Do not forget to check out yesterdays blog with all the info on how to contact the Chinese Embassy and the UN Human Rights Committee which meets today through April 4th.
We must stop the killing of Tibetan Monks.
Tibet must be FREE!
I know it’s Saint Patrick’s Day and like Christmas I have not celebrated any holiday since the illegal invasion of Iraq.
St. Patrick's Day & Irish Resistance
By Daniel Patrick Welch
March 16, 2008
Editor’s Note: The celebration of Saint Patrick’s Day – like so many other holidays – has become an opportunity to get together with friends and to party, which is all well and good. But there is often a serious dimension to the events or the people behind the holidays.
In this guest essay, Daniel Patrick Welch reminds us that the “wearing of the green” represented resistance to English repression:
Another Saint Patrick's Day is here, with its tacky kegs of green beer, leprechauns, lucky charms, fake plastic hats and all imaginable variety of gaudy faux-Irish...um..."charm."
I’ve not put up one ornament, not one light, nothing.
I spend no money for any holiday. Not till every soldiers is brought home.
I refuse to buy crap made in China and sold by big box stores.
I am no traitor to America and her workers. I buy only what I must have to survive.
Winter Soldier may be over but their stories and testimonies will live with me the rest of my life.
Posted below are several ways for you to archive Winter Soldier.
Posted on: March 16, 2008 - 12:21pm by KPFA
We've posted audio from many of the veteran's testimonials from Winter Soldier, organized by speaker and panel:
Rules of Engagement: Part 1
Rules of Engagement: Part 2
The Crisis in Veterans' Healthcare
Corporate Pillaging and Military Contractors
Gender and Sexuality in the Military
Racism and War: Dehumanization of the Enemy: Part 1
Racism and War: Dehumanization of the Enemy: Part 2
(We'll have testimonial audio, photos, and bios from every panel speaker on Warcomeshome.org very soon!)
The complete broadcast archive can be found on KPFA.org: Mar. 14, 2008 Part 1, Part 2 | Mar. 15, 2008 Part 1, Part 2 | Mar. 16, 2008 Part 1, Part 2
From The News Network
Verifying Winter Soldier
Jose Vasquez talks about the process of verifying the stories of those testifying
Sunday March 16th, 2008
Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan War Veterans Speak Out [Photo Essay]
Hundreds of veterans are testifying against war crimes this weekend in Washington, DC. Nina Berman shares their stories.
Winter Soldier: America Must Hear These Iraq Vets' Stories
If America listens to what they say, the war would be over tomorrow.
Go Left TV
I hate our Media.
Iraq war disappears as TV story
By DAVID BAUDER
AP Television Writer
Posted on Mon, Mar. 17, 2008
NEW YORK -- Remember the war in Iraq?
The question isn't entirely facetious. The war has nearly vanished from TV screens over the past few months, replaced by stories about the fascinating presidential campaign and faltering economy.
Yet Americans continue to fight and die there, five years after the war started in March 2003.
"It's no big secret that this is a war that everyone has grown tired of," said CNN correspondent Arwa Damon, whose documentary "On Deadly Ground: The Women of Iraq" is airing several times this month. "Iraqis are aware of it. They think it's a story that people are tired of hearing about. That's what makes our job more crucial."
ABC News will draw attention to the war this week with the fifth edition of its "Where Things Stand" series, polling and interviewing Iraqis about what is happening in their country.
Statistics clearly illustrate the diminished attention. For the first 10 weeks of the year, the war accounted for 3 percent of television, newspaper and Internet stories in the Project for Excellence in Journalism's survey of news coverage. During the same period in 2007, Iraq filled 23 percent of the news hole.
The difference is even more stark on cable news networks: 24 percent of the time spent on Iraq last year, just 1 percent this year.
"The fact that it went down didn't surprise me," said Tom Rosenstiel, the project's director. "But the fact that it almost disappeared is something I didn't expect."
The fatigue factor is hard to fight.
From a journalist's standpoint, the story hasn't changed for several months. The American "surge" appears to have made progress, and while Iraq is hardly safe, pockets of the country are much safer than before.
It's possible to pinpoint the exact week that the switch turned off. The war averaged 30 minutes per week of coverage last year on the three network evening newscasts up until Gen. David Petraeus, commander of the U.S. forces, testified in September about the surge's progress, according to news consultant Andrew Tyndall. In the last 15 weeks of the year, the broadcasts collectively spent four minutes per week on the war.
A week before Petraeus' testimony, Katie Couric did some of her best journalism since joining CBS during a trip to Iraq and Syria.
Her reward? The least-watched week for the "CBS Evening News" since at least 1987, and probably long before.
"The story there is so difficult to cover and there's so little to get to that represents something you haven't said already and haven't shown already," said Paul Friedman, senior vice president of CBS News.
It's also dangerous and expensive, he said.
Unless the story changes dramatically, Friedman said, the point may come when a network pulls full-time staff from the country.
Whether the media is to blame or not, people clearly know less about what's going on in Iraq than they used to. About half of Americans have consistently been able to correctly estimate how many U.S. military personnel have died there, most recently last August. But a survey conducted two weeks ago by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press found only 28 percent knew that just about 4,000 Americans have been killed.
To this point, the networks say they haven't cut back on their staffing and commitment to covering Iraq.
"It's clear that this is going to be a big story for some time to come," said ABC News President David Westin. "It's our job to find ways of presenting that story in the most memorable and compelling ways to our audience because they need to know what's going on there."
That means replacing micro stories - how many people were killed by the latest roadside bomb - with macro stories of investigations and subtle changes in Iraqi society, said NBC News President Steve Capus.
For correspondents, the trade-off is less exposure on the air for more interesting stories that show enterprise. ABC's Terry McCarthy reported a love story with a Sunni woman and Shiite man marrying to the backdrop of sectarian violence in Baghdad. NBC's Richard Engel spent 10 days in Najaf reporting on Iranian influence there, and Damon got a strong viewer reaction to her story about a 5-year-old boy whose face was doused with gasoline.
"There is always news out there if you look for it," said Jon Klein, CNN U.S. president. "What too many news organizations were doing was covering the car bomb du jour, and when the car bombing ceased, the coverage ceased."
Still, Engel senses a growing dissatisfaction among some correspondents about the lack of air time.
Engel said he believed war news would come back to the fore. It was pushed back following the Asian tsunami and Hurricane Katrina, but those stories faded. This interval is just longer than the others, he said.
"Obviously, the economy is really critical and the campaign is really critical," Rosenstiel said. "But you do have a sense that when all is said and done, when we have a new president, the thing that will dominate the presidency is the war."
Baghdad rocked as McCain, Cheney visit
By QASSIM ABDUL-ZAHRA, Associated Press Writer 1 hour, 6 minutes ago
BAGHDAD - Sen. John McCain stressed the importance of a U.S. commitment to Iraq during talks with Iraq's prime minister Monday, and explosions struck Baghdad during twin visits by the presumptive Republican presidential nominee and Vice President Dick Cheney.
Helicopter gunships circled over central Baghdad and the heavily fortified Green Zone, but no details were immediately available on the cause of the explosions.
McCain, who has linked his political future to U.S. military success in Iraq, met Monday with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki shortly before the Iraqi leader began separate talks with Cheney.
Al-Maliki said he and the vice president discussed ongoing negotiations over a long-term security agreement between the two countries that would replace the U.N. mandate for foreign troops set to expire at the end of the year.
"This visit is very important. It is about the nature of the relations between the two countries, the future of those relations and the agreement in this respect," the prime minister told reporters. "We also discussed the security in Iraq, the development of the economy and reconstruction and terrorism."
McCain also said it was important to maintain the U.S. commitment in Iraq and warned that a U.S.-Iraqi military operation to clear al-Qaida from its last urban stronghold of Mosul, 225 miles northwest of Baghdad, will be "very difficult and very important."
McCain, who arrived in Iraq on Sunday, told reporters that he also discussed with the Shiite leader the need for progress on political reforms, including laws on holding provincial elections and the equitable distribution of Iraq's oil riches.
The Arizona senator said he had reviewed the security situation in Baghdad with Iraqi officials.
He also visited the Anbar province city of Haditha on Sunday, drinking soft drinks from street vendors and answering questions about the U.S. presidential campaign to tout recent security gains ahead of the fifth anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion.
Asked by one of the vendors if he would return to Iraq, McCain responded, "We'll come back if I win." Footage of the visit was distributed on a military Web site.
Cheney landed at Baghdad International Airport, then flew by helicopter for talks with U.S. and Iraqi officials. It is Cheney's third vice presidential trip to Iraq where 160,000 American troops are deployed and the U.S. death toll is nearing 4,000.
The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad said it could not confirm reports of a rocket attack on the Green Zone after Cheney's arrival. "I'm not aware of any," embassy spokeswoman Mirembe Nantongo said.
Violence has dropped throughout the capital with an influx of some 30,000 additional U.S. soldiers as well as a Sunni revolt against al-Qaida and a cease-fire by radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army militia. The U.S. military has said attacks have fallen by about 60 percent since last February.
McCain met with Deputy Prime Minister Barham Saleh on Sunday and planned to meet with Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, the U.S. Embassy said. Further details of the visit were not released for security reasons, the embassy said.
Before leaving the United States, McCain, who was making his eighth trip to Iraq, said the tour to the Middle East and Europe was for fact-finding purposes, not a campaign photo opportunity.
McCain, the senior Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, was accompanied by Sens. Joe Lieberman, an independent, and Republican Lindsey Graham, two top supporters of his presidential ambitions. The weeklong trip will take McCain to Israel, Britain and France.
In other violence Monday, police said they found the bodies of three members of a U.S.-allied group fighting al-Qaida in Udaim, 70 miles north of Baghdad. Members of the mostly Sunni groups have been increasingly targeted by suspected al-Qaida members seeking to derail the recent security gains.
A roadside bomb targeting a U.S. convoy injured four civilians in Baghdad, while a separate bombing in the capital's Mansour neighborhood injured a policeman. Both were reported by police officials on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information.
Associated Press writers Bushra Juhi and Sinan Salaheddin contributed to this report.
How to Destroy a Country in Five Years
This the fifth of Iraq's blood-sodden anniversaries since Bush invaded, and the country is now utterly ruined.
"It reminds me of Iraq under Saddam," said a militant opponent of Saddam Hussein angrily to me last week as he watched red-capped Iraqi soldiers close down part of central Baghdad so the convoy of Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki might briefly venture into the city.
Five rears after the invasion of Iraq the US and the Iraqi government both claim that Iraq is becoming a less dangerous place, but the measures taken to protect Mr. Maliki told a different story. Gun-waving soldiers first cleared all traffic from the streets. Then four black armored cars, each with three machine gunners on the roof, raced out of a heavily fortified exit from the Green Zone, followed by sand-colored American Humvees and more armored cars. Finally, in the middle of the speeding convoy, we saw six identical bullet proof vehicles with black windows, one of which must have carried Mr. Maliki.
The precautions were not excessive since Baghdad remains the most dangerous city in the world. The Iraqi prime minister was only going to the headquarters of the Dawa party to which he belongs and which are only half a mile from the Green Zone but his hundreds of security guards acted as if they were entering enemy territory.
Five years of occupation have destroyed Iraq as a country. Baghdad is today a collection of hostile Sunni and Shia ghettoes divided by high concrete walls. Different districts even have different national flags. Sunni areas use the old Iraqi flag with the three stars of the Baath party and the Shia wave a newer version, adopted by the Shia-Kurdish government. The Kurds have their own flag.
The Iraqi government tries to give the impression that normality is returning. Iraqi journalists are told not to mention the continuing violence. When a bomb exploded in Karada district near my hotel killing 70 people the police beat and drove away television cameraman trying to take pictures of the devastation. Civilian casualties have fallen from 65 Iraqis killed daily from November 2006 to August 2007 to 26 daily in February. But the fall in the death rate is partly because ethnic cleansing has already done its grim work and in much of Baghdad there are no mixed areas left. More than most wars the war in Iraq remains little understood outside the country. Iraqis themselves often do not understand it because they have an intimate knowledge of their own community, be it Shia, Sunni or Kurdish, but little of other Iraqi communities. It should have been evident from the moment President George W Bush decided to overthrow Saddam Hussein that it was going to be a very different war from the one fought by his father 1991. That had been a conservative war waged to restore the status quo ante in Kuwait.
The war of 2003 was bound to have very radical consequences. If Saddam Hussein was overthrown and elections held then the domination of the 20 per cent Sunni minority would be replaced by the rule of the majority Shia community allied to the Kurds. In an election Shia religious parties linked to Iran would win, as indeed they did in two elections in 2005. Many of America's troubles in Iraq have stemmed from Washington's attempt to stop Iran and anti-American Shia leaders like Muqtada al-Sadr filling the power vacuum left by the fall of Saddam Hussein.
The US and its allies never really understood the war they won which started on March 19, 2003. Their armies had an easy passage to Baghdad because the Iraqi army did not fight. Even the so-called elite Special Republican Guard units, well paid, well equipped and tribally linked to Saddam, went home. Television coverage and much of the newspaper coverage of the war was highly deceptive because it gave the impression of widespread fighting when there was none. I entered Mosul and Kirkuk, two northern cities, on the day they were captured with hardly a shot fired. Burned out Iraqi tanks littered the roads around Baghdad, giving the impression of heavy fighting, but almost all had been abandoned by their crews before they were hit.
The war was too easy. Consciously or subconsciously Americans came to believe it did not matter what Iraqis said or did. They were expected to behave like Germans or Japanese in 1945, though most of Iraqis did not think of themselves as having been defeated. There was later to be much bitter dispute about who was responsible for the critical error of dissolving the Iraqi army. But at the time the Americans were in a mood of exaggerated imperial arrogance and did not care what Iraqis, in the army or out of it, were doing. "They simply thought we were wogs," says Ahmad Chalabi, the opposition leader, brutally. "We didn't matter."
Continue to page 2 http://www.alternet.org/waroniraq/79875/?page=2
5 years after Iraq's 'liberation,' there are worms in the water
By Hannah Allam | McClatchy Newspapers
BAGHDAD — Iraq's most prominent clerics have ruled that using a water pump on one's own pipes is akin to stealing resources from a neighbor, so what does a person do when it takes half an hour to fill a cooking pot with water from the tap?
Iraqis pray for forgiveness, then pump away.
To them, the real crime is that five years after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, they still swelter in the summer and freeze in the winter because of a lack of electricity. Government rations are inevitably late, incomplete or expired. Garbage piles up for days, sometimes weeks, emanating toxic fumes.
The list goes on: black-market fuel, phone bills for land lines that haven't worked in years, education and health-care systems degraded by the flight of thousands of Iraq's best teachers and doctors.
When the Iraqi government announced that 2008 would be "the year of services," workaday Iraqis had their doubts.
"Under Saddam's regime, we had limited salaries but we had security and decent services. Now, we have decent incomes but we lose it all to water, propane, groceries, fuel. We save nothing," said Balqis Kareem, 46, a Sunni Muslim housewife who lives in the predominantly Shiite Muslim district of Karrada. "This government gives with the right hand and takes away with the left."
At Kareem's modest, single-story home, a wall in the living room sprouts a tangle of electrical wires, a reflection of the three power sources she juggles throughout the day: the government's supply, her own small generator and the neighborhood's larger generator. Even so, for five years she hasn't been able to keep milk or meat in the refrigerator for more than a few hours because it spoils so quickly in the daily blackouts.
A kitchen cupboard holds a barely touched box of rationed tea, which Kareem described as "so bitter no amount of sugar can sweeten it." She said that she'd once used a magnet to clean metallic flakes from a bag of government-supplied rice. She barred her four children from drinking tap water after she found worms floating in a glass she'd poured.
The family's home phone rarely works, though earlier this month a worker from the phone company showed up demanding payment for calls that they both knew she hadn't made. Like so many employees of government utilities, he wanted a bribe.
"I just got to the point and told him, 'Don't waste my time. How much do you want?' " Kareem said. "He told me, I paid him and then went on with my day. I'm practical."
As another scorching summer approaches, everyone has to improvise to find electricity. Those who can't afford generators have to grease the meter men to look the other way as they splice wires and steal more than their permitted amount of power. At most, they'll be able to run a TV set, a couple of fluorescent bulbs and maybe the water pump. Of course, that's only when the electricity is on — never more than five hours a day and typically closer to two.
A popular joke here goes that a distraught boy approached his mother and sobbed that his father had touched a live wire and was electrocuted, to which the mother replied, "Thank God! There's electricity!"
When a reporter asked the official spokesman Ali Dabbagh how the Iraqi government could restore faith in its leaders' promises of services, he hung up the phone, offended at the question.
"Anyone who says that solving the services issue will take two or three years is exaggerating. Iraqi cities need years of work and billions of dollars," said Sadiq al Rikabi, a political adviser to Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki. "The destruction that we inherited, which was increased by terrorism, makes the suffering of Iraqis very difficult. Ending this needs time and effort, but the prime minister is determined to start the work and, God willing, Iraqis will feel the improvement in the coming few months."
Adil Hameed, a senior adviser to the minister of electricity, defended his embattled employer, listing a number of setbacks to power production that range from the devastating looting of a main control center in the early days of the U.S.-led invasion to the shortages in Baghdad caused by populous southern provinces using far more than their allotted share of electricity.
This year's electrical infrastructure-improvement budget of $1.4 billion is half of what it would take to make a dent in the problem, Hameed said. Yet there have been modest gains: a month-old operations room that reports directly to the prime minister, the deployment of U.S. forces to protect electricity facilities and a stepped-up search for international companies to build power plants.
"We're now producing at about 50 percent, but the people get only about 25 percent of their needs because we use nearly half the production to supply Iraqi infrastructure such as hospitals and government departments," Hameed said, adding that he expected outages to increase as usual during the summer.
Increasingly, Iraqis are relying on militias and other armed groups to fill the services void. Stories abound of neighborhood militiamen commandeering power plants and forcing terrified engineers to flip the switches even during government blackouts, turning militants into heroes and further undermining the unpopular Maliki administration.
In some poor areas of Baghdad, militias or Iranian-backed charities have become the main source of propane tanks, food staples, garbage collection and other services that the government should provide.
"They always talk, but nothing is tangible so far," Karam Hussein, 60, a Shiite retiree, said of the government. He lives in Baghdad's Shaab neighborhood, which is mostly under the control of the Mahdi Army militia. "On the contrary, when they talk, things always get worse. It's better if they just stop talking."
In the hardscrabble, mostly Shiite neighborhood of Shohada, 67-year-old Hani Abdel Hussein is desperately trying to sell the family home in hopes of moving to an area with better services. Damage from a stray mortar shell that plunged through the roof isn't the only deterrent for buyers, however.
Trash collection is so sporadic that residents tie up their garbage in plastic bags and fling them onto a reeking pile at the end of the street. Electricity is mainly from a private generator, and water shortages have forced Abdel Hussein to shower at a public bathhouse in another neighborhood.
His land line has been dead for the past three years, though he recently received a bill for about $70.
"If the phone actually worked, I'd be happy to pay today," the soft-spoken father of three said. "I don't believe it's that hard for the government to bring back services. But they had 50 sessions of parliament just to remove the stars from the flag. I guess they're too busy."
(McClatchy special correspondents Laith Hammoudi and Jinan Hussein contributed to this article from Baghdad.)
Gees Al why don’t you invite the KKK’s Grand Dragon why your at it buddy. Please note for some reason this web site takes more than one refresh to full load.
Posted about 6 hours ago by newshounds ·
Sean Hannity is scheduled to participate in the National Action Network's (Rev. Al Sharpton is the president) convention honoring the 40th anniversary of the death of Martin Luther King, on April 4th. As we have repeatedly demonstrated, Hannity has a dubious, at best, record on issues relating to civil rights. In fact, for the last three years, he has "commemorated" the federal holiday recognizing Martin Luther King by attacking an African American and accusing them of racism. Now Hannity is doing his best to undermine the candidacy of the first African American to run for president not by debating him on the issues about which most Americans care but by smearing Barack Obama as an anti-American racist, based on the beliefs of his pastor. For those reasons and others outlined after the jump, I believe that Hannity has no place in any commemoration of Dr. King.
Bush and the Nazi-Cons have accomplished their agenda. They did what their ancestors couldn’t. Destroyed the dollar, the middle class, education, etc, etc, etc.
Argentina, Brazil to drop U.S. dollar in bilateral commercial transactions
BUENOS AIRES, March 15 (Xinhua) -- Argentina and Brazil are to scrap bilateral commercial transactions in U.S. dollars and start using their own currencies from August, an official in charge of currency settlement at the Argentine Central Bank said here Saturday.
The new payment system is aimed at reducing costs in commercial transactions and would benefit small and medium-sized enterprises, the official said.
Under the new system, there will be a unified exchange rate between the real and peso, the so-called reference rate, which will be applied by Brazilian and Argentine central banks at the end of each day.
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva reached an agreement to establish a new payment system with his Argentine counterpart Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner during his visit to Argentina in February.
Technical preparations are underway for the new system, which the two countries will adopt in several steps due to the large amount of bilateral trade.
Brazil is Argentina's largest trading partner, while Argentina is Brazil's second-biggest trading partner after the United States.
Bilateral trade stood at around 23.6 billion U.S. dollars last year.
More bail out for those who have destroyed America. We are so very screwed!
Stocks Tumble Around World, Dollar Declines After Fed Cuts Rate
By Patrick Rial
March 17 (Bloomberg) -- Stocks fell around the world and the dollar tumbled after the Federal Reserve cut its discount interest rate at an emergency meeting and JPMorgan Chase & Co. agreed to buy Bear Stearns Cos. for $2 a share. Bonds, gold and crude oil climbed.
UBS AG posted its biggest drop in more than nine years in Zurich and Japan's Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc. fell to the lowest in four years. Europe's Dow Jones Stoxx 600 Index and Japan's Nikkei 225 Stock Average sank to the lowest since 2005, while futures on the Standard & Poor's 500 Index decreased 2 percent on mounting concern that other financial companies will run short of cash.
The dollar slid to record lows against the euro and the Swiss franc and fell to the weakest in 12 years against the yen, helping push gold and crude oil to highs.
``This is a serious crisis,'' said David Goldman, senior portfolio strategist at Asteri Capital in New York and former head of debt research at Banc of America Securities LLC.
``Something is systemically very wrong and we're at a very dangerous moment.''
The Fed lowered the rate on direct loans to commercial banks by 25 basis points to 3.25 percent to help restore confidence in financial markets shaken by the collapse of Bear Stearns and more than $195 billion in asset writedowns and credit losses worldwide. The action coincided with JPMorgan buying Bear Stearns for about $240 million, less than a 10th of its value last week.
S&P 500 futures expiring in June slumped 2 percent to 1,266.8 as of 11:50 a.m. in London. The index will slip into a bear market should it drop below 1,252.12, 20 percent lower than its Oct. 9 record and 2.3 percentage points from its current level.
The Stoxx 600 fell 3.5 percent to 293.43, while the MSCI Asia Pacific Index lost 2.4 percent to 132.71. Japan's Nikkei tumbled 3.7 percent to the lowest since August 2005.
Global stock markets lost $2.4 trillion in market value from a peak in October as of March 14. That partly reflects the slump in the U.S. dollar.
The dollar weakened to as low as 95.76 yen, a level not seen since August 1995, from 99.09 on March 14. It dropped to a record low of $1.5903 per euro and an all-time low of 0.9658 Swiss francs. The Australian and New Zealand dollars fell on speculation investors will spurn higher-yielding currencies as financial turmoil deepens.
``The Fed is throwing the dollar out of the window,'' said Jim Rogers, chairman of Rogers Holdings, in a Bloomberg Television interview from Singapore. ``Everyone listening should get out of the dollar,'' said Rogers, who predicted the start of the commodities rally in 1999.
U.S. Treasury notes rose, causing the 10-year yield to fall 10 basis points to 3.36 percent as traders bet the U.S. central bank will lower its benchmark rate by a full percentage point when it meets tomorrow.
Gold for immediate delivery climbed as much as 3 percent to a record $1,032 an ounce as investors sought a haven against the weakening dollar. Crude oil gained as much as 1.4 percent to a high of $111.80 a barrel.
``The dollar is facing a credibility crisis,'' said Koji Fukaya, a senior currency strategist at the Tokyo unit of Deutsche Bank AG, the world's largest currency trader. ``All the markets are entering a vicious cycle.''
Financial shares fell, leading declines in the MSCI World Index. UBS, Europe's biggest bank by assets, dropped 10 percent to 25.48 Swiss francs, the most since September 1998. Babcock & Brown Ltd., Australia's second-largest investment bank, plunged 10 percent in Sydney. Mitsubishi UFJ Financial, Japan's biggest lender by market value, slumped 4.8 percent to 789 yen, the lowest since Feb. 10, 2004.
Bear Stearns plunged 90 percent to $2.88 after JPMorgan agreed to buy the bank. JPMorgan added 6 cents to $36.60.
Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., the fourth-largest U.S. securities firm, lost 27 percent to $28.60.
``Facilitating a purchase of Bear by JPMorgan is, in effect, more Band-Aids when the patient needs surgery,'' said Ed Rogers, chief executive of Rogers Investment Advisors Y.K., which runs a fund of hedge funds. ``There is a lot more pain to come.''
The $2 price for Bear Stearns indicates how close the company was to collapse and raises concern that other U.S. financial companies may fail, said Takero Inaizumi, a manager at Mizuho Investors Securities Co. in Tokyo. Bear Stearns shares closed at $30 on March 14, down 47 percent on that day alone.
The cost to protect corporate bonds from default in the Asia-Pacific region surged to records, indicating investors expect more companies to miss debt payments. The benchmark credit-default swap index in Japan gained 37 basis points to 248 basis points, according to Morgan Stanley. The Australian index increased 10.5 basis points to 213 basis points, according to Citigroup Inc.
The so-called TED spread, the difference between what the U.S. government and companies pay for three-month loans, was near the highest this year at 1.61 percentage points, indicating banks are less willing to lend.
Japan's Finance Minister Fukushiro Nukaga, who has the power to intervene in currency markets, said recent moves by the yen are ``excessive.'' The government is not considering any specific action at the moment, he said.
Sony Corp., the world's second-biggest consumer-electronics maker, slumped 5.7 percent to 3,960 yen. Nomura Holdings Inc. lowered its rating on the shares on the view that earnings will be curbed with the yen stronger than 100 versus the dollar.
Siemens AG tumbled 12 percent to 70.35 euros in Frankfurt. Europe's biggest engineering company said earnings in the current quarter will be cut by about 900 million euros ($1.4 billion), citing contract delays and a ``major'' order cancellation.
Last Updated: March 17, 2008 08:12 EDT
Fed Cuts Discount Rate, Lends More to Avert Meltdown (Update3)
By Scott Lanman and Craig Torres
March 17 (Bloomberg) -- The Federal Reserve, struggling to prevent a meltdown in financial markets, cut the rate on direct loans to banks and became lender of last resort to the biggest dealers in U.S. government bonds.
In its first weekend emergency action in almost three decades, the central bank lowered the so-called discount rate by a quarter of a percentage point to 3.25 percent. The Fed also will lend to the 20 firms that buy Treasury securities directly from it. In a further step, the Fed will provide up to $30 billion to JPMorgan Chase & Co. to help it finance the purchase of Bear Stearns Cos. after a run on Wall Street's fifth-largest securities firm.
``It is a serious extension of putting the Federal Reserve's balance sheet in harm's way,'' said Vincent Reinhart, former director of the Division of Monetary Affairs at the Fed and now a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington. ``That's got to tell you the economy is in a pretty precarious state.''
The move is Chairman Ben S. Bernanke's latest step to alleviate a seven-month credit squeeze that's probably pushed the U.S. into a recession. The dollar tumbled to a 12-year low against the yen and Treasury notes rallied as traders increased bets that officials will reduce their main rate by 1 percentage point when they meet tomorrow.
`Race to the Bottom'
``Clearly, the Fed is trying to provide more liquidity to prevent a more vicious cycle and race to the bottom,'' said Gary Schlossberg, senior economist at Wells Capital Management in San Francisco, which oversees $200 billion. ``The problem is there's so much concern about credit quality that now there are solvency issues, and it's something the Fed has a more difficult time dealing with.''
The Bank of England said today it will offer 5 billion pounds ($10 billion) of extra three-day funds in an emergency fine-tuning operation. The European Central Bank and the Swiss National Bank declined to comment on whether they're planning any measures.
U.S. stock index futures, Asian and European equities and the dollar tumbled. Standard & Poor's 500 Index futures expiring in June slumped 1.8 percent to 1269.10 as of 5:27 p.m. in Tokyo. Europe's Dow Jones Stoxx 600 Index fell 2.8 percent to 295.66, while the MSCI Asia Pacific Index fell 2.4 percent to 132.63, 23 percent off its November high.
The dollar sank to a record low against the euro and the Swiss franc and fell to the weakest in 12 years against the yen, helping push gold and crude oil to highs.
``We've got a credit crunch situation in every corner of the market,'' said Tetsuro Sugiura, chief economist at Mizuho Research Institute Ltd. in Tokyo. ``The near collapse of Bear Stearns has shocked the authorities.''
Officials from the Fed and the Treasury Department, including Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, worked with the firms over the weekend to forge an agreement on the sale of Bear Stearns. Paulson kept President George W. Bush informed through the weekend, said White House spokesman Tony Fratto.
The Fed reduced the difference between the discount rate and the main federal funds rate to a quarter point. In August, at the onset of financial-market pressures, the Fed narrowed the spread to a half point from 1 percentage point. The funds rate, currently 3 percent, is the rate banks charge each other for overnight loans.
The Fed has lowered its benchmark overnight rate five times and the discount rate seven times since the middle of August, when the collapse of U.S. subprime mortgages started to infect markets around the world. Since then, the S&P 500 stocks index has dropped 11 percent and the dollar has fallen 15 percent against the euro.
Opening up lending to firms other than commercial banks represents a shift in the Fed's 94-year history. The so-called primary dealers include firms that are units of commercial banks and several that aren't, including Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch & Co.
Bernanke, 54, is increasing efforts to keep strains in financial markets from spiraling into a full-blown meltdown. Last week, the central bank agreed to emergency loans to a non-bank, Bear Stearns, for the first time since the 1960s. Fed officials also announced a program to swap $200 billion in Treasuries for debt including mortgage-backed securities.
``These moves underscore the extreme sense of urgency at the Fed,'' said David M. Jones, a former New York Fed economist who has written four books on the central bank. ``It seems unlikely the measures taken so far will calm the market down, but eventually they will stabilize the market.''
JPMorgan Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon yesterday agreed to buy Bear Stearns, the second-biggest underwriter of U.S. mortgage securities, for $240 million, less than a 10th of its value last week. In order to strike a deal before the opening of Tokyo trading, the Fed agreed to help JPMorgan finance up to $30 billion of Bear Stearns's ``less liquid assets.''
``Jamie Dimon's done a great deal because the Federal Reserve is paying for it,'' said investor Jim Rogers, who co-founded the Quantum Hedge Fund with George Soros in the 1970s, during an interview with Bloomberg Television.
The Fed is in effect assuming responsibility for managing the assets, a Fed official told reporters in a conference call. The central bank will manage the positions to minimize any market strains and maximize long-term value, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
``We learned that Bear Stearns's balance sheet on close examination was worth a 10th of its market value,'' said Reinhart. ``Second, the Federal Reserve wants to be sure the other entities coming to them are covered by a broader umbrella,'' he said, referring to the primary dealers.
Shifting policy on a weekend is rare, though not unprecedented. About two months after Paul Volcker took office as Fed chief in 1979, he called a Saturday meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee to raise interest rates.
Yesterday's events are ``nothing like the 1970s, which was about fighting inflation,'' said Jones. ``This is fighting a negative, self-reinforcing process'' of sliding collateral values, tighter bank credit and weakening economic conditions, he said.
Starting today, the dealers who trade with the New York Fed bank daily will be able to borrow at the discount rate under a new lending facility, to be in place for at least six months, the Fed said. The Fed will accept a ``broad range'' of investment-grade collateral.
``These steps will provide financial institutions with greater assurance of access to funds,'' Bernanke said during a conference call with reporters after the announcement.
Rate Cut Expected
Investors expect the Fed to lower its separate benchmark rate by as much as a percentage point, to 2 percent, when policy makers meet tomorrow. That would exceed the 0.75-point emergency reduction on Jan. 22, which is the largest since the overnight interbank lending rate became the main tool of monetary policy about two decades ago.
Yesterday's steps indicate the Fed is increasingly concerned about the investor exodus from mortgage debt, which threatens to deepen the housing contraction.
The central bank on March 11 announced it will for the first time lend Treasuries in exchange for debt that includes mortgage- backed securities held by dealers to facilitate market-making. It holds about $713 billion of Treasuries on its balance sheet.
On March 7, the Fed said it would make $100 billion available through repurchase agreements, where the Fed loans cash in return for assets including mortgage debt issued by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
New York Fed President Timothy Geithner said on the call that ``this is designed to help get liquidity to where it can help play an appropriate role in helping address the range of challenges facing particularly asset-backed securities markets.''
Fed governors agreed that the ``unusual and exigent circumstances,'' as stated in the Federal Reserve Act, existed for approving the lending to primary dealers, a Fed official said on the conference call. The actions were approved by all five members, a Fed official said.
JP Morgan Chase to buy Bear Stearns for $2 a share
BEIJING, March 17 (Xinhuanet) -- JPMorgan Chase & Co said Sunday it will acquire troubled rival Bear Stearns for a bargain-basement price of 236.2 million U.S. dollars, or just 2 dollars a share, media reports said.
The all-stock deal was aimed at averting a bankruptcy of the Wall Street's fifth largest investment bank and a spreading crisis of confidence in the global financial system.
The Federal Reserve and the U.S. government swiftly approved the all-stock deal, showing the urgency of completing the deal before world markets opened.
Under the deal, the Federal Reserve will provide special financing and has agreed to fund up to 30 billion dollars of Bear Stearns' less liquid assets.
Meanwhile, JPMorgan said it will guarantee the trading obligations of Bear Stearns and its subsidiaries until Bear Stearns' shareholders approve the deal, which is expected to be completed during the second quarter.
But JPMorgan Chase Chief Financial Officer Michael Cavanaugh did not say what would happen to Bear Stearns' 14,000 employees worldwide or whether the Bear Stearns name would survive.
At almost the same time as the deal was announced, the Federal Reserve said it approved a cut in its lending rate to banks to 3.25 percent from 3.50 percent and created another lending facility for big investment banks.
Bear Stearns was founded in 1923 and in recent years was best known for its aggressive investing in mortgage-backed securities. In June, two Bear-managed hedge funds worth billions of dollars collapsed. The funds were heavily invested in securities backed by subprime mortgages.
Other Links you might find interesting.
Wow Al Jazeera has a bunch of great links today way to many to post them all, go look.
MONDAY, MARCH 17, 2008
15:37 MECCA TIME, 12:37 GMT
Don’t forget to click on the Pictures of the Week, March 10 - 16 located on the right side of the page.
GUANTANAMO BAY PRISON CAMP
Army judge in Guantánamo Bay rebukes government
An Army judge ordered the Pentagon to give lawyers interrogation records to help them prepare their defense case for Guantánamo Bay captive Omar Khadr.
GUANTANAMO BAY NAVY BASE, Cuba -- In a rebuke to the government, an Army judge Friday issued five successive orders instructing the Pentagon to do more to help lawyers for Canadian captive Omar Khadr build a defense case.
Khadr, 21, faces a trial by military commissions as an alleged al Qaeda terrorist. He is accused of throwing a grenade in a July 2002 firefight in Khost, Afghanistan, that killed a U.S. soldier. He was 15.
If convicted, he faces life in prison.
Military escorts handed the rulings by Army Col. Peter Brownback, the Khadr case judge, to reporters on Friday afternoon as they were leaving the base.
03/16/08 AP: Iraq violence has moved, not ended, report claims
The influx of thousands of U.S. forces has driven down insurgent attacks in Baghdad, but violence elsewhere in Iraq raises questions about whether killings will continue to drop as American forces begin to leave, the United Nations said yesterday.
03/17/08 Xinhua: Three killed in minibus bombing in Baghdad
"A booby-trapped minibus went off after midday near the UqbaBin Nafie Intersection in Karradah neighborhood in central Baghdad, killing three people and wounding 11 others," the source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
03/17/08 AP: Roadside bomb targeting a U.S. convoy injures four civilians in Baghdad
A roadside bomb targeting a U.S. convoy injured four civilians in Baghdad, while a separate bombing in the capital's Mansour neighborhood injured a policeman. Both were reported by police officials on condition of anonymity because they...
Afghanistan the forgotten War!
I’m sorry I missed this yesterday.
: Thoughts for Halabja day, sent from a reader :
This message sent to remember Halabja Day from an anonymous reader.
Today marks the 20th anniversary of Saddam's gas attack on the Kurdish town of Halabja, which killed over 5,000 innocent people and left thousands injured, some of whom are today still suffering from a the deadly strike. The attack on Halabja is only the most famous of many carefully planned attacks on Kurdish people which were part of the Anfal campaign, an attempt by Saddam Hussein to eliminate the already oppressed Kurdish people of Iraq. An unknown number, many tens of thousands, were murdered, some of whom simply disappeared without a trace.
The world was silent. Most remained unaware while some knew but chose to keep quiet. It was only 20 years ago, yet today too many people wonder why the Kurdish nation is suspicious of its neighbors in these uncertain times. Meanwhile, the city of Halabja remains underdeveloped, forgotten by the outside world and too often used as a symbol by opportunists who have no interest in aiding its people.
Please take a moment to remember and pray for the victims Halabja and the Anfal campaign. It was not so long ago.
I wonder if any American politicians will show up on this list of perverts? What a scandal.
Top UK Police Officers Murdered For Investigating Children ‘Loaned Out’ For Rape Cruises
By: Sorcha Faal, and as reported to her Western Subscribers (Traducción al Español abajo)
March 16, 2008
A most disturbing story is unraveling in the Bailiwick of Jersey which details the horrific use of children reported to have been ‘loaned to rich paedophile yachtsmen’, and, also, used to blackmail some of the West’s most powerful politicians, and is an investigation so feared that British press sources are reporting today:
One of the most serious lines of inquiry in the investigation is that children were regularly loaned to wealthy yachtsmen to "do with them what they chose for the day," according to our source close to the investigation.
Haut de la Garenne staff described the trips as a treat for children who spent long hours cooped up at the home. But in reality the kids were subjected to the vilest sexual abuse on board the luxury boats.
Our source said: "The allegations about the yachting community have come in from a number of different people. It is a very strong line of inquiry and when the evidence is made public people will be horrified."
It is important to note that the Bailiwick of Jersey, located off the coast of Normandy, France, is not a part of the United Kingdom, or the European Union, but is British Crown Dependency controlled by Britain’s Royal Family and overseen by Prince Charles, the former husband of the late Princess Diana.
Even more disturbing, about these events, are the number of British Police Officers, involved with the investigation of the child sex horrors that occurred on Jersey, now turning up dead and ‘suicided’, to include; Manchester Chief Constable Michael Todd who was one of Britain's top investigators into CIA activities, Sgt Richard Fuller, who was the top bodyguard for Prince Charles' wife Camilla, and Bournemouth Inspector Neil Munro, who was found dead in the waters off Millionaire's Row, in Dorset, where he was tasked with investigating the yachts of the superrich believed involved in this growing scandal.
One can only imagine the horror, and degradation, suffered by these British children abused by these monsters and then killed for the perverse pleasures of those who believe they live by no other law than those they make up for themselves, the West’s superrich and elite.
Also, and as history has long shown us, the full accounting of these crimes will, most likely, be covered up and relegated to the growing list of atrocities pinned to these Western madman, especially in light of the Belgian peoples long fight with these paedophile monsters after the discovery of the child sex slave dungeons where the bodies of 4 murdered girls were discovered.
Today our prayers go out for these unnamed British children sacrificed upon the alter of Western decadence and idolatry, with a special plea that these peoples will see their leaders for who they really are, depraved monsters.
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