Wealth gap creating a social time bomb

Wealth gap creating a social time bomb

• Race behind division in US cities, says UN report
• Beijing is most egalitarian place in the world

John Vidal

Growing inequality in US cities could lead to widespread social unrest and increased mortality, says a new United Nations report on the urban environment.

In a survey of 120 major cities, New York was found to be the ninth most unequal in the world and Atlanta, New Orleans, Washington, and Miami had similar inequality levels to those of Nairobi, Kenya Abidjan and Ivory Coast. Many were above an internationally recognised acceptable “alert” line used to warn governments.

“High levels of inequality can lead to negative social, economic and political consequences that have a destabilising effect on societies,” said the report. “[They] create social and political fractures that can develop into social unrest and insecurity.”

According to the annual State of the World’s cities report from UN-Habitat, race is one of the most important factors determining levels of inequality in the US and Canada.

megacities

“In western New York state nearly 40% of the black, Hispanic and mixed-race households earned less than $15,000 compared with 15% of white households. The life expectancy of African-Americans in the US is about the same as that of people living in China and some states of India, despite the fact that the US is far richer than the other two countries,” it said.

Disparities of wealth were measured on the “Gini co-efficient”, an internationally recognised measure usually only applied to the wealth of countries. The higher the level, the more wealth is concentrated in the hands of fewer people.

“It is clear that social tension comes from inequality. The trickle down theory [that wealth starts with the rich] has not delivered. Inequality is not good for anybody,” said Anna Tibaijuka, head of UN-Habitat, in London yesterday.

The report found that India was becoming more unequal as a direct result of economic liberalisation and globalisation, and that the most unequal cities were in South Africa and Namibia and Latin America. “The cumulative effect of unequal distribution [of wealth] has been a deep and lasting division between rich and poor. Trade liberalisation did not bring about the expected benefits.”

The report suggested that Beijing was now the most egalitarian city in the world, just ahead of cities such as Jakarta in Indonesia and Dire Dawa in Ethiopia.

In Europe, which was generally more egalitarian than other continents, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands and Slovenia were classed as the most equal countries with Greece, the UK and Spain among the least. “Disparities are particularly significant in the cities of eastern Europe, larger Spanish cities and in the north of England,” it said.

It documents the seemingly unstoppable move of people away from rural to urban areas. This year it is believed that the number of people living in urban areas exceeded those in the countryside for the first time ever, but the report says there is no sign of the trend slowing.

“The dramatic transition between rural and urban communities is not over. Urbanisation levels will rise dramatically in the next 40 years to reach 70% by 2050,” it predicts.

The most dramatic urbanisation has been taking place in China, with many millions of people moving from the countryside to cities. The report says 49 new cities have been built in the past 18 years. The rapid transition to an urban society has brought great wealth but also many negative results.

“China has attained some of the deepest disparities in the world with urban incomes three times those in rural areas. Inequalities are growing, with disproportionate rewards for the most skilled workers … and serious problems for the unemployed and informal workers.”

Urban growth rates are highest in the developing world, which absorbs an average 5 million new urban residents a month and is responsible for 95% of world urban growth. The report predicts that Asian cities will grow the most in the next 40 years and could have 63% of the world urban population by 2050.

Tokyo is expected to remain the world’s largest mega city, with 36.4m people by 2025. But Mexico City, New York, and Sao Paulo could give way in the league table to Mumbai, Delhi and Dhaka. Kinshasa and Lagos are the two African cities expected to grow the most, with each adding more than 6 million people by 2025.

Rather than countryside to city movement, which has marked rapid population growth in the last 40 years, the UN expects more people to move from city to city.

Capital cities in particular are attracting much more of countries’ investments and are growing fast. Some are becoming home to nearly half a country’s population.

But the report also identified what it believes is the emergence of a new urban trend, with many cities now shrinking in size. The populations of 46 countries, including Germany, Italy, Japan and most former soviet states, are expected to be smaller in 2050 than they are now, and in the past 30 years, says the report, more cities in the developed world have shrunk than grown.

It found that 49 cities in the UK, including Liverpool and other old industrial centres in the north of England, and 100 in Russia reduced in size between 1990 and 2000, mainly because of unemployment. In the US 39 cities are smaller now than they were 10 years ago.

The reasons for the decline of cities was mostly economic, but the report says that the environment is now an important factor.

Air quality and pollution from mines, power plants and oil exploration have been responsible for population losses in India, Mexico and Africa, it says. “Cities tend to struggle most with health-threatening environmental issues, such as the lack of safe water, sanitation and waste.”

All US missile strike victims were tribesmen

All US missile strike victims were tribesmen

Monday, October 13, 2008
By by Our correspondent
MIRAMSHAH: The three people killed in the missile attack by the US drones on a house in Machas Colony area here Saturday night were all local tribesmen.

Tribal sources said the dead included Rustam, Munawar and Sakhi, all residents of the area. Five men including Shaider Khan, Faizullah, Muqaddas, Zabiullah and Gul Qadam were injured in the missile strike on a ‘hujra’ at Machas Colony, which used to serve as a camp for Afghan refugees in the past.

Eyewitnesses told The News that four pilot-less Predators were flying in the airspace of Miramshah at the time of the attack. The tribesmen also opened fire on the drones with heavy arms. One guided missile landed in a desert causing no loss.

Some of the tribal elders of the area condemned the government for not taking notice of the missile strike by the US military. Talking to The News, they said the government’s silence over such attacks in Pakistani territory against Pakistani citizens was strange and unbecoming of a sovereign state. They asked the armed forces to resist these attacks and defend the country’s borders against the US aggression.

Most of the injured were shifted to Peshawar due to suspension of power supply to the Agency Headquarters Hospital, Miramshah, where the operation theatre was closed. Medical facilities in North Waziristan have suffered greatly due to the insecure conditions and violence.

There have been 11 missile attacks by the CIA-operated Predator planes in North Waziristan and South Waziristan since mid-August and the number of people killed in these strikes is now more than 100. Most of those killed in these attacks were civilians, including women and children. In some attacks, a few foreign and local militants were also killed.

Colin Powell Warns Of Coming Crisis “We Don’t Even Know About Right Now”

Colin Powell Warns Of Coming Crisis “We Don’t

Even Know About Right Now”

Echoes Biden comments that Obama will be tested in early days of his term

Steve Watson
Infowars.net

Colin Powell has made bizarre comments that echo the recent declaration by Democratic VP candidate Joe Biden that there will be an “international crisis” early into Barack Obama’s presidency that will test the new president by forcing him to make unpopular decisions.


Speaking on meet the press two days ago, Powell officially endorsed Obama and also made the following statement:

“The problems will always be there and there’s going to be a crisis which will come along on the 21st, 22nd of January that we don’t even know about right now.

So I think what the President has to start to do is to start using the power of the oval office and the power of his personality to convince the American people and convince the world that America is solid, that America is going to move forward, we are going to fix our economic problems, we’re going to meet out overseas obligations.”

Watch Powell make the comment at 2.35 into the following video:

Is Colin Powell referring to a theoretical crisis that could occur at any time? If so why does he choose a specific date, within the first two days after the inauguration? Also why does he refer to general problems that the new president will have to deal with in a separate context? We are already in an economic crisis, everyone knows that, so what new crisis is Powell talking about?

Whatever you read into Powell’s comments, they sound somewhat bizarre, particularly as they come on the back of Joe Biden’s “guarantee” of a “generated crisis” to “test the mettle” of the new leader within six months of the new presidential term:

What does Biden mean by “generated crisis”? It is an undeniably strange term to use.

His reference to John F. Kennedy indicates that Biden may have been referring some kind of geopolitical crisis in the vain of the Cuban missile crisis of April 1961. The confrontation between the United States, the Soviet Union, and Cuba at the height of the Cold War came within the first four months of JFK’s presidency.

Obama’s running mate made the comments at a fundraising event in Seattle two days ago, on the same day Powell also spoke of a coming crisis.

We shouldn’t be surprised at Powell’s comments however, given that the former Secretary of State seemingly has a knack for predicting events before they take place.

Previous to the beginning of the Iraq war in February 2003, an audio tape containing a voice described as that of Osama Bin Laden was touted as proof positive of Al Qaeda links with Saddam Hussein.

Hours before the tape was discovered and aired by TV channel Al Jazeera, Powell announced in the US Senate that a “Bin Laden tape is coming proving Iraq’s links with Al-Qaeda.”

This led some to raise the question how does Colin Powell know what Al Jazeera are going to broadcast before they do?

In an amazing and timely coincidence, the tape came barely a week after Powell’s attempts to link Al Qaeda and Saddam in his botched presentation of lies and exaggerations before the UN Security Council.

Obama Chides Biden Over Remark About a World Crisis Testing His Presidency

Obama Chides Biden Over Remark About

a World Crisis Testing His Presidency

JEFF ZELENY

Senators Barack Obama and Joseph R. Biden Jr. seldom see each other as they campaign for the Democratic ticket. And they talk only occasionally. But on Wednesday, Mr. Obama delivered a long-distance message to his running mate.

“I think Joe sometimes engages in rhetorical flourishes,” Mr. Obama said, gently chiding the vice-presidential nominee as he sought to sweep aside a dustup Mr. Biden touched off when he predicted that a world crisis would test Mr. Obama during his first six months in office.

“A period of transition in a new administration is always one where we have to be vigilant, we have to be careful,” Mr. Obama said. “We have to be mindful that as we pass the baton in this democracy that others don’t take advantage of it — that’s true whether it’s myself or Senator McCain.”

In his remarks, Mr. Biden told supporters at a Seattle fund-raiser on Sunday that if Mr. Obama was elected, the world’s leaders would test his mettle as a young president, just as they did John F. Kennedy. The comment from Mr. Biden fanned a new line of criticism from Republicans that Mr. Obama is not ready for the presidency.

Mr. Obama convened a meeting of his foreign policy advisers here on Wednesday, which he said was not intended to address that remark, but rather to expand the campaign conversation beyond the economic crisis. Mr. Biden participated in a private portion of the meeting by telephone from Colorado, but did not appear on stage with Mr. Obama.

“I think that his core point was that the next administration is going to be tested, regardless of who it is,” Mr. Obama said, placing his interpretation on Mr. Biden’s comments. “The next administration is going to be inheriting a host of really big problems.”

He added, “The question is, Will the next president meet that test by moving America in a new direction by sending a clear signal to the rest of the world that we are no longer about bluster and unilateralism and ideology?”

Mr. McCain kept up his criticism of the Democratic ticket for Mr. Biden’s remarks. At a rally on Wednesday in Green, Ohio, Mr. McCain told the crowd, “Senator Biden guaranteed that if Senator Obama is elected, we will have an international crisis to test America’s new president!”

“We don’t want a president who invites testing from the world at a time when the economy is in crisis,” Mr. McCain added. “Americans are already fighting in two wars, my friends. Senator Biden referred to how Jack Kennedy was tested in the Cuban missile crisis. I had a little personal experience on that. I was a pilot on board the U.S.S. Enterprise, I was ready to go into combat at any minute, I know how close we came to a nuclear war, and I will not be a president that needs to be tested!”

An Interview With Richard C. Cook

An Interview With Richard C. Cook: The Challenger Disaster, Financial Collapse And Viable Solutions By Gary Corseri

By Gary Corseri
featured writer
Dandelion Salad

Richard C. Cook
featured writer
Dandelion Salad
richardccook.com

Oct. 23, 2008



Challenger Revealed

order here
Originally uploaded by Lorri37

GC: Just a little background: I was reading your articles on the Web, with much interest, getting a lot of information; then, I was pleased to find your favorable comments on something I’d written. I wrote you that, should you find yourself in the D.C. area, give a holler—and, you’re the only guy I ever wrote that to who actually hollered!

RC: (Laughs.)

GC: So … here we are … I want to get into your ideas—your views on the economy … But first, can you tell us a little about yourself? I’ve read some of your first book, CHALLENGER REVEALED, and I think it’s fair to say that you established your reputation as a whistle-blower back in 1987 in front of the Presidential Commission on the space shuttle disaster. You worked for NASA, you were prescient back then, your warnings were ignored or dismissed. I hope that some of us are a little smarter, and that there are more of us who can better heed your warnings now about our free-falling economy. First, Who is Richard Cook?

RC: When people ask, I say I’m a Native American: I was born in Montana, grew up in Michigan and Virginia. My ancestors have been part of American history; one of them was in the Oklahoma land rush; a great, great, great grandfather was in a Civil War unit that served with Grant; my grandfather and father served in the navy in the World Wars.

When my parents moved to Virginia, my mother worked as a tour guide in colonial Williamsburge, and I learned about American history through her. … I graduated from William and Mary, where I majored in English and studied the history of the Western world, as well as Eastern religions. I became a student of cultures then.

Upon graduation, in 1970, I got a job working for the U.S. civil service commission. It was the height of the Vietnam War—a war I strongly opposed! I worked for the government for a couple of years, then taught history at a private school for two years. I returned to the same civil service agency—I felt a call back to government service. I worked for two more years in planning and evaluation. Then I was offered a job in the Food and Drug Administration.

GC: You’re basically trained as an analyst; you look at figures, examine budgets, you—

RC: I was trained as a writer in college. I wrote a novel for my honors project. When I came to work in D.C., I was a policy analyst. They’d give me a topic—What do we do about lower-grade employees, how to assist their advance up the ladder? I’d talk to the experts, gather information, present my findings. After working at FDA for two years, in 1979, I was given a job in the Carter White House, where I worked on the staff of the special assistant for consumer affairs. When the Reagan administration came in, I got a close-up view of the presidential campaign. Being in the White House office, we saw what was going on; for example, the Reagan campaign stole Jimmy Carter’s briefing book to prep Reagan for the debates. When Reagan won, I was moved out of the old executive office building. I didn’t have much to do for a couple of years; consumer affairs was not a high priority with Reagan.

My wife and I decided to leave Washington; we bought a farm in West Virginia; worked the farm for two years. After a while, I returned to Washington, worked for several months for a defense contractor. I wasn’t making much money and my wife was pregnant! I applied for civil service jobs and was surprised when I got the call from NASA. I had no hard science background. But they hired me as a resource analyst in the comptroller’s office. My first assignment was to go to the office of Space Flight, talk to the engineers about this problem they were having with the solid rocket booster O-rings. These engineers opened up to me and began telling me how dangerous the problem was with the O-rings. They spoke almost in whispers. One of them said “We hold our breath every time this thing goes up.”

GC: What would happen if these O-rings failed?

RC: The space shuttle would blow up. … These were not things I had to dig out of these guys. They wanted to tell me. … I think they were trying to get a message up to headquarters around their own management because there was a sense in the office of Space Flight that bad news should not get out; they wanted to “manage” these problems without publicity.

GC: Pre-emptive cover-up!

RC: Right! Although I did find, after the disaster, that the top people did know about these problems. Not from thick, analytical reports that were documented and went up the line; they knew because somebody told them at a meeting—or in a hallway.

GC: But, the problems weren’t documented … so, they could cover their own asses!

RC: Right. By that time I knew very well how analysis should be done. These problems with the O-rings, etc., should have been the subject of major studies. But the space shuttle program was highly politicized; it was heavily dependent on reimbursement from customers—including foreign governments flying their satellites on the shuttle; and, including the scientific community putting their space probes on the shuttle. … But the most important customer was the Department of Defense. At the DoD, it was the same: the top people might have been told in hallway conversations that certain things were going on—but nothing was documented. … Congress knew nothing about any of this. The press knew nothing. The White House, the OMB knew nothing—I mean, not just the O-ring problems, but other problems such as space shuttle main engines, spare parts shortages, accidents that were occurring at the Kennedy Space center because of the accelerating flight schedule. So, people who funded the program—Congress–, people who oversaw the program—the Executive office, the President—and the Press were very much in the dark. There were a series of problems that could have stopped the program … and I think, they assumed in the Office of Space Flight that something was going to stop it, something was going to fail—

GC: –To blow up?

RC: Right … that sooner or later we’re going to have a disaster and it’ll stop—because we can’t keep going at this pace; sooner or later we’ll have to stop and fix the problems, but we can’t tell our customers we’re not able to fly for them and meet our commitments!

GC: You write about the accelerating flight schedule in your book.

RC: 15 flights a year in 1986. The target was to get it up to two flights per month!

GC: And this was to make the program pay for itself?

RC: By then, no one believed it could pay for itself. But that didn’t mean that the reimbursements that NASA was getting wasn’t … nice. They were getting a billion dollars a year from the DoD. That’s a lot of payroll to meet. They needed the money, but they also needed to maintain their monopoly on the space launches. The purpose of the shuttle was to fly everything. This was to be the launch system for the Free World. All foreign satellites, all space probes, all defense missions were to fly on the shuttle—spy satellites, etc. Yhe pressure was on to fly everything the National Security world needed, everything our scientists needed, everything our foreign allies needed. Nobody was willing to say, We’ve got to stop!

GC: Isn’t this endemic to systems? Whether we’re talking Communist, socialist, capitalist, corporatist—there’s something within the system that builds this pressure to succeed, to justify itself—and that’s where, ideally, people like you come in. … You’re the watchman on the tower and you’re supposed to be saying, “Hey, wait a minute, something’s not right here!” But then, it’s also characteristic of systems that people like you are shunted aside.

RC: We’re the canaries in the mine! I was told when I got to NASA, when I spoke to the Space Flight people, that I was supposed to be an adversary. Adversarial on the budget side. … But, you’re right—the analyst is the one who’s supposed to prick the balloon. But, the system at NASA was a juggernaut. … I was there at the time that Peter Drucker’s ideas on management mission statements had come into vogue. Management set the objectives and everyone was supposed to fall into line. If there were problems, the engineers were supposed to fix them—but without a major re-design.

GC: Because that would slow things down, cost a lot of money?

RC: Right … one of the features of the space shuttle program was that they never tested the way the aeorospace engineering community was used to testing—on a component by component basis. Once you’ve tested your components, you put those together in a unit, then you test the unit, then you build up to a live test. They didn’t do that. They built everything together at once and tested it, then went back and said, If it’s too bad, we might do something, but if it’s little things, we won’t. The shuttle never had a test flight. They built it, put the crew in it and hoped everything work. But on the second flight, they began to see the O-rings fail.

GC: So this is where you come in … You write powerfully in your book about the day of the Challenger disaster; you go rifling through your files; you search your old files; something is ringing in your ears; you’ve seen this in your mind’s eye; and you find your files and it turns out you’ve written about the potential for this disaster and it was ignored or dismissed.

RC: That’s how it happened! My first report was about the potential for failure of the O-rings. And I gave that to my supervisor who asked me to “keep tracking the issue.” I would meet fairly regularly with the engineers, tracking their findings and concerns. What I didn’t know was that in August of 1985, they had called in the engineers from the Thiokol corporation, along with the program office from the Marshall Space Flight Center, and they had this big meeting in Washington where they decided how to try to fix the O-rings joints (They never told me about this before or after!) Ironically, they figured out how to fix the problem then, but they weren’t able to implement these changes before the Challenger launch!

GC: One thing I’d like to get into—because it startled me when I read it. … To understand what this O-ring is, it’s where the segments of the rocket come together, and it allows for the decoupling in space, and that would allow for the re-use of the whole system … and you described how this is put together with putty! That amazed me.

RC: The putty is in there as a heat shield … (Gestures with his hands as he explains the technical aspects of the segmented rocket.)

GC: So, this is the kind of putty I put around my bathtub?

RC: (Laughs.) You can buy O-rings in a hardware store. Yes, heat-resistant putty.

GC: You said the scientists didn’t completely understand the physics—why there had been no charring of the O-rings on the second test-flight. But yet there was this pressure to go on.

RC: That’s right … Around this time, I was given another assignment to look at the Centaur upper stage of the rocket. I was supposed to write a history of the Centaur program. And, as I delved into it, I began to think—Jeez, this is even worse than the O-rings! I became convinced that the Centaur was the immediate threat to the shuttle … (A brief explanation of where the Centaur is located on the shuttle; jet propulsion, etc.) The Centaur was the upper-stage rocket and it was the heaviest, most dangerous upper-stage ever built because it ran on liquid oxygen and hydrogen.

GC: Isn’t that what the Hindenberg was all about?

RC: Yeah, that’s a good analogy. The astronauts would launch while carrying a Hindenberg in the payload bay.

GC: Wow! … Obviously, there’s a lot more of this in your book. … But, for now, I’d like to return to the question of your credibility, which is essential to appreciate your views on the economy. … I see you as somebody who’s somewhat prophetic: you saw the danger, you tried to sound the warning, and, like my friend, Laocoon, you were ignored. And so, tell me just a little bit about that process … Your first report was about the potential failure of the O-rings. You file your report and you’re told to keep track of it. You do so, but nothing changes. Then, the disaster occurs, what next? Before too long you go before Congress and—

RC: –before the Presidential Commission and … What happens is that NASA started a cover-up. They were not going to tell anyone that there was a long history of problems. Eventually, they’d let the technical people come up with a technical explanation. They were never going to let the whole story come out. And I was there with the documents I had, sitting at my farm in West Virginia, and I said to my wife, I can’t go through with this. They expected me to go along. They expected me to be part of the cover-up of one of the greatest disasters in US history. I felt very challenged. I felt indignant. No one ever told me, Rick, we want you to cover this up … but it was obvious. … it was taken for granted that you would go along. There were orders that went out from the head of the agency—not to talk to the press and not to speculate about the causes of the accident. I felt some kind of inner drive to disrupt this. That wasn’t what I’d signed on for when I came to be a civil servant.

GC: You were putting your career at risk?

RC: Oh, yeah. And, even my life. I was told, “They kill people for less than this.”

GC: Who told you that?

RC: A newsman. …

GC: Okay, the bottom line is, you submitted your reports, your sounded the warning, and there’s no real change. The damn thing blows up, kills Christa MacAuliffe and six other astronauts … and then there’s a cover-up. So, what next? You went to the media?

RC: It was thought at first that NASA would investigate itself; but soon afterward, a Presidential Commission was appointed, headed by Donald Regan, Reagan’s chief of staff. I later determined that the Presidential Commission was set up to deflect the investigation from the White House … because the real reason they launched the Challenger that morning was for Reagan’s publicity purposes—particularly for his State of the Union speech where he was going to talk about Christa MacAuliffe. That was where the real pressure came. NASA had a flawed system—a cruddy spaceship that could blow up … but the pressure to launch came from the White House. So, the Presidential Commission was supposed to manage the news and protect the White House. When I saw the cover-up emerging, I took all of my O-ring papers down to the New York Times, met with their science reporter and explained how the whole thing had happened. I gave them my documents, including my memo from the previous July where I was named as the person who had investigated this and had given warnings … When the story came out, the Commission met behind closed doors and decided they were going to discredit me and the O-ring papers. When I got on the stand, the chairman started grilling me, stating that I was a new employee with no technical knowledge—and what was I doing questioning my betters? I stood my ground, went through the history of what I knew. That was the first the world heard that NASA knew what had happened. … I never returned to NASA after that. I had a job offer from Treasury and I reported to Treasury the following week. However, I did continue investigating the issue, on my own, over the next two years. Finally, I tracked how the Reagan White House had actually caused this disaster. I talked to someone who was Reagan’s astrologer [!]—learned how they had recommended to Reagan that he not launch, but he went ahead and did it anyway, in spite of his knowing there was trouble with cold temperature launches. It was Reagan who made the final decision—all that pressure he brought to bear for publicity’s sake … But, by that time, it was out of the news. The media didn’t want to hear about it any more, they gave Reagan a free ride. I put my notes away for 15 years. When I could see the approach of my retirement from government, I got my notes out again and wrote the book, which documents the inside story.

GC: This tells us a lot about this society. … Even when the information is out there, the cover-up continues; the media just ignores it or lets the story die. … We can segue to where we are now, 21 years after the disaster. We’re facing a different kind of disaster, a financial one … and you’ve written a lot about it. Now, you didn’t have a technical background, and yet you were a whistle-blower for technical problems. You don’t have an economics background, but you’re a whistle blower on the economy and the way our economic system works. How do you have credibility in economics?

RC: It just happened that I ended up in NASA … Well, after NASA, it just so happened that I ended up in the Treasury Department—the heart of the beast. I spent 21 years there studying the economic system of the US government—the financial system. I had a lot of time on my hands. I was a pretty good analyst and I could do what they wanted me to do pretty readily. So, I studied in depth. If you look at it going back to colonial days and the history coming out of England—the history of how the governments operated–corporate finance is a big part of Western history. These corporate financial systems really were developed through the Roman Catholic church. Western financial systems came out of the medieval papacy. They were the ones with the money—and they put together a very good system of public finance that has carried down through today.

GC: I’ve got to ask you—where do the Jews come into this? Because many people think it’s all controlled by the Jews.

RC: In medieval days, because the Church prohibited usury, the Jews became the ones who did the dirty work—handling finances for the Pope and the King. Having no religious prohibitions against finance and usury, the Jews became the financial class of Europe. They also became the gold merchants who were the first ones to practice fractional reserve banking. People would place their gold with the gold merchants who would then issue certificates against it, and then they would issue certificates against gold that they didn’t really have—the issuance would exceed the actual reserve.

GC: Fractional reserve is the idea that a bank can lend more than it actually has. Ten times or more. Isn’t it 30 times these days?

RC: It depends on what the reserve requirement is. Today it’s fairly low. … Anyway, that whole system came out of the Middle Ages … When William of Orange came over with the Glorious Revolution of 1688, he brought people with him who set up the Bank of England. The Bank of England has been the model for Central Banks to this day! It was created to loan money to the British government to fight its wars. That’s the model that we have today … it’s the system of our Federal Reserve when it was put in place in 1913. …

At Treasury, we worked very closely with the Fed. The Fed is the fiscal agent for the US Treasury. So, I learned about the Fed and how it worked in the trenches at Treasury. By the time I was getting ready to leave Treasury—around 2002/2003, I began to delve into the monetary reform movement that had existed in the US for a very long time, but which I had just begun to study in some detail. At the Carter White House, I had begun to learn about the British Social Credit Movement which came out of Britain in the 1920s and ‘30s as kind of the first monetary reform movement in the Western world. And all of this fit together in my mind around 2002-3, and I began to post some articles on the Internet under a pen name—though I still worked for Treasury. I also had gotten to know Stephen Zarlenga, the director of the American Monetary Institute, and I advised him on writing his monetary reform legislation—the American Monetary Act that he has in his brief to members of Congress. I also met Dennis Kucinich when he was running for President in 2004, and I gave some briefings to Dennis on US monetary history.

GC: Does Kucinich favor your monetary system?

RC: In fact, in the article I’m writing now, I note that Dennis just came out with a 16-point economic program—and one of the points focuses on the American Monetary Act on which I worked with Zerlanger.

GC: What’s the gist of it?

RC: It’s rather complex … but it starts with nationalizing the Federal Reserve system. Anyway, I never went to grad school in economics, but I learned monetary economics as a practitioner and a student of it in Treasury. I retired in January, 07, and that month I published the Challenger book. Then, I thought, What do I do now? Well, I’d written these Internet articles, I had my briefings for Kucinich, I had another article that I wrote that I posted at Global Research in January, and I thought, well, this is another book!—so I guess I’ll write a monetary book now. It turned out that Global Research, headed by Michel Chossudovsky up in Montreal, really liked my work. So, I had an outlet, and I became one of his chief economics writers. By April, I had digested the Social Credit ideas–based on the “dividend concept” that the way you release money into circulation is through a citizen’s dividend, not through bank-lending, which is the basic idea of the Alaska Permanent Fund. Well, by April, 2007, I had posted an article at Global Research titled, “An Emergency Program of Monetary Reform” because I felt very strongly that we were heading towards a collapse.

GC: And you foresaw this last year?

RC: Yes. … I continued to write these theoretical articles for the next two or three months. Then, in June, based on all of that plus signals I was getting from the Washington Post (which I call the newsletter of the financial elite), I posted an article entitled, “It’s Official: The Crash of the US Economy Has Begun.” That was 07. And, I can tell you, people who began to follow my writing at that time saved themselves a lot of money! I know people who started to get out of the stock market then.

GC: So … why didn’t you let me know?

RC: (Laughs …) Anyway, suddenly, I was now being called the whistle-blower on the US economy! I just had this compulsion to lift up the rocks and see what’s under them.

GC: And you’re looking at the slimy, crawling things. … You remind me again that autodidacts are among my favorite people … because they’re not “institutionalized,” they’re looking at things from the outside, and often are the best truth-tellers. That’s what you were doing at NASA—and now you’re doing it in the economic field. … So, you’ve done the research going back to the Middle Ages and how we’ve evolved this crazy system. You probably go back to colonial times—Hamilton setting his system up, and back to 1913 and the Federal Reserve. You’ve no doubt studied the Great Depression. … So, where are we now? We hear that we’re in the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression; others say this could be worse because it’s now global. Where are we in your analysis? And then we’ll get to “The Cook Plan.”

RC: I think we’re at the beginning of a terrible global depression, a terrible collapse. The problem is not just that the economic indicators point to that. The leading indicator in economics is purchasing power; that is, how much money do members of the economy have to purchase the necessities of life, and where do they get that money? Obviously, one way you get purchasing power is through your job—you earn it; another way is through dividends; another is capital gains; another is to borrow it. An increasing amount of purchasing power, not just for our nation, but for people around the world, has been through borrowing. So, if there’s a collapse in lending—it isn’t just that you can’t get a loan and you need to postpone some purchases; for many people, that means that you can’t live. If you’ve been living off your home equity loans, for example, and that’s gone, what’s going to replace it? Right now, we’re seeing not just a failure of the monied powers—because they’re so over-leveraged—we’re seeing a collapse of purchasing power among the people of the world. If that purchasing power can’t be replaced—the purchasing power that has entered the economy through lending over the past 10, 20, 30 years—where’s it going to come from? There’s no other source of purchasing power; so people can’t pay their mortgages or their utility bills, or buy food. If that happens on a global basis … and the credit economy isn’t filling the gap anymore because they realize that the loans they’re putting out aren’t going to be repaid—that’s the big problem. It’s not that the credit isn’t available because banks and governments can create as much credit as they want. Just off of ledgers. They can conjure up as much money to lend as they want to. The problem is paying the loans back. If people don’t have the money to pay the loans back, where’s it going to come from?

GC: And the housing crisis precipitated all of this?

RC: It was the trigger. It was the spark that lit something that was ready to blow up.

GC: Because a lot of these people were dependent on home equity loans, they’re using their houses as their credit cards, and then the value of their houses declines, and the banks don’t want to extend more credit—is that the way these dominoes have fallen?

RC: Well, yeah, but there are other twists and turns. For example, when the dot.com bubble burst in 2001—that was the Clinton bubble—it was created deliberately; that’s why Clinton looked so good because he made it all the way to 2000 on that bubble. His Secretary of the Treasury, Robert Rubin, engineered that bubble by pulling in huge amounts of foreign capital. When that bubble crashed and George W. Bush was sitting there looking at a long-term recession/depression at the beginning of his term and he was in the process of the first tax-cut for the rich in March of 01—he’s wondering what to do (the Bush Administration). They’ve given away money to the rich and they’re going to fight some really big wars. So, where’s the money coming from? In walks Alan Greenspan. Now, I’ve documented that once Bush became president, Greenspan’s visits to the White House rapidly accelerated. Greenspan began lowering interest rates and that began to free up capital for mortgage lending. People found they could much more easily get money to buy houses. But, also in 2001, I had a long interview that I conducted with a mortgage broker who told me that at that time the word came down through the mortgage industry to start falsifying applications for mortages; to start lying about the applicants’ income. One of my contacts who was borrowing money to buy a house at that time told me that on the mortgage applicant’s income—they would write in a number that was considerably above her real income.

GC: Where do you think word was coming down from? Ultimately from Greenspan?

RC: And Bush. The Bush administration and Greenspan. There was collusion between the Bush White House and the Federal Reserve.

GC: Did they know exactly what they were doing?

RC: Exactly.

GC: They had to finance their wars, make up for the tax cuts to the wealthy. …

RC: It was the economic engine of 2001 to 2006. You know, when Eliot Spitzer–just before he had to resign–he came out with a report that said when he was the attorney general in New York, he and the other attorneys general of the state decided that he had to crack down on mortgage fraud. They were prevented from doing so by a regulation that was put out at that time by the US Treasury Department. There’s also a report about Washington Mutual—it was on ABC of all places … all of their risk analysts who had prevented WM from getting caught up in these bad loans were suddenly told to stop—stop monitoring. The word was passed down: start lending at a much higher rate than before. Now, there’s no way these actions can be done without the regulators knowing it … without the Federal Reserve knowing. At some point, the whole system became a fraud to produce the economic engine for the Bush administration.

GC: And did they not know that there would be a reckoning at some point?

RC: What really triggered the collapse? Well, we say that at some point the sub-prime mortgages simply became untenable. But, what triggered that? It was triggered by two things: One is that part of the lending that was done was through these adjustable rate mortgage escalators where your rate was good for two or three years and then you suddenly find yourself paying $1,000 more each month. Borrowers were told, don’t worry, the value of the house will keep rising and you can sell your house and make some money. So, the fraud was built in not only by falsifying income, but through these adjustable rate mortgages (ARMS) that were time-bombs in the system. Allan Greenspan was behind that; he told people these ARMS were fine. Then, knowing that the ARMS were going to explode, the Fed under Greenspan began to raise interest rates in 2006. He started the bubble and then he blew it up.

GC: To protect the assets of the wealthy?

RC: We don’t quite know yet.

GC: And what about inflation and purchasing power? Doesn’t that kick into this also?

RC: Inflation came through the house values.

GC: And the wealthy hate inflation, right? Because it spoils the value of their assets.

RC: The inflation was in housing assets, and the wealthy were the lenders; so they didn’t care. Because once the plug is pulled and these houses are in foreclosure—and we’re over 4 million now since 2006—it’s the wealthy who come in and buy these houses at the crash prices.

GC: Those who have liquid assets.

RC: Yes … or the banks. The banks now own millions of houses.

GC: You talk about a “gap” … and you don’t mean the clothing store. … What is the gap between prices and purchasing power?

RC: This is the whole theory of Keynsian economics. (I learned a lot more about it on my own than I would have learned in college.) Basically, the problem in modern economics is poverty in the midst of plenty. You would think, with modern industrial methods, you could produce enough for everybody. For decades and longer, people would talk about the “leisure dividend”—everything could be mechanized to produce wealth, people won’t have to work so hard, they’ll have more time off … and it just never happened. Poverty in the midst of plenty has plagued our world ever since the Industrial Revolution really got rolling. Keynes set out to explain the problem. I’ll try to make it simple. … Everything that you produce has a price attached to it. You’re going to charge whatever you need to cover your costs and make a little profit. Profits are not high. In most industries, profits run somewhere between 5 and 10 percent. Part of that is paid in dividends and part is saved. The part that is saved is called “retained earnings.” Retained earnings are a necessity. Because of entropy—or the Law of Diminishing Returns. The idea is that, when you produce something, you’re producing at an efficiency rate that can’t be maintained indefinitely. Because, everything you buy, you’re buying at the best price you can get … but, over time, it gets more expensive because the easy stuff to sell comes first; but, over time, you’re going to incur more costs when you sell it. For example, when you hire people to work for you, you’re going to hire the most capable people and they’ll be the most productive. If you hire more people, they’ll probably need more training or are less capable—so you’ve got a Law of Diminishing Returns—your costs are going to rise. So, in order to cover those cost increases, you need to hold back payment (as retained earnings). That means that the money you pay out—that’s the purchasing power of the community; so the prices that the community is going to pay are always going to be higher than the purchasing power. That’s the gap, that’s the gap that I write about.

GC: And the savings–

C: That’s in the bank. And the bank generally lends for asset purchase, not investment. It’s a storage function, it’s not a capital investment function. In fact, in the last 30 years there’s probably been no growth at all in capital investment in the United States. All of the money that’s gone into the banks has gone into asset appreciation—because they make money on capital gains; that’s the chief source of wealth in our modern banking system—capital gains, which means inflation. At any rate, there’s this gap between prices and purchasing power. Keynes said that the whole system can collapse back to purchasing power, but then you’ll develop another gap and the whole system will keep ratcheting down—and that’s called a depression. During the Great Depression, there wasn’t purchasing power in the system to buy what was produced at the price that had to be charged in order to assure the continuation of the process.

GC: Again, there’s something systemic here … in the entropy. Is there any way around this?

RC: Keynes’ solution was to fill the gap by government debt—by pump-priming. Beginning in the 1930’s, we see Roosevelt running government deficits to fund things like job creation, the civil conservation corps, Works Progress Administration—that type of thing. He also used it to capitalize the Reconstruction Finance Corporation which began to lend at very low rates of interest into the private sector and into state and local governments and into the hands of farmers. Roosevelt essentially took over the credit creation function of government, he took it from the banks. The New Deal was created by government deficit financing. Additionally, he had very high marginal tax rates. The rich paid through the nose during the New Deal. … All of this really took off during World War II. The borrowing there shot up to the highest level we’ve ever had. Even today, we’re not that high, though we may get there in the next year or two! Now, another way you can fill the gap is through a positive trade balance. Because if you’ve got money coming into your system because we’re selling more stuff than we import—that becomes income. So, every nation wants to use trade—and that’s why you’ve got trade rivalries—

GC: Beggar your neighbor.

RC: Exactly. And, of course we saw that before World War I when Britain was fighting a trade war with Germany. After World War II, the US had a tremendous surplus in our balance of trade, which we lost in the 60’s and 70’s. So that was another thing that floated the economy. Still another way to close the gap is through economic growth. Because if you can outgrow your gap or outspend it through the velocity of money you can close it. And, you can close the gap through inflation! If you’ve got $100 in debt and you inflate the currency so it’s only worth $80, then it’s easier to pay off. So, inflation has been a bedrock of government fiscal policy since the 30’s. Why does the government have a cost of living every year for social security and for federal employees? Not to keep up with inflation, but to create inflation. Because its cumulative. Even if inflation is only 3 or 4 percent a year, you’re going to create an exponential curve; so, that’s one reason why—yeah, we may have just given away $750 billion to the banks, but we’re going to inflate the currency so much, we’ll get back $200 billion by the time we’re done … Another thing inflation does—and we saw this with the alternative minimum tax—it drives people into a higher tax bracket. … Now, one other thing about the gap—the gap was known when Keynes was writing, and the Social Credit Movement in Britain knew about it fifteen years earlier. Their solution was to fill the gap through dividends. Because the theory is that the gap is going to exist no matter what you do; but you modify it in some way. That’s what borrowing does in today’s system. You borrow money to modify retained earnings.

GC: Now we’re getting deeper into this. … So, monetizing the gap … I have to admit I’m getting a little fuzzy here … I had a conversation with Stephen Shafarman a month or so ago and he explained some of this, but I wondered: Here’s a government which will not finance universal health care, does not invest in education, and yet, Shafarman and you are proposing that this government will give us $1,000 a month for every adult and $500 a month for every child … where’s the money coming from? I thought money was about having some kind of tangible asset behind it—gold or a house, some kind of collateral. And therefore you could say that more money means more value in the asset. But your proposal is based on something else. You’re saying, print the money and give it to everyone. What am I missing?

RC: We’re not talking about money, we’re talking about credit. Credit is the producing potential of an economy. It’s a way of calling forth production. For example, if I give you—and this is why I’m doing it through vouchers, not cash payments because I don’t want people to take their cash and buy lottery tickets—it’s not productive. But if I give you a voucher, let’s say it’s for $10—let’s say it’s a food stamp. You can take that to the market place, and people will raise food because they’ll get $10 from you. That becomes an incentive for them to produce. What you’re doing when you introduce money into circulation this way, you’re monetizing future production—in response to that, people will do something they didn’t do before. This is the way a huge part of the US economy functioned during the 19th century. Gold and silver were monetized then at a ratio of 12 to 1, gold to silver. The government didn’t buy gold and silver and turn it into coins. The government ran a mint. In that mint, people who owned gold or silver—they brought it into the mint, and the mint would then take your gold and they’d stamp it into coins. And the mint would give it back to you—it was a free service. Now, you had a bag of gold bullion and now you have a hundred dollars in gold coins. You then go and spend that into the economy; and because you have gold now and you’re spending it, that incentivizes production; a whole system of production builds up because now there’s something of value that can be earned. This was why, for example, the California Gold Rush became such a spur to production in the US. … This was why the new cyanide process of extracting gold ore around 1900 was such a tremendous economic boon for the world—because it called forth production. It’s the same reason why the mining of gold and silver by the Spanish in the Americas in the 1500s brought into existence the modern productive economy. Because they were bringing gold and silver back. The government didn’t create that. It was brought back as a monetary commodity, and now suddenly people began to produce and produce and produce. The dividend is exactly the same principle. …

GC: Something you said turned a light on in my head. This phrase: “monetizing future production”. … These vouchers represent the future, they are a stake in the future! I’m going to give you this voucher and you’re going to spend it and this is going to call forth future production. So, how come we’re not already doing that?

RC: Because the banks control the system. The banks would rather loan you the money and extract interest from you than give you a voucher. For example, if you go down to U Street here in D.C., and you see the urban blight; if you began to hand out vouchers to the people who live there that place would be transformed—probably in a few months. It would be based on small business, you would have food products coming in, you would have a lot of new things being done. … This actually happened during the 70s when the community services administration was introducing grants into the inner cities to vitalize the local economy. But, as the 70s progressed, and all of those social programs were killed—that’s when the center cities fell back into the poverty that we see today. And when the Federal Reserve raised interest rates in the early 70s to a tremendously high level and killed off our producing economy, they did the same to the inner cities by withdrawing a source of credit that had begun to fuel commerce in those areas and had begun to transform our urban landscape.

GC: So, the banks have been making money on the system as it exists. But, now, the banks are in trouble. They’ve come to the taxpayers for a bailout … to perpetuate the whole system.

RC: The banking system is a parasite that is killing the host.

GC: And, this goes back to the Middle Ages. … You’re talking revolution, aren’t you?

RC: Yeah.

GC: And you’re talking real socialism. And maybe you can get into this a little bit because I think Americans are extremely confused about what socialism is. So, we hear this banter on right wing talk radio about how we’re becoming a socialist country because our government is involved in helping the banks, and taking over A.I.G. and so forth. But I say that’s more about National Socialism—which is what Hitler was all about. Or about Corporatism which is what Mussolini called his system—and it’s really Fascism, but you never hear the right using that term. What you’re talking about, I call it socialism with a small “s.” It’s real socialism that helps people where they live; helps them with the essentials and leads to survival and a thriving community.

RC: These right wingers should read Article One of the Constitution. Article One says that Congress shall regulate interstate commerce. It also says that Congress shall coin money and establish the value thereof. That Congress has not just the right, but the duty to regulate the economy, to regulate the monetary system. To what end? Well, then you go back to the Preamble of the Constitution—

GC: “To insure domestic tranquility”—

RC: “and promote the general welfare.” The people who wrote the Constitution knew that to promote the general welfare, Congress—the elected representatives—had to have the right to regulate interstate commerce and to coin money and establish its value. That’s what we’ve thrown away! For the sake of this right-wing, market nonsense that has totally failed and that has produced a catastrophe.

GC: And it works by creating bubbles, bursting bubbles, creating another bubble. …

RC: The banks really began to take over the economy in a big way in the 70s. That was the transition decade.

GC: When we went off the gold standard?

RC: That opened the door to unlimited inflation of money through the petro-dollar, and allowed the dollar to become the world reserve currency. But, also, interest rates began to climb, began to burst, in the 70s. By the end of the Volker recession interest rates were over 20 percent, which destroyed the US producing economy—and that was deliberate. From then on, every period of economic growth in this country has been a bubble!

GC: What you’re calling the “producing economy,” I’ve heard called the “real economy,” as opposed to the financialized economy.

RC: The guy who’s really defined this best is Dr. Michael Hudson. The producing economy is where people like you and I go to work every day and make stuff. The financial economy is money that’s leant into circulation or that is manipulated for profit without any productive value being created. Hudson calls it the FIRE economy—finance, insurance and real estate. The FIRE economy has killed the producing economy.

GC: As we start our last tape, I want to thank you for this tutorial! There’s a lot more we can talk about, but I’m hearing “time’s wing’d chariot” at my ear, so as we move towards the fire exits, let me ask you, since you’re talking revolution, What are you going to do when they come after you?

RC: (Laughs …) I really don’t think about that. I just do what I feel I’m supposed to do.

GC: It’s your moral commitment. …

RC: Yeah.

GC: You did mention that you studied comparative religions at William and Mary, so this is an important part of who you are. And, along those lines, you’ve also thought about what kind of future communities we might be living in in the US in twenty years. … Tell me about your vision of the future.

RC: Well, you can look at it in one of two ways, I think. One is economics that’s based upon the trickle down philosophy that we got starting with the Reagan years, which was that the rich will invest and produce, and the wealth that comes through that will somehow pass down into the hands of working people through jobs. And that whole idea of a top-down economy is not new; this was essentially what medieval feudalism was all about when the rich lived in their manors and had moats around their castles. (Of course, we see that today with our gated communities!) And the poor just fended for themselves. I think we’re going in that direction now. I think our culture is increasingly aristocratic, increasingly about passing wealth to the rich. And no better means of doing that has ever been invented than bank finance, where, through the magic of compound interest, I don’t work anymore but my money works for me; all the wealth of the community is sucked upward through that vortex up to the hands of the people at the top. We’ve seen this before in history, and we’re seeing it now. … The other way is approaching it from the bottom up. It’s giving people who work for a living the ability not only to survive but to flourish. And to do that, there must be a way of providing access to people in the community for wealth creation—for savings, for investment. Why should we do that? Basically, I believe in the concept that all men are created equal, we’re all equal in the eyes of God, and that every human being has a right to live on this earth and to take part in the life that is possible to us through the opportunity to manifest our potential. I’m a democrat with a small “d,” and I think that those periods of history where that has been possible have been the times when America has truly been a great nation.

GC: When were those times?

RC: One was after 1800, when, through the Louisiana Purchase, the whole West was opened up and people were free to go out and establish a farm or a business. We opened ourselves up to immigration to people from all around the world and I think a tremendous force was unleashed for opportunity, for achievement and for genius that we haven’t had since then.

GC: That’s a long time back!

RC: I think the New Deal was that. My family were New Dealers. My parents got their education through New Deal programs. I got mine through the National Defense Education Act; programs were available so that students from the working or middle class could become part of our social life, part of our economy. And, those days are ending. Increasingly, the only students who can go to college are those who have money or can mortgage their futures with these tremendous student loans—and even those loans are disappearing with the credit crisis. I believe that the true genius of the human race can be unlocked from the bottom—from ordinary people being given the opportunity to fulfill their God-given destiny. I think that, essentially, for me, this is what the teaching of Jesus was about. The best economics is the one based on the principle of doing unto your neighbor as you would have them do unto you. You don’t rob from your neighbor, you give to your neighbor. And I believe our present economic system is robbing from our neighbor. Taking what belongs from them, and essentially enslaving your neighbor into working not for him and his posterity and his family, but for you—because you’re the one who is living off the fat of the land through your compound interest, your financial lending system and all that comes with it.

GC: I agree with you, but let me play devil’s advocate. What I hear, more and more, is that we can’t afford this; because we have to compete with China, India. How can we possibly compete? They have so many more people; they can work so much cheaper. So, how does your system make sense in this emerging world market?

RC: We don’t have to compete with anybody. The reason that China and India appear so competitive is that they’re so poor to begin with. They’re able to throw millions of laborers into making our Christmas tree ornaments! For them to grow from abject poverty to where a portion of them are approaching middle class status looks like great economic growth. And because they’re willing to work so cheaply they can under-price us—if we’re dependent upon a competitive market place in order to earn the money that we need to keep our economy afloat because we’re so in debt to ourselves or our banking system that we can’t produce at that same level of efficiency. Now, a dividend-based economy … well, take farming for example: right now our family farm is dead; a family farm can’t afford to compete in the market place. But, if we were able to monetize our farming economy through dividends where you had the vouchers I’ve been talking about and you could take them down to the farmers’ market, if you could feed money into the system from that source—that would allow people who can’t afford to farm today to begin farming again. … So, the only reason you have these competitive relations between nations is because you have a global economy based upon top-down bank-financing which ultimately is usury and ultimately sucks the cream off the top of the productive system for the benefit and profit of the bankers, the bond-holders, the interest holders—and it impoverishes everyone else. Essentially you’ve got a bunch of starving people in China competing against a bunch of starving people in India competing against a bunch of people who soon are going to be starving in America to get that slight edge in order to allow a top-down, debt-based monetary system to live off the fat of the land. Once you get rid of that system and introduce currency at the grass-roots level, you create a whole new economic paradigm that will change everything. And, you’re right. It’s a political revolution … because the only reason we don’t do that today is because of the increasing power in the hands of the financiers and the politicians they own.

GC: So how are we going to overturn this system? What’s it going to take? A Russian revolution? 20 million dead?

RC: Actually, the Russian revolution was a bankers’ revolution. Lenin and Trotsky were financed by Rothschild and Rockefeller and the big New York banks. Actually, the Romanovs did not have a central bank, the way there was a Federal Reserve or a Bank of England. The Russian economy was being financed by indigenous land banks out in the Russian countryside that would lend based on land mortgages at very little rates of interest. That was creating what was becoming one of the strongest economies in the world. And the Bolsheviks essentially made an agreement with the bankers in the West: if you finance us, we’ll put a central bank in Russia that you will own—and that’s exactly what happened. And Russia afterwards became dependent on Western banking and commerce. In fact, one of the biggest supporters of the growth of Russian industry under Stalin was the Rockefellers. The Rockefellers were granted leases in the Baku oilfields around the Caspian—

GC: Oh man!

RC: Yeah, it’s all very. … So, the kind of revolution I’m talking about is a monetary revolution that would place purchasing power directly in the hands of the people for them to spend as they wish at the local level. Then, once you begin to produce in that way, you do create a certain level of savings, and that savings can then capitalize true capital markets where people pool their resources and savings. We don’t have true capital markets anymore—that kind of pooling of resources by average people where they can make investments. What we have instead is speculators buying stocks on margin or buying whole companies through equity purchases on margin where 90-95%–or more–of capital used in the system is bank leveraging; it’s speculative money that has polluted and poisoned the capital markets.

GC: I understand what you’re saying about a peaceful monetary revolution. But … they’re not going to turn it over to you and to me.

RC: The people have to demand it!

GC: They’ll shoot us in the streets!

RC: I don’t have an answer for this. I can see in the last two years a big change in the number of people who have begun to see things in this way and to identify the banking and financial systems as the root of the problem. I think Ron Paul had a lot to do with it. He’s introduced legislation to abolish the Federal Reserve system. And, the Libertarians, as misguided as some of their solutions are—like, for example, the idea of returning to the gold standard, which is just a red herring—at least they have the idea that the people are capable of running their own affairs without government oversight or interference. That’s one reason I like the Alaska Permanent Fund so much. During the 70s when they were setting this up, the state government wanted to take these royalties from the oil companies and then distribute them to the people through social programs, etc. And there was an outcry among the people: Just give us the money and we’ll decide how to spend it! There was no reason to go through the government bureaucracies and then disburse the money to the people through means testing, etc. The Alaskans had a referendum, and now every year a cash payment is made to every resident there. This last year the payment was $3,269 per resident. Now, if you’re in a household with 4 people, you’re making $13,000 cash, a substantial amount of money that Alaskans have given to them to do whatever they want! There’s no reason why we can’t do that—or even more—for every resident of the United States. And that’s what we should be demanding. People shouldn’t be going up to Congress for more social programs. … When Bush gave out the $600 rebate during the second quarter of 2008, that’s one of the few right things he ever did. That’s what prevented the economy from going into recession during the second quarter. Even that piddling amount. We’ve got substantial movement in this country through the Basic Income Guarantee movement, through Shafarman’s movement, we’ve got the same thing in Europe; we have countries in Latin America which are moving in this direction. There is awareness that can be built on. But at some point the current has to tip in favor of the people over the banks. Who will run the economy of the world—the people who work and hope and sweat and have aspirations, or is it the banks that suck the life out of every economy they’ve ever been associated with? At a certain point people just have to say they’ve had enough. One way or another that’s happening. A lot of people are defaulting on their credit card debts, for example. My daughter was paying over 28% on her cards. She can’t pay it anymore. She doesn’t have the money. They’re gonna kill the economy; they’re gonna kill people who can’t continue to work to support the financial controllers. Something has to change. And if they drive the country into a collapse—and they will—then at some point, people who have the ability to say no are going to have to do it. Through whatever means is available.

GC: You think it’s imminent, or will they manage to pull themselves out again?

RC: I can’t see the system being rescued. Because it’s spread globally. The credit system has collapsed because people cannot pay their loans any more. I mean, if we have a winter where the grocery stores can’t put food on their shelves, people will be starving in this country. There’s already 35 million who are “nutritionally deprived”—the term they use nowadays. Food stamps applications are growing tremendously. Surplus food has declined. Something’s gotta give. This could become tragically serious in one to two years. Unless something is done to revitalize the local, producing economies.

GC: I think we’re especially vulnerable in the winter months.

RC: We could see real starvation coming in the next one to two years. The current level of population in the US exists because of our industrial economy. If that economy collapses, so will our population.

GC: Which has more than doubled in our lifetime.

RC: Yeah. The people who run our government understand the dangers, but they don’t know how to fix it because they’ve been taken over by this cancer which is the financial system.

GC: Maybe they understand, but they’re so vested in it, they’re like the people at NASA—they don’t want to stop it.

RC: I think that’s fair.

GC: Well, on that grim note, I guess we can wrap this up. Now, to go even deeper into this, the good folks ought to read your forthcoming book. The title was?

RC: WE HOLD THESE TRUTHS: THE HOPE OF MONETARY REFORM.

GC: And the press?

RC: Tendril Press.

GC: Thank you very much, Rick. You’ve given us a lot to ponder—and to act on!

Richard C. Cook is the author of Challenger Revealed, and the forthcoming, We Hold These Truths: The Hope of Monetary Reform.  His work is widely disseminated on the Internet.  Gary Corseri has published novels and poetry collections, had plays produced on Atlanta-PBS and elsewhere, and has performed at the Carter Presidential Library.  His work is widely disseminated on the Net.

Biden’s chilling remarks at fundraiser

Biden’s chilling remarks at fundraiser

What “incredibly tough” foreign policy actions is Obama preparing?

By Patrick Martin
22 October 2008

In remarks made over the weekend in Seattle, Democratic vice presidential candidate Joseph Biden warned that Barack Obama, if elected president, would be compelled to take deeply unpopular actions in both domestic and foreign policy within months of taking office.

In closed-door gatherings with two audiences of Democratic Party insiders and fundraisers, Biden forecast a major international crisis in the first six months of an Obama administration.

He compared Obama to John F. Kennedy, the last senator to be elected president. “It will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy,” Biden said. “The world is looking. We’re about to elect a brilliant 47-year-old senator president of the United States of America. Watch. We’re going to have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy.”

Biden mentioned the Middle East, Afghanistan, Pakistan, North Korea and Russia as potential points of conflict, but did not spell out the exact nature of such a crisis, observing, “I can give you at least four or five scenarios from where it might originate.” He made it clear that Obama would respond forcefully: “They’re going to want to test him. And they’re going to find out this guy’s got steel in his spine.”

The most politically significant portion of Biden’s remarks came when he admitted that the decisions of an Obama-Biden administration were likely to be deeply unpopular, and he called on the Democratic Party regulars to stand behind the new president even when public opinion turned against him.

“He’s going to need help,” Biden said. “He’s going to need you—not financially to help him—we’re going to need you to use your influence, your influence within the community, to stand with him. Because it’s not going to be apparent initially, it’s not going to be apparent that we’re right.”

He continued, “There are going to be a lot of you who want to go, ‘Whoa, wait a minute, yo, whoa, whoa, I don’t know about that decision.’ Because if you think the decision is sound when they’re made, which I believe you will when they’re made, they’re not likely to be as popular as they are sound. Because if they’re popular, they’re probably not sound.”

Here is the voice of a longtime representative of the financial aristocracy, voicing his contempt for public opinion—”if decisions are popular, they’re probably not sound”—and warning his wealthy audience that the new Obama-Biden administration will have to defy public opinion to carry out its policies. Biden’s language suggests that the ferocity of the new administration’s response will shock not only public opinion, but even its own supporters.

In that context, one must point out Biden’s suggestions that nuclear weapons might play a role in one or more of the potential crises. A nuclear-armed Korean Peninsula could lead to “Japan as a nuclear power,” he said, which could push China into expanding its nuclear weaponry. The Pakistan-Afghanistan border is “crawling with Al Qaeda” and “Pakistan is already bristling with nuclear weapons, all of which can hit Israel.” Biden also noted Iran’s alleged drive to build a nuclear weapon.

Foreign policy journals and pundits linked to the Democratic Party have undoubtedly been discussing many such doomsday scenarios, and Biden’s language suggests that the use of the US nuclear arsenal, the world’s largest, is under consideration by those who are formulating the foreign and military policy of an Obama-Biden administration.

Biden himself has been one of the most hawkish on foreign policy among leading congressional Democrats, backing the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq and advocating a US-led military intervention in Darfur. During the Democratic presidential primary campaign, he was the most vociferous of all the candidates in denouncing antiwar protest groups seeking a cutoff of funds for the war in Iraq.

Biden’s expectation of widespread popular hostility to an Obama administration applies not only to foreign and military policy, but to domestic policy. He told the Seattle audience, “I promise you, you all are going to be sitting here a year from now going, ‘Oh my God, why are they there in the polls, why is the polling so down, why is this thing so tough?’ We’re going have to make some incredibly tough decisions in the first two years.”

The Democratic candidate did not spell out the exact nature of these “incredibly tough decisions,” other than to refer to the financial and economic crisis and two wars being bequeathed by the Bush administration to its successor.

In the wake of these blunt and ominous comments, there have been disingenuous attempts to explain them away from both parties.

Republican presidential candidate John McCain seized on the suggestion that foreign enemies might seek to test an inexperienced President Obama, citing his own military and foreign policy expertise going back more than 50 years. Right-wing pundits went further, suggesting, as one put it, that “Biden is forecasting inaction by Obama in the face of testing by a dictator.”

This interpretation is preposterous, especially given Biden’s own record as a fervent supporter of US military intervention. Obama’s selection of the Delaware senator as his running mate was itself an effort to reassure the political establishment of his commitment to defend the interests of American imperialism by military force.

The Obama campaign sought to shrug off Biden’s remarks as a mere historical generalization, triggered by the Obama-Kennedy analogy, not a prediction of impending crisis. A campaign spokesman said Biden was referring to Kennedy’s confrontation with Soviet President Nikita Khrushchev in summit talks in Vienna, a few months after he took office—although these talks took place after a US military provocation—the invasion of Cuba by US-trained exiles who were defeated at the Bay of Pigs.

An Obama administration would not be an “innocent abroad,” picked on by dictators out to “test the mettle” of a US president. American imperialism continues from administration to administration, Democratic or Republican. If elected, Obama will take office heading the world’s largest military machine, engaged in violent provocations in dozens of countries, any of which could flare up unexpectedly, especially under the impact of the deepening world economic crisis.

Obama won the Democratic presidential nomination by presenting himself as the more consistent antiwar candidate, and the Democratic ticket in public pledges to end the war in Iraq and adopt a less militaristic stance. But behind closed doors, before select audiences of the financial and political elite, Biden has given a glimpse of the real perspective of the Democratic wing of American imperialism

Dying in the name of GWOT

Dying in the name of GWOT

Rob Lafferty

COLLATERAL DAMAGE IS OK, IF CIVILIANS REFUSE TO FOLLOW ARMY ORDERS AND VACATE THEIR HOMES.

The effort in Afghanistan is going to be the longest campaign of the long war.” — Gen. David Petraeus

The Global War On Terror is an awkward name with the terribly appropriate acronym of GWOT. Those who believe in the romance of war prefer “The Long War” as a name for our current military misadventures against Islamic jihadists. It resonates better in speeches and looks better when printed on a page, and that’s important when selling a war to a nation. There’s no glory in a GWOT, but a Long War evokes the full range of Hollywood war imagery that most Americans have grown to love.     As George Carlin always liked to point out, Americans are pretty much a war-like people; we have a war with somebody every few years, so we must like wars. We paid billions of dollars to maintain 761 active military bases in 151 foreign countries this year. We support our troops when they are at war, even when we don’t understand why they’re being sent to fight and to die. And we talk about the invasion and occupation of Iraq as if it were a justifiable war, even though our government broke about a dozen national and international laws when it dropped the “Shock and Awe” bombing campaign onto the city of Baghdad.

In May of 2007, 126 U.S. soldiers died in Iraq during a year when U.S. forces averaged nearly four deaths per day. Last month 25 American troops were killed; casualties have dropped to an average of one death per day this year. This represents progress to some people — a sign that we’re “winning” against the resistance to our occupation.

All it really means is that 25 more American citizens died somewhere they never should have been. A true sign of progress would be soldiers coming home to stay, but that isn’t happening yet. When the number of U.S. troops stationed in Iraq does begin to drop, however, it won’t necessarily mean that they’re coming home.

In Afghanistan, coalition forces lost 232 soldiers in 2007, the most in one year since fighting began in 2001. Today, in mid-October, that death toll is already 247 for this year and rising.

Both presidential candidates have said that they’ll continue to send more young men and women into Afghanistan, where some of them will die. Of course, the candidates don’t actually say that; they talk about increasing our troop levels in order to take the battle to the enemy, or some other more appropriate phrasing that doesn’t fully acknowledge the violence and death those troops will endure.

So we know that U.S. troops will be dying in the sands of Iraq for at least more two years after GWB walks away from the White House in January and boards a plane bound for Texas. We know that U.S. troops will still be fighting in the mountain valleys of Afghanistan when the 2012 presidential elections come around.

And that, after all, was part of the Cheney/Rumsfeld invasion plan all along. That’s why those six “enduring camps” in the desert sand, whose construction started immediately after the occupation began, are now acknowledged as full-service air bases that will “endure” for a very long time indeed.

And yet American soldiers will never be welcome on the streets of Iraq by the descendants of the ancient tribal divisions of Mesopotamia, who have long memories and intentions of their own. A significant number of Iraqi people prefer to work out their own destiny without any further outside interference.

It seems as if we’ve forgotten that the people of Iraq are very much like us. We forget that so many have suffered agonizing losses — though no fault of their own. And we don’t seem to understand how many innocents die when our weapons go astray in towns and villages.

Two dozen American soldiers killed each month is a tragedy, but those are small numbers when compared to the number of people — men, women and children, young and old, the innocent along with the guilty — who are killed every month by American weapons in Iraqi and Afghanistan. It’s impossible to know the true numbers, but it’s safe to say that for each U.S. soldier killed in action there have been at least five innocent children killed by mistake.

After five long years, every village, town and city in Iraq and Afghanistan has been deeply affected by sudden, violent death inflicted upon them by Sunni militias or Shia mobs or jihadist bombs — and also by American air strikes.

According to the Afghani government, two U.S. bomb and rocket attacks in July in the northern provinces killed 62 civilians, including a wedding party of mostly women and children. U.S. military investigators concede that more than 30 civilians died in American air strikes on Aug. 22 against a suspected Taliban compound in Azizabad, a village in western Afghanistan.

They raised their initial estimate of 5-7 civilian deaths after seeing numerous bodies pulled out of the rubble of exploded buildings. That’s still far below the number of 90 victims that Afghani and U.N. officials claim is supported by cellphone photos, fresh graves and witnesses who saw the bodies.     “Such acts provoke public hatred towards internal and foreign forces and force people to join the enemy who encourages them to carry out terrorist and suicide attacks,” read an editorial in the Afghani Hewad newspaper.

“The Americans will soon face new resistance with new motives if they continue such operations and do not care even a little about the lives of the people,” the daily Anis wrote. Both newspapers are controlled by the government, so their editorial positions reflect the official state position on all issues.

The kind of problems we’re creating in the Middle East go far beyond the accidental deaths that are inevitable in urban warfare. We’ve used cluster bombs and white phosphorus and depleted uranium as weapons, and we’ve used them against civilians — most often by mistake, but there were no mistakes to be made when U.S. forces sought to regain control of the city of Fallujah for the second time in November of 2004.

U.S. military statements at the time reflected a belief that perhaps 5,000 insurgents were hiding among the 300,000 residents of Fallujah. A direct military decision was made to punish the city for stubbornly resisting the occupation and for harboring those insurgents.

The assault was preceded by eight weeks of aerial bombardment. U.S. troops cut off the city’s water, power and food supplies. Two-thirds of the city’s 300,000 residents fled, most of them landing in squatters’ camps without basic facilities.

Anyone left in town once the fighting began was considered to be hostile and a legitimate target. Unit commanders later revealed their troops had orders to shoot all males of fighting age seen on the streets, armed or unarmed. Most of the buildings were leveled, including residential neighborhoods, and an unknown number of children were killed simply because their families didn’t get out in time.     By the end of operations, much of the city lay in ruins. Seventy percent of the buildings were damaged, including 30,000 homes. Another 5,000 homes were totally destroyed. Dozens of mosques and schools were hit by rockets or mortar rounds or cannon shells.

Relief agencies and Iraqi medical workers estimate that at least 7,000 people died as a result of Operation Phantom Fury. Most of the dead were young or middle-aged men and presumed to be fighters, but there were a lot of funerals held for women and children after the battle quieted down.     Mortar teams fired thousands of rounds of high explosives and white phosphorus bombs into the city for 48 hours before the street fighting began. They never saw what they hit and they had no idea what damage was being done — they were given coordinates over the radio and they targeted their mortars accordingly.

In March of 2005, Field Artillery Magazine published “The Fight for Fallujah,” an article that openly discussed the use of white phosphorous. A former soldier was quoted as saying, “WP proved to be an effective and versatile munition. We fired ‘shake and bake’ missions at the insurgents, using WP to flush them out and high explosives to take them out.”

The Geneva Protocol bans the use of white phosphorous, “since its use causes indiscriminate and extreme injuries especially when deployed in an urban area.” White phosphorous bombs and rockets were used in Fallujah by our own government’s admission. “Willie Pete,” the soldiers call it. The DOD claims it was used only for illumination purposes, but Iraqi Health Ministry officials reported finding bodies with melted flesh. Willie Pete does that to people, as does napalm.

Dr. Khalid ash-Shaykhli was the head of the Iraqi Ministry of Health in Fallujah in 2004. He was reported as stating that “… research, prepared by his medical team, prove that U.S. forces used internationally prohibited substances, including mustard gas, nerve gas, napalm and other burning chemicals in their attacks on the war-torn city.”

Dr Shaykhli’s claims are echoed in eyewitness accounts of the street fighting, stating that “…all forms of nature were wiped out in Fallujah” and “…hundreds of dogs, cats, and birds had perished as a result of those gasses” and “…an unidentified chemical was used in the bombing raids that killed every living creature in certain areas of the city.”

That’s the real legacy of the neoconservative movement’s decision to use full military power and “take the gloves off” as we journey “over to the darker side” in our international struggle against violent extremists. In the process, we are making just as many enemies among the people of Iraq and Afghanistan as the Taliban and Al-Queda are.

And so we have The Long War to Keep America Safe. It will always be fought on foreign soil. And innocent foreign children will continue pay the ultimate price of our pursuit of the illusion of safety.

The princes of shadows: How to sponsor terrorism Saudi style

The princes of shadows: How to sponsor terrorism

Saudi style


By Arash Parsa, Press TV, Tehran

The Arabic-language TV channel al-Arabiya has recently broadcast an interview with Abdul Malik Rigi, the ringleader of the terrorist group Jundollah, which has been active in the southeastern Iranian province of Sistan-Baluchestan.

The satellite channel also aired footage showing the execution of the Iranian hostages that had been held by the terrorist group. The gruesome pictures were aired without the consideration of the fact that the hostages’ families might be watching the TV channel.

Broadcasting violent pictures is considered a blatant violation of journalistic standards even if there were not any concerns about the hostages’ families, and many TV channels have so far been boycotted for such unprofessional acts.

Al-Arabiya has also been using the term ‘Popular Resistance Movement of Iran’ to name a terrorist organization which according to its leader comprises of nearly 200 gunmen and resembles a criminal gang rather than a political movement. There is no need to be reminded that using the term ‘Popular Resistance Movement of Iran’ may mislead the public into believing that the group represents the Iranian people.

Hassan Fahs, the former head of al-Arabiya’s Tehran office, whose visa was not renewed by Iranian officials, had previously admitted that the satellite station had been providing a ‘special coverage’ of the Jundullah story. He has defended the performance of his news outlet and described it as ‘completely professional’. Of course, nobody asked ‘this professional journalist,’ why al-Arabiya’s reporter never posed the question about how a gang of nearly 200 unpopular bandits could topple one of the most powerful governments of the Middle East.

Let us honestly answer this question: if one of the Iranian-based TV channels aired an interview with Osama bin Laden, wouldn’t we see American tanks marching on the streets of Iranian cities?

In a world where a US Senator proposes that the Iranian Arab-language TV channel al-Alam be blacklisted as a terrorist organization simply because of broadcasting an interview in which a man had ‘threatened a US warship in his remarks,’ no one blames al-Arabiya for its interview with this ‘petty terrorist’, who ran a show of hostage execution. Instead, the satellite channel has been lauded for its professionalism.

Al-Arbaiya TV channel, which belongs to the MBC group and at least is partially funded by the Saudi Royal family, certainly has humane motivations. It is ‘concerned’ about Iran’s Sunni minority who freely practice their religion in the country. It is, of course, humane to ignore Saudi Arabia’s Shia minority, whose members live in a country in which you are not authorized to be anything but a Sunni Muslim.

Shia means trouble, so who cares if no Shia Muslim in Saudi Arabia dares pray based on his or her religion in public.

It was humane motivations that prompted the MBC group to launch a Persian language movie channel which screens ‘Alexander the Great’, the success story of an arch foe of the Persian Empire, who has been known as ‘Gojastak’ (damned or evil) among Iranians over his atrocities in the country.

All Saudi-sponsored measures against Iran and Iranians have been based on philanthropic motivations and the moral principles of the great teachers of ethics like Machiavelli: when we see nobody buys our thoughts and we are losing our leverage in the region, forget humanity, deal a blow to your rival, no matter how unfair your tactic is.

One cannot also ignore the role of Pakistan’s intelligence service (I.S.I) in Rigi’s show. While a ‘simple al-Arabiya reporter’ can easily find Rigi in ‘Iran’s mountains’ (note: Iran’s Mountains is the name of a range of mountains in Pakistan!), how is it that Pakistani security apparatus with its sophisticated equipments and tactics does not know anything about the whereabouts of Rigi, bin Laden, Taliban leaders and tens of other criminals. Even an average person with an average IQ knows that fighting for years (as we have seen in the case of the Taliban) is impossible without logistical, military and intelligence support from a foreign country.

The interesting point is that I.S.I– a shadowy entity which has always been as a government within the government and nobody knows who is in charge of it– is financially supported by Saudi Arabia.

Yet nobody poses the question why we could see the traces of ‘the Kingdom’ in almost all major terrorist activities in the region.

Isn’t it Saudi Arabia that promotes a version of ‘Islam’ which sanctions the execution of prisoners of war, a heinous practice against all Islamic values?

It was just a few years ago that Prince Bandar bin Sultan a.k.a Bandar Bush, (one the best friends of Bush) was widely accused by the media of brokering a deal with al-Qaeda under which Saudi’s would funnel millions of dollars to the terror network ‘to prevent the group from carrying out operations inside the oil-rich kingdom’.

We can easily realize Saudi’s role in supporting the Taliban, a savage group which did not respect the world’s cultural heritage, massacred Hazara civilians over their religious beliefs and showed that it is not committed to any international norms and regulations.

Based on confirmed reports, Prince Turki al-Faisal, the former Saudi intelligence chief, is believed to have had dealings with the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan before the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Saudi Arabia is reportedly to mediate the talks between the Taliban and the West. The negotiations would certainly be a black record for the West which has always been adopting the policy of appeasement in dealing with tyrannical regimes, dictators and terrorists throughout history.

The Saudis have had a hand in the recent violence in Lebanon involving Salafi groups. Of course, it is still wise to be aware of ‘the Shia threat’ and join forces with those who are complaining about conspiracies to form an imaginary ‘Shia Crescent’ in the Middle East.

Isn’t there anyone out there to ask who are the real sponsors of terrorism, those who make deals with terrorists across the world or those who are guilty of supporting the Palestinian and Lebanese nations?

Isn’t it true that each petrodollar that Saudi Arabia earns will eventually turns into a bullet to penetrate the body of an innocent or a bomb that would fill the graves with bodies of children and women?

Who does not know that al-Qaeda and the Taliban are a product of the opportunistic policies of Carter, Kissinger, Reagan and other Western politicians plus Saudi money? Of course, there should be an al-Qaeda, otherwise how could the neocons wage their quixotic crusade? How could the West find a pretext to justify its discriminative approach to a Muslim minority in ‘the democratic West’ and the violation of civilian rights and privacy?

Oh, and don’t forget! Everything has a reasonable explanation: we have good terrorists and bad terrorists. Sponsors of terrorism are also categorized into good and bad ones. The good terrorism-sponsors are princes with petrodollars in their pockets and the bad ones are those who call for a referendum in occupied Palestine.

You can run a kingdom in which no woman are allowed to drive or vote and of course nobody will be concerned about human rights situations in the country, because you are a good violator of human rights. You also can choose to live in a republic, a bad violator of human rights, in which women can vote, drive and lead a normal life.

It is easy to be a good human rights violator, just smile at the White House. Try this formula and you will never look back.

In this way you could keep your nukes while witnessing big powers fighting each other over selling advanced nuclear technology to you. Otherwise, even running a nuclear power plant might be dangerous.

Displaced by Pakistan’s ‘war on terror’

By Chris Morris
BBC News, North West Frontier Province

Nowshera camp

People complain they have lost everything

In a school compound on the outskirts of the town of Nowshera, more than 1,000 people are getting used to a new life.

Living in tents under a sweltering sun, these are the frontline victims of the war on terror.

“It’s so hot here,” said one young man. “We come from the mountains and we’re not used to it.”

They have fled from a huge Pakistani military operation against Islamist militants in the Bajaur tribal area near the border with Afghanistan.

As many as 300,000 people have fled from their homes in a matter of weeks.

We’ve had hostility with India for 60 years and they’ve never bombed us. Now our own government is bombing us with F16s and helicopters. Where does this cruelty and injustice come from?
Niaz Mohammad

Some are staying with friends and family in safer areas, but many are relying on temporary camps and assistance from NGOs and the government.

It is a huge challenge.

Water and cooking utensils are being handed out, and tents are sprayed to give some protection against malaria.

An appeal has been made for millions of dollars in aid to help provide food and shelter for people who arrived here with almost nothing.

Anger

Understandably, they are bewildered and angry.

“We’ve lost our cattle, all our possessions, all our crops – we’ve lost everything,” complained Niaz Mohammad.

Stop the bombing, stop trying to please America
Abdur Rehman

“We’ve had hostility with India for 60 years and they’ve never bombed us. Now our own government is bombing us with F16s and helicopters. Where does this cruelty and injustice come from?”

“[President Pervez] Musharraf is finished, and this is supposed to be the people’s government,” said Dost Mohammad. “So why hasn’t the war come to an end?”

One of the reasons is that as the Pakistani Taleban’s sphere of influence has expanded, the border region has become a sanctuary for groups linked to al-Qaeda.

Foreign fighters

The authorities in the North West Frontier Province said that if a military operation had not been launched this month in Bajaur, the area would have been over-run by “Arab, Chechen and Uzbek militants”.

It is the influence of foreign fighters and al-Qaeda that really worries people.

Bajaur has always been one of the places suggested as a possible hiding place for Osama Bin Laden.

I’ve never seen any militants or any government officials dying. It’s people like us – the ordinary man – he’s the one who’s dying
Sami Khan

And as a result, many people who have fled from Bajaur feel trapped.

There is little support expressed in the camp for the local Taleban or for their foreign allies.

Sami Khan studied in England for four years before returning home.

Now he has been forced to flee in a hurry.

“It’s a fight between militants and the government,” he said.

“But the thing is I’ve never seen any militants or any government officials dying. It’s people like us – the ordinary man – he’s the one who’s dying.”

Niaz Mohammad

Niaz Mohammad wants to know why they have been forced out

And no-one knows quite when it will be safe for them to go back to their villages.

The school in Nowshera is due to reopen soon, so the displaced may have to move on again.

The instability in the tribal areas is spreading into the rest of the country in more dangerous ways as well.

The Taleban has said the double suicide bombing last week, killing more than 60 people outside Pakistan’s main arms factory, was in direct retaliation for the military offensive in Bajaur.

So among the newly displaced in the school field, there is a simple suggestion.

“Stop the bombing, stop trying to please America,” said Abdur Rehman. “The money that Pakistan gets for this will come and go, but the people won’t forgive them. If the people’s hearts are broken, they won’t forget.”

Among these tents, and in this heat, it will be an uphill battle for the government to persuade its citizens that the war against extremism is their war, too.

The Afghan-Pakistan militant nexus

Seven years after 9/11, the US has declared the Afghan-Pakistan border region to be the new frontline in its war on terror. Use the map to see how militants operate on either side of the border. (Text: M Ilyas Khan)

Helmand, Chaghai

Kabul’s writ has never run strong in the remote southern plains of Helmand province. Further south, across the border in Pakistan, lies the equally remote Noshki-Chaghai region of Balochistan province.

Since 9/11, this region has been in turmoil. In the Baramcha area on the Afghan side of the border, the Taleban have a major base. The chief commander is Mansoor Dadullah. From there they control militant activities as far afield as Nimroz and Farah provinces in the west, Oruzgan in the north and parts of Kandahar province in the east. They also link up with groups based in the Waziristan region of Pakistan.

The Helmand Taleban, unlike comrades elsewhere in Afghanistan, have been able to capture territory and hold it, mostly in the southern parts of the province. They constantly threaten traffic on the highway that connects Kandahar with Herat.

Kandahar, Quetta

Kandahar has the symbolic importance of being the spiritual centre of the Taleban movement and also the place of its origin. The supreme Taleban leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar, made the city his headquarters when the Taleban came to power in 1996. Top al-Qaeda leaders, including Osama Bin Laden, preferred it to the country’s political capital, Kabul.

As such, the control of Kandahar province is a matter of great prestige. The first suicide attacks in Afghanistan took place in Kandahar in 2005-06, and were linked to al-Qaeda. Kandahar has seen some high-profile jailbreaks and assassination bids, including one on President Karzai.

The Afghan government has prevented the Taleban from seizing control of any significant district centre or town. International forces have large bases in the airport area as well as at the former residence of Mullah Omar in the western suburbs of Kandahar city.

But the Taleban have a strong presence in the countryside, especially in southern and eastern areas along the border with Pakistan. Afghan and Western officials have in the past said the Taleban have used Quetta, the capital of the Pakistan province of Balochistan, as a major hideout as well as other Pakistani towns along the Kandahar border.

Mullah Omar is probably in hiding in Kandahar or Helmand.

Zabul, Toba Kakar

Afghanistan’s Zabul province lies to the north of Kandahar, along the Toba Kakar mountain range that separates it from the Pakistani districts of Killa Saifullah and Killa Abdullah. The mountans are remote, and have been largely quiet except for a couple of occasions when Pakistani security forces scoured them for al-Qaeda suspects.

Reports from Afghanistan say militants use the area in special circumstances. In early 2002, Taleban militants fleeing US forces in Paktia and Paktika provinces took a detour through South Waziristan to re-enter Afghanistan via Zabul. Occasionally, Taleban insurgents use the Toba Kakar passes when infiltration through South Waziristan is difficult due to intensified vigilance by Pakistani and Afghan border guards.

Zabul provides access to the Afghan provinces of Ghazni, Oruzgan and Kandahar. There are few Afghan or foreign forces in the area, except on the highway that connects Qalat, the capital of Zabul, to Kandahar in the south-west, and Ghazni and Kabul in the north.

South Waziristan, Paktika

South Waziristan, a tribal district in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata), is the first significant sanctuary Islamic militants carved for themselves outside Afghanistan after 9/11. Militants driven by US troops from the Tora Bora region of Nangarhar province in late 2001, and later from the Shahikot mountains of Paktia in early 2002, poured into the main town, Wana, in their hundreds. They included Arabs, Central Asians, Chechens, Uighur Chinese, Afghans and Pakistanis. Some moved on to urban centres in Punjab and Sindh provinces. Others slipped back into Afghanistan or headed west to Quetta and onwards to Iran. But most stayed back and fought the Pakistani army during 2004-05.

The eastern half of South Waziristan is inhabited by the Mehsud tribe and the main militant commander here is Baitullah Mehsud. The western half, along the border with Afghanistan, is Ahmedzai Wazir territory where the chief commander is Maulvi Nazir. The Mehsuds only live on the Pakistani side, while the Wazirs inhabit both sides of the border.

These sanctuaries directly threaten Afghanistan’s Paktika province, where the US-led forces have a base in the Barmal region and several outposts along the border to counter infiltration. Pakistani security forces also man scores of border checkposts in the region.

However, infiltration has continued unabated and the number of hit-and-run attacks on foreign troops has been one of the highest in this region. Militants based in the region are known to have carried out strikes as far away as the Kandahar-Kabul highway.

North Waziristan, Paktia, Khost

The North Waziristan region is dominated by the Wazir tribe that also inhabits the adjoining Afghan provinces of Paktika and Khost. North and South Waziristan form the most lethal zone from where militants have been successfully destabilising not only Paktika and Khost, but other Afghan provinces such as Paktia, Ghazni, Wardak and Logar. Groups based in Waziristan region are known to have carried out some recent attacks in the Afghan capital, Kabul, as well.

Tribal identities are particularly strong in Paktika, Khost and Paktia. During the Taleban rule of 1997-2001, these provinces were ruled by their own tribal governors instead of the Kandahari Taleban who held power over the rest of the country. In the current phase of the fighting they coordinate with the militants in Kandahar and Helmand, but they have stuck with their own leadership that dates back to the war against the Soviets in 1980s.

The veteran Afghan militant Jalaluddin Haqqani is based in North Waziristan. He has wielded considerable influence over the top commanders in South and North Waziristan. He is also reported to have maintained links with sections of the Pakistani security establishment and is known to have mediated peace deals between the Pakistani government and the Wazir and Mehsud commanders in the region. Mr Haqqani is now an old man, and his son Sirajuddin has taken over most of his work.

There are many Arab and other foreign fighters in North and South Waziristan. This is due to Jalaluddin Haqqani’s close links with the al-Qaeda leadership. He married an Arab woman in the 1980s.

In view of the sensitivity of Waziristan region, US-led forces have set up a large base in Khost from where they conduct operations not only along the Waziristan region to the south but also in parts of the border region in Paktia and Nangarhar provinces to the north.

Kurram, Khyber, Nangarhar

As the Pakistani military strategists who organised Afghan guerillas against the Soviets in the ’80s discovered to their delight, Kurram is the best location along the entire Pakistan-Afghanistan border to put pressure on the Afghan capital, Kabul, which is just 90km away. But because the region is inhabited by a Shia tribe that opposes the Taleban for religious reasons, the Taleban have not been able to get a foothold here. Analysts say this is the main reason why the Taleban have taken so long to improve their strength in areas around Kabul, such as Logar and Wardak.

Some militant groups in the Khyber tribal district have carried out attacks on foreign and Afghan troops in Nangarhar province. But the Pakistani government has kept a close watch on them. One reason may be to curb the ability of these groups to block the highway through Khyber which serves as the main conduit for supplies to international forces in Afghanistan that come via the Pakistani port of Karachi.

Mohmand, Bajaur, Kunar

Analysts have long suspected Pakistan’s Bajaur tribal region to be the hiding place of Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri and other top al-Qaeda leaders. The Mohmand and Bajaur tribal districts are also believed to be the stronghold of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, one of the main Afghan guerrilla leaders of the 1980s. Mr Hekmatyar fought the Taleban in 1990s, but after 9/11 started working with them. The actual extent of cooperation is not known. The groups in Mohmand and Bajaur are members of an umbrella organisation which is headed by South Waziristan’s Baitullah Mehsud known as the Tehreek-e-Taleban (Pakistan Taleban).

Militants based in Mohmand and Bajaur have been striking at installations and supply lines of international forces based in the Narai region of Afghanistan’s Kunar province. In recent months, they are also reported to have crossed the Hindu Kush foothills to carry out attacks on foreign troops in the Sarobi, Tagab and Nejrab areas around Kabul.

Oruzgan, Ghazni, Wardak, Logar

For a long time the Taleban were unable to maintain sustained pressure on the country’s south-central highlands. But with safe sanctuaries in the border region – from the Baramcha area of Helmand province in the south, to some parts of Pakistani Balochistan, the Waziristan country and Bajaur-Mohmand territory to the east – the Taleban finally have the capacity to challenge the government in this region. The roads in Ghazni and Oruzgan are not as safe as they were a couple of years ago and officials are losing the will to maintain the government’s authority.

Training camps run by al-Qaeda and Taleban groups have multiplied in secure border regions over the last few years. Safe havens have also afforded the militants endless opportunities to find new recruits. The Waziristan region is also known to be a haven for young suicide bombers and trained in remote camps. The Taleban also appear to have had access to sophisticated military equipment and professionally drawn-up battle plans.

The strategy appears to be the same as in 1980s – ‘death by a thousand cuts’. Sporadic attacks on the security forces and the police have grown more frequent over the years, and have also crept closer to Kabul. At the same time, the Taleban have destroyed most of the education infrastructure in the countryside, a vital link between the central government and the isolated agrarian citizenry.

Oruzgan has mostly come under pressure from groups in Kandahar and Helmand. These groups, as well as those based in the Waziristan-Paktika-Khost region, have also moved up the highway via Ghazni to infiltrate Wardak on the left and Logar on the right. Safe and quiet until less than two years ago, both these provinces are now said to be increasingly infiltrated by Taleban fighters. The same is true of militants putting pressure on Kabul from Sarobi and Tagab in the east, with their tentacles stretching back to Laghman, Kunar and Bajaur.

Swat

A former princely state, Swat, in northern Pakistan, was governed by a British era law which a court declared unconstitutional in early 1990s, triggering a violent campaign for the introduction of Islamic law in the district.

The insurgency was effectively put down in 1994, but it re-emerged after 9/11, and was joined by many battle-hardened militants from Waziristan, Bajaur and the neighbouring district of Dir. During a 10-month long operation that still continues, the security forces have disrupted the infrastructure of the militants but is still to clear them out of the area. The militants have been targeting the security forces, the police, secular politicians and government-run schools.

‘US missiles’ hit Pakistan school

Map

Missiles thought to have been fired by the US have killed at least eight students of a religious school in north-western Pakistan, witnesses say.

The school, in North Waziristan, is close to the residence of a fugitive Taleban leader, Jalaluddin Haqqani, witnesses told the BBC Urdu Service.

At least two missiles, reportedly fired by pilotless US drones, hit the school early on Thursday.

The Pakistani army is investigating the incident. The US has made no comment.

The latest missile attack comes hours after the Pakistani parliament unanimously adopted a resolution calling on the government to defend its sovereignty and expel foreign fighters from the region.

The resolution also called upon the government to prevent the use of Pakistani territory for attacks on another country.

Growing tension

Witnesses told the BBC that the missiles destroyed nearly half of the school building in the Dande Darpakhel area near Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan.

At least six people were injured in the attack. It is still not clear whether there were any foreign fighters among the dead students.

Local people have said that most of the injured were local students at the seminary.

The residential complex of Jalaluddin Haqqani had been targeted by a previous missile attack, in which more than 10 people had been killed or injured.

North Waziristan is known as a haven for Taleban and al-Qaeda fighters seeking sanctuary from fighting in Afghanistan.

Foreign fighters from Uzbekistan, Afghanistan and the Middle East are all thought to be based there.

Pakistani troops in the Khyber region

Tensions in the border region are rising

In recent weeks the United States has launched several missile strikes against suspected militant targets in the Afghan border region.

Washington says the strikes are used against militant targets, correspondents say that intelligence failures have sometimes led to civilian casualties.

Figures compiled by the BBC Urdu service show that some 80 people have been killed in a number of suspected US missile strikes in South and North Waziristan region over the past month.

Earlier in October a suspected pilotless American drone fired missiles in North Waziristan, killing at least six people, Pakistani intelligence officials said.

The United States rarely confirms or denies such attacks.

Tensions between the US and Pakistan have increased over the issue of cross-border incursions against militants by American forces based in Afghanistan.

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari has said he will not tolerate violations of his country’s territory.

The US state department has affirmed “its support for Pakistan’s sovereignty, independence, unity, and territorial integrity”.

Israeli Revealed as owner of South Sudan bound weapons ship

The mystery of MV Faina hijacked in Somalia unveiled by BBC

Israeli Revealed as owner of South Sudan bound weapons ship

The Government of South Sudan denies links with Israel and illicit weapons trade
The Government of South Sudan denies links with Israel and illicit weapons trade

Registration documents gathered by BBC included the confirmation that the ship hijacked by Somalia pirates belonged to a Jewish investor residing in the self proclaimed state of Israel, and not a Ukrainian ship.
More information reveal the reported Ukrainian owner company by the name of Tomax Team as nothing but a mere operator based in the Ukraine, employing crews from Ukraine and Latvia. The crisis surrounding the destination of its cargo were further resolved when transportation codes with “GOSS” (an acronym for Government of South Sudan) were found amongst the documentations to solve

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the deepening mystery.

The Israel based owner Vadim Alperin was further investigated to have acquired this ship from a Russian state auction during the era of Boris Yeltsin. The ship was refurbished and later conveniently registered to fly the Belize flag. Other ships by the same owner where found to be operating as casinos including one based in the Gulf to entertain rich Arab clients.

Vadim Alperin was once quoted to be a “Mossad brother” running a number of clandestine front companies including one Kenyan Meat export company enjoying “good trade” with middle eastern countries covertly used for gathering intelligence from countries such as Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

Kenya maintains weapons were legally purchased by its army, although its own government is now mired in a web of embarrassments as weapons procurement of this size has not been declared despite being a member of United Nations weapons transparency programme UNROCA.

For many years, the Khartoum based Sudan government accused Israel of supplying arms and providing training to South Sudan rebels. Kenya is now proofed to be providing the logistical support for arms shipment to South Sudan, a role similar to Chad’s support given to Darfur rebels which has caused the two countries to be in a state of war against each other.

Israel once supplied illicit weapons to South Sudan from within Ethiopia’s territory, but had lost influence since the Eritrean independence. As relations between Eritrea and Ethiopia had soured, it became impossible to continue this route and sought other alternative routes to get to its Uganda weapons storage for South Sudan militias through Kenyan territories.

It is extremely rare for ships to be registered to indivitual investors such as Mr Alperin.

Police prepare for unrest

Are Police preparing for Election day unrest,

OR MAKING SUBLIMINAL SUGGESTIONS FOR THE

WAITING ANARCHISTS?

By Alexander Bolton

Police departments in cities across the country are beefing up their ranks for Election Day, preparing for possible civil unrest and riots after the historic presidential contest.

Public safety officials said in interviews with The Hill that the election, which will end with either the nation’s first black president or its first female vice president, demanded a stronger police presence.

Some worry that if Barack Obama loses and there is suspicion of foul play in the election, violence could ensue in cities with large black populations. Others based the need for enhanced patrols on past riots in urban areas (following professional sports events) and also on Internet rumors.
Democratic strategists and advocates for black voters say they understand officers wanting to keep the peace, but caution that excessive police presence could intimidate voters.

Sen. Obama (Ill.), the Democratic nominee for president, has seen his lead over rival Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) grow in recent weeks, prompting speculation that there could be a violent backlash if he loses unexpectedly.

Cities that have suffered unrest before, such as Detroit, Chicago, Oakland and Philadelphia, will have extra police deployed.

In Oakland, the police will deploy extra units trained in riot control, as well as extra traffic police, and even put SWAT teams on standby.

“Are we anticipating it will be a riot situation? No. But will we be prepared if it goes awry? Yes,” said Jeff Thomason, spokesman for the Oakland Police Department.

“I think it is a big deal — you got an African-American running and [a] woman running,” he added, in reference to Obama and GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin. “Whoever wins it, it will be a national event. We will have more officers on the street in anticipation that things may go south.”

The Oakland police last faced big riots in 2003 when the Raiders lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Super Bowl. Officials are bracing themselves in case residents of Oakland take Obama’s loss badly.

Political observers such as Hilary Shelton and James Carville fear that record voter turnout could overload polling places on Election Day and could raise tension levels.

Shelton, the director of the NAACP’s Washington bureau, said inadequate voting facilities is a bigger problem in poor communities with large numbers of minorities.

“What are local election officials doing to prepare for what people think will be record turnout at the polls?” said Shelton, who added that during the 2004 election in Ohio voters in predominantly black communities had to wait in line six to eight hours to vote.

“On Election Day, if this continues, you may have some tempers flare; we should be prepared to deal with that but do it without intimidation,” said Shelton, who added that police have to be able to maintain order at polling stations without scaring voters, especially immigrants from “police states.”