By Eliot Spitzer
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Everybody is rushing to condemn AIG’s bonuses, but this simple scandal is obscuring the real disgrace at the insurance giant: Why are AIG’s counterparties getting paid back in full, to the tune of tens of billions of taxpayer dollars?
For the answer to this question, we need to go back to the very first decision to bail out AIG, made, we are told, by then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, then-New York Fed official Timothy Geithner, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke last fall. Post-Lehman’s collapse, they feared a systemic failure could be triggered by AIG’s inability to pay the counterparties to all the sophisticated instruments AIG had sold. And who were AIG’s trading partners? No shock here: Goldman, Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, UBS, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank, Barclays, and on it goes. So now we know for sure what we already surmised: The AIG bailout has been a way to hide an enormous second round of cash to the same group that had received TARP money already.
It all appears, once again, to be the same insiders protecting themselves against sharing the pain and risk of their own bad adventure. The payments to AIG’s counterparties are justified with an appeal to the sanctity of contract. If AIG’s contracts turned out to be shaky, the theory goes, then the whole edifice of the… Continue reading
This week, newspapers across the country will once again sponsor panel discussions, Webcasts and op-eds pushing the American ideals of a free press and citizen access to the inner workings of government.
In recognition of Sunshine Week, News graphic artist Daniel Zakroczemski has created a poster celebrating freedom of information. To download a copy of the poster, click here .
Survey Of State Government Information Online
Most Americans can easily find videos of water skiing squirrels on the Internet but they’ll have less luck finding out whether their children’s school buses and classrooms are safe, or if neighborhood gas stations are overcharging. The Sunshine Week 2009 Survey of State Government Information online found that while more and more government records are being posted online, some of the most important information is being left offline. And in some cases governments are charging taxpayers to access records that they already paid for, such as death certificates. Read the report… .
For release: March 13, 2009
Federal Govt. Still Viewed as Secretive; President’s FOI Orders Get High Marks
Washington, D.C. — For the first time in four years, public opinion about government secrecy has leveled off, although more than seven in 10 adults still consider the federal government to… Continue reading
Originally published at 911blogger.com by Reprehensor on March 12, 2009
“There is a special irony in having been accused of improper regard for the opinions of foreign governments and societies by a group so clearly intent on enforcing adherence to the policies of a foreign government — in this case, the government of Israel. I believe that the inability of the American public to discuss, or the government to consider, any option for US policies in the Middle East opposed by the ruling faction in Israeli politics has allowed that faction to adopt and sustain policies that ultimately threaten the existence of the state of Israel. It is not permitted for anyone in the United States to say so. This is not just a tragedy for Israelis and their neighbors in the Middle East; it is doing widening damage to the national security of the United States.” – Charles Freeman.
For a one-hour introduction to the Israel Lobby; please check out this excellent Dutch documentary on the controversy that erupted following the publication of Mearsheimer and Walt’s academic paper, “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy”, in its condensed form at the London Review of Books (The book which then followed is highly recommended.);
Charles Freeman’s statement as published by the Wall Street Journal (!);
Charles Freeman, a veteran diplomat slated to become the top U.S. intelligence analyst, withdrew from consideration Tuesday. He released a statement denouncing the “Israel Lobby” for “character assassination.” Here is the… Continue reading
by John Byrne
February 26, 2009
Poisonous anthrax that killed five Americans in the weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks doesn’t match bacteria from a flask linked to Bruce Ivins, the researcher who committed suicide after being implicated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, a scientist said.
Spores used in the deadly mailings “share a chemical ‘fingerprint’ that is not found in the flask linked to Bruce Ivins,” Roberta Kwok wrote in Nature News, citing Joseph Michael, a scientist at the Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Michael analyzed letters sent to the New York Post and offices of Senators Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy, and found a distinct “chemical signature” not present in the flask known as RMR-1029, which Ivins could access in his laboratory at Fort Detrick, Maryland.
“Spores from two of those show a distinct chemical signature that includes silicon, oxygen, iron, and tin; the third letter had silicon, oxygen, iron and possibly also tin,” Kwok wrote. “Bacteria from Ivins’ RMR-1029 flask did not contain any of those four elements.”
The results don’t necessarily exonerate Ivins.
The mailed spores could have been removed from the flask and grown under different conditions, resulting in varying chemical contents, Jason Bannan, a microbiologist and forensic examiner at the FBI’s Chemical Biological Sciences Unit in Quantico, Virginia, told Kwok.
“It doesn’t surprise me that it would be different,” said Bannan.
The FBI has asked the National Academy of Science to perform an independent review of the… Continue reading
by Leslie Rose
February 23, 2009
A very important case is unfolding in Minnesota–eight people are being singled out by the government for their role in the political protests at the 2008 Republican National Convention (RNC).
At the September ’08 RNC in St. Paul, war criminal John McCain and right-wing religious fundamentalist Sarah Palin were being selected as the Republican ticket for the presidential race. The national media spent endless hours on things like Palin’s unmarried pregnant daughter. Meanwhile, the streets of St. Paul were turned into a militarized zone with massive police mobilization. Over the course of four days, thousands defied the armed clampdown to make known their opposition to U.S. wars-torture-spying and the imperialist globalization that has brought suffering to a huge section of humanity and caused catastrophic environmental damage. Over 800 people were arrested and scores were brutalized by the police.
Even before the protests started, law enforcement authorities carried out preemptive raids and arrests of activists and independent journalists throughout Minneapolis/St. Paul (the Twin Cities). Among those arrested were eight who are now being targeted for persecution, facing over 12 years in prison. They are known as the RNC 8.
For the first time, a state version of the fascistic USA Patriot Act is being applied to political demonstrations. The RNC 8 are charged with felony conspiracy to riot in furtherance of terrorism and felony conspiracy to commit criminal damage to property in furtherance of terrorism, along with two other felonies. They were sitting in jail for the duration of the Republican convention–but they are being held legally responsible for anything that any protestor did during that time.
The prosecution of the RNC 8 would set a very bad precedent that criminalizes political protest. But too few people even know about this case. Everyone who understands the importance of dissent and the ability to resist the crimes being committed by the government and ruling institutions needs to speak out. A big demand to drop the charges on the RNC 8 needs to be raised from a broad cross section of society. This railroad must be stopped cold in its tracks.
In three articles over several issues of Revolution, this series examines key aspects and layers of what has come to light about the unjust prosecution of the RNC 8. The three articles are: “The Case of the RNC 8”; “The Informants and Undercover Agents”–the lies and strategy of the government; “The Clampdown”–the police state, mass arrests, and targeting of journalists.
By Peter Phillips
The Barack Obama administration is continuing the neo-conservative agenda of US military domination of the world–albeit with perhaps a kinder-gentler face. While overt torture is now forbidden for the CIA and Pentagon, and symbolic gestures like the closing of the Guantánamo prison are in evidence, a unilateral military dominance policy, expanding military budget, and wars of occupation and aggression will likely continue unabated.
The military expansionists from within the Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Clinton, G. W. Bush administrations put into place solid support for increased military spending. Clinton’s model of supporting the US military industrial complex held steady defense spending and increased foreign weapons sales from 16% of global orders to over 63% by the end of his administration.
The neo-conservatives, who dominated the most recent Bush administration, amplified this trend of increased military spending. The neo-cons laid out their agenda for military global dominance in the 2000 Project for a New American Century (PNAC) report Rebuilding America’s Defenses . The report called for the protection of the American Homeland, the ability to wage simultaneous theater wars, to perform global constabulary roles, and to control space and cyberspace. The report claimed that in order to maintain a Pax Americana , potential rivals–such as China, Iran, Iraq, and North Korea–needed to be held in check. This military global dominance agenda required forward deployment of US forces worldwide and increasing defense/war spending well into the 21st century. The result was a doubling of the US military budget to… Continue reading
Human Rights Watch Mourns Loss of Alison Des Forges
Alison’s loss is a devastating blow not only to Human Rights Watch but also to the people of Rwanda and the Great Lakes region.
Kenneth Roth, executive director
Leading Rwanda Expert Killed in Plane Crash
February 13, 2009
(New York) – It is with enormous sadness that Human Rights Watch announces the death of our beloved colleague Dr. Alison Des Forges, who was killed in the crash of Flight 3407 from Newark to Buffalo on February 12, 2009. Des Forges, senior adviser to Human Rights Watch’s Africa division for almost two decades, dedicated her life to working on Rwanda and was the world’s leading expert on the 1994 Rwanda genocide and its aftermath.
“Alison’s loss is a devastating blow not only to Human Rights Watch but also to the people of Rwanda and the Great Lakes region,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “She was truly wonderful, the epitome of the human rights activist – principled, dispassionate, committed to the truth and to using that truth to protect ordinary people. She was among the first to highlight the ethnic tensions that led to the genocide, and when it happened and the world stood by and watched, Alison did everything humanly possible to save people. Then she wrote the definitive account. There was no one who knew more and did more to document the genocide and to help bring the perpetrators to justice.”
Des Forges, born in Schenectady, New… Continue reading
Originally published at http://nafeez.blogspot.com by Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed on January 26, 2009
The arrival of the Obama administration will not fundamentally alter the course of military expansion accelerated during the Bush era. The origins of these policies do not lie uniquely in neoconservative ideology. While the election of President Obama may offer new opportunities for progressive forces to delimit the damage, their space for movement will ultimately be constrained by deep-seated structural pressures that will attempt to exploit Obama to rehabilitate American imperial hegemony, rather than transform it.
Indeed, the radicalization of Anglo-American political ideology represented by the rise of neoconservative principles and the militarization processes of the ‘War on Terror’, constituted a strategic response to global systemic crises supported by the American business classes. The same classes, recognizing the extent to which the Bush era has discredited this response, have rallied around Obama. Therefore, as global crises intensify, this militarization response is likely to undergo further radicalization, rather than a meaningful change in course. The key differences will be in language and method, not substance.
Obama and National Security: “It’s the Oil, Stupid!”
This became increasingly clear as Barack Obama’s administration appointees became known — individuals whose political and ideological positions are largely commensurate with neoconservative ideals particularly on security matters, and whose social and intellectual connections link them to neo-conservative think-tanks and policy-makers.
A glance through Obama’s national security team also raises eyebrows, but we should focus on his selection of former Marine General Jim Jones as his… Continue reading
Originally published at RawStory.com by David Edwards and Stephen C. Webster on January 30, 2009
If you’re poor and the bank is coming for your home, Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur has a plan for you.
Just squat, she says.
Yes, this Ohio Democrat is actually encouraging her financially distressed constituents whose homes have been foreclosed upon, to simply stay put.
In a Friday report, CNN’s Drew Griffin explored the case of Ohioan Andrea Geiss, whose home was foreclosed upon in April.
“Behind in payments, out of work, a husband sick, she had nowhere to go,” said Griffin. “So, she decided to follow the advice of her Congresswoman and go nowhere.”
In Lucas County, Ohio, over 4,000 properties were foreclosed upon in 2008, reports CNN.
“So I say to the American people, you be squatters in your own homes,” said Congresswoman Kaptur before the House of Representatives. “Don’t you leave.”
She’s called on all of her foreclosed-upon constituents to stay in their homes and refuse to leave without “an attorney and a fight,” said CNN.
“If they’ve had no legal representation of a high quality, I tell them stay in their homes,” Kaptur told Griffin.
Kaptur is a high-profile advocate of an increasingly popular mode of fighting foreclosures best known for it’s key phrase: “Produce the note.”
By telling a bank to “produce the note,” a homeowner can delay foreclosure by forcing the lender to prove the suing institution is actually the same which owns the debt.
“During the lending boom, most… Continue reading
by Michael Hasty Sunday
Although I was as happy as most Americans that Barack Obama took the oath of office last week, rather than his Republican alternative, there is a major reason that he did not get my vote in November, which went instead to Cynthia McKinney: Obama is unlikely to re-open an investigation into what really happened on September 11, 2001–an investigation that needs to happen.
According to polls, about four in ten Americans are suspicious that the Bush administration was complicit in the 9/11 attacks–either by deliberately ignoring intelligence that warned an attack was coming and allowing the terrorists to strike, to gain public support for the neoconservative foreign policy agenda of increasing American military power in the Middle East; or by actively coordinating the attacks themselves, for the same reason. As Time magazine, in a rare acknowledgement of the 9/11 truth movement, said: “This is not a fringe phenomenon. It is a mainstream political reality.”
It’s easy to understand, however, why a majority of Americans have such a hard time getting their minds around the idea that their government may have some involvement in such a horrendous crime. Americans are conditioned from an early age to think of themselves as “the good guys,” living in a “democracy”–which, however imperfect, has always been primarily motivated by the desire to advance the core national principle of “freedom,” both at home and abroad. And the actions of the government are closely monitored by a diligent “free press.”
It’s a… Continue reading
Obama limits ex-presidents’ discretion on records
By MARK SHERMAN
January 21, 2009
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama has issued an executive order that limits the ability of former presidents to block the release of sensitive records of their time in the White House.
Obama’s action Wednesday in his first full day in office overturns an earlier order issued by George W. Bush.
Obama said former presidents may ask to have certain documents kept private, but they no longer may compel the National Archives to do so.
Obama’s executive order also makes clear that neither former vice presidents nor relatives of former presidents who have died have authority to keep records private.
Bush’s executive order, issued in November 2001, prompted a federal lawsuit and the partial invalidation of the order.
Obama Promises New Era of Openness
By Kim Zetter
January 21, 2009
Wired Blog Network Sunshine and Secrecy Category
United States President Barack Obama announced today that his administration will roll back the secrecy that has ruled during the Bush Administration and implement a new era of government openness and transparency.
Referring to the Freedom of Information Act as one of the most important tools of oversight the nation possesses, Obama called on all government agencies to err on the side of openness and release information whenever possible, which directly contradicts orders by the previous administration to look for reasons to withhold information whenever possible. Just because you have the legal right to withhold information, doesn’t mean you should, Obama said at a White House press conference and staff swearing-in ceremony on Wednesday.…Continue reading
Sat Jan 17, 2009
By Louis Charbonneau
BEIRUT, Jan 17 (Reuters) – U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Saturday he was relieved about an Israeli ceasefire in the Gaza Strip and urged the Jewish state to withdraw all of its troops as soon as possible.
“I am relieved that the Israeli government has decided to cease hostilities as of midnight GMT,” Ban told reporters. “This should be the first
step leading to the full withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza,” he said, adding that he wanted the withdrawal “as soon as possible”.
He said that Hamas militants also needed to do their part to bring an end to the violence by halting their rocket attacks against southern Israel.
“Hamas militants must stop firing rockets now,” he said.
Ban said that humanitarian access for the people of the Gaza Strip was the top priority and the United Nations was ready to act immediately.
“Any durable solution must include the reopening of the (Gaza border) crossings and the prevention of illicit trafficking in arms,” he said.
Ban flies to Damascus on Sunday to meet with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad before heading to the Egyptian Red Sea city of Sharm el-Sheikh for a summit meeting on aid and reconstruction efforts for Gaza hosted by Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak.
Israel accuses Syria and Iran of supporting and arming Hamas, an accusation they deny.
Ban said he and European leaders including French President Nicolas Sarkozy, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and German Chancellor Angela… Continue reading
Kucinich: UN should investigate Israeli Gaza strikes
by Nick Juliano
Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) called for an independent investigation to be led by the United Nations into the recent eruption of violence between Israel and Hamas along the Gaza strip that has killed scores of innocent civilians.
Monday brought a third day of Israeli bombing Gaza in what the state is calling its “all-out” war on Hamas. So far, 345 people have been killed by the bombs. At least 57 of the dead are civilians, including 21 children, according to the UN.
Kucinich said he wrote to UN General Secretary Ban ki-Moon urging an “independent inquiry of Israel’s war against Gaza.” The Democratic lawmaker said Israel’s attacks are an example of “collective punishment,” which violates the Geneva Conventions.
“The perpetrators of attacks against Israel must also be brought to justice, but Israel cannot create a war against an entire people in order to attempt to bring to justice the few who are responsible. The Israeli leaders know better,” Kucinich said in a news release Monday. “The world community, which has been very supportive of Israel’s right to security and its right to survive, also has a right to expect Israel to conduct itself in adherence to the very laws which support the survival of Israel and every other nation.”
Kucinich compared the latest bombing campaign to Isreal’s earlier strikes at southern Lebanon targeted at Hezbollah. Then too, he said, civilians were killed, infrastructure was destroyed and lawlessness took hold… Continue reading
January 13, 2009
by Larisa Alexandrovna
New information surrounding the December plane crash which killed GOP internet consultant Michael Connell casts doubt on some of the rumors and speculation surrounding his death but doesn’t close the books on the circumstances surrounding the Republican technology star’s tragic end.
Michael Connell, a high-level IT guru for the Republican National Committee and the US Chamber of Commerce, died Dec. 19, 2008 at 5:53 PM ET when his airplane crashed near Ohio’s Akron-Canton airport.
Although there has been speculation in the media about the possibility of sabotage in Connell death, authorities do not suspect foul play. The official investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has not yet determined the cause of the crash; their final report is required to be produced within a year.
Connell’s ten year-old, seven-passenger, single engine Piper Saratoga II crashed into an empty house on Charolais Street in Lake Township, Ohio. The plane’s right wing clipped a flagpole in the front yard before it broke up, set fire to the garage, and tumbled some 50–60 feet along the ground toward the back yard of a neighboring home.
Connell was thrown from the burning plane and killed instantaneously by massive blunt force trauma, according to the Stark County coroner’s report. Although the body was not burned, fingerprints were required to confirm identity, according to Captain Lorin Geisner of the Greentown Fire Department.
According to Geisner, Connell’s personal items recovered from the crash site included a passport, a driver’s… Continue reading
by Janice Matthews
911truth.org (link to article)
911truth.org was contacted this week by Charles W. (Bill) White, of Houston, who provided extensive information to Russ Baker in the writing of his explosive new Bush dynasty historical expose, Family Secrets: The Bush Dynasty, the Powerful Forces That Put It in the White House, and What Their Influence Means for America. More about him is in his letter to Senator Levin, below, wherein he expresses grave concern for the safety of nearly 6,000 Sailors and Marines who will carry out their duties aboard the Navy’s new nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, the USS George H.W. Bush.
Today, that ship was christened in spite of White’s caution. An AP article, “Bush Visits Aircraft Carrier Named After Father,” describes the new ship and her christening thus:
It’s the perfect gift for an old Navy flier: 1,092 feet of flattop.
“What do you give a guy who has been blessed and has just about everything he has ever needed?” asked President George W. Bush from aboard the Navy’s newest ship. “Well, an aircraft carrier.”
The USS George H.W. Bush, a steel-gray vessel longer than three football fields and built at a cost of $6.2 billion … is one of the Nimitz class of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, the largest warships in the world.
“The ship that bears our dad’s name is more than 95,000 tons of aluminum and steel,” Bush said from a podium tucked under the flight deck. “She will carry nearly 6,000… Continue reading
21 hours ago
AFP at www.google.com/hostednews
WASHINGTON (AFP) — The outgoing White House administration will next week hold a joint “disaster scenario” exercise with top members of
the incoming team of president-elect Barack Obama, US officials said Friday.
“I’m not going to go into the details of it, but it is a disaster scenario where the government would be very much tested,” White House spokesman Scott Stanzel said.
“It is an exercise scenario, a hypothetical scenario that is designed to test and tax the capabilities of the federal government,” he added.
He did not specify whether Obama or vice president-elect Joe Biden would take part in Tuesday’s three-hour long exercise, saying merely it was part of regular training events and had not been motivated by any specific threat.
A huge security blanket is being thrown over Washington for Obama’s inauguration on January 20, with up to two million people planning to converge on the US capital to witness the nation’s first African-American president being sworn into office.
“It is a very public event … and one that gathers, you know, leaders in a very small environment, essentially. So obviously we have a lot of concern about it,” Stanzel said.
“But there is no credible threat at this point to the inauguration that is precipitating this.”
Stanzel said Tuesday’s exercise was part of President George W. Bush’s commitment to ensuring a smooth handover of powers in the first transition to take place since the September 11, 2001 attacks.
He said senior… Continue reading
Dec 15, 2008
by David Chandler
Architects & Engineers for 911 Truth (AE911Truth.org)
In its draft report, released in August 2008, NIST attempted to cover up evidence that WTC7 fell at freefall, but the coverup was transparent. In its final report, released in November 2008, NIST finally acknowledged freefall, but couched it in a bizarre framework that continues to deny its clear significance. Part I [of this video] chronicles NIST’s attempted obfuscation and eventual admission of freefall. Part II demonstrates that their replacement theory is based on fabricated evidence and is a continuation of the coverup. Part III will spell out the significance of NIST’s admission of freefall.
Go to www.AE911truth.org and sign the petition for a REAL investigation.
WTC7: NIST Finally Admits Freefall (Part I)
NIST has now officially accepted that WTC7 came down with the acceleration of gravity, but they still couch it as a phase in a 5.4 second interval they claim matches the 5.4 seconds required for their model to collapse 18 floors. The starting point of their 5.4 second interval is totally arbitrary. This new video highlights the August 26 technical briefing and allows Sunder and Gross to shoot holes in their own feet.
[Ed. Note: 28,393 views as of this posting]
WTC7: NIST Finally Admits Freefall (Part II)
Comment at YouTube: Some viewers have questioned the details of the measurements shown in this video. I have created a FAQ page to deal with these questions. See www.911speakout.org/WTC7-Measurement-FAQ.pdf
[Ed. Note: 2,974 views… Continue reading
by Richard Falk, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories
For eighteen months the entire 1.5 million people of Gaza experienced a punishing blockade imposed by Israel, and a variety of traumatizing challenges to the normalcy of daily life. A flicker of hope emerged some six months ago when an Egyptian arranged truce produced an effective ceasefire that cut Israeli casualties to zero despite the cross-border periodic firing of homemade rockets that fell harmlessly on nearby Israeli territory, and undoubtedly caused anxiety in the border town of Sderot. During the ceasefire the Hamas leadership in Gaza repeatedly offered to extend the truce, even proposing a ten-year period and claimed a receptivity to a political solution based on acceptance of Israel’s 1967 borders. Israel ignored these diplomatic initiatives, and failed to carry out its side of the ceasefire agreement that involved some easing of the blockade that had been restricting the entry to Gaza of food, medicine, and fuel to a trickle.
Israel also refused exit permits to students with foreign fellowship awards and to Gazan journalists and respected NGO representatives. At the same time, it made it increasingly difficult for journalists to enter, and I was myself expelled from Israel a couple of weeks ago when I tried to enter to carry out my UN job of monitoring respect for human rights in occupied Palestine, that is, in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, as well as Gaza. Clearly, prior to the current crisis, Israel… Continue reading