Breaking the Banks

It's Time to Break up the Big Banks
by Mike Whitney
Timothy Geithner is putting the finishing touches on a plan that will dump $1 trillion of toxic assets onto the US taxpayer. The plan, which goes by the opaque moniker the "Public-Private Investment Fund" (PPIF), is designed to provide lavish incentives to hedge funds and private equity firms to purchase bad assets from failing banks.
It is a sweetheart deal that provides government financing and guarantees for illiquid mortgage-backed junk for which there is currently no active market. What's got Geithner worried, is the fear that the public will see through this latest boondoggle and set off a political firestorm. If that happens, the markets will go into a swan-dive and Geithner's career at Treasury will come to an abrupt end.

Details of the plan remain sketchy, but the PPIF will work in concert with the Fed's new lending facility, the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility, or TALF, which will start operating in March and will provide up to $1 trillion of financing for buyers of new securities backed by credit card, auto and small-business loans. In contrast, Geithner's financial rescue "partnership" will focus on cleaning up banks balance sheets by purging mortgage-backed securities. (MBS)
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Our Sacred Rivers: British Columbians Fight to Save Our Rivers

Save British Columbia's Rivers
by Save Our Rivers
Save Our Rivers Society is pleased to present a new three-minute video by filmmaker Damien Gillis, Watershed Election - click here to view video  narrated by Official Spokesperson Rafe Mair, which summarizes for all British Columbians the critical battle now raging over our rivers and historic public power system.
The video, entitled "BC's Watershed Election," is designed to introduce to a broader audience, across BC's multi-cultural communities, the until-recently secretive push to hand over BC's most valuable assets - our rivers and energy security - to some of the world's biggest corporations.  The video will soon be available with subtitles in multiple languages on 
It features high-definition footage shot all around the province over the past year by filmmaker Gillis - to show fellow British Columbians our spectacular wild places at risk from this program, and those already being decimated by the construction of large, environmentally destructive private river power projects.
Save Our Rivers Society Declares May 12, 2009 "BC's Watershed Election" - Watch Video Below!
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Israel Poised to Finish Palestinian Ouster

Israel in 1948
In their first test of strength with the ‘natives’ in 1948, the Zionists had gained control of nearly four-fifths of Palestine, expelled most of the Palestinians from these territories, and repulsed the combined forces of five Arab proto-states. Yet, the Zionists were not about to rest on their laurels: their interests did not lie in making peace with the Arabs. The events of 1948 had demonstrated what they could achieve; with minor losses of their own, they had obliterated Palestinian society and handily beaten back the Arabs.

This was a historic moment, a messianic moment, that would be seen by many as the fulfillment of ancient prophecies. This was no time to seek peace by making amends to a weak, defeated enemy. Their stunning military victory would only encourage the Zionists to aim for their maximalist goals, which now appeared attainable. The Zionists would augment their numbers, expand their territory, and strive to become the dominant power in the Middle East.
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Obama Channels Bush on Afghanistan

The Slow Pullout Method
by Norman Solomon
Hours after President Obama’s speech to a joint session of Congress, the New York Times printed the news that he plans to gradually withdraw “American combat forces” from Iraq during the next 18 months. The newspaper reported that the advantages of the pullout will include “relieving the strain on the armed forces and freeing up resources for Afghanistan.”

The president’s speech had little to say about the plans for escalation, but the few words will come back to haunt:
“With our friends and allies, we will forge a new and comprehensive strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan to defeat Al Qaida and combat extremism, because I will not allow terrorists to plot against the American people from safe havens halfway around the world. We will not allow it.”
Obama didn’t mention the additional number of U.S. troops -- 17,000 -- that he has just ordered to Afghanistan. But his pledge that he “will not allow terrorists to plot against the American people” and his ringing declaration, “We will not allow it,” came just before this statement: “As we meet here tonight, our men and women in uniform stand watch abroad and more are readying to deploy.”
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Mexican Indigenous Leaders Disappeared

Indigenous Leaders Disappeared
by Jane Jones
Dear friends and allies; on behalf of the team that constitutes Tlachinollan, I am writing to ask for your help with an Urgent Action for RAUL LUCAS LUCIA and MANUEL PONCE ROSAS, two Indigenous human rights defenders and leaders of the Organization for the Future of the Mixteco People

(OFPM) - which works in coordination with the Organization of the Me Phaa Indigenous People (OPIM) - who have been disappeared since February 13th.
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America's Torture Legacy

Propelling Prisoners' Heads into Concrete Walls
by David Swanson
Propelling prisoners' heads into concrete walls by means of towels wrapped around their necks, savage beatings with fists and rifles that left prisoners crippled, hanging prisoners by the arms with their arms strung up behind them, depriving prisoners of sleep for weeks on end, which has been thought the worst torture possible for 500 years, causing prisoners to freeze -- sometimes to death, and waterboarding are but a partial list of the torture methods ordered by America's highest officials.
In the "Preliminary Memorandum of the Justice Robert H. Jackson Conference on Federal Prosecutions of War Criminals," law school Dean Lawrence Velvel, the founder of the Jackson Conference, details the full spectrum of tortures performed in wholesale combinations -- not one torture by itself -- on detainees around the world.
His Preliminary Memorandum is a precursor to a formal legal complaint to be filed with the Justice Department this spring.

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Land to the Tiller, Forests to the Communities

Land to the Tiller, Forests to the Communities
by Peter Ewart & Dawn Hemingway
In this first of a three-part series of articles, we will be discussing some ideas about how to renew rural and northern communities in British Columbia that are caught in the midst of an unprecedented economic downturn in forestry and other industrial sectors.

It has been like watching the slow motion destruction of an office tower. First one floor gives away; then another and another, each section inexorably pulling down the rest, until there is only a giant cloud of dust and heaps of tangled concrete and steel girders remaining.  So have gone many banks, hedge funds, and insurance companies in the U.S. and other countries in the world during the current financial crisis. And so have many big corporations in industrial sectors such as auto, forestry, steel, and retail.
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The New Civil War: Obama Promises Benefits to Unemployed - Louisiana Declares Secession

Damn that Lincoln: Abe's to blame for Jindal
by Greg Palast
Damn that Abe Lincoln. When Louisiana and Mississippi seceded from the Union, a sensible president would have sent them a box of chocolates with a note, "Goodbye and good riddance."

Tonight, following Barack Obama's budget presentation to Congress, effectively the president's first State of the Union Address, the Republicans chose to give their party's response, the governor of the state that wanted to leave the Union, Louisiana's Bobby Jindal.

Jindal told us that Barack Obama is a terrible President who passed a stimulus bill "larded with wasteful spending."   Where's the lard?  All week, Jindal has been screeching that Obama wants to require states like Louisiana to extend unemployment insurance to - get this - the unemployed!  (Technically, the federal government would pay 100% of the cost of reforming Louisiana's and Mississippi's Scrooge-sized benefit requirements.)
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Between Peace and Peril

A Choice Between Peace and Peril
by Chris Hedges
Bibi Netanyahu’s assumption of power in Israel sets the stage for a huge campaign by the Israeli government, and its well-oiled lobby groups in Washington, to push us into a war with Iran.

Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program, according to U.S. and European intelligence agencies. But reality rarely impedes on politics. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama, along with Netanyahu, all talk as if Iran is on the brink of dropping the big one on the Jewish state.
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An Economical Memory: How the Economy was Lost

How the Economy was Lost
by Paul Craig Roberts
The American economy has gone away. It is not coming back until free trade myths are buried six feet under. America’s 20th century economic success was based on two things. Free trade was not one of them.
America’s economic success was based on protectionism, which was ensured by the union victory in the Civil War, and on British indebtedness, which destroyed the British pound as world reserve currency.
Following World War II, the US dollar took the role as reserve currency, a privilege that allows the US to pay its international bills in its own currency.

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Israel Critic Canned: On Cowardice and the Duty of Academe

by Joel Kovel
Bard has effectively crafted for itself an image as a bastion of progressive thought. Its efforts were crowned with being anointed in 2005 by the 'Princeton Review' as the second-most progressive college in the United States, the journal adding that Bard "puts the 'liberal' in 'liberal arts.'" But “liberal” thought evidently has its limits; and my work against Zionism has encountered these.

A fundamental principle of mine is that the educator must criticize the injustices of the world, whether or not this involves him or her in conflict with the powers that be. The systematic failure of the academy to do so plays no small role in the perpetuation of injustice and state violence.
In no sphere of political action does this principle apply more vigorously than with the question of Zionism; and in no country is this issue more  strategically important than in the United States, given the fact that United States support is necessary for Israel’s behavior.
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Still Targets: Baghdad's Doctors Living in Hiding

Iraqi Doctors in Hiding Treat as They Can
by Dahr Jamail
BAGHDAD — Seventy percent of Iraq’s doctors are reported to have fled the war-torn country in the face of death threats and kidnappings. Those who remain live in fear, often in conditions close to house arrest.

Dr. Thana Hekmaytar. Photo: Dahr Jamail
“I was threatened I would be killed because I was working for the Iraqi government at the Medical City,” Dr. Thana Hekmaytar told IPS. Baghdad Medical City is the largest medical complex in the country.

Dr. Hekmaytar, a head and neck surgeon, has now been practising at the Saint Raphael Hospital in Baghdad for the last five years. It is difficult now both as woman and as doctor, she says. Most women are now living in repressive conditions because the government is less secular. And that is besides the chaotic conditions around Iraq.

“It is particularly difficult for female doctors,” Dr. Hekmaytar says. “Large groups in Iraq only want us to stay at home, and certainly not be professionals.”
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