Monday, February 15, 2010

More Homeless Americans Living in Cars and Campers

Tim Barker never thought he'd have to live in his truck. Four months ago, the plumber was in a one-bedroom apartment in California's San Fernando Valley, with a pool and a Jacuzzi. Then, on his birthday in October, he and 199 other plumbers were laid off by their union, Local 761 in Burbank. Now Barker's son sleeps on the sofa of his cousin's one-bedroom Hollywood apartment, and Barker sleeps on the roof of the apartment building - or in his 2003 Ford Ranger pickup. "I'm 47, and I've never lived in my car," says Barker, a husky 220-lb. single father with sandy hair and a rapid-fire voice. In January, as torrential rains pelted the streets of Southern California, father and son were sleeping in the truck in San Pedro, next to the Los Angeles Harbor. "We were able to spend four nights in the Vagabond Motel, but for two nights we slept in the car," says Barker. "It was raining, cold, and the cat was jumping on us. We both got sick."

For people who cannot afford rent, a car is the last rung of dignity and sanity above the despair of the streets. A home on wheels is a classic American affair, from the wagon train to the RV. Now, for some formerly upwardly mobile Americans, the economic storm has turned the backseat or the rear of the van into the bedroom. "We found six people sleeping in their cars on an overnight police ride-along in December," says John Edmund, chief of staff to Long Beach councilman Dee Andrews. "One was a widow living in a four-door sedan. She and her husband had been Air Force veterans. She did not know about the agencies that could help her. I had tears in my eyes afterwards." (See TIME's photo-essay "The American Economy: Down and Out.")

"Cars are the new homeless shelters," says Joel John Roberts, CEO of PATH (People Assisting the Homeless) Partners, the largest provider of services for the homeless in Los Angeles County, which had nearly 50,000 people homeless in 2009. Of these, experts estimate that up to 10% live in vehicles - even though doing so is illegal in most of the county. A similar situation is true for many other regions across the nation, especially in the Sun Belt. A woman lives in her BMW in Marina Del Rey, a swank L.A. address on the coast. PATH outreach workers Jorge Guzman and Tomasz Babiszkiewicz say she was an executive recruiter until the Great Recession. "She was self-employed for 36 years," says Guzman. "Now she sits in the car with a blanket and reads. She has not told her daughter." (See the 50 worst cars of all time.)

Barker, the out-of-work plumber, has checked out shelters, motels and homeless-assistance programs throughout the Los Angeles area as he scrambles to find a roof for his son and him to sleep under. "We went down to a shelter in downtown, but it was bad - heroin, crack, smells. Randy looked at me and said, 'Dad, get me out of here. It's spooky.' Now I am trying to get assistance to get into an apartment in San Pedro so Randy can get back in school." PATH outreach workers are talking to Barker about his possible eligibility for federal assistance with rent and utilities under the new federal homelessness-prevention program. (See how the new federal homelessness-prevention program works.)

One problem Barker has discovered with living in a pickup truck is keeping track of things. "My cousin is our ace in the hole," Barker says as he stands in a crowded one-bedroom apartment that has seen better days. On his cousin's cluttered coffee table sits a worn yellow briefcase covered with union stickers; it's stuffed with unemployment forms, birth certificates, old utility bills and school application papers for Randy, a skinny 12-year-old who loves basketball. (Is 1 in 50 American kids homeless?)

People who fall into homelessness say it feels like a spiral. A layoff, a medical emergency or a domestic quarrel sets off a chain reaction of bad luck. And the risk of falling into the economic abyss has increased, even in better times. Writing before the housing bubble burst and Wall Street collapsed, Yale political scientist Jacob Hacker showed that the big difference between 30 years ago and today is the dramatic growth in income volatility. American family incomes now rise and fall much more sharply from year to year, and this is happening at the same time that public and private safety nets have eroded.

See pictures of the recession of 1958.

See pictures of Americans in their homes.

Some of the floating economic refugees, especially those from the middle and working classes, "do not think of themselves as homeless," says Susan Price, director of homeless services in Long Beach. "They think, 'I'm not that. I am just living in my car.' " In fact, living in your car counts as being homeless, according to the Federal Government. Peggy, 58, who lives in a small RV on a quiet Hollywood side street, says, "If I had known how hard it is to be homeless and how hard it is to escape, I would have called all my friends to ask for help. But I was embarrassed." She was laid off from her telemarketing job in January 2009. "It was the same day that 76,000 people were laid off. I did not feel alone. I liked my job. It was within walking distance of my apartment." Her mother gave her the nearly 20-year-old RV that houses Peggy and her dog Fluffy. Wearing tennis shoes and a leather jacket, Peggy says she misses her apartment but enjoys still being in the neighborhood. "I sweep the sidewalk and pick up the trash," she says. "There is a real sense of community here." (See more about the homeless.)

"I know I am homeless," says Agnes Cooper, 58, who parks her silver 2006 Chevy HHR hatchback at a local gym in Phoenix. "If [the managers of the gym] know, they haven't said, and I have not asked permission. When I first slept in my car, I was parking at a Burger King, but the young kids made fun of me, and I am not accustomed to children being disrespectful." Cooper says her passenger seat folds down flat and she sleeps well. She works out and showers every morning and says the gym is "the best thing that ever happened to my body." A series of physical ailments to her back, legs and wrists caused her to stop working as a registered nurse; that, coupled with the death of her husband, forced her from her apartment.

Cooper says she faces a choice. She receives $909 a month in Social Security. After her bills, she has $289 left, plus the $100 she now pays for storage. She could spend that money to move into subsidized housing, but if she did, then she would be nearly broke: little money for food, no money to give at Sunday services, no money to buy her grandchildren gifts and no money to give to others in need - things she does on a regular basis. Now that her health has improved and her back is stronger, she hopes she can go back to work, at least part time. (See how the new federal homelessness-prevention program works.)

Cooper's situation will be stable until she loses her car. Price says, "When people can no longer can afford to register their car and the police tow it, then people are on the street. That is the last rung. The towing and impounding charges are steep, and frequently people lose everything." Rudy Salinas, who directs the PATH outreach team in Los Angeles, says, "Allowing people to park on the street is a short-term solution. It is great for tonight, but not for next year."

"It's no fun living in your car," says Mike, a lighting specialist in the Los Angeles entertainment industry who has been out of work for a year. One of his last jobs was the Academy Awards show. "I don't have a job right now, in part because of my situation. Did you know that 50% of people who are homeless and living in their cars have jobs?" He keeps his vehicle registration current and parks his van on side streets on L.A.'s west side and in the San Fernando Valley. "You want to park where it is safe and inconspicuous. Not a busy street where someone might plow into you, and not a place where the bums will bother you," Mike says. "If the police hassle you, they'll impound your car and you'll lose everything. I don't want to find out."

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Carbon Currency: A New Beginning for Technocracy?


Critics who think that the U.S. dollar will be replaced by some new global currency are perhaps thinking too small.

On the world horizon looms a new global currency that could replace all paper currencies and the economic system upon which they are based.

The new currency, simply called Carbon Currency, is designed to support a revolutionary new economic system based on energy (production, and consumption), instead of price. Our current price-based economic system and its related currencies that have supported capitalism, socialism, fascism and communism, is being herded to the slaughterhouse in order to make way for a new carbon-based world.

It is plainly evident that the world is laboring under a dying system of price-based economics as evidenced by the rapid decline of paper currencies. The era of fiat (irredeemable paper currency) was introduced in 1971 when President Richard Nixon decoupled the U.S. dollar from gold. Because the dollar-turned-fiat was the world’s primary reserve asset, all other currencies eventually followed suit, leaving us today with a global sea of paper that is increasingly undesired, unstable, unusable.

The deathly economic state of today’s world is a direct reflection of the sum of its sick and dying currencies, but this could soon change.

Forces are already at work to position a new Carbon Currency as the ultimate solution to global calls for poverty reduction, population control, environmental control, global warming, energy allocation and blanket distribution of economic wealth.

Unfortunately for individual people living in this new system, it will also require authoritarian and centralized control over all aspects of life, from cradle to grave.

What is Carbon Currency and how does it work? In a nutshell, Carbon Currency will be based on the regular allocation of available energy to the people of the world. If not used within a period of time, the Currency will expire (like monthly minutes on your cell phone plan) so that the same people can receive a new allocation based on new energy production quotas for the next period.

Because the energy supply chain is already dominated by the global elite, setting energy production quotas will limit the amount of Carbon Currency in circulation at any one time. It will also naturally limit manufacturing, food production and people movement.

Local currencies could remain in play for a time, but they would eventually wither and be fully replaced by the Carbon Currency, much the same way that the Euro displaced individual European currencies over a period of time.

Sounds very modern in concept, doesn’t it? In fact, these ideas date back to the 1930’s when hundreds of thousands of U.S. citizens were embracing a new political ideology called Technocracy and the promise it held for a better life. Even now-classic literature was heavily influenced by Technocracy: George Orwell’s 1984, H.G. Well’s The Shape of Things to Come and Huxley’s “scientific dictatorship” in Brave New World.

This paper investigates the rebirth of Technocracy and its potential to recast the New World Order into something truly “new” and also totally unexpected by the vast majority of modern critics.


Philosophically, Technocracy found it roots in the scientific autocracy of Henri de Saint-Simon (1760-1825) and in the positivism of Auguste Comte (1798- 1857), the father of the social sciences. Positivism elevated science and the scientific method above metaphysical revelation. Technocrats embraced positivism because they believed that social progress was possible only through science and technology. [Schunk, Learning Theories: An Educational Perspective, 5th, 315]

The social movement of Technocracy, with its energy-based accounting system, can be traced back to the 1930’s when an obscure group of engineers and scientists offered it as a solution to the Great Depression.

imageThe principal scientist behind Technocracy was M. King Hubbert, a young geoscientist who would later (in 1948-1956) invent the now-famous Peak Oil Theory, also known as the Hubbert Peak Theory. Hubbert stated that the discovery of new energy reserves and their production would be outstripped by usage, thereby eventually causing economic and social havoc. Many modern followers of Peak Oil Theory believe that the 2007-2009 global recession was exacerbated in part by record oil prices that reflected validity of the theory.

Hubbert received all of his higher education at the University of Chicago, graduating with a PhD in 1937, and later taught geophysics at Columbia University. He was highly acclaimed throughout his career, receiving many honors such as the Rockefeller Public Service Award in 1977.

In 1933, Hubbert and Howard Scott formed an organization called Technocracy, Inc. Technocracy is derived from the Greek words “techne” meaning skill and “kratos”, meaning rule. Thus, it is government by skilled engineers, scientists and technicians as opposed to elected officials. It was opposed to all other forms of government, including communism, socialism and fascism, all of which function with a price-based economy.

As founders of the organization and political movement called Technocracy, Inc., Hubbert and Scott also co-authored Technocracy Study Course in 1934. This book serves as the “bible” of Technocracy and is the root document to which most all modern technocratic thinking can be traced.

Technocracy postulated that only scientists and engineers were capable of running a complex, technology-based society. Because technology, they reasoned, changed the social nature of societies, previous methods of government and economy were made obsolete. They disdained politicians and bureaucrats, who they viewed as incompetent. By utilizing the scientific method and scientific management techniques, Technocrats hoped to squeeze the massive inefficiencies out of running a society, thereby providing more benefits for all members of society while consuming less resources.

The other integral part of Technocracy was to implement an economic system based on energy allocation rather than price. They proposed to replace traditional money with Energy Credits.

Their keen focus on the efficient use of energy is likely the first hint of a sustained ecological/environmental movement in the United States. Technocracy Study Course stated, for instance,

Although it (the earth) is not an isolated system the changes in the configuration of matter on the earth, such as the erosion of soil, the making of mountains, the burning of coal and oil, and the mining of metals are all typical and characteristic examples of irreversible processes, involving in each case an increase of entropy. (Technocracy Study Course, Hubbert & Scott, p. 49)

Modern emphasis on curtailing carbon fuel consumption that causes global warming and CO2 emissions is essentially a product of early Technocratic thinking.

As scientists, Hubbert and Scott tried to explain (or justify) their arguments in terms of physics and the law of thermodynamics, which is the study of energy conversion between heat and mechanical work.

Entropy is a concept within thermodynamics that represents the amount of energy in a system that is no longer available for doing mechanical work. Entropy thus increases as matter and energy in the system degrade toward the ultimate state of inert uniformity.

In layman’s terms, entropy means once you use it, you lose it for good. Furthermore, the end state of entropy is “inert uniformity” where nothing takes place. Thus, if man uses up all the available energy and/or destroys the ecology, it cannot be repeated or restored ever again.

The Technocrat’s avoidance of social entropy is to increase the efficiency of society by the careful allocation of available energy and measuring subsequent output in order to find a state of “equilibrium,” or balance. Hubbert’s focus on entropy is evidenced by Technocracy, Inc.’s logo, the well-known Yin Yang symbol that depicts balance.

To facilitate this equilibrium between man and nature, Technocracy proposed that citizens would receive Energy Certificates in order to operate the economy:

“Energy Certificates are issued individually to every adult of the entire population… The record of one’s income and its rate of expenditure is kept by the Distribution Sequence, so that it is a simple matter at any time for the Distribution Sequence to ascertain the state of a given customer’s balance… When making purchases of either goods or services an individual surrenders the Energy Certificates properly identified and signed.

“The significance of this, from the point of view of knowledge of what is going on in the social system, and of social control, can best be appreciated when one surveys the whole system in perspective. First, one single organization is manning and operating the whole social mechanism. The same organization not only produces but also distributes all goods and services.

“With this information clearing continuously to a central headquarters we have a case exactly analogous to the control panel of a power plant, or the bridge of an ocean liner…” [Technocracy Study Course, Hubbert & Scott,p. 238-239]

Two key differences between price-based money and Energy Certificates are that a) money is generic to the holder while Certificates are individually registered to each citizen and b) money persists while Certificates expire. The latter facet would greatly hinder, if not altogether prevent, the accumulation of wealth and property.


At the start of WWII, Technocracy’s popularity dwindled as economic prosperity returned, however both the organization and its philosophy survived.

Today, there are two principal websites representing Technocracy in North America: Technocracy, Inc., located in Ferndale, Washington, is represented at A sister organization in Vancouver, British Columbia is Technocracy Vancouver, can be found at

While Technocracy’s original focus was exclusively on the North American continent, it is now growing rapidly in Europe and other industrialized nations.

For instance, the Network of European Technocrats was formed in 2005 as “an autonomous research and social movement that aims to explore and develop both the theory and design of technocracy.” The NET website claims to have members around the world.

Of course, a few minor league organizations and their websites cannot hope to create or implement a global energy policy, but it’s not because the ideas aren’t still alive and well.

A more likely influence on modern thinking is due to Hubbert’s Peak Oil Theory introduced in 1954. It has figured prominently in the ecological/environmental movement. In fact, the entire global warming movement indirectly sits on top of the Hubbert Peak Theory.

As the Canadian Association for the Club of Rome recently stated, “The issue of peak oil impinges directly on the climate change question.” (see John H. Walsh, “The Impending Twin Crisis – One Set of Solutions?, p.5.)

The Modern Proposal

Because of the connection between the environmental movement, global warming and the Technocratic concept of Energy Certificates, one would expect that a Carbon Currency would be suggested from that particular community, and in fact, this is the case.

In 1995, Judith Hanna wrote in New Scientist, “Toward a single carbon currency”, “My proposal is to set a global quota for fossil fuel combustion every year, and to share it equally between all the adults in the world.”

In 2004, the prestigious Harvard International Review published “A New Currency” and stated,

“For those keen to slow global warming, the most effective actions are in the creation of strong national carbon currencies For scholars and policymakers, the key task is to mine history for guides that are more useful. Global warming is considered an environmental issue, but its best solutions are not to be found in the canon of environmental law. Carbon’s ubiquity in the world economy demands that cost be a consideration in any regime to limit emissions. Indeed, emissions trading has been anointed king because it is the most responsive to cost. And since trading emissions for carbon is more akin to trading currency than eliminating a pollutant, policymakers should be looking at trade and finance with an eye to how carbon markets should be governed. We must anticipate the policy challenges that will arise as this bottom-up system emerges, including the governance of seams between each of the nascent trading systems, liability rules for bogus permits, and judicial cooperation. [Emphasis added]

HIR concludes that “after seven years of spinning wheels and wrong analogies, the international regime to control carbon is headed, albeit tentatively, down a productive path.”

In 2006, UK Environment Secretary David Miliband spoke to the Audit Commission Annual Lecture and flatly stated,

"Imagine a country where carbon becomes a new currency. We carry bankcards that store both pounds and carbon points. When we buy electricity, gas and fuel, we use our carbon points, as well as pounds. To help reduce carbon emissions, the Government would set limits on the amount of carbon that could be used." [Emphasis added]

In 2007, New York Times published “When Carbon Is Currency” by Hannah Fairfield. She pointedly stated “To build a carbon market, its originators must create a currency of carbon credits that participants can trade.”

PointCarbon, a leading global consultancy, is partnered with Bank of New York Mellon to assess rapidly growing carbon markets. In 2008 they published “Towards a Common Carbon Currency: Exploring the prospects for integrated global carbon markets.This report discusses both environmental and economic efficiency in a similar context as originally seen with Hubbert in 1933.

Finally, on November 9 2009, the Telegraph (UK) presented an article “Everyone in Britain could be given a personal ‘carbon allowance.’”

“… implementing individual carbon allowances for every person will be the most effective way of meeting the targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions. It would involve people being issued with a unique number which they would hand over when purchasing products that contribute to their carbon footprint, such as fuel, airline tickets and electricity. Like with a bank account, a statement would be sent out each month to help people keep track of what they are using. If their "carbon account" hits zero, they would have to pay to get more credits”. [Emphasis added]

As you can see, these references are hardly minor league in terms of either authorship or content. The undercurrent of early Technocratic thought has finally reached the shore where the waves are lapping at the beach.

Technocracy’s Energy Card Prototype

In July 1937 an article by Howard Scott in Technocracy Magazine described an Energy Distribution Card in great detail. It declared that using such an instrument as a means of accounting is a part of Technocracy’s proposed change in the course of how our socioeconomic system can be organized.”

imageScott further wrote,

“The certificate will be issued directly to the individual. It is nontransferable and nonnegotiable; therefore, it cannot be stolen, lost, loaned, borrowed, or given away. It is noncumulative; therefore, it cannot be saved, and it does not accrue or bear interest. It need not be spent but loses its validity after a designated time period.”

This may have seemed like science fiction in 1937, but today it is wholly achievable. In 2010 Technocracy, Inc. offers an updated idea of what such an Energy Distribution Card might look like. Their website states,

“It is now possible to use a plastic card similar to today’s credit card embedded with a microchip. This chip could contain all the information needed to create an energy distribution card as described in this booklet. Since the same information would be provided in whatever forms best suits the latest technology, however, the concept of an ‘Energy Distribution Card’ is what is explained here.”

If you study the card above, you will also note that is serves as a universal identity card and contains a microchip. This reflects Technocracy’s philosophy that each person in society must be meticulously monitored and accounted for in order to track what they consume in terms of energy, and also what they contribute to the manufacturing process.

Carbon Market Players

The modern system of carbon credits was an invention of the Kyoto Protocol and started to gain momentum in 2002 with the establishment of the first domestic economy-wide trading scheme in the U.K. After becoming international law in 2005, the trading market is now predicted to reach $3 trillion by 2020 or earlier.

Graciela Chichilnisky, director of the Columbia Consortium for Risk Management and a designer of the carbon credit text of the Kyoto Protocol, states that the carbon market “is therefore all about cash and trading – but it is also a way to a profitable and greener future.” (See Who Needs a Carbon Market?)

Who are the “traders” that provide the open door to all this profit? Currently leading the pack are JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley.

Bloomberg noted in Carbon Capitalists on December 4, 2009 that

“The banks are preparing to do with carbon what they’ve done before: design and market derivatives contracts that will help client companies hedge their price risk over the long term. They’re also ready to sell carbon-related financial products to outside investors.”

At JP Morgan, the woman who originally invented Credit Default Swaps, Blythe Masters, is now head of the department that will trade carbon credits for the bank.

Considering the sheer force of global banking giants behind carbon trading, it’s no wonder analysts are already predicting that the carbon market will soon dwarf all other commodities trading.


Where there is smoke, there is fire. Where there is talk, there is action.

If M. King Hubbert and other early architects of Technocracy were alive today, they would be very pleased to see the seeds of their ideas on energy allocation grow to bear fruit on such a large scale. In 1933, the technology didn’t exist to implement a system of Energy Certificates. However, with today’s ever-advancing computer technology, the entire world could easily be managed on a single computer.

This article intended to show that

  • Carbon Currency is not a new idea, but has deep roots in Technocracy
  • Carbon Currency has grown from a continental proposal to a global proposal
  • It has been consistently discussed over a long period of time
  • The participants include many prominent global leaders, banks and think-tanks
  • The context of these discussions have been very consistent
  • Today’s goals for implementing Carbon Currency are virtually identical to Technocracy’s original Energy Certificates goals.

Of course, a currency is merely a means to an end. Whoever controls the currency also controls the economy and the political structure that goes with it. Inquiry into what such a system might look like will be a future topic.

Technocracy and energy-based accounting are not idle or theoretical issues. If the global elite intends for Carbon Currency to supplant national currencies, then the world economic and political systems will also be fundamentally changed forever.

What Technocracy could not achieve during the Great Depression appears to have finally found traction in the Great Recession.

Bibliography & Resources

Scott & Hubbert, Technocracy Study Course, Technocracy, Inc., 1934

Hanna, Toward a single carbon currency, New Scientist, 1995

Victor & House, A New Currency, Harvard International Review, Summer 2004

Hannah Fairfield, When Carbon Is Currency, New York Times, May 6, 2007

M. King Hubbert & The Technocracy Technate Design – Historical blog

Everyone in Britain could be given a personal ‘carbon allowance’, Telegraph (UK)

Network of European Technocrats website for Europe

Technocracy, Inc. – website for U.S.

Technocracy Vancouver – website for Canada

Association for the study of Peak Oil & Gas – website for Peak Oil

Please add this page to your favorite Social Bookmarking websites…

The battle of 9/11’s ailing first responders

As Susan Edelman reported in the NY Post’s billable billions, the legal battle of ailing 9/11 first responders for compensation at Ground Zero will bring literally billions in billable hours to defense lawyers. These fees could amount to half of the money payable to some 10,000 first responders and recovery workers from toxic injuries, whose suits could total some $4 billion.

Of course, the workers were not racking up triple- to four-digit hourly fees plus expenses. They did get to inhale for some period of time Ground Zero’s toxic brew straight from Pandora’s open box. That would be . . .

  • Over 400 tons of asbestos, which inhaled in any quantity, cannot be expelled by the lungs.

  • 90,000 liters of jet fuel containing benzene, a carcinogen that suppresses the immune system and causes leukemia.

  • Mercury from over 500,000 fluorescent lights that is toxic to the nervous system, and damaging especially to the kidneys.

  • 200,000 pounds of lead and cadmium from personal computers toxic to the respiratory tract, especially damaging to kidneys.

  • Polycystic aromatic hydrocarbons that cause lung, laryngeal and throat cancers.

  • 130,000 gallons of transformer oil, which contains PCBs ad causes serious skin rashes and liver damage.

  • Crystalline Silica from 420,000 tons of concrete, sheetrock and glass (tiny particulates that lodge in the heart, causing ischemic heart disease).

The above facts come from filmmaker Heidi Dehncke’s amazing documentary, Dust to Dust: the health effects of 9/11. I reviewed this film in my article 9/11’s Second Round of Slaughter. In fact, some 2,500 contaminants erupted from the explosions of the World Trade Center that felled Towers One, Two and Seven, plus the two, fuel-laden jetliners, turning into a toxic gray dust that hung in the air as well as settled in people’s lungs, including first responders, and on area streets, vehicles, buildings, residences, both outside and inside the city for months.

You can add to the list of deadly pollutants the red dust of nanothermite, an explosive discovered in the pile by physicist Steven Jones and his team of scientists. The red dust, aerosolized from the military explosive thermite by nanotechnology, was likely sprayed on walls and girders within the Towers. Ironically, Tower 7, the third tower to go down, was not hit by an airliner to ignite the heat-sensitive thermite. Actually, T-7 came down at 5:20 PM at the request of the building owner, WTC lessee, Larry Silverstein. He claimed at 3 PM on 9/11 that there was so much pain and suffering that “we decided to pull it,” the term for a planned internal demolition by explosives. Yet, two hours and 20 minutes was not enough time to set up an internal demolition for that building. It had to be done well in advance. Not so surprisingly, the red nanothermite dust was found in the Tower 7 ruins as well.

The original pieces of red dust nanothermite were picked up and stored by dedicated 9/11 Truthers, one of whom, Jeanette MacKinlay, underwent brain surgery for a cancerous tumor on Wednesday in a Los Angeles hospital. May whatever force of truth and justice that we are blessed with be by her side and help her to recover. For, after all is said and done, these are the people who give their lives for truth and justice. Try to put a price tag on that.

You can find a highly detailed analysis of Tower 7’s demise in David Ray Griffin’s book, The Mysterious Collapse of World Trade Center 7, which I reviewed in Just Say No to NIST.

Returning to the lawyers for the plaintiffs, they also made a pile of money from the Victims Compensation Fund, which dispersed some $7 billion to victim families, with a similar payment schedule, a 30 to 40 percent cut of the settlements and judgments plus expenses. The VCP offered the option of a trial to sue or to take the money and hush up. Just about all of the families took the money. The 90 or so families that didn’t were “convinced” over some eight years to take the money.

So far, one family is struggling still for a trial, as is the ever-heroic Ellen Mariani, whom I have mentioned often. The hitch is Mrs. Mariani, whose husband Neil Mariani died on Flight 175, received neither a trial nor any money. This is probably because she brought both a “suit for wrongful death” and a subsequent RICO suit against George Bush and his administration. Both were rejected for “national security reasons.” Hardly a reason (besides vindictiveness) to then deny her the financial benefits non-challengers received.

The presiding judge, Alvin K. Hellerstein already “hopes he will settle as many cases as possible” without going to court. Funny, here is a judge to whom trials are anathema. What could it be that he and the court system fear so much about trials? Would the discoveries of trials send a lot of people to jail? Could it possibly have been an inside job, and the government is now totally occupied in a major CYA ops? Or is just one of those “conspiracy theories.” It would seem to this writer that the administration’s explanation of what happened on 9/11 was the real conspiracy theory.

Lest I digress, it’s a matter of “cui bono,” who profits, asking you to follow the money. And the big money, the billable billions, is with the big firms of defense attorneys, as it was with the airlines and their attorneys. Some $15 billion was doled out by the US government to the airlines, half in cash and half in tax credits and subsidies. Remember, too, hundreds of millions were made in the stock market on 9/11 in puts and calls, the puts for airline stocks to fall, the calls for defense stocks to rise. Somehow, many knew this would happen, because an inordinate number of individuals made big bucks on either puts or calls on 9/11.

We should also remember that it was FEMA and the EPA, both federal government agencies, that claimed it was safe for workers to toil in Ground Zero so quickly after 9/11, as it were all right for employees to return to their Wall Street jobs, and neighborhood residents to return to their dust-laden homes. This is why I titled my article, “9/11’s second round of slaughter,” one not so obvious but that surfaced later as a horrendous blowback the home-grown perpetrators neither banked on nor cared about.

Returning to the workers’ defense lawyers, the amount that they have already received to fight some 10,000 claims is close to $200 million, plus $75 million for “administrative expenses.” I’d love some accounting transparency on both figures. Yet, as Ms. Edelman points out, “How much money is up for grabs” from the remaining funds is the question. There is a $1 billion taxpayer fund that could be worth $3 billion with liability-insurance coverage. There is the WTC Captive Insurance Co., a nonprofit governed by Mayor Bloomberg, a managed $1 billion fund, including the $600 million and policies held by WTC contractors.

At the same time the fund spent $275 million from 2004 to Dec 31, 2009, “it doled out only $320,000 to five workers with minor injuries.” It’s no wonder “workers are livid.” Though the WTC insurance fund was down at $923 million at the end of December, and dwindling through its investments since 2004, “expenses” took another $28 million in the last three months of 2009 the records show. Yet “the fund recently won a $200 million settlement with city insurance companies to help cover legal expenses, which takes the total available to near $1.1 billion, though costs keep accruing.”

Edelman’s most interesting point is, if that amount were distributed today, it could mean an average of $100,000 per worker, “many of whom have suffered debilitating illnesses or died.” Having seen and met these damaged workers at WeAreChange benefits, I can safely say it is a heart-rending picture.

Yet the lawyers are out for “untold billions in liability insurance” to be squeezed out of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, the former owner of the Twin Towers, and from construction companies and a barge operator which transported all the evidence, i.e., rubble to Fresh Kills, from whence much of the steel was shipped to China to be smelted into oblivion, even returning in the keel of a Navy vessel to flaunt in our faces. That was the evidence of the largest crime scene in American history that was sent to the dump before any real investigation took place.

Given the levels of corruption, we now get some accusations via AP IMPACT that the first of the first responder cases include some with credibility problems. David Caruso writes, “As the first cases in a massive battle over illnesses linked to 9/11 near trial, an Associated Press investigation has found that several of the initial 30 suits contain inconsistent or exaggerated claims about how the workers got sick or how much time they spent at ground zero.

“One demolition worker who said he developed health problems after toiling for six months in the toxic ruins of the World Trade Center has actually been severely ill since the 1990s. In a previous medical malpractice case, he said he was so sick between 2000 and 2003 that he couldn’t work regularly. He never mentioned 9/11 during his testimony in that lawsuit.”

It turns out that in over 9,000 legal claims filed against New York City about 60 have gotten close scrutiny by the court. Thirty are now in consideration as candidates for trials in May. Judge Hellerstein will be cutting the number for the first trials to 12. He’s counting on them to form “a road map to settlements” for additional claims from rescue and recovery workers who claim they became ill after the city “failed to protect them from poisonous trade center ash.” One billion-plus dollars in damages are in the offing.

The truth is, as also documented in Dust to Dust, workers were not encouraged to even wear paper face masks, let alone respirators. Safety was the first casualty at the Ground Zero clean-up as Mayor Giuliani, who had 30 months (two and a half years) to complete the clean-up, pushed workers to work day and night to finish the project in a mere eight months. In sharp contrast, the first responders in Washington, D.C., had to wear respirators to work at the Pentagon disaster site, no excuses accepted. This was not mentioned in the AP article. This is not to say that there may not be some workers padding hours at Ground Zero, exaggerating illnesses or seeking more than they may deserve.

But I will bet my bottom dollar that the vast majority of these men and women gave unstintingly, and under a criminal push for speed. I honor them as heroes despite any “bad apples” that may turn up among the 10,000 workers. I would also advise those “apples” to straighten up and not dishonor their colleagues in opportunistic endeavors. Yet lord knows, seeing what they saw, hearing the explosions on that day, realizing those Towers were really going down in pre-planned internal demolitions, they had to suffer some loss of innocence in the line of duty, another tragic symptom.

Remember, in addition to the subsequent illnesses of the workers, some leading to death, you had the deaths of 343 firefighters and paramedics, and 78 police officers on that awful day, plus the nearly 3,000 civilians who perished. It had to be traumatic to any and all present on that day and after, not to mention to the world at large. If AP or any other bona fide organization wishes to further scrutinize workers’ applications for compensation, let them come forth and do so. No one should be sheltered from scrutiny as no one should be denied justice, including the dispensers of justice themselves and the Bush administration.

Jerry Mazza is a freelance writer and life-long resident of New York City. Reach him at His new book, State Of Shock: Poems from 9/11 on” is available at, Amazon or

Copyright © 1998-2007 Online Journal

What the New 9-11 Photos Show

Eight and a half years after 9-11, we are finally able to view the photos taken by a photographer in a New York City Police Department helicopter hovering over the scene of the crime. Why has it taken so long for these photos of the crime of the century to be released? What do these newly released photos tell us?

There is certainly a great deal of evidence contained in these hundreds of photographs, which will take some time to analyze, but one thing is very clear. The Twin Towers were turned into dust. The concrete and steel frame towers were reduced to immense clouds of dust and this was not caused by the potential energy of the buildings being released as they fell. The towers were pulverized through the use of many tons of super-thermite, which was discovered in the dust by Professor Steven E. Jones. Looking at these photos, one can see that the towers were exploded and turned into dust in the same instant. The photos validate the thesis, now proven, that the Twin Towers - and the lives within them - were destroyed by demolition charges and tons of super-thermite which had been applied to the concrete floors, probably on the undersides of the floor pans.

Go to
to see some of these photos

Links to my articles on the evidence of super-thermite in the dust of the World Trade Center are found at the bottom of this post.

Sources and Recommended Reading:

Facing the Evidence of Super-Thermite - Letters to the NY Times, CNN (Time Warner) and a Member of Congress, April 21, 2009

Super-Thermite Demolished Twin Towers on 9-11: Game Over for Criminals and Cover Up, April 14, 2009

Super-Thermite Found in World Trade Center Dust, April 5, 2009

Who Put Super-Thermite in the Twin Towers?, July 20, 2009

Game Over: Evidence of Super-Thermite in the Rubble (Chapter XIV, Solving 9-11), April 20, 2009

Israel's Super-Thermite Lab, August 26, 2009

Recipe for Making Super Thermite, August 5, 2009

Obama on the Run: U.S. VP Biden Flees Question on Super-Thermite, May 20, 2009

The Indymac Slap in our Face

Click this link ......

Sun & Climate Change

Click this link .....

The Great Global Warming Swindle

Click this link .....

British Council gets in on the climate act

Why is the British Council spending taxpayers' money on the recruiting of 100,000 "international climate champions", asks Christopher Booker

Last December, our television screens were filled with scenes of young demonstrators from all over the world parading through the streets of Copenhagen to call for action to halt global warming. Few people will have been aware, though, that they were being funded with the aid of millions of pounds from British taxpayers. What makes this even more curious is that the money was provided by a body set up to promote British culture internationally.

Last Sunday, when I reported on some of the ways in which an array of British ministries have poured hundreds of millions of pounds into projects related to climate change, I overlooked one branch of government which has been as active in the cause of saving the planet as any – the British Council, created more than 70 years ago to stage lectures on Shakespeare and Jane Austen, and to spread the use of the English language.

In recent years, however, on the initiative of Lord Kinnock when he was its chairman, the British Council has been hijacked to promote the need for action on climate change. In answer to a Freedom of Information request, we can now see some of the curious ways in which the British Council has been spending our money.

More than £3.5 million has gone on recruiting a worldwide network of young "climate activists" in over 70 countries to engage in climate change propaganda – what Marxists used to call agitprop – and to pressure their politicians to join the worldwide struggle. Under a programme called Challenge Europe, £1.1 million has been paid out to fund young "climate advocates" in 17 countries across Europe, including Britain itself. But £2.5 million has been spent on a more ambitious project to recruit a global network of 100,000 activists in 60 countries across the world, led by 1,300 young "International Climate Champions", to participate in "international peer networks, both in person and online, to share ideas, projects and experiences".

Of this sum, £303,093.24 went to China; £71,262.91 to Brazil; £53,006.25 to Japan; £70,132.88 to India (including £11,000 to Dr Pachauri's Teri institute); £77,507.89 to oil-rich Qatar; and £50,000 to the US. There was £120,000 for a dozen different countries in Africa, including £14,000 to fund climate champions in starving Zimbabwe.

All this, it is comforting to know, is being led by the climate-change activist Dr David Viner, formerly employed by East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit (the focus of the "Climategate" emails scandal), who is most famous for the prediction he made in 2001, that within a few years winter snow would become "a very rare and exciting event". No doubt the climate champions we are funding in the eastern US will have been grateful for our support last week as they tried to explain the several feet of snow across the region which broke records established in the 1880s. What it all has to do with Macbeth or Pride and Prejudice is something of a mystery.

CIA Admits Cold War Salvage of Soviet Nuclear Sub

A file photo from August 1975 showing the U.S. vessel Glomar Explorer off the coast of Catalina Island, California.

A file photo from August 1975 showing the U.S. vessel Glomar Explorer off the coast of Catalina Island, California.

WASHINGTON — In 1974, far out in the Pacific, a U.S. ship pretending to be a deep-sea mining vessel fished a sunken Soviet nuclear-armed submarine out of the ocean depths, took what it could of the wreck and made off to Hawaii with its purloined prize.

Now, Washington is owning up to Project Azorian, a brazen mission from the days of high-stakes — and high-seas — Cold War rivalry.

After more than 30 years of refusing to confirm the barest facts of what the world already knew, the CIA has released an internal account of Project Azorian, though with juicy details taken out. The account surfaced Friday at the hands of private researchers from the National Security Archive who used the Freedom of Information Act to achieve the declassification.

The document is a 50-page article quietly published in the fall 1985 edition of Studies in Intelligence, the CIA's in-house journal that outsiders rarely get to see.

In it, the CIA describes in chronological detail a mission of staggering expense and improbable engineering feats that culminated in August 1974 when the Hughes Glomar Explorer retrieved a portion of the submarine, K-129. The eccentric industrialist Howard Hughes lent his name to the project to give the ship cover as a commercial research vessel.

The Americans buried six lost Soviet mariners at sea, after retrieving their bodies in the salvage, and sailed off with a hard-won booty that turned out to be of questionable value.

Despite the declassified article, the greatest mysteries of Project Azorian remain buried five kilometers down and in CIA files: exactly what parts of the sub were retrieved, what intelligence was derived from them and whether the mission was a waste of time and money. Despite the veil over the project, its existence has been known for decades.

"It's a pretty meaty description of the operation from inception to death," said Matthew Aid, the researcher who had been seeking the article since 2007, when he learned of its publication thanks to a footnote he spotted in other documents. "But what's missing in the end is, what did we get for it? The answer is, we still don't know."

Much of the operation on the scene unfolded as Soviet vessels watched and sometimes buzzed the Glomar Explorer with helicopters. The Americans told the Soviets that they were conducting deep-sea mining experiments.

Journalists broke the story in 1975, led by Seymour Hersh, then of The New York Times, and columnist Jack Anderson. The CIA maintained its silence except for declassifying a videotape of the burial of the Soviet seamen that was turned over to President Boris Yeltsin in the early 1990s.

Now the CIA article, written by an unidentified participant in the operation, brings back to life a time of brinkmanship between two nuclear-armed superpowers as they raced to uncover each other's military secrets. That competition ranged from space, across continents, to the ocean depths.

For Washington, that meant sparing no expense to retrieve a mammoth vessel loaded with nuclear arms, codes and Soviet technology.

Yet the disclosed sections of the article hint that not much of value was found, just as long-ago reporting on the episode concluded.

It only claims "intangibly beneficial" results such as a boost in morale among intelligence officers and advances in heavy-lift technology at sea. The author argues that the value in mounting the operation was in proving it could be done — an assertion that does not point to a trove of intelligence.

"Lifting a submarine weighing approximately 1,750 tons from a depth of 16,500 feet [5,029 meters] had never been attempted or accomplished anywhere before," the article says. "A government or organization too timid to undertake calculable risks in pursuit of a proper objective would not be true to itself or to the people it serves."

To researchers, that sounds like bureaucratic justification for a project thought to have cost more than $1.5 billion in today's dollars.

Accounts vary about what was actually brought back. Years later, Russian officials concluded that the CIA recovered at least two nuclear-armed torpedoes, not much of a bounty. In other tellings, most of the vessel broke up and fell back to the ocean floor, yielding little. The article does not settle such questions.

Nor does it say why the submarine is thought to have gone down.

The saga began in March 1968 when K-129, carrying three ballistic missiles armed with nuclear warheads as well as its torpedoes, sank 2,510 kilometers northwest of Hawaii with all hands lost. It took six years to ready the Glomar Explorer, create a winching system and sail to the wreck.

The CIA article carefully recounts the engineering hurdles of the operation, discloses the fears of the U.S. crew that Soviets would try to land on the Glomar Explorer and confirms that plutonium contamination was found in the salvage, apparently leaking from retrieved torpedoes.

But much else on the salvage is redacted, and the CIA's story ends with the ship going to Hawaii, leaving out what was taken and its significance once investigated back on land.

Cut working week to 21 hours, urges think tank

The working week should be cut to 21 hours to help boost the economy and improve quality of life, a left-wing think tank has said.

The New Economics Foundation claimed in a report the reduction in hours would help to ease unemployment and overwork.

The think tank said people were working longer hours now than 30 years ago even though unemployment was at 2.5 million.

The foundation admitted people would earn less, but said they would have more time to carry out worthy tasks.

They would have better scope to look after children or other dependants, there would be more opportunity for civic duties, and older people could even delay retirement, it said.

'Better employees'

Anna Coote, co-author of the 21 Hours report, said: "So many of us live to work, work to earn, and earn to consume, and our consumption habits are squandering the earth's natural resources.

"Spending less time in paid work could help us to break this pattern. We'd have more time to be better parents, better citizens, better carers and better neighbours.

"We could even become better employees - less stressed, more in control, happier in our jobs and more productive.

"It is time to break the power of the old industrial clock, take back our lives and work for a sustainable future."

The foundation's policy director Andrew Simms added: "A cultural shift will throw up real challenges, but there could also be massive benefits for our economy, our quality of life and our planet.

"After all, hands up who wouldn't like a four day weekend?"

Lebanon’s next war may also be Syria’s

Lebanese Shia Hezbollah militants display their military might (AFP photo/Mahmoud Zayat)

Media reports in recent days have painted dire scenarios for what is, supposedly, the inevitable conflict between Israel and Hezbollah. Of particular note are persistent indicators that the next round, if or when it comes, will very likely involve Syria as well.

For quite a while now, the official position in Israel has been that the next war in Lebanon would be waged against the Lebanese state, not just against Hezbollah. The Israelis have also been warning Damascus that they would not tolerate Syria’s passing on to Hezbollah weaponry that might alter the military balance of power, namely air defense systems.

On that point, two recent reports are of interest. The first, in the Qatari daily Al-Watan a couple of weeks ago, quoted Syrian sources as saying that “there is a strategic decision taken by Damascus not to allow Israel to defeat the resistance movements.” One might have been tempted to dismiss this as rhetorical bluster, but another news report only a few days later called for a somewhat different assessment.

Speaking to the Kuwaiti daily Al-Rai al-Aam, an unnamed American official sent a shot across Syria’s bow, telling the newspaper that should Syria deliver to Hezbollah anti-aircraft missiles, “a war would doubtlessly break out, and this time Israel would strike targets in Damascus.” The official added that the Syrians, according to intelligence reports, had allowed Hezbollah fighters to train on the SA-2 anti-aircraft (AA) system on Syrian soil. Those accusations were repeated last weekend by Israel’s deputy foreign minister, Daniel Ayalon, after his meeting with Michael Williams, the United Nation’s special coordinator for Lebanon.

The SA-2 itself may not be much of a threat to the Israeli Air Force. However, another pair of Russian-made AA systems – the mobile Pantsir and the shoulder-fired Igla-S systems – would cause concern. Both Syria and Iran have been persistently trying to obtain them from Russia, with conflicting reports about whether the systems have been delivered. Nor is it clear if Hezbollah has gotten its hands on the weapons or not. From an Israeli standpoint, however, this would qualify as a casus belli.

The result of a new war would doubtless be devastating for Lebanon – far worse than what happened in 2006 – and would likely spread to Syria. In a throwback to the policy of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, this past weekend Yossi Peled, an Israeli minister without portfolio, pointedly noted that Israel would “hold Syria and Lebanon alike responsible.”

There are other reasons why Syria could find itself engulfed in a future conflict. Although recent incidents, such as the explosion in a weapons depot in Khirbet Silm, indicate that Hezbollah has been reestablishing its positions in southern Lebanon since the 2006 war, the militia is said to have relocated its bunker infrastructure and dispersed its longer-range rockets throughout the Bekaa Valley and, reportedly, northern Lebanon.

Notwithstanding Hezbollah’s intentionally-leaked information about its intention to take the war to Israel by invading Israeli villages near Lebanese territory, this relocation of the bunker complex would mean that, aside from the expanded destruction befalling Lebanon, the war would be fought nearer the border with Syria. This border, along with Lebanon’s various ports, has served as Hezbollah’s weapons supply route.

During the 2006 war, the Assad regime took the bold step of supplying Hezbollah directly from Syrian military stocks – particularly when it came to longer-range 220mm Katyusha rockets, such as the ones that hit a train station in Haifa, and Kornet anti-tank missiles. Such a repetition, not to mention the possible detection of Syrian logistical support during combat, would raise the probability of an escalation involving Damascus. Israel’s armed forces would have to consider that possibility if it were to decide in favor of a ground incursion into the Bekaa Valley.

The security regime established under UN Security Council Resolution 1701 has failed to curb Hezbollah’s rearmament, both by land and by sea (or, for that matter, to prevent Israeli overflights). Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad has been quite explicit about his intention to continue supplying Hezbollah. Meanwhile, the sea routes to Lebanon have evidently been used to great effect. The arms-carrying ship intercepted by Israel in November of last year was reportedly bound for the port of Lattakia in Syria. That was surely the tip of the iceberg, and you have to wonder how many such ships have docked in Lebanese ports as well.

There have been a number of reports in recent years indicating deepening military and intelligence coordination between Iran, Syria and Hezbollah, and that includes Iranian listening posts and other technical assets present in Syria. Syria’s direct arming of Hezbollah, like the numerous reports on the Russian air defense systems, speaks much to the evolution of Syria’s view of the party. More than ever Hezbollah (not to mention Iran, its patron) is becoming integrated in Syrian military strategy.

This would explain Damascus’ “strategic decision” to extend to Hezbollah all possible support in the event of a new war with Israel. However, it could be a decision Assad, ever the gambler, might live to regret. One thing for sure is that Lebanon – all of Lebanon – will certainly regret it.

Report: Bishop Suspect In Newton Mail Bomb Attempt

Woman Accused Of Killing 3 Alabama Professors Was Suspect In 1993 Attack On Harvard Professor

BRAINTREE (WBZ) ― The female professor accused of gunning down three colleagues at the University of Alabama on Friday, was once a suspect in the attempted mail bombing of a Harvard professor, the Boston Globe reports.

Back in 1993 Dr. Paul Rosenberg opened a package containing two pipe bombs in his Newton home. Because Rosenberg cut open the box rather than lifting its flaps, the bombs did not detonate. Nobody was ever arrested.

Sources tell the Boston Globe that Amy Bishop, a Harvard medical student at the time, was questioned in the bombing attempt. According to the Globe sources, Rosenberg may have been concerned she was about to get a bad review for her doctorate work.

Bishop's former medical school lab co-worker, Sylvia Fluckiger, told WBZ that she remembers the bombing incident, and recalled Bishop telling her that she was being questioned by police. Fluckiger said that there was animosity between Bishop and Dr. Rosenberg.

This is the second local revelation about Amy Bishop in as many days. On Saturday police in Braintree said that Bishop had shot and killed her brother back in 1986. That shooting was ruled accidental, though police reports from that day can not be found.

On Friday authorities in Alabama say Amy Bishop, a professor at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, opened fire inside a faculty meeting. She recently learned that she was not being granted tenure at the school. Three professors were killed and three others injured.

Make your voice heard. Add your comments to this story and read what others have to say

RFK, Jr. 15 months ago: Global warming means no snow or cold in DC Read more at the Washington Examiner:

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who flies around on private planes so as to tell larger numbers of people how they must live their lives in order to save the planet, wrote a column last year on the lack of winter weather in Washington, D.C.

In Virginia, the weather also has changed dramatically. Recently arrived residents in the northern suburbs, accustomed to today's anemic winters, might find it astonishing to learn that there were once ski runs on Ballantrae Hill in McLean, with a rope tow and local ski club. Snow is so scarce today that most Virginia children probably don't own a sled. But neighbors came to our home at Hickory Hill nearly every winter weekend to ride saucers and Flexible Flyers.

In those days, I recall my uncle, President Kennedy, standing erect as he rode a toboggan in his top coat, never faltering until he slid into the boxwood at the bottom of the hill. Once, my father, Atty. Gen. Robert Kennedy, brought a delegation of visiting Eskimos home from the Justice Department for lunch at our house. They spent the afternoon building a great igloo in the deep snow in our backyard. My brothers and sisters played in the structure for several weeks before it began to melt. On weekend afternoons, we commonly joined hundreds of Georgetown residents for ice skating on Washington's C&O Canal, which these days rarely freezes enough to safely skate.

Meanwhile, Exxon Mobil and its carbon cronies continue to pour money into think tanks whose purpose is to deceive the American public into believing that global warming is a fantasy.

Having shoveled my walk five times in the midst of this past weekend's extreme cold and blizzard, I think perhaps RFK, Jr. should leave weather analysis to the meteorologists instead of trying to attribute every global phenomenon to anthropogenic climate change.

Commercial Real Estate Losses Could Hit $300 Billion: TARP Panel

Losses from defaults on commercial real estate loans maturing in the next few years could go as high as $300 billion, threatening to topple nearly 3,000 community banks nationwide, a federal watchdog group has concluded.

Market analysis by the Congressional Oversight Panel (COP), charged with keeping tabs on the government’s Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), shows that $1.4 trillion in loans made over the last decade for retail properties, office space, industrial facilities, hotels, and apartments will reach the end of their terms and require refinancing between 2011 and 2014.

According to the panel, the loans most likely to fail are those made at the height of the real estate bubble, when it seemed property values could go nowhere but up. Since that time, commercial property values have fallen more than 40 percent, and now, nearly half of the loans coming due are “underwater,” the panel said, making refinancing particularly difficult to secure.

As the panel notes, “Even borrowers who own profitable properties may be unable to refinance their loans as they face tightened underwriting standards, increased demands for additional investment by borrowers, and restricted credit.”

The COP says community banks, rather than large Wall Street institutions, face the greatest risk of insolvency due to mounting commercial real estate (CRE) loan losses. According to federal guidelines, 2,988 banks nationwide are classified as having a “CRE Concentration.”

None of these banks are among the 19 largest bank holding companies, but are rather the smaller regional lenders who stepped up to extend credit within their local neighborhoods. Forecasts project that banks will suffer their worst losses well after 2010, and well after Treasury’s bailout authority expires under TARP, the panel said.

“The banks that are on the front lines of small-business lending are about to get hit by a tidal wave of commercial-loan failures,” said Elizabeth Warren, a law professor at Harvard University who heads the COP.

Warren and her fellow panel members warn that “a significant wave of commercial mortgage defaults would trigger economic damage that could touch the lives of nearly every American.”

Case in point, they said when commercial properties fail, it creates a downward spiral of economic contraction, meaning job losses; deteriorating store fronts, office buildings and apartments; and the failure of the banks serving those communities.

Because community banks play a critical role in financing the small businesses that could help the American economy create new jobs, the COP says, their widespread failure could disrupt local communities, undermine the economic recovery, and extend an already painful recession.

The COP’s findings come on the heels of a field hearing the committee held last month in Georgia. Deterioration of the commercial real estate market there has contributed to the failures of 30 Georgia banks since August of 2008 – more than in any other state in the nation.

US banks facing $1.4tn crisis over commercial property loans

• Commercial property set to lose $300bn on $1.4bn of loans
• Nearly 3,000 banks face dangerous exposure as loans mature

Wall Street sign

Wall Street banks and other financial institutions may be heading for the wall as a further crisis looms in 2011 over commercial property loans. Photograph: Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images

America's fragile high street banks are bracing themselves for a fresh financial crunch as a wave of commercial property mortgages go sour on offices, shops and factories, causing losses of up to $300bn (£192bn) hitting nearly 3,000 small- and medium-sized financial institutions.

A congressional oversight panel charged with scrutinising the Obama administration's bailout efforts has warned that $1.4tn of loans covering commercial premises will reach maturity between 2011 and 2014. After a plunge in property prices, nearly half of these loans are underwater, with borrowers owing more than their underlying property is worth.

An analysis by the panel found that 2,988 of America's 8,100 banks have potentially dangerous exposure to commercial property loans. The impact could damage hopes of a US economic recovery and could cause a further squeeze in the availability of credit to consumers and businesses.

"Are we arguing that this is a serious problem that we need to get in front of? The answer is yes," said Elizabeth Warren, chairman of the oversight panel. "It's like throwing a handful of sand into the economic recovery."

She said that if banks see that their commercial property liabilities are mounting, they will hold back on lending elsewhere: "They'll tend to husband their money so that it's not available for small business loans."

Although Wall Street banks have made a swift recovery as shares and bond markets look ahead to a long-term economic recovery, prospects remain cloudy for small-town institutions in the US heartland, hit by ongoing credit card defaults and unemployment among customers. Last year, 140 US banks failed and had to be rescued by federal regulators. Already this year, 16 have been seized by the authorities, a rate that points to a similarly high total in 2010.

Defaults on residential mortgages played a key role in sparking the original global financial crisis as hundreds of thousands of US homes went into foreclosure and Wall Street panicked over the diminishing value of complex mortgage-backed securities. Commercial property loans have taken longer to go sour but are emerging as a slow-burning problem.

Many of the problematic commercial mortgages were written at the peak of the property boom. Since then, the economic downturn has caused small businesses to fail, with shops and offices falling vacant. A rising unemployment rate reflects less need for space by companies.

"You have declining values, rising vacancy rates and a decline in renewals on leases," said Bert Ely, an independent US banking analyst. "In some markets, new commercial real estate is still coming on line as construction projects finish up."

He said the issue was particularly acute for regional banks that specialise in lending to local businesses: "Relatively speaking, it's a bigger problem for smaller banks than larger ones. The larger banks tend to be a little bit more diversified in their loans."

Aware of the problems facing smaller financial institutions, President Barack Obama last week announced a plan to use $30bn of the remaining funds in the Treasury's $700bn-bailout fund to provide cheap credit for banks funding small businesses. The money would be available to banks with assets of up to $10bn.

Critics have expressed concern about the principle behind using government funds to prop up weak banks. But the former treasury secretary Henry Paulson, who was the architect of the Treasury's bailout programme in 2008, insisted this week that the so-called Troubled Asset Relief Program would eventually turn an overall profit for US taxpayers: "We will get every penny we put into the banks back."

9/11 Panel Suspected Deception by Pentagon

Some staff members and commissioners of the Sept. 11 panel concluded that the Pentagon's initial story of how it reacted to the 2001 terrorist attacks may have been part of a deliberate effort to mislead the commission and the public rather than a reflection of the fog of events on that day, according to sources involved in the debate.

Suspicion of wrongdoing ran so deep that the 10-member commission, in a secret meeting at the end of its tenure in summer 2004, debated referring the matter to the Justice Department for criminal investigation, according to several commission sources. Staff members and some commissioners thought that e-mails and other evidence provided enough probable cause to believe that military and aviation officials violated the law by making false statements to Congress and to the commission, hoping to hide the bungled response to the hijackings, these sources said.

In the end, the panel agreed to a compromise, turning over the allegations to the inspectors general for the Defense and Transportation departments, who can make criminal referrals if they believe they are warranted, officials said.

"We to this day don't know why NORAD [the North American Aerospace Command] told us what they told us," said Thomas H. Kean, the former New Jersey Republican governor who led the commission. "It was just so far from the truth. . . . It's one of those loose ends that never got tied."

Although the commission's landmark report made it clear that the Defense Department's early versions of events on the day of the attacks were inaccurate, the revelation that it considered criminal referrals reveals how skeptically those reports were viewed by the panel and provides a glimpse of the tension between it and the Bush administration.

A Pentagon spokesman said yesterday that the inspector general's office will soon release a report addressing whether testimony delivered to the commission was "knowingly false." A separate report, delivered secretly to Congress in May 2005, blamed inaccuracies in part on problems with the way the Defense Department kept its records, according to a summary released yesterday.

A spokesman for the Transportation Department's inspector general's office said its investigation is complete and that a final report is being drafted. Laura Brown, a spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration, said she could not comment on the inspector general's inquiry.

In an article scheduled to be on newsstands today, Vanity Fair magazine reports aspects of the commission debate -- though it does not mention the possible criminal referrals -- and publishes lengthy excerpts from military audiotapes recorded on Sept. 11. ABC News aired excerpts last night.

For more than two years after the attacks, officials with NORAD and the FAA provided inaccurate information about the response to the hijackings in testimony and media appearances. Authorities suggested that U.S. air defenses had reacted quickly, that jets had been scrambled in response to the last two hijackings and that fighters were prepared to shoot down United Airlines Flight 93 if it threatened Washington.

In fact, the commission reported a year later, audiotapes from NORAD's Northeast headquarters and other evidence showed clearly that the military never had any of the hijacked airliners in its sights and at one point chased a phantom aircraft -- American Airlines Flight 11 -- long after it had crashed into the World Trade Center.

Maj. Gen. Larry Arnold and Col. Alan Scott told the commission that NORAD had begun tracking United 93 at 9:16 a.m., but the commission determined that the airliner was not hijacked until 12 minutes later. The military was not aware of the flight until after it had crashed in Pennsylvania.

These and other discrepancies did not become clear until the commission, forced to use subpoenas, obtained audiotapes from the FAA and NORAD, officials said. The agencies' reluctance to release the tapes -- along with e-mails, erroneous public statements and other evidence -- led some of the panel's staff members and commissioners to believe that authorities sought to mislead the commission and the public about what happened on Sept. 11.

"I was shocked at how different the truth was from the way it was described," John Farmer, a former New Jersey attorney general who led the staff inquiry into events on Sept. 11, said in a recent interview. "The tapes told a radically different story from what had been told to us and the public for two years. . . . This is not spin. This is not true."

Arnold, who could not be reached for comment yesterday, told the commission in 2004 that he did not have all the information unearthed by the panel when he testified earlier. Other military officials also denied any intent to mislead the panel.

John F. Lehman, a Republican commission member and former Navy secretary, said in a recent interview that he believed the panel may have been lied to but that he did not believe the evidence was sufficient to support a criminal referral.

"My view of that was that whether it was willful or just the fog of stupid bureaucracy, I don't know," Lehman said. "But in the order of magnitude of things, going after bureaucrats because they misled the commission didn't seem to make sense to me."