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Archive for August 5th, 2008

Jittery Banks Brace For Forecast Disaster…

GEF @ 7:48 PM ET

Hundreds of banks will fail, Roubini tells Barron’s

NEW YORK, Aug 3 (Reuters) – The United States is in the second inning of a recession that will last for at least 18 months and help kill off hundreds of banks, influential economist and New York University Professor Nouriel Roubini told Barron’s in Sunday’s edition.

Taxpayers will pay a big price for helping bail out the rest of the financial services industry as well, Roubini said — at least $1 trillion and more likely $2 trillion.

The banks will become insolvent because of mounting losses as a result of the housing bust and because they have only written down their subprime loans so far, he said. Still in front of them are their consumer-credit losses, for which they lack the reserves, Barron’s reported.

He also said there are hundreds of millions of dollars outstanding in home-equity loans that could be worth zero, too.

U.S. consumers, meanwhile, are “shopped out” and saving less, while the Federal Reserve’s performance in handling the crisis has been poor, Roubini said, because it failed to see that the problem extended beyond subprime mortgage debt.

Now, Roubini told Barron’s, the government is overregulating, bailing out troubled participants and intervening in every market.

“The regulators should investigate themselves for bailing out Fannie Mae (FNM.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) and Freddie Mac (FRE.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), the creditors of Bear Stearns and the financial system with new lending facilities. They have swapped U.S. Treasury bonds for toxic securities,” he told Barron’s. “It is privatizing the gains and profits, and socializing the losses as usual. This is socialism for Wall Street and the rich.”

He said that sometimes it is necessary to use public money to rescue institutions, but in a way that does not bail out the people who made the mistakes. “In each one of these episodes, the government bailed out the shareholders, the bondholders, and to some degree, management,” Roubini told Barron’s.

As for the banks that will go bankrupt, they will include community banks that finance homes, stores, downtown areas, commercial real estate and other mainstays of U.S. towns and cities, Roubini said.

“Of three dozen or so medium-sized regional banks, a good third are in distress,” he told Barron’s, saying half of the group could go bankrupt. Some big banks could wind up insolvent, he added, but said they might be deemed too big to fail.

Nouriel stressed that he is “quite bullish” about the state of the global economy and that he is positive about the medium and long term.

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What the Iraq Forgery Says About 9/11

anthony @ 23:41 BST

George Washington’s Blog | Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Bestselling journalist Ron Suskind has revealed that the White House ordered the CIA to forge and backdate a document falsely linking Iraq with Muslim terrorists and 9/11 . . . and that the CIA complied with those instructions and in fact created the forgery, which was then used to justify war against Iraq.

Suskind also revealed that “Bush administration had information from a top Iraqi intelligence official ‘that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq – intelligence they received in plenty of time to stop an invasion.’ ”

This is a stunning revelation in its own right. But what does it say about the government’s claims that 9/11 was an attack by Muslim extremists which the U.S. government could not have anticipated?

(more…)

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By- Suzie-Q @ 3:20 PM MST

McCain Suggests Wife Participate In Topless Contest

Huffington Post- Rachel Weiner

August 5, 2008 12:40 PM

Yesterday evening John McCain took part in the Sturgis Rally 2008 at Buffalo Chip in South Dakota, an annual tribute to veterans. The candidate was so enthused, he told attendees, that he encouraged his wife to participate in the festivities: “I told her with a little luck, she could be the only woman ever to serve as both the first lady and Miss Buffalo Chip.”

As the Huffington Post reported on Sunday, the Miss Buffalo Chip contest is more than a little risque — not to mention bedeviled by violence:

ESPN’s Jim Caple described the as “essentially a topless beauty pageant. And occasionally bottomless, too.”
“During a drenching rain Wednesday night, the contest broke up into smaller groups and one woman wound up dancing naked on a bar top. Her boyfriend/husband saw her and angrily dragged her away as she struggled to put her pants back on and muttered something about how, “It’s only this one week a year.”

How sweet. Sadly, the pageant also sees its share of domestic abuse, which even the event’s organizers admit to Caple is a major problem.

Here are some videos from last year’s contest (warning: probably NSFW).

The beauty pageant:

The wet t-shirt contest:

The pickle-licking contest:

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Energy, Food And Climate Crisis

By- Suzie-Q @ 12:30 PM MST

How to Survive the Triple Whammy of Energy, Food and Climate Crises

By John Feffer, Foreign Policy in Focus. Posted August 5, 2008

To survive we need to recognize that these threats are not separate problems, and they must be addressed as one major crisis.

Editor’s Note: This essay originally appeared in TomDispatch, a website run by Tom Engelhardt and associated with The Nation magazine.

Gas prices are above $4 a gallon; global food prices surged 39% last year; and an environmental disaster looms as carbon emissions continue to spiral upward. The global economy appears on the verge of a TKO, a triple whammy from energy, agriculture, and climate-change trends. Right now you may be grumbling about the extra bucks you’re shelling out at the pump and the grocery store; but, unless policymakers begin to address all three of these trends as one major crisis, it could get a whole lot worse.

Just ask the North Koreans.

In the 1990s, North Korea was the world’s canary. The famine that killed as much as 10% of the North Korean population in those years was, it turns out, a harbinger of the crisis that now grips the globe — though few saw it that way at the time.

That small Northeast Asian land, one of the last putatively communist countries on the planet, faced the same three converging factors as we do now — escalating energy prices, a reduction in food supplies, and impending environmental catastrophe. At the time, of course, all the knowing analysts and pundits dismissed what was happening in that country as the inevitable breakdown of an archaic economic system presided over by a crackpot dictator.

They were wrong. The collapse of North Korean agriculture in the 1990s was not the result of backwardness. In fact, North Korea boasted one of the most mechanized agricultures in Asia. Despite claims of self-sufficiency, the North Koreans were actually heavily dependent on cheap fuel imports. (Does that already ring a bell?) In their case, the heavily subsidized energy came from Russia and China, and it helped keep North Korea’s battalion of tractors operating. It also meant that North Korea was able to go through fertilizer, a petroleum product, at one of the world’s highest rates. When the Soviets and Chinese stopped subsidizing those energy imports in the late 1980s and international energy rates became the norm for them, too, the North Koreans had a rude awakening.

Like the globe as a whole, North Korea does not have a great deal of arable land — it can grow food on only about 14% of its territory. (The comparable global figure for arable land is about 13%.) With heavy applications of fertilizer and pesticides, North Koreans coaxed a lot of food out of a little land. By the 1980s, however, the soil was exhausted, and agricultural production was declining. So spiking energy prices hit an economy already in crisis. Desperate to grow more food, the North Korean government instructed farmers to cut down trees, stripping hillsides to bring more land into cultivation.

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Afternoon Jukebox… Born To Be Wild

By- Suzie-Q @ 12:25 PM MST

Steppenwolf- Born To Be Wild  (Easy Rider)

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Sturgis: Sex, Alcohol, Drugs, Bikers And John McCain

By- Suzie-Q @ 9:30 AM MST

Rolling With McCain In South Dakota

Huffington Post- by Mayhill Fowler

Posted August 5, 2008 | 08:32 AM (EST)

Slideshow (Warning Graphic Images!)

STURGIS — What does it say about the McCain Campaign that the poster for Monday’s event featured a bar blond in chaps and bikini-top riding a buffalo, her left hand in a tuft of b-hair, her right cradling a beer? John McCain — his photo — is smaller and below her. The billboard on the road into Sturgis, site of the 68th annual Jackpine Gypsies motorcycle rally, read “Kellie Pickler, Kid Rock and John McCain,” in that order, for the night’s mainstage event at the Buffalo Chip campground. The McCain campaign folks back at the Virginia HQ must have been pulling their very human hair, but what does a war hero care about third billing?

I am at the event. I am choking on nitro, mown hay, chopper dust and pot. Police dogs are sweeping the crowd. The mainstage announcer says bikers have to move out of the security perimeter during the sweep. “Be sure to take all knives and bombs with you,” he chortles. For sure, the knives are real. Cruising through town, I pass a “knives sharpened here” booth at the Episcopal Church. Three aged and rounded cavaliers of the road lounge before a poster, hand-drawn in black and red, featuring a dripping dagger and the advertisement “Under the Blood.”

Sturgis, in the Black Hills of South Dakota, is cavalry country. Historic Fort Meade is here, as well as the Fort Meade Veterans Hospital. On the flight in from Denver, a benefits coordinator for the VA tells me that her job now is all about helping young men with head injuries re-connect. There are more types of brain trauma than human beings should be subject to.

All afternoon I’d been wondering how many of the thousands of bikers here are veterans. Most of them are middle-aged, some in their sixties and seventies. They tend to the large and soft. A bounty of beer bellies on parade. Authenticity aside, this is McCain Country, too. The best advertisement for a bar here is “owned by a veteran.” The proprietor of a Gentlemen’s Club — wet t-shirt contests daily — “served in Iraq on a medical team.”

The lure of motorcycle week in Sturgis is the surrounding Badlands countryside with its miles of open road. But it’s also alcohol, drugs and sex. My other plane conversationalist was a Texas woman coming in to help at her family’s barbeque booth. Dorothy’s husband called her down in Austin the night before to complain of the couples coupling nekkid on his picnic tables at the Chip. The evening will be more than a mere military tribute to John McCain.

The bikers are a sedate group, though, staying within the speed limits and using turn signals, strolling through town with plastic-bagged purchases in hand. Christianity is a strong current running through biker culture. Groups of threes and fours clasp arms to shoulders, heads bowed in prayer. There’s a “bike for Jesus” charity bike wash and plenty of daily AA meetings. A younger man in khaki shorts strode down the sidewalk bearing up jauntily under a varnished and emblazoned crucifix that must have been twelve feet tall. The t-shirt on this pilgrim says, “Live a good life so the preacher won’t have to lie at your funeral.” Motorcycle week in South Dakota is the descendant of the old summer camp meeting — sex and redemption in equal measure at campground.

(more…)

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White House Fabricated Iraq Intelligence, Book Alleges

anthony @ 14:41

By MIKE ALLEN | 8/4/08 11:23 PM EST

A new book by the author Ron Suskind claims that the White House ordered the CIA to forge a back-dated, handwritten letter from the head of Iraqi intelligence to Saddam Hussein.

Suskind writes in “The Way of the World,” to be published Tuesday, that the alleged forgery – adamantly denied by the White House – was designed to portray a false link between Hussein’s regime and al Qaeda as a justification for the Iraq war.

The author also claims that the Bush administration had information from a top Iraqi intelligence official “that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq – intelligence they received in plenty of time to stop an invasion.”

The letter’s existence has been reported before, and it had been written about as if it were genuine. It was passed in Baghdad to a reporter for The (London) Sunday Telegraph who wrote about it on the front page of Dec. 14, 2003, under the headline, “Terrorist behind September 11 strike ‘was trained by Saddam.’”

The Telegraph story by Con Coughlin (which, coincidentally, ran the day Hussein was captured in his “spider hole”) was touted in the U.S. media by supporters of the war, and he was interviewed on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” (more…)

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