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All the Money in the World: The Real Monster in the Meltdown

Not Enough Money in the World: The Real Monster in the Meltdown Closet
by Chris Floyd
The myth has quickly taken hold that the global financial crash was caused by bad mortgages.
This has allowed rightwing hatemongers to blame the meltdown on the "liberal" programs that encouraged home ownership among a small percentage of lower-income people (a poisonous canard that parts of the mainstream media have actually done a fairly good job of knocking down), while "progressives" of various stripes have denounced banks and other financial institutions for pushing over-easy credit on people who couldn't really afford it.

Unsustainable mortgages are a key factor in the global crash, of course. And many people (most of them white, by the way) did take out mortgages they would not be able to afford if the housing bubble ever burst, which it has, most spectacularly. And yes, it is undeniable that the financial services industry has been tempting people with easy credit like schoolyard pushers flashing reefers.

All of this was bound to end badly, and did. But this alone would not have been enough to threaten the destruction of the entire global financial system, nor cause the blind, screaming panic that has strangulated the financial markets, seized up the vital flow of money between banks, and caused the "free" market-worshipping governments of the Western world to carry out nationalizations and interventions that, in sheer numbers, dwarf anything ever seen following a Communist revolution. (As John Lancaster notes in the London Review of Books, the Bush Administration's takeover of Fannie Mae and Fannie Mac alone was "was, by cash value, the biggest nationalisation in the history of the world." And that was just the beginning.)
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Pakistan: Laying the Pistol at the Shepherd's Feet

Pakistani Lashkars Join Fight Against Taliban
Tariq Amin-Khan : Pakistani government is playing with fire by arming more tribes with modern weapons.


The violence in North Western pakistan continues to grow. Responding to the upsurge, the Pakistani government approved the deployment of local tribesman or lashkars in its offensive against the Taliban and al qaeda. Professor Tariq Amin-Khan believes the Pakistani government "is playing with fire."
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On Presidential Blindness and Economic Catastrophe

Can Obama See the Grand Canyon?
by Mike Davis
Let me begin, very obliquely, with the Grand Canyon and the paradox of trying to see beyond cultural or historical precedent.

The first European to look into the depths of the great gorge was the conquistador Garcia Lopez de Cardenas in 1540. He was horrified by the sight and quickly retreated from the South Rim. More than three centuries passed before Lieutenant Joseph Christmas Ives of the U.S. Army Corps of Topographical Engineers led the second major expedition to the rim. Like Garcia Lopez, he recorded an "awe that was almost painful to behold." Ives's expedition included a well-known German artist, but his sketch of the Canyon was wildly distorted, almost hysterical.

Neither the conquistadors nor the Army engineers, in other words, could make sense of what they saw; they were simply overwhelmed by unexpected revelation. In a fundamental sense, they were blind because they lacked the concepts necessary to organize a coherent vision of an utterly new landscape. 
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Road to Catastrophe

The Road to Catastrophe
by Ernest Partridge
The economy of the United States, and by extension of the world, has arrived at the present crisis after traveling along a road marked with an abundance of warning signs. At this moment in time, it is rather easy to recognize the folly that caused the present emergency. “Hindsight,” as they say, “is 20/20.”
However, in this case foresight was not blind. A decade ago, an intelligent and unbiased observer could readily realize that ongoing trends were unsustainable and thus could forecast that sooner or later the ongoing economic circus would lead to disaster. “Hubert Stein’s Law” predicted the outcome:
“That which can not go on forever, won’t.”

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The Tyranny of a Dedicated Minority

The Tyranny of a Dedicated Minority
by C. L. Cook
After dramatically breaking his own law of fixed election dates, and as the count continues, it seems Stephen Harper will remain Canada's minority prime minister. Harper's Conservatives garnered a few more seats, but the next parliament will look largely like the one dissolved six weeks ago.

Harper let slip last week his opinion that a returned minority would be a victory for the Tories, so a slightly enlarged minority must seem a landslide.
And, perhaps he's right. 

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Pension for Disaster: My Depression -- or Ours?

My Depression -- or Ours?
by Tom Engelhardt
Among my somewhat over-the-hill crowd -- I'm 64 -- there's one thing friends have said to me repeatedly since the stock market started to tumble, the global economic system began to melt down, and Iceland went from bank haven to bankrupt. They say, "I'm just not looking. I don't want to know." And they're not referring to the world situation, they're talking about their pension plans, or 401(k)s, or IRAs, or whatever they put their money into, so much of which is melting away in plain sight even as Iceland freezes up.

I've said it myself. Think of it as a pragmatic acknowledgment of reality at an extreme moment, but also as a statement of denial and despair. The point is: Why look? The news is going to be worse than you think, and it's way too late anyway. This is what crosses your mind when the ground under you starts to crumble. Don't look, not yet, not when the life you know, the one you took for granted, is vanishing, and there isn't a damn thing you can do about it.
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Capitalist Shakedown

The Capitalist Shakedown
by William Bowles
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve started this essay on the Capitalist Shakedown that’s going on around us, totally disconnected from us even, due to some pretty nifty media work and, I might add, thirty years of revanchism on the part of our political masters to disconnect us all from the political process.
But millions of us are affected by this crisis but without any kind of input into how it should be solved, and most especially from our trade unions, what’s left of them anyway, who have failed to voice any kind of alternative to this insanity. We have no voice with which to speak, so we are once more being dragged into a crisis not of our making.
But a crisis that is endemic to the system and one the rest of us will pay for, unless that is, we take steps to halt it. 
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Riling the Bear: Russia Tests New Generation of ICBM

US losing ground in Eastern Europe
William Engdahl: Russia's response to Georgia's offensive sends shock-waves throughout the region.


Russia flexed its military might over the weekend, testing a Topol intercontinental ballistic missile. The tests come amid increasingly strained ties between Washington and Moscow, following US ally Georgia’s military offensive in South Ossettia in August. Author and Political Economist William Engdahl says " Russia's response to Georgia's military offensive has sent shockwaves throughout the region."
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Lies, Damn Lies, and Polls

Lies, Damn Lies, and Polls
by David Swanson
David W. Moore, who worked for Gallup for 13 years as managing editor and senior editor of the Gallup Poll, has a new book out denouncing most polls by Gallup or anyone else as useless, and explaining that this became obvious to him when he first began work at Gallup, raising the obvious question of why he stuck around for 13 years. The explanation seems to be that he was trying to fix the problem, and one of the motivations for the book seems to be that he believes he still can fix it.

Of all the endless multilayered criticisms I have of polls, Moore focuses obsessively on only one. In a 160-page book on such a huge topic, you'd expect more than one idea endlessly repeated, but you won't find any more than that in "The Opinion Makers: An Insider Exposes the Truth Behind the Polls."
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McCain and the Politics of Hate

Tell McCain to end the Politics of Hate 
by Brave New Films
Dear Friends, Colleagues and Supporters,
We'd like to talk about the pressing issues facing our country: the woeful economy, rising unemployment, the housing crisis, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But we can't talk about them because John McCain and Sarah Palin have distracted us with the politics of hate and fear.

Instead of discussing the real issues plaguing Americans, McCain and Palin have turned to fear-mongering and race-baiting, stoking the prejudices of their supporters. The situation has become so critical that we've teamed up with Color of Change to put an end to these dangerous mob scenes.

Watch the video:

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Cheney's Testimony in Valerie Plame Leak Case Classified

Cheney's Testimony in Valerie Plame Leak Case Classified, DOJ Says        
by Jason Leopold
The Department of Justice, in refusing to release Vice President Dick Cheney’s interview transcript with the special prosecutor who investigated the leak of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson said for the first time last week that contents of Cheney’s interview have been classified.

In a letter sent Thursday to Citizens of Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), the government watchdog group that filed a Freedom of Information Act request last month seeking access to the transcript, the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) said the documents have been withheld, in due part, because it contains information “protected from disclosure by the National Security Act.”
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