Sunday, August 23, 2009

U.S. Shifts, Giving Names of Detainees to the Red Cross

WASHINGTON — In a reversal of Pentagon policy, the military for the first time is notifying the International Committee of the Red Cross of the identities of militants who were being held in secret at a camp in Iraq and another in Afghanistan run by United States Special Operations forces, according to three military officials.

The change begins to lift the veil from the American government’s most secretive remaining overseas prisons by allowing the Red Cross to track the custody of dozens of the most dangerous suspected terrorists and foreign fighters plucked off the battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It is a major advance for the organization in its long fight to gain more information about these detainees. The military had previously insisted that disclosing any details about detainees at the secretive camps could tip off other militants and jeopardize counterterrorism missions.

Detention practices will be in the spotlight this week. The Central Intelligence Agency on Monday is to release a highly critical 2004 report on the agency’s interrogation program by the C.I.A. inspector general.

The long awaited report provides new details about abuses that took place inside the agency’s secret prisons, including C.I.A. officers carrying out mock executions and threatening at least one prisoner with a gun and a power drill.

Also, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. is expected to decide in the next several days whether to appoint a criminal prosecutor to investigate the interrogations of suspects accused of being involved in terrorism after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

The new Pentagon policy on detainees took effect this month with no public announcement from the military or the Red Cross. It represents another shift in detention policy by the Obama administration, which has already vowed to close the American military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, by next year and is conducting reviews of the government’s procedures for interrogating and detaining militants.

A spokesman for the Red Cross in Washington, Bernard Barrett, declined to comment on the new notification policy, citing the organization’s longstanding practice of refusing to talk about its discussions with the Defense Department about detention issues.

Unlike the secret prisons run by the C.I.A. that President Obama ordered closed in January, the military continues to operate the Special Operations camps, which it calls temporary screening sites, in Balad, Iraq, and Bagram, Afghanistan.

As many as 30 to 40 foreign prisoners have been held at the camp in Iraq at any given time, military officials said; they did not provide an estimate for the Afghan camp but suggested that the number was smaller.

The Red Cross is allowed access to almost all American military prisons and battlefield detention sites in Iraq and Afghanistan, but the Special Operations camps have been excluded.

The New York Times reported in 2006 that some soldiers at the temporary detention site in Iraq, then located at Baghdad International Airport and called Camp Nama, beat prisoners with rifle butts, yelled and spit in their faces, and used detainees for target practice in a game of jailer paintball.

Military officials say conditions at the camps have improved significantly since then, but virtually all details of the sites remain shrouded in secrecy.

Under Pentagon rules, detainees at the Special Operations camps can be held for up to two weeks. Formerly, the military at that point had to release a detainee; transfer him to a long-term prison in Iraq or Afghanistan, to which the Red Cross has broad access; or seek one-week renewable extensions from Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates or his representative.

Under the new policy, the military must notify the Red Cross of the detainees’ names and identification numbers within two weeks of capture, a notification that before happened only after a detainee was transferred to a long-term prison. The option to seek custody extensions has been eliminated, a senior Pentagon official said.

Pentagon officials sought to play down the significance of the shift, saying that most detainees at the camps had already been registered with the Red Cross within the two-week period.

“The department makes every effort to register detainees with the I.C.R.C. as soon as practicable after capture,” said Bryan G. Whitman, a Defense Department spokesman.

But human rights advocates hailed the policy change, saying that Special Operations forces had often extended the custody of detainees, leaving them in a legal limbo for weeks on end.

“Any improvement in I.C.R.C. notification and access is a positive development because it not only accounts for the whereabouts of a person, but hopefully will expedite notification to the family who is left anxious wondering about the fate of his or her relative,” said Sahr MuhammedAlly, a senior associate for law and security at Human Rights First, an advocacy group. The change in notifying the Red Cross stemmed largely from a new climate that emerged after Mr. Obama’s election, military officials said. The new administration set out the larger goal to revamp detention and interrogation practices that had drawn international condemnation under the Bush administration.

Into this environment stepped Gen. David H. Petraeus, newly selected to lead the Central Command of American military operations in the Middle East. When he was the top commander in Iraq, General Petraeus supported ideas promoted by Maj. Gen. Douglas M. Stone to overhaul the detention system there, separating hard-core militants from petty criminals who could be easily radicalized, offering detainees vocational training and family visits. The United States is now adopting this approach to revamp the Afghan prison system.

This spring, based on a request by General Petraeus, Mr. Gates ordered a review of the Special Operations camps. Lt. Gen. Philip M. Breedlove, an Air Force officer who had served on the military’s Joint Staff in Washington, spent several weeks in Afghanistan and Iraq examining the sites. At the request of Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Breedlove also accompanied Special Operations teams on some of their missions to observe how they treated prisoners at the point of capture.

In July, Admiral Mullen sent a confidential message to all of the military service chiefs and senior field commanders asking them to redouble their efforts to alert troops to the importance of treating detainees properly.

Admiral Mullen felt compelled to issue his message after viewing photographs documenting abuse of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan by American military personnel in the early years of the wars, a senior military official said.

Mr. Obama decided in May not to make the photographs public, warning that the images could ignite attacks against American troops.

In a classified report dated June 17, General Breedlove largely praised the conditions at the camps. He found only minor problems, including a failure to provide a Koran to each detainee, and a lack of arrows or other symbols indicating which direction Muslim prisoners should face to pray toward Mecca.

Military officials acknowledged that the Special Operations forces might have improved conditions to impress the visiting investigator. But one of the general’s recommendations surprised officials: provide more information about detainees at the camps to the Red Cross earlier in the detention process.

The Red Cross has been lobbying the Pentagon for years for access to those held at the Special Operations camps, or least information about who is being detained in them. General Breedlove’s recommendation gave the group’s efforts a prominent military endorsement.

Mark Mazzetti contributed reporting.




























希臘‧恐蔓延雅典‧全國進緊急狀態‧希臘林火危及名鎮 Hundreds flee wildfire burning homes near Athens















ATHENS, Aug 23 (Reuters) - Wildfires burned scores of homes and thousands of acres of forest near Athens as flames raged out of control for a second day on Sunday, sending huge clouds of smoke over the Greek capital, authorities said.

Hundreds fled their homes overnight as the blaze reached residential communities around Athens overnight, fanned by strong winds. Others were frantically trying to stop the flames from reaching houses with garden hoses and tree branches.

Greek officials and eyewitnesses said the fire had reached the suburbs of Aghios Stefanos, Anthoussa, Pallini, Pikermi and Dionyssos and that there were people refusing to leave their property as flames approached.

"The situation is worsening on an area in Aghios Stefanos and things are difficult in Anthoussa. There are homes on fire," eastern Attica prefect Leonidas Kouris told Greek television.

The fire broke out late on Friday in a village about 40 km (25 miles) northeast of the Greek capital and, fanned by strong winds, spread to neighbouring villages and northern suburbs of Athens.

Greek authorities declared a state of emergency in eastern Attica on Saturday where the flames seared about 30,000 acres (12,140 hectares) of forest, farming fields and olive groves.

"More than 120,000 stremmas (30,000 acres) have been burnt. It is an ecological disaster," Athens prefect Yiannis Sgouros told Greek television.

Greece has asked its allies for help and five fire fighting aircraft from Italy, France and Cyprus were expected to arrive on Sunday, fire officials said.

The fire brought back memories of 2007, when Greece's deadliest wildfires in living memory raged for more than 10 days on the Peloponnese peninsula and Evia island, killing 65 people.

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis made a helicopter tour of the afflicted area on Sunday. He chaired a meeting at fire brigade operations centre in Athens late on Saturday for the second time in less than 24 hours and urged people not to panic.

"What we need above all is to stay calm," Karamanlis said after the meeting. "It would be wise to obey the instructions of the people in charge."

A children's hospital and a home for the elderly were evacuated.

Police and witnesses said scores of homes were heavily damaged but the fire brigade declined to give official data for the damage until the blaze was put out.

Twelve aircraft, eight helicopters, 130 fire engines and 592 firefighters were trying to battle the blaze, fire officials said. Some 340 soldiers were also dispatched to the fires.

Gale-force winds have fanned more than 100 blazes across Greece in the last three days. Fires also raged on the islands of Zakynthos, Evia, Skyros, and the central Greek Viotia area. A fire on the Dodecanese island of Rhodes was under control.

Wildfires are frequent in Greece in the summer, often caused by high temperatures and winds, drought or arson. Hundreds of fires raged across southern Europe in July, destroying thousands of hectares of forest and gutting dozens of homes. (Editing by Richard Williams)






































睽違30年登陸台灣 美軍直升機艦離台



美直升機吊掛挖土機前往那瑪夏鄉美國MH-53E海龍直升機18日吊掛4.8噸挖土機前往高雄縣那瑪夏鄉,協助搶通對外連絡道路。中央社記者蘇聖斌攝 98年8月18日














北京的中國日報引述中國人力資源與社會保障部部 長尹蔚民說,中國今年的失業人口總數超過2400萬。即 使中國達到8%預定的經濟成長目標,半數的失業大軍很 可能仍無法找到工作。


但BBC中文網認為,這項數據並不能準確衡量中國的失業情況,因為它只針對城鎮登記人員進行統計,並 未把大量失業農民工和應屆大學畢業生的情況考慮進去 。




Finally, an apology from the National Geographic Channel

Six days after September 11th, National Geographic Today (NGT) published one of the very first descriptions of the official myth for what happened to the World Trade Center (WTC) towers.[1] This article exaggerated the little known facts about the fires in the towers, equated gas temperatures with steel temperatures, and detailed the long-surviving but incorrect Pancake Theory of “collapse.” Since that time, millions of people have been killed or injured in the 9/11 Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that originated from the official myth about 9/11.[2,3] Fortunately, this week it was announced that the NGT’s parent, the National Geographic Channel (NG Channel), is scheduled to broadcast a new television special covering the science behind the events of 9/11. We can only assume that this new show is meant to correct the record and apologize for the company’s false statements that contributed to the ongoing wars.

Some of the false statements made in that NGT article had to do with an early version of the Pancake Theory for destruction of the buildings. One claim was : “As the steel columns at the core of the Twin Towers collapsed, the floors they supported fell on each other like two stacks of pancakes.” Another statement was more authoritative, saying: “Once the structural support of the upper floors is removed, a few falling floors can bring down an entire building.” The Pancake Theory did not make sense to many people but was tested by my former employer, Underwriters Laboratories (UL), in August 2004. The tests showed that the floors in the WTC buildings could not have pancaked, even when exposed to higher temperatures for longer periods of time than was actually the case. Two years later, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) finally made clear that its “findings do not support the ‘pancake theory’ of collapse.”[4]

To date, there have been no apologies from any of the media sources that, oftentimes arrogantly, promoted the Pancake Theory as a means to prevent further questioning of the WTC events. But we all know that “National Geographic” is different, right? Actually, some people are unaware that the NG Channel is majority controlled (67%) by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation.[5] The National Geographic Society, publisher of the well-known magazine, was a minority partner in creation of the NG Channel, but does not have editorial control over what is produced there. Instead, the News Corporation controls the programming much like it controls Fox News.

In the early article promoting the WTC myth, NGT described how “Jet fuel fires burn unusually hot, and engineers believe the fire may have led to temperatures as high as 1,600 degrees Celsius (2,900 degrees Fahrenheit).” But the truth is that the jet fuel fires at the WTC, which lasted a total of 79 seconds by one expert estimate, and lasted only a few minutes according to NIST, would have been cooler than the later fires fed by office furnishings alone.[6] It has since been admitted by NIST that gas temperatures reached only “as high as 1,000 degrees Celsius.”[7]

With that in mind, it’s important to note that in a structure fire, the temperature of fireproofed steel lags far behind the temperature of the air (i.e. gas) in the vicinity. In fact, even in a testing furnace where heat cannot be conducted away, when the temperature of the furnace is raised to 1000 °C and held at that temperature, it takes two full hours for the protected steel within to reach 600 °C.[8] Neither of the Twin Towers remained standing for two hours after aircraft impact, however, and that’s why NIST evaluated a fireproofing loss scenario for the towers. NIST suggested fireproofing loss through a mechanism of shotgun-like blasts, presumably formed from aircraft debris and aimed in all directions throughout the areas where the planes impacted. Fortunately, in the 1.5-second long video produced by Purdue University, and featured on the website for the new television special, this shotgun scenario is shown to be in direct contradiction to the large-scale debris field produced by the aircraft. Apart from this one valuable refutation of NIST, however, the micro video from Purdue has been shown to be a poor representation of what actually happened at the WTC.[9] Hopefully the apology from the NG Channel will include an interview with Purdue President France Córdova, who can help to clarify these facts. That is, if she’s not tied up in another SAIC board meeting.[10]

The website for the new television show also suggests that the NG Channel’s apology will be offered directly by the Turkish professor Mete Sözen, a long-time supporter of government myths about terrorism.[11] Sözen is not just a professor at Purdue but was a leader of the FEMA investigation into what happened at the Pentagon on 9/11. He was also the director of the Department of Defense’s Blast Mitigation for Structures program, and is therefore another example of the many explosives experts that came up with only non-explosive stories for what happened on 9/11.[12] When Sözen is done helping with the apology from the NG Channel, he might, as a prominent Turkish person in the US, be able to help clarify the recent claim that some of our government representatives maintained “intimate relations” with al Qaeda, through Turkish proxies, right up until 9/11.[13]

In any case, it will be a relief to not see another lame hit piece about 9/11 questions that relies solely on Brent Blanchard for testimony about demolition techniques. As a photographer for “Implosion World,” Blanchard is often consulted for these tabloid programs when a “demolition expert” is needed. But no evidence has ever been given that the real experts allow photographers to plan and implement their high-rise demolitions. Hopefully, the NG Channel will feature interviews with experts who actually have planned and implemented such operations, like Danny Jowenko, who stated that WTC 7 was a demolition.[14]

The NG Channel’s apology will certainly cover the other false claim in its NGT article, that: “At temperatures above 500 degrees Celsius, steel loses its strength and ‘turns to Play-doh.’” By exaggerating the gas temperatures and then hitting us with the “Play-doh” steel claim, the article falsely equated gas temperatures and steel temperatures in a structure fire. But anyone can see from photographs and videos that the buildings did not turn to “Play-doh” as if they were experiencing an overall softening. To the contrary, the towers behaved as if they were rigid structures, suddenly exploding outward and otherwise falling – at nearly free-fall speed -- through what should have been the path of most resistance.[15] Additionally, tests done by NIST indicated that only 2% of the steel samples saved had experienced temperatures as high as 250 °C, and steel is barely affected at all at such low temperatures.

The WTC steel temperature issue is complicated by the fact that the samples saved for the NIST investigation were pulled by John Gross, an investigator who has since been clearly deceptive when speaking about the evidence. Gross specifically selected the steel samples that were saved, from what was said to be the areas of greatest heat exposure. It’s possible that Gross erred in his sample selection process, however, because in 2006, he was publicly asked about molten metal at the WTC site, and he claimed that there was no evidence of molten metal.[16] The truth is that there were many witnesses to molten metal at the WTC site, as well as photos that showed molten metal pouring from one of the towers before it fell.[17]

Since that time, scientific experiments have shown that extremely high temperatures existed at the WTC. Other peer-reviewed articles demonstrate that the environmental data at Ground Zero indicate the presence of energetic materials, and that residues of such materials are present throughout the WTC dust.[18,19] This strong evidence supports the many witnesses to explosions and the photographic evidence of demolition at the WTC. Furthermore, it has been shown through an extensive peer-reviewed study that unexploded nanothermite is present in the WTC dust.[20] It appears that the nanothermite materials present in the WTC dust are similar to the “explosive aerogels” made by US national laboratories for the past ten to fifteen years.[21]

All of this was explained in detail to the producer of the National Geographic Channel show long before his production ended, so it will be great to see it all communicated honestly. The technical details should not be difficult, considering that the NG Channel produced a show on aerogels before.[22] But what's more, my colleagues and I have communicated directly with Robert Erickson, the producer of the show, and made sure he had all the information he needed on nanothermite and its explosive properties.

Erickson was confused at first, in that he had contacted the folks at Los Alamos National Laboratories (LANL), and was forced to conclude that LANL’s only exposure to nanothermite (also called super-thermite) technology was a recent, poorly received commercial venture. He wrote -- “Their work on nano-thermite was patented in 2005 – the theory of nano-thermite was in play by their scientists no earlier than 2004.”[23] But the truth is that LANL had its own “Super-Thermite Program” years before 2004, and before 9/11.[24] It must be that the scientists Erickson talked to were way out of the loop, or were lying to him for some reason, because we all trust that “National Geographic” would not engage in deceiving the public.

In any case, it is Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories (LLNL) that has been widely reported to be the leader in nanothermite research. Unfortunately, Erickson could not contact LLNL because, as he wrote: “My budget does not provide funds for me to travel to Livermore labs. I just have a small television production to deal with.” This was a strange thing to say considering that North Hollywood, CA, where Erickson’s company is located, is much closer to Livermore, CA than it is to Thibodoux, Louisiana, where Erickson traveled to shoot an example, illustrative demolition event. Erickson went on to despair about the subject, stating -- “And apparently – even if I’m willing to look... No nano-thermite is available.”[25]

This statement is reminiscent of NIST’s reply when questioned as to why it did not test for explosive residues at the WTC (i.e. why would you look for something that’s not there?). But it’s possible that Erickson’s pessimism was correct, and that even if he was “willing to look”, he would not be able to share what he found. That’s what we heard from BBC producer Mike Rudin -- that LLNL scientists would not cooperate with his “Conspiracy Files” video production. Rudin told us that LLNL refused to allow the BBC to use of any of the photographs of nanothermite materials that were readily available on the web. That seems at odds with the idea that science can so easily disprove the demolition theory.

But I did give Erickson permission to use my own photos of nanothermite formulations that had been ignited. Interestingly enough, these looked surprisingly similar to many of the red chip-like materials found in WTC dust samples, and both had attached metallic microspheres.[26] Although he did not respond to this invitation, I’m sure Erickson was excited to have these resources available for the show.

Some months earlier, Erickson’s assistant, Dieu Pham, had contacted me several times to set-up an interview in Bloomington because other 9/11 investigators had recommended they do so. At the time I told them that I would be glad to, and that also – “My advice to you is to contact the 9/11 victim's family members who were responsible for initiating both the 9/11 Commission and the NIST WTC investigation, if you have not done so already.”[27] Most people know that the WTC issue is only a small part of the incredible amount of evidence showing that the official myth of 9/11 is false. In this televised apology, it will be good to see the interviews they did with victim’s families, and how they handled the conflicts of interest within the 9/11 Commission, the insider trading, the air defense failures, the behavior of the Secret Service, and the many other anomalies of 9/11.

In the end, the show's producers suddenly changed their minds about interviewing me. Dieu Pham wrote back saying – “I was pushing to go there, but it just wasn't working.” Who knows – maybe they finally drove up to Livermore, or the photos I provided gave the final touch needed to round out this science-based program. No matter, just knowing that an apology is forthcoming is enough for me. It won’t right the wrong entirely, as the death and destruction caused by the false stories about 9/11 cannot be undone. But thanks to the National Geographic Channel in advance, for finally rejecting the trashy tabloid hit pieces of the past, and for being professional and caring enough to admit its many mistakes in reporting on the events of 9/11.

[1] Bijal P. Trivedi, Inferno Heat, Not Impact, Brought Down Towers, Experts Say, National Geographic Today, September 17, 2001,
[2] Just Foreign Policy, Iraq Deaths,
[3] Unknown News, Casualties in Afghanistan and Iraq,
[4] NIST’s Responses to FAQs, August 2006,
[5] FreePress, Ownership Chart: The Big Six,
[6] J. L. Torero and J. G. Quintiere, Fire Safety in High-rise Buildings, Lessons Learned from the WTC,
Dresden Germany 2002,
[7] NIST’s Responses to FAQs, August 2006,
[8] Structural Fire Protection, ASCE Manuals and Reports on Engineering Practice no. 78,1992, p 172.
[9] Kevin R. Ryan, Open Letter to Purdue President France Córdova, July 6, 2007, found at,
[10] Webpage for SAIC board of directors, including France Cordova,
[11] Website for The Channel’s new show, 9/11: Science and Conspiracy,
[12] Kevin Ryan, Looking for Truth in Credentials: The Peculiar WTC “Experts”, Global Research, March 13, 2007,
[13] Sözen is a member of the Society of Turkish Architects, Engineers & Scientists Inc., a group that has among its goals the intention of fostering Turkish interests in the US through several other organizations. These organizations have recently launched an “all out assault” on 9/11 Whistleblower Sibel Edmonds. See Brad for details,
[14] 911veritas, Danny Jowenko - Dutch Demolition Expert Still Maintains WTC7 Could NOT Collapse Due to Fire,, February 22, 2007,
[15] Jim Hoffman, 9-11 WTC Videos: Video Evidence of the Destruction of the World Trade Center Skyscrapers,,
[16] Stallion4’s blog, NIST Engineer, John Gross, Denies Reports About Molten Steel at the WTC,,
[17] George Washington’s blog, Why was there molten metal under Ground Zero for months after 9/11? , December 6, 2005,
[18] Steven E. Jones, et al, Extremely high temperatures during the World Trade Center destruction, Journal of 9/11 Studies, Volume 19, January 2008,
[19] Kevin R. Ryan, et al, Environmental anomalies at the World Trade Center: evidence for energetic materials, The Environmentalist, Volume 29, Number 1 / March, 2009,
[20] Niels H. Harrit, et al, Active Thermitic Material Discovered in Dust from the 9/11 World Trade Center Catastrophe, The Open Chemical Physics Journal, Vol 2, 2009, doi: 10.2174/1874412500902010007,
[21] Randy Simpson, Nanoscale chemistry yields better explosives, Science and Technology Review 2000, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory,
[22] Stephen Steiner, Zero_Gravity aerogel formation: Research on the production of aerogel in weightlessness, 2003, National Geographic Channel Segment Part 1, Summary: All about aerogel, how it's made, why it's blue, and making it clear in zero-gravity.
[23] Personal email from Robert Erickson, producer of the new National Geographic Channel special on 9/11
[24] Danen, W.C., Jorgensen, B.S., Busse, J.R., Ferris, M.J. and Smith, B.L. “Los Alamos Nanoenergetic
Metastable Intermolecular Composite (Super Thermite) Program,” 221st ACS National Meeting,
San Diego, CA, 1-5 April 2001.
[25] Personal email from Robert Erickson, producer of the new National Geographic Channel special on 9/11
[26] Kevin Ryan, Nanothermites and WTC Dust,, December 27, 2008,
[27] Personal email response to Dieu Pham of Creative Differences Productions

China, Baltic Dry And The V-Shaped Recovery

“What was a V-shaped recovery now seems to be experiencing a little gravitational pull.” -Stephen Green, Standard Charted Bank in Shanghai

FN: The sneaking suspicion out there is that China has pretty much completed their commodity re-stocking. The Baltic Dry Index (BDI) has been down nine of the last ten trading days and has now breached the rising trendline from the December 2008 low of 663. The price is now also below the 20, 50 and 200 day EMAs (blue, red and green lines).

In the post Baltic Dry, Chinese Hoarding, Commodities and the Fake Recovery I highlighted:

"As the global economy continues to falter and Chinese exports plummet, there is growing concern that the stockpiling may soon come to a halt, leading to further, painful drops in commodity prices."

Asian Stocks Drop as Weaker Earnings Fuel Valuation Concerns: "Asian stocks fell for the first time in three days and Chinese shares entered a so-called correction, amid concern a rally in equities had outpaced earnings prospects.

China May Delay Tightening as Exports, New Loans Drop (Update1): "The People’s Bank of China may delay tightening monetary policy until the fourth quarter after exports dropped in July, lending declined and investment growth slowed, economists said.

Exports fell 23 percent from a year earlier, the government said yesterday. Urban fixed-asset investment rose a less-than- estimated 32.9 percent in the first seven months from a year earlier. New loans plunged to 355.9 billion yuan ($52 billion), less than a quarter of advances in June.

China’s economy, which avoided following the U.S. and Europe into recession, is yet to cement a recovery as factories have too much capacity and shipments abroad are weakening, officials said this month. The nation’s $4 trillion yuan ($585 billion) stimulus package can’t completely offset slumping export demand, the commerce ministry said in Beijing today."

By: Financial Ninja


















近日不曾在媒體面前曝過光的劉德華,已身在吉隆坡爲朱爸爸盡最後的孝道, 透過朱家好友提供的有利消息證實,劉德華自周三以來一直都待在朱家守靈,與擁有24年深厚交情的朱家、朱麗倩‘共同進退’齊心分擔悲傷。


據知,劉德華在周三抵達吉隆坡前已‘周遊列國’,從香港出發的他爲了避開全城狗仔隊的跟踪,先 是買了國泰航空的機票卻沒上機,反而轉飛往泰國曼谷,再從曼谷乘搭泰國航空飛來大馬吉隆坡。這一轉也成功把龐大‘採訪團’甩脫,以至所有媒體都撲空,這一 招聲東擊西搞得各地媒體團團轉、游花園,不愧天王,對付狗仔隊自有一手。





自周三開始,大馬、香港媒體都在追訪劉德華的行踪,過程中一直無從證實劉德華已身在朱家,直到 今日下午,朱家一名好友透露,劉德華這次的行程只帶了幾名備受信任的助手同行,從周三抵達至今,劉德華表現得沉默、話不多,全天候都只待在朱家2樓,沒在 其他範圍活動,也沒有與不相熟的親友多作接觸,顯得極爲低調。

另外,朱家也很謹愼,早已在住宅四周安排了受過特訓保安隊伍牢牢看守,從門口到露台、園子都有 保安把關,絶對做到閒人免進的地步。據有關朱家好友説,前天晩上‘闖關’的香港媒體剛步入靈堂就被保安識穿身份並逮住了,根本無法找到當時正在2樓的劉天 王。此外消息也説,劉德華已請演藝圈好友無需贈送花圈示意,低調的他‘心領’大家的好意。


其實,劉德華這此靜悄悄地來馬與敬愛的‘岳父’吿別全程都有迹可尋,據消息透露,所有前往朱家 的客人,活動範圍均只能在靈堂,除非是朱家家屬,否則均不容許進入房子內里,就連上厠所也不行,因此放在朱家外間的白色搭棚旁的臨時厠所就是爲大家而設。 那么嚴格、神秘,當然是爲嚴防任何人滋擾了‘天王親屬’。



Veteran At Town Hall Tells Congressman Boren: “Give Me Liberty or Death”

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Peter Schiff-Vlog-8/21/09-Raising the Debt Ceiling

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We saved the world from disaster, Fed's Bernanke says

Without strong action by central banks, recession would have been much worse

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) -- The global economy is now beginning to emerge from its worst crisis in generations, but the downturn might have been much worse if central banks hadn't acted so forcefully last fall, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said Friday.

In a speech at the Kansas City Fed's annual retreat in Jackson Hole, Wyo., Bernanke summarized a hellish year and explained modestly how he and his central bank colleagues saved the world from a bigger disaster. Read his full remarks.

"The world has been through the most severe financial crisis since the Great Depression," he said. "As severe as the economic impact has been, however, the outcome could have been decidedly worse."

Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve Board.

If the Fed, other central banks and other government leaders hadn't acted in a coordinated and aggressive way in September and October of 2008, "the resulting global downturn could have been extraordinarily deep and protracted," Bernanke said.

Bernanke spoke to a selected group of top policy makers and economists. His speech, however, was aimed at a much wider audience: The president, the Congress and a public that's angry and confused.

Bernanke's term as chairman of the Fed runs out in January, and the financial world is watching to see if President Barack Obama reappoints Bernanke or hands to job to someone else.

Past financial panics have exacted an "enormous toll in both human and economic terms," Bernanke said. "In this episode, by contrast, policymakers in the United States and around the globe responded with speed and force to arrest a rapidly deteriorating and dangerous situation."

The policy response "averted the imminent collapse of the global financial system, an outcome that seemed all too possible to the finance ministers and central bankers."

Action plan

Among the actions taken by the Fed and other central banks:

  • The Fed lowered interest rates to close to zero. Other central banks lowered rates as well.

  • Congress approved the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program to provide emergency financing to large banks. Other governments did the same with their banks.

  • Under the direction of the Group of Seven, government insurance for banks was expanded worldwide. Governments pledged to prevent the failure of systemically important banks, and they promised to provide adequate capital to the system.

  • The Fed created new facilities to "lend freely against sound collateral."

  • The Fed and other central banks began buying long-term debt issued by public and private institutions to inject liquidity to vital credit markets.

  • The Fed and the Treasury Department conducted a public "stress test" of large banks to determine their capital needs, which in turn was followed by significant increases in capital raised in private markets.

Bernanke's speech emphasized the policy response after the crisis erupted last September with the collapse of Lehman Bros. and the failure of other financial institutions, including Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, American International Group, Merrill Lynch and Wachovia.

His history of the crisis essentially begins in September 2008, and ignores the actions and decisions that led to disaster. Of the origins of the crisis, Bernanke's only remark was that, until just before the crisis, "there was little to suggest that market participants saw the financial situation as about to take a sharp turn for the worse."

Bernanke made almost no comments about the future course of the U.S. or global economies, other than repeating phrases from the latest communique from the Federal Open Market Committee that the economy seems to be leveling out. He cautioned that any recovery is likely to be gradual at first, with high unemployment.

Use of some of the Fed's liquidity programs has declined, he said, a "clear market signal that liquidity pressures are easing and market conditions are normalizing."

He said nothing about how the Fed would unwind its support for the banking system. That day seems to be in the distant future, however. "Although we have avoided the worst, difficult challenges still lie ahead,' including securing a sustainable economic recovery and rebuilding the institutional framework to make sure a similar crisis can be averted.

By Rex Nutting, MarketWatch
Rex Nutting is Washington bureau chief of MarketWatch.

U.S. Helps Spanish Company to Buy Texas Bank

Guaranty Bank, a deeply troubled Texas lender, was sold on Friday to Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria of Spain in one of the largest government-assisted deals offered to a foreign firm.

Federal regulators seized Guaranty Bank and simultaneously brokered the sale of its branches as well as most of the deposits and assets to BBVA Compass, the Spanish bank’s American subsidiary. The government, however, agreed to absorb most of the losses on $9.7 billion, or more than 80 percent, of the Guaranty assets included in the deal.

The failure is the fourth-largest since the financial crisis began, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation projects that it will cost its deposit insurance fund about $3 billion.

Regulators also arranged for the sales of three smaller banks in Alabama and Georgia on Friday, bringing the total number of bank failures so far this year to 81. That compares with only 25 bank failures in all of 2008.

News that BBVA had submitted the winning bid leaked out earlier this week, but regulators waited until late Friday to orchestrate the takeover. That may be another sign that confidence in the financial system is being restored, since in contrast to past leaks, regulators did not immediately seize the bank over fears of rumors stoking a bank run.

Stockholders in Guaranty Bank will be wiped out, but the deal ensures that its depositors will not suffer losses. Although BBVA did not take control of the failed bank’s $344 million of brokered deposits, the F.D.I.C. said that it would reimburse brokers directly for those funds.

The government also agreed to shoulder the bulk of the losses on all of Guaranty’s loans — a deal sweetener that the government has rarely extended to overseas buyers.

BBVA agreed to buy $12 billion of the $13 billion assets left at Guaranty Bank, which it will ultimately sell to private investors. The F.D.I.C. agreed to take on the remaining $1 billion of assets, as well as cover losses on the $9.7 billion pool of risky loans that BBVA bought. The agreement calls for the government to take on about 80 percent of the first $2.3 billion of losses, and 95 percent of the losses above that threshold.

Loss-sharing agreements have become a standard part of the F.D.I.C.’s toolkit for resolving troubled banks, but rarely have they covered such a big portion of a failed bank’s assets.

And seldom are they offered to foreign buyers. Indeed, it appears the last time that an overseas bank received federal assistance in a failed bank deal was when the Bank of Ireland scooped up four New Hampshire banks in September 1991.

Analysts say the BBVA deal may signal that the F.D.I.C. will be more open to bids from foreign banks. Many of the strongest American banks are occupied with deals they did last fall, while private equity firms have struggled to meet the high bar set by regulators. Weaker banks, meanwhile, have been hamstrung by their own losses. That has left regulators scrambling to drum up buyers.

José Maria Garcia Meyer, the head of BBVA’s American operations, said in a statement that the deal provided convincing evidence of the bank’s strength and stability during the current crisis. “This transaction further demonstrates BBVA’s clear commitment in building its U.S. franchise,” he added.

Along with its Spanish rival Banco Santander, BBVA has been ramping up its business in fast-growing American markets that have strong ties to Latin America. It made a series of expensive acquisitions in Texas over the last few years.

Guaranty, which is based in Austin, will add another 103 locations in Texas and 59 branches in California, where BBVA has been trying to establish a beachhead. That will give it a total of 767 locations in seven Sun Belt states and make it the nation’s 15th-largest commercial bank with about $49 billion in deposits.


Guaranty Bank of Austin, 81st bank failure of '09

SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) - Guaranty Bank of Austin, Tex. became the 81st bank failure of 2009 after it was closed by Office of Thrift Supervision, which appointed the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. as receiver, the federal agency said late Friday. The FDIC said it has entered into a "purchase and assumption agreement" with BBVA Compass of Birmingham, Ala. As of June 30, Guaranty Bank had total assets about $13 billion and total deposits of about $12 billion.

AP sources: $2 trillion higher deficit projected

The Obama administration expects the federal deficit over the next decade to be $2 trillion bigger than previously estimated, White House officials said Friday, a setback for a president already facing a Congress and public wary over spending.