Friday, August 19, 2005

Fade to Black

Fade to Black: Hollinger Heads Cop a Plea

PEJ News -
C. L. Cook - The peerless Lord Black stayed in the shadows today as two of his closest friends and associates faced American Justice. But, he may find his profile difficult to downplay now the law has reached the penultimate height of the fragile pyramid Black made of the once mighty Hollinger Inc.

Fade to Black
C. L. Cook

PEJ News
August 18, 2005

Conrad Black's founding partner in what would become the media behemoth, Hollinger Inc., F. David Radler was today indicted for fraud in Chicago by no less than limelight litigator, U. S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, Patrick Fitzgerald. That's Patrick "Bulldog" Fitzgerald, the same at the helm of the investigation into the infamous Plame/Rove Scandal.

Radler is a former publisher of The Chicago Sun-Times, one of the flagships in what he and Black had built up to be the planet's third biggest news publisher, Hollinger International Inc. But, Radler is not alone in the dock. Hollinger's number one lawyer, General Counsel Mark Kipnis, and "unnamed executives" of Ravelston Corp Inc., a now defunct Black holding company, were too charged.

Fitzgerald, while neither confirming, nor denying the next to fall will be Black himself, seems now to have nowhere left to take his investigation, save up. Mr. Radler copped a plea, promising to "cooperate" with the investigation; presumably to mitigate the possible 35 years imprisonment and 3.5 million dollar fine he faces surrounding the systematic bilking of Hollinger share-holders for an estimated 32 million dollars.

In all the three defendants received indictments for 5 counts of mail fraud and two of wire fraud. Each count brings a maximum penalty of 5 years and a 500,000 dollar fine.

U.S. Attorney Fitzgerald, commenting on possible cross-border legal complications, Radler is a Canadian citizen, said: "the individual and corporate defendants cheated public shareholders in the U.S. and Canada, as well as Canadian tax authorities of tax revenue."

The besieged former press baron Lord Black has been embroiled in legal troubles, already facing mutliple suits and investigations by Security and Exchange Commissions on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border. The current board of Hollinger is involved with a suit against Black and his wife, former journalist and company director, Barbara Amiel for more than 300 million dollars they say was embezzled to provide the Black's lavish lifestyle.

Black has so far pleaded innocent of wrong-doing while he chaired the company.

Chris Cook
hosts Gorilla Radio, a weekly public affairs program, broad/webcast from the University of Victoria, Canada. He also serves as contributing editor to PEJ News.

Dire States

The Rise of the Democratic Police State
by John Pilger
August 19, 2005
First Published in The New Statesman

Thomas Friedman is a famous columnist with The New York Times. He has been described as "a guard dog of US foreign policy." Whatever America's warlords have in mind for the rest of humanity, Friedman will bark it. He boasts that "the hidden hand of the market will never work without a hidden fist." He promotes bombing countries and says world war three has begun.

Friedman's latest bark is about free speech, which his country's Constitution is said to safeguard. He wants the State Department to draw up a blacklist of those who make "wrong" political statements. He is referring not only to those who advocate violence, but those who believe American actions are the root cause of the current terrorism. The latter group, which he describes as "just one notch less despicable than the terrorists," includes most Americans and Britons, according to the latest polls.

Friedman wants a "War of Ideas report" which names those who try to understand and explain, for example, why London was bombed. These are "excuse makers" who "deserve to be exposed." He borrows the term "excuse makers" from James Rubin, who was Madeleine Albright's chief apologist at the State Department. Albright, who rose to secretary of state under President Clinton, said that the death of half a million Iraqi infants as a result of an American-driven blockade was a "price" that was "worth it." Of all the interviews I have filmed in official Washington, Rubin's defense of this mass killing is unforgettable.

Farce is never far away in these matters. The "excuse makers" would also include the CIA, which has warned that, "Iraq [since the invasion] has replaced Afghanistan as the training ground for the next generation of 'professionalized’ terrorists'." On to the Friedman/Rubin blacklist go the spooks!

Like so much else during the Blair era, this McCarthyite rubbish has floated across the Atlantic and is now being recycled by the prime minister as proposed police-state legislation, little different from the fascist yearnings of Friedman and other extremists. For Friedman's blacklist, read Tony Blair's proposed database of proscribed opinions, bookshops, websites.

The British human rights lawyer Linda Christian asks: "Are those who feel a huge sense of injustice about the same causes as the terrorists -- Iraq, Afghanistan, the war on terrorism, Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib -- to be stopped from speaking forthrightly about their anger? Because terrorism is now defined in our law as actions abroad, will those who support liberation movements in, for example, Kashmir or Chechnya be denied freedom of expression?" Any definition of terrorism, she points out, should "encompass the actions of terrorist states engaged in unlawful wars."

Of course, Blair is silent on western state terrorism in the Middle East and elsewhere; and for him to moralize about "our values" insults the fact of his blood-crime in Iraq. His budding police state will, he hopes, have the totalitarian powers he has longed for since 2001 when he suspended habeas corpus and introduced unlimited house arrest without trial. The Law Lords, Britain's highest judiciary, have tried to stop this. Last December, Lord Hoffmann said that Blair's attacks on human rights were a greater threat to freedom than terrorism. On 26 July, Blair emoted that the entire British nation was under threat and abused the judiciary in terms, as Simon Jenkins noted, "that would do credit to his friend Vladimir Putin." What we are seeing in Britain is the rise of the democratic police state.

Should you be tempted to dismiss all this as esoteric or merely mad, travel to any Muslim community in Britain, especially in the northwest and sense the state of siege and fear. On 15 July, Blair's Britain of the future was glimpsed when the police raided the Iqra Learning Centre and bookstore near Leeds. The Iqra Trust is a well-known charity that promotes Islam worldwide as "a peaceful religion which covers every walk of life." The police smashed down the door, wrecked the shop and took away anti-war literature which they described as "anti-western".

Among this was, reportedly, a DVD of the Respect Party MP George Galloway addressing the US Senate and a New Statesman article of mine illustrated by a much-published photograph of a Palestinian man in Gaza attempting to shield his son from Israeli bullets before the boy was shot to death. The photograph was said to be "working people up," meaning Muslim people. Clearly, David Gibbons, this journal's esteemed art director, who chose this illustration, will be called before the Blair Incitement Tribunal. One of my books, The New Rulers of the World, was also apparently confiscated. It is not known whether the police have yet read the chapter that documents how the Americans, with help from MI6 and the SAS, created, armed and bankrolled the terrorists of the Islamic Mujahideen, not least Osama Bin Laden.

The raid was deliberately theatrical, with the media tipped off. Two of the alleged 7 July bombers had been volunteers in the shop almost four years ago. "When they became hardliners", said a community youth worker. "They left and have never been back and they’ve had nothing to do with the shop." The raid was watched by horrified local people. who are now scared, angry and bitter. I spoke to Muserat Sujawal, who has lived in the area for 31 years and is respected widely for her management of the nearby Hamara Community Centre. She told me, "There was no justification for the raid. The whole point of the shop is to teach how Islam is a community-based religion. My family has used the shop for years, buying, for example, the Arabic equivalent of Sesame Street. They did it to put fear in our hearts." James Dean, a Bradford secondary school teacher, said, "I am teaching myself Urdu because I have multi-ethnic classes, and the shop has been very helpful with tapes."

The police have the right to pursue every lead in their hunt for bombers, but scaremongering is not their right. Sir Ian Blair, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner who understands how the media can be used and spends a lot of time in television studios, has yet to explain why he announced that the killing in the London Underground of the Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes was "directly linked" to terrorism, when he must have known the truth. Muslim people all over Britain report the presence of police "video vans" cruising their streets, filming everyone. "We have become like ghettoes under siege," said one man too frightened to be named. "Do they know what this is doing to our young people?"

The other day Blair said, "We are not having any of this nonsense about [the bombings having anything] to do with what the British are doing in Iraq or Afghanistan, or support for Israel, or support for America, or any of the rest of it. It is nonsense and we have to confront it as that." This "raving", as the American writer Mike Whitney observed, "is part of a broader strategy to dismiss the obvious facts about terror and blame the victims of American-British aggression. It's a tactic that was minted in Tel Aviv and perfected over 37 years of occupation. It is predicated on the assumption that terrorism emerges from an amorphous, religious-based ideology that transforms its adherents into ruthless butchers."

Professor Robert Pape of the University of Chicago has examined every act of suicide terrorism over the past 25 years. He refutes the assumption that suicide bombers are mainly driven by "an evil ideology independent of other circumstances." He said, "The facts are that since 1980, half the attacks have been secular. Few of the terrorists fit the standard stereotype... Half of them are not religious fanatics at all. In fact, over 95 per cent of suicide attacks around the world [are not about] religion, but a specific strategic purpose -- to compel the United States and other western countries to abandon military commitments on the Arabian Peninsula and in countries they view as their homeland or prize greatly... The link between anger over American, British and western military [action] and al-Qaeda's ability to recruit suicide terrorists to kill us could not be tighter."

So we have been warned, yet again. Terrorism is the logical consequence of American and British "foreign policy" whose infinitely greater terrorism we need to recognize, and debate, as a matter of urgency.

John Pilger is an internationally renowned investigative journalist and documentary filmmaker. He is currently a visiting professor at Cornell University, New York. His film, Stealing a Nation, about the expulsion of the people of Diego Garcia, has won the Royal Television Society's award for the best documentary on British television in 2004-5. His latest book is Tell Me No Lies: Investigative Journalism and its Triumphs (Jonathan Cape, 2004). Visit John Pilger's website: Thanks to Michelle Hunt at Granada Media.

Other Recent Articles by John Pilger

* Fascism Then and Now
* Tony Blair is Unfit To Be Prime Minister
* Lest We Forget: These Were “Blair’s Bombs”
* From Iraq to the G8: The Polite Crushing of Dissent and Truth
* The G8 Summit: A Fraud and a Circus

* Sleeping With the Enemy
* Cambodia: A Victim of "Aid"
* The Propaganda War on Democracy
* In Britain, An Absurdity: Persuading People They Have a Political Choice
* The Fall of Saigon 1975: An Eyewitness Report
* Bringing You the News -- Courtesy of the Law of Opposites and the Law of Silence
* Other Blood on Their Hands
* Attacking Our Memory
* Australia: The Sickening of Democracy
* The Other Man-Made Tsunami
* How Silent are the “Humanitarian” Invaders of Kosovo

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Minute Men to the 49th

U.S. border posse sets sights on 49th parallel

Globe and Mail
Friday, August 12, 2005

Vancouver ‹ They are coming with night-vision goggles, cellphones and possibly guns. They plan to unfold their lawn chairs within spitting distance of the Canada-U.S. border on Oct. 1. Then they will just wait and watch for the stream of illegal immigrants, drug smugglers and terrorists
they are certain they will see stepping across the line.

An army of American volunteers concerned about what they perceive as the wide-open border have decided to take national security into their own hands.

After a highly successful operation in Arizona last April, the so-called Minuteman Project has turned its attention to the northern border. While continuing to expand in states along the Mexican border, the group is organizing volunteers in 11 northern border states and is currently looking for recruits in eight Canadian provinces, spokesperson Connie Hair said yesterday in an interview from the organization's headquarters in Arizona.

In preparation for the October operation, the Minuteman Project has planned a four-day recruitment drive and training session for Michigan and Ontario, beginning Aug. 24.

The volunteers are worried about criminals, terrorists and illegal workers crossing the border, despite stepped-up efforts by government-funded border patrols. The group wants to bolster border security to ensure people who enter illegally are caught, Ms. Hair said.

When they spot someone crossing the border, they are expected to immediately notify the border patrol.

The Minuteman group has been characterized in the United States as armed vigilantes and widely criticized. But Ms. Hair said they are more like a Neighbourhood Watch group with legitimate security concerns.

"No one ever does the math," Ms. Hair said. "In one county where the national leadership of this movement comes from, Cochise County, Arizona, 265,000 people, according to the border patrol, were apprehended illegally entering the country in 2004. The bureaucrats in border patrol say three to four people get in undetected for every one they find. . . . That's over
720,000 people last year."

The Minuteman Project, associated with the Minuteman Civil Defence Corps, was formed earlier this year in response to publicity about people enteringArizona illegally. Californian Jim Gilchrist sent an e-mail to a few friends.

"He said, 'Let's get a border patrol together, called Minuteman, because this is just getting out of hand,' " Ms. Hair said. "And it just built from there." Mr. Gilchrist declined to be interviewed yesterday.

The group carried out its first operation in April. Hundreds of people showed up to patrol a 40-kilometre stretch along the Mexico-Arizona border. They were assisted by three unmanned aerial vehicles and 38 pilots with their own private planes.

"October is the start of the second operation and this won't end," Ms. Hair said. "We're planning to go 24/7."

As part of its effort to launch a coast-to-coast border watch, Minuteman recruited about 100 volunteers last month in Washington state. Chris Simcox, president of the civil defence corps, spent two weeks in the state organizing two chapters around the time that border authorities revealed they had discovered a tunnel connecting Washington and British Columbia for
smuggling drugs, and possibly people.

Mr. Simcox has previously told a U.S. newspaper that he was concerned about Canada's openness to refugees.

"Canada just takes everybody," he told The Bellingham Herald. "These folks realize our border security is zero. . . . We've identified over 200 roads that cross the border in the North that have no checkpoints. It's just so easy."

Joe Giuliano, a deputy chief patrol agent with the U.S. border patrol south of Vancouver, said the Minuteman volunteers, if they work within the law, would be doing exactly what authorities would like all citizens to do, which is to keep their eyes open and report any possible illegal
activities they see.

"We go into communities and encourage people to do just that," Mr. Giuliano said. "The fact that these Minuteman people have a political agenda, or are very visible and make themselves known, does not make them any different to me. They are still eyes and ears in the community," he said.

He also said he was not concerned that they may be armed. "As long as they are abiding by the laws of the jurisdiction they are in, they can go wherever they want to go. If they misuse their weapons or carry them without authorization, then there would be cause for local [authorities]
to take action," he said.

The Minuteman organizers met recently with Bill Elfo, the sheriff of Whatcom County, Washington, which runs along the Canada-U. S. border from the Pacific Ocean to the east side of the Cascade Mountains. They explained to him what they intend to do.

He does not consider them vigilantes, he said. They are allowed to carry weapons so long as they acquire the proper permits.

"There's a right to bear and carry firearms, as long as they are carrying them for their own protection and not using them to go out and apprehend people. That's their right. It is a little different philosophy down here with guns," he said.

The Minuteman members say they will report any illegal border crossings to authorities, Sheriff Elfo said. "As long as that is what they are doing, and not taking the law into their own hands, we welcome them."

Way Out of Iraq, Detour through Iran?

Global Eye
The Moscow Times

Duck Soup

By Chris Floyd
August 19, 2005

Now is the summer of discontent for President George W. Bush, a man beset on every side -- by a failing war and falling popularity, by scandal, suspicion and rising hostility, even in the red-state heartlands. With each passing day of his long vacation in the Texas wastes, his presidency is shrinking palpably before our eyes, his wildly inflated public image shrivelling like a punctured balloon.

The fountainhead of his trouble, of course, is the murderous quagmire he has created in Iraq. Some say he has no exit strategy, no way to escape the corrosive effects of this gargantuan disaster, which is draining his support and destroying the aura of the all-conquering "war leader" that he used to impose his radical right-wing agenda on the country. The tide has turned against him at last, some say; he's a lame duck crashing to the ground.

But those writing Bush's political obituary have "misunderestimated" him once again. For it's becoming increasingly clear that Bush does have an exit strategy from Iraq -- and it runs through Iran.

For months, the Bush Faction has been conducting a low-key PR campaign to put Iran in the crosshairs for a military strike. Last week, Bush himself upped the wattage with a public declaration that "all options are on the table" for slapping down Tehran, Agence France Presse reports. He even alluded to the invasion of Iraq as an example of the kind of action he has in mind. Bush scarcely bothered to hide his disdain for peaceful solutions to the row with Iran. After mouthing the usual pious lies about "working feverishly on the diplomatic route," he immediately dismissed such efforts with a sneer: "As you know, I'm skeptical."

The chief angle of Bush's warmongering campaign has been Iran's nuclear energy program. Although Iran is allowed by international treaty to develop nuclear energy resources and has been proceeding under international supervision, there are concerns that Tehran might follow the example of U.S. allies such as Israel and Pakistan and use the technology to develop a secret nuclear weapons program. This has been the cue for a reprise of those "smoking gun/mushroom cloud" tropes that the Bushists used to such great fear-rousing effect in fomenting their aggression against Iraq.

But the latest investigation by the International Atomic Energy Agency found that Iran is not developing a nuclear weapons program, The Independent reports. And Bush's own intelligence services say that even if Iran did start a weapons program, it would take at least 10 years to produce a bomb -- plenty of time for "feverish diplomacy" to work, you would think. So while "Iranian Nuke Threat" is still a good scare phrase for a cable news crawl, it might not be enough to sway an increasingly war-weary public to leap into another military adventure.

That's why the Bushists are throwing new tropes into the mix. In his chest-thumping bluster last week, Bush said pointedly that he would be willing to use military force to "provide the opportunity for people to live in free societies." That's a blank check for hitting Iran (and many other countries) any time he feels like it.

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But such noble gasbaggery might still prove too vague to close the deal. So now they've waving the bloody shirt: "Iran is killing American soldiers in Iraq." That's the charge currently percolating through the corporate media -- NBC, Time magazine, etc. -- from the usual anonymous "senior officials" and the never-anonymous but always mendacious Pentagon warlord Don Rumsfeld. "It's true that weapons clearly, unambiguously, from Iran have been found in Iraq," he announced last week, with same clinched-sphincter certainty he once displayed in declaring that he knew where Iraq's WMD were hidden: "They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad, and east, west, south and north somewhat."

Left unexplained is why Shiite Iran would want to help Sunni insurgents overthrow a Shiite-dominated Iraqi government led by Tehran proteges (and employees) who are busy aligning the country with, er, Tehran. That's the kind of self-defeating stupidity one might expect from the Bush poltroons, who have spent $300 billion and almost 1,900 American lives to establish an unstable, terrorist-ridden, fundamentalist Islamic state in the center of the Middle East. But it's unlikely that the subtle Persians, with 3,000 years of statecraft behind them, would be foolish enough to kill the golden goose that Bush has handed them by destroying Saddam and installing their allies in power.

Still, a lack of sense and credibility in a casus belli has never hindered the Bush Faction before. And it won't now. The plain fact is that Bush doesn't want "diplomacy to work" against Iran. He wants the situation to reach a crisis point that will "justify" military action. It's the only form of politics he knows: You foment (or invent) a crisis, then use deceit, fear and brute force to impose your radical agenda. And the takedown of Iran is a long-held ambition of the corporate militarists behind the Bush Faction's relentless quest for "full spectrum dominance" over world affairs.

The "high" Bush got from his Iraq assault is now wearing off, politically and personally. He needs another hit of blood and destruction. And don't think he's worried about the prospect of a much wider conflagration arising from a bombing strike against Iran. After all, chaos and instability only mean more money for his war-profiteering family and cronies -- and greater authority for "war leaders" seeking to "secure the Homeland."

More war is the only way for the Bush Faction to maintain its power and keep advancing its rapacious agenda. So there will be more war.


UN nuclear watchdog rebuts claims that Iran is trying to make A-bomb
The Independent, Aug. 14, 2005

Bush refuses to rule out force against Iran
AFP, Aug. 12, 2005

Legal Basis is Elusive for Objection to Iran
International Herald Tribune, Aug. 10, 2005

Is the Iran Crisis for Real?, Aug. 15, 2005

Inside Iran's Secret War on Iraq
Time Magazine, Aug. 15, 2005

Fool Me Once, Shame On You
Informed Comment, Aug. 5, 2005

Cheney Orders Plan for Attack on Iran After Terrorist Strike
The American Conservative, Aug. 1, 2005

Gulf actions of U.S. prove boon to Iran
Baltimore Sun, May 29, 2005

The Human Rights Case Against Attacking Iran
New York Times, Feb. 8, 2005

The Coming Wars
New Yorker, Jan. 24, 2005

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

A Death on the Tube

Leaks Belie Official London Tube Shooting Story

PEJ News - C. L. Cook - The family of the Brazilian electrician shot dead in the London subway system by police say those who shot their son are murderers who should be sent to prison for life. These accusations come following leaks from the investigation that contradict the version of events peddled by police.

Leaks Belie Official London Tube Shooting Story
C. L. Cook
PEJ News

August 17th, 2005 - Jean Charles de Menezes, the unfortunate young man gunned down last month by jittery post-bombing police in the London underground was not, as earlier stated by police, wearing an unusually bulky winter coat on the hot July day he died. Neither was he a turnstile jumper, acting suspicious as initially reported, nor was he running from police. The Guardian reported today that, not only was de Menezes not fleeing police when shot, but being held in custody. Police had not identified him, as earlier stated, as being followed after leaving a building under surveillance; it is now understood no-one had followed the Brazilian before his encounter with police in the station.

On the day he died, de Menezes was walking normally through the tube station, glancing at his newspaper. He paid his fair properly, and broke briefly into a run to catch his train to work as it pulled up to the platform. That eagerness to catch the train cost de Menezes his life.

The revelations, coming from the investigation into the fatal incident have critics of London's so-called 'Shoot to Kill' policy calling for a thorough review. And, it has the family of the slain Brazilian calling for arrests.

Greenspan's Gilded House of Cards

Pop Goes the Weasel

Greenspan and the Housing Bubble


August 17, 2005 - It's strange that Alan Greenspan hasn't been blamed for the housing bubble. After all, he set the "easy money" policies that put the whole thing in motion and he's the one who should be held responsible when it goes up in smoke.

Let me explain.

Most people expect the Federal Reserve to lower rates when business is flagging to stimulate the economy by making loans more available for commerce, home buying, recreational spending etc. But, just as higher rates can stop the economy in its tracks by making money too expensive to borrow, so too, lower rates can have equally adverse consequences.

For example, when Greenspan lowered rates to 1% in 2002 he knew that money would surge into the economy and create the appearance that everything was hunky-dory. Predictably, the economy sputtered along from the economic activity generated by the housing boom and from the 30% increase in government spending.

But, what else did Greenspan's lower rates achieve?

Well, they achieved the results for which they were designed; they kept the economy humming along while Bush dragged the country to war, they kept the American people asleep while $400 billion per year in Bush tax cuts were siphoned from the US Treasury, and they generated what the "The Economist" calls this "the biggest bubble in history"; the housing bubble.

All of these were purely political choices made at the Federal Reserve under the auspices of Fed-chairman Greenspan.

Thanks, Alan.

Now, of course, Greenspan has signaled that the Happy Days are over and that the Fed will continue to ratchet up rates to strengthen the dollar. So far, the Fed has raised rates 10 times in the last 14 months. This eventually will strain the resources of all the poor slobs who took out ARMs (Adjustable Rate Mortgages) trusting is the soundness of the system. They will inevitably see their monthly payments go through the roof.

No one understands the ins and outs of monetary policy better then the Federal Reserve. It's their job, and they have plenty of experience judging the results of their decisions. They know that when they lower rates the public will borrow boatloads of cash and dump it in the preferred investment of the day. Since, many American's were burned in the 1990s stock market crash; investing in the housing market seemed like a logical alternative. But, as more and more people entered the market, housing prices skyrocketed well beyond their true value, and that hyper-inflation was recorded in the monthly housing figures. Greenspan, who prides himself on studying every abstruse fact and figure about the economy, was fully aware of the speculative bubble that was emerging before his eyes. He also knew about the "interest only loans", "the no-down payments", the shaky lending practices, and the exaggerated prices, but just like the 1990s, when he had every opportunity to raise marginal rates on stocks and stop the bleeding, he kept the game in motion.

Greenspan knows all about "irrational exuberance"; he's its primary champion. The Fed seduces the public with cheap money, so that credit spending increases and, then, "presto", millions of Americans slip inexorably into indentured servitude.

Isn't this what's happening right now?

The American public is presently mortgaged up to the hilt with most of their personal wealth invested in their homes and with the highest level of personal debt in any period since the Great Depression.

Not good.

Especially when we consider that the current bubble is "larger than the global stock market bubble in the late 1990s (an increase over five years of 80% of GDP) or America's stock market bubble in the late 1920s (55% of GDP)."

Or, when we consider that "over the past four years, consumer spending and residential construction have together accounted for 90% of the total growth in GDP." (The Economist")

Or, when we consider that 2 out of every 5 jobs in America are now related to construction. One blip in the housing market and we'll all be hawking pencils on the street corner.

Regrettably, this Greenspan-generated pyramid scheme is headed for the dumpster. The fundamentals for securing a loan have all been abandoned; putting traditionally unqualified applicants in a position to buy a home. 42% of all new home buyers cannot even come up with a few thousand dollars for a down payment. Equally disturbing is the fact that "nearly one third of all new mortgages this year call for interest-only payments (in California, it's almost half)" (NY Times)"

The Fed's "cheap money" policy has spawned a "creative financing" monster and the speculation in the housing market has grown accordingly. A full 36% of homes are bought either for investment or as second homes; "the very definition of a financial bubble." (Economist)

"Speculation"? Not according to Colonel Greenspan. According to him, it's just a bit of "froth" in the market.

"Froth"? The biggest bubble in history!?!

Of course, none of this even vaguely resembles the activities of a "free market". The market is not free when a privately owned banking system like the Federal Reserve sets the prime rate according to its own political-economic agenda.

Most people have no idea to what extent Greenspan has abandoned his principles to carry out his task as the country's foremost class-warrior. Earlier in his career, Greenspan proclaimed, "Deficit spending is simply a scheme for the confiscation of wealth".


That, of course, was when deficits were used to pay for exorbitant social programs, like Welfare or Medicaid that benefited the broader American public. Greenspan has revised his thinking now that the deficits are a means for lining the pockets of his rich constituents.

Greenspan fully grasps the danger of his current strategy of flooding the market with, what he once called, "easy money". As he noted in an article he wrote in 1967 "Gold and Economic Freedom":

"After a mild business contraction in 1927 the fed decided the Federal Reserve created more paper reserves in the hope of forestalling any possible bank reserve shortage. The excess credit which the Fed pumped into the economy spilled over into the stock market -- triggering a fantastic speculative boom. Belatedly, Federal Reserve officials attempted to sop up the excess reserves and finally succeeded in breaking the boom. But it was too late: by 1929 the speculative imbalances had become so overwhelming that the attempt precipitated a sharp retrenching and a consequent demoralizing of business confidence. As a result, the American economy collapsed."

Let's see if we got that right?

"The excess credit which the Fed pumped into the economytriggered a fantastic speculative boom.which collapsed the American economy".

Sound familiar?

And who does Greenspan blame for the 1929 depression; the people who bought the stocks on speculation or the policy-makers?

The policy-makers.

The "speculative imbalances" (re: Housing bubble) were the work of the policy-makers just as they are today. And, in this case, that's the Fed-master himself.

Greenspan's term at the Fed has been devastating for the dwindling American middle-class. In 1983 he worked to "fix" Social Security for upcoming generations. In fact, his fix was nothing more than a shifting of the tax burden onto poorer and middle class Americans by increasing the withholding for SS. Greenspan knew that the additional resources would be used to fund basic government operations and not stashed safely in a "lockbox" for retirement. His presumption proved to be accurate.

He's also been an ardent supporter of financial deregulation, which has allowed foreign countries, particularly China and Japan, to buy up American assets and businesses. Deregulation has crushed America's manufacturing sector by forcing it to compete with the poorest paid workers in the world in head-to-head competition. Now, the US is teetering from its unsustainable trade deficit and must get infusions of $2 billion per day in foreign investment per day to maintain its current standard of living. Greenspan and his "free trade" friends have hammered the American worker and tilted the nation towards third-world status. At this point, there's little that can be done to reverse the trend other than a major overhaul of existing trade policies and a renewed effort to restore America's manufacturing base; something neither party has even recommended.

Greenspan has worked exclusively to serve the interests of American elites. He has helped shape the policies on taxation, minimum wage and Social Security that have enriched the wealthy and battered the middle class. His lowered interest rates have perilously expanded credit and produced the "largest speculative market of all time". Whatever economic calamity befalls the American people certainly bears his imprimatur.

The nation now faces the end of the Greenspan epoch and the very real prospect of an economic tidal wave greater than 1929. The bubble was manufactured by Greenspan and his colleagues at the Fed to swindle millions of working-class Americans out of their life-savings and to facilitate the greatest transferal of wealth in American history.

The lesson of the housing bubble is simple: whenever monetary policy is put into the hands of privately owned institutions like the Federal Reserve, those policies will invariably reflect the narrow interests of the men who own them and the members of their class.

That's why Thomas Jefferson warned, "Banking institutions are more dangerous than standing armies."

He undoubtedly had the Federal Reserve in mind.

Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He can be reached at:

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Adieu Alou: Making a Meal of the Messenger

edge of sports - Dave Zirin - Right now, anti-immigrant fear-mongering is political gold. Alou referenced this racist renaissance when he said, "We're not out of the woods yet, and the thick wood is coming." To ignore the "thick wood" means to invite a knock on the head.

Firing Fallout Falls on Felipe

By Dave Zirin
August 18th, 2005

So you say you wanna be a racist? Put down that burning cross! Rip up your white hood! Throw away your CD of “Trent Lott’s Favorite Negro Spirituals!” The quickest way to be branded a racist is to stand up to racism. Just ask San Francisco Giants' manager Felipe Alou.

Last week, KNBR's Larry Krueger called the Giants a team of "brain dead Caribbeans." Alou straightened his spine and said, “Hell no.” In the ensuing storm, Krueger was canned. Now Alou, in the eyes of a whole strain of the sports industrial complex, is the bad guy and Krueger has morphed into Mario Savio with gravy stains: a free speech martyr sacrificed on the altar of "political correctness."

When Krueger got the boot, Alou was sympathetic but remained firm . “I feel bad about people being fired. It wasn't my intention, but I didn't start it and I took a stand. I want people to understand that [racism] is a social issue. I want to make people aware of that so they will know that in the United States, it won't be tolerated."

But it is the 70 year old manager's anti-racism that is meeting with a tide of intolerance. The mainstream media has called Alou "divisive," “venomous,” and even “Machiavellian." In one theory oozing its way through talk radio, Alou has masterfully used the uproar to draw attention from the Giants’ hideous season. The real students of Machiavelli, however, are those who have reframed the debate to be about Alou instead of the issues he was striving to bring to light.

As Chuck Carlson in the Reno Gazette-Journal wrote, “Felipe Alou’s bizarre reaction has only hurt his case for racial sensitivity in this country…[I]n this instance, Alou looks like an overwrought bully who may need his own course in sensitivity training. Should Krueger have said it? Of course not. It was a dopey comment said for a cheap laugh and it’s done a thousand times a day in a thousand different places…the truly strange part of this story is how Alou has reacted.”

Carlson is absolutely right that racism raises its ugly head “a thousand times a day in a thousand different places.” But to him and his ilk, injustice is the tolerable status quo. To actually speak out is “truly strange” and “bizarre.” It's like George W. Bush sneering at Cindy Sheehan for ruining his vacation.

Krueger meanwhile has been called a "sacrificial lamb" destroyed by "political correctness." Gary Radnich, a San Francisco television sportscaster said, "Felipe Alou got rolling, got a head of steam up, and in this politically correct world, you don't get a second chance any more."

Another wrote that Krueger is being railroaded because he is some kind of populist hero. “KNBR is the Giants' flagship station but Krueger's opinions aren't always popular with the suits and ties. It makes you wonder if the Giants are trying to rid themselves of their most outspoken critic.”

This is simply a rotten, red herring. The issue is not whether Alou "went too far," but the banal, persistent, thudding reality of racism in the United States. Every day, on both sports and talk radio, gallons of spew are projected across the airwaves.

Every day we condition ourselves to just ignore it, absorb it, and move on. Alou, to his eternal credit, refused to play that game. He stood tall and attempted to shine the brightest light possible on some deeply ugly ideas. One of his points that has his detractors in a lather was when he called Krueger a “messenger of Satan.” Asked if he didn't think the statement about Satan was too harsh, Alou explained: "I didn't call him Satan and I never would. I said he was a messenger of Satan, because his message was a message of division. We should be past all that after so many years."

I was asked on sports radio if the Satan remark was somehow "worse" than the statement about “brain dead Caribbeans.” The feeling was that Alou was somehow "meaner" than Krueger and therefore worthy of equal contempt.

Once again, this goes back to having the most basic understanding of what racism is and is not. Racism is not about hurtful words, bruised feelings, “political correctness,” or refusing to call short people "vertically challenged." Racism is about power. To be Latino in the United States means living with a bullseye on your back. In California, it means living in a state where the Republican governor welcomes an armed militia to hunt you down at the border. In New Mexico, it means Democratic Governor Bill Richardson declaring a “state of emergency” to appeal for the National Guard to stop “the flood” of “illegals.”

Right now, anti-immigrant fear-mongering is political gold. Alou referenced this racist renaissance when he said, "We're not out of the woods yet, and the thick wood is coming." To ignore the "thick wood" means to invite a knock on the head. Our hope for the future lies in doing exactly what Alou did: calling out racism as loudly and sharply as possible, without regret and without a pause. As Alou's friend, Hall of Fame slugger Orlando Cepeda said, "Trust me, you have to fight. When people are wrong, you've got to let them know it."

Dave Zirin's new book "What's My Name Fool? Sports and
Resistance in the United States" is published by
Haymarket Books. Check out his revamped website You can receive his column Edge of
Sports, every week by e-mailing Contact him at

Monday, August 15, 2005

The Schemes and Dreams of the Ironically Challenged

The Schemes and Dreams of the Ironically Challenged

PEJ News - C. L. Cook - So the grand plan has begun. Despite environmental protestations of fast-tracked impact assessments, and requests for more study by both the Manitoba and federal governments, the waters of Devil's Lake are now coursing towards their ultimate home north of the border.

The Schemes and Dreams
of the Ironically Challenged
C. L. Cook

PEJ News
August 15th, 2005

Devil's Lake is a geologically isolated inland body whose lack of a natural drainage network creates regular flooding of farms and properties along the shoreline. The solution: A drainage system to slew overflows a dozen miles into the Sheyenne River. The Sheyenne runs through the Red River before collecting in Lake Winnipeg.

Dakotans say the floods have cost them billion and action couldn't be delayed by environmentalist's concerns of possible species corruption of the Red, Sheyenne and Lake Winnipeg by the creatures, vegetation, parasites, viruses, etc; all uniquely evolved in the biologically sequestered Devil's Lake. And then there's the quality of the water itself.

Friends of the Earth, an international environmental organization, say the lakes sulfates and phosphorous levels should be more closely studied. Surrounded by farms, the lake both supplies water and receives agricultural run-off; run-off laden with fertilizer and pesticides. FOE spokesperson, Beatrice Olivastri believes more environmental oversight should have been demanded before the sluiceways were opened on the project. "The testing that took place . . . was a fast-track assessment that really is inadequate," said Olivastri.

Manitoba's Premier, Gary Doer says there are concerns about the effects on the Red River, a central feature of the provinces largest city, and possible plant contamination in Lake Winnipeg. He says test results on the vegetation are pending.

The diversion project has been a source of bitter division and legal battles across the borders for years. For their part, Dakotans say the water in Devil's Lake is fine, and local fishing is thriving.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Gorilla Radio for July 15th, 2005

Gorilla Radio for Monday,

August 15th, 2005


Chris Cook hosts Gorilla Radio, airing live every Monday, 5-6pm Pacific Time. In Victoria at 101.9FM, 104.3 cable, and on the internet at: He also serves as a contributing editor at the progressive web news site:

You can check out the GR blog at:

From the beaches of Iwo Jima to the desert sands of Iraq, American anti-war veterans met last week at the annual Veterans for Peace convention. The meeting was highlighted by the address of Cindy Sheehan, the founder of Gold Star Families for Peace. Sheehan, the mother of a soldier son killed in Iraq last year, issued a challenge to “the murdering bastard, George Bush” to explain why, after every “justification” his administration cited as good cause to invade and occupy Iraq has proven false, her son died.

She’s gone further, leading a protest camp outside the gates of Bush’s Crawford, Texas ranch to wait his answer. Mike Ferner is a writer, and veteran member of Veteran’s for Peace and has written a piece about Cindy Sheehan’s case. He’s also a past Coordinator for the Program on Corporations, Law, and Democracy, and has made two trips to Iraq, one just prior to the invasion with the peace organization, Voices in the Wilderness and again as a freelance writer during the occupation. His experiences there are the basis of a forthcoming book.

Mike Ferner and Waiting for W. in the first half.

And; Chris Hedges is a former war correspondent and author. He spent more than fifteen years reporting from various fields of battle for The New York Times, Christian Science Monitor, and America’s National Public Radio. He shared the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting and that year’s Amnesty International Global Award for Human Rights Journalism. His books include, War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning, and What Every Person Should Know About War.

And; Janine Bandcroft will be here at the bottom of the hour to bring us up to speed with all that’s good to do in and around Victoria this week. But first, Mike Ferner and the Crawford occupation.

G-Radio is dedicated to social justice, the environment, community, and providing a forum for people and issues not covered in the mainstream media.

Some past guests include: M. Junaid Alam, Joel Bakan, Maude Barlow, David Barsamian, William Blum, Luciana Bohne, Vincent Bugliosi, Helen Caldicott, Noam Chomsky, Michel Chossudovsky, Diane Christian, Juan Cole, David Cromwell, Jon Elmer, Reese Erlich, Jim Fetzer, Laura Flanders, Susan George, Stan Goff, Robert Greenwald, Denis Halliday, Chris Hedges, Julia Butterfly Hill, Robert Jensen, Dahr Jamail, Diana Johnstone, Kathy Kelly, Naomi Klein, Anthony Lappe, Frances Moore Lappe, Dave Lindorff, Jim Lobe, Wayne Madsen, Stephen Marshall, Linda McQuaig, George Monbiot, Loretta Napoleoni, John Nichols, Kurt Nimmo, Greg Palast, Michael Parenti, William Rivers Pitt, Sheldon Rampton, Paul Craig Roberts, Paul de Rooij, John Ross, Danny Schechter, Vandana Shiva, Norman Solomon, Starhawk, Grant Wakefield, Bernard Weiner, Mickey Z., Dave Zirin, and many others.