The Iraq war hits Wall Street + The financial crisis at the local level

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TheRealNews

At almost $1 trillion, and counting, the Wall Street bailout will cost taxpayers as much as the Iraq war. Barack Obama squandered the chance to lead with an alternative plan to the Wall Street bailout. Instead both Obama and McCain pushed for a plan that’s not only deeply unpopular but potentially as costly as a new Iraq war.

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MD Police Put Activists’ Names On Terror Lists

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By Lisa Rein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 8, 2008; Page A01

The Maryland State Police classified 53 nonviolent activists as terrorists and entered their names and personal information into state and federal databases that track terrorism suspects, the state police chief acknowledged yesterday.

Police Superintendent Terrence B. Sheridan revealed at a legislative hearing that the surveillance operation, which targeted opponents of the death penalty and the Iraq war, was far more extensive than was known when its existence was disclosed in July.

[…]

via Md. Police Put Activists’ Names On Terror Lists – washingtonpost.com.

h/t: CLG

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.

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Ralph Nader: Things Are a Lot Worse than We Thought! (video)

Standing up to police spying by Ben Dalbey

COINTELPRO Comes to My Town: My First-Hand Experience With Government Spies by Dave Zirin

Kucinich to Investigate Police Surveillance of Peace Groups

State police spying is dangerous repression

Maryland troopers spied on activist groups

Black Ops on Green Groups (video link)

Cops and Former Secret Service Agents Ran Black Ops on Green Groups

Bringing the War on Terrorism Home: Congress Considers How to ‘Disrupt’ Radical Movements in the United States by Jessica Lee

Maxine & Ted – Don’t Call Us If You Call Us Terrorists! by Linda Milazzo

Homegrown Terrorism

The Fed Now Owns The World’s Largest Insurance Company – But Who Owns The Fed? by Ellen Brown

by Dr. Ellen Hodgson Brown
featured writer
Dandelion Salad
Ellen’s post
Oct 8, 2008
webofdebt.com

“Some people think that the Federal Reserve Banks are United States Government institutions. They are private monopolies which prey upon the people of these United States for the benefit of themselves and their foreign customers; foreign and domestic speculators and swindlers; and rich and predatory money lenders.”
–    The Honorable Louis McFadden, Chairman of the House Banking and Currency Committee in the 1930s

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“To the Bunkers!”: Central banks slash rates in emergency “midnight” meeting By Mike Whitney

Dandelion Salad

By Mike Whitney
10/08/08 “ICH’

Stocks fell sharply across Europe and Asia last night following another down day on Wall Street where the Dow Jones lost 508 points and the S&P 500 slipped below the 1,000 mark for the first time since 2003. Japan’s benchmark index, the Nikkei, lost nearly 10 percent while shares in London at one point slumped more than 7 percent. Trading was suspended in Indonesia and Russia where stocks fell 10 percent each on opening.

According to Bloomberg News:

“The Federal Reserve, European Central Bank, Bank of England, Bank of Canada and Sweden’s Riksbank cut interest rates in an emergency coordinated bid to ease the economic effects of the financial crisis.”

The move by the Fed’s Open Market Committee (FOMC) brings the Fed’s Fund rate down to 1.5 percent, 500 basis points below the current rate of inflation.

Following yesterday’s 508 point bloodbath, President George Bush tried to calm jittery investors about the turmoil in the markets. He said, “I know that the days are dim right now for a lot of folks. But I firmly believe tomorrow is going to be brighter.”

Just hang in there.

The present crisis, which has its roots in the unsupervised expansion of credit in the United States, has spread from subprime mortgages and toxic securities, to the entire global financial system, where it has roiled equities markets and is now threatening to do incalculable damage to the US and European banking systems.

Yesterday, Fed chairman Ben Bernanke announced plans to pump an estimated  $1 trillion of short-term loans (commercial paper) to head off a growing liquidity squeeze. Unlike, Treasury Secretary Paulson’s $700 billion bailout, which was opposed by over 200 economists, Bernanke’s plan targets the source of the problem and could actually succeed. (ed: Commercial paper is a low-cost source of cash for companies to meet short-term financial needs. It’s cheaper than tapping a line of credit at a bank)  The Fed will start providing businesses and financial institutions with the short-term credit they need to maintain normal day-to-day operations. The Fed is invoking emergency powers under its “unusual and exigent circumstances” clause in order to avert an even larger shock to the financial system beyond the wreckage in the stock market and hundreds of bank closures that are expected into 2010. Providing unsecured loans directly to businesses is controversial, but necessary. If these corporations and financial institutions fail just because they cannot roll over their short term debt, the overall damage to the economic system could be devastating.

In yesterday’s speech, Fed chairman Bernanke gave a gloomy summary of present economic conditions:

“Economic activity had shown signs of decelerating even before the recent upsurge in financial-market tensions. As has been the case for some time, the housing market continues to be a primary source of weakness in the real economy as well as in the financial markets. However, the slowdown in economic activity has spread outside the housing sector. Private payrolls have continued to contract, and the declines in employment, together with earlier increases in food and energy prices, have eroded the purchasing power of households. This sluggishness of real incomes, together with tighter credit and declining household wealth, is now showing through more clearly to consumer spending. Indeed, since May, real consumer outlays have contracted significantly. Meanwhile, in the business sector, worsening sales prospects and a heightened sense of uncertainty have begun to weigh more heavily on investment spending as well.”

The US is caught in a deflationary downdraft that could have catastrophic long term effects.  That’s why Bernanke has pulled out all the stops and doubled the Fed’s loans (via auction facilities) to banks to $900 billion while allowing financial institutions to use mortgage-backed securities and other dodgy structured investments as collateral. The Fed has also started paying interest on reserve balances held at the central bank. This helps to push down the overnight lending rate below the Fed Funds rate which helps to reliquify the banks.

John Ryding, chief economist of RDQ Economics LLC in New York, called the practice, “stealth easing”, another attempt to flood the markets with credit and get the economy moving. Will it work?

Bernanke has a good idea of the nearly-insurmountable challenges in front of him. Apart from the faltering banking system, the collapse in real estate, and the unwinding of trillions of dollars of counterparty bets via derivatives contracts; Bernanke faces the sudden capitulation in consumer spending. The US consumer is tapped out on credit card debt, student loans, car loans and home mortgages. Retail spending is falling and likely to get worse. Bernanke’s plan to recapitalize the banking system ignores the larger issue that less people will be applying for loans and that less credit will be flowing through the system. Slower growth is inevitable. The sudden change in spending patterns is evident everywhere. Personal savings are increasing, home equity withdrawals are down (to nearly zero) and the new reality of “living within one’s means” is becoming the prevailing ethos. America is hunkering down.

“Big discounts fail to lure shoppers,” reports the Wall Street Journal . Restaurants are empty. Shopping malls are not even attracting strollers and gawkers – let alone people with money to spend. Auto lots are so quiet the salesmen take turns pretending to be customers – just to keep their skills at-the-ready. Even the private jet business is in a tailspin.” (The Daily Reckoning)

Personal consumption is down, unemployment is rising, manufacturing is slowing, and commodities have taken a record plunge in the last few weeks. The telltale signs of deflation are everywhere.

According to economist Asha Bangalore at Northern Trust:

“The July-August data point to a possible drop in consumer spending during the third quarter. If the forecast is accurate, it would be the first quarterly decline since fourth quarter of 1991. Given the importance of consumer spending in GDP, a drop in consumer spending in the third quarter raises the probability of a contraction in real GDP in the third quarter.”

9 out of 10 Americans now believe the country is headed in the “wrong direction” economically, while, according to CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll, which surveyed more than 1,000 Americans over the weekend, a majority of people now “believe another economic depression is likely” and that we will experience “25% unemployment rate, widespread bank failures and millions of Americans homeless and unable to feed their families.”

The good news is that inflationary pressures have eased. The bad news is…well…everything else.

From the Fed’s 7 AM, October 8, 2008, Press Release, “Joint Statement by Central Banks”:

“Incoming economic data suggest that the pace of economic activity has slowed markedly in recent months. Moreover, the intensification of financial market turmoil is likely to exert additional restraint on spending, partly by further reducing the ability of households and businesses to obtain credit. Inflation has been high, but the Committee believes that the decline in energy and other commodity prices and the weaker prospects for economic activity have reduced the upside risks to inflation.”

The United States is headed into another Great Depression and has probably dragged the rest of the world along with it. The global financial system will look very different by the time we reach the other end of the tunnel.

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.

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Derrick Jensen & Radio Roxanne: Premise One Civilization is not and can never be sustainable

Economic Globlization and Speculation Coming Home to Roost By Rowan Wolf

Kucinich: Wall Street Insider Cannot be an Unbiased Broker

Reality Report: Chris Martenson on the current financial crisis

Kucinich: Did Paulson ‘push Lehman Brothers off a cliff’?

James K. Galbraith: The Predator State

Naomi Wolf: Give Me Liberty – A coup has taken place! (must-see video)

The Economy Sucks and or Collapse

Mosaic News – 10/7/08: World News from the Middle East

Dandelion Salad

Warning

.

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

“Arab Markets Collapse,” Al Jazeera TV, Qatar
“Israeli Banks Lower Interest Rates,” IBA TV, Israel
“Olmert Asks Russia Not to Sell Weapons to Syria & Iran,” Abu Dhabi TV, UAE
“Hamas: Abbas Must Step Aside,” Dubai TV, UAE
“7 Years Anniversary of the Invasion of Afghanistan,” Al Jazeera English, Qatar
“Interview With a Female Suicide Bomber,” Al Arabiya TV, UAE
“Al Sader Movement Prepares for US Withdrawal,” Sumaria TV, Iraq
“Saudi Fatwas,” Sumaria TV, Iraq
Produced for Link TV by Jamal Dajani.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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The Economy Sucks and or Collapse

17 Traditions: Nader’s Hometown

Dandelion Salad

votenader08

2008 Presidential Candidate Ralph Nader talks about the 17 Traditions which made him who is is today. Includes footage from Nader’s hometown of Winsted, Connecticut from their Oktoberfest, on October 4, 2008. Book: Seventeen Traditions by Ralph Nader available at http://www.votenader.org/blog/2008/10… or through your favorite bookstore.
Music by Mike Primm.

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Thousands of Troops Are Deployed on U.S. Streets Ready to Carry Out “Crowd Control” by Naomi Wolf

Dandelion Salad

on current

by Naomi Wolf
AlterNet
Oct 8, 2008

Members of Congress were told they could face martial law if they didn’t pass the bailout bill. This will not be the last time.

Background: the First Brigade of the Third Infantry Division, three to four thousand soldiers, has been deployed in the United States as of October 1. Their stated mission is the form of crowd control they practiced in Iraq, subduing “unruly individuals,” and the management of a national emergency. I am in Seattle and heard from the brother of one of the soldiers that they are engaged in exercises now. Amy Goodman reported that an Army spokesperson confirmed that they will have access to lethal and non lethal crowd control technologies and tanks.

George Bush struck down Posse Comitatus, thus making it legal for military to patrol the U.S. He has also legally established that in the “War on Terror,” the U.S. is at war around the globe and thus the whole world is a battlefield. Thus the U.S. is also a battlefield.

He also led change to the 1807 Insurrection Act to give him far broader powers in the event of a loosely defined “insurrection” or many other “conditions” he has the power to identify. The Constitution allows the suspension of habeas corpus — habeas corpus prevents us from being seized by the state and held without trial — in the event of an “insurrection.” With his own army force now, his power to call a group of protesters or angry voters “insurgents” staging an “insurrection” is strengthened.

[…]

via Thousands of Troops Are Deployed on U.S. Streets Ready to Carry Out “Crowd Control” | Rights and Liberties | AlterNet.

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.

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Naomi Wolf: Give Me Liberty – A coup has taken place! (must-see video)

Is Posse Comitatus Dead? US Troops on US Streets

Why Bluff Martial Law? by Zahir Ebrahim

Betrayed by the Bailout: The Death of Democracy by William Cox

US congressman: If we don’t pass this bill, we’re going to have martial law in the United States

Does the Bailout Bill Mark the End of America as We Know It? by Richard C. Cook

Rep Burgess: We Are Under Martial Law! As Declared By The Speaker Last Night! (updated)

Exercise readies first units for NORTHCOM assignment

Pre-election Militarization of the North American Homeland. US Combat Troops in Iraq repatriated to “help with civil unrest”

Army Unit to Deploy in October for Domestic Operations

Brigade homeland tours start Oct. 1

Police State

Wolf-Naomi

The Ultimate 9/11 ‘Truth’ Showdown: David Ray Griffin vs. Matt Taibbi

Dandelion Salad

by David Ray Griffin and Matt Taibbi

Global Research, October 7, 2008

AlterNet.org

A poll of 17 countries that came out September of this year revealed that majorities in only nine of them “believe that al Qaeda was behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States.” A Zogby poll from 2006 found that in America, 42% of respondents believed the US government and 9/11 Commission “covered up” the events of 9/11. It’s safe to say that at least tens of millions of Americans don’t believe anything close to the official account offered by the 9/11 Commission, and that much of the outside world remains skeptical.

Over the years, AlterNet has run dozens of stories, mostly critical, of the 9/11 Truth Movement. Matt Taibbi has taken on the 9/11 Truth Movement head on in a series of articles, and most recently in his new book, The Great Derangement.

In April, I asked Taibbi if he would be interested in interviewing David Ray Griffin, a leading member of Scholars for 9/11 Truth & Justice, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy of Religion and Theology at Claremont School of Theology and Claremont Graduate University and author of seven of books on 9/11, about his recent book, 9/11 Contradictions. After months of back and forths between them and some editorial delays, I’m pleased to share their written exchange — all 24,000 words of it. What we have here are the preeminent writers on both sides of the 9/11 Truth argument; a one-of-a-kind debate. Because the questions and responses are quite long, I’ve woven them together in order. Enjoy. — Jan Frel, AlterNet Senior Editor.

1. Matt Taibbi (May 16, 2008): In your first chapter, you seem to imply — well, you not only imply, you come out and say it — that you think the real reason George W. Bush didn’t hurry to finish his reading of My Pet Goat might have been that “the Secret Service had no real fear of an attack.” In other words, they knew the plan in advance, and the plan didn’t involve an attempt on Bush’s life, hence “no real fear.” My question is this: if they knew about this whole thing in advance, why didn’t they plan to make Bush look a little less like a paralyzed yutz at the moment of truth? If the purpose of the entire exercise was propaganda, wasn’t it counterproductive to have the intrepid leader sitting there frozen with panicked indecision, a kid’s book about goats in his hands, at the critical moment of his presidency? What possible benefit could that have served the conspirators?

David Ray Griffin responds (June 12, 2008): Matt, I appreciate this opportunity provided by you and AlterNet to respond to questions about my writings on 9/11, especially my most recent book, 9/11 Contradictions, which is addressed specifically to journalists (as well as Congress).

Before responding to your first question, however, I need to address a theme that is implicit throughout your questions. I refer to your claim, which you have spelled out in previous writings, that those who believe 9/11 was an inside job must, to make this claim credible, present a complete theory as to how this operation was carried out.

You made this claim in the article in which you referred to “9/11 conspiracy theorists” as “idiots.” They must be idiots, you said, because “9/11 conspiracy is so shamefully stupid.” Saying that you could not give all your reasons for this claim, you wrote: “I’ll have to be content with just one point: 9/11 Truth is the lowest form of conspiracy theory, because it doesn’t offer an affirmative theory of the crime.” By “an affirmative theory,” you meant a “concrete theory of what happened, who ordered what and when they ordered it, and why.” In the absence of such a theory, you went on to claim, “all the rest,” including the “alleged scientific impossibilities,” is “bosh and bunkum.”

Recognizing that members of the 9/11 truth movement will argue that you are “ignoring the mountains of scientific evidence proving that the Towers could not have collapsed as a result of the plane crashes alone,” you replied: “[Y]ou’re right. I am ignoring it. You idiots. Even if it were not the rank steaming bullshit my few scientist friends assure me that it is, none of that stuff would prove anything.”

Your argument here has two problems (aside from your self-contradictory statement that scientifically disproving the official account of how the Towers fell would prove nothing). First, like most people who defend the official account of 9/11, you use the term “conspiracy theorist” in a one-sided way, applying it only to people who reject the official account of 9/11. But that account is itself a conspiracy theory — indeed, the original 9/11 conspiracy theory.

A conspiracy is simply an agreement between two or more people to commit a crime. One holds a conspiracy theory about some event (such as a bank robbery or a corporation defrauding its stockholders) if one believes that it resulted from such an agreement. A conspiracy theorist is simply someone who accepts such a theory.

According to the Bush-Cheney administration, the 9/11 attacks resulted from a conspiracy between Osama bin Laden and various members of al-Qaeda, including the 19 men accused of hijacking the airliners. This official account is, therefore, a conspiracy theory. (This is not a new point: I made it in my first book on 9/11, The New Pearl Harbor. I even made it in the title of my 2007 book, Debunking 9/11 Debunking: An Answer to Popular Mechanics and Other Defenders of the Official Conspiracy Theory. ) Accordingly, insofar as you accept this official account, you are a 9/11 conspiracy theorist. And yet you evidently do not consider yourself an idiot. Rather, you save that description, along with the term “conspiracy theorist,” for those who reject the official conspiracy theory.

Looking aside from your selective name-calling, your one-sided use of the term would not be so bad except that it leads you to be one-sided in the demands you make: While demanding that rejecters of the official theory must provide an account of what happened that is both self-consistent and based on hard evidence, you do not seem concerned whether the official theory exemplifies those virtues. (I will illustrate this point in my responses to some of your other questions.)

In addition to this one-sidedness, there is a second problem with your claim that anyone challenging a theory must have a complete alternative theory: It is false. There are several ways to challenge a theory. You can cast doubt on it by showing that its alleged evidence does not stand up to scrutiny. You can show that a theory is probably false by pointing to evidence that apparently contradicts it. You can positively disprove a theory by providing evidence showing that it cannot possibly be true. The 9/11 truth movement has done all three with regard to the official account.

To make clearer why your claim is unreasonable, I’ll use a method that you like to employ: I’ll make up a story.

You and your best friend entered a contest and, on the basis of something you considered unfair, he won the rather sizable cash prize. A week later, he is found dead, killed by an arrow. Although you are heartbroken, you are arrested and charged with his murder.

The police claim that, being angry because you felt he had cheated you out of money and glory, you used a crossbow to shoot him from the roof of a nearby building. You hire an attorney to defend you, even though you are confident that, since the charge is false, the police could not possibly have any evidence against you.

At the trial, however, the prosecutor plays a recording on which your voice is heard threatening to kill your friend. He plays a video clip showing you going into the building carrying a case big enough to hold a disassembled crossbow. He presents a water bottle with your finger prints on it that was found on the roof.

In defending you, your attorney, having pointed out that the water bottle could have been planted, then argues that, since you did not make that call and never went into that building, the police must have fabricated evidence by using digital (voice and video) morphing technology. When the prosecutor rolls his eyes, your attorney cites William Arkin’s 1999 Washington Post article, “When Seeing and Hearing Isn’t Believing,” which points out that voice morphing, like photo and video manipulation, is now good enough to fool anyone. With regard to why the police would have tried to frame you, your attorney suggests that the FBI may have asked the local police to put you away because of critical things you had written about the White House.

The prosecutor, smiling knowingly to the judge, says: “Oh my, a conspiracy theory.” He then adds that, even if your attorney’s speculations were true, which he doubted, it wouldn’t matter: Your attorney could prove your innocence only by providing a complete and plausible account of the alleged conspiracy: Who ordered the frame-up and when, who carried it out, and how and where they did this. Your attorney replies that this is preposterous: You would not possibly have the resources and connections to do this.

In any case, your attorney says, he has scientific proof that the police’s theory is false: A forensic lab has shown that the arrow that killed your friend could not possibly have flown the distance from the building’s roof to the location where your friend was killed. He then asks the judged to dismiss all charges.

The judge, however, says that he’s inclined to agree with the prosecution, especially if you are charging the government with engaging in a conspiracy: You need to provide a complete account of this alleged conspiracy. Not only that, the judge says, wickedly quoting a passage from one of your own writings: “In the real world you have to have positive proof of involvement to have a believable conspiracy theory.” You must, he says, provide positive proof that the FBI and police conspired to frame you.

Your attorney protests, saying that, in spite of the fact that his client had articulated this requirement, it is absurd. The defense has done all it needs to do. Besides showing how all the evidence against the defendant could have been manufactured, it has shown that the government’s theory is scientifically impossible.

The prosecutor objects, saying that the impossibility is merely alleged: He has some scientist friends who believe that the arrow could easily have traveled the distance in question.

The judge convicts you of murder.

Having shown you, I hope, that your demand for a complete theory, with positive proof, is unreasonable, I turn to your first question: “[If the Secret Service] knew about this whole thing in advance, why didn’t they plan to make Bush look a little less like a paralyzed yutz at the moment of truth?” That’s a good question, one that I myself asked near the end of The New Pearl Harbor, in a section entitled “Possible Problems for a Complicity Theory.” Perhaps anticipating that you would come along, I pointed out that critics of the revisionist theory of 9/11 may well make the following claim:

[T]hese revisionists must do more than show that the official account is implausible. They must also present an alternative account of what happened that incorporates all the relevant facts now available in a plausible way. Furthermore, these counter-critics could continue, insofar as an alternative account is already contained, at least implicitly, in the writings of the revisionists, it could be subjected to a great number of rhetorical questions, to which easy answers do not appear to be at hand.

I then offered a series of such rhetorical questions, one of which was: Why would the president , after officially knowing that a modern-day Pearl Harbor was unfolding, continue to do “the reading thing”? And why would the president remain in his publicly known location, thereby appearing to demonstrate that he and his staff knew that no suicide missions were coming their way? Would not the conspirators have orchestrated a scene that made the Secret Service appear genuinely concerned and the president genuinely presidential?

I then pointed out that this and the other questions suggest that to accept the complicity theory would be to attribute a degree of incompetence to the conspirators that is beyond belief. But the truth may be that they really were terribly incompetent. With regard to the occupation of Iraq, the incompetence of the Bush administration’s plans — for everything except winning the initial military victory and securing the oil fields and ministries–has been becoming increasingly obvious. [This was written in late 2003.] Perhaps their formulation of the plan for 9/11, with its cover story, involved comparable incompetence. Perhaps this fact is not yet widely recognized only because the news media have failed to inform the American public about the many tensions between the official account and the relevant facts.

Moreover, I argued, whatever difficulty these rhetorical questions pose for a complicity theory, the problems in the official theory are far greater. After illustrating this point, I concluded:

Seen in this light, the fact that a complicity theory may not at this time be able to answer all the questions it might evoke is a relatively trivial problem . Furthermore, the fact that the revisionists cannot yet answer all questions would be important only if they were claiming to have presented a fully conclusive case. But they are not.

In my later writings, I emphasized this point — that I am not attempting to provide a complete theory, partly because to do so would require groundless speculation, partly because there is no need. I did, however, state what I found the evidence to show on various matters, such as the fact that the World Trade Center buildings could have come down only through the use of explosives. I also clearly stated, after the first book, that I believed that 9/11 was an inside job, that the Air Force had been ordered to stand down, and that Dick Cheney was at the center of this operation. But this is very different from trying to offer a complete theory.

In the preface of the book about which you are asking questions, moreover, I pointed out that it contains not theory but simply an exposition of 25 contradictions within the official story.

One of these contradictions involves the story about Bush at the school. On the first anniversary of 9/11, the White House started telling a new story about what happened, saying that right after Andy Card told the president that a second WTC building had been hit, meaning that America was under attack, the president waited only a couple of seconds before getting up and leaving the room. The White House even got the teacher who was in the classroom to write two stories that repeated this lie.

Obviously the White House had come to believe that Bush’s having remained in the classroom was a liability, not a benefit. (Some reporters had asked why the Secret Service had not hustled Bush away, thereby implicitly suggesting that perhaps the attacks were no surprise.)

Why the Secret Service had allowed Bush to stay, I wouldn’t know. Perhaps it was thought essential that Bush make his scheduled address to the nation at 9:30. Or perhaps the planners were simply not very bright.

After the video surfaced on the Internet in 2003, in any case, the White House confirmed, when asked by a Wall Street Journal reporter, that Bush had in fact stayed for several minutes, explaining that his “instinct was not to frighten the children by rushing out of the room.” The reporter evidently did not ask the White House why it had tried to get away with a lie.

The 9/11 Commission did not report that the White House had put out a false account in 2002. It did, however, ask the Secret Service why it permitted Bush to remain in the classroom. The Secret Service replied that “they were anxious to move the President to a safer location, but did not think it imperative for him to run out the door.” The Commission evidently accepted that as a satisfactory answer.

In sum, I too would like to know why the planners did such a stupid thing. But I would think, Matt, that you should be concerned about why, if the attacks were a surprise, the Secret Service left Bush at the school, why the White House tried to change the story a year later (giving us two mutually inconsistent reports), and then why the press has not forced the White House to explain either of these events.

[…]

via The Ultimate 9/11 ‘Truth’ Showdown.

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9/11

Hope, Courage, Fear And Tyranny By Gary Corseri

By Gary Corseri
featured writer
Dandelion Salad
Oct. 8, 2008
Originally published 1/15/08

“Hope is confetti—politicians love to spread it. “Let’s change things,” they say, merely altering the vocabulary of hope. “Look at my experience,” they say, and, peering carefully, we see a landscape of broken hopes and scattered dreams. Hope diminishes the will.”

Can there be courage without hope, freedom without wisdom, fear without tyranny?

Are not courage and hope inversely related? The less hope, the greater the need for courage. But a surfeit of courage can be foolhardy. Soldiers are trained to have courage and leave the hoping to others. Yet, they hope, in spite of themselves, in spite of training and propaganda. They hope to survive and escape injury. They hope for home. Their courage diminishes as their hopes rise. They will take fewer risks as home comes closer.

Those who go on suicide missions have no hope of a better life. Blinding hatred has taken over their wills. Perhaps they hope for a heaven with 72 virgins. Or the Mormon Tabernacle choir singing on drifting clouds. Can there be courage without reason? Armies are commanded on that basis.

“Hope against hope,” people say. But, it’s meaningless. They are saying: Have hope, even when you don’t.

No one would say, “Courage against courage.” What would that mean? Not that one should have courage even when one doesn’t. It would, rather, describe a battle: courage contending with courage.

Hope is illusory, courage is solid. Hope recedes and fades; courage advances, stands its ground—or lives to fight another day. Hope rules the faint-hearted. Hope is the panderer’s word. With courage, the faint-hearted disappear.

Marx called religious “hope” the “opiate of the people.” It consistently failed them, diverted them from their true purposes, their unity and strength. He never spoke against animus or anima—the animating spirit: the true self behind the socialized mask; the self that moves towards entelechy or actualization. The self that needs courage to transform itself and the world.

If I lose hope, I lose something I never possessed. Did I hope for a better life? Only because I never possessed that life. It simply reveals unhappiness with my present circumstances. If I lose courage, I lose the staff of my existence:

Yea, though I walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death,

I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me;

Thy rod and Thy staff—they comfort me.

Is it a prayer for hope or for courage? Here is the yearning of hope—hope in a Deity to protect and comfort in the face of Death and danger. But, with hope, we are in the realm of the Shadow. Courage is the rod and staff that vanquishes evil, confronts the Shadow, reassures the bearer.

This is the intimate Deity of Martin Buber’s I and Thou. What is this Thou but another I? Recognition of the Divine within and without. The divine in the connection. Not a hope in some Dante-esque Paradisio. But the courage to risk the connection. If we sail the kite up towards lightning, will the key take the charge? Do we risk life and limb to stand ground in the storm? Have we the courage to prove a point?

How to instill courage, how to breed it? Hope is confetti—politicians love to spread it. “Let’s change things,” they say, merely altering the vocabulary of hope. “Look at my experience,” they say, and, peering carefully, we see a landscape of broken hopes and scattered dreams. Hope diminishes the will. If I have hope of improvement, I can sit back and wait till it’s bequeathed to me. Hope is trusting, courage challenging. Politicians, preachers, generals, and corporate “leaders” all try to instill hope. The last thing they want is courage in the ranks. Courage assesses and acts accordingly; hope accedes. Courage commands itself; hope genuflects.

Can there be courage without reason? The blind courage of hatred, yes. Even the blind courage of love—the father or mother showing insuperable strength to save their endangered child. But the courage of the reasonable man or woman is the highest courage and the highest reason. This, too, is understood by generals and politicians, et. al. And it is that courage they fear.

The sine qua non of hope is fear. The sine qua non of courage is tyranny. In some eupeptic utopias, I need not fear, for all my hopes are realized. But in those same strange brave new worlds, I will need a plethora of courage because “all my hopes are realized”! Without courage, the mask predominates, imagination sinks into the slough of despond.

The great artists have always understood the need for courage: courage to pursue their goals, visions, entelechy. Pissarro persists into his 70s, despite poverty, failure, abuse, abandonment. He stops hoping; but he does not surrender animus. Renoir thrusts his claw-like arthritic hand at the canvas. He can never recapture the lithe forms of his 40th year, the insouciance and color-play of Two Sisters. No matter, he has the courage to imagine seraphic, dreamy visions. Beethoven cannot hear. But he “hears” well enough to set the Chorale triumphantly before the skeptical world.

In a world where we need not fear, we need not hope. Our fear of tomorrow, keeps our noses to the grindstone of hope. Our fear that preposterous “leaders” will destroy the earth and all that it inhabits, keeps us hoping that political processes that have long failed us and all the faithful, will somehow transform. I stand with the brave few when I perceive that the only transformation possible is one like Bottom’s: the donkey’s ears and snout revealed.

Can we abolish the sine qua non of courage, tyranny? Not so long as we are mortal, for the tyranny of death will have suasion. Even Jefferson—uncourageous in his personal life—understood: “I have sworn eternal vigilance against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.” We cannot eliminate the Tyrannos of Time—that first progenitor who ate, even, the gods.

The view I see from my 5th floor apartment is changing even as I write; the traffic flowing inexorably into evening, into a gas-choked future of uncertainty, deprivation, new and old threats to the balance of power, to the equilibrium of the heart. I have no hope that the many honking their horns have answers to alleviate their fears. I can only try my best to cultivate courage to face the maelstrom: to listen carefully, to search for signs, to weed out the extraneous, to distill real gold from the fool’s.

(Gary Corseri has posted/published his work at hundreds of venues, including Dandelion Salad, Thomas Paine’s Corner, The New York Times. He has taught in universities and prisons, published novels and poetry collections, performed at the Carter Presidential Library; and his dramas have been presented on Atlanta-PBS, etc. He can be contacted at Gary_Corseri@comcast.net.)

Iran, the IAEA, and the Laptop – Where is the digital chain of custody?

Dandelion Salad

By Muhammad Sahimi
ICH
07/10/08 “Anti War”

In August 2002, the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK), an armed Iranian opposition group listed by the State Department as a terrorist organization but supported by the neoconservatives within and without the Pentagon, provided the first concrete evidence of the existence of Iran’s uranium enrichment facility in Natanz. In February 2003, Iran formally declared the existence of the facility to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Since then, Iran’s nuclear facilities and program have undergone the most intrusive and time-consuming inspections in the history of the IAEA, including from October 2003-February 2006, when Iran voluntarily implemented the provisions of the Additional Protocol of its Safeguards (SG) Agreement with the IAEA, which it had signed but not ratified.

Despite the intrusive inspections and intense propaganda, which consisted mostly of lies, exaggerations, half-truths, and dire predictions by the neoconservatives, the War Party, and the Israel Lobby, the IAEA could identify only a few breaches of Iran’s SG Agreement – none serious – and what ultimately turned out to be non-issues altogether.

[…]

via Iran, the IAEA, and the Laptop : Information Clearing House – ICH.

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Bodies Against The War 2008

Dandelion Salad

Warning

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

Sent to Dandelion Salad by Juliea

This is one of the coolest things I’ve ever done in my life. It started with an idea I had and evolved into a very successful, moving event that changed my life and proved to me that ANYONE can absolutely make an impact or a difference if they so choose to. Continue reading

Derrick Jensen & Radio Roxanne: Premise One Civilization is not and can never be sustainable

Dandelion Salad

Sent to me by
radioroxanne

Audio link

This post is a link to a 27 min. 59 sec. Radio Roxanne audio interview with writer and environmental activist Derrick Jensen.  This is the 1st in a series of 20 interviews based on his 20 premises from his 2 volume book, Endgame.

At a time when the whole world is reeling from a collapsing economy, it’s a good idea to ask what is the relationship between the economy and the planet, when every eco-system is also in collapse.  And to ask:  What is worthy of saving from collapse, “the markets”, or the planet we call our home?  (And to recognize we can have one, or the other, but not both.)  Yesterday I posted a Naomi Wolf video calling for direct action regarding the criminals in the white house.  It’s a place to start, but it doesn’t end there…. Continue reading

Economic Globlization and Speculation Coming Home to Roost By Rowan Wolf

Dandelion Salad

Sent to me by Jason Miller from Thomas Paine’s Corner. Thanks, Jason.

By Rowan Wolf
10/7/08

Simulposted with CJO’s Avenger 212

With the current economic crisis which seems to be spreading across the world we are dealing with far more than a “subprime” crisis, or an attempt to “quarantine “toxic debt.” There is a much bigger avalanche waiting to come tumbling down. Namely the derivatives market now estimated to be over $1 quadrillion (that is 1,000 trillion) in global derivatives holdings. That makes the current $700 billion bailout look like less than a drop in a very large bucket.

As the long predicted crash started unfolding, I have been nagged by a long sequence of events that seem to be culminating at the current moment. There have been significant structural changes in the U.S. and elsewhere that have impacted both labor markets, and capital. In terms of labor markets (also known as workers) the transitions have been stark. In the United States we have watched the long term decimation of the manufacturing sector and a transition to a “service” economy. I remember the concerns in the 1980’s about the transformation of the U.S. economy from a production economy to a consumer economy. This trend was accelerated with broad implementation of corporate-driven globalization and formalized by the passage of NAFTA (North American Free Trade Act) and the rewriting of GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade).

These two international trade agreements were structured along similar philosophies. Namely the removing of “boundaries” to trade, and enhancing the “boundaries” around workforces. Those boundaries were national boundaries and national sovereignty. We saw the exportation of U.S. job (outsourcing and off-shoring) accelerate. We also started seeing the merger mania of the 1980s which have continued to the present. In fact, they are a prominent feature of the current crisis.

Other nations, in a competitive and revolving fashion, became the cheap, exploitable labor force for a global economy. China, maximizing on its single most abundant resource (people) successfully positioned itself as the cheap workforce for global corporations searching to always maximize profit. (Now they too import even cheaper labor).

All along this path towards removal of boundaries, there has been increasing financial and investment penetration in an increasingly intertwined global financial market.

Facilitating what might be framed as an integration of financial and corporate markets, the U.S. (and other nations) have engaged in almost three decades of deregulation and the removal of other boundaries and barriers – particularly in the “financial” areas. Insurance companies become investment marketers, banks become investment bankers, banks cash in on the lucrative credit market, credit card companies start offering mortgage financing. Functions and institutions that once had high barriers between them with regulation and oversight, became increasingly deregulated and shadowy. They pushed for, and got passed, barriers against predatory lending – like those pesky bankruptcy laws.

I can’t help but thinking that (in part) we are seeing the “jobless recovery” of the 2001 recession coming home to roost. Lots of folks wrote about the jobless recovery including myself (What Jobs? What Recovery?) and even Ben Bernake (The Jobless Recovery). Most of us, myself included, focused on the restructuring of the economy at that time as a major component of what was going on. However, it was also clear that money was flowing from somewhere into the financial markets. Wall Street was recovering – the people (and workers) were not. This money flowing around was symptomatic of the liberalization of investment restrictions which was a major feature of international globalization.

Unfortunately while there was money being brought into the market, much of it was “little people’s” money (i.e. money from state and corporate retirement funds). The little people’s money provided grease for much bigger financial fish, and “derivatives” took a whole new life and growth spurt.

What the Hell are “Derivatives?”

Wikipedia defines derivatives:

Derivatives are financial instruments whose values depend on the value of other underlying financial instruments. The main types of derivatives are futures, forwards, options, and swaps.

The main use of derivatives is to reduce risk for one party. The diverse range of potential underlying assets and pay-off alternatives leads to a wide range of derivatives contracts available to be traded in the market. Derivatives can be based on different types of assets such as commodities, equities (stocks), residential mortgages, commercial real estate loans, bonds, interest rates, exchange rates, or indexes (such as a stock market index, consumer price index (CPI) — see inflation derivatives — or even an index of weather conditions, or other derivatives). Their performance can determine both the amount and the timing of the pay-offs. Unregulated Credit derivatives have become an increasingly large part of the derivative market.

If you don’t feel particularly enlightened, you are not alone. One off the best articles I have found on the current derivative situation was written by Ellen Brown and published at [Web of Debt]. In It’s the Derivatives, Stupid! Why Fannie, Freddie, AIG had to be Bailed Out,” Brown states:

The Anatomy of a Bubble

Until recently, most people had never even heard of derivatives; but in terms of money traded, these investments represent the biggest financial market in the world. Derivatives are financial instruments that have no intrinsic value but derive their value from something else. Basically, they are just bets. You can “hedge your bet” that something you own will go up by placing a side bet that it will go down. “Hedge funds” hedge bets in the derivatives market. Bets can be placed on anything, from the price of tea in China to the movements of specific markets.

“The point everyone misses,” wrote economist Robert Chapman a decade ago, “is that buying derivatives is not investing. It is gambling, insurance and high stakes bookmaking. Derivatives create nothing.”1 They not only create nothing, but they serve to enrich non-producers at the expense of the people who do create real goods and services. In congressional hearings in the early 1990s, derivatives trading was challenged as being an illegal form of gambling. But the practice was legitimized by Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan, who not only lent legal and regulatory support to the trade but actively promoted derivatives as a way to improve “risk management.” Partly, this was to boost the flagging profits of the banks; and at the larger banks and dealers, it worked. But the cost was an increase in risk to the financial system as a whole.2

Since then, derivative trades have grown exponentially, until now they are larger than the entire global economy. The Bank for International Settlements recently reported that total derivatives trades exceeded one quadrillion dollars – that’s 1,000 trillion dollars.3 How is that figure even possible? The gross domestic product of all the countries in the world is only about 60 trillion dollars. The answer is that gamblers can bet as much as they want. They can bet money they don’t have, and that is where the huge increase in risk comes in.

Credit default swaps (CDS) are the most widely traded form of credit derivative. CDS are bets between two parties on whether or not a company will default on its bonds. In a typical default swap, the “protection buyer” gets a large payoff from the “protection seller” if the company defaults within a certain period of time, while the “protection seller” collects periodic payments from the “protection buyer” for assuming the risk of default. CDS thus resemble insurance policies, but there is no requirement to actually hold any asset or suffer any loss, so CDS are widely used just to increase profits by gambling on market changes. In one blogger’s example, a hedge fund could sit back and collect $320,000 a year in premiums just for selling “protection” on a risky BBB junk bond. The premiums are “free” money – free until the bond actually goes into default, when the hedge fund could be on the hook for $100 million in claims.

And there’s the catch: what if the hedge fund doesn’t have the $100 million? The fund’s corporate shell or limited partnership is put into bankruptcy; but both parties are claiming the derivative as an asset on their books, which they now have to write down. Players who have “hedged their bets” by betting both ways cannot collect on their winning bets; and that means they cannot afford to pay their losing bets, causing other players to also default on their bets.

The dominos go down in a cascade of cross-defaults that infects the whole banking industry and jeopardizes the global pyramid scheme. The potential for this sort of nuclear reaction was what prompted billionaire investor Warren Buffett to call derivatives “weapons of financial mass destruction.” It is also why the banking system cannot let a major derivatives player go down, and it is the banking system that calls the shots. The Federal Reserve is literally owned by a conglomerate of banks; and Hank Paulson, who heads the U.S. Treasury, entered that position through the revolving door of investment bank Goldman Sachs, where he was formerly CEO.

Now the picture becomes a bit clearer … and more dire. John Maggs, writing “Derivatives: The Other Shoe Waiting To Drop” for the National Journal quotes Warren Buffett:

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett has been calling these derivatives a “mega-catastrophe” waiting to happen since the 1990s, when they began to proliferate. Buffett warned in May 2007 that a crisis in the derivatives market wasn’t just a possibility–it was an eventuality. “The introduction of derivatives has totally made any regulation of margin requirements a joke,” he said, referring to the amount of borrowed money normally required to buy stocks and bonds. “We don’t know when it will end precisely, but … at some point some very unpleasant things will happen in the markets.”

John Riley, Chief Strategist for Cornerstone Money Management, notes that the derivatives market has grown dramatically. To wit, there has been a derivative growth of 473% for the top 25 U.S. banks since 1999.

So the derivative “bomb” is being mentioned quietly, but there is yet another troubling part of this scenario and the big players chew up and swallow whole other big players (with the help of the Federal Reserve and the Treasury). Buyouts, derivatives, and risk become a not so hidden story in a recent report from the Comptroller of the Currency, administrator of National Banks “OCC’s Quarterly Report on Bank Trading and Derivatives Activities First Quarter 2008.” I truly struggled to make deep sense of this report, but much of it is beyond me. However, a couple of important things leap out.

First is the chart on page 6 of the report which shows that 98.8% of the credit derivatives for the first quarter of 2008 were “Credit Default Swaps.” My understanding is that “swaps” are a primary tool of financial “speculation” – or crassly, financial gambling.

Page 9 of the report show a chart of the growth of derivatives among commercial banks from 1990 to 2008. The chart shows the grow from somewhere less that $10 trillion in 1990 to north of $160 trillion in the first quarter of 2008. Further, and confirming my suspicion that financial speculation played an important role in “jobless recovery,” is that derivatives took off in 2002. They climbed from approximately $50 trillion to the current amount held by commercial banks (an increase of over 300% in less than 6 years).

If you continue trudging through this (almost incomprehensible to the lay person) report, you will come to Graph 4 on page 12. There you discover that five commercial banks have the lions share of derivatives – almost 97% of derivatives held by commercial banks. Continue reading through graphs and charts, and you arrive at page 17 which finally tells who those five derivative holding institutions are – the five largest commercial banks in the United States (in order of size): JPMorgan, Bank America, Citibank, Wachovia, and HSBC.

Keep going and one comes to a startling piece of information . Table 1 on page 22 is a listing of the “notional amount of derivative contracts.” The top five banks (followed by 20 others) are right there at the top of the chart. JP Morgan shows total assets of $1.4 billion with total derivatives of almost $90 billion. This is a difference of almost 90 to 1, and most of those are those “swaps” discussed above. Anyone want to talk exposure and risk? For the entire group of top 25 commercial banks, the assets are roughly $10 billion with derivatives of $180 billion. Funny money … a whole lot of funny money.

Now we add the scenario that these banks are eating up other institutions (JP Morgan scooped up Bear Sterns and Lehmans; Citibank swallowed Washington Mutual and is fighting over number four Wachovia with number six Wells Fargo). As they concentrate their holdings into a smaller and smaller group of mega-institutions, they also increase their holding to the questionable – and not regulated – derivatives. What happens if the over the top holding of derivatives flips the iceberg upside down? It is a frightening thought. It is particularly frightening since the trend seems to be that the treasury (and us the tax payers) are going to stand surety for “arcane financial instruments” which have no real value.

So the U.S. is pushing “bail, bail, bail” for an economic boat which essentially has no hull. There is a very real problem here that has governments scrambling. Historically financial recovery strategies have been dealt with on a national basis (often reaching out to exploit “undeveloped nations”) to achieve economic recovery. However, there is now no real national boundaries to the financial markets. Everybody’s ass is blowing in the wind to one extent or the other, and the markets have been given virtually total control. While the US and European nations seem to be nationalizing the losses to one extent or another, no one seems to have any ideas of how to put the unruly borderless market horse back in the paddock – much less in the barn.

I think it is very important to not be lead astray by the claims of “corruption and greed.” While it is certainly true that these unflattering character traits were (and are) present, the systems have been restructured to reward avarice and illegal activity. Global investment and finance has become the biggest (and most rewarding) gambling venture ever known. It has been structured as a “money machine” that utilizes the labor and resources of the planet to extract every drop of wealth, and then protects the gamblers so that the big ones win regardless of whether those markets go up … or down.

The current insane situation we are in, and the reality of over the (unimaginable) sum of a QUADRILLION dollars hanging over us with nothing but air supporting it is more than a daunting prospect. But this was an environment that was created and facilitated by “decision makers” in and out of governments across the planet. Now it is has gotten so big and so precarious that its monstrous head is coming into the view of “the people.”

There hangs the question of what to do about it. My gut response is to slam the door. Put a wall around the real economies and the people in them, and declare derivatives and other “arcane” instruments and markets illegal. Shut them down and keep them shut down. Some how, some way, economies have to get back to real value. That value resides in the people, not in the Casino Royale of financial wizardry.

Rowan Wolf, a senior contributing editor to Cyrano’s Journal, is a sociologist, teacher, writer and activist. Her areas of interest include social justice, environment, and globalization/corporatization at the core. Since May of 2007 she has also been the main host and director of Cyrano’s special blog, AVENGER.

see

It’s the Derivatives, Stupid! Why Fannie, Freddie, AIG had to be Bailed Out

Kucinich: Wall Street Insider Cannot be an Unbiased Broker

Reality Report: Chris Martenson on the current financial crisis

Kucinich: Did Paulson ‘push Lehman Brothers off a cliff’?

James K. Galbraith: The Predator State

French Premier Francois Fillon: We’re on “the edge of the abyss” By Mike Whitney

Naomi Wolf: Give Me Liberty – A coup has taken place! (must-see video)

Russian markets slump to a halt

The Economy Sucks and or Collapse