It’s a good think Ike is dead… else he would realize his nightmare survived. Chuck
Newsday January 13, 2011 Pg. 34
The Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex
Eisenhower warned against the influence of arms production, but did we listen?
By Bob Keeler
EXTRACT: Now, the deficit has caused some unexpected voices to say, ever so softly, that everything is on the table – including defense cuts. Last week, Gates talked about plans to slow the defense budget’s growth by $78 billion over five years. That dainty nibble is a start, but we need big bites. A group called the Sustainable Defense Task Force has laid out ways to cut $1 trillion in 10 years. That’s better.
M-Paisa: Ending Afghan Corruption, one Text at a Time
Monty Munford Oct 17, 2010
Afghanistan supplies 92% of the world’s opiates. According to the latest available figures, the country produced 8,200 tons of heroin in 2008, more than double the the amount three years earlier.
But even being the heroin capital of the world, bringing in more money than most Afghans can dream of, the on-going war and rampant corruption means the money goes to the wrong people and the country has no infrastructure. There are no decent roads, no railways… But they do have mobile phones.
Four months ago, the Afghan National Police began to pay salaries through mobiles (using a text and Interactive Voice Response system), rather than in cash. The platform used was based on the M-Pesa service that has become highly successful in Kenya. Branded M-Paisa in Afghanistan, it was introduced by the operator Roshan in partnership with the Ministry of the Interior (MOI) and had an immediate effect.
Consider the extremes. President Obama is redesigning his administration to make it even friendlier toward big business and the megabanks, which is to say the rich, who flourish no matter what is going on with the economy in this country. (They flourish even when they’re hard at work destroying the economy.) Meanwhile, we hear not a word — not so much as a peep — about the poor, whose ranks are spreading like a wildfire in a drought.
The politicians and the media behave as if the poor don’t exist. But with jobs still absurdly scarce and the bottom falling out of the middle class, the poor are becoming an ever more significant and increasingly desperate segment of the population.
How do you imagine a family of four would live if its annual income was $11,000 or less?
“A review of the Pakistani media during October 2010 indicates that there is less talk of imminent political change.” That is the rather pedestrian conclusion of a brief report (pdf) that was prepared last November by “Open Source Works,” a previously unknown initiative of the CIA Directorate of Intelligence.
Open Source Works “was charged by the Director for Intelligence with drawing on language-trained analysts to mine open-source information for new or alternative insights on intelligence issues. Open Source Works’ products, based only on open source information, do not represent the coordinated views of the Central Intelligence Agency.”
The recent report on Pakistan seems to be the first Open Source Works document to have reached public hands, though it is more of a digest of recent news and opinion than what would properly be termed an intelligence product. A copy was obtained by Secrecy News. See “Pakistan Leadership Watch: October 2010,” CIA Directorate of Intelligence, November 8, 2010.
Phi Beta Iota: In light of Chuck Spinney’s many posts on Pakistan and Afghanistan (using only English-language sources), and the reality that Pakistan is about to explode, the abyssmal limitations of this report merit gloomy note. It’s been 18 years since Joe Markowitz first got a DCID on OSINT–and this is what we have to show for it?
By Simon Johnson, co-author of 13 Bankers (out in paperback on Monday)
Baseline Scenario, 9 January 2011
The Bill Daley Problem is completely bipartisan – it shows us the White House fails to understand that, at the heart of our economy, we have a huge time bomb.
…largest U.S. banks – have far too little equity and far too much debt relative to that thin level of equity…
Today’s most dangerous government sponsored enterprises are the largest six bank holding companies: JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley.
No one can show significant social benefits from the increase in bank size, leverage, and overall riskiness over the past 15 years. The social costs of these banks – and their complete capture of the regulatory apparatus – are apparent in the worst recession and slowest recovery since the 1930s.
Phi Beta Iota: Our generous and well-intentioned philanthropists appear to be unaware that the Federal Reserve, Morgan Chase, and Citi-Bank have pulled a Bernie Maddoff on them–they think they are being “taken care of” at the very moment when everything they have worked so hard for is most vulnerable to a massive melt-down. The control of the President’s mind and time is the ultimate victory for anyone seeking to control the White House. It is “checkmate” against We the People. None of the bureaucracies in the Executive–and certainly not the so-called “intelligence community”– are capable of rescuing the President–he is a happy captive.
Phi Beta Iota: The shooting of an elected official, a judge, and multiple others in Arizona is a strong signal. It was anticipated by the book TYRANNICIDE The Story of the Second American Revolution, a work of fiction that anticipated a nation-wide spree of attacks on elected politicians now known not to represent the public interest–but we never anticipated the book being other than a cultural icon, a rhetorical call to arms. Now it is real.
This is not about “tone.” This is about substance. You can screw all of the people some of the time, some of the people all of the time, but you cannot screw all of the people all of the time. America is at an internal fork in the road. 9/11 was the rest of the world being pissed. Arizona is about the heartland being pissed. FOCUS!
Below is a RECAP of just a few of the many signals justifying public rage at the betrayal of the Republic by elected politicians selling out to Wall Street and special interests. The Nation is so out of balance that it is on the verge of imploding. Lies kill us all. Now here is the GOOD NEWS: a restoration of integrity, with transparency leading to truth and truth leading to trust, would push back the anger. The super-rich evidently do not realize this, but they are on the brink of a violent push-back when they can avoid all push-back simply by stepping back and letting the legitimacy of government be restored–one simple elegant solution: Electoral Reform (1 Page, 9 Points).
Cable from the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv says Israeli officials wanted Gaza’s economy ‘functioning at the lowest level possible consistent with avoiding a humanitarian crisis.’
Israel told U.S. officials in 2008 it would keep Gaza’s economy “on the brink of collapse” while avoiding a humanitarian crisis, according to U.S. diplomatic cables published by a Norwegian daily on Wednesday.
Three cables cited by the Aftenposten newspaper, which has said it has all 250,000 U.S. cables leaked to WikiLeaks, showed that Israel kept the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv briefed on its internationally criticized blockade of the Gaza Strip.
The territory, home to 1.3 million Palestinians, is run by the Islamist Hamas group, which is shunned by the West over its refusal to recognize Israel, renounce violence or accept existing interim Israeli-Palestinian peace deals.
“As part of their overall embargo plan against Gaza, Israeli officials have confirmed to (U.S. embassy economic officers) on multiple occasions that they intend to keep the Gazan economy on the brink of collapse without quite pushing it over the edge,” one of the cables read.
Israel wanted the coastal territory’s economy “functioning at the lowest level possible consistent with avoiding a humanitarian crisis”, according to the Nov. 3, 2008 cable.
EXTRACT: Many people claim Stoneleigh and I must be crazy, and doomers and all that, for predicting an 80%+ drop in real estate values, but we in turn can’t seem to understand why home prices would fall “only” 20% from here, or why they would fall “just” 40%, as Mish suggested for instance. We think that more than 20% is in the cards just because of the bubble coming back to earth; we think 40% is certain because of the bubble bursting, and we think 80%+ will then happen because the bursting bubble will take the entire financial system down with it. Pretty simple really.g, and it is worth reading….every single word of it.
EXTRACT: According to L. Randall Wray, lenders may have the right to collect debt on certain loans, if they can prove ownership of the loan, but they can’t foreclose unless and until they have a clear record (chain) of all transactions the loans went through, through their entire existence. And MERS effectively killed that chain.
EXTRACT: The entire US housing system, lenders, builders, borrowers, the whole thing, is in grave danger, and that means both the financial system and the economy at large are as well. We’re looking at not just one or two, but a whole series of reinforcing feedback loops. Which neither Obama nor Geithner nor Bernanke have any control over, other than fleetingly and temporarily. And that will be the story of 2011. Well, that and, of course, the euro crumbling, Japan deflating, China inflating, cities, counties and states defaulting, violent street protests, millions more Americans sinking into abject poverty, misery and hardship, and so on.
Read every word…. Phi Beta Iota: This is the best review we have found and it is chillingly credible. In our view, the Secretary of the Treasury means well but has absolutely no clue how to actually manage the US economy back to a more stable ethical state.
The Associated Press Thursday, January 6, 2011; 7:29 AM
JERUSALEM — A U.S. diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks on Thursday quoted American officials as saying a key Israeli cargo crossing for goods entering the Gaza Strip was rife with corruption.
The June 14, 2006, cable, published Thursday by Norway’s Aftenposten daily, says major American companies told U.S. diplomats they were forced to pay hefty bribes to get goods into Gaza. It was unclear whether the practice still continues.
Using terminology sometimes used in the DoD special operations community, article below conveys a strong suggestion that in organizing and staffing its operation at Khost, CIA failed to discriminate between enthusiasm and capability. Based on knowing nothing more about the case than is available to the public, there seems to be a lot to agree with in this article, which seems to get better the farther into it you read.
2. A quotation long reputed to be associated with Marine Corps Drill Instructors is, “Let’s be damned sure that no man’s ghost will ever have cause to say, ‘if your training program had only done its job.'” The obvious supposition is that you actually put people through the training program. That may not have happened here.