Sunday, April 12, 2009

Nato 60th summit in Strasbourg marred by street battles and arson

Nato 60th summit in Strasbourg marred by street battles and arson

Buildings were set on fire and running battles were fought between protesters and riot police in the streets of Strasbourg, where Barack Obama and world leaders have gathered for a Nato summit.

By Bruno Waterfield and Peter Allen

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Anti-Nato protests, Strasbourg

A violent anti-NATO protest takes place during NATO's 60th-anniversary summit. Anti-NATO activists set up a barricade with a Strasbourg road sign, near the German border at the Europe bridge, east of Strasbourg. Photo: AP

A masked anti-NATO protester throws stones next to a burning barricade at French riot police. Photo: REUTERS

Anti-NATO demonstration in Strasbourg

An injured protester is help by French emergency personnel after he collapsed during the demonstration. Photo: REUTERS

Anti-NATO protestors

Protestors smash the former border police station between Strasbourg and Kehl. Photo: REUTERS

Anti-NATO protesters

Anti-NATO protesters engaged in pitched battles with police in Strasbourg as the leaders of the 28-member alliance met for a summit celebrating its 60th anniversary. Photo: EPA

Strasbourg anti-NATO protests

A man walks his dog past a burning barricade in front of French riot police during the demonstration. Photo: REUTERS

Anarchists and demonstrators set fires at a hotel, a disused border post and a tourism office around Strasbourg's Pont de l'Europe, a bridge that joins France and Germany.

Police fired volleys of teargas to try to stop groups of violent French and German protesters joining forces to rampage across the city.

Masked youths threw petrol bombs, smashed windows and ransacked shops, forcing police to retreat until riot officers could regroup to seize back control.

Eyewitnesses saw black-clad protesters storm the nearby Ibis hotel, pilfering alcohol from its bar and setting the building ablaze.

"The hotel and the other buildings were completely engulfed in flames," said a resident of the city who witnessed the mayhem.

"The police had completely lost control and the firemen could not put out the flames. It was only when the police sent a squad which fired tear gas rounds that the blaze could be tackled."

As fires blazed, German police officers turned water cannon that they had been using to douse protesters onto the flames.

Many of the protesters - described as a "small army" by one police officer - were members of the sinister Black Bloc group, a notorious anarchist gang.

The violence followed a huge Franco-German police operation, costing 150 million euros (£132 million).

Hundreds of anti-Nato activists have been arrested in the past two days.

President Nicolas Sarkozy had instructed police that he did not want to see any signs of protest during events to mark Nato's 60th anniversary.

But the wives of world leaders, including Michelle Obama and Carla Bruni, were forced to cancel a visit to a cancer hospice because of the widespread rioting.

And, as Nato leaders departed on Saturday night plumes of smoke could be seen rising from many points across the city.

The Great Geithner Coverup

The Great Geithner Coverup

Economist William K. Black of the University of Missouri appeared in an interview on PBS last week with Bill Moyers. He pulls no punches in spelling out who is really responsible for our current economic disaster, and why our own Treasury Secretary is leading the charge to keep the truth covered up.

Federal Reserve tells banks to not reveal results of 'stress test'

Federal Reserve tells banks to not reveal results of 'stress test'

John Bryne

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19 of the nation's largest banks have been told by the U.S. Federal Reserve to keep quiet on the results of economic 'stress tests' that regulators are conducting to judge the banks' financial preparedness.

The Fed is trying to guarantee that the test's results (which determine if the government will assist banks with necessary capital) don’t leak during conference calls scheduled for later in April, when first quarter's earnings are usually announced. No such guarantee can be made, however, and if information on which banks didn't pass the test is leaked, stock prices could suffer accordingly. The Federal Reserve plans on releasing the results in a few weeks.

Paul Miller, an analyst with FBR Capital Markets, told Bloomberg reporters, "If you allow banks to talk about it, people are just going to assume that the ones that don’t comment about it failed."

Currently, the 19 largest U.S. banks have enough capital to be considered well capitalized. But in the event of a 'more adverse scenario,' as the Reserve's press release terms it, the government wants to ensure that the banks have enough capital to weather any long-term recession. For the past few months, federal bank supervisors have been conducting a capital assessment for each bank. The basis of the capital assessment is to "determine whether the institution has a sufficient capital buffer necessary to ensure each institution has the amount and quality of capital necessary to perform their vital role in the economy," according to the Reserve. The Capital Assistance Program will be the source of any needed capital for banks that don't pass their capital assessment.

A progress report on the Capital Assistance Program was received in the White House by President Obama yesterday. Geithner, Ben Bernanke, and Sheila Bair, Chairman of the FDIC, were all in attendance, along with the rest of Obama's economic team. The full Bloomberg article can be found here.

Virginia Fusion Center Releases “Homegrown Terrorism” Document

Virginia Fusion Center Releases “Homegrown Terrorism” Document

Spanning 39,598 square miles, Virginia has a population of almost 7.5 million residents. Roughly half of these residents are concentrated in the northern Virginia, central Virginia, and Hampton Roads regions. All three of these regions feature ethnically diverse populations with cultural ties to the Middle East, the horn of Africa, Southeast Asia, and other areas heavily impacted by terrorist activities.

Virginia’s network of colleges and universities also represent a potential avenue of entry for terrorist operatives and a possible forum for recruitment of sympathizers.

In addition to reviewing information directly reported to the VFC, surveys were sent to all Virginia local law enforcement agencies to determine the extent of terrorism activities throughout the state. Information of interest included not only event-specific data, but also suspicious traffic stops or activities consistent with pre-operational attack planning. Assessments of the overall threat posed by specific terror and extremist groups or movements were completed utilizing the Project SLEIPNIR: Revised Long Matrix for Criminal Extremism utilized by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

OVERVIEW OF TERRORIST AND EXTREMIST DATA IN VIRGINIA

INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM THREAT

Al-Qa’ida

Al-Shabaab

HAMAS

Hizballah

Jama’at al-Tabligh

Jama’at ul Fuqra

Lashkar-e Tayyiba

Muslim Brotherhood

DOMESTIC TERRORISM THREAT

Anarchist Extremists

Black Separatist Extremists

Homegrown Islamic Extremism

Lone Wolf Extremists

Militia Extremists

Special Interest Extremism

White Nationalist Extremism

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The purpose of the 2009 Terrorism Threat Assessment is to convey potential terrorism threats affecting the Commonwealth of Virginia. Terrorism, for the purpose of this report, is defined as politically motivated violence or threat of violence designed to coerce action or to prevent others from taking intended actions. While there is no intelligence that indicates terrorists are currently planning attacks in Virginia, the presence of extremists, evidence of trends linked to terrorism, and the abundance of potential targets, suggests that the potential for Virginia to be targeted remains significant.

As with previous years, the threat from terrorist and extremist groups can be categorized as international or domestic threats. Each of these groups holds particular values and political goals and thus represents a different type of threat to Virginia and the U.S. The international terrorism threat to Virginia and the nation as a whole stems from several radical Islamic militant groups. The domestic terrorist threat is comprised of a wide variety of groups, to include special interest groups, anarchists, race-based groups, including black separatists and white supremacists, militias and sovereign citizens, and homegrown extremists.

In Virginia, identified activities have been limited primarily to non-violent acts and crimes committed to raise funds to finance group activities. Some activities also relate to criminal endeavors generally used by extremists to further operational planning. The Virginia Fusion Center monitors international, national, and regional trends relating to terrorism and criminal extremism for indicators of emerging activity in the Commonwealth. Terrorism trends of greatest concern in 2009 include terrorism tradecraft, recruitment, and radicalization, terrorist use of technology, and terrorism financing.

As terrorists adapt and evolve to offset existing counterterrorism measures, they have successfully exploited available technology and modified their tactics to ensure successful operations. While several of the trends noted are applicable to all terrorist and extremist groups, increasing linkages are noted to specific critical infrastructure and key resources. As such, this product highlights, where possible, connections noted between groups, their behaviors, and potentially targeted infrastructure.

Based on the information gathered, the Commonwealth of Virginia could be potentially targeted for terrorist attack due to its location and proximity to Washington, D.C., its concentration of critical infrastructure, and the amount of extremist activity documented in Virginia. In order to detect and deter terrorist attacks, it is essential that information regarding suspected terrorists and suspicious activity in Virginia be closely monitored and reported in a timely manner. Additionally, it remains important to determine the extent of existing trends and to collect, analyze, and disseminate this information to law enforcement partners in Virginia.

OVERVIEW

The 2009 Terrorism Threat Assessment, in keeping with the Virginia Fusion Center (VFC) mission of integrating threat information from public and private sector agencies to prevent terrorist attacks, is designed to afford law enforcement, homeland security, and policy making officials terrorism threat intelligence of relevance to Virginia. Included in this assessment is an overview of identified groups, individuals, or activities; known or suspected trends; and critical infrastructure or key resources with significant U.S. or Virginia reporting within the past five years. While there is no intelligence that indicates terrorists are planning attacks in Virginia, the abundance of potential targets provides terrorists with many possibilities and opportunities throughout the Commonwealth. Information contained in this Threat Assessment is current as of February 2009 and will be

reviewed and updated on an annual basis.

In addressing the terrorism threat to Virginia, it is important to define terrorism and the scope of activities included. Terrorism can be defined as politically motivated violence or threat of violence designed to coerce others into actions they would not otherwise undertake or to refrain from actions they desired to take. Terrorism is generally directed against civilian targets and is intended to produce effects beyond immediate physical damage, to produce long-term psychological repercussions, especially fear, on a particular target audience. For the purposes of this Threat Assessment, terrorism is divided into two categories: international and domestic terrorism. International terrorism involves threats emanating primarily from the international jihad movement, foreign terrorist organizations, and state sponsors of terrorism. Domestic terrorism includes threats from special interest groups, white supremacists, black separatists, and anti-government groups. Terrorism trends included in this assessment are activities, such as recruitment, financing, training, and planning, conducted in furtherance of terrorism.

Terrorism remains a threat to Virginia, not only because of its proximity to the nation’s capitol, but also due to the volume of significant infrastructure. Such infrastructure includes military installations such as the Pentagon; two nuclear power plants; and a major East Coast seaport. Virginia is also home to a wide range of transportation sector targets of interest, including interstate highways with high-traffic bridges and tunnels; railways and subways; and aviation and port facilities. While other infrastructure sectors, such as water, energy, and information technology could be targeted, it is also possible that terrorist attention could be directed toward law enforcement at the local, state, and federal levels.

Spanning 39,598 square miles, Virginia has a population of almost 7.5 million residents. Roughly half of these residents are concentrated in the northern Virginia, central Virginia, and Hampton Roads regions. All three of these regions feature ethnically diverse populations with cultural ties to the Middle East, the horn of Africa, Southeast Asia, and other areas heavily impacted by terrorist activities. While the vast majority of these individuals are law-abiding, this ethnic diversity also affords terrorist operatives the opportunity to assimilate easily into society, without arousing suspicion. Virginia’s network of colleges and universities also represent a potential avenue of entry for terrorist operatives and a possible forum for recruitment of sympathizers. Additionally, Virginia’s correctional system remains an attractive venue for recruitment and radicalization relating to terror organizations and hate groups.

The VFC has compiled information from local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies, as well as open sources to create this Threat Assessment. In addition to reviewing information directly reported to the VFC, surveys were sent to all Virginia local law enforcement agencies to determine the extent of terrorism activities throughout the state. Information of interest included not only event-specific data, but also suspicious traffic stops or activities consistent with pre-operational attack planning. Assessments of the overall threat posed by specific terror and extremist groups or movements were completed utilizing the Project Sleipnir: Revised Long Matrix for Criminal Extremism utilized by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Although the primary objective of this report is to share valuable terrorism intelligence with public safety agencies in Virginia, a secondary goal is to highlight the types of data needed from local, state, and federal partners of the VFC. While every effort was made to ensure accurate, thorough reporting of the terrorist threat, it is expected that not every incident of possible terrorist activity will be reported or forwarded to the VFC.

Read entire PDF document

Inventing the Terrorist Threat

Inventing the Terrorist Threat

by David Swanson

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Virginia is for lovers, but there's a terrorist behind every dogwood. Or so you might gather from the "2009 Virginia Terrorism Threat Assessment" by the "Commonwealth of Virginia Department of State Police Virginia Fusion Center" which is part federal and therefore not Virginian and part private and therefore not commonwealth. The motto of the fusion center on the cover of the report reads "Scienta Est Potentia," but they forgot to add that a little bit of scienta can be dangerous.

The ACLU and Raw Story have been criticizing this report and others by other fusion centers for their tendency to advocate tossing out the Bill of Rights in order to spy on people associated with organizations whose names almost rhyme with those of other organizations once frequented by someone whose cousin had heard first-hand a story about a real live terrorist.

One of the most horrifying threats revealed in this latest report is that someone might hack into road signs as done in Austin:



I feel so terrorized already I'd almost be willing to let my government leave Iraq and Afghanistan. Oh, what the heck, all right, I agree: end the wars.

There are, of course, real predictors of terrorism in the world, like the occupation of people's countries, and predictable targets in Virginia, like the Pentagon. Sadly, energy that could go into improving foreign relations is going into profiling and spying on active citizens, the very people who might help improve the situation.

"While there is no intelligence that indicates terrorists are planning attacks in Virginia," the fusion center tells us, "the abundance of potential targets provides terrorists with many possibilities and opportunities throughout the Commonwealth." But …

"Spanning 39,598 square miles, Virginia has a population of almost 7.5 million residents. Roughly half of these residents are concentrated in the northern Virginia, central Virginia, and Hampton Roads regions. All three of these regions feature ethnically diverse populations with cultural ties to the Middle East, the horn of Africa, Southeast Asia, and other areas heavily impacted by terrorist activities. While the vast majority of these individuals are law-abiding, this ethnic diversity also affords terrorist operatives the opportunity to assimilate easily into society, without arousing suspicion."

The vast majority? Meaning 100 percent, since there is "no intelligence that indicates terrorists are planning attacks in Virginia"? When terrorists easily assimilated prior to 9-11 there were FBI reports about them that Washington DC wasn't able to assimilate, although its former director has assimilated well as hired attorney for Prince Bandar. But, wait! Guess where these proponents of Scienta see danger lurking next:

"Virginia’s network of colleges and universities also represent a potential avenue of entry for terrorist operatives and a possible forum for recruitment of sympathizers."
There being no evidence of any planned attacks, clearly young people must be being recruited to those nonexistent causes in those hotbeds of heresy where opinions deviate dangerously from the ones ordered by superior officers: colleges.

"A wide variety of terror or extremist groups have links to Division 1."
Extremist groups too? Guess we'd better spy on them. What if they started registering voters or something?

"Richmond’s history as the capital city of the Confederacy, combined with the city’s current demographic concentration of African-American residents, contributes to the continued presence of race-based extremist groups. This area is also the site of several community colleges and urban universities that attract a diverse range of domestic and international students and professors; two area universities are designated as Historically Black Colleges and Universities. While the majority of individuals associated with educational institutions do not engage in activities of interest to the VFC, it is important to note that University-based students groups are recognized as a radicalization node for almost every type of extremist group. A small number of Division 1 area college students also align themselves with anarchist or animal and/or environmental groups."
Not environmental groups! What if they should put up a solar panel or turn off a lamp? I'm s-c-a-r-e-d, officer, please protect me! And the "majority" of such people don't engage in activities that interest you? What about the minority who are not planning terrorism but do manage to interest you? Are some of them so extremist as to be BLACK?

"… Richmond is also home to several large commercial facilities, including a major NASCAR track."
In fact, I visited that track last year for a Sarah Palin rally, where I filmed these peculiar people, one of whom was dead set on putting bullets into a great many human beings, but he only had in mind Iraqis, so that wasn't terrorism. However, this decrepit dump of an arena for our bread and circuses did strike me as a prime target for terrorism, especially if every other nonresidential structure on earth had already been destroyed.

The Economic Crisis: No, this will not be a Normal Cyclical Recovery

The Economic Crisis: No, this will not be a Normal Cyclical Recovery

by Prof. John Kozy

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The Congress, at the behest of corporate lobbyists, wrote into legislation the rules that permitted companies to offshore jobs, reduce real wages, and permit risky financial practices. Therein lies the root cause of this crisis.



Philip Tetlock, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, spent two decades tracking 82,000 predictions made by 284 experts. His findings, reported in his book, “Expert Political Judgment,” are that, on average, the expert's predictions were only bit better than random guessing would have been. He writes, “It made virtually no difference whether participants had doctorates, whether they were economists, political scientists, journalists or historians, whether they had policy experience or access to classified information, or whether they had logged many or few years of experience.”

The only consistent attribute was fame, and the relationship was inverse. The more famous experts made worse predictions than the unknown forecasters did. Dean Baker

[http://www.prospect.org/csnc/blogs/beat_the_press] has often pointed out that the media, when reporting on a forecast made by a prominent economist, should (but never does) quality the prediction with a list of previous predictions made by the expert that were wrong. But economists, even when their predictions are right, have a way of basing their predictions on sheer nonsense.

For instance, Roger Altman [http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/3d89a930-220d-11de-8380-00144feabdc0.html?nclick_check=1] predicts that this will not be a normal cyclical recovery. Although it is likely that this is correct, his article is a mishmash of nonsense.

Altman writes that,

"we saw a housing and credit market collapse that caused enormous losses among households and banks. The result was a steep drop in discretionary consumer spending and a halt to lending. To see why recovery will be slow, we can look at the balance sheet damage. For households, net worth peaked in mid-2007 at $64,400bn (€47,750, £43,449bn) but fell to $51,500bn at the end of 2008, a swift 20 per cent fall. With average family income at $50,000, and falling in real terms since 2000, a 20 per cent drop in net worth is big – especially when household debt reached 130 per cent of income in 2008.

This debt derived from Americans spending more than their income, reflecting the positive wealth effect. Households felt wealthier, despite pressure on incomes, because home and financial asset values were rising. Now that wealth effect has reversed with a vengeance, the crisis and unemployment have frightened households into raising savings rates for the first time in years. They had been stagnant at 1-2 per cent of income but have surged to nearly 5 per cent. With reduced incomes, only cutting discretionary spending can produce higher savings. This explains why personal consumption expenditures fell at record rates at the end of 2008."

Where and when Altman and other economists acquired the ability to read the minds of people is unknown.

Sometime in the past, apparently, some charlatan sold the economic profession a boxcar bull of crystal balls. So instead of asking people why they spent more than they earned, these economists peer into a reflective glass and see only themselves.

Even my anecdotal experience contradicts Altman. Throughout the past decade, in conversations with fellow workers, neighbors, friends, and relatives, not one single time have I heard anyone boast about his/her increased feelings of wealth. They did, however, complain about the increased costs of essential products and services and the lowering of the real-dollar value of their incomes. They did not borrow because they felt wealthier; they borrowed to supplement their declining incomes in an inflationary economy. And bankers enabled them, encouraged them, to do it by offering easy loans with low payments without ever revealing the true costs of those loans. Consumers borrowed not because they felt wealthier, they borrowed because they needed the money. And when the Ponzi bankers' schemes brought down the economy, repaying the loans became impossible, job losses eliminated incomes, and consumer purchasing declined. Unless jobs are generated that provide sufficient income to regenerate a consuming economy, this will not be a normal cyclical recovery.

It, however, is not obvious that such jobs will materialize. Over the last quarter century, American business has moved myriad higher paying jobs to foreign countries which depend upon American consumers to purchase the products produced for the American companies that moved their manufacturing overseas. Even Obama says that these jobs are not coming back. The infrastructure to recreate these jobs no longer exists in America. The businesses that still provide such jobs are asking, in some cases requiring, workers to work for lower wages. The lost jobs and lowered wages mean lower consumption for the unforeseeable future. When the big three automobile companies reduce their workforces and pay lower wages, they are, in reality, reducing the market not only for automobiles but also for products and services of all kinds. So how can bankers be expected to increase lending? Who will the credit worthy borrowers be? Certainly not the people without jobs or with reduced incomes or with reduced credit scores because of recent defaults. Certainly not businesses with fewer sales and lower profits. The lending will not materialize no matter how the failing banks are recapitalized. Furthermore, the number of jobs that need to be created for a recovery is a multiple of the number lost if the wages paid by the new jobs is less than those paid by the lost jobs. So no, this will not be a normal cyclical recovery.

Some economists have begun to speak of another "jobless recovery." I can't even imagine what that could mean? About three quarters of the American economy was driven by consumption. Without a regeneration of the levels of consumption needed to drive this portion of the economy, nothing that can truly be called a recovery can happen. The way out of this crisis is not to recapitalize the banks, but rather to recapitalize consumers. Given the political ideologies active in the United States of America, I doubt that that will ever happen. After all, the business of America is business, not the welfare of its people.

Economists and politicians are blaming this crisis on faulty practices carried out by the financial industry. And no one has pointed how retirement investment plans such as 401Ks regularly pumped money into the stock market and contributed to the bubble. These practices may have precipitated the crisis, but given the assault on the wages of working class Americans and the shifting of higher-paying jobs to foreign countries, an economic collapse, sooner or later, was inevitable. Anyone who can perform simple arithmetical calculations should have known it.

When a nation consigns its people to working for meager wages, its prosperity is doomed. The Congress, at the behest of corporate lobbyists, wrote into legislation the rules that permitted companies to offshore jobs, reduce real wages, and permit risky financial practices. Therein lies the root cause of this crisis. People merely do what the law allows. Without a prosperous people, America cannot be a prosperous nation. So welcome America to the third-world.

Who is behind Moldova's Twitter Revolution?

Who is behind Moldova's Twitter Revolution?

by José Miguel Alonso Trabanco

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"A lot of what we [National Endowment for Democracy] do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA." -Allen Weinstein

It seems that those who anticipated the end of color revolutions have been proven wrong. So far, color revolutions have succeeded in Serbia, Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan. On the other hand, they have failed in Belarus, Uzbekistan and Myanmar. Their common denominator is a wave of protests and sometimes riots whose purpose is to overthrow a local government, often held during electoral times or shortly afterwards. It has not gone unnoticed that the so called color revolutions have been backed (and engineered?) by enthusiastic western supporters including NGO's, diplomats, businessmen, governmental institutions and heads of state. In those countries where such political mobilizations have prevailed, pro-Western leaders have been enthroned as a result thereof. If one pays close attention to a map, it is impossible not to wonder if it is simply a coincidence that color revolutions have erupted in countries close to Russian and Chinese borders. It has to be pointed out that no color revolution has ever occurred in any country whose government is staunchly pro-Western.

Today, it is indeed quite likely that events taking place in Moldova are none other than the evident signs of the latest color revolution. Only a few days ago, elections were held there and the official announcement of preliminary results of the electoral process showed that the Party of Communists of the Republic of Moldova (affiliated to the Party of the European Left) had received nearly 50% of the votes. The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) certified that Moldovan parliamentary elections were free and fair. Nevertheless, protests attended by tens of thousands started shortly afterwards. However, these demonstrations can hardly be described as peaceful since media reports confirm that organized violence has targeted government facilities, including the parliament building as well as a presidential office. The script bears some similarities with Ukraine's Orange Revolution, which started with large protests demanding new elections once opposition politicians were discontent with electoral results.

It is telling that protestors have been photographed waving the flags of both Romania and the European Union. They have also requested the ouster of Moldova's current government, denouncing it as a "totalitarian regime" and demanded parliamentary elections to be re-scheduled. So far, Moldovan law enforcement has been overwhelmed and is unable to control these riots even though it has resorted to tear gas and water cannons. Moldovan senior government officials have stated that they regard these episodes of civil unrest as unlawful and that they will act accordingly. Furthermore, the Romanian ambassador in Moldova has been declared persona non grata and visa requirements for Romanian nationals have been established. Also, pro-Moldovan protesters rallies have taken place in many cities throughout Romania. Although no color has been chosen to name this color revolution, these events have already been termed as the Twitter Revolution because on-site reports indicate that protest organizers have made extensive use of social-networking tools in order to fuel discontent.

To determine whether or not any event is geopolitically significant, the timing is an element which always needs to be taken into account. The post Soviet space is one of the most active arenas of great power strategic competition and there are some meaningful recent precedents such as:

· The fact that Ukraine and Georgia have not been accepted as NATO members in spite of intense diplomatic pressure by prominent NATO members.

· Unlike other post Soviet states, Moldova's government had declared that Chişinău would remain neutral and that it would thus refuse to side with great powers, which more or less resembles the position taken by fellow former Soviet Republic Turkmenistan whose foreign policy must meet criteria of strict neutrality.

· The Russo-Georgian war in which Moscow inflicted a military defeat on strongly pro-Western Georgia.

· The announcement by the Kyrgyz government that the Manas air base will be closed.

· The European Union launched its Eastern Partnership project, designed by Poland and Sweden to reach out to Ukraine, Belarus, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova and Armenia. This was seen in Moscow as an attempt to co-opt these countries and marginalize them away from Russian influence.

· Ukraine's decision to hold anticipated elections. It might be added that pro-Western Viktor Yuschchenko's candidacy does not look particularly promising.

The above demonstrates that the geopolitical rivalry between Russia and NATO has been intensifying. In fact, Russian senior politicians are already claiming that civil unrest in Moldova is been orchestrated by western intelligence survives. They have also emphasized that the ultimate goal is to accomplish regime change in Chişinău so NATO member Romania can swallow Moldova. It is no secret that hardline nationalists in Bucharest would like to achieve Anschluss with Moldova. Yet Western governments have refrained from voicing a strong support for the anti-government crowd in Moldova. However, it is necessary to explore what Western interests could consist of in this tiny post Soviet republic.

Why Moldova?

Moldova was one of the poorest and less developed republics of the Soviet Union, as well as the most densely populated. It is a landlocked country contiguous to Romania and Ukraine. Soviet planners had decided that Moldova would specialize in food production. Nevertheless, Moldova was not entirely homogeneous. The country's industrial infrastructure was built in Transnistria, a region mostly populated by people of Slavic ethnicity (i.e. Russians and Ukrainians). This region was responsible for a large of percentage of Moldova's GDP (40%) and it also contributed with almost the entire power generation of the Moldovan SSR. Toward the end of the Cold War, Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu had stated that the Kremlin had annexed Bessarabia (aka Moldova), which implied that he considered it as a part of Romania.

The disintegration of the Soviet Union changed little. The overall Moldovan economy is not specially outstanding since it exports wine, fruits and other beverages and food products. Moldova is a net importer of coal, oil and gas since if has no natural deposits of any of these resources. According to the CIA World Factbook, Moldova ranks 138th in a list of countries arranged by GDP.

Transnistria declared its independence from Moldova following the Soviet collapse because it was fearful of an increasingly nationalistic Moldova and the reemergence of pro-Romanian sentiment. This triggered a war between Chişinău and Transnistrian separatists. Russian forces were then deployed in order to end hostilities. The conflict has been frozen ever since. Nevertheless, the presence of Russian military personnel (which numbers nearly 3000) has allowed Transnistria to keep its de facto independence from Molvoda even though it still formally belongs to the latter. Indeed, Transnistria has its own authorities, military, law enforcement, currency, public services, flag, national anthem, constitution and coat of arms. Nearly half of Transnistrian exports are shipped to Russia.

Russia has supported Transnistria because it is inhabited by a considerable proportion of ethnic Russians loyal to Moscow; this must not be born in mind because people is Russia's scarcest resource. Furthermore, Transnistria is located in the easternmost region on Moldova and, more importantly, it borders Ukraine. Last but not least, Transnistria's small economy is based on heavy industry, textile production and power generation, which represents an additional atractive. As a result of Russian involvement, Chişinău has been careful not to be antagonistic toward Moscow.

Moldova's current president, Vladimir Voronin (the name can be misleading but he is, in fact, an ethnic Romanian), was elected in 2001 as the candidate of the Party of Communists of the Republic of Moldova. Regardless of his party's name, his administration can be described a pragmatic; for instance, he decided to continue privatization plans first put forward by his predecessor. Back in 2002, he angered nationalists by designating the Russian language as a second official language. Nevertheless, it would be a mistake to brand him as pro-Russian because his foreign policy has been seeking to balance Russian and Western interests without having to take sides. For example, his administration has expressed a desire to establish closer ties with the EU (which even runs a permanent mission in Chişinău) and cooperation with NATO and Russia, excluding membership in the Atlantic alliance or in the Russian-led CSTO. Furthermore, Voronin's government has stressed Moldova's need to preserve its independece instead of being absorbed by Romania. In short, he is neither pro-Russian (like Alexander Lukashenko) nor pro-Western (like Mikheil Saakashvili). Rather, his political position is closer to those of Ukraine's Kuchma, Georgia's Shevardnadze or even Turkmenistan's Niyazov and Berdymukhamedov.

Nonetheless, it is not far-fetched to assume that NATO in general and the US in particular are interested in regime change in Moldova. The main goal would be to overthrow the current Moldovan government and have it replaced by rulers more antagonistic toward Moscow. If such attempt succeeds, a new government in Moldova could be harangued into expelling Russian troops from Transnistria in an effort to rollback Russian military presence away from Eastern Europe, an effort meant to diminish Russian influence in the post Soviet space and to undermine Russia's prestige there and elsewhere. Moreover, it could be a Western reminder to Moscow that the slightest Russian distraction will be taken advantage of by NATO. A hypothetical pro-Western Moldova could even be later incorporated into NATO member Romania, moving the alliance borders eastward bypassing ordinary acceptance protocols for new members.

It remains to be seen if the Kremlin was caught by surprise and it is unclear how it will ultimately react to an eventual regime change in Chişinău, particularly if any new government attempts to take over Transnistria by force, much like Georgia did last year concerning South Ossetia. What is clear, however, is that Moscow does not want to be trapped into a conflict which could drain financial, military, diplomatic and political resources. Yet, Russian decision makers do not like what they are witnessing in Moldova; it is a script that had seen at play before. Therefore, it is reasonable to assert that Russia will resort to its intelligence assets it operates overseas in order to counter anti-Russian moves in Moldova before any deployment of troops is seriously considered. It is still too early to accurately foresee what defining developments will take place in Moldova and how they will unfold. If the current Moldovan government survives, the Twitter Revolution there could backfire. If that is indeed the case, Moldova's rulers could end up openly embracing Moscow as a result of real or alleged Western covert support for anti-government forces.

Russian accusations regarding the involvement of Western intelligence agencies has not been proved because all clandestine operations operate on the principle of plausible denial. Nonetheless, there are circumstantial facts which seem to demonstrate foreign intervention. For instance, some Western semi official institutions and NGO's openly acknowledged their activities in Moldova. For example:

· The USAID website concerning the agency's activities in Moldova mentions that some of them include "Moldova Citizen Participation Program", "Strengthening Democratic Political Activism in Moldova" and "Internet Access and Training Program". The latter is noteworthy because online social networks have been employed in order to increase anti-government activism. USAID's website specifies that "[its program] provides local communities with free access to the internet and to extensive training in all aspects of information technology". It goes on to explain that "Target groups include local government officials, journalists, students, local NGO representatives, professors and healthcare providers..."

Those examples are particularly revealing if one takes into consideration that those organizations were prominent participants in previous color revolutions. That is, both the players and the Modus Operandi remains largely unchanged. A notorious protagonist and organizer of the Twitter Revolution is journalist Natalia Morar who used to work as press secretary for "The Other Russia", a strange coalition of anti-Putin political groups which encompasses hardline nationalists, communists and pro-Western activists.

In short, bearing in mind all of the above, it looks like a new episode of geopolitical confrontation between Russia and the West is unfolding in Moldova. This battle is not over yet and whatever its outcome turns out to be, its strategic implications will be deep because they will send strong shockwaves throughout Eastern Europe and the post Soviet space. The stakes are certainly being raised in this new round of the Great Game. A few years ago, notorious neocon pundit Charles Krauthammer observed that "This [Ukraine's Orange Revolution] is about Russia first, democracy second". The same phrase applies to Moldova's Twitter Revolution.

Israeli Scholar Disputes Founding Myth

Israeli Scholar Disputes Founding Myth

By Morgan Strong

Go To Original

The founding narrative of the modern State of Israel was born from the words of Moses in the Old Testament, that God granted the land of Israel to the Jewish people and that it was to be theirs for all time.

Then, there was the story of the Diaspora – that after Jewish uprisings against the Romans in the First and Second centuries A.D., the Jews were exiled from the land of Israel and dispersed throughout the Western world. They often were isolated from European populations, suffered persecution, and ultimately were marked for extermination in the Nazi Holocaust.

Finally after centuries of praying for a return to Israel, the Jews achieved this goal by defeating the Arab armies in Palestine and establishing Israel in 1948. This narrative – spanning more than three millennia – is the singular, elemental and sustaining claim of the State of Israel as a Jewish nation.

But a new book by Israeli scholar Shlomo Sand challenges this narrative, claiming that – beyond the religious question of whether God really spoke to Moses – the Roman-era Diaspora did not happen at all or at least not as commonly understood.

In When and How Was the Jewish People Invented?, Dr. Sand, an expert on European history at the University of Tel Aviv, says the Diaspora was largely a myth – that the Jews were never exiled en masse from the Holy Land and that many European Jewish populations converted to the faith centuries later.

Thus, Sand argues, many of today’s Israelis who emigrated from Europe after World War II have little or no genealogical connection to the land. According to Sand’s historical analysis, they are descendents of European converts, principally from the Kingdom of the Khazars in eastern Russia, who embraced Judaism in the Eighth Century, A.D.

The descendants of the Khazars then were driven from their native lands by invasion and conquest and – through migration – created the Jewish populations of Eastern Europe, Sands writes. Similarly, he argues that the Jews of Spain came from the conversion of Berber tribes from northern Africa that later migrated into Europe.

The Zionist Narrative

Sand, himself a European Jew born in 1946 to Holocaust survivors in Austria, argues that until little more than a century ago, Jews thought of themselves as Jews because they shared a common religion, not because they possessed a direct lineage to the ancient tribes of Israel.

However, at the turn of the 20th Century, Sand asserts, Zionist Jews began assembling a national history to justify creation of a Jewish state by inventing the idea that Jews existed as a people separate from their religion and that they had primogeniture over the territory that had become known as Palestine.

The Zionists also invented the idea that Jews living in exile were obligated to return to the Promised Land, a concept that had been foreign to Judaism, Sand states.

Like almost everything in the Middle East, this new scholarship is fraught with powerful religious, historical and political implications. If Sand’s thesis is correct, it would suggest that many of the Palestinian Arabs have a far more substantial claim to the lands of Israel than do many European Jews who arrived there asserting a God-given claim.

Indeed, Sand theorizes that many Jews, who remained in Judea after Roman legions crushed the last uprising in 136 A.D., eventually converted to Christianity or Islam, meaning that the Palestinians who have been crowded into Gaza or concentrated in the West Bank might be direct descendants of Jews from the Roman era.

Despite the political implications of Sand’s book, it has not faced what might be expected: a withering assault from right-wing Israelis. The criticism has focused mostly on Sand’s credentials as an expert on European history, not ancient Middle Eastern history, a point that Sand readily acknowledges.

One critic, Israel Bartal, dean of humanities at the Hebrew University, attacked Sand’s credentials and called Sand’s thesis “baseless,” but disagreed mostly over Sand’s assertion that the Diaspora story was created as an intentional myth by Zionists seeking to fabricate a direct genealogical connection between many of the world’s Jews and Israel.

“Although the myth of an exile from the Jewish homeland (Palestine) does exist in popular Israeli culture, it is negligible in serious Jewish historical discussions,” Bartal wrote in the newspaper Haaretz. “Important groups in the Jewish national movement expressed reservations regarding this myth or denied it completely. …

"The kind of political intervention Sand is talking about, namely, a deliberate program designed to make Israelis forget the true biological origins of the Jews of Poland and Russia or a directive for the promotion of the story of the Jews' exile from their homeland is pure fantasy."

In other words, Bartal, like some other critics, is not so much disputing Sand’s historical claims about the Diaspora or the origins of Eastern European Jews, as he is contesting Sand’s notion that Zionists concocted a false history for a cynical political purpose.

But there can be no doubt that the story of the Diaspora has played a key role in the founding of Israel and that the appeal of this powerful narrative has helped the Jewish state generate sympathy around the world, especially in the United States.

"After being forcibly exiled from their land, the people remained faithful to it throughout their Dispersion and never ceased to pray and hope for their return to it and for the restoration in it of their political freedom," reads the preamble to the Israeli Declaration of Independence.

Reality from Mythology

In January 2009, as the Israeli army bombarded Palestinians in Gaza in retaliation for rockets fired into southern Israel, the world got an ugly glimpse of what can result when historical myths are allowed to drive wedges between people who otherwise might have a great deal in common.

After the conflict ended – with some 1,400 Palestinians dead, including many children and other non-combatants – the Israeli government investigated alleged war crimes by its army and heard testimony from Israeli troops that extremist Rabbis had proclaimed the invasion a holy war.

The troops said the Rabbis brought them booklets and articles declaring: “We are the Jewish people. We came to this land by a miracle. God brought us back to this land, and now we need to fight to expel the non-Jews who are interfering with our conquest of this holy land.”

In his book – and in an interview with Haaretz about his book – Sand challenged this core myth. In the interview, he said:

"I started looking in research studies about the exile from the land - a constitutive event in Jewish history, almost like the Holocaust. But to my astonishment I discovered that it has no literature. The reason is that no one exiled the people of the country.

“The Romans did not exile peoples and they could not have done so even if they had wanted to. They did not have trains and trucks to deport entire populations. That kind of logistics did not exist until the 20th Century. From this, in effect, the whole book was born: in the realization that Judaic society was not dispersed and was not exiled."

The True Descendants

Asked if he was saying that the true descendants of the inhabitants of the Kingdom of Judah are the Palestinians, Sand responded:

"No population remains pure over a period of thousands of years. But the chances that the Palestinians are descendants of the ancient Judaic people are much greater than the chances that you or I are its descendents.

“The first Zionists, up until the Arab Revolt [1936-1939], knew that there had been no exiling, and that the Palestinians were descended from the inhabitants of the land. They knew that farmers don't leave until they are expelled.

“Even Yitzhak Ben-Zvi, the second president of the State of Israel, wrote in 1929 that, 'the vast majority of the peasant farmers do not have their origins in the Arab conquerors, but rather, before then, in the Jewish farmers who were numerous and a majority in the building of the land.'"

Sand argues further that the Jewish people never existed as a “nation race” but were rather an ethnic mix of disparate peoples who adopted the Jewish religion over a great period of time. Sand dismisses the Zionist argument that the Jews were an isolated and seminal ethnic group that was targeted for dispersal by the Romans.

Although ruthless in putting down challenges to their rule, the Romans allowed subjects in their occupied territories a great many freedoms, including freedom to practice religion, freedom of speech, and freedom of assembly.

Thousands of Jews served in the Roman legions, and there was a sizable Jewish community in Rome itself. Three Jewish descendants of Herod the Great, the Jewish Emperor of Jerusalem, served in the Roman Senate.

Jewish dietary laws were respected under Roman law, as well as the right not to work on the Sabbath. Jewish slaves – 1,000 carried to Italy by Emperor Titus after crushing the first Jewish rebellion in 70 A.D. – were bought and set free by Jewish families already long settled into Roman society.

After the final Jewish rebellion, the Bar Kokhba revolt of 132-136 A.D., historians say the Romans placed restrictions on Jews entering Jerusalem, which caused other areas, such as Galilee in northern Palestine, to become centers of Jewish learning. But there is little or no evidence of a mass forced relocation.

Sand says the Diaspora was originally a Christian myth that depicted the event as divine punishment imposed on the Jews for having rejected the Christian gospel.

Genetic Evidence

There has been no serious rebuttal to Sand’s book, which has been a bestseller in Israel and Europe – and which is expected to be released in the United States within the year. But there were earlier genetic studies attempting to demonstrate an unbroken line of descent among Ashkenazi Jews in Europe from the Hebrew tribes of Israel.

In a genetic study published by the United States National Academy of Sciences, the Y chromosomes of Ashkenazi, Roman, North African, Kurdish, Near Eastern, Yemenite, and Ethiopian Jews were compared with 16 non-Jewish groups from similar geographic locations. It found that despite long-term residence in different countries and isolation from one another, most Jewish populations were not significantly different from one another at the genetic level.

Although the study also demonstrated that 20 percent of the Ashkenazim carry Eastern European gene markers consistent with the Khazars, the results seemed to show that the Ashkenazim were descended from a common Mid-Eastern population and suggested that most Jewish communities have remained relatively isolated from neighboring non-Jewish communities during and after the Diaspora.

However, a monumental genetic study entitled, “The Journey of Man,” undertaken in 2002 by Dr. Spencer Wells, a geneticist from Stanford University, demonstrated that virtually all Europeans males carry the same genetic markers found within the male population of the Middle East on the Y chromosomes.

That is simply because the migration of human beings began in Africa and coursed its way through the Middle East and onward, stretching over many thousands of years. In short, we are all pretty much the same.

Obsessive Delusion

Despite the lack of conclusive scientific or historical evidence, the Diaspora narrative proved to be a compelling story, much like the Biblical rendition of the Exodus from Egypt, which historians and archeologists also have questioned in recent years.

It is certainly true that all nations use myths and legend for sustenance; some tales are based on fact, others are convenient self-serving contrivances.

However, when myth and legend argue for excess, when they demand a racial, ethnic or religious purity to the exclusion of others – so that some prophecy can be fulfilled or some national goal achieved – reason and justice can give way to extremism and cruelty.

The motive for creating the state of Israel was to provide respite for the Jews of Europe after World War II, but that worthy cause has now been contorted into an obsessive delusion about an Israeli right to mistreat and persecute Palestinians.

When right-wing Israeli Rabbis speak of driving non-Jews out of the land that God supposedly gave to the Israelites and their descendants, these Rabbis may be speaking with full faith, but faith is by definition an unshakable belief in something that taken by itself cannot be proven.

This faith – or delusion – also is drawing in the rest of the world. The bloody war in Iraq is an appendage to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as is the dangerous rise of Islamic fundamentalism across the region.

There is also now the irony that modern Israel was established by Jews of European origin, many of whom may be ethnically unconnected to Palestine.

Another cruel aspect of this irony is that the descendants of the ancient Israelites may include many Palestinians, who are genetically indistinct from the Sephardic Jews who were, like the Palestinians, original and indigenous inhabitants of this ancient land.

Yasir Arafat told me quite often that the Israelis are really cousins of the Palestinians. He may have been wrong; they are more likely brothers and sisters.

Assistance Sought to Bury "Quackbusters"

Assistance Sought to Bury "Quackbusters" & Other Myopic Pro Pharma Fools on San Diego Union Tribunes Website

Go To Original

Please go to http://www3.signonsandiego.com/stories/2009/apr/10/1m10fakedoc224656-phony-doctor-accused-preying-vul/#comment-8084702 and study the posts there which follow a so called "news" article that attacks well known alternative practitioner Kurt Donsbach who was arrested last week in San Diego on a variety of trumped up charges. He is being charged with 11 felonies and faces up to 6 years in State Prison if convicted. It is alleged that his supplement manufacturing firm shipped contaminated Turmeric products to Europe.

Dr. Donsbach was arrested while operating his web based radio show. I maintain that this attack on him is nothing more than part of an ongoing witch hunt against the man thats been going on for decades.

You can see a couple of You Tubes about this great teacher and alternative practitioner here:

Everyone is presumed innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law, yet the San Diego Union Tribune has attempted to "tar and feather" Dr.Donsbach, and is urging the public to pile on via letters on their site.

I've been up there swinging an axe, cleaving off the heads of any pro Pharma varmints who dare stick their heads up and I urge you to join me.

Several of the people posting are most likely members or supports of the so called National Council Against Health Fraud.
You will find information about this bogus organization at www.quackpotwatch.org

While Kurt Donsbach is a colorful and controversial person, I also happen to know the man. I once worked for him at Hospital Santa Monica in Mexico before it was wrongly shut down by the Mexican authorities in 2007 following the death of Coretta Scott King, the wife of Martin Luther King who happened to die there.

It wasn't Donsbach's fault she died, he can't save everyone any more than any other cancer hospital can, and she was too far gone to have a chance. She was destroyed by chemotherapy and radiation before she even got to his clinic. I know from having worked there that the patients who had the best chance to survive were those who had never had radiation or chemotherapy because their immune systems were the most intact.

When you go to this site, you will see my posts as "Jham", and you will see various inept voicers unable to intelligently respond to any of my substantive points which they much prefer to ignore while engaging in nothing but empty ad hominem attacks.

Please only post information that buries the other side if you post on here, but please take the time to read the posts on the San Diego tribune website following their highly biased article against Dr.Donsbach.

I should add one last thing here- in America, a person is presumed innocent unless PROVEN guilty in a court of law. Dr. Donsbach deserves his day in court as much as any one else, but the San Diego Union Tribunte and the pro Pharma people posting here are out to bury this man, they're trying to tar and feather him along with the entire dietary supplement industry and all alternative medical practitioners.

On http://www3.signonsandiego.com/stories/2009/apr/10/1m10fakedoc224656-phony-doctor-accused-preying-vul/#comment-8084702 you will see that I have made many references to the Nemenhah band- of the Native American Church, calling attention to the fact that if Dr.
Donsbach had been a member in good standing, it would be much harder for the Feds to attack him now because he'd be largely outside their juridiction due to the protection afforded by the Supreme Court decision Gonzalez v O Centrowww.nemenhah.org

All of us should join it, especially anyone on the IAHF list who is an alternative practitioner. You'll see why when you read my posts at the SD Tribune website and spend time on the Nemenhah website.
See their resources section- scroll down to Points ot Law:http://www.nemenhah.org/internal/resources.html

Appreciate this effort to publicly show up the "quackbusters"? Your donations will assist me in lobbying in DC against the dangerous Food Safety Bills discussed in my recent previous alerts- see http://www.ymlp167.com/pubarchive.php?jham You can donate via Paypal at http://www.iahf.com/index1.html or via check or money order to IAHF 556 Boundary Bay Rd.
, Point Roberts WA 98281 USA
The life you save could be your own!!

http://youtube.com/hileryo

http://youtube/drkurtdonsbach

And you'll find his website here: http://www.donsbach.com/

Letter to Obama: Revive Lincoln's Monetary Policy

An Open Letter to President Obama: Revive Lincoln's Monetary Policy

by Ellen Brown

Go To Original

Dear President Obama:

The world was transfixed on that remarkable day in January when, to poetry, song, and dance, you gazed upon Abraham Lincoln’s likeness at the Lincoln Memorial and searched for wisdom to navigate these difficult times. Indeed, you have so many things in common with that venerable President that one might imagine you were his reincarnation in different dress. You are both thin and wiry, brilliant speakers, appearing on the national stage at pivotal times. Fertile imaginations could envision you coming back triumphantly as one of those slaves you freed, to prove once and for all the proposition that all men are created equal and can achieve great things if given a fighting chance. But as Wordsworth said, our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting; and if that is true, you may have forgotten a more subtle form of slavery from which Lincoln freed his countrymen, even if you were there at the time. You may have forgotten it because it has been omitted from the history books, leaving Americans ill-equipped to interpret the lessons of our own past. This letter is therefore meant to remind you.

We are now met on another battlefield of that same economic war that visited Lincoln and the Founding Fathers before him. President Obama, the fate of our economy and the nation itself may depend on how well you understand Lincoln’s monetary breakthrough, the most far-reaching “economic stimulus plan” ever implemented by a U.S. President. You can solve our economic crisis quickly and permanently, by implementing the same economic solution that allowed Lincoln to win the Civil War and thus save the Union from foreign economic masters.

Lincoln’s Monetary Breakthrough

The bankers had Lincoln’s government over a barrel, just as Wall Street has Congress in its vice-like grip today. The North needed money to fund a war, and the bankers were willing to lend it only under circumstances that amounted to extortion, involving staggering interest rates of 24 to 36 percent. Lincoln saw that this would bankrupt the North and asked a trusted colleague to research the matter and find a solution. In what may be the best piece of advice ever given to a sitting President, Colonel Dick Taylor of Illinois reported back that the Union had the power under the Constitution to solve its financing problem by printing its money as a sovereign government. Taylor said:

“Just get Congress to pass a bill authorizing the printing of full legal tender treasury notes . . . and pay your soldiers with them and go ahead and win your war with them also. If you make them full legal tender . . . they will have the full sanction of the government and be just as good as any money; as Congress is given that express right by the Constitution.”

The Greenbacks actually were just as good as the bankers’ banknotes. Both were created on a printing press, but the banknotes had the veneer of legitimacy because they were “backed” by gold. The catch was that this backing was based on “fractional reserves,” meaning the bankers held only a small fraction of the gold necessary to support all the loans represented by their banknotes. The “fractional reserve” ruse is still used today to create the impression that bankers are lending something other than mere debt created with accounting entries on their books.1

Lincoln took Col. Taylor’s advice and funded the war by printing paper notes backed by the credit of the government. These legal-tender U.S. Notes or “Greenbacks” represented receipts for labor and goods delivered to the United States. They were paid to soldiers and suppliers and were tradeable for goods and services of a value equivalent to their service to the community. The Greenbacks aided the Union not only in winning the war but in funding a period of unprecedented economic expansion. Lincoln’s government created the greatest industrial giant the world had yet seen. The steel industry was launched, a continental railroad system was created, a new era of farm machinery and cheap tools was promoted, free higher education was established, government support was provided to all branches of science, the Bureau of Mines was organized, and labor productivity was increased by 50 to 75 percent. The Greenback was not the only currency used to fund these achievements; but they could not have been accomplished without it, and they could not have been accomplished on money borrowed at the usurious rates the bankers were attempting to extort from the North.

Lincoln succeeded in restoring the government’s power to issue the national currency, but his revolutionary monetary policy was opposed by powerful forces. The threat to established interests was captured in an editorial of unknown authorship, said to have been published in The London Times in 1865:

If that mischievous financial policy which had its origin in the North American Republic during the late war in that country, should become indurated down to a fixture, then that Government will furnish its own money without cost. It will pay off its debts and be without debt. It will become prosperous beyond precedent in the history of the civilized governments of the world. The brains and wealth of all countries will go to North America. That government must be destroyed or it will destroy every monarchy on the globe.”

Lincoln was assassinated in 1865. According to historian W. Cleon Skousen:

“Right after the Civil War there was considerable talk about reviving Lincoln’s brief experiment with the Constitutional monetary system. Had not the European money-trust intervened, it would have no doubt become an established institution.”

The institution that became established instead was the Federal Reserve, a privately-owned central bank given the power in 1913 to print Federal Reserve Notes (or dollar bills) and lend them to the government. The government was submerged in a debt that has grown exponentially since, until it is now an unrepayable $11 trillion. For nearly a century, Lincoln’s statue at the Lincoln Memorial has gazed out pensively across the reflecting pool toward the Federal Reserve building, as if pondering what the bankers had wrought since his death and how to remedy it.

Building on a Successful Tradition

Lincoln did not invent government-issued paper money. Rather, he restored a brilliant innovation of the American colonists. According to Benjamin Franklin, it was the colonists’ home-grown paper “scrip” that was responsible for the remarkable abundance in the colonies at a time when England was suffering from the ravages of the Industrial Revolution. Like with Lincoln’s Greenbacks, this prosperity posed a threat to the control of the British Crown and the emerging network of private British banks, prompting the King to ban the colonists’ paper money and require the payment of taxes in gold. According to Franklin and several other historians of the period, it was these onerous demands by the Crown, and the corresponding collapse of the colonists’ paper money supply, that actually sparked the Revolutionary War.2

The colonists won the war but ultimately lost the money power to a private banking cartel, one that issued another form of paper money called “banknotes.” Today the bankers’ debt-based money has come to dominate most of the economies of the world; but there are a number of historical examples of the successful funding of economic development in other countries simply with government-issued credit. In Australia and New Zealand in the 1930s, the Depression conditions suffered elsewhere were avoided by drawing on a national credit card issued by publicly-owned central banks. The governments of the island states of Guernsey and Jersey created thriving economies that carried no federal debt, just by issuing their own debt-free public currencies. China has also funded impressive internal development through a system of state-owned banks.

Here in the United States, the state of North Dakota has a wholly state-owned bank that creates credit on its books just as private banks do. This credit is used to serve the needs of the community, and the interest on loans is returned to the government. Not coincidentally, North Dakota has a $1.2 billion budget surplus at a time when 46 of 50 states are insolvent, an impressive achievement for a state of isolated farmers battling challenging weather.3 The North Dakota prototype could be copied not only in every U.S. state but at the federal level.

The Perennial Inflation Question

The objection invariably raised to government-issued currency or credit is that it would create dangerous hyperinflation. However, in none of these models has that proven to be true. Price inflation results either when the supply of money goes up but the supply of goods doesn’t, or when speculators devalue currencies by massive short selling, as in those cases of Latin American hyperinflation when printing-press money was used to pay off foreign debt. When new money is used to produce new goods and services, price inflation does not result because supply and demand rise together. Prices did increase during the American Civil War, but this was attributed to the scarcity of goods common in wartime rather than to the Greenback itself. War produces weapons rather than consumer goods.

Today, with trillions of dollars being committed for bailouts and stimulus plans, another objection to Lincoln’s solution is likely to be, “The U.S. government is already printing its own money – and lots of it.” This, however, is a misconception. What the government prints are bonds – its I.O.U.s or debt. If the government did print dollars, instead of borrowing them from a privately-owned central bank that prints them, Uncle Sam would not have an eleven trillion dollar millstone hanging around his neck. As Thomas Edison astutely observed:

“If our nation can issue a dollar bond, it can issue a dollar bill. The element that makes the bond good, makes the bill good, also. The difference between the bond and the bill is that the bond lets money brokers collect twice the amount of the bond and an additional 20%, whereas the currency pays nobody but those who contribute directly in some useful way.
It is absurd to say that our country can issue $30 million in bonds and not $30 million in currency. Both are promises to pay, but one promise fattens the usurers and the other helps the people.”

A Wake-up Call

Henry Ford observed at about the same time:

“It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning.”

Today we the people are starting to understand our banking and monetary system, and we are shocked, dismayed, and furious at what we are discovering. The wizard behind the curtain turns out to be a small group of men pulling levers and dials, creating an illusory money scheme that, behind all the talk and bravado, is mere smoke and mirrors. These levers are controlled by a privately-owned, unaccountable central bank called the Federal Reserve, which has recently dispensed billions if not trillions in funds to its banker cronies, without revealing where these monies are going even under Congressional inquiry or in response to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. As Chris Powell pointed out recently in conjunction with an FOIA request brought by Bloomberg News, which the Fed declined to comply with:

“Any government that can disburse $2 trillion secretly, without any accountability, is not a democratic government. It is government of, by, and, for the bankers.”4

There was a time when private central bankers were the heavyweights in control, able to run their ultra-secret agenda with impunity; but that era is coming to an end. The bankers are scrambling, trying to patch up their crumbling creations with schemes, bailouts and sleight of hand. That effort, however, must ultimately prove futile. As investment adviser Rolfe Winkler said in a recent article:

“The great Ponzi scheme that is the Western World’s economy has grown so big there’s simply no ‘fixing’ it. Flushing more debt through the system would be like giving Madoff a few billion to tide him over. Or like adding another floor to the Tower of Babel. To what end? The collapse is already here. The question is: How much do we want it to hurt? Using the public’s purse to finance ‘confidence’ in a system that is already kaput may delay the Day of Reckoning, sure, but at the cost of multiplying our losses. Perhaps fantastically.”5

The bankers are on the run, feverishly trying to use the collapse of the current system to steer us toward an “Amero”-style North American currency, or a one-world private banking system and privately-issued global currency that they and only they control. We the people will not accept those solutions, however, no matter how bad things get. We demand real solutions that empower us, not further enslave us.

Abraham Lincoln had such a solution. President Obama, you can finally bring his monetary solution to fruition. Manifest the vision of Lincoln, Jefferson, Madison and Franklin, and we the people will make sure you are placed in the pantheon of our greatest leaders and are revered for all time. America’s greatest days can still be ahead of us; but for this to happen, we need to expose and root out the deceptive banking scheme that would enslave us to a future of debt and increasing homelessness in this great country our forefathers founded. The time has come for democracy to rise superior to a private banking cartel and take back the power to create money once again. Such a transformation would represent the most epochal and empowering shift that humanity has ever seen. As you recently said:

“This country has never responded to a crisis by sitting on the sidelines and hoping for the best. Throughout our history we have met every great challenge with bold action and big ideas.”

Your words are a timely reminder of our long legacy of action and bold solutions in the face of adversity. Can we do this? Yes we can.

For more information, see the writings of a variety of money reformers including David Korten, Richard Cook, Stephen Zarlenga, Michael Hudson and this author; articles collected at www.webofdebt.com/articles and www.GlobalResearch.ca; the documentary videos “The Money Masters” and “Money as Debt;” and proposed legislation by Congressman Dennis Kucinich to nationalize the Fed, and by Congressman Ron Paul to audit it (HR 1027).

Notes:

1. See Ellen Brown, “Borrowing from Peter to Pay Paul: The Wall Street Ponzi Scheme Called Fractional Reserve Banking,” www.webofdebt.com/articles (December 29, 2008).

2. Congressman Charles Binderup in a 1941 speech, “How America Created Its Own Money in 1750: How Benjamin Franklin Made New England Prosperous.” Binderup quotes historian John Twells on this point.

3. E. Brown, “Turning the Tables on Wall Street: North Dakota Shows Cash-starved States How They Can Create Their Own Credit,” www.webofdebt.com/articles (March 11, 2009).

4. Chris Powell, “Fed Refuses to Disclose Recipients of $2 Trillion,” GATA (December 12, 2008).

5. Rolfe Winkler, “More Debt Won’t Rescue the Great American Ponzi,” Option Armageddon (March 9, 2009).