Big Brother: RFID – Putting “Radio Tags” on Americans

Dandelion Salad

By Kristi Heim
Global Research, April 7, 2008
Seattle Times

UW team researches a future filled with RFID chips

By Kristi Heim

Seattle Times business reporter

Some University of Washington students, faculty and staff are being tracked as they move about the computer-science building, with details of where they’ve been, and with whom, stored in a database.

Professor Gaetano Borriello checks a computer to find graduate student Evan Welbourne’s last location: on the fourth floor, outside room 452 at 10:38 a.m. Wednesday. He opens another screen to reveal the building’s floor plan, and a blinking green dot representing Welbourne shows him walking down the hall.

If it seems a bit like Big Brother, that’s the intention. The project is meant to explore both positive and negative aspects of a world saturated with technology that can monitor people and objects remotely.

“What we want to understand,” Borriello said, “is what makes it useful, what makes it threatening and how to balance the two.”

The technology, radio frequency identification, or RFID, is rapidly moving into the real world through a wide variety of applications: Washington state driver’s licenses, U.S. passports, clothing, payment cards, car keys and more.

The objects all have a tiny tag with a unique number that can be read from a distance. Many experts predict that the radio tags, as an enhanced replacement for bar codes, will soon become ubiquitous.

Leaders of the UW’s RFID Ecosystem project wanted to understand the implications of that shift before it happens. They’re conducting one of the largest experiments using wireless tags in a social setting.

“Our objective is to create a future world where RFID is everywhere and figure out problems we’ll run into before we get there,” said Borriello, a computer science and engineering professor.

RFID has been used primarily to track goods in supply chains, and the RFID Ecosystem works as a kind of human warehouse.

For more than a year, a dozen researchers have carried around RFID tags equipped with tiny computer chips that store an identification number unique to each tag. Researchers installed about 200 antennas throughout the computer-science building that pick up any tag near them every second.

The researchers hope to expand the project, funded by the National Science Foundation, to include participation by about 50 volunteers — people who regularly use the building. Volunteers will have the option of removing their data at any point.

The system can show when people leave the office, when they return, how often they take breaks, where they go and who’s meeting with whom, Borriello said.

The technology seems less intrusive than a camera, but it’s much more precise.

It’s a lot easier to fool a camera with a blurred image or disguise. But the latest RFID tags contain a 96-bit code meant to uniquely identify an object or person.

Yet if people don’t see the tags, it’s easy to forget they are giving out information whenever they come within range of a reader.

“One of the most surprising things is how invisible these tags can be,” said Welbourne, who stashed the paper-thin tags in his jacket and bag nine months ago and doesn’t always remember he’s carrying them. “It’s a risk for people. I built part of the system, and I’m caught off-guard.”

Lessons learned

UW researchers are gaining some valuable lessons on how to make the technology useful while protecting privacy. Radio tags add a new dimension to social networking. The key is allowing subjects to control who sees what information about them.

They created an application called RFIDDER that lets people use data from radio tags to inform their social network where they are and what they’re doing. The feature can be used on the Web and on a mobile phone, with a connection to the social-networking service Twitter.

Borriello can let Welbourne, the project’s lead graduate student, see where he is all day, or he can modify settings so Welbourne can only see where he is within 15 minutes of their scheduled meeting. The system is transparent, so each can tell if the other has checked his whereabouts.

The lab’s Personal Digital Diary application detects and logs a person’s activities each day and uploads them to a Google calendar. Users can search the calendar to jog their memories about when they last saw someone or how, where and with whom they spent their time.

Potential pitfalls

Yet the UW researchers also recognize many potential privacy pitfalls.

Some systems, including new U.S. passports and driver’s licenses, have been designed to divulge more information than necessary, opening the door to security and privacy problems, Borriello said.

Experts from the UW RFID team went to Olympia to testify on privacy issues related to the state’s Enhanced Driver’s License.

“There’s no reason to have remotely readable technology in a driver’s license,” Borriello said. He recommends a system that requires contact with the surface of a reader, so the license-holder knows when information on his license is being read.

However, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security required states to use an RFID chip that is readable from a distance to be compatible with its REAL ID initiative.

Washington state went along so it could offer an optional Enhanced Driver’s License as an alternative to a passport for residents crossing the Canadian border.

Gov. Christine Gregoire signed a bill last week that attempts to mitigate security and privacy concerns by making it a felony for unauthorized users to read or possess information on another person’s identification document without that person’s knowledge or consent.

Piecing a profile

Without the right safeguards, data from radio tags can be pieced together to offer a detailed profile of a person’s habits without his or her knowledge.

“People don’t understand the implications of information they’re giving out,” Borriello said. “They can be linked together to paint a picture, one you didn’t think you were painting.”

If someone carrying the new RFID-chipped driver’s license visits a store that has an RFID reader and then uses a credit card, the store can start to form an association between the ID number and the credit-card number.

That information can be used to send targeted advertising messages to the customer, a scenario depicted in the film “Minority Report.” A man is recognized as he walks by a store and given a personalized sales pitch.

RFID readers placed around shopping malls and airports could help government agencies collect information about visitors’ travel patterns, shopping habits and relationships.

“People might think maybe it’s a good thing. Maybe it will make me safer,” Borriello said. But he added, “You can see this inching forward until we’re tracking people wherever they go.”

That might sound far-fetched, but it’s going on in other parts of the world. Last year, the number of police requests for information from London’s RFID-based transit card rose from four per month to 100, Borriello said. Police use the data in criminal cases.

In southern China, the government is installing RFID readers throughout the city of Shenzhen to track movements of citizens, and U.S. companies are helping deploy the technology, The New York Times has reported. Chips in national ID cards contain not just a number, but a person’s work history, education, religion, ethnicity, police record and reproductive history.

“You could argue for any of this stuff in the name of security,” Borriello said. “It’s important to understand what the technology can do and we, collectively, have to decide what we’re going to use it for.”

The lessons from the UW RFID project point to the need for consent and transparency, informing people what data are being collected and giving them a way to review, correct or delete it.

The technology alone can’t be made to do the right thing without a good system of laws and policies around it.

Protection lacking

So far, there are few such legal protections in the U.S., Welbourne and Borriello say.

While RFID is relatively new, one technology with a potential to track people is well-established: cellphones.

“Most of us trust that information is not being tracked by anyone, but in fact it is,” Borriello said.

Large U.S. telecommunications companies are in the middle of a bitter dispute over their role assisting in government wiretapping, and whether they can be sued or be given legal immunity.

Right now RFID is following a typical technology cycle, moving from obscurity into popular usage. The UW researchers are trying to stay ahead of that cycle.

“As soon as it becomes widely used, then it’s more attractive and people start attacking it,” showing its vulnerabilities, Borriello said. The trouble is “by that time, it’s hard to change.”

Kristi Heim: 206-464-2718 or

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: 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:
© Copyright, Seattle Times, 2008
The url address of this article is:

Bailout Bonanza by Ralph Nader

Dandelion Salad

by Ralph Nader
Friday, April 4. 2008

Is there a larger, more exploited, defenseless group of undifferentiated Americans than the 133 million individual federal income taxpayers? Their dollars are used to subsidize organized corporate interests, giveaway taxpayer assets like minerals under the public lands, and bail out speculative, self-enriching corporations and their crooked bosses.

As large corporations, and their trade associations, complete their takeover of the federal government—a process that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt called fascism in 1938—the corporations become the government.

Just look at the recent headlines in the business press. Article after article features abuses and over-runs by companies contracting with the Department of Defense and other agencies. The enormous volumes of waste, fraud and poor delivery affecting the Iraq war-occupation now only produces ho hum newspaper and television stories.

Recently, the student loan scandals, exorbitant burdens on students graduating from college imposed on them by companies with influence in Washington, like Sallie Mae, whose government guarantees make a mockery of capitalism, have riled members of Congress to some modest action.

Once again this year, the big boys on Wall Street stretched the envelope of risk and greed and ran down to Washington, D.C. to be bailed out by the accommodating Federal Reserve. Chairman Ben Bernanke testified before the Senate that he had no choice but to take on about $30 billion of Bear Stearns obligations or there could be a run on other big banks. Where was the Federal Reserve when this credit, debt and risk spree was building during the past five years?

There is no penalty for failure—whether on Wall Street or in Washington, D.C. for misusing or wasting the taxpayers’ monies.

When the heads of Citigroup and Merrill Lynch were asked to leave their positions recently as CEOs after tanking their companies’ shares, they could barely avoid tripping over the many millions of dollars they were taking with them through the exit door. Among many perverse incentives operating within these Wall Street firms, there are rewards for failure—big bucks rubber-stamped by the look-the-other-way, well paid Boards of Directors.

Back in 1971 and 1980 respectively, the White House proposed a $250 million loan guarantee for Lockheed corp., and a $1.5 billion loan guarantee for Chrysler with the government taking back warrants that it later sold for a profit. There was intense debate and discussion at public hearings in the House and the Senate before they authorized the guarantees.

Now federal agency bailouts of big business, even Mexican oligarchs, rarely seek Congressional approval. Just have the Executive Branch do what it wants. No public hearings. Midnight bailouts without transcripts.

I asked a powerful Senator: “What are the discernible legal limits on the Federal Reserve’s bailout authority and how much total risk can the Federal Reserve heap on the taxpayers?” “Can they go to a trillion dollars?” He did not know.

Shifting deficits, debts and unfair burdens to individual taxpayers while the rich and powerful become either tax escapees or big time welfare recipients keep pushing a limitless envelope on today’s and tomorrow’s taxpayers.

The New York Times’ prize-winning reporter David Cay Johnston, has written two books “Perfectly Legal” and just recently, the best seller “Free Lunch” that document these megatrends of corporate socialism—privatizing corporate profits and socializing corporate losses on the backs of individual taxpayers.

What can be done about these gigantic runaway sprees?

First, pass legislation that broadens individual taxpayers’ right to sue in federal court against waste, fraud and abuse, including those receivers of bailouts—the reckless, avaricious corporations who have Uncle Sam in their back pockets.

Second, have a voluntary checkoff on the 1040 tax return inviting individual taxpayers to join their own taxpayer defense organization. Such a group would have millions of small dues paying members and an on-the-spot skillful watchdog group in our national capital.

Finally, place our public elections off the private auction block and have them funded by well promoted voluntary checkoffs on the tax returns together with a certain amount of free radio and television time for ballot-qualified candidates seeking federal office.

These and other proposals, such as giving shareholders more power to restrain their top executives, will give taxpayers some grip on the wide-open spigot of taxpayer dollars delivered to the misfits of the giant corporate world.


Small Retailers pushed into Bankruptcy. US Government Subsidies to Chain Companies

“Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Govt Expense (& Stick You with the Bill)” (must see video)

Bill Moyers Journal: Clinton, Obama, King & Johnston + more (video)

Ralph Nader posts

Nader for President 2008

Batten Down The Hatches: This Is The Big One

Dandelion Salad

By Ashley Seager
Economics correspondent

04/07/08 “The Guardian

The Bank has to change its low inflation mentality to address economic reality

“Whole cities of pain. A continent of pain,” said the great, if eccentric, Wall Street money dealer Jim Cramer recently. He was talking about the economic pain spreading across the United States, of course. Until recently, the pain of the US housing market had not spread to our own fair land. Much of the economic data here has been, if anything, surprisingly healthy. But such figures are generally backward-looking and often look fine until suddenly they don’t.

Last week we saw a dramatic escalation in pain levels as one mortgage lender after another either withdrew home loans or raised the interest rates. The chart shows the growing divergence between the Bank of England’s official rate and interbank Libor rates that explains this.

This is the most concrete evidence to date that the esoteric “credit crunch” has moved out of the so-called “interbank money markets” and into the consciousness and pockets of the British people.

The Co-op Bank and First Direct said they had to shut their doors to new business because house buyers were deluging them with requests for favourable mortgage terms. Many who bought a two-bed flat in a city centre anywhere in Britain are now finding they can’t afford the mortgage repayments and the value of the property is dropping fast.

Perhaps Cramer should take a trip across the Atlantic to see more cities groaning under the pain.

Britons are also carrying record levels of debt. Figures last week showed a surprise jump in unsecured lending in February, mostly overdrafts.

A sign of continued consumer confidence, you might say. But it looks more as if consumers faced with greater difficulty in raising mortgage finance have simply let their overdrafts take the strain: it is a sure sign of consumers under stress.

That makes sense when survey after survey has been showing consumer confidence is very weak and people’s intentions of making a major purchase are vanishing. No wonder private car sales are dropping. Ernst & Young, the consultants, have warned that dealerships face a year of struggle.

The Bank of England’s credit conditions survey last week showed banks expect lending conditions to get worse, signalling more trouble ahead.

The economy has sailed resiliently through many shocks over the past 15 years, from the Asian crisis in the late-1990s to the dotcom bust of the early noughties. But it has not been hit by anything like this credit calamity for a very long time, if ever. This is the big one.

The idea that we can escape the impact of what is happening in America is just wishful thinking. There was some optimism in financial markets last week that the worst of the credit crunch might be over. These are the same markets that failed to predict the credit crunch and are the root cause of this misery, so their opinion, frankly, is not worth much.

Housing bubble

The reality is that the economy has been pumped up and up in the past decade by the cheap and easy availability of credit. Now it is neither cheap nor plentiful and the fallout is hurting.

For one thing the housing market bubble – in a way we knew all along it was a bubble – has been pricked and is starting to deflate rapidly.

House prices are not going to drift quietly sideways over the next few years while average earnings catch up. They are going to fall sharply. I would be surprised if they don’t fall by a quarter or more over the next two years.

It is not just about the supply of credit, it is about mentality – the fear and greed syndrome. Who would buy a property, even if they could get a mortgage, if they thought they could wait another year and pay, say, 10% less?

Estate agents report they have stacks of properties for sale but simply can’t shift them. So supply is plentiful and demand has dried up. In most markets, that means prices fall. Why should the housing market be different?

Already, the construction sector has nose-dived, as witnessed by two surveys of the sector that came out last week. The much bigger services sector, too, looks as if it is running into trouble, according to a survey by the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply last week.

The service sector is about two-thirds of the economy and has looked robust until now. Financial services employment has fallen sharply. The data is turning down.

All of which brings us to the policy response. What can the Bank of England do about interest rates? The growing risks to growth would normally call for sharp cuts in interest rates, following the Federal Reserve in the United States. The Fed has cut from 5.25% last autumn to just 2.25% now.

The Bank of England has been much more cautious, cutting from 5.75% to 5.25%. Part of the reason is that, until now at least, the British economy had held up well. But the other key element, as the Bank’s executive director, Paul Tucker, said last week, is that the monetary policy committee is not prepared to let the “inflationary genie” out of the bottle.

He hinted that slow, gradual rate cuts were in the committee’s mind rather than Fed-style emergency cuts.


Inflation has been pushed up to 2.5% – above its 2% target – by rising food and energy prices and is likely to rise quite a bit further.

Tucker acknowledged that a sharp slowdown in the economy would also put the brakes on inflation but it was not clear by how much.

But these are strange times for the MPC. In the face of such a shock to the economy as this credit crunch, it has to be wondered whether any of its forecasting models are of any use.

Models often use past performance to predict what might happen. But the past 15 years have been so stable for British growth and inflation that most models are likely to forecast that it will simply carry on. That is very unlikely, which means in turn that interest rates could be left too high for too long, just as happened in the US.

The rate cuts implemented by the Bank of England have probably already been cancelled out by the rising market interest rates that have pushed mortgage costs up. So interest rates are likely to be slowing the economy down, rather than boosting it.

The MPC is also conscious that for years, inflation was steady around the 2% target as high domestic inflation was offset by very low foreign inflation thanks to the strong pound and cheap Chinese imports. But now, rising world food and energy prices, combined with a falling pound, mean imported inflation has risen.

The implication of that is that domestic inflation will have to be much lower in the coming years than in the past decade. In turn, that means the economy will have to be run more slowly to keep domestic inflation in check. That’s why Tucker said last week that the MPC wanted to see some slack develop in the economy.

But the risk is that the economy might slow much more sharply than the MPC is expecting, possibly even follow the US into a recession.

In the face of such downside risks, which look to be much bigger than the upside risks to inflation, rates need to be cut, and fast, starting this week. There may not be much time. The pain is real, it is time to get the aspirin out.

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.

Should Khalid Sheikh Mohammed be set free? By Mike Whitney

Dandelion Salad

By Mike Whitney
04/07/08 “ICH

“This is the time to demonstrate to the world that the United States need not abandon its principles even as it seeks to ensure the safety of its citizens.”

— Janet Reno, former Attorney General and member of ACLU Guantanamo Defense “Dream Team”

Should Khalid Sheikh Mohammed be set free?

It’s a difficult question, but it deserves a serious answer. Here’s why. The only reason the Bush administration has decided to conduct a trial for Mohammed, the alleged terrorist mastermind of the attacks on September 11, is because they feel confident in the outcome. It’s a slam dunk. There’s no chance that the perpetrator of the biggest act of terrorism in American history will be found innocent. Bush thinks a Mohammed conviction will be a vindication for his kangaroo courts (Military tribunals) at Guantanamo Bay as well as reinforce the belief that the president has the inherent right to arbitrarily imprison anyone he chooses if he brands him an enemy combatant. It is a cynical power-play meant to increase presidential authority while further undermining fundamental legal protections. That means that the so-called tribunals will be choreographed by the Bush public relations team to rehash 9-11 in as frightening terms as possible invoking the same, worn demagoguery we’ve heard for the past six years.

On the other hand, the ACLU, which has courageously decided to defend Mohammed, will try to demonstrate the basic unfairness of the proceedings (which provide defendants with fewer rights than civilian trials or courts-martial) and how the Bush administration has violated the law at every turn by denying Mohammed due process and by using harsh interrogation techniques, including torture, to extract a confession.

Bush is no friend of civil liberties or justice. Since he first took office in 2000, he’s waged a persistent and systematic no-holds-barred attack on the Bill of Rights and the Geneva Conventions. Last week, a 30 page memo authored by senior Justice Department lawyer John C. Yoo surfaced, showing that the Bush administration worked assiduously to create a legal framework for justifying the cruel and inhuman treatment of detainees in their custody.

“Could the president, if he desired, have a prisoner’s eyes poked out? Or, for that matter, could he have “scalding water, corrosive acid or caustic substance” thrown on a prisoner? How about slitting an ear, nose or lip, or disabling a tongue or limb? What about biting?”

According to Yoo’s 81-page memo, which was declassified last week, the president had the legal authority to order any of these acts barbarism because, as Yoo says, “Federal laws prohibiting assault, maiming and other crimes by military interrogators are trumped by the president’s ultimate authority as commander in chief.” The memo also repeats the Yoo’s assertion that an interrogation tactic cannot be considered torture unless it results in “death, organ failure or serious impairment of bodily functions.”

The memo proves that Bush was aggressively seeking legal justification for the cruel and degrading treatment of prisoners and deliberately circumventing the law. Yoo, who is nothing more than a Mafia attorney, was paid to dignify Bush’s coercive detainee policies with legal film-flam. He was fully aware of what he was doing; he was a willing accomplice to a crime. As conservative pundit, Andrew Sullivan, pointed out on “Hardball” this week, “The latest revelations on the torture front show the memo from John Yoo… means that Don Rumsfeld, David Addington and John Yoo should not leave the United States any time soon. They will be, at some point, indicted for war crimes.”

Yoo worked in the Office of Legal Counsel, which means that his written opinions had “the force of law within the government because its staff is assigned to interpret the meaning of statutory or constitutional language.” (Washington Post) In other words, Yoo was the “go-to” guy. The memo proves that the treatment of terror suspects was premeditated and criminal.

But what does Yoo’s memo have to do with the trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed?

It has everything to do with it. It shows that the government was intentionally carrying out war crimes while conducting its so-called war on terror. It shows that the military tribunals have nothing to do with establishing the guilt or innocence of the defendants. They’re just politically-motivated show trials designed to enhance executive powers and further savage civil liberties. The administration hopes that by trotting out the so-called “worst of the worst” they can scare the pants off the public and weaken their commitment to the rule of law. But whatever hatred or rage Americans may feel for the perpetrators of 9-11, it is not worth destroying the laws that protect us all from the long arm of the state. If Bush is allowed to create his own parallel justice system, with its own courts and procedures, what’s to stop him from using that same model at home? Does anyone seriously think that Bush would hesitate to use the military tribunals on alleged eco-terrorists, protestors at the School of the Americas, or antiwar activists like the Irish member of the Pitstop Ploughshares who was just exiled from the US for his efforts to stop Bush’s bloodbath in Iraq?

No way. Bush has done everything in his power to place himself above the law, particularly when it comes to deciding issues of life and death. These are not matters that should be left to the flawed judgment of one man. By ignoring the flagrant violations of the law in the imprisonment and subsequent torture of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, we further reinforce the precedents that Bush is setting. That’s a blueprint for dictatorship.

The law is our only refuge from would-be tyrants like George W. Bush. Sir Thomas More summed it up like this in “A Man for all Seasons”:

Sir Thomas More: “And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you, where would you hide, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s! And if you cut them down do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of the law, for my own safety’s sake!”

However horrible he may be, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed poses no threat to our system or our freedom. Bush does. We’d be better off letting one guilty man free than than destroying the laws that protect all of us from liberty’s greatest enemy; the State.

Mohammed has been abducted, tortured, and deprived of his rights. Give him an ankle bracelet, and let him go.

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.


Permissible Assaults Cited in Graphic Detail By Dan Eggen

Evidence Grows of Drug Use on Detainees

White House Query Led to Memo Advising Bush to Ignore Fourth Amendment

The Constitution, John Yoo, and You

The Green Light: Attorney Philippe Sands Follows the Bush Admin Torture Trail

Token Troops to a Token War by Eric Margolis

Dandelion Salad

by Eric Margolis
April 07, 2008

PARIS – In one of the more bizarre meetings NATO has ever held, the military alliance decided this week to approve a US plan to build an anti-missile system in Poland and the Czech Republic against a threat that does not exist. Then, in a quid pro quo, the NATO members turned down US demands to admit the Black Sea nations of Ukraine and Georgia to the North Atlantic alliance.

The long-sought US anti-missile system is supposedly designed to shoot down long-ranged Iranian missiles with nuclear warheads. Iran has neither, and no reason whatsoever to fire nuclear weapons at western Europe. But the system had become an obsession with the Bush Administration.

Adding to the general sense of unreality, France’s president Nicholas Sarkozy proclaimed he would send 700 soldiers to Afghanistan to fight Taliban.

But this handful of French troops is merely a gesture that will not change the war, which is going badly against the US and NATO.

There is intense public opposition in France to expanding France’s limited Afghan mission. Sixty-six percent of French strongly oppose sending troops into combat in what is widely seen as a colonial war waged only for America’s benefit.

I have been busy commenting on numerous French national TV and radio programs in recent days. Opinion was dead set against government plans to send troops, except on the ruling right. I also participated in a 45-minute nationally televised debate in France’s parliament over Afghanistan with senior parliamentary politicians (both former defense ministers) dealing with Afghanistan.

Most parliamentarians agreed that France’s military contribution to the little Afghan war was about pleasing Washington rather than `waging war on terrorism.’ French politicians and public have a much clearer view of Afghanistan thanks to more honest, balanced reporting from their media which is free of the North America media’s ceaseless flag-waving. They understand that oil is a primary reason for the Afghan War.

The best arguments right wingers could come up with for sending more troops was, `eh bien, it’s symbolic.’ I reminded them and viewers that the US commander in Afghanistan recently stated he would need 400,000 troops to pacify that nation, not the 80,000 or so troops the US and NATO now deploy. The Soviets couldn’t beat the Pashtun tribes with 160,000 Red Army troops. What will a small French regiment, a few thousand US Marines and 2,500 Canadian troops accomplish, except to make more local enemies?

President Sarkozy, of course, has bigger fish to fry. He is trying to reintegrate France back into NATO after a 42-year absence. The great Charles DeGaulle withdrew his armed forces saying he refused to let Washington order then about and use them like `native colonial troops.’

The right wing Sarkozy is trying to ingratiate himself with the Bush Administration. `Sarko’ hopes the US will allow France to take command of NATO South. But the US shows little willingness to give up this prized Mediterranean command.

`Sarko’ is very much an ideological mate of Bush and other rightist governments in Canada, Holland, Denmark, Israel and, until recently, Australia. I call it the Rightwing International. Many French call Sarkozy a `neoconservative’ or `son of Bush.’

But Sarkozy is no George Bush. He is Europe-centric and determined to work with his allies. But his relations with France’s most important partner, Germany, are rocky due to a personality clash between its very different leaders.

Sarko’s real objective is to forge what he calls a `Mediterranean Union’ of European and Arab states that would, critics claim, create a sort of protectorate and guaranteed source of oil for France and Germany in North Africa. The US would then keep its Mideast Arab oil protectorate, and even Turkey might get a slice if it’s good.

Sarko’s retro grand strategy sounds like a rush back to the 19th century colonial division of African spoils.

At the same time, Sarkozy is trying to build up Europe’s own integrated defense forces, a logical goal for a continent that is more populous and richer than the United States. Washington wants to keep Europeans firmly under the control of NATO, where Washington is boss.

Still, the consensus here in France is that Sarko’s prime objective is to convince the Bush White House he is a loyal ally – even though a record 80% of Americans now reject its foreign policies as a massive failure.

copyright Eric S. Margolis 2008

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.

Mosaic News – 4/4/08: World News from the Middle East

Dandelion Salad



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


For more:
“Israeli official Escape Terror Attack ,” IBA TV, Israel
“Palestinian Resistance injures Israeli Official,” Al-Alam TV, Iran
“Shoeless in Gaza,” Dubai TV, UAE
“First Terrorism Symposium in Algeria,” Abu Dhabi TV, UAE
“New Message from Zawahiri,” Al Arabiya TV, UAE
“Al Maliki Declares Success in Basra,” Al-Iraqiya TV, Iraq
“Britain Changes its Iraq policy,” Press TV, Iran
“Egypt Arrests 800 Muslim Brotherhood Supporters,” Press TV, Iran
“Egypt Builds Controversial Dam,” Al Jazeera English, Qatar
Produced for Link TV by Jamal Dajani.

Vodpod videos no longer available. from posted with vodpod


Hoax by David Swanson: Powell Writes to Petraeus (video)

Dandelion Salad

Updated: April 8, 2008 Found the post on ADS: Link

Updated: April 8, 2008 Apparently this is a hoax by David Swanson. I changed the title to reflect this. ~ Lo

I really don’t know what to make of this. Why would Powell give a copy of a private letter to After Downing Street and not the NYT or some other newspaper/website? Anyway, check out their site for the letter, I have an RSS feed for them on the left-hand side of my page. ~ Lo


April 7, 2008

Colin Powell’s letter to General David Petraeus who returns to Congress to testify on April 8-9, 2008. Be prepared with

Vodpod videos no longer available. from posted with vodpod


Globalization: American Songbirds Are Being Wiped Out by Banned Pesticides

Dandelion Salad

by Leonard Doyle
Global Research, April 6, 2008
The Independent

Editor’s note:

In March, Global Research published an article by Brit Amos on the Decline of Bee Colonies in North America. The author attributes the death of the bees to the extensive use of GMO Crops.

The article posted below considers a related process: The death of the songbirds resulting from the extensive use of toxic pesticides and chemicals in export agriculture (fruits and vegetables) in Latin America.

It should be noted that the toxic chemicals and pesticides are distributed by the same biotech conglomerates which produce the GMO seeds.

Moreover, many of the pesticides and chemicals used in commercial agriculture are applied to sustain the production of specific GMO varieties including the fruits and vegetables exported out of Latin America.

What we are dealing with is the extinction of various forms of animal life, which is directly related to the Worldwide control exerted by the biotech companies over farming.

Michel Chossudovsky, April 6, 2008


The number of migratory songbirds returning to North America has gone into sharp decline due to the unregulated use of highly toxic pesticides and other chemicals across Latin America.


Ornithologists blame the demand for out-of-season fruit and vegetables and other crops in North America and Europe for the destruction of tens of millions of passerine birds. By some counts, half of the songbirds that warbled across America ’s skies only 40 years ago have gone, wiped out by pesticides or loss of habitat.

Forty-six years ago, the naturalist Rachel Carson wrote Silent Spring, a study of the ravages caused to wildlife, especially birds, by DDT. The chemical’s use on American farms almost eradicated entire species, including the peregrine falcon and bald eagle.

The pesticide was banned and bird numbers recovered, but new and highly toxic pesticides banned by the US and European Union are being widely used in Latin America.

Because of changed consumer habits in Europe and the US, export-led agriculture has transformed the wintering grounds of birds into intensive farming operations producing grapes, melons and bananas as well as rice for export.

Ornithologists say another silent spring is dawning across the US as birds are being poisoned by toxic chemicals or killed as pests in their winter refuges across South and Central America as well as the Caribbean. They say that many species of songbird will never recover, and others may even become endangered or extinct if controls are not put in place or consumer habits changed.

More problems await those birds which make it home. Millions of acres of wilderness the birds use as nesting grounds have been ploughed under in the drive to grow corn for ethanol, for bio-fuel.

Some 150 species of songbirds undertake extraordinary migrations up to 12,000 miles every year as they move from the south to nesting grounds in the US and Canada every spring. Ornithologists say that almost all these species are at risk of poisoning.

The migratory songbirds in most trouble include the wood thrush, the Kentucky warbler, the eastern kingbird and the bobolink, celebrated by the 19th century American poet Emily Dickinson as “the rowdy of the meadows”.

Bridget Stutchbury, an ornithologist and professor at York University in Toronto, said: “With spring we take it for granted that the sound of the songbirds will fill the air with their cheerful sounds. But each year, as we continue to demand out-of-season fruits and vegetables, fewer and fewer songbirds will return.”

The bobolink songbird has experienced such a steep decline, it has almost fallen off the charts. The birds migrate in flocks from Argentina, Bolivia and Paraguay to the east coast of the US, feeding on grain and rice, prompting farmers to regard them as a pest. Bobolink numbers have plummeted almost 50 per cent in the past four decades, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey.

Rosalind Renfrew, a biologist who studied bobolinks as they were feeding in rice paddies in Bolivia, found about half of the birds had been exposed to toxic chemicals banned in Europe and the US. Some 40 to 50 species, which include the barn swallow, the wood thrush, the dickcissel as well as migratory birds of prey, are starting to disappear.

It is only recently that the decline has been definitively linked to the use of toxic pesticides in the Caribbean and across Latin America. “Everyone who has looked for pesticide poisoning in birds has found it,” Professor Stutchbury said. “When we count birds during our summers we are finding significant population declines in about three dozen species of songbirds.”

She wrote in the comment pages of The New York Times: “They are the modern-day canaries in the coal mine.” She said: “The imported fruits and vegetables found in our shopping carts in winter and early spring are grown with types and amounts of pesticides that would often be illegal in the United States.”

Growers are using high doses of pesticides, which the World Health Organisation calls class I toxins. These are also toxic to humans and are either restricted or banned in the US and EU. But controls in Latin American countries are easily flouted.

“I believe that if we don’t make drastic changes quite literally many birds which are common now are going to become rare,” said Professor Stutchbury.

Testing by individual EU countries and the US Food and Drug Administration reveals that fruits and vegetables imported from Latin America are three and sometimes four times as likely to violate basic standards for pesticide residues.

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: 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:
© Copyright Leonard Doyle, The Independent, 2008
The url address of this article is:


Death of the Bees: GMO Crops and the Decline of Bee Colonies in North America

The World According to Monsanto – A documentary that Americans won’t ever see (full video)


Destroying Public Education in America by Stephen Lendman

Dandelion Salad

by Stephen Lendman
Global Research, April 7, 2008

Diogenes called education “the foundation of every state.” Education reformer and “father of American education” Horace Mann went even further. He said: “The common school (meaning public ones) is the greatest discovery ever made by man.” He called it the “great equalizer” that was “common” to all, and as Massachusetts Secretary of Education founded the first board of education and teacher training college in the state where the first (1635) public school was established. Throughout the country today, privatization schemes target them and threaten to end a 373 year tradition.

It’s part of Chicago’s Renaissance 2010 Turnaround strategy for 100 new “high-performing” elementary and high schools in the city by that date. Under five year contracts, they’ll “be held accountable….to create innovative learning environments” under one of three “governance structures:”

— charter schools under the 1996 Illinois Charter Schools Law; they’re called “public schools of choice, selected by students and parents….to take responsible risks and create new, innovative and more flexible ways of educating children within the public school system;” in 1997, the Illinois General Assembly approved 60 state charter schools; Chicago was authorized 30, the suburbs 15 more, and 15 others downstate. The city bends the rules by operating about 53 charter “campuses” and lots more are planned.

Charter schools aren’t magnet ones that require students in some cases to have special skills or pass admissions tests. However, they have specific organizing themes and educational philosophies and may target certain learning problems, development needs, or educational possibilities. In all states, they’re legislatively authorized; near-autonomous in their operations; free to choose their students and exclude unwanted ones; and up to now are quasi-public with no religious affiliation. Administration and corporate schemes assure they won’t stay that way because that’s the sinister plan. More on that below.

George Bush praised these schools last April when he declared April 29 through May 5 National Charter Schools Week. He said they provide more “choice,” are a “valuable educational alternative,” and he thanked “educational entrepreneurs for supporting” these schools around the country.

Here’s what the president praised. Lisa Delpit is executive director of the Center for Urban Education & Innovation. In her capacity, she studies charter school performance and cited evidence from a 2005 Department of Education report. Her conclusion: “charter schools….are less likely than public schools to meet state education goals.” Case study examples in five states showed they underperform, and are “less likely than traditional public (ones) to employ teachers meeting state certification standards.”

Other underperformance evidence came from an unexpected source – an October 1994 Money magazine report on 70 public and private schools. It concluded that “students who attend the best public schools outperform most private school students, that the best public schools offer a more challenging curriculum than most private schools, and that the private school advantage in test scores is due to their selective admission policies.”

Clearly a failing grade on what’s spreading across the country en route to total privatization and the triumph of the market over educating the nation’s youths.

In 1991, Minnesota passed the first charter school law. California followed in 1992, and it’s been off to the races since. By 1995 19 states had them, and in 2007 there were over 4000 charter schools in 40 states and the District of Columbia with more than one million students in them and growing.

Chicago’s two other “governance structures” are:

— contract (privatized) schools run by “independent nonprofit organizations;” they operate under a Performance Agreement between the “organization” and the Board of Education; and

— performance schools under Chicago Public Schools (CPS) management “with freedom and flexibility on many district initiatives and policies;” unmentioned is the Democrat mayor’s close ties to the Bush administration and their preference for marketplace education; the idea isn’t new, but it accelerated rapidly in recent years.

Another part of the scheme is in play as well, in Chicago and throughout the country. Inner city schools are being closed, remaining ones are neglected and decrepit, classroom sizes are increasing, and children and parents are being sacrificed on the alter of marketplace triumphalism.

Consider recent events under Mayor Richard Daley in Chicago. On February 27, the city’s Board of Education unanimously and without discussion voted to close, relocate or otherwise target 19 public schools, fire teachers, and leave students out in the cold. Thousands of parents protested, were ignored and denied access to the Board of Ed meeting where the decision came down pro forma and quick. And it wasn’t the first time. For years under the current mayor, Chicago has closed or privatized more schools than anywhere else in the country, and the trend is accelerating. Since July 2001, the city closed 59 elementary and secondary schools and replaced many of them with charter or contract ones.

Nationwide Education “Reform”

Throughout the country, various type schemes follow the administration’s “education reform” blueprint. It began with the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) that became law on January 8, 2002. It succeeded the 1994 Goals 2000: Educate America Act that set eight outcomes-based goals for the year 2000 but failed on all counts to meet them. Goals 2000, in turn, goes back to the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and specifically its Title I provisions for funding schools and districts with a high percentage of low-income family students.

NCLB is outrageous. It’s long on testing, school choice, and market-based “reforms” but short on real achievement. It’s built around rote learning, standardized tests, requiring teachers to “teach to the test,” assessing results by Average Yearly Progress (AYP) scores, and punishing failure harshly – firing teachers and principals, closing schools and transforming them from public to charter or for-profit ones.

Critics denounce the plan as “an endless regimen of test-preparation drills” for poor children. Others call it underfunded and a thinly veiled scheme to privatize education and transfer its costs and responsibilities from the federal government to individuals and impoverished school districts. Mostly, it reflects current era thinking that anything government does business does better, so let it. And Democrats are as complicit as Republicans.

So far, NCLB renewal bills remain stalled in both Houses, election year politics have intervened, and final resolution may be for the 111th Congress to decide. For critics, that’s positive because the law failed to deliver as promised. Its sponsors claimed it would close the achievement gap between inner city and rural schools and more affluent suburban ones. It’s real aim, however, is to commodify education, end government responsibility for it, and make it another business profit center.

Last October, the New York Times cited Los Angeles as a vision of the future. It said “more than 1000 of California’s 9500 schools are branded chronic failures, and the numbers are growing.” Under NCLB, “state officials predict that all 6063” poor district schools will fail and will have to be “restructured” by 2014, when the law requires universal proficiency in math and reading.” It’s happening throughout the country, and The Times cited examples in New York, Florida and Maryland. Schools get five years to deliver or be declared irredeemable, in which case they must “restructure” with new teachers and principals.

In Los Angeles and around the country, “the promised land of universal high achievement seems more distant than ever,” and one parent expressed her frustration. Weeks into the new school year, she said teachers focus solely on what’s likely to appear on exams. “Maybe the system is not designed for people like us,” she complained. Indeed it’s not.

New Millennium Education

That’s the theme of Time magazine’s December 9, 2006 article on the National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE). It’s on NCEE’s New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce. Time called it “a high-powered, bipartisan assembly of Education Secretaries, business leaders and a former Governor” and the pre-K to 12 education blueprint they released. It’s called “Tough Choices or Tough Times,” was funded by the (Bill) Gates Foundation, and below is its corporate wish list:

— moving beyond charter schools to privatized contract ones; charter schools are just stalking horses for what business really wants – privatizing all public schools for their huge profit potential;

— ending high school for many poor and minority students after the 10th grade – for those who score poorly on standardized tests intended for high school seniors; those who do well can finish high school and go on to college; others who barely pass can go to community colleges or technical schools after high school;

— ending remediation and special education aid for low-performance students to cut costs;

— ending teacher pensions and reducing their health and other benefits;

— ending seniority and introducing merit pay and other teacher differentials based on student performance and questionable standards;

— eliminating school board powers, all regulations, and empowering private companies;

— effectively destroying teacher unions; and

— ending public education and creating a nationwide profit center with every incentive to cut costs and cheat students for bottom line gains; this follows an earlier decades-long corporate – public higher education trend that one educator calls a “subtle yet significant change toward (university) privatization, meaning that private entities are gradually replacing taxpayers as the dominant funding source as state appropriations account for a lower and lower percentage of schools’ operating resources;” corporations now want elementary and secondary education control for the huge new market they represent.

The Skills Commission’s earlier 1990s work advanced the scheme and laid the groundwork for NCLB. It came out of its “America’s Choice: High Skills or Low Wages” report on non-college-bound students. It called them “ill-equipped to meet employer’s current needs and ill-prepared for the rapidly approaching, high-technology, service-oriented future.” It recommended ending an “outmoded model” and adopting a standards-based learning and testing approach to enforce student – teacher accountability.

Both Commission reports reflect a corporate wish list to commodify education, benefit the well-off, and consign underprivileged kids to low-wage, no benefit service jobs. It’s a continuing trend to shift higher-paying ones abroad, downsize the nation, and end the American dream for millions. So why educate them.

School Vouchers

They didn’t make it into NCLB, but they’re very much on the table with a sinister added twist. First some background.

It’s an old idea dating back to the hard right’s favorite economist and man the UK Financial Times called “the last of the great (ones)” when he died in November 2006. Milton Friedman promoted school choice in 1955, then kick-started it in the 1980s under Ronald Reagan. He opposed public education, supported school vouchers for privately-run ones, and believed marketplace competition improves performance even though voucher amounts are inadequate and mostly go to religious schools in violation of the First Amendment discussed below.

Here’s how the Friedman Foundation for Education Choice currently describes the voucher scheme: it’s the way to let “every parent send their child to the school of their choice regardless of where they live or income.” In fact, it’s a thinly veiled plot to end public education and use lesser government funding amounts for well-off parents who can make up the difference and send their children to private-for-profit schools. Others are on their own under various programs with “additional restrictions” the Foundation lists without explanation:

— Universal Voucher Programs for all children;

— Means-Tested Voucher Programs for families below a defined income level;

— Failing Schools, Failing Students Voucher Programs for poor students or “failed” schools;

— Special Needs Voucher Programs for children with special educational needs;

— Pre-kindergarten Voucher Programs; and

— Town Tuitioning Programs for communities without operating public schools for some students’ grade levels.

What else is behind school choice and vouchers? Privatization mostly, but it’s also thinly-veiled aid for parochial schools, mainly Christian fundamentalist ones, and the frightening ideology they embrace – racial hatred, male gender dominance, white Christian supremacy, militarism, free market everything, and ending public education and replacing it with private Christian fundamentalist schools.

In March 1971, the Supreme Court ruled in Lemon v. Kurtzman against parochial funding in what became known as the “Lemon Test.” In a unanimous 7 – 0 decision, the Court decided that government assistance for religious schools was unconstitutional because it violates the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause. It prohibits the federal government from declaring and financially supporting a national religion, and the First Amendment states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;….”

That changed in June 2002 when the Court ruled 5 – 4 in Zelman v. Simmons-Harris that Cleveland’s religious school funding didn’t violate the Establishment Clause. The decision used convoluted reasoning that the city’s program was for secular, not religious purposes in spite of some glaring facts. In 1999 and 2000, 82% of funding went to religious schools, and 96% of students benefitting were enrolled in them.

The Court harmed democracy and the Constitution’s letter and spirit. It also contradicted Thomas Jefferson’s 1802 affirmation that there should be “a wall of separation between church and state.” No longer for the nation’s schools.

Nationwide Efforts to Privatize Education

In recent years, privatization efforts have expanded beyond urban inner cities and are surfacing everywhere with large amounts of corporate funding and government support backing them. One effort among many is frightening. It’s called “Strong American Schools – ED in ’08” and states the following: it’s “a nonpartisan public awareness campaign aimed at elevating education to (the nation’s top priority).” It says “America’s students are losing out,” and the “campaign seeks to unite all Americans around the crucial mission of improving our public schools (by using an election year to elevate) the discussion to a national stage.”

Billionaires Bill Gates and Eli Broad put up $60 million for the effort for the big returns they expect. Former Colorado governor and (from 2001 – 2006) superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District Roy Romer is the chairman. The Rockefeller (family) Philanthropy Advisors are also involved as one of their efforts “to bring the entire world under their sway” in the words of one analyst. Other steering committee members include former IBM CEO and current Carlyle Group chairman Lou Gerstner; former Michigan governor and current National Association of Manufacturers president John Engler; and Gates Foundation head Allan Golston.

“Ed in ’08” has a three-point agenda:

— ending seniority and substituting merit pay for teachers based on student test scores;

— national education standards based on rote learning; standards are to be uniformly based on “what (business thinks) ought to be taught, grade by grade;” it’s to prepare some students for college and the majority for workplace low-skill, low-paid, no-benefit jobs; and

— longer school days and school year; unmentioned but key is eliminating unions or making them weak and ineffective.

In addition, the plan involves putting big money behind transforming public and charter schools to private-for-profit ones. It’s spreading everywhere, and consider California’s “Program Improvement” initiative. Under it, “All schools and local educational agencies (LEAs) (must make) Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP)” under NCLB provisions nearly impossible to achieve. Those that fail must divert public money from classrooms to private-for-profit remediating programs. It’s part of a continuing effort to defund inner city schools and place them in private hands, then on to the suburbs with other “innovative” schemes to transform them as well.

Under the governor’s proposed 2008 $4.8 billion education budget cut, transformation got easier. As of mid-March, 20,000 California teachers got layoff notices with State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell saying this action puts student performance “in grave jeopardy.” Likely by design.

Plundering New Orleans

Nowhere is planned makeover greater than in post-Katrina New Orleans, and last June 28 the Supreme Court made it easier. Its ruling in Meredith v. Jefferson County (KY) and Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District effectively gutted the landmark 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision that affirmed: segregated public schools deny “Negro children the equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the 14th Amendment.”

In two troubling 5 – 4 decisions, the Roberts Court changed the law. They said public schools can’t seek to achieve or maintain integration through measures taking explicit account of a student’s race. They rewrote history, so cities henceforth may have separate and unequal education. Then it’s on to George Wallace-style racism with policies like: “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever” with the High Court believing what was good for 1960s Alabama is now right for the country.

The Court also made it easy for New Orleans to become a corporate predator’s dream, and it didn’t take long to exploit it. Consider public schools alone. The storm destroyed over half their buildings and scattered tens of thousands of students and teachers across the country. Within days of the calamity, Governor Kathleen Blanco held a special legislative session. Subject – taking over New Orleans Public Schools (NOPS) that serve about 63,000 mostly low-income almost entirely African-American children. Here’s what followed:

— two weeks after the hurricane, US Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings cited charter schools as “uniquely equipped” to serve Katrina-displaced students;

— two weeks later, she announced the first of two $20 million grants to the state, solely for these schools;

— then in October 2005, the governor issued an executive order waiving key portions of the state’s charter school law allowing public schools to be converted to charter ones with no debate, input or even knowledge of parents and teachers;

— a month later in November, the state legislature voted to take over 107 (84%) of the city’s 128 public schools and place them under the state-controlled “Recovery School District (RSD);” and

— in February 2006, all unionized city school employees were fired, then selectively rehired at less pay and fewer or no benefits; it affected 7500 teachers as well as custodians, cafeteria workers and others.

Within six months of Katrina, the city was largely ethnically cleansed, the public schools infrastructure mostly gutted, and a new framework was in place. It put NOPS into three categories – public, charter and the Recovery School District with the latter ones run by the state as charter or for-profit schools.

New Orleans Loyola University law professor Bill Quigley described the plunder and called it “a massive (new) experiment….on thousands of (mostly) African American children….” It’s in two halves.

The first half based on Recovery School District’s estimated 30,000 returning students in January 2007:

— “Half of (these children were) enrolled (in) charter schools.” They got “tens of millions of dollars” in federal money, but aren’t “open to every child….Some charter schools have special selective academic criteria (and can) exclude children in need of special academic help.” Others “have special administrative policies (that) effectively screen out many children.” This latter category has “accredited teachers in manageable size classes (in schools with) enrollment caps….These schools also educate far fewer students with academic or emotional disabilities (and) are in better facilities than the other half of the children….”

“The other half:”

These students were “assigned to a one-year-old experiment in public education run by the State of Louisiana called the ‘Recovery School District (RSD)’ program.” Their education “will be compared” to what first half children get in charter schools. “These children are effectively….called the ‘control group’ of an experiment – those against whom the others will be evaluated.”

RSD “other half” schools got no federal funds. Its leadership is inexperienced. It’s critically understaffed. Many of its teachers are uncertified. There aren’t enough of them, and schools assigned students hadn’t been built for their scheduled fall 2007 opening. In addition, some schools reported a “prison atmosphere,” and in others, children spent long hours in gymnasiums because teachers hadn’t arrived. In addition, there was little academic counseling; college-preparatory math; or science and languages; and class sizes are too large because returning students are assigned to too few of them.

Many RSD schools also have no “working kitchens or water fountains (and their) bathroom facilities are scandalous….Hardly any white children attend this half of the school experiment.” RSD schools are for poor black students getting short-changed and denied a real education by an uncaring state and nation and corporations in it for profit.

Quigley described a system for “Haves (and) Have-Nots,” and race defines it. He also exposed the lie that charter schools are public ones. Across the country, but especially in New Orleans, school officials are unaccountable, can pick and choose their students, and can decide who gets educated and who doesn’t.

Separate and Unequal

In his 2005 book “The Shame of the Nation: The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America,” Jonathan Kozol explains a problem getting worse, not better. Using data from state and local education agencies, interviews with researchers and policy makers, and the Harvard Civil Rights Project, his account is disturbing at a time of NCLB and other destructive initiatives.

Harvard Civil Rights researchers captured the problem in their Brown v. Board of Education 50th anniversary assessment stating: “At the beginning of the twenty-first century, American public schools are now 12 years into the process of continuous resegregation.” Desegregation from the 1950s through the late 1980s “has receded to levels not seen in three decades.” The percent of black students in majority-white schools stands at “a level lower than in any year since 1968” with conditions worst of all in the nation’s four most segregated states – New York, Michigan, Illinois and California. “Martin Luther King’s dream is being celebrated in theory and dishonored in practice” by what’s happening in inner-city schools. King would be appalled “that the country would renege on its promises,” and the Supreme Court would authorize it in their two above cited decisions and an earlier 1991 one:

— Board of Education of Oklahoma City v. Dowell that ruled for resegregating neighborhood schools mostly in areas of the South where desegregation was most advanced.

According to recent National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) data, blacks and Latinos now comprise about 95% of inner-city students in the nation’s 100 largest school systems – accounting for more than one-third of all public school students. Kozol writes about “hypersegregation” with “no more than five or 10 white children (in) a student population of as many as 3000,” and this is the “norm, not the exception, in most northern urban areas today.” It’s “fashionable,” he says, to declare integration “failed” and settle for a new millennium version of “Plessey” and its “separate but equal” doctrine that “Brown” repudiated until now.

Despite high-minded political posturing and programs like NCLB, the truth is these youngsters are forgotten and abused. They’re warehoused in decrepit facilities, curricula offerings ignore their needs, testing is unrelated to learning, teachers don’t teach, the whole scheme is swept under the rug, and “educating” the unwanted is “standardized” to produce good workers with pretty low skill levels for the kinds of jobs awaiting them. Kozol refers to “school reform” as a “business enterprise with goals, action plans, implementation targets, and productivity measures,” and above all what marketplace potential there is.

Separate and unequal is the current inner city school standard. Unless it’s exposed, denounced and reversed, (and there’s no sign of it), millions of poor and minority children will be denied what the “American dream” increasingly only offers the privileged. And no one in Washington cares or they’d be doing something about it.

Disturbing New Dropout Data

A new Editorial Projects in Education (EPE) Research Center report released April 1 is revealing, disturbing but not surprising. It states only 52% of public high school students in the nation’s 50 largest cities completed the full curriculum and graduated in 2003 – 2004. This compares to the national average of 70%. Below are some of the findings:

— 1.2 million public high school students drop out each year;

— 17 of the 50 troubled cities have graduation rates of 50% or lower; in Detroit it’s 24.9%; Indianapolis is 30.5%; Cleveland at 34.1%; Baltimore – 34.6%; Columbus – 40.9%; Minneapolis – 43.7%; Dallas – 44.4%; New York – 45.2%; Los Angeles – 45.3%; Oakland – 45.6%; Kansas City – 45.7%; Atlanta – 46%; Milwaukee – 46.1%; Denver – 46.3%; Oklahoma City – 47.5%; Miami – 49%; and Philadelphia – 49.6%;

— Chicago barely came in at 51.5%;

— the data show public education in the 50 largest cities’ principal school districts in a virtual state of collapse;

— dropout rates for blacks and Latinos are significantly higher than for white students;

— dropouts are eight times more likely to end up in prison; family income is the main problem; in cities most affected, it goes hand in hand with a lack of good jobs and a sub-standard social infrastructure;

— key to understanding the overall problem nationwide is the gutting of social services, widening income gap between rich and poor, exporting manufacturing and other high-paying jobs abroad, and politicians and business exploiting the needs of the many to benefit the few;

— NCLB “reform” is called the solution; Democrats and Republicans are complicit in promoting it, and no one in government explains the truth – the report reveals a sinister scheme to end public education, say it causes poor student performance, and privatize it so the “market” can provide it to well-off communities and merely exploit the rest for profit.

Why else would the (Bill) Gates Foundation have funded the study and Colin Powell’s America’s Promise Alliance have sponsored it. APA is partnered with business, faith-based (Christian fundamentalist) groups, wealthy funders, and organizations like the American Bankers Association, right wing Aspen Institute, Business Roundtable, Ford Motor, Fannie Mae, Marriott International, National Association of Manufacturers, US Chamber of Commerce and many other for-profit ones and NGOs.

Educational Maintenance Organizations

It’s a new term for an old idea that’s much like their failed HMO counterparts. They’re private-for-profit businesses that contract with local school districts or individual charter schools to “improve the quality of education without significantly raising current spending levels.” They’re still rare, but watch out for them and what they’re up to.

An example is the Edison Project running Edison (for-profit) Schools. It calls itself “the nation’s leading public school partner, working with schools and districts to raise student achievement and help every child reach his or her full potential.” In the 2006-2007 school year, Edison served over 285,000 “public school” students in 19 states, the District of Columbia and the UK through “management partnerships with districts and charter schools; summer, after-school, and Supplemental Educational Service programs; and achievement management solutions for school systems.”

Edison Schools, and its controversial charter schools and EMO projects, hope to cash in on privatizing education and is bankrolled by Microsoft’s co-founder Paul Allen to do it. The company was founded in 1992, its performance record is spotty, and too often deceptive. It cooks the books on its assessments results that unsurprisingly show far more than they achieve. That’s clear when independent evaluations are made.

Kalamazoo’s Western Michigan University’s Evaluation Center published one of them in December 2000. Miami-Dade County public schools did another in the late 1990s. Both studies agreed. They showed Edison School students didn’t outperform their public school counterparts, and they were kind in their assessment.

Even more disturbing was Edison’s performance in Texas. It took over two Sherman, Texas schools in 1995, then claimed it raised student performance by 5%. But an independent American Institutes for Research (AIR) study couldn’t confirm it because Edison threatened legal action if its results were revealed. It was later learned that AIR’s findings weren’t exactly glowing and were thus suppressed. However, Sherman schools knew them, and when Edison’s contract came up for renewal, the company withdrew before being embarrassed by expulsion.

The city’s school superintendent had this assessment. He said Edison arrived with promises to educate students at the same cost as public schools and would improve performance. In the end, the city spent an extra $4 million, and students test scores were lower than in other schools. The superintendent added: “They were more about money than teaching,” and that’s the problem with privatized education in all its forms – charter, contract or EMOs that place profits over students.

Unless public action stops it, Edison is the future and so is New Orleans in its worst of all forms. It’s spreading fast, and without public knowledge or discussion. It’s the privatization of all public spaces and belief that marketplace everything works best. Indeed for business, but not people who always lose out to profits.

Global Research Associate Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at

Also visit his blog site at and listen to The Global Research News Hour on Mondays from 11AM to 1PM for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests.

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: 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:
© Copyright Stephen Lendman, Global Research, 2008
The url address of this article is:

Fed Up: Bernanke joins G-7 to Stem Global Financial Meltdown By Mike Whitney

Digg It

Dandelion Salad

By Mike Whitney
04/06/08 “ICH”

In a recent interview with the New York Times, former Secretary of the Treasury Paul O’ Neill, was asked how the problems with subprime mortgages could lead to a financial crisis of global proportions. O’ Neill said,

“If you have 10 bottles of water, and one bottle has poison in it, and you don’t know which one, you probably won’t drink out of any of the 10 bottles; that’s basically what we’ve got here.”

Bulls-eye. O’ Neill’s answer is the best yet for explaining a complex situation in simple terms. The term “subprime” is a red herring; it is used by the media to minimize what is really going on. The meltdown in financing extends across the entire range of mortgage-security products. No loan-type has been spared. The wholesale market for anything connected to mortgages is frozen and the details are being intentionally withheld from the public. Two years ago, more than 65 percent of all mortgages were converted into securities and sold off to Wall Street. No more. That scam unraveled in July when two Bear Stearns hedge funds blew up and their were no takers for billions of dollars of mortgage-backed junk. Since then, bankers and hedge fund managers have been scrambling to conceal the facts about what mortgage-backed securities (MBS) are really worth; nothing. The fear is that when the public finds out what is really going on, they’ll draw the logical conclusion that the banking system is bankrupt, which it probably is. Just look at these eye-popping losses which appeared in Bloomberg News on April 1 The financial ship is listing, and the mainstream media is doing its best to keep the public in the dark.

So for the last eight months, a simple matter of “price discovery” on publicly traded securities has been a nonstop game of hide-n-seek. That’s no way to run a free market. The recent collapses of Bear Stearns and Carlye Capital are just the latest additions to this ongoing farce. Carlyle was a $22 billion hedge fund that couldn’t scrape together a measly $400 billion to meet a margin call. Why? Every analyst who wrote on the topic noted that the fund was loaded up with high-quality Triple-A and GSE (Fannie Mae) bonds. So what were they offered for their MBS? That question was never answered because Fed chief Ben Bernanke rode to the rescue and created a new $200 billion auction facility and –Whoosh—Carlyle’s mortgage-backed junk disappeared down a black hole. How convenient; another Fed bailout to hide the damning evidence that trillions of dollars of MBSs are utterly worthless and devouring the financial system from the inside.

Bernanke’s myriad auction facilities (four, so far) are ostensibly designed to remove these mortgage-backed stinkers from the banks’ balance sheets so they can start lending again. But there’s another reason, too. The Fed thinks they can simply put these MBSs in cold-storage for a while and then re-thaw them when the market bounces back. But the market for MBSs won’t bounce back. This is biggest housing bust in US history and prices have a long way to go. Who is going to invest in mortgage-backed bonds when the underlying asset is losing value every day? Besides, as Paul O’ Neill points out; one of the bottles contains poison and investors don’t like poison. So, Bernanke is stuck trying to treat with the symptoms rather than the disease. As a scholar of the Great Depression, he’s been rifling through his bag o’ tricks to mitigate the damage, but without success. The rate-cuts and auction facilities have been a complete flop. The situation is worse now than it was in July; much worse. In fact, the develeraging of financial institutions is accelerating at a pace that no one expected threatening some of Wall Streets’ biggest players and putting $500 trillion in counterparty agreements at risk. And it all began with eliminating the basic standards for issuing loans to credit-worthy applicants; the straw that broke the camel’s back. Now the whole system is crumbling and an ominous sense of doom pervades trading floors across the planet. Everyone is just waiting for the next shoe drop.

Pimco’s Bill Gross said, “What we are seeing is the collapse of the modern day banking system”. American-style capitalism is in crisis-mode and the outcome is far from certain. The Fed’s interventions show that the long held belief that markets are self-correcting has vanished. Laissez-faire is out; regulation is in.

Bloomberg News summed it up like this:

“It is no coincidence that the crisis of 2007 and 2008 had its origin in unregulated financial products traded in unregulated markets. Ever since the Great Depression, the government has tried to limit the leverage available to the public in the American stock market. But regulators, led by Alan Greenspan, the former chairman of the Federal Reserve, thought it would hamper innovation, and drive financial activity overseas, if there were any attempts to impose limits on leverage in the unregulated markets.

To avoid a super-bubble in the future, (the) banks must control their own borrowing. They must also curtail lending to clients such as hedge funds by demanding greater collateral and margin requirements on loans.” (Bloomberg News)

In Henry Liu’s latest article in Asia Times, “A Panic-stricken Federal Reserve”, Liu makes this observation on the Fed’s auction facilities which provide hundreds of billions of dollars in 28 day loans in exchange for dubious mortgage-backed collateral:

“Since the Fed cannot retire loans made via TAF and its repo program without adding to those ‘elevated pressures’, the loans should be considered an equity infusion, because they’ll be repaid at the convenience of the borrower rather than on a schedule agreed with the lender.” What Waldman did not say was that the Fed had ventured into a broad nationalization of the prime dealers on Wall Street by being an equity investor. (Quote,Steve Randy Waldman of Interfluidity; Henry Liu, “A Panic-stricken Federal Reserve”)

Does the Fed realize that it is effectively monetizing the debt by issuing loans that may not be repaid or is this just a clever way to trick foreign investors into believing that the Fed won’t print its way out of a crisis? The bottom line is, whether the nation is headed into a deflationary spiral or not; all of the Fed’s tools are inflationary. Rate cuts, auction facilities or covert monetization all weaken the currency and levee an unfair tax on savers and people on fixed incomes. Unfortunately, these people have no voice in government, so we can’t expect their interests to be fairly represented.

Since housing peaked in 2005, 240 independently-owned mortgage lenders have filed for bankruptcy. Wholesale funding sources have dried up and foreclosures are on the rise. Now, more than 75 percent of mortgages are funded by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac while another 10 percent are underwritten by FHA. The real estate industry has been nationalized; another knock-on effect of Greenspan’s low interest monetary policy. Presently, the Fed and the Secretary of the Treasury, Henry Paulson, are pushing to expand Fannie’s and Freddie’s balance sheets so they can absorb bigger and riskier mortgages. This is lunacy. Fannie Mae is already perilously under-capitalized and, if it defaults, taxpayers will be on the hook for $2.2 trillion. That doesn’t seem to bother Paulson who is determined to reflate the equity bubble so the profits keep rolling in to Wall Street’s coffers. Still, even if the plan goes forward, it’s unlikely that Paulson and Bernanke will be able to re-energize the real estate market or ignite another housing boom. Public attitudes have changed dramatically in the last few months. The myth that “housing prices never going down” has been dispelled and high levels of personal debt have forced many to reassess their spending priorities. The American consumer has never been so over-extended.

According to Bloomberg:

Consumers fell behind on car, credit-card and home-equity loans at the highest level in 15 years, another sign the U.S. economy is slowing, according to the American Bankers Association’s quarterly survey. Payments at least 30 days past due increased across all eight categories of loans tracked during the fourth quarter, the Washington-based group said today in a statement. Late loans in the quarter climbed 21 basis points to 2.65 percent of all accounts in a consumer-loan index created by the group.

The American consumer is tapped-out. What he needs is a raise, not another loan. Bush’s $500 per person Stimulus Package will do nothing to reverse the effects of 30 years of anti-labor legislation and class-oriented monetary policy.

Another indication that attitudes towards spending have changed, showed up in a survey conducted two weeks ago by USA Today/Gallup. The poll released showed that 76 percent of Americans believe that the country is now in recession and 59 percent think the US will slide into a depression that will last for several years. Despite the media’s attempts to convince us that these are “the best of times”; the public knows otherwise. Their pessimism is expressing itself through curtailed spending. There’s nothing the Fed can do to change the prevailing mood of the country. Working people are hurting. The spending spree is over.

The housing market will be dead for a generation. That means the MBS market will falter and the multi-trillion dollar derivatives monolith will continue to unwind. It will take emergency measures to address the credit avalanche which is just now hitting the broader economy.

The Bear Stearns bailout is a prime example of the extent to which the Fed is willing to go to stop a meltdown. By approving the $30 billion dollar deal with JP Morgan, the Fed arbitrarily went beyond its mandate of providing liquidity to the markets and usurped Congress’ authority to appropriate funds. It was a power-grab engineered under shaky pretenses. The Fed isn’t authorized to prevent privately-owned businesses that are recklessly leveraged at 30 to 1 from defaulting. More importantly, the Federal Reserve is not Congress, although they have now assumed those constitutional duties. Speaker of the House Pelosi has said nothing so far.

Paulson has used the Bear fiasco as a platform for his blueprint for “broad market reforms”; a 200-plus page document that removes Congress from its role of overseeing the financial markets. According to the New York Times:

“President Bush was preparing to issue an executive order soon to expand the membership and reach of an interagency committee called the President’s Working Group on Financial Markets. (aka; The Plunge Protection Team) The group was created after the stock market plummeted in 1987. The group is also expected to consider ways to broaden the authority of the Federal Reserve to lend money to nonbanks as needs arise. (Ed. note: To authorize more Bear Stearns type bailouts with consulting Congress)…..Elements of the plan are clearly deregulatory. The plan proposes, for instance, to reduce the enforcement authority of the S.E.C. in a variety of ways and hand that authority instead to industry groups. The plan recommends that investment advisers no longer be directly regulated by the commission, but instead be supervised by an industry regulatory organization.

The Treasury Department’s blueprint is designed to boost Wall Street’s competitiveness, not Main Street investor protection,” said Karen Tyler, president of the North American Securities Administrators Association and the securities commissioner of North Dakota.” (New York Times)

Congress is being muscled out of financial market supervision by a troop of venal banksters and corporate picaroons who are threatening to finish-off the already-defanged SEC. That will put the Fed in the driver’s seat for good. Paulson wants to police the world’s most complex markets on the “honor system”. It’s crazy. His blueprint is an obvious attempt to consolidate market-related functions under a central authority that is accountable to private industry alone. That way, the Fed can bailout whomever it chooses without congressional approval. Paulson’s press conference was just a polite way of informing the American people that the seat of power has shifted from Washington to Wall Street. It’s a banker’s coup.

So, where do we go from here? Pimco’s Bill Gross gives us some indication in this recent quote:

“In my opinion, the private credit markets have forfeited their privileged right to operate relatively autonomously because of incompetence, excessive greed, and in minor instances, fraudulent activities. As a result, the deflating private market’s balance sheet is being re-nationalized in some cases with increased regulation, in others with outright guarantees and agency lending. Ultimately government programs which support private credit market assets may be required in order to prevent an asset deflation of significant proportions. Authorities must act quickly, with a shot of adrenalin straight to the heart of the problem: home prices. Since homes are the most highly levered and monetarily significant asset that American consumers own, if they decline much further they will drag the rest of the economy with them.”

“Re-nationalized”; is that what it is? No one authorized the Fed or Paulson to re-nationalize anything. These over-leveraged banking behemoths need to fail. Let the market work. 28 million Americans are on food stamps, tent cities are sprouting up across the country, discretionary spending is down, food and energy prices are skyrocketing, and wages have been frozen for a generation. Where’s the bailout for the working man? Instead, the government’s largess is showered on a throng of unctuous fat-cat banksters so they can keep the larder on Martha’s Vineyard topped off with Godiva truffles and Cuban cigars. Paulson has to go. Bernanke too.

An article in last week’s New York Times, “Leveraged Planet”, provides a great description of the Fed’s activities during the weekend of the Bear Stearns fiasco. Journalist Andrew Sorkin recreates the frantic phone calls and panicky deal-making that went on behind the scenes while the stock market was preparing for a Monday morning blow-out:

“JUST before JP Morgan-Chase announced its initial $2-a-share deal to buy Bear Stearns, Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, held an extraordinary impromptu conference call. The participants on the Sunday night call, who got a preview of the deal, were Wall Street’s biggest power brokers: Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs dialed in from home. John Mack of Morgan Stanley rushed to the office to listen on speakerphone. Richard Fuld of Lehmann Brothers, who had been directed to return home from a business trip in New Delhi by none other than Henry Paulson, the Treasury secretary, was patched in, too, among others.

The half-hour call was a rallying cry for support of Bear Stearns — and more broadly, the financial markets, which, as it was described on the call, were on the verge of a major meltdown if not for the pre-emptive steps that the Fed and JPMorgan took. “It was much worse than anyone realized; the markets were on the precipice of a real crisis,” said one participant. Given that Bear held trading contracts with an outstanding value of $2.5 trillion with firms around the world, “we were talking about the possibility of a global run on the bank.” (Andrew Sorkin, “Leveraged Planet” New York Times)

Typical of the Times, the reader is left feeling that the wild and destabilizing activities of one unregulated market participant, like Bear, is as natural as a spring rain. There’s not the slightest hint that Bears’ transgressions may have emerged from years of kicking down regulatory doors and feeding campaign contributions into a corrupt political system. That’s way beyond the Times’ range of analysis. Instead, the heroes of this financial kabuki are none other than the ashen-faced palatines at Fed and the Treasury who deftly donned their Haz-mat suits long enough to battle the flames of the banking inferno with a stream of taxpayer money. So much for moral hazard.

If Bear had been properly policed; it would have been better capitalized with considerably less leverage. Its $2.5 trillion of derivatives contracts would have been regulated by government officials to make sure that they posed no threat to the broader system. Sorkin’s recap just proves that the present stewards of the system are bunglers who are out of their depth. After years of serial bubble-making, they are finally begin to realize that their neoliberal Golden Calf was built on a foundation of pure quicksand. In fact, the sirens are already wailing as the yields on 3 month Treasuries continue to plummet, which is the bond market’s way of perching itself atop the highest building in downtown Manhattan and screaming, “FIRE!” There’s no telling when the stock market will get the message, but it shouldn’t be too long.

CODE RED; Emergency planning now underway

So, what is to be done? New York Fed chief Timothy Geithner says that capital markets are still “substantially impaired” and policy makers and financial industry leaders must “act forcefully” to stem the crisis.

“What we were observing in U.S. and global financial markets was similar to the classic pattern in financial crises,” Geithner said in his prepared testimony to the Senate Banking Committee. He cited “a self-reinforcing downward spiral” of asset sales, “higher volatility, and still lower prices.” (Bloomberg News)

If Geithner’s predictions of “a self-reinforcing downward spiral” sound scary; so do the remedies. The Financial Times outlined the radical strategies that are now under consideration by the G-7 powers for dealing with challenges of the rapidly-expanding credit crisis. These include “the temporary suspension of capital requirements, taxpayer-funded recapitalisation of banks and outright public purchase of mortgage-backed securities.” Everything is on the table.

Representatives from the main western central banks are also discussing whether to force a number of the larger banks to disclose their financial positions so they can objectively determine the weaknesses on their balance sheets.

Other recommendations include boosting capital requirements, “conserving financial resources”, and utilizing public funds. The group is also deciding whether to “suspend capital and reporting rules that tie prudential requirements to market values of securities.” That way the banks can avoid letting shareholders know the true downgraded value of their assets. This is clearly an attempt to deceive the public about the real financial condition of the banks.

“Emergency liquidity support”, reductions in capital requirements, concealing the true value of collateral, relaxing regulations, suspending accounting rules for assets; it sounds a lot like panic. These are the signs of a system so dilapidated that the pilings shake and the scaffolding wobbles with the slightest breeze. A system that’s held together with the frayed strands of collective fear; bankers angst. Strike a match and the whole thing will go up like a Roman candle.

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.