In my links of the day I try to find the links under the wire, articles all the top blogs miss. I'm not afraid to go to Al Jazeera, Kurd Media or to the Pakistan student movement page to bring the real daily news to you.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Links of the Day 3/24/2008 "And then a plank in reason broke"...The Crematorium at Abu Ghraib



TONIGHT WATCH BUSH’S WAR




Icasualties has 8 pending deaths, http://icasualties.org/oif/ . On Friday the March death toll was 17 dead American soldiers today it’s 27 which means we lost 10 kids over the Easter holiday. While people were in church praying and children hunted for Easter eggs people in Iraq continued to die.

Why don’t the number add up right then?

Hostile Non-Hostle Fatalities By Month

Hostile Non Hostile Total

3501 807 4308

http://icasualties.org/oif/HNH.aspx

I wonder was a child smiling and hugging a new stuffed Easter bunny while their Father or Mother lay dying in the sands of Iraq for Bush’s lie?

US death toll in Iraq war hits 4,000

By ROBERT H. REID, Associated Press Writer 31 minutes ago

BAGHDAD - A roadside bomb killed four U.S. soldiers in Baghdad on Sunday, the military said, pushing the overall American death toll in the five-year war to at least 4,000. The grim milestone came on a day when at least 61 people were killed across the country.

Rockets and mortars pounded the U.S.-protected Green Zone, underscoring the fragile security situation and the resilience of both Sunni and Shiite extremist groups despite an overall lull in violence.

The attacks on the Green Zone probably stemmed from rising tensions between rival Shiite groups and were the most sustained assault in months against the nerve center of the U.S. mission.

The soldiers with Multi-National Division — Baghdad were on a patrol when their vehicle was struck at about 10 p.m. in southern Baghdad, the military said. Another soldier was wounded in the attack — less than a week after the fifth anniversary of the conflict.

Identities of those killed were withheld pending notification of relatives.

Navy Lt. Patrick Evans, a military spokesman, expressed condolences to all the families who have lost a loved one in Iraq, saying each death is "equally tragic."

"There have been some significant gains. However, this enemy is resilient and will not give up, nor will we," he said. "There's still a lot of work to be done."

The deadliest attack of the day was in Mosul when a suicide driver slammed his vehicle through a security checkpoint in a hail of gunfire and detonated his explosives in front of an Iraqi headquarters building, killing 13 Iraqi soldiers and injuring 42 other people, police said.

Iraqi guards opened fire on the vehicle but couldn't stop it because the windshield had been bulletproofed, said an Iraqi army officer. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not supposed to release the information.

Mosul, Iraq's third largest city about 225 miles northwest of Baghdad, has been described as the last major urban area where the Sunni extremist al-Qaida group maintains a significant presence.

In Baghdad, rockets and mortars began slamming into the Green Zone about sunrise, and scattered attacks persisted throughout the day, sending plumes of smoke rising over the heavily guarded district in the heart of the capital.

A U.S. public address system in the Green Zone warned people to "duck and cover" and to stay away from windows.

At least five people were injured in the Green Zone, a U.S. Embassy statement said without specifying nationalities. The zone includes the U.S. and British embassies as well as major Iraqi government offices.

A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to release the information, said those injured included an American and four third-country nationals, meaning they were not American, British or Iraqi.

Iraqi police said 10 civilians were killed and more than 20 were injured in rocket or mortar blasts in scattered areas of eastern Baghdad — some of them probably due to misfired rounds.

Also in the capital, seven people were killed and 14 wounded in a suicide car bombing Sunday in the Shiite area of Shula in the capital, police reported. Such attacks are the hallmark of Sunni religious extremists.

Gunmen opened fire on passengers waiting for buses in a predominantly Shiite area in southeastern Baghdad, killing at least seven men and wounding 16 people, including women and children, according to police.

Police also found the bullet-riddled bodies of 12 people — six in Baghdad, four in Mosul and two in Kut, scene of clashes between government troops and Shiite militiamen.

No group claimed responsibility for the Green Zone attacks, but suspicion fell on Shiite extremists based on the areas from which the weapons were fired.

The attacks followed a series of clashes last week between U.S. and Iraqi forces and factions of the Mahdi Army, the biggest Shiite militia loyal to radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

Al-Sadr led two uprisings against U.S.-led coalition forces in 2004. Last August he declared a six-month cease-fire to purge the militia of criminal and dissident elements.

U.S. officials have cited the truce, which al-Sadr recently extended, among the reasons behind a 60 percent drop in violence since President Bush ordered 30,000 U.S.

reinforcements to Iraq early last year.

But the cease-fire has come under severe strains in recent weeks. Al-Sadr's followers have accused the Shiite-dominated government of exploiting the cease-fire to target the cleric's supporters in advance of provincial elections expected this fall.

Al-Sadr recently told his followers that although the truce remains in effect, they were free to defend themselves against attacks. Al-Sadr followers have demanded the release of supporters rounded up in recent weeks.

U.S. officials have insisted they are not going after Sadrists who respect the cease-fire but are targeting renegade elements, known as special groups, that the Americans believe have ties to Iran.

But the pattern of the attacks against the Green Zone could be a signal to the Americans and their Iraqi partners to ease their pressure against mainstream Sadrists or the special groups.

Elsewhere, 12 gunmen were killed Sunday in a raid against a suspected suicide bombing network east of Baqouba, the U.S. military said.

Iraqi police reported a dozen civilians killed in an airstrike in the same area. But the military said those killed in the raid were insurgents, including six who had shaved their bodies apparently in preparation for suicide operations.

A police commander was shot to death along with his driver in Balad Ruz, 45 miles northeast of Baghdad.

A roadside bomb near the northern city of Tuz Khormato killed four Iraqi soldiers, including an officer.

The violence was reported by police officials who declined to be identified because they weren't supposed to release the information.

Last year, the U.S. military deaths spiked as U.S. troops sought to regain control of Baghdad and surrounding areas.

The death toll has seesawed since, with 2007 ending as the deadliest year for American troops at 901 deaths. That was 51 more deaths than 2004, the second deadliest year for U.S. soldiers.

The 4,000 figure is according to an Associated Press count that includes eight civilians who worked for the Department of Defense.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080324/ap_on_re_mi_ea/iraq



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97 percent of US death toll came after 'Mission Accomplished'

Agence France-Presse
Published: Monday March 24, 2008

BAGHDAD (AFP) — The death toll of US soldiers in the five-year Iraq conflict has hit 4,000 in what the US military said Monday was a "tragic" loss of lives after four troops were killed in a Baghdad bombing.

The four soldiers died when their vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb while on patrol late Sunday in southern Baghdad, bringing the overall toll to 4,000, according to an AFP tally based on independent website.

Another soldier was wounded in the attack, a military statement said.

The chaotic and brutal conflict which is now in its sixth year has also wounded more than 29,000 American soldiers, according to icasualties.org.

At least 97 percent of the deaths occurred after US President George W. Bush announced the end of "major combat" in Iraq on May 1, 2003, as the military became caught between a raging anti-American insurgency and brutal sectarian strife unleashed since the toppling of Saddam.

Despite the losses, Bush on the eve of the war's fifth anniversary defended his decision to invade Iraq, vowing no retreat as he promised American soldiers would triumph despite the "high cost in lives and treasure."

US military spokesman in Baghdad, Rear Admiral Gregory Smith, said the loss of every soldier was "tragic".

"No casualty is more or less significant than another; each soldier, marine, airman and sailor is equally precious and their loss equally tragic," Smith told AFP.

"Being in the military means we are willingly in harm's way to protect others in order to bring hope and a sustainable security to the Iraqi people."

According to icasualties.org, 81.3 percent of the soldiers killed have died in attacks by Al-Qaeda in Iraq fighters, Sunni insurgent groups loyal to Saddam and radical Shiite militias.

The remainder died in non-combat related incidents.

Roadside bombs caused most of the casualties, with small arms fire the second biggest killer.

Around 40 percent of those killed were struck by roadside bombs, according to the website, making these weapons the main cause of fatalities.

Others died variously in car bombings, small arms fire, helicopter crashes, ambushes, rocket attacks and suicide bombings.

American soldiers interviewed by AFP in Iraq expressed sorrow over the casualties but insisted the conflict was justified.

"It's sad that the number is that high. It makes you wonder if there is a different way of approaching things. Nobody likes to hear that number," said senior Airman Preston Reeves, 26, from Birmingham, Alabama.

"Everyone of those people signed up voluntarily and its a shame that that happens, but tragedies do happen in war."

Reeves said it was depressing that the support back home was receding.

"It's a shame you don't get support from your own country, when all they want you to do is leave Iraq and all these people will have died in vain," he told AFP.

The military death toll is one of the key elements of the US 2008 presidential elections for Democrat candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, who are calling for the withdrawal of troops.

The deadliest war for the US military, aside from the two world wars, has been Vietnam, with 58,000 soldiers killed between 1964 and 1973, an average of 26 a day. On average, just over two US soldiers die every day in Iraq.

The icasualties.org statistics reveal that the deadliest year for the military in Iraq was 2007 when it lost 901 troops on the back of a controversial "surge", which saw an extra 30,000 soldiers deployed in a bid to break the stranglehold of violence that has killed tens of thousands of Iraqis.

This figure compares with 486 deaths in 2003, the first year of the conflict, 849 in 2004, 846 in 2005 and 822 in 2006.

Since the start of 2008, 96 soldiers have died.

US military commanders in Iraq acknowledge that putting extra troops on the ground also exposed them to more attacks.

In recent months the military has begun withdrawing the surge troops as violence levels fall across the country, with US and Iraqi officials reporting a 60-percent drop in attacks since June.

Most of the attacks in the past five years have been staged in four of Iraq's 18 provinces.

The western Sunni province of Anbar witnessed most overall casualties, with 1,282 losses since the US-led invasion, according to icasualties.org, followed by Baghdad with 1,255, Salaheddin with 376, and Diyala with 238.

In Anbar and Salaheddin the military faced a strong anti-American insurgency, while in Baghdad and Diyala it has been caught in a three-way fight involving Al-Qaeda, Sunni groups loyal to Saddam and Shiite militias.

But for the past year attacks against US troops have fallen sharply in Anbar after local Sunni Arab groups joined forces with the US military to fight Al-Qaeda in Iraq.

According to the website, November 2004 remains the deadliest month for the US military in Iraq.

It lost 137 troops that month when it launched a massive assault to take back the Anbar city of Fallujah, then a Sunni insurgent bastion.

The US state of California has borne the brunt of American losses, with at least 426 soldiers killed in the conflict.

The US military is also searching for four of its soldiers missing in Iraq.

Two of them were captured in May last year after insurgents ambushed their patrol south of Baghdad in an attack which killed four other soldiers and their interpreter.

Al-Qaeda in Iraq in a later Internet message said it had kidnapped and killed the soldiers. The military says it is still searching for them.

Apart from deaths due to hostile fire, 145 soldiers have died due to "self-inflicted wounds," the website said, indicating a large number of suicides.

The death toll also includes 102 female service members.

http://rawstory.com/news/2008/97_percent_of_US_death_toll_0324.html


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And…. If they do manage to make it home wounded yet alive and then die they are denied their sacrifice and omitted from DOD’s “Wounded Warrior” list.

Joan McDonald’s son isn’t the first and he sure won’t be the last.

Wisconsin mom believes son was victim of Iraqi war; Army unsure

By ROBERT IMRIE
Associated Press

Sunday, March 23, 2008 11:31 PM CDT

WAUSAU — Joan McDonald believes her son was a casualty of the war in Iraq, but the Army says that while he did suffer a severe head wound in a bomb blast, the cause of his death is undetermined, keeping him off the casualty list.

She and her family are demanding more answers in the death of Sgt. James W. McDonald.

“I don’t want it to be an undetermined cause of death,” said Joan McDonald. “That is ridiculous.”

McDonald, 26, was injured in a roadside bomb blast in Iraq last May. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment based at Fort Hood, Texas. After treatment in Germany, McDonald returned to Fort Hood and underwent extensive facial surgery in August.

His body was found in his barracks apartment Nov. 12, a Monday. He was last seen alive the previous Friday.

The Army ruled out suicide and accidental factors, but an autopsy could not determine the exact cause of death, in part because of the decomposition of the body, said Col. Diane Battaglia, a base spokeswoman.

As a result, McDonald’s death is considered noncombat-related, with the caveat that medical experts couldn’t rule out that “traumatic brain injury” may have been a factor, Battaglia said.

Joan McDonald, of Neenah, has no doubts about her son’s death.

“If my son was not at the war, he would not be dead, plain and simple,” she said. “He was a strong healthy boy. ... Don’t tell me it was unrelated to the war. I will never accept that.”

Tom Wilborn, a spokesman for Disabled American Veterans in Washington, said the question of whether McDonald was a war casualty is the first that he was aware of from the Iraq war.

“But it happened a lot during Vietnam,” he said. “There’s a long history where guys would be wounded in the jungle and they might live long enough to come home. And then they would pass away and were not counted as a combat casualty.”

According to an Army study in 2007, 1.4 million people in the U.S. suffer traumatic brain injuries each year. Of those, 50,000 die, 235,000 are hospitalized and 1.1 million are evaluated, treated at a hospital emergency department and released.

A Government Accountability Office study found that of soldiers who required a medical evacuation for battle-related injuries in Iraq or Afghanistan, 30 percent suffered a traumatic brain injury. But it was unknown how many soldiers suffered more mild forms of brain injury.

The family has asked Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., for help. McDonald has a copy of a March 11 letter Feingold sent to Maj. Gen. Galen Jakman at the Pentagon outlining her concerns.

McDonald said her son was a strapping 6-foot-3, 200-pound soldier who served two tours of duty in Iraq and loved the military.

“He was having a problem sleeping since he came back from the war. I don’t think it had anything to do with sleep apnea. I think it had to do with bombs,” she said. He also had seen a doctor because of severe nose bleeds but was told the symptoms were not that unusual, given his August surgery, she said.

Before he died, McDonald had worked on the base at a weapons room and the post office, she said. He had planned to leave the Army in January to pursue a career in firefighting.

She said she recently ran across a T-shirt that said he helped build a memorial wall at Fort Hood to honor its soldiers killed in Iraq.

“I want his name on that wall,” she said. “We don’t know what else to do. I have one brother who is saying ’Does it matter. To you, he is a casualty of war. To everyone that knew him, he is a casualty of war.’ I am like, well, it kinda does matter.”

http://www.journaltimes.com/articles/2008/03/23/local_news/doc47e6d72b5e888206807639.txt




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As oil prices rise, Cheney praises Saudi Arabia


John Byrne
Published: Monday March 24, 2000

Comment comes as gas prices hit record high in US history

On his whirlwind tour of US allies in the Middle East, Vice President Dick Cheney praised oil giant Saudi Arabia for keeping their word on increasing oil production as prices of gasoline in the United States soars.

Cheney told reporters in Jerusalem that the Saudis "kept their word" when they promised in 2005 to boost production.

"From a capacity of 10.5 million barrels a day in 2005, they will hit 12.5 million barrels by 2009," the Wall Street Journal writes. "They are currently at 11.8 million.

"Vice President Dick Cheney suggested there is little more Saudi Arabia can do to increase oil production and relieve price pressures in global markets," the Journal added.

Gas prices reached an all time last week. On average, the price of gas has increased by 7 cents over the past two weeks, to a record-breaking inflation-adjusted $3.26.

Asked about the US military death toll of 4,000, Cheney said it is a "tragedy" that we live in such a world, but "we do live in that kind of world."

Cheney also lashed out at Iran and Syria for "doing everything they can to torpedo the peace process" by supporting militant groups Hezbollah and Hamas.

During talks with Israeli and Palestinian leadership, "I reaffirmed the president's commitment to help the process forward," Cheney said.

US President George W. Bush has said he hoped the two sides could strike a deal before he ends his term in January 2009.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who met twice with Cheney during his visit "reaffirmed his commitment to the president's vision and his willigness to do everything he can to achieve a result in 2008 although he is well aware of the difficulties," Cheney said.

Oil prices slipped nearly $1 a barrel Monday as traders worried that the flagging U.S. economy would cause oil demand to soften. Oil's sharp decline started last week. Crude futures started plunging after the U.S. Federal Reserve-backed sale of Bear Stearns Cos. to JPMorgan Chase & Co. created fears of deeper economic problems. Prices dropped around 10 percent during the shortened trading week from a trading record of $111.80 hit last Monday.

http://rawstory.com/news/2008/As_oil_prices_rise_Cheney_praises_0324.html



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03/23/08 LA Times: At least 60 killed in Iraq

More than 60 Iraqis were killed and dozens injured today in bomb blasts, shootings, rocket and mortar fire, a reminder of the fragility of recent security gains. The bloodshed stretched across central and northern Iraq, rattling both Shiite Muslim...


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OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG


The media can condemn Barack Obama’s preacher the Reverend Wright all they want but God is and will continue to damn America for this.

We deserve damnation and more.

The next article will send chills down your spine in what we are doing to human beings.

Our president is the 21st century madman Hitler and we are the towns people who knew but did nothing to stop the genocide. But George loves his torturing he did veto the law passed by WE THE PEOPLES CONGRESS that made waterboarding illegal.

Dear God…….

"And then a plank in reason broke"...The Crematorium at Abu Ghraib

When you read this - and do read the whole thing (YOU MUST CLICK ON IT!) - remember that this continues to happen in secret prisons, in our name, with our silent permission while we play the election game as though something off in the future can erase the crimes of the present. I will need to channel my beloved Emily to help illustrate how these horrors read to me:

"Its official name was Forward Operating Base Abu Ghraib. Never mind that military doctrine and the Geneva Conventions forbid holding prisoners in a combat zone, and require that they be sped to the rear; you had to make the opposite sort of journey to get to Abu Ghraib. You had to travel along some of the deadliest roads in the country, constantly bombed and frequently ambushed, into the Sunni Triangle. The prison squatted on the desert, a wall of sheer concrete traced with barbed wire, picketed by watchtowers. “Like something from a Mad Max movie,” Sergeant Javal Davis, of the 372nd, said. “Just like that—like, medieval.”

There were more than two and a half miles of wall with twenty-four towers, enclosing two hundred and eighty acres of prison ground. And inside, Davis said, “it’s nothing but rubble, blown-up buildings, dogs running all over the place, rabid dogs, burnt remains. The stench was unbearable: urine, feces, body rot.

”The prisoners—several thousand of them, clad in orange—were crowded behind concertina wire. “The encampment they were in when we saw it at first looked like one of those Hitler things, like a concentration camp, almost,” Davis said."

Yes, a concentration camp is exactly what these "Hitler things" are called, only these come complete with the US flag and words of freedom. But wait my friends, this is about to get a whole lot worse than any American could have imagined of "freedom marching." This freedom, however, is decked out in lead boots, marching:

"Nobody had expected luxury at Saddam Hussein’s old prison, but morale was low to begin with—the M.P.s just wanted to know when they were going home—and there was something about living in cells at Abu Ghraib that never felt right.

“We had some kind of incinerator at the end of our building,” Specialist Megan Ambuhl said. “It was this huge circular thing. We just didn’t know what was incinerated in there. It could have been people, for all we knew—bodies.” Sergeant Davis was not in doubt. “It had bones in it,” he said, and he called it the crematorium. “But hey, you’re at war,” he said. “Suck it up or drive on.”

(And then a plank in reason broke...)

"Of course, the prisoners in the tented camps couldn’t move, and as mortars kept falling on Abu Ghraib, prisoners kept getting killed and maimed. These casualties were promptly recorded in Serious Incident Reports on the military security networks. Then the dead were removed and their remains were sent to a morgue, while the wounded were treated at the prison clinic or, if the damage was severe, evacuated to a hospital before being returned to the camps. The Americans running the prison knew that it was their duty to protect their prisoners, and they knew that at Abu Ghraib that was impossible."

The authorization of torture and the decriminalization of cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment of captives in wartime have been among the defining legacies of the current Administration; and the rules of interrogation that produced the abuses documented on the M.I. block in the fall of 2003 were the direct expression of the hostility toward international law and military doctrine that was found in the White House, the Vice-President’s office, and at the highest levels of the Justice and Defense Departments."

(A Service, like a Drum – Kept beating – beating – till I thought My Mind was going numb –)

"The M.P.s on the M.I. cellblock never learned the prisoners’ names. Officially, they referred to their wards by their five-digit prison numbers, but the numbering system was confusing, and the numbers told you nothing about a person, which made them hard to remember. So the soldiers gave the prisoners nicknames based on their looks and their behavior.

A prisoner who made a shank and tried to stab someone was Shank, and a prisoner who got hold of a razor blade and cut himself was called Slash. A prisoner who kept spraying himself and his cell with water and was always asking for a broom was Mr. Clean. A prisoner who repeatedly soaked his mattress with water was Swamp Thing."

(As all the Heavens were a Bell, And Being, but an Ear, And I, and Silence, some strange Race Wrecked, solitary, here –)

"And you could inflict pain. “You also had stress positions, and you escalated the stress positions,” Davis said. “Hand-cuffs behind their backs, high up, in very uncomfortable positions, or chained down. Then you had the submersion. You put the people in garbage cans, and you’d put ice in it, and water. Or stick them underneath the shower spigot naked. They’d be freezing.” It was a routine, he said: “Open a window while it was, like, forty degrees outside and watch them disappear into themselves . . . before they go into shock.”'

There are 12 pages to this exceptional piece of reporting. What happens when a mind collapses under the strain of helplessness in the face of such desperate cries for help? What happens to your mind? The guilt, shame, and helplessness I feel leave me wordless, tired. I cannot describe it better than my beloved Emily has in describing the march toward madness:

..."And then I heard them lift a Box
And creak across my soul
With those same Boots of Lead, again,
Then Space – began to fill,

As all the Heavens were a Bell,
And Being, but an Ear,
And I, and Silence, some strange Race
Wrecked, solitary, here –

And then a Plank in Reason, broke,
And I dropped down, and down –
And hit a World, at every plunge,
And Finished knowing – then –"

-Emily Dickinson (poem 280)

http://www.atlargely.com/2008/03/and-then-a-plan.html


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I wrote this before I read that last link I gave you. I cannot go on today. I cannot see through my tears to continue today.

At 5 am I turned on the tv and John Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath” had just started and I had a revelation. It dawned on me we are reliving some things that happened after the stock market crash of 1929.

Many people lost their homes and farms, unemployment was wide spread, income sunk and people starved. Life became hard for most working class people, as they struggled to keep their heads above water.

I see the same thing happening today. Some streets have nearly every home with a for sale sign. Yards have cars, boats and travel trailers for sale, even the people with fancy homes look like they are being crushed by what Alan Greenspan has done.

Not know much about The Great Republican Depression I went to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Causes_of_the_Great_Depression and read this:

“The view among theoretical economists at the time of the Great Depression was that economies were self-correcting and that the economy needed to go through a period of liquidation before new growth could take place in an economically healthy way.”

So economies are self correcting and need to go through a liquidation period. The key word here is liquidation. Meaning the little guy has to lose everything that’s then eaten up by the wealthy and the banks.

Today as people lose their homes because Bush sees no reason to help them out of the sub prime mess the banks are getting help. Bush has poured over 2 ½ billion dollars of our tax money into the banks and the American stock market which they will use to buy up the homes we lost.

So there you have it the transfer of what little wealth the middle class had to the very richest people in America many of whom took those tax cuts Bush gave them, who then turned dollars into Euro’s then horded it. They did not create jobs and spread the wealth like Bush said they would.

Once again WE THE PEOPLE have been screwed by the wealthy republicans.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trickle-down_economics

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trickle-down_economics




AND …. Once again they continue:

Wall Street culture not likely to change

Culture of Risk on Wall Street Not Seen Changing Amid Bear Stearns Downfall

JOE BEL BRUNO
AP News

Mar 22, 2008 07:24 EST

Wall Street investment bankers got another lesson about the dangers of risk-taking this past week with the downfall of Bear Stearns Cos. The question now obviously is, how long will it last?

Those bankers, many of whom lived through market debacles like the dot-com bust at the start of this decade, turned out to have very short memories. And so analysts believe the sale of Bear Stearns to JPMorgan Chase & Co. for a stunning $2 per share ultimately won't have that much of an impact on how Wall Street conducts business.

In fact, bankers and traders are under even more pressure to reap big returns because of the ongoing credit crisis, and risk is just part of the game.

"There's an old saying on Wall Street that, for traders and bankers, you'd have to take a normal 30 year career and distill it to 15 years," said Quincy Krosby, chief investment strategist for The Hartford. "This whole episode might change Wall Street for a little while."

Krosby believes that Bear Stearns' near-collapse, which followed the company's investing too heavily in risky mortgage-backed securities, might force some bankers to change their ways in the short term. But it won't be enough to temper the financial industry's relentless pursuit of money.

Indeed, the past decade has seen a number of investing fiascoes that Wall Street doesn't appear to have learned much from. Krosby noted the go-go Internet days — when untested high-tech companies reaped piles of cash in public offerings. The lesson then was, don't put a lot of money into a venture that isn't on fairly solid ground — but mortgages granted to people with poor credit are quite akin to high-tech firms that had never turned a profit. In both cases, investors gleefully looked past the risk.

Now investors are smarting from what happened to Bear Stearns. And traders are somewhat chastened, for now.

Erin Callan, the chief financial officer for Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., said her firm has certainly become more wary about the risks it takes amid the credit crisis. However, the market's gyrations also offer Lehman's army of traders an opportunity to make money.

"We just try to come in, and run the business the best way we can," she said. "But, you can't survive if you take no risks at all. All we can do is plan in this environment, making sure we do all the things to optimize running the firm."

It seems there's little that will change an industry and a lifestyle attached to Wall Street, which is thought of by Americans as more than just the center of free-market capitalism. Its culture attracts men and women with a swashbuckling mentality — smart, aggressive risk takers with the potential to become very rich.

And, their skills in trading and investment banking were proven this past week — even after news of Bear Stearns' buyout.

Chief executives at Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs Group Inc., and Lehman Brothers pointed out that trading desks played a big part in offsetting massive mortgage-backed asset write-downs, which have ticked past $156 billion for global banks since last year.

As the three companies released first-quarter earnings data, Morgan Stanley said equity trading revenue surged 51 percent to $3.3 billion. Revenue at its fixed-income sales and trading group dropped 15 percent to $2.9 billion, but it was still the firm's second-highest performance ever despite having to write down $2.3 billion linked to subprime mortgages and leveraged loans.

And that pleased investors. Morgan Stanley had its largest gain in more than a decade on Wednesday, climbing 18.8 percent to $42.86. Rival investment banks also had their best week since 2001.

But, investors shouldn't get too comfortable — the investment banking industry, and Wall Street in general, still have a long way to go before they can be called healthy. It's not just the credit market problems that are an issue, it's also the struggling U.S. economy and its potential to hurt other countries.

"Until we feel more certain about the worldwide economies, we don't see things picking up dramatically," said Goldman Sachs CFO David Viniar. "We just need to keep plugging away."

Source: AP News

http://www.rawstory.com/news/mochila/Wall_Street_culture_not_likely_to_c_03222008.html


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And so we die younger then the wealthiest too. We die younger because of income inequality.

Gap in Life Expectancy Widens for the Nation

By ROBERT PEAR Published: March 23, 2008

WASHINGTON — New government research has found “large and growing” disparities in life expectancy for richer and poorer Americans, paralleling the growth of income inequality in the last two decades.

Life expectancy for the nation as a whole has increased, the researchers said, but affluent people have experienced greater gains, and this, in turn, has caused a widening gap.

One of the researchers, Gopal K. Singh, a demographer at the Department of Health and Human Services, said “the growing inequalities in life expectancy” mirrored trends in infant mortality and in death from heart disease and certain cancers.

The gaps have been increasing despite efforts by the federal government to reduce them. One of the top goals of “Healthy People 2010,” an official statement of national health objectives issued in 2000, is to “eliminate health disparities among different segments of the population,” including higher- and lower-income groups and people of different racial and ethnic background.

Dr. Singh said last week that federal officials had found “widening socioeconomic inequalities in life expectancy” at birth and at every age level.

He and another researcher, Mohammad Siahpush, a professor at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, developed an index to measure social and economic conditions in every county, using census data on education, income, poverty, housing and other factors. Counties were then classified into 10 groups of equal population size.

In 1980-82, Dr. Singh said, people in the most affluent group could expect to live 2.8 years longer than people in the most deprived group (75.8 versus 73 years). By 1998-2000, the difference in life expectancy had increased to 4.5 years (79.2 versus 74.7 years), and it continues to grow, he said.

After 20 years, the lowest socioeconomic group lagged further behind the most affluent, Dr. Singh said, noting that “life expectancy was higher for the most affluent in 1980 than for the most deprived group in 2000.”

“If you look at the extremes in 2000,” Dr. Singh said, “men in the most deprived counties had 10 years’ shorter life expectancy than women in the most affluent counties (71.5 years versus 81.3 years).” The difference between poor black men and affluent white women was more than 14 years (66.9 years vs. 81.1 years).

The Democratic candidates for president, Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and Barack Obama of Illinois, have championed legislation to reduce such disparities, as have some Republicans, like Senator Thad Cochran of Mississippi.

Peter R. Orszag, director of the Congressional Budget Office, said: “We have heard a lot about growing income inequality. There has been much less attention paid to growing inequality in life expectancy, which is really quite dramatic.”

Life expectancy is the average number of years of life remaining for people who have attained a given age.

While researchers do not agree on an explanation for the widening gap, they have suggested many reasons, including these:

¶Doctors can detect and treat many forms of cancer and heart disease because of advances in medical science and technology. People who are affluent and better educated are more likely to take advantage of these discoveries.

Smoking has declined more rapidly among people with greater education and income.

¶Lower-income people are more likely to live in unsafe neighborhoods, to engage in risky or unhealthy behavior and to eat unhealthy food.

¶Lower-income people are less likely to have health insurance, so they are less likely to receive checkups, screenings, diagnostic tests, prescription drugs and other types of care.

Even among people who have insurance, many studies have documented racial disparities.

In a recent report, the Department of Veterans Affairs found that black patients “tend to receive less aggressive medical care than whites” at its hospitals and clinics, in part because doctors provide them with less information and see them as “less appropriate candidates” for some types of surgery.

Some health economists contend that the disparities between rich and poor inevitably widen as doctors make gains in treating the major causes of death.

Nancy Krieger, a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, rejected that idea. Professor Krieger investigated changes in the rate of premature mortality (dying before the age of 65) and infant death from 1960 to 2002. She found that inequities shrank from 1966 to 1980, but then widened.

“The recent trend of growing disparities in health status is not inevitable,” she said. “From 1966 to 1980, socioeconomic disparities declined in tandem with a decline in mortality rates.”

The creation of Medicaid and Medicare, community health centers, the “war on poverty” and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 all probably contributed to the earlier narrowing of health disparities, Professor Krieger said.

Robert E. Moffit, director of the Center for Health Policy Studies at the conservative Heritage Foundation, said one reason for the growing disparities might be “a very significant gap in health literacy” — what people know about diet, exercise and healthy lifestyles. Middle-class and upper-income people have greater access to the huge amounts of health information on the Internet, Mr. Moffit said.

Thomas P. Miller, a health economist at the American Enterprise Institute, agreed.

“People with more education tend to have a longer time horizon,” Mr. Miller said. “They are more likely to look at the long-term consequences of their health behavior. They are more assertive in seeking out treatments and more likely to adhere to treatment advice from physicians.”

A recent study by Ellen R. Meara, a health economist at Harvard Medical School, found that in the 1980s and 1990s, “virtually all gains in life expectancy occurred among highly educated groups.”

Trends in smoking explain a large part of the widening gap, she said in an article this month in the journal Health Affairs.

Under federal law, officials must publish an annual report tracking health disparities. In the fifth annual report, issued this month, the Bush administration said, “Over all, disparities in quality and access for minority groups and poor populations have not been reduced” since the first report, in 2003.

The rate of new AIDS cases is still 10 times as high among blacks as among whites, it said, and the proportion of black children hospitalized for asthma is almost four times the rate for white children.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported last month that heart attack survivors with higher levels of education and income were much more likely to receive cardiac rehabilitation care, which lowers the risk of future heart problems. Likewise, it said, the odds of receiving tests for colon cancer increase with a person’s education and income.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/23/us/23health.html?_r=2&hp=&adxnnl=1&oref=slogin&pagewanted=pr





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