Thursday, March 13, 2008

US Federal Reserve injects $200 billion into credit markets to avert financial meltdown

US Federal Reserve injects $200 billion into credit markets to avert financial meltdown

By Barry Grey

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In the face of a mounting panic on US financial markets, the Federal Reserve Board on Tuesday announced it would lend major Wall Street investment banks up to $200 billion in Treasury bonds and accept as collateral mortgage-backed securities for which there are currently no buyers on the market.

The so-called "term securities lending facility" announced by the US central bank was coordinated with four other central banks—the European Central Bank, the Bank of England, the Bank of Canada and the Swiss National Bank.

Under the plan, the Fed will loan up to $200 billion of its more than $700 billion hoard of Treasury bonds for a period of 28 days, in effect vouching for the credit-worthiness of mortgage-backed assets that have plummeted in market value along with the collapse in US home sales and prices, and which otherwise would have to be written off as losses by the finance houses.

By accepting privately originated mortgage-backed securities—in the past the Fed had accepted only securities issued by the government-sponsored mortgage lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac—the US central bank agreed to take as collateral some $1 trillion in securities that previously would not have qualified.

In announcing the massive debt relief plan for Wall Street, the Fed said it was prepared to take further action if market conditions warranted, suggesting it would be willing to roll over the loans for additional 28-day periods.

Tuesday’s Fed action followed its announcement the previous Friday that it would expand its short-term loan program for the big commercial banks, the so-called "term auction facility" initially launched last December, from $60 billion to $200 billion.

Since August, when the collapse in the housing market led to a credit crunch, the US government has provided nearly $1 trillion in direct and indirect backing to financial firms in an attempt to unfreeze credit markets. At the same time, the Fed has slashed short-term interest rates five times, bringing them down from 5.25 percent to 3 percent. It is believed all but certain that the Fed will announce a further reduction in its federal funds rate of at least 0.5 percent when its policy-making committee meets again on March 18.

None of this, however, has resolved the massive crisis caused by the collapse of a housing bubble and credit bubble that were inflated in large part on the basis of sub-prime mortgage loans sold to home-buyers who lacked the financial means to sustain their mortgage payments.

Bankers, mortgage company executives, and speculators raked in huge profits and compensation packages on the basis of a vast pool of cheap credit backed by little more than the expectation that home prices would continue to rise forever. The resulting crash threatens a social catastrophe—with record home foreclosures and growing unemployment—and a financial breakdown of historical proportions.

The Fed’s action on Tuesday sparked a frenzied rally on US stock exchanges. Wall Street snapped a three-session losing streak—prompted in part by last week’s Labor Department report showing a net loss of 63,000 jobs in February—and share prices soared, led by financial sector stocks. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 416 points, its biggest one-day rise in five years.

However, credit markets remained more subdued, and the price of many forms of debt continued to fall, reflecting underlying anxiety about the solvency of major banks and financial institutions.

The Fed took its extraordinary action Tuesday in the hope that by temporarily relieving investment banks and brokerage firms of mortgage-backed assets that are losing value and depleting the firms’ capital, and placing the prestige of the Fed behind the tarnished securities, the Wall Street finance houses will be spurred to loosen their credit requirements and lend money more freely to other banks, companies and individuals.

However, Steven Romick, a partner at First Pacific Advisors in Los Angeles, told the Los Angeles Times, "It’s only a stay of execution. It gives them some time to work through their problems, but it doesn’t solve their problems. We believe this euphoria is temporary."

Press accounts provide some indication of the panic conditions that prompted the Fed’s move on Tuesday. Steven Pearlstein, the financial columnist for the Washington Post, wrote on Wednesday:

"But the real problem began in late February, as several of Wall Street’s biggest investment banks prepared to close their books for the quarter and realized they were looking not only at big declines in profit from issuance of new stocks and bonds and fees from mergers and acquisitions, but also at another round of write-offs in the value of their holdings. In response, the banks began to hunker down, instructing their trading desks to raise margin requirements for hedge funds and other customers, requiring them, in effect, to post more collateral on their heavy borrowings.

"Thus began a chain reaction in which hedge funds began selling what they could—largely mortgage-backed securities guaranteed by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Ginnie Mae—to raise cash to meet their new margin calls. That wave of forced selling drove down the price of those bonds, which prompted more margin calls and more forced selling. By the end of last week, the interest rate spread on those securities—the difference between their yield and that of risk-free US Treasury bonds—had jumped four, five, even ten times the normal rate.

"Among those caught up in the vicious cycle were hedge funds run by such blue-chip names as KKR and Carlyle Group, along with Thornburg Mortgage, a big mortgage lender. News of their troubles swept through Wall Street, heightening the sense of panic, as did rumors that Goldman Sachs was about to post big losses and Bear Stearns was about to run out of cash. Meanwhile, Lehman Brothers announced that it would lay off 5 percent of its staff in what was viewed by many as a first installment of a consolidation that would eventually eliminate 20 percent of the jobs on Wall Street. Analysts began to warn that financial-sector losses from mortgages, commercial real estate, failed takeover loans and other bad bets would reach as high as $1 trillion."

The New York Times described the situation as follows: "The main point of the effort on Tuesday was to prevent or at least slow down a chain reaction of forced selling on Wall Street. In recent days, market prices for seemingly safe debt had fallen so much that major financial institutions were being forced to put up more capital to secure their debt."

The Wall Street Journal provided an account Wednesday of the crisis atmosphere that attended the emergency consultations which led to the $200 billion initiative. "The Fed began considering its latest steps last week," the Journal wrote, "as credit jitters intensified. Fed officials finalized details on their plan on Sunday with foreign counterparts attending a meeting of the Bank for International Settlements, the Switzerland-based central bank for central bankers. The Fed’s policy-making Federal Open Market Committee met by videoconference for an hour and a half Monday night to approve the measures."

As these reports make clear, the Fed, far from pursuing a long-term, well considered strategic plan, is scrambling, along with its central bank counterparts internationally, to keep abreast of a rapidly widening and worsening economic crisis and contrive stop-gap measures to avert an immediate crash.

At the same time, the flood of liquidity being pumped into the credit markets is fueling inflation and further undermining the US dollar, creating the conditions for an even deeper and more protracted crisis. One sign of this process is the accelerating rise in crude oil prices. On Tuesday, crude oil futures soared above $109 a barrel, setting a new record.

Gold at $1,000 on Weak Dollar, High Oil

Gold at $1,000 on Weak Dollar, High Oil

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NEW YORK (AP) -- Gold futures hit $1,000 an ounce for the first time Thursday, pushed past the benchmark by the sinking dollar and record crude oil prices.

The dollar fell below 100 yen during Asian trading Thursday, its weakest level against the Japanese currency in 12 years. The dollar also dropped to all-time lows against the euro.

After reaching $1,001 on the New York Mercantile Exchange, gold for April delivery dropped slightly to $999.70 by midmorning Thursday.

The price still doesn’t match the all-time high of $850 in 1980, if that price is adjusted for inflation. An $850 ounce of gold then would be worth $2,177 in today’s dollars.

The $1,000 an ounce price, though, is still a milestone and a telling sign that investors are continuing to abandon the dollar.

Gold has been pushing up against the $1,000 an ounce mark for weeks, mainly because of the weaker dollar. Interest rate cuts -- and the prospect of more on the way -- have weakened the currency so much that foreign investors can buy dollar-based commodities like gold and oil more cheaply.

Crude oil futures hit a record high above $110 a barrel Thursday, after first crossing that level Wednesday, also due to investors abandoning the weak dollar.

Investors have been expecting gold futures to rise to $1,000 as they watched the dollar spiral lower, said Scott Meyers, senior trading analyst with Pioneer Futures, a division of MF Global. Gold has been steadily creeping closer to the record after rising nearly 32 percent in 2007.

The dollar’s decline and the boost in the price of oil price merely added the extra push.

"We’re getting a scenario where commodities are the place to be today," Meyers said. "With the weak dollar, it’s hard to be against them."

Meyers declined to speculate on how high gold could go, saying, "to pick a top is a foolish game to play at this juncture."

The Federal Reserve’s meeting next week could provide more encouragement for gold prices since the Fed is widely believed to be considering cutting interest rates again. Another rate cut could reduce the dollar’s value further, making gold an even better investment.

Dollar Trades at Record Low Versus Euro as Credit Losses Mount

Dollar Trades at Record Low Versus Euro as Credit Losses Mount

By Ye Xie and Bo Nielsen

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The dollar traded at a record low against the euro and close to the weakest level in 12 years versus the yen on concern that widening losses in credit markets may further crimp economic growth in the U.S.

The dollar yesterday fell below 100 yen for the first time since 1995 and declined to almost one-for-one with the Swiss franc. The tumble in the world's reserve currency drove gold to a record above $1,000 an ounce as investors sought shelter in the metal. The dollar traded above $1.56 per euro for a second day before a private report today that may show U.S. consumer confidence fell this month to the lowest in 16 years.

``We are having a vicious circle of liquidity crisis, lower asset prices and a weaker dollar,'' said Benedikt Germanier, a currency strategist at UBS AG in Stamford, Connecticut.

The dollar traded at $1.5642 per euro at 6:26 a.m. in Tokyo, after touching $1.5645 per euro yesterday, the weakest since the European currency's debut in 1999. The dollar traded at 100.47 yen, after touching 99.77 yen, the weakest level since October 1995. It slid to a record low of 1.0045 Swiss francs. The yen traded at 157.17 per euro.

The U.S. currency yesterday declined against a basket of six major trading partners to the lowest since the index began in 1973. The Dollar Index traded on ICE Futures in New York reached as low as 71.795. The dollar traded at $2.0332 per pound, touching the weakest since December.

`Measuring the U.S.'

The dollar's decline started after a Carlyle Group fund defaulted on $16.6 billion of debt. The group said lenders will seize the assets of its mortgage-bond fund, a day after Drake Management LLC said it may shut its largest hedge fund, spurring concern that losses will widen.

``The weakening, in reality, is a reflection on how the world is measuring the U.S.,'' said Thomas Sowanick, who helps manage $10 billion as chief investment officer of Clearbrook Financial LLC in Princeton, New Jersey. ``Until there is a unified central bank effort to support the dollar, the path of least resistance will be down.''

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson reiterated support yesterday for a ``strong dollar'' that reflects economic fundamentals.

Japan sold yen on the four occasions since 1995 when the currency approached 100 to support exporters including Toyota Motor Corp., the world's second-biggest automaker. The Bank of Japan sold 14.8 trillion yen ($148 billion) in the first three months of 2004, after record sales of 20.4 trillion yen in 2003.

`Short Trip'

The yen may rise as high as 95 per dollar, according to forecasts this month by Citigroup Inc., the third-biggest currency trader, Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., the fourth- biggest U.S. securities firm, and Mizuho Financial Group Inc., Japan's second-largest publicly traded bank. Deutsche Bank AG and UBS AG, the two biggest currency traders, had predicted the dollar would hold above 100.

The dollar's decline below 100 yen ``may be a very short trip,'' said Michael Woolfolk, a currency strategist in New York at Bank of New York Mellon Corp., in an interview on Bloomberg TV. The Bank of Japan ``will be there; we're not going to see 95'' yen.

The Bank of Israel yesterday said it bought foreign currency for the first time since 1997, causing the shekel to pull back from an 11-year high against the dollar. Brazil's government this week imposed a tax on foreigners' purchases of local debt on March 12 to slow a rally that has driven the real up 62 percent in the past three years.

The Group of Seven, which next meets April 12-13 in Washington, may signal its intent to consider coordinated intervention, UBS strategists wrote in a March 3 report. Unilateral intervention ``seems unlikely'' as Japan's economy has grown every year since 2002, it said.

Carry-Trade Exit

Central banks intervene in the foreign-exchange market when they buy or sell currencies to influence exchange rates.

The yen also gained as investors exited so-called carry trades, in which they borrow in a country with low interest rates and buy higher-yielding assets elsewhere, earning the spread between the two. The risk is that currency moves erase those profits.

Japan's benchmark rate of 0.5 percent compares with 3 percent in the U.S., 4 percent in Europe, 7.25 percent in Australia and 8.25 percent in New Zealand.

Carlyle Capital Corp., co-founded by David Rubenstein, said in a statement it defaulted on about $16.6 billion of debt as of March 12. Lenders will ``promptly'' take over all of its remaining assets and any remaining debt is expected ``soon'' to go into default, it said.

Falling Confidence

The yen has rallied 13 percent against the dollar as the Fed cut rates amid the worst housing slump in a quarter of a century and $190 billion of U.S. subprime-mortgage-related losses and markdowns at the world's biggest financial institutions.

The biggest job losses in five years and record fuel costs are eroding U.S. consumer confidence and spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of the economy. Lehman and JPMorgan Chase & Co. last week said the U.S. is headed into a recession.

A Reuters/University of Michigan's report today will probably show U.S. consumer confidence fell this month to the lowest in 16 years, according to the median forecast in a Bloomberg News survey.

``Dollar-yen is going lower,'' said Ray Farris, head of foreign-exchange strategy at Credit Suisse in London. ``It will definitely overshoot our 98 forecast in the very near term. Our forecast was for the dollar to reach 98 in three months. The big question now is whether there will be intervention.''

`Cheap' Yen

Japanese officials are unlikely to intervene now in the foreign-exchange market because the yen is ``cheap'' compared with other currencies, Eisuke Sakakibara, dubbed ``Mr. Yen'' when he was Japan's top currency official from 1997 to 1999, said in an interview on March 6.

The yen's real effective exchange rate, measured against 15 currencies of major trading partners including China, Europe and Canada, is 99.5, according to Bank of Japan figures. The rate averaged 121.9 in the first quarter of 2004, when the bank last intervened on behalf of the Ministry of Finance.

``The yen hasn't played its part in terms of dollar depreciation,'' said Tom Fitzpatrick, global head of currency strategy at Citigroup in New York. As carry trades unwind, ``we could find ourselves moving down toward 95 very, very quickly in the next couple of weeks.''

Fed takes boldest action since the Depression to rescue US mortgage industry

Fed takes boldest action since the Depression to rescue US mortgage industry

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The US Federal Reserve has taken the boldest action since the 1930s, accepting $200bn of housing debt as collateral to prevent an implosion of the mortgage finance industry and head off a full-blown economic crisis.

The Bank of England, the key European central banks, and the Bank of Canada all joined in a co-ordinated move with a mix of policies to halt the dowward spiral in the credit markets, expanding on the "shock and awe" tactics used late last year.

The Fed’s dramatic step came after an emergency conference call by governors on Monday night. It followed the melt-down of the US chartered agencies -- Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and other lenders -- which together guarantee 60pc of the entire US home loan market. Fannie Mae’s share price fell 19pc in panic trading on Monday after Barron’s magazine said it may need a rescue package.

"The agency crisis was a Tsunami event," said Tim Bond, global strategist at Barclays Capital.

"The market was starting to question the solvency of bodies that stand at the top of the credit pile. These agencies together wrap or insure $6 trillion of mortgages. They cannot be allowed to fail because it would cause a financial disaster. The fact that this sector has blown up has caught everybody’s attention in Washington," he said.

The Fed action set off a powerful relief rally, lifting the Dow Jones index over 340 points in early trading. Both US and European equities have been hovering .. support lines in recent days, threatening to break down through 18-month lows in a second, brutal leg to the bear market.

Stress indicators across almost all parts of the global credit system fell from extreme levels on the Fed news. The CDX and iTraxx Europe indexes that serve as a default barometer for corporate bonds retreated from record highs, although it is too early to judge whether the latest action will start to thaw the credit freeze. The stock market rally after the last central bank intervention in December fizzled out after just one day.

"This is not going to be enough," said Hans Redeker, currency chief at BNP Paribas.

"The Fed is doing absolutely the right thing by soaking up mortgage debt that nobody else wants. This will have an impact on spreads, but we’re seeing the deflation of a major bubble. The Fed is still going to have to cut interest rates by 75 basis points next week," he said.

It is a ground-breaking move for the Fed to accept mortgage collateral, even if the debt is theoretically ’AAA-grade’ debt. The Fed is not allowed to buy mortgage bonds outright, but it can achieve a similar effect by letting banks roll over collateral indefinitely. The European Central Bank is already doing this, shielding Dutch, Spanish, German, and some British banks from the full impact of the credit crunch.

The Fed is to create a new facility that allows banks to swap their mortgage bonds for US Treasuries. It is a well-targeted "sterilized" move to avoid adding fuel to inflationary fire. It follows the Fed’s separate pledge last Friday to add up to $200bn in liquidity.

The Bank of England also announced that it was widening the range of elligible collateral as it offers £10bn of three-month loans, saying pressures in the money markets "have recently increased again." The ECB and the Swiss have boosted swap agreements with the Fed to provide $30bn and $6bn respectively in dollar liquidity to their own lenders.

Bernard Connolly, global strategist at Banque AIG, said the Fed action may help calm the markets for now, but it cannot solve the root problem of eroded of bank capital.

"There is the risk of a very damaging credit contraction. We face the most serious global crisis since the Great Depression. But this time at least the North American central banks are doing their best to stop it spreading to the real economy," he said.

The emergency actions appear to have been co-ordinated by the Fed’s top two figures, Ben Bernanke and Donald Kohn, working closely with the Bank of Canada’s Mark Carney. "We should be thankful that we have people in charge who appreciate the gravity of the situation," said Mr Connolly.

The travails at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac -- once rock-solid institutions -- had combined in a deadly cocktail with a fresh wave of panic over the solvency of the investment banks with heavy exposure to sub-prime debt.

Bear Stearns was forced to deny reports that it was running out of capital and may seek Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The spreads measuring default risk on its debt rocketed from 246 to 792 on Monday.

Mr Bond said the mortgage agencies may ultimately need to be nationalized. Fannie Mae has already seen its stock price drop 70pc since October at a cost of $50bn in market value, even though it has an implicit federal guarantee. "There is going to have to be a very big bail-out," he said.

Plan To Spray Toxic Biological Chemicals Over San Francisco Announced

Plan To Spray Toxic Biological Chemicals Over San Francisco Announced

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People of the world, the US Government is planning to poison more than two million people, in California, using an untested biological "pesticide" this summer. The chemical to be sprayed is classified by the EPA as a "pesticide" and the plan is to douse cities with this chemical designed to stick on everything for 90 days or longer. This application is not a one time event, but will continue every 1-3 months for as long as five years. The pesticide to be sprayed is not designed to harm the light brown apple moth's who it is designed for, but merely to confuse its mating habits. While harmless to moths, the pesticide has been documented to harm humans.

Side effects range from vomiting and flu like systems, to male and female reproductive cycle disruption. One child nearly died from the exposure, and some people have developed asthma from being exposed to this chemical concoction. It is cause for alarm that a chemical being labeled as harmless and "safe" even in minute doses, causes severe health effects in some people. The government is racing to cover up and hide the dangerous health effects so that they can continue their aerial spray plans this summer. Your attention and action on this subject is needed in the most important way.

On January 24th, 2008, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Chuck Conner announced the availability of $74.5 million in emergency funding to combat the light brown apple moth (LBAM) infestation in California (1). President Bush's recent budget proposal sent to Congress sets aside $330 Million to eradicate plant pests, like the Light Brown Apple Moth. With crime, prison crowding, pollution, poverty, budget problems and the like, why should the government go through the effort to try to control the reproductive habits of a moth? While most people say the answer is money, a far more sinister plan seems to be at hand. It is unprecedented to design a long term plan to spray chemicals on people, which are untested for safety. This plan violates a myriad of state, federal and international laws.

On February 13th, 2008, the CDFA and USDA, in conjunction, announced their action plan for aerial spraying untested poison on people. This is from the CDFA Press Release "Aerial treatments are expected to begin June 1 in the infested areas of Monterey and Santa Cruz counties, with subsequent aerial treatments expected to begin August 1 in San Francisco, Daly City, Colma, Oakland, Piedmont, Emeryville, Albany, El Cerrito, El Sobrante, Tiburon and Belvedere. The treatments in these areas are designed to be reapplied at 30- to 90-day intervals while the moths are active." (4)

In late 2007, there were 643 documented health complaints (www.1hope.org/SPRAYCOMPLES.PDF) from the aerial spray program conducted in Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties. Keep in mind that this documentation is a mere fraction of the real health effects, as no legitimate effort was made to inform even doctors on how to recognize pesticide poisoning. Many doctors also refused to report suspected pesticide poisoning as required by law, and in order for a report to get officially filed, many times the patient had to insist upon it. These health injuries are not being honored in any way, because if they are honored, this sick chemical spray will be seen for what it is. It is a poison to many humans and likely to many other animals as well. I have a difficult time swallowing that a chemical compound designed to disrupt a moth's mating cycle can accidentally create reproductive health problems.

There are many who believe that this spray is not directed at the moth population which the government says is the goal of the spray, but rather that it is directed at humans. There is a growing body of evidence to support this claim, considering that the moth itself does not cause any crop damage. It is similar to the government deciding that we must eradicate all the ants, because ants cause millions of dollars of damage. Like ants, the light brown apple moth is a harmless pest. Another strange observation is the name of the mating disruption chemical Checkmate. In order to pull off the deployment of this biological chemical, a hoax, or reason for aerial spraying had to be created. That reason is called the Light Brown Apple Moth infestation. The second requirement to pull off releasing a massive chemical cloud of disease, is to trick people into believing it is safe. This whole aerial spray program depends on the belief that the chemicals to be sprayed are safe.

Since the chemicals planned to be deployed have never been sprayed over cities before, and are even being developed as I write, and thus have not been proven safe for humans, this is by the facts a large scale experiment. The question people should ask is, "why?" While it may be just coincidence, a recent article displays this headline: “Top-secret Livermore anti-germ lab opens.” (2) This same lab, has routinely exploded thousands of pounds of lethal, chemically toxic, and radioactive Depleted Uranium in the greater San Francisco Bay area’s air for the past fifty years (3).

When people hear about this aerial spray, many people experience a sinking feeling in the pit of their stomach. This is truly a sickening action. The government is willfully breaking countless laws in order to combat a stupid leaf rolling moth that curls up into the leaves of some plants and that doesn't cause any crop damage. It has not caused crop damage or embargo's in Hawaii over the past 100 years, so why would it cause damage in California?

No ounce of sanity can explain why the government must insist on violating countless laws to spray people with never before tested chemicals, except as to realize a deadly game is being played.

Unlike the horrible malathion spraying over 20 years ago, which was a one-time ordeal with chemicals that evaporate, this spraying is a time release microscopic device, which will be continuously applied, short of the winter months, for up to five years. Even five years of spraying will at best reduce slightly the moth population, as pest control experts explain that mating disruption technology is used as a small part of an overall pest management plan. Pretty much any pest control expert, except for those on the government take, will tell you that the light brown apple moth cannot be eradicated, and that even if it could, the mating disruption technology is not the best means to do it. Since aerial spraying is to be the sole method of controlling the light brown apple moth in many locations, then even after many years of spraying, the moth will still be alive. It is not sane to spray people with chemicals. That begs attention, there is not any hard evidence that the spray even works at all. In fact on the EPA's own website, there's an article about pheromones released from microcapsules, it states: "The studies show that only a small proportion of the microcapsules actually release any pheromone." (5)

This is now clear and reprehensible evidence of State and Federal Governments attempting to commit a large scale crime against the American people. Let us forget about supposed terrorists for a second whose propagandized images are placed on the television, and lets pay attention to this biological attack planned on our fellow neighbors. The presence of a minuscule pest, is no excuse to douse millions with chemicals. There are NO CROPS IN CITIES! So why are they going to spray cities?

This is a Cover-Up

The LBAM infestation is a monumental hoax designed as a cover for an operation of devious goals to expose people to dangerous chemicals over several years.

Following is a link to a recently published proposal of spray boundaries, the yellow lines indicating the proposed spray zones (www.hopefortruth.com/lbam_2008.jpg) . More than two million people who live in these and other targeted cities are scheduled to be exposed this summer to chemicals that that have never been tested on humans or animals before. Let me repeat: the government of the United States is conducting a human biological experiment, on a massive scale, breaking State, Federal and International laws. Children, pregnant women, and the sick and elderly will be most as risk to this increased exposure to long lasting chemicals. Chemicals which are newly designed, chemicals which have not been proven safe. Just like the reproductive health effects reported from the spray, it is important to realize that a large team of "experts" working on this project do not mistakenly douse people with chemicals. This is done on purpose, with a purpose.

Does it make sense to douse over two million people with literally hundreds of billions of microscopic balls of volatile chemicals over an extended period of time to try to limit the mating habits of a few thousand moths? Is it legal to do this? Is it ethical? Is it moral? Yet rather than halting the spray plans to investigate the damage it has done to many people, the spray plans continue to grow exponentially.

To see this insanity clearly, let's examine the moth population. In San Francisco County, 3,501 moths total have been trapped and killed over an eight month period. The entire city of San Francisco, whose population is 744,041, is in the proposed spray boundaries. About 744,000 people are to be exposed to 'never tested safe for humans, microencapsulated pheromones' for several years. This is really a needle in the haystack approach to pest control. Keep in mind, each moth found is a moth that has been trapped and exterminated (6). In Alameda County, 431 months have been found in the past 8 months out of 2,327 traps. The moth population in Alameda County is thus sparse at best. Just look out your window. Imagine how many insects are in the tree, the yard, or the local park. I have seen more than 431 ants crawl into my kitchen on a rainy day. So in a giant area of 141 square miles, and the tens or hundreds of millions of insects in that zone, to try to eradicate a few hundred moths by just spraying chemicals everywhere is both ludicrous and unsafe.

When I learned that Santa Cruz, my previous hometown was to be aerially sprayed, I was in a state of shock. This was followed by a long period of disbelief.

Apparently the CDFA or the USDA, or both, decided that the previous chemical formulas used, Checkmate LBAM-F and Checkmate OLR-F were not good enough, which really points to the fact that the past two aerial sprays in Monterey, and the one in Santa Cruz County, were a waste of time and money. Not to mention the tragedy of the many severe health reactions experienced by thousands of people from chemical exposure. It doesn't matter to those in charge at the CDFA, EPA, or USDA, if a new chemical is needed to be used, because the goal is not to stop the moth, the moth cannot be stopped, it can only be controlled. This is known. The goal may be to coat people with a toxic mesh of disease causing microcapsules.

The chemicals that were sprayed, and that are planned on being sprayed, have not undergone thorough safety evaluations. And they won't undergo such evaluations in a legitimate way, because if they did, they would prove only one thing - that these chemicals are potentially deadly.

The chemicals planned to be sprayed will no doubt be similar to the ones used in Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties in 2007. They are a plastic encapsulated microtechnology, a microscopic plastic dust. The reported microcapsule size of the aerial mating disrupter is as small as 10 microns and averages 25-35 microns in size for an undeployed moth spray. For comparison, a human hair is approximately 70 microns in thickness. The size of these chemical containing plastic balls comes suspiciously close to micro-sized particles that are used to evade the body's defensive systems for biological weapons, those are reported to be 3-4 microns in size. Miniature particles between 2.5-10 microns in size, especially from pesticides, are known to cause both short term and long term health effects, including decreased overall life span.

A University of California at Davis report confirmed that some unsprayed and undegraded microcapsules are indeed 10 microns in size. The small particle size explains the severe reactions, that I, along with countless others have had when being exposed to minute dosages of the chemical. Minute dosages of chemicals designed for moth's, advertised as harmless, do not accidentally make people sick. In other words, the people who designed these chemicals and manufactured them had to have an intimate understanding of what each chemical does, and how they react with each other. So, too, should the EPA have this understanding. It is not unreasonable to assume that a chemical designed to stop moths, that is being sprayed on humans, would have such drastic health effects, but it does. The only conclusion is that this is intentional in the design. Imagine someone designing a "safe" car. If this "safe" car had no brakes, then nobody would assume that the car accidentally had no brakes. Likewise, chemicals designed for moths, in minuscule doses, cannot accidentally harm people. It is more than just chance.

Again, nobody in the public as of yet knows how small the degraded microcapsules are, or how this will effect people in the short and long term, because no such testing exists. Once sprayed, these microscopic balls can easily enter deep into the mouth, eyes, skin and lungs. Even after 90 days and several rains, some people in Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties are still experiencing symptoms of spray poisoning. When they leave the counties, their symptoms many times abate. This aerial program is a real sword through the heart of democracy and decency. The government has really gone too far and it must be stopped now.

I must inform you that through a freedom of information request, a local newspaper has learned that the CDFA has hired media spin doctor extraordinaire Porter Novelli at the tune of almost $500,000 tax payer dollars to convince the public that it is okay for the state to dump chemicals all over them, their gardens, their pets, and their neighbors. The state of California is in a budget crisis, and this is one example that explains why. Here the state is using tax payer dollars to lie to and mislead the public, to try to convince the public that the state should be spending millions of dollars of resources on polluting the air, sea, and land with chemicals that the public in general does not want or need. Since a majority of spray funding is coming from the federal arm, know that your tax paying dollars are going to a government sponsored large scale crime.

Originally, the USDA announced that the moth might cause $100 million in crop damage if allowed to multiply. Then they keep expanding their figures to create false reasons to justify this unethical chemical assault. The most recent estimate of LBAM damage is $160 million to $640 million just in California. Mind you this moth has a hard time finding its way into crop fields and seems for some very bizarre reason to live only in cities. The estimate of this level of crop damage is absurd. The figures used to estimate the damage came from one particular year in Australia and have little meaning in California, as the climate is different. Even if this $160 million crop loss did come true, one has to consider that $90 million has now been ear marked to contain the moth, primarily the funds are for aerial spraying chemicals on cities which contain people, and not crops like apples, oranges and grapes. One expert estimates that if the CDFA stays on this track, by the time the aerial treatment is complete after five years, close to $500 million will be spent on aerial eradication. With little to no impact on the apple moth population.

The pheromone being used, (E)-11-Tetradecen-l-y Acetate is identical to pheromone's which many native moths and perhaps other species also contain. So this spray will effect other non-target species. The pheromone only represents between 10-20% of the ingredients of the aerial spray.

Now, organizations like the Breast Cancer Fund, Center For Environmental Health, Calpirg, and the Sierra Club are issuing statements opposed to aerial spraying.

What to Expect Next

The CDFA, USDA, and EPA will do anything and everything to convince, lie, cajole and get people to agree with the plan to spray chemicals. The facts of this situation are irrelevant to those in charge because the goal is to spray people, not to operate under the laws of this constitutional government of checks and balances. They are going to go to meetings, pretend it is safe, have doctors testify it is safe, pretend to listen to the public, ignore any health complaints, and try to lull people into complacency on the matter. They have even gone as far as promising an environmental review, which will contain a giant pile of documents again to try to prove that it is okay to spray people with chemicals. The CDFA will continue to find more moth finds, and create more fake evidence of how much harm the moth will do. They will get more money from Mr. Bush's pesticide funds and continue to enlarge their aerial spray program. Strangely the moth will continue to spread, finding its way into other cities, and in the coming years, cities like Los Angeles and San Diego will be targeted.

Knowing that the government is actively lying, hiding evidence, manipulating the public, and that they are spraying chemicals illegally on people should be enough evidence to convict these felons under Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) laws.

Freeing Yourself From the Government's Pro Spray Propaganda

These 643 health injury reports represent a fraction of the real injuries. The actual spray has surely caused thousands to be poisoned from this biochemical formulation. See my related article (www.naturalnews.com/022434.html) . Despite these reports which include 330 official illness claims filed with the CDFA, the CDFA states the following lies on their website, “Pheromones are extremely safe” and “Public safety is the primary concern.” The statement that pheromones are safe is a misleading distorted truth. Sure, pheromones can be safe when used responsibly, for example a benign moth sticky trap in an apple orchard (away from people) that contains pheromones to attract the moths. But when you create a microscopic biodegradable ball of volatile chemicals, and then place within it a synthetic moth pheromone, which itself is described as an explosive chemical, you have more of a drug which can interact and create changes within the human body, than a pesticide. Furthermore, no thorough investigation has been done of these 330 official illness complaints, and some of these people have not yet recovered. And a further investigation won't be done, because a legitimate investigation would find that the spray made people sick, and thus, the aerial spray program would be halted.

One must realize that any documentation regarding the safety of pheromones reported is from non-aerial applications, such as a moth sticky trap that is scented with pheromones and stuck on a tree, or a pheromone laced twist tie applied to apple orchards or vineyards. These safety assertions also do not relate to the aerial method of application. A sticky trap laced with pheromones is a different entity than a microscopic ball that can easily enter the body and then biodegrade and release chemicals within the body. Part of the less dangerous aspect to pheromone laced traps is the fact that the pheromone is so volatile that it rapidly evaporates, so the chemical won't travel too far. The microcapsules are the opposite, they are designed to stick around in the air for months. They are infinitely more dangerous than sticky traps, and you cannot really compare them. It's like saying that a tank is the same as a motorcycle because they are both vehicles. Microcapsulated pheromones are a different beast than pheremone laced moth traps.

The newly designed chemicals, which are scheduled for June and August deployment will not have their ingredients disclosed to the public. We do not even know what this stuff is? How can the government say the chemicals are safe, and then hide the ingredients from scrutiny? If these chemicals are so safe why not tell us honestly what they are? Clearly the intention of the CDFA, USDA, and EPA, is to cover up the real nature of this biochemical assault. They are trying to hide what they do from the public’s eye. They do not want you to know the truth. The truth is people get sick. Not everybody gets sick from the moth spray, but many people do. Its effects can be strong and violent. The truth is, the US Government is a vehicle being used to poison us.

The CDFA reports that they want their newest moth weapon deployed this summer, to be even longer lasting, which to me means that the microcapsules will be even more dangerous, possibly indefinitely sticking in the environment, and irritating people’s sensitive ducts and glands; much like allergies from pollen. In each aerial application, spray planes are contracted through Dynamic Aviation (www.dynamicaviation.com/home.htm) , which has other specialties beyond aerial application of pesticides. They also do “Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance.” The spraying is conducted at a height of between 500-800 feet and residents in the sprayed area report feeling like they are in a war zone. Once in contact with residential neighborhoods, parks, and playgrounds, the balls slowly disintegrate over time. The hope is that during this time, they release pheromones and limit the moth's mating patterns. Again, this is a whimsical hope because no legitimate studies exist proving this new technology is effective at either releasing pheromones, or at stopping the moth's mating habits.

Typically a drug takes many years for the Food and Drug Administration to approve for safety for humans. Under an emergency declaration, the EPA can exclude new chemicals from rigorous testing. The catch to this exception is that these laws were designed for agricultural emergencies and are being violently misused because they are planning on spraying large urban populations and not agricultural zones. These laws cannot lawfully apply to cities. Among other things, we have legal control and authority of our bodies, and our properties. We can say "No" to the spray, and if necessary, defend ourselves from this highly toxic assault. The EPA and USDA have flagrantly crossed legal and ethical boundaries by applying laws designed for agricultural fields to densely inhabited city centers.

Further, consider that the testing of these chemicals is not done to make sure that it is safe for humans, as the safety is merely an untested assumption. As an example, it took several months after the first aerial spray of Monterey County for the CDFA to pay the University of California Davis to see if the Checkmate formula was toxic to certain very small ocean insects. It took several months for this first test of the Checkmate formula to be conducted. This test only happened after the chemical was sprayed on well over two hundred thousand people. The testing being conducted in New Zealand is not to ensure safety for humans, but to see if the mating habits of the moths are disrupted. This spraying is illegally approved by the EPA because Congress passed legislation to legally prevent the EPA from conducting human experiments. “EPA's rules make it clear that all pregnant women, all nursing women, and all children are excluded from all studies involving intentional exposure that are intended for submission under the pesticide laws.” (www.epa.gov/oppfead1/guidance/human-test.htm) If the EPA cannot test pesticides on pregnant women, nursing women, and children, then under what jurisdiction and authority can they simply endorse and approve the exposure of pregnant women, nursing women and children with untested pesticides?

How many more children do we need to see poisoned by these indefensible government actions until we wake up and say, enough! How many more of our friends, relatives and neighbors do we need to see develop chronic health conditions due to exposure to aerially sprayed chemicals until we take effective action to stop this insanity? How much longer are we going to allow the government that is created for the people, to represent the people, to break its own laws and poison its own people and then disregard any reported health concerns?

I call for the arrest and trial of the appropriate employees in the CDFA, EPA, and USDA, for conspiring to poison people of the State of California, for lying and deceiving the public, and for polluting our environment.

Here's How I Suggest You Take Action:

* Share this information with your friends and neighbors.

* Ask your California representative to support the following bills -

1) AB 2765, (Huffman) sets new limits on the emergency powers of the Department of Agriculture.

2) AB 2763 would enact the Invasive Pest Planning Act of 2008, by Assemblymember John Laird.

3) AB 2764 (Hancock) will prohibit the Secretary of Food and Agriculture from approving the
application of a pesticide in an urban area, unless the Governor has proclaimed a state of
emergency.

4) AB 2760 (Leno) would require the completion of an EIR before any pesticide could be applied in
an urban area.

Also, State Senator Carole Migden plans to file for a moratorium on aerial spraying.

* Don't be fooled when the CDFA says that the “pheromone” is safe. I have been poisoned myself by these microcapsules, and so has my family, it is a terrible feeling. Ask for test results to show it is safe for humans, you'll see they have none.

* Demand accountability. Ask your local California representative why they are continuing to allow the state to spray chemicals on people, even though the state has laws, like the state constitutional right to personal safety, and legislative laws such as the California Environmental Quality Act, meant to prevent such actions. Your state representative can amend or modify the LBAM law that went into affect that gave the CDFA the unanimous green light to eradicate the apple moth. Surely your representative does not support aerial spraying? Each county has to have their local agricultural commissioner or someone to that effect to sign a permit to allow the state to spray. Stop these people from signing the permit!

* State and Federal representatives can also design an independent committee to come up with non-biased recommendations. The CDFA created such a working group, but they strangely seem to believe that aerial spraying people to stop moths from mating is a good idea.

* Gather your local city council members' support. Use local resources to conduct research, and file lawsuits against the state.

* Ideally the city attorneys and mayors should file legal suits against CDFA, the EPA and the USDA for polluting the air and water, for violating State and Federal laws, and for planning to create large scale poisoning.

* Contact your US Senate and House Representatives, and ask them to stop or at least investigate federal funding from the USDA for the aerial spray program. Federal officials can also declassify this tiny moth from a class A pest. Ask them to strengthen protections so that populations cannot be aerially sprayed unless there is a grave and immediate danger to public health.

* Additional Note: If the aerial spray does occur, take samples. Put a turkey baster-sized aluminum tray in your back yard. Put the tray out on the night prior to the aerial spray, and another on the night of the aerial spray. Seal each tray well. Each city should organize its own tests of the chemicals, including tests for biological agents, contaminants, radioactive substances, and a microscope analysis to see how big the microcapsules are, and to see if the microcapsules contain miniature microcapsules. Analysis ideally should also include a detailed chemical profile of the substance sprayed, since the government won't tell us what it is.

Finally, the way I see it, it is a crime to poison children and our fellow people who live in California. Just because the people who are polluting and poisoning the air with chemicals work for the government, should not make them immune to criminal liability and prosecution. Unfortunately, no city officials, yet, have the decency and standards to attack this matter for what it is, a crime. Crimes require criminal investigations, and criminal charges.

People can be alarmed, and if cities take equitable action, we do not need to be afraid. For example, we pay taxes so we can have a fire and police department to protect ourselves from crimes. Why not use the police force to protect residents from government sponsored crimes? Many of the actions of the CDFA fall under the category of illegal activities. The police force are the people on the local level, given the right and authority to protect people from crimes.

The media creates a false fear about some hypothetical terrorist releasing chemical weapons in the United States. Meanwhile, the US government is doing something very similar, releasing potentially deadly chemicals on its population, for no good reason.

I pray for grace for everyone, so that people in the proposed spray zones remain safe from harm, and that those who are inspired to take action to stop this be inspired to act effectively, with humility, strength and compassion.

Take Action

In Santa Cruz and Monterey, local residents have started the California Alliance to Stop the Spray (CASS). This alliance is developing evidence and documentation to stop the aerial spraying for the Light Brown Apple Moth. Just because this alliance is formed, does not mean the moth spray will be stopped. Each area needs to form their own groups, and work together to defeat the real pest, State and Federal governments who are performing illegal operations.

Important websites were you can learn more and take action include:

(www.lbamspray.com) – On the right hand column of this website is a portal to CASS. You can find many ways to participate and help the cause. Also this contains the most relevant information. In the CASS section of the site, there are resources and people you can contact.

(www.hopefortruth.com) – My LBAM site.

(www.1hope.org/chkmate.htm) – Lots of documentation and recent news postings.

(www.dontspraycalifornia.org)- Related website against pesticide spraying.

For those who are taking community action, two generous people have volunteered to provide further resources:

Roy Upton, California Alliance to Stop the Spray (CASS)
831-461-6317, herbal@got.net

Bonnie Keet, California Alliance to Stop the Spray (CASS)
bonnie619@yahoo.com

When Governor Schwarzenegger says he supports the health and welfare of children, he is lying to you. Governor Schwarzenegger supports biochemical spraying which has been documented to cause life-threatening harm to some children.

Call Governor Schwarzenegger and tell him what you think of his policies.
Voice: (916) 445-2841 2841 (press #1, #5, #0)
Fax: (916) 445-4633

Alert Senator Diane Feinstein
San Fransisco Office - (415) 393-0707

Alert Senator Barbara Boxer
San Fransisco Office - (415) 403-0100

Alert Democracy Now!
They want to hear our stories, (http://www.democracynow.org/contact?to=1)

As a final addendum, many people have written to me about mosquito fogging, about chemtrails, and about large scale chemical sprayings which occur in the United States unmonitored in more rural areas. While my article does not address these concerns, those concerns are valid. The government cannot ethically, legally, or morally expose, or allow for the exposure of people needlessly to chemicals. There are volumes of evidence about how chemicals in our food, water and air can cause short and long term health effects. Your concern about chemical exposure is vital. Listen to it!

References:

1. ((www.usda.gov/wps/portal/!ut/p/_s.7_0_A/...)

2. ((http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.c...)

3. ((http://www.mytown.ca/ev.php?URL_ID=1221...)

4. ((www.cdfa.ca.gov/egov/Press_Releases/Pre...)

5. ((http://www.epa.gov/fedrgstr/EPA-PEST/19...)

6. ((www.aphis.usda.gov/plant_health/plant_p...)<

Congo Resource Wars

Congo Resource Wars

By Andrew G. Marshall

Go To Original

This report examines the current war and genocide in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which started in the mid-1990s, placing emphasis on the roles of Western covert operations, corporations and the plundering of resources that has resulted.

War in the Congo

King Leopold’s War for Rubber

Nearly 125 years ago, during the beginning of the European ’Scramble for Africa’, European empires competed with each other to take over Africa and plunder it for its resources. The King of Belgium at the time, King Leopold II, sought to take control over the Congo, as during the time,DR Congo Map "the demand for rubber increased dramatically," and the "Congo contained wild rubber trees which could be harvested immediately to meet the spiraling demand."[1] This was achieved by forcing African males to work by taking "their families hostage until a certain amount of rubber was harvested," and they would, "chop off the hands of Africans who failed to meet their quotas or who resisted European demands for more rubber." All of this resulted in "up to 10 million people [who] died through a combination of murder, starvation, exhaustion, disease and a plummeting birth rate."[2]

The Congo Civil War: 1996-1998

In 1996, two years after the massive killings in Rwanda, a new conflict arose, which today is still ongoing, and has in the last 12 years resulted in millions of deaths. The Congo, which before went by the name Zaire, was invaded in 1996 by Rwandan troops under the orders of Tutsi President Paul Kagame. He argued "that the Hutus across the border posed a threat to Rwandan security."[3] Kagame’s army, "massacred thousands of Hutu noncombatants who had taken refuge in The Congo when Kagame came to power" in Rwanda. Burundi, which also had a Tutsi government, and Uganda sent troops in 1997 to aid a Congolese rebel group under Laurent Kabila, who was attempting to overthrow Zaire’s dictator, Mobutu Sese Seko."[4]

Installing a New Puppet

It was in 1997 that Mobutu was overthrown, which led to Kabila, a staunch US ally, being the new iron-fisted leader. In 1998, Kabila had Rwandan and Ugandan troops leave the Congo, however, Rwanda "again invaded, claiming that it needed to pursue Hutus threatening its security," and Uganda, too, invaded under the auspices of fighting Ugandan rebel groups which were based in the Congo.[5] Uganda and Rwanda wanted to control the Eastern Congo area along the borders of their countries, while Kabila looked to other African nations to aid in taking control of the entire country.

The West and the War

Financing Both Sides

It was at this time that the United States began funding both sides of the conflict, giving money to both President Kabila’s Congolese Army and the rival Congolese Rally for Democracy. Increased conflict destablized the country and has made it more susceptible to foreign influence and control.[6]

Covert Western Military Involvement

US Special Forces that had trained Kagame and the RPF, had, since 1994, taken on the task of training Kagame’s "Rwandan Patriotic Army" (RPA), in such tactics as, "counterinsurgency, combat, psychological operations, and instructions about how to fight in Zaire."[7] It was revealed that, "In August, before ordering the 1996 invasion, Kagame visited the Pentagon to get US approval," and that, "Rwandan and Ugandan troops who were trained at Fort Bragg [in the United States] participated in the 1996-97 invasions to topple Mobutu."[8] It was even reported that, "U.S soldiers (probably Special Forces) were sighted in the company of Rwandan troops in Congo on July 23 and 24, 1998 – about a week before the "official" [second] Rwandan invasion of Congo."[9]

King Leopold, Inc.

During King Leopold’s plunder of the Congo, "rubber-agents", acting on behalf of both the Belgian Empire and rubber interests, actively engaged in the mass murder, torture and abuse of Africans.[10] Modern day rubber-agents still exist. "Military contractor [Kellogg] Brown & Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton, reportedly built a military base on the Congolese/Rwandan border, where the Rwandan army has trained. Likewise, The Bechtel Corporation provided satellite maps and reconnaissance photos to Kabila so that he could "monitor the movements of Mobutu’s troops."

Bechtel is a very secretive contractor with individuals such as Reagan’s Secretary of State George Schultz on its board of directors, and as a legal counsel, former Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger.[11] It should be noted, that during this time, Dick Cheney was the CEO of Halliburton, which owned KBR. It was further corroborated by an independent human rights investigator that, "the Pentagon was directly involved, 1996-1998, along with the private U.S. military companies Military Professional Resources Incorporated, and Kellogg, Brown and Root (Halliburton)"[12]

Plundering the Resources

Profiting from Genocide

The Congo is extremely rich in natural resources. Rwanda, Uganda, and the West, have all struggled to profit from the Country’s wealth in part through destabilization campaigns.

Ugandan President, Yoweri Museveni’s brother, Salim Saleh, leased three airlines "to the Ugandan military to fly troops and supplies into Congo. With the cooperation of Ugandan army officers, Congolese rebel groups, and private entrepreneurs, Saleh ensured that the planes returned to Uganda loaded with gold, timber, and coffee." During the same time, though Rwanda had no diamond mines, "its diamond exports increased from 166 carats in 1998 to 30,500 in 2000."[13]

Courting Corporations

Congolese rebel leader Kabila, before becoming President, "sent a representative to Toronto early in 1997 to speak to mining companies about ’investment opportunities’," and, "In May 1997, American Mineral Fields (AMF) cut a $1 billion deal with Kabila immediately after his forces captured Goma." The negotiations were undertaken by "Kabila’s US-trained finance minister," who gave "AMF exclusive exploration rights to zinc, copper, and cobalt mines in the area. Mike McMurrough, a friend of US President Bill Clinton, was the chair of AMF."[14] Another large Western mining interest is Barrick Gold Corporation, a Canadian mining company, whose board of directors includes such individuals as former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, Clinton adviser Vernon Jordan and had as an adviser to the company, George Herbert Walker Bush.[15]

Other corporate beneficiaries include Canada’s Heritage Oil and Gas, which "arrived with the Ugandan and Rwandan militaries when they invaded Congo in 1998," Citibank NY gave a $5 million loan to "the financial arm of RCD-Goma (the Congolese militia allied with Rwanda)," and, "As Rwanda and Uganda continued to enrich themselves with the plunder, they received praise from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank for increasing their gross domestic product."[16]

The Congo also has extensive petroleum reserves, as the first oil refinery in the Congo had its crude oil supplied by, "Shell, Mobil, Petrofina and Texaco," and, "Recent onshore exploitation near the refinery involves Total, Pan Ocean Energy (UK) and Addax Petroleum (Canada)."[17]

Genocide in the Congo

Keith Harmon Snow, an independent human rights investigator and war correspondent for Survivors Rights International, Genocide Watch and the United Nations, recently reported that in October 1996 there were at least 1.5 million Rwandan and Burundian refugees in eastern Zaire [Congo]. The full-scale invasion began more formally when the Rwandan Patriotic Army and Ugandan Patriotic Defense proxy forces shelled the refugee camps, killing hundreds of thousands in a "clear case of genocide."[18]

The same report also noted that the death toll in the Congo has reached heights matching the numbers of Belgian King Leopold’s genocide in the Congo over 100 years ago, with "more than 10 million dead in Congo since 1996, and millions more in Uganda and Rwanda." It attributed the deaths as being "the products of the Bush-Clinton-Bush administrations."[19]

Concluding Remarks

In April of 2001, Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney held a hearing on Western involvement in the plunder of Africa, in which she stated, "at the heart of Africa’s suffering is the West’s, and most notably the United States’, desire to access Africa’s diamonds, oil, natural gas, and other precious resources . . . the West, and most notably the United States, has set in motion a policy of oppression, destabilization and tempered, not by moral principle, but by a ruthless desire to enrich itself on Africa’s fabulous wealth."[20] It would appear King Leopold II is back in the Congo, or did he ever leave?


Notes

[1] Robert O’Brien and Marc Williams, Global Political Economy: Evolution and Dynamics. Palgrave MacMillan: New York, 2007: page 94

[2] Ibid, page 95

[3] Steven Hiatt, ed., A Game As Old As Empire: The Secret World of Economic Hit Men and the Web of Global Corruption. Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc: 2007, page 94

[4-5] Ibid

[6] Ibid, page 98

[7-9] Ibid, page 99

[10] Robert O’Brien and Marc Williams, Global Political Economy: Evolution and Dynamics. Palgrave MacMillan: New York, 2007: pages 94-95

[11] Steven Hiatt, Op cit, page 99

[12] Keith Harmon Snow, The War that did not make the Headlines: Over Five Million Dead in Congo? Global Research: January 31, 2008:
http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=7957

[13] Steven Hiatt, Op cit, page 95

[14] Ibid, page 99

[15] Ibid, pages 99-100

[16] Ibid, page 100

[17-19] Keith Harmon Snow, Op cit.

[20] John Perkins, The Secret History of the American Empire. Penguin Group: New York, 2007: page 257-258

Appalling Spread of False Information Requires Stronger Media Accountability

Appalling Spread of False Information Requires Stronger Media Accountability

By Mark Weisbrot

Go To Original

"A free press is supposed to function as our democracy's immune system against . . . gross errors of fact and understanding," wrote Al Gore in his book, The Assault on Reason. But it doesn't - as Gore explains -- and that is what makes the mass media one of the most important obstacles to social and economic progress in the 21st century.

How the media treats repeated falsehoods is a key issue. For example, when the New York Times reports on the allegation -- spread by his enemies -- that presidential candidate Barack Obama is a Muslim, there is a sentence that follows immediately: "In fact, he is a Christian. . ."

The media didn't do this kind of "immune system" work when it reported on the run-up to the Iraq war. As a result, more than 70 percent of Americans were convinced that Saddam Hussein was involved in the massacre of September 11. More than 4,000 Americans and over one million Iraqis have been killed in the violence that perhaps could have been averted with better journalism.

A 2008 study by the Center for Public Integrity, "The War Card: Orchestrated Deception on the Path to War," documents 935 false statements by President Bush and seven top officials of his administration. The report notes that "much of the wall-to-wall media coverage provided additional, 'independent' validation of the Bush administration's false statements about Iraq."

Filmmaker Michael Moore told CNN's Wolf Blitzer, "We're in the 5th year of this war because you, and CNN… didn't do your jobs back then and now here we are in this mess."

The mass media fails us on many issues other than war and peace. Most Americans under 50 think they are never going to see their Social Security benefits. In fact, the probability that they won't get their Social Security benefits is about the same as the chance that there won't be a U.S. government when they retire - pretty close to zero. The media could correct this widespread false belief by merely inserting a few undisputed facts about Social Security when reporting false statements from politicians and interest groups. For example: "Social Security is more financially sound than it has been throughout most of its 71-year history"; or "Social Security's projected shortfall over the next 75 years is less (as a percent of national income) than what was fixed in each of the following decades: 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s."

Millions of Americans are now "under water" on their homes -- that is, they owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth. The rate of mortgage delinquencies and foreclosures is breaking records, and has much further to go. Many of these personal financial tragedies could have been avoided had the media reported on the obvious risks of buying a house while a record bubble in house prices was ballooning. Instead, the number one media source on the housing market was David Lereah, then chief economist for the National Association of Realtors, and author of the book Why the Real Estate Boom Will Not Bust and How You Can Profit From It. Reporting on the stock market bubble of the late 90s was even worse.

Of course the media is not monolithic, and the TV media -- the main object of Gore's criticism -- tends to be worse than the print media. And some reporters break with current trends. In 2006 the New York TimesCenter for Economic and Policy Research (where I am Co-Director) as its most cited source on the housing market, and therefore was able to see the housing bubble before it broke. But it is surprising how uniform the major media is on many issues, given that there are competing news organizations. A herd mentality often prevails: journalists know that they will almost never get in trouble for reporting something that is wrong when everyone else is also saying it; but they do take a risk when they report something different, even if it is true. used the

Here in Washington, when one raises the issue of media responsibility, a common response - from policy analysts, political operatives, and journalists - is that the problem is with the American people, that they are just stupid. Interestingly, however, when one strays a bit from their own area of expertise or concentration, it appears that these professionals also believe a number of falsehoods on important issues -- apparently from having heard these things repeated in the media.

Of course the best counterweight to the media's transgressions is an informed and active citizenry. Part of the reason that the media treats Barack Obama more fairly than it treats Social Security is that Obama has millions of active supporters who would raise hell if the media were to engage in serious abuses of him or his candidacy.

Over the long run, we will need to subject the privately owned mass media to more competition. This will come increasingly from the Internet, but real competition will also require an expanded and better quality public media sector. But until this competition gets a lot bigger, it will be up to the citizenry to hold our highly concentrated media accountable as best we can.

House Committee Seeks Documents From FCC

House Committee Seeks Documents From FCC

Request Steps Up Probe of Agency's Management

By Cecilia Kang

Go To Original

A congressional investigation of alleged mismanagement at the Federal Communications Commission intensified yesterday with a request for documents dating back three years.

In a letter, Rep. John D. Dingell (D-Mich.), chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, and other ranking members of the Subcommittee on Oversight asked FCC Chairman Kevin J. Martin to provide e-mails, memos, handwritten notes and meeting schedules. The subcommittee is probing how the agency conducted its open meetings, how it circulated items among the four other commissioners and how it put together reports, such as a controversial report on cable programming sales.

Dingell's office said the bipartisan investigation has broadened in scope since it was launched last December.

"Based on the information we've collected so far, this document request represents the areas that we believe warrant further investigation," Dingell said.

Martin, who took over the agency in March 2005, has been criticized for his secretive style and has been accused by some sources within the agency of delaying items or dragging out meetings to push through his own agenda.

Martin, who is in Thailand, for the International Telecommunication Union's annual symposium, was not available for comment. Mary Diamond, an FCC spokeswoman, said in response to the letter: "We look forward to continuing to cooperate with the committee."

Rebecca Argobast, an analyst at Stifel Nicolaus, said although such inquiries are fairly common for agencies when there's a change of control in Congress, yesterday's letter seemed to detail more concerns than usual.

"This is really substantive and will really slow things down at the agency and be a burden for them," Argobast said.

Since the launch of the investigation, Martin has conducted monthly meetings with the news media, where he has publicly outlined items on the agenda.

The FCC has two weeks to produce the documents requested. Issues of concern to the House subcommittee include the agency's consideration of an audit of telecommunications carriers and a report on "a la carte" pricing for cable channels, which Martin supports. The letter also requests documents regarding several media-ownership studies produced by the agency.

Also requested: records on all hires and personnel reassignments since Martin took over as chairman and all five commissioners' schedules and travel records.

The allegations under investigation "relate to management practices that may adversely affect the commission's ability both to discharge effectively its statutory duties and to guard against waste, fraud and abuse," the members said in the letter.

Pentagon cancels release of controversial Iraq report

Pentagon cancels release of controversial Iraq report

Warren P. Strobel

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WASHINGTON — The Pentagon on Wednesday canceled plans for broad public release of a study that found no pre-Iraq war link between late Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and the al Qaida terrorist network.

Rather than posting the report online and making officials available to discuss it, as had been planned, the U.S. Joint Forces Command said it would mail copies of the document to reporters — if they asked for it. The report won't be posted on the Internet.

The reversal highlighted the politically sensitive nature of its conclusions, which were first reported Monday by McClatchy.

In making their case for invading Iraq in 2002 and 2003, President Bush and his top national security aides claimed that Saddam's regime had ties to Osama bin Laden's al Qaida terrorist network.

But the study, based on more than 600,000 captured documents, including audio and video files, found that while Saddam sponsored terrorism, particularly against opponents of his regime and against Israel, there was no evidence of an al Qaida link.

The study comes at a difficult time for the Bush administration. The fifth anniversary of the Iraq war is approaching on March 19, and Bush is attempting to hold support for a continued large U.S. troop presence there following a report from his on-the-ground commander, Army Gen. David Petraeus, in early April.

Navy Capt. Dennis Moynihan, a spokesman for the Norfolk, Va.-based Joint Forces Command, said, "We're making the report available to anyone who wishes to have it, and we'll send it out via CD in the mail."

Moynihan declined further comment.

Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman, referred questions to Joint Forces Command.

An executive summary of the study says that Saddam's regime had interaction with terrorist groups, including Palestinian terror organizations and some pan-Islamic groups.

But "the predominant targets of Iraqi state terror operations were Iraqi citizens, both inside and outside of Iraq," says the summary, posted online by ABC News.

That confirms what many experts on Saddam's Iraq have long argued: that his security services were dedicated mainly to fighting threats to his rule.

The summary says that Saddam's secular regime increased cooperation with — and attempts to manipulate — Islamic fundamentalists after the 1991 Persian Gulf War, despite being leery of the Islamists. Iraqi leaders "concluded that in some cases, the benefits of associations outweighed the risks," it says.

Bush Signals Intent to Force Vote in Congress This Year on Colombian Trade Deal

Bush Signals Intent to Force Vote in Congress This Year on Colombian Trade Deal

By Steven R. Weisman

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Washington - The Bush administration signaled Wednesday that it would defy the wishes of Congressional Democrats and force a vote this year on a free trade agreement with Colombia, hinting that it would try to gain support for the pact by stoking fears of anti-American sentiment in the region.

"The Colombia agreement is pivotal to America's national security and economic interests right now, and it is too important to be held up by politics," President Bush told an audience of Hispanic business leaders here. "There needs to be a vote on Colombia this year."

By itself, the Colombia pact would not have a major impact on trade, but it has become one of the administration's international economic priorities, along with other deals with Panama and South Korea. But all these accords have stalled amid skepticism in Congress and among many other Americans.

In his talk to the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Bush cited recent disputes with President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, whom the United States and Colombia accuse of aiding insurgents and narcotics traffickers in Colombia. Passing the deal will support "freedom and peace" in the area, he said.

The Colombia agreement was negotiated in 2006 but never formally submitted to Congress. Once it is submitted, Congress has 90 business days to vote it up or down. The administration says that it must submit the deal soon for a vote to take place this year.

But Democrats in Congress say there are not enough votes to pass the pact, in part because of opposition by labor and environmental groups. Both Democratic presidential candidates, Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and Barack Obama of Illinois, oppose the deal.

The trade pact would open new markets for American farm goods, machinery, organic chemicals and plastics. Trade between the United States and Colombia came to $18 billion in 2007. The United States imports grains, cotton and soybeans from Colombia, much of it duty-free under temporary accords.

Critics worry that the deal would lead to more American companies' transferring their manufacturing to Colombia and the loss of jobs at home.

The administration has flown dozens of lawmakers, including many Democrats, to Latin America in recent months and made some headway in gaining support. An effort has also been made to win over Democratic mayors and governors whose constituents might benefit from more exports to Latin America.

But Democrats in Congress say that the administration should not try for a vote without first working out a package of aid to Americans thrown out of work by the influx of imports. Neither side rules out the possibility of such a "trade adjustment assistance" package in coming months, despite the partisan election-year atmosphere.

The House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, warned Mr. Bush on Wednesday not to submit the Colombia deal without a trade adjustment package or signs of further progress in cracking down on violence against labor organizers in Colombia.

"The Colombia agreement is controversial on its merits," Ms. Pelosi said. "Forcing the agreement on Congress, without the consent of the leadership, will only make it more so."

Administration officials say that if the Colombia deal is to be passed this year, they cannot afford to wait for a consensus before submitting it. They hope that actually submitting the deal and starting the 90-day clock will compel both sides to reach an agreement.

"We're telling the Democrats that we're still going to work with you, but if you back us up against the wall, we have no choice but to submit the agreement to Congress," said an administration official, speaking anonymously in order to discuss tactics candidly.

Trade has become a hot issue in the presidential campaigns, with Senator John McCain of Arizona, the presumptive Republican nominee, attacking Senators Obama and Clinton for their skepticism about, and outright opposition to, current and future trade deals.

Both Democrats have called for a renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada, approved in the 1990s with the support of President Clinton. Mr. Bush offered a jibe at the Democrats, warning that any such renegotiation would bring new demands on the United States that could shut down trade.

Mr. Bush specifically criticized Senator Clinton, though not by name, for calling for a "timeout" on future trade accords.

"You know, they toss out the word 'timeout from trade,'" he said. "It's got this kind of catchy little title to it." But he said a pause would lead to "a timeout from growth, a timeout from jobs and a timeout from good results."