Thursday, June 11, 2009

Fear is eroding American rights

By Paul Craig Roberts

The power of irrational fear in the US is extraordinary. It ranks up there with the Israel Lobby, the military/security complex, and the financial gangsters. Indeed, fear might be the most powerful force in America.

Americans are at ease with their country’s aggression against Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan, which has resulted in a million dead Muslim civilians and several million refugees, because the US government has filled Americans with fear of terrorists. “We have to kill them over there before they come over here.”

Fearful of American citizens, the US government is building concentration camps apparently all over the country. According to news reports, a $385 million US government contract was given by the Bush/Cheney Regime to Cheney’s company, Halliburton, to build “detention centers” in the US. The corporate media never explained for whom the detention centers are intended.

Most Americans dismiss such reports. “It can’t happen here.” However, in northwestern Florida, not far from Tallahassee, I have seen what might be one of these camps. There is a building inside a huge open area fenced with razor wire. There is no one there and no signs. The facility appears new and unused and does not look like an abandoned prisoner work camp.

What is it for?

Who spent all that money for what?

There are Americans who are so terrified of their lives being taken by terrorists that they are hoping the US government will use nuclear weapons to destroy “the Muslim enemy.” The justifications concocted for the use of nuclear bombs against Japanese civilian populations have had their effect. There are millions of Americans who wish “their” government would kill everyone that “their” government has demonized.

When I tell these people that they will die of old age without ever seeing a terrorist, they think I am insane. Don’t I know that terrorists are everywhere in America? That’s why we have airport security and homeland security. That’s why the government is justified in breaking the law to spy on citizens without warrants. That’s why the government is justified to torture people in violation of US law and the Geneva Conventions. If we don’t torture them, American cities will go up in mushroom clouds. Dick Cheney tells us this every week.

Terrorists are everywhere. “They hate us for our freedom and democracy.” When I tell America’s alarmed citizens that the US has as many stolen elections as any country and that our civil liberties have been eroded by “the war on terror,” they lump me into the terrorist category. They automatically conflate factual truth with anti-Americanism.

The same mentality prevails with regard to domestic crime. Most Americans, including, unfortunately, juries, assume that if the police make a case against a person and a prosecutor prosecutes it, the defendant is guilty. Most Americans are incapable of believing that police or a prosecutor would frame an innocent person for career or bureaucratic reasons or out of pure meanness.

Yet, it happens all the time. Indeed, it is routine.

Frame-ups are so routine that 96 percent of the criminally accused will not risk a “jury of their peers,” preferring to negotiate a plea bargain agreement with the prosecutor. The jury of their peers are a brainwashed lot, fearful of crime, which they have never experienced but hear about all the time. Criminals are everywhere, doing their evil deeds.

The US has a much higher percentage of its population in prison than “authoritarian” countries, such as China, a one-party state. An intelligent population might wonder how a “freedom and democracy” country could have incarceration rates far higher than a dictatorship, but Americans fail this test. The more people that are put in prison, the safer Americans feel.

Lawrence Stratton and I describe frame-up techniques in The Tyranny of Good Intentions. Police and prosecutors even frame the guilty, as it is easier than convicting them on the evidence.

One case that has been before us for years, but is resolutely neglected by the corporate media, whose function is to scare the people, is that of Troy Davis.

Troy Davis was convicted of killing a police officer. The only evidence connecting him to the crime is the testimony of “witnesses,” the vast majority of whom have withdrawn their testimony. The witnesses say they testified falsely against Troy Davis because of police intimidation and coercion.

One would think that this would lead to a new hearing and trial. But not in America. The Republican judicial Nazis have created the concept of finality.” Even if the evidence shows that a wrongfully convicted person is innocent, finality requires that we execute him. If the convicted person is executed, we can assume he was guilty, because America has a pure justice system and never punishes the innocent. Everyone in prison and everyone executed is guilty. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be in prison or executed.

It is all very simple if you are an American. America is pure, but other countries, except for our allies, are barbaric.

The same goes for our wars. Everyone we kill, whether they are passengers on Serbian commuter trains or attending weddings, funerals, or children playing soccer in Iraq, is a terrorist, or we would not have killed them. So was the little girl who was raped by our terrorist-fighting troops and then murdered, brutally, along with her family.

America only kills terrorists. If we kill you, you are a terrorist.

Americans are the salt of the earth. They never do any wrong. Only those other people do. Not the Israelis, of course.

And police, prosecutors, and juries never make mistakes. Everyone accused is guilty.

Fear has made every American a suspect, eroded our rights, and compromised our humanity.

Obama May Allow Even More Arms Exports Than Bush

"Coalition Building" to Lead to Yet More Sales

Experts and military contractors say that the Obama Administration’s quest to build more and more coalitions across the world is going to mean boom times for the arms export industry, even as the world’s economy faces a crippling recession.

A Boeing executive predicted that the Obama Administration would allow exports of even more advanced US weaponry than his predecessor George W. Bush did. “I think that all bodes well for our allies and the discussions that would take place on things they’d like to have,” the official said.

Despite the struggling world economy, many nations have an eye toward modernizing their militaries, and with the Obama Administration shifting its military budgets out of some of the more expensive projects, US contractors are looking for ways to pad their bottom lines.

The United States is by far the world’s larger exporter of weapons, and that trend looks to continue under President Obama. It has, however, normally restricted the sales of its most advanced technology to a select few nations. If this changes, the lead could become even more pronounced.

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Top 10 Airline Safety Questions

  1. Where is the safest place to sit on an airplane?
    The short answer is there is no safest seat. In an aircraft accident where the plane is seriously damaged or one or more occupants are injured or killed, the severity of the injuries depends on many factors, some of which may not be apparent until an accident occurs. For example, there have been many accidents involving heavy smoke or fire where survival depended on the ability of the passengers to not panic and to quickly remove themselves and others from the aircraft after landing.
  2. Which is the safest airline to fly?
    Clearly there are some major airlines such as Southwest of the USA which have not had a passenger die in an accident and others such as United Airlines and Korean Air which have had several fatal events. Those facts don't make one airline automatically safer than the other although it does affect the public's perception of safety. The most important indicator of the overall safety of an airline is how it is regulated by its nation's civil aviation authority. Airlines operating large capacity passenger aircraft in the major industrialized countries have to follow the strictest safety regulations. While the airlines operating smaller capacity aircraft have the choice of operating under the same rules, these smaller aircraft are not certified to the same standards as larger ones. Just as importantly, the airports and air traffic control system have to adhere to similarly high standards. Beyond that, use your good common sense. If an airline is notorious for poor on time performance, lots of passenger complaints, and severe financial problems, then perhaps it is time to find an alternative airline.
  3. Which aircraft model is the safest?
    In general, all aircraft in a particular class have to adhere to the same set of standards. When safety concerns arise because of one or more accidents associated with a particular model, the civil aviation authorities of the major industrialized countries will usually require that the issue be addressed in all relevant aircraft models. For example, fatal airline accidents due to wind shear in the 1970s and 1980s in the U.S. led to a number of innovations in aircraft and ground wind shear detection systems and also in flight crew training which has led to a reduction in the risk of accidents due to that weather phenomena.
    Passenger fatalities by aircraft model
  4. What kind of emergency am I most likely to face?
    For every accident, there are dozens, even hundreds of unusual circumstances that can happen during a flight. For a passenger, the most likely emergencies that you will face where you will have to do something is an evacuation of the aircraft using the emergency slides or using the emergency oxygen system. In most cases, the evacuation is ordered as a precautionary measure, not because the passengers face imminent danger. Emergency oxygen masks may be deployed automatically or be deployed manually by the flight crew. In most cases, deployment of the masks does not indicate that the passengers are in imminent danger.
  5. How should I prepare to face these two situations?
    In the case of evacuation by the emergency slides, the best preparation is to be familiar with the location of the exits, be ready to follow the commands of the flight and cabin crew, and to wear slide friendly clothes. Specifically, high heeled shoes may cause the slide to rip, so if you have them on, take them off before leaving your seat. In the case of deployment of emergency oxygen, your first priority is to put on your own mask. If the cabin is depressurized, you face the risk of loss of consciousness. Putting on your mask first decreases the risk of your passing out before having the opportunity to help your children or other passengers with their oxygen masks.
    General travel safety tips
  6. If the plane crashes, don't most people die?
    One can argue this question several ways. Based on a review of accidents between 1978 and 1995 with at least one fatality to a passenger, there were a total of 164 fatal accidents involving large jet transports designed in western Europe or the U.S. In 68 cases, all passengers died and in 15 others between 90% and 100% of the passengers died. In 37 cases less than 10% of the passengers died. Among propeller driven aircraft, there were 178 events involving aircraft designed outside of the former Soviet Union and eastern Europe. Of those, all were killed in 108 cases, between 90% and 100% in six cases, and less than 10% in nine cases.
  7. Who decides on what changes are made for safety?
    In general, the civil aviation authorities of several key countries, primarily the United States, the United Kingdom, and France, take the lead on making changes in areas such aircraft design, aircraft operation, and pilot training. Other major industrial nations have civil aviation authorities that have regulations and requirements similar to the leading countries. In the rest of the world, the International Civil Aviation Organization plays a similar influential role.
  8. Who investigates airline accidents?
    In most cases, formal airline accident investigations are the responsibility of either the nation where the accident occurred or by the nation where the aircraft was registered. Depending on the accident, any number of organizations have a major role in the investigation. Typically in the United States, an accident in U.S. territory involving a U.S. registered aircraft would have the following groups directly involved in the accident investigation and analysis: the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, the airline operating the accident aircraft, the aircraft manufacturer, and the engine manufacturer. If the accident involved sabotage or hijacking, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation would also be involved.
  9. Is flying getting safer or less safe today compared with 10 or 20 years ago?
    In the last fifteen years or so, the fatal accident rate for passenger aircraft has not significantly changed. What has changed is the number of flights performed around the world, more than doubling during that same time. If one measures safety by the accident rate, things have not changed much. If one measures safety by the number of accidents, media coverage, and public concern, then flying may seem either more or less safe depending on how much attention is paid by the world media. For example, over a period of about seven weeks in August and September 2005, there were a total of eight events that resulted either in significant numbers of fatalities or were spectacular events that involved no fatalities but that generated intense worldwide media attention. Overall, 2005 had an average number of fatal events, but during those two months there were a heightened awareness of safety on the part of the general public.
  10. How often do airliners crash?
    If one considers a crash to be any accident that leads to a passenger fatality to be a crash, then these events happen infrequently. Even if one were to include deliberate events such as passenger fatalities by hijacking or sabotage, such events are still rare. Looking at fatal event data analyzed by since 1996, There have been at least eight fatal events (2003) and as many as 19 fatal events (1997). In some parts of the world, fatal events are even more rare. For example, from November 2001 to October 2005, no passenger had been killed as a result of an accident, hijacking, or act of sabotage on any U.S. or Canadian jet airliner, or in any jet airliner operating in U.S. or Canadian airspace. While fatal events can happen in any part of the world, the rate of fatal events is higher with airlines from developing countries. For example, while the U.S., Canada, and western Europe account for over two thirds of all airline traffic, from 2000 to 2005 only one quarter of all fatal events occurred in those countries or involved airlines based in those countries. This takes into account hijackings and sabotage events such as the four fatal events on 11 September 2001.

Gold ends unchanged on surging crude, stronger dollar

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- Gold futures ended Wednesday's trading unchanged as surging oil prices raised the metal's appeal as an inflation hedge but a stronger dollar reduced the metal's investment attractiveness.

Oil prices rose as government data showed a decline in inventories and a pick-up in gasoline demand. The dollar rose against most of its major rivals after April U.S. trade data came largely in line with expectations.

On the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, gold for August delivery ended at $954.70 an ounce. It rose to $966.70 earlier but also fell to $947.50. Trading less actively, the June contract also closed unchanged at $954.

"Short-term we still view the market as overbought," said James Moore, an analyst at Gold has gained more than 9% this year.

After floor trading closed, gold fell slightly in electronic trading after the Federal Reserve's Beige Book showed five of the Fed's 12 district banks reported that the downward trend in the economy is showing signs of moderating.

Gold for August delivery lost $3.60, or 0.4%, to $950.80 an ounce.

Gold was rising earlier in the session as surging oil prices raised the metal's appeal as a hedge against inflation.

Crude futures rallied nearly 2% Wednesday to above $71 a barrel, after ending above $70 in the previous session for the first time in more than seven months.

U.S. crude inventories fell last week as gasoline demand picked up, the Energy Information Administration reported Wednesday.




























Glen Beck says 9/11 Truthers want to "destroy the country" and they will work with anyone. There are also people like white supremacists or 9/11 truth

Check this ...... u may like it.

Fox News Shep Smith has SPLC on his show-connects dots to DHS report 'the right went bonkers over'

Check this again .....


Check it out ........

Fed lost $5.3B on Bear Stearns, AIG holdings in 1Q

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Federal Reserve lost $5.25 billion in the first quarter on the securities it acquired with last year's bailouts of Bear Stearns and insurer American International Group Inc., according to a report issued Wednesday.

The loss on the holdings, which include mortgage-backed securities, reflected a decline in their value as the recession stretched into the first three months of this year. The cumulative loss on the Bear and AIG holdings comes to $16.46 billion since they were taken over last year. Of that total, a loss of $9.18 billion went to the New York Fed.

The Fed is hoping that if it holds onto the securities long enough, they will eventually rise in value once the economy returns to full health again, the housing market heals and the financial and credit crises are past.

The Fed's new report, which will be issued monthly, comes as lawmakers have demanded more information about the bailouts, and a slew of other programs intended to spur lending and stabilize the banking system. Critics worry the Fed's actions have put billions of taxpayers' dollars at risk.

The monthly report provides some details beyond the Fed's weekly snapshot of loan and debt-buying programs on its balance sheet. Those details include collateral pledged by borrowers, ratings on collateral, and the number of borrowers for some programs.

However, the Fed did not budge on lawmakers' requests that it identify borrowers for emergency and other loans. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke has repeatedly argued that doing so would risk a run on a bank or other financial institution, undermining the purpose of the program.

As lender of last resort, the Fed's programs are intended to bolster the financial system, a key ingredient to lifting the country out of recession.

Democratic Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd which has pushed the Fed to be more open, welcomed the new monthly report. Dodd called it "an important step in our ongoing efforts to bring greater transparency to the Fed's efforts to stabilize the economy."

But Sen. Bernie Sanders blasted the new report as "completely insufficient," and said "it is time for the Fed to name names."

The monthly report showed that the Fed's commercial paper program reported net income of $2.14 billion in the first quarter. Commercial paper is the crucial short-term debt that companies use to pay everyday expenses. The Fed began buying commercial paper last year when that market virtually came to a halt after credit problems intensified last fall.

It also reported net earnings of $1.2 billion in the first quarter on other loan programs, including emergency borrowing to banks and investment firms. The Fed reported $4.57 billion in earnings under its regular transactions involving Treasury securities.

The report also said that 378 banks are putting up collateral well in excess of the amount of loans being drawn. It said that borrowing banks have put up $965 billion in collateral to back emergency and other Fed loans that averaged $448 billion in daily borrowing as of late May.

As of late May, the report said that trusts affiliated with Sallie Mae, GE Capital Credit, CarMax, Ford Credit, Harley-Davidson Motorcycle, Honda and Nissan were among the issuers of securities participating in a Fed program intended to spark lending to consumers and small businesses. Investors in the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility, or TALF, get loans from the Fed to buy newly issued securities backed by, among other things, auto and student loans, credit cards and business equipment.

Jim Rogers: “The Worst is Not Over” 6/9/2009

Check this out you might need it.

The Next Big Taxpayer Bailout? IMF Could Get Hundreds of Billions for European Banks

The bailout of private banks and financial institutions has become a touchy political issue in the United States, ever since President Bush’s Treasury Secretary and former Goldman Sachs CEO Hank Paulson asked Congress for a $700 billion dollar blank check last September.

Now the Obama administration is asking the Congress for $108 billion for the International Monetary Fund. This was in accordance with a plan that the administration has helped organize to raise $500 billion in additional funds for the IMF. This would add to the approximately $200 billion that the IMF has on hand, $100 billion in gold reserves, and another $250 billion that the Fund will create in its own currency. These are enormous sums of money that the IMF has never come close to before.

What is all this money for? There is an answer staring us in the face from the financial press: European banks.

It seems that Europe’s banks have gotten into a mess in their own neighborhood that is comparable to the “troubled assets” that our financial institutions accumulated in the course of the housing bubble – which they also shared. These banks had a fit of irrational exuberance in Central and Eastern Europe in recent years, with the result that they now have at least $1.4 trillion – and that is a conservative estimate – in exposure there to loans that are certain to have a very high default rate.

Most of the Central and Eastern European economies are in free fall right now. To make matters much worse, much of their borrowing from European banks was in foreign currency. This extended even to households: e.g. over 60% of Hungary’s mortgages are in foreign currency. When these currencies fall, as some already have, many of the borrowers – both businesses and households – are faced with unpayable debt burdens. Others, such as Latvia, are teetering on the brink of devaluation, which could set off a chain reaction in other countries, as well as mass insolvencies.

The exposure of European banks to the region is astoundingly large relative to their economies. Austria is off the charts with about 64 percent of GDP lent in Eastern Europe; Belgium and Sweden both have more than 20 percent, and Switzerland and the Netherlands are in double digits.

This is where the IMF comes in. In the United States, we have not only the $700 billion TARP bailout, but more than three times that amount, which has been dispensed by the Federal Reserve. The Fed has been used because it is non-transparent and unaccountable to Congress – unlike for the TARP, where Congress attached some rules for accountability, the taxpayers do not even know who has received the more than $2 trillion on the Fed’s balance sheet.

For various reasons, the European Central Bank is not going to play the role that the Fed has played here. (The Fed itself has recently been hit by strong demands for more transparency, with 186 Members of Congress sponsoring a bill that would require it to be audited by the Government Accountability Office). The European banks are therefore counting on the IMF to help save them from the costs of their bad decisions.

The Obama administration has argued that the money is necessary to help provide a global stimulus, and to help poor people in poor countries. But the facts do not support this claim. Almost all of the agreements that the IMF has concluded since the global economic crisis began have included the opposite of stimulus programs: for example spending cuts or interest rate increases. The amount of money that will help poor countries is tiny. And it is difficult to see why the IMF would need hundreds of billions of dollars to help governments with balance of payments support: for sixteen Standby Arrangements negotiated since the crisis intensified last year, the total has been less than $46 billion.

On the other hand, European banks are facing potential losses in the hundreds of billions of dollars. Some, like France’s Societe Generale, have already gotten billions of dollars from the TARP bailout. If the purpose of adding these vast sums to the IMF’s coffers is to bail out these banks, then the taxpayers of the United States (and other countries who are being asked to contribute) ought to know about it.

By Mark Weisbrot

Russia plans to reduce U.S. Treasury holdings in its reserves

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- The Bank of Russia intends to cut the proportion of U.S. Treasurys in its foreign exchange reserves, a central bank official said Wednesday, according to media reports.

Alexei Ulyukayev, first deputy chairman of Russia's central bank, said Wednesday the bank plans to reduce the amount of Treasurys it holds in reserves, the Interfax news agency and other media outlets reported.

Ulyukayev also said that Russia would switch some of its reserves into bonds issued by the International Monetary Fund, according to the reports. As of May 29, Russia's international reserves stood at $401.1 billion, the third biggest in the world.

"The idea is basically sound. It all depends on the mix and timing," said James Fenkner, principal and portfolio manager of Red Star Asset Management, a hedge fund that invests primarily in Russian assets.

Russia exports commodities denominated in U.S. dollars, while its imports, such as machinery and luxury goods, are primarily denominated in euros.

The "reserve mix should represent economic interests," Fenkner said. "Of course, the Russians are also well aware of U.S. fiscal and monetary weakness and, like the Chinese a few weeks ago, don't want to hold a potentially depreciating asset."

China, which has the world's biggest foreign exchange reserves, held $767.9 billion of Treasury securities at the end of March, making it the world's largest holder of U.S. government debt, according to the Treasury Department's Web site.

It is followed by Japan, which holds $686.7 billion, while Russia is number fifth with $138.4 billion.

Russia, China to invest in IMF bonds

In late May, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the IMF's managing director, said in a statement that Russia intends to invest up to $10 billion in the first-ever notes to be issued by the fund.

On Tuesday, Strauss-Kahn said in a separate statement that China plans to invest up to $50 billion in IMF notes, thereby helping other fund members weather the global crisis.

"The new notes will offer members a safe investment instrument with reasonable return," Strauss-Kahn said.

Paul Biszko, senior emerging markets analyst at RBC Capital Markets, said that Russia's statement Wednesday is similar to comments made in the past.

"This is very preliminary, and I'm not sure it would be market-moving given the size of it," Biszko said. "It's not a material amount -- we're talking about $10 billion relative to the size of the Treasury market. The motivation would be to diversify away from the dollar."

The IMF bonds, which haven't been issued yet, would most likely be denominated in the so-called Special Drawing Rights (SDRs), so in a basket of currencies.

"I don't think it's new news," Biszko said. "We've heard [similar] comments from many countries over the last several years. Maybe we've had a bit more frequency in recent months. It's a lot of talk and we're unlikely to see any significant action in the short term."

Biszko said that some more clarity on the issue may come next week, when Russia will host the first summit of the leaders of the so-called BRIC group of major emerging markets, which includes Brazil, Russia, India and China.

By Polya Lesova

US Stocks Slip Lower After Short Rally Stalls

A renewed push by blue-chip U.S. stocks toward positive territory for the year stalled Wednesday as gains in raw-materials names failed to spill into other sectors.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average has climbed past its 2008 close during four of this month's trading sessions, but it failed to finish above the mark each time. In Wednesday's action so far, it has been stuck in a narrow range, again moving on either side of the psychologically important level.

The average was recently off 13 points, or 0.1%, at 8750.36. At its intraday high, it was up almost 60 points year-to-date.

Among the Dow's components on Wednesday, gains for Alcoa, Chevron and Exxon Mobil were offset by losses for Caterpillar, McDonald's and Wal-Mart.

Other U.S. indexes fared worse than the Dow in percentage terms. The Russell 2000 was off 1.5%, while the S&P 500 was down 0.3% and the Nasdaq Composite Index was off 0.9%.

The prices of aluminum, copper, grains, and other commodities were up in recent action, extending a recent bull run that has raised concerns of inflation among some investors. Oil futures were up $1.28 to $71.29 a barrel in New York following the release of government data showing a bigger drawdown in U.S. stockpiles of crude last week than analysts expected.

For stocks, the Dow's annual break-even level of 8776.39 won't likely stand much longer, especially in light of the market's momentum since early spring and the year-to-date gains that other indexes have already managed to post, said technical analyst Phil Roth, of Miller Tabak & Co.

His current target range for the blue-chip average is 9000 to 9100. But even if the market reaches those levels, which would represent a gain of up to 39% from the Dow's March lows, Roth would still not consider the long-running bear market to be over.

"We still won't really know for sure until we go through another corrective phase," he said. "We have to see what that will look like in this market to get confirmation," that there are enough investors out there with strong conviction that an economic rebound is coming.

Treasurys were mixed in recent action ahead of an auction of $19 billion of notes. Worry about rising supply of government debt has contributed to the recent jump in bond yields, which some fear could choke a recovery if it leads to higher consumer interest rates. The yield on 10-year Treasury note climbed to 3.90%

Traders will look to the Federal Reserve's beige book report, due at 2 p.m., for further evidence that the economy is on the mend. "It will be interesting to see if the anecdotal evidence from this Beige Book corroborates the message from other indicators that the rate of decline in the economy has slowed further," said RDQ Economics analysts in a note to clients.

In overseas action, the Nikkei 225 rose 2.1% in Tokyo to end at its highest level since Oct. 7. The FTSE 100 was up 1.2%.

The dollar strengthened against major rivals. One euro cost $1.40, down from $1.4079 late Tuesday. One dollar fetched 98.05 Japanese yen, up from 97.37 yen.

By Peter A. McKay