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Thomas Paine

To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Economic Terrorism ?

The Rockfeller Center, Manhattan /5Image by Geff Rossi via Flickr
now & then
A warning we should heed
O you who believe! Let not your wealth nor your children distract you from remembrance of Allah. Those who do so, they are the losers. (Quran 63:9)

That sounded familiar

For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
Bible, Timothy 6:10 (King James Version)

Was the 'Credit Crunch' a Myth Used to Sell a Trillion-Dollar Scam?
Joshua Holland, AlterNet. Posted December 29, 2008.

The suspicion that has recently emerged that TARP -- hundreds of billions of dollars worth so far -- was sold to Congress and the public based on a Big Lie.

President George W. Bush, fabulist-in-chief, articulated the rationale for the program in that trademark way of his -- as if addressing a nation of slow-witted 12-year-olds -- on Sept. 24: "Major financial institutions have teetered on the edge of collapse ... [and] began holding onto their money, and lending dried up, and the gears of the American financial system began grinding to a halt." Bush said that if Congress didn't give Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson the trillion dollars (give or take) for which he was asking, the results would be disastrous: "Even if you have good credit history, it would be more difficult for you to get the loans you need to buy a car or send your children to college. And ultimately, our country could experience a long and painful recession."

For the most part, the press has continued to echo Bush's central assertion that there's a "credit crunch" preventing even qualified borrowers -- that's the key point -- from getting loans, and it's now part of the conventional wisdom.

But a number of economists are questionioning the factual basis of the credit crunch narrative. Columnist David Sirota recently looked at those claims and concluded that Americans "had been punk'd" -- that "the major claims about a credit crisis that justified Congress cutting a trillion-dollar blank check to Wall Street were demonstrably false," and the threat of a systemic banking crash was used by the Bush administration to overcome popular resistance to the "bailout."
Of course, no one disputes the fact that as the economy has tanked, the number of new loans being issued to American families and businesses has plummeted. But is because credit has dried up for qualified borrowers?

Economist Dean Baker doesn't think so. He explains the situation in simple terms: The media, he argues, "are blaming the economic collapse on a 'credit crunch' instead of the more obvious problem that consumers just lost $6 trillion of housing wealth and another $8 trillion of stock wealth." It's a commonsense argument: much of the economic growth of the Bush era existed on paper only, built on the rise of a massive bubble in real estate values rather than growth in productive industries. When all that ephemeral wealth vaporized -- and with the economy shedding jobs like a dog with dermatitis -- consumers stopped buying, and businesses, anticipating a long slowdown, stopped seeking the loans that they might have otherwise tapped to expand their operations.

German Wise Men fear 'credit crunch' in 2010
Germany's leading institutes have warned that the pace of economic recovery is "unsustainable" and that the country's banks may face a fresh crisis over the next year as bad debts surface in earnest.

'There is still a significant risk of further shocks to the international financial system,' said a joint report by the five 'Wise Men', a panel that advises the government.

Emergency action by the European Central Bank and authorities worldwide "averted a looming collapse" of Germany's banks over the Winter but lenders are still too frail to renew normal lending.

"Credit to non-financial firms has clearly been declining. Financial conditions are likely to worsen further. Banks are facing large write-offs on toxic debt and a rising toll of company insolvencies," it said.

An Apartment Complex Teeters
One of the biggest, most high-profile deals of the commercial real-estate boom is in danger of imminent default, say people familiar with the matter, signaling the beginning of what is expected to be a wave of commercial-property failures.

The sprawling Manhattan apartment complex known as Peter Cooper Village and Stuyvesant Town -- acquired for $5.4 billion in 2006 by a venture of Tishman Speyer Properties and a unit of BlackRock Inc. -- is running out of cash. As of the end of September, it had $33.7 million left of the $400 million in interest reserves set up to service its debt, according to the people familiar with the matter. At its current burn rate of about $16 million per month, the reserve could be depleted before the end of the year, the people said. Others have said the venture could avoid default until February.

The spokesman for Tishman Speyer declined to comment on behalf of the partnership.

The ownership, which includes a roster of high-profile investors from the Church of England to the California Public Employees' Retirement System, has no current plans to inject more capital into the venture, according to the people. Lenders who financed the deal first projected the complex's net operating income would triple to $336 million in 2011 from $112 million in 2006, according to Deutsche Bank AG. But net income is projected to be $139 million this year, according to Realpoint LLC, a credit-rating agency.

Investors who bought into the deal were confident that real-estate manager Tishman Speyer would be able to greatly boost profits by raising rents in Manhattan's sizzling apartment market. But today, the 56-building, 11,000-apartment property is suffering from a slowing New York economy, a lawsuit that has hindered the owner's ability to convert rent-controlled units to market rentals, and the debt load.  Realpoint estimates that the property is worth only $2.1 billion now, less than half of the purchase price. By that measure, all the equity investors and many of the lenders, including Government of Singapore Investment Corp., or GIC; Gramercy Capital Corp.; and SL Green Realty Corp., are in danger of seeing most, if not all, of their investments wiped out. Hartford Financial Services Group, which bought $100 million of the debt tied to the property, said it has "sufficiently reserved for this asset in the first half of this year."

Some of the nation's largest institutional investors already consider their investment a failure. The $133 billion Florida State Board of Administration committed $250 million to the equity partnership in 2007. It now counts the value as zero. A spokesman for the pension fund declined further comment.

The Battle Against Letting Wall Street Continue to Make a Killing on Derivatives
Art Levine, AlterNet. Posted October 21, 2009.
derivatives are nominally worth at least $450 trillion worldwide, with $555 billion in credit at risk in the U.S. banking industry. (Derivatives are forms of insurance or bets on underlying assets, such as now-toxic subprime mortgages, supposedly designed to manage risk.) No wonder Warren Buffett called them "financial weapons of mass destruction."

The derivatives bill is a cornerstone of the Obama administration's already-weakened reform plans that include a Consumer Financial Protection Agency facing a final vote this week.

On the Sunday talk shows, administration officials blasted Wall Street executives for paying big bonuses. But their rhetoric on pay hasn't been matched by a unified, strong effort to rein in unregulated derivatives trading, Hill sources say, such as the toxic "credit default swaps" AIG used to help sink the economy.

And with $15 billion in profits from derivatives trading in the first half of 2009, according to Treasury Department figures, it's still a major source of huge bonuses for investment bankers.

But instead, the administration has put its shrinking political capital behind saving the CFPA this week from the assaults of Republicans, the Chamber of Commerce and community bankers who claim, as usual, that it means job-killing over-regulation.

And it seems to have paid off: A sweeping amendment proposed by centrist Democrat Rep. Melissa Bean, D-Ill., to preempt tougher state enforcement seems, surprisingly, likely to fail.

Yet the administration's purportedly high-priority agency legislation is already much weaker on protecting consumers from fraudulent or confusing loans than originally proposed. In addition, nothing in the current slate of embattled reform measures under consideration directly address either the foreclosure crisis or the ongoing credit shortages that are still costing jobs and homes. Their goal, in theory, is just to prevent future abuses.

And by the time the derivatives bill was finalized last Thursday, that legislation also bore little resemblance to the original White House proposal in June to regulate most derivatives on public exchanges designed to create transparency .

"The whole bill essentially has so many loopholes for every rule, it not only puts us back where we were in August 2008, but the banks have eliminated what little [derivatives] regulation existed, so we'll arguably be in worse shape than before Lehman Bros. failed," says Michael Greenberger, the former director of trading and marketing for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and a University of Maryland law professor.

This Job Is Killing Me: Authoritarian Corporate Model Spurring Suicides in Europe
Julio Godoy, IPS News. Posted October 21, 2009.
 A spate of suicides in France is raising new questions about precarious working conditions imposed by authoritarian management models.

The suicides coincide with findings by the International Labor Organization that free trade policies have led to deteriorating working conditions around the world.

As many as 24 workers with France Telecom, the country's largest communication company, have taken their lives during the last 18 months. In September alone, four France Telecom workers committed suicide. In all these cases, the victims had said they would kill themselves because of unbearable pressure at work.

They all "worked in sectors of France Telecom that are notorious for their cruel working climate," Patrice Diochet, union leader at the company told Inter Press Service. "There is no place for humanity in the company, only the indexes count here."

Formerly a state owned company, France Telecom was privatized in 1998. In the 10 years that followed, the management eliminated 22,000 jobs and put in practice a policy of constant job shifting for medium- and low-level personnel.

Such labor management has become routine in several major French companies.  According to the World Health Organization, France has the third-highest industrial-related suicide rate in the world, after the U.S. and Ukraine.

The General Confederation of Workers (CGT), France's largest union, says about 400 people commit suicide in France every year due to job-related difficulties.

The Existentialist Cowboy
Texas oil man T. Boone Pickets typifies what is dead wrong about America and what passes for 'foreign policy'. Pickens claims the US is 'entitled' to Iraqi oil. How convenient for the oil barons who conspired with Dick Cheney to carve up the oil fields of Iraq before 911 would give Bush the pretext he would need to attack and invade Iraq, a nation that had nothing whatsoever to do with 911.

Nevertheless, it would be claimed that Iraq was --somehow --a part of the 'war on terror'. Is there no end to the lies? Might I remind that on 911, it was a gang of Israelis, perhaps criminals from Mossad, who were seen dancing and celebrating! It was NOT Iraqis who celebrated the deaths of innocent Americans! Clearly --Bush waged war on everyone but the 'real terrorists'.

Mossad is just as crooked as is the CIA about which I have written, possibly, thousands of pages [See: Why the CIA is the world's number one terrorist organization] Secondly, the US is perpetually auctioned off to the highest bidders on K-Street! And the the most powerful lobby on K-street is most certainly the Jewish Lobby. Meanwhile, Israel is breaking every international law with respect to Palestine as we write and post.

Every cover, every rationalization, every pretext for war was a treasonous lie from traitors who betrayed the people of the US, the Constitution, and specific US Codes that make any death resulting from such a war a crime punishable by death. If you are reading this, George W. Bush, you are not out of the woods.

Now for the idiot du jour:
Oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens told Congress on Wednesday that U.S. energy companies are "entitled" to some of Iraq's crude because of the large number of American troops that lost their lives fighting in the country and the U.S. taxpayer money spent in Iraq.

Boone, speaking to the newly formed Congressional Natural Gas Caucus, complained that the Iraqi government has awarded contracts to foreign companies, particularly Chinese firms, to develop Iraq's vast reserves while American companies have mostly been shut out.

"They're opening them (oil fields) up to other companies all over the world ... We're entitled to it," Pickens said of Iraq's oil. "Heck, we even lost 5,000 of our people, 65,000 injured and a trillion, five hundred billion dollars."--Reuters, Pickens says U.S. firms 'entitled' to Iraqi oil
T. Boone Pickens is either stupid, ignorant or just doesn't care! I am referring to various kinds of law, specifically English Common Law upon which most US laws and Constitution are based and, secondly, US Codes, Title 18, Section 2441 which makes what the US did in and to Iraq and to the people of Iraq a war crime punishable by death.

The Galloping Beaver
Mr. Godwin, now a professor at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, who generously agreed to sit down for an interview.

Q: During the Bush War, you served with the British South Africa Police -- a hybrid unit that was charged with an amalgamation of military and police functions. Given that the Rhodesian Tribal Trust Lands were similar to today's Afghanistan --in that the laws of local chiefs and warlords often trumped those of the national government-- would it be useful for NATO forces to adopt a similar hybrid force?

A: I think the key is continuity of intelligent presence. If you have one force that provides 'ground coverage,' starts to build relationships with locals, develops an understanding of the 'human terrain,' they inevitably end up in a quasi policing function, rather than in a purely military one - and that's what you need to win (or even hold) an insurgency war. All this can be jeopardized if you then send in a fire force that doesn't really know what's what on the ground, and is interested only in a specific mission, and may easily end up causing co-lateral damage that sets back the whole hearts and minds effort.
There is inevitably a certain amount of anthropology to all this - but the local people are making also a very basic calculation, one that they are auditing constantly, and that's the balance of fear. However much they like you, however much you're helping out, providing transport, fixing stuff, being respectful of their customs, giving candy to the kids, whatever - they are also deciding who will punish them more if they don't cooperate - and by and large (in both Rhodesia and Afghanistan) it's the insurgents. The Taliban will wreak much worse vengeance on 'sell-outs' among their own people, than NATO will.
During colonialism, the British used to arrive in a place and seek out ‘the second strongest chief’ and offer to recognize him as paramount if he would work with them. (After all what motivation would the most powerful leader have to cooperate with interlopers?!)
Worth the read.

( In that context, consider Abbas is NOT the elected leader of  the West Bank : yet The US purports to 'negotiate' through him. )
Goldstone fall-out plagues Abbas
Palestinians sometimes joke about the fact that, when written in Arabic, "Palestinian National Authority" looks the same as "Palestinian National Salad".
Gazan protester throws shoe at poster of Mahmoud Abbas
Some Gazans threw shoes at posters branding Abbas a traitor
And to many here, the PA's handling of Richard Goldstone's UN report on the conflict in Gaza has been mixed up and limp.
What began as the publication of a damning report on Israel's military conduct - although it also condemned Hamas - has turned into an embarrassing debacle for Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority president and Fatah leader.
Palestinians were outraged after the authority last week, under Israeli and US pressure, abruptly halted its drive to speed the report, which accuses both sides of war crimes, to the higher echelons of the mechanisms of international justice.
The PA initially urged UN human rights council members to refer the issue to the powerful Security Council which could in theory ask the International Criminal Court to open a war crimes prosecution.
But when the day of the vote came, the authority backed deferring discussion until March.
In response, rights groups in the PA's nerve centre of Ramallah took to the streets to denounce the decision.

Air strike on Gaza Strip, 13.01.09

Gazans threw shoes - a sign of disrespect in Arabic culture - at Mr Abbas's portrait on posters that branded him a traitor.

 Following the meeting, the White House said it recognised the efforts of the Palestinians in reforming institutions and improving security but said: "they need to do more in these areas and on stopping incitement and preventing terror".The official* also added that Israel, while having facilitated greater movement for Palestinians, needed to do more to improve their daily lives.The Palestinians have said they will not take part in new peace talks unless Israel halts construction on occupied land in the West Bank.But Israeli's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rebuffed US demands for a total freeze on such building work. 

( * Nothing like 'transparency' : Bu$hCo was noted for 'spin' by unnamed 'officials'. How things have changed ? )

here is what makes Fox so different from any other news organization

Historically, Libya was always portrayed as a terrorist nation for giving support to the various Arab resistance groups. From their perspective, Libya was giving aid to these resistance movements, whilst the US has been funding Israeli terrorism and theft of Arab lands. Far from being a terrorist nation, Libya has been the victim of American Terrorism.
In 1985, the US bombed Libya in response to the bombing of the West Berlin disco, La Belle, which killed two American servicemen. The American response led to at least 40 people being killed including the 15-month daughter of the Libyan leader Muammar Gadaffi. The United States claimed to have ‘evidence’ based on some cable transcripts from Libyan agents in East Germany, but such ‘evidences’ were never presented to anyone. The US behaved as a judge, jury and an executioner, walked over the UN like if it is a doormat for the Americans!

The more sober European allies refused to support the cowboy action to the extent that the US was denied flying permission over France, Italy, and Spain, as well as the use of European continental bases. As usual, the exception was the subservient British government, and the subsequent history is proving that they relish playing the role of butler to the American government. No surprise that in many popular Hollywood movies the butler is often the man that speaks with a clear British accent. Even today, British soldiers are dying in Afghanistan and nobody really knows why. At least there were some lucrative oil contracts in Iraq but there is nothing in Afghanistan.  However, the subservient butler must do his duty and serve his master well.

 Figures Don't Lie( Fill in the Numbers )

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