Daily Archives: December 19, 2008

Secrecy surrounds those receiving benefits of Federal Reserve’s trillions

The Age | Dec 19, 2008

By David Hirst

The Fed is refusing to speak, raising fears that things could end in the deepest of depressions.

OF THE many elephants cluttering the denial room of extremely high finance in the US, the daddy of them all, the veritable woolly mammoth, remains undisturbed.

The Federal Reserve has formally refused a request by Bloomberg News that would have poked the sleeping giant. It didn’t raise a tusk.

Bloomberg has taken on the task abrogated by the rest of the US financial media to keep the bastards — if not honest — aware they are being watched.

Some discerning followers of the US market may have noted these amazing developments. Principally, it means that US taxpayers — and potentially taxpayers the world over — are subject to taxation without representation, for Congress neither sees, hears, speaks nor countenances evil, “we the people” of the world are not to be allowed to know where the money is going. And we are talking trillions here.

Bloomberg filed suit on November 7 under the US Freedom of Information Act, requesting details about the terms of 11 Fed lending programs created during the deepest financial crisis since the Great Depression.

The Fed responded on December 8, saying it is allowed to withhold internal memos as well as information about trade secrets and commercial information.

“If they told us what they held, we would know the potential losses that the Government may take and that’s what they don’t want us to know,” said Carlos Mendez, a senior managing director at New York-based ICP Capital.

Bloomberg said: “Total Fed lending exceeded $US2 trillion ($A2.9 billion) for the first time on November 6. It rose by 138 per cent, or $US1.23 trillion, in the 12 weeks since September 14, when central bank governors relaxed collateral standards to accept securities that weren’t rated AAA.” This, of course, is just a fraction of the amount “committed” to these entities, financial or otherwise.

Congress is demanding, not very loudly, more transparency about the Fed and Treasury bail-out, with House Financial Services Committee member David Scott saying Americans had been bamboozled.

Bloomberg said: “In response to Bloomberg’s request, the Fed said the US is facing ‘an unprecedented crisis’ in which ‘loss in confidence in and between financial institutions can occur with lightning speed and devastating effects’.

“The Fed supplied copies of three emails in response to a request that it disclose the identities of those supplying data on collateral as well as their contracts.”

While the senders and recipients of the messages were revealed, the contents were erased, except for two phrases identifying a vendor as IDC — Interactive Data — Auction Rate Security Advisory May 1, 2008.

Bloomberg, having one single lead, followed it up but Brian Willinsky, a spokesman for Bedford, Massachusetts-based IDC, a seller of fixed-income securities information, declined to comment.

The Fed, in a truly Orwellian (and I don’t throw that word around) moment said: “Notwithstanding calls for enhanced transparency, the board must protect against the substantial, multiple harms that might result from disclosure.” That was from the pen of Jennifer Johnson, the secretary for the Fed’s board of governors, in a letter emailed to Bloomberg News. She continued: “In its considered judgement and in view of current circumstances, it would be a dangerous step to release this otherwise confidential information.”

The executive director of The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, Lucy Dalglish, said: “There has to be something they can tell the public because we have a right to know what they are doing.

Full Story

Hu Jintao hails “Chinese Marxism”

APTOPIX China 30 Years Reforms

Delegates stand for a national anthem as they celebrate the 30th anniversary of China’s reform held at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, Thursday, Dec. 18, 2008. Thirty years ago this month, China’s communist leaders launched an economic revolution, opening the door to free market reforms and foreign trade though not to political change. The party marked the anniversary Thursday with a ceremony in the Great Hall of the People, opening with a speech from Hu Jintao, general secretary of the party and China’s president. AP Photo by Andy Wong

Hu Jintao hails 30 years of reform, commits to “Chinese Marxism”

Asia-Pacific News | Dec 18, 2008

Beijing – Chinese President Hu Jintao on Thursday hailed 30 years of economic reform and said the ruling Communist Party would continue to develop ‘Chinese Marxism.’

‘We will definitely hold high the great banner of socialism with Chinese characteristics, and continue to promote the sinification of Marxism,’ Hu said in a speech to mark the 30th anniversary of the start of economic reform.

Hu said the party would push forward its policies for reforming and opening the economy, while maintaining stability and promoting ‘contemporary Chinese Marxism.’

‘To develop socialism with Chinese characteristics is a long-term historical task which demands persistent struggle,’ he said in a televised speech in front of more than 6,000 leading party members at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

‘We should insist on focussing on the practical problems in reform, opening up and modernization,’ Hu said.

Hu, who also leads the Communist Party, said continuing economic, political and legal reforms are crucial to China’s future.

‘People’s democracy is the lifeline of socialism, and the people’s democratic rights to be masters of their own affairs are the essence and lie at the core of China’s democratic politics.’

‘Without democracy, there would be no socialist modernization,’ he said.

His speech echoed another major policy address in November 2007 at a five-yearly party congress, when state media praised Hu for using the word democracy more than 60 times.

In the earlier speech, Hu promised to expand democracy and transparency within the party, but he made no mention of any wider democratic reform.

He said China’s modernization drive would need ‘unremitting efforts by several, a dozen or even dozens of generations’, meaning the party would not consider major democratic reform over the same period.

Former party leaders agreed to launch economic reforms at a meeting on December 18, 1978, two years after the death of Mao Zedong, who led the party to power in 1949.

The reforms followed the brutal communist fundamentalism of Mao’s 1966-1976 Cultural Revolution, which the party now officially calls the ’10 years of national chaos.’

Veteran revolutionary Deng Xiaoping, who was twice purged from government during the Cultural Revolution, began transforming China’s closed, planned economy.

Since Deng first coined the term ‘socialist modernization’ in 1979, China has managed three decades of rapid economic growth in its major cities and coastal areas, without allowing the development of a political opposition.

On Thursday, Hu paid tribute to the ideological guidance of Mao, Deng and the party’s last leader, Jiang Zemin.

‘Reform and opening up are the fundamental causes of all the achievements and progress we have made,’ Hu said.

As the mercury falls, so do record lows

Forks Herald | Dec 16, 2008

By James Johnson Grand

The bitter cold air that generally follows a blizzard is leaving its marks on the record books.

Overnight low temperatures Monday set records in Jamestown and Williston, N.D., and St. Cloud, Minn.

The National Weather Service says the temperature in Williston dropped to 25 below — 1 degree colder than the 1951 record.

A line of cars proceed slowly east on the DeMers Ave. bridge while a Grand Forks police officer assists a motorist after an accident on the bridge. Herald photo by Eric Hylden
Jamestown dropped to 22 below, also 1 degree colder than the 1983 record.

St. Cloud set a record low of 24 below. The previous record was 21 below, set in 1963.

Grand Forks dropped to 19 below Tuesday morning, a few degrees higher than the 1953 record of 22 below.

National Weather Service data shows that in 1975, the Grand Forks airport recorded record lows two days apart: 21 below Dec. 15 and 27 below Dec. 17.

Tom Grafenauer at the weather service said we “should reach the magic zero mark” for our high temperature today, and the long-term outlook for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day holds more of the same.

“Storm systems are hard to predict,” Grafenauer said, “but temperature-wise, what you see is what you get: below normal highs and lows.”

Grafenauer said the average high in Grand Forks this time of year is 20 degrees, and the average low is 3 degrees.

Forecast high temperatures will inch above zero beginning Thursday.

IMF warns of economic riots, police ready for civil unrest

Paulson discussed worst-case scenario at bailout meeting – declare martial law

WorldNetDaily | Dec 18, 2008

By Chelsea Schilling

Pentagon resources and U.S. troops may be used if needed to quell protests and bank runs during an economic crisis, the U.S. Army War College’s Strategic Institute reported.

“Widespread civil violence inside the United States would force the defense establishment to reorient priorities in extremis to defend basic domestic order and human security,” the War College study states.

Incidents of economic collapse, terrorism and disruption of legal order could require deployment of forces within the U.S., it said.

A “strategic shock” could require the nation to use “military force against hostile groups inside the United States.”

International Monetary Fund Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn has warned that advanced nations could face civil unrest during distressful economic times

“[S]ocial unrest may happen in many countries – including advanced economies” if the economic crises are not properly dealt with, Strauss-Kahn said.

“He added that violent protests could break out in countries worldwide if the financial system was not restructured to benefit everyone rather than a small elite,” London’s Guardian reported.

In a recession where consumer spending is plummeting, foreclosures are rampant, workers are losing jobs, credit
is tight and markets are strained, some are warning about a worst-case scenario.

Last month, trends forecaster Gerald Celente told Fox News that America will morph into the first “undeveloped” nation of the world by 2012. He said there will be a tax revolution marked by “food riots, squatter rebellion, tax revolts and job marches.” He also said by 2012, the holidays will be more about getting food rather than gifts.

According to the Phoenix Business Journal, U.S. Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., and U.S. Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Calif., said Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson considered the prospect of civil unrest while he pushed for September’s Wall Street bailout – even suggesting martial law might be essential.

Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, Barack Obama’s pick for secretary of Homeland Security, would not provide comment to the Business Journal on the possibility of civil unrest during economic crisis. But state and local police indicated that they have trained for such an event.

“The Phoenix Police Department is not expecting any civil unrest at this time, but we always train to prepare for any civil unrest issue. We have a Tactical Response Unit that trains continually and has deployed on many occasions for any potential civil unrest issue,” Phoenix Police spokesman Andy Hill said.

“We have well established plans in place for such civil unrest,” Scottsdale Police spokesman Mark Clark told the Business Journal.

Maricopa County Sheriff Deputy Chief Dave Trombi concurred: “We’re prepared.”

Nick Dranias, director of constitutional government at the libertarian Goldwater Institute, told the Phoenix Business Journal declaration of martial law would allow U.S. armed forces to control civilian authorities.

While he said the Posse Comitatus Act limits the military’s role in domestic law enforcement, he referenced a 1994 U.S. Defense Department Directive (DODD 3025) that gives military commanders authority during domestic emergencies to “save lives, prevent suffering or mitigate great property damage,” according to the report.

“I don’t think it’s likely,” he said. “But it’s not impossible.”

Global cooling is here

According to the National Climatic Data Center, 2008 will be America’s coldest year since 1997.

Seattle Post-Intelligencer | Dec 18, 2008

By DEROY MURDOCK

Winter officially arrives with Sunday’s solstice. But for many Americans, autumn 2008’s final days already feel like deepest, coldest January.

New Englanders still lack electricity after a Dec. 11 ice storm snapped power lines. Up to eight inches of snow struck New Orleans and southern Louisiana that day and didn’t melt for 48 hours in some neighborhoods.

In southern California Wednesday, a half-inch of snow brightened Malibu’s hills while a half-foot barricaded highways and marooned commuters in desert towns east of Los Angeles. Three inches of the white stuff shuttered Las Vegas’ McCarren Airport that day and dusted the Strip’s hotels and casinos.

What are the odds of that?

Actually, the odds are rising that snow, ice, and cold will grow increasingly common. As serious scientists repeatedly explain, global cooling is here. It is chilling temperatures and so-called “global-warming.”

According to the National Climatic Data Center, 2008 will be America’s coldest year since 1997, thanks to La Niña and precipitation in the central and eastern states. Solar quietude also may underlie global cooling. This year’s sunspots and solar radiation approach the minimum in the Sun’s cycle, corresponding with lower Earth temperatures. This echoes Harvard-Smithsonian astrophysicist Dr. Sallie Baliunas’ belief that solar variability, much more than CO2, sways global temperatures.

Meanwhile, the National Weather Service reports that last summer was Anchorage’s third coldest on record. “Not since 1980 has there been a summer less reflective of global warming,” Craig Medred wrote in the Anchorage Daily News. Consequently, Alaska’s glaciers are thickening in the middle. “It’s been a long time on most glaciers where they’ve actually had positive mass balance,” U.S. Geological Survey glaciologist Bruce Molnia told Medred Oct. 13. Similarly, the National Snow and Ice Data Center found that Arctic sea ice expanded 13.2 percent this year, or a Texas-sized 270,000 square miles.

Across the equator, Brazil endured an especially cold September. Snow graced its southern provinces that month.

“Global Warming is over, and Global Warming Theory has failed. There is no evidence that CO2 drives world temperatures or any consequent climate change,” Imperial College London astrophysicist and long-range forecaster Piers Corbyn wrote British Members of Parliament on Oct. 28. “According to official data in every year since 1998, world temperatures have been colder than that year, yet CO2 has been rising rapidly.” That evening, as the House of Commons debated legislation on so-called “global-warming,” October snow fell in London for the first time since 1922.

These observations parallel those of five German researchers led by Professor Noel Keenlyside of the Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences. “Our results suggest that global surface temperature may not increase over the next decade,” they concluded in last May’s “Nature,” “as natural climate variations in the North Atlantic and tropical Pacific temporarily offset the projected anthropogenic (man-made) warming.”

This “lull” should doom the 0.54 degree Fahrenheit average global temperature rise predicted by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the Vatican of so-called “global warming.” Incidentally, the IPCC’s computer models factor in neither El Niño nor the Gulf Stream. Excluding such major climate variables would be like ESPN ignoring baseball and basketball.

So, is this all just propaganda concocted by Chevron-funded, right-wing, flat-Earthers? Ask Dr. Martin Hertzberg, a physical chemist and retired Navy meteorologist.

“As a scientist and lifelong liberal Democrat, I find the constant regurgitation of the anecdotal, fear mongering clap-trap about human-caused global warming to be a disservice to science,” Hertzberg wrote in Sept. 26’s USA Today. “From the El Niño year of 1998 until Jan., 2007, the average temperature of the Earth’s atmosphere near its surface decreased some 0.25 C (0.45 F). From Jan., 2007 until the spring of 2008, it dropped a whopping 0.75 C (1.35 F).”

As global cooling becomes more widely recognized, Americans from Maine to Malibu should feel comfortable dreaming of a white Christmas.

Deroy Murdock is a columnist with Scripps Howard News Service and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University. E-mail him at deroy.Murdock@gmail.com