Sunday, January 12, 2003

News Feed 20120902

Financial Crisis
»Audit of the Federal Reserve Reveals $16 Trillion in Secret Bailouts
»France Nationalizes Its Second Largest Mortgage Lender
»We Should Tune in to the Romney and Ryan Show
»Austin Police Admit Infiltration of Occupy After Accusations of Undercover Provocateurs
»Republican Platform Calls for Value-Added Tax Scheme
Europe and the EU
»Italy Mourns Cardinal Martini, ‘A Great Evangeliser’
»UK: Channel 4 History of Islam Sparks Flood of Complaints and Presenter Tom Holland Subjected to Torrent of Abusive Tweets
Middle East
»MI5 Stops British Extremists Joining Syria Was After Concerns They Will Return Home With Deadly Skills
»Software Meant to Fight Crime is Used to Spy on Dissidents
»WSJ in Scathing Editorial Justifies Israel’s Mistrust of Obama
South Asia
»NATO Suspends Training of New Afghan Recruits
»Pakistan: Rimsha Masih Bail Hearing Adjourned
»Pakistani Imam Accused of Framing Christian Girl
Sub-Saharan Africa
»Islamic Extremists Extend Control in Mali

Financial Crisis

Audit of the Federal Reserve Reveals $16 Trillion in Secret Bailouts

The first ever GAO (Government Accountability Office) audit of the Federal Reserve was carried out in the past few months due to the Ron Paul, Alan Grayson Amendment to the Dodd-Frank bill, which passed last year. Jim DeMint, a Republican Senator, and Bernie Sanders, an independent Senator, led the charge for a Federal Reserve audit in the Senate, but watered down the original language of the house bill(HR1207), so that a complete audit would not be carried out.

Ben Bernanke (pictured to the right), Alan Greenspan, and various other bankers vehemently opposed the audit and lied to Congress about the effects an audit would have on markets. Nevertheless, the results of the first audit in the Federal Reserve’s nearly 100 year history were posted on Senator Sander’s webpage earlier this morning.

What was revealed in the audit was startling:

$16,000,000,000,000.00 had been secretly given out to US banks and corporations and foreign banks everywhere from France to Scotland. From the period between December 2007 and June 2010, the Federal Reserve had secretly bailed out many of the world’s banks, corporations, and governments. The Federal Reserve likes to refer to these secret bailouts as an all-inclusive loan program, but virtually none of the money has been returned and it was loaned out at 0% interest. Why the Federal Reserve had never been public about this or even informed the United States Congress about the $16 trillion dollar bailout is obvious — the American public would have been outraged to find out that the Federal Reserve bailed out foreign banks while Americans were struggling to find jobs.


View the 266-page GAO audit of the Federal Reserve (July 21st, 2011) [url]

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

France Nationalizes Its Second Largest Mortgage Lender

September has arrived which means for Europe reality can, mercifully, return. First on the agenda: moments ago the French government suddenly announced the nationalization of troubled mortgage lender Credit Immobilier de France, which is also the country’s second lagrest mortgage specialist after an attempt to find a buyer for the company failed.

“To allow the CIF group to respect its overall commitments, the state decided to respond favourably to its request to grant it a guarantee,” Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici said according to Reuters. What he really meant was that in order to avoid a bank run following the realization that the housing crisis has finally come home, his boss, socialist Hollande, has decided to renege on his core campaign promise, and bail out an “evil, evil” bank.

Sadly, while the nationalization was predicted by us long ago, the reality is that the French government waited too long with the sale, which prompted the Moody’s downgrade of CIF by 3 notches earlier this week, which in turn was the catalyst that made any delay in the nationalization inevitable. The alternative: fears that one of the key players in the French mortgage house of cards was effectively insolvent would spread like wildfire, leading to disastrous consequences for the banking system.

End result: congratulations France: your Fannie/Freddie-Dexia moment has finally arrived, and the score, naturally: bankers 1 — taxpayers 0.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

We Should Tune in to the Romney and Ryan Show

The myth of a democratic socialist society funded by capitalism is finished

Whatever the outcome of the American presidential election, one thing is certain: the fighting of it will be the most significant political event of the decade. Last week’s Republican national convention sharpened what had been until then only a vague, inchoate theme: this campaign is going to consist of the debate that all Western democratic countries should be engaging in, but which only the United States has the nerve to undertake. The question that will demand an answer lies at the heart of the economic crisis from which the West seems unable to recover. It is so profoundly threatening to the governing consensus of Britain and Europe as to be virtually unutterable here, so we shall have to rely on the robustness of the US political class to make the running.

What is being challenged is nothing less than the most basic premise of the politics of the centre ground: that you can have free market economics and a democratic socialist welfare system at the same time. The magic formula in which the wealth produced by the market economy is redistributed by the state — from those who produce it to those whom the government believes deserve it — has gone bust. The crash of 2008 exposed a devastating truth that went much deeper than the discovery of a generation of delinquent bankers, or a transitory property bubble. It has become apparent to anyone with a grip on economic reality that free markets simply cannot produce enough wealth to support the sort of universal entitlement programmes which the populations of democratic countries have been led to expect. The fantasy may be sustained for a while by the relentless production of phoney money to fund benefits and job-creation projects, until the economy is turned into a meaningless internal recycling mechanism in the style of the old Soviet Union…

           — Hat tip: Takuan Seiyo[Return to headlines]


Austin Police Admit Infiltration of Occupy After Accusations of Undercover Provocateurs

In December, Occupy protesters, some of which were from Austin, blocked the entrance of a Houston port.

A group of protestors were charged with a felony because they linked their arms with a device called a “lockbox”. They claim Austin Police helped them make it and now they want charges to be dropped.

Dave Cortez, an Austin Occupier claims he had interaction with one of the undercover officers.

“Supplying and encouraging these folks in Houston to be more aggressive with their actions,” said Cortez. “This man would attend our meetings pull me aside and say we need to do more aggressive actions which he encourage the folks to do in Houston.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Republican Platform Calls for Value-Added Tax Scheme

“The 2012 Republican Platform calls for a complete overhaul of the federal tax system. No surprise there. But then it endorses a value-added tax or national sales tax as one possible solution to the nation’s budget problems. This is shocking,” writes Jim McTague for Barron’s.

In order to sell this, the Republicans say they will only move to institute a value added tax — a tax that confiscates money at all stages of the production process — but only if the Sixteenth Amendment is repealed.

In 1909, a Republican Congress devised the Sixteenth amendment. It allows the government to levy an income tax without apportioning it among the states. It was ratified in 1913 despite the fact it undermines the constitutional requirements regarding direct taxes.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Italy Mourns Cardinal Martini, ‘A Great Evangeliser’

The funeral will be held in Milan’s Duomo on Monday

(ANSA) — Milan, August 31 — Church bells in Milan sounded the death knell on Friday to announce the passing away of Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini at the age of 85.

The body of the popular cardinal and former archbishop of Milan will be laid out in Milan cathedral from 12 noon local time on Saturday for people to pay their last respects.

The funeral will be held in the cathedral on Monday at 4 pm.

Meanwhile messages of condolence flooded in from Italy’s ecclesiastical, political and cultural establishment following the news of Martini’s death from Parkinson’s after an illness lasting many years.

Many focused on and reflected the prelate’s ability to bring people together across religious and political divides. “The death of Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini is an event that generates great emotion well beyond the confines of the albeit vast archdiocese of Milan, which he headed for 22 years,” said the director of the Vatican press office Father Federico Lombardi, a member of the Society of Jesus like the deceased. “He was a bishop who with his word, his numerous written works, his innovative pastoral initiatives managed to witness to and announce effectively the Christian faith to the men of our time, earning the esteem and respect of people near and far,” he added, describing the late cardinal as “a great evangeliser”.

“Difficult times require words of wisdom and hope from great men,” said Giuliano Pisapia, mayor of Milan. “Carlo Maria Martini illuminated the way for the entire city, not just for part of it. For this reason, today more than ever, Milan mourns its archbishop”.

“Today a giant of Catholic thinking has left us, one of the most important figures of the last century,” said lawmaker Francesco Boccia of the centre-left Democratic Party, warning against sterile discussions over “therapeutic obstinacy” after it emerged earlier in the day that the cardinal had refused artificial feeding during his final hours.

Born in Turin in 1927, Martini entered the Society of Jesus in 1944 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1952. He served as the archbishop of Milan from 1980 until his retirement in 2002, when he moved to the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Jerusalem to continue his work as a biblical scholar. He passed away at the Jesuit-run Aloisianum college in Gallarate (Varese) near Milan, where he had been living and receiving treatment since his return to Italy from Jerusalem in 2008.

Martini was considered one of the more liberal high-ranking representatives of the Catholic Church.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

UK: Channel 4 History of Islam Sparks Flood of Complaints and Presenter Tom Holland Subjected to Torrent of Abusive Tweets

Channel 4 is at the centre of a storm over a programme it broadcast on the history of Islam.

Islam: The Untold Story has triggered nearly 550 complaints to both the television regulator Ofcom and Channel 4 itself.

It has also sparked a bitter war of words on Twitter involving leading historians and Islamic scholars.

Since it was screened last week, presenter Tom Holland, a historian with a double first from Cambridge, has been subjected to a torrent of abusive tweets, some of which have included physical threats.

He is accused of distorting the history of Islam by claiming the Koran makes little or no reference to the religious city of Mecca.

One Twitter user accused Mr Holland of trying to destroy Islamic history while another called him a ‘fool’ for suggesting Islam is a ‘made-up religion’.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Middle East

MI5 Stops British Extremists Joining Syria Was After Concerns They Will Return Home With Deadly Skills

British Islamic extremists are being stopped from travelling to fight in Syria amid concerns that they will return home with deadly skills in weaponry and bomb-making.

Scores of extremists, some newly converted to Islam, have been heading off to the Middle East and MI5 and counter-terrorism police units are using anti-terror powers to disrupt their travel plans.

The civil war is largely seen as a fight between the Free Syrian Army and the repressive regime of Bashar al-Assad.

However, Western governments are increasingly worried that it is being hijacked by jihadist groups inspired by Al Qaeda ideologies.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Software Meant to Fight Crime is Used to Spy on Dissidents

Morgan Marquis-Boire works as a Google engineer and Bill Marczak is earning a Ph.D. in computer science. But this summer, the two men have been moonlighting as detectives, chasing an elusive surveillance tool from Bahrain across five continents.

What they found was the widespread use of sophisticated, off-the-shelf computer espionage software by governments with questionable records on human rights. While the software is supposedly sold for use only in criminal investigations, the two came across evidence that it was being used to target political dissidents.

The software proved to be the stuff of a spy film: it can grab images of computer screens, record Skype chats, turn on cameras and microphones and log keystrokes. The two men said they discovered mobile versions of the spyware customized for all major mobile phones.

But what made the software especially sophisticated was how well it avoided detection. Its creators specifically engineered it to elude antivirus software made by Kaspersky Lab, Symantec, F-Secure and others.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

WSJ in Scathing Editorial Justifies Israel’s Mistrust of Obama

Largest U.S. paper says Obama’s “animus and incompetence” are pushing Israel to strike Iran.

The largest-circulation newspaper in the United States, the Wall Street Journal, has penned a scathing editorial against the Obama Administration’s handling of the crisis with Iran, saying that its attitude is pushing the Jewish state to strike Iran on its own.

Following Gen. Martin Dempsey’s statement that “I don’t want to be complicit” if Israel chooses to attack Iran, the Journal writes acidly: “We don’t know what exactly Gen. Dempsey thinks American non-complicity might entail in the event of a strike. Should the Administration refuse to resupply Israel with jets and bombs, or condemn an Israeli strike at the U.N.? Nor do we know if the General was conducting freelance diplomacy or sending a signal from an Administration that feels the same way but doesn’t want to say so during a political season.”

The editorial sides with Israel, and says it’s no wonder the Israelis are upset at the U.S. Administration. “It’s one thing to hear from Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that he wants to wipe you off the map: At least it has the ring of honesty. It’s quite another to hear from President Obama that he has your back, even as his Administration tries to sell to the public a make-believe world in which Iran’s nuclear intentions are potentially peaceful, sanctions are working and diplomacy hasn’t failed after three and half years.”

“The irony for the Administration is that its head-in-the-sand performance is why many Israeli decision-makers believe they had better strike sooner than later. Not only is there waning confidence that Mr. Obama is prepared to take military action on his own, but there’s also a fear that a re-elected President Obama will take a much harsher line on an Israeli attack than he would before the first Tuesday in November “.

[Return to headlines]

South Asia

NATO Suspends Training of New Afghan Recruits

NATO has suspended the training of new recruits for the Afghan security forces until a vetting process has been completed. The decision comes after a string of attacks by Afghan security forces on coalition troops.

The temporary training freeze will affect some 1,000 new police recruits, while the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) investigates Afghan troops for links to the Taliban-led insurgency.

According to the US daily The Washington Post, some 27,000 current members of the Afghan security forces are being re-vetted for links to the insurgency.

The training halt will mostly affect the Afghan Local Police (ALP), a 30,000-strong police force sponsored by the US that fights the Taliban in the remote areas of the Afghan countryside.

“We have temporarily suspended all new Afghan recruits until Afghan soldiers are investigated for ties with the insurgents,” ISAF spokesman James Graybeal said. “We are concerned about insider attacks and we are in the process of vetting Afghan troops.”

“It is an attempt by ISAF and our Afghan partners to reduce the number of insider threats,” Graybeal added.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Pakistan: Rimsha Masih Bail Hearing Adjourned

The Islamabad court will decide on bail for disabled Christian girl accused of blasphemy on September 3. The National Commission for Justice and Peace reopens the debate on education in Pakistan and denounces: in Punjab and Sindh 2012-2013, textbooks filled with hatred and false history against Hindus, Christians and people of India.

Islamabad (AsiaNews) — The bail hearing for Rimsha Masih, the Christian disabled girl arrested for blasphemy has once again been adjourned. Scheduled for today, this morning the court of Islamabad in charge of the proceedings postponed the next bail hearing to September 3. The decision follows a day after the extension of her period of pre-trial detention (14 days which ended yesterday, ed).

According to the charges brought against her, Rimsha was in possession of a few pages of a damaged book, containing verses from the Koran. According to Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, the girl faces up to life in prison. However, the defense ordered a medical report, which certified her condition as a minor (about 13 years of age) and mental disability. The prosecution, however, has disputed the results of the medical committee.

Meanwhile, the National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) has re-launched its appeal to the government to tackle the issue of education in Pakistan, and therefore has organized a conference which was attended by about 200 people, including teachers, activists , intellectuals and Christian and Muslim religious leaders. According to Peter Jacob, executive director of NCJP, “we must work to remove contents of hatred and religious intolerance towards minorities from textbooks. These are issues that, over the years, have resulted in the migration of the Hindu community. And recently, the arrest of the small girl Rimsha Masih “.

A study published by NCJP, Taleem Nafrattki Aabiyari Ya (Educate or breed hatred), reveals that 22 textbooks for primary and secondary school, which will be adopted in the school year 2012-2013 in the provinces of Punjab and Sindh, contain 55 chapters “rich” in insults against Hindus, Christians and India, in addition to obvious distortions of historical facts.

For Mehdi Hasan, a Muslim academic, “Islamic studies should not be taught in schools, moreover [textbooks] should never talk about any belief in a negative way. But now, religion has penetrated so deeply into our minds, that we have started calling trees and roads with names of the Koran. “

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni[Return to headlines]

Pakistani Imam Accused of Framing Christian Girl

Police in Pakistan have arrested a Muslim cleric on charges of planting evidence against a young Christian girl detained under the country’s anti-blasphemy law. The girl is accused of burning verses from the Koran.

Pakistani police on Sunday said that Hafiz Mohammed Khalid Chishti had been arrested after his assistants turned him in for allegedly trying to frame the young Christian girl.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Islamic Extremists Extend Control in Mali

In Mali, Islamic extremists have taken control of a key town less than 200 kilometres from the line of control held by the Malian army.

After a brief stand-off with the local militia on Saturday, the Islamic ‘Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa” (MUJAO) seized control of the strategic town of Douentza.

Douentza lies 170 kilometres from the town of Mopti, which is the last army-controlled town on the route from the capital Bamako in the south west of the country.

Islamist leader Oumar Ould Hamaha told the Associated Press news agency that the attackers had encircled Douentza and asked the local militiamen to surrender. “They tried to make phone calls to ask for reinforcements, but when they saw that no-one was coming to help them they laid down their arms,” he said.

A local teacher said there had been just nine 4x4 vehicles in the convoy.

The Islamists have developed a stronghold in the north of Mali, prompting fears the area could become a base for al-Qaeda. They are accused of organising drug smuggling and kidnappings from the regions they control.

Islamic fighters in the historic city of Timbuktu recently demolished several Sufi shrines and mosques which they regarded as idolatrous. They are also imposing strict Sharia law.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]