Man the Lifeboats!

Man the Lifeboats!

How the crash of the finance economy can lead

to a renaissance of the real economy

March 5, 2009

by Gregg Brazel

“Gentlemen, I have had men watching you for a long time and I am convinced that you have used the funds of the bank to speculate in the breadstuffs of the country. When you won, you divided the profits amongst you, and when you lost, you charged it to the (central) bank. You tell me that if I take the deposits from the bank and annul its charter, I shall ruin ten thousand families. That may be true, gentlemen, but that is your sin! Should I let you go on, you will ruin fifty thousand families, and that would be my sin! You are a den of vipers and thieves.”

—Andrew Jackson

“The central bank is an institution of the most deadly hostility existing against the Principles and form of our Constitution. I am an Enemy to all banks discounting bills or notes for anything but Coin. If the American People allow private banks to control the issuance of their currency, first by inflation and then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them will deprive the People of all their Property until their Children will wake up homeless on the continent their Fathers conquered.”

—Thomas Jefferson

“We will preserve the banking system that is owned and managed by the private sector.”

—Current Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner (formerly Governor of New York branch of the U.S. Central Bank/Fed)


The captain and crew of the USS Empire, incompetent and blind drunk on bubbles, have run the mighty ship headlong into an immovable reef.  It was what can only be called a very ‘timely’ accident, beautifully synchronized with a pirate-like escape whence they abandoned the wreck completely unscathed, leaving the passengers behind but taking along a good share of the gold stowed below.

Still not disclosed is that the reef was in plain sight for anyone who cared to look through the scope and see what lie in wait a few miles ahead.  The danger was in fact made known by many clear-eyed deck hands who tried to sound the alarms and change course; they were dubbed pessimists, crackpots and nonbelievers, and promptly thrown overboard.

The designers, engineers and financiers of the Empire decided it best to leave off the sonar, radar and warning systems, ever trusting in the Great and Omniscient ‘Invisible Hand’ to unfailingly guide the giant ship through any and all conditions.  Anything but complete and total faith in The Hand was heresy.  At the height of religious fervor in their cult-like belief system, the fanatics convinced themselves that to install safeguards would only demonstrate their lack of faith, anger their God, and beckon disaster.

“Full speed ahead!” barked the owners of Empire, Inc.  “The Empire transports the factories of a globalized Free Market which will bring Freedom and Democracy to all shores!”  The true believers among the crew and passengers pumped their fists and repeated Empire’s mission statement without a second thought.  So blind and unguided, she raced full throttle into uncharted waters with self-deluded madmen at the helm.

If that weren’t enough, the Invisible Hand was an absentee manager in the second half of 2008, just when the Empire needed Him most.  Perhaps He was busy battening down hatches in Latin America where nationalistic typhoons pounded His fledgling FreeMarkets.  Or maybe He was busy writing checks to theright wing death squads that spread His Word and convert the heathens of the uncivilized world.  Maybe He just doesn’t care.  Who are we to question?… Mr. Hand works in mysterious ways.

So just as the captain was re-broadcasting his pitifully hysterical “All is Well” PR pitch from the seemingly invincible superstructure, the Empire struck that reef called reality with a jarring kerrang! and a metallic screech heard ’round the world.  Instantly, the underbelly of the good ship was ripped open, creating what could well be a fatal wound to the Empire as water pours in by the tons per second.  The shock of the impact also dislodged vital steerage mechanisms and severed fuel lines below, setting the engine room ablaze.

This is the state of the USS Empire today.  Despite the better judgment of the realists who see water cresting the rails, the interchangeable captains and their yes-men crews have been instructed to patch the holes and put out the fires, for the financiers are as always in charge, commanding from their hedges a safe distance away.  It’s a battle the crew cannot win, but to the shipmasters it matters not: the passengers that remain captive will do the bailing and be the only ones to go down with the ship.  The financiers’ investments are always covered first, regardless how outrageous their gambles, how criminally fraudulent their covert schemes, or how minimal their own skin in the game.

The sane people and pragmatists know that now is the time to head for the lifeboats and set out on rough water in small, manageable groups of similarly sane people.  They will row toward the safety of shore as the totaled behemoth slips to the ocean floor taking with her all those who stayed aboard trying to fill cavern-sized leaks and extinguish raging fires with nothing but bales of paper.

Hit Reset

Those lifeboats are our real hope and the future of our economy.  They are our small towns and cities, family farms, small- to medium-sized businesses, and genuine artists.  But they are in severe disrepair due to neglect and 30-years of concerted attacks by the parasitic neo-colonialists who do not create, grow, build, repair, or do, but simply skim the profits from the wage slaves who actually do the work and create real wealth.  It is imperative that we begin the task of restoring these valuable assets as the collapse of global credit and declining energy supplies will dictate that we live more locally, on real wealth instead of bank issued debt.

The current mission of patching the holes on the sinking ship is a fool’s errand.  Our national debt is $11 trillion; Obama will add another $1.3 trillion this year alone. Total national debt including unfunded entitlements is $54 trillion, or $176,000 per citizen, four times GDP. The derivatives bubble is maybe $1.2 QUADRILLION a number once used only by astrophysicists and computer scientists (granted, it’s all fictional computer wealth, but the banksters still think it is their due).   Meanwhile, personal savings, banks, businesses, and governments are all in the red.  In short, this country is as broke as the 1980′s Soviet Union, and now we’re voluntarily getting bogged down in Afghanistan!  You’ve gotta wonder if anyone in Washington has ever read a history book.

So, the brainiacs in the WH and Pentagon are currently escalating the war in the country known as the “Graveyard of Empires”, drone-bombing nuclear Pakistan, and ratcheting up the rhetoric against Iran, all while the first bloody quagmire staggers forth for reasons that even the military cannot say.  Aside from the fact that this blatant attempt to control MidEast oil and gas supplies will probably initiate a hot war with Russia and China, we simply cannot pay for any more wars.

But the latest claptrap on the ‘rescue’ of the banksters’ rigged global economy, that is goes like this: ‘We need to get banks lending’ and ‘get credit flowing’.  The cause of this systemic crisis is that we are drowning in an ocean of debt!  Piling on more debt is not going to fix but deepen and prolong problem.  As Albert Einstein once said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”


Economies are like governments in that both exist only to serve the people.  When they become corrupt, they work in reverse, acting together to siphon money and power upward to a small circle of elites while forcing the rest of us into a race to the bottom… precisely what we are seeing today.  These bank bailouts are not about saving your job, they are about making the banksters richer and more powerful, while preserving their rotted system that works for the few while leaving the bulk of humanity starving or eternally struggling.

So for once, the majority of the world can agree with the ‘free trade’ neoliberals (aka neoconservatives with more discreet wars):  ‘Let the markets sort it out.’  Let the insolvent banks and failed businesses go under.  Let the currency traders, World Bankers and GovCorp stooges set out without the other 99% of us to rebuild their lunatic ship and fight the wars they start.  Then we’ll see just how quickly a war can be stopped, and how few new ones will be waged.

To get out of this jam and this is key we also need to wrap our heads around the fact that money is purely imagined wealth; that is, wealth that exists only in our minds and nowhere else.  To illustrate, here’s an alternative bail out plan:  We run the money presses at full speed for a year, printing nothing but new 1,000, 5,000 and 10,000 dollar bills (I suggest these notes bear the faces of Maestro Greenspan, NAFTA Willy, and the perma-smirking Little Bush, respectively).  With our new ‘money’, we bail out every corporation and small business, and we throw in two years worth of operating costs.  We monetize the toxic assets held by the banks to re-inflate their hallucinated value, and we pay off every mortgage and loan, plus full-term interest to the banks.  Additionally, we cut every citizen a check for $10million, free and clear.  Voila, everyone is debt free and ‘rich’!   If money were real wealth, this would be a sound plan.  But it’s not, so it’s not.

We also need to understand that money is debt, and debt is money.  Every dollar issued by the Fed has interest attached, therefore it is simply mathematically impossible to ever escape the web of debt.  The Federal Reserve System was intentionally set up thus.  Also, banks issue the majority of the country’s money in the form of loans, or debt.  This debt multiplies through the system thanks to the magic of fractional reserve banking.  Presidents and patriots since the founding of the Republic have warned against such a system the reasons are now self-evident.  << here’s an excellent film on how the grandest scam works>>

Meet the new boss

Obama’s ‘financial team’ consists of the very same banksters who engineered this meltdown and are yet again profiting from their scams (deregulation, ‘too big to fail’ M&As, hoax derivatives, Ponzi scheme securities, fraudulent loans).  They continue to loot the treasury, create money out of thin air, and pile on more debt.  They also want to re-inflate the real estate and derivative bubbles when what needs to happen, and eventually will happen, is for these assets to return to their actual market values in many cases zero not dumped at face onto future generations!  Geithner & Co. are saving their cronies in the big banking houses so the incompetent, corrupt banks can buy up the small, solvent ones.  Backasswards.  This is exactly the opposite of how capitalism is supposed to work.  It’s all completely insane, and clearly making things worse, not better (the DOW continues its death spiral with no bottom in sight).

But what should we expect?  We reside in Bizarro World where millionaires are legitimately the middle class.  Ergo, they are now being crushed as well.  Crushing the middle class is the only thing that Corporate America and their D.C. accomplices are competent at anymore.  Millions of newly poor pave the way for a new class of mega-rich with net worths the size of national GDPs.  They now circle like vultures, waiting for the bodies to hit the ground so they can swoop down and buy up real estate, businesses, natural resources, public lands, infrastructure and prisons(!) for pennies on the dollar.  Once they do, they intend to start another ‘business cycle’ with the ferocious power of a corporatist state, or what Mussolini named Fascism.

Never again!  It is imperative and urgent that we finally abandon this irreparable ship and its fools and start fixing up the life boats.  This will be THE opportunity of the 21st century for those who are seeking careers in the most uncertain time in memory.

Our revitalized and relocalized human-scaled economies will not birth global bubbles. They will not spawn viral speculators or provide safe harbor to predatory capitalists.  They will not produce multi-billionaires or legions of wage slaves.  They will not create hallucinated wealth that exists only as digital data on the globalists’ computer networks.   And they will not permit bankers to charge 30% interest plus ‘fees’ on loans made to people who work three crap jobs but still can’t afford quality food or basic health care.

The new economy will however, give rise to real, tangible wealth: clean air and water, healthy food, textiles, useful technology, and functional families and strong communities.  They will create jobs that contribute to the culture and are worth having not just for the pay but for meaningful occupation and participation in creating something for the greater good.

We will have walkable towns, tighter communities, healthier children, and reduced crime rates.  Unique architecture will replace the monotonous corporate boxes that make one town indistinguishable from the next.  Urban farms and parks will replace acres of asphalt parking lots, and the super stores that export worker wealth to Wall Street will give way to businesses that pay living wages and reinvest locally.

The inescapable marketing din of consumer culture will be lowered to a tolerable background level, allowing people enough mental space to create uncorrupted ideas, art and a culture of their own.  This will be a world worth caring about, hence warmongering, mass murder and eco-cide will no longer be fashionable or politically expedient.

It’s up to us

As the infotainers and the Beltway puppets of power warn of a new socialism (it’s not), will any of them dare point at the elephant standing in the middle of the room?  That is, who got us here, how, and why?  Or that the entire debt-based monetary system is inherently corrupt and patently unsustainable, thus saving it is the last thing we ought to do?  This needs to be made known as soon as possible so that our last resources are directed to building something entirely new and workable, from the ground up.

If we only look on the other side of the coin, we see that this ‘crisis’ is really is an incredible opportunity.  Humanity has a chance to rebuild a sane society that does not depend upon a planet killing, suicide-pact economy.  As we refurbish our life boats we must also lash them together, creating ties of trade, culture and open source innovation between strong, sustainable communities.

This new system is not new at all, but a return to an economy that is deglobalized and decentralized, sovereign, autonomous and human scaled.  It is an economy that works as any sustainable economy must: for everyone that participates.

I have no delusions that this transition will be easy or painless; I simply see it as inevitable, and healthy in the long run if we use the opportunity to start over with the finite natural capital stocks and real interests of humanity in mind.

If you’re interested in working on the life boats, throw me a line.  This looks to be a permanent growth industry.


Stay tuned for more dispatches from the USS Empire and opinions from divergent voices on how to create a sane economy that works for the masses… the ultimate goal of this project.

Steve Lendman on the “Greatest Country on Earth”

Steve Lendman on the “Greatest Country on Earth”

Thanks to Ann at Reclaiming Space for pointing out this excellent post by Massachusetts businessman and activist Steve Lendman. I believe that Lendman’s frame of reference is a little narrow for my taste, but the article was more than worth the read for me and should be a real eye-opener to anyone who believes that America is somehow “the greatest country on Earth” (for any reason other than that he or she just wants it to be, that is.) As an American, I do believe that my people and my country have changed the face of the world for the better in some respects, for worse in others. I do believe that an enormous potential exists which is yet to be realized.

But before you wave your flag at me, or at anyone else, consider that:

– 47 million Americans can’t afford basic health insurance.

– Over 80 million in total have no health coverage during some portion of each year and most of them are employed.

– The Bush administration just proposed sweeping cuts in payments to pharmacies to reduce the Medicaid benefits 50 million poor in the country rely on, can’t afford to make up the difference for on their own, and may have to forego medications they vitally need if pharmacies won’t fill prescriptions at lower prices.

– The US ranks 41st in infant mortality, and the World Health Organization (WHO) ranks the country 37th in the world in “overall health performance” and 54th in the fairness of health care despite spending at a current level overall of around $2 trillion a year or about double the amount per capita of the OECD countries that deliver superior health care overall to their citizens as a national priority.

– Well over 12 millions Americans struggle daily to feed themselves, and many thousands across the country can’t afford housing and are forced to sleep on the streets including in winter cold.

– A just released December 14 US Conference of Mayors report said these conditions continue to worsen based on a survey of 23 cities showing 7% more requests for food aid in 2006 following a 12% jump in 2005 during a period of economic growth.

– The same report showed requests for shelter rose 9% in 2006 with requests from families with children rising 5%.

– Public education is deliberately being eroded with illiteracy in basic reading, math and computer skills shamefully high and rising.

– The US prison population is the highest in the world at 2.2 million and increasing by 1000 a week, half of those in it are black, and half of the total prison population is there for non-violent offenses half of which are drug-related. The US prison system is a shameful Gulag and an affront to humanity. The appalling conviction and sentencing of first-time drug offender Weldon Angelos is but one of countless examples. He was convicted of three sales of marijuana in 2004 while in possession of a gun unrelated to the sale. Under the insane federal mandatory sentencing laws, he was sentenced to five years for the first offense and 25 years each for the other two totaling 55 years in federal prison or a likely life sentence if he’s forced to serve it all because he possessed and sold a few “joints” of a substance less harmful than legal cigarettes that kill millions yearly while it’s not known marijuana ever killed anyone using it. Only in America.

– The true state of things overall is suppressed by the dominant corporate-controlled media (including the NPR and PBS parts of it) functioning as a national thought-control police controlling all mass communication and depriving the public of any real information vital to a healthy democracy and their welfare.

– Racial segregation is as great as in the 1960s, and the national sport almost is demonizing Muslims as “terrorists, radicals, extremists and Islamofascists” and impoverished “people the color of the earth” Mexicans and Latin Americans as “illegal immigrant invaders polluting” our white western European society and culture, mindless that they only come el norte in desperate search of work because of the devastating effects of NAFTA on their lives that destroyed their ability to support their families.

Data from the Oakland Institute think tank specializing in social, economic and environmental issues shows that heavily subsidized US corn exports to Mexico have tripled since NAFTA came into force forcing two million Mexican corn farmers out of business, something that was predicted in advance but allowed to happen anyway. It also led to suicides but at a rate nowhere near the level globalized trade US-style had on farmers in India where as many as 100,000 of them have taken their own lives because “New World Order” indebtedness caused them to lose their farms and then everything else.

– Childhood poverty in the US ranks 22nd and next to last among developed nations when there should be virtually none tolerated in the richest country in the world or toleration of any of the other listed abuses.

– An alarming number of high-paying and other jobs have been exported abroad in a process that’s gone on for decades but picked up in momentum since the 1980s and especially in recent years. Mckinsey Global Institute estimates the volume will grow 30 – 40% a year for the next five years. Forrester Research estimates 3.3 million white-collar jobs will be lost by 2015 with most affected areas in financial services and information technology, and University of California researchers estimate that “up to 14 million American jobs are at risk to outsourcing.”

It adds up to a nation in decline, losing its industrial base and becoming primarily a service-oriented economy mainly offering low-skill, low-pay jobs with the better, higher-paying ones growing scarcer, making a college degree in areas outside of critical skills almost worthless. Exporting jobs to low-wage countries is a boon for corporate bottom lines in an age of “globalized free trade” never characterized as fair for the harm it does to millions of wage earners at home or in the developing countries on the receiving end being exploited by capital that sucks out their wealth and impoverishes their people, many of whom work for near-slave-rate wages in a modern era of serfdom in countries around the world in Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe and Latin and Central America.

– Worker outrage around the world in protest is growing in response to these abuses (unreported in the US) because most governments are doing little or nothing to ameliorate them. It showed up on November 22 in South Korea when over 200,000 workers belonging to the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) staged a general strike protesting in 17 cities against the bilateral US-Korea Free Trade Agreement currently being negotiated that will do to their members and farmers what NAFTA did to Mexicans and India’s agricultural trade policies did to their small farmers. It continued on the streets in the days following and spilled over to the Big Sky Ski Resort in Big Sky, Montana where negotiations are being held in seclusion but are still unable to escape the daily protests held against them there.

– It happened as well in Cebu City, Philippines where President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (closely allied to the failed Bush agenda and elected through fraud) had to cancel two Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meetings in December attended by 19 countries including the US and Canada. It was an abrupt ending to the meeting held to ratify trade and security agreements because of the mass protests by workers, farmers and others against their harmful effects forcing thousands in the country to leave daily to go abroad for work paying enough to support their families at home.

– Workers almost everywhere have been harmed, including in the US, as union clout and worker rights here have declined in an age where the social contract government once had with its working people has been dismantled with less than 13% of the work force (the lowest in the industrialized world) unionized today compared to one-third of it in 1958. In an age of modern-day “robber barons,” the middle class bedrock of a democratic state is slowly disappearing as the nation moves closer to becoming a banana republic at a time when 51 of the world’s largest economies are corporate giants, most of them US-based.

The real bugger is: what to do about it? That begins with you and with me, and the vast majority of the action takes place nowhere near a voting booth.

Why the Economic Destruction of America May Be Step One of A Global Banking Power Grab

Why the Economic Destruction of America May Be Step One of A Global Banking Power Grab

Thursday, March 05, 2009 by: Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, NaturalNews Editor

(CounterThink) The financial events that have taken place in the U.S. and around the world over the last few months are, in many ways, no surprise. In a September, 2008 financial seminar (…), I publicly predicted the majority of the big trends you’re seeing unfold right now: The wave of commercial bankruptcies, the second round of bailout money, the dangerous creation of new money by the Fed and a continued weakening of both the housing market and the stock market.

These are all playing out like clockwork, driving the U.S. toward financial collapse that now seems irreversible. There is one new element in all this, however, that has emerged in the last month or so, and I’d like to share that with you in this article.

Over the last few months, I’ve kept in touch with some extremely well-connected individuals who have been cluing me in on what’s really happening behind the scenes in the world of global finance. For obvious reasons, these people shall go unnamed, but what they’re now telling me is that the economic meltdown is merely a means to an end. It is being done deliberately, they say, at the very highest levels to achieve a well-planned outcome. What outcome is that? Global rule over all banking, of course.

How to take over the world’s finances

Imagine an international Federal Reserve that creates and controls the money supply for the entire world. The centralization of financial power into the hands of the few would be unprecedented. What power the Fed wields over the United States today, a “global Fed” could soon wield across the entire world.

Achieving such a power grab, however, is no small task. Nations will not voluntarily surrender power over their currencies…

Unless there is a crisis!

In a crisis scenario, nations will give up practically anything — freedoms, finances, and yes, even their own currencies if it means avoiding certain economic disaster. If there’s one thing that the world has learned from 9/11, it’s that the best way to grab power from the People is to either engineer a disaster or piggyback on one that occurs on its own. When faced with the fear of annihilation, the People of any nation will not merely surrender their freedoms and finances, they will beg to turn them over to any apparent “authority” who promises a solution.

(For those who follow David Icke, this is described by him as the “Problem – Reaction – Solution” approach to mass manipulation.)

From this, then, it is rather obvious that the best way to grab control over world currencies and establish one global “Fed” money authority is to engineer a global financial disaster that threatens the stability of the entire global banking system. As stability collapses and life savings are lost, it’s only a matter of time before the riots begin and blood really starts running in the streets.

It is in this moment that the global elite will appear on television screens, as if delivered by God himself, promising an end to all the suffering if only the leading nations of the world will agree to surrender their own currencies and adopt a new, global currency operated by the new “International Fed” (which won’t actually be called that, mind you).

The battle for the future of America is under way right now

With all this in mind, we are faced with a rather sobering scenario. Even though there are many people within the U.S. power structure who are no doubt attempting to save the U.S. economy and prevent outright collapse, there are almost certainly far more powerful people involved in this game who have as their agenda the creation of a global currency controller. And the rise of that institution necessitates the economic downfall of nations like the U.S. and the U.K., to name just two.

So there’s a tug of war going on: Some people are trying to save America, and others are actively working to destroy it and eliminate the existing Federal Reserve altogether, defaulting to a single, global “Fed” organization. It’s important to note that regardless of which side of this battle we’re talking about, none of these power elite are looking out for YOU, the People. This is all just a high-level territorial chess match in which you and I are the lowly pawns.

Destroying a nation in order to rule it

What’s interesting in all this is that if you believe this particular explanation, it means there are elite power brokers in this world who are so arrogant and greedy that they will actively risk the destruction of an entire nation’s economy just to take control over its financial resources in the long run.

If all this sounds familiar, that’s because this is exactly how military warfare works, too: The aggressor invades a country, bombs it to rubble, then takes control over it in order to capture and control the long-term economic benefits and resources produced by that country. (Iraq, anyone?) It’s also exactly what drove Hitler’s mechanized army eastward into Soviet territory in World War II. The battle at Stalingrad was not merely a Soviet victory over German military units, it was the end of Germany’s last desperate attempt to expropriate the lucrative oil fields needed to keep its war machine running.

The point is that, throughout history, power-hungry madmen have always demonstrated a willingness to destroy practically anything (families, cities, nations) in order to get what they wanted. The United States isn’t innocent on this front, either: Read your history on the Dresden bombings to see a dark chapter of U.S. history involving outright genocide on the part of the allies (…).

Warfare, of course, can take many forms. The traditional “bombs and bullets” form of warfare is simply the most easily recognizable form of taking over a country. It is by no means the most efficient form. From an economic perspective, it is far more intelligent to take over a nation while leaving its physical infrastructure intact so that all the slave workers can get back to work as quickly as possible after the war, producing new gains for the new controllers.

By one interpretation of world events, America now seems to be in the midst of an economic war that may actually be attempting to crush America’s currency and economy in the hopes that the nation will surrender both to a new global financial authority. The “New World Bank” would be the benefactor of all this.

What does it mean for you?

My predictions along these lines have been consistent: Reduce your spending, get out of debt and convert your soon-to-be-worthless dollars into something real that can out-last any currency collapse.

Some of those “real” things include land, gold, storable food and even your own personal education. A great many people have also chosen to purchase and store firearms, which are likely to become extremely valuable in an Obama gun confiscation scenario. For the record, although I’m not a gun advocate by any means, there is no doubt in my mind that gun confiscation only results in the GOOD guys turning in their guns while the BAD guys keep theirs. In virtually every case around the world, gun confiscation essentially translates into a massive de-arming of the population and an unleashing of either armed criminals or armed criminal governments. In any gun confiscation scenario, those who still have their firearms will find them becoming instantly valuable.

On the dollar front, there is little doubt in my mind that a collapse (or abandonment) of the U.S. currency is inevitable. The most likely scenario emerging right now is that once the economic crisis gets so bad in the U.S. that people are rioting in the streets, Obama will cave in to a new world bank authority and, in doing so, abandon the U.S. dollar.

If this unfolds, it means the U.S. dollar will be “traded in” for a new world currency of some sort, and in that exchange, U.S. dollar holders will maddeningly discover (surprise!) that they have lost anywhere from 60 percent to 90 percent of their purchasing power. This is the evil genius of the whole plan: Sure, you can trade in all your dollars, but for how much spending power? The answer, of course, is whatever they want to pay you. Because if all you hold are dollars, you don’t have much choice in the matter, do you?

That’s why diversifying out of the dollar right now is so important for anyone who doesn’t want to lose most of their savings. I’ve covered numerous strategies for this in my course Health Ranger LIVE: Health Preparedness and Financial Protection (…).

It’s worth noting that an ounce of gold buys you the same goods and services today that it bought fifty years ago. Gold always holds its value, no matter what happens to paper currencies.

Who can you really believe in all this?

As you ponder all this information, keep in mind that historically, in every economic downturn, there have always been politicians and economists who pronounced the end of the downturn practically every week as the markets churned lower and lower. Nobody involved in the financial system (banks, lawmakers, Presidents, etc.) can actually admit the truth for fear of causing runaway financial panic.

Hence the fact that the Federal Reserve outright refuses to name which banks it has funded with bailout money. The very mention of a bank on such a list would likely cause an overnight collapse of the bank itself, so the Fed remains silent in its secrecy. (…)

The fragility of this whole system should clue you in on just how bad things really are. When the system is so close to cracking that the Fed doesn’t even dare name which banks it is helping, that’s probably a big, red warning sign that it’s time to exit that system and move your resources to something more stable.

The bottom line? Don’t believe any of the typical authorities on this issue. They all have a stake in keeping the People in the dark while they maneuver their own financial chess pieces around in total secrecy. The only way to not be financially harmed by all this is to make sure you’re not left holding a bag of worthless green paper when the U.S. Treasury merry-go-round music comes to a stop.

And that day is coming sooner that I previously thought. A year ago, I thought the U.S. dollar might survive another decade or two. But now, after watching the Bush bailout followed by the similarly insane Obama bailout, I believe the U.S. dollar will be either declared worthless or abandoned well inside of ten years, and perhaps as early as three. Only time will tell, of course, and there are a lot of variations that could delay or even reverse all this in the short-term, but in the long-term there’s no denying the fate of the world’s largest debtor nation: America will eventually be forced to abandon its currency, which is much the same as declaring national bankruptcy.

Don’t get caught in this financial trap, friends. Trade your dollars for something real while you still can. And if you have the chance to do so, establish your own income stream that cannot be taken away from you. Job losses will continue to mount, and entire industries could come tumbling down before this is all over. We are not out of this yet. Not even close.

The Greatest War Crime of All Time Was Committed By That “Special Relationship,” America and Britain



“You guys burnt the place down, turned it into a single column of flame. More people died there in the firestorm, in that one big flame, than died in Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined.” –Kurt Vonnegut, Jr
On the evening of February 13, 1945, an orgy of genocide and barbarism began against a defenseless German city, one of the greatest cultural centers of northern Europe. Within less than 14 hours not only was it reduced to flaming ruins, but an estimated one-third of its inhabitants, possibly as many as a half a million, had perished in what was the worst single event massacre of all time.
Toward the end of World War II, as Allied planes rained death and destruction over Germany, the old Saxon city of Dresden lay like an island of tranquillity amid desolation. Famous as a cultural center and possessing no military value, Dresden had been spared the terror that descended from the skies over the rest of the country.

In fact, little had been done to provide the ancient city of artists and craftsmen with anti-aircraft defenses. One squadron of planes had been stationed in Dresden for awhile, but the Luftwaffe decided to move the aircraft to another area where they would be of use. A gentlemen’s agreement seemed to prevail, designating Dresden an “open city.”

February 13/14 1945: Holocaust over Dresden, known as the Florence of the North. Dresden was a hospital city for wounded soldiers. Not one military unit, not one anti-aircraft battery was deployed in the city. Together with the 600.000 refugees from Breslau, Dresden was filled with nearly 1.2 million people. Churchill had asked for “suggestions how to blaze 600.000 refugees”. He wasn’t interested how to target military installations 60 miles outside of Dresden. More than 700.000 phosphorus bombs were dropped on 1.2 million people. One bomb for every 2 people. The temperature in the centre of the city reached 1600 o centigrade. More than 260.000 bodies and residues of bodies were counted. But those who perished in the centre of the city can’t be traced. Approximately 500.000 children, women, the elderly, wounded soldiers and the animals of the zoo were slaughtered in one night.

On Shrove Tuesday, February 13, 1945, a flood of refugees fleeing the Red Army 60 miles away had swollen the city’s population to well over a million. Each new refugee brought fearful accounts of Soviet atrocities. Little did those refugees retreating from the Red terror imagine that they were about to die in a horror worse than anything Stalin could devise.

Normally, a carnival atmosphere prevailed in Dresden on Shrove Tuesday. In 1945, however, the outlook was rather dismal. Houses everywhere overflowed with refugees, and thousands were forced to camp out in the streets shivering in the bitter cold.

However, the people felt relatively safe; and although the mood was grim, the circus played to a full house that night as thousands came to forget for a moment the horrors of war. Bands of little girls paraded about in carnival dress in an effort to bolster warning spirits. Half-sad smiles greeted the laughing girls, but spirits were lifted.

No one realized that in less than 24 hours those same innocent children would die screaming in Churchill’s firestorms. But, of course, no one could know that then. The Russians, to be sure, were savages, but at least the Americans and British were “honorable.”

So, when those first alarms signaled the start of 14 hours of hell, Dresden’s people streamed dutifully into their shelters. But they did so without much enthusiasm, believing the alarms to be false, since their city had never been threatened from the air. Many would never come out alive, for that “great democratic statesman,” Winston Churchill–in collusion with that other “great democratic statesman,” Franklin Delano Roosevelt–had decided that the city of Dresden was to be obliterated by saturation bombing.

What where Churchill’s motives? They appear to have been political, rather than military. Historians unanimously agree that Dresden had no military value. What industry it did have produced only cigarettes and china.

But the Yalta Conference was coming up, in which the Soviets and their Western allies would sit down like ghouls to carve up the shattered corpse of Europe. Churchill wanted a trump card–a devastating “thunderclap of Anglo-American annihilation”–with which to “impress” Stalin.

That card, however, was never played at Yalta, because bad weather delayed the originally scheduled raid. Yet Churchill insisted that the raid be carried out–to “disrupt and confuse” the German civilian population behind the lines.

Dresden’s citizens barely had time to reach their shelters. The first bomb fell at 10:09 p.m. The attack lasted 24 minutes, leaving the inner city a raging sea of fire. “Precision saturation bombing” had created the desired firestorm.

A firestorm is caused when hundreds of smaller fires join in one vast conflagration. Huge masses of air are sucked in to feed the inferno, causing an artificial tornado. Those persons unlucky enough to be caught in the rush of wind are hurled down entire streets into the flames. Those who seek refuge underground often suffocate as oxygen is pulled from the air to feed the blaze, or they perish in a blast of white heat–heat intense enough to melt human flesh.
One eyewitness who survived told of seeing “young women carrying babies running up and down the streets, their dresses and hair on fire, screaming until they fell down, or the collapsing buildings fell on top of them.”

There was a three-hour pause between the first and second raids. The lull had been calculated to lure civilians from their shelters into the open again. To escape the flames, tens of thousands of civilians had crowded into the Grosser Garten, a magnificent park nearly one and a half miles square.

The second raid came at 1:22 a.m. with no warning. Twice as many bombers returned with a massive load of incendiary bombs. The second wave was designed to spread the raging firestorm into the Grosser Garten.

It was a complete “success.” Within a few minutes a sheet of flame ripped across the grass, uprooting trees and littering the branches of others with everything from bicycles to human limbs. For days afterward, they remained bizarrely strewn about as grim reminders of Allied sadism.

At the start of the second air assault, many were still huddled in tunnels and cellars, waiting for the fires of the first attack to die down. At 1:30 a.m. an ominous rumble reached the ears of the commander of a Labor Service convoy sent into the city on a rescue mission. He described it this way:

“The detonation shook the cellar walls. The sound of the explosions mingled with a new, stranger sound which seemed to come closer and closer, the sound of a thundering waterfall; it was the sound of the mighty tornado howling in the inner city.”

Others hiding below ground died. But they died painlessly–they simply glowed bright orange and blue in the darkness. As the heat intensified, they either disintegrated into cinders or melted into a thick liquid–often three or four feet deep in spots.

Shortly after 10:30 on the morning of February 14, the last raid swept over the city. American bombers pounded the rubble that had been Dresden for a steady 38 minutes. But this attack was not nearly as heavy as the first two.

However, what distinguished this raid was the cold-blooded ruthlessness with which it was carried out. U.S. Mustangs appeared low over the city, strafing anything that moved, including a column of rescue vehicles rushing to the city to evacuate survivors. One assault was aimed at the banks of the Elbe River, where refugees had huddled during the horrible night.

In the last year of the war, Dresden had become a hospital town. During the previous night’s massacre, heroic nurses had dragged thousands of crippled patients to the Elbe. The low-flying Mustangs machine-gunned those helpless patients, as well as thousands of old men, women and children who had escaped the city.

When the last plane left the sky, Dresden was a scorched ruin, its blackened streets filled with corpses. The city was spared no horror. A flock of vultures escaped from the zoo and fattened on the carnage. Rats swarmed over the piles of corpses.

A Swiss citizen described his visit to Dresden two weeks after the raid: “I could see torn-off arms and legs, mutilated torsos and heads which had been wrenched from their bodies and rolled away. In places the corpses were still lying so densely that I had to clear a path through them in order not to tread on arms and legs.”

Kurt Vonnegut was in Dresden when it was bombed in 1945, and wrote a famous anti-war novel, Slaughterhouse Five, in 1969.
In February 1945, Vonnegut was witness to another pretty good imitation of Mt Vesuvius; the firebombing by Allied forces of Dresden, the town in eastern Germany, during the last months of the Second World War. More than 600,000 incen-diary bombs later, the city looked more like the surface of the moon. Returning home to India-napolis after the war, Vonnegut began writing short stories for magazines such as Collier’s and The Saturday Evening Post, and, seven years later, published his first novel, Player Piano. …
Finally, in 1969, he tackled the subject of war, recounting his experiences as a POW in Dresden, forced to dig corpses from the rubble. The resulting novel was Slaughterhouse Five. Banned in several US states – and branded a “tool of the devil” in North Dakota – it carried the snappy alternative title: “The Children’s Crusade: A Duly Dance with Death, by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr, a fourth-generation German-American now living in easy circumstances on Cape Cod (and smoking too much) who, as an American infantry scout hors de combat, as a prisoner of war, witnessed the fire bombing of Dresden, Germany – the Florence of the Elbe – a long time ago, and survived to tell the tale: this is a novel somewhat in the telegraphic schizopfrenic manner of tales of the planet Tralfamodre, where the flying saucers come from, Peace.” ….
In December 1944, Vonnegut was captured by the German army and became a prisoner of war. In Slaughterhouse Five, he describes how he narrowly escaped death a few months later in the firebombing of Dresden. “Yes, by your people [the English], may I say,” he insists. “You guys burnt the place down, turned it into a single column of flame. More people died there in the firestorm, in that one big flame, than died in Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined. I’m fond of your people, on occasion, but I was just thinking about ‘Bomber Harris, who believed in attacks on civilian populations to make them give up. A hell of a lot of Royal Air Force guys were ashamed of what Harris had made them do. And that’s really sportsmanship and, of course, the Brits are famous for being good sports,” he concedes.
The Independent, London, 20 December 2001, p. 19
The death toll was staggering. The full extent of the Dresden Holocaust can be more readily grasped if one considers that well over 250,000 — possibly as many as a half a million — persons died within a 14-hour period, whereas estimates of those who died at Hiroshima range from 90,000 to 140,000.*

Allied apologists for the massacre have often “twinned” Dresden with the English city of Coventry. But the 380 killed in Coventry during the entire war cannot begin to compare with over 1,000 times that number who were slaughtered in 14 hours at Dresden. Moreover, Coventry was a munitions center, a legitimate military target. Dresden, on the other hand, produced only china–and cups and saucers can hardly be considered military hardware!

It is interesting to further compare the respective damage to London and Dresden, especially when we recall all the Hollywood schmaltz about the “London blitz.” In one night, 1,600 acres of land were destroyed in the Dresden massacre. London escaped with damage to only 600 acres during the entire war.

In one ironic note, Dresden’s only conceivable military target — its railroad yards — was ignored by Allied bombers. They were too busy concentrating on helpless old men, women and children.

If ever there was a war crime, then certainly the Dresden Holocaust ranks as the most sordid one of all time. Yet there are no movies made today condemning this fiendish slaughter; nor did any Allied airman–or Sir Winston–sit in the dock at Nuremberg. In fact, the Dresden airmen were actually awarded medals for their role in this mass murder. But, of course, they could not have been tried, because there were “only following orders.”

This is not to say that the mountains of corpses left in Dresden were ignored by the Nuremberg Tribunal. In one final irony, the prosecution presented photographs of the Dresden dead as “evidence” of alleged National Socialist atrocities against Jewish concentration-camp inmates!

Churchill, the monster who ordered the Dresden slaughter, was knighted, and the rest is history. The cold-blooded sadism of the massacre, however, is brushed aside by his biographers, who still cannot bring themselves to tell how the desire of one madman to “impress” another one let to the mass murder of up to a half million men, women and children.

Freedom in the Air

Freedom in the Air

Israel Shamir – March 6, 2009

Britons never shall be slaves, claims the song. Never say never. They were so free that they could rhyme ‘the queen’, ‘her fascist regime’ and ‘she ain’t no human being’, in the Sex Pistols song. But that was then, and anyway the queen has had enough sense of humour to invite the Pistols to the Palace. Now, a British gentleman Mr Rowan Laxton watched on TV live the Jews pour napalm and brimstone on hapless children of Gaza. Oh bloody Jews, said he, and I am sure so would you. He was immediately arrested and charged with “inciting religious hatred”. Mr Laxton can be sentenced to seven years of jail.

Never mind that none of the Israeli top war criminals (Olmert, Barak, Livni) is religious. Multiple identities of Jews (class, race, religion, nation, state) are used to protect the lot from every side. I checked some blogs covering the story – right-wing bookworms are furious about Laxton. Incidentally, they do not mind to “incite religious hatred” and freely refer to “Muslim savages” and “Islam’s demonstrable bloody-minded nihilism”. On the leftist sites Laxton is described as “racist”, and whoever defends his righteous anger is asked to move to White Power site. These antiracists also mention disapprovingly Laxton’s marriage to a Muslim lady. Even his highly commendable wish to see the killer army going up in smoke is re-described as “desire to murder every Israeli teenager”.

Religious hatred laws are peculiar beasts. While Jews murder Christians and Muslims, or destroy churches and mosques, these laws remain dormant. But if you notice the murders, the laws wake up from their slumber. We reported a church in Migdal ha-Emek was vandalised by Jews. A Russian newspaper carried this report. A Jewish representative in Russia appealed to the attorney general against the newspaper: such a report “incites religious hatred”. The attorney general rejected the Jewish claim, but have no doubt: this attack will make every newspaper in Russia think twice before they mention any misdeed or crime committed by Jews. And in this field, Russia is less inhibited than most.
Laxton had lost his important position in the Foreign Office, too, as his Jewish boss, Foreign Secretary David Miliband, is not as broad-minded as the queen. If Laxton would say of a Jew that “he ain’t human being” he would be probably deported to Guantanamo. The very story of his arrest reminds us the horrors one is being told of 1930s. The man sits in the fitness room, he sees mass murder being broadcasted live on TV, he exclaims: bloody murderers; and his fellows call for NKVD or Gestapo. Not much of freedom is left for the once-proud Britons. They can’t even vent their anger in the gym.

The Gaza pictures you could see on your telly were already sanitised; you were spared the real horrors. But what you did see was strong enough to break the taboo. The Jews are not satisfied with killing, they also want everybody to keep one’s mouth shut about it. But it is not going to work. These prohibitions of speaking one’s mind are demonstrably unfair.

Sure, not every Jew bombed Gaza.

But not every German – hardly any German alive today – is connected to anything unseemly.

Still, it is perfectly permissible to nourish “healthy, virile hate” for Germans, in words of Elie Wiesel.

Jews have no problem to write (in Jerusalem Post): “the Norwegians were the ones who rounded up Jews and robbed them before shipping them off to Auschwitz.” Somehow, nobody screamed: Wot! All Norwegians!?

The SA Jewish Board of Deputies’ David Saks did not mind to write: “the Palestinians are obsessed by – self willed prisoners of – the Islamist death cult”.

But Palestinians are vilified by Jews on daily basis.

Americans routinely observe that the Swiss are a Nation Of Cowards, Tax Cheats, And Fugitive Financiers – and no hate law of Switzerland went into action.

They also propose to burn every Frenchman alive, and the French did not give a damn.

If Mr Laxton would shout “Fuck Yanks!” – nobody would mind, not even the Yanks.
It appears that the Gaza war broke down some important protection valve the Jews used. Was it when they poured white phosphorus on the schools? Or when they employed their usual sophistic in order to prove that it is all right to kill civilians in Gaza, but it is crime to kill a Jew? Or when we learned that they block even macaroni to enter Gaza, in their drive to put Palestinians on diet?

You would not notice it from reading your Jewish-owned newspaper, or by watching your Jewish-edited TV program, but the divergence between public and official points of view never was greater. Masses of Europeans, Americans, Russians are justifiably angry. They are angry because the economic crisis is about to destroy their way of life. They are angry as they saw mass murder of Gaza. Both reasons of anger lead to the same culprit. There are more Jewish billionaires than of any other creed, race or nation. They have got more money from financial operations than anybody, and now they get even more from the state. Their preaching against racism blew up in their faces in Gaza.

The elites are aware of this pent-up anger. Recently in Davos, the Turkish Prime Minister told off the Israeli war criminal of a president, and flew home to hero’s welcome by thousands. Every prime minister, every president – including president Obama – will be received as a hero by multitudes if he tells the Jews where to get off.

The Jews do not know when to stop. It is true, they got to the top this way. The wildest dreams of the Elders of Zion were realised. But while admittedly it is difficult to get to the top, it is nay impossible to stay there forever. Now the Jews are already past the position the Catholic church was when Voltaire called to squash the infamy. There is freedom in the air.

The State Secretary Hilary Clinton became the darling of the Middle East just by saying ‘pasta’. Elections can be won, fame can be achieved, problems can be solved this way. Even the economic crisis can be taken by the people in their stride. Britain need a man like Mr Laxton as her Prime Minister, a man who gets furious watching mass murder, and who dares to speak up his mind.

The United States of Israel

The United States of Israel

Khalid Amayreh

It seems that one doesn’t have to wait four years to find out that Hillary Clinton is just a fraud, very much like her predecessor in the job, Condoleezza Rice.

The infamous Rice paid 24 visits to Occupied Ramallah and Occupied Jerusalem, babbling about the “peace process” and George Bush’s vision of two states living side by side in peace, Israel and Palestine.

Eventually, however, it was proven beyond any doubt that she was a lying emissary representing even a more lying boss.

So one may really wonder if Hillary Clinton will be re-enacting the same absurd show, same lies, and same deception.

In her recent visit to Occupied Palestine, the former NY senator, who had proven herself a submissive pawn in the service of Zionist circles, reiterated the same old platitudes about US commitment to the “two-state” solution.

However, she didn’t dare utter a word against the unmitigated expansion of Jewish colonies in the West Bank. Needless to say, it is obvious that the relentless intensive building of Jewish-only colonies has already rendered the prospect of a viable Palestinian state utterly unrealistic, if not outright impossible.

Even pro-Israeli stalwarts, people like Bob Simon of CBS, have come to recognize that the two-state solution is dead and that time has passed it by.

If so, how could the Obama administration be truly committed to the two-state solution when the same administration keeps encouraging Israel to build more and more and more colonies on occupied territories? Silence in this case means approval, and both the American monkey and the Israeli organ grinder know it quite well.

Far from calling the spade a spade, Mrs. Clinton dutifully asserted US commitment to Israel’s security, as if the Nazi-like apartheid regime, which possess hundreds of nuclear warheads and has one of the world’s strongest armies, were facing any credible threats.

Clinton was quite silent about the recent genocidal onslaught on Gaza which left the bulk of the coastal territory thoroughly destroyed and more than 6,000 men, women and children dead or maimed, thanks to the American-made and American-supplied weapons of death that Israel unleashed against the thoroughly starved and defenseless people of Gaza.

Such a silence just enforces the impression that Clinton is not really capable of behaving honestly, a sine-qua-non for possessing the ability to make a just and durable peace. After all, she belongs to a politically-promiscuous generation of American politicians in whose lexicon words like honesty and morality and justice don’t really exist.

Let us examine a few other statements uttered by Mrs. Clinton. While in Jerusalem, she said that Israel had the right to defend itself and that no country would tolerate rockets being fired on its population centers.

Well, this is a half-truth that is worse than a big lie.

It is so because she callously ignored the fact that the junkyard-made “rockets” were actually a desperate outcry by a people languishing under a criminal siege unprecedented in its harshness since the Ghetto Warsaw siege in 1942-43.

So, one might ask Mrs. “Innocent Abroad” what she thought the tormented prisoner population of Gaza should do as Israel has effectively been transforming their enclave into a real concentration camp? Die quietly? Or just accept the status of wood hewers and water carriers vis-à-vis the Ubermenschen, the Chosenites?!!

Or just examine another repugnant statement made by her while having a chummy chat with Israeli Prime-Minister designate Benyamin Netanyahu who repeatedly declared that he wouldn’t allow the creation of a real and sovereign Palestinian state on the West Bank?

Clinton pointed out that she would work with any government chosen by the people of Israel?

Well, then why she is refusing to deal with any government chosen by the Palestinian people?

Does she think the Palestinians are “children of a lesser God” who have yet to come of age if they ever will?

Indeed, who does this lady think she is to deny our people their natural God-given right to elect the government of our choice?

A few weeks ago, Israelis elected a new Knesset a majority of whose members are bona fide fascists, many of whom shamelessly demand ethnic cleansing of non-Jews. Others advocate genocide against the Palestinian community whose existence in Palestine predated the arrival of East European Khazari immigrants by thousands of years.

But we heard nothing from Clinton, or Obama or the other political whores of Washington, D.C., past and present, whose one-eyed approach to the Arab-Israel conflict is responsible for the enduring bloodshed and oppression in this part of the world.

Another point. Mrs. Clinton might be tempted to think that the blood money she pledged for the reconstruction of Gaza and propping-up the Palestinian Judenrat in Ramallah would induce the Palestinians to choose a government that would give up or compromise the inalienable rights of our people to return to their homes and towns in what is now Israel. But, nay, this won’t happen, come what may.

This won’t happen, because what is in the heart is in the heart, and collaborators and quislings, no matter what grand titles they have, shall eventually be crushed.

And now a few words for those gullible Palestinian and Arab leaders who entertain the same false hopes every time a new American administration comes to power.

It is time you realize that without a real revolution in Washington, one that would deliver the American government and people from the Zionist stranglehold, there is not the slightest chance in hell that America will be able to accomplish peace in Palestine.

Today, Israel tightly controls the American government, including Congress, as well as the media, especially the so-called agenda-setter media. Moreover, Israeli leaders are bragging about Israel’s predominance in American political life.

“We don’t ask our American friends to do this or that , we order them to do it,” suggested one Israeli official recently.

This means that as long as Israel continues to call the shots in Washington D.C. and as long a American officials such as Hillary Clinton continue to shake at the mere thought of upsetting the powerful Zionist lobby, which exploits America and her resources for the purpose of achieving Jewish-Zionist territorial aggrandizement in the Middle East, counting on America to bring peace to this region borders on illusive and delusional day-dreaming.

For sure, a country that is nearly hopelessly enslaved by Jewish money and Jewish power, is not free to achieve peace.

Such a state should be called the “United States of Israel,” not the “United States of America.”

In recent years and months, some American politicians warned of the grave consequences of America’s phenomenal subservience to Israel.

Michael Scheuer, a former CIA analyst now a consultant to CBS News, was quoted as saying that “our unqualified support of Israel was the main reason for 9/11.”

Anthony Zinni, George Bush’s first envoy to the Middle East declared that “the United States invaded Iraq for Israel and oil.”

Now, Israel is pushing and bullying the Obama administration to attack Iran in order to ensure Israel’s military supremacy in the Middle East and beyond.

Some American government officials privately acknowledge this bullying, but are reluctant to speak openly lest they lose their jobs.

What is crystal clear though is that America’s embrace of Israeli colonialism and criminality will just preclude any genuine chance of peace in Palestine.

In Short, America needs to produce politicians who are more honest than fearing the wrath of the Jewish lobby.

However, this won’t happen until mainstream America discovers the disastrous role Israel and her agents play in America’s national life.


By Khalid Amayreh

Fed Refuses to Release Bank Data, Insists on Secrecy (Update3)

Fed Refuses to Release Bank Data, Insists on Secrecy (Update3)

By Mark Pittman and Craig Torres

March 5 (Bloomberg) — The Federal Reserve Board of Governors receives daily reports on bailout loans to financial institutions and won’t make the information public, the central bank said in a reply to a Bloomberg News lawsuit.

The Fed refused yesterday to disclose the names of the borrowers and the loans, alleging that it would cast “a stigma” on recipients of more than $1.9 trillion of emergency credit from U.S. taxpayers and the assets the central bank is accepting as collateral.

Fed secrecy was the focus of a Senate Banking Committee hearing today in which the panel’s top two members said the central bank’s reluctance to identify companies benefiting from the American International Group Inc. bailout risks undermining public confidence in the government.

“If the American taxpayer’s money is at stake, and it is, big time, I believe the American taxpayers, the people, and this committee, we need to know who benefited, where this money went,” said Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama, the committee’s top Republican. “There is no transparency here. We are going to find out.”

The bank provides “select members and staff of the Board of Governors with daily and weekly reports” on Primary Dealer Credit Facility borrowing, said Susan E. McLaughlin, a senior vice president in the markets group of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in a sworn statement. The documents “include the names of the primary dealers that have borrowed from the PDCF, individual loan amounts, composition of securities pledged and rates for specific loans.”

Information Shared

The Board of Governors contends that it’s separate from its member banks, including the Federal Reserve Bank of New York which runs the lending programs. Most documents relevant to the Bloomberg suit are at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, which isn’t subject to FOIA law, according to the Fed. The Board of Governors has 231 pages of documents, which it is denying access to under an exemption under trade secrets.

“I would assume that information would be shared by the Fed and the New York Fed,” said U.S. Representative Scott Garrett, a New Jersey Republican. “At some point, the demand for transparency is paramount to any demand that they have for secrecy.”

Bloomberg sued Nov. 7 under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, requesting details about the terms of 11 Fed lending programs.

The Bloomberg lawsuit said the collateral lists “are central to understanding and assessing the government’s response to the most cataclysmic financial crisis in America since the Great Depression.”

‘Deeply Troubled’

Fed Vice Chairman Donald Kohn told the Senate panel today that revealing the names of AIG’s counterparties would make companies less likely to do business with any recipient of government aid, risking further turmoil at the insurer and financial markets.

“I don’t consider that an adequate” response, “to put it mildly,” Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd, a Connecticut Democrat, told Kohn at the hearing. “The public is deeply, deeply troubled.”

Shelby told the Fed vice chairman that “your answer here is very disturbing.”

“People want to know what you’ve done with this money,” he said.

Kohn said the Fed wouldn’t reveal the counterparties in Maiden Lane III, a company formed by the central bank to purchase collateralized debt obligations on which AIG’s financial products unit had written credit-default swaps.

“The Fed and the Treasury can be secretive for a while, but not forever,” Shelby said.

Commercial, Consumer Loans

The Fed stepped into a rescue role that was the original purpose of the Treasury’s $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program. The central bank’s loans don’t have the oversight safeguards that Congress imposed upon the TARP.

Total Fed lending exceeded $2 trillion for the first time Nov. 6 after rising by 138 percent, or $1.23 trillion, in the 12 weeks since Sept. 14, when central bank governors relaxed collateral standards to accept securities that weren’t rated AAA. Fed lending as of Feb. 25 was $1.92 billion.

On Feb. 23, the Fed disclosed a breakdown by broad categories for $1.81 trillion of collateral pledged by banks and bond dealers as of Dec. 17 after Congress demanded more transparency from the central bank.

$11.7 Trillion

The largest portions of collateral being held by the Fed at that time were $456 billion in commercial loans, $203 billion in consumer loans and $159 billion in residential mortgages, according to the central bank’s Web site. It didn’t identify any loans or provide their credit ratings and said it will update the figures about every two months.

Government loans, spending or guarantees to rescue the country’s financial system total more than $11.7 trillion since the international credit crisis began in August 2007, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. In return, banks left collateral with the central bank that effectively acts as a credit line that lenders can draw on without posting additional assets.

Bloomberg News, a unit of New York-based Bloomberg LP, on May 21 asked the Fed to provide data on collateral posted from April 4 to May 20. The central bank said June 19 that it needed until July 3 to search documents and determine whether it would make them public. Bloomberg didn’t receive a formal response that would let it file an appeal within the legal time limit.

‘Unprecedented Crisis’

On Oct. 25, Bloomberg filed another request, expanding the range of when the collateral was posted. It sued Nov. 7.

In response to Bloomberg’s request, the Fed said the U.S. is facing “an unprecedented crisis” in which “loss in confidence in and between financial institutions can occur with lightning speed and devastating effects.”

Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke and then Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said in September they would meet congressional demands for transparency in a $700 billion bailout of the banking system.

Banks oppose any release of information because that might signal weakness and spur short-selling or a run by depositors, the Fed argued in its response.

“Rumors that Citibank might be borrow at the DW (discount window) in the early 1990s reportedly sparked runs of some of its offices in Asia,” said Brian Madigan, the Fed’s director of the Division of Monetary Affairs, in a sworn statement.

The Freedom of Information Act obliges federal agencies to make government documents available to the press and public. The Bloomberg lawsuit, filed in New York, doesn’t seek money damages.

“You could make everything a trade secret,” said Lucy Dalglish, executive director of the Arlington, Virginia-based Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

The case is Bloomberg LP v. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, 08-CV-9595, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

EFF Surveillance Self-Defense Project

The SSD Project

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has created this Surveillance Self-Defense site to educate the American public about the law and technology of government surveillance in the United States, providing the information and tools necessary to evaluate the threat of surveillance and take appropriate steps to defend against it.

Surveillance Self-Defense (SSD) exists to answer two main questions: What can the government legally do to spy on your computer data and communications? And what can you legally do to protect yourself against such spying?

After an introductory discussion of how you should think about making security decisions — it’s all about risk management — we’ll be answering those two questions for three types of data:

First, we’re going to talk about the threat to the data stored on your computer posed by searches and seizures by law enforcement, as well as subpoenas demanding your records.

Second, we’re going to talk about the threat to your data on the wire — that is, your data as it’s being transmitted — posed by wiretapping and other real-time surveillance of your telephone and Internet communications by law enforcement.

Third, we’re going to describe the information about you that is stored by third parties like your phone company and your Internet service provider, and how law enforcement officials can get it.

In each of these three sections, we’re going to give you practical advice about how to protect your private data against law enforcement agents.

In a fourth section, we’ll also provide some basic information about the U.S. government’s expanded legal authority when it comes to foreign intelligence and terrorism investigations.

Finally, we’ve collected several articles about specific defensive technologies that you can use to protect your privacy, which are linked to from the other sections or can be accessed individually. So, for example, if you’re only looking for information about how to securely delete your files, or how to use encryption to protect the privacy of your emails or instant messages, you can just directly visit that article.

Legal disclaimer: This guide is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. EFF’s aim is to provide a general description of the legal and technical issues surrounding you or your organization’s computer and communications security, and different factual situations and different legal jurisdictions will result in different answers to a number of questions. Therefore, please do not act on this legal information alone; if you have any specific legal problems, issues, or questions, seek a complete review of your situation with a lawyer licensed to practice in your jurisdiction.

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Kyrgyzstan cancels remaining air base agreements

Kyrgyzstan cancels remaining air base agreements

BISHKEK: Kyrgyzstan, which last month decided to evict the United States from a military air base, on Friday cancelled similar agreements with other members of the U.S.-led coalition fighting Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan.

The Kyrgyz parliament voted almost unanimously to cancel the agreements that allowed a number of European nations as well as Australia, South Korea and New Zealand to use the Manas airbase, a key staging point for U.S. troops in Afghanistan

Taliban blow up music shops


Taliban blow up music shops

PESHAWAR: Taliban blew up 16 shops selling DVDs in Takhtbai tehsil of Mardan district, police said on Thursday. “An improvised explosive device planted in a market selling DVDs in Takhtbhai town blew up 16 shops overnight,” a police official said, blaming the Taliban. There were no casualties, he added. Meanwhile, in Peshawar, the Taliban fired at least 20 mortar rounds, which landed in open spaces late on Wednesday. “They tried to hit a police station and other buildings but the rockets missed the targets and landed in open spaces on the outskirts of Peshawar,” a local police official said. agencies

Taliban blow up 17th century sufi shrine in Peshawar

Pakistan Shrine Attack

Taliban blow up 17th century sufi shrine in Peshawar

* Building badly damaged in attack, no casualties
* Locals say attack likely carried out to stop women from visiting Rehman Baba’s shrine

By Manzoor Ali Shah

PESHAWAR: Suspected Taliban blew an ancient shrine of a 17th century sufi poet – Rehman Baba – in Akhund Baba graveyard early on Thursday, said locals and police, with the AP news agency reporting that a letter delivered three days before the attack to the management of the mausoleum had warned against its promotion of ‘shrine culture’.

The white-marble shrine was badly damaged when explosives planted along its pillars went off at around 5:10am. There were no casualties.

Women: Locals said the administration had also been warned before the attack to stop women from visiting the shrine.

Police told Daily Times that the Taliban planted the explosives and then jumped over a wall of the shrine to escape. Hazarkhawni Nazim Hidayatullah told reporters that the building had been severely damaged in the attack, and called on the provincial government to reconstruct it. He said the Taliban were able to carry out the attack because no guards had been deployed outside the building, and called on the authorities to arrange for the security of the shrine.

He said a Khalil-Mohmand tribe jirga would be held in a few days o look into the attack, and announced a demonstration on Ring Road on Friday to protest against the attack. Prime mMinister Yousuf Raza Gilani has condemned the attack.

City SP Ijaz Abid told Daily Times, “Bara-based militants could be behind the attack, sas they are opposed to shrines and have previously attacked other shrines as well.” He, however, said that police had not been told of any threats before the attack. He said an investigation underway would be competed in two days.

Meanwhile, militants also fired 18 mortar shells at a union council officials house on Thursday, said police, but the house was not damaged and there were no casualties.

Sufi meets Fazlullah, asks Taliban to lay down arms

Sufi meets Fazlullah, asks Taliban to lay down arms

MINGORA: Tehreek Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Muhammadi (TNSM) chief Sufi Muhammad and Swat Taliban chief Mulla Fazlullah met at an undisclosed location on Thursday to discuss the implementation of a Swat peace deal with the government, according to sources. The sources said that Sufi had firmly told Fazlullah to stop armed Taliban from patrolling Mingora and other parts of Swat and lay down weapons immediately. Sufi said talks with the provincial government had been satisfactory and the Taliban’s demands would be met soon, while Fazlullah’s response had also been positive, they said. Meanwhile, TNSM spokesman Izzat Khan told Daily Times after a meeting between a TNSM jirga and the Malakand commissioner that the government had accepted only one demand for the withdrawal of the army from Imamdheri Markaz. He said that Takhtaband-Angrodheri Road was still closed, “and this is making us suspicious … the government should take steps to overcome my group’s mistrust”. The government and the Swat Taliban recently reached a deal – brokered by TNSM chief Sufi Muhammad – on the implementation of sharia in Malakand division, which includes the scenic Swat valley. Analysts, however, fear the benefits of the agreement would be short-lived for the government. staff report

Sri Lankan cricket team’s attackers identified: Taseer

Sri Lankan cricket team’s attackers identified: Taseer

* Punjab governor says details of investigation to be announced today
* Says there may be flaw in security at lower level
* 50 suspects arrested from Rawalpindi

LAHORE: Authorities have identified the people responsible for Tuesday’s attack on Sri Lanka’s cricket team, Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer said on Thursday.

“We have identified the people who did the operation. We have made arrests, we are chasing them, we have rounded up people,” he told a news conference.

He declined to elaborate, saying a high-level investigation team supervised by the additional inspector general of police (investigation), the capital city police officer and a senior deputy inspector general of police would announce a preliminary investigation report on Friday (today).

Taseer said the outgoing administration had not informed him about the security threat it had received six weeks ago but shared the letter with the media after the attack.

The agitation launched by the PML-N leadership had created problems for law enforcement agencies, he said, but added that the new administration had continued the standard operating procedures for the team’s security that had been devised by the outgoing government.

Taseer said the Indian government was trying to malign Pakistan after the attack and regretted that the criticism on the security arrangements by non-experts was aiding the Indian efforts.

Flaw: He said that there might be a flaw in the security “at a very low level” but that could only be ascertained when the initial report is compiled. The officials responsible for any security lapse would be punished, he said.

Rawalpindi: Meanwhile, Online said 50 people were arrested in a ‘midnight search operation’ in hotels and hostels in Rawalpindi late on Wednesday. afnan khan/online

Bill would restrict use of Md. National Guard

Bill would restrict use of Md. National Guard

By William H. McMichael – Staff writer
Posted : Thursday Mar 5, 2009 17:48:58 EST

A Maryland state senator is pushing a bill that would require the governor to prevent the mobilization of the state’s National Guard for federal duty unless Congress has authorized the use of military force or issued a declaration of war.

The bill also would authorize the governor to ask for the return of deployed units in certain circumstances.

But unlike initiatives such as the multi-state “Bring the Guard Home” campaign that are rooted in anti-war sentiment, State Sen. Richard Madaleno Jr.’s bill aims to influence national policy and practice. Madaleno said he wants Congress to play a larger role in future troop deployment decisions, including determining whether the Guard truly needs to be part of any overseas military action.

“I think one of the lessons — certainly, of Iraq — is, ‘We gave this authority to the president,’ ” Madaleno said after a March 4 committee hearing on the bill in Annapolis, Md.

After the successful invasion, public awareness waned, which “allowed a policy drift,” Madaleno said. “And if you put in place certain additional checks, … you potentially provide the framework for Congress to do something and remain engaged in the oversight of the conflict.”

The debate over which branch of government has the authority to declare war has continued for decades. World War II was the last conflict initiated by a formal declaration of war. Congress in 2001 gave President George W. Bush blanket authority to deploy troops in response to terrorist attacks or threats, clearing the way for Operation Enduring Freedom, and in 2002 authorized the use of military force in Iraq.

But many of the conflicts or military strikes of the past 60 years have been fought, at least initially, without the approval of the body with the constitutional authority to “declare war” — most famously in Korea, but also in Libya, Grenada, Panama, Operation Desert Shield, Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, Sudan, the former Yugoslavia, Bosnia and Kosovo.

Madaleno, a Democrat, said he supported the Iraq invasion, although he said hebelieves there were “serious gaps in how the war was prosecuted after … the first six months.”

At the same time, he argued, “If we are actually going to be actively engaged in conflicts around the world for a variety of reasons, how do we create a political process that makes sure that the people remain engaged and supportive of the conflicts that we’re in? It shouldn’t just be the executive branch that is solely responsible for that decision-making. We have to create a political process that keeps the public engaged, informed, through their elected representatives.”

State Sen. George Edwards, a Republican, said he wasn’t familiar with Madaleno’s bill, but he indicated he would not be inclined to support it.

“Maybe there’s going to be times when something needs to be done without a declaration of war,” he said. “We’re part of the United States of America. We take things from the federal government, [like] when they want to give us this stimulus package money. The federal government buys most of our military equipment. When people join the Guard, they know the potential of being called up to active duty to protect the interests of the United States. I think it’s working fine just the way it is.”

The Maryland National Guard is staying out of the debate. “We have no position on this bill,” said Army Lt. Col. Charles Kohler, spokesman for the Maryland Guard. “Our job in the military is to follow the orders” of civilian leadership.

The Maryland Guard has about 300 troops mobilized and deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo and Bosnia, Kohler said. Over the 2007-08 timeframe, some 1,200 troops were deployed to Iraq, most with the 58th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, in what Kohler said was the Maryland Guard’s largest combat-zone deployment ever.

About 5,000 troops serve in the Maryland Army National Guard, with another 1,500 in the state’s Air National Guard, according to Kohler.

Currently, 34,851 Army National Guard and Air National Guard troops, and 24,717 members of the four Reserve forces, are deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan and other areas considered part of Operation Enduring Freedom, according to the Pentagon.

Maryland is also home to a Bring the Guard Home campaign, which argues that the National Guard is unlawfully deployed because the aims of the war in Iraq outlined in the 2002 congressional authorization for use of force have been achieved and that the authorization did not provide for “an indefinite assignment of State Guard members to the National Guard of the United States.”

Despite the differing emphasis in his bill, Madaleno — whose photo and bill are displayed on the campaign’s Web page — said he wouldn’t mind if the Maryland group’s and others’ initiatives were also successful, as they would have the same effect.

“By doing it this way, I’m trying to take a slightly different tack than several other states, where they’ve focused solely on the resolution to bring the Guard home from Iraq now,” Madaleno said. “And I’m trying to refocus and broaden the debate a little bit: What are the lessons of this conflict that inform us for the next conflict?”

Spy-dogs Begin to Howl As America Peeks Behind the Curtain

Inside CIA Headquarters in Langley, Va.
Inside CIA Headquarters in Langley, Va.
Christopher Morris / VII for TIME
For a handful of CIA operatives who were on the frontlines of the war on terror in the early months and years after 9/11, it’s the stuff of nightmares. After all, they did their job as their political masters defined it, using tools and techniques approved by their lawyers. Then came an election, and a new set of political masters, who have begun second-guessing everything they did before. Suddenly there is lots of talk about “violations” and “wrong-doing,” the promise of formal investigations and hearings, and the very real possibility that their life savings could go to defense lawyers.

Unfortunately for them, that nightmare looks like it may soon become frighteningly real. Against the wishes of the agency’s popular new leader, the CIA is in the crosshairs of two powerful Democratic Senators who are determined to get to the bottom of the Agency’s more controversial operations. And not even the White House has been able to get them to back off. (Read “Intelligence Lapses: The Risks of Relying on ‘Chatter’”.)

Diane Feinstein confirmed Thursday that her Senate Intelligence Committee will investigate the CIA’s interrogation and detention programs under the Bush Administration, a probe that she expects to take a year. The Californian seems to be reading from the same playbook as Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy, who this week reiterated his call for a ‘truth commission’ into the Bush Administration’s national security policies, including wiretapping, treatment of detainees and even the politicization of the Justice Department.President Obama has shown little appetite for raking over those particular coals, saying he’d rather “move forward.” Veteran Democrats on the Hill say it’s all very well for the President to want to start with a clean slate, but they’ve spent years asking questions about alleged wrongdoing under Bush — and they want answers. (Feinstein was unavailable for comment, but she’s expected to release a statement about the investigation this week.) (Read “Panetta: From Washington Insider to CIA Outsider”.)

Current intelligence staffers rarely speak on the record, but a number of recently retired heavy hitters have told TIME that Feinstein’s plan to investigate the Agency is a bad idea for a wide variety of reasons.

The former spies argue that the Agency’s staff need to be protected from changes in political climate. A joint statement issued by Feinstein and her Republican counterpart on the committee, Missouri Senator Kit Bond, said the probe will examine, among other things, “whether the CIA implemented the program in compliance with official guidance, including covert action findings, Office of Legal Counsel opinions, and CIA policy.” But the staffers responsible for carrying out detention and interrogation policies, they say, would never have used the controversial techniques if it had not been for explicit legal guidance from the Bush Administration. “The guy doing the interrogations — he did it knowing that the CIA wouldn’t have asked him to do it unless it was cleared all the way back … to the White House,” says Carl Ford, an ex-CIA hand who headed the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research from 2001-03.

WH backs Bush Pakistan, Afghanistan aid proposal

WH backs Bush Pakistan, Afghanistan aid proposal

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration is backing a proposal initiated under President George W. Bush that would allow poor tribal regions in Pakistan and Afghanistan to sell clothing and goods they make to U.S. buyers tax-free.

A group of House lawmakers, led by Rep. Chris Van Hollen, reintroduced legislation on Wednesday that would enable the president to designate “Reconstruction Opportunity Zones” inside the two countries from which goods could be imported into the U.S. duty-free.

“We truly share the goal of this legislation to fuel sustainable economic development and provide legitimate employment opportunities for the peoples of Afghanistan and Pakistan,” said White House adviser Paul Jones at a Capitol Hill news conference.

“Achieving that would send a strong message of our long-term commitment to the peace, security and prosperity of the region,” said Jones, who serves as deputy to Richard Holbrooke, the U.S. special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The endorsement is the first of several steps the new administration is expected to take to increase stability in the region, which in recent months has seen an uptick in violence and resurgence of Taliban strongholds.

President Barack Obama has already announced that he will send 17,000 additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan, a likely down payment on the request by ground commanders to double the U.S. force to 60,000. The administration also is expected to back legislation by Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Richard Lugar, R-Ind., that would substantially increase humanitarian aid for Pakistan.

Van Hollen, D-Md., a member of House Democratic leadership, could not say when a vote might happen but said there was strong support among Democratic leaders to pass the bill this year.

Ambassadors from Pakistan and Afghanistan also were on hand Wednesday to lend their support.

“The young people of Pakistan and Afghanistan’s tribal areas need to be given a choice other than employment by the Taliban,” said Pakistan’s U.S. ambassador, Husain Haqqani.

Last week, the administration led a round of intensive talks with leaders from the two countries. At the State Department, Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton, Holbrooke and other senior U.S. officials met separately with Pakistani delegation led by Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi and an Afghan delegation led by Foreign Minister Rangin Dadfar Spanta.

The State Department also hosted trilateral talks with both delegations. Clinton said the three sides would continue to meet on a regular basis.

Associated Press writer Matthew Lee contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press.

Thousands suffer as banking suspended

Thousands suffer as banking suspended

Friday, March 06, 2009
by Malik Mumtaz Khan

MIRAMSHAH: Despite protests by tribesmen and government employees, the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has so far failed to transfer a huge amount of Rs500 million to North Waziristan.

Prominent tribal elders Thursday expressed concern over absence of commercial banks in the agency, which they said had created numerous problems for area residents.

All the commercial banks closed their branches in the agency two years ago when situation worsened due to fighting between the armed forces and Taliban militants. At that time unknown armed men had looted two banks in Miramshah, and later all the banks in the region were closed.

Now due to absence of commercial banks in North Waziristan, the government finds it hard to ensure payment of monthly salaries to thousands of government employees, including those serving in the armed forces, Khassadars, health, education and other departments.

The State Bank of Pakistan every month shifts the amount to the adjoining Bannu district and then asks the political administration of North Waziristan to take the money to the tribal region.

Keeping in mind security threats on the Bannu-Miramshah Road where disappearances are common, the political administration always avoids shifting cash to the tribal region.

Miramshah Assistant Political Officer Asghar told ‘The News’ that Political Agent Muttahirzeb Khan had approached the SBP authorities and informed them about resentments of government employees about not receiving their salaries.

The political agent also suggested the SBP officials to shift the amount to Peshawar in future, instead of Bannu, so that they could take it to Miramshah via military plane that flies every Monday from Peshawar to Miramshah.

APO Asghar said the SBP officials agreed with the political agent and in future they would transfer the amount to Peshawar to avoid delay in shifting the money to Miramshah.

About Rs500 million cash meant for payment of salaries to government employees in North Waziristan is still lying at the National Bank of Pakistan branch in Bannu as the authorities argued they could not shift it by road.

Another senior government official told this scribe on condition of anonymity that all the commercial banks refused to reopen their branches in the agency.

All the branches of commercial banks including Habib Bank, Muslim Commercial Bank, United Bank, Allied Bank and Agriculture Bank, previously functioning in North Waziristan, have now been incorporated into their respective bank braches in Bannu.

The move created resentments in the tribesmen and termed it discriminatory attitude of the government with them. The business community and traders have criticised the absence of commercial banks in North Waziristan.

Meanwhile, representatives of a union formed by government employees including Malik Abdullah Khan, Malik Abdul Hakim and Haji Darya Khan, Thursday threatened to launch a protest movement if the government did not reopen branches of the commercial banks in the region.

They said economic situation in the tribal belt was deteriorating day by day due to anaemic banking.

Mayor killed in Pakistan bomb blast: police

Pakistani soldiers on patrol near Miranshah

Mayor killed in Pakistan bomb blast: police

MIRANSHAH, Pakistan (AFP) — The mayor of a town in remote northwest Pakistan was killed and his driver wounded Friday when a roadside bomb planted by suspected Taliban militants exploded near his car, police said.

The mayor of the town of Kaki, about 70 kilometres (45 miles) east of Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan tribal district, was travelling in the Mundan area when the explosion took place.

“Mayor Khair Ullah died and his driver was injured after his vehicle was hit by a remote-controlled bomb,” police official Saleem Khan told AFP.

Khan did not say who was believed to be behind the bombing but Taliban militants operating in the region, near the Afghan border, have carried out several recent attacks on policemen and government officials.

Northwest Pakistan has been wracked by violence since hundreds of extremists sought refuge in the area after the US-led invasion of Afghanistan that toppled the hardline Taliban regime in 2001.

Copyright © 2009 AFP.