Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Meredith Whitney, the analyst who predicted that Citigroup Inc. would cut its dividend last year, said the number of U.S. bank failures will quadruple as lenders struggle with bad loans.
“There will be over 300 bank closures,” Ms. Whitney said in an interview with Bloomberg Television from Jackson Hole, Wyo. “The small-business owner on Main Street continues to see liquidity come away.”
Unemployment has risen to the highest since the early 1980s and Americans are falling behind on mortgage payments at a record pace, forcing regulators to seize 77 lenders in 2009, the most in 17 years. Colonial BancGroup Inc. was closed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and taken over by BB&T Corp. on Aug. 14 in the biggest failure since Washington Mutual Inc. collapsed in 2008.
The FDIC plans to ease rules to allow private-equity investors to acquire insolvent banks, the New York Times reported Friday, citing unidentified people briefed on the situation. The move would help reduce the number of failed banks the FDIC needs to support as their number increases, the newspaper said.
Ms. Whitney said that even though the panic of the financial crisis has passed, investors have been “overzealous” in estimating bank profits for the next few years. Analysts polled by Bloomberg project earnings for the industry will surge more than ninefold this year and 57% in 2010 as lenders recover from the worst crisis since the Great Depression.
“Many banks may be OK for while, but the real driver for the economy, which is consumer spending, I don’t expect that to come back anytime soon,” she said.
Financial companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index have collectively rallied 135% in the past five months after falling to the lowest level since 1992.
Now, it’s becoming clear that the FDIC has its limits. According to an Aug. 23 report by Richard Bove, the vice president of equity research at , another 150 to 200 banks may fail in the aftermath of the credit crunch yet, and if they do, the FDIC could need more money to secure consumer deposits.
The FDIC’s Deposit Insurance Fund is now at its lowest point since March 2003, down to around $10 billion in June 2009 from more than $40 billion in June 2008, according to Bove. As that reserve has dwindled, the number of troubled banks has climbed to 250, and 81 have failed so far this year. During the 12 months prior to March 31, 44 banks failed and cost the Deposit Insurance Fund an estimated $20.1 billion, according to the FDIC. At the end of the first quarter of this year, the FDIC had $13 billion in its fund, and its reserve ratio (the balance of the fund divided by insured deposits) stood at 0.27%, its lowest point since 1993.
Regardless of the fund’s level and the stunning speed of its decline, all sources interviewed for this article said that the government plans to do everything in its power to keep it from running dry. As the fund loses money from bank failures, the FDIC replenishes it by charging its member banks a special assessment fee, which is essentially an insurance premium. Riskier institutions have to pay more, based on a risk assessment that includes supervisory issues, leverage ratios and loans that are past due, says Andrew Gray, a spokesman for the FDIC.
“After everything that went on in the past year that fund got somewhat depleted… so the FDIC felt it was prudent to increase the premiums,” says Carol Kaplan, a spokeseoman for the American Bankers Association, an industry trade group.
The assessment fee for all insured banks went from $1 billion in December to $2.6 billion in March, according to Bove. He projects additional special assessment fees in the fourth quarter of this year and the second quarter of next year to build up the FDIC’s reserves. In addition, the FDIC has also been granted a $100 billion line of credit with the U.S. Treasury.
Here’s what consumers need to know.
What does FDIC insurance cover?
Concerned consumers should confirm that accounts at their bank are FDIC-insured. That way, even if the bank fails, you won’t lose your money.
Use the online estimator tool at MyFDICinsurance.gov or call 1-877-ASK-FDIC.
In 2008, the FDIC increased the amount of money it insures per individual per bank from $100,000 to $250,000 until Dec. 31, 2013. That means that account holders can have up to $250,000 insured in a checking or savings account, certificate of deposit or money-market account, collectively in one bank. In addition, you can have a joint account with a spouse for up to $250,000.
If you have more than $250,000 in deposits, consider signing up for a Certificate of Deposit Account Registry Service (CDARS), a program in which you can deposit more than the insured limit with one participating bank, says Jim Chessen, the chief economist at the American Bankers Association. Your bank will swap the amount in excess of $250,000 to another bank so that you maintain full FDIC protection on your investment. The money is at multiple banks, but you sign one agreement with the participating bank of your choice, earn one interest rate on all your accounts, and receive a regular statement. To locate a bank that offers this program in your region, click here.How do the special assessment fees that banks incur affect the consumer?
Banks are likely to increase their or fees on their loans or lower their interest rates on their depository accounts, says Linda Sherry, a spokeswoman at Action, national nonprofit consumer education and advocacy organization.
“If they don’t, it would go against all the experience we’ve ever seen with banks,” she says. “They pass along to consumers. If they have enough customers at their banks these are likely to be smallish increases in fees that consumers experience.”
Fees could also result in a larger minimum required payment on loans, fees to get an extra copy of your statement or higher overdraft fees, she says.
Still, paying a few pennies more or even a dollar more in fees on average is a small price to pay to have your money insured for up to $250,000, Sherry says.
Can I research my ’s health?
Consumers who want to check up on their bank’s health have several options. With publicly-traded banks look at their Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filings; you can look up their financial status at sec.gov or on the bank’s web site, where they often include their own financial information. It’s harder to track privately-held banks, but consumers are within their rights to ask bank representatives for copies of balance sheets and other financial paperwork, Sherry says.
In addition, Bankrate.com offers free ratings reports on a bank’s health based on its profitability, liquidity, asset quality and capital. With a state-chartered bank, consumers can call their state banking authority to find out about the institution’s safety and soundness.
What happens when a bank closes?
The FDIC keeps very close tabs on banks, says Kaplan.
Banks are required by law to submit certain financial information in a monthly call report, she says, which is like a balance sheet of assets, liabilities and outstanding loans. When the FDIC pinpoints an unhealthy bank, it’s added to the troubled-bank list.
Some banks on that list eventually fail, and the government typically decides to shut them down. This decision usually goes into effect on a Friday afternoon; by that time, the government should have a good idea of what bank will take over the failed institution. If a buyer can’t be found, the regulator will act as a temporary custodian while its assets are sold and the money is returned to consumers before it’s dissolved.
“The FDIC does everything in its power to get that bank taken over by larger institution,” Sherry says. “They don’t want the bank to just go away; they want it to be merged into another institution and for business to go on as usual.”
According to Bove’s report: “The difficulty at the moment is finding enough healthy banks to buy the failing banks. This is not a problem in the case of the smallest failed institutions but it is a problem in the case of the larger institutions. Big American banks are showing no real desire to bid for the failed banks. Thus, the FDIC is looking for buyers overseas and among private equity funds.”
What happens to your money when your bank fails?
Regardless of what happens when an FDIC-insured bank fails, in most cases, you can still make ATM withdrawals and maintain immediate access to your money.
The FDIC normally makes account holders’ funds available instantly, but in some cases it might take two or three days, Kaplan says. As more small banks fail, Kaplan doesn’t anticipate that this period will be extended.
If the bank isn’t acquired by another institution, the regulator typically sends out the account holder’s money by check, says Greg McBride, a senior financial analyst at Bankrate.com.
Could the FDIC ever fail?
“FDIC insurance is the underpinning of the entire banking system,” McBride says.
The money is backed by the full force of the U.S. government. “It would have to be a catastrophic event of proportions that we’ve never seen for that to even become an issue,” Kaplan says. “I couldn’t imagine something like that happening. The backing of the U.S. government is pretty much as good as it gets, she says.
by AnnaMaria Andriotis and Sarah Morgan
印尼峇厘島一群學生週二聚集在登巴薩的印尼藝術學院外，大跳迎賓的北德舞（Pedet），以抗議大馬旅遊局在探索頻道播出的電視廣告中，以北德舞來宣傳旅 遊業。印尼當局堅稱，北德舞是峇里島的傳統舞蹈，而非大馬傳統舞蹈，印尼文化旅遊部表示，大馬政府在未徵得印尼政府同意前，不該在宣傳廣告中使用北德舞， 並已向大馬文化部正式提出抗議。馬印兩國並非首次因文化遺產擁有權而引起紛爭。2年前，大馬使用《RasaSayang》作為宣傳旅遊年活動的主題曲，也 被印尼指為盜竊版權，一度掀起外交風波。（圖：法新社）
（香港）英國醫學雜誌（British Medical Journal）今日（週三，8月26日）刊登的調查顯示，香港有逾半數的醫護人員因為擔心副作用和懷疑疫苗的效用，拒絕接種A型流感疫苗。這項調查是主要是針對2255名在公共醫院服務的醫護人員進行。
Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, a son of one of the most storied families in American politics, a man who knew triumph and tragedy in near-equal measure and who will be remembered as one of the most effective lawmakers in the history of the Senate, died late Tuesday night. He was 77.
The death of Mr. Kennedy, who had been battling brain cancer, was announced Wednesday morning in a statement by the Kennedy family, which was already mourning the death of the senator’s sister Eunice Kennedy Shriver two weeks earlier.
“Edward M. Kennedy – the husband, father, grandfather, brother and uncle we loved so deeply – died late Tuesday night at home in Hyannis Port,” the statement said. “We’ve lost the irreplaceable center of our family and joyous light in our lives, but the inspiration of his faith, optimism, and perseverance will live on in our hearts forever.”
“An important chapter in our history has come to an end,” President Obama said in a statement. “Our country has lost a great leader, who picked up the torch of his fallen brothers and became the greatest United States senator of our time.”
Mr. Kennedy had been in precarious health since he suffered a seizure in May 2008. His doctors determined the cause had been a malignant glioma, a brain tumor that often carries a grim prognosis.
As he underwent cancer treatment, Mr. Kennedy was little seen in Washington, appearing most recently at the White House in April as Mr. Obama signed a national service bill that bears the Kennedy name. Last week Mr. Kennedy urged Massachusetts lawmakers to change state law and let Gov. Deval Patrick appoint a temporary replacement upon his death, to assure that the state’s representation in Congress would not be interrupted by a special election.While Mr. Kennedy had been physically absent from the capital in recent months, his presence had been deeply felt as Congress weighed the most sweeping revisions to America’s health care system in decades, an effort Mr. Kennedy called “the cause of my life.”
On July 15, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee, which Mr. Kennedy headed, passed health care legislation, and the battle over the proposed overhaul is now
consuming Capitol Hill.
Mr. Kennedy was the last surviving brother of a generation of Kennedys that dominated American politics in the 1960s and that came to embody glamour, political idealism and untimely death. The Kennedy mystique — some call it the Kennedy myth — has held the imagination of the world for decades and came to rest on the sometimes too-narrow shoulders of the brother known as Teddy.
Mr. Kennedy, who served 46 years as the most well-known Democrat in the Senate, longer than all but two other senators, was the only one of those brothers to die after reaching old age. President John F. Kennedy and Senator Robert F. Kennedy were felled by assassins’ bullets in their 40s. The eldest brother, Joseph P. Kennedy Jr., died in 1944 at the age of 29 while on a risky World War II bombing mission.
Mr. Kennedy spent much of last year in treatment and recuperation, broken by occasional public appearances and a dramatic return to the Capitol last summer to cast a decisive vote on a Medicare bill.
He electrified the opening night of the Democratic National Convention in Denver in August with an unscheduled appearance and a speech that had delegates on their feet. Many were in tears.
His gait was halting, but his voice was strong. “My fellow Democrats, my fellow Americans, it is so wonderful to be here, and nothing is going to keep me away from this special gathering tonight,” Mr. Kennedy said. “I have come here tonight to stand with you to change America, to restore its future, to rise to our best ideals and to elect Barack Obama president of the United States.”
Senator Kennedy was at or near the center of much of American history in the latter part of the 20th century and the early years of the 21st. For much of his adult life, he veered from victory to catastrophe, winning every Senate election he entered but failing in his only try for the presidency; living through the sudden deaths of his brothers and three of his nephews; being responsible for the drowning death on Chappaquiddick Island of a young woman, Mary Jo Kopechne, a former aide to his brother Robert. One of the nephews, John F. Kennedy Jr., who the family hoped would one day seek political office and keep the Kennedy tradition alive, died in a plane crash in 1999 at age 38.
Mr. Kennedy himself was almost killed, in 1964, in a plane crash, which left him with permanent back and neck problems.
He was a Rabelaisian figure in the Senate and in life, instantly recognizable by his shock of white hair, his florid, oversize face, his booming Boston brogue, his powerful but pained stride. He was a celebrity, sometimes a self-parody, a hearty friend, an implacable foe, a man of large faith and large flaws, a melancholy character who persevered, drank deeply and sang loudly. He was a Kennedy.
Senator Robert C. Byrd, Democrat of West Virginia, one of the institution’s most devoted students, said of his longtime colleague, “Ted Kennedy would have been a leader, an outstanding senator, at any period in the nation’s history.”
Mr. Byrd is one of only two senators to have served longer in the chamber than Mr. Kennedy; the other was Strom Thurmond of South Carolina. In May 2008, on learning of Mr. Kennedy’s diagnosis of a lethal brain tumor, Mr. Byrd wept openly on the floor of the Senate.Born to one of the wealthiest American families, Mr. Kennedy spoke for the downtrodden in his public life while living the heedless private life of a playboy and a rake for many of his years. Dismissed early in his career as a lightweight and an unworthy successor to his revered brothers, he grew in stature over time by sheer longevity and by hewing to liberal principles while often crossing the partisan aisle to enact legislation. A man of unbridled appetites at times, he nevertheless brought a discipline to his public work that resulted in an impressive catalog of legislative achievement across a broad landscape of social policy.
Mr. Kennedy left his mark on legislation concerning civil rights, health care, education, voting rights and labor. He was chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions at his death. But he was more than a legislator. He was a living legend whose presence insured a crowd and whose hovering figure haunted many a president.
Although he was a leading spokesman for liberal issues and a favorite target of conservative fund-raising appeals, the hallmark of his legislative success was his ability to find Republican allies to get bills passed. Perhaps the last notable example was his work with President George W. Bush to pass the No Child Left Behind education law pushed by Mr. Bush in 2001. He also co-sponsored immigration legislation with Senator John McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee. One of his greatest friends and collaborators in the Senate was Orrin Hatch, the Utah Republican.
Mr. Kennedy had less impact on foreign policy than on domestic concerns, but when he spoke his voice was influential. He led the Congressional effort to impose sanctions on South Africa over apartheid, pushed for peace in Northern Ireland, won a ban on arms sales to the dictatorship in Chile and denounced the Vietnam War. In 2002, he voted against authorizing the Iraq war; later, he called that opposition “the best vote I’ve made in my 44 years in the United States Senate.”
At a pivotal moment in the 2008 Democratic presidential primaries, Mr. Kennedy endorsed Senator Obama for president, saying Mr. Obama offered America a chance for racial reconciliation and an opportunity to turn the page on the polarizing politics of the past several decades.
“He will be a president who refuses to be trapped in the patterns of the past,” Mr. Kennedy told an Obama rally in Washington on Jan. 28, 2008. “He is a leader who sees the world clearly, without being cynical. He is a fighter who cares passionately about the causes he believes in without demonizing those who hold a different view.”Mr. Kennedy struggled for much of his life with his weight, with alcohol and with persistent tales of womanizing. In an Easter break episode in 1991 in Palm Beach, Fla., he went out drinking with his son Patrick and a nephew, William Kennedy Smith, on the night that Mr. Smith was accused of raping a woman. Mr. Smith was prosecuted in a lurid trial that fall but was acquitted.
Mr. Kennedy’s personal life stabilized in 1992 with his marriage to Victoria Anne Reggie, a Washington lawyer. His first marriage, to Joan Bennett Kennedy, ended in divorce in 1982 after 24 years.
Senator Kennedy served as a surrogate father to his brothers’ children and worked to keep the Kennedy flame alive through the Kennedy Library in Boston, the Kennedy Center in Washington and the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, where he helped establish the Institute of Politics.
In December, Harvard granted Mr. Kennedy a special honorary degree. He referred to Mr. Obama’s election as “not just a culmination, but a new beginning.”
He then spoke of his own life, and perhaps his legacy.
“We know the future will outlast all of us, but I believe that all of us will live on in the future we make,” he said. “I have lived a blessed time.”
Kennedy family courtiers and many other Democrats believed he would eventually win the White House and redeem the promise of his older brothers. In 1980, he took on the president of his own party, Jimmy Carter, but fell short because of Chappaquiddick, a divided party and his own weaknesses as a candidate, including an inability to articulate why he sought the office.
But as that race ended in August at the Democratic National Convention in New York, Mr. Kennedy delivered his most memorable words, wrapping his dedication to party principles in the gauzy cloak of Camelot.
“For me, a few hours ago, this campaign came to an end,” Mr. Kennedy said in the coda to a speech before a rapt audience at Madison Square Garden and on television. “For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.”
A Family Steeped in Politics
Born Feb. 22, 1932, in Brookline, Mass., just outside Boston, Edward Moore Kennedy grew up in a family of shrewd politicians. Both his father, Joseph P. Kennedy, and his mother, the former Rose Fitzgerald, came from prominent Irish-Catholic families with long involvement in the hurly-burly of Democratic politics in Boston and Massachusetts. His father, who made a fortune in real estate, movies and banking, served in President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration, as the first chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission and then as ambassador to Britain.
There were nine Kennedy children, four boys and five girls, with Edward the youngest. They grew up talking politics, power and influence because those were the things that preoccupied the mind of Joseph Kennedy. As Rose Kennedy, who took responsibility for the children’s Roman Catholic upbringing, once put it: “My babies were rocked to political lullabies.”
When Edward was born, President Herbert Hoover sent Rose a bouquet of flowers and a note of congratulations. The note came with 5 cents postage due; the framed envelope is a family heirloom.
It was understood among the children that Joseph P. Kennedy Jr., the oldest boy, would someday run for Congress and, his father hoped, the White House. When Joseph Jr. was killed in World War II, it fell to the next oldest son, John F., to run. As John said at one point in 1959 while serving in the Senate: “Just as I went into politics because Joe died, if anything happened to me tomorrow, Bobby would run for my seat in the Senate. And if Bobby died, our young brother, Ted, would take over for him.”Although surrounded by the trappings of wealth — stately houses, servants and expensive cars — young Teddy did not enjoy a settled childhood. He bounced among the family homes in Boston, New York, London and Palm Beach, and by the time Edward was ready to enter college, he had attended 10 preparatory schools in the United States and England, finally finishing at Milton Academy, near Boston. He said that the constant moving had forced him to become more genial with strangers; indeed, he grew to be more of a natural politician than either John or Robert.
After graduating from Milton in 1950, where he showed a penchant for debating and sports but was otherwise an undistinguished student, Mr. Kennedy enrolled in Harvard, as had his father and brothers. It was at Harvard, in his freshman year, that he ran into the first of several personal troubles that were to dog him for the rest of his life: He persuaded another student to take his Spanish examination, got caught and was forced to leave the university.
Suddenly draft-eligible during the Korean War, Mr. Kennedy enlisted in the Army and served two years, securing, with his father’s help, a cushy post at NATO headquarters in Paris. In 1953, he was discharged with the rank of private first class.
Re-enrolling in Harvard, he became a more serious student, majoring in government, excelling in public speaking and playing first-string end on the football team. He graduated in 1956 with a Bachelor of Arts degree, then enrolled in the University of Virginia School of Law, where Robert had studied. There, he won the moot court competition and took a degree in 1959. Later that year, he was admitted to the Massachusetts bar.
Mr. Kennedy’s first foray into politics came in 1958, while still a law student, when he managed John’s Senate re-election campaign. There was never any real doubt that Massachusetts voters would return John Kennedy to Washington, but it was a useful internship for his youngest brother.
That same year, Mr. Kennedy married Virginia Joan Bennett, a debutante from Bronxville, a New York suburb where the Kennedys had once lived. In 1960, when John Kennedy ran for president, Edward was assigned a relatively minor role, rustling up votes in Western states that usually voted Republican. He was so enthusiastic about his task that he rode a bronco at a Montana rodeo and daringly took a ski jump at a winter sports tournament in Wisconsin to impress a crowd. The episodes were evidence of a reckless streak that repeatedly threatened his life and career.John Kennedy’s election to the White House left vacant a Senate seat that the family considered its property. Robert Kennedy was next in line, but chose the post of attorney general instead (an act of nepotism that has since been outlawed). Edward was only 28, two years shy of the minimum age for Senate service.
So the Kennedys installed Benjamin A. Smith 2d, a family friend, as a seat-warmer until 1962, when a special election would be held and Edward would have turned 30. Edward used the time to travel the world and work as an assistant district attorney in Boston, waiving the $5,000 salary and serving instead for $1 a year.As James Sterling Young, the director of a Kennedy Oral History Project at the University of Virginia, put it: “Most people grow up and go into politics. The Kennedys go into politics and then they grow up.”
Less than a month after turning 30 in 1962, Mr. Kennedy declared his candidacy for the remaining two years of his brother’s Senate term. He entered the race with a tailwind of family money and political prominence. Nevertheless, Edward J. McCormack Jr., the state’s attorney general and a nephew of John W. McCormack, then speaker of the United States House of Representatives, also decided to go after the seat.
It was a bitter fight, with a public rehash of the Harvard cheating episode and with Mr. McCormack charging in a televised “Teddy-Eddie” debate that Mr. Kennedy lacked maturity of judgment because he had “never worked for a living” and had never held elective office. “If your name was simply Edward Moore instead of Edward Moore Kennedy,” Mr. McCormack added, “your candidacy would be a joke.”
But the Kennedys had ushered in an era of celebrity politics, which trumped qualifications in this case. Mr. Kennedy won the primary by a two-to-one ratio, then went on to easy victory in November against the Republican candidate, George Cabot Lodge, a member of an old-line Boston family that had clashed politically with the Kennedys through the years.
When Mr. Kennedy entered the Senate in 1962, he was aware that he might be seen as an upstart, with one brother in the White House and another in the cabinet. He sought guidance on the very first day from one of the Senate’s most respected elders, Richard Russell of Georgia. “You go further if you go slow,” Senator Russell advised.
Mr. Kennedy took things slowly, especially that first year. He did his homework, was seen more than he was heard and was deferential to veteran legislators.On Friday, Nov. 22, 1963, he was presiding over the Senate when a wire service ticker in the lobby brought the news of John Kennedy’s shooting in Dallas. Violence had claimed the second of Joseph Kennedy’s sons.
Edward was sent to Hyannis Port to break the news to his father, who had been disabled by a stroke. He returned to Washington for the televised funeral and burial, the first many Americans had seen of him. He and Robert had planned to read excerpts from John’s speeches at the Arlington burial service. At the last moment they chose not to.
A friend described him as “shattered — calm but shattered.”
A Deadly Plane Crash
Robert moved into the breach and was immediately discussed as a presidential prospect. Edward became a more prominent family spokesman.
The next year, he was up for re-election. A heavy favorite from the start, he was on his way to the state convention that was to renominate him when his light plane crashed in a storm near Westfield, Mass. The pilot and a Kennedy aide were killed, and Mr. Kennedy’s back and several ribs were broken. Senator Birch Bayh of Indiana pulled Mr. Kennedy from the plane.
The senator was hospitalized for the next six months, suspended immobile between a frame that resembled a waffle iron. His wife, Joan, carried on his campaign, mainly by advising voters that he was steadily recovering. He won easily over a little-known Republican, Howard Whitmore Jr.
During his convalescence, Mr. Kennedy devoted himself to his legislative work. He was briefed by a parade of Harvard professors and began to develop his positions on immigration, health care and civil rights.
“I never thought the time was lost,” he said later. “I had a lot of hours to think about what was important and what was not and about what I wanted to do with my life.”He returned to the Senate in 1965, joining his brother Robert, who had won a seat from New York. Edward promptly entered a major fight, his first. President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Voting Rights Act was up for consideration, and Mr. Kennedy tried to strengthen it with an amendment that would have outlawed poll taxes. He lost by only four votes, serving lasting notice on his colleagues that he was a rapidly maturing legislator who could prepare a good case and argue it effectively.
Mr. Kennedy was slow to oppose the war in Vietnam, but in 1968, shortly after Robert decided to seek the presidency on an antiwar platform, Edward called the war a “monstrous outrage.”
Robert Kennedy was shot on June 5, 1968, as he celebrated his victory in the California primary, becoming the third of Joseph Kennedy’s sons to die a violent death. Edward was in San Francisco at a victory celebration. He commandeered an Air Force plane and flew to Los Angeles.Frank Mankiewicz, Robert’s press secretary, saw Edward “leaning over the sink with the most awful expression on his face.”
“Much more than agony, more than anguish — I don’t know if there’s a word for it,” Mr. Mankiewicz said, recalling the encounter in “Edward M. Kennedy: A Biography,” by Adam Clymer (William Morrow, 1999).
Robert’s death draped Edward in the Kennedy mantle long before he was ready for it and forced him to confront his own mortality. But he summoned himself to deliver an eloquent eulogy at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York.
“My brother need not be idealized, or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life, to be remembered simply as a good and decent man, who saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it,” Mr. Kennedy said, his voice faltering. “Those of us who loved him and who take him to his rest today pray that what he was to us and what he wished for others will someday come to pass for all the world.”
A New Role as Patriarch
After the funeral, Edward Kennedy withdrew from public life and spent several months brooding, much of it while sailing off the New England coast.
Near the end of the summer of 1968, he emerged from seclusion, the sole survivor of Joseph Kennedy’s boys, ready to take over as family patriarch and substitute father to John’s and Robert’s 13 children, seemingly eager to get on with what he called his “public responsibilities.”
“There is no safety in hiding,” he declared in a speech at Holy Cross College in Worcester, Mass., in August. “Like my brothers before me, I pick up a fallen standard. Sustained by the memory of our priceless years together, I shall try to carry forward that special commitment to justice, excellence and courage that distinguished their lives.”There was some talk of his running for president at that point. But he ultimately endorsed Hubert H. Humphrey in his losing campaign to Richard M. Nixon.
Mr. Kennedy focused more on bringing the war in Vietnam to an end and on building his Senate career. Although only 36, he challenged Senator Russell B. Long of Louisiana, one of the shrewdest, most powerful legislators on Capitol Hill, for the post of deputy majority leader. Fellow liberals sided with him, and he edged Mr. Long by five votes to become the youngest assistant majority leader, or whip, in Senate history.
He plunged into the new job with Kennedy enthusiasm. But fate, and the Kennedy recklessness, intervened on July 18, 1969. Mr. Kennedy had been at a party with several women who had been aides to Robert. The party, a liquor-soaked barbecue, was held at a rented cottage on Chappaquiddick Island, off Martha’s Vineyard. He left around midnight with Mary Jo Kopechne, 28, took a turn away from the ferry landing and drove the car off a narrow bridge on an isolated beach road. The car sank in eight feet of water, but he managed to escape. Miss Kopechne, a former campaign worker for Robert, drowned.
Mr. Kennedy did not report the accident to the authorities for almost 10 hours, explaining later that he had been so banged about by the crash that he had suffered a concussion, and that he had become so exhausted while trying to rescue Miss Kopechne that he had gone immediately to bed. A week later, he pleaded guilty to a charge of leaving the scene of an accident and was given a two-month suspended sentence.
But that was far from the end of the incident. Questions lingered in the minds of the Massachusetts authorities and of the general public. Why was the car on an isolated road? Had he been drinking? (Mr. Kennedy testified at an inquest that he had had two drinks.) What sort of relationship did Mr. Kennedy and Miss Kopechne have? Could she have been saved if he had sought help immediately? Why did the senator tell his political advisers about the accident before reporting it to the police?
The controversy became so intense that Mr. Kennedy went on television to ask Massachusetts voters whether he should resign from office. He conceded that his actions after the crash had been “indefensible.” But he steadfastly denied any intentional wrongdoing.His constituents sent word that he should remain in the Senate. And little more than a year later, he easily won re-election to a second full term, again defeating a little-known Republican, Josiah A. Spaulding, by a three-to-two ratio. But his heart did not seem to be in his work any longer. He was sometimes absent from Senate sessions and neglected his whip duties. Senator Byrd, of West Virginia, took the job away from him by putting together a coalition of Southern and border-state Democrats to vote him out.That loss shook Mr. Kennedy out of his lethargy. He rededicated himself to his role as a legislator. “It hurts like hell to lose,” he said, “but now I can get around the country more. And it frees me to spend more time on issues I’m interested in.” Many years later, he became friends with Mr. Byrd and told him the defeat had been the best thing that could have happened in his Senate career.
Turmoil at Home
In the next decade, Mr. Kennedy expanded on his national reputation, first pushing to end the war in Vietnam, then concentrating on his favorite legislative issues, especially civil rights, health, taxes, criminal laws and deregulation of the airline and trucking industries. He traveled the country, making speeches that kept him in the public eye.
But when he was mentioned as a possible candidate for president in 1972, he demurred; and when the Democratic nominee, George S. McGovern, offered him the vice-presidential nomination, Mr. Kennedy again said no, not wanting to face the inevitable Chappaquiddick questions.
In 1973, his son Edward M. Kennedy Jr., then 12, developed a bone cancer that cost him a leg. The next year, Mr. Kennedy took himself out of the 1976 race. Instead, Mr. Kennedy easily won a third full term in the Senate, and Jimmy Carter, a former one-term governor of Georgia, moved into the White House.In early 1978, Mr. Kennedy’s wife, Joan, moved out of their sprawling contemporary house overlooking the Potomac River near McLean, Va., a Washington suburb. She took up residence in an apartment of her own in Boston, saying she wanted to “explore options other than being a housewife and mother.” But she also acknowledged a problem with alcohol, and conceded that she was increasingly uncomfortable with the pressure-cooker life that went with membership in the Kennedy clan. She began studying music and enrolled in a program for alcoholics.
The separation posed not only personal but also political problems for the senator. After Mrs. Kennedy left for Boston, there were rumors that linked the senator with other women. He maintained that he still loved his wife and indicated that the main reason for the separation was Mrs. Kennedy’s desire to work out her alcohol problem. She subsequently campaigned for him in the 1980 race, but there was never any real reconciliation, and they eventually entered divorce proceedings.
Although Mr. Kennedy supported Mr. Carter in 1976, by late 1978 he was disenchanted. Polls indicated that the senator was becoming popular while the president was losing support. In December, at a midterm Democratic convention in Memphis, Mr. Kennedy could hold back no longer. He gave a thundering speech that, in retrospect, was the opening shot in the 1980 campaign.
“Sometimes a party must sail against the wind,” he declared, referring to Mr. Carter’s economic belt-tightening and political caution. “We cannot heed the call of those who say it is time to furl the sail. The party that tore itself apart over Vietnam in the 1960s cannot afford to tear itself apart today over budget cuts in basic social programs.”
Mr. Kennedy did not then declare his candidacy. But draft-Kennedy groups began to form in early 1979, and some Democrats up for re-election in 1980 began to cast about for coattails that were longer than Mr. Carter’s.
After consulting advisers and family members over the summer of 1979, Mr. Kennedy began speaking openly of challenging the president, and on Nov. 7, 1979, he announced officially that he would run. “Our leaders have resigned themselves to defeat,” he said.
The campaign was a disaster, badly organized and appearing to lack a political or policy premise. His speeches were clumsy, and his delivery was frequently stumbling and bombastic. And in the background, Chappaquiddick always loomed. He won the New York and California primaries, but the victories were too little and came too late to unseat Mr. Carter. At the party’s nominating convention in New York, however, he stole the show with his “dream shall never die” speech.With the approach of the 1984 election, there was the inevitable speculation that Mr. Kennedy, who had easily won re-election to the Senate in 1982, would again seek the presidency. He prepared and planned a campaign. But in the end he chose not to run, saying he wanted to spare his family a repeat of the ordeal they went through in 1980. Skeptics said he also knew he could not fight the undertow of Chappaquiddick.
A Full-On Senate FocusFreed at last of the expectation that he should and would seek the White House, Mr. Kennedy devoted himself fully to his day job in the Senate. He led the fight for the 18-year-old vote, the abolition of the draft, deregulation of the airline and trucking industries, and the post-Watergate campaign finance legislation. He was deeply involved in renewals of the Voting Rights Act and the Fair Housing law of 1968. He helped establish the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. He built federal support for community health care centers, increased cancer research financing and helped create the Meals on Wheels program. He was a major proponent of a health and nutrition program for pregnant women and infants.
When Republicans took over the Senate in 1981, Mr. Kennedy requested the ranking minority position on the Labor and Public Welfare Committee, asserting that the issues before the labor and welfare panel would be more important during the Reagan years.
In the years after his failed White House bid, Mr. Kennedy also established himself as someone who made “lawmaker” mean more than a word used in headlines to describe any member of Congress. Though his personal life was a mess until his remarriage in the early 1990s, he never failed to show up prepared for a committee hearing or a floor debate.
His most notable focus was civil rights, “still the unfinished business of America,” he often said. In 1982, he led a successful fight to defeat the Reagan administration’s effort to weaken the Voting Rights Act.
In one of those bipartisan alliances that were hallmarks of his legislative successes, Mr. Kennedy worked with Senator Bob Dole, Republican of Kansas, to secure passage of the voting rights measure, and Mr. Dole got most of the credit.
Perhaps his greatest success on civil rights came in 1990 with passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which required employers and public facilities to make “reasonable accommodation” for the disabled. When the law was finally passed, Mr. Kennedy and others told how their views on the bill had been shaped by having relatives with disabilities. Mr. Kennedy cited his mentally disabled sister, Rosemary, and his son who had lost a leg to cancer.
Mr. Kennedy was one of Bill and Hillary Clinton’s strongest allies in their failed 1994 effort to enact national health insurance, a measure the senator had been pushing, in one form or another, since 1969.But he kept pushing incremental reforms, and in 1997, teaming with Senator Hatch, Mr. Kennedy helped enact a landmark health care program for children in low-income families, a program now known as the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, or S-Chip.
He led efforts to increase aid for higher education and win passage of Mr. Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act. He pushed for increases in the federal minimum wage. He helped win enactment of the Medicare prescription drug benefit, one of the largest expansions of government health aid ever.
He was a forceful and successful opponent of the confirmation of Robert H. Bork to the Supreme Court. In a speech delivered within minutes of President Reagan’s nomination of Mr. Bork in 1987, Mr. Kennedy made an attack that even friendly commentators called demagogic. Mr. Bork’s “extremist view of the Constitution,” he said, meant that “Robert Bork’s America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens’ doors in midnight raids, and schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists could be censored at the whim of government, and the doors of the federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of Americans.”
Some of Mr. Kennedy’s success as a legislator can be traced to the quality and loyalty of his staff, considered by his colleagues and outsiders alike to be the best on Capitol Hill.
“He has one of the most distinguished alumni associations of any U.S. senator,” said Ross K. Baker, a political scientist at Rutgers University who has worked in Congress. “To have served in even a minor capacity in the Kennedy office or on one of his committees is a major entry in anyone’s résumé.”
Those who have worked for Mr. Kennedy include Stephen G. Breyer, appointed to the Supreme Court by President Clinton; Gregory B. Craig, now the White House counsel; and Kenneth R. Feinberg, the Obama administration’s top official for compensation.
Mr. Kennedy “deserves recognition not just as the leading senator of his time, but as one of the greats in its history, wise in the workings of this singular institution, especially its demand to be more than partisan to accomplish much,” Mr. Clymer wrote in his biography.“The deaths and tragedies around him would have led others to withdraw. He never quits, but sails against the wind.”
Mr. Kennedy is survived by his wife, known as Vicki; two sons, Edward M. Kennedy Jr. of Branford, Conn., and United States Representative Patrick J. Kennedy of Rhode Island; a daughter, Kara Kennedy Allen, of Bethesda, Md.; two stepchildren, Curran Raclin and Caroline Raclin, and four grandchildren. His former wife, Joan Kennedy, lives in Boston.Mr. Kennedy is also survived by a sister, Jean Kennedy Smith, of New York. On Aug. 11, his sister Eunice Kennedy Shriver of Potomac, Md., died at age 88. Another sister, Patricia Lawford Kennedy, died in 2006. His sister Rosemary died in 2005, and his sister Kathleen died in a plane crash in 1948.
Their little brother Teddy was the youngest, the little bear whom everyone cuddled, whom no one took seriously and from whom little was expected. He reluctantly and at times awkwardly carried the Kennedy standard, with all it implied and all it required. And yet, some scholars contend, he may have proved himself the most worthy.
“He was a quintessential Kennedy, in the sense that he had all the warts as well as all the charisma and a lot of the strengths,” said Norman J. Ornstein, a political scientist at the American Enterprise Institute. “If his father, Joe, had surveyed, from an early age up to the time of his death, all of his children, his sons in particular, and asked to rank them on talents, effectiveness, likelihood to have an impact on the world, Ted would have been a very poor fourth. Joe, John, Bobby ... Ted.“He was the survivor,” Mr. Ornstein continued. “He was not a shining star that burned brightly and faded away. He had a long, steady glow. When you survey the impact of the Kennedys on American life and politics and policy, he will end up by far being the most significant.”
By JOHN M. BRODER
有 人觀測說，美國前總統克林頓本月4日訪問北韓是一個轉折點。此後接連發生了一系列事情，13日釋放被扣押的韓國職員劉成鎮、17日公佈重啟金剛山和開城旅 遊等現代集團和北韓之間達成的五項協議、21日解除北韓地區出入和逗留限制、23日北韓特使弔唁團見韓國總統李明博等。
安 全部門的一位官員表示，北韓的態度是，除了核問題外，其他都會解決，但在根本核問題沒有發生變化的情況下，隨時都可能進入對峙狀態。中央大學教授李兆遠擔 心地說，北韓的態度是，除了核問題之外，都會善良地生活，營造這種氛圍可能會讓我們產生一種錯覺，他解釋說，北韓現在採取的措施只是將此前的錯誤恢復原 狀，並沒有特別進展。
韓國外交安全研究院教授尹德敏表示，北韓現在可能是為了讓外部承認繼承格局等情況而營造環境。世宗研究 所安全研究室室長麆相賢分析說，在此過程中，核問題很有可能成為獲得體制保障和全面經濟援助以後的最後一個議題。京畿大學教授南柱洪表示，關於核等安全問 題，北韓想同美國進行談判，而與韓國之間只想討論可以賺錢的經濟合作問題。
相反，東國大學教授金龍賢等部分專家指出，北韓已 邀請六方會談美國代表團團長金成訪北，而且中國代表團團長、中國外交部副部長武大偉已於17日至21日訪問了北韓，這可能是為了重返六方會談。他們解釋 說，因為北韓此前曾說過「不會參加六方會談」的狠話，所以希望美國或中國能提供一個重返六方會談的藉口。
利比亞前特務梅格拉希（Abdelbaset Ali Mohmetal-Megrahi）被蘇格蘭法院判定為1988年洛克比（Lockerbie）空難爆炸主犯，這個恐怖攻擊造成270人喪生，其中多數死者是美國人。
俄 羅斯太空雜誌《Novosti Kosmonavtiki》主編阿法納斯耶夫(Afanasyev) 在8月25日接受「俄羅斯商業日報」採訪時表示，認為俄羅斯對韓國的衛星未能進入目標軌道負有責任的主張毫無依據。由俄羅斯負責研發的第一級火箭發射成 功，沒有出現任何問題。”
對 於此次失敗，韓國政府一直保持沉默。政府的官方立場是，目前正在調查失敗原因。韓國教育科學技術部長官安秉萬在羅老號發射升空後舉行的記者發佈會上表示， 火箭發射後第一級和第二級火箭發動機正常運轉，衛星也正常分離，但據分析，衛星未能準確進入目標軌道，安秉萬並未提及責任在哪一方的問題。
如 果調查發現由俄羅斯方面負責研發的第一級火箭在目標高度，即196公里高空正常分離，那麼衛星未能進入目標軌道的責任很有可能在於韓國方面。這是因為專家 推測的偏離軌道的原因有第二級火箭調姿失敗、衛星整流罩未分離等，而這些都由韓國方面負責技術研發。反過來，如果第一級火箭分離時超出了預定高度，衛星偏 離軌道的責任就在俄羅斯方面。如果是這樣，由俄羅斯研發的羅老號第一級火箭是否合適的問題就將遭到質疑。
考 慮到上述各種可能性，韓俄雙方計劃建立聯合委員會，就「羅老號」未能將衛星送入目標軌道的原因展開全面分析。韓國政府還計劃通過太空事故調查委員會展開調 查。責任在何方的問題將經過調查才能查明。另外，不論是技術問題還是溝通問題，一旦查清責任在何方，就必須討論賠償損失和合同履行相關問題。
報導指出，KAIST 人造衛星中心為了從原定的首次通信時間--首爾時間今天凌晨4 時25分開始，與科學技術衛星2 號進行17分鐘的通信，一早就把衛星天線固定在目標軌道上，但由於羅老宇航中心未能提供確切的軌道資訊，因此一直沒能與科學技術衛星2 號進行通信聯絡。
報導說，按照計畫，昨天羅老號載運火箭登空9 分鐘後，將在306公里的高空上，與科學技術衛星2號分離。但是，羅老宇航中心宣佈，在衛星分離前30秒，羅老號就已竄升至360 公里的高空，這枚衛星已脫離了預定的太空軌道。
報導又說，在科學技術衛星2 號的軌道趨於穩定的兩、三天後，或許可以透過NORAD 提供的數據，得到衛星的軌道資訊。
The US budget deficit will soar to almost $1.6 trillion (£978bn) this year, the highest on record, both the White House and Congress have warned.
Fuelled by President Obama's $787bn stimulus package and reduced tax revenues due to the recession, it compares with a $455bn deficit in 2008.
The White House says the deficit will grow further, predicting it will hit a cumulative $9tn from 2010-2019.
However, it continues to expect the US economy to start to recover this year.
The White House expects US unemployment to pass 10% this year, before slowly declining in 2010. The most recent official figures showed the rate at 9.4% in July.
The latest deficit predictions have come from the White House and the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO).
"Overall, it underscores the dire fiscal situation that we inherited, and the need for serious steps to put our nation back on a sustainable fiscal path," the White House's Office of Management and Budget director Peter Orszag said.
Christina Romer, one of the president's economic advisers, said the recession "was simply worse" than first predicted.
She said the White House now estimated that the economy will contract by 2.8% in 2009, more than double when it predicted earlier this year.
It now expects growth of 2% in 2010, down from its previous prediction of 3.2%, but with economic expansion recovering to 3.6% in 2011.
'Out of control'
Republicans said the latest deficit figures were a serious concern.
"The alarm bells on our nation's fiscal condition have now become a siren," said Senate Republican minority leader Mitch McConnell.
"If anyone has any doubts that this burden on future generations is unsustainable, they're gone - spending, borrowing and debt are out of control."
Analysts said the latest deficit figures increased the likelihood of US tax rises once it is confirmed that the country has exited recession.
The CBO said such a move would be required.
"Putting the nation on a sustainable fiscal course will require some combination of lower spending and higher revenues than the amounts now projected," it said.
Ever wonder why we Americans keep fighting all these wars & losing them, Reagan's triumph over Granada notwithstanding? Why does it seem irrelevant whether we win or lose? Might the answer be that war profiteers haul away train loads of cash correlated to body count regardless of the outcome of the war? Might it be that a sizeable sector of our economy is completely dependent on waging off shore wars?
Central & South America are in the crosshairs of the Pentagon & America's war industry. With the economy on its knees & the Iraq war a settled loss & winding down, with Afghanistan stumbling from mess to disaster to mess, the sense that Lockheed-Martin, Raytheon, Northrop-Grumman, Boeing, GE, et. al., are drooling down the necks of war planners at the Pentagon for another war is palpable.
With the surprise announcement on July 15, by right wing President Álvaro Uribe Vélez that the U.S. Government would station American military personnel & equipment in seven Colombian bases, the response was predictable & dark. Openly moving American troops to bases the U.S. military calls Forward Operating Locations (FOLs)*, in Colombia is pure belligerence & a provocation for war & everyone but the main stream American media seems to know it. That Colombia is a corrupted narco-state & the region's most repressive death squad democracy changes nothing whatsoever.
In any case, the agreement raises some grisly questions about immunity which is another way of saying US soldiers, pilots and sailors cannot be prosecuted in Colombian &/or presumably international courts for war crimes. Sound familiar? It is the over riding reason the U.S. refuses to sign on to the legal agreements of the International Criminal Court (ICC). Imagine what would happen if a similar agreement was established for installing Mexican military personnel in Texas.
The former head of Colombia's constitutional court, Jose Gregorio Hernandez, told AFP, "Immunity for United States soldiers is not in any way justified. It violates the principle of equality vis-à-vis our own soldiers. This immunity could become impunity because... a slow and likely unsuccessful diplomatic process would be required (before justice could be applied)."
Yang Qingchuan, in an article for Global Research, writes, “After the U.S. military withdrawal from Panama in 1999, the Pentagon has been expanding the "cooperative security locations" in the region. The U.S. Southern Command also operates some 17 radar sites, mostly in Peru and Colombia. All of the above is in addition to existing U.S. bases in Latin America, including a missile tracking station on Ascension Island in the Caribbean, and Soto Cano in Palmerola, Honduras. Furthermore, the United States has small military presences and property in Antigua, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, and on AndrosIsland in the Bahamas.”
Don't make the mistake of forgetting that these numbers are totally unreliable. With somewhere around 45% of defense budget numbers black & virtually 100% of CIA & NSA funds black, there is no chance of getting an accurate picture of what the U.S. Government is up to around the world with all these military facilities & assorted bases & "cooperative security locations.” (See the asterisk note below.)
President of Venezuela, Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías, warned that all these bases pose a threat to the region. "I'm fulfilling my moral obligation to warn you that the winds of war are beginning to blow," concluding that the situation could end tragically. At the Quito summit of the Union of South American Nations, President Chavez, with the strong support of Ecuador & Bolivia, warned that Colombian soldiers had been placed under the command of U.S military forces. Under laws mandated by the Organization of American States (OAS), the world's oldest regional organization, that decision should be understood as aggression & clearly illegal. It should be noted that prior to being elected in 1998, Hugo Chavez attempted his own coup d'état. He knows what he's talking about.
Significantly, Venezuela recently purchased 24 Russian and Chinese-developed Su-30MK2s, a modern fighter considered to have superior performance over the 1980's US F/A-18.
Monsenior Juan Cordoba, secretary of the conference of Catholic bishops in Colombia told Caracol Television, "This was a bit abrupt and we felt invaded, we felt like we were surrounded by 'gringos.'"
Ecuador is under no illusions about U.S & Colombian intentions & earlier reinforced its northern border with Colombia by moving 1200 soldiers to support some 10,500 soldiers & police personnel already stationed in Esmeraldas Province according to Ecuavisa Television. Ecuador has positioned 24 Brazilian Super Tucano combat aircraft & two frigates to support its troops. This is in part a result of an incursion in March, 2008, by Colombian forces in conjunction with U.S. intelligence & paramilitaries into Ecuadorean territory during which Raul Reyes, a prominent senior leader of the leftist guerilla group Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), was killed. Following the attack, Ecuador cut ties with Colombia. In a disputed Agence France Presse Report, Colombian soldiers claimed they recovered computer hard drives & flash drives with data linking Chavez to both the leftist guerrillas & drug trafficking.
Ecuadoran President Rafael Vicente Correa Delgado, a close Chavez ally, is openly critical of Colombia's motives, stating that US forces would use the Colombian bases for military purposes. Quito has struggled over the years to contain violence along its border with Colombia made unstable & dangerous by insurgent groups, foreign paramilitaries and drug traffickers. The situation there worsens by the day.
In Quito, on August 10, Presidents & heads of State of South American countries at the summit of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), signed the Quito Declaration. Referring to José Manuel Zelaya Rosales, in part, the document reads "We will not recognize, in any way, the alteration of institutional, democratic order," & condemns the coup d'état in Honduras by demanding the immediate restitution of the constitutionally elected president of that country. Roberto Micheletti Bain, the coup leader, has already told Venezuela's envoys to leave, but they have refused, the essence of their position being that Micheletti & his military backers with the support of the CEAL, the Latin American version of the Chamber of Commerce have no authority to expel them. They are all too familiar with how these things go & are no doubt keenly aware that Roberto Micheletti's current security adviser, Billy Joya, was a member of one of those bloody Reagan-era death squads. This coup, just as it was during the Reagan & assorted Bush administrations, was about servicing the interests of the business class & the wealthy elite such as the Kafis, the Canahuatis, the Facusses, the Naars, the Vasquez Velasquez families.
In response to universal rejection of the Honduran coup by OAS members (Canadian Foreign Minister for the Americas Peter Kent was the only person in the room to vocally oppose the plan for Zelaya to return to Honduras immediately), Secretary of State Hillary Clinton supported their response & stated the U.S. Government did not recognize Micheletti's government.
On Tuesday, August 18, she made another statement regarding the Colombian bases in which she:
defended an imminent agreement that will give the United States access to military bases in Colombia, amid regional concerns about US intentions. Clinton and visiting Colombian Foreign Minister Jaime Bermudez said the two countries expected to sign a defense cooperation agreement soon that will boost their longstanding military ties. "I want to be clear about what this agreement does and does not. First: the agreement does not create US bases in Colombia, it does provide US access to Colombian bases," Clinton said after a meeting with Bermudez. "This agreement does not pertain to other countries. This is about the bilateral cooperation between the United States and Colombia regarding security matters within Colombia.” Leftist leaders in Venezuela and Ecuador, which border Colombia, have loudly denounced the agreement as a ruse to establish bases that threaten their governments. The US plans also have raised concerns among more moderate Latin American leaders. Clinton said the US and Colombian governments hope to sign the agreement "in the near future. It will allow us to continue working together to meet the challenges posed by narco-traffickers, terrorists, and other illegal armed groups in Colombia," she said, adding, "These threats are real."
Obama's position can be found in similarly bizarre comments like the United States has "no intent in establishing a U.S. military base in Colombia." Just what “base” means to these guys is anybody's guess. In the face of obvious, copious & very available facts & information to the contrary, Cheneyesque comments like that are enough to make your skin crawl all the way to Pittsburg. What is all too clear is that the Obama administration has decided to increase U.S. military activities in the area.
The situation is not altogether hopeless as pressure mounts both within & outside the U.S., as can be seen in this statement by Professor of Anthropology, at American University, Adrienne Pine, “The US, if it wanted to, could end this de facto government, this murderous coup government in a day. And that's not intervention; that's merely complying with its own laws. And, instead, what the Secretary of State has done has been talking as if she recognized this as a coup, but in fact supporting the coup government by refusing to take the actions required by law of the United States.”
Obama was elected in part because he promised fundamental change in American foreign policy. He made a similar pledge regarding health care. In both cases corporate interests & their hired hacks have derailed Obama's political goals. More importantly, these goals have the preponderant support of the American people.
Referring to the US presence in Latin America, Bolivian President, Juan Evo Morales Ayma, said that members of the United States Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM), located in Miami, Florida, one of the Department of Defense's ten Unified Combatant Commands (COCOMs) under the command of Air Force General Douglas M. Fraser, had taken part in the coup d'état in Honduras last June 28. Morales appealed to the Union of South American Nations stating that they were obligated to protect not only the Colombian people, but all Latin American states from similar events.
President Chavez wasted no time weighing in & revealed that Honduran President Manuel Zelaya had told him that the military who kidnapped him at his government house the night of June 28 transferred him by plane to a U.S. military base in the locality of Palmerola, in Honduran territory.
"Zelaya told me so. They put Zelaya in the plane and landed at Palmerola with the president a prisoner and the Yankee officials appeared and knew that the president was there, they had a discussion with the Honduran officials. Then the Yankee military took the decision there to send him to Costa Rica. That is a very serious matter, the president of Honduras was in a Yankee military base,” said President Chavez.
Chavez said that in this respect “the Yankees overthrew Zelaya and Obama doesn't understand. " He needs to study a little more, he's a young man.” At the same time he recalled that “from the Yankee base, which is at a place called Palmerola, they carried out all of the operations and the dirty war and the terrorism against Sandinista Nicaragua, against El Salvador; it wasn't long ago that the Yankees turned Honduras into a platform to attack its neighbors.”
He reiterated that the people demand the cessation of U.S. interventionism in the region. “What we are asking is that he withdraw the Palmerola base, that he withdraw the Guantanamo base where they torture. Obama, wake up!”
President Zelaya confirmed this in a statement on Democracy Now:
“They attacked my house at 5:30 in the morning. A group of at least 200 to 250 armed soldiers with hoods and bulletproof vests and rifles aimed their guns at me, fired shots, used machine guns, kicked down the doors, and just as I was, in pajamas, they put me on a plane and flew me to Costa Rica.”
On this program Lanny Davis, a friend & former supporter of Hillary Clinton & now on the payroll of CEAL, attempted to establish the coup as a legal event of some kind mandated by dubious circumstances. Davis is the American face of corrupt Washington interests involved in the coup. His cohorts have considerable influence witnessed by the fact that the Honduran ambassador has not been recalled, no Honduran assets have been seized, no visas have been revoked, no sanctions have been established, all aid remains in place, & no bases have been closed. The obvious reason for this is that 70% of Honduran exports made possible by cheap labor go to the United States. Despite official statements to the contrary, U.S. government involvement in & support for the coup is all too obvious.
A recent statement by the president of the Human Rights Committee of Honduras (CODEH), Andres Pavon, made it clear the people of Honduras were determined to restore a legal government, "We are going to the International Criminal Court."
Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva added, "As the Brazilian President, I am upset about the atmosphere of uncertainty the region is living today."
At the Quito summit, Argentinean President Cristina Elizabeth Fernández de Kirchner expressed her concern about the region's ominous drift toward war & particularly so in the face of Álvaro Uribe's conspicuous absence. She called Uribe's deal with the Pentagon “belligerent.”
It prompted Uruguayan President Tabaré Ramón Vázquez Rosas to propose banning foreign military bases in the region and Brazilian President Silva also expressed concern & support.
In response to even earlier U.S. military aggression, Rep. Barbara Lee and ten other members of Congress attempted to put legislation in place calling for an investigation of the Bush Administration's role in the 2004 coup d'état of Haiti. The original bill, known as the TRUTH Act, has been referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs at every session since Lee first made the case for a congressional investigation in March of 2004:
"We do not teach people to overthrow our US government, and the Bush Administration must not participate in the overthrow of other democratically-elected governments. The United States must stand firm in its support of democracy and not allow a nascent democracy like Haiti to fall victim to the Bush Administration's apparent policy of regime change."
Rep. Barbara Lee's comments are no less important for the current administration to take to heart.
Although the disintegrating relationship with Ecuador, Micheletti's U.S. backed coup in Honduras, the military buildup in Colombia & the increasingly intense U.S hostility toward Venezuela can be seen as simply the latest stage in American military & covert aggression in Central & South America, it would be a reckless mistake for American citizens to understand these cookie cutter coups & their related events as anything other than the Pentagon & war profiteers putting in place the pretexts for America's next invasion cum all out war.
As seductive & entertaining as the nation's bizarre shouting match with Republican fence posts over such vital issues as healthcare might be, members of the far right from both parties are up to their ears in actions that could easily & more than likely will lead to another blood bath.
* Note:In case it is unclear what a FOL is, an anonymous Pentagon source told a Miami Herald reporter that FOLs are "expandable warm facilities maintained with a limited U.S. military support presence and possibly prepositioned equipment," such as the Incirlik Airbase in Turkey and the Soto Cano Airbase in Honduras. Some call the FOLs clandestine bases with no documented officially recognized status. A glimpse of what might be in store for Colombia is Afghanistan, where roughly half of the soldiers fighting for the U.S. Government are mercenaries under contract.
Other types of foreign military bases are "Main operating bases," which have permanent personnel, strong infrastructure, and often family housing, such as the Kadena Airbase in Japan and the Ramstein Airbase in Germany. Another type is "cooperative security locations," which are sites with few or no permanent U.S. personnel, maintained by contractors, or mercenaries & made available by the host nation for occasional use by the U.S. military.
Bear in mind that according to the Defense Department's (DOD) annual "Base Structure Report" for fiscal year 2008, the Pentagon currently owns or rents 761 overseas bases in roughly 130 countries which includes 322,000 hectares of land with an inventory of weapons worth trillions of U.S. dollars. Others suggest there are at least 900 U.S. military facilities in 46 countries and territories, accommodating 190,000 U.S. troops and 115,000 civilian employees, all taken from “official” government figures. None of the above includes what the DOD calls “other sites,” nor does it include the numerous unclassified, or “black,” sites & temporary sites operated by the U.S. Government. In Central & South America, the DOD admits to 46 active bases in Colombia with 8 “other” sites. In Ecuador the U.S. has 27 active bases & 0 “other.” In Peru, the Navy maintains an active Naval Medical Research Center in Lima. It might be interesting to tour that place.
We are now the most lethal military empire in history. As before, now & always it is a one way road to unimaginable horror & violence.
Sources & a bit more information:
Lost History by Robert Perry
Secrecy & Privilege. By Robert Perry
Spies for Hire: The Secret World of Intelligence Outsourcing by Tim Shorrock,
"The Power to Construct International Security: On the Significance of Private Military Companies," by Anna Lleander, Millennium - Journal of International Studies
“Obama Latin America speech in Miami,” By Lynn Sweet
Joint Task Force Bravo, Southcom
Latin America: Social Movements in Times of Economic Crises by Prof. James Petras
Base Structure Report, the Pentagon for fiscal year 2008
Latin America: Social Movements in Times of Economic Crises by Prof. James Petras
Base Structure Report, the Pentagon for fiscal year 2008
Latin America: Social Movements in Times of Economic Crises by Prof. James Petras
Base Structure Report, the Pentagon for fiscal year 2008
Latin America: Social Movements in Times of Economic Crises by Prof. James Petras
Base Structure Report, the Pentagon for fiscal year 2008by Dick Overfield