Thursday, July 2, 2009

The co-conspirators of Bernard Madoff

Financier Bernard Madoff was sentenced Monday to 150 years in prison for operating one of the biggest fraud schemes in history. Federal District Judge Denny Chin acknowledged that giving such a sentence to a 71-year-old man was purely symbolic, but declared, “The message must be sent that Mr. Madoff’s crimes were extraordinarily evil.”

While acknowledging that Madoff’s decision to plead guilty and cooperate with investigators seeking to unravel his schemes would ordinarily count in his favor, Chin underscored the political reasons for imposing the maximum sentence possible under the law. Madoff’s fraud had left his victims “doubting our financial institutions” as well as “our government’s ability to regulate,” he said.

In other words, the 150-year sentence to Madoff is an effort to separate the Ponzi scheme operator from Wall Street counterparts whose financial manipulations were even more destructive. While the damage caused by Madoff’s phony investments has been estimated at $50 billion, the Wall Street Crash of 2008 has wiped out tens of trillions in paper values, and has already cost millions of people their jobs, homes and life savings.

The court system resolved this case with unusual speed, suggesting a desire among all the key actors—prosecutors, the judge, the federal regulatory agencies and Madoff himself—to dispose of the matter with as little disturbance as possible to the broader Wall Street milieu. The Ponzi scheme was exposed in December, Madoff pled guilty to 11 felony counts in March, and the sentencing essentially ends the process, barely more than six months later.

The principal federal regulator of the stock market, the Securities and Exchange Commission, moved even more quickly to bury the case, agreeing to settle its civil suit against Madoff in February without even requiring him to admit or deny the charges against him and avoiding a civil trial that could have aired the facts of the gigantic fraud.

Despite the efforts of the media to demonize Madoff, which reached their peak on Monday night when all three network television news programs began their evening broadcasts with the story of his sentencing, he is only one of dozens of Wall Street figures who deserve to sit in the dock for acts of greed and financial robbery.

It would have been impossible for Madoff to carry out a fraud scheme over some 20 years without an array of financial institutions and highly placed individuals in both Wall Street and Washington who were his enablers.

The Ponzi scheme was brazen and, in retrospect, easily detected. Madoff did not actually put into the financial markets any of the billions invested with him by thousands of individuals, ranging from fellow billionaires, to pension funds, to retirees of modest means and Jewish charities seeking to safeguard their endowments. Every financial statement was fabricated, and Madoff paid dividends to his clients out of the cash coming in from new investors. It was only when the global financial crisis undermined market confidence and caused many investors to seek to withdraw their funds that Madoff’s scheme collapsed.

Madoff was repeatedly referred to the SEC by investors who found his unfailing achievement of a ten percent annual return, regardless of broader market conditions, suspicious. One especially aggressive critic sent a letter to the SEC in 1999 declaring, “Madoff Securities is the world’s largest Ponzi scheme.” The agency made no serious investigation.

In his public statements before the court, Madoff has revealed that rather than actually invest the funds flooding in to his investment firm, he simply placed the money in an account at Chase Manhattan Bank. It is inconceivable that top officers of that bank, now part of JPMorgan Chase, were unaware of the billions flowing in and out of this account.

At least a half dozen big hedge funds and private investors had close relations with Madoff, and seem to have had advance notice of his collapse—the bankruptcy trustee is now suing them for making more than $10 billion in withdrawals in the months before December 2008.

Madoff was a pillar of Wall Street for some three decades. He was chairman of NASDAQ for three years, and on the board of governors of the National Association of Securities Dealers. His investment clients included such figures as Senator Frank Lautenberg, J. Ezra Merkin, chairman of GMAC, and Mortimer Zuckerman, owner of the New York Daily News. He made six-figure donations to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and individual senators like Lautenberg of New Jersey and Charles Schumer of New York.

There has been a concerted effort to portray these establishment figures as victims of Madoff, but they deserve more to be classified as co-conspirators. As the World Socialist Web Site observed at the time of his arrest, “The Madoff fraud is but one expression of the vast looting operation that is at the core of contemporary capitalism.”

What Madoff did was perhaps cruder and more brazen than most, but it is not fundamentally different from what Wall Street as a whole did to working people both in the United States and internationally. As the culmination of a vast redistribution of wealth over the past 30 years from the bottom to the top, American society has been completely subordinated to the class of Madoffs—the financial parasites whose speculation and manic pursuit of personal wealth produced a disaster for working people.

A Washington truism applies equally well to Wall Street: The scandal is not what’s illegal, it’s what’s legal. Madoff’s Ponzi scheme violated even the pathetically lax regulatory regime of American capitalism. There are countless other investment rackets which are not officially illegal, but no less criminal in a class sense, because they put at risk the jobs, living standards and pensions of working people to increase the fortunes of the super-rich.

The response of the American political elite, with President Barack Obama at its head, has been to bail out the very swindlers whose manipulations precipitated the crisis. One Madoff goes to jail, but the class of Madoffs is the recipient of a financial bailout that has pledged virtually unlimited sums from the Treasury and Federal Reserve, resources that are being plundered from the American people.

Patrick Martin

Reporters Grill Gibbs Over Prepackaged Questions for Obama

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UN Backs Drug Decriminalization In World Drug Report

In an about face, the United Nations on Wednesday lavishly praised drug decriminalization in its annual report on the state of global drug policy. In previous years, the UN drug czar had expressed skepticism about Portugal's decriminalization, which removed criminal penalties in 2001 for personal drug possession and emphasized treatment over incarceration. The UN had suggested the policy was in violation of international drug treaties and would encourage "drug tourism."

But in its 2009 World Drug Report, the UN had little but kind words for Portugal's radical (by U.S. standards) approach. "These conditions keep drugs out of the hands of those who would avoid them under a system of full prohibition, while encouraging treatment, rather than incarceration, for users. Among those who would not welcome a summons from a police officer are tourists, and, as a result, Portugal's policy has reportedly not led to an increase in drug tourism," reads the report. "It also appears that a number of drug-related problems have decreased."

In its upbeat appraisal of Portugal's policy, the UN finds itself in agreement with Salon's Glenn Greenwald.

The report, released at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., also puts to rest concerns that decriminalization doesn't comply with international treaties, which prevent countries from legalizing drugs.

U.S. Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske is scheduled to appear at the announcement of the report. (He has said "legalization" is not "in my vocabulary.")

"The International Narcotics Control Board was initially apprehensive when Portugal changed its law in 2001 (see their annual report for that year), but after a mission to Portugal in 2004, it "noted that the acquisition, possession and abuse of drugs had remained prohibited," and said "the practice of exempting small quantities of drugs from criminal prosecution is consistent with the international drug control treaties," reads a footnote to the report.

The UN report also dives head first into the debate over full drug legalization. Last year's World Drug Report ignored the issue entirely, save for a reference to Chinese opium policy in the 19th Century. This year's report begins with a lengthy rebuttal of arguments in favor of legalization. "Why unleash a drug epidemic in the developing world for the sake of libertarian arguments made by a pro-drug lobby that has the luxury of access to drug treatment?" argues the report.

But the UN also makes a significant concession to backers of legalization, who have long argued that it is prohibition policies that lead to violence and the growth of shadowy, underground networks.

"In the Preface to the report," reads the press release accompanying the report, "[UN Office of Drugs and Crime Executive Director Antonio Maria] Costa explores the debate over repealing drug controls. He acknowledges that controls have generated an illicit black market of macro-economic proportions that uses violence and corruption."

Jack Cole, executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) and a retired undercover narcotics detective, objected to the report's classification of current policy as "control."

"The world's 'drug czar,' Antonio Maria Costa, would have you believe that the legalization movement is calling for the abolition of drug control," he said. "Quite the contrary, we are demanding that governments replace the failed policy of prohibition with a system that actually regulates and controls drugs, including their purity and prices, as well as who produces them and who they can be sold to. You can't have effective control under prohibition, as we should have learned from our failed experiment with alcohol in the U.S. between 1920 and 1933."

European rocket hoists biggest-ever telecoms satellite

A European rocket placed the world's biggest commercial telecommunications satellite into geostationary orbit, launch operator Arianespace said.

The 6.9-tonne TerreStar-1, operated by US telecoms services firm TerreStar Networks Inc., was launched by Ariane-5 heavy rocket from the European space base in Kourou, French Guiana, after four delays caused by stormy weather.

It is the 189th launch since the European Space Agency (ESA) introduced Ariane in 1979.

Arianespace chief executive Jean-Yves Le Gall also told reporters the company's first launch from Kourou using a Soyuz rocket would probably take place "in the first week" of 2010.

The firm is to use the Soviet-era workhorse under a commercial arrangement with Russia so that it can launch medium-sized payloads.

The version will be a Soyuz 2, able to take three tonnes into geostationary orbit, compared to 1.7 tonnes that can be launched from Baikonur, the main Russian space base.

Arianespace is also bringing in a new rocket, Vega, for light payloads of up to 1.5 tonnes.

The first launches by these rockets had been pencilled for the end of the year.

The Soyuz project has been delayed by the addition of a Russian-made mobile gantry, while Vega has been delayed by testing of some of its sub-systems.

World failing to halt biodiversity decline

Governments are failing to stem a rapid decline in biodiversity that is now threatening extinction for almost half the world's coral reef species, a third of amphibians and a quarter of mammals, a leading environmental group warned Thursday.

"Life on Earth is under serious threat," the International Union for Conservation of Nature said in a 155-page report that describes the past five years of a losing battle to protect species, natural habitats and geographical regions from the devastating effects of man.

IUCN, the producer of the world's Red List of endangered animals, analyzed over 44,000 species to test government pledges earlier this decade to halt a global loss in biodiversity by 2010.

That target will not be met, the Gland, Switzerland-based body said, describing the prospects of coral reefs as the most alarming. It also said slightly more amphibians, mammals and birds were in peril compared to five years ago, with species most prized by humans for food or medicine as disproportionately threatened.

"Biodiversity continues to decline and next year no one will dispute that," said Jean-Christophe Vie, the report's senior editor. "It's happening everywhere."

Vie told The Associated Press that biodiversity threats need to be highlighted and combatted, even at a time when many world leaders are preoccupied by economic recession and financial instability. Unlike markets and debts, animal extinction is an irreversible element of today's "wildlife crisis."

He urged governments to usher in major changes to society, such as reducing energy and overall consumption, redesigning cities and reassessing the environmental consequences of globalization — producing goods in one part of the world and sending them thousands of miles to be sold.

Vie said climate change only threatened to make the situation worse.

Governments pledged in 2002 at a meeting of the U.N. Biodiversity Convention and the World Summit on Sustainable Development to halt biodiversity decline by the end of the decade. European governments have set a similar goal among themselves.

In Europe, "about 50 percent of species are under threat or vulnerable," said Barbara Helfferich, a European Union spokeswoman. "Habitats are shrinking and a lot needs to be done. We are doing a lot, but it's not enough as promised to halt biodiversity loss."

Helfferich said a report last year suggested a number of steps for European governments to better protect biodiversity. They included expanding conservation sites, cutting down on overfishing, expanding protection to marine environments and better incorporating ecological concerns in government decisions.

Jim Rogers - Gold Seek Radio Nugget - 06-30-09

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Protest in Hong Kong

HONG KONG -- Tens of thousands of Hong Kong residents marched through the streets on the twelfth anniversary of the former British colony's return to Chinese sovereignty, one of the largest such protests in five years and a sign of discontent with this city's government.

Hong Kong march Associated Press

A protester holds flags reading "One Person One Vote " during a protest march in Hong Kong as the city marked the 12th anniversary of its return to China.

Police said at least 26,000 people participated. Organizers put the number at 76,000, still short of their forecast of at least 100,000. Police said last year's turnout was 15,000, while organizers put it at 47,000.

While calls for greater democracy are a common rallying cry at the annual July 1 march, protesters now push a broader range of causes than in 2003 and 2004, when the tradition took off. On Wednesday, participants represented a broad spectrum of interest groups, who see the occasion as a valuable opportunity to draw attention to their concerns. In addition to the large pro-democracy contingent, residents marched under the banners of causes that included heritage preservation, the environment and the rights of domestic helpers from Indonesia and the Philippines.

The march drew old-timers as well as newcomers who braved intense heat Wednesday to participate. Repairman Henry Wong said he has attended every year to express dissatisfaction with what he sees as the Hong Kong government's lack of attention to the concerns of ordinary residents. Before the march, Mr. Wong, 60, displayed a collection of T-shirts he designed to express a litany of his concerns, including the lack of universal suffrage in Hong Kong, melamine-tainted milk from mainland China and the economic influence of the U.S.

Aggy Fan, 25, said she joined the march for the first time this year because she was unhappy with the government's response to the financial crisis. "Many people from the grass roots are suffering from financial difficulties and they do not do enough to help them," said Ms. Fan, who works for a social-services organization. "They are not elected by us so they cannot represent us."

Brian Leung, 22, a recent college graduate, was handing out pamphlets on behalf of Elements, a volunteer organization for young gay people. "For me it's like a big party," he said. "It's a time for Hong Kong people to talk about what they want and become aware of other problems in society."

Earlier Wednesday, a separate, smaller march was held by patriotic supporters of Beijing to express their opposition to Hong Kong's democracy activists. The government also organized a parade to celebrate the handover anniversary.

Under the policy of "one country, two systems," Hong Kong manages itself under Beijing's supervision, and it retains an open media, freedom of expression and a separate legal system based on British common law.

In 2003, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets to express their opposition to proposed national-security legislation endorsed by the mainland government. The following year, concerns over Hong Kong's economy and widespread dissatisfaction with the city's leader at the time, Tung Chee-hwa, prompted a similarly large turnout.

Hong Kong democracy activists want to see universal suffrage for Hong Kong's chief executive and the legislature by 2012, while Beijing has said that the process won't begin until 2017.

Organizers said they were expecting a larger turnout, fueled by recent controversy over the twentieth anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown on pro-democracy protestors. In May, Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang said he represented Hong Kong people in saying that the crackdown had happened a long time ago, and that most people had moved on. The comments sparked a backlash, and this year the annual June 4 vigil in Hong Kong drew as many as 150,000 people, the largest turnout since 1990. At the vigil, and again at Wednesday's march, some people wore T-shirts that read, "Donald Tsang, you don't represent me."

Hong Kong residents also are concerned about economic conditions in the city, which entered a recession in the third quarter of 2008. Although property and stock markets have seen a rebound in recent months, unemployment is on the rise and the government expects that the city's GDP will shrink by 5.5% to 6.5% this year. Government workers and civil servants were among the marchers this year, protesting pay freezes and other contract terms.

North Korea Test-Fires Missiles

SEOUL—North Korea test-fired four short-range missiles from locations on its east coast on Thursday evening, South Korean defense officials said, the latest in a series of acts that have stepped up international tension with Pyongyang.

Observers in other countries have been expecting such tests since North Korea last month ordered domestic vessels out of several zones in the Sea of Japan where it said it would conduct military drills through July 10.

North Korea possesses about 600 short-range missiles and 300 medium-range missiles and tests them several times a year. But such tests gained more attention this year because North Korea in April tested a long-range missile for the third time and in May tested a nuclear explosive device for the second time.

Two of the ground-to-ship missiles were fired from near the North Korean city of Wonsan, a spokesman for South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said. Two more missiles later were fired from an east-coast location that wasn't disclosed. Military and intelligence officials in Seoul and Washington have been watching for signs that North Korea might soon test another long-range missile. For now, they don't believe such a test is imminent.

Pyongyang increased its weapons testing in recent months after hard-line figures associated with its military gained power in the country's authoritarian regime following the illness of dictator Kim Jong Il in August and September. The regime also reduced diplomatic activity with other countries, expelled international aid workers and clamped down on public markets and other economic activity perceived as threats to their authority.

Some analysts say they believe Mr. Kim is laying the groundwork for one of his sons to succeed him as ruler if his health turns poor again, but there has been no indication of that in North Korea's internal media.

The hard-line shift in Pyongyang's ruling elite has resulted in fewer contacts between North Korea and other countries. For instance, North Korea reduced communications with South Korea to formal meetings about a joint industrial park the countries run in the North's border city of Kaesong. The third such meeting in two months occurred Thursday, but South Korean authorities said little progress was made in discussions about the financial terms of operating contracts at the park.

Meanwhile, the North's test of a nuclear weapon led the United Nations Security Council to impose new penalties and financial sanctions last month. The official in charge of the U.S. effort to enforce the new penalties, Philip Goldberg, met with counterparts in China on Thursday.

Following the meeting, Mr. Goldberg told reporters in Beijing that the discussions were "very positive" and part of a continuing process. He declined to answer questions about China's plans for enforcing the sanctions, saying he would leave that to Chinese officials.

—Ian Johnson in Beijing and SungHa Park in Seoul contributed to this article.

Delhi High Court Legalizes Gay Sex

NEW DELHI -- In a historic ruling, an Indian court Thursday struck down parts of a British-era law that long criminalized homosexuality in the south Asian country.

The law, known as Section 377, is at odds with equal opportunity provisions in the Indian constitution, the Delhi High Court said in its ruling.

"It cannot be forgotten that discrimination is antithesis of equality and that it is the recognition of equality which will foster dignity of every individual," the court said.

The court's jurisdiction includes the state of Delhi, which includes New Delhi and some surrounding areas. But Human Rights Watch, a New York-based rights group, said in a statement the decision is likely to have nationwide influence.

"This legal remnant of British colonialism has been used to deprive people of their basic rights for too long," said Scott Long, an official at the organization, which has opposed similar laws in other former British colonies.

The parts of the law struck down include consensual sex between adults. The court left intact provisions outlawing nonconsensual sex and sex involving a minor.

The decision comes at the same time that the Indian government has said it is considering legislation to decriminalize homosexuality. The ruling Thursday will remain in place until those new laws arrive, the court said.

The government can still appeal Thursday's decision to India's Supreme Court, though it remains unclear if the government will take that step.




























U.S. Marines Try to Retake Afghan Valley From Taliban

KABUL, Afghanistan — Almost 4,000 United States Marines, backed by helicopter gunships, pushed into the volatile Helmand River valley in southwestern Afghanistan Thursday morning to try to take back the region from Taliban fighters whose control of poppy harvests and opium smuggling in Helmand provides major financing for the Afghan insurgency.

Manpreet Romana/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
U.S. Marines waited for helicopter transport as part of an operation in Helmand Province on Thursday.

Pakistan, meanwhile, said it deployed troops to a stretch of its largely porous and mountainous 1,600-mile border with Afghanistan to seal off a potential escape route for insurgents fleeing the American advance, The Associated Press reported. Both Pakistani and American officials had expressed worries that the American offensive could push militants into Pakistan which is already confronting Taliban insurgents in several areas.

U.S. Increases Troops in Afghanistan
Manpreet Romana/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
U.S. Marines walking toward a helicopter transport at Camp Dwyer.

The Marine Expeditionary Brigade leading the operation in Afghanistan represents a large number of the 21,000 additional troops that President Obama ordered to Afghanistan earlier this year amid rising violence and the Taliban’s increasing domination in much of the country. The operation is described as the first major push in southern Afghanistan by the newly bolstered American force.

Shortly after the offensive began, an American military spokeswoman said insurgents had captured an American soldier in eastern Afghanistan on Tuesday and the soldier had been missing since then, The A.P. said. The spokeswoman, Capt. Elizabeth Mathias, said the soldier was not part of the offensive in Helmand, but gave no further details of the incident.

Helmand is one of the deadliest provinces in Afghanistan, where Taliban fighters have practiced sleek, hit-and-run guerrilla warfare against the British forces based there.

The New York Times
Four thousand troops entered the Helmand River valley

British troops in Helmand say they rarely get a clear shot at Taliban attackers, who ambush them with improvised explosive devices, rocket-propelled grenades and assault rifles. The explosive devices — some made with fertilizer distributed to Afghan farmers in an effort to wean them from opium production — are the most feared weapon. The Taliban favor ambushes in the morning and evening and do not often strike during the blazing afternoon heat.

In London, the British defense ministry said Thursday that two British soldiers had been killed Wednesday in a roadside bomb attack in Helmand province and six more foreign soldiers had been injured in the same attack. The fatalities brought to 171 the number of British troops killed since the toppling of the Taliban government in late 2001. Britain has some 9,000 soldiers in Afghanistan, most of them in Helmand province.

In recent weeks some British troops have been setting up what are known as “blocking positions” on bridges over irrigation canals and at other locations, apparently to help stop the flow of insurgents during the main military operation and to establish greater security before the presidential election scheduled for August. The British forces, whose main base in Helmand is adjacent to the main Marine base, will continue to support the new operation.

The British have had too few troops to conduct full-scale counterinsurgency operations and have often relied on heavy aerial weapons, including bombs and helicopter gunships, to attack suspected fighters and their hideouts. The strategy has alienated much of the population because of the potential for civilian deaths.

Now, the Marines say their new mission, called Operation Khanjar, will include more troops and resources than ever before, as well as a commitment by the troops to live and patrol near population centers to ensure that residents are protected. More than 600 Afghan soldiers and police officers are also involved.

“What makes Operation Khanjar different from those that have occurred before is the massive size of the force introduced, the speed at which it will insert, and the fact that where we go we will stay, and where we stay, we will hold, build and work toward transition of all security responsibilities to Afghan forces,” the Marine commander in Helmand Province, Brig. Gen. Larry Nicholson, said in a statement released after the operation began.

The Marines will be pushing into areas where NATO and Afghan troops have not previously established a permanent presence. As part of the counterinsurgency strategy, the troops will meet with local leaders, help determine their needs and take a variety of actions to make towns and villages more secure, said Capt. Bill Pelletier, a spokesman for the Marines, according to The A.P..

“We do not want people of Helmand Province to see us as an enemy; we want to protect them from the enemy,” Captain Pelletier said, The A.P. reported.

The goal of the operation is to put pressure on the Taliban militants “and to show our commitment to the Afghan people that when we come in we are going to stay long enough to set up their own institutions,” he said.

The 21,000 additional American troops that Mr. Obama authorized after taking office in January almost precisely matches the original number of additional troops that President George W. Bush sent to Iraq two years ago. It will bring the overall American deployment in Afghanistan to more than 60,000 troops. But Mr. Obama avoided calling it a surge and resisted sending the full reinforcements initially sought by military commanders.

Instead, Mr. Obama chose to re-evaluate troop levels over the next year, officials said. The Obama administration has said that the additional American commitment has three main strategies for denying havens for the Taliban and Al Qaeda: training Afghan security forces, supporting the weak central Afghan government in Kabul and securing the population.

In late March, Mr. Obama warned Congressional leaders that he would need more than the $50 billion in his budget for military operations and development efforts.

Asked by lawmakers about the prospect of reconciliation with moderate members of the Taliban, officials said Mr. Obama replied that he wanted to sift out hard-core radicals from those who were fighting simply to earn money.

Eros Hoagland contributed reporting.

U.S. stock futures edge lower before payrolls report

LONDON (MarketWatch) -- U.S. stock futures edged lower Thursday heading into the extended weekend with attention turning to the payrolls report for clues on whether the economy can continue to mend.

S&P 500 futures fell 3.9 points to 915.30 and Nasdaq 100 futures slipped 5.5 points to 1,473.20. Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 28 points.

Data on manufacturing and housing as well as upbeat General Mills results helped U.S. stocks rise on Wednesday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average rising 57 points, the Nasdaq Composite rising 10 points and the S&P 500 adding 4 points.

Thursday's focus will turn to a swath of data, including the key nonfarm payrolls report.

The consensus forecast of Wall Street economists surveyed by MarketWatch is for 325,000 job losses in June.

The unemployment rate also is expected to rise, to 9.6% in June from 9.4% the prior month. The Labor Department will announce the figures at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time.

"The underlying story, we think, is that the pace of gross hiring dropped faster than the pace of gross firings, or jobless claims, rose in the months after [the] Lehman [bankruptcy,]" said Ian Shepherdson, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics, in a note to clients.

"Now that the immediate post-Lehman panic is over, we think the pace of gross hiring is returning to a more sustainable trend, so payrolls are reverting to a pace consistent with the claims numbers."

Also on tap will be weekly jobless claims and, shortly after the open, factory orders for May.

Data released in Europe showed the euro-area unemployment rate in May climbing to 9.5% from 9.3% -- one reason the European Central Bank is widely expected to keep interest rates at 1%. The ECB decision is due at 7: 45 a.m. Eastern, followed by a press conference at 8:30 a.m.


















星展和儲蓄銀行今起下調儲蓄戶頭(Passbook Savings)利率,創下4年來新低。













































Group plans to launch ads comparing Obama to Hitler

A conservative lobby group is planning to launch an attack ad against President Barack Obama, in which the group compares the U.S. president to Adolf Hitler.

Our Country Deserves Better PAC plans to launch the TV ads on July 7. In the meantime, they've posted a sneak peek to YouTube.

"As the regime spun out of control, they labeled political opponents domestic terrorists, and warned of confrontations between such groups and government authorities," the preview ad begins.

"They proposed a civilian security force, and a Congressman warned it was exactly what Hitler did in Nazi Germany. Opposition heightened after voter fraud by the president's allies, including thousands of bogus voter registration," it continues.

"But wait -- these press reports aren't about Iran. They're about Barack Obama's administration right here in the U.S."

According to a story at, "the group is chaired by Howard Kaloogian, a California political operative and gadfly who ran and lost in the special election to replace disgraced Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham."

On March 28, 2006, Howard Kaloogian's campaign website displayed a street-level photograph which was claimed to have been recently taken in downtown Baghdad with the caption, “"Downtown Baghdad. We took this photo of dowtown [sic] Baghdad while we were in Iraq. Iraq (including Baghdad) is much more calm and stable than what many people believe it to be. But, each day the news media finds any violence occurring in the country and screams and shouts about it - in part because many journalists are opposed to the U.S. effort to fight terrorism."

On its website, Our Country Deserves Better PAC describes itself as "leading the fight to champion the Reaganesque conservatism of lower taxes, smaller government, strong national defense, and respect for the strength of the family as the core of a strong America."

-- Daniel Tencer

The following audio clip was uploaded to YouTube by Our Country Deserves Better PAC, on June 30, 2009.

CIA Report on Interrogation Is Delayed Again

WASHINGTON -- The Justice Department is again delaying the release of an internal CIA report on the agency's secret detention and interrogation program during the Bush administration.

The report had been expected to be made public two weeks ago but was held back over debates about how much of it should be censored. The government published a version of the report in 2008, but its contents were almost entirely blacked out.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters Wednesday that the report, expected to be made public in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union, may not be released this week.

The report was written in 2004 by the CIA's inspector general.

The review questioned the effectiveness of harsh interrogation methods employed by CIA interrogators, such as waterboarding. That's according to references to the report contained in Bush-era Justice Department memos that were declassified this spring.

Joe Biden: Oct. 19, 2008 - Obama Will Be "Tested"

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Israel Abducts Nobel Laureate, Former U.S. Congresswoman

The Free Gaza Movement announced in a press release on Tuesday that its boat The Spirit of Humanity had been intercepted by the Israeli navy while en route from Cyprus to the Gaza Strip to deliver humanitarian supplies to the Palestinian people.

The people of Gaza have suffered under an Israeli siege and a three-week military assault code-named Operation Cast Lead that began on December 27 last year.

Israel has been heavily criticized by human rights groups for its actions during that campaign, which included indiscriminate bombing of civilian targets and the use of white phosphorus as a weapon, forbidden under international law.

The Israeli navy intercepted the boat, named the Arion but dubbed The Spirit of Humanity by its passengers, boarded it, and then forcibly directed it to Ashdod, Israel.

A military spokesman said, “An Israeli navy force intercepted, boarded and took control of the cargo boat Arion … as it was illegally attempting to enter the Gaza Strip.”

The Israel Naval blockade of Gaza is a violation of international law. When Egypt announced a blockade of the Straits of Tiran in 1967, Israel regarded it as an act of war and launched a surprise attack on June 5, the start of a six-day war in which Israel also invaded and occupied the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Israel withdrew military forces from Gaza in 2005, only to implement a crippling siege of the small, densely populated territory. It still illegally occupies the West Bank.

The Israeli military said it would send the boat’s humanitarian supplies to Gaza after a security check. The abducted passengers are to be deported.

Among the passengers on the boat was former U.S. Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, who said, “This is an outrageous violation of international law against us. Our boat was not in Israeli waters, and we were on a human rights mission to the Gaza Strip.”

She asked that the international community demand their release so they could continue their mission to deliver aid to Gaza.

Nobel Peace Prize winner Mairead Maguire was also among the passengers of the boat. “The aid we were carrying is a symbol of hope for the people of Gaza,” she said, “hope that the sea route would open for them, and they would be able to transport their own materials to begin to reconstruct the schools, hospitals and thousands of homes destroyed during the onslaught of ‘Cast Lead’.”

The Cypriot Embassy in Tel Aviv issued a statement saying that permission had been granted by authorities in Cyprus for the boat to depart “on the basis of its declaration that its intended destination was the port of Port Said in Egypt.”

Two other missions by the Free Gaza Movement to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza, one of which was successful, had also begun in Cyprus.

On Monday, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) issued a report saying that Gaza’s 1.5 million residents were “trapped in despair”. Israel’s military assault on the Strip razed whole neighborhoods and resulted in massive civilian casualtie.

Israel’s continuing blockade of Gaza, the report said, is “making it impossible for Gazans to rebuild their lives.”

Independence Now And Forever

As we approach Independence Day, it behooves us to recall the principles of America's founding, especially in light of the ongoing attempt by today's political and commercial leaders to merge the United States into a hemispheric government. In fact, the clarion call for independence is just as fundamental, just as revolutionary as it was 233 years ago.

Regarding the signing of the Declaration of Independence, John Adams said, "[Independence Day] will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the Day of Deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forevermore."

Adams went on to say, "You will think me transported with enthusiasm, but I am not. I am well aware of the toil and blood and treasure that it will cost us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the gloom I can see the rays of ravishing light and glory; I can see that the end is more than worth all the means, that posterity will triumph in that day's transaction, even though we should rue it, which I trust in God we shall not."

Indeed, the signers of America's Declaration of Independence endured the sacrifice of both toil and blood. Pertaining to the lives of the signers, David Limbaugh writes, "Of those 56 who signed the Declaration of Independence, nine died of wounds or hardships during the war. Five were captured and imprisoned, in each case with brutal treatment. Several lost wives, sons or entire families. One lost his thirteen children. Two wives were brutally treated. All were at one time or another the victims of manhunts and driven from their homes. Twelve signers had their homes completely burned. Seventeen lost everything they owned."

Yes, America's Declaration of Independence, which is our nation's birth certificate, was purchased at a very high price. Rightly did its primary author, Thomas Jefferson, invoke God's name no less than four times in the Declaration. Without God, our struggle for independence and freedom would surely have failed.

Jefferson, along with the vast majority of America's founders, knew that freedom was, first, the gift of God, not the accomplishment of men. He further understood that man's law must be subordinate to the natural laws of God.

Therefore, with an appeal to Heaven for the "rectitude of [their] intentions," America's Founding Fathers courageously forged a document that would put their own lives at risk, but would also change the course of history.

The question now is, "How long can we maintain our nation's independence?" The forces of global government seem to dominate both major parties in Washington, D.C., most corporate boardrooms, and most newsrooms.

In fact, hemispheric or regional government never had more powerful and committed allies than former Presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and now President Barack Obama. Mark my words: if and when America loses its independence, it will have been these Presidents that led the way in making it happen.

If the United States is going to maintain its independence and freedom much beyond the year 2010, it will only be because millions of freedom-loving Americans (and the governments of the States in which they reside) are willing to fight for it.

Both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died on July 4, 1826. Daniel Webster gave the eulogy for both men on August 2 of that year. Included in his remarks on that notable day were these words: "It [the Declaration of Independence] is my living sentiment, and by the blessing of God, it shall be my dying sentiment. Independence now, and independence forever."

To Webster's words, I say a hearty AMEN! I promise no loyalty to the North American Union, the United Nations, or any other brand of global government. When the day comes that I am required to submit to any form of global authority, I will be an outlaw. There is no freedom without independence, and there is no independence without eternal vigilance. To my dying breath I will say with Daniel Webster, "Independence now, and independence forever!"

The Panama Deception

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There are over 200 billion stars in our galaxy, the Milky Way, but Hubble has estimated that there are over a billion galaxies in the universe which makes one point increasingly clear ~ WE are not only not alone but are all united through a common innate urge to unite : Allen L Roland
Astronomers estimate that the Milky Way contains about 100 billion stars. Recently, however, this number was upped by about a billion after the discovery that very old, nearly invisible stars had escaped earlier detections.

Our Sun, which is 4.6 billion years old, is located 26,000 light-years away from the galactic center on one of the spiral arms. It is a location considered more suitable than others for harboring life, in part because the central region is too chaotic, and in part because the concentration of metals there is too heavy, and it’s too light in the galaxy’s outer fringes.

The Sun makes one complete orbit around the galaxy about once every 225 million years. In contrast, stars near the galactic center complete a lap in a few million years or less. These stars as a group tend to be younger than the galactic average, most ranging in age from 1 billion to 10 billion years old
Most of our galaxy is relatively uncrowded ~ the nearest star to our Sun, for example, is 4.2 light-years away. But roughly 10 million stars are known to orbit within a light-year of the galaxy's center.
But what if all of these stars, as I maintain, are connected by a Unified Field of love and soul consciousness ~ that resides deepest within each one of us, transcends boundaries of time and space and whose principle property is the universal urge to unite.
Love leads us to another dimension of consciousness within which this universal truth is readily apparent.
How can you not look at this rendering of the Milky Way and not feel like you are part of something far greater than yourself ~ but at the same time innately connected to it.
There must be be something very special and profound that connects us, not only to each other, but to all the other stars in our own Milky Way, as well as a universe of galaxies ~ and what could be more special or profound than love.
Allen L Roland

Freelance Online columnist Allen L Roland is available for comments, interviews and speaking engagements ( )
Allen L Roland is a practicing psychotherapist, author and lecturer who also shares a daily political and social commentary on his weblog and website He also guest hosts a monthly national radio show TRUTHTALK on


Federal Reserve Building. Click image to expand.

The history of the Federal Reserve is an ongoing battle between the Banking elite and the people and anyone who gets in the way is usually crushed. Bush and Obama's top down Wall Street bank bailout, at the expense of Main Street, is a good example of why Rothschild's Federal Reserve must be audited and eventually abolished: Allen L Roland

The Fed (which is not even a government agency, but rather a private corporation consisting of mostly foreign bankers and answers to no one) dictates America's financial policies and is the obvious conduit for the banking elite to control the financial world and, in particular, the New World Order.

And now Obama wants to give even more power to the Fed as Eliot Spitzer writes today in Slate ~ " The Fed botched banking regulation once already. So why does Obama want to give it more power? " Spitzer goes on to elaborate on the main problem with the Fed ~ " The United States should not lightly put our fate back in the hands of the very entity whose oversight of the economy and financial sector brought us into the abyss. The Fed's lack of accountability and transparency is no longer justified by its record or sound principles or public policy. Granting the power without asking the tough questions would be following the path of least resistance ~ Has any thought been given to refocusing on a financial services model that has more smaller institutions and fewer mega banks, thus diversifying risk? Others, no doubt, will have more probing questions for the Fed; and President Obama, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, and Congress should listen to them before they grant the Fed vast new powers."

To fully understand the Fed ~ you must review its dark history of greed and manipulation which begins with the Rothschild's.


1791-1811: Rothschild's First Bank of the United States.

1816-1836: Rothschild's Second Bank of the United States.

1837-1862: Free Banking Era - no formal Central Bank through the efforts of President Andrew Jackson,
who , according to Jackson,
the Rothschild's later tried to assassinate.

1862-1913: System of National Banks through the efforts of President Andrew Jackson.

In 1862 Abraham Lincoln issued his own fiat money to finance the Civil War and bucked the New York Banks who wanted to charge the government 24- 30% interest on any loans. Lincoln was assassinated on April 14, 1865.

President James Garfield tried to buck the banks and was assassinated on July 2, 1881.

1913-Current: President Wilson Federal Reserve Act creates a consortium of privately held Jewish & associated banks called the Federal Reserve Bank. The largest shareholders of the Federal Reserve Bank are the Rothschild's of London holding 57% of the stock which is not available for public trading.

On May 23 1933, Congressman Louis T. McFadden brought impeachment charges against the members of the Federal Reserve Bank. A smear campaign against McFadden ensued and he was poisoned 3 years later.

On June 4th 1963, John F Kennedy signed Executive Order 1110 which returned to the U.S. Government the power to issue currency without going through the Federal reserve. With the stroke of his pen, President Kennedy was on his way to putting the Federal Reserve Bank of New York out of business ~ for that order gave the U.S. the ability to create its own money backed by silver. Five months later on November 22, 1963 Kennedy was assassinated.

Watch this outstanding ten minute video on the ominous and treacherous path of the Rothschild's ~ a path of greed, manipulation and corruption which continues to this day under the unaudited and secretive rule of the Federal Reserve Bank.

Congressman Ron Paul wants to audit the Federal Reserve. His bill to do this (HR 1207) already has 55 listed co-sponsors, and Congressman Paul's website says the list will soon be up to 90. Bernie Sanders has introduced a similar bill in the Senate (S. 604).

Tell your Congressman to co-sponsor Ron Paul's
Audit the Fed bill. Join me and Sign the petition:

Allen L Roland

Freelance Online columnist Allen L Roland is available for comments, interviews and speaking engagements ( )
Allen L Roland is a practicing psychotherapist, author and lecturer who also shares a daily political and social commentary on his weblog and website He also guest hosts a monthly national radio show TRUTHTALK on