America ! Be Truly Afraid

America ! Be Truly Afraid

By Rand Clifford

06 October, 2008
Countercurrents.org

While compulsory lying, distractions and inane diversions reduce our fourth estate into corporate government’s fifth column, it seems omission is the key tactic so solidly embedding mainstream corporate media into an exploiter of the people. Americans remain well informed regarding celebrities, entertainment, sports and weather—but when it comes to information people need to vote intelligently, understand what corporate government is really up to, or understand environmental issues, corporate media is little more than special-interest propaganda. And when it comes to the complex relationship of the nation and its citizens to the 95% of global population that are not American…strategies such as omission perpetuate the fossilized notion of “we’re number one” being all that Americans really need to know.

So what if instead of subjugating, dividing and stupefying the the people, corporate media actually lived up to its noblest reason for being and served the peoples’ best interests? What might be some of the headlines we’d see, and the essence driving them?

Perhaps….

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Closed-door session of the House prompts representative outrage, leaks

(March 13, 2008) The House of Representatives held only its sixth closed session since 1812, and the first since July 1983, when it secretly discussed U.S. support for the Contras in Nicaragua. The publicly stated reason for the recent closed session was for members to discuss new citizen surveillance provisions. However, conversations off the record have indicated that the meeting was primarily about nine key issues:

1) the imminent collapse of the U.S. economy to occur by September 2008

2) the imminent collapse of U.S. federal government finances by February 2009

3) the possibility of civil war inside the USA as a result of the collapses

4) advance round-ups of “insurgent U.S. citizens” (those opposing the New World Order) likely to move against the government

5) detention of those rounded-up at “REX 84″camps constructed throughout the USA

6) possibility of retaliation against members of Congress for the collapses

7) the location of “safe facilities” for members of Congress and their families to reside during expected massive civil unrest

8) the necessary and unavoidable merger of the United States with Canada (for its natural resources) and Mexico (for its pool of cheap labor)

9) the issuance of a new currency – THE AMERO – for all three nations as the proposed solution to the upcoming economic Armageddon….

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Imagine how much the above information would help people understand the enormity of, and better navigate lies blooming around the following:

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Constitution violated, U.S. infantry troops to be deployed on U.S. soil starting October 1

The “Raiders”, First Brigade Combat Team of the Third Division, are now under the command of US Army North, the Army’s component of NorthCom—the Pentagon’s northern command, which was created after 9/11 to defend the US “homeland” and aid local, state and federal authorities. Posse Comitatus was an act passed by Congress on June 16, 1878, which prohibits federal uniformed services from being deployed on non-federal property to maintain “law and order”….

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Under the Constitution, federal armed forces are banned from law enforcement on home soil. So much for Posse Comitatus—as with so many Constitutional protections being stripped to “protect” the people. And now, amid all the scripted and pacifying rhetoric, as from 1st BCT’s Commander, Col. Roger Cloutier, an ominous picture is forming.

“I can’t think of a more noble mission than this,” said Cloutier, “…to take care of citizens at home…and depending on where an event occurred, you’re going home to take care of your hometown, your loved ones. It makes me feel good as an American to know that my country has dedicated a force to come in and help people at home.” And, “I don’t know what America’s overall plan is—I just know that 24 hours a day, seven days a week, that there are soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines that are standing by to come and help if they’re called.”

“Take care of? Help?” 1st BCT, the “Raiders”—they are an elite killing force of 4000 troops, the first brigade to be deployed in Iraq three times. Fresh from kicking down doors and arresting insurgents before taking them to internment camps, they are now being trained to use the first ever nonlethal package the Army has fielded. “It’s a new modular package of nonlethal capabilities,” said Cloutier, referring to crowd and traffic control devices designed to subdue the unruly and dangerous without killing them.

“Helping”, “taking care of”, “protecting” and more…wholesome euphemisms fogging the simple reality that Americans are FINALLY starting to wake up, and are going to need military kinds of subduing without killing them. With conditions of deepening economic crisis, the growing chasm between working Americans and the obscenely wealthy who control the government is becoming a threat to political stability that existing political framework cannot contain. Though the 1st BTC is scheduled to be deployed domestically for one year, their replacements are being groomed for permanent deployment on a larger scale.

Corporate government is demonstrating their true allegiance by so transparently maneuvering to protect the defacto ruling wealthy elite from righteous indignation of working people as the nation is destroyed from within. Does American government consider the people little more than a contemptible—and dangerous—nuisance now that the greatest transfer of public wealth up to the wealthy elite in history…is history? Consider this missing headline:

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U.S. troops and recruits quizzed about willingness to shoot friends and family members

Soldiers recently returning from Iraq reveal that U.S. troops are being trained to conduct domestic round-ups and confiscate guns, and being quizzed about shooting American citizens—including their own friends and family members—as part of a long-standing program to prepare for the declaration of martial law….

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For 15 years military chiefs have been assessing whether U.S. troops would be prepared to round up, disarm, an possibly shoot Americans who disobey orders during a national state of emergency. Origins of this can be traced back to an October 1994 Marine questionnaire out of the Twentynine Palms Marine Base in California. Recruits were asked 46 questions, including whether they would kill U.S. citizens who refused to surrender their firearms.

Pastors and other religious representatives are being groomed into secret police enforcers who teach their congregations to “obey the government” in the run up to martial law, property and firearm seizures, mass vaccination programs and forced relocation.

The following missing headline answers questions regarding citizen relocation:

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Over 800 American concentration camps are fully operational and ready for prisoners

These camps are to be operated by FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) following declaration of martial law (at the stroke of a Presidential pen plus the Attorney General’s signature on a warrant)….

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While currently empty, all camps are staffed and manned by full-time guards, standing ready to receive U.S. prisoners who disagree with the government. Like Nazi extermination camps, many of the FEMA camps have Red/Blue lines:

Red List – These are enemies of the New World Order. Two weeks before martial law they could be taken from their homes and flown to camps for immediate extermination. Generally, these are people in leadership roles or other public positions.

Blue List – Also enemies of the New World Order but not necessarily leaders. After martial law these people could be rounded up for “re-programming” in the camps. Survivors will be used mostly for slave labor.

Omissions such as mentioned here—a comprehensive list would be enormous…even one covering just the last eight years. Such a list includes: obvious and repeated federal election fraud; truth about 9/11 and its coverup; truth about our illegal wars of aggression; truth about the current bankster coup and the trillion-dollar taxpayer drop in the bailout bucket which will largely go to foreign investors to avert lawsuits against fraudsters such as Secretary of the Treasury, Henry Paulson; truth about the scuttling of the United States as a sovereign nation to make way for the corporate/fascist New World Order….

The main theme in omissions always orbits crucial truth people need to know, truth the ruling elite want suppressed. As it stands now, the more truth involved, and the more important that truth to the American people, the more likely a story is to be omitted.

We’ve come far down this road to oblivion, hustled along by lies, fraud, deception, distraction, fiendish exploitation of our own pathetic gullibility…and omission. How might we shatter the gullibility?

Imagine the American people…imagine us turning around and marching back toward truth. Can we still save the Republic, still save ourselves? The Big Bailout just blew us miles further, down the road.

A Futile Bailout as Darkness Falls on America

A Futile Bailout as Darkness Falls on America

By PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS

America has become a pretty discouraging place.  Americans, for the most part, will never know what happened to them, because they no longer have a free and responsible press.  They have Big Brother’s press.  For example, on September 28, 2008, a New York Times editorial blamed the current financial crisis on “antiregulation disciples of the Reagan Revolution.”

What utter nonsense.  Every example of deregulation that the New York Times editorial provides is located in the Clinton Administration and the George W. Bush administration.  I was a member of the Reagan administration.  We most certainly did not deregulate the financial system.

The repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, which separated commercial from investment banking, was the achievement of the Democratic Clinton Administration. It happened in 1999, over a decade after Reagan left office.

It was in 2000 that derivatives and credit default swaps were excluded from regulation.

The greatest mistake was made in 2004, the year that Reagan died. That year the current Secretary of the Treasury, Henry M. Paulson Jr, was  head of the investment bank Goldman Sachs.  In the spring of 2004, the investment banks, led by Paulson, met with the Securities and Exchange Commission.  At this meeting with the New Deal regulatory agency tasked with regulating the US financial system, Paulson convinced the SEC Commissioners to exempt the investment banks from maintaining reserves to cover losses on investments. The exemption granted by the SEC allowed the investment banks to leverage financial instruments beyond any bounds of prudence.

In place of time-proven standards of prudence, computer models engineered by hot shots determined acceptable risk.  As one result Bear Stearns, for example, pushed its leverage ratio to 33 to 1.  For every one dollar in equity, the investment bank had $33 of debt!

It was computer models that led to the failure of Long-Term Capital Management in 1998, the first systemic threat to the financial system.  Why the SEC went along with Paulson and set aside capital requirements after the scare of Long-Term Capital Management is inexplicable.

The blame is headed toward SEC chairman Christopher Cox.  This is more of Big Brother’s disinformation.  Cox, like so many others, was a victim of a free market ideology, itself a reaction to over-regulation, that was boosted by academic economic opinion, rewarded with Nobel prizes, that the market “always knows best.”

The 20th century proves that the market is likely to know better than a central planning bureau.  It was Soviet Communism that collapsed, not American capitalism.  However, the market has to be protected from greed.  It was greed, not the market, that was unleashed by deregulation during  the Clinton and George W. Bush regimes.

I remember when the deregulation of the financial sector began.  One of the first inroads was the legislation, written by bankers, to permit national branch banking. George Champion, former chairman of Chase Manhattan Bank, testified against it. In columns I argued that national branch banking would focus banks away from local business needs.

The deregulation of the financial sector was achieved by the Democratic Clinton Administration and by the current Secretary of the Treasury, Henry Paulson, with the acquiescence of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The Paulson bailout saves his firm, Goldman Sachs.  The Paulson bailout transfers the troubled financial instruments that the financial sector created from the books of the financial sector to the books of the taxpayers at the US Treasury.

This is all the bailout does.  It rescues the guilty.

The Paulson bailout does not address the problem, which is the defaulting home mortgages.

The defaults will continue, because the economy is sinking into recession.  Homeowners are losing their jobs, and homeowners are being hit with rising mortgage payments resulting from adjustable rate mortgages and escalator interest rate clauses in their mortgages that make homeowners unable to service their debt.

Shifting the troubled assets from the financial sectors’ books to the taxpayers’ books absolves the people who caused the problem from responsibility.  As the economy declines and mortgage default rates rise, the US Treasury and the American taxpayers  could end up with a $700 billion loss.

Initially, the House, but not the Senate, resisted the bailout of the financial institutions,whose executives had received millions of dollars in bonuses for wrecking the US financial system.  However, the people’s representatives could not withstand the specter of martial law and Great Depression with which Paulson and the Bush administration threatened them.  The people’s representatives succumbed as they did during the New Deal.

The impotence of Congress traces to the Great Depression.  As Theodore Lowi in his classic book, The End of Liberalism, makes clear, the New Deal stripped Congress of its law-making power and gave it to the executive agencies.  Prior to the New Deal, Congress wrote the laws.  After the New Deal a bill is merely an authorization for executive agencies to create the law through regulations.  The Paulson bailout has further diminished the legislative branch’s power.

Since Paulson’s bailout of his firm and his financial friends does nothing to lessen the default rate on mortgages, how will the bailout play out?

If the $700 billion bailout is based on an estimate of the current amount of bad mortgages, as the recession deepens and Americans lose their jobs, the default rate will  rise.  The $700 billion might not suffice.  The Treasury will have to go hat in hand to its foreign creditors for more loans.

As the US Treasury has not got $7, much less $700 billion, it must borrow the bailout money from foreign creditors, already overloaded with US paper.  At what point do America’s foreign bankers decide that the additions to US debt exceed what can be repaid?

This question was ignored by the bailout.  There were no hearings.  No one consulted China,  America’s principal banker, or the Japanese, or the OPEC sovereign wealth funds, or Europe.

Does the world have a blank check for America’s mistakes?

This is the same world that is faced with American demands that countries support with money and lives America’s quest for world hegemony.  Europeans are dying in Afghanistan for American hegemony.  Do Europeans want their banks, which hold US dollars as their reserves, to fail so that Paulson can bail out his company and his friends?

The US dollar is the world’s reserve currency.  It comprises the reserves of foreign central banks.  Bush’s wars and economic policies are destroying the basis of the US dollar as reserve currency. The day the dollar loses its reserve currency role, the US government cannot pay its bills in its own currency.  The result will be a dramatic reduction in US living standards.

Currently Treasuries are boosted by the habitual “flight to quality,” but as Treasury debt deepens, will investors still see quality?  At what point do America’s foreign creditors cease to lend?  That is the point at which American power ends. It might be close at hand.

The Paulson bailout is predicated on cleaning up financial institutions’ balance sheets and restoring the flow of credit.  The assumption is that once lending resumes, the economy will pick up.

This assumption is problematic.  The expansion of consumer debt, which kept the economy going in the 21st century, has reached its limit.  There are no more credit cards to max out, and no more home equity to refinance and spend.  The Paulson bailout might restore trust among financial institutions and enable them to lend to one another, but it doesn’t provide a jolt to consumer demand.

Moreover, there may be more shoes to drop.  Credit card debt could be the next to threaten balance sheets of financial institutions.  Apparently, credit card debt has been securitized and sold as well, and not all of the debt is good.  In addition, the leasing programs of the car manufacturers have turned sour.  As a result of high gasoline prices and absence of growth in take-home pay, the residual values of big trucks and SUVs are less than the leasing programs estimated them to be, thus creating more financial problems.  Car manufacturers are canceling their leasing programs, and this will further cut into sales.

According to statistician John Williams [ http://www.shadowstats.com/section/commentaries ] who measures inflation, unemployment, and GDP according to the methodology used prior to the Clinton regime’s corruption of these measures, the US unemployment rate is currently at 14.7 per cent and the inflation rate is 13.2 per cent.  Consequently, real US GDP growth in the 21st century has been negative.

This is not a picture of an economy that a bailout of financial institution balance sheets will revive.  As the Paulson bailout does not address the mortgage problem per se, defaults and foreclosures are likely to rise, thus undermining the Treasury’s estimate that 90 per cent of the mortgages backing the troubled instruments are good.

Moreover, one consequence of the ongoing financial crisis is financial concentration.  It is not inconceivable that the US will end up with four giant banks: J.P. Morgan Chase, Citicorp, Bank of America, and Wachovia Wells Fargo. If defaulting credit card debt then assaults these banks’ balance sheets, who is there to take them over?  Would the Treasury be able to borrow the money for another Paulson bailout?

During the Great Depression of the 1930s, the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation refinanced one million home mortgages in order to prevent foreclosures.  The refinancing apparently succeeded, and HOLC returned a profit. The problem then, as now, was not “deadbeats” who wouldn’t pay their mortgages, and the HOLC refinancing did not discourage others from paying their mortgages. Market purists who claim the only solution is for housing prices to fall to prior levels overlook that rising inventories can push prices below prior levels, thus causing more distress.  They also overlook the role of interest rates.  If a worsening credit crisis dries up mortgage lending and pushes mortgage interest rates higher, the rise in interest rates could offset the fall in home prices, and mortgages would remain unaffordable even in a falling housing market.

Some commentators are blaming the current mortgage problem on the pressure that the US government put on banks to lend to unqualified borrowers.  However, whatever  breaches of prudence there may have been only affected the earnings of individual institutions.  They did not threaten the financial system.  The current crisis required more than bad loans.  It required securitization and its leverage. It required Fed chairman Alan Greenspan’s inappropriate low interest rates, which created a real estate boom.  Rapidly rising real estate prices quickly created home equity to justify 100 percent mortgages.  Wall Street analysts pushed financial companies to improve their bottom lines, which they did by extreme leveraging.

An alternative to refinancing troubled mortgages would be to attempt to separate the bad mortgages from the good ones and revalue the mortgage-backed securities accordingly.  If there are no further defaults, this approach would not require massive write-offs that threaten the solvency of financial institutions.  However, if defaults continue, write-downs would be an ongoing enterprise.

Clearly, all Secretary Paulson thought about was getting troubled assets off the books of financial institutions.

The same reckless leadership that gave us expensive wars based on false premises has now concocted an expensive bailout that does not address the problem, which will fester and become worse.

SUPPORT U.S. WAR ON ISLAM, OR ELSE!

U.S. to allies: Fight in Afghanistan or write check

By Kristin Roberts

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States has asked Japan and NATO allies who have refused to send troops to Afghanistan to pay the estimated $17 billion needed to build up the Afghan army, according to U.S. defense officials.

The push to quickly increase the size of Afghanistan’s army and spread the cost of the initiative underscores the financial and military strain the war has placed on the United States and NATO members, many also operating in Iraq and elsewhere.

“The faster we get the (Afghan army) to the size and strength they need to be, the less they depend on us for providing security, and God knows we operate far more expensively than the Afghan national security forces do,” said Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell.

“At a minimum it’s going to cost $17 billion. That’s a hefty price-tag and someone’s got to pay it,” Morrell said.

“This may be one of those cases where countries that have had a reluctance to contribute forces, in particular combat forces, may be able to take part in this mission through a financial contribution to the development of the Afghan National Army.”

The new Pentagon push to share costs more widely reflects a realization among U.S. officials that some allies simply will not put troops into the war despite heavy pressure from Washington – something Europe has been telling the United States for more than a year.

But it also threatens to create just the type of two-tiered NATO alliance that U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates warned against early this year.

FIGHT, OR WRITE A CHECK

Gates in February said NATO risked a split between allies willing to “fight and die” and those who were not.

Morrell last week cast it as “those who fight and those who write checks.”

The NATO mission in Afghanistan will be discussed later this week at a meeting in Budapest. It will be the last NATO meeting of defense ministers during the Bush administration and Gates, who has repeatedly and publicly chided allies for two years to put more resources into the war, is expected to press the issue of cost sharing.

The meeting comes as the Bush administration conducts a comprehensive review of its strategy in Afghanistan, where security has steadily deteriorated despite a doubling of foreign troops over two years. Britain’s commander in Afghanistan, in fact, has said the war against the Taliban cannot be won.

U.S. officials said NATO was not conducting any parallel review, although the senior commander has just submitted an updated and secret list of troop and equipment requirements.

The United States has 33,000 troops in Afghanistan. About 22,000 are part of NATO’s force of nearly 48,000 troops. The United States contributes the most troops by far among allies, followed by Britain with about 8,000.

Commanders say they still need three more brigades, or about 10,000 to 12,000 troops. Those troops will most likely come from the United States next year, Morrell said.

The Afghan army plans to double in size to 134,000 soldiers over five years at a cost of $17 billion to $20 billion, according to estimates from U.S. officials.

The United States has already approached Japan about paying part of that bill. But Morrell said the request was made to Japan’s previous government, whose prime minister abruptly resigned in September, and that the request may have to be made again to the new government in Tokyo.

He did not say what other countries were asked to pay.

(Editing by Anthony Boadle)

THE SH*T IS HITTING THE FAN, FOLKS

Financial crisis pummels stocks

Traders on Wall Street

Investors have not been bowled over by government intervention

World stock markets have plunged after government bank bail-outs in the US and Europe failed to stem fears of slower global economic growth.

London’s key UK share index lost 7.85% – its biggest percentage fall since 1987 and in Paris the Cac-40 suffered its largest fall on record.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones fell below 10,000 points for the first time since 2004.

Earlier, Asian stocks had taken a hammering from investors.

A failure of government intervention to improve banks’ willingness to lend had left markets anxious, said analysts.

This was despite a $700bn (£398bn) US bank bail-out being passed late last week, and efforts by several European countries including Germany and Denmark to boost confidence in their banks.

“The Fed’s bail-out plan may have been passed on Friday but so far there’s been no real reaction in credit markets and because of this the natural assumption is going to be that the measures won’t work, even if such a call is rather premature,” said Matt Buckland of CMC Markets.

‘Substantial force’

In an attempt to reassure investors, the President’s Working Group on Financial Markets, said on Monday that it was moving quickly to exercise the new powers it had been given as part of the Wall Street rescue package.

The group, which was formed after the 1987 stock market crash, said it would move “with substantial force on a number of fronts”.

As one of the first effects of the rescue plan, the Federal Reserve announced that it would start paying interest on the reserves that banks are forced to deposit at the central bank.

Analysts said that Germany’s increased 50bn euro ($68bn; £38.7bn) bail-out of Hypo Real Estate, the country’s second-biggest commercial property lender, had alarmed investors.

Germany earlier appeared to announce an unlimited guarantee for private savings – though later said this was not the case and had instead given only a “political commitment” that savers would not lose deposits.

However, Denmark had already moved to offer full protection, while Sweden massively increased the level of protection it offered.

‘Collective action’

The Hypo RE rescue came amid other developments including:

  • Iceland’s government offered unlimited guarantees on savers’ deposits. It had earlier agreed measures for the country’s banks to sell off some foreign assets in an attempt to shore up its entire financial system.
  • Trading in shares of Benelux bank Fortis was suspended – the day BNP Paribas took a controlling interest in the troubled finance group under an emergency deal with the Belgian and Luxembourg governments
  • Central banks across Europe – including the ECB and Bank of England – offered more than $74bn to banks in short-term loans in separate efforts aimed at trying to making cash available for the banking sector.
  • International Monetary Fund managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn said Europe needed a collective response to the financial crisis and warned countries not to act alone.
  • Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and French President Nicolas Sarkozy arranged meetings with the heads of their respective country’s main banks to discuss the global financial crisis – and said the two leaders would meet later this week.

Markets suspended

In London, the FTSE 100 index was down 391.1 points, or 7.85%, at 4,589.2 – having lost 8.5% at one point.

Germany’s Dax index lost 7.39%, while France’s Cac-40 index dropped 9.04% – its biggest one-day fall since the index was created in 1988.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones index pulled back some losses but was still 4.05% lower, down 418.39 points, at 9,906.99 points, while the Nasdaq lost 4.93%.

Earlier, Japan’s Nikkei index had closed down 4.3%, or 465 points, at 10,473.1 – its lowest close since February 2004. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index slid 5%, while key Russian markets slumped by 15%.

Markets in India, China, Australia and Singapore also lost ground, while the main Indonesian market lost 10% – the biggest one-day fall on record.

Trading on key stock markets in Brazil and Russia was temporarily suspended after share prices plummeted by 10% and 15% respectively. Russia’s RTS index ended 19.1% down.

The prospect of a slowdown denting energy demand saw oil prices fall further, dipping under $90 a barrel.

In London Brent crude dropped $3.38 to $86.87 a barrel, while US light, sweet crude fell $3.85 to $90.05 a barrel.

Brace For Massive Layoffs

Brace For Massive Layoffs

Main Street and Wall Street both better be bracing for layoff because they are coming. I talked about that a bit in Jobs Contract 9th Consecutive Month.

Mass Layoffs Rise

One measure of future unemployment can be found by looking at mass layoff announcements. These are mass layoffs that have been announced, and are coming down the road, but are not yet reflected in the unemployment numbers. Please note that U.S. September Job Cuts Rise 33% From Year Ago, Challenger Says

Job cuts announced by U.S. employers climbed 33 percent in September from a year earlier, led by reductions at computer- and automakers, according to a private placement firm.

Firing announcements rose to 95,094 last month from 71,739 in September 2007, Chicago-based Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. said in a statement today. Hewlett-Packard Co., the world’s largest computer-maker, said last month it would eliminate 24,600 jobs, accounting for much of September’s increase, Challenger said.

Economic data continues to suggest the Credit Crunch Has Reached Critical Mass and is rapidly picking up steam. Unemployment is poised to soar still higher. There is no driver for jobs, nor will the misguided $700+ billion bailout plan of Paulson provide any.

Bracing for U.S. Corporate Budget Cuts

BusinessWeek is is talking about Bracing for U.S. Corporate Budget Cuts

William P. Lauder was already adjusting his corporate budget for a tough holiday season. Then the financial crisis hit. Amid the turmoil, the Estée Lauder Cos. (EL) chief executive stopped at a Denver mall and found it practically empty. Now he’s preparing for the worst. “We always do scenario planning, but not to the degree that we are doing now,” says Lauder. He’s asking each brand manager at the New York cosmetics giant three questions: “What must you have? What would you like to keep going? And what can you give up?”

Faced with squeezed credit and unpredictable sales, U.S. companies are bracing for budget cuts that could be far-reaching, painful, and in some cases unprecedented. Even before September’s turmoil, Moody’s Economy.com predicted that corporate operating expenses—a proxy for budgets—would rise, on average, no more than 7% annually through 2012 across 59 industries, down from several consecutive quarters of double-digit gains.

A mediocre outlook has suddenly grown worse. “Just in the last two days, I have had clients rethinking not only their 2009 budgets but all the way to 2011,” says Anthony D. Begando, founder and CEO of Tenon Consulting Solutions in Alpharetta, Ga. On Sept. 25, Rite Aid (RAD) CEO Mary F. Sammons cited “the growing uncertainty of this economy” when announcing a $50 million cut in capital spending over the next six months.

Among the costs coming under immediate scrutiny are marketing and new construction. AT&T (T) and General Motors (GM) have already slashed their 2008 marketing budgets amid tough economic conditions. On Sept. 15, Visa (V) consolidated its ad account from four agencies to one to save money next year. Casino companies scrapped several high-profile expansion projects over the summer.

Faced with such instability, some executives feel it’s more prudent to jettison troubled businesses than to fix them. Consumer-product maker Newell Rubbermaid (NWL) now plans to dump $500 million of low-margin products, such as $10 plastic garbage cans, reversing a previous plan to turn them around. Newell CEO Mark D. Ketchum says it’s the best strategy, given the tough road ahead. “Two words come to mind when I think of 2009—difficult and volatile,” says Ketchum.

The most painful trim, of course, is in payroll. Many executives expect layoffs to be swifter and deeper than before, accompanied by pruned salaries and bonuses for those who remain.

Shotgun Marriages and Bankruptcies

The recently announced shotgun marriages and bankruptcies are going to cost tens of thousands of high paying and or high benefit jobs. Here is a partial list.

  • Merrill Lynch (MER) and Bank of America (BAC) merger.
  • Lehman bankruptcy
  • Washington Mutual and JPMorgan (JPM)
  • Citigroup (C) and Wachovia (WB), OR Wells Fargo (WFC) and Wachovia (WB)

Expect to see more mergers, more bankruptcies, and more layoffs as a result of mergers and bankruptcies.

Hewlett-Packard Co., the world’s largest computer-maker, fired a massive warning shot announcing it would eliminate 24,600 jobs, signaling it will not be just financial activities that are affected.

This holiday season is going to be a dismal one. Expect to see reduced profit margins and cutbacks in hours worked between now and Christmas. Those who supplemented income by working two jobs or by working overtime during the holiday season will find reduced opportunities this year. Expect to see more store closings in January as the shopping center economic model continues its slow death.

Commercial real estate, the last main bastion of job creation, is now crashing. There is no other source of jobs other than health care, and health care alone cannot fuel this economy.

Brace for massive layoffs as they are coming.

�Indian troops in Afghanistan to pressure Pakistan�

�Indian troops in Afghanistan to pressure Pakistan�

Monday, October 06, 2008
By Our Correspondent

LAHORE

AMEER Jamat-ud-Dawa Pakistan Professor Hafiz Saeed Ahmed has said that India has agreed to send its 150,000 troops in Afghanistan in order to exert pressure on Pakistan. He demanded that the Pakistani government and Army shouldn�t remain silent at the moves made by US, India, Israel and Afghanistan who wanted to damage Pakistan.

JD Ameer stated this while talking to different local office-bearers of the organization on Sunday.

Hafiz Saeed said the agreement between both anti-Pakistan countries had been signed on the instructions of US and those national leaders supporting the idea of trade with India. However, he said the land of Afghanistan would prove a graveyard for the Indian Army.

The JD leader said the Nato forces were cowardly bombing the tribal areas of the country and wanted to create rifts between the nation and the army to promote their nefarious agenda.

He suggested that Pakistan should further improve its ties with China and the rulers should be aware of the conspiracies being hatched by the anti-Pakistan powers.

Hot pursuit or breach of territorial integrity in Pakistan

Hot pursuit or breach of territorial integrity

in Pakistan

Amjad Malik

Pakistan is, yet again, paying the price for flirting with the United States, who itself has not learned anything from the Russian invasion of Afghanistan. Now Pakistan finds itself  between a rock and hard place, and is viewed by many as giving too much to the Americans, who in turn, want nothing but more and more from Pakistan, hence,  the unilateral incursions into Pakistan`s sovereignty. Qasuri ex Foreign Minister confirmed some understanding on silently bearing with US predator attacks and possible limited Pakistani protest over it without physical action, but that policy does not have political and public backing. So voluntary surrender of territorial integrity is not on the table now.

These attacks, whether by way of missiles or land operations, are fatal to any principle of sovereignty because they not only establish the impractical notion that “might is right”, but also expose a deficit of truth amongst the operators of the war on terror in the international arena. Saudi Arabian King Abdullah rightly pointed out some intelligence failures and lack of cooperation in this arena and insisted on the need for international joint intelligence to combat this menace affecting us all.

The principles that guide this area, the UN Charter, were set up to avoid war, to reaffirm faith in human rights and to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligation of treaties can be maintained. Tolerance is the key to the UN Charter and makes evident the agreed prohibition of armed forces, save in the common interest. Article 2(4) of the UN charter says that “All members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the purpose of the United Nations.”

When we see the US incursions and attacks at Bajaur and Dama Dola in 2007 and especially when we see the one ground operation at `Angoor Adda` on the morning of 4 September 08  in the tribal areas of Pakistan, US guided special forces killed many civilians based upon faulty intelligence, and the high value target, as usual, was missed.  These attacks mock international law and such forums of the people of less privileged countries. These unilateral attacks may support US policy internally in their drive to widen the net, but unilateral attacks are counterproductive and are failing to alienate AL-Qaeda from the mainstream. These attacks also gather the opposition of millions of Pakistanis at home and abroad who, as if mired in an addictive love-hate relationship, see the US as an unavoidable influence for Pakistan.

It is obvious from the record that such attacks are not rare.  President Clinton authorised such action in 1993 against Iraqi intelligence facilities, and in 1998 against terror camps in Afghanistan and Sudan. President Ronald Reagan authorized such attacks in Libya.  Now in July 2008,  there is US presidential authorisation, in a further and refined extension of this US position, to attack the Tribal areas of Pakistan.  It will be difficult for the US to gather support internationally if such behaviour persists.  The US stepped up its cross border operations on the premises that Pakistan is either unwilling or unable to root out the terror network.  In 1999, the General Counsel of the US Department of Defence assessed legal issues in “information operations states”, and has interpreted international law to authorise unilateral action under the following circumstances: If a neutral nation is unable or unwilling to halt the use of its territory by one of the belligerents in a manner that gives it a military advantage, the other belligerent may have a right to attack its enemy in the neutral`s territory. There is no sound legal backing by the community of nations on that legal assessment and such tendencies are disastrous in results.  However, based on that analysis, US defence Secretary Robert Gates in September warned of hot pursuits to chase the Taliban into Pakistan as a guarantee for the safety and protection of his own soldiers from Pakistan, who itself is at the receiving end of US “civilian collateral damage” and also of those being hotly pursued.

There is no doubt that 9/11 was the most tragic incident in this decade which carried forth so much hatred and vengeance along with it, and brought the ancient civilisations into a clash where tolerance and forbearance became lost somewhere down the line. The Pakistan Army has lost over a thousand soldiers as a result of its active participation in the northern border areas of Afghanistan. According to present reports the lives of more than 400,000 civilians in the seven agencies of Fata — including South, East Waziristan, Orakzai, Kurram, Bajaur, Mohmand and Khyber agencies — are directly affected by this ongoing war on terror. The lives of 450,000 people in the four districts of the NWFP including Sawat, DI Khan, Hangu and Tank have also become worse due to the operations of the army. Sources say that 80,000 Frontier Corps and 40,000 infantry troops are manning 1100 check posts, which is the ordinary duty of the police. Sources claim that public favour and support of these operations can be achieved only if there are  assurances that this war is being conducted solely for the security of the country.

Thus, unilateral US incursions will prove fatal uniting even the disassociated ones as the US is seen more and more as the oppressor. In North and South Waziristan locals are taking up arms against their own military personnel.  And this new US policy of unilateral attacks is igniting fires in the lower ranks of military officers whose philosophy of discipline is to die in protecting the integrity of Pakistan. Both sides are picking up dead bodies and there is debris everywhere but no one is willing to discuss and address the root causes of the arms struggle and the genuine absence of the political process in these war torn areas and no talk to replace this with aid package, land mines to stop infiltration at Durand line, man to man watch on the border and befitting financial assistance to allies in this task and victims . A way forward could be a joint Ariel cooperation to stop the insurgency, aid packages for the affected, a reviving of the Jarga system in tribal areas, a renegotiating of settlements to root out foreign elements who are pro Al-Qaeda, winning on perception, full joint progress on intelligence sharing and border security maintenance. This way forward could productively alienate Al-Qaeda from the mainstream Pashtun population whose hearts and minds the Taliban are trying to win.

The law, on the other hand, of `hot pursuit` is a dubious one.  The Hot Pursuit Principle was basically established to chase insurgents in territories of water and for country A`s naval forces, for example, to chase criminals who run for shelter in Country B`s waters after committing a crime in country A`s seas. This right was established under Article 111 of the 1982 UN convention, which is mirrored originally in Article 23 of 1958 UN convention both of which establish rights of nations on the sea. Yet this principle, this “right of hot pursuit”, limited with very tight conditions, is still being employed by ground and air forces.

Countries have in the past used cross border attacks: Turkey against Kurds in North Iraq last year,  Columbia against  `Farak` rebels seeking refuge in Equador and Israel taking refuge under the same principle when it attacked `Hizb Ullah` locations in Lebanon. Analysts internationally have reservations about the usage of such law and are adamant that the Hot Pursuit Principle may only be used when an enemy is physically being chased while entering into another`s territory.  When US forces attacked Pakistan last month it was not chasing the enemy on the ground.  Moreover, the US did not have a clear mandate by the UN Security Council for such pursuits.

NATO did show restraint at the time and disassociated itself from these US actions, showing a clear drift away from the US application of international law. Article 51 of the UN Charter addresses the defence of nations and has many prerequisites requiring “real and present danger” to a state and where there is no other option but to use the right of a self defence. Since Pakistan is a non-NATO ally, and a front line state in the war on terror, there seems no reason for such retaliatory attacks when both nations are not at war with each other, but instead, fighting for a common cause. Under International law, post 9/11, the UN, under Resolution 1373, binds states to control non-state elements that can endanger the national security of other states. Whether it is Michael Scarf at the Council on Foreign Relations or Peter Denison of the University of Maryland School of Law, they all have a clear understanding that hot pursuit establishes rules of engagement at sea. States bear a responsibility to have effective control of their own areas, not allowing terrorism to flourish. Such states face UN sanction, if in default.

Winning the heart and minds of affected people is the key to prevent them from picking up arms against their own army and supporting the Taliban. Effective diplomacy is needed to calm the super power to avoid experimental military actions before their November elections.  The US seems determined to find a high value target leaving dead bodies behind.  The resulting bloodshed could be fatal to Pakistan as a state and dangerous for the world in general. We must heed the call of Nawaz Sharif  and PPP sensibles who call for a Parliamentary oversight of US-Pakistan cooperation, and call for a dialogue with the Pakistani Tribals who has a history of warfare.  The world, and the US, should also listen to the voice of Imran Khan, a cricketing legend turned politician, who on 25 September whilst addressing US lawyers at Brussels, strongly criticised the USA`s unrealistic “war on terror” and the way this war is fought. He challenged US strategy that wages war in a counterproductive way. Being Pakhtun himself, he highlighted that Alexander the Great, the Mongols, the Moguls, the British and the Russians all came to conquer this land. All returned with empty hands and unfinished business.

Mr. Kahn calls for a review of the current US strategy which is failing to alienate Pashtun Pakistani people to Al Qaeda and the Taliban and creating a catastrophe and an up roar in those areas where millions are homeless as victims. This war can only be won with unity of thought, collective effort, and joint cooperation of intelligence, with fast economic activity and packages. Single handedly, one may attack a few areas in any country using dubious legality under the guise of `hot pursuit` and avoiding the UN National Security Council, but one will alienate oneself from the international community and may attract many enemies in return and who knows where they may hit back in retaliation.  I finish with Prophet`s companion Hazrat Ali’s quote that hopeless nations consider an opportunity as a difficulty, whereas the hopeful one`s translate the same  difficulty into an opportunity. This is the time for international community to consider this knock on their door as a difficulty or an opportunity to bring peace, justice and humanity in the world, as opposed to war, catastrophe and bloodshed.

Crime up in Afghanistan, as is nostalgia for Taliban

Crime up in Afghanistan,

as is nostalgia for Taliban

Mirza Kunduzai, 58, a slight man with a short white goatee, had almost reached his house after a day of trading in the capital’s open-air…

Traders count their money in Kabul's open-air currency-exchange market. Several traders have been kidnapped or killed, making some nostalgic for the days when the Taliban ruled.

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PAMELA CONSTABLE / THE WASHINGTON POST

Traders count their money in Kabul’s open-air currency-exchange market. Several traders have been kidnapped or killed, making some nostalgic for the days when the Taliban ruled.

KABUL, Afghanistan — Mirza Kunduzai, 58, a slight man with a short white goatee, had almost reached his house after a day of trading in the capital’s open-air currency market when his taxi was forced to a stop by six heavily armed men dressed in Afghan National Army uniforms.

For the next week, Kunduzai recounted, he endured one horror after another — beaten unconscious, hooded and handcuffed, strung up by his wrists and ankles, dumped in a filthy latrine — while his family frantically tried to raise the kidnappers’ astronomical ransom demand of $2 million.

“I was 95 percent sure I was a dead man,” Kunduzai said recently. “They said if my family went to the police, they would chop off my fingers and send them to my wife. I begged them to be reasonable. I offered them my house and my farmland back home. Finally, they agreed to settle for $500,000 and released me. I am poor again, but I am thankful to be alive.”

While Taliban insurgents stage increasing attacks in the Afghan countryside, equally fast-expanding violent crime — kidnappings, carjackings, drug-related killings and highway robberies — is plaguing the capital of 5 million and the vital truck and bus routes that connect major cities. It is making some Afghans nostalgic for the low-crime days before 2001, when the Taliban sternly ruled most of the country.

Today’s problem, which experts say is intertwined with widespread official corruption, opium trafficking and the get-rich-quick boom of postwar aid and reconstruction, is threatening to destroy public confidence in the government of President Hamid Karzai and drive away what little investment the desperately poor country is attracting.

Police and soldiers are everywhere in Kabul — patrolling traffic circles and markets, cruising in open pickup trucks. Armed private guards stand outside newly built glass offices and wedding salons. Every week, more streets are blocked by massive concrete barricades to shelter embassies, official buildings and compounds used by U.S. and NATO forces.

“The security situation is normal. Our police are honest and patriotic, and they are getting stronger day by day,” Gen. Ali Shah Paktiawol, chief of criminal investigations for the Kabul police, said in a brief interview. He dismissed concerns about growing urban insecurity as “enemy propaganda” and said many so-called kidnappings are romantic elopements.

But the next day, Paktiawol narrowly escaped assassination when a remote-controlled bomb exploded under his vehicle on the outskirts of Kabul, where he had gone to investigate the late-night shooting of three policemen. The general escaped with minor injuries, but his three bodyguards were killed. Officials blamed the Taliban.

In the streets and shops of this sprawling city, many residents say they have virtually stopped going out at night. Wealthy families and traders such as Kunduzai have reported dozens of kidnappings for ransom this year — often by gangs they believe to be members of the security forces.

The burgeoning drug trade, by which Afghan opium reaches international markets and provides more than 75 percent of the world’s heroin, has brought more weapons and wealth into the criminal orbit, corrupting cooperative officials and eliminating scrupulous ones.

Just weeks ago, Alim Hanif, the chief judge of the country’s Central Narcotics Tribunal and a man known for rare honesty in a graft-ridden system, was assassinated in Kabul. Officials said he had received numerous phone and text messages warning him to acquit a suspected drug dealer or face death.

Although Taliban fighters routinely hang and behead people in rural areas, the growth of crime and the lack of justice are the reasons most frequently cited by Afghans who support the reconstituted Islamist militia. More and more, people here look back to the era of harsh Taliban rule from 1996 to 2001, describing it as a time of security and peace.

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One group whose lives and livelihoods now face constant danger from armed criminals are the truckers and bus drivers who ply the highways between Kabul and the major provincial cities of Herat, Kandahar and Jalalabad. Although vulnerable to Taliban attack, the drivers say they are just as often ambushed and robbed by well-armed thieves.

Mohammed Hussain, 40, was driving one of two passenger buses traveling together on a lonely stretch of highway from Herat to Kabul recently when heavily armed men attacked about 4 a.m. The gang shot at Hussain’s fleeing bus, leaving bullet holes in the windows, and stopped the second bus, forcing it off the road and into a village. There they searched every passenger at gunpoint, confiscating money and jewelry.

“I was lucky. I had 57 passengers, including women and children,” Hussain said. “The thieves wait for us in the dark, and they have powerful weapons. If we go to the police for help, they are either scared or involved in crime themselves.

“In the Taliban time, the roads were totally safe. You could drive anywhere in the country, 24 hours a day. Now, you take your life in your hands every time you leave on a trip.”

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

Sources: Taliban split with al Qaeda, seek peace

Sources: Taliban split with al Qaeda, seek peace

By Nic Robertson

LONDON, England (CNN) — Taliban leaders are holding Saudi-brokered talks with the Afghan government to end the country’s bloody conflict — and are severing their ties with al Qaeda, sources close to the historic discussions have told CNN.

King Abdullah of Saudia Arabia hosted meetings between the Afghan government and the Taliban, a source says.

King Abdullah of Saudia Arabia hosted meetings between the Afghan government and the Taliban, a source says.

The militia, which has been intensifying its attacks on the U.S.-led coalition that toppled it from power in 2001 for harboring Osama bin Laden’s terrorist network, has been involved four days of talks hosted by Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah, says the source.

The talks — the first of their kind aimed at resolving the lengthy conflict in Afghanistan — mark a significant move by the Saudi leadership to take a direct role in Afghanistan, hosting delegates who have until recently been their enemies.

They also mark a sidestepping of key “war on terror” ally Pakistan, frequently accused of not doing enough to tackle militants sheltering on its territory, which has previously been a conduit for talks between the Saudis and Afghanistan.

According to the source, fugitive Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar — high on the U.S. military’s most-wanted list — was not present, but his representatives were keen to stress the reclusive cleric is no longer allied to al Qaeda.

Details of the Taliban leader’s split with al Qaeda have never been made public before, but the new claims confirm what another source with an intimate knowledge of the militia and Mullah Omar has told CNN in the past.

The current round of talks, said to have been taken two years of intense behind-the-scenes negotiations to come to fruition, is anticipated to be the first step in a long process to secure a negotiated end to the conflict.

But U.S.- and Europe-friendly Saudi Arabia‘s involvement has been propelled by a mounting death toll among coalition troops amid a worsening violence that has also claimed many civilian casualties.

A Saudi source familiar with the talks confirmed that they happened and said the Saudis take seriously their role in facilitating discussions between parties to the conflict.

A second round of talks is scheduled to take place in two months, the Saudi source said.

The Afghan government believes the Taliban cannot be defeated militarily, and the Taliban believe that they can’t win a war against the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan, the Saudi source said.

The involvement of the Saudis is also seen as an expression of fear that Iran could take advantage of U.S. failings in Afghanistan, as it is seen to be doing in Iraq.

Several Afghan sources familiar with Iranian activities in Afghanistan have said Iranian officials and diplomats who are investing in business and building education facilities are lobbying politicians in Kabul.

The Afghan sources wish to remain anonymous due to their political roles.

Coalition commanders regularly accuse Iran of arming the Taliban, and Western diplomats privately suggest that Iran is working against U.S. interests in Afghanistan, making it harder to bring peace.

Saudi sources say perceived Iranian expansionism is one of Saudi Arabia’s biggest concerns.

The talks in Mecca took place between September 24 and 27 and involved 11 Taliban delegates, two Afghan government officials, a representative of former mujahadeen commander and U.S. foe Gulbadin Hekmatyar, and three others.

King Abdullah broke fast during the Eid al-Fitr holiday with the 17-member Afghan delegation — an act intended to show his commitment to ending the conflict. Eid al-Fitr marks the end of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting.

Saudi Arabia was one of only three countries that recognized the Taliban leadership during its rule over Afghanistan in the 1990s, but that relationship was severed over Mullah Omar’s refusal to hand over bin Laden.

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During the talks, described as an ice breaker, all parties agreed that the only solution to Afghanistan’s conflict is through dialogue, not fighting.

Further talks are expected in Saudi Arabia involving this core group and others.

Financial Bailout Plan: What Does It Mean for Capitalism and Democracy?

Financial Bailout Plan: What Does It Mean for Capitalism

and Democracy?


By J.D. Seagraves

For four shining days last week, it appeared that America was still a representative republic—of, by and for the people. The week opened with the House of Representatives defeating the $700 billion Wall Street bailout by a vote of 227 to 206. But the Senate, the more aristocratic house of the bicameral legislature, quickly drafted its own bailout bill and passed it by a vote of 75-24. Then on Friday, while populists were still celebrating Monday’s bailout defeat, the bigger and badder bailout bill was passed by the House and quickly signed into law by President Bush.

How did it happen so fast? How did we go from beating back this colossal transfer of wealth to an even worse version of the same bill becoming law just four days later? And what does the bailout’s passage mean for the future of capitalism and American democracy?

What Does the Bailout Mean?

First, the specifics of the bill. The general idea is that the federal government will buy up “$700 billion worth” of “illiquid” securities, thereby “stabilizing” the financial and credit markets. The “$700 billion” must appear in quotes because the securities have much lower value on the open market, which is why they’re “illiquid.” And while apologists for the bailout claim that the federal government actually stands to make money as a result of Friday’s legislation, the fact of the matter is that, if this $700 billion “investment” had any legitimate potential to be profitable, private entities would be more than happy to supply the capital.

But the bailout bill that President Bush ultimately signed does much more than just transfer $700 billion from the American taxpayer to millionaires and billionaires on Wall Street: it also grants the federal government unprecedented powers. For example, there won’t be another bailout bill any time soon, and not because this one will have worked so well. One of the provisions of this bill allows the Secretary of the Treasury to use public funds to buy up any financial asset he wants—without congressional approval. All he (or, in the future, she) needs to do is “notify” Congress.

Think about this for a moment: there will be no more debate. The next time a bailout is “needed,” Henry Paulson or his successor can be like Nike and just do it. The Federal Reserve already had that power, but it was reaffirmed in the bailout bill. Thus, not only was wealth transferred from the middle class and poor to the rich as a result of this bailout, but power was also transferred from the legislative branch—that branch most accountable to the people—to the executive branch and the Federal Reserve.

Why Did the Bailout Pass?

The original bailout bill was just three pages in length. The one that passed on Friday was several hundred pages long. In addition to added powers being given to the executive branch, the new bill was greased with enough pork to build a million bridges to nowhere. And of course, the pork was directed at those House members who had voted no on Monday but were of fungible-enough integrity that a little lard thrown their way could easily sway them. It worked, as the vote went from 206 for and 227 against, to 263 for and 171 against—a swing of 57 votes.

Another cause of the bailout’s easy passage: Barack Obama, a supporter of the bailout, called on black legislators and urged them to change their no votes to yeses. It should be noted that Obama’s top contributor is Goldman Sachs, and that Citigroup, JP Morgan, UBS and the now-bankrupt Lehman Brothers are also in his top ten. But if voters want to express their disgust with the bailout, they’ll have to look outside of the two-party system, since John McCain and Sarah Palin support the bailout and oppose laissez-faire just as steadfastly as Obama-Biden.

What Was the Immediate Impact?

When the bailout first failed, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell by a record 777 points. Financial pundits were nearly universal in blaming the House’s brief showing of fiscal restraint as the cause of the market’s woes. But when the new bill passed the Senate on Wednesday night, the markets crashed on Thursday, with the Dow falling by 3.2% and the S&P and NASDAQ faring even worse. And then on Friday, after the House passed the bill, the Dow swung from +3% to -1.5%, and the S&P and NASDAQ also turned gains into losses.

For the week, the three major indices lost 7.3% (Dow), 9.4% (S&P) and 10.8% (NASDAQ)—these are all much greater than the one-day losses of Monday. Clearly, the failed bailout wasn’t the cause of the market’s decline, as the bill’s successful passage caused stocks to drop even further.

Where Do We Go From Here?

This is a critical time in American history, in which we must reevaluate what it means to be a democratic republic built on the principles of private property and free enterprise. As one Republican congressman put it, what we really have now is “capitalism on the way up and socialism on the way down,” meaning that we let corporations privatize profits in good times and then socialize losses when times are tough. What’s more, we allow our representatives to thwart the popular will and redistribute wealth from their constituents to their campaign financiers, while the mainstream media mis-reports and distorts all along.

Libertarian columnist Bill Huff characterized the recent events as a “run on the state.” Much like a “run on the bank,” when people race to withdraw their deposits before a bank goes belly up, Huff says the bailout is the last ditch effort for the rich and powerful to extract wealth from the federal government before it goes bankrupt. With the national debt soaring this past week, and the Federal Reserve expanding the money supply at an unprecedented pace, one has to wonder when people are simply going to refuse to accept U.S. dollars anymore. And when that happens, then what?

The Tripwire

The Tripwire


by
D. van Oort & J.F.A. Davidson
From The Resister

“How we burned in the prison camps later thinking: What would things have been like if every security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive?”– Alexander Solzhenitzyn, Gulag Archipelago

What would be the tripwire resulting in open rebellion? Examining the Bill of Rights, and considering EXISTING laws only, and not failed attempts, you will find that every clause has been violated to one degree or another.

Documenting those violations would fill volumes, and it is important to remember that only government can violate the exercise of unalienable individual rights and claim immunity from retribution. We omit martial law or public suspension of the Constitution as a tripwire. The overnight installation of dictatorship obviously would qualify as “the tripwire,” but is not likely to occur. What has occurred, what is occurring, is the implementation of every aspect of such dictatorship without an overt declaration. The Constitution is being killed by attrition. The Communist Manifesto is being installed by accretion. Any suggestion that martial law is the tripwire leads us to the question: what aspect of martial law justifies the first shot?

For much the same reason, we will leave out mass executions of the Waco variety. For one thing, they are composite abuses of numerous individual rights. Yet, among those abuses, the real tripwire may exist. For another, those events are shrouded in a fog of obfuscation and outright lies. Any rebellion must be based on extremely hard and known facts. Similarly, no rebellion will succeed if its fundamental reasons for occurring are not explicitly identified. Those reasons cannot be explicitly identified if, in place of their identification, we simply point to a composite such as Waco and say, “See, that’s why; figure it out.” Any suggestion that more Wacos, in and of themselves, would be the tripwire, simply leads us back again to the question: what aspect of them justifies rebellion?

For the same reasons, we leave out a detailed account of Ayn Rand’s identification of the four essential characteristics of tyranny. She identified them quite correctly, but together they are just another composite from which we must choose precipitating causes. These characteristics are: one-party rule, executions without trial for political offenses, expropriation or nationalisation of private property, and “above all,” censorship.

With regard to the first characteristic of tyranny, what is the real difference between the Fabian socialist Republican Party and the overtly [Bolshevik] socialist Democratic Party? Nothing but time. Regarding the second we have the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team and the ATF’s enforcement branch. In action they simply avoid the embarrassment of a trial. Regarding the third, we have asset forfeiture “laws,” the IRS, the EPA, the FCC, the FDA, the Federal Reserve, the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division, and a myriad of other executive branch agencies, departments, and commissions whose sole function is to regulate business and the economy. Regulating business for the common good (fascism) is no different in principle than outright nationalisation (communism).

However, the fourth characteristic of tyranny, censorship, is the obvious primary tripwire. When ideology and the reporting of facts and how-to instructions are forbidden, there is nothing remaining but to fight. Freedom of speech and persuasion — the freedom to attempt to rationally convince willing listeners — is so fundamental an individual right that without it no other rights, not even the existence of rights, can be enforced, claimed, debated, or even queried.

Does this censorship include the regulation of the “public” airwaves by the FCC, as in the censorship which prohibits tobacco companies from advertising — in their own defense — on the same medium which is commanded by government decree to carry “public service” propaganda against them? Does it include federal compulsion of broadcasters to air politically-correct twaddle for “The Children”? Does it include the Orwellian “Communications Decency Act”? Does it include any irrationalist “sexual harassment” or tribalist “hate speech” laws which prohibit certain spoken words among co-workers? The answer: unequivocally yes.

Although the above do not pertain to ideological or political speech, yet they are censorship and are designed to intimidate people into the acceptance of de facto censorship. We say that any abrogation of free speech, and any form of censorship, which cannot be rectified by the soap box, the ballot box, or the jury box, must be rectified by the cartridge box — or lost forever.

Americans have been stumbling over tripwires justifying overt resistance for well over 130 years. On one hand, we submit that gun confiscation is a secondary tripwire only. It is second to censorship because if speech is illegal we cannot even discuss the repeal of gun control, or any other population controls. If only guns are illegal, we may still convince people to repeal those laws. On the other hand, gun confiscation may be a sufficient tripwire because the primary one, censorship, can be fully implemented only after the citizenry has been disarmed.

Resistance, in the context of this article, means those legitimate acts by individuals which compel government to restrict its activities and authority to those powers delegated to the Congress by the people in the Constitution.

The distinction to be drawn here is that the objective of patriotic resistance is to restore original Constitutional government, not change the form of government. To this end we believe:

The enforcement of any laws — local, state, or federal — that through the action or inaction of the courts makes nugatory the individual means of resisting tyranny, justifies resistance.

The operative terms of the above statement are the parameters that must be defined and understood if resistance to tyranny and despotism is to be honourable, and for the cause of individual liberty, rather than anarchy resulting from a new gang of tyrants. Rebellion can never be justified so long as objective means of redress are available, which are themselves not subverted or rendered impotent by further or parallel subjective legislation.

The goal of patriots throughout the country must be the restoration of objective constitutional law and order. The failure to enforce a subjective law (i.e. the Communications Decency Act) does not justify that law existing, but it also does not justify resistance. This is because non-enforcement leaves avenues of redress, including the forbidden activity itself, still available. Should a lower court uphold or ignore a case that challenges subjective law, peaceable means of redress are still open by higher or lateral courts in another jurisdiction.

However, should the U.S. Supreme Court uphold subjective laws, or refuse to hear the cases challenging them, then the legislative, executive, and judicial branches have all failed to guarantee individual liberty, from the widest principles to the smallest details. A single refusal by the highest court in the land to overturn a whim-based subjective law, or to refuse to hear the case, is sufficient to justify resistance to that law because there is simply nowhere left to turn for further attempts at redress. At such time nobody is morally bound by that law. Tyranny gets one chance per branch.

America is either a constitutional republic or it is not. If we can restore our republic it will ultimately occur through reason, and reason will then lead our representatives to make unconstitutional those laws which, by any objective standard of justice, should have never been considered in the first place. However, we cannot assert our claim to restore our liberty if we but accede to a single socialist construct. Freedom and serfdom cannot coexist. We cannot have it both ways.

Life, and the means to preserve it, cannot coexist with disarmament. Liberty, and its rational exercise, cannot coexist with subjective constraints. Property, and its acquisition, use, and disposal cannot coexist with expropriation. The federal government’s first task is to obey the Constitution. It has refused. Our first task as free men is to force the government to obey it again. The Constitution of the United States of America is a constraint on the federal government, not on the individual.

Likewise, the constitutions of the various states are constraints on the state governments, not on the individual. The Constitution contains many provisions allowing the violation of our natural rights as free men by immoral and unethical men in government. The true heroes of the ratification debates were the Anti-federalists, who secured Federalist guarantees that the Bill of Rights would amend the Constitution.

To their undying credit, the Federalists lived up to their promise. Nevertheless, only after constitutional limitations on government have been restored in their original form can we consider amending the Constitution to redress its very few remaining defects (for example, the absence of a separation of state and the economy clause).

Laws that make nugatory the means of resisting tyranny and despotism determine the tripwire. The creeping legislative erosion of the 2nd Amendment is not the only tripwire that justifies resistance. We submit that any gun control is a secondary tripwire. Not only because it can be effortlessly evaded, but also because it strengthens our cause. It is second only to censorship. If speech is illegal we can discuss neither repeal of gun control, or the repeal of any other unconstitutional “law.” Censorship is not a tripwire, it is THE tripwire. Thus, by default, censorship morally justifies rebellion.

Under censorship, no other rights, including the right to be free from censorship, can be advocated, discussed, or queried. It is incorrect to say that after censorship comes utter subjugation. Censorship is utter subjugation. There is no greater usurpation of liberty while remaining alive. After censorship come the death camps, and they are not a prerequisite of censorship, they are merely a symptom of it. Censorship qua censorship is sufficient in itself to justify open rebellion against any government that legislates, enforces, or upholds it.

However, that is not the half of it. Censorship is alone in being the only violation of individual rights that does not require actual enforcement or challenges in court, before rebellion is justified. When the government forbids you to speak or write, or use your own or a supporter’s property to address willing listeners or readers, that government has openly and forcibly declared that the art of peaceful persuasion is dead and will not be tolerated. Upon that very instant, all peaceful avenues of redress have been closed and the only possible method of regaining that liberty is force. Whenever we give up that force, we are not only ruined, we deserve to be ruined.

Censorship is already being “legally” imposed through accretion by compromisers, appeasers, and pragmatists within government at all levels. Note the demands by “progressive” organisations and self-appointed “civil rights” groups to ban so-called “hate” speech (they mean thought and debate), or “extreme” language (they mean principled dissent), or “paramilitary” books (they mean the knowledge of how to resist). When our government imposes censorship, it will be because our ability to use force to resist censorship no longer exists. Buying copies of The Resister is not yet prohibited; buying machine guns already is. Unwarranted search for unlicensed books has not yet occurred; unwarranted search for unlicensed weapons has already begun. As your unalienable right of peaceable discussion and dissent is being daily abridged, your right to peaceably assemble and associate in advocacy of your own self-defence, according to your own free will, has already been outlawed (courtesy of ADL’s “model” anti-militia legislation).

Unconstitutional federal agencies now arm themselves with weapons that you may not own, and train in tactics that you are prohibited from mastering. Before a government is sure you won’t resist, it will make sure you can’t resist.

The most irrational, contradictory, short-range, whimsical notion possible to men who claim the unalienable right to resist tyrannical government is the notion that they must first let their ability to resist be stripped from them before they have the right to use it. This is the argument of so-called conservatives who pish-tosh the notion of legislative “slippery-slopes,” and sycophantic adherents of a supreme Court that has no constitutionally delegated authority to interpret the Constitution in the first place. We reject the notion of mindless compliance with subjective “laws.” Subjective laws must be resisted on metaphysical and epistemological principles, moral and ethical grounds, and on constitutional and historical precedence.

No rational man desires ends without means. No rational man can be faced with his own imminent subjugation and truly believe that, once things are as bad as they can get, “sometime” “someone” will do “something” “somehow” to counteract that trend. Any man who counsels another to appeal to those mystical equivalents of “divine intervention” for “deliverance” from tyranny is our enemy by all principles conceivable within the scope of rational human intelligence.

The time to organise resistance is not after censorship, but before it. The time to prepare resistance is when our ability to resist is being threatened. The time to begin resistance is when that threat has been upheld or ignored by the courts. The unalienable rights that safeguard our ability to resist are limited to those which, if not violated, allow us to plan and use all materials necessary for resistance. We submit that only the following meet that criteria:

  • freedom of speech and of the press, and the right to peaceably assemble–so that we may advocate ideas, report and discuss news, and instruct others how to carry out resistance activities (1st Amendment);
  • the right to keep and bear arms — so that we may have appropriate force in our hands should we need it, and be trained to use such force as necessary (2nd Amendment);
  • the right to be let alone — so that we may be free of government intrusion in our lives, liberty, and property (3rd Amendment));
  • the right to be secure in our persons, dwellings, papers, and property from unwarranted, unaffirmed searches and seizures — so that our records, ideological materials, and weapons will remain in our hands (4th Amendment).

For the purpose of this discussion, we believe that no other rights are relevant because if every individual right other than those four were violated — although it would be an unspeakably evil act on the part of the government, justifying immediate and unforgiving resistance — their abridgement would not effect our ability to resist. If any of the first four amendments are infringed by legislation, enforced by executive power, and their abrogation is upheld or ignored by the courts, unremitting, forcible resistance, and aid and comfort to its citizen-soldiers, is a moral imperative for every single person who believes that life, liberty, and property are unalienable and self-existing, and not grants of government privilege.

“The United States should get rid of its militias.” — Josef Stalin, 1933

“The foundation of a free government begins to be undermined when freedom of speech on political subjects is restrained; it is destroyed when freedom of speech is wholly denied.” — William Rawle, LL.D. Philadelphia, 1825

“Laws that forbid the carrying of arms … disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes … Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.” — Thomas Jefferson (1764) — Quoting 18th Century criminologist Cesare Beccaria in On Crimes and Punishment

Fake Christians fabricate conflict with Islam

Fake Christians fabricate conflict with Islam

When I posted this video nine months ago I was brainwashed to believe that these people in the video were real Christians but now I know they’re just anti Islamic Zionists hiding behind Christianity.

“That sucks how secularists have such a great party turning Muslims against Christians and viceversa so easily. A Muslim thinking these evangelists fanatics – evangelism being a pro Israeli anti Muslim ideology and not a religion – are Christians, is no different from a Christian who thinks Al-Qaeda – a Mossad authored and ex CIA squad of wars justificators – is a Muslim movement. While ones bash others, and secularists spread their ideology of religion being evil, these people have a blast.” -germanicus24

Big thanks to hanumica and Ubeyda for putting the English subtitles.

Obama to increase Ransom to Zionist War State

Obama to increase aid to Israel
Mon, 06 Oct 2008 02:39:12 GMT

Obama attending the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) — the most powerful pro-Israel lobby in US

US presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama is committed to increasing foreign aid to Israel, should he be elected in the November ballot.

Obama would honor existing agreements concerning aid to Israel and would work toward “increasing aid to Israel to USD 30 billion over 10 years,” a spokeswoman for Obama told Israeli business daily Globes.

In the vice presidential debate last week, Obama’s running mate Senator Joe Biden said their administration would have to hold back on plans to double foreign aid in general, in light of the financial crisis in the US.

Most of US aid to Israel is in form of military aid and Israelis have received more US military assistance than any other nation. Since 1987, the US has provided an annual average of USD 1.8 billion in military assistance to Israel.

The annual US military aid to Israel was increased to USD 2.4 billion from the $1.8 billion, following a deal signed in January 2001, at the end of the Clinton administration.

In 2007, the United States increased its military aid to Israel by over 25%, to an annual average of USD 3 billion for the following ten-year period, staring at USD 2.550 billion for 2008 and growing by USD 150 million each year.

Next: The Mother Of All Bank Runs?

Next: The Mother Of All Bank Runs?

Nouriel Roubini

It’s plain that the current financial crisis is worsening in spite of–or perhaps because of–the Treasury rescue plan.

The strains in financial markets are becoming more, rather than less, severe in spite of the nuclear option of a $700 billion package: Interbank spreads are widening and are at a level never seen before; credit spreads are widening to new peaks; short-term Treasury yields are going back to near-zero levels as there is flight to safety; credit default swap (CDS) spreads for financial institutions are rising to extreme levels as the ban on shorting of financial stock has moved the pressures on financial firms to the CDS market; and stock markets around the world have reacted very negatively to this rescue package.

Financial institutions in the U.S. and in advanced economies are going bust. In the U.S., the latest victims were Washington Mutual (nyse: WM news people ) (the largest U.S. savings and loan) and Wachovia (nyse: WB news people ) (the sixth largest U.S. bank). In the U.K., after Northern Rock (other-otc: NHRKF.PK news people ) and the acquisition of HBOS by Lloyds TSB (nyse: LYG news people ), you now have the bust and rescue of Bradford & Bingley; in Belgium you had Fortis (other-otc: FORSY.PK news people ) going bust and being rescued over the weekend; in Germany, Hypo Real Estate, a major financial institution near bust, has also needed rescue.

So, this is not just a U.S. financial crisis. It is a global crisis hitting institutions in the U.K., the Euro-zone and other advanced economies (Iceland, Australia, New Zealand, Canada etc.).

The strains in financial markets–especially short-term interbank markets–are becoming more severe in spite of the Fed and other central banks having injected $300 billion of liquidity in the financial system last week alone, including massive liquidity lending to Morgan Stanley (nyse: MS news people ) and Goldman Sachs (nyse: GS news people ).

In a solvency and credit crisis that goes well beyond illiquidity, no one is lending to counter-parties as no one trusts any counter-party (even the safest ones), and everyone is hoarding the liquidity that is injected by central banks. And since this liquidity goes only to banks and major broker-dealers, the rest of the shadow banking system has no access to this liquidity as the credit transmission mechanisms are blocked.

After the bust of Bear and Lehman, and the merger of Merrill with Bank of America (nyse: BAC news people ), I suggested that Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs should also merge with a large financial institution that has a large base of insured deposits so as to avoid a run on their overnight liabilities. Instead, Morgan and Goldman took a cosmetic approach, converting themselves into bank holding companies as a way to get further liquidity support–and regulation as banks–from the Fed and as a way to acquire safe deposits.

But neither institution can create, in a short time, a franchise of branches, and neither one has the time and resources to acquire smaller banks. And the injection of $8 billion of Japanese capital into Morgan and $5 billion of capital from Warren Buffett into Goldman is a drop in the ocean, as both institutions need much more capital.

Thus, the gambit of converting into banks while not being banks yet hasn’t worked, and the run against them has accelerated in the last week: Morgan’s CDS spread went through the roof on Friday to over 1200, and the firm has already lost over a third of its hedge-fund clients together with the highly profitable prime brokering business (this is really a kiss of death for Morgan). And the coming roll-off of the interbank lines to Morgan would seal its collapse. Even Goldman Sachs is under severe stress: Most of its lines of business (including trading) are now losing money.

Both institutions should stop playing for time, as delay will be destructive: They should merge now with a large foreign financial institution, as no U.S. institution is sound enough and large enough to be a solid merger partner. If John Mack and Lloyd Blankfein don’t want to end up like Richard Fuld, they should do a John Thain today and merge as fast as they can with other large commercial banks. Maybe Mitsubishi (other-otc: MSBHY.PK news people ) and a bunch of Japanese life insurers can take over Morgan.

The only institution sound enough to swallow Goldman may be HSBC (nyse: HBC news people ). Or maybe Nomura in Japan should make a bid for Goldman. Either way, Mack and Blankfein should sell at a major discount before they end up like Bear and are offered, in a few weeks, only a couple of bucks a share for their faltering operation. And the Fed and Treasury should tell them to hurry up, as they are both much bigger than Bear or Lehman, and their collapse would have severe systemic effects.

When investors don’t trust even venerable institutions like Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, you know that the financial crisis is as severe as ever. When a nuclear option of a monster $700 billion rescue plan is not even able to rally stock markets, you know this is a global crisis of confidence in the financial system.

The next step of this panic could be the mother of all bank runs, i.e. a run on the trillion dollar-plus of the cross-border short-term interbank liabilities of the U.S. banking and financial system, as foreign banks start to worry about the safety of their liquid exposures to U.S. financial institutions. A silent cross-border bank run has already started, as foreign banks are worried about the solvency of U.S. banks and are starting to reduce their exposure. And if this run accelerates–as it may now–a total meltdown of the U.S. financial system could occur.

The U.S. and foreign policy authorities seem to be clueless about what needs to be done next. Maybe they should today start with a coordinated 100 basis points reduction in policy rates in all the major economies in the world to show that they are starting to seriously recognize and address this rapidly worsening financial crisis.