Tuesday, March 30, 2010

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HSBC Ejects Carbon Traders From Index

The banking giant HSBC removed two companies involved in carbon trading from its Climate Change Index on Monday because they had lost too much value.

Analysts from HSBC said the cause was mainly that governments had failed to come up with a timetable for a global climate deal at the United Nations summit in Copenhagen in December.

“Carbon trading was the major loser from Copenhagen,” HSBC analysts said in their March 21010 Quarterly Index Review. “Cap and trade needs hard targets and binding rules – and Copenhagen delivered neither,” HSBC said.

The two companies ejected were Climate Exchange and Trading Emissions. Both companies are based in the Isle of Man and listed on the London Stock Exchange.

Climate Exchange owns the European Climate Exchange, the Chicago Climate Exchange and the Chicago Climate Futures Exchange. The chairman of Trading Emissions, Neil Eckert, is also the chief executive of Climate Exchange.

Among companies joining the index were Renesola, a solar manufacturer with a heavy focus on China listed on the London Stock Exchange, and Universal Display, a United States-based lighting manufacturer listed on Nasdaq.

The revised rating by HSBC is another example of how expectations for carbon trading, also known as “cap-and-trade,” have diminished over the past year – a topic covered by my colleague John Broder in an article in The New York Times last week.

HSBC said South Korea had “kept the carbon trading faith” with plans to introduce a pilot program and it noted that the European Union has operated a carbon trading system since 2005.

But a failure by the European Union to order deeper cuts in emissions, and the absence of decisions putting the system in place in other major advanced economies like the United States, Japan and Australia, had undermined chances of a global carbon market emerging any time soon, it said.

HSBC said those disappointments were reflected in the value of the companies reliant on carbon trading; the companies HSBC removed from the index had failed to reach the minimum market capitalization of $400 million.

HSBC forecast that the rest of 2010 would be characterized by a focus on Asia and by pragmatic deals on adaptation, forestry and climate finance, rather than on a comprehensive global deal. There would be “a shift in focus from building carbon markets to delivering low carbon growth,” HSBC said.

Militia Raids Part Of Government Effort to Provoke Violence, Purge Dissent

Related: Feds Release Indictment Against Michigan Militia

News of a bust on nine members of a militia group in Detroit who were planning to "levy war" against the United States and "oppose by force" the nation's government, should be treated with extreme suspicion, given that every major terror bust in the U.S. in recent years has been contrived.

According to an indictment (PDF) unsealed this morning in U.S. District Court in Detroit, eight men and one woman were training in modern combat techniques for a prophesized battle with the anti-Christ.

The indictment described the nine as gearing up to use bombs and other weapons to kill local, state, and federal law enforcement officials in an effort to act as a "catalyst for a more wide-spread uprising against the government."

The FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force carried out a series of raids on group members in Michigan, Indiana and Ohio over the weekend.

Known as the "Hutaree" militia, each of the nine faces three to five charges, including sedition, attempts to use weapons of mass destruction, teaching/demonstrating use of explosive materials and two counts of carrying weapons in relation to a crime of violence.

Seven of the defendants appeared in court this morning and were ordered held without bond until Wednesday.

"This is an example of radical and extremist fringe groups which can be found throughout our society," FBI special agent Andrew Arena told The Detroit News.

"The FBI takes such extremist groups seriously, especially those who would target innocent citizens and the law enforcement officers who protect the citizens of the United States." Arena added.

Comments made by a well known former militia leader indicate that the Hutaree were regarded by other militia outfits as radical and reckless "low-hanging fruits".

Mike Vanderboegh, who has close connections with the militia movement in Michigan and all over the country, was critical of the Hutaree, saying that they “have indicated in the past that, much like John Brown, they WANTED to start a civil war, which is why no responsible militia group in Michigan was willing to ally with them.”

Vanderboegh described the group as "a perfect target” for the feds, adding that the raids could have provoked a nationwide uprising if they had turned violent.

As we highlighted earlier this month, following the highly suspicious Pentagon shooting, recent history proves that domestic terror, far from being a militia plot or an "extremist fringe" threat, is a government specialty.

Just a brief reprisal of the last handful of major terror cases in the United States instantly reminds us that in every single instance the plot was artificially engineered by the federal government and then later seized upon, with the enthusiastic support of the corporate media, as justification for more funding, more power, and more authority to denounce critics of the war on terror and dissent against the state in general.

From ensuring known extremist Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab, now known as the underwear bomber, was able to board Flight 253 in Amsterdam last December, to allowing Fort Hood shooter Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan to remain on a U.S. Army base, and even to participate in Homeland Security exercises, the actions of Federal authorities have provoked often tragic newsmaking incidents.

Dozens of terror busts and stings since 9/11 have been orchestrated by handlers aiding the accused terrorists at every turn. We have never come across a major case where the terrorists involved in a plot were not being prodded by the FBI and federal informants, or where clear prior knowledge and forewarning was not evident.

Lawyers in a case relating to the much vaunted 2007 terror plot to attack Fort Dix and kill “as many soldiers as possible” concluded that FBI informants were the key figures behind the operation and that the accused, six foreign-born Muslims, were merely bungling patsies.

Similarly, the "Toronto 18" terrorists turned out to be “a bunch of incompetent guys who were primarily misled by a delusional megalomaniac”. The explosive fertilizer material the terrorist cell apparently planned to use was in fact purchased by an informant working for the RCMP who had radicalized the group.

In the media-lauded Miami terror case in 2007, the supposed ringleader Narseal “Prince Marina” Batiste “had heard of Al-Qaeda, but wasn’t sure what it stood for. The FBI instigators made Batiste swear loyalty to al-Qaida; then had him call on his local buddies to form an ‘Islamic army’ in Miami. None had military training. Some could barely read. But Batiste assured the group in the midst of its collective marijuana buzz of greatness ahead,” wrote Saul Landau.

These were the men who comedian John Stewart referred to as “seven dipshits in a warehouse” after Attorney General Alberto Gonzales had ludicrously told the press that the group of semi-retarded gang-bangers had planned to “wage a ground war against America”.

One of the more recent examples was the case of the so-called Muslim terrorists busted in New York, who supposedly wanted to blow up synagogues in the Bronx and shoot down military airplanes flying out of the New York Air National Guard base. The men were provided with fake explosives and inactive missiles by an FBI informant, reported the Christian Science Monitor. Two of the ringleaders of the “deadly” plot which was endlessly hyped by the media turned out to be semi-retarded potheads, exactly as we had predicted would be the case due to the innumerable past cases with the exact same modus operandi.

Then we have the most deadly and contrived "christian-patriot" terror plot - the OKC bombing of 1995. While the SPLC, the ADL and similar organizations are happy to play the Timothy McVeigh card over and over again, to back up the notion that hate-filled right wing extremists are taking over the country, they are less enthusiastic to mention the fact that McVeigh planned his deadly assault on the Alfred P. Murrah building under the intimate direction of a high-level FBI official. This according to McVeigh’s co-conspirator Terry Nichols, a claim voluminously backed up by a plethora of evidence that has been presented in court on several occasions.

Time and time again it is revealed that the only prominent people who call for violence in the patriot movement turn out to be working for the feds.

In light of all these cases, and the ongoing effort to re-direct the focus of the war on terror away from foreign muslim terrorists to "home grown" American "extremists", the question must be explored - were the FBI actively involved in radicalizing the "Hutaree" militia? Were any of the militia members FBI informants?

Count the hours until the links emerge.

Moscow Metro hit by deadly suicide bombings

Commuter Alan Broach: "There was a lot of fear and concern around"

At least 38 people were killed and more than 60 injured in two suicide bomb attacks on the Moscow Metro during the morning rush hour, officials say.

Female suicide bombers are believed to have carried out the attacks on trains that had stopped at two stations in the heart of the Russian capital.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for being behind the attacks.

But Russian security services believe the bombers are linked to militant groups in the North Caucasus region.

Past suicide bombings in the capital have been carried out by or blamed on Islamist rebels fighting for independence from Russia in Chechnya.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin cut short a visit to the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk and said a crime that was "terrible in its consequences and heinous in its manner" had been committed.

"I am confident that law enforcement bodies will spare no effort to track down and punish the criminals. Terrorists will be destroyed," he added.

President Dmitry Medvedev echoed his words after laying a wreath at the site of one of the attacks, saying: "They are animals. I have no doubt that we will find and destroy them all."


The first explosion tore through the second carriage of a train at 0756 (0356GMT), as it stood at central Lubyanka station waiting for morning rush hour commuters to board.

The station, on both the busy Sokolnicheskaya and Tagansko-Krasnopresnenskaya lines, lies beneath the headquarters of the Federal Security Service (FSB).

"I was moving up on the escalator when I heard a loud bang, a blast. A door near the passageway arched, was ripped out and a cloud of dust came down on the escalator," an eyewitness named Alexei told Rossiya 24 TV channel.

"People started running, panicking, falling on each other," he said.

The second blast at Park Kultury, which is six stops away from Lubyanka on the Sokolnicheskaya line, came at 0838 (0438 GMT). It struck at the back of the train as people were getting on board.

"I was in the middle of the train when somewhere in the first or second carriage there was a loud blast. I felt the vibrations reverberate through my body," one passenger told the RIA news agency.

"People were yelling like hell," he said. "There was a lot of smoke and within about two minutes everything was covered in smoke."

The security services said the bomb that went off at Lubyanka station had an equivalent force of up to 4kg of TNT, while the bomb at Park Kultury was equivalent to 1.5-2kg of TNT.

The devices - believed to have been made with the powerful explosive, hexogen, which is more commonly known as RDX - were filled with chipped iron rods and screws for shrapnel.

"The whole city is a mess, people are calling each other, the operators can't cope with such a huge number of calls at a time," said Olga, a BBC News website reader in Moscow. "Those who witnessed the tragedy can't get over the shock."

Vladimir Putin: 'Terrorists will be destroyed'

Moscow's Metro is one of the most-used underground railways in the world, carrying about 5.5 million passengers a day.

The system was partially disrupted following the attacks, but damage to the stations was minimal and both had reportedly reopened by the evening rush hour.

President Medvedev asked officials to increase security on the public transport system nationwide.

"What was being done needs to be substantially strengthened," he said. "Look at this problem on the scale of the state, not only as it applies to a particular type of transport and a particular city."

Deadliest attack

In a meeting with President Medvedev, FSB chief Alexander Bortnikov said its investigators believed the attacks had been carried out by "terrorist groups related to the North Caucasus".

Map showing locations of explosions

"This is likely to be our main conclusion, because fragments of the bodies of two female suicide bombers were found earlier at the scene of the incident and examinations show that these individuals came from the North Caucasus region," he said.

Federal prosecutors said they had opened an investigation into "suspected acts of terrorism".

The co-ordinated attacks were the deadliest in Moscow since February 2004, when 40 people were killed by a bomb on a packed metro train as it approached the Paveletskaya station.

March 2010: Two suicide bombers blow themselves up at Lubyanka station and Park Kultury station, killing 35 people
August 2004: Suicide bomber blows herself up outside Rizhskaya station, killing 10
February 2004: Suicide bombing on Zamoskvoretskaya line, linking main airports, kills 40
August 2000: Bomb in pedestrian tunnel leading to Tverskaya station kills 13
February 2000: Blast injures 20 inside Belorusskaya station
January 1998: Three injured by blast at Tretyakovskaya station
June 1996: Bomb on the Serpukhovskaya line kills four

Six months later, a suicide bomber blew herself up outside another station, killing 10 people. Both attacks were blamed on Chechen rebels.

Federal security forces have scored a series of successes against militants in the North Caucasus in recent weeks.

In February, at least 20 insurgents were killed in an operation by troops in Ingushetia.

Chechen rebel leader Doku Umarov warned in February that "the zone of military operations will be extended to the territory of Russia... the war is coming to their cities".

Last November, he said his Caucasian Mujahadeen had carried out a bombing that killed 26 people on board an express train travelling from Moscow to Russia's second city of St Petersburg.

The attack came six months after President Medvedev declared an end to Russia's "counter-terrorism operations" in Chechnya, in a bid to "further normalise the situation" after 15 years of conflict that claimed more than 100,000 lives and left it in ruins.

Despite this, the mainly Muslim republic continues to be plagued by violence, and over the past two years Islamist militants have stepped up attacks in neighbouring Ingushetia and Dagestan.

911 Mysteries (10 parts)











The top ten 911 news stories of 2009

Examples of HOLLYWOOD pre-conditioning

Click this link ...... http://eclipptv.com/viewVideo.php?video_id=11036

Jesse Ventura "American Conspiracies" interview on Unfiltered Part 1

Click this link ........ http://eclipptv.com/viewVideo.php?video_id=11049

Jim Rogers Speaks About the Dollar Index and Euro - CNBC18

Click this link ...... http://eclipptv.com/viewVideo.php?video_id=11047

Enjoy Your Health Care Shit Sandwich

My loyal readers of Black Sun Gazette are none too surprised that I am adamantly opposed to the health care bill which was recently passed by Congress. There’s a lot of confusion surrounding the bill, not the least bit due to a massive campaign of disinformation and lies coming from The White House and its toadies in the corporate media. I’m sort of amazed at how otherwise rational people are joining in the Democratic Party circle jerk that is accompany yet another massive transfer of wealth from working class people to corporate elites in this country.

The health care “reform” bill isn’t anything that deserves the name reform. The very word “reform” at least tacitly implies amelioration of social ills. For those who haven’t seen it, the fact sheet from Fire Dog Lake–a “progressive,” pro-Democratic Party blog–explains a lot about what is wrong with the bill. It doesn’t protect or aid the people it purports to and requires you to pay a large part of your income to, not a tax pool, but private companies. The bill puts pressure on insurance companies to provide fewer services of lower quality with higher co-pays which means that many people at the bottom levels of society will be paying for services that they can’t even use. The elevator pitch version? Insurance companies basically wrote this bill, Joe Lieberman pushed it and insurance company stocks are skyrocketing. If you need to know more than that, I’ve got a dollar I can loan you to buy a clue.

How the bill will actually work in reality is outlined succinctly in another article from Fire Dog Lake which uses the historically imprecise but emotionally evocative term neo-feudalism to describe this bill. To the best of my knowledge this is the first time in American history when citizens will be required by law to tithe a pre-determined portion of their income to private companies, none of which seem to have a waning rapacity for superprofits. Indeed, the health care bill can quite possibly be seen as an attempt to totally privatize and ration health care in the United States, what with its massive attacks on Medicare and Social Security–cynically called attacks on “waste” by the President and those foolish enough to believe him.

What those who have been taken for a ride by the Democratic Party (once again) on the matter of health care fail to realize is that everything good about this country, from the abolition of slavery to the Civil Rights Act, was the product of a hard fought struggle by millions of people. The rights and privileges that we enjoy in the United States were not handed down by benevolent rulers trying to “do good” by their people. Rather, things like Social Security were wrested from a terrified ruling class who would give up any scrap from their table to maintain their social power. In the words of Martin Luther King, “Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” Those who subscribe to any variation of the notion that the people who run this country are going to give up anything without a fight desperately need a lesson in history and basic reality. From the very beginning, the health care bill has been an attempt at ramming a reorganization of the industry down the throats of the American people by cynically using the language of “reform.”

The health care debacle, coming on the heels of a recent Supreme Court decision allowing corporations to finance political campaigns wholesale, is a troubling sign of where the United States is headed. It also lays bare the bankruptcy of placing any faith in the Democratic Party. Rather than being a “lesser evil,” Democrats are the preferred party of the ruling capitalist elite during times of economic strife from the 1930s to today. Since winning The White House at a time when Democrats held both houses of Congress, they have failed to do anything to help working class and poor people who are struggling in America. Rather, they have spearheaded new attacks on the living standards of working class Americans through methods such as massive wealth transfers to bankers, deep cuts in social programs, attacks on teachers and the wholesale destruction of large sectors of the economy. Those who continue to rely on the Democrats are either parasitic privileged social layers, those who soon hope to be, willfully ignorant or hopelessly confused. Even the great stalwart of the “progressive wing,” erstwhile anti-choice bigot Dennis Kucinich quickly fell in line.

The politics of pressuring capitalist politicians to throw you a few crumbs leads nowhere but where we find ourselves today. Those who wish to keep begging for less severe beatings and slightly larger scraps from the master’s table are welcome to do so. These people doubtless possess a continued touching faith in the ability of capitalist politicians to be pressured to do the right thing. However, battle lines are more quickly and firmly being drawn in the sand. We all exist during what the Chinese curse calls “interesting times.” A time will come when stock will be taken and those who lined up to defend the system will be separated from those who saw a diseased and decaying system careening over a cliff and rather than try and save it, leaned in with all their weight to push it to its death. However, more important than the judgment of peers or history on this matter is the judgment of one’s own conscience. As social conditions continue to deteriorate, I sincerely wonder how those who currently act as left lawyers for the Democratic Party’s assault on American living standards (to say nothing of illegal and borderline genocidal assaults abroad) will look back on their misspent youth as liberal apologists.

Bay State foreclosures up 13.8 percent

Completed foreclosures in Massachusetts fell 19.6 percent in February, compared to January, but were 10.4 percent higher than in February 2009, according to data released Thursday morning. Also, foreclosure deeds jumped 13.8 percent to 2,058 in the first two months of the year from 1,809 during the same period in 2009, the Warren Group reported.

Foreclosures started by lenders in Massachusetts in February were up more than 13 percent over January but down 7.5 percent from a year ago, according to data released Thursday morning. Over the first two months of 2010 foreclosure petitions – the first step in the foreclosure process – are down 6.1 percent from the comparable period in 2009, according to The Warren Group.

“In the last six months, an average of about 2,100 foreclosure petitions were filed each month. That’s a pretty high level, but the pace is much lower than it was in the early part of 2008, when lenders were filing an average of about 3,000 petitions to foreclose a month,” Warren Group CEO Timothy M. Warren said in a statement.

Report: 20,000 Illinois Teachers Could Lose Jobs

9,800 Teachers Are Already Out, Many More Layoffs Are Planned

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CBS) ― The state's funding crisis has already put 9,800 teachers on the unemployment line, and a coalition of education groups warns that figure could more than double.

Schools must tell employees now whether their jobs will be cut next year. Officials from the six-group coalition said they have heard from 75 percent of Illinois school districts and they plan more than 17,000 layoffs.

The coalition says it expects the total to reach 20,000 when complete information is available.

The layoffs could be canceled if schools get additional money. Education advocates want state officials to raise taxes, as Gov. Pat Quinn has proposed.

The groups include the Association of School Administrators, the Illinois Federation of Teachers, the Illinois Education Association and more.

In a news release, Brent Clark said the data only reflect job losses, not other cuts in Illinois schools.

"The situation is far worse when we factor in elimination and reduction of hundreds of programs in sports and music and school activities that are so beneficial to students," Clark said in a news release.

Currently, schools that responded to the coalition's survey say they are planning to cut 9,764 certified staff, 1,597 retirees who will not be replaced, and 5,867 non-certified staff, for a total of 17,228 job losses, the news release said.

The groups include the Association of School Administrators, the Illinois Federation of Teachers, the Illinois Education Association and other organizations.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

(© MMX, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.)

IN could see new wave of foreclosures

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - The number of Indiana mortgages that were 90 days or more overdue jumped to its highest level in more than a year in January, a statistic that has many fearing a surge of home foreclosures in 2010.

Indiana ranked 17th in the nation for foreclosures in late 2009, according to RealtyTrac Inc., a California-based foreclosure listing service. Experts fear thousands more could lose their homes this year because of long-term unemployment and a housing surplus unique to the Midwest.

One Indiana mortgage specialist believes the state is waging a losing battle against preventing foreclosures in a state where unemployment continues to hover near 10 percent.

In the first quarter of 2009, less than 25 percent of the jobless in Indiana had been unemployed for more than 27 weeks, according to a national Mortgage Bankers Association report. By the fourth quarter of 2009, however, that number was up to almost 40 percent.

People who have been unemployed for more than 27 weeks can't qualify for refinancing or mortgage assistance because they have no source of repayment, said Alan Thorup, executive director of the Indiana Mortgage Bankers Association and Greater Indianapolis Mortgage Bankers Association.

"A critical component of a consumer's ability to refinance or have their loan modified is the existence of an income stream," Thorup said. "One of the frustrations for consumers and everybody involved is that if there's no source of repayment, you're limited."

Drew Klacik, senior policy analyst at the IU Public Policy Institute, said Indiana's housing surplus is also partly to blame for the surge in delinquencies. Construction outpaced population growth in the Midwest, he said, leaving central Indiana with about 10,000 to 15,000 vacant homes.

"As the economy started to go bad and we had too many houses, we couldn't sell our way out of our housing crisis issue," Klacik said.

A surge of foreclosures could spell disaster for a housing market still struggling to recover from the recession despite federal incentives to buy and sell.

David Fredricks, program director for the Indianapolis Coalition for Neighborhood Development, said foreclosures slash home values and affect the psyche of a community. That makes it difficult to attract permanent residents and businesses,
who may be turned off by boarded-up buildings.

"It definitely deteriorates the fabric of the neighborhoods because you lose that neighborhood and community feeling. It can be a big pull-down on a community," he said.

Thorup said the key to breaking the cycle of foreclosure and delinquency lies in job creation.

"If in Indiana, we can develop job opportunities that can be filled not only by the graduating students but by the systemically unemployed, the foreclosures in the country and in Indiana could be abated somewhat, he said.

Commercial real estate to see ‘storm’ of foreclosures

The 2010 Tarrant County commercial real estate market looks to be similar to 2009 with one big difference according to local foreclosure expert George Roddy Sr.: a ‘closing window of opportunity.’

Roddy, president of Addison-based Foreclosure Listing Service Inc., said his company is predicting a yet-to-come storm of commercial foreclosures in Tarrant County, but those foreclosures will mean investment opportunities.

“We think ’09 was a dud market and 2010 will be close to being the same as ’09 … but by the end of the third quarter, the fourth quarter of this year, you’re going to see an increase of [investors] in the market and from our vantage point, the window of opportunity – believe it or not – is beginning to close,” Roddy said at a March 24 Society of Commercial Realtors breakfast. “The smart money is out there today taking advantage of the negative publicity commercial real estate is getting.”

For all of 2009, Roddy said overall commercial property sales in Tarrant County were down 44 percent compared with sales seen in 2008 – a telling number, he said, and the lowest number of commercial property sales in the last 20 years for the county. The numbers exclude foreclosure sales.

“This is the most important number in the viability and health of a local commercial market,” he said.

At the peak of the commercial property sale market in Tarrant County, which was 2007, Roddy said there were 2,405 sales transactions. In 2008, that number dropped to 1,958 commercial properties sold, and in 2009, 1,097 commercial properties changed hands in Tarrant County.

And though the most recent numbers are low, Roddy said the number of sales made during the 2007 peak of the market are the most concerning.

“Lots of sales means lots of loans and many of these were five-year balloons,” he said, adding that the high number of sales in 2005 to 2007 will have loans maturing from 2010 to 2012 and with the current state of the financial system – and several banks’ unwillingness to extend loans – that means higher levels of foreclosures.

“Loans will come due and because of the tightness of the financial market, they won’t be refinanced,” he said. “…We feel 2010 is basically going to be the peak of commercial real estate foreclosures because of the numbers of sales five years ago … and until we see a change in monetary policy, a freeing up in the financing, we’re going to continue to see the same thing at least for the next two years.”

Roddy said there has been some shaking out in the local industry of underperforming properties and that will continue.

“The very fact that we’re seeing a thrashing out of properties is – believe it or not – a good thing,” Roddy said. “There are and will continue to be properties not making money and they will end up on the foreclosure block.”

But, he said, that’s not all bad news – except for the developers of the foreclosed properties.

“You buy real estate when there’s blood in the streets,” he said. “So, always, in any market, there is somebody out there with money willing to take a chance.”


Roddy reported Tarrant County office occupancy was down 2 percent for 2009 compared with 2008 – which was not as bad of a drop as the county could have seen considering the current market conditions, he said.

Absorption, however, was down 145 percent in the local office market, but Roddy said this was because of the extraordinarily high numbers seen in 2005 to 2007. Even so, rents increased slightly by 1 percent on average to $20.82 per square foot, Roddy said, including all classes of properties. The total negative absorption for Tarrant office space in 2009 was 230,000 square feet.

Roddy said the Tarrant office market, however, saw a 121 percent increase in foreclosure postings from 2008 to 2009 – the biggest gain in foreclosures of any commercial real estate sector.


Tarrant County retail center occupancy in 2009 was down a tick by 1 percent when compared with 2008 occupancy, Roddy said, with a total of negative 114,000 square feet of space absorbed for the year.

Roddy said like office space, though, Tarrant County retail rental rates outperformed with only a 4 cent difference of $15.92 on average seen in 2009 versus $15.96 on average seen in 2008.

Still, the Tarrant retail market saw a 90 percent increase in foreclosure postings in 2009 compared with 2008.

“With the amount of retail space coming on the market and under construction, the fact that rental rates are even is a credit to the market we live in,” he said.


Tarrant County industrial space took a slight dip in 2009 with occupancy down 2 percent for the year compared with 2008. Absorption for this sector, however, was down 154 percent for 2009 and the year ended with negative 2 million square feet absorption, according to FLS. Roddy attributed the high negative number to several new projects coming on line last year.

But like the other sectors, Roddy said rents for Tarrant industrial space was up 2 percent in 2009 compared with 2008 at $3.85 on average per square foot in 2009 compared with $3.78 on average per square foot in 2008.

“Again, the rents held steady or increased some,” he said.

And outperforming other sectors, the industrial market saw only a 10 percent rise in foreclosure postings in 2009 compared with 2008, Roddy said.


State squeezes retailers for overdue sales taxes

Retailers that fall behind on sales tax payments land on 'cybershame' list

You could call it the Cyberspace Hall of Shame. Or the Big Squeeze.Faced with falling revenues, Indiana is trying to embarrass retail merchants who have fallen behind on their sales taxes by publishing their names on a state Web site, available for public viewing.

The list includes nearly 26,000 retailers, from pizza shops to tanning salons, which have fallen behind on their sales taxes and no longer have a valid state merchant's certificate. The goal is to get the businesses to pay their back taxes and get their names off the list.

It's one of the many tactics the financially strapped state has turned to in recent months to collect more money it says is overdue. Like many other states, Indiana has seen its revenues fall sharply in recent years, forcing it to cut programs and lay off employees.

So far, the list has attracted plenty of attention since it was launched in January. Within a few days, the site generated more than 300,000 visits, constituting more than two-thirds of the entire state government Web site traffic.

The list includes the name and addresses of merchants behind in sales tax payments, but not the amounts they owe.

The element of shame apparently has prompted some retailers to start paying up. In the past three months, more than 500 retailers have paid $1.1 million in overdue sales taxes, said Stephanie McFarland, a spokeswoman for the revenue department.

"This is one more tool we are using to collect what is due to the state," she said.

Indiana isn't the first state to use this tactic. Many states publish various lists of deadbeats on a wide range of taxes. At least 15 states publish some kind of "cybershame" list, according to the Federation of Tax Administrators, a trade association based in Washington, D.C.

Those states have recovered tens of millions of dollars in back taxes as a result of the lists, the association said.

"It's an effective tool, to the extent you want to avoid being embarrassed," said James Eads, the association's executive director.

Publishing lists of delinquent taxpayers, he added, is much cheaper than sending tax collectors out into the field to knock on doors.State Sen. Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, who chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee, said he doesn't have a problem with putting names of delinquent taxpayers online.

"In order to comply with the law, we need to remit our taxes," Kenley said. "If we don't, whether it's in good times or bad times, I think it's appropriate to take measures to insure that people pay their tax obligations."

Under state law, retailers collect 7 percent sales tax for goods and services, and are required to forward that money to the state, generally once a month. But in hard times, some merchants fall behind on the payments, sometimes using the cash to pay other bills. Then they can fall so deep into tax delinquency it's tough to settle their bills.

Some tax experts said publishing such lists raises privacy issues, especially if the information might be outdated or inaccurate.

"I really have mixed feelings about it," said Leandra Lederman, professor of tax law at Indiana University's Maurer School of Law in Bloomington. "Yes, it's human nature to want to avoid being embarrassed. But should your taxes be everyone's business? And if the information isn't accurate, then you're embarrassing people for no good reason."

The revenue department says the list is updated once a month and strives to be accurate. But some retailers on the list said they had no idea such a list even existed, and said they thought their sales taxes were paid on time and in full.

"I thought my taxes were up-to-date," said Deborah Parks, owner of Deborah Parks Interior Design in Indianapolis. "I'll look into it and rectify it if it's not. It would have been nice if the state had called me first to straighten this out."

Jane Macy, owner of Morristown Flower Basket in Shelby County, also was surprised to be on the list. "If I'm behind on taxes, I didn't know about it," she said.

The Department of Revenue said it sends at least two notices to businesses before their merchant's certificate is about to expire. Merchants who operate with an expired certificate are subject to a Class B misdemeanor, which can result in a fine or jail time.

All merchants are required to post a valid certificate in their shops or offices, and renew them every two years. If they are up to date in paying their sales taxes, the certificate is automatically renewed. If they fall behind, the state doesn't send them a new certificate until they settle up.The state's list includes numerous businesses that have closed, gone into bankruptcy or sold their operations, according to a random check of more than 30 businesses by The Indianapolis Star.

For example, Archibald Candy Corp. is listed as the owner of 20 Fannie May candy shops in Indiana that are behind on sales tax. But Chicago-based Archibald went bankrupt in 2002. The Fannie May brand and many of the stores were later bought by Utah-based Alpine Confections.

Another company, Fiesta Hair Fashions, is listed as the owner of 58 stores delinquent in paying sales taxes. But the company has sold its assets to Regis Corporation of Minneapolis, which kept the Fiesta name.

"Regis Corporation is up to date on all taxes with the state of Indiana," said company spokeswoman Susan Evans.

Some companies flatly deny they are delinquent on their taxes. Glacier Water, a retailer of water filtration and treatment systems based in Vista, Calif., is listed as delinquent on almost 60 locations around Indiana. But the company said it is up-to-date on its taxes, and blamed the listing on a "clerical error."

The list also includes numerous companies with disconnected telephones and inactive Web sites, a sign that many small businesses have closed during the economic downturn of recent years.

The state said that any retailer that closes its doors is supposed to notify it by filing a form. Otherwise, the state will continue to send estimated bills. If a business closes but still owes back sales taxes, the state will continue to try to collect them.

She said the state has publicized the program extensively but acknowledged that it could take some time before business owners understand the changes.

"The list is up," she said. "We've obviously been communicating about it through the news media."

Nationally, the cybershame lists are catching popularity, but they are most effective when targeting business owners who consider themselves a pillar of society, not the true deadbeats, some say.

"If you're going to church on Sunday and the Rotary Club on Wednesday and the PTA meeting on Thursday, you don't want people to know you're delinquent on your taxes. You're probably going to pay up," said Eads, the head of the Federation of Tax Administrators.

He added: "The challenge is shaming people who just don't care."

Global Warming Activist Freezes to Death in Antarctica

Famed global warming activist James Schneider and a journalist friend were both found frozen to death on Saturday, about 90 miles from South Pole Station, by the pilot of a ski plane practicing emergency evacuation procedures.

"I couldn't believe what I was seeing", recounted the pilot, Jimmy Dolittle. "There were two snowmobiles with cargo sleds, a tent, and a bright orange rope that had been laid out on the ice, forming the words, 'HELP-COLD'."

One friend of Prof. Schneider told ecoEnquirer that he had been planning a trip to an ice sheet to film the devastation brought on by global warming. His wife, Linda, said that she had heard him discussing the trip with his environmental activist friends, but she assumed that he was talking about the Greenland ice sheet, a much smaller ice sheet than Antarctica.

"He kept talking about when they 'get down to chili', and I thought they were talking about the order in which they would consume their food supplies", Mrs. Schneider recounted. "I had no idea they were talking about Chile, the country from which you usually fly or sail in order to reach Antarctica."

Apparently, while all of Prof. Schneider's friends were assuming that the July trek would be to Greenland, during Northern Hemisphere summer, his plans were actually to snowmobile to the South Pole - which, in July, is in the dead of winter.

Mr. Dolittle related how some people do not realize that, even if there has been warming in Antarctica, the average temperature at the South Pole in July still runs about 70 degrees F below zero. "Some people think that July is warm everywhere on Earth."

Too Big To Jail? DoJ: Wall St. Bailout Buds 'Co-Conspirators' In Plot To Rip Off State, Local Governments

Municipal bonds are where a lot of the political kickbacks and corrupt deals are typically hidden, so I can't say I'm surprised. In fact, it's sort of funny that the governments dealing with these guys apparently thought they could trust them, considering how crooked the business is. Lie down with dogs, rise up with fleas, as the nuns used to say:

March 26 (Bloomberg) -- JPMorgan Chase & Co., Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. and UBS AG were among more than a dozen Wall Street firms involved in a conspiracy to pay below-market interest rates to U.S. state and local governments on investments, according to documents filed in a U.S. Justice Department criminal antitrust case.

A government list of previously unidentified “co-conspirators” contains more than two dozen bankers at firms also including Bank of America Corp., Bear Stearns Cos., Societe Generale, two of General Electric Co.’s financial businesses and Salomon Smith Barney, the former unit of Citigroup Inc., according to documents filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan on March 24.

Gee, look how many were firms that were already taking money from us on the front end. They wanted the back end, too?

The papers were filed by attorneys for a former employee of CDR Financial Products Inc., an advisory firm indicted in October. The attorneys, as part of their legal filing, identified the roster as being provided by the government. The document is labeled “list of co-conspirators.”

None of the firms or individuals named on the list has been charged with wrongdoing. The court records mark the first time these companies have been identified as co-conspirators. They provide the broadest look yet at alleged collusion in the $2.8 trillion municipal securities market that the government says delivered profits to Wall Street at taxpayers’ expense.

Excuse me while I rush to my fainting couch. I'm a little dizzy from the shock.

“If the government is saying they are co-conspirators, the government believes they have sufficient evidence that they can show they were part of the conspiracy,” said Richard Donovan, a partner at New York-based law firm Kelley Drye & Warren LLP and co-chair of its antitrust practice. Donovan isn’t involved in the case.

The government’s case centers on investments known as guaranteed investment contracts that cities, states and school districts buy with the money they receive through municipal bond sales. Some $400 billion of municipal bonds are issued each year, and localities use the contracts to earn a return on some of the money until they need it for construction or other projects.

The Internal Revenue Service sometimes collects earnings on those investments and requires that they be awarded by competitive bidding to ensure that governments receive a fair return. The government charges that CDR ran sham auctions that allowed the banks to pay below-market interest rates to local governments.

[...] Banks may choose to cooperate with prosecutors because in light of the government bailout funds they’ve received “a guilty plea would just be an absolute disaster for some of these companies,” said Nathan Muyskens, a partner at Shook, Hardy & Bacon in Washington and former trial attorney with the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Competition.

“There have been antitrust investigations where there have been companies involved that were just never indicted,” he said in a phone interview.

Yes, this is what's now known as "too big to jail." Why, they're too big for just about anything!

At the same time, the government will probably focus on seeking to convict individual bankers, he said.

“When someone goes to jail for five years, that resonates,” he said. “When a company pays $200 million, it’s simply a balance sheet issue. Jail time is what captures corporate America’s attention.”

The End of Government

There has recently been a surge of interest in the economics of happiness. Wellbeing is important but it would be better to focus on freedom

When the crisis in the public finances is over, should the Government buy everyone a garden? Or an allotment, at least? There is a close correlation between having a garden and being happy. By asking two Nobel laureates, Joseph Stiglitz and Amartya Sen, to think about how to encode well-being in policy, Nicolas Sarkozy, the French President, has raised this fundamental question: what is the end of government? Precisely, is it a function of the State to promote the happiness of its citizens? The politicians, philosophers and clerics who assembled in Rennes yesterday to discuss the idea certainly think so.

They are not alone. There has been a surge in the economics of happiness in the United States and Britain too ever since, in 1974, Richard Easterlin pointed out that people in advanced capitalist societies were getting richer but no happier. In Britain, Richard Layard and Andrew Oswald have written in a similar vein and the psychologist Oliver James has gone one step farther by claiming that getting rich is liable to make us ill.

The implication for policy is that, once basic needs are met, governments should abandon a narrow focus on economic growth or gross domestic product (GDP). They should, instead, define collective wellbeing and seek policies that promote happiness. The Department for Children, Schools and Families recently introduced wellbeing classes. David Cameron has expressed some interest in GWB (gross wellbeing).

It is not silly to enrich the dry arithmetic of GDP with a concern for the satisfaction of human lives. The World Bank has succesfully pioneered the human development index, which ranks nations according to their social as well as economic achievements. Freedom, in other words, is an important part of development.

But that does not mean that it makes sense for governments to set up happiness as their sovereign objective. Happiness is notoriously elusive. No felicific calculus has yet been devised, and nor will it ever be, that captures the subtlety of human wellbeing. If one man gains a wealth of happiness at the expense of the violation of the rights of another, this counts as fine by the standard of the strict happiness utilitarian. Besides, most of the things that make people happy are either beyond the control of government (a happy marriage) or politically dubious (living in homogenous communities). The most recent data shows, in fact, that people do tend to get happier as they get richer, so perhaps the traditional objective of economic growth is not so narrow and dry after all.

There is a more fundamental reason why government policy ought not to be directed at happiness. There is more to life than that. There are many forms of life - monastic devotion, public service, freedom fighter - in which the pursuit of happiness is a subsidiary value, if it appears at all. The realms of art and literature would be hugely impoverished if nobody were ever miserable. "Happiness," as Montherlant wrote, "writes white."

Precisely because human life is prolifically diverse, the history of Utopian politics is littered with offences against freedom by people who thought they knew what the people really wanted. The economics of happiness invariably leads to the politics of paternalism. The happiness gurus would be better off starting with Aristotle's generous account of flourishing, an idea that implies people choosing their own life course. If politicians need a single objective - and it is not obvious that they do - then setting the people free is a lot better than forcing them to be happy.

How the European Parliament is spending your taxes

Here are highlights of the draft budget proposed by the European Parliament for its own building programme:

  • €40 million for new office space in Brussels to accommodate the 150 new staff members and 66 contract staff
  • €586 million to renovate and extend the European Parliament building in Luxembourg (you didn’t know that the European Parliament had a building in Luxembourg as well as Brussels and Strasbourg, did you?)
  • €80 million to provide an additional office for each MEP for the accommodation of a third or fourth assistant
  • €10 million for a second creche in Brussels
  • €20 million for a “House of European History”

Although the member states are working to constrain their expenditure, one item in their national budgets keeps rising: contributions to the EU budget. Recession? What recession?

Hedge funds make millions from collapse of the pound

Britons visiting the U.S. are paying a heavy price for the fall in the pound, but not everybody is losing out.

Three of Britain's biggest hedge funds have scooped a windfall from the collapse in sterling.

It was claimed yesterday that the funds have made 'hundreds of millions of pounds' by betting on the pound going down.

Sterling is trading at around $1.49, a sharp decline from the $1.70 levels of last August.

For British tourists, the fall is a disaster, increasing the cost of holidays as most workers in need of a break are already having to cope with a pay freeze, or even a pay cut.

Funds managed by Man Group, Winton Capital and BlueCrest are all believed to have profited from making financial bets about the pound's weakness. The three funds could not be contacted yesterday about their winning decisions.

Hedge funds - dubbed 'robbers in pinstripe' as the world entered the recent recession - are best-known for short-selling, a way of making money from falling share prices.

The practice involves borrowing shares in a company and selling them on the stockmarket. The hedge fund makes a profit if the price drops by the time they buy them back.

Harry Adams, a senior trader from foreign exchange brokers Schneider, said the pound was expected to keep on dropping.

He said: 'Currency markets hate uncertainty. We can see sterling going down to fresh lows of $1.35. We are in a bear market for sterling.'

Mr Adams said currency speculators were concerned about the threat of a hung parliament or a Labour win, and the lack of details about tackling the deficit. He said: 'If Britain loses its triple-A credit rating, that would be a disaster for sterling which could go as low as $1.20.'

Traders are lumping Britain in with a group of fiscally challenged states dubbed the 'STUPIDs': Spain, Turkey, the UK, Portugal, Italy and Dubai. Membership of this club is humiliating for the UK, particularly Gordon Brown, whose claims about his management of the economy are central to his election strategy.

Shadow Business Secretary Ken Clarke warned that the pound could be catapulted into a further downward spiral in the event of a minority government or a Labour win. He said: 'The voters must not elect themselves into a financial crisis.'

America’s looming trade war with China — Mike Whitney

MARCH 29 — A war of words has broken out between China and the United States and the pundits are predicting that it will end in a full-blown trade war.

The Obama administration thinks that China is manipulating its currency to gain an unfair trade advantage and increase its exports. China’s Premier Wen Jiabao’s adamantly denies the charge.

“I do not think the renminbi is undervalued” he says. “And we are opposed to countries pointing fingers at each other or taking strong measures to force other countries to appreciate their currencies... If the United States uses the exchange rate to start a new trade war, China will be hurt. But the American people and US companies will be hurt even more.”

President Obama has tried a number of things to get China to break the dollar-link and let its currency appreciate, but, so far, nothing has worked.

The president met with Tibet’s Dalai Lama, in an attempt to publicly embarrass Premier Wen so that he’d rethink his exchange-rate policy. But the meeting only angered China and further strained relations between the two trade giants.

The administration also announced plans to sell high-tech weapons to Taiwan, knowing the transaction would ruffle feathers in Beijing. China threatened to retaliate, but refused to budge on the central issue.

This week, a bipartisan group of senators joined the fray by introducing legislation that will require the president to take “reciprocal action” against any “country that uses its foreign exchange policy as a countervailing subsidy.”

The bill is clearly aimed at China and increases the likelihood that Obama will be forced to put punitive tariffs on Chinese products and start a trade war with America’s biggest creditor.

But will it really happen?

There’s no question that the renminbi is undervalued or that China manipulates its currency. The dollar-peg allows China to underbid US manufacturers on every product by slashing the value of its currency.

The practice amounts to a direct subsidy to Chinese industry and costs the US dearly in terms of exports and jobs. But the current flap has nothing to do with currency manipulation.

That’s just a public relations smokescreen. What’s really going on is that US corporations operating in China are getting squeezed on big deals, and they don’t like it. So they’re using their political muscle to beat up on China. The Wall Street Journal explains it like this:

“A growing number of U.S. companies feel unwelcome in China, according to a new survey by the American Chamber of Commerce in China...Negative sentiment among Amcham’s members, which traditionally have been a strong lobby in Washington arguing for more engagement with China, adds to wider risks in U.S.-China relations....

“Amcham conducted the latest survey because it was concerned about the deteriorating investment environment and the impact of the rules on indigenous innovation....

“In late October, three Chinese ministries posted a joint notice requiring technology vendors to gain accreditation for their products before they could be included in a government-procurement catalog of products containing ‘indigenous innovation.’ The catalog will cover dozens of products sold by foreign companies, including servers, mobile base stations, security and finance software, and wind-power generators....

“However, this broader push for ‘indigenous innovation’ has already been interpreted and implemented in different ways across the country, and industry groups say that in some cases provincial-level officials have taken it upon themselves to implement their own preferential purchasing practices. That explains why some companies in the Amcham survey say their businesses are already taking a hit...

“A U.S. Treasury report due next month must decide whether to label China a currency manipulator, which would trigger talks between the countries followed possibly by sanctions.” (US firms feel shut out in China, Andrew Browne and Loretta Chow, Wall Street Journal)

To summarize: The multinationals see a “deteriorating investment environment” because of “rules on indigenous innovation.” In other words, China’s leaders want to strengthen their own industries and keep more of the profits for themselves (which is what governments are supposed to do.) The proposed rules will affect “dozens of products sold by foreign companies, including servers, mobile base stations, security and finance software, and wind-power generators.” So, naturally, the multinationals are angry. The Chinese government is “implementing their own preferential purchasing practices”, which means they are buying more China-made products. This is causing real pain for the multinationals that are “already taking a hit.”

So the current confrontation has nothing to do with currency manipulation. It’s about whiny corporations that need to Uncle Sam’s help to get China to play fair. And the White House is only too happy to oblige. After all, Obama task is to make sure that the rules which enrich the multinationals (“free trade”) are strictly enforced. Sometimes that involves tough talk and arm twisting, but no one wants a trade war. Protectionism is bad for business; it pushes prices up, lowers demand, and hurts profits. What good is that? Here’s an excerpt from the Washington Post which explains what’s really going on behind the splashy headlines:

“If the United States does decide to impose tariffs on China, Chen said, American companies operating in China, which account for more than 60 per cent of China’s exports to the United States, would surely be hurt the most. ‘In the end,’ Chen said, ‘America is the one that needs to adjust.’

“While some analysts have predicted that China would soon start to let the yuan appreciate, Chen’s interview illustrated the fact that there is a strong lobby in China opposing revaluation. One reason why a revaluation would be dangerous for China, Chen said, is that profit margins for Chinese exporters are tiny -- ranging from 1.7 to two percentage points.” (“China’s commerce minister: US has the most to lose in a trade war” Washington Post)

Read that again.

“American companies.... account for more than 60 percent of China’s exports to the United States.” So, the reason unemployment is rising in the US, is because US-owned corporations are diverting those jobs to sweatshops in China so they can fatten the bottom line. China is not to blame, after all.

At the same time, the profits for the host-nation (China) are a measly 1.7 per cent; hardly enough to make it worth their while. The multinationals are making the windfall, not China.

Does anyone seriously believe that the corporations would slit their own throat by starting a trade war?

Consider this: Maybe China’s “currency manipulation” policy was just one of the many preconditions demanded by foreign corporations before they relocated to China. Naturally they would want to ensure that they’d have an advantage over the competition regardless of the costs to China or workers in America. In other words, the multinationals are probably the driving force behind the exchange rate.

Here’s an excerpt from the American Prospect:

“China policy has, over the past two decades, been driven by the interests of the multinational corporations, and those global firms have benefited from many of China’s policies. Starting several decades ago, it was a handful of the exporting elite -- Boeing, Motorola, and GE among them -- who argued persuasively to the Bush, Clinton, and Bush administrations that U.S. economic interests would be served if only these companies had access to the Chinese consumer.... As more and more companies signed on, and the investment banks got involved, production shifted to China....

“Instead of adjusting our trade and economic policy, U.S. policy-makers adjusted the rationale for the continuation of a status quo that was failing the American worker. Of the estimated 1.94 million US jobs lost to China since China’s economic reforms started 30 years ago, 1.05 million of them — over half — were lost since China acceded to the WTO in 2001........ Today, of course, we see the result of that sort of thinking. With the global economic crisis, American workers have ended up without jobs and without pension funds.

“... At the behest of US based multinationals, Washington has championed the causes of corporate interests masquerading as free trade.” (“The Great Industrial Wall of China”, Carolyn Bartholomew, The American Prospect)

Bartholomew’s article is a good summary of the problems with globalization, but it places too much blame on China and too little on the corporations that are shaping policy. China’s newfound prosperity has less to do with its own innate ability to beat the competition, than it does with the machinations of capitalism and its never-ending search for lower production costs through cheap labor. That said, China still faces stiff headwinds ahead even if a trade war doesn’t break out. Here’s a clip from China Daily which states that the Chinese government now anticipate a trade DEFICIT for March:

“The country will probably see a ‘record trade deficit’ in March thanks to surging imports, Minister of Commerce Chen Deming said on Sunday, while warning that Beijing will ‘fight back’ if Washington labels China a currency manipulator.

Speaking at the three-day China Development Forum that ends on Monday, Chen said: ‘I believe there will be a trade deficit in March’ – which will be the first since May 2004.”

But is it true or just a hoax to avoid a trade war?

According to the World Bank, China’s GDP will soar to 9.5 per cent in 2010. So it could be that China’s economy really is overheating and inflation is becoming a problem. The situation may be further aggravated by the dollar-peg which keeps rates fixed to the Fed’s zero-interest rates. Here’s how economist Marshall Auerback explains what is going on:

“The (Chinese) government has engineered an enormous increase in money and credit in the past year. In fact, it seems to be as great as 5 years’ growth in credit in the previous Chinese bubble. The increase in money and credit is so great and so abrupt that you tend to get a high inflation quite quickly even if there are under utilized resources. Add to this the fact that China simultaneously is providing massive fiscal stimulus.

“This combination is the making of a very messy situation. If China seeks to sustain demand via fiscal policy, the result is likely to be a big inflation problem....

“Inflation can take off and thereby begin to erode the competitiveness of Chinese exports.... A continued high rate of inflation relative to its trade partners would push up the price of goods in home currency terms, which in turn translates into higher export prices. This might be the real reason why China is so reticent to revalue its currency. The Americans might go crazy if the Chinese devalued, but if the inflation is high enough, they might have to do it, as it will severely erode their terms of trade and cause their tradeables sector to collapse. (“Thinking the Unthinkable: What if China devalues the Renminbi?” Marshall Auerback, New Deal 2.0)

China’s economy is dangerously off-kilter and headed for a reckoning. The current rate of investment is over 50 per cent and rising. That’s clearly unsustainable.

By focusing on real estate and exports, China has failed to create strong domestic demand; personal consumption needs to increase and investment needs to slow. But that will take time, and now the situation is dire.

If exports collapse because of a stronger currency, China might do “the unthinkable” (as Auerback suggests) and devalue the remnimbi which would further widen the trade deficits, exacerbate global imbalances, and increase the present rate of inflation.

That would force Obama to step in and take decisive action whether he wants to or not. Perhaps a full-blown trade war is not so far fetched, after all. — www.counterpunch.org

Leaked CIA Report: "Public Apathy Enables Leaders To Ignore Voters" In Waging Endless Wars

A leaked CIA report says:

Public apathy enables leaders to ignore voters.

The report is discussing apathy among the French and German people to their countries' involvement in the war in Afghanistan, but the same is true to the apathy of Americans towards the Iraq and other wars as well.

For a little background on the manipulation of public opinion, see this and this.

CIA Afghanistan

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Searchers: Remains of Errol Flynn's son found

Sean Flynn, right, who was covering the war in Southeast Asia for Time magazine, is seen during operations near Ha Thanh, some 325 miles from Saigon, in South Vietnam in 1968. On the left is a Montagnard mercenary, a native hill tribesman fighting in alliance with the U.S. Special Forces.
© AP file

Forensic tests will be conducted on what two searchers believe are the remains of photographer Sean Flynn, son of Hollywood star Errol Flynn, who disappeared during the Cambodian War 40 years ago, the U.S. Embassy said Monday.

At least 37 journalists were killed or are listed as missing from the 1970-75 war, which pitted the U.S.-backed Lon Nol government against the North Vietnamese-supported Khmer Rouge.

A number of journalists were known to have been captured by the Khmer Rouge and probably executed.

U.S. Embassy spokesman John Johnson said that Australian David MacMillan and Briton Keith Rotheram handed over the remains Friday, and they were sent to the Hawaii-based Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, or JPAC, which deals with accounting for missing Americans from past wars.

"Obviously there is nothing conclusive and tests need to be conducted," Johnson said. "Each case is different so it is difficult to speculate on how long the analysis may take."

The search for Sean Flynn and a close friend, Dana Stone, began not long after their disappearance in the province of Kampong Cham in 1970, notably by a colleague and Vietnam War-era photographer Tim Page.

Freelance "bone hunters" have also taken up the search for both missing journalists and U.S. servicemen listed as missing in Indochina. Some proved to be swindlers who demanded money from grieving families of the missing.

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Legislating Away Your Freedoms - One 'Homegrown Terrorist' At A Time

Two weeks ago Senators John McCain and Joseph Lieberman introduced a stunning piece of draconian diatribe euphemistically called the bipartisan Senate Bill 3081, or the 'Enemy Belligerent Interrogation, Detention, and Prosecution Act of 2010'1. The bill is 'bipartisan' in the sense that it is the product of at least two different types of psychopathic personality disorder.

Constitutional expert, lawyer and author Glen Greenwald described the bill as:
"probably the single most extremist, tyrannical and dangerous bill introduced in the Senate in the last several decades, far beyond the horrific, habeas-abolishing Military Commissions Act. It literally empowers the President to imprison anyone he wants in his sole discretion by simply decreeing them a Terrorist suspect - including American citizens arrested on U.S. soil. The bill requires that all such individuals be placed in military custody, and explicitly says that they 'may be detained without criminal charges and without trial for the duration of hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners,' which everyone expects to last decades, at least."2
And that's pretty much it, although, it's not merely at the president's discretion that all you disgruntled citizens can be detained indefinitely, but rather at the discretion of the entire psychopathic U.S. political and corporate elite. Of course, you wouldn't be called a disgruntled citizen, but rather an 'unprivileged enemy belligerent' and you would be defined as someone:
"who has engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners; or has purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners"
While the wording here appears to target bone fide 'terrorists', that is to say, those people who have been set up as terrorists by the US, Israeli and British governments and their affiliated Intel agencies, it is broad enough to potentially include anyone who protests, or is otherwise 'hostile' to the US government.

Have you ever felt hostile to the US government? Have you ever, perchance, marched down a street with a placard that flagrantly denounced the US government in some way? If so, you may have been 'materially supporting hostilities against the United States.'

But what interests me most is not so much that the bill was introduced (it's been a long time coming for anyone with eyes to see) but rather the string of 'homegrown terrorism' cases that have popped up in the mainstream media since. Coincidence?

You've gotta be kidding.

Homegrown Terrorist Plot Number 1

Jihad Jane - March 10th 2010

The blond blue-eyed 5ft 2" Pennsylvania resident Colleen LaRose denies the charge brought by the US government that she used the moniker 'Jihad Jane' in online postings or sent fund raising appeals for 'Jihad'.

Colleen LaRose - emotionally troubled woman and existential threat to the free peoples of the world

At age 14 LaRose married a man at least twice her age and later married another man who has numerous criminal convictions. She has several misdemeanor offenses on her record including an arrest for driving under the influence and writing a bad check.

According to her sister LaRose threatened suicide in 2005 while "highly intoxicated".

Among the crimes she is accused of is the claim that she registered an account on dailymotion.com in 2007 and posted videos of purported attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq.

In a statement that echoed the sentiment of the McCain-Lieberman bill, U.S. Attorney Michael L. Levy, said the woman was "another very real danger lurking on the Internet" and her alleged acts "shatters any lingering thought that we can spot a terrorist based on appearance."3, 4 That is to say, the US government wants to be able to identify anyone as a potential terrorist.

A former boyfriend, Kurt Gorman said "she seemed normal to me. She was a good person".5

Homegrown Terrorist Plot Number 2

Nuke Plant Worker - March 12th 2010

Sharif Mobley - nuke Plant worker and existential threat to the free peoples of the world

This was the case of the New Jersey man studying Arabic in Yemen and charged with being a member of Al Qaeda. 26 year old Sharif Mobley worked at nuclear power plants in the U.S from 2002 - 2008. After being detained he tried to escape captivity during a shoot-out with guards. One guard was killed and Mobley is still recovering from wounds in a Sana'a hospital.

A former classmate of Sharif's, Dawn Bass, said she was "shocked" to learn of the allegations against Mobley. "He was a sweetheart" who was "always showing off in the back of the classroom doing his karate moves and stuff. He was just a regular kid, he was always talking to everybody - he was not shy."6

Homegrown Terrorist Plot Number 3

Jihad Jamie - March 15th 2010

Jamie Paulin-Ramirez U.S. mother-of-one, childishly dubbed 'Jihad Jamie' by the mainstream press, was named as part of a plot to kill the Swedish cartoonist who had depicted Mohammed with a dog's body. She was arrested along with six others by Irish police in Ireland.

'Jihad Jamie' - devoted mother and existential threat to the free peoples of the world

Christine Mott, Jamie's mother, stated, "these terrorists came into my home through the internet, uninvited, and have ripped my family apart. The only thing I could think of is that they brainwashed her.7, 8

Jamie was "the kid in the class everyone picked on and made fun of," her mother said. Married three times before she left for Ireland, her first husband used to beat her. The picture of both Jihad Jane and Jamie appear to be vulnerable women who were drawn in and used as propaganda tools. But by who?

Homegrown Terrorist Plot Number 4

Pakistan Five - March 17th 2010

A Pakistani court formally charged five young Americans of plotting terrorism in the country in yet another recent case that is being used by the mainstream media to trumpet the 'danger posed by militants using the Internet.'

The students from Virginia, all in in their 20s or younger were detained in December 2009 in a town southeast of Islamabad. The main charges against them also involves the use of the internet to "contact militants" and "plot attacks".

A defense lawyer for the men, Hassan Dastagir, said the charges brought against his clients, included fundraising for terrorist acts.9

Pakistan Five - fun-loving, career-focused children, and yet, an existential threat to the free peoples of the world

Mustafa Abu Maryam, youth coordinator at the I.C.N.A. Center, an affiliate of the the Islamic Circle of North America, in Alexandria, Virginia said "I have always known these kids as fun-loving, career-focused children that had a bright future for themselves. As far as I know they were wholesome kids. Very goofy. You know, talked about girls. Very wholesome."

All five men pleaded not guilty and described the charges as "lies" and affirmed that they only wanted to provide fellow Muslims in Afghanistan with medical and financial help. The men accuse the FBI and Pakistani police of torturing and trying to frame them. The parents of all five have received letters from their children stating that they were beaten and threatened with electrocution. In one letter one of the five wrote, "they beat the hell out of me and the rest of us until we said what they wanted us to say. They even threatened to electrocute us the day before court so we don't tell the judge but we spoke out."10

Shades of Abu Ghraib, no doubt.

Homegrown Terrorist Plot Number 5

From Chicago to Mumbai - March 18th 2010

49 year old David Headley of Chicago was charged in two international terror plots, including the 2008 attacks in Mumbai, India. Headley pleaded guilty recently to a dozen counts against him and now will not face a trial.

U.S. authorities said he was involved in identifying targets for the attacks in Mumbai that killed more than 160 people and planned an attack on a Danish newspaper that published cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammad.11

All five of these cases appeared in the press in the last two weeks yet had been ongoing for several months.

The nuke plant worker had been under FBI surveillance for a considerable period of time and was arrested in Yemen at least several weeks ago.

'Jihad Jane' was arrested 6 months ago

'Jihad Jamie' was arrested in early March but the FBI had been aware of her before that.

The Pakistan Five were arrested in December 2009

David Headley was arrested in Chicago in October 2009.

It seems reasonable therefore to suggest that the timing of the promotion of these 'homegrown terrorist' cases is no coincidence but rather a cynical maneuver by a US government whose entire ideology is based on the fabrication of an existential threat to the people in order to maintain and expand control.

In his book Political Ponerology, Polish psychiatrist Andrew Lobaczewski explained how it works:
It is a common phenomenon for a ponerogenic [psychopathic] association or group [that'll be the US government etc] to contain a particular ideology which always justifies its activities and furnishes motivational propaganda. Even a small time gang of hoodlums has its own melodramatic ideology and pathological romanticism. Human nature demands that vile matters be haloed by an over-compensatory mystique in order to silence one's conscience and to deceive consciousness and critical faculties, whether one's own or those of others.

If such a ponerogenic union could be stripped of its ideology, nothing would remain except psychological and moral pathology, naked and unattractive.
So....let's get strippin'

The above-mentioned David Headley is a very special type of 'jihadist'. Last December Indian officials claimed that they believed him to be a CIA agent who 'went rogue'.

Born in Washington to a Pakistan diplomat father and an American mother, he was arrested in Chicago in October 2009. He is accused of reconnoitering targets in India and Europe for Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), the Pakistan-based terror group behind the Mumbai attacks and of having links to al-Qaeda. He has denied the charges.

B. Raman, a former counter-terrorism chief in the Indian foreign intelligence service, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) stated, "that Headley was an agent for the DEA is known. Whether he was being used by the CIA as well is a matter of speculation, but it is almost certain that the CIA was aware of him and his movements across the subcontinent"12

David Headley - drug runner, CIA asset and patsy and more likely to be an existential threat to the free peoples of the world, along with his bosses

Headley apparently came to the attention of the US security services in 1997 when he was arrested in New York for heroin smuggling. He earned a reduced sentence by working for the US Drug Enforcement Agency infiltrating Pakistan-linked narcotics gangs. Right here we have the description of a classic 'turned agent' - someone who agreed to become an Intel asset in exchange for clemency. The reference to 'infiltrating Pakistan-linked narcotics gangs' is Intel-speak for a CIA drug runner out of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Such assets are expendable and usually end up as the fall guy, which appears to be the case with Headley, although he is being spared trial.

So let's consider what we are dealing with here. With the exception of Headley, who is almost certainly a CIA asset, we have a rag tag bunch of emotionally disturbed and/or young and naive individuals who all share the common factor that they are US citizens who, somehow or other, ended up falling into the category of 'unprivileged enemy belligerent'. Every one of them was lured into their 'jihadist' activities by way of contacts on the internet. Who those contacts are is perhaps the most intriguing and complicated aspect of this story.

You probably don't remember last year's story about the 'plot to bomb New York Synagogues', but you really should try and remember the latest development in that particular case.

Arrested in May 2009, the four men were identified as James Cromitie, 55, David Williams, 28, Onta Williams, 32, and Laguerre Payen, 27, are all residents of Newburgh in upstate New York. Their lawyer recently filed a motion to have the case dismissed on the grounds that the plot to bomb synagogues was entirely the brain child of the FBI and that the men were used by the FBI's 'professional informant' Shaheed Hussain.

'Synagogue bomb plotters' - into money and BMWs, not much inclined towards violence, yet still an existential threat to the free peoples of the world

The defendants' lawyer claimed that Hussain's job involved visting suburban mosques in an effort to find members with anti-American leanings and recruit them to join a fake terror plot supposedly funded by a Pakistan-based group. In baiting the men Hussain reportedly:
  • Drove around in FBI supplied BMWs, Hummers and other cars to make him appear well-funded

  • Suggested to the defendants that he could provide them with $250,000

  • Attempted to incite the defendants by blaming Jews for the world's evil and telling them that attacks against non-Muslims were endorsed by Islam.

  • Suggested targets that the defendants wanted to attack

  • Paid for the defendants' groceries

  • Bought them a gun

  • Provided fake bombs and missiles

  • Assembled explosive devices

  • Acted as their chauffeur
Despite these extreme efforts, the defendants refused to engage in any illegal activity with James Cromite saying, "I'm not gonna hurt anybody" and "The plane thing ... is out of the question."13

This, dear readers, is the meat of the US government's case for the reality of a homegrown terror threat that necessitates the introduction of the civil-liberty squashing McCain-Lieberman bill.

Some Hapless Dudes - Revisited

Since we're on the topic, it seems pertinent to revisit the equally farcical case of the 'Miami terror cell' from 2006.

This was the case of the slightly deranged group of five Christian-Zionist-Muslim martial artist immigrants called the 'Sea of David' who were quietly living in a warehouse in Florida awaiting the fulfillment of the biblical end times prophecy, when one day an undercover FBI agent came along and:
  1. offered them $50,000

  2. initiated them into "al-Qaeda" (complete with oath swearing)

  3. provided them with military boots and a video camera

  4. suggested that they wanted to blow up certain government buildings and the Sears tower in Chicago
The leader of this group of unlikely terrorists, Narseal Batiste, needs psychiatric help, according to his father and even Justice Department officials acknowledged the group did not have the means to carry out the plan," while at the same time lauding it as a 'major announcement.'14,15

The Miami Seven - just some hapless dudes who also like money, and yet, pose an existential threat to the free peoples of the world

Two community activists familiar with the case and the group pointed out that the accused couldn't even afford their own cameras and that the federal government had to buy them for them. The government was also forced to rent the men the cars that they needed to get downtown in order to take the 'terror pictures'. When the men finally gave in and provided the FBI informant with a list of things they needed in order to blow up the buildings, they forgot to include any explosives or any materials which could be used to make explosives.16

Despite this, all five men were convicted on 'terrorism' charges in May 2009.

Hopefully these two examples give us a better understanding of how and why these unlikely 'homegrown jihadist' types are created - depending on how informed you are, it's either for your brainwashing or your entertainment.

The Global Game

But it would be foolish to think that this phenomenon is limited to a series of well-planned and manned FBI setups. This particular spider's web is global in nature.

David Headley, the CIA agent, is accused of contacting 'Lashkar-e-Taiba' (LET). The five teenagers arrested in Pakistan are also said to have had contacts with this shadowy group which appears to be the new "al-Qaeda" and the US governments main justification for its continued bombings of Afghanistan's civilians. So it's worth taking a brief look at LET's origins:

Founded by Muhammad Saeed in Afghanistan, LET is currently based near Lahore, Pakistan and operates several training camps in Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

Muhammad Saeed is a Pakistani Islamic scholar. During the extremist regime of General Zia-ul-Haq of Pakistan in the early 80's, Saeed was sent to Saudi Arabia to take part in the US-sponsored Afghan Jihad against the Soviets which involved him recruiting and directing groups of Afghan, Saudi and Pakistani fighters.

By 1979 large quantities of American dollars had begun flowing into General Zia's coffers, and he was clearly well aware of his controlling position. What price would the US government of Jimmy Carter pay for his help in establishing what is today called the 'Taleban' and Lashkar e Taiba? When offered a $400 million 'aid' package, Zia sneered and said 'peanuts'. (Carter used to be a peanut farmer).

Overall, the US government funneled $billions to Zia, on the proviso that he used most of it to fund a bunch of feudal warlords known as the Taleban over the border in Afghanistan.

Many people still believe that the US used the Pakistani government and intelligence services to create fundamentalist Islamic groups to bog down the Soviets and give them their 'Vietnam' in Afghanistan, simply because that was what they did during the 'Cold War'. After all, there was a world-wide covert and 'noble' battle against the evils of 'Communism' right? Well, not really. While making it difficult for the Soviets was probably a consideration, the main problem for the Americans was the specter of the evils of secularism and modern liberal, progressive values taking hold in S. E. Asia, not to mention the danger that they could infect the entire region. There was also the CIA's plan to establish the world's large heroin manufacturing operation, the proceeds of which would be used to continue CIA operations around the world.

What would have become of America's rampant capitalism, national security state and self-styled role of policeman of the world if they had had to spend the last 30 years with no fundamentalist Islam to speak of, no drug money and all of the Middle East and S.E Asia enjoying the benefits of socialist governments, profitable and happy for all the world to see?

The root of the problem for the US government was that Afghanistan has recently taken a turn for the worse, at least from the CIA's perspective.

In 1973 Dr. Mohammad Daoud, an extreme conservative who ruled as absolute dictator had come to power in a coup. In response to the oppressive policy of the new regime the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan, PDPA, was formed, but in 1978 Daoud's ordered the arrest of almost the entire leadership of the PDPA.

The progressive masses in Kabul saw the arrests as an attempt to annihilate the PDPA, just as Pinochet had done to the workers parties in Chile in 1973 (with US backing). An uprising by the lower ranks of the military freed the popular party leader, Nur Mohammad Taraki. Within a day, Daoud was overthrown and a revolutionary government proclaimed, headed by Taraki.

According to the CIA's own casebook on Afghanistan, before the revolution, 5 percent of Afghanistan's rural landowners owned more than 45 percent of the arable land. A third of the rural people were landless laborers, sharecroppers or tenants. Debts to the landlords and to money lenders "were a regular feature of rural life". An indebted farmer turned over half his crop each year to the money lender.

When the PDPA took power, it quickly moved to remove both landownership inequalities and usury. Decree number six of the revolution canceled mortgage debts of agricultural laborers, tenants and small landowners.

The revolutionary government set up extensive literacy programs, especially for women. It printed textbooks in many languages. "The government trained many more teachers, built additional schools and kindergartens, and instituted nurseries for orphans".

By 1985 there had been an 80-percent increase in hospital beds. The government initiated mobile medical units and brigades of women and young people to go to the undeveloped countryside and provide medical services to the peasants for the first time.

Among the very first decrees of the revolutionary regime were to prohibit bride-price and give women freedom of choice in marriage. "Historically, gender roles and women's status have been tied to property relations. Women and children tend to be assimilated into the concept of property and to belong to a male."

Before the revolution, a bride who did not exhibit signs of virginity on the wedding night could be murdered by her father and/or brothers.

After the revolution, young women in the cities, where the new government's authority was strong, could tear off the veil, freely go out in public, attend school and get a job. They were organized in the Democratic Women's Organization of Afghanistan, founded in 1965 by Dr. Anahita Ratebzada.

The revolution and the establishment of the social government under Taraki challenged the old fundamentalist Islamic order. Afghanistan was slowly being turned into a progressive and libertarian country with a somewhat secular government providing equal rights for all. 17

Of course, at the time, these measures were denounced as evidence of the spread of 'Communism' in Afghanistan which had to be stamped out, the truth however is that it was the spread of moderate and responsible government - something that the US has repeatedly fought against around the world - that concerned the architects of America's Empire.

Zbigniew Brzezinski served as US National Security Advisor to President Jimmy Carter from 1977 to 1981. In an interview in Le Nouvel Observateur Jan 15-21, 1998, p.76, he explains a few things:
Brzezinski: According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujahadeen began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan in Dec 1979. But the reality, closely guarded until now, is completely otherwise: Indeed, it was July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And that very day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained to him that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention.
The "pro-Soviet regime" mentioned here was the socialist government of Taraki that was advocating women's rights and education for all.
Question: Despite this risk, you were an advocate of this covert action. But perhaps you yourself desired this Soviet entry into war and looked to provoke it?

Brzezinski: It isn't quite that. We didn't push the Russians to intervene, but we knowingly increased the probability that they would.
The fact is that the Russians were enticed to intervene in Afghanistan because of the aforementioned aid and weaponry that the US was supplying to the feudal warlords who were seeking to overthrow the socialist government of Taraki - the one that had begun to reform and open up Afghan society. The Soviets were not necessarily interested in invading and occupying Afghanistan, but were instead responding to a threat that the US government had created by financing and arming (and therefore controlling) a large number of tribal warlords (recruited from both Pakistan and Afghanistan) right on the Soviet Empire's southern border.

But I digress. Lashkar-e-Taiba is one element of these tribal warlords that the US government indirectly created and financed and has been controlling over since by way of the Pakistani intelligence agency.

According to the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), Pakistani Intelligence (ISI) has over the years supported a number of Islamic terrorist organizations, while maintaining close links to the CIA: "Through its Interservices Intelligence agency (ISI), Pakistan provided funding, arms, training facilities, and aid in crossing borders to Lashkar-e-Taiba."18, 19

The main accusation leveled by the Pakistanis against the five US citizens mentioned above is that they were in contact with Lashkar-e-Taiba. But Lashkar-e-Taiba is essentially a paramilitary arm of Pakistani Intelligence, commonly called 'a state within the state', or Pakistan's 'invisible government',20 which in turn is, as we have seen, largely controlled by the CIA.

Things get even more farcical when we realize that David Headley, a CIA agent 'gone rogue' is accused by the US government of being involved in the Mumbai attacks last year, yet there is clear evidence that the Mumbai attacks were the work of Pakistani intelligence and therefore the CIA.21 The nature of this control is largely financial both via direct US government 'aid' and through kick-backs from the CIA-controlled Afghan heroin trade. The CIA operates a classified program that pays Pakistani Intelligence for the capture or killing of wanted militants. According to current and former US officials the payments to the ISI account for as much as one third of the CIA budget,22 which in 2003 totaled $5 billion.23 While these payments have reportedly triggered 'intense debate' among some US government officials, mainly due to the fact that it is common knowledge among many of them that the ISI is the middleman for groups like the LET and the Taleban, there is no power on Capitol Hill to do anything about it.

So how much grey matter does it take to realize that if:
the US state Department and CIA is funding the ISI which is known to support (with US tax dollars) the 'terrorists' that the US military is meant to be fighting, and is also used to capture people like the Pakistan Five, which in turn provides 'evidence' for the existence of a 'homegrown terrorist threat' and the rationale for the introduction of Orwellian legislation like the McCain-Lieberman bill that will be used to crush the remnants of free speech or the rights enshrined in the US constitution,

how many neurons must fire before people realize that all of it is one massive, tyrannical and very complicated fabrication?
Send your responses to president@whitehouse.gov. The winner will potentially receive an all-expenses-paid trip to a US military (or Haliburton) prison for a very long time.

  1. Opencongress.org

  2. Glen Greenwald, Salon.org, March 17, 2010

  3. New Zealand Herald, March 20, 2010

  4. United Press International, March 10, 2010

  5. Wall Street Journal, March 10, 2010

  6. New York Daily News, March 12, 2010

  7. The Independent, March 15, 2010

  8. Examiner.com, March 13, 2010

  9. Reuters, March 17, 2010

  10. Associated Press, March 17, 2010

  11. CNN, March 18, 2010

  12. The Times, December 17, 2009

  13. NBC, March 17, 2010

  14. New York Daily News

  15. Duluth News Tribune

  16. Democracy Now, June 26, 2006

  17. Afghanistan, Chapter 4

  18. Council on Foreign Relations, Issue 135

  19. Council on Foreign Relations, Issue 135

  20. Time, April 29, 2002

  21. New York Times, August 12, 2008

  22. LA Times, November 15, 2009

  23. Globalsecurity.org, February 5, 2002