Sunday, February 27, 2011

Valley Community Bank in Illinois closed by regulators

Feb 25 (Reuters) - Regulators closed one bank in the U.S. on Friday, bringing to 23 the total number of bank failures in 2011.

In 2010 157 banks failed following 140 failures in 2009.

The bulk of the failures increasingly have been been smaller institutions, those with less than $1 billion in assets, as large banks have recovered more quickly from the 2007-2009 financial crisis.

The FDIC announced the closure on Friday of Valley Community Bank, St. Charles, Illinois, which had about $123.8 million in assets and $124.2 million in deposits as of December 31. First State Bank, Mendota, Illinois will assume the deposits and has agreed to purchase essentially all of the assets.

Banks that failed in 2010 had total assets of $92 billion, compared with $169.7 billion the previous year.

FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair has said the agency expects the number of failures to drop in 2011.

In the FDIC's most recent quarterly report, released on Feb. 23, the agency said the number of banks on the "problem list" grew to 884 from 860.

Most of these institutions will not fail but the list provides an indication of how many banks are struggling.

Earlier this week, however, Bair said the outlook for the industry as a whole is improving including for small institutions.

In its quarterly update, the FDIC reported that banks had combined earnings of $21.7 billion in the fourth quarter of 2010, marking their fourth profitable quarter in a row.

But statistics showed lending continued to contract, down 0.2 percent or $13.6 billion for the quarter, and Bair warned it would have to pick up for the industry to take the next step in its recovery from the 2007-2009 financial crisis.

Washington Mutual, which had $307 billion in assets when it was seized in September 2008, remains the largest bank to fail during the financial crisis. (Reporting by Richard Cowan; Editing by Carol Bishopric)

We're Spending Billions In Afghanistan Building Schools & Bridges While Our Infrastructure Declines

US exports inflation - Ron Paul on Anti-War Radio 02/25/11

Obama: We must compromise on budgets, ‘but we can’t sacrifice our future’

WASHINGTON (AFP) – US President Barack Obama on Saturday urged Republican and Democratic lawmakers to reach a compromise on pending budget issues to avoid political gridlock and a possible federal government shutdown.

"For the sake of our people and our economy, we cannot allow gridlock to prevail," Obama said in his weekly radio address.

He noted that both Democratic and Republican leaders in the House and Senate have said they believed it was important to keep the government running while they worked on a plan to reduce the budget deficit.

"Given that, I urge and expect them to find common ground so we can accelerate, not impede, economic growth," the president declared. "It won't be easy. There will be plenty of debates and disagreements, and neither party will get everything it wants. Both sides will have to compromise."

The US government could suffer a partial shutdown unless polarized lawmakers in the Senate and House of Representatives agree on a compromise to replace a current stopgap spending measure -- known as a "continuing resolution" or "CR" -- that expires at midnight March 4.

All sides have said that they want to avoid such an outcome and sought to pin the blame for the impasse on their political foes. But a compromise has thus far eluded congressional politicians.

A week ago, newly empowered Republicans voted to cut about $61 billion in government spending.

But Democrats in Congress and President Obama's administration, while also vowing cuts, immediately criticized the plan as dangerous in a slow economy.

In his address, Obama promised to work with members of both parties to produce what he called "a responsible budget that cuts what we can't afford."

But he said America must be able to maintain its competitive edge in the world.

"I'm willing to consider any serious ideas to help us reduce the deficit -- no matter what party is proposing them," the president said. "But instead of cutting the investments in education and innovation we need to out-compete the rest of the world, we need a balanced approach to deficit reduction.

"We all need to be willing to sacrifice, but we can't sacrifice our future," Obama stressed.

This video is from the White House, published Saturday, Feb. 26, 2011.

The Essence Of Banking...

Video: From the 2009 film The International inspired by the BCCI scandal

  • When you control the debt of war, the players are mere pawns.



  • "No, this is not about making profit from weapon sales. It's about control."
  • "The IBBC is a bank. Their objective isn't to control the conflict, it's to control the debt that the conflict produces. You see, the real value of a conflict - the true value - is in the debt that it creates. You control the debt, you control everything. You find this upsetting, yes? But this is the very essence of the banking industry, to make us all, whether we be nations or individuals, slaves to debt."



Irish election: Fianna Fáil government routed, according to exit poll

Enda Kenny, leader of Fine Gael, poised to become Ireland's prime minister if he can broker a deal with second-placed Labour

Irish election exit polls point to Enda Kenny becoming new prime minister
Irish election exit polls point to Enda Kenny becoming new prime minister. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA

Ireland's most dominant political party, Fianna Fáil, is on the road to a historic and devastating defeat in the republic's general election.

Just months after accepting an EU/IMF bailout, the government is likely to finish in fourth place behind a resurgent Labour party and a slew of independent candidates.

The scale of Fianna Fáil's losses is so great that a number of high-profile ministers, including finance minister Brian Lenihan, who negotiated the bailout, are in danger of losing their seats. His outgoing ministerial colleague Mary Hanafin also faces the possibility of being unseated in her Dún Laoghaire/Rathdown constituency.

Fine Gael is now poised to form a government, possibly even as a single party, its director of elections, Phil Hogan, told RTÉ Radio. "Anybody that writes [us] off so early in the day... I think they'll probably get a fright as the day wears on," he said. If the party fails to win an overall majority, however – which an exit poll from RTÉ suggested would be the outcome earlier in the day – it is likely to seek to form a coalition with the Irish Labour Party. Either way, Enda Kenny is certain to be elected Taoiseach.

According to RTÉ, Fine Gael took 36.1% of the vote, with Labour coming second with 20.5%. Fianna Fáil support is put at just 15.1%, by far its worst general election result, and will mean a massive loss of seats across the country – including a wipeout in the capital.

Sinn Féin's support is put at 10.1% – again a record in the Irish Republic – while the Greens are on 2.7%, which could see the party save some seats despite predictions they would be wiped out.

Independents and others got 15.5% of the vote – a high figure thought to be spread quite thinly given the number of candidates. Where those votes transfer could be crucial to the final outcome of counts across 43 constituencies.

The independents combined have pushed Fianna Fáil into fourth place – the party's worst performance since Éamon De Valera founded the party in the 1920s. In Dublin, Fianna Fáil support barely hit 8%.

The exit poll put support for Fine Gael lower than some opinion polls had suggested, where they had been tipped to secure as much as 40% of the popular vote, potentially allowing for a single-party government propped up by independents. The last RTÉ exit poll in 2007 proved to be 99% accurate when compared to the actual number of votes cast.

True Cost Of The Wall Street Bailout - PBS VIDEO


Special report from Bloomberg -- Adding It All Up

Allison Stewart from Need to Know with Bloomberg reporter Bob Ivry. None of this is new to Bail readers, though the details might surprise you. The Bloomberg total is $12.8 trillion.

We all know about TARP, the Troubled Asset Relief Program, which spent $700 billion in taxpayers’ money to bail out banks after the financial crisis. That money was scrutinized by Congress and the media.

But it turns out that that $700 billion is just a small part of a much larger pool of money that has gone into propping up our nation’s financial system. And most of that taxpayer money hasn’t had much public scrutiny at all.

According to a team at Bloomberg News, at one point last year the U.S. had lent, spent or guaranteed as much as $12.8 trillion to rescue the economy. The Bloomberg reporters have been following that money. Alison Stewart spoke with one, Bob Ivry, to talk about the true cost to the taxpayer of the Wall Street bailout.


Assembly Dems Yell "Shame" After Budget Vote

Dramatic Spikes In Food, Oil Prices Fuel Inflation Worries

10 Health Insurance Companies Get ObamaCare Waivers -- for Their Own Employees

Signed Health Reform bill: Wiki Commons image
Fred Lucas
CNS News

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has granted waivers to 10 health insurance companies, including giants such as Cigna and Aetna and divisions of Blue Cross Blue Shield, from the requirements of the new health care law, also known as ObamaCare.

The waivers allow these companies to impose annual limits on the health coverage they provide to their employees. Under Obamacare, companies that do not get special waivers from the administration must phase out their caps on annual health-care benefits between now and 2014 when they must offer limitless annual benefits. The Obama administration began granting waivers to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act last September.

The health insurance company benefiting most from a special waiver from the Obamacare provision is Cigna Corp., which has 265,000 enrollees on its health plan. HHS approved Cigna a waiver on Sept. 26, 2010, allowing it to cap the health insurance benefits for those 265,000 employees.

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Trends Journal Predicted Global Anti-Gov’t Protests: What’s Next?

Anthony Freda Illustration
Gerald Celente
Trends Research Journal

It is a matter of record! The spate of seething, youth-inspired Middle East uprisings that are toppling governments, reshaping the geopolitical landscape and roiling world markets blindsided the world’s intelligence community.

Not the CIA, Joint Chiefs of Staff or National Security Council saw it coming. Mossad and MI5 missed it! None of the mainstream media’s star-studded stable of scholars, experts and think-tank policy wonks were thinking ahead.

But what was breaking news to them was yesterday’s news for Trends Journal readers. In the summer 2010 issue, we wrote:

What’s happening in Greece will spread worldwide as economies decline. There are no organizations behind this response, it’s a public response. This is a 21st century rendition of ‘Workers of the World unite’ … Initially the strikes, riots and protests by unions, student groups, the unemployed, pensioners, and the outraged were sloughed off as predictable (but short-lived and ineffectual) responses that would either peter out on their own or be stomped down by the police … The unofficial reality was that, as Gerald Celente has repeatedly warned: “When people lose everything and have nothing left to lose, they lose it.”

By the Autumn of 2010, our Globanomic methodology pointed to socioeconomic conditions rapidly deteriorating to such an extent that we warned readers of an imminent explosion: “Off With Their Heads 2.0” read our headline, capturing the revolutionary impulse of people who could no longer ignore the toll financial hardship was taking on their lives.

We subsequently identified the role the social media (a megatrend-in-waiting) would play in tipping the balance of political power and breaking the grip of government control. In December 2011, just days before the world tuned into Tunisia, we released our “Top Trends of 2011.” Among them was “Journalism 2.0” which, we predicted, would put an arsenal of digital/Internet weapons into the hands of virtually every citizen via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc. Deployed by youthful revolutionaries around the world, they would bypass corporate/government media, outwit intelligence agencies, outflank the military and police and rally the populace into the streets and onto the barricades. (See, “Journalism 2.0.” Trends Journal, Winter 2011).

As we wrote before Tunisia and Egypt erupted, the outbreaks would go global and the reasons behind the unrest would be more about bread and butter issues than politics. As economies decline, unemployment rises, taxes are raised and services cut – while those at the top get richer and most everyone else gets poorer – revolutions will continue to spread.

But that’s not the way it’s being represented by the same people who didn’t see it coming. The media, pundits and politicians have misrepresented the historic geopolitical events that have occupied the news since the onset of the New Year. Virtually overnight, the revolutions have been glorified as courageous fights for freedom and liberty by democracy-hungry-masses.

But it is not hunger for democracy that drives them. Democracy, autocracy, theocracy, monarchy – right, center, left – it is mostly a gut issue…an empty gut issue. When the money stops flowing down to the man in the street, the blood starts flowing in the streets. It’s a simple equation. A few at the top have too much, and too many others have too little.

What’s Next In response to the current Middle East uprisings, gold has broken above $1400 an ounce and Brent Crude climbed to $111 a barrel. There is no end in sight to market volatility. As the violence escalates and expands, the fallout will be felt around the world.

From the onset of the financial crisis that began in August 2007, and through the ensuing Panic of ’08, Washington, the Federal Reserve and central banks have managed to forestall a Great Depression-grade meltdown by way of a variety of multi-trillion dollar rescue packages, bailouts and stimulus programs. For three years the programs were able to induce an illusory and superficial recovery that, barring a major external geopolitical jolt, might have continued to run its course until the inevitable denouement.

But now the jolt felt around the world is in the process of shattering the recovery illusion. Whether deliberately (as calculated policy) or as fallout from fear-based denial, the pieces are not being put together. The current unrest is not confined to the Middle East and North Africa, and as we had forecast, it will spread to Europe and other parts of the world. The more volatile and widespread the insurrections, the greater the probability that some combination of events (e.g., oil shock, terror attack, cyber wars and regional wars) will crash already fragile economies, and roil sound ones.


Hundreds of people have backed a Facebook campaign calling for a “day of rage” across Saudi Arabia next month to demand an elected ruler, greater freedom for women and release of political prisoners.

The page called for a “revolution of yearning” on March 11 in the kingdom, the world’s biggest oil exporter and which is ruled by an absolute monarchy.

More than 460 people had endorsed the page by Wednesday morning, but it was impossible to verify how many of them were inside Saudi Arabia or whether any protest would materialise.

Arab uprisings which overthrew leaders in Tunisia and Egypt were mobilised by youths using social media, but activists in Saudi Arabia say a recent Internet call for a demonstration in Riyadh failed to bring anyone onto the streets.

A protest last month in Jeddah after floods swept through Saudi Arabia’s second-biggest city was quickly broken up.

The demands included “that the ruler and members of the Shura (Consultative) Council be elected by the people” as well as calls for an independent judiciary, release of political prisoners and the right of freedom of expression and assembly.

They also sought a minimum wage of 10,000 riyals ($2,700), greater employment opportunities, establishing a watchdog to eliminate corruption and cancellation of “unjustified taxes and fees”.

Other requests included rebuilding the armed forces, reforming Saudi Arabia’s powerful and conservative Sunni Muslim clerics, and “the abolition of all illegal restrictions on women” in the kingdom.

Despite its oil wealth, Saudi Arabia is grappling with unemployment that hit 10.5% in 2009. It offers its 18 million nationals social benefits but they are considered less generous than those provided by other Gulf Arab oil producers.

Saudi state television said king Abdullah, returning home on Wednesday after months of absence for medical treatment, would grant benefits to Saudis worth billions of riyals.

The measures did not include political reforms in the absolute monarchy such as fresh municipal elections demanded by liberals or opposition groups. The kingdom has no elected Parliament and does not tolerate public dissent.

Source: Daily News & Analysis

Matt Taibbi: "Why Isn’t Wall Street in Jail?" (Complete Interview)

Nobody goes to jail,” "writes Matt Taibbi in his the new issue of Rolling Stone magazine. “This is the mantra of the financial-crisis era, one that saw virtually every major bank and financial company on Wall Street embroiled in obscene criminal scandals that impoverished millions and collectively destroyed hundreds of billions, in fact, trillions of dollars of the world’s wealth." Here is the complete interview from which we played an excerpt on our Feb. 22 show. Taibbi explains how the American people have been defrauded by Wall Street investors and how the financial crisis is connected to the situations in states such as Wisconsin and Ohio.

AMY GOODMAN: We turn now to Matt Taibbi. But before I do, let me read a sentence from a recent paper by Dean Baker, who concludes, "Most of the pension shortfall using the current methodology is attributable to the plunge in the stock market in the years 2007-2009. If pension funds had earned returns just equal to the interest rate on 30-year Treasury bonds in the three years since 2007, their assets would be more than $850 billion greater than they are today."

And this—he quotes David Cay Johnston of "The average Wisconsin pension is $24,500 a year, which is hardly lavish. But what is stunning is that 15% of the money contributed to the fund each year is going to Wall Street in fees," which is why we now ask the question, "Why isn’t Wall Street in jail?"

Actually, that’s the title of reporter Matt Taibbi’s new article for Rolling Stone magazine. In the piece, Matt writes, quote, "Nobody goes to jail. This is the mantra of the financial-crisis era, one that saw virtually every major bank and financial company on Wall Street embroiled in obscene criminal scandals that impoverished millions and collectively destroyed hundreds of billions, in fact, trillions of dollars of the world’s wealth."

Well, I interviewed Matt Taibbi on Sunday about his report, "Why Isn’t Wall Street in Jail?"

AMY GOODMAN: Welcome to Democracy Now!, Matt Taibbi.

MATT TAIBBI: Thanks for having me back.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, we’re seeing these mass protests in Madison, Wisconsin, and there’s other protests that are happening. We see the working poor, the middle class, under tremendous stress, and yet they’re the ones who are being hit hardest, not Wall Street. Explain what has happened. Why isn’t Wall Street in jail?

MATT TAIBBI: Well, it’s an incredible story. I mean, just to back up and provide some context, I think, for this Wisconsin thing, and especially for the Ohio thing, given what their governor used to do for a living—


MATT TAIBBI: Well, he was an employee for Lehman Brothers, and he was—

AMY GOODMAN: This is Governor Kasich.

MATT TAIBBI: Governor Kasich, yeah, and he was intimately involved with selling—getting the state of Ohio’s pension fund to invest in Lehman Brothers and buy mortgage-backed securities. And of course they lost all that money. And this, broadly, was really what the mortgage bubble and the financial crisis was all about. It was essentially a gigantic criminal fraud scheme where all the banks were taking mismarked mortgage-backed securities, very, very dangerous, toxic subprime loans, they were chopping them up and then packaging them as AAA-rated investments, and then selling them to state pension funds, to insurance companies, to Chinese banks and Dutch banks and Icelandic banks. And, of course, these things were blowing up, and all those funds were going broke. But what they’re doing now is they’re blaming the people who were collecting these pensions—they’re blaming the workers, they’re blaming the firemen, they’re blaming the policemen—whereas, in reality, they were actually the victims of this fraud scheme. And the only reason that people aren’t angrier about this, I think, is because they don’t really understand what happened. If these were car companies that had sold a trillion dollars’ worth of defective cars to the citizens of the United States, there would be riots right now. But these were mortgage-backed securities, it’s complicated, people don’t understand it, and they’re only now, I think, beginning to realize that they were defrauded.

AMY GOODMAN: Explain what the crime is. Who has profited? Who should be on trial?

MATT TAIBBI: Well, you know, again, the broad crime in all of this was just fraud. They were taking—these banks were taking, again, these subprime mortgages, and they would have these billion-dollar pools of mortgages where, in some cases, 70 or 80 percent of the loans were to people who had no identification or no jobs or who had put no money down into the mortgage. And then they were taking these loans and applying this phony baloney, hocus pocus math, these derivative instruments, and turning them into AAA-rated investments. And they were marketing, again, these securities to, say, state pension funds as AAA-rated investments, which means credit risk almost zero. So they took the stuff that they knew was very, very risky and very, very likely to default, and they were going to the state of Wisconsin, the state of Ohio, the state of New York, and saying, "Hey, this is almost as safe as—or in fact, it is as safe as United States Treasury bonds. You should buy this, and you’ll earn a little bit more than you’ll earn if you buy T-bills." The reality was, they were just taking absolutely worthless stuff and sticking it with these people and then fleeing the scene. This is no different than drug dealers who take a bag of oregano and sell it to you as, you know, a pound of weed. That’s exactly the same scam.

AMY GOODMAN: Talk about John Mack and Gary Aguirre.

MATT TAIBBI: This is an amazing story, just because it demonstrates how far above the law these people are. John Mack is one of the most powerful people on Wall Street. Right now he’s the chairman of the board at Morgan Stanley. He used to be their CEO. Way back in 2001, when he was sort of between jobs, he had left Morgan Stanley and was interviewing with Credit Suisse First Boston. He was involved in a case that was investigated by the SEC. A hedge fund called Pequot made a very suspicious investment into a company called Heller Capital, which was about to be acquired by General Electric. This hedge fund bought, you know, an enormous amount of Heller stock three weeks before this acquisition by GE of Heller. Credit Suisse First Boston was Heller’s investment banker. John Mack was interviewing for the job with Credit Suisse a few days before Pequot made its purchases, and he was in direct contact with the hedge fund guy who made those purchases. Under any normal circumstances, he would be targeted for investigation by the SEC.

AMY GOODMAN: And his name was?

MATT TAIBBI: The investigator’s name was Gary Aguirre. And Aguirre—

AMY GOODMAN: And the guy buying up?

MATT TAIBBI: Art Samberg was the name of this hedge fund manager. He was a big star on Wall Street. In fact, there are articles about, you know, how does Art Samberg manage his amazing returns year after year? Well, you know, this was sort of a clue as to how.

Anyway, this SEC investigator named Gary Aguirre wanted permission to go interview John Mack, and his superiors at the SEC told him—they basically told him that he couldn’t, and the reason they said was because Mack has, quote-unquote, "powerful political connections." At the time, he was a Ranger, one of Bush’s fundraising Rangers. He would later become a major fundraiser for Hillary Clinton. So he played both sides of the fence. This, again, is very typical of Wall Street. And Aguirre, when he pressed the matter, he was fired by the SEC.

AMY GOODMAN: And talk about the high-level people involved, like Mary Jo White.

MATT TAIBBI: Mary Jo White was the former U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York. She was basically Rudy Giuliani for a few years. This is the top cop on Wall Street, basically. And she, at the time, was representing Morgan Stanley for the defense firm Debevoise & Plimpton. Again, this is what all these investigators do. When you leave a high-ranking position from the SEC or the U.S. attorney’s office, they all jump to these lucrative partnerships at corporate defense firms, where they make, you know, $2, $3, $4 million a year. So the incentives to really prosecute these guys are all backwards. And they all leave, and they take these jobs. Mary Jo White had left the U.S. attorney’s office. She’s representing Debevoise & Plimpton. She intercedes on behalf of Mack. And one of the SEC officials that she was in contact with, Paul Berger, Aguirre’s superior, ended up working for Debevoise & Plimpton a year later. And this is a very typical situation.

AMY GOODMAN: And Aguirre is fired.

MATT TAIBBI: He’s fired. He was—

AMY GOODMAN: He’s told to investigate, and then he starts to seriously investigate, and he’s fired.

MATT TAIBBI: Right. They gave him—two days after he started work at the SEC, one of his superiors handed him Pequot, just generally. They said, you know, "Look at this company." Within a year or so, he was onto the Samberg case, and he had targeted Mack as a clear suspect in the case. He had overwhelming evidence. I mean, there were emails, there was documentary evidence. They put Martha Stewart in jail for much, much less than they had on Mack.

AMY GOODMAN: What did they have on Mack?

MATT TAIBBI: Well, again, they had emails demonstrating that Mack had been in touch by telephone with Samberg. They had the fact that Samberg had a personal relationship with Mack. They knew that the company had never had any meetings about this Heller Capital. It was—Aguirre described it to me as though Samberg awoke one morning, and God Himself told him to start buying shares of Heller Capital. And they had the fact that Mack was clearly privy to the inside information. He had had this meeting with Credit Suisse. He would later say that he destroyed his notes of his meeting with Credit Suisse on the way home from Switzerland, after that meeting. But clearly, he was—under any normal circumstances, he would have been targeted, would have been interviewed, but he was not.

AMY GOODMAN: So, Pequot is bought up?

MATT TAIBBI: Right. Well, no, Heller was bought.

AMY GOODMAN: Heller was bought up.

MATT TAIBBI: By GE, of course.

AMY GOODMAN: By GE. And how much does Samberg make? How much does—

MATT TAIBBI: He made—Samberg made $18 million on that trade. Another important part of the story is that Mack—Samberg cut Mack into a different deal that Pequot was doing, and as a result of that deal, Mack made about $10 million. So, all the dots connect. You know, Mack comes back from Switzerland. Samberg starts buying Heller. GE acquires Heller. Samberg makes $18 million. Mack gets cut in for $10 million. This is the outlines of a classic insider trading case.

AMY GOODMAN: So you think Mack should be in jail.

MATT TAIBBI: Well, he should—absolutely he should have been on trial. I mean, you know, it’s not for me to say; I’m not a jury. But clearly, they have prosecuted on far less evidence before.

AMY GOODMAN: Matt Taibbi, talk about Dick Fuld.

MATT TAIBBI: Well, Richard Fuld, whose nickname on Wall Street was "The Gorilla," he was the head of Lehman Brothers. He was a much feared and ferocious character on Wall Street. And Fuld, again, he oversaw Lehman during this period when it was going through its death spiral, and there were a number of irregularities about Fuld that were extremely interesting.

I talked to a former Lehman Brothers lawyer named Oliver Budde, who was responsible for vetting some of Lehman’s public disclosures, and Budde discovered that Lehman had been hiding about $250 million worth of Fuld’s income from the SEC in its public disclosures. He, too, ended up having to leave his job because he was told that he couldn’t do his job. He protested the way that Lehman was doing its disclosures. He got kicked out. He went to the SEC in 2008, six months before its collapse. He gave them a huge packet of information about what Fuld was doing, and he was completely blown off by the SEC. He tried repeatedly over a period of six months to get them interested in the case. They said no.

When Fuld later testified before Congress, after the company’s collapse, he told Congress that he had only earned somewhere in the region of $350 million during his tenure at Lehman. Budde knew that the real number was more like $520 million. He told the committee members in Congress that Fuld had probably lied while he was testifying. And they weren’t interested in that, either. So here we have a situation where Roger Clemens is being investigated—you know, the state is trying to put Roger Clemens, baseball star, in jail for lying to Congress, but Dick Fuld apparently is not worth going after.

AMY GOODMAN: A man recently named the worst CEO of all time—


AMY GOODMAN:—by Portfolio magazine.

MATT TAIBBI: Absolutely. Again, Fuld presided over Lehman during this period where it was engaged in all sorts of irregularities. I mean, aside from this matter of hiding his own personal income, Lehman, during the last few years of its existence, was engaged in these very, very shady transactions called the "Repo 105" transactions. This was a kind of Enron-esque accounting where they were essentially borrowing tens of billions of dollars at the end of every quarter and then booking all that money as revenue. So, if you were an investor in Lehman Brothers and you’re looking at their bottom line, you’re thinking, "Hey, they’re making a lot of money. They’re doing great." In fact, those were all loans, and after the quarter was over they were repaying that money. And it was guys like Fuld who were cashing out while everybody else was staying in.

AMY GOODMAN: Oliver Budde, who was he?

MATT TAIBBI: He was Lehman’s lawyer. He was the guy who uncovered those irregularities about Fuld’s reporting income, and he was the guy who went to the SEC and was told that, you know, they weren’t interested in his story.

AMY GOODMAN: No regulation?

MATT TAIBBI: Well, no. I mean, clearly—you know, the interesting thing about the Fuld case is that Lehman had been taking advantage of a loophole in the SEC’s rules in the early part of the 2000s to misreport Fuld’s income. But they actually caught themselves. They noticed that this practice was very widespread, and they created a new rule specifically to target this kind of income hiding that Fuld was doing. But they created the rule, but they didn’t do anything about it. They had clear cases of this rule being misused, and they chose not to do anything about it. So, even when we do have regulation on Wall Street, the laws are really often meaningless, because you need someone who has the will to prosecute, the will to investigate, to make them real.

AMY GOODMAN: Has anyone gone to jail?

MATT TAIBBI: Well, Bernie Madoff. And clearly, he’s the only person in this whole tableau—

AMY GOODMAN: Always called the greatest swindle of all time.

MATT TAIBBI: Right. But Bernie Madoff, honestly, compared to all these other guys, he’s really small potatoes. He’s also not really representative of what went on on Wall Street during this period. He’s a garden variety Ponzi scheme artist. Of course, he did it on a much bigger scale than most Ponzi scheme artists, but this is a crime that could have happened in the '20s, the ’30s, the ’40s. It had nothing to do with this incredibly sophisticated, complex criminal fraud scheme involving, you know, the mortgage bubble and the sale of these phony baloney mortgage-backed securities. Madoff had nothing to do with that. He was just a garden variety criminal. And this is exactly the kind of case that the SEC and the Justice Department do prosecute: these outliers, these guys who are not part of the top echelon executives. And they make these cases, and they say, "Here's evidence we’re doing our job." The reality is very different.

AMY GOODMAN: So, talk, Matt Taibbi, about what are the repercussions of what happened. What did the 2008 crash mean?

MATT TAIBBI: Well, it was—you know, this was the collapse of a giant bubble scheme. You know, when they did this, when they pumped the whole country full of these defective cars, which were these defective mortgages, it created a very, very dangerous situation for the entire country. They ended up essentially bankrupting or fatally wounding pension funds and insurance companies and banks all over the country. And so, now we’re all paying for those phony scams.

But the other amazing thing that they did is, you know, the banks, when they flooded the market with these phony securities, some of them were smart enough to realize that they were eventually going to blow, so they started betting against them. They went to companies like AIG, and they took out trillions of dollars of credit default swaps and pseudo-insurance policies on these mortgages. When they all blew up, you know, it blew up some of these companies, like AIG. And that’s what the bailout was really all about. The bailout wasn’t really to pay off real losses in these mortgages. It was really to pay off the bets on these mortgages. So, not only did they flood the market with a trillion dollars of defective merchandise, they got the United States taxpayer to pony up $5, $6, $7 trillion worth of bailout money to pay off their bets on all this stuff.

AMY GOODMAN: Which brings in the Obama administration. You talk about a lot of this happening under President Bush, but talk about what the Obama administration, what Geithner—talk about also Alan Greenspan, through the Bush years.

MATT TAIBBI: Right. Well, the most important thing to get from the Obama administration is that its economic policy represented absolute continuity with the policy of the previous administration. Timothy Geithner was the principal architect of Bush’s bailouts, and he was retained. Ben Bernanke, who was the head of the Fed under Bush, stayed on under Obama.

And they essentially continued the same bailout policy, which, again, was essentially to tell Wall Street that we’re going to make you whole again. You know, after they flooded the entire international economy with all these toxic debt instruments, their policy was to get Wall Street well again, and ostensibly they were supposed to reinvest in the economy and put people back to work. But instead, they just kept the money. And, I mean, they literally went from being completely insolvent to, you know, making $150 billion bonus pools every year, and that money is all public money. It’s pure bailout gift from the taxpayer.

AMY GOODMAN: Is Obama doing this because he’s got to raise a billion dollars in 2012 for the presidential race, and he’s going to turn to Wall Street for this?

MATT TAIBBI: Well, clearly. You know, look, Barack Obama’s number one private campaign contributor was Goldman Sachs. He took more money from Wall Street than any other presidential candidate in history. He was heavily influenced by Wall Street guys. When he was elected, he immediately put Citigroup executives in charge of his economic transition team. I remember when I was covering his campaign how he promised never to bring a registered lobbyist into his cabinet. And one of the first things he did was put Mark Patterson, Goldman Sachs’s lobbyist, in the number two job at the Treasury. He’s got a JPMorgan Chase executive, who has $8 million in Chase stock, as the chief of staff right now. He’s been incredibly friendly to Wall Street. These guys have remained the architects of his economic policy.

AMY GOODMAN: And Jeffrey Immelt, head of GE?

MATT TAIBBI: Well, yeah. I mean, obviously he was a key player, as well. Again, its continuity with the previous administration is the key thing to focus on.

AMY GOODMAN: Alan Greenspan?

MATT TAIBBI: Well, Greenspan—I think what people don’t understand about the Fed is what an important role the Fed plays in this entire mess. Going back, you know, 20, 25 years, every time Wall Street gets in a lot of trouble, the Fed has been there to bail them out. They even had a term for it on Wall Street called the "Greenspan Put," which essentially meant that every time the banks blew up a speculative bubble, they could go back to the Fed and borrow money at zero or one or two percent, and then start the game all over again.

After the crash in 2008, interest rates were slashed to basically nothing. The banks could go to the Fed and get money for free, and then they’re out lending it to us at five, six, seven—I mean, how much is your interest on your credit cards? It’s 15, 20 percent. It’s almost impossible not to make money in banking if your cost of capital is zero. That’s what banking is all about. And that’s what the Fed has done. It’s provided a massive subsidy system for the banks on Wall Street.

AMY GOODMAN: You say in your article that the justice system has actually evolved into a highly effective mechanism for protecting financial criminals, not just not prosecuting them, but protecting them.

MATT TAIBBI: Right. Well, one of the things that I found out when I was interviewing former SEC officials and whistleblowers, people who had been involved in some of these cases, is, you know, when you look at the revolving door situation with all these—the Mary Jo Whites and the Gary Lynches and the Linda Thompsons, these former high-ranking financial cops who leave government service and they go to work in these millionaire partnerships on Wall Street, it creates this collegial atmosphere where it’s just a few—a small group of lawyers who all know each other, and they’re in this constant merry-go-round, from government, back to private service, back to government again, and they’re really in this—it’s far too collegial.

There’s a scene in my story where the current head of the SEC enforcement, Robert Khuzami, is giving a speech to all these lawyers, and he’s saying, you know, "We have a new policy now where if you’re a defendant or if you’re a company that’s being investigated, you can come to the SEC, and we will get you answers as to whether or not the Department of Justice has a criminal interest in your case." So, essentially, the SEC is now acting as a middleman for these companies, so they can go and find out whether they’re going to be criminally prosecuted. Then, once they get that information, they can make a decision about whether or not to settle financially with the SEC. And they pay a settlement. Nobody gets criminally prosecuted. No individuals ever get fined. They pay these fines, and they almost always have a little section in there that says that they do not admit wrongdoing. So, they don’t even have to say they’re sorry, essentially. These companies go and they pay their fines. No individuals have to suffer at all. And it’s all done in a very collegial way.

AMY GOODMAN: You suggest in your piece that Bernie Madoff went to jail because it was rich people who were the victims.

MATT TAIBBI: Absolutely. Every single former investigator or current investigator that I talked to said the same thing: Madoff went to jail because the wrong people suffered. You know, it was famous actors. It was, you know, the glitterati in New York. If these were teachers and firemen and all the usual suspects—you know, look at the—we have a million people in foreclosure in this country right now, and a lot of them are there because of predatory lending and because of this fraud scheme, but there are no criminal prosecutions. I think that’s the reality now, is that we don’t see anybody being criminally targeted unless their victims were powerful people themselves.

AMY GOODMAN: Talk about Lynn Turner, the former chief accountant for the SEC, the Securities and Exchange Commission.

MATT TAIBBI: Yeah, Lynn Turner was the guy that I talked to, the former chief accountant—the chief accountant’s job at the SEC is actually an investigatory position. What they do is they look at disclosure violations, which means, you know, when companies issue their SEC quarterly reports, they have to make sure that everything that they say in those reports are accurate. That’s the chief accountant’s job. And Turner told me that, you know, that was his job, and in his experience, he saw case after case in which they had good evidence against companies that were involved in very shady dealings, and these cases were either slowed down or not pursued at all.

He gave me an example, you know, the Rite Aid case, which of course turned into—there were many cases like Rite Aid, that, you know, they had this case years before the Enron case blew up. They maybe could have done something about Enron if they had proceeded fast enough.

AMY GOODMAN: And the Rite Aid case was?

MATT TAIBBI: Well, Rite Aid was a company that was hiding billions of dollars in losses. It’s similar to the Lehman Brothers situation. They were trying to make their bottom line look better for shareholders, so they created, you know, these little cookie jar companies to hide their losses in. This is very similar to what Enron was doing, very similar to what WorldCom was doing. They had plenty of evidence on this case, but the case went nowhere for seven, eight years. And this is the typical MO of the SEC. They just do not act fast enough.

AMY GOODMAN: You mention that before the corruption starts, the state is at a disadvantage because policing Wall Street requires serious intellectual firepower, and the banks seize a huge advantage from the start by hiring away the top talent.

MATT TAIBBI: Yeah, you know, one lawyer I talked to put it to me this way. He said everybody knows that the top 80 percent of all the graduating classes of all the best law schools, they go to Wall Street. They go to these corporate defense firms where they get the real money-making jobs. The bottom 20 percent, he says, go to the SEC. That’s the way this works. And, you know, the way he described it, he says, "It’s just such a mismatch, it’s not even funny." And even that 20 percent, of course, they get roped into the revolving door situation, so if any talent rises from that pool into positions of responsibility, they get lured away by the million-dollar partnerships.

So what your left is—you know, not to insult the people who work at the SEC, but clearly, the very best and brightest lawyers are working for these banks, where they continually come up with these very fiendish and almost brilliant defenses for the schemes that their companies are involved with. They always find a way to claim that what we did was legal, and they come up with these elaborate justifications. And some of these lawyers are really overwhelmed by these justifications, and they end up, you know, not having the gumption to prosecute or move forward with cases.

AMY GOODMAN: You think of the thousands of people who have been deported in the last years?

MATT TAIBBI: Three hundred and ninety-three thousand last year.

AMY GOODMAN: You think of the people who have gone to prison and what they’ve gone to prison for.

MATT TAIBBI: Right, right. You know, it’s incredible. I mean, there was a case in Ohio that somebody forwarded to me, where a woman, a single—a black single mother of two children, she lied about where she was living so that her two kids could get into a better school system. And the state of Ohio actually prosecuted her for fraud, and the judge in that case insisted—they sentenced her to, actually, I think it was five years in jail, but they insisted that she actually do 15 days. And the judge’s quote in that case was that if she didn’t do real jail time, that would demean the seriousness of the offense. And so, I mean, the case was ultimately commuted because of the public outcry, but this, to me, is symptomatic of what we’re dealing with here.

You have people in this country who—we have two-and-a-half million people in jail this country, you know, more than a million who are in jail for nonviolent crimes. And yet, we couldn’t find a single person on Wall Street to do even a day in jail for losing 40 percent of the world’s wealth in a criminal fraud scheme? And that tells you that we have—this goes beyond the cliché that rich people have better lawyers and they have an advantage. This is a step beyond that. This is a situation where the system is completely corrupted, and it’s true regulatory capture. The SEC and the Justice Department are essentially subsidiaries of Wall Street.

AMY GOODMAN: Finally, you mentioned Obama’s chief of staff, Bill Daley, newly appointed. What, $20 million he made last year, mainly from Chase.

MATT TAIBBI: Right, right. I mean, it’s—

AMY GOODMAN: What about the media coverage, when people are being appointed, when these deals are made, talking about just basic tenets of good journalism, following the money, talking about who’s profiting where and who’s surrounding those who are making these decisions?

MATT TAIBBI: Well, it’s funny. The general narrative with political journalism in this country—and I know, because I was one of these people for a long time. I covered presidential campaigns and presidential politics. A lot of the reporters who cover the stuff don’t know a whole lot about economics, and so they believe this sort of general notion that the guys on Wall Street are the experts; if you want to have somebody running your economy, you have to go to the experts; so it makes perfect sense that the President would want to surround himself with executives from Citigroup and Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase. And I think that their thinking doesn’t really get any more sophisticated than that. And so, a lot of these guys get a pass. Then people don’t really look at what these companies have been up to, what kind of influence they might have over the President’s decision making. And so, I think there isn’t very much coverage. There isn’t enough debate about what these appointments mean.

AMY GOODMAN: If you were president, what would you do right now?

MATT TAIBBI: Well, I would certainly get rid of all those guys, you know, from Wall Street. I think there needs to be a freeze on foreclosures. I mean, there’s all kinds of things that need to be done. But the most important thing is we have to, you know, get the right people into bodies like the SEC and the Justice Department. Everybody I talked to said the same thing. The existing laws we have, you know, they’re not perfect, but they’re probably good enough to do some real good. It’s just that we don’t have the right people in the jobs, and the will isn’t there to do these prosecutions. So, I think we’ve just got to get the right people in the right jobs.

AMY GOODMAN: Matt Taibbi, his latest piece, "Why Isn’t Wall Street in Jail?" It’s in the latest issue of Rolling Stone magazine. Thanks so much.

MATT TAIBBI: Thank you, Amy.

Mideast turmoil brings soaring oil prices

Turk - Dollar Ready to Collapse, Silver Squeeze to Continue

With gold higher and silver up almost $1.30, King World News today interviewed James Turk out of Spain. Turk had this rather frightening warning about the dollar, “The dollar right now is hanging on the precipice. If we break below 77 on the dollar index, look out below. I don’t think people really appreciate how scary the dollar chart is here, or how ominous the implications really are. There’s no predicting how far the dollar could plunge if confidence breaks.”

Turk continues:

“You’ve got civil war breaking out in North Africa and you have rebellions happening in the Middle-East. In this kind of geopolitical situation, in the past the US dollar would always rally, but this time it can’t even bounce. You know Eric the other side of this coin is that if the dollar falls off the edge of a cliff, precious metals are going to skyrocket.”

When asked about silver Turk stated, “During the most illiquid time of the trading day, somebody decided to take out all of the stops in silver. If you were not following during business hours in the Pacific Ocean you missed it. I woke up this morning and looked at the chart and couldn’t believe what happened while I was sleeping.

The important point Eric is that no technical damage was done and in fact the situation has become even more bullish because that little smack down overnight took out all of the weak hands.

With this month’s important options expiry now behind us, I’m looking for higher prices next week. Even though the March/May spread has flattened a little, the backwardation continues to grow to 2015 and has ballooned further to $1.16. The short squeeze is continuing to develop. The shorts are trapped and whether the trap springs this week or in a month or two I don’t know, but we are getting very close.”

When asked about gold specifically Turk remarked, “While silver did get hit in overnight trading, gold hardly moved and then snapped right back. Remember I said last time that the gold chart is beginning to look really strong, that is what the event last night displayed.

Gold is incredibly resilient and looks coiled for an explosive move higher. We started our initial probe of the all-time high this week closing in on $1,430 before backing off. Look for another probe of that $1,430 level very soon. It won’t be long Eric before we take out that all-time high, particularly if the dollar falls off the edge of a cliff.”

It is worth noting that in his King World News interview today Art Cashin also warned about the US Dollar being on the verge of serious trouble. KWN readers globally should keep a close eye on the dollar next week to see if it begins to break down. If that happens it will increase bids in both the gold and silver markets.

Eric King

Pressure on Osborne as economic downturn is bigger than expected

The economic slowdown at the end of last year was worse than previously thought – ramping up pressure on the Chancellor to kickstart the recovery in next month’s Budget.

The size of the economy shrunk by 0.6 per cent between October and December, the Office for National Statistics said.

The original estimate of a 0.5 per cent contraction was blamed on one of the worst winters in recent memory, which led to a squeeze on retail sales.

But the new figures suggest that national output would have slipped into negative growth even without the weather.

The downturn is the largest fall on national income in more than two years, since the second quarter in 2009.

The figures were worse than economists expected and put pressure on the Chancellor to help boost the strength of the economy and its ability and justify the Government’s deficit-busting austerity measures.

The one piece of good news for homeowners is that the news of the downturn makes it less likely that the Bank of England will raise interest rates in the immediate future to combat inflation, while there is any danger of a double dip recession.

The Treasury remained upbeat and insisted that the government would not be diverted from its course of cutting Britain’s huge budget deficit.

Officials said initial returns from economic surveys suggest there was an increase in economic activity in January – staving off the threat of a double dip when the next set of figures are announced in April.

Recession fears: Household spending also declined by 0.1%, the first drop since the second quarter of 2009

Recession fears: Household spending also declined by 0.1%, the first drop since the second quarter of 2009


A spokesman said: ‘The Chancellor said that the fourth quarter growth figures were disappointing and today’s revision doesn’t change that fact.

‘It also doesn’t change the need to deal with the nation’s credit card - the country is borrowing more this year than is spent on the entire NHS.’

The key services sector - which makes up more than 75 per cent of the total economy - declined by 0.6 per cent in the fourth quarter, compared to an original estimate of a decline of 0.5 per cent.

The manufacturing sector did not fare as well as originally thought either, as output increased by 1.1 per cent, revised down from growth of 1.4 per cent.

Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls leapt on the figures: ‘These are disappointing figures which confirm that the recovery stalled and the economy contracted at the end of last year, even once the effects of the snow have been taken into account.

‘Of course we should always treat one quarter’s figures with caution, but it is not cautious for the Treasury to plough on regardless.

‘George Osborne was complacent in declaring before Christmas that he had saved the economy and secured the recovery. And he is being complacent now in refusing to accept that his choice to cut too deep and too fast is holding back our economy and putting jobs at risk.’

But the Chancellor won support from business groups.

David Kern, Chief Economist at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said: ‘We should not be despondent. There are signs that growth rebounded in the first quarter of this year, and it is important to remember that the fourth quarter figures were affected by severe weather conditions. We believe that the Government must persevere with its deficit-cutting programme.’

David Frost, the Director General of the BCC, said: ‘We need to see the Government taking some pro-growth steps and deliver a Budget which boosts business confidence, encourages investment and rekindles the spirit of enterprise.

‘If the Government provides a radical framework, business will do what it does best - creating wealth and jobs, innovating to deliver strong companies and providing the much needed growth for this country.’

John McLaughlin: "Freedom Is Most Overrated; When People Are Scared They Want The Nanny State"

McLaughlin is wrong. When people are scared and angry, they attack groups they perceive to be getting a free, cushioned ride. Hello, Wall Street.

Monica Crowley gets it right; the answer is Tim Geithner.


US Republicans float short-term spending plan

Eric Cantor ©AFP/Getty Images/Chip Somodevilla

WASHINGTON (AFP) - President Barack Obama's Republican foes in the US Congress challenged Democrats Friday to embrace a short-term spending bill they said was designed to avert a looming government shutdown.

"Let me be clear. A government shutdown is not an acceptable or responsible option for Republicans," the number-two House of Representatives Republican, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, told reporters on a conference call.

The US government could suffer a partial shutdown unless polarized lawmakers in the Senate and House of Representatives agree on a compromise to replace a current stopgap spending measure that expires at midnight March 4.

Cantor said the new Republican-drafted "continuing resolution" would fund the government to March 19 and cut some $4 billion in government spending while all sides pursue negotiations on a broader accord.

"If they walk away from this offer, they're then actively engineering a government shutdown," Republican Representative Peter Roskam, one of the party's senior vote-counters, said on the same conference call.

Details of the plan were to be available later in the day, and Senate Democrats did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

But the Washington Post reported Senate Democrats were drafting a seven-month spending measure that would accelerate some $33 billion in spending cuts and program terminations included in Obama's proposed budget for next year as part of an effort to rein in Washington.

All sides have said that they want to avoid a government shutdown and sought to pin the blame on their political foes for such an outcome if it occurs and disrupts many services and idles hundreds of thousands of government employees.

Then-president Bill Clinton successfully pinned the blame on Republicans for a 21-day shutdown in 1995-1996 and coasted to reelection in November 1996 while portraying his political foes as radicals.

© AFP -- Published at Activist Post with license

New Google Algorithm is Live: News Aggregators Will Be Punished

Eric Blair & Michael Edwards
Activist Post

Just over a month ago, Google announced that they were changing their algorithm in order to weaken the search engine rankings of sites they deem to be "content farmers."

Whereas most of Google's algorithm changes are barely noticeable, the current change that they have been working on since last January will affect 12% of U.S. searches.

There has been much debate about what "content farming" is, and Google has done little to offer a clear explanation, simply stating, "low quality" or "shallow" sites would be affected. This is similar to the vague definition of pornography -- you'll know it when you see it.

The problem with such a vague approach to what is a strictly defined algorithm is that it leaves too much room for a human interpretation. And as we have seen, Google has been exposed as having connections to U.S. intelligence agencies, which doesn't bode well for alternative news sites that aggregate anti-establishment stories from around the web. Given the other censorship threats facing the Internet, it seems those who might be critical of Internet control and real-time surveillance of average Americans are being targeted.

One definition of content farming sites comes from Danny Sullivan at Search Engine Land:
  • Looks to see what are popular searches in a particular category (news, help topics)
  • Generates content specifically tailored to those searches
  • Usually spends very little time and or money, even perhaps as little as possible, to generate that content
The first point is particularly troubling for alternative news, since these are the sites who often scour mainstream news to discover which topics are of popular interest so that competing commentary can be offered on a given issue. Even in the area of "help topics" there are many alternative news sites, such as our own, who focus on tips for survival, protection from economic crisis, advice for privacy protection and personal security, etc.

Again, with the overshadowing definition of "shallow" content, who is deciding this? Furthermore, point two addresses tailoring content for specific searches, which sounds a lot like the "Google Bombs" introduced by Alex Jones and implemented by others as an effective way to compete with the mainstream media pablum, which focuses heavily on celebrities, sports, and other truly shallow and low quality content.

And, finally, point three seems to penalize blogs and other low-cost means of sharing opinions, as if not having a mainstream media budget automatically implies low quality, when provably the reverse is often true. Those who research information and present their own opinions as to the significance of what they have studied generally are doing so out of a passion to expose lies and direct their fellow man to the truth.

Google's punishment of those who re-post material as an essential tool for sharing information appears to now reduce news aggregators to the status of plagiarists within the algorithm. There are many alternative news sites and blogs which have original material that they freely share, in part or in full, purely to support one another in disseminating the truth. We all know what plagiarism looks like and a link back to the original source should not, for instance, be grounds for labeling a site as shallow.

Google needs to address the vital tool of sharing information, as well as to more clearly define their algorithm in upcoming press releases, or we can only conclude that they have begun to wage war on news sites who aggregate information to present an alternative to establishment media.

Read Google's announcement here

Forever In Their Debt: "In Congress Emergency Means You Don't Need To Pay For It"

ABC Video - Jonathan Karl - June 2010

To demonstrate how quickly the national debt is growing, we are posting this clip that aired on ABC seven months ago when the debt first crossed $13 trillion. We are now past $14 trillion. Excellent reporting from Jonathan Karl, including hypocrisy from Harry Reid that confirms what you already know.


Greenback Armageddon Ahead?

Alex Jones, Patriot ? ... How about Alex Jones total media whore !

Poor Alex ... after getting a little taste of fame, with Jesse Ventura .. it now appears Charlie Sheen just has to snap his fingers and AJ comes running and slides to a stop on his knees waiting to 'service' his master.
People in the patriot community have for years, known that AJ gets positively giddy in the presence of famous folks, but he used to at least attempt to tie it to something of legitimate interest to cover up his disgusting pandering. Not anymore !
Regardless of whether it's the DC Madam, Charlie Sheen, or Bozo the Clown, if it means 'face time' on the MSM TV networks, or more clicks on his website, Our boy AJ will go anywhere, or do anything, to end up in a nice 8x10 glossy with whoever the 'flash in the pan' is this week.
Even those who feel that they must go on AJ's show to get their message out to a wider audience, are in increasing numbers, acting like the kid who had to take his ugly cousin to the dance. They do it, but you can tell that his bellicose shouting, and constant interruptions, make them uncomfortable and they don't like it, and mostly just want to get it over with.
You would think that Alex would have the decency not to feed into some spoiled, self destructive, narcissistic, idiot like Charlie Sheen as he self destructs in front of the whole world with pills, alcohol, and whores, but think again !
Apparently, Alex doesn't care any more about his guests the he does about his audience, as long as more people buy his books, and tapes, and t-shirts, and CD's, and Videos, and on, and on, ad infinitum .
I'll tell you the truth, I half way expected to hear that he had Gadaffi on his show to 'tell his side of the story', but then after thinking about it for a minute, I'm sure there is a better chance that Gadaffi would rather go on food stamps, or open a kosher deli on 42nd street in New York.
However, after considering it for a moment, Charlie and Alex have a lot in common !
Come to think of it, they pretty much deserve each other.

Calling a Spade ... A Spade !

"People accuse me of trying to over simplify things sometimes .. and maybe they are right .. They tell me it is a desperate attempt to wrap my limited intelligence around some pretty complicated issues that I couldn't possibly understand because of their complexity, and while I'm willing to concede the possibility, I tend to see it as an attempt on my part to take the rivers of 'you know what' emanating from 'The Government' and 'The Main Stream Media' and 'The Politicians' and 'The Think Tanks' and on and on .. and turn a high pressure hose on that steaming heap of 'information' until all that's left is the truth, the facts, the real stuff ! .... And That's My Story and I'm Sticking to It !!"

As my bloodshot eyes were scanning an article about Hillary, this morning, I noticed that she called the Israeli Settlements 'Illegitimate'. Somehow at 3:30 AM, after sitting in front of a computer screen all day, the term seemed slightly odd to me, and I sat back for a minute to think about it. After a couple of minutes, I got to thinking about why she didn't say 'illegal'.There are legal connotations to both terms, and while I am not by any means a legal authority, it seemed to me that 'illegitimate' seemed at first, like some kind of diplomatic double speak for phony or counterfeit so as to invalidate any claim, while on the other hand, the term 'illegal' seemed to denote the previous, as well as an additional responsibility to act to correct a violation of some clear law somewhere.I thought to myself of course ! She is explaing why we have no responsibility to 'act' on this injustice.

As I continued to contemplate the implications for this choice of terminology, despite Israel's 60 year reign of terror and genocide against the Palestinians' rights and freedom (among other things). It occurred to me that if I were arguing with some Pro-Zionist Jew, about how he could possibly justify this horror that has taken place, he might just look me in the eye and jam his finger in my chest and say, "Who the hell are you, to be lecturing me ! It was only a few hundred years ago that you "Good Christians' landed on the Plymouth Rock seeking 'religious freedom' and then proceeded to kill, maim, subjugate, enslave, and generally wipe out millions of indigenous people in your country for the next 200 years or more ! You called it 'Eminent Domain' when you do it, but you call it genocide when we do it !"

And there it was ! Like a slap in the face, I knew why for years, even before I was aware of all that the Palestinians have suffered, discussions about the Palestinian Israeli questions always made me 'uncomfortable'. It was in a sense, an 800 pound gorilla in the room that over the years had become almost transparent.

Now for those who don't know me, I am a Christian, and I make no 'bones' about it, and I love GOD ! I am also an American and I love my country ! These things in my mind at least, shouldn't conflict. As a Christian I must examine the history of my country from a Christian perspective, and admit to the genocide we've committed in this country, as well as countries all over the world. Until we do this, We cannot fairly deal with other countries. It is only when we examine this issue that we come to realize why the rest of the world can hear only hypocrisy when we point our finger at them in condemnation. But point our finger we must !

As Americans, we must tell our friends and our enemies alike when they accuse us of this, "Yes you're right ! Absolutely right !" We must take 'ownership' of our heritage, all of it, not just the Flag, and the 4th of July, and that fuzzy feeling we get when they play the national anthem. We must stand before the world and proclaim, Yes, we have done these things as a country, and they were wrong ! They were indefensible ! and I hate that ! But I am an American ! and I love my country, none the less, and while I'm a little too late to change history, I cannot, and I will not stand by and and watch innocent people dying in Palestine and other countries all over the world because I don't wish to be 'uncomfortable' by being reminded of my country's own history as well as it's current policies.

Most folks don't like admitting they were wrong, and I guess it's natural enough, but we as a nation must admit it, because only then can we claim the 'moral authority' to point the finger at anyone else. We (as a country) need to man up and deal with it, and move on to the critical business of stopping the murder in Palestine and around the world !

My religion teaches me that if I 'repent' of my actions and ask HIS forgiveness, that GOD will forgive me. Repent (as I understand it) doesn't mean "Sorry bout that", it means stop going in the direction you have been, and change your direction, change your behavior and your actions.

GOD may forgive us for our past, but HE will not forgive us for standing by and watching as evil sweeps the globe unopposed, if we fail to confront that evil inside and outside of our country.

If we don't do that, then we as a nation, will have a very short, and a very painful future, and we can't blame it on God or anyone, or anything else, because we will have brought it on ourselves !

The Saga of Lara
Logan .. Part ll !

Well folks as you may have imagined, today I grabbed my pick and shovel and went out on the net to see what gems of truth I could find to fill in the holes on this story. What I found out was quite another matter, as it appears that, if not the story, at least the way the story is being handled has been orchestrated without a doubt.

Since the invention of the fax machine (and later the net) those in power have had to change their approach to keeping things quiet. No longer could they suppress, kill and threaten those who know what's going on to keep it all hush hush. When somebody in Moscow, or Cairo or wherever can slip a document or picture into a fax machine, (or email) and have it pop out in New York City it became time to re-formulate their approach to 'security'. Apparently someone suggested the 'Gold Nugget in the bucket of mud' approach to hiding the facts. Since they could no longer hide the truth, they decided to dump tons of BS out there to help cover it up. Today I've been out there slogging through that mud. It's dirty time consuming work, but you would be surprised what you can find out if you have the time (and the stomach) to wade through it.

First of all I wont bore you with all the garbage I read today but suffice to say 98% of the sites were .. 'Oh Boo Hoo ..Poor Lara' .. stuff, mostly including an unbelievable amount of Anti-Arab, Anti-Muslim, Anti-Men, Anti-Egyptian 'clap trap' for lack of a better word. I expected this, I mean we're men right? We don't like to see women beat up or assaulted, it makes us mad and we want to protect women from all that. It's our nature. However .. I didn't quite expect the amount of vitriolic outpouring of hatred, racism, and Anti-Muslim bigotry I ran into.

Secondly, this is the first time I can remember, that I ran into so many websites that had the comments section CLOSED or so heavily moderated that no questioning of the story or comments about Logan herself were tolerated ! Even the 'drone' sites that just carried the straight story from CBS (Complete BullS hit ) mostly fell into this category. So people have to ask themselves what is it about this story that makes it sooo .. important that NO QUESTIONS about the full story and NO COMMENTS running contrary to their piece will be tolerated ! (Most of them shut down the comment section rather then even take a chance that someone might question what they were dishing out.) Getting that many sites to shut down their comment section for this (one) story is quite a feat ! Face it, that fact alone screams orchestrated !!
Third, a few years ago stories of her sexual exploits with the troops etc. were fairly common on the web, but it looks like they've been pretty well vacuumed up with the exception of this one .. In 2008, she became a minor tabloid press sensation – NY Post Page Six, and even the holiest of holies, The National Enquirerat the center of a Baghdad romantic triangle. One guy was a US Embassy attaché, the other a CNN reporter. from Mallory's Camera

Fourth, as the Committee to Protect Journalists correctly pointed out that 52 journalists were attacked and 76 were imprisoned during the unrest in Egypt that led Mubarak to step down after 30 years in power. All have been released, it said. One journalist, Ahmad Mohamed Mahmoud of the Egyptian newspaper Al-Ta'awun, was killed while filming clashes near Tahrir Square, the CPJ said." .... Reuters ( So with over 100 journalists attacked or arrested Why Lara Logan ? .. What makes this story so 'special' ? )

As I mentioned in my previous article yesterday, "this just don't feel, look, or smell right !" For instance even Susan Milligan from US News (Hardly a Muslim friendly person, had to admit ..) "In Muslim Albania, I found that rebels who stopped to check us for weapons would barely touch me, although they would examine my male colleagues in a way that would make a TSA screener blush. As Muslims, they automatically recoiled at touching a strange woman .. (I’d pull open my field vest to show I had no weapons, which was enough)"

"The Wall Street Journal cited an unnamed source as saying Logan, a married mother, was not raped, however, details regarding the exact nature of the assault remain unclear. ... Neither CBS nor Logan reported the crime to Egyptian authorities " The Post Chronicle
"The difference was Coopers attack and the arrest and assault on journalist at that time, supposedly came from pro Mubarak forces trying to squelch the uprising. Logan 's assault came at a time when .. the Egyptian people were jubilant and celebrating in the streets of Cairo" Yahoo Associated Content

"It is unclear whether Friday's assault against Ms. Logan had political aims." WSJ

I could fill up 3 more pages of these quotes but as Mike Rivero @ commented .. "This Logan story is a repeat the Jessica Lynch hoax used to help sell the Iraq war, only it turned out Jessica wasn’t such an innocent lady after all." (Complete with pix of her) and I tend to agree with him.

If this wasn't a 'put up job' to throw mud on the Egyptians, Muslims, and Arabs in general, coming out of Israel through their control of the Media, it would be the first time in history ! So stay tuned folks, If I were a betting man I'd be looking for pix or videos of her with at least a black eye (from her vicious 'assault') to show up in the next few days to two weeks, even if she has to go back over and hire somebody to get one !

Lara Logan Part l
"I've got an 8 pound Bass hanging on the wall that, if he could talk, would tell you what happens when you swallow anything that is presented without checking it out really well first, and this story smells like he would after about three days in the sun !"

I was talking to a friend of mine as I scanned the international news websites starting with Matt Drudge, when the headline blared out the news . As soon as I saw it, I immediately said, I bet it's Lara Logan !.. No I didn't have special powers, or inside info, but I do have a good memory.
I remembered the 'scuttlebutt' during the Iraq war and Afghanistan recounting her interesting habit of attempting to break the monotony over there by 'boinking' several soldiers and other contract employees sometimes in the back of pickup trucks and hummers. This practice was widely known by those who could get her anything she was in need of. (transportation to the front, permission to travel to certain destinations, information she could use, etc.) That's why I said I bet its Lara Logan. It just didn't smell right. (No pun intended) but back to the story.

So let's start out with the term most journalists and editors use until the facts are proven. The Term is 'allegedly' .
Were there any witnesses to this alleged 'sexual' assualt ? (as opposed to a crowd of people hollering at her, or smacking or pushing her around and in the process touching her in her 'no no places' as we tell our kids) You know witnesses are people willing to come forward and say 'Yep, I saw it, that's what happened all right'

The second red flag was the use of terms like 'she was surrounded by dangerous elements' and 'It was a crowd of 200 whipped up into a frenzy !' nothing suspicious here right ??!!

'She was rescued by a group of women and about 20 soldiers' .. so I assume one of them (at least) must have seen this alleged 'sexual' assault right? Did they attempt to take her to any hospital or anywhere else for medical treatment ? Did the soldiers attempt to round up those responsible ? Did in fact, anybody see this alleged sexual assault which presumably took place in a crowd of thousands of witnesses ? C'mon folks .. anybody ?

Another red flag (for me) was .. 'she was covering the 'jubilation in the square' and I thought to myself, is this what people in Egypt do when they are celebrating their new found freedom? Is this what I would do if I were an Egyptian and I had just heard that this tough fought battle against Mubarak was won ? At a time when I'd be standing there with my heart bursting with pride and my mouth filled with joyous chants, do I say .. 'Hey I'm so proud to re-write Egyptian history after years of oppression, let's go grab that american reporter and beat her up and have our way with her guys. I mean who will see it, who will notice? ... I think not.

Look folks we'd already seen Anderson Cooper being chased all over Cairo, and 'roughed up' (he must have come from a different neighborhood then were I grew up !) and sweet little Katie Couric run screaming to the airport after being 'crowded' so reporters being chased and screamed at, at this point, was getting to be a normal bill of fare on the TV news. Typical page 6 stuff.

Then along comes Lara, a little bigger, a little different, a little better story Lara. A reporter with a reputation for doing whatever it takes to get 'face time' on TV Lara.
I suspect that she knew that getting roughed up would have hardly elicited a yawn at that point, so she decided to 'pump it up' or 'sex it up' as the Brits would say, just a little. Let's make it more interesting. We'll add a little sex to the story (You know how those Americans love that stuff !)

Did they throw her down on the ground and gang rape her, or did some Egyptian in his excitement plant a wet one on her face without asking her permission first ? (the nerve !) I mean we know 'Those Mooslims' are known for sexually assaulting women in crowded squares in front of thousands of witnesses right ? Please !!

I've got an 8 pound Bass hanging on the wall that, if he could talk, would tell you what happens when you swallow anything that is presented without checking it out really well first, and this story smells like he would after about three days in the sun !

So, if "There will be 'no further comment from CBS News' and correspondent 'Logan and her family respectfully request privacy at this time" ... I guess we'll just have to take her word for it right ? (Not !!)
Sorry Lara, if its all true, you have my sympathies, but until I hear it from witnesses all I can say is ..Lara your reputation precedes you !

But true or false .. Let's examine how this story will play .. What's the subliminal message here ?.. What will the drones walk away with after reading it .. 'Those Egyptians have brought shame down on themselves and Egypt !' .. 'How brave our journalists are for facing these beatings and assaults in an effort to defend the 4th Estate !' ... Now who would want to put that kind of a message out ! Surely not the big MSM's like Fox, CNN, ABC, or CBS !

Now I'm aware that some REAL journalists were arrested and beaten etc, but as far as I can keep count, most of the 'talking heads' from the MSM that were there trying to use the occasion as a backdrop for there stories, ended up suffering mostly from shoulder sprains as a result of excessive 'patting themselves on the back' for being sooo brave !

Honestly, I'm beginning to think that CBS has come to stand for 'Complete Bull Shi # ..'
Yahoo's Story here ... Scroll down to the comments section at the bottom of the page .. Interestingly it says "There are no comments yet" and underneath that ..
"Comments have been closed for this article" well, I guess that's one way of stifling the input ! I wonder why?