Saturday, October 4, 2008

Pentagon Hands Iraq Oil Deal to Shell

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By Nick Turse

In June of this year, Andrew Kramer, writing in the New York Times broke the story that the world's oil giants, "Exxon Mobil, Shell, Total and BP ... along with Chevron and a number of smaller oil companies" were "in talks with Iraq's Oil Ministry for no-bid contracts to service Iraq's largest fields." Subsequently, the Times went on to report that "A group of American advisers led by a small State Department team played an integral part in drawing up contracts between the Iraqi government and five major Western oil companies ... " The Times asserted that the "disclosure" was "the first confirmation of direct involvement by the Bush administration in deals to open Iraq's oil to commercial development and is likely to stoke criticism."

In reality, there had long been ample evidence of deep involvement between the Bush administration, foreign firms and Iraq's Oil Ministry. The Times and other major media outlets also failed to expose the major financial ties between the military occupation in Iraq and the same oil giants. In fact, each of the oil giants named in the original New York Times piece -- Exxon Mobil, Shell, Total, BP, and Chevron -- regularly shows up on the Pentagon's payroll. In fact, last year, the five firms took home more than $4.1 billion from the Pentagon -- with Shell leading the way with $2.1 billion.

In September, the "criticism" the Times predicted apparently finally scuttled the no-bid deals. In a piece by Kramer and Campbell Robertson, it was reported that the "plan to award six no-bid contracts to Western oil companies, which came under sharp criticism from several United States senators this summer, ha[d] been withdrawn." The companies would, however, be eligible to bid for contracts and, just days later, it was announced that the Pentagon's favorite of the oil majors, Shell, would become the first oil giant to sign an energy deal with the Iraqi government in 35 years.

On September 22nd, the government of Iraq and Royal Dutch Shell officially signed a $4 billion deal "to establish a joint venture with [Iraq's] South Gas Company in the Basra district of southern Iraq to process and market natural gas." A day later, the Times reported that Shell had "established an office in Baghdad." From a "news conference in Baghdad's heavily guarded Green Zone," the Times quoted Linda Cook, the executive director of the Shell's gas and power unit, as saying, "We are ready to establish a presence."

While the Times didn't report it, Cook went on to say, "I am delighted that the Iraqi Government including the Ministry of Oil have supported Shell as the partner for joint venture with the South Gas Company. We look forward to moving jointly to implement the JV and begin investing in the energy infrastructure in Iraq." What the Times (and other major media outlets) also failed to mention was that guarantor of that "Green Zone" from which Cook spoke, just days before, had the inked its own huge energy deal with Shell. On September 17th, Shell was awarded a $338 million contract for aviation fuel by the Pentagon. In fact, even before this contract, Shell had already awarded over $1 billion from the Pentagon during this fiscal year. If history is any guide, it will receive billions more before fiscal 2009 starts.

The Pentagon's Shell deal came during one DoD's periodic petroleum benders -- massive multi-day spending sprees where hundreds of millions or billions of taxpayer dollars are paid out to oil companies. This one, on September 17th and 18th, netted Shell, Chevron, ConocoPhillips and seven other oil companies a grand total of over $1.5 billion.

The fact that the U.S. government secretly facilitated dealings between Shell and the Iraqi Oil Ministry for no-bid contracts; that the U.S. military -- the primary occupation force in Iraq -- regularly pays Shell billions of dollars each year; that on the heals of a contract worth hundred of millions of dollars with the U.S. military, Shell just inked a deal with the with occupied Iraq and set up an office in the U.S. military's secure "Green Zone" should raise myriad questions about the tangled relationship between the major players in Iraq. These complex issues go ignored because they are viewed as so routine as not to be worth mentioning, but in any other context the confluence of guns, oil and billions of dollars would certainly raise eyebrows.

U.S. to Fund Pro-American Publicity in Iraqi Media

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By Karen DeYoung and Walter Pincus

The Defense Department will pay private U.S. contractors in Iraq up to $300 million over the next three years to produce news stories, entertainment programs and public service advertisements for the Iraqi media in an effort to "engage and inspire" the local population to support U.S. objectives and the Iraqi government.

The new contracts -- awarded last week to four companies -- will expand and consolidate what the U.S. military calls "information/psychological operations" in Iraq far into the future, even as violence appears to be abating and U.S. troops have begun drawing down.

The military's role in the war of ideas has been fundamentally transformed in recent years, the result of both the Pentagon's outsized resources and a counterinsurgency doctrine in which information control is considered key to success. Uniformed communications specialists and contractors are now an integral part of U.S. military operations from Eastern Europe to Afghanistan and beyond.

Iraq, where hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent on such contracts, has been the proving ground for the transformation. "The tools they're using, the means, the robustness of this activity has just skyrocketed since 2003. In the past, a lot of this stuff was just some guy's dreams," said a senior U.S. military official, one of several who discussed the sensitive defense program on the condition of anonymity.

The Pentagon still sometimes feels it is playing catch-up in a propaganda market dominated by al-Qaeda, whose media operations include sophisticated Web sites and professionally produced videos and audios featuring Osama bin Laden and his lieutenants. "We're being out-communicated by a guy in a cave," Secretary Robert M. Gates often remarks.

But Defense Department officials think their own products have become increasingly imaginative and competitive. Military and contractor-produced media campaigns, spotlighting killings by insurgents, "helped in developing attitudes" that led Iraqis to reject al-Qaeda in Iraq over the past two years, an official said. Now that the insurgency is in disarray, he said, the same tools "could potentially be helpful" in diminishing the influence of neighboring Iran.

U.S.-produced public service broadcasts and billboards have touted improvements in government services, promoted political reconciliation, praised the Iraqi military and encouraged Iraqi citizens to report criminal activity. When national euphoria broke out last year after an Iraqi singer won a talent contest in Lebanon, the U.S. military considered producing an Iraqi version of "American Idol" to help build nonsectarian nationalism. The idea was shelved as too expensive, an official said, but "we're trying to think out of the box on" reconciliation.

One official described how part of the program works: "There's a video piece produced by a contractor . . . showing a family being attacked by a group of bad guys, and their daughter being taken off. The message is: You've got to stand up against the enemy." The professionally produced vignette, he said, "is offered for airing on various [television] stations in Iraq. . . . They don't know that the originator of the content is the U.S. government. If they did, they would never run anything."

"If you asked most Iraqis," he said, "they would say, 'It came from the government, our own government.' "

The Pentagon's solicitation for bids on the contracts noted that media items produced "may or may not be non-attributable to coalition forces." "If they thought we were doing it, it would not be as effective," another official said of the Iraqis. "In the Middle East, they are so afraid they're going to be Westernized . . . that you have to be careful when you're trying to provide information to the population."

The Army's counterinsurgency manual, which Gen. David H. Petraeus co-wrote in 2006, describes information operations in detail, citing them among the "critical" military activities "that do not involve killing insurgents." Petraeus, who became the top U.S. commander in Iraq early last year, led a "surge" in combat troops and information warfare.

Some of the new doctrine emerged from Petraeus's own early experience in Iraq. As commander of the 101st Airborne Division in northern Nineveh province in 2003, he ensured that war-ravaged radio and television stations were brought rapidly back on line. At his urging, the first TV programs included "Nineveh Talent Search" and a radio call-in show hosted by his Arabic interpreter, Sadi Othman, a Palestinian American.

Othman, a former New York cabdriver employed by Reston-based SOS International, remained at Petraeus's side during the general's subsequent Iraq deployments; the company refers to him as a senior adviser to Petraeus.

SOSi has been one of the most prominent communications contractors working in Iraq, winning a two-year $200 million contract in 2006 to "assist in gathering information, conducting analysis and providing timely solutions and advice regarding cultural, religious, political, economic and public perceptions."

"We definitely believe this is a growth area in the DOD," said Julian Setian, SOSi's chief operating officer. "We are seeing more and more requests for professional assistance in media-related strategic communications efforts, specifically in gauging of perceptions in foreign media with regard to U.S. operations."

The four companies that will share in the new contract are SOSi, the Washington-based Lincoln Group, Alexandria-based MPRI and Leonie Industries, a Los Angeles contractor. All specialize in strategic communications and have done previous defense work.

Defense officials maintained that strict rules are enforced against disseminating false information. "Our enemies have the luxury of not having to tell the truth," Undersecretary of Defense Eric Edelman told a congressional hearing last month. "We pay an extremely high price if we ever even make a slight error in putting out the facts."

Contractors require security clearances, and proof that their teams possess sufficient linguistic abilities and knowledge of Iraqi culture. The Iraqi government has little input on U.S. operations, although U.S. officials say they have encouraged Iraqis to be more aggressive in molding public support.

The Pentagon is sensitive to criticism that it has sometimes blurred the lines between public-affairs activities and unattributed propaganda. As information operations in Iraq expanded, some senior officers warned that they risked a return to psychological and deception operations discredited during the Vietnam War.

In 2006, the Pentagon's inspector general found that media work that the Lincoln Group did in Iraq was improperly supervised but legal. The contractor had prepared news items considered favorable to the U.S. military and paid to place them in the Iraqi media without attribution. Then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld told reporters that his initial reaction to the anonymous pay-to-publish program was "Gee, that's not what we ought to be doing."

On Aug. 21, the day before bids on the new contract were closed, the solicitation was reissued to replace repeated references to information and psychological operations with the term "media services."

Senior military officials said that current media placement is done through Iraqi middlemen and that broadcast time is usually paid. But they said they knew of no recent instance of payment to place unattributed newspaper articles. The officials maintained that news items are now a minor part of the operation, which they said is focused on public service promotions and media monitoring.

But a lengthy list of "deliverables" under the new contract proposal includes "print columns, press statements, press releases, response-to-query, speeches and . . . opinion editorials"; radio broadcasts "in excess of 300 news stories" monthly and 150 each on sports and economic themes; and 30- and 60-minute broadcast documentary and entertainment series.

Contractors will also develop and maintain Web sites; assess news articles in the Iraqi, U.S. and international media; and determine ways to counter coverage deemed negative, according to the contract solicitation the government posted in May. Polls and focus groups will be used to monitor Iraqi attitudes under a separate three-year contract totaling up to $45 million.

While U.S. law prohibits the use of government money to direct propaganda at U.S. audiences, the "statement of work" included in the proposal, written by the U.S. Joint Contracting Command in Iraq, notes the need to "communicate effectively with our strategic audiences (i.e. Iraqi, pan-Arabic, International, and U.S. audiences) to gain widespread acceptance of [U.S. and Iraqi government] core themes and messages."

Lawmakers have often challenged the propriety of the military's information operations, even when they take place outside the United States. The Pentagon itself has frequently lamented the need to undertake duties beyond combat and peacekeeping, and Gates has publicly questioned the "creeping militarization" of tasks civilians traditionally perform.

In 2006, President Bush put the State Department in charge of the administration's worldwide "strategic communications," but the size of the military's efforts dwarf those of the diplomats. State estimates it will spend $5.6 million on public diplomacy in Iraq in fiscal 2008. A provision in the fiscal 2009 Defense Authorization Bill has called for a "close examination" of the State and defense communications programs "to better formulate a comprehensive strategy."

Some inside the military itself have questioned the effectiveness of the defense program. "I'm not a huge fan" of information operations, one military official said, adding that Iraqi opinions -- as for most people -- are formed more by what they experience than by what they read in a newspaper, hear on the radio or see on billboards.

"A lot of money is being thrown around," he said, "and I'm not sure it's all paying off as much as we think it is."

Neocon Desperation Is Showing

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By Robert Parry

The neoconservatives and their Republican allies did all they could after Thursday’s vice presidential debate to turn Sarah Palin’s peppy, personable but ultimately goofy performance into a turning point for another four-year lease on the White House.

But there was desperation in the air. Reading the neocons’ glowing reviews of Palin’s upbeat recitation of her talking points was a bit like watching a few diehard fans try to start a “wave” when the home team is hopelessly behind.

Still, try they did. Fred Barnes of the Weekly Standard wrote an article entitled “Comeback,” which read:

“The moment when Sarah Palin knew she was winning … came after the subject had turned to nuclear weapons. Palin had talked about nukes as a deterrent and said it was important to keep them out of the hands of dictators who are enemies of America. Then she turned to moderator Gwen Ifill and asked, ‘Can we talk about Afghanistan real quick?’

“Afghanistan? The impression Palin had left in television interviews with ABC’s Charles Gibson and CBS’s Katie Couric was that she was ill-equipped to discuss issues like that. … But by that point in the debate – two-thirds the way through – Palin was brimming with self-confidence. She knew she could handle any issue likely to be thrown at her by Ifill. She knew [Joe] Biden would not outmatch her. So she purposely tackled an issue on which he was expected to have an advantage. …

“She insisted the ‘surge principles’ that had proved effective in Iraq would work in Afghanistan. Biden claimed the commanding general in Afghanistan disagreed. Then Palin said, no, the general didn’t disagree, and she spelled out how ‘the counterinsurgency strategy’ favored by McCain (and her) would work.”

For all this gee-whiz boosterism, you might have expected Barnes to come dressed in a cheerleader outfit with pom-poms.

The reality of the debate, however, was quite different. When Ifill posed the question, “should there be a trigger when nuclear weapons use is ever put into play?” – Palin offered one of her chillingly sophomoric answers:

“Nuclear weaponry, of course, would be the be-all, end-all of just too many people in too many parts of our planet, so those dangerous regimes, again, cannot be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons, period. Our nuclear weaponry here in the U.S. is used as a deterrent. And that’s a safe, stable way to use nuclear weaponry.

“But for those countries – North Korea, also, under Kim Jong Il – we have got to make sure that we’re putting the economic sanctions on these countries and that we have friends and allies supporting us in this to make sure that leaders like Kim Jong Il and [Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad are not allowed to acquire, to proliferate, or to use those nuclear weapons. It is that important.”

While some Americans were still trying to get their brains around Palin’s bizarre use of the phrase “be-all, end-all” to refer to their mass incineration, the Alaska governor decided to shift back for a brief comment about Afghanistan.

She then let loose with a barrage of misinformation, starting with the slanderous canard that “Barack Obama had said that all we’re doing in Afghanistan is air-raiding villages and killing civilians. And such a reckless, reckless comment and untrue comment, again, hurts our cause.”

Palin continued, “That’s not what we’re doing there. We’re fighting terrorists, and we’re securing democracy, and we’re building schools for children there so that there is opportunity in that country, also. There will be a big difference there, and we will win in – in Afghanistan, also.”

Palin’s distortion about Obama derived from a statement that he made in 2007, calling for increased troop levels in Afghanistan so that the United States would not have to continue relying on aerial bombings that were killing civilians and angering Afghanis.

What he actually said was: "We’ve got to get the job done there and that requires us to have enough troops so that we’re not just air-raiding villages and killing civilians, which is causing enormous pressure over there." [AP, Aug. 14, 2007]

Moving On

After twisting Obama’s meaning, Palin moved on to one of her major gaffes of the night, in disputing Biden’s comment that the commanding U.S. general in Afghanistan had said an Iraq-style “surge” strategy would not work well there.

“Well, first, McClellan did not say definitively the surge principles would not work in Afghanistan,” Palin said. “The geographic differences are huge but the counterinsurgency principles could work in Afghanistan. McClellan didn’t say anything opposite of that.”

Palin’s reference to General McClellan, who was a top Union commander in the Civil War, left some listeners scratching their heads. She apparently meant General David McKiernan, who as Biden said had disputed the applicability of transferring the lessons from the Iraq “surge” to Afghanistan.

Though Barnes had tried to put some substance into his praise of Palin, other neocon writers concentrated on her style. For instance, David Brooks, a neocon columnist for the New York Times, wrote:

“It took her about 15 seconds to define her persona — the straight-talking mom from regular America — and it was immediately clear that the night would be filled with tales of soccer moms, hockey moms, Joe Sixpacks, main-streeters, ‘you betchas’ and ‘darn rights.’ Somewhere in heaven Norman Rockwell is smiling.

“With a bemused smile and a never-ending flow of words, she laid out her place on the ticket — as the fearless neighbor for the heartland bemused by the idiocies of Washington. Her perpetual smile served as foil to Biden’s senatorial seriousness.”

Yet, while Brooks may have been impressed, Palin may have reminded other viewers of a badly programmed Stepford Wife, who lacked fluency on complex issues both foreign and domestic – and kept circling back to scripted talking points that had been drilled into her brain by McCain’s neoconservative advisers, like Randy Scheunemann.

The more important question in evaluating the debate may be whether Americans – facing two open-ended wars and a major financial crisis – are looking for an updated version of George W. Bush, the proverbial regular fellow who you’d want to have a beer with, the faux populist who drops g’s from the end of gerunds and uses colloquialisms.

Palin’s “shout-out” to some Alaska school kids and other folksy chatter might have charmed some casual voters, but Palin’s casual style – masking a shallowness of knowledge – might have been unnerving to many other Americans who are in the mood for some gravitas.

In that way – contrary to the hopes of the neocon commentators – the real winner on Thursday night might have been Barack Obama, who selected the far more seasoned Biden who came across in the debate as a sage counselor or a prospective president.

Biden did get a bit tongue-tied at moments, but his mastery of policy details and his courtly manners sent a reassuring message to a nervous country.

Though Palin may not have melted down in the debate, neither did she display the experience and the knowledge to run the country.

US House backs Wall Street bailout

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By Bill Van Auken

Democrats credit Obama with shifting vote

In its second vote in five days, the US House of Representatives approved a massive bailout package for the major banks and finance houses. The legislation, passed by a vote of 263 to 171 Friday afternoon, gives US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson virtually unrestricted powers to use at least $700 billion to buy up largely worthless paper assets from Wall Street using taxpayers’ money.

The approval of the measure by a wide margin followed the defeat in the House of what was essentially a similar bill on Monday. Then, on Wednesday, the Senate approved a revised bailout package that was supplemented by nearly $150 billion in tax cuts and other measures aimed principally at winning support from the Republican right.

These revisions brought the total price tag for the package to more than $850 billion, with many predicting that it will end up being only the first installment on a continuing transfer of public wealth to the coffers of the country’s major private banks.

Bush signed the measure into law barely an hour after it cleared the House. While uncharacteristically praising Democratic congressional leaders for pushing the bailout through, Bush warned in a statement from the White House, “Americans should also expect that it will take some time for this legislation to have its full impact on our economy.”

Earlier, White House spokesman Tony Fratto, a former official in the US Treasury Department, all but acknowledged that the measure is not aimed at ameliorating the increasingly dire conditions facing millions of American working people confronted with the loss of jobs and foreclosures on their homes.

Responding to a question as to whether the bailout would affect rising unemployment—reflected in jobless figures released Friday showing another 159,000 jobs destroyed—Fratto responded: “No one should be over-promising what this bill will do. It’s not been sold as giving a boost to the economy—it’s to avoid a crisis.”

There is little evidence that the plan will accomplish even that, as was reflected in the continuing fall of the stock market Friday and the widespread skepticism expressed by financial experts that the bailout could resolve the credit crisis.

The legislation—formally known as the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act—was first proposed by Treasury Secretary Paulson, the former CEO of Goldman Sachs, which will be one of the act’s prime beneficiaries. While proposed by the administration, the bailout became law thanks principally to the efforts of the Democratic leadership in Congress, which became its main political sponsor.

In Friday’s vote, Democrats supported the measure by nearly a three-to-one margin, with 172 voting in favor and 63 against. The Republicans opposed the measure introduced by their own administration by a margin of 108 to 91.

In a press conference held immediately after the vote, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank and other members of the Democratic House leadership engaged in a round of mutual back-slapping while cynically proclaiming that the aim of the legislation was to protect the American people.

The bill was passed not for Dow Jones, but “on behalf of Mr. and Mrs. Jones of Main Street,” declared Pelosi.

In reality, the bailout is aimed at shifting the full burden of the meltdown of the capitalist financial system onto the backs of working people, while providing a windfall to the wealthiest interests in the country.

The claims by the Democratic leadership of “improvements” in the bill are fraudulent. In all essentials, it is the same plan as that presented by Paulson in closed-door meetings with congressional leaders two weeks ago.

Following the bill’s defeat in the House on Monday, the strategy used to ensure its passage was to offer concessions to the Republican right in the form of tax cuts, mostly benefiting corporate interests, and other measures aimed at bolstering the balance sheets of the banks at taxpayer expense.

Attempts by Democratic opponents of the original measure to attach provisions to the bill providing aid to families facing foreclosure on their homes were rejected by the Democratic leadership as impermissible.

The attitude of the Democratic leaders to the broad and deep-felt popular opposition to the bailout was one of utter indifference. Many spoke of their repudiation of the will of the American people as a hallmark of true leadership.

The events of the past week have provided the clearest confirmation that the Democratic Party is completely subservient to big business and the financial oligarchy. This was underscored by the role of the party’s presidential nominee, Senator Barack Obama, who returned to Washington on Wednesday to cast his own ballot in favor of the bailout and lobbied to shift the votes of a number of House Democrats.

On Thursday, Obama held a conference call with a group of freshmen Democratic House members to press them to support the bill. He reportedly made a strong pitch to members of the Congressional Black Caucus—which accounted for a dozen of the changed votes.

On Friday, a number of the 32 Democratic representatives who switched their votes to support the legislation cited Obama’s appeal in explaining their decision.

Congressman John Yarmuth of Kentucky declared that he still “hates the bill,” but said he was convinced by a discussion with Obama to vote for it. He said the candidate had assured him that “he does not view [the bailout] as the end of road.”

Others said that Obama had promised he would seek to advance social measures, including revisions in bankruptcy laws, if and when he enters the White House in January. Appearing on CNN Friday morning, Representative Jesse Jackson, Jr. invoked the plight of people in his district facing foreclosure on their homes and then indicated that Obama had convinced him to change his vote. Asked whether the Democratic presidential candidate had promised him that he would enact legislation to halt foreclosures, Jackson acknowledged that he had not.

In reality, the handover of hundreds of billions of dollars in public funds to Wall Street will preclude the use of those funds to aid working people. If he is elected in November, the legislation that Obama has helped to pass will in large measure set the agenda for his administration. It will be one of harsh austerity, budget cuts and attacks on essential social services.

Also at work in the shifting of votes was a combination of cajoling and blackmail on the part of big business and the banks, which waged a massive lobbying campaign on Capitol Hill after Monday’s vote.

Republican Representative Joe Knollenberg of Michigan said that he had decided to change his vote after being contacted by a number of top auto industry executives. “I’ve never talked to so many bank presidents in my life,” he added.

The debate on the House floor on Friday was marked by duplicity and servility to big business interests. Many representatives from both parties acknowledged that they were voting for legislation that was opposed by their own constituents.

Representative Barbara Lee, who was among those saying she had been convinced by Obama to change her vote, admitted that efforts by her and others to introduce an economic stimulus package into the legislation had been quashed.

“Be honest,” she said. “We don’t know if this is the appropriate action. Some economists say yes and some economists say no.” She expressed pride that her original “no” vote had “helped to slow this bill down,” but said she now agreed with Obama that it was time to “put out the fire,” while worrying about punishing the “arsonists” later.

“I am confident that this is not the popular vote, but it is the right vote,” she concluded.

Among the Democrats voting against the measure was Rep. Brad Sherman of California—who earlier in the week reported that members of the House were warning that failure to pass the bill could result in “martial law.” In his speech to the House Friday, he made a reactionary appeal to nationalism, proclaiming that the $700 billion would go “not to save America, but to buy toxic assets currently in safes in London, Shanghai, and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.”

New York Representative Jerry Nadler, a Democrat who supported the bailout, cited his previous votes against the authorization of the Iraq war, the Patriot Act, the FISA domestic spying amendments and other legislation, in which he said Congress had been “railroaded into unwise actions through the use of fear tactics.” He added, “But I do not believe that to be the case now. Now we face a very real crisis.”

This is precisely what is happening, however. The administration has invoked the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression in an attempt to terrorize the American people into accepting the greatest transfer of public resources to the financial elite in history. The bailout will do nothing to stave off the social catastrophe that confronts millions of working people in the US and internationally. It will not protect their jobs, their pensions or their homes. Instead, it will facilitate an ever-greater concentration of wealth that can only produce a drastic deterioration of living conditions and the undermining of basic democratic rights.

Woman, 90, Shoots Self Inside Foreclosed Home

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The plight of an Ohio woman who shot herself as deputies tried evict her from her foreclosed home was part of congressional debate on the $700 billion bailout.

Addie Polk, 90, was being treated at Akron General Medical Center after shooting herself Wednesday as deputies were at her door with eviction papers, U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, said Friday during floor debate on the rescue plan for U.S. financial markets. Fannie Mae (NYSE:FNM) foreclosed Polk’s home after acquiring the mortgage in 2007.

Kucinich used Polk’s circumstances as he spoke against the rescue plan that eventually passed the U.S. House of Representatives 263-171.

"This bill does nothing for the Addie Polks of the world," Kucinich said. "This bill fails to address the fact that millions of homeowners who are facing foreclosure."

The bill, which passed the Senate Wednesday, "will take care of Wall Street," Kucinich said, "but democracy is going down here."

Robert Dillion, a neighbor, climbed a ladder to enter a second-story window in Polk’s home after he and the deputies heard the noise from inside, CNN reported.

In 2004, Polk took out a 30-year mortgage for $45,620 with a Countrywide Home Loan office in Ohio, CNN said. Polk had missed payments on her home during the next few years. In 2007 the Federal National Mortgage Association (OTCPK:FDRNP), or Fannie Mae, assumed the mortgage and later filed for foreclosure.

Akron woman, 90, facing eviction, shoots self

By Beacon Journal staff

A 90-year-old Akron woman, about to be evicted from her La Croix Avenue home for failing to pay her mortgage, apparently shot herself Wednesday while Summit County sheriff’s deputies were knocking on her door.

A neighbor and the deputies found Addie Polk in an upstairs bedroom suffering from multiple gunshot wounds to her upper body. A handgun was found near her.

She was taken to Akron General Medical Center, police said, and is expected to recover.

Akron police are investigating the incident.

A 90-year-old Akron woman, about to be evicted from her La Croix Avenue home for failing to pay her mortgage, apparently shot herself Wednesday while Summit County sheriff’s deputies were knocking on her door.

A neighbor and the deputies found Addie Polk in an upstairs bedroom suffering from multiple gunshot wounds to her upper body. A handgun was found near her.

She was taken to Akron General Medical Center, police said, and is expected to recover.

Akron police are investigating the incident.