Archive for February, 2008

Saturday February 23, 2008 – The problem is that every piece of news we’re getting continues to be bad. – Stephen Cecchetti, professor, Brandeis University

Saturday, February 23rd, 2008

Now Operational: Economic Indicators Continued by SGS. 

The Department of Commerce (DOC) has decided to discontinue its economic indicators service economicindicators.gov (effective March 1st) “due to budgetary constraints.” Shadow Government Statistics is pleased to announce that it will provide — at no charge to the public — a continuation of the basic link service heretofore provided by the DOC’s Economics and Statistics Administration.

The existing government service provides links to the Web pages and recent releases of the Bureau of Economic Analysis and the U.S. Census Bureau. We eventually plan to extend the service to other government or quasi-government reporting agencies, including the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. Treasury and the Federal Reserve, as well as to provide links to other major economic data providers.

New service available from the home page navigation bar or here:

http://www.shadowstats.com/economic_indicators

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Buchanan claimed McCain’s FCC letters were “in the normal course of business of a congressman” — not according to then-FCC chairman

Discussing reports about Sen. John McCain’s ties to lobbyist Vicki Iseman, Pat Buchanan asserted: “I don’t have a problem with John McCain writing a letter there, depending on what he says in the letter,” adding, “[B]ut McCain shouldn’t be denying that, I don’t think, because it seems to me that’s in the normal course of business of a congressman.” But contrary to his description of McCain’s actions as “the normal course” for a congressman, the FCC chairman at the time criticized McCain for his request, calling it “highly unusual.”

Read More

http://mediamatters.org/items/200802210005?lid=80208&rid=3985622

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Emergency War Spending Lacks Transparency, Increasingly Used for Non-Emergency Items

The Bush administration’s emergency supplemental spending requests for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have lacked the transparency that normally accompanies the appropriations process, according to a new report from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). In addition, the CBO war spending report, however constrained by available data, revealed the composition of the war funding requests has been evolving into broader Defense Department spending initiatives, such as acquiring next-generation aircraft and replacing aging aircraft.

http://www.ombwatch.org/article/articleview/4169/

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Paying Insurgents Not to Fight

by Paul Craig Roberts

It is impossible to keep up with all the Bush regime’s lies. There are simply too many. Among the recent crop, one of the biggest is that the “surge” is working.

Launched last year, the “surge” was the extra 20,000–30,000 US troops sent to Iraq. These few extra troops, Americans were told, would finally supply the necessary forces to pacify Iraq.

This claim never made any sense. The extra troops didn’t raise the total number of US soldiers to more than one-third the number every expert has said is necessary in order to successfully occupy Iraq.

The real purpose of the “surge” was to hide another deception. The Bush regime is paying Sunni insurgents $800,000 a day not to attack US forces. That’s right, 80,000 members of an “Awakening group,” the “Sons of Iraq,” a newly formed “US-allied security force” consisting of Sunni insurgents, are being paid $10 a day each not to attack US troops. Allegedly, the Sons of Iraq are now at work fighting al Qaeda.

This is a much cheaper way to fight a war. We can only wonder why Bush didn’t figure it out sooner.

The “surge” was also timed to take account of the near completion of neighborhood cleansing. Most of the violence in Iraq during the past five years has resulted from Sunnis and Shi’ites driving each other out of mixed neighborhoods. Had the two groups been capable of uniting against the US troops, the US would have been driven out of Iraq long ago. Instead, the Iraqis slaughtered each other and fought the Americans in their spare time.

In other words, the “surge” has had nothing to do with any decline in violence.

Complete article at:

http://www.lewrockwell.com/roberts/roberts235.html

Paul Craig Roberts wrote the Kemp-Roth bill and was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and Contributing Editor of National Review. He is author or coauthor of eight books, including The Supply-Side Revolution (Harvard University Press). He has held numerous academic appointments, including the William E. Simon Chair in Political Economy, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Georgetown University and Senior Research Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He has contributed to numerous scholarly journals and testified before Congress on 30 occasions. He has been awarded the U.S. Treasury’s Meritorious Service Award and the French Legion of Honor. He was a reviewer for the Journal of Political Economy under editor Robert Mundell. He is the co-author of The Tyranny of Good Intentions. He is also coauthor with Karen Araujo of Chile: Dos Visiones – La Era Allende-Pinochet (Santiago: Universidad Andres Bello, 2000).

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Surge doesn’t equal success

By Michael Kinsley

If things are so much better in Iraq, why are we just back where we started?

Why was President Bush’s decision a year ago to send another 30,000 troops to Iraq called the surge? I don’t know who invented this label, but the word “surge” evokes images of the sea: a wave that sweeps in, and then sweeps back out again. The second part was crucial.

What made the surge different from your ordinary troop deployment was that it was temporary. In fact, the surge was presented as part of a larger plan for troop withdrawal. It was also, implicitly, part of a deal between Bush and the majority of the people in this country who want out of Iraq. The deal was: Just let me have a few more soldiers to get Baghdad under control, and then everybody, or almost everybody, can pack up and come home.

In other words: You have to increase the troops in order to reduce them. This is so perverse on its face that it begins to sound Zen-like and brilliant, like something out of Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War.” And in Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, the U.S. commander in Iraq, the administration conjured up its own Sun Tzu, a brilliant military strategist.

Complete article at:

http://tinyurl.com/3bvtbz  (www.latimes.com/)

Michael Kinsley, a contributing editor to Opinion, is The Times’ former editorial page editor. He is also former editor of the New Republic, Slate and Harper’s.

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Iraq and the Recession

As long as we keep pouring money down the drain in Iraq, we won’t have the money we need to solve our economic woes. Can you take a moment to write a letter to the editor of your local paper about how much we’re spending in Iraq, while things go south here at home?

Good News: House Democrats Standing Up to President Bush

Last week, the House of Representatives took two strong stands for the rule of law: They voted to hold two Bush administration officials in contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with subpoenas as part of an investigation into the US Attorneys scandal. They also refused to consider a flawed wiretapping bill that would have let phone companies off the hook for helping the president illegally spy on innocent Americans.

Dear MoveOn member,

As of today, we’ve spent over $495 billion in Iraq.1 With the economy in the tank, think about what that money could do here at home: Cover millions of kids who don’t have insurance, or help folks who’re losing their jobs and homes.

Instead, it’s supporting a failed occupation in Iraq.

More and more Americans are making the connection between the billions we’ve spent over there and the crumbling economy here at home. In fact, a new AP poll shows that most Americans think ending the war is the best way to help the economy.2 But pundits still talk about the war and the economy as two unrelated things.

That’s why we’re launching our “Iraq/Recession” campaign—our push to make sure that politicians and pundits understand what voters already know: As long as we keep pouring that money down the drain in Iraq, we won’t have the money we need to solve our economic woes.

Can you take a moment to write a letter to the editor of your local paper about how much we’re spending in Iraq, while things go south here at home? By speaking out together, we can make sure the cost of war is part of the economic equation. Our tool makes writing a letter easy. Click here to get started:

http://pol.moveon.org/lte?campaign_id=88&id=12164-5514896-iVtTAJ&t=83

If thousands of us write, we can get the media to stop ignoring the connection between the war and the recession. The opinion pages are the most widely read pages in the newspaper, so we can also make sure voters—who are growing increasingly concerned about the economy—know that any candidate who wants to stay in Iraq has no plan for the economy.

The ongoing occupation in Iraq is sucking up the resources we need to make our economy work again. The tradeoffs are stark: Bombs or unemployment insurance for people laid off as the economy slows? Billions for Halliburton and Blackwater, or help for people on the verge of losing their homes because of the subprime meltdown? Consider these key facts:

The recession is going to force states to cut back their budgets. Most likely, the cuts are going to affect the services that working families need and depend on.3
Meanwhile, the war is costing Americans more than $338 million a day. 4 That money could be spent to help out the folks who’re hurting most now. For less than what we’re spending on the war, we could pay for affordable housing for hundreds of thousands of families, health care for children, or scholarships to help folks pay for education. 5
Gas prices are close to double what they were before the war began. The cost of oil is still hovering around $100 barrel. 6
We’re borrowing $343 million every day to finance the war in Iraq. 7 Our skyrocketing debt will be a bigger and bigger drag on the economy—slowing recovery and burdening future generations.
The truth is that economic forecasts are going to continue to be grim as long as we continue to dump billions into a reckless war that has no end in sight. Please write a letter to the editor of your local paper today:

http://pol.moveon.org/lte?campaign_id=88&id=12164-5514896-iVtTAJ&t=84

Thanks for all you do.

–Nita, Wes, Justin, Eli, and the MoveOn.org Political Action Team
  Tuesday, February 19th, 2008

1. “The War in Iraq Costs, National Priorities Project,” January 2008
http://www.nationalpriorities.org/costofwar_home

2. AP Poll: Exiting Iraq would boost economy more than stimulus, Associated Press, February 9, 2008
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=3434&id=12164-5514896-iVtTAJ&t=85

3. “State and Local Governments Need Fiscal Relief.” AFSCME, January 29, 2008
http://www.afscme.org/press/17527.cfm

4. The Economy & The War In Iraq, Factsheet from Speaker Pelosi, February 13, 2008
http://www.speaker.gov/blog/?cat=15

5. “Federal Budget Trade-Offs, National Priorities Project,” February 2008
http://www.nationalpriorities.org/tradeoffs

6. “Oil prices continue higher above 91 usd mark as possible Fed rate cut eyed,” CNN, January 29, 2008
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=3354&id=12164-5514896-iVtTAJ&t=86

7. “Hidden Costs to the War in Iraq,” Rep. Murtha in Huffington Post, January 28, 2008
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=3355&id=12164-5514896-iVtTAJ&t=87

Support our member-driven organization: MoveOn.org Political Action is entirely funded by our 3.2 million members. We have no corporate contributors, no foundation grants, no money from unions. Our tiny staff ensures that small contributions go a long way. If you’d like to support our work, you can give now at:

http://political.moveon.org/donate/email.html?id=12164-5514896-iVtTAJ&t=88

PAID FOR BY MOVEON.ORG POLITICAL ACTION, http://pol.moveon.org/
Not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee

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Serbian-Kosovo Crisis

STEPHEN ZUNES, zunes@usfca.edu, http://www.stephenzunes.org

Professor of politics at the University of San Francisco, Zunes returned from Serbia last week.
He just wrote the piece “Kosovo and the Politics of Recognition”

http://www.fpif.org/fpiftxt/5006 .

Zunes said today: “Even among longstanding supporters of independence for Kosovo, the eagerness with which the Bush administration extended diplomatic recognition immediately upon that country’s declaration of independence on Feb. 17 has raised serious concerns as a result of the violence and instability that may result. U.S. policy has contributed a great deal to the tragic political climate in this corner of the Balkans, which marginalized the more moderate Kosovar nationalists in the early- to mid-1990s and encouraged the more hard-line elements which dominate today. And, once again, questions are being raised regarding U.S. double-standards when it comes to recognizing the right of self-determination.”

From: Institute for Public Accuracy

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Opening a Pandora’s Box: Kosovo “Independence” and the Project for a “New Middle East”

By Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya
Global Research, February 20, 2008

Western public opinion has been misled. Unfolding events and realities on the ground in the former Yugoslavia have been carefully manipulated.

Germany and the U.S. have deep-seated geo-strategic interests in dividing Yugoslavia. Washington, D.C. and Berlin have also been the first governments to recognize the secessionist states, which resulted from the breakup of the Yugoslav federation.

The Broader Implications of Kosovo “Independence”

The February 2008 declaration of independence of Kosovo is a means towards legitimizing the dissolution and breaking up of sovereign states on a global scale.

Eurasia is the main target. Kosovar “independence” is part of a neo-colonial program with underlying economic and geo-political interests. The objective is to instate a New World Order and establish hegemonic control over the global economy.

In this sense Kosovo provides a blueprint and a “dress-rehearsal” which can now be applied to restructuring the economies and borders of the Middle East, under the Project for a “New Middle East.”

The restructuring model that is being applied in the former Yugoslavia is precisely what is intended for the Middle East — a process of balkanization and economic control.

Kosovo’s Pseudo-Declaration of Independence

Complete article at:

www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=8132

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya is an independent writer based in Ottawa specializing in Middle Eastern affairs. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG).

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Borowitz Report – McCain Pushback Shocker

McCain: Lobbyist Did Not Force Me into Positions

Would Not Try Out New Positions at His Age, Mac Says

One day after The New York Times published an article raising ethical questions about Sen. John McCain’s dealings with lobbyist Vicki Iseman, the Arizona senator pushed back today at a press conference in Cleveland, telling reporters, “Vicky Iseman did not force me into any positions.”

Calling suggestions that Ms. Iseman could make him assume a different position “ridiculous,” Sen. McCain said, “At my age, I’m not about to try out new positions that I’m uncomfortable with.”

While Mr. McCain was vague about his official dealings with Ms. Iseman, he told reporters, “I would not allow a lobbyist to perform any favor for me unless it felt really, really good.”

The Republican frontrunner said that neither he nor Ms. Iseman had been aware that The New York Times was conducting an investigation into their relationship, adding, “Vicki and I have been in the dark together for a long time.”

But he vehemently defended the lobbyist’s professionalism, telling reporters, “Vicki Iseman is an energetic and passionate woman who has bent over backwards to please me.”

Early reaction to Sen. McCain’s comments was mixed, with some Republicans wondering whether he had done himself more harm than good.

But Mr. McCain did receive high marks from at least one Senate colleague, Sen. Larry Craig (R-Id.).

“I called John today to offer him my encouragement,” Sen. Craig said. “I said, ‘It’s hard, and it’s going to get harder, but stick it out.’”

Andy’s Only West Coast Appearance – April 24
Andy makes his only scheduled West Coast appearance Thursday, April 24 at University of California, Santa Barbara. 8 PM at Campbell Hall. Tickets available at https://artsandlectures.sa.ucsb.edu

Andy with Susie Essman and Jeffrey Toobin – May 13
Andy hosts “Countdown to ’08″ on Tuesday, May 13 at 8 PM at the 92nd St. Y with his special guests Susie Essman (HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm) and Jeffrey Toobin (CNN, bestselling author of The Nine). The Y is located at 92nd St. and Lexington Avenue. For tickets, go to www.92y.org .

http://www.borowitzreport.com/

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three thousand words

David Horsey: I did not have relations with that lobbyist …

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/dayart/20080222/335Cartoon20080222.gif

RJ Matson: CONSUMER SAFETY RECALLED

http://www.rjmatson.com/images/cartoons/STL611.jpg

Steve Greenberg: #1.3 trillion black hole

http://editorialcartoonists.com/cartoons/GreenS/2008/GreenS20080219_low.jpg

Friday February 22, 2008 – When life hands you gators, make Gatorade.

Friday, February 22nd, 2008

BREAKING: NYT Exposes McCain Affair With Lobbyist

http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/022008Z.shtml

Jim Rutenberg, Marilyn W. Thompson, David D. Kirkpatrick and Stephen Labaton, reporting for the New York Times, write: “A female lobbyist had been turning up with him at fund-raisers, in his offices and aboard a client’s corporate jet. Convinced the relationship had become romantic, some of his top advisers intervened to protect the candidate from himself – instructing staff members to block the woman’s access, privately warning her away and repeatedly confronting him, several people involved in the campaign said on the condition of anonymity.”

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MCCAIN SCANDAL: IT’S NOT THE SEX, IT’S THE CORRUPTION

By Jane Hamsher, Firedoglake

Bob Bennett is running around trying to spike this story but so far it’s just been too good to pass up.

http://www.alternet.org/blogs/peek/77433/

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SUBPRIME IS REALLY SUBCRIME: AMERICA’S DEEPER FINANCIAL CRISIS

By Danny Schechter, AlterNet

Policy proposals are not enough to save the economy. Candidates, take note.

http://www.alternet.org/workplace/77375/

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Firms Continue to See Weak Conditions – FRB Philadelphia

The following information is now available on the Philadelphia Fed’s website:

Firms Continue to See Weak Conditions

Activity in the region’s manufacturing sector continued to weaken in February, according to firms polled for the Business Outlook Survey. In the survey’s special questions, participants were asked about inventories. See the summary.

February 2008 Business Outlook Survey: http://www.philadelphiafed.org/files/bos/bos0208.html

Summary: http://www.philadelphiafed.org/media/newsreleases/2008/022108.cfm

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Stagflation?

AP reports: “Consumer prices rose by a bigger-than-expected amount in January, reflecting big increases in the cost of food and health care, the government reported Wednesday.

“The Labor Department said that its closely watched Consumer Price Index posted a gain of 0.4 percent last month, matching the December increase and was higher than economists had expected.”

JOHN MILLER, jmiller@wheatonma.edu, http://www.dollarsandsense.org

Professor of economics at Wheaton College in Massachusetts, Miller wrote the piece “Stormier Weather” in the current edition of the magazine Dollars & Sense.

He said today: “Things haven’t looked this bad since the stagflation of the ’70s. We have before us economic stagnation and a worsening housing crisis and a significant up-tick in inflation that compromises the ability of the Fed or anyone else to pull the economy’s fat out of the fire.”

From: Institute for Public Accuracy

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Offshore Outsourcing’s Next Wave: How High? 

Steve Lohr
Feb 14, 2008
NY Times

Just how much back-office work can be sent abroad, and how quickly, is a matter of some debate. But everyone thinks it will grow explosivelyas earlier waves of outsourcing did.

The first wave of offshore outsourcing was in computer programming, sending software development and maintenance abroad, mainly to India. The next wave, well underway, is shipping back-office business tasks overseas, like finance, payroll, claims processing, procurement and the like. That’s business process outsourcing, or BPO, in nerd talk.

Just how much of this back-office work can be sent abroad, how quickly, is a matter of some debate. These are chores that are semi-automated, a blend of technology and human skills. The labor-cost savings are still considerable – certainly on per-worker basis – despite a weak dollar and rising wages in nations like India. But these are also tasks, more so than programming, that often require knowledge of specific industries, business practices, even local cultures. The
customer-service travails of Dell, which put a lot of its call-center work in India and later brought much of it back, is a cautionary example.

A report presented this week to India’s big software and services trade association, NASSCOM, concludes that the offshore BPO can grow explosively for years to come. The report done by Everest Research Institute, an outsourcing advisory firm, found that the addressable market for Indian BPO outsourcers will be $220 billion to $280 billion by 2012. Today, the report says, the total offshore BPO market is about $28 billion, with the Indian-sourced portion of that at $10.2 billion.

Cont…

http://tinyurl. com/2wpvyx

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[Dallas Fed] International Economic Update

Global Economy Strong but Slowing
International Economic Update
February 2008

http://dallasfed.org/research/update-int/2008/0801.cfm

Global output is expanding at healthy, but noticeably declining, rates. Evidence of slower credit and real activity growth is materializing throughout the industrialized world. Headline inflation rates have picked up significantly across the globe, due in large part to energy and food prices. Core inflation has risen by about 50 base points in most industrialized countries over the past two years.

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Had Enough Gun Violence?

John E. Rosenthal

http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/022008N.shtml

John E. Rosenthal writes for The Christian Science Monitor: “Current federal law allows an unlimited number of easily concealable handguns and military-style weapons to be sold privately in 32 states without a criminal background check or an ID. Why do we take such a hands-off approach to these dangerous weapons? The National Rifle Association (NRA) and the gun industry lobby are a big part of the answer.”

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And now for the important news ….

By Argus Hamilton

Homeland Security deployed bomb-sniffing dogs and machine gun-toting guards at Amtrak stations across America Tuesday. It was embarrassing. When CNN aired the footage in Europe, people across eastern Germany were afraid they had won the Cold War.

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com

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three thousand words

KAL: we’re on the road to a balanced budget

http://images.ucomics.com/comics/cwkal/2008/cwkal080220.gif

Jim Morin: florida republicans for tax cuts and small government

http://editorialcartoonists.com/cartoons/MorinJ/2008/MorinJ20080221_low.jpg

Bad Reporter(Don Asmussen): cable show exploits meat panic

http://www.sfgate.com/c/pictures/2008/02/20/badreporter20-900×296-carto.gif

Thursday February 2, 2008 – “I do not know which makes a man more conservative? to know nothing but the present, or nothing but the past.” – John Maynard Keynes

Thursday, February 21st, 2008

America’s economy risks mother of all meltdowns

By Martin Wolf

February 19 2008 18:21

“I would tell audiences that we were facing not a bubble but a froth – lots of small, local bubbles that never grew to a scale that could threaten the health of the overall economy.” Alan Greenspan, The Age of Turbulence.

That used to be Mr Greenspan’s view of the US housing bubble. He was wrong, alas. So how bad might this downturn get? To answer this question we should ask a true bear. My favourite one is Nouriel Roubini of New York University’s Stern School of Business, founder of RGE monitor.

Recently, Professor Roubini’s scenarios have been dire enough to make the flesh creep. But his thinking deserves to be taken seriously. He first predicted a US recession in July 2006*. At that time, his view was extremely controversial. It is so no longer. Now he states that there is “a rising probability of a ‘catastrophic’ financial and economic outcome”**. The characteristics of this scenario are, he argues: “A vicious circle where a deep recession makes the financial losses more severe and where, in turn, large and growing financial losses and a financial meltdown make the recession even more severe.”

Prof Roubini is even fonder of lists than I am. Here are his 12 – yes, 12 – steps to financial disaster.

Complete article at:

http://tinyurl.com/2rudmt  (www.ft.com)

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Stagflation?

AP reports: “Consumer prices rose by a bigger-than-expected amount in January, reflecting big increases in the cost of food and health care, the government reported Wednesday.

“The Labor Department said that its closely watched Consumer Price Index posted a gain of 0.4 percent last month, matching the December increase and was higher than economists had expected.”

DEAN BAKER, baker@cepr.net, http://www.cepr.net,

http://therealnews.com/web/index.php?thisepisode=116

Co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, Baker said today: “The United States faces a serious risk of stagflation under the combined impact of a collapsing housing bubble, which is depressing demand, and a falling dollar, which is pushing up prices. This is likely
to be a very painful period in which millions of people lose their jobs, their homes or both. The most unfortunate part of the story is that this disaster was entirely predictable and preventable, but those in policy-making positions chose to pursue short-term gains and hope that the long-term costs would occur after they had moved on.”

In 2005, Baker co-wrote the paper “Will a Bursting Bubble Trouble Bernanke? The Evidence for a Housing Bubble.”

http://www.cepr.net/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=123

From: Institute for Public Accuracy

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Banks “quietly” borrow $50 billion from Fed: report

18 Feb 2008

Banks in the United States have been quietly borrowing “massive amounts” from the U.S. Federal Reserve in recent weeks, using a new measure the Fed introduced two months ago to help ease the credit crunch, according to a report on the web site of The Financial Times

At:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20080219/bs_nm/usa_banks_fed_dc_2

From: CLG News

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Wheat market gone wild –Driven by fears of shortage agriterrorists’ greed, the price per bushel has shattered records.

16 Feb 2008

Decades from now, farmers will still talk about this week – the moment when wheat in Minneapolis soared to nearly $20 a bushel. Like a 100-year flood, spring wheat prices have risen relentlessly all winter, obliterating every record in sight.

At:

hhttp://www.twincities.com/business/ci_8275334

From: CLG News

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United States. Congressional Budget Office.

Options for responding to short-term economic weakness

Washington : Congressional Budget Office, January 2008

http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/89xx/doc8916/01-15-Econ_Stimulus.pdf

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Update of CBO’s Economic Forecast

February 15, 2008

“In preparation for new baseline projections that will be released at the beginning of March, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has updated its macroeconomic forecast. CBO has occasionally issued revisions to the forecast it publishes in January, but they are relatively uncommon. This revision is motivated by three recent developments: new data about the weakness of the economy, actions by the Federal Reserve, and the stimulus package passed by the Congress and signed into law by the President.”

http://tinyurl.com/2w34oq  (www.cbo.gov)

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Stateline.org  Bond Crisis Already Crimping States 

http://www.stateline.org/live/details/story?contentId=282246

Michigan just suspended a state loan program for 8,500 students, and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is facing a four-fold jump in interest rates on one of its loans. Both are signs of a new bond market crisis that is threatening to hurt other cities and states if left unchecked. Hopes are riding high that famed investor Warren Buffett, the administration of New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer (D), Congress or federal agencies will avert even bigger troubles. If not, cities and states that issue tax-exempt bonds to raise money for such projects as road and bridge work or rely on investors to raise student-loan money could confront a series of new problems stemming from the subprime mortgage meltdown. Spitzer and the Empire State’s top insurance regulator, Eric Dinallo, came to Capitol Hill Thursday (Feb. 14) to sound the alarm bell about repercussions for governments, investors and capital markets if a solution is not found soon. Already, states as geographically disparate as Mississippi and Montana have encountered problems in recent days in finding investors in the bond market to raise money for student loans, though neither were forced like Michigan to suspend any loan programs. The problem isn’t with cities or states issuing the securities but with the insurance carriers that promise to pay interest and principal on municipal bonds in the unlikely event that states or local governments default. In recent years, the insurance carriers also began guaranteeing securities based on car loans, commercial real-estate deals, credit card debt and mortgages, including subprime loans that are now defaulting. The bad loans are threatening to cause securities ratings firms such as Moody’s Investors Service, Fitch Ratings Ltd. and Standard & Poor’s to drop the credit rating of the insurers, which in turn would drop the credit rating of bonds they insure. A ratings drop would drive up costs for state and local governments, forcing them to pay higher interest rates to borrow, or could keep investors away in a time of tight credit

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Congressman Ron Paul’s Texas Straight Talk

If We Subsidize Them…

“For decades we have welcomed new immigrants to our American “melting pot”. We respect those who come here peacefully to pursue their American Dream. But Americans have noticed lately that modern problems associated with illegal immigration are at a crisis point. Taxpayers are now suffering the consequences.”

Click here for the full article:

http://www.house.gov/paul/tst/tst2008/tst021708.htm

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Borowitz Report – Plagiarism Shocker

Obama Calls Plagiarism Flap ‘Best of Times, Worst of Times’

Tells Hillary: ‘Nobody Puts Baby in a Corner’

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama responded today to Sen. Hillary Clinton’s charge that he plagiarized a speech, saying of the controversy, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

Mr. Obama’s somewhat cryptic remark came at a fundraiser in Houston in which he dared his rival to tell the truth about the brouhaha, declaring, “You can’t handle the truth!”

The Illinois senator also told his supporters that Mrs. Clinton was trying to use the plagiarism allegations to back him into a corner, but warned, “Nobody puts Baby in a corner.”

Mr. Obama’s last remark raised eyebrows, in no small part because people were puzzled as to why he had suddenly referred to himself as “Baby.”

But the Illinois senator, who exhorted the crowd at the fundraiser to “show me the money,” seemed dismissive of Mrs. Clinton’s accusations, later telling MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”

Professor Davis Logsdon, who studies plagiarism in the speeches of presidential candidates at the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Oratory, says that accidental plagiarism can often occur in the hurried atmosphere of a political campaign: “As Obama himself has often said, he feels the need… the need for speed.”

For his part, Mr. Obama seems to have moved past the controversy altogether, greeting his audience at a campaign rally in El Paso with his trademark welcome: “Ladies and gentlemen, I’m Johnny Cash.”

Elsewhere, President George W. Bush said that while he recognized Kosovo, he could not recognize Kosovo on a map.

Andy’s Only West Coast Appearance – April 24
Andy makes his only scheduled West Coast appearance Thursday, April 24 at University of California, Santa Barbara. 8 PM at Campbell Hall. Tickets available at https://artsandlectures.sa.ucsb.edu

Andy with Susie Essman and Jeffrey Toobin – May 13
Andy hosts “Countdown to ’08″ on Tuesday, May 13 at 8 PM at the 92nd St. Y with his special guests Susie Essman (HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm) and Jeffrey Toobin (CNN, bestselling author of The Nine). The Y is located at 92nd St. and Lexington Avenue. For tickets, go to www.92y.org .

http://www.borowitzreport.com/

                          ==========

three thousand words

Tom Tomorrow: The Adventures of Captain Blowhard and Bombastic Lad

http://action.credomobile.com/comics/Original%20Image021908.jpg

Bruce Beattie: mccain’s not conservative enough …

http://editorialcartoonists.com/cartoons/BeattB/2008/BeattB20080220_low.jpg

Mike Smith: … rely on my many years of driving experience

http://tinyurl.com/2hehfq  (media.lasvegassun.com)

Wednesday February 20, 2008 – “Glory is fleeting, but obscurity is forever.” – Napoleon Bonaparte

Wednesday, February 20th, 2008

BMO Capital Markets. … and more

Focus : a weekly financial digest
Bank of Montreal, February 15, 2008

http://www.bmonesbittburns.com/economics/focus/20080215/focus.pdf

CIBC World Markets.

The week ahead

CIBC World Markets, February 18-22, 2008.

http://research.cibcwm.com/economic_public/download/feb15_08.pdf

TD Bank Financial Group.

The weekly bottom line
TD Bank Financial Group, February 15, 2008.

http://www.td.com/economics/weekly/feb1508.pdf

                          ==========

Wallace again falsely suggested PAA gave government authority to “monitor communications among terrorism suspects”

Introducing an interview with Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell, Chris Wallace asserted: “A law which gives President Bush powers to monitor communications among terrorism suspects expired at midnight.” In fact, the expired PAA revisions to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, did not simply give Bush “powers to monitor communications among terrorism suspects,” but rather, among other things, the revisions expanded the government’s authority to eavesdrop on Americans’ domestic-to-foreign communications without a warrant. Further, Wallace never mentioned that the government had the authority to listen in on the communications of suspected terrorists before Congress passed the PAA in August 2007 or that this authority continues despite the PAA’s expiration.

Read More

http://mediamatters.org/items/200802170004?lid=69383&rid=3823160

                          ==========

ISN’T FISA ENOUGH?

By Scarecrow, Firedoglake

We have FISA because government will always abuse its authority, exceed its bounds and expand its surveillance beyond its original designs.

http://www.alternet.org/blogs/peek/77298/

                          ==========

‘Big Oil’s big dreams are close to coming true.’ The door to Iraq’s oil opens

By M K Bhadrakumar

16 Feb 2008

In sum, as Ben Lando, United Press International’s energy editor put it, “Big Oil’s big dreams are close to coming true … No doubt, it is pay-off time for the four majors who didn’t make an issue of the US military occupation of Iraq or the ensuing mess-ups during Paul Bremer’s rule or the ensuing acute security situation, but kept going with their nose on the ground and worked with the Iraqi ministry during the past four years in conducting reservoir surveys, assisting in the drawing up of work plans and in training personnel.

At:

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/JB16Ak05.html

Iraq Oil Report – ‘Oil companies race to the finish as pre-registration for Iraq oil contracts closes’

Plus:
*Kurds considering legal action against Oil Minister
*Oil companies hold onto cash intended for Iraq
*Oil Ministry plans 300,000 barrel per day oil refinery in Nasiriyah
*The legislative progress minus oil

As the final day of registration closes, Iraq’s Oil Ministry said more than 70 firms from around the world have submitted papers, Reuters reports. Iraq has the world’s [...]

You may view the latest post at

http://tinyurl.com/233mwt   (iraqoilreport.com)

From: CLG News

                          ==========

CANDIDATES PLUNDER THE PEWS IN THEIR ALTAR CALL FOR VOTES

By Rob Boston, Church & State Magazine

Presidential candidates are professing their faith as the “Jesus Factor” continues to reverberate in politics.

http://www.alternet.org/election08/75740/

                          ==========

Signing Statements and Permanent Bases in Iraq

The Boston Globe reports today: “President Bush this week declared that he has the power to bypass four laws, including a prohibition against using federal funds to establish permanent U.S. military bases in Iraq, that Congress passed as part of a new defense bill. Bush made the assertion in a signing statement that he issued late Monday after signing the National Defense Authorization Act for 2008.”

http://tinyurl.com/2txpjg   (www.boston.com)

RAED JARRAR, RJarrar@afsc.org ,

http://raedinthemiddle.blogspot.com

Currently in Washington, D.C., Jarrar, who was born and raised in Iraq, is Iraq consultant for the American Friends Service Committee. He said today: “This most recent presidential signing statement helps reveal the administration’s plans for maintaining permanent military bases in Iraq. Polls conducted by World Public Opinion have found that a majority of both the Iraqi and U.S. publics are opposed to permanent bases, though a majority of Iraqis expected it would happen anyway.

Now, a group of U.S. and Iraqi negotiators, appointed by the two executive branches, is drafting a bilateral agreement for bases and other indefinite U.S. intervention in Iraq’s domestic affairs.

“This will increase violence and further destabilize the country because it is against the will of the Iraqi public, and against the will of the Iraqi elected officials in the parliament. Iraqis want to get their country back from the foreign occupiers, and if they realize that there is no way to end the occupation through nonviolent and political resistance, more of them will turn to armed resistance.”

From: Institute for Public Accuracy

                          ==========

‘Prayers’ just won’t do

February 16, 2008
Tim Rutten:

It’s been a particularly grim and bloody month on one of the world’s great killing fields — the United States of America.

On Friday, Los Angeles paused for the largest police funeral in its history when it buried Officer Randal Simmons, a 51-year-old father of two and the LAPD’s first SWAT team member to die in the line of duty. Simmons was shot dead and Officer James Veenstra was badly wounded when they — along with others in their unit — rushed into a San Fernando Valley home where a disturbed young man had killed three members of his family and was believed to be holding others hostage.

In Oxnard this week, an eighth-grader walked into a classroom and fatally shot a classmate in the head, apparently because the boy was gay.

On Thursday, at Northern Illinois University, a graduate student walked into a lecture hall, shot five students to death and wounded 16 other people before committing suicide.

There have been three other campus shootings since Feb. 8, including one at Louisiana Technical College, where a woman shot two students to death before killing herself.

Earlier in the month, a gunman in Kirkwood, Mo., burst into a City Council meeting, killed five people and wounded the town’s mayor. A few days before that, a gunman herded five women in a suburban Chicago clothing store into a back room and shot them all to death in what authorities believe was a botched robbery.

All these wrenchingly tragic crimes are linked by a common factor — the ubiquity of guns in America. Given that we’re in the midst of the most hotly contested presidential campaign in recent memory, you’d think that all this bloodletting might become a campaign issue. If you thought that, you’d have reckoned without regard to the gun lobby’s near-total victory among the politicians of both political parties. The 2nd Amendment fundamentalists who cluster around the National Rifle Assn. are the most successful single-issue constituency in modern American politics.

Complete article at:

http://tinyurl.com/2jy4s5 (www.latimes.com)

                          ==========

Mythbusting Canadian Healthcare, Part II: Debunking the Free Marketeers

February 11th, 2008

SARA ROBINSON

In this follow-up, I’d like to address a few of the larger assumptions that Americans make about health care that are contradicted by the Canadian example. In the process, here is some general thinking, and some talking points, that may be useful in the debates ahead.

In the previous post, I looked at ten of the most common myths that get bandied about whenever Americans drag Canada into their ongoing discussions about healthcare. In this follow-up, I’d like to address a few of the larger assumptions that Americans make about health care that are contradicted by the Canadian example; and in the process offer some more general thinking (and perhaps talking) points that may be useful in the debates ahead.

Government-run health care is inherently less efficient — because governments themselves are inherently less efficient.

If anything could finally put the lie to this old conservative canard, the disaster that is our health care system is Exhibit A.

America spends about 15% of its GDP on health care. Most other industrialized countries (all of whom have some form of universal care) spend about 11-12%. According to the WHO, Canada spends a bit over 9% — and most of the problems within their system come out of the fact that it’s chronically underfunded compared to the international average.

Any system that has people spending more and getting less is, by definition, not efficient. And these efficiency leaks are, almost entirely, due to private greed. There is no logical way that a private system can pay eight-figure CEO compensation packages, turn a handsome a profit for shareholders, and still be “efficient.” In fact, in order to deliver those profits and salaries, the American system has built up a vast, Kafkaesque administrative machinery of approval, denial, and fraud management, which inflates the US system’s administrative costs to well over double that seen in other countries — or even in our own public systems, including Medicare and the VA system.

Not incidentally: one of the benefits of single-payer health care is that it largely eliminates the entire issue of “fraud.” You can only “cheat” a system that already views its primary business as rationing and withholding care. In Canada, where the system is set up to deliver health care instead of profits, and medical access is considered a right, this whole oversight machinery is far cheaper and more compact. In general, the system trusts doctors and patients to make the right choices the first time. As a result, people generally don’t have to lie, cheat, and grovel to get the system to deliver the care they need. They just go and get it — and walk out without a moment’s dread about the bills.

Shareholder profit, inflated CEO salaries, and top-heavy administration — all of which serve to work against the delivery of care, not facilitate it — are anti-efficiencies that siphon off 20-25% of America’s total health care spending. These are huge sums; yet it’s mostly money down a gold-plated rathole. In the end, it doesn’t provide a single bed, pay a single nurse or doctor, or treat a single patient.

We’ll have rationed care

Complete article at:

http://tinyurl.com/27ejwh  (www.ourfuture.org)

                          ==========

Borowitz Report – Career Move Shocker

Roger Clemens Named New White House Spokesperson

Bush Impressed By Pitcher’s Performance Before Congress

Now pitching for the White House… Roger Clemens.

That was the word out of Washington today as President George W. Bush introduced the embattled pitcher to the White House press corps as his new official spokesperson.

In a joint appearance, Mr. Bush said he decided to tap Mr. Clemens after seeing him testify in congressional hearings last week.

“I was blown away by Roger,” Mr. Bush told reporters. “You don’t let talent like that go to waste.”

For his part, the former Yankee pitcher appeared to relish his newest assignment, telling reporters, “I am totally pumped.”

In his first session with the press today, Mr. Clemens parried with a reporter who asked if the administration was backing off on its promise to start withdrawing troops from Iraq, claiming that the reporter and “misheard” and “misremembered” such a promise.

“You have misheard and misremembered something that we did not mispromise,” said Mr. Clemens, who later denied that his name was Roger Clemens.

Watching his new spokesperson dazzle the press corps, Mr. Bush later said he was filled with pride: “I haven’t seen a performance like that since Rumsfeld.”

In other sports news, the U.S. military’s plans to shoot down a disabled spy satellite were thwarted today when New England Patriots Coach Bill Belichick shot it down first.

Mr. Belichick’s actions lent credence to reports that he used the satellite to film the St. Louis Rams’ practice sessions before the 2002 Super Bowl.

Elsewhere, Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf said he was optimistic about this week’s elections in his country, explaining, “Regardless of the vote, I have more superdelegates.”

Andy’s Only West Coast Appearance – April 24
Andy makes his only scheduled West Coast appearance Thursday, April 24 at University of California, Santa Barbara. 8 PM at Campbell Hall. Tickets available at https://artsandlectures.sa.ucsb.edu

Andy with Susie Essman and Jeffrey Toobin – May 13
Andy hosts “Countdown to ’08″ on Tuesday, May 13 at 8 PM at the 92nd St. Y with his special guests Susie Essman (HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm) and Jeffrey Toobin (CNN, bestselling author of The Nine). The Y is located at 92nd St. and Lexington Avenue. For tickets, go to www.92y.org .

http://www.borowitzreport.com/

                          ==========

three thousand words

Sandy Huffaker: aren’t you forgetting who has 100 years of experience?

http://editorialcartoonists.com/cartoons/HuffaS/2008/HuffaS20080219_low.jpg

Jeff Danziger: Limbaugh, Hannity, Coulter, McCain, Conservatives

http://danzigercartoons.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/02/dancart3508.jpg

Steve Sack: recession – rebate checks

http://cagle.com/working/080218/sack.jpg

Tuesday February 19, 2008 – When I do good, I feel good; when I do bad, I feel bad, and that is my religion. – Abraham Lincoln

Tuesday, February 19th, 2008

February 2008 issue of New England Economic Indicators

The February 2008 issue of New England Economic Indicators is now available on the Boston Fed’s web site:

http://www.bos.frb.org/economic/neei/neei.htm

                          ==========

USA Today ignores inconsistency in McCain immigration positions

A USA Today article stated that Sen. John McCain “has been criticized for supporting a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, but he has said he would focus on sealing the borders before taking up any other measures,” falsely suggesting that McCain’s current proposal to secure the borders first is consistent with his prior support for comprehensive immigration reform. In fact, McCain previously argued that border security could not be disaggregated from other provisions in legislation on comprehensive immigration reform, or else it would be ineffective.

Read More

http://mediamatters.org/items/200802130011?lid=53670&rid=3542115

                          ==========

Iran launches oil products bourse with petrochemical deal

17 Feb 2008

Iran established its first oil products bourse Sunday in a free trade zone on the Persian Gulf Island of Kish, the country’s oil ministry said. Iran has already registered for another oil bourse, in which it has said it hopes to trade oil in Euros instead of dollars, to reduce any American influence over the Islamic Republic’s economy

At:

http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2008/02/17/business/ME-FIN-Iran-Oil.php

From: CLG News

                          ==========

US Secretly Met Iran Banking Officials

16 Feb 2008

A U.S. official met secretly with Iranian banking officials and senior government aides who oppose punishing the Islamic nation for not doing enough to stop money laundering and terrorism funding, The Associated Press has learned. The talks last month in Paris took place despite the Bush regime’s near-absolute ban on formal U.S.-Iran contact.

At:

http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2008/02/17/business/ME-FIN-Iran-Oil.php

From: CLG News

                          ==========

Signing Statements

The Boston Globe reports today: “President Bush this week declared that he has the power to bypass four laws, including a prohibition against using federal funds to establish permanent U.S. military bases in Iraq, that Congress passed as part of a new defense bill. Bush made the assertion in a signing statement that he issued late Monday after signing the National Defense Authorization Act for 2008.”

http://tinyurl.com/2txpjg   / www.boston.com

JENNIFER VAN BERGEN, jvb000@earthlink.net

http://www.jvbline.org,

http://rawstory.com/news/2005/CanExecutive_Branch_Decide_0923.html

Van Bergen first broke stories about Bush’s signing statements in September of 2005. She has since written several articles on the underlying unitary executive doctrine, including “The Unitary Executive:

Is the Doctrine Behind the Bush Presidency Consistent with a Democratic State?” She said today: “Bush’s signing statements are unlawful and unconstitutional. The Supreme Court has ruled against line item vetoes.

Bush’s signing statements are just line item vetoes in disguise. As Sen. Carl Levin points out, ‘Congress has a right to expect that the administration will faithfully implement all of [the laws] — not just the ones the President happens to agree with.’”

Van Bergen is author of “The Twilight of Democracy: The Bush Plan for America.”

From: Institute for Public Accuracy

                          ==========

How corn is quickly becoming the new crude

Carrie Tait
Financial Post

Saturday, February 16, 2008

The pending global food crisis is due, in part, to a rich twist of irony: One of the factors driving up the price of T-bone steak, a dozen eggs and a carton of milk is a perfectly edible vegetable, a staple of many diets –corn.

Adding to the irony, we’re growing more corn than ever before. We’re just not eating it.

Corn is being diverted from human consumption, kicking off a domino effect of problems tied to food prices. It starts with ethanol produced from corn, which optimists hope will help solve the U.S. reliance on foreign oil, as well as provide a fuel that burns cleaner.

“The U.S. is now using more corn for production of ethanol than our entire crop in Canada,” says Kurt Klein, a professor of agricultural economics at the University of Lethbridge. “It’s huge.”

And it is going to get bigger. In 2000, world production of ethanol totalled 20 billion litres. In 2007, world production climbed to 60 billion litres. In the month of January alone, six billion new litres of ethanol were produced in the United States, Mr. Klein says.

Scores of ethanol plants are under construction and as a result, Mr. Klein predicts that the United States will produce 52 billion litres of the fuel in 2008. When all the plants are running, the United States could produce twice as much corn for ethanol as Canada’s total crop production — wheat, barley, canola?everything.

Complete article at:

http://tinyurl.com/yujwgp (www.canada.com)

Ethanol is not the right solution … and more

Greeley Tribune – Greeley,CO,USA

The picture becomes even darker when you consider that according to a 2007 Cornell University study, producing a gallon of ethanol requires about 100000 …

http://www.greeleytrib.com/article/20080216/READERS/431176420

Ethanol fuels food price frenzy 

Financial Post – Toronto,Ontario,Canada

“The US is now using more corn for production of ethanol than our entire crop in Canada,” says Kurt Klein, a professor of agricultural economics at the …

http://www.financialpost.com/story.html?id=311350

                          ==========

New Analysis Examines Trends in Health Benefit Costs and Wages

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Kaiser Issues New Health Care Costs Snapshot On Changes in Wages and Benefits

With health insurance premiums growing four times faster than workers’ earnings from 2001 to 2007 (78 percent compared to 19 percent, respectively), workers and employers are paying increasing attention to health care costs. A new report in the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Snapshots:

Health Care Costs series examines changes in wages and benefits since the 1960s, and concludes that one way working families may be feeling the impact of rising health care costs is through smaller increases in their paychecks. Wages and Benefits: A Long-Term View is available online at

http://www.kff.org/insurance/snapshot/chcm012808oth.cfm .

                          ==========

National Security Archive Update, February 16, 2008 – Colombian Paramilitaries and the United States: “Unraveling the Pepes Tangled Web”

Documents Detail Narco-Paramilitary Connection to U.S.-Colombia
 Anti-Escobar Task Force

CIA Probed Whether U.S. Intelligence Was Passed to ‘Los Pepes’ Terror Group

Colombian Government Both Recipient and Target of U.S. Intelligence

http://www.nsarchive.org

Washington D.C., February 16, 2008 – U.S. espionage operations targeting top Colombian government officials in 1993 provided key evidence linking the U.S.-Colombia task force charged with tracking down fugitive drug lord Pablo Escobar to one of Colombia’s most notorious paramilitary chiefs, according to a new collection of declassified documents published today by the National Security Archive. The affair sparked a special CIA investigation into whether U.S. intelligence was shared with Colombian terrorists and narcotraffickers every bit as dangerous as Escobar himself.

The new documents, released under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, are the most definitive declassified evidence to date linking the U.S. to a Colombian paramilitary group and are the subject of an investigation published today in Colombia’s Semana magazine.

The documents reveal that the U.S.-Colombia Medellín Task Force was sharing intelligence information with Fidel Castaño, paramilitary leader of Los Pepes (Perseguidos por Pablo Escobar), a clandestine terrorist organization that waged a bloody campaign against people and property associated with the reputed narcotics kingpin. One cable describes a series of meetings from April 1993 where, according to sensitive US intelligence sources, Colombian National Police director General Miguel Antonio Gómez Padilla said “that he had directed a senior CNP intelligence officer to maintain contact with Fidel Castano, paramilitary leader of Los Pepes, for the purposes of intelligence collection.”

The new collection also sheds light on the role of U.S. intelligence agencies in Colombia’s conflict–both the close cooperation with Colombian security forces evident in the Task Force as well as the highly-sensitive U.S. intelligence operations that targeted the Colombian government itself. Key information about links between the Task Force and the Pepes was derived from U.S. intelligence sources that closely monitored meetings between the Colombian president and his top security officials.

“The collaboration between paramilitaries and government security forces evident in the Pepes episode is a direct precursor of today’s ‘para-political’ scandal,” said Michael Evans, director of the National Security Archive’s Colombia Documentation Project. “The Pepes affair is the archetype for the pattern of collaboration between drug cartels, paramilitary warlords and Colombian security forces that developed over the next decade into one of the most dangerous threats to Colombian security and U.S. anti-narcotics programs. Evidence still concealed within secret U.S. intelligence files forms a critical part of that hidden history.”

Visit the Web site of the National Security Archive for more information about today’s posting.

http://www.nsarchive.org

                          ==========

And now for the important news ….

By Argus Hamilton

The Senate Ethics Committee admonished Senator Larry Craig Wednesday over his Minnesota airport bathroom arrest. They said he shouldn’t have flashed his business card at the arresting officer. If they said soliciting sex with strangers was unethical, there would be so many vacant Senate offices it would look like the foreclosure crisis.

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com

                          ==========

three thousand words

Joe Liccar: I’ll talk! I’ll talk! I’ll talk!

http://editorialcartoonists.com/cartoons/LiccaJ/2008/LiccaJ20080218_low.jpg

Tony Auth: … be assured we’ll solve this with our customary brillance

http://images.ucomics.com/comics/ta/2008/ta080217.gif

Mike Peters: I heard their phone calls

http://www.grimmy.com/images/MP_Archive/MP_2008/MP0215.gif

Monday February 18, 2008 – “A constitution of government, once changed from freedom, can never be restored; liberty, once lost, is lost forever.” – John Adams

Monday, February 18th, 2008

Goldwater conservatism 

Barry Goldwater (Congressional Record, Sept. 16, 1981):

However, on religious issues there can be little or no compromise. There is no position on which people are so immovable as their religious beliefs. There is no more powerful ally one can claim in a debate than Jesus Christ, or God, or Allah, or whatever one calls this supreme being.

But like any powerful weapon, the use of God’s name on one’s behalf should be used sparingly. The religious factions that are growing throughout our land are not using their religious clout with wisdom. They are trying to force government leaders into following their position 100 percent. If you disagree with these religious groups on a particular moral issue, they complain, they threaten you with a loss of money or votes or both.

I’m frankly sick and tired of the political preachers across this country telling me as a citizen that if I want to be a moral person, I must believe in ‘A,’ ‘B,’ ‘C,’ and ‘D.’ Just who do they think they are? And from where do they presume to claim the right to dictate their moral beliefs to me? And I am even more angry as a legislator who must endure the threats of every religious group who thinks it has some God-granted right to control my vote on every roll call in the Senate.

I am warning them today: I will fight them every step of the way if they try to dictate their moral convictions to all Americans in the name of ‘conservatism.’

                          ==========

RUSH LIMBAUGH IS TRYING TO TEAR THE GOP APART

By Eric Boehlert, Media Matters for America

Hey, GOP, that’s quite a Noise Machine you’ve constructed. Now good luck trying to dismantle it.

http://www.alternet.org/mediaculture/76962/

                          ==========

Ignoring pattern of politically expedient reversals, NBC’s Gregory claimed McCain “is not going to pander to the right”

NBC’s David Gregory stated: “John McCain is not going to pander to the right. He did that once and it didn’t work.” The Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson and MSNBC analyst Pat Buchanan both agreed, asserting: “He’s not going to do it.” In fact, McCain has attempted to satisfy conservative Republicans by reversing his positions on issues such as taxes, immigration, and the religious right.

Read More

http://mediamatters.org/items/200802130012?lid=53672&rid=3542115

                          ==========

John McCain Sells His Soul to the Right: Backs Off on Torture Ban By Arianna Huffington

14 Feb 2008

Has there ever been a more repugnant example of political pandering than John McCain’s decision to vote against a bill banning waterboarding, putting hoods on prisoners, forcing them to perform sex acts, subjecting them to mock executions, or depriving them of food, water, and medical treatment?

At:

http://tinyurl.com/2b6chb  (www.huffingtonpost.com/)

From: CLG News

                          ==========

ADMIT IT: YOU DON’T KNOW WHERE THE !@#$% TAJIKISTAN IS

by Greg Palast

(Check out an excerpt from Ted Rall’s Silk Road to Ruin at www.gregpalast.com )

Or Kyrgyzstan. Or Turkmenistan. But as your kids will be fighting there among the oil pipes, you should kiss Ted Rall’s crazy ass for going there first – and getting it all down in a book of dead-on cartoons and reportage, Silk Road to Ruin.

Rall almost didn’t make it back. The Taliban who was supposed to execute Rall spoke English – the gunman picked it up as an NYU grad student. As happens when two guys from New York get together, they talked about New York women. Rall told his executioner that you could learn a lot about women by looking at their legs. The Talib said he looks at their eyes. “Not like you got much choice,” Ted opined, noting the draped figures nearby.

This was, by definition, gallows humor. Lucky for Ted, the fanatic shooter needed a couple of chuckles. We all do. And Ted gives us plenty to laugh at in his journey through a horrific wonderland run by a gaggle of lunatic, blood-guzzling dictators (in other words, allies in our War on Terror) where locals play hockey with goat heads.

Silk Road even includes the recipe of Uzbekistan’s President, Islam Karimov, for boiling dissidents alive. (I suggest you skip page 160 where Rall includes a photo of a boiled father of four.)

Instead of a bullet through Rall’s head, the Taliban gave him a “safe-conduct” pass. But Rall’s conduct was anything but safe. When, recently, Bill Clinton flew to Kazakhstan to cuddle up to the dictator Nursultan Nazarbeyev, he was ferried in on private jet of a high-roller locking in a creepy deal for Kazakh uranium. Rall, apparently, missed the jet.

Instead, Rall caroms through the ‘Stans by bus, barfing and bribing and joking his way past sex-starved, over-armed fanatics and avaricious body guards. He’s too whacked by dehydration and diarrhea to worry about the stark-raving danger of such a journey in war-time (it’s always war time in the ‘Stans) to tell us the story you won’t find in the captions of Bill shaking hands with a despot du jour.

Ultimately, what Rall’s story is about is what everything’s all about: oil. The ‘Stans are drenched in it, floating on it, or in the way of it. Thus, the book’s sub-title, “Is Central Asia the New Middle East?”

Rall’s answer is, “Yes, but more dangerous.” Hey, thanks for that.

Ted Rall and his mighty crayon will be teaming with Greg Palast for a series of reports on Election 2008. If you’d like to support this brave new venture in investigative cartooning, make a tax-deductible donation of $75 or more to the Palast Investigative Fund. We’ll send you a hardbound copy of Silk signed by Rall.

http://www.palastinvestigativefund.org/silk-road-to-ruin

Or pick it up through Amazon.com

Greg Palast, Willie Nelson, Jackson Browne and Danny Glover will be appearing next Wednesday, February 20 in New York City with Amy Goodman at fund-raiser for Democracy Now! Get your tickets here.

http://www.democracynow.org/get_involved/donate/willie

                          ==========

Iraq Oil Report – ‘Iraq’s Constitution needs fixing before the oil law can be moved, top MP says…’

Plus:

*Russia and Iraq — quid pro quo on oil for debt
*Attacks on Iraq’s energy sector shut down power grid, bomb found on Electricity Ministry’s doorstep
*State Dept. critiqued by its own for lax dealings with Iraq government
*Iraqi Kurds in U.S. push for investment beyond oil
*Oil for refugees

*Much more…

Political disputes over Iraq’s Constitution need to be resolved [...]

You may view the latest post at

http://tinyurl.com/2dt4pz (iraqoilreport.com)

Iraq Oil Report – ‘Shell, ExxonMobil say it and others want in Iraq’s oil and gas but need guarantees in the law’

Plus:
*Iraq assurances to Lukoil not clear following massive debt forgivness
*Electricity Ministry warns of even less power following more attacks
*Parliament’s passage of three key bills – analysis and understanding
*Much, much more

Iraq’s legal framework is still uncertain, Big Oil firms say, though negotiations on oil and gas deals are ongoing and could wrap up by next month.

“Shell [...]

You may view the latest post at

http://tinyurl.com/ypyfmr  (iraqoilreport.com)

Iraq Oil Report – ‘Confusion on reports Iraq’s Kurds have signed more oil deals, with South Korea, sure to irk Baghdad’

Plus:
*Iraq’s Parliament approved three crucial laws, barely, but nothing doing with the oil law
*Baghdad’s water supply cut for half of its residents
*Power workers protest lax Electricity Ministry
*Electricity and Oil Ministry’s work together to stem fuel, power shortages
*Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s upcoming Iraqi visit

Media reports from Seoul say Iraq’s Kurds have signed deals for oil and other projects [...]

You may view the latest post at
http://tinyurl.com/379xnh  (iraqoilreport.com)

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Comptroller General Commends Treasury-OMB Citizen’s Guide – Press Release:  Comptroller General Walker Commends Treasury-OMB Citizens’ Guide

WASHINGTON (February 14, 2008) – The Department of the Treasury and the Office of Management and Budget today issued the first-ever “Citizens’ Guide” highlighting certain important short and
long-term financial information in the 2007 Financial Report of the United States Government.   The U.S. Government Accountability Office which audits the U.S. government’s consolidated financial statements included in the Financial Report, has for some time urged the creation of a user-friendly summary report, one that policymakers and the American people are likely to read and understand.

“With its more clear and concise language, this Guide represents an important step forward in improving public understanding of the federal government’s true financial condition and fiscal challenges-both today and over the longer-term,” said Comptroller General David M. Walker.

“I want to commend the Treasury, OMB, and GAO staff who worked to make this happen.  In particular, I would like to thank Under Secretary of the Treasury Bob Steele for his leadership in helping to ensure the publication of the Guide.  This is an important step in making key
government information more accessible to the public and enabling the public to better hold the government accountable. We at GAO look forward to working with Treasury and OMB to further refine this document in future years.”

The Guide shows that over the past three years the government’s short-term finances have improved: revenues rose, deficits declined, and government costs remained relatively constant.  At the same time, the Guide clearly shows that the federal government faces serious and growing financial challenges in the years ahead.

“Unless the government makes fundamental changes in its budget, entitlement, discretionary spending and tax policies, and soon, the coming surge of spending on Social Security and Medicare will bring a fiscal tsunami of spending and debt that threatens to swamp our ship of state, damaging the U.S. economy.” Walker said.  “Policymakers must look to the future and face squarely the need for fundamental changes to a range of government programs, policies and activities.  This is the best way to return our country to a more prudent and sustainable fiscal track.”

The Citizen’s Guide can be found at

http://www.gao.gov/financial/fy2007financialreport.html .

For more information, contact GAO’s Office of Public Affairs at (202)512-4800.

Top US accountability officer quits over job constraints

16 Feb 2008

The head of the audit and investigative arm of the US Congress announced his resignation Friday, citing “real limitations” on what he could do. David Walker, a respected voice on fiscal matters, said he was making an early departure from the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) to head a new public interest foundation.

At:

http://tinyurl.com/2tbcod (afp.google.com)

From: CLG News

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The WasteBasket: A Bulletin on Wasteful Government Spending  by Taxpayers for Common Sense

www.taxpayer.net

Check out our just-released complete Database of FY2008 Congressional
Earmarks

http://capwiz.com/taxpayer/utr/1/NAZYICMNCK/HAGKICMNGY/1745873011

PRACTICING WHAT YOU PREACH
Volume XIII No. 7 — February 15, 2008

Lawmakers who have been critical of the hundreds of billions of wasted tax dollars in Iraq are setting the stage for adding billions of dollars in new gold-plated weapons systems to the already-bloated Iraq emergency spending bill.

House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee Chairman John Murtha (D-PA) said this week that the committee plans to draft legislation providing the Defense Department with emergency war funding by the end of this month. Murtha said that he would add billions for the C-17 Globemasters, used by the Air Force to transport troops and cargo, and F-22 Raptors, a controversial tactical plane.

Murtha’s rationale for adding additional expensive aircraft are twofold: to relieve the Air Force’s stressed fleet, and to drive down per-plane costs by buying more planes.

But both these ideas prove a little flimsy when held up to the light. At a Capitol Hill hearing on the defense budget Wednesday, Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England said only four F-22s would be needed this year to replace those lost in the Global War on Terror. The Administration’s Fiscal Year 2009 budget already requests $3.6 billion for 20 of the planes.

Further, the concept that more is better when purchasing expensive aircraft makes about as much sense as loading up on unneeded gadgets or toiletries at Costco just because they’re cheaper en masse. How much the government would actually “save” by purchasing more C-17 Globemasters is unclear: Murtha says only that “one of the problems we have when you buy such a small number, you don’t save any money. So we’re trying to buy at a number where we get some legitimate savings.” Meanwhile the one thing we do know is that even if the unit cost is lower, buying more planes than we need to meet our military needs is the wrong way to spend taxpayer dollars.

Both programs have benefitted from Congressional support in the past. As TCS has pointed out previously, the F-22 is a deeply flawed program. Designed to take on Cold War era Soviet fighter planes, it is a relic that fails to address the most pressing security challenges of the 21st century. The plane’s manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, has kept the F-22 from the chopping block by spreading the program among contractors in 44 states. The Defense Department had budgeted $400 million to finally shut down the line in FY2009, but ultimately added the money for the new F-22s in order to “defer the decision” on whether or not to shut down until the next administration.

The C-17 Globemaster also saw a dramatic turnaround last year: millions in shutdown costs proposed by the Office of Management and Budget were taken out of the FY 2008 budget by the Air Force AND 10 new planes were added in the 2008 Defense Authorization bill via an earmark sponsored by seven lawmakers. This about-face prompted a Pentagon investigation requested by Senators including Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and John McCain (R-AZ) into whether Congress, Air Force brass and C-17 manufacturer Boeing colluded to keep the line open against the wishes of OMB.

The “emergency” supplementals provide a perfect vehicle for funding such controversial and expensive programs. Shoehorning them into supplementals rather than making them battle it out in the budget negotiations with other important programs and weapons systems is the wrong approach. With the Pentagon and others unable to come up with an urgent or emergency need for these items, Congress’s claim that it is holding the administration accountable on Iraq emergency spending rings hollow.

Check out TCS’s Complete Coverage of FY08 Spending Bills
http://capwiz.com/taxpayer/utr/1/NAZYICMNCK/NPSXICMNGZ/1745873011

TCS Releases Complete FY2008 Database of Congressional Spending Bills
http://capwiz.com/taxpayer/utr/1/NAZYICMNCK/HMDEICMNHA/1745873011

Ending the Earmark ATM: An Insider’s View of Congressional Earmarks
http://capwiz.com/taxpayer/utr/1/NAZYICMNCK/IQKXICMNHB/1745873011

Bush Administration Budget Breakdown (updated Feb. 7)
http://capwiz.com/taxpayer/utr/1/NAZYICMNCK/ARTZICMNHC/1745873011

TCS Statement on the President’s FY2009 Budget
http://capwiz.com/taxpayer/utr/1/NAZYICMNCK/BQIYICMNHD/1745873011

TCS in the News

Romney endorsement trumps McCain’s earmarks message (Reuters)
Pork anyone? State’s leaders among top money-getters (Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal)
The race for earmarks (Boston Herald)
HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS (Press-Register, Alabama)
EDITORIAL: Report details pork addictions (Las Vegas Review – Journal)
O’Malley seeks help on bay, economy (Baltimore Sun)
Just say no (Albany Times Union)
Rogers taps budget for institute he helped create (Lexington Herald-Leader)
Few earmarks for Michigan (Detroit News)
More Pork for Trident (Harper’s Magazine)
McCain Strikes Anew at Obama, Calls on Him to Disclose ‘Pork’ Projects (FOX News)
Report: $141 million in earmarks for Kansas (Kansas.com)
First-term House Dems win earmarks while dueling over mantle of reform (GovExec.com)
The Political Battle Over Earmarks (Huffington Post)
Clinton among tops in ‘earmark’ spending (United Press International)
Quantifying the Earmark Scene (Roll Call) sub req.
Earmark data tough to fry up (Marketplace)
Lawmakers Put Out New Call for Earmarks (New York Times)
‘Earmarks’ fill security spending (Miami Herald, Florida)
Watchdog groups fault Georgia lawmakers about earmarks (Macon Telegraph, Georgia)
Redlands’ Rep. Lewis a leader of the earmark pack (Los Angeles Times)
State hogs funding of earmarks (Sun Herald, Mississippi)
Area pet projects remain well-fed (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
Neither party can resist pork’s allure (St. Petersburg Times)
Minority Lawmakers Lag in Earmark Take (CQ Politics)
Cochran Brings Home $837 Million in Earmarks, Leading Congress (Bloomberg)
Candidates’ Earmarks Worth Millions (Washington Post)
Only 18 Lawmakers Shunned Pet Projects (Associated Press)
Dem leaders shower pork on freshmen (The Hill)
Swimming upstream in Congress (Indianapolis Star)
Budget Battle Never Seems to Change (Washington Post)
Earmarks curb fails to win over Utahns (Salt Lake Tribune)
Earmarks ‘necessary,’ not evil (Louisville Courier-Journal)
Earmarks draw ears and eyes to federal budget (Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Alaska)
LaHood: Federal earmarks crucial (Springfield State Journal Register, Illinois)

Notable Quote

“The reality is we are fighting two wars, in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the F-22 has not performed a single mission in either theater,”

- Robert Gates, Secretary of Defense

weekly wastebasket at www.taxpayer.net

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Maya Schenwar | Bush Keeps War Cost Under Wraps

http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/020808J.shtml

Truthout’s Maya Schenwar reports: “President Bush’s 2009 federal budget, released Monday, does not declare how much funding the administration expects to need for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan next year. The omission appears to break a law that requires the inclusion of the year’s total war funds in the annual budget plan. The administration’s budget includes an ‘emergency allowance’ of $70 billion, but states that more money will be requested once the war’s ‘specific needs’ are
determined.”

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three thousand words

Jim Morin: praise allah! we’re winning

http://editorialcartoonists.com/cartoons/MorinJ/2008/MorinJ20080217_low.jpg

Tom Toles: just a little test …

http://d.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/uc/20080215/ltt080215.gif

Stuart Carlson: now don’t get all idealistic on me! …

http://img.slate.com/media/65/080214_ed.gif