Saturday, July 4, 2009
Cindy Sheehan demands release of captives of Israel.
AIPAC wrecked Cynthia McKinney's career in Congress. http://bit.ly/7Ex7S Israel has a vengeful wildcat of their own creation locked up.
Cynthia McKinney Refuses Israel's Offer of Release from Custody http://bit.ly/599Zh
Iran pro-coup propagandists now using same techniques to undermine Cynthia McKinney http://bit.ly/33nv99
"14 of us in 7 by 7 meter cell, searched twice a day, hot, nothing compared to how Palestinians suffer,"
Letter from an Israeli Jail, by Cynthia McKinney
Written by Free Gaza Team
Original audio message available here:
This is Cynthia McKinney and I'm speaking from an Israeli prison cellblock in Ramle. [I am one of] the Free Gaza 21, human rights activists currently imprisoned for trying to take medical supplies to Gaza, building supplies - and even crayons for children, I had a suitcase full of crayons for children. While we were on our way to Gaza the Israelis threatened to fire on our boat, but we did not turn around. The Israelis high-jacked and arrested us because we wanted to give crayons to the children in Gaza. We have been detained, and we want the people of the world to see how we have been treated just because we wanted to deliver humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza.
At the outbreak of Israel's Operation ‘Cast Lead' [in December 2008], I boarded a Free Gaza boat with one day's notice and tried, as the US representative in a multi-national delegation, to deliver 3 tons of medical supplies to an already besieged and ravaged Gaza.
During Operation Cast Lead, U.S.-supplied F-16's rained hellfire on a trapped people. Ethnic cleansing became full scale outright genocide. U.S.-supplied white phosphorus, depleted uranium, robotic technology, DIME weapons, and cluster bombs - new weapons creating injuries never treated before by Jordanian and Norwegian doctors. I was later told by doctors who were there in Gaza during Israel's onslaught that Gaza had become Israel's veritable weapons testing laboratory, people used to test and improve the kill ratio of their weapons.
The world saw Israel's despicable violence thanks to al-Jazeera Arabic and Press TV that broadcast in English. I saw those broadcasts live and around the clock, not from the USA but from Lebanon, where my first attempt to get into Gaza had ended because the Israeli military rammed the boat I was on in international water ... It's a miracle that I'm even here to write about my second encounter with the Israeli military, again a humanitarian mission aborted by the Israeli military.
The Israeli authorities have tried to get us to confess that we committed a crime ... I am now known as Israeli prisoner number 88794. How can I be in prison for collecting crayons to kids?
Zionism has surely run out of its last legitimacy if this is what it does to people who believe so deeply in human rights for all that they put their own lives on the line for someone else's children. Israel is the fullest expression of Zionism, but if Israel fears for its security because Gaza's children have crayons then not only has Israel lost its last shred of legitimacy, but Israel must be declared a failed state.
I am facing deportation from the state that brought me here at gunpoint after commandeering our boat. I was brought to Israel against my will. I am being held in this prison because I had a dream that Gaza's children could color & paint, that Gaza's wounded could be healed, and that Gaza's bombed-out houses could be rebuilt.
But I've learned an interesting thing by being inside this prison. First of all, it's incredibly black: populated mostly by Ethiopians who also had a dream ... like my cellmates, one who is pregnant. They are all are in their twenties. They thought they were coming to the Holy Land. They had a dream that their lives would be better ... The once proud, never colonized Ethiopia [has been thrown into] the back pocket of the United States, and become a place of torture, rendition, and occupation. Ethiopians must free their country because superpower politics [have] become more important than human rights and self-determination.
My cellmates came to the Holy Land so they could be free from the exigencies of superpower politics. They committed no crime except to have a dream. They came to Israel because they thought that Israel held promise for them. Their journey to Israel through Sudan and Egypt was arduous. I can only imagine what it must have been like for them. And it wasn't cheap. Many of them represent their family's best collective efforts for self-fulfilment. They made their way to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. They got their yellow paper of identification. They got their certificate for police protection. They are refugees from tragedy, and they made it to Israel only after they arrived Israel told them "there is no UN in Israel."
The police here have license to pick them up & suck them into the black hole of a farce for a justice system. These beautiful, industrious and proud women represent the hopes of entire families. The idea of Israel tricked them and the rest of us. In a widely propagandized slick marketing campaign, Israel represented itself as a place of refuge and safety for the world's first Jews and Christian. I too believed that marketing and failed to look deeper.
The truth is that Israel lied to the world. Israel lied to the families of these young women. Israel lied to the women themselves who are now trapped in Ramle's detention facility. And what are we to do? One of my cellmates cried today. She has been here for 6 months. As an American, crying with them is not enough. The policy of the United States must be better, and while we watch President Obama give 12.8 trillion dollars to the financial elite of the United States it ought now be clear that hope, change, and ‘yes we can' were powerfully presented images of dignity and self-fulfilment, individually and nationally, that besieged people everywhere truly believed in.
It was a slick marketing campaign as slickly put to the world and to the voters of America as was Israel's marketing to the world. It tricked all of us but, more tragically, these young women.
We must cast an informed vote about better candidates seeking to represent us. I have read and re-read Dr. Martin Luther King Junior's letter from a Birmingham jail. Never in my wildest dreams would I have ever imagined that I too would one day have to do so. It is clear that taxpayers in Europe and the U.S. have a lot to atone for, for what they've done to others around the world.
What an irony! My son begins his law school program without me because I am in prison, in my own way trying to do my best, again, for other people's children. Forgive me, my son. I guess I'm experiencing the harsh reality which is why people need dreams. [But] I'm lucky. I will leave this place. Has Israel become the place where dreams die?
Ask the people of Palestine. Ask the stream of black and Asian men whom I see being processed at Ramle. Ask the women on my cellblock. [Ask yourself:] what are you willing to do?
Let's change the world together & reclaim what we all need as human beings: Dignity. I appeal to the United Nations to get these women of Ramle, who have done nothing wrong other than to believe in Israel as the guardian of the Holy Land, resettled in safe homes. I appeal to the United State's Department of State to include the plight of detained UNHCR-certified refugees in the Israel country report in its annual human rights report. I appeal once again to President Obama to go to Gaza: send your special envoy, George Mitchell there, and to engage Hamas as the elected choice of the Palestinian people.
I dedicate this message to those who struggle to achieve a free Palestine, and to the women I've met at Ramle. This is Cynthia McKinney, July 2nd 2009, also known as Ramle prisoner number 88794.
By Marklar M. Marklar
In an unprecedented move today, during a White House press conference, Shyam Sunder of the NIST revealed that NIST engineers we’re wrong about the fires in WTC 1, 2, and 7 being the sole cause of the collapse of those three towers. “We’ve uncovered new information that proves we were wrong about the fires causing the collapse of the World Trade Towers. We do apologize for the mix-up but this information was not previously available and quite frankly we were just pulling stuff out of our asses,” Mr. Sunder said. “New photographic evidence proves the cause of the collapse beyond any shadow of a doubt to be dinosaur attack.”
READ MORE HERE... http://grblz.tk/
Friday, July 3, 2009
Thursday, July 2, 2009
Former Forum Moderator of PrisonPlanetTV.com
The forum of Alex Jones Breaks His silence and Speaks Out!
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Marc Garlasco, a senior military analyst with the group, said on Tuesday that the drone operators had fired at least six times before verifying their targets during the Gaza War and killed at least 29 civilians, among them 8 children.
In six cases documented in the report, three attacks hit children playing on rooftops in residential neighborhoods and three others hit an elementary school serving as a refugee center, a group of students at a bus stop, and a metal shop near a refugee camp.
The report says in each case, high-resolution video from the drones should have told operators there were no gunmen in the area.
Drones, operated by remote control by pilots watching their targets on a video monitor, are called "the most precise, the most distinguishing of all weapons that any military has in its arsenal".
"We were quite surprised during our mission in Gaza to actually find so many civilians killed by these weapons," Garlasco said.
While Palestinian witnesses and defense experts have reported seeing Israeli drones attacking targets on the ground, Israeli military has denied the report saying it appeared to be based on "unnamed and unreliable Palestinian sources" whose military expertise were "unproven," said a military spokesman on Tuesday.
The group however said it found a particular type of shrapnel and a neat dispersion of the missile parts consistent with a drone-fired Israeli Spike missile.
Israel launched its three-week war against Gaza in late December. Some 1,400 Palestinians, including more than 900 civilians, were killed, according to Gaza health officials and human rights groups.
This July 23, 2002 photo shows Palestinians gathering outside the rubble of a Gaza house destroyed in an IAF strike that killed Hamas leader Salah Shehadeh and 14 others, including seven children.
The report on Tuesday comes a day after court papers announced that the country's highest court would try seven Israelis, including a former defense minister, for bombing that killed Hamas leader Salah Shehade and 14 others.
Seven children were among those killed in the July 22 attack that left more than another 150 injured.
Judge Fernando Andreu had argued that it could constitute a crime against humanity, which allows the persecution of the foreigners under Spanish law.
The suspects named by Andreu included former Israeli defense minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, currently serving as the industry ministry, and six current or former army officers or security officials.
The case had created some diplomatic tension between Spain and Israel.
The decision is in line with a preliminary approval by parliament of legislation limiting the right of Spanish judges to hold trials on the world stage.
Israeli Justice Minister Ya'akov Ne'eman ridiculed the Palestinian plaintiffs' "cynical" efforts to "exploit the Spanish judicial system in order to advance a political agenda against Israel."
He expressed Tel Aviv's conviction that “the Spanish government and judicial system will do their utmost" to stop the proceedings.
Under the new legislation, the Spanish National Court can only investigate in cases where the victims or the charged parties are Spanish citizens.
The development comes as Israel's devastating winter military offensive on the densely populated enclave prompted the UN to hold unprecedented public hearings in Gaza City and Geneva this week following an international outcry over war crimes during the conflict.
The non-stop air, land and sea strikes on the impoverished Palestinian territory left over 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis -- 10 soldiers and three civilians.
Monday, June 29, 2009
Walid , a 13-year-old Palestinian farm boy from the West Bank village of Ya'abad, had never spoken to an Israeli until he rounded a corner at dusk carrying his shopping bags and found two Israeli soldiers waiting with their rifles aimed at him. "They accused me of throwing stones at them," recounts Walid, a skinny kid with dark eyes. "Then one of them smacked me in the face, and my nose started bleeding."
According to Walid, the two soldiers blindfolded and handcuffed him, dragged him to a jeep and drove away. All that his family would know about their missing son was that his shopping bags with meat and rice for that evening's dinner were found in the dusty road near an olive grove. Over the course of several days in April last year, the boy says he was moved from an army camp to a prison, where he was crammed into a cell with five other children, cursed at and humiliated by the guards and beaten by his interrogator until he confessed to stone-throwing. (See pictures of Israeli soldiers sweeping into Gaza.)
Walid says he saw his parents for only five seconds when he was brought before an Israeli military court and accused by the uniformed prosecutor not only of throwing stones but of "striking an Israeli officer." The military judge ignored the latter charge and chose to prosecute Walid only for allegedly heaving a stone at soldiers.
The boy got off lightly: he spent 28 days in prison and was fined 500 shekels (approximately $120). Under Israeli military law, which prevails in the , the crime of throwing a stone at an Israeli solider or even at the monolithic 20-ft.-high "security barrier" enclosing much of the West Bank can carry a maximum 20-year-prison sentence. Since 2000, according to the Palestinian Ministry for Prisoner Affairs, more than 6,500 children have been arrested, mostly for hurling rocks.
Walid's story is hardly unusual, judging from a report on the Israeli military-justice system in the West Bank compiled by the Palestine office of the Geneva-based Defense for Children International, which works closely with the U.N. and European states. Human-rights groups in and elsewhere have also condemned the punishment meted out to Palestinian children by Israeli military justice. Most onerous, says Sarit Michaeli of the Israeli human-rights group B'Tselem, is that inside the territories, the Israeli military deems any Palestinian who is 16 years and older as an adult, while inside Israel, the U.S. and most other countries, adulthood is reached at age 18.
The report states that "the ill-treatment and torture" of Palestinian child prisoners "appears to be widespread, systematic and institutionalized, suggesting complicity at all levels of the political and military chain of command." The group's director, Rifaat Kassis, says the number of child arrests rose sharply in the past six months, possibly because of a crackdown on Palestinian protests in the West Bank in the aftermath of Israel's military offensive in Gaza.
The Geneva organization's report alleges that under Israeli military justice, it is the norm for children to be interrogated by the Israeli police and army without either a lawyer or a family member present and that most of their convictions are due to confessions extracted during interrogation sessions or from "secret evidence," usually tip-offs from unnamed Palestinian informers. If so, the practice may violate the U.N. Convention Against Torture, which Israel ratified in 1991. In response to TIME's queries, a lawyer for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said that under "security legislation" and Israel's interpretation of international law, no lawyer or relative need be present during a child's interrogation.
The children's rights defenders collected testimony from 33 minors, including a child identified merely as "Ezzat H.," who described a "soldier wearing black sunglasses [who] came into the room where I was held and pointed his rifle at me. The rifle barrel was a few centimeters from my face. I was so terrified that I started to shiver. He made fun of me and said: 'Shivering? Tell me where the [father's hidden] pistol is before I shoot you.' " According to the report, Ezzat was 10 years old at the time. TIME asked theto comment on the specific incidents mentioned in the report, but a spokesman said that would be impossible without knowing the names of the soldiers allegedly involved.
Often, children suffer lasting traumas from jail. Says Saleh Nazzal of the Palestinian Ministry of Prisoner Affairs: "When soldiers burst into a house and drag away a child, he loses his feeling of being protected by his family. He comes back from prison alienated from his family, his friends. They don't like going back to school or even leaving the house. They start wetting their beds." Says Mona Zaghrout, a YMCA counselor who helps kids returning from prison: "They come out of prison thinking and acting like they are men. Their childhood is gone." And they often turn to another father figure - the armedfighting the Israeli occupation.
According to the Israeli human-rights group Breaking the Silence, a few Israeli soldiers are alarmed by their own troops' behavior. The group cites the testimony of two officers who complained before a military court that during an operation last March in Hares village, soldiers herded 150 male villagers, some as young as 14, into a schoolyard in the middle of the night, where they were kept bound, blindfolded and beaten over the course of more than 12 hours.
A U.N. Committee Against Torture, which met on May 15 in Geneva, expressed its "concern" over Israel's alleged abuses of Palestinian child prisoners. The IDF denies any ill treatment of children detainees and insists that all claims are thoroughly investigated and that the number of complaints has dropped. But Khalid Quzman, a defense lawyer at the Israeli military courts, says, "We don't complain anymore because it's a waste of time." More than 600 complaints of torture and ill treatment were filed between 2001 and 2008, he says, "and not a single criminal investigation was ever carried out."
Inculcating respect for an occupying force is, of course, a difficult task under any circumstances. In the case of the Palestinians, history and society have made hatred for Israel almost an instinct. Still, there was shock in June among Palestinians when members of a West Bank family were accused of hanging a boy for suspected collaboration with Israeli forces.
Israel's treatment of Palestinian children and teens as combatants perpetuates the cycle of hatred. After a spell in an Israeli jail, it's hard for a young Palestinian to stay uninvolved. Walid says he never cared much for anything aside from his school friends and family before his incarceration. Now he bears a radioactive hatred towards Israelis. "The soldiers' curses and insults, I'll carry them to my grave," he says. - With reporting by Jamil Hamad / and Yonit Farago /
View this article on Time.com
President Hamid Karzai accused Afghan guards working for U.S. coalition forces of killing a provincial police chief and at least four other security o
In a harshly worded statement, Karzai demanded that coalition forces hand over the private security guards involved. But the governor of Kandahar later said 41 guards connected to the incident had been disarmed and arrested by Afghan authorities.
The U.S. military said it was not involved in the shooting, calling it an "Afghan-on-Afghan incident." However, Karzai's statement suggested that the security guards sought refuge at a U.S. coalition base after the killings, and he "demanded that coalition forces prevent such incidents, which weaken the government."
The situation lays bare the often testy relations between Karzai and American officials. The president's accusations come as thousands of U.S. Marines and soldiers are deploying across southern Afghanistan, the Taliban's stronghold and a region where Karzai is also seeking votes from his Pashtun tribesmen ahead of the Aug. 20 presidential election.
Gunfire broke out after Afghan security guards moved into the heavily protected office of the district attorney in Kandahar and demanded the release of a man accused of forging documents, said Hafizullah Khaliqyar, Kandahar's district attorney.
The Afghan security guards threatened to release the suspect by force, so Khaliqyar called the provincial police chief, he said. It was not clear why they were trying to release the suspect.
"When the police chief wanted to talk to these people, there was some argument, and the gunbattle started," Khaliqyar said.
Among those killed were provincial police chief Matiullah Qati and the province's criminal investigations director. Karzai said five guards were killed, though some officials put the death toll as high as 10.
Only hours later, Karzai's office released a statement.
"President Hamid Karzai demanded that coalition forces hand over the private security individuals belonging to coalition forces responsible for the killing of Kandahar provincial security officials to the relevant security authorities of the Afghan government," the statement said.
It was not clear who the Afghan security guards were. U.S. and NATO forces employ lightly trained Afghan security to guard the exterior of bases. The group also may have been Afghan special forces, which train on a joint U.S.-Afghan base in Kandahar.
A U.S. military spokesman, Chief Petty Officer Brian Naranjo, said no American military forces from any branch — including special operations forces — were present or involved in the incident. U.S. military officials do not speak for any other security branches of the government, such as the CIA.
"The incident was an Afghan-on-Afghan incident and did not involve U.S. or international personnel or equipment," a U.S. military statement said.
The area was sealed by U.S. forces after the shooting, an Associated Press reporter at the scene said.
Later, the governor, Thoryalai Wesa, said 41 private guards had been disarmed and arrested and would be sent to Kabul for a military trial.
The killing of Kandahar's top police officer is a blow to security efforts in a province from which Taliban leader Mullah Omar once ruled the country. U.S. soldiers are deploying to Kandahar later this summer, part of a surge that will see the total number of American forces in the country brought to 68,000, more than double the 32,000 troops here last year.
The Taliban ruled Afghanistan in the 1990s and was ousted during the U.S.-led invasion in 2001. Omar is believed to be in hiding in Pakistan, but his whereabouts are not known.
The Taliban has made a comeback in the last three years, wreaking havoc in much of the country's south, including Kandahar, and forcing President Barack Obama's administration to pour thousands of troops into a war U.S. officials once said had been won.
Every day, Campaign for Liberty fights government tyranny in defense of freedom.
But right now one C4L staffer is taking his own brave stand for his liberties.
You may remember Steve Bierfeldt's story. A few months ago he went through a harrowing ordeal at the St. Louis Airport.
He was unconstitutionally searched, held against his rights, verbally harassed -- and he recorded the whole thing on his cellular phone.
Steve’s bravery in defense of his rights made him a cult celebrity in liberty circles.
And now his heroism is going mainstream.
You see, Steve has filed a lawsuit against the TSA, and CNN recently picked up the story.
Click here to watch the segment on The Situation Room.
Steve is an inspiration to every freedom-loving patriot, and a reminder that there are victories to be won every day in the fight for liberty.
And don’t forget, Steve is not just doing this for himself; his brave stand protects the rights of each and every one of us.
Here is a link to Steve’s C4L blog post where he posted the video. Please take a moment to leave a comment or word of encouragement.
Let him know that in his fight for freedom, he doesn’t stand alone.
Inhofe Says ‘Cap And Trade’ Dead in Senate: Countrywide & Sun | Inhofe, a longtime critic .. http://tinyurl.com/lf4sxz
EDITORIAL: Cap and frown
Global warming bill could cost $6,800 per family
EPA May Have Suppressed Report Skeptical Of Global Warming
Bernard Madoff gets maximum 150 years in prison
States Take a Stand Against Federal Intrusion
Red-light camera loses backer
CIA Crucified Captive In Abu Ghraib Prison
Supreme Court Reverses Sotomayor's decision on Firefighters Promotions
Rep. Bachmann appears on the Glenn Beck show to talk about the looming economic fallout if cap-and-trade becomes law, as well and the 2010 census and American Community Surveyyoutube.com
White House confident Senate will pass energy bill
The Associated Press
Monday, June 29, 2009; 11:13 AM
WASHINGTON -- The White House says it's confident that the Senate will pass comprehensive energy legislation.
President Barack Obama's top energy adviser, Carol Browner, made the comment in an interview with a small group of reporters.
But she repeatedly refused to say when the White House expected the Senate to pass the measure. And she refused to speculate on whether Obama would have legislation sent to his desk by year's end.
Discover Your Carbon Footprint... before someone else reports it :(
Ahmadinejad, today ordered an investigation into the killing of Neda Agha Soltan
GE has quietly become the biggest beneficiary of one of the Banker Baillouts
Explosive - Officer Pirone called Oscar Grant "Bitch-ass 'N-word"
Swiss police say they have uncovered an internet child pornography network
Rep. Hastings' defense amendment to label Americans 'terrorists'
Jury for the Ed and Elaine Browns' trial to be selected . They face 11 felonies
Supreme Court Reverses Sotomayor's decision on Firefighters Promotions
False Flag Alert - ‘Horrific Provocation’ to Trigger Iran Invasion
WASHINGTON – General Electric, the world's largest industrial company, has quietly become the biggest beneficiary of one of the government's key rescue programs for banks.
At the same time, GE has avoided many of the restrictions facing other financial giants getting help from the government.
The company did not initially qualify for the program, under which the government sought to unfreeze credit markets by guaranteeing debt sold by banking firms. But regulators soon loosened the eligibility requirements, in part because of behind-the-scenes appeals from GE.
As a result, GE has joined major banks collectively saving billions of dollars by raising money for their operations at lower interest rates. Public records show that GE Capital, the company's massive financing arm, has issued nearly a quarter of the $340 billion in debt backed by the program, which is known as the Temporary Liquidity Guarantee Program, or TLGP. The government's actions have been "powerful and helpful" to the company, GE chief executive Jeffrey Immelt acknowledged in December.
GE's finance arm is not classified as a bank. Rather, it worked its way into the rescue program by owning two relatively small Utah banking institutions, illustrating how the loopholes in the U.S. regulatory system are manifest in the government's historic intervention in the financial crisis.
The Obama administration now wants to close such loopholes as it works to overhaul the financial system. The plan would reaffirm and strengthen the wall between banking and commerce, forcing companies like GE to essentially choose one or the other.
"We'd like to regulate companies according to what they do, rather than what they call themselves or how they charter themselves," said Andrew Williams, a Treasury spokesman.
GE's ability to live in the best of both worlds – capitalizing on the federal safety net while avoiding more rigorous regulation – existed well before last year's crisis, because of its unusual corporate structure.
Banking companies are regulated by the Federal Reserve and not allowed to engage in commerce, but federal law has allowed a small number of commercial companies to engage in banking under the lighter hand of the Office of Thrift Supervision. GE falls in the latter group because of its ownership of a Utah savings and loan.
Unlike other major lenders participating in the debt guarantee program, including Bank of America, Citigroup and J.P. Morgan Chase, GE has never been subject to the Fed's stress tests or its rules for limiting risk. Also unlike firms that have received bailout money in the Troubled Assets Relief Program, or TARP, GE is not subject to restrictions such as limits on executive compensation.
The debt guarantee program that GE joined is administered by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., which was reluctant to take on the new mission, according to current and former officials who were not authorized to speak publicly. The FDIC also initially resisted expanding the pool of eligible companies, fearing it would add more risk to the program, the officials said.
Despite those misgivings, there have been no defaults in the loan guarantee program. It has helped buoy confidence in the credit markets and enabled vital financial firms to raise cash even during the darkest days of the economic crisis. In addition, the program has raised more than $8 billion in fees.
"The TGLP program has been a money maker for us," FDIC chairman Sheila Bair has said. "So I think there have been some benefits to the government and the FDIC."
For its part, GE said that it properly applied for and qualified for the program. "We were accepted on the merits of our application," company spokesman Russell Wilkerson said.
The Cash Cow
The current good fortune of General Electric, ranked by Forbes as the world's largest company, has roots in the Great Depression, when it created a consumer finance arm so that cash-starved families could buy its appliances.
What grew from those beginnings is now a powerful engine of profit, accounting for nearly half of its parent's net earnings in the past five years. GE may be better known for light bulbs and home appliances, but GE Capital is one of the world's largest and most diverse financial operations, lending money for commercial real estate, aircraft leasing and credit cards for stores such as Wal-Mart. If GE Capital were classified as a banking company, it would be the nation's seventh largest.
Unlike the banking giants, GE Capital is part of an industrial company. That allows GE to offer attractive financing to those who buy its products.
At the height of last fall's financial crisis, GE's cash cow became a potential liability. As credit markets froze, analysts feared that GE Capital was vulnerable to losing access to cheap funding – largely commercial paper, or short-term corporate IOUs sold to large investors.
Company officials projected confidence. "While GE Capital is not immune from the current environment," Immelt said in October, "we continued to outperform our financial-services peers." Behind the scenes, they urgently sought a helping hand for GE Capital. One key hope was a rescue plan taking shape at the FDIC.
The program emerged during a hectic weekend last October as regulators scrambled to announce a series of rescue efforts before the markets opened.
They found a legal basis for the program in a 1991 law: If a faltering bank posed "systemic risk," then the FDIC, the Fed, the Treasury secretary and the president could agree to give the FDIC more authority to rescue a failing institution. The financial regulators applied the statute broadly, so it would cover the more than 8,000 banks in the FDIC system.
The FDIC hurried to approve the program Oct. 13.
"This was crisis management on steroids," said a person familiar with the process. "A lot was made up on the fly."
The author of the systemic-risk provision, Richard Carnell, now a law professor at Fordham University, says it was intended to apply to a single institution, and that in their rush to find legal footing for unprecedented new programs, regulators "turned the statute on its head."
The FDIC launched the program Tuesday, Oct. 14, the same day Treasury officials announced large capital infusions into nine of the country's banking giants under TARP. That day, the FDIC also expanded its deposit guarantees to a broader range of accounts.
Within days, the FDIC held conference calls with bankers to explain the program. Agency officials explained that not all companies that owned banks were eligible. "The idea is not to extend this guarantee to commercial firms," David Barr, an FDIC spokesman, said during one of the calls.
A Broader Program
GE was watching closely. Though GE Capital owned an FDIC-insured savings and loan and an industrial loan company, they accounted for only 3 percent of GE's assets. Company officials concluded that GE couldn't meet the program's eligibility requirements.
So the company requested that the program "be broadened," GE's Wilkerson said. GE's main argument was fairness: The FDIC was trying to encourage lending, and GE Capital was one of the country's largest business lenders.
GE deployed a team of executives and outside attorneys, including Rodgin Cohen, a banking expert with the New York firm Sullivan & Cromwell.
"GE was among the parties that discussed this with the FDIC," along with the Treasury and Fed, according to FDIC spokesman Andrew Gray. He said the details about eligibility "had not been specifically addressed" in the beginning.
Citigroup, the troubled banking giant, also was pressing for an expansion of the FDIC program. Though Citigroup was included in the debt guarantee program, its main finance arm, Citigroup Funding, appeared ineligible. Fed Vice Chairman Donald Kohn wrote to the FDIC's Bair on Oct.
21, arguing that debt issued by Citigroup Funding should be covered "as if it were issued directly by Citigroup, Inc."
Two days later, the FDIC announced a new category of eligible applicants – "affiliates" of an FDIC-insured institution. Bair explained that "there may be circumstances where the program should be extended" to keep credit markets flowing. That meant "certain otherwise ineligible holding companies or affiliates that issue debt" could apply, she said.
GE Capital now was eligible.
GE Capital won approval to enter the FDIC program in mid-November with support from its regulator, the Office of Thrift Supervision. The company used the government guarantee to raise about $35 billion by the end of
2008. By the end of the first quarter of 2009, the total reached $74 billion, helping to cover the company's 2009 funding needs and about $8 billion of its projected needs for 2010.
Despite government support, GE lost its Triple-A rating for the first time in decades this year and was forced to sharply cut its dividend. But the outlook could have been much worse.
The debt guarantee program has "been of critical importance" to the fiscal health of GE Capital, said Scott Sprinzen, who evaluates GE's finance arm for the Standard & Poor's credit-rating company. He said the FDIC program enabled GE to "avoid an exorbitant price" for its debt late last year.
GE has not disclosed how much the company has saved because of TLGP backing.
Like other companies in the program, GE pays the FDIC fees to use the guarantees – a little more than $1 billion so far. But as Bair explained to bankers last fall, the fees, while "healthy," are "far below certainly what the cost of credit protection is now in the market."
Not every finance company has had that peace of mind. One of GE's competitors in business lending markets, CIT Group, a smaller company, has had a harder time raising cash. It has been unable to persuade the FDIC to allow it into the debt-guarantee program, at least in part because of its lower credit ratings. A recent Standard & Poor's analysis cited CIT's "inability to access TLGP" as a factor in the company's declining financial condition.
Two weeks ago, the Obama administration said it would seek to eliminate the Office of Thrift Supervision and force companies like GE to focus on commerce or banking, but not both. That could require the industrial giant to spin off GE Capital.
Last week, Immelt said GE had no intention of doing that. "GE is and will remain committed to GE Capital, and we like our strategy," he said in a memo to staff.
In its proposal to overhaul financial regulation, the Treasury Department pointed out that some firms operating under the existing rules, including collapsed companies such as American International Group, "generally were able to evade effective consolidated supervision and the long-standing policy of separating banking from commerce."
GE's Wilkerson said the company generally supports regulatory reform but thinks that it should be permitted to retain its structure. "Bank reform has historically included grandfathering provisions upon which investors have relied, and there is no reason this settled principle should not be followed here," he said. He said the company "didn't have any choice" but to have OTS as its regulator.
The company also objects to the Treasury's proposal to force firms to separate banking and commerce because that issue "had nothing to do with the financial crisis," Wilkerson said.
Wilkerson said GE has remained profitable and avoided some of the exotic financial products that contributed to losses at other institutions. He also said that GE performed an internal stress test this year and found that its capital position was "quite strong by comparison to the banks."
The FDIC has been working to wean financial institutions off the program. The TLGP originally was slated to end in June, but at the Treasury's request the FDIC agreed to extend it until Oct. 31. Some participants have stopped using the program, but GE Capital continues to do so for the overwhelming majority of its debt.
Much of the $340 billion in debt will come due in 2012, the year the FDIC guarantees expire. At that point, known in banking circles as the "cliff," the agency would have to make good if companies such as GE are unable to honor their obligations. FDIC officials say they are comfortable that the agency has collected more than enough money to cover potential losses.
One of the videos made by riders at the Fruitvale Station in Oakland early New Year's Day caught Officer Tony Pirone standing over the prone Grant and yelling, "Bitch-ass n-."
Pirone and his attorney say he was parroting an epithet that Grant first hurled at him - though Grant's voice is not audible on the tape.
The sound-enhanced tape shows Pirone delivering a shoulder chop to Grant and bringing him to the ground. Pirone can be heard saying twice, "Bitch-ass n-, right?"
Prosecutors showed the tape in court on the last day of Mehserle's preliminary hearing, but the headlines went to the judge's decree hours later that there was enough evidence to send Mehserle to trial for murder.
Under questioning from Mehserle's attorney Michael Rains, Pirone insisted it was Grant who had first "called me a bitch-ass n-."
Asked if he had repeated the slur to Grant, Pirone testified: "I don't remember, but it very well may have happened."
"Is that something you would have initiated on your own, calling him names?" Rains asked.
"No, I don't talk like that," Pirone said.
Oakland attorney John Burris, who is representing Grant's family in a lawsuit against BART, called Pirone's words "shocking and disturbing."
"Pirone was out of control," Burris said, "assaulting Oscar Grant and taunting him with racial slurs, and none of the other officers seemed to put him in check."
Pirone's attorney, William Rapoport, dismissed Burris' assertion - reiterating that Pirone, who is white, was simply reacting in surprise to being called the "N" word himself.
Mehserle, who is white, was not accused by prosecutors or Grant's family of a racial motive in the shooting of Grant, a 22-year-old African American whom BART officers pulled off a train after receiving reports of an onboard fight.
A spokesman for the state Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training in Sacramento declined to weigh in on whether Pirone's comments would be cause for discipline or even firing, citing an internal BART probe of the shooting.
Peter Keane, a Golden Gate University law professor and former San Francisco police commissioner, said that determining whether Pirone's comments were grounds for discipline depends on whether he was intending to use a racial epithet or just echoing Grant in a "sense of incredulity."
But without Grant's voice on the tape, Keane said, "the burden of proof moves heavily to Pirone."
The race is on: State Attorney General Jerry Brown bests San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom by 20 points in a new, two-way poll for next year's Democratic gubernatorial contest.
The poll by JMM Research of 525 Democratic and decline-to-state voters is the first snapshot since Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced last week that he wasn't running.
With Villaraigosa in the lineup, the numbers read:
-- Brown, 33 percent.
-- Newsom, 20 percent.
-- Villaraigosa, 17 percent.
Take the L.A. mayor out, and it's:
-- Brown, 46 percent.
-- Newsom, 26 percent.
Brown does best with the voters over 40, who tend to turn out in bigger numbers on election day. Newsom thrives with the younger crowd, which he hopes to turn out big time, a la Barack Obama.
Geographically, Brown beats Newsom everywhere but the Bay Area.
Whichever candidate they support, the one thing Democrats overwhelmingly agree on is the sad state of the state, with 73 percent saying California is headed in the wrong direction.
Budget bingo: Publicly, San Francisco's budget battle is being pitched as a fight with Mayor Gavin Newsom, cops and firefighters on one side, and the Board of Supervisors and advocates of social programs on the other.
But behind the scenes, the fight is also between two major labor groups: the Service Employees International Union, which represents most of the city's health and social workers, and the police and fire unions.
Service worker unions have helped elect a number of the supervisors. The police and firefighter unions are big backers of the mayor, and opposed many of the supervisors.
The first round went to the service workers when the supervisors voted to cut $82.9 million from the police, fire and sheriff's departments and use it for health and social services.
But now, it's dawning on everyone that the city will probably need even more money to keep everyone happy, which means going to the ballot in November with some kind of tax hike. And any kind of tax hike is going to need police and firefighter support to pass.
Which may explain why the service and firefighters unions have been meeting on the QT in the hopes of working out a compromise.
And if they do - City Hall will follow.
Banmiller bows: After taking a good, hard look at the numbers, business newscaster Brian Banmiller has decided to stay out of the race to replace outgoing East Bay Democratic Rep. Ellen Tauscher.
"They weren't kidding around when they redistricted the 10th," the Republican said of the district, which includes portions of Solano and Contra Costa counties. "They said they were going to make it safe for Democrats, and it is."
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This article appeared on page B - 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle
The Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, today ordered an investigation into the killing of Neda Agha Soltan, who has become a symbol of the protest movement after a video of her dying moments was circulated on the internet.
In a letter to the head of the country's judiciary, Ahmadinejad partly acknowledged public outrage at her death by describing it as a "heartfelt event".
The president – whose disputed re-election on 12 June led to demonstrations in Tehran – suggested that Soltan's death was "suspicious", despite eyewitness accounts that she was shot by riot police on motorcycles during a violent crackdown on opposition protests.
"Neda Agha Soltan was shot dead in one of Tehran's streets on 20 June by unknown elements in a completely suspicious way," he said.
He also accused the foreign media of using the case for propaganda purposes "to distort the pure and clean image of the Islamic Republic in the world".
The Iranian authorities attempted to blame the death of the 26-year-old philosophy student on terrorists, outsiders and even the BBC, with a number of conspiracy theories put forward in the state-run media.
But many observers view the investigation ordered by Ahmadinejad as a tacit admission that these theories have convinced nobody.
His letter said: "I request you to order the judicial system to seriously follow up the murder case … and identify elements behind the case and inform the people of the result."
Soltan was shot on 20 June, a day after Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, had threatened protesters with "consequences" if they continued to take to the streets.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Cap and Tr8tors Can Change Vote by July 2 Deadline! Any good work they have done has been for naught. Unless they change their votes by the deadline, Wed, July 2nd, they will forever be a member of the Cap and Tr8tors.
FLASHBACK: Obama Intimately Tied To Carbon Trading Scam A combination of interesting mainstream and alternative media reports reveal compelling links between president Obama and a privately owned carbon trading group, which also has direct ties with elitist groups such as the Club of Rome and the Trilateral Commission.Boehner: Climate bill a ‘pile of s–t’ - Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) had a few choice words about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) landmark climate-change bill after its passage Friday.
The Climate Bill & ‘Carbon Trading’: Scam of The Century In 2000 and 2001, while Barack Obama served as a board member for a Chicago-based charitable foundation, he helped to fund a pioneering carbon trading exchange that is likely to fill a critical role in the controversial cap-and-trade carbon reduction scheme that President Obama is now trying to push rapidly through Congress.Polar bear expert barred by global warmists Mitchell Taylor, who has studied the animals for 30 years, was told his views ‘are extremely unhelpful’ , reveals Christopher Booker.
Alex Jones on the Infowarrior: House Passes Climate Bill Alex and Infowarrior host Jason Bermas cover the “Climate Change” bill members of the House were not allowed to read.
New York 'carbon counter' sign shows greenhouse gases in real time
video: Obama Admits Cap & Trade Will Cause Electricity Rates to Skyrocket
Figuring Out Their Place In The New Order...CNBC
Send Free Faxes - Contact Your Senators - hr2454
Obama was on board of Dir's. at foundation that funded cap & trade