Thursday, March 11, 2010

US-NATO versus Russia: Towards a Regional War in the Caucasus?

US-NATO versus Russia: Towards a Regional War in the Caucasus?

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Georgia is eager for another war, but there are other fires there which refuse to die -- Russia’s battles with terrorism and separatists and Azerbaijan’s bleeding wound in ethnic Armenian Nagorno Karabakh.

The Russian Federation republics of Chechnya, Dagestan, North Ossetia and Ingushetia have experienced a sharp increase in assassinations and terrorist bombings in the past few years which have reached into the heart of Russia itself, most spectacularly with the bombing of the Moscow-Leningrad express train in January that killed 26.

Last week police killed at least six suspected militants in Ingushetia. Dagestan has especially suffered in the past two years, notably with the assassination of its interior minister in last June and the police chief last month. The number of armed attacks more than doubled last year. In February, Russian President Dmitri Medvedev replaced Dagestan president Mukhu Aliyev with Magomedsalam Magomedov, whose father Magomedali led Dagestan from 1987-2006. Aliyev was genuinely popular, praised for his honesty and fight against corruption, but was seen as too soft on terror.

President Magomedov has vowed to put the violence-ridden region in order and pardon rebels who turn in weapons.”I have no illusion that it will be easy. Escalating terrorist activity in the North Caucasus, including in Dagestan, urges us to revise all our methods of fighting terror and extremism.” He vowed to attack unemployment, organised crime, clan rivalry and corruption.

Violence continues to plague Chechnya as well. Russian forces have fought two wars against separatists in Chechnya since 1994, leaving more than 100,000 dead and the region in ruins, inspiring terrorist attacks throughout the region. Five Russian soliders and as many rebels were killed there at the beginning of February. According to the Long War Journal, in February, Russia’s Federal Security Bureau (FSB) killed a key Al-Qaeda fighter based in Chechnya, Mokhmad Shabban, an Egyptian known as Saif Islam (Sword of Islam), the mastermind behind the 6 January suicide bombing that killed seven Russian policemen in Dagestan’s capital Makhachkala. He was wanted for attacks against infrastructure and Russian soldiers throughout Chechnya and neighbouring republics.

Since the early 1990s, militants such as Shabban have operated from camps in Georgia's Pansiki Gorge, and used the region as a safe haven to launch attack inside Chechnya and the greater Caucasus. The FSB said Shabban “masterminded acts of sabotage to blast railway tracks, transmission lines, and gas and oil pipelines at instructions by Georgian secret services."

This is impossible to prove, but Georgia was the only state to recognise the Republic of Ichkeria when Chechens unilaterally declared independence in 1991 and his widow Alla has a talk show on First Caucasus TV, a station located in Georgia and beamed into Chechnya. Interestingly, from 2002-2007, more than 200 US Special Forces troops were training Georgian troops in Pansiki, though neither the Americans nor the Georigans were able to end the attacks on Russia.

Medvedev said last month that violence in the North Caucasus remains Russia’s biggest domestic problem, arguing that it will only end once the acute poverty in the region and the corruption and lawlessness within the security organs themselves is addressed. He has undertaken an ambitious reform of security organs and the police throughout Russia with this in mind.

Sceptics may point to the parallel between the US-NATO occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq and Russian policy in the north Caucasus. Yes, there is a Russian geopolitical context, but the comparison is specious. These regions have been closely tied both economically and politically to Russia for two centuries, which Abkhazian President Sergei Bagpash shrewdly decided to celebrate last month in order to ensure Moscow’s support.

The patchwork quilt of nationalities of the Caucasus has survived under Russian sponsorship and now has the prospect of prospering if left in peace. Politicians like Bagpash make the best of the situation, as do sensible politicians throughout Russia's "near abroad". To alienate or try to subvert a powerful neighbour and potential friend as does Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili is plain bad politics.

The other Caucasian conflict is the long running tragedy of Nagorno Karabakh, which unlike the other conflicts pits two supposed NATO hopefuls against each other. The war occurred from 1988-94, dating from the dying days of the Soviet Union, when Armenia invaded Azerbaijan, carving out a corridor through the country to seize the mountain region populated for over a millennium largely by ethnic Armenians. A ceasefire was finally achieved leaving Armenia in possession of the enclave and a corridor, together consisting of almost 20 per cent of Azerbaijani territory. As many as 40,000 died, and 230,000 Armenians and a million Azeris were displaced.

A Russian-brokered ceasefire has been followed by intermittent peace talks mediated by the OSCE Minsk Group, co-chaired by the United States, France and Russia. But it is clear that Azerbaijan will not rest until its territory is returned. “If the Armenian occupier does not liberate our lands, the start of a great war in the south Caucasus is inevitable,” warned Azerbaijan Defence Minister Safar Abiyev in February. “Armenians must unconditionally withdraw from our lands. And only after that should cooperation and peace be established,” said Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev last week. Armenian and Azerbaijani forces are spread across a ceasefire line in and around Nagorno-Karabakh, often facing each other at close range, with shootings reported as common. Last week an Armenian soldier was killed.

Russia, culturally closer to Armenia, is resented by Azerbaijan as biased, and indeed there has been no commitment by any of the peacemakers or Armenia to return the territory. But the playing field changed dramatically after Georgia’s defeat in its war against Russia in 2008, setting in motion unforseen regional realignments throughout the region.

First was rapprochement between Turkey and Armenia, which at first set off alarm bells in Baku, relying as it does internationally on the support of Turkey, which closed its borders with Armenia in 1993 in response to the Armenian occupation. Turkey established diplomatic relations with Armenia last year in keeping with the Justice and Development Party’s “zero problems with neighbours”, but says ratification by parliament and a full border opening will not happen until Armenia makes some concessions to Azerbaijan.

Moscow has also been pursuing a charm offensive with neighbours in recent years, and was successful in getting both Azerbaijani and Armenian presidents to sign the Moscow Declaration in November 2008, though the warring sides subsequently have managed only to agree on procedural matters.

Key to all further developments throughout the region is the role of the US and NATO. Until recently, it looked like NATO would succeed in expanding into Ukraine and Georgia. It is also eager to have Azerbaijan and Armenia join. Not surprisingly, these moves are seen as hostile by Russia. If the unlikely happens, this would mean the US has important influence in all the conflicts in the Caucasus. But would pushing Armenia and Azerbaijan, two warring nations, into the fold help resolve their intractable differences?

Though both have sent a few troops to Afghanistan, the very idea of warring nations joining the military bloc is nonsense, and noises about it can only be interpreted as attempts to curry favour with the world's superpower. Azerbaijan has much-covetted Caspian Sea oil and gas, but Armenia is Christian and Azerbaijan Muslim, and Armenia has a strong US domestic lobby which will not go quietly into the night. Any move by Washington to meddle in the dispute without close coordination with Moscow is fraught with danger for all concerned -- except, of course, the US.

As an ally to both countries, and with important historical and cultural traditions, Russia remains the main actor in the search for a solution. Including Turkey in negotiations can only improve the chances of finding a regional solution which is acceptable to both sides. Such a solution requires demilitarising the conflict, hardly something NATO is expert at. As both countries improve their economies, and as long as ongoing tensions do not erupt into military conflict, they can -- must -- move towards a realistic resolution that takes the concerns of both sides into consideration.

Since 1991 a new Silk Road has been opened to the West, stretching as it did a millennium ago from Italy to China and taking in at least seventeen new political entities. All roads, in this case, lead to the Caucasus, and US-NATO interest in this vital crossroads should surprise no one. US control there -- and in the Central Asian“stans” -- would mean containing Russia and Iran, the dream for American strategists since WWII.

The three major wars of the past decade -- Yugoslavia (1999), Afghanistan (2001) and Iraq (2003) -- all lie on this Silk Road. The US and the North Atlantic Treaty Alliance had no business invading any of these countries and have no business in the region today. Rather it is Russia, Iran, Afghanistan, China, India, Turkey et al that must come together to promote their regional economic well being and security.

War breaking out in any one of the Caucasus disputes would be a tragedy for all concerned, for the West (at least in the long run) as much as for Russia or any of the participants. But the forces abetting war are not rational in any meaningful sense of the word. After all, it was perfectly "rational" in Robert Gates's mind to help finance and arm Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan in 1979. The planners in the Pentagon or NATO HQs argue "rationally" today that their current surge in Afghanistan will bring peace to the region.

And if it fails, at least the chaos is far away. Such thinking could lead them to try to unleash chaos in any of the smoldering and intractable disputes in the Caucasus out of spite or a la General Jack Ripper in Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 “Doctor Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb”, a film which unfortunately has lost none of its bite in the past four decades.

Anatomy of Conspiracy Theory

Anatomy of Conspiracy Theory

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Some may rationally ponder that how is it, that such a long running global conspiracy for world government as outlined in Project Humanbeingsfirst's report “The Enduring Capitalist Conspiracy for World Government”, can be kept alive across centuries and across geographies. This brief paper examines that question.

Noam Chomsky had once observed an insightful nature of such “conspiracies”, as the open shared natural goals stemming from the very nature of its definition, which could therefore, no more be termed a conspiracy than both GM and Ford endeavoring to maximize their profits at all cost be termed a 'global corporate conspiracy'.

I have always added to that, the equally un-remarkable observation that a hungry lion anywhere in the world pouncing upon a lamb is similarly no global conspiracy by the world's lions to eat up all the lambs on the planet. That is just the nature of the bestial predators when its “might defines right”. The higher cerebral concepts of “right”, “wrong”, “moral”, immoral”, etc., do not even exist among any primal predators, for these only behave according to their nature. Pious platitudes, if they could be argued by the lion or the snake for instance, would in fact only be disseminated to the lambs and the mice to make them an even easier morsel to acquire!

The only thing that occasionally deters such exercise of primacy is a collective natural response like the one observed in the “Battle at Kruger” park. Indeed, the quest for the holy grail of extracting voluntary servitude from the masses of mankind is the key idea of cultivating a willingly compliant public in order for the illuminated ones becoming their stewards for life. In Bertrand Russell's' timeless characterization, to extract voluntary servitude such that: “a revolt of the plebs will become as unthinkable as an organised insurrection of sheep against the practice of eating mutton.”

Thus we observe that from Plato to Nietzsche, from the philosopher-king to the 'ubermensch', all have argued the necessity of ruling upon the sheepish masses as the 'divine' imperative of the “enlightened ones”. Indeed, Zbigniew Brzezinski even sub-titled his seminal book “The Grand Chessboard” with its egotistical subtitle “American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives”, merely extending that idea of 'ubermensch' rule from the most “enlightened ones”, to the most powerful sole-superpower!

The same theme exists among the “Chosen Peoples”, to deem their primacy upon the goyem their inherent nature, their divine destiny. The 'ubermensch' are suckled these lessons in their mothers milk to acquire those imperatives across generations in perhaps the same way as the generations of corporate executives and CEOs who inherently know that they need to continually enhance the valuation of their company's stock performance in a capitalist system.

So, when these 'divine' ubermensch creatures who are beyond good and evil, behave in their primal predatory natural manner across time and space, across evolution or creation, are they being “conspiratorial”?

In the Chomsky-Ebrahim nomenclature, perhaps not.

In the Ron Paul nomenclature, it is merely a shared “Conspiracy of Ideas” in which “CFR exists, the Trilateral Commission exists”, and that, it is only “an ideological battle” wherein:

“some people believe in Globalism, and others of us believe in national sovereignty; and there is a move on toward a North American Union just like early on there was a move on for a European Union and it eventually ended up. ...

These are real things, it's not somebody made these up, it's not a conspiracy, they don't talk about it, and they might not admit about it, but there has been money spent on it ...

So it's not so much a secretive conspiracy, it's a contest between ideologies; whether we believe in our institutions here, our national sovereignty, our Constitution, or are we going to further move in the direction of international government, more UN. You know, this country goes to war under UN Resolutions. I don't like big government in Washington. So I don't like this trend towards international government ...

But it's not so much it's a sinister conspiracy, it's just knowledge is out there, if we look for it, you'll realize our national sovereignty is under threat!”

In the United States' legalese nomenclature, breaking of a “federal statute” by at least two or more persons working in collusion (and when caught), is defined as “criminal conspiracy” and “federal crime”. According to the Columbia Encyclopedia, it is criminal whether or not Congress imposed criminal sanctions on the activity itself. A conspiracy need only be proved by “circumstantial evidence” even “if it violates the rules against hearsay evidence”:

Conspiracy: “in law, agreement of two or more persons to commit a criminal or otherwise unlawful act. At common law, the crime of conspiracy was committed with the making of the agreement, but present-day statutes require an overt step by a conspirator to further the conspiracy. Other controversial aspects of conspiracy laws include the modification of the rules of evidence and the potential for a dragnet. A statement of a conspirator in furtherance of the conspiracy is admissible against all conspirators, even if the statement includes damaging references to another conspirator, and often even if it violates the rules against hearsay evidence. The conspiracy can be proved by circumstantial evidence. Any conspirator is guilty of any substantive crime committed by any other conspirator in furtherance of the enterprise. It is a federal crime to conspire to commit any activity prohibited by federal statute, whether or not Congress imposed criminal sanctions on the activity itself.”

According to such legalism, smart conspirators, if powerful enough, could affect the enaction of conducive federal statutes, or prevent the enaction of adverse ones, that would enable them to get away with many morally reprehensible systems and acts. The Federal Reserve System for instance, falls into this category. A legalized extortion racket to enslave the public in perpetual debt for the issue and supply of their own national currency. Similarly, bootlegging is a federal crime one decade, a respectable business the next! And internationally, it is the enaction of laws under WTO which defines what is criminal and what isn't – not the raping and harvesting of developing nations that goes on under its conspiratorial rubric!

Thus suffice it to say, the word “conspiracy” even has legal semantics, albeit rather limited. It is limited because it is easy to circumvent an abhorrence and call it legal when the king makes the laws.

But the multitudinous connotations of this word do not stop there. It also has a 'tin-hatted' or 'kookish' implication in furtherance of the devilish art of political science based state-craft. This was indeed implied by Congressman Ron Paul in his afore-quoted speech when he stated regarding the North American Union: “These are real things, it's not somebody made these up, it's not a conspiracy, ... So it's not so much a secretive conspiracy, ...”.

In fact, some of the best cloaking devices for clandestine covert-operations and hidden agendas have been invented by the most brilliant minds – here is one exposition for instance from Ezra Pound: “invent two lies and have the public keep arguing which one of them might be true”. Another is by Leo Strauss – the erudite teacher of the majority of the neo-cons – called “Noble Lies”. A third by the White House, often referred to as “plausible deniability”, okay may be it was invented by the DIA, the grand-daddy of all intelligence agencies. This thinly-veiled euphemism for deception to protect the leadership if things go badly in covert-operations became public knowledge during the Iran-Contra scandal, the televised coverage of which had gripped the American nation for months, including myself. And this wasn't just a rogue operation with ad hoc deniability cover by patriotic agents as most in the public are led to believe. Deniability is official government policy vis a vis any covert operation dating back to President Truman's signing of NSC 10/2. That directive made the introduction of “plausible deniability” a requirement for CIA’s clandestine operations in case they were ever blown while still active. Below is an excerpt from “Note on U.S. Covert Action Programs”:

'Management of Covert Actions in the Truman Presidency

The Truman administration’s concern over Soviet “psychological warfare” prompted the new National Security Council to authorize, in NSC 4-A of December 1947, the launching of peacetime covert action operations. NSC 4-A made the Director of Central Intelligence responsible for psychological warfare, establishing at the same time the principle that covert action was an exclusively Executive Branch function. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) certainly was a natural choice but it was assigned this function at least in part because the Agency controlled unvouchered funds, by which operations could be funded with minimal risk of exposure in Washington.1

ClA’s early use of its new covert action mandate dissatisfied officials at the Departments of State and Defense. The Department of State, believing this role too important to be left to the CIA alone and concerned that the military might create a new rival covert action office in the Pentagon, pressed to reopen the issue of where responsibility for covert action activities should reside. Consequently, on June 18, 1948, a new NSC directive, NSC 10/2, superseded NSC 4-A.

NSC 10/2 directed CIA to conduct “covert” rather than merely “psychological” operations, defining them as all activities “which are conducted or sponsored by this Government against hostile foreign states or groups or in support of friendly foreign states or groups but which are so planned and executed that any US Government responsibility for them is not evident to unauthorized persons and that if uncovered the US Government can plausibly disclaim any responsibility for them.”'

Lastly, we also have the “limited hangout” and “modified limited hangout” conspiracies to mislead the public in case “plausible deniability” for governmental wrong-doing doesn't work. This modus operandi of accepting partial mae culpa for something less consequential in order to mask the more egregious crimes was amply demonstrated by Richard Nixon during the waning years of his presidency. A good description of it with excerpts from the Nixon tapes planning the red herring is on Wikipedia.

It should now be self-evident that while still active, or while mileage is being extracted from a clandestine operation recently concluded, or some egregious wrong-doing, all references to it must be squashed or dismissed, inter alia, by labeling them as kookish “conspiracy theories”. And when blown, to have the cover story ready for “plausible deniability”, and/or some version of “limited hangout”. What are these if not real conspiracies to mask real clandestine covert-operations and wrong-doings?

Thus, if it is axiomatically asserted that there is no such thing as a real conspiracy theory, then that really works wonderfully in the interest of the cloak-makers because it makes one forget the perspectives of history.

And this complex Machiavellian deception game behind alleging 'kookishness' bears exposing fully: invent two or more lies, not just one, and keep the good hearted well meaning peoples in the “populist democracy” occupied debating which one of them might be true, for it would hardly matter what conclusions they reached. And wherever they ended up, to perhaps yank one of the lies from underneath them by conclusively showing it to be false thus conveniently demonstrating a baseless “conspiracy theory” in order to keep that notion alive in the public imagination. This consequently delegitimizes in the public mind serious researchers' efforts in uncovering any covert-operation while its secrecy is of paramount necessity. Afterwards, after faits accomplis, after statute of limitations expiring, it makes little difference if historians and con-fession artists make a pecuniary gain peddling what is inconsequential history to the newer evolving realpolitik du jour. The recognition of this self-evident truth of the matter and its utility to Machiavellian statecraft was boldly narrated even in the New York Times (Ron Suskind, Oct. 17, 2004):

'“That's not the way the world really works anymore,” he continued. “We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.” '

Cass R. Sunstein of Harvard Law School, the man who is today President Obama's Information Czar in the White House, in his 2008 paper titled “Conspiracy Theories”, called this process of the creation of diabolical red herrings, introducing “beneficial cognitive diversity” through “cognitive infiltration”. The paper has to be read in its entirety in order to be appreciated for its brazen and open appeal to Machiavelli.

So many complex semantics for the simple term “conspiracy theory” – it's not just mere nomenclature – that this overview of its usefulness to statecraft was necessary in order to situate anything with such a bombastic title as “The Capitalist Conspiracy”, in its proper social-political-legal-conspiratorial context.

And an equally insightful and rational response to this question of long enduring conspiracy for world domination, is added to the motivational mix by G. Edward Griffin in the video below:

“After a man has far more money than he possibly can spend for pleasures, what is left to excite him? For those with the ruling class mentality, the answer is power – raw power over other human beings. Money can buy such power only to a point, beyond that, politics is the sport, and world politics is the ultimate game.”

Thus, Griffin aptly noted: “The New World Order Is Not New”, but a common objective borne of natural inclination to primacy which apparently transcends time, space, geography and race. It naturally increases in its scope only in proportion to the vistas of power. And it becomes a moot point what name one might call this predatory behavior. Zbigniew Brzezinski even openly admitted to its pertinence in the very first sentence of his aforementioned book: “Hegemony is as old as mankind”. The undeniable fact remains that world-government has been a long historical passion of oligarchs! The quest for the hegemony of the entire world has been their natural enduring conspiracy for world government. And it is finally coming to its grand fruition in our own time as most useful idiots still mindlessly chatter on about “conspiracy theories”.

The Capitalist Conspiracy

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=6260646431723948415

Further Study References:

[1] http://print-humanbeingsfirst.blogspot.com/2008/09/capitalist-conspiracy-world-government.html

[2] http://print-humanbeingsfirst.blogspot.com/2008/10/monetary-reform-bibliography.html

[3] http://print-humanbeingsfirst.blogspot.com/2008/12/responseto-ft-gideon-rachman-worldgov.html

[4] http://print-humanbeingsfirst.blogspot.com/2009/04/some-dare-call-it-conspiracy-garyallen.html

[5] http://print-humanbeingsfirst.blogspot.com/2009/12/brilliant-world-order-bedtime-story.html

[6] http://fas.org/sgp/advisory/state/covert.html

[7] http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1084585

First Iceland, then the World

First Iceland, then the World

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The public is angry. Why should the public pay for the bankers mistakes.

Who cleans up the mess when ignorant, greedy bankers rack up massive debt then go broke? The people of Iceland made a strong statement Saturday. The sins of big bankers and government regulators shouldn't fall on the citizens. By a 93% to 2% margin, they voted down a proposal requiring them to cover bad debt incurred by one of the nation’s oldest and largest banks. Covering the debt would have cost Iceland's 317,000 citizens around $17,000 each.

Iceland's national referendum was the first opportunity for the people of any nation to vote directly on who pays when the financial elite fail.

As citizens voted, Iceland's Prime Minister was dismissing the importance of the vote and promising to negotiate a payment scheme obligating citizen subsidies for bad debt created by Iceland's beyond-bad bankers.


Icelanders are struggling with a collapsed economy. Businesses are failing at a startling rate, unemployment is soaring, and the prospects for the future are simply not there. Yet the British and Dutch governments demand that their swindled citizens receive compensation from beleaguered Icelanders. Where were the British and Dutch central banks and politicians while their citizens were being fleeced? Aren't the rulers of these countries aware that the failed Icelandic bank was owned by wealth investors, not the citizens?

Iceland's size and the very dire circumstances offer a focused preview for citizens around the world. The banks make bad deal after bad deal. When they're about to fail, the government steps in with a taxpayer bailout. It doesn't matter which faction of the narrow political spectrum is in charge. The message is starkly clear -- when the banks fail, you pay. The solution is presented to citizens as a fait accompli, a mandatory submission to indefinite financial slavery for the benefit of the failed financial elite. The will of the people doesn't matter even when there's a direct vote.

The failed financial enterprises that control global commerce are opening their new show on the road in Iceland. Greek citizens are next in line for indentured servitude, thanks to their lying leaders and Wall Street's Goldman Sachs.

Citizens in the United States remain overwhelmingly opposed to bailouts for Wall Street and big banks. Like Iceland's Prime Minister, members of Congress and the president don’t care. Big banks have now received at least $12 trillion in credit and cash from the US Treasury and Federal Reserve Bank. The 17 million citizens out of work, their families, and the eight million forced to work reduced hours are barely mentioned and get just a pittance compared to the ultra wealthy bankers.

How did the financial elite and their political minions do it in Iceland? The lesson is instructive.

Tiny Iceland's Bankers Fool British and Dutch Regulators

Iceland's second largest bank wanted some new customers. In 2006, the bank created the Icesave banking service. For the British market, Icesave pushed high fixed interest rates and easy access to online banking. The Netherlands sales pitch was based on banking transparency, seeing how the bank functioned online, with a 5% interest rate on deposits.

British regulators voiced no major problem with Icesave's policies until the bank collapsed in October 2008. The Netherlands central bank (just now in a liquidity crisis) gave its stamp of approval to Icesave even though there were substantial warning signs that the bank was in trouble.

By the time Icesave was insolvent, its 300,000 British depositors and over 100,000 in the Netherlands saw their money vanish. The finger pointing began. The Dutch central bank claimed Iceland's regulators lied to them. British regulators were shocked at the disarray of Iceland's banking system.

Dutch and British regulators failed to mention that they'd outsourced regulation for their citizens to tiny Iceland's central bank. These financially savvy nations couldn't be bothered with their own people until the Icesave scheme did its damage.

Dutch and British political leaders somehow forgot to mention that Sweden and Norway insured the deposits of their citizens when another Icelandic bank failed in those countries.

Icelanders Stuck with the Bill

Icesave's failed business tactics, negligent regulation by Iceland's government, and indifferent British and Dutch authorities created the problem. But citizens are taking the fall.

The usual suspect, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), offered up billions in cash in return for covering the lost deposits for British and Dutch citizens. IMF backed off of this position as it became clear that Icelanders would reject the March 6 referendum. (Image)

Ultimately, the financial machinations by international bankers and G-20 leaders don't matter. The people of Iceland are in no position to pay the bill. Pretending otherwise only prolongs the charade of some order for the comatose global financial system. Who benefits? The financial elite who continue to accumulate more and more money as though it's actually worth something.

Furious Citizens - Bloggers Won't Give Up

Icelanders take their voting seriously. Turnout is usually above 80%. But the turnout for this referendum was 57%, the lowest figure in years.

The very good news is that Icelanders are providing real analysis and hitting the streets on a regular basis to protest the big con pulled by their leaders and financial elite. This is a sample of the vibrant dialog of the people who choose to fight back.

Independent Icelandic News - The Icesave Fraud Case

"The public was deliberately lied to and the deception was complete. The banks fell, the Brits and Dutch, and Germans too are pissed off and we Icelanders have to loose our savings, our homes, our jobs, our dignity. We also have to pay for the Germans, the Dutch and the Brits.

"We are only starting to 'feel the cold dead hand of the neoconservatist financial free market monster' that tore through the world and is still squeezing the Icelandic nation, even after its death. We don’t get a recession, we get a complete collapse." June 23, 2009

Economic Disaster Area - Arrogant, Humiliating, Short Sighted, and Stupid

"Right now the nation is numb. Everyone is waiting for something while trying to stay afloat. Businesses and individuals who have been watching their cash fly out the window atop exorbitant interest rates for years are experiencing a drowning feeling. It seems like many are just shutting their eyes and resigning their fate to fate itself while still waiting for rescue to appear somewhere on the horizon.

"Most people agree that something must be done. They just cannot agree on what exactly." @ Dadi, May 24 (Image)

The Iceland Weather Report - Johanna (Iceland's Prime Minister) sends a clear message

"As if the government wasn’t in enough trouble with public opinion here at home, Prime Minister Johanna Sigurðardóttir has publicly announced that she plans to shun the referendum tomorrow.

'To me it is pointless and I find it is very sad that the first referendum since the founding of the republic revolves around legislation that is already obsolete. Consequently I see no point in taking part in this referendum,' (said Iceland's Prime Minister). alda March 5, 2010

Iceland Banking Crisis News and More

"According to numbers, 1.5 % percent have said yes to the agreement to pay Icesave, but 93.6 say not to that. But this does not change anything. The Prime minister and finance minister say that there is a new deal on the table. Iceland's President says that a Referendum makes the democracy stronger. The outcome of the referendum does not have any affect on the government in Iceland." Halldor Sigurdsson, Mar 7

Economic Disaster Area - National Referendum - A Sad Day for Democracy in Iceland

"Tomorrow is the first national referendum Icelandic citizens have been allowed to participate in by the political elite since the conception of the republic in 1944. By all measures, this should be a happy day for democracy in Iceland.

"But instead it is not a cause for celebration but a large milestone in the farcical power play which has taken place between the four largest political movements in Iceland since 1944.

"Yes, a farce.’Isn‘t that what this whole thing really is', asked a Dutch journalist yesterday after surveying the scene? It is a sad day.' March 5 @ Dadi

Arresting Taliban To Cover America’s Ass

Arresting Taliban To Cover America’s Ass

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The multitude of theories on the reasons for the arrests are divided between cooperation and confrontation theories, either it is explained by mutual interests or by rivalries. In my opinion, it is both.

Researchers and analysts are banging their heads against many walls, searching for meaning in reports of multiple arrests of Taliban, by the Pakistani government. Speculation is running rampant, that Pakistan has finally “seen the light,” that it represents a “split” within the Taliban, or that Pakistan has arrested Taliban who have been negotiating with Brits or Americans. In my opinion, the arrests began as a clean-up operation to remove links to the intelligence being revealed in British courts, but it turned into a tit-for-tat series of paybacks between the ISI and the CIA.

The true meaning of the arrests can be ascertained from the timing of the events. It may have been primarily an American/Pakistani operation to isolate Taliban leaders who had either negotiated with the British, or had been held at Guantanamo. British courts had taken up the case of Binyam Mohamed and American officials publicly stated that disclosing classified information about US abuse of this detainee would damage intelligence cooperation between the agencies of the two nations.

The first arrest, of Taliban number two, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, was on, or about Feb. 7. Multiple news reports have tied Baradar to ongoing negotiations to identify and isolate “reconcilable” Taliban. These attempts at negotiating have all come from the British or Afghan sides, with the US supposedly prepared to take advantage of any breakthroughs.

On February 10, 2010:

A British court has ordered the government to disclose classified information about the treatment of a former Guantanamo Bay…It was released after judges at an appeals court on Wednesday rejected the UK government’s claim that disclosing the information would damage intelligence co-operation with US agencies.”

In the days that followed, the western media was abuzz with more reports that Pakistan had made multiple “arrests” of the Taliban’s leadership. It is impossible to know how many of these names obtained from the Western media are correct, but some of them had also been tied to the British negotiations, while at least two of them were former inmates of Guantanamo.

Mullah Abdul Raouf. GUANTANAMO Taliban military chief for northern Afghanistan

Mullah Abdul Qayoum Zakir GUANTANAMO around 2006, then transferred to Afghanistan government custody in late 2007, eventually released around May 2008. American officials won’t say why he was let go and have not released a photograph of him.

Mullah Abdul Salam is unidentifiable, at this point, whether he is the governor of Kunduz, or the former Taliban who was involved with British diplomat Michael Semple and EU diplomat Mervyn Patterson, or still other candidates, such as former inmate of Guantanamo Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, or Mullah Abdul Salaam Rocketi.

Mullah Muhammad Hassan

Mullah Muhammad Younis. who is also known as Akhunzada Popalzai

Mullah Ahmed Jan Akhunzada (could be Akhunzada Popalzai)

Maulavi Abdul Kabir, aka Mullah Abdul Kahir Osmani

Mohtasim Agha Jan, son-in-law of Mullah Omer

Do the arrests mean that Pakistan has embraced the American mission in the war on terror?

The following timetable relates the arrests to the rest of the unfolding understory.

1/28- London conference

2/2-4- India/Iran development conference, topic opening Afghan route

2/8- Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar

2/13- Operation Moshtarak offensive begins

2/17- Mullah Abdul Salam

2/18- Car-bomb targeting Mangal Bagh mosque, blamed on Berelvi “Ansar al-Islam”

2/18- Mohammed Haqqani killed in Predator attack

2/20- Two Sipah e-Sahaba militants killed Faisalbad

2/20- Pak Army adds 26 posts to border, Balochistan

2/23- Rigi arrested

2/23- Pak announces new naval base near Gwadar

2/24- Qari Zafar killed Predator

2/25- India/Pakistan talks

2/26- Kabul bomb targets Indian doctors

2/26- Khalid Khwaja petitions Lahore High Court to block deportation of Taliban.

2/27- Intra-Sunni battles Faisalbad (revival of Sipah e-Sahaba attacks on Berelvi)

2/27- Hafiz Saeed, “India will have to fight if it will not talk.” Silence on Taliban arrests

If you look at the timetable to understand whether or Pakistan and the US are on the same page you see some clear evidence of a joint US/Pakistan mission to eliminate the Taliban leadership, but more than that, you see specific acts of resistance on Pakistan’s part.

There is one inescapable reality–the Pakistani Army will never truly turn on the Taliban, who represent their last line of defense, as well as their first option, in any contest with India. The historical relationship between the military and the militants has been one where the government has used sectarian terror groups (and even created them) to keep the tribes, sects and political groups in line. Keep these things in mind, as you consider the events.

In addition to the arrests, the timetable details American predator strikes which have eliminated some of the Army’s protected militants, in particular, Mohammed Haqqani and Qari Zafar. In between those two American assassinations, you have the arrest of American asset against Iran, Abdolmalek Rigi, thanks to Pakistan’s ISI. Between the Haqqani hit and the Rigi arrest, Pakistan set-up 26 border posts to block US hot pursuit into Balochistan. Long dormant Sipah e-Sahaba started anti-Berelvi rioting in Faisalbad. After the Rigi arrest, Pakistan announced plans for a new naval base near the Chinese-constructed port at Gawadar.

After the Predator killed Qari, the India/Pakistan talks started and quickly ended, followed by the bombing of the Indians living in Kabul. This was followed by Khalid Khwaja (of Daniel Pearl fame) interceding at the Lahore High Court to block extradition of the Taliban. But this does not leave us with a clear-cut case of Pakistan blocking American moves and supporting militants for political terrorism, but a record that speaks of both the United States and Pakistan together using militant Islamists and gangs for terrorism.

The Rigi case was a concrete example of the US supporting groups who are committing terror attacks, just like the case of Pakistan and the Taliban. Pakistan handing him to Iran is a clear sign of resistance to American plans, but it should probably be understood as retribution for the killing of Mohammed Haqqani. But in spite of all this, there have been new signs since all of this has transpired that points to a new direction for the CIA/ISI partnership that leads where all parties have always wanted to go—central Asia.

A new war drama has emerged in Baghlan province, the former domain of “shadow” governor, Mulla Mir Mohammad; there, the forces of ISI friend Gubuddin Hekmatyar (former CIA friend) have attacked the local Taliban who are hosting IMU terrorists (Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan). This marks a new direction for a joint CIA/ISI mission. Together, Pakistan and the US will back Heckmatyar as the northern front is expanded (with the “discovery” of many new Uzbek militants) and moves to secure the new supply line.

Today’s news reports that Hekmatyar’s forces have surrendered to the Karzai (Northern Alliance) government. This opens the door to Pakistani-backed militants becoming part of the “reconciliation” program. This will allow the US to buy its way out of Afghanistan in such a way as to set-up the movement of US forces northward toward the hydrocarbon deposits of Central Asia.

Until this new level of cooperation was brought together, Pakistan and the US have been on a collision course over disagreements on the mission of the terror war, which began in the confrontations between Bush and Musharraf over the war in Waziristan. That period was marked by US and British efforts to penetrate the veil of secrecy that shrouded South Waziristan, as well as the North. One of the most effective of these intrusions was by the British through their agent Michael Semple and his efforts to find “reconcilables” and convert them to an anti-Taliban mission.

The Semple mission through Mansoor Dadullah penetrated the S. Waziristan cloak of secrecy, where it uncovered another covert mission, a joint American/Israeli/Indian mission, known as the “Pakistani Taliban” (TTP), run by Mansoor’s big brother (Mullah Dadullah). Upon this discovery, the British mission was exposed and shut down by the American government (SEE: Dissecting the Anti-Pakistan Psyop).

The TTP project continued to rain havoc upon Pakistan, forcing the Army to finally take action, even though the local tribes had opposed past military offensives. The TTP would rain such hell down upon the heads of the innocent people of FATA and the NWFP that they would welcome the Army with open arms and even accept an American drone war in their midst. Anything, as long as someone got rid of those pesky militants!

After the Obama Administration took over, CIA sources were tricked into targeting the head of the TTP, Baitullah Mehsud, despite countless attempts to avoid him in the past, because he had become such a thorn in Pakistan’s side. His successor, Hakeemullah, was an even bigger pain, as he escalated the terror attacks upon both government and sectarian targets until he foolishly went too far, seeking revenge upon the CIA for Baitullah, leading to his own demise.

The killing of Hakeemullah’s mentor, Qari Zafar, and the subsequent elimination of the rest of the TTP leadership has eliminated the hierarchy that was carefully cultivated over many years by the consortium of spy agencies. The same airborne strategy that has eliminated former American assets like the Mehsuds through a succession of decapitation strikes, was also responsible for elevating them into their leadership positions in the first place.

The tricks of the trade that have been utilized to develop and control agents of influence in S. Waziristan, like Baitullah and Tahir Yuldashev (and especially their former mentor, Guantanamo inmate Abdullah Mehsud) are from the CIA’s deepest bag of dirty tricks. From what we know today, these “high-value” militants were subjected to military mind-control science, as the agency and the military pulled-out all stops in breaking these guys at Guantanamo and Bagram. Even more severe measures were used in Uzbekistan, where Yuldashev and others were persuaded to embrace our line of thinking. In addition to the various modes of torture employed at Guantanamo, we can safely assume that darker methods like psychotropic drugs and electroshock were also used on these reconditioned “Islamist” leaders, when we have already used them on our own troops.

American attempts to block the British court ruling that would open the door to public discussion of the secret illegal methods used upon the inmates of Guantanamo is the reason for the breakdown of communications between CIA and MI6. It would make perfect “Imperial” sense to have Pakistan round-up and hold all the Taliban leaders who possessed first-hand experiences of the Guantanamo brainwashing process or those who had been exposed to the British negotiations which uncovered the actions of some of the brainwashed leaders in S. Waziristan.

In S. Waziristan, around the town of Wana, the graduates of the various CIA/military torture/brainwashing programs convened to create both the TTP and Jundullah, Rigi’s group. Abdullah Mehsud had come to Wana after leaving Gitmo, along with Tahir Yuldashev, forming the base of the “Pakistani Taliban.” There they agitated and terrorized the tribal region to accept Wahabbi “Shariah.” They were reinforced in 2007 by Mullah Dadullah Akhund, after he was released from his year studying at another American “Islamist” university, probably at Baghram.

Near Wana, the group hosted trainers from Lashkar e-taiba and Lashkar e-Jhangvi to turn-out the large number of TTP fighters who have plagued Pakistan’s Swat region. To this deadly mix, a radical Wahabbi preacher named Haji Namdar was exported to Bara in Khyber, from Saudi Arabia, where he had been radicalizing for the previous six years. Namdar was like all of the aforementioned Taliban leaders who had been taken earlier in the war and were in American hands in Guantanamo or Afghanistan for long periods of time, or they were indoctrinated in countries dominated by US forces, such as Saudi Arabia, in preparation for their return to Pakistan and the planned destabilization mission.

The same irregular warfare tactics that US forces and the CIA were employing in Pakistan were used in Afghanistan, as well. The same pattern of aerial decapitation inspired leadership changes, involving former Guantanamo prisoners, was followed in Afghanistan. Next in line to Mullah Omar, Mullah Akhtar Usmani, was killed by airstrike, after a phone call was intercepted by British drone. He was replaced by Mullah Baradar, who allegedly may be replaced by possible Guantanamo alumnus Mullah Zakir, although some reports have listed him among the recently captured. Zakir’s second in command is another Guantanamo parolee, Mullah Abdul Raouf.

The more we learn about the alleged “differences” between the missions of the Pakistani and the US military, the more we learn that they may not be that far apart on many issues. Most of the drama we have become accustomed to has been no more than political theater, designed to alter the opinions of the people of both America and Pakistan so that they would embrace the never-ending war of terror.

When you look closely at the conflict that has been generated in S. Waziristan and NWFP by the TTP terrorist strikes, it becomes apparent that that was all just more consensual drama, as well—all designed to deceive the people into allowing it to happen in Pakistan and allowing it to spread forth from there, like a plague upon all mankind.

Your Retirement Funds to Bail Out the Banks?

Your Retirement Funds to Bail Out the Banks?

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With the recent spotlight on a runaway Prius, few are paying any attention to the latest government plan to bail out failing banks with retirement money.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., according to Bloomberg, now thinks it's a good idea for public retirement funds over about $2 trillion to "buy out all or part of failed lenders."

Last year alone, the FDIC reportedly shut down close to 150 banks, and it expects even more banks to fail this year. But, a quick look at how the largest companies, like General Motors, are currently investing their employees' pension funds is guaranteed to make a shiver up and down the spine of every working American. And, two things become clear: 1) your pension funds are at risk, and 2) any bank that depends upon your pension fund is also at risk.

It's not breaking news that the money we depend upon to be there in our retirement is invested by those corporations who hold it in trust for us just as it's common knowledge that money deposited into bank accounts doesn't sit there looking pretty until it's withdrawn.

But, what has changed is that corporations are now effectively "going to Las Vegas," as a Dallas investor recently told the New York Times, with our pensions. It's no longer about buying stocks, but investing has now expanded into junk bonds, commodity futures, and foreign stocks, too.

More importantly, companies may soon use public pension fund revenue that they're exposing to increasing risk to rescue failing banks and with FDIC blessing.

Okay, it breaks down quite simply like this: XYZ Corporation has a public pension fund in which John Jones' retirement savings are being kept. XYZ Corporation decides to take a bite of Jones' pension account and invest it in commodities with an eye to using the revenue from that investment to bail out Granny's Bank. XYZ can sleep easy knowing that whatever money it invests in Granny's Bank is federally insured, so if there is a loss, it will ultimately be the FDIC who will pick up the tab.

What a monstrous idea that the FDIC should be looking at retirement money as a safety net for failed lenders!

If the idea is to stabilize the lending industry by allowing corporations to gamble with their employees' savings and then, in effect, turn the pension funds over to a failing bank, who wins? It's simply risk multiplied exponentially. And, ultimately, it's not the banks, or the corporations, who are taking the risk, but John Jones because when the FDIC runs out of money, or decides to lower the amount it insures as is all but inevitable, it is the worker who will lose.

While the banks, and pension administrators, are traditionally reticent about their plans, some regulators are said to be debating whether or not letting private corporations take over failing banks is a good thing because they may not only be jeopardizing federally protected deposits, but may use the bank as collateral, or sell it for profit.

When the regulators get in bed with the risk takers, the only ones who win are the ones who hold the mortgage, and more and more it looks like, by 2050, the only question you may expect when applying for U.S. citizenship will be "Will that be Mandarin or Szechuan?"

What this plan is really about is having the FDIC bail out not banks but corporations who incur losses by making risky investments with your retirement money. Once again, it's "score one for the corporations!" Public pension funds becomes an extra layer of padding for fortune 500s in a financially cold climate, and essentially it's the individual, not the corporation, who is taking the risk.

No matter how you slice it, we're no longer living in a capitalist system, but a venture capitalist system.

Somebody seems to have gotten it backwards. The banks are supposed to bail us out in an emergency and not the other way around. Thomas Jefferson said it best two hundred years ago: "if the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of currency... the banks and corporations that will grow up around them will deprive the people of their prosperity until their children wake up homeless on the continent their Fathers conquered."

Why Availability of Freshwater Is a Huge Factor in the 'War on Terror'

Why Availability of Freshwater Is a Huge Factor in the 'War on Terror'

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While leaders in Washington have been war-gaming the national security risks of climate change, they’ve only started to connect the dots to the closely related threats emanating from the growing crisis of global freshwater scarcity. At first blush, water and national security may not seem to be interlinked. But the reality, as narrated in my new book WATER: The Epic Struggle for Wealth, Power, and Civilization, is that the unfolding global water crisis increasingly influences the outcome of America’s two wars, homeland defense against international terrorism, and other key U.S. national-security interests, including the transforming planetary environment and world geopolitical order.

Former U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali famously predicted 25 years ago that the “next war in the Middle East will be fought over water.” While that has yet to come to pass, the greatest present danger stems from failing nation-states—and not just in the bone-dry Middle East. With world water use growing at twice the rate of human population over the last century, many of the Earth’s vital freshwater ecosystems are already critically depleted and being used unsustainably to support our global population of 6.5 billion, according the 2005 Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, and the situation can only be expected to get worse as the population pushes toward 9 billion by 2050. As great rivers run dry before reaching the sea, groundwater is mined deeper and deeper beyond replenishment levels, and water quality erodes with growing pollution, an explosive fault line is cleaving between freshwater Haves and Have-Nots across the political, economic, and social landscapes of the 21st century.

Among the water Have-Nots are the 3.6 billion who will live in countries that won’t be able to feed themselves within 15 years due largely to scarcity of water—likely to include giant India. Throughout history, states that have been unable to feed themselves with homegrown or reliably imported cheap food have stagnated, declined, and often collapsed, with grievous adjustments in living standards, population levels, and regional turmoil.

Health and humanitarian crises are likely to emanate from the dark side of the Have-Not divide where 1 billion abject poor lack regular access to clean, fresh water for minimal needs and 2.6 billion don’t have basic sanitation. Upriver water Have states increasingly exert control over the precious water flows to their dependent neighbors downstream, while within nations the wealthy and those with greatest political clout commonly enjoy the formidable competitive advantage of better, and often subsidized, access to the best water resources. Global warming exacerbates the water crisis with extreme, unpredictable floods, droughts, glacier melts, storm swells, and other water cycle–related depredations that fall disproportionately on already water-insecure, Have-Not regions and overwhelm existing, fragile water infrastructures. Such dislocating events are expected to create 150 million environmental refugees within a decade.

A tumultuous adjustment to the freshwater scarcity crisis lies ahead, and in our global society the feedback effects will buffet even the security of distant nations. Two cases from the headlines—Yemen and Pakistan—illustrate some of the problems and challenges.

Yemen

Arid Yemen is an impoverished, failing state, home to al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, which helped to train and arm the would-be Detroit-bound, Christmas suicide bomber from Nigeria. The Yemeni government is not much better than a large, corrupt tribe competing for control of the nation’s diminishing resources through patronage payoffs and proxy alliances with other strong tribes. There is warfare in the north between Houthi tribesmen and Saudi-backed government forces, while politically and economically disaffected southerners are trying to secede. The government is also battling al-Qaida, which flourishes in ungoverned no-man’s-lands.

Terrorism—which claimed 17 U.S. sailor lives in the attack in Aden Harbor on the USS Cole in 2000, and was beaten back for a few years with the help of U.S. drones—is resurgent. The Yemeni government’s policy of routinely releasing captured or repatriated terrorists after little more than a promise not to do it again frustrates the Obama administration’s efforts to shut the Guantanamo Bay prison, where about half of the remaining 200 prisoners are Yemeni.

One of the world’s most dire freshwater scarcity crises underlies Yemen’s extreme poverty and faltering state. The average Yemeni lives at eight times below the world freshwater availability poverty line, and has 1/20th the world average. Less than half have access to enough clean, fresh water for basic needs, while five-sixths lack adequate sanitation. Illegal well drilling is ubiquitous. Yet when the government tried to remove state subsidies for the diesel fuel powering the illegal pumps, riots forced it to desist. The lion’s share of the groundwater is commandeered (and used wastefully in flood irrigation) to grow the cash crop qat, a narcotic stimulant chewed by Yemeni men and an integral part of Yemeni culture.

The net result is an ecological and human catastrophe unfolding in slow motion: Water tables around the country are plunging—in many places two to four times faster than the natural replenishment rate. Soaring 7 percent annual population growth, adding to the current 23 million Yemenis, compounds the water scarcity crisis. As much as two-thirds of rural violence, including some deaths, is related to water. As life in rural areas grows untenable, Yemenis are crowding into already swollen cities, where water riots are not uncommon and mosques dispense minimum free water as charity to the poorest. In the capital, San’a, 100 of the 180 wells in use a decade ago have run dry. Within just five to 10 years, it is widely predicted to become the world’s first capital city to literally run out of water.

To try to retain some control, the government delegated power over water to local authorities and urban water companies. Al-Qaida is strongest in places like ancient Marib and Shabwa where no water companies operate, and it gains the support of the populace by providing health care and helping to dig wells. What viable diplomatic policy America and its allies can pursue in such a situation is unclear, as international financial aid simply disappears down the government’s sieve of corruption.

Pakistan

As dangerous as Yemen is as a failed state, it pales in comparison to Pakistan, which is nuclear-armed, Taliban-besieged, regionally fractious, and severely water fragile. Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaida’s core leadership are believed to be hiding out in its rugged northwest regions.

American leaders had a big fright in April 2009 when Muslim fundamentalist Taliban fighters broke out of the northwestern provinces and struck within 25 miles of the Indus River’s giant Tarbela Dam, a critical site they’d attacked through terrorism before, and only 30 miles from the capital, Islamabad. The Tarbela Dam is the strategic heart of Pakistan’s irrigation, hydropower, and flood-control network. If the Taliban damaged or took control of the giant dam, and gained critical leverage over Pakistan’s food and energy security, the government’s viability would be imperiled.

While Pakistan’s American-trained elite counterterrorism forces and air power quickly rallied to beat back the Taliban, the U.S. responded to the Taliban’s show of strength in the spring of 2009 by accelerating its $7.5 billion five-year aid package to Pakistan—the lion’s share of which is focused on rehabilitating the nation’s perilously deteriorating and inadequate agricultural and hydropower waterworks. During her tumultuous October 2009 visit to Pakistan, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was repeatedly warned about the nation’s impending freshwater crisis.

At the heart of Pakistan’s crisis is the Indus River, its water lifeline and foundation of its farm economy, which provides the livelihood for 60 percent of Pakistanis. It’s already so badly overused that its water rarely reaches its now dried-up delta, and its huge fertile irrigated basin cropland is heavily reliant on overpumped groundwater and in dire need of a refurbished drainage system to remove poisoning salts. The Indus River also faces an alarming loss of up to a third of its flow by 2025 from the global warming–induced melting of its source Himalayan glaciers. In the same period, moreover, the nation’s population will grow 30 percent more to 225 million. Global climate change is further menacing monsoonal Pakistan with more unpredictable and intense seasonal floods and droughts. In a country where the water-storage capacity to buffer prolonged drought and loss of hydropower is only 30 days—1/30th as much as in the U.S. and 1/15th as much as in China—the effects of climate change can quickly become catastrophic and destabilizing.

Complicating Pakistan’s water crisis is that most of its water originates outside its borders, in archenemy, nuclear-armed India—with whom it has fought several wars and still heatedly disputes the Kashmir border region—as well as in Afghanistan and China. The Indus water dispute with India, which helped trigger the first war between the countries, was resolved with a 1960 treaty. But under the strain of population growth and climate change, the treaty is in dire need of renegotiation. One source of tension is that both countries are building new hydropower dams on Indus tributaries in the Kashmir. Pakistan is also highly suspicious of India’s increased aid to Afghanistan for dams on rivers that flow into Pakistan; it fears it is an Indian subterfuge to put Pakistan in an east-west hydrological vise once America leaves Afghanistan. For their part, the Pakistanis have awarded their dam contract to China, India’s adversary with whom it has its own water disputes and testy political relations.

The chessboard of Pakistan’s destiny is immensely complex, of course. But how it manages its critical water challenges—both from internal and external pressures—is one of the paramount variables in whether it will hold together as a coherent nation-state. Given its nukes, radical Muslim fundamentalists, and regional stature, what happens to it is of grave significance to American national security and Asian regional security.

The global water crisis is unfolding in many other places around the world, and in many different ways, posing vital national security challenges to the U.S. Israel’s conflicts with Palestinians and Syria include contentious disputes over the vital water supplies of the West Bank and Golan Heights, which Israel won in the 1967 war and which today account for two-thirds of Israel’s total freshwater. Iraq’s national viability and prosperity depend significantly on how much water its upstream neighbors Syria and Turkey (the Middle East’s rising water superpower) permit to flow downstream. How tightly China, in its dam-building frenzy for economic growth, squeezes the waters from the 10 major Asian rivers originating in its Tibetan plateau will affect the prosperity and political robustness of downstream nations across Asia, China’s geopolitical status, and with it, U.S. national security interests. Whether and how big a food importer India becomes as its own water management runs short will affect global food prices, and conditions of famine and health, in food import–dependent countries worldwide.

Water and national security may not seem at first to be interconnected. But they are-increasingly so as the global freshwater scarcity crisis deepens.

Capitalism: A Success Story-The World's Richest Man in an Impoverished Country

Capitalism: A Success Story–The World’s Richest Man in an Impoverished Country

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Mexico’s Carlos Slim, named the world’s richest man……has amassed a fortune of $53.5 billion, beating Microsoft founder Bill Gates to top the list of the world’s richest people, according to a new ranking published by Forbes magazine.….Source: Reuters

Congratulations to the world’s richest man, Carlos Slim, for picking himself up by his bootstraps and being able to take advantage of monopoly capitalism in Mexico and around the world.

I am sure Slim is able to have a lot of good meals and enjoys many fine mansions. He can also afford to buy off the political machine that serves him and the other multi-billionaires of Mexico well.

But what is wrong with this picture?

Mexico is a country that is in the midst of a drug civil war fueled by poverty and tremendous inequality. While Carlos Slim enjoys the reputation of the world’s wealthiest man, his fellow citizens have little to nothing of the wealth of Mexico to enjoy.

.…The Mexican standard of living is way below the US or Europe. The minimum wage is 46 pesos per day, about £2.20, or $4 US Dollars. There is little or no welfare state and no unemployment benefit. Mexico is one of the 4 worst countries in Latin America for income distribution. In 2007 Forbes magazine published an article indicating that Carlos Slim had a personal fortune of 53.1 billion dollars and was fast catching up on Bill Gates as the world’s richest man. Many billionaires were created after the privatization of Mexican banks and telecoms in the 1990s….

….The bottom 40% of the population share only 11% of the wealth and are considered to live below the Mexican poverty line. Many families live in total poverty and children are compelled to work on the streets in order to supplement the family income..….Source: Mexico Factfile and Statistics

Things are only looking up if you are one of Mexico’s billionaires. But if you are like most Mexicans:

.….Between 1994 and 1996, the poverty rate in Mexico climbed from 52 to 69 percent due to a deep but short-lived global economic recession that broke out in this country. Now this country is experiencing another depression, which originated in its northern neighbour, and that will last at least until 2010…..Global Geopolitics News and Ananlysis

All of this likely means little to the average American. After all, we have our own economic problems. But Americans should pay close attention to Mexico.

The United States, over the last several decades, has embraced monopolistic disaster capitalism and that is great for America’s 360 or so billionaires. They are thriving even in the midst of the Great Recession/Depression. But as they thrive the rest of America rots.

This is not an accident.

Capitalism, according to its system, will grow fantastic wealth at the very top. The massive wealth of Carlos Slim in a terribly impoverished country is not an accident but a product of unregulated capitalism.

Alarmingly, though, America has embraced the exact same economy of Mexico and Americans expect different results than Mexico. But that ain’t gonna happen. I’ll let you in on a little secret. The people at the top, America’s wealthy elite, know that ain’t gonna happen too.

By creating government policies to encourage the privatization of nearly all the wealth into the hands of the very few and by taking away much of the wealth and resources for the public good, then you get what they have in Mexico and what we are beginning to see in the United States. In short, you get a free market conservative’s dream or nightmare, depending if you are one of the hundreds of millions of people or one of the hundreds of the economic elite at the top.

The infrastructure of the country will decay, the cities will disintegrate, the citizens (or consumers as we like to call ourselves now) will descend into poverty, and the country will face civil unrest and turmoil.

So Carlos Slim is truly a success story of capitalism. But for the people of Mexico and now the United States, capitalism has turned into a nightmare.

You're Still Keeping Your Money in a Big Bank? What's Wrong with You?

You're Still Keeping Your Money in a Big Bank? What's Wrong with You?

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Excuse me, but can I have a word with the 70% of Americans who continuing keeping their money in big banks, like Bank of America, CitiBank, Wells Fargo and such? Come closer. A little closer. I want to be able to give you a well-earned dope-slap while I ask;

WHAT THE HELL's THE MATTER WITH YOU? ARE YOU STUPID!?

Jesus H. Christ, what's it going to take before you people stop doing business with the enemy? You're like abused spouses who are slapped around and slapped around again and again by your big bank and keep crawling back for more. If this behavior didn't hurt the rest of us I'd be delighted to just let you get the shit beat out of you until your big bank bleeds you white. That would be Darwinism at it's most effective.

But, thanks to the fact that 90% of America's household savings are deposited in these big banks means that your self-destructive banking habits are fueling the very financial services juggernauts that have repeatedly devastating the lives, homes, families and savings of average working Americans. And not just once, but time and time and time again.

Are you listening goddamnit!

And why do you do it?

“Ah, well... because...... well, you know... ah, there's a Wells Fargo Branch on Main Street... and... well, it would be such a hassle moving my account to our hometown community bank. You know, new checks and credit cards and such. I don't like my bank at all, but it's just easier to leave it with Wells.”

Is that how you make all your financial decisions? I hope not. I assume when you're about to make a big ticket purchase, like furniture or a new car, you shop around for the best price and quality and service? But when it comes to where you bank all you care about is that the big bank is a quarter mile closer to your home or office or that you parents banked there or that they give you a (usurious interest) credit card? That's it? That's the reason you bank with Tumor Bank of America?

Sucker. No wonder nearly 70% of Americans nearing retirement age have less than $55,000 in savings to retire on.

My god people. Putting your hard-earned money with a big bank is like Mr. & Mrs. Chicken entrusting their chicks to Col. Sanders Prep School.

As it becomes increasingly clear that Congress is not about to pass anything that even resembles comprehensive financial reform, big banks, freshly rejuvenated by $700 billion pints of taxpayer plasma, are positioning themselves for the next round of looting and pillaging. And why not. They made hundreds of billions of dollars off the last round and all they had to endure was a tongue lashing from members of Congress -- after which they savved their wounds with hundreds of million of dollars in "performance bonuses."

So, you ask, what's the alternative? And what will it cost you to switch?

Well, you drive and walk by that solution every day... your local community bank or your local credit union. And it's not going to "cost" you anything. In fact you're likely to come out ahead. Not only do small banks provide exactly the same services as the big banks, but they do so at a lower cost, pay higher returns to depositors and --- are you sitting down?-- they are still making loans to local homebuyers and local small businesses -- even as the big guys you just saved claim they just can't do either right now.

Proof? You want proof? (Can you handle the proof?) If so the Internet is lousy with proof that small banks beat large banks on virtually every single measure. Just do a Google search under "Big banks vs. Small Banks," and you'll have a month's worth of reading on your hands.

AM BESTS business analysts compared the two and take a look for yourself:

Community Bank Advantages Challenge Historical Assumptions

A bank’s size alone can have less to do with its performance, safety and soundness than would be expected, based on A.M. Best’s analysis of data from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and other, qualitative factors. Various operating models carry key advantages and disadvantages, as Best delineated by a threshold of $5 billion in assets between small and large banks.

• Despite common industry perceptions that large commercial banks have greater safety and earnings power than community banks, a bank’s assets don’t necessarily equate to economies of scale, diversification of risk and market power.

• Small community banks generally have smaller scale and less diversification, but their local owner-managers provide stability, and they draw strength from focusing on their local communities and limiting risk.

• Larger institutions historically have tended to take on more leverage and complex risk exposures, and they also may forego diversification to assume concentrated risk in certain regions or in certain products, such as subprime mortgages.

• Relative risk aside, community banks are better capitalized according to certain regulatory capital ratios, including the Tier 1 risk based capital and tangible common equity.

• Community banks are less susceptible to downswings in bank- ing cycles, as shown by more gradual declines in median return on assets and return on equity compared with larger banks.. [Full report with graphs]

Why is this not more widely understood? Well, ask the New York Times or most other large media outlets. They are always way behind the curve when it comes to reporting emerging financial news. Mostly they come along after each crash to explain to us everything they failed to warn of when it would have done some good. But if you look hard enough you can find some stories that support the Best study:

As big banks falter, community banks do fine

Christian Science Monitor | Unlike banks on Wall Street, these smaller banks didn’t invest in risky mortgage-backed securities or complex derivatives....While they account for less than 10 percent of America’s total banking assets, their traditional, values-based approach contains plenty of lessons for their larger Wall Street counterparts, some analysts say.

But there’s another component as well, says William Attridge, president of the Wethersfield, Conn.-based bank: Most community bankers know their customers. “We’re lending to small businesses, and in small businesses the individual is a significant part of that,” he says. “There’s a character component: That means we might make loans that possibly someone else wouldn’t if they just looked at the financials, because we know the individual well and what their resources and talents are. On the other hand, there are probably some [loans] that look good on paper that we wouldn’t make.”

During the Great Depression, there were more than 30,000 banks in the US, and most of them were small. The majority of banks that failed were small, while the few bigger banks that existed weathered the economic turmoil better. Today, the flip side is happening. Four large banks were responsible for half of the $26 billion in losses reported by the banking industry during the fourth quarter of 2008, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC). [Full Story]

Okay, that's enough from me. Get your damn money out of those cancerous leviathan banks and into a local bank or credit union. (If you choose a credit union, by the way, your new credit card will be limited by law to 18% interest.) And you're tired of those BofA checks anyway. Here's a chance to get a new look to your checks.

Oh, and by doing this, you'll be doing your part in returning banking to its roots, keeping local savings working locally, rather than fueling multi-million dollar bonuses and fueling the next financial bullshit-bubble.

We have met the enemy and it is YOU. Now watch this and be ashamed of yourself.


US banks and corporations announce huge pay packages for 2009: Wells Fargo executives double their compensation

US banks and corporations announce huge pay packages for 2009

Wells Fargo executives double their compensation

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US corporations are beginning to release figures on CEO pay for last year. Multi-million dollar packages are the norm in a year that saw the continued deterioration in the living conditions of the vast majority of the population.

Each of the top five executives at Wells Fargo at least doubled their compensation last year over 2008. The five men each received over $11 million in 2009, while Wells Fargo’s chief executive, John Stumpf, took home $21.3 million, far higher than his 2008 package of $8.8 million.

Mark Oman, the head of consumer business for Wells Fargo, nearly quadrupled his previous pay package to $13.5 million. Howard Atkins, the chief financial officer, received $11.6 million. The other Wells Fargo executives who received huge payouts were David Carroll, the head of the brokerage unit ($14.3 million), and David Hoyt, the head of wholesale banking ($13.5 million).

In December 2009, Wells Fargo announced that it would repay the $25 billion it received from the government as part of the Troubled Asset Relief Program. Like other banks, Wells Fargo has sought to repay its TARP assistance as quickly as possible in order to escape compensation restrictions put on banks that received “extraordinary assistance.”

Wells Fargo accepted the infusion of government funds in 2008. At the time, it also purchased its smaller rival, Wachovia, leaving Wells Fargo the fourth largest US bank by assets.

Other banks have yet to release proxy statements, but these will come out over the next several weeks.

Companies throughout the US are reporting multi-million dollar pay packages for their executives. A sampling includes: Texas Instruments CEO Rich Templeton ($9.8 million); IBM CEO Sam Palmisano ($21.2 million); insurance company Aflac CEO Daniel Amos ($13.2 million); nuclear power company Exelon CEO John Rowe ($12 million); Black & Decker CEO Nolan Archibald ($89 million, including a $45 million “cost synergy bonus” expected following a merger with Stanley Words); etc.

GMAC, previously the finance arm of General Motors, paid its CEO, Michael A. Carpenter, $1.2 million for a month and a half of work in 2009, amounting to a yearly compensation rate of $9.5 million. The big payout came despite the fact that GMAC has not been profitable since 2008. The company lost $10.3 billion last year, after posting a record loss in the fourth quarter of $3.7 billion.

Other executives did just as well for themselves. GMAC’s senior risk officer, Samuel Ramsey, took home $7.7 million. Robert Hull, the chief financial officer, was handed $4.9 million. The company said that the Obama administration’s compensation overseer, Kenneth Feinberg, approved its executive compensation packages.

Last week, the Wall Street Journal republished an overview of 2008 compensation for 200 major corporations. The figures give a taste of what is likely to come out as companies publish their proxy statements for 2009.

Among the 200 companies in the Wall Street Journal survey, 124 paid their chief executives over $10 million. Topping the list of highest-earning executives was Ray Irani of Occidental Petroleum, whose total income in 2008 amounted to over $200 million.

The Journal also reported various schemes by which companies are seeking to downplay the amount of money they gave to their executives in 2009. The article noted that companies are increasingly presenting their own, more modest, compensation-accounting formulas to the public, alongside those used to report compensation figures to the Securities Exchange Committee.

As one example, the Journal cited the case of John Lechleiter, CEO of pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly & Co., who received $20.9 million last year according to SEC reports. However, the company is claiming publicly that it only paid him $15.9 million. In another example, Disney wrote in its proxy statement that it paid out $29 million to its CEO, Robert Iger, in 2009, but reported publicly that his compensation was $21.6 million.

These latest reports come in the wake of Barack Obama’s statement last month that he does not “begrudge” the bonuses of Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein and JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon. Blankfein got a $9 million bonus lat year, while Dimon received $16 million. (Their total packages have not yet been released).

Obama defended the bonuses on the grounds that Blankfein and Dimon are “savvy businessmen.” This statement gave what amounted to official carte blanche for the multi-million-dollar bonuses paid to hundreds of other “savvy businessmen,” even as the government oversees a massive attack on the living conditions of the vast majority of the population.