Simon Johnson, a former chief economist at the IMF and James Kwak, a former consultant for Mckinsey & Company, have written a book detailing a number of financial institutions and bankers whom they believe control Washingtons monetary policies. They argue banks should have limited assets and not receive federal bailouts because it encourages the too big to fail mentality. RT Correspondent Anastasia Churkina is live in New York to discuss the book.
~ See also: MIT’s Simon Johnson discusses new book '3 Bankers' ~
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
When Charlie Company's Lt. William Calley ordered and encouraged his men to rape, maim and slaughter over 400 men, women and children in My Lai in Vietnam back in 1968, there were at least four heroes who tried to stop him or bring him and higher officers to justice. One was helicopter pilot Hugh Thompson Jr., who evacuated some of the wounded victims, and who set his chopper down between a group of Vietnamese and Calley's men, ordering his door gunner to open fire on the US soldiers if they shot any more people. One was Ron Ridenhour, a soldier who learned of the massacre and began a private investigation, ultimately reporting the crime to the Pentagon and Congress. One was Michael Bernhardt, a soldier in Charlie Company, who witnessed the whole thing and reported it all to Ridenhour. And one was journalist Seymour Hersh, who broke the story in the US media.
Today's war in Afghanistan also has its My Lai massacres. It has them almost weekly, as US warplanes bomb wedding parties or homes "suspected" of housing terrorists that turn out to house nothing but civilians. But these My Lais are all conveniently labeled accidents. They get filed away and forgotten as the inevitable "collateral damage" of war. There was, however, a massacre recently that was not a mistake - a massacre, which, while it only involved fewer than a dozen innocent people, bears the same stench as My Lai. It was the execution-style slaying of eight handcuffed students, aged 11-18, and a 12-year-old neighboring shepherd boy who had been visiting the others in Kunar Province on December 26.
Sadly, no principled soldier with a conscience like pilot Thompson tried to save these children. No observer had the guts of a Bernhardt to report what he had seen. No Ridenhour among the other serving US troops in Afghanistan has investigated this atrocity or reported it to Congress. And no American reporter has investigated this war crime the way Hersh investigated My Lai.
There is a Hersh for the Kunar massacre, but he's a Brit. While American reporters, like the anonymous journalistic drones who wrote "CNN's" December 29 report on the incident took the Pentagon's initial cover story - that the dead were part of a secret bomb squad - at face value, Jerome Starkey, a dogged reporter in Afghanistan working for the Times of London and the Scotsman, talked to other sources - the dead boys' headmaster, other townspeople and Afghan government officials - and found out the real truth about a gruesome war crime - the execution of handcuffed children. And while a few news outlets in the US like The New York Times did mention that there were some claims that the dead were children, not bomb makers, none, including CNN, which had bought and run the Pentagon's lies unquestioningly, bothered to print the news update when, on February 24, the US military admitted that in fact the dead were innocent students. Nor has any US corporate news organization mentioned that the dead had been handcuffed when they were shot. Starkey reported the US government's damning admission. Yet still the US media remain silent as the grave.
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By Alexander Barentsev, Global Research
A drug trafficking campaign is being conducted against Russia on a broad scale affecting all spheres of its political, social and economic life. Kyrgyzstan plays an important role in this campaign. There are ten main routes of heroin traffic from Afghanistan (occupied by the US forces) with six of them crossing the Kyrgyz city of Osh, an important hub of Afghan drug traffic.
[ ... ]
Since 2008 the number of Kyrgyz citizens, detained on Russian territory for illegal sales of drugs has increased. In early 2009 alone, almost five tons of drugs were confiscated, including 480 kg of heroin and 2680 kg of hashish. The detainees were mainly Kyrgyz citizens and ethnic Kazakhs who carried Russian passports. According to the Deputy Director of the Agency for Drug Control of Kyrgyzstan Vitali Orozaliev, drug traffic via Kyrgyzstan is constantly growing and in 2009 it doubled on the previous year.
"Drug dealers have huge financial resources, - Orzaliev says, - and they receive detailed information from corrupt law enforcement agency officials about forthcoming operations against them". The average salary of an anti-narcotic agency officer in Kyrgyzstan is $150, and if drug dealers offer them $50,000-100,000 for his cooperation, this deal will be hard to refuse”, Orzoliyev stresses. He adds that drug trafficking is a very profitable business. If in Afghanistan a kilo of heroin is available at $1,200-1,300, in Kyrgyzstan the price rises to $4,000-5,000 per kg, while in Russia it shoots up to $45,000 per kg.
“We are witnessing a merger of the drug business with law enforcement agencies”, - Erik Iriskulbekov, an expert with Kyrgyzstan's NGO Adilet, says. Even if a criminal is caught in the act, they will not necessarily be brought to responsibility. Very often judges or medical experts rule such offenders to be mentally ill, so the latter escape punishment.
And now – attention, please!
On April 1, 2010, during a special operation in the city of Osh to detain a drug suspect, the agents of the Kyrgyz Interior Ministry confiscated more than 160 packages of Afghan hashish (about 107, 8 kg) and 24.4 kg of heroin. That was a serious blow to the drug mafia, so a few days later, on the night of April 6th, the country saw a people's uprising, and a coup. A government of national confidence seized power as a result, pledging Washington to retain the US military base Manas in Kyrgyzstan.
Kyrgyzstan has long since been prominent on the geopolitical agenda of the United States and its allies.
According to the CIA, Kyrgyzstan is a small, poor country in the mountains with an emphasis on agriculture. Cotton, wool, meat are the main agricultural products and exports. But the country also has hydropower resources, deposits of gold and rare-earth metals; local deposits of coal, oil and gas, mercury, lead, zinc, bismuth, nephelite. The CIA points out in a report the circulation of illegal drugs in Kyrgyzstan, local opium poppy and hashish production mainly for the consumption within the country and in the CIS countries. The report also mentions that the government has launched a minor-scale programme to root out the drug crops; the use of Kyrgyzstan as a drug traffic transfer point to ship drugs to Russia and Western Europe from South West Asia.
According to the Western media, people's anger on the night of April 6th of 2010 was sparked off by an increase in gas and water tariffs, arrests of the opposition leaders, corruption and the clan system, and general authoritarianism. But no mention was ever made of the drug business!
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Erwin Schrodinger called it the "defining trait" of quantum theory. Einstein could not bring himself to believe in it at all, thinking it proof that quantum theory was seriously buggy. It is entanglement: the idea that particles can be linked in such a way that changing the quantum state of one instantaneously affects the other, even if they are light years apart.
This "spooky action at a distance", in Einstein's words, is a serious blow to our conception of how the world works. In 1964, physicist John Bell of the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva, Switzerland, showed just how serious. He calculated a mathematical inequality that encapsulated the maximum correlation between the states of remote particles in experiments in which three "reasonable" conditions hold: that experimenters have free will in setting things up as they want; that the particle properties being measured are real and pre-existing, not just popping up at the time of measurement; and that no influence travels faster than the speed of light, the cosmic speed limit.
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In Olive Growers' Claims Prompt Investigation, Stephen Castle writes:
The story of the miracle harvest turned up on an application for European agricultural subsidies that surfaced in 2007; officials determined the amount requested was well in excess of what the farmers could conceivably have been entitled to. But something disturbed investigators more than the simple size of the claim: It was filed not by the hard-pressed growers themselves, but by the leaders of their agricultural co-operative — one of thousands of locally powerful, politically connected producers' associations across Europe.Writing in a report about several scams involving two Portuguese banana co-ops two years ago, the European Union's fraud investigative agency, known as OLAF, said it had found “that this pattern of abuse by some producer organizations was a problem throughout” the bloc.
In poor, remote areas of Southern Europe, evidence is emerging that what happened in Crete — where the European Union is demanding a refund of nearly €375,000, or about $540,000, paid to the collective that operates around Vamos — is not a minor aberration but a symptom of a broader problem involving co-ops.
Investigators believe that tens of millions of euros may have been lost in the few cases they have investigated — which they say are just a snapshot of the wider picture. They are currently looking into four new cases, while five have been completed.
Writing in a report about several scams involving two Portuguese banana co-ops two years ago, the European Union's fraud investigative agency, known as OLAF, said it had found “that this pattern of abuse by some producer organizations was a problem throughout” the bloc.
The story appears accurate enough but, perhaps deliberately, does not mention that private enterprise is guilty of the same fraud as lowly agricultural co-ops (a longtime target of the State Department). As always, we only see the news that fits.
Nova Scotia activists are expressing surprise that former US president Bill Clinton has apologized for flooding Haiti with cheap American rice beginning in the mid 1990s. During testimony before a US Senate committee last month, Clinton admitted that requiring Haiti to lower its tariffs on rice imports made it impossible for Haitian farmers to compete in their domestic economy. The trade policy forced farmers off land and undercut Haiti's ability to feed itself.
“It may have been good for some of my farmers in Arkansas, but it has not worked. It was a mistake,” Clinton—now a UN special envoy to Haiti—told the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee March 10. “I had to live everyday with the consequences of the loss of capacity to produce a rice crop in Haiti to feed those people because of what I did; nobody else.”
“I would like to believe that Clinton has had a change of heart,” wrote Heidi Verheul of the Halifax Peace Coalition in an e-mail. “But he actually needs to do something to challenge the free market shock doctrine economic policies that are being designed to further subjugate and impoverish Haiti,” she added. “The policies of aid and development in Haiti have continuously served to undermine democracy [and] local economies, and have driven tens of thousands of people from their land, enslaved them in sweatshops, makeshift homes, and absolute grinding, miserable poverty.”
Clinton's apology attracted scant media attention in the US and none in Canada. It was included as part of an Associated Press news agency report that was published March 20 by the Washington Post. The AP report from Haiti's earthquake-ravaged capital, Port au Prince, suggests world leaders are reconsidering trade and aid policies that make poor countries dependent on rich ones. It quotes UN aid official John Holmes as saying that poor countries, like Haiti, need to become more self-sufficient by rebuilding their own food production.
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