Tuesday, January 31, 2006
New Patriot Act Provision Creates Tighter Barrier At Public Events
New Patriot Act Provision Creates Tighter Barrier to Officials at Public Events
Tuesday, January 31, 2006
By Kelley Beaucar Vlahos
WASHINGTON — A new provision tucked into the Patriot Act bill now before Congress would allow authorities to haul demonstrators at any "special event of national significance" away to jail on felony charges if they are caught breaching a security perimeter.
Sen. Arlen Specter , R-Pa., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, sponsored the measure, which would extend the authority of the Secret Service to allow agents to arrest people who willingly or knowingly enter a restricted area at an event, even if the president or other official normally protected by the Secret Service isn't in attendance at the time.
The measure has civil libertarians protesting what they say is yet another power grab for the executive branch and one more loss for free speech.
"It's definitely problematic and chilling," said Lisa Graves, senior counsel for legislative strategy at the American Civil Liberties Union , which has written letters to the chairmen and ranking members of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, pointing out that the provision wasn't subject to hearings or open debate.
Some conservatives say they too are troubled by the measure.
"It concerns me greatly," said Bob Barr, former U.S. prosecutor and Republican representative from Georgia. "It clearly raises serious concerns about First Amendment rights."
But not everyone agrees that rights are being trampled on by the additional provision. In fact, some say the ACLU is the problem when it comes to protecting national security.
Rocco DiPippo, a freelance writer for the conservative FrontPageMagazine.com and editor of The Autonomist Web log , said the ACLU has fought the government every step of the way over security measures following the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
"Its opposition to Specter's reasonable proposal is simply more of the same," he said. "I can understand the concern that we should be suspicious of government, but we shouldn't adopt this mindset: 'government is evil.' This is just more hatred of (President) Bush."
Under current law, the Secret Service can arrest anyone for breaching restricted areas where the president or a protected official is or will be visiting, but the new provision would allow such arrests even after those VIPs have left the premises of any designated "special event of national significance." The provision would increase the maximum penalty for such an infraction from six months to one year in jail.
In a post-Sept. 11 world many non-political events have been designated National Special Security Events and would rise to the higher status. Examples of possible NSSEs are the Olympics or the Super Bowl. In 2004, the presidential inaugural balls and President Ronald Reagan's June funeral procession in Washington, D.C., were designated NSSEs.
According to government sources with knowledge of the legislation, Secret Service protection and law enforcement authority would extend beyond protecting a specific person, rather the event itself would become the "protectee."
Currently, non-violent demonstrators who enter restricted areas at such events previously would be arrested and charged by local law enforcement with simple trespassing, said Graves. Under the provision included in the new law, they will be charged with felonies by the Secret Service.
"It's a different consequence to people," she said.
"You are talking about giving the executive branch broader authority to create these exclusion zones which could cover broad areas and last for days [during an event ]," David Kopel, a constitutional expert with the Cato Institute, told FOXNews.com.
A spokesman at Specter's office said the senator was surprised by the clamor over the provision, which merely makes a technical change to clear up legal confusion over who has arresting authority at NSSEs. His office had no further comment on the provision. Committee Ranking Member Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., also declined comment. Republican and Democratic House Judiciary Committee leaders did not return calls for comment.
White House sources say the measure was not instigated by the administration and pointed out that it was a stand-alone bill that was rolled into the Patriot Act by Specter's office during House-Senate conference negotiations. White House spokeswoman Dana Perino told FOXNews.com that the White House would not comment on the intent of the measure, but that the president is concerned with preserving individual rights.
"President Bush is committed to protecting the American people's national security as well as their civil liberties," she said.
Secret Service representatives said the agency does not comment on pending legislation.
The Bush administration has been criticized in the past for what many say are tactics that keep protesters far away from official events and by employing stringent policies to ensure favorable audiences for the president.
Last year, three ticket-holding audience members at one of the president's Social Security events in Denver, Colo., were apprehended by a man who they said identified himself as Secret Service. The three were forced away from the event because of an anti-war sticker on the driver's car.
"[The administration] has certainly demonstrated a desire to have carefully-controlled events," said Graves.
John Pike, director of GlobalSecurity.org, an Alexandria, Va.-based clearinghouse for domestic and international security information, said he "could certainly understand why the Secret Service would want that legal authority," given the enormous burden of making venues safe for VIPs today.
"However, I think many people have concluded that the way it is being used has nothing to do with protecting the president from Usama bin Laden and everything to do with suppressing dissent and making sure the protesters don't get on TV," Pike said.
Bush is not the first president to flex his authority in this area, said Kopel, who pointed out that beginning with Reagan, presidents have created a larger security bubble and greater distance between themselves and dissenters at public events. The 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States just intensified the situation, he said.
"I think the concerns about free speech in areas where the president is speaking long pre-date Bush. They were an issue in the Clinton administration, the first Bush administration and began as an issue during Reagan," Kopel said. "I do think the ACLU has legitimate concerns about the breadth of the new language and how it could be applied."
Graves points out that conservative "pro-life" groups will be the target of the new provisions, too, a scenario that could raise the concerns for those who are typically critical of the ACLU, which she said is necessarily concerned about other provisions in the bill that impinge on civil liberties.
House and Senate leaders, who return to Capitol Hill this week, are trying to renew the Patriot Act by Friday. Democrats and four Republicans in the Senate who filibustered a final vote in December after raising concerns about preserving civil liberties instituted a short-term extension of the previous bill, which was set to expire on Dec. 31.
Andean "Free Trade" Agreement, World Economic Forum, More
There are now so many of these "free trade" accords and other behind-the-scenes deals floating around it is difficult to keep track of them all; so whenever readers send me information that pushed their buttons, I find myself taking a look at it just in case something escaped my attention. In the case of the Andean Free Trade Agreement, it did. Here is the link to the main page:
The Peru/Andean Free Trade Agreement
And here is a link to an Action Alert--with a letter than can be copied and pasted and sent to our Senators and Representatives in the House. Whether that does any good or not can of course be questioned, but if we do not inform our Senators and Representatives in the House of our opinions based on the information that comes our way, they will never know that we are more than cannon fodder.
You may read this in connection with last night's post (below) where the UN came out of the closet, so to speak, with an open appeal for World Government.
Joan Veon is at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, reporting original information based on first hand experience.
Will the U.N. Dip Into Your Future Salary? They sure intend to try!
Do You Want To Know the Future? It's being planned for you, courtesy of the megagazillionaires of our Global Elite, at their annual meeting in Davos.
What is the relationship between CAFTA, the European Union, and Communitarian Law build up by a relatively unknown Communitarian network? Read Niki Raspana's debut two-part article and find out.
More on Sustainable Development by Michael Shaw.
Hopefully my own next piece (almost completed) on "The Global-Governance Deception" will not be dated by the time it is uploaded to the site!
Monday, January 30, 2006
United Nations Openly Calls for World Government
Well, the UN has done it--come out and openly promoted world government--unless there is some other way of interpreting the claim that the nation-state is "an old-fashioned concept." Which is what many of us have been saying all along, for years now. See the emboldened passage in the article below. This is fallout from the World Economic Forum, that gathering of the power elites and other superrich that has been taking place at Davos, Switzerland, for the past several days. Wonder where they claim to be able to get that $7 trillion.
UN unveils plan to release untapped wealth of...$7 trillion (and solve the world's problems at a stroke)
By Philip Thornton, Economics Correspondent
Published: 30 January 2006
The most potent threats to life on earth - global warming, health pandemics, poverty and armed conflict - could be ended by moves that would unlock $7 trillion - $7,000,000,000,000 (£3.9trn) - of previously untapped wealth, the United Nations claims today.
The price? An admission that the nation-state is an old-fashioned concept that has no role to play in a modern globalised world where financial markets have to be harnessed rather than simply condemned.
In a groundbreaking move, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) has drawn up a visionary proposal that has been endorsed by a range of figures including Gordon Brown, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel Laureate.
It says an unprecedented outbreak of co-operation between countries, applied through six specific financial tools, would slice through the Gordian knot of problems that have bedevilled the world for most of the last century.
If its recommendations are accepted - and the authors acknowledge this could take years or even decades - it could finally force countries to face up to the fact that their public finance and growth figures conceal the vast damage their economies do to the environment.
At the heart of the proposal, unveiled at a gathering of world business leaders at the Swiss ski resort of Davos, is a push to get countries to account for the cost of failed policies, and use the money saved "up front" to avert crises before they hit. Top of the list is a challenge to the United States to join an international pollution permit trading system which, the UN claims, could deliver $3.64trn of global wealth.
Inge Kaul, a special adviser at the UNDP, said: "The way we run our economies today is vastly expensive and inefficient because we don't manage risk well and we don't prevent crises." She downplayed concerns over up-front costs and interest payments for the new-fangled financial devices. "The gains in terms of development would outweigh those costs. Money is wasted because we dribble aid, and the costs of not solving the problems are much, much higher than what we would have to pay for getting the financial markets to lend the money."
The UNDP is determined to ensure globalisation, which has generated vast wealth for multinational companies, benefits the poorest in society.
It urges politicians to embrace some groundbreaking schemes put in place in the past 12 months to tackle global warning, poverty and disease, based on working with the global markets to share out the risk.
These include a pilot international finance facility (IFF) to "front load" $4bn of cash for vaccines by borrowing money against pledges of future government aid.
The scheme, which is backed by the UK, France, Italy, Spain, Sweden and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, was born out of a proposal by Gordon Brown for a larger scheme to double the total aid budget to $100bn a year.
In an endorsement of the report, Mr Brown said: "This shows how we can equip people and countries for a new global economy that combined greater prosperity and fairness both within and across nations."
The UNDP says rich countries should build on this and go further. It proposes six schemes to harness the power of the markets:
* Reducing greenhouse gas emissions through pollution permit trading; net gain $3.64trn.
* Cutting poor countries' borrowing costs by securing the debts against the income from stable parts of their economies; net gain $2.90trn.
* Reducing government debt costs by linking payments to the country's economic output; net gain $600bn.
* An enlarged version of the vaccine scheme; net gain (including benefits of lower mortality) $47bn.
* Using the vast flow of money from migrants back to their home country to guarantee; net gain $31bn.
* Aid agencies underwriting loans to market investors to lower interest rates; net gain $22bn.
Professor Stiglitz, the former chief economist of the World Bank and a staunch critic of the way globalisation harms the poor, said: "Globalisation has meant the closer integration of countries, and that in turn has meant a greater need for collective action.
"One of the most important areas of failure is the environment. Without government intervention, firms and households have no incentive to limit their pollution." He said a global public finance system would force countries to acknowledge the external damage their policies had, "the most important being global climate change".
Solving the environmental crisis tops the UN's $7trn wish-list. It calls for an international market to trade pollution permits that would encourage rich countries to cut pollution and hit their targets under the Kyoto protocol.
But - and the UN admits it is a big "but" - the US would have to sign up to Kyoto and carbon trading to achieve the $3.64trn that it believes the system would deliver over time.
"We are dealing with a global problem as pollution can only be dealt with internationally," Ms Kaul said. Richard Sandor, the head of the Chicago Climate Exchange, added: "Many encouraging signs are emerging. When the business case is clear, private entrepreneurs step forward."
But, the proposal is unlikely to get support from some green groups who believe that action to curb consumption, rather than market incentives, are the way to reduce carbon emissions.
Andrew Simms, director of the New Economics Foundation, said it left unanswered questions over how these markets would be managed and how the benefits and costs would be distributed. "We have nothing against markets so it would be missing the point to get into a pro- or anti-market stance. The point is how you distribute the benefits."
He said the Nineties, the zenith decade for globalisation, had seen just 60 cents out of every $100 worth of growth reach the poorest in society, compared with the $2.20 in the Eighties.
He said a pollution trading regime had the potential to deliver "enormous" benefits to poor countries, but said the UN report failed to show a detailed plan.
"Our view is that you have to cap pollution, allocate permits and then you can trade. But it depends on how it is set up. Because you are dealing with a global commons of the atmosphere, the danger is that you could be effectively dealing in stolen goods."
He said a system set up now to trade in pollution permits could end up permanently depriving poor countries that joined the system further down the road.
International problems - and solutions
Millions of people across the developing world have died from malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/Aids, as well as from other pandemics. Vaccines needed to avert them require much-needed investment.
SOLUTION: An advance commitment by rich countries to buy $3bn (£1.7bn) worth of vaccines would be enough to encourage pharmaceutical giants to invest in finding medicines that would eliminate these pandemics.
ALTERNATIVE SOLUTION: Vaccines are needed but more should be done in the meantime. Extra aid is needed for simple tools such as mosquito nets that would curb spread of malaria.
Big business and global money ignore countries where they see the risk of conflict outweighing their potential profit margins.
SOLUTION: Guarantees by international organisations such as the International Monetary Fund to lower the cost of borrowing for poor nations by underwriting investors' loans to conflict-torn states.
ALTERNATIVE SOLUTION: Sometimes large volumes of cash are needed and this is one. Live8 showed there was huge support among taxpayers for higher aid to countries in distress.
Hitting a commitment made in the 1960s of 0.7 per cent of GDP would unlock $140bn a year.
Once great nations such as Brazil and Argentina were reduced to the status of beggars after poor economic policy combined with debts with national and international lenders.
SOLUTION: A system to enable countries to take loans linked to their average economic growth rate to ensure that they do not have to cut public spending to raise the money to borrow needed funds during the hard times.
ALTERNATIVE SOLUTION: A system to allow countries to seek protection from their creditors in the same way that US companies can take so-called Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Poor countries suffer most from swings in investment tastes by the big global investors that means money can leave as soon as it arrives.
SOLUTION: Enable countries to buy "insurance policies" against big swings in growth that would ensure that they did not have to cut public spending every time. In 1997 it wreaked havoc across South-east Asia.
ALTERNATIVE SOLUTION: Curb speculative investment by imposing a tax on foreign exchange transactions aimed at destabilising a currency. It could directly raise funds for development while preventing the worst excesses of the markets.
Scientists believe human activity has led to climate change and disappearing Arctic ice. The world's poor also have to live with lethal storms and floods.
UN SOLUTION: A system of international trading in permits to allow pollution that would encourage countries to cut their emission of greenhouse gases so they can sell their "right to pollute" to other states. UNDP says it is more effective than just setting targets.
ALTERNATIVE SOLUTION: An international approach is needed but one that prevents people from causing harm by setting pollution targets rather than trying to bribe them not to. Also agree global airline tax.
Millions of skilled workers leave their home countries every year in search of a better life in the West. In some states nine out 10 professionals have left.
SOLUTION: Enable countries to borrow on the open markets against the money workers send home. The capital would be used to invest in the country to build infrastructure that would discourage people from leaving.
ALTERNATIVE SOLUTION: An international code of ethical guidelines overseen by bodies such as the World Health Organisation (for doctors and nurses) to monitor the harm that migration of professionals causes.
Monday, January 23, 2006
Just How Much Trouble Are We In, Anyway?
Begin with the future of the U.S. economy (the one the mainstream media assures us is expanding?). This comes courtesy of Cal S. (thanks), but nowhere on the email can I find the author's identity. This bothers me, but the content rings true, is consistent with other things posted here recently. Good reason to get your valuables out of banks, keep your gas tank full, buy precious metals, etc.
Subject: Collapse of US Economy Imminent
January Saturday 21st 2006 (01h49) :
Collapse of U.S. Economy Imminent
In its attempt to establish a world empire dominating every nation on the planet, the U.S. has exhausted its ability to finance the expansion and the country now faces imminent financial collapse. From all indications, it looks like 2006 will spell the end for America.
Consider these five important points:
-Point #1 The U.S., Great Britain and Israel are preparing to attack Iran. As it appears the main reason for invading Iraq was to stop it from selling oil in Euros, likewise Iran has plans to dump the dollar come March 2006.
-Point #2 U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow issued a warning recently that the U.S. Government is on the verge of collapse - as the statutory debt limit imposed by Congress of $8.184 trillion dollars would be reached in mid-February - the government would then be unable to continue its normal operations. Considering the current total U.S. debt stands at $8.162 trillion dollars, once the official debt ceiling ($8.184 trillion) is reached, the U.S. government’s credit abroad (its borrowing power) is gone. Those countries (mainly China) who presently keep America afloat by holding U.S. Treasury Notes, will most likely no longer continue doing so.
-Point #3 Bank Of America and Compass Bank managers (probably all other U.S. banks too) have been instructing their employees in the last few weeks on how to respond to customer demands in the event of a collapse of the U.S. economy - specifically telling the employees that only agents from the Department Of Homeland Security will have authority to decide what belongings customers may have from their safe deposit boxes - and that precious metals and other valuables will not be released to U.S. citizens. The bank employees have been strictly prohibited from revealing the banks’ new "guidelines" to anyone. (however, employees have been talking to friends and family)
The next time you visit your bank, ask them about it - then ask yourself, why is this information being kept secret from customers and the public - what’s really going on?
-Point #4 FEMA has activated and is currently staffing its vast network of empty internment camps with armed military personnel - unknown to most Americans, these large federal facilities are strategically positioned across the U.S. landscape to "manage" the population in the event of a "terrorist" attack, a civilian uprising, large-scale dissent ,or an insurrection against the government. Some of these razor-wired facilities have the capacity of detaining a million people.
-Point #5 The Patriot Act and the US Senate’s vote to ban habeas corpus (Nov 14th) - along with George W. Bush having signed executive orders giving him sole authority to impose martial law, suspend habeas corpus and ignore the Posse Comitatus Act, have together pretty much destroyed any notions of freedom and justice for Americans.
-Summary: The U.S. economy is broken, the United States is bankrupt - the unchecked spending by this administration, the illegally waged wars against Afghanistan and Iraq, the cost of unprecedented weapons and military build-up - have all contributed to an irreversible emergency which is threatening our nation’s existence and our very lives.
Hospitals are closing, major corporations are declaring bankruptcy and/or moving their companies overseas, the monopolized news media spews nothing but lies, and our fearless leaders have turned out to be only ruthless criminals hell-bent on destabilizing our country and robbing us all.
Be aware - we stand at the threshold of total ruin - the international bankers and war profiteers care little for our lives and families - these demons worship money and all things vile and evil - they have very much to gain from war, misery, disease, famine, chaos and death (our deaths).
We are right on the edge - the Treasury is already overextended - the U.S. government cannot (and will not) care for its own citizens’ needs, nor secure our borders against illegal aliens - plus, the whole "terrorist" thing is a cruel hoax perpetrated against a trusting citizenry - and only designed to instill fear and garner support for the genocide taking place in Iraq.
Should America (along with British & Israeli forces) launch a war against Iran, or another country, without yet paying for, or even recovering from the current losses in Iraq and elsewhere - the costs of such of an invasion will overwhelm an already crippled economy and push the U.S. over the edge into oblivion.
-Question: Considering the U.S. Treasury Notes that China currently holds (which keeps the U.S. economy going)...
Do you think China will continue to support a country’s economy (the U.S.) whose military launches a nuclear strike against its neighbor (Iran) - thus delivering a blanket of radioactive fallout over western Chinese provinces - killing hundreds of thousands, if not millions of its citizens?
I think not.
Factoring in the aforementioned points of "preparation" engineered by U.S. authorities, I’d say there’s a stinking rat in the woodpile ...can you smell it too?
Also this, by Michael Haupt, also courtesy of Cal S.--SY.
>> Attack on Iran?
>> The alternative press is replete with rumors of an Iran
>> attack by the US in the first quarter of 2006. When one
>> considers the recent comments from Mahmoud
>> Ahmadinejad, Iran's President, it does appear as if
>> tensions are being deliberately stirred.
>> To quote one writer, who will remain anonymous:
>> "Ahmadinejad is a dangerous, loose cannon. His head seems
>> filled with a jumble of anti-Semitic, anti-Western venom,
>> rabid nationalism, and flaming Islamic fanaticism.
>> The evidence: Over the past few months, Ahmadinejad has
>> outraged the world with these pronouncements:
>> - The Holocaust is a myth. It never happened.
>> - The State of Israel should be wiped off the map.
>> - Iran is within its rights to resume work on uranium
>> enrichment whether the rest of the world likes it or not.
>> Ahmadinejad seems to be working overtime to pick a fight, not
>> just with the U.S. but with the entire Western world."
>> What this writer doesn't realize is that the planned World War
>> Three is specifically engineered to erupt between Islam and Israel.
>> If one reads the summarized developments for December 2005, it
>> certainly seems as if the neo-cons are ready for the planned
>> Middle East conflagration in the next few months.
>> See my updated December review for details at
>> If Iran is invaded, be prepared for gold to climb even higher
>> than it has over the past 4 months. Although there has been a
>> major correction over the past 2 days, gold's rise seems
>> unstoppable. This correction is a perfect opportunity to
>> purchase additional reserves, if you are able to do so.
>> Fresh Wisdom
>> As events continue to worsen during 2006, I cannot stress the
>> value of changing one's mindset in preparation for the tough
>> times ahead. The only book I can recommend which assists in
>> this vital exercise is Fresh Wisdom. If you haven't done so
>> already, please read my review at
>> That's all for this time, Cal.
>> All the best for a fulfilling 2006,
>> Michael Haupt
Sunday, January 22, 2006
"Real ID" Update.
The article describes Real ID as having been "motivated by the Sept. 11 attacks." This brings forth a response that would not be suitable to reproduce here, LOL. The Federal Government wanted to give every American citizen a National ID back in the late 1990s, with a stealth provision in an omnibus bill Clinton signed that would have put "unique identifiers" on drivers licenses with a system in place on November 1, 2000. It was beaten back by an Internet-led public rebellion. There was also an effort against unfunded Federal mandates generally which fizzled.
Now, of course, the Feds are getting what they want, and saying it was "motivated by the 9/11 attacks."
Small wonder there are people who think those attacks were an "inside job"!
I'm reproducing the whole article, which comes courtesy of Joan Masters (thanks), originally on Associated Press (sue me!).
AP Exclusive: National ID, State Nightmare
By BRIAN BERGSTEIN, AP Technology Writer
Thu Jan 12, 5:46 PM ET
An anti-terrorism law creating a national standard for all driver's licenses by 2008 isn't upsetting just civil libertarians and immigration rights activists.
State motor vehicle officials nationwide who will have to carry out the Real ID Act say its authors grossly underestimated its logistical, technological and financial demands.
In a comprehensive survey obtained by The Associated Press and in follow-up interviews, officials cast doubt on the states' ability to comply with the law on time and fretted that it will be a budget buster.
"It is just flat out impossible and unrealistic to meet the prescriptive provisions of this law by 2008," Betty Serian, a deputy secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, said in an interview.
Nebraska's motor vehicles director, responding to the survey by the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, said that to comply with Real ID her state "may have to consider extreme measures and possibly a complete reorganization."
And a new record-sharing provision of Real ID was described by an Illinois official as "a nightmare for all states."
"Can we go home now??" the official wrote.
States use a hodgepodge of systems and standards in granting driver's licenses and identification cards. In some places, a high school yearbook may be enough to prove identity.
A major goal of Real ID — which was motivated by the Sept. 11 attacks, whose perpetrators had legitimate driver's licenses — is to unify the disparate licensing rules and make it harder to fraudulently obtain a card.
The law also demands that states link their record-keeping systems to national databases so duplicate applications can be detected, illegal immigrants caught and driving histories shared.
State licenses that fail to meet Real ID's standards will not be able to be used to board an airplane or enter a federal building.
The law, which was attached to a funding measure for the Iraq war last May, has been criticized by civil libertarians who contend it will create a de facto national ID card and new centralized databases, inhibiting privacy.
State organizations such as the National Governors Association have blasted the law as well. Many states will have to amend laws in order to comply.
Jeff Lungren, a spokesman for Real ID's principal backer, House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., said there is no chance states might win a delay of the 2008 deadline.
"We gave three years for this process," he said. "Every day that we continue to have security loopholes, we're at greater risk."
The August survey by the motor vehicle administrators' group, which has not been made public, asked licensing officials nationwide for detailed reports on what it will take to meet Real ID's demands.
It was not meant to produce an overall estimate of the cost of complying with Real ID. But detailed estimates produced by a few states indicate the price will blow past a February 2005 analysis by the Congressional Budget Office, which estimated Congress would need to spend $100 million reimbursing states.
Pennsylvania alone estimated a hit of up to $85 million. Washington state projected at least $46 million annually in the first several years.
Separately, a December report to Virginia's governor pegged the potential price tag for that state as high as $169 million, with $63 million annually in successive years. Of the initial cost, $33 million would be just to redesign computing systems.
It remains unclear how much funding will come from the federal government and how much the states will shoulder by raising fees on driver's licenses.
"If you begin to look at the full ramifications of this, we are talking about billions and billions of dollars. Congress simply passed an unfunded mandate," said Barry Steinhardt, director of the technology and liberty project at the American Civil Liberties Union. "Every motorist in America is going to pay the price of this, of the Congress' failure to do a serious exploration of the cost, the complexity, of the difficulty."
The survey respondents and officials interviewed by the AP noted that many concerns might be resolved as the Department of Homeland Security clarifies its expectations for the law — such as whether existing licenses can be grandfathered in — before it takes effect May 11, 2008.
As of now, however, it appears little has changed since the survey described a multitude of hurdles.
• The law demands that states mine multiple databases to check the accuracy of documents submitted by license applicants. Several states questioned how that will work, especially with confirming birth certificates. Iowa said it didn't think the states would be able to make the required vital-records upgrades within three years.
• Some states' ancient computing systems will have to be overhauled in order to link to other networks. Minnesota runs a 1980s-era mainframe system; Rhode Island says its "circa 1979" COBOL-based network will require a $20 million upgrade.
• Many states don't make drivers prove they are legally in the country, but the law will now demand such documentation. It also calls for states to run license applications through a federal database known as SAVE that was launched by a 1986 law aimed at preventing illegal immigrants from receiving federal benefits. One problem, though, is that the "SAVE database is notoriously unreliable ... months behind," said South Carolina's response to the survey.
• After drivers submit documents to prove their identities, states will have to retain paper copies of those documents for at least seven years or digital images for 10 years. Some states fretted about the storage costs; others worried about how to capture images of all those files. Alabama's survey response called the project "massive," saying that while the state had the proper equipment at six licensing centers, "we do not have the resources to equip all of our 79 offices." Added Massachusetts: "This equipment is very expensive!"
• Real ID requires that a license show someone's principal residence. But state officials object that a mailing address makes more sense for many people — for "snowbirds" who spend time in two states, for example or for public officials who want to protect their privacy. "What should the procedure be for a person who lives in a RV?" asks South Dakota's report.
• The law calls for a person's "full legal name," no nickname or abbreviations, on licenses. Cards have to be redesigned and databases must be reprogrammed to make room for extremely long names, likely up to 125 characters. That's not an easy process. By itself it accounts for $4 million of North Dakota's $5.9 million estimated impact.
• Motor-vehicle employees will be subject to background checks, but several officials said it was unclear what would disqualify someone from being able to process licenses. Maryland's response said waiting for security clearances "could cause staffing shortage."
• Real ID demands that all driver's licenses or ID cards have pictures that can be read by facial-recognition technology. That would end many states' practice of letting people with certain religious beliefs request not to have a picture. Tennessee, meanwhile, allows anyone older than 60 to get a "valid without photo" license.
"If you take any one of these things individually, you see a significant problem," Steinhardt said. "There are literally hundreds of these problems embedded in Real ID, and the statute doesn't give you a way out. It's black and white. No exceptions, no reality check.
"In many respects it's a statute that ignores reality."
On the Net:
Summary of the law by National Conference of State Legislatures:
Virginia's December report:
(requires Adobe Reader)
Copyright © 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
by Bill Bonner
I, Alan Aurifericus Nefarious Greenspan, Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank, holder of the Medal of Freedom, Knight of the British Empire, member of the French Legion of Honor, known to my peers as the "greatest central banker who ever lived," (I will not trouble you with all my titles. I will not mention, for example, that I was the winner of the prestigious Enron Prize for distinguished public service, awarded on November 1, 2001, just days after Enron began to collapse in a heap of corruption charges) am about to give you the strange history of my later years.
For I will dispense with childhood…even with young adulthood, and those dreary sessions with that terminally dreary woman, Ayn Rand, who couldn’t write a compelling sentence if her life depended on it. I’ll also dispense with my own dreary years at the Council of Economic Advisors, and pass directly to the time I spent as the most powerful man in the world. For here are my real titles: Emperor of the world’s most powerful money, despot of the world’s largest and most dynamic economy, and architect of the most audacious financial system this sorry globe has ever seen.
Yes, I, Alan Greenspan, ruled the financial world. But who ruled Alan Greenspan? Ah…I will come to that, and tell you how, while presiding over the biggest boom ever I became caught in what I may call the "golden predicament" from which I have never since become disentangled.
This is not by any means the first thing I have written. I have written much over the years. But it was all written for a purpose, which only a few were able to discern. Most readers foolishly saw the cluttered mind of a dithering economist or the clumsy, stuttering pen of a professional bureaucrat. Many listening to my wandering speeches and twisting sentences thought that English was not my first language. They thought they detected a faint accent, like that of Henry Kissinger or Michael Caine. They mocked me as "incomprehensible" or "indecipherable." They watched what they thought was an obsequious bureaucrat squirm. They had no idea what I was really up to and what I can only now reveal.
But they admired me, too. I knew it. Because they saw in me a kind of genius…a Bernoulli of banking…a Newton of numbers…a Leibnitz of lucre…a Copernicus of currency. My mind worked at such a high pitch, they believed, that my thoughts were inaudible to most humans. They counted on me to keep the great empire’s economy trundling forward. Little (actually nothing) did they know of my real thoughts and designs.
But now, all has changed. Now, I can write clearly and speak the truth. For now I am leaving my post. There is no further need for me to dissemble; no further need for me to pretend to kow-tow before Congressional committees; no further need to hide the real facts from my employers and the American people. Now, I swear by the gods, what I write comes from my own hand, and not from some overpaid, anonymous flack.
Some are born in crisis, some create crisis, and others have crisis thrust upon them.
Let me begin at the beginning. Scarcely had I settled into to the big chair at the Fed when a crisis was thrust upon me. And it is true, I responded in the conventional manner. There is no manual for central bankers, but there is a code of behavior. Faced with a financial crisis of any sort, a central banker’s first duty is to run to the monetary valves and open them. This I did in 1987. I was new to the job and probably didn’t open them enough. The U.S. economy lagged its rivals in Europe for several years. My old boss, George Bush, the elder, lost his bid for re-election in 1992 and blamed it on me. I resolved never to make that mistake again. Faced with a slew of challenges, shocks, uncertainties, crises and elections…ever thereafter, I made sure that every valve, throttle, level, switch and sluice gate was wide open.
But it was on December 5, 1996, that I had my first epiphany. That was the year that I made my celebrated remark about stock prices. I wondered aloud if they did not reflect a kind of "irrational exuberance." In truth, whether they did or did not, I do not know. But what I came to realize was this: 1) People, especially my employers, actually wanted prices that were irrationally exuberant. And 2) they could become far more irrationally exuberant if we put our minds to it.
I was 70 years old at the time. I had weaseled (why not be honest about it?) my way to the top post by knowing the right people and by making myself generally agreeable, and helpful, and by not saying anything anyone could disagree with. That was the original reason for what the press called "Greenspan speak." My private thoughts remained mine alone. All the public and the politicians got was gobbledygook, but for good reason.
They would not have wanted to hear what I really thought. So, I did not tell them. For I knew well and good what generally happened when politicians and central bankers got their hands on soft money and a compliant central banker. I was not born yesterday. They use their control of the money to cheat people. It is as simple as that. (I explained this early on in my career; fortunately, no one bothered to read what I wrote. Otherwise, I never would have gotten the job.) If central banking were an honest métier, there would be no reason to have it at all. Private banks could do the job better.
But people are ready to believe anything. Somehow, they think that a collection of rich financiers and power-mad politicians got together to create and run a central bank for the benefit of the people! Well, I’ve got news: it doesn’t work that way. Money is only valuable when it is rare. It is like stock in a company. The shareholder is happy to hold a few shares. But imagine how he would feel if the company issued a few million more shares. His own ownership of the valuable thing is diluted. He would be cheated.
Likewise, an honest banker cannot dilute his depositors’ money. He cannot create real money "out of thin air," as if he were issuing new share certificates, without cheating his clients. But that is exactly what central bankers do. They issue a certain amount of currency. Then, they issue more and more of it. So, the people who got it and saved it lose a little bit of the value each year. In effect, the value is lost by the savers and captured by the people who control the currency. It is really a very simple swindle. Who but an octogenarian Fed chief, on his way out the door, would have the courage to say so?
People today act as if they had invented money themselves. But money, central banking, and currency debasing have been around a long time. In 64 A.D., Nero decreed that the number of aureus coins minted from a pound of gold would increase from 41 to 45 (each coin would be about 10% less valuable). The silver denarius, meanwhile, lost 99.98% in the five centuries before the sacking of Rome. Paper sheds value even faster. The dollar has lost 95% of its purchasing power since the Fed was set up to protect it in 1913.
A successful central banker, in the age of compliant paper money, is one who is able to control the rate of ruin so that the rubes don’t catch on. A little bit of inflation, they believe, is actually healthy. Haven’t the economists told them so? Issuing a little bit more money each year makes people feel richer…so they spend more; they hire more people; they build more houses. Everybody is happy. Everyone feels richer. What an elegant fraud! It’s almost a perfect crime, because no one objects as long as it is done right. (My replacement at the Fed, Ben Bernanke, specializes in controlling the rate at which central bankers can steal from dollar holders without getting caught. He says that if necessary, he’ll "drop money from helicopters" should the currency fail to lose value fast enough. I predict that there will be a lot of people who will want to drop him from a helicopter…for reasons I will explain here.)
I return to my narrative. After I made my remark about "irrational exuberance," I was called into Congress. The politicians who confronted me were the usual oafs and know-nothings. They made it clear that if I wanted to hold onto my job, I would have to stop worrying whether asset prices were too high; instead, I would need to do all I could to goose them up! It was on that very day, I recall it well, that what I had previously seen only in foggy theory came out into the clear, bright daylight of applied central banking.
No one wants honest money. No one. The politicians, bankers, investors, voters, and householders – anyone with a voice in the matter wants "easy" money. It is just too delicious to resist. (I wondered what kind of a central banker would stand against them; he would need a backbone of titanium like Paul Volcker, and a head as thick and hard as a vault.) Debtors want a little inflation to lighten their burdens and put a wind to their backs. Creditors want inflation to swell their asset values. Politicians want to be re-elected. Businessmen want customers with money to throw around. Is there anyone who doesn’t appreciate a little inflation?
And yet, of course, I always knew the answer. Easy money only works by defrauding people into thinking they have more money than they really do. Easy come; easy go. They get it; they spend it. Before you know it, you have a boom. But people soon adjust their expectations. Prices rise to catch up to new money. Debt levels increase, and with them come heavier debt service costs. The magic fades. What can a central banker do? He can do the right thing. He can "take the punch bowl away," as my predecessors used to say. But this is where the trouble begins. Take away the punch bowl, and they begin punching you! I recall they burned Paul Volcker in effigy on the Capital steps when he did it. They would have burned him alive if they could have gotten their hands on him.
Why should I, Greenspan, suffer such a fate? No, it was not for me. This was the "golden predicament" I faced. Yes, I knew well that the nation would be better off if the punch bowl were removed, but I knew that I would be removed too, if I did it. And I knew, also, that it would be just a matter of time until the pressure for easy money would overwhelm any resistance a Fed chairman could put up. No pure paper money system has ever lasted. People can never resist the temptation to make the money easier and easier…until it is so wobbly and woozy it falls on its face. It’s better that it falls sooner rather than later. It’s better that the lesson is taught now, rather than 10 years from now. It’s better that the lean times come on the next man’s watch, not on mine! That’s what I owe to old Ayn; she taught me who rules Greenspan – Greenspan! Ayn taught me the number one rule: Look out for Numero Uno.
I remember it so clearly. I was sitting in a House committee hearing room. My tormentors kept asking questions. I kept giving the kind of answers for which I later became famous…answers that didn’t say anything. And I thought to myself: if these lardheads want easy money, I’ll give them easy money. I’ll give them the easiest money the planet has ever seen! I’ll give it to them good and hard!
And so, I did.
Since I joined the Fed, outstanding home-mortgage debt has jumped from $1.8 trillion to $8.2 trillion. Total consumer debt went from $2.7 trillion to $11 trillion. Household debt has quadrupled.
And government debt, too, exploded. The feds owed less than $2 trillion in the second Reagan administration, a figure that had been almost constant for the previous 40 years. But under my direction, the red ink has overflowed like the Nile in flood – to over $7 trillion.
During the two terms of George W. Bush alone, the feds have borrowed more money from foreign governments and banks than all other American administrations put together, from 1776 to 2000. And more debt will be added in the eight Bush years than in the previous two hundred. The trade deficit, too, more than tripled since I’ve been at the Fed, from 150.7 to 756.8 billion, and will reach $830 billion in 2006. When I came to power, the United States was still a creditor. Now, it is a debtor, with more than $11 trillion worth of U.S. assets in foreign hands, a more than 500% increase since 1987.
Who can argue with such a record? Who can compete with it? Who would want to?
But that is the smooth, perverse pleasure a cynical old man takes in his achievements. I have practically ruined the nation, and I know it. If you distributed the cost of the federal government’s programs, promises, and pledges to the voters, along with the nation’s private debt, the typical household, and the nation itself, would be broke. And yet, almost everywhere I go, I am revered as a maestro…saluted as if I were a war hero. It is as if I had won World War II all by myself. The same numbskulls that wanted easy money 10 years ago, now praise me for causing what they call "The Great Moderation," as if there were anything moderate about America’s borrowing binge.
Others say that my real legacy is that I finally "made central banking work." Yes, I made it work…just like it’s supposed to work, giving the people enough rope so they could hang themselves. That’s what they’ve done. Now, they dangle from a long rope of mortgages, deficits and credit cards.
And I am delighted. Soon, people will be able to see how central banking really works. And poor Ben Bernanke will get the blame for it. He and his stupid helicopters…he almost deserves it.
January 21, 2006
Bill Bonner [send him mail] is the author, with Addison Wiggin, of Financial Reckoning Day: Surviving the Soft Depression of The 21st Century and Empire of Debt: The Rise Of An Epic Financial Crisis.
Copyright © 2006 Bill Bonner
Bill Bonner Archives
Saturday, January 21, 2006
Cold War II Has Begun
Russia's SS-27 Makes Bush's
Missile Defense A Fantasy
By Charles Assisi
The Times of India
On November 2, a rather staid little story appeared on a ticker powered by Itar-Tass, a Russian News Agency. The tone was decidedly Russian-matter-of-fact and shorn of all hyperbole. It reported the test launch of a ballistic missile called the Topol RS 12 at 8:10 pm Moscow time. After taking off from the Kapustny Yar test range in the Astrakhan region, it hit the intended target at Balkhash in Kazakhstan at 8:34-24 minutes later.
"The target was precisely hit," said the report, quoting a top-ranking official from the Russian armed forces.
In conclusion, Itar-Tass added some jargon that sounded like regulation copy to most people tracking defence:
"The advanced Topol missile has three cruise engines and can develop hypersonic speed. The high thrust-to-weight ratio allows the warhead to manoeuvre on the trajectory and pass through a dense air defence system."
At that time, not many defence analysts thought much of the report. After all, Kapustny Yar, located on the banks of the Volga river, 75 miles east of Volgograd (formerly Stalingrad), had gone to the dogs and was infrequently used. Whenever the base was lucky to see some action, all it witnessed was small payloads.
But what the mainstream media missed was analysed in great detail on internet discussion boards. For starters, something about the time mentioned in the report sounded astounding.
For anything to travel from Kapustny to Balkash in 24 minutes, it had to fly at a speed of three miles a second. That's 180 miles a minute or 10,800 miles an hour.
If the reports were indeed true, the Topol RS 12 or the Topol SS 27, as it is known in military circles around the world, had to be the fastest thing man has ever seen. And if you will for a moment excuse the breathlessness, it also represented the pinnacle of modern missile technology. Until this test, the fastest thing known to man was the X43 A. A hypersonic, unmanned plane built by NASA. It flew at 10 times the speed of sound-almost 7,200 miles per hour.
But the Topol isn't attracting attention for its speed alone. It has got more to do with the sheer viciousness it demonstrates. A conventional intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), once deployed, takes off on the back of a booster. After attaining a certain altitude, it follows a set flight path or trajectory. When it reaches the intended target, it lets loose a set of warheads that home in on the target with devastating accuracy. Given these dynamics, military establishments build defence systems that can intercept an ICBM before it strikes. Often, the defence works.
With the Topol, these dynamics simply don't come into play. To start with, the damn thing can be manoeuvred mid-flight. This makes it practically impossible for any radar system in the world to figure out what trajectory it will follow.
The other thing is the kind of evasion technology built into the missile. That makes it invulnerable to any kind of radiation and electromagnetic and physical interference.
Then there is the question of ground-based nuclear warheads traditionally deployed to stop ICBMs in their path. Until now, any ICBM can be taken down by detonating a nuclear warhead from as far as 10 kilometres. The Topol doesn't blink an eyelid until the time a nuclear warhead gets as close as 500 meters. But given the Topol's remarkable speed and manoeuvrability, getting a warhead that close is practically impossible.
That leaves defence establishments with only two options. Target the missile at its most vulnerable points - either when it is on the ground or when it is just being deployed (also known as the boost phase).
Apparently, the Russians have gotten around that problem, too. Unlike virtually every ICBM that exists on some military base or the other, the Topol doesn't have to be on a static base. All it needs is the back of a truck. And trucks can be driven anywhere, anytime. That makes it practically impossible for any country to monitor how many of these missiles have been deployed and where.
Writes Scott Ritter, a former intelligence officer and weapons inspector in the Soviet Union and Iraq in the Christian Science Monitor:
"The Bush administration's dream of a viable NMD has been rendered fantasy by the Russian test of the SS-27 Topol-M.. To counter the SS-27 threat, the US will need to start from scratch."
But when you're done marvelling at the technology, sit back for a moment and consider this. You thought the cold war was over. You thought wrong. Cold War II has just begun. And the world just became a more dangerous place.
To recap the SS-27 'highlights'...
The Topol SS 27 can be manoeuvred mid-flight. this makes it impossible for radar systems to figure out its flight path.
It is invulnerable to radiation and electromagnetic and physical interference.
It can be mounted on the back of a truck, which makes it difficult to monitor how many of these missiles have been deployed and where.
Feds Demand Search Records From Google
US gov demands Google search records
By Andrew Orlowski in San Francisco
Published Thursday 19th January 2006 19:17 GMT
The US Department of Justice has taken Google to court, demanding it hand over all searches made in a one week period. It's a fishing expedition, unconnected with any ongoing criminal prosecution. The DOJ wants the information to back up its attempt to revive an anti-pornography law derailed by the Supreme Court two years ago.
The subpoena was issued last year, and Google refused the request - but we only learn of the case week, via a San Jose Mercury News report. The DoJ has now ordered a Federal Judge to force Google to comply.
It's a step too far even for a company with a fast and loose attitude to privacy.
"Google is not a party to this lawsuit, and the demand for the information is overreaching,'' Google counsel Nicola Wong told the Merc.
Google sets its cookies to expire in 2038, and launched products and services which make that cookie personally identifiable with a user, such as GMail, and a "personalized" search page.
"We are moving to a Google that knows more about you," Google CEO Eric Schmidt promised last year.
If, as looks likely, the DoJ succeeds, then surfers worldwide will have a US Attorney General who knows a lot more about you, too. ®
MS, AOL and Yahoo! caved to Feds' fishing expedition (21 January 2006)
Thursday, January 19, 2006
Iran and the Iranian Oil Bourse
The Proposed Iranian Oil Bourse
Krassimir Petrov, Ph. D.
January 17, 2006
Abstract: the proposed Iranian Oil Bourse will accelerate the fall of the American Empire.
I. Economics of Empires
A nation-state taxes its own citizens, while an empire taxes other nation-states. The history of empires, from Greek and Roman, to Ottoman and British, teaches that the economic foundation of every single empire is the taxation of other nations. The imperial ability to tax has always rested on a better and stronger economy, and as a consequence, a better and stronger military. One part of the subject taxes went to improve the living standards of the empire; the other part went to strengthen the military dominance necessary to enforce the collection of those taxes.
Historically, taxing the subject state has been in various forms - usually gold and silver, where those were considered money, but also slaves, soldiers, crops, cattle, or other agricultural and natural resources, whatever economic goods the empire demanded and the subject-state could deliver. Historically, imperial taxation has always been direct: the subject state handed over the economic goods directly to the empire.
For the first time in history, in the twentieth century, America was able to tax the world indirectly, through inflation. It did not enforce the direct payment of taxes like all of its predecessor empires did, but distributed instead its own fiat currency, the U.S. Dollar, to other nations in exchange for goods with the intended consequence of inflating and devaluing those dollars and paying back later each dollar with less economic goods - the difference capturing the U.S. imperial tax. Here is how this happened.
Early in the 20th century, the U.S. economy began to dominate the world economy. The U.S. dollar was tied to gold, so that the value of the dollar neither increased, nor decreased, but remained the same amount of gold. The Great Depression, with its preceding inflation from 1921 to 1929 and its subsequent ballooning government deficits, had substantially increased the amount of currency in circulation, and thus rendered the backing of U.S. dollars by gold impossible. This led Roosevelt to decouple the dollar from gold in 1932. Up to this point, the U.S. may have well dominated the world economy, but from an economic point of view, it was not an empire. The fixed value of the dollar did not allow the Americans to extract economic benefits from other countries by supplying them with dollars convertible to gold.
Economically, the American Empire was born with Bretton Woods in 1945. The U.S. dollar was not fully convertible to gold, but was made convertible to gold only to foreign governments. This established the dollar as the reserve currency of the world. It was possible, because during WWII, the United States had supplied its allies with provisions, demanding gold as payment, thus accumulating significant portion of the world's gold. An Empire would not have been possible if, following the Bretton Woods arrangement, the dollar supply was kept limited and within the availability of gold, so as to fully exchange back dollars for gold. However, the guns-and-butter policy of the 1960's was an imperial one: the dollar supply was relentlessly increased to finance Vietnam and LBJ's Great Society. Most of those dollars were handed over to foreigners in exchange for economic goods, without the prospect of buying them back at the same value. The increase in dollar holdings of foreigners via persistent U.S. trade deficits was tantamount to a tax - the classical inflation tax that a country imposes on its own citizens, this time around an inflation tax that U.S. imposed on rest of the world.
When in 1970-1971 foreigners demanded payment for their dollars in gold, The U.S. Government defaulted on its payment on August 15, 1971. While the popular spin told the story of "severing the link between the dollar and gold", in reality the denial to pay back in gold was an act of bankruptcy by the U.S. Government. Essentially, the U.S. declared itself an Empire. It had extracted an enormous amount of economic goods from the rest of the world, with no intention or ability to return those goods, and the world was powerless to respond - the world was taxed and it could not do anything about it.
From that point on, to sustain the American Empire and to continue to tax the rest of the world, the United States had to force the world to continue to accept ever-depreciating dollars in exchange for economic goods and to have the world hold more and more of those depreciating dollars. It had to give the world an economic reason to hold them, and that reason was oil.
In 1971, as it became clearer and clearer that the U.S Government would not be able to buy back its dollars in gold, it made in 1972-73 an iron-clad arrangement with Saudi Arabia to support the power of the House of Saud in exchange for accepting only U.S. dollars for its oil. The rest of OPEC was to follow suit and also accept only dollars. Because the world had to buy oil from the Arab oil countries, it had the reason to hold dollars as payment for oil. Because the world needed ever increasing quantities of oil at ever increasing oil prices, the world's demand for dollars could only increase. Even though dollars could no longer be exchanged for gold, they were now exchangeable for oil.
The economic essence of this arrangement was that the dollar was now backed by oil. As long as that was the case, the world had to accumulate increasing amounts of dollars, because they needed those dollars to buy oil. As long as the dollar was the only acceptable payment for oil, its dominance in the world was assured, and the American Empire could continue to tax the rest of the world. If, for any reason, the dollar lost its oil backing, the American Empire would cease to exist. Thus, Imperial survival dictated that oil be sold only for dollars. It also dictated that oil reserves were spread around various sovereign states that weren't strong enough, politically or militarily, to demand payment for oil in something else. If someone demanded a different payment, he had to be convinced, either by political pressure or military means, to change his mind.
The man that actually did demand Euro for his oil was Saddam Hussein in 2000. At first, his demand was met with ridicule, later with neglect, but as it became clearer that he meant business, political pressure was exerted to change his mind. When other countries, like Iran, wanted payment in other currencies, most notably Euro and Yen, the danger to the dollar was clear and present, and a punitive action was in order. Bush's Shock-and-Awe in Iraq was not about Saddam's nuclear capabilities, about defending human rights, about spreading democracy, or even about seizing oil fields; it was about defending the dollar, ergo the American Empire. It was about setting an example that anyone who demanded payment in currencies other than U.S. Dollars would be likewise punished.
Many have criticized Bush for staging the war in Iraq in order to seize Iraqi oil fields. However, those critics can't explain why Bush would want to seize those fields - he could simply print dollars for nothing and use them to get all the oil in the world that he needs. He must have had some other reason to invade Iraq.
History teaches that an empire should go to war for one of two reasons: (1) to defend itself or (2) benefit from war; if not, as Paul Kennedy illustrates in his magisterial The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, a military overstretch will drain its economic resources and precipitate its collapse. Economically speaking, in order for an empire to initiate and conduct a war, its benefits must outweigh its military and social costs. Benefits from Iraqi oil fields are hardly worth the long-term, multi-year military cost. Instead, Bush must have went into Iraq to defend his Empire. Indeed, this is the case: two months after the United States invaded Iraq, the Oil for Food Program was terminated, the Iraqi Euro accounts were switched back to dollars, and oil was sold once again only for U.S. dollars. No longer could the world buy oil from Iraq with Euro. Global dollar supremacy was once again restored. Bush descended victoriously from a fighter jet and declared the mission accomplished - he had successfully defended the U.S. dollar, and thus the American Empire.
II. Iranian Oil Bourse
The Iranian government has finally developed the ultimate "nuclear" weapon that can swiftly destroy the financial system underpinning the American Empire. That weapon is the Iranian Oil Bourse slated to open in March 2006. It will be based on a euro-oil-trading mechanism that naturally implies payment for oil in Euro. In economic terms, this represents a much greater threat to the hegemony of the dollar than Saddam's, because it will allow anyone willing either to buy or to sell oil for Euro to transact on the exchange, thus circumventing the U.S. dollar altogether. If so, then it is likely that almost everyone will eagerly adopt this euro oil system:
The Europeans will not have to buy and hold dollars in order to secure their payment for oil, but would instead pay with their own currencies. The adoption of the euro for oil transactions will provide the European currency with a reserve status that will benefit the European at the expense of the Americans.
The Chinese and the Japanese will be especially eager to adopt the new exchange, because it will allow them to drastically lower their enormous dollar reserves and diversify with Euros, thus protecting themselves against the depreciation of the dollar. One portion of their dollars they will still want to hold onto; a second portion of their dollar holdings they may decide to dump outright; a third portion of their dollars they will decide to use up for future payments without replenishing those dollar holdings, but building up instead their euro reserves.
The Russians have inherent economic interest in adopting the Euro - the bulk of their trade is with European countries, with oil-exporting countries, with China, and with Japan. Adoption of the Euro will immediately take care of the first two blocs, and will over time facilitate trade with China and Japan. Also, the Russians seemingly detest holding depreciating dollars, for they have recently found a new religion with gold. Russians have also revived their nationalism, and if embracing the Euro will stab the Americans, they will gladly do it and smugly watch the Americans bleed.
The Arab oil-exporting countries will eagerly adopt the Euro as a means of diversifying against rising mountains of depreciating dollars. Just like the Russians, their trade is mostly with European countries, and therefore will prefer the European currency both for its stability and for avoiding currency risk, not to mention their jihad against the Infidel Enemy.
Only the British will find themselves between a rock and a hard place. They have had a strategic partnership with the U.S. forever, but have also had their natural pull from Europe. So far, they have had many reasons to stick with the winner. However, when they see their century-old partner falling, will they firmly stand behind him or will they deliver the coup de grace? Still, we should not forget that currently the two leading oil exchanges are the New York's NYMEX and the London's International Petroleum Exchange (IPE), even though both of them are effectively owned by the Americans. It seems more likely that the British will have to go down with the sinking ship, for otherwise they will be shooting themselves in the foot by hurting their own London IPE interests. It is here noteworthy that for all the rhetoric about the reasons for the surviving British Pound, the British most likely did not adopt the Euro namely because the Americans must have pressured them not to: otherwise the London IPE would have had to switch to Euros, thus mortally wounding the dollar and their strategic partner.
At any rate, no matter what the British decide, should the Iranian Oil Bourse accelerate, the interests that matter-those of Europeans, Chinese, Japanese, Russians, and Arabs-will eagerly adopt the Euro, thus sealing the fate of the dollar. Americans cannot allow this to happen, and if necessary, will use a vast array of strategies to halt or hobble the operation's exchange:
Sabotaging the Exchange - this could be a computer virus, network, communications, or server attack, various server security breaches, or a 9-11-type attack on main and backup facilities.
Coup d'état - this is by far the best long-term strategy available to the Americans.
Negotiating Acceptable Terms & Limitations - this is another excellent solution to the Americans. Of course, a government coup is clearly the preferred strategy, for it will ensure that the exchange does not operate at all and does not threaten American interests. However, if an attempted sabotage or coup d'etat fails, then negotiation is clearly the second-best available option.
Joint U.N. War Resolution - this will be, no doubt, hard to secure given the interests of all other member-states of the Security Council. Feverish rhetoric about Iranians developing nuclear weapons undoubtedly serves to prepare this course of action.
Unilateral Nuclear Strike - this is a terrible strategic choice for all the reasons associated with the next strategy, the Unilateral Total War. The Americans will likely use Israel to do their dirty nuclear job.
Unilateral Total War - this is obviously the worst strategic choice. First, the U.S. military resources have been already depleted with two wars. Secondly, the Americans will further alienate other powerful nations. Third, major dollar-holding countries may decide to quietly retaliate by dumping their own mountains of dollars, thus preventing the U.S. from further financing its militant ambitions. Finally, Iran has strategic alliances with other powerful nations that may trigger their involvement in war; Iran reputedly has such alliance with China, India, and Russia, known as the Shanghai Cooperative Group, a.k.a. Shanghai Coop and a separate pact with Syria.
Whatever the strategic choice, from a purely economic point of view, should the Iranian Oil Bourse gain momentum, it will be eagerly embraced by major economic powers and will precipitate the demise of the dollar. The collapsing dollar will dramatically accelerate U.S. inflation and will pressure upward U.S. long-term interest rates. At this point, the Fed will find itself between Scylla and Charybdis - between deflation and hyperinflation - it will be forced fast either to take its "classical medicine" by deflating, whereby it raises interest rates, thus inducing a major economic depression, a collapse in real estate, and an implosion in bond, stock, and derivative markets, with a total financial collapse, or alternatively, to take the Weimar way out by inflating, whereby it pegs the long-bond yield, raises the Helicopters and drowns the financial system in liquidity, bailing out numerous LTCMs and hyperinflating the economy.
The Austrian theory of money, credit, and business cycles teaches us that there is no in-between Scylla and Charybdis. Sooner or later, the monetary system must swing one way or the other, forcing the Fed to make its choice. No doubt, Commander-in-Chief Ben Bernanke, a renowned scholar of the Great Depression and an adept Black Hawk pilot, will choose inflation. Helicopter Ben, oblivious to Rothbard's America's Great Depression, has nonetheless mastered the lessons of the Great Depression and the annihilating power of deflations. The Maestro has taught him the panacea of every single financial problem--to inflate, come hell or high water. He has even taught the Japanese his own ingenious unconventional ways to battle the deflationary liquidity trap. Like his mentor, he has dreamed of battling a Kondratieff Winter. To avoid deflation, he will resort to the printing presses; he will recall all helicopters from the 800 overseas U.S. military bases; and, if necessary, he will monetize everything in sight. His ultimate accomplishment will be the hyperinflationary destruction of the American currency and from its ashes will rise the next reserve currency of the world-that barbarous relic called gold.
William Clark The Real Reasons for the Upcoming War in Iraq
William Clark The Real Reasons Why Iran is the Next Target
About the Author
Krassimir Petrov has received his Ph. D. in economics from the Ohio State University and currently teaches Macroeconomics, International Finance, and Econometrics at the American University in Bulgaria. He is looking for a career in Dubai or the U.A.E.
Wednesday, January 18, 2006
Stupid in America / Behind the "Stupiding" of America / America: From Freedom to Fascism
From Wes Drawdy (of Greer S.C.): Looks like one of the netwerks is somewhat honestly
tackling the issue of childhood mis-education.
Wonder if they will tackle the issue of adult mis-education?
Did you know that today only five mega-coporations control over 90% of the U.S. media?
Got that? FIVE!
[Very worthwhile observation, although I had thought the number was six. And now we hand the reins of the discussion over to John Stossel. ~SY.]
STUPID IN AMERICA
January 13, 2006
Stupid in America
Why your kids are probably dumber than Belgians
For "Stupid in America," a special report ABC will air Friday, we gave identical tests to high school students in New Jersey and in Belgium. The Belgian kids cleaned the American kids' clocks. The Belgian kids called the American students "stupid."
We didn't pick smart kids to test in Europe and dumb kids in the United States. The American students attend an above-average school in New Jersey, and New Jersey's kids have test scores that are above average for America.
The American boy who got the highest score told me: "I'm shocked, 'cause it just shows how advanced they are compared to us."
The Belgians did better because their schools are better. At age ten, American students take an international test and score well above the international average. But by age fifteen, when students from forty countries are tested, the Americans place twenty-fifth. The longer kids stay in American schools, the worse they do in international competition. They do worse than kids from countries that spend much less money on education.
This should come as no surprise once you remember that public education in the USA is a government monopoly. Don't like your public school? Tough. The school is terrible? Tough. Your taxes fund that school regardless of whether it's good or bad. That's why government monopolies routinely fail their customers. Union-dominated monopolies are even worse.
In New York City, it's "just about impossible" to fire a bad teacher, says schools chancellor Joel Klein. The new union contract offers slight relief, but it's still about 200 pages of bureaucracy. "We tolerate mediocrity," said Klein, ecause "people get paid the same, whether they're outstanding, average, or way below average." One teacher sent sexually oriented emails to "Cutie 101," his sixteen year old student. Klein couldn't fire him for years, "He hasn't taught, but we have had to pay him, because that's what's required under the contract."
They've paid him more than $300,000, and only after 6 years of litigation were they able to fire him. Klein employs dozens of teachers who he's afraid to let near the kids, so he has them sit in what they call "rubber rooms." This year he will spend twenty million dollars to warehouse teachers in five rubber rooms. It's an alternative to firing them. In the last four years, only two teachers out of 80,000 were fired for incompetence.
When I confronted Union president Randi Weingarten about that, she said, "they [the NYC school board] just don't want to do the work that's entailed." But the "work that's entailed" is so onerous that most principals just give up, or get bad teachers to transfer to another school. They even have a name for it: "the dance of the lemons."
The inability to fire the bad and reward the good is the biggest reason schools fail the kids. Lack of money is often cited the reason schools fail, but America doubled per pupil spending, adjusting for inflation, over the last 30 years. Test scores and
graduation rates stayed flat. New York City now spends an extraordinary $11,000 per student. That's $220,000 for a classroom of twenty kids. Couldn't you hire two or three excellent teachers and do a better job with $220,000?
Only a monopoly can spend that much money and still fail the kids.
The U.S. Postal Service couldn't get it there overnight. But once others were allowed to compete, Federal Express, United Parcel, and others suddenly could get it there overnight. Now even the post office does it (sometimes). Competition inspires people to do what we didn't think we could do.
If people got to choose their kids' school, education options would be endless. There could soon be technology schools, cheap Wal-Mart-like schools, virtual schools where you learn at home on your computer, sports schools, music schools, schools that
go all year, schools with uniforms, schools that open early and keep kids later, and, who knows? If there were competition, all kinds of new ideas would bloom.
This already happens overseas. In Belgium, for example, the government funds education—at any school—but if the school can't attract students, it goes out of business. Belgian school principal Kaat Vandensavel told us she works hard to impress parents. "If we don't offer them what they want for their child, they won't come to our school." She constantly improves the teaching, "You can't afford ten teachers out of 160 that don't do their work, because the clients will know, and won't come to you again."
"That's normal in Western Europe," Harvard economist Caroline Hoxby told me. "If schools don't perform well, a parent would never be trapped in that school in the same way you could be trapped in the U.S."
Last week, Florida's Supreme Court shut down "opportunity scholarships," Florida's small attempt at competition. Public money can't be spent on private schools, said the court, because the state constitution commands the funding only of "uniform, . . . high-quality" schools. But government schools are neither uniform nor high-quality, and without competition, no new teaching plan or No Child Left
Behind law will get the monopoly to serve its customers well.
A Gallup Poll survey shows 76 percent of Americans are either completely or somewhat satisfied with their kids' public school, but that's only because they don't know what their kids are missing. Without competition, unlike Belgian parents, they don't know what their kids might have had.
John Stossel is an ABC News correspondent and co-anchor of 20/20. His special Stupid in America airs Friday, January 13, at 10 p.m.
"It's a naive domestic Burgundy without any breeding, but I think
you'll be amused by its presumption." --JAMES THURBER on frou-frou wine
descriptions, Cartoon caption, 1944
Small wonder we have a New World Order problem in America! When the average politician speaks to some public issue, the average American has no clue what he or she is even talking about. The situation regarding issues the international banking cartel wants to keep all but hidden from the public is bound to be worse, and has reached the point where globalists such as the CFR Task Force that authored Building a North American Community can put this stuff out on the World Wide Web and nobody notices. -SY
Here is what is really going on--how politicians are openly advocating the destruction of the American standard of living through "outsourcing" and the average American is now too stupid to figure out what he or she can only find flunky jobs after having obtained not just a college degree but sometimes an advanced degree. (Advanced degrees, btw, are not necessarily indicators of intelligence.)
The blunt truth of the matter is: the international banking cartel and the multinational corporations that have grown up around it (both of which have the governments of the world in their back pockets) have unleashed a monster on this country, and that monster is slowly but surely devouring the U.S. economy and the American middle class. If there is any way to stop this process, I don't see it. The government isn't going to close the borders; that much is obvious. They aren't going to stop the process of corporations sending jobs overseas; the political fallout would be too nasty. But the destruction of this country has long been one of the aims of the New World Order.
This comes courtesy of Joan Masters (thanks).
BEHIND THE "STUPIDING" OF AMERICA (my title -SY)
Joan Masters writes: The article below gives the implicit reason why America's high schools are being 'reformed'. To use the word 'reform' is a deception in itself. The curriculum is being dumbed down and changed to vocational education because so-called 'free trade' is draining the United States of white collar jobs. This trend of exporting white-collar jobs will continue until all of the white-collar jobs that can be exported - have been exported. Simple economics dictates it so.
All the rhetoric about the need for America's young people to have increased math and science is a bait and switch for 'reform'. When an Indian engineer makes $10,000 per year and an American engineer makes $60,000 or $70,000, there is no question about who will get the job. As long as the 'free trade' agreements that favor foreign countries and multinational corporations remain in effect, America's domestic economy will continue to decline and America's middle class will be eliminated - leaving two classes - the poor and the wealthy as exists in all fascist countries.
'Free trade' is not free trade. It is managed trade - managed by the central planners of the WTO. It creates jobs - but the good jobs it creates are in China and India. The jobs that are created in the United States are the kinds of jobs that are generated for a country in economic decline - Wal-Mart is growing as more and more people find it necessary - not desirable - but necessary to shop there.
To show you how absurd the corporate propaganda has gotten in attempting to justify the export of knowledge jobs, consider what John Chambers of Cisco Systems said about engineers:
The researchers were not able to verify the same detailed breakdown for students graduating from Chinese universities. According to the Chinese Ministry of Education, however, any bachelor's degree or "short-cycle" degree with "engineering" in its title is counted, regardless of the degree's field, or academic rigor associated with it.
Why is this important? Because, as Cisco Systems CEO John Chambers has told me, "Jobs will go to the best-educated workforce." A rigorous technical education is not enough to compete successfully in a global society. Concentration solely on the technical aspects ignores the crucial human skills and talents best imparted by a broader approach to education.
Companies are keen to hire students who have a holistic perspective of their field, are able to integrate knowledge across the disciplines, work well in teams, possess persuasive communication skills, and have respect and an understanding of other cultures. Such "dynamic engineers" also may possess leadership skills. And you don't outsource leadership.
So.. now that shortage isn't working - and better educated has been disproved, the propaganda now says that engineering education needs to be holistic.
To put that statement in to context, look at another statement made by John Chambers:
John Chambers, the chief executive office (CEO) and president of Cisco Systems, Inc. doesn't care when economists think China is going to become the world's largest economy. He's just thinking about what needs to be done for Cisco to tap into that market...
"What we're trying to do is outline an entire strategy of becoming a Chinese company," Chambers said.
Why Chambers and other multinationals wants to locate their companies in a communist country is not difficult to figure out. This new 'partnership' between corporations and communist governments is perfect for maximizing profits. Because of the WTO, they get to remain in this country - masquerading as American corporations and selling at American prices while using communist labor. It's a dream system for corporations and communist leaders because it will destroy our democratic republic as we struggle to compete in a trading system rigged against us.
Date: Fri, 13 Jan 2006 23:20:56 -0500
Subject: Key MT Democrat Senator Calls Outsourcing a Fact of Life - AP
Key Senator Calls Outsourcing a Fact of Life
Max Baucus (news, bio, voting record), the top Democrat on the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, said Friday that outsourcing white-collar jobs to low-wage countries such as India has become a global fact of life — and that America must learn to live with it.
The Senator from Montana also called on India to further open its once-tightly closed economy, especially in the agricultural and retail industries, to competition from U.S. companies.
Baucus said a majority of fellow Senate Democrats agreed with him, despite the party's longtime opposition to American companies moving jobs overseas.
"Everybody is concerned about job losses and so am I," he told The Associated Press in an interview in Bangalore, his first stop on a five-day tour of India.
"But the world is flat and we must work harder to better retrain our people," rather than resist outsourcing, he said. "Offshoring is a fact of globalization. Opportunities for U.S. companies come from everywhere — including India."
In a written statement released later Friday, Baucus said the intent of his trip was to "try to get at the problem of outsourcing" and find ways to keep more of the jobs in the United States.
"Any job lost to outsourcing is too many," he said. "But we can't kid ourselves or stick our heads in the sand. ... Our challenge is to learn why these jobs are moving overseas and work to keep them at home by boosting America's competitiveness through such things as training, education and tax incentives."
Contracts from foreign firms for everything from software engineering to customer service call centers has helped turn India's economy into one of the world's fastest growing. It's expected to expand more than 7 percent in the fiscal year ending in March.
Such outsourcing is expected to bring in $22 billion in revenues this fiscal year.
Critics in the West say outsourcing puts skilled people out of work just so big companies can save money. But supporters argue that it actually creates jobs by helping companies grow faster.
During the 2004 presidential campaign, Democratic contender Sen. John Kerry said U.S. companies that shifted white-collar jobs overseas were "Benedict Arnolds" — a reference to the most famous turncoat of the American Revolution — but later softened his stand on the issue.
On Friday, Baucus cited the prosperity that outsourcing has brought to Bangalore, India's technology hub, and it served as a showcase for growing ties between the two countries. And he said a reciprocal opening of markets would benefit both the United States and India.
"Investing in India to bring products for one-fifth of the world's population will be terrific for the U.S., but equally significant for India because it will bring huge growth opportunities," Baucus said.
He also talked about the landmark India-U.S. nuclear deal signed in July, which he said he "in principle" supports. Under the deal, the United States would share civilian nuclear technology and supply nuclear fuel to India in return for New Delhi separating its civilian and military nuclear programs.
The agreement still has to be ratified by the U.S. Congress, where it has faced criticism from some members because India is not a member of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
Baucus said in the interview that he would have to examine the deal's details before throwing his full support behind it. "The devil is in the details and I will wait to see if there is a clear and transparent separation of civilian and military aspects," he said.
Kerry voiced similar sentiments on Thursday when he visited New Delhi and the central city of Hyderabad.
Baucus is leading a business delegation and arrived in India from China. He was scheduled to visit New Delhi over the weekend.
From We The People Foundation; I can only hope that this film can be brought to South Carolina at some point when the time is right--and perhaps work to make it happen.
January 14, 2006
Feature Film About IRS Coming
America...from Freedom to Fascism
Aaron Russo, the accomplished Hollywood producer and director has just completed America ... from Freedom to Fascism, a feature film about the IRS, the Federal Reserve and the New World Order.
Russo’s films, which include Trading Places (starring Eddie Murphy) and The Rose (starring Bette Midler), have received six academy award nominations. Russo has personally won both an Emmy and a Tony award and his films have also won a number of Golden Globe awards.
Mr. Russo, as writer, director and producer, is entering America … in the May 2006 Cannes Film Festival.
Not unlike the showing of Mel Gibson’s film The Passion to congregations across America in advance of its formal release, Russo has offered to present his new film in advance of its premier showing in Cannes, to the congregations of patriots assembled at the upcoming WTP regional conferences.
The 95-minute film, America … from Freedom to Fascism will be shown in its entirety at the Tucson WTP meeting on Saturday, January 28th. The meeting is free and open to the public.
Saturday January 28, 1 PM - 5 PM
6477 E. Speedway Blvd.
Contact: Terry Bressi AZ WTP Congress State Coordinator