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Peter King: The Anti-Muslim McCarthy
Representative Peter King (R-NY), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, will hold his third anti-Muslim hearing this morning. Or, as he frames it, his "third Muslim radicalization hearing."
This third hearing titled, "Al Shabaab: Recruitment and Radicalization within the Muslim American Community and the Threat to the Homeland," explicitly targets Somali Americans in this country especially those in the Midwest in Minnesota and Ohio. Rep. King is convinced that they are susceptible to recruitment, radicalization and training from this organization that allegedly has ties to al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).
If this hearing were to be conducted in any other setting, like some place not on Capitol Hill, this would have the potential to be a riveting hearing. The Nation's Jeremy Scahill recently reported on CIA secret prison sites in Somalia. He mentioned Al Shabaab and how they didn't used to be such a force in the region. It sure seems like US support for renditions and torture in the region might be giving Al Shabaab a boost in its ability to recruit and conduct operations. But, don't expect any representatives from the CIA or any task force in the region to testify on how operations might be radicalizing Muslims.
If this hearing wasn't being held by Rep. Peter King, who appears to be this generation's Joseph McCarthy, someone with the FBI might be asked to come before the committee and testify on entrapment schemes that are being engineered in Muslim communities. Somali-born teenager Mohamed Osman Mohamud, accused of trying to detonate a bomb in Portland, Oregon, at a Christmas tree lighting ceremony, was set up by FBI agents in a sting operation to commit the attack. This sort of thing can't possibly help efforts to curb whatever sort of radicalization might be happening in this country
Live Blogging Rep. Peter King's Third `Muslim Radicalization' Hearing
Wednesday July 27, 2011
Not Another Ransom Note from Congressman Boehner
August 2, 2011
It was quite upsetting to find our President blindfolded and tied to a chair at the GOP Tea Party headquarters, but I'm sure the $2.2 trillion ransom we paid to the hostage-takers is worth it.
Well, now that the Obama presidency is over, we can move on to more serious matters.
Look out your window. What you'll see is that, while the debt-ceiling hostage crisis played out on cable TV, the planet has been burning down.
You haven't heard a lot from me this yearbecause the normally-noisy Palast investigations team has chosen to spend these months quietly digging into unreported cases of economic and environmental arson. It will all hit the presses and TV when we launch a new book and films later this year.
But the investigations continue at full tilt:
#1. Too Far Beyond Petroleum. Long, long ago (April 2010), BP's Deepwater Horizon exploded, taking 11 lives and a million livelihoods. We haven't forgotten: Our crew has gone from the Arctic Circle to the byzantine streets of Baku to the Amazon rainforest and, finally, to the Gulf of Mexico to get the story on BP you won't get on CNN.
In the course of hunting down clues to a massive BP bribery scheme, we found a CIA bagman who paid $105 million to petro-dictators for BP's Big Oil US brethren. That's just one episode from our film of the investigation to be released by BBC Worldwide.
#2. We are in the midst of a full-blown investigation of the nuclear industry which, despite Fukushima, is rising from the crypt, resurrected by billions of dollars in government guarantees. You think the Fukushima disaster was just a Japanese affair? We have the stone-cold evidence that earthquake testing at US plants has been faked. There's more. We have four nervous whistleblowers ready to tell their horror stories.
#3. Finance Vultures. Last year, our exposure of a creepy outfit called 'FH International' led to the British Parliament banning debt vultures from using their courts and the FBI to stick G-men on the case. Our reports saved the nation of Liberia from bankruptcybut other predators are flying in through loopholes in the laws, attacking the poorest of the poor.
So we're back on the Vulture hunt... this time we'll head to the Congo, then to deepest, darkest New York. Vulture Number One is also, not coincidentally, the Number One donor to the Republican Party.
#4. Fried Greece. The Palast team has uncovered hundreds of confidential documents from inside the World Bank and IMF. We know the arsonists who have lit the fires burning Greece. My years of training as a forensic economist are getting a good test in working out the inside story. Remember: Greece today, Los Angeles tomorrow.
#5. The Theft of 2012. For twelve years, the Palast team (with BBC Newsnight and our partners at The Guardian and Rolling Stone) have led in investigating and exposing vote suppression, vote manipulation and downright elections theft. Our team uncovered voter "caging" (and gave it its name) only days after Karl Rove's team began implementing this sick ballot-bending game. But new games are afoot.
Katherine Harris calls me "twisted and maniacal." Well, Kate, I'm ready to twist again to uncover the latest twisted tricks which will be used to attempt another heist of the White House.
That's an awful lot on our plate for this mighty little team of ours.
If you have information, suggestions or documents marked confidential on these topics, we want it all. Contact@....
And please spread the word: Ask five of your friends to subscribe to our website and join us on Facebook and Twitter. That's where we'll be releasing the news of our investigations and reports.
P.S. This is not a pitch for donations but, to be honest, the bills are past due. Think of it this way: the planet's on fire and only the truth will put out the flames. We're holding the hose, so please turn on the water. (My Lord, that's a second-rate metaphor, but you get the idea. Your donation to our foundation is tax deductible.)
P.P.S. If you want to hear the latest on Jo Rowling, read my daughter's note about JK Rowling at Who killed "Stieg" Larsson?
Forensic economist and journalist Greg Palast is the author of the New York Times bestsellers, Armed Madhouse and The Best Democracy Money Can Buy.
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There are 23 million Americans who can't find full-time work, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
There are 50 million Americans who can't see a doctor when they are sick, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
There are more than 15 million American families who owe more on their mortgage than their homes are worth, according to Zillow. That's almost a third of all the families who own homes.
If I were in Congress right now, these are the problems that I would be trying to solve.
But instead, we see a bizarre preoccupation no, really, an obsession with cutting federal benefits. Some kind of weird contest to see who can inflict the most pain on the American people. With the proponent of each new sadistic plan announcing proudly, "mine is bigger than yours."
I'll be honest the federal deficit for the year 2021 is not something that I spend a lot of time thinking about, these days. But let's assume arguendo, as they used to say back in Ancient Rome that for some reason, there were some compelling, emergency need to work out how to cut $2 trillion from projected federal budget deficits over the next ten years.
I have an idea about how to do that. It's a very simple idea. In fact, I can sum it up in one word, with five letters:
Now, I know that peace may not be as popular as it used to be. The polling is very iffy. The focus groups are mixed. But let's look at the facts.
Last year, we spent $154 billion in appropriated funds on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. That is in addition to the $549 billion in appropriated funds for the Pentagon you know, just to keep the lights on. And the non-appropriated cost of war was even higher especially when you include the cost of care for the 15% of all the American troops in Iraq who come home with permanent brain abnormalities. According to Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz, the war in Iraq alone is costing us $4 trillion and counting. That's more than $13,000 for every one of us, and roughly 8% of our entire net worth as a nation.
The cost of war is enormous. So enormous that, as I pointed out in H.R. 5353, The War is Making You Poor Act, if we simply funded that cost through the Pentagon's own budget, rather than through supplemental appropriations, we could eliminate taxes on everyone's first $35,000 of income ($70,000 for married couples), and still reduce the deficit by more than $10 billion a year.
And that was last year. Since then, the number of wars has gone up by 50%.
This is what Pat Buchanan of all people, Pat Buchanan said two weeks ago:
"The United States is strategically over-extended, worldwide. What are we doing borrowing money from Japan to defend Japan. Borrow money from Europe to defend Europe. Borrow money from the Persian Gulf to defend the Persian Gulf. This country is over-extended. It is an empire and the empire is coming down."
You say that you want to save $2 trillion in ten years? It's simple: end the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, and end whatever it is that they are calling it now in Libya. I'd rather do that than throw Granny from the train.
But that's just me.
Guns or butter. It's not a new choice.
I prefer butter.
What about you?
P.S. Please sign our petition at www.No-Cuts.com. And pass it on to every friend you have. It's important -- let's be heard.
CNN's Piers Morgan 'told interviewer stories were published based on phone tapping'
Piers Morgan, the CNN broadcaster, has said that newspaper articles based on the findings of people paid to tap phones and rake through bins were published during his time as a tabloid newspaper editor, it can be disclosed.
Jon Swaine, New York
27 Jul 2011
Mr Morgan, a former News of the World and Daily Mirror editor who is now a high-profile television presenter in the US, has spent the past week categorically denying ever printing material derived from phone hacking.
He spoke out after being accused by a Conservative MP and political bloggers of being involved in the phone hacking scandal that has engulfed Rupert Murdoch's media empire, for which he used to work.
"For the record, in my time at the News of the World and the Mirror, I have never hacked a phone, told anyone to hack a phone, or published any stories based on the hacking of a phone," he said last week on CNN, where he now hosts a talk-show.
But it has emerged that Mr Morgan gave a notably different response when asked during an interview with the BBC about his potential involvement in covert "gutter" journalistic practices during his time as a tabloid editor between 1994 and 2004.
"What about this nice middle-class boy, who would have to be dealing with, I mean essentially people who rake through bins for a living, people who tap people's phones, people who take secret photographs, who do all that nasty down-in-the-gutter stuff," he was asked on BBC's Desert Island Discs in June 2009. "How did you feel about that?"
Mr Morgan replied: "To be honest, let's put that in perspective as well. Not a lot of that went on. A lot of it was done by third parties rather than the staff themselves. That's not to defend it, because obviously you were running the results of their work.
"I'm quite happy to be parked in the corner of tabloid beast and to have to sit here defending all these things I used to get up to, and I make no pretence about the stuff we used to do," he told the programme's host, Kirsty Young.
"I simply say the net of people doing it was very wide, and certainly encompassed the high and low end of the supposed newspaper market."
The discovery of Mr Morgan's comment, first hinted at by the Guido Fawkes political blog, came after Trinity Mirror, the parent company of The Daily Mirror, announced it had opened an investigation into editorial standards at its newspapers in light of the phone hacking scandal.
Clive Goodman, a reporter for The News of the World, and Glenn Mulcaire, a private investigator employed by the newspaper, were jailed in 2007 for illegally hacking mobile phone voicemails. News International, the paper's parent company, initially said the scandal was limited to a "rogue reporter" but in recent weeks conceded it was in fact widespread.
The News of the World was shut down and several more arrests have been made, including Andy Coulson, a former News of the World editor hired by David Cameron to be the chief spokesman at 10 Downing Street and Rebekah Brooks, Mr Murdoch's former British newspaper chief. But News International has made clear it believes hacking was widespread among other tabloids.
At the weekend James Hipwell, a Daily Mirror financial columnist between 1998 and 2000, said that illegal phone hacking was "endemic" during Mr Morgan's editorship. "You know what people around you are doing," he said.
Last week Mr Morgan was accused in a parliamentary committee by Louise Mensch, the Tory MP for Corby, of publishing an article in 2002 about an affair between Sven Goran Eriksson, the England football coach, and Ulrika Jonsson, the television presenter, which he knew had been obtained via phone hacking. He denied this and demanded an apology during a nine-minute row on live television.
Sources close to Mr Morgan said that he was referring to the tabloid industry in general. In a statement, he said: "I have never hacked a phone, told anyone to hack a phone, nor to my knowledge published any story obtained from the hacking of a phone. I am not aware, and have never seen evidence to suggest otherwise, that any Mirror story published during my tenure was obtained from phone hacking."
Celente Solution: The 21st Century 'Global Game Changer'
KINGSTON, NY, 2 August 2011- After reading the newly-released SummerTrends Journal, no responsible journalist will be able, in good conscience, to paint Gerald Celente again as a purveyor of "Pessimism Porn," a "gloom and doomer," or an "alarmist."
Celente will continue to make clear that "Happy Days" will not soon be here again. He will continue to explain that, budget deal notwithstanding, no future Fed quick fixes or DC schemes can reverse the "Greatest Depression"-bound economy. No bipartisan miracle will eliminate the budget or trade deficit, restore the dollar to its former glory, or bring back jobs lost to China, India, Mexico, etc.
Europe's financial crisis is equally critical. And the EU, IMF and ECB rescue policies will prove as ineffective as America's. Those warnings are not "alarmism" or "pessimism" they are just a matter of drawing logical conclusions from hard facts and incontrovertible data.
Nevertheless, even with a major economic collapse ahead of us, Celente is convinced there is a basis for expecting positive global outcomes in the long-term. The potential "Game Changer" lies in a widespread recognition that the Industrial Revolution mindset and policies will not, and cannot, work in a 21st century world.
"It's not just Model T economics that's outmoded, so are our approaches to education, healthcare, politics and, yes, the military," says Celente. "The old adage 'Generals fight the last war' is as valid as ever. While the technology may have changed, the mindset hasn't. The conviction that brute force can prevail in an occupied country defended by guerilla combatants has proven a multi-trillion dollar, decade-long failure. Yet even as old wars drag on with no victory in sight, new wars are started such as 'Operation Odyssey Dawn' launched against Libya five months ago, a 'kinetic military action' that was supposed to end in 'day's, not weeks.' "
Celente Solution: Direct Democracy "The government/political 'system' in place in America, and throughout much of the world, is obsolete and irreparable. The inept generals masterminding lost-cause wars are mirrored by warring senators and representatives in Congress. Anyone who watched weeks of the Washington Wrestling Federation's (WWF) Reality Show, 'Beltway Battle Over the Budget,' and still trusts the judgment of politicians, is either delusional or ideologically trapped," says Celente.
Yet, it is an undeniable fact that 535 elected members of Congress, despite their incompetence, pass laws that control the lives of over 300,000,000 citizens. "The problem isn't just in the numbers," says Celente, "it's that the 'Gang of 535' represents lobbyists and campaign contributors, not the constituents they claim to represent. 'Representative Democracy' is a cruel sham; it's neither 'representative' nor 'democratic,' and people are getting wise to it. Polls show that only 17 percent of likely US voters say the country is heading in the right direction, while 46 percent believe most members of Congress are corrupt.
"In those beliefs rest the possibility for change, real change, not Obama-change. As Victor Hugo put it, 'There is one thing stronger than all the armies in the world, and that is an idea whose time has come.' I believe that 'idea' is Direct Democracy, and I believe that the time has come for the entire world to wrest power from the hands of ruling political mobs and put it into the hands of the public. 'Let the people vote!' "
Can Direct Democracy really work? It does in Switzerland! But is it a viable, realistic substitute for the many representative democracies, which, in practice, are not democratic at all? Or would it lead to mob rule?
Can Direct Democracy really be "The Global Game Changer"? For the inside scoop on the trend that is already generating a wave of international interest and for insights on many other mega-trends featured in the SummerTrends Journal, you'll want to interview Gerald Celente.
To schedule an interview with Gerald Celente, Trends Journal publisher, please contact: Zeke West, Media Relations, zwest@...
845 331.3500 ext. 1
©MMX The Trends Research Institute®
B of A Signs HUD Pact Over Mortgage Abuse
Kate Berry and Jeff Horwitz
AUG 4, 2011
The Department of Housing and Urban Development has reached a settlement with Bank of America that releases the company from liability for failing to adequately provide alternatives to foreclosure on 57,000 delinquent government-insured mortgages.
The agreement, a draft of which was obtained by American Banker, was previously undisclosed. It has been forged on a separate but parallel track from continuing settlement talks between Bank of America, state attorneys general and other regulators over alleged mortgage origination and servicing failures.
B of A's pact with HUD requires it to waive a minimum of $10 million in unpaid mortgage payments and vet each of the 57,000 delinquent borrowers for a possible loan modification, short sale or other foreclosure alternative.
"Our total costs for the program will be multiples of that" $10 million minimum, B of A spokesman Dan Frahm said. The deal calls for measures to "ensure these customers have every opportunity to stay in their homes," he added.
After such outreach, the settlement paves the way for B of A to foreclose on homes that borrowers could not afford even after a mortgage modification and those that have been left vacant by owners.
In forging the agreement, HUD decided to forgo steep monetary damages or admissions of error from the bank.
Instead, it pushed for the lender to implement steps that in most cases it was supposed to have already taken under the terms of its FHA-guaranteed loans, with the apparent aim of minimizing foreclosures and related insurance claims.
"We took the borrowers into account first," said HUD general counsel Helen Kanovsky. "We think that that's really the best thing for the FHA [insurance] fund as well."
The agreement is HUD's first involving settlement of claims in which a servicer failed to offer loss mitigation to borrowers. It does not, however, prevent HUD from seeking damages from B of A for unrelated origination and servicing failures.
"We fought for as narrow a [legal] release as possible and as much money as possible," Kanovsky said.
Under HUD's standard terms, borrowers must be less than 12 months delinquent to qualify for loan modifications. With the B of A settlement, the minimum of $10 million the bank agreed to pay will go to covering past-due arrearages and giving borrowers who are more than a year behind the possibility of qualifying for foreclosure alternatives.
The agreement was signed July 11 by B of A senior vice president Robert Gaither, who directed queries to a company spokesman.
All of the 57,000 borrowers covered by the agreement are 12 to 24 months delinquent. They account for only 4% of the total 1.5 million FHA loans that B of A services but a substantial portion of the company's seriously delinquent loans. B of A holds $19.8 billion in FHA-insured loans that are 90 days or more delinquent, and another $3.1 billion in FHA loans 31 to 89 days delinquent, the bank said in its second-quarter earnings release.
Under its terms with HUD, B of A will have to pay an independent monitor to review its modification work and report to HUD. It is also obligated to seek borrowers through database searches, letters, phone queries and visits to properties. Borrowers who fail to qualify for loan modifications, will receive from B of A $4,000 for a short sale and $7,500 for a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure.
The deal reflects the high levels of financial uncertainty surrounding such negotiations. In May, B of A agreed to pay $20 million, or double the minimum for the latest settlement, for improperly foreclosing on a relatively few 160 homes of military service members.
The settlement is "not a lot of money for the potential losses that the federal government may have to make good on," said Diane Thompson, an attorney for the National Consumer Law Center.
The minimum $10 million payment of borrowers' arrearages is unlikely to defray the FHA's losses on foreclosures, she said.
But if Bank of America is "able to identify the loans, and if people are still in the homes, and if they waive payments over past 12 months, then that's more valuable than a big fine for Bank of America," Thompson said. "But there are a lot of ifs there."
The largest banks hold billions of dollars of delinquent FHA loans on their balance sheets for which they have not yet filed claims. This may be because of concerns that they may have violated stringent HUD servicer requirements and could be held liable for treble damages related to false claims. One sticking point in settling such claims is that the FHA requires all servicers to have employees conduct face-to-face interviews with FHA borrowers once they become 60 days delinquent, a procedure most servicers either did not undertake or cannot document.
As part of the deal HUD has also agreed to pay any mortgage insurance claims and waive any pending administrative actions against B of A, its officers, directors or employees "in connection with servicing or loss mitigation deficiencies." The only exclusion is for allegations involving improper transfers of titles.
B of A also has agreed not to claim expenses on any FHA insurance claims for taxes, liens or property preservation incurred from November 2010 through July 2011.