Monday, December 29, 2008

Gaza Strike Challenge for Obama

From Al Jazeera.
By Tom Ackerman in Washington DC
The violence in Gaza will be one of Obama's top challenges when he takes office [Reuters]

While the Gaza Strip erupted at the weekend Barack Obama remained in holiday mode in Hawaii, sticking to his regular gym routine and otherwise relaxing. The military action comes just three weeks before Obama is sworn in as president and poses a great challenge for a man who has promised to work for Middle East peace from his first day in office. But although the president-elect has received briefings on the situation, David Axelrod, Obama’s top political adviser, said it would be inappropriate for the incoming chief executive to comment while George Bush is still president.

Nevertheless, he said Obama stood by his defence of Israeli actions when he visited the southern town of Sderot last July, a frequent target of Hamas rockets. "He said then that when bombs are raining down on your citizens there is an urge to respond and act to put an end to that," Axelrod told CBS talkshow Face the Nation on Sunday. "That's what he said then, and that’s what he believes." He said Obama planned to work closely with Israel which he said was Washington's "most important ally in the region".

Critics say US support for Israel could backfire [Reuters]"They're a great ally of ours... And that is a fundamental principle from which he'll work. But he will do so in a way that will promote the cause of peace, and work closely with the Israelis and the Palestinians on that."

Like Bush, Obama has ruled out talks with Hamas for its refusal to recognise Israel. During his White House campaign, Obama pledged to further cement the US-Israeli alliance saying he would "always stand up for Israel's right to defend itself in the United Nations and around the world".Even so, critics of US Middle East policy say Obama ought to express more empathy for the Palestinians' situation.

Michael Hudson, professor of international relations at Georgetown University said that by backing Israel's position the US was opening itself up to attack. "If you're identified with an Israel that is bombing indiscriminately and disproportionately, this is really good for Osama Bin laden, it's good for extremists all across the region and I fear that Americans as well as Israelis will now suffer," he told Al Jazeera.

In contrast to the incumbent president, Obama has pledged to take an active personal role in peace efforts early in his administration. How long those efforts are waylaid by the ongoing fighting, however, is a question no one can yet answer.
Malaysia Condemns Israel's Air Strikes In Gaza
PAS rakam simpati, bantah keras kekejaman Zionis

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Malaysia Petronas Gas to call bids for new plant (IN SABAH)-report

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 27 (Reuters) - Malaysian industrial gas provider Petronas Gas (PGAS.KL) is expected to call bids for a 900 million ringgit ($258.8 million) power plant project in Sabah on Borneo early next year, the Business Times reported on Saturday, citing an unidentified source.

"Tender for the EPC (engineering, procurement and construction) contract will probably be out in March or May," the newspaper quoted the source as saying. State-owned Petronas Gas and Yayasan Sabah, the investment arm of the Sabah state government, had formalised in November a joint venture deal to develop and operate a 300-megawatt power plant in Kimanis in the district of Papar, said the newspaper. Petronas Gas was not immediately available for comment.


Bodies of Palestinians are laid out at Shifa hospital in Gaza after Israeli missile strikes. Photograph: Suhaib Salem/REUTERS

Mayhem, death and deafening destruction came to Gaza at 11.30am yesterday when Israel dropped a first wave of bombs on the Hamas security compounds it had determined to wipe off the face of the map. By the end of "Operation Solid Lead", about 60 aircraft had launched about 100 strikes and at least 205 people were reported to have been killed. It was the most devastating attack on Gaza since 1967. Black smoke billowed over the tiny strip of land as shoppers, schoolchildren, shopkeepers, workers and pedestrians ran to find shelter, emptying the streets.

Around the tightly packed city area, where several members of Hamas's security force compounds were tucked between residential buildings, sirens wailed as ambulances sped through the streets to find piles of dead bodies. Most of the dead were police officers. About 700 people had been injured, according to Hamas.

Doctors and ambulance officers rushed between buildings, ferrying the wounded they hoped to save and leaving those who had already died outside the mortuary, which was already overflowing with corpses. Said Masri sat in the middle of a Gaza City street, close to a security compound, slapping his face, covering his head with dust from the bombed-out building and wailing: "My son is gone, my son is gone." The shopkeeper said he had sent his nine-year-old son out to buy cigarettes minutes before the air strikes began and now could not find him. "May I burn like the cigarettes, may Israel burn," he shouted. Some of the air strikes happened as children were leaving school, causing panic in the streets.

The hospitals overflowed. One doctor at Shifa hospital, Gaza's main treatment centre, said: "We are treating people on the floor, in the corridors. We have no more space. We don't know who is here and what the priority is to treat." Earlier in the week, as a consequence of Israel's 18-month-long blockade of Gaza, some hospitals had announced that they would be restricted to performing emergency operations only. As the casualties lined corridors and wards, it was clear that medical resources had long since been stretched beyond breaking point. Shifa's hospital, which stumbles along on an erratic electricity supply and a severe shortage of medications, surgical equipment, dilapidated machinery and inadequate supplies of food, disinfectants and cleaning products, was heaving with dead bodies and injured.

On Friday, there had been the false promise of at least a relative return to normality. Israel reopened crossings into Gaza to let in a humanitarian shipment of food and fuel. Yesterday many Palestinians sent their children to school and went about their daily business. But the signs from Israel had been ominous. In Cairo the Israeli foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, had described the daily launching of rockets by Hamas across the border as "unbearable". Seven thousand have been launched at nearby Israeli towns since army barracks and settlements were withdrawn from Gaza in 2005. Up until yesterday, Gazan militants had killed 16 Israeli civilians living in southern Israeli towns, since they began launching rockets in 2001.

Yesterday that death toll rose by one when militants fired about 20 rockets, a relatively low number compared with earlier in the week, when they bombarded the Negev desert areas with more than 70 in a day. One man in Netivot was killed and several more injured. "No country in the world can or would tolerate the ongoing security situation in the Gaza area," said Israeli military spokesman Benjamin Rutland.

The Israeli media had been predicting a military action early this week. In the event, Israel's patience had run out earlier than that. While Gaza cowered under the ferocious double wave of attacks, Israeli citizens on the other side of the border applauded what they saw as an act of justice and revenge against Hamas. David Buskliah, the mayor of Sderot, said: "I'm proud to be an Israeli today. I lend my full support to the commanders of the Israeli Defence Force in their campaign to put an end to eight years of attacks to innocent men, women and children. I hope that their actions today help return peace to my town and the neighbouring communities."

Others were more circumspect, taking to shelters after being warned by the military that this was just the beginning of a larger operation. The Home Front Command ordered residents in Sderot and the Gaza periphery within a 20-kilometre radius of the Strip to stay inside reinforced saferooms for as long as possible.

Israeli police were also put on a state of high alert in Israeli Arab towns, where already simmering racial tensions were likely to reach boiling point in the wake of yesterday's attacks. A Hamas response seems inevitable. "I don't believe in ceasefires, I think Palestinians should respond," said Mohammed Omer, a 29-year-old teacher who was rushing to donate blood at the Shifa hospital.

Tempers flared around the Arab world after the Israeli assault, and sympathy for the Gazans was running unusually strong. The Arab League said it would convene an emergency meeting to put pressure on the international community to halt further attacks. Egypt, which has kept its border with Gaza closed, effectively reinforcing Israel's blockade, said it would open its frontiers to the wounded, despite sending security reinforcements to stop Palestinians from trying to break out of the besieged territory in case of an attack.

In Jordan and Beirut, people took to the streets denouncing the attacks and called on the international community to stop further Israeli aggression. In Ramallah in the West Bank, home to the US-backed Palestinian Authority, which opposes Hamas's rule of Gaza, protesters called for unity talks between Hamas and its rival group, Fatah. The violence, from both sides, may have only just begun.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Kapar MP Manikavasagam to quit PKR

Kapar MP Manikavasagam to quit PKR

PETALING JAYA: The year 2008, which was full off political fireworks, is expected to end with another big bang — with an MP from PKR quitting the party by New Year’s Day.

The representative from Kapar, S. Manikavasagam, told mStar Online that he was quitting because he was disappointed with the attitude of Selangor PKR leaders, who he claimed had neglected the needs of the people. He also cited in-fighting among the state leaders as a reason. He is expected to make the official announcement before Wednesday.

“I have made up my mind and it’s final. I’m not joking and I’m very serious this time,” said Manikavasagam, 43. “This decision is indeed a firm action and it will be my New Year ‘gift’ to the party,” he said. He had expressed his intention to do so a few days ago, saying that it was what certain quarters had wished for. “This time around, I’m taking firm action,” he said. Manikavasagam is also a member of PKR’s supreme council and one of its Selangor liaison deputy chairmen.

Kapar MP free to go, says Khalid
PETALING JAYA: Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim has taken a hard stand on S. Manika­vasagam’s threat to quit PKR, saying the Kapar MP was free to do so........
'Ahli Parlimen Kapar patut tanding semula'
SHAH ALAM: Ahli Parlimen Kapar, S Manikavasagam yang berhasrat keluar daripada Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) sepatutnya mengosongkan kerusi berkenaan dan bertanding semula pada pilihan raya kecil sebagai calon bebas. Presiden Pas, Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang ketika ditemui selepas merasmikan kempen `Jom Sertai Pas’ di sini, semalam, berkata Manikavasagam tidak sepatutnya mengkhianati rakyat kerana beliau dipilih atas tiket PKR.
PKR dipersalah


Apakah Pensiangan akan jadi Pertarungan hebat lebih dari dua penjuru? Apakah Tan Sri Joseph Kurup akan dipertaruhkan oleh BN sekali lagi? Ke mana arah Bernard Maraat, Bekas MP Pensiangan, dan Bekas Calon Keadilan, Danny Anthony Andipai, yang memenangi patition Piliharaya Pensiangan? Apakah Datuk Dr. Jefrey akan mengulangi nasibnya di Kawasan Parlimen Marudu jika dia diletakkan oleh KeADILan sebagai calon?
Penamaan Calon Bagi Pilihanraya Kecil Parliment Kuala Terangganu akan diadakan pada 17 Januari, 2009 dan pengudian akan dilakukan sepuluh hari selepas penamaan calon.

Selepas Pilihanraya kecil di Kuala Terangganu itu, Pilihanraya Kecil Parliment Kawasan P.182-Pensiangan, Sabah akan menyusul kiranya keputusan rayuan TJK akan ditolak oleh Mahkamah Persekutuan.

Sudah menjadi asam garam dan sepak terajang politik, menonjolkan diri agar dipilih sebagai calon yang bertanding dan mewakili parti sedang rancak dilakukan samada terang-terangan atau "bertapuk-tapuk" sebagai persediaan awal. Yang pasti kegiatan melobi calon sedang berjalan dengan lancar.

Cakap-cakap bahawa SAPP akan meletakkan calonnya di Pensiangan agak sukar menjadi kenyataan. Namun yang hampir pasti, SAPP akan membantu calon Pembangkang yakni KeADILan. Itulah yang lebih nyata. BN akan berhadapan dengan KeADILan di Pensiangan. SAPP pasti akan membantu melawan BN.

Melihat kepada senario politik semasa yang menghairahkan, pasti akan ada calon-calon dari parti-parti lain ataupun "Bebas".Nama-nama yang sering disebut-sebut seperi Tan Sri Joseph Kurup, Datuk Dr, Jefrey Kitingan, Bernard Maraat, Danny Anthony Andipai, konon akan bakal bertarung. Namun teka-teki hanya akan terjawab selepas penamaan calon nanti (kiranya rayuan TJK gagal).

Parti Utama BN dan PR perlu berhati-hati agar nama-nama "besar" dalam komponen masing- masing tidak terkilan dan bertanding menentang mereka. Perkara ini akan menjadi sebagai kayu pengukur awal kepada kebarangkalian kekecundangan parti dalam merebut wakil bagi mengisi Kerusi MP Pensiangan.

Parti Utama BN dan PR perlu berhati-hati agar nama-nama "besar" dalam komponen masing-masing tidak terkilan dan bertanding menentang mereka. Perkara ini akan menjadi sebagai kayu pengukur awal kepada kebarangkalian kekecundangan parti dalam merebut wakil bagi mengisi Kerusi MP Pensiangan.
Kurup to know result of appeal on Jan 7

The Federal Court is scheduled to rule on Jan 7 whether to accept or dismiss an appeal filed by Rural and Regional Development Deputy Minister Tan Sri Joseph Kurup after the High Court here declared his election as Pensiangan Member of Parliament null and void.

Kurup said he was informed by lawyer Alexander Decena that the Federal Court in Putrajaya is expected to deliver a ruling on that date, following an appeal he submitted on Sept 11, three days after the High Court here ruled in favour of a petition filed by Parti Keadilan Rakyat's Danny Anthony Andipai who was denied the opportunity to contest although he arrived at the nomination centre on time.


Saturday, December 20, 2008

George W. Bu-Shoes, "Victim" of Iraq's "WMD".

George W. Bu-Shoes, "Victim" of Iraq's "WMD". CRG E-Newsletter‏
From: (
Sent: Friday, 19 Dec, 2008 12: 16 PM
George W. Bu-Shoes, The US President "Victim" of Iraq's "Weapons of Mass Destruction"
By Michel Chossudovsky
URL of this article:

Global Research, December 17, 2008

FIRST SHOE: ''This is a gift from the Iraqis; this is the farewell kiss, you dog!''

SECOND SHOE: ''This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq!'' ( Muntadar al-Zaidi),

For the Western media, the Bush-Shoe incident is casually described as a failure of Green Zone security. The substance of the press conference is barely mentioned, namely that Bush had travelled to Baghdad to sign the Strategic Framework Agreement and Security Agreement. The latter allows US troops to remain in Iraq until 2011. The Press Conference was to announce the signing of these far-reaching agreements.

I'd like to welcome the President of the United States, President George W. Bush. I would like to welcome you here as a guest. You have stood by Iraq and the Iraqi people for a very long time, starting with the -- getting rid of the dictatorship, helping the Iraqis to fight terrorism.

Your visit today to Iraq, Mr. President, comes after the signing of the agreement between the two countries, which represents -- (audio drop) -- foundation and draws a road map that will govern and guide the relationship between the two states. (Prime Minister Maliki opening remarks)

The BBC described the incident as "violence" directed against the US president, Why did he not ask tough questions instead of throwing his shoes?

Most commentators see it as beyond doubt that the treatment meted out to Mr Bush by Iraqi journalist Muntadar al-Zaidi is a just response to the president's policies in Iraq, although one chides the shoe-thrower for expressing his protest through violence rather than "tough questions". (BBC, December 15, emphasis added)

The nature of the US military intervention and the crimes committed by allied forces are carefully avoided .

The Global and Mail, describes the incident as "a disgrace to journalism":

"he [Zaidi] is a disgrace to his profession and should be fired by his employer. The fact that he has not been dismissed, and is instead being treated as a martyr by the television company he works for, says a great deal about its standards of journalism.

To its shame, Al Baghdadia has not only failed to apologize, or to discipline or fire Mr. Zaidi, who is being held in an Iraqi jail over the attempted assault, but instead posted his photo on its website and attacked the government for holding him. To their shame, organizations that work to protect journalists and free expression internationally, like Reporters Without Borders, failed to condemn the attempted assault, an act that could have ramifications for the ability of journalists in Iraq, and elsewhere, to do their job.

Shame on the Globe and Mail, which has failed to report on the atrocities and crimes committed by allied forces in the Iraq war theater, including the targeted assassinations of journalists.

Al Zaidi is facing seven years imprisonment. He is accused by the Iraqi government of a "barbaric and ignominious act," ( as if the US led humanitarian invasion was not ignominious). The Western media consensus is a "disgrace to journalism":

Iraqi authorities have not charged Zaidi, but they have arrested him for "his aggressive actions against an official and a visitor of the Iraqi government," Yaseen Majeed, a top media adviser to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, said in a statement. Majeed called Zaidi "a disgrace to journalism" and said he would be handed over to the Iraqi justice system for punishment.

Munqeth al-Faroon, an Iraqi court official, said Zaidi could be sentenced to up to seven years in prison for insulting the nation's leader. On Sunday, at a news conference held by Maliki and Bush, Zaidi threw his shoes, one after the other, at the U.S. president, shouting, "This is a farewell kiss!" As Iraqi security guards converged on Zaidi, he yelled: "Dog! Dog!" (Washington Post, Dec 15)

The BBC also dismisses the protest movement in Iraq, following the arrest of Zaidi, describing it as an initiative of Shiite factionalism:

Correspondents say the protesters are supporters of Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr - a leading critic of the US presence in Iraq. Smaller protests were reported in Basra and Najaf.

An Iraqi official was quoted by the Associated Press as saying that the journalist was being interrogated to determine whether anybody paid him to throw his shoes at President Bush.

He was also being tested for alcohol and drugs, and his shoes were being held as evidence, said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

(BBC, December 15, 2008)

The New York Times in a convoluted report points to resentment by Iraqis opposed to Al Qaeda. The insinuation is that al Zaidi is somehow connected to the terrorists. And those who are opposed to Al Qaada, quite rightfully believe that al Zaidi is a "bad journalist":

A number of Iraqis said they were dismayed by what Mr. Zaidi had done. Ahmad Abu Risha, the head of the Awakening Council in Anbar Province, a group of tribal leaders that started a wave of popular opposition to fighters linked to Al Qaeda, condemned the move.

''The American president is the guest of all Iraqis,'' he said. ''The Iraqi government has to choose good journalists to attend such conferences.'' (NYT, December 16, 2008)

Al-Zaidi has been beaten up, he has a broken hand, broken ribs as well as internal bleeding.

On December 16, according to US military sources, he was taken out of police custody and handed over to the Iraqi military command, which is tantamount to handing him over to US "interrogators".

The Iraqi Ministry of Defense denies that he is in the hands of the Iraqi military.

US intelligence agents together with Iraqi security guards were directly involved in the arrest and beating of al Zaidi, which resulted in serious injuries :

The U.S. Secret Service yesterday defended its agents' response to an Iraqi journalist who threw a pair of shoes at President Bush during a Baghdad news conference, saying that they acted with the proper balance of aggressiveness and restraint. (WP, December 16, 2008, emphasis added)

Bush made the following remarks following the incident:

"It didn't bother me, and if you want the facts it was a size 10 shoe he threw at me... That's what happens in free societies when people try to draw attention to themselves." (emphasis added)

The BBC report says that Al Zaidi "appeared before an investigating judge and "admitted the action he carried out", a High Judicial Council spokesman said."

Other reports state that an Iraqi judge visited Muntadhar Al-Zeidi in jail. "His brother Durgham Zeidi alleged the reporter must have been too severely injured to appear in the courtroom." (Mirror, December 17, 2008)
Let them pay for the privilege of tossing shoes at Bush

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Federal Reserve sets stage for Hyperinflation. CRG-E Newsletter‏
From: (
Wednesday, 17 Dec, 2008 9: 07 AM

Federal Reserve sets stage for Weimar-style Hyperinflation
By F. William Engdahl
URL of this article:
Global Research, December 15, 2008
The Federal Reserve has bluntly refused a request by a major US financial news service to disclose the recipients of more than $2 trillion of emergency loans from US taxpayers and to reveal the assets the central bank is accepting as collateral. Their lawyers resorted to the bizarre argument that they did so to protect 'trade secrets.' Is the secret that the US financial system is de facto bankrupt? The latest Fed move is further indication of the degree of panic and lack of clear strategy within the highest ranks of the US financial institutions. Unprecedented Federal Reserve expansion of the Monetary Base in recent weeks sets the stage for a future Weimar-style hyperinflation perhaps before 2010.

On November 7 Bloomberg filed suit under the US Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requesting details about the terms of eleven new Federal Reserve lending programs created during the deepening financial crisis.

The Fed responded on December 8 claiming it's allowed to withhold internal memos as well as information about 'trade secrets' and 'commercial information.' The central bank did confirm that a records search found 231 pages of documents pertaining to the requests.

The Bernanke Fed in recent weeks has stepped in to take a role that was the original purpose of the Treasury's $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). The difference between a Fed bailout of troubled financial institutions and a Treasury bailout is that central bank loans do not have the oversight safeguards that Congress imposed upon the TARP. Perhaps those are the 'trade secrets the hapless Fed Chairman,Ben Bernanke, is so jealously guarding from the public.

Coming hyperinflation?

The total of such emergency Fed lending exceeded $2 trillion on Nov. 6. It had risen by an astonishing 138 percent, or $1.23 trillion, in the 12 weeks since Sept. 14, when central bank governors relaxed collateral standards to accept securities that weren't rated AAA. They did so knowing that on the following day a dramatic shock to the financial system would occur because they, in concert with the Bush Administration, had decided to let it occur.

On September 15 Bernanke, New York Federal Reserve President, Tim Geithner, the new Obama Treasury Secretary-designate, along with the Bush Administration, agreed to let the fourth largest investment bank, Lehman Brothers, go bankrupt, defaulting on untold billions worth of derivatives and other obligations held by investors around the world. That event, as is now widely accepted, triggered a global systemic financial panic as it was no longer clear to anyone what standards the US Government was using to decide which institutions were 'too big to fail' and which not. Since then the US Treasury Secretary has reversed his policies on bank bailouts repeatedly leading many to believe Henry Paulson and the Washington Administration along with the Fed have lost control.

In response to the deepening crisis, the Bernanke Fed has decided to expand what is technically called the Monetary Base, defined as total bank reserves plus cash in circulation, the basis for potential further high-powered bank lending into the economy. Since the Lehman Bros. default, this money expansion rose dramatically by end October at a year-year rate of growth of 38%, has been without precedent in the 95 year history of the Federal Reserve since its creation in 1913. The previous high growth rate, according to US Federal Reserve data, was 28% in September 1939, as the US was building up industry for the evolving war in Europe.

By the first week of December, that expansion of the monetary base had jumped to a staggering 76% rate in just 3 months. It has gone from $836 billion in December 2007 when the crisis appeared contained, to $1,479 billion in December 2008, an explosion of 76% year-on-year. Moreover, until September 2008, the month of the Lehman Brothers collapse, the Federal Reserve had held the expansion of the Monetary Base virtually flat. The 76% expansion has almost entirely taken place within the past three months, which implies an annualized expansion rate of more than 300%.

Despite this, banks do not lend further, meaning the US economy is in a depression free-fall of a scale not seen since the 1930's. Banks do not lend in large part because under Basle BIS lending rules, they must set aside 8% of their capital against the value of any new commercial loans. Yet the banks have no idea how much of the mortgage and other troubled securities they own are likely to default in the coming months, forcing them to raise huge new sums of capital to remain solvent. It's far 'safer' as they reason to pass on their toxic waste assets to the Fed in return for earning interest on the acquired Treasury paper they now hold. Bank lending is risky in a depression.

Hence the banks exchange $2 trillion of presumed toxic waste securities consisting of Asset-Backed Securities in sub-prime mortgages, stocks and other high-risk credits in exchange for Federal Reserve cash and US Treasury bonds or other Government securities rated (still) AAA, i.e. risk-free. The result is that the Federal Reserve is holding some $2 trillion in largely junk paper from the financial system. Borrowers include Lehman Brothers, Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase, the US's largest bank by assets. Banks oppose any release of information because that might signal 'weakness' and spur short-selling or a run by depositors.

Making the situation even more drastic is the banking model used first by US banks beginning in the late 1970's for raising deposits, namely the acquiring of 'wholesale deposits' by borrowing from other banks on the overnight interbank market. The collapse in confidence since the Lehman Bros. default is so extreme that no bank anywhere, dares trust any other bank enough to borrow. That leaves only traditional retail deposits from private and corporate savings or checking accounts.

To replace wholesale deposits with retail deposits is a process that in the best of times will take years, not weeks. Understandably, the Federal Reserve does not want to discuss this. That is clearly also behind their blunt refusal to reveal the nature of their $2 trillion assets acquired from member banks and other financial institutions. Simply put, were the Fed to reveal to the public precisely what 'collateral' they held from the banks, the public would know the potential losses that the government may take.

Congress is demanding more transparency from the Federal Reserve and US Treasury on its bailout lending. On December 10 in Congressional hearings by the House Financial Services Committee, Representative David Scott, a Georgia Democrat, said Americans had 'been bamboozled,' slang for defrauded.

Hiccups and Hurricanes

Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said in September they would meet congressional demands for transparency in a $700 billion bailout of the banking system. The Freedom of Information Act obliges federal agencies to make government documents available to the press and public.

In early December the Congress oversight agency, GAO, issued its first mandated review of the lending of the US Treasury's $700 billion TARP program (Troubled Asset Relief Program). The review noted that in 30 days since the program began, Henry Paulson's office had handed out $150 billion of taxpayer money to financial institutions with no effective accountability of how the money is being used. It seems Henry Paulson's Treasury has indeed thrown a giant 'tarp' over the entire taxpayer bailout.

Further adding to the troubles in the world's former financial Mecca, the US Congress, acting on largely ideological grounds, shocked the financial system when it refused to give even a meager $14 billion emergency loan to the Big Three automakers-General Motors, Chrysler and Ford.

While it is likely that the Treasury will extend emergency credit to the companies until January 20 or until the newly elected Congress can consider a new plan, the prospect of a chain-reaction bankruptcy collapse of the three giant companies is very near. What is being left out of the debate is that those three companies account for a combined 25% of all US corporate bonds outstanding. They are held by private pension funds, mutual funds, banks and others. If the auto parts suppliers of the Big Three are included, an estimated $1 trillion of corporate bonds are now at risk of chain-reaction default. Such a bankruptcy failure could trigger a financial catastrophe which would make what has happened since Lehman Bros. appear as a mere hiccup in a hurricane.

As well, the Federal Reserve's panic actions since September, by their explosive expansion of the monetary base, has set the stage for a Zimbabwe-style hyperinflation. The new money is not being 'sterilized' by offsetting actions by the Fed, a highly unusual move indicating their desperation. Prior to September the Fed's infusions of money were sterilized, making the potential inflation effect 'neutral.'

Defining a Very Great Depression

That means once banks begin finally to lend again, perhaps in a year or so, that will flood the US economy with liquidity in the midst of a deflationary depression. At that point or perhaps well before, the dollar will collapse as foreign holders of US Treasury bonds and other assets run. That will not be pleasant as the result would be a sharp appreciation in the Euro and a crippling effect on exports in Germany and elsewhere should the nations of the EU and other non-dollar countries such as Russia, OPEC members and, above all, China not have arranged a new zone of stabilization apart from the dollar.

The world faces the greatest financial and economic challenges in history in coming months. The incoming Obama Administration faces a choice of literally nationalizing the credit system to insure a flow of credit to the real economy over the next 5 to 10 years, or face an economic Armageddon that will make the 1930's appear a mild recession by comparison.

Leaving aside what appears to have been blatant political manipulation by the present US Administration of key economic data prior to the November election in a vain attempt to downplay the scale of the economic crisis in progress, the figures are unprecedented. For the week ended December 6 initial jobless claims rose to the highest level since November 1982. More than four million workers remained on unemployment, also the most since 1982 and in November US companies cut jobs at the fastest rate in 34 years. Some 1,900,000 US jobs have vanished so far in 2008.

As a matter of relevance, 1982, for those with long memories, was the depth of what was then called the Volcker Recession. Paul Volcker, a Chase Manhattan appendage of the Rockefeller family, had been brought down from New York to apply his interest rate 'shock therapy' to the US economy in order as he put it, 'to squeeze inflation out of the economy.' He squeezed far more as the economy went into severe recession, and his high interest rate policy detonated what came to be called the Third World Debt Crisis. The same Paul Volcker has just been named by Barack Obama as chairman-designate of the newly formed President's Economic Recovery Advisory Board, hardly grounds for cheer.

The present economic collapse across the United States is driven by the collapse of the $3 trillion market for high-risk sub-prime and Alt-A home mortgages. Fed Chairman Bernanke is on record stating that the worst should be over by end of December. Nothing could be farther from the truth, as he well knows. The same Bernanke stated in October 2005 that there was 'no housing bubble to go bust.' So much for the predictive quality of that Princeton economist. The widely-used S&P Schiller-Case US National Home Price Index showed a 17% year-year drop in the third Quarter, trend rising. By some estimates it will take another five to seven years to see US home prices reach bottom. In 2009 as interest rate resets on some $1 trillion worth of Alt-A US home mortgages begin to kick in, the rate of home abandonments and foreclosures will explode. Little in any of the so-called mortgage amelioration programs offered to date reach the vast majority affected. That process in turn will accelerate as millions of Americans lose their jobs in the coming months.

John Williams of the widely-respected Shadow Government Statistics report, recently published a definition of Depression, a term that was deliberately dropped after World War II from the economic lexicon as an event not repeatable. Since then all downturns have been termed 'recessions.' Williams explained to me that some years ago he went to great lengths interviewing the respective US economic authorities at the Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis and at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), as well as numerous private sector economists, to come up with a more precise definition of 'recession,' 'depression' and 'great depression.' His is pretty much the only attempt to give a more precise definition to these terms.
What he came up with was first the official NBER definition of recession: Two or more consecutive quarters of contracting real GDP, or measures of payroll employment and industrial production. A depression is a recession in which the peak-to-bottom growth contraction is greater than 10% of the GDP. A Great Depression is one in which the peak-to-bottom contraction, according to Williams, exceeds 25% of GDP.

In the period from August 1929 until he left office President Herbert Hoover oversaw a 43-month long contraction of the US economy of 33%. Barack Obama looks set to break that record, to preside over what historians could likely call the Very Great Depression of 2008-2014, unless he finds a new cast of financial advisers before Inauguration Day, January 20. Required are not recycled New York Fed presidents, Paul Volckers or Larry Summers types. Needed is a radically new strategy to put virtually the entire United States economy into some form of an emergency 'Chapter 11' bankruptcy reorganization where banks take write-offs of up to 90% on their toxic assets, that, in order to save the real economy for the American population and the rest of the world. Paper money can be shredded easily. Not human lives. In the process it might be time for Congress to consider retaking the Federal Reserve into the Federal Government as the Constitution originally specified, and make the entire process easier for all. If this sounds extreme, perhaps revisit this article in six months again.

F. William Engdahl is author of A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order (Pluto Press) and Seeds of Destruction: The Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation ( His newest book, Full Spectrum Dominance: Totalitarian Democracy in the New World Order (Third Millennium Press) is due out early in 2009.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Obama's "Coalition of the Willing" against Iran

Obama's "Coalition of the Willing" against Iran CRG E-Newsletter‏
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Sent:Thursday, 20 Nov, 2008 1: 02 PM

Obama’s "Coalition of the Willing" Against Iran?
Continuity rather than Change in US Foreign Policy
By Ali Fathollah-Nejad
URL of this article: Global Research,

November 20, 2008
A Mere Atmospheric Change in Obama’s Foreign Policy: U.S. London-Based Pundits See Rather Continuity Than Change

LONDON – After Barack Obama’s victory in the U.S. presidential elections last week, discussions about what direction an Obama/Biden Administration is likely to follow are gaining momentum.

Invited by the London Middle East Institute (LMEI) on 11 November to speak about the foreign policy of the next U.S. administration, the London-based American analyst Jonathan Paris anticipated an Obama foreign policy much in line with the one of the current Bush administration.

The main areas of concern, he asserted, would be Afghanistan, Iraq, and Iran. Focusing extensively on the latter, Paris said that sanctions will be kept up with even the aim of aggravating those. Meanwhile, one should not "beg" Russia to join the efforts by the P5+1 – i.e. the five permanent UN Security Council members and Germany – to increase pressure on Iran. Rather would it suffice to wait for Russia to join an anti-Iran "coalition of the willing." Moscow has so far been reluctant to Washington’s insistence to impose further sanctions on Tehran. According to Paris, who like Norman Podhoretz is an adjunct fellow at the neoconservative U.S. think-tank Hudson Institute, Washington’s overall goal would be to "win over" Russia so to avoid any opposition to its preferred policies.

Drawing on Obama’s campaign announcement to enter into direct negotiations with Iran, Paris stressed that this would test the Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei’s willingness to come along. Although proponents of a thus-designed "overture" vis-à-vis Tehran expect the Iranian leadership to repudiate, other experts point out that such an outcome is far from obvious with the Iranians being seriously interested in normalizing ties with the United States. Paris reiterated that Israel could only attack Iran with U.S. support.

Paris, a Middle East fellow with the Council on Foreign Relations in New York from 1995 to 2000, stated that other spotlights would be Pakistan – which he described as constituting the "prize" –, "the most pivotal state in the Middle East," Egypt, with President Hosni Mubarak’s succession pending, and Iraq where "corruption" of the Baghdad government would be the core problem without mentioning Obama’s promise to withdraw occupation forces there. While tackling the so-called "rogue states," of course China would be a central focal point for Washington’s foreign policies, Paris added.

Multilateralism "Yes," Multipolarity "Not So Fast"!

Paris, who is also a member of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) in London, classified a future president Obama opting for "cooptation" rather than confrontation, a characteristic attributed to the Bush Administration. While he approved multilateralism, he cautioned against multipolarity whose dawn he commented with occurring "not so fast."

He described the decision-making process of the forthcoming administration to be "bottom-up," implying that Obama will be very much acting upon advise given to him. Paris conceded that only "atmospheric change" would come during an Obama presidency.

A few days earlier on 5 November, Mark Fitzpatrick, at a panel on "nuclear futures after the U.S. elections" at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London, stated that establishing a weapons-of-mass-destruction free zone in the Middle East could not be found among the top-ten list of an Obama administration. Fitzpatrick, an American senior fellow for non-proliferation at the IISS, said that the main obstacle to launching a regional conference to such an end would be the lack of "mutual recognition" between Israel and Iran. However, he did not mention Iran’s "grand bargain" offer of spring 2003 to the U.S. which inter alia included a de facto recognition of the state of Israel. Washington at that time ignored this remarkable Iranian overture that included Tehran’s willingness to settle all controversial issues in U.S.–Iran relations.[1]

Fitzpatrick presaged that a future president Obama would command U.S. marines in the Persian Gulf to start communicating with the Iranian navy in order to avoid any confrontation provoked by misperceptions. In terms of nuclear disarmament, he proposed that in the first 100 days of the new administration, the U.S. could de-alert the status of its nuclear arsenal, but preferably doing so only when Russia acts likewise.

In sum, both London-based U.S. analysts did not signal any change of an Obama administration’s foreign policy stance especially when compared to the Bush administration’s second term. Their remarks implied that the U.S. National Security Strategy (NSS) of 2002 and 2005 which formed the basis of President George W. Bush’ s foreign policy agenda and which included the Bush/Wolfowitz preventive strike doctrine would not be revised. According to veteran U.S. Middle East expert William R. Polk the removal of the George W. Bush’s NSS, which "threatens Iran with destruction," would be an absolute prerequisite for any serious change in Washington’s world policy.[2] The American pundits rather upheld the belief that there will be continuity in Washington’s strategic outlines and actual policies with Obama and that the only change that could be expected will occur in terms of rhetoric.
Global Research, 16 October.

Ali Fathollah-Nejad (M.Sc. cum laude, M.A., B.Sc., B.A.) was educated in bi-national study programs in France (Sciences-Po Lille), Germany (U Münster) and the Netherlands (U Twente) covering the fields of political science, sociology, law, history, and economics. His current main areas of research are U.S. and EU policies vis-à-vis Iran and the new geography of power in the 21st century.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Afghanistan, Another Untold Story.

Afghanistan, Another Untold Story. CRG E-Newsletter‏
From: (
Sent: Sunday, 7 Dec, 2008 3: 37 PM

URL of this article:
Global Research, December 4, 2008

Obama is on record as advocating a military escalation in Afghanistan. Before sinking any deeper into that quagmire, we might do well to learn something about recent Afghan history and the role played by the United States. Less than a month after the 11 September 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, US leaders began an all-out aerial assault upon Afghanistan, the country purportedly harboring Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda terrorist organization. More than twenty years earlier, in 1980, the United States intervened to stop a Soviet “invasion” of that country. Even some leading progressive writers, who normally take a more critical view of US policy abroad, treated the US intervention against the Soviet-supported government as “a good thing.” The actual story is not such a good thing.Some Real HistorySince feudal times the landholding system in Afghanistan had remained unchanged, with more than 75 percent of the land owned by big landlords who comprised only 3 percent of the rural population. In the mid-1960s, democratic revolutionary elements coalesced to form the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

In 1973, the king was deposed, but the government that replaced him proved to be autocratic, corrupt, and unpopular. It in turn was forced out in 1978 after a massive demonstration in front of the presidential palace, and after the army intervened on the side of the demonstrators.The military officers who took charge invited the PDP to form a new government under the leadership of Noor Mohammed Taraki, a poet and novelist. This is how a Marxist-led coalition of national democratic forces came into office. “It was a totally indigenous happening. Not even the CIA blamed the USSR for it,” writes John Ryan, a retired professor at the University of Winnipeg, who was conducting an agricultural research project in Afghanistan at about that time. The Taraki government proceeded to legalize labor unions, and set up a minimum wage, a progressive income tax, a literacy campaign, and programs that gave ordinary people greater access to health care, housing, and public sanitation. Fledgling peasant cooperatives were started and price reductions on some key foods were imposed.

The government also continued a campaign begun by the king to emancipate women from their age-old tribal bondage. It provided public education for girls and for the children of various tribes. A report in the San Francisco Chronicle (17 November 2001) noted that under the Taraki regime Kabul had been “a cosmopolitan city. Artists and hippies flocked to the capital. Women studied agriculture, engineering and business at the city’s university. Afghan women held government jobs—-in the 1980s, there were seven female members of parliament. Women drove cars, traveled and went on dates. Fifty percent of university students were women.” The Taraki government moved to eradicate the cultivation of opium poppy. Until then Afghanistan had been producing more than 70 percent of the opium needed for the world’s heroin supply. The government also abolished all debts owed by farmers, and began developing a major land reform program.

Ryan believes that it was a “genuinely popular government and people looked forward to the future with great hope.” But serious opposition arose from several quarters. The feudal landlords opposed the land reform program that infringed on their holdings. And tribesmen and fundamentalist mullahs vehemently opposed the government’s dedication to gender equality and the education of women and children.Because of its egalitarian and collectivist economic policies the Taraki government also incurred the opposition of the US national security state. Almost immediately after the PDP coalition came to power, the CIA, assisted by Saudi and Pakistani military, launched a large scale intervention into Afghanistan on the side of the ousted feudal lords, reactionary tribal chieftains, mullahs, and opium traffickers. A top official within the Taraki government was Hafizulla Amin, believed by many to have been recruited by the CIA during the several years he spent in the United States as a student.

In September 1979, Amin seized state power in an armed coup. He executed Taraki, halted the reforms, and murdered, jailed, or exiled thousands of Taraki supporters as he moved toward establishing a fundamentalist Islamic state. But within two months, he was overthrown by PDP remnants including elements within the military. It should be noted that all this happened before the Soviet military intervention. National security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski publicly admitted--months before Soviet troops entered the country--that the Carter administration was providing huge sums to Muslim extremists to subvert the reformist government. Part of that effort involved brutal attacks by the CIA-backed mujahideen against schools and teachers in rural areas. In late 1979, the seriously besieged PDP government asked Moscow to send a contingent of troops to help ward off the mujahideen (Islamic guerrilla fighters) and foreign mercenaries, all recruited, financed, and well-armed by the CIA. The Soviets already had been sending aid for projects in mining, education, agriculture, and public health.

Deploying troops represented a commitment of a more serious and politically dangerous sort. It took repeated requests from Kabul before Moscow agreed to intervene militarily.Jihad and Taliban, CIA StyleThe Soviet intervention was a golden opportunity for the CIA to transform the tribal resistance into a holy war, an Islamic jihad to expel the godless communists from Afghanistan. Over the years the United States and Saudi Arabia expended about $40 billion on the war in Afghanistan. The CIA and its allies recruited, supplied, and trained almost 100,000 radical mujahideen from forty Muslim countries including Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Algeria, and Afghanistan itself. Among those who answered the call was Saudi-born millionaire right-winger Osama bin Laden and his cohorts. After a long and unsuccessful war, the Soviets evacuated the country in February 1989. It is generally thought that the PDP Marxist government collapsed immediately after the Soviet departure. Actually, it retained enough popular support to fight on for another three years, outlasting the Soviet Union itself by a year.Upon taking over Afghanistan, the mujahideen fell to fighting among themselves. They ravaged the cities, terrorized civilian populations, looted, staged mass executions, closed schools, raped thousands of women and girls, and reduced half of Kabul to rubble.

In 2001 Amnesty International reported that the mujahideen used sexual assault as “a method of intimidating vanquished populations and rewarding soldiers.’”Ruling the country gangster-style and looking for lucrative sources of income, the tribes ordered farmers to plant opium poppy. The Pakistani ISI, a close junior partner to the CIA, set up hundreds of heroin laboratories across Afghanistan. Within two years of the CIA’s arrival, the Pakistan-Afghanistan borderland became the biggest producer of heroin in the world.Largely created and funded by the CIA, the mujahideen mercenaries now took on a life of their own. Hundreds of them returned home to Algeria, Chechnya, Kosovo, and Kashmir to carry on terrorist attacks in Allah’s name against the purveyors of secular “corruption.”

In Afghanistan itself, by 1995 an extremist strain of Sunni Islam called the Taliban---heavily funded and advised by the ISI and the CIA and with the support of Islamic political parties in Pakistan---fought its way to power, taking over most of the country, luring many tribal chiefs into its fold with threats and bribes. The Taliban promised to end the factional fighting and banditry that was the mujahideen trademark. Suspected murderers and spies were executed monthly in the sports stadium, and those accused of thievery had the offending hand sliced off. The Taliban condemned forms of “immorality” that included premarital sex, adultery, and homosexuality. They also outlawed all music, theater, libraries, literature, secular education, and much scientific research.The Taliban unleashed a religious reign of terror, imposing an even stricter interpretation of Muslim law than used by most of the Kabul clergy.

All men were required to wear untrimmed beards and women had to wear the burqa which covered them from head to toe, including their faces. Persons who were slow to comply were dealt swift and severe punishment by the Ministry of Virtue. A woman who fled an abusive home or charged spousal abuse would herself be severely whipped by the theocratic authorities. Women were outlawed from social life, deprived of most forms of medical care, barred from all levels of education, and any opportunity to work outside the home. Women who were deemed “immoral” were stoned to death or buried alive.None of this was of much concern to leaders in Washington who got along famously with the Taliban.

As recently as 1999, the US government was paying the entire annual salary of every single Taliban government official. Not until October 2001, when President George W. Bush had to rally public opinion behind his bombing campaign in Afghanistan did he denounce the Taliban’s oppression of women. His wife, Laura Bush, emerged overnight as a full-blown feminist to deliver a public address detailing some of the abuses committed against Afghan women.If anything positive can be said about the Taliban, it is that they did put a stop to much of the looting, raping, and random killings that the mujahideen had practiced on a regular basis. In 2000 Taliban authorities also eradicated the cultivation of opium poppy throughout the areas under their control, an effort judged by the United Nations International Drug Control Program to have been nearly totally successful. With the Taliban overthrown and a Western-selected mujahideen government reinstalled in Kabul by December 2001, opium poppy production in Afghanistan increased dramatically. The years of war that have followed have taken tens of thousands of Afghani lives. Along with those killed by Cruise missiles, Stealth bombers, Tomahawks, daisy cutters, and land mines are those who continue to die of hunger, cold, lack of shelter, and lack of water. The Holy Crusade for Oil and GasWhile claiming to be fighting terrorism, US leaders have found other compelling but less advertised reasons for plunging deeper into Afghanistan. The Central Asian region is rich in oil and gas reserves.

A decade before 9/11, Time magazine (18 March 1991) reported that US policy elites were contemplating a military presence in Central Asia. The discovery of vast oil and gas reserves in Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan provided the lure, while the dissolution of the USSR removed the one major barrier against pursuing an aggressive interventionist policy in that part of the world. US oil companies acquired the rights to some 75 percent of these new reserves. A major problem was how to transport the oil and gas from the landlocked region. US officials opposed using the Russian pipeline or the most direct route across Iran to the Persian Gulf. Instead, they and the corporate oil contractors explored a number of alternative pipeline routes, across Azerbaijan and Turkey to the Mediterranean or across China to the Pacific. The route favored by Unocal, a US based oil company, crossed Afghanistan and Pakistan to the Indian Ocean. The intensive negotiations that Unocal entered into with the Taliban regime remained unresolved by 1998, as an Argentine company placed a competing bid for the pipeline.

Bush’s war against the Taliban rekindled UNOCAL’s hopes for getting a major piece of the action.Interestingly enough, neither the Clinton nor Bush administrations ever placed Afghanistan on the official State Department list of states charged with sponsoring terrorism, despite the acknowledged presence of Osama bin Laden as a guest of the Taliban government. Such a “rogue state” designation would have made it impossible for a US oil or construction company to enter an agreement with Kabul for a pipeline to the Central Asian oil and gas fields.In sum, well in advance of the 9/11 attacks the US government had made preparations to move against the Taliban and create a compliant regime in Kabul and a direct US military presence in Central Asia. The 9/11 attacks provided the perfect impetus, stampeding US public opinion and reluctant allies into supporting military intervention.

One might agree with John Ryan who argued that if Washington had left the Marxist Taraki government alone back in 1979, “there would have been no army of mujahideen, no Soviet intervention, no war that destroyed Afghanistan, no Osama bin Laden, and no September 11 tragedy.” But it would be asking too much for Washington to leave unmolested a progressive leftist government that was organizing the social capital around collective public needs rather than private accumulation.US intervention in Afghanistan has proven not much different from US intervention in Cambodia, Angola, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Nicaragua, Grenada, Panama, and elsewhere. It had the same intent of preventing egalitarian social change, and the same effect of overthrowing an economically reformist government.

In all these instances, the intervention brought retrograde elements into ascendance, left the economy in ruins, and pitilessly laid waste to many innocent lives.The war against Afghanistan, a battered impoverished country, continues to be portrayed in US official circles as a gallant crusade against terrorism. If it ever was that, it also has been a means to other things: destroying a leftist revolutionary social order, gaining profitable control of one of the last vast untapped reserves of the earth’s dwindling fossil fuel supply, and planting US bases and US military power into still another region of the world.In the face of all this Obama’s call for “change” rings hollow.Michael Parenti’s recent books are Contrary Notions: The Michael Parenti Reader and the forthcoming God and His Demons.

Friday, November 28, 2008

PART 1: Krisis Ekonomi. Bagaimana mengembalikan keyakinan pengguna supaya berbelanja?


So how will Geithner and Summers deal with the problems they'll be facing just two months from now? They'll do whatever they need to do to stabilize the financial system and to get consumers spending again. That means at least another $2 trillion added to the ballooning national debt and some extremely dodgy ways of getting liquidity into the system.(With the Fed Funds rate already at 1 percent, monetary policy is limited) Larry Summers, who will serve as Obama's chief economics advisor, summed up his plan like this to Bloomberg News: "At first I believed that any stimulus package should be timely, targeted, and temporary. But the situation has deteriorated so significantly from that point that I would now go for speedy, substantial, and sustained over a several year interval."

Read More......


Anda cuba bayangkan kiranya pengguna akan terus mengurangkan perbelanjaan dan mengubah cara hidup untuk terus berjimat cermat dalam keadaan yang tidak yakin dengan keadaan kedudukan ekonomi yang berpunca dari krisis kewangan antarabangsa. Dalam keadaan normal pengguna akan menukar kenderaan kepada kerita model baru setelah menggunakan kenderaan lamanya selama lima atau enam tahun. Kini kerita lama akan terus digunakan walaupun keinginan tinggi dan kemampun masih ada. Pengguna akan membawa bekal dari rumah walaupun mampu makan di restoran. Contoh ini hanyalah sebahagian dari perubahan cara hidup kerana pengguna lebih berwaspada atau berhati-hati akibat situasi dan kedudukan ekonomi yang tidak menentu.

Beberapa bulan yang lalu, apabila harga minyak melambung tinggi, ramai pengguna yang mengurangkan penggunaan minyak kerita. Jalan-jalan cari makan dengan keluarga kena difikirkan dua kali. Perjalanan jauh dan bersiar-siar banyak yang terbatal atau dibatalkan. Malah ramai yang memilih menggunakan kenderaan awam dalam banyak urusan.

Di Barcelona misalnya ramai pengguna memilih untuk menggunakan basikal sebagai alternatif. Kenderaan kecil pula mula meningkat permintaannya sekaligus mengurangkan penggunaan minyak. Bayangkan akibatnya KIRANYA JUTAAN PENDUDUK MENGURANGKAN PERBELANJAANYA SEBANYAK rm500. sebulan

Akibat dari perubahan cara berbelanja dan cara hidup ini, pengusaha dan para peniaga akan menerima akibat. Hasil jualan mereka akan turun dan mendapatan mereka akan merosot. Apabila keadaan ini berlaku, para peniaga atau firma akan terpaksa mengurangkan kos operasi yang akan menyebabkan pengurangan pekerja atau kemungkinan mengalami kerugian. Kiranya keadaan berterusan kemungkinan firma mereka akan terpaksa ditutup dan pekerja-pekerja akan kehilangan pekerjaan sekaligus kehilangan sumber pendapatan. Pengangguran akan berlaku dan ekonomi akan menjadi lemah dan kemelesetan atau recesion berlaku.

Kiranya pengguna terus memilih menggunakan kenderaan lamanya atau memilih menggunakan kenderaan awam atau basikal, apa akan terjadi kepada perusahaan membuat automobil dan station minyak? Bagaimana nasib pekerja-pekerja mereka?. Kiranya pengguna terus memilih untuk membawa bekal dari rumah, apa akan terjadi kepada pemilik restoran dan pengusaha bekalan makanan? Bagaimana nasib pekerja-pekerjan mereka? Apa kan terjadi kepada pengusaha pelancongan dan hotel-hotel kiranya vacation dikurangkan, ditangguhkan malah dilupakan? bagaimana nasib pekerja pelancongan, hotel dan pemandu bas pelancong?. Akhirnya bagaimana hasil kutipan cukai ?

Gambaran di atas menunjukkan kuasa pengguna mampu menjadi penyumbang kepada keadaan recession yang di alami samada yang berlaku di luar negara atau dalam negeri. ORANG KATA "CUSTOMER IS THE KING". Isu pengaliran wang keluar ke luar negara juga perlu di ambil kira.

Bagaimana mengembalikan keadaan ini kepada keadaan normal?. Jawaban normalnya adalah mudah; "kembalikan keadaan yang meyakinkan pengguna untuk berbelanja dan kedudukan pendapatan "boleh guna" mereka dalam keadaan normal. Dalam hal ini. diskusi "siapa dulu, telur atau ayam" akan mengambil tempat.
PART II (Menyusul)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Financial Collapse: The Fate of Citigroup Bank

Financial Collapse: The Fate of Citigroup. CRG E-Newsletter‏
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Sent: Monday, 24 Nov, 2008 9: 12 PM

Colossal Financial Collapse: The Truth behind the Citigroup Bank "Nationalization"

On Friday November 21, the world came within a hair’s breadth of the most colossal financial collapse in history according to bankers on the inside of events with whom we have contact. The trigger was the bank which only two years ago was America’s largest, Citigroup. The size of the US Government de facto nationalization of the $2 trillion banking institution is an indication of shocks yet to come in other major US and perhaps European banks thought to be ‘too big to fail.’ The clumsy way in which US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, himself not a banker but a Wall Street ‘investment banker’, whose experience has been in the quite different world of buying and selling stocks or bonds or underwriting and selling same, has handled the unfolding crisis has been worse than incompetent. It has made a grave situation into a globally alarming one.

‘Spitting into the wind’

A case in point is the secretive manner in which Paulson has used the $700 billion in taxpayer funds voted him by a labile Congress in September. Early on, Paulson put $125 billion in the nine largest banks, including $10 billion for his old firm, Goldman Sachs. However, if we compare the value of the equity share that $125 billion bought with the market price of those banks’ stock, US taxpayers have paid $125 billion for bank stock that a private investor could have bought for $62.5 billion, according to a detailed analysis from Ron W. Bloom, economist with the US United Steelworkers union, whose members as well as pension fund face devastating losses were GM to fail.

That means half of the public's money was a gift to Paulson’s Wall Street cronies. Now, only weeks later, the Treasury is forced to intervene to de facto nationalize Citigroup. It won’t be the last. Paulson demanded, and got from a labile US Congress, Democrat as well as Republican, sole discretion over how and where he can invest the $700 billion, to date with no effective oversight. It amounts to the Treasury Secretary in effect ‘spitting into the wind’ in terms of resolving the fundamental crisis.

It should be clear to any serious analyst by now that the September decision by Paulson to defer to rigid financial ideology and let the fourth largest US investment bank, Lehman Brothers fail, was the proximate trigger for the present global crisis. Lehman Bros.’ surprise collapse triggered the current global crisis of confidence. It was simply not clear to the rest of the banking world which US financial institution bank might be saved and which not, after the Government had earlier saved the far smaller Bear Stearns, while letting the larger, far more strategic Lehman Bros. fail.

Some Citigroup details

The most alarming aspect of the crisis is the fact that we are in an inter-regnum period when the next President has been elected but cannot act on the situation until after January 20, 2009 when he is sworn in.

Consider the details of the latest Citigroup government de facto nationalization (for ideological reasons Paulson and the Bush Administration hysterically avoid admitting they are in the process of nationalizing key banks). Citigroup has more than $2 trillion of assets, dwarfing companies such as American International Group Inc. that got some $150 billion in US taxpayer funds in the past two months. Ironically, only eight weeks before, the Government had designated Citigroup to take over the failing Wachovia Bank. Normally authorities have an ailing bank absorbed by a stronger one. In this instance the opposite seems to have been the case. Now it is clear that the Citigroup was in deeper trouble than Wachovia. In a matter of hours in the week before the US Government nationalization was announced, the stock value of Citibank plunged to $3.77 in New York, giving the company a market value of about $21 billion. The market value of Citigroup stock in December 2006 had been $247 billion. Two days before the bank nationalization the CEO, Vikram Pandit had announced a huge 52,000 job slashing plan. It did nothing to stop the slide.

The scale of the hidden losses of perhaps the twenty largest US banks is so enormous that if not before, the first Presidential decree of President Barack Obama will likely have to be declaration of a US ‘Bank Holiday’ and the full nationalization of the major banks, taking on the toxic assets and losses until the economy can again function with credit flowing to industry once more.

Citigroup and the government have identified a pool of about $306 billion in troubled assets. Citigroup will absorb the first $29 billion in losses. After that, remaining losses will be split between Citigroup and the government, with the bank absorbing 10% and the government absorbing 90%. The US Treasury Department will use its $700 billion TARP or Troubled Asset Recovery Program bailout fund, to assume up to $5 billion of losses. If necessary, the Government’s Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) will bear the next $10 billion of losses. Beyond that, the Federal Reserve will guarantee any additional losses. The measures are without precedent in US financial history. It’s by no means certain they will salvage the dollar system.

The situation is so intertwined, with six US major banks holding the vast bulk of worldwide financial derivatives exposure, that the failure of a single major US financial institution could result in losses to the OTC derivatives market of $300-$400 billion, a new IMF working paper finds. What’s more, since such a failure would likely cause cascading failures of other institutions. Total global financial system losses could exceed another $1,500 billion according to an IMF study by Singh and Segoviano.

The madness over a Detroit GM rescue deal.

The health of Citigroup is not the only gripping crisis that must be dealt with. At this point, political and ideological bickering in the US Congress has so far prevented a simple emergency $25 billion loan extension to General Motors and other of the US Big Three automakers—Ford and Chrysler. The absurd spectacle of US Congressmen attacking the chairmen of the Big Three for flying to the emergency Congressional hearings on a rescue loan in their private company jets while largely ignoring the issue of consequences to the economy of a GM failure underscores the utter lack of touch with reality that has overwhelmed Washington in recent years.

For GM to go into bankruptcy risks a disaster of colossal proportions. Although Lehman Bros., the biggest bankruptcy in US history, appears to have had an orderly settlement of its credit defaults swaps, the disruption occurred before-hand, as protection writers had to post additional collateral prior to settlement. That was a major factor in the dramatic global market selloff in October. GM is bigger by far, meaning bigger collateral damage, and this would take place when the financial system is even weaker than when Lehman failed.

In addition, a second, and potentially far more damaging issue, has been largely ignored. The advocates of letting GM go bankrupt argue that it can go into Chapter 11 just like other big companies that get themselves in trouble. That may not happen however, and a Chapter 7 or liquidation of GM that would then result would be a tectonic event.

The problem is that under Chapter 11 US law, it takes time for the company to get the protection of a bankruptcy court. Until that time, which may be weeks or months, the company would need urgently ‘bridge financing’ to continue operating. This is known as ‘Debtor-in-Possession or DIP financing. DIP is essential for most Chapter 11 bankruptcies, as it takes time to get the plan of reorganization approved by creditors and the courts. Most companies, like GM today, go to bankruptcy court when they are at the end of their liquidity.

DIP is specifically for companies in, or on the verge of bankruptcy, and the debt is generally senior to other outstanding creditor claims. So it is actually very low risk, as the amount spent is usually not large, relatively speaking. But DIP lending is being severely curtailed right now, just when it is most needed, as healthier banks drastically cut loans in the severe credit crunch situation.

Without access to DIP bridge financing, GM would be forced into a partial, or even a full liquidation. The ramifications are horrendous. Aside from loss of 100,000 jobs at GM itself, GM is critical to keep many US auto suppliers in business. If GM failed soon most, possibly even all of the US and even foreign auto suppliers will go under. Those parts suppliers are important to other auto makers. Many foreign car factories would be forced to close due to loss of suppliers. Some analysts put 2009 job losses from a GM failure as high as 2.5 million jobs due to the follow-on effects. If the impact of that 2.5 million job loss is seen in terms of the overall losses to the economy of non-auto jobs such as services, home foreclosures caused and such, some estimate total impact would be more than 15 million jobs.

So far in the face of this staggering prospect, the members of the US Congress have chosen to focus on the fact the GM chief, Rick Wagoner, flew in his private company jet to Washington. The Congressional charade conjures up the image of Nero playing his fiddle as Rome goes up in flames. It should not be surprising that at the recent EU-Asian Summit in Beijing, Chinese officials mooted the idea of trading between the EU and Asian nations such as China in Euro, Renminbi, Yen or other national currencies other than the dollar. The Citigroup bailout and GM debacle has confirmed the death of the post-1944 Bretton Woods Dollar System.

The real truth behind Citigroup bailout

What neither Paulson nor anyone in Washington is willing to reveal is the real truth behind the Citigroup bailout. By his and the Republican Bush Administration’s adamant earlier refusal to take an initial resolute action to immediately nationalize the nine or so largest troubled banks, he has created the present debacle. By refusing on ideological grounds to instead reorganize the banks’ assets into some form of ‘good bank’ and ‘bad bank,’ similar to what the Government of Sweden did with what it called Securum, during its banking crisis in the early 1990’s, Paulson and company have created a global financial structure on the brink.

A Securum or similar temporary nationalization would have allowed the healthy banks to continue lending to the real economy so the economy could continue operating, while the State merely sat on the undervalued real estate assets of the Swedish banks for some months until the recovering economy made the assets again marketable to the private sector. Instead, Paulson and his ‘crony capitalists’ in Washington have turned a bad situation into a globally catastrophic one.

His apparent realization of the error of his initial refusal to nationalize came too late. When Paulson reversed policy on September 19 and presented the nine largest banks with an ultimatum to accept partial Government equity ownership, abandoning his original bizarre plan to merely buy up the toxic waste asset-backed securities of the banks with his $700 billion TARP taxpayer money, he never revealed why.

Under the original Paulson Plan, as Dimitri B. Papadimitriou and L. Randall Wray of the Jerome Levy Institute at Bard College in New York point out, Paulson sought to create a situation in which the US ‘Treasury would become an owner of troubled financial institutions in exchange for a capital injection—but without exercising any ownership rights, such as replacing the management that created the mess. The bailout would be used as an opportunity to consolidate control of the nation’s financial system in the hands of a few large (Wall Street) banks, with government funds subsidizing purchases of troubled banks by "healthy" ones.’

Paulson soon realized the scale of crisis, largely triggered by his inept handling of the Lehman Brothers case, had created an impossible situation. Were Paulson to use the $700 billion to buy up toxic waste ABS assets from the select banks at today’s market price, the $700 billion would be far too little to take an estimated $2 trillion ($2,000 billion) in Asset Backed Securities off the books of the banks.

The Levy Economics Institute economists state, ‘It is probable that many and perhaps most financial institutions are insolvent today -- with a black hole of negative net worth that would swallow Paulson's entire $700 billion in one gulp.’

That reality is the real reason Paulson was forced to abandon his original ‘crony bailout’ TARP plan and opt to use some of his money to buy equity shares in the nine largest banks.

That scheme as well is ‘dead on arrival’ as the latest Citigroup nationalization scheme underscores. The dilemma Paulson has created with his inept handling of the crisis is simple: If the US Government paid the true value for these nearly worthless assets, the banks would have to write down huge losses, and, as Levy economists put it, ‘announce to the world that they are insolvent.’ On the other hand, if Paulson raised the toxic waste purchase price high enough to protect the banks from losses, $700 billion ‘will buy only a tiny fraction of the 'troubled' assets.’ That is what the latest nationalization of Citigroup is about.

It is only the beginning. The 2009 year will be one of titanic shocks and changes to the global order of a scale perhaps not experienced in the past five centuries. This is why we should speak of the end of the American Century and its Dollar System.

How destructive that process will be to the citizens of the United States who are the prime victims of Paulson’s crony capitalists, as well as to the rest of the world depends now on the urgency and resoluteness with which heads of national Governments in Germany, the EU, China, Russia and the rest of the non-US world react. It is no time for ideological sentimentality and nostalgia of the postwar old order. That collapsed this past September along with Lehman Brothers and the Republican Presidency. Waiting for a ‘miracle’ from an Obama Presidency is no longer an option for the rest of the world.
Colossal Financial Collapse: The Truth behind the Citigroup Bank "Nationalization"
By F. William Engdahl

MORE ON CITIGROUP:................

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Dulie Haji Marie Menyertai SAPP.

Saya pada awalnya agak skiptikal bila diberi tahu bahawa sahabat lama saya , Dulie Haji Marie menyertai Parti KeADILan Rakyat, PKR, sempena lawatan Yang Berhormat Dato' Seri Anwar ke Sabah pada sabtu dan Ahad (22-23 November 2008). Bagaimanapun, saya tidak menolak kemungkinan. Lalu saya melayari blog-blog yang mungkin berminat melapurkan peristiwa itu namun saya tidak menemuinya.

Saya agak jarang membaca surat khabar tempatan tetapi melayarinya melalui internet. saya membacanya online, percuma dan menjadi kebiasaan saya.

Puas saya mencari, lalu saya bertanya sahabat saya di mana source mengenai "Dulie Haji Marie' menyertai PKR...

Beliaupun memberikan saya surat khabar lamanya dan saya teliti. Rupanya ia di bawah tajuk "Oil Royalty: SAPP not giving up" Daily Express 23 November, 2008. Rupanya, Dulie menyertai SAPP BUKAN PKR dan bergiat di Kawasan Putatan, Sabah.... So, sahlah kini...Dulie Haji Marie menyertai Parti Maju Sabah-SAPP.


Sunday, November 23, 2008

Call for a code of ethics for bloggers

Quiet word: Syed Hamid (right) having a conversation with Ahirudin at the Blogger’s Buff 2008 conference In Kuala Lumpur Saturday.

Sunday November 23, 2008

KUALA LUMPUR: Blogging is no longer a part-time job and it is time bloggers had a code of ethics to promote accountability, said Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar.“Blogging is touching the lives of more and more Malaysians. With such a powerful tool, bloggers are able to influence their readers and shape their perspectives.“They can unite communities and they can divide them. The dangers of distortions and inaccuracies in blogging are very real and it is capable of destroying lives.

“Thanks in part to the blogosphere, dangerous assumptions often travel faster than truths,” Syed Hamid said at the Blogger’s Buff 2008 conference yesterday.


Sabah PKR not facing crisis

Sabah PKR is not facing a leadership crisis, says party adviser Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.Admitting that state PKR chief Ansari Abdullah had submitted his resignation, Anwar said they had asked him to remain in the post as all positions would automatically dissolve in a few weeks’ time, ahead of the party convention.

“The party will then decide on new appointments and they may retain the incumbent or make changes,” he told reporters here after a two-day visit to the state.Anwar said this in reference to the apparent differences between Ansari and PKR vice-president Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan, who is the steering committee chairman for Sabah and Sarawak.“Differing views is not a crisis,” Anwar said, adding that the party would take into consideration the views of the divisions in its appointment of the state liaison chairman.

On fuel prices, he said the Government should further reduce them to reflect the current global oil prices. Anwar said the Government benefited through royalties and taxation on oil companies and it should not burden the people further. Let the market mechanism work, he said, adding that under current prices consumers were subsiding the Government.



Pakatan hasn’t invited SAPP

KOTA KINABALU: No offer has been made to Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) to join Pakatan Rakyat.

“No, we have not yet reached that stage. We discussed issues facing the people and we have many common issues. SAPP is closer to us on these issues than with Barisan Nasional,” Anwar said when asked if he had invited SAPP to join Pakatan.

About This Blog

Dan adapun orang-orang yang takut kepada kebesaran Tuhannya dan menahan diri dari keinginan hawa nafsunya. Maka sesungguhnya syurgalah tempat tinggalnya. (al-Naziat ayat 40-41)

"Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes...known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. . . No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare."
- James Madison, Political Observations, 1795

santapan rohani ii

Al-hadith :ثلاثةٌ قد حَرّمَ اللهُ - تَبَارَكَ وَتَعَالَى - عليهم الجنةَ : مُدْمِنُ الخمر ، والعاقّ ، والدّيّوثُ الذييُقِرُّ في أَهْلِهِ الخُبْثَ . رواه أحمد والنسائيErtinya : "Tiga yang telah Allah haramkan baginya Syurga : orang yang ketagih arak, si penderhaka kepada ibu bapa dan Si Dayus yang membiarkan maksiat dilakukan oleh ahli keluarganya" ( Riwayat Ahmad )


Ingatlah firman Allah Taala:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تَتَّخِذُوا بِطَانَةً مِنْ دُونِكُمْ لَا يَأْلُونَكُمْ خَبَالًا وَدُّوا مَا عَنِتُّمْ قَدْ بَدَتِ الْبَغْضَاءُ مِنْ أَفْوَاهِهِمْ وَمَا تُخْفِي صُدُورُهُمْ أَكْبَرُ قَدْ بَيَّنَّا لَكُمُ الْآيَاتِ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ تَعْقِلُونَ (118) هَا أَنْتُمْ أُولَاءِ تُحِبُّونَهُمْ وَلَا يُحِبُّونَكُمْ وَتُؤْمِنُونَ بِالْكِتَابِ كُلِّهِ وَإِذَا لَقُوكُمْ قَالُوا آمَنَّا وَإِذَا خَلَوْا عَضُّوا عَلَيْكُمُ الْأَنَامِلَ مِنَ الْغَيْظِ قُلْ مُوتُوا بِغَيْظِكُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ بِذَاتِ الصُّدُورِ (119)

Maksudnya: “Wahai orang-orang yang beriman! janganlah kamu mengambil orang-orang yang bukan dari kalangan kamu menjadi “orang dalam” (yang dipercayai). mereka tidak akan berhenti-henti berusaha mendatangkan bencana kepada kamu. mereka sukakan apa yang menyusahkan kamu. telahpun nyata (tanda) kebencian mereka pada pertuturan mulutnya, dan apa yang disembunyikan oleh hati mereka lebih besar lagi. Sesungguhnya telah Kami jelaskan kepada kamu keterangan-keterangan itu jika kamu (mahu) memahaminya. Awaslah! kamu ini adalah orang-orang (yang melanggar larangan), kamu sahajalah yang suka (dan percayakan mereka, sedang mereka tidak suka kepada kamu. kamu juga beriman kepada Segala Kitab Allah (sedang mereka tidak beriman kepada Al-Quran). dan apabila mereka bertemu dengan kamu mereka berkata: “Kami beriman”, tetapi apabila mereka berkumpul sesama sendiri, mereka menggigit hujung jari kerana geram marah (kepada kamu), Katakanlah (Wahai Muhammad): “Matilah kamu Dengan kemarahan kamu itu”. Sesungguhnya Allah sentiasa mengetahui akan Segala (isi hati) yang ada di dalam dada.” [Ali Imran: 118 & 119]
تُولِجُ اللَّيْلَ فِي النَّهَارِ وَتُولِجُ النَّهَارَ فِي اللَّيْلِ وَتُخْرِجُ الْحَيَّ مِنَ الْمَيِّتِ وَتُخْرِجُ الْمَيِّتَ مِنَ الْحَيِّ وَتَرْزُقُ مَنْ تَشَاءُ بِغَيْرِ حِسَابٍآل عمران : 27

"Engkaulah (Wahai Tuhan) yang memasukkan waktu malam ke dalam waktu siang, dan Engkaulah yang memasukkan waktu siang ke dalam waktu malam. Engkaulah juga yang mengeluarkan sesuatu yang hidup dari benda yang mati, dan Engkaulah yang mengeluarkan benda yang mati dari sesuatu yang hidup. Engkau jualah yang memberi rezeki kepada sesiapa yang Engkau kehendaki, dengan tiada hitungan hisabnya".


“Siapa yang membantahmu tentang kisah Isa-Setelah engkau beroleh pengetahuan yang meyakinkan tentang hal itu, maka katakanlah kepada mereka : Marilah kita panggil (kumpulan) anak-anak kami dan anak-anak kalian, isteri-isteri kami, dan isteri-isteri kalian, diri-diri kami dan diri-diri kalian, kemudian kita bermubahalah kepada Allah, mohon agar Allah menjatuhkan laknat-Nya kepada pihak yang berdusta.” (Ali Imran : 61)