Dec 31, 2008

An infallible test

Here is an infallible test to decide terrorism in any case where large numbers of people (Humans – genus homo) are destroyed:

If the humans are destroyed by missile strikes, smart bombs, or any automatic machinery, it is the people killed who are the terrorists, and those operating the machinery are innocent victims. This is especially true if the killing machinery is entirely human-free, such as robot drones firing hell fire missiles.

If the humans are destroyed, on the other hand, by other humans, who may also destroy themselves in the process as in the case of suicide bombers, then it is the humans destroyed who are the innocent victims, and those doing the destroying who are the terrorists.

Cousin strands of genus homo, such as apes, gorillas, chimpanzees, and orangutans (orang hutan = “people of the trees”) need not be considered because although they have the necessary two legs, two arms, and head configuration, none have any known experience of manufacturing explosives.

Dec 20, 2008

Iran's nuke

"Do not fear the enemy, for your enemy can only take your life. It is far better that you fear the media, for they will steal your HONOR. That awful power, the public opinion of a nation, is created in America by a horde of ignorant, self-complacent simpletons who failed at ditching and shoemaking and fetched up in journalism on their way to the poorhouse." ---Mark Twain.

“According to an article published Thursday in the New York Times, "Iran has now produced roughly enough nuclear material to make, with added purification, a single atom bomb, according to nuclear experts."

Webmaster's Commentary:

"Little physics here, folks.

"ALL reactor fuel, with "added purification", can be used in a nuclear weapon.

"It is the "added purification" which is the issue.

"Is Iran actually doing "Added purification"? The IAEA says no. And it is not as trivial as the article implies. Nuclear fuel (what Iran is making) is enriched to 3%. Weapons-grade uranium needs to be enriched to 95% or higher. The required equipment, energy, and time needed to go from 3% to 95% is enormous, orders of magnitude larger than that needed for reactor fuel. And impossible to conceal (except under the Dimona reactor, which is, unlike Iran, safe from IAEA inspections.)” Mike Riviero

The present stockpile of US nuclear weapons is sufficient to destroy the entire planet many times over, but Mr. Paul Wolfowitz recently recommended greatly increasing US nukes, and Mr. Gates, Bush’s Secretary of Defense, kept on in Mr. Obama’s cabinet, shares this view.

Quote of the month
“Those people could be offering free bacon flavored aphrodisiacs and there’d be no takers.” (Courtesy Ms. Rachel Maddow)

Dec 19, 2008

The Palestinian Prime Minister

Mr. Gordon Brown, Prime Minister of Great Britain, and previously for many years Chancellor of the Exchequer or Finance Minister, has achieved the sort of results for the British economy that we have come to expect from our financial experts.

Earlier this week he appeared on newsreels with someone whose name I forget (let us call him Mr. Abu Flan) who was headlined as “Palestinian Prime Minister.”

Now the Palestinian election was chiefly remarkable, not only for the fact that one party won in a landslide, but that it was the only election world wide to take place without allegations of vote rigging, charges of corruption, or other objections, and was agreed by all independent monitors to have been entirely free and fair.

Mr. Abu Flan clearly came from the party that lost the election. What happened to the party that won the election, the freely elected government of the Palestinians? I note a BBC news headline this morning “Palestinian militant Islamist group in Gaza to end six month cease fire with Israel.”

How did this happen?

I think that one morning as Mr. Brown was shaking his Rice Crispies into his cereal bowl one of those plastic kiddy toys fell out, and when he picked it up he read “Congratulations. You have won the right to appoint the Palestinian Prime Minister.”

It seems the kindest explanation.

Dec 15, 2008

Modern media myths

1. Religion and culture are two separate things.
Study of any of the more than ten thousand – by a recent count, from the Afghanistan animists to the Zoroastrians – religions in the world reveals that in practice it is not possible to distinguish between the culture and the religion; in practice they are so closely intertwined as to be indistinguishable, and follow certain predictable paths, mainly that the culture remains and selects what it wants from the religion up to and including physical artifacts.

Statues of the goddess Isis with the child Horus in her arms continued to be venerated in Egypt for example even after the adoption of Christianity only now they were called the Virgin Mary and the child Jesus. The most militant Christian groups in the USA survive the discovery that their leader consumes large quantities of drugs and hires male prostitutes without changing in the slightest their insistence the Bible and only the Bible is the complete word of God. This does involve, of course, a tactful blindness to passages allowing fathers to sell their daughters into slavery, forbidding usury (charging interest on loans), or a blanket death penalty for homosexuals, but Christian groups survive this with equanimity, as do all the other ten thousand religions.

Not every country enjoys the freedoms of Indonesia, with the largest Moslem population in the world, where everyone is constitutionally (which also means in practice, unlike the USA) allowed to change from any religion, including Islam, to any other religion, as many times as they wish.

A number of tactical moves from one religion to another are taking place particularly in India among the Untouchables, the lowest caste. (See “The Dalits” in February 2008 at

2. Western countries have a free press
Western countries do not have a free press. Their media, not only newspapers, but more importantly radio and TV, are tightly controlled. (See Letter to Coral, in November 2008 at on Bill Maher, for some striking examples.)

It would not be difficult to argue that both Russia, which has just announced the formation of a new political party, dedicated to the dismantling of the Putin power structure on its official channel, RT, and India, where a movement has sprung up asserting that the Mumbai bombings are an inside job engineered by Hindu nationalist extremists bent on fomenting war against Pakistan and seizing the Kashmir, have more open media than western countries. It is instructive to compare both of these with the vaporings of Mr. Gordon Brown in Afghanistan, where the whole question why on earth we are fighting there at all was entirely ignored in favor of heavy condemnation of a fifteen year old suicide bomber, - one would have thought that a place where even fifteen year olds are ready to die in order to kill you would be a good place to get out of - or Mr. Bush’s farewell visit to Iraq, where he had shoes thrown at him. The aim was excellent; President Bush had to duck to avoid each shoe. The Baydan company of Istanbul making that particular shoe has reported a fourfold increase in orders and taken on one hundred extra staff.

It is important not to be confused by items such as the cartoons on the prophet Mohammed published in Denmark. It is certainly possible, with expert guidance, to fabricate ways to enrage selected populations, which the cartoons achieved, but the hollowness of the boast that this makes them free can be exposed by comparison with the Viet Cong in Vietnam. Would cartoons have bothered them? Not in the slightest. Would the Abu Ghraib humiliation of draping a woman’s knickers over the head have humiliated the Viet Cong? Not at all. That only worked on a carefully researched population which regarded the genitalia as the seat of honor. Any Viet Cong would have laughed and blown his nose on the knickers.

The group that hijacked the US government in 2000, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Podhoretz, Kristol, Krauthammer, et al, usually referred to as “the neocons,” or neo conservatives, also control the media, in pursuing the “Bush doctrine,” which is that the USA has the right to attack preemptively any country or area that might in the future be capable of posing a threat to it. The casual announcement by this group that the US asserted “ownership of space” (since the earth is surrounded by space this is equal to claiming ownership of the entire universe) is one of many examples that the neocons are not playing with a full deck.

3. Suicide bombers are distinctively Islamic
Wrong again! By far the most successful, both in numbers and elevation of target, are the Tigers of Tamil Eelam in Sri Lanka, the Tamil Tigers, always carefully avoided in any discussion of suicide bombers, who actually bagged a sitting Indian prime minister, Rajiv Ghandi.

Two things are noteworthy about this most successful of all suicide bomber groups, the first of which is that they are entirely secular. Their aim is an independent, or at least autonomous, homeland for the Tamil population of Sri Lanka in the north of the island. They have no religious affiliation or interest at all.

The second thing that is noteworthy about the Tamil Tigers is the Tamil culture on the mainland in India, home of the famous Juggernaut, the heavy carriage of the god, under which devout believers threw themselves and were crushed to death to show their devotion. See the connection? If not, go back to Section 1, above.

4. Jewish people are Jewish people
Well, yes and no. Certainly any one is free to enter Judaism, as Jewish folks like Mendelsohn the German composer and friend of Goethe are also free to leave it and become Christian, even if they do not have the luck to live in Indonesia.

The real question is who is a Jew, which has been exercising the Jewish community for some time, and is still a subject of debate. (For the moment, let us leave aside the answer of the rabbi asked that question and his answer “Why, everybody, I suppose.”)

The community of Jewish folks is divided into Sephardi and Ashkenazi. Sephardi Jews are the lineal descendants of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Saul, David, and all those familiar biblical characters. Ashkenazi are the descendants of a semi-nomadic Turkic tribe, the Khazars, originating in Eastern Asia, who decided to adopt Judaism between the 8th and 10th centuries AD.

According to news reports Russian archaeologists have recently found the long-lost Jewish (Ashkenazi) capital, Itil, near the Caspian Sea, and the reports state that Christian, Moslem, and pagan communities also existed in Itil and had places of worship there. See Agence France Presse for Wed Sep 3, 12:08 PM ET at

Zionism, and the state of Israel, is heavily Ashkenazi dominated, and Sephardi Jews are marginalized and ignored as far as possible. This is not surprising as Sephardis include anti Zionist groups like Netturei Karta, and generally espouse the traditionally accepted command to the Jewish people to be good and loyal citizens of whatever country they live in, and leave the fate of the Jewish community in the hands of God. Ashkenazis, on the other hand, take the more robust view perhaps brought with them from the plains of eastern Asia that characterize some of the other waves of peoples from that area.

5. Iran’s Ahmedinejad has called for Israel to be wiped off the map
'Wiped off the Map' – The Rumor of the Century -by Arash Norouzi

On Tuesday, October 25th, 2005 at the Ministry of Interior conference hall in Tehran, newly elected Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad delivered a speech at a program, reportedly attended by thousands, titled "The World Without Zionism." Large posters surrounding him displayed this title prominently in English, obviously for the benefit of the international press. Below the poster's title was a slick graphic depicting an hour glass containing planet Earth at its top. Two small round orbs representing the United States and Israel are shown falling through the hour glass' narrow neck and crashing to the bottom.

Before we get to the infamous remark, it's important to note that the "quote" in question was itself a quote – they are the words of the late Ayatollah Khomenei, the father of the Islamic Revolution. Although he quoted Khomeini to affirm his own position on Zionism, the actual words belong to Khomeini and not Ahmadinejad. Thus, Ahmadinejad has essentially been credited (or blamed) for a quote that is not only unoriginal, but represents a viewpoint already in place well before he ever took office.

The Actual Quote:
So what did Ahmadinejad actually say? To quote his exact words in Farsi:
"Imam ghoft een rezhim-e ishghalgar-e qods bayad az safheh-ye ruzgar mahv shavad."
That passage will mean nothing to most people, but one word might ring a bell: rezhim-e. It is the word "regime." pronounced just like the English word with an extra "eh" sound at the end. Ahmadinejad did not refer to Israel the country or Israel the land mass, but the Israeli regime. This is a vastly significant distinction, as one cannot wipe a regime off the map. Ahmadinejad does not even refer to Israel by name, he instead uses the specific phrase "rezhim-e ishghalgar-e qods" (regime occupying Jerusalem).

So this raises the question.. what exactly did he want "wiped from the map"? The answer is: nothing. That's because the word "map" was never used. The Persian word for map, "nagsheh" is not contained anywhere in his original Farsi quote, or, for that matter, anywhere in his entire speech. Nor was the western phrase "wipe out" ever said. Yet we are led to believe that Iran's president threatened to "wipe Israel off the map." despite never having uttered the words "map." "wipe out" or even "Israel."

'Wiped off the Map' – The Rumor of the Century

Word by word translation:
Imam (Khomeini) ghoft (said) een (this) rezhim-e (regime) ishghalgar-e (occupying) qods (Jerusalem) bayad (must) az safheh-ye ruzgar (from page of time) mahv shavad (vanish from).

In his speech, Ahmadinejad declares that Zionism is the West's apparatus of political oppression against Muslims. He says the "Zionist regime" was imposed on the Islamic world as a strategic bridgehead to ensure domination of the region and its assets. Palestine, he insists, is the frontline of the Islamic world's struggle with American hegemony, and its fate will have repercussions for the entire Middle East.

Ahmadinejad acknowledges that the removal of America's powerful grip on the region via the Zionists may seem unimaginable to some, but reminds the audience that, as Khomeini predicted, other seemingly invincible empires have disappeared and now only exist in history books. He then proceeds to list three such regimes that have collapsed, crumbled or vanished, all within the last 30 years:
(1) The Shah of Iran – the U.S. installed monarch
(2) The Soviet Union
(3) Iran's former arch-enemy, Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein

In the first and third examples, Ahmadinejad prefaces their mention with Khomeini's own words foretelling that individual regime's demise. He concludes by referring to Khomeini's unfulfilled wish: "The Imam said this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time. This statement is very wise." This is the passage that has been isolated, twisted and distorted so famously. By measure of comparison, Ahmadinejad would seem to be calling for regime change, not war.

6. A corporation is the same thing as an individual human
Oddly enough a US judge delivered a verdict on this very point in 1841, and took the trouble to point out that his decision served as a judicial precedent to be followed in any later legal proceedings, that the rights and privileges conferred on human persons by the constitution could not be applied to corporations or other groups of people, so that the right to be free of search and seizure, for example, the right to bear arms, the right to petition the government for redress of grievances embodied in the various amendments (the Bill of Rights) could apply only to people, never to corporations or groups of people.

Unfortunately for everyone the judgment was circumvented or otherwise ignored and the current situation is that corporations have all the rights intended by the constitution to apply to people, you know, two arms, two legs, body, and head, well, more or less.

When the government of Canada was facing a vote of no confidence in Parliament in December 2008, which it was certain to lose, which event normally results in an election for a new government, it took the unusual step of calling on the representative of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II to dissolve Parliament. Queen Elizabeth is the sovereign of Canada as well as Great Britain, since Canada is a member of the Commonwealth, and her representative was able therefore to grant the request and Parliament was immediately dissolved. No Parliament, but the government is still the government, and has not lost a vote of confidence.

The petition of the Chagossians, the inhabitants of the island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, for redress and reversal of their expulsion from their island by the British and placement in refugee camps for fifty years while their island was handed by the British to the US to establish a military base there, was granted by various courts on a number of occasions. When the final appeal to the highest court possible, the House of Lords, against this judgement was also denied, an “Order in Council” was made to deny the Chagossians the right of return to their island.

What was the first thing Mayor Bloomberg of NY did after amending the constitution on term limits to allow him a third term? “New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said his administration wouldn’t send $400 property-tax rebate checks due this month to owners of apartments and houses because the slowing economy threatens to worsen a widening budget gap.” Reneging on your debts and obligations is the first thing you do.

This is the process referred to in the famous expression “You can’t fight City Hall,” meaning that even if your case is clear and legal and correct, the local war lords will invent a law to deny your case if none already exists.

There is however a very serious danger in demonstrating contempt for the law. After all if no one else takes the law seriously, why should you, or anybody else? The successful crowd takeovers in Greece and Thailand and the unsuccessful one in Burma (Myanmar) may be precursors of many more.

And there is a vast range of laws the local warlords have made. The common habit of burying the afterbirth in a child’s birthplace may have a mystical or merely sentimental effect, though harmless in any case, but it will certainly be denied if you have your baby in any western institution under the warlords’ control, since ownership of your own body, like the right to end your life if you choose, is not something the warlords are willing to grant. Foods and drinks you are allowed to consume and at what age, actions you may or may not perform with your lower body, information you are allowed to know about, the list is literally endless.

"Things are in the saddle and ride mankind." Walt Whitman

7. Technology is a modern invention
Quite untrue. Really useful bits of technology, like earthenware pots kept on the terrace that hold deliciously cool water are commonplace, as is the Eskimo igloo built of ice blocks for survival. It is not necessary to know that the slight ooze of water through the earthenware produces a drop in temperature as it evaporates in the heat, nor how the body heat of the occupiers can build up quite a cozy warmth in the igloo to profit from either. “It’s the poor who are the gainers,” says the Daily Reckoning, tougher, more used to deprivation and without investments to lose.

No one expected very much from the G - 20 meeting weekend before last but at least the wrong message might have been avoided. Vague as the statements of the president were, his expectation of "growth" was spectacularly wrong, given the UN description of the current situation, which no one has disputed, "that an entire second planet Earth is required merely to keep our present living standards where they are now." One would hope that the Haitian diet of mud cakes to quell hunger pangs do not become our fate, but "growth" is not on the menu without a second and third planet Earth available to feed the greed.

All informed opinion knows that we have long passed the tipping point for climate change and we can no longer have any effect on what happens in the next fifty years. In addition, for the last eight years a gentleman from the PI (Petroleum Institute) has been editing out all references to climate change in government documents, while the amount of carbon pumped into the atmosphere has been rising enormously each year, and the Siberian tundra, frozen for the last eleven thousand years, is now melting, releasing large amounts of methane – approximately twenty times as damaging as carbon – into the atmosphere. Below is a report on the conference on global warming at Exeter University. That was in the summer and there’s another in Poznan at the moment. More agonized handwringing, and disasters certain.

“At a high-level academic conference on global warming at Exeter University this summer, climate scientist Kevin Anderson stood before his expert audience and contemplated a strange feeling. He wanted to be wrong. Many of those in the room who knew what he was about to say felt the same. His conclusions had already caused a stir in scientific and political circles. Even committed green campaigners said the implications left them terrified.

“Anderson, an expert at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at Manchester University, was about to send the gloomiest dispatch yet from the frontline of the war against climate change.

“Despite the political rhetoric, the scientific warnings, the media headlines and the corporate promises, he would say, carbon emissions were soaring way out of control - far above even the bleak scenarios considered by last year's report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the Stern review. The battle against dangerous climate change had been lost, and the world needed to prepare for things to get very, very bad.

"As an academic I wanted to be told that it was a very good piece of work and that the conclusions were sound," Anderson said. "But as a human being I desperately wanted someone to point out a mistake, and to tell me we had got it completely wrong."

“Nobody did. The cream of the UK climate science community sat in stunned silence as Anderson pointed out that carbon emissions since 2000 have risen much faster than anyone thought possible, driven mainly by the coal-fuelled economic boom in the developing world. So much extra pollution is being pumped out, he said, that most of the climate targets debated by politicians and campaigners are fanciful at best, and "dangerously misguided" at worst.” David Adam The Guardian, Tuesday December 9 2008

Dec 4, 2008

The mechanics of money

If you have a hundred dollars in your bank account, it is probably not earning interest, and if you leave it there, it will probably earn nothing except the grudging admission of your bank that you are, for the moment, still solvent.

If you take your hundred dollars out, however, and spend it on groceries, something quite amazing happens. The grocery store owner has an extra hundred dollars, he pays off his suppliers with $25 and places a new order, his staff receives $25 in pay which they spend, his wife buys a new dress for $25, the dress store orders another dress, and so on. Your hundred dollars is spent many times over, exactly how many times depending only on the speed of its passing on. Your humble hundred dollars, by virtue of the velocity of money, the speed at which everyone else receives it and spends it, has produced two thousand dollars of spending. This is what happens in a normally functioning economy, a healthy commercial state.

Note that ownership changes constantly. It is no longer "your" hundred dollars as soon as you have exchanged it for groceries (it belongs to the grocery store) but it remains quite clear and trackable (though a hundred thousand dollars would be better for real trackability) that it is the same hundred dollars, constantly changing ownership.

The calculation of a country’s GDP, its gross domestic product, or all the goods and services that country produces, is equally simple: take the total amount of cash in the country, and multiply it by velocity, that is, take all the money being spent on groceries, car repair, payments from abroad, and multiply it by the speed at which it goes round, since the same money can be spent many times over as people receive it and pass it on.

Now imagine that being unemployed, or suspecting that you soon might be, you decide to hang on to your hundred dollars in preparation for possible hard times ahead. Imagine further that the grocery store, noting that sales are slowing down, decides to build up its cash, cut orders to the wholesalers, and lay off some of its staff; imagine that your bank, worried about some unmarketable securities it has on the books from its last president, and unsure whether two or three other banks it deals with might not be going under quite soon, and all loans to them will be lost, also decides to hang on to as much cash as possible; and finally imagine that the government of the country, noting that its revenues are falling, its cities and farms are in trouble and demanding help, and no one is buying what it exports, takes the painful decision to welsh on some of its promises of aid to worthy causes, delays all rebates due, cancels a lot of expensive projects, even wonders about seizing some private assets on dubious grounds, and generally re-adjusts to being a much poorer country, which they are, of course: their GDP, the amount of goods and services produced in a whole year by the entire country has shrunk enormously, and is now much much smaller, most of it no longer being multiplied by anything except one, since its citizens, its municipalities, its financial and commercial institutions, and the other countries that are its trading partners are all tightly clutching their hundred dollars, fearful of the future and suspicious of any attempts to have them spend it.

This is called the credit crunch.

Dec 3, 2008

Bare not thine ear

“Bare not thine ear to that terrestrial sun, nor kiss thy hand unto its servitude.” Sir Thomas Browne

Mr. Obama, president elect of the USA, is legally and by ‘due process’ captain of the ship of state from January 20, 2009. His campaign was very effectively run down to the smallest details, and no reason is visible for possible objections to his victory. Since the US spends more on “Defense,” i.e., the military, than all the rest of the world put together, his declared intention greatly to increase military spending is perhaps the most ominous of many indications of policy direction.

Airlines instruct their passengers that in the event of emergency, parents with children should ensure their own oxygen mask supply first, before seeing to that of the child. Odd as that sounds, its practical benefits are obvious. If the parent passes out, the child can not take charge and save the situation. Similarly, the future captain of the ship of state must safeguard his own survival first. Quite apart from the many threats of assassination openly expressed by attendees at opposition rallies, the survival of his administration, of the team, is also primary, and his strategy is equally direct and effective, to recruit as many of the potential opposition as possible into the team, where they enjoy some of the fruits of power, and have some effect on policy, (the carrot), but are always under direction and can be dismissed and replaced at any time (the stick.)

President Nixon, discovering that the liabilities and debts of the country exceeded its gold holdings by a large margin, rescinded the promise made to redeem all dollars for gold. He took the country off the gold standard, in spite of the constitution’s provision that all money shall only be of gold and silver.

No such animal exists in the United States as a federal election. All elections, including those for federal office such as presidential elections, are held by the separate states under the very different rules of each state. No matter how great the interest of federal authorities in the outcome, they have no place in the process. The decision of the Supreme Court, therefore, of 2000, to halt the Florida recount was entirely unconstitutional.

It may seem a very weak argument to point to the constitution, but without it any authority in the country is no greater than that of any other war lord in history, surrounded by wolves eager to take his place. “A piece of paper” President Bush contemptuously called it, but without that piece of paper, the captain has no map to steer by, no chart showing the reefs and shallows, the lighthouses and the wind directions, nor even where or why he sails. He rules by whim and by force, and any bo’sun’s mate who thinks he can do better is free to replace him if he can.

Since the 2000 election the USA has had the “unitary presidency,” (i.e., the president as effective dictator, the sole source of power in the state, able to legislate which laws he will not obey by presidential “signing statements”) foreshadowed by Nixon. Since that time the statement that the USA has a government not of men but of laws has been a visibly empty one, and men, moreover, such as “Scooter” Libby, “Duke” Cunningham, and Jack Abramov, to mention only a few.

In preparing to take the wheel, therefore, and take the vast ship into a long turn, it is a matter of basic prudence to have all hands continue, as much as possible, to carry out their familiar duties. Some selective replacements can be made later if needed, but nothing would be more disastrous than throwing the engine suddenly into reverse, or more certain to generate massive opposition than replacing the entire crew with sailors unfamiliar with the vessel.

That’s the theory, anyhow.

In foreign policy intelligence is irreplaceable. (Long live the retort to Bush’s “I had faulty intelligence” – “DNA is a bitch!”) Mr. Obama’s knowledge in this area is exceptional, indeed better than any American politician’s for hundreds of years, and also the source of the most intense opposition. Nevertheless, certain aspects of a red and angry boil, a swollen pustule on the verge of erupting, in an area unfamiliar to him, may not have been sufficiently considered.

Many countries have “tribal areas” which they leave severely alone, and some countries like Papua New Guinea are entirely composed of them. The largest tribal group on earth, some forty million in number, are the Pathans (Pashtuns) divided into roughly equal portions, twenty million on each side, by a line drawn by a nineteenth century British administrator in probably the toughest environment on earth, the mountains of the Hindu Kush. (See of February 2008, “Pathan.”)

The Pathans of Afghanistan have this in common with their fellow tribesmen living on the other side of the line in Pakistan, that most of them do not know about the line drawn by the British gentleman over a hundred years ago, and neither do they care. No Pakistani government has ever been able to do anything about them other than leave them severely alone, although it is true that the ISI, the Inter Services Intelligence agency, an “empire within an empire,” has successfully supported, indeed almost created, the Taliban movement. To the question whether the Musharraf government knew of the ISI involvement the reply was given “He is very careful not to know about it,” and that remains a necessary condition of any Pakistani government, no matter “How different, how very different, from the home life of our own dear queen” that situation may be.

This situation is not going to change no matter how many trillion dollars are borrowed and spent on the US military, nor is any war against them going to be successful.

Note: India has ignored for many years a UN resolution that a referendum should be held in Kashmir for the inhabitants to declare whether they wished to join India, join Pakistan, or perhaps opt for complete independence of both. India has always refused to hold this referendum for the very obvious reason that it has no chance of winning it; Kashmiris might vote for independence or union with Pakistan, but clearly they are highly unlikely to vote for joining India.

India is therefore justly hoist with its own petard. The suppurating pustule which is Kashmir is created by India’s refusal to hold a referendum. The Lashkar e Taiba (Army of the Righteous) from Kashmir which is apparently responsible for the attack on Mumbai is only one result of the increasing pressure; there are likely to be more. Similarly, the recent request by the Indian Defense Ministry to the United States to fast track its previous order of $375 million worth of cluster bombs is an ominous indicator of its possible intentions.

Next time the video turns up of the one captured terrorist, incidentally, take a look at his right wrist, with a red bracelet round it, definitely a Hindu, not a Moslem, habit. The nationalistic Hindutva movement is even more determined to cleanse India ethnically by any means necessary and make it a “pure” Hindu state than the Moslems of Kashmir are determined to get the Hindus out.

Seventy five per cent of supplies for US forces pass through the Hindu Kush and Napoleon’s dictum that an army marches on its stomach remains valid. The last time the Taliban tried to close the US supply route they only succeeded for a few hours. Their next attempt, as winter takes a grip, is likely to be longer.

Dec 2, 2008

Kenya Justice

Justice approaches in Kenya

Politicians who orchestrated last year's post-election violence fear they will end up in court at The Hague by Santuri Mwanga, Monday November 24 2008 15.32 GMT

When Kenya erupted into chaos after the 2007 presidential election, the country and some of its leaders were so consumed in the dynamics of the ugly tribal war that they never paused to think of the consequences.

Some were quoted in live news broadcasts threatening even more dire action. Others went on air on popular radio stations calling for the extermination of members of certain communities.
At the time, it looked like the whole country would spiral into a Rwanda-like situation – and therefore some leaders let down their guard and became full-blown jingoists.

They called for international mediation and played up to the foreign media gallery, insisting that the election dispute and the resultant clashes could only be solved by outside means.

And so the then United Nations secretary general, Kofi Annan, brokered a peaceful settlement resulting in a coalition government, in which the main protagonists of the bloody theatre, incumbent president Mwai Kibaki and his fierce rival for the presidency, Raila Odinga agreed to share power.

Annan also recommended, among other measures, the setting-up of a commission of inquiry into the post-election chaos. The president duly approved the step and at the time, politicians thought it was a good idea. But when its chairman, Justice Philip Waki, presented his findings on October 17 and implicated top politicians from both sides of the divide – the Orange Democratic Movement and the Party of National Unity, headed by Raila and Kibaki respectively – it dawned on them that things might not be as rosy as they expected.

The Waki report recommended that at least 10 suspects in the clashes be tried at a tribunal to bet set up within 60 days of the report being made public – failing which, a secret envelope, which was in the custody of Annan, would be handed over to the International Criminal Court at The Hague.

Now, a fierce debate has erupted over whether the report should be implemented. For politicians have realised that those named in the report are not ordinary Kenyans. They are key figures in the coalition government.

Although no one knows for sure what the Annan envelope really contains, it is now public knowledge that it contains at least the name of the minister for agriculture, William Ruto – who is considered to be the man who rallied massive support for ODM – and the de facto leader of the Kalenjin community and the deputy prime minister, Uhuru Kenyatta, who is considered to be the most eminent leader of the Kikuyu community after Kibaki. It also contains the names of key allies of Kibaki and Odinga.

Raila, in whose name many people believe the skirmishes happened (they used to sing, "No Raila, no peace") has been supportive of the Waki report. But he has found himself running into a maelstrom of opposition from his ODM party, which dismisses the report as containing "incurable errors". Ruto himself has vociferously dismissed the report and corralled his supporters to do the same. The effect has been that ODM, once seen as a fearsome monolith, is now in danger of splitting.

Uhuru has acknowledged that his name may be on the secret envelope. But he has justified his alleged misdeeds. He has said that what he did was meant to help internally displaced persons, most of whom were from his Kikuyu community. Given a similar situation, he said last week, he would do the same.

The cabinet is said to be split down the middle over the report. Most feel that if it were to be implemented, it would sound the death knell for the eight-month old coalition. Others feel that to end the culture of impunity, those implicated in the report must be brought to book. And many Kenyans want it implemented to serve as a warning to future warmongers.

Early this week ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo said that the ICC was ready to try the suspects if Kenya does not do so. It is slowly dawning on the politicians who oppose the report that whether the country sets up a tribunal or not, the international trial at The Hague will happen. It is giving them sleepless nights.

Dec 1, 2008

Let Detroit Go Bankrupt

Op-Ed Contributor, New York Times, 19 November, 2008
Let Detroit Go Bankrupt, By MITT ROMNEY, Boston

IF General Motors, Ford and Chrysler get the bailout that their chief executives asked for yesterday, you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye. It won’t go overnight, but its demise will be virtually guaranteed.

Without that bailout, Detroit will need to drastically restructure itself. With it, the automakers will stay the course — the suicidal course of declining market shares, insurmountable labor and retiree burdens, technology atrophy, product inferiority and never-ending job losses. Detroit needs a turnaround, not a check.

I love cars, American cars. I was born in Detroit, the son of an auto chief executive. In 1954, my dad, George Romney, was tapped to run American Motors when its president suddenly died. The company itself was on life support — banks were threatening to deal it a death blow. The stock collapsed. I watched Dad work to turn the company around — and years later at business school, they were still talking about it. From the lessons of that turnaround, and from my own experiences, I have several prescriptions for Detroit’s automakers.

First, their huge disadvantage in costs relative to foreign brands must be eliminated. That means new labor agreements to align pay and benefits to match those of workers at competitors like BMW, Honda, Nissan and Toyota. Furthermore, retiree benefits must be reduced so that the total burden per auto for domestic makers is not higher than that of foreign producers.
That extra burden is estimated to be more than $2,000 per car. Think what that means: Ford, for example, needs to cut $2,000 worth of features and quality out of its Taurus to compete with Toyota’s Avalon. Of course the Avalon feels like a better product — it has $2,000 more put into it. Considering this disadvantage, Detroit has done a remarkable job of designing and engineering its cars. But if this cost penalty persists, any bailout will only delay the inevitable.

Second, management as is must go. New faces should be recruited from unrelated industries — from companies widely respected for excellence in marketing, innovation, creativity and labor relations.

The new management must work with labor leaders to see that the enmity between labor and management comes to an end. This division is a holdover from the early years of the last century, when unions brought workers job security and better wages and benefits. But as Walter Reuther, the former head of the United Automobile Workers, said to my father, “Getting more and more pay for less and less work is a dead-end street.”

You don’t have to look far for industries with unions that went down that road. Companies in the 21st century cannot perpetuate the destructive labor relations of the 20th. This will mean a new direction for the U.A.W., profit sharing or stock grants to all employees and a change in Big Three management culture.

The need for collaboration will mean accepting sanity in salaries and perks. At American Motors, my dad cut his pay and that of his executive team, he bought stock in the company, and he went out to factories to talk to workers directly. Get rid of the planes, the executive dining rooms — all the symbols that breed resentment among the hundreds of thousands who will also be sacrificing to keep the companies afloat.

Investments must be made for the future. No more focus on quarterly earnings or the kind of short-term stock appreciation that means quick riches for executives with options. Manage with an eye on cash flow, balance sheets and long-term appreciation. Invest in truly competitive products and innovative technologies — especially fuel-saving designs — that may not arrive for years. Starving research and development is like eating the seed corn.

Just as important to the future of American carmakers is the sales force. When sales are down, you don’t want to lose the only people who can get them to grow. So don’t fire the best dealers, and don’t crush them with new financial or performance demands they can’t meet.

It is not wrong to ask for government help, but the automakers should come up with a win-win proposition. I believe the federal government should invest substantially more in basic research — on new energy sources, fuel-economy technology, materials science and the like — that will ultimately benefit the automotive industry, along with many others. I believe Washington should raise energy research spending to $20 billion a year, from the $4 billion that is spent today. The research could be done at universities, at research labs and even through public-private collaboration. The federal government should also rectify the imbedded tax penalties that favor foreign carmakers.

But don’t ask Washington to give shareholders and bondholders a free pass — they bet on management and they lost.

The American auto industry is vital to our national interest as an employer and as a hub for manufacturing. A managed bankruptcy may be the only path to the fundamental restructuring the industry needs. It would permit the companies to shed excess labor, pension and real estate costs. The federal government should provide guarantees for post-bankruptcy financing and assure car buyers that their warranties are not at risk.

In a managed bankruptcy, the federal government would propel newly competitive and viable automakers, rather than seal their fate with a bailout check.

Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, was a candidate for this year’s Republican presidential nomination.


Wahyusamputra recommends a small historical matter to your thoughtful attention:
In 1921 a severe financial crisis occurred in the USA. The government of the time did absolutely nothing to help any of the companies in trouble but left them to go bankrupt and disappear. Within less than a year the economy righted itself, new companies appeared that exploited the new situation, and you would now find it difficult to find even a mention of the episode in history books. By contrast, entire libraries describe the great depression of 1929. Huge multiple government programs failed to revive the economy until the entry into World War 2 did it for them.

Nov 17, 2008

Letter to Coral

Cleaning out the four figure items in my sent messages folder, I came across one from you “What is a media whore?” and it occurs to me a few examples might be useful.

America has the tightest press control I’ve ever seen anywhere, with the BBC in full cooperation. Even the Pakistanis are allowed to know when their leader is being impeached, but after two three hour sessions in the Senate drawing up a bill of impeachment of Bush, and previously of Cheney, no whisper of this has been allowed in the TV news, the print media, i.e., the newspapers, or by any of the candidates in the election, with the full cooperation of the BBC.

It’s the fact that only the paid hacks (i.e., whores) of the news media, TV, papers, Internet, are ever given any reporting time that allows this to happen.

Rafik Hariri was a typical and very real Lebanese patriot, using his great wealth to rebuild the country. Israel has him assassinated without much trouble, got Syria blamed for it with the help of the above whores, got a Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon forced by the western powers, which left Lebanon helpless against the Israeli invasion and the dropping of one million cluster bombs to make ordinary life and agriculture almost impossible. (You may remember Blair and Condy Rice saying No, no, no cease fire, let it go on for a few more days to clean out the rats nest.) The fact that Olmert made such a dog’s dinner of the Israeli invasion, being better at pocketing bribes than running wars, doesn’t change that.

A declared Israeli aim, supported by the Americans, is to establish an Israeli air base in the north of Lebanon, near Tripoli, which is why the really hard fighting has been going on there in the refugee camp where the base is supposed to go.

Names are always important, which is why Hamas, who won the Palestinian election in a landslide, are always referred to as “Palestinian militants,” never as the freely elected Palestinian government, which is what they are. Only the losers of that election are allowed to turn up at international gatherings and be called “Palestinian leaders.”

McCain did propaganda broadcasts for the Viet Cong to get himself released from the prison camp. No one is allowed to mention this. The Reverend Jeremiah Wright, an ex Navy Seal (special operations operative) and Vietnam veteran, on the other hand, who insists loud and clear it is America that is the bad actor throughout the world, is attacked so hard that Obama, who used to attend his church, is forced to disown him.

Here’s how it works. The comedian Bill Maher had a satirical weekly program, “Politically Incorrect,” on one of which he asked a guest how the US pilots, dropping satellite guided bombs on pre selected targets before turning to go home, could be regarded as more brave than the 911 team flying planes into buildings knowing their own death would result. Ridiculous!

The corporations insisted that Bill Maher be fired and the program terminated, threatening to withdraw their advertising. MSNBC had no realistic alternative to complying – without advertising the program had no income.

Bill Maher joined the ranks of non persons, still occasionally invited as a guest on various programs, since he remained more accurate and funnier than anyone else, but essentially unemployed and unemployable.

What he said was obvious, but nationalists have no interest in logic or the obvious. Only American soldiers are ‘brave’ whatever they do. Their opponents are always cowardly and deluded.

That Americans are forced to pay for the rubbish on their TV, but have no say in what goes on it, is as irrelevant as that nationalism is only the longer form of Nazi, "Die Nazionalistische Sozialistische Partei," or National Socialists. The principles of Dr. Goebbels, minister of propaganda to Mr. Schickelgrubr, that whether something is true or not, even whether it is obvious nonsense, does not matter, are in control. If it is repeated often enough everyone will believe it passionately.

Is Obama going to be any different? Not known yet, but probably not.

Obama’s African background is that he’s a Luo, the minority tribe in Kenya, where the Kikuyu are the ruling majority, and he also has lengthy experience of Indonesia. (Until Germany has a Turk as chancellor, or France has an Algerian president, that’s a much needed demonstration that things can happen in America that Europe is too hidebound and sclerotic to allow.)

If you think about how you would survive as a Luo, you get a clear picture of Obama’s strategy.

A picture of what NOT to do is Aung Sang Suu Ki in Burma (Myanmar), where several critics have pointed out that her dogged persistence has resulted in twenty years of nothing happening; the generals have got stronger, thousands are slaughtered, only an invasion of the country by the western powers can achieve any results, but the western powers are too concerned with keeping their snouts in the trough to do any such thing. Air strikes on wedding parties in Afghanistan, the poorest country in the world, to keep open the dream of western control of central Asia and its oil and gas pipelines is more in their line.

Obama has done what Aung Sang Su Ki might have done and didn’t, gone along with the generals, agreed with all the crap they presented, formed an alliance with them, elbowed her way to a seat at the table, and started slowly to support harmless looking but different initiatives, including strong links outside the country.

Obama’s main danger remains assassination, the American way, openly supported by many at McCain/Palin rallies, and the hinting at which finished Hillary’s campaign. Even the secret service can’t completely guard against that. The Luo way of survival is to recruit your main opponents into your government, giving them a place at the trough, so that they have more reason NOT to kill you, since they might not have as good a deal without you there.

That’s why the first appointment was with the most dangerous of opponents, the Israeli Mossad guy as head of staff, controlling who gets to see you and who doesn’t, and he’s now perhaps recruiting Hillary as head of the State Department, and maybe McCain for something else. If all your enemies have got places in your government, maybe that makes you as safe as you can be, and exerting as much control over them as possible.

As Lincoln said of a general he didn’t like but wanted on his side “It’s better to have him inside the tent pissing out, than outside the tent pissing in.”

Nov 12, 2008

The China connection

The China connection to Goldman Sachs figures prominently in the current crisis.

Fed Covers Up Financial Crisis By Cliff Kincaid Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The China connection to Goldman Sachs figures prominently in the current crisis. Because China owned $376 billion of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae paper, it played a big role in the financial crisis, and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, with his own personal and financial ties to China, admittedly tried to reassure the Chinese through this process that their investments would be protected. They are being “protected” in the sense that the American taxpayers are now on the hook for these government mortgage companies, which have been nationalized.

On top of this, Paulson, a former CEO of Goldman Sachs, made sure, as part of the bailout legislation, that he could bail out Chinese banks holding other troubled U.S. assets.

Schiff, who blows the whistle on these schemes, is not very popular in the media, which have been telling us consistently that things would get better after Wall Street was bailed out. But Schiff was on Bloomberg on October 28 talking about how the problems will get worse if we continue to follow the current tax, spend and bailout policies. His basic message is that the U.S. is broke and that the situation will get worse under an Obama Administration because of its commitment to more federal interference and involvement in the economy.

Nevertheless, during this discussion, a week before the election, Schiff predicted an Obama victory because “nobody is going to vote for four more years of this” and voters “are going to grasp at straws and vote for anybody who promises change.” But the change is phony, he warned. Obama “will put several nails in the coffin,” he said. “We’re going to get more of the same, only worse.”

Leaving aside the $1.8 trillion cost of the bailout and other socialist-style schemes that have been undertaken in the current crisis, the Peter G. Peterson Foundation reports that the total federal burden on U.S. taxpayers is now approaching $54 trillion―a cost of $175,000 per person.

The Peterson Foundation seeks to educate the public and the press about the U.S. financial situation. It’s fine to educate people. But what about prosecuting those federal officials who brought the U.S. to the brink of financial apocalypse?

During an October 13 Fox News discussion of the mismanaged companies now going bankrupt or seeking federal bailouts, the subject of prosecuting somebody actually came up. Host Jaime Colby asked, “Where are the criminal prosecutions because I think their pictures should be hanging up in the post office?”

Schiff, a guest on the show, went beyond the corporate executives and urged the prosecution of former Federal Reserve Board chairman Alan Greenspan, the husband of NBC News correspondent Andrea Mitchell, who told the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on October 23 that he had “made a mistake” in his stewardship of the economy. This is after he received an $8.5 million advance on his 2007 memoir, The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World.

This is quite an adventure.

In March, as the mortgage crisis was beginning to build, noted that Mitchell had done a story conveniently ignoring her husband’s role in the unfolding debacle. Greenspan and Mitchell are a Washington “power couple,” which means they have plenty of social contacts who help protect them from criticism or even scrutiny. This is how Washington works.

This crisis has conflict of interest written all over it, not only in regard to media coverage but the role of current and former Goldman Sachs executives, including the Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, who sparked the panic and has since authorized $10 billion in bailout money to his old firm. Neel Kashkari, a former Goldman Sachs banker, now runs the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) authorized under the bailout plan.

As bad as it is, the situation could get far worse. At the House hearing, Rep. Jim Cooper, a more conservative Democrat from Tennessee, brandished a copy of the official Financial Report of the United States Government, which outlines the $54 trillion fiscal gap, primarily unfunded liabilities, that America faces if the government doesn’t change course. “Why is this document so hidden? Because it contains such bad news,” Cooper said. “On your watch,” he said to Greenspan and the other witnesses, “did you do anything to publicize this report, to make sure that everybody in America knew the real story about the real numbers for America?”

The answers were pathetic. Greenspan replied that he had tried to get the information inserted into the government’s “forecasting structure,” whatever that is. The “solutions,” of course, included much higher taxes, massive benefit cuts, the printing of more Federal Reserve paper money, or national bankruptcy.

Our “adversary” media have been extremely deferential toward those promoting the looting of the American taxpayers during the ongoing economic and financial crisis. However, Bloomberg News should be congratulated for filing suit against the Federal Reserve in an effort to disclose the securities the central bank is accepting on behalf of American taxpayers as collateral for $1.5 trillion of loans to banks such as Goldman Sachs.

“The American taxpayer is entitled to know the risks, costs and methodology associated with the unprecedented government bailout of the U.S. financial industry,” said Matthew Winkler, the editor-in-chief of Bloomberg News.

Another way that the media can begin to fix the blame for the financial meltdown is to cover the views of those who predicted the crisis and understand how it happened.

Consider watching this video ( of a debate that financial analyst Peter Schiff had with Arthur Laffer on CNBC back on August 29, 2006. Schiff predicted the deep recession that is now underway and made mention of China’s role in our unfolding economic troubles. Laffer’s talk about our economic policies “working beautifully” makes him look utterly ridiculous in today’s climate. “The United States economy has never been in better shape,” he declared.

Wahyusamputra writes: The bald headed one with the rimless glasses of the three stooges - “Curly” would be a good name - currently in charge of the US economy and carefully shielded from any possible interference, was previously the head of Goldman, Sachs, the investment or “merchant” bankers.

In this capacity, he personally invented and promoted the technique of encouraging poverty-stricken borrowers to fabricate income on their applications, be given mortgages they could never hope to pay, roll these “sub prime,” i.e., less than acceptable, mortgages into huge bundles of CDO’s (Collaterized Debt Obligations), and sell these world wide to investors who wanted to invest in the US property market.

Like his fellow stooge “Helicopter Ben” Bernanke, so called from his utterly brilliant suggestion that bundles of hundred dollar bills could be dropped from helicopters to the US population to take care of any monetary difficulties, Mr. Paulson, secretary of the Treasury, is one of the US leaders that Mr. Barak Obama, US president elect, a Luo from the Kikuyu majority country of Kenya, is being pressured to keep in his new administration to ensure continuity.
Experience of minority status encourages caution and careful conservation of energy and resources, and Mr. Obama has so far made no promises about which of the Bush administration heavies he is willing to keep. Mr. Robert Gates, the Defense secretary, is another that he is being maneuvered to keep on.
The state of world trade can be guessed from the fact that certain bulk cargo carrying vessels, costing $234,000 per day in June, now cost $4,200 per day. The shares of General Motors are predicted to become worthless in a short time, reasonable since no one has the cash or desire to purchase the acres of cars standing unsold. The wisdom of projected moves to put money into the company remains opaque. Credit card companies, like American Express, are being allowed to call themselves banks, in order to qualify them for government aid packages to banks.

Here is the picture painted by James Kunstler of the Daily Reckoning:

“Russia …exerts substantial financial leverage over the U.S. in all the dollars and securitized U.S. debt paper it holds. In effect, Russia can shake the U.S. banking system at will now by threatening to dump its dollar holdings.

"The American banking system may not need a shove from Russia to fall on its face. It’s effectively dead now, just lurching around zombie-like from one loan “window” to the next pretending to “borrow” capital – while handing over shreds of its moldy clothing as “collateral” to the Federal Reserve. The entire US, beyond the banks, is becoming a land of the walking dead. Business is dying, home-ownership has become a death dance, whole regions are turning into wastelands of “for sale” signs, empty parking lots, vacant buildings, and dashed hopes.”
The UN reports that an entire second planet Earth is required merely to keep our present living standards where they are now. We have only the one planet Earth. Letting the major dinosaurs go over the cliff is to cut our coat according to our cloth.

Nov 5, 2008

Irish slaves
The Slaves That Time Forgot - They Were White and They Were Slaves By John Martin

They came as slaves; vast human cargo transported on tall British ships bound for the Americas.

They were shipped by the hundreds of thousands and included men, women, and even the youngest of children.

Whenever they rebelled or even disobeyed an order, they were punished in the harshest ways. Slave owners would hang their human property by their hands and set their hands or feet on fire as one form of punishment. They were burned alive and had their heads placed on pikes in the marketplace as a warning to other captives.

We don’t really need to go through all of the gory details, do we? After all, we know all too well the atrocities of the African slave trade. But, are we talking about African slavery?

King James II and Charles I led a continued effort to enslave the Irish. Britain’s famed Oliver Cromwell furthered this practice of dehumanizing one’s next door neighbor.

The Irish slave trade began when James II sold 30,000 Irish prisoners as slaves to the New World. His Proclamation of 1625 required Irish political prisoners be sent overseas and sold to English settlers in the West Indies. By the mid 1600s, the Irish were the main slaves sold to Antigua and Montserrat. At that time, 70% of the total population of Montserrat were Irish slaves.

Ireland quickly became the biggest source of human livestock for English merchants. The majority of the early slaves to the New World were actually white.

From 1641 to 1652, over 500,000 Irish were killed by the English and another 300,000 were sold as slaves. Ireland’s population fell from about 1,500,000 to 600,000 in one single decade. Families were ripped apart as the British did not allow Irish dads to take their wives and children with them across the Atlantic. This led to a helpless population of homeless women and children. Britain’s solution was to auction them off as well.

During the 1650s, over 100,000 Irish children between the ages of 10 and 14 were taken from their parents and sold as slaves in the West Indies, Virginia and New England. In this decade, 52,000 Irish (mostly women and children) were sold to Barbados and Virginia. Another 30,000 Irish men and women were also transported and sold to the highest bidder. In 1656, Cromwell ordered that 2000 Irish children be taken to Jamaica and sold as slaves to English settlers.

Many people today will avoid calling the Irish slaves what they truly were: Slaves. They’ll come up with terms like “Indentured Servants” to describe what occurred to the Irish. However, in most cases from the 17th and 18th centuries, Irish slaves were nothing more than human cattle.

As an example, the African slave trade was just beginning during this same period. It is well recorded that African slaves, not tainted with the stain of the hated Catholic theology and more expensive to purchase, were often treated far better than their Irish counterparts.

African slaves were very expensive during the late 1600s (50 Sterling). Irish slaves came cheap (no more than 5 Sterling). If a planter whipped or branded or beat an Irish slave to death, it was never a crime. A death was a monetary setback, but far cheaper than killing a more expensive African.

The English masters quickly began breeding the Irish women for both their own personal pleasure and for greater profit. Children of slaves were themselves slaves, which increased the size of the master’s free workforce. Even if an Irish woman somehow obtained her freedom, her kids would remain slaves of her master. Thus, Irish moms, even with this new found emancipation, would seldom abandon their kids and would remain in servitude.

In time, the English thought of a better way to use these women (in many cases, girls as young as 12) to increase their market share: The settlers began to breed Irish women and girls with African men to produce slaves with a distinct complexion. These new “mulatto” slaves brought a higher price than Irish livestock and, likewise, enabled the settlers to save money rather than purchase new African slaves.

This practice of interbreeding Irish females with African men went on for several decades and was so widespread that, in 1681, legislation was passed “forbidding the practice of mating Irish slave women to African slave men for the purpose of producing slaves for sale.” In short, it was stopped only because it interfered with the profits of a large slave transport company.

England continued to ship tens of thousands of Irish slaves for more than a century. Records state that, after the 1798 Irish Rebellion, thousands of Irish slaves were sold to both America and Australia.

There were horrible abuses of both African and Irish captives. One British ship even dumped 1,302 slaves into the Atlantic Ocean so that the crew would have plenty of food to eat.

There is little question that the Irish experienced the horrors of slavery as much (if not more in the 17th Century) as the Africans did. There is, also, very little question that those brown, tanned faces you witness in your travels to the West Indies are very likely a combination of African and Irish ancestry.

In 1839, Britain finally decided on its own to end its participation in Satan’s highway to hell and stopped transporting slaves. While their decision did not stop pirates from doing what they desired, the new law slowly concluded THIS chapter of nightmarish Irish misery.

But, if anyone, black or white, believes that slavery was only an African experience, then they’ve got it completely wrong.

Irish slavery is a subject worth remembering, not erasing from our memories. But, where are our public (and PRIVATE) schools???? Where are the history books? Why is it so seldom discussed?

Do the memories of hundreds of thousands of Irish victims merit more than a mention from an unknown writer? Or is their story to be one that their English pirates intended: To (unlike the African book) have the Irish story utterly and completely disappear as if it never happened.

None of the Irish victims ever made it back to their homeland to describe their ordeal. These are the lost slaves; the ones that time and biased history books conveniently forgot.

Oct 21, 2008

Sterile seeds

Mutant Seeds for Mesopotamia by Andrew Bosworth, Ph.D. October 15, 2008

One would think that Iraqi farmers, now prospering under "freedom" and "democracy," would be able to plant the seeds of their choosing, but that choice, under little-known Order 81, would be illegal.

But first, it is important to set the context. Most people have never heard of the infamous "100 Orders," but they help explain why the majority of Iraqis remain opposed to foreign occupation. The 100 Orders allow multinational corporations to basically privatize an entire nation, and this degree of foreign and private control has not been witnessed since the days of the British East India Company and its extraterritoriality treaties.

A few examples of the 100 Orders are illuminating:

Order 39 allows for the tax-free remittance of all corporate profits.

Order 17 grants foreign contractors, including private security firms, immunity from Iraq's laws.

Orders 57 and 77 ensure the implementation of the orders by placing U.S.-appointed auditors and inspector general in every government ministry, with five-year terms and with sweeping authority over contracts, programs, employees and regulations. (1)

Back to one of the most blatant orders of all: Order 81. Under this mandate, Iraq's commercial farmers must now buy "registered seeds." These are normally imported by Monsanto, Cargill and the World Wide Wheat Company. Unfortunately, these registered seeds are "terminator" seeds, meaning "sterile." Imagine if all human men were infertile, and in order to reproduce women needed to buy sperm cells at a sperm bank. In agricultural terms, terminator seeds represent the same kind of sterility.

Terminator seeds have no agricultural value other than creating corporate monopolies. The Sierra Club, more of a mainstream "conservation" organization than a radical "environmentalist" one, makes the exact same case:"This technology would protect the intellectual property interests of the seed company by making the seeds from a genetically engineered crop plant sterile, unable to germinate. Terminator would make it impossible for farmers to save seed from a crop for planting the next year, and would force them to buy seed from the supplier. In the third world, this inability to save seed could be a major, perhaps fatal, burden on poor farmers." (2)

What makes this Order 81 even more outrageous is that Iraqi farmers have been saving wheat and barley seeds since at least 4000 BC, when irrigated agriculture first emerged, and probably even to about 8000 BC, when wheat was first domesticated. Mesopotamia's farmers have now been trumped by white-smocked, corporate bio-engineers from Florida who strive to replace hundreds of natural varieties with a handful of genetically scrambled hybrids.

Where does such hubris come from? It comes from the entire mission surrounding the invasion of Iraq, which, upon closer inspection, had been planned years in advance by a faction of "neo-cons" who adopted Leon Trotsky's glorification of the state, his theory "permanent revolution," and his goal of exporting revolution worldwide. The neo-con revolution aims to alter the economic, political and cultural foundations of nations on the other side of the planet (rejecting old-fashioned notions of self-determination, popular sovereignty and even the nation-state system). This mission includes the transformation of agriculture and the establishment of "food control" over local populations.

Order 81 fits into this revolutionary program, and it is quite diabolical upon closer inspection. First, it forces Iraq's commercial farmers to use registered terminator seeds (the "protected variety"). Then it defines natural seeds as illegal (the "infringing variety"), in a classic Orwellian turn of language.

This is so incredible that it must be re-stated: the exotic genetically scrambled seeds are the "protected variety" and the indigenous seeds are the "infringing variety."

As Jeffrey Smith explains, author of Order 81: Re-Engineering Iraqi Agriculture:
"To qualify for PVP [Plant Variety Protection], seeds have to meet the following criteria: they must be 'new, distinct, uniform and stable'... it is impossible for the seeds developed by the people of Iraq to meet these criteria. Their seeds are not 'new' as they are the product of millennia of development. Nor are they 'distinct'. The free exchange of seeds practiced for centuries ensures that characteristics are spread and shared across local varieties. And they are the opposite of 'uniform' and 'stable' by the very nature of their biodiversity." (3)

Order 81 comes with the Orwellian title of "Plant Variety Protection." Any self-respecting scientist knows, however, that imposing biological standardization accomplishes the exact opposite: It reduces biodiversity and threatens species. So Order 81 comes with an Orwellian title and consists of Orwellian provisions.

Jeffrey Smith peels away the layers of mischief behind Order 81, finding it nonsensical that six varieties of wheat have been developed for Iraq:"Three will be used for farmers to grow wheat that is made into pasta; three seed strains will be for 'breadmaking.'

Pasta? According to the 2001 World Food Programme report on Iraq, 'Dietary habits and preferences included consumption of large quantities and varieties of meat, as well as chicken, pulses, grains, vegetables, fruits and dairy products.' No mention of lasagna. Likewise, a quick check of the Middle Eastern cookbook on my kitchen shelves, while not exclusively Iraqi, reveals a grand total of no pasta dishes listed within it.

There can be only two reasons why 50 per cent of the grains being developed are for pasta. One, the US intends to have so many American soldiers and businessmen in Iraq that it is orienting the country's agriculture around feeding not 'Starving Iraqis' but 'Overfed Americans'. Or, and more likely, because the food was never meant to be eaten inside Iraq at all…" (4)

Just in case Iraqi farmer can't read, Order 81 enforces the new monopoly on seeds with the jackboot. Order 81 makes this clear in its own text, buried at the bottom of the document, as is most screw-you fine print:"The court may order the confiscation of the infringing variety as well as the materials and tools substantially used in the infringement of the protected variety. The court may also decide to destroy the infringing variety as well as the materials and tools or to dispose of them in any noncommercial purpose." (5)

Order 81 is about power and profit, but it disguises itself as humanitarian legislation.

Topping it all off, the entire document puts on rather magisterial airs. It was signed by L. Paul Bremer himself, with his own hand, and presumably with his own pen:
"Pursuant to my authority as Administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority…"

Like the Roman Proconsuls, Paul Bremer also spent a year in the provinces, governing the so-called barbarians…

The above is an excerpt from Andrew Bosworth’s new book: Biotech Empire: The Untold Future of Food, Pills, and Sex, available at Amazon.
-Andrew Bosworth, Ph.D. is an assistant professor of Government at the University of Texas at Brownsville.

1. Uruknet Report, "Have You Ever Heard of Bremer's 100 Orders?" 11 April 2008.
2. Institutional Report, Genetic Engineering at a Historic Crossroads," The Sierra Club Genetic Engineering Committee Report, March 2001.
3. Jeffrey Smith. "ORDER 81: Re-Engineering Iraqi Agriculture - The Ultimate War Crime: Breaking the Agricultural Cycle." Global Research and The Ecologist, 27 August 2005, Vol 35, No. 1.
4. Jeffrey Smith. "ORDER 81: Re-Engineering Iraqi Agriculture - The Ultimate War Crime: Breaking the Agricultural Cycle." Global Research and The Ecologist, 27 August 2005, Vol 35, No. 1.
5 CPA/ORD/26 April 2004/81, p. 27.
Article nr. 47991 sent on 16-oct-2008 04:02 ECT
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Uruknet .

Oct 7, 2008

Sow the wind, reap the whirlwind

The US Senate vote for the new, greatly improved, hundred page version of the Three Stooges bailout plan presented by Mr. Paulson was irrelevant.

The constitution of the United States establishes that appropriations (i.e., providing money) “appropriations bills must originate in the House"… the system was designed to require boondoggles to be approved first by those representatives who are up for election every two years.

The Senate, mostly very rich men nursing a desire to become president, like the House of Lords, is the senior body to which the appropriations of the House of Representatives, like the House of Commons, are delivered for their approval, change, or rejection, but that senior house can not, by itself, initiate spending.

That President George Bush could openly threaten to declare martial law, according to the accounts of several congressmen, is the price to be paid for not holding three dozen public hangings in Washington, DC, in having the Supreme Court halting the Florida recount, over which they had no jurisdiction, at the time of the original establishment of the Unitary Presidency in 2000, and generally acquiescing, even by silence, in all the scams that followed, of which this, “a historic swindle of the taxpayer” according to one Republican, is only the latest and largest.

Congressmen report huge numbers of outraged communications from their constituents, over ninety per cent against the bailout bill, ("Emails are running about 50-50" said one congressman "between No and Hell No.") but then nobody wants to see martial law or doubts President Bush’s willingness to declare it. So much for democracy.

“The world,” explained Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the UN, “no longer has the capacity to absorb fake U.S. dollars.” That may be true, but the only consistent strategy visible from America is the printing of ever larger numbers of those dollars in the faith that their acceptance can be enforced at gun point. Only the kindness of strangers stands between Wile E Coyote and the canyon floor.

Decoupled: No Asian banks have failed or needed rescue.

Reduction to farce is achieved by the slow realization by congressmen and anyone with two brain cells to rub together that the American taxpayer is not the main holder of the funny money mortgage backed securities, and the $700 billion will be paid, not to them, but straight to the main holders of those funny money securities to stop them suing the Wall Street Investment banks that sold them to them, so that the whole exercise is a kind of hush money. Indeed, suggestions have already been made that the scheme may have originated with those same holders of the funny money securities as a condition, or they would sue the investment banks. Like China, for example, who will be paid a large slice of the cash.


Not One Dime! By Mike Whitney 01/10/08 - "ICH" - -- The mystery has been solved.

For nearly a year, we have been asking ourselves why the investors and foreign banks that bought up hundreds of billions of dollars of worthless mortgage-backed securities (MBS) from US investment banks have not taken legal action against these same banks or initiated a boycott of US financial products to prevent more people from getting ripped off?

Now we know the answer. It's because, behind the scenes, Henry Paulson and Co. were working out a deal to dump the whole trillion dollar mess on the US taxpayer. That's what this whole $700 billion boondoggle is all about; wiping out the massive debts that were generated in the biggest incident of fraud in history. Rep Brad Sherman explained it like this last night to Larry Kudlow:

"It (The bill) provides hundreds of billions of dollars of bailouts to foreign investors. It provides no real control of Paulson's power. There is a critique board but not really a board that can step in and change what he does. It's a $700 billion program run by a part-time temporary employee and there is no limit on million dollar a month salaries....... It's very clear. The Bank of Shanghai can transfer all of its toxic assets to the Bank of Shanghai of Los Angeles which can then sell them the next day to the Treasury. I had a provision to say if it wasn't owned by an American entity even a subsidiary, but at least an entity in the US, the Treasury can't buy it. It was rejected.

"The bill is very clear. Assets now held in China and London can be sold to US entities on Monday and then sold to the Treasury on Tuesday. Paulson has made it clear he will recommend a veto of any bill that contained a clear provision that said if Americans did not own the asset on September 20th that it can't be sold to the Treasury. Hundreds of billions of dollars are going to bail out foreign investors. They know it, they demanded it and the bill has been carefully written to make sure it can happen."
So, why hasn't the Treasury Secretary explained the real purpose of the bailout to the American people? Could it be that he knows that his $700 billion bailout would end up like the Hindenburg, vanishing in sheets of flames?

This is a terrible bill, and it confers absolute authority on one of the central players in the scandal, Henry Paulson, who was the Chairman of Goldman Sachs at the time this MBS garbage was being peddled around the planet to credulous investors. Now Paulson will be in a position to buy up any "troubled asset" he that he believes could pose a threat to "financial market stability". That's just great! It is clear that Paulson will use his unchecked powers to wipe the slate clean and remove any possibility that foreign investors will take legal action against the real perpetrators; the giant Wall Street investment banks.

So, how do the American people like paying off Paulson and Co. future legal bills? Is that how taxpayer revenue should be spent instead of on education, health care and infrastructure?

There's another reason why Paulson is working so hard to pass the Bailout for Tycoons Bill; it's a windfall for the banking giants. Citi did not simply pick up Wachovia by happenstance nor did JP Morgan purchase Washington Mutual because it wanted to perform its civic duty and prevent a full-system meltdown. No way; they were clearly aware of the way the wind was blowing. In fact, neither case manages to pass the smell test.

This is from AP's Sara Lepro: "Citigroup agreed Monday to purchase Wachovia's banking operations for $2.1 billion in a deal arranged by federal regulators, making the Charlotte-based bank the latest casualty of the widening global financial crisis.

"The deal greatly expands Citigroup's retail franchise—giving it a total of more than 4,300 U.S. branches and $600 billion in deposits—and secures its place among the U.S. banking industry's Big Three, along with Bank of America Corp. and JP Morgan Chase & Co.

"But it comes at a cost: Citigroup Inc. said it will slash its quarterly dividend in half to 16 cents. It also will dilute existing shareholders by selling $10 billion in common stock to shore up its capital position.

"In addition to assuming $53 billion worth of debt, Citigroup will absorb up to $42 billion of losses from Wachovia's $312 billion loan portfolio, with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. agreeing to cover any remaining losses. Citigroup also will issue $12 billion in preferred stock and warrants to the FDIC.

(Ed; Here's the punch line) "The government's proposed $700 billion rescue plan for financial institution, being voted on Monday by the House of Representatives, likely will prove of added benefit to Citi. While the plan broadly aims to prevent banks from profiting on the sale of troubled assets to the government, there is an exception made for assets acquired in a merger or buyout, or from companies that have filed for bankruptcy. This could allow Citigroup to sell toxic mortgages and other assets it gained from Wachovia for a higher price than the bank actually paid for them." ("Citigroup to buy Wachovia banking operations")

Huh?!? So Citi not only gets an army of depositors (the cheapest capital available!) but, at the same time, is going to be able to dump it's mortgage-backed junk on the taxpayer? And, guess what? The JP Morgan deal looks nearly identical.

Is this "insider baseball" or not?

Does anyone want to wager that G-Sax will also get a privileged spot at the public trough sucking up billions of taxpayer dollars to patch together its tattered balance sheet?

And what will the net result of Paulson's Bailout for Fraudsters be; more consolidation of the financial industry and the utter annihilation of local and regional banks. That's a sure thing. The mom and pop banks across the country are going to take it in the stern sheets if this bill is passed. Bet on it.

The country has no time for this cynical scavenger-hunt. The system is listing badly and we have ONE chance to get this emergency bill right. There is no way an industry rep like Henry Paulson, who has spent his entire career feathering his own nest and handing out plums to his buddies, can operate in the best interests of the American people. Paulson has got to go!

According to Bloomberg News , Sept 29:
"The Federal Reserve will pump an additional $630 billion into the global financial system, flooding banks with cash to alleviate the worst banking crisis since the Great Depression. The Fed increased its existing currency swaps with foreign central banks by $330 billion to $620 billion to make more dollars available worldwide. The Term Auction Facility, the Fed's emergency loan program, will expand by $300 billion to $450 billion. The European Central Bank, the Bank of England and the Bank of Japan are among the participating authorities.

"The crisis is reverberating through the global economy, causing stocks to plunge and forcing European governments to rescue four banks over the past two days alone." (Bloomberg)

Get it? The Fed has ALREADY brushed aside Congress's "No" vote and pumped money into the system; and look what happened.


Libor is still at historic highs, the Ted spread has widened to record levels and interbank lending is grinding to a standstill. There's a run on the money markets that is reducing the ability of businesses to turn over short term debt. The system is shutting down, folks, and Paulson's snake oil won't help. Why throw another $700 billion down a rathole? 400 reputable economists--not the "faith based" industry hacks that work for the Bush administration--are opposed to this bailout. It has to be stopped.

This is a "real time" meltdown and it requires real solutions, not bailouts for foreign creditors and Wall Street Goliaths. (Foreign victims of this scam will have to sue the perpetrators not the US taxpayer) As Nouriel Roubini, chairman of Roubini Global Economics, points out, we are on the verge of the "mother of all bank runs", a cross-border savaging of reserves that would crash the entire financial system. Here's Roubini on the next shoe to drop:

"The next step of this panic could become the mother of all bank runs, i.e. a run on the trillion dollar plus of the cross border short-term interbank liabilities of the US banking and financial system as foreign banks as starting to worry about the safety of their liquid exposures to US financial institutions; such a silent cross border bank run has already started as foreign banks are worried about the solvency of US banks and are starting to reduce their exposure. And if this run accelerates - as it may now - a total meltdown of the US financial system could occur. We are thus now in a generalized panic mode and back to the risk of a systemic meltdown of the entire financial system. And US and foreign policy authorities seem to be clueless about what needs to be done next. Maybe they should today start with a coordinated 100 bps reduction in policy rates in all the major economies in the world to show that they are starting to seriously recognize and address this rapidly worsening financial crisis." (Nouriel Roubini's EconoMonitor)

We have no time for Paulson's self serving shenanigans. This is not how one goes about recapitalizing the banking system or bringing stability to the financial system. It's time to get rid of the lobbyists and banking vermin and bring in the economists and the people with real experience. Paulson's plan is loser. Not one dime should go to this latest Wall Street swindle. No bailout!



The financial meltdown the economists of the Austrian School predicted has arrived.

We are in this crisis because of an excess of artificially created credit at the hands of the Federal Reserve System. The solution being proposed? More artificial credit by the Federal Reserve. No liquidation of bad debt and malinvestment is to be allowed. By doing more of the same, we will only continue and intensify the distortions in our economy – all the capital misallocation, all the malinvestment – and prevent the market’s attempt to re-establish rational pricing of houses and other assets.

[On September 25] the president addressed the nation about the financial crisis. There is no point in going through his remarks line by line, since I’d only be repeating what I’ve been saying over and over – not just for the past several days, but for years and even decades.

Still, at least a few observations are necessary.

The president assures us that his administration “is working with Congress to address the root cause behind much of the instability in our markets.” Care to take a guess at whether the Federal Reserve and its money creation spree were even mentioned?

We are told that “low interest rates” led to excessive borrowing, but we are not told how these low interest rates came about. They were a deliberate policy of the Federal Reserve. As always, artificially low interest rates distort the market. Entrepreneurs engage in malinvestments – investments that do not make sense in light of current resource availability, that occur in more temporally remote stages of the capital structure than the pattern of consumer demand can support, and that would not have been made at all if the interest rate had been permitted to tell the truth instead of being toyed with by the Fed.

Not a word about any of that, of course, because Americans might then discover how the great wise men in Washington caused this great debacle. Better to keep scapegoating the mortgage industry or “wildcat capitalism” (as if we actually have a pure free market!).

Speaking about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the president said: “Because these companies were chartered by Congress, many believed they were guaranteed by the federal government. This allowed them to borrow enormous sums of money, fuel the market for questionable investments, and put our financial system at risk.”

Doesn’t that prove the foolishness of chartering Fannie and Freddie in the first place? Doesn’t that suggest that maybe, just maybe, government may have contributed to this mess? And of course, by bailing out Fannie and Freddie, hasn’t the federal government shown that the “many” who “believed they were guaranteed by the federal government” were in fact correct?

Then come the scare tactics. If we don’t give dictatorial powers to the Treasury Secretary “the stock market would drop even more, which would reduce the value of your retirement account. The value of your home could plummet.” Left unsaid, naturally, is that with the bailout and all the money and credit that must be produced out of thin air to fund it, the value of your retirement account will drop anyway, because the value of the dollar will suffer a precipitous decline. As for home prices, they are obviously much too high, and supply and demand cannot equilibrate if government insists on propping them up.

It’s the same destructive strategy that government tried during the Great Depression: prop up prices at all costs. The Depression went on for over a decade. On the other hand, when liquidation was allowed to occur in the equally devastating downturn of 1921, the economy recovered within less than a year.

The president also tells us that Senators McCain and Obama will join him at the White House today in order to figure out how to get the bipartisan bailout passed. The two senators would do their country much more good if they stayed on the campaign trail debating who the bigger celebrity is, or whatever it is that occupies their attention these days.

F.A. Hayek won the Nobel Prize for showing how central banks’ manipulation of interest rates creates the boom-bust cycle with which we are sadly familiar. In 1932, in the depths of the Great Depression, he described the foolish policies being pursued in his day – and which are being proposed, just as destructively, in our own:

Instead of furthering the inevitable liquidation of the maladjustments brought about by the boom during the last three years, all conceivable means have been used to prevent that readjustment from taking place; and one of these means, which has been repeatedly tried though without success, from the earliest to the most recent stages of depression, has been this deliberate policy of credit expansion.

To combat the depression by a forced credit expansion is to attempt to cure the evil by the very means which brought it about; because we are suffering from a misdirection of production, we want to create further misdirection – a procedure that can only lead to a much more severe crisis as soon as the credit expansion comes to an end... It is probably to this experiment, together with the attempts to prevent liquidation once the crisis had come, that we owe the exceptional severity and duration of the depression.

The only thing we learn from history, I am afraid, is that we do not learn from history.

The very people who have spent the past several years assuring us that the economy is fundamentally sound, and who themselves foolishly cheered the extension of all these novel kinds of mortgages, are the ones who now claim to be the experts who will restore prosperity! Just how spectacularly wrong, how utterly without a clue, does someone have to be before his expert status is called into question?

Oh, and did you notice that the bailout is now being called a “rescue plan”? I guess “bailout” wasn’t sitting too well with the American people.

The very people who with somber faces tell us of their deep concern for the spread of democracy around the world are the ones most insistent on forcing a bill through Congress that the American people overwhelmingly oppose. The very fact that some of you seem to think you’re supposed to have a voice in all this actually seems to annoy them.

I continue to urge you to contact your representatives and give them a piece of your mind. I myself am doing everything I can to promote the correct point of view on the crisis. Be sure also to educate yourselves on these subjects – the Campaign for Liberty blog is an excellent place to start. Read the posts, ask questions in the comment section, and learn.

H.G. Wells once said that civilization was in a race between education and catastrophe. Let us learn the truth and spread it as far and wide as our circumstances allow. For the truth is the greatest weapon we have.

In liberty, Ron Paul for The Daily Reckoning

Editor’s Note: Congressman Ron Paul of Texas enjoys a national reputation as the premier advocate for liberty in politics today. Dr. Paul is the leading spokesman in Washington for limited constitutional government, low taxes, free markets, and a return to sound monetary policies based on commodity-backed currency.

Dr. Paul is known among both his colleagues in Congress and his constituents for his consistent voting record in the House of Representatives. He never votes for legislation unless the proposed measure is expressly authorized by the Constitution. In the words of former Treasury Secretary William Simon, Dr. Paul is the “one exception to the Gang of 535” on Capitol Hill.


Appendix - Chan Akya's table

In contrast, the combined assets/gross domestic product (GDP) of the top three US banks is only about 35%. Isn't that wonderful? Thanks to decades of mollycoddling their domestic industries, you now have a situation where European banks - many of whom Asians haven't even heard of - are now bigger than the GDPs of their home countries. Why does the ratio of assets over GDP matter? Because to pay for failed banks to foreign creditors and all that, governments have to run a surplus to GDP for a while.

Let's take an example. Iceland moved to guarantee its banking sector even as its top three banks are about 13 times the size of its GDP. In other words, if the government runs a budget surplus of 10% of GDP (massively contractionary fiscal policy), it would still take a trifling 130 years or so to pay for all its borrowings needed. For Switzerland, this figure is a mere 100 years, while for those like Belgium, that ratio stands at some 75 years. Remember, these are just figures for the bank losses, not counting all the other stuff that will be lost as a result of the failure of the banking system; for example the industrial base, trade and so on.