Lockdown in St. Paul by Adam Turl + What You Can Do

Dandelion Salad

by Adam Turl
September 5, 2008
SocialistWorker.org
Lockdown in St. Paul | SocialistWorker.org

Adam Turl describes the police-state tactics used to squelch dissent in Minneapolis and St. Paul during the Republican National Convention.

THERE WAS a criminal conspiracy engulfing Minnesota’s Twin Cities during the Republican National Convention (RNC)–but it didn’t involve masked anarchists, as mainstream media outlets warned.

The real conspiracy was a plot by 30 federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to repress dissent and protests under the rubric of “national security” and the “war on terror.”

The repression caught in its wake antiwar protesters, environmentalists, pacifists, anarchists, socialists and reporters–in short, anyone who might show (or report on) signs of dissent against a government waging two barbaric wars while it can’t even provide health care to its own people.

As of the late afternoon before John McCain’s convention speech September 4, at least 320 people had been arrested in the previous five days–on the street or in police raids. At least 16 of them faced felony charges, and 47 others faced serious “gross misdemeanor” charges. Other reports put the number of felony arrests as high as 120–at least five of them involving minors.

As of September 3, many of those arrested remained in jail, held illegally beyond Minnesota’s 36-hour limit on detention without formal charges. Reportedly, many prisoners hadn’t been allowed to meet with lawyers or make phone calls–and some prisoners were said to be holding a hunger strike in protest.

Outrageously, eight people have been charged with “second-degree furtherance of terrorism,” “conspiracy to riot” and “commit civil disorder.” Not one of them was charged with any actual act of violence or property damage.

Government documents show that their organization, the RNC “Welcoming Committee,” along with other activist groups, had been investigated–and infiltrated–over at least the past year, with the help of the FBI and FBI-led Minneapolis Joint Terrorist Task Force.

As Indymedia observed: “Based on past abuses of such informants by law enforcement, the National Lawyers Guild is concerned that such police informants have incentives to lie and exaggerate threats of violence, and to also act as provocateurs in raising, and urging support for, acts of violence.”

Despite flimsy or nonexistent evidence, over the Labor Day weekend, several homes and activist meeting centers were raided. Computers, cell-phones, e-mails, political pamphlets and protest plans seized, and dozens of people were arrested.

These first raids occurred before any protests had even been held in the Twin Cities. As Glenn Greenwald observed on Salon.com:

Just review what happened yesterday and today. Homes of college-age protesters were raided by rifle-wielding police forces. Journalists were forcibly detained at gunpoint. Lawyers on the scene to represent the detainees were handcuffed. Computers, laptops, journals, diaries, and political pamphlets were seized from people’s homes. And all of this occurred against U.S. citizens without a single act of violence having taken place, and nothing more than traffic blockage even alleged by authorities to have been planned.

Bruce Nestor of the Minnesota chapter of the National Lawyers Guild noted that “conspiracy to riot was the charge used against the Chicago Eight in 1968 as part of a politically motivated prosecution…These charges are an effort to equate publicly stated plans to blockade traffic and disrupt the RNC as being the same as acts of terrorism. This both trivializes real violence and attempts to place the stated political views of the defendants on trial.”

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

THE RED herring of “terrorism” was used as a cover for rampant violations of activists’ civil liberties–beginning with the “pre-emptive” arrests, raids and harassment prior to the protests.

For example, police in the Twin Cities impounded a bus owned by the family of Delyla and Stan Wilson for “safety violations” after pulling them over on Interstate 94–prior to the large Labor Day march on the Xcel Center, the site of the convention.

Police began tailing the Wilson family–who were leading a demonstration in favor of sustainable gardening, recycling and water conservation–after deciding that their gardening and environmental tools could be used as weapons. Responding to accusations that the police took the Wilsons’ bus to stifle dissent, police Sgt. William Palmer said the family was “free to go to the protests,” but they “just can’t drive this bus to get there.”

Another group of activists from the organization Earth Justice were detained on their way to the protests, and their bus seized by police. And on August 31, police tailed and then detained activists who had been attending the Veterans for Peace (VFP) conference at the Ramada Inn in Bloomington, just outside the Twin Cities.

Law enforcement personnel also surrounded a house where members of Eyewitness–a group that had successfully fought unjust arrests from the Republican convention in New York City in 2004–were staying.

Police escalated their tactics from harassment to outright brutality during largely nonviolent direct action protests on Labor Day.

When protesters tried to block traffic leading into the Xcel Center, the cops attacked protesters with chemicals and projectiles. According to the Coldsnap Legal Collective, “With no provocation, police have indiscriminately used rubber bullets, concussion grenades, and chemical irritants to disperse crowds and incapacitate protesters.”

A Coldsnap spokesperson told reporters that prisoners were denied medical treatment as punishment, including one arrestee with hemophilia, another with asthma and yet another with a broken finger.

According to the Wall Street Journal, police responded to protests with “pepper spray, tear gas, smoke canisters and what they call ‘distraction devices’ that give a loud bang and a flash of light…” A member of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) who witnessed some of the violent police attacks told reporters that police were “treating [U.S.] civilians like you would Iraqis.”

Parts of the city did seem to be occupied by an army. According to the New York Times, as “the protests grew, scores of National Guard troops in riot gear and gas masks fanned out around” the Xcel Center, while “[p]olice helicopters buzzed over St. Paul…Humvees painted in fatigue green ferried water to police officers…and city dump trucks were used to block traffic on some streets.”

The Times reported that Jerah Plucker, a documentary filmmaker, was swept up by police–along with several others–while listening to music in a park along the Mississippi River. “Over the loudspeaker [the police] are saying, ‘You are being arrested.'” Plucker told reporters. “They’re telling us, ‘Sit down, put your hands on your head.”

Many others–both protesters and bystanders–had similar experiences. A 17-year-old youth was arrested trying to get into a concert on Monday on Harriet Island. He was soon released, but not before his photo was broadcast on television identifying him as an “anarchist” bent on “disrupting the convention.”

Dylan Asplen was charged with “felony riot”–and spoke to his mother on the phone from jail. His mother, Annette told reporters that they “arrested him for walking down the street. He said he didn’t do anything. I am so mad, you have no idea…It’s a police state.”

Keith Smith, a teenager from Menomonie, Wis., told reporters he was beaten by police and then released without any medical treatment. Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) reported that, “sitting in his home in Menomonie, he lifted his shirt and displayed what appears to be a boot print on his right shoulder… He also has scrapes on his arms, chest and hip.”

Anita Betancourt, speaking outside the Ramsey County Law Enforcement Center days after Monday’s arrests, told MPR she was waiting for her 19-year old daughter, who had been in the Twin Cities to protest the war and convention because her brother was serving in Iraq.

As MPR reported, Betancourt’s daughter told her mother in a phone call that “the police just shot her and arrested her, and she was just standing there. She told Betancourt that everything–all of a sudden–was just chaos all around her. They started pushing and shooting people, and the gas and pepper spray and all that stuff.”

Attorney Matthew Ludt–who has represented some of arrestees–told MPR that “not only were they trying to keep demonstrators, protesters, people who want to get their message across off the streets…they swept up everybody else, which was bystanders as well as journalists.”

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

REPORTERS APPEAR to have been systematically targeted by law enforcement during the protests. Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman was arrested and physically assaulted September 1 and charged with obstruction of a peace officer, as were DN! producers Sharif Kouddous and Nicole Salazar.

Kouddous and Salazar were reporting on one of the protests against the convention. Goodman was then arrested for the “crime” of asking after her wrongfully arrested colleagues. According to an emergency alert from DN!:

During the demonstration in which the Democracy Now! team was arrested, law enforcement officers used pepper spray, rubber bullets, concussion grenades and excessive force against protesters and journalists. Several demonstrators were arrested during this action, as was a photographer from the Associated Press.

Other independent journalists were also arrested, including Chicago-based freelance reporter Nathan Weber, who was thrown to the ground and received blows to the back of his head. Four journalists from a student newspaper in Kentucky were detained as well. The student-journalists were charged with rioting while covering Monday’s protests. Like Weber and the DN! producers, the Kentucky students showed their media credentials–but were arrested anyway. One was still in jail as of September 3.

The escalating repression and arrests continued for the rest of the week. This included hundreds of riot cops in full gear lining the streets of the permitted Poor People’s March September 2 to try to intimidate the marchers.

On September 3, following a Rage Against the Machine concert at the Target Center, 102 people were arrested for the “crime” of marching through the streets and chanting about “democracy.” According to reports, police fired “two rounds from what appeared to be either a beanbag or a pellet gun” and pepper-sprayed people as they left the concert.

Even before the concert began–at around 7 p.m.–an activist campaigning for presidential candidate Ralph Nader was arrested outside the Target Center. His crime? Informing people about an upcoming Nader campaign rally.

The point of the raids–and the repression since–is clearly to intimidate radicals and progressives. But the issues that led thousands to protest the Republican convention in the Twin Cities–as well as the Democratic National Convention in Denver–aren’t going away. Nor are the growing expectations that something must be done to address these injustices.

If we are to continue organizing and speaking out, we must stand behind all the victims of this police conspiracy to stifle dissent.

***

What you can do

There are numerous efforts to support the victims of police-state tactics used in St. Paul.

Organizers in St. Paul have issued a national call asking activists to protest the jailing of more than 300 people arrested during demonstrations. Call St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman (651-266-8510); the head of Ramsey County Jail, Capt. Ryan O’Neil (651-266-9350 ext. 1); Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher (651-266-9333); and County Chief Judge Gearin (651-266-8266) and demand immediate medical attention, full legal rights and the dismissal of all charges for arrestees.

The Coldsnap Legal Collective is asking for donations to help cover legal costs. You can donate via Pay Pal at the Coldsnap Legal Collective Web site.

A number of publications and groups have united to protest the arrest of journalists covering protests at the convention. Send a letter of protest at the FreePress.net Web site to St. Paul authorities.

The independent radio and television show Democracy Now!–hosted by Amy Goodman, who, along with two producers, Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar, was arrested in St. Paul–has issued its own “Call to action on behalf of DN! journalists.” Contact Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner at rca@co.ramsey.mn.us or 651-266-3222 to demand that her office not press charges against the Democracy Now! journalists.

***

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8 Members of RNC Activist Group Lodged with Terrorism Charges

Why We Were Falsely Arrested By Amy Goodman

RNC – St Paul-Minneapolis MN

US attack inside Pakistan threatens dangerous new war

Dandelion Salad

by Peter Symonds
Global Research, September 5, 2008
wsws.org

A ground assault by US Special Forces troops on a Pakistani village on Wednesday threatens to expand the escalating Afghanistan war into its neighbour. Pakistan is already confronting a virtual civil war in its tribal border regions as the country’s military, under pressure from Washington, seeks to crush Islamist militias supporting the anti-occupation insurgency inside Afghanistan.

The attack, which left up to 20 civilians dead, marks a definite escalation of US operations inside Pakistan. While US Predator drones and war planes have been used previously to bomb targets, Wednesday’s raid was the first clear case of an assault by American ground troops inside Pakistani territory. The White House and Pentagon have refused to comment on the incident but various unnamed US officials have acknowledged to the media that the raid took place and indicated that there could be more to come.

The attack was unprovoked. US troops landed by helicopter in the village of Jalal Khei in South Waziristan at around 3 a.m. and immediately targetted three houses. The engagement lasted for about 30 minutes and left between 15 and 20 people dead, including women and children.

A US official acknowledged to CNN that there may have been women and children in the immediate vicinity but when the mission began “everyone came out firing from the compound”. Even this flimsy justification for a naked act of aggression is probably a lie. “It was very terrible as all of the residents were killed while asleep,” a villager Din Mohammad told the Pakistan-based International News.

The newspaper provided details of the dead and injured: nine family members of Faujan Wazir, including four women, two children and three men; Faiz Mohammad Wazir, his wife and two other family members; and Nazar Jan and his mother. Two other members of Nazar Jan’s family were seriously wounded.

The US and international media have described the Angoor Adda area around the village as “a known stronghold of the Taliban and Al Qaeda” but offered no evidence to support the claim. A villager, Jabbar Wazir, told the International News: “All of those killed were poor farmers and had nothing to do with the Taliban.”

In comments to the International Herald Tribune, a senior Pakistani official branded the raid a “cowboy action” that had failed to capture or kill any senior Al Qaeda or Taliban leader. “If they had gotten anyone big, they would be bragging about it,” he commented.

The attack has provoked outrage in Pakistan. Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement branding the attack as “a gross violation of Pakistan territory” and summoned US ambassador Anne Patterson to provide an explanation. North West Frontier Province (NWFP) governor Owais Ahmed Ghani declared that “the people expect that the armed forces of Pakistan would rise to defend the sovereignty of the country”. He put the number killed at 20.

Pakistani military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas said the raid was “completely counterproductive” and risked provoking an uprising even among those tribesmen who have previously supported the army’s operations in the border areas.

The International News reported: “Angry villagers later blocked the main road between Pakistan and Afghanistan in Angoor Adda by placing the bodies of their slain tribesmen on the road. They chanted slogans against the US and NATO military authorities for crossing the border without any provocation and killing innocent people.”

The US raid has compounded the political crisis inside Pakistan, where the selection of a new president is due to take place tomorrow. The ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has been engaged in a delicate balancing act—continuing to support US demands for a crackdown by the Pakistani military along the border with Afghanistan, while trying to defuse widespread anger and fend off accusations that it is a US puppet.

Reaffirming his support for the Bush administration’s bogus “war on terror”, PPP presidential candidate Asif Ali Zardari declared in a column in yesterday’s Washington Post: “We stand with the United States, Britain, Spain and others who have been attacked.” Zardari went on to promise that he would ensure that Pakistani territory would not be used to launch raids on US and NATO forces inside Afghanistan.

However, as PPP spokesman Farhatullah Babar explained, the US attack was politically compromising. “We have been very clear that any action on this side of the border must be taken by Pakistani forces themselves,” he told the Associated Press. “It is very embarrassing for the government. The people will start blaming the government of Pakistan.”

An expanded war

The decision to launch Wednesday’s attack was undoubtedly taken at the top levels of the White House and Pentagon. As the New York Times reported in articles earlier this year, a high-level debate has been taking place in Washington over the use of US Special Forces inside Pakistan as well as the intensification of existing CIA operations, which include Predator missile strikes.

A meeting in early January involved Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Admiral Mike Mullen and top national security and intelligence officials advisers. According to the New York Times on January 6, options discussed included “loosening restrictions on the CIA to strike selected targets in Pakistan” and operations involving US Special Operations forces, such as the Navy Seals.

The Times reported on January 27 that then Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf rejected proposals put by US Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell and CIA Director Michael Hayden for an expanded American combat presence in Pakistan, either through covert CIA missions or joint operations with Pakistani security forces. While apparently accepting the refusal, the US intensified pressure on Pakistan to bring its border areas under control.

As the anti-occupation insurgency has expanded in Afghanistan, claiming a growing number of US and NATO casualties, Pakistan has become a convenient scapegoat. Washington has repeatedly accused the Pakistani military of failing to suppress Islamist militia and alleged that Pakistani military intelligence is actively supporting anti-US guerrillas inside Afghanistan.

Admiral Mullen has held five meetings since February with his Pakistani counterpart, army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, to press for tougher action. The most recent took place last weekend aboard the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, stationed in the Arabian Sea. In comments to CNN, a US official “declined to say” whether there were any new agreements for US troops to operate inside Pakistani airspace or on the ground to attack Taliban and Al Qaeda.

Whether the Pakistani military quietly approved Wednesday’s attack or not, the Bush administration is making clear that it intends to extend the war into Pakistan. Citing top American officials, the New York Times reported on Wednesday that the raid “could be the opening salvo in a much broader campaign by Special Operations forces against the Taliban and Al Qaeda inside Pakistan, a secret plan that Defence Secretary Robert Gates has been advocating for months within President George W. Bush’s war council”.

This utterly reckless policy, which risks the eruption of a US war against Pakistan, is bipartisan in character. In fact, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has repeatedly declared his support for broadening the “war on terror” through unilateral US attacks on insurgents based inside Pakistan. His candidacy has been strongly backed by sections of the US establishment that have been critical of the Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq for undermining US interests. Far from opposing aggressive US military action, Obama has become the political vehicle for shifting its focus to Afghanistan and Pakistan as the means of advancing US strategic interests in Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent.

The US attack on the village of Jalal Khei is another demonstration that the shift in policy, with all its potentially catastrophic consequences, is already underway.

© Copyright Peter Symonds, wsws.org, 2008

The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=10084

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Turning Away From American State Terrorism By Peter Chamberlin

US invade Pakistan — but no complaints from the ‘international community’ By William Bowles

Pakistan’s refugees on the border of chaos

U.S. Invades Pakistan! (short video) + U.S. Troops Crossed Border

The Invisible Man: The Least Worst isn’t Good Enough Anymore

Dandelion Salad

Nader has to be in one of the debates!  Personally, this issue alone is enough for me not to vote for the Democratic candidate.  ~ Lo

votenader08

2008 Presidential candidate Ralph Nader hosted an Open the Debates rally during the Republican National Convention in Minnesota on September 4, 2008. In this highlight reel you can see excerpts of speeches by Ralph Nader, his VP Candidate Matt Gonzalez, and former Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura talking about open debates and how they impact elections.

This also features a musical performance by 98 Degrees’ Justin Jeffre and Jeff Timmons.

Contribute now to help us try to get Ralph Nader and Matt Gonzalez in the presidential debates:
http://www.votenader.org

Continue reading

Mosaic News – 9/4/08: World News from the Middle East

Dandelion Salad

Warning

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

linktv

Mosaic needs your help! Donate here: http://linktv.org/contribute
“Pakistan People’s Party Vows to Fight Terrorism,” Al Jazeera TV, Qatar
“Sarkozy: Iran Might Provoke Israeli Attack,” Dubai TV, UAE
“Is Syria Serious About Peace?” IBA TV, Israel
“Security in Iraq Improves,” Al Arabiya TV, UAE
“Iraqi Children Forced into Labor,” Alsumaria TV, Iraq
“Rafah Crossing to Open for Few Hours During Ramadan,” Al Aqsa, Gaza
“RNC: The Palin Factor,” Al Jazeera English, Qatar
Produced for Link TV by Jamal Dajani.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Turning Away From American State Terrorism By Peter Chamberlin

Dandelion Salad

By Peter Chamberlin
09/05/08 “ICH”

“The American people realize this election represents a turning point. In two months they will decide the future direction of our nation. It’s a decision to follow one path or another.” Rudy Giuliani

The choice we face in November is very clear. It is a choice to continue to support the US terror war, or to turn away from this path of unlimited destruction. This lie-based war is all about terrorism – whether America actually fights terrorism or promotes its use. To find the answer to this conundrum all we have to do is turn our gaze to Pakistan.

In Pakistan we find the complete history of the American “war on terrorism,” from its Cold War origins nearly thirty years ago to its present incarnation in the illegal American aggression in Pakistan’s Frontier region (FATA, Federally Administered Tribal Areas) and in American attempts to reignite the Cold War with Russia. The latest cross-border attack against Pakistan in South Waziristan, which involved American helicopters and ground troops, costing 15 villagers their lives, represents the first steps in American attempts to escalate its war into a reasonable facsimile of another world war.

Once again, America claims that its aggression against Pakistan is a legitimate act of self-defense against the “Pakistani Taliban” (TTP, Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan), who, it is claimed, are responsible for America’s faltering war effort in Afghanistan. Wednesday’s aggression was another attempt to get TTP leader Baitullah Mehsud (branded “public enemy number one” by the US) or one of his top commanders. Mehsud is the key to understanding America’s true role in the terror war, that of state terrorism planner and facilitator, in order to later assume the role of defender against the terrorism it causes.

Baitullah Mehsud assumed control of the TTP from its founder, his infamous cousin Abdullah Mehsud. Abdullah was a prisoner at Guantanamo before being inexplicably released to return to Pakistan, where he founded the new Taliban splinter group. On his second day in S. Waziristan he instigated the kidnapping of two Chinese engineers from the building of the Gomal Zam Dam, beginning the TTP fight against America’s adversaries in the region.

Setting the pattern for all future American terror attacks, the American media reported that America’s secret allies, the TTP, were “al Qaida linked.” Whenever and wherever the Western media uses the expression “al Qaida linked,” to describe terrorist attacks, they are referring to American terrorism. This is also painfully true about those sinister forces that killed 3,000 American civilians on September 11, 2001. American/“al Qaida” terrorism always targets civilians, even American civilians. Next to the US military, al Qaida is the greatest killer of innocent Muslims in the world.

Now we have American covert forces busily killing Pakistani civilians by the hundreds, in order to justify the planned overwhelming American assault upon Pakistan, which is conveniently situated between the main target Iran and all that juicy fuel located in the “Stans,” the former Soviet satellites where America’s Georgian mercenaries are busily committing acts of genocide to restart the new Cold War.

The American destabilization of nuclear-armed Pakistan has been the key to the planned destruction of Iran and the seizure of the Caspian region oil and gas fields and the pipeline routes for marketing the stolen booty. Targeting American-backed militants, who are using the same terrorist training camps created by the CIA to launch a “jihad” against the Soviets, American interests are seeking to topple the Pakistani government and to seize their nuclear arsenal.

The corporate American government cannot survive the debt-based collapse of its own economy and the world economy without a massive military expansion of its power, gaining control of the world’s energy reserves. America cannot continue bullying the world to have its way without this key asset.

The Republican and Democratic co-conspirators understand the dilemma created by America’s greed and attempts to forge a global empire. This means that no matter who wins the November election will continue this policy of international piracy and terrorism. It is up to the American people to decide whether these policies of state terrorism continue. It is our decision to make, whether we allow America to destroy the world to save itself, or whether we suffer the economic consequences for our actions in the past. By our inaction, or by the wrong action, we allow the evil that our government continually sows. By participating in our farcical “free elections,” casting a vote for either man, we vote to destroy a large portion of the world and its people.

We can no longer give our assent to the crimes against humanity committed against the world by our government on a daily basis. Non-participation in the affairs of this government on any level, will deny it the cover of legitimacy and support it needs to continue on its terror rampage. We must become the “monkey wrench” in the works of government and in American life, in general. We begin by overwhelming the Congress with our righteous anger against governmental plans to unleash hell on earth.

All it will take to do this is a unified signal from the people that we will no longer silently abide its immoral actions. The Congressional parasites who feed at the public trough fear a non-complacent electorate, a united people committed to reclaiming our rightful positions as “watchdogs” of government.

All we have to do to sway a chicken hawk Congress is to convince them that we are now awake. We must focus our antiwar efforts to disrupt the aggression against Pakistan. It is time to join with the democratic antiwar resistance forces in Pakistan, to put an end to the American empire of terror.

Fight the evil that we have become!

peter.chamberlin@yahoo.com

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US invade Pakistan — but no complaints from the ‘international community’ By William Bowles

Pakistan’s refugees on the border of chaos

U.S. Invades Pakistan! (short video) + U.S. Troops Crossed Border

Obama-Biden – Osama bin Laden: A coincidence? + National Pentagon Radio

US invade Pakistan — but no complaints from the ‘international community’ By William Bowles

Georgia

Ralph Nader Posts & Videos

Take A Load Off Fannie: Bailout Or Nationalization For The Mortgage Giants?

Excerpt posted on CurrentTV

by Dr. Ellen Hodgson Brown
featured writer
Dandelion Salad
Ellen’s post
Sept 5, 2008
webofdebt.com

“Take a load off Fanny, take a load for free;
“Take a load off Fanny, and (and) (and)
“You put the load right on me.”

– The Band, “The Weight,” 1968

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac own or guarantee nearly half the $12 trillion U.S. mortgage market. Not long ago, they were the darlings of Wall Street, ranking next to U.S. bonds as among the safest and most conservative investments in the world. They are called “government-sponsored enterprises” (GSEs), although they are entirely privately owned and specifically disclaim government backing on their prospectuses. The market has taken these disclaimers with a wink and a nod and has assumed that the GSEs are “too big to fail,” forcing the government to save them from their reckless investment schemes. Fannie and Freddie’s preferred shares have been considered so safe that banking regulators let banks count them in the capital required as a cushion against loan losses. This is now proving to be a serious problem, because both the common and preferred shares of the distressed duo are suddenly plunging. Between May 15 and August 25, Fannie’s common shares lost 77% of their value, while its preferred shares lost 58.8% in that short time. Freddie Mac’s preferred shares plunged even more, down 65.5%.1 That could be a disaster for many banks, which are loaded to the gills with these preferred shares. Banks already reeling from losses on mortgages and mortgage-backed securities are now being hit at the core, shrinking their capital base. Loss of bank capital works as leverage in reverse: at a capital requirement of 10%, $1 lost in capital wipes out $10 in loans.

Ironically, the recent plunge in Fannie and Freddie shares has been blamed on the bailout plan that was supposed to save them.  In July, Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson sought and was granted the authority to extend an unlimited credit line to the GSEs, which now have liabilities totaling about $5 trillion; and to capitalize them by buying their stock, effectively nationalizing them.  At a July 15 hearing in Washington, Paulson assured a group of Senators that Congress probably would not have to go through with the plan. “If you have a bazooka in your pocket and people know it,” he said, “you probably won’t have to use it.”  But bazookas can spook the very people they were supposed to reassure.  After the plan was approved, foreign central banks slashed their Fannie and Freddie bond purchases by more than 25%, and shareholders rushed to dump their stock.  On August 22, Moody’s downgraded Fannie and Freddie’s outstanding preferred stock by a full five notches, from A1 to Baa3 (or slightly above “junk”), and their Bank Financial Strength Ratings from B- to D+ (a one-half notch above D, something reserved for companies in default).  Since the private sector isn’t buying, the Treasury is likely to wind up capitalizing the companies by buying new stock itself, seriously diluting the value of existing shares.  A government bailout would be expected to wipe out the common shares, but it is becoming increasingly clear that the preferred stock is in jeopardy as well, jeopardizing the banks that hold it.

There are other aspects of Paulson’s bailout plan that could be giving policymakers Maalox moments.  As noted in a July 17 Economist article:

“[N]ationalisation . . . would bring the whole of Fannie’s and Freddie’s debt onto the federal government’s balance sheet. In terms of book-keeping this would almost double the public debt, but that is rather misleading. It would hardly be like issuing $5.2 trillion of new Treasury bonds, because Fannie’s and Freddie’s debt is backed by real assets. Nevertheless, the fear [is] that the taxpayer may have to absorb the GSEs’ debt . . . . That suggests yet another irony; the debt of the GSEs has been trading as if it were guaranteed by the American government, but the debt of the government was not trading as if Uncle Sam had guaranteed that of the GSEs.”2

The U.S. federal debt is already up to nearly $10 trillion, putting its own triple-A credit rating in jeopardy. If the U.S. assumes the GSEs’ weighty liability as well, the country could lose its own triple-A rating, causing foreign lenders to withdraw their massive infusion of funds.3 But if the U.S. does not back the GSEs’ debt, the result could be the same. China’s $376 billion of long-term U.S. agency debt is mostly in Fannie and Freddie assets. Yu Yonding, a former adviser to China’s central bank, warned on August 21:

“If the U.S. government allows Fannie and Freddie to fail and international investors are not compensated adequately, the consequences will be catastrophic.  If it is not the end of the world, it is the end of the current international financial system.”4

The Endgame Nears

It sounds pretty grim, but let’s think about that.  Would the end of the current financial system really be so bad?  The international financial system is now controlled by a network of private central banks that print national currencies and trade them with sovereign governments for government bonds (or debt).  The bonds then become the basis for creating many times their value in loans by commercial banks.  At a 10% reserve requirement, banks are allowed to fan $1 worth of reserves into $10 in loans, effectively delivering the power to create money into private hands.  The price exacted by this private money-creating machine is compound interest perpetually drawn off the top, in a Ponzi scheme that has now reached its mathematical limits.  The chief role of Fannie and Freddie has been to keep the Ponzi scheme alive by adding “liquidity” to markets, something they do by buying mortgages and bundling them together as securities that are then sold to investors.  Old loans are moved off the banks’ books, making room for new loans, further expanding the money supply and driving up home prices.  As economist Michael Hudson noted in Counterpunch in July:

“Altruistic political talk aside, the reason why the finance, insurance and real estate (FIRE) sectors have lobbied so hard for Fannie and Freddie is that their financial function has been to make housing increasingly unaffordable. They have inflated asset prices with credit that has indebted homeowners to a degree unprecedented in history. This is why the real estate bubble has burst, after all. Yet Congress now acts as if the only way to resolve the debt problem is to create yet more debt, to inflate real estate prices all the more by arranging yet more credit to bid up the prices that homebuyers must pay.

“. . . The economy has reached its debt limit and is entering its insolvency phase.  We are not in a cycle but the end of an era. The old world of debt pyramiding to a fraudulent degree cannot be restored . . . . The class war is back in business, with a vengeance. Instead of it being the familiar old class war between industrial employers and their work force, this one reverts to the old pre-industrial class war of creditors versus debtors. Its guiding principle is ‘Big Fish Eat Little Fish,’ mainly by the debt dynamic that crowds out the promised economy of free choice.

“. . . No economy in history ever has been able to pay off its debts. That is the essence of the ‘magic of compound interest.’  Debts grow inexorably, making creditors rich but impoverishing the economy in the process, thereby destroying its ability to pay. Recognizing this financial dynamic most societies have chosen the logical response. From Sumer in the third millennium BC and Babylonia in the second millennium through Greece and Rome in the first millennium BC, and then from feudal Europe to the Inter-Ally war debts and reparations tangle that wrecked international finance after World War I, the response has been to bring debts back within the ability to pay.

“This can be done only by wiping out debts that cannot be paid. The alternative is debt peonage. Throughout most of history, countries have found again and again that bankruptcy – wiping out the debts – is the way to free economies. The idea is to free them from a situation where the economic surplus is diverted away from new tangible investment to pay bankers. The classical idea of free markets is to avoid privatizing monopolies, such as the unique privilege of commercial bankers to create bank-credit and charge interest on it.”5

Bailout or Conservatorship?

Under current law, if the GSEs’ capital falls too far below required levels, the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (their regulator) is authorized to take control of the firms and impose a conservatorship, a form of bankruptcy.  As former Federal Reserve consultant Walker F. Todd explained in a July 23 article:

“Traditionally, conservatorship freezes existing bank accounts and then allows limited withdrawals until authorities determine how much of those frozen accounts may be distributed pro rata to the claimants. After the appointment of a conservator, new deposits and other funds received as well as new investments would be fully protected.”6

Prior claimants satisfy their claims against available assets according to seniority, with lenders being senior to shareholders. The proceeds from any new business are kept separate. Fannie and Freddie investors would take some losses, but the available pot for settling claims is quite large. As Hudson observes:

“[N]ot all the mortgages that these two agencies have bought or guaranteed are junk.  Most are genuine and are being paid. . . . Let these mortgages continue to back the existing FNMA and Freddie Mac bonds to the degree that they actually receive mortgage debt service.  If there is a shortfall, let the bondholders take the usual haircut that is supposed to go hand in hand with risk. . . . That is the law for all other bondholders when their investments go south.  Why make an exception for participants in the real estate bubble? . . . To keep their activities current, let Fannie and Freddie issue a new series of bonds – the ‘we won’t fake it anymore’ series.”

Nouriel Roubini is Professor of Economics at New York University and has a popular website called Global EconoMonitor.  He estimates that the haircut for securities holders would be a modest 5% ($250 billion on $5 trillion).  Securities holders are getting a subsidy of $50 billion a year over what they would earn if they had invested in U.S. Treasuries, specifically because Fannie and Freddie carry more risk; and risk means the occasional haircut.  Roubini concludes:

“It is . . . time to put a stop to the coming ‘mother of all bailouts’ starting with a firm stop to the fiscal rescue of Fannie and Freddie, institutions that have behaved for the last few years like the ‘mother of all leveraged hedge funds’ with their reckless leverage and reckless financial activities.

“. . . [L]et’s call a spade a bloody shovel: nationalise Freddie Mac and Fannie May. They should never have been privatised in the first place. . . . Increase taxes or cut other public spending to finance the exercise. But stop pretending. Stop lying about the financial viability of institutions designed to hand out subsidies to favoured constituencies.”7

Nationalization Without Taxation: Successful Historical Models

Roubini suggests that nationalizing Fannie and Freddie would require an increase in taxes or cuts in other public spending, but there are other possible funding solutions, ones with quite successful historical precedents.  If the multiple layers of profiteers, speculators, derivatives, commissions, bonuses, fees and general fraud were eliminated from the mix, a nationalized Fannie/Freddie could finance itself.  This was proven in the 1930s with the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation (HOLC), a government-owned agency set up to reverse a disastrous wave of home foreclosures.  The HOLC was funded by the Reconstruction Finance Corporation (RFC), another wholly government-owned agency that performed the functions of a public bank.  The RFC successfully funded not only the New Deal but America’s participation in World War II.  In a February 2008 article in The New York Times, Alan Binder recommended a return to the HOLC model as a way out of the current mortgage crisis.  He wrote:

“The HOLC was established in June 1933 to help distressed families avert foreclosures by replacing mortgages that were in or near default with new ones that homeowners could afford. It did so by buying old mortgages from banks . . . and then issuing new loans to homeowners. The HOLC financed itself by borrowing from capital markets and the Treasury.

“The scale of the operation was impressive.  Within two years, the HOLC granted over a million new mortgages. (Adjusting only for population growth, the corresponding mortgage figure today would be almost 2.5 million.) Nearly one of every five mortgages in America became owned by the HOLC. Its total lending amounted to $3.5 billion. . . . (The corresponding figure today would be about $750 billion.)

“As a public corporation chartered for a public purpose, the HOLC was a patient and even lenient lender. . . . But times were tough in the 1930s, and nearly 20 percent of the HOLC’s borrowers defaulted anyway.  So the corporation eventually acquired ownership of about 200,000 houses, nearly all of which were sold by 1944. The HOLC closed its books in 1951, or 15 years after its last 1936 mortgage was paid off, with a small profit. It was a heavy lift, but the incredible HOLC lifted it.

“Today’s lift would be far lighter. . . . Given current low interest rates, a new HOLC could borrow cheaply and should find it easy to earn a two-percentage-point spread between borrowing and lending rates, for a gross profit of maybe $4 billion to $8 billion a year.”8

The RFC initially capitalized the HOLC by buying all of its stock for $200 million.  The HOLC was then authorized by statute to issue ten times that sum (or $2 billion) in tax exempt bonds.  In the same way, in 1937-38 the RFC created and funded Fannie Mae as a wholly government-owned agency, for the purpose of injecting money into the banking system so that banks could increase the volume of home mortgages.  The RFC and its agencies funded their operations by selling bonds at a modest interest to the Treasury and the public, then relending the acquired funds at a slightly higher interest.  The “spread” was sufficient to cover operating costs and losses from default and still turn a modest profit.

How did the HOLC manage to reverse a far worse foreclosure crisis than we have today and still turn a profit, when Fannie and Freddie – which also raise their loan money by selling securities to investors – have become hopelessly bankrupt in that pursuit?  The difference seems to be that the HOLC was a public institution operated as a public service.  Fannie and Freddie are private, profit-making ventures designed to make money for their investors and political exploiters.  As Professor Roubini observes, “These GSEs were designed to make losses. They are expected to make losses. If they don’t make losses they are not serving their political purpose.”  When the profiteering is taken out and the business is run as a public service, the math works.

There is another American model that is even older than the HOLC, which presents even more exciting possibilities.  In the first half of the 18th century, the province of Pennsylvania completely funded its government without taxes or debt, through a publicly-owned bank that issued paper currency and lent it to farmers.  The bank did not have to borrow capital before it made loans; it just created the currency on a printing press.  The money was lent rather than spent into the economy, so it came back to the government in a circular flow, avoiding inflation; and interest on the loans was sufficient to fund the government’s operations without taxation.  Such a public bank today could solve not only the housing crisis but a number of other pressing problems, including the infrastructure crisis and the energy crisis.  (See E. Brown, “Sustainable Energy Development: How Costs Can Be Cut in Half,” webofdebt.com/articles, November 5, 2007).

Once bankrupt businesses have been restored to solvency, the usual practice is to return them to private hands; but a better plan for Fannie and Freddie might be to simply keep them as public institutions.  In the August 8 London Tribune, British MP Michael Meacher proposed this alternative for Northern Rock, a major British bank that was recently nationalized after becoming insolvent.  He wrote:

“[W]hen the banks have failed the public interest so badly and still even now continue to pursue so single-mindedly their commitment to privatise their gains whilst socialising their losses, would not a publicly owned bank be the most effective way of changing the current corrosive financial culture of short-termism, lower investment, house price inflation, and insider enrichment at the expense of systemic fragility for everyone else? Perhaps we should not return Northern Rock to the private sector after all.”9

Perhaps we should not return Fannie and Freddie either.

Ellen Brown, J.D., developed her research skills as an attorney practicing civil litigation in Los Angeles.  In Web of Debt, the latest of eleven books, she turns those skills to an analysis of the Federal Reserve and “the money trust.”  She shows how this private cartel has usurped the power to create money from the people themselves and how we the people can get it back.  Her websites are www.webofdebt.com and www.ellenbrown.com.

© Copyright Ellen Hodgson Brown, webofdebt.com, 2008

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Government to Wipe Out Fannie/Freddie Shareholders by Sunday

The Economy Sucks and or Collapse

NY Times confirms US involvement in Nuclear Black Market

by Luke Ryland
featured writer
Dandelion Salad
Luke’s blog post
Let Sibel Edmonds Speak
Sept 5, 2008

In last Monday’s New York Times, David Sanger and William Broad wrote a front-page article about the CIA’s involvement in the nuclear black market.

The article demonstrates (again) that the New York Times, Sanger & Broad in particular, has simply become a mouthpiece for the government (see my previous articles 1, 2, 3) but they did let one fact slip through to the readership. I can only presume that the slip was accidental, because they don’t appear to have understood the ramifications of what they reported: Continue reading

U.S. POWs during the Korean War by Li Onesto

Dandelion Salad

by Li Onesto
Global Research, September 3, 2008

A July 2, 2008 New York Times article, “China Inspired Interrogations at Guantánamo,” reported that in 2002 military trainers at Guantánamo Bay based an interrogation class on a chart about torture techniques including “sleep deprivation,” “prolonged constraint,” and “exposure.” The article says this chart was copied from a 1957 Air Force study of Chinese Communist techniques used during the Korean War to obtain confessions from American prisoners and is “the latest and most vivid evidence of the way Communist interrogation methods that the United States long described as torture became the basis for interrogations both by the military at the base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and by the Central Intelligence Agency.”

Continue reading

Text Of Original McCain Speech Revealed by R J Shulman

Satire

Robert

by R J Shulman
Dandelion Salad
featured writer
Robert’s blog post
The Post Times Sun Dispatch
Sept 5, 2008

ST. PAUL, Minnesota – (PTSD News) The Post Times Sun Dispatch has obtained a copy of the original speech that John McCain was prepared to give at the Republican National Convention last night. However, a call from an unnamed Republican leader who telephoned from a bunker in Wyoming persuaded McCain to give the substitute speech that he ultimately gave to the partisan crowd.

The Post Times Sun Dispatch was able to retrieve the last known copy of McCain’s original speech from an unnamed reliable source. Here are some of the highlights:

My friends, my friends, my friends, my friends, my friends, my goddamned friends – there – I got that out of the way. I say “my friends” because if I didn’t, I would think you were all my frickin’ enemies and I would have to fight you, which is the theme of my speech. Fight, fight, fight. I want you to fight with me.

And I should know about fighting. There is a little known fact that I never like to talk about, but I was a prisoner of war in Viet Nam. So I won’t mention that I was a POW. And as a POW, which I won’t bring up, that gives me the experience and temperament to be a leader. And in order to give Americans the chance to grow up to be leaders, I will make all of you prisoners of war – prisoners of my wars. First we’ll fight in Iraq for a hundred years. Then we will go to war against Iran and Syria, and North Korea and North Dakota if they don’t vote for me.

Now some have criticized me for being too old. Hell, its not me that’s too old, it’s Cindy. So that is why I chose Sarah Palin. She is just the right partner to help lead the charge in this fight. Did I mention that I wasn’t going to say I was a POW?

We Republicans believe in family values like marriage before sex, unless it’s the Vice President’s family and we Republicans believe in judges who don’t legislate from the bench, unless its to put George W. Bush in office and we Republicans don’t believe in corrupt politicians getting away with it, unless it’s me and the other Keating five and we Republicans believe in… I forget, so I’ll just wave the flag and say fight, fight, fight.

Now about partisanship and change. I don’t believe in partisanship, but I believe in change. So if I am elected President I will outlaw the other party so there will be no party bickering. How is that for a change? Did I mention I was a POW?

You can get a copy of the whole text of this original speech by visiting http://www.cheneypleaseshootmeintheface.com.

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GOP Announces Campaign Strategy: No Platform, Just Attack Obama

John McCain Speaking at the RNC

The Daily Show: Sarah Palin Gender Card

Palin, a bold move or reckless choice? + Palin blackens Russia’s name

RNC – St Paul-Minneapolis MN

Ralph Nader vs. McCain-Palin/Obama-Biden MEDIA BLACKOUT

Dandelion Salad

Nader has to be in one of the debates!  Personally, this issue alone is enough for me not to vote for the Democratic candidate.  ~ Lo

SurfCitySolar

Ralph Nader interviewed during the Republican National Convention. We do not have a democracy when political parties are censored in the media. It is essentially a 2 party system and that’s unconstitutional.

Continue reading

Obama-Biden – Osama bin Laden: A coincidence? + National Pentagon Radio

Dandelion Salad

by William Blum
www.killinghope.org
Sept. 5, 2008

The Anti-Empire Report

Read this or George W. Bush will be president the rest of your life

Obama-Biden — Osama bin Laden: A coincidence? I think not.

I’m sorry to say that I think that John McCain is going to be the next president of the United States. After the long night of Bush horror any Democrat should easily win, but the Dems are screwing it up and McCain has been running more-or-less even with Barack Obama in the polls. The Democrats should run on the slogan “If you liked Bush, you’ll love McCain”, but that would be too outspoken, too direct for the spineless Nancy Pelosi and her spineless party. Or, “If you liked Iraq, you’ll love Iran.” But the Democrat leadership is not on record as categorically opposing either conflict.

Nor, it seems, do the Democrats have the courage to raise the issue of McCain not having been born in the United States as the Constitution requires. Nor questioning him about accusations by his fellow American prisoners about his considerable collaboration with his Vietnamese captors. Nor a word about McCain’s highly possible role in the brutal Georgian invasion of South Ossetia on August 7. (More on this last below.)

Obama has lost much of the sizable liberal/progressive vote because of his move to the center-right (or his exposure as a center-rightist), and he now may have lost even his selling point of being more strongly against the war than McCain — if in fact he actually is — by appointing Joe Biden as his running mate. Biden has long been a hawk on Iraq (as well as the rest of US foreign policy), calling for an invasion as far back as 1998.[1]   In April, 2007, when pressed in an interview about his vote for the war in 2003, Biden said: “It was a mistake. I regret my vote. … because I learned more, like everybody else learned, about what, in fact, we were told.”[2]   This has been a common excuse of war supporters in recent years when the tide of public opinion turned against them. But why did millions and millions of Americans march against the war in the fall of 2002 and early 2003, before it began? What did they know that Joe Biden didn’t know? It was clear to the protesters that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney were habitual liars, that they couldn’t care less about the people of Iraq, that the defenseless people of that ancient civilization were going to be bombed to hell; the protesters knew something about the bombings of Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Panama, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan; they knew about napalm, cluster bombs, depleted uranium. … Didn’t Biden know about any of these things? Those who marched knew that the impending war was something a moral person could not support; and that it was totally illegal, a textbook case of a “war of aggression”; one didn’t have to be an expert in international law to know this. Did Joe Biden think about any of this?

If McCain had a role in the Georgian invasion of breakaway-region Ossetia it would have been arranged with the help of Randy Scheunemann, McCain’s top foreign policy adviser and until recently Georgia’s principal lobbyist in Washington. As head of the neo-conservative Committee for the Liberation of Iraq in 2002, Scheunemann was one of America’s leading advocates for invading Iraq. One of McCain’s primary campaign sales pitches has been to emphasize his supposed superior experience in foreign policy matters, which — again supposedly — means something in this world. McCain consistently leads Obama in the opinion polls on “readiness to be commander-in-chief”, or similar nonsense. The Georgia-Russia hostilities raise — in the mass media and the mass mind — the issue of the United States needing an experienced foreign policy person to handle such a “crisis”, and, standard in every crisis — an enemy bad guy.

Typical of the media was the Chicago Tribune praising McCain for his statesmanlike views on Iraq and stating: “What Russia’s invasion of Georgia showed was that the world is still a very dangerous place,” and Russia is a “looming threat”. In addition to using the expression “Russia’s invasion of Georgia”, the Tribune article also referred to “Russia’s invasion of South Ossetia”. No mention of Georgia’s invasion of South Ossetia which began the warfare.[3]   In a feature story in the Washington Post on the Georgia events the second sentence was: “The war had started, Russian jets had just bombed the outskirts of Tbilisi [Georgian capital].” The article then speaks of “the horror” of “the Russian invasion”. Not the slightest hint of any Georgian military action can be found in the story.[4]    One of course can find a media report here or there that mentions or at least implies in passing that an invasion from Georgia is what instigated the mayhem. But I’ve yet to come upon one report in the American mass media that actually emphasizes this point, and certainly none that put it in the headline. The result is that if a poll were taken amongst Americans today, I’m sure the majority of those who have any opinion would be convinced that the nasty Russians began it all.[5]

What we have here in the American media is simply standard operating procedure for an ODE (Officially Designated Enemy). Almost as soon as the fighting began, Dick Cheney announced: “Russian aggression must not go unanswered.”[6] The media needed no further instructions. Yes, that’s actually the way it works. (See Cuba, Zimbabwe, Venezuela, Iran, Bolivia, etc., etc.)

The president of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili, is an American poodle to an extent that would embarrass Tony Blair. Until their 2,000 troops were called home for this emergency, the Georgian contingent in Iraq was the largest after the US and UK. The Georgian president prattles on about freedom and democracy and the Cold War like George W., declaring that the current conflict “is not about Georgia anymore. It is about America, its values,”.[7]  (I must confess that until Saakashvili pointed it out I hadn’t realized that “American values” were involved in the fighting.) His government recently ran a full-page ad in the Washington Post. The entire text, written vertically, was: “Lenin … Stalin … Putin … Give in? Enough is enough. Support Georgia. … sosgeorgia.org”[8]

UK prime minister Gordon Brown asserted that Russia’s recognition of the independence of Georgia’s two breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia was “dangerous and unacceptable.”[9]   Earlier this year when Kosovo unilaterally declared its independence from Serbia, the UK, along with the US and other allied countries quickly recognized it despite widespread warnings that legitimating the Kosovo action might lead to a number of other regions in the world declaring their independence.

Brown’s hypocrisy appears as merely the routine stuff of politicians compared to that of John McCain and George W. re the Georgia fighting: “I’m interested in good relations between the United States and Russia, but in the 21st century, nations don’t invade other nations,” said McCain [10], the staunch supporter of US invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan and leading champion of an invasion of Iran.

And here is Mahatma Gandhi Bush meditating on the subject: “Bullying and intimidation are not acceptable ways to conduct foreign policy in the 21st century.”[11]

Hypocrisy of this magnitude has to be respected. It compares favorably with the motto on automobile license plates of the state of New Hampshire made by prisoners: “Live Free or Die”.

Our beloved president was also moved to affirm that the Russian recognition of the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia: was an “irresponsible decision”. “Russia’s action only exacerbates tensions and complicates diplomatic negotiations,” he said.{12]   Belgrade, are you listening?

It should be noted that linguistically and historically- distinct South Ossetia and Abkhazia had been autonomous Russian/Soviet protectorates or regions from early in the 19th century to 1991, when the Georgian government abolished their autonomy.

So what then was the purpose of the Georgian invasion of Ossetia if not to serve the electoral campaign of John McCain, a man who might be the next US president and be thus very obligated to the Georgian president? Saakashvili could have wanted to overthrow the Ossetian government to incorporate it back into Georgia, at the same time hopefully advancing the cause of Georgia’s petition to become a member of NATO, which looks askance upon new members with territories in dispute or with military facilities belonging to a nonmember state such as Russia. But the nature of the Georgian invasion does not fit this thesis. The Georgians did none of the things that those staging a coup have traditionally found indispensable. They did not take over a TV or radio station, or the airport, or important government buildings, or military or police installations. They didn’t take into custody key members of the government. All the US/Israeli-armed and trained Georgia military did was bomb and kill, civilians and Russian peacekeeper soldiers, the latter legally there for 16 years under an international agreement. For what purpose all this if not to incite a Russian intervention?

The only reason the United States did not itself strongly attack the Russian forces is that it’s a pre-eminent principle of American military interventions to not pick on anyone capable of really defending themselves.

Unreconstructed cold warriors now fret about Russian expansionism, warning that Ukraine might be next. But of the numerous myths surrounding the Cold War, “communist expansionism” was certainly one of the biggest. We have to remember that within the space of 25 years, Western powers invaded Russia three times — World War I, the “intervention” of 1918-20, and World War II, inflicting some 40 million casualties in the two world wars alone. (The Soviet Union lost considerably more people to international warfare on its own land than it did abroad. There are not too many great powers who can say that.) To carry out these invasions, the West used Eastern Europe as a highway. Should it be any cause for wonder that after World War II the Soviets were determined to close down this highway? Minus the Cold War atmosphere and indoctrination, most people would have no problem in seeing the Soviet takeover of Eastern Europe as an act of self defense. Neither does the case of Afghanistan support the idea of “expansionism”. Afghanistan lived alongside the Soviet Union for more than 60 years with no Soviet military intrusion. It’s only when the United States intervened in Afghanistan to replace a government friendly to Moscow with one militantly anti-communist that the Russians invaded to do battle with the US-supported Islamic jihadists.

During the Cold War, before undertaking a new military intervention, American officials usually had to consider how the Soviet Union would react. That restraint was removed with the dissolution of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s. We may now, however, be witnessing the beginning of a new kind of polarization in the world. An increasing number of countries in the Third World — with Latin America as a prime example — have more fraternal relations with Moscow and/or Beijing than with Washington. Singapore’s former UN ambassador observed: “Most of the world is bemused by western moralising on Georgia” … While the western view is that the world “should support the underdog, Georgia, against Russia … most support Russia against the bullying west. The gap between the western narrative and the rest of the world could not be clearer.”[13]  And the Washington Post reported: “Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi’s influential son, echoed the delight expressed in much of the Arab news media. ‘What happened in Georgia is a good sign, one that means America is no longer the sole world power setting the rules of the game … there is a balance in the world now. Russia is resurging, which is good for us, for the entire Middle East’.”[14]

Scheming at the convention?

Am I the only one to be a bit suspicious about what happened at the Democratic Convention on August 27? Why did Hillary Clinton call for a suspension of the roll call when it reached New York and ask that Barack Obama be selected by the convention by acclamation? Many delegates had worked very hard to get the vote out at their primaries and wanted the opportunity to publicly announce the delegate count. What harm would there have been to allow every state to vote?

And why, after Clinton’s motion, did House Speaker Nancy Pelosi immediately cry: “All those in favor, say Aye”, followed by a large roar, and she then cried: “All those opposed say Nay.” It is impossible to say how strong the Nay vote was because the time elapse between Pelosi calling for it and her declaring that “The measure is approved” was no more than one or two nanoseconds. She literally did not allow a Nay vote to be heard.

I also can not find a record of the vote that took place before it reached New York.

Does anyone else find anything strange about all this?

All consciences are equal, except that some consciences are more equal than others

The Bush administration has proposed stronger job protections for doctors and other health care workers who refuse to participate in abortions because of religious or moral objections. Both supporters and critics say that the new regulations are broad enough to allow pharmacists, doctors, nurses and others to refuse to provide birth control pills, Plan B emergency contraception, and other forms of contraception, while explicitly allowing employees to withhold information about such services and refuse to refer patients elsewhere. “People should not be forced to say or do things they believe are morally wrong,” Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt said. “Health-care workers should not be forced to provide services that violate their own conscience.”[15]

It’s difficult to argue against such a philosophy. It’s also difficult to be consistent about it. Do Leavitt and others in the Bush administration extend this concept to those in the military? If a soldier in Iraq or Afghanistan is deeply repulsed by his/her involvement in carrying out the daily horror of the American occupation and asks to be discharged from the military as a conscientious objector, will the Pentagon honor his request because “people should not be forced to do things they believe are morally wrong”? The fact that the soldier voluntarily enlisted has no bearing on the question. A person’s conscience develops from life experiences and continual reflection. Who’s to say at what precise point in time a person’s conscience must rebel against committing war crimes for the objection to be considered legally or morally valid? Signing a contract is no reason to be forced to kill people.

Can a health-care worker strongly opposed to America’s brutal wars refuse to care for a wounded soldier who has been directly involved in the brutality? Can a civilian doctor, pharmacist, or psychologist in the US refuse to treat a soldier on the grounds that if they help to restore his health he’ll be sent back to the war front to continue his killing?

Can peace activists be allowed to withhold the portion of their income taxes that supports the military? They’ve been trying to do this for decades without any government support.

National Pentagon Radio

WAMU, the Washington, DC National Public Radio (NPR) station asked its listeners to write them and tell them what they used the station as a source for. Some of those who replied were invited in for a recorded interview, and a tape of part of the interview was played on the air. I sent them the following email:

June 13, 2008
To mysource@wamu.org
Dear People,
I use WAMU to listen to All Things Considered. I use All Things Considered to get the Pentagon point of view on US foreign policy. It’s great hearing retired generals explain why the US has just bombed or invaded another country. I’m not bothered by any naive anti-war protesters. I get the official truth right from the horse’s mouth. Is this a great country, or what? I hope you’re lining up some more great retired generals to tell me why we had to bomb Iran and kill thousands more people. Just make sure you don’t make me listen to anyone on the left.
Sincerely,
William Blum, who should be on Diane Rehm, but never will be asked
[followed by some information about my books]

I had no expectation of any kind of positive reply. I figured that if my letter didn’t do it, then surely the titles of my books would reveal that I’m not actually a lover of the American military or their wars. But I don’t really want to believe the worst about the mainstream media. That’s too discouraging. So it was a pleasant surprise when someone at the station invited me to come in for an interview. It lasted more than half an hour and went very well. I expressed many of my misgivings about NPR’s coverage of US foreign policy in no uncertain terms. The interviewer said he was very pleased. He expected this was going to be an interesting piece for the station to broadcast. But as it turned out, that was the end of the matter. I never heard from the station again, and my interview was never broadcast.

About two months later I sent an email to the interviewer asking if the interview would be aired. I could verify that he received it, but I got no reply. I think the interviewer had been sincere, which is why I’m not mentioning his name. Someone above him must have listened to the tape, remembered where “public” radio’s real loyalty lay (to its primary funder, Congress), and vetoed the whole thing. My (lack of) faith in American mass media has not been challenged. And those who work in the mass media will continue to believe in what they practice, something they call “objectivity”, while I will continue to believe that objectivity is no substitute for honesty.

The audience contributes its share to the syndrome. Consumers of news, if fed American-exceptionalism junk food long enough come to feel at home with it, equate it with objectivity, and equate objectivity with getting a full and balanced picture, or the “truth”; it appears neutral and unbiased, like the living room sofa they’re sitting on as they watch NBC or CNN. They view the “alternative media”, with a style rather different from what they’re accustomed to, as not being objective enough, therefore suspect.

The president of NPR, incidentally, is a gentleman named Kevin Klose. Previously he helped coordinate all US-funded international broadcasting: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (Central Europe and the Soviet Union), Voice of America, Radio Free Asia, Radio/TV Marti (Cuba), Worldnet Television (Africa and elsewhere); all created specifically to disseminate world news to a target audience through the prism of US foreign policy beliefs and goals. He also served as president of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Would it be unfair to say that Americans then became his newest target audience? All unconscious of course; that’s what makes the mass media so effective; they really believe in their own objectivity. Not to mention the conscious propaganda.

NOTES

[1] See Stephen Zunes, “Biden, Iraq, and Obama’s Betrayal”, Foreign Policy in Focus, August 24, 2008, www.fpif.org/fpiftxt/5492
[2] “Meet the press”, April 29, 2007, www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18381961/

[3] Chicago Tribune, August 28, 2008

[4] Washington Post, August 31, 2008, p.B1

[5] For further discussion of the Georgia issue, see Robert Scheer, “Georgia War a Neocon Election Ploy?”, The Huffington Post, August 14, 2008; Pat Buchanan, Creators Syndicate column of August 22, 2008; Robert Dreyfuss, The Nation blogs, August 21, 2008

[6] Reuters, August 10, 2008

[7] Washington Post, August 9, 2008. p.1

[8] Washington Post, August 28, 2008, repeated September 1.

[9] The Guardian (London), September 1, 2008

[10] See and hear these actual words actually coming out of the actual mouth of the man —

[11] National Public Radio (NPR), August 15, 2008

[12] Associated Press, August 27, 2008

[13] The Guardian (London), August 28, 2008, column by Seumas Milne, quoting from ambassador Kishore Mahbubani’s interview in the Financial Times (London) of August 21

[14] Washington Post, August 30, 2008, p.18

[15] Associated Press, August 21, 2008, Washington Post, August 22, 2008
***

William Blum is the author of:
Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War 2
Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower
West-Bloc Dissident: A Cold War Memoir
Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire

Portions of the books can be read, and signed copies purchased, at www.killinghope.org

Previous Anti-Empire Reports can be read at this website at “essays”.

Any part of this report may be disseminated without permission. I’d appreciate it if the website were mentioned. www.killinghope.org

***

Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II

by William Blum

William Blum book

see

Blum-William

US invade Pakistan — but no complaints from the ‘international community’ By William Bowles

The Hidden War (History of South Ossetia & Abkhazia)

The Bush Administration Falters in a Geopolitical Chess Match

Russia takes a stand

The 2008 Crisis in the Caucasus: A Unified Timeline, August 7-16

Putin accuses US of staging Georgia conflict (Gareth Porter)

Eric Margolis: The US Created a Crisis in Georgia

Anti-war marchers try, try again; 300 arrested on Marion St. bridge

Dandelion Salad


Protestors on the bridge

Originally uploaded by The UpTake

Pioneer Press
TwinCities.com
Article Last Updated: 09/05/2008 03:01:09 AM CDT

St. Paul’s wild week of world-class protests ended Thursday with a flurry of demonstrations, mass arrests and traffic-stopping events.

But as the final protests of the week wound down Thursday night, St. Paul Police Chief John Harrington sighed with relief.

“I’m glad this is almost over,” he said during a mass arrest of about 300 people on the Marion Street bridge over Interstate 94.

[…]

The arrest tally for the week topped 500, not including the Marion Street protesters. Some of those arrested Thursday had guns or other weapons, Harrington said.

The day’s events began with police closing the High Bridge at 9:45 a.m. because of the high volume of traffic, police said.

Early in the afternoon, about 150 students from Youth Against the War and Racism marched to the Peace Island Picnic at Harriet Island.

[…]

The day’s largest protest began at 4 p.m. with several hundred people at the State Capitol.

As the last speaker wrapped up her speech about 4:50 p.m., a police officer announced over the loudspeaker: “Your permit will expire at 5 p.m. At that point, you don’t have a right to march.”

Some protesters sat down in the street, chanting “Whose war? Their war! Whose streets? Our streets!” Some drew slogans in chalk on the street: “Arrest Cheney,” and “Another world is possible.”

[…]

Anti-war marchers try, try again; 300 arrested on Marion St. bridge – TwinCities.com.

see

The Daily Show: Sarah Palin Gender Card

Palin, a bold move or reckless choice? + Palin blackens Russia’s name

8 Members of RNC Activist Group Lodged with Terrorism Charges

Why We Were Falsely Arrested By Amy Goodman

Scott Ritter on RNC, Biden and Possibility of Attack on Iran

RNC Dispatch #5 + Tom Morello on False Flag Terrorism + Unmarked police snatch protesters

Dem Now: Ron Paul Counter-Convention + Goodman Grills Police Chief

RNC 8 Charged with “Conspiracy to Riot in Furtherance of Terrorism”

Twin Cities Violence: Just What The RNC Ordered

Freefall Acceleration of WTC7 (Revised)

Dandelion Salad

ae911truth

Contrary to the August 2008 NIST report on WTC7, the acceleration of Building 7 is measured and is found to be indistinguishable from the acceleration of gravity over a period of about 2.5 seconds of fall.
——–
Go to www.AE911truth.org and sign the petition for a REAL investigation at AE911Truth.org

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Freefall Acceleration of WTC7 (Revised)“, posted with vodpod

***

Thanks to Maja for sending this to me.

The Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG)
Presents a PUBLIC LECTURE in Montreal

“Deep Politics”: How 9/11 Has Changed America:
US Foreign Policy and the American Homeland in the Wake of September 11, 2001

Special Presentation by Peter Dale Scott

“The New Cold War”: Commentary by Michel Chossudovsky

* * *

Questions and Open Debate in French and English

19 September 2008 at 7pm
McGill University, Leacock Building, Room 26 (Montreal)

Info: http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=10063

see

The Elephant In The Room: Full Movie

Fabled Enemies

The Truth & Lies of 9/11

Investigation of World Trade Center Building 7 (videos)

9/11 Mystery Solved! Why Building 7 (WTC-7) Collapsed

9/11

Bush Extends 9/11 National Emergency Yet Again by Peter Dale Scott

Dandelion Salad

by Peter Dale Scott
Global Research, September 4, 2008

Though few Americans realize it, Cheney and Rumsfeld worked through the 1980s and 1990s on emergency nuclear-response plans which allegedly suspended the American constitution and also Congress.[1] (Through these decades Rumsfeld was CEO of a major pharmaceutical firm, and in the later 1990s Cheney was CEO of Halliburton; but their private status did not deter them from continuing to exercise a supra-constitutional planning power conferred on them by Ronald Reagan.)


Even fewer Americans know that these rules, originally dealing with a nuclear attack on America, were extended by Reagan Executive Order 12656 to cover “any occurrence, including natural disaster, military attack, technological emergency, or other emergency, that seriously degrades or seriously threatens the national security of the United States.”[2] And few Americans realize that at least some of these rules, known technically as Continuity of Government or COG rules, were invoked before 10:00 AM on September 11, 2001.[3]


As he did in 2007, President Bush has again, on August 28, 2008, continued for another year the national emergency first officially proclaimed on September 14, 2001, along with “the powers and authorities adopted to deal with that emergency:”

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