• All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out.

  • I.F. Stone

zaterdag 19 januari 2008

Het Neoliberale Geloof 88


'Deep problems plague U.S. economy, stimulus plans notwithstanding
By Kevin G. Hall McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON — The economic growth package being prepared by President Bush and Congress may help ease the sting of an economic downturn or soften the blow of a recession, but it won't fix the deeper structural problems that are menacing the economy.
That's because the U.S. economy has rarely faced such a combination of challenges all at the same time.
First, the economy is mired in what arguably is the worst housing slump since the Great Depression.
Just last August, President Bush told economic reporters that he saw a "soft landing" for the housing sector. On Friday, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson offered this grimmer view: "This market needs to correct. We've had unsustainable growth for some period of time. We're not trying to prolong that — it needs to correct."
New housing starts in 2007 fell 24.8 percent to their lowest level since 1980; building permits fell 25.2 percent. Median home prices in hard-hit California fell more than 15 percent last year, and no one's quite sure where the bottom is there or in the other troubled states such as Florida and Nevada.
Related problems in housing finance have spilled over, infecting the broader credit markets and roiling Wall Street. Because investment banks packaged mortgages into special bonds sold to investors, they're taking it on the chin now that the housing market is sinking.
Mammoth investment banks Citigroup and Merrill Lynch this month respectively announced fourth-quarter losses of $10 billion and $9.8 billion, respectively, and write-downs of $18.1 billion and $11.5 billion for bad bets made on mortgage-related bonds.
Now, the other shoe may be dropping.
Fears are mounting that insurance companies, which issued policies to protect Wall Street firms from losses on those mortgage bonds, don't have enough money to pay up. The foundation on which housing finance rests is becoming ever more unstable.
If that weren't enough, oil prices flirted with all-time highs this month, and inflation, which erodes the earning power of an American paycheck, remains a hair away from being problematic.
The U.S. economy is resilient and has withstood tremendous headwinds. But many mainstream economists, including former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, now believe that the chances of recession are 50 percent or better.'

Martelen 91


'Tom Ridge: Waterboarding Is Torture
By Eileen Sullivan The Associated Press
Washington - The first secretary of the Homeland Security Department says waterboarding is torture.
"There's just no doubt in my mind - under any set of rules - waterboarding is torture," Tom Ridge said Friday in an interview with the Associated Press. Ridge had offered the same opinion earlier in the day to members of the American Bar Association at a homeland security conference.
"One of America's greatest strengths is the soft power of our value system and how we treat prisoners of war, and we don't torture," Ridge said in the interview. Ridge was secretary of the Homeland Security Department between 2003 and 2005. "And I believe, unlike others in the administration, that waterboarding was, is - and will always be - torture. That's a simple statement."
Waterboarding is a harsh interrogation tactic that was used by CIA officers in 2002 and 2003 on three alleged al-Qaida terrorists. The tactic gives the subject the sensation of drowning.
The CIA has not used the technique since 2003, and CIA Director Michael Hayden prohibited it in 2006, according to U.S. officials. The debate was recently revived when the CIA revealed it had destroyed videotapes showing the interrogations of two alleged terrorists, both of whom were waterboarded.
Ridge's comments come a week after a report that Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell said he would consider waterboarding torture if it were used against him.
In a separate interview with The Associated Press on Thursday, the current Homeland Security secretary, Michael Chertoff, refused to say what he thinks of the interrogation technique. Chertoff, a former federal prosecutor and judge - who was also assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's Criminal Division in 2002 - said the question should be asked in the context of a specific set of facts and a specific statute and should not be posed abstractly.
"This is too important a discussion to have based on throwing one question at somebody," Chertoff said.
Attorney General Michael Mukasey has declined so far to rule on whether waterboarding constitutes torture. An affirmative finding by Mukasey could put at risk the CIA interrogators who were authorized by the White House in 2002 to waterboard three prisoners deemed resistant to conventional techniques.
Ridge, homeland security adviser and then secretary from 2001 to 2005, said he was not involved in the discussions about CIA interrogation techniques. Rather, his department was a consumer of any intelligence gleaned from them.'

Het Neoliberale Geloof 87


'WARNING SIGNS
U.S. economy teeters on the brink
Bush, Bernanke endorse $100-billion package in effort to prevent recession as housing mess hammers banks, consumers and investors
BARRIE MCKENNA

WASHINGTON -- In a bid to save the world's largest economy from recession, U.S. President George W. Bush and central bank chief Ben Bernanke yesterday endorsed a $100-billion stimulus package as the spreading housing mess continued to hammer banks, consumers and investors.
The rare plug for fiscal action comes as a growing number of economists say the United States is either in recession or perilously close to it. "The United States has now effectively entered into a serious and painful recession," said economist Nouriel Roubini of New York University.
Prof. Roubini said all of the keys to economic health are headed in the wrong direction, including the housing market, credit availability, the job market and business spending. Add to that a run-up in oil and gas prices, and the consumer is likely to take it on the chin in 2008, he said.
Another major Wall Street investment bank acknowledged yesterday that it vastly underestimated the cost of its misadventures in the subprime mortgage market. Merrill Lynch & Co. - the world's largest stockbroker and one of the major backers of mortgage bonds - reported the worst quarter in its history, losing $9.8-billion (U.S.) in the final three months of last year and wiping more than $16-billion worth of bad loans off its books. That raises Merrill's housing-related losses to nearly $24-billion in 2007.
And the U.S. housing slump apparently isn't over. Builders broke ground on new homes at an annual rate of a million homes in December - the lowest level since 1991 and a 14.2-per-cent drop from November, according to U.S. data released yesterday.
Since the start of the year, a sense of gloom has taken hold on Wall Street amid worries that the housing slump is infecting the broader economy. In the past couple of weeks alone, stocks have quickly shed virtually all of last year's gains. Spooked by the hefty Merrill Lynch loss, investors sent the blue-chip Dow Jones industrial average down 306.95, or 2.46 per cent, to finish the day at 12,159.21.'


vrijdag 18 januari 2008

Het Neoliberale Geloof 86


Let u eens op hoe de Sjors's en Sjimmie's van de financiele redacties in Nederland de zaak belichten, het lijken wel sportverslaggevers. Het echte verhaal van doping en corruptie kan natuurlijk niet verteld worden, dan vliegen ze eruit, maar het gevolg is wel dat hun verhalen steeds absurder worden.
'As Wall Street Posts Sharp Losses, Washington Promotes “Stimulus Package”

18 January, 2008

With major Wall Street finance houses posting tens of billions of dollars in new losses, housing starts declining 30 percent compared to last year, retail sales plunging and unemployment climbing to 5 percent—a two year high—the Bush White House, the Democratic congressional leadership and the Federal Reserve Board chairman all signaled Thursday their support for the passage of an economic stimulation package.

The call for enacting measures to boost the economy came as stocks plunged for the third straight day, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average falling 306.95 points, or 2.5 percent, and the technology-centered Nasdaq composite index down by 2 percent.

The latest market decline brings total losses for the S&P 500—the benchmark list of large publicly traded US corporations—to 9.2 percent since just the beginning of this year.

Analysts attributed the market’s plunge to fresh indications that the US economy is sinking into recession and the growing conviction that the government is powerless to stop it.

A report issued by the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank Thursday showed factory production in the region contracting far more sharply than anticipated. The study’s manufacturing index fell by 20.9 percent—compared to a 1.6 percent fall-off the previous month—hitting the lowest level since October 2001.

The Philly Fed report has served as a barometer of manufacturing activity nationwide, and financial analysts saw the figures as the clearest signal yet that the US is on the brink of or already in recession and that the tightening credit squeeze is spreading beyond the beleaguered housing market to the core of the US economy.

Also fueling the sell-off was the congressional testimony of Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke Thursday. Appearing before a House budget panel, Bernanke delivered a largely boilerplate assessment of the economy, acknowledging slower growth while insisting that the Fed was not forecasting recession. He also assured lawmakers that the Fed would not “ignore” inflation, responding to a Labor Department report this week revealing that wholesale prices shot up 6.3 percent in January, the biggest increase in 27 years.'

The Empire 339

'TV Shows Dramatic Decline In U.S. Economy
By Media Tenor.

Media Tenor analysis of ABC, NBC and CBS news reveals a sharp increase in negative economic reports. Meanwhile, little attention is given to presidential candidates’ economic platforms.
TV shows a dramatic decline of the U.S. economy
Coverage of economic issues was negative throughout all of 2007. In January almost four out of five reports on the economic development were negative. At the same time coverage of the economic development got more coverage than in December.'

Zie: http://www.mediachannel.org/wordpress/2008/01/18/tv-shows-dramatic-decline-in-us-economy/

The Empire 338

'The Peak Oil Crisis: We Are Starting To Dim.

Written by Tom Whipple

While waiting to see how the contest between a demand-killing recession and shrinking oil stockpiles plays out, it might be worthwhile to spend a little time reviewing the world’s electricity situation. If there is any form of energy that would be sorely missed by people who had once had it, electricity would be it.
Private cars we could do without, but not our lights and appliances. Most of us here in America have been blessed to have an unlimited amount of electricity for all of our adult lives. There are very few left who can remember a time when it was not universally available.
Although it has received scant coverage in the U.S. media, in many parts of the world, the electric grids are shutting down for long periods each day. In a few places the electricity is now off most of the time. Some of this is due to droughts which have reduced the hydroelectric generating capacity in many parts of the world. Some is due to the price of oil which has simply become too expensive to use in thermoelectric generating stations and in a few places the electricity is out or has been greatly reduced because of civil strife. Iraq, Nigeria, Gaza and Pakistan are the most prominent instances of the latter. Even the climate has contributed to the problem as a wave of unusually cold weather has enveloped the Middle East, Central Asia and Siberia, forcing many to use electric heat as their only means of survival.
Currently, there is some form of power shortage starting in southern China and ranging south to Vietnam and then westward across the subcontinent to Africa. Parts of Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, and many places in central and southern Africa have reported shortages. These range from minor inconveniences to cities where the economy is close to shutting down. Problems have been reported in Central and South America and nearly everywhere where oil-fired power plants are used to generate electricity.
Thus far the developed countries have largely avoided problems due to better electrical infrastructures, domestic fuel supplies, or the ability to pay whatever it costs to obtain the necessary fuel. In effect, the rich have outbid the poor who are now suffering the consequences.
The key question is where is all this going? Are these shortages temporary or is the age of electricity, the way it is currently being generated, over for much of the world? The future of the droughts which are reducing much of the world’s food production as well as hydroelectric production is unknowable. In theory increasing temperatures should increase evaporation and produce more rain, but whether this will happen in the right place at the right time cannot be foreseen.
What we do know is that mountain glaciers are disappearing rapidly. To the extent that melt water contributes to hydroelectric potential, particularly in China, and the subcontinent, we can safely say this resource for generating hydroelectricity will diminish steadily in coming years.
From a peak oil perspective, electricity generated by oil and natural gas does not have a future. Already high oil prices are making petroleum products too expensive for electricity generation in much of the world. The substantial increase in the price of petroleum which is bound to come in the next five to ten years will almost certainly reduce or nearly eliminate the use of oil-fired power stations in places without a domestic source of petroleum.
Currently the use of small generators to replace power from national grids is sweeping the underdeveloped world. Businesses using computers simply cannot function without electricity. In many of the world’s largest cities there is an unbearable racket as these un-muffled devices have replaced national grids as the reliable source of power for much of the day. In addition to the noise, the downside of small generators is their high operating costs for they are a very inefficient way to produce electricity. As prices rise and oil shortages grow only the most affluent business and individuals will be able to afford them.
At the root of the electricity problem is the growth of the world’s population and economy. The earth’s population is currently increasing by about 77 million people a year. Throw in a pretty good world economic growth rate and you can see where the problem is coming from.'

Geert Wilders 4

Geruime tijd al is Geert Wilders een absolute fan van de wijze waarop Israel opponenten aanpakt. Nu eens kijken hoe lang de pro-Israel lobby in Nederland nog blij is met deze fan. Vooral wanneer de grote concerns gaan klagen zodra de praatjes van Wilders geld kosten en niet Israel wordt geboycot, maar Nederland. Nederlandse politici willen Israel best wel steunen en zijn ook best wel tolerant en ze willen best wel met een papieren keppeltje naar de Klaagmuur, maar het moet allemaal natuurlijk niet al teveel gaan kosten. We blijven een handelsnatie met de daaraan verboden mentaliteit. Dat bleek ook tijdens de Tweede Wereldoorlog toen hier procentueel meer joden werden gedeporteerd dan in welk West-Europees land dan ook.
'Wilders in Israel: Sluit ze op, zonder proces
Gepubliceerd op woensdag 19 oktober 2005
- COLUMN -
Geert Wilders is in Israël. Hij is hier om een Israëlische arrestatiemethode te bestuderen. De “administratieve detentie”. Wilders vindt het namelijk belachelijk dat moslimextremisten in Nederland vaak binnen no-time weer op straat staan. En een gevaar blijven vormen voor de samenleving.
In Israël doen ze dat beter, zegt hij: daar stoppen ze verdachten zonder proces voor langere tijd achter de tralies. Wilders is er zo enthousiast over, dat hij er in Nederland een wetsvoorstel van wil maken. Dat “administratieve detentie” hier tot excessen en het uitgebreid schenden van de mensenrechten leidt, is iets waar de goede man zich liever niet in verdiept.
Op dit moment zitten meer dan zeshonderd Palestijnen in “administratieve detentie.” Elke dag komen daar weer nieuwen bij. Ze worden zonder opgaaf van reden opgepakt en vastgezet. De hechtenis is in eerste instantie bedoeld voor maximaal zes maanden. Dan moeten de verdachten weer worden voorgeleid. Maar in de praktijk leidt de evaluatie van de rechter zelden tot vrijlating. In de meeste gevallen krijgen de gevangenen er zelfs zonder meer weer een verlenging van zes maanden bij. Veel Palestijnen zitten zo al jaren zonder enige vorm van proces vast.Onderonsje“Administratieve detentie schendt het recht op een eerlijk proces,” zegt Yecheskel Lein. Lein is onder zoeker voor de Israëlische mensenrechtenorganisatie B’Tselem. Hij maakt zich vooral druk om het gebrek aan openheid. Bij administratieve detentie is de bewijslast namelijk meestal geheim. Alleen de aanklager en de rechter mogen weten waar iemand van wordt beschuldigd. De advocaat en beschuldigde niet.
De geheime dienst, die meestal de aanklager is, claimt dat die informatie te gevoelig is voor publicatie. In realiteit krijg je zo een monstrueuze situatie, waarin de veiligheidsdienst de rechter van alles kan opspelden. Eerlijke rechtspraak wordt door dit onderonsje totaal onmogelijk.
Waarom wordt bewijslast achter gesloten deuren gehouden? Omdat die in realiteit meestal niet voldoende is voor gevangenisstraf. Lein: “Vaak gaat het niet eens om terroristen. In veel gevallen gebruikt Israel de administratieve detentie omdat ze Palestijnen willen pesten,” legt hij uit. Lidmaatschap van een Palestijnse organisatie is vaak al genoeg om opgepakt te worden. “Administratieve detentie wordt zo een substituut voor gewoon crimineel recht, en dat is illegaal,” zegt Lein.'
Zie ook Geert Wilders en de volgens Haaretz pro-Zionistische lobbygroep het CIDI, voor wie de Volkskrant-correspondent in Israel, Alex Burghoorn, optreedt:
1:
CIDI : Israel Nieuwsbrief - 2003 nummer 12 - 2 juli juli 2003 Wilders wil anti-terrorismecongres VVD Tweede-Kamerlid Geert Wilders wil direct na het reces van de Tweede Kamer (laatste week augustus) het voorstel doen http://www.cidi.nl/isnbr/2003/hoofd4-1203.html
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2:
CIDI : Israel Nieuwsbrief - 2000 nummer 13 - 14 september 14 september 2000 Geert Wilders: Mensenrechten Iran verslechteren Nederland heeft de afgelopen maanden het proces tegen de tien in Iran gevangen zittende Joden zeer http://www.cidi.nl/isnbr/2000/hoofd3-1300.html
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3:
CIDI : Israel Nieuwsbrief - 2002 nummer 19 - 4 december Hoop Scheffer: Egyptische tv-serie niet antisemitisch In zijn antwoord op kamervragen van Geert Wilders (VVD) over de Arabische televisieserie ?Ruiter zonder Paard? http://www.cidi.nl/isnbr/2002/hoofd3-1902.html
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4:
CIDI : Israel Nieuwsbrief - 2007 nummer 7 - 22 juni Jordaanoever. Bijna alle fracties waren op deze oriëntatiereis vertegenwoordigd. Geert Wilders (PVV) bleef weg, nadat een delegatie uit de Kamer hem gevraagd zich http://www.cidi.nl/isnbr/2007/comm-0807.html
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5:
CIDI : CIDI in de media door Ronny Naftaniel Met open ogen is minister Plasterk in de provocatie van PVV-voorman Geert Wilders getrapt. Wilders stelde onlangs voor de Koran te verbieden, http://www.cidi.nl/media/2007/bd.140907.html
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6:
CIDI : Nieuws - 07-01-2003 bezig', tijdens haar bezoek aan Isra?l en de Palestijnse gebieden. Dat heeft VVD-kamerlid Geert Wilders gezegd tijdens een toespraak tot een joodse organisatie in http://www.cidi.nl/news/2003/070103d.html
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7:
CIDI : Israel Nieuwsbrief - 1999 nummer 6 - 31 maart bestaande uit fractievoorzitter Hans Dijkstal, de Kamerleden Frans Weisglas en Geert Wilders, en John Manheim, lid van de partijcommissie Buitenlandse Zaken van de http://www.cidi.nl/isnbr/1999/hoofd1-0699.html
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8:
CIDI : Israel Nieuwsbrief - 2004 nummer 1 - 16 januari Autoriteit verduisterde Europese hulpgelden. De motie werd ingediend door VVD-kamerlid Geert Wilders die bij de presentatie ervan zei: "Wij hebben een probleem met http://www.cidi.nl/isnbr/2004/hoofd1-0104.html
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CIDI : Nieuws - 04-12-2002 van de VVD verder en zal de Nederlandse gemeenschap in Israel worden aangedaan. Kamerlid Geert Wilders, de nummer veertien van de kandidatenlijst, gaat vermoedelijk http://www.cidi.nl/news/2002/041202d.html
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10:
CIDI : CIDI in de media moet haar 'gevaarlijke' uitspraken over de islam terugnemen of aftreden. Dat eist Kamerlid Geert Wilders (PVV) naar aanleiding van uitspraken van de minister in een http://www.cidi.nl/media/2007/dn.160707.html
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Het Neoliberale Geloof 85



'The Great Debt Crisis Begins
By Hale Stewart, Huffington Post
Posted on January 14, 2008,

Printed on January 17, 2008

There is growing talk on Wall Street about the possibility of a
recession. Since the beginning of the year three Wall Street firms
(Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs) have all stated
they believe we are either in a recession already or are very close
to a recession. In other words, it's no longer a matter of if a
recession happens but when it will happen and how long it will last.
In response to these developments, various presidential candidates
have proposed various solutions. However, none of these will work,
largely because this is not a typical slowdown caused solely by
slowing consumer spending or business investment. Instead, it is a
slowdown caused by inflated asset prices and a nation gorging on
debt. As a result, it will probably take a lot longer to come out
from under this problem.

A recent Los Angeles Times Article stated the basic problem thusly:

What makes bubbles so dangerous is that their consequences, when they
burst, are wider, often more damaging, and certainly more
unpredictable than those of ordinary downturns.

"We are more prone to bubbles than we used to be," said John H.
Makin, a former senior Treasury official with several Republican
administrations and now a scholar with the conservative American
Enterprise Institute in Washington.

"The old-fashioned recession, where the consumer ran out of gas or
there was an economic policy mistake, doesn't seem to occur much
anymore," said Alice M. Rivlin, a former vice chair of the Federal
Reserve and Clinton administration budget director. "As we've seen
from recent events, bubbles seem to be playing a bigger role."

The basic problem faced by the US economy right now is excessive debt
caused by recklessly low interest rates from the Federal Reserve.
Here is a chart from the St. Louis Federal Reserve of the effective
Federal Funds rate since 2000.'

Lees verder: http://www.alternet.org/story/73633/

State of the World


State of the World 2008: Innovations for a Sustainable Economy
January 2008ISBN 13: 978-0-393-33031-1

Paperback288 pages

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Seeding the Sustainable Economy
Gary Gardner and Thomas Prugh, Worldwatch InstituteEnvironmental decline and persistent mass poverty suggest that the dominant model for economies worldwide is in crisis. But alternatives to business-as-usual can steer most economies onto sustainable paths. Underpinned by a handful of key Big Ideas, economic innovations might just remake our world.Download Chapter 1
Chapter 2. A New Bottom Line for Progress
John Talberth, Redefining ProgressGDP tells an important, if one-dimensional, economic story. But it’s not the only story or even the most vital one. Metrics that better measure the things people most value, and don’t count pollution and other “bads” as assets, are explored in this chapter.
Chapter 3. Rethinking Production
Hunter Lovins, Natural Capitalism SolutionsModern production systems specialize in huge volumes, incidentally producing massive wastes and toxic by-products. Futurethinking businesses are inventing ways to meet people’s needs with a fraction of current environmental impacts.
Chapter 4. The Challenges of Sustainable Lifestyles
Tim Jackson, University of Surrey“More is better”—the modern economic mantra—is under attack as the environmental, economic, and personal downsides of consumerism become evident. Harried, overworked, and indebted consumers are increasingly open to a focus on quality of life rather than more stuff.
Chapter 5. Meat and Seafood: The Most Costly Ingredients in the Global Diet
Brian Halweil and Danielle Nierenberg, Worldwatch InstituteConsumption of fish and meat is growing fast worldwide, but producing these in huge livestock-raising operations generates enormous health and environmental problems. Alternative ways of meeting demand for meat and fish can protect the environment and small farmers.
Chapter 6. Building a Low-Carbon Economy
Christopher Flavin, Worldwatch InstituteTo avoid tipping Earth’s climate into a dangerous runaway warming mode, global carbon emissions must be slashed by upwards of 80 percent by 2050. Improved energy productivity, deployment of renewable energy technologies, and enlightened government energy policies are key to achieving this goal.
Chapter 7. Improving Carbon Markets
Zoë Chafe and Hilary French, Worldwatch InstituteA world choking on carbon increasingly understands that measures for reducing national and personal carbon footprints are critical. But which ones, and how should they be implemented? This chapter sorts fact from fiction for policymakers and consumers.
Chapter 8. Water in a Sustainable Economy
Ger Bergkamp, IUCN, and Claudia Sadoff, IUCN and International Water Management InstituteWater may be the critical resource challenge of this century, with farmers, cities, and the natural environment all claiming shares of a shrinking pool. But market mechanisms and enlightened regulations can supply water to all claimants, even as they reduce waste and protect aquatic ecosystems.
Chapter 9. Banking on Biodiversity
Ricardo Bayon, Ecosystem MarketplaceDespite the spread of national parks and protected areas, species decline and and ecosystem destruction continue apace. Market mechanisms (such as payment for ecosystem services), when linked to conservation goals, can protect natural capital while providing regulated access to important economic resources.
Chapter 10. The Parallel Economy of the Commons
Jonathan Rowe, Tomales Bay InstituteCommons were once a stable and crucial part of many preindustrial economies. As uncontrolled access destroys resources such as fisheries and the atmosphere, the potential of commons regimes to sustainably conserve and allocate scarce resources in a ‘full world’ is more critical than ever.
Chapter 11. Engaging Communities for a Sustainable World
Erik Assadourian, Worldwatch InstituteCitizens disempowered by economic decisions made far away are discovering that building local economies and sustainable communities offers viable alternatives to globalization. Case studies illuminate what’s possible in creating sustainability at the grassroots.
Chapter 12. Mobilizing Human Energy
Jason Calder, Future GenerationsBillions in aid have been spent over the decades on developing economies, often with shockingly little effect. A key missing element has been strong input from the grassroots, which allows local people to claim ownership of their development futures. This chapter will examine successful cases of grassroots-led development and their lessons for governments.
Chapter 13. Investing for Sustainability
Bill Baue, Socialfunds.comFinance is a vital leverage point for steering economies in a sustainable direction. Financing activities at all levels—venture capital, socially responsible investing, and microfinance—are being examined for their potential contributions to building sustainable economies.
Chapter 14. New Approaches to Trade Governance
Mark Halle, International Institute for Sustainable DevelopmentFree-trade ideology has long mistaken means for ends in trade discussions. The global community’s goal ought to be sustainable and equitable economic development, an end that may not always be served by a blind adherence to free-trade doctrine. Reforms of the WTO and the broader global trading system could help promote sustainable economic activity.'


Klimaatverandering 126

'Global Economic Growth Continues at Expense of Ecological Systems
-->Abstract
In 2007, gross world product (GWP)—the aggregated total of all finished goods and services produced worldwide—was expected to grow 5.4 percent to $72.3 trillion (in 2007 dollars). This estimate reflects actual purchasing power in countries (that is, in purchasing power parity or PPP terms). The market exchange rate GWP, which is based on straightforward monetary terms, was expected to reach $53.4 trillion, an increase of 8 percent since 2006. The projected growth of GWP (PPP) in 2007 was revised downward from earlier estimates due particularly to economic disruptions in the U.S. housing market, which also had ripple effects in other countries, particularly within Europe and in Japan. Even with this late-term contraction, growth in 2007 was still expected to be higher than the average since 1970.
The U.S. economy was projected to grow 2.1 percent in 2007, nearly 1 percent slower than the previous year. This significant contraction came in large part from the turmoil felt in the subprime mortgage sector, with foreclosures, reductions in residential investments, and declining housing values reducing growth as well as consumer confidence. Rising gasoline prices also had a significant impact. U.S. economic growth is expected to slow further in 2008.
-->In 2007, gross world product (GWP)—the aggregated total of all finished goods and services produced worldwide—was expected to grow 5.4 percent to $72.3 trillion (in 2007 dollars).1 (See Figure 1.) This estimate reflects actual purchasing power in countries (that is, in purchasing power parity or PPP terms). The market exchange rate GWP, which is based on straightforward monetary terms, was expected to reach $53.4 trillion, an increase of 8 percent since 2006.2 The projected growth of GWP (PPP) in 2007 was revised downward from earlier estimates due particularly to economic disruptions in the U.S. housing market, which also had ripple effects in other countries, particularly within Europe and in Japan.3 Even with this late-term contraction, growth in 2007 was still expected to be higher than the average since 1970.4 (See Figure 2.)
The U.S. economy was projected to grow 2.1 percent in 2007, nearly 1 percent slower than the previous year.5 This significant contraction came in large part from the turmoil felt in the subprime mortgage sector, with foreclosures, reductions in residential investments, and declining housing values reducing growth as well as consumer confidence.6 Rising gasoline prices also had a significant impact.7 U.S. economic growth is expected to slow further in 2008.8
Although the U.S. economy still accounts for 19 percent of the world total, China is closing the gap—now accounting for 16 percent of GWP, up from 15 percent in 2006.9 China’s gross domestic product (GDP) grew dramatically in 2007, jumping an estimated 11.7 percent and making up one third of the projected $3.7 trillion in GWP growth in 2007.10 Increases in exports and investments drove this expansion.11
Growth in China’s GDP, however, has not come without cost. China is increasingly suffering from the externalities of economic growth: politically destabilizing inequality and pollution. Today, only 1 percent of China’s 560 million urban residents breathe air that is considered safe by European Union (EU) standards.12 Air and water pollution have led to numerous occurrences of social unrest.13 And China is now the leading producer of sulfur dioxide emissions and has nearly surpassed the United States in total carbon dioxide emissions (though not in per capita emissions).14
The European Union now accounts for 21 percent of GWP, which as an aggregate makes it the largest economy in the world.15 The EU economy was expected to grow 3.2 percent in 2007, having slowed in some countries due to investments in troubled U.S. financial markets.16
India’s economy was expected to grow 9.1 percent in 2007, accounting for 11 percent of total GWP growth—more than the U.S. contribution.17 Growth in the world’s second most populous nation was mainly driven by domestic demand.18
Sub-Saharan Africa was projected to grow 6.1 percent—with this growth coming mostly from oil exports and from the dominant South African economy, which makes up one third of the region’s gross product.19 Although it is now growing more quickly than in the past, sub-Saharan Africa still accounts for just 2.6 percent of the global economy.20
Per capita GWP was expected to reach $10,956 in 2007.21 (See Figure 3.) This was a growth of 4.1 percent—less than total GWP growth because world population increased by nearly 77 million people.22 Yet GWP per capita does not reflect the vast disparity in GDP per person—even when these figures are expressed in purchasing power parity terms. In the United States, GDP per person is $44,974, for example, while in China the figure is $8,780 and in India it is just $4,183.23'

The Empire 337


'Wounded Vets Trade One Hell for Another
by Aaron Glantz

SAN FRANCISCO - Last year, the United States woke up to the reality of hundreds of thousands of soldiers wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan — and began to grapple with what to do about it.

On Feb. 18, 2007, a headline titled “Soldiers Face Neglect, Frustration at Army’s Top Medical Facility” splashed across the front page of one of the nation’s premier newspapers, the Washington Post. The article, which described unsafe conditions and substandard care at Walter Reed Army Medical Centre, began with the story of Army Specialist Jeremy Duncan, who was airlifted out of Iraq in February 2006 with a broken neck and a shredded left ear, “nearly dead from blood loss”.”Behind the door of Army Spec. Jeremy Duncan’s room, part of the wall is torn and hangs in the air, weighted down with black mold,” the article read. “When the wounded combat engineer stands in his shower and looks up, he can see the bathtub on the floor above through a rotted hole. The entire building, constructed between the world wars, often smells like greasy carry-out. Signs of neglect are everywhere: mouse droppings, belly-up cockroaches, stained carpets, cheap mattresses.”
The Post reported that patients inside Walter Reed, which lies just five miles from the White House, found it difficult to receive the care they were promised and felt they deserved.
When the story broke, politicians from both parties expressed outrage and promised solutions. Walter Reed’s commander, Major General George Weightman, was fired almost immediately. Following him out the door was the Secretary of the Army, Frances Harvey.
On Mar. 6, President George W. Bush announced the formation of a bipartisan independent commission lead by former Republican Senator Bob Dole and Donna Shalala, the secretary of Health and Human Services under the Bill Clinton administration.
“It’s unacceptable to me, it’s unacceptable to you, it’s unacceptable to our country, and it’s not going to continue,” Bush told the American Legion in a speech announcing the commission’s formation. “My decisions have put our kids in harm’s way. And I’m concerned about the fact that when they come back they don’t get the full treatment they deserve.”
Three weeks later, Bush paid a visit to Walter Reed, and apologised again: “I was disturbed by their accounts of what went wrong,” Bush told Walter Reed’s staff after a tour of the facility. “It is not right to have someone volunteer to wear our uniform and not get the best possible care. I apologise for what they went through, and we’re going to fix the problem.”
But the allegations raised in the Washington Post were not actually new. In February 2005, the exact same conditions had been raised in a damning series in the on-line magazine Salon. Wounded soldiers at Walter Reed, reporter Mark Benjamin wrote, are “overmedicated, forced to talk about their mothers instead of Iraq, and have to fight for disability pay. Traumatised combat vets say the Army is failing them, and after a year following more than a dozen soldiers at Walter Reed Hospital, I believe them.”'


Iran 190

'How the Pentagon Planted a False Hormuz Story
by Gareth Porter

WASHINGTON — Senior Pentagon officials, evidently reflecting a broader administration policy decision, used an off-the-record Pentagon briefing to turn the Jan. 6 U.S.-Iranian incident in the Strait of Hormuz into a sensational story demonstrating Iran’s military aggressiveness, a reconstruction of the events following the incident shows. The initial press stories on the incident, all of which can be traced to a briefing by deputy assistant secretary of defense for public affairs in charge of media operations Bryan Whitman, contained similar information that has since been repudiated by the Navy itself.
Then the Navy disseminated a short video into which was spliced the audio of a phone call warning that U.S. warships would “explode” in “a few seconds”. Although it was ostensibly a Navy production, IPS has learned that the ultimate decision on its content was made by top officials of the Defense Department.
The encounter between five small and apparently unarmed speedboats, each carrying a crew of two to four men, and the three U.S. warships occurred very early on Saturday Jan. 6, Washington time. But no information was released to the public about the incident for more than 24 hours, indicating that it was not viewed initially as being very urgent.
The reason for that absence of public information on the incident for more than a full day is that it was not that different from many others in the Gulf over more than a decade. A Pentagon consultant who asked not to be identified told IPS that he had spoken with officers who had experienced similar encounters with small Iranian boats throughout the 1990s, and that such incidents are “just not a major threat to the U.S. Navy by any stretch of the imagination”.'

Lees verder: http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2008/01/16/6404/

De Commerciele Massamedia 108


Democratie? Vrijheid van Meningsuiting? Nonsense. Ook het Westen kent dissidenten die nooit in de commerciele massamedia gehoord worden.




What’s missing in America’s mainstream media is the voice of realism. As the label implies, realists think foreign policy should be based on the world as it really is, rather than what we might like it to be. Realists see international politics as an inherently competitive realm where states constantly compete for advantage and where security is often precarious. But realists understand that being overly alarmist and aggressive can get states into just as much trouble as being excessively trusting or complacent. So realists keep a keen eye on the balance of power, but they oppose squandering blood or treasure on needless military buildups, ideological crusades, or foolish foreign wars. Realists cherish America’s commitment to democracy and individual liberty, but they know that ideals alone are no basis for conducting foreign policy. They also understand that endless overseas adventures will inevitably provoke a hostile backlash abroad and eventually force us to compromise our freedoms here at home.
Such views are hardly heretical, but there is not a single major columnist, TV commentator or radio pundit who consistently presents a realist perspective on world politics and American foreign policy. In America today, the mainstream media is a realism-free zone.
The exclusion of realism is surprising for three reasons.'


Robert Fisk 42

'Robert Fisk: Bloody reality bears no relation to the delusions of this President

As a bomb explodes in Beirut and Israel kills 19 in Gaza raids, Bush takes his Middle East peace mission to Saudi Arabia (and signs off $20bn weapons deal with repressive regime)
Published: 16 January 2008

Twixt silken sheets – in a bedroom whose walls are also covered in silk – and in the very palace of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, President George Bush awakes this morning to confront a Middle East which bears no relation to the policies of his administration nor the warning which he has been relaying constantly to the kings and emirs and oligarchs of the Gulf: that Iran rather than Israel is their enemy.
The President sat chummily beside the all-too-friendly monarch yesterday, enthroned in what looked suspiciously like the kind of casual blue cardigan he might wear on his own Texan ranch; he had even received a jangling gold " Order of Merit" – it looked a bit like the Lord Chancellor's chain, though it was not disclosed which particular merit earned Mr Bush this kingly reward. Could it be the hypocritical merit of supplying yet more billions worth of weapons to the Kingdom, to be used against the Saudi regime's imaginary enemies.
It was illusory, of course, like all the words that the Arabs have heard from the Americans these past seven days, ever since the fading President began his tourist jaunt around the Middle East.
You wouldn't think it though, watching this preposterous man, prancing around arm-in-arm with the King, in what was presumably meant to be a dance, wielding a massive glinting curved Saudi sword, a latter-day Saladin, who would have appalled the Kurdish leader who once destroyed the Crusaders in what is now referred to by Mr Bush as "the disputed West Bank".
Is this how lame-duck American presidents are supposed to behave? Certainly, the denizens of the Middle East, watching this outrageous performance will all be asking this question. Ever since the 1979 Iranian revolution, a Muslim Cold War has been raging within the Middle East – but is this how Mr Bush thinks one should fight for the soul of Islam?
Already by dusk last night, the US President's world was exploding in Beirut when a massive car bomb blew up next to a 4x4 vehicle carrying American embassy employees, killing four Lebanese and apparently badly wounding a US embassy driver. And while Mr Bush was relaxing in the Saudi royal ranch at Al Janadriyah, Israeli forces killed 19 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, most of them members of Hamas, one of them the son of Mahmoud Zahar, a leader of the movement. He later claimed that Israel would not have staged the attack – on the day an Israeli was also killed by a Palestinian rocket – if it had not been encouraged to do so by George Bush.
The difference between reality and the dream-world of the US government could hardly have been more savagely illustrated. After promising the Palestinians a "sovereign and contiguous state" before the end of the year, and pledging "security" to Israel – though not, Arabs noted, security for "Palestine" – Mr Bush had arrived in the Gulf to terrify the kings and oligarchs of the oil-soaked kingdoms of the danger of Iranian aggression. As usual, he came armed with the usual American offers of vast weapons sales to protect these largely undemocratic and police state regimes from potentially the most powerful nation in the " axis of evil".
It was a potent – even weird – example of the US President's perambulation of the Arab Middle East, a return to the "policy by fear" which Washington has regularly visited upon Gulf leaders. He agreed to furnish the Saudis with at least £41m of arms, a figure set to rise to more than £10bn in weaponry to the Gulf potentates under a deal announced last year – all of which is supposed to shield them from the supposed territorial ambitions of Iran's crackpot President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. As usual, Washington promised the Israelis that their "qualitative edge" in advanced weapons would be maintained, just in case the Saudis – who have never gone to war with anyone except Saddam Hussein after his 1990 invasion of Kuwait – decided to launch a suicidal attack on America's only real ally in the Middle East.
This, of course, was not how the whole shooting match was presented to the Arabs. Mr Bush could be seen ostentatiously kissing the cheeks of King Abdullah and holding hands with the autocratic monarch whose Wahhabi Muslim state had only recently showed its "mercy" to a Saudi woman who was charged with adultery after being raped seven times in the desert outside Riyadh. The Saudis, needless to say, are well aware that Mr Bush's reign is ending amid chaos in Pakistan, a disastrous guerrilla war against Western forces in Afghanistan, fierce fighting in Gaza, near civil war in Lebanon and the hell-disaster of Iraq.'

Lees verder: http://news.independent.co.uk/fisk/article3342174.ece

The Empire 336

Richard K. Moore wrote recently:

" Only when you have reached that deep level of hopelessness, where you see no avenue of escape, can you clear your mind enough to begin to see where the real problem lies. The real problem lies, my friends, in the fact that you and I have nothing to say about how our societies are run. Any one of us has more sense than the people who are running things, and we certainly have our fellow beings more at heart. Our problem lies in our own powerlessness, leaving power in the hands of those who always abuse it, in one way or another, in one age after another.

Our challenge as a sentient species, and our response if we seek to do anything about the growth-thru-genocide agenda, is to begin to empower ourselves, us ordinary people, without reference to the useless political process. How to pursue our empowerment must be the aim of our investigations, and pursuing that empowerment must be the point of our activism."

Lees verder: http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=7693



De Israelische Terreur 289

'The Israeli occupation forces massacred 19 residents of the Zaytoun neighborhood of Gaza city in one day yesterday. They are also going ahead with buildings in illegal settlements in East Jerusalem. This while Bush is literally dancing with Arab dictators and calling Israel a beacon of democracy. The second son of Hamas leader Mohammad AlZahar was one of those 19 and joins his older brother Khalid as victims of Israeli terrorism. Dr. Saeb Erekat of the rival Fatah faction issued a statement condemning "the blazing destruction of Palestinian lives and property and a continuation of the Israeli policy of undermining the peace process and the efforts being exerted to revive hope in the minds of people that peace is possible." What "peace process" may I ask when Israel is defying 70 UN Security Council Resolutions? Why not support the call for total boycotts, divestments and sanctions until Israel complies with human rights and International law. Or at least set a deadline (say by the end of 2008) and afterwards say all talk is done. Actually the Oslo accords expired in 1998 because the interim period with a Palestinian authority was supposed to last 5 years (93-98) and here we are 10 years later still talking about talking! In good news, famous Israeli conductor Daniel Barenboim (who befriended the late Edward Said) has just taken Palestinian Citizenship. Ofcourse when Israel occupied the West Bank in 1967 it offered Samaritan Jews of Nablus Israeli citizenship. They refused and opted to stay under the same occupation regime as their fellow Palestinians, Christians and Muslims (when the Palestinian Authorities was established in 1994, like all other Palestinians, they were allowed and eagerly took the Palestinian passport). But this case is very significant and could set a precedent for more Israelis joining in what is and has always been Palestine. It will bring us closer to the inevitable one state solution (see http://qumsiyeh.org/unitedstatesofcanaan/ ).'

Oil 23

"They invaded Iraq knowing...that it was very likely to increase the threat of terror. That demonstrates what their priorities are. Furthermore, they're thoroughly reasonable priorities. They don't care about the threat of terror. What they care about is having military bases in a dependent client state right at the heart of the oil-producing region. That's important. Not because the US wants the oil—its going to get the oil one way or another on the market. But it wants to control the oil. A totally different matter. These things are constantly obscured. Control of oil has been known since the 1940s as a major lever of world control against your enemies. And US enemies are Europe and Asia—those are the regions of the world that could move towards independence. One of the ways to prevent that is to keep your hand on the spigot."

—Noam Chomsky, "War Crimes and Imperial Fantasies," interview by David Barsamian, International Socialist Review, September-October 2004

Lees verder: http://www.isreview.org/issues/37/chomsky.shtml

donderdag 17 januari 2008

Irak 235

'What They Call ‘Progress’ in Iraq
by Joe Conason

As America marks the first anniversary of the troop escalation in Iraq, at least one thing has become clear. Although the “surge” is failing as policy, it seems to be succeeding as propaganda. Even as George W. Bush continues to bump and scrape along the bottom of public approval, significantly more people now believe we are “winning” the war.
What winning really means and whether that vague impression can be sustained are questions that the war’s proponents would prefer not to answer for the moment. Their objective during this election year is simply to reduce public pressure for withdrawal, which is still the choice of an overwhelming majority of voters.
So long as the surge appears to be working, political space is created for the Republican candidates who support the war-especially Sen. John McCain, the hawk’s hawk, who said recently that he might keep U.S. soldiers in Iraq for “a hundred years.” Although that remark was not well received in the Arab world, Arabs may take comfort in the fact that no matter how determined the Arizona senator is to fulfill that threat, he is unlikely to do so since he is already over 70 years old.
But the revival of McCain’s moribund candidacy over the past few weeks would have been impossible without the media’s endorsement of “progress” in Iraq. Indeed, war propaganda itself has surged lately on the strength of casualty statistics from December 2007.
Consider the work of William Kristol, who played an important role in selling the war as editor of The Weekly Standard and on the Fox News Channel. From his new perch on The New York Times Op-Ed page-proof that being hideously wrong is no obstacle to scaling the heights of American punditry-he proclaims that “we have been able to turn around the situation in Iraq” and achieve “real success.”
According to Kristol, who once mocked concerns about religious strife in Iraq as “pop sociology,” the drop in violence last month marked the lowest overall number of deaths for both civilians and military forces since the war began in March 2003. Declining casualties for a month or two means progress, which, in turn, means that the war must continue, and that the president’s policy is correct.
What has fallen far more sharply than the casualty statistics in Iraq is the standard for success there, as defined by neoconservatives like Mr. Kristol. In the original promotional literature produced by these individuals and their associates, and recited by the president, this war was supposed to remake the Middle East into a showcase for democracy, with ruinous consequences for our terrorist enemies and cheaper oil for us-and all for free because the Iraqi petroleum industry would cover all the costs.
When that happy future never arrived, to put it mildly, the war’s proponents scrambled to reduce expectations. So in announcing the surge, the president set forth a series of benchmarks for progress in Iraq that was supposed to result from our increased troop presence. The objective was not a temporary reduction of sectarian killing, but real movement toward reconciliation of the contending factions, including the passage of laws on sharing oil revenues and political power among the Sunni, Shia, Kurds and other ethnic communities. President Bush declared the escalation would create space for the Iraqis to act on behalf of their own country.'

Lees verder: http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2008/01/17/6433/

woensdag 16 januari 2008

Iran 189

A rush to war?
Reformer.com
When we heard about the alleged confrontation between three U.S. Navy warships and five Iranian Revolutionary Guard speedboats in the Strait of Hormuz on Jan. 6, three words immediately came to mind: "Gulf of Tonkin."
With the Bush administration still gung ho to go to war with Iran, it might be worth remembering how a similar confrontation was used as the pretext for going to war four decades ago.
In the summer of 1964, the country of Vietnam was just starting to enter the consciousness of most Americans. The U.S. had about 20,000 troops there, or "advisors" as they were euphemistically known. By that summer, nearly 300 Americans had been killed and another 1,000 were wounded in the three years since the first substantial American force was committed to Vietnam by President John F. Kennedy.
The great escalation had yet to happen. But this changed when the U.S.S. Maddox, a destroyer on intelligence maneuvers in the Gulf of Tonkin off the North Vietnam coast, was fired upon by North Vietnamese torpedo boats on the afternoon of Aug. 2, 1964. Two days later, another North Vietnamese attack occurred in the same area against another destroyer, the U.S.S. Turner Joy.
That second attack was the pretext for President Lyndon B. Johnson to launch air strikes against North Vietnamese targets later that day. But even as the bombs were falling, top officials in Washington had reason to believe that the second attack never really happened.
According to naval personnel involved in the Aug. 4 incident, there was considerable doubt regarding what took place. "Review of action makes many reported contacts and torpedoes fired appear doubtful," Capt. John J. Herrick, commander of the destroyer task force in the Gulf of Tonkin, cabled back to Washington on Aug. 4. "Freak weather effects and overeager sonarman may have accounted for many reports. No actual visual sightings by Maddox. Suggest complete evaluation before any further action."
In a second cable a short time later, Herrick reported that the Turner Joy also reported "no actual sightings or wake. Entire action leaves many doubts except for appearance of ambush attempt at beginning." There were no U.S. casualties or damage in either incident.
Nobody in the press or in Congress knew this at the time. Nor did they know that the destroyers were monitoring South Vietnamese raids against two North Vietnamese islands -- raids that had been planned by American advisors. They accepted the official explanation that an "unprovoked attack" had taken place, and Johnson's statement that "repeated acts of violence against the armed forces of the United States must be met not only with alert defenses, but with positive reply."
The attacks became the justification for escalating the war. Johnson asked for and received authority from Congress "to take all necessary measures to repel any armed attack against the forces of the United States and to prevent further aggression."
The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution was approved on Aug. 7, 1964, by a unanimous vote in the House and a nearly unanimous vote in the Senate. Sens. Wayne Morse of Oregon and Ernest Gruening of Alaska cast the only "no" votes.'

Klimaatverandering 125



'Greenland Thaw Biggest in 50 Years - Report

NORWAY: January 16, 2008
OSLO - Climate change has caused the greatest thaw of Greenland's ice in half a century, perhaps heralding a wider meltdown that would quicken a rise in world sea levels, scientists said on Tuesday.
"We attribute significantly increased Greenland summer warmth and ice melt since 1990 to global warming," a group of researchers wrote in the Journal of Climate, adding to recent evidence of faster Antarctic and Arctic thaws.
"The Greenland ice sheet is likely to be highly susceptible to ongoing global warming," they said. Greenland contains enough ice to raise world sea levels by 7 metres (23 ft), a process that would take centuries if it were to start.
Melt water from Greenland -- excluding ice losses from glaciers slipping into the sea -- totalled 453 cubic kms (110 cubic miles) in 1998, the most ahead of 2003, 2006, 1995 and 2002 in detailed records stretching back to the 1950s.
Preliminary data showed that 2007 would rank second or third highest and confirm the last decade as the biggest melt, said Edward Hanna of England's University of Sheffield who led the study with colleagues in Belgium, the United States and Denmark.
So far, the water runoff has been largely offset by rising snowfalls in Greenland that may also be a side-effect of climate change. Even freezing air can hold more moisture, and so deliver more snow, if it gets slightly less chilly.
DEMISE OF ICE...'

Het Neoliberale Geloof 84



'Asian stock markets plunge
By DIKKY SINN Associated Press Writer

HONG KONG (AP) -- Asian markets plunged Wednesday on growing speculation the U.S. economy - a vital export market - is sliding into a recession that could lead to a global slowdown.
Investors dumped stocks after an overnight sell-off on Wall Street and on news that Citigroup Inc. had lost nearly $10 billion in the fourth quarter as it wrote down mountains of bad mortgage assets - the latest fallout from the credit crisis. Weak U.S. retail sales figures added to the gloom.
"American financial mismanagement has brought us to this economic meltdown," said Francis Lun, a general manager at Fulbright Securities in Hong Kong. "Asian stock markets are all suffering; nobody has escaped."
In Hong Kong, the benchmark Hang Seng index sank 5.4 percent - its biggest percentage drop since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks - to 24,450.85. Tokyo's Nikkei 225 index fell 3.4 percent to 13,504.51 points, its lowest in more than two years.
Markets in Australia, China, India, South Korea, New Zealand and the Philippines also dropped sharply on uncertainty about the U.S. economic outlook and the full extent of the subprime mortgage crisis.
In Europe, where markets had fallen sharply Tuesday, stocks slid again. Britain's FTSE 100 and Germany's DAX were both down about 1.2 percent in morning trading.
Concerns about the U.S. financial system were also felt in the currency market, which sent the dollar below 106 yen, its lowest in 2 1/2 years.
Investors saw more damage from the credit crisis when Citigroup said Tuesday it had written down $18.1 billion in bad assets. That help send the Dow Jones industrial average down 277 points, or 2.2 percent, to 12,501.11.'

Het Neoliberale Geloof 83


'Unemployment spreads as Foreclosure storm hits major cities
By Deirdre Griswold

Sour. That’s been the taste of the U.S. capitalist economy for some
time now for a large and growing sector of the working class.

Real wages have been declining ever since the 1970s, so that now most
families/households need more than one wage earner to get by.
Pensions, paid vacations and health coverage seem like fairy tales
from a golden past for millions of full-time workers, let alone the
millions more who are part-time, self-employed or work for “temp”
agencies.

Yet all the suffering caused by plant closings, by job losses due to
high tech, and by the shift of industry and services to lower-wage,
non-union areas had seemed to be off the radarscope of establishment
politics. The politicians didn’t want to talk about how the high-paid
CEOs of the transnational corporations would commit any crime against
the workers to increase the profits raked in by their bosses.

That was yesterday. As though overnight, the economy now looms very
large as a political issue as a tide of mostly younger people floods
into the primaries. All the candidates of the big business parties,
Democrats and Republicans, are honing their I-understand-your-pain
demagogy, hoping to catch this new wind in their sails.

It can’t be avoided any longer. The evidence pointing to an economic
meltdown grows stronger every day.

Rising unemployment and the ‘R’ word

The most recent statistical development is a rise in the monthly
unemployment rate to an official 5 percent, with a simultaneous drop
in new jobs created, to only 18,000 in December. It bears
remembering, however, that these figures way understate the true
jobless rate in this country. They don’t count the “discouraged”
workers who have given up looking for work. They don’t count the
people who can’t get enough work to survive. In fact, a person is
considered employed if s/he worked just one hour in the week.'

De Nuance van de NRC 48


Vanavond bericht de NRC het volgende:
'PvdA-raadslid scheldt frustratie van zich af
Door een onzer redacteuren
Rotterdam, 16 jan.
„Luister goed jij vuile gek WIJ BLIJVEN HIER hahahahahahahhahah VAL DOOD. Ik ben een nederlandse moslim en dat zal ik blijven tot mijn dood. Ik heb medelijden met jouw soort jij moet leven met haat, echt triest.”
Zo luiden de eerste regels van een e-mail die de Rotterdamse PvdA-politica Bouchra Ismaili afgelopen zondag verzond. Het lid van de deelraad Charlois antwoordde daarmee op een e-mail van iemand die zich Jos Parbleu noemt. Daarin citeert hij twee uitspraken van de islamitische beweging Hizb ut Tahrir uit De Telegraaf van afgelopen zaterdag.
De e-mail van Parbleu beperkte zich tot de citaten, hij gaf geen verdere toelichting. Onduidelijk is waarom Ismaili op de boodschap reageerde alsof ze persoonlijk werd aangevallen.
In het Algemeen Dagblad van vandaag zegt Ismaili, van Marokkaanse komaf, dat er „iets bij haar brak” nadat ze eerder die dag een racistische opmerking had gehoord. Elders in haar e-mail schrijft Ismaili: „Gelukkig [...] zijn de meeste Nederlanders ontwikkeld en tolerant. Jullie zijn hier de allochtonen!!!!”'
Lees verder: http://www.nrc.nl/binnenland/article896134.ece/PvdA-raadslid_scheldt_frustratie_van_zich_af

Aan dit bericht kleeft iets merkwaardigs. Eerst meldt een onzer redacteuren: 'Onduidelijk is waarom Ismaili op de boodschap reageerde alsof ze persoonlijk werd aangevallen,' om vervolgens een verklaring te geven: 'In het Algemeen Dagblad van vandaag zegt Ismaili, van Marokkaanse komaf, dat er „iets bij haar brak” nadat ze eerder die dag een racistische opmerking had gehoord.' En als een onzer redacteuren het nog niet had begrepen waarom heeft hij/zij niet even contact met mevrouw Ismaili opgenomen?
Laat ik als geschoolde blanke Europeaan, die geen islamiet, jood of christen is, een poging wagen om een onzer redacteuren van de slijpsteen voor de geest die woede uit te leggen, middels een vergelijking. Allereerst moet hij/zij beseffen dat het voortdurende gezeur over de islam doorgaans de moderne variant is van het aloude antisemitisme, de haat tegen de vreemde onder ons. De islam staat dan gelijk aan de Arabier, en Arabieren zijn zoals bekend semitieten. Via de daden of uitspraken van een of meerdere indivduen wordt de hele groep gestigmatiseerd en gecriminaliseerd, zoals voor antisemieten een rijke jood gelijk staat aan de geslepen hebzucht van het hele jodendom en een arme revolutionaire jood voor de al even geslepen onruststokerij van alle joden. En zo proberen nu de antisemieten te doen alsof de uitspraken of daden van islamitische fundamentalisten kenmerkend zijn voor alle islamieten ter wereld. Daarom moeten moslims elke keer publiekelijk zich distantieren van extremisten, zo niet dan bewijzen ze daarmee de stelling in de ogen van de antisemieten dat alle moslims niet deugen. En die rotsvaste overtuiging hebben de moderne antisemieten ook, immers ze beschouwen de islam als een 'achterlijk' geloof. Vandaar dat dit slag mensen dag in dag uit het wapen van de suggestie hanteert.
Stel nu dat u dag in dag uit in het openbaar afgeeft op het joodse geloof. U vindt het een achterlijk geloof en zegt dat als politicus en plein publique, of u laat weten dat Mozes een notoire pedofiel was. En verdomd als het niet waar is, u wordt net zo populair met deze nonsense als Hirsi Magan/Ali of Pim Fortuyn, volgens het televisievolk de grootste Nederlander aller tijden. Op een bepaalde dag begint u weer te treiteren met teksten niet van een extremistische, terroristische joodse groepering, maar sterker nog met teksten uit de bijbel, het oude testament, het boek bij uitstek van de joden en u stuurt een joods Kamerlid of raadslid de volgende tekst uit de Pentateuch: 'Deuteronomium 20:16. Maar van de steden dezer volken, die u de HEERE, uw God, ten erve geeft, zult gij niets laten leven, dat adem heeft.' U suggereert daarmee dat alle joden in genocide geloven, want de eerste beschreven genocide staat dus in hun heilige boek. Na alle pesterijen, denigrerende opmerkingen, beledigingen, vernederingen wordt dat Kamerlid of raadslid razend. Zou een onzer redacteuren van de NRC dan geschreven hebben: 'Onduidelijk is waarom Ismaili op de boodschap reageerde alsof ze persoonlijk werd aangevallen?' Zo nee, wat is dan het verschil tussen, in dit geval, een islamiet en een jood? Anders gesteld: vanwaar die retorische en tendentieuze vraag van een onzer redacteuren?
Wil hij/zij suggereren dat het islamitische raadslid, met die prachtige Marokkaanse naam (wat kennelijk niet voldoende was omdat een onzer redacteuren nog eens geheel overbodig melding maakte van het feit dat zij van Marokkaanse komaf is) woedend geworden is omdat zij van Marokkaanse komaf is en dus anders is dan wij die geen moslim zijn en uit de polder komen? Zo nee, wat probeert een onzer redacteuren die het allemaal nog steeds niet begrijpt de lezers dan te vertellen? Welke nuance suggereert hij? En nu we toch bezig zijn: welke relevantie heeft in dit geval de vermelding dat ze van Marokkaanse afkomst is? Bouchra betekent goed voorteken, goed nieuws. Die vermelding heeft meer relevantie dan dat ze van Marokkaanse komaf is. Welke afkomst heeft een onzer redacteuren eigenlijk? Kan dat er volgende keer bijgezet worden?

dinsdag 15 januari 2008

Het Neoliberale Geloof 82

Ik kreeg deze email gestuurd:

'Honderden deelnemers aan conferentie over economische groei
Amsterdam/Tilburg/Brussel, 15 januari 2008 -
Ruim driehonderd mensen hebben op donderdag 10 januari aan
de Universiteit van Tilburg deelgenomen aan een conferentie
over de schaduwzijden van economische groei.
Het is voor het eerst dat in Nederland en Vlaanderen een
dergelijk omvangrijke bijeenkomst aan dit onderwerp gewijd
is.
De conferentie 'Een Comfortabele Waarheid' duurde de gehele
dag en begon met een indringend betoog van de Amerikaanse
politiek-econoom Susan George. Zij riep op tot urgente
vorming van een soort wederopbouwplan om de mondiale
economische verhoudingen duurzaam en rechtvaardig te maken
'nu het nog nét kan'.
Vervolgens bespraken vier vooraanstaande economen uit
Vlaanderen en Nederland de problemen van de huidige economie
en de manier waarop die gemeten wordt. Met name de indicator
BBP kreeg het zwaar te verduren en werd door allen voor
onvolkomen verklaard, en door sommigen zelfs rijp geacht om
geheel verworpen en vervangen te worden. Ze benadrukten de
noodzaak te werken aan een conversie van de economie.
Nadat het publiek zich verdeelde over zeven werkgroepen -
met onderwerpen als meetmethodes, landbouw en herverdeling -
vond een afsluitend debat plaats. Daar namen vooraanstaande
vertegenwoordigers van politieke partijen en sociale
organisaties aan deel, waaronder FNV-voorzitter Agnes
Jongerius, PvdA-parlementslid Diederik Samson, GroenLinks
fractievoorzitter Femke Halsema, Tom Willems van het ACV en
Geert Janssens van het Verbond van Kristelijke Werknemers uit
Vlaanderen. Al bleven voorstellen tot concrete oplossingen
veelal uit, toch was het zeer opvallend hoe hoge prioriteit
alle forumleden , met inbegrip van de vertegenwoordigers van
de vakbeweging , verklaarden te hechten aan de noodzaak van
een effectief milieubeleid vanuit een doorleefde urgentie en
met oog voor solidariteit tussen arm en rijk. De aanwezige
politici onderstreepten die urgentie door te verklaren dat
het toegroeien van de economie naar een grotere mate van
duurzaamheid en solidariteit boven het behoud of de groei van
het bestaand nationaal inkomen mocht prevaleren.
In de komende weken zullen gedetailleerde verslagen van de
conferentie verschijnen op de website
http://www.economischegroei.net/'

Het Neoliberale Geloof 81



Ik kreeg de volgende email van het Trans National Institute:
'Dear Friends,
We are circulating a Sign-on Letter on the case with European Telecom
International (ETI) which is a bring a case against the Bolivian
government at the International Center for Settlement of Investment
Disputes Settlement (ICSID) which is administered by the World Bank. ETI
is taking this case to the ICSID in the framework of the
Netherlands-Bolivia Bi-lateral Investment Treaty. A decision on whether
ICSID will accept the case is expected at the end of January. Please return the Letter to ceciliaolivet@tni.org by latest Monday,
January 21 at 5pm.
A copy of the Sign-On Letter and a Backgrounder written by SOMO is
attached.
This is a very important case and we hope that you will sign-on to the
Letter.
Thank you,
Cecilia Olivet
Transnational Institute (TNI)
--------------------------------------
Beste vrienden/vriendinnen,
hierbij een open brief opgesteld door een aantal organisaties, met
betrekking op een kennelijk ongegronde claim van het Nederlandse
telecombedrijf ETI (met Italiaanse grootaandeelhouders) tegen de
Boliviaanse staat. Wij verzoeken de Nederlandse regering deze case met
aandacht te volgen en te waken voor oneigenlijk gebruik van het
bestaande Investeringsverdrag tussen Nederland en Bolivia. De brief
wordt volgende week aangeboden, waarbij TNI als penvoerder zal fungeren.
Iedereen die deze bezorgdheid deelt, wordt gevraagd dit te doen weten en
zich bij dit initiatief aan te sluiten,
met vriendelijke groet,
Cecilia Olivet
Transnational Institute (TNI)
Achtergrond informatie: ETI versus Bolivia http://www.tni.org/altreg-docs/ETIvsbolivia.pdf
ETI brief
http://www.tni.org/altreg-docs/ETIbrief.pdf
CIDADI / Telecom Italia: hands off Bolivia!
http://www.tni.org/detail_page.phtml?act_id=17809

--
--------------------------
Transnational Institute
De Wittenstraat 25
1052 AK Amsterdam
The Netherlands
Tel: + 31 20 6626608
Fax: + 31 20 675 71 76
http://www.tni.org/ '

Het Neoliberale Geloof 80

'Consumer spending slowdown deepens
By ANNE D'INNOCENZIO
AP Business Writer

NEW YORK (AP) -- More evidence of a dramatic slowdown in consumer spending surfaced Monday, as Sears Holdings Corp. warned that a drop in sales would result in a profit shortfall and the world's largest retail trade group issued a downbeat sales forecast for 2008.
Shares dropped among retailers from jewelry chain Zales Inc. to Saks Inc., which operates luxury retailer Saks Fifth Avenue, as the spending malaise appeared to deepen and spread beyond lower and middle-income shoppers to more affluent consumers. The decline in retailers' stocks continued a yearlong downward trend.
Consumer spending, which accounts for two-thirds of the nation's economic activity, had been showing resilience even as gas prices rose and the housing market fell. But recent data point to a sharper pullback, a trend that may tip the economy into recession.
American Express Co., whose customers are generally affluent, said Thursday it expects slower spending and more missed payments on credit card bills to hurt its profit throughout 2008. Upscale jewelry retailer Tiffany Co. cut its 2007 profit outlook on Friday as it reported a 2 percent decline in same-store sales, or sales at stores opened at least a year, during the holiday period.
On Monday, Sears Holdings, which owns Sears and Kmart stores, blamed growing competition, the housing market slump and consumers' credit fears for sales figures that were expected to slash fourth-quarter profit by as much as 57 percent from the year-ago period. Meanwhile, the National Retail Federation predicted retail sales in 2008 will grow at the weakest pace in six years.'

Lees verder: http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/O/OUTLOOK_RETAIL_SALES?SITE=TXSAE&SECTI

Het Neoliberale Geloof 79



Leest u dit eens rustig:

'Big Oil and the War on Drugs and Terrorism

The "Big Oil" chessgame, aided and abetted by the so-called wars on drugs and terrorism, has made most of humanity its pawns and has expanded corporate control over our lives.

BLOOD, TOIL AND OIL

The year 1859 saw the publication of The Origin of the Species by Charles Darwin as well as the founding of the Red Cross by Henry Dunant, after he'd experienced the suffering of the ordinary soldier during the Battle of Solferino (France and Sardinia under Napoleon III fought Austria under Francis Joseph I).1 This progressive humanitarian measure was paralleled by the founding of the conservative elitist Anthropological Society of Paris by Dr Paul Broca, who had started to "pickle" the brains of eminent deceased personalities. Strange things were happening in a world where artificial lighting had turned night into day and where man extended his effective life-span by some 30 per cent.2 The first oil-well near Titusville in Pennsylvania had been drilled; John Davison Rockefeller and Maurice Clark formed a trading company which would soon become Standard Oil, forming a huge monopoly by concentrating 96 per cent of the refining capacity of the USA in the one hand.3 In the beginning they profited from provisioning troops in the War of Union against the Confederates, then later from outfitting (arming) "pioneers" in their war against nature and humanity.4The year 1859 also saw the start of huge migration of Ashkenazi Jewry from what is now the region of Ukraine into western parts of Europe. The "Eastern Jews" swamped Europe and brought with them little else but the shirts on their backs as well as intellectual and artistic brilliance. Immediately these immigrants made their presence felt in all walks of life. Scientific research and discovery took a giant leap forward when Ashkenazim ability was seeded into the fertile soil of a continent which was still in the process of emerging out of the age of feudal reign. When in 1863 the carnage due to modern weapons had taken a huge toll on the largely volunteer forces of both combatants in the American War of Secession, conscription was introduced (first by the Confederates). Until then, the landowners of the South had been fighting for their "rights" while the soldiers of the North had been spilling their blood in order to maintain the tax income for the Union. The new Union President Abraham Lincoln5 had the "daring" idea to get motivated fresh blood into the reservoir of cannon-fodder by promising Blacks their freedom if they helped to defeat the South.6 In two years, the war was won for the North and the Negro was then nominally freed but still stayed a de facto slave. Almost 140 years later, one wonders whether emancipation was the same kind of labelling fraud as was the eventual outcome of the Civil Rights movement.It is now hardly ever commented on, but the American Civil War "happened" while the oil industry was being established. Some 600,000 lives were ruthlessly wasted between 1861 and 1865 for "ideals" which, when viewed today, were phoney (at best) and to no material effect (as in the betterment of people's lives). What had really happened was that a very few people had laid the foundations for very great wealth and dominance.

ROCKEFELLERS AND ROTHSCHILDS

John D. Rockefeller was born in Richford, New York, on 8 July 1839 (d. 1937) and educated in the public schools of Cleveland, Ohio. He became a bookkeeper in Cleveland at the age of sixteen. In 1862, he went into business with entrepreneur Henry Flagler and Samuel Andrews, the inventor of an inexpensive process for the "refining" of crude petroleum. In 1870, their company was renamed as Standard Oil (of Ohio) Company. In 1872, J. D. Rockefeller founded the South Improvement Co., which by 1887 had amalgamated all but a few per cent of America's refining capacity in one hand and became a corporate giant of such vast might that it was, in effect, "running" America. The USA was fighting another brutal "War of Independence" (this time from Standard Oil), which it won in 1911 when the Rockefeller monopoly was dismantled. Just as in the case of the other War of Independence, victory was an elusive concept.The rest of the 20th century has been called by many in very simple terms as "Rockefeller's revenge". To all intents and purposes, this was a "re-volution", as it effectively re-established the dominance of the oil industry over American politics and the American people. What has changed is that not only have the American people been pushed around the chessboard, but most of mankind has been made into pawns in the game of "Big Oil".In 1823, US President Monroe declared (in wise prescience) the Americas "off-limits" to any other polity, and the world was divided into the "Western hemisphere" and the rest. Zischka7 gave a chronological account of the oil industry's early development. It turns out that in the early 20th century there were two major players on this stage, with an early contender for "second place": • John Davison Rockefeller, son of a Rabbi-cum-haberdasher and purveyor of comforts to the men in the Pennsylvanian oil fields, focused his attention on the "downstream" side of the oil industry and by the late 1880s established an almost total monopoly on transport and refining of crude oil. • Henry Deterding, an enterprising young Dutchman, was a clerk in a bank in Batavia (Jakarta) at the turn of the century when the Duri oil field in Sumatra was discovered. A fast learner, he became involved in the company holding the lease over this oil field and by 1902 had risen to the position of president of this company. Deterding was determined to seek domination over the oil industry via the ownership of concessions. The "side show" developed in the northern foothills of the Caucasus mountains. Ludwig Nobel (brother of the inventor of dynamite, Alfred Nobel) was sent by his father (who at this time was an arms manufacturer supplying the Imperial Russian Army with guns) into the Caucasus region to secure a supply of walnut wood to be turned into gun stocks. Instead, he came back with ownership of the oil concessions on what is now known as the Baku region of Azerbaijan.The House of Rothschild, through its various branches established in London, Paris and Vienna by the sons of Amschel Mayer8 (named "Rothschild" after the "red shield" sign on his house in the Frankfurt ghetto), financed: • the Rockefeller oil empire in America; • the emerging alliance (soon to be named Royal Dutch Shell) of the Dutch and English royal houses to take control over the oilfields in the Far East; and • the Russian oilfield operations controlled by the Nobel family.As always, the third player got mangled up in the tussle between the two stronger ones.9 After oil was discovered in the Persian Gulf region and the British secured control of it, the Nobel family was forced by a "no holds barred" price war between Rockefeller and Deterding to "sell out". In order to win this fight, Deterding teamed up with Lord Samuels of London, who had established the oil shipping industry. While it would be too cumbersome to detail this epic struggle here, just one fact should make the attentive reader sit up: Josef Stalin spent his early political life as organiser of the Oil Workers Union in and around Baku! Another fact to ponder: the Russian Revolution kept Russian oil off the world market for quite some time.

OIL, WAR AND TERRORISM...'

Lees verder: http://www.nexusmagazine.com/articles/OilDrugsTerrorism.html