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marmar

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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, Michigan
Home country: Citizen of the world whose address is in the U.S.
Current location: Detroit, Michigan
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 64,701

Journal Archives

You Can’t Taper a Ponzi Scheme: Time to Reboot


By Ellen Brown, Web of Debt


One thing to be said for the women now heading the Federal Reserve and the IMF: compared to some of their predecessors, they are refreshingly honest. The Wall Street Journal reported on July 2nd:

Two of the world’s most powerful women of finance sat down for a lengthy discussion Wednesday on the future of monetary policy in a post-crisis world: U.S. Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen and International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde. Before a veritable who’s-who in international economics packing the IMF’s largest conference hall, the two covered all the hottest topics in debate among the world’s central bankers, financiers and economists.


Among those hot topics was the runaway shadow banking system, defined by Investopedia as “The financial intermediaries involved in facilitating the creation of credit across the global financial system, but whose members are not subject to regulatory oversight. The shadow banking system also refers to unregulated activities by regulated institutions.” Examples given include hedge funds, derivatives and credit default swaps.

Conventional banks also engage in “shadow banking.” One way is by using their cash cushion as collateral in the repo market, where they can borrow to invest in the stock market and other speculative ventures. As explained by Bill Frezza in a January 2013 Huffington Post article titled “Too-Big-To-Fail Banks Gamble With Bernanke Bucks”:

If you think (the cash cushion from excess deposits) makes the banks less vulnerable to shock, think again. Much of this balance sheet cash has been hypothecated in the repo market, laundered through the off-the-books shadow banking system. This allows the proprietary trading desks at these “banks” to use that cash as collateral to take out loans to gamble with. In a process called hyper-hypothecation this pledged collateral gets pyramided, creating a ticking time bomb ready to go kablooey when the next panic comes around.


Addressing the ticking time bomb of the shadow banking system, here is what two of the world’s most powerful women had to say:

MS. LAGARDE: . . . You’ve beautifully demonstrated the efforts that have been undertaken . . . in terms of the universe that you have under your jurisdiction. But this universe . . . has generated the creation of parallel universes. And . . . with the toolbox with all the attributes that you have — what can you do about the shadow banking at large? . . .

MS. YELLEN: So I think you’re pointing to something that is an enormous challenge. And we simply have to expect that when we draw regulatory boundaries and supervise intensely within them, that there is the prospect that activities will move outside those boundaries and we won’t be able to detect them. And if we can, we won’t be — we won’t have adequate regulatory tools. And that is going to be a huge challenge to which I don’t have a great answer.


Limited to her tools, there probably is no great answer. All the king’s horses and all the king’s men could not rein in the growth of the shadow banking system, despite the 828-page Dodd-Frank Act. Instead, the derivatives pyramid has continued to explode under its watch, to a notional value now estimated to be as high as $2 quadrillion. ...............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/you_cant_taper_a_ponzi_scheme_time_to_reboot_20140727



Clintonians Join Vulture Flock Over Argentina


from truthdig:



By Conn Hallinan


It is no surprise that right-wing Republican and hedge fund billionaire Paul Singer should be trying to wring hundreds of millions of dollars out of Argentina for a debt that Buenos Aires doesn’t really owe him. He screwed tens of millions of dollars out of poverty-stricken Peru and the Republic of Congo using the same financial sleight of hand. What may surprise people, however, is that key leaders in the administration of former President Bill Clinton are helping him do it.

Singer, who owns Elliot Management, a $17 billion hedge fund, is the leading “vulture investor”—a financial speculator who buys up the bonds of debt strapped nations for pennies on the dollar and then demands payment in full. When Argentina defaulted on its foreign debt in 2001, Singer moved in and bought up $48 million in bonds. He is now demanding that those bonds be paid at full-face value—$1.5 billion—plus interest and fees. It is a move that could derail Argentina’s long climb back into solvency, as well as undermine debt settlements worldwide.

A recent decision by federal District Judge Thomas Griesa in Manhattan may not only force Argentina to pay the vultures, it could unravel a 2006 debt deal between Buenos Aires and other creditors. Under the highly controversial principle of “pari passu” (“equal ranking among creditors”), if the vultures are compensated, so must all the other creditors, even those who settled back in 2006. That bill could reach $15 billion. Given that Argentina has only about $28 billion in foreign reserves, the tab could send Buenos Aires into a recession or force the country into bankruptcy.

The “sleight of hand” involves the fact that the countries the vultures prey on are not really in debt to creditors such as Singer and Eric Hermann of FH International Asset Management LLC. The hedge funds look for distressed countries, then buy their debt at bargain basement prices and sit on it. In the meantime, other creditors cut a deal to take a reduced payment on their bonds, which in turn helps improve the debtor’s economy and allows it to emerge from default. ...................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/day_of_the_vulture_over_argentina_20140724



Killing Machines and the Madness of Militarism: From Gaza to Afghanistan


Killing Machines and the Madness of Militarism: From Gaza to Afghanistan

Thursday, 24 July 2014 10:00
By Henry A. Giroux, Truthout | Op-Ed


Militarism is like a lethal virus that takes as its first victim both historical memory and any sense of moral and social responsibility. In the United States and Israel, at the present moment, it is no longer one strain of ideology that permeates these societies; it is a general condition that gives meaning to almost all aspects of life. Incapable of thinking beyond military solutions to social problems, militarism absolves individuals and governments, if not the general public, of the horror produced by the weapons it builds; moreover, just as it erases the memory of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it suggests that the hundreds of children killed in Gaza is a military necessity.

The apostles of militarism offer jobs to the public that engage in the production of organized violence; they preach war as a cleansing solution, while they sanitize language of any meaning, erasing the suffering, misery, and horror inflicted by their drone missiles, jets, Apache helicopters, and bombs. All that has to be invoked are the words "collateral damage" or "military necessity" and the death-laden actions produced by the new militarists disappear into the dark vocabulary of authoritarian doublespeak. War is no longer a source of alarm, but pride, and it has become an organizing principle of many societies. Informed by a kind of primitive tribalism, militarism enshrines a deadly type of masculinity that mythologizes violence and mimics the very terrorism it claims to be fighting. Militarism and war have not only changed the nature of the political order but the nature and character of American life.

When children are killed by Israeli missiles while playing on a beach in Gaza, the horror and sheer brutality of the murderous act is wiped away by the crude argument that such needless slaughter is a military necessity. There is no defense for killing children, regardless of whether it is done by the Israeli state, the United States, Hamas, or anyone else. We live in a time in which political illiteracy and moral tranquilization work in tandem to produce the authoritarian subject, willing to participate in their own oppression and the oppression of others. Thus, the silence over filling our prisons with poor people of color, treating desperate immigrant children as if they were vermin, and allowing elected officials to replace reason with forms of militant religious fundamentalism. What kind of moral arrangements does a society give up when there is no outrage over the fact that the United States supplies billions of dollars in armaments to other states and thus is complicit in the killing of young children and others through acts of state terrorism?

The militarists come from various political parties and are hooked into a market-driven logic that disdains thinking about social costs or the despair they create. They are unadulterated agents of cruelty and their power serves a corrupt form of casino capitalism that breathes and breeds the ideology and policies of the military-industrial-surveillance complex. In the United States, trillions are spent on wars that were based on and initiated with lies. At the same time, social services are cut, schools abandoned, infrastructures ignored so that the military can build F-35 jets at the cost of $200 million apiece - pieces of junk plagued by mechanical failures and a sober witness to the United States' unwillingness to use the money of war and violence to build a decent, democratic society in which vulnerability and care become the watchwords rather than violence and war. ................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/25136-killing-machines-and-the-madness-of-militarism-from-gaza-to-afghanistan




Killing Machines and the Madness of Militarism: From Gaza to Afghanistan


Killing Machines and the Madness of Militarism: From Gaza to Afghanistan

Thursday, 24 July 2014 10:00
By Henry A. Giroux, Truthout | Op-Ed


Militarism is like a lethal virus that takes as its first victim both historical memory and any sense of moral and social responsibility. In the United States and Israel, at the present moment, it is no longer one strain of ideology that permeates these societies; it is a general condition that gives meaning to almost all aspects of life. Incapable of thinking beyond military solutions to social problems, militarism absolves individuals and governments, if not the general public, of the horror produced by the weapons it builds; moreover, just as it erases the memory of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it suggests that the hundreds of children killed in Gaza is a military necessity.

The apostles of militarism offer jobs to the public that engage in the production of organized violence; they preach war as a cleansing solution, while they sanitize language of any meaning, erasing the suffering, misery, and horror inflicted by their drone missiles, jets, Apache helicopters, and bombs. All that has to be invoked are the words "collateral damage" or "military necessity" and the death-laden actions produced by the new militarists disappear into the dark vocabulary of authoritarian doublespeak. War is no longer a source of alarm, but pride, and it has become an organizing principle of many societies. Informed by a kind of primitive tribalism, militarism enshrines a deadly type of masculinity that mythologizes violence and mimics the very terrorism it claims to be fighting. Militarism and war have not only changed the nature of the political order but the nature and character of American life.

When children are killed by Israeli missiles while playing on a beach in Gaza, the horror and sheer brutality of the murderous act is wiped away by the crude argument that such needless slaughter is a military necessity. There is no defense for killing children, regardless of whether it is done by the Israeli state, the United States, Hamas, or anyone else. We live in a time in which political illiteracy and moral tranquilization work in tandem to produce the authoritarian subject, willing to participate in their own oppression and the oppression of others. Thus, the silence over filling our prisons with poor people of color, treating desperate immigrant children as if they were vermin, and allowing elected officials to replace reason with forms of militant religious fundamentalism. What kind of moral arrangements does a society give up when there is no outrage over the fact that the United States supplies billions of dollars in armaments to other states and thus is complicit in the killing of young children and others through acts of state terrorism?

The militarists come from various political parties and are hooked into a market-driven logic that disdains thinking about social costs or the despair they create. They are unadulterated agents of cruelty and their power serves a corrupt form of casino capitalism that breathes and breeds the ideology and policies of the military-industrial-surveillance complex. In the United States, trillions are spent on wars that were based on and initiated with lies. At the same time, social services are cut, schools abandoned, infrastructures ignored so that the military can build F-35 jets at the cost of $200 million apiece - pieces of junk plagued by mechanical failures and a sober witness to the United States' unwillingness to use the money of war and violence to build a decent, democratic society in which vulnerability and care become the watchwords rather than violence and war. ................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/25136-killing-machines-and-the-madness-of-militarism-from-gaza-to-afghanistan



Chris Hedges: The Palestinians’ Right to Self-Defense


from truthdig:


The Palestinians’ Right to Self-Defense

Posted on Jul 23, 2014
By Chris Hedges


If Israel insists, as the Bosnian Serbs did in Sarajevo, on using the weapons of industrial warfare against a helpless civilian population then that population has an inherent right to self-defense under Article 51 of the United Nations Charter. The international community will have to either act to immediately halt Israeli attacks and lift the blockade of Gaza or acknowledge the right of the Palestinians to use weapons to defend themselves.

No nation, including any in the Muslim world, appears willing to intervene to protect the Palestinians. No world body, including the United Nations, appears willing or able to pressure Israel through sanctions to conform to the norms of international law. And the longer we in the world community fail to act, the worse the spiral of violence will become.

Israel does not have the right to drop 1,000-pound iron fragmentation bombs on Gaza. It does not have the right to pound Gaza with heavy artillery and with shells lobbed from gunboats. It does not have the right to send in mechanized ground units or to target hospitals, schools and mosques, along with Gaza’s water and electrical systems. It does not have the right to displace over 100,000 people from their homes. The entire occupation, under which Israel has nearly complete control of the sea, the air and the borders of Gaza, is illegal.

Violence, even when employed in self-defense, is a curse. It empowers the ruthless and punishes the innocent. It leaves in its aftermath horrific emotional and physical scars. But, as I learned in Sarajevo during the 1990s Bosnian War, when forces bent on your annihilation attack you relentlessly, and when no one comes to your aid, you must aid yourself. When Sarajevo was being hit with 2,000 shells a day and under heavy sniper fire in the summer of 1995 no one among the suffering Bosnians spoke to me about wanting to mount nonviolent resistance. No one among them saw the U.N.-imposed arms embargo against the Bosnian government as rational, given the rain of sniper fire and the 90-millimeter tank rounds and 155-millimeter howitzer shells that were exploding day and night in the city. The Bosnians were reduced, like the Palestinians in Gaza, to smuggling in light weapons through clandestine tunnels. Their enemies, the Serbs—like the Israelis in the current conflict—were constantly trying to blow up tunnels. The Bosnian forces in Sarajevo, with their meager weapons, desperately attempted to hold the trench lines that circled the city. And it is much the same in Gaza. It was only repeated NATO airstrikes in the fall of 1995 that prevented the Bosnian-held areas from being overrun by advancing Serbian forces. The Palestinians cannot count on a similar intervention. .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_palestinians_right_to_self-defense_20140723



Juan Cole: Gaza War Devastates Israeli Tourism Revenue, Points to Fragile Apartheid Future


By Juan Cole


A Hamas rocket hit and destroyed a house in Yahoud, a town only a mile from Ben Gurion Airport in Israel on Tuesday, raising severe alarm in among the international airlines and leading most of them to cancel flights to Tel Aviv. The US Federal Aviation Administration called for a 24 hour moratorium on US flights to Israel, and United Airlines, U.S. Airways and Delta Air lines said they would cease flying there “until further notice.” The European Aviation Safety Agency likewise cautioned European airlines from flying to Israel, and Lufthansa and other major carriers cancelled their flights.

Israel’s Transportation Ministry, in its charming way, stridently denounced the airlines as accomplices of terrorists, saying “there is no reason whatsoever that American companies would stop their flights and hand terror a prize…” In fact, the downing of MH17 over eastern Ukraine is obviously the context for the airlines being spooked. And, if a rocket can land one mile from the airport, it can land on a plane at the airport just as easily.

Israeli tourism brought in $11 billion last year, some 4.5% of its nominal GDP. Tourism employs 100,000 workers, two-thirds of them in the hotel industry. In other words, a full loss of tourism would cost Israel $30 mn a day and could idle nearly 3% of the country’s workforce. (Since El Al is still flying, there hasn’t been a full loss of tourism, but El Al is probably flying many planes that aren’t full and may take an economic hit on that account alone; jet fuel is expensive and nowadays full planes are necessary to avoid losing money).

Here are the major countries of origin for the tourists last year:

US: 623,000
Russia: 603,000 tourists
France 315,000
Germany 254,000
United Kingdom 217,000
Italy 173,000
Ukraine 134,000


A quarter of all visitors described themselves as pilgrims. Over half said they were Christians and a little over a quarter were Jewish. .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.juancole.com/2014/07/devastates-fragile-apartheid.html



US Accused of Forcing EU to Accept Tar Sands Oil


from Inter Press, via Truthout:



Washington - Newly publicised internal documents suggest that U.S. negotiators are working to permanently block a landmark regulatory proposal in the European Union aimed at addressing climate change, and instead to force European countries to import particularly dirty forms of oil.

Environmentalists, working off of documents released through open government requests, say U.S. trade representatives are responding to frustrations voiced by the oil and gas industry here. This week, U.S. and E.U. officials are in Brussels for the sixth round of talks towards what would be the world’s largest free-trade area, known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

“These documents show that the U.S. is simply not interested in an open, transparent (negotiation) process,” Bill Waren, a senior trade analyst with Friends of the Earth U.S., a watchdog group, told IPS. “Rather, U.S. representatives have been lobbying on the (E.U. regulatory proposal) in a way that reflects the interests of Chevron, ExxonMobil and others.”

The oil industry has repeatedly expressed concern over the European Union’s potential tightening of regulations around transport fuel emissions, first proposed in 2009 for what’s known as the Fuel Quality Directive (FQD). Yet according to a report released Thursday by Friends of the Earth Europe, the sector now appears to have convinced the U.S. government to work to permanently block the implementation of this standard. .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/25088-us-accused-of-forcing-eu-to-accept-tar-sands-oil



Juan Cole: Is Rula Jebreal right about US Media Bias against Palestinians?


Is Rula Jebreal right about US Media Bias against Palestinians?
By Juan Cole | Jul. 22, 2014 |


Palestinian journalist Rula Jebreal points to the overwhelming bias in US media against the Palestinians, calling NBC to account for having tried to remove an Arab-American reporter from Gaza after he reported the Israeli navy’s deliberate killing of children on the beach. She also points to the stranglehold the American Israel Public Affairs Committee lobby has on congressional politics toward Israel. She doesn’t mention but should the pressure organizations like CAMERA, well-heeled and powerful fanatics devoted to punishing American journalists who tell the truth about Israel and Palestine. I actually think NBC is better than some others on this issue, so it is a little unfortunate that they should take the brunt of Jebreal’s understandable frustration.

I don’t think either of the people she was talking to understood the problem. The show begins with Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu and promises more of him. No Palestinian leader is interviewed or apparently considered for an interview! It is alleged to Jebreal that her being allowed to complain on air at all is a mercy (she isn’t actually allowed to say much about the war). It is also alleged that just reporting on all the children the Israeli military has killed is somehow even-handed; in fact if the killings are represented as necessary that isn’t true. Almost no US media admits that indiscriminate fire in civilian areas is a war crime.

There isn’t actually any doubt about US media bias against the Palestinians. Yousef Munayyar looked at CNN’s coverage of the 2012 Gaza flare-up.

Mohamad Elmasry summarizes the study:

” It revealed that a total of 45 Israeli officials were interviewed by CNN, compared to just 20 Palestinian officials. An ongoing, but incomplete, analysis of this year’s violence by the Palestine Center shows that this is happening once more. Between 30 June and 9 July , CNN interviewed a total of 17 Israeli officials, but just one Palestinian official.”


As Greg Philo notes below, it isn’t just a matter of who is interviewed and how often, though that is important. It is also a matter of history and context. From most American media you would assume that the Israelis were minding their own business and the Palestinians of Gaza just irrationally started firing rockets at them. With rare exceptions, we aren’t told that most truces have been broken by Israel, not Hamas. We aren’t told that over 70% of Gaza’s population used to live in Israel and was ethnically cleansed and left penniless. We aren’t told that Israel has a blockade on Gaza that does not allow it to export most of what it produces, that this blockade has thrown 40% of the working population into unemployment and left 56% of families food insecurity (just on the verge of going to bed hungry). We aren’t told that Israeli occupation has left 90% of people in Gaza without potable water. We aren’t told that Gaza’s Palestinians demand an end to being kept in a big concentration camp. If Israelis were being treated as the Palestinians are, what do you think they would do about it? ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.juancole.com/2014/07/jebreal-against-palestinians.html



Libertarian Belief in Absolute Property Rights Leads to Climate Change Denialism


Libertarian Belief in Absolute Property Rights Leads to Climate Change Denialism
Posted on July 20, 2014 by Lambert Strether


By David Collyer, Policy Director at Prosper Australia.

Cross-posted from Macrobusiness.



Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his government do not believe in climate change. They have erased all of the measures Rudd and Gillard introduced to shift Australia to a low-carbon future.

If they merely doubted climate change, they would simply zero-price the behavior-changing settings and await more information. This is usually what cautious, evidence-based conservatives do. But no, their beliefs trump the science and they are acting boldly to turn those beliefs into law.

Does ignoring science seem as bizarre to you as it does to me?

When anti-abortionists talk of beliefs, they refer to the biblical injunction “thou shalt not kill” and, agree or not, there is a certain logic and coherence to their views. Yet underlying values seem absent from climate change denier rhetoric, or at best remains unexplained. .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2014/07/libertarians-unable-see-climate-change.html



The Untold Story In the NSA Spying Scandal: Blackmail


via Naked Capitalism:



Cross-Posted from Washington’s Blog



The Untold Story In the NSA Spying Scandal: Blackmail


It is well-documented that governments use information to blackmail and control people.

The Express reported last month:

British security services infiltrated and funded the notorious Paedophile Information Exchange in a covert operation to identify and possibly blackmail establishment figures, a Home Office whistleblower alleges.

***

Whistleblower Mr X, whose identity we have agreed to protect, became a very senior figure in local government before retiring a few years ago.

***

He has given a formal statement to that effect to detectives from Operation Fernbridge ….

***

“And he said was being funded at the request of Special Branch which found it politically useful to identify people who were paedophiles….”


Section 11 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885 made gross indecency a crime in the United Kingdom, which included male gay sex. The Amendment was so frequently used to blackmail gay Brits that it was dubbed the “Blackmailer’s Charter“.

There is widespread speculation that Pope Benedict resigned because of sexual blackmail.

And the American government has a long history of blackmailing people – including high-level officials- with knowledge of their sexual peccadilloes.

.....(snip).....

FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds alleged under oath that a recently-serving Democratic Congresswoman was secretly videotaped – for blackmail purposes – during a lesbian affair. There have been allegations of blackmail of gay activities within the U.S. armed forces for years.

And even the raw data on American citizens collected by the NSA is shared with Israel. This likely includes Congress members and other politicians, as well. .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2014/07/exclusive-high-level-nsa-whistleblower-says-blackmail-huge-unreported-part-mass-surveillance.html



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