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Mon, 05 Jun 2023
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Grand Theft Benny

ben bernanke
© Unknown

It's the biggest flim-flam in the nation's history. But, thanks to the Congressional Research Service, the scam has been exposed and the public can now get a good look at the type of swindle that passes as monetary policy.

Here's the scoop: When Fed chairman Ben Bernanke initiated the first round of Quantitative Easing (QE), the stated goal was to revive the flagging housing market by purchasing $1.25 trillion in mortgage-backed securities (MBS) from the country's biggest banks. The policy was a ripoff from the get-go. No one wanted these mortgage stinkbombs that were stitched together from subprime loans to unqualified applicants. But because the banks were already busted--and because the $700 billion TARP was barely enough to keep the ventilator running until the next bailout came through-- the Fed helped to conceal its real objectives behind an elaborate PR smokescreen. In truth, the Fed must have colluded with the banks to move the toxic assets off their books (and onto the Fed's balance sheet) with the proviso that the banks withhold foreclosed homes from the market.

By keeping the extra homes off-market, supply went down, demand went up (slightly), and housing showed signs of a rebound. The withholding of supply was synchronized with the Firsttime Homebuyers credit, which provided an $8,000 subsidy to new home buyers. This pumped up housing sales and further concealed what was really taking place, which was a gigantic transfer of public wealth to the banks in exchange for putrid assets that no one wanted. Naturally, the process kept the market from correcting and added vast numbers of foreclosed homes to the shadow inventory.


Shocker: GOP Rep. Paul Ryan Says He Also Wants to Cut 'Corporate Welfare'

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan said on Thursday he supports cutting tax breaks for the oil industry as lawmakers search for ways to battle rising gasoline prices.

In response to a question at a town hall meeting in Waterford, Wisconsin, the Republican congressman said he agreed that oil company subsidies should end.

"We're talking about reforming the safety net, the welfare system, we also want to get rid of corporate welfare," Ryan said to applause.

A video of the question and answer was posted online in a blog run by the liberal-leaning Center for American Progress Action Fund.

A spokesman for Ryan was not immediately available for comment.

A statement from his office to the Politico news organization said the House of Representatives-passed budget resolution "clearly states that as part of an overall corporate tax reform, tax loopholes and deductions for all corporations should be scaled back or eliminated entirely. That obviously includes oil companies."


Three Convicted in Terror-Related Cases Later Granted U.S. Citizenship by Obama Administration

© AP Photo/Gerald Herbert
President Barack Obama, at the White House, discusses his plans to thwart future terrorist attacks on Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2010. His remarks followed a meeting with his national security team.
Three people convicted of crimes as a result of a terrorism-related investigation by the Department of Justice (DOJ) were later naturalized as U.S. citizens by the Obama administration, according to federal auditors.

The March 2011 audit (released on April 21, 2011) by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), entitled Criminal Alien Statistics: Information on Incarcerations, Arrests and Costs, shows that three individuals were among "defendants where the investigation involved an identified link to international terrorism but they were charged with violating other statutes [not directly related to terrorism], including fraud, immigration, drugs, false statements, and general conspiracy charges," referred by DOJ as Category II terrorism-related cases.

The three individuals in question can be found in a DOJ list of unsealed terrorism-related investigations conducted from Sept. 11, 2001 through Mar. 18, 2010. There are 403 defendants on that list of which, according to the GAO, at least 43 percent were aliens--both legal (26 percent) and illegal (17 percent)--at the time they were charged with crimes.


US: Obama Administration Punishes Reporter for Using Multimedia, Then Claims They Didn't

In a pants-on-fire moment, the White House press office today denied anyone there had issued threats to remove Carla Marinucci and possibly other Hearst reporters from the press pool covering the President in the Bay Area.

Chronicle editor Ward Bushee called the press office on its fib:

Sadly, we expected the White House to respond in this manner based on our experiences yesterday. It is not a truthful response. It follows a day of off-the-record exchanges with key people in the White House communications office who told us they would remove our reporter, then threatened retaliation to Chronicle and Hearst reporters if we reported on the ban, and then recanted to say our reporter might not be removed after all.

The Chronicle's report is accurate.

If the White House has indeed decided not to ban our reporter, we would like an on-the-record notice that she will remain the San Francisco print pool reporter.

I was on some of those calls and can confirm Ward's statement.

Messy ball now firmly in White House court.


Libya: pro-Gaddafi forces cross into Tunisia

Forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi crossed into neighbouring Tunisia and fought a gun battle with Tunisian troops in a frontier town as Libya's conflict spilt beyond its borders.
Tunisian army
© Reuters
Tunisian army soldiers stand guard near overturned car which belongs to forces loyal to Gaddafi after clashes in Dehiba
Pro-Gaddafi forces fired shells into the town of Dehiba, damaging buildings and injuring at least one resident, and a group of them drove into the town in a truck, local people and a Reuters photographer in the town said.

The Libyan government troops were pursuing anti-Gaddafi rebels from the restive Western Mountains region of Libya who fled into Tunisia in the past few days after Gaddafi forces overran the border post the rebels had earlier seized.

"There were lots of clashes in the town this morning. Lots of gunshots. The Tunisian military clashed with Gaddafi's forces ... Some of Gaddafi's people were killed," said Reuters photographer Zoubeir Souissi from the town.

"There are a lot of Gaddafi's people who were injured. They are in the hospital in Dehiba," he said.

Two residents also told Reuters that shells had fallen on the town from pro-Gaddafi positions across the border in Libya.


Convicted RFK assassin says girl manipulated him

© Associated Press/File
This March 2, 2011 file photo shows Sirhan Sirhan, 66, convicted of assassinating Sen. Robert Kennedy
Los Angeles - Convicted assassin Sirhan Sirhan was manipulated by a seductive girl in a mind control plot to shoot Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, and his bullets did not kill the presidential candidate, lawyers for Sirhan said in new legal papers.

The documents filed this week in federal court and obtained by The Associated Press detail extensive interviews with Sirhan during the past three years, some done while he was under hypnosis.

The papers point to a mysterious girl in a polka-dot dress as the controller who led Sirhan to fire a gun in the pantry of the Ambassador Hotel. But the documents suggest a second person shot and killed Kennedy while using Sirhan as a diversion.

Star of David

Israel rejects Gaza war compensation

© unknown
An Israeli strike on the Gaza Strip in January 2009
Israel has refused to hear a petition by Palestinians that demanded compensation for damages inflicted to them during Israel's offensive against the Gaza Strip.

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights, representing more than 1,000 residents of the Gaza Strip, said on Thursday that courts in Israel refused to hear their demands, Ynetnews reported.

The judges wrote that demands for compensation over damage should have been filed within two years and other damages can be filed seven years after the incident.

The Palestinian group, however, said that courts are permitted to extend the statute of limitations by three additional years in such cases.


US: Auditor critical of tech fund

Rick Perry
© unknown
Rick Perry
Perry's office says some changes already made

Gov. Rick Perry's highly touted fund for aiding start-up technology companies lacks sufficient transparency and oversight and needs sweeping reform, a state audit released on Thursday concluded.

After a five-month review of the Texas Emerging Technology Fund, State Auditor John Keel found that the program does not meet many standards for being a responsible overseer of hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars.

The governor's office does only "limited monitoring of recipients' performance and expenditures of funds" and decisions are "not open to the public," Keel said.

"Issues in a number of areas impair the ability to administer the (tech fund) in the best interests of the state," the 39-page document concluded. "It is important to hold recipients of funds accountable."

Perry, in a written statement, described the auditor's report as a mixture of helpful and wrong-headed criticisms. While the fund could be improved, he said, it had been cleared of assertions of fraud or political influence because there was no mention of them in the audit.


Four protesters sentenced to death by military court in Bahrain over 'killing' of police officers

A military court in Bahrain today convicted four Shiite protesters and sentenced them to death for the killing two policemen during anti-government demonstrations last month in the Gulf kingdom, the state media said.

Three other Shiite activists, who were also on trial, were sentenced to life in prison for their role in the policemen's deaths.

The verdicts were the first related to Bahrain's uprising, which was inspired by revolts in the Arab world. The kingdom's Shiite majority has long complained of discrimination and is campaigning for greater freedoms and equal rights in the tiny Sunni-ruled island nation.
Pearl Square
© AFP/Getty Images
Black smoke billows from burning tents in Pearl Square in Bahrain's capital Manama on March 16. A military court in Bahrain today sentenced four protesters to death for the killing of two policemen during last month's anti-government protests
Faced with an unprecedented political unrest, Bahrain's king declared martial law and invited troops from Saudi Arabia and other Sunni-ruled Gulf countries to help quell Shiite dissent after weeks of street marches and sit-ins in the kingdom's capital, Manama.


Yemen security forces kill 12 in anti-regime demonstration

At least 190 injured during civil disobedience campaign held in 18 towns and cities across the country
anti-government protester
© A Yahya Arhab/EP
An anti-government protester in the capital city of Sana'a has the colours of Yemen's national flag painted on his face during a demonstration demanding the departure of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Security forces opened fire on an anti-government demonstration in the capital Sana'a, killing 12 protesters and wounding some 190, a doctor said. The violence broke out as 100,000 regime opponents filled a landmark square at the centre of the uprising, spilling into the streets around the state TV building. Yemenis in at least 18 cities and towns launched a civil disobedience campaign in an escalation of their more than two-month-long uprising to bring down president Ali Abdullah Saleh. Shops, schools and government offices were shut. The closures are planned twice weekly until Saleh steps down, activists said.

Inspired by revolts across the Arab world, Yemenis have staged near-daily protests calling for the ouster of Saleh, the country's ruler of 32 years. At times, millions have flooded the streets of the capital and other cities and towns. The president has clung to power despite the street protests and defections by many loyalists, including his tribesmen, military officers and senior officials.

Security forces and Saleh supporters have killed more than 130 people since the unrest erupted in early February.