Friday, October 31, 2008

Wag the Blog: Is Drudge Still Relevant?

No Fix post in recent memory has provoked the sort of reaction -- some of it good, but mostly bad -- generated by the two pieces we did on the influence of Matt Drudge (and his eponymous Drudge Report).

The first -- entitled "How Matt Drudge Rules the (Political) World" -- detailed Drudge's influence over the campaign narrative during the Democratic primary season; the second -- "Drudgeology 101" -- sought to explain why Drudge's coverage, which at one time has been so favorable to Barack Obama, had begun to turn against the Illinois senator.

In the former post, we led with this idea: "There's little debate that Matt Drudge and his eponymous website sit at the junction of politics and journalism in the modern media age."

But, over the last few weeks, some members of the political chattering class have begun to question whether Matt Drudge is as powerful as he once was.

To wit:
  • On Monday, Drudge posted a link to this You Tube clip featuring an Obama radio interview from 2001 with a headline that blared: "2001 OBAMA: TRAGEDY THAT 'REDISTRIBUTION OF WEALTH' NOT PURSUED BY SUPREME COURT."
  • Early on Tuesday, Drudge used a comic book picture of Obama over a headline that read: "ABCCBSNBCNYTLATWSJCNNMSNBCAPREUTERSAFPPOLITICOFTTIMEWASHPOSTNEWSWEEK: CAN THEY ALL BE WRONG?" It linked to this column on media bias by technology writer Michael Malone.
  • Later in the day, Drudge led his site for hours with a picture of a smiling Obama giving the "thumbs up" over a banner headline reading: "OBAMA SAYS 'DAY OFF' WORK FOR ELECTION."
  • Then on Wednesday, Drudge featured an image of one of Gallup's likely voter models that showed Obama at 49 percent and McCain at 47 percent with the headline: "TRICK OR TREAT: GALLUP SAYS OBAMA +2."

It's clear from this series of posts that Drudge believes the media is missing a John McCain comeback, and he is bound and determined to push the idea that Obama is far from a sure thing.

Mark Halperin, a veteran Drudgeologist and the editor of the indispensable Page at, recently took note of the content shift by Drudge arguing: "Follows recent pattern of posting things that seem not to help Obama -- including Biden's Orlando TV interview, the closer sets of polling data and more."

At issue is whether Drudge who, inarguably did more to frame Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry as an out-of-touch elitist than any other major player in the 2004 election (Don't believe us? Go read "The Way To Win"), has lost some of his ability to influence the message of the campaign.

Phil Singer, former deputy communications director for Hillary Rodham Clinton's presidential bid, believes he has.

In a post headlined "Is Drudge Losing His Mojo," Singer cites the same examples we have above and concludes:

"Lately it seems that the 'Roger Ailes of the Internet' isn't packing the kind of heat that made him famous. I'm not on the trail but it seems like reporters aren't chasing every item on Drudge as hard as they once did."

For today's Wag the Blog question, we want to know whether you agree or disagree with Singer's contention. Is Drudge less able to influence the daily dialogue of the campaign than he was even a few months ago? Or is he still the most potent news driver going? Why?

The most thoughtful/insightful comments will be featured in a Fix post of their own later this week. To qualify, all thoughts must be made in the comments section below not emailed directly to The Fix.

The Growing Risk of a World War

The world faces a growing risk of conflict over the next 20 to 30 years amid an unprecedented transfer of wealth and power from West to East, according to the US intelligence chief.

Michael McConnell, the director of national intelligence, predicted rising demand for scarce supplies of food and fuel, strategic competition over new technologies, and the spread of weapons of mass destruction.

"What I'm suggesting -- there's an increased potential for conflict," McConnell said in a speech Thursday to intelligence professionals in Nashville, Tennessee.

"During the period of this assessment, out to 2025, the probability for conflict between nations and within nation-state entities will be greater," he said.

Conditions for "large casualty terrorist attacks using chemical, biological, or less likely, nuclear materials" also will increase during that period, he said.

McConnell described a multi-polar world in 2025 shaped by the rise of China, India and Brazil, whose economies will by then match those of the western industrial states.

"In terms of size, speed, and directional flow, the transfer of global wealth and economic power, now underway, as noted from West to East is without precedent in modern history," McConnell said.

Territorial expansion and military rivalries are not likely but cannot be ruled out, he said.

"We judge these sweeping changes will not trigger a complete breakdown of the current international system, but the next 20 years of transition to a new system are fraught with risks and many, many challenges," he said.

By 2025, China is likely to have the world's second largest economy and to have emerged as a major military power, the largest importer of natural resources and the largest contributor to world pollution.

"China is poised to have more impact on the world over the next 20 years than any other country," he said.

India will have either the third or second largest economy and will press to become "one of the significant poles of this new world," he said.

Russia also will be part of that group but only if it expands and diversifies its economy and integrates it with the world global economy, he said.

"Strategic rivalries are most likely to revolve around trade, demographics, access to natural resources, investments and technological innovation. There will be a struggle to acquire technology advantage as the key enabler for dominance," he said.

Dance and Enjoy What is Left

Just Talk Me Down...

So McCain's answer to fixing the economy and the deficit is too stop all Government functions except for those that are essential.

The first question I have is who gets to choose what is "essential". To the Government, building bombs and spying on Americans is "essential".

The second thing is that McCain will give tax cuts to the biggest corporations in the nation. It will be just like Bush. While you may get a few hundred bucks, Exxon will get millions, if not billions. How is that going to help the deficit when it is in the trillions? It will not.

If you ask me, when McCain and Palin talk about Obama, they are speaking about themselves. They lie so much and Palin is the worst for this. She is so fake it seeps through my TV. It is disgusting that so many sheep flock to her when she is nothing but an empty shell that must depend on an imaginary friend to guide her in her reality. Pretty sad...

Palin does not even know what the job of the VP is. She has been asked 3 times and all she has to do is read the Constitution. Apparently though she has not because when asked 3 times now, she keeps giving the wrong answers. How do you run for office and not even know what the hell the job is? She is so fake and has been placed there as a pawn. She is nothing more than a game being used to pull voters who would have voted for Hillary. That is how stupid McCain thinks Americans are...

They are nothing more than fascists just Bush. If they had their way, you be worshipping their God and they lock up anyone who chose not too, claiming it is all by God's love that they must treat you that way. Sounds crazy? Read your history books on the world and those religious fundamentalists who ended up with power and used that power to force their own beliefs on the people. Remember, this is the same party that needs a constitutional amendment to remind them what the hell marriage is.

To me, McCain is scary. He will try to continue the Neo-Con agenda. This agenda is not one for the people but to control the people. You should have learned this by now from the last 8 years. If we were to ever see a police state come to life, it will come from these right wing nut jobs. I am hoping the split in the Republican party helps snub out those who want to follow in the paths of such political parties as the Nazi's.

I keep saying it...we cannot keep going in the same direction and expect change. It just will not happen. Look at the last 8 years. Can you imagine another 4 of the same shit? We will all be living in tents starving!

If you still are on the fence or still voting for McCain after all you have seen, you need to see a psychiatrist b/c you must be undoubtedly are letting small petty issues dictate your decision making which is illogical. Color of skin and affiliation of party does not dictate how well of a job they will do. The right is the "party of God" and look what the "party of God" has done to America in the last 25 years.....

Destroying our nation...wake the fuck up...

Monday, October 27, 2008

Treasury Spreads Your Wealth to Banks

The government will begin doling out $125 billion to nine major banks this week as part of its effort to contain a growing financial crisis, a top Treasury official said Monday.

Assistant Treasury Secretary David Nason said the deals with the nine banks were signed Sunday night and the government will make the stock purchases this week. The deals are designed to bolster the banks' balance sheets so they will begin more normal lending.

The action will mark the first deployment of resources from the government's $700 billion financial rescue package passed by Congress on Oct. 3.

The bailout package has undergone a major change in emphasis since it was passed by Congress. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson decided to use $250 billion of the $700 billion to make direct purchases of bank stock, partially nationalizing the country's banking system, as a way to get money into the financial system more quickly.

As the rescue program wended its way through Congress, the administration emphasized that the money would be used to purchase bad assets of banks. That effort has yet to get started although the administration expects to use $100 billion to purchase bad assets in coming months.

The deployment of the first $125 billion to the major banks had been delayed while the government and the banks worked out the details for the purchases.

Nason, a key architect of the rescue plan, said in an interview Monday on CNBC that those agreements had been signed late Sunday night.

Treasury is also starting to give approval to major regional banks with the goal of getting another $125 billion in stock purchases made by the end of this year.

One of those banks, KeyCorp, said Monday it would issue stock for a $2.5 billion infusion of capital from the government.

Another major bank, PNC Financial Services Group, announced on Friday it was acquiring National City Corp. It was the first instance of a bank using resources it has been told it will receive from the government's stock purchase program to support an acquisition of another bank. PNC said it is in line to get $7.7 billion in cash from the government by selling stock and warrants to the government under the rescue program.

Treasury has given the go-ahead for stronger banks to use the money it receives in the rescue program to acquire weaker banks, prompting critics to say the government should not be financing the consolidation of the banking system , in effect helping to choose winners and losers.

Nason, asked about this issue Monday, said the administration's major aim is to stabilize the financial system and that stronger institutions will be in a better position to make loans and support the overall economy.

Nason also confirmed the Treasury Department is reviewing a number of requests from a range of U.S. industries for help from the bailout program. Representatives of insurance companies, auto companies and foreign-controlled banks have all petitioned for help from the $700 billion fund.

Nason did not indicate when decisions on those requests might be made. He said one of the issues that Treasury had to consider was that in helping banks, which are federally regulated, the Treasury could tap into the knowledge of federal regulators in making decisions on how much money to supply and to which institutions. That type of information would not be available for non-federally regulated institutions, Nason said.

Ted Stevens Found Guilty

A jury today found U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens guilty of all seven counts of lying on his financial disclosure forms.

It is the highest-profile felony conviction in a sweeping four-year federal investigation into corruption in Alaska politics, and a rare conviction by a jury of a sitting U.S. senator.

Jurors found Stevens, 84, guilty of willfully filing false financial-disclosure forms that hid such gifts as a $2,695 massage chair, a stained glass window, a sled dog and renovations that doubled the size of his Girdwood home. Those gifts, valued at as much as $250,000 over seven years, came mostly from his former friend Bill Allen, the star prosecution witness in Stevens' trial and the former owner of Veco Corp.

The oil field-services company was one of Alaska's largest private employers before Allen, caught up in the federal corruption probe himself, was forced to sell it last year.

Now, Alaska voters will decide whether Stevens, who's represented the state in the Senate since 1968 and before that served in the state legislature and as a former assistant U.S. attorney and Interior Department official, should continue to serve as their senator.

That decision came quickly for they jurors, who deliberated for less than two full days. As the jury foreman read out the first guilty count this afternoon, the senator slumped slightly but was silent. When the second count was read, his lawyer Brendan Sullivan reached over and put his arm around Stevens. Sullivan shook his head in disappointment as the verdict was read.

As the senator exited the packed courtroom, his wife, Catherine, kissed him on the cheek.

"It's not over yet," he told her. She responded: "You got that right."

Then he added, "Not over yet."

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Michael Moore on 'Slacker Uprising'

Spreading the Wealth: The Politics of Class Warfare

John McCain said in the last debate, “The whole premise behind Sen. Obama’s plans are class warfare – let’s spread the wealth around.”

Unfortunately not only does he share George Bush’s economic philosophy, he even shares Bush’s tortured syntax. What McCain and the whole right wing leadership refuse to acknowledge are the facts pointed out by Warren Buffett, one of the richest men in the world. “There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”

Democracy is a philosophy of government, one in which the will of the majority is meant to determine policy. By its nature it is meant to serve the common good. Capitalism and socialism are economic systems, neither of which is specified by the constitution. The right has continually tried to equate democracy with capitalism – an assertion both historically and, by definition, inaccurate. Whenever this is pointed out, the right hollers “class war” and “socialism,” categorizing people who suffer from the right’s excesses as malcontents and wild-eyed radicals whose ideas are not worthy of discussion.

The Will of the Few
Beginning with the election of Ronald Reagan we have been in a period in which the goals of those on the right have been unleashed on the rest of us. Did they create a free market? No, they created a market that redistributed wealth to the rich.

This historic battle in politics is about which economic system achieves our common good and protects individual rights. Capitalism is an economic system that benefits those with individual power and influence. The nature of those who succeed in such a system pushes them to seek even more. The result is a neutered government and undue influence of the rich and powerful. The common good has been relegated to the back seat, looking out the window, while the hyper-capitalist globalizers have taken sole control of the wheel.

We can’t come to the end of the Bush administration’s ride soon enough. If we are not to descend into the dark ages their ridiculous supply-side economics, neo-con foreign policy and insane willingness to destroy the planet’s viability in the interest of oil companies must come to an end. The cavalier attitude towards the constitution and its amendments, criminal politicization of regulatory agencies and the justice department, and creation of the biggest internal security department since those of Stalinist Russia and Mao’s China must end. People tend to forget civilization once went backwards for almost 1000 years. It can again.

The full Republican “trickle-down economy” was put into process, and they turned a surplus into a deficit, destroyed the effectiveness of agencies meant to protect citizens, and bled working people and small businesses of capital. They suppressed unions, gave all kinds of government advantages to corporations over locally owned family businesses and, in return, offered them unlimited debt with cheap interest come-ons. At the same time, the administration’s policy of increasing the money supply, along with huge tax breaks to the rich, fueled the massive speculation responsible for this bust.

Not-So-Bright Future
The challenge for the next president will be monumental. He will be faced with getting out of Iraq and somehow returning some stability to the region that we destabilized. There is a war in Afghanistan that no foreign power has ever been able to win, an unstable, nuclear-armed Pakistan and a China that is facing environmental catastrophe and potential instability as a result of the economic crises. China’s stock market has declined 60 percent in value. Much of China’s middle class has bought stock in the soaring market on credit.

The challenges to global climate catastrophe must be faced now. The current world economic model requires an ever-increasing consumerism of an ever-increasing number of people, from ever-decreasing resources. It is an unsustainable model. How unsustainable? At current levels of greenhouse gas emissions alone – theirs is never a discussion of decrease –the planet will be largely uninhabitable by the end of the century. In the interim, that means an increase in the intensity and number of large hurricanes and dramatic shifts in rainfall and other normal weather variances. This, along with higher sea levels, has huge implications for coastal areas. A look up the coast makes that clear.

Global climate change also is expected to expand migration, legal and illegal, around the world. We already see how overpopulation and globalization have created instability on our own southern border. This poverty, along with the war on drugs, has created an unstable government right next door.

Curbing Consumption
Steve Pearlstein writes that economic conditions have halted expanded consumerism for the foreseeable future. He says in an Oct. 15 Washington Post article, “We are at the beginning of a transition period in which our collective spending as a nation will go from roughly 6-7 percent more than what we produce to closer to 2-3 percent less than we produce. We’re going to have to consume less, which means a temporary reduction in our standard of living.”

The economic structure must be corrected to put us on a path of a sustainable, less-consuming economy. The government has committed $2.6 trillion already to stem the blood-letting caused by the masters of the universe, and there are still bubbles left to break. The auto bubble is collapsing. The credit card business will be next. The rest of the dominoes to fall include hedge funds, commercial real estate and, of course, the leveraged-buyout junk bonds. While many believe the Dow will eventually level out at 8000-8200, a figure that is the historic projection of where we should be, it may well reach much lower before coming back to that point. Meanwhile, the great trail of buried debt publicly unwinds savaging investor confidence.

In addition to the millions who already have, millions more will lose their jobs, homes, health insurance and future opportunities for education and economic advancement. While those on the right scream class warfare, socialism and wealth redistribution, they embrace socialism for the richest among us. So that their problems won’t rain down on us, they say. Trickle down has already rained on us at the middle and the bottom of the food chain, and is bound to even more.

The government’s bailout plan does not give us a guaranteed return on our investment. We instead receive warrants, somewhat like stock options, that can be cashed in later. When we bailed out Chrysler, they were able to get a favorable administration to dismiss our warrants on their stock when it recovered, after taxpayers’ help.

In discussing the initial $2.6 trillion bailout plans, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, who fought against restrictions on executives of bailed-out companies, said, “Government owning a stake in any private U.S. company is objectionable to most Americans — me included.” Paulson wants you to invest tax money in banks, thrifts and companies, but the government will have no involvement in the decision making of those banks. That will be left to those who got us in this mess to start with. Unlike Roosevelt, who sent federal bank examiners into institutions to determine their true worth and viability, the administration of the bailout will be contracted out. To whom you ask? Again, the same companies that created this mess.

Secretary Paulson, the former Goldman Sachs C.E.O. and one of the leaders in creating this bust, has, instead of bringing direct government intervention to straighten out this mess, made public the debt and privatized government economic policy. This is to avoid socialism? Not one of the barons of capitalism would invest billions in a business and not have a voice in its management.

Politics is All About Where the Money Goes
The real dilemma is not socialism vs. capitalism but the top down neo-liberal capitalist economics of Milton Friedman vs. the bottom up capitalist economics of John Maynard Keynes. The top down or “trickle down” economics of Friedman and other right wing economists theory is that if you give more money to the rich through tax breaks and subsidies while cutting social programs, they will invest it creating jobs and wealth growth.

Keynesian economics says that in downturns you create deficit spending that goes into infrastructure and types of development that puts money into workers pockets who will then spend it boosting economic activity and wealth creation. This was what Franklin Roosevelt did in the New Deal.

While many will say that it was WWII that ended the depression, it was still Keynesian economics as the government gave contracts to produce war materials that directly employed people and funneled money to them to fuel the economic recovery. That philosophy guided public policy up until Ronald Reagan, the greatest period of economic growth in the history of the country.

It boils down to examining history. Twice in recent history we have shifted the playing field to the advantage of the rich and powerful (Friedman style) and the results were the great depression and our current situation. So let’s stop talking about capitalism vs. socialism and talk about the historical results of the implementation of these approaches.

It’s pretty straightforward. We have trillions of dollars of infrastructure, education and other needs. Set government policy that will produce energy efficient and other products we need to sustain our future and put money back in workers pockets where it has been disappearing since the 1970’s.

The Barons of Wall Street have had their chance and it didn’t work any better the second time. It’s time to move back towards the Keynesian economic policies that Barack Obama wants to implement that have been successful in the past and for the Republicans to get off the socialism soap box.

Palin: 'I Don't Know' If Abortion Clinic Bombers Are Terrorists

So when it is in the name of lives for those at war and our rights, it is domestic terrorism. But when you bomb a "baby killing clinic", then you are not a domestic that what she said?

Terrorism - The unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence by a person or an organized group against people or property with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments, often for ideological or political reasons.

This woman needs an education and then that may not even help.

Venezuela's Chavez Wants to Jail Political Rival

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez threatened on Saturday to imprison his main political rival, intensifying a campaign against a man he calls a crime boss just a month before he faces tough regional elections.

Opposition leader Manuel Rosales, who lost to Chavez in the 2006 presidential vote, is governor of the oil producing state of Zulia and is running for mayor of its capital Maracaibo.

"I am determined to put Manuel Rosales behind bars. A swine like that has to be in prison," Chavez said.

Chavez railed against Rosales at a gathering of businessmen in Zulia, urging the audience to vote against his rival for allegedly plotting to assassinate him, running crime gangs and illegally acquiring cattle ranches.

Chavez provided no specific evidence for the charges against the main leader of a fragmented opposition who has solid support in the oil-producing west of the OPEC nation.

Human rights groups say Chavez has increasingly exerted control over branches of power such as the judiciary and become intolerant of critics in almost a decade in power.

The former soldier typically takes to the offensive to stem a rise in support for potential rivals.

Chavez has been campaigning vigorously for his candidates in gubernatorial and mayoral races in the November 23 election but may lose some key posts as Venezuelans worry about crime, inflation and poor public services, pollsters say.

Chavez often makes dramatic threats in speeches without immediately carrying them out. Still, he does follow through on enough of them over time for his threats to concern the people he targets.

Budweiser WAZZZZZUP Commercial, 8 Years later....

Huffington Post Beats Drudge

Democrats are winning in the polls — and also online.

Liberal political blogs are proving to be big beneficiaries of the election news cycle. According to a report from Pew Research Center, 43% of liberals say they’ve read political blogs while thinking about the horse race, compared with 22% of conservatives. The study was conducted last week among 2,599 registered voters and found that blog readership across the political spectrum was 27%.

That’s good news for top liberal blog HuffingtonPost, whose September 2008 traffic more than quintupled from September 2007 to 4.5 million uniques, based on data from comScore.

It leapfrogged Drudge Report, which had 2.1 million unique visits, up 70% from a year ago. (Matt was far ahead of Arianna last year, with 1.2 million unique visits to 792,000, respectively.)

The biggest jump was Talking Points Memo, which got its start during the Florida recount in 2000. It saw traffic soar from 32,000 uniques to 458,000, a more than tenfold increase. Daily Kos quadrupled to 923,000.

But conservative sites also climbed, particularly RedState, which grew sixfold to 235,000 unique visits. Traffic to and Michelle Malkin’s blog doubled.

Sites in the middle include Politico, which launched early last year, and RealClearPolitics. They too saw big increases in traffic, ending September with 2.4 million and 1.1 million unique visits, respectively.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Support a Government Designed & Run for All the People

These PSA's are connected to Scientology I believe. I am not positive about this though. What is important is the message of this PSA. Especially right now.....

Comcast to Roll Out Faster Internet Speeds

Comcast Corp. (CMCSA) (CMCSA) on Wednesday said it will begin rolling out faster Internet speeds over the next few weeks in selected markets to homes and businesses.

The nation's largest cable operator and residential Internet service provider will offer speeds up to 50 megabits per second, which enables users to download a high-definition movie in 16 minutes and a standard definition movie in 5 minutes.

Most Comcast customers will double their speeds for free.

The service will be available in parts of New England, including the Boston area and southern New Hampshire, as well as in portions of Philadelphia, New Jersey and the Twin Cities in Minnesota. Over the next few months, Comcast expects to roll it out to over 10 major markets.

For residential users, Comcast's new 'Extreme 50' tier, including up to 10 Mbps upstream service, will cost $139.95 a month. For businesses, it will cost $189.95 monthly, including extra features and support.

The 'Ultra' plan for individuals will offer speeds up to 22 Mbps for downloading and up to 5 upstream for $62.95 a month. The business "premium" tier will offer the same speeds for $99.95 a month.

To get the new Internet plans, individuals must also subscribe to Comcast's cable TV service.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Beijing Criticises US on Human Rights Record


The last time the Republicans won an election for the White House without a Bush or Nixon on the party's ticket was 1928.

Credit Chris Matthews and the Hardball crew at MSNBC for this statement of the obvious, which draws an 80-year span of elections dominated by just a couple of names in GOP politics.

Then we wonder why everything is so fucked up and the conspiracy theorists are over dosing on information.....go figure!

(OK, Nixon had a little help from Dwight D. Eisenhower in the 50s. And yes, the former President Bush's vice presidency had an awful lot to do with that top of the ticket fellow, Ronald Reagan. But facts are facts.)

Jon Stewart on Palin's "More American" Comments

Sir Ken Macdonald Attacks Big Brother State Surveillance

The Director of Public Prosecutions has given a warning of the dangers of plans for a massive expansion of “Big Brother” state surveillance and of the growth of a “security state”.

Sir Ken Macdonald, who heads the Crown Prosecution Service, said that the “enormous powers of access to information” that technology had given the state should be used with great care.

He told an audience in London last night: “We need to take very great care not to fall into a way of life in which freedom’s back is broken by the relentless pressure of a security state.”

Technology, he added, was of critical importance to the struggle against serious crime and used wisely, could protect society.

It gave “the state enormous powers to access to knowledge and information about each one of us. And the ability to collect and store it at will; every second of every day, in everything we do.”

But Sir Ken, giving the inaugural Crown Prosecution Service lecture in London, called for “level-headedness and legislative restraint”.

He said: “We need to understand that it is in the nature of state power that decisions taken in the next few months and years about how the state may use these powers, and to what extent are likely to be irreversible.

“They will be with us forever,” he said. “And they in turn will be built upon on.

“So we should take very great care to imagine the world we are creating before we build it. We might end up living with something we can’t bear.”

Sir Ken, who steps down at the end of this month after five years as Director of Public Prosecutions, did not refer directly to the latest Government surveillance plans.

But his comments will be taken to mean the Home Secretary Jacqui Smith's plans for a new “super database” that will allow Government officials to monitor people’s every online move.

The Government is examining ways to collect and store records of phone calls, e-mails and internet traffic. Without the right to monitor the flow of internet messaging, the police and security services would have to consider a “massive expansion of surveillance”, she said.

A three-month consultation is planned for the new year.

Sir Ken, who described his period as DPP as a “relentless prosecutorial struggle against terrorism”, acknowledged that the country faced “very significant risks.”

But he said he regarded people’s rights as priceless. The best way to face down security threats was to strengthen our institutions, rather than degrade them.

“Our struggle has been absolutely grounded in due process,” he added. “We all know that this has worked. Our conviction rates for terrorism cases is in excess of 90 per cent — unmatched in the fair trial world.”

He reminded his audience that when he took up his appointment, “some questioned my suitability on the grounds that I had, in my career at the Bar, defended terrorists of almost every hue.”

But he had made clear that his period of DPP and the “relentless struggle against terrorism” would be grounded in respect for historical norms and “for our liberal constitution”.

He added: “So we have been absolutely right to resist, whenever they have been suggested, special courts, vetted judges and all the other paraphernalia of paranoia.”

Earlier in his speech Sir Ken also gave warning about turning back the clock by giving back to the police the job of charging suspects.

There have been recent calls for a return to police charging on the ground that the role of the prosecutor in the process added to police red tape.

But the CPS’s role in charging, which was assumed under his period of office, made it “more likely that investigations will comply with the rules and that occasional abuses of police power will be avoided.

“We make it less likely that the state will bring cases which shouldn’t be brought and which are not justified by the evidence.”

Monday, October 20, 2008

What is an American?

Recently the idea has come about that those who do not believe in certain values are not Americans.

Palin said at a campaign rally that "she enjoys visiting pro-American cities" in America. I did not realize there was places that are not American enough in America....

There is a congressman who is saying that all of congress should be investigated to see who is anti-American.

When did being an American become a certain lifestyle? Is not being an American about our unity even though we are a diverse nation?

I believe that our core rights allows each one of us to interpret how we see the American dream and how we each choose to live it. Some get married. Some smoke pot all day. Some work and some lay around and play video games. But is this not what America is about? Being able to be an individual and do what you want, when you want as long as it hurts no one else?

I am tired of these power hungry politicians trying to create a sense of nationalism in this country. It is the same path as Nazi Germany pursued and a very dangerous line of thinking. By creating a false idea of what a real American is, you are creating fake boundaries. You are isolating people. That is not what America is about....

I am an American and my beliefs and how I see the world have no implications on that fact.....I question the patriotism of those who wish to divide us with fear when our country is about unity.

Remember, the only thing we have to fear, is fear itself.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

States’ Film Production Incentives Cause Jitters

Already on the hook for billions to bail out Wall Street, taxpayers are also finding themselves stuck with a growing tab for state programs intended to increase local film production.

One of the most shocking bills has come due in Louisiana, where residents are financing a hefty share of Brad Pitt’s next movie — $27,117,737, to be exact, which the producers will receive by cashing or selling off valuable tax credits.

As the number of movies made under these plans multiplied in recent years, the state money turned into a welcome rescue plan for Hollywood at a time when private investors were fleeing the movies. But the glamour business has not always been kind to those who pick up the costs, and states are moving to rein in their largess that has allowed producers to be reimbursed for all manner of expenditures, whether the salaries of stars, the rental of studio space or meals for the crew.

Louisiana, one of the most assertive players in the subsidy game, wound up covering that outsize piece of the nearly $167 million budget of Mr. Pitt’s “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” — the state’s biggest movie payout to date — when producers for Paramount Pictures and Warner Brothers qualified the coming movie, a special-effects drama, under an incentive that has since been tightened. Separately, Louisiana’s former film commissioner is set to be sentenced in January to as much as 15 years in federal prison for taking bribes to inflate film budgets (though not that of “Button”) and, hence, pay higher subsidies.

Michigan, its own budget sagging, is in the middle of a hot political fight over a generous 40 percent rebate on expenditures to filmmakers that was carried out, with little opposition, only last April. Producers of films for studios like Warner Brothers and the Weinstein Company rushed to cash in, just as homegrown businesses were squeezed by a new business tax and surcharge. Rebellious legislators from both parties are now looking to put a cap on the state’s annual film spending, which some have estimated could quickly hit $200 million a year.

In Rhode Island, meanwhile, the rules have toughened considerably. That happened after The Providence Journal reported in March that producers of a straight-to-DVD picture called “Hard Luck,” which starred Wesley Snipes and Cybill Shepherd, had picked up $2.65 million in state tax credits on a budget of $11 million, even though it had reported paying only $1.9 million of the total to Rhode Islanders.

“With this much money involved, there’s going to be a temptation to hype budgets,” said Peter Dekom, a veteran entertainment business lawyer who is an adviser to New Mexico’s incentive program.

The vogue for state film subsidies appears to have started in Colorado early this decade, with a briefly financed Defense Against Canada law that was devised to win production back from Vancouver and Toronto. Louisiana and New Mexico soon came on board.

By this year, about 40 states were offering significant subsidies, turning the United States into what the Incentives Office, a consulting firm in Santa Monica, Calif., has called the New Bulgaria. It is a reference to what was once the film industry’s favorite low-cost production site.

Virtually all of the programs use a state tax system to reimburse producers for money spent on movies or TV shows shot in the state. Some, like Michigan’s, simply refund a percentage of expenditures to the producer. Others, like Louisiana’s, issue a tax credit that can reduce the taxes a production pays or be sold to someone else. Either way, the state gives up revenue that otherwise would be collected to put money in the producer’s pockets.

Advocates, of course, argue that these programs create jobs.

One of the country’s most successful programs is in New Mexico, which has backed movies like the Oscar-winning “No Country for Old Men” and next year’s “Terminator Salvation,” the latest sequel in the action series, with a reported budget of $200 million.

New Mexico officials boast of having used a 25 percent production cost rebate to build a local film industry that has attracted more than $600 million in direct spending since 2003, and an estimated $1.8 billion in total financial impact, as of last June. And in fiscal year 2008, the productions in the state generated 142,577 days of employment, up from 25,293 in 2004.

Elsewhere, however, critics have sharply challenged the notion that state subsidies for the film business can ever buy more than momentary glitter.

“There’s no evidence yet that this is a particularly efficient or effective way to create jobs,” said Noah Berger, executive director of the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center.

The nonprofit center reviews budget and tax policies in Massachusetts, which is spending about $60 million a year on producer credits. A recent study by Mr. Berger’s center pointed out that the state’s film credit, at 25 percent, is five times higher than that offered to those who build in designated economic opportunity areas, and more than eight times the state’s standard investment tax credit.

Until two years ago, Louisiana’s program offered a 15 percent credit for virtually the entire budget of a qualified film (and more for Louisiana resident wages), including money that may have been spent out of state. Things were fast and loose enough in Louisiana that Mark Smith, who oversaw the program, pleaded guilty last year to taking $67,500 in bribes to inflate budgets for a film production company that was not named by the authorities.

Kathy English, a spokeswoman for the United States attorney’s office in New Orleans, said the case remained open.

Louisiana’s new rules offer a larger credit, but only on spending within the state. That made the incentive less attractive for big-budget movies, like “Button,” which was done under old rules, and could recover parts of star salaries and other expenses that left Louisiana. But it has drawn a welter of smaller movies and TV shows, 70 of which have been shot so far in 2008, up from 56 the year before.

“All areas of the state have prospered as a result; everyone sees it,” said Sherri McConnell, director of Louisiana’s Office of Entertainment Industry Development. (Ms. McConnell said she did not expect to have a detailed picture of economic impact until the completion of a planned study, early next year.)

Others are not so sure. “There’s no way you can say this makes money for the public” treasury, said Greg Albrecht, chief economist for Louisiana’s legislative fiscal office.

In 2006, the last year for which it has complete figures, the state granted about $121 million in credits. Mr. Albrecht estimates that only about 18 percent of that is ever recovered in taxes on expanded economic activity.

“It’s an expensive way to create jobs,” Mr. Albrecht said. But he noted that Louisiana, like New Mexico, can afford it, thanks to rising oil and gasoline revenue. “We’re happy as larks right now to do this.”

Not so happy are some folks up in Michigan, where a State Senate committee recently moved to cap the state’s film rebates at an aggregate of $50 million a year.

“It’s just horrible right now,” Mike Bishop, a Republican state senator, said of Michigan’s financial condition. Mr. Bishop initially backed the film incentive. But he grew alarmed at outlays that he estimated could quickly exceed $110 million a year to subsidize movies like “Gran Torino,” directed by Clint Eastwood, and “Youth in Revolt,” a comedy by the filmmaker Miguel Arteta.

Anthony Wenson, chief operating officer of the Michigan Film Office, said the actual amount of credits granted was only about $25 million so far. The annual number is impossible to reckon, he said, because plans for future projects are in flux.

In any case, Nancy Cassis, another Republican who was the only Michigan senator to oppose the incentives when they began last spring, said she expected to see them capped with bipartisan backing later this year. And she does not look for Hollywood to hang around when the money dries up.

“These are not long-term jobs,” Ms. Cassis said. “If just one state offers more, they’ll be out of here before you can say ‘lickety-split.’ ”

Bush: World Powers Will Attack Crisis Together

The world's wealthiest industrial countries will work together to attack the credit crisis spreading around the globe, President Bush said on Saturday.

Speaking after a meeting with financial officials from the so-called G-7, Bush said, "We will do what it takes to resolve the crisis and the world's economy will emerge stronger as a result."

Bush said that in past crises, some countries sought to "wall themselves off from the world" or gain advantage over one another.

He said: "This time is different. The leaders gathered together in Washington this weekend are all working together."

Financial officials from the world's wealthiest industrial countries met Saturday after pledging decisive action to deal with the biggest upheavals to hit the global financial system since the Great Depression.

The big question is whether their one-page action plan will be enough to stop the bleeding as investors watch trillions of dollars of wealth melt away.

In an effort to expand the firepower the United States is bringing to the problem, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson announced late Friday that it had decided to go forward with a plan to buy a part ownership in a broad array of American banks. It would be the first time the U.S. government has employed such a program since the 1930s.

President Bush invited Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and their counterparts from the other G-7 countries to come to the White House Saturday morning for a meeting that the administration hoped would demonstrate global resolve in attacking the current crisis.

Bush, speaking on the economic chaos for the 21st time out of the past 26 days, said Friday that the government's rescue program was aggressive enough and big enough to work. "We can solve this crisis and we will," he pledged.

Connecticut Court Allows Gay Marriage

Friday, October 10, 2008

Final-Shill Solution for Freedom

Fear Trumps Government Efforts to Solve Crisis

With global stock markets continuing their sickening plunge and the credit system all but shut down, efforts by the Federal Reserve, Treasury and global leaders have been overwhelmed by global panic.

The wide-ranging, unprecedented actions to cure the illness may yet prove effective. But until the fever breaks, fear has the upper hand.

"It feels like the blackest morning — I’m trembling," said Hugh Hendry, a partner at the U.K. hedge fund Eclectica.

“I question whether I have a future or whether any of my peer group has a future," he told CNBC. "We had a sense yesterday that the problem has become bigger than government, so now I struggle to tell you any solutions.”

Panic selling continued to pound stock markets Friday as investors dumped holdings, although there was a glimmer of hope in the final hour of U.S. trading. The Dow Jones industrial average, which had been down more than 600 points earlier, was down about 127 points, according to preliminary closing figures.

With share prices no longer based on individual companies’ business prospects, buyers have little to go on when trying to see the bottom. All week, waves of panic selling have been interrupted by erratic, unsustainable rallies.

"What everyone has to be asking these markets every day is: How much are you willing to look beyond the short term?” said Zachary Karabell, president of River Twice Research, an economic research and consulting firm. “Looking back in the past there is an ‘after’ to these moments. And it seems like in the moment, there isn't.”

The situation in the global credit market is no better; credit remains largely frozen. Banks and investors are hoarding cash, fearful that if they lend money, the borrower may not survive the crisis.

The Treasury and Federal Reserve have taken unprecedented steps to address the panic — pumping over $1 trillion into the banking system and moving to buy up troubled mortgage-backed securities.

Nobody else is willing to buy these investments — or make new loans — until it becomes clearer which banks will survive. With no market for mortgage-related securities, there’s no way of knowing the true value of trillions of dollars worth of assets that have blown a huge hole in the banking industry’s books. And nobody knows which banks have sustained the most damage.

The biggest plan to date, approved by Congress and signed into law last week by President Bush, is the Treasury’s proposal to spend up to $700 billion to buy these troubled assets. But officials are still working out the logistics involved in setting up a new, multitrillion-dollar market to provide investors the chance to bid on these investments and information on prices being paid as they begin changing hands.

“The Federal Reserve and central banks around the world have been starting to hit it hard, but most market participants have viewed them as being behind,” said Eugene Flood, an investment adviser at Smith Breeden. “Right now, the market is just cash-starved. And they have been putting a lot in, but we've got to realize this global financial system is very large. So hundreds of billions of dollars are needed on top of what has been done so far.”

No matter how much money the world’s central banks offer up, it won’t begin moving through the system again until bankers and investors begin to get some assurance that the person or company they lend to will pay them back. Short-term market-based interest rates set by private lenders, measured by a global index called the Libor, are more than three times as high as the rate targeted by the Federal Reserve.

“Right now it's a measure of trust between the banks,” said James Reed, a money manager at the UMB Scout Stock Fund. “It's continuing to move up, and that shows less and less trust in the system. That's what you have to restore, is trust. That's when you know you have a bottom, and that's when the (credit) markets finally loosen up a little bit. “

With so little trust among bankers, the Treasury may ultimately have to move to guarantee all lending between banks. That would help reduce the risk of lending again and help unfreeze the system.

To speed the creation of a market for mortgage-backed investments, some have suggested the Treasury turn to existing markets like commodities exchanges. The longer it takes to implement the plan, the further the markets and financial system will deteriorate.

The panic is also being fed by uncertainty about solutions being engineered less than a month away from an election that will bring a change in administrations. The response to the chaos of the global financial meltdown will be further complicated by the transition process, which normally takes several months.

All of which means the crisis will continue to require more creative, extraordinary measures.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Man Shot Three Times for Wearing Barack Obama T-Shirt

A man told today how he was shot three times in a London street for wearing a Barack Obama T-shirt.

Dube Egwuatu was buying a mobile telephone top-up card in an off-licence when the gunman confronted him and glared at the top, which carries an image of the Democrat US presidential candidate underneath the legend 'Believe'.

The man then launched into a tirade of racist slurs, shouting 'I f***ing hate n*****s' and urging 36-year-old Mr Egwuatu to leave the shop with him.

The man then left the shop but when Mr Egwuatu re-emerged, the attacker was waiting for him in broad daylight with a threatening-looking dog and holding a gun behind his back.

Realising what had sparked the increasingly violent assault, the terrified Mr Egwuatu zipped up his jacket to cover the image of Mr Obama and walked to his car.
But the shaven-headed man, who was white, followed Mr Egwuatu and after pulling open the passenger door pointed the gun at him.

After pleading with the man to leave him alone, the married former street warden put the keys in the ignition and turned the engine on.

The attacker then fired the gas-powered ball-bearing pistol three times, hitting the civil servant in the face, hand and shoulder.

Fearing for his life and bleeding heavily, Mr Egwuatu raced away in his car and found somewhere safe to call for help.

He was taken to hospital and later sent to have a piece of metal removed from his jaw.

Mr Egwuatu, a data analyst with Croydon Council, said: 'The venom in his voice was frightening.

'He was telling me that he was going to kill me.

'I couldn't believe it was happening - and just because I was wearing an Obama T-shirt. He was trying to make me walk somewhere quieter, saying: 'I've got something for you,' and 'I'm going to kill you.'

He added: 'Obama inspires me, his educational track record alone is quite unbelievable - that is why I was wearing the T-shirt.

'I did not think for one minute it could stir up such powerful feelings of hatred and I never said a word to him.'

Mr Egwuatu's wife, Angela, 35, said neither of them had experienced anything like it during their childhood in Nigeria.

Mrs Egwuatu, an immigration officer, said: 'At first my feelings were pure horror and now it is pure anger.

'If he had been carrying a real gun I would have been a widow. It is just ridiculous.

'I don't know how a person's mentality works. Why would a T-shirt get you to the point where you want to shoot someone.'

To the untrained eye, ball-bearing guns like the one used in the attack look every bit like a real firearm.

The potentially lethal weapons are often converted by criminals to fire real bullets, and can be bought easily in high-street shops and on websites.
The Met said it was investigating the incident, which took place in South Norwood, and that police searched a nearby house which the attacker was seen going into.

No one has been arrested.

World Needs New Rules

Monday, October 06, 2008

Words from JFK

What Angers Me the Most.......

They speak about millions, billions and trillions like it is nothing.

All the while I sit here with maybe a little over 40 bucks in available funds to spend.

Fucking greedy bastards. Carlin was right, they want it all and they will take it back....

Wake up America!

Federal Reserve Failure - Why the Bailout Will Not Work

Oil Falls to $89 a Barrel

Oil dropped $6 to below $88 a barrel on Monday on expectations the growing financial crisis will further slow already faltering global fuel demand.

U.S. crude traded down $6.00, to $87.80 a barrel, at 2:30 p.m. EDT after hitting a fresh eight-month low of $87.56. London Brent crude fell $6.45 to $83.80 a barrel.

Crude prices have plummeted from a peak over $147 a barrel set on July 11 as high fuel prices and the growing financial crisis slow oil demand in top consumer the United States and other industrialized nations.

"The prevailing macro sentiment is now crystallizing around the notion that we are heading into a synchronized global slowdown, a mirror image of the across-the-board expansion we saw from 2004 to early 2007," said Edward Meir of broker MF Global.

Analysts are now eyeing demand from China -- which helped fuel a 6-year rally in commodities -- for signs the crisis is hitting consumption.

The world's second biggest consumer will not import gasoline for the second straight month and instead export the fuel due to heavy domestic stockpiles and a dip in demand.

"I think the market's starting to build this into prices," said Mark Pervan, senior commodities analyst at ANZ. "You would expect the market is now joining the dots and thinking ... this will probably flow through to China."

The U.S. and European governments are trying to underpin the financial sector but this has so far failed to reassure investors.

U.S. stocks fell on Monday, with the Dow diving 689 points and falling below 10,000 for the first time in four years, as part of a global sell-off on investor fears the widening fallout from the credit crisis would drag the economy into recession.

European shares suffered their worst one-day percentage fall on record, sinking to four-year closing lows while trading in Brazil halted after a 15 percent drop in its benchmark index.

The drop in prices has caused some concern among OPEC members.

"Definitely there is worry. When the prices are so volatile, like rising to $140 and then dropping to below $90, it worries everybody," said Iraq's Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani.

Ecuadorean Oil Minister Galo Chiriboga said on Monday that OPEC will analyze the impact of the global financial crisis on oil demand and set production levels in accordance.

Iran said $100 a barrel was too low and urged members to respect their output targets to prevent oversupply from worsening.

OPEC President Chakib Khelil said OPEC would seek to balance the market when it meets in December.

Printing Fake Money Saves America...NOT!

China Cancels Military Contacts with USA

China has abruptly canceled a series of military and diplomatic contacts with the United States to protest a planned $6.5 billion package of U.S. arms sale to Taiwan, American officials told The Associated Press on Monday.

Beijing has notified the U.S. that it will not go forward with several senior level visits and other cooperative military-to-military plans, said Marine Maj. Stewart Upton, a Defense Department spokesman.

"In response to Friday's announcement of Taiwan arms sales, the People's Republic of China canceled or postponed several upcoming military-to-military exchanges," Upton said, lamenting that "China's continued politicization of our military relationship results in missed opportunities."

The Chinese action will not affect the country's participation with the United States in six-nation talks aimed at getting North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons or its participation in the international effort on Iran's nuclear program, U.S. officials said.

But it does include the cancellation of an upcoming U.S. visit by a senior Chinese general, other similar trips, several port calls by naval vessels and the indefinite postponement of meetings on stopping the spread of weapons of mass destruction, the officials said.

"It's an unfortunate step," said deputy State Department spokesman Robert Wood.

Beijing is furious with the U.S. decision to sell Taiwan the huge $6.5 billion package of advanced weaponry and military items, including guided missiles and attack helicopters. China, which regards Taiwan as a renegade province, says the sale interferes with internal Chinese affairs and harms its national security.

"The Chinese government and the Chinese people strongly oppose and object to the U.S. government's actions, which harm Chinese interests and Sino-U.S. relations," its foreign ministry said in a statement Saturday, adding that U.S. diplomats had been summoned to hear a strong protest.

China's Ambassador to the United States, Zhou Wenzhong, was expected to register a similar protest about the arms sale on Monday with the State Department. A Chinese Embassy spokesman in Washington said it would be "only natural" for the ambassador to lodge the protest.

Upton said the sale does not represent a change in U.S. policy and that Washington is only upholding the provisions of the Taiwan Relations Act under which the U.S. makes available items necessary for Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self defense.

Taiwan relies on U.S. weapons to keep pace with China's massive arms buildup across the Taiwan Strait. U.S. arms sales to Taiwan are a crucial matter because any dispute between China and Taiwan could ensnare the United States.

Washington is Taiwan's most important ally and largest arms supplier.

The U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced Friday that it had notified the U.S. Congress of plans to sell up to $6.5 billion in advanced weaponry to Taiwan. Under procedures for such foreign military sales, the deal would proceed if no lawmaker voices an objection within 30 days of the notification.

Beijing claims Taiwan as its own territory and has threatened to invade should the self-governing island ever formalize its de facto independence.

Bush's Bullshit Lies on the Economy

Are you not happy you re-elected this man?

More Bank Failures Will Rise Next Year

Here's a safe bet for uncertain times: A lot of banks won't survive the next year of upheaval despite the U.S. government's $700 billion plan to restore order to the financial industry.

The biggest question is how many will perish and how they will be put out of their misery — in outright closures by regulators scrambling to preserve the dwindling deposit insurance fund or in fire sales made under government pressure.

Enfeebled by huge losses on risky home loans, the banking industry is now on the shakiest ground since the early 1990s, when more than 800 federally insured institutions failed in a three-year period. That was during the clean-up phase of a decade-long savings-and-loan meltdown that wound up costing U.S. taxpayers $170 billion to $205 billion, after adjusting for inflation.

The government's commitment to spend up to $700 billion buying bad debts from ailing banks is likely to save some institutions that would have otherwise died, but analysts doubt it will be enough to avert a major shakeout.

"It will help, but it's not going to be the saving grace" because a lot of banks are holding construction loans and other types of deteriorating assets that the government won't take off their books, predicted Stanford Financial analyst Jaret Seiberg. He expects more than 100 banks nationwide to fail next year.

The darkening clouds already have some depositors pondering a question that always seems to crop up in financial panics despite deposit insurance: Could it possibly make more sense to stash cash in a mattress than in a bank account?

"It sounds like a joke," said business owner Mauricoa Quintero as he recently paused outside a Wachovia Bank branch in Miami. "But it sounds safer than the turmoil out there right now."

Not as many banks are likely to fail as in the S&L crisis, largely because there are about 8,000 fewer today than there were in 1988.

But that doesn't necessarily mean the problems won't be as costly or as unnerving; banks are much larger than they were 20 years ago, thanks to laws passed in the 1990s.

"I don't see why things will be that much different this time," said Joseph Mason, an economist who worked for the U.S. Treasury Department in the 1990s and is now a finance professor at Louisiana State University. "We just had a big party where people and businesses overborrowed. We had a bubble and now we want to get back to normal. Is it going to be painless? No."

With more super-sized banks in business, fewer failures could still dump a big bill on the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., the government agency that insures bank and S&L deposits. The FDIC's potential liability is rising under a provision of the bailout that increases the deposit insurance limit to $250,000 per account, up from $100,000.

Using statistics from the S&L crisis as a guide, Mason estimates total deposits in banks that fail during the current crisis at $1.1 trillion. After calculating gains from selling deposits and some of the assets of the failed banks, Mason estimates the clean-up this time will cost the FDIC $140 billion to $200 billion.

The FDIC's fund currently has about $45 billion — a five-year low — but the agency can make up for any shortfalls by borrowing from the U.S. Treasury and eventually repaying the money by raising the premiums that it charges the healthy banks and S&Ls.

Through the first nine months of the year, 13 banks and S&Ls have been taken over by the FDIC — more than the previous five years combined.

The FDIC may be underestimating, or least not publicly acknowledging, the trouble ahead. As of June 30, the FDIC had 117 insured banks and S&Ls on its problem list. That represented about 1 percent of the nearly 8,500 institutions insured as of June 30. Entering 1991, about 10 percent of the industry — 1,496 institutions — was on the FDIC's endangered list.

Although the FDIC doesn't name the institutions it classifies as problems, this year's June 30 list didn't include two huge headaches — Washington Mutual Bank and Wachovia. Combined, WaMu and Wachovia had more than $1 trillion in assets; the assets of the 117 institutions on the FDIC's watch list totaled $78 billion.

Late last month, WaMu became the largest bank failure in U.S. history, with $307 billion in assets, nearly five times more, on an inflation-adjusted basis, than the previous record collapse of Continental Illinois National Bank in 1984. The FDIC doesn't expect WaMu's demise to drain its fund because JP Morgan Chase & Co. agreed to buy the bank's deposits and most of the assets for $1.9 billion.

"Rambo vs. Terror"

Euro Falls to a 13 Month Low

The euro slid to a 13-month low against the dollar as a deepening credit crunch forced European governments to pledge bailouts of troubled banks and increase protection for depositors.

The 15-nation currency fell to the lowest in more than two years versus the yen as Germany joined with banks and insurers to bail-out property lender Hypo Real Estate Holding AG and Belgium announced a revised deal to rescue Fortis, the largest Belgian financial-services firm. The yen also gained against the Australian and New Zealand dollars as investors pared holdings of higher-yielding currencies funded with Japan's currency.

"Everything coming out has been fairly euro-negative," said Alex Sinton, a senior currency dealer at ANZ National Bank Ltd. in Auckland. "The euro zone is the second domino of the globe to be falling over after the U.S."

The euro declined to $1.3648 at 9:45 a.m. in Tokyo from $1.3772 late in New York on Oct. 3. It earlier reached 1.3610, the lowest since Sept. 5, 2007. The euro fell to 141.97 yen, the weakest since May 18, 2006, and traded at 142.61 yen from 145.11 yen. The dollar bought 104.46 yen from 105.32 yen.

Against the pound, the euro fell to 77.15 pence, the lowest since March 14. It also declined to 1.5379 Swiss francs, the weakest in more than six months.

The German government and the country's banks and insurers agreed on a 50 billion euro ($68 billion) rescue for Hypo Real Estate after an earlier bailout faltered.

"It's unwise to buy a currency which is both in recession and having a banking crisis," Peter Pontikis, a treasury strategist at Suncorp-Metway Ltd. in Brisbane. "What's not going to help the bullish case in at least the short-term is that they have an as yet unresolved banking cloud over the U.S. system."

The dollar will weaken to $1.45 per euro over the next month, he said.

Russia's Warships Head for Venezuela

Russia displayed its military strength in the Mediterranean yesterday after warships heading to Venezuela passed through the Strait of Gibraltar in the second deployment of Russian naval vessels in the waterway since the Cold War.

The nuclear-powered missile cruiser Peter the Great, accompanied by the Admiral Chabanenko, an anti-submarine destroyer, as well as a reconnaissance vessel and a support ship, are destined for a maritime exercise with the Venezuelan navy.

En route, however, the aim appears to be to demonstrate to the West and Nato that Russia is once again back in business as a blue-water power.

“It's all about strutting your stuff and cocking a snook at the West, in the same way that the Bears [Russian strategic bombers] have been doing since they began patrolling again,” said Andrew Brookes, of the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies.

Jason Alderwick, naval analyst at the institute, said that the Russian warships, which set off from their base at Severomorsk, near Murmansk on the Arctic coast, were Cold War “legacy ships”, not the modern vessels deployed by Western navies with advanced communications and surveillance systems.

“This is a case of naval diplomacy rather than a demonstration of capability,” he said.

Mr Alderwick said that the only other occasion since the Cold War when Russian warships had passed through the Strait — coming within a few miles of the strategically important British naval base — was last year, when Russia's sole aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, and five other ships were deployed from Severomorsk.

The dispatching of the Peter the Great was a significant event, he said, particularly because Moscow had clearly decided to make its presence felt in the Mediterranean before engaging with the Venezuelan navy during the exercise.

The Russian naval force is due to call at the Libyan port of Tripoli and the Syrian port of Tartus, which played host to Soviet ships during the Cold War.

Reports suggested that the warships may have made a stop-off in Tartus, but this was not confirmed by Moscow.

The flotilla may also visit the Syrian port of Latakia, where the Russians are helping to build a new facility. The arrival of the four Russian warships in the Mediterranean comes after Moscow's military operation in Georgia.

After the defeat of Georgia in August, Moscow made it clear that it intended to deploy its military on regular manoeuvres around the world.

It has also moved to intensify contacts with Venezuela, Cuba and other Latin American countries. Russia has signed weapons contracts worth more than $4 billion with Venezuela since 2005 to supply fighter jets, helicopters and 100,000 Kalashnikov AK47 assault rifles.

Despite the new muscular approach, there was evidence yesterday of Russian withdrawals from Georgia. Russian troops began dismantling checkpoints in the “security zones” they have occupied in Georgia since the brief war in the former Soviet republic.

Russia is supposed to be pulling back its troops under the terms of a deal brokered by President Sarkozy of France on behalf of the European Union. Moscow has said that it still plans to keep thousands of troops inside the two breakaway regions of Georgia — South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Russia has formally recognised the independence of both regions.

How Congress Failed To Protect Our Economy

'We Risk a Disintegration of Global Finance Within Days'

We face extreme danger. Unless there is immediate intervention on every front by all the major powers acting in concert, we risk a disintegration of global finance within days. Nobody will be spared, unless they own gold bars.

Investors will learn today whether the Paulson bail-out - fattened to $850bn (£480bn) by Congress - can begin to halt the death spiral in the credit system. So far, the response looks terrible.

Germany is now in the hot seat. The collapse of a rescue deal for Hypo Real Estate on Saturday threatens a €400bn (£311bn) bankruptcy that nearly matches the Lehman Brothers debacle for sheer scale.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has been forced to pull her head out of the sand, guaranteeing all German savings, a day after she rebuked Ireland for doing much the same thing. Reality intrudes.

During the past week, we have tipped over the edge, into the middle of the abyss. Systemic collapse is in full train. The Netherlands has just rushed through a second, more sweeping nationalisation of Fortis. Ireland and Greece have had to rescue all their banks. Iceland is facing an Argentine denouement.

The US commercial paper market is closed. It shrank $95bn last week, and has lost $208bn in three weeks. The interbank lending market has seized up. There are almost no bids. It is a ghost market. Healthy companies cannot roll over debt. Some will have to sack staff today to stave off default.

As the unflappable Warren Buffett puts it, the credit freeze is “sucking blood” out of the economy. “In my adult lifetime, I don’t think I’ve ever seen people as fearful,” he said.

We are fast approaching the point of no return. The only way out of this calamitous descent is “shock and awe” on a global scale, and even that may not be enough.

Drastic rate cuts would be a good start. Central bankers still paralysed by a misplaced fear of inflation – whether in Europe, Britain, or the US – have become a public menace and should be held to severe account by our democracies. The imminent and massive danger is now self-feeding debt deflation.

The lesson of the 1930s is that any country trying to reflate in isolation will be punished. The crisis will ricochet from one economy to another until every one is crippled. We are seeing it play again in this drama as our leaders fail to rise above their narrow, parochial agendas.

The European Central Bank – which raised rates into the teeth of the crisis in July – has played a shockingly destructive role in this enveloping slump. Its growth predictions this year have been, and still are, delusional. Neglecting its global role, it has vastly complicated the fire-fighting efforts of Washington.

It could have offered “cover” to the US Federal Reserve this spring when Ben Bernanke was forced by events to slash rates to 2pc. It could at least have signalled an end to monetary tightening. That is how an ally ought to behave.

Instead, it stuck maniacally to its Gothic script, with equally unhappy consequences for both sides of the Atlantic, as well as for China, Japan, and India. The euro rocketed yet further, which it turn set off an oil shock as crude metamorphosed into an anti-dollar with leverage.

The ECB policy was self-defeating, even on its own terms. It merely drove headline inflation even higher, while deeper forces of underlying debt deflation pulled the real economies of Germany, Italy, France, and Spain into a recessionary vortex.

Far from offering reassurance, the weekend mini-summit of EU leaders served only to highlight that nobody is in charge of this runaway train. There is still no lender of last resort in euroland. The £12bn stimulus package is risible.

Angela Merkel has revealed her deep limitations. It was she who vetoed French efforts to launch a pan-EU rescue package, suspecting that any lifeboat fund would prove to be Trojan Horse – a way of co-opting German taxpayers into colossal transfers of wealth to Latin Europe.

In that she is right, but it is too late now for dysfunctional EU political games. By demanding that those who caused the damage should pay for it, she crossed the line into caricature, or worse.

Her comments echo word for word the “we’re alright Jack” attitudes of Euro-pols during the first US banking crises in 1930-1931, until the storm hit Europe and the entire cast was swept away by furious electorates, or simply shot. Thankfully, this EU stupidity is at last drawing serious criticism.

“We have to make sure Europe takes its responsibilities, like the US: action must be taken quickly and in a concerted manner,” said IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

As for the US itself, it has not yet exhausted its policy arsenal. It can escalate further up the nuclear ladder. The Fed can cut interest rates from 2pc to zero. If that fails, it can let rip with the mass purchase of US debt.

“The US government has a technology, called a printing press,” said Fed chief Ben Bernanke in November 2002. (His helicopter speech).

In extremis, the Treasury/Fed can swoop into any market to shore up asset prices. They can buy Florida property. They can even buy SUV guzzlers from the car lots in Detroit, and mangle them in scrap yards. As Bernanke put it, the Fed can “expand the menu of assets that it buys.”

There is a devilish catch to this ploy, of course. It assumes that foreign creditors will tolerate such action.

Japan entered its Lost Decade as the world’s top creditor, with a vast pool of household savings to cushion the slump. America starts its purge with net external liabilities of $3 trillion, and a savings rate near zero. Foreigners own over half the US Treasury debt, and two thirds of all Fannie, Freddie, and other US agency bonds.

But the risk of a dollar collapse is one for the distant future. Right now the world faces the opposite problem. There is a wild scramble for dollars as a $10 trillion pyramid of global lending based on dollar balance sheets “delevers” with a vengeance.

This is a “short squeeze” on those who have used the dollar for a vast global carry trade. International banks are facing margin calls on their dollar leverage. It is why the Fed is having to provide $1.25 trillion in dollar liquidity for the entire global system, according to estimates by Brad Setser from the Center for Geoeconomic Studies.

The crisis engulfing Europe, Asia and emerging markets, makes life easier for Washington. The United States is becoming a safe-haven again.

The Fed can now hope to pursue monetary stimulus “a l’outrance” without being slapped down by the currency, debt, and commodity markets. Take comfort where you can.

What If They Asked Your Family for the Wall Street Bailout?

Dow Down 300 Points Monday Morning

Wall Street tumbled Monday, joining a selloff around the world as fears grew that the financial crisis will cascade through economies globally despite bailout efforts by the U.S. and other governments. The Dow Jones industrials skidded more than 300 points and fell below 10,000 for the first time in four years, while the credit markets remained under strain.

The markets have come to the sobering realization that the Bush administration's $700 billion rescue plan won't work quickly to unfreeze the credit markets, and that many banks are still having difficulty gaining access to cash.

Over the weekend, governments across Europe rushed to prop up failing banks. The German government and financial industry agreed on a $68 billion bailout for commercial-property lender Hypo Real Estate Holding AG, while France's BNP Paribas agreed to acquire a 75 percent stake in Fortis's Belgium bank after a government rescue failed.

The governments of Germany, Ireland and Greece also said they would guarantee bank deposits.

The Federal Reserve also took fresh steps to help ease seized-up credit markets. The central bank said Monday it will begin paying interest on commercial banks' reserves and will expand its loan program to squeezed banks.

Investors took a bleak view of the future, seeing no end to the crisis in the near term. But analysts were more optimistic.

"These programs are going to be effective I believe," said Rob Lutts, chief investment officer at Cabot Money Management. "Shorter term we're in a very challenging environment that's going to take a while."

In the first hour of trading, the Dow Jones industrial average fell 311.26, or 3.01 percent, to 10,014.12 after falling to 9,981.39, its first drop below 10,000 since Oct. 29, 2004.

Broader indexes also tumbled. The Standard & Poor's 500 index shed 40.92, or 3.72 percent, to 1,058.31; and the Nasdaq composite index fell 74.01, or 3.80 percent, to 1,873.38. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies dropped 23.43, or 3.78 percent, to 595.97.

In Asia, the Nikkei 225 closed 4.25 percent lower. Europe's stock markets also declined, with the FTSE-100 down 3.24 percent, Germany's DAX down 5.28 percent, and France's CAC-40 down 5.60 percent.

The anxiety was again obvious in the credit markets. The yield on the three-month Treasury bill slipped to 0.38 percent from 0.50 percent late Friday. Demand for bills remains high because of their safety; investors are willing to take extremely low returns just to have their money in a secure place.

Investors also moved into longer-term Treasury bonds. The yield on the 10-year note fell to 3.52 percent from 3.60 percent late Friday.

Banks' hesitation to lend to one another and to many businesses and individuals is the result of the bad mortgage debt that the government's financial rescue is supposed to sweep up. But it's still unclear how quickly financial institutions will be able to hand that debt over and convince the markets they are healthy again.

There has been some hope that perhaps the Fed, in concert with other central banks, might cut interest rates to help stimulate the economy. With oil prices well off their midsummer highs and indicators pointing to a slower economy, the Fed's worries about inflation are less than they had been, making it easier to justify a rate cut.

Investors might get some indication about a potential rate cut with several policymakers slated to speak this week. Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher and Chicago Fed President Charles Evans will speak on the U.S. economy on Monday. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is due to speak on Tuesday.

Frederick Dickson, chief market strategist at D.A. Davidson & Co., believes investors are eager for any signs about the well being of the economy.

"Wall Street at this point is shifting its attention from whether Congress was going to act on the emergency stabilization bill to the realization that the economy is slowing significantly faster than most analysts had expected," he said. "The downturn has shifted from first gear to about third gear in about two weeks."

Meanwhile, oil prices fell to an eight-month low below $90 a barrel on speculation that the spreading financial crisis will exacerbate a global economic slowdown and further cut demand for crude oil. Light, sweet crude tumbled $3.82 to $90.06 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The dollar rose to a 13-month high against the euro, and was also higher against other major currencies.

In corporate news, ailing Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. received a $2.5 billion investment from European insurer Allianz. Hartford's market value was halved last week on concerns it needed more capital to survive, but shares recovered $4.53, or 16.5 percent, to $31.93 on Monday.

EBay Inc. fell $1.14, or 6 percent, to $17.81 after announcing it will cut about 1,000 jobs, reducing its work force by 10 percent, to streamline the company. The online auction site expects restructuring charges of about $70 million to $80 million, mostly during the fourth quarter.

Wells Fargo & Co. said late Sunday its takeover agreement with Wachovia Corp. will go forward after a state appeals court blocked a lower court ruling that favored rival bidder Citigroup Inc. Wells Fargo said it will "continue working toward the completion of its firm, binding merger agreement" with Wachovia.

Shares of Wells Fargo rose 6 cents to $34.68, while Citi fell 64 cents, or 3.5 percent, to $17.78. Wachovia fell 18 cents, or 2.9 percent, to $6.03.

Eli Lilly & Co. said its board approved an acquisition of ImClone Systems Inc. for more than $6 billion. The deal, which also has been approved by ImClone's board, will create one of the leading oncology franchises in the biopharmaceutical industry. Eli Lilly fell $1.53, or 3.7 percent, to $39.75, while ImClone surged $2.80, or 4.3 percent, to $67.75.

Big Issue: Energy Crisis Hits Home

U.S. Money Crisis Hits Europe

Half of Mammals 'in Decline'

Half the world's mammals are declining in population and more than a third probably face extinction, said an update Monday of the "Red List," the most respected inventory of biodiversity.

A comprehensive survey of mammals included in the annual report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which covers more than 44,000 animal and plant species, shows that a quarter of the planet's 5,487 known mammals are clearly at risk of disappearing forever.

But the actual situation may be even grimmer because researchers have been unable to classify the threat level for another 836 mammals due to lack of data.

"In reality, the number of threatened mammals could be as high as 36 percent," said IUCN scientist Jan Schipper, lead author of the mammal survey, in remarks published separately in the US-based journal Science.

The most vulnerable groups are primates, our nearest relatives on the evolutionary ladder, and marine mammals, including several species of whales, dolphins and porpoises.

"Our results paint a bleak picture of the global status of mammals worldwide," said Schipper.

CNN Truth Squad on Ayers

Russian Markets Slump to a Halt

American Seniors Can't Retire

Well That Worked Well...

Bailout Bill - $700 Billion
Additional Pork - $150 Billion
Dow (-484) in 3 Hours - $600 Billion
Total Carnage to You, The Taxpayer - $1.45 Trillion

Ok, so we know that more then half of the $700 ($850) billion is going over seas to foreigners and the stock market didn't take too well to the bailout and our 401k's are now 201k's, but it's not all bad. This bill will help out homeowners and restore stability to our housing markets. Right?

From the NY Times:

Democratic lawmakers insisted that the Treasury use its authority to help restructure many subprime mortgages so that at least some troubled homeowners could avoid foreclosure.

But the Treasury’s auction plan will make that difficult. More than 90 percent of all subprime mortgages are part of giant pools, or trusts, which sell mortgage-backed securities to investors around the world.

Before the government would be able to modify any mortgage that was in a trust, securities experts said, it would have to acquire agreement from 100 percent of the bondholders. But a senior Treasury official said the government would probably want to buy no more than half of the securities tied to a trust, which would hamper winning agreement from all investors.

So in truth this bill won't help homeowners either... So far this bill has NOT:

  • Helped homeowners
  • Stabilized the stock market
  • Protected 401k's and IRA's
  • Added transparency
  • Protected taxpayers
  • Unlocked financial backed commercial paper (non-financial is fine and has been)
  • Stabilized the housing market
  • Lowered mortgage or credit card rates
In truth, this bill has not done one thing it was promised to do...

U.S.-Born Al-Qaida Member Addresses U.S. Economy

Asian Markets Plunge on Fears Crisis is Spreading

Asian stock markets plunged Monday as government bank bailouts in the U.S. and Europe failed to alleviate fears of a global financial crisis that would depress world economic growth.

Investors took scant comfort from Washington's passage of a $700 billion bank bailout on Friday, focusing instead on a dismal U.S. jobs report that suggested the U.S. economy -- a vital export market for Asia -- could slide into a recession.

As the financial turmoil deepened in Europe, Germany on Sunday announced a bailout package totaling 50 billion euros ($69 billion) for Hypo Real Estate, the country's second-biggest commercial property lender, after a rescue plan by private lenders fell apart. The move was part of a scramble by European governments to save failing banks.

Across Asia, all markets were in the red. Tokyo's Nikkei 225 index fell to its lowest level in 4 1/2 years, sinking 4.25 percent to 10,473.09.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index slid 4.3 percent to 16,927.87. Markets in mainland China, Australia, South Korea, India, Singapore and Thailand also fell sharply.

In Russia, the RTS stock index tumbled more than 7 percent in first 20 minutes of trading.

"This credit crunch looks like it's not going away any time soon," said Alex Tang, head of research at brokerage Core Pacific-Yamaichi in Hong Kong. "Apart from a credit crunch in Europe, investors are quite concerned about the worsening outlook on the U.S. economy."

Investors appeared spooked by a series of developments out of Europe over the weekend.

Belgian Prime Minister Yves Leterme said Sunday that France's BNP Paribas SA had committed to taking a 75-percent stake in troubled European bank Fortis NV. British treasury chief Alistair Darling also said he was ready to take "pretty big steps that we wouldn't take in ordinary times" to help the country weather the credit crunch.

The outlook for the U.S. economy darkened after figures released Friday showed that 159,000 jobs in the U.S. were lost last month, the fastest pace in more than five years.

Such concerns overshadowed any investor optimism over the U.S. House of Representatives' approval Friday of a massive bailout plan that will allow the U.S. government to buy distressed mortgages and securities backed by mortgages from banks and other financial institutions.

Investors questioned how long it would take for the package to unfreeze credit markets, restore bank lending and generally shore up the U.S. economy.

"The market had already figured in the package's passage," said Yukio Takahashi at Shinko Securities Co. in Tokyo. "There are strong doubts about its implementation."

Japanese financial companies and industries dependent on exports, such as steel, were especially hard hit Monday. Nippon Steel Corp. stock tumbled 9.8 percent, while Mizuho Financial Group was down 8.3 percent in morning trading.

Trading in mainland China resumed after a weeklong holiday break with the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index sinking 5.2 percent to 2,173 by midafternoon.

Banks and other financial shares saw heavy declines. Shanghai Pudong Development Bank fell 7 percent and Bank of China slipped 3.6.

Shares of Ping An Insurance Co. rose even after it said Monday it will record a $2.3 billion loss on its stake in European bank Fortis in the biggest blow yet to a Chinese institution from the global credit crisis. Ping An's shares were up 1.6 percent.

U.S. stock index futures were nearly 2 percent lower, suggesting Wall Street would open lower Monday. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 157.47, or 1.5 percent, to 10,325.38 on Friday.

In currencies, the euro slid to $1.3570 from $1.3774 late Friday. But the dollar was weaker against the yen, falling to 103.66 from 105.30 yen late Friday.

Oil prices tumbled on speculation that slower global growth will cut crude demand. Light, sweet crude for November delivery was down $3.23 to $90.65 a barrel in Asian electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.