Monday, December 31, 2007

The TRUTH: 2007 Deadliest Year for US Troops in Iraq

The second half of 2007 saw violence drop dramatically in Iraq, but the progress came at a high price: The year was the deadliest for the U.S. military since the 2003 invasion, with 899 troops killed. Seems there was a bit too much celebration about 'winning' despite the hard facts.

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Homeland Insecurity

The Homeland Security Dept.'s over reliance on outside contractors and insufficient management of them could leave the U.S. vulnerable

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What's So Bad About Big Government Anyway?

The right-sized government simply protects the right of people to live their lives as they choose, so long as their actions are peaceful. Government should not interfere with “Anything That’s Peaceful.” Once government begins to do that, it becomes an aggressor against its citizens.

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Sunday, December 30, 2007

Sheep to the Constitutional Slaughter

Judge Napolitano reminds readers what America is all about, that the purpose of government is to protect freedom, and freedom is the ability to follow your own free will and not the will of government bureaucrats.

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Creeping Fascism: From Nazi Germany to Post 9/11 America

"Americans today are seeing the same sheepish submissiveness that characterized Germany after the burning of the Reichstag." Is democracy slowly disappearing? Hitler and Franco did it in Germany and Spain. Is Bush doing it in the USA?

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1967 Greenspan on Gold Standard vs. Fiat currency. Sound $$!

Alan Greenspan on how a gold standard helps to preserve a healthy, in-check government, and how fiat currency helps foster a welfare state.From an Ayn Rand publication in 1967

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Food Prices Set to Soar in 2008

For cash-strapped consumers already beset by higher gasoline prices and escalating mortgage rates, the hits just keep on coming. This time, it's food. For the 1st time in modern history it might be cheaper to eat out than to cook at home.

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Congress doesn't exist unless I say it does

According to Bush congress doesn't even exist unless he says it does. If everything else Bush has done so far does not merit impeachment, then surely this level of existential crises does.

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RIAA suing citizen for copying legally purchased CDs to PC

"Ira Schwartz, the industry's lawyer in the case, is arguing that MP3 files created on his [Jeffrey Howell's] computer from legally purchased CDs are indeed "unauthorized copies," and while we've no idea what will become of all this, we suppose you should go on and wipe those personal copies before you too end up in handcuffs."

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American Prison Camps Are on the Way

The Military Commissions Act of 2006 governing the treatment of detainees is the culmination of relentless fear-mongering by the Bush administration since the September 11 terrorist attacks. Because the bill was adopted with lightning speed, barely anyone noticed that it empowers Bush to declare not just aliens, but also U.S. citizens, "unlawful enemy combatants

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RIAA Now Filing Suits Against Consumers Who Rip CDs

"With this past week's announcement by Warner to release its entire catalog to Amazon in MP3 format with no Digital Rights Management, you would think that the organization that represents them, The RIAA, would begin changing its tune. Instead, they are pressing on in their campaign against consumers by suing individuals who merely rip CDs they've purchased legally. 'The industry's lawyer in the case, Ira Schwartz, argues in a brief filed earlier this month that the MP3 files Howell made on his computer from legally bought CDs are "unauthorized copies" of copyrighted recordings.'"

Electric Universe Continues to "Baffle" Astronomers

By Michael Goodspeed

The 19th century humorist Josh Billings once said, "There is no greater evidence of superior intelligence than to be surprised at nothing." One wonders how today's astronomers and astrophysicists might feel about this statement. Space scientists continually express surprise and perplexity over new discoveries -- from the energetic outbursts of comets, to the electric sun/earth connection, to the anomalous motions of galaxies, to the vast, filamentary jets seen stretching over intergalactic distances, our increased technological ability to detect space phenomena has only increased astronomers' surprise and confusion.

But the real measure of a person's intelligence -- and integrity -- is how he or she responds to life's inevitable surprises. Does one deny and resist these revelations, clinging furiously to misguided beliefs? Or is one content to be proved wrong, perhaps suffering a blow to the ego but moving a step closer to real understanding?

Space scientists will admit to surprise or even astonishment, but this seldom prevents them from claiming to understand what they're seeing, even when the surprises refute their most basic assumptions. A good example of this is seen in astronomers' recent observations of a "baffling cosmic explosion" that "seems to have come out of nowhere." The explosion is a long duration gamma-ray burster. Astronomers have long believed that such a burst is powered by the death of a massive star. But satellite images reveal no galaxy anywhere near the proximity of the burst.

"Here we have this very bright burst, yet it's surrounded by darkness on all sides," said team member Brad Cenko of the California Institute of Technology. "The nearest galaxy is more than 88,000 light-years away, and there's almost no gas lying between the burst and Earth."

The report on the "explosion" reads: "Because the massive stars believed to produce GRBs live fast and die young, they don't have time to wander from their birthplace, which is usually dense clouds of gas and dust inside of galaxies. So the explosion raise [sic] the perplexing question of how a massive star could be found so far from a galaxy.

"If a massive star died far away from any galaxy, the key question is, how did it manage to be born there?' said team member Derek Fox of Penn State.

Here we see investigators, though openly "baffled," still refusing to think outside their models, even when direct observation contradicts them. One radical possibility they're not considering is that their fundamental assumptions about gamma-ray bursters (GRBs) are incorrect -- they are not generated by the death of a massive star, their ideas about star formation and the nature of stars are incorrect, and the energies of the explosions are far less than standard theory calculates. This is, in fact, the position of proponents of plasma cosmology, and of the Electric Universe.

Astronomers' beliefs about GRBs have been thrown into disarray before. In July of 2005, a burst that lasted a tenth of a second was followed thirty seconds later by a 150-second x-ray flash. The location of the burst was pinpointed, and a few days later, the Hubble Space Telescope obtained an image of the optical afterglow and the "host" galaxy. According to conventional theories, the redshift of this galaxy determined its distance at about two billion light years. To appear as bright as it did, the GRB must have given off more energy in that one-tenth of a second than the entire galaxy gives off in a year! The only mechanisms imaginable in a gravity-dominated universe that could be this "energy-dense" are extreme supernovae and neutron-star or black-hole mergers. Because no supernova was observed and because the GRB occurred at the edge of the galaxy (most black holes are thought to reside in galactic cores) this GRB was considered to be the result of a merger of neutron stars.

But as repeatedly demonstrated on the pages of, redshift is not a reliable measure of an object's distance. As far back as the 1960's, astronomer Halton Arp began documenting instances where two or more galaxies and/or quasars were associated, or even physically connected, in contradiction of the assumption that their different redshifts meant that one should be millions or even billions of light-years farther away than the other. Therefore, the energy of the 2005 GRB was almost certainly much less than astronomers believe, and the "host" galaxy appears small and faint because it really is small and faint -- not because it's far away.

Likewise, the recently observed "baffling cosmic explosion" may not have "come out of nowhere." Although it cannot definitively be said from an electrical perspective what creates gamma-ray bursters, we can say with great confidence that they are not caused by the death of stars, and they are electrical in nature. Astronomers study GRBs based on their spectra and their time histories. The spectra indicate emission of X-rays from highly excited ions and from fast electrons. The time histories vary greatly but generally show a fast rise of energy and a gradual fading. Sometimes one or more lower-energy pulses precede the peak energy pulse; often other spikes, which also show the fast-rise-slower-decline profile, interrupt the decline in energy.

The excited ions, fast electrons, and range of energy curves are common properties of LIGHTNING. They occur -- at the appropriate energy levels -- in lab discharges, atmospheric lightning, solar flares, supernovae, and, now, in GRBs. To try and explain these energetic patterns, conventional theorists do what they always do when faced with the inexplicable -- they call on invisible, untestable, unmeasurable, super-powerful gravitational forces to do the hard way (or the IMPOSSIBLE way) what electricity does routinely. Experiments and computer simulations have shown that plasma phenomena can be scaled over many orders of magnitude -- that is, they behave in much the same manner and obey the same principles from the atomic scale to the galactic. In other words, the cosmic explosion that so "baffles" astronomers is not baffling to those familiar with experimental plasma science. It is exactly what it seems to be -- a plasma discharge in space.

So from where might this discharge have originated? In an Electric Universe, galaxies are not isolated objects -- they are connected electrically. Across the immense volume of intergalactic space, electric currents, minuscule across short distances, possess the power to organize galactic structure. Such currents, unrecognized by modern astronomy, are fully capable of producing rare instances of plasma instability -- a high-energy event provoked by converging currents in a "z-pinch." The electric discharges provoked by pinching currents have been studied in the plasma laboratory for decades. And the phenomenon is incomparably more efficient in producing GRBs than the untested, gravitational events envisioned by mainstream theorists. Moreover, evidence continues to mount that cosmological redshift is proportional to the electrical stresses in a discharge, in which case the measured redshift cannot reliably tell us the distance of an event.

The mainstream's bafflement over electrical phenomena in space cannot be resolved by ad hoc theoretical inventions that will only be refuted again in the future. Instead of "going back to the drawing board" to try and save failed theories, the time is long passed for astronomers to question WHY space discovery has so relentlessly "baffled" them, and to seek the PATTERNS consistent in the "surprises." When seen without ideological prejudice, these patterns tell us one thing -- we live in an electric universe.


Fed Increases Lending to Banks

United States banks on average borrowed $4.83 billion a day directly from the Federal Reserve in the week ended Dec. 26, up from $4.62 billion a day the previous week, Fed data released Thursday showed.

Discount window borrowing totaled $4.54 billion on Wednesday, compared with $4.77 billion a week earlier, according to the Fed.

In addition, the Fed said that banks in the New York area received $16.49 billion of the $20 billion in 28-day loans awarded in its first auction from its Term Auction Facility, which was established this month to ease the global credit squeeze.

Banks in the Dallas Fed district were awarded the second-highest amount, $1.4 billion, from the auction of 28-day loans, which was held Dec. 17, the Fed said.

Banks in the St. Louis Fed district received $1 billion, the third-highest amount.

Banks in 6 of the 12 Fed districts receive no money from the auction, which settled Dec. 20.

Down the rabbit hole

When it comes to surveillance and the treatment of classified information, President Bush is making up the rules as he goes along

Earlier this month, senator Sheldon Whitehouse made a stunning revelation: the president is not legally obliged to follow his own executive orders.

Executive orders are the directives the president issues to explain how he will implement existing laws. They cover things like the organisation and legal conduct of the intelligence community, the treatment of classified and unclassified information and interrogation techniques approved for the CIA.

Whitehouse read from a legal opinion he had declassified to explain this point:

An executive order cannot limit a president. There is no constitutional requirement for a president to issue a new executive order whenever he wishes to depart from the terms of a previous executive order. Rather than violate an executive order, the president has instead modified or waived it.

Or, as the senator explained in his own words, that means the president believes: "I don't have to follow my own rules, and I don't have to tell you when I'm breaking them."

Whitehouse raised the issue in the context of the executive order that governs surveillance. As he explained, that executive order is the only thing preventing US intelligence agencies from spying on Americans when they travel abroad. But since the president can ignore that executive order if he chooses, that protection amounts to little. "[U]nless Congress acts," Whitehouse said, "here is what legally prevents this president from wiretapping Americans travelling abroad at will: nothing. Nothing." Of course, Americans would have no way of knowing that their government could wiretap them as they travel abroad, because they have no way of knowing whether the president has modified an executive order without revealing it publicly. On the contrary, since the order appears untouched, Americans would fairly believe they were safe from wiretaps overseas, all because the department of justice's office of legal council ruled the president doesn't have to tell us when he changes the rules.

The executive order governing surveillance may not be the only one that Bush has modified without revealing he has done so. It appears that Bush has also modified the executive order governing the treatment of classified information from its plain text meaning.

That particular executive order is one that the office of the vice president (OVP) seemed to be violating for years. Starting in 2003, OVP refused to reveal its classification and declassification activities, as the order required. And when the National Archives came to inspect OVP's classification procedures in 2004, OVP staffers refused to let the inspection take place. Finally, Bill Leonard, who as the head of the information security oversight office is the person in charge of reporting on classified materials, appealed to the department of justice for guidance. For six months, Leonard got no response. It wasn't until Congress threatened to withdraw funding from Cheney's office that the administration bothered to inform anyone that the executive order didn't mean what it appeared to mean. "The president has asked me to confirm to you that ... the office of the vice president, like the president's office, is not an 'agency' for the purposes of the order." And even then, they only informed Leonard indirectly. As Leonard describes it: "I was told that the order meant something other than what I (and others) thought a plain text reading would indicate, especially in the context in which it was originally developed."

This is the stuff of Alice in Wonderland or Calvinball, in which cartoonish figures can simply change the rules mid-game. "'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone,' it means just what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less." "Any player may declare a new rule at any point in the game ... The player may do this audibly or silently depending on what zone ... the player is in." Only in this case, the rules the cartoonish figure keeps changing have very real consequences - affecting our civil rights and our ability to keep classified information secure.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Boycott FOX news!

Here's a list of Fox News Sponsors to boycott until support for dishonest "news" (propaganda disguised as news) is no more. Write/email letters to these and local sponsors letting them know of your disinclination to buy from them while the shows they sponsor continue dishonest practices.

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Fox News is Scared

Fox news is Propaganda and Lies and are afraid of being exposed as frauds

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Petition Congress on E-Vote Machines Here!

New evidence revealed in Dan Rather Reports' "The Trouble with Touch Screens" suggests that voting systems at the very heart of our democracy are deeply flawed and unreliable. Sign the petition to call on the United States Congress to conduct a full investigation into the dangers associated with the privatization of our public elections.

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Massive Evidence of Republican Vote Fraud

There have been countless reports of votes changing on these machines after voters finished making their selections, resulting in major concerns about the election outcomes.

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Reasons your government wants you miserable

Fear keeps you obedient.

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How the FED controls the govenment and you.

Although originally printed in 1992. This article explains how the Federal Reserve controls the government, media and your money. This is unconstitutional and provides means for the rich to get richer while the lower classes get taxed more and more to pay for it.

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The U.S. Economy: The Second Coming of the Robber Barons?

To get a handle on what is happening to our economy, we may have to look back into history at the Gilded Age. The Gilded Age, from 1870 to 1890, was an era in American history of enormous wealth disparity between the haves and the have-nots. Great wealth was amassed by a few industrialists and financiers, such as Vanderbilt, Rockefeller and

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As Primaries Begin, Federal Election Commission Shuts Down

Bush filled the board with recess appointments that are expiring and the Senate doesn't approve of any Bush nominees. Thank goodness they kept the Senate in session to prevent Bush from using recess appointments again.

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FEMA - The Secret Government- READ THIS, they own you!

exert: "Here are just a few Executive Orders associated with FEMA that would suspend the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. These Executive Orders have been on record for nearly 30 years and could be enacted by the stroke of a Presidential pen"

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Top 10 Stupidest Bush Admin Legal Arguments of 2007

8. The vice president's office is not a part of the executive branch. 5. Everyone who has ever spoken to the president about anything is barred from congressional testimony by executive privilege.

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Vermont town seeks Bush, Cheney arrests for War Crimes

President Bush may soon have a new reason to avoid left-leaning Vermont: In one town, activists want him subject to arrest for war crimes.The measure asks: "Shall the Selectboard instruct the Town Attorney to draft indictments against President Bush and Vice President Cheney for crimes against

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CIA man 'Can Take White House Down'

Former head of the CIA's clandestine service Jose Rodriguez claims he can take the White House down over a torture cover-up scandal. Rodriguez said he may testify before the House Intelligence Committee if he is granted immunity from prosecution, The Sunday Times reported.

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More dollar issues

Dollar Falls Versus Euro for Sixth Day as New Home Sales Drop : The dollar dropped against the euro for a sixth day, the longest decline since October, after a U.S. government report showed sales of new homes fell to a 12-year low last month.

Defaults moving beyond sub-prime: Thought the mortgage meltdown was just a sub-prime affair? Think again. There's another time bomb waiting to explode, experts say: risky loans made to people with good credit.

Housing prices are headed way down: The cold, hard truth is that foreclosures are serving only to hasten the painful process of shifting housing prices back to a level the market can sustain. Prices must and will fall. Everywhere. Probably 25% to 30% from their peak.

Bush Administration Plans to Remove Protection from Colorado's National Forests Forest Service Announces Plan To Remove Protection From Roadless Areas

DENVER (December 26, 2007) – The Bush administration revealed today its intentions to remove existing legal protections from over 4.4 million acres of roadless areas in the national forests of Colorado. The Forest Service formally announced that it is beginning a process to establish a new rule for managing Colorado's roadless areas. The public was given 60 days to submit comments.

The proposal would completely remove roadless protections from approximately 300,000 acres of wild forestlands, and weaken them for the remaining 4.1 million acres. The announcement follows on the heels of last week’s similar announcement that the Forest Service will begin consideration of a plan to open millions of roadless acres in Idaho to industrial development and road building.

“The Bush administration’s actions in Colorado will turn over some of America’s most pristine wildlands to industry exploitation,” said Amy Mall, senior policy analyst with the Natural Resources Defense Council. “This is part of the administration’s latest strategy to erode, state by state, the protections that safeguard our public forests.

“First Idaho, now Colorado, and in a few short weeks the Forest Service plans to release a new management plan allowing roadless area logging in Alaska’s Tongass rainforest, our largest national forest. The pattern is clear -- the Bush Administration is trying to leave our most pristine forestlands open to corporate special interests -- and it is doing it through death by a thousand cuts.

“The Bush Administration has spent almost seven years trying to undo the Roadless Rule. Now, while most people are home enjoying the holidays, the Forest Service is hard at work in a last effort to try to slice-up America’s wildlands one piece at a time.

“These wild areas represent our last, best places that must be preserved for the unique outdoor opportunities, clean drinking water, bountiful wildlife habitat, and sheer majesty they provide to local residents and visitors alike.

“Coloradans and Americans across the country want to make sure these forests are protected from the Bush administration’s last desperate attempts to help their timber, oil and gas, and mining buddies. If the administration succeeds in any of these states, our country stands to lose some of the most vibrant places within our national forests.”

Friday, December 28, 2007

World Trade Organization says piracy is ok in the Caribbean

The WTO has decided that the United States was wrong in preventing Antigua and Barbuda from operating their online gambling sites to the US while also allowing online betting on horse racing--a dual standard. The ruling will allow the two the right to pirate copyrighted US properties up to a value of $21 million in return.

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Richardson to Iowans: Don't let National Media Decide Caucus

Governor Bill Richardson makes his final argument to Iowans highlighting his extensive executive and foreign policy experience, his ability to bring the country together and his plan to remove all American troops from Iraq. Richardson has momentum in Iowa and is in a good position to pull of a huge upset in the Iowa caucuses next week.

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Homegrown terrorism act = Thought Police = Big Brother

The homegrown terrorism bill has passed the House of Rep's, and is in a Senate committee. It represents a huge step towards Big Brother and Orwellianism, but itself does not outlaw anything. This bill must be stopped. The price of Democracy is eternal vigilance.

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Kansas GOP Chair Brags of Vote 'Caging' Efforts, Successes

End of Year Letter Describes Plan to Identify, Challenge Voters in 2008... This is illegal. Call your congress person to ask for prosecution.

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Priests beat the shit out of each other in Bethlehem Brawl

Organized religion is founded on falsehood, hypocrisy and stealing from the middle class to feed the coffers of the rich. This very primal response to something that should have begged the Lord's forgiveness is a prime example of how men are still men even if they pretend that god is telling them what to do- it's their own self interest.

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Make Sure Ron Paul Gets Invited To The Fox Debate

We cannot let it end here! Flood the NH GOP with thousands of emails requesting that Ron Paul may be invited to the Debate.

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Where Your U.S. Taxes Go, 2008

This graph depicts the Presidents budget request for 2008. The center circle is the discretionary budget. Military/National security funding can be found on the left side of the graph. The entire Federal budget is in the bottom right hand corner.

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CIA man 'can take White House down'

Former head of the CIA's clandestine service Jose Rodriguez claims he can take the White House down over a torture cover-up scandal. Rodriguez said he may testify before the House Intelligence Committee if he is granted immunity from prosecution, The Sunday Times reported.

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US Spending More on Military Than Rest of the World Combined

Now imagine the same money going towards health, education, etc.

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Fox News limiting next debate to 'so-called' Top Teir

According to this website, only Rudy, Huck, Mitt, McCain and dead Fred will be on the next Fox debate. Even though Ron Paul is polling higher than Thompson on all national polls. Gonna be a boring debate when everyone agrees.

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Thursday, December 27, 2007

Bush associates still consolidating their hold on US media

Longtime associates of President George W. Bush are consolidating their hold on American media with a string of recent purchases Robert Bass, all attended Yale University where Ed was a classmate and friend of George W. Bush. The brothers later became Bush's number 5 career patrons, as well as business dealings with now President Bush.

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CIA man 'can take White House down'

Former head of the CIA's clandestine service Jose Rodriguez claims he can take the White House down over a torture cover-up scandal. Rodriguez said he may testify before the House Intelligence Committee if he is granted immunity from prosecution, The Sunday Times reported.

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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Scandal: Clinton and Edwards Want to Rig the Debates

Is the Democratic Party trying to limit our choice to candidates who only represent corporate interests by squeezing candidates like Kucinich and Gravel out of the debates? Well, we don’t need to speculate about the intentions of top-tier candidates like Clinton and Edwards anymore, because now we have proof that this is indeed their goal.

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Tape fingers Bush as a war criminal - Times Online

"...this case is more ominous for the administration because it presents a core example of what seems to be a cover-up, obstruction of justice and a direct connection between torture and the president, the vice-president and their closest aides"

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"What kind of pie is that?" the TSA agent demanded

$4.7 billion of taxpayer money is being well spent to protect you.

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Bush Admin. to stop prisoners from talking about torture.

Prisoners should not be allowed to tell even their attorneys about the ways in which they were "interrogated".

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Monday, December 24, 2007

Cheney accused of blocking Californian bid to cut car fumes

The US vice-president, Dick Cheney, was behind a controversial decision to block California's attempt to impose tough emission limits on car manufacturers, according to insiders at the government Environmental Protection Agency.

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The US Dollar: The Long Farewell?

The last time the world went through a change like this, it took over 40 years to complete. Before World War I, the British pound reigned supreme, accounting for 64 percent of the world's currency reserves and 60 percent of all international trade. Britain then impoverished itself in two world wars, but the U.S. dollar did not fully replace the pou

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GOP in CO to use voting machines despite decertifying!

County officials said Wednesday they might move ahead with the November 2008 election using the voting equipment they already own, equipment that was decertified this week by state officials. Secretary of State must sue the county, then commissioners said they are ready for that too.

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The Federal Election Commission will be shut down on Jan 1st

The Federal Election Commission will effectively go dark on Jan. 1 because Congress remains locked in a standoff over the confirmation of President Bush's nominees to the panel. As a consequence, the FEC will enter 2008 with just two of six members -- short of the four votes needed for the commission to take any official action.

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Bush Administration cuts $700 million in Medicaid funds for

Who needs health insurance? Certainly not kids.

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Saturday, December 22, 2007

The FDA's handling of proposed cancer drug defies compassion

On Dec. 13, a trio of bipartisan Congressmen penned a letter calling for an investigation into the FDA's handling recently of a drug that was denied approval for terminal prostate cancer patients. The letter raises serious questions concerning unethical behavior at the FDA and should infuriate every American.

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Senate to Stay in Session to Thwart Bush

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Wednesday that he would keep Congress in session over the holiday break solely to block President Bush from making recess appointments. It was an apt ending to one of the most bitterly partisan congressional sessions in memory.

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Congress considers bill to make radio "pay to play"

While radio does pay a fee to songwriters, it pays no performance rights fee, in contrast to just about every other developed country on the planet. The broadcasters argue that they are providing free advertising to musicians, who then make money from touring and record sales.

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FBI Confiscated $400K from man, who is charged with no crime

2 robbers broke in to Luther RIcks home, one of them stabbed his son. He shot and killed one of them defending his home. Even though the robbers didn't get to the $402,767 that he had in a safe, the FBI refuses to give it back until he proves he made it, because they found marijuana in the home. Even though he has been cleared of all charges!

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Santa Delivers 37,000+ Copies of Constitution to Bush

Kringle hopes the President can find time to read the document and abide by its laws.

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Florida woman tased for 'foul language'

Video shows a woman in a Florida Best Buy being stunned with a taser for using foul language and being loud.

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Bush administration no longer complying with state dept. law

Required to document history, the Bush administration has not published any foreign policy volumes in over a year.

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U.S. Soldiers Stage Mutiny, Refuse Orders in Iraq

An army unit committed mutiny and refused to carry out orders in Iraq.

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Thursday, December 20, 2007

"the United States does not torture" -- George W. Bush

There's rampant speculation on why CIA tapes (evidence of torture) were destroyed. The simplest explanation might be the best: the tapes provided evidence of war crimes and perjury by White House officials. This highly explosive issue is set to blow up in Bush's face and the fallout will be watched closely by Americans and citizens of the world.

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$70 Billion more for wars. Where's the anti-war democrats?

The Democratic-controlled House is expected to give President Bush an end-of-session victory in his yearlong battle with anti-war lawmakers over Iraq by approving $70 billion for U.S. military operations there and in Afghanistan.

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Chertoff To Finalize Satellite-Surveillance Plan...

After delaying a domestic satellite-surveillance program for more than two months, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff expects to finalize a new charter for it this week, a move that attempts to quell civil-liberties concerns and get the program back on track.

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Chertoff plans to turn spy satellites on Americans

Raw Story reports that Homeland Security is preparing to use satellites to observe us here in the US.

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Bush forced to sign Auto Mileage Bill

President Bush, who has said he doesn't believe the government should set arbitrary automobile mileage standards, is signing into law a requirement that motor vehicles meet an average 35 miles per gallon by 2020.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Texas Voting Machines - Rig an Election with 1 Password

The Hart Intercivic voting system, used in at least 16 States, allows anyone with access and a passcode to modify vote totals from an election without leaving any record of the modification. Even worse, the same passcode resides on all machines and in every storage device, waiting to be extracted and exploited.

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When Corporations Rule the World, Bush/Cheney are the Pawns

The real power resides in the corporate oligarchy that runs this country. It has a strangle hold on America. The only point of an election in our two party-one party system is to determine which one carries out the agenda. If we do something about that, we might be able to change something.David Korten, author of "When Corporations Rule the world

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Long before Ron Paul, JFK tried to give us Hard Money.

In other words, if you do a dollar's worth of work and are paid a dollar, but that dollar is invisibly devalued by a dime over the next year, you have been taxed. But when you have a currency that is not backed by anything, it's very easy to conceal that tax by manipulating the money supply.

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Force Congress To Stick To The Constitution

The Enumerated Powers ActIt’s time for Congress to “cite chapter and verse.” When they pass new laws or spend taxpayer money they should be required to point to the specific language in the Constitution that empowers that action. The “Enumerated Powers Act” would require them to do precisely that. Help us bring this bill to a vote.

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Destroying the U.S. Dollar

On Dec. 8, Chinese and French news services reported that Iran had stopped billing its oil exports in dollars.

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US Military: All Iraqi sects Blame US invading for violence

All Iraqis ethnic groups blame the invasion for violence in Iraq, and believe the occupation must end before there will be peace according to US military commissioned focus groups. Every other poll of Iraqis has shown the same thing, but you wouldn't know it listening to the leadership of either party in Washington, DC.

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Article on Presidential War Powers, Why Bush IS WRONG!

This is a great article on on the real limitation to the presidential war powers. Our country is going down the drain for these warmongering. Republicans and Democrats take us to war. We need someone who will follow the rules!

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Bush Claims to Know What the American People Want

I don't remember ever wanting to send my tax dollars to Iraq or anywhere else, and if Bush seriously wanted to do what I want, he would bring our troops home before one more of our military personnel dies in a place he or she should never have been s

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The World's Largest Banks Are Now Trapped

The economic losses are gigantic and will grow. The trickle of bad news is going to become a flood over the next year.

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20 Hidden Ways the Iraq War is Affecting the US Dollar

December 18th, 2007

The Iraq war has affected the personal and political lives of many people around the world, but its influence doesn’t stop there. The Iraq war has had a profound effect on the dollar, too. Here, we’ll take a look at 20 reasons why.

1. Dollar deficit: The Iraq war has been and continues to be very expensive. This makes it difficult, if not impossible, for the federal budget to keep up. As a result, the government is forced to take loans from foreign lenders and print more paper money. As these practices continue, the dollar’s value slips away.
2. Losing market players: As the dollar continues to fall in reaction to budget deficits stemming from the war in Iraq, market players are losing money on their investment. When this happens, the dollar becomes a less attractive vehicle for investment. It is likely that other countries may grow weary of losing as the dollar falls, and will turn to euros for more stability.
3. Avoiding confrontation: In 2006, Syria switched all of its foreign currency transactions from dollars to euros. Perhaps taking notes from Iraq, this move was made to protect them against any confrontation with the US, as US laws require that all dollar transactions have to pass through the US banking system. Iraq made a similar decision in 2000, opting to sell Iraqi oil in euros. Syria’s move to euros is designed to keep their foreign assets safer, avoiding a situation in which they’d be frozen during conflict with the US. The decreased use of the dollar affects demand of it, and thus, the dollar’s value.
4. The domino effect: With Syria jumping ship on the dollar, it’s not a stretch to imagine that others may follow suit. As other countries see the conflict that the US and Iraq are involved in, they may begin to think the same way Syria has, and decide to protect themselves against potential monetary tie-ups with the US. So far, the list of countries who have converted, or are considering converting, to the euro includes North Korea, Venezuela, and Iran.
5. OPEC: Countries aren’t the only ones that could drop the dollar. OPEC has expressed interest in switching to the euro as the standard for oil transactions. This is a major problem, as oil-consuming economies would have to get rid of their dollars, causing a serious drop in both the use and value of the dollar.
6. Overspending: As with any budget, heavy spending in one area means that other areas have to be cut back. With the Iraq war, this spending keeps money out of economy-supporting actions that could help prop up the dollar’s value.
7. Energy shift: Iraq is often pointed to as an example of the problems foreign oil dependence creates. As Americans grow weary of these issues, interest in alternative energy grows as well. With the expansion of these largely domestic industries, the American economy becomes more self-sufficient, a move that is good for closing the gap on the trade deficit and good for the dollar’s value.
8. Interest: Ultimately, the economic trouble caused by Iraq makes it difficult to attract investors. In order to keep the rate of investment stable, the US is forced to attract buyers with higher interest rates, a move that creates inflation and trouble for the dollar. Although in recent months, the Fed has cut rates, this practice is not sustainable.
9. Price of oil: Iraq has lost more than $25 billion in oil revenues. Oil in jeopardy creates energy cost inflation, which creates higher costs for any country that uses oil, a list that the US is most certainly on. Energy cost inflation hurts all currencies, and the dollar in particular.
10. Stock market: At one point, the Iraq war was reported to have cost the US stock market $1.1 trillion. These losses came from consumer goods, airlines, technology companies, and others that depend on discretionary spending. Losses in the stock market do not bode well for the dollar, as a stock market slide creates dollar weakness and could cause a downward spiral of US asset liquidation that puts pressure on the dollar and perepetuates itself.
11. Constant foreign policy debate: As Congress debates the future of the war in Iraq, the dollar looks less and less like a safe bet. Regardless of the outcome, any major policy change in Congress creates nervousness for investors. Of course, that doesn’t mean that outcome doesn’t matter: if investors feel like US policy is headed in the right direction, they feel more comfortable investing in dollar-denominated assets. But generally speaking, investors are wary of a foreign policy and subsequent economy that’s subject to new policies.
12. US contractors: Although the war in Iraq has a generally negative effect on the US economy, it is a boom for major contractors like Halliburton, Lockheed-Martin and Bechtel. As these companies execute government contracting in Iraq, they’re reaping record profits at home, which fuels the economy with jobs and productivity, as well as the success of the dollar.
13. Perception: Just about everything that has to do with dollar support depends upon favorable perception of the US. Unfortunately for the dollar, as the world drops support of the war with Iraq, support of the dollar suffers right along with it. Larry Greenberg of Ried Thunberg & Co. reflects, “It’s hard for me to believe that the flow of capital cannot help but be affected by how the US is perceived around the world.” By going against world opinion, dollar-denominated assets will be devalued.
14. Turmoil and stability: Generally speaking, investors flock towards safe bets. When a country is in turmoil, investors will move away from it and towards countries that show more stability. As the US remains intertwined with Iraq, it chips away at our stability and scares off investors, causing the dollar’s value to drop when they invest in the assets of other currencies, or even sell the dollar-denominated assets they currently have.
15. Military overextension: Spreading our troops out halfway around the world is clearly a costly endeavor. This strains the dollar in a number of ways, ranging from the federal deficit to a loss of quality employees for the workforce.
16. Consumer spending: Fear keeps people from spending, as they’re more likely to hang on to money “just in case” for the future. When consumers don’t spend, however, our economy slows and puts pressure on the dollar.
17. Uncertainty: Conflict in Iraq, or anywhere for that matter, breeds uncertainty in the markets. It creates political change, huge spending, fear of terrorism, and takes attention away from economic positives like corporate profits. This all adds up to an investment attitude that’s more “wait-and-see” than free-flowing, a situation that hurts the dollar.
18. A flood of dollars: In 2004, nearly $12 billion was flown into Iraq, and through various means, was effectively lost. This flood of lost dollars cannot be good for the value of the dollar, as this clearly is a factor in inflation of the currency.
19. Trade deficit: As the price of oil surges in response to the Iraq war, the price of our imports goes sky-high. This creates an even larger gap in our trade deficit, a factor that devalues the dollar.
20. Presidential popularity: Although a direct correlation is debated, the popularity of US presidents is often an indicator for the strength of the dollar. Bush’s popularity has undeniably faltered from the Iraq war, and could spell trouble for the dollar. Ultimately, investors look for a strong, respected US leader when putting their faith in the dollar, and Iraq has tarnished that image for Bush.

It’s clear that the Iraq war is having a negative effect on the dollar. Investors should keep an eye on developments in the future of the war to consider how the dollar will be affected both in the near and long term.

Former GOP Operative Tells Of Rigging 2002 Election

WASHINGTON - A former GOP political operative who ran an illegal election-day scheme to jam the phone lines of New Hampshire Democrats during the state's tight 2002 U.S. Senate election said in a new book and an interview that he believes the scandal reaches higher into the Republican Party.

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Is Bush Sr. Admitting That His Son Screwed-Up America?

Bush Sr. is willing to go “on an around-the-world mission to repair the damage done to America’s reputation by the current president — Bush’s son, George W. Bush”

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WKRP -- the Turkey episode

"Bush's Foreign Policy Is in Free Fall"

Former US Diplomat John Bolton is no longer in office, but he still has a lot to say about American foreign policy. SPIEGEL spoke to him about Bush's softness abroad, Rice having been taken hostage by the liberal State Department, and why it doesn't matter that the world hates the US.

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Colorado Decertifies E-voting Machines

"On December 17, Colorado Secretary of State Mike Coffman decertified election equipment used by 64 Colorado counties, including machines made by Premier Election Solutions, formerly known as Diebold Election Systems. A report issued by the Secretary of State's office details a myriad of problems such as lack of password protection on the systems, controls that could give voters unauthorized access, and the absence of any way to track or detect security violations. Manufacturers have 30 days to appeal the decertification."

FCC Ignores Public, Relaxes Media Ownership

"Ignoring Congressional and public comments, the FCC voted to relax ownership rules that have prevented broadcasters from owning newspapers in the nation's 20 largest media markets. After holding several public hearings that overwhelmingly opposed the relaxation of the rules, and Congressional hearing where Democrats and Republicans (even Ted 'Tubes' Stevens) voiced opposition to the move, the FCC voted 3 to 2 to relax ownership. On the same day the FCC voted 3 to 2 (by a different split) to cap the size of any cable company at 30% of the nationwide market, a limit Comcast is up against."

More Dollar problems

Shopping giant falls as US crisis hits home: AUSTRALIA'S second-biggest shopping centre owner has joined the RAMS home loans provider as a casualty of the global liquidity crisis.

Greenspan Favors Government Bailout for Homeowners: Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said he favors spending government money to rescue Americans who are at risk of losing their homes because they can't make mortgage payments

FHA Secure Flop. Only 266 Borrowers Have Been Assisted!: When it was announced, FHA had estimated that would assist approximately 80,000 borrowers.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Vulnerable US economy at risk of recession: analysts

THE chairman of the investment bank Morgan Stanley's Asian arm, Stephen Roach, had declared the US economy is headed towards recession and the rest of the world should be worried about the consequences.

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Bush sees 'storm clouds' over US economy (brilliant!)

US President George W. Bush on Monday said the US economy was basically strong but warned of "storm clouds" in the form of a credit crunch and what may be a bursting housing bubble.

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Senators threaten to revoke FCC over media ownership vote

A bipartisan group of U.S. senators threatened on Monday to override the Federal Communications Commission if the agency votes to loosen media ownership restrictions at a meeting scheduled for Tuesday.

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CO Bans E-Voting Machines After Failed Testing!

All Voting Systems by ES&S Completely Decertified; DRE Touch-Screens from Sequoia Banned; Optical-Scan Paper Systems by Hart InterCivic Banned; All Systems by Diebold/Premier Conditionally Allowed for Use! SoS Admits Federal Certification Process, Now Overseen by Former CO SoS on Behalf of EAC, 'Has Been Very Weak to Date'...

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Freddie Mac Loses $2B, Throws Party, Needs Taxpayer Bailout

Freddie Mac plans to lose another $2B next quarter. To celebrate, they threw a decadent holiday party at the Ritz Carlton with hors d'oeuvres, entertainment, the whole bit. You'd think it was the Goldman Sachs partners dinner. Alas, it was a Government Sponsored Enterprise pissing away money right before they're going to need a taxpayer bailout.

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Media a No-Show at Ron Paul's Money Bomb Press Conference

After raising more money in a single day than any other presidential candidate in history--over $6 mil.--the media has ignored the news to the point that hardly anyone showed up to Ron Paul's press conference today on yesterday's historic money bomb. Just ask yourself: if anyone else had raised $6 mil. in a single day would no one have showed up?

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US Army loses another 12,000 guns and trucks

The US military in Iraq has lost track of another 12,000 weapons, including more than 800 machine-guns, and everything from 2100 new electricity generators to half a dozen garbage trucks.The latest gap in record-keeping follows a report by the US government's accountability office in the summer which revealed that 190,000 Kalashnikov assault rifle

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Russian Iran Nuclear Fuel Delivery Proves WMD Charges Bogus

more evidence that Bush and Cheney trade in lies and fraud to trump up war and continuation of the occupation in Iraq

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The Coming Collapse Of The Modern Banking System

Staring Into the Abyss
By Mike Whitney

Stocks fell sharply last week on news of accelerating inflation which will limit the Federal Reserves ability to continue cutting interest rates. On Tuesday the Dow Jones Industrials tumbled 294 points following the Fed's announcement of a quarter point cut to the Fed Funds rate. On Friday, the Dow dipped another 178 points when government figures showed consumer prices had risen 0.8 per cent last month after a 0.3 per cent gain in October. The stock market is now lurching downward into a "primary bear market". There has been a steady deterioration in retail sales, commercial real estate, and the transports. The financial industry is going through a major retrenchment, losing more than 25 per cent in aggregate capitalization since July. The real estate market is collapsing. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced on Friday that he will declare a "fiscal emergency" in January and ask for more power to deal with the $14 billion budget shortfall from the meltdown in subprime lending.
Economists are beginning to publicly acknowledge what many market analysts have suspected for months; the nation's economy is going into a tailspin.
Morgan Stanley's Asia Chairman, Stephen Roach, made this observation in a New York Times op-ed on Sunday:
This recession will be deeper than the shallow contraction earlier in this decade. The dot-com-led downturn was set off by a collapse in business capital spending, which at its peak in 2000 accounted for only 13 percent of the country's gross domestic product. The current recession is all about the coming capitulation of the American consumer - whose spending now accounts for a record 72 percent of G.D.P.
Most people have no idea how grave the present situation is or the disaster the country will face if trillions of dollars of over-leveraged bonds and equities begin to unwind. There's a widespread belief that the stewards of the system - Bernanke and Paulson - can somehow steer the economy through this "rough patch" into calm waters. But they cannot, and the presumption shows a basic misunderstanding of how markets work. The Fed has no magical powers and will not allow itself to be crushed by standing in the path of a market-avalanche. As foreclosures and bankruptcies increase; stocks will crash and the fed will step aside to safety.
In the last few weeks, Bernanke and Paulson have tried a number of strategies that have failed. Paulson concocted a plan to help the major investment banks consolidate and repackage their nonperforming mortgage-backed junk into a "Super SIV" to give them another chance to unload their bad investments on the public. The plan was nothing more than a public relations ploy which has already been abandoned by most of the key participants. Paulson's involvement is a real black eye for the Dept of the Treasury. It makes it look like he's willing to dupe investors as long as it helps his d Wall Street buddies.
Paulson also put together an "industry friendly" rate freeze that is supposed to help struggling homeowners avoid foreclosure. But the plan falls well short of providing any meaningful aid to the estimated 3.5 million homeowners who are facing the prospect of defaulting on their loans if they don't get government assistance. Recent estimates by industry experts say that Paulson's plan will only help 140,000 mortgage holders, leaving millions of others to fend for themselves. Paulson has proved over and over that he is just not up to the task of confronting an economic challenge of this magnitude head-on.
Fed chief Bernanke hasn't done much better than Paulson. His three-quarter point cut to the Fed's Funds rate hasn't lowered interest rates on mortgages, stimulated greater home sales, stabilized the stock market or helped banks deal with their massive debt-load. It's been a flop from start to finish. All it's done is weaken the dollar and trigger a wave of inflation. In fact, government figures now show energy prices are rising at 18.1 per cent annually. Bernanke is apparently following Lenin's supposed injunction ­ though there's no conclusive evidence he actually said it -- that "the best way to destroy the Capitalist System is to debauch the currency."
On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve initiated a "coordinated effort" with the Bank of Canada, the Bank of England, the European Central Bank, the and the Swiss National Bank to address the "elevated pressures in short-term funding of the markets." The Fed issued a statement that "it will make up to $24 billion available to the European Central Bank (ECB) and Swiss National Bank to increase the supply of dollars in Europe." (Bloomberg) The Fed will also add as much as $40 billion, via auctions, to increase cash in the U.S. Bernanke is trying to loosen the knot that has tightened Libor (London Interbank Offered Rate) rates in England and reduced lending between banks. The slowdown is hobbling growth and could send the world into a recessionary spiral. Bernanke's "master plan" is little more than a cash giveaway to sinking banks. It has scant chance of succeeding. The Fed is offering $.85 on the dollar for mortgage-backed securities (MBSs) and collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) that sold last week in the E*Trade liquidation for $.27 on the dollar. At the same time, the Fed has promised to keep the identities of the banks that are borrowing these emergency funds secret from the public. The Fed is conducting its business like a bookie.
Unfortunately, the Fed bailout has achieved nothing. Libor rates---which are presently at seven-year highs---have not come down at all. This is causing growing concern among the leaders of the Central Banks around the world, but there's really nothing they can do about it. The banks are hoarding cash to meet their capital requirements. They are trying to compensate for the loss of value to their (mortgage-backed) assets by increasing their reserves. At the same time, the system is clogged with trillions of dollars of bad paper which has brought lending to a halt. The huge injections of liquidity from the Fed have done nothing to improve lending or lower interbank rates. It's been a flop. The market is driving interest rates now. If the situation persists, the stock market will crash.
Staring Into the Abyss
One of Britain's leading economists, Peter Spencer, issued a warning on Saturday:
The Government must suspend a set of key banking regulations at the heart of the current financial crisis or risk seeing the economy spiral towards a future that could make 1929 look like a walk in the park.
Spencer is right. The banks don't have the money to loan to businesses or consumers because they're trying to raise more cash to meet their capital requirements on assets that continue to be downgraded. (The Fed may pay $.85 on the dollar, but investors are unwilling to pay anything at all.)Spencer correctly assumes that the reason the banks have stopped lending is not because they "distrust" other banks, but because they are capital-strapped from all their "off balance" sheets shenanigans. If the Basel regulations aren't modified, money markets will remain frozen, GDP will shrink, and there'll be a wave of bank closings.
Spencer said:
The Bank is staring into the abyss. The Financial Services Authority must go round and check that all banks are solvent, and then it should cut the Basel capital requirement level from 8pc to about 6pc. ("Call to Relax Basel Banking Rules, UK Telegraph)
Spencer confirms what we already knew; the banks are seriously under-capitalized and will come under growing pressure as hundreds of billions of dollars of mortgage-backed securities (MBSs) and collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) continue to lose value and have to be propped up with additional capital. The banks simply don't have the resources and there's going to be a day of reckoning.
Pimco's Bill Gross put it like this: "What we are witnessing is essentially the breakdown of our modern day banking system." Gross is right, but he only covers a small portion of the problem.
The economist Ludwig von Mises is more succinct in his analysis:
There is no means of avoiding the final collapse of a boom brought on by credit expansion. The question is only whether the crisis should come sooner as a result of a voluntary abandonment of further credit expansion, or later as a final and total catastrophe of the currency system involved.
The basic problem originated with the Federal Reserve when former Fed chief Alan Greenspan lowered interest rates below the rate of inflation for 31 months straight which pumped trillions of dollars of low interest credit into the financial system and ignited a speculative frenzy in real estate. Greenspan has spent a great deal of time lately trying to avoid any blame for the catastrophe he created. He is a first-rate "buck passer". In Wednesday's Wall Street Journal, Greenspan scribbled out a 1,500-word defense of his actions as head of the Federal Reserve, pointing the finger at everything from China's "low cost workforce" to "the fall of the Berlin Wall". The essay was typical Greenspan gibberish. In his trademark opaque language; Greenspan tiptoes through the well-documented facts of his tenure as Fed chief to absolve himself of any personal responsibility for the ensuing disaster.
Greenspan's apologia is a masterpiece of circuitous logic, deliberate evasion and utter denial of reality. He says:
I do not doubt that a low U.S. federal-funds rate in response to the dot-com crash, and especially the 1 per cent rate set in mid-2003 to counter potential deflation, lowered interest rates on adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) and may have contributed to the rise in U.S. home prices. In my judgment, however, the impact on demand for homes financed with ARMs was not major.
"Not major"? 3.5 million potential foreclosures, 11-month inventory backlog, plummeting home prices, an entire industry in terminal distress pulling down the global economy is not major?
But Greenspan is partially correct. The troubles in housing cannot be entirely attributed to the Fed's "cheap credit" monetary policies. They were also nursed along by a Doctrine of Deregulation which has permeated US capital markets since the Reagan era. Greenspan's views on how markets should function were -- to great extent -- shaped by this non-interventionist/non-supervisory ideology which has created enormous equity bubbles and imbalances. The former-Fed chief's support for adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) and subprime lending shows that Greenspan thought of himself as more as a cheerleader for the big market-players than an impartial referee whose job was to monitor reckless or unethical behavior.
Greenspan also adds this revealing bit of information in his article:
The value of equities traded on the world's major stock exchanges has risen to more than $50 trillion, double what it was in 2002. Sharply rising home prices erupted into major housing bubbles world-wide, Japan and Germany (for differing reasons) being the only principal exceptions." ("The Roots of the Mortgage Crisis", Alan Greenspan, Wall Street Journal)
This admission proves Greenspan's culpability. If he knew that stock prices had doubled their value in just 3 years, then he also knew that equities had not risen due to increases in productivity or demand.(market forces) The only reasonable explanation for the asset inflation, therefore, was monetary policy. As his own mentor, Milton Friedman famously stated, "Inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon". Any capable economist would have known that the explosion in housing and equities prices was a sign of uneven inflation. Now that the bubble has popped, inflation is spreading like mad through the entire economy.
Greenspan is a very sharp man. It is crazy to think he didn't know what was going on. This is basic economic theory. Of course he knew why stocks and housing prices were skyrocketing. He was the one who put the dominoes in motion with the help of his printing press.
But Greenspan's low interest credit is only part of the equation. The other part has to do with way that the markets have been transformed by "structured finance".
What's so destructive about structured finance is that it allows the banks to create credit "out of thin air", stripping the Fed of its role as controller of the money supply. David Roache explains how this works in an excerpt from his book "New Monetarism" which appeared in the Wall Street Journal:
The reason for the exponential growth in credit, but not in broad money, was simply that banks didn't keep their loans on their books any more-and only loans on bank balance sheets get counted as money. Now, as soon as banks made a loan, they "securitized" it and moved it off their balance sheet.
There were two ways of doing this. One was to sell the securitized loan as a bond. The other was "synthetic" securitization: for example, using derivatives to get rid of the default risk (with credit default swaps) and lock in the interest rate due on the loan (with interest-rate swaps). Both forms of securitization meant that the lending bank was free to make new loans without using up any of its lending capacity once its existing loans had been "securitized."
So, to redefine liquidity under what I call New Monetarism, one must add, to the traditional definition of broad money, all the credit being created and moved off banks' balance sheets and onto the balance sheets of nonbank financial intermediaries. This new form of liquidity changed the very nature of the credit beast. What now determined credit growth was risk appetite: the readiness of companies and individuals to run their businesses with higher levels of debt. (Wall Street Journal)
The banks have been creating trillions of dollars of credit (by originating mortgage-backed securities, collateralized debt obligations and asset-backed commercial paper) without maintaining the proportional capital reserves to back them up. That explains why the banks were so eager to provide mortgages to millions of loan applicants who had no documentation, no income, no collateral and a bad credit history. They believed there was no risk, because they were making enormous profits without tying up any of their capital. It was, quite literally, money for nothing.
Now, unfortunately, the mechanism for generating new loans (and fees) has broken down. The main sources of bank revenue have either been seriously curtailed or dried up entirely. (Mortgage-backed) Commercial paper (ABCP) one such source of revenue, has decreased by a full-third (or $400 billion) in just 17 weeks. Also, the securitization of mortgage-backed securities is DOA. The market for MBSs and CDOs and other complex bonds has followed the Pterodactyl into the history books. The same is true of structured investment vehicles (SIVs) and other "off balance-sheet" swindles which have either gone under entirely or are presently withering with every savage downgrade in mortgage-backed bonds. The mighty juggernaut that was grinding out the hefty profits ("structured investments") has suddenly reversed and is crushing everything in its path.
The banks don't have the reserves to cover their downgraded assets and the Federal Reserve cannot simply "monetize" their bad bets. There's no way out. There are bound to be bankruptcies and bank runs. "Structured finance" has usurped the Fed's authority to create new credit and handed it over to the banks.
Now everyone will pay the price.
Investors have lost their appetite for risk and are steering clear of anything connected to real estate or mortgage-backed bonds. That means that an estimated $3 trillion of securitized debt (CDOs, MBSs and ASCP) will come crashing to earth delivering a violent blow to the economy.
It's not just the banks that will take a beating. As Professor Nouriel Roubini points out, the broker dealers, the investment banks, money market funds, hedge funds and mortgage lenders are in the crosshairs as well.
Non-bank institutions do not have direct access to the Fed and other central banks liquidity support and they are now at risk of a liquidity run as their liabilities are short term while many of their assets are longer term and illiquid; so the risk of something equivalent to a bank run for non-bank financial institutions is now rising. And there is no chance that depository institutions will re-lend to these to these non-banks the funds borrowed by central banks as these banks have severe liquidity problems themselves and they do not trust their non-bank counterparties. So now monetary policy is totally impotent in dealing with the liquidity problems and the risks of runs on liquid liabilities of a large fraction of the financial system. (Nouriel Roubini's Global EconoMonitor)
As the downgrades on CDOs and MBSs continue to accelerate, there'll likely be a frantic "flight to cash" by investors, just like the recent surge into US Treasuries. This could well be followed by a series of spectacular bank and non-bank defaults. The trillions of dollars of "virtual capital" that were miraculously created through securitzation when the market was buoyed-along by optimism will vanish in a flash when the market is driven by fear. In fact, the equity bubble has already been punctured and the process is well underway.

Police State America - A Look Back and Ahead

By Stephen Lendman

Year end is a good time to look back and reflect on what's ahead. If past is prologue, however, the outlook isn't good, and nothing on the horizon suggests otherwise. Voters last November wanted change but got betrayal from the bipartisan criminal class in Washington. Their attitude shows in an October Reuters/Zogby (RZ) opinion poll with George Bush at 24% that tops Richard Nixon's worst showing of 25% at his lowest 1974 Watergate point. And if that looks bad, consider Congress with "The Hill" reporting from the same RZ Index that our legislators scored a "staggering 11%, the lowest (congressional) rating in history," but there's room yet to hit bottom and a year left to do it. Why not with lawmakers' consistent voter sellout and failure record that keeps getting worse.
It's been that way ever since 9/11 with both sides of the aisle complicit with the administration. This article looks back at the record, and year end is a good time to review it. It's hard imagining another as bad with a President defiling the law and once telling Republican colleagues the Constitution is "just a goddamned piece of paper."
He didn't just say it. He governs by it, gets away with it, and former Defense Department analyst Daniel Ellsberg, of Pentagon Papers fame, says "a coup has occurred (with another to come from) the next 9/11....that completes the first (that's) seen a steady assault on every fundamental (aspect) of our Constitution (to create) an executive government (to) rule by decree" no different from a police state.
Author Naomi Wolf spells it out in her April, 2007 Guardian article - "Fascist America, In 10 Easy Steps." In it, she argues the Bush administration is following the same script any "would-be dictator must take to destroy constitutional freedoms," and she lists them. They range from "invoking a terrifying internal and external enemy" to "creat(ing) a gulag" to spying on everyone to harassing opposition to controlling the media to calling dissent treason to "suspend(ing) the rule of law." She also notes how much "simpler" it is to shut down democracy than "to create and sustain" it, and that's today's threat.
It's not with jackboots in the streets but by a steady "process of erosion" with the public largely unaware and distracted by media mind manipulators. It's happening today, and Wolf sounds the alarm with the words of James Madison saying "The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same the definition of tyranny," and that's the condition now in America. This article reviews the record for the past seven years. It's not pretty.
Even the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, (unlike every Pope in memory) condemned it in a wide-ranging UK Muslim magazine interview. It was quoted in a November 25 Sunday Times column headlined "US is 'worst' imperialist" and wields its power more reprehensibly than Britain ever did in its heyday. He explained that American overseas adventurism led to "the worst of all worlds" and expressed pessimism about the current state of western civilization and Washington's own misguided sense of mission.
He critiqued the "war on terror" and stated America lost the moral high ground post-9/11 and needs to launch a "generous and intelligent programme of aid to the (nations it) ravaged;....check (its) economic exploitation of defeated territories" and demilitarize them. He called the West fundamentally adrift and our "definition of humanity (isn't) working." He denounced America's violence and belief it can solve problems left for "other people (to clean up and) put....back together - Iraq, for example." Another is the condition at home.
Since taking office in January, 2001, George Bush signed a blizzard of Executive Orders and attached dozens of "signing statements" to hundreds of law provisions even though nothing in the Constitution allows this practice, and the Supreme Court banned line-item vetos. He continues to do it while Congress and the courts condone his claiming unconstitutional "unitary executive" authority to ignore the law and do as he pleases in the name of "national security" on his say alone.
It began on 9/11 when George Bush addressed the nation and declared a "war on terrorism," asked for world support to win it, and began what became "our government's emergency (preventive war strategy) response plans." The scheme was to ignore the law, go to war, and destroy our civil liberties to keep us safe from "rogue states, 'bad guys,' and evil-doers" throughout an "arc of instability" from the South American Andean region (mainly Colombia) to North Africa through the Middle East to the Philippines, Indonesia and elsewhere in Asia. Congress as well acted right out of the box with two audacious resolutions that surrendered its authority to the executive, allowed him to proceed, and signaled what would come.
The first one came September 18, 2001 in a joint "House-Senate Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF)" that authorized "the use of United States Armed Forces against those responsible for the recent attacks launched against the United States." A second followed in the October, 2002 "Joint Resolution to Authorize the Use of the United States Armed Forces Against Iraq," and the rest is history. This article reviews other key congressional legislation to the present along with George Bush's blatant abuse of presidential power.
His first action came November 13, 2001 when he issued Military Order Number 1 that one analyst called a "coup d'etat," and "watershed moment in (the) country," that was a hint of what would follow. This order violated the spirit and letter of a civil society under constitutional law with a firewall separating it from the military. No longer, and it got worse later on when its provisions resurfaced by act of Congress. That's discussed below. First, Military Order Number 1 and what's in it:
-- it let the President usurp authority to capture, kidnap or otherwise arrest any non-citizens (and later citizens as well) anywhere in the world if he claims they're involved in international terrorism and to hold them indefinitely without charge, evidence or allowing them due process in a court of law.
-- however, IF trials are allowed, they would be by special ad hoc "military commissions," not civil courts and in secret, with evidence obtained by torture allowed, those found guilty given no right of appeal, and they can be secretly executed.
-- no civil court has authority in these cases even if victims are identified and legal counsel wishes to represent them.
Few knew then that on November 13, 2001 US citizens lost their civil liberties, but that would come out later on. It's still ongoing with Congress and the courts complicit in the willful destruction of our democracy that was already on life support. Today, it's gone.
Use of National Security ((NSPDs) and Homeland Security Presidential Directives (HSPDs)
In the Bush administration, NSPDs replaced the Presidential Decision and Review Directives under Bill Clinton and others under different names since the Kennedy administration began the practice. Earlier ones remain in force unless superseded. They're much like Executive Orders (EOs) with the "full force and effect of law," relate to national security, and for that reason remain classified unless or until made public. In seven years, George Bush issued dozens of NSPD's that are too many to review as well as over 20 Homeland Security Presidential Directives (HSPDs). A few key ones are discussed below.
The October 25, 2001 NSPD-9 deserves special note and was titled "Defeating the Terrorist Threat to the United States." On March 23, 2004, Donald Rumsfeld gave this explanation of its classified contents to the 9/11 Commission:
-- "To eliminate the Al Queda network;
-- To use all elements of national power to do so -- diplomatic, military, economic, intelligence, information and law enforcement;
-- To eliminate sanctuaries for Al Queda and related terrorist networks -- and if diplomatic efforts to do so failed, to consider additional measures."
On April 1, 2004, the White House released this statement on the directive:
The NSPD called on the Secretary of Defense to plan for military options "against Taliban targets in Afghanistan, including leadership, command-control, air and air defense, ground forces, and logistics (along with similar efforts) against Al Queda and associated terrorist facilities in Afghanistan."
Here's the problem. The administration adopted these measures on September 4, 2001, seven days before 9/11. George Bush then signed them into binding law in NSPD-9 on October 25, 2001 to conceal when they originated.
Other important NSPDs relate to:
-- combatting WMDs;
-- developing and deploying an anti-ballistic missile defense that's for offense, not defense;
-- biodefense;
-- deploying nuclear weapons and domestic nuclear detection;
-- the Iraq war;
-- a national space policy as part of the goal for "full spectrum dominance" over all land, surface and sub-surface sea, air, space, electromagnetic spectrum and information systems to deter any domestic or foreign threat or challenge to our global hegemony; and,
There's one other crucially important combined NSPD-HSPD:
NSPD-51/HSPD-20 on April 4, 2007 - National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive
This is a combined directive from the White House and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to establish "Continuity of Government (COG)" procedures under a "Castastrophic Emergency" defined as follows:
"any incident (such as a terrorist attack), regardless of location, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the US population, infrastructure, environment, economy, or government functions."
COG is then defined as:
''a coordinated effort within the Federal Government's executive branch to ensure that National Essential Functions continue to be performed during a Catastrophic Emergency."
Crucial to understand is that this combined directive gives the President and DHS unprecendented powers free from constitutional constraints. Under NSPD-51, the President can declare a "national emergency" and declare martial law without congressional approval. It allows him to create a de facto militarized police state with him as dictator and DHS as a national Gestapo to an even greater degree than it is already. It also empowers the Vice-President to implement the directives' provisions as part of the "Continuity of Government" plan that in the case of Dick Cheney gives him even more power than George Bush the way this administration operates. This combined directive alone is the face of "police state America" in real time if it's implemented, and it wasn't likely enacted as window dressing. But there's lots more besides.
Other HSPDs relate to:
-- combatting "immigrant terrorism;"
-- a national response plan to domestic incidents;
-- critical infrastructure identification, prioritization, and protection;
-- national preparedness;
-- comprehensive terrorist-related screening procedures;
-- domestic nuclear detection; and others.
Congressional Legislation After 9/11
Post-9/11, Congress acted in lockstep with the President and continues to pass laws any despot would love. Written, on the shelf, and ready to go long before 9/11, the USA Patriot Act was passed and signed by the president 45 days later on October 26, 2001. The legislative process capitalized on a window of hysteria to grant unchecked powers to the executive but created three grave civil liberties threats in the process:
-- the erosion of Fifth and Fourteen Amendment due process rights by permitting indefinite detentions of undocumented immigrants that can now apply to anyone anywhere in the world; more on that below;
-- the First Amendment loss of freedom of association that the Supreme Court considers an essential part of free expression; now anyone may be charged and prosecuted because of his or her claimed association with an "undesirable group;" and
-- loss of the Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, and as a consequence, the loss of privacy; the Act grants the administration unchecked surveillance powers to access personal records; monitor financial transactions; student records; conduct "sneak and peak" searches through "delayed notice" warrants; authorize roving wiretaps; track emails, internet and cell phone use; use secret evidence in prosecutions; deny immigrants the right to counsel if they're unable to get their own; and ends built-in safeguards to let domestic criminal and foreign intelligence operations share information so CIA can now spy domestically.
The Act also creates the federal crime of "domestic terrorism" that broadens the definition and applies to US citizens as well as aliens. It states criminal law violations are considered domestic terrorist acts if they aim to "influence (government policy) by intimidation or coercion (or) intimidate or coerce a civilian population." By this definition, anti-war or global justice demonstrations, environmental activism, civil disobedience and dissent of any kind may be called "domestic terrorism." The Patriot Act was just for starters. Much more was ahead with a bipartisan Congress acting like a gift that keeps on giving and the President loving it.
The Homeland Security Act (HSA) of November 25, 2002 followed as a sweeping new anti-terrorism bill, and like the Patriot Act, was planned long before 9/11. It created the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) by combining previously separate government agencies under this new authority to prepare for, prevent and respond to domestic emergencies and give the federal government broad new powers to protect the nation within and outside our borders. In March, 2003, its largest investigative and enforcement arm was then established - the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE). It was charged with protecting public safety by identifying and targeting "criminal" and "terrorist" threats to the country who in most cases are NAFTA and globalized trade victims here out of need, not choice, and who aren't terrorists.
DHS is part of the administration's plan to centralize unprecedented military and law enforcement power in the executive branch that aims for greater global dominance - to rule the world unchallenged including repressively at home by suppressing civil liberties in the name of "national security." DHS and USA Patriot Act are two frightening measures to do it.
DHS is insidious. It encroaches on local authority by "mandat(ing) federal supervision, funding, and coordination of 'local first responders.' " This refers to police and "emergency personnel" comprising local law enforcement. The Homeland Security Act (HSA) doesn't mandate local control. Instead, it provides coordination and guidance as a first step measure with more to come. That's why US Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) was established in October, 2002 as an unprecedented move to militarize the mainland plus Alaska, Canada, Mexico, Gulf of Mexico and Straits of Florida and, for the first time ever, allow troops to be deployed on US streets to counter drugs, an "insurrection" loosely defined, and combat crimes with nuclear, chemical or biological weapons. In other words, the President may now deploy military forces on US streets in the interest of "national security." This power is unprecedented and dangerous.
So is another affecting everyone. It's largely below the radar since it was was scheduled to be fully operational in late September, 2006. It's the Pentagon's New Offensive Strike Plan called the Joint Functional Component Command for Global Strike and Integration - or simply Global Strike Command. It grew out of the 2002 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) that was updated more belligerently in early 2006. NPR is a declaration of preventive war on any nation, group or force anywhere on earth the administration calls a "national security" threat and could be used by NORTHCOM against US-based targets along with a HSA crackdown if martial law is declared.
HSA goes further still by creating a sweeping domestic intelligence agency called the Directorate of Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection. It's to create and maintain an all-inclusive intrusive public and private information data base on everyone. It can include virtually everything - financial transactions and records, medical ones, emails, phone calls, purchases, books and publications read, organization memberships, and any other personal habit or pattern.
USA Patriot Act and HSA end the distinction between foreign and domestic intelligence gathering and, up to now, the sacrosanct firewall between them. They also no longer allow "critical infrastructure information" from a federal agency to be disclosed through a FOIA request as part of an official policy of secrecy characteristic of police states. There's much more in both Acts as well that's frightening, dangerous and unknown to the public. In sum, they end constitutional protections whenever the executive suspends the law in the name of "national security." That's how "police state America" works that's hidden from public view.
The Detainee Treatment Act of 2005
Torture is official state policy for the Bush administration as its preferred means of intimidation, retribution and social control. The McCain Detainee (anti-torture) Amendment in October, 2005 was a futile effort to deter it. It was passed and weakened by the Graham-Levin Amendment, became the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005, and was attached to the 2006 Defense Department's Appropriations Act. George Bush signed the legislation after which he gutted its provisions relating to detainees in one of his notorious "signing statements." Its language gave himself the right (irrespective of the law) to "protect the American people from further terrorist attacks" using all his self-given powers as a "unitary executive" that places him above the law, Congress, the courts, the people, and world public opinion.
The legislation's final form went further as well. It denied detainees habeas rights, let US forces use any cruel, abusive, inhumane or degrading treatment in the interests of "national security," prohibited detainees from bringing suits as a result, and allowed statements gotten coercively to be used as evidence against them. It also followed previous policies as far back as September 17, 2001 when George Bush signed a secret "finding" authorizing CIA to kill, capture and detain "Al Qaeda" members anywhere in the world, rendition them to black site torture-prisons for interrogation, and obtain it by any means. From then to now, torture and abuse of anyone have been standard operating procedures for the Bush administration with complicity from Congress and the courts.
Other Repressive Legislation and More
The 107th, 108th, 109th and 110th Congresses will be remembered for likely having done more than all others before them to defile the rule of law and our constitutional protections. They conspired with a rogue administration, wrecked the republic, and for the 109th Congress, October 17, 2006 stands out shamelessly as a day that will live in infamy.
The Military Commissions Act
In a White House ceremony, George Bush signed the Military Commissions Act (MCA) now known as "the torture authorization act," but it's more far-reaching than that. It grants the administration extraordinary unconstitutional powers to detain, interrogate and prosecute alleged terror suspects and anyone claimed to be their supporters. It also lets the President call anyone anywhere in the world an "unlawful enemy combatant" and empowers him to arrest and incarcerate those accused indefinitely in military prisons without needing corroborating evidence proving guilt. The law states for persons detained that "no court, justice, or judge shall have jurisdiction to hear or consider any claim or cause for action whatsoever.... relating to the prosecution, trial, or judgment of a military commission....including challenges to the lawfulness of procedures of military commissions."
MCA further scraps habeas protection (dating back to 1215 in the Magna Carta) for domestic and foreign enemies of the state, citizens and non-citizens alike, and says "Any person is punishable... who....aids, abets, counsels, commands, or procures" and in so doing helps a foreign enemy, provides "material support" to alleged terrorist groups, engages in spying, or commits other offenses previously handled in civil courts.
Other key elements of the act include:
-- legalizing torture against anyone and lets the President decide what procedures can be used on his own authority;
-- denying detainees international law protection and lets the executive interpret it;
-- empowering the President to convene "military commissions" to try anyone he designates an "unlawful enemy combatant," and hold them in secret detention indefinitely;
--denying speedy trials or any at all;
-- allowing evidence obtained by torture or coerced testimony to be used against detainees in trial proceedings;
-- permitting hearsay and secret evidence to be used; and
-- denying due process, destroying human dignity, mocking the rule of law, and establishing the principle of kangaroo court justice for anyone the executive targets.
Revising the 1807 Insurrection Act and Ending 1878 Posse Comitatus Protection
Also on October 17, 2006, the president privately signed into law a hidden provision in Sections 1076 and 333 of the John Warner National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007. It amended the Insurrection Act of 1807 and Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 that prohibit using federal and National Guard troops for law enforcement inside the country except as constitutionally allowed or expressly authorized by Congress in times of a national emergency like an insurrection. The executive can now claim a public emergency, effectively declare martial law, suspend the Constitution for "national security," and deploy federal and National Guard troops on the nation's streets to suppress whatever he calls disorder. That means First Amendment-guaranteed peaceful public demonstrations and all organized acts of dissent are no longer constitutionally protected. Neither is the republic in "police state America."
The new law also authorizes the Pentagon to transfer state-of-the-art crowd control weapons and technology to state and local responders. It's to militarize them and blur the distinction between federal and local law enforcement agencies as an operational police state tactic.
The Real ID Act of 2005
Congress passed the Act that threatens personal privacy, it's scheduled to become effective in May, 2008, and it will require states to meet federal ID standards if in takes effect next spring. That's now in question as two dozen or more states passed laws prohibiting its use and refused to fund it.
The federal law mandates that every US citizen and legal resident have a national identity card that in most cases will be a driver's license. It requires that it contain an individual's personal information and means this ID will be needed to open a bank account, board an airplane, be able to vote, or conduct virtually any other essential type business.
In the future, the law may also require that the card contain a radio frequency identification (RFID) technology computer chip that will be able to track all movements, activities and transactions of everyone, everywhere, at all times. In other words, with this technology embedded, the card will become an empowered police state dream (and an Orwellian nightmare) to be able to monitor everyone having one all the time wherever they are.
However, growing state opposition to the law puts its status in doubt. It's because it's costly to establish and administer and will create a bureaucratic nightmare besides. It thus looks likely it won't be adopted in its current form, but it may be revised and reintroduced, so don't yet count this one out as some are ready to do. As of now, measures have been introduced in the House and Senate to repeal it by adopting national ID standards in other legislation and increase federal funding for it. So going forward, the issue of mandating national ID measures is very much alive. It looks like something on it will emerge as federal law going forward, but the cure may be worse than the disease if states adopt it to give "police state America" another repressive tool.
Pervasive Spying on Americans
Under George Bush, spying is a national pastime, but it's no joke. The New York Times reported on December 16, 2005 that his administration had been secretly spying on Americans without warrants since late 2001. He authorized the National Security Agency (NSA) to intercept international communications of US citizens with known links to Al Queda, related "terrorist" organizations, or for any other reasons at its discretion. The operation was called the "Terrorism Surveillance Program."
It made no difference to the administration that wiretapping without probable cause or judicial oversight violates Fourth Amendment protections and the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). In the current atmosphere, the rule of law is out the window, Congress and the courts condone it, and that's the problem.
It surfaced again when Congress passed the Protect America Act of 2007 that amends FISA with doublespeak language Orwell would love. It supposedly aims to close "communication gaps" but will allow virtual unrestricted mass data-mining monitoring and intercept of domestic and foreign internet, cell phones and other new technology as well as transit international phone call traffic and emails. The Act claims to restrict surveillance to foreign nationals "reasonably believed to be outside the United States" and must be renewed. In fact, the law targets everyone including US citizens inside the country if the Attorney General or Director of National Intelligence claim they pose a potential terrorist or "national security" threat, but no evidence is needed to prove it.
This law allows virtual unrestricted warrantless spying of anyone for any claimed "national security" reason. It thus renders the notion of illegal searches and privacy rights null and void. But that already went on earlier post-9/11 through other unconstitutional speech-related monitoring activities. One was the short-lived Operation TIPS that was dropped when civilian informers refused to be spies. Then, there was the Pentagon's Total Information Awareness (TIA), later renamed Terrorism Information Awareness, that was also ended under pressure but resurfaced in new form so illegal military spying continues. The Threat and Local Observation Notice (TALON) program was part of it to collect domestic intelligence through a huge database focused on "terrorism" that means everyone legally opposing Bush administration practices is targeted.
MATRIX is another new data mining tool that stands for the Multistate Anti-Terrorism Exchange Program. It violates our privacy by mass monitoring the lives and activities of ordinary people on the pretext of learning whether they may be engaging in any type terrorist or criminal activity.
Privacy isn't mentioned in the Constitution, but Supreme Court decisions affirmed it as a fundamental human right. In addition, it's protected under the Ninth Amendment, the Third prohibiting quartering troops in homes, the Fourth prohibiting unreasonable searches and seizures, and the Fifth safeguarding against self-incrimination. MATRIX and other intrusive laws violate the letter and spirit of the law and permits Patriot and HSA justice in "police state America."
Executive Orders Issued by George Bush
George Bush loves big numbers. They show up in budgets and spending, in his number of signing statements to congressional legislation, and in over 250 Executive Orders (EOs) in almost seven years. A key one is reviewed below.
July 17, 2007 Executive Order (EO): Blocking Property of Certain Persons Who Threaten Stabilization Efforts in Iraq
The US Constitution has no provision that gives a President power to make new law through one-man executive order decrees. That never deterred others in the past from issuing them, but none ever abused this practice more than George Bush who's issued over 250 of them thus far with more sure to come.
This one on July 17 is especially egregious but right in character for a President who disdains the law and shows it. It starts off: The President's power stems from "the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America" as well as the International Economic Powers Act he also invokes.
The order continues: "....due to the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States posed by acts of violence threatening the peace and stability of Iraq and undermining efforts to promote economic reconstruction and political reform in Iraq and to provide humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people," George Bush, in fact, unconstitutionally usurped authority to criminalize the anti-war movement, make the First Amendment right to protest it illegal, and empower himself to seize the assets of persons violating this decree.
By this action, the President again, on his own authority, violated the Constitution, criminalized dissent, and moved the nation another step closer to tyranny in "police state America."
Secrecy As Policy under George Bush
In November 1, 2001, George Bush signed Executive Order 13233: Further Implementation of the Presidential Records Act. In so doing, he established an official administration policy of secrecy in violation of the 1978 Presidential Records Act, the 1974 Freedom of Information Act, and James Madison's 1822 warning that "A popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or perhaps both." He also violated the Supreme Court's 1977 decision in Nixon v. Administrator of General Services that ruled "executive privilege" is subject to "erosion over time" after a president leaves office, and Congress decided that little or none of an executive's communications with his advisors should remain secret after 12 years.
Secrecy threatens democracy because it avoids accountability and empowers an imperial president way beyond issues of national security that are justifiable. On his own authority, George Bush placed limits on presidential records, the Freedom of Information Act, and a free and open society by giving himself the power to classify information for national security and create a whole new array of categories called "sensitive" information that includes anything he so designates. The result is that classified information doubled since 2001 and efforts to declassify material was stopped by invoking the "State Secrets" privilege to avoid court challenge. These actions characterize police states and represent another threat to a free and open society under an administration that disdains the law and operates freely without constraint.
The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA)
On November 27, 2006, George Bush signed AETA into law to amend the Animal Enterprise Protection Act of 1992. The new Act has broad and vague language to criminalize First Amendment activities advocating for animal rights like peaceful protests, leafleting, undercover investigations, whisleblowing and boycotts. It shows how out of hand things have gotten with animal protection advocacy now a crime.
Under the old law, anyone convicted of a physical disruption causing $10,000 in damages to an animal enterprise was subject to a $10,000 fine or 10 years to life imprisonment. The new AETA is even harsher with penalties far exceeding comparable offenses under other laws. It expands the original Act by changing activity "for the purpose of causing physical disruption" to actions "for the purpose of damaging or disrupting" an animal enterprise. In this case, "disruptive" means any activity that results in "losses and increased losses" over $10,000 by peaceful protests for consumers boycotts, advocating harmful practice reforms, or a whisleblower doing the same things.
The Act also goes further. It allows for expanded surveillance of animal rights organizations to include criminal wiretapping and makes it easier for a court to find probable cause for the vague crime of economic damage or disruption than for one requiring hard evidence a person or group plans to commit these acts.
The bill exempts "lawful public, governmental or business reaction to the disclosure of information about an animal enterprise," but that provision only applies to economic disruption claims, not damage and makes it hard to distinguish between the two. In addition, AETA:
-- expands the kinds of facilities covered by adding ones that use or sell animals or animal products;
-- it covers any person, entity or organization with a connection to an animal enterprise;
-- it applies to any form of advocacy;
-- it criminalizes threatening conduct and protected speech as well as communication with individuals who engage in these practices; and
-- it potentially includes any form of communication such as emailing across state lines to boycott abusive animal activities;
-- it protects corporate animal abusers with a vested interest in silencing dissent; and
-- it effectively singles out any form of civil disobedience or protest activity and brands animal advocates as terrorists even when nothing they do causes physical harm; even worse, the bill's language is so broad and vague it's hard to know the difference between legal and illegal behavior; this Act is another nail in the coffin of free expression, the rule of law in a free society, and the right of everyone to be protected by law, not targeted by it.
The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007 (HR 1955)
The House overwhelmingly passed this measure on October 23 that some observers call "the thought crime prevention bill." It's now in the Senate (S 1959) where if passed and signed by George Bush will establish a commission and Center for Excellence to study and take action against "thought criminals." The commission will be empowered to subpoena and investigate anyone that will automatically create a perception of guilt that may be highlighted in the media for added emphasis.
This Act is a direct assault on democratic freedoms in the current atmosphere with both parties and a President determined to end them. The bill's language hides its possible intent as "violent radicalization" and "homegrown terrorism" may be whatever the administration says they are. "Violent radicalization" is defined as "adopting or promoting an extremist belief system (to facilitate) ideologically based violence to advance political, religious or social change." "Homegrown terrorism" is used to mean "the use, planned use, or threatened use, of force or violence by a group or individual born, raised, or based and operating primarily within the United States or any (US) possession to intimidate or coerce the (US) government, the civilian population....or any segment thereof (to further) political or social objectives."
This and other repressive laws may be used against any individual or group with unpopular views - those that differ from established state policy, even illegal ones, and historian Howard Zinn is concerned. He says: "This is the most recent of a long series of laws passed in times of foreign policy tensions, starting with the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798, which sent people to jail for criticizing the Adams administration." Under Woodrow Wilson in WW I, "the Espionage (and) Sedition Act(s) (jailed) close to a thousand people (who spoke) out against the war." From HR 1955 and other post-9/11 laws, authorities now have the same power to target anti-war protesters or anyone expressing views this Act alone calls "terrorist-related propaganda." Persons charged and convicted face stiff penalties in an effort to deter others. This measure is still another step toward full-blown tyranny in "police state America."
Sections 1615 and 1622 of the 2008 Defense Authorization Act
These provisions authorize DOD to militarize the country under martial law by merging the military with state and local law enforcement during a national emergency described as "an incident of national significance or a catastrophic incident." It also gives the Defense Secretary extraordinary power to determine what military capabilities are needed, to provide them to "active (and) reserve components of the armed forces for homeland defense missions, domestic emergency responses, and (to provide) military support to civil authorities (for) at least five years."
The Act designates the Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman to review NORTHCOM civilian, reservist and military positions and increase their number in preparation for a potential catastrophic event requiring "homeland defense missions, domestic emergency response, (and the need for) military support to civil authorities."
Section 1622 then establishes a Council of Governors to advise the Secretaries of Defense and Homeland Security and the White House "on matters related to the National Guard and civil support missions."
The Act is more proof of "police state America." It establishes a martial law apparatus to be used in case of a "catastrophic event" of any kind and empowers the President or Vice-President under NSPD-51 to implement it in a "national emergency" without congressional approval.
Operation FALCON - Police State America in Real Time
Mike Whitney won a 2008 Project Censored Award for his February, 2007 article titled "Operation FALCON and the Looming Police State." In it, he reported that the Bush administration "carried out three massive sweeps in the last two years, rolling up more than 30,000 minor crooks and criminals" that he calls a "blueprint for removing dissidents and political rivals" reminiscent of Nazi Germany or any other repressive police state. Those chickens now reside at home, but the public is largely unaware and unconcerned. We all should be as Whitney raises a "red flag for anyone who cares at all about human rights, civil liberties, or simply saving his own skin."
Operation FALCON stands for "Federal and Local Cops Organized Nationally" and came out of the Bush Justice Department and right-wing think tanks "where fantasies of autocratic government have a long history" and are now playing out in real time. The scheme centralizes power in Washington and uses resources of local authorities for its own purposes.
Whitney traces its short history starting in the week of April 4 - 10, 2005 when over 10,000 criminal suspects were arrested in "the largest criminal sweep in the nation's history" in a "single initiative." Its aim was "quantity," not "quality," but Whitney asked why did the Feds get involved in local police work and suggested something more sinister was involved "than just ensuring public safety." His answer - "to enhance the powers of the 'unitary' executive" by giving Washington power over local law enforcement, and that makes perfect sense under an administration obsessed with wanting unchallengeable control.
Operation FALCON II followed a week later from April 17 - 23 and swept up another 9037 "alleged fugitives." The final FALCON III came from October 22 - 28, 2006 with 10,773 more arrests. Each sweep was the same and concentrated on alleged criminal types out of character for a federal operation, so clearly another motive was involved. Further, no one arrested was charged with a terrorist-related crime, and that alone looks fishy. Whitney thought so and called FALCON "new drills for a new world order" that's waging permanent war, defiles the law, ignores checks and balances, condones torture, repealed habeas, and illegally spies on everyone.
Muslim and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) Sweeps
As FALCON targeted petty crooks and criminals, Muslims are the administration's main "war on terrorism" victims. Post-9/11, thousands were mercilessly harassed and persecuted through mass witch-hunt roundups, detentions, prosecutions and deportations. Their assets were frozen, and legal immigrants among them were subjected to secret federal immigration court status hearings where those found guilty of minor past infractions were illegally held or returned to their countries of origin where they faced possible arrest and torture.
Others fared even worse and became political prisoners. Professor Sami Al-Arian was one of them because of his faith, beliefs and activism. Palestinian refugee, scholar, academic, community leader, civic activist, and freedom and justice advocate for his people made him a Bush administration target. His ordeal began when he was arrested in February, 2003 and unjustly charged with supporting terrorism, conspiracy to commit murder, racketeering, giving material support to an outlawed group, extortion, perjury and other offenses proved spurious in his subsequent trial in which he was exonerated. Yet he remains imprisoned under harsh conditions as the Bush Justice Department finds ways to hold him.
Another victim was Dr. Rafil Dhafir, a Muslim American of Iraqi descent and practicing oncologist until his license was suspended. He was convicted in a shameless kangaroo court trial of 59 of 60 trumped up charges of violating the Iraqi Sanctions Regulations (IEEPA) for using his own funds and what he could raise through his Help the Needy charity to bring desperately needed essential to life humanitarian aid to Iraqis under sanctions. He's now serving a 22 year sentence in a special Terre Haute, IN "Communications Management Unit" (CMU) for Muslims and Arabs for his "crime of compassion" (see, Katherine Hughes) where he, like Sami Al-Arian, is a Bush administration "trophy" prisoner in the "war on terrorism."
Undocumented Latino immigrants have also been targeted with ICE shock troops mandated to do it. The agency was established in March, 2003 as the largest DHS investigative and enforcement arm and charged with protecting the public safety by identifying and targeting "criminal" and "terrorist" threats to the country. In most cases, they're innocent victims of NAFTA and globalized trade coming north to survive. ICE heads them off at the border, hunts them down ruthlessly once they're here, and boasts how well their multi-billion dollar budget lets them conduct a reign of terror against vulnerable people.
Workplace assaults continue, and on October 3, ICE said it swept up and deported (or will deport) more than 1300 "criminal aliens, immigrations fugitives, and immigration violators" in the "largest-ever" operation of its kind in the Los Angeles area. Most were Mexican nationals, but some were from 30 other countries, and ICE called them "immigration violators." They're Bush administration targets in its "war on terrorism" that soon may come for us.
Police State America Preparations
Today, dissent is an endangered species, and preparations are underway for mass detentions in the "war on terrorism" targeting anyone seen as a threat. Halliburton is the beneficiary with a DHS contingency contract worth nearly $400 million to build US-based camps for "detention and processing" in case of an "emergency influx of immigrants....or to support the rapid development of new programs (for planned) expansion facilities (for anyone with capacity for 5000 or more persons)."
This language is cover for planned US-based concentration camps for anyone labeled an enemy of the state or threat to "national security." The plan is clear - to have facilities in place if martial law is declared with plenty of reasons to fear it's coming. Why else these camps and why all the repressive laws, EOs, NSPDs, and HSPDs put in place if they weren't for a purpose.
The Pentagon is also ready with a DOD action plan called "Strategy for Homeland Defense and Civil Support." It envisions an "active, layered defense" both within and outside the country that pledges to "transform US military forces to execute homeland defense missions in the....US homeland." It lays out a strategy for increased reconnaissance and surveillance to "defeat potential challengers before they threaten the United States." It also "maximizes threat awareness and seizes the initiative from those who would harm us."
These are ominous developments that suggest a likely real or contrived homeland terror attack severe enough to warrant suspending the Constitution and declaring martial law with the public acquiescing out of fear. If it comes, anyone may be targeted as a "national security" threat, indefinitely detained in a camp, and no evidence is needed for proof. The state and military will be empowered by law to act preventively through mass roundups and detentions that appears the reason for three test-run FALCON operations.
Full-scale militarization of the country is already lawful under the 1988 Reagan administration's "national security emergency" EO 12656. It was meant for "Any occurrence, including natural disaster, military attack, technological or other emergency, that seriously degrades or seriously threatens the national security of the United States." "Police state America" has been in the works a long time, and it now may be near the boiling point.
The Role of Blackwater USA in Police State America
Most people know about Blackwater but not how it operates. We better learn because it's coming to a neighborhood near you, and that means trouble. Author Jeremy Scahill wrote the book on the company he calls "the world's most powerful mercenary army" and describes it as a "shadowy mercenary company (employing) some of the most feared professional killers in the world accustomed to operating without worry of legal consequences (and) largely off the congressional radar." It has friends in high places who give it "remarkable power and protection within the US war apparatus" with unaccountable license to practice street violence with impunity to include cold-blooded murder wherever their paramilitaries are deployed.
For now, that's mostly abroad, and controversy surfaced about the company after its mercenaries killed two dozen or more Iraqis and wounded dozens more in al-Nisour on September 16. It was the latest incident involving a company with a disturbing history of unprovoked violence and then claiming self-defense. Blackwater is contracted to provide security services for US diplomats, officials and others that once was assigned to the military at one-sixth or less what the company charges under an administration that believes anything government can do private business does better, so let it whatever the cost.
Using Blackwater and other paramilitaries is part of the scheme to militarize America, and New Orleans is its first test case. Scahill wrote that "about 150 heavily armed Blackwater troops dressed in full battle gear" arrived in the Crescent City right after Katrina hit and spread out into the city's chaos. Others came later. Their cover was to provide hurricane relief, but that was a ruse as local residents still around in the wrong places soon discovered. They patrolled like Gestapo in SUVs with tinted windows and their logo on the back. Others used unmarked cars with no license plates, and relief wasn't their mandate. They came to secure neighborhoods from their legal residents and treat those wanting to return like criminals. They wore flak jackets, carried automatic weapons and had extra guns strapped to their legs. They weren't for show.
Instead of helping hurricane victims, they came as vigilantes to terrorize them and be empowered by federal, state and local authorities to do it. Blackwater USA is the face of paramilitarism on US streets as the "war on terrorism" comes to a neighborhood near you with New Orleans the first test case to see if the company can operate here the way it does in Iraq and get away with it. It's doing it.
More than two years after Katrina, New Orleans is still a disaster zone, and many thousands of its residents are still without homes. Instead of helping them rebuild and restore their lives, federal funds instead go to private mercenaries to protect the privileged from desperate people needing help. Blackwater is another element in place in "police state America" where the streets of Boston, Boise or Buffalo may one day resemble Baghdad and bring the "war on terror" to the homeland with chilling implications of what that means.
A Look Ahead in Police State America
This article began and will end with the same chilling thought. It past is prologue, the outlook isn't good in "police state America" under neocon rule that won't appreciably change when the White House has a new occupant in 2009. The nation is at war and laws are in place that end constitutional protections, militarize the country, repress dissent, and our government is empowered to crush freedom and defend privilege from beneficial social change it won't tolerate. It's the price of imperial arrogance we the people are paying, and that won't end until the spirit of resistance gets aroused enough to stop it in our own self-defense. We better hope that happens in time with potentially little of it left.