Sunday, December 6, 2009

Obama Lied: Taliban Did Not Refuse to Hand Over Bin Laden

Obama slipped past a real doozy Tuesday night when he said the Taliban refused to hand over bin Laden. It just ain't so. They tried three times to open negotiations for this, but Bush refused each time. He wanted to bomb people so bad it hurt.

UK Guardian:

A senior Taliban minister has offered a last-minute deal to hand over Osama bin Laden during a secret visit to Islamabad, senior sources in Pakistan told the Guardian last night...

For the first time, the Taliban offered to hand over Bin Laden for trial in a country other than the US without asking to see evidence first in return for a halt to the bombing, a source close to Pakistan's military leadership said.

The Taliban have offered to hand over Bin Laden before but only if sufficient evidence was presented. Bin Laden is wanted both for the September 11 attacks and for masterminding the bombings of two US embassies in East Africa in 1998 in which 224 people were killed. He is also suspected of involvement in other terrorist attacks, including the suicide bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen last year.

But until now the Taliban regime has consistently said it has not seen any convincing evidence to implicate the Saudi dissident in any crime.

"Now they have agreed to hand him over to a third country without the evidence being presented in advance," the source close to the military said."

Combined with so unhesitatingly waving the Al Qaeda boogey-man to make his case, in a fashion Bush would have been proud of, (Al Qaeda isn't in Afghanistan) it all makes me mighty suspicious. The Taliban wasn't declared an enemy until after 9/11, even as we had evidence that bin Laden was behind the bombing of the USS Cole. That's because Bush's buddies were still hoping to get the contract for the oil pipeline, which the Taliban government was refusing to give them. These are just facts, I'm not even trying to make an argument here. But someone has to call them on these things.

The history is at the classic essay by Richard Behan which went viral on the internet soon after it was published (re-printed at ):

From its first days in office in January of 2001 the Administration of George W. Bush meant to launch military attacks against both Afghanistan and Iraq. The reasons had nothing to do with terrorism.

This is beyond dispute. The mainstream press has either ignored the story or missed it completely, but the Administration's congenital belligerence is fully documented elsewhere.

Attacking a sovereign nation unprovoked, however, directly violates the charter of the United Nations. It is an international crime. The Bush Administration would need credible justification to proceed with its plans.

The terrorist violence of September 11, 2001 provided a spectacular opportunity. In the cacophony of outrage and confusion, the Administration could conceal its intentions, disguise the true nature of its premeditated wars, and launch them. The opportunity was exploited in a heartbeat.

Within hours of the attacks, President Bush declared the U.S. "...would take the fight directly to the terrorists," and "...he announced to the world the United States would make no distinction between the terrorists and the states that harbor them." [1] Thus the "War on Terror" was born.

The "War on Terror" is patently fraudulent, but the essence of successful propaganda is repetition, and the Bush Administration has repeated its mantra endlessly:

The War on Terror was launched in response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. It is intended to enhance our national security at home, and to spread democracy in the Middle East.

This is the struggle of our lifetime; we are defending our way of life from an enemy intent on destroying our freedoms. We must fight the enemy in the Middle East, or we will fight him in our cities.

The Administration's campaign of propaganda has been a notable success. The characterization of today's war as a "fight against terrorists and states that support them" is generally accepted, rarely scrutinized, and virtually unchallenged, even by opponents of the war.

The fraudulence of the "War on Terror," however, is clearly revealed in the pattern of subsequent facts:

  1. In Afghanistan the state was overthrown instead of apprehending the terrorist: Osama bin Laden remains at large.
  1. In Iraq, when the U.S. invaded, there were no terrorists at all.
  1. Both states have been supplied with puppet governments, and both are dotted with permanent U.S. military bases in strategic proximity to their hydrocarbon assets.
  1. The U.S. embassy nearing completion in Baghdad is comprised of 21 multistory buildings on 104 acres of land. It will house 5,500 diplomats, staff, and families. It is ten times larger than any other U.S. embassy in the world, but we have yet to be told why.
  1. A 2006 National Intelligence Estimate shows the war in Iraq has exacerbated, not diminished, the threat of terrorism since 9/11.[2] If the "War on Terror" is not a deception, it is a disastrously counterproductive failure.
  1. Today two American and two British oil companies are poised to claim immense profits from 81% of Iraq's undeveloped crude oil reserves.[3] They cannot proceed, however, until the Iraqi Parliament enacts a statute known as the "hydrocarbon law."
  1. The features of postwar oil policy so heavily favoring the oil companies were crafted by the Bush Administration State Department in 2002, a year before the invasion.[4]
  1. Drafting of the law itself was begun during Paul Bremer's Coalition Provisional Authority, with the invited participation of the oil companies.[5] The law was written in English and translated into Arabic only when it was due for Iraqi approval.
  1. President Bush made passage of the hydrocarbon law a mandatory "benchmark" when he announced the troop surge in January of 2007...

FULL ESSAY Richard Behan (re-printed at

9-11 Was an Inside Job Perpetrated by Elements of the U.S. Government

"In a Time of Universal Deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." George Orwell

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Taibbi: Obama’s sellout to Wall Street creates ‘permanent bailout’
If passed as it is, the financial reform bill winding its way through Congress will create a “permanent bailout mechanism,” and will give complete control over future bailouts to the White House, says columnist Matt Taibbi.
In a video preview of an upcoming Rolling Stone article, Taibbi explained how the Obama administration started selling out to Wall Street interests almost as soon as the 2008 election was over.
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After months of debate, President Barack Obama will spell out a costly Afghanistan war expansion to a skeptical public Tuesday night, coupling an infusion of as many as 35,000 more troops with a vow that there will be no endless U.S. commitment. His first orders have already been made: at least one group of Marines who will be in place by Christmas.
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Although John Farmer's "The Ground Truth" has attracted a lot of favorable attention, it is a deeply flawed book, containing misleading claims and providing an extremely one-sided account of 9/11.
Much of the attention received by the book has been prompted by misleading claims made by Farmer and his publisher. The book's dust-jacket calls it the "definitive account" of 9/11, but it actually deals almost entirely with only one question about that day: why the airliners were not intercepted.
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Taibbi: Obama’s sellout to Wall Street creates ‘permanent bailout’

Taibbi: Obama’s sellout to Wall Street creates ‘permanent bailout’

David Edwards and Daniel Tencer
Raw Story
Friday, Dec 4th, 2009

If passed as it is, the financial reform bill winding its way through Congress will create a “permanent bailout mechanism,” and will give complete control over future bailouts to the White House, says columnist Matt Taibbi.

In a video preview of an upcoming Rolling Stone article, Taibbi explained how the Obama administration started selling out to Wall Street interests almost as soon as the 2008 election was over.

“The really big thing that’s in these bills that’s really, really scary is that it kind of outlines a permanent bailout mechanism,” Taibbi said. “If it survives in the way that it was originally conceived, it’s basically going to formalize an arrangement whereby the government is expected to bail out the top 20 to 25 largest financial companies. … It will be entirely up to the White House to determine whether or not these companies are in trouble in the future, so there won’t be any congressional role in deciding when and when not to give a bailout.”

Taibbi’s words echoed the concerns of some in Congress that, far from ensuring that America’s financial system will be healthy, the financial reform being proposed will make Wall Street more dependent on taxpayers than it is already.

US House Rep. Spencer Bachus, the ranking Republican on the House Financial Services Committee, said in October that the financial reform plan would create a “permanent bailout authority.” And Paul Volcker, the Jimmy Carter-appointed former head of the Federal Reserve who is widely credited with successfully fighting off inflation in the 1980s, said the Obama administration’s proposed financial reform would maintain the “too-big-to-fail” mentality and could lead to further bailouts.

Taibbi: Obama’s sellout to Wall Street creates ‘permanent bailout’ 121109banner2

Taibbi also said that President Barack Obama gave key economic positions away to Wall Street insiders instead of keeping on progressive voices from his presidential campaign.

During the campaign, Obama was primarily advised by people like Austan Goolsbee from University of Chicago and Karen Kornbluh who is a well known progressive economist. Obama gets elected, the very day he gets elected those people are basically off the team and he brings in a whole bunch of people from Wall Street.

Primarily he brings in his former college buddy Michael Froman who is a Harvard classmate of Obama’s. Froman was a high-ranking Citigroup executive. He puts Froman in charge on November 5th of running the economic transition team. He was in charge of hiring people for the White House to run economic policy.

Froman also brought in Jamie Rubin to be his number two. Rubin is the son of Bob Rubin who is a big Citigroup executive as well.

Rubin probably more than any other person — single person — was responsible for the financial crisis by deregulating the economy in the White House. He also had a major role in helping to destroy one of the world’s biggest companies. You know, Citigroup. He has like one of the worst track records you can possible find in the country and yet he was the guy who was basically the architect of the entire Obama policy. Obama put him in charge of everything. The crew that’s running the policy in the White House is basically all tied to Bob Rubin.

A couple of weeks after he hires these Citigroup people to run all those hires, they announced the Citigroup bailout which is a massive $300 billion giveaway to Citigroup…

Watch all of Matt Taibbi’s comments below. His full story is expected in the January edition of Rolling Stone.

Pay cut for two million Britons causes collapse in tax revenue

Almost two million Britons have accepted pay cuts or reduced hours to stave off unemployment, causing government income tax receipts to collapse by almost one fifth.

The Government is now facing the biggest peacetime deficit in history, and ministers will next week confirm they are likely to borrow close to £180 billion this year – the equivalent of the entire NHS and education budgets combined.

Alistair Darling, the Chancellor, will say in his pre-Budget report that the deficit is higher than expected because income tax receipts have been directly hit by the fall in wages.

Between April and October, the amount the Treasury received in income tax fell by 16 per cent – more than £17 billion – compared with the same period in 2008.

The Treasury calculates that 1.7 million people who might have been made redundant in the recession have been saved from the dole queue by taking a pay cut or shorter hours.

"This wage restraint is the reason why, in bald terms, there has been lower unemployment," one Treasury official said. "But the price we have paid is we have had less money coming in and therefore higher borrowing."

Officials have calculated that in the past year a third of all pay settlements between workers and their companies, affecting up to 10 million employees, were for pay freezes or below-inflation increases of a mere 1 per cent.

This proportion has never been so high: in the years preceding the recession, only one in 50 pay settlements was in that range.

Independent research has shown that, on top of this, around seven per cent of businesses were this year preparing to cut their workers' pay.

In addition to reduced full-time salary agreements, a number of major companies such as BT and KPMG have offered their workers sabbaticals in return for pay cuts.

Mr Darling will cite the shift to "more flexible working" next week as he declares that the Government's policies have helped prevent unemployment – currently 2.5 million or 7.8 per cent of the workforce – from reaching the peaks it did in previous recessions. However, the Treasury still expects unemployment to continue to increase next year.

Yesterday the steelmaker Corus announced that it was to axe 1,700 jobs as it cuts production at its Teesside plant.

John Philpott, of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, one of Britain's leading employment economists, said: "This is a shared pain recession, with the impact of the downturn spread throughout the workforce rather than falling solely on the jobless.

“Although the number of pay freezes will be moderate, it will be a continuing phenomenon right into next year, and perhaps beyond.”

The Chancellor will use Wednesday’s pre-Budget report to give warning that although the economy is expected to start growing again before the end of the year, Britain will this year record its biggest slide in economic output since comparable records began. He will forecast a fall in gross domestic product of 4.75 per cent, and only weak growth of 1.25 per cent next year.

He will risk causing instability in the markets by announcing that, far from drawing up more ambitious plans to cut the deficit as the Treasury had suggested in previous months, he will borrow more this year than originally expected.

But he will take just as long to start paying it back as was laid out earlier this year in the Budget. In a set-piece which is likely to kick off six months of campaigning ahead of next year’s general election, the Chancellor will focus on the extent to which the Government’s policies have prevented a Great Depression in Britain.

He will emphasise that Conservative plans to cut the deficit more dramatically would risk sending the country into a longer-lasting recession.

A spokesman for the Conservatives said the Government’s lack of a credible plan to deal with the deficit “will mean higher taxes and higher interest rates, undermining the recovery”.

The PBR is likely to opt for political positioning over good government,” the spokesman added.

AmTrust, Five Other U.S. Lenders Shut as 2009 Toll Reaches 130

Dec. 5 (Bloomberg) -- AmTrust Bank, a Cleveland-based lender with $12 billion in assets, joined five other U.S. banks in being seized by regulators as companies buckle under the weight of commercial real estate losses.

Closely held AmTrust collapsed alongside three banks in Georgia and one each in Virginia and Illinois, according to statements issued yesterday by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., which was named receiver. The failures will cost the FDIC’s deposit fund $2.38 billion, the agency said.

“The commercial real estate market is the big problem,” said James Barth, a former chief economist at the Office of Thrift Supervision. Office vacancy rates climbed to 13.3 percent nationally in the second quarter from 12.3 percent in the prior period, according to a CB Richard Ellis index.

With the closings, 130 U.S. lenders have collapsed this year. Banks are failing at the fastest pace in 17 years even as the U.S. economy shows signs of pulling out of the recession. The unemployment rate fell to 10 percent from 10.2 percent in October, according to figures from the Labor Department. The number of failed banks reached 179 in 1992.

“The unemployment rate is quite high, so unless there is a turnaround in sales you will see commercial real estate continue to suffer,” Barth said.

The following table lists the banks seized yesterday. Asset and deposit figures are in millions of U.S. dollars.

Failed Bank Buyer Assets Deposits

AmTrust Bank N.Y. Comm. Bank 12,000 8,000 Cleveland Westbury, N.Y.

Buckhead Comm. Bank State Bank & Trust 874 838 Atlanta Macon, Ga.

Greater Atlantic Bank Sonabank 203 179 Reston, Va. McLean, Va.

Benchmark Bank MB Financial Bank 170 181 Aurora, Ill. Chicago

First Security NB State Bank & Trust 128 123 Norcross, Ga. Macon, Ga.

Tattnall Bank HeritageBank 49.6 47.3 Reidsville, Ga. Albany, Ga.

A deeper look behind the jobless numbers

WASHINGTON - Within the vast pool of 15.4 million unemployed workers, a split is emerging: The number of long-term jobless — those out of work six months or longer — is growing, while the number of short-term unemployed is declining.

The trend highlights a considerable challenge for the economy and policymakers: finding a way for the millions of Americans laid off last fall and early this year to get back to work.

The data, buried in Friday's unemployment report, are stark: The number of Americans out of work for 27 weeks or more reached 5.9 million last month, the most on records dating from 1948. That's 18 percent more than just three months ago, when the total was just below 5 million.

The tally of those out of work for 14 weeks or less, however, has dropped to 6.3 million from 7.1 million in August, a decline of about 11 percent.

Looking at it another way, the long-term jobless now make up 38.3 percent of the unemployed population, not that far from the 41.1 percent accounted for by those out of work for 14 weeks or less. (The rest are in the 15-to-26 weeks bracket.)

That's a sharp change from August, when the short-term unemployed made up nearly half the total, while the longer-term jobless were only a third.

In some ways, the dichotomy is good news, in that it reflects a slowdown in layoffs. The Labor Department said Friday that employers cut a net total of 11,000 jobs in November, down from 111,000 the previous month. The unemployment rate dropped to 10 percent from 10.2 percent in October, the first decline since July.

That gives analysts hope the economy could begin generating jobs in the next few months, after shedding 7.2 million in the past two years.

Still, "new hiring may not be picking up all that much," said Lawrence Mishel, president of the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal think tank. "So what you're seeing is less people thrown into unemployment."

And without more jobs, the long-term unemployment problem is likely to linger. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has expressed concern that people caught in long spells of unemployment could see their skills atrophy.

"It really is the most difficult challenge facing us," he said in testimony to a Senate panel Thursday.

Here, by the numbers, are some more details you can find deep in the employment report.

Less than zero, but getting closer

  • 11,000: The net total of jobs lost in November
  • 111,000: Jobs lost in October
  • 139,000: Jobs lost in September
  • 691,000: Average monthly loss in first three months of this year
  • 7.2 million: Total decline in U.S. payrolls since recession began in December 2007

Unemployment still high

  • 10 percent: November's unemployment rate, in double digits for only the second time in 26 years
  • 10.2 percent: October's jobless rate, the highest since April 1983
  • 10.8 percent: Unemployment rate in December 1982, the highest since World War II

Where the jobs are

  • 52,400: The number of temporary jobs added in November, the biggest increase in five years
  • 11,100: Jobs added in education
  • 21,000: Jobs added in hospitals, nursing and other health care sectors
  • 1,000: Jobs added in computer services
  • 5,600: Jobs added in management and technical consulting
  • 7,500: Jobs added in department stores


  • 9.2 million: Number of part-time workers who would have preferred full-time work last month
  • 2.3 million: People without jobs who want to work but have stopped looking
  • 17.2 percent: "Underemployment" rate in November if you include the above two categories
  • 17.5 percent: Underemployment rate in October, the highest in records dating to 1994

The 'he-cession'

  • 10.5 percent: Unemployment rate for adult men
  • 7.9 percent: Unemployment rate for adult women

November unemployment rate by group

  • 11.4 percent: Female heads of households
  • 7.3 percent: Asians
  • 9.3 percent: Whites
  • 12.7 percent: Hispanics
  • 15.6 percent: Blacks
  • 26.7 percent: Teenagers
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

N.Korea military on guard against unrest: reports

SEOUL (AFP) – North Korea's military was on guard as public anger grew over the communist country's shock currency revaluation, reports said Thursday.

The revaluation implemented Monday has sparked fury and frustration as some citizens saw much of their savings wiped out, according to reports and observers.

They said the North had tightened security against possible agitation, with a curfew reportedly imposed in a border region and shops closed across the country during the changeover period to a new currency, which ends Sunday.

Military authorities have strengthened vigilance and are monitoring people's movements to forestall unrest, South Korea's Yonhap news agency said, citing North Korean merchants in China.

Media reports and embassies in Pyongyang said people had been given a week to exchange money at the rate of 100 old won for one new won -- but the total they can change is heavily restricted.

Reports said authorities initially limited the total sum that an individual can exchange for new currency to 100,000 won. The limit was later raised to 150,000 won in cash and 300,000 won in bank savings.

DailyNK, an online newspaper with informants in the North, said the rule has now been changed a second time.

It said the exchange rate is still 100:1 for the first 100,000 old won. But people can now change the rest of their money at a rate of 1,000:1.

The official exchange rate for the old currency was 135 to the dollar but the black market rate was between 2,000 and 3,000.

Analysts said the move, still not announced by official media, appears aimed at clamping down on burgeoning free markets in an attempt to reassert the regime's control.

"This move is part of Pyongyang's broader effort to curtail the rise of market activities and the development of pathways to wealth -- and potentially power -- beyond state control," Marcus Noland of the Peterson Institute for International Economics wrote in the Asian Wall Street Journal.

South Korea's Chosun Ilbo newspaper said North Koreans are publicly voicing their anger despite the increased presence of security agents on the streets.

"There are accounts of people loudly cursing the government in the markets in major cities," it said.

Prices of goods have soared but it is still unclear whether authorities will cut prices to match the new currency, the daily said.

The regime has already taken steps to curb free street markets. These sprang up after the national food distribution system collapsed during famines in the 1990s, but are now seen as threatening the state's grip.

"Residents are lamenting bitterly that this was the disaster they were talking about when people mentioned that this is the year of disaster," Kim Keun-Soo, a fruit trader in the northern border city of Sinuiju, told Good Friends.

The Seoul welfare group has extensive contacts in the North.

"I would not complain about it if they provided food rations. Nothing can stop people after starving for three days. I get depressed when I think of the bleak future."









































這19幅作品包括畢加索、梵高等巨匠的名作,藏於牛奶集團帕瑪拉公司(Parmalat)創辦人坦茲(Calisto Tanzi)的親屬家中。這批名畫早在帕瑪拉公司於2003年倒閉之前,就秘密收藏起來,因此公司清盤時並未紀錄在冊。

























































Seoul has own fears over US surge

SEOUL - United States President Barack Obama set off a wave of speculation in the South Korean capital when he declaimed before American troops at Osan Air Base, south of Seoul, last month that "many of you served in Iraq", "others served in Afghanistan", "others among you may deploy yet again" - and "every American appreciates what you are trying to do".

The troops, gathered in a large warehouse facility at the end of Obama's recent swing through Northeast Asia, cheered at the tributes to service in the Middle East, but remained politely silent at the mention of deploying "yet again". Where and why, some asked as the president took off on Air Force One, waiting nearby, to return to Washington.

South Korean politicos and planners were asking the same questions after Obama on Tuesday told another crowd of young American military people, the cadets at the United States Military Academy at West Point, that he was ordering another 30,000 troops to Afghanistan early next year. Would soldiers from US forces in South Korea be joining them, and did the Pentagon plan to replace them - or reduce American troop strength in the South from the current level of 28,500?

Neither the Americans in Korea nor Koreans in positions of power and influence quite believed the assurance from the Pentagon, made to top officials of South Korea's Defense Ministry before Obama's speech, that the US would not be sending troops from Korea to Afghanistan. They had heard that one several years ago, before the US deployed a brigade of the US Second Infantry Division to Iraq from the historic invasion route to Seoul, reducing US troop strength in the South to about 37,000.

Obama's remarks resonated in other ways too. Could he really be serious when he said the US would be withdrawing its forces from Afghanistan in a year and a half? He took care to argue that Afghanistan was not like Vietnam, where the US-backed South Vietnamese government fell to defeat two years after the Americans had pulled out. He did not, however, allude to Korea, where US troops have been guarding the South since the signing of the Korean War armistice in July 1953 ended the bloodiest conflict in northeast Asian history.

The future of the US in Afghanistan appears if anything as clouded as it ever was, and still is, in Korea. The two cabinet secretaries who should know the answers, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, both waffled when members of a US congressional committee asked them how firm was that 18-month commitment. Talk about "review" and "circumstances" permeated their vague responses.

Similar responses would dominate the US position in South Korea, where almost any scenario seems possible. Special envoy Stephen Bosworth is preparing to visit North Korea next week on a mission that's superficially intended to draw North Korea back into six-party talks on its nuclear weapons program, but here are two things that nobody in his (or her, thank you, Hillary) right mind is about to believe.

The first is that North Korea, in yet another carefully wrought "agreement", will honestly do away with its nukes. Please. Dear Leader Kim Jong-il's pride, power, even his position, rest on his boast that he's made North Korea a nuclear power. Whatever else emerges from six-party talks, it will not be a "nuclear-free" North Korea.

Second, is that Bosworth, while in Pyongyang, will spend his whole time there saying that North Korea must attend six-party talks or else.

Bosworth's visit was originally to have been for only one night, from December 8 to December 9, but now the State Department is saying that he will stay there until December 10. The last place Bosworth will stop off before going to Pyongyang is Seoul, and the first capital he'll visit after the trip will also be Seoul.

He will have a lot of explaining to do about what he's actually said in all that time there. Clearly, in the context of six-party talks, Bosworth is going to remind the North Koreans of all the good things they can count on, on the sidelines of six-party talks, if they'll only live up to their previous agreements on giving up their entire nuclear program.

Bosworth may even find a way to hint at the "peace treaty" that North Korea wants in place of the Korean War armistice and the possibilities of diplomatic relations between Pyongyang and Washington. Such talk is anathema in Seoul, where everyone from think-tank analysts to government officials will tell you North Korea is engaging in one great con game to get the US to pull out all its troops without giving up a thing, notably its weapons of mass destruction.

North Korean gamesmanship is extremely hard to figure. While appearing to soften its position in recent weeks, in the run-up to the Bosworth mission, Kim Jong-il late last month received Chinese Defense Minister Liang Guanglie.

Presumably, Liang was armed with more than vague declarations about how China and North Korea were bound as close as "the lips to the teeth", to use one hoary phrase from Chinese propaganda. He may have come with promises of military equipment to replace some of North Korea's outdated, broken-down gear, and he may also have discussed what to do to match the shiny new stuff that South Korea is acquiring from the US or making on its own for its increasingly modern defense establishment.

Memories of Chinese support for North Korea during the Korean War have faded, but they explain why South Korean policy-makers worry whenever there's another sign of an American pullback - or concessions in talks with North Korea that everyone knows will go nowhere.

The fact that Liang's trip followed closely on that of China's Premier Wen Jiabao certainly suggested ongoing Chinese support for Kim Jong-il's rule, despite United Nations sanctions imposed after North Korea's second nuclear test on May 25.

No way is China going to do anything that might precipitate the North's collapse.

Kim Jong-il, however, faces problems at home that go beyond the hunger and disease that never go away - or even his apparent commitment to establish his third son as his successor.

Redenomination of the North Korean currency - it was announced this week that two zeros have been cut from the value of banknotes - has, according to reports spread in Seoul, panicked a small but rising middle-class that hoped to one-day change the near-useless North Korean won they had hoarded into Western currency or Chinese yuan. There were reports, not substantiated but widely quoted in the absence of any harder evidence, of suicides, protests, even killings in Pyongyang.

North Korea's upper-upper class, the elite around Kim Jong-il and his top aides, are assumed to have squirreled away hard-currency for years, while most North Koreans have so little money that currency devaluation means nothing. However, a restive middle-class of low-level traders and officials, living off a black-market that the regime wants to wipe out, poses a challenge that cannot be curbed so easily by mass arrests.

North Korea said nothing about the currency change, but Pyongyang's Korean Central News Agency praised the Korean people, "demonstrating their mental power of self-regeneration and fight against hardships" for "strenuous efforts to build a strong, prosperous and powerful socialist nation". The commentary made an unusual acknowledgement, saying there were "quite a few things that are still in shortage" but "nothing is impossible for the Korean people".

Bosworth, in his two days in Pyongyang, may hear about some of the problems, indirectly, by inference, in official talks and perhaps directly from diplomats from other countries if he's able to spend time with them. North Korea will doubtless want to drag out talks with the US, perhaps calling for a second round, but is not exactly negotiating from a position of strength.

Under the circumstances, it's always possible, as the US extends and extends again its presence in Afghanistan that Obama's words to the troops here about deploying "yet again", reducing the American troop presence in the South, will prove to have been a serious portent. Certainly, North Korean strategists and mind-readers of US policy-makers would hope so as they gird to make Bosworth the next victim of their skills.

By Donald Kirk

17 million Americans have no bank account

And another 18% that do still use non-traditional banking services like pawn shops and payday lenders, according to FDIC survey.

NEW YORK ( -- New York State is known as the nation's financial capital, yet nearly one in 10 of its residents do not have a checking or savings account.

And while Texas is densely populated with banks, nearly a quarter of households in the Dallas-Forth Worth area have gone to a pawn shop or check cashing company recently to carry out a simple financial transaction.

Those were just a few of the findings of a new government survey released Wednesday on Americans' access to basic banking services.

The survey, which tallied responses from roughly 54,000 U.S. households, marks the first time that the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. has published such data.

Perhaps one of the biggest revelations of the study was that approximately 7.7% of all U.S. households, or 17 million Americans, were considered "unbanked," meaning they did not have any sort of a checking or savings account.

The most common reason cited, according to the study, was a lack of funds. More than a third of those considered "unbanked" said they did not have enough cash to warrant having a bank account.

In fact, nearly 20% of all U.S. households earning $30,000 or less per year did not have a bank account.

The study also found that almost a quarter of all households headed by someone who didn't finish high school were considered "unbanked." Meanwhile, nearly one of every five African-American or Hispanic households do not have a checking or savings account, according to FDIC data.

Another key finding of Wednesday's survey, was that many Americans that actually have bank accounts still look elsewhere to cash their checks or borrow money.

In fact, nearly 18% of all U.S. households have relied on payday lenders, pawn shops or check-cashing outlets at least once in the past five years.

Such businesses have often been criticized for charging consumers rates that would even make loan sharks blush. In some instances, borrowers pay the equivalent of an annualized interest rate as high as 500%.

People who were polled, however, said they continued to use these services simply because they were convenient or because it was easier to get a loan from them.

Hoping to migrate consumers away from such expensive options, the FDIC has enacted a number of initiatives including a short-term loan pilot program it launched in February 2008.

As part of the program, a select group of banks have agreed to offer short-term loans of up to $2,500 to low-income Americans.

Wednesday's survey report was yet another effort to expand consumers' access to basic financial services, agency officials said.

"By better understanding the households that make up this group -- who they are and their reasons for being unbanked or underbanked, we will be better positioned to help them take that first step," FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair said in a statement. To top of page

Who Really Are The Rothschild Family

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Americans Financially Unable to Meet Current Debt Payments. 85 Percent of Chapter 7 Filings are Classified as No-Assets.

The U.S. Courts released data last week closing out the 2009 fiscal year. In the release we find that bankruptcy filings are up 100+ percent from 2007. No other economic vehicle shows deeper signs of financial strain than bankruptcy. Bankruptcy is the end of the road for many Americans. Although businesses file for bankruptcy as well the vast majority of filings come from individuals simply not able to meet the demands of their monthly payments. Average Americans are looking at the recovery talks but the reality on the street is much different.

Bankruptcy isn’t a new concept. In fact it has its roots in English law dating back to 1542 under the reign of Henry the VIII. The first laws of bankruptcy were designed to protect the creditor, not the debtor. The creditor had the right to seize all the possessions of the debtor and the debtor also lost his freedom by imprisonment if he failed to pay his debt. Families were left struggling to pay for this debt over multi-generations. Many in the 1700s that were released from debtors’ prison left England and immigrated to places like Georgia and Texas in what came to be known as debtors’ colonies. We have come a long way from that point in history.

Bankruptcy happens for a variety of reasons including loss of job, divorce, medical, and simply being unable to meet the new terms of onerous debt. Many credit card companies jacking rates up to 79.99 percent or suddenly setting up traps for consumers only help to accelerate the growing trend in bankruptcies.

In 2005, the bankruptcy code was redesigned by the banking oligarchs to stick it to the average American yet again. That is why if we look at quarterly filings, we see an enormous spike in 2005 before the modern debtors’ prison made its way back:


The spike above is enormous because this happened in a supposedly booming economic time. Since bankruptcy always involves debt, this bubble decade induced by debt was a perfect breeding ground for bankruptcy. Many unable to pay their debts saw the writing on the wall and filed before the new law took effect in 2006. Even with the new stringent measures bankruptcy filings have been soaring and are now up 104 percent from 2007. This is happening because 27 million Americans are unemployed or underemployed and it is hard to squeeze any payment out of someone with no income.

65 percent of all U.S. consumer filed bankruptcies are Chapter 7 cases. In a Chapter 7, the individual surrenders their non-exempt property to a trustee that then liquidates the unsecured property. Usually a home is protected in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. That is, unless a home is underwater and is the financial reason for bankruptcy. In that case, many homeowners will simply allow the home to go into foreclosure and with 300,000 foreclosure filings a month this is what is happening. After the unsecured property is liquidated, the debtor usually has much of the debt discharged.

But what happened in 2005 was a “means test” was added to the bankruptcy process. Someone that failed to meet the means test would have their case dismissed and possibly have their case converted into a Chapter 13. With Chapter 13, the debtor still holds onto the property but needs to allocate a portion of their income to debt repayment. If you want to look at the HAMP program that is trying to rework hundreds of thousands of mortgages, this is a mini Chapter 13. On the surface it sounds good. But in reality, this is only a method of siphoning off more money from struggling debtors by the banking oligarchy. The average American in many of these cases is simply unable to pay their debts. A large reason for our economic problems stems from too much debt given to too many people. On a yearly basis bankruptcy filings are still rolling up:


Now if things were recovering why would bankruptcies still be going up? The fact of the matter is that many Americans are seeing nothing of the recovery. The fact that many of the cases are Chapter 7 means that even with the more stringent means tests, many simply do not have the means to pay their debts. A program like HAMP, in states where housing has fallen by 30, 40, or even 50 percent is a Chapter 13 for a home. On the surface it looks like a helping hand to a homeowner in distress. But in reality, it is a way for banks to protect their bottom line without confronting the massive onslaught of foreclosures that would result. The borrower in many cases is still struggling but the banks at least have a little bit of cash flow from the place and can claim the home is still worth the inflated asset value they secured a note with.

Things are so tough, that you have people asking if they don’t have to pay bills to companies that have filed bankruptcy:

“(Cleveland) The fact that the retailer went broke does not mean that its credit customers get to keep the merchandise they have not yet fully paid for,” says Cleveland bankruptcy attorney Richard Nemeth.

He says that, if you haven’t already, you can expect to hear from the court-appointed trustee, who will request you pay the loan as agreed.

You should, however, be able to reduce the loan balance by the cost of the soon-to-be-worthless extended service plan.

These kinds of extended service plans usually involve simple maintenance like cleanings and prong-tightenings, and they may cover lost stones.”

I know some think that people that file for bankruptcy at times are trying to game the system. This is just another myth perpetuated by the corporate welfare banking system. In fact, according to the ABA over 85 percent of Chapter 7 filings are “no-asset filings” meaning there are no assets for creditors to go after to recover the debt. Average Americans are still struggling with the real problems of the real economy.

So it should come as no surprise that bankruptcy filings are still trending up. Without employers hiring and unemployment still high, we can expect more and more Americans to reach the end of their rope. But also, with $3 trillion in commercial real estate coming due in the next five years starting in 2010 we will expect many businesses to also file for bankruptcy protection. The real economy is telling us something very different from the stock ticker.

Al Gore Should LOSE HIS OSCAR! - ClimateGate with Hannity & Sen Inhofe

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Jesse Ventura - "Afghanistan is Vietnam all over again"

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WeAreChange NYC confronts Al Gore

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