Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Failure of Financial Reform, Itemized

It is really quite incredible that of all the things that went wrong to cause the latest economic crisis, the new financial reform bill does almost nothing with regards to the following key issues. Here are the original problems and the actions being taken.

1. Bank leverage:

2- Interest rates too low:

3- Lobbying and money in politics:

4- Too much debt everywhere:

5- Depositor insurance:

6- Bank consumer fees:

7- Predatory lending:

8- Global investor diversification:

9- Credit Default Swap (CDS) market:

10- Criminal behavior:

11- Board control:

12- Securitization:

13- Ratings agencies:

14- Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac:

15- Too many financial middlemen:

16- Who regulates?:

17- To big to fail (TBTF):

18- Bank market concentration and monopoly power:

19- Adjustable Rate Mortgages (ARM's):

20- Teaser rates:

22- Personal bankruptcy law:

23- Regulating long maturity asset industries:

24- Regulatory capture:

25- Managing risk:

26- Bankruptcy proceedings for banks and corporations:

27- Hedge funds:

28- Management incentives:

29- Complexity of mortgage and investment banking products:

30- Bad bank loans:

31- Government stimulus:

32- Severity of new bank regulations:

33- Bank executive compensation:

34- Undervalued Chinese currency:

35- Globalization:

36- Bank transparency:

37- Externality costs and collective action problems:
38- Federal Reserve independence:

39- Response times to crises:

40- Underwater mortgage holders:

41- Social Security (SS) and Medicare Impacts:

42- The media:

43- Insider trading and market manipulation:

44- Public reporting and transparency of publicly traded corporations:

45- Overnight repo market:

46- Corruption in government:

47- Global banking system:

RSA Animate - Crises of Capitalism

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

SIR! NO SIR! THE GI REVOLT

REASONS FOR WAR

But in a logical shell game reminiscent of the Bush administration’s selling of the war in Iraq—you know, to get rid of al-Qaida, I mean weapons of mass destruction, I mean Saddam Hussein, I mean to have democratic elections, I mean to stabilize the country so the Iraqi army and police can take over, but we’ll keep bases and troops there more or less indefinitely—Panetta says the Taliban are giving our troops a hell of a time.

So, just to recap, we went into Afghanistan to get rid of those al-Qaida bastards who took down our World Trade Center. Now there are fewer than a hundred left, but we’re still there because their hosts continue to dislike us. And doing something about that is worth the life of every teenage kid we can suit up and drop off over there.

Any more good news? Panetta says it’s been years since we had any idea where Bin Laden is. Oh, and we continue to make deals with the mercenary dingbats formerly known as Blackwater because, despite a track record of killings and flying into mountains, they underbid everyone else, Panetta says.

A great president once said, “You fool me, ye can’t get fooled again.” Words to live by. —PZS

NPR:

On a separate issue, Panetta said that the CIA had no choice but to hire the company once known as Blackwater for $100 million to provide security in Afghanistan.

Panetta said the company, now known as Xe Services, underbid others by $26 million and that a CIA review concluded that the contractor had cleaned up its act.

REAGAN

It seems that you can look at a chart of almost anything and right around 1981 or soon after you'll see the chart make a sharp change in direction, and probably not in a good way. And I really do mean almost anything, from economics to trade to infrastructure to ... well almost anything. I spent some time looking for charts of things, and here are just a few examples. In each of the charts below look for the year 1981, when Reagan took office.

Conservative policies transformed the United States from the largest creditor nation to the largest debtor nation in just a few years, and it has only gotten worse since then:




Working people's share of the benefits from increased productivity took a sudden turn down:




This resulted in intense concentration of wealth at the top:




And forced working people to spend down savings to get by:



Which forced working people to go into debt: (total household debt as percentage of GDP)



None of which has helped economic growth much: (12-quarter rolling average nominal GDP growth.)

Please leave a comment pointing people to a chart with a change after Reagan took office. How about a chart that shows America's investment in maintaining and modernizing our infrastructure over time?

Sometimes it can be so obvious where a problem comes from, but very hard to change it. The anti-government, pro-corporate-rule Reagan Revolution screwed a lot of things up for regular people and for the country. Some of this disaster we saw happening at the time and some of it has taken 30 years to become clear. But for all the damage done these "conservative" policies greatly enriched a few entrenched interests, who use their wealth and power to keep things the way they are. And the rest of us, hit so hard by the changes, don't have the resources to fight the wealth and power. (Speaking of which, you can donate to CAF here.)

Look at the influence of these entrenched interests on our current deficits, for example. Obviously conservative policies of tax cuts and military spending increases caused the massive deficits. But entrenched interests use their wealth and power to keep us from making needed changes. The facts are here, plain as the noses on our faces. The ability to fight it eludes us. Will we step up and do something to reverse the disaster caused by the Reagan Revolution or not?

LAND MASS











6,592,800 sq mi Russia
3,854,085 sq mi Canada
3,794,101 sq mi U.S.
3,704,427 sq mi China
3,287,597 sq mi Brazil
2,941,299 sq mi Australia
1,269,210 sq mi India
1,068,302 sq mi Argentina
1,052,085 sq mi Khazakhstan
967,495 sq mi Sudan
919,595 sq mi Algeria
905,355 sq mi Democratic Republic of Congo

56,272 sq mi Iowa
55,599 sq mi Bangladesh

PRC'S GDP

STRATFOR ON THE FOURTH PHASE OF AFGHANISTAN



The Fourth Phase of the Afghan War

The fourth phase of the war began in 2009, when U.S. President Barack Obama decided to pursue a more aggressive strategy in Afghanistan. Though the Bush administration had toyed with this idea, it was Obama who implemented it fully. During the 2008 election campaign, Obama asserted that he would pay greater attention to Afghanistan. The Obama administration began with the premise that while the Iraq War was a mistake, the Afghan War had to be prosecuted. It reasoned that unlike Iraq, which had a tenuous connection to al Qaeda at best, Afghanistan was the group’s original base. He argued that Afghanistan therefore should be the focus of U.S. military operations. In doing so, he shifted a strategy that had been in place for 30 years by making U.S. forces the main combatants in the war.

Though Obama’s goals were not altogether clear, they might be stated as follows:

1. Deny al Qaeda a base in Afghanistan.
2. Create an exit strategy from Afghanistan similar to the one in Iraq by creating the conditions for negotiating with the Taliban; make denying al Qaeda a base a condition for the resulting ruling coalition.
3. Begin withdrawal by 2011.

To do this, there would be three steps:

1. Increase the number and aggressiveness of U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
2. Create Afghan security forces under the current government to take over from the Americans.
3. Increase pressure on the Taliban by driving a wedge between them and the population and creating intra-insurgent rifts via effective counterinsurgency tactics.

NOAM CHOMSKY ON IRAN


The Obama administration has been rapidly expanding its offensive capacity in the African island of Diego Garcia

The Navy reports sending a submarine tender to the island to service nuclear-powered guided-missile submarines with Tomahawk missiles, which can carry nuclear warheads. Each submarine is reported to have the striking power of a typical carrier battle group, includes 387 “bunker busters”

“US bombers and long range missiles are ready today to destroy 10,000 targets in Iran in a few hours,” he said. “The firepower of US forces has quadrupled since 2003,” accelerating under Obama.

Amitai Etzioni warns that “The U.S. will have to confront Iran or give up the Middle East,” Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and other states will “move toward” the new Iranian “superpower”



the Iranian threat is not military, it threatens US control of Middle East energy resources, a high priority of planners since World War II, which yields “substantial control of the world,” one influential figure advised (A. A. Berle).

Monday, June 28, 2010

TURKEY


An Arab Woman Blues - Reflections in a sealed bottle...

the Iran-Iraq war was the thwarting Iranian political advancement in the Arab region by 2 decades. postponing the Iranian take over until 2003, the occupation of Iraq by Maliki, Hakeem, Sadr, Chalabi, and the rest...

American occupation achieved the Iranian role and its consolidation in the whole Arab region. Endless parroting about an imminent attack on Iran is pure BULLSHIT.

one needs to understand how Iran operates. It is by political maneuvering by using Shiism as an ideology, double political discourses and endless tricks.

Iranian occupation of Iraq by using armed militias, several armed militias in Iraq. Hezbollah is an armed militia of Iran, so is Hamas,(or some of its elements)

Iran operates in Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine, Bahrain, Syria, Yemen, Kuwait, Qatar, Dubai and Mauritania. Also, the famous Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan alliance. It operates through armed groups. POLITICAL occupation/influence. (and heavy economic investments are part of it.

Iraq has American MILITARY occupation and Iranian POLITICAL occupation. political alliances in Iraq are only made with Iran's approval first.



Iranian society with its political Shiism revivalism is reclaiming its Persian roots away from the Arabization. Iran's contempt and hatred for anything Arab is a well known.

The double discourse is presented, cloaked in Islamic jargon, where Iran tries very hard to portray itself as an Islamic country that is above any sect or race. The Iraqi experiment has proved the fallacy of such Iranian claims.

Iran's use of Shiism is not out of love for Imam Ali, Hassan or Hussein, but a political tool to extend and consolidate its political and regional influence. Shiism in itself as a sect is not a Persian invention, Qum only became the center for Shiism relatively late. Arab Nejaf and Arab Kerbala were always the centers of learning for Shiism. neither Ali, nor Hassan nor Hussein were Furs - Persian, they all came from the Hijaz today's Saudi Arabia.

Turkey has no "Sunni revivalism" aspirations. It is based on secular institutions despite its current government of Islamic coloring. It is cleverly a combine secularism, democracy and still retain its adherence to Islam - a reformed, democratic Islam, is way more dangerous for the West and for Israel than an obscurantist theocracy. what if the Turkish model is contagious ?

Iran tries to maintain this "Islamic" political discourse. it has created, backed and armed the "Shiite only" parties in Iraq with its deadly sectarianism. Iran has also backed Al-Qaeda in Iraq. The latest Iranian charade of sending flotillas to Gaza indicates that Iran is VERY worried about the rise of Turkey as Hero for the Arabs.

Iran and Turkey have issues that are cause for an underlying conflict in Iraq. Iran supports the Turkish Kurdish rebels. Turkey is very much against the annexation of Kirkuk by the Iraqi Kurds whom the Iranians fully support. The sphere of competing influence is Iraq. Iranians have the upper hand which beats a couple of flotillas

Turkey will never join the EU, it is a Muslim country. Europe is battling anti-Islamic demons. It is in no position to accept a powerful Muslim country. Turkey has been left behind insofar as Iraq is concerned,

Turkey engages in weighty moves, bilateral ties with Syria, win over Arabs by playing a brokerage role, a sort of mediator of Peace. (Syria/Israel, Hamas/PA/Egypt, etc...

The massacres on the Mavi Marmara is not a surprise after Erdogan and the Shimon Peres engagement at Davos

Since Davos, the Turkish pro-Palestinian tone has been rising reaching the Iranian one, even surpassing it. Something that Iran has not taken too well.

Turkey's new found role in the Arab world, will earn it favors from the West who will use Turkey's rising power as a balancing act against Iran, weakening Iran's spreading influence. Some seeing Turkey and Iran at loggerheads can become a reality further down the line, Most analysts believe.

I disagree. everything will be done to weaken Turkey by both the Israelis and the Iranians. hoping to see that happen U.S including Israel realize that Iran poses no real threat. Iran did bringing about regime change to both the Iraqis and Afghans as per the American plan. Iranian and American seem to be in total harmony.

The Arabs most worried are Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan now that Iraq is gone, worries have turned into angst.

Egypt is Iran's priority right now with endless political manipulations - through Hezbollah, and Hamas. Hamas is part of the Muslim Brotherhood. Iran by co-opting
Hamas has won over the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. Iran's influence in Egypt is not a threat to their peace treaty with Israel but a threat to Egypt's political stability itself.

Turkey's rise was a coup de force. And this is where the Flotilla massacre marked a turning point for Iran, and for the Arabs - who, as usual have trapped themselves by their own treason and impotence. It has also put Hamas in a tight spot, however paradoxical this may sound.

What happens next in Iraq will show who controls most of what and who has the most long term influence in the region. And Iraq shall remain the playing ground for the strongest. The one who controls Iraq, also controls the rest of the region i.e has all the playing cards to do so.

TEAM AMERICA


Saturday, June 26, 2010

A Shift Realized: The Banking Crisis as the First Postmodern Event


the global financial crisis as a 'world historical moment

the first global event that is wholly and uniformly a postmodern crisis

it is ultimately perfectly predicted and consummated in the
  • ontological works of Lyotard (The Postmodern Condition),
  • the global theories of Baudrillard (The Precession of Simulcra) and
  • the mind–politics of Foucault (Discipline and Punish)
with the global capitalistic system in greater flux theoretically than ever before we are glimpsing the ultimate death of the last Grand Narrative in modern history. After
  • the death of God (Nietzsche),
  • the death of dialectic (Fukuyama, Zizek, Baudrillard),
  • and now with the possibility of the death of late capitalism
we find ourselves at another cultural cross–roads, one that can only find refuge in simulation.

THE NATIONAL SECURITY STATE


here exists a great deal of unaccountable state power whose primary function is to maintain the existing politico-economic structure, using surveillance, infiltration, sabotage, judicial harassment, disinformation, trumped-up charges and false arrests, tax harassment, blackmail, and even violence and assassination to make the world safe for those who own it.

There exists a state within the state, known as the national security state, a component of misgovernment centering around top officers in the CIA, DIA, FBI, the Pentagon, and policymakers in the Executive Office of the White House. These elements have proven themselves capable of perpetrating terrible crimes against dissidents at home and abroad. National security state agencies like the CIA, in the service of dominant economic interests, have enlisted the efforts of mobsters, drug traffickers, assassins, and torturers, systematically targeting peasant leaders, intellectuals, journalists, student leaders, clergy, labor union leaders, workers, and community activists in numerous countries. Hundreds of thousands of people have been murdered to prevent social change, to destroy any government or social movement that manifests an unwillingness to reduce its people to economic fodder for the giant corporations that rule the world's economy.

To know the truth about the assassination of John Kennedy is to call into question the state security system and the entire politico-economic order it protects. This is why for over thirty years the corporate-owned press and numerous political leaders have suppressed or attacked the many revelations about the murder unearthed by independent investigators like Mark Lane, Peter Dale Scott, Carl Oglesby, Harold Weisberg, Anthony Summers, Philip Melanson, Jim Garrison, Cyril Wecht, Jim Marrs, Gaeton Fonzi, Sylvia Meagher, Michael Canfield, James DiEugenio, and many others

To know the truth about the assassination of John Kennedy is to call into question the state security system and the entire politico-economic order it protects. This is why for over thirty years the corporate-owned press and numerous political leaders have suppressed or attacked the many revelations about the murder unearthed by independent investigators like Mark Lane, Peter Dale Scott, Carl Oglesby, Harold Weisberg, Anthony Summers, Philip Melanson, Jim Garrison, Cyril Wecht, Jim Marrs, Gaeton Fonzi, Sylvia Meagher, Michael Canfield, James DiEugenio, and many others

Friday, June 25, 2010

TALIBAN WAR IN AFGHANISTAN

Strategic stability and Strategic Anarchy

all anti american forces, have a grand strategic opporrtunity to humble USA at a nominal cost in the entire region bettween Casaablanca to Dakhalin. american interests and Amercicna installations are located in such a widespread area that USA a with its entire might cannot defend all of its many assets at all times.

Final phase: a periof of exploitation of USA's exhaustion by other major players like Russia, China, EU. The USA may be unable to initiate a policy of disengagement. The USA is in position of a man holding a wolf by the ears. It may be difficult to kill this wolf, but it is fatal to leave it. all that the anti US forces, open or covert need to do it is to assist the owlf, create new breeding areas for the wolves.

The stakes are high, the battle field vaster than any other battlefield in human history and the shades too many for the strategists eye to perceive or comprehend. The present third world war which started with 09/11 has no cenbter of gravity, no fixed battle lines, it is hundred dimensional, no rules, no morality, no boudaries aqnd no tangible end in sight. One thing is clear. USA' cheap sonsumerists society has a great deal of military muscle but a pathetic strategic vidsion. We salute the new age of Strategic anarchy.

TALIBAN WAR IN AFGHANISTAN

Operation Gladio Ep1of3 2-5 State Sponsored Terrorism in Europe 1992 - B...

US Strategy of Dual Central Position (by A. H. Amin) - Media Monitors Network


US Strategy of Dual Central Position (by A. H. Amin) - Media Monitors Network

“Dual central positions”

Afghanistan provides multiple strategic objectives
threaten both Russia and China
threaten both Pakistan and Iran
entire Central Asian Region
future Islamic Insurgency in Chinese Singkiang
independent Kashmir
Pakistani and Iranian Baluchistan

aerial strikes against Pakistan, Afghanistan combined with Baluchistan would create a US line of communication from Chah Bahar and Gwadar to Central Asia which would create a new base to launch deep strategic forays in Russia and China cutting off both from natural oil and gas reserves of Central Asia

severing the Russian line of communication with Oil and Gas rich Siberia

China and Russia (should) start aiding Afghan insurgents

Iraq is second central position.
Syria, Lebanon , Iran
Saudi Arabia in case a radical anti monarchist coup threatens
Turkey in case the Islamists gain greater strength
fix iran by Kurdish insurgency
Discipline Turkey by Kurd separatism
Dominate Middle East Oil ensuring strategic control on worlds economy

but all may not be at USA’s feet in case Syria remains defiant Iran assists Iraqi Shiites, Arab masses decide to remove the shackles

Dual Central Positions has germs of defeat. USA strategic objectives for which it has occupied Afghanistan
“ Final Solution of Pakistan’s WMD capability”
“ Domination of Central Asia and Western Iran”

Pakistan, not Iraq, is the centre of gravity of Islamic military resurgence

Afghanistan is where Islamist forces based in Pakistan train. Afghanistan is not a US objective but a staging area to deal with a strategic objective (s) i.e. Pakistan ,Iran ,Central Asia , China , Russia etc

Pakistan has to be neutralised
because it posseses WMD
and stands in between Chinese Singkiang and USA

Iran has to be neutralised
is a base of anti US/Israeli low intensity warrior groups

Afghanistan can prove dangerous for the USA. It is here that mother nature challenges US technology. no deserts where airpower can strike at will, no big urban targets like Baghdad capture of which can lead to the collapse of the whole house, no docile vassal states like Kuwait and Jordan.

One side is tribal area, One side is Iran, north is Russian Army

Therefore, more of a liability than a blessing. Any serious US move which threatens the strategic balance may bring China and Russia actively. Iraq security depends on Arab masses.

Low Intensity War i.e. War in the Shadows is far more complex than winning the Second World War with industrial might. There are no Hiroshima’s or Nagasakis in this region. The area is vast. More vast than air power capability, More rugged than Vietnam, More diverse, but races which inhabit it cannot be wiped out like Apaches,Sioux

This war for Mackinder’s Heartland will be fought in all parts of the world including all major US and European cities

The Cult of Counterinsurgency | The American Prospect


The Cult of Counterinsurgency | The American Prospect

Counterinsurgency means an attempt to defeat guerilla fighters who hide among a civilian population over an extended period of time, "low-intensity conflicts," French in Algeria, the British in Malaysia, and the Soviets in Afghanistan

current U.S. strategy based on French and English doctrine as well as Vietnam.

special allure for liberal writers because it offers a holistic approach, win the hearts and minds, transform autocratic governments into ones that respect human rights, women's education, and the rule of law.

Skeptics say warfare of the nastiest, most brutal kind, and it lasts for years and years. In the early days of Iraq, it was used on an ad-hoc basis to build relationships with local civilians in order to track down insurgents

It wasn't until Abu Ghraib scandal of 2004, Haditha in 2005 the need arose to re-evaluate wanton violence among some units. the dismal state of the war prompted Petraeus. In February 2006, Petraeus hosted a workshop, co-sponsored by Harvard's Carr Center for Human Rights
in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas

In COIN, civilian and military activities are integrated, cooperate with humanitarian workers in an effort to win over the local population, employs anthropological tools that map social networks

"the surge." to Iraq in 2007. The Washington Post Bob Woodward says High-Value Targeting, Anbar Awakening paying 100,000 individuals $300 a month. And Sunni tribal sheikhs make millions more through U.S. contracts. pullback by Muqtada al-Sadr.

These disparate elements have come together and tamped down the bloodshed

Still, the conventional wisdom is that Iraq has improved because of the new approach.

John Nagl does not like the word "colonialism, whether it is called neocolonialism or counterinsurgency, will be applied in various regions over the next several years.

The thinking man's war has a chapter on morals and values, big on hearts and minds. It has its own subculture, the rock stars (Nagl and Kilcullen celebrity couple (Kilcullen and Janine Davidson, author of the forthcoming book The Fog of Peace, a guru (Petraeus), and a cult-classic film (Battle of Algiers), a magazine (Small Wars Journal)

Nagl stands out. Counterinsurgency, as Nagl explains, is "80 percent political, 20 percent military." (He is quoting David Galula, "the Clausewitz of counterinsurgency. It could be modeled on the Civil Operations and Revolutionary Development Support, or CORDS which coordinated military and civil affairs in Vietnam.

Troops are studying manuals on cultural awareness and learning the basics of Islam. They are also learning how to fight in a civilian environment
The Marines are engaged, openly and passionately, in a discussion set in an empirically based field of study. Yet somehow they remind me of the guys in Reservoir Dogs -- jewelry thieves who join in a textual analysis of Madonna's "Like a Virgin" while sitting in a diner.

Counterterrorism is "the long war," and counterinsurgency is part of this effort. semantics matter. in Baghdad, they could find an insurgent or a terrorist.

counterinsurgency may also involve dirty tactic "the dark side." In Vietnam, "the dark side" was Operation Phoenix or the getting rid of Viet Cong leaders "by any means necessary, it was part of the CORDS program.

underlying ideas of Operation Phoenix have worked their way back into the U.S. military. The Iraq-era version of this is known as High-Value Targeting, house raids, "snatch missions," it used to be carried out by Special Forces only. Now, all troops conduct them. U.S. and NATO air strikes in Afghanistan have increased, "If you kill a very large number of civilians, you'll cow a population,"

Luttwak of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. It depends on how much "blood and treasure" you put into it. He is the author of Coup d'État: A Practical Handbook, says U.S. troops should pull out of Afghanistan
I've been to Afghanistan. Basically, you'd have to kill every single Afghan and take all the children and put them in boarding school, preferably in England."

current policy, less about making the world safe for democracy than making the world safe for U.S. economic and political interests

Asia Times Online :: Central Asian News and current affairs, Russia, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan


Asia Times Online :: Central Asian News and current affairs, Russia, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan

Kyrgyzstan is a perfect case for
United States
Russia
to agree to tactical cooperation
yet that is not happening
Kyrgyz implosion impacts on regional stability, given the drug mafia and the militant Islamists waiting in the wings. Ethnic strife is opening the floodgates
only way out lies in collective security. But
most contentious issue. Who
Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO)
problem
would tax Russian resources
Second
lacks a rapid reaction force. Third
legitimacy of the Kyrgyz
yet to be clarified
Fourth
quagmire
Finally
Tashken
feel uneasy
Washington
is passionately courting Uzbek President Islam Karimov.
Clinton delegated Assistant Secretary of State Robert Blake to visit refugee camps in the Uzbek region of Andizhan in the Ferghana Valley
speaking from a soil
Uzbek
suppressed a bloody uprising five years ago
irony was complete
Blake voiced
US demand for ''an international investigation
into the mayhem in Kyrgyzstan
United States
viewed
CSTO
vehicle
Russian domination
Washington counts on Tashkent to circumscribe
Moscow
The US
Organization for Security and Cooperation for Europe (OSCE)
appropriate vehicle of intervention by the international community
Moscow
objected
to use the OSCE for propaganda purposes under the garb of human-rights and election-monitoring functions or media freedom. So, why is the US proposing the OSCE
propaganda plane, it highlights the failure of Moscow and the CSTO to assume responsibilities
Moscow
butt of ridicule
as a bombastic regional power. Two, the CSTO gets debunked
vainglorious airs bu
lacks substance. Three, the US hopes to drive a wedge between Russia and
Kazakhstan, which
holds the
pos
of the OSCE
is hard-pressed to choose between the CSTO and the OSCE.
deeper US game plan
when Russia is
advancing
own proposal for a new European security treaty
if the OSCE is available
what
could be the raison d'etre of Moscow's proposal
OSCE's special envoy
Kimmo Kiliunen
OSCE is leading talks with
(EU)
beefing up security in Kyrgyzstan at a time when CSTO secretary general Nikolai Bordyuzha is heading for Bishkek. The CSTO said in a statement in Moscow that a working group would evaluate the situation in Kyrgyzstan and "assist in law enforcement Russian position
Kyrgyz
should stabilize
themselves
US-Russia shadow play over a collective security
one constant
in favor of Moscow
Beijing supports the CSTO initiative
Chinese
so far
humanitarian assistance
flying out
nationals from
region of Osh
will be uneasy about the U
maneuvering
should
be consulting
SCO
first step to signal
China does not intend to sit back while the situation unravels
that Osh
an hour by flight from Urumqi
a Balkan-type crisis
nightmare to China
sensitive over the possibility of unrest among the Uyghur population
Beijing
counter the US strategy to project the OSCE into the security vacuum
first choice
CSTO
role for the SCO
SCO
statement identified that the ethnic strife was engineered with the intent of arousing a Kyrgyz-Uzbek "confrontation"
outside intervention isn't a crying need
"the stability of the situation in Kyrgyzstan is of great significance for peace and stability in Central Asia"
SCO has put its hat into the ring

The Dismantling of Yugoslavia Part 1 - Monthly Review


The Dismantling of Yugoslavia Part 1 - Monthly Review

journalistic and historical narratives systematically distorted, downplaying the external factors, selectively exaggerating and misrepresenting the internal factors

Perhaps no civil wars have ever been harvested as cynically by foreign powers to establish legal precedents and new categories of international duties and norms
into such a proving ground for the related notions of “humanitarian intervention” and the “right [or responsibility] to protect.”

Yugoslavia’s conflicts were inflamed and exploited to advance policy goals exploited for ends
(1) preserving the NATO military alliance
(2) overthrowing the UN Charter non-interference in favor of the right to interfere in “failing” states and to wage wars against “rogue” states;
(3) humiliating the European Union (EU) inability to act in a militarily punitive force in its own backyard;
(4) dismantling the last holdout to the “Washington consensus.”

The required that certain agents be cast as victims, and others as villains, not just belligerents engaged in a civil war, but evil and murderous perpetrators of mass crimes which would legitimate military intervention

in the work of ICTY, Yugoslavia was a crime scene, wars as a “Joint Criminal Enterprise,” the alleged purpose was the expulsion of non-Serbs from territories the Serbs wanted. This is an utterly risible caricature taken seriously in Western commentary

external causes were masked by focusing on the alleged resurgence of Serb nationalism as the root of the collapse. The widely read book along with the BBC documentary, Laura Silber and Allan Little wrote, “under Milosevic, Serbs were “the key secessionists,” they sought an enlarged Serbian state with as much territory of Yugoslavia as possible,” with the “politics of ethnic intolerance convincing other nations that it was impossible to stay, propelling them to independence.”

another book, Misha Glenny said, Milosevic let the genie [of violent, intolerant nationalism] out of the bottle. Noel Malcolm wrote that in the late 1980 there were “Two processes, one, gathering of power into Milosevic’s hands, and two, gathering of the Serbs into a single political unit with the intent of dominate Yugoslavia or break it

Roy Gutman wrote, the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina was the third in a series of wars

WikiLeaks founder drops 'mass spying' hint - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)


WikiLeaks founder drops 'mass spying' hint - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

If there had been mass spying that had affected many, many people and organisations and the details of that mass spying were released then that is something that would reveal that the interests of many people had been abused."

The Romance of Counterinsurgency « sans everything


The Romance of Counterinsurgency « sans everything

For the last half-century, counterinsurgency has been the type of war that liberals are most likely to idealize. In theory, counterinsurgency sounds great: it’s war fought to win “the hearts and minds” of the people, war that involves building alliances with the local population, war done with the best of intentions, war as a giant social welfare program (with guns).

first great liberal embrace of counterinsurgency was the Kennedy administration Green Berets to fight guerrilla wars.

around 2003 some liberals once again took up the idea of counterinsurgency. it’s really development work and human rights, except the people will carry guns.

counterinsurgency is more brutal than conventional warfare which are all about seizing territories with one army fighting another and sometimes civilian casualties as a by product.

Counterinsurgency is to seize control “hearts and minds”. civilians are the chief target. Civilians are the battlefield. counterinsurgency is warfare aligned with nation building.

1977 study, “The Counterinsurgency Era,” the late Douglas Blaufarb, a former CIA agent who oversaw counterinsurgency operations in Laos addresses the problem of “self-reform in crisis.” where outsiders press for political reform

Arthur Schlesinger, Jr, the notion that reforms can be carried out in a wartime situation by a beleaguered regime is “the fatal fallacy in the liberal theory of counterinsurgency, with the United States so often obliged to work through repressive local leadership, the reform component dwindled into ineffectual exhortation.”

Kennedy, the need to help poor countries develop politically and economically into modern nation states so that they can be strong enough to resist communism

Yet effective counterinsurgency often involves building up small tribal groups. by strengthening the Meo hill-people of Laos further frayed the social fabric of Laos

Counterinsurgency emphasis on improving social conditions and spreading democracy. Green Berets and the Peace Corps are the same reforming spirit

In Vietnam. As the war ground on harsher tactics appeared, targeting of enemy collaborators for assassination. In the infamous Phoenix Program that began in 1967, a direct outgrowth of counterinsurgency, the American government paid for the murder of thousands of civilians allegedly tied to the Viet Cong. This was precisely the type of program that turned many Americans against the Vietnam War

The US then went on elsewhere, in Guatemala.

Numbed by years of killing, peasants adopted a quietist philosophy that rejected both sides. in 1975, South Vietnam couldn’t rally its own population to resist.

Successful counterinsurgency involves a deep familiarity with the local culture. Gaining political legitimacy is the key to successfully defeating an insurgency. such popular support can take years and there is tension between security for one’s troops and winning popular support….

Free Thought Manifesto: Dismantling The Myth Of 9/11


Free Thought Manifesto: Dismantling The Myth Of 9/11

Their two main means: stealth and fraud. S&I] can involve the use of political and economic pressure, strikes, protest marches, and propaganda, and...the use of small-scale violence for the purpose of coercing...members of the population into giving support (p 3). Subversives stop with harassment, insurgents take up arms.

Growth in S&I, modern warfare, new ways of getting people to think and to act. Literacy, radio, and television S&I can use them to aggravate social discontent, racial ferment, nationalism, contempt for authority.

Set agents to work now in the early stages of subversion, penetrate small...highly secure targets. field officers prefer lots of low grade information.

Next, psyops as in propaganda, PR. offset the popular appeal of S&I's cause and enhance the government's story. Experts develop policy, technicians put the policy into films, programmes, articles, leaflets, and machines spread by broadcast, print, and projection.

counterorganize, build controls over the civil community. frustrate efforts by S&I, add good deeds to psyops, help remove sources of grievances, making contact with the people, teaching to the setting up of clinics, advising on simple construction works, and working on agricultural projects.

Nonviolent disorder--mass meetings, marches, strikes-- requires persuading multitudes to do something. This phase focuses on crowds, usually in cities. Use judicious promise of concessions, while] imposing ...calm by the use of government forces, stating that most of the concessions can only be implemented once...life...returns to normal. Civilians must look upon troops with ...respect and awe, the impression built used little force so far but at any moment use a great deal more can be used.

Open insurgency erupts, find armed groups and smash. collects and studies background information. to enable contact with the opponent, fish for information and then snuff out small groups...in large urban rabbit warrens.

Example of a simple Special Operation. cordonning of a [community examination of occupants by...informers concealed in hoods.

Technology helps. watch lists. remote interrogator, get the information by wireless to break down a prisoner without delay.

help remove sources of grievances making contact with the people, teaching to the setting up of clinics, advising on simple construction works, and working on agricultural projects



LOW INTENSITY OPERATIONS is the leading treatise on nonstop spying and deceit

Glick, Brian, WAR AT HOME: covert action against US activists and what we can do about it. some goals of COINTELPRO: Prevent the rise of a `messiah' who could unify...the militant black nationalist movement .... You must discredit these groups and individuals

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo in the Propaganda System - Monthly Review


Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo in the Propaganda System - Monthly Review

Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo in the Propaganda System

Edward S. Herman and David Peterson

Excerpted from The Politics of Genocide (Monthly Review Press, 2009).

bloodier and more destructive invasions, insurgencies, and civil wars that have ravaged several countries in the Great Lakes region of Central Africa over the same years may have been subjected to even greater misrepresentation.

Western establishment swallowed a propaganda line on Rwanda that turned perpetrator and victim upside-down.

In the much-cited 1999 study, “Leave None to Tell the Story”: Genocide in Rwanda, on behalf of Human Rights Watch and the International Federation of Human Rights in Paris, Alison Des Forges writes that “By late March 1994, Hutu Power leaders were determined to slaughter massive numbers of Tutsi and Hutu opposed to Habyarimana,” and that on April 6, 1994, with the assassination of Habyarimana, “[a] small group of his close associates…decided to execute the planned extermination.”

We know little about who assassinated Habyarimana.” This is a false statement, as we show in detail below.

“We know more about who used the assassination as the pretext to begin a slaughter that had been planned for months” is true enough, but in exactly the opposite sense reported by Des Forges.2

after the Habyarimana assassination, the RPF did not simply respond in self-defense to a Hutu-organized killing spree, but initiated its own killing spree.

after the Habyarimana assassination, the RPF did not simply respond in self-defense to a Hutu-organized killing spree, but initiated its own killing spree.

JFKcountercoup: JFK and the Unspeakable



JFKcountercoup: JFK and the Unspeakable

Douglas was slow to connect the death of the President with the constant threat of war. "The Unspeakable," "is a term Thomas Merton coined at the heart of the sixties after JFK’s assassination – in the midst of the escalating Vietnam war, the nuclear arms race, and the further assassinations of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, and Robert Kennedy

Merton sensed an evil whose depth and deceit seemed to go beyond the capacity of words to describe." Douglas had his own epiphany when he realized that JFK’s conflicts with his own generals and administrators led to his death, the why of his assassination

we would prefer not to confront the Unspeakable, but Douglas goes into their Nest
"Our collective denial to the obvious made possible the Dallas cover-up and was the
foundation for the subsequent murders of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, and Robert Kennedy by the same forces at work in our government

The cover-up was based on denial, our own. Our citizen denial provides doctrine of ‘plausible deniability rooted in

David Talbot’s book Brothers before him, Douglas reframes the Kennedy presidency to include the backstage manipulations.

Kennedy’s "third Bay of Pigs" was his "Peace Speech" at American University on June 10, 1963.

from January 17, 1961, when President Eisenhower gave his farewell address and warned of the "military-industrial-complex," and ending at 11:21 AM, November 24, 1963, with the murder of Oswald. JFK was the victim of a high level coup

agencies of a national security state had quickly formed a united front behind the official mourning scenes to cover up every aspect of JFK’s assassination

And now the game tables are being overturned, and what was once kept secret for reasons of national security, must now be revealed for reasons of national security, so the Nest of the Unspeakeable can be confronted and purged.

The Guineapigs - Chapter 9

The Guineapigs - Chapter 9

from where was the dedicated British Army office to get his guidance? Clearly a serving, experienced military man was needed. Enter Frank Kitson.

Kenya (where he 'blacked up' and went out in the bush to form 'pseudo-gangs' of informers and deserters to hunt down the Mau Mau, led Kitson in 1969 to Oxford University where he received a grant to write his idea of the definitive British officer's textbook – Low Intensity Operations

Kitson was sent to Northern Ireland in the spring of 1970

In his book he had spoken of the need for rapid grass-roots intelligence-gathering and stated that...Kitson's obsession with 'low-level intensity' intelligence-gathering has led into unaccustomed fields such as 'community relations' projects similar to American strategy of 'hearts and minds', a more sinister role to play – that of an intelligence exercise.

Guerrilla warfare is the 'war of the flea', and until recently the Army has been forced to use sledgehammers to crack nuts

Paul Craig Roberts: Is Petraeus McChrystal's Replacement or Obama's?


Paul Craig Roberts: Is Petraeus McChrystal's Replacement or Obama's?

People elected Obama, because they were tired of Bush’s wars based on lies. So Obama gave us a new war in Pakistan and reignited the Afghan war. No one knows what these wars are about or why the bankrupt US government is wasting vast sums of money, which it has to borrow from foreigners, in order to murder the citizenry in two countries that have never done anything to us.

Max Blumenthal goes inside the Tea Party on Vimeo

Max Blumenthal goes inside the Tea Party on Vimeo

Max Blumenthal goes inside the Tea Party from Ram Bam on Vimeo.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

PROP AGENDA, AGAIN


http://politicalleft.blog-city.com/how_propaganda_works_in_the_west.htm

it's “prop-agenda.”, the control of what we think about. social control is more covert. we generally don't notice or laugh at the notion it even exists.

When our governments want to sell, by making sure it's the only thing on the agenda. They pre-load the discussion with selected images, devious and prejudicial language, dubious linkages, weak or false “intelligence” and selected “leaks”.

strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum - even encourage the more critical and dissident views

Create the sense of free thinking but all the while the system are being reinforced by the limits.

The people are allowed to speak out, but control that voice, control what people think.

WHY IT WORKS

The educated people read more and thus receive more propaganda. they have jobs in management, media, and academia and work as agents of the propaganda system. they're part of the privileged elite. They share the perceptions.

media are private, formal censorship is absent. The media periodically attack and expose corporate and government malfeasance. But left undiscussed huge inequality of the command of resources, and its effect both on access to a private media.

Journalists are an integral part of the ruling ideology. They are so well integrated' that they can't see. 'Truth' is their version of the world. if they defended positions contrary to the official narrative, someone else would soon be writing.

passionate debates in the main media stay within the bounds of commonly accepted, implicit rules, which sideline a large number of contrary views. We do not notice the line any more than we notice the air we breathe.

Germany in the early 1930s suffered a complete reversal by using fear of everyone who
threatening the core values. German media inundated the population using marketing techniques developed by US.

Monday, June 21, 2010

CASS SUNSTEIN AGAIN


Cass Sunstein wrote (at page 22 of his paper, "Conspiracy Theories" - download here as a pdf - written with Adrian Vermeule concerning various dirty tricks tactics for government to undermine conspiracy theories):
"Government agents (and their allies) might enter chat rooms, online social networks, or even real-space groups and attempt to undermine percolating conspiracy theories by raising doubts about their factual premises, causal logic or implications for political action."
Sunstein, is the Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the Obama administration. He thus can advise the White House on how to deal with those pesky conspiracy theories. Given that the Obama White House is much harder on leakers than even the Bush White House, it is obvious that truth is in the cross hairs.

So the problem for government has become
1) Leakers
2) Conspiracy Theories.

Our Own Private Bin Laden - 1/6

MASTERS OF WAR

Lamentations of the Father

Saturday, June 19, 2010

THE CURSED BOLSHEVIKS


The cursed Bolsheviks
June 12th, 2010

“Freedom only for the supporters of the government, only for the members of one party – however numerous they may be – is no freedom at all. Freedom is always and exclusively freedom for the one who thinks differently. Not because of any fanatical concept of ‘justice’ but because all that is instructive, wholesome and purifying in political freedom depends on this essential characteristic, and its effectiveness vanishes when ‘freedom’ becomes a
special privilege.

“A few dozen party leaders of inexhaustible energy and boundless idealism direct and rule. Among them, in reality only a dozen outstanding heads do the leading and an élite of the working class is invited from time to time to meetings where they are to applaud the speeches of the leaders, and to approve proposed resolutions unanimously – at bottom, then, a clique affair – a dictatorship, to be sure, not the dictatorship of the proletariat, however, but only the dictatorship of a handful of politicians, that is a dictatorship in the bourgeois sense, in the sense of the rule of the Jacobins. [. . .] Yes, we could go even further: such conditions must inevitably cause a brutalisation of public life – assassinations, shooting of hostages, etc.”

Rosa Luxemburg, The Russian Revolution (1917)

Johann Hari on Chomsky, Hitchens, Iraq, and anarchism

Link to: Nick Cohen: Writing from London


having a kind of anarchistic temperament towards power is quite useful. Serially doubting what people in power are telling you, and assuming that they will only do good things if they are forced to by social movements, is a very sensible way of looking at the world.

he basically disputes the two major institutions of power in the world today: the nation-state and any institution of market capitalism

as a first premise: The world should not be in any way as it is now, very valuable when you are looking at the IMF and World Bank – completely illegitimate institutions of corporate fundamentalism that are imposing on poor countries a completely failed economic model.

firstly the alternatives that Chomsky posits are unbelievably vague and, at times, incoherent; and secondly, when you look at his philosophy on markets

alternatives are voluntaristic, anarchist communities. Firstly
how that could work except on a very small scale. he gives an example of anarchist communities that sprang up during the Spanish civil war

But they were crushed precisely because they were anarchists and unable to mount a proper defence. should they have an army to defend themselves? Chomsky said, “I’m not going to get into that. implausibility of these voluntaristic, anarchist communities in a world of 6 billion people with extremely complex urban societies can be organized in that way.

you have to acknowledge there will be some structure of power and that they should be a damn sight more democratic.

For example, he voted for Kerry rather than Bush. John Pilger, who refused to acknowledge any difference and basically said voting in America is pointless and you have to wait for the revolution.

He has used the word “bullshit” to describe the idea that markets in any way generate wealth. markets are a tool need to be extremely tightly regulated. They do things
like abuse workers’ rights or trash the environment. you need very strict, tight democratic regulations and strong trade unions within those regulations. they generate wealth. Chomsky denies that

And there’s another element of Chomsky’s thought which is very important which is his analysis of the media. I was initially skeptical of it but I think there is some truth in it.

MK: You write in the mainstream media.

MK: Do you feel pressure? Do you think if you said certain things your editors would mention something?

MK: It’s unspoken?

JH: Yes. What he would say is you internalize the norms and there are certain things that you don’t say. I think that is how it works; it doesn’t work as self-censorship
I think trusting one of the most important institutions in a free society – the media – to the benevolence of billionaires is pretty dodgy

MK: How else do you structure it though? You can’t have it under state control can you?

MK: He’s into independent non-corporate media though isn’t he? But that’s hard to get off the ground.

JH: The Guardian is a good example but he would say that is corrupted by the fact they have to take advertising from corporations

It is a manufacturing of a common sense that people do absorb. I’ve seen it most clearly on things like asylum.

Norman Finkelstein.

What he has done in exposing Joan Peters who is a fraud and liar was amazing. I think he is now doing the same thing with Alan Dershowitz. I think it is very valuable. I love what he says about Elie Wiesel. I hate the mystification of the Holocaust and the attempt to turn it into a kind of quasi-religious thing. I love – partly because Finkelstein has the unimpeachable moral authority of having two parents who survived the Holocaust – he can say this in a way that if other people said it you would instinctively be more suspicious of it. Elie Wiesel says things like “the Holocaust cannot be comprehended by human beings.” That is a ridiculous thing to say. It was one of the worst crimes of the 20th century. It was unbelievably evil but it is comprehensible. if you set it up as being incomprehensible you increase the chances of happening again

The American occupation has bought with it a program of extreme neo-liberalism – far more extreme than anything tried in any democratic country, just like the one imposed on Russia. When I interviewed Joseph Stiglitz about this he said “The way they are acting in Iraq suggests they think what they did in Russia after the fall of Communism was a great success,” when in fact it saw the country slide back towards fascism which is basically where it is under Putin

Islamism is a totalitarian movement. There’s another half to that equation. Totalitarian movements do not emerge in vacuums. The context for Nazism was the humiliation imposed by the Versailles treaty. the context for this psychopathic, totalitarian ideology is what has been done to the Arab world over the last 60 years
“It’s a psychopathic movement” – yes, that’s true but psychosis rarely occurs in a vacuum. The reason why this psychotic movement has developed is that for the last 60 years Western governments have systematically murdered all the liberals and democrats in those countries. When there was a profoundly democratic movement in Iran in the 1950’s what did we do? We installed a sub-fascist dictator because they wanted a stable access to oil.

look at Chechnya. Look at what happened in Beslan – murdering and torturing school children. look what’s happened with the Chechens over the last 40 years Chechnya was deported by Stalin to Siberia, half died half died on the way back. Soviet Union fell they wanted to be independent.

They weren’t allowed to be and they were further brutalized. And a third of the population of Chechnya has died since 1991. You look at aerial picture of Grozny and it looks like it’s been nuked.

Pakistan, Afghanistan begin talks about dealing with insurgents


By Karin Brulliard and Karen DeYoung
Saturday, June 19, 2010

Afghanistan and Pakistan are talking about how to make peace, there could be a more abrupt withdrawal of U.S. troops than is now anticipated. But one element ofthe effort -- outreach by Pakistan to the militia headed by the young commander Sirajuddin Haqqani -- faces opposition from U.S. officials.

Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, the chief of Pakistan's powerful intelligence agency, made an unprecedented trip last month to Kabul. United States, gradually warming to the idea of reconciliation But Obama will not support talks with Haqqani's militia, "we expect to be treated as full partners and not to be surprised."

Haqqani, based in North Waziristan is a top threat. The CIA and U.S. military think that Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency retains links. In a recent meeting Petraeus, Mike Mullen and McChrystal presented evidence that attacks on a NATO convoy and the main coalition air base were by Haqqani from Miram Shah.

Karzai's firing of his intelligence chief and interior minister, who were negative on Pakistan, is seen as positive.

U.S. troops focus counterinsurgency efforts on the Taliban's southern hub, Haqqani, who is in his 30s, is expanding the southeastern front through attacks on American forces and through ruthless intimidation of locals, embodies the Taliban's vanguard: younger commanders driven more by anti-Western zeal. suicide bombers come from this class, his is the single largest insurgent force and a bridge between the Taliban and al-Qaeda. Beyond the Haqqani group, Pakistan maintains ties with the dominant Afghan Taliban, headed by Mohammad Omar, and an allied group headed by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar

Karzai have met with Afghan Taliban Quetta Shura. The group founded by his father, Jalaluddin. the organization has swelled in lethality and in size, to as many as 10,000 fighters. Haqqani holds a seat on al-Qaeda's leadership council receives ample funding from Arab backers, it include foreign fighters drawn frommadrassas, they rely on assassinations, shakedowns and kidnappings-for-ransom little interest in politics

DeYoung reported from Washington. Staff writer Joby Warrick and special correspondents Shaiq Hussain and Haq Nawaz Khan contributed to this report.

World’s Mining Companies Covet Afghan Riches


JP Morgan, for instance, has just sent a team of mining experts to Afghanistan to examine possible projects to develop.

“Afghanistan could be one of the leading producers of copper, gold, lithium and iron ore in the world,” said Ian Hannam, a London-based banker and mining expert with JP Morgan. “I believe this has the potential to be transforming for Afghanistan.”

“There are huge deposits there,” said David Beatty, chief executive of Rio-Novo Gold, a mining company based in Toronto. “But as chief executive, would I send a team to Kandahar? And then call a guy’s wife after he gets shot? No.”

Joe Barton and the Big Big Debate


What possessed Barton, the ranking Republican on Energy and Commerce? four years ago
excoriated BP's top brass in allowing 270,000 gallons of oil to spill on Alaska's North Slope. How did Barton go from BP as shameful villain to BP as shakedown victim?

this country is now having the sharpest and most emotional debate it's had in more than a century over a deceptively simple question: Which do you trust less - Big Business (including Wall Street) or Big Government?

The crash of Wall Street and the Great Recession has impassioned both sides. The Street can't be trusted because its recklessness wrecked the economy, big business can't be trusted because it's laid off millions of Americans with scant regard for their welfare

On the other hand, government is on the loose because of the giant stimulus package; the yawning budget deficit and hair-raising national debt; the "takeovers" of General Motors, Chrysler, and AIG, along with the firings of several executives; and the huge health-care bill.

Until six months ago, the latter narrative was touted by Republican right, who seemed to be winning the hearts of an ever more angry electorate. Democrats were reluctant to criticize Wall Street and Big Business with nearly the force and consistency of the Republican offensive against Big Government.

then came the tidal wave of revelations about the rapacity of business, the near-meltdown of the Street linked to questionable accounting practices at several of the big banks. Goldman Sachs was shown to have been double-dealing with investors for its own profits. Heath insurers, WellPoint, yanked up their rates showing less interested in the health care than their own bottom lines. And then the terrible mine explosion revealed the recklessness and indifference of one of America's biggest mining companies, Massey Energy.

And now the worst environmental disaster in American history, courtesy of BP.

"I trust Big Business (and Wall Street) more than I trust Big Government" seems bizarre as did Joe Barton. whether the Barton moment convinces the President that it's safe to fully embrace the other story line. The problem is a large percent of their campaign money is coming from big business and Wall Street.

It's not the purpose of the private sector to protect the public. They owe allegiance to their shareholders. Hopefully, they make great products and provide terrific services. If the market is competitive, both consumers and investors gain.

The purpose of government is to protect Americans. Its job is to protect the public from corporate excesses -- enacting laws that bar actions that may hurt the public, and fully enforcing those laws.

We get into trouble when big business and Wall Street spend vast amounts of money to influence government and when government officials pull their punches because they're aiming for lucrative jobs in the private sector.

Big Business and Wall Street more or less than Big Government? The challenge is to keep the two apart (for example, I still think it unwise to have BP run the operation to plug the hole in the bottom of the Gulf)

Flood of Afghan heroin fuels drug plague in Russia


CHELYABINSK, Russia

In Miass, a small town west of Chelyabinsk near the foothills of the Ural Mountains, Elena Shapkovskaya has to call the police when heroin addicts crowd the shop and begin shooting up in plain view. "Sometimes we call an ambulance, millions addicted to heroin. annual death toll, tens of thousands. 60 metric tons arrivefrom Afghanistan each year

In 2008, 5 million frequent drug users. Russians who use opiates is the highest in the world. 940,000 HIV-positive adults and children in 2007,

Russian officials publicly blame America for the plague because almost all the heroin comes from U.S.-dominated Afghanistan, 'THE AMERICANS HAVE DONE NOTHING'

Chelyabinsk was Tankograd — "tank city" in World War II production of T-34. Now it has become a major transshipment center from Tajikistan and Kazakhstan. The trade in 2001, it exploded. Afghan opium from 3,400 metric tons in 2002 to a record 8,200 metric tons in 2007

U.S. put a low priority on curbing it. Yekaterinburg is another big heroin-distribution hub north of Chelyabinsk

some Russian officials trace the growing problem to an American plot. Viktor Ivanov
"call the flow of Afghan opiates the second edition of opium wars." He was referring to the 19th-century war between Britain and China sparked by exports of opium from British India to China.

politicians in Russia who said that the Americans specially arranged the situation in Afghanistan so that we would receive a lot of drugs, and this is the real aim of their occupation," said Andrei Klimov, the deputy head of the foreign affairs committee in Russia's lower house of parliament.

"I would say the entire international community is responsible a State Department official said. "So when critics like Russia say the U.S. and NATO aren't doing enough, well, it's really the entire international community that needs to take action on this."

In Russia, corrupt officials, the Russian mafia. It is impossible to do business in Russia without a "krysha", a "roof". It is unlikely that kryshas could operate the annual $15 billion drug without high-level contacts. Sporadic news reports narco-corruption occurs at senior levels of law enforcement. In 2002 or 2003 a dam had burst, local police taking bribes. "The Russian (criminal) groups are above the Tajiks and gypsies

U.S.-built bridge is windfall — for illegal Afghan drug trade Read more: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2009/06/28/708s-built-bridge-is-windfall-for.html


NIZHNY PANJ, Tajikistan — In August 2007
new $37 million concrete bridge that the Army Corps of Engineers designed to link two of Central Asia's poorest countries. modest two-lane span that U.S. taxpayers paid for would be "a critical transit route for trade and commerce" between Afghanistan and Tajikistan.

the bridge, It's paved the way for drug traffickers to transport larger loads of
Afghan heroin and opium to Central Asia and beyond to Russia and Western Europe. It's easy to drive drugs past the Afghan and Tajik border guards. "If you give them money, you can do whatever you want."

Tajikistan is on the verge of becoming a narco-state. in 2001, the United States
looked the other way as opium and heroin production surged to record levels, making Afghanistan by far the world's biggest producer.

one-fifth traveled to and through Tajikistan, it has funded rampant corruption and turned Tajikistan into one big drug-trafficking organization.

Every day 4 metric tons of opium move on the northern route, 6 million doses of pure heroin. it's cut and sold in Russia and Western Europe and now at least 12 million doses.

neither the Afghan or the Tajik border guards have much interest in inspecting, the exports that pass in front of them. In fact Tajik seizures have fallen. In 2004
Afghanistan produced 4,200 metric tons and 5 metric tons were seized in Tajikistan Last year it was rising to 7,700 metric tons and Tajik seized less than 2 metric tons

at best a midlevel priority for Washington. U.S. hasn't pressed Tajik President. U.S.-financed bridge has made drug trafficking even easier.

These days there's a steady stream of new Mercedes and Lexus. Tajik observers suspect that the Rahmon government controls the drug trade.

"There is always going to be a tradeoff based on different foreign-policy objectives, different security objectives, the tolerance for different types of corruption