Saturday, October 04, 2008

Blue Fin Tuna Protections Urged for Atlantic Stocks

Scientists Find New Migratory Patterns for Mediterranean and Western Atlantic Bluefin Tuna

Findings timely for international actions to reduce overexploitation

Solomons, Md. (October 2, 2008) – New research into the life cycle of Atlantic bluefin tuna shows, for the first time, that Mediterranean and North American bluefin mix substantially as juveniles, but return to their place of birth to spawn. These new research findings have critical implications for how bluefin tuna are managed on both sides of the Atlantic.

Research appearing in the journal Science by a team of scientists led by Dr. Jay Rooker of Texas A&M University and Dr. David Secor of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, draws three important conclusions about tuna migratory patterns. When combined, these conclusions provide a strong foundation for revising fisheries management measures in place for Atlantic bluefin tuna.

First, the study shows that juveniles that begin their lives in either North American coastal waters or the Mediterranean Sea are destined to return to these regions to spawn as adults (North American bluefin tuna spawn in the Gulf of Mexico).

Dr. Dave Secor with Student
Secondly, juvenile bluefin tuna from the Mediterranean Sea show up in substantial numbers in North American fisheries. Finally, commercially harvested bluefin (commonly called “giants” and weighing over several hundred pounds) in New England and Canada are comprised almost exclusively of fish that originated from North America.

“We have learned that U.S. recreational fisheries focusing on small bluefin tuna are heavily subsidized by Mediterranean fish. North American commercial fisheries, on the other hand, depend exclusively on fish that are spawning in the Gulf of Mexico,” said Secor. “Juveniles are not conforming to the principal premise of how they’ve been managed – that fish keep to their own side of the Atlantic. This could be particularly troubling if North American juveniles head to the Mediterranean. High exploitation there might mean that few make it back. Evaluating where Mediterranean juveniles originate should be our next highest priority.”

The authors use a novel approach to investigate migratory behaviors. “We examined the chemical composition of the fish’s ear stone—the otolith—to identify individuals from different nurseries,” said Rooker. “Chemical signatures in the form of stable carbon and oxygen isotope ratios served as a ‘birth certificate’ and we used these natural tags to determine the origin of adolescent and adult bluefin tuna from several spawning and foraging areas.” The international study relied upon bluefin tuna collections made throughout the Mediterranean, Gulf of Mexico, and U.S. and Canadian Atlantic waters.

It is well known that breeders often return to their place of origin but this study is the first to document natal homing for a large, highly migratory fish. “Our study clearly shows that bluefin tuna possess remarkable natal homing abilities that rival those of Pacific salmon and migratory birds. Nearly all of the adults from both the Gulf of Mexico and Mediterranean Sea returned to their place of origin to spawn,” noted Rooker.

This new information comes at a time when most bluefin tuna fisheries are in steep decline and global fishery managers are preparing for the annual meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) November 17 in Morocco. A significant portion of the meeting will address diminishing stocks and ways to better manage the economically vital species. In a recent independent review by international experts, ICCAT received strong criticism for past mismanagement of bluefin tuna fisheries, specifically those in the eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean.

In addition to Rooker and Secor, Gregoria DeMetrio of the University of Bari, Ryan Schlosser of Texas A&M University, Barbara Block of Stanford University and John Neilson of the St. Andrews Biological Station co-authored the article, “Natal Homing and Connectivity in Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Populations.” This work was supported by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Southeast Fisheries Science Center and the University of New Hampshire’s Large Pelagic Research Center.

The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science is the University System of Maryland’s premier environmental research institution. UMCES researchers are helping improve our scientific understanding of Maryland, the region and the world through its three laboratories, Chesapeake Biological Laboratory in Solomons, Appalachian Laboratory in Frostburg, and Horn Point Laboratory in Cambridge, as well as the Maryland Sea Grant College

Chris Conner

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Project Censored: The Top 10 Stories the US News Media Missed in the Past Year
San Francisco Bay Guardian


The daily dispatches and nightly newscasts of the mainstream media regularly cover terrorism, but rarely discuss how the fear of attacks is used to manipulate the public and set policy. That’s the common thread of many unreported stories last year, according to an analysis by Project Censored.

Since 1976, Sonoma State University has released an annual survey of the top 25 stories the mainstream media failed to report or reported poorly. Culled from worldwide alternative news sources, vetted by students and faculty, and ranked by judges, the stories were not necessarily overtly censored. But their controversial subjects, challenges to the status quo, or general under-the-radar subject matter might have kept them from the front pages. Project Censored recounts them, accompanied by media analysis, in a book of the same name published annually by Seven Stories Press.

“This year, war and civil liberties stood out,” Peter Phillips, project director since 1996, said of the top stories. “They’re closely related and part of the War on Terror that has been the dominant theme of Project Censored for seven years, since 9/11.”

Whether it’s preventing what one piece of legislation calls “homegrown terrorism” by federally funding the study of radicalism, using vague concerns about security to quietly expand NAFTA, or refusing to count the number of Iraqi civilians killed in the war, the threat of terrorism is being used to silence people and expand power.

“The war on terror is a sort of mind terror,” said Nancy Snow, one of the project’s 24 judges and an associate professor of public diplomacy at the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. Snow — who has taught classes on war, media, and propaganda — elaborated: “You can’t declare war on terror. It’s a tactic used by groups to gain publicity and it will remain with us. But it’s unlikely that [the number of terrorist acts] will spike. It spikes in the minds of people.”

She pointed out that the number of terrorist attacks has dropped worldwide since 2003. Some use the absence of fresh attacks as evidence that the so-called war on terror is working. But a RAND Corporation study for the Department of Defense released in August said the war on terror hasn’t effectively undermined Al Qaeda. It suggested the phrase be replaced with the less loaded term “counterterrorism.”

Both Phillips and Snow agree that comprehensive, contextual reporting is missing from most of the coverage. “That’s one of my criticisms of the media,” Snow said. “They spotlight issues and don’t look at the entire landscape.”

This year the landscape of Project Censored itself is expanding. After talking with educators who bemoan the ongoing decline of news quality and want to help, Phillips launched the Truth Emergency Project, in which Sonoma State partners with 23 other universities. All will host classes for students to search out untold stories, vet them for accuracy, and submit them for consideration to Project Censored.

“There’s a renaissance of independent media,” Phillips said. He thinks bloggers and citizen journalists are filling crucial roles left vacant by staff cutbacks throughout the mainstream media. And, he said, it’s time for universities, educators, and media experts to step in and help. “It’s not just reforming the media, but supporting them in as many ways as they need, like validating stories by fact-checking.”

The Truth Emergency Project will also host a news service that aggregates the top 12 independent media sources and posts them on one page. “So you can get an RSS feed from all the major independent news sources we trust,” he said. Discerning newshounds can find reporting from the BBC, Democracy Now!, and Inter Press Service (IPS) in one spot. “The whole criteria,” he said, “is no corporate media.”

Carl Jensen, who started Project Censored in 1976, said the expansion is a new and necessary phase. “It answers the question I was always challenged with: how do you know this is the truth? Having 24 campuses reviewing all the stories and raising questions really provides a good answer. These stories will be vetted more than Sarah Palin.”

Phillips said he hopes to expand to 100 schools within the year, and would like the project to bring more attention to the dire need for public support for high quality news reporting. “I think it’s going to require government subsidies and nonprofit organizations doing community media projects,” he said. “It’s more than just reforming at the FCC level. It’s building independent media from the ground up.”

Phillips likens it to the boom in microbrewed beer and the spread of independently-owned pubs: “If we can have a renaissance in beer-making, following established purity standards, then we can do it with our media, too.” But for now, we have Project Censored, whose top 10 underreported stories for 2008 are:


Nobody knows exactly how many lives the Iraq War has claimed. But even more astounding is that so few journalists have mentioned the issue or cited the top estimate: 1.2 million.

During August and September 2007, Opinion Research Business, a British polling group, surveyed 2,414 adults in 15 of 18 Iraqi provinces and found that more than 20 percent had experienced at least one war-related death since March 2003. Using common statistical study methods, it determined that as many as 1.2 million people had been killed since the war began.

The US military, claiming it keeps no count, still employs civilian death data as a marker of progress. For example, in a Sept. 10, 2007, report to Congress, Gen. David Petraeus said, “Civilian deaths of all categories, less natural causes, have also declined considerably, by over 45 percent Iraq-wide since the height of the sectarian violence in December.”

But whose number was he using? Estimates range wildly and are based on a variety of sources, including hospital, morgue, and media reports, as well as in-person surveys.

In October 2006, the British medical journal Lancet published a Johns Hopkins University study vetted by four independent sources that counted 655,000 dead, based on interviews with 1,849 households. It updated a similar study from 2004 that counted 100,000 dead. The Associated Press called it “controversial.”

The AP began its own count in 2005 and by 2006 said that at least 37,547 Iraqis had lost their lives due to war-related violence, but called it a minimum estimate at best and didn’t include insurgent deaths.

Iraq Body Count, a group of US and UK citizens who aggregate numbers from media reports on civilian deaths, puts the figure between 87,000 and 95,000. In January 2008, the World Health Organization and the Iraqi government did door-to-door surveys of nearly 10,000 households and put the number of dead at 151,000.

The 1.2 million figure is out there, too, which is higher than the Rwandan genocide death toll and closing in on the 1.7 million who perished in Cambodia’s killing fields. It raises questions about the real number of deaths from US aerial bombings and house raids, and challenges the common assumption that this is a war in which Iraqis are killing Iraqis.

Justifying the higher number, Michael Schwartz, writing on the blog, pointed to a fact reported by the Brookings Institute that US troops have, over the past four years, conducted about 100 house raids a day — a number that has recently increased with assistance from Iraqi soldiers.

Brutality during these house searches has been documented by returning soldiers, Iraqi civilians, and independent journalists (See #9 below). Schwartz suggests the aggressive “element of surprise” tactics employed by soldiers is likely resulting in several thousands of deaths a day that either go unreported or are categorized as insurgent casualties.

The spin is having its intended effect: a February 2007 AP poll showed Americans gave a median estimate of 9,890 Iraqi deaths as a result of the war, a number far below that cited in any credible study.

Sources: “Is the United States killing 10,000 Iraqis every month? Or is it more?” Michael Schwartz, After Downing, July 6, 2007; “Iraq death toll rivals Rwanda Genocide, Cambodian killing fields,” Joshua Holland, AlterNet, Sept. 17, 2007; “Iraq conflict has killed a million: survey,” Luke Baker, Reuters, Jan. 30, 2008; “Iraq: Not our country to return to,” Maki al-Nazzal and Dahr Jamail, Inter Press Service, March 3, 2008.


Coupling the perennial issue of security with Wall Street’s measures of prosperity, the leaders of the three North American nations convened the Security and Prosperity Partnership. The White House–led initiative — launched at a March 23, 2005, meeting of President Bush, Mexico’s then-president Vicente Fox, and Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin — joins beefed-up commerce with coordinated military operations to promote what it calls “borderless unity.”

Critics call it “NAFTA on steroids.” However, unlike NAFTA, the SPP was formed in secret, without public input.

“The SPP is not a law, or a treaty, or even a signed agreement,” Laura Carlsen wrote in a report for the Center for International Policy. “All these would require public debate and participation of Congress, both of which the SPP has scrupulously avoided.”

Instead the SPP has a special workgroup: the North American Competitiveness Council. It’s a coalition of private companies that are, according to the SPP Web site, “adding high-level business input [that] will assist governments in enhancing North America’s competitive position and engage the private sector as partners in finding solutions.”

The NACC includes the Chevron Corporation, Ford Motor Company, General Electric, Lockheed Martin Corporation, Merck & Co. Inc., New York Life Insurance Co., Procter & Gamble Co., and Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

“Where are the environmental council, the labor council, and the citizen’s council in this process?” Carlsen asked.

A look at NAFTA’s unpopularity among citizens in all three nations is evidence of why its expansion would need to be disguised. “It’s a scheme to create a borderless North American Union under US control without barriers to trade and capital flows for corporate giants, mainly US ones,” wrote Steven Lendman in Global Research. “It’s also to insure America gets free and unlimited access to Canadian and Mexican resources, mainly oil, and in the case of Canada, water as well.”

Sources: “Deep Integration,” Laura Carlsen, Center for International Policy, May 30, 2007; “The Militarization and Annexation of North America,” Stephen Lendman, Global Research, July 19, 2007; “The North American Union,” Constance Fogal, Global Research, Aug. 2, 2007.


The FBI and Department of Homeland Security have effectively deputized 23,000 members of the business community, asking them to tip off the feds in exchange for preferential treatment in the event of a crisis. “The members of this rapidly growing group, called InfraGard, receive secret warnings of terrorist threats before the public does — and, at least on one occasion, before elected officials,” Matthew Rothschild wrote in the March 2008 issue of The Progressive.

InfraGard was created in 1996 in Cleveland as part of an FBI probe into cyberthreats. Yet after 9/11, membership jumped from 1,700 to more than 23,000, and now includes 350 of the nation’s Fortune 500 companies. Members typically have a stake in one of several crucial infrastructure industries, including agriculture, banking, defense, energy, food, telecommunications, law enforcement, and transportation. The group’s 86 chapters coordinate with 56 FBI field offices nationwide.

While FBI Director Robert Mueller has said he considers this segment of the private sector “the first line of defense,” the American Civil Liberties Union issued a grave warning about the potential for abuse. “There is evidence that InfraGard may be closer to a corporate TIPS program, turning private-sector corporations — some of which may be in a position to observe the activities of millions of individual customers — into surrogate eyes and ears for the FBI,” it cautioned in an August 2004 report.

“The FBI should not be creating a privileged class of Americans who get special treatment,” Jay Stanley, public education director of the ACLU’s technology and liberty program, told Rothschild.

And they are privileged: a DHS spokesperson told Rothschild that InfraGard members receive special training and readiness exercises. They’re also privy to protected information that is usually shielded from disclosure under the trade secrets provision of the Freedom of Information Act.

The information they have may be of critical importance to the general public, but first it goes to the privileged membership — sometimes before it’s released to elected officials. As Rothschild related in his story, on Nov. 1, 2001, the FBI sent an alert to InfraGard members about a potential threat to bridges in California. Barry Davis, who worked for Morgan Stanley, received the information and relayed it to his brother Gray, then governor of California, who released it to the public.

Steve Maviglio, Davis’s press secretary at the time, told Rothschild, “The governor got a lot of grief for releasing the information. In his defense, he said, ‘I was on the phone with my brother, who is an investment banker. And if he knows, why shouldn’t the public know?’<0×2009>”

Source: “The FBI deputizes business,” Matthew Rothschild, The Progressive, Feb. 7, 2008.


The School of the Americas earned an unsavory reputation in Latin America after many graduates of the Fort Benning, Ga., facility turned into counterinsurgency death squad leaders. So the International Law Enforcement Academy recently installed by the Unites States in El Salvador — which looks, acts, and smells like the SOA — is also drawing scorn.

The school, which opened in June 2005 before the Salvadoran National Assembly approved it, has a satellite operation in Peru and is funded with $3.6 million from the US Treasury and staffed with instructors from the DEA, ICE, and FBI. It’s tasked with training 1,500 police officers, judges, prosecutors, and other law enforcement agents in counterterrorism techniques per year. It’s stated purpose is to make Latin America “safe for foreign investment” by “providing regional security and economic stability and combating crime.”

ILEAs aren’t new, but past schools located in Hungary, Thailand, Botswana, and Roswell, N.M., haven’t been terribly controversial. Yet Salvadoran human rights organizers take issue with the fact that, in true SOA fashion, the ILEA releases neither information about its curriculum nor a list of students and graduates. Additionally, the way the school slipped into existence without public oversight has raised ire.

As Wes Enzinna noted in a North American Congress on Latin America report, when the US decided it wanted a training ground in Latin America, El Salvador was not the first choice. In 2002 US officials selected Costa Rica as host — a country that doesn’t even have an army. The local government signed on and the plan made headlines. But when citizens learned about it, they revolted and demanded the government change the agreement. The US bailed for a more discreet second attempt in El Salvador.

“Members of the US Congress were not briefed about the academy, nor was the main opposition party in El Salvador, the Farabundo Martí-National Liberation Front (FMLN),” Enzinna wrote. “But once the news media reported that the two countries had signed an official agreement in September, activists in El Salvador demanded to see the text of the document.” Though they tried to garner enough opposition to kill the agreement, the National Assembly narrowly ratified it.

Now, after more than three years in operation, critics point out that Salvadoran police, who account for 25 percent of the graduates, have become more violent. A May 2007 report by Tutela Legal implicated Salvadoran National Police (PNC) officers in eight death squad–style assassinations in 2006.

El Salvador’s ILEA recently received another $2 million in US funding through the congressionally approved Mérida Initiative — but still refuses to adopt a more transparent curriculum and administration, despite partnering with a well-known human rights leader. Enzinna’s FOIA requests for course materials were rejected by the government, so no one knows exactly what the school is teaching, or to whom.

Sources: “Exporting US ‘Criminal Justice’ to Latin America,” “Community in Solidarity with the people of El Salvador,” Upside Down World, June 14, 2007; “Another SOA?” Wes Enzinna, NACLA Report on the Americas, March/April 2008; “ILEA funding approved by Salvadoran right wing legislators,” CISPES, March 15, 2007; “Is George Bush restarting Latin America’s ‘dirty wars?’<0×2009>” Benjamin Dangl, AlterNet, Aug. 31, 2007.


Protesting war could get you into big trouble, according to a critical read of two executive orders recently signed by President Bush. The first, issued July 17, 2007, and titled, “Blocking property of certain persons who threaten stabilization efforts in Iraq,” allows the feds to seize assets from anyone who “directly or indirectly” poses a risk to the US war in Iraq. And, citing the modern technological ease of transferring funds and assets, the order states that no prior notice is necessary before the raid.

On Aug. 1, Bush signed another order, similar but directed toward anyone undermining the “sovereignty of Lebanon or its democratic processes and institutions.” In this case, the Secretary of the Treasury can seize the assets of anyone perceived as posing a risk of violence, as well as the assets of their spouses and dependents, and bans them from receiving any humanitarian aid.

Critics say the orders bypass the right to due process and the vague language makes manipulation and abuse possible. Protesting the war could be perceived as undermining or threatening US efforts in Iraq. “This is so sweeping, it’s staggering,” said Bruce Fein, a former Reagan administration official in the Justice Department who editorialized against it in the Washington Times. “It expands beyond terrorism, beyond seeking to use violence or the threat of violence to cower or intimidate a population.”

Sources: “Bush executive order: Criminalizing the antiwar movement,” Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, July 2007; “Bush’s executive order even worse than the one on Iraq,” Matthew Rothschild, The Progressive, Aug. 2007.


On Oct. 23, 2007, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed — by a vote of 404-6 — the “Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act,” designed to root out the causes of radicalization in Americans.

With an estimated four-year cost of $22 million, the act establishes a 10-member National Commission on the Prevention of Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism, as well as a university-based Center of Excellence “to examine the social, criminal, political, psychological, and economic roots of domestic terrorism,” according to a press release from the bill’s author, Rep. Jane Harman (D-Los Angeles).

During debate on the bill, Harman said, “Free speech, espousing even very radical beliefs, is protected by our Constitution. But violent behavior is not.”

Jessica Lee, writing in the Indypendent, a newspaper put out by the New York Independent Media Center, pointed out that in a later press release Harman stated: “the National Commission [will] propose to both Congress and [Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael] Chertoff initiatives to intercede before radicalized individuals turn violent.”

Which could be when they’re speaking, writing, and organizing in ways that are protected by the First Amendment. This redefines civil disobedience as terrorism, say civil rights experts, and the wording is too vague. For example, the definition of “violent radicalization” is “the process of adopting or promoting an extremist belief system for the purpose of facilitating ideologically based violence to advance political, religious, or social change.”

“What is an extremist belief system? Who defines this? These are broad definitions that encompass so much…. It is criminalizing thought and ideology,” said Alejandro Queral, executive director of the Northwest Constitutional Rights Center in Portland, Ore.

Though the ACLU recommended some changes that were adopted, it continued to criticize the bill. Harman, in a response letter, said free speech is still free and stood by the need to curb ideologically-based violence.

The story didn’t make it onto the CNN ticker, but enough independent sources reported on it that the equivalent Senate Bill 1959 has since stalled. After introducing the bill, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Me.), later joined forces with Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) on a report criticizing the Internet as a tool for violent Islamic extremism.

Despite an outcry from civil liberties groups, days after the report was released Lieberman demanded that YouTube remove a number of Islamist propaganda videos. YouTube canned some that broke their rules regarding violence and hate speech, but resisted censoring others. The ensuing battle caught the attention of the New York Times, and on May 25 it editorialized against Lieberman and S 1959.

Sources: “Bringing the war on terrorism home,” Jessica Lee, Indypendent, Nov. 16, 2007; “Examining the Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act,” Lindsay Beyerstein, In These Times, Nov. 2007; “The Violent Radicalization Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007,” Matt Renner, Truthout, Nov. 20, 2007


Every year, about 121,000 people legally enter the United States to work with H-2 visas, a program legislators are touting as part of future immigration reform. But Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) called this guest worker program “the closest thing I’ve ever seen to slavery.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center likened it to “modern day indentured servitude.” They interviewed thousands of guest workers and reviewed legal cases for a report released in March 2007, in which authors Mary Bauer and Sarah Reynolds wrote, “Unlike US citizens, guest workers do not enjoy the most fundamental protection of a competitive labor market — the ability to change jobs if they are mistreated. Instead, they are bound to the employers who ‘import’ them. If guest workers complain about abuses, they face deportation, blacklisting, or other retaliation.”

When visas expire, workers must leave the country, hardly making this the path to permanent citizenship legislators are looking for. The H-2 program mimics the controversial bracero program, established through a joint agreement between Mexico and the United States in 1942 that brought 4.5 million workers over the border during the 22 years it was in effect.

Many legal protections were written into the program, but in most cases they existed only on paper in a language unreadable to employees. In 1964 the program was shuttered amid scores of human rights abuses and complaints that it undermined petitions for higher wages from US workers. Soon after, United Farm Workers organized, which César Chávez said would have been impossible if the bracero program still existed.

Years later, it essentially still does. The H-2A program, which accounted for 32,000 agricultural workers in 2005, has many of the same protections — and many of the same abuses. Even worse is the H-2B program, used by 89,000 non-agricultural workers annually. Created by the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, none of the safeguards of the H-2A visa are legally required for H-2B workers.

Still, Mexicans are literally lining up for H-2B status, the stark details of which were reported by Felicia Mello in The Nation. Furthermore, thousands of illegal immigrants are employed throughout the country, providing cheap, unprotected labor and further undermining the scant provisions of the laws. Labor contractors who connect immigrants with employers are stuffing their pockets with cash, while the workers return home with very little money.

The Southern Poverty Law Center outlined a list of comprehensive changes needed in the program, concluding, “For too long, our country has benefited from the labor provided by guest workers but has failed to provide a fair system that respects their human rights and upholds the most basic values of our democracy. The time has come for Congress to overhaul our shamefully abusive guest worker system.”

Sources: “Close to Slavery,” Mary Bauer and Sarah Reynolds, Southern Poverty Law Center, March 2007; “Coming to America,” Felicia Mello, The Nation, June 25, 2007; “Trafficking racket,” Chidanand Rajghatta, Times of India, March 10, 2008.


The Bush administration’s Office of Legal Counsel in the Department of Justice has been issuing classified legal opinions about surveillance for years. As a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) had access to the DOJ opinions on presidential power and had three declassified to show how the judicial branch has, in a bizarre and chilling way, assisted President Bush in circumventing its own power.

According to the three memos:

“There is no constitutional requirement for a President to issue a new executive order whenever he wishes to depart from the terms of a previous executive order. Rather than violate an executive order, the President has instead modified or waived it”;

“The President, exercising his constitutional authority under Article II, can determine whether an action is a lawful exercise of the President’s authority under Article II,” and

“The Department of Justice is bound by the President’s legal determinations.”

Or, as Whitehouse rephrased in a Dec. 7, 2007, Senate speech: “I don’t have to follow my own rules, and I don’t have to tell you when I’m breaking them. I get to determine what my own powers are. The Department of Justice doesn’t tell me what the law is. I tell the Department of Justice what the law is.”

The issue arose within the context of the Protect America Act, which expands government surveillance powers and gives telecom companies legal immunity for helping. Whitehouse called it “a second-rate piece of legislation passed in a stampede in August at the behest of the Bush administration.”

He pointed out that the act does not prohibit spying on Americans overseas — with the exception of an executive order that permits surveillance only of Americans whom the Attorney General determines to be “agents of a foreign power.”

“In other words, the only thing standing between Americans traveling overseas and government wiretap is an executive order,” Whitehouse said in an April 12 speech. “An order this president, under the first legal theory I cited, claims he has no legal obligation to obey.”

Whitehouse, a former US Attorney, legal counsel to Rhode Island’s governor, and Rhode Island Attorney General who took office in 2006, went on to point out that Marbury vs. Madison, written by Chief Justice John Marshall in 1803, established that it is “emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is.”

Sources: “In FISA Speech, Whitehouse sharply criticizes Bush Administration’s assertion of executive power,” Sheldon Whitehouse, Dec. 7, 2007; “Down the Rabbit Hole,” Marcy Wheeler, The Guardian (UK), Dec. 26, 2007.


Hearing soldiers recount their war experiences is the closest many people come to understanding the real horror, pain, and confusion of combat. One would think that might make compelling copy or powerful footage for a news outlet. But in March, when more than 300 veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan convened for four days of public testimony on the war, they were largely ignored by the media.

Winter Soldier was designed to give soldiers a public forum to air some of the atrocities they witnessed. Originally convened by Vietnam Vets Against the War in January 1971, more than 100 Vietnam veterans and 16 civilians described their war experiences, including rapes, torture, brutalities, and killing of non-combatants. The testimony was entered into the Congressional Record, filmed, and shown at the Cannes Film Festival.

Iraq Veterans Against the War hosted the 2008 reprise of the 1971 hearings. Aaron Glantz, writing in One World, recalled testimony from former Marine Cpl. Jason Washburn, who said, “his commanders encouraged lawless behavior. ‘We were encouraged to bring ‘drop weapons,’ or shovels. In case we accidentally shot a civilian, we could drop the weapon on the body and pretend they were an insurgent.’<0×2009>”

An investigation by Chris Hedges and Laila Al-Arian in The Nation that included interviews with 50 Iraq war veterans also revealed an overwhelming lack of training and resources, and a general disregard for the traditional rules of war.

Though most major news outlets sent staff to cover New York’s Fashion Week, few made it to Silver Spring, Md. for the Winter Soldier hearings. Fortunately, KPFA and Pacifica Radio broadcast the testimonies live and, in an update to the story, said they were “deluged with phone calls, e-mails, and blog posts from service members, veterans, and military families thanking us for breaking a cultural norm of silence about the reality of war.” Testimonies can still be heard at

Sources: “Winter Soldier: Iraq & Afghanistan eyewitness accounts of the occupation,” Iraq Veterans Against the War, March 13-16, 2008; “War comes home,” Aaron Glantz, Aimee Allison, and Esther Manilla, Pacifica Radio, March 14-16, 2008; “US Soldiers testify about war crimes,” Aaron Glantz, One World, March 19, 2008; “The Other War,” Chris Hedges and Laila Al-Arian, The Nation, July 30, 2007.


Psychologists have been assisting the CIA and US military with interrogation and torture of Guantánamo detainees — which the American Psychological Association has said is fine, despite objections from many of its 148,000 members.

A 10-member APA task force convened on the divisive issue in July 2005 and found that assistance from psychologists was making the interrogations safe and the group deferred to US standards on torture over international human-rights organizations’ definitions.

The task force was criticized by APA members for deliberating in secret, and later it was revealed that six of the 10 participants had ties to the armed services. Not only that, but as Katherine Eban reported in Vanity Fair, “Psychologists, working in secrecy, had actually designed the tactics and trained interrogators in them while on contract to the CIA.”

In particular, psychologists James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, neither of whom are APA members, honed a classified military training program known as SERE [Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape] that teaches soldiers how to tough out torture if captured by enemies. “Mitchell and Jessen reverse-engineered the tactics inflicted on SERE trainees for use on detainees in the global war on terror,” Eban wrote.

And, as Mark Benjamin noted in a Salon article, employing SERE training — which is designed to replicate torture tactics that don’t abide by Geneva Convention standards — refutes past administration assertions that current CIA torture techniques are safe and legal. “Soldiers undergoing SERE training are subject to forced nudity, stress positions, lengthy isolation, sleep deprivation, sexual humiliation, exhaustion from exercise, and the use of water to create a sensation of suffocation,” Benjamin wrote.

Eban’s story outlined how SERE tactics were spun as “science” despite a lack of data and the critique that building rapport works better than blows to the head. Specifically, he said, it’s been misreported that CIA torture techniques got Al Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah to talk, when it was actually FBI rapport-building. In spite of this, SERE techniques became standards in interrogation manuals that eventually made their way to US officers guarding Abu Ghraib.

Ongoing uproar within the APA resulted in a petition to make an official policy limiting psychologists’ involvement in interrogations. On Sept. 17, a majority of 15,000 voting members approved a resolution stating that psychologists may not work in settings where “persons are held outside of, or in violation of, either International Law (e.g., the UN Convention Against Torture and the Geneva Conventions) or the US Constitution (where appropriate), unless they are working directly for the persons being detained or for an independent third party working to protect human rights.”

Sources: “The CIA’s torture teachers,” Mark Benjamin, Salon, June 21, 2007; “Rorschach and awe,” Katherine Eban, Vanity Fair, July 17, 2007.


11. El Salvador’s Water Privatization and the Global War on Terror

12. Bush Profiteers Collect Billions from No Child Left Behind

13. Tracking Billions of Dollars Lost in Iraq

14. Mainstreaming Nuclear Waste

15. Worldwide Slavery

16. Annual Survey on Trade Union Rights

17. UN’s Empty Declaration of Indigenous Rights

18. Cruelty and Death in Juvenile Detention Centers

19. Indigenous Herders and Small Farmers Fight Livestock Extinction

20. Marijuana Arrests Set New Record

21. NATO Considers “First Strike” Nuclear Option

22. CARE Rejects US Food Aid

23. FDA Complicit in Pushing Pharmaceutical Drugs

24. Japan Questions 9/11 and the Global War on Terror

25. Bush’s Real Problem with Eliot Spitzer

Read them all at

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Stealth: The Real Bailout

Bailout by Stealth
While the public is distracted by the "bailout bill" and its rejection, trillions are pumped in to keep financial balloon inflated
James Corbett
The Corbett Report
30 September, 2008

The media is falling all over itself to report on every minutiae of the so-called Wall Street "bailout bill" and its rejection by Congress yesterday (just a few of the thousands of examples can be seen here and here and here and here). And why not? The media's breathless coverage of the bill has produced a furious backlash by the public and hysteria on Wall Street in a self-justifying feedback loop that makes the media attention seem merited.

The startling truth which the controlled corporate media is not reporting, however, is that a bailout is actually taking place right now, completely out of the public spotlight. This program has already pumped trillions of dollars into Wall Street (compared to the mere $700 billion proposed in the legislation that the media is focusing on) to help prop up the faltering investment banks and promises to pump in even more, every dime of it to the detriment of the taxpayer though the public will have no stake in its success. Why, then, is this program not being talked about in the media?

Slipping under the radar last week amidst the hullabaloo in Washington over the bailout bill was this story noting that in the past week alone, the Federal Reserve had pumped an astonishing $188 billion per day into the system in the form of emergency credit. This means that in just four days, the Fed injected as much money into the system as the entire $700 billion bailout proposal. After the proposal was rejected, the Fed responded by immediately announcing it would pour another $630 billion into the global financial system.

The Federal Reserve, of course, is America's central bank and although the above story conjures the reassuring image of a national bank lending out some of its vast reserves to help Wall Street weather the storm, the fact is that the Federal Reserve is not Federal and has doubtful reserves. In fact, the trillions of dollars that have been lent to the banks in the last few weeks were created out of nothing by the privately-owned Federal Reserve. When the Federal Reserve "lends" money to a bank through repurchase agreements (repos), credit auction or other method, it is not actually lending out money from its vaults. It is simply creating the money it "lends" out as electronic credits created in the recipient banks account. It is literally money out of thin air.

That the general public is on the hook for this money created out of nothing is not an exaggeration. It is paid for in a dimly-understood mechanism often known as the "inflation tax."

Inflation is nothing more than an indication that the ratio of money to products that can be purchased with that money has been increased. Since the overall number of dollars has gone up without any corresponding increase in economic production (as happens when the Federal Reserve creates money out of thin air), the value of each individual dollar goes down. That means that the value of the money in each individuals' bank account (not to mention their pension and social security dividends) can be reduced simply by the flick of a pen of a Federal Reserve paper-pusher. (Unless of course that individual just happens to be a billionaire investment mogul or a Vice President who can divest themselves of U.S. dollars in time for this inflation not to affect them.) This is sometimes known as an inflation tax because its overall effect is the same as if the government came in and took that value out of the individuals' bank account. Watch Ron Paul explain the inflation tax in the video below:

The most insidious part of this inflation tax is that the inflation does not begin until the new money begins to circulate in the system. In other words, the first person (or, more likely, giant corporate conglomerate) to use the money receives its full value, while those at the bottom of the pyramid retrieve the diminished returns of a devaluing dollar.

Why, then, is the public not furious about this stealth bailout, now taking place at the blistering pace of nearly $1 trillion a week, and all to the taxpayer's detriment? The obvious answer is that the media is not whipping the public into a frenzy about it, instead focusing its attention on a $700 billion program and allowing the public to feel like they scored a blow against Wall Street when the program gets rejected. If so, it's time the public got wise to how the system is really being run by and for the benefit of private bankers and at the expense of the average taxpayer. Otherwise, the fleecing of the public will continue unabated even as the public thinks they've won the battle.

Related works from The Corbett Report:

Money Masters Producer on Economic Crisis (video)

How To Fix the Economy (podcast episode)

Richard C. Cook on Monetary Reform (interview)

Monday, September 29, 2008

Man the Pumps: Climate Apocalypse Ahoy

Gwynne Dyer: A climate apocalypse could be approaching
By Gwynne Dyer
Publish Date: September 25, 2008
Scientists have their own way of putting things. This is how Dr Oerjan Gustafsson of Stockholm University announced the approach of a climate apocalypse in an e-mail sent last week from the Russian research ship Jakob Smirnitskyi in the Arctic Ocean.

"We had a hectic finishing of the sampling programme yesterday and this past night. An extensive area of intense methane release was found. At earlier sites we had found elevated levels of dissolved methane. Yesterday, for the first time, we documented a field where the release was so intense that the methane did not have time to dissolve into the seawater but was rising as methane bubbles to the sea surface."

Gustafsson's preliminary report, published in The Independent on September 23, is a development far more frightening than the current financial crisis, although it will get only one-thousandth of the coverage. The worst that the financial crisis can bring is some years of recession. The worst that massive methane releases in the Arctic can bring us is runaway, irreversible global warming.

Molecule for molecule, methane gas is 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a warming agent. However, since methane doesn't stay in the atmosphere as long––around 12 years, on average, compared with 100 years for CO2––and human activities do not produce all that much of it, concerns about climate change have mostly been focused on carbon dioxide. The one big worry was that warmer temperatures might cause massive releases of methane from natural sources.

There are thousands of megatonnes of methane stored underground in the Arctic region, trapped there by the permafrost (permanently frozen ground) that covers much of northern Russia, Alaska, and Canada and extends far out under the seabed of the Arctic Ocean. If the permafrost melts and methane escapes into the atmosphere on a large scale, it would cause a rapid rise in temperature, which would melt more permafrost, releasing more methane, which would cause more warming, and so on.

Climate scientists call this a feedback mechanism. So long as it is our emissions that are causing the warming, we can stop it if we reduce the emissions fast enough. Once feedbacks like methane release start to drive the warming, it's out of our hands: we might even cut our emissions to zero, only to find that the temperature is still rising.

Fear of this runaway feedback is why most climate scientists (and the European Union) have set a rise of two degrees Celsius (3.5 degrees Fahrenheit) in the average global temperature as the limit which we must never exceed. Somewhere between two and three degrees Celsius (3.5 and 5.2 degrees Fahrenheit), they fear, massive feedbacks like methane release would kick in and take the situation out of our hands.

Unfortunately, the heating is much more intense in the Arctic region. The average global temperate has only risen 0.6 degrees Celsius (1.1 degrees Fahrenheit) so far, but the average temperature in the Arctic is up by 4 degrees Celsius (7 degrees Fahrenheit). So the permafrost is starting to melt, and the trapped methane is escaping.

That is what the research ship "Jakob Smirnitskyi" has just found: areas of the Arctic Ocean off the Russian coast where "chimneys" of methane gas are bubbling to the surface. What this may mean is that we have no time left if we hope to avoid runaway global warming––and yet it will obviously take many years to get our own greenhouse gas emissions down. So what can we do?

There is a way to cheat, for a while. Several techniques have been proposed for holding the global temperature down temporarily in order to avoid running into the feedbacks. They do not release us from the duty of getting our emissions down, but they could win us some time to work on that task without running into disaster.

The leading candidate, suggested by Nobel Prize-winning atmospheric chemist Paul Crutzen in 2006, is to inject sulphur dioxide into the stratosphere in order to reflect some incoming sunlight. (This mimics the action of large volcanic eruptions, which also lower the global temperature temporarily by putting huge amounts of sulphur dioxide into the upper atmosphere.)

Another, less intrusive approach, proposed by John Latham of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado and Prof. Stephen Salter of Edinburgh University, is to launch fleets of unmanned, wind-powered vessels, controlled by satellite, that would spray seawater up into low-lying marine clouds in order to increase the amount of sunlight that they reflect. The great attraction of this technique is that if there are unwelcome side-effects, you can turn it off right away.

These techniques are known as "geo-engineering," and discussing them has been taboo in most scientific circles because of the "moral hazard": the fear that if the public knows you can hold the global temperature down by direct intervention, people will not do the harder job of cutting their emissions. But if large-scale methane releases are getting underway, the time for such subtle calculations is past.

Starting now, we need a crash programme to investigate the feasibility of these and other techniques for geo-engineering the climate. Once the thawing starts, it is hard to stop, and we may need them very soon.

Source URL:

Black Monday Dawning?

by Danny Schechter, NEWS DISSECTOR
September 29, 2008




One figure before I get into the big $700 billion dollar sellout. They just announced the new defense budget. Any guess at its size? Its less, a mere $612 Billion. How reassuring.

Now the bad news:

The deal seems to done, or at least imposed from the top. As predicted and expected, Congress won some concessions and the rest of us won a major tax hike. There is no guarantee of effective accountability and little evidence that this faith-based initiative can work.

AP Reports:

WASHINGTON - Congressional leaders and the White House agreed Sunday to a $700 billion rescue of the ailing financial industry after lawmakers insisted on sharing spending controls with the Bush administration. The biggest U.S. bailout in history won the tentative support of both presidential candidates and goes to the House for a vote Monday.

The plan, bollixed up for days by election-year politics, would give the administration broad power to use taxpayers' money to purchase billions upon billions of home mortgage-related assets held by cash-starved financial firms.


Sep 28 Tentative deal includes the general but unspecified provision that the financial industry would pay for any outstanding cost for the programme after five years. Main components: 1) $700bn released in installments: $250bn right away, $100bn later if results positive and the option to block the remaining $350bn; 2) equity warrants in return for bad asset purchase to recapitalize institutions and retain upside for taxpayers; 3) The plan also would let the government buy troubled assets from pension plans, local governments and small banks; 4) restrictions on executive compensation; 5) independent oversight board. 6) "the government could use its power as the owner of mortgages and mortgage-backed securities to help more struggling homeowners modify the terms of their home loans" but Democrats jettisoned Bankruptcy reform to lower debt value of purchased mortgages (Reuters). Separately, second stimulus package is also in the making for Main Street next to bailout for Wall Street


No member of the public, no labor representative etc…


This part of the legislation:

(e) PREVENTING UNJUST ENRICHMENT.-This subsection does not
apply to troubled assets acquired in a merger or acquisition, or a purchase
of assets from a financial institution in conservatorship or receivership, or
that has initiated bankruptcy proceedings under title 11, United States

So 'Unjust Enrichment' doesn't apply to JPMorganChase,BofA,Citi, or Barclay's of England because of what has already occurred. Think Lehman's when thinking Barclays.


We hear alot about Wall Steet and Main Street but very little about G Street where the Lobbyists are based in Washington and who are, as I write, are scheming overtime to make sure their clients profit on this "rescue."


Global investors no doubt will cheer the weekend's political breakthrough, focusing less on the details than on the perceived commitment by the United States to do whatever is necessary to prevent a meltdown in global financial markets.

But nobody should view even this effort as sufficient to keep the U.S. economy out of recession, stabilize housing markets or prevent the failure of additional banks, investment houses, insurers and hedge funds. Although more than $600 billion in private-sector credit losses have already been posted, a number of private and public-sector analysts now estimate that won't be even half the final tab from the bursting of the greatest credit bubble the world has seen.


Even after a form of this proposal gets passed, the US economy still has to contend with pieces other than the magnitude of the current financial crisis: extremely weak consumer, an ailing industrial sector, volatile crude oil prices and slowing global growth. So we will be nowhere near "out of the woods" after the bailout package becomes finalized, but it would be a crucial step to rebuilding a broken system.


FT: Goldman Sachs is seeking to acquire up to $50bn in assets from ailing US banks as part of its push into commercial banking, Goldman executives say

NAKED CAPITALISM:There was confusion up until the midnight hour on Saturday:

First sighting from Clusterstock, will add updates as they come in:

Update (12:35 a.m.): Nancy Pelosi speaks first. (She calls it "a buy-in"-not a bailout.) She says we have a deal. Harry Reid is up next. He credits Pelosi with coming up with a new idea in the final hour but doesn't even hint at what that is! Hank Paulson sounds less reassuring, mentioning that there is lots of work left to be done and concluding "so far, so good."

Gregg just sounds glad to be able to go to bed. Roy Blunt admits he hasn't talked to the House Republicans but seems confident. Blather from Dodd about how "unpleasant" having to "go through all this" has been.
Clusterstock again:

Update (12:37 a.m.): It's a secret deal! Until they get it down on paper overnight, we won't know what they agreed to.

Except, except. We imagine that that the staff members and lawmakers will quickly be leaking details to reporters.



The US Congress is not expected to start voting on the deal until tomorrow.

But politicians in Washington have reached their goal of striking a deal to send a reassuring message before today's opening of the Australian and Asian stockmarkets

But, guess what? Asian Markets did NOT respond as Washington hoped they would. "Asian stock markets fell on Monday as the US Congress prepared to begin voting on the $700 billion financial bailout plan…."


The architects of the bailout cannot be pleased by this news. Cam Hui writes more about this aspect which US media has downplayed on Seeking Alpha:

While some have pointed to the breakdown in the credit markets as the compelling reason for a bailout, there is gathering evidence that the US authorities succumbed to Chinese pressure to "make them whole", so to speak, on China's investments in US paper.

The Washington Post recently reported [emphasis, mine]:

As U.S. officials were deciding in August whether to take over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the Treasury Department held informal talks with officials from the People's Bank of China, the country's central bank. At that time, investors in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in China were dramatically reducing their holdings. The U.S. side told China that a cash infusion was in the works; China said that it expected the U.S. government to "do whatever is necessary" to protect the investments.

As an indication of further pressures, China also signaled that it could shift away from USD assets. Given the size of the US current account deficit, a buyer's strike of USD paper would send long rates soaring and the economy would nose-dive into a serious recession, if not another Depression. In that case, the US authorities may have caved into Chinese pressure and chosen to bail out Agency paper

China takes steps to prevent stock markets crashing

Asian stock markets have suffered more than those in Europe and the US as investors have retreated amidst the growing uncertainty, fulfilling general expectations of greater vulnerability.

This time last year the talk was of decoupling, expressing the hope that Asian economies and stock markets would continue to perform well despite the expected slowdown in Europe and the US. Much of this hope was predicated on the continued strength of the Chinese economy and the increasing economic interdependence among Asian countries. Most countries in the region have developed strong economic ties with China since the Asian economic crisis in the 1990s.


Alternet offers five reasons why.


Thursday afternoon was the moment America realised its version of capitalism is
not working any more. You could feel the pain of that eureka moment from Wall
Street to Main Street, where the middle class howled at the magnitude of a
mooted $700bn bail-out package.

The most direct expression of this epiphany was on Capitol Hill, where an
apostate faction of House Republicans declared their 11th-hour opposition to
the financial plan being advanced by their own president and secretary of the
Treasury. Part of what was going on was political posturing ahead of the
November 4 election. But at the heart of the rebellion was the fear that, as
Jen Hensarling, the Texas congressman who led the resistance said, the rescue
plan would lead the US down "the road to socialism".


Remember that simpler time before you had ever heard the term "subprime

Well, there is another financial instrument that could be about to become firmly
fixed in the water-cooler lexicon: credit-default swap.

These are contracts that banks, hedge funds and other institutions purchase to
cover potential losses on corporate debt, municipal bonds or mortgage
securities they have bought. If a company defaults on bond payments or goes
under, the swap issuer must pay a claim.

It's another of Wall Street's financial innovations that's creating fear and
hand-wringing among Washington financial regulators, so much so that U.S.
Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Christopher Cox called on Congress
on Monday to "immediately" grant authority to regulate them.


"The $700 billion bailout for Wall Street, is driven by fear not fact. This is too much money in too a short a time going to too few people while too many questions remain unanswered.

Why aren't we having hearings on the plan we have just received? Why aren't we questioning the underlying premise of the need for a bailout with taxpayers' money? Why have we not considered any alternatives other than to give $700 billion to Wall Street? Why aren't we asking Wall Street to clean up its own mess? Why aren't we passing new laws to stop the speculation, which triggered this? Why aren't we putting up new regulatory structures to protect investors? How do we even value the $700 billion in toxic assets?

"Why aren't we helping homeowners directly with their debt burden? Why aren't we helping American families faced with bankruptcy. Why aren't we reducing debt for Main Street instead of Wall Street? Isn't it time for fundamental change in our debt based monetary system, so we can free ourselves from the manipulation of the Federal Reserve and the banks? Is this the United States Congress or the board of directors of Goldman Sachs? Wall Street is a place of bears and bulls. It is not smart to force taxpayers to dance with bears or to follow closely behind the bulls.

THOM HARTMANN: How Wall Street Can Bail Itself Out Without Destroying The Dollar

For Grover "Drown Government In The Bathtub" Norquist, this bailout deal will work out very well. At a proposed cost of $4,780 per taxpayer, it'll further the David Stockman strategy of so indebting us that the next president won't have the luxury of even thinking of new social spending (expanding health care, social security, education, infrastructure, etc.); taxes will even have to be raised just to pay for the bailout. It'll debase our currency, driving up commodity prices and interest rates, which will benefit the Investor Class while further impoverishing the pesky Middle Class, rendering them less prone to protest (because they're so busy working trying to pay off their debt). It'll create stagflation for at least the next half decade, which can be blamed on Democrats who currently control Congress and, should Obama be elected, be blamed on him.

But there's another way: Create an agency to fund the bailout, loan that agency the money from the treasury, and then have that agency tax Wall Street to pay us (the treasury) back.

Mike Whitney: THEY ARE BROKE

The financial system is blowing up. Don't listen to the experts; just look at the numbers. Last week, according to Reuters, "U.S. banks borrowed a record amount from the Federal Reserve nearly $188 billion a day on average, showing the central bank went to extremes to keep the banking system afloat amid the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression." The Fed opened the various "auction facilities" to create the appearance that insolvent banks were thriving businesses, but they are not. They're dead; their liabilities exceed their assets. Now the Fed is desperate because the hundreds of billions of dollars of mortgage-backed securities (MBS) in the banks vaults have bankrupt the entire system and the Fed's balance sheet is ballooning by the day. The market for MBS will not bounce back in the foreseeable future and the banks are unable to roll-over their short term debt. Game over. The Federal Reserve itself is in danger. So, it's on to Plan B; which is to dump all the toxic sludge on the taxpayer before he realizes that the whole system is cratering and his life is about to change forever. It's called the Paulson Plan, a $700 billion boondoggle which has already been disparaged by every economist of merit in the country.

From Reuters:

"Borrowings by primary dealers via the Primary Dealer Credit Facility, and through another facility created on Sunday for Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and Merrill Lynch, and their London-based subsidiaries, totaled $105.66 billion as of Wednesday, the Fed said."

See what I mean; they're all broke. The Fed's rotating loans are just a way to perpetuate the myth that the banks aren't flat-lining already. Bernanke has tied strings to the various body parts and jerks them every so often to make it look like they're alive. But the Wall Street model is broken and the bailout is pointless.


The crime of the century. The greatest one ever. Author Danny Schechter calls it "Plunder." The title of his important new book on the subprime and overall financial crisis. Economist Michael Hudson and others refer to a kleptocracy. A Ponzi scheme writ large. Maybe an out-of-control Andromeda Strain. An economic one. Deadly. Unrecallable. Science fiction now real life. Potentially catastrophic. World governments trying to contain it. Trying everything but not sure what can work. Maybe only able to paper it over for short-term relief. Buy time but in the end vindicate the maxim that things that can't go on forever, won't.

The world as we know it is changing. Industrial capitalism. The entire global economic system. Interconnected. What affects one nation touches others. If the troubled country is America it reaches everywhere, and if the crisis is great enough, the disease may be fatal and human wreckage catastrophic. Precisely the current dilemma that world leaders and financial experts are scrambling to figure out. Desperate to contain, and not sure what, if anything, can work. How did this happen and why?

The result of unfettered capitalism's fatal flaw - unbridled greed in a rigged system that rewards the few at the expense of most others. First an explanation of how it works. Free-wheeling, "free market" Chicago School fundamentalism the way economist Milton Friedman championed it in his 1962 book "Capitalism and Freedom" and taught it to students for decades. He believed that government's sole function is "to protect our freedom both from (outside) enemies….and from our fellow-citizens." Preserve law and order. Enforce private contracts. Protect private property and "foster competitive (unregulated) markets." Everything else in public hands is "socialism….blasphemy." Not to be tolerated.


No government bail-out of the banking system was ever going to be pretty. This one deserves support SAVING the world is a thankless task. The only thing beyond dispute in the $700 billion plan of Hank Paulson, the treasury secretary, and Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve, to stem the financial crisis is that everyone can find something in it to dislike. The left accuses it of ripping off taxpayers to save Wall Street, the right damns it as socialism; economists disparage its technicalities, political scientists its sweeping powers. The administration gave ground to Congress, George Bush delivered a televised appeal and Barack Obama and John McCain suspended the presidential campaign. Even so, as The Economist went to press, the differences remained. There was a chance that Congress would say no.

Spending a sum of money that could buy you a war in Iraq should not come easily; and the notion of any bail-out is deeply troubling to any self-respecting capitalist. Against that stand two overriding arguments. First this is a plan that could work. And, second, the potential costs of producing nothing, or too little too slowly, include a financial collapse and a deep recession spilling across the world: those far outweigh any plausible estimate of the bail-out's cost.


LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's government will nationalize troubled mortgage lender Bradford & Bingley and is discussing the sale of its savings book and branches, people in the banking industry familiar with the matter said.

The Treasury is leading talks on the rescue of the bank and said on Sunday discussions were continuing. A full statement will be made by finance minister Alistair Darling before Monday's market opening.

The Treasury would have preferred a private sector rescue for Britain's ninth biggest mortgage provider but rivals appear unwilling to come in as a "white knight" amid a global credit crisis and weakening British housing market.

DEAN BAKER: Ending Welfare as We Know it Now

Like many other economists I have been writing about the conditions under which the taxpayers should be willing to hand over vast sums to the Wall Street wrecking crew. This is inevitably involves a game of chicken to some extent. But a properly designed bailout turns it into a simple question of revealed preference.

We give Wall Street terms that require giving up so much equity that the banks really don't want to take the deal. They will take the deal because they have to take the deal, the alternative is bankruptcy.

There is a very simple way to determine whether the deal is the right deal.

If the deal is the right deal, the stock market should rally; the threat of a financial meltdown will be pushed back, if not eliminated. However, if it's the right deal the financial stocks will not rally, they might even plummet.

The right deal will not give the shareholders anything. It will require the banks to surrender so much equity in exchange for their bailout that the share price could fall when the bailout is announced. After all, the shareholders of AIG were not happy when the Fed stepped in and keep the giant insurer operating. If we get the right deal, the stockholders of the surviving financial companies should be almost as unhappy.

So, there you have it. The right deal means stock market up, financial stocks down. Or to put another way, no deal until we see the "For Sale" signs in the Hamptons.

MEMO TO DEAN: There is a wave of foreclosures already in the Hamptons.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Second Great Depression

The Creation of the Second Great Depression

By Ron Paul

25/09/08 "Lew Rockwell" -- - Whenever a Great Bipartisan Consensus is announced, and a compliant media assures everyone that the wondrous actions of our wise leaders are being taken for our own good, you can know with absolute certainty that disaster is about to strike.

The events of the past week are no exception.

The bailout package that is about to be rammed down Congress’ throat is not just economically foolish. It is downright sinister. It makes a mockery of our Constitution, which our leaders should never again bother pretending is still in effect. It promises the American people a never-ending nightmare of ever-greater debt liabilities they will have to shoulder. Two weeks ago, financial analyst Jim Rogers said the bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac made America more communist than China! "This is welfare for the rich," he said. "This is socialism for the rich. It’s bailing out the financiers, the banks, the Wall Streeters."

That describes the current bailout package to a T. And we’re being told it’s unavoidable.

The claim that the market caused all this is so staggeringly foolish that only politicians and the media could pretend to believe it. But that has become the conventional wisdom, with the desired result that those responsible for the credit bubble and its predictable consequences – predictable, that is, to those who understand sound, Austrian economics – are being let off the hook. The Federal Reserve System is actually positioning itself as the savior, rather than the culprit, in this mess!

* The Treasury Secretary is authorized to purchase up to $700 billion in mortgage-related assets at any one time. That means $700 billion is only the very beginning of what will hit us.
* Financial institutions are "designated as financial agents of the Government." This is the New Deal to end all New Deals.
* Then there’s this: "Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency." Translation: the Secretary can buy up whatever junk debt he wants to, burden the American people with it, and be subject to no one in the process.

There goes your country.

Even some so-called free-market economists are calling all this "sadly necessary." Sad, yes. Necessary? Don’t make me laugh.

Our one-party system is complicit in yet another crime against the American people. The two major party candidates for president themselves initially indicated their strong support for bailouts of this kind – another example of the big choice we’re supposedly presented with this November: yes or yes. Now, with a backlash brewing, they’re not quite sure what their views are. A sad display, really.

Although the present bailout package is almost certainly not the end of the political atrocities we’ll witness in connection with the crisis, time is short. Congress may vote as soon as tomorrow. With a Rasmussen poll finding support for the bailout at an anemic seven percent, some members of Congress are afraid to vote for it. Call them! Let them hear from you! Tell them you will never vote for anyone who supports this atrocity.

The issue boils down to this: do we care about freedom? Do we care about responsibility and accountability? Do we care that our government and media have been bought and paid for? Do we care that average Americans are about to be looted in order to subsidize the fattest of cats on Wall Street and in government? Do we care?

When the chips are down, will we stand up and fight, even if it means standing up against every stripe of fashionable opinion in politics and the media?

Times like these have a way of telling us what kind of a people we are, and what kind of country we shall be.

Dr. Ron Paul is a Republican member of Congress from Texas.

CBC (mostly) Watch (actually more of a 'sporadic' CBC watch, as I'm too busy to do much right now and nobody seems to care anyway - but the propaganda is just so obvious I have to say something sometimes - so herein a partial record for when I or someone gets time for some 'academic' style analysis)
by Dave "Siam Dave" Patterson


Friday Sept 19 - 6 am PEI national 'news' - still on the 'apology' issue - the intrepid 'reporter' goes and finds three people who think the guy should resign, and nobody from the other POV, as 'background' to their 'story' on how that darn person is not resigning, even though some higher ups at the CBC think he ought to, in their petulant childish way. Right on impartial 'journalism' - I guess I'm the only one in Canada who thinks this is idiotic. And meanwhile, we wait and wait for something on a real issue, such as the SPP/NAU, Banketeering, democracy, etc.

- 6.30 'news' - it's a PEI story that a Lib candidate is 'recycling his old campaign signs'. You bet. Sure beats talking about democracy or banking or the SPP or any real issues etc.

Thursday Sept 18 - PEI news 6:30 am - making a big issue about some guy joking about 'hopes the person who died on PEI from listeriosis was Wayne Easter' - cheap joke, common sort of thing in ANY circle normal people move in, but the CBC is going to take it seriously and make a big issue out of it. Dumbing down in action, by PC people - this sort of thing is nothing more than childish, adults understand that this sort of joke is made, and is nothing more than that, a joke. Perhaps a bit tasteless, but hardly the stuff over which normal adult people get outraged. Big momma in action. (and the 'joking' as reported on the newscast - '...this may be death by a thousand cuts - or should that be cold cuts...' - I should never think this stuff cannot get more pathetic. But on a major CBC provincial news cast? This would get laughed out of a journalism school course ..... dumbing down in action. Nonstop. And if they want to censor the politician for the tasteless joke, why do they make equally tasteless ones themselves? As always, one rule for us, another for you.

- and making a big issue of the NDP candidate who did some drugs 'live' - some people might think this a perfect opportunity to talk about how most Canadians want pot legalised, but no, the PC CBC is all holier than thou about it all. This is a real issue that needs talking about, and real issues is one place we are NOT going during this campaign, insofar as the CBC has anything to do with it all.

- Ottawa news, 8.30, story on Pettawawa, not much interest in the election at Pettawawa, but it's a way to remind people about how both the Cons and Libs have 'agreed' on the 2011 withdrawal, so we don't need to talk about this much, right? Who cares what Canadians think about this all, eh???? But we do manage to get a few comments about how that date - 'may be too soon' - we're very definitely not going to hear from the majority of Canadians who want withdrawal now, as in ASAP, or ask politicians why they don't care what Canadians think about this, but let's get this little 'support the mssion!!! story in .... that's is indoctrination at work, constant small reinforcements sneaking in under the radar, and influencing what people think ....

- lady on the current 'doing the mail', just happens to mention her new book about the very serious situation of women in Afghanistan (you wavering people, we're doing GOOD STUFF THERE!!!!]]]] - blatant, very obvious what is happening from outside the box. Virtually never do we hear anything talking about how most Canadians do not want to be there, or how we got involved very undemocratically, etc.

Wednesday Sept 17 - the current - interview with Dion, Tremonti pretty aggressive, obviously dislikes Dion (all rightwing complaining about 'lefty media' notwithstanding), but he handled himself very impressively - have to wait and see how she deals with Harper - aggressive is ok, as long as it is evenly distributed amongst all candidates ...

- always stories of interest to be told, like the one from Fredericton today about the Down syndrome political activist - again, this would be fine, if we were also getting the story of, for instance, Connie Fogal and CAP, and why they continue to spend so much time fighting when the mainstream media continues to ignore them, even though they seem to speak for so many Canadians ....

Tuesday Sept 16 - the Current - second part - another long segment on May - as somebody said, any PR is good PR, and if the objective is getting May well enough known to get that anti-Harper vote well split up among the Greens, NDP and Libs, they're doing, I would suggest, a very good job. Still haven't heard a word from anyone about SPP, or money supply, even though I have written everyone about Banketeering, it's completely ignored by all the mainstream people who remain firmly in the box comments with 'issues' and commentary etc, same old stuff, nothing important, although they all pretend, of course, to be important and serious

- the whole focus of this show is that Canadian are waaaaaay behind the Americans in using the net for politics - not a word about the role of the media in this, the role of major left wing websites in preventing organising between elections, the role of the mainstream media in marginalising any useful websites, etc. propaganda all the way. Very clever propaganda, but all designed to create the Cdn narrative

- the interviewee jesse brown complains about parties not giving Cdns the info they need - do they not see the 'irony' here???? Isn't it the MEDIA supposed to inform Canadians?!?!? Shouldn't we be talking about the media NOT doing this? Most of my comments to Cdn newspaper 'comment' boards are removed, including the CBC sites - how obvious can it be what you are doing? But that's the Canadian narrative - the media are wonderful people who give Canadians all the information they need - and apparently most Canadians believe this, and will not think about anything the media does not tell them to think about, or have no opinions not sanctioned by the media.

Monday Sept 15 - the Current giving more attention to May and the Greens - a party with no elected MPS, but not a day goes by May is not in the news, or on the radio being interviewed by someone - compare with CAP, who has had not a single word of press, although they speak for things a lot of Canadians care about, that nobody else does .... May getting attention like this would be good if the other minor parties and issues got the same sort of exposure, to let the voters know what was going on in their country. What would happen if the CBC et al gave the same attention to the SPP, or democracy and PR in Canada, or whether or not the Libs and Cons actually care about what Canadians think about the Afghan mission, and etc. Spin spin and spin - they want the vote split, so they give May attention.

Sunday Sept 14 - 09:00 Halifax national news - still at it, this is not even subtle any more, first a story from Quebec about how 'disillusioned' Bloc voters are turning to Harper, and then a quote from Harper about how all other parties have moved to the left, leaving the center for him - complete bullshit, but that is the narrative they are creating for the history books - 'centrist' Harper attracting Canadians and the loser lefties falling behind (actually, obviously, Harper is well to the right, and the NDP pretty centrist, with the Libs kind of center right leaning far right - but we are NOT going to talk about those parties being right wing, or get involved in any discussions about how the NDP actually have policies closer to what most Canadians believe in - the narrative that Canadians are being told to believe is that the Libs and Cons are centrist and represent Canadians, and the NDP are just the lefty fringe. And most Canadians are well enough trained to accept this crap without thinking about it at all, and then voting for the people who are wrecking their country rather than people who want to save it. And they are going to push May more to make sure the anti harper vote is well divided, on cross country checkup today. Apparently I am the only one in the country who has any fucking clue what is going on - how successful the indoctrination has been, and is. God give me a place to get out of this craziness!!!!!!!

Friday Sept 11 - CBC Charlottetown news - 06:30am, still slagging the Libs - the candidate 'tries' to explain the carbon tax (obviously it is 'too difficult' for people to understand, is the CBC narrative of this 'story', and 'trying' indicates that it is too difficult etc) - they get a few interviews with people who say they don't understand it, golly!! poor little simpleton citizen me!! - but none, of course, from people who say it is perfectly clear and no problem - always, always always creating the narrative - this will be in the history books, the carbon tax was too difficult to understand, etc .... then the interview with the candidate, the little CBC reporter saying over and over and over again that he doesn't understand it, cannot find anyone who understands it, 'don't you think this is a hard sell..'? etc and etc - this is way beyond spin, it is outright propaganda .... not a single 'ordinary' person who confirms that it's no big deal, it's easy to understand, etc - just on the message, over and over and over - same game as never talking about any of the few very important things I write letters about (and others, no doubt), and then saying there is nothing important or interesting in Cdn politics or politicians, etc. blatant - and pretty much everyone in the country is so indoctrinated they cannot see it happening ....

- and then in the national news, a long story on Layton and Harper attacking the same Green Plan - so blatant!!!! (one can only figure that the powers that be are determined Dion gets nowhere near being PM, and Layton has been persuaded one way or another to pull a Broadbent, and help Harper get his majority ...) - EVERYTHING they do in relation to the election, or politics, is spin and propaganda - 'reporting' that any journalism school would not allow, the CBC picking a POV, finding a couple of interviews to support it, and no POVs from the other side - utterly amazing, only the most passive citizens could accept this stuff. And apparently most do. Although we will never know how much protest there is in the form of emails etc sent to the CBC or anywhere else, as of course they never print them or acknowledge them. (stuff on message boards is almost irrelevant, as nobody can read them all, and they have a much lower credibility factor than 'real stories by 'real' reporters' etc, but even so, the CBC is not allowing most of my attempts to get people at least aware of Banketeering, and they cut things asking what role the media is playing as well - out of the box stuff, criticizing the media all citizens must trust!!

- right up to the interview with Palin that gets 'reported', as the 'reporter' complains about 'the harsh-faced interviewer' - oh you poor little lady!! big bad man!!! such impartial 'journalism'!!

Thursday Sept 10 - the Current - interviewing Jack Layton, Tremonti on full attack mode, interrupting him, shouting at him, etc, obviously unhappy with what he says, pretty embarrassing .... we shall see later when she does others if she attacks the same way .... (Layton defends himself very well, sounds very good - which evidently upsets Tremonti somewhat, interrupting, aggressive, shouting - reminds me of her getting mad at Barrie Zwicker last year)
- and in the third half hour(!!) they do a profile of a kid they call somebody interested in politics etc - this seems like a good thing, but first, why does one person get this publicity, this endorsement from the official media? It is gatekeeping - this guy is ok is the message, a role model for the listeners, etc. And it is propaganda, in the sense of 'look at ytour great CBC talking about ordinary people that you should know about' - etc. It's good to give this kid some exposure, but he knows little, and this is putting out the idea that he is someone worth listening to on a broader level, when really he is very innocent, and very in the box - so listening to him is to encourage more of the same. Which is what 'they'; want, but which is not good for our future. (also a note on the guy who made the piece - obviously again a 20-something, who thinks he is cutting edge, but would still be in journalism school in a country where we had real journalists) - as always, this is not that offensive in itself, but it's the people they do NOT cover who SHOULD be covered that underlines that this is, in reality, propaganda, and creating the Cdn narrative (this kid will get in the history books as an example of how the media 'reached out' to ordinary Cdns, but there will never be any mention of the issues they do want people thinking about, such as banketeering, or CAP, the SPP, etc., Propaganda, no other way to put it, when you see the full picture from outside the box.)

Kevin O'Connor, Regina, CBC news - a 'prof' talking about how Canadians agree with many things in the American election - obviously a piece as part of 'creating the narrative' - the things they choose to talk about, as opposed to the things they do not ....

- and then in Sounds like Canada - more on how 'boring' the Cdn election is, as opposed to that wonderfully interesting American election - all you folks just go home, sit down at your tv, no point in voting, everything's just boring etc and etc - it gets so frustrating sometimes when I want to be screaming at people about how important this is, but the media that people very mistakenly trust is just putting them to sleep - and how obviously all the politicians are involved in the scam, as May is on talking about cooking, laughing and having a good time - part of the 'nothing here to see folks' game - creating the narrative. We have amazing speakers in Canada, such as Connie Fogal, but they won't let her talk .... the choice of guests on these shows is the same thing - guests who talk about these things, but not the opposite - (and they are sophisticated propagandists - very scripted to make certain points and not talk about others - these people are way ahead of me .....)

Wednesday Sept 10 - hourly news 09:00 Ottawa
derek stofel from Afghan - Teleban has 'ramped up the propaganda' telling Cdns that the new PM better 'withdraw from Kandahar or more troops weill be killed'; - sounds a lot more like CBC proaganda to me, and the dumbed down language the 'reporter' uses - 'ramped up' on the CBC, really, these guys wouldn't even get jobs running messages back and forth when the CBC was real ....

Tuesday Sept 9 - CBC morning news (8:00 Ottawa, Judy Madrin)
slagging China again, Anthony whatever about a prisoner sentenced to death who killed some cops - similar things happen in America all the time, but NEVER does the CBC do anything more than report in a neutral tone of voice, none of this 'look at them damned commies we're just so outraged!!' stuff. The prisoner, he notes '.. says something that must terrify the authorities' - people criticize the US all the time, but NEVER again do we hear anything like this - when people criticize the US government, THEY are in the wrong, when they criticize the Chinese, they are heroes - always so obvious, at least from out here in outside the box land ....

- and on the current, a 'documentary' about Americans moving to Russia during the 30s and winding up in 'Stalin's gulag' - now next week we will wait for a story on the American Japanese that wound up in the American gulag, no doubt, just to be fair, or how the Americans today have the highest prison population in the world, and the most executions, and are violating human rights everywhere by forced labor for corporations, and etc hahaha sure we will, right CBC?? Again, the propaganda is obvious because they always criticize others, but never 'us' or especially the Americans, who are one of the greatest human rights abusers the world has ever known, not that you'd ever figure that out from listening to the CBC or other Canadian media ....

- the guy mentions 'leftists' who went to Russia, gratuitous slagging again .... American 'leftist' press .... lots of talk of Russian / 'leftist' propaganda, never a word about American 'rightist' propaganda, then or now .... talks about reporters of the time not talking about obvious Russian problems - but the CBC or others in Canada never talk about modern American reporters refusing to talk about current problems with the media or anything else to do with 'great America' - the CBC the same - so obviously propaganda by the CBC when you understand the bigger picture - just at a much greater level of sophistication than in earlier times ....

Sunday Sept 6 - the big surprise election announcement! (at least Perry's first question is 'why now?', as if everyone hasn't been talking about this for two weeks. And the 'analyst's' first comment is again to let everybody know that they are supposed to see Dion as a weak leader, as they've been hammering endlessly for the last 18 months. "Is Dion worth the risk??" - interesting that Petty mentions 'the campaign narrative' - which they are already composing - Dion the loser, Layton has no chance to win, Harper is very leader-like. No question which way this one is going - con majority. People of Canada conned bigtime.
Petty's issues - listeria, health care, environment, economy, job losses, energy costs, jobs are safe, Afghanistan,

(note - this was obviously a 'special breaking news!! broadcast' that was long in preparation, with tape clips at the ready etc)

- third hour of Sunday morning - a special on talking about the election, with various guests - isn't it interesting that they could arrange all of this in the 90 minutes or so since the election was actually called!!!! - scripts and all - ...... the narrative is being created, and apparently nobody in the country besides me is aware of it. I suppose there are others, but there's no way we're getting time on the mainstream media.

Sat Sept 5 - the house, election coverage begins, with a look at Dion - hammering hammering as they have been since he was elected - mention 'left of center' crowd in the bit on Dion (let's count the times Harper gets referred to as right wing) -

Friday Sept 4 - Current - leaving Afghanistan Cdn ambassador, on to do his bit to ramp up support for 'the mission', never miss a chance - 'how do you explain what is happening, even though it looks bad?' - blatant 'we're really winning and doing good stuff!!! - and they are really bad, bad guys and we have to keep fighting for truth and justice!!'


'The goal of the Afghan gov is to build a new free Afghanistan - right. led by corrupt warlords.
and etc. deconstruction of the things this interview does NOT talk about could fill pages.
- some obvious scripting as well, to 'address the concerns of Canadians' - the obvious reason for such 'interviews'

- but interview doing a good job of pretending to 'ask the hard questions!!'. right.

The Man Who Stole the Treasury

Congress Sells Out on Bailout

Lawmakers Reach Accord on Huge Financial Rescue
Vote on $700B Bailout Plan May Come as Early as Monday

By Lori Montgomery and Paul Kane
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, September 28, 2008; 3:05 PM

Congressional leaders and the Bush administration this morning said they had struck an accord to insert the government deeply into the nation's financial markets, agreeing to spend up to $700 billion to relieve Wall Street of troubled assets backed by faltering home mortgages.

House and Senate negotiators from both parties emerged with Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. at 12:30 a.m. from a marathon session in the Capitol to announce that they had reached a tentative agreement on a proposal to give Paulson broad authority to organize one of the biggest government interventions in the private sector since the Great Depression.

Congressional aides worked through the night to assemble the package, and hoped to post it to the Internet by midday today. Meanwhile, as preparations were being made for a vote in the House tomorrow morning, the congressional caucuses were preparing their own private huddles to review the proposal. The most critical meeting, among House Republicans, was expected later this afternoon. They have been the most reluctant to support the plan to purchase the securities. House Democrats were likely to meet in mid-afternoon.

"We've made great progress, but we have to commit it to paper before we can formally agree," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who has pledged to make the plan available to the public for at least 24 hours before the House votes on it. A vote could come as early as tomorrow in the House, with the Senate expected to follow soon after.

"We've been working on this a long time. We've still got more to do to finalize it, but I think we're there," Paulson said. "So far, so good."

Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), who represented House Republicans, the group that had raised the most serious objections to the plan, said he was pleased with the progress made but that he had to take the proposal back to his caucus before committing his support for it. "I look forward to what we're going to see on paper and presenting these ideas to my colleagues and getting their reaction," Blunt said.

House Republicans appeared headed for a potentially spirited fight.

The office of House Minority Leader John A. Boehner, without officially endorsing the legislation, put out a series of talking points in the early afternoon outlining the favorable portions of the bill for conservatives.

However, one leading conservative, Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), issued what amounted to a call to arms to fight the bailout.

"The decision to give the federal government the ability to nationalize almost every bad mortgage in America interrupts this basic truth of our free market economy. ... Before you vote, ask yourself why you came here and vote with courage and integrity to those principals. If you came here because you believe in limited government and the freedom of the American marketplace, vote in accordance with those convictions," Pence wrote to House Republicans today.

A senior administration official, who requested anonymity to speak freely about the plan, said both sides had made significant concessions to achieve compromise. The Bush administration has agreed to accept a number of Democratic demands, including:

· The money would be disbursed in segments, with Paulson receiving $250 billion immediately, $100 billion upon White House certification of its necessity and the final $350 billion only after Congress has been given 15 days to object.

· Firms participating in the bailout would be required to grant the government warrants to obtain nonvoting shares of stock, so taxpayers can benefit if the companies return to profitability. Taxpayers also would be first in line to receive repayment if a participating firm fails.

· Firms that receive an infusion of government cash of $300 million or more will be required to limit compensation for senior executives, with especially severe limits on "golden parachutes" at failing firms. For most firms, compensation limits will be enacted primarily through the tax code by reducing tax deductions for firms that pay their top five executives more than $500,000 a year.

The administration also agreed to Democratic demands that the financial services industry should help pay for the program. Under the agreement, the president would be required to propose a fee on the industry if the government has not recovered its money through sales of the assets within five years.

Democrats also made a number of concessions, abandoning demands that bankruptcy judges be empowered to modify home mortgages on primary residences for people in foreclosure. They also agreed not to dedicate a portion of any profits from the bailout program to an affordable housing fund that Republicans claimed would primarily assist social service organizations that support the Democratic Party, the official said.

Meanwhile, House Republicans won a major victory, convincing negotiators to include a provision that would require the Treasury Department to create a a federal insurance program, funded by the banks, that would guarantee banks and other firms against loss from any troubled asset.

According to summaries of the deal released this morning by leaders in both parties, the agreement also calls for strict oversight of the bailout program, including an independent Inspector General and an oversight board appointed by both parties in Congress. The agreement also permits Treasury to purchase bad assets from pension plans, local governments and small banks, as well as major financial firms. And it would permit community banks that hold now worthless stock in mortgage-finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which were seized by the government, to count those losses immedately against ordinary income.

The House was gaveled into session at 1 p.m. today, starting with the usual one-minute speeches before actual legislative business began later in the afternoon. One by one, the most liberal and conservative members took to the well of the House to denounce the bill.

"Hold hearings, let's right this bill well," said Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), a senior member of the Financial Services Committee opposed to the legislation.

"I have been thrown out of more meetings than I thought possible," said Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Tex.), who opposes the bill and was ejected around 8 p.m. last night from a meeting with Paulson he tried to enter in the offices of Boehner (R-Ohio).

Leadership in both parties remained confident, however, that a consensus would form that the legislation would pass, likely with a large majority of Democrats and a sizeable portion of Republicans. Both Republicans and Democrats in the House were scheduled to huddle in closed-door meetings this afternoon to review the proposals. Passage in the Senate is considered much easier.

The plan to rescue the U.S. financial markets was first advanced by the Bush administration in a late-night meeting with lawmakers just 10 days ago. Under the proposal, Paulson would be authorized to purchase mortgage-backed assets from struggling firms in hopes of easing a credit crunch that has pushed global markets to the brink of collapse.

With home prices plummeting, many of those assets are now almost worthless, and investors have lost confidence in many of the firms that hold them. That has undermined some of the biggest names on Wall Street and caused banks to stop lending money, sparking a credit crisis that threatens to deliver a devastating blow to businesses, consumers and the broader economy.

Administration officials have stressed that the ultimate cost of the bailout would be much less than $700 billion because the government would eventually sell the assets it purchased and recover most, if not all, of its investment.

Yesterday's talks, conducted mainly in Pelosi's suite of offices on the second floor of the Capitol, were focused heavily on how to cover the cost of the program so taxpayers don't get stuck with the bill.

"We believe that the taxpayer should not be left holding the bag at the end of the day, and we've proposed a way to address that," said Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), a member of Pelosi's leadership team.

Democrats said there were no outstanding issues remaining, but that negotiators need to see the words on paper before they can sign off on the plan. "It's really a question of seeing what we believe we've agreed to," said Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.), chairman of the Senate Banking Committee.

Even strong opponents of the plan said they expected it to pass.

Sen. Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.), the senior Republican on the Senate Banking Committee, who has refused to participate in the talks, said a "critical mass" was forming behind the measure because of fears that Congress's failure to act would cripple financial markets and devastate the economy.

Yesterday's negotiations, which began shortly after 3 p.m., were at times tense and confusing, according to participants. At one point, according to Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), one senator sought advice from investor Warren E. Buffett, one of the world's richest men and a director of The Washington Post Co.

From 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., Conrad and other lawmakers met with Paulson around a massive table in Pelosi's conference room under an ornate portrait of Abraham Lincoln. Among lawmakers, Democrats outnumbered Republicans nine to two, an imbalance that so irritated Paulson that he called and complained to Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), according to three GOP sources familiar with the call.

Reid told Paulson he would not pull any of his colleagues out of the meeting. A Reid spokesman, Jim Manley, said: "If the secretary doesn't like it, that's just too bad, because he is going to need the help of each and every one of them to sell the president's plan to the Democratic caucus and the American people."

After a break for dinner, the sides scattered into at least three separate groupings -- Paulson huddled in House Minority Leader John A. Boehner's office with other GOP leaders, Democrats in Pelosi's conference room and Pelosi in a separate suite talking with other Democrats.

Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) and Pelosi's chief of staff spent a couple of hours in shuttle diplomacy, frantically walking from room to room carrying sheets of paper. Conrad, the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, said the negotiators were "shopping language" of the bill's draft versions. He and Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, also spent time in Boehner's office with Paulson.

By 11 p.m., the three groups had once again converged in Pelosi's office to strike a final deal.

Yesterday's focus on limiting taxpayer exposure may help rally support in Congress, where lawmakers have been reluctant to back the hugely expensive and unpopular bailout measure less than six weeks from the November elections. But it could unnerve Wall Street, where investors are seeking the largest possible program with the fewest strings attached. They also hope lawmakers approve it before tomorrow's opening bell.

In his public testimony and private remarks, Paulson has repeatedly emphasized the need to spend $700 billion to soothe nervous markets. At that price, the government's upfront investment in the rescue package would be more expensive than the current cost of the Iraq war, which stands at about $650 billion, according to the Congressional Research Service.

But the White House and politicians on Capitol Hill have said the government could earn back much of its money, or even turn a profit.

"Many of these assets still have significant underlying value, because the vast majority of people will eventually pay off their mortgages," President Bush said yesterday in his weekly radio address. "In other words, many of the assets the government would buy are likely to go up in price over time. This means that the government will be able to recoup much, if not all, of the original expenditure."

Bush attempted to address criticisms from the right and left that the plan would bail out irresponsible financiers while doing nothing for regular Americans. Echoing frequent comments by him and his aides, Bush said allowing Wall Street to collapse further would pose greater dangers to the economy, perhaps triggering a "deep and painful recession."

"The rescue effort we're negotiating is not aimed at Wall Street -- it is aimed at your street," Bush said. "And there is now widespread agreement on the major principles. We must free up the flow of credit to consumers and businesses by reducing the risk posed by troubled assets."

Democratic leaders have emphasized to rank-and-file members that Paulson has told them that he could only spend about $50 billion a month on the securities purchase program. Of the $700 billion figure, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said: "Nobody believes that's going to be the final cost."

Staff writer Dan Eggen contributed to this report.