Sunday, November 29, 2009
But now, the Obama administration's "Smart Power" strategy has been unmasked. The handshakes, smiles, gifts and promises of "no intervention" and "a new era" made by President Obama himself to leaders of Latin American nations last Spring at the Summit of the Americas meeting in Trinidad have unraveled and turned into cynical gestures of hypocrisy. When Obama came to power, Washington's reputation in the region was at an all-time low. The meager attempts to "change" the North-South relationship in the Americas have made things worse and reaffirmed that Kissinger's vision of control over this region is a state policy, irrespective of party affiliation or public discourse.But the Organization of American States (OAS) and Carter Center, hardly "leftist" entities, have condemned the electoral process as illegitimate and refused to send observers. So has the United Nations and the European Union, as well as UNASUR and ALBA.
Washington stands alone, with its right-wing puppet states in Colombia, Panamá, Perú, Costa Rica and Israel, as the only nations to have publicly indicated recognition of the electoral process in Honduras and the future regime. A high-level State Department official cynically declared to the Washington Post, "What are we going to do, sit for four years and just condemn the coup?" Well, Washington has sat for 50 years and refused to recognize the Cuban government. But that's because the Cuban government is not convenient for Washington. The Honduran dictatorship is.
What we are witnessing is the economic hit men of the West hard at work. This is a battle for the region. The West is trying to bring back, and or hold their grasp on what used to be called [Banana Republics]. The corporate globalized West which has already turned U.S.A. into a [Hamburger Helper Republic] wishes to continue their influence in the Southern Hemisphere.
Saturday, November 28, 2009
“Our only concern is that when US sends more troops to Afghanistan’s Helmand area, if there will be influx of militants they will be moving to Balochistan,” Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani told a Press conference.
“This is the concern that we already discussed with the US administration, that influx of militants towards Balochistan should be taken care of otherwise that can destabilise Balochistan,” said Gilani, speaking in English.
“A stable Afghanistan is in Pakistan’s interest - but at the same time we also do not want our country to be destabilised,” said Gilani. “We have asked US administration to consult us in case of any paradigm shift in the policy... so that we can formulate our strategy accordingly,” said the prime minister.
If one of the goals is to balkanize the region, including Pakistan. As i believe. Then this would make sense. Jundallah is on both sides of the borders of Iran, and Pakistan. The West, and Saudi Arabia are known to be connected to Jundallah. Balochistan is of main importance due to the port city of Gwandar. [think] Energy terminal.
This could be the beginning of more control through chaos. The next step is always controlled chaos.
The troop escalation will also be a great recruiting tool for the "Taliban"," insurgents," or what ever the catch word of the day is. Because after Dec. 1 2009, this will be Obama"s war. We will be seen in the Islamic world as an occupier that will never leave.
|Pakistan corruption amnesty expires|
An amnesty on corruption cases protecting the Pakistani president and thousands of government bureaucrats and politicians is set to expire, threatening to cause a major political crisis in the country.
Last week, a minister of state published the names of 8,041 people who have benefited from the amnesty, including Asif Ali Zardari, the president, and four cabinet ministers.
The list is connected to 3,478 cases ranging from embezzlement and abuse of power to write-offs of bank loans worth millions of dollars.
Zardari's office said the president would be prepared to fight any charges against him.
"These cases were all made by two hostile governments and they were politically motivated cases not just against the president but many other political leaders," Farahnaz Ispahani, a spokeswoman, said.Read More
I personally believe that Zardari's days are numbered. He was always known as Mr. 10%er. He is way too palsy with the West. Pakistan will not give up their nukes, nor will they want them in civilian hands that are gloved with Western over sight. We will be hearing from Musharaff very soon.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
The first Pilgrims of the first American Thanksgiving in 1621 were unusually devout – even by Puritan standards. They crossed the ocean on a conviction that "the Lord has more truth and light yet to break forth out of his holy Word," as pastor John Robinson said before they sailed from the Netherlands.
Yet the Pilgrim band that braved the Mayflower and shared deer and turkey with native Americans were also some of the most cosmopolitan and tolerant among the Puritan groups willing to brave the wilds of a new world.
Before going to Plymouth, the Mayflower group lived 11 years in the Dutch city of Leiden. Those years of exile in Leiden, where the Pilgrims worked, worshipped, and debated – amid hefty clashes of civilizations and belief in Europe – profoundly influenced their sensibilities in ways that have not been widely recognized.
The Pilgrims – unlike British Puritans who wanted to turn Massachusetts into a theocracy – sharply advocated church-state separation. They heretically believed that women should be allowed to speak in church. They were far more tolerant of other faiths and open to the idea that their theology, like all human dogma, might contain errors.
"The Pilgrims call themselves Pilgrims, and they see life on earth as a temporary stop on the way to heaven," Bangs notes in an interview. "You can't talk about Thanksgiving as something secular. They don't think in those terms. So the Pilgrims are experimenting. They will not draw from Anglican or Roman Catholic tradition. They aren't doing the English harvest festival, but a religiously formed appropriate day, using Deuteronomy and the 3rd of October in Leiden."
"The Pilgrims call themselves Pilgrims, and they see life on earth as a temporary stop on the way to heaven," Bangs notes in an interview.
I never knew i was a Pilgrim? LOL As i also believe that we are here for a temporary stop. Except that i like to call it the COSMOS, not heaven.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
A Europe united under the EU and especially NATO is to be strong enough to contain, isolate and increasingly confront Russia as the central component of U.S. plans for control of Eurasia and the world, but cannot be allowed to conduct an independent foreign policy, particularly in regard to Russia and the Middle East. European NATO allies are to assist Washington in preventing the emergence of "the most dangerous scenario...a grand coalition of China, Russia, and perhaps Iran" such as has been adumbrated since in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.Four years after the publication of The Grand Chessboard, Brzezinski's recommended chess move was made: The U.S. and NATO invaded Afghanistan and expanded into Central Asia where Russian, Chinese and Iranian interests converge and where the basis for their regional cooperation existed, and Western military bases were established in the former Soviet republics of Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, where they remain for the indefinite future.
Two months after the end of the Soviet Union then U.S. Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Paul Wolfowitz and his deputy in the Pentagon, Lewis Libby, authored what became known as the Defense Planning Guidance document for the years 1994–99. Some accounts attribute the authorship to Libby and Zalmay Khalilzad under Wolfowitz's tutelage.
Afghan-born Khalilzad is a fellow alumnus of Wolfowitz at the University of Chicago and worked under him in the Ronald Reagan State Department starting in 1984. From 1985-1989 he was the Reagan administration's special adviser on the proxy war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan and on the Iran-Iraq war. In the first capacity he coordinated the Mujahideen war against the government of Afghanistan waged from Pakistan along with Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency Robert Gates, now U.S. Secretary of Defense. (Gates has a doctorate degree in Russian and Soviet Studies, as does his former colleague the previous U.S. secretary of state Condoleezza Rice.)
The main recipient of U.S. arms and training within the Mujahideen coalition during those years was Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, whose still extant armed group Hezb-e-Islami assisted in driving American troops out of Camp Keating in Afghanistan's Nuristan province this October. Hekmatyar remains in Afghanistan heading the Hezb-e-Islami and top U.S. and NATO military commander General Stanley McChrystal in his Commander's Initial Assessment of September - which called for a massive increase in American troops for the war - identified the party as one of three main insurgent forces that as many as 85,000 U.S. and thousands of NATO reinforcements will be required to fight.
The Wolfowitz-Libby-Khalilzad Defense Planning Guidance prototype appeared in the New York Times on March 7, 1992 and to demonstrate that the end of the Soviet Union and the imminent fall of the Afghan government (Hekmatyar and his allies would march into Kabul two months later) affected U.S. policy toward Russia not one jot contained these passages:
"Our first objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival, either on the territory of the former Soviet Union or elsewhere, that poses a threat on the order of that posed formerly by the Soviet Union. This is a dominant consideration underlying the new regional defense strategy and requires that we endeavor to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to general global power."
"We continue to recognize that collectively the conventional forces of the states formerly comprising the Soviet Union retain the most military potential in all of Eurasia; and we do not dismiss the risks to stability in Europe from a nationalist backlash in Russia or efforts to reincorporate into Russia the newly independent republics of Ukraine, Belarus, and possibly others....We must, however, be mindful that democratic change in Russia is not irreversible, and that despite its current travails, Russia will remain the strongest military power in Eurasia and the only power in the world with the capability of destroying the United States."
In its original and revised versions the 46-page Defense Planning Guidance document laid the foundation for what would informally become known as the Wolfowitz Doctrine and later the Bush Doctrine, indistinguishable in any essential manner from the Blair, alternately known as Clinton, Doctrine enunciated in 1999: That the U.S. (with its NATO allies) reserves the unquestioned right to employ military force anywhere in the world at any time for whichever purpose it sees fit and to effect "regime change" overthrows of any governments viewed as being insufficiently subservient to Washington and its regional and global designs.
Five years later former Carter administration National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, who launched the Afghan Mujahideen support project in 1978 and worked with Khalilzad at Colombia when the latter was Assistant Professor of Political Science at the university's School of International and Public Affairs from 1979 to 1989 and Brzezinski headed the Institute on Communist Affairs, wrote an article called "A Geostrategy for Eurasia."
It was in essence a precis of his book of the same year, The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy And It's Geostrategic Imperatives, and was published in Foreign Affairs, the journal of the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations.
By Syed Saleem Shahzad
ISLAMABAD - In an attempt to lend popular support to the United States-led "war on terror", London and Washington orchestrated the victory of secular and liberal political forces in Pakistan. A deal between then-president General Pervez Musharraf and former premier Benazir Bhutto was agreed on which resulted in the promulgation of the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO).
Two years later, blowback from this deal threatens to throw the civilian government into chaos, at the very time it is fighting to establish a new operational control over the country's nuclear arsenal, and while a major offensive is being waged against militants in the tribal areas.
The NRO, issued on October 5, 2007, granted amnesty to politicians, political workers and bureaucrats who were accused of corruption, embezzlement, money-laundering, murder and terrorism between January 1, 1986 and October 12, 1999. Two of the main beneficiaries were Bhutto and her husband, the current president, Asif Ali Zardari. Bhutto, who had been living in exile, then returned to the country as presumptive prime minister, but she was assassinated in December 2007.
Crucially, the NRO expires on November 28, exposing the hundreds of politicians and bureaucrats who took advantage of it to legal action. The Ministry of Law has issued a list of those affected, and it runs from the president to senior members of the cabinet and diplomats.
The original instigators of the deal, Western capitals, are silent spectators now while Pakistan's military establishment (mis)reads the situation in the perspective of a withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan. It is preparing a contingency plan under which all the major players in the Taliban-led insurgency will be invited for talks.
The army has already approached powerful commanders in the Lashkar-e-Zil (Shadow Army) section of the Afghan resistance. The message is that in the event of a withdrawal of foreign troops, the Pakistan military should be viewed as a friend, as it is in no way opposed to the Muslim resistance.
The message was sent to al-Qaeda through commander Ilyas Kashmiri, and to Gulbuddin Hekmatyar through his commanders, Abdul Ghafour, Sirajuddin Haqqani and Hakeemullah Mehsud. The message referenced a recent statement by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, "I have offered London as a venue in January. I want that conference to chart a comprehensive political framework within which the military strategy can be accomplished. It should identify a process for transferring district by district to full Afghan control and set a timetable for transfer starting in 2010."
Militant sources who spoke to Asia Times Online interpreted Brown's speech as an indication that international support for the "war on terror" is waning and that it would not be possible for the US to operate alone.
A perception of this wavering has also influenced the Pakistani military. An armed forces spokesperson claimed recently that the army had reached the headquarters of the Pakistani Taliban in South Waziristan after a month-long campaign, and taken control of all key positions. The next step, under pressure from the US, was to have been to move into neighboring North Waziristan, the purported headquarters of al-Qaeda and the largest Taliban-led group, the Haqqani network.
However, the military, given the signals coming out of Britain, Italy, France and Canada, and the dithering of US President Barack Obama over sending more troops to Afghanistan, is not prepared at this point to extend its operations.
The Pakistani military, along with their ISI are old hands at playing the AF/PAK chess game. Not much will get by them. Seems they are playing both sides as usual. They can not look too Western, while at the same time they have to keep the "insurgents "in line. So the question must be asked. Who are the insurgents. It is after all their country.
‘We have started ‘engagement’ with the Afghan Taliban and are hopeful that our efforts will bear fruit,’ a source involved in secret negotiations told this correspondent.
He said that four ‘major neutral players’ were engaged with the Afghan Taliban on behalf of the Saudi leadership and the General Intelligence Directorate (GID) of Saudi Arabia and the Pakistani leadership and Inter Services Intelligence (ISI).
The GID and ISI have been doing the job on behalf of the US government and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The source said that one of the main objectives of the recent visit to Pakistan by CIA chief Leon Panetta was to assess progress in the back-channel negotiations.
The source said that four leaders were playing the role of mediators on behalf of the Saudis and the Afghan Taliban.
Among them is Abdullah Anas, a son-in-law of Osama bin Laden’s mentor Abdullah Azzam who was killed in Peshawar in 1989 along with his two sons. Anas lives in the UK, but maintains close links with the Afghan Taliban and even Al Qaida.
Saudi national Abul Hassan Madni, once a prominent leader of Rabta-i-Alam-i-Islami, has also been in the picture. He lives in Madina.
Abu Jud Mehmood Samrai, an Iraqi who is married to a Pakistani woman, has also been contacted. He was given Pakistani nationality by former president Ziaul Haq for his role in the Afghan war.
Maulana Fazlur Rehman Khalil, a Pakistani militant leader, is also in the loop. Khalil, who co-founded the Harkatul Ansar, currently heads Hizbul Mujahideen.
He had signed the famous decree issued by Osama bin Laden and Ayman Al Zawahiri in 1998 calling for killing the Americans. Khalil commands respect among both Pakistani and Afghani Taliban and is said to have played a secret mediatory role with Pakistani authorities for peace in the country.Reliable sources also told Dawn that Mullah Umar, the chief of Afghan Taliban, has nominated his shadow foreign minister, Agha Motasam, to negotiate with the Americans. They said that talks held so far were of a preliminary nature, but may resume on a serious note after Eid.
Could this be an EXIT strategy, [Peace with Honor]? Many of the same players seem to be coming to the table. The west will have to understand that their kind of democracy does not, and will not work in the region. Sharia [laws from god] will prevail over [man made laws].
Sunday, November 22, 2009
President John F.Kennedy,
The Federal Reserve
And Executive Order 11110
by Cedric X
From The Final Call, Vol. 15, No.6, On January 17, 1996
On June 4, 1963, a little known attempt was made to strip the Federal Reserve Bank of its power to loan money to the government at interest. On that day President John F. Kennedy signed Executive Order No. 11110 that returned to the U.S. government the power to issue currency, without going through the Federal Reserve. Mr. Kennedy's order gave the Treasury the power "to issue silver certificates against any silver bullion, silver, or standard silver dollars in the Treasury." This meant that for every ounce of silver in the U.S. Treasury's vault, the government could introduce new money into circulation. In all, Kennedy brought nearly $4.3 billion in U.S. notes into circulation. The ramifications of this bill are enormous.
With the stroke of a pen, Mr. Kennedy was on his way to putting the Federal Reserve Bank of New York out of business. If enough of these silver certificats were to come into circulation they would have eliminated the demand for Federal Reserve notes. This is because the silver certificates are backed by silver and the Federal Reserve notes are not backed by anything. Executive Order 11110 could have prevented the national debt from reaching its current level, because it would have given the gevernment the ability to repay its debt without going to the Federal Reserve and being charged interest in order to create the new money. Executive Order 11110 gave the U.S. the ability to create its own money backed by silver.
After Mr. Kennedy was assassinated just five months later, no more silver certificates were issued. The Final Call has learned that the Executive Order was never repealed by any U.S. President through an Executive Order and is still valid. Why then has no president utilized it? Virtually all of the nearly $6 trillion in debt has been created since 1963, and if a U.S. president had utilized Executive Order 11110 the debt would be nowhere near the current level. Perhaps the assassination of JFK was a warning to future presidents who would think to eliminate the U.S. debt by eliminating the Federal Reserve's control over the creation of money. Mr. Kennedy challenged the government of money by challenging the two most successful vehicles that have ever been used to drive up debt - war and the creation of money by a privately-owned central bank. His efforts to have all troops out of Vietnam by 1965 and Executive Order 11110 would have severely cut into the profits and control of the New York banking establishment. As America's debt reaches unbearable levels and a conflict emerges in Bosnia that will further increase America's debt, one is force to ask, will President Clinton have the courage to consider utilizing Executive Order 11110 and, ifso, is he willing to pay the ultimate price for doing so?
Saturday, November 21, 2009
LBJ came to office with many heavy burdens, including a war raging in South East Asia. His Presidency would be defined by how he handled it, or failed to handle it. As fate would have it, a 30 year old Bill Moyers was one of Johnson's aides and an eyewitness to the tragedy that followed that original sin.
On his Journal, Moyers went back to the historical record, to selected but revealing tapes of Johnson's own phone calls with his colleagues and appointees-yes he wiretapped himself the way Nixon did years later-and those calls showed how he agonized over whether to escalate the war, a course of action he knew could not succeed. The parallels with the present day, and the upcoming decision by President Obama to escalate the war in Afghanistan are unmistakable and undeniable.
There was the cunning LBJ boiling down the options to getting out or going in deeper, or perhaps "neutralizing" the situation with trainers and economic aid. He, of course opted for the third choice at first-just as Obama has-until it was clear it was not working and we and that our corrupt client state was losing. As his perceived options narrowed, so did his course of action.
As Republicans then demanded "victory," as the military (The Joint Chiefs) clamored for a higher draft and more troops, LBJ began to fear being accused of tucking tail and running, a big no-no in a culture in which Americans see themselves as perpetual winners, the toughest guys on the block. He could not, in his view, be the President who "lost" Vietnam the way his predecessors were accused of losing China-as if those countries were ours to lose!
And so slowly-as we saw, or rather hear, Johnson escalated, stage by stage, often on the basis of false "intelligence" as in the Tonkin Gulf incident that wasn't. Step by step, the third option was abandoned and the military option was embraced. One infusion of troops was followed by another as the war worsened with tens of thousands of US deaths and casualties and millions of Asian victims.
Trapped by his own limited logic, and cautiously pragmatic style. LBJ gave up his principles, compromised on his convictions, and his "Great Society" and Presidency became a disaster. He later quit politics, a broken man.
Will it happen again? FROM THE TRANSCRIPT: Go online to LISTEN to the actual calls.This program is being repeated on SUNDAY NIGHT. I think at 7. Check local listings YOU ALSO CAN WATCH IT ON LINE RIGHT NOW AT PBS.ORG Please watch it as you have watched few other shows. Let us urge Barack Obama to watch it too. Remember history repeats itself as farce.
Any one who does not see the comparison between Nam and Afghanistan at this moment in histrory, is not looking at the bigger picture, and should definately watch this program. I was glad i caught this program last night. I intend on watching it a few more times. The conversations, and his tone of voice was very revealing. It is not only about what was, but also about what could have been. Not much has changed between then and now. Politics, and the American Corpotocracy was the deciding factor. In the next few weeks Obama will make his decision, or should i say? The decision will be made for him? Lets hope and pray he looks for an EXIT plan, not an escalation plan.
If any one watches the program i would very much appreciate their feed back. Especially if they are from the NAM ERA.
Friday, November 20, 2009
U.S. Senator John Mc Cain predicted an allied win in Afghanistan in one year to 18 months if sufficient troops are sent, as the White House mulls sending tens of thousands of reinforcements.
But he said that timeline is threatened by US President Barack Obama's delay in rolling out a new Afghanistan strategy.
"I am absolutely convinced and totally confident that with sufficient resources we can turn the situation around," McCain told reporters at an international defense summit in easternmost Canada.
"I even am bold enough to predict that in a year to 18 months you will see success if the effort is sufficiently resourced and there is a commitment to get the job done before setting a date to leave the region," he said.
But he added that many US lawmakers are "impatient with the delay in the decision-making process," which is fuelling allies' ambivalence about the mission.
MC Insane is one of my Corpocratic senators. sob, sob. Here he is once again beating the war drums. Advocating surges that were in reality bribes for the Sunni Awakening in Iraq. He is a WARLORD with a legislative pen.
Military experiment seeks to predict PTSD
Associated Press - November 20, 2009 7:35 AM ET
TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. (AP) - A military experiment in California is meant to try to predict who's most at risk for post-traumatic stress disorder.
Earlier this year, a quarterly publication from a national PTSD center found that studies to date had looked at only "a narrow band of the potential risk and resilience predictors."
Select Marine and Army units are undergoing a battery of physical and mental tests before deployment including genetic testing, brain imaging and stress exams. They are followed in war zones and upon return.
Similar research is ongoing at the University of Texas at Austin.
Scientists have collected detailed health data from 178 soldiers from Fort Hood who recently came back from Iraq. The post was the scene of a Nov. 5 massacre blamed on an Army psychiatrist. The gunfire killed 13 people and left 29 wounded.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
So, Let me Guess ... Is Dr. Obvious going to be heading up the research ? Let me add my $.02 and give them a head start:
I can predict with some certainty that whenever you send someone into combat or related roles that expose someone to "shock & awe," those people are likely to "contract" PTSD. Without spending all that time, effort, & money; I just solved the problem ... Case closed .... Now, let's figure out why we continue to bloodlust with combating an Ideology (terrorism) ad infineum; thereby, continuing to expose our military to needless PTSD situations?
Thursday, November 19, 2009
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. defense spending in coming years must rise roughly 6 percent on average from the record sum sought by President Barack Obama this year just to meet current plans, Congress's budget office said Wednesday.
An average of $567 billion would be needed annually, in constant 2010 dollars, from 2011 to 2028, not including any war funding, the nonpartisan estimated.
This is about 6 percent more than the bumper $534 billion requested in the base fiscal 2010 Defense Department budget, Matthew Goldberg, CBO's acting assistant director, told the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee.
"CBO projects that carrying out the plans proposed in the president's 2010 budget request ... would require defense resources averaging $567 billion annually" from 2011 to 2028 in constant terms, the analysis said.
The need for more funds to stay on the current path could squeeze top Pentagon suppliers such as Lockheed Martin Corp, Boeing Co, Northrop Grumman Corp, General Dynamics Corp, BAE Systems Plc and Raytheon Co.
Other factors could boost defense spending above CBO's projection, posing even tougher choices for decision-makers grappling with trade-offs in future defense budgets.
Obama administration officials have said they were initially assuming the base defense budget, excluding war-related funding, would be essentially flat for the next five years. In other words, they have been shooting for growth only enough to cover inflation, or zero real growth.
TOYS FOR BOYZ are getting expensive. Never ending war, more weapons of mass destruction. How many times do we need to blow up the planet? Who will be our next designated enemy? Just who is it that we are protecting? The WAR MACHINE must be fed.
On Oct. 28, President Barack Obama signed the 2010 Defense Authorization Act, the largest military budget in U.S. history.
It is not only the world's largest military budget but is larger than the military expenditures of the whole rest of the world combined. And it is growing nonstop. The 2010 military budget--which doesn't even cover many war-related expenditures--is listed as $680 billion. In 2009 it was $651 billion and in 2000 was $280 billion. It has more than doubled in 10 years.
What a contrast to the issue of health care!
The U.S. Congress has been debating a basic health care plan--which every other industrialized country in the world has in some form--for more than six months. There has been intense insurance company lobbying, right-wing threats, and dire warnings that a health care plan must not add one dime to the deficit.
Yet in the midst of this life-and-death debate on medical care for millions of working and poor people who have no health coverage, a gargantuan subsidy to the largest U.S. corporations for military contracts and weapons systems--a real deficit-breaker--is passed with barely any discussion and hardly a news article.
Physicians for a National Health Program estimates that a universal, comprehensive single-payer health plan would cost $350 billion a year, which would actually be the amount saved through the elimination of all the administrative costs in the current private health care system--a system that leaves out almost 50 million people.
Compare this to just the cost overruns each year in the military budget. Even President Obama on signing the Pentagon budget said, "The Government Accountability Office, the GAO, has looked into 96 major defense projects from the last year, and found cost overruns that totaled $296 billion." (whitehouse.gov, Oct. 28)
Harry Madoff's $50-billion Ponzi scheme, supposedly the biggest rip-off in history, pales in comparison. Why is there no criminal inquiry into this multibillion-dollar theft? Where are the congressional hearings or media hysteria about $296 billion in cost overruns? Why are the CEOs of the corporations not brought into court in handcuffs?
The cost overruns are an integral part of the military subsidy to the largest U.S. corporations. They are treated as business as usual. Regardless of the party in office, the Pentagon budget grows, the cost overruns grow and the proportion of domestic spending shrinks.
We did not hear too much debate over our never ending military budget now did we? Why? Because the [MIC] keeps feeding our congress so our congress has to keep feeding the [MIC]. It is a game they play. IT is the game of tag, and hide and seek all in one. They consider it patriotic to provide the purse strings for wars of choice, or self proclaimed war of [necessity]. But, try and help your fellow human instead of trying to kill them. Then they turn into sheep for the Corps. The system is broken. The ideals are gone, the beacon on the hill is now dimly lit candle. We can not even properly care for our own soldiers that come home broken after 3-4-5- tours. The fog of war is descending on our own country. It is a mist of greed for the [MIC], the Corps, and the Banksters. . And a pool of blood sweat and tears for its citizens.
Representative John Conyers Jr., Democrat of Michigan and the second-most senior member of the House, today ripped into President Obama and Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, accusing them of "bowing down" to "nutty right-wing" proposals just to get a health care bill passed.
"I'm getting tired of saving Obama's can in the White House," Mr. Conyers, one of the most liberal members of the House and chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said in a radio interview on "The Bill Press Show."
"I mean, he only won by five votes in the House, and this bill wasn't anything to write home about," Mr. Conyers said of the health care legislation that the House passed on Nov. 7. "The public option is only available - which is the only way you manage cost and give some competition to 1,300 other health insurance companies - the only way he could have got that through is that progressives held their nose and voted for the plan anyway."
Mr. Conyers also complained that the idea of a single-payer system had been "taken off the table from the beginning."
Asked if the president had shown enough leadership on health care, Mr. Conyers said, "Of course not, of course not."
"You know," he added, "holding hands out, and beer on Friday nights in the White House, and bowing down to every nutty right-wing proposal about health care, and saying on occasion that public options aren't all that important, is doing a disservice to the Barack Obama that I first met, who was an ardent single-payer enthusiast himself."
In the interview, Mr. Press said Democrats were saying that they feared the president would "just sign anything."
Mr. Conyers agreed, saying "that's essentially what Rahm Emmanuel has said," adding that he was tired of his approach of "give us anything and we will declare victory."
"But look," Mr. Conyers concluded, "the bill doesn't go into effect for three years. Many of the people that we are trying to help will be dead by then."
When the interview was over, Mr. Press said to his audience, "He's in rare form this morning.
Finally some one comes out and says it like it is. The Dems have shown their weakness [political correctness] too many times. Like George Carlin used to say " i do not want to be cute with them, i want to crush them." The Democratic non- leadership should have listened to Carlin. Instead they are appeasing every Republican-Corpocratic move. Shame on the Dems for not standing up to the weak and inhumane opposition. And shame on them for not punishing their own, for not going along. YES, i am advocating that the Dems should ram this legislation down their effen throats. Let the country see where they all stand, when it comes to the welfare of their citizens. This should have been a medi-care program for one and all right out of the gate. Instead of this convoluted legislation that was co-authored by the Corps. and Pharma. Three years to wait for what. I will be gone by then.
Geithner said the Chinese government has indicated that it plans to allow its currency to be set by market forces and he predicted that it would not be long before China resumes allowing the yuan to rise in value.
Geithner was on Capitol Hill pushing Congress to move quickly in overhauling the nation's badly flawed financial rules, which he says is essential for the health of the economy.
"To ensure the vitality, the strength and the stability of our economy going forward, we must bring our system of financial regulation into the 21st century," Geithner testified.
The House Financial Services Committee and the Senate Banking Committee are working on their own versions of sweeping financial overhaul plans, but the two panels are taking divergent approaches in some areas.
Both proposals also face sharp opposition from major sectors in the financial industry, casting doubt on how quickly Congress will be able to reach agreement and send a finished bill to the White House.
Geithner said the administration wants to ensure that firms won't be able to escape or avoid oversight by shopping for the most lenient regulator, a situation critics say contributed to the worst financial market crisis in seven decades.
"The fact that investment banks like Bear Stearns or Lehman Brothers or other large firms like AIG could escape meaningful consolidated federal supervision simply by virtue of their legal form should be considered unthinkable from now on," Geithner said.
The administration also wants to see Congress work to ensure that the financial system as a whole is more capable of absorbing shocks and coping with failures. That will require putting a greater focus on the quality of capital that firms are allowed to hold, Geithner said.
Capital reserves are the cushion financial firms carry to absorb loses.
Here is what got my attention."To ensure the vitality, the strength and the stability of our economy going forward, we must bring our system of financial regulation into the 21st century," Geithner testified.
Who wrote that staement ? Was it Geithner, Kissinger, Soros, or an ASEAN Finance minister? Could this be the New Era of American finances. Since we are toxic to the world. Perhaps the world told us we have to go through de-tox. lol
By Leon Mangasarian
Nov. 19 (Bloomberg) -- Belgian Prime Minister Herman Van Rompuy has been chosen as the first European Union president, Agence France-Presse reported citing unnamed diplomats.Last Updated: November 19, 2009 14:22 EST
Is this a mind set change for Europe? Did Blair carry too much baggage ? For me the question is not why Van Rompuy was chosen, but why Blair was not chosen.
I’ve been thinking a lot about what kinds of benefits we enjoy from having large banks. Economics of Contempt has a post arguing that the benefit comes from big banks being able to keep big books, and thus increase liquidity:
You need a very large and diverse balance sheet to be a market-maker in fixed-income products—government securities, investment grade corporate bonds, high-yield bonds, mortgage-backed securities, bank and secured loans, consumer ABS, distressed debt, emerging market bonds, etc. Dealers hold inventories of all these securities because they need to remain “ready and willing” to sell, and because when they buy a security from a client, they need to hold it in inventory until a buyer for the security appears. Dealers are exposed to price movements for the period they hold the security in inventory, and because inventories can grow large in a short amount of time, sharp price movements can result in substantial losses for dealers.
So dealers hedge. Constantly. The cheapest way for dealers to hedge is internally
A few points:
1. This is exactly the argument you would make defending Fannie Mae (FNM) and the rest of the GSEs during the early and mid parts of the 2000s. I’m trying to find a good statement of this; here is Fannie critic Peter Wallison talking about arguments the GSEs have made:
What, then, are the arguments advanced by the GSEs? Freddie Mac has been circulating on Capitol Hill a lobbying document that one should assume contains the best case the GSEs can make for retaining large portfolios of mortgages and MBS….1. The accumulation of large portfolios adds liquidity and stability to the secondary mortgage market.
2. As far as I understand it, and if I’m wrong I’ll take back the point, but the largest banks don’t provide much liquidity in terms of NASDAQ stocks. There’s not much profit in it, and the market does a great job of handling those liquidity needs itself.
One reason is that it’s a market with easy access, allowing those with market power to be dwindled away by market competition. Electronic access has helped, but so has applied finance research (that Christie/Schultz is one of my top 5 desert island empirical finance papers) and arguments arguing where market power exists, and pressures that immediately followed in making those markets more competitive.
3. What kind of market making structure should we have? Market making by its very nature should be a transitory business. As a product’s liquidity improves, the need for a third party to act as an intermediary should diminish. Natural buyers will interact with natural sellers and the market maker role is obviated. And in transparent markets with unrestricted access, you see the profitability of market making vanish. The NASDAQ market mentioned above is one case; listed options is another.
To use an analogy that EoC uses as well, these banks were supposed to be in the moving business but they ended up in the storage business. The only reason Goldman (GS) came out relatively unscathed is because they identified the crisis earlier than the others and hedged their “storage” book. This is well played on their part, but it is something that by definition not everyone can do. Every one of the biggest banks with large storage books can’t all hedge, it goes against the very idea of liquidity. There’s only so many chairs in this game of musical chairs.
4. How deep is the liquidity actually provided by big banks? I’m under the impression, through friends and friends-of-friends, that the only time banks take down trades that have negative expectancy is when they know with a high degree of certainty that they are going to get paid back soon by the same client. They look at this as an “expense” to be recouped. A trading desk will have a “customer facilitation” book where these negative expectancy trades get dumped, but it is segregated and rigorously monitored. When a particular firm ends up on the winning side of too many trades in this book, the bank stops trading with that client, end of story. Maybe that’s just talk, but it seems reasonable to me given what I know of the specific area.
5. So where do the big banks make their profit and provide liquidity no one else can? In the OTC market. The TBTF banks don’t want (and given the times we live in, I might even say “allow”) these products to trade openly because they make excess rents by keeping the market opaque for competitors. I would love to see a study about transaction costs of trading a US convertible issue – you can’t get a bid and offer without calling a dealer, and these prices are not even firm, you can try to lift or hit but the dealer can fade – versus a comparable European warrant issue that is listed on an exchange (as many warrants are in Europe). Are there any?
I think all this talk about improved and graduated capital ratios is going to be nonsense when it comes to shrinking the largest banks. I don’t expect a ‘living will’ to be credible, even in the good times. The latest fad that is sweeping risk management circles is talk about Basel having risk quants “leaning against the risk curve” during cycles, being harder in good times and easier in bad times to try and counteract the dynamics described so perfectly in the first two large paragraphs by this excellent interfludity post. Good luck.
Here is probably where EoC and I are going to disagree. I think one concrete thing to do to take care of this problem is to push for the OTC market to be brought onto exchanges. This is a big source of profits for big banks, hedging and providing liquidity for this market. EoC might think it’s largely driven by returns to scale; I think it’s largely driven by market power and the drive to keep the market opaque. Let’s see if the small players can actually provide this liquidity for the market.
Here’s a recent email from a friend at a small trading firm:
About a year ago, several of my ex-[trading firm] colleagues and I had a conference call to discuss the likely future market structure when all the dust settled. We were all a bit excited because we assumed (spectacularly incorrectly as it turned out) that one of the earliest reforms would be to put many of these OTC products on an exchange, and then firms like [trading firm]–or in our case, a group of [trading firm] refugees–would be able to compete on an equal trading field. We know that the banks make huge spreads in trading OTC products and we were looking forward to performing our patriotic duty of competing these spreads away. It looks like it will never be. These products are intentionally structured to keep them off exchanges, and the TBTF firms lobby continuously to limit competition in what is a very profitably arena.
This site is probably read as anti-finance too often, but I seriously love the field and the work that is done. And you might read the line “performing our patriotic duty of competing these spreads away” as a bit of an ironic wink, but I take it seriously. It’s a really great thing to do, and it should be very well compensated to those who can do it. But the way to do it best is to level the playing field; standardize the OTC already, and all liquidity to come from diverse corners of the world, small firms, and those that want to keep them in check, as opposed to a super-secret list of the largest few banks. Allow the small firms of finance to actually be competitive in a real manner with the largest firms, who, as basic Ronald Coase would tell us, have a lot of internal noise and transaction costs to deal with; this is how markets are supposed to work, and this is the way competition leads us to a better place by solving problems regulators can’t.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Hu and Obama seal real deals
By Francesco Sisci
BEIJING - Both wore red ties, dark suits, and white shirts. While Chinese President Hu Jintao focused coolly on the audience, as if with no one in mind, United States President Barack Obama tilted his head to one side, watching his counterpart seemingly with warmth and attention.
So, with contrasting personal styles but almost identical apparel, on Tuesday the heads of the two nations announced, if not a wedding, then at least an engagement. Behind them lay a nine-page joint statement full of principled pledges yet devoid of specific actions.
This was the theoretical engagement that the Chinese had wanted, one that encompassed a long-term, strategic relationship. The engagement is much more important for the Chinese than any single business deal or any convergent short-term tactics.
In the document, Beijing did not obtain the "strategic partnership" (almost an alliance) that it seeks with the US, but it did earn "strategic bilateral trust". This may shroud US intentions, since it is now clear that that the US welcomes a strong and prosperous China. For Beijing, the "strategic bilateral trust" is a guarantee that the US will not try to stop China's economic and political growth by internal subversive actions or external containment.
In return for this, China recognizes US geopolitical interests in Asia, since it acknowledges the US as an Asia-Pacific power. This, in turn, means that China could be ready to support or even help American interventions in the region. This could be very important in the future, especially given the ongoing economic and political decline of Japan as a regional power.
The framework is similar to those agreed upon between the US and China with Mao Zedong and then Deng Xiaoping in the 1970s. Back then, China agreed to cooperate with America in anti-Soviet containment, and in return Washington encouraged Western investment flow to China, which first triggered and then fueled China's economic and political growth over the next few decades.
This time, the US promised cooperation in the fields of aerospace, aviation, and environmental technology - all fields with potential dual-use technology. In other words, Washington is preparing to lift (or is actually lifting) the arms embargo imposed on China after the Tiananmen crackdown in 1989. The export of such technologies to China could begin a new expansive phase for American industries that in time may pull the US out of the present recession, along the lines David Goldman and I suggested exactly one year ago (see US's road to recovery runs through Beijing, Asia Times Online, November 15, 2008).
Strategically, the US's theoretical pledges have apparently led China to make overtures on two burning issues for Washington - Iran and Afghanistan.
Chimerica lives! ! !
Looks like there is some deal making going on.
Is America playing second fiddle to China? Will China now start playing an active role in AF/PAK ? America can no longer go it alone. But at what cost? The concessions and consequences could be a game changer. Many believe that China is the role model for The New World Order. If that is true, then where does America fit it? The shadows behind the curtains are always working on their agenda. Kissinger and Soros never sleep.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Full article here
Monday, November 16, 2009
Korean model triumphs over West
By Ian Williams
The resurgence of the South Korean economy as Western countries, most notably the United States, struggle to emerge from financial crisis should put paid to long-standing criticism of the Asian country's chaebol- (or conglomerate-) based approach to growth.
In the most recent quarter, South Korea surprised even its own forecasters by achieving 3.9% annual economic growth, helped by a 4% increase in exports to China. That followed on the previous quarter's 2.6% growth, the highest in the 30-member Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
Underlining the strength of the economy, Korea's jobless rate rose in September at the slowest pace among the world's major economies - up by 0.4%, to 3.4%, compared with a year earlier, indicating its employment conditions remain relatively better than others in the face of the economic slowdown, a report from the Paris-based OECD showed on November 10. The OECD average rise was 2.3 percentage points.
Despite being a member of the OECD and of the Group of 20, nominally the successor to the Group of Eight leading industrialized nations, Korea has not really been regarded as a full member of the industrialized nations club.
For example, Korea was accepted into the OECD in 1996, yet it was only late last year, just before the global meltdown, that it was promoted from the FTSE emerging markets indices - and that was only after the admission of Israel raised some eyebrows.
Ironically, it's the aspects of Korea's business and economy that led Western business pundits to look down on it and caused reservations about its "developed" status that appear to have given the country its comparative advantage during the crisis.
The role in the economy of chaebol (or conglomerates, often family-based and with interlinked shareholdings), an emphasis on actually making things that people want, and the years of government protection and coordination on which key industries were built, now seem to be paying off.
By Chris Hedges
The collapse of the Palestinian Authority, the result of Israel’s 42-year refusal to implement a two-state solution, leaves the Palestinians no option but to unilaterally declare an independent state. Israel acted unilaterally when it announced independence in 1948. It is the Palestinians’ turn. It worked in Kosovo. It worked in Georgia. And it will work in Palestine. There are 192 member states in the United Nations and as many as 150 would recognize the state of Palestine, creating a diplomatic nightmare for Israel and its lonely ally the United States. Israel will face worldwide censure if it attempts to crush the independent state by force and very likely be subjected to the kind of divestment campaigns and boycotts that brought down the apartheid government of South Africa.
Why should there not be a Palestinian State? What is Israel so afraid of? If Israel truly wants peace then they should have no problem with this. imo; Israel does not want peace in the middle east. Their Zionist Likudnik regime wants endless chaos and expansion. How could the U.S.A. justify being against a Palestinian State? Our bought and paid for congress, [by Israel] will have a hard time explaing that to the american people.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
ISLAMABAD: Pulitzer prize winning American journalist Seymour Hersh has claimed that an elite US special forces squad which operates covertly and includes terrorism and non-proliferation experts from the US intelligence community — the Pentagon, the FBI, and the DOE — is already present in Pakistan and could well be housed in the US embassy in Islamabad.
The startling disclosure was made in Hersh’s candid interview with Pakistan’s most popular TV channel Geo News’ widely viewed current affairs programme ‘Meray Mutabiq’, hosted by Dr Shahid Masood. The programme was aired on Saturday late evening.
Seymour Hersh said that the Americans had been constituting such crack teams for various purposes and the team in question here was to deal with any eventuality including any fear of takeover by Taliban or any other ‘development’ with regard to Pakistani nukes.
Group Editor of The News Shaheen Sehbai taking part in the programme expressed the view that Musharraf’s remarks about President Asif Zardari, as attributed by Hersh, could not be casually ignored. He said it must be investigated why Musharraf accused Zardari of not being a patriot, because, according to Sehbai, Hersh had some inside information given to him in interviews with Musharraf and Zardari which he did not reveal in his report. But Sehbai said journalists always attribute information given to them by responsible people to “reliable sources” if these people ask them to refrain from quoting them directly.
Former Director General, Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan, Lt Gen Hamid Gul also participating in the programme, verified the credentials of Hersh and gave a detailed account of US presence in the sensitive areas in Pakistan. He opined that the US wanted to delegate the role of proxy super power of the region to India and for that Pakistan had to be denuclearised.
Pursuant to new powers delegated to him by Congress, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has executed an order blocking the release of photos depicting the torture of detainees. In doing so, it becomes highly unlikely that the Supreme Court will further consider making the photos public, as a lower court had ordered.
In a new supplemental brief [PDF link] filed with the high court, the administration's attorneys argue that the new law Congress passed to allow Gates this authority effectively exempts the photos from the Freedom of Information Act, therefore invalidating an earlier lawsuit.
"It now seems likely that today's action will put an end to the issue, making it unnecessary for the court to hear the case," MSNBC reported.
The American Civil Liberties Union, which sought the photos' release, had urged Secretary Gates to release the photos. In an open letter [PDF link], the ACLU said the images must be seen because they show the "pervasiveness" of abuse across Iraq and Afghanistan and that it was "aberrational."
"The government has previously asserted that disclosing these photographs poses risks in part because it is a 'particularly critical time' in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan," ACLU attorneys Jameel Jaffer and Alexander A. Abdo noted at the letter's conclusion. "We accordingly ask that you review any decision to withhold any photographs every ninety days to account for changing circumstances."
Saturday, November 14, 2009
The CIA has funneled hundreds of millions of dollars to Pakistan's intelligence service since the Sept. 11 attacks, accounting for as much as one-third of the foreign spy agency's annual budget, current and former U.S. officials say.
The Inter-Services Intelligence agency also has collected tens of millions of dollars through a classified CIA program that pays for the capture or killing of wanted militants, a clandestine counterpart to the rewards publicly offered by the State Department, officials said.
The payments have triggered intense debate within the U.S. government, officials said, because of long-standing suspicions that the ISI continues to help Taliban extremists who undermine U.S. efforts in Afghanistan and provide sanctuary to Al Qaeda members in Pakistan.
But U.S. officials have continued the funding because the ISI's assistance is considered crucial: Almost every major terrorist plot this decade has originated in Pakistan's tribal belt, where ISI informant networks are a primary source of intelligence.
The White House National Security Council has "this debate every year," said a former high-ranking U.S. intelligence official involved in the discussions. Like others, the official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject. Despite deep misgivings about the ISI, the official said, "there was no other game in town."
The payments to Pakistan are authorized under a covert program initially approved by then- President Bush and continued under President Obama. The CIA declined to comment on the agency's financial ties to the ISI.
U.S. officials often tout U.S.-Pakistani intelligence cooperation. But the extent of the financial underpinnings of that relationship have never been publicly disclosed. The CIA payments are a hidden stream in a much broader financial flow; the U.S. has given Pakistan more than $15 billion over the last eight years in military and civilian aid.
The rise of Rimland?
By Robert M Cutler
MONTREAL - Recent energy and other developments in Southwest Asia, particularly involving Turkey, Iran and Iraq, sketch the outline of an imminent reorganization of international relations in the region. This will have knock-on effects for Eurasia as a whole and the shape of the international system in coming decades.
At the same time, it suggests new and unexpected relevance of the mid-20th century geopolitical theorist Nicolas Spykman.
A key point is the little-noticed movement towards gas imports from the Kurdish region of northern Iraq into Turkey. Industry figures from the scene now estimate that 8 billion cubic meters per year (bcm/y) will flow from the Kurdish region into the Nabucco pipeline by the time it enters service, at present forecastto be in 2016. Added to the similar amount already committed from Azerbaijan, this makes up just over half of the projected 31 bcm/y volume of the pipeline.
The agreement on gas supplies from northern Iraq follows from the visit by Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in late October to Irbil, the capital city of Iraqi Kurdistan, to open a Turkish consulate there. His delegation comprised no fewer than 70 officials and businessmen. The visit was itself a knock-on from one by a large and high-level Turkish delegation headed by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Baghdad in the middle of October, when literally dozens of cooperation agreements were signed in a wide spectrum of policy areas.
These events suggest a tentative resolution of certain instabilities in Southwest Asia that have persisted since the breakup of the Ottoman Empire nearly 100 years ago. They represent the emergent re-integration of two economies rent asunder by the division of the empire in the early 20th century, together with an incipient consolidation of the post-Cold War "Southern Corridor" for energy from the Caspian Sea region to Europe. The significance of such a development of the evolution of post-Cold War international relations in the region is clear.
Recently announced oil industry contracts have garnered the most attention in this regard, and some background helps to put these in their proper perspective.
This is a long article, with a lot of history about the region. Well worth the read. IMO.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
The New York Times today details the unbelievably sleazy story of Peter Galbraith, one of the Democratic Party's leading so-called "liberal hawks" and a generally revered Wise Man of America's Foreign Policy Community. He was Ambassador to Croatia under the Clinton administration in the mid-1990s and, in March, 2009, the Obama administration (specifically, Richard Holbrooke, Galbraith's mentor) successfully pressured the U.N. to name Galbraith as the second-in-command in Afghanistan. The NYT does a good job today of adding some important details to the story, but it was actually uncovered by Norwegian investigative journalists and reported at length a month ago in pieces such as this one by Helena Cobban. In essence, this highly Serious man has corruptly concealed vast financial stakes in the very policies and positions he has spent years advocating while pretending to be an independent expert.
These are the [chicken hawks] [neolibs] [realists] [globalists] that are lining their own pockets from the blood sweat and tears of our soldiers. It was not just Neocon republicans that are to blame for our demise in the region. It was war mongers like Galbraith, balkanizers like Holbrooke, ZBIG the RUSSIAN hater, Albright the NATO lover, and many others. They call themselves Democrats. In reality they have the same agenda.