari

In the first part of this Pakistan elections special, Sir David Frost talks to Asif Ali Zardari, the husband of the late Benazir Bhutto and the co-chair of the Pakistan People’s Party, who says Musharraf would not stand a chance in fair and transparent elections.

Added: February 16, 2008

Nawaz Sharif

In part two of this Pakistan election special, Sir David Frost talks to Nawaz Sharif, the former two-time Pakistani prime minister who leads the Pakistan Muslim League. Sharif says Monday’s polls are likely to be rigged as Musharraf lacks grass-roots support.

Shaukat Aziz

In part three of this Pakistan election special, Sir David Frost talks to Shaukat Aziz, a former Pakistani prime minister, who says Pervez Musharraf is the right person to bring together the country’s different political forces.

Imran Khan

In part four of this Pakistan election special, Sir David Frost talks to Imran Khan, the founder of the Movement for Justice party, who warns that a Musharraf election victory could lead to unrest even more severe than that following elections in Kenya.


Pakistan Bombing Kills as Many as 45 Before Elections h/t: ICH

Militants blow up 3 polling stations in Pakistan’s tribal region h/t: ICH

Benazir’s assassination may exacerbate unrest in Sindh by Noam Chomsky

The Iraq war could go on for years + Obama vs Clinton on nukes + Pakistan (videos)

Pentagon chief says US ready to deploy combat troops in Pakistan By Bill Van Auken

Using Benazir Bhutto for Imperial Gain by Stephen Lendman

Pakistan and the “Global War on Terrorism” by Michel Chossudovsky

For sale: West’s deadly nuclear secrets

Benazir Bhutto named her assassins almost two months ago by Rev. Richard Skaff

Frost over the World: Benazir Bhutto 02 Nov 07 (video; bin Laden)


US Elections: The Iraq Factor by Ramzy Baroud

Dandelion Salad

by Ramzy Baroud
Global Research, February 15, 2008

As the race for the United States presidential nominations progresses, the stances of and attitudes towards both Republican and Democratic candidates continue to bring up causes for concern, in terms of their past behaviour, current appeal and general trustworthiness.

Republican Mitt Romney’s exit has practically assured Senator John McCain’s victory in his party. While we might expect McCain’s narrow-mindedness and pro-war rhetoric to make him an uncontested darling of conservatives, the doubts that remain about his credibility — and the seemingly absurd accusations by some that he is more liberal than Democratic liberals — highlight two disturbing trends.

The first is the extent of the moral corruption among many Republicans that would enable viewing McCain as a liberal. Then again it might be a fair assessment in the context of Armageddon enthusiast, Mike Huckabee, surpassing expectations on Super Tuesday. The rise of the former Arkansas governor — highlighting the growing power of fundamentalist evangelical Christians — should have been picked up as an alarming trend by Americans, but the media was largely unmoved.

The second is that making such comparisons between McCain and Democratic nominees doesn’t necessarily point to a lack of judgment in characters. Clinton’s hawkish foreign policy views would indeed qualify her as a faithful follower of the warmongering policies of Bush himself.

On the Democratic side, Super Tuesday only served to confirm Barack Obama’s recent gains. After the vote count, Clinton, who was previously seen as the uncontested frontrunner was now conceivably the underdog. True, the numbers of delegates’ votes garnered by both nominees is too close to place either on top, but Obama’s speed in squashing Clinton’s lead in national polls and his fundraising ability should be a cause for great concern in the Clinton camp.

Naturally, as both nominees will vie for as many votes as possible in the next round, charm and charisma alone can no longer suffice. The sizeable dilemma is that Obama and Clinton elections programmes are in many ways only superficially different.

Both nominees claim to be establishment nominees. Clinton appeals to an older generation by virtue of her “experience”. Obama appeals to the impressionable young, who have been taught political correctness early in life, and who are eager for new language and a new approach.

Obama’s record is certainly more honourable than Clinton’s. His genuine involvement in community activism at a young age and his anti-war stance during his Senate years point at a certain degree of moral clarity, a rare quality in Washington indeed.

But both nominees walk a very fine line. Aside from the Iraq issue — Obama voted against the war while Clinton voted for it — the remaining differences are not significant enough to be exploited by either to guarantee the decisive victory needed before the August Democratic Convention. If neither have enough votes to become the uncontested nominee, the party’s more influential delegates — the super-delegates — will have the final say, a worst-case scenario that could compromise the very democratic nature of the entire process.

There is a good chance that both candidates will avoid an all-out war over issues that are significant concerns for most Americans. While race and gender are supposedly defining issues for most voters, the fact that Clinton is a woman, and Obama is African-American does not mean they represent the interests of their respective group. Moreover, neither Obama wishes to be defined solely by his colour nor Clinton by her gender.

The Iraq war will most likely define President Bush’s legacy. Moreover, once the presidential candidates for both parties are determined, the war will probably position itself as the lead point of contention. Senator McCain is already gearing up for the anticipated fight over war with the democrats. In Norfolk, Virginia, he attacked Obama and Clinton for wanting to set dates for withdrawal from Iraq. “I believe that would have catastrophic consequences. I believe that Al-Qaeda would trumpet to the world that they had defeated the United States of America, and I believe that therefore they would try to follow us home.”

McCain — presumably a “war hero” — realises that the disastrous Iraq war is most likely to be his campaign’s weak point, and the faltering economy will not divert attention from it. In fact, in the minds of many Americans, both issues are linked. According to an Associated Press-Ipsos poll after Super Tuesday, the majority of Americans believe that the best way to escape recession is to pull out of Iraq.

If the Iraq debate has indeed emerged as the most significant in coming months, the chances are Obama will have the upper hand. But Obama’s anti-war stance has become a source of concern to Israel, whose “pro-Israel” camp in the US remains too significant to overlook. Justin Elliot, writing for Mother Jones, discussed Obama’s challenges in putting that group at ease. After all the man is black, his middle name is “Hussein” and has a few “slips” of a tongue on his record — notwithstanding his statement last March that “no one has suffered more than the Palestinian people,” which he grossly reinterpreted later.

MJ Rosenberg of the Israel Policy Forum, a dovish advocacy group, told Elliot, “the more right-wing segments of the Jewish community are the least likely to be comfortable with an African-American president.”

To prove them wrong, Obama sent a letter to the US ambassador at the Security Council demanding that the council “should clearly and unequivocally condemn the rocket attacks against Israel… If it cannot… I urge you to ensure that it does not speak at all.” He also claimed to understand why Israel was “forced” to impose a siege on Gaza, a siege that human rights organisations have held responsible for causing mass starvation and unparalleled catastrophe.

What’s important about Obama’s dramatic shift is that he has proven to be just as self-serving and easily manipulated as the rest. If he can so readily support the starvation of 1.5 million people, who is to guarantee that he will not renounce his moral stances on issues pertaining to Iraq, Iran, and indeed America itself?

-Ramzy Baroud (www.ramzybaroud.net) is an author and editor of PalestineChronicle.com. His work has been published in many newspapers and journals worldwide. His latest book is The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People’s Struggle (Pluto Press, London).

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 Ramzy Baroud, Global Research, 2008
The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=8097

Congress’s Betrayal of the American Worker By Richard Backus

Dandelion Salad

By Richard Backus
02/16/08 “ICH

While claiming to be attempting to increase the number of well-paying jobs in the U.S. (having created laws in the past explicitly designed to do this), the Congress has really been following a completely different course. Almost all recently passed laws have done just the opposite.

The following Acts of congress were ostensible made in order to keep American workers fully employed and to create a healthy economy:

The Full Employment Bill of 1946 was designed for the federal government to promote “maximum employment, production, and purchasing power”. Amendments removed a guarantee by the government to explicitly provide “full” employment, but certainly the intent of the bill was to provide this as indicated by it’s title.

The Full Employment and Balanced Growth Act of 1978 was designed to attain full employment, growth in production, price stability, and balance of trade and budget. Goals were established including a maximum of 3% to 4% unemployment rate, an attempt to balance the federal budget, and the avoidance of trade deficits. If private business interests did not attain these goals the government was entitled to create a “reservoir of public employment.” The Act explicitly prohibits discrimination on the basis of age as well… .

There was no effort to carry out the intent of these Acts. They were passed to create an appearance that these goals were being pursued while congress passed laws which did just the opposite. “Gloabalization” was intended to allow American businessmen to replace American workers with low-priced foreign ones. Since American corporations own much of the foreign manufacturing businesses, a foreign worker is simply an employee of an American firm hired overseas to replace an American worker stateside. The congress threw in an added tax sweetener to further facilitate this giveaway.

NAFTA and CAFTA had the same intent. So much for “promoting” full employment for U.S. citizens. Immigration policy, legal and illegal as well, was designed to do the same. No real serious efforts were made to stop the border crossings. The proof of this is in the number of illegal immigrants who succeeded. Legal immigration in the high-tech sector was a fraud from the get-go. Businessmen simply wanted younger, less expensive, and more pliable employees. Those older native ones wanted to be fairly treated and paid appropriately for a highly-trained engineer. Again, it was the government that “legally” made this jobs giveaway possible. The age-discrimination laws were ignored and tons of young (inexperienced) but low-salaried foreigners came surging in.

The immigration laws themselves were violated from the very beginning, proof being that high-tech salary levels immediately took a big dip violating the law’s requirement that immigrants were to be paid equal wages. When it was obvious that wages were falling, the congress did nothing.

The following is a excerpt of the law regarding age discrimination:

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967
SEC. 2.
(a) The Congress hereby finds and declares that:
(1) in the face of rising productivity and affluence, older workers find themselves disadvantaged in their efforts to retain employment, and especially to regain employment ….
(b) It is therefore the purpose of this Act to “promote” employment of older persons based on their ability rather than age; to prohibit arbitrary age discrimination in employment…
Section 4
(a) It shall be unlawful for an employer- (1) to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual or otherwise discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s age; (2) to limit, segregate, or classify his employees in any way which would deprive or tend to deprive any individual of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect his status as an employee, because of such individual’s age.

Again the government claimed to be interested in “promoting” employment for this group when it was blatantly passing laws giving away the jobs of these older persons (younger ones as well). No effort was made to modify or reform these immigration laws even after it was obvious that American businessmen were violating them on a massive scale.

But the primary reason behind these giveaways was really not disclosed. The dollar’s exchange rate has been manipulated over the last 30 years in order to suit the wishes of the rich causing American worker’s wages to become progressively less and less competitive. This ultimately resulted in American manufacturing wage levels , on average, of ten times those of foreign workers in those less-developed countries which had been perfecting their manufacturing capabilities. Only if an American wage earner agreed to work for $2-$3/hr. would he have been competitive.

In contrast to this policy of overpricing American workers, Japan has built the world’s third largest economy by consistently doing just the opposite. Every time the yen’s exchange rate appreciated, causing a potential loss in production (and employment), the Japanese reserve bank acted to lower its exchange rate (simultaneously increasing the dollar’s exchange rate). Thailand has recently attempted to do the same when the appreciation of it’s currency caused a possible overpricing of the Thai worker’s wage levels. Investors reacted negatively but Thai worker’s jobs may ultimately prove to have been saved. The U.S. government, by doing just the opposite, has not only caused U.S. jobs to surge to overseas locations, but has resulted in the massive trade deficits which may ultimately threaten a catastrophic fall in the value of the dollar.

This exchange rate manipulation resulted in the failure of one of the major goals of the aforementioned Full Employment and Balanced Growth Act of 1978 , a balanced trade. The other goals of that Act, concerning the unemployment level and “balanced budget”, have failed as well. Needless to say, an effort to establish a “reservoir of public employment” went nowhere.

The public’s inability or unwillingness to face up these betrayals will result in the destruction of the working class in the U.S. If the public does not protest, they will continue to get a government that no one deserves.

Richard Backus, author of this article, is a free-lance journalist specializing in political economy and politics. He resides in Miami Beach, Florida and his personal website is uncensoredops.blogspot.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.

Bernanke’s State of the Economy Speech: You are all Dead Ducks By Mike Whitney

Dandelion Salad

By Mike Whitney
02/16/08 “ICH

Even veteran Fed-watchers were caught off-guard by Chairman Bernanke’s performance before the Senate Banking Committee on Thursday. Bernanke was expected to make routine comments on the state of the economy but, instead, delivered a 45 minute sermon detailing the afflictions of the foundering financial system. The Senate chamber was stone-silent throughout. The gravity of the situation is finally beginning to sink in.

For the most part, the pedantic Bernanke looked uneasy; alternately biting his lower lip or staring ahead blankly like a man who just watched his poodle get run over by a Mack truck. As it turns out, Bernanke has plenty to worry about, too. Consumer confidence has dropped to levels not seen since the 1970s recession, real estate has gone off a cliff, credit-brushfires are breaking out everywhere, and the stock market continues to gyrate erratically. No wonder the Fed-chief looked more like a deck-hand on the Lusitania than the monetary-czar of the most powerful country on earth.Bernanke’s prepared remarks were delivered with the solemnity of a priest performing Vespers. But he was clear, unlike his predecessor, Greenspan, who loved speaking in hieroglyphics.

Bernanke: “As you know, financial markets in the United States and in a number of other industrialized countries have been under considerable strain since late last summer. Heightened investor concerns about the credit quality of mortgages, especially subprime mortgages with adjustable interest rates, triggered the financial turmoil. However, other factors, including a broader retrenchment in the willingness of investors to bear risk, difficulties in valuing complex or illiquid financial products, uncertainties about the exposures of major financial institutions to credit losses, and concerns about the weaker outlook for the economy, have also roiled the financial markets in recent months.”

Yes, of course. The banks are ailing from their subprime investments while Europe is sinking fast from $500 billion in unsellable asset-backed garbage. The whole system is clogged with crappy paper and deteriorating collateral. Now there are problems popping up in auction rate sales and the normally-safe municipal bonds. The whole financial Tower of Babel is cracking at the foundation.

Bernanke continues: “Money center banks and other large financial institutions have come under significant pressure to take onto their own balance sheets the assets of some of the off-balance-sheet investment vehicles that they had sponsored. Bank balance sheets have swollen further as a consequence of the sharp reduction in investor willingness to buy securitized credits, which has forced banks to retain a substantially higher share of previously committed and new loans in their own portfolios. Banks have also reported large losses, reflecting marked declines in the market prices of mortgages and other assets that they hold. Recently, deterioration in the financial condition of some bond insurers has led some commercial and investment banks to take further markdowns and has added to strains in the financial markets.”

Bernanke sounds more like an Old Testament prophet reading passages from the Book of Revelations than a Central Banker. But what he says is true; even without the hair-shirt. The humongous losses at the investment banks have forced them to go trolling for capital in Asia and the Middle East just to stay afloat. And, when they succeed, they’re forced to pay excessively high rates of interest. The true cost of capital is skyrocketing. That’s why the banks are protecting their liquidity and cutting back on new loans. Most of the banks have also tightened lending standards which is slowing down the issuance of credit and threatens to push the economy into a deep recession. When banks cramp-up; the overall economy shrinks. It’s just that simple; no credit, no growth. Credit is the lubricant that keeps the capitalist locomotive chugging-along. When it dwindles, the system screeches to a halt.


Bernanke again: “In part as the result of the developments in financial markets, the outlook for the economy has worsened in recent months, and the downside risks to growth have increased. To date, the largest economic effects of the financial turmoil appear to have been on the housing market, which, as you know, has deteriorated significantly over the past two years or so. The virtual shutdown of the subprime mortgage market and a widening of spreads on jumbo mortgage loans have further reduced the demand for housing, while foreclosures are adding to the already-elevated inventory of unsold homes. Further cuts in homebuilding and in related activities are likely…..Conditions in the labor market have also softened. Payroll employment, after increasing about 95,000 per month on average in the fourth quarter, declined by an estimated 17,000 jobs in January. Employment in the construction and manufacturing sectors has continued to fall, while the pace of job gains in the services industries has slowed. The softer labor market, together with factors including higher energy prices, lower equity prices, and declining home values, seem likely to weigh on consumer spending in the near term.”

So, let’s summarize. The banks are battered by their massive subprime liabilities. Housing is in the tank. Manufacturing is down. Food and energy are up. Unemployment is rising. And consumer spending has shriveled to the size of an acorn. All that’s missing is a trumpet blast and the arrival of the Four Horseman.

How is it that Bernanke’s economic post-mortem never made its way into the major media? Is there some reason the real state of the economy is being concealed from ‘we the people’?

Bernanke continues: “On the inflation front, a key development over the past year has been the steep run-up in the price of oil. Last year, food prices also increased exceptionally rapidly by recent standards, and the foreign exchange value of the dollar weakened. …(If) inflation expectations to become unmoored or for the Fed’s inflation-fighting credibility to be eroded could greatly complicate the task of sustaining price stability and reduce the central bank’s policy flexibility to counter shortfalls in growth in the future.”

Right. So, if the Fed’s rate-cutting strategy doesn’t work and the economic troubles persist (and prices continue to go through the roof) then we’re S.O.L. (sh** out of luck) because the Fed has no more arrows in its quiver. It’s rate cuts or death. Great. So, we can expect Bernanke to hack away at rates until they’re down to 1% or lower (duplicating the downturn in Japan) hoping that the economy shows some sign of life before it takes two full wheelbarrows of greenbacks to buy a quart of milk and a few seed-potatoes.

Sounds like a plan!

We don’t blame Bernanke. He’s been remarkably straightforward from the very beginning and deserves credit. He’s simply left with the thankless task of mopping up the ocean of red ink left behind by Greenspan. It’s not his fault. He should be applauded for dispelling the decades-long illusion that a nation can borrow its way to prosperity or that chronic indebtedness is the same as real wealth. It’s not; and the bill has finally come due.

Of course, now that the low-interest speculative orgy is over; there’s bound to be a painful unwind of hyper-inflated assets, falling home prices, tumbling stock markets, increased unemployment, and a generalized credit-contraction throughout the real economy. Ouch. Who said it was going to be easy?

Bernanke’s summation:

“At present, my baseline outlook involves a period of sluggish growth, followed by a somewhat stronger pace of growth starting later this year as the effects of monetary and fiscal stimulus begin to be felt….It is important to recognize that downside risks to growth remain, including the possibilities that the housing market or the labor market may deteriorate to an extent beyond that currently anticipated, or that credit conditions may tighten substantially further.”

(Editor’s translation) “Discount everything I’ve said here today if the economy blows up—as I fully-expect it will—from decades of regulatory neglect and the myriad multi-trillion dollar Ponzi-schemes which have put the entire financial system at risk of a major heart attack”.

Bernanke’s candor is admirable, but it is little relief for the people who will have to soldier-on through the hard times ahead. Perhaps, next time he could spare us all the lengthly oratory and just forward a brief cablegram to Congress saying something like this:

“We are deeply sorry, but we have totally fu**ed up your economy with our monetary hanky-panky. You are all in very deep Doo-doo. Prepare for the worst.”

our sincerest regrets,

the Fed

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