Monday, June 9, 2008

Oil Prices Could Spur Global Recession

G8 Ministers Vow New 'Green' Efforts

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Faced with record-high oil prices, the world's leading economies and oil consumers have pledged greater investment in energy efficiency and green technologies to control their spiraling thirst for petroleum.

In a joint statement, energy ministers from the Group of Eight countries - joined by China, India and South Korea - also urged oil producers to boost output, which has stalled at about 85 million barrels a day since 2005, and called for cooperation between buyers and producers.

But with little prospect for a production surge soon, the focus of Sunday's meeting in Japan was on what wealthy nations should do to rein in consumption, while reducing carbon emissions blamed for global warming.

"We also have to address too the demand side of the equation," said John Hutton, Britain's business secretary. "We will do that through new measures to improve energy efficiency (and) accelerate our moves to a new, low-carbon form of energy generation."

The 11 nations account for 65 percent of the world's energy consumption and face record-high oil costs. Prices gained 8 percent Friday to US$138.54 on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Energy experts say most producers have little ability to expand output. The exception is Saudi Arabia, which could increase output by about 2 million barrels a day.

The president of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, Chakib Khelil, has said that the cartel will make no new decision on production levels until its September 9 meeting in Vienna.

The nations meeting Sunday said they would set goals in line with International Energy Agency recommendations for a vast expansion of investment in renewable energies and energy efficiency.

For instance, the G8 countries - the United States, Japan, Russia, Germany, France, Britain, Italy and Canada - pledged to launch 20 demonstration projects by 2010 on so-called "carbon capture and storage," which would let power plants run on cheap, abundant coal, then catch emissions store them under the ground.

But there were clear rifts on another technology promoted by some as an answer to oil dependence: nuclear energy. VideoWatch ministers from top industrial nations grapple with rising oil prices.

The carefully worded joint statement called for assurances on safety and security of nuclear materials.

The United States, Canada and Britain said they were determined to build new reactors. Japan also has ambitious nuclear goals.

But Germany said it has not changed its decision to phase out nuclear power.

The ministers met amid rising concerns over soaring oil prices.

"The situation regarding energy prices is becoming extremely challenging," warned Akira Amari, Japan's trade and energy minister. "If left unaddressed, it may well cause a recession in the global economy."

Wealth Evaporates as Gas Prices Clobber McMansions

Wealth Evaporates as Gas Prices Clobber McMansions

By Rich Miller and Matthew Benjamin

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Sky-high gasoline prices aren't just raising the cost of Eugene Marino's 120-mile (193-kilometer) round-trip to his job in the Washington area. They're reducing his wealth, too.

House prices in his rural subdivision beyond the Blue Ridge Mountains in Charles Town, West Virginia, have plunged as commuting expenses have soared. A four-bedroom home down the street from his is listed for $239,000, after selling new for $360,000 five years ago.

Homeowners in the exurbs aren't the only ones whose assets have taken a hit because of the surge in energy costs. Companies such as General Motors Corp. are writing off billions of dollars in plants and equipment that are no longer viable in an age of dearer oil. The destruction of wealth and capital will weigh on U.S. growth for years to come.

‘‘Our whole economy reflects the relative costs of energy: the cars we drive, the houses we occupy, the kinds of factories we have and the equipment in them,'' says Dana Johnson, chief economist at Comerica Bank in Dallas. ‘‘I'm expecting relatively large changes in all of these things.''

The loss of wealth could be a double whammy for the U.S. economy. In the short run, it depresses demand as homeowners save more and spend less, and companiesIND' ))"> fire workers. Longer run, it curbs IND' ))">productivity growth, as firms shift their focus from increasing worker efficiency to reducing energy costs.

$4 a Gallon

The national average price of regular gasoline topped $4 a gallon (3.79 liters) for the first time, AAA, the largest U.S. motoring club, reported yesterday.

‘‘At $4 per gallon gas, $125 per barrel oil and $10 per million Btu natural gas, a lot of activity becomes uneconomical,'' says Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's in West Chester, Pennsylvania.

The lifestyle of the exurban commuter may be one casualty.

Emerging suburbs and exurbs -- commuter towns that lie beyond cities and their traditional suburbs -- grew about 15 percent from 2000 to 2006, nearly three times as fast as the U.S. population, as Americans moved further out in search of more affordable houses or the bigger ones that are sometimes derided as McMansions.

‘‘It was drive until you qualify'' for a mortgage, says Robert Lang, director of the Metropolitan Institute at Virginia Tech in Alexandria, Virginia. ‘‘You can't do that anymore. Your cost of transportation will spike too much.''

The 38-year-old Marino, an archeologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is among those feeling the pinch. ‘‘Eating out and discretionary income are a thing of the past for us,'' he says.

Declining Value

He reckons he once could have sold his 2,700 square-foot (250 square-meter), four-bedroom house for around $450,000 based on the value of other homes in the neighborhood. Now he figures it's worth about $330,000. IND' ))">Gasoline prices have doubled his commuting costs since he bought his home in 2003, he says.

‘‘Gas prices are really hurting demand here,'' says Celia Lainez, a broker at Keller Williams Rice Realty in Martinsburg, West Virginia. She says she has yet to receive a bid on the house down the street from Marino's, which has been on the market for five months.

Nationwide, home prices in neighborhoods with long commutes and no public transportation are falling faster than prices in communities closer to cities, according to a study by Joseph Cortright, an economist at Impresa Consulting. For example, his study found that prices in distant suburbs of Tampa fell 14 percent in the last 12 months, versus a 9 percent drop in areas nearer the city.

Suburbs, Exurbs

‘‘The decline in almost every case is worse in the suburbs and exurbs than it is in close-in neighborhoods because transportation costs are so much more of a factor,'' says Cortright, whose Portland, Oregon, firm studies regional economies.

Americans are trying to cope by switching from gas-guzzling trucks and sport-utility vehicles to more energy-efficient cars. Asian automakers outsold Detroit's Big Three in the U.S. for the first time last month as buyers left GM and Ford Motor Co. trucks on dealer lots in favor of Honda Civics and Toyota Corollas.

‘‘This is a fundamental change,'' Ford Chief Executive Officer Alan Mulally told reporters last month. The Dearborn, Michigan-based company plans to temporarily idle its Wayne, Michigan, SUV plant and cut production at its Louisville, Kentucky, pickup-truck facility.

Drastic Steps

Detroit-based GM is taking more drastic steps. It plans to close four North American pickup and large-SUV factories, cutting capacity by 700,000 trucks a year, and may sell its Hummer SUV brand, which averages about 13 miles per gallon (5.5 kilometers per liter) in city driving and 18 on the highway, according to government data.

The largest U.S. automaker is responding to ‘‘a structural change, not just a cyclical change,'' Chief Executive Officer Rick Wagoner said before the company's annual meeting June 3. Gasoline prices are up 31 percent this year and have doubled since March 2005.

Dennis Virag, president of the Automotive Consulting Group in Ann Arbor, Michigan, says vehicle manufacturers will find it cheaper to shut factories than retool them.

‘‘Domestic automakers, in their infinite wisdom back in the 1980s and 1990s, built factories and tooled factories just to build trucks and SUVs'' like the Ford Explorer, the Chevrolet Suburban and the Ford F-150, Virag says. ‘‘So it's very likely you're going to see more plant closings.''

Airlines Retrenching

Airlines are also retrenching. More than a dozen have failed in the last six months, including Columbus, Ohio-based Skybus Airlines Inc. and Frontier Airlines Holdings Inc. of Denver.

UAL Corp., operator of Chicago-based United Airlines, the world's second-largest carrier, will cut its fleet by 70 planes and shut its low-fare Ted unit to counter record fuel expenses. The airline will ground about 64 Boeing Co. 737s and six Boeing 747s by the end of 2009.

Delta Air Lines Inc. in Atlanta is grounding 90 planes, and Fort Worth, Texas-based AMR Corp.'s American Airlines, the world's largest carrier, plans to reduce capacity on domestic routes by 12 percent.

‘‘Skyrocketing oil prices are changing everything,'' Giovanni Bisignani, chief executive officer of the International Air Transport Association, told the group's annual meeting June 2. ‘‘The situation is desperate.''

The association, whose members account for 93 percent of international traffic, forecasts that airlines may report combined losses of $6.1 billion this year, the worst since 2003.

‘Obsolete' Capital Stock

‘‘The change in energy prices makes a portion of the capital stock obsolete,'' says Richard Berner, co-head of global economics at Morgan Stanley in New York. ‘‘That will depress demand.''

He sees the U.S. economy growing at a sub-par 1.4 percent next year after expanding just 1 percent in 2008, held back by a variety of forces that include the destruction of capital resulting from the rise in energy prices.

Zandi at Moody's says permanently higher fuel costs will depress productivity growth during the next three to five years as companies retool to boost energy efficiency.

That's what happened in the 1970s, as successive oil shocks, coupled with increased environmental regulation and other factors, led to a sharp slowdown in productivity growth.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said in a June 4 speech at Harvard University that he doesn't see a return of 1970s-style stagflation, in part because the economy is more flexible and adaptable than it was back then. That doesn't mean the future will be pain-free, others say.

‘‘We're going to see some companies go out of business,'' says economist Philip Verleger, president of PKVerleger LLC in Aspen, Colorado. ‘‘There is going to be a large amount of wealth destroyed.''

Recession fears as US markets dive

Recession fears as US markets dive

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US stocks have suffered their worst day for 15 months after the government said unemployment had risen by the biggest rate in more than 20 years.

Rocketing oil prices have also fuelled concerns that the US economy is facing 'stagflagation' - slow growth and high inflation accompanied by soaring oil prices.

Oil prices reached a $139 a barrel on Friday, fuelled by a weak dollar and tensions in the Middle East.

The Dow Jones industrial average tumbled 394.64 points, or 3.13 per cent, to end Friday at 12,209.81.

Shares in General Electric and other major firms fell after a report showed unemployment rose in May to 5.5 per cent from 5 per cent, its highest level since October 2004.

Analysts say stagflation, last seen during the worldwide economic slump in the 1970's, could make it even more difficult to boost a sputtering economy.

"This is the worst economic environment," Dave Rovelli, the managing director of Canaccord Adams, a New York equity trading firm, said.

"I don't see how this is not stagflation."

Jobless rate rises

The US reported on Friday that about 49,000 jobs had been lost, putting the current number of unemployed in the US at 8.5 million.

A total of 324,000 jobs have been lost in 2008 so far, the department said.

The figure surprised analysts, who had expected a more modest rise of 0.1 per cent.

The news comes at a time of ongoing financial turmoil in the US housing, credit and financial sectors.

The White House acknowledged that the number was "too high" but Scott Stanzel, the deputy press secretary, said it was still "lower than the average of the last three decades".

Analysts say the rate is expected to rise to six per cent or higher by next year.

The official unemployment rate, taken from a separate survey of households, includes workers who are actively seeking a job and can rise as jobless workers who had given up on looking for new work then begin searching again.

Recession fears

Continuing job losses have led some economists to say the US is in recession, although others have said far more jobs - 100,000 or more - are normally lost each month during a recession.

"For the average American there is not a debate that the economy is in a recession,'' Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Economy website, told the Associated Press news agency.

"That's because their net worth is lower, their purchasing power is lower and it is tough to find a job. If you lose a job, it is tough to get back in."

The US Federal Reserve and the Bush administration are hoping recent steep rate cuts by the central bank and the US government's $168bn stimulus package, which provides tax rebates and business tax breaks, would revive the US economy in the second half of this year.

Intellectual Violence

Intellectual Violence

By Angie Riedel

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Something I've learned over the last few years is that there really is such a thing as evil in this world. True, sheer evil.

I've also learned that all evil is perpetrated by force; and that can be physical violence or it can be intellectual violence, i.e. by deceit and deception. Lies. Lies are every bit as much a form of violence as guns, clubs and bombs because just like physical violence, lies are used to violate someone else's free will and free choice.

The reality is that the violence of lies is infinitely more common than physical violence. There's just no contest there. Lies are the single most prevalent form of violence in our country today, and that intellectual violence is taking a serious toll.

What is violence and why is violence used? It is used as a means to an end. More specifically it is the quickest way to get what you want from somebody else. You can either just shoot someone and take what you want or you can lie them out of what they have that you want, either way, you achieve the goal of getting what you want from somebody else. Lying is the means to perpetrate a robbery or theft. Just like a mugging in a dark alley, individuals and nations alike are violently attacked with the aim of destroying the true owners of something to take what they own for yourself.

The mere threat of using violence against somebody is often enough to get them to hand over the desired things. It works well because everybody knows what violence is and nobody wants to be violated, which is exactly what violence is. It is violating another person. It's using whatever superior tools or strength or advantages you posses to harm, or threaten to harm another with the aim of taking something that belongs to them and that you have no right to take. It means over riding the free will and free choice of another person and to force your own will on them, so that you can have it your way. And that's just wrong.

Depriving others of the God given right of having free choice over their own lives, bodies and property is the very definition of what we think of as crime. That is the DNA behind all crime, that's the reason that we even have the concept of crime. Forcefully depriving another of their free will is what all crime is. It violates a person in the most serious, egregious ways. It's an insult that goes very deep into the psyche of any victim of violence, physical or intellectual.

Victims of violence do feel violated. They feel the terror of powerlessness over their own lives. They feel the horrible loss of control over their own fate. The overwhelming insult of not having any choice in matters regarding their own life and best interests. They are reduced to irrelevance because of the appetites and will of their attackers.

Being made to feel irrelevant is probably the most damaging experience that any human being can go through. It's the worst feeling in the world to suddenly become nothing and no one as far as some dominating, violent others are concerned. To be deprived of the obligatory recognition of your sentience and inherent right to be treated as an equal to other human beings is to feel one's own life being negated, as if it had no meaning, importance or significance. There is no greater insult and no greater harm that can be perpetrated on another.

To become nothing more than the extension of another man's will is to become a slave or an object, and we are not slaves or objects. We are equals with the same human rights in this world, and we all deserve to retain our dignity and sovereignty at all times. No one has a right to take those things from us. When they do take those things they defy known reality and relegate us to a realm of confused suffering, and permanent damage that cannot be undone or recompensed.

The only way anyone can make you feel that way is by violating you, depriving you of your dignity and personal sovereignty, and this is why the concept of simple respect for others is such an important thing. It's a huge thing. In fact I'd have to say it's the biggest thing there is.

In a decent world we would all agree to respect the others in our lives and all over the world. We would comprehend the simple fact that those others do not owe us anything. They don't owe us their prosperity or their lives. They don't owe us their property or their rights. They are not in any way obligated to do as we desire so that we may feel happy.

The only people who think the opposite is true are the people in this world who are truly evil. They are the criminals who commit all the worst crimes in this world. Although those crimes can take many forms the bottom line is that it's always the same crime being committed, the crime of depriving another of their free will and their right to determine their own fate and their own life choices, whether or not anyone else happens to like those choices. It's just not our call to make for anyone else.

That's where we run into problems because there are a great many people, people who think of themselves as upright, good people, religious people even, who will not agree that everyone has the same right to self determination in this world. Right off the bat, that attitude is criminal.

The Liar's Toolbox

Today there is much killing of innocents happening in the name of the good guys vs. the bad guys, but what is never called to account is who defines good and bad. Without exception it is never a simple case of good guys versus bad guys; it is in fact a case of aggressors calling the others bad because those others are not doing what is desired by the aggressor. They are the legal owners of lands and resources the aggressor covets, they exist in the way of the aggressors and in blatant contradiction to false claims to ownership of the land and its resources. The others who have what the aggressors want are always automatically the bad guys, and that's nothing but a big fat lie. It's hypocrisy. And that's always attached to lies. Hypocrisy is one of the main tools in the liar's toolbox.

Hypocrisy is when we believe we deserve to have free will but we refuse to extend the same human right to others. This is a very important tool in the Liar's toolbox. It is used to try to justify violence against others with all manner of lies and excuses, like religious differences, racial differences, any kind of differences will be used to try to justify perpetrating violence against others when we want what belongs to them. Where ever there is hypocrisy there is lying going on and the sad reality will be that a lot of good people will have bought in to those lies and will be an opposing force to the truth. They will not be able to see their own hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is a serious, dangerous sin and it's one we should add to the list of things we want to find in ourselves and do away with.

Another item in the Liar's Toolbox is indifference. Sometimes called depraved indifference the meaning is simple enough to gather. When we are indifferent to the suffering of others we are committing a crime of violence against them. When big corporations or governments take steps in their own self interests that result in harm being done to others, directly or indirectly, they know it. That they proceed anyway makes it criminal.

Failing to notice or consider that our actions harm others is not an excuse and it cannot be justified. Saying they just didn't know, or worse, framing and promoting illicit depraved concepts like "collateral damage" is no excuse either. There is no such thing as lives that don't matter.

No matter what claims are being made to justify violence in the name of self interest, there is no justification. When we are led to believe otherwise that in itself is a crime being perpetrated on all of us. We are being insulted every bit as much as their innocent victims. The message is that others don't matter in the name of their personal goals and desires, and that's invalid on its face. Others always matter and life always matters more than any ideology or game plan. More than any government's desire for power and prestige, more than any corporation's greed and psychotic lust for endless expansion. Those things in fact and in reality are worthless up against human life and well being. Pretending otherwise is always and only a lie.

It's Not Just About Stuff

We're encouraged to believe that crime is all about property and ownership rights, and that there can be no crimes without property or life being involved but that's only seeing the peel and missing the entire banana beneath it. Every dishonest contract, every con job, every petty theft, every rape or act of child molestation, every bogus war we're led into based on lies, is always about depriving people of something that's rightfully and only theirs. That can be property, rights, dignity, life or limb, freedom of choice, or even the information needed to make the best decisions. Again, all of that boils down to overriding the free will of others. These are all forms of violence, ways of violating the human birthright to have free will and freedom of choice in all things pertaining to our own lives, persons, and property.

Violence used at any other time than in literal, imminent self defense from a violent attacker is criminal. It is unnecessary and unjustified. Yet it is prevalent and it is everywhere, from behind the closed doors of private homes to out in the open in the streets, the kinds of violence of wars and political unrest. Take Africa for example and the carnage going on there. It's all completely unjustified, it's criminal, people are getting hurt and dying and there is no end in sight. No good comes of this way of getting what you want at the expense of others without the consent of all involved.

There is no need to fund and instigate the social crisis there, which is what is being done by powerful, wealthy corporations and their copartners in governments. It is being done to consume the rich resources of that land for the benefit of those who already have more than enough, so that they can have even more for themselves. Greed is not good. It is just another weapon in the liars toolbox. Greed is always fed with the blood of innocent people and it is a crime.

Depriving others of what's rightfully theirs is what it always boils down to and that's why violence beyond literal, imminent self defense from a violent attacker is always criminal. It can not be tolerated. Not any more. Not in the 21st Century. It is long past time for humanity with its consciousness raised and its improved access to education to make the necessary spiritual/emotional/doctrinal adjustments to go along with that increased knowledge and awareness. Meaning, it's time for us to change for the better.

It's time for us now to take responsibility, which is what must be done when we become world aware and educated. To posses and use knowledge without responsibility is an unforgivable failure. It's also self-defeating because it enables that which is not true to dominate us.

Honesty isn't just the best public policy, it's the only public policy because dishonesty is literally a criminal act. It's an act of violence because it violates the peoples right to exercise their free will. It undermines our ability to make intelligent, meaningful choices for ourselves by giving us false information and forcing false perspectives on us that will lead us to draw conclusions based on that false information. The public will then be infinitely more likely to agree to whatever the liar or liars want. That's every bit as violent as holding a gun to our heads, it's just not recognized as such, and that's no accident. It's so obvious as to be painful, yet how many of us have ever made the connection? They're taking what they want by force and we can't even see it anymore, we expect no less.

We tend to think of violence only in terms of physical things, blood, bullet wounds, physical harm. But being lied to can do equal damage to our minds and souls, and can and does cause terrible harm and injury to the collective consciousness of mankind.

We're living in a society which, at this moment in time, is being controlled and dominated by people who have no respect for others. By people who by the very nature of how they think and act are criminals. There's no wiggle room here, it's quite simple when you stop to remember that the essence of crime is depriving others of their free will and their right to act in their own best interests. Those who dominate our reality right now are master liars, and the damage they are perpetrating has no historical equivalent in this country. The destruction they're wreaking is total and we're only beginning to see the tip of the iceberg. By the time they're done there won't be much left standing, and a whole lot of people are going to suffer, and a whole lot of people are going to die. You tell me what's not criminal about that. Everything about it is criminal.

These controllers have managed to get a dominant foothold into every major aspect of society. The justice system, the departments of government, the church, public and higher education have all been infiltrated and are in the process of being ideologically raped. They own and control the media and they do this with the specific purpose of being able to withhold the truth about themselves and what they do, what they want and how they're getting what they want, from the public. You can't even buy TV time today if you have a different perspective than the one they want to dominate the public consciousness with. They can't afford the truth going out to the people because they know the people would never agree to go along with them. Therefore, they either have to shoot us all, which simply isn't possible, or they have to violate our consciousness with an endless stream of lies to make us want to go along with them. And they're experts at this. And we pay them to do it and they use our money to do it to us.

Every aspect of how they operate is an insult and a violation of the public's right to choose in their own behalf. We can no longer make appropriate choices because we no longer have access to all of the information, to truth, or to all of the sides to any story. All we will ever hear again as long as the media laws stay the same is only what they want us to hear.

We have only to look around us to gauge the numbers of innocent people dying both here and abroad to get an accurate idea of just how much evil has managed to insinuate itself into our minds and lives. We have only to witness the metamorphosis of ordinary men who once upheld our laws to protect us, into militarized, soulless, dishonest inhuman robot killers and thugs to recognize that evil is transforming our society from its very roots and defining principles into its exact mirror opposite. We are being turned into everything we claim to hate and would risk our lives to fight against, and we no longer seem capable of recognizing it.

Our laws are quickly being changed from things that protect our God given right to exercise our free will without encumbrance from power and privilege, into things which give all permission to power and privilege to encumber us and prevent us from living in freedom. The lie is that it is being done to secure us, but we are not secure. We could never be kept safe by anyone, and especially not by a government so obsessed with secrecy, so disdainful of being bound by the laws that bind the rest of us, and so unconcerned with our core principles of protecting every individual from violence and interference by the government into their private lives. This government represents everything we once fought to be free of, and then some.

They use every form of violence and force conceivable, and have many others being developed, most of which are further insults to freedom and free will. All of them have the intended goal of depriving us of even more freedom, of our right to speak openly about what we see happening, of our hope and expectation that justice will be done and that they will be made to stop. Now that they are making the rules they will not stop. We are drowning in a sea of lies.

When lies dominate us then evil dominates our society. We are willingly or unwillingly forced to be complicit in the actions that evil desires to carry out. And it will always desire to perpetrate the greatest possible evils it can get away with. It spells the destruction of centuries of hard work and struggle specifically to stop, control and prevent evil from taking over our government, our country and our private lives. When lies are so common they become what feels normal and rational to us, we are certainly lost and it's only a matter of time before we'll have to pay the price of our ignorance and inability to discern something as simple as right from wrong.

We are all victims of intellectual violence, and knowing right from wrong will always be the first thing to go, and the last thing we'll ever recognize. Until it's far too late.

Angie Riedel - -

What Is The Cause Of The Word-Wide Rise In Oil And Food Prices?

What Is The Cause Of The Word-Wide Rise In Oil And Food Prices?

By Ibrahim Turner

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· Searching for 'truckers strikes over high fuel prices'

338,000 entries from Google.

· Searching for 'fisherman's strikes over high fuel prices'

336,000 entries.

· Searching for 'food riots over high prices'

710,000 entries.

· Searching for 'demonstrations over high prices for food'

2,980,000 entries.

· Searching for 'articles about high oil prices'

85,900,000 entries.

The world price of oil hit another record today at $138 a barrel.

Many of these articles blame the high prices on speculators on 'oil futures' gamblers on Wall Street and stock exchanges around the world. Morgan Stanley predicts $150 a barrel by July 4th.

What is going on here? Why are speculators, who lost billions in the last fiasco of sub prime mortgages racket, being allowed to drive up oil and food prices into another bubble? Where the hell are the regulators? Oh that's right, oversight has been whittled away, at least in America by pressure from these same 'bankers', with a capital 'W' on Congress, who of course own shares in oil, munitions, and Monsanto, the Genetically Modified Seed and Food Giant Corporation.

What a crock! What a blatant and absolute fraud!

What is in store for the billions of poor people around the world who live on $1 a day? What is in store for the relatively rich populations of America and Europe when fuel prices have greater and greater impact on already rising food prices, driven up by these same speculators?

Give it another month and when the prophesy of $150 a barrel sinks into the collective consciousness of all the truckers, fishermen, farmers who use fuel and pesticides and fertilizers, not to mention the ordinary motorist trying to get to work, expect the proverbial 'doodoo' to hit the revolving air machine.

There have been many articles alluding to the fact that America is already bankrupt, having spent billions on the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, the burgeoning U.S. Department of Homeland Security, all in hock to China, Japan and Asian countries.

The dollar is steadily tanking and today the New York Times sent me a news alert, which said, 'The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell about 400 points, driven by economic concerns and by oil prices that soared to near $140 a barrel."

In 2008, for example, it took $21.57 to buy what $1 bought in 1913.

The Last Great Bubble - Counterfeiting the Dollar

The last few years has seen a series of "nested bubbles" popping. The Internet bubble popped and brought down the tech sector, which brought down the NASDAQ, which is bringing down the U.S. economy. But the granddaddy of them all, the bubble, which envelops them all, is still in play.

You may be inclined to think that the green bills in your wallet are dollars, but I have shocking news for you: They're not. They're counterfeits. Since 1913, a gradual shift has turned our money from wealth to debt, and finally into a speculative investment.

For more detail on the creation of the Federal Reserve and the history of the decline of the dollar and the Congress see,

For the causes of the Great Depression of the 1920's see,

"The Great Depression was the worst economic slump ever in U.S. history, and one which spread to virtually all of the industrialized world. The depression began in late 1929 and lasted for about a decade. Many factors played a role in bringing about the depression; however, the main cause for the Great Depression was the combination of the greatly unequal distribution of wealth throughout the 1920's, and the extensive stock market speculation that took place during the latter part that same decade. The misdistribution of wealth in the 1920's existed on many levels. Money was distributed disparately between the rich and the middle-class, between industry and agriculture within the United States, and between the U.S. and Europe. This imbalance of wealth created an unstable economy. The excessive speculation in the late 1920's kept the stock market artificially high, but eventually lead to large market crashes. These market crashes, combined with the misdistribution of wealth, caused the American economy to capsize.

The federal government also contributed to the growing gap between the rich and middle-class. Calvin Coolidge's administration (and the conservative-controlled government) favoured business, and as a result the wealthy who invested in these businesses. An example of legislation to this purpose is the Revenue Act of 1926, signed by President Coolidge on February 26, 1926, which reduced federal income and inheritance taxes dramatically. (Echoes of George Bush' tax cuts for the rich?) Andrew Mellon, Coolidge's Secretary of the Treasury, was the main force behind these and other tax cuts throughout the 1920's. In effect, he was able to lower federal taxes such that a man with a million-dollar annual income had his federal taxes reduced from $600,000 to $200,000. Even the Supreme Court played a role in expanding the gap between the socio-economic classes. In the 1923 case Adkins v. Children's Hospital, the Supreme Court ruled minimum-wage legislation unconstitutional."

Do you see the similarities to the 1920's Great Depression? Almost all the factors are in place now that were contributing to the situation then, except that now, the situation is global.

Break out the old records of the depression songs like.

'Hallelujah I'm a bum, I went to a house and I asked for some bread, and the lady said, bum, bum the baker is dead.'

It would seem that millions of people worldwide will die of starvation in the next few years as the world economy collapses.

Now the real question is, is just the result of bad money management and greed or is it planned? And if so what is the objective?

The Rise of Disaster Capitalism

By Naomi Klein.

Last summer, in the lull of the August media doze, the Bush Administration's doctrine of preventive war took a major leap forward. On August 5, 2004, the White House created the Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization headed by former US Ambassador to Ukraine Carlos Pascual. Its mandate is to draw up elaborate "post-conflict" plans for up to twenty-five countries that are not, as of yet, in conflict. According to Pascual, it will also be able to coordinate three full-scale reconstruction operations in different countries "at the same time," each lasting "five to seven years." Fittingly, a government devoted to perpetual pre-emptive deconstruction now has a standing office of perpetual pre-emptive reconstruction.

So when banks and institutions go belly up, who steps in to 'rescue' them, paying pennies on the dollar? Why your friend and mine, the chums of the Federal Reserve Bank, the Central European Bank, the Bank of England, Various oil rich states and their investment companies, and Chinese Companies, backed by the Central Bank of China, and the same with Japan, all of who hold Government bonds and securities of the U.S.

So what it amounts to is a gigantic fraud and swindle by central bankers worldwide. The Federal Reserve is jut one of the clique, imposed on America in 1913 by deceit and subterfuge. The bankers like Morgan Stanley, when the asked about the new legislation before Congress by the newspapers said they were against it. That was enough misinformation for the papers to advocate passing the legislation 'because the bankers were against it'.

Today, the Federal Reserve Bankers and shareholders are beholden to no one and there is never an audit or oversight by Congress. They do just whatever they like; have hidden agendas as they like, manipulate the inflationary bubbles in Wall Street and with the complicit agreement of Congress create money out of thin air! What bigger fraud could there possibly be?

Even some Congress Senators still think that the dollar is backed by gold, but that went out of the window during Nixon's time. And various oversight regulations and rules have been whittled away over the last 30 years that now the Wall Street, Federal Reserve Bankers have complete control of the money supply, the inflation and interest rates, and these clever financiers are so clever that they have created the casino like bubble of financial shenanigans that nobody can understand and there is blatant and ongoing fraud occurring daily and by the hour. Billions given to Morgan Stanley to buy out Bear Stearns for pennies on the dollar with money created out of thin air by the Federal Reserve.

And when you think about it in the round, so to speak, these people will be responsible for the deaths of starving millions because of the high food and oil prices, brought about by their casino gambling and deliberate talking up stocks into a bubble in order to make a quick profit, before the little investor gets left holding the dead baby.

It is time. It is time to put a stop to this fraud, this blatant manipulation of the money supply and abolish the Federal Reserve. Once America 'comes to its senses' the other Central banks will quake in fear that it will happen to them. When the starving striking fishermen and truckers really get to know who is causing all this, then the 'global economic fraud' will end.

Don't believe it? Watch Ron Paul videos on You Tube about the Federal Reserve. When the people wake up the bankers will not sleep easy in their beds and in their gated communities.

What do they have in store for us little people? These bankers who finance both sides in major wars?

Legislating Tyranny

Legislating Tyranny

By Paul Craig Roberts and Lawrence M. Stratton

Go To Original

he George W. Bush administration responded to the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon with an assault on U.S. civil liberty that Bush justified in the name of the “war on terror.” The government assured us that the draconian measures apply only to “terrorists.” The word terrorist, however, was not defined. The government claimed the discretionary power to decide who is a terrorist without having to present evidence or charges in a court of law.

Frankly, the Bush administration’s policy evades any notion of procedural due process of law. Administration assurances that harsh treatment is reserved only for terrorists is meaningless when the threshold process for determining who is and who is not a terrorist depends on executive discretion that is not subject to review. Substantive rights are useless without the procedural rights to enforce them.

Terrorist legislation and executive assertions created a basis upon which federal authorities claimed they were free to suspend suspects’ civil liberties in order to defend Americans from terrorism. Only after civil liberties groups and federal courts challenged some of the unconstitutional laws and procedures did realization spread that the Bush administration’s assault on the Bill of Rights is a greater threat to Americans than are terrorists.

The alacrity with which Congress accepted the initial assault from the administration is frightening. In 2001, the USA PATRIOT Act passed by a vote of 98 to 1 in the Senate and by 357 to 66 in the House. The act was already written and waiting on the shelf before the 9/11 attack. Indeed, the FBI and Department of Justice have tried for years to introduce PATRIOT Act provisions into the law. That act was introduced immediately after the attacks, and few members of Congress read its contents prior to passing it.

Federal courts declared some provisions of the legislation to be unconstitutional. Vague language criminalizing “expert advice or assistance” as material support for terrorism was thrown out, as were gag orders and “National Security Letters” used to obtain private information without judicial oversight. Despite challenges from the American Civil Liberties Union and resolutions passed in 8 states and 396 cities and counties condemning the act for its attack on civil liberties, Congress reauthorized the act in March 2006, making most of it permanent and sending a clear signal that the “war on terror” takes precedence over civil liberty.

The PATRIOT Act’s infringements of civil liberty are serious, but they pale by comparison to the Bush administration’s assertion of executive power to set aside habeas corpus protection for both citizens and noncitizens declared by the executive branch to be “enemy combatants.” The Bush administration claimed and exercised the power to hold indefinitely anyone so designated without access to legal representation. In other words, the Bush administration claimed the discretionary and unaccountable power to imprison whomever it wished.

In keeping with its self-declared powers, the Bush administration quickly rounded up hundreds of detainees whom it claimed – without evidence – to be “enemy combatants.” Four detainees, Rasul, Hamdi, Padilla, and Hamdan, consisting of a British citizen, two American citizens, and an Afghan, respectively, challenged the administration in federal court cases that reached the Supreme Court.

In Rasul v. Bush the Supreme Court ruled in June 2004 that, contrary to Bush administration assertions, the courts have jurisdiction over Guantánamo and that detainees must be allowed to challenge their detention.

Also in June 2004, the Supreme Court ruled in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld that Hamdi, an American citizen, was deprived of due process and had the right to challenge his detention. However, the ruling was far from a clean sweep for civil liberty. Both noted civil libertarian Harvey Silverglate (Reason, January 2005) and John Yoo, a Department of Justice apologist for the new tyranny, agree that the Supreme Court decision left flexibility and room for the government to maneuver and prevail in the end.

In December 2003, an appellate court ruled that U.S. citizen José Padilla could not be denied habeas corpus protection. To forestall another Supreme Court ruling against the Bush administration, the administration withdrew Padilla’s status as “enemy combatant” and filed criminal charges that bore no relationship to the administration’s original assertions that Padilla was plotting to explode a “dirty bomb” in an American city. As Harvey Silverglate has documented (Boston Phoenix, September 16, 2005), the Padilla case is also an extraordinary story of “forum shopping” (picking a court where judges are friendly to its case) by the Department of Justice.

Forced by the federal judiciary to release José Padilla from years of illegal detention or to put him on trial, the Bush administration had to scramble to put together some kind of charges. The best that the Bush administration could do was to charge Padilla not with any terrorist acts, but with wanting to be a terrorist – a “terrorist-wannabe” to use the words of Andrew Cohen (, August 16, 2007).

By the time Padilla went to trial, he had been demonized for years in the media as an “enemy combatant” who intended to set off a radioactive bomb. Peter Whoriskey (Washington Post, August 17, 2007) described the Padilla Jury as a patriotic jury that appeared in court with one row of jurors dressed in red, one in white, and one in blue. It was a jury primed to be psychologically and emotionally manipulated by federal prosecutors. No member of this jury was going to return home to accusations of letting off the “dirty bomber.”

Evidence, of which there was little, if any, played no role in the case. The chief FBI agent, James T. Kavanaugh, testified in court that the intercepted telephone conversations were innocuous and contained no references to terrorism or Islamic extremism, but the jury wasn’t listening. The judge allowed prosecutors to show the jury a ten-year-old video of Osama bin Laden that had no relevance to the case, but which served to arouse in jurors fear, anger, and disturbing memories of September 11, 2001. The jury convicted Padilla on all counts, despite the total absence of any evidence that he had ever committed a terrorist act or had agreed to commit such an act.

By convicting Padilla, the jury opened Pandora’s box and created a Benthamite precedent for imprisoning U.S. citizens on the suspicion that they might commit a terrorist act.

In July 2006, in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, the Supreme Court ruled that Bush’s military tribunals violate U.S. military law and the Geneva Conventions.

Republicans, who tend to regard civil liberties as devices that coddle criminals and terrorists, turned to legislation in attempts to subvert the Supreme Court’s defense of the U.S. Constitution. In November 2005, the Senate Republicans passed an amendment to the Defense Authorization Act offered by Lindsay Graham of South Carolina authorizing the president to deny habeas corpus protection to Guantánamo detainees. The fact that it was known by this time that the vast majority of the detainees were hapless individuals who were captured by Afghan warlords and sold to the Americans, who were paying a bounty for “terrorists,” carried no weight with the Republican senators.

The Republicans replied to Hamdan v. Rumsfeld with the Military Commissions Act passed in September 2006 and signed by Bush in October. The act strips detainees of protections provided by the Geneva Conventions: “No alien unlawful enemy combatant subject to trial by military commission under this chapter may invoke the Geneva Conventions as a source of rights.” Other provisions of the act strip detainees of speedy trials and of protection against torture and self-incrimination. This heinous law has a breathtaking provision that retroactively protects torturers against prosecution for war crimes.

The act explicitly denies habeas corpus protection and access to federal courts to any alien detained by the U.S. government as an “enemy combatant” and any alien awaiting determination of his status. The act reads: “No court, justice, or judge shall have jurisdiction to hear or consider an application for a writ of habeas corpus filed by or on behalf of an alien detained by the US who has been determined by the US to have been properly detained as an enemy combatant or is awaiting such determination.”

This act is as atrocious a piece of legislation as the world has ever seen. It permits people to be sentenced to death on the basis of hearsay, secret evidence, and on a confession extracted by torture. Indeed, detainees could be shot in the back of the head without undergoing the kangaroo tribunal and no one would ever know or be held legally responsible.

A number of legal experts have concluded that there is no assurance that the act cannot be applied to U.S. citizens. Although language in the act refers to “alien unlawful enemy combatant,” other language in the document does not limit the act’s applicability only to aliens. Legal scholars have warned that the legislation defines enemy combatant in such broad language that the act applies to any person whom the executive branch declares has purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States. No evidence for the charge is necessary. By seizing the power to decide who is and who is not an “enemy combatant,” the executive branch has seized the power to decide who shall and who shall not be permitted the protections guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. The Bush administration has resurrected the dungeons and torture chambers that Blackstone’s Rights of Englishmen banished from the English-speaking world.

It is too early to know how the act will be interpreted and applied to American citizens or whether it can be challenged and overturned on constitutional grounds, but forebodings are severe. What we can say is that the act is draconian and dangerous legislation that is completely unnecessary. If the U.S. government has enough correct information to designate a person truthfully to be an enemy combatant, the U.S. government has enough information to put the person on trial in open court with all the rights guaranteed by the Constitution to defendants. The U.S. government only needs indefinite detention, torture, and secret evidence when it has no evidence. Every American should be concerned that John Yoo, one of the Justice Department authors of this totalitarian legislation, is now a law professor at the University of California. Liberty has no future in America if law schools provide legitimacy to those who would subvert the U.S. Constitution.

The Assault on the Constitution

We concluded the first edition of this book with a call for “an intellectual rebirth, a revival of constitutionalism.” Alas, far from a rebirth of constitutionalism, we are witnessing a rending that we would not have imagined. On January 17, 2007, the attorney general of the United States, Alberto Gonzales, declared in testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee that “the Constitution doesn’t say every individual in the United States or every citizen is hereby granted or assured the right of habeas.” The chairman of the committee, Arlen Specter (R-Pennsylvania) was incredulous when Gonzales insisted that “there is no express grant of habeas in the Constitution.”

In June 2007, Dick Cheney astonished Americans with his claim that the Office of Vice President is independent of both the executive branch and Congress and is accountable to neither.

Americans should pay attention to the power that the Bush administration is claiming over them. If Americans are not protected by habeas corpus, the government can pick us up at its will and cast us into dungeons for the rest of our lives without ever giving any accountability of its action. If the Constitution does not grant habeas corpus protection, the administration is under no compulsion to provide indictments, evidence, and trial. The government can simply imprison at will.

The Bush administration is using every strategy to push aside the remains of the legal principles that shield the people from arbitrary government power. It is a short step from denying Americans’ constitutional right to a public trial by an impartial jury to denying every other constitutional right. Clearly, on the basis of an indefinite “war” against an indefinite “terrorist enemy,” the Bush regime is attempting to claim powers that are not limited by the Constitution, Congress, or the courts. It is a life-and-death matter for Americans to understand that the Bush administration is seeking to undermine all rights by shutting off the procedural avenues for enforcing rights.

Few Americans seem alarmed. Conservative attorneys, such as members of the Federalist Society who present themselves as defenders of “original intent,” are pushing for more power to be concentrated in the executive. One of the tools used to obtain this goal is Bush’s misuse of “signing statements.” Scholars, such as Phillip J. Cooper of Portland State University writing in the September 2005 issue of Presidential Studies Quarterly, warn that Bush uses signing statements not only as illegal line-item vetoes that evade congressional override but also as “wide-ranging assertions of exclusive authority and court-like pronouncements that redefine legislative powers under the Constitution. They reveal a systematic effort to define presidential authority in terms of the broad conception of the prerogative both internationally and domestically under the unitary executive theory.”

Signing statements deserve a closer look than they are receiving. There is no provision in the Constitution for signing statements. Courts often look to congressional debates and proceedings to ascertain legislative intent when a statute’s meaning is not obvious. The Bush administration is endeavoring to establish the judicial practice of also looking to the president’s signing statements in the same way, an absurd idea as the president does not enact legislation. President Bush’s use of signing statements signals the refusal of the executive branch to abide by the rule of law, a frightening prospect.

A growing number of thoughtful Americans believe, rightly or wrongly, that the “war on terror” is a hoax that is providing cover for what former President Nixon’s White House counsel, John W. Dean, says is an assault on American liberty by “authoritarian conservatives.” Time will tell whether Americans will continue to tolerate the neoconservatives’ wars and attacks on civil liberty.

The Case of Sami Al-Arian

The demise of the Rights of Englishmen, the unaccountability of police and prosecutors, the witch-hunt atmosphere created by the “war on terror,” the government’s need to find terrorist suspects in order to maintain the public’s alarm, and the sadistic and bigoted attitudes of many prison guards and even federal prosecutors and judges toward Muslims have resulted in the use of law for persecution. The case of Sami Al-Arian, who was a professor of computer science at the University of South Florida, is a pure example of the use of law as a weapon for persecution.

Most Americans know only the Israeli side of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Palestinian side is rarely heard. Even prominent Americans, such as former president Jimmy Carter, who point out that there are two sides to the story, are subjected to demonization and name-calling. Sami Al-Arian was gaining success as a voice for a more even-handed Middle East policy. He spoke to intelligence personnel and military commanders at MacDill Air Force Central Command. He gave interviews. He even invited the FBI to attend meetings where he spoke.

This was too much for the Israeli Lobby, which has enjoyed a total monopoly on the explanation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the United States. The hysteria following 9/11 created the opportunity to destroy Sami Al-Arian. Alexander Cockburn (CounterPunch, March 3, 2007) reports that “at the direct instigation of Attorney General Ashcroft” trumped-up terrorism and conspiracy charges were leveled at Al-Arian.

The neoconservative media and right-wing talk radio went to work on Al-Arian. Pushed by Gov. Jeb Bush, the university fired him. He was arrested and deemed too dangerous for bail. He was held in solitary confinement for two and a half years while the federal government tried to manufacture some evidence against him. Wikipedia reports that “Amnesty International said Al-Arian’s pre-trial conditions ‘appeared to be gratuitously punitive’ and stated ‘the restrictions imposed on Dr. Al-Arian appeared to go beyond what were necessary on security grounds and were inconsistent with international standards for humane treatment.’”

The government failed to produce any evidence. The jury acquitted Al-Arian on all serious charges and voted 10–2 for acquittal on all other charges. The jury acquitted him despite U.S. District Court judge James Moody’s many biased rulings against Al-Arian.

Knowing that Al-Arian and his family could not stand the strain of solitary confinement for another two and a half years while a new case was prepared, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that it would retry him. His attorney urged him to make a plea in order to end the ordeal.

Al-Arian’s plea is innocuous and bears no relationship to the serious charges on which he was tried. According to Wikipedia, as part of the plea agreement “the government acknowledged that Al-Arian’s activities were non-violent and that there were no victims to the charge in the plea agreement.”

Under the plea agreement, Al-Arian’s sentence amounted essentially to time served, but he was double-crossed by Judge Moody, who according to Alexander Cockburn used “inflamed language about Al-Arian having blood on his hands” (a charge rejected by the jury) and handed down the maximum sentence.

The “terrorist” prosecutors had yet more in store for Al-Arian. In October 2006, federal prosecutor Gordon Kromberg, reportedly “notorious as an Islamophobe,” demanded, in violation of the plea agreement, that Al-Arian testify before a grand jury in Alexandria, Virginia, investigating an Islamic research center. According to Wikipedia, “in a verbal agreement that appears in court transcripts, federal prosecutors agreed [as part of the plea agreement] that Al-Arian would not have to testify in Virginia.”

Al-Arian’s lawyers saw Kromberg’s subpoena of their client as a setup, and Al-Arian refused to testify. On January 22, 2007, Al-Arian was brought before a federal judge on contempt charges. He described to the judge the extraordinary abuse he had suffered at the hands of federal prison officials. The guards and officers all felt free to abuse Al-Arian, because they had heard the lie on right-wing talk radio and from neoconservative media that he was a terrorist who hated Americans. The hostile judge sentenced Al-Arian to eighteen months more on a civil contempt charge for refusing to testify about a case that he knew nothing about.

Kromberg contrived to put Al-Arian in a situation in which truthful answers in court under oath could be turned into a perjury charge by offering the defendants reduced charges in exchange for their testimony that Al-Arian was involved with them in some alleged activity and lied under oath. Alternatively, Al-Arian would be cited for civil contempt for refusal to testify. The ease with which Kromberg violated the plea agreement and abused the prosecutorial power in full view of federal judges should give pause to every American.

When a university professor, who has done nothing but try to correct the one-sided story Americans are fed about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, can be treated in this way by the U.S. Department of Justice, civil liberty in the United States is in a precarious condition.

The ease with which Al-Arian was transformed into a terrorist should be a lesson to us all. People in charge of Homeland Security are no less inclined than police and prosecutors to make expansive interpretations of their mandate and what constitutes terrorism and suspect behavior. On May 28, 2007, the Associated Press reported that the Alabama Department of Homeland Security had included among terrorist groups listed on its Web site environmentalists, antiwar protesters, abortion opponents, and gay- and animal-rights advocates. It is an ancient practice of government to hype fear in order to gain arbitrary power that can be turned against anyone. Perhaps this expansive definition of terrorist explains the eighty thousand names on the government’s no-fly list.

Another problem with arbitrary and undefined power is that it ends up being exercised by people who tend to receive low marks for good judgment and intelligence. English film director Mike Figgis was held for five hours in an interrogation cell at Los Angeles International Airport because U.S. immigration officers are unfamiliar with the professional language of television show producers and lacked the common sense to avoid a misunderstanding. When asked the reason for his visit, Figgis said: “I’m here to shoot a pilot.” “Shoot,” of course, means to film, and “pilot” is the first episode of a new TV show. The people providing our security concluded that Figgis had voluntarily confessed to a plot to come to America in order to murder an airline pilot. Figgis survived his assumption that people in Los Angeles understood movie talk, but the desire of people empowered to thwart terrorism to use their power is great. Any excuse will do.

Sliding Toward Dictatorship

The assaults of the Bush regime on civil liberty, the Constitution, and the separation of powers are more determined and more successful than its military assaults on the Middle East, which provide the “war time” justification for the attack on civil liberty in the United States. The regime and its supporters are determined to raise the president to dictatorial powers, at least in times of war, the initiation of which is being turned into a presidential prerogative.

On May 9, 2007, President Bush signed the National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive. If in the president’s opinion a “catastrophic emergency” occurs, the directive places all governmental power in the hands of the president, effectively abolishing the checks and balances in the Constitution. Underlying this directive is the “unitary executive” doctrine, a theory pushed by the Federalist Society, an important source of law clerks, DOJ appointees, and judicial nominees for the Republican Party. The doctrine, supported by Supreme Court justices such as Samuel Alito, claims that the executive power of the president is completely separate and independent of the legislative and judicial powers and not subject to infringement by them. The manner in which this doctrine is being institutionalized is creating the additional claim that executive power is the supreme power. In effect, unitary executive theory is elevating the president to a dictator with the power to ignore or suspend laws.

The unitary executive doctrine is a direct attack on the constitutional separation of powers established by the Founding Fathers. One of the alleged advantages of the unitary executive is that the president can act more quickly and efficiently if he is not subject to interference from Congress and the judiciary. However, as Justice Louis Brandeis explained in 1926, “the doctrine of the separation of powers was adopted by the convention of 1787 not to promote efficiency but to preclude the exercise of arbitrary power. The purpose was not to avoid friction, but, by means of the inevitable friction incident to the distribution of the governmental powers among three departments, to save the people from autocracy.”

News reports that the Bush administration has contracted with Halliburton to build detention centers in the United States at a cost of $385 million revive memories of the World War II detention of Japanese American citizens. It has not been explained who are the intended detainees for the new detention centers. Do the American people want to trust with detention centers an executive branch, which claims the power to set aside habeas corpus, statutory law, due process, and the prohibition against torture?

Polls show that 36 percent of the American public and more than half of New Yorkers lack confidence in the 9/11 Commission Report. Despite a significant percentage of the public’s disbelief in the explanation of the event that took America to war in the Middle East, Congress and the media continue to tolerate the Bush administration’s aggressive rhetoric, which seeks to widen the “war on terror” from Afghanistan and Iraq to Iran, Syria, and Lebanon. The diligence with which Vice President Cheney and the neoconservatives press for an attack on Iran, and the extreme position that the Bush administration has taken on executive power, raise the question whether the Bush administration has an agenda that takes precedence over America’s constitutional democracy.

Never in its history have the American people faced such danger to their constitutional protections as they face today from those in the government who hold the reins of power and from elements of the legal profession and the federal judiciary that support “energy in the executive.” An assertive executive backed by an aggressive U.S. Department of Justice and unobstructed by a supine Congress and an intimidated corporate media has demonstrated an ability to ignore statutory law and public opinion. The precedents that have been set during the opening years of the twenty-first century bode ill for the future of American liberty.

Excerpted from The Tyranny of Good Intentions by Paul Craig Roberts and Lawrence M. Stratton. Excerpted by permission of Three Rivers Press, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Paul Craig Roberts a former Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury and former associate editor of the Wall Street Journal, has been reporting shocking cases of prosecutorial abuse for two decades.

Lawrence M. Stratton is a Ph. D. candidate in Christian Ethics at Princeton Theological Seminary and a former adjunct professor of Georgetown University Law Center. He is currently on the adjunct Ethics faculty at Villanova University. A new edition of their book, The Tyranny of Good Intentions, a documented account of how Americans lost the protection of law, has just been released by Random House.

The West's weapon of self-delusion

The West's weapon of self-delusion

There are gun battles in Beirut – and America thinks things are going fine

By Robert Fisk

Go To Original

o they are it again, the great and the good of American democracy, grovelling and fawning to the Israeli lobbyists of American Israel Public Affairs Committee (Aipac), repeatedly allying themselves to the cause of another country and one that is continuing to steal Arab land.

Will this ever end? Even Barack Obama – or "Mr Baracka" as an Irish friend of mine innocently and wonderfully described him – found time to tell his Jewish audience that Jerusalem is the one undivided capital of Israel, which is not the view of the rest of the world which continues to regard the annexation of Arab East Jerusalem as illegal. The security of Israel. Say it again a thousand times: the security of Israel – and threaten Iran, for good measure.

Yes, Israelis deserve security. But so do Palestinians. So do Iraqis and Lebanese and the people of the wider Muslim world. Now even Condoleezza Rice admits – and she was also talking to Aipac, of course – that there won't be a Palestinian state by the end of the year. That promise of George Bush – which no-one believed anyway – has gone. In Rice's pathetic words, "The goal itself will endure beyond the current US leadership."

Of course it will. And the siege of Gaza will endure beyond the current US leadership. And the Israeli wall. And the illegal Israeli settlement building. And deaths in Iraq will endure beyond "the current US leadership" – though "leadership" is pushing the definition of the word a bit when the gutless Bush is involved – and deaths in Afghanistan and, I fear, deaths in Lebanon too.

It's amazing how far self-delusion travels. The Bush boys and girls still think they're supporting the "American-backed government" of Fouad Siniora in Lebanon. But Siniora can't even form a caretaker government to implement a new set of rules which allows Hizbollah and other opposition groups to hold veto powers over cabinet decisions.

Thus there will be no disarming of Hizbollah and thus – again, I fear this – there will be another Hizbollah-Israeli proxy war to take up the slack of America's long-standing hatred of Iran. No wonder President Bashar Assad of Syria is now threatening a triumphal trip to Lebanon. He's won. And wasn't there supposed to be a UN tribunal to try those responsible for the murder of ex-prime minister Rafiq Hariri in 2005? This must be the longest police enquiry in the history of the world. And I suspect it's never going to achieve its goal (or at least not under the "current US leadership").

There are gun battles in Beirut at night; there are dark-uniformed Lebanese interior ministry troops in equally dark armoured vehicles patrolling the night-time Corniche outside my home.

At least Lebanon has a new president, former army commander Michel Sleiman, an intelligent man who initially appeared on posters, eyes turned to his left, staring at Lebanon with a creditor's concern. Now he has wisely ordered all these posters to be torn down in an attempt to get the sectarian groups to take down their own pictures of martyrs and warlords. And America thinks things are going fine in Lebanon.

And Bush and his cohorts go on saying that they will never speak to "terrorists". And what has happened meanwhile? Why, their Israeli friends – Mr Baracka's Israeli friends – are doing just that. They are talking to Hamas via Egypt and are negotiating with Syria via Turkey and have just finished negotiating with Hizbollah via Germany and have just handed back one of Hizbollah's top spies in Israel in return for body parts of Israelis killed in the 2006 war. And Bush isn't going to talk to "terrorists", eh? I bet he didn't bring that up with the equally hapless Ehud Olmert in Washington this week.

And so our dementia continues. In front of us this week was Blair with his increasingly maniacal eyes, poncing on about faith and God and religion, and I couldn't help reflecting on an excellent article by a colleague a few weeks ago who pointed out that God never seemed to give Blair advice. Like before April of 2003, couldn't He have just said, er, Tony, this Iraq invasion might not be a good idea.

Indeed, Blair's relationship with God is itself very odd. And I rather suspect I know what happens. I think Blair tells God what he absolutely and completely knows to be right – and God approves his words. Because Blair, like a lot of devious politicians, plays God himself. For there are two Gods out there. The Blair God and the infinite being which blesses his every word, so obliging that He doesn't even tell Him to go to Gaza.

I despair. The Tate has just sent me its magnificent book of orientalist paintings to coincide with its latest exhibition (The Lure of the East: British Orientalist Painting) and I am struck by the awesome beauty of this work. In the 19th century, our great painters wondered at the glories of the Orient.

No more painters today. Instead, we send our photographers and they return with pictures of car bombs and body parts and blood and destroyed homes and Palestinians pleading for food and fuel and hooded gunmen on the streets of Beirut, yes, and dead Israelis too. The orientalists looked at the majesty of this place and today we look at the wasteland which we have helped to create.

But fear not. Israel's security comes first and Mr Baracka wants Israel to keep all of Jerusalem – so much for the Palestinian state – and Condee says the "goal will endure beyond the current American leadership". And I have a bird that sits in the palm tree outside my home in Beirut and blasts away, going "cheep-cheep-cheep-cheep-cheep" for about an hour every morning – which is why my landlord used to throw stones at it.

But I have a dear friend who believes that once there was an orchestra of birds outside my home and that one day, almost all of them – the ones which sounded like violins and trumpets – got tired of the war and flew away (to Cyprus, if they were wise, but perhaps on to Ireland), leaving only the sparrows with their discordant flutes to remind me of the stagnant world of the Middle East and our cowardly, mendacious politicians. "Cheep-cheep-cheep," they were saying again yesterday morning. "Cheap-cheap-cheap." And I rather think they are right.