Baseball91's Weblog

July 13, 2016

The Threat in Majority Rule

Filed under: Travel — baseball91 @ 3:02 PM
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In my own tradition. The embarrassment …of the things that you grabbed hold on at a young age…. and desire to still hold. Until becoming aware of the history. You are loyal to the State Department, to a president, a flag, mostly to a political party. Living in Morocco. Defending the King – as “our ally” if not your friend. Without much awareness of this King, in the audience, listening to the former U. S. Ambassador to Morocco – from where his power had come. About the King and his relation to Spain and Franco and the Spanish Civil War. During and after, accented by all the executions, of your enemies. Like kings could do. 

Church. State. The split. In my own tradition if not in my God. Like Sunnis and Shiitites. And Muslims.

Burren 4
After The Split: Shia Islam contrasted with Sunni Islam. The not understood split by outsiders about spiritual power. As the group now known as Sunnis chose Muhammad’s adviser, Abu Bakr, to become the first successor [caliph] to lead the Muslim STATE. The birth right. Passing it on. In contrast to the Hebrew Bible, this inheritance bounced over to the father of Muhammad’s wife. The group now known as Shiites favored Muhammad’s son-in-law / cousin, Ali. Because the adherents of Sunni Islam believe that Muhammad did not appoint a successor, Sunnis consider Abu Bakr (who was appointed Caliph through a consensual Shura) the successor. So the conflict, in Islam, seems over whether the future belongs to the past or to the next generation. In both cases, the inheritance – the authority linked to the power of Muhammad – was going to the in-laws, so outside the family of the Prophet.

blood
So did you note the missing blood in this story, when it comes to Muhammad’s blood?

Story-tellers. Pigeon flying. The aftermath of The Tradition. The Voice, of a trained poet and story-teller addressing issues of Church and State undivided, in the Muslim STATE. Shia Islam contrasted with Sunni Islam. So who is the correct Caliph [successor]? And does Sharia Law constitute a consensus? For the Sunnis, anyway?

Adherents of Shia Islam consider Ali to have been divinely appointed as the successor to Muhammad, and as the first Imam. According to Wikipedia, Shia Islam is based on the Quran. The successors of Ali [as well as Ali himself] are called imams, who not only lead the Shiites but are considered to be descendants of Muhammad, with the blood of a cousin? The second-largest branch of Islam, in 2009 Shia Muslims constituted 10 to 13 percent of the world’s Muslim population.

Chosen People. The split in the tradition. The blood in the story of Chosen People, once removed? The Authority with a concern of purity here, still. The enforcers for Church and State, as police and priests and armies. For the Sport of kings, after the split in Church and State. What was Hemingway’s quote about Communism in the Civil War in Spain –he loved the soldier, the firmness of the belief of the soldier, but hated the priests of communism. Shia scholars link their Authority to the family of the prophets as demonstrated in verse 3:33-34: “Indeed, Allah chose Adam and Noah and the family of Abraham and the family of ‘Imran over the worlds…”

Cain and Abel. Majority rule? Sharia Law. Was it the method of worship centered upon the splitting by Noah of the pigeon? Sunnism and Shiaism are both the end product of several centuries of competition. The majority of the Islam world population – 1.6 billion people – is Sunni. There is, like between Cain and Abel, a battle over if not the narrative of Islam, the proper way to pray. Sunnis believe that the companions of Muhammad were the true believers because the companions were “tasked” with compiling the narration of the Quran. Furthermore, this narration from the perspective of the companions (ahadith) are a second source of knowledge of Sunni Islam.

Behold the split! Cain and Abel. The War over Modernity in world history, since the birth of freedom in the New World. Did you ever follow the history of the Jesuits for 250 years, in many different nations of Europe, as the concept of Nationalism as a religion replaced a universal Christian Faith itself so split more than 500 years ago. The War of the Roses. The Peace of Westphalia. 1648.

Behold the banishment, even in the first years in the 20th Century, in Paris. Of the Jesuits. Again. As the State acquired an ownership in the mostly Catholic Churches.

How did Cain kill the second-born brother? And as the tribes of Abraham grew, a gang mentality to inflict death/war on those nations who did not pray or govern as we govern/pray, grew but not much different than the original difference of opinion that Cain had with the manner Abel prayed.

Sharia is derived hierarchically using one or more guidelines. In early Muslim communities, “jurists” were more concerned with pragmatic issues of Authority and teaching than with legal theory. Two primary sources of Sharia are The Quran and opinions in the Hadiths with life examples of Muhammad). The Sharia concept of crime, judicial process, justice and punishment embodied in Sharia – with Capital punishment – is different from that of secular law in Western nations. The guidelines are Qiyas (analogy derived from the primary sources of The Quran and opinions in the Hadiths); Ijma (the consensus of Muhammad’s companions); Istihsan (ruling that serves the interest of Islam in the discretion of Islamic jurists); and Urf (customs). What does Sharia say about DNA evidence, and Unjust justice, when the wrong life is taken? What does Sharia say about rape and murder, as the world population is transformed in urban life? How does one crime/sin compare to the next in this “judicial” process? Are there “mortal” sins? Are there unforgivable sin? Is there conflict of this one-time tribal perspective to the traditional Western Judeo-Christian perspective?

There is an inherent threat when everyone is to think alike, as much when people do not think at all. In the western world, the threat is seen while watching CNN or reviewing all of this thoughtless social media. In the western world, the threat is seen by those who want to legalize marijuana, by people who do not want to think at all. The threat is now of majority rule – one way of thinking – to an artist who question the status quo. There is the inherent threat of majority rule to minorities, this year in particular with favored candidates for public office in the United States. And was that inherent threat when everyone is to think alike the basis of the conflict of Cain with Abel, over the method to sacrifice?

The old threat of Chosen People, not much different than the threats that kings posed to their subjects in places all over the world in world history, was over Authority. To give someone Authority over me. In the secular world of the West, there is no requirement to give the Creator authority over me, in my life. In the nation where I lived, it is different. Who had Authority? Of Church/State, who should have Spiritual power, like the Prophet? How did you develop a divine Spiritual power on matters of Church and State?

How did such perfect people, the companions of Muhammad, need to change? Was it hard to be married to such perfect people? Were– the true believers – really such perfect people? If the answer is yes, why were there even concepts of crime, with a judicial process? For such perfect people, why are the modern companions of Muhammad unable to convince the every day perfect people to forgive? Where is the justice in their punishments embodied in Sharia – with so little ability to change, over capital offenses?

On matters of full disclosure, I believe in the God of Abraham. One branch called Islam teaches that God is Omnipresent, as well as Merciful; it is the Mercy of God, which merits salvation for a Muslim. And this theology is little different from the theology to which I adhere. According to Wikipedia, Islam teaches Repentance that must not be used to sin any further, which might explain all of these suicide bombs in the news. Is that what comes out of a distorted understanding of the God of Abraham? By adherents who do not seem to have studied at institutions in much of any depth, for this faith that they espouse so loudly.

What is the Spirit in the LAND of ISIS except one of everyday fear? When you have absolute power, what will happen in the Islamic State … to imperfect people? What are the limits to the range of actions available to a ruler? How can a ruler so easily decree or reinterpret law independently and expect the continued support of the community? With The Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice? Would there even be a judicial branch with a separation of powers from the correct Caliph [the successor to Muhammad]? And if you separated a judicial power from the execution of the law, would you ever separate Church and State on matter how frequently your subjects prayed? Or for how long?

To discover the Middle. After all the fly-overs, to find your own middle and come to know the Spirit of a LAND by studying history.

So whether here or in the Middle east, who is and who would determine exactly what is a Muslim? What was in the middle of a Muslim? Would only Sunnis be allowed in the Islamic State? Did Abu Bakr love Muhammad’s son-in-law/cousin, Ali? Did Muhammad love Ali? Did Muhammad love Abu Bakr? What God had Abu Bakr believed in before Muhammad came along? Was there a forced conversion of Abu Bakr? What would be the concept of love in the Islamic State? Would Abraham and all of his sons be welcome, or was the world view more like that of Cain’s on the day that he killed, somehow, Abel? Wikipedia tells me that a Muslim believes no one can gain salvation simply by virtue of their belief or deeds. So why are all these young men fighting …. and sacrificing who they perceive to be the imperfect infidels? When Abraham, according the shared belief went to Mount Moriah to sacrifice his PERFECT son. As all of these Muslim women flee this distorted concept of God by the minority, would they come to learn in refugee camps about The Peace of Westphalia, and listen in horror –like Hagar — to stories like that of Abraham trying to sacrifice her first born son?

So at war’s end – in the case of this War on Terror – in a society now based upon majority rule, as is so often the case, at war’s end in the 20th Century – the remnants of war carried this fear as my neighbors begin to think only one way. Whether Church or State — with all of the secrets connected to the atrocities of war — would the world ever return to the day to work harder on shared belief, with more concern about my own middle, and less concern about the stranger’s? Not with cameras against cameras, in the battle over truth, but with story-tellers, looking deeper about a Spirit in a LAND?

Like pigeon flying, with a trained poet and story-teller, in his own tradition. Working harder on all the living emotions in story-telling, about pigeons once from Syria.

January 10, 2016

On the Coverup of How Many Rapes in Germany?

Filed under: European Union,Homeland Security,Media,Minnesota,St. Paul — baseball91 @ 1:12 AM
Tags: , ,

 

Stefan Wagstyl writes from Cologne on behalf of the Financial Times about the government response to the “ mass sexual assault.” In Cologne. On New Year’s Eve.

Weren’t these rapes? Outright organized rape!  The interior ministry has 32 people suspects for the 379 New Year’s Eve “sexual assaults,” 22 of whom are allegedly asylum seekers, including “Moroccans, Algerians and Syrians.” From what are the Moroccans seeking asylum?

With the second rape by not just the politicians trying to gain support over an outrageous event, but by the media like the Financial Times. Did you see the spin in the headline by the male journalist covering the story? “Merkel backs plans to tighten the law on refugees who commit crimes.”

Crimes! The missing word is rape [noting that a journalist does not write the headline].  And then the coverup of the rapes.  To call rape “sexual assault” is to soften the appreciation of the crime which is much more than a temporal offense. ‘Chancellor Angela Merkel said on 09 January 2016 that she wants stricter asylum laws, after a series of “sexual assaults” in the city of Cologne.’ To a nation that should be shocked by the response to rapes.

Three days after a piece by Marc Champion of Bloomberg in Newsday, Stefan Wagstyl is unaware that the story now is of THE COVERUP, as the number of criminal complaints rose to 379 from 170.  Women filing criminal complaints should be outraged at the lack of coverage on the coverup, as well as the phony story pursued about a government response to the “ mass sexual assault.”

The Financial Times does not see the story if it bit them in the proverbial ass.  These rapes are going to bring down not just PERSON OF THE YEAR, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s  government but will affect what happens to the United Kingdom’s future in the European Union, when the Brexit vote comes.

Private.  Secret.  Hidden.  The police operations of the current decade all over the world are in the category of secret and hidden using methods to secure data off license plates, over phone lines and computers, in the United States under the authority of secret courts. So how could this news of a public crime outside Cologne’s Cathedral occurring on New Year’s Eve be hidden for several days?  Were  all of these people still on a long holiday weekend?  Is there censorship in Germany because of the political sensitivity, of the influx of refugees? And the outrage was in the January 1st press release issued by the Cologne police that it had been a peaceful New Year’s Eve in Cologne. And journalists like Stefan Wagstyl in Cologne go with the press releases, unable to identify Cologne as a sanctuary city.

So there was this coverup …. In Germany, for a number of days after all these rapes in one night in Cologne. This was the danger of this open door policy toward immigrants combined with the then public accommodation, of rapists … given sanctuary.  Outside the cathedral.  And so few politicians seemed to know that most rapes are committed by serial rapists who are never caught. So the coverup is because of the concern about racism of German people, as exhibited in the 1930s, by the authorities? Speaking of one horror following the next.

In the United States, there is selective enforcement of the law.  Rebellions occur when inequality threatens stability.  Repeatedly in Minnesota, the laws involving permits to protest have not been enforced against Black Lives Matter since at least January 2015, when Black Lives Matter walked down the interstate highway with impunity. Today Black Lives Matter invaded retail stores in St. Paul with immunity, as the group had done during Christmas week, at the Minneapolis-St Paul airport.  More and more, select groups are above the law, given sanctuary.  Above the law, like so many of the elected leaders live their lives.

We do live in a police state where it is impossible to be a member of a police force, having to report to leaders like the Minnesota governor, the St. Paul mayor, or in the case of Cologne, the mayor in the city which is welcoming refugees who allegedly believe in Sharia law for everyone.  With immunity for rape.  As law and order breaks down. As government becomes the rule of men and women rather than the Rule of Law.

And sometime after January 2nd, according to Cologne Mayor Henriette’s interview with der Spiegel, she found out 19 claimed criminal complaints were registered with the FEDERAL police inside the train station, besides the 3 emergency calls made to local police. And the Mayor during the summer had had an office located right across the street from the cathedral,in order to follow events there. Before her election.

Was there a police presence that night, outside the cathedral?  Have you noticed the wrong methods of selected enforcement by so many police, by those with power above and so little understanding of what it is to have a Closeness, outside a cathedral, that is supposed to accompany power. There are many people who do not know who are given power. Worse than the people who do not know are those who do not feel. Those who no longer search, passing on the missing – the no THERE. Like in this piece in the Financial Times. No longer grasping the Truth or even trying to grasp something of the Truth into the new year. A reporter, passing on the missing news– could you feel the no THERE there in his story, like trying to pass on nothing, in the 2016 election year, with the missing feel for the game that surrounds Donald Trump, Hillory Clinton and so many of the news people who cover them. People who cover up rape. Or with a selected enforcement of the rule of law.

 

http://www.amazon.com/Telling-A-Memoir-Rape-Recovery/dp/0060930764

#aufschei

June 1, 2015

As Bat Night Replaces Bat Day

Michael Brown

Attorney-General Eric Holder said last summer that he understood why many black Americans distrust the police as the Spring of 2014 moved through the summer in St Louis. That distrust is going to grow when both black and white Americans figure out what they have sacrificed in the way of liberty for greater “ease” and protection in their lives, as the next generation ages. Those kids of ours — black and white — will be unforgiving toward the previous generation. Because what you have lost is often never able to return.

It was a weeknight in August 2014, near sunset, when Black Hawk helicopters flew over St. Paul and Minneapolis in a training exercise involving Homeland Security and local law enforcement – reportedly involving Navy Seals with Army pilots, engaging in rappelling exercises from helicopters onto the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank – beginning just before 8 p.m. As those bats start swooping. Information about the Department of Defense exercises going-on which, a Minneapolis government official said, was not to be shared with the general public. batman

Those military helicopters however showed up in the capital city, across the river from Minneapolis. Having had these exercises originate in the City of Minneapolis, within 15 minutes of the exercise, a City of Minneapolis written statement release indicated: “There will be some night training going on, which includes military helicopters.” Minneapolis police spokesman John Elder refused to answer additional questions about “a training exercise,” from The St Paul Pioneer Press.

Maybe you had to have been in St. Paul for Labor Day 2008, to witness the helicopters protecting the Republican National Convention. Leaders of the Society of Professional Journalists said that they were outraged over the aggressive tactics used by police in both St. Paul and Denver, as police interfered with the free flow of information and, they said, with the constitutional guarantee of a free press. Close to two percent of all the arrested had been journalists; the arrests, when all was said and done, resulted in less than two convictions, none of them journalists. Today in this same city, the Executive Branch was essentially going after what is inside the people who practice their freedom of worship in public – those in a vast minority affiliated with a religious organization known to originate in Saudi Arabia.

Dajerria

The Obama execution under the Patriot Act seems to have finally shown up — as the U S Marshall had taken to the night sky — monitoring, at night, our Somali community as May 2015 came to a close. After nightfall, as the sleeping innocent are afflicted by those with power and the money to hire these low-flying planes from LCB Leasing of Bristow, Virginia, like last night over the mosque on University Avenue located in the capital city. So this was the ague what followed Kristallnacht? “Canards,” with both senses of the meanings of the word but more like acupuncture on the wing-like projections of a Cessna. Note the suspicion of others who speak a foreign language, with silence about stolen cellphone data by U S Marshalls, in their coverup with planes registered to these independent contractors like RKT Productions of Bristow, Virginia. So similar to living with domestic abuse on all sides of the great divide, there is the silence how we live with “IT.” Not racial profiling but through the profiling of Creed by the United States Marshalls, acting so much like the 250 armed protestors who showed up yesterday outside a mosque in Arizona. See the attached article about the abnormal distemper called “Morbus.” Ague. Chilling cover-ups since at least 2007 of this program based upon suspicion of others who speak in foreign tongues — or pray differently than I pray– is the 21st Century kind of xenophobia on North American shores, with those with kingly power wondering about the inner goings-on of its subjects. From out of the plague of September 11th had come not only the Patriot Act, but the thinking that it was somehow Patriotic to spy on your fellow Americans. And the described Cessna flying over St Paul, Minnesota had occurred on the night before the Patriot Act was to expire.

What was the external or internal threat of people who prayed differently? “Whatever you do to the least of my brethren, that you do unto me.” Prior to the 21st Century, under the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, the U.S. armed forces had been barred from domestic operations, except in specific, limited circumstances. That all changed under President William Jefferson Clinton.

NSA logo

This morning, The Patriot Act has expired. What do you know about The Patriot Act?
Did you know of the less-known Patriot Act provision, so far “believed to be” unused, allowing the National Security Agency to track “lone wolf” terrorism suspects unconnected to a foreign power — if anyone knows that they are unconnected, of even if they are a “lone wolf.” Another lesser-known Patriot Act provision allows the NSA to eavesdrop on “suspects” who continuously discard their cellphones. And that would be of course anyone who discards their cellphones. Would you have had any idea of what the intelligence agencies have been doing for the past fourteen years except for Eric Snowden? What is heart-stopping in a government based upon the separation of powers, with three branches of government, is how little actual oversight had existed. In police action, in a media whose job is to create flawless heroes, ignoring the human condition of man’s inhumanity to man. In the words of Glenn Greenwald of The Guardian: “Remember when the Patriot Act was enacted, even in the weeks after 9/11, when the country was pretty much willing to do anything the government wanted, it was recognized that this was an incredibly radical and extremist piece of legislation, and the idea was – these powers we were giving the government should be temporary – not permanent – and so they [the powers] are going to sunset every five years unless Congress renews them. And yet in 2005 the Bush administration demanded renewal and overwhelmingly Congress renewed it with no fight. In 2011 President Obama demanded renewal and Congress overwhelmingly renewed it without any debate.”

There is a brewing hostility over the loss of liberty because of questionable police action, if what you have lost is often never able to be returned. Lost is liberty in powers given to first the federal government that allows those in uniform to terrorize here, to separate themselves from the public until all citizens were threatened with imprisonment. In 2006, there were more than 100,000 arrests in Baltimore, a city of 600,000 residents. Did you note in Ferguson, MO how the federal government had distributed weapons of war to local police forces? Perhaps fourteen years later greater thought will go into the law created to replace the Patriot Act about how it is somehow patriotic to spy on your fellow Americans. What got sacrificed that Tuesday morning in 2001 was an innocence that perhaps only the contemplative adherents of two of three Abrahamic religions could appreciate. And the next generations would never be the same.

The former African-American attorney-general said last summer that he understands why many black Americans distrust the police as the Spring of 2014 moved through the summer in St Louis. The current African-American First Lady most likely understands why so many residents of Baltimore do not trust their police force when the police think they are above the law, because they have to enforce the laws which came out of such a post-September 11, 2001 environment based on oaths and loyalty. What happens after you make bad law is that you create a generation of hostility. When it comes to the law, more and more it seems a perspective that come from what you are born into. The new inheritance is hostility passed along from father to son, based upon bad law and fearful law-makers who now pass so little new legislation. As this younger generation faces more and more the prospects of what comes out of stagnation on the ground. Their hostility on the ground was directed at the mindshift of law enforcement who thought they were now above the law, above a constitution, which came of the use of Black Hawk helicopters, unregistered Cessna aircraft, and the unnoticed use of cyberspace to control the ignorant masses.

With the hundred of little pieces that fit into the same spiritual holes … note the shared little pieces of sacrifice of those who carried the culture – educators, jurists, doctors. There had been the gathering up, the three-day journeys again, and the murders of educators, jurists, doctors. This was just as the story of the slaughter in Armenia one hundred years ago, like the start of the goings-on in Berlin in the 1930s. The new beginnings were really nothing new. Yes, the hardest stories of them all to write were those without an end. If you believe in ghosts and life everlasting?

JUNE 2, 2015 POST SCRIPT: And so LCB Leasing of Bristow, Virginia. There were also FVX Research, KQM Aviation, NBR Aviation and PXW Services. And RKT Productions of Bristow, Virginia in the covert surveillance with the Fly By Night air corps. Today the FBI has pleaded with the investigating reporters of the Associated Press not to disclose the names of all of their fake companies which the FBI has set up. The reasoning for their hoodwinking is to “shield the government’s involvement, and could endanger the planes and integrity of the surveillance missions.” What integrity? Do you smell the stink that came out of lies and distortions as absolute power evolves into corruption of the good? And by writing about all the FBI’s fake companies, a spokesman said, the consequences would include “saddling taxpayers with the expense of creating new cover companies.” More new unchecked false companies so no one could track and hold accountable law enforcement, under a constitutional government.

JULY 2015 POST SCRIPT: Did you piece together the puzzle of this FBI surveillance program over the Twin Cities to the involvement of the Naval Special Warfare Development Group in Virginia Beach, Virginia in the summer of 2014? In the original training approval letter sent to Minneapolis Mayor Hodges in January of 2014 about the use of military hardware working with Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) personnel – in this case Robert Skoro of the Minneapolis Police Department as well as Tim Flynn of Saint Paul Police Department – the identification of preservation of evidence “for criminal prosecution” was one goal of the Twin Cities training exercise, though evidence collection for domestic law enforcement purposes is not listed as a permissible activity in the Department of Defense most recent instruction document (3025.21) on “Defense Support of Civilian Law Enforcement Agencies.” Language in the military’s location license agreements for the 2014 training appears to indicate this, noting that overhead imagery collected during the exercises would “not be utilized to support local, state, or federal law enforcement investigations.” But the Naval Special Warfare Development Group in Virginia Beach, per the written comments of the unnamed military official – an unnamed military official whose name was redacted from all correspondence – worked with key Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) personnel, thought they were, with their helicopters, above the law …with “the use of fixed-wing aircraft integrated into ground operations,” per the preliminary mission profile addressed in SPPD e-mails which included “live shots,” helicopter work, and THE USE OF FIXED-WING AIRCRAFT
integrated into ground operations.” And have you seen the wings described on these low-flying Cessnas?

http://www.startribune.com/nighttime-flight-circles-low-over-twin-cities-for-hours/305398901/

JUNE 9, 2015 POST SCRIPT: At 11:30 pm on June 9, 2015, the FBI is still up there flying now only half-invisibly over St Paul, somewhat gutlessly, like the drone operators banging away at all of the young like that policeman outside Dallas. In the erosion of what liberty was here, in the Twentieth Century, perhaps because of such gutless elected leaders of the Twenty-first Century, who led in the climate change of these times, from fear. On the ground, the human rights connected with liberty, long fought over, are quietly being lost in what is now the fourteen year coverup, seven years under this program. As a new generation grows up with the evolving idea of privacy and freedom.

http://www.wsj.com/articles/justice-dept-defends-u-s-marshals-in-wake-of-secret-cellphone-spy-report-1415980141

http://www.startribune.com/fbi-behind-mysterious-surveillance-aircraft-over-us-cities/305793361/

http://www.publicrecordmedia.org/twin-cities-military-training-st-paul-documents/

AS FOREIGN POLICY BECOMES DOMESTIC, per the actions of Police Eric Casebolt with bikini-clad Dajerria Becton:

 

Or per the updated July 2016 killing of Philandro Castile. As the era of “hope and change” comes to a close, all of these people who did not know him gather in the street. Or did they know him?


http://crimeblog.dallasnews.com/2015/06/mckinney-police-officer-on-leave-after-video-shows-him-pushing-teen-to-the-ground-friday-night.html/

Dajerria Becton
Glenn Greenwald

http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/2015/06/police-deaths-baltimore-ferguson-james-wolcott

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2015/05/11/how-the-dea-took-a-young-mans-life-savings-without-ever-charging-him-of-a-crime/

http://www.startribune.com/just-say-no-to-fbi-spying-on-americans/306434951/

http://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-marshals-service-personnel-dressed-as-mexican-marines-pursue-drug-cartel-bosses-1416595305

https://www.facebook.com/100007611243538/videos/1690073837922975/

April 1, 2015

Going Bare Against the Perils of the World

Filed under: Uncategorized — baseball91 @ 8:38 PM
Tags:

This is a reblog about the unseen things out there, mindful of the horrors of life in Europe in the late 1930s. Only this piece is written by an Olympia, Washington immigration attorney after she spent time in Artesia, New Mexico witnessing in late 2014 mostly man’s inhumanity to woman. The author is Jane O’Sullivan who should be read. 

 

Fifteen years ago as a Maryknoll volunteer in Bangkok, Thailand, I visited the immigration detention center there with two Maryknollers, Father Thomas Dunleavy and Brother John Beeching. I was shocked and heartbroken to see young Burmese children and their mothers detained in crowded cells in Bangkok. The Burmese government’s assault on ethnic minorities was well known at that time, yet these families were locked up and denied refugee protection. I couldn’t have imagined that one day I would see a similar situation here in the United States.

The Bangkok experience motivated me to become an immigration and asylum attorney. Recently volunteering with the American Immigration Lawyers Association’s Pro Bono Project, I came to know some of the 1,400 mothers and children detained in Artesia, New Mexico, between June and December 2014 by the U.S. government. Arriving at our southern border, they had expressed fear of returning to their home countries of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. However, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s current policy is to detain such refugees without bond for the duration of their asylum proceedings, which can take many months.

The average age of children detained in Artesia was 6 years old. The youngest child I saw was 6 months old, while many more were toddlers, preschoolers and school-aged kids.

As in Bangkok, these refugee children were suffering many ill effects of their detention. Again and again mothers told me their children were not eating or playing as they did before. They spoke about their children’s weight loss, lethargy, hair loss and persistent fevers. Some mothers were worried about their children’s deep sadness and frequent tears, while others mentioned the self-harming behaviors their children had developed during detention.

One 4-year-old boy, Juan Carlos (not his real name), had arrived in detention three months earlier. His mother fled with him from El Salvador after gang members had tried to kidnap him. Since arriving at the detention center, Juan Carlos had lost eight pounds. He often refused to eat the unfamiliar food at mealtimes, and his mother was not permitted to bring any food back to her room to feed him later. While I asked his mother questions to prepare a request for bond, Juan Carlos stayed at her side and gave her a hug and kisses when she broke down in tears.

I spent each of my days in Artesia working in a windowless metal trailer alongside Julisa Aguilar, a social worker from Seattle who translated for me. Eight other legal volunteers, both attorneys and law students, worked with us. Court also took place in a trailer, the immigration judge at a bench hundreds of miles away in Denver. More windowless metal trailers housed the women and children, and others contained the bathrooms that families had to ask permission to use. This large cluster of metal trailers in the desert, surrounded by barbed wire fences, made a strange sort of village. It was filled with women and children and presided over by mostly male guards. It was a village where the passage of time was punctuated by mandatory head counts.

As attorneys, we had meetings with 60 or more mothers each day. We also attended court hearings and asylum interviews with these courageous women. For some, despair turned into hope when asylum was given or a reasonable bond was granted. For others, there was no good news yet, and the only option for the mothers was to carry on caring for their children as best they could within the barbed wire fences.

On Dec. 15, the U.S. government closed the Artesia facility and transferred the remaining families to a family prison in Karnes, Texas. They joined hundreds of other Central American mothers and children detained at the Karnes prison since August. It grieved me to think of the many babies, toddlers, children and teenagers at Karnes who woke up on Christmas day behind bars.

I struggle to find words to explain to my own young children what is happening. Our government’s rationale that family detention is necessary to discourage other would-be refugees can never justify the harm to the detained children that I witnessed firsthand. Fear that these families are economic migrants instead of bona fide refugees has been proven groundless as asylum has been granted to each detained mother whose case has reached the final hearing stage.

In the words of martyred Archbishop Oscar Romero, “There are many things that can only be seen through eyes that have cried.” These refugee women and children have known great pain and shed many tears, both in their home countries and during their detentions after arrival. Let us walk with them, cry with them, and show them the hospitality that Scripture moves souls to feel. 

Jane O’Sullivan is a Maryknoll Affiliate in Olympia, Washington. She wrote this for the March/April edition of Maryknoll magazine.

November 19, 2013

Nothing To Fear Except Fear Itself

NSA logo Last night in the invisible world of unrestricted power, James R. Clapper Jr. , director of national intelligence, released what appeared to be the original court document authorizing the National Security Agency to conduct sweeping collections of Americans’ communications records for counter-terrorism purposes, according to a piece in the Washington Post. In what appeared to be the original court document, there is also the description of the NSA’s failure to abide by court-imposed rules to protect Americans’ privacy, showing an agency more interested in collecting cell site location data than it had previously acknowledged.

The description of what constituted bulk information “metadata” was redacted in the released documents. In an order signed by Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, the National Security Agency was given permission by the secret court to gather in bulk information from e-mails and other forms of Internet communication such as e-mail addresses, but not the content. Its true scope, however, is unclear. This is about group power, unrestricted power, in a police state, over individual constitutional rights. Whatever the counter-terrorism purpose, however undefined. Who were these federal judges collaborating in what appeared to be “justice” in these secret courts? Inevitably did these justices belong to political parties, having given up any idea of an independent judiciary? What lawyer would dare criticize a judge, and put at risk his/her next case in front of the judge.

If a judge in the secret courts will give the NSA massive amounts of data to identify unknown people who may be in contact with terrorists’ whose e-mail addresses would be used to search the database, why not apply the same standard to domestic prosecutors? Is there a secret appellate court for bad decisions in secret courts? Is there a secret U.S. Supreme Court. Yet?

Franklin Roosevelt said in his first Inaugural Address: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Franklin Roosevlet tried to stack the Supreme Court with judge who shared his views of the world, which at the time never included concepts of secret courts and the unrestricted power of the sixteen agencies of the governments of the United States involved in “national intelligence.” It was the legislative branch with people named Boehner, Feinstein, Bolton who are giving the president’s intelligence agencies blank checks. When the NSA was spying on Angela Merkel, that spying included the most intimate parts of her life. If any politician is involved in illicit relationships, placing themselves in compromising positions, someone at the NSA has a view from the heavens of something that no human, in a military or political position, was ever supposed to have. The judiciary was set up to provide checks and balances rather than collaborate with the unrestricted power of the executive branch. When the judiciary abdicates this duty, there is something to fear, like the thinking of Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, like in the thinking by senators from California, Feinstein and Chambliss, about group power – the unrestricted power – in a police state, over individual constitutional rights. In a world with a booming population, people become just commodities, and individual rights are set aside for classified information, “under appropriate circumstance.”

In the New World Order there might well be something to fear when the elected officials ignore the first ten amendments of the constitution of the United States. Wasn’t this the same problem from the first eight years of the New Millennium, directed at the time at the Securities and Exchange Commission, when the regulators quit regulating? And now the judges who quit judging in open court.

http://historymatters.gmu.edu/d/5057/

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June 7, 2013

While America Slept, Under Surveillance

Filed under: Journalism — baseball91 @ 1:28 AM
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NSA logo
There was Amy Goodman, in 2008. There were Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Mark Udall (D-Colo.) in the summer of 2011.

Had you heard about the recipients of Section 215 National Security Agency letter which you were not allowed to tell anyone about, as a result of the Patriot Act passed after the Twin Tower terrorism? Have you heard about the provision that authorizes the government to seek secret court orders for the production of “any tangible thing” relevant to a foreign-intelligence or terrorism investigation? Or The NSA letter? At the time with Colin Powell’s kid running the The FCC. And have you noticed the silence of national broadcasting companies with their renewable FCC licenses? Was this a flavor of recent life in Iran?

It was all legal, in a police state. Though continuously denying that the NSA spies on domestic communications, expansion of its original charter to eavesdrop on communications between countries, not inside the United States, happened soon after September 11, 2001. In response to questions presented by Senator Mark Udall (D-CO) and Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), who asked in a letter to the the Office of the Director of National Intelligence in the summer of 2011 whether the intelligence community has the authority to collect geolocation information on American citizens, Kathleen Turner, the director of legislative affairs for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, responded that the government is still defining its “view of the full contours of this authority and will get back to you.” This was well past day one thousand of the Obama Presidency.

The Washington Post reported efforts to target the conservative groups reached the highest levels of the Internal Revenue Agency by May 2012 -—far earlier than the agency had acknowledged. Reuters reported high-level IRS officials, including its chief counsel, knew in August 2011 about the targeting. There was much going on that summer.

“The White House is reported to be shell-shocked at public reaction to the scandal,” Peggy Noonan wrote in May 2013. “Were they so highhanded, so essentially ignorant, that they didn’t understand what it would mean to the American people when their IRS—the revenue-collecting arm of the U.S. government—is revealed as a low, ugly and bullying tool of the reigning powers? If they didn’t know how Americans would react to that, what did they know?”

What they didn’t know? Will there one day be concern about the database of evidence being surrendered “in secret to the demands of unaccountable intelligence agencies,” in a program put in place under the Patriot Act’s Section 215 where recipients of Section 215 orders, such as telecommunications companies, are prohibited from disclosing — in this case by Judge Robert Vinson of the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court –to anyone that they gave the government their customers’ records. This is the NSA letter. With a big telecommunication carrier responsible for one terabit per day, the actual physical transmission of this data is no big deal, out of a total 4 billion phone calls per day, and about 4 terabits of data at 100 bytes of metadata per call. A single DS3 line is nothing special with a potential for about 4 terabits per day.

To meet extremists there was now extreme secrecy. Would there ever one day be concern about the present day Inquisition against people from the Middle East, or just Muslims? Like the latter day concern about Japanese internment camps? These Muslim folks surely cannot scream. Since 9/11, the government has increasingly classified and concealed not just facts, but the Patriot Act’s Section 215, itself, inconsistent with the values of a transparent open government, with accountability. Under Section 215 of the Patriot Act, there are secret courts, approved
secret judges, and approved secret attorneys. It is said that these secret courts have expansively interpreted the section of the law and effectively given the administration an array of powers Congress never intended. Sometime in mid 2011, with Section 215 of the Patriot Act scheduled to expire, Congress reauthorized Section 215 without amendment until 2015.

During an investigation of administration leaks by the Justice Department, there had been another NSA letter tracking FoxNews reporter Rosen’s movements, with a search of his personal emails. Was there irony in the secretive and controversial seizure and surveillance on Associated Press phone records, in lieu of the Obama Administration own security breaches of classified or sensitive information disclosed by Leon Panetta to the filmmakers of “Zero Dark Thirty”? This top-secret information was mentioned at a June 2011 awards ceremony about the bin Laden raid’s participants.

Legal and illegal. There is an underlying contempt to this president’s administration that seemed to arise with his predecessor in the same office. For the last two years, “the government” has refused to describe its secret interpretation of the Patriot Act. And Mr. Obama has been in office for 52 months. And then the convenient leaks to get their own angle of the news out – maybe like Eric Holder’s off the record meeting this week with reporters that the New York Times refused to attend the spin session. .

After a government had finished with one enemy, who would be the next enemy singled out? In 2012, Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Mark Udall (D-Colo.) wrote to the Justice Department, about the Obama Administration views about this legality: “When the American people find out how their government has secretly interpreted the Patriot Act, they are going to be stunned and they are going to be angry.” In a 2012 followup, the ACLU filed a new Freedom of Information Act request in an effort to learn more about unaccountable intelligence agencies and a referenced “secret interpretation” made by Sens. Wyden and Udall.

In almost certainly a universal dragnet which applies to every United States phone service provider, Verizon, under a top secret NSA letter or a court order issued from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court on April 25, 2013, was compelled by law to pass on records of all calls made on its network until July 19th….as part of the program secretly authorized by President Bush in October 2001, implementing bulk collection of domestic telephone, internet and email records. What was not mentioned is how much Verizon is charging for their records. Verizon previously objected having to provide under the Freedom of Information Act proprietary information about what was given to the government because the company would be ridiculed and publicly shamed were their surveillance price sheets made public. To his knowledge, said U S Senator Saxby Chambliss, there has not been any citizen who has registered a complaint, though he might want to check the litigation filed by the American Civil Liberty Union. Every member of the United States Senate has been advised of this, he said. Under the terms of the order, location data, time and call duration, the phone numbers of both parties are handed over, though the contents of the conversation itself are not covered. Even the Mother Jones periodical thinks it is all fine. “Bush approved this, Obama thinks it’s a great idea, and most congressional leaders, who have known about this for a long time, seem fine with the universal dragnet. Congress basically gave it its official blessing in 2007.” And during the most recent debate renewing the Patriot Act, it was the hypercritical and hypocritical senators from California, Feinstein and Chambliss, thwarting any robust discussion by Sens. Wyden and Udall in what falls under the category of BAD LAW, about what exactly was legal under the US Constitution which is not based upon what the vast majority of the American public seem concerned about.

Is there evidence that NSA, given free rein, has abused the surveillance program – perhaps like the IRS has been revealed to have abused their office – which allegedly thwarted a “significant” case of domestic terrorism “within the last few years?” The vast majority of the American public do not really seem concerned, in a world with 3 billion Google searches per day, with spy agencies having access to their phone records, with a free trade-off for personal safety, if they even knew? Do the vast majority of the American public seem concerned about the race, color, or creed of these humans operating in secret courts, as approved secret judge, and as approved secret attorneys. After all the Title 9 legislation of Congress. And wasn’t the War in Iraq about exporting this kind of democracy, in a new form of philanthropy, that was mentioned in speeches at the time. That they might have what “we” have.

As Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) asked just where such authority might come from, the response from the director of legislative affairs for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence was that though the amount of evidence that can be collected and the procedures required to get it haven’t been settled yet, “the government has some authority to collect cell phone mobility data under appropriate circumstances.”

Classified information, “under appropriate circumstances,” as people becomes just commodities. There are a 1.2 million Americans with top secret government clearance, for the 76.7 million classified documents in 2010; there were 8.6 million classified documents in 2001, per Andy Greenberg in the book, This Machine Kills Secrets. In August 2011, Congressman Peter King became concerned about reports that classified or sensitive information might have been disclosed by the CIA and he sought the release of the report of the Pentagon inspector-general. He complained as much about the delay as what the report says about then CIA director and the film “Zero Dark Thirty.” The report concluded the CIA’s Office of Public Affairs did not keep adequate records” of its dealings with “Zero Dark Thirty” director Kathryn Bigelow and screen writer Mark Boal; CIA employees did not always comply with regulations designed to protect sensitive information while dealing with the film-makers; and the CIA did not seek as much monetary reimbursement for the costs of its extended cooperation, as it should have, from the filmmakers. And Mr. Panetta would not be prosecuted, under the law.

In late May 2013 at a conference in Washington, Keith Alexander said the National Security Agency does not have the bandwidth to read the 420 billion e-mails generated by Americans daily, even after tapping into the largest Internet companies for nearly six years. Though Alexander’s job is like that of the pope of national security, and he was going to protect his church and his priests the way the folks in Rome had on all the issues of abuse within the system. Obama officials contend it operates within the parameters of the Patriot Act, as the extensive surveillance of the NSA has continued under the Obama Administration, with their own version of infallibility when it came to the faith and morals of the Spiritual not Religious.

In lieu of all this surveillance, with public access to private lives, my state legislature formulated new bullying laws in school, but beat up on religious institutions in so many ways. As the Spiritual but not Religious, without any defined parameters, took over. And there was no THERE there any more. When people believed in nothing except fear itself, because of the lack of understanding about the ideals of a constitution.

More and more there is evidence of low, ugly, bullying tools of the reigning powers, not unlike what happened in the history of Inquisitions, in the quest of public access to private lives. In discovery and search for production of “any tangible thing.” The BBC reported yesterday on the force-feeding of some of the one hundred prisoners on a hunger strike, about lodging provided to so many without charge, ten years after September 11th. In our Spiritual but not Religious world, few Americans questioned the morality of a president who contends his administration operates within the parameters of the Patriot Act, though not defining those parameters to Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Mark Udall (D-Colo.). In our Spiritual but not Religious world, few Americans questioned the morality of a president pretending to have virtue and principle who once promised to close the GITMO prison where theses people, not yet prosecuted under the law, remain. In the vanity politics of hope and change, with an emphasis on charm over authenticity orchestrated now in two campaigns, comes this second-term president, believing that he is still “curating information” like a very special museum worker or like the gatekeeper on the information superhighway. Where, in the name of community-organizing, is the change, Mr. President?

Using their bullying tools, it is John Boehner, Senator Dianne Feinstein and John Bolton who are the traitors to the ideals of the constitution. With such rhetoric, trying to win the battle of their viewpoint with the parameters of unlimited power over who is evil, how soon will the armies be called out against the civilians here in these United States? Leaders who somehow were educated to think that the US Constitution which is based upon — so much the way political leadership is now based upon the latest polls — what the vast majority of the American public seem concerned about. Living in their cyber-world, Boehner, Feinstein, Bolton giving the intelligence agencies blank checks throwing around money like it was not real. Snowden was paid $122,000 a year for his work as a systems administrator in his less than three months under contract to the NSA, Booz Allen Hamilton announced, clarifying that this was substantially less than the $200,00 a year that Snowden claimed in his information to The Guardian while working at an NSA Threat Operations Center in Hawaii. How much money was Booz Allen Hamilton making while not detecting threats, off the books, without the same U S guidelines?

Doing a Google search of a guy named John Young, the creator of Cryptome, you will find out that in 2009, Cryptome published Yahoo’s 17 page guide which described Yahoo’s data retention policies and the surveillance capabilities it offers law enforcement, revealing how Yahoo retains the IP addresses from users who login to its site for a year; how Yahoo instant message logs are retained for 45 to 60 days and include an account holder’s friends list and the date and times the user communicated with them; and Yahoo was charging the government about $30 to $40 for the contents, including e-mail, of a subscriber’s account. Yahoo, the internet corporation notorious for helping China spy on its citizens had been doing the same in the United States. Yahoo, the internet corporation notorious for sharing information about me to the drug-company Viagara, like the phone companies themselves routinely store call and location data from your phone, aggregate it, and sell it to third parties.

Concerning the construction of Chinese Walls, what was it about Asian history which created barriers to the logic of constitutions based upon civil liberty? With the essential idea that some people were above the law, John Yoo who so poorly served the government of the United State as part of the Bush Administration as far back as July 2009 wrote, (), “As the 9/11 Commission found, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act’s wall between domestic law enforcement and foreign intelligence proved dysfunctional and contributed to our government’s failure to prevent the 9/11 attacks….In a report issued last week, they suggested that President George W. Bush might have violated the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) by ordering the interception of international communications of terrorists without a judicial warrant.” http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124770304290648701.html

And the Minnesota Highway Patrol kept data assembled from 11 cameras in town off scanned license plate, to monitor the vicinity of vehicles, for “public safety.” Scanning license plates, saving license plate reader data after the litigation in the Minneapolis police department of “authorized people” looking up information about a pretty female police officer.

What form police brutality? What could an authorized person do, like Leon Panetta, without fear of punishment? And how soon would be the day, like seen this week in Turkey, when you lost an ability to trust? Because in a civil society, when the majority lose an ability to trust in legal authority, a society loses its ability to function.

There was a quote in the New York Times last week from a farmer in Kansas, which could have been –but wasn’t –about the NSA: “Don’t let people tell you this is caused by drought. We are in climate change.”

Too much like the police brutality case, what happens at the IRS is the government’s every day essential business. And these reports designed to capture all forms of communication were of a new kind of brutality, in the once much feared but undefined Y2K problem. But other than Amy Goodman, who I had never heard of until 2008 when I thought she was a nut case –and Dana Priest, but too few others — where have the journalists been on these goings-on for the past ten years? Until the latest administration leak to a British newspaper, about Verizen. As a lesser evil supersedes other evil. For now, when apparently the end, under a constitutional form of government, justifies the means to maintain a semblance of world order.


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POST SCRIPT: The senator from Colorado was defeated in his quest for re-election in 2014.

February 18, 2013

Competitive Currency Debasement

Filed under: Competitive Currency Debasement,currency,Monetary Wars — baseball91 @ 7:28 PM
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Toxic waste. There was spillover on other neighboring countries from competitive currency debasement.

In the words of Kevin Kersten, SJ, life in the modern world has many sorts of enmities, whether between a husband and wife on the brink of divorce; a child abused by a parent; between rich and poor; between cheaters and the cheated; between adversaries in civil war; between bullies and their victims. “Whatever the sort of enmity between nations at war, only two options occur to me as possible for those embroiled in enmity: To let it be, or deal with it.  Really, there is no ‘in between’.”  

Exchange rate management: Over the past four months, the Japanese yen has risen in price from 78 to up around 94 US dollars. Japan was the last nation to follow a monetary policy for domestic considerations, which as a collateral consequence has seen a dramatic weakening of the yen against other currencies.

This weekend, the G20 refrained from censuring Japan and implicitly sanctioned similar conduct by other G20 nations. Criticizing Japan would have made other countries – particularly the US – also a legitimate target for criticism by other G20 members.

The internal discussion within the euro nations would now be over the euro’s rise on the foreign exchanges with or without a need to be brought under control? With a current-account surplus in Germany’s economic growth in 2013 for six out of the past seven years – six percent of gross domestic product last year – while France carried a deficit of 2 percent for 2012, the German people can live with a euro above $1.30 (or maybe even $1.40) much more than France and its other western neighbors, writes David Marsh. And with so little chance to meet its growth and budget-deficit targets this year, France is at odds with the policy of Angela Merkel’s government, the European Central Bank, as well as the Bundesbank. Because it is an election year in Germany, should a currency war break out in 2012, it likely will be between France and Germany. So the G20 backed off from addressing competitive currency debasement, to let the civil war begin within the European Union.

And so market forces, in bond market and stock markets, along with the current events since September 2008, for currency markets. For all currencies to be equally subject to the impartial discipline of a truly free and fair global market, no government today leaves the exchange rate of its currency to market forces, trying to use their competitive advantage.

“Letting an enmity be will likely make it worse.  Recrimination will increase.  Old hurts will get bruised and new ones will be perpetrated.  Grudges and resentments will fester.  Violence and bloodshed may even happen.  And all this will occur for the enemies facing one another from the two sides of a divide.” –Kevin Kersten, S.J.

January 19, 2013

On the Butt End of Cigarette Smuggling in a Middle East Jihad

In Algeria this week, Mokhtar Belmokhtar was accused of ordering an attack on a gas facility, master-minding the plot to take and kill hostages. Nicknamed “Mr Marlboro”, Belmokhtar acquired the name because of his role in Algerian cigarette-smuggling across the Sahel region to finance his jihad.

Did you see the connection between this story and the pattern of what it was that Robert Levinson had been investigating in that Kish Island hotel? Levinson was the retired FBI agent taken captive on the Iranian island of Kish, following a March 2007 meeting with Dawud Salahuddin which had been a setup. Levinson had retired in 1997 from the FBI and later became a principal at the consulting firm Business Integrity International. He had not been involved in intelligence matters with the bureau, American government officials have said.

An initial reports indicated that the US Government believed that Levinson was visiting Iran for research on a book regarding Russian organized crime. Or was this some kind of cover for what was really going on? More recent evidence suggested that he is alive and being held in Asia, according to U S Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

In five years, not one news source has written making the connection of this kidnapping to the jihad which is funded out of Iran. The Levinson family had said in 2010, that the retired FBI agent-turned-security consultant had checked into a Kish Island hotel to investigate cigarette-smuggling which had originated out of Dubai. So he was there in a cigarette smuggling case which he was working as a private investigator in Dubai. And who was paying him? Working as a private investigator, Levinson met at the Hotel Maryam with Dawud Salahuddin, the American fugitive now living in Iran. During the meeting, Iranian security personnel entered the room, detaining both Levinson and Salahuddin. Salahuddin was subsequently released. No one in his family or with his company has heard from Levinson since that time. It has been reported that Levinson never returned to his own hotel room.

In December 2007, Levinson’s wife and other family members traveled to Iran and met with officials. A year later, when she flew to the United Nations to ask questions about her husband, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declined to meet her. Christine Levinson has said the Iranian government was polite and guaranteed her family’s security on their trip but provided no details regarding her husband’s whereabouts.

And so prior to his disappearance from the Hotel Maryam, Levinson met with Dawud Salahuddin. Would a retired FBI investigator going into the Iranian island of Kish, in a part of the world where the U. S. government had had no diplomatic relations since 1979 have an idea who Dawud Salahuddin was? From a security guard position at the Iranian interest section of theAlgerian Embassy in Washington, Dawud Salahuddin accepted an assignment on behalf of the Iranian Revolutionary government to carry out, in the Washington suburbs, a political assassination of Ali Akbat Tabatabai, a former press attache of the Shah’s regime living in exile. Dressed as a mailman, Dawud Salahuddin gunned down Ali Akbar Tabatabai at his home near the Montgomery Mall in 1980. The assassination in Bethesda, Maryland was carried out by David Theodore Belfield, an American now using the name Hassan Abdulrahman – formerly known by a name he took at his conversion at age 18 to Islam which was Dawud Salahuddin — which is when he first got involved with Islamist radical movements in the United States. Dawud Salahuddin then fled the United States in July 1980. It had been in November 1979 when Islamic Revolutionary Guards overtook the U.S. Embassy.

And so the story this week in Algeria about “Mr Marlboro”, about ongoing Algerian cigarette-smuggling across the Sahel region to finance a jihad. With a lot more fatalities and a lot more general interest that Robert Levinson never got.

Following the revolution in 1979, Iran was reshaped with the methods used by Lenin, against old-time religions. And now Russia with the largest Muslim population in absolute numbers in all of Europe, facing the political aims of so many of its long disenfranchised citizens, in the secular world. With his 30 year career, Robert Levinson, a knowledgeable expert on Russian organized crime, surely recognized the connections.

The movement in the story of always mobile population: Muslim population in Russia is geographically concentrated in two of the seven federal districts — the Volga and Southern districts. Four-in-five Muslims in Russia reside in Dagestan, Bashkortostan, Tatarstan, Chechnya and Kabardino- Balkaria, for now. So allied with Russia, on the surface, Syria; allied with Syria below the surface, Iran and Russia amid all the collapse.

Yes, Russia, with higher Muslim fertility directly related to the fact that Muslim women marry in larger numbers and divorce less often than other women in Russia — spending longer periods of their lives in union, with childbearing more likely. Although the abortion rate in Russia is still among the highest in the world (45% of all pregnancies in Russia end in abortion), Muslim women have, research suggests, fewer abortions on average than other women in Russia. On fertility issues, a Muslim population in Russia is expected to increase with nearly half of the country’s Muslims under the age of thirty.

There was a connection in the stories of Robert Levinson, a knowledgeable expert on Russian organized crime, to all of these goings on: to terror and rebellion and organized crime, about Russia and Iran. And the financing of the movements. And about the demographics concerning how revolutions are won.

Post Script June 2015: If you relied on the jargon of American journalism, you might have missed like I did, that Mokhtar would never have been funded by money from Iran. He was in Libya with Ansar al-Sharia, fighting for the cause of Sharia Law. Often described as being synonymous with Wahhabism, his Salafi movement within Sunni Islam references a doctrine known as Salafism. The term “salaf” is used to identify the earliest Muslims, with the word meaning “predecessors” or “ancestors.” The ideology believes that the ancestors were most pure. As only a Sunni Muslim. (The center of Wahhabism is not far from the Saudi capital city.)

And the confusion in the Middle East is over the shift of American foreign policy, particularly in the second term of the Obama Administration, away from both Israel and Saudi Arabia, toward Iran. It was the “gangster jihadi”, first smuggling cigarettes and then forming this armed militia called ISIS that showed their colors as evolving from the Wahhabis who are the pillar of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Mokhtar split from the Islamic Mahgreb (AQIM) to found the group, Those Who Sign In Blood, fighting for the cause of Sharia Law.

The “Marboro Man” was no “Islamist” but in the movement of Salafism against everyone who was not. This is what is at the heart of Sunni Islam, centered in Saudi Arabia. It was never his “ties to Libyan militants” but his ties to the Saudis for most of his life which is why the US has linked the 2012 attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, causing the shift in policy. But covering up the policy change.

on the VlogBrothers channel

January 15, 2013

Greek Mythology

Filed under: euro,European Union,New York Times — baseball91 @ 3:31 AM
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On Monday, all of Greece’s opposition parties – Syriza, Independent Greeks, Golden Dawn and the Communist Party – condemned the shooting which occurred in central Athens before dawn, adding to a wave of politically motivated violence in recent days as Greece struggles with its continuing EU economic crisis based upon currency. “Gunmen” allegedly sprayed bullets into the headquarters of Greece’s governing New Democracy party, though no journalist sighted the gender of the folks pulling the trigger. “Urban political violence has tended to flare in Greece at moments of political chaos and economic deterioration,” Liz Alderman of the NYTimes writes. There was no mention if she speaks Greek, or has studied Greek history.

“Democracy will not be terrorized,” the president said on Monday. According to the New York Times, the latest wave of violence followed the arrest of 101 “suspected anarchists” last week, with “firebombs” confiscated in an operation of riot police in central Athens at a building called Villa Amalia, “a longtime gathering point” for students and far-left groups. This protest in downtown Athens by the so-called “anarchists” ended when police fired tear gas into the crowd. Not to let details get in the way, but Liz Alderman failed to report that what had been confiscated were some 1,500 empty bottles, a canister with flammable substance, helmets and gas masks, along with other material which raised police suspicion. No description has been given how the bottles got there — if plastic water bottles bought by squatters in the building? What does seem apparent is sloppy reporting. What exactly would “long-time” mean in a place like Athens? The YouTube video would suggest that this was a simple demonstration by opposition and dissenters. And some of the confiscated material would be what a prudent protester might bring along.

Publication of a list of more than 2,000 Greeks with bank accounts in Switzerland, which the government was given but did little to investigate, had touched off “a scandal and galvanized public opinion in recent weeks, according to the NYTimes. This news item sounded like the Occupy Wall Street Movement, since it was Goldman Sachs which helped the Greek government hide from public view a transaction treated as a currency trade rather than a loan, as Greece quietly borrowed billions over a decade. With help from the wizards of Wall Street, the Greece government engaged in an effort over a decade to skirt European debt limits. So no wonder the lingering anger by the populace. (Not all that dissimilar to what had happened to those items in the budgets approved by the U. S. Congress that had kept the cost of war in Iraq off the books.)

This attack on Monday morning at the office of the New Democracy party followed attacks on “other symbols of the Greek establishment which are believed to have been carried out by far-left militant groups,” the New York Times reports, without mentioning who it is that believes that ‘far-left militant’ groups were involved. Those attacks over the last week involved home-made gas canister bombs at the homes of five Greek journalists on Friday as well as canister bombs detonated at several government office and banks last week. A Google search to find where exactly the places of “the spate of attacks on other symbols of the Greek establishments” occurred, clarified to be “several government offices and banks”, fails to find any specific mention anywhere else by news media. I wonder if Liz Alderman of the NYTimes would one day cite a specific place in a follow up story.

Claiming unbalanced coverage of the Greek financial crisis to be sympathetic to the imposed austerity programs of foreign lenders and imposed by the Greek government, Lovers of Lawlessness claimed responsibility for Friday’s attacks. In a statement posted on the internet, this group said the news media are the “main managers of the oppressing state designs, manipulating society accordingly.”

After the fall of the country’s military junta in 1974, Greek police in 2002 crushed the November 17 group after decades of attacks “against politicians and businesses. Other groups however have since sprung up, throwing firebombs during anti-austerity demonstrations, attacking police.” In writing about this “mounted” terrorism by “anarchist groups,” Liz Alderman of the NYTimes earlier misstated that Military Minority-Lovers of Lawlessness claimed responsibility for Friday’s homemade gas canister bombs attacks. A correction stated that a group called “Militant Minority-Lovers of Lawlessness, not Military Minority-Lovers of Lawlessness” claimed responsibility. Hmmmmmmmmmmm. Greek is a very tough language to master.

According to the New York Times, a government spokesman warned on Monday of a “dangerous escalation of spreading terror.” The New York Times writer did not seemed concerned how a government might try to use more police powers to capture more political power. Have you ever covered the Republican National Convention in the United States, with mention of what a police state looks like with helicopters flying overhead to protect the delegates and maybe the media? In September 2008 there were more than 800 arrests made during the political convention in Minnesota, with one conviction which in hindsight calls the question of the use of police power; there were homes raided and the same kind of alleged evidence reported by the news media.

What is clear is that at least since World War II, it has never been more dangerous to be a journalist in Europe. “These attacks,” Reporters Without Borders said in a statement, “are the most visible expression of an increasingly dangerous climate for all journalists, who are being turned into the scapegoats of a crisis they are just analyzing.”

Perhaps the people in Greece expect journalistic standards to be elevated to reflect a society based upon civility, when journalism rises above the market tensions of those who were forced to sell ads. The same forces of lobbyists trying to affect legislation are at work each day in the world of television news. And this was more and more a generation which got its news from radio and television. There should be a concern, not just between all Greeks, about the fairness and understanding of the talking heads taking in money, paying for all the commercials on radio and television, and somehow capturing the Truth. Referring to dissenters as “anarchists” at a time when everything was being devalued — and you were so personally touched when everything here was devalued — was playing into the hands of those already in power. When some of those in power had along the way just quit doing their job(s).

Yes, stories of terrorism increase viewership/readership in the short-term, before the long-term affects set in on a civilization. Just like the affect of economic unification with continued political independence of nation-states which had fueled this identity crisis for the European Union. Those same factors had fueled a lot of divorces in my neighborhood with affects which lasted a lifetime, among individuals who had lost power in some kind of relationship, in most cases without adding to a “wave of politically motivated” violence.

http://carmenpampafund.org/

http://carmenpampafund.org/

October 2, 2012

Hearing the Screams, As Money Talks in Iran

The Fall of Iran’s Currency to Now Half of a Half.

“There is just such a tremendous disconnect, said Marianne Banziger of the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, “with people not understanding the highly dangerous situation we are in.” Would it not be gratifying to see a presidential candidate take the lead in directing attention to the issue not of “food security” but food prices? In what has been an ongoing story over the past five years, a new crisis is emerging — a global food catastrophe that will reach further and be more crippling than anything the world has ever seen.

The credit crunch and the reverberations of soaring oil prices around the world will pale in comparison to what is about to transpire, said Donald Coxe, global portfolio strategist at BMO Financial Group, at the Empire Club’s 14th annual investment outlook in Toronto in 2008. “It’s a matter of when, not if,” he warned investors in 2008. “The greatest challenge to the world is not US$100 oil; it’s getting enough food so that the new middle class can eat the way our middle class does, and that means that we have to expand food output dramatically,” he said.

In 2008, the impact of tighter food supply already was evident in raw food prices which had risen 22%. And this talk at the Empire Club was before what happened in 2010-2011, leading to the Arab Spring. At the center of the imminent food catastrophe is corn — the main staple of the ethanol industry in the push for biofuels — which many blame for pushing up food prices. The price of corn in 2008 rose about 44% over the past 15 months, closing at US$4.66 a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade — its best finish since June 1996. This not only impacts the price of food products made using grains, but also the price of meat, with feed prices for livestock also increasing.

“You are going to have real problems in countries that are food short, because we’re already getting embargoes on food exports from countries, who were trying desperately to sell their stuff before, but now they’re embargoing exports,” he said — citing Russia and India as examples. “Those who have food are going to have a big edge.”

World population growth is outpacing food production of particularly wheat, rice, corn and soybeans which provide the bulk of nutrition for the world. Studies have previously shown little land left to convert to farming, as water supplies dry up — without the issue of climate change.

Scientists have been predicting for years that increasing water demands could cause food shortages, coupled now with evidence of a warmer planet. “Food security” has emerged as a political buzzword in conversations about stability in the developing world, with 54% of the world’s corn supply grown in America’s mid-west, the U.S. is one of those countries with an edge.

A study in 2007, building on and confirming previous research, warned that climate change could help cause food shortages. Donald Coxe had warned correctly that U.S. corn exports were in danger of seizing up in about three years if the country continues to subsidize ethanol production. Biofuels are expected to eat up about a quarter of America’s grain harvest in 2012, after eating up about one-third in 2007. There are about two dozen stocks in the world that are going to redefine the world’s food supplies, and “those stocks will have a precious value as we move forward.” Donald Coxe said crop yields around the world need to increase to something close to what is achieved in the state of Illinois, which produces over 200 corn bushes an acre compared with an average 30 bushes an acre in the rest of the world.

Mass terror was the undercurrent in the story of food prices in the ongoing monetary wars which have come out of the War on Terror. Every nation on earth that has reserves in US dollars have been contributing to the cost of funding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And there is a sense of irony of the affect on Iran. The weakness of the rial means the country cannot afford to import as many foreign goods and raw materials which are priced in hard currency, and this has harmed the wider Iranian economy. On August 22, 2012, it was reported that the rial was down forty percent over the past twelve months. Over the past thirty days, the currency of Iran has fallen another fifty percent. The BBC reports the rial now has twenty percent of its purchasing power from this time last year. Consequently, the working stiff in the nation is personally suffering with rising unemployment and high inflation. Food prices are rising, despite the government’s effort to import food during 2011.

When Money Dies. Though Aristotle said something about the relationship of democracy to mob rule, it is social mood and risk appetites which determine the way people live their lives, and it is a currency which holds a nation together, and their financial fate. There is the threat to human life which happens next in “mass terror against enemies of the revolution”, as in the days of the Bolshevik Revolution when a people is divided. After the Islamic Republic had tried their form of totalitarianism, and it was was dying, there would be, with regard to love and money, greater executions of the ‘enemies’ of Iran. The New York Times reported today that to buy one US dollar in Tehran late Monday afternoon cost about 34,800 rials, as compared to the cost one week before of 24,600 rials. How over twenty-four months values change, when it was that one dollar brought almost 10,000 rials. Yes, there is just such a tremendous disconnect, with people not understanding the highly dangerous situation they are in. Because it was the price and availability of food that nation really fought wars over. Because despite the horrible leadership among almost all world leaders, we are all human animals with the same basic needs.

Hearing the screams, as money talks. When money dies, accompanied by torture as Iran moves toward a barter economy. There are signs of unrest in this currency story, as a currency collapses after monetary discipline is lost. Iran has had their own version of quantitative easing, as more money was printed. Can you hear the sound of government collapse in all of this paper currency which was like what was coming out of Syria most of this year? With just such a tremendous disconnect, rebellion would not be far behind, with grave consequences to the entire region involving Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Russia. After seeing the cost and availability of food last month compared to the price today, the Iranian populace had begun to act. There were the internal and external screams, as a government attempts to deal both with 29 percent inflation and deflating worth, and its people, seeing the complete lack of direction in its leadership, begin to flee.

Had anyone else recognized the implementation of Lenin’s plan for revolution over the past thirty years in what had happened in the Islamic Republic of Iran? Last week Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stayed on the sidelines, away from a world powers meeting at the U.N. General Assembly of the six nations that have unsuccessfully negotiated with Iran to persuade it to halt its nuclear program. Perhaps Russia had other plans for this neighboring state, or just understood a lot better what the people were living through.

August 22, 2012

The Grain Exchange

The Financial Times said concerns over the US harvest had prompted senior G20 as well as United Nations officials to consider an emergency meeting on food supply, with a scheduled conference call set for August 27. The concern is about global shortages of certain food.

India allegedly has has plenty of wheat, with stocks of 47.5 million tons at the start of August, versus their target of 17.1 million tons.

With some background, the Iranian rial has lost nearly half its value in the past twelve months. In the currency wars. Which explains the saber rattling on the last Friday of Ramadan, called Qods (Jerusalem) Day, initiated with the Islamic Republic in 1979. Addressing worshippers at Tehran University, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called the existence of Israel an insult to all humanity.” And Mahmoud Ahmadinejad then yesterday unveiled an upgraded version of a short-range surface-to-surface ballistic missile weeks after it was test-fire. After the Iranian rial has lost nearly half its value. And the status quo of his regime cannot exist much longer, with the world economic situation, and the grain situation.

As reported by Reuters, under pressure from the United States, India in December 2010 scrapped the decades-old mechanism for paying for oil imports from Iran. Refiners in India, Iran’s second-biggest oil client after China, have been struggling to find a lasting solution to problems caused by U.S. and European sanctions on oil exports from Iran. India and Iran discussed other options for payments, using banks in third countries. With a secured waiver from sanctions imposed on Iran by cutting oil imports, India aims to import at least 15 percent less oil from Tehran in the current fiscal year. Those Indians are being quite understanding with their oil supplier. Refiners in India — Iran’s second-biggest oil client after China, with a reported 500,00 per barrels of oil per day — have been under a new payment mechanism settling 45 percent of its oil purchases from Iran in rupees, continuing to pay the remainder in euros through Turkey’s Halkbank.

As reported by Reuters, specifically by Sarah McFarlane and Michael Hogan, Iran’s state grain buyer continued to build its strategic stocks, purchasing at least 240,000 tons of milling wheat the first week of August, as a drought-fuelled grain price rally kept food security on government radars. While economic sanctions do NOT target food shipments, these sanctions have made it difficult for importers to obtain letters of credit or conduct international transfers of funds through banks. Grain ttraders say that Iran’s purchase included German and Baltic Sea region wheat, taking advantage of the recent correction after a steep rise in June and July grain markets. Reuters reports that Iran’s Government Trading Corporation continued its discreet method of contacting traders directly for offers, making it difficult to glean details of total purchases. Though Iranian grain imports usually have been handled by private sector grain traders, the state was compelled to step in with purchases earlier this year because of disruptions to trade financing which have been caused by economic sanctions aimed at Iran’s nuclear program.

As reported by Reuters, private Iranian buyers also have been in the market two week back, traders note, signalling they may have found ways to finance purchases. “Iran’s has definitely been very active this week,” said a European trader, “what everyone has been working on this week. We have seen private buyers from Iran inquiring about European, Russian and Australian wheat for September shipment. It seems they want to buy for August-March shipment. Financing does not seem to be a major issue,” a European trader said.

As reported by Bloomberg News, purchases of wheat by Iran would help India cut its huge stockpiles of grain as well as save hard currency for Iran.

As reported by Bloomberg News, Ukraine is suffering from a contracting yield, and recently was approached by China as the Asian giant sought to substitute its loss of U.S. Grain. Ukraine’s grain exports rose 31 percent this month through yesterday to 389,000 metric tons, researcher UkrAgroConsult said. Wheat was shipped to Tunisia, Kenya and Egypt, corn to the European Union and barley to Saudi Arabia and Egypt, a Kiev-based researcher said. Shipments included 162,800 tons of wheat, 131,500 tons of barley and 88,300 tons of corn, up from 297,400 tons of grain exported in the same period a year earlier, UkrAgroConsult analyst Liza Malyshko told Bllomberg News. Shipments also rose from 80,800 tons exported in the same period in July, according to an e-mailed statement from UkrAgroConsult last week. Czech Agricultural Minister Peter Brendl told the Prague Post: “I saw with my own eyes how the drought of last April and May has impacted the harvest of south Moravian farmers.  Winter and perennial forage crops were mainly damaged. They had been previously destroyed by the February frost.”

As reported by Reuters, crops are wilting and dying in the Balkans. Hot, dry weather in eastern and southern Europe has put pressure on world grain markets which already reeling from huge drought damage in the United States.

As reported by Reuters, two leading Russian agricultural analysts cut their forecasts for Russia’s grain harvest on Monday after harvest data from two drought-stricken eastern growing regions reduced the outlook for the overall crop. Russia is the world’s number four exporter, the Russian government has put this season’s exportable surplus at ten to twelve million tons, but which could be curbed due to drought damage in its crop. The strong ruble may dampen demand for Russian export grain, when it comes to potential buyers.

China has reined in inflation as its economy slows however, while its grain output stood at 1.3 trillion tonnes in the first half of the year, up 2.8 percent from the same period a year earlier. Monsoon rains were 15.2 percent below average in mid-August, according to latest data from India weather bureau. Indian Food Minister Kuruppasserry Varkey Thomas told parliament this month that prevailing conditions “could affect the crop prospects and may have an impact on prices of essential commodities.” Asian rice prices are forecast to rise by as much as 10 percent in the coming months as supplies tighten. India and Thailand are two of Asia’s leading rice exporters. And the Indian people might soon be asking why their surpluses were shipped to Iran.

As reported by Reuters, an emerging El Nino weather pattern is likely to have only a modest impact on crops in Australia and could benefit sugar cane growers in Queensland, a senior forecaster said. Drier conditions have already settled in over much of the country, with August rainfall to date only about 20 percent of normal, said Andrew Watkins, manager of climate predictions.

Food is in chronic shortage in the Sahel region of Africa where World Vision Australia said 18 million people need food assistance in Niger, Mali, Chad, Mauritania and Senegal.

Farmers in Wales are facing a difficult year ahead after the unusually rainy summer hit crops and pushed up food production costs, a union warns.

The La Nina phenomenon is blamed in the Pampas farm belt, the agricultural heart of Argentina, for the parched soil which came on in the December 2011 – January 2012 dog days of summer in the Southern hemisphere. For one of the largest exporters of food products, the soy crop from last season’s harvest was 40.1 million tons, down from early-season Argentine projections of 52.5 million tons. About 85 percent of the world’s soybeans from the world’s top producers of soy in the United States, Brazil, Argentina, China as well as India are processed or “crushed” annually into soybean meal and oil. South America as a continent produces more soybeans than North America combined production. The Chamber of Oil Industry of Argentina and Cereals Exporters Center (CIARA) predicts Argentine crushers will process 35.5 million tons of soybeans this year, about 1.8 million less than in 2011. In the drought-affected Santa Fe province of Argentina 283 miles north of Buenos Aires, farmers still deal daily with the deterioration of their crops due to drought. Drought both in northern Argentina along with southern Brazil have cut soybean supply there.

The story seems universal in 2102. Mexico is suffering from one of its worst droughts in more than 70 years. Severe weather has also hurt agricultural production in other exporting countries, including Brazil and Australia. The problem in he expansive farmlands of Brazil has been mainly excessive rain.

And Iran is watching as its closest ally loses its hold in Syria. Iran, the real financier of Hezbollah. After Hezbollah seized control of the Lebanese government last year. As U.S. authorities seized $150 million from a New York account of the Lebanon’s Banque Libano Francaise SAL which authorities allege is connected with a larger scheme to launder hundreds of millions of dollars through U.S. banks for the Lebanese terroist group, Hezboolah. U.S. officials believe that Iran and Syria use Lebanese banks to evade international sanctions, the Wall Street Journal reported. The defunct Lebanese Canadian Bank denied Tuesday U.S. claims that it had any connection to Hezbollah.

The status quo of the Iranian regime and its friends cannot exist much longer, with the world economic situation, and the grain situation. If you were in search of the weakest link, as reflected with the weakest currency.

Ayn Rand wrote in Something to Reflect On (1959), “Money is the barometer of a society’s virtue. When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion—when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing —when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors —when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don’t protect you against them, but protect them against you—when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice—you may know that your society is doomed.”

August 5, 2012

Persons of Interest: The Reason for the Fiscal Mess Of Western Governments As Well As Japan

Filed under: European Union,Japan — baseball91 @ 1:48 AM

 Dependent on sales to other EMU nations, Germany’s economy is weakening. In Germany, the nation’s highest court is expected to rule on September 12th whether the European Stability Mechanism —the main financial rescue fund for countries in the European Monetary Union — is permitted under Germany’s constitution, which is a matter of concern in both the euro zone and to the world.

 Spain’s borrowing costs for a ten-year bond closed this week at 6.672 percent, while Italy’s 10-year bond rose above 6 percent. “Bond vigilantes” who trade as rational players in the bond market have been accused of undermining Europe’s recovery and its welfare state. It has always been the bond market which imposes budget discipline on pie-in-the-sky politicians. The collective day-to-day judgments of “bond vigilantes” can now topple governments and hold the key to the survival of a currency. And it would happen this fall, unless Germany decides to leave the European Monetary Union.

 The cause of the crisis would be poor leadership in Europe, if there was any leadership at all. If politicians expected the bond market to speak with one voice, traders commonly complained, it would help if politicians did too. The deceit has been revealed by the markets.

 When a nation-state owes too much money, bond investors raise the borrowing cost of that nation with the risk of default. Italy needs to raise 100 billion euros in bond offerings before 2012 concludes. And Spain with their already existing debt, does require 35 billion euros before 2012 concludes, though another bond offering is not due until October. This was on top of the indebtedness of Spain’s banks and regions, in a shrinking economy. When it had been bond investors who were forced to take buzzcuts on the Greek government bonds held — had it been 50 cents on the dollar? (Read about the reaction of those who ran the Norwegian national pension fund about what they thought of the EU’s forced buzzcuts.)

 Monetary wars. The exchange rate stood at 123 yen to the dollar just before the first tremors of the American housing crisis appeared in 2007, as the Bank of Japan kept interest rates low to stimulate growth, and money flowed out of Japan in search of higher returns. In February 2012, the yen hit a postwar high of 76 yen to the dollar, remaining around 78 to the dollar on Wednesday of this week. The worldwide macroeconomic trends currently favor a strong value of Japan’s currency, to the harm of its competitive stance in global markets.

 Poor leadership in Japan, as the Japanese can trace the start of the yen’s latest rise to the worldwide economic panic that — according to the official spin told over and over until most people believed it — began in the United States and spread to Europe. ‘The crisis’ began raising doubts about the soundness of American and European banks and the ability of governments to stand behind them. The tide of money did reverse. Japan with its huge number of domestic savers soon became a haven for investors, driving the currency value of yen up. Have you followed the comments of the US Treasury Secretary on US policy over the past four years concerning the yen? In the top story in November 2009, Timothy Geithner insisted that the US Treasury has a strong dollar policy. In November 2009, he said the Obama administration was committed to a strong dollar and to actions aimed at bolstering its value, giving reassurances to Asian nations in November 2009. Coming from the world of central banks where expressions in bankspeak are neither normal nor clear, it never has been clear if the strategy between the Fed and the European Central Bank is coordinated or not, or to what extent. In November 2009, lectures were given to President Obama and Timothy Geithner by top Chinese officials about the risks posed to the global economy by America’s ultra-low interest rates and soaring government deficit. So three years later, the pegged level of the yen to the dollar this past Wednesday was around 78. This strong dollar policy has resulted in a drop from around 90 yen to the dollar since Timothy Geithner’s remark about the “strong” dollar. Maybe Japanese leaders actually believed Mr. Geithner.

 Poor leadership in the United States, under both the Bush and Obama Administrations. In these monetary wars used to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan without tax increases. Everyone who held US currency in reserves would fund the War on Terror. In Japan, a high yen benefits Japan’s rapidly expanding elderly population, even if it hurts the younger Japanese. One reason, analysts say, of the vicious cycle of a strong yen and deflation, is generally left unsaid: politics which is pitting one generation against the other. By speeding the flood of cheaper imported products into Japan, the strong yen is contributing to deflation. Doing almost nothing to rein in the yen lets young people suffer, increasing the purchasing power of those with money. Despite alarm that the record-high currency is dealing crippling blows to the country’s once all-important export machine – partly within the government’s power to control – retirees from the baby boom, who make up more than a quarter of the population, tend to vote in high numbers. Even though the long-awaited plan released this week identifies the heart of the problem as Japan’s aging population and declining export ability in a competitive Asai, analysts said the government’s modest approach fails to take on the entrenched interests in monetary wars, including the elderly who have long stood in the way of fundamental change.

 It was another election year, with nominated candidates with such poor leadership skills to manage this Promise Land — but such nice hair. In the televised world, there was that shrinking universe without good leadership which has resulted in a shrinking universe of safe assets. In the way of homeland security, Norway was one nation which looked to be safe. The upward-demand pressures to place assets in a place of safety is now my personal crisis, wth negative implications when there was no financial stability anywhere. With such a projected scenario of the collapse of the euro, how soon would vigilantes follow the bond vigilantes.


April 17, 2012

In Europe, Fiscal Matter Strikes Still Object

Filed under: Hyman Minsky — baseball91 @ 9:45 PM
Tags: ,

Within the new World Economic Outlook, International Monetary Fund’s chief economist Olivier Blanchard recommends that ‘unconventional’ monetary policy (such as Europe’s Long-Term Refinancing Operations, in which the European Central Bank offers unlimited low-cost loans to Europe’s banks) should continue. Stated in its latest Global Financial Stability Report: “The sizable presence of central banks in the long-term government securities market may limit the room for further policy manoeuvre, and may constrain central bank flexibility in smoothly unwinding current monetary policies.”

So this is it, with all the cards on the table: Economist Blanchard believes that there is scope for “further monetary easing.” Olivier Blanchard told reporters in Washington that the International Monetary Fund was doing “everything possible” to prevent a country from being forced to leave the eurozone; Blanchard added the IMF does not have a “Plan B” in case this should happen.

Meanwhile, that September 2011 move dubbed Operation Twist — intended to spur spending and investment by making borrowing cheaper — is scheduled to end June 30, 2012. The Federal Reserve Bank of the United States has been adjusting its central bank’s securities portfolio to hold more long-term government debt and mortgage bonds. Some version of additional quantitative easing from the Federal Reserve should be anticipated before June. The stock markets have been manipulated to their current heights, and if the Fed’s policy is the most extreme policy even, then Europe is beyond extreme. What possible plan exists should these extreme measures fail?

“The shrinking universe of safe assets and the upward-demand pressures have negative implications for global financial stability,” states an article in its latest Global Financial Stability Report. In its larger and larger role, the International Monetary Fund has cast significant doubt over Italy’s plans to tackle its debt mountain and return to growth. The Fund’s just published new Fiscal Monitor report predicted that Mario Monti will only manage to lower Italy’s deficit to 2.4% of GDP this year, not the 1.6% target. This forecast is a blow to Prime Minister Mario Monti’s sliding popularity and just as the country’s borrowing costs rise. Monti’s reform efforts are meeting rising criticism and resistance.

In Spain, borrowing costs jumped sharply, but investors were relieved at day’s end the auction by the Spanish Treasury found buyers for €3.18bn of 12-month and 18-month treasury bills which was slightly more than its maximum target. The IMF’s latest World Economic Outlook, just published in Washington, predicted sharp contractions in Spain and Italy this year. Stronger German economic sentiment is providing an excuse to overlook the worsening situation in Italy and Spain.

The IMF also warned that the risk of an escalating eurozone debt crisis remains, and that the global economic recovery remained fragile. The International Monetary Fund expects the eurozone to shrink by 0.3% this year, with Italy contracting by 1.9% and Spain by 1.8%. The bigger test comes at the auction of longer-term Spanish bonds on Thursday. In Spain, Miguel Ángel Fernández Ordóñez, governor of the Bank of Spain, warned that Spain will face “financing difficulties for some time.” He has also given his backing to the country’s current fiscal plans, telling a parliamentary committee that this is the only way to maintain market confidence.

As Spain struggles to cut one of Europe’s largest budget deficit to shore up investor confidence, borrowing costs have surged to four-month highs in past days because of concerns over Spain’s ailing finances. The country faces an important test Thursday during a planned auction of long-term government bonds. Earlier in April, Spain suffered weak demand at a bond sale which was followed by a sustained sell-off of its debt in secondary markets. Yesterday Spain reminded regional governments it could seize control of their finances.

The International Monetary Fund now expects overall global growth of 3.5% this year (up from 3.3%), and growth of 4.1% in 2013 (up from 3.9%). Olivier Blanchard, who was brought in by the former Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn in September 2008, is a fan of John Maynard Keynes. The overall plan is to achieve some kind of economic stasis before imposing widespread tax increases where the patient’s condition stabilizes. Stop the bleeding, protest the wound, worry first about growth, because austerity can be self-defeating. Treat for shock. Then tackle the deficits; use aggressive monetary policy to drive down short-term and long-term interest rates; deflation not inflation is a bigger risk.

And there were far-reaching implications in the news this week from China. With the government already talking about liberalizing interest rates, now it is also taking steps to allow the exchange rate too float a little more freely. And all the while news of the accusations against the wife of Bo Xilai (he from a prominent revolutionary family) as well as his fall from grace, with his old strident view on communism, seem connected to the announcement of a greater two-way fluctuation in a wider trading band of the yuan starting today against the dollar – widening to between 1% above and 1% below a daily reference exchange rate. The end of expectations of yuan appreciation is directly related to population and to demographics. To realize the challenge to live in a nation of one billion, to feed the children of the one billion. And you felt more or less confident about the future? So will the Chinese citizen take up the investment slack? This with an existing pledge of the Chinese government to bring consumption into play as a driver of growth, in the Chinese form of capitalism, The People’s Bank’s decision is significant for what it says about the direction of China’s reform.

It was six months ago that Tom Orlik of the Wall Street Journal warned that change in China’s exchange-rate strategy was most unlikely. In the preceding three months the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index has fallen 35 percent. The strategy followed in Beijing was one of gradual appreciation. “Yes, China heads into the possibility of a second global downturn with more problems than it did the first,” wrote Orlik, “but markets have gotten ahead of themselves.”

China said its economy grew 8.1% in the first three months of 2012, its slowest pace in nearly three years, with weak demand in the nation’s key export markets. Probably because twenty-five percent of its exports went to the eurozone. China’s main weaknesses continue to be its dependency on exports and a real-estate bubble. In response, China is lowering interest rates, to pump a weakening economy. Because the winds from the eurozone would be sure to deflate the real estate bubble for the rest of the year in China.

There were not those sucking noises when air pressure collapses, as bubbles burst. As the way a bubble ends is not with a pop, but with a hiss. There was slow climate change, when stability is lost. While facing a shrinking universe of safe assets, with the loss of global financial stability, The Federal Reserve Bank of the United States has been adjusting its central bank’s securities portfolio to hold more long-term government debt and mortgage bonds. It sounded too much like nostalgia for the good old-days. Because as more instability was to come, nations had to be ready for the storm. And people lived more and more day to day. A lot like the people of China have always had to live over the past one hundred years.

It was fifty years ago when Time magazine ran the cover story asking if God was dead. The answer was “No, just in Europe.” And no one anywhere would want to be left holding the bonds of whatever was left of the individual EU nation, in this age of divorce.


April 4, 2012

Removing the Claws from Clawback

Filed under: Bernie Maddoff,Minnesota — baseball91 @ 7:06 PM
Tags: , , , ,

Mark Dayton signed into law Tuesday legislation that shields Minnesota nonprofits which are being asked to return millions in tainted donations, in cases when time had elapsed after the donations were made and the money spent. The retroactive legislation overwhelmingly endorsed in House and Senate votes became controversial only in the days leading up to Governor Dayton’s signature – perhaps because after years of budget cuts at newspapers, no one was left to write thoughtful pieces about what soon would be public policy. According to the StarTribune, it was discovered this legislation seriously affects the potential for collection attempts such as those to existing clawback cases stemming from the Petters bankruptcy, in recovery of losses for victims of a Ponzi scheme like Tom Petters’; Petters’ alleged co-conspirator Frank Vennes Jr., their associates, and Mr. Petters made as much as $425 million in tainted donations, bankruptcy trustee Doug Kelley estimated.

The issue is tainted donations. Charities asked for a pass because they claim that they lack the resources to do due diligence on all of their contributors and, in some cases, already have unwittingly spent the money by the time criminal activity is associated with the donation. Because nonprofits did not have the time or staff that the rest of the world should have to look into why the return on investments were so high? Does the law shield Minnesota nonprofits, but the nonprofits from other states are not shielded? After years of having news presented with a local angle, thinking had developed here that some were better than others – in need of a shield as this law does give extended immunity to charitable and religious organizations that take donations and contributions unwittingly which are a result of ill-gotten gains.

Estimating the sought contributions total as much as $445 million in the case of Petters, Kelley said those funds should be returned to to creditors of Petters’ business operations as well as the investors who were victims of Petters’ $3.65 billion scheme. Under the signed law, only half of the $445 million may be collectible under the new law.

The morality of keeping tainted money has nothing to do with the number of years after donations were made and the money spent, unwittingly. There is a lot of irony here to have a governor who comes from one of the most generous families in Minnesota history to be left to decide the issue of tainted money. Legislative supporters of the bill – charitable groups like Big Brothers/Big Sisters of the Twin Cities (Attorney Robert McCollum who sits on the board of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Twin Cities called Dayton’s action “a significant day in the history of the state for nonprofits.”) and chemical addiction treatment program Minnesota Teen Challenge, along with representatives of bankruptcy trustee Doug Kelley – were in the governor’s office Tuesday morning as the governor considered his last-minute options on the bill.

So no legislator knew how the issue of the rape of Europa was handled at the end of WW II, concerning stolen art? The Minnesota legislature was not much better than those two generations ago considering what happened to all the art hijacked by the Nazis — because they were of Aryan blood — or, about what happened to all the perpetrators involved with crimes against humanity who were never punished. And it was left to private citizens who survived like Simon Wiesenthal with the inner passion to seek real justice.

So legislators have no idea about the current state of fund-raising? A charity keeps dossiers on who their benefactors are before the head of a charity solicits a gift. There is a bit of irony of the timing of this piece, as Benedict XVI last week referred to the reality of “human evil and ignorance,” within even his church. He was alluding to a cozy relationship some clergy appear to have in Mexico with the overlords of drug cartels who sometimes give money to the church to demonstrate their Catholic bona fides. Maybe a lot like Tom Petters. So when it comes to inheritance, birthrights, and being the receiver of goodness, how are the Big Brothers/Big Sisters going to teach these kids how to live when faced with the hard decisions. Because Minnesota nonprofits did not have the time or staff or money that the rest of the world was expected to have to look into why the return on investments were so high? After years of having news presented with a local angle, thinking had developed here that some were better than others, and a law was need to shield Minnesota nonprofits – without comment on nonprofits from other states.

“Organizations can now move forward without the fear that they one day may have to pay back what was donated to them,” Attorney McCollum who does volunteer his time to sit on the board of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Twin Cities, said in a StarTribune interview Tuesday. The signed legislation makes organizations liable to return tainted contributions received unwittingly within two years of a donation. The StarTribune vaguely stated that any questionable contributions — ill-gotten gains –discovered after two years are not affected by the law. In an e-mail Tuesday, bankruptcy trustee Doug Kelley told the StarTribune he would probably challenge the constitutionality of the new law.

On issues of tainted money, lobbyists were actively involved in this legislation, in the system set up financing elections. Note the magic in coming to a period of time, just like those legislative elections. What was so magical about two years?

It has been previously reported that Governor Dayton’s chairman of the METROPOLITAN SPORTS FACILITIES COMMISSION, Ted Mondale, had started a company with money loaned from the ill-gotten gains of Tom Petters. Perhaps placed in charge to lead the charge to collect tainted public tax money so that athletes, in the age of free agency, can play their games in a place and receive their riches way above the working women and working men — without any claws to fight back — before they leave Minnesota, so much better than the rest of us. This same prevalent thinking was what allowed churches and the Boy Scouts to be above the law, as if charities and their employees did not have to be watched over — so much better than the society that they served.

In a world more and more with thoughtless leaders. In a world more and more surrounded by thoughtless people, the recipients of charity thought they were entitled — after a certain period of time — to all of the perceived to be goodness from their beneficiaries with money. In a world more and more with thoughtless charities, there was so little thought put into the justice issues concerning the morality of law in Minnesota. Yes, Attorney Robert McCollum called Dayton’s action “a significant day in the history of the state for nonprofits.” And as a result there was justifiably more and more doubt if charity and love would — or should — prevail.

Alpha Inventions Site Ranking

February 15, 2012

SWIFT Movement Against Iran

The covert campaign beyond economic sanctions, targeting atomic officials and institutions in Iran brought to four the number of Iranian scientists killed by bombs in the past two years, as an assailant on a motorcycle slapped a magnetic bomb onto the Peugot 405 belonging to a 32-year-old chemical engineer in rush-hour in a northern Tehran neighborhood. The dead scientist was employed as deputy director of a large uranium-enrichment facility – Iran’s main uranium-enrichment facility – near the town of Natan; his bodyguard also was also killed.

When you lost your power base. The suddenness of bomb blasts, love, revolutions. The suddenness of them all, with lingering affects of age. When outside forces forced your hand, as hunger or drought leads to famine. When it was time to move on. Into the future.

A holy people, a holy Muslim nation. And then the The PIGS nations. Portugal, Italy, Greece, Spain. Along with The Netherlands and France. All having oil supplies from Iran cut, per the announcement Wednesday by Tehran state media. Because there was no free press.

Did you notice the nations not on Iran’s list? India. Germany. Belgium where SWIFT headquarters are (in La Hulpe, near Brussels). Like the Federal Reserve Bank, the cooperative is owned by its member financial institutions, under Belgian Law. With offices world-wide.

Ruthless embargoes. The evidence of ruthlessness since 1981. Per the semiofficial Mehr News Agency, so extend oil-purchasing contracts long term with Iran, or face a cutoff. As Iran was looking at cutting off eighteen percent of their own exports, if these PIGS nations did not renew contracts immediately long-term. (Was there some theological irony that the cutoff was not announced to involve the BIG (Belgium, India, Germany) PIGS?)

Terror. Have you paid attention to the funding source for world-wide terror, if you became interested in charting not only the changes that were triggered by different events, but what different limitations did?

Evidence based upon factual data. The evidence against Iran. The funding source. How it treats it own. How it treats its allies. How it treats it exiles.

When the theology had become just for show in Iran? The Qods Force of the Ayaollah. Killing journalists and politicians. When life had no value, these honor killings were just for show? And all the “Show Trials” in Iranian courts.

Ruthless embargoes. The chronology of ruthlessness since 1981. The litany of terror throughout the world. In Germany. In India. In Bangkok. There was a pattern developing.

January 16, 1979: Shah of Iran forced into exile. Ayatollah Khomeni returned on Feburary 1, 1979.
February 10, 1979: Shah’s army surrended to the will of the people. Provisional government proclaimed the next day, with Mehdi Barzagan prime minister. Hundred accused of being members of SAVAK, with property seized and imprisonment. The world changed. Schools taken over.
November 4, 1979: Islamic Revolutionary Guards overtake US Embassy. Barzagan resigns.
December 1979: Nephew of the Shah assassinated in Paris.
July 1980: Posing as reporters, gunmen attmept to kill Shahpur Bakhtiar, the last Prime Minister of Iran under the Shah (later 1992 attempt succeeds).
July 1980: Assassination in Bethesda, Maryland carried out by David Theodore Belfield, an American now using the name Hassan Abdulrahman – formerly known by a name by a name he took at his conversion at age 18 to Islam which was Dawud Salahuddin — which is when he first got involved with Islamist radical movements in the United States. From a security guard position at the Iranian interest section of the Algerian Embassy in Washington, Dawud Salahuddin accepted an assignment on behalf of the Iranian Revolutionary government to carry out a political assassination in the Washington suburbs of Ali Akbat Tabatabai, a former press attache of the Shah’s regime living in exile. Dressed as a mailman, Dawud Salahuddin gunned down Ali Akbar Tabatabai at his home near the Montgomery Mall in 1980. Dawud Salahuddin then fled the United States.
September 1980: War with Iraq. No one was allowed to leave without a special passport. “No one wanted to know. About war, prisons. We were afraid to ask because we were afraid of KNOWING. Maybe if we can pretend it never happened, it will all be forgotten.”
June 1981: President Banisadr is impeached by Khomeni’s parliament.
June 28, 1981: Islamic Republic Party hdqtrs is bombed. General secretary Ayatollah Mohammad Beheshti (head of judicial system) is dead with 70 others.
August 1981: New president Mohammad Ali Rajai, one of the leaders of the cultural revolution is killed along with the head of the Tehran police force (believed to be due to internal strife/purge of a new government.)
1982: Iran established Hezbollah
1983: Hezbollah attacks in Lebanon the US Marine Corps’ barracks.
July 1989: Ghassemlou, the leader of Kurdish DPKI party, is assassinated in Vienna at bequest of Iranian government.
April 1990: Kazem Rajavi, member of the Iranian opposition, is assassinated in Switzerland.
1991: Politician Abdulrahman Borroumand is assassinated in France.

March 17, 1992: Bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires which killed 29.

June 1992: Popular Iranian singer Fereydoun Farrokhzad is beheaded.

September 1992: Terror killing of four Kurdish exiles while holding a meeting in a small Berlin restaurant, part of contract put out on the lives of 500 Iranians in exile.

July 18, 1994: Car bombing of the Amia Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, which killed 85

March 8, 2007: Retired FBI agent-turned-security consultant Robert Levinson checked into a Kish Island hotel to investigate, Levinson’s family said in 2010, a cigarette smuggling case which he was working as a private investigator in Dubai. CNN previously reported that shortly before his disappearance, Levinson met at the Hotel Maryam with Dawud Salahuddin, the American fugitive, now living in Iran. During the meeting, Iranian security personnell entered the room, detaining both Levinson and Salahuddin. Salahuddin was subsequently released. Levinson never returned to his own hotel room. No one has seen him since. It has been reported that he allegedly checked out to return to the United States the next day, as he went missing. New evidence suggests that he is alive and being held in Asia, according to U S Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. With diabetes and high blood pressure, Levinson retired in 1997 from the FBI and later became a principal at the consulting firm Business Integrity International. He has not involved in intelligence matters with the bureau, officials have said. There was intial reports that the US Government believed that Levinson was visiting Iran for research on a book regarding Russian organized crime. In December 2007, Levinson’s wife and other family members traveled to Iran and met with officials. A year later, when she flew to the United Nations to ask questions about her husband, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declined to meet her. Christine Levinson has said the Iranian government was polite and guaranteed her family’s security on their trip but provided no details regarding her husband’s whereabouts.

The terror killings continue. Active in promoting Iranian women’s rights, Gelareh Bagherzadeh was struck by a single bullet outside her home that entered the passenger door window in Houston, on January 17,2012. A thirty-year old Iranian molecular genetic technology student at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Bagherzadeh died from the bullet wound, as she talked with an ex-boyfriend on a cellphone. Detectives found her murder occurred after she drove home, suspecting either someone was waiting for her or that she had been followed. Someone might send the Houston Police a copy of the book, Assassins of the Turquoise Palace.

While President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was being “briefed “ on “new nuclear achievements” expected to be announced later today.

Cheap. The affect on people of their currency. As life became even cheaper there. The insouciance from the rest of the world over economic sanctions, without previously affecting The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), operating worldwide exchanging codes when transferring money between banks, particularly for international financial institutions on the SWIFTNet Network.

Looking to transmit, via a secure system, payment. Transmitting a message. Like a woman wanted from a man. When murder steals fertility. Like war did. The terror when you killed your neighbors, in the name of God, with impunity. And left widows and orphans. Like this week in India or Bangkok. Around the clock and around the world, the terror created by Hezbollah, both pre and post September 11, 2001.

Claiming its scientists were victims of “cruel, inhumane and criminal acts of terrorism,” was there irony when Iran filed a formal complaint about the attack late Wednesday with the United Nations?

Evidence based upon factual data. The further escalating tension. Buried deep underground, the construction of a new uranium enrichment plant, known as Fordo, had been kept a secret until the Western intelligence confirmation of its existence. The Iranian government acknowledged the plant in September 2009, just as the United States and its European allies announced its existence. At the time Iran said that they had always intended to reveal the existence of the Fordo plant.

The affect on a people of their currency, as life became cheap, with the insouciance from the rest of the world over exiles, and the homeless, led by European Union Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton, the modern day Neville Chamberlain, who now offers Iran a new round of talks toward an agreement that “restores international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program.”

The fierceness that came out of Liberation Movements. In the struggle for hearts and minds. When you no longer fit in here, as Muslims. When you were removed by either distant miles or time from the way of life which you had grown up with. When there were two million Iranian exiles.

Round up the usual suspects. Issue a proclamation about Israel. And target a few more Iranian living in exile. While Dawud Salahuddin worked at the English-language flagship station run by the Iranian government, as an editor for Press TV.

As the meek inherit the earth. The ensuing great doubts when you had comforts and lost them. Like home, a wife, or shared belief.

Did you see the pattern which both Iran and Hezbollah believed in? As only the size of their bombs increased. As India continues buying 500,000 barrels of their tainted oil each day. Ask a Syrian this week why would anyone buy the exported oil of Iran, or their Islamic ideals.

Maybe you had read about the Russian revolution. Life in Iran had been just as disruptive over the last thirty years. There are two million Iranian exiles who left, mostly before September 1980.

February 1978 in a Florida bar, I sat next to Iranians students learning how to fly aircraft as part of their studies attending a local university. I paid no attention whether they consumed alcohol.

After torture and internal spying, a homeland was not secure, and no one ever was the same. I wonder what ever happened to those Iranians in that Florida bar 34 years later.


JANUARY 2013 POST SCRIPT: In Algeria this week, Mokhtar Belmokhtar was accused of ordering an attack on a gas facility, master-minding the plot to take hostages and kill hostages. Nicknamed “Mr Marlboro”, Belmokhtar acquired the name because of his role in Algerian cigarette-smuggling across the Sahel region to finance his jihad. Did anyone see the connection between this story and the pattern of what it was that Robert Levinson had been investigating in that Kish Island hotel? The Levinson family had said in 2010, that he was there in a cigarette smuggling case which he was working as a private investigator in Dubai. And so he met prior to his disappearance from the Hotel Maryam Dawud Salahuddin.

 

January 2015 POST SCRIPT: See this news out of Argentina, per the attched link.
http://news.nationalpost.com/2015/01/23/mysterious-death-of-argentine-prosecutor-revives-tales-of-hezbollah-sleeper-cells-and-secret-deals-with-iran/


Religion Blogs

November 30, 2011

Dancing In The Dark

Filed under: China,European Union — baseball91 @ 3:53 PM
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The Federal Reserve moved Wednesday with other major central banks in a co-ordinated dance affecting world monetary policy. In the co-ordinated move with the Chinese Central Bank, the Bank of Japan, the European Central Bank, and the central banks of Britain, Canada and Switzerland, the United States Federal Reserve shared in a new version of QE2, easing the liquidity requirements to to the Euroepan Central Bank for European banks as a whole. Apparently to avoid, in times of dependency, world-wide runs on all banks. Just as European banks are dumping European government debt.

The Chinese government on Wednesday evening unexpectedly reversed its year-long move toward tighter monetary policy which had been aimed at curbing inflation which still persists. Weakening economic growth has now replaced inflation as the top worry in China, with the dramatic fall in exports to Europe announced within the past thirty days. The Chinese announcement to buttress the financial system, a particular surprise because the central bank usually announces moves on Friday evenings, came after the Shanghai stock market had slumped 3.3 percent on worries that the government might not act. The reduction in the so-called reserve requirement ratio – an important step to encourage banks to resume lending – came after the central bank had in 2011 increased interest rates three times, and raised the reserve requirement ratio six times.

In a speech in San Francisco Fed’s vice chair, Janet Yellen, on Tuesday underscored “the urgency of strengthened international policy cooperation”. She said that “the global economy is facing critical challenges.” The Federal Reserve then acted Wednesday morning with other major central banks to increase the availability of dollars outside the United States, reflecting a growing concern about the fallout of the European debt crisis. Banks outside the euro zone have been cutting their lines of credit to those inside the zone, as the United States was about to embark on a new stress test of its lenders which includes contingency planning against further disruptions in Europe. It would not be be surprising if the planned new stress testing would provoke American banks to cut their exposure to their euro counterparts, further exacerbating European funding problems.

It’s a wonderful life. As QE2 sails to Europe, on the back of the Federal Reserve Bank. The terms of the revised agreement announced by the Federal Reserve Wednesday reduces to 0.5 percentage points an existing premium of one percentage point, cutting the cost nearly in half. A most recent loan to the Euroepan Central Bank which had carried an interest rate of 1.08 percent, now would cost 0.58 percent.

Xia Bin is a member of the Chinese Central Bank who had said one year ago that U.S. quantitative easing amounted to “uncontrolled” money printing. The academic member of the Chinese central bank, Xia Bin had been quoted this week as saying a crucial part of China’s fine-tuning of monetary policy is to differentiate reserve requirements between banks. He is probably not as well tuned in as Janet Yellin, at least concerning reductions in the reserve requirement ratio.

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October 16, 2011

Newly Engineered European Bailouts

Filed under: euro,European Union — baseball91 @ 6:23 AM

“We are in the middle of a crisis. It is not over. It is to be taken seriously, but it is centrally an American crisis.” – German Finance Ministry spokesman Torsten Albig on September 15, 2008.

Economic physics. Can you spell C R A S H? The Great Depression was all about a crash. Credit markets dried up after The Crash on Wall Street. Secular declines, market trends which head in the opposite direction, follow crashes in long time frames anywhere from five to twenty-five years. With all the earmarks of deflation now setting in, in Europe.

WHILE EUROPE SLEPT

“At this stage, we’re quite confident.” – A spokesman for the French Finance Ministry, who said that French banks and French government debt agency, Agence France-Tresor, are not in danger from the market turmoil in the U.S. on September 15, 2008

The system. European banks have become pretend banks, with no money. Across Europe, according to Autonomous Research, loans to banks exceed their deposits by 6 percent. Among French banks, loans exceed deposits by 19 percent. In Greece, they swamp deposits by 32 percent.

THREE YEARS AFTER

On Saturday, Finance ministers and central bankers from the Group of 20 called on European leaders to deliver a comprehensive plan to address the European continent’s deepening sovereign-debt crisis. On Wednesday, representatives of the European Union had told European banks that they need to raise more capital to protect themselves against losses on sovereign debt, or politicians will do it. The G20 meeting included non-European countries who have pushed Europe to speed up the plan taking shape among euro-zone countries to address the euro crisis, with the scramble to save the euro and prevent Greece’s debt woes from spreading. Ah, I think they have not been reading the papers about the monetary wars.

About the market dynamics which serve as the regulator out of control world of currency. The Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome on currency which came to all currency out of monetary wars. The current euro crisis was such an after-effect. After the dollar has eroded forty percent over the past decade, the recent rise of the dollar over the past sixty days has itself been a cause of worry in the United States? To whom? Do you need further proof that a weak currency is inflationary than a trip to the grocery store?

If you believed the experts – and I do not – the cause of the bubble which began hissing in 2008 was sub-prime loans, as the political spin doctors in Washington were able to point fingers at bankers rather than at this monetary policy set by the Federl Reserve Bank and the Treasury Department in the Monetary wars. In September 2001 one euro bought 0.92 US dollars. On November 19 WTI crude oil bottomed at $16.70, days after China entered the World Trade Organization. Was it Europe, China, the US, or was this just significant cyclical events, as US debt outstanding through 2009 would more than double, the euro would appreciate by 95% against the dollar, and crude oil would appreciate by 780%. And was the EU foolish for getting dragged into the financing of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with no tax increases in the US?

It was a world where governments levy taxes not to finance its operations, but to give value to its fiat money as sovereign credit instruments. French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde in June 2010 had said that budget consolidation is “priority No. 1” for most G-20 members, as Timothy Geithner at the conclusion of the June 2010 G20 meeting expressed concern over the confidence in the system.

The current [euros?] crisis marks the end of an era of credit expansion based on the dollar as the international reserve currency. We are now in a period of wealth destruction. The system is broken.” — George Soros

Can you spell C R A S H? That is what wealth destruction is all about. Less concerned about the loss of buying power for their own citizens, a lot of nations pursue a policy of a weak currencies, hoping that will help their exporters. Especially in monetary wars which have funded the American wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, with no rise in taxes leveled on an American public over the past ten years.

As the European debt crisis threatens to halt an anemic global economic recovery, and efforts to deliver a plan to address the crisis dominated discussion at the G20 Paris talks. here is recent discussion over direct exposure of the U.S. financial system to the countries under the most pressure in Europe, with little regard to the indirect exposure. Last week, officials at Morgan Stanley worked overtime trying to calm investors about the bank’s $39 billion in exposure to French banks at the end of last year, not counting hedges and collateral. The total amount of insurance written do not reflect other offsetting trades that bring down these banks’ actual exposure significantly. For investors, the challenges in trying to assess the true exposures are real. At the end of the week, Morgan Stanley appeared to have relieved some investor fears over its exposure to Europe. (Some analysts argue that the amount today is far lower than $39 billion.) Therefore investors have to trust that the institutions are being appropriately rigorous .

“Many of the risks in these institutions are maddeningly hard to plumb, and open to a range of interpretations as banks reduce their exposure to a possible loss by the amount of collateral they have collected from a trading partner. Is the collateral that has been supplied to secure derivatives contracts solid? Is the bank valuing it properly? Can it be located quickly?” asks Gretchen Morgenson. How about in a deflating European economy, when there is no money being loaned?

Monetary war. After the Bank of England announced, in a desperate effort to stave off a new credit crisis and a UK recession, it would pump more money into the economy, the cost of borrowing sterling for three months in the London interbank market fell Friday, its first drop since June 8. Meanwhile, the cost of borrowing dollars and euros for three months in the London interbank market rose last Monday. Ten days ago the Bank of England had announced a fresh round of quantitative easing to stimulate economic growth, meaning it will print an extra GBP75 billion of cash to buy bonds. Data from the British Bankers' Association showed the three-month sterling LIBOR (London Interbank Offered Rate) falling to 0.95875% from 0.96000%. The spread between the three-month dollar LIBOR and the three-month overnight index swap rate–a barometer of banks' willingness to lend–widened to 30.4 basis points from 30.2 basis points Thursday. The euro rate rose to 1.50375% from 1.49563% Thursday, while the three-month dollar rate rose to 0.39111% from 0.38778%.

European banks now have become pretend banks, with no money. Across Europe, according to Autonomous Research, loans to banks exceed their deposits by 6 percent. Among French banks, loans exceed deposits by 19 percent. In Greece, they swamp deposits by 32 percent, writes Gretchen Morgenson.

This is why, writes Gretchen Morgenson, it is becoming such a problem for European banks that so many short-term lenders are declining to renew when loans come due. Money market funds, traditionally big investors in short-term paper issued by European banks, have been reducing exposures. A recent Fitch Ratings report shows that for the two months ended July 31, the 10 largest United States prime money market funds pared their holdings in European banks by 20.4 percent, in dollar terms. In the same period, the funds cut their exposure to Italian and Spanish banks by 97 percent.

But these money funds, with total assets of $658 billion, held $309 billion in debt obligations issued by European banks. That’s equivalent to 47 percent of these funds’ total assets. “We’re seeing a lot of the same things in the markets that we saw in the Lehman era,” Carl B. Weinberg, chief economist at High Frequency Economics in Valhalla, N.Y., told Gretchen Morgenson.

“The economic performance of euro zone countries is diverging at a fast clip,” writes Fred Norris of the New York Times, “when financing became hard to get for many exporters, and customers slashed orders.” The divergence is caused by the battle of deflation with inflation, in the long recognized monetary wars. The trend in countries like Germany is continuing for countries whose economies are in decent shape, though the recovery in trade in other European nations appears to be over. “The issue now is a simple one – the buyers cannot afford what they used to buy, writes Fred Norris. “Imports have returned to pre-crisis levels in Italy and France, as well as much more dramatically in Ireland, Portugal and Spain”— the largest nations forced to seek bailouts.

Pretend banks in a pretend world of union. These European nations have no more unity, never had union, like so many couples living together in sin. And when the going gets tough, a lot more people getting going or just tossed out.

Carl B. Weinberg outlined to Gretchen Morgenson of the New York Times what he sees as the major risks which fall into two categories. “Outside the U.S., we never really resumed credit growth since 2009,” he said. “Another hit now would bring credit down and impose a huge squeeze on small businesses throughout Europe and over here also.” Of the two areas of major risk, explained to Gretchen Morgenson, one is the potential for losses incurred by financial institutions that wrote credit insurance on European government debt and the European banks which own so much of that paper. The other major concern is the likely economic hit as banks in the euro zone curb lending significantly. A crucial mechanism linking financial players in the United States to the problems in Europe involves credit derivatives contracts. Carl B. Weinberg expects credit around the world to become even scarcer.

Accounting rule makers even disagree about the right way to approach the manner in which an institution offsets its winning and losing derivatives trades to come up with a so-called net exposure. Standard setters in the United States allow an institution to survey all the contracts it has with a trading partner and compute exposure as the difference between winning trades and losing ones. The Bank for International Settlement, Gretchen Morgenson point out, has a different standard for European banks.

“Stock investors have a bad habit of dismissing problems in the credit markets until it is too late. Make no mistake: the troubles of Europe and its debt-weakened banks will imperil the United States.” For many, it is no longer a question of whether but WHEN Greece will default on its government debt. “Back in the summer of 2007, the stock market was roaring, despite obvious problems in the mortgage market,” writes Gretchen Morgenson.

When credit is the air that business breathes. All over the world. In China, Cheng Siwei, head of Beijing's International Finance Forum and a former deputy speaker of the People's Congress, said interest rate rises and credit curbs to cool overheating were inflicting real pain on thousands of companies used by local party bosses to fund the construction boom. "The tightening policy is creating a lot of difficulties for local governments trying to repay debt, and is causing defaults," he told a meeting at the World Economic Forum in Dalian. "Our version of subprime in the US is lending to local authorities and the government is taking this very seriously."

If he had been correct about the United States in 2008, when Willem H. Buiter then of the European Institute, Professor of European Political Economy, London School of Economics and Political Science said that there “was little doubt, in my view, that the Federal authorities will choose the inflation and currency depreciation route over the default route,” his theory would seem to apply to the Eurpean Union. “Together will the foreseeable increase in actual government liabilities because of vastly increased future Federal deficits, this implies the need for a future private to public sector resource transfer that is most unlikely to be politically feasible without recourse to inflation. The only alternative is default on the debt.” He now works for Citibank.

And about those credit derivative that got AIG into the bailout. Still they are sold, unregulated, without requirements for companies to post reserves like the state regulated insurance industry. And speculators can really play games in such markets, with so little supervision. When the next bubble pops, the credit derivative folks with their Ponzi scheme will be the only people left with money.

Of course those European regulators did not address their own problems. In the words of Gretchen Morgenson, ""ONE troubling aspect of the euro zone crisis is just how large the European banks’ sovereign debt holdings are. "At many institutions, the positions dwarf what American institutions held in mortgage-related securities, for example, when compared to book values. Why? Regulators encouraged European banks to hold huge amounts of European government debt by letting them account for these investments as if they posed zero risk. — and that meant the banks didn’t need to set aside a single euro in capital against those holdings. Now, according to an analysis by Autonomous Research, 43 large European banks hold debt in troubled sovereigns that is equal to 63 percent of those institutions’ book values. Adding to the peril is that these banks are funded primarily by short-term investors, like buyers of commercial paper, rather than by depositors, as is more often the case with American banks. This was the same problem faced by Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers, which collapsed after short-term lenders fled in panic."

Economic union was not true union. And in the age of the divorce, in the sign of the times, the custody battle was foreseeable in this failed relationship issue, involving credit cards.

“The average life span of the world’s greatest civilizations has been two hundred years … and once a society becomes successful it becomes arrogant, righteous, overconfident, corrupt, and decadent … overspends … with costly wars. Wealth inequity and social tensions increase. And society enters a secular decline.” –Marc Faber

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October 10, 2011

Gradual Appreciation

Filed under: China,currency,Moneyball — baseball91 @ 11:11 PM

Monetary wars: On Tuesday the U.S. Senate considered a vote on al bill which threatens China, unless it revalues its currency, with broad-ranging sanctions, while ignoring a whole host of other factors in the Chinese economy which distort price signals, beyond currency. Some here, like Senator Charles Schumer, apparently think that the US still has the broad power which the national economy provided following World War II. Proposed by New York Senator Chuck Schumer, the motivation in this legislation has more to do with an upcoming national elecction of the ongoing recession, and less to do with Chinese inaction. Over the past twelve months, China actually has allowed the renimbi to gradually appreciate by 5.2% which means Chinese goods are at least 10% more expensive than one year ago. The intent of the Senate bill was directed at persistent high unemployment in the States. The Senate bill would likely damage U.S. relations with Beijing, said China’s Vice Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai.

The yuan appreciated to 6.3486 per dollar, the strongest level since China unified the official and market exchange rates at the end of 1993. With mounting concerns about China’s growth, fears of yuan depreciation could spark outflows of speculative funds. Setting the official yuan-dollar exchange rate at a record high signals a commitment to letting the currency rise, forestalling destabilizing capital flight. Amidst speculation policy makers will tolerate gains after the United States accuses China of undervaluing its currency, at moments like this Beijing often will attempt to guide the yuan higher to take the ire out of complaints from trade partners – in a little exchange-rate diplomacy. When you sat on billions in reserves, you had a few monetry moves to make from your quiver.

The strategy in Beijing was one of gradual appreciation. Tom Orlik of the Wall Street Journal writes, don’t bet on a change in China’s exchange-rate strategy. Since the the end of June, the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index has fallen 35 percent. “Yes, China heads into the possibility of a second global downturn with more problems than it did the first,” writes Orlik, “but markets have gotten ahead of themselves.” China’s main weaknesses are its dependency on exports and a real-estate bubble.

A weaker dollar does continue to boost investment demand in commodities. The yuan’s rebound came after data earlier this month showed a continued expansion in manufacturing activity in China. The strength in the yuan comes despite the Chinese central bank’s efforts to guide its currency slightly weaker after a week-long public holiday, with mounting Chinese domestic inflation. The larger-than-expected increase in Sep U.S. payrolls reduced recession concerns. After a week-long holiday, with resumption of trading, the Shanghai Stock Index fell to its lowest level in sixteen months on speculation the government will maintain tighter monetary policy. The euro rose to a one-week high against the dollar after German Chancellor Merkel said European leaders will do “everything necessary” to ensure that banks have enough capital, and after the European Commission said it will make proposals in the coming days on possible coordination of bank recapitalization in the EU. One day after German Chancellor Merkel and French President Sarkozy said they will deliver a plan to recapitalize European banks and find a “durable” solution for Greece’s debt load by the November 3rd Group of 20 summit, no details have been provided. Promises, promises, by those new Romantic European leaders who were supposed to be expanding the bailout fund for those in the euro zone, who use the euro. That had been the content of the July 2011 agreement by leaders who now were in largely inconclusive talks. The July agreement did require unanimous approval from member state parliaments, though Slovakia, along with Malta, had yet to approve it. With a vote on the matter due in the Slovakian parliament Tuesday, on Monday the Slovakia governing coalition failed to reach a compromise on an endorsement.

Relationship issues. In the age of divorce, the G20 nations, seeing but not knowing what the commitment issues involved. Other Asian stock markets advanced on optimism that European leaders will resolve the region’s debt crisis and boost the earnings outlook for Asian exporters, despite Fitch Ratings downgraded of Italy’s and Spain’s credit ratings at the close of the Friday’s market.

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September 20, 2011

When the World Was Flat

This week in football. Like had happened to all of the intercollegiate conferences over the past fourteen months in the States, off the agenda is any public discussion of the possible break-up of the euro zone , the nations using the euro for their currency. Having lost lost confidence in their European counterparts, banks in the US have started shutting European banks out of inter-bank funding markets. Speaking of globalization, eh Thomas Friedman?

In the 2011 playdowns of World Series Kick the Can, more immediately kicking Greece out was not to be spoken of. Of the European Union. Out loud.

The world was playing as if the eurozone was in some kind of neutral transition, unaware that the game was now in penalty time. In a less sophisticated continent, this would be just another week of “kick the can” from the road from one G7 weekend in Marseille along to the Wroclaw meeting of the ‘‘Eurogroup’’ finance ministers which followed seven days later, with all of the potential “irrational exuberance” by fans that their country would not be affected, and that they hoped to continue as always. If the goalkeeper stood up to expectations.

Speaking of hooliganism, the Finns are demanding “collateral” for any new loans to Greece from the central bail-out fund; the Austrians are against the Finns. Tim Geithner was there cheer-leading, urging EU policy-makers to avoid “loose talk,” in playing their variety of kick the can, with so little body contact for which Eurpean ice hockey used to be famous. Angela Merkel may only win a German vote at the end of September with opposition support, while some of her own coalition MPs in particular are fiercely opposed to taking on such a bottomless commitment to the size of the Eurozone nations. And Slovakia does not vote on the bailout until December. As one on Geithner’s team said at Marseille, “Seventy-five per cent of the dark things happening in the world economy are because of the eurozone.”

Divorce Greek-style. European Commission President José Manuel Barroso said that it was time to look at a mechanism to break apart the euro zone. So with the supposedly increased muscle since July of the European Financial Stability Facility – the central bail-out fund – the action requires parliamentary approval for each member nation’s contribution, which still is by no means a certainty. Almost as taboo as the notion of dismantling the currency itself, LIBOR rates have risen over the past thirty days, as the European Central Banks’ dollar funding scheme to stave off the onset of another credit crunch demonstrates a coming fear in credit markets. And the air around Europe provided by credit markets seemed to be polluted, seizing-up the international banking system, one day soon. Yields on Greek debt, Spanish debt, Portuguese debt, and Italian debt continued to climb. After the discussion of ‘‘euro bonds’’ – central borrowings effectively on the back of the Germans to fund all eurozone member governments – was so far from agreement.

The European Central Bank has reported an up-tick in deposits from eurozone banks, an indication the banks feel more secure with deposits in central banks than lending to one another. “To stop financial contagion and manage the bankruptcy of the Greek government, you need to support the banking system. It’s the only solution, and it is appropriate to use European Financial Stability Facility funds,” said Jan Bureš, an economist with Československá Obchodní Banka.

Jean-Claude Juncker, the Luxembourg prime minister presiding over the Eurogroup, called at least for “verbal discipline,” if no other economic discipline. With global central bankers’ support and Amerrican cheerleading, Europe started this week trying on the surface to work as a team. “Of course, it’s not easy to speak now about increasing the funds available in that mechanism, and it will take some time.”

Bank bailouts in Europe in 2011. Bailouts for banks which dull motivation for a bank to invest responsibly. A reasonable solution, and maybe the only solution to debt contagion, “another bailout raises the specter of moral hazard, the idea that in the same way bailouts for governments decrease the motivation for responsible state spending, wrote the Prague Post. “What’s more, if governments bail out banks, it could result in sending those governments into debt.”

Mutual distrust in the times of monetary wars. Visible mistrust in the LIBOR rate since the failure of Lehman Brothers.

As a new credit crisis once again infects the economy, in a stair-step process through industries until debt is destroyed and a more sustainable economic foundation takes root. Starting with Greece, spreading to the financials in French banks, engulfing even Germany. When all those European nations were in this together. And eventually all that globalization sung about at the start of the decade, eventually phases through retail, technology companies in the United States, and the creditor in China. As commodities begin to fall, signaling deflation in Europe. I wonder now what the asking price for Durty Nelly’s, the oldest pub in Ireland, in the middle of no where. It had been ten million euros in January 2010.

Back home as another NFL season got underway after a labor dispute, with the NBA still on strike, each political party is still playing kick the can over American debt. And those in the know had worries from belief that European banks are sitting on crippling losses on their government bond holdings. And in this version of sport, it was like watching the NHL All-Star game, with so little close checking by so many participants. And US government officials were heard in Marseille seeking to shift blame for America’s domestic performance onto the influences from Europe.

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September 8, 2011

When Spring Turns to Falls

With investment in the country valued at $19.4 billion in 2009, with additional exports to Syria estimated to be $1.1 billion in 2010, the Russian government dispatched Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov to Damascus last week to urge Syrian leader Bashar Assad to halt “violence” against protesters, and implement promised political changes, The Moscow Times reports today.

Russian firms have quite a presence in Syrian involving infrastructure, energy and tourism, along with lucrative arms contracts. So, Russia has blocked efforts by the European Union and United States to impose punitive measures through the United Nations, after a “crackdown” on unrest since March. Russia also has rejected U.S. and European calls for Bashad Assad to step down. “Russia is categorically against any interference, especially military, in the internal affairs of a country,” Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said Tuesday in response to e-mailed questions to the Moscow Times. “Efforts to resolve the problems in Syria through outside force would provoke utter chaos in the Middle East.”

This “utter chaos” has already resulted in the death of 2,200 Syrian demonstrators, according to United Nations estimates. But there is a lot at stake in Syrian, a Soviet-era ally, for Russia. Russia maintains its only military facility in the Middle East with its Tartus naval base in the Mediterranean. In January 2011, oil-producer Tatneft, based in Tatarstan, had announced it would spend $12.8 million drilling exploratory wells near the Syria- Iraqi border.

With a staff of 80 Russians on the ground, Stroitransgaz has been working in Syria for more than 50 years. Nikolai Grishenko, director of Sovintervod, compared today’s protests to the 1980s civil unrest in Syria, which the government “successfully” crushed at the price of up to 25,000 dead and wounded civilians. With a 20-person team in Aleppo, Grishenko added his belief that Assad was a “decent man.”

According to data from the Moscow Defense Brief, there are more than $4 billion in active arms contracts between Syria and Russian capital, including MiG-29 fighters, Pantsir surface-to-air missiles, artillery systems and anti-tank weaponry. The Arab Spring has already put at risk an estimated $10 billion worth of business contracts Russia had with Gadhafi’s regime in Libya.

The Russians are having as bad a year as the Minnesota Twins.

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August 11, 2011

Domestic Surveillance Under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act

NSA logo There are at least sixteen agencies in Washington which have since September 2001 been involved in domestic and international intelligence. In one of these agencies, concerning how the Obama Administration is interpreting parts of the Patriot Act, the Director of Legislative Affairs for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence says that it is “difficult to answer” whether the government has the right to track Americans’ location through cellphones for intelligence purposes, according to a letter sent to Congress on August 11th.

In response to questions presented by Senator Mark Udall (D-CO) and Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), who asked in a letter to the the Office of the Director of National Intelligence whether the intelligence community has the authority to collect geolocation information on American citizens, Kathleen Turner, the director of legislative affairs for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, responded that the government is still defining its “view of the full contours of this authority and will get back to you.”

As the senators asked just where such authority might come from, the response from the director of legislative affairs for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence was that though the amount of evidence that can be collected and the procedures required to get it haven’t been settled yet, “the government has some authority to collect cell phone mobility data under appropriate circumstances.” So how many people in the U.S. have had their communications reviewed under authority granted by 2008 legislation, amending the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act? The response of the director of legislative affairs for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence was, “It is not reasonably possible to identify the number of people located in the United States whose communications may have been reviewed.”

As the Obama Administration has been in practice over 1466 days.addressing these issues, this response was disingenuous. How can this “Hope and Change” government still be defining its “view of the full contours of this authority.” If it is not reasonably possible to identify the number of people located in the United States whose communications may have been reviewed, how was it possible for law enforcement to identify the people whose communications they selected to review? It might be difficult to justify whether the government has the right to track Americans’ location through cellphones for intelligence purposes, it might be difficult to rationalize actual domestic surveillance under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, but it should not be difficult to answer the question after 1466 days executing the law. This was one sign an arrogance had developed after 1466 days, not much different than the arrogance of the previous administration.

Didn’t the legislative branch know the day-to-day effort of protecting the liberty of the American public on these shores? Or didn’t the executive branch see the irony of a nation, which now fought foreign wars to export democracy and freedom at a cost of $193 million dollars per day, spying at home on its own citizens? Or didn’t the electorate see the real reason for the ongoing cost of cheap money, to finance the wars without a tax increase? As the value of the currency was diminished forty percent over the last ten years.

Concerning all of the cost of war, when Senator Ron Wyden from Oregon had also the same above questions to an attorney from the National Security Agency earlier this week, he received a similar answer. However the attorney from the NSA indicated that his intelligence community would be working on a better response before the first meeting of the Senate Intelligence Committee in September. The NSA attorney seemed wise enough to recognize the full contours of contempt of Congress, where arrogance of one branch of government was a still a crime.


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August 8, 2011

Fairness at the Fairgrounds: Causes of Riot in Milwaukee

Filed under: Milwaukee Riot,Minneapolis,Minnesota — baseball91 @ 3:43 PM
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March 27, 2012 Downtown Minneapolis has been hit by six incidents of “mob” attacks since February, mostly around the Nicollet Mall by homegrown terrorists. On March 16, several of the seven males inside an enclosed bus stop surged toward a bicyclist, striking first a 23-year-old rider, as the group then surrounded a second bicyclist and began assailing him, police said. Approaching officers saw a group of about 15 to 20 youths running around a corner from the melee, ending up on a nearby restaurant patio, where assualts continued. A lot like what had happened in Milwaukee in 2011. Or at the Mall of America on the day after Christmas 2011. With more incidents anticipated with warmer temperatures.

Flash-robs-hit-downtown-Minneapolis

August 8, 2011 Milwaukee, Wisconsin is witnessing its own Arab Spring-like summer. Marauding black kids at the fairgrounds after sunset Thursday night started by beating up each other, police said, before turning on Caucasian families leaving the Wisconsin State Fairgrounds. Investigators reported that the African-American kids had gathered in West Allis in the perimeters of the fairgrounds and had not been enjoying the offerings of the fair. Thirty-five people were arrested either by fairground police, West Allis Police or Milwaukee Police. And a lot of people were injured.

Afterward, one blogger from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel wrote that these homegrown terrorists needed to be stopped. “It bears repeating that the vast majority of African-Americans in Milwaukee are good, hardworking people, and that members of all races interact every day with mutual respect. Though I suspect plenty of these kids grew up with poverty, violence, unsafe neighborhoods, lousy parents or other challenges, forget about blaming society as the responsibility for this thuggery lies with the perpetrators.”

Again and again and again, there was a communication to white Milwaukee, as racial incidents kept happening. There was a public relations nightmare Thursday night for the Wisconsin State Fair, with Truth buried in the story about the community of Milwaukee. If these incidents of race-related violence keep happening. The “mob attack” was not an isolated incident, after similar occurrence at a Summerfest hip-hop show this year, along with the Riverwest looting and racially motivated beatings last month as a group of seventy-five to one hundred black youth disturbed traffic before moving across a bridge west to the Riverwest neighborhood where “ransacking” and robberies of two gas stations by the mob took place. These youths are trying to force the issue – the truth about life in Milwaukee. There had been in the recent past similar “wilding which forced the Greek festival to move out of its northwest side neighborhood, after the late Riversplash too was hobbled by violence.” The issue with all of the stages of life when a community was truly hobbled by violence for a spell, was denial, anger, and fear. In arriving at the acceptance of what was the community standard.

Now the institution of the State Fair, writes the blogger from the Milwaukee Journal, “is left to pick up the pieces, to try to focus back on fun.” Not that they care, but “the thugs had to know that they were damaging the reputation of a beloved institution.” When the issue was really over the acceptance or rejection of institutions.

Yes, black kids at the fair started by beating up each other, police said, and these “kids may not realize that the damage they’re causing may be inflicted mostly on themselves in the long run, as doors close and attitudes harden,”writes the Journal-Sentinel blogger. I have slightly modified his conclusion. About when normal day-to-day life returns, and the morning silence begins with issues of trust. In everyday relationships. At home. In neighborhoods. Maybe that’s the whole point. When so many of its loved ones are silently suffering, there are all of these beloved institution. In a land of plenty, there was this American Pollyanna image of county fairs as a midsummer oasis of fun, food and farm animals. And nowhere were people asking how the social institutions, which helped developed attitudes and behavior, had let the African-American community down. Over hunger and the acceptance of hunger. Or over what was missing in the black community about American life, as seen on television. How many were kids of single moms? The missing nurturing part which came from home-cooking, not just the suggested minimum daily vitamin requirement. These kids who had not been enjoying the offerings of another fair. There are all of these beloved institution, but why should these kids care, if no one truly cared about them? Especially an African-American president? Perhaps like their own fathers. With all of this lip service by communal leaders everywhere, where was this caring about a fair pursuit of happiness? For everyone.

Again and again and again, the problems were left to a new generation of single moms to try and discover the answer in their own homes, because the community seemed to be failing. And as the new immigrants with the same black skin seemed to demonstrate, it was not an issue of skin color but the issues of the community standard of care for each other. And deaf community leaders, letting these grandkids of Motown and Blues musicians rap — without any idea mentioned any more of love in the pursuit of the truth about it all.

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May 19, 2011

Every Man in This Village IS a Liar

Watch the “Charlie Rose Show” to witness the pretensions in the reporting on the Arab spring. In looking to present a meaning of the system, television journalists too often along the way produce and disseminate culture, reproducing only the values of that culture, instead of being the voice of the Truth for working class people home from work.

There was real irony of people at Duke University, talking about multiculturalism, wrote Camile Paglia. An irony like the strategy the United States has used to advance its anti-democratic policies in Latin America and in the Arab World in the age of television. Look only at the continuation of the School of the Americas under one administration to the next, with the School for the Americas exporting instruction in torture. Not at all unlike American foreign policy in the Middle East.

“Propelled by the beginning of the Cold War and the US strategy to suppress all forms of real and imagined communist-leaning forces around the world, in contrast with its actual anti-democratic policies around the world,” writes Joseph Massad.

When the Cold War ended, the United States has insisted on marketing itself always as a force for global democracy. In line with the public relations campaign. “Between the billions spent on repressing the Arab peoples and the millions spent to explain academically and in the American media the need to repress them, this two-pronged US strategy in the region since World War II has been coming apart at an accelerated rate since January 2011, a development that continues to cause panic in the Obama White House and,” writes Joseph Massad, “manifests in the incessant fumbling of his secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, who is much despised across the Arab world.”

“Arab culture and Islam are spoken of the way race was once spoken of in India,” writes Nir Tosen. “In order to make the revolutions in Tunisia and especially Egypt seem non-threatening, the nonviolent tactics are emphasized while the many acts of violent resistance to regime oppression are completely ignored.” By the Charlie Roses of television. Telling us all from New York.

Iran continues to feel under siege by the West and Israel, sitting at the epicenter of a geopolitical struggle between two battling regional worldviews, according to Sharmine Narwani, a senior associate at St. Antony’s College, Oxford University – after having endured four rounds of economic sanctions by the UN Security Council. One “bloc” in the geopolitical struggle consists of many of the autocratic male leaders now being swept away in the Arab Spring who were comfortable with the existing US and Israeli hegemony in the Middle East, writes Sharmine Narwani; the second bloc is is the Iran-led “Resistance Bloc” which embraces regional and national self-determination, seeking to end this foreign hegemony. According to Western diplomats and experts, Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard dominates foreign policy for the countries of the Middle East and maintains close relationships with the highest levels of Mukhabarat, the Syrian intelligence service, and Syrian security branches. With the emergence of the Arab Spring in Bahrain and Yemen, the wave of reform threatens Saudi Arabia’s dominance – Iran’s biggest regional foe – and fundamentally shifts the regional balance of power toward the the Iran-led “Resistance Bloc”. The anti-Iran bloc extends its aversions to Tehran’s closest allies in Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas – while keeping a tight lid on other regional players such as Iraq, Qatar, Oman, and even Egypt and Lebanon. To justify violent actions against their own populations, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait and Yemen have pulled out the “Iran card,” while the Iranian government, with external political pressures mounting – both regionally and internationally, but with no mention of the role of women – does its utmost to promote an image of domestic unity and stability, putting rumors of internal strife to rest. Expect the tensions between the two blocs to result in further crackdowns and political maneuverings.

Television journalists too often also perpetuate the dominant ideology, instead of building a counter narrative with any kind of vision of different perspective. Watch as Charlie Rose and his intellectuals center their perspective on serving the interests of power and gaining proximity to it, aligning their beliefs and priorities with those of the state. Journalists depict the Middle East to their Western audiences with what French scholar Francois Burgat termed as “the facade intellectual”, whose role in society is to confirm already-held Western notions, beliefs, preconceptions, and racism regarding the “other.” See the organic intellectuals of the ruling class represent power as the functional tools for a bourgeois ruling class. As the American public for the most part misses the simmering hatred in the Arab world for Israel, Europe, and the United States. Perhaps about the manner of depiction. Not at all unlike how Duke students went blindly to school around all the surroundings built by slavery.

Those in power know the truth, but they just don’t care. Read Megan Stack’s book, Every Man in This Village IS a Liar. Journalism is about speaking not to those in power, but reporting on the truth. By disseminating illusion, instead of the Truth, a narcissism had become entrenched in the American narrative. When a generation tried to believe in its own culture, like a false art.

So what had happened to meaning? What had happened to institutional meaning? What happens when the medium had lost credibility. In the attempt to reproduce values, with an American narrative, the meaning of its institutions was lost, to the audience. Government, in the age of bailouts, with their own audience. More and more the disbelieving audience, swimming in the culture.

The Art. What happens to self-determinism when there was no “there” there, in the false art of the American narrative on television – in the art of television news from the American Broadcasting Company to Public Broadcasting System, confirming the already-held Western notions, beliefs, and preconceptions?

Journalism. Trying to piece it all together. With words and language to try and get your arms around something. Something invisible that had happened today. Or yesterday. For an audience. The meaning of the art of journalism. For an audience. The culture. The art. With another form of bailout, of Saudi princes and other autocrats. Just as Queen Elizabeth tries this week to amend her life, and that of her ascendants, with the Irish. In her public acts of contrition, as head of the Anglican Church, for the sins of the last two hundred years. About what happens to the power of government, over issues of self-determinism, when government spent so much time on issues of security and defense.

The meaning of incredulous art. In producing art, in trying to reproduce values, and failing, comes loss of meaning and a loss of trust. As television journalism tries to disseminate “culture” and meaning of the system, to the system. For an audience. In the American narrative. Perpetuating for an audience the once dominant ideology. For the “Too Big To Fail” generation which now tries to believe in its own culture, like a false art. What happens to meaning from the bubbles of falsehood, when the medium had lost credibility. What happens to currency of working class people. When money too often reproduce the values of a people.

Trying to piece it all together. The meaning of art, and the art of government. With a Monroe Doctrine, the School of the Americas, what happens to government and systems of governments which spent so much time disseminating illusion? What happens to governments which spent so much on security and defense? What happens to journalists speaking not to those in power but reporting on the truth?

Producing our values, American media always want to fit events in the region, writes Nir Rosen, into an American narrative. Like the recent assassination of Osama bin Laden. And local news was all about a local narrative directed to the national events. And even those Duke University grads swallowed all the pretensions that the audience was fed. Until the few distinct American values were eroded beyond recognition.

When Every Man in This Village IS a Liar , the art of journalism is about speaking not to those in power who know the truth, but reporting truth to the unwashed masses that they might one day pass something on. An audience empowered to move humanity forward. Even the people who never seemed to care.

Night after night, not unlike those Islamc clerics elsewhere, television journalists perpetuate the dominant ideology, of THE American perspective. It had somehow become the mantra of the theology in the Land of the Free. In 2011, Americans were learning again that the rest of the Free World, in its various degrees, did not see and believe in the mantra. In the world of cable television, the rest of the world no longer subscribed to the theology of the networks. On matters of self-determinism.

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May 3, 2011

Justice in Pakistan

When you are busy as a Republican or a Democrat, whether in a congressional campaign or a presidential one, you did not have a great deal of time to sit and study history. When there were wars going on and campaigns to arrange every two years.

The White House didn’t notify the Pakistani government in advance, over what the people within the Pakistan leadership long had known about the location of the bin Laden compound forty miles north of Islamabad. Pakistani troops did not participate in the secret operation which sound to be out of a Daniel Silva novel.

In the wake of the announcement of the new head of the CIA, in just a few days later, comes news of the death of Osama bin Laden. In the wake of the news this year about the killing of two Pakistanis by a CIA operative. With an awakening at that point about Pakistan’s history. The one which the New York Times had covered in their Sunday Magazine two years ago. It pretty much explained why Pakistan would shelter bin Laden.

With a history of the last twenty five years. When Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s army chief of staff had been Zia ul-Haq, who not only deposed prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto but crushed all opposition and introduced into the country’s public life — especially into the military — a quite new element of evangelical piety. When the military took over a country, not unlike in Egypt. Perhaps with the same attitude to the outside world, which could be found in Russia and China. When the stranger was always distrusted. Because of the mystery of the Russian soul. Or whatever place of birth from where a man, a woman, was from.

In a short time after the incubation of this Pakistani nation, Zia ul-Haq, a true believer, empowered religious societies and political parties in a bid to foster a new national ideology, where previous rulers — themselves religiously moderate — found Islam only convenient. A nation founded, different than Hindu India, based somehow on belief. “Since 1947, Pakistan understood itself, and organized itself, as a national-security state with strong cold-war ties to the United States. This clear idea of establishment of a nation came from of soldiers and bureaucrats and soldiers in its founding in 1947, with an identity as one as a refuge for South Asian Muslims away from an India bent on subsuming the new country back into the ‘Hindu raj.’ Because the tenure of Zia ul-Haq coincided with the CIA war on the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, Pakistan today was so different. Zia’s military and intelligence officials had been the ones who controlled the Afghan mujahedeen, doled out their American funds, and sometimes history catches up with current events,” wrote the New York Times.

Twenty-five years later, current President Asif Ali Zardari lost an important supporter when the Christian governor of the country’s most populous state was shot dead by a member of his own police guard. Admiral Mike Mullen, the Obama administration’s point man on Pakistan policy, told Pakistani General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, a previous director-general of the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate – Pakistan’s military equivalent of the Central Intelligence Agency – that the CIA would not reduce drone strikes until Pakistan launched a military operation against the Haqqani network in Pakistan’s tribal areas. So American policy with the drones is to drive the Taliban deeper within Pakistan. And it seems safe to conclude the Pakistan army, which runs the country and supports the Taliban, does not care about anyone or anything except Muslims. And it was tough to be in such an alliance.

So in the same city with a Pakistani military base and military academy, with a Pakistan army which runs the country and supports the Taliban, why would you give prior notice to Pakistani General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, a previous director-general of the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, that you were coming to get bin Laden?

The great American weakness had always been this desire to be friends with everyone. It had taken ten years to discover that the Pakistani army does not care about anyone or anything except Muslims? All a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff had to do was read the New York Times’ article, “Can Pakistan Be Governed? And Is Asif Ali Zardari The Man To Do The Job?” The real answer is, no. The real answer is that Pakistani General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani ruled the country, that there the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate was working, like V.S. Naipaul once warned about all of Pakistan, for the sole interests of Mecca.

The underlying difference about the adherents of Islam seemed to be an affirmation about “how we are different,” with little interest in helping anyone who is not Muslim. After the Cold War, with the hope that finally, in a free world, fervent true believers could empower religious societies and political parties. And bin Laden had helped set off a revolution in that part of the world.

Beware of the viability of alliances in any Pakistani partnership, which denied advances in their own society, in their belief in an ascetic way of life, with the evangelical Muslim piety which army generals seemed to like, to direct attention away from the misery on earth, in the hellhole of Pakistan, when the hellhole seemed to be everyone’s fault except their own.

The troubling part about the announcement of bin Laden’s death was the association of the new American ideal in the old EYE FOR EYE concept of justice; that somehow it was just to to invade the sovereignty of a nation which refused to recognize justice itself, not unlike the way Egypt or Libya had been ruled; that the old clan behavior on concepts of power–whether it was the Haqqani or the Klu Klux Klan — was never to be changed. And that the ideals of the United States did not really differ much from the piety of Pakistani generals.

The troubling part about the announcement of bin Laden’s death was the failure to recognize the National Security concerns. Because the issue was not much different than what had existed in the Cold War. As the rich feared the poor, and all the chaos in the ensuing rebellion of the poor. Because Pakistani General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani knows, as perhaps bin Laden had long ago come to understand, Pakistan cannot be governed? And Asif Ali Zardari is not the man to do the job. There is no human who seems to have the gifts to rule over the post-Cold War rebellion in Pakistan, Libya or even Egypt. In a culture where bribes have always flourished, along with an anger about the state of the world, and all of its every day misery, which is exhibited in an envy toward Europe and the United States over the state of the missing union in the Moslem world. In the new world order with the sixteen agencies addressed toward National Security. Towards a part of the world that demanded passports and birth certificates, when the stranger was always distrusted.

The United States might have been well advised to let bin Laden exist in his suburban house, and to quietly poison his water supply, rather to pursue the Big Bang Theory of the intelligence department. But the populace liked to be excited by the illusions of their own leaders –the ones who could not keep state secrets too long, with elections coming soon –wherever this was leading to. With the drones to drive the Taliban deeper within Pakistan.

Yes, finally justice in Pakistan. Two years after their own wrestling over supreme court appointments, as Asif Ali Zardari worried about rebellion in the streets, now the issue of justice in Pakistan was a world concern. Only Pakistani General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani did not need the ISI to tell him any more what information was being given to the United States, as the war in Afghanistan continued. How soon would Pakistan be at war with the US?

As the Taliban came closer to home, Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States Hussain Haqqani said on Saturday that on May 3, 2011 Afghanistan and the US will hold trilateral talks to resolve the Afghan conflict, denying media reports about Pakistan advising Afghanistan against cooperation with the US. In this New Age Crusade of Muslims against the west in Afghanistan, just as the Afghans had fought against the Russians when American foreign policy somehow supported the locals. “The key thing is that all three players — the United States, Afghanistan and Pakistan — understand that the way forward is: we have to defeat some people in Afghanistan and we have to engage certain people,” Haqqani said. In the charade called the Afghan War where American soldiers had to wonder why they had enlisted.

POST SCRIPT: Pakistani General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani reportedly said that Pakistan would reconsider its relationship with America in the event of another similar operation, in the aftermath of bin Laden’s killing. Yeah, like an American would ever marry a second Pakistani woman after seeing what happened the first time, in the clash of cultures. When you had been paying too much alimony for much too long. In this arranged marriage.

POST SCRIPT II: In the wake of this news in the aftermath of the death of bin Laden, comes the story this week that the German spy agency BND announced that it would not release thousands of files on Adolf Eichmann. Some documents suggest the German spy agency BND was using Adolf Eichmann as an informant – suggesting that both top-level Nazi officials and many lower-level operators escaped justice for reasons of national interest, convenience, or public embarrassment – and that Germany always knew of Eichmann’s whereabouts. As one of the masterminds of the Final Solution, Adolf Eichmann fled and lived in exile under his own name in Argentina after the war until he was captured and brought to trial by Israeli authorities in the 1960s.

This news comes upon the earlier release of a 900 page report commissioned by the German Foreign Minister in 2005, “The Office and the Past: German Diplomats in the Third Reich and the Federal Republic,” about the Foreign Ministry’s Holocaust involvement. According to this report, German diplomats were much more deeply involved in spying on Jewish emigrants from Germany abroad to actively contributing to the mass murder of Europe’s Jews until 1945. “The German Foreign Ministry collaborated with the Nazis’ violent politics and especially assisted in all aspects of the discrimination, deportation, persecution and genocide of the Jews,” said Eckart Conze. This news about Eichmann would suggest that nothing within the German Foreign Ministry had ever really changed in 1945, even though Germany allegedly had “taken an honest and painful look at its past.”

Seymour Hersh
London Review of Books

April 7, 2011

The Fukushima

Filed under: Japan — baseball91 @ 7:09 PM
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The nearly four-year rally in the yen versus the dollar would seem to be over. It had nothing to do with the policy announced by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geinther over the past two years. Rather, this atomic power incident of March 1th will have an affect on the strength of the yen which would headed down prior to today’s 7.4 earthquake in Japan.

The yen was trading at 84.05 per dollar early on Tuesday when Eisuke Sakakibara, a former senior finance ministry official, said the yen would weaken in the coming months, possibly beyond 90 to the dollar. Initially, the yen had soared following the tsunami, on speculation Japan would repatriate funds for reconstruction, which prompted the G7 to intervene, to knock the exchange rate lower.

Japanese Prime Minister Kan asked the European Union on Monday for a calm response to Japanese imports, as four of the six reactors at the Fukushima plant are considered volatile.
The exact source of the radiation leaks remains unknown. In a desperate attempt to stop radioactive leaks, Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) engineers who operate the plant have used sawdust mixed with newspapers along with polymers and cement in a failed attempt to seal a crack in a concrete pit at reactor No.2. To trace the source of the problem on Monday, powdered bath salts were used to produce a milky color in water to find the source of the leak. In an attempt to prevent radioactive silt drifting out into the sea, TEPCO spokesman said it was also planning to drape a curtain into the sea off the nuclear plant, as well as building tanks to hold contaminated seawater.

TEPCO workers are giving their lives as they try to rescue the world from further disaster.
With radiation emitted at more than 1,000 millisieverts an hour in both the water and air, a worker who enters the basement of the turbine building would top their annual radiation exposure quota in just 15 minutes.

“If the current situation continues for a long time, accumulating more radioactive substances, it will have a huge impact on the ocean,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said.
On Monday, the process of release of more than 10,000 tons of “Less contaminated water”– about 100 times more radioactive than legal limits – into the sea was begun, to free up more storage space for water which had much higher levels of radioactivity.

Experts say the clean-up will take decades. As the spent nuclear fuel in Fukushima has been damaged by sea water, recycling it probably is not an option and transporting for disposal elsewhere of spent fuel, which will decay and emit fission fragments over several thousand years, is politically unlikely, given the likelihood opposition.

Damage from the Fukushima nuclear crisis, “with the subsequent power shortage,” said Eiji Hirano, former assistant governor of the Bank of Japan, “will last for several years. There’s a strong chance Japan’s economy will contract in the current fiscal year.”

“The situation at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant remains,”said Denis Flory, head of the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency nuclear safety department, at a news conference in Vienna, “very serious.” As the Japanese leaders request a calm response.

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April 2, 2011

A New Chapter in World Terror

Filed under: Japan — baseball91 @ 12:57 PM
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With all of the speed shown by the American presidents following Hurricane Katrina, or by British Petroleum to their own oil spill, is it a surprise highly radioactive water has spilled into the ocean from the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex which has been spewing radioactivity since March 11th? Meanwhile, over the past three weeks Barack Obama announced the start to the third U.S. war in the Muslim world since September 11th. Maybe because he considered it “women’s work,” he even left it to his Secretary of State — who has announced she will not be returning for any new term after 2013 — to make the pronouncement of American airstrikes while she was in Paris. At the same time, the French president was claiming credit for leading airstrikes against Moammar Khadaffi when a few months ago he wanted to do more business with Kadaffi’s Libya.

At least Nicolas Sarkozy is cognizant of a cosmic crisis. It was Sarkozy who before he gets back home to address a burqa ban, called for a meeting of the G20 to meet the nuclear meltdown issue, while the American president and his secretary of state worried about a cosmetic pimple called Libya. The world was losing time, if not hope, with an American administration which had promised change, but escalated the military effort in Afghanistan which was inherited. And radio-active isotopes would soon be sailing the world’s oceans, as Democrats and Republicans worried about global warming, and Sarkozy got ready to see into the faces of all of his constituents.

The US military was busy assisting in looking for bodies, which might be good practice for what is to come, with the nuclear fallout into the seas. It might be time to look for some leadership from China, where the glamor of television stars might be in its infancy.

February 28, 2011

Rebellion

Filed under: currency,History — baseball91 @ 8:01 PM
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The new year was about fear. And moving stories that grabbed the heart. Stories not necessarily ending in freedom.

There seemed to be a lot of rebellion going on in the new year. When the world itself makes us at time move. As the Mayan calendar which ruled the world of Chinese horoscopes over a 26,000 year astrology cycle (the Precession of the Equinoxes) had us all coming to an abrupt end by around Christmas 2012. Or in the belief of the Mayans, the Sumerians, Tibetans, and Egyptians, precisely on December 21, 2012.

Fear always had moved people who mostly never wanted to be changed, This year, fear was stealing people’s money and independence. Fear moved those in power. Revolutions were about movements. When those who lived in pain organized in movement. Over the price of food, or over currency, for people in parts of the world which needed oil to move.

When movement was no longer an elective, for people caught up in hunger and fear. And how it was fear moved a story. It was why people read –looking not so much to be changed but for some wisdom about the world. Perhaps about the coming new world, and how to outfox it, beginning on December 21, 2012.

When inequality threatens stability. The use of language used by the media in this decade to describe current events is interesting. Particularly over the increasing use of the term “Insurgents.” Counter-insurgency involved “action taken by the recognized government of a nation to quell a rebellion against a constituted authority.” Has anyone ever asked why the rebellion in the first place, against a constituted authority? And authority “constituted” by who?

The way brains are wired. When inequality threatens stability. Inflicting more than just pain….but homicide. When you waged organized homicide called war, and society accepted it. And when you controlled a school system that ingrained how brains were wired. And the numbers bear out that a lot of young people believed they were fighting in defense of the United States by waging war in Afghanistan. Counter-insurgency action taken by the recognized government of a nation….constituted by who? And if the rebellion in a foreign land was thought to be unjust, who had made the determination and why had the US government selected this particular land, of all the places, to fight over? When you had a neighbor like Pakistan, supposedly an American ally, who was aiding and abetting the rebellion.

When inequality threatens stability, and homicide was waged against you. As pro-democracy uprisings spread across the Middle East, Saudi Arabian princes were feeling increasingly isolated. And the Omaha World Herald was getting around to sending their own reporter to Afghanistan where it is difficult to impossible to make a distinction between an insurgent, a supporter of a non-combatant insurgent, and an entirely uninvolved members of the population. Apparently the publisher thought a story was going to be breaking out in Afghanistan. Soon.

And consequently because of that war, my country has been spending $193 million per day fighting in foreign lands, not really counting the cost, aiding and abetting in a counter-insurgency action taken by a recognized government, and these young people were willing to sacrifice their lives.

When you controlled a school system that ingrained how brains were wired on how to recognize legitimate governments, maybe someone was confused as to the geography –thinking Afghanistan was located next to Egypt or Tunisia. But counter-insurgency operations have often rested on a confused, relativistic distinctions. And in such a secular world, when a school system had ingrained how brains were wired on how to recognize legitimate governments, and maybe someone was confused as to the geography…or very concerned about their reporters’ safety as Islamists rebelled against a constituted authority in some kind of world-wide movement. So maybe exporting “democracy” to a parts of the world which had never had the experience, without checks and balances, without a respect for the dignity of a minority, was not such a good idea.

When you waged organized homicide called war, and the majority in a society accepted it. The way brains are wired, when inequality threatens stability. Never counting the true enduring stress syndromes, in the ecology of the soul, with all the post traumatic stress which came into people’s lives, people’s homes, after war, in representative democratic republics. In stories not necessarily ending in freedom

There seemed to be a lot of rebellion going on in the new year. In the age of globalization, when everybody on earth seemed to want to make some kind of contribution. Republicans exporting “democracy” to a parts of the world which had never had the experience, and now Democrats in the name of hope, if not change, because their brains are wired that way. Not counting the cost. Where inequality threatens stability. When the preeminence of the US dollar was no longer stable, and with its instability, we had now exported the problem elsewhere. To China, and those OPEC nations. All the rebellion resulting from the unrecognized monetary wars, to fund the counter-insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan. When inequality threatens stability.

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February 1, 2011

Always The Tumult in Egypt

Filed under: Freshly Pressed,Travel,woman — baseball91 @ 6:12 PM
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The Promise Land.

The tumult in Egypt. Always the tumult in Egypt. And elsewhere.

Wanting immunity. After the worst drought in 130 year around Russia and the Black Sea region, damaging winter planting along with the summer harvest, the Canadian drop in wheat productions, and a surprising reductions in harvest totals from parts of the United States, the cost of food was up. The cost of tea would soar in 2011.

Wanting immunity from soaring food costs. In Tunisia. In Jordan. In Egypt. Maybe you were one of the 30,000 Brits vacationing in the warmth of an Egyptian resort this January. And your vacation was over, but it was not exactly a joy ride to the Cairo airport to get home. And even if you got to the airport in Cairo, to find out that most of the workers had left to protest the government of Hosni Murabek, a guy whose name you could never quite remember the pronunciation until singing “Waltzing Matilda.” And the airport brought back images of the Super Dome post Hurricane Katrina.

Wanting to get back home, with some kind of new-found urgency. From the region of the Promise Land. But where you arrived there to the resort with a growing concern over the price of petroleum, the price of food had set these people off. And they believed in some kind of different God that seemed to hate foreigners. Or maybe it was a fear based upon some kind of wealth which made people act so foreign. Maybe not unlike the distrust in China of foreigners. Over history. When leaders have been so cruel to their people. In Tunisia, in the city of Tunis, at least 219 people were killed and 510 injured in ongoing rioting, with one synagogue burned. This week.

Wanting immunity. And getting inoculated… against Yellow Fever. The diphtheria tetanus, or pertussis shots. Seeking anti-dotes for malaria.

The questions what a westerner was doing carrying a gun. Either at the U.S. Embassy or when driving around, when guns were disallowed at airports. In Lahore, Pakistan, many questions have been left unanswered, including exactly whether who would qualify for diplomatic immunity. Whether as a CIA agent, a security contractor, a journalist, or NGO worker. With questions why he had been carrying a gun and if he used it in self-defense.

The old fashioned missionary. Whether religious or economic. Exporting a system of some kind. A system of belief. With a belief in money. And always the tumult, with the lack of clarity which fuels media speculation. About the future.

Just wars. Economic justice in times of war and peace. Or just some measure of freedom with your money. Hedge funds. Betting with hedge funds, and the price of coffee. As more and more people in China and all the world began to drink coffee. And speculators sent their money there to try to profit.

Mass famine…Always the tumult in Egypt. Since the time of Joseph.

Unraveling the tale. Egypt and its tumultuous history. The plagues. Always the plagues in Egypt. And how to avoid death.

Overthrowing the Egyptian monarch in 1952 began in the runup to World War I, with the German Empire of Kaiser Wilhelm contributing to the agitation of numerous anti-British movements (which would be his cousins of the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha in Buckingham Palace) of secular political ideologies along with various degrees of Islamic movements. Because during World War I, the British declared Egypt their protectorate, shouldering the entire burden of the war as the Ottoman Empire crumpled. By drafting Egyptian men, occupying Egypt with British troops, dissatisfaction with British rule soon spread amongst all classes of the population. In the period between the two world wars, these agitated groups coalesced into the Baath Party, other associated reform groups, as well as the Muslem Brotherhood, along with other revolutionary groups, all coordinated by German intelligence, nurtured by renewed Jihadism with exposure to the 20th century concepts of nationalism and liberalism. Over several weeks of demonstrations and strikes spanning the Muslim and Christian divide by civil servants, merchants, workers, religious leaders, students and peasant became a daily occurrence bringing normal life across Egypt to a halt.

Independence for Egypt granted by the British was at this point provisional; British forces continued to be physically present on Egyptian soil. As to the method how this regime came to power, with the outbreak of World War II, these associated elements –the Baath Party, the Muslem Brotherhood, et al – were supported not only by Axis powers but by the United States and the Soviet Union, countries both opposed to continuing the British Colonial Empire as a corrupt puppet of the British in the way of police, the palace, the political parties. Due to the continuing British occupation of Egypt, many Egyptians including Egyptian King Farouk were disposed towards Germany and Italy during World War II. Egypt remained officially neutral despite the presence of British troops, until the final year of World War II. Contributing substantial political, psychological, ideological and logistical along with moral support, the Soviet Union and the United States backed the Free Officers Movement, formed by a group of reform minded officers who lived in poverty. And it was the Free Officers Movement which led the overthrow of Egyptian King Farouk in 1952.

Then came the pain of men, dealing with women. Over issues of power, outside the home. When every women was the queen in the home. Fathers letting sons deal with mothers, until the age of puberty. In the Middle East. About the time when the Muslim Brotherhood began to shave. Beset with a generation gap, as the oldest and formally organized opposition, The Muslim Brotherhood currently cannot define the role of women in leadership, or concepts of outside power. Outside the home. So the Muslim Brotherhood has over the years failed to attract many new members, with its old ideas. Young men just quit having vocations? It sounded oh so catholic. Maybe because young men were attracted by the beauty of independent women. The Brotherhood has lost in Egypt much credibility in recent years, despite remaining the country’s largest group. A Country of Old Men, after allowing itself to be co-opted by the Mubarak government, in a place where their leader was now 83-years old.

The lack of leaders. In the world that we had known which was slowly dying. At this point in time, beyond the royal military. Asked to lead, in a world that most Egyptians did not understand, other than staving off hunger for another year. In a world where few of us understood where world leaders were leading us. But still we were getting inoculated. And humming “Waltzing Matilda,” wondering how long Hosni Murabek would be at the dance. As the world looked on at the hunger.
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January 26, 2011

The State of the Union: A New Director of Pork

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Minnesota health executive Lois Quam will lead the $63 billion Global Health Initiative which President Barack Obama in 2009 committed to the program at the U.S. State Department, over six years, aimed at helping developing nations provide more aid for prenatal and postnatal care, improve nutrition, and fight disease. This appointment reunites Quam who had been in the 1990s a senior adviser to Hillary Clinton on Hilary Clinton’s health care task force. A State Department spokesman confirmed Wednesday that Quam will be executive director of the initiative under Secretary of State Clinton.

Lois Quam,of St. Paul is a former UnitedHealth Group executive who co-founded a health consulting firm last year. She was one of the executives who worked under Dr.Bill McGuire grossly enriched by the backdating of hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of stock options at UnitedHealth Group, the private insurance company whose shareholders have been getting rich off the invasion of disease that threatened people’s lives, for which approximately 70 million took out their health insurance. The exit compensation of McGuire was alleged to be around $1.1 billion, when he immediately stepped down as chairman and director of UnitedHealth Group due to his involvement in the employee stock options scandal.

There is something wrong with this picture. As government leaders work to manipulate people, worldwide under the auspices of the United State State Department. No mention is made in the story if the $69 billion is directed at American citizens overseas, and the issues in their lives of prenatal and postnatal care, the nutrition, and disease on foreign soil.

She is married to Matt Entenza, a former state lawmaker who wanted to be governor of Minnesota but unsuccessfully failed in a primary election for the Democratic-Farmer-Labor nomination for governor in 2010. He was not the endorsed candidate of the party. It was alleged that Ms. Quam financed his campaign.

No mention has ever been made about the issue of clawback for the undue profits that came to the team of UnitedHealth management. Clawback is now being used, under a provision of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, against those who unduly profited in their investments with Bernie Maddoff.

October 18, 2010

America’s Dollar, With Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome

Filed under: currency,euro,Hyman Minsky — baseball91 @ 5:19 PM
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There was silence all around us, about the currency we used. It was the silence over who we think who we are, as a currency appreciated. The silence came with a belief in false strength, as if it was something that I had done.

Travel internationally and see it in a people. While a weaker currency was inflationary, no one who used the currency within the borders seemed to appreciate what was happening, in the view of the rest of the world over value. Or over judging values.

When currency policy was used to finance war, so that not many citizens thought about the war. There was a silence all around us. About war. Until tax cuts affected road maintenance. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow. But someday soon. In the United States, the silence all around us was about war. Until tax increases came, or otherwise the currency would become worthless. No matter how many dollars we saved for retirement.

There was a silence all around us. In political campaigns. About war. And about the cost of war. When currency policy was used to finance war. The past unfunded costs, and the ongoing present costs. Which were affecting currency. Every day. When state government had no control over the erosion of currency. While the electorate seemed to only build new stadiums, drink beer and watch NFL football. An electorate with a loss of consciousness, if not just the beginning stages of dementia in a once booming generation.

The power to regulate currency was left to the market, as the Fed and the Treasury secretary had spent their tools to control the cost of money. Only after Congress had already approved of war. The elected representatives. With interest rates, banks were allowed to have some control of cost of money. In a world market fighting deflation.

The silence all around us was from the seemingly powerless, in whatever currency was used. Except come election day. An electorate, as one clinical symptom of depression, continued to be unable to focus. Perhaps as a result of battle fatigue, or one stage of a national Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, the missing focus was on the cost of war. It was not just soldiers that would have to live the remainder of their lives with this Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.

In a once booming American generation unable to focus beyond a counted cost of 50,000 American lives, with no attention to the 2 million Asians who lost their lives. It was not just surviving soldiers that had had to live the remainder of their lives with this Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, and the loss of focus. In a once booming American nation once with a currency with the power to regulate governments in Southeast Asia, or to go to war in Iraq. A nation that had not learned the affects of war on currency that took twenty years to overcome, beyond the loss of life.

The United States was a nation, after both Democrat and Republican administrations, with a sub-prime belief in false strength of currency that was used to somehow bring Bin Laden to justice, with wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. My own considerable fear, with this Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome and the loss of focus after September 2001, was about a weaker currency which was hyper inflationary, in the soon to come future that would affect a nation for twenty more years. Or the reverse policy would be uncontrolled deflation, like the policy followed in Japan, where elected political leaders could only watch the affect of monetary policy adrift. Or the decade after the Great War in Europe that saw ongoing deflation, with a contagion that spread to these shores.

The drones of both Democrat and Republican candidates with post traumatic stress, and not really caring any more about the cost of these foreign wars –the wars lost sight of under the cover of TARP rescue of banks that no one had really protested against. It’s the war, stupid. It’s the stupid cost of war.

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October 12, 2010

Trying to Make It Through the Motion Detector

Filed under: Homeland Security — baseball91 @ 7:36 PM
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Attributing the higher number to increased border enforcement, workplace enforcement and use of fingerprints to identify illegal immigrants in state prisons and local jails, under the expansion of the Secure Communities program, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced Wednesday 392,000 illegal immigrants were deported from the U.S. in fiscal 2010, with half of deported immigrants in the last fiscal year convicted of crimes. “We have deployed unprecedented infrastructure, unprecedented technology, unprecedented manpower,” Napolitano said. Hmmm?

Politicians manipulating the fears of an electorate, showing false results to justify tax increases? With half of those deported were not just arrested but convicted of crimes, how tough was it to detect illegals amongst us? How does the boast of increased border enforcement apply to the manipulation of statistics, in the budget of Homeland Security which seems to have replaced the INS budget. The Secure Communities program, the referenced “unprecedented infrastructure,” has gone from 14 jurisdictions in 2008 to more than 660, as the bureaucracy grows. Why did the prison systems not have a program to begin with to identify who was in the country legally in the first place?

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September 30, 2010

The Deceit in the Decade of the Aughts

Filed under: Nebraska,news — baseball91 @ 3:40 AM
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My sister reported this week that the accident which my mother had had two years ago driving to a post-season baseball game, a rear-end accident, really was not my mother’s fault. Because it seems, my sister was driving. I have not inquired yet of the reasons why the deception. I did not recall if the accident was two or three years ago, only that it was during the Bush Administration when the Twins were playing Oakland, and Frank Thomas had hit a home run to decide the outcome that day–game one of the opening post season.

There has been a lot of deception around the past few years. About bailouts. And banks and money laundering. In an era when an American government was not all that different than the Mexican government. In an era when we wondered which Heisman Trophy winners had received payment, and who was using steroids, in post season baseball which allowed a wild card team to go the farthest in the post season, for an extra round of television ratings. In the decade of war which started over weapons of mass destruction.

The Bush Administration talked only about the upfront costs of the War in Iraq which mostly were handled still five years after the war began by emergency appropriations. By the time we went to war, costing $12 billion a month but not in the budget, Bush and Congress — even though the United States already had a massive deficit—cut taxes. So the war had to be funded by more borrowing. And thus the low interest rate policy and quantitative easing.

So budgets seemed to have, because of the War on Terror, mostly hidden items. So that the collapse of the banks was blamed on sub-prime loans, but when the fault lies also with the votes of Congress to go to war in Iraq, based on the theory of weapons of mass destruction which had never existed. Funding of war is now running at a monthly $16 billion if you include Afghanistan.
All of these wars, with quantitative easing and little or no economic sacrifice. The hallucinations back home about the war in Iraq. The war in Afghanistan. Or the drug wars. Easy money. And banks laundering the money to fund it all. And all the costs hidden in the defense budget, and for national security, in the war on terror which my Congressperson, prior to 2006 “shoulder to shoulder” with Mr. Bush, has witnessed over her ___years. Though I think she has been around since the 1990s, I will have to look. Apparently, like my mother across the river, she even had approved of bailouts.

In elections when no one asks about the deception. Journalists do not ask— perhaps more conscious than ever about the financial condition over the precipice of their own employer— when they are allowed to question candidates during the debate. If any of these television news people were journalists.

Yeah, my sister reported this week that accident which my mother had had two years ago when, it seems, my sister was actually driving. It was time to inquire the reasons why the deception. Because the deceptions were becoming a way of life here. Overall, according to a new report from the Congressional Research Service, the U.S. has spent $1.1 trillion on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Between 2009 and 2010, the average monthly expenditure of the war in Iraq fell $1.8 billion to $5.4 billion. While in Afghanistan, monthly expenditure was $5.7 billion, up 63% compared to the unhidden expenses in the prior year’s budget. And if it was anything like when the Shriners’ convention came to town, or with the Super Bowl when politicians promised a seven-fold spending result for each dollar expended, in the derivative world with no real regulation, was this war costing $7 trillion? On top of the bailouts? Two years later?

My mother called in the wake of the news about all of her deceit in this auto accident. She wondered if I wanted to attend a meeting with her at Wells Fargo Bank on Monday. Yeah, the bank which had acquired Wachovia. Wachovia, with all of the bad sub-prime loans which still are not resolved. Wachovia which made a lot of money, hundred of millions, in money laundering for drug lords in Mexico. But she liked her banker, who seems like a nice guy.

A lot like the subsequent president, my mother still has not spoken about all of the deceit in the two or three years since the car accident. Maybe I had become like too many Congressmen and Congresswomen, and I don’t want to know. In the case of the accident, I don’t think the deceit involved more than the family circle. All I knew was it was really was not my mother’s fault, just a tap, and no one believed that the other driver was injured, or if she really had more than $200 in damage.

I don’t understand a lot these days. About how it became some how a cause of patriotism to die upholding the wars of deceit. Too many have not inquired the reasons for the wars of deceit. Some attribute the cost to the War on Terror. The ones which have allowed wiretaps and water torture, encroaching upon the highest ideals of the Founding Fathers.

Mostly I think we had allowed ourselves to be deceived. By institutions. Academic ones. Religious ones. Political ones. By people who seemed like nice guys. Older popes. Even Pulitzer Prize winning economists from Princeton, telling us how to avoid a decade long depression, without ever looking at all this deceit around.

The anger at Mother Church. The one based in Rome. At all the deceit. With all of his complicity, why this pope had gone to the United Kingdom at this point in history. Accepting an invitation from the queen, herself a head of state and head of a religion. A Protestant herself, inhabiting castles and ivy towers. As the Irish could just hang their heads. About why this guy was in charge. And why did he not just go away? But when the same electorate would choose his successor. As the Irish could just hang their collective heads.

Yeah, my sister reported this week that accident which my mother had had two years ago, when it seems, my sister was driving. And my mother bailed her out. This sister does not drink. Or so we think. A lot like that original bailout vote which failed, the accident happened at mid day. And a lot like Republicans and the Democrats, I was not quite ready to forgive either of them. As Obama and Congress — even though the United States already had a massive deficit from the wars stemming from deceit— were in discussions once again about continuing the tax cuts. And when it also seemed patriotic to fund such wars. Because now everyone needed jobs.

While the Jews around the world were getting ready for the Day of Atonement this weekend, I was not quite ready. In a world with less and less belief, I still needed a few more weeks.

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April 15, 2010

Those Tea Parties



In his book, “The Three Trillion War,” Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz and co-author Linda J. Bilmes state that the total economic impact of the Iraq War may be $4 trillion or more. And that was before the United States escalated things in Afghanistan.

Former White House economist Lawrence Lindsey was fired as economic adviser to President Bush partly because of his estimate of the dollar cost of the Iraq war. In an excerpt of his own book in Fortune magazine five years after, Lindsey wrote his projections were partly right. “My hypothetical estimate got the annual cost about right. But I misjudged an important factor: how long we would be involved.” Mr. Lindsey also stated his belief that one reasons the administration’s efforts were so unpopular was the choice not to engage in an open public discussion of the consequences of war, including its economic cost.”

Congressional Democrats had predicted the Iraq war would cost about $93 billion, not including reconstruction. Peter R. Orszag, director of the Congressional Budget Office, said, “It’s clear that operations in Iraq and Afghanistan have gone on longer and have been more expensive than the projections initially suggested,”

So far this has been a tax-free Iraq War, and not included in the Congressional Budget, as I recall a piece that was written in 2002. According to an item that ran on the MSN news page, the cost was carried over. I see little media coverage since that time indicting where the war shows up in the president’s budget.

William Nordhaus from Yale University wrote in the New York Review of Books in December 2002 in an article entitled “The Economic Consequences of War,” about the the long-term management of the economy, with the management of planning cycles. “The fabulous Nineties—with soaring stock market, falling unemployment, declining defense spending, budget surpluses, and bubbly optimism—were followed by the Bush administration which made no serious public estimate of the costs of the coming war. The public and the Congress are unable to make informed judgments about the realistic costs and benefits of the upcoming conflict when none are given. Particularly worrisome is the promise of postwar occupation, reconstruction, and nation-building in Iraq. If American taxpayers decline to pay the bills, this would leave a mountain of rubble and mobs of angry people in Iraq and the region. Closely related is a second syndrome, frequently found in past conflicts, of entering war prepared militarily but not economically. The finances of the nation have deteriorated sharply since George W. Bush took office. The annual federal budget has deteriorated by $360 billion from the spring of 2001 to the fall of 2002, and, even with a short war, budget deficits are likely to mount in coming years. The Bush administration has not prepared the public for the cost or the financing of what could prove to be an expensive venture.”

Nor has the Obama Administration. Market participants, wrote William Nordhaus in “The Story of the Bubble,” at this point do “remember how they lost $6 trillion on absurd and wildly overvalued speculations. A similar exuberance is unlikely to recur in the near future. More likely is an economy in which large federal budget deficits lead to cuts in existing civilian programs and doom critical priorities such as comprehensive health care.”

That tax-free Iraq War, as conceived by the Bush White House, was one ongoing economic consequences of war. There was now the subsequent tax-free Afghan War. These wars would soon change American history. Would you like to come over for tea?

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February 18, 2010

Declarations of Bankruptcy

With the Wednesday anniversary of the $787-billion package of tax cuts and spending in the Recovery Act, in defense of the stimulus, President Obama said, “One year later, it is largely thanks to the Recovery Act that a second Depression is no longer a possibility.” Democratic and Republican leaders in Washington marked America’s legalized corruption by sniping at each other. Bankrupt after 8 years of the leadership of George Bush, Republican lawmakers stepped up their attacks on what was the Paulson-Bush stimulus plan, calling it wasteful and ineffective.

From an article by Simon Johnson in the Atlantic, America’s Legalized Corruption

“The crash has laid bare many unpleasant truths about the United States. One of the most alarming, says a former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, is that the finance industry has effectively captured our government—a state of affairs that more typically describes emerging markets, and is at the center of many emerging-market crises. If the IMF’s staff could speak freely about the U.S., it would tell us what it tells all countries in this situation: recovery will fail unless we break the financial oligarchy that is blocking essential reform. And if we are to prevent a true depression, we’re running out of time.”


From the transcript of Frontline on February 16, 2010:

We didn’t truly know the dangers of the market, because it was a dark market,” says Brooksley Born, the head of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission [CFTC] — an obscure federal regulatory agency — who not only warned of the potential for economic meltdown in the late 1990s, but also tried to convince the country’s key economic powerbrokers to take actions that could have helped avert the crisis.

They were totally opposed to it,” Born says. “That puzzled me. What was it that was in this market that had to be hidden?

They being the same people advising the current president. Then Assistant Treasury Secetary Lawrence Summers, Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, as well as Alan Greespan heading up the Federal Reserve. And who did Timothy Geithner worked for through this all? As Henry Paulson got his start working in the Nixon White House; was it for Erhlichman or Haldeman? He learned under the best of hatchet men.

It had taken 40 years of the media making us all world experts, and this expertise along with the lobbyists had bankrupted American government. It was why I felt uncomfortable having my retirement accounts with Fidelity, with Merrill Lynch, with Morgan Stanley. They all had hijacked the government of the United States, through the Democratic Party and the Republican Party.

One year later, President Obama was sounding a lot like George Bush, announcing victory in Iraq. Or Henry Paulson and Ben Ben Bernanke, with their similar pronouncements all along, when the Bush Administration on July 13, 2008 rescued Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, or Bear Stearns. When that second Depression “was no longer a possibility.”

The Congressional Oversight Panel, chaired by Harvard law professor Elizabeth Warren, warned on the same anniversary date that it remains “deeply concerned” that commercial loan losses could jeopardize the stability of many banks, particularly the nation’s mid-size and smaller banks. Highlighting yet one more hurdle for this country’s fragile economy, a wave of commercial real estate loan failures could threaten over the next few years America’s already-weakened financial system. The Congressional Oversight Panel was formed as part of oversight for the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

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November 11, 2009

Remembrance Day

“My father used to say that wars were made by men who had never been to war –men who did not know that once started, it never ends. The Great War ended with the Armistice in 1918, but my father lived another sixty years. And during all that time, the war never left his memory or his nightmares. Nor is it ever far from mine, because the violence my father brought home fell on me, shattering whatever small childish trust I may once have had in the simplicity of love. The violence of war does not end when peace is declared — often receding merely from public to private life.” –Ann Jones

On Remembrance Day, there is still a poignant remembering overseas of the cost to Europe. War had a way of bringing home the present day cost of risk appetites.

Social mood. Political campaigns. Financial fate. Markets go up and they go down, even in the age of austerity, as in the age of conspicuous consumption.  By understanding history, humanity has the power to change history…. war, and the way we live our lives.Armistice

We live in a world that has perverted the concept of remembering people. The media had a cheap story to fill the airwaves now on each September 11th and November 11th. In Europe they still called it Remembrance Day, where the people remembered the war dead and not the military. I was in London on this day in 2000. “Flanders Field.” Armistice Day was not a promotion for the armed services or to be used by the National Guard to recruit the mostly local youth, a lot like those pro football players and their fans in town who “root for laundry,” as Jerry Seinfeld reminds his audience. The living athletes of combat. Cannon fodder. The human cannon fodder, used too often in the name of nationalism. The “National Guard” that had been perverted by public policy to become an invading army in Iraq, and maybe one day in Afghanistan? Today was supposed to be a day about the individual people lost to war, not about the uniform worn. At the end of the Great War, in 1919, because of the missing bodies to bury, the November 11th observance was introduced, with a two minute silence. Unbearable mourning continued long after a war was over. Today was supposed to be a day about peace. About real people gone.

Reusse & Company this morning. How does an interview of Major General Larry Shellito of the Minnesota National Guard relate to November 11th and Armistice Day? A day about peace!. Armistice Day was about turning swords into plowshares. November 11th in Europe was Memorial Day, not for the military industrial complex, as Dwight Eisenhower called it, but about individuals compelled to go to war in the name of government and nationalism who died in service. And the people who went, that the world would one day be a better place.

The“National Guard” through public policy has been perverted and converted to become an invading army in Iraq and in Afghanistan. How had this happened? Why has the “National Guard” replaced the all volunteer army? Since September 11, 2001, the U .S. has deployed troops in 33 countries, according to Major General Larry Shellito. But why? And about the expense of all this? Was the Department of Defense any different than that recent vote on the affordable health care act which was not at all about health care but the cost of health care insurance? In paying for all of this health care,there is not much discussion at all about the real issue of health care. How many MRI machines were needed in a community? Without a discussion of preventative medicine, not unlike the missing discussion as to why local kids needed to be dispatched to 33 countries, in the last 8 years? And where was any discussion on all of this use of “The NATIONAL Guard?”

No one asked why. Elections have been spun to be one long drone of an argument between two sides. The two sides that had long ago quit communicating, in a world that was unable to find much in the way of meaning. If you thought that television and radio were sounding boards on the issues of the day, then your moderators had become nothing more than game show hosts.

In a current world without conscription, in a world of voluntary service, somehow the message was getting across about the glamour of swords. And now a word from the sponsors.

I am not sure why Major General Larry Shellito of the Minnesota National Guard was invited on Armistice Day of all days to be a guest. On morning radio, on Reusse and Company. I did not listen long to the remainder of the show. I don’t think there was a discussion of what happened when you take the young and place their lives in peril, in places where they are seen as the enemy, in some of the 33 places. Thirty-three places with what looked to the native-born as invading armies? An invitation was extended to the major general as a guest by the same guy who wrote today on his blog:

“Pro football players were merely mercenaries moving through a city for the purpose of collecting a large paycheck. There would be replaced by a different group of mercenaries in a few years, and the foolish fans would cheer for them for no reason other than the appearance of their jerseys.” So wrote Pat Reusse today.

In the civilian world, leadership has to be re-earned in each generation. By sons who followed fathers and grandfathers. In attempts to try to see the future through the past. My grandfather won a purple heart in World War I. He paid a price for his medal every day for the rest of his life. It was more than what combat had done to his hearing. The life expectancy of those leaders like Woodrow Wilson was always so much shorter than that of the young soldier.

“Be careful when you break horses that you don’t break their spirit too.”

If sons and daughters took the time to try to understand history, humanity had the power to change history. In Minnesota, people spent more time contemplating the NFL than they did the deployment since September 11, 2001 of U .S. troops in 33 countries. We thought more about the people there than we did about the dollars it had cost for them to be there, or the price when soldiers came back home more like the tanks and Humvees which came home with them. Just as not many folks were asking why this was done under the auspices of “The National Guard,” not many considered how we made young men and women to be just distant weapons of war. Again.

There was a cost to all of the voluntary.  In a world of voluntary and involuntary thrift, with personal savings and public policy focused on taxing, in a world where voluntary service could fast become involuntary, as government officials induced borrowing rather than pay now these out of pocket expense. The single greatest risk as the equilibrium between asset classes remains a seismic shift in currency markets.  What was this defense policy doing to the U.S. dollar? When a currency holds a nation together, and “the economy — perhaps society at large — assumes more, not less, risk as a function of the path of our attempted fix,” writes Todd Harrison. A Congressman from Tennessee cited Albert Einstein’s belief, in a joint hearing chaired by Senator Kent Konrad from North Dakota, that the greatest power on earth was not atomic energy but compound interest, in this case as a threat to the future of America.

Counting the cost. On Remembrance Day, there is a perversion to discuss the engines of financing as much as there is to discuss the success of recruitment as Major General Larry Shellito of the Minnesota National Guard was asked to do. In a nation mostly that just no longer discusses war.

On Remembrance Day, there is still a poignant remembering overseas of the cost of war.  War is not over when it’s over. Whereas the poignant part of the remembering is invisibly felt in the streets of London, in the United States, Armistice Day was commercialized and politicized, used mostly as a photo opportunity by a politician hoping to remain an elected official for an entire career. No one sees the irony in the blare in speeches about peace with armed forces in 33 nations contrasted against the silence of the Armistice. Calling it Veterans Day without any apostrophe — note the Veterans Day Sales, exploited so much like Christmas — Armistice Day is no longer really remembered as a commemoration of the War To End All Wars, and all the sequels.

About these real people gone: Except in a Europe, which continues to manifest the loss of one generation, of its best and brightest, the purchase price of war, for past wars, is reflected in every future.  While watching the scenes this week at the Brandenburg Gate, did you see the difference in the caliber of leaders four generations later, wondering if Europe had ever recovered from the void of the War to End All War, in counting the compound cost  … of all of the missing. And the crime in all of this was seen in the grave-robbers, who controlled the media in a Totalitarian system, as Remembrance Day about the missing people from the past was embezzled to this perverted honoring of living Veterans who had survived somehow a war — any war — living with the memory of the war trauma brought home, in the shameful silence of what they had witnessed. Of the war dead.

It must have seemed really heroic to fight in The War To End All Wars. In a world with so much an appetite for great war.


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The War dead: in stories of war and disrupted lives, a human like to see some of the evidence of goodness, afterwards. On Judgment Day, the performance review was about spreading true goodness in disrupted lives, in a disrupted world. With Seas of Red. The irony, with all of this knowledge about war, with all this new knowledge about the world receding from public to private lives, is how few still know after war. After one-and-a-half million people died at just the Battle of the Somme, there is the magnifying problem still over the coming TO KNOW, by humans who liked to see some of the evidence of goodness, after battles of war recede. Post-war, there is mostly the missing goodness beyond good intention, while dealing with the froth of lost innocence by another generation.

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September 27, 2008

ABOUT THOSE CASH MACHINES

The revolution is here in the financial markets.  There was never a new paradigm.  In a crisis of debt the best action is to pay off debt completely.  That is how you win back a credit rating.  Those are the cardinal rules.  And the cardinal rule of savings might be the real solution.  You can no longer create wealth in this environment with leveraged borrowing.  Big money realizes that in a deflation, you need cash to keep going, to keep your business in operation.  In the new era of deflation accompanied by low interest rates, you want cash.  Hence the coming sell-off in stocks, to raise cash to support an income stream over time.

Alan Sloan wrote a piece in Fortune about market sentiment, without stating the obvious, that the fundamentals are unchanged.  The problem is debt.  You need cash.  You want cash. 

It was ten years ago in August that the Russian government ended up defaulting on $40 billion dollars in obligations. There was a “Minsky moment” with the Russian financial crisis at the time  when debt-heavy investors all rush to market with their assets at the same time, triggering de-valuation and ultimately a liquidity crisis.

Hyman P. Minsky was an economics professor at Washington University. Minsky believed there was an “inherent instability” in unchecked capitalism at its core, which in turn led to “recurrent bubbles or stampedes or over-exuberance.” He believed that finance was the bloodstream of the economy, and any poison entering it soon would pollute the whole system. Instability was not an aberration in finance. “He pretty much just harped on the fragility of the financial system and the economy. It was the greatest curse because here was this guy harping on this thing nobody believed. I had to labor under his tutelage, and I wasn’t sure I believed it either,” University of St. Thomas economics professor Mel Gray told a MinnPost reporter. 

The Minsky model of the credit cycle has five stages: displacement, boom, euphoria, profit taking, and panic.

George Magnus, senior economic adviser to UBS AG in London, is credited with coining the term the “Minsky moment,” describing the point at which credit supply starts to dry up even to sound borrowers and the central bank is obliged to intervene. In August 2007, Magnus said that moment had arrived. While equity markets have stabilized temporarily in anticipation of a Fed loosening, credit markets “remain deeply troubled,” he said.

“It is apparent to me that Washington’s attempt to bail out banks and brokers will do nothing but add to consumer debt, weaken the US dollar, and literally waste $700-plus billion dollars which could have gone to more productive uses. Since the markets blew up in the summer of 2007, Paulson and Bernanke have tried one thing after another to stimulate lending and restore confidence but nothing has worked for more than a brief period. For the past 14 months Paulson and Bernanke have thrown hundreds of billions of dollars of fed assets into the market, yet lenders still won’t lend.”

Alan Sloan, in a piece in Fortune this week. And the revolution is here. The panic phrase. Some $1.2 trillion in home equity was borrowed against from 2002 to 2007, says the public- policy group Demos in New York. Those days are over. The downward pressure is in place on housing.” Deflation was coming to a theater near you. And not just in real estate.

Market sentiment might be temporarily sustained but the fundamentals are unchanged. The problem is debt. According to Richard Russell, “From what I see, the markets are telling us to prepare for hard times and a global spate of the worst deflation to be seen in generations. This is why gold has been sinking, this is why stocks have been falling — big money, sophisticated money, is cashing out, raising cash, preparing for world deflation.”

The fear is what has been presented as a credit problem, one on liquidity, essentially turns into one of solvency; solvency among homeowners, builders, mortgage providers and financial institutions. My fear with infusion of money is the day if eventually arrives when he government that prints money stays solvent. Germany in the 1920s.

So why, with the “bailout,” a concentration on credit markets? To build more? If this was a revolution, why do we need more Burger Kings, more Lowes, more strip malls, and more new houses? What does leadership not understand? With the past credit binge in the last 20 years, there are too many strip malls and stores. Why, especially in a recession? In the new world order, it was all about paying off what you wanted to keep. Expansions were followed by contractions.

In a deflationary environment, people have an incentive to put off spending. The profit motive is diminished, and the economy weakens. Government has few tools to stop deflation.

Posted on August 23, 2007 by Gwen Robinson: “The immediate focus is on short-term funding, financing flows and counterparty risk. This week, three-month US Treasury bills touched 2.99 per cent, compared with a yield of 5 per cent a month ago. Investors are avoiding securities collateralised against or invested in mortgages. This ‘Minsky moment’ is not yet over – interest rates in the US and perhaps elsewhere will come down sooner or later. The path ahead is littered with losses, lawsuits, and greater regulation.

But what about the economic consequences?, asks George Magnus.

In Magnus’s view, two main propositions define the outlook: “First, the flight from debt in this downswing may be as potent as the rush towards it on the upswing”. It is most likely, he warns, that the reduced availability of cheap credit is going to lead to a sharp reverse in US spending on goods and services and assets.

Second, “current credit cycle concerns are about solvency, not liquidity per se, as was the case in 1998, after which the world economy recovered quite promptly”. This time, the problem is about solvency among homeowners, builders, mortgage providers and financial institutions, he notes.

Added to these worries is an increase in the cost of capital, a cyclical switch from building up debt to rebuilding savings and probable declines in consumer and business confidence. It is hardly surprising , then, that Magnus’s conclusion is that all this suggests “the business cycle is going to get quite rough.” (end of Gwen Robinson’s post from August 23rd, 2007.)

That Minsky Moment has lingered on and on, since Ms. Robinson’s post. It was two weeks ago yesterday that Hank Paulson and Ben Benacke had convened a meeting on Wall Street at the close of the business weeks. UBS economist Larry Hatheway pithily observed about that meeting in a note to clients yesterday: “Put differently, if a (quasi) private sector solution was in the offing this past weekend, then Secretary Paulson and New York Fed President Tim Geithner invited the wrong financiers on Saturday-Sunday.” He invited
the top executives from Lehman Brothers, Goldman Sachs, J P Morgan Chase, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, and other financial companies.  Larry Hatheway’s view was that the nature of the on-going de-leveraging, in which declining asset values, debt reduction and asset sales reinforce one another, called for additional intervention by government. Hadn’t that intervention come and failed over the last 12 months?

The revolution is here in the financial markets. And no one knew what to do.

Charles Kindleberger, the MIT professor, leaned heavily on Minsky’s work. Kindleberger, the author of
Manias, Panics, and Crashes: A History of Financial Crises, wrote that cash generated by their assets no longer is sufficient to pay off the mountains of debt they took on to acquire them, which prompted lenders to call in their loans. “This is likely to lead to a collapse of asset values,” Mr. Minsky wrote. Forced to sell even their less-speculative positions to make good on their loans, markets spiral lower and create a severe demand for cash. It is all about cash.

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September 20, 2008

Those Positions In Naked Shorts


Law and Order were based on faith, mood and assumptions. Order was challenged, when faith in the system was lost. In Middle America we assumed there was transparency on Wall Street, based on the Truth. We assumed there was transparency based on goodness. When you had such an unfair system of compensation that came from managing corporations with workers, where gigantic salaries rested on the backs of workers, how could you the mood remained unchanged?

The novel of the 20th century, Sophie’s Choice, really was a story about a great looking Polish woman who was living in Brooklyn after the war.  She had spent the war years working for a commandant in a concentration camp.  It was all about the times that she lived in.  She had two kids.  The commandant wanted her to sleep with him, in return for saving one of her two kids.  Sophie’s choice, on the surface, was about what child she wanted to save.  But the novel was really about evil.  It was about what had created the environment.  It was as much about what happened in those times, the banality of evil.  It had taken years for the environment to be created, choices made over the ten years before.  And Sophie never appreciated what the temperature of those times had created.

In Germany they gave preference to the Aryan race. This week the U S government showed preference to stockholders.  AIG was rescued.  Bond-holders, always affected by the yield of U S treasuries, bit the bullet.  The dollar soon would be in free fall.  Currency traders had to have made a killing this week, as the U S Dollar fell by a full cent in one 24-hour period this week.  Someone was being favored by these decisons.  When a ship was sinking, decisions had to be made as to who would be saved. Salvation.  Sophie’s Choice was really about a theme of salvation.

Since May 2008, treasury yield have been sliced nearly in half, at one point on Friday.  The market closed at a yield of 2.18%, in a recovery if I am reading the chart right of 27.4%.   Treasury markets reflect decisions.  The following stories were posted yesterday.

 

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — Treasurys plunged Friday, sending yields on benchmark notes up by the most in at least two decades, amid investor relief that the U.S. government is planning a broader solution to the financial crisis.”

“SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) — A tumultuous week for financial markets was capped Friday with the closure of Northfork, W.Va.-based Ameribank Inc., the 12th U.S. bank closure so far this year.”

“NEW YORK (MarketWatch) Rates on three-month Treasury bills, among the most popular assets for investors seeking quality amid market turmoil, rose back above 1% Friday. The rate had dropped to as little as 0.02% earlier in the week as companies ranging from Lehman Brothers to American International Group and Goldman Sachs came under pressure and fear grew that the country was headed for a depression. On Friday, rates rose by the most in at least 20 years after the U.S. government announced a broader plan to solve the financial crisis, including propping up money market funds and buying financial institution’s bad assets.  The rate had dropped to as little as 0.02% earlier in the week as companies ranging from Lehman Brothers to American International Group Goldman Sachs came under pressure and fear grew that the country was headed for a depression. On Friday, rates rose by the most in at least 20 years after the U.S. government announced a broader plan to solve the financial crisis, including propping up money market funds and buying financial institution’s bad assets.”

For now, salaries of professional ballplayers and the performers on Wall Street the same as they have for the last ten years.  These gods remained above the fray, elevated to their heights sometime by natural power, other times by performance enhancement drugs.  The system had been skewed, law if not order, to favor those in power.  The gods of Wall Street for the most part now owned sports franchises, compensated their athletes as they were compensated, not as mortals. The end justified the means.

In the aftermath of September 11th, in the days of the War on Terror, we still assumed there was not evil on Wall Street, no self-interest.  Leaders know to speak of socializing losses, after privatizing gains.  Financial instruments, derivatives, were left to operate clandestinely, like the CIA, without regulation amidst all of this. Unchallenged, more risk was taken in this shadow financial system.  Unchallenged, untested, ballplayers or rogues took more risk in their Game of Shadows (SEE book by Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams), in this shadow financial system. What was the name of the book by those journalists from San Francisco who covered the BALCO story, and Barry Bonds?

Now there was talk of a revolution coming in the financial markets, if not to these performers, financially supported by the 3500 lobbyists in Washington, for both parties. 

There was a new form of fascism in the stories this week. That is if “fascism” was a word about comforts, with government offering instruction how all of us could live easier. Government was now deciding who would be saved, which among us would be rescued. The free market was being replaced. But it did not really all recently start with those positions in naked shorts.  Those naked shorts just revealed, without fear, what had been there all along.

In other news, Austrian authorities say a small earthquake set off a large World War II-era bomb in the garden of a Vienna home yesterday. No one was injured in the explosion.  But the affects of history were felt for years.  

 

 

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September 6, 2008

The Powers That Be

Nervous.  Nervous. It has been a nervous week in St. Paul.  The 4500 delegates have gone home, along with the national media.  The barriers are being removed.  More than 800 people have been arrested overall, including some 17 journalists and innocent bystanders.

“You’re always going to have demonstrators,” said Maria Cino, who has been to every Republican National Convention since the early 1980s. “Most of the delegates inside the convention didn’t even know what was going on outside.” 

Most of the national television media did not either. 

The lack of coverage of the four hour clash during the last night on the streets of St. Paul, not broadcast to the nation, was a story? Were there not enough protesters to justify a real story?  Is it about the numbers?  

Were their televised stories true or not?  Comparing 1968 to 2008 and the coverage then, were there not enough numbers?  Were there not enough protestors?  Were there not enough broadcasters?  In Iraq, were there not enough troops?  Had not enough Americans died?  Had the cost of the war not made this an issue?  Was it just about ratings?  Were these television people true journalists.  Was it about commercial time and sponsors? 

What had changed in the the creeds of the news division of the American Broadcasting Company, the National Broadcasting Company?   What had changed in 40 years?  These were national television stations, under the authority of the FCC.  And if they did not care, why should the American public?  Why should anyone tune in?

Was the creed of CBS News, ABC News, NBC News about revealing the truth and transparency?  Where was the Public Broadcasting System?  Where was C-span? 

Conventions could be seen as a national retreat, to reflect on identities.  Instead the platforms of the two parties are not focused on.  Who care about creeds, if there are any creeds left?  

There was a tension between the known and the unknown.  I for one was nervous when the reporting was muted.  Of blackouts.  Or when there was no reporting. 

On Thursday evening at sunset, a volley of 24 shots was heard in the vicinity of the capital building as authorities battle demonstrators, with at least 2 helicopters in the distance, with 2 more audible overhead.  All this, audible by me.

The last 4 shots appeared to have been closer to the Cathedral of St. Paul, which had concluded by 20:18.  There was no live coverage of the goings on.  Bushville, where at least 100 of these demonstrators are staying in tents, was about 7 blocks from where all this was happening.  None of this was picked up by the traditional television media as a national story. 

Is there a sense now about political conventions, in Washington, in New York, of just going through the motions?  That this was just an exhibition game?  That conventions were just a commercial?  How did a news division of CBS, ABC, NBC, PBS, go about presenting stories?  Were George Stephanopoulos, Jeff Greenfield put into roles as cheerleaders rather than reporters or analysts?  With the paid narrative inside, are they instructed to ignore protestors like they were fans who had tried to enter the playing field?  The Republican National Convention was just a halftime show of a football broadcast in prime time? Was this just a mid-summer’s night dream called an all-star game of political leaders, with little or no meaning? As cheerleaders created all-stars who would renew the licenses to broadcast for another four years?

 I think the websites of the protesters this week raised a valid question about what the “S” stood for in CBS.  Was it the “system?”  There was a story here.  It was missed.  Where was journalistic integrity this week in St. Paul?  Why were there young anarchists who had lived through the most affluent times in all of history?   

Behold the tension between the known and the unknown.  Behold a detection of totality if not Totalitarianism. And the reporting was so muted.

The convention was over.  I now am gonna read both Bob Woodward’s new book as well as Naomi Wolf’s book, The End of America, which takes a historical look at the rise of fascism and, according to Wikipedia, outlines the 10 steps necessary for a state to take control of individuals’ lives:


 

  • Invoke a terrifying internal and external enemy. 
  • Create secret prisons where torture takes place.
  • Develop a paramilitary force not answerable to citizens.
  • Set up an internal surveillance system.
  • Harass citizen groups.
  • Engage in arbitrary detention and release.
  • Target key individuals.
  • Control the press.
  • Treat all political dissent as traitorous.
  • Suspend the rule of law. 


 
Bob Woodward’s new book indicates that President Bush conceded: “This war has created a lot of really harsh emotion, out of which comes a lot of harsh rhetoric. One of my failures has been to change the tone in Washington.”  
 

The quote that best summarized who these people were that came to town is: “Most of the delegates inside the convention didn’t even know what was going on outside.” I going to also be checking the tone on my telephone.  

December 2, 2016

Do Too Many Cooks Spoil the Re-opening?

Filed under: Minnesota,St. Paul,St. Paul Pioneer Press,Uncategorized — baseball91 @ 4:46 PM

Restaurants in the Age of Free Agents. Nostalgia for old places, with the Team of “dazzling chefs and restaurateurs.” Kevin Fitzgerald. Josh Thoma. Jack Riebel. These are owners of the The Lexington, a restaurant in Saint Paul, Minnesota. The managing partner is Lorin Zinter for the ownership – Josh Thoma, Kevin Fitzgerald and Jack Riebel – of the Lexington and Il Foro. The Team had been busy filling a hole of missing Italian eateries in downtown Minneapolis. Behold Il Foro!

lexingtonmn-750xx3098-1743-0-144

Jack Reibel fondly remembers his days as the up-and-coming chef inside the kitchen when the address went by the name of Goodfellows which had a nine-year (1996-2005) run here [before that this had been The Forum Cafeteria]. Il Foro brought on Troy Unruh, who had worked in the Goodfellows kitchen with Riebel, to serve as executive chef.

Opened. The 11-month-old effort. Now closed. This Team composed of superstar cooks planned to open Il Foro first. Il Foro closed in May 2016. Like The Lexington Restaurant in St. Paul, closed since 2013. The Lex then had been under different ownership.

The best laid plans of mice and men. Opening of The Lexington was to follow some time in the spring of 2015, said The Team. After 30 years of cooking, Jack Riebel won a James Beard Award nomination for the Butcher & the Boar. Being mentioned in the top 25 best new restaurants in America, as a semifinalist, he is part of the Team.

Riebel, formerly of Butcher & the Boar which is open, remains in place as the executive chef at The Lexington. Butcher and Boar opened in 2012; Riebel’s co-owners bought out his share of Butcher & the Boar in 2014. At that time he told Mpls-St Paul magazine that he no longer was involved in the restaurant’s operations. He described the split as being friendly. The Butcher & the Boar building just sold for $6 million reported in September 2016.

Knowing that they needed another partner, enter Lorin Zinter, former co-owner with Jim Christiansen of Heyday; yes, Restaurant of the Year, Heyday. Zinter left Heyday to pursue an opportunity at soon-to-open Italian eatery, Il Foro. Zinter had been the front-of-house hospitalitarian at smoothly running Heyday.

At this point, the Team is about 20 months behind schedule with the mentioned re-opening of the Lex. The Il Foro ownership – Josh Thoma, Kevin Fitzgerald and Jack Riebel – wouldn’t talk to the Star Tribune about the demise.  And no one in St Paul seems able to find out what transpires inside The Lex.

How does this team of chefs eat?  Where is the money?  Who is Josh Thoma? Or where has he been? In a joint venture with Chicago’s Four Corners Tavern Group, whose owners visited the Minnesota Smack Shack, proposed a partnership in what became a 10,000-square-foot restaurant at he base of the Google building in the Chicago West Loop, which opened April 21, 2016 and seats 300. Co-founder of La Belle Vie and Smack Shack, with his Smack Shack partner Kevin Fitzgerald, Josh Toma’s Smack Shack started as a food truck zipping around Minneapolis, the first legal food truck in town. Founder Josh Thoma, six years later, has two Smack Shack: a 200-seater in Minneapolis which opened in 2013 and the Chicago location.


In June 2010 StarTribune story, Tim McKee’s partner in La Belle Vie, Solera, and Smalley’s Caribbean Barbeque, Josh Thoma, who more recently entered partnerships with the Barrio (with McKee) and La Grassa restaurants – stood accused of improperly transferring funds to the tune of $100,000 between Bar La Grassa and into two restaurants — Solera and Smalley’s Caribbean Barbeque — via La Belle Vie. Thoma’s partnership at Bar La Grassa is history, as he and his longtime business partner, Tim McKee, were no longer managing Barrio.  City Pages quoted Thoma, “It was just one of those things where I told the accountant to make it work.  To a degree, I didn’t know how much was going where and when, although ultimately I’m responsible.”  City Pages reported that Thoma and McKee repaid the funds by relinquishing their stake in Barrio, and Thoma’s equity in Bar La Grassa.

La Belle Vie, the last bastion of fine dining in Minnesota called it quits, on October 24, 2014. La Belle Vie chef/owner Tim McKee made the announcement that he was closing his restaurant, one day short of their tenth anniversary in Minneapolis. Before that La Belle Vie had been open for seven and a half years in Stillwater, Minnesota.


City people in Minnesota leave the city on summer weekends. Fourteen years after opening the doors to the original Heartland location on St. Clair Avenue, Lenny Russo announced in October that Heartland would be closing the doors in downtown St. Paul.

It is next to impossible to make money operating a restaurant on the profits of 9 months of the year. “If all of those people would have come in twice more a year,” said Tim McKee on the closing of La Belle Vie, “we’d still be open. It’s so important that if there’s a restaurant or business in your community that you feel is important, you’ve got to make it your mission to support them. Otherwise they will close.”


What is the state of the union of good restaurants? A cursory list of Tim McKee mentees, both at now-closed Solera and at La Belle Vie, would contain Sameh Wadi of the recently announced closed Saffron; Jack Riebel of the recently announced closed Il Foro, and Minneapolis’ most recent winner of the Food & Wine top ten chefs in America, Jim Christiansen of Heyday, which is actually open.


Keeping The Lexington’s name, renovating and giving the place a more casual atmosphere, with plans to renovate the structure and add a rooftop patio, these three Saint Paul-born big-time operators led by Josh Thoma and Kevin Fitzgerald of Smack Shack seem to be leaving Jack Riebel waiting. A news conference at The Lexington restaurant was where St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman introduced the trio of new owners, in November 2015. Speculation about the new owners ran high, until the names of the owners were released, followed by the theme of stagnation, just keeping a lady waiting.

October 15, 2016

The Apprentice

Frontline.

I watched their two-hour show on who these candidates are, since the broadcast media mostly has such difficulty in an even-handed presentation of the two candidates for the Office of the President of the United States.

NSA logo The senseless leaders – Clinton-Trump. Dirty Harry. American can-do heroism? A clash of patriots? Blood poison? When you do not capture so very many . . .  voters.  So out of our leaders, what is missing? As a place is changing before our eyes, what will happen to people who idolize the new heroes? Or to this Land? 

“How dare THEY question!” Did you notice all the arrogance in Campaign 2016? It is the Age of “how dare they question.” And it seems fair that the kids who grew up believing in this New Age creed — with the mantra of this generation “How dare they judge!” — got these two candidates. What better memory would anyone have of this campaign but “How dare THEY question!” perspective of each candidate.  With the kind of attention from press and public that would inflate the ego of a weaker human, where is from the opportunity to question any candidate these days for public office, the much needed direct response to any question?

As ‘attack ads’ have been replaced by just attack. No matter the ages of the two nominees from the majority parties for president of the United States, the candidates are playing to the egregious generation so wounded in what they have come to know about American History. There is a reason that the issues will never be discussed in this election.  For an American generation carrying the egregious scars of September 11, 2001 and the 2008 financial crisis, in the political Olympics of the have’s and the have-not’s, there is the mental agony that is attached to being a hero, in the public’s eye. Most people carry around at different levels the poison of color, gender, belief in the normalizing middle-class perspective that comes out of Rome, of Mecca, or out from the Orthodox Slavic world, above the Equator. Most people carry around at different levels the poison…. a poison in a local nationalism that comes out of the land, if that is all the land has given to you. That local nationalism is the foundation of the National Football League – who plays for us? So is Donald playing for the other team? Is Hillory playing for the other team, with the coming of age SPLIT, again , as if Gender is some kind of scientific choice?  What does gender matter?

With his great understanding about the world and all of the sciences, the “Make America Great Again” candidate wants to begin by attacking the world of Muslims, as the broadcast media sits asking ONLY their “how does it feel?” and“ how important is it?” questions.

Was there the missing interest in these candidates who do not FEEL because they do not KNOW real people? It is the “Lifestyles of the Rich and the Famous” campaign. Who needs to watch this long-running reality show, either with the 24 years with one or the 14 years of the other, as “The Apprentice” working their way to the Presidency?   You had to just know how to use the broadcast media.

Behold this mental agony of a someone who will firmly justify their actions in public while inwardly craving solid, objective proof that they have done their duty, civilly.  Or even if criminally hiding their professional government emails, or hiding the agony of justifying your need to go public, taking  down your share-holders, to avoid personal bankruptcy.  Behold the naked public lives, sacrificing all decency along the way, of both candidates.  As the egregious generation thought this – Campaign 2016 – was all normal?   

In America, just as anyone can be sued for anything. In America, with the blessed culture, anyone can run for President. Though “the inheritance” is not shared so well for an American generation carrying the burden of freedom, now more as a historic preservation task than out of any real joy.  With what might have been — how had either candidate even claimed a nomination — a discussion about freedom in the world?  Who do egregious people idolize, purely on what they see on commercialized television?  The issues will never be discussed,if they ever had been in that never-ending primary season?  In the political Olympics of the have’s and the have-not’s, is the motto about taking what is not yours to take, after failing to hold onto what you once had?  The Bill of Rights?  Spying?  If education is about being led somewhere, behold the next generation with the enormous debt, living in the Promise Land with the lost sense, of being free.  There is the lost sense of human touch, everywhere, perhaps due to the over-dependence on your cell phone.

Reflecting public education these days, represented by one candidate educated in public school, there is this piece in Commonweal magazine:

A conversation widened more broadly to discuss race and racism. This soon-to-graduate senior, after a moment of silence, nervously chuckled and said: “Hey Doc! Guess what? Not every student of color gives a damn about how they are seen from the normalizing white-middle-class perspective.” I flinched from a punch that I never saw coming, in another blind spot revealed.

The instant-replay generation. The preponderance of evidence, if this was only a civil trial, weighing the facts. Did you see the mistake on the replay that you might have missed the first time? For both of the candidate. On the old media called television like the old device called the Video Cassette Recorder, with still all the talking heads, these were the Re-runs.  For “The Apprentice.”

The “American can-do” heroes? Like a first-responder?  The underling theme from barking dogs which, in an urban kettle as a noise, could be annoying after 11 o’clock at night, signifying that there was no THERE there anyway.  I am still waiting to hear what was really inside, in the way of ideas.  As the media is only checking the polls first?

“Unhappy is the land that needs a hero,” mourns Galileo in the Bertold Brecht play.

Proving your greatness, in institution, privately, in the land that has mostly welcomed immigrants since the beginning. “Ready to make America great again!” One man? 

So all alone.

With all of the surveillance workers watching. The police shootings. On Youtube. “The only thing surveillance workers are protecting is the supremacy of the government, and a counter-terror is their excuse for surveillance?”

As more and more in this campaign, counter-terror if not heroism is grown here! I carry the scale with a concern for justice. There is the preponderance of doubt. My measure is “beyond a reasonable doubt,” over the egregious generation, taking over everything.

Is this a courageous ideal – medical insurance without limits, like governments without limits? With her espoused great concern for all children, never counting the cost to the average citizen, as the writer of National Health Insurance as a new tax which is an imposition on everyone that no one can afford, is this a courageous idealist? Will a nation ever get to hear a discussion about the new ideals, from the original author of Affordable Health Care Act that has yet to address the actual costs being billed by health care providers?

Police shootings, with this mental agony of Dirty Harry. Nerve-wracking flashbacks to all of these police shooting. Of police. By police. With impunity. Like “The Troubles” in the North of Ireland, which side do you believe?

The helpless. Instructed to just pay the premiums, as a brand new kind of American tax as just a regular part of this thing called “The Economy.” The elephant in the room is the blessed Economy. The work producing the sweat of human brow.  From out of an unblessed emptiness, treating humans as animals. Animal Farm, with the trained helpless animals.

Fiscal policy.  Monetary policy.  Debt!  The ever increasing debt, without anyone being asked to sacrifice, except to pay the sky-rocketing health care premiums, with the increasing strength of the dollar.  This is the same dollar that waned, invisibly, so much in the early years of the New Millennium with the war in Iraq and the war again in Afghanistan, with ever an increase in federal taxes.  Those wars so far away were the basis for the ongoing Monetary War centered on currencies.  With innocent nations all over the world paying more and more visible price. There are these candidates with a shared lost sense of touch. Or out of touch?  

There is a terror in money along with all the other things shared here: Language. Belief, both public and private. Law and law enforcement. With public policy directed over the off-the-books expenses of National Security? There is worry over sectarian violence in San Bernardino, over racial violence in Jefferson, Missouri.  And gender violence.  What would resolve the problems of verbal assaults, on behalf of all the suffering women, after all the uncovered sexual assaults? Legalized marijuana?  The “p___y” remark from his video past, sacrificing all decency along the way. I heard the same “p___y” remark 30 days ago while in the public skyway directed at a beautiful young African-American woman – as if, I believed, the young African-American man should have the social culture of what he viewed to be the white society. In public. To impose my values on the young African-American, who had descended not from slaves but the missing real culture in slavery.

“How dare they judge!” One self-made man. As inequality threatens stability, with all the shared concern for a nation’s safety, is it time to leave here? In the Book of Genesis, the people who descended from the perfect son – always found to be the Victim in the story – do not end up so perfect themselves. Perfect people have no need for God, to bless America.

So all alone, Hillory.  After all the joy over electing a black president, polls show that young women are not particularly moved by her solitary goal, in her promise to make history as a woman.  It might be time when a nation might concentrating again on electing a stateswoman or statesman?

The jury is still out on the question – So, revolution or restoration?  The counter-terror is in the candidates, plural, in a land that has these two-faced candidates, unqualified to unite the states for the next generation based upon their checkered past.  W. E. B. DuBois wrote in 1903: ‘It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness – a sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others – measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. One ever feels his two-ness.’

Missing. There is something missing in Clinton-Trump.  Mostly each of them seem to be missing a soul.  For me, Hillory’s loud voice is as empty as her opponent.  It is difficult to win over the hearts and minds of an electorate when you were missing a soul, running on anger. As the world looks on in amused contempt and pity. That this IS really a true story. Of two candidates running on anger.

NSA logo

July 23, 2016

The Warmth Of Other Suns

Filed under: European Union — baseball91 @ 6:30 PM
Tags: , , ,

As Chancellor Angela Merkel sought to reassure Germans that the state will keep them safe, she pledged all resources to get to the bottom of the rampage in Munich.

The chancellor spoke after police ruled out any terrorist motive. After the million refugees arrived last year, with the uncounted new ones still coming.

After being briefed. The chancellor spoke. But who briefed whom? Over the narrative?

LINK. https://baseball91.wordpress.com/2016/01/10/on-the-coverup-of-how-many-rapes-in-germany/

“We will find what exactly was behind this act,” Merkel told reporters … in the Chancellery in Berlin.

Did this sound a lot like Turkey, last week …or Cologne in the first few days of 2016? Or had Angela Merkel just borrowed a line from Donald Trump’s acceptance speech?

Brexit! Who wanted to be a part of this kind of political correctness? The media could not hide this public crime in Munich like what went unreported for 20 hours in my city this week. LINK: http://www.startribune.com/officers-pepper-sprayed-21-arrested-after-riot-breaks-out-in-st-paul/387850552/

Is there censorship all over the Western world because of the political sensitivity, of the influx of refugees? Because of the political sensitivity, of the matter of creed, comparable to the political sensitivity, on matters of race especially north of the Mason-Dixon line in the United State? As the victors keep re-writing history, on issues like the Confederate flag as if the Old South never existed? So the victors could ignore matters of race, like Angela Merkel would ignore matters of creed, in a nation with their invisible old goal to wipe out Judaism?

Belonging. Study the theology associated with The European Union, with European fear of outside Spirit. Brexit. Forced out. Like religion mostly has been in Europe for the past forty years. Brexit. The Leaving of this Europe without borders, with their rules to have sovereignty over you, from this desire for free movement, unconnected to any Spirit. On the Continent anyway. And you must accept your share of refugees.

In this conflict of public life with private lives, hear The Promise. “The state will keep you safe.” This is the Old German Promise, though how many sons and daughters of Turks had never yet been given citizenship in Germany? Would the next generation ever believe The Promise.

The Old German Promise would never happen again … here. And with so many newspapers bankrupt, if not just shut down, where could the young go to know? When the local paper did not have enough reporters to cover a story. And did this sound like what happened to religion in Europe over time? If the young even READ the paper, when this generation just like to hear?

In the mix of Identity – a sacrificed identity connected to this LAND – who really knows and believe …. the police? With our history changing? Like in Istanbul this morning? With this German history, how would Germans or the world ever be assured that the state will keep them safe … since the police are always connected to the politician in charge? And in a Europe without borders could you really believe either these day?

The Warmth of Other Suns is this open door policy toward immigrants combined with the then public accommodation, of criminals … given sanctuary. Outside the cathedral, in Cologne. So much like the Cuban boats in the 1990s? Or was it the 1980s? Who were leaving Cuba? And so few politicians seemed to know, as an investigator of sex crimes does, that most rapes are committed by serial rapists. Yes, the Mariel boatlift followed The Cuban Adjustment Act.

Refuge. Asylum is a selective enforcement of the law. That you might be like I am. With shelter. More and more, select groups are above the law, given sanctuary. The undocumented, on issues of shelter, homes and homeland. So who is above the law, like so many of the elected leaders live their lives. Concerning the question “Who is an American?” Or Who is a Berliner? When a foreign policy created so many problems. Or domestic policy had, when it came to Slavery.

Private. Secret. Hidden. Like a leader’s blood pressure. Over the police operations of the current decade all over the world. And the protest. Like Black Lives Matter. Staged fights, like in Turkey so a Erdogan could claim more powers … in an emergency, like happened in my own nation following September 11, 2001, though that event was NOT a staged fight. But your children grew up in the new atmosphere for more than the next 15 years, without ever wondering what would be the affect on candidates much less elections. Or the institutions.

Take-overs. The inter-state highway. You could not hide it from the press too long.  Like at what had first been announced at 3 am by Ansbach policein Bavaria as a”gas explosion” on July 24th, as a 27-year-old male Syrian national, identified by federal prosecutors as Mohammad D – in line with German privacy laws – set off a backpack laden with explosives outside a wine bar near the Ansbach Open Air Festival that injured fifteen, four seriously, authorities later said. Ah, the conflict of privacy and publicity, protecting the human rights of the dead. In the fourth attack to shake Germany — three carried out by recent migrants.  In seven days of mayhem in Bavaria, a team of 30 investigators was examining evidence collected from his home, as well as interviewing acquaintances of the 27-year-old Ansbach bomber who died in the attack. Mohammad D had been told on July 13 that he would be deported to Bulgaria where he had first submitted an asylum request. Investigators told reporters that a first expulsion notice had been issued to him on December 22, 2014, but with no indication for the reason he was still there. Mayor Carda Seidel said that Mohammad D had been turned away for lack of a ticket to the Ansbach open air festival. If he had a history of crime, the failure to name the bomber – Mohammad Delel – only protects a government from hearing from other ‘victims’ of his potential crimes.

Take-overs. Like at the two thousand three hundred forty institutions that Erdogan took over this week, with Parliament’s approval.

In the category of secret and hidden, using methods to secure data off license plates, over phone lines and computers, in the United States under the authority of secret courts, there are the cameras. The government’s cameras. The governments satellites. Until now, thank goodness, everyone had a camera to watch those in power using their cameras to keep themselves in power while eroding liberty. But police first had to ask the elected representatives about what Truth could be released? Like in 2016, in Germany.

Per the history of the last thirty years, after all the mergers and acquisitions with accountants left in charge, the technology revolution had mostly place inhumane people in charge … of corporations and churches and government, and, in the name of oversight, these not announced cameras. The hero to the next generation is Edward Snowden. As technology displaced humans from their jobs.

Called a traitor, there was the moment in 2013, under this Administration. A courageous young man, Edward Snowden, called a traitor by President Obama. With his secret oversight of the wired and now the wireless world. Under the watch of President Obama. With the real threat that a guy like Donald Trump would inherit such invisible powers.

Belonging? On what side of the divide? Is it your age, your power, your perspective to declare someone a heretic if you believed in nationalism as your religion – maybe because your age of innocence was spent in Indonesia? What have you helped maintain? Is your perspective formed out of this great separation when your mother’s family was Christian and your father’s Muslim? And you wanted to be a community-builder, because of living with such great hostility, domestically, overseas?

The branding of the next generation as a traitor, as your children grew up in the new atmosphere over the next 15 years, wondering what would be the affect on a candidate much less elections, over the concept of National identity by the high priests of Nationalism – now Obama, Trump, Clinton -determining who were traitors.

Sensitive. Insensitive selective enforcement of the law. Rebellions occur when inequality threatens stability. Repeatedly in Minnesota, the laws involving permits to protest have not been enforced under the current governor, at a cost in one week to the city of St Paul, in one week of an extra million dollars. Behold the publicity of the permitted and the not permitted. This weekend the same highway – Interstate 94 – is legally shutdown, after the weekend before when I-94 illegally was shutdown by Black Lives Matter. The LINK: http://www.mprnews.org/story/2016/07/22/i94-stpaul-shutdown-twin-cities-weekend-road-woes

‘Take-overs,’ of the inter-state cyber-highway. You could not hide it. Like the Congressman from Florida serving as the head of the Democratic National Committee. Among 19,000 internal Democratic Party emails released on July 22 by WikiLeaks, were some emails discussing how to discredit Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. Rather than look inward, about the status quo and now ousted chair of the national committee of the Democratic Party Debbie Wasserman Schultz – a congressman from Florida obligated under party rules to remain neutral in the presidential primaries – Clinton’s campaign manager Robby Mook was blaming the Russian government for the WikiLeaks leaks.

The European Union, with move-in and move-out rules, to brand who is in charge here. From the beginning, ‘you’ clearly are not. The EU, like my condominium Association, invisibly is. With the issue of the power of the community, on matters of ordering, there still is Communism, Fascism, and The Old Guard, led by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and all the old political hacks of artificial elitist projects and European bureaucracy, in Europe without borders.

Brexit. Determining who were traitors. Legally. As government becomes the rule of men and women – with celebrated media fame – rather than the Rule of Law. The fear belonging to a police officer is over a selective enforcement of the law, under the watch of leaders like the Minnesota governor, the St. Paul mayor, the mayor of Cologne, and these world leaders?

The great seduction. Europeans without borders. The constitutional history stolen. The mix of Identity. The refugees. The Patriot Act. The fear of outside Spirit.  Given clearance. Over secrets. Soldiers fighting for a union, like the local police, protecting and defending. Property. And borders.


Listen to the apologists, with all the apologies directed at the outside world, with the European Parliament and the European Union’s invisible goal to wipe out nationality, since the natives were not replicating enough to grow an economy. And did you pay attention to what the head of the police union said, with concern over anarchy, about Black Lives Matter.

The trade winds. In the Age of Climate Change, how had these systems become so weighted in favor of money? The euro. The currency. Visible and invisible. On land, there are the storms associated with the ocean. The strength that the economy of Germany added to the European Union.

The seen and the unseen. With fear and anger, there are the economic storms. Sustained trade winds?  Where could the victims, born into this, go to find the next leader? The homeless. The refugee. With all of the fear of living without a home, and without a homeland. The shared fear of living in the mix, without any defined borders.

About your own homeland, determining who are traitors . . . legally? This president who grew up as an ex-pat, preaching to the world this ‘Transparency.’ About markets. About free trade. In the world of nationalism, what is the equivalent of “Spiritual, not religious?” What had the constitutional law professor ever learned in Indonesia about the Constitution? In the world of nationalism, what is the equivalent practice of religion, for the “Spiritual, not religious” ex-pats? Had they ever heard of “Conscientious objectors?’ Or just the vapid living with the blasphemy of self-importance.

The Warmth of Other Suns.  .  . after being forced out, like religion mostly has been, what is moving in with the refugees except this little understood Spirit? The elephant in the room, given sanctuary, among a people with so little understanding of either.  Trust and balance are delicate things to maintain, if the human goal is about Reaching Acceptance. Over time. Building community at home, without borders, beware what your believe!  Beware who you believe.  And beware when you believe those that say that the state will keep you safe, since this is a promise of a coming war.
Corley's This_Side_of_Paradise

About your own homeland. The human goal is about Reaching Acceptance. Over time.
Beware what you believe! Beware when you believe those that say that the state will keep you safe, since this is a promise of a coming war.

February 3, 2016

Concerning Bulk Surveillance & Video Policing

Filed under: Law,Minnesota,Uncategorized — baseball91 @ 12:50 AM
Tags: , , , ,

Each American household seemed to have an ability to freeze time, with cameras and camcorders. And in a sense there has been a loss of spontaneity, a loss of freshness in the Information Age, if you have listened to the Grammy Award-nominated songs in the recent years.

batman

Bulk surveillance program. Time, frozen. In a sense, freezed time is what newspapers did each day, explaining what is in a series of events, near and far away, though news rooms these days are staffed by less than fifty percent the number of professionals that were there ten years ago.

Police investigations were the next to be cut back. In early 2016, police will begin asking local camera owners to join “a network” to provide ‘critical” video evidence, after the Rochester City Council on November 18, 2015 approved an annual $16,749 contract for the SecuroNet software program, according to the Rochester Post Bulletin. SecuroNet Founder Justin Williams and Accounts Director Gregory Boosalis were in Rochester the following day to demonstrate their software program which links access by Rochester Police to private businesses and residences with existing security cameras part of the bulk surveillance of their SecuroNet system.

In The SecuroNet system, when does a third party contractor become part of the public sector? Expected to go live early in 2016, who can view the collected video, logged as evidence and kept, according to Minnesota law, from public review? With a contract in place with SecuroNet Founder Justin Williams and accounts director Gregory Boosalis, the Rochester police department had some internal steps to take before SecuroNet system would be ready to accept participants, before police begin asking local camera owners to join the bulk surveillance network, Captain John Sherwin said.

Surveillance programs: As part of this new investigative response for Rochester, Founder Justin Williams mentioned The SecuroNet program is voluntary! Doesn’t this idea of selling cybersecurity sound suspiciously like a protection racket.

“With that existing camera infrastructure in place” – adding video policing to the standard procedure for the Rochester police – “it’s something that we want to tap into even more and we feel that this is the tool that can help us do that,” Captain John Sherwin said about the bulk surveillance program, according to the Rochester Post Bulletin.

With the software rights retained – like in the case of my computer, with the Internet Service Provider and the municipality that installed the broadband, and now SecuroNet Founder Justin Williams – who does the SecuroNet system video belong? With their hand in at least hyping and most likely launching the SecuroNet network, who do these cameras now belong?  Why is SecuroNet Founder getting an annual $16,749 contract out of the private cameras in the community? Are these more of the things that members of the public seldom think about, when 61 private sector security cameras become part of a public network? The Fifth Amendment provides the right not to self-incriminate, but what of the computer installations in the operation in the 2016 model vehicle? What of the private camera on my property, once a business volunteers to join the network tied to the SecuroNet founder as well as the public sector? Will I get prosecuted for something that happens on my own property that incriminates the owner of the camera/tape?

On matters of public policy, the Rochester police seem interested in reducing the number of jobs, like corporations cut back the jobs of real people, with dreams of a real-time crime center, in the coming age of drones.

“Video collected by police through the SecuroNet system would be logged as evidence and be, according to Minnesota law, kept from public review until the criminal case had been closed,” Captain John Sherwin of the Rochester Police Department told the Rochester newspaper about the impersonal and confidential video files. “Quite frankly, many of our cases are solved through video evidence, and … based on private sector video,” Captain John Sherwin of the Rochester Police Department told the Rochester newspaper.

Beware the security experts, capitalizing on the fears attached in a free society, with freedom of the press, free speech, and freedom of religion! The proprietary software is poised to collect annual fees, as the world gets less personal – in the coming age of, the less human age of, drones – and the intensity of hate will increase between police and civilians. As government infringes more and more upon my privacy, a strong partnership between the private sector and the police is the most efficient way to address this growing threat of the Bogey Man?

The foot that you shoot, in your private parking lot, might be your own. On the seamy side when the police solicit your video tapes, does it feel like extortion? You will be kept on an enemies’ list – the opposite of the Better Business Bureau? – if you refuse? Would SecuroNet be asking me to donate my hunting rifles to the police, next? And should you refuse, the police will respond more slowly to a break-in? PLACE can be one day either be used against you, or claim you, based upon current events, like what happened with the passage of law called The PATRIOT ACT. Wasn’t this software program from the private sector unnecessarily separating in the public arena, on some kind of litmus test for patriots, those leery of a police state from those old-fashioned vigilantes?

November 8, 2015

High School Principal Seeks Data on Cell Phones for National Sex Offender Registry

Filed under: Sex — baseball91 @ 8:24 PM
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IN THE LESSON OF “WHEN IT IS OKAY TO SPY ON THE PARENTS, IT CERTAINLY IS OKAY TO SPY ON THE KIDS” DEPARTMENT. AND VICE VERSA.  

Cañon City School District (Colorado) Superintendent George Welsh said “a large number” of high school football players were involved in an ‘alleged’ incident and caused the team to forfeit Saturday’s season finale. The alleged exchange of nude photographs between “a number” of students in the district was described in the singular.

“… The coaching staff and administration, after careful thought and consideration, decided that stepping on the field to play this weekend to represent the Cañon City community is just not an option,” the school superintendent stated. “Though we realize this decision will unfairly penalize many of our fine young men who clearly did not participate in these actions, we concluded it was impossible to safely field an entire team representative of the personal qualities and characteristics that truly represent the history of the Cañon City High School football program.”

www.canoncitydailyrecord.com/ci_29078308/canon-city-high-school-principal-students-hid-nude

 

Only an ‘alleged incident’ at this point in time, because the investigation is only in its early stages. The school superintendent declined to say how many students have been suspended or expelled as a result of the investigation to date. Additional students may face discipline, he said, because the investigation is still in its early stages. There were more pictures for the school staff to go through. To identify who was in the child porn, which did not seem like child porn to the kids, if you were a kid. And of course the school superintendent got the District Attorney involved.

District Attorney Thom LeDoux announced that possession of child pornography is a felony. But if he chooses to prosecute a child, he will take other elements into consideration. And of the National Sex Offender Registry, the district attorney said, “We certainly have no intentions of requiring a juvenile to register unless it is absolutely necessary.” So he is going to discriminate, based upon some kind of unstated guideline? And maybe coverup the names of the kids who came from families with political influence.

There are 16,400 people who live in this town, with possibly “several hundred victims” of this ‘incident’ per Cañon City Police Chief Paul Schultz said, as representation of the community in football was no longer an option, even for the fine young men of the town. With no mention of the fine young women./span>

“This is a major investigation,” the police chief said. “We are hoping that 30 days from now, we will have made significant headway in this investigation.”

Two phones so far have been confiscated, according to the high school principal.

“I can honestly tell you that we’re formulating lists, and we turn those over to the PD, and it’s all running through them,” said principal Brett Meuli. “We know there’s hundreds of photos. It was flooring to us on how many photos that we were finding on the phones that have been confiscated.”

Why the phones are being confiscated — on what probable cause under the U S Constitution, might be one day discussed in the American history class. Will students be required to register if they have phones? Will every phone call by a student in the school district be reviewed via the NSA records. Is that what the district attorney is working out with the local police chief, high school principal, middle school principal and with George Welsh, the school superintendent.

Meuli told a news conference — attended by Susan Payne, director of Safe 2 Tell for the Colorado General Attorney’s office — that he didn’t know if photos were taken at school. He also didn’t know how long nude photo sharing has been going on inside Cañon City. So every minute of life is of concern to this overlord of youth in Cañon City … or at least those who had cell phones and data plans. And where exactly is the jurisdiction of the principal — not the police — to be examining what is called child porn? And no one, not even a school principal is empowered to look at child porn, unless involved on the police side of investigation. This is like the Roman Catholic Church investigating their own allegations of sexual abuse. Yes, the vigilantes are alive and well in Colorado. And the principal should be charged as a sex offender, for not immediately turning over these phones to a credentialed police officer. After he saw the first picture that for him was child porn.

And if anyone in this Colorado town believed in the bill of rights like freedom of the press — the local newspaper was listing separate phone numbers for male students and female students to call to get on the Sex Offender Register, for life. Because “a person can be charged with a class 3 felony if they have taken a picture of themselves showing a naked private body part and sent it to another person, have received such a picture and forwarded it to another person, or have received such a picture and retained possession of it over time,” according to the news release.

The Denver Post has some further quotes, without anyone wondering why investigators would have or should have access to the cell phones which carried evidence of a possible felony. Who was paying for the cell phones? Why wasn’t this a family matter for a parent to address. How many do not wonder if this was not already a police state with the thinking in the quotes of those who hold authority on behalf of the county? District Attorney LeDoux said that if in the “best interest of the community” he would levy the felony charges against the young minors.

June 16, 2015

FBI Investigates Hacking by the St Louis Cardinals

Filed under: FBI,MLB — baseball91 @ 6:23 PM
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Judging by the numbers: “Have you ever wanted something so bad, you’d just about sell your soul?” That question is the basis of the musical coming to town called “ Damn Yankees.”

And so the Houston Astros under Jim Crane, the 59-year old native of St. Louis who moved to Houston in 1980 (at the age of 23), married in 1993 (at the age of 36), and divorced in 2015 (at the age of 58). In May 2011, his offer to purchase the Houston Astros was approved. 

During the original bidding process in 2009 before the owners of the Rangers filed for bankruptcy protection, Jim Crane had been rejected by MLB in his bid for the Texas Rangers.  Crane next joined the Mark Cuban’s group to bid again at a high-profile bankruptcy court auction of the Rangers, against an ownership group led by Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan. Crane was struck out — as he had been in a bid to buy the Chicago Cubs.

It is interesting that the new Houston Astros owner’s boyhood allegiance was to the Cardinals, in the state where Crane had played college baseball.  So Crane looked to St Louis for his general manager, in Jeff Luhnow.  Luhnow had had control of player development in St. Louis, implementing a database called “Redbird.”  An outsider,Jeff Luhrow developed his metric system for judging performance, because he had had no baseball experience. Luhnow had been brought in by the hedge fund manager who was the managing general partner of the Cardinals.

With an emphasis on bigger, stronger, faster, so came the computers. Computers had changed the personal side of baseball and, as much as programmed trading had changed Wall Street, were now changing baseball personnel. While some players tried steroids to get stronger, other organizations were taking a shot at programming their scouting departments and even player development, to see who was qualified to be a big league front office employee.

In December 2011, Jeff Luhnow was named general manager of the Houston Astros. He has been trying to reinvent the game of baseball based less on personal relationships and more on ruthless numbers. Jeff Luhnow allegedly has brought his dramatic technological overhaul of a baseball organization to Houston, with a 25-page plan detailing how his database would be “built from scratch” and tailored to the needs of the Houston Astros.  But would the Cardinals not have a “patented” interest over the proprietary creation which was developed while he was on the St. Louis payroll?

The Geek Squad. Was Houston’s “Ground Control” really the same database called “Redbird?”  And is this a really an FBI matter? It is of note that the FBI is investigating – not Major League Baseball – “hacking” by employee(s) of the St. Louis Cardinals. Jim Crane had been actively involved in politics with the Republican Party prior to 2002 (with contributions of $5,000 to the Republican National Committee, (RNC) in 2000, as well as to former Texas Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn) before contributing since then to the Democratic Party.  Crane likes to have access to and use power – if not information – per his golf weekend in Florida with President Obama, in February 2015. Speaking of hacking away — though Tiger Wood and the CEO with the lowest handicap of all Fortune 500 CEO were no hacks.

Luhnow with his analytical group of four full-time, “highly experienced” employees in September 2010 no longer were supervising the minor leagues, after he had been from 2004 through 2010.  He and his data were left to administer the scouting department for the major league draft, until Luhnow left for Houston. There had been a conflict of Luhnow with manager Tony LaRusso and his coaches. Over his proprietary information.

“Have you ever wanted something so bad, you’d just about sell your soul? – or the human face of the game of baseball? Some of these people in Houston, like in the steroid era of baseball, seemed bigger than the game, like the special assistant to General Manager Luhnow, Rogers Clemens. In that Jim Crane had neither the baseball people nor the the kind of political pull as the managing general partner of the St. Louis Cardinals, he elected to get the FBI to investigate at the public’s expense what well might be the private issues of patent law, when an employee switches allegiance?

And the 2011 article in the New York Times would leave a taste in your mouth that businesses that Mr Crane owned were not so squeaky clean themselves, in Houston …. where the baseball team under Jim Crane had been so bad, you did not even have to watch the games — if you worked as a member of Jeff Luhnow’s Geek Squad, called Ground Control. Their goal, as hedge funds managers, as free agents, as outsiders on the Geek Squad, was really only money.

SEE http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/18/sports/baseball/company-led-by-potential-astros-buyer-ran-afoul-of-law.html?_r=0

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