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Monday, April 20, 2009

Ron Paul: My Conversation With Ben Bernanke, February 15, 2006

by Ron Paul

Monetary Policy and The State of the Economy hearing before the Committee on Financial Services, U.S. House of Representatives, February 15, 2006

Chairman OXLEY. The gentlelady yields back. The gentleman from Texas, Mr. Paul.

Dr. PAUL. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, and welcome, Chairman. Mr. Chairman, I was very pleased with what you said about your support for transparency, and I want to ask a question dealing with that. Also, at the bottom of page 8, you said something that I thought was very important, where you said that the Federal Reserve, together with all other central bankers, has found that successful policy depends on painstaking examination of a broad range of economic and financial data, and I also think that’s very important. There is a famous quote by an economist, which I’m sure you’re familiar with, that inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon. And likewise, another famous economist from the 20th Century, and I’ll paraphrase this, said that monetary authorities deliberately confuse the issue of inflation by talking only about price increases. Yet it’s the price increases which are merely the inevitable consequence of inflation. This is done on purpose to distract from the real cause, which is the increase in the quantity of money and credit. And I notice in your report to the Congress, you do report M2, and it went up last year at four percent. And M3 was not mentioned, other than the fact that it won’t be reported any more. M3, interestingly enough, went up twice as fast, and M3 is going up probably more than two times as fast as the GDP. And this is information that I consider important and I know a lot of other economists consider important. And I find it rather interesting and ironic that one of the reasons that the Federal Reserve has given – of course, this was before you were the chairman – for this change is the fact that it costs money; it costs too much money. Now that is really something in this day and age, especially since the Federal Reserve creates their own money and their own budget and they have essentially no oversight, and all of a sudden it costs too much money to give us a little bit of information. So that to me is a bit ironic that this information will not be available to us. And my question to you is, would you ever reconsider this policy of denying this information to the Congress just so that we have another tool to analyze what’s going on with monetary policy? It seems like with your support for transparency, this should be something that you would heartily support.

Mr. BERNANKE. Congressman, first, you’re absolutely right. We do look at a wide variety of indicators, and money aggregates are among those indicators. In particular, M2 has proven to have some forecasting value in the past, and I think the slowdown this year is consistent with the removal of accommodation that’s been going on. In regard to your references to M3, a still broader measure of money, we have done, and I’m now speaking about the Federal Reserve before my arrival, but we have done periodic analyses of the various data series that we collect to see how useful they are. And our research department’s conclusion was that M3 was not being used by the academic community, nor were we finding it very useful ourselves in our internal deliberations. Now it’s not just a question of our own cost; although, of course, we do want to be fiscally responsible on our own budget, but it’s also I think important for us to recognize the burden that’s placed on banks that have to report this information. And so when we can reduce that burden, we would like to do so. And that was one of the considerations in the decision that was made about M3. Would we reconsider it? If there were evidence that this was an informative series and that it was useful to the public and to the Federal Reserve in forecasting the economy, naturally we would look at it again. There’s nothing dogmatic going on here.

Dr. PAUL. If the Congress expressed an interest in receiving this information, would you take that into consideration?

Mr. BERNANKE. If there was broad interest in the Congress in receiving this information, we would look at it. But, again, Congressman, remember, it’s a burden on the reporting banks to provide the information, and we are trying to reduce that burden as much as we can.

Dr. PAUL. But, of course, this has been available to the financial community for a lot of years, and for some people it’s very important to measure what you’re doing. If the money supply is important, which a lot of people believe it is, and it causes the inflation, this to me seems like we’re taking information about the money supply and literally hiding it from the people. And I yield back.

See the Ron Paul File












Dr. Ron Paul is a Republican member of Congress from Texas.

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Sunday, April 19, 2009

This Is Your Economy on Credit Crack - and Heading for a Crack-Up

15 April 2009

Here is a clear and simple explanation of why we may have already passed the point at which the Fed and Treasury will have no choice but to substantially devalue the bonds and reissue a 'new US dollar' as part of a managed default on our sovereign debt.

Ben's Un-shrinkable Balance Sheet
Delta Global Advisors
April 14, 2009

As he stated again clearly today, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve has deluded himself into thinking that when the time comes, he will be able to shrink the size of the Fed's balance sheet and reduce the monetary base with both ease and impunity. He also has deluded himself into thinking inflation will be easily contained.

It is very important that he does not fool you as well.

The Fed believes low interest rates should not be the result of a high savings rate, but instead can exist by decree, a conviction which has directly led consumers to believe their spending can outstrip disposable income.

The result of such thinking has been a rise in household debt from 47% of GDP in 1980 to 97% of total output in Q4 2008. As a result of this ever increasing burden, the Fed has been forced into a series of lower lows and lower highs on its benchmark lending rate. Keeping rates low is an attempt to make debt service levels manageable and keep the consumer afloat. Problem is, this endless pursuit of unnaturally low rates has so altered the Fed's balance sheet that Mr. Bernanke will be hard-pressed to substantially raise rates to combat inflation once consumer and wholesale prices begin to significantly increase.

Banana Ben Bernanke has grown the monetary base from just $842 billion in August 2008 to a record high of $1,723 billion as of April 2009. But it's not only the size of the balance sheet that is so daunting; it's the makeup that's becoming truly scary.

Historically speaking, the composition of the Fed's balance sheet has been mostly Treasuries. And the Federal Open Market Committee would typically raise rates by selling Treasuries from its balance sheet into the market to soak up excess liquidity. However, because of the Fed's decision to purchase up to $1 trillion in Mortgage Backed Securities (and other unorthodox holdings), it will not be selling highly-liquid US debt to drain reserves from banks. Rather, it will be unwinding highly distressed MBS and packaged loans to AIG. Not to mention the fact the Fed would have to break its promise of being a "hold-to-maturity investor" of such assets.

Moreover, not only are the new assets on the Fed's balance sheet less liquid but the durations of the loans are being extended. According to Bloomberg, the Fed is contemplating extending TALF loans to buy mortgaged backed securities to five years from three after pressure it received from lobbyists and a failed second monthly round of auctions. That means when it finally decides it's time to fight inflation, the Fed will find it much more difficult to reverse course.

But because of the extraordinary and unprecedented (some would say illegal) measures Mr. Bernanke has implemented, only $505 billion of the $2 trillion balance sheet is composed of U.S. Treasury debt. Today, most Fed assets are derived from the alphabet soup of lending programs including $250 billion in commercial paper, $312 billion of Central Bank liquidity swaps and $236 billion in mortgage-backed securities.

Thus, our economy has become more addicted than ever to low interest rates. But because bank assets will now be collecting income at record low rates, when and if the Fed tries to raise rates it will only be able to do so on the margin. If Bernanke raises rates substantially to fight inflation, banks will be paying out more on deposits than they collect on their income streams. Couple that with their already distressed balances sheets and look out!

Additionally, not only do the consumers need low rates to keep their Financial Obligation Ratio low, but the Federal government also needs low rates to ensure interest rates on the skyrocketing national debt can be serviced.
Our projected $1.8 trillion annual deficit stems from the belief that the government must expand its balance sheet as the consumer begins to deleverage. In fact, both the consumer and government need to deleverage for total debt relief to occur, else we're just shuffling debts around and avoiding a healthy deleveraging entirely.

In order to have viable and sustainable growth total debt levels must decrease, savings must increase and interest rates must rise. But that would require an extended period of negative GDP growth-a completely untenable position for politicians of all stripes. Ben Bernanke would like you to believe inflation will be quiescent and he can vanquish it if it ever becomes a problem. Just make sure you don't invest as though you believe him.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Solving the energy crisis and ending bailouts- for real!

April 17, 2009 at 1:00 pm by Chris Hrabovsky

04 28 50 thumb11 Solving the energy crisis and ending bailouts  for real!

For those of us growing weary of hearing about the energy crisis, coupled with the concept of more bailouts for corporations such as AIG and the rest of Wall Streets finest, we may finally have the “pick-me-up” you’ve been craving, in the form of green sustainability.

The truth is, “bailouts”, are not just limited to Wall Street thieves. Energy Companies like Progress Energy have been granted a “pre-emptive bailout”, for a boondoggle that hasn’t even been built yet. No longer do corporations have to screw up and gamble away their money in order to have the government hand them more of our hard earned cash. Now they can be given the right to reach into our wallets, to subsidize their gambling schemes before they even get started. It’s called Advanced Cost Recovery and the proposed Levy County nuclear plant is the first of more to come. Progress Energy started adding 25% to their customer’s bills this January of 2009, in part to pre-pay for their nuclear power project. They are taxing citizens for this corporation’s private gain.

13 16 1 thumb11 Solving the energy crisis and ending bailouts  for real!

But wait, where’s the “pick me up”, I referred to earlier? Like you, the only thing that makes me more weary, than hearing of another bailout, is hearing another person complain about it without offering any hope or solutions. Well, this time we have both. I have been researching this issue for some time now and have uncovered several solutions.
Let’s begin with the most ambitious. We can create Municipal Utility Companies in each and every Chartered City in Florida. Right now Florida has 34 Muni’s according to the FMEA, some producing their own power and others buying power from abroad. The most shining example of a well functioning Muni, is the Gainesville Regional Utility Company. They use some of the revenue they collect to pay for the City’s police, fire, and parks and recreation (lowering taxes instead of lining the pockets of a corporate CEO). The GRU is also the country’s first municipality to introduce the Feed In Tariff to pay for Solar Panels for their residents. This is the method Germany used to help encourage homeowners to install Photo-Voltaic (PV) panels on their homes- The homeowner gets paid 32 cents for every kilowatt produced by their solar panels and then only has to pay 12 cents for every kilowatt used in the home. This allows residents to become entrepreneurs, making a profit from sunshine (for more details visit FARE).

13 48 2 thumb11 Solving the energy crisis and ending bailouts  for real!

How then, you ask, does a city that is covered by a monopoly, like Progress Energy, TECO, or Florida Power & Light, do this? One way is to do what the City of Winter Park did. They broke free from Progress Energy, when their franchise agreement was up, and now the City of Winter Park has control over its own power. They are currently issuing bonds to help put the power lines underground. They will have the opportunity and the option to move toward wind and solar power to help meet their city’s energy needs. They could then place solar panels on the land that currently holds the large type, high tension transmission line towers. Thousands of acres of land, which is already maintained and is currently unused, can be utilized and covered by PV panels, which can deliver power directly to the grid. This will prove more efficient than a large centralized production facility because there will be less loss in the transmission of the power, as it will be spread out along the many miles of land that these towers and lines already occupy.

We are currently researching many franchise agreements between Progress Energy and various cities throughout Florida, in order to help other cities obtain their freedom from corporate monopolies. So far we have noticed a trend, of diminishing rights for city residents. For example, in Tarpon Springs’ 1961 Franchise agreement with PE, the City had the right to buy back the power grid (like in Winter Park), and in the current agreement that provision is missing. Also missing in the current agreement is the right for the city to renegotiate the 30 year contract every 10 years. Valuable information is being uncovered as we pour over the lengthy legal documents. More to come as the records requests keep pouring in. This is where you can get involved. Contact your local City Representatives and ask about your City’s Franchise Agreement, and take a look at your City’s Electric Bill. Start conversations with your neighbors about what it might be like to have your own Muni Power Company, who answers to the people, instead of out of town shareholders. Call Winter Park and Gainesville, and ask them. Also call the City of Belleair and ask about their experience trying to get the same freedom from Progress Energy. Every chartered City can do this by referendum. Do the research and start the petitions.

Another potential solution to both our energy needs and our need to be free from bailing out corporate energy producers is, the Berkeley Model. In Berkeley California, they have implemented a program for issuing Bonds that can be used to buy solar panels for a home. The city pays the upfront costs and the property owners repay the costs over 20 years through a special assessment on their property tax bills. This model allows the cost to remain with the house, so if sold or even foreclosed on, the house and the solar panels would go to the new owner, and the monthly tax increase would go along too, as well as the savings of course due to no electric bill. Again, contact your Mayor and Representatives, and demand that they study this option. This can be done in your city.

images11 Solving the energy crisis and ending bailouts  for real!

Yet another potential solution actually allows a corporation to be the savior: I call this the SunRun Model, after the SunRun solar company in San Francisco California. This is an example of a corporation paying all of the upfront costs and ongoing maintenance for solar systems on each home. The home owner, then pays a monthly fee, either for the electricity used or the fee could simply be used to pay back the loan for the systems cost (a hair splitting detail that may have to be ironed out due to Florida’s laws in regard to who is allowed to sell electricity). Even this model will help break the grip of dirty oil, coal and nuclear corporate monopolies. The way to help make this happen is for you to encourage the passage of solar friendly local ordinances, and state laws, like the Feed-in Tariff. Then call European, California-based and local Florida companies and tell them we have new markets opening due to the passage of these new incentives. Thus, new Green Jos are created (40,000 in Germany)!

We can produce clean, safe, and renewable energy locally. We can complete our energy producing projects more quickly and efficiently than their proposed nuclear plants, as well as create local green jobs in the process. And we can do it for much less money. Let us ween ourslves off of the corporations that we have entrusted with too much, for far to long. No more bailouts for corporate private profits. It’s time to bail ourselves out of the mess that greedy corporations have put us in.

Let’s create our own energy. And in doing so, we shall energize our economy, our neighborhoods, and ourselves. Let’s take back our power, literally!

Plato's Cave (animated version)

Proud to be an extremist in defense of liberty!!

"I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue". ~ Barry Goldwater

Conspiracy Theorists Were Right All Along!

by Gary D. Barnett

As I opened up an e-copy of the Washington Times today, the headline read: "Federal agency warns of radicals on right." Many have talked about this and Karen DeCoster in today’s LRC blog here mentioned this report. Fox News, Drudge and many other "conservative" commentators are up in arms claiming that this is a direct attack against conservatives. I beg to differ. It is an attack against Americans!

The Department of Homeland Security is warning "law enforcement officials" (jackbooted criminal types) about a rise in "rightwing extremist activity," but a footnote in this report by the Homeland Security Office of Intelligence and Analysis defines rightwing extremism as "including not just racist or hate groups, but also groups that (don’t miss this part) reject federal authority in favor of state or local authority." If I’m interpreting this correctly, this report is going after anyone who dares to question federal authority. This would put libertarians directly in the government’s crosshairs. In fact, I have been against federal authority my entire life, so am I a prime target? In addition, this report was sent to police and sheriff’s departments all over the country. This is after thousands of combat troops have taken up permanent residence as domestic police, with thousands more on the way. This sounds like nothing more than a recipe for tyranny.

The government’s destruction of liberty has been with us for generations, but due to the incremental nature of this assault on freedom in the past most paid little attention. But now our liberty is being pushed aside like a bulldozer mowing over anthills. Is anyone other than LRC readers and small (l) libertarians watching?

In the past I have talked about illegal wiretapping, illegal spying, government/private spying partnerships (Infragard), thought crime legislation, financial transaction monitoring, anti-money laundering legislation, immoral taxation policies and privacy invasions among many other government indiscretions, and many thought that I was too negative or too cynical. I even wrote an article about pending legislation that would allow government to round us all up and put us in federal camps. Now, after just recently seeing the leaked Missouri MIAC Strategic Report, The Department of Homeland Security is informing police to be on the lookout for any who would not be in favor of federal authority. Orwell as prognosticator has been well vindicated; more so than even he probably could have imagined.

I write this today after just learning this morning that in Billings, Montana (population 100,000) the Yellowstone County Sheriff's Department rolled out its new 13-foot tall, 35,000-pound Ballistic Engineered Armored Response vehicle (BEAR) purchased with, you guessed it, a Homeland Security grant. It is to be used by not only the sheriff’s department but also by the Billings Police Department. They got this war machine just in time to tame those who are not in favor of federal authority. It is bullet-proof, has 2-inch shatterproof glass and gun ports on both sides. This idiocy is going on all over the country, and why more aren’t fearful of the danger of this military arming of local police I don’t know. In order for the normal citizenry to defend themselves from this onslaught of military weaponry, rifles and shotguns will need to be traded in for bazookas and hand-held rocket launchers. Unfortunately, these are still illegal.

All the federal government’s offensive and defensive mechanisms are being put in place while the lowly sheep await the slaughter. More economic tensions with more unemployment along with over-zealous police thugs bent on revenue creation; what will be the straw that breaks the proverbial camel’s back? What will it take before civil unrest is not just discussed on talk shows, but is evident in the streets of America? How much unrest will be tolerated by the now fully armed military-type police before they become physical?

If you want to continue to hide your head in the sand, don’t dare connect these dots! We now have militarized police, combat soldiers on our streets, war-zone materials and weaponry in the hands of domestic government agents, FEMA camps, and a neutered rule of law. These atrocious changes have happened quickly, and at a time of civil restlessness. Is this a coincidence? I think not. Everything happens for a reason, and this time that reason is easy to spot. Are you looking? If not, you had better open your eyes soon!

Gary D. Barnett [send him mail] is president of Barnett Financial Services, Inc., in Lewistown, Montana.

Copyright © 2009 by Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Forgotten Truth About the Original Boston Tea Party - and Why We Desperately Need It Today

Written by Carla Howell and Michael Cloud

Carla Howell delivered this speech on April 15, 2009 at the TEA Party Event in Boston:

"I did NOT come here to Protest.
"I did NOT come here to try to change the minds of Democratic or Republican officeholders in Washington - or on Beacon Hill.
"I came here to change politics in America - just like the American Patriots who gave us the first Boston Tea Party.
"The Original Boston Tea Party was NOT a Protest.
"Let me say that again: the Original Boston Tea Party was NOT a Protest.
"The Patriots did NOT just hold up signs, give speeches, and complain.
"The Patriots stopped British ships from unloading Monopoly British Tea - their version of AIG.
"The American Patriots blocked the collection of taxes.
"That is why the Boston Tea Party mattered - and why we remember it today.
"Because it was direct political action, not just protest.
"And it was action that made government smaller.
"Those great American Patriots realized that
what they said and what they wrote - changed nothing.
"But action changes everything.
"Not just any action. Action that shrinks Big Government.
"They were right!
"Deeds, NOT just words.
"Direct political action, NOT just protest.
"Action that moves us forward, that moves us closer to small government - NOT the no-win strategy of  holding the line, or  just opposing more Big Government.
"This is the lesson of the first Boston Tea Party.
"Now it is our turn to live the lesson.
"Let me ask you a few questions.
"Do you believe that the Wall Street bailout is insane?
"Do you believe that the massive federal government borrowing is hurting your business and your family?
"Do you believe that government is too big?
"Do you believe government debt is too high?
"Do you believe government spending is too high?
"Do you believe taxes are too high?
"Now let me ask you the questions inspired by the Original Boston Tea Party:
"Are YOU willing to take political action?
"Are YOU willing to END the Big Government Insanity - and start voting to make government smaller than it is today?
"Are YOU willing to vote against every Big Government candidate - in every election?
"Now here's the really hard question: Are you willing to vote against them even when you hate the other Big Government candidate more?
"Are you willing to vote FOR small government candidates and FOR small government ballot initiatives?
"Most political candidates who tell you they're against Big Government, who tell you they are for 'smaller government' talk your way -- and vote the opposite. They vote for tax increases, debt increases, spending increases, and more Big Government programs. They vote for each year's higher government spending. Their votes raise your taxes.
"The only way we can protect ourselves against these phonies and fakers is to ASSUME THAT EVERY ELECTED OFFICIAL IN AMERICA IS GUILTY OF VOTING BIG GOVERNMENT - UNTIL OR UNLESS HE PROVES HIMSELF INNOCENT by showing you his voting record. By proving to you that he voted small government while in office.
"Are you willing to vote against every officeholder who refuses to show you their voting record?
"To reclaim the American Dream, we must vote out every Big Government officeholder in our federal, state, and local governments. Every one. Democrat AND Republican.
"But we must NOT stop there.
"We must vote FOR candidates who campaign for, promise, and vote to reduce and remove today's Big Government social and economic programs - and GIVE BACK EVERY DOLLAR SAVED TO THE TAXPAYERS.
"We must vote for candidates who campaign for, promise, and vote to reduce and END government borrowing, reduce and remove government overspending and waste. Starting now. Small government candidates who will give back every dollar saved to the taxpayers.
"We must vote for small government candidates.
"We must vote FOR ballot initiatives that shrink Big Government.
"Candidates and ballot initiatives that cut or end taxes.
"Candidates and ballot initiatives that drive down today's Big Government spending.
"Just protesting Big Government will never give us what we want. Voting against Big Government will. Voting FOR Small Government will.
"Every Election. Every time. No exceptions. No excuses.
"This is the ONLY way we can fulfill the promise of the Original Boston Tea Party.
"I'm Carla Howell. I head the Center For Small Government. We're on your side. Please join us.
"Because 'small government is possible'."


2009 Copyright Carla Howell and Michael Cloud
Small government is possible, small government is beautiful, Small Government Pledge and Small Government News are Service Marks (SM) of Carla Howell and Michael Cloud.

How Can You Trust The Cowardly BBC: Mouthpiece for the Israeli lobby?

The BBC Trust is now a mouthpiece for the Israeli lobby which abused Bowen

By Robert Fisk

April 16, 2009 "
The Independent" -- The BBC Trust's report on Jeremy Bowen's dispatches from the Middle East is pusillanimous, cowardly, outrageous, factually wrong and ethically dishonest.

But I am mincing my words.

The trust – how I love that word which so dishonours everything about the BBC – has collapsed, in the most shameful way, against the usual Israeli lobbyists who have claimed – against all the facts – that Bowen was wrong to tell the truth.

Let's go step by step through this pitiful business. Zionism does indeed instinctively "push out" the frontier. The new Israeli wall – longer and taller than the Berlin Wall although the BBC management cowards still insist its reporters call it a "security barrier" (the translation of the East German phrase for the Berlin Wall) – has gobbled up another 10 per cent of the 22 per cent of "Palestine" that Arafat/Mahmoud Abbas were supposed to negotiate. Bowen's own brilliant book on the 1967 war, Six Days, makes this land-grab perfectly clear.

Anyone who has read the history of Zionism will be aware that its aim was to dispossess the Arabs and take over Palestine. Why else are Zionists continuing to steal Arab land for Jews, and Jews only, against all international law? Who for a moment can contradict that this defies everyone's interpretation of international law except its own?

Even when the International Court in The Hague stated that the Israeli wall was illegal – the BBC, at this point, was calling it a "fence"! – Israel simply claimed that the court was wrong.

UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 called upon Israel to withdraw its forces from territories that it occupied in the 1967 war – and it refused to do so. The Americans stated for more than 30 years that Israel's actions were illegal – until the gutless George Bush accepted Israel had the right to keep these illegally held territories. Thus the BBC Trust – how cruel that word "trust" now becomes – has gone along with the Bush definition of Israel's new boundaries (inside Arab land, of course).

The BBC's preposterous committee claims that Bowen's article "breached the rules [sic] on impartiality" because "readers might come away from the article thinking that the interpretation offered was the only sensible view of the war".

Well, yes of course. Because I suppose the BBC believes that Israel's claim to own land which in fact belongs to other people is another "sensible" view of the war. The BBC Trust – and I now find this word nauseous each time I tap it on my laptop – says that Bowen didn't give evidence to prove the Jewish settlement at Har Homa was illegal. But the US authorities said so, right from the start. Our own late foreign secretary, Robin Cook – under screamed abuse from Zionists when he visited the settlement– said the same thing. The fact that the BBC Trust uses the Hebrew name for Har Homa – not the original Arab name, Jebel Abu Ghoneim – shows just how far it is now a mouthpiece for the Israeli lobby which so diligently abused Bowen.

Haaretz gave considerable space to the BBC's findings yesterday. I'm not surprised. But why is it that Haaretz's top correspondents – Amira Hass and Gideon Levy – write so much more courageously about the human rights abuses of Israeli troops (and war crimes) than the BBC has ever dared to do? Whenever I'm asked by lecture audiences around the world if they should trust the BBC, I tell them to trust Amira and Gideon more than they should ever believe in the wretched broadcasting station. I'm afraid it's the same old story. If you allow yourself to bow down before those who wish you to deviate from the truth, you will stay on your knees forever.

And this, remember, is the same institution which said that to broadcast an appeal for medicines for wounded Palestinians in Gaza might upset its "neutrality". Legless Palestinian children clearly don't count as much as the BBC's pompous executives.

How do we solve this problem? Well I can certainly advise viewers to turn to Sky TV's infinitely tougher coverage of the Middle East and – I admit I contribute to this particular station – I can recommend the courage with which Al-Jazeera English covers Gaza and the rest of the Palestinian-Israeli war.

I can well see how BBC executives will say that this article of mine today is "over the top". Jeremy Bowen may indeed think the same. But the First World War metaphor would be correct. For Bowen and his colleagues are truly lions led by BBC management donkeys.

Israel turns back 250 tons of truckloads of food:
Israeli troops manning the land Al-Ojah checkpoint in Central Sinai sent back 13 truckloads of 250 tons of flour dispatched by the Egyptian Red Crescent to Gaza Strip on Thursday. Read the rest of the story

Over 150,000 Gazans still without tap water:
Recent Israeli offensive plus continuous siege leave 10 percent of Gaza population with water problems.

Israel refuses to cooperate with Gaza war crimes probe:
Israel has informed the United Nations it will refuse to cooperate with a probe of war crimes allegedly committed during the military offensive in the Gaza Strip, a senior official said.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Ron Paul slammed Barack Obama’s claim that reckless government spending and taxation is the only way to alleviate the economic crisis by pointing out that the end of the great depression only came after taxes and spending were drastically cut.

To Whine or Resist?

Well, today is April 15th, though I suspect that there aren't many of you who haven't already noticed that. Both the federal extortion racket and its opponents try pretty hard to make sure that everyone is well aware of National Enslavement Day. And I'm quite pleased that there has been a lot of coverage of the protests and demonstrations, "tea parties" and others, planned across the country for this day of national shame. (Land of the free? Nice joke.)

I'm also pleased that today I finally have a web site up which has the 2007 version of my "Taxable Income" report (a free download):

And I'm pleased that the old "861 Evidence" presentation is now alive and well on that new site:

(But don't be surprised if lots of people try to view the presentation all at once today, and slow down the servers.)

But today I have a question--a question which the American people will answer, though we probably won't know the answer for a long time. The question is, are the American people content to merely COMPLAIN about what is being done to them, or are they about ready to finally RESIST?

For example, how many people at today's protests will be sending the message, "Please, master, stop taking so much of our money!"? And how many will be sending the message, "You won't be getting my money anymore!"? In other words, who will be BEGGING for freedom, and who will be TAKING freedom for themselves?

As I've said before, I expect a tax revolt in this country, starting today but growing as the economy continues to crumble and the socialist federal leviathan continues to grow. But it won't be the way I wished it would happen. It would be fun if a few million Americans found out that they don't even OWE federal "income taxes," based on the extortionists' own laws (see the links above).

On the other hand, it would be good if people resisted on philosophical grounds, realizing that we each own ourselves, and that no one has the moral right ("law" or no "law") to forcibly take a percentage of the fruits of our labor without our consent.

Instead, the tax revolt will most likely be the result of what usually causes such things: desperation. Rather than a legal or moral motivation, the average "taxpayer" (or "fraud victim," to be more accurate) may simply find that he doesn't have any money*. And given the choice between feeding the IRS beast and feeding his own family, he will choose the latter.

I guess if we can't have a principled revolt, a revolt out of necessity will have to do. But it remains to be seen at what point Americans will grow a spine and actually start resisting a perceived "authority." Will they wait until they're starving and living in tent cities, or will they do it a little earlier? The fact that they haven't done it already--like, in 1913, for example-- is pretty discouraging, but judging by the current grumblings across the country, there may be some spine left in the American people yet. Time will tell. Today will be a good first hint. What will the IRS "compliance" numbers look like when they've counted all the forced confessions this year? We shall see.


Larken Rose

(* For the sake of brevity, at the moment I won't get into the fact that what passes for "money" these days is a giant fraud in itself.)

'Toxic waste', Illegal fishing, behind Somali piracy and the ultimate "solution" will be passing of the U.N. Sea Treaty

By Najad Abdullahi

April 15, 2009 "
Al Jazeera" - Somali pirates have accused European firms of dumping toxic waste off the Somali coast and are demanding an $8m ransom for the return of a Ukranian ship they captured, saying the money will go towards cleaning up the waste.

The ransom demand is a means of "reacting to the toxic waste that has been continually dumped on the shores of our country for nearly 20 years", Januna Ali Jama, a spokesman for the pirates, based in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland, said.

"The Somali coastline has been destroyed, and we believe this money is nothing compared to the devastation that we have seen on the seas."

The pirates are holding the MV Faina, a Ukrainian ship carrying tanks and military hardware, off Somalia's northern coast.

According to the International Maritime Bureau, 61 attacks by pirates have been reported since the start of the year.

While money is the primary objective of the hijackings, claims of the continued environmental destruction off Somalia's coast have been largely ignored by the regions's maritime authorities.

Dumping allegations

Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the UN envoy for Somalia confirmed to Al Jazeera the world body has "reliable information" that European and Asian companies are dumping toxic waste, including nuclear waste, off the Somali coastline.

"I must stress however, that no government has endorsed this act, and that private companies and individuals acting alone are responsible," he said

Allegations of the dumping of toxic waste, as well as illegal fishing, have circulated since the early 1990s.

But evidence of such practices literally appeared on the beaches of northern Somalia when the tsunami of 2004 hit the country.

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) reported the tsunami had washed up rusting containers of toxic waste on the shores of Puntland.

Nick Nuttall, a UNEP spokesman, told Al Jazeera that when the barrels were smashed open by the force of the waves, the containers exposed a "frightening activity" that has been going on for more than decade.

"Somalia has been used as a dumping ground for hazardous waste starting in the early 1990s, and continuing through the civil war there," he said.

"European companies found it to be very cheap to get rid of the waste, costing as little as $2.50 a tonne, where waste disposal costs in Europe are something like $1000 a tonne.

"And the waste is many different kinds. There is uranium radioactive waste. There is lead, and heavy metals like cadmium and mercury. There is also industrial waste, and there are hospital wastes, chemical wastes – you name it."

Nuttall also said that since the containers came ashore, hundreds of residents have fallen ill, suffering from mouth and abdominal bleeding, skin infections and other ailments.

"We [the UNEP] had planned to do a proper, in-depth scientific assessment on the magnitude of the problem. But because of the high levels of insecurity onshore and off the Somali coast, we are unable to carry out an accurate assessment of the extent of the problem," he said.

However, Ould-Abdallah claims the practice still continues.

"What is most alarming here is that nuclear waste is being dumped. Radioactive uranium waste that is potentially killing Somalis and completely destroying the ocean," he said.

Toxic waste

Ould-Abdallah declined to name which companies are involved in waste dumping, citing legal reasons.

But he did say the practice helps fuel the 18-year-old civil war in Somalia as companies are paying Somali government ministers to dump their waste, or to secure licences and contracts.

"There is no government control ... and there are few people with high moral ground ... [and] yes, people in high positions are being paid off, but because of the fragility of the TFG [Transitional Federal Government], some of these companies now no longer ask the authorities – they simply dump their waste and leave."

Ould-Abdallah said there are ethical questions to be considered because the companies are negotiating contracts with a government that is largely divided along tribal lines.

"How can you negotiate these dealings with a country at war and with a government struggling to remain relevant?"

In 1992, a contract to secure the dumping of toxic waste was made by Swiss and Italian shipping firms Achair Partners and Progresso, with Nur Elmi Osman, a former official appointed to the government of Ali Mahdi Mohamed, one of many militia leaders involved in the ousting of Mohamed Siad Barre, Somalia's former president.

At the request of the Swiss and Italian governments, UNEP investigated the matter.

Both firms had denied entering into any agreement with militia leaders at the beginning of the Somali civil war.

Osman also denied signing any contract.

'Mafia involvement'

However, Mustafa Tolba, the former UNEP executive director, told Al Jazeera that he discovered the firms were set up as fictitious companies by larger industrial firms to dispose of hazardous waste.

"At the time, it felt like we were dealing with the Mafia, or some sort of organised crime group, possibly working with these industrial firms," he said.

"It was very shady, and quite underground, and I would agree with Ould-Abdallah’s claims that it is still going on... Unfortunately the war has not allowed environmental groups to investigate this fully."

The Italian mafia controls an estimated 30 per cent of Italy's waste disposal companies, including those that deal with toxic waste.

In 1998, Famiglia Cristiana, an Italian weekly magazine, claimed that although most of the waste-dumping took place after the start of the civil war in 1991, the activity actually began as early as 1989 under the Barre government.

Beyond the ethical question of trying to secure a hazardous waste agreement in an unstable country like Somalia, the alleged attempt by Swiss and Italian firms to dump waste in Somalia would violate international treaties to which both countries are signatories.

Legal ramifications

Switzerland and Italy signed and ratified the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, which came into force in 1992.

EU member states, as well as 168 other countries have also signed the agreement.

The convention prohibits waste trade between countries that have signed the convention, as well as countries that have not signed the accord unless a bilateral agreement had been negotiated.

It is also prohibits the shipping of hazardous waste to a war zone.

Abdi Ismail Samatar, professor of Geography at the University of Minnesota, told Al Jazeera that because an international coalition of warships has been deployed to the Gulf of Aden, the alleged dumping of waste must have been observed.

Environmental damage

"If these acts are continuing, then surely they must have been seen by someone involved in maritime operations," he said.

"Is the cargo aimed at a certain destination more important than monitoring illegal activities in the region? Piracy is not the only problem for Somalia, and I think it's irresponsible on the part of the authorities to overlook this issue."

Mohammed Gure, chairman of the Somalia Concern Group, said that the social and environmental consequences will be felt for decades.

"The Somali coastline used to sustain hundreds of thousands of people, as a source of food and livelihoods. Now much of it is almost destroyed, primarily at the hands of these so-called ministers that have sold their nation to fill their own pockets."

Ould-Abdallah said piracy will not prevent waste dumping.

"The intentions of these pirates are not concerned with protecting their environment," he said.

"What is ultimately needed is a functioning, effective government that will get its act together and take control of its affairs."

S.773: Cybersecurity Act Would Give President Power to 'Shut Down' Internet

By Greg Fulton

April 14, 2009 "Rawstory" -- A recently proposed but little-noticed Senate bill would allow the federal government to shut down the Internet in times of declared emergency, and enables unprecedented federal oversight of private network administration.

The bill's draft states that "the president may order a cybersecurity emergency and order the limitation or shutdown of Internet traffic" and would give the government ongoing access to "all relevant data concerning (critical infrastructure) networks without regard to any provision of law, regulation, rule, or policy restricting such access."

Authored by Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia and Republican Olympia Snowe of Maine, the Cybersecurity Act of 2009 seeks to create a Cybersecurity Czar to centralize power now held by the Pentagon, National Security Agency, Department of Commerce and the Department of Homeland Security.

While the White House has not officially endorsed the draft, it did have a hand in its language, according to The Washington Post.

Proponents of the measure stress the need to centralize cybersecurity of the private sector. "People say this is a military or intelligence concern," says Rockefeller, "but it is a lot more than that. It suddenly gets into the realm of traffic lights and rail networks and water and electricity."

Snowe added, "America's vulnerability to massive cyber-crime, global cyber-espionage and cyber-attacks has emerged as one of the most urgent national security problems facing our country today. Importantly, this legislation loosely parallels the recommendations in the CSIS [Center for Strategic and International Studies] blue-ribbon panel report to President Obama and has been embraced by a number of industry and government thought leaders."

Critics decry the broad language, and are watchful for amendments to the bill seeking to refine the provisions. According to, no amendments to the draft have been submitted.

Organizations like the Center for Democracy and Technology fear if passed in its current form, the proposal leaves too much discretion of just what defines critical infrastructure. The bill would also impose mandates for designated private networks and systems, including standardized security software, testing, licensing and certification of cyber-security professionals.

"I'd be very surprised if it doesn't include communications systems, which are certainly critical infrastructure," CDT General Counsel Greg Nojeim told eWEEK. "The president would decide not only what is critical infrastructure but also what is an emergency."

Adds Jennifer Granick, civil liberties director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, "Essentially, the Act would federalize critical infrastructure security. Since many systems (banks, telecommunications, energy)are in the hands of the private sector, the bill would create a major shift of power away from users and companies to the federal government."


By NWV News writer Jim Kouri
Posted 1:00 AM Eastern
April 15, 2009

The Obama Administration's new Secretary of Homeland Security recently ordered immigration agents to stop their workplace searches for illegal aliens while at the same time denigrating US war veterans and conservative or right-wing groups.

In a warning sent out nationally to local police and law enforcement executives, the Department of Homeland Security is cautioning local police agencies about the alleged rise in “right-wing extremist activity.”

The confidential memorandum states that the election of America’s first black president and the return of a few disgruntled war veterans could swell the ranks of "white-power militias."

An addendum attached to the report by DHS's Intelligence and Analysis Office defines “right-wing extremism in the United States” as including not just racist or hate groups, but also groups that reject federal authority in favor of state or local authority.

“It may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single-issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration,” the warning says.

"This is the shot not heard around the world because the news media are covering up this shocking story. Suddenly, the Obama clique is disparaging not only American citizens but also returning military veterans, who've served their country honorably," said conservative political strategist.

"I believe this memo is the result of the Tea Party movement, which is viewed by the Obama Administration as a rebellion against his socialist and radical policies," said Baker.

When asked for comment on its contents, White House spokesman Nick Shapiro said during a press conference that President Obama is not focused on politics but rather taking the steps necessary to protect all Americans from the threat of violence and terrorism regardless of its origins.

He went on to state that Obama also believes those who serve represent the best of this country, and he will continue to ensure that our veterans receive the respect and benefits they have earned.

However, many police agencies are beginning to question the priorities of this administration.

"What Obama's minions are attempting to do is create friction between local cops and the military," said Detective Sydney Frances (NYPD-Ret.).

"This is Obama's first shot at dissenters who are not willing to turn their nation over to Marxism and socialism," he said in an interview with

According to sources, the nine-page memorandum has been sent to police and sheriff’s departments across the United States on April 7 under the headline, “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment.”

Part of the document states: "Rightwing extremism in the United States can be broadly divided into those groups, movements, and adherents that are primarily hate-oriented (based on hatred of particular religious, racial or ethnic groups), and those that are mainly antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely. It may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration."

Also, he states that the US government “will be working with its state and local partners over the next several months” to gather information on “rightwing extremist activity in the United States.”

Homeland Security spokeswoman Sara Kuban told reporters that the DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano report is one in an ongoing series of assessments by the department to “facilitate a greater understanding of the phenomenon of violent radicalization in the U.S.”

The report claims that extremist groups have used President Obama as a recruiting tool.

“Most statements by rightwing extremists have been rhetorical, expressing concerns about the election of the first African American president, but stopping short of calls for violent action,” the report says. “In two instances in the run-up to the election, extremists appeared to be in the early planning stages of some threatening activity targeting the Democratic nominee, but law enforcement interceded.”

Congressional debates about immigration and gun control also make extremist groups suspicious and give them a rallying cry, the report states.

“It is unclear if either bill will be passed into law; nonetheless, a correlation may exist between the potential passage of gun control legislation and increased hoarding of ammunition, weapons stockpiling, and paramilitary training activities among rightwing extremists,” according to the DHS document.

There is also fear of the number of Americans legally purchasing firearm. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as reported on Fox News, since November, more than 7 million people have applied for criminal background checks in order to buy weapons.

The Homeland Security report added: “Over the past five years, various rightwing extremists, including militias and white supremacists, have adopted the immigration issue as a call to action, rallying point, and recruiting tool.”

"This woman is either stupid or a left-wing ideologue," said Police Officer Eddie Aguayo of New York. "Just because someone wants the feds to do their duty and secure our borders doesn't make them a violent terrorist."

What is frightening many conservative observers is the new targeting of some American citizens and less emphasis on illegal aliens and terrorists.

"Napolitano doesn't even use the term 'terrorist' to describe these killers. She refers to terrorism as 'man-made disasters' and terrorists as militants. Whom does she fear? Conservatives and decorated war heroes," said Baker.

To read more click here.

© 2009 NWV - All Rights Reserved

For radio interviews regarding this article:

Monday, April 13, 2009


By Sarah Foster
Posted 1:00 AM Eastern
April 13, 2009

Rep. Michele Bachmann, a second-term conservative Republican congresswoman from Minnesota, has become the target of an increasingly vicious smear campaign by liberal bloggers for daring to openly criticize her Democratic colleagues and President Obama’s plans for the United States. The latest bash-Bachmann-fest springs from concerns she expressed on a local radio talk show that the AmericaCorps program, which is to be overhauled and vastly expanded through recently passed federal legislation, will morph into a mandatory service program, with young people sent to indoctrination centers for “re-education.”

“It’s under the guise of — quote — volunteerism,” Bachmann told host Sue Jeffers on KTLK-AM in Minneapolis during an interview April 3. “But it’s not volunteers at all. It’s paying people to do work on behalf of government. We had about 75,000 people involved in AmeriCorps before, this adds another 250,000 people, so more government employees – but what’s even more concerning about it is the focus is on young people.”

“The original language of the bill was mandatory service for government,” she continued. “Right now the language is voluntary, but just this last week a Democrat colleague introduced a bill to make this mandatory.

“I believe when is all said and done … there’s a very strong chance that we will see that young people will be put into mandatory service. And the real concern is that there are provisions for what I would call re-education camps for young people, where young people have to go and get trained in a philosophy that the government puts forward and then they have to go and work in some of these politically correct forums.

“So it’s very concerning. It appears that there’s a philosophical agenda behind all of this. And especially if young people are mandated to go into this, as a parent I would have a very, very difficult time seeing my children do this. Again – a huge power grab and it’s at a cost of billions of dollars.”

That was it. During the 15-minute interview Bachmann discussed the dangers of inflation and the national debt, new taxes, and the costs associated with the cap-and-trade policy to deal with the alleged dangers of global warming. But it was her comments about AmeriCorps, in a segment just over two minutes long, that triggered a splenetic outburst of rage across the blogosphere with comments ranging from snarky to obscene. Here are some examples:

At the very left-wing Huffington Post commenter “Skiwee” writes: This woman is a maniac and is dangerous!! How the people of her state voted her back in '08 is beyond me. I've always felt she was a little bit touched, but she has proven me wrong - she's full blown touched.”

From ”TyneCrescent” (also at Huffington Post): “The woman is certainly delusional, and a real embarrassment to the good people of Minnesota, and anyone else anywhere in America who can put together rational thoughts. Obviously, she lacks the mental capacity to do so.”

And, responding to the audio clip on YouTube, “Chicagoken” rants: This woman (Michele Bachman) is paranoid and delusional and needs to be recalled or impeached by her constituency. She is obviously unstable and without the capacity for distinguishing reality from her own fantasy.”

Those are three of the more tempered comments. Dylan and Ethan Ris, at, asked where in the bill are there provisions for mandatory service, at the same time slamming a popular news-site that’s been tracking the issue and the legislation from the moment Obama talked about it during his campaign.

“We're not exactly sure how she [Bachmann] sees North Vietnamese-style re-education camps in the bill, but we're pretty sure her source is the same reputable journalists who fed her the story about Obama replacing the dollar with a New World Order currency -- World Net Daily.”

The GIVE Act

Admittedly, the recently passed landmark bill, H.R. 1388 – originally titled the Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education Act (GIVE), and renamed the Ted Kennedy Serve America Act after its passage by the Senate on March 25 -- does not have a provision for mandatory service … yet. It’s essentially a series of government job programs, for which college students and other young people and seniors can apply and receive stipends and grants for “service oriented” work – just as Rep. Bachmann noted.

H.R. 1388 reauthorized the National and Community Service Act of 1990 and the Domestic Volunteer Service Act of 1973 – the bases for such programs as AmeriCorps, instituted by President Clinton in 1993 and the National Senior Service Corps. H.R. 1388 will increase the number of full-time and part-time “volunteers” from 75,000 to 250,000 by 2014 and create new school-based programs where students will be involved in mentoring, helping with health care programs in low-income communities, increasing energy efficiency, and park clean up.

Introduced by Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.) on March 9, GIVE was zipped through the House and overwhelmingly approved 10 days later by a vote of 321-105. Title VI of the bill originally contained a provision – Sec. 6401 -- providing for the creation of a commission to investigate “Whether a workable, fair, and reasonable mandatory service requirement for all able young people could be developed, and how such a requirement could be implemented in a manner that would strengthen the social fabric of the National and overcome civic challenges by bringing together people from diverse economic, ethnic, and educational backgrounds.”

Title VI, with Section 6401, was removed during debate. However, the bill’s architects anticipated that section would raise red flags, so on March 11, Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) quietly introduced H.R. 1444. It’s identical to Title VI and can be brought forward at any time over the next two years and, if passed, will fit neatly into the existing law.

Bachmann’s Concerns “Prudent and Reasonable”

This is not at unlikely, and Bachmann is not alone or “crazy” because she foresees the possibility of universal mandatory service. contacted Prof. Alan Charles Kors, professor of history at the University of Pennsylvania and noted a authority on indoctrination, particularly of students, for his observations to Bachmann’s comments.

“I think that Rep. Bachmann's prudent and reasonable concerns are not that young people will be herded into ‘camps’ whose goal is ‘re-education,’ but that the ‘training’ for an expanded AmeriCorps, given the growing penchant for highly partisan, politicized, and indecently intrusive ‘sensitivity’ and ‘diversity’ training, will move in an Orwellian direction,” he replied in an e-mail.

A “Real Patriot Act”

Obama and Biden campaigned on the idea of “universal voluntary citizen service,” and presented an outline of their program in a nine-page report: Helping All Americans Serve Their Country, which contains provisions for public schools receiving funds contingent upon developing plans “enabling” youngsters to participate in service projects.

Particularly sinister, Rahm Emanuel – Obama’s chief of staff – made it clear that he favors mandatory service. In his 2006 book The Plan: Big Ideas for America, Emanuel calls for compulsory service for all Americans ages 18-25. He writes (pages 61-62):

“It’s time for a real Patriot Act that brings out the patriot in all of us. We propose universal civilian service for every young American. Under this plan, All Americans between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five will be asked to serve their country by going through three months of basic training, civil defense preparation and community service.” ...

“Here’s how it would work. Young people will know that between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five, the nation will enlist them for three months of civilian service. They’ll be asked to report for three months of basic civil defense training in their state or community, where they will learn what to do in the event of biochemical, nuclear or conventional attack: how to assist others in an evacuation; how to respond when a levee breaks or we’re hit by a natural disaster. These young people will be available to address their communities’ most pressing needs.”

“Squealing” about Freedom

Emanuel and co-author Bruce Reed claim “this is not a draft.” They are also aware that there will be resistance; that “some Republicans will squeal about individual freedom.”

Because of Emanuel’s book, Heritage Foundation in its blog First Principles warned last November that Obama’s critics “may be right”: “[Obama] does favor mandatory service and it might be worse than we thought,” the unidentified author declared.

“That Obama has chosen this man as his chief of staff should give anyone pause. This man has a plan that involves training our youth like soldiers, and calls upon ‘a new patriotism that brings us together again in a common mission’ for his plan which will ‘unite us in a higher national purpose.’”

Earlier Stories

1 - Alan Stang: Michele Bachmann and the Death of the Dollar: April 2, 2009
2 - Lynn Stuter: The Obama Machine Affirms Fear of Losing Office: April 1, 2009
3 - C.J. Graham: Will America Kids Trade Baseball Caps for Mandatory White Helmets? March 28, 2009

© 2009 NWV - All Rights Reserved

Sarah Foster is a researcher and freelance writer:

Hari: You are being lied to about pirates

The story of the 2009 war on piracy was best summarised by another pirate, who lived and died in the fourth century BC. He was captured and brought to Alexander the Great, who demanded to know "what he meant by keeping possession of the sea." The pirate smiled, and responded: "What do you mean by seizing the whole earth; but because I do it with a petty ship, I am called a robber, while you, who do it with a great fleet, are called emperor." Once again, our great imperial fleets sail – but who is the robber?

Johann Hari: You are being lied to about pirates

Some are clearly just gangsters. But others are trying to stop illegal dumping and trawling

Monday, 5 January 2009

Who imagined that in 2009, the world's governments would be declaring a new War on Pirates? As you read this, the British Royal Navy – backed by the ships of more than two dozen nations, from the US to China – is sailing into Somalian waters to take on men we still picture as parrot-on-the-shoulder pantomime villains. They will soon be fighting Somalian ships and even chasing the pirates onto land, into one of the most broken countries on earth. But behind the arrr-me-hearties oddness of this tale, there is an untold scandal. The people our governments are labelling as "one of the great menaces of our times" have an extraordinary story to tell – and some justice on their side.

Pirates have never been quite who we think they are. In the "golden age of piracy" – from 1650 to 1730 – the idea of the pirate as the senseless, savage Bluebeard that lingers today was created by the British government in a great propaganda heave. Many ordinary people believed it was false: pirates were often saved from the gallows by supportive crowds. Why? What did they see that we can't? In his book Villains Of All Nations, the historian Marcus Rediker pores through the evidence.

If you became a merchant or navy sailor then – plucked from the docks of London's East End, young and hungry – you ended up in a floating wooden Hell. You worked all hours on a cramped, half-starved ship, and if you slacked off, the all-powerful captain would whip you with the Cat O' Nine Tails. If you slacked often, you could be thrown overboard. And at the end of months or years of this, you were often cheated of your wages.

Pirates were the first people to rebel against this world. They mutinied – and created a different way of working on the seas. Once they had a ship, the pirates elected their captains, and made all their decisions collectively, without torture. They shared their bounty out in what Rediker calls "one of the most egalitarian plans for the disposition of resources to be found anywhere in the eighteenth century".

They even took in escaped African slaves and lived with them as equals. The pirates showed "quite clearly – and subversively – that ships did not have to be run in the brutal and oppressive ways of the merchant service and the Royal Navy." This is why they were romantic heroes, despite being unproductive thieves.

The words of one pirate from that lost age, a young British man called William Scott, should echo into this new age of piracy. Just before he was hanged in Charleston, South Carolina, he said: "What I did was to keep me from perishing. I was forced to go a-pirateing to live." In 1991, the government of Somalia collapsed. Its nine million people have been teetering on starvation ever since – and the ugliest forces in the Western world have seen this as a great opportunity to steal the country's food supply and dump our nuclear waste in their seas.

Yes: nuclear waste. As soon as the government was gone, mysterious European ships started appearing off the coast of Somalia, dumping vast barrels into the ocean. The coastal population began to sicken. At first they suffered strange rashes, nausea and malformed babies. Then, after the 2005 tsunami, hundreds of the dumped and leaking barrels washed up on shore. People began to suffer from radiation sickness, and more than 300 died.

Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the UN envoy to Somalia, tells me: "Somebody is dumping nuclear material here. There is also lead, and heavy metals such as cadmium and mercury – you name it." Much of it can be traced back to European hospitals and factories, who seem to be passing it on to the Italian mafia to "dispose" of cheaply. When I asked Mr Ould-Abdallah what European governments were doing about it, he said with a sigh: "Nothing. There has been no clean-up, no compensation, and no prevention."

At the same time, other European ships have been looting Somalia's seas of their greatest resource: seafood. We have destroyed our own fish stocks by overexploitation – and now we have moved on to theirs. More than $300m-worth of tuna, shrimp, and lobster are being stolen every year by illegal trawlers. The local fishermen are now starving. Mohammed Hussein, a fisherman in the town of Marka 100km south of Mogadishu, told Reuters: "If nothing is done, there soon won't be much fish left in our coastal waters."

This is the context in which the "pirates" have emerged. Somalian fishermen took speedboats to try to dissuade the dumpers and trawlers, or at least levy a "tax" on them. They call themselves the Volunteer Coastguard of Somalia – and ordinary Somalis agree. The independent Somalian news site WardheerNews found 70 per cent "strongly supported the piracy as a form of national defence".

No, this doesn't make hostage-taking justifiable, and yes, some are clearly just gangsters – especially those who have held up World Food Programme supplies. But in a telephone interview, one of the pirate leaders, Sugule Ali: "We don't consider ourselves sea bandits. We consider sea bandits [to be] those who illegally fish and dump in our seas." William Scott would understand.

Did we expect starving Somalians to stand passively on their beaches, paddling in our toxic waste, and watch us snatch their fish to eat in restaurants in London and Paris and Rome? We won't act on those crimes – the only sane solution to this problem – but when some of the fishermen responded by disrupting the transit-corridor for 20 per cent of the world's oil supply, we swiftly send in the gunboats.

The story of the 2009 war on piracy was best summarised by another pirate, who lived and died in the fourth century BC. He was captured and brought to Alexander the Great, who demanded to know "what he meant by keeping possession of the sea." The pirate smiled, and responded: "What do you mean by seizing the whole earth; but because I do it with a petty ship, I am called a robber, while you, who do it with a great fleet, are called emperor." Once again, our great imperial fleets sail – but who is the robber?

Related Stories:

US captain held by Somali pirates is freed

US navy eyeballs Somali pirates in hostage standoff 11 Apr 2009 Somali elders sought to mediate between the U.S. navy and pirates holding an American hostage today in a high-seas standoff that presents President Barack Obama with a nasty new dilemma. Four pirates adrift in a lifeboat far out in the Indian Ocean with Richard Phillips, the American captain of a cargo ship they tried to seize on Wednesday, have demanded $2 million for his release and a guarantee of their own safety.

Officials: FBI launches criminal piracy probe11 Apr 2009 FBI agents are investigating the Somali pirates who hijacked a U.S. ship and are holding its captain hostage, U.S. officials said Saturday, raising the possibility of federal charges against the men if they are captured.

U.S. shipped 989 munitions containers to Israel week before Gaza invasion

Australian Herald
Friday 10th April, 2009

A week before Israel launched an aerial bombing campaign on Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, the U.S. military shipped 989 20-foot containers of munitions, each weighing 14,000 tonnes, to Israel.

In the dying days of the Bush administration, and a week before Israel launched an aerial bombing campaign, followed by a land invasion of the Gaza Strip, the U.S. military shipped 989 containers of munitions to Israel.

Each container was 20-feet long with a total estimated net weight of 14,000 tonnes. The shipment reportedly reached Israel last month at Ashod, 40 kiometres north of Gaza. The huge arsenal of munitions will replenish those expended in the Gaza War.

According to Amnesty International in the UK, the shipment included white phosphorous.

The international organization says 300 of the containers had been unloaded at Ashod in March by a German cargo ship, Wehr Elb.

"We are sure that the consignment contained arms and munitions." We have a strong suspicion that it contained white phosphorous which has been used against civilians in Gaza," Brian Wood, head of Arms Control Campaign at Amnesty International in London said late this week.

"The cargo ship had been chartered and controlled by US Military Sealift Command. It left the USA for Israel on December 20, one week before the start of Israeli attacks on Gaza. The vessel was carrying 989 containers of munitions, each of them 20-feet long with a total estimated net weight of 14,000 tonnes," he said.

"The world community including the Palestinians should be able to know where the remaining 680 containers on board the Wehr Elbe have gone and why the US is not transparent about the final destination of the dangerous cargo.

"A Pentagon spokesperson confirmed to Amnesty International that "the unloading of the entire US munitions shipment was successfully completed at Ashdod on March 22," Wood pointed out.

The spokesperson had said the shipment was destined for a US pre-positioned munitions stockpile in Israel, he said. Under a US-Israel agreement, munitions from this stockpile may be transferred for Israeli use if necessary.
"There is a great risk that the new munitions may be used by the Israeli military to commit further violations of international law, like the ones committed during the war in Gaza," Wood said.

"Legally and morally, this US arms shipment should have been halted by the Obama administration given the extent of the evidence showing how military equipment and munitions of this kind were recently used by the Israeli forces for war crimes. Arms supplies in these circumstances are contrary to provisions in US law," he said.

An independent inquiry into possible abuses of international law by both sides in the Gaza conflict has been launched by the United Nations. The panel is being headed by Justice Richard J Goldstone of South Africa.

"The victims of this brutal conflict have a right to justice and reparation. The perpetrators on both sides must be held accountable if there is to be an end to the cycles of violence and impunity that have persisted for so long. There must be no excuse for either Israel or the Palestinians not to fully cooperate with the inquiry,' Amnesty's Middle East and North Africa Programme Director Malcolm Smart said this week.

Thursday, April 9, 2009


AFP on the trail of Bilderberg group: Site near Athens, Greece, is verified to be scene of 2009 globalist Bilderberg meeting.

By James P. Tucker, Jr.

Bilderberg will return to its 1993 crime scene when it attempts to meet secretly in Vouliagmeni, Greece, May 14-17. Bilderberg will return to the grounds of Nafsika Astir Palace hotels in Vouliagmeni, 20 miles outside Athens, and meet behind guards at the Westin Nafsika.

High on the Bilderberg agenda will be how to manipulate the global economic crisis for their selfish interests. They will pressure both European and North American nations to pull back from “protectionism” in the later meetings of heads of state. Since the international financiers and high officials of government see themselves as “citizens of the world” and scorn “nationalism,” their only loyalty is bankrolls, not their country. They love free trade, essential for world government.

Thus, they are determined that the United States and other nations refuse to impose tariffs that would equalize competition at the water’s edge. They want to continue shipping U.S. manufacturing jobs overseas where cheap labor may be exploited. They want to continue importing products made by slave labor in China and Africa, underselling domestic products.

Bilderberg, a secret elitist group that meets each spring at posh resorts protected by armed guards, uniformed police, sometimes the host nation’s military plus a brigade of private, plain-clothes guards, tries hard to keep its deliberations secret. But, with help from the European media and with inside sources, their mischief is always revealed to this newspaper.

Bilderberg has a dutiful son in President Barack Obama who will be told to press ahead with the North American Union, which is to be expanded throughout the Western Hemisphere into an “American Union” similar to the European Union. Ultimately, with creation of an “Asian-Pacific Union,” the world is to be divided into three great regions for the administrative convenience of a global government of the UN. Following orders, Obama has a platoon of Bilderberg luminaries in his administration.

But Bilderberg has had problems for years in trying to impose its will on the globe. When meeting in Greece 19 years ago, it was celebrating President Bill Clinton’s promise to sign the Rio Treaty on global warming, which would have surrendered U.S. wealth and sovereignty to international bureaucrats.

Clinton, who attended Bilderberg in 2001 and was elected president in 2002, did sign the Rio Treaty but a test vote in the Senate showed ratification would be overwhelmingly rejected. It is still pending and Bilderberg boys are depressed.

AFP editor James P. Tucker Jr. is a veteran journalist who spent many years as a member of the “elite” media in Washington. Since 1975 he has won widespread recognition, here and abroad, for his pursuit of on-the-scene stories reporting the intrigues of global power blocs such as the Bilderberg Group. Tucker is the author of Jim Tucker’s Bilderberg Diary: One Man’s 25-Year Battle to Shine the Light on the World Shadow Government. Bound in an attractive full-color softcover and containing 272 pages—loaded with photos, many never published before—the book recounts Tucker’s experiences over the last quarter century at Bilderberg meetings. $25 from AFP. No charge for S&H in U.S. (Issue # 14, April 6, 2009)

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