Thursday, April 30, 2009

Swine-flu Outbreak Could Be Linked To Smithfield Factory Farms



A flu strain—a nasty mash-up of swine, avian, and human viruses—has infected 1,000 people in Mexico and the U.S., killing 68. The World Health Organization warned Saturday that the outbreak could reach global pandemic levels.

Is Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest pork packer and hog producer, linked to the outbreak? Smithfield operates massive hog-raising operations Perote, Mexico, in the state of Vera Cruz, where the outbreak originated. The operations, grouped under a Smithfield subsidiary called Granjas Carroll, raise 950,000 hogs per year, according to the company Web site.

On Friday, the U.S. disease-tracking blog Biosurveillance published a timeline of the outbreak containing this nugget, dated April 6 (major tip of the hat to Paula Hay, who alerted me to the Smithfield link on the Comfood listserv and has written about it on her blog, Peak Oil Entrepreneur):

Residents [of Perote] believed the outbreak had been caused by contamination from pig breeding farms located in the area. They believed that the farms, operated by Granjas Carroll, polluted the atmosphere and local water bodies, which in turn led to the disease outbreak. According to residents, the company denied responsibility for the outbreak and attributed the cases to “flu.” However, a municipal health official stated that preliminary investigations indicated that the disease vector was a type of fly that reproduces in pig waste and that the outbreak was linked to the pig farms. It was unclear whether health officials had identified a suspected pathogen responsible for this outbreak.

From what I can tell, the possible link to Smithfield has not been reported in the U.S. press. Searches of Google News and the websites of the New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal all came up empty. The link is being made in the Mexican media, however. “Granjas Carroll, causa de epidemia en La Gloria,” declared a headline in the Vera Cruz-based paper La Marcha. No need to translate that, except to point out that La Gloria is the village where the outbreak seems to have started. Judging from the article, Mexican authorities treat hog CAFOs with just as much if not more indulgence than their peers north of the border, to the detriment of surrounding communities and the general public health. Get this:

De acuerdo con uno de los habitantes de la comunidad, Eli Ferrer Cortés, los desechos fecales y orgánicos que produce Granjas Carroll no son tratados adecuadamente, lo que genera contaminación del agua y del viento en la region.

My rough translation: According to one community resident, the organic and fecal waste produced by Granjas Carrol isn’t adequately treated, creating water and air pollution in the region. I witnessed—and smelled—the same thing in Hardin County, Iowa, a couple of years ago, another area marked by intensive industrial hog production. The article goes on to say that area residents have long complained of “fetid odors” in the air and water, and swarms of flies hovering around waste lagoons. Like their counterparts who live in CAFO-heavy U.S. areas, they also complain of respiratory ailments. Now, with 30 percent of the area’s residents now infected with the virulent flu bug, people are demanding that state and federal authorities inspect hog operations there. So far, reports La Marcha, the response has been: nada.

The Mexico City daily La Jornada has also made the link. According to the newspaper, the Mexican health agency IMSS has acknowledged that the orginal carrier for the flu could be the “clouds of flies” that multiply in the Smithfield subsidiary’s manure lagoons.

I’ll be in touch with contacts in Mexico as this story develops —and I’ll be curious to see whether the U.S. media explores the link with Smithfield’s Mexico operation.

Grist food editor Tom Philpott farms and cooks at Maverick Farms, a sustainable-agriculture nonprofit and small farm in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Bloggers Examine Environmental Role in Mexico Swine Flu Outbreak

As the Swine Flu outbreak spreads from Mexico across the border to the US, bloggers are asking questions about the possible links between the outbreak of this new influenza strain and industrial hog production in Mexico. At present, the Mexican authorities are reporting that 81 people may have died following infection and over 1300 people have been admitted to hospitals for testing. 11 people in the US have been infected with the new H1N1 strain, which shares genetic material from human, avian and swine influenza viruses.

At present, mainstream news sources are focusing on reporting possible new cases (in UK, NZ) and reporting on statements from the WHO and the CDC, but have paid little attention to the source of the outbreak. Bloggers, however, are already exploring the links between Mexico's industrial hog production industry - Smithfield Foods in particular - and the emergence of the new viral strain.

Mexico accounted for 1.6% of the world pig stocks in 2007 - that's 15.5 million pigs. The largest hog producer in the world, Smithfield Foods owns two subsidiaries in Mexico, Norson and Granjas Carroll de México, which produced 467,000 and 950,000 hogs respectively in the 2008 fiscal year.

The second of these subsidiaries, Granjas Carroll de México, is based Perote in Vera Cruz state where the outbreak originated. Biosurveillance, which has produced this timeline of the outbreak, reported the following from local residents:

Residents believed the outbreak had been caused by contamination from pig breeding farms located in the area. They believed that the farms, operated by Granjas Carroll, polluted the atmosphere and local water bodies, which in turn led to the disease outbreak. According to residents, the company denied responsibility for the outbreak and attributed the cases to "flu." However, a municipal health official stated that preliminary investigations indicated that the disease vector was a type of fly that reproduces in pig waste and that the outbreak was linked to the pig farms. It was unclear whether health officials had identified a suspected pathogen responsible for this outbreak.

Tom Philpott at Grist has linked this to reporting in the Vera Cruz-based newspaper La Marcha that blames Granjos Carroll for the outbreak, highlighting inadequate treatment of massive quantities of animal waste from hog production. Paula Crossfield at Civil Eats, and Paula Hay at Peak Oil Entrepreneur are raising the same questions, and asking why the mainstream media isn't exploring the CAFO connection with Smithfield's Mexican operations.

At the Huffington Post, David Kirby reports that CDC and USDA officials will likely investigate industrial hog operations as soon as they arrive in Mexico to investigate the sources of the outbreak. Kirby's piece reports on researchers' concerns that large-scale indoor animal production facilities have become breeding grounds for existing and emergent viral pathogens, including E. Coli, Salmonella and MRSA.

We know that hog workers in Europe and North America are far more likely than others to be infected with potentially lethal pathogens such as MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), drug-resistant E. coli and Salmonella, and of course, swine influenza. Many scientists also believe that people who work inside CAFOs are more at risk of contracting and spreading these and other "zoonotic" diseases than those working in smaller-scale operations, with outdoor pens or pasture and far lower animal density.

But until now, hog workers with swine flu have rarely gone on to infect other people, save for close family members. And that is why this new strain of swine influenza virus is so vexing - and alarming. It seems to spread quite easily through casual human contact. (Huffington Post)

I'm sure we will hear more on this shortly, as officials start to investigate the source of this outbreak. More questions are bound to asked about whether we can afford the risk to human health presented by industrial farm animal production. For more on these risks of , check out this comprehensive report from the Pew Commission.

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Ugly Truth

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A Meditation on Our Monetary System: State of Permanent Siege

THE LEVEL OF PUBLIC IGNORANCE on the topic of the U.S. and world monetary system is astonishing. This is part of the plan, of course, because the monetary elite control not only the financial system but also the news media, the publishing industry, and the educational system. The blueprint for control was put together over a century ago by Cecil Rhodes and his friends, including British financier Nathan Rothschild, as documented by Professor Carroll Quigley.

During the 20th Century the power shifted to the U.S., with the Rockefellers playing the dominant role as they continue to do today. It is no accident that J.P. Morgan Chase—the Rockefeller family bank—dominates the U.S. derivatives market; nor that Exxon-Mobil, the Rockefellers’ oil company, is the most profitable corporation in history.

The basic plan was to place all of mankind in a state of permanent mental and emotional siege so that in the end we would trade all our liberties to the controllers in return for protection; even freedom of thought would be traded for physical safety. That plan is well advanced. The sheeple have been prepared for the final shearing.

Meanwhile, every attempt at real reform has been strangled in the cradle. Past voices for monetary sanity like those of Congressmen Louis McFadden and Jerry Voorhis were silenced. Starting in the 1970s, functionaries like Kissinger, Brzezinski, and Volcker carried out David Rockefeller’s plan to outsource manufacturing to China and eliminate the U.S. as the world’s greatest industrial democracy, replacing it with a financier oligarchy.

Barack Obama obviously works mainly for the financiers, as did Bill Clinton before him. The job of the Democrats is to keep the sheeple quiet by now and then implementing some “reforms”; the Republicans were a more blatant gang of looters.

During the 2008 election campaign, Ron Paul called for the end of the Federal Reserve, the bastion of financier control, but no one effectively organized the millions of people who responded to his call or had a viable plan to put in place. Barack Obama obviously works mainly for the financiers, as did Bill Clinton before him. The job of the Democrats is to keep the sheeple quiet by now and then implementing some “reforms”; the Republicans were a more blatant gang of looters.

With the financial crash of 2008-2009, the noose is tightening everywhere in the world. The International Monetary Fund is announcing, “The current global recession is likely to be ‘unusually long and severe, and the recovery sluggish.’” (BBC News, “IMF Sees Long and Severe Slowdown,” April 16, 2009.) In reality, as the IMF knows, it would be possible to put every nation in the world on the road to recovery by allowing them to prime the economic pump through sovereign control of their own monetary systems, with freedom to utilize their own natural resources.

The IMF announcement is in fact the start of a worldwide program of genocide similar to what was done to Russia in the 1990s, with crushing poverty, slashing of incomes, reduction of benefits for the poor and elderly, rising levels of disease and malnutrition, and reduction of life expectancy. We in the West will view the carnage with alarm from our own stripped-down economies but remain docile out of fear the same will be done to us.

Awareness of the hideous evil of the financiers’ plans to destroy the soul of humanity is growing. This is being accomplished through the internet and the work of a number of writers who understand what is at stake. I doubt this channel of expression will be available indefinitely. Already alternative websites are being isolated and marginalized. But the fight must be waged.

The one organization that has a program which is comprehensive and free from outside influence is the American Monetary Institute, which has drafted the American Monetary Act. If the Act is introduced in Congress, it will be imperative for it to be recognized and supported as the one chance to save our nation from the dark night that is threatening. But even progressive writers shrink from taking on the Monetary Power, with many of them putting forth the absurdity that all we need to do is reform the banking system.

The American Monetary Act has been in process since 2003. It may be found on the AMI website at: http://www.monetary.org/amacolorpamphlet.pdf. AMI will conduct a presentation on the Act on Capitol Hill, April 23, 2009, in Room 304 of the Cannon House Office Building. Presentations will take place at 10:00 AM and at 2:00 PM.

At the same time, groups of relatively conscious people can come together on their own to create refuges of sanity until the danger passes–over a period of years, decades, or even generations. And, to look at it from a spiritual perspective, we can hope that the Higher Powers who observe humanity’s destiny refuse to allow our particular experiment in consciousness to be obliterated.

Destruction of human consciousness is the real goal of the financiers and their minions. It is lies above all that do this. The financiers’ power is the biggest lie of all.

Richard C. Cook is a retired federal analyst who writes today on economic, political, and spiritual matters. His books and videos are available through his website at www.richardccook.com. He recently released his six-part video series: Credit as a Public Utility: the Solution to the Economic Crisis.

*The phrase “permanent siege” is from Thomas Pynchon’s novel “Against the Day.” Set at the end of the 19th Century, the novel describes the dynamics and strategy of the future totalitarian regimes of the approaching 20th century–i.e., a state of “permanent siege.”

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Police State: Pastor Beaten



We live in a police state, period.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Monday, April 13, 2009

Iraq in Fragments


April 12th, 2009 | Foreign Policy In Focus

“[W]hat lengths men will go in order to carry out, to their extreme limit, the rites of a collective self-worship which fills them with a sense of righteousness and complacent satisfaction in the midst of the most shocking injustices and crimes.”
-Love and Living, by Thomas Merton














On Wednesday, March 25, Major General David Perkins of the U.S. military, referring to how often the U.S. military was being attacked in Iraq, told reporters in Baghdad, “Attacks are at their lowest since August 2003.” Perkins added, “There were 1,250 attacks a week at the height of the violence; now sometimes there are less than 100 a week.”


While his rhetoric made headlines in some U.S. mainstream media outlets, it was little consolation for the families of 28 Iraqis killed in attacks across Iraq the following day. Nor did it bring solace to the relatives of the 27 Iraqis slain in a March 23 suicide attack, or those who survived a bomb attack at a bus terminal in Baghdad on the same day that killed nine Iraqis.

Having recently returned from Iraq, I experienced living in Baghdad where people were dying violent deaths on a daily basis. Nearly every day of the month I spent there saw a car bomb attack somewhere in the capital city. Nearly every day the so-called Green Zone was mortared. Every day there were kidnappings. On good days there were four hours of electricity on the national grid, in a country now into its seventh year of being occupied by the U.S. military, and where there are now over 200,000 private contractors.

Upon returning home, I experienced the disconnect between that reality, lived by roughly 25 million Iraqis, and the surreal experience of living in the United States — where most media pretend the occupation of Iraq is either not happening, or uses the yardstick of decreased U.S. military personnel deaths in Iraq as a measure of success. In the words of Major General Perkins, “If you take a look at military deaths, which is an indicator of violence and lethality out there, U.S. combat deaths are at their lowest levels since the war began six years ago.” But it’s a less useful metric when one looks at the broader picture inside of Iraq: the ongoing daily slaughter of Iraqis, the near total lack of functional infrastructure, the fact that one in six Iraqis remains displaced from their homes, or that at least 1.2 million Iraqis have died as a result of the U.S.-led invasion and occupation of their country.

Seventy-two months of occupation, with over $607 billion spent on the war (by conservative estimates), has resulted in 2.2 million internally displaced Iraqis, 2.7 million refugees, 2,615 professors, scientists, and doctors killed in cold blood, and 338 dead journalists. Over $13 billion was misplaced by the current Iraqi government, and another $400 billion is required to rebuild the Iraqi infrastructure. Unemployment vacillates between 25-70%, depending on the month. There are 24 car bombs per month, 10,000 cases of cholera per year, 4,261 dead U.S. soldiers, and over 70,000 physically or psychologically wounded soldiers.



There’s no normal life in Baghdad. While it’s accurate and technically correct to say there is less violence compared to 2006, when between 100 and 300 Iraqis were slaughtered on a daily basis, Iraq resembles a police state more than ever. U.S. patrols consisting of huge, lumbering mine-resistant vehicles rumble down streets congested with traffic. It’s impossible to travel longer than five minutes without encountering an Iraqi military or police patrol — usually comprised of pickup trucks full of armed men, horns and/or sirens blaring. Begging women and children wander between cars at every intersection. U.S. military helicopters often rumble overhead, and the roar of fighter jets or transport planes is common. There’s no talk of reparations for Iraqis for the death, destruction and chaos caused by the occupation.

Neighborhoods, segregated between Sunni and Shia largely as a result of the so-called “surge” strategy, provide a blatant view of the balkanization of Iraq. Neighborhoods of 300,000 people are completely surrounded by 10-foot high concrete blast walls, rendering normal life impossible. The fear of a resurgence of violence weighs heavy on Iraqis, as the current so-called lull in violence feels tenuous, unstable, and possibly fleeting. Nobody there can predict the future, and to hope for a sustained improvement in any aspect of life feels naïve, even dangerous.

The title of the film “Iraq in Fragments” by James Longley, which was nominated for Best Documentary Oscar at the 2007 Academy Awards, best describes Iraq today. The country has been destroyed by decades of U.S. policy that has plagued Iraqis. Looking back only to 1980, we see the U.S. government supporting both Iraq and Iran during their horrible eight-year war. In 1991 we see George H. W. Bush’s war against Iraq, and his, Bill Clinton’s, and George W. Bush’s oversight of 12-and-a-half years of genocidal economic sanctions that killed half a million Iraqi children. Today, under President Barack Obama, what is left of Iraq smolders in ruins, with no real end of the occupation in sight.

All of the recent talk of withdrawal from Iraq is empty rhetoric indeed to most Iraqis, who see the giant “enduring” U.S. military bases spread across their country, or the U.S. “embassy,” the size of the Vatican City, in Baghdad. The gulf between the rhetoric of withdrawal and the reality on the ground spans the distance between Iraq and the United States, while the reality is pressed in the face of the Iraqi people each day the occupation continues.

Dahr Jamail has reported from inside Iraq and is the author of Beyond the Green Zone. He writes for Inter Press Service, The Asia Times, and is a contributor to Foreign Policy In Focus.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

What If America Knew The Truth?

Yes, if we all knew the truth... but we do, don't we...


Friday, April 10, 2009

"Solution" to the Financial Crisis: Game Theory Exposes PPIP As Fraudulent



Game theory tells us that a risk neutral gambler would pay $50 dollars for a coin flip that paid $0 for Heads and $100 for Tails. Game theorists would call $50 the value of the bet.

Suppose someone is willing to fund your gambling problem, and lend you $80 at zero interest. Better still, if you lose the bet you don’t have to pay him back. Under that scenario, the same gambler would pay $90 for the bet, giving him an even chance of winning or losing $10.

This is a microcosm of what the Public-Private Investment Program (PPIP) is intended to do: create an incentive for investors to pay $90 for a bet that is only worth $50. It is bad economics and bad public policy and it is probably fraudulent. Congress should act pre-emptively to halt Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner’s latest scheme.

In the gaming example above the lender has a bet where he gets $80 or zero with equal odds. The value of that bet is $40. Since he paid $80 for it, he has an expected loss of $40. The PPIP puts the taxpayer, via the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, in a similar position. The details are only slightly more complicated. A full analysis would include the diversity in the pools of loans, the interest rate charged by the lender, and the opportunity cost to the lender for a similarly risky bet.

We don’t have enough information from the FDIC about what it intends to charge for the 84% of the PPIP it is guaranteeing and we don’t know the exact mix of assets. But once these are revealed, the analysis becomes straightforward, and the expected loss to the FDIC can be estimated with a reasonable degree of certainty.

Why is this particularly interesting? Many commentators have pointed out the obvious: that the PPIP is another welfare program for the big banks, funded by the taxpayer.

It is interesting because the legislation governing the FDIC does not allow it to take expected losses above its capital base, and that capital base is now just $30 billion. Against a $500 billion PPIP, it only requires a 6% overpayment to wipe out the FDIC’s capital.

The New York Times’ Andrew Ross Sorkin pressed the FDIC’s Shelia Bair on this point and she apparently claimed that the accountants “signed off on no net losses.” But we are now in zero sum territory. There are only the assets, the banks, and the government. The windfall to the banks is offset by the expected loss to the government. Convincing one’s accountants that a transaction with a high expected loss has no expected loss is fraud.

Here is where the over-engineered PPIP begins to raise troubling questions. Recall that in the initial announcement of the PPIP in March, Geithner made much of the auction process that would be used to price the assets. This auction, where five of the top asset managers in the country would bid against each other, was meant to ensure the fairness of the process.

In his Wall Street Journal editorial announcing the program on May 23, Geithner assured us that “private-sector purchasers will establish the value of the loans and securities purchased under the program, which will protect the government from overpaying for these assets.”

One suspects that the accountants for the FDIC were convinced that the loans would be purchased at a fair price because they would be sold through an auction mechanism. But if every bidder in the auction has the same incentive to overbid, it is no longer a fair auction. A naïve accountant might equate “auction” with “fair” and ignore the distortion built in to the process.

Jeffrey Sachs did a fine job pointing out that the incentive is actually to massively overbid, and perhaps even collude. Paul Krugman pointed out that the plan is a “disguised way to subsidize purchases of bad assets.” Josef Stiglitz commented that Geithner’s plan “only works if the taxpayer loses big time.”

Against Sachs, Krugman and Stiglitz, in a straightforward exercise in game theory, who is on the side of government accountants?

“No net losses?” The most likely outcome for PPIP is expected losses to the FDIC. In fact, game theory can be used to predict what the expected losses will be. One simply has to work the game backwards. Once we know the clearing price of the auction, we can calculate how much the government overpaid.

In our example above, if we know the auction cleared at $90, we can demonstrate the fair price was $50. If the auction cleared at $85, the fair price was $25. It’s a form of price discovery, but probably not what Geithner had in mind.

It is disturbing that the Treasury Secretary’s long awaited plan to solve the toxic assets dilemma relies on an overly contrived scheme to obscure its risk to the taxpayer. Either the disguise is intentional or it has not occurred to the Secretary that the plan jeopardizes the soundness of the FDIC. Neither answer is acceptable.

Mr. Keller, former head of structured products at UBS, now runs a micro-finance enterprise in Peru. He can be reached at jwkellerjr@gmail.com

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Wake The Fuck Up!!

America is devolving into a third-world nation. And if we do not immediately halt our elite’s rapacious looting of the public treasury we will be left with trillions in debts, which can never be repaid, and widespread human misery which we will be helpless to ameliorate. Our anemic democracy will be replaced with a robust national police state. The elite will withdraw into heavily guarded gated communities where they will have access to security, goods and services that cannot be afforded by the rest of us. Tens of millions of people, brutally controlled, will live in perpetual poverty. This is the inevitable result of unchecked corporate capitalism. The stimulus and bailout plans are not about saving us. They are about saving them. We can resist, which means street protests, disruptions of the system and demonstrations, or become serfs, slaves to the system.

We have been in a steady economic decline for decades. The Canadian political philosopher John Ralston Saul detailed this decline in his 1992 book “Voltaire’s Bastards: The Dictatorship of Reason in the West.” David Cay Johnston exposed the mirage and rot of American capitalism in “Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (and Stick You With the Bill),” and David C. Korten, in “When Corporations Rule the World” and “Agenda for a New Economy,” laid out corporate malfeasance and abuse. But our universities and mass media, entranced by power and naively believing that global capitalism was an unstoppable force of nature, rarely asked the right questions or gave a prominent voice to those who did. Our elites hid their incompetence and loss of control behind an arrogant facade of specialized jargon and obscure economic theories.

The lies employed to camouflage the economic decline are legion. President Ronald Reagan included 1.5 million U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine service personnel with the civilian work force to magically reduce the nation’s unemployment rate by 2 percent. President Bill Clinton decided that those who had given up looking for work, or those who wanted full-time jobs but could only find part-time employment, were no longer to be counted as unemployed. This trick disappeared some 5 million unemployed from the official unemployment rolls. If you work more than 21 hours a week—most low-wage workers at places like Wal-Mart average 28 hours a week—you are counted as employed, although your real wages put you below the poverty line. Our actual unemployment rate, when you include those who have stopped looking for work and those who can only find part-time jobs, is not 8.5 percent but 15 percent. A sixth of the country is now effectively unemployed. And we are shedding jobs at a faster rate than in the months after the 1929 crash.

The consumer price index, used by the government to measure inflation, is meaningless. To keep the official inflation figures low the government has been substituting basic products it once measured to check for inflation with ones that do not rise very much in price. This sleight of hand has kept the cost-of-living increases tied to the CPI artificially low. The New York Times’ consumer reporter, W.P. Dunleavy, wrote that her groceries now cost $587 a month, up from $400 a year earlier. This is a 40 percent increase. California economist John Williams, who runs an organization called Shadow Statistics, contends that if Washington still used the CPI measurements applied back in the 1970s, inflation would be 10 percent.

The corporate state, and the political and intellectual class that served the corporate state, constructed a financial and political system based on illusions. Corporations engaged in pyramid lending that created fictitious assets. These fictitious assets became collateral for more bank lending. The elite skimmed off hundreds of millions in bonuses, commissions and salaries from this fictitious wealth. Politicians, who dutifully served corporate interests rather than those of citizens, were showered with campaign contributions and given lucrative jobs when they left office. Universities, knowing it was not good business to challenge corporatism, muted any voices of conscience while they went begging for corporate donations and grants. Deceptive loans and credit card debt fueled the binges of a consumer society and hid falling wages and the loss of manufacturing jobs.

The Obama administration, rather than chart a new course, is intent on re-inflating the bubble. The trillions of dollars of government funds being spent to sustain these corrupt corporations could have renovated our economy. We could have saved tens of millions of Americans from poverty. The government could have, as consumer activist Ralph Nader has pointed out, started 10 new banks with $35 billion each and a 10-to-1 leverage to open credit markets. Vast, unimaginable sums are being placed into these dirty corporate hands without oversight. And they will use this money as they always have—to enrich themselves at our expense.

“You are going to see the biggest waste, fraud and abuse in American history,” Nader warned when I asked about the bailouts. “Not only is it wrongly directed, not only does it deal with the perpetrators instead of the people who were victimized, but they don’t have a delivery system of any honesty and efficiency. The Justice Department is overwhelmed. It doesn’t have a tenth of the prosecutors, the investigators, the auditors, the attorneys needed to deal with the previous corporate crime wave before the bailout started last September. It is especially unable to deal with the rapacious ravaging of this new money by these corporate recipients. You can see it already. The corporations haven’t lent it. They have used some of it for acquisitions or to preserve their bonuses or their dividends. As long as they know they are not going to jail, and they don’t see many newspaper reports about their colleagues going to jail, they don’t care. It is total impunity. If they quit, they quit with a golden parachute. Even [General Motors CEO Rick] Wagoner is taking away $21 million.”

There are a handful of former executives who have conceded that the bailouts are a waste. American International Group Inc.‘s former chairman, Maurice R. Greenberg, told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Thursday that the effort to prop up the firm with $170 billion has “failed.” He said the company should be restructured. AIG, he said, would have been better off filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection instead of seeking government help.

“These are signs of hyper decay,” Nader said from his office in Washington. “You spend this kind of money and do not know if it will work.”

“Bankrupt corporate capitalism is on its way to bankrupting the socialism that is trying to save it,” Nader added. “That is the end stage. If they no longer have socialism to save them then we are into feudalism. We are into private police, gated communities and serfs with a 21st century nomenclature.”

We will not be able to raise another 3 or 4 trillion dollars, especially with our commitments now totaling some $12 trillion, to fix the mess. It was only a couple of months ago that our expenditures totaled $9 trillion. And it was not long ago that such profligate government spending was unthinkable. There was an $800 billion limit placed on the Federal Reserve a year ago. The economic stimulus and the bailouts will not bring back our casino capitalism. And as the meltdown shows no signs of abating, and the bailouts show no sign of working, the recklessness and desperation of our capitalist overlords have increased. The cost, to the working and middle class, is becoming unsustainable. The Fed reported in March that households lost $5.1 trillion, or 9 percent, of their wealth in the last three months of 2008, the most ever in a single quarter in the 57-year history of record keeping by the central bank. For the full year, household wealth dropped $11.1 trillion, or about 18 percent. These figures did not record the decline of investments in the stock market, which has probably erased trillions more in the country’s collective net worth.

The bullet to our head, inevitable if we do not radically alter course, will be sudden. We have been borrowing at the rate of more than $2 billion a day over the last 10 years, and at some point it has to stop. The moment China, the oil-rich states and other international investors stop buying treasury bonds the dollar will become junk. Inflation will rocket upward. We will become Weimar Germany. A furious and sustained backlash by a betrayed and angry populace, one unprepared intellectually and psychologically for collapse, will sweep aside the Democrats and most of the Republicans. A cabal of proto-fascist misfits, from Christian demagogues to simpletons like Sarah Palin to loudmouth talk show hosts, who we naively dismiss as buffoons, will find a following with promises of revenge and moral renewal. The elites, the ones with their Harvard Business School degrees and expensive vocabularies, will retreat into their sheltered enclaves of privilege and comfort. We will be left bereft and abandoned outside the gates.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

21st Century Internment Camps




On January 22, 2009,
the National Emergency Centers Establishment Act (NECEA) [1] was submitted to Congress for consideration. It was introduced by Congressman Alcee L. Hastings of Florida, a man who, in 1989, became only the sixth federal judge in the history of America to be removed from office by the Senate for corruption and perjury.

Bank of America To Check Customer's Dental Records




Today, Bank of America announced several new and innovative ways to fatten their bottom line, announced their president, Ken Lewis.

"We in the financial services industry are proud to announce that instead of taking in more and more of your tax dollars, courtesy of our hos and bitches in your Congress and the trillions of dollars in interest free loans we've got from our good buddies at the Federal Reserve, will now start checking our customer dental records to see if they have gold fillings," said Lewis.

"Those that do, will get an up close and personal visit from one of our CSR's--Customer Service Reps--most of whom flunked out of Dental School. But these CSR's have the talent needed to extract your gold teeth with the minimum amount of pain."
"We'll give those lucky customers some BoA script, which is good at any BoA facility in North America where they can buy coffee cups or toasters."

Another tried but true way of extracting the most out of their customers is to jack up the credit card interest rate, said the BoA president.
"We send those fools, uhh, our cherished customers five pages of legalese crap so thick and impenetrable that it would take 3 Harvard MBA's several hours to decipher that load and we at BoA know that no one can afford that kind of financial advice, so we just sink our fangs into those fools that much deeper."


"Some that do contact BoA and ask why their getting penalized for being a good customer, we just tell them.." At this point, Lewis is laughing so hard, he can't talk.. "We just tell them it's because of economic conditions," said Lewis, "Conditions which we created thru our MBS schemes and CDO toxic slop, which the taxpayers are getting billed for, while we pay ourselves hundreds of millions of dollars in bonuses," Lewis stated

At this point, Lewis had to sit down, as he was laughing so hard, he was in danger of fainting.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Massive Cover-Up of Economic Crisis



“The Entire Strategy Is to Keep People from Getting the Facts”

William K. Black was the senior regulator during the Savings and Loans (S&L) crisis, and an Associate Professor of Economics and Law at the University of Missouri (bio).

Black says that massive fraud is what caused the economic crisis. As one example, he explains that everyone involved knew that the CDOs which packaged subprime loans were not AAA credit-worthy (which means that they are completely risk-free). He also said that the exotic instruments (CDOs, CDS, etc.) which spun the mortgages into more and more abstract investments were intentionally created to defraud investors.

Moreover, Black says that the government's entire strategy in dealing with the economic crisis is a massive cover-up:

[They] don't want to change the bankers, because if we do, if we put honest people in, who didn't cause the problem, their first job would be to find the scope of the problem. And that would destroy the cover up....

Geithner is ... covering up. Just like Paulson did before him....

These are all people who have failed. Paulson failed, Geithner failed. They were all promoted because they failed....

Until you get the facts, it's harder to blow all this up. And, of course, the entire strategy is to keep people from getting the facts....

[Question] Are you saying that Timothy Geithner, the Secretary of the Treasury, and others in the administration, with the banks, are engaged in a cover up to keep us from knowing what went wrong?

[Black] Absolutely....

They're deliberately leaving in place the people that caused the problem, because they don't want the facts. And this is not new. The Reagan Administration's central priority, at all times, during the Savings and Loan crisis, was covering up the losses.

[Question] So, you're saying that people in power, political power, and financial power, act in concert when their own behinds are in the ringer, right?

That's right. And it's particularly a crisis that brings this out, because then the class of the banker says, "You've got to keep the information away from the public or everything will collapse."

That's the fucking truth in a nutshell. The very rich, the elite, are butt fucking America and laughing all the way home from the banks they own.

by Ben Dover


Saturday, April 4, 2009

Active Thermitic Material Discovered in Dust from the 9/11 World Trade Center Catastrophe




Below is the Abstract, Introduction and Conclusions of this important and carefully researched article

The complete article can be downloaded (pdf)


Active Thermitic Material Discovered in Dust from the 9/11 World Trade Center Catastrophe

pp.7-31 (25)

Authors: Niels H. Harrit, Jeffrey Farrer, Steven E. Jones, Kevin R. Ryan, Frank M. Legge, Daniel Farnsworth, Gregg Roberts, James R. Gourley, Bradley R. Larsen

The Open Chemical Physics Journal

Volume 2

ISSN: 1874-4125

doi: 10.2174/1874412500902010007

Complete Article

http://www.bentham-open.org/pages/content.php?TOCPJ/2009/00000002/00000001/7TOCPJ.SGM


Abstract:

We have discovered distinctive red/gray chips in all the samples we have studied of the dust produced by the destruction of the World Trade Center. Examination of four of these samples, collected from separate sites, is reported in this paper. These red/gray chips show marked similarities in all four samples. One sample was collected by a Manhattan resident about ten minutes after the collapse of the second WTC Tower, two the next day, and a fourth about a week later. The properties of these chips were analyzed using optical microscopy, scanning electron microscopy (SEM), X-ray energy dispersive spectroscopy (XEDS), and differential scanning calorimetry (DSC). The red material contains grains approximately 100 nm across which are largely iron oxide, while aluminum is contained in tiny plate-like structures. Separation of components using methyl ethyl ketone demonstrated that elemental aluminum is present. The iron oxide and aluminum are intimately mixed in the red material. When ignited in a DSC device the chips exhibit large but narrow exotherms occurring at approximately 430 °C, far below the normal ignition temperature for conventional thermite. Numerous iron-rich spheres are clearly observed in the residue following the ignition of these peculiar red/gray chips. The red portion of these chips is found to be an unreacted thermitic material and highly energetic.

Global Research Editor's Note

The definition of thermitic material:

A trademark used for a welding and incendiary mixture of fine aluminum powder with a metallic oxide, usually iron, that when ignited yields an intense heat.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2003. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

Thermite is a pyrotechnic composition of a metal powder and a metal oxide, which produces an aluminothermic reaction known as a thermite reaction. (Wikipedia)

What we are dealing with is the melting/ burning of metal structures.

“Metals are capable of burning under the right conditions, similarly to the combustion process of wood or gasoline. ... A thermite reaction is a process in which the correct mixture of metallic fuels are combined and ignited. Ignition itself requires extremely high temperatures.”

Readers can reach their own conclusions as to the far-reaching implications of these findings.

Although the authors do not address the broader issue of the 9/11 attacks, their findings have a direct bearing on the likely causes of the collapse of the WTC buildings on September 11, 2001. The findings also question the validity of the official report of the 911 Commission.

Below are selected excerpts of the article. Readers can also link to the complete text, by clicking the link

Complete Article

http://www.bentham-open.org/pages/content.php?TOCPJ/2009/00000002/00000001/7TOCPJ.SGM


EXCERPTS

INTRODUCTION

The destruction of three skyscrapers (WTC 1, 2 and 7) on September 11, 2001 was an immensely tragic catastrophe that not only impacted thousands of people and families directly, due to injury and loss of life, but also provided the motivation for numerous expensive and radical changes in domestic and foreign policy. For these and other reasons, knowing what really happened that fateful day is of grave importance.

A great deal of effort has been put forth by various government-sponsored and -funded investigations, which led, in large part, to the reports released by FEMA [1] and NIST [2]. Other studies of the destruction have been less well publicized but are no less important to the outstanding obligation that remains to the victims of that tragedy, to determine the whole truth of the events of that day [3-10]. A number of these studies have appropriately focused attention on the remaining physical material, and on available photographs and video footage, as sources of evidence still in public hands, relating to the method of destruction of the three skyscrapers.

CONCLUSIONS

We have discovered distinctive red/gray chips in significant numbers in dust associated with the World Trade Center destruction. We have applied SEM/XEDS and other methods to characterize the small-scale structure and chemical signature of these chips, especially of their red component. The red material is most interesting and has the following characteristics:

1. It is composed of aluminum, iron, oxygen, silicon and carbon. Lesser amounts of other potentially reactive elements are sometimes present, such as potassium, sulfur, lead, barium and copper.

2. The primary elements (Al, Fe, O, Si, C) are typically all present in particles at the scale of tens to hundreds of nanometers, and detailed XEDS mapping shows intimate mixing.

3. On treatment with methyl ethyl ketone solvent, some segregation of components occurred. Elemental aluminum became sufficiently concentrated to be clearly identified in the pre-ignition material.

4. Iron oxide appears in faceted grains roughly 100 nm across whereas the aluminum appears in thin platelike structures. The small size of the iron oxide particles qualifies the material to be characterized as nanothermite or super-thermite.

5. Analysis shows that iron and oxygen are present in a ratio consistent with Fe2O3. The red material in all four WTC dust samples was similar in this way. Iron oxide was found in the pre-ignition material whereas elemental iron was not.

6. From the presence of elemental aluminum and iron oxide in the red material, we conclude that it contains the ingredients of thermite.

7. As measured using DSC, the material ignites and reacts vigorously at a temperature of approximately 430 °C, with a rather narrow exotherm, matching fairly closely an independent observation on a known super-thermite sample. The low temperature of ignition and the presence of iron oxide grains less than 120 nm show that the material is not conventional thermite (which ignites at temperatures above 900 °C) but very likely a form of super-thermite.

8. After igniting several red/gray chips in a DSC run to 700 °C, we found numerous iron-rich spheres and spheroids in the residue, indicating that a very high temperature reaction had occurred, since the iron-rich product clearly must have been molten to form these shapes. In several spheres, elemental iron was verified since the iron content significantly exceeded the oxygen content. We conclude that a high-temperature reduction-oxidation reaction has occurred in the heated chips, namely, the thermite reaction.

9. The spheroids produced by the DSC tests and by the flame test have an XEDS signature (Al, Fe, O, Si, C) which is depleted in carbon and aluminum relative to the original red material. This chemical signature strikingly matches the chemical signature of the spheroids produced by igniting commercial thermite, and also matches the signatures of many of the microspheres found in the WTC dust [5].

10. The carbon content of the red material indicates that an organic substance is present. This would be expected for super-thermite formulations in order to produce high gas pressures upon ignition and thus make them explosive. The nature of the organic material in these chips merits further exploration. We note that it is likely also an energetic material, in that the total energy release sometimes observed in DSC tests exceeds the theoretical maximum energy of the classic thermite reaction.

Based on these observations, we conclude that the red layer of the red/gray chips we have discovered in the WTC dust is active, unreacted thermitic material, incorporating nanotechnology, and is a highly energetic pyrotechnic or explosive material.

(emphasis added)

Complete Article

http://www.bentham-open.org/pages/content.php?TOCPJ/2009/00000002/00000001/7TOCPJ.SGM