We need you to take action today and demand a full investigation of the CIA's destruction of tapes that document its program of torture.
Last week, The New York Times revealed that in 2005, in the midst of public outcry and investigations of its secret overseas prisons, the CIA destroyed videotapes documenting the interrogation of at least two men in its custody. These videotapes likely capture the torture of these men - including one man, Abu Zubaydah, who the government admits to having waterboarded.
Delaware Senator Joseph Biden has called for a special counsel to investigate the CIA's destruction of evidence. No one is above the law: the CIA - and the Bush administration - must be held accountable for their program of torture.
Write a letter to your Senators or call your Senators' offices to demand an inquiry into the destruction of torture evidence. The Senate switchboard can be reached at (202) 224-3121.
Call Senator Biden's office to express your support for a special counsel. His office can be reached at (202) 224-5042.
The destruction of evidence by the CIA has a direct impact on our client Majid Khan, the former Baltimore resident who was abducted, disappeared, and sent to secret CIA detention in 2003, tortured and held in "black sites" for three years, and then sent to Guantánamo in September 2006.
In fact, before the story broke, CCR attorneys filed a motion to preserve evidence of Majid's torture, fearing exactly what was confirmed by The New York Times: that the CIA has been destroying evidence. Click here to read the motion.
Our attorneys recently met with Majid, and what they report back is chilling: from their unclassified descriptions, Majid is a shadow of his former self - in their words, "painfully thin and pale" - a marked difference from the vibrant man we see in photos taken of him before he was abducted and sent to three years of CIA interrogation under torture. He has symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as scars from a suicide attempt in which he tried to chew through one of his arteries. Click here to read the recently declassified information from our visits with Majid.
Majid was tortured in CIA secret prisons - and the CIA may have destroyed evidence of his torture, as well as the torture of countless others. The interrogations caught on tape also may falsely implicate others held at Guantánamo or elsewhere who would need the tapes as evidence to defend themselves. We need to know how the tapes came to be destroyed and why.
There must be a full, independent investigation into the CIA's destruction of evidence. Write and call your Senators today to demand the appointment of a special counsel to ensure that the CIA's criminal behavior does not go unpunished.
Care2 has reinstated my membership, but that does not negate the fact that some changes are necessary. This practice affects every single member of Care2 -- and just as it happened to me, without warning, could equally apply to you. I urge you to ask for review and change, and to circulate this among your friends.It's only fair.
Most importantly, we need a clear-cut, written procedure for member disputes, investigation of same, and resolutions that are fair to all parties involved. Also, there needs to be a definition of suspension, including notice, duration (number of days), remedies, and length of time the infraction remains on your membership record. This should be posted as part of the Terms of Service, distributed to all members, and judiciously administered.
As things stand now, and I have experienced first-hand and have witnessed increasingly happening to others, any member is basically a "sitting duck" for another member (and their comrades) to set them up for suspension. The "flagging" utility, in particular, is over-used as a tool by malicious people; and in cases where those people can do so anonymously, they are not required to provide a good reason and are unaccountable for their actions. In addition to examining the alleged violation, some scrutiny needs to be made of habitual "flaggers."
I have also heard that Care2 has a "three strikes" policy -- which means that, if you are suspended three times, you are automatically banned. Why is that not told to members? (In particular, it is prejudicial because there is no "hearing" prior to suspension. Therefore, you could actually be innocently suspended three times, but still be banned.)
It is ridiculous that an activist site has unfair, unclear (and in some cases, secret) procedures, which are whimsically applied. We have all seen how dictatorial and heavy-handed they are when faced with criticism, as well as their nonchalant attitude toward help requests -- and yet, nothing concrete has been done by the members to push them to the wall.
Care2 needs a reminder that their members are not "disposable" and it is not a "free" site. They use the number of members to attract new sponsors. Their widely-advertised "over 7 million members" figure is inflated by including groups such as Amnesty International, Annie's Healthy Living, AFL-CIO, etc. -- who may visit Care2 -- but only to check in on activities of that particular group, as well as multiple and/or inactive profiles which it behooves them not to delete. Further, members who "click to donate" generate income.
Thanks for your support.
*C* (aka "Just Carole")
9/14: DAILY REQUESTS FOR PROOF (and no response) = 5 (no requests til Monday now) (9/13/07 - Today, I did, however, get a casual inquiry on a help request from a month ago (which had already been taken care of) for fixing an access problem -- I couldn't get in to produce a signature report -- on a petition I authored (with over 600 signatures), requesting the judge to withhold bond on an alleged multiple child rapist, which needed to be delivered to court by 8/15/07)
(9/16/07) - In fairness, I will report that I did hear from Customer Service yesterday. They still will not (or cannot) give me an example of my "disruption of the News Network." Plus, they refer to suspensions as "time outs" (although I am not a child, and this remains on my membership record.) Further, others have responded with similar correspondence received after suspension, such as: "Your account access was suspended for a violation of our code of conduct. I'm unable to locate the abuse type at this time to give you more information." (Nuff said)
I, am one of an ever-growing number of members (charter or otherwise), who have been advised that my membership privileges were suspended based on unsubstantiated evidence from another hostile member.
My notice stated no allegations, nor provided any avenue of recourse. As one of the few charter (paying) members using the site, I feel I am entitled to an explanation as to why the services I assumed I had a right to use were interrruped, and if rescinded, was offered no opportunity to protest the charges.
Care2 made NO ATTEMPT TO CONDUCT A FAIR INVESTIGATION.
My service was, with only a few minutes notice before the end of normal business hours for Care2 (5pm PT), suspended, after NO questioning, no offer of response -- and no inspection of the charges.
This is not the first such instance. Previously, I was threatened with suspension for publishing an article through their News Network, and noted by several members, begging the site to take curative measures to stop the incessant trolling and stalking. In answer, my news story was removed and I was informed that, although I didn't name any specific member, my membership could basically be denied "at will."
Since that time, there have been SEVERAL occasions where other members have done basically the same, but were not admonished. Care2 has CLEARLY acted with prejudice in my case. (I have retained copies of all articles in question, as well as all notifications from Care2.)
As an activist site, I find this behavior unconscienable. My behavior with the majority of other members has been exemplary (and can be attested to through tributes, commendations, letters, etc.)
I am referring this matter to the ACLU, FCC and Amnesty International (a major contributor to the site.) In addition, I am utilizing all available outlets to advertise this proceeding.
I am inviting former members also unjustly suspended (of which there are many), as well as members reinstated after also having been suspended or terminated with bias -- as well as current members who agree that this is unprofessional and grossly unfair.
IF YOU AGREE THAT THIS TYPE OF BEHAVIOR IS ABHORRANT FROM A SITE PROFESSING TO BE PRO HUMAN RIGHTS, PLEASE SIGN HERE.
Choosing from collard greens, ribs, fried chicken, chittlins, candied yams and other dishes, Christabel Cobbina, sophomore biology major, filled her plate and joined her friends for an afternoon of good food and socialization Sunday in the John Marshall Dining Room at the annual Soul Food Feast.
"We don't get food like this in the cafeteria," Cobbina said. "The minute I heard about this, I jumped at the opportunity. It's delicious."
She confessed that the sweet potato pie was her favorite.
Experiencing the feast for the first time, Chelsea Rebholz, freshman international affairs major, was provided the opportunity to try foods she had never tasted before.
"I've never had collard greens before, so I did, and they were really good," Rebholz said.
She refused to try chittlins, however, simply because she knew what they were. Chittlins are the small intestine of pigs and are most commonly prepared by boiling them and adding vinegar and hot sauce for spice, Maurice Cooley, director for the Center for African American Students Programs, said.
Barbara Schoolfield, a caterer from Beckley, W.Va., prepared the chittlins, while Sodexho prepared the rest of the food.
Edna Congleton, a Huntington resident and teacher at Spring Hill Elementary, has been attending the Soul Food Feast for several years.
"I come to help support the Center for African American Students Programs, and so I won't have to cook dinner," Congleton said with a chuckle. "It's also nice to see the Huntington community and the students from campus interact with one another."
Other Huntington residents echoed Congleton's appreciation for the event.
"I enjoy the fellowship the most - seeing people from different cultures, churches and backgrounds come together," Donna McCoy, Huntington resident, said. "I just met a young lady from Colombia that had never seen snow before."
The feast is sponsored by the CAASP and is open to students and the public. This year, a combination of more than 100 students and community members attended the event Jan. 28, Fran Jackson, administrative assistant for the CAASP, said.
The Soul Food Feast has been a tradition for more than 20 years and is centered on maintaining good relationships with family and friends and eating, both of which are important to black culture, Cooley said. The event is also intended to kick off February - Black History Month.
Brittany M. Twohig can be contact at firstname.lastname@example.org.
MOSCOW: Computer experts have traced a $1 million online bank heist in Sweden to a Russian hacker known only by his colorful sobriquet — the Corpse — in one of the more brazen Internet banking crimes of recent memory.
As the extent of the fraud became known this week at Nordea, the Scandanavian bank involved, attention shifted to the Russian-made virus behind the crime and the darker world of Russian programming, where talented minds still struggle to find legitimate outlets for the computer skills.
The case also highlighted the risks of online banking, although Nordea said only customers who operated personal computers without anti-virus programs became victims.
The Swedish police said that the virus had been distributed with a spam e- mail message and aimed at several European and U.S. banks. Police have arrested both Swedish nationals and foreigners who withdrew cash from branches of the Swedish bank after making online transfers.
Corpse, whose true identity is unknown to antivirus experts, is believed to be the author of the so-called Trojan horse program, which surreptitiously logged keystrokes while online banking customers entered their passwords.
The Swedish police identified the program as a variant of the Haxdoor Trojan. Corpse is believed to be the author of the original Haxdoor program and several variations, which are improbably offered for sale openly on a Russian Web site.
The asking price ranges from several hundred to several thousand dollars, depending on the version. They are sold under names like A311 Death and Nuclear Grabber. The site offers to customize the software for clients for an undisclosed fee. The home page displays a thumbnail illustration of the Communist leader Vladimir Lenin making a rude gesture.
Thieves using the program in Sweden defrauded 250 customers of Nordea's online banking service over a period of 15 months. The bank has compensated its clients.
The program was activated when a user typed the bank's address into a browser program. It then recorded keystrokes to capture passwords. Later, criminals transferred money to newly opened accounts and withdrew cash at branch offices. It was one of the more brazen online bank heists in Europe in recent memory.
"It's a highly advanced form of IT fraud, and it's never happened before outside of industrial espionage," Daniel Goldberg, a writer for Computer Sweden, a Stockholm-based technology magazine that first reported the fraud, said by telephone on Wednesday.
Aleksandr Gostev, an antivirus researcher at Kaspersky Labs in Moscow, said that Corpse was well known as a hacker who sells programs to other hackers, meaning he might have been unconnected to the group that hit Nordea bank, even if he was the author of the key-logging program used in the heist.
"He writes these programs himself, and he sells them to whoever wants them," Gostev said. "In the case of Nordea bank, somebody who wanted to steal from clients ordered a customized version. The hacker could be from anywhere in the world."
Corpse's site carries a disclaimer in bungled English that use of the programs is "exclusively in the educational purposes." E-mailed questions sent to the site were not answered Wednesday.
Still, the Swedish police say the Russian connection in the heist goes beyond the source of the virus used.
Stolen passwords were transmitted to a server in the United States that forwarded the information to a server in Russia, said Anders Ahlqvist, chief inspector for the cybercrime division of Sweden's National Criminal Investigations Department.
Also, some of the money was sent to "the eastern shore of the Baltic Sea" after the attack, he said, referring to Russia.
He downplayed the virus's sophistication, saying the fraud depended instead on the carelessness of customers who downloaded it to their computers.
"If people used a little common sense when they received e-mails, these attacks would never appear," Ahlqvist said. "This Trojan is very much alive and well in computers in Sweden today. I would be surprised if it wasn't. People are not careful enough with their machines."
Some customers were defrauded using a simpler scam that asked clients to confirm their passwords on a fraudulent Web page that mimicked Nordea's home page.
The bank blamed lax security on personal computers for the breach.
"The weak point is the customer's computer," said Boo Ehlin, a bank spokesman.
The case has shed light on the bizarre and some say darkly brilliant world of Russian hacking.
Russia's weak laws and a strong tradition of scientific education combine to nurture a flourishing culture of computer hacking, those familiar with the programming industry say. The prevalence of pornography and fraud on the Russian Internet has contributed to the country's image as a digital no-man's land of spammer and hackers.
An important announcement from our friends at Care Net
January 21-28, 2007, is Sanctity of Human Life Week
It happens every day. Over 3,000 pregnant and scared young women choose to end their babies' lives. Abortion has become America's holocaust and the sad fact is many women simply do not know all of their pregnancy options.
They have not been told the truth that abortion hurts women and unfortunately many have bought the lie that abortion is just another routine medical procedure.
Care Net has learned that one of the most cost effective ways to reach pregnant women is through the use of the Internet. Care Net utilizes a dedicated website to lead women to a secure place where they can learn their options, talk to loving counselors, and find a local Pregnancy Counseling Center in their area.
With the help of the LifeDonor Network, Care Net was able to directly communicate to over 80,000 women in the past few months because of their internet initiatives. They have also introduced instant messaging this past year, which has added a substantial benefit for counselors to communicate with teens and young women even more.
Recently a young woman found herself pregnant, scared and alone - abortion seemed the only way out. Then she found Care Net’s OptionLine website. It was there that she learned of her life-saving options. But more importantly, she realized she wasn’t alone and that there was someone out there who cared. And because of the OptionLine site, she made an appointment and chose life for her baby!
Please consider joining the LifeDonor Network. It only takes a small monthly contribution to help reach more women facing these critical decisions. Your support WILL save lives!
“This is the biggest housing slump in the last 4 or 5 decades: every housing indicator is in free fall, including now housing prices.” -- Economist Roubini Nouriel, Dow Jones, 23 August 2006
“The Fed, in effect, has become a serial bubble blower.” -- Stephen Roach, chief economist, Morgan Stanley
The American people appear to be oblivious to the economic hurricane which is expected to touchdown in late 2007. That’s when $1 trillion in ARMs (Adjustable Rate Mortgages) will “reset” triggering a massive increase in foreclosures and plunging the country into a deep recession. If energy costs continue to rise at the same time or if the dollar loses more ground, we may be rooting around in the backyard garden-plot looking for passed-over spuds and radishes.
The crisis is entirely the work of Fed Chairman, Alan Greenspan, whose “cheap money” policy caused a speculative frenzy in the real estate market which sent home prices through the stratosphere. In fact, the bubble originated in 2001 when Greenspan lowered interest rates to a meager 1% and ignited a refinancing boom as well as a sudden up-tick in home sales. Now, after 17 straight interest rate increases, the bubble is quickly losing steam and the effects are being felt from sea to shining sea. Rest assured, the sudden downturn in the housing market is just the first gust from an impending tornado. By the end of 2007, America’s match-stick economy will look like the rubble strewn landscape of New Orleans 9th Ward.
Greenspan has been the biggest player in this pre-Depression operetta. He kept the printing presses whirring along at full-tilt while the banks and mortgage lenders devised every scam imaginable to put greenbacks into the hands unqualified borrowers. ARMs, “interest-only” or “no down payment” loans etc. were all part of the creative financing boondoggle which the kept the economy sputtering along after the “dot.com” crackup in 2000.
It worked like a charm, too. Aided by the Fed’s cheap money policy, the housing market sizzled. In just 6 years the total value of real estate jumped from $11 trillion to $21 trillion! (“From 2001 through 2005, outstanding mortgage debt rose 68% from $5293 billion to $8888 billion&rdquo It’s the biggest expansion of debt in history and it was all engineered by seductively low interest rates.
Greenspan executed the swindle with the adroitness of a carnival huckster; luring millions of buyers to the real estate gold rush. Now, many of those same buyers are stuck with enormous loans that are about to reset at drastically higher rates while their homes have already depreciated 10% to 20% in value. This phenomenon of being shackled to a “negative equity mortgage” is what economist Michael Hudson calls the “New Road to Serfdom”; paying off a mortgage that is significantly larger than the current value of the house. The sheer magnitude of the problem is staggering.
For example, an article in the New York Times last week noted that “1 in 5 sub-prime loans will end in foreclosure”…
“About 2.2 million borrowers who took out sub-prime loans from 1998 to 2006 are likely to lose their homes”. In real terms, that translates into roughly 10 million people!
Greenspan, of course, nodded approvingly while the new regime of shaky lending practices was being put into place. What really mattered to the Fed-chief was making sure the economy could be kept on life-support while the massive “unfunded” tax cuts were provided for his well-healed buddies in corporate America and while the country charged off to war in Iraq.
Greenspan knew that his “low interest rate bonanza” was driving the wooden stake into America’s heart. In fact, every banker understands the effects of interest rates; it’s fundamental to their trade. Lower the interest rates and the people will swarm to the banks like piranhas to a hambone. It never fails.
The housing bubble has nothing to do with “market forces” or (Gawd help us) supply-and-demand. That’s all gibberish. Low interest rates provide a channel for pumping cheap money into the economy which inevitably creates equity bubbles. When Greenspan lowered rates to 1%, he knew that he was simply trading a technology bubble for a real estate bubble. Now, of course, he has retired before the wheels fall off the cart so he can avoid being blamed for the coming catastrophe.
The fallout from the housing explosion will be much more destructive than what most people imagine. In fact, Peter Schiff, president of Euro Pacific Capital Inc. believes that the NY Times’ estimates are too optimistic. Schiff anticipates that failures in the sub-prime loan market will put greater downward pressure on housing by increasing inventory and lowering prices.
“The secondary effects of the “1 out of 5” sub-prime default rate will be a chain reaction of rising interest rates and falling home prices engendering still more defaults, with the added foreclosures causing the cycle to repeat. In my opinion, when the cycle is fully played out we are more likely to see an 80% default rate rather than 20%”.
40 million Americans headed towards foreclosure? Better pick out a comfy spot in the local park to set up the lean-to.
Schiff’s calculations may be overly pessimistic, but his reasoning is sound. Once mortgage-holders realize that their homes are worth tens of thousands less than the amount of their loan they are likely to “mail in their house keys rather than make the additional mortgage payments.”
As Schiff says, “Why would anyone stretch to spend 40% of his monthly income to service a $700,000 mortgage on a condo valued at $500,000, especially when there are plenty of comparable rentals that are far more affordable?”
Why indeed? There’s simply no incentive to hang on to a home or condo that’s losing value every day.
Economist Nigel Maund describes what over-leveraged homeowners can expect as real estate values continue to plummet:
“For the majority of homeowners, they are now ‘lobster potted’ for the rest of their lives in the 21st Century’s version of the Victorian treadmill. Welcome to modern debt-controlled serfdom, where if you lose your job, either through retrenchment or illness, you lose your home. It has become a veritable Sword of Damocles, or a stick with which to beat recalcitrant labor into a bloody pulp, should they ever prove restless or disobedient. The ruthless and faceless plutocrats who benefit vastly from this dreadful scheme must be laughing on their return to a status of demagogic power which is the modern equivalent of Roman or Medieval Aristocracy at its exploitative worst….
The mortgage weapon forms an integral part of the armory of the so-called New World Order (NWO) as it seeks to accumulate wealth and power to control people by stealth.”
Maund nails it; the “mortgage weapon” has been used effectively to thrust millions into debt-servitude and shift the nations’ wealth to the upper 1%. Meanwhile the Decider-in-Chief has been busy rewriting the nation’s laws so they meet the requirements of an economically polarized society. (The erosion of civil liberties is the unavoidable consequence of the greater divisions in wealth)
The first wave in the tsunami is timed to hit in late 2007 when $1 trillion in ARMs reset; wreaking havoc across the country. That means that millions of borrowers will see dramatic increases in loans on homes that are of steadily-diminishing value. (Many monthly payments will nearly double!) The number of foreclosures will skyrocket, unemployment will soar, and America’s consumer economy will swoon.
How bad will it be?
According to statistical analyst, Jim Willie, “One third of job creation has come from the housing industry in the last 5 years.”
How will we make up those losses in employment?
Equally worrisome, is the amount of money which will stop flowing into the economy because of the declining home values. In 2005, Americans pulled $732 billion out of their home equity to spend on consumer items. By the 2nd quarter of 2006 that number was down to $327 (annualized) a loss of more than half. In an economy where 90% of growth has depended of the housing boom, these are ominous signs of impending disaster. (Current Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said that the slowdown in housing has been a “major drag” on the economy which has already caused a 1% decrease in GDP in 2006. What effects will it have in 2007 when the real storm hits!?!)
If homeowners can’t tap into their equity to augment their stagnant wages, GDP will shrink and investment will flee to foreign markets. That’s when we’re likely to see the lines at the neighborhood shelter winding around the block and whole families camping-out in the backs of their Suburban’s.
The Sub-prime “Time Bomb”
It looks like the meltdown in sub-prime loan business will trigger a steady downturn in the entire housing industry. The Center for Responsible Lending (CRL) issued a report which says that they anticipate a “humanitarian disaster worse than Katrina”. The report states:
“The sub-prime market was designed with a built-in time bomb. In testimony to the Senate Banking Committee in September, Michael Calhoun, the President of the CRL, showed an example of the most typical sub-prime loan, known as a 2/28, with an "exploding ARM" (adjustable rate mortgage). Buyers can qualify for this type of loan if the original ("teaser") monthly payment is not higher than 61% of their after-tax income. At the end of two years, even without a rise in interest rates, the payment will typically rise to 96% of the purchaser’s monthly income. No wonder then, that the study conservatively forecasts that one-third of families who received a sub-prime loan in 2005 and 2006 will ultimately lose their homes!”
A “96% of the purchaser’s monthly income”?!? That leaves a measly 4% of one’s earnings to pay for clothes, food and other essentials!
The disaster in sub-prime loans is leading the housing market into a waterfall-type decline. It’s the first indication that a real catastrophe is just around the corner. The inability of over-leveraged borrowers (many with a poor credit history) to meet their obligations is spreading to other areas of the market. This is called “contagion”. The defaults are symptomatic of a larger problem which could quickly affect the entire system.
Realtor Don Stacey describes the phenomenon this way:
“The fact of the matter is that sub-prime lenders are closing shop and dropping like flies…. What does this signal? To me it suggests that the sub-prime lending cycle is history. And, if it is history, then a very large chunk of the nonconforming borrowing seen in 2004, 2005 and most of 2006, will not be repeated in 2007.”
Why should this matter to the average homeowner?
Because in 2003, 35% of all mortgages were “nonconforming” loans. In 2004, it went up to 59%; and in 2005, nonconforming loans were a mammoth 65% of all mortgages! As the lenders return to more conventional practices the pool of potential customers will dry up accordingly and housing prizes will fall precipitously.
Once again, we need to remind ourselves that the housing boom was not created by market forces, “real demand” or increases in wages. It is entirely the outcome of Greenspan’s “cheap money” policy (low interest rates) as well as the widespread shabby lending practices. (“Creative financing”, ARMs etc.) These factors have caused the largest expansion of personal debt in history and are creating a real risk of a complete financial collapse.
So, why would the banks commit to such a risky scam when the standard criterion for loaning money has been understood for hundreds of years?
For the banks to ignore the rules for prudent lending (20% Down-payment, fixed interest rate, sufficient collateral and income) is like a scientist saying that the rules of gravity no longer apply or that the chemical composition of water has changed.
It simply makes no sense, does it?
It’s different for the Federal Reserve. The Fed knows that the US consumer is already over-extended and mired in debt. They’ve decided to increase our (collective) obligations while their corporate colleagues load the boats for more promising markets in Asia and Europe. They cling to the notion that they can preserve the greenback as the “reserve currency” even after it has been deflated to the value of the Peso. (The actual face-value of the dollar makes no difference to the Fed as long as they continue to produce the “international currency”. That preserves their power-base and control of the global system.)
“Cheapening” the dollar by doubling the money supply paves the way for hyperinflation and (the Fed believes) a more competitive American workforce going nose-to-nose with competitors in China and India. It’s a plan that globalization’s foremost champion, Tom Friedman, would probably greatly admire.
By pulverizing the dollar, the Fed can crush the middle class and lay the foundation for a “class-based”, police state; Bush’s nascent Valhalla.
The first step to “reordering” society is destroying the currency.
Famed economist, John Maynard Keynes, showed a keen grasp of this when he said:
“Lenin was right. There’s no subtler, no surer means of overturning the existing basis of society than to debauch the currency. The process engages all the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction, and does it in a manner which not one man in a million is able to diagnose.”
This suggests that the greatest threat to “democratic institutions” is not repressive legislation (as most believe) but monetary policy. The manipulation of currency can precipitate economic divisions in society which make democracy impossible. That’s why Thomas Jefferson said:
“I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of our currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and the corporations that will grow up around (the banks) will deprive the people of all property until their children wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered. The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs.”
Jefferson understood that monetary policy is central to the maintenance of personal freedom and should not be ceded to a few “unelected” and unaccountable men whose interests diverge from the public good. The Fed’s ability to “inflate and deflate” the currency allows privately-owned banks to decide the country’s future and remake society according to their own inclinations.
America’s political transformation is being engineered by the Federal Reserve.
But, what about the banks?
What would compel the banks break with traditional lending practices and put themselves at risk of millions of foreclosures?
The banks eke out their survival in an extremely competitive environment where short term profit determines their behavior. Not only have they loaned out zillions of dollars to people with poor credit, they’ve also played a major role in repackaging substandard loans and selling them off to Wall Street as “mortgage backed securities” (MB These MBS are high-yield debt instruments that evolved through “deregulation”. They’re sold to hedge funds as securities and are rarely (if ever) checked for the reliability of the borrower. This has created a great opportunity for the banks to loan as much money as possible using funky ARMs and nontraditional loans knowing that they’ll be rubber-stamped on their way to Wall Street. (The practice of shipping B grade loans to fund managers is like gift-wrapping dog poop and selling it as Belgium chocolates. Nevertheless, it has fattened the bottom line for nearly all the major lending institutions)
Unfortunately, the terms of the MBS allow non performing loans to be sold back to the lender that originated the loan. Now that the number of “non-performing” loans is on the rise, (through defaults) the banks are scrambling to avoid liability. (In fact, according to National Mortgage News, Fifth Third Bank is “selling $11.4 billion in securities (almost all MB before year-end 2006 and is taking a loss of approximately $500 million.) This reflects the new mood in steering away from shaky loans.
As the great housing Hindenburg continues its downward trajectory, the banks will undoubtedly do their best to prevent the deluge of foreclosures (and failing MBS&rsquo from dragging them under. Perhaps, they will offer more flexible terms to over-leveraged homeowners as a way of recouping their losses; it’s impossible to know. It’s also hard to gage how many struggling homeowners will be able to hang on even with a more flexible payment schedule. Unfortunately, the present trend-lines offer little reason to be hopeful.
These are grim times for the mortgage industry and we shouldn’t be too surprised if one or two major banks hobble into receivership before the storm is over.
Housing Hullabaloo: “the worst is yet to come”
Reports in the mainstream media tend to obscure the severity of the housing bubble. Typically, the articles are full of “Sunny-Jim” claptrap about a “rebounding market” that is suddenly “correcting” after an explosive decade of growth. For example, over 250 articles appeared in US newspapers this week celebrating; “New Home Sales Rise in November”. Readers should not be taken in by this type of hype. A careful reading of the facts indicates that, “rather than foreshadowing a quick rebound, the news high-lighted how fragile the residential construction remained and suggested that the downturn rattling the housing market has not run its course.” (NY Times)
Translation: The worst is yet to come.
The number of homes sold in November was the LOWEST IN ALMOST 4 YEARS” causing inventories to swell to a “7.7 month supply, the highest since December 1995”.
These are very bad numbers.
So, why is the media cheering?
The news reports draw attention to a slight 3.4% increase in sales in November from a thoroughly dreadful October! If, however, we compare the figures from November 2005 to November 2006, we find that housing sales are actually down 12.4% from a year earlier. (and, this, of course, is how one normally evaluates a downturn in the market)
The media is no more dependable in their coverage of the housing bubble than they are about Iraq. The reader must do his own research and draw his own conclusions. But one thing is certain, house prices are way beyond any historical relationship to rents or salaries. They are bound to come down… and fast.
We can also assume that the number of foreclosures will skyrocket in 2007 from defaults on sub-prime loans and the “resetting” of Adjustable Rate Mortgages. (The monthly payments on these loans will go up significantly whether the Fed raises interest rates or not)
Business Week summarized our current predicament saying:
“Today’s housing prices are predicated on an impossible combination: the strong growth in income and asset values of a strong economy, plus the ultra-low rates of a weak economy. Either the economy’s long-term prospects will get worse or rates will rise. In either scenario, housing will weaken.”
The real estate slump will seriously dampen consumer spending and further shrink the already miniscule US GDP (1.9%) This will undoubtedly have the added effect of curtailing foreign investment; putting more downward pressure on the floundering dollar and triggering a round of hyperinflation. Ultimately, the Fed will be forced to make one of two choices; either lower interest rates and forgo foreign investment ( $2.5 billion a day) or keep interest rates where they are and accelerate the collapse of the housing market. There is no “third” option.
Most analysts and traders believe that Fed Chief Bernanke will follow the well-worn path of Dr. Weimar and begin “hurling bundles of greenbacks from helicopters” rather than allow the economy to grind to a halt. Hence, we are likely to see the further “debauching the currency” sometime in the very near future. As Stephen Jen, the chief currency economist at Morgan Stanley, said recently in an article in the New York Times, “All the policy makers still believe in the possibility of a dollar crash. It’s still lingering out there.”
No doubt, Fed-master Bernanke will work towards that goal by keeping the printing presses humming-along while praying for the elusive “soft landing”.
The Fed’s plan to reshape American Democracy: "One bubble after another"
As a privately owned organization the Federal Reserve cannot be expected to operate in the public interest. The Fed’s views on policy are primarily shaped by elite opinion which favors a small group of powerbrokers at the top of the economic food-chain. The Fed’s power to manipulate interest rates and increase the money supply, allows it to engage in “social engineering” which merely reinforces its own class interests. This, in fact, is what Jefferson intimated when he warned that if &ldquorivate banks” were allowed to control the issuance of currency, than they would inevitably “deprive the people of all property until their children wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered.”
That shift in wealth is underway even as we speak.
These massive equities bubbles, (stock market and housing) which have had such a devastating effect on working class people are the predictable result of a class-based orthodoxy. They inevitably widen the chasm between rich and poor and strengthen the power of the ruling elite. It is crazy to think that they are merely “accidental”.
The upcoming recession is the direct result of policies which originated at the Federal Reserve and which were intended to create a crisis. It is a clear attempt to change American society on a structural level by exacerbating the divisions in wealth. The expansion of debt invariably strengthens private ownership and enhances corporate profits. It also weakens democratic institutions and national sovereignty.
Democracy cannot long endure where the money supply and interest rates are controlled by privately owned banks. Their behavior is guided by self interest and profit and is hostile to liberty and the equitable distribution of wealth. The policies of the Federal Reserve are transforming the country in a way that will eventually make democracy in America unworkable. We are becoming a de facto aristocracy and will continue along that path until the “issuing power of currency is taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs.”
The Federal Reserve System was established by President Woodrow Wilson in 1913. Wilson bitterly regretted his foolishness from the very onset and said in his book “The New Freedom”:
“I am a most unhappy man. I have unwittingly ruined my country. A great industrial country is controlled by its system of credit. Our system of credit is concentrated. The growth of the nation, therefore, and all of our activities are in the hands of a few men. We have come to be the worst ruled, one of the most completely controlled and dominated governments in the civilized world. No longer a government of free opinion, no longer a government of conviction and the vote of the majority, but a government by the opinion and the duress of a small group of dominant men.”
As millions of people lose their homes and life savings from the crashing of Greenspan’s Housing Bubble, we should reconsider Wilson’s words and make a concerted effort to dump the Federal Reserve.
The Spirit of Christmas consists in spreading Peace and Justice.
The Spirit of Christmas is when War Criminals are banned from the Birthplace of Jesus Christ.
In April 2003 at the height of the military campaign directed against Iraq, the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem decided to ban President Bush and Prime Minister Blair from the birthplace of Jesus Christ.
"They are war criminals and murderers of children. Therefore the Church of Nativity decided to ban them access into the holy shrine for ever,"
"Their entry into the church will tarnish it as [Bush's] hands are covered in the blood of the innocent,”
The Church of the Nativity is under the authority of the Greek Orthodox church.
Of utmost significance, the US News media has not reported this story.
Spread the word to Church parishes in the US and around the World.
Unseat the War criminals.
Global Research, 24 December 2006
BETHLEHEM, April 01, 2003 (Online): The Church of Nativity, widely believed to be the birth-place of Jesus Christ, decided to ban entry each of the US President George Bush, his Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his Foreign Secretary Jack Straw the privilege of visiting this sacred place, which is one of the holiest Christian shrines.
The move came in protest of "the aggressive war these leaders have waged against Iraq," top Clergy of the church said.
The Church Parishioner Father Panaritius made the decision public at a massive protest demonstration organized by Orthodox institutions in front of the Church of Nativity."They are war criminals and murderers of children. Therefore the Church of Nativity decided to ban them access into the holy shrine for ever," the parishioner said.
AMMAN — Parish Priest of the Greek Orthodox community in Amman, Economos Constantine Karmash, said Tuesday he fully supports the Church of the Nativity decision to ban a number of top coalition leaders from entering the house of worship.
The Bethlehem sanctuary issued a ringing reprisal Sunday of the coalition attack, going as far as barring US President George W. Bush, US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and UK Foreign Minister Jack Straw from entering church grounds, due to their “aggressive war on Iraq.”
“The priest in the Church of the Nativity has every right to ban Bush and his supporters since they have marred the teachings of Christ. Their entry into the church will tarnish it as [Bush's] hands are covered in the blood of the innocent,” Karmash told The Jordan Times.
The local priest went on to say that he felt the punishment was not enough. “We need a tougher one to eradicate evil at its very root,” he exclaimed.
The Nativity Church's parishioner, Father Panaritius, said during a rally organised Sunday by the Greek Orthodox community in Bethlehem that Bush, Rumsfeld, Blair and Straw are “war criminals and children killers that will be banned from entering the church forever!”
Karmash explained that the banning was different from an official church ban, or “excommunication,” which requires a supreme church power. If this is done, the excommunicated are no longer considered members of the church and will not be provided any church services such as a marriage or funeral.
Bush and his supporters are not members of the Greek Orthodox Church, said Karmash, hence they cannot be subjected to an official church ban.
“We hope that their respective churches, which condemn the current war, will strip Bush and his supporters from their church rights so that they become ostracised from their church as they have become ostracised by the humanitarian and international community,” pointed out the priest.
I would like to take this
opportunity to thank all
those who have helped me
along the way. In
other words, everyone
I've ever met, and many I
haven't. I believe
everyone who crosses our
path or our mind is there
for a reason, whether we