Sunday, September 29, 2013

The TRANS-PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP, if passed, would be the worst thing ever done to the 99% by the 1%, bar none. If a demonstration against the TPP happens near you, join it! "Whatever issue you're concerned about, whether it's internet freedom, workers' rights, wages, the environment, health care, safety, consumer safety, all these issues will be adversely affected by the TPP because it'd become a corporate-dominated economy, a global economy. It's really a global corporate coup." -- Kevin Zeese

TPP Protestors Scale Trade Building To Bring Attention to Secretive Deal

Kevin Zeese: The Trans-Pacific Partnership has nothing to do with trade or freedom, and ongoing demonstrations could encourage those on the inside to speak up - 1 hour ago                                                   Original Here

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Kevin Zeese is co-director of It's Our Economy, an organization that advocates for democratizing the economy. He's also an attorney who is one of the original organizers of the National Occupation of Washington, DC. He has been active in independent and third party political campaigns including for state legislative offices in Maryland, governor of California and U.S. president, where he served as press secretary and spokesperson for Ralph Nader in 2004. He ran for the U.S. Senate in 2006 and was the only person ever nominated by the Green Party, Libertarian Party and Populist Party. His twitter is @KBZeese. 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Not only are your savings and checking accounts at risk in any of the big banks, they are also at risk in smaller banks foolish enough to invest in derivatives, because the big banks will loot them on the day of the dollar crash (probably within a year from now).

The Armageddon Looting Machine: The Looming Mass Destruction from Derivatives

Increased regulation and low interest rates are driving lending from the regulated commercial banking system into the unregulated shadow banking system. The shadow banks, although free of government regulation, are propped up by a hidden government guarantee in the form of safe harbor status under the 2005 Bankruptcy Reform Act pushed through by Wall Street. The result is to create perverse incentives for the financial system to self-destruct.

Five years after the financial collapse precipitated by the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy on September 15, 2008, the risk of another full-blown financial panic is still looming large, despite the Dodd Frank legislation designed to contain it. As noted in a recent Reuters article, the risk has just moved into the shadows:
[B]anks are pulling back their balance sheets from the fringes of the credit markets, with more and more risk being driven to unregulated lenders that comprise the $60 trillion “shadow-banking” sector.
Increased regulation and low interest rates have made lending to homeowners and small businesses less attractive than before 2008. The easy subprime scams of yesteryear are no more. The void is being filled by the shadow banking system. Shadow banking comes in many forms, but the big money today is in repos and derivatives. The notional (or hypothetical) value of the derivatives market has been estimated to be as high as $1.2 quadrillion, or twenty times the GDP of all the countries of the world combined.

According to Hervé Hannoun, Deputy General Manager of the Bank for International Settlements, investment banks as well as commercial banks may conduct much of their business in the shadow banking system (SBS), although most are not generally classed as SBS institutions themselves. At least one financial regulatory expert has said that regulated banking organizations are the largest shadow banks.

The Hidden Government Guarantee that Props Up the Shadow Banking System

According to Dutch economist Enrico Perotti, banks are able to fund their loans much more cheaply than any other industry because they offer “liquidity on demand.” The promise that the depositor can get his money out at any time is made credible by government-backed deposit insurance and access to central bank funding.  But what guarantee underwrites the shadow banks? Why would financial institutions feel confident lending cheaply in the shadow market, when it is not protected by deposit insurance or government bailouts?

Perotti says that liquidity-on-demand is guaranteed in the SBS through another, lesser-known form of government guarantee: “safe harbor” status in bankruptcy. Repos and derivatives, the stock in trade of shadow banks, have “superpriority” over all other claims. Perotti writes:
Security pledging grants access to cheap funding thanks to the steady expansion in the EU and US of “safe harbor status”. Also called bankruptcy privileges, this ensures lenders secured on financial collateral immediate access to their pledged securities. . .

Safe harbor status grants the privilege of being excluded from mandatory stay, and basically all other restrictions. Safe harbor lenders, which at present include repos and derivative margins, can immediately repossess and resell pledged collateral.

This gives repos and derivatives extraordinary super-priority over all other claims, including tax and wage claims, deposits, real secured credit and insurance claims. Critically, it ensures immediacy (liquidity) for their holders. Unfortunately, it does so by undermining orderly liquidation.
When orderly liquidation is undermined, there is a rush to get the collateral, which can actually propel the debtor into bankruptcy.

The amendment to the Bankruptcy Reform Act of 2005 that created this favored status for repos and derivatives was pushed through by the banking lobby with few questions asked. In a December 2011 article titled “Plan B – How to Loot Nations and Their Banks Legally,” documentary film-maker David Malone wrote:
This amendment which was touted as necessary to reduce systemic risk in financial bankruptcies . . . allowed a whole range of far riskier assets to be used . . . . The size of the repo market hugely increased and riskier assets were gladly accepted as collateral because traders saw that if the person they had lent to went down they could get [their] money back before anyone else and no one could stop them.
Burning Down the Barn to Get the Insurance

Safe harbor status creates the sort of perverse incentives that make derivatives “financial weapons of mass destruction,” as Warren Buffett famously branded them. It is the equivalent of burning down the barn to collect the insurance. Says Malone:
All other creditors – bond holders – risk losing some of their money in a bankruptcy. So they have a reason to want to avoid bankruptcy of a trading partner. Not so the repo and derivatives partners. They would now be best served by looting the company – perfectly legally – as soon as trouble seemed likely. In fact the repo and derivatives traders could push a bank that owed them money over into bankruptcy when it most suited them as creditors. When, for example, they might be in need of a bit of cash themselves to meet a few pressing creditors of their own.

The collapse of . . . Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers and AIG were all directly because repo and derivatives partners of those institutions suddenly stopped trading and ‘looted’ them instead.
The global credit collapse was triggered, it seems, not by wild subprime lending but by the rush to grab collateral by players with congressionally-approved safe harbor status for their repos and derivatives.

Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers were strictly investment banks, but now we have giant depository banks gambling in derivatives as well; and with the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act that separated depository and investment banking, they are allowed to commingle their deposits and investments. The risk to the depositors was made glaringly obvious when MF Global went bankrupt in October 2011. Malone wrote:
When MF Global went down it did so because its repo, derivative and hypothecation partners essentially foreclosed on it. And when they did so they then ‘looted’ the company. And because of the co-mingling of clients money in the hypothecation deals the ‘looters’ also seized clients money as well. . . JPMorgan allegedly has MF Global money while other people’s lawyers can only argue about it.
MF Global was followed by the Cyprus “bail-in” – the confiscation of depositor funds to recapitalize the country’s failed banks. This was followed by the coordinated appearance of bail-in templates worldwide, mandated by the Financial Stability Board, the global banking regulator in Switzerland.

The Auto-Destruct Trip Wire on the Banking System

Bail-in policies are being necessitated by the fact that governments are balking at further bank bailouts. In the US, the Dodd-Frank Act (Section 716) now bans taxpayer bailouts of most speculative derivative activities. That means the next time we have a Lehman-style event, the banking system could simply collapse into a black hole of derivative looting. Malone writes:
. . . The bankruptcy laws allow a mechanism for banks to disembowel each other. The strongest lend to the weaker and loot them when the moment of crisis approaches. The plan allows the biggest banks, those who happen to be burdened with massive holdings of dodgy euro area bonds, to leap out of the bond crisis and instead profit from a bankruptcy which might otherwise have killed them. All that is required is to know the import of the bankruptcy law and do as much repo, hypothecation and derivative trading with the weaker banks as you can.

. . . I think this means that some of the biggest banks, themselves, have already constructed and greatly enlarged a now truly massive trip wired auto-destruct on the banking system.
The weaker banks may be the victims, but it is we the people who will wind up holding the bag. Malone observes:

For the last four years who has been putting money in to the banks? And who has become a massive bond holder in all the banks? We have. First via our national banks and now via the Fed, ECB and various tax payer funded bail out funds. We are the bond holders who would be shafted by the Plan B looting. We would be the people waiting in line for the money the banks would have already made off with. . . .

. . . [T]he banks have created a financial Armageddon looting machine. Their Plan B is a mechanism to loot not just the more vulnerable banks in weaker nations, but those nations themselves. And the looting will not take months, not even days. It could happen in hours if not minutes.
Crisis and Opportunity: Building a Better Mousetrap

There is no way to regulate away this sort of risk. If both the conventional banking system and the shadow banking system are being maintained by government guarantees, then we the people are bearing the risk. We should be directing where the credit goes and collecting the interest. Banking and the creation of money-as-credit need to be made public utilities, owned by the public and having a mandate to serve the public. Public banks do not engage in derivatives.

Today, virtually the entire circulating money supply (M1, M2 and M3) consists of privately-created “bank credit” – money created on the books of banks in the form of loans. If this private credit system implodes, we will be without a money supply. One option would be to return to the system of government-issued money that was devised by the American colonists, revived by Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War, and used by other countries at various times and places around the world. Another option would be a system of publicly-owned state banks on the model of the Bank of North Dakota, leveraging the capital of the state backed by the revenues of the state into public bank credit for the use of the local economy.

Change happens historically in times of crisis, and we may be there again today.
Ellen Brown is an attorney, president of the Public Banking Institute, and author of twelve books including the best-selling Web of Debt. In The Public Bank Solution, her latest book, she explores successful public banking models historically and globally. Her websites are http://WebofDebt.com, and

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Are the mainstream media informing Americans of climate change? "Absolutely not." Says Subhankar Banerjee: "The corporate media is doing a dismal job. After my first piece was published about the Boulder Colorado flood last Friday, I received numerous comments from readers that the media is showing the tragedy and what is going on, but no one is raising a single question about if this event is related to climate change. Jaisal Noor, TRNN Producer: "...supporters of President Obama would say that he is confined by the political reality, lack of public support, and the Republicans, who will not back any real climate change initiatives. What's your response to people that say that President Obama is doing is much as he can?" Bannerjee: "That is absolutely not true, because you just mentioned the public. The public, as polls after poll show, are deeply concerned about climate change, and support, actually, public policy to address climate change. And you brought up the Republican. Republican leadership of course has been horrible. Bush was the oil president, and then Obama is following in his heels. But the public ...even some 70 percent Republicans are actually in support, do now understand, and believe climate change, and do support public policy to address it."

 theREALnews                                                                               Permalink

Colorado's Biblical Floods Linked To Climate Change Pt1: Subhankar Banerjee: 
The media has utterly failed its responsibility to inform the public of the link between climate change and worsening natural disasters - September 19, 13

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Obama's Climate Change Policies Are Imperialistic and Despotic Pt 2: 
Subhankar Banerjee: The Obama administration's focus on oil extraction and emphasis on fracking is not addressing climate change - September 19, 13                                                                       Original Here

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Subhankar Banerjee is an environmental humanities scholar and activist. Over the past thirteen years he has worked tirelessly for the conservation of ecoculturally significant areas of the Arctic, and to raise awareness about indigenous human rights and climate change. He has also been focusing on climate change impacts in the desert southwest. He founded, and is editor of the anthology Arctic Voices: Resistance at the Tipping Point which will be published in paperback on October 8, 2013 (Seven Stories Press). He was recently Director’s Visitor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, Distinguished Visiting Professor at Fordham University in New York, received Distinguished Alumnus Award from the New Mexico State University, and Cultural Freedom Award from Lannan Foundation.

Monday, September 23, 2013

If any of my Democratic friends still believe that Bill Clinton and Al Gore did right by our humanist hopes and wishes, this extremely well researched article by Jeffrey St. Clair and Alexander Cockburn puts an end to our credulity once and for all. Read it and weep.

September 23, 2013 | Original Here                                             Go here to sign up to receive email notice of this news letter

Guest Column — The War On The Poor — Jeffrey St. Clair & Alexander Cockburn

The American poor are being driven into the ground. Not only is owning a home out of the question, but also the poor can’t even afford to rent. They lack the money for a damage deposit, and they lack the cash for the large deposits that utility companies require in order to have utilities connected.

The declining ability of the poor to rent is adversely affecting those who provide rental shelter to the poor.

For the dispossessed middle class, foreclosure on a home is often just the beginning of trouble. If, for example, a bank forecloses on a home with a $200,000 mortgage and sells the house for $100,000, under some circumstances the IRS treats the $100,000 difference as income to the foreclosed homeowner and requires the bank to issue a 1099 form to the homeowner showing taxable income of $100,000.

Alternatively, if the sale does not cover the mortgage, the bank can come after other property that the foreclosed homeowner might possess, such as a second home, car, work equipment, checking account balance. For example, a construction subcontractor who loses his home and moves his family into the office or construction trailer on the lot where he keeps the backhoe loader and work truck can find himself dispossessed of these assets in order to apply the proceeds to the difference between his mortgage and the price at which the bank sells his foreclosed home.

Americans who have not been personally affected by foreclosure have little idea how the system is rigged in favor of the banks that caused the problem and against the victims of financial deregulation.

In the article below, Jeffrey St. Clair and Alexander Cockburn show that the assault on the poor began with the Clinton administration.
Copyright CounterPunch, posted with permission
Welfare Reform and an Ever-Expanding Police State
The Origins of the Neoliberal War on the Poor

In November of 1994 two years of ramshackle government, breached pledges and the Clinton administration’s frequently manifested contempt for its traditional base, exacted their price. In the midterm elections Republicans seized control of both the House and the Senate for the first time since the Eisenhower era. The rout extended to governors’ mansions across the country, where the Republicans captured the majority of governorships for the first time in a quarter-century. Newt Gingrich, the new Speaker of the House, became the nation’s political wunderkind.

Yet for Bill Clinton the Democratic defeat held its paradoxical allure. The old-line Democratic Congressional leadership no longer held sway on the Hill. Tom Foley and Dan Rostenkowski were gone altogether–one back to the Inland Empire of the Pacific Northwest and the other to a federal penitentiary. The White House no longer had to dicker with hostility to its agenda from New Deal-oriented Democrats. Without the threat of a presidential veto to lend clout to their resistance, the liberal Democrats on the Hill were impotent against the Republicans flourishing their Contract with America. Thus unencumbered, the Clinton administration could cut deals with the Republican leadership.

All this strategy needed was a name, and soon after the election Bill Clinton summoned in the man who would introduce “triangulation” into the lexicon of the late 1990s.

Dick Morris, a man of elastic political scruple, had enjoyed a fluctuating relationship with Clinton. He’d bailed out the young governor of Arkansas after the latter’s first comeuppance at the hands of the voters in 1980. Since then Morris had served many masters, ranging from the millionaire socialist from Ohio, Howard Metzenbaum, to Bella Abzug of New York, to Trent Lott of Mississippi (“I love his feisty, shit-on-the-shoes style”) and Jesse Helms of North Carolina. Morris worked as a consultant for Helms in 1990, in a particularly foul campaign against the black Democratic challenger, Harvey Gantt.

Morris came to the White House with the purpose of providing new ideas and a new strategy. He says Clinton told him, “I’ve lost confidence in my current team.” Morris commenced his mission of refreshment under conditions of secrecy, code-named Charlie, his function at first known only to the Clintons. His advice: steal the Republicans’ thunder, draw down the deficit, reform welfare, cut back government regulation and “use Gore’s reinventing government program to cut the public sector’s size.” The president should demonstrate toughness, Morris counseled, with decisive action overseas.

As the new Republican leadership took over in January of 1995, Clinton summoned Gore to the Oval Office, disclosed the hiring of Morris and instructed the vice president to work with him. “Charlie” then laid out the new agenda for Gore. Morris later wrote, “He grasped what I was saying at once and offered his full support. Gore told me that he had been increasingly troubled by the drift of the White House. He said he had tried, in vain, to move the administration toward the center, but the White House staff had shut him out, Gore said, ‘We need a change here, a big change, and I’m hoping and praying that you’re the man to bring it.’ We shook hands on our alliance.”

Soon Morris, Gore and Clinton came to two fateful decisions. As part of the strategy of stealing the Republicans’ thunder, Morris urged an intensive fundraising drive, aimed at amassing “soft money” for TV spots designed to boost the new Clinton agenda, trump the Republicans and detour the old-line concerns of the Democrats at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue. Soft money earns that much-abused name because it can be raised in amounts not limited by campaign spending laws; it can be procured directly from corporations, labor unions or other institutions so long as the money is used to promote “issues” rather than specific candidates. That at least is how the law supposed soft money would work. Morris knew very well that the issue ads would be identified directly with Clinton, because they would sound themes Morris himself had prescribed. To execute these ads Morris and Gore turned to the latter’s longtime media consultant, Bob Squier. Down the road lay many a funding scandal, not least the Buddhist temple imbroglio that found Al Gore on the receiving end of thousands of dollars in contributions from monks and nuns supposedly ennobled by the spiritual distinction of poverty. But such things were still a year away.

The time had come to go public with the new line. Morris drafted a speech for Clinton in which the president would announce that he was ready to work with the Republicans. It laid out the grounds on which the President was prepared to meet Newt Gingrich. Within the White House there was a storm of protest, led by Leon Panetta, Clinton’s chief of staff and onetime California congressman, who was aghast at what he correctly perceived to be the betrayal of his former colleagues on the Hill.

As Panetta presented his case, Clinton began to tilt toward his position. Morris sensed crisis at hand. At the crucial moment, so he relates, Gore, who had been silently following the debate, made a decisive intervention. “I agree with Dick’s point, that we need to emerge from the shadows and place ourselves at the center of the debate with the Republicans by articulating what we will accept and what we will not in a clear and independent way.” It was music to Morris’s ears, and he cried, “Bravo!”

For Morris, as for his employer, polls were everything. He developed what he called a “neuro-psychological profile” of the American voter, and established an iron rule that no initiative could be undertaken by the White House unless polling showed an approval rating of 60 percent. By constant polling he concocted what he called a “values agenda”. At the top of the list was affirmative action. “Mend it, don’t end it” was the mantra, which meant, in practice, destroy affirmative action from the inside while professing support for the general principle.

Next came TV violence. Intimidate the networks, Morris advised, into adopting a “voluntary” system of ratings for TV shows and movies. Soon media executives were summoned to the White House for a session with Clinton and Gore. Simultaneously Clinton pushed for installation of the so-called V-chip in all new TV sets, which would allow parents to block all offensive material. Next came teen pregnancy, an issue pounded on by the Clinton White House, even though the rate had been falling. Education: go after tenured teachers, an attack increasingly popular in Morris’s focus groups, and demand that at least they be tested. Youth: advocate school uniforms and curfews for teens. Gay marriage: on Morris’s advice Clinton and Gore embraced the Defense of Marriage Act, a purely grandstanding piece of legislation which preemptively bars gay marriages from recognition under federal law for any purpose. Immigration: the poll numbers were off the chart, and the Clinton White House duly set a goal to double the number of turn-backs by the Immigration and Naturalization Service–among other things, enlisting the Labor Department to help speed the pace and breadth of workplace raids. Taxes: Morris believed that Main Street America was now playing the market, so that a 20 percent reduction in the capital gains tax rate would be hugely popular.

But there were two issues that towered above the rest in Morris’s assaying of public opinion: welfare and crime. In the 1992 campaign, Clinton had pledged to “end welfare as we know it.” In 1993, Gore had urged Clinton to declare war on welfare as part of the first 100 days and had implored the president to let him lead the charge. After all, Gore argued, he was one of the few Democratic senators to have supported a welfare-to-work law narrowly approved in 1988, forcing states to require parents getting welfare checks to work at least 16 hours per week in unpaid jobs. But Hillary thought an attack on welfare would divert energy from her health care package, and Gore lost the battle.

By 1995 the welfare rolls were shrinking, from a peak of 18 million in the recession of 1991 to about 12.8 million. Defenders of the system in Clinton’s cabinet, Labor Secretary Robert Reich and Donna Shalala of Heath and Human Services, argued that the total budget for Aid to Families with Dependent Children was a tiny fraction of the federal budget; indeed, it was only 14 percent of the amount devoted to Medicare, a middle-class entitlement. The real problem, they argued, was lack of training for the chronically underemployed and unemployed.

Reflexively hostile to welfare and fortified by Morris’s polls, Clinton pressed ahead. The administration began granting waivers to states to implement their own onslaughts on welfare, feature “workfare” requirements, time limits and “family caps”, a punishment for women who dared to have more than the approved number of children the government would help support. Through 1995 and early in 1996 the Republicans had passed and sent to Clinton two bills to dismantle the federal welfare system. He vetoed both, but in his veto messages he stressed that he agreed with much of their content in principle. Peter Edelman, a high level official at HHS, described this as “the squeeze play”, whereby Clinton would reap approval from Democratic New Dealers for standing up for poor kids while at the same time signaling that in the long run he’d throw the mothers of those kids off the rolls altogether.

As they approached the Democratic convention in the summer of 1996, Clinton was floating on Morris’s magic carpet. Assisted by staggering blunders by Gingrich and a lackluster opponent in Bob Dole, Clinton was ahead by no less than 27 percent in the polls. The Republicans were eager to wrap up their legislative work before the conventions in July and August. They pushed through a welfare bill arguably worse than the ones Clinton had vetoed previously. Many Democrats on the Hill believed that Clinton would veto this bill too. But Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York had more sensitive political antennae. He warned, “I’ve heard that the leaders of the cabinet recommended a veto but that the president remains under the sway of his pollsters.”

On July 30, 1996, Clinton mustered his cabinet to hear arguments on whether or not he should sign the Republicans’ bill. One by one his advisers said he should not. No’s from people like Shalala and Reich came as no surprise. But similarly disapproving were not only Leon Panetta but Laura Tyson, his chief economic adviser, Henry Cisneros of HUD and even Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, who said that too many people would be harmed by the bill and that it show an act of political courage to veto it.

Not trusting Shalala’s department to produce objective assessments of the consequences of the bill, the White House staff had commissioned a survey from the Urban Institute, a DC think tank. The numbers were dire. The bill would push 2.6 million people further into poverty–1.1 million of them children. In all, the Institute predicted that 11 million families would lose income. That was the best-case scenario. In the event of a recession (which would come in 2001), the numbers would be far, far worse. In that fateful cabinet meeting Rubin invoked this study, and the numbers seemed to find their mark with Clinton, while Gore remained mute.

The meeting came to an end and Clinton, Panetta and Gore headed for the Oval Office for a private session. All accounts agree that, first, Panetta again made the case for a veto, laying particular emphasis on an appalling provision in the bill that would deny legal immigrants federal assistance, such as food stamps. Finally Gore broke his silence and urged Clinton to sign.

Clinton, Morris and Gore prepared a press statement, delivered by the president later that same day. Clinton admitted that the bill contained “serious flaws” but went on to say, “This is the best chance we will have in a long time to complete the work of ending welfare as we know it.” No one at the press conference quizzed Clinton on this curious claim. After all, the election was only about three months away. By early fall of 1996 it was clear The Democrats had a chance of regaining the House. Would not that recapture afford a better chance of crafting a welfare bill not compromised by Gingrich and the others?

To this day many Democrats in Congress become incensed on the topic of what Clinton and Gore did. One the eve of a Democratic convention, with Gingrich already ensconced in the national imagination as the Bad Guy, Clinton had just made common cause with him, thus undercutting all plans to campaign against the Gingrich Congress. As for Al Gore the consensus was that he was looking ahead to a possible challenge in 2000 from his old rival Dick Gephardt. With Morris’s polls showing that an attack on welfare scored well over the 60 percent bar, Gore would have the advantage over Gephardt or any other liberal challenger.

Suspicions about Gore deepened as the fall campaign proceeded. The president and vice president argued that it was crucial that they be re-elected so that they fix the problems with the welfare bill they had just signed. The problems here concerned not the welfare bill itself but the denial of federal services to legal immigrants and a slash in the food stamp program. In October of 1996, with the presidential election no longer in doubt, Democratic candidates came to the Democratic National Committee urgently seeking infusions of cash to help them in the crucial final weeks. Finally, Senator Christopher Dodd of Connecticut, then the general chairman of the DNC, organized a meeting with Clinton and Gore. Dodd explained that the two were home safe and there was a chance to recapture the House. Clinton seemed amenable to a release of funds. Gore adamantly disagreed. On one account, Gore was the only person in the White House to oppose this transfer of funds from the presidential campaign to congressional races. It’s a measure of how a number of Democrats view Al Gore that some participants in that meeting felt that the only explanation for his conduct was that he did not want the Democrats to re-take control of the House because victory would elevate Gephardt to Speaker of the House.

The cynicism may not have stopped there. Why did Clinton and Gore decide to sign on to that third Republican welfare bill? The only major difference from the previous ones came in the form of the denial of federal services to legal immigrants and a $2.5 billion cut in the food stamp program. It’s likely that these two Republican add-ons were what allured the White House, because (as noted above) Clinton could then turn to the liberals saying they needed him to be re-elected so he could repair part of the damage wrought by the very bill he had just signed. In fact the White House probably could have insisted the riders be dropped, because Dole desperately wanted a legislative victory under the Republicans’ belt.

The welfare bill ended a federal entitlement that had been a cornerstone of the New Deal. It caps the federal contribution to welfare programs at $14.6 billion a year and hands the money over in block grants to the states to distribute as they see fit. The main requirement is that the states agree that welfare recipients can spend no more than a total of five years in their lifetime on welfare. It allows states to adopt even harsher standards. Finally, under the old system, welfare money came to the recipient as cash. Under the new system, the money can be given to intermediaries, for possible conversion to other services such as housing or food. Al Gore particularly liked this provision. In Atlanta in May of 1999, he told an audience why: “It allows faith-based organizations to provide basic welfare services. They can do so with public funds–without having to alter the religious character that is so often the key to their effectiveness. We should extend this approach to drug treatment, homelessness and youth violence prevention. People who work in faith-and values-based organizations are driven by their spiritual commitment. They have done what government can never do: provide compassionate care. Their client is not a number but a child of god.” In other words, treat welfare payments like school vouchers. Gore had just laid out the welcome mat for Bush’s faith-based initiatives.

Not long after Clinton signed the welfare bill, judgment came from Senator Moynihan, who had begun his service to the state back in the sixties with sermons about the “pathology” of the black family and now, bizarrely, was defending the system he’d denounced for years. Even this man of all seasons and all masters was shocked: “It is a social risk no sane person would take, and I mean that. If you think things can’t get worse, just wait until there are a third of a million people on the streets It’s not welfare reform; it’s welfare repeal.”

Hugh Price, president of the National Urban League, called the bill “an abomination for America’s most vulnerable mothers and children” and accused Clinton, Gore and the Congress of defecting from a war on poverty and “waging a war against poor people instead.”

Within weeks three high-ranking officials in the Department of Health and Human Services had resigned: Mary Jo Bane, Walter Primus and Peter Edelman. That was it. Across the length and breadth of the Clinton administration, only these resignations were tendered in principle against this abandonment of the New Deal and the shafting of America’s poor. Since that time Edelman has missed no opportunity to denounce the bill as a punitive strike against defenseless people. “The bill closes its eyes to all the facts and complexities of the real world and essentially says to recipients: find a job.”

The edict “find a job” was central to the bill and to the mythology nourished by opponents of welfare-that freeloaders with jobs available to them were abusing the system. Of course, there is always some abuse, but study after study had shown that most welfare recipients had looked for jobs and couldn’t find a suitable one or had been on welfare for a limited period, then found a job and got off the rolls. In 1999 a University of Michigan study making an assessment three years after the welfare bill went into effect found that the welfare population faces “unusually high barriers to work: such as physical and mental health problems, domestic violence and lack of transportation.” More than 30 percent of the families on welfare are constrained by disability, a sick child, no child care or an infirm relative. Those that want to find work are faced with narrow options even in an economy hyped as in mid-boom. In 1996 the Congressional Budget Office offered some bleak realities about the reserve army of the unemployed. With an official unemployment rate of four percent (the unofficial rate is roughly twice that, since government figures don’t count frustrated people who have given up looking for work), there are still three to five people needing work for each available job. In the Bush recession, this ratio rose to more than 10 to one.

In urban areas the job market is even more constricted. A 1998 study in Harlem showed just how brutally competitive the low-wage job market is. Over a five-month period, an average of fourteen people applied for each job opening at a local McDonalds. A year later researchers from the University of Chicago found that 73 percent of those same job searchers still hadn’t found even minimum wage level work.

In many states, there’s the last resort of workfare, which compels welfare recipients to accept public jobs, such as highway clean-up or garbage picking with the Parks Department, in return for benefits. Nationally the average benefit for workfare jobs is $381 per month, which works out to $4.40 an hour, or 80 percent of the minimum wage. But in some places it’s much worse. Mississippi, for example, requires single mothers to work twenty hours a week at $1.38 an hour, and a two-parent household to work fifty-five hours at 50 cents an hour.

On top of this the people in the workfare labor force are denied such basic rights as collective bargaining, unemployment insurance, the earned income tax credit and Social Security credit. States are finding it to their budgetary advantage to fill job vacancies with these “slavefare” workers. A Senate study in 1996 estimated that the consequences of welfare reform would depress the wages of the working poor by 12 percent.

Allowing the states to freelance their welfare programs has resulted in some particularly cruel policies and inequities. Minnesota spends $50 million a year on child care for single mothers receiving welfare benefits who are working or looking for work. New York spends $54 million to serve a population six times as large. Clinton and Gore repeatedly touted the approach taken by Indiana, where welfare reform was instituted by a Democratic governor, Evan Bayh, and his successor in the governor’s mansion, Frank O’Bannon. The pair presided over the shrinking of the welfare rolls in the Hoosier state by 30 percent. There’s no way to know if those people actually found work. It’s possible that the conditions of supervision of welfare recipients simply became unbearable and they left the program and perhaps the state. Under Indiana’s scheme, one missed job-training course means the loss of a welfare check for two months. A second infraction means loss of benefits for a year. A third strike and you’re out for good.

The Clinton welfare bill also includes a provision that allows states to begin drug testing welfare recipients. In theory the provision was aimed at people suspected of having drug problems. Oregon, for example, initiated a testing policy but soon reversed course when recipients began dropping out of the welfare program to avoid testing. The state found that it was better to stop drug testing, keep people in the program and steer addicts into treatment. Michigan took a different approach. In 1999 the state adopted a mandatory drug-testing policy for all welfare recipients, which prompted a lawsuit by the ACLU. A federal judge ruled in 1999 that the policy was unconstitutional. He noted that in the five weeks of the program’s operation there were positive drug tests in only eight percent of the cases, and all but three of those were for marijuana.

In his 2000 campaign, Al Gore pushed for what he called “Welfare Reform 2″, saying that more remained to be done to weed out cheats and freeloaders. He was particularly vehement in attacking dads behind on child support, vowing that he would make it easier for credit care companies to deny credit to such fathers. This would have come on top of a program, initiated by Janet Reno in her Florida years, whereby fathers behind on their payments get their driver’s license lifted, meaning that they can’t drive to work. In 1995, Clinton, Gore and Morris put into operation a program that saw these father’s mug shots put up in Post Offices, their federal benefits garnished and the IRS sent on their trail. This pattern of inflicting administrative conviction outside the court system and due process is integral to the Clinton/Gore philosophy on crime.

The Clinton crime bill of 1994 introduced mandatory life imprisonment for persons convicted of a third felony in certain categories. It maintained the 100-to-1 disproportion in sentencing for crimes involving powder and crack cocaine, even though the US Sentencing Commission had concluded that the disparity was racist. It expanded to fifty the number of crimes that could draw the death penalty in a federal court, reaching even to crimes that did not include murders–the largest expansion of the death penalty in history. Pell grants giving prisoners an avenue to higher education were cut off. Federal judges were stripped of their powers to enforce the constitutional rights of prisoners and the power of states to set sentencing standards for drug crimes was greatly diminished.

The curtailment of states’ rights went further. Grants for new prisons contained the provision that receipt of the money was dependent on the states ensuring that prisoners served at least 85 percent of their sentences. These inmates, remember, had been convicted in state, not federal, courts so this was simply federal blackmail to curtail parole at the state level. The Clinton administration also pressed the states to try juvenile offenders as adults. Gore articulated the administration’s position: “When young people cross the line, they must be punished. When young people commit serious, violent crimes, they should be prosecuted like adults.” Nonviolent offenders were to be sent to boot camps. Not, it should be noted, his own kids, who evaded punishment for nonviolent infractions such as smoking pot and having an open alcohol container in the car.

The Clinton/Gore administration was particularly assiduous in its assaults on the Fourth Amendment, protecting citizens against unreasonable searches and seizures. In 1994, they successfully pressed for a bill providing all communications providers to make existing and future communication systems wiretap ready. They also pushed hard for the so-called Clipper Chip, an encryption device that makes it easy for law enforcement and intelligence agencies to snoop on private messages.

The high-water mark in the Clinton administration’s attack on the Bill of Rights came in 1996 with the Counter-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, which among other horrors allowed the INS to deport immigrants without due process, and denied prisoners the right to appeal to the federal bench based on habeas corpus petitions. “When historians write the story of civil liberties in the twentieth century,” said Ira Glasser, head of the ACLU, “they will say that the Clinton administration adopted an agenda that has everything to do with weakening civil rights and nothing to do with combating terrorism.”

In May of 2000, Gore outlined his campaign posture on crime and drugs in another speech in Atlanta. The erstwhile dope-smoker from Tennessee evidently feared that the man who refused to discuss cocaine use in his early years, George W. Bush, had the edge on the crime issue. Gore proclaimed he wanted to swaddle communities in “a blanket of blue”. He swore that the minute he settled in the Oval Office, President Gore would call for 50,000 more cops (i.e., more half-trained recruits like the ones who shot Amadou Diallo forty-one times in the Bronx) and would allow off-duty cops to carry concealed weapons (which they almost all do anyway).

Gore promised prisoners what he called a simple deal: “Before you get out of jail you have to get clean. If you want to stay out, then you better stay clean. We have to stop that revolving door once and for all. First we have to test prisoners for drugs while they’re in jail”. Gore was so blithe in his disregard for elementary rights that he was unable to see a distinction between a prison sentence fully served and a further punitive add-on: “We have to insist on more prison time for those who don’t break the habit”. Even after prisoners are released the eye of the state would still follow them: “We should impose strict supervision on those who have just been released–and insist they obey the law and stay off drugs”.

Another feature of Al Gore’s prospective war on crime was the especially vigorous targeting of minority youth. “I will fight for a federal law that helps communities establish gang-free zones with curfews on specific gang members, a ban on gang-related clothing and the specific legal authority to break violent teen gangs once and for all”.

Both parties have eagerly conjoined in militarizing the police, extending police powers and carving away basic rights. Often the Democrats have been worse. It was Republican Representative Henry Hyde of Illinois who led the partially successful charge in 1999 against the seizure of assets in drug cases. It was Democrat Senator Charles Schumer of New York who played the role of factotum for the Justice Department in trying to head off Hyde and his coalition.

The rise of the Jackboot State has marched in lockstep with the insane and ineffective War on Drugs. This has been an entirely bi-partisan affair. Its consequences are etched into the fabric of our lives. Just think of drug testing, now a virtually mandatory condition of employment, even though it’s an outrageous violation of personal sovereignty, as well as being thoroughly unreliable. In an era in which America has been led by three self-confessed pot smokers–Clinton, Gore and Bush–the number of people held for drug crimes in federal prisons has increased by 64 percent.

No-knock raids are becoming more common as federal, state and local politicians and law enforcement agencies decide that the war on drugs justify dumping the Fourth Amendment. Even in states where search warrants require a knock on the door before entry, police routinely flout the requirement.

The Posse Comitatus Act forbidding military involvement in domestic law enforcement is rapidly becoming as dead as the Fourth Amendment. Because of drug war exceptions created in that act, every region of the United States now has a Joint Task Force staff in charge of coordinating military involvement in domestic law enforcement. The involvement has now expanded to include anti-terrorism investigations.

In many cases, street deployment of paramilitary units is funded by “community policing” grants from the federal government. The majority of police departments use their paramilitary units to serve “dynamic entry” search warrants. The SWAT Team in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, conducted a large-scale crack raid of an entire block in a predominantly black neighborhood. The raid, termed Operation Redi-Rock, resulted in the detention and search of up to 100 people, all of whom were black. (Whites were allowed to leave the area.) No one was ever prosecuted for a crime. In Albany, New York, not long before the change-of-venue trial there of the four white cops who had killed Amadou Diallo in the Bronx, police in camouflage uniforms went on a ransacking spree in the black neighborhood of Arbor Hill, beating down doors house-to-house in search of a black suspect.

Where there is no social program, there’s always a violence program. For the Clinton/Gore administration welfare reform and expansion of the police state were not only means to trump the Republicans; they were also essential to economic policy. Intense competition for jobs at the lowest rungs would depress wages, pit poor and working-class people against each other and, where workfare recipients displace municipal workers, weaken labor unions. The spectre and reality of incarceration would have the traditional effect of suppressing the dangerous classes, at a time when the wage gap between the rich and the poor grew wider than at any time in recent history.

This essay is adapted from Dime’s Worth of Difference by Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair.

Friday, September 20, 2013

As the United Empire of America and Israel searches for new ways to bomb and/or destabilize Syria in order to get at Iran and corner Russia and China, these three countries are forming a win-win free-trade alliance without dropping a single bomb. Pepe Escobar tells you how they're doing it.

OpEdNews Op Eds 9/13/2013 at 22:21:47
China stitches up (SCO) Silk Road
By (about the author)     Permalink

Headlined to H2 9/13/13

Source: Asia Times

While the whole world was terrified by the prospect of the Obama administration bombing Syria, Chinese President Xi Jinping was busy doing the Silk Road. 

One has to love that famous Deng Xiaoping dictum; "Always maintain a low profile." This being the second-largest economy in the world, "low profile" always packs a mighty punch. Cue to September 7, in Astana, Kazakhstan's capital, when Xi officially proposed no less than a New Silk Road in co-production with Central Asia. 

Xi's official "economic belt along the Silk Road" is a supremely ambitious, Chinese-fueled trans-Eurasian integration mega-project, from the Pacific to the Baltic Sea; a sort of mega free-trade zone. Xi's rationale seems to be unimpeachable; the belt is the home of "close to 3 billion people and represents the biggest market in the world with unparalleled potential."  

Talk about a "wow" factor. But does that mean that China is taking over all of the Central Asian "stans"? It's not that simple. 

A roomful of mirrors 

On Xi's Silk Road trip, the final destination was Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan's capital, for the 13th summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). And to cap it all off, nothing less than a graphic reminder of the stakes involved in the New Great Game in Eurasia; a joint meeting on the sidelines of the SCO, featuring Xi, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and new Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. 

This is Rouhani's first foreign trip since he took office on August 4. Not an epic like Xi's; only two days in Bishkek. In a preliminary meeting face-to-face with Xi, Rouhani even started speaking "diplomatic Chinese" -- as in the upcoming negotiations over the Iranian nuclear dossier leading, hopefully, to a "win-win" situation. Xi emphatically supported Iran's right to a peaceful nuclear program under the Non-Proliferation Treaty, while Rouhani stressed the Iran-China relationship "bears vital significance for Asia and the sensitive Middle East issue."

And that leads to the common Iran-China-Russia front in relation to Syria. Even before meeting with Putin, Rouhani had agreed with the Russian four-part plan for Syria, which, as Asia Times Online had reported, was brokered between Damascus, Tehran and Moscow (See Al-Qaeda's air force still on stand-by, September 11, 2013). According to the plan, Damascus joins the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW); discloses the location of chemical stockpiles; allows OPCW inspectors access to the sites; and then comes the long process of destroying the stockpiles. 

In the nuclear front, Tehran and Moscow remain open for business. Russia will hand operation of Unit 1 of the Bushehr nuclear power plant over to Iran in less than two weeks. And there will be more "cooperation" ahead. 

The importance of this triangulation cannot be overstated. Oh, to be a fly on the wall in that Xi-Putin-Rouhani Kyrgyz room. Tehran, Moscow and Beijing are more than ever united on bringing about a new multipolar international order. They share the vision that a victory for the axis of warmongers on Syria will be the prelude for a future war on Iran -- and further harassment of both Russia and China. 

The God of the market, it's us

Meanwhile, monster business -- and strategic -- opportunities beckon in the Eurasian corridor. Xi's Silk Road Economic Belt, with trademark Chinese pragmatism, is all about free trade, connectivity and currency circulation (mostly, of course, in yuan). It's ready to go because there are no more border problems between Russia and Central Asia. It ties up perfectly with China's push to develop its Far West -- as in Xinjiang; consider the extra strategic Central Asian support for the development of China's Far West. 

Here's an example. At a China-Eurasia Expo in Urumqi, Xinjiang's capital, earlier this week, China Telecom and two Hong Kong telecom companies signed seven deals with the governments and companies from Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Russia and Mongolia. Not many people know that Urumqi boasts more than 230 Internet companies; nearly half are connected with neighboring countries. Xinjiang is not only about Han Chinese encroaching on Uyghurs; it's no less than the communications base for the Eurasian corridor - a hub for broadband and cloud computing. 

Beijing is already massively investing in new roads and bridges along the Eurasian Land Bridge -- another denomination of the New Silk Road. As Asia Times Online has reported, the New Silk Road is all about highways, railways, fiber optics and pipelines -- with now the added Chinese push for logistics centers, manufacturing hubs and, inevitably, new townships. 

There are plenty of Pipelineistan gambits to implement, and a lot of mineral resources to be exploited. And, crucially -- considering the original Silk Road traversed Afghanistan -- there's also the prospect of an Afghan revival as a privileged bridge between Central, East and South Asia. Not to mention speeding up China's land access to both Europe and the Middle East. 

In China, no major decisions such as this are "spontaneous," but there's a neat softening PR behind it. In Astana, Xi said, "my home, Shaanxi province, is the start of the ancient Silk Road"; and he was "moved" as he reviewed Silk Road history during the trip. 

He indulged in sightseeing in Samarkand's fabulous Registan square, flanked by Uzbek President Islam Karimov, and even waxed "poetic," telling Karimov, "this gives us a special feeling. We are far away in distance, but we are also so near to each other in our soul. It is just like time travel." Well, the Timurid empire has finally met its match. It's not that China hadn't done it before; during the Western Han dynasty (206 BC - AD 24), imperial envoy Zhang Qian was dispatched to Central Asia twice to open up China to global trade. 

"Poetic" or not, Xi was always on message. All along his Silk Road trip, he left no doubts this is a foreign policy priority for China. China has now established strategic partnerships with all five Central Asian "stans."

The Pipelineistan angle

Kashagan is your usual Pipelineistan nightmare. Significantly, on 9/11 this week, the North Caspian Operating Co, which runs Kashagan -- one of the largest oil fields discovered in the past 40 years, with 35 billion barrels in reserves -- said the first oil was finally in sight.

Kashagan is in the northern Caspian Sea. I've been there. Technically, oil extraction is immensely complex; that is certainly the case here. Production should have started in 2005. No less than US$46 billion has been spent by a consortium featuring Italy's ENI, France's Total, Royal Dutch/Shell, ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips. Nasty bickering has been the norm. A week ago, Astana finally signed an agreement for China's CNPC to buy the former ConocoPhillips' 8.4% share. 

With China stepping in, major hard cash will flow. Beijing is determined to become a major player in the Kazakh energy market. Ideally, Kashagan should be producing 370,000 barrels a day in 2014 and 1.6 million barrels by 2016. 

China's strategy in Kazakhstan is basically about oil. But China also badly needs a lot of natural gas. Russia's Gazprom is betting on Beijing's non-stop thirst for gas to facilitate its shift from exporting mainly to Europe. But competition is stiff. And Turkmenistan is a key part of China's equation. 

China is already planning expansions for the Central Asia-China pipeline -- which it built and paid for. Exports should be up by 2015. In his Silk Road trip, Xi naturally hit Turkmenistan, inaugurating no less than one of the largest gas fields in the world, massive Galkynysh, which began production only three months ago. Most of the gas will flow through -- where else -- the pipeline to China. China is paying the bill, $8 billion so far, and counting. 

Turkmenistan's economy now virtually depends on natural gas exports to China (at 60% of GDP). Beijing's ultimate strategy is to use its Turkmenistan leverage to extract better gas deals from Gazprom. 

Kyrgyzstan also features in China's Pipelineistan strategy. Beijing will finance and operate the proposed Kyrgyzstan-China gas pipeline -- which will be a key part of the fourth Turkmenistan-China pipeline. Beijing is also building a railroad linking it to with Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. 

Observing all this frenzy, we have to come back to the ultimate adage of the times; while the (Washington) dogs of war bark, the (Chinese) caravan does deals. 

Those three evils 

The SCO is also involved in boosting this major transportation route connecting East Asia, West Asia and South Asia, and ultimately the Pacific to the Baltic Sea. 

Yet Stalin's legacy lives -- as in the demented way he partitioned Central Asia. China will need to shell out a fortune in transportation. Chinese trains are always in trouble traveling on Soviet-era railways. Airline service is dodgy. For instance, there's only one flight every two days between Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan (I took it; always crowded, the usual delays, stranded luggage ...) 

The SCO was founded 12 years ago, when Uzbekistan joined the members of the original Shanghai Five; China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Turkmenistan preferred its splendid isolation. 

The original emphasis was on mutual security. But now the SCO encompasses politics and economics as well. Yet the obsession remains on what the Chinese define as "the three evil forces" of terrorism, separatism and extremism. That's code for the Taliban and its offshoots, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) and the Uyghurs in Xinjiang. The SCO also tries to fight drug trafficking and arms smuggling. 

Again in classic Chinese style, the SCO is spun as fostering "mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality, consultation, respect for diverse civilizations and seeking common development," in an atmosphere of "non-alliance, non-confrontation and not being directed against any third party." 

It may go a long way before becoming a sort of Eastern NATO. But it's increasingly carving its territory as a direct counterpunch to NATO -- not to mention Washington's Central/South Asian chapter of the Global War on Terror (GWOT) and the push for "color revolutions." The SCO is actively discussing its regional options after Washington's withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2014. China and Russia will be deeply involved. Same for Iran -- for the moment a SCO observer. 

Xi's Silk Road belt, in principle, is not detonating alarm bells in the Kremlin. The Kremlin spin is that Russia and China's economies are complementary -- as in China's "sizable financial resources" matching Russia's "technologies, industrial skills and historical relations with the region."

One wonders what the adults in assorted rooms in the Beltway think about all this (assuming they know it's happening). Former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton used to wax lyrical about an American-propped New Silk Road. Well, after Xi's trip that sounds like yet another Barack Obama campaign promise. 

Pepe Escobar is the roving correspondent for Asia Times. His regular column, "The Roving Eye," is widely read. He is an analyst for the online news channel Real News, the roving correspondent for Asia Times/Hong Kong, an analyst for RT and TomDispatch, and a frequent contributor to websites and radio shows ranging from the US to East Asia.  He argues that the world has become fragmented into "stans" -- we are now living an intestinal war, an undeclared global civil war. He has published three books on geopolitics, including the spectacularly-titled "Globalistan: How the Globalised World Is Dissolving Into Liquid War".
His latest book is "Obama Does Globalistan."

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

One of the Greatest Truths Seldom Told. Are you up to hearing it?


September 16, 2013 | Original Here                                             Go here to sign up to receive email notice of this news letter


By readers’ request, this is a reposting of a translation of a Pakistani National TV interview with an eyewitness to the alleged SEAL Team Six attack that allegedly killed Osama bin Laden. I made the translation available two years ago in an article prior to the creation of this website.

Before you believe “your” government’s lies about Syria, remember “your” government’s lies about Saddam Hussein’s “weapons of mass destruction.” Remember Washington’s lies about the Gulf of Tonkin that unleashed the Vietnam war. Remember the lies about Gaddafi and Libya. Remember the lies about 9/11, the lies about the murders of JFK, Robert Kennedy, and Martin Luther King. Remember the Northwoods Project that the Joint Chiefs of Staff wanted President John F. Kennedy to embrace.

The Northwoods project called for shooting down US airliners, shooting down people on the streets of Miami and Washington, D.C., and strafing Cuban refugee boats in order to blame Castro and build public support for regime change in Cuba.

Sound familiar? Sound like regime change in Iraq, Libya, Syria?

The top secret Operation Northwoods plot against Cuba and the American people was officially released and is available online, as are numerous histories of the proposal by the US Joint Chiefs of Staff to kill Americans in order to create support for invading Cuba. Keep this established fact in mind before you again repeat the gullible and reassuring statement: “our government wouldn’t kill its own people.”

Try to find any of Washington’s agendas about which the government spoke truthfully. The US government is so enamored of its secret agendas that Washington never speaks truth. Keep in mind that Washington’s 12 years of wars, which have doubled the US national debt and left the federal government without the means to help the rising number of Americans whose jobs have been given to foreigners and whose homes are foreclosed, have their origin in 9/11, the investigation of which was prevented by the White House.

After resisting for one year the pressure from 9/11 family members for an investigation, the White House created a political panel to listen to the government’s line and to write it down in the 9/11 Commission Report, a report promptly disavowed by both co-chairmen of the commission and the chief legal advisor, all of whom described the 9/11 commission as “set up to fail.”

The Obama regime has shown no interest in investigating how the most powerful national security state of all time, a Stasi police state that spies on the entire world, could be defeated by a few Saudi Arabians, who had no support from any government or any intelligence service, or why instead of a real investigation, the Bush White House chose an orchestrated cover-up.

The US government’s claim to have killed bin Laden has a zero probability of being true. According to Pakistani eye witnesses to the attack on the alleged Osama bin Laden compound in Pakistan, the Obama regime’s claim is simply more theater, more lies.
In this interview from Pakistani National TV you can learn about your government’s lies about killing Osama bin Laden.

Pakistan TV Report Contradicts US Claim of Bin Laden’s Death — Paul Craig Roberts  August 6, 2011

In my article, “Creating Evidence Where There Is None,” about the alleged killing of Osama bin Laden by a commando team of US Seals in Abbottabad, Pakistan, I reported a Pakistani National TV interview with Muhammad Bashir, who lives next door to the alleged ”compound” of Osama bin Laden. I described the story that Bashir gave of the ”attack” and its enormous difference from the story told by the US government. In Bashir’s account, every member of the landing party and anyone brought from the house died when the helicopter exploded on lift-off. I wrote that a qualified person could easily provide a translation of the interview, but that no American print or TV news organization had reported or investigated the interview of Muhammad Bashir by Pakistani National TV.
An attorney with a British Master of Laws degree in international law and diplomacy, who was born in Pakistan, provided the translation below. He writes: ”I have no problem with being identified as the translator, but would prefer to remain anonymous.”

The translator provides these definitions and clarifications:

 ”Gulley” is generally referred (in Urdu) to a sidewalk or pavement. Also for the space between two houses.

“kanal” is a traditional unit of land area, so that one kanal equals exactly 605 square yards or 1/8 Acre; this is equivalent to about 505. 857 square meters.

Muhammad Bashir refers to himself as ”We”. This is common respectable language for the self; to use the plural term instead of singular. The English language equivalent would be the ”Royal, We”.

Urdu is the national language and lingua franca of Pakistan.
The translator:

I have translated the entire text of the video.

I have tried my best to keep words in a chronological order, but in some cases this is not possible, as in translation words must be replaced in reverse order to make sense! However, I have had to put a few words in brackets to clarify meaning. If you want to ask about any section—please supply time stamp and I will supply a contextual text.

Video Transcript:

Welcome back!—Muhammad Bashir, Abotabad Area, Bilal Town resident, Looks like an ordinary person, but he is no ordinary person! Muhammad Bashir, lives in Abotabad’s, Bilal Town Opposite Bin Laden’s House.

Night of 2nd May Muhammad Bashir was on the roof of his house, whereupon, the entire OBL, American operation was seen with his own eyes.

Last night, when our team was in Abotabad, Bilal Town, near OBL house, Muhammad Bashir approached me and said that:

“Sister, I want to tell you something that is a great burden on my heart and conscience”—Listen to what he said:

00: 59 Muhammad Bashir: I. . today. . . would like to comment about todays Abotabad operation events, until now, what I am about to say, no person has said.

01: 08: Reporter: But, Muhammad Bashir sahib appeared frightened. While speaking to me, Muhammad Bashir sahib phoned his relative; leader, M. E. A. of Jamaat-e-islami, Abotabad, Abdul Razaq Abaasi on the phone.

01: 21: reporter: Tell me your name and where do you live?

Muhammad Bashir: —One minute, first I need to speak to him. . . I am going to give an interview, a complete interview. Shall I give a complete interview or half?
Reporter: Complete!—complete!

Muhammad Bashir: I first need to phone him, I need to speak to him
Reporter: I could of. . .

01: 39: Reporter: Muhammad Bashir sahib, on that night’s events of the American operation, that took place, he expressed such comments about circumstances that have never been expressed before, therefore, we checked his ID card, his place of residence and we can confirm that he definitely lives there and we also approached senior politicians and asked about him, after hearing his comments, we were amazed—now you watch what he said.

01: 57: Muhammad Bashir: The events that happened are thus; we were awake, we were not asleep.

02: 00: Muhammad Bashir: a Helicopter came, and circled and dropped some people there.

02: 07: Muhammad Bashir: in that house. . . where they are saying, Osama lives here; on that house’s roof, they dropped people, after that, the helicopter returned and went back.

02: 16: Reporter: How many people were they?

02: 18: Muhammad Bashir: They were ten, twelve people

02: 20: Muhammad Bashir: After that it left and for approximately 20 minutes, there behind us, on those mountains, it kept going around, the top of the mountains.

02: 27: After 20 minutes, it returned. When it returned, at that time there were TWO more helicopters arrived. One came from the West and one came from the North. When it approached for landing, after that. . .

At this point; Video cut and resumed:

02: 41: Muhammad Bashir: that helicopter, there was an explosion within it and there was fire within it, immediately, we came out and arrived there. When we arrived, the helicopter was on fire, it was burning. After that, about twenty minutes later the Army arrived, the police arrived. They moved all of us back. . .

03: 04: Muhammad Bashir: . . . and all the people inside it, all of them. . . we think; if Osama was inside it, or inside this house—then who took him to the Americans?

03: 16: Muhammad Bashir: Because America. . . the helicopters that America is saying; IT carried out the operation. If America did this operation and it’s army came and it’s helicopter came, then that helicopter that came from the American’s, within that, all the people that came, those people with the explosion were finished, got destroyed!

03: 35: Muhammad Bashir: Within it, there was fire, those people, all of them died!

03: 39: and if Osama was there, they would have put him in the helicopter. Obviously, if the helicopter caught fire, Osama could have died there. If their own people were gone, (dead) so could have Osama. After that, the fallen helicopter was destroyed after this, how can Osama be, with them in America? this is a strange thing!

Video cut & resumes

03: 59: Muhammad Bashir: They are saying we killed Osama here. After that, they picked him up and took him away.

04: 04: Muhammad Bashir: PICKED HIM UP AND TOOK HIM AWAY—how did they do this? This, what we are thinking!

04: 07: Muhammad Bashir: The Americans’ helicopter that came, that fell here and got destroyed!

04: 09: Reporter: There was only ONE helicopter?

04: 11: Muhammad Bashir: ONE helicopter landed down here, the second helicopter came from above and went towards Mansera.

It did not land. No second helicopter landed!

04: 20: Only ONE helicopter, that first dropped it’s passengers, the SAME returned to pick the people and there was an explosion within it.

04: 27: Reporter: People were inside it?

04: 29: Muhammad Bashir: People were inside it!

04: 30: Reporter: How do you know this?

04: 32: Muhammad Bashir: These people, we seen them all.

04: 34: Reporter: In the helicopter. . . you saw dead people?

04: 36: Muhammad Bashir: We saw dead people!

04: 38: Reporter: How many people?

04:39: Muhammad Bashir: This, we could not count, within the compound there was fire.

04: 43: Muhammad Bashir: and we. . . the gate was open, we entered the gate, at that time the Army had not arrived.

04: 48: Muhammad Bashir: Police had not arrived. Some people from the agencies, were present, but they did not prevent anybody, they kept entering, every person was looking , now, nobody is saying, but everyone from the mohalla (neighbourhood) and all the people present from the mohalla arrived first. We saw the gate open, we entered inside, saw the burning helicopter, the people inside were dead. After that everything was lifted. Now, there is nothing there!

05: 16: Reporter: How many dead bodies did you see?

05: 18: Muhammad Bashir: Look, you cannot count, the dead bodies were in pieces everything else was broken pieces, some here, some there, some broken, some half, some like this.

05: 27: Reporter: Tell me fully—what happened?

06: 30: Reporter: Tell me the full events

05: 31: Muhammad Bashir: I told you, this is. .

05: 32: Reporter: You did not. . . I cannot believe this, that’s why.

05: 36: Muhammad Bashir: Look, what I have said—that’s it!

Video Cut!

05: 39: Reporter: When you saw the American craft, (Helicopter) what did you think, why they came here?

05: 42: Muhammad Bashir: We thought. . . this is it. . . why did they came? we thought why did they come? maybe. . we. . . did not expect them to do anything, we thought maybe our Army is arriving at some centre and the army people were sleeping, there was no explosions or events taking place, nothing was happening, everybody was sleeping, for 20 minutes or so. . .

06: 05: Reporter: The craft landed in front of your house, how did you feel about this?
06: 08: Muhammad Bashir: I thought. . just. . . understand. . . imagine. . we thought we’re dead!
Video cut:
06: 13: Reporter: But, how did the Americans return?
06: 16: Muhammad Bashir: This is what I am saying; their Craft came and the helicopter was destroyed, HOW, could they return?
06: 22: Reporter: Tell me this; you say, that you saw the dead bodies yourself. . . .
06: 25: Muhammad Bashir: one more thing, Madam, may I tell you; The people who were dropped from the craft, That walkway . . . that . . where our gates are. . . they banged them hard. . . and shouted. . . don’t come out. . . don’t do this, don’t do that, if you come out you will be shot. . we will do this, we will do that, all the people who were dropped, all of them spoke Pashtu (Afgahni Language)—Pakhtun!
06: 49: Reporter: Who were these people?
06: 49: Muhammad Bashir: This I do not know! Those who were dropped from the craft (helicopter), those people.
06: 54: Reporter: This, somebody else told me—that they spoke Pashtu.
06: 57: Muhammad Bashir: They WERE Pashtun! we do not know if they were working for the Americans, we do not know if they were working for Pakistan, we do not know if they were army people or civilian, what people, BUT they SPOKE PASHTU!
07: 07: Reporter: You said you heard they were asking for Osama?
07: 09: Muhammad Bashir: No, they didn’t ask me about Osama, they just said, do not come out, if you come out from your house, we will shoot you!
07: 16: Reporter: Were these Pakistani people?
Muhammad Bashir: who?
07: 18: Reporter: The ones who were saying that if you come out, we will shoot you.
07: 20: Muhammad Bashir: They said that in Pashtu!
07: 22: Reporter: so did they. . were you coming out. . . exactly where were you, where was you standing when this happened?
07: 26: Muhammad Bashir: Inside the house, on top of the roof, I was not in the house, just on top of the (flat)roof
07: 29: Reporter: from Above the roof these people in the helicopter. . .
07: 30: Muhammad Bashir: I was on the roof, lying down, on the roof,lying and watching this and what was happening
07: 37: Reporter: Fear, was you not afraid? did you not think to phone someone?
07: 40: Muhammad Bashir: From the house, They were calling me from downstairs, the children were calling me, come down, come down, and I told them stop making noise! go into your rooms, I am watching what is happening. Afterwards, I found out about this, that, Osama was killed here!
07: 53: Reporter: How did you get inside? (the compound)
Muhammad Bashir: where?
Reporter: when there was fire.
Muhammad Bashir: the gate was open, when there was fire, the gate was open.
08: 02: Reporter: The house gate was open?
08: 03: Muhammad Bashir: The outer gate, the big gate, was open.
08: 06: Reporter: You came from upstairs to downstairs?
08: 08: Muhammad Bashir: I came down, from my own house into the gulley, I didn’t go alone inside the other house, 200 other people went inside! Everybody saw it!

08: 15: Reporter: All 200 saw the dead bodies?
08: 17: Muhammad Bashir: Everybody saw this. Whoever went inside they saw everything!
08: 20: Reporting: the events at that time that are in your mind, please express them.
08: 28: Muhammad Bashir: I have told you this and this, in my mind, this is what I have seen, when we were there, when we entered the gate, When the helicopter exploded, it scattered everywhere, one piece fell over there, one fell here, one here, a lot of pieces fell in the gulley outside, they reached up to the gulley and our house and also some pieces managed to reach onto my roof. so, the area of the open space there (in front of the house) is about four Kanal in size. It is a very large compound. You cannot see all of it from one location. Four Kanal is a big area, only in a small area you could possibly see everything. There I saw some people, in broken pieces, someone’s leg, someone’s arm, someone’s torso, someone’s head. Beside this, I did not see intensely, who are they, how are they, because I thought that one of our own craft had fallen and the people within it were our own people. Because they spoke Pashtu they could be pakistani.
09: 35: Muhammad Bashir: but language does not necessarily mean. . by speaking it. . . the American language could be spoken, the agents can speak all sorts of languages. It could be that it is the American army and they could speak Pashtu and the people would think that it is our own people.
09: 54: Reporter: Seeing the dead bodies—did you not feel fear?
09: 57: Muhammad Bashir: But we were thinking about ourselves at the time, but seeing the dead bodies who felt frightened?
10: 00: Reporter: When you went inside, what did you do after that, how did you come out?
10: 02: Muhammad Bashir: we came out, our Army reached there, when the army arrived, they moved all the people back. Move aside, move aside! So we moved aside. Then they closed the area down.
10: 13: Reporter: did Rais see this?
Muhammad Bashir: What?
Reporter: where was your cousin?
10: 18: Muhammad Bashir: My cousin was at that time in the house.
10: 20: Reporter: Did he go with you?
10: 21: Muhammad Bashir: He was with me, but I did not notice when he was picked up.

10: 28: Reporter: Has he returned yet?
10: 29: Muhammad Bashir: Yes, he has returned. They picked him up and took him away.
10: 32: Reporter: What is he saying?
10: 34: Muhammad Bashir: I have not met him yet, he is at home they will not let him come out, we are not allowed to visit him, they will not let him come out. We have not met.
10: 40: Reporter: You was not able find out, but since when have you been allowed out.
10: 45: Muhammad Bashir: I did not go home, by going home. . .
Reporter: You have seen the fire you have seen the bodies how long did you stay there?
Muhammad Bashir: approximately, after five or six minutes, I left and came out. . five, six minute. . what happened . . . . the reason we left, was that after we entered, there was another small explosion, I do not know if the engine fail and there was another fire, it was a small explosion, after this explosion all the people ran out.
11: 06: Muhammad Bashir: when we went out, nobody let us go back in again.
11: 11: Reporter: Besides you, why is nobody else saying these things? why are you alone in this?
11: 16: Muhammad Bashir: Look, what we have seen, that is what we are saying and we are speaking for this reason that, we are sad that such humble and nice people of our town, that has never seen such events, no fighting, no arguments, no animosity, No murders, such nice people of ours in this town and they have been branded as terrorists.
11: 43: Reporter: Tell me; two helicopters came, lifted and took the rest of the people?
11: 46: Muhammad Bashir: No—they did not take the rest of the people, because they did not even land, One came from the West and it left towards the North, the one that came from the North, left towards the South. They did not land!
12: 00: Studio Reporter: these events that we showed you from Abotabad, there are many more things that we discovered about the compound where OBL was staying, there were vegetables planted there, what kind of vegetables, the person who grows the vegetables is the cousin of this person (Muhammad Bashir), whose interview we have shown. An extraordinary thing that he has said and he has sworn repeatedly on the veracity of his statement. this is from his own account and upon this account do view this. Yesterday we found out and it has been confirmed that there were two Ashfaq’s who lived there (in the compound): Mr Arshad and Mr Tariq who went shopping locally and used to buy international brands, the items they found in the house, dry dates, dried meat and things like this, this person who you saw in the interview in his house there was food from OBL’s house, he was given Kaabli Pillau (Rice) and such items were presented to him, There the view of local mosque people, what they think of OBL all these things we will present to you in an exclusive program an important newsbeat, todays time is finishing, do write to us at newsbeat@samaa. tv where you can get other information as well and you can join us at newsbeat with Fareeha Idrees thats my favourite bit, do write to us, the time is up now, By your permission to leave, take care of yourself, In Allah’s care.
13: 20: Reporter: I am now at standing in front of Abdullah Bin Zubair Mosque, this is the same mosque that is within walking distance from OBL’s house. Are you saying that if people found out that OBL was living here, would they be happy?
1st man: Possibly, people could be happy.
2nd man: He wasn’t living here, but he was a Muslim, he believed in Allah.
End of translation
Anyone fluent in Urdu who wishes to dispute the translation should do so.

I asked the translator if he might contact the Pakistani news organization and inquire if the reporters had further investigated Bashir’s story. He replied that he could do so, but exactly 24 hours later ”for some unknown reason” the news organization started to discredit Bashir by connecting ”him to his cousin, who is accused of receiving foodstuffs from the household of OBL.”
Bashir’s cousin is the person who, according to the reporter (see 12:00 time line) had a vegetable garden inside the wall of the alleged bin Laden compound. Is it likely that with a hunted and dangerous person hiding within, locals would be permitted to have vegetable gardens inside the compound? The cousin’s vegetable garden obviously had to be redefined as ”receiving foodstuffs from OBL.”
The translator offers his view on the 13:20 timeline:
“The final seconds of the video clip contain random people to generate and show some kind of sympathy with OBL in the district.  
“It would be very difficult to find people in Pakistan who sympathize with OBL or the Taliban. The only people who do sympathize are the poor illiterate people who do not know about the religion and can easily be convinced of a distorted version of Islam.

“Therefore, the closing part of the video contains, out of context expressions:

“1st man: Possibly, people could be happy. (Meaning it is possible that SOME people could be happy.)
2nd man: He wasn’t living here, but he was a Muslim, he believed in Allah. (Meaning; he claimed to be Muslim, so he must have believed in Allah.)
“Therefore, it seems that although initially, the TV station was overjoyed with this interview, they changed their tune, twenty four hours later. (for some unknown reason.)”

Readers can arrive at their own conclusions. It seems clear that under intense pressure and serious threats from the US government, the Pakistani government fell in line with the US government’s claim that a commando raid had killed bin Laden, and that the TV news organization got the message to get in line also.
It is likely that the many witnesses who observed the dead from the helicopter crash have been warned to keep quiet. However, a news organization, should one be so inclined, could certainly interview Bashir and the 200 others who saw the dead bodies. A good reporter, perhaps accompanied by trained psychologists, would be able to tell if people were lying out of fear and encourage some to speak anonymously.
I am confident that no news organization believes that it could confront such an important US national myth in this way. The killing of bin Laden satisfies the emotional need for revenge and justice. In the least, a news organization that challenged the government’s story would be cut off from all government sources and be denounced by politicians and a large percentage of the gullible US population as an anti-American terrorist-serving organization. They could even be arrested for giving aid and comfort to the enemy. In America today, truth-tellers are the last thing the government and much of the brainwashed public wants to here.
OBL’s death will remain one of those many ”truths” that rest on nothing but the government’s word. 

* * *
UPDATE September 2013: When is the last time the US government told the truth about anything? Despite an unbroken history of lies, the word of the US government still carries weight, especially with gullible Americans.
The link in my original article to the interview with Bashir has been taken down. This might be the original Pakistani National TV interview:
In another interview the BBC interviewed 50 residents of Abbottabad. The residents said that it was impossible that Osama bin Laden lived in their midst without their knowledge. The person who lives next door to the alleged “bin Laden compound” said that the resident shown in the American photo was not bin Laden, but his neighbor whom he knew well. The Pakistanis say the killing of bin Laden is an American hoax.
The Obama regime’s story of the murder of bin Laden is nonsensical. The fact that the regime would tell such a preposterous story indicates that Washington regards the American and international public as gullible morons, people lacking any ability to discern the truth of what they are officially told.
Who can believe that the “terror mastermind,” the head of what is said to be the most dangerous terrorist organization in the world, would be left alone, unguarded and unarmed, with only two women to protect him? Who can believe that such a defenseless person with such essential information for Washington’s war on terror would simply be shot on sight by US Navy SEALs? Why would Washington waste such an archive of information?
Why would Washington forego the triumph of parading their captive before the world and confronting him in a courtroom with his crimes?
Why would Washington dump the body secretly into the sea without even having photographic evidence to back the story? Why would Washington tell such a preposterous story for which it can supply no evidence whatsoever?
Why would Obama, faced with a reelection campaign, forego the patriotic publicity of a White House ceremony at which he pins medals on the victorious SEALs? What politician would forego such an opportunity?
Do you really believe that the SEALs’ identity had to be protected in order to keep them safe from terrorists, or that Obama would let his reelection take a backseat to such a consideration?
No politician would handle the capture of Osama bin Laden in such a politically wasteful way. Can you imagine a politician throwing away such marvelous opportunities for PR events? Can you imagine an intelligence service destroying such a valuable source of information without interrogating Osama bin Laden?
Now consider this: The Obama regime claims to have given bin Laden a proper Muslim burial at sea from an aircraft carrier, the Carl Vinson, named after a U.S. Representative from Georgia who served in the House for more than 50 years and is known as “the father of the two-ocean Navy.” The aircraft carrier has approximately 6,000 personnel. From emails that sailors sent home to family and friends, none witnessed the sea burial of bin Laden.
When the story of the emails got out, Washington quickly announced that bin Laden’s burial was conducted in secret and that no one but a few officers were involved.
Think about this for a minute. First of all, here again is a massive victory over the forces of terrorism being kept from sailors whose moral it would have raised. Why keep a moral-boosting victory over terrorist evil from the crew of a deployed warship? What was achieved by the secrecy?
Why give up the photography of such an important American victory that could so well stimulate patriots’ worship of Obama? It makes no sense whatsoever.
Second, do you really believe that an at-sea burial can be conducted on a ship with 6,000 personnel with watches being kept, with sailors on deck performing a variety of necessary functions, and no one saw? I mean, really! 6,000 people on one ship, and no one saw? Were they all locked in their bunks?
Now consider the fate of SEAL Team 6, whose members allegedly murdered Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad. Shortly after the alleged hit on bin Laden, SEAL team 6 was wiped out in Afghanistan. The Obama regime claims that a helicopter carrying the SEAL team was shot down by the Taliban.
Just as the Bush regime’s story of 9/11 ran into opposition from the 9/11 families, the Obama regime’s story of the SEALs’ demise ran into opposition from SEAL families who studied the documents that comprised the Obama regime’s account. I don’t remember if I wrote about the SEAL families’ challenge to the government’s story, but I did some interviews about the families’ disbelief. The interviews or some of them would be posted on my website, such as
The SEAL team families noticed that normal deployment operational procedures were not followed, that the entire SEAL team was loaded on a 50-year old Vietnam war era helicopter and not dispersed as required on their normal modern attack helicopters, and that a variety of other procedures devised to protect such expensively trained special forces were not followed. SEAL team members, according to parents, had written home expressing concerns about their safety. One told his father he had made a will. According to parents, the SEALs themselves sensed that they were in danger from internal forces, not from the external enemy.
Of course, there is no proof. The criminal Obama regime will not indict itself. But, just as the Carl Vinson sailors did not witness any at-sea burial of Osama bin Laden, the members of the SEAL team were asking each other, ”who was on the mission that got bin Laden?”
As it turned out, none were. Fearful of the emails that would follow the SEAL team’s discovery that no one was on the mission, the team was eliminated.
Yes, I know, Hollywood made a movie of the heroic SEAL team’s exploit in murdering an unguarded, unarmed “Terror Mastermind.” An alleged SEAL wrote a book describing the “victory” of eliminating, prior to interrogation, the source of all terrorist plots, leaving the Americans in the total dark. The movie and book are likely nothing but organized propaganda to support the government’s lie.
Considering the gullibility of Americans, little doubt that the movie and book were successful. It plays to the emotions of uninformed and unaware Americans that they have won. They are equally happy when their favorite football team defeats the rival. The happiest days experienced by a generation is when Auburn defeats Alabama or vice versa, or Georgia Tech defeats Georgia or vice versa. Americans are addicted to winning, and they remember these victories forever. Little else is important to them. Obama told them that they had defeated Osama bin Laden, who had died ten years before of terminal illnesses prior to his staged murder in a propaganda event, and that is all that is important to Americans. They won. “We beat bin Laden!” And Obama won. Despite his sell-out of his every constituency and his transparent lies, Obama won reelection.
Obama is an anomaly. He is a warmonger who won the Nobel Peace Prize.
Keep in mind that prior to the Obama regime’s announcement that the indispensable, exceptional country had killed bin Laden, Obama’s standing was so low that the Democrats were discussing running a candidate against him for the Democratic presidential nomination.
By faking an American victory over the demonized bogyman, Obama
dispensed with threats to his reelection.

Thus, with Osama bin Laden, we have a man who only died twice.