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Friday, January 30, 2009

The US Cannot Afford to Retreat to Protectionism

 
Now gentleman and ladies, ask yourself, what trade can the US afford to lose? We need Midddle East oil and Venezuelan oil, We need the Chinese to buy our debt so that we can purchase their goods, which we need for many reasons. We need people to buy Caterpillar tractors, Apple computers and Boeing aircraft. 

Good trade creates wealth. Inexpensive goods helps to increase the quality of life.

All along, we should have favored trade within the Americas.We can still do that and not exclude those who trade fairly with us. At this time, we cannot afford to further fracture world trade and commerce. 

As for the relevance of the young Latina, it's Friday night. Enjoy it.
_________________

Obama Will Review Buy American Provision in Stimulus


By Roger Runningen and Hans Nichols

Jan. 30 (Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama’s administration will examine a “buy American” requirement in economic stimulus legislation that has raised concern among U.S. trading partners, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said.

The administration “will review that particular provision,” Gibbs said today at his regular briefing. The president’s advisers understand “all of the concerns that have been heard, not only in this room, but in newspapers produced both up north and down south.”

He refused to say whether the administration supported or opposed keeping that part of the legislation intact. Nor did he say what the president would do if the provision remains once the bill clears the House and the Senate.

The issue may cloud Obama’s trip to Canada on Feb. 19, his first journey outside U.S. borders as president. Officials in Canada, the top U.S. trade partner, are criticizing a part of legislation that passed the U.S. House of Representatives Jan. 28 that requires the use of U.S.-made iron and steel in infrastructure projects.

“U.S. protectionism is about to make Canada’s recession a lot worse,” Ralph Goodale, house leader for the opposition Liberal Party, said today in Parliament.

‘Serious Matter’

Prime Minister Stephen Harper said yesterday that he will complain to U.S. officials over the “buy American” measure. “This is obviously a serious matter,” he said.

The provision also is opposed by U.S. companies with significant sales overseas such as General Electric Co. and Caterpillar Inc., which warn it may spark other countries to retaliate by restricting U.S. products.

The Senate is working on its own version of the stimulus legislation.

The U.S. provision is “clearly against trade agreements,” and Canada would be able to file a complaint under either the North American Free Trade Agreement or with the World Trade Organization, said Simon Potter, an international trade lawyer with McCarthy Tetrault in Montreal.

Harper is proposing a C$40 billion ($32.6 billion) plan to boost Canada’s economy, which like the U.S. is being gripped by a recession. Canada ships about three-quarters of its goods to the U.S. and is being squeezed by plunging demand here.

“I don’t think there’s any doubt that trade is going to be on an agenda for a bilateral meeting between the United States and Canada,” Gibbs said.

Mr. Blair Has His Doubts About Iraq.



Another one of our rulers and masters with feet of clay.  

From the Telegraph:

_________________________

Mr Blair, now an international envoy to the Middle East, spoke of his "sense of responsibility" over the deaths of soldiers and civilians since the 2003 invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.

Asked if he suffered from doubt over Iraq, Mr Blair replied: "Of course you ask that question the whole time. You'd be weird if you didn't ask that question."

Mr Blair spoke in an interview with The Times, which is due to be published on Saturday.

In some of his frankest comments on the Iraq war, he spoke of his daily reflections on the decision and its consequences.
He said: "The most difficult thing in any set of circumstances is the sense of responsibility for people who have given their lives and fallen – the soldiers and the civilians. If I did not feel that, there really would be something wrong with me, and there is not a single day of my life when I do not reflect upon it . . . many times. And that's as it should be."

Yet Mr Blair still stands by his decision to back the US invasion of Iraq, suggesting it could actually have saved lives.
He said: "On the other hand you have to take the decision and I look at the Middle East now and I think, well, if Saddam and his two sons were still running Iraq how many other people would have died and would the region be more stable?"


"The phrase comes from the Old Testament (Dan.2:31-32). There the Hebrew captain Daniel interprets a dream for Nebuchadnezzar, founder of the new Babylonian Empire. Nebuchadnezzar had dreamed of a giant idol with golden head, silver arms and chest, brass thighs and body, and iron legs. Only the feet of this image, compounded of iron and potter's clay, weren't made wholly of metal. Daniel told Nebuchadnezzar that the clay feet of the figure made it vulnerable, that it prophesized the breaking apart of his empire. Over the years readers of the Bible were struck with the phrase 'feet of clay' in the story and it was used centuries ago to describe an unexpected flaw or vulnerable point in the character of a hero or any admired person." From the "Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins" by Robert Hendrickson

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Who is to blame?


Some very very smart people are very very worried, and they should be.

Too many people that should have known better did not do their jobs.

Tax codes, regulations, lack of regulations, social engineering, a disproportionate and insane investment in residential real estate, a war we never needed, a prescription medicare program paid for by borrowing from the Chinese. Buying with borrowed money and leveraging our homes all as if it would all never end.

The Republicans now are piously seeing too much government spending. What did I miss over the last eight years?
_________________

News Corp.’s Murdoch Says No Hiding From Credit Woes

By Christine Harper and Kristen Schweizer

Jan. 28 (Bloomberg) --
News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch said there’s no hiding from the worsening global economic crisis, and stressed the need for quick and “drastic action” to turn the tide.

People worldwide are “depressed and traumatized” to see their life savings, including homes and pension funds, disappearing, Murdoch said at a press briefing in Davos, Switzerland, today.

“It would be very foolish if we said here we are, we had a crisis, and how do we get out of it quickly,” he said. “The crisis is getting worse. When you get to the real economy, values are still going down.”

New York-based media company News Corp. in November reduced its fiscal 2009 profit forecast because of reduced ad sales at its newspapers and Fox television.

“You have world financial markets, it doesn’t really matter where you’re talking about in the world,” Murdoch said. “There’s no hiding place, the world financial markets are in a great state of disarray.”


Have another drink and smile!



Bobal's request

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

"The geniuses of capitalism who lost $15 billion in three months and helped usher in socialism."



An excellent column by Maureen Dowd on our masters and rulers of the financial world. Here is her finish and Amen:

...New York’s attorney general, Andrew Cuomo, always gratifying on the issue of clawing back money from the greedy creeps on Wall Street, on Tuesday subpoenaed Thain, the former Merrill Lynch chief executive, over $4 billion in bonuses he handed out as the failing firm was bought by Bank of America. (Bonuses we helped pay.)

In an interview with Maria Bartiromo on CNBC, Thain used the specious, contemptible reasoning that other executives use to rationalize why they’re keeping their bonuses as profits are plunging.

“If you don’t pay your best people, you will destroy your franchise” and they’ll go elsewhere, he said.

Hello? They destroyed the franchise. Let’s call their bluff. Let’s see what a great job market it is for the geniuses of capitalism who lost $15 billion in three months and helped usher in socialism.

Bartiromo also asked Thain to explain, when jobs and salaries were being cut at his firm, how he could justify spending $1 million to renovate his office. As The Daily Beast and CNBC reported, big-ticket items included curtains for $28,000, a pair of chairs for $87,000, fabric for a “Roman Shade” for $11,000, Regency chairs for $24,000, six wall sconces for $2,700, a $13,000 chandelier in the private dining room and six dining chairs for $37,000, a “custom coffee table” for $16,000, an antique commode “on legs” for $35,000, and a $1,400 “parchment waste can.”

Does that mean you can only throw used parchment in it or is it made of parchment? It’s psychopathic to spend a million redoing your office when the folks outside it are losing jobs, homes, pensions and savings.

Thain should never rise above the level of stocking the money in A.T.M.’s again. Just think: This guy could have been Treasury secretary if John McCain had won.

Bartiromo pressed: What was wrong with the office of his predecessor, Stanley O’Neal?

“Well — his office was very different — than — the — the general décor of — Merrill’s offices,” Thain replied. “It really would have been — very difficult — for — me to use it in the form that it was in.”

Did it have a desk and a phone?

How are these ruthless, careless ghouls who murdered the economy still walking around (not to mention that sociopathic sadist Bernie Madoff?) — and not as perps?

Bring on the shackles. Let the show trials begin."

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Valentine's Day Shopping Ideas




Ships Trapped in Ice in Canada


Today, January 27, a cruise ship carrying 300 passengers that was lodged in thick ice in the St. Lawrence River was freed after more than 30 hours with the help of a Canadian Coast Guard ice breaker. Undoubtedly the passengers on the cruise ship were searching for evidence of global warming.

Is Obama naive or a true believer?


President Obama will make this comment tonight in an interview with the Muslim media:


(referring to Zawahiri and Osama bin Laden ) There's no actions that they've taken that say a child in the Muslim world is getting a better education because of them, or has better health care because of them.

In my inauguration speech, I spoke about: You will be judged on what you've built, not what you've destroyed. And what they've been doing is destroying things. And over time, I think the Muslim world has recognized that that path is leading no place, except more death and destruction.

Now, my job is to communicate the fact that the United States has a stake in the well-being of the Muslim world, that the language we use has to be a language of respect. I have Muslim members of my family. I have lived in Muslim countries.


This is a hearts and minds mission. It is no less a mission than the one GWB took on when he thought he could democratize the Middle East. Unfortunately, there is a growing Muslim fifth column in Europe and their hearts and minds are not concerned with education and health care.

Obama must really be sincere that he can change hearts and minds, and that that my friends is unfortunate.

Monday, January 26, 2009

EU to take only the best sort of detainee from Guantanamo




E.U.: U.S. Must Show Guantanamo Detainees Pose No Risk


By SHAWN POGATCHNIK
Washington Post
Monday, January 26, 2009; 12:47 PM

BRUSSELS, Belgium -- European Union leaders said Monday they are willing to take prisoners being released from the U.S. detention camp at Guantanamo Bay _ but only after detailed screening to ensure they don't import a terrorist.

Foreign ministers from the 27-nation bloc discussed the fate of up to 60 Guantanamo inmates who, if freed, cannot be returned to their homelands because they would face abuse, imprisonment or death. The prisoners come from Azerbaijan, Algeria, Afghanistan, Chad, China, Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, whose nation played a lead role in Monday's discussions on Guantanamo, said the European Commission will draft a formal plan in coming weeks defining a common course for EU members to pursue with the new U.S. administration of President Barack Obama. In his first week in office, Obama ordered Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba to be closed within a year.

Kouchner said the European plan was likely to include a formal EU request for legal and security experts to visit the prison _ and interview potential immigrants about where they wanted to resettle and why.



But Kouchner said Europe still had far too many unanswered questions to commit to accepting any particular prisoners. He said the U.S. and EU had yet to nail down whether prisoners would be legally treated as refugees or asylum-seekers, whether they would face heavy security restrictions in their new homes _ and whether some prisoners were simply too dangerous to come to Europe at all.

"Yes, of course this is risky," Kouchner told The Associated Press in an interview. "So we have to think about each case, and not to accept anything or anyone easily. It will be a long process." He said France would accept released prisoners "under extreme, precise conditions only."

"Legally this is difficult. Each of the 27 nations, they have different positions and different legal frameworks to accept or to refuse such people," he said.

While the French appeared keen to press other EU members on the issue, their successors as EU president _ the Czechs _ admitted that most nations were hoping to minimize their involvement with Guantanamo's homeless.

"Nobody is hot about it, that's perfectly true," said Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, referring to Monday's informal lunchtime talks about taking Guantanamo prisoners.

"We have to clear (up) a lot of things with the other side, too," he said, referring to the Obama administration.

The U.S. Defense Department says that, of the more than 240 prisoners currently in Guantanamo, about 100 are considered too dangerous to be released from U.S. custody; about 80 could face criminal charges in U.S. courts but could be freed if acquitted; and about 60 have been cleared for release _ but cannot be sent home because their own countries would likely harm them.

Of those 60, only 19 _ chiefly ethnic Uighurs from China _ have been reclassified as civilians, while the rest remain "enemy combatants."

A report in Monday's Washington Post said many case files of Guantanamo inmates were in disarray, suggesting that any candidates for resettlement in Europe could be months away from security vetting.

Some EU foreign ministers said their own countries _ long critical of the Bush administration's operation of Guantanamo _ would be accused of hypocrisy if they didn't take at least one ex-prisoner and were seen to be helping Obama with the shutdown.

"There is no question that chief responsibility to do with solving the problem of this detention center lies with those who set it up, the Americans themselves," said German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier. "But it is also a question of our credibility _ of whether we support the dismantling of this American camp or not."

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said Britain had its plate full in dealing with its own nationals in U.S. custody and ruled out taking ex-prisoners from other nations.

He said Britain had already taken nine British nationals and three foreigners who have British residency rights, while the cases of two others still in Guantanamo were being processed.

"We feel that is already a significant contribution," Miliband said. "We're happy to offer our experience to other European countries, as they think about what steps they want to make, to help in the closure of Guantanamo Bay."

Finland's foreign minister, Alexander Stubb, emphasized the widespread view that the U.S. administration was not yet in position to clear any terror suspects.

"We are jumping the gun here a little bit, because the Americans haven't given us an offer or required us to take anyone on board," Stubb said.


Muslim Mob in London Over BBC Refusal to Broadcast Aid Appeal for Palestinians



Hat Tip: Bobal

In bad economic times, it will only get worse. The veneer of civilization is thin. So said Edgar Rice Burroughs in 1910.

"Civilization (which is part of the circle of his imaginings) has spread a veneer over the surface of the softshelled animal known as man. It is a very thin veneer; but so wonderfully is man constituted that he squirms on his bit of achievement and believes he is garbed in armor-plate.
Yet man to-day is the same man that drank from his enemy's skull in the dark German forests, that sacked cities, and stole his women from neighboring clans like any howling aborigine. The flesh-and-blood body of man has not changed in the last several thousand years. Nor has his mind changed. There is no faculty of the mind of man to-day that did not exist in the minds of the men of long ago

It is the same old animal man, smeared over, it is true, with a veneer, thin and magical, that makes him dream drunken dreams of self-exaltation and to sneer at the flesh and the blood of him beneath the smear. The raw animal crouching within him is like the earthquake monster pent in the crust of the earth. As he persuades himself against the latter till it arouses and shakes down a city, so does he persuade himself against the former until it shakes him out of his dreaming and he stands undisguised, a brute like any other brute."

________________

Protests at BBC headquarters after refusal to screen appeal
ALISON CHIESA. The Herald
January 26 2009

Protests over the BBC's refusal to screen an emergency appeal for Gaza gathered pace over the weekend, with demonstrations held in Glasgow and London adding to criticism by politicians, celebrities and church leaders.

More than 50 MPs are due to back a parliamentary motion today urging the BBC to screen an emergency aid appeal to help those affected by the conflict with Israel after the corporation refused to back down last night, despite thousands of complaints from the public.

The BBC said it had received approximately 11,000 complaints, including 1000 phone calls, over its decision not to broadcast the advert for the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC).

Last night, supporters of Scottish Stop the War Coalition and Palestinian groups held a demonstration in the foyer of the BBC's Scottish headquarters in Glasgow before dispersing around 9pm.

Among those lending support to the protesters was Solidarity leader Tommy Sheridan. He said: "Solidarity members are involved in this protest, I salute their action and call on the BBC to be impartial on this issue. The Israeli PM Olmert has made it clear he considers war crimes against Palestinians by the IDF (Israeli Defence Forces) to be justified. The BBC are joining him in presenting humanitarian aid to Gazans as action against Israel."

Samantha Morton last night pledged never to work for the BBC again, if it fails to show the appeal. The 31-year-old Golden Globe winner and Oscar nominee said she was embarrassed to earn money from a corporation that would take such a "horrific" and "disgusting" decision.

Stop the War said it had about 100 people at yesterday's Glasgow protest. Strathclyde Police put the number at around 50, and said the demonstration was orderly and there had been no arrests.

BBC Director-General Mark Thompson has already rejected a plea from International Development Secretary Douglas Alexander to screen the appeal, warning that a broadcast could compromise the impartiality of BBC reporting from the Palestinian territory.

The motion, to be tabled today by Labour's Richard Burden, has received the support of 51 MPs from across the Commons.

On Saturday, thousands of people demonstrated against the decision outside the BBC's Broadcasting House in London.

The corporation's rival terrestrial broadcasters - ITV, Channel 4 and Five - said they would show the advert, and Sky is considering its position.

The DEC - which includes several major aid charities - wants the appeal to be broadcast on television and radio from today.

Mr Burden, a member of the Commons International Development Committee, said he had written to Mr Thompson to press for an explanation for the BBC's decision. "This is not about taking sides in the conflict. It is about providing urgent help to people in desperate need," he said.

Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond also agreed it was the "wrong decision" by the BBC.

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg yesterday told BBC1's Andrew Marr Show it was an "insult" to viewers to suggest they could not distinguish between the humanitarian needs of children and families and the "political sensitivities of the Middle East".

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York, Dr Rowan Williams and Dr John Sentamu, also joined critics and urged the BBC to "wake up and get on with it".

But Culture Secretary Andy Burnham said it was right that broadcasters made their own decisions. He told Sky News: "I think these are difficult judgments for all broadcasters, but particularly so for the BBC because of the way in which it is funded."

Mr Thompson wrote in a BBC blog on Saturday: "The danger for the BBC is that this could be interpreted as taking a political stance on an ongoing story."


Sunday, January 25, 2009

Maureen Dowd Gets Testy


"Thanks guys!"

This is choice. It shows just how far the Republicans have fallen thanks to what's his name. The Democrats are railing at each other and ignoring the stupid party.

Look at this cast: Caroline Kennedy, the Clintons, the absolutely crackers, Blago, and of course, Chuck Schumer, everyone's fave narcissist. Now, how can you not enjoy this?
____________________

Which Governor Is Wackier?

By MAUREEN DOWD
January 24, 2009
WASHINGTON

The New York Times
Maureen Dowd




I love Blago.

I love his beady little eyes. I love his Serbian shock of hair. I love his flaring nostrils. I love the way he jogs through the snow under indictment, like a stork in spandex trying to gallop. I love the way he compares himself in quick order to Pearl Harbor, Oliver Wendell Holmes and a dead cowboy.

I love the hurly-burly way the Illinois governor rammed through his choice for the Senate, compared with the namby-pamby way the New York governor strangled his best choice for the Senate.

So now we have an N.R.A. handmaiden in Bobby Kennedy’s old seat? Kirsten Gillibrand, a k a Tracy Flick, accepting the honor with her Republican pal Al D’Amato beside her on stage? Gross.

After quoting Kipling and Tennyson in previous shameless press conferences, Blago moved on to an old cowboy movie analogy on Friday to explain why he should be allowed to call Rahm Emanuel, Valerie Jarrett and Jesse Jackson Jr. as witnesses at the impeachment trial he’s refusing to attend.

“There was an old saying in the Old West,” he said. “There was a cowboy who was charged with stealing a horse in town. And some of the other cowboys, especially the guy whose horse was stolen, were very unhappy with that guy. And one of the cowboys said, ‘Let’s hang him.’ Then the other cowboys said: ‘Hold on. Before we hang him, let’s first give him a fair trial. Then we’ll hang him.’ Under these rules, I’m not even getting a fair trial. They’re just hanging me.”

Raising his own high bar for chutzpah, he complained to The Associated Press about his arrest, “Dec. 9 to my family, to us, to me, is what Pearl Harbor Day was to the United States.”

Even though he is accused of pressuring The Chicago Tribune — fire members of the editorial board who had criticized him or lose his help in selling the prime asset Wrigley Field — Blago called on The Tribune to write editorials defending his rights.

Mayor Richard Daley pronounced Blago “cuckoo.” Governor Paterson is simply a goofball.

Paterson could have acted a month ago, or even a week ago. There was no reason not to, certainly not his claim that he had to wait for Hillary, ad nauseam, to exit to State. Colorado’s governor named Michael Bennet senator two and a half weeks before Ken Salazar resigned his seat for the Interior Department.

Then the Democrats would have had another Kennedy in the Senate representing New York — Bobby’s niece and a smart, policy-oriented, civic-minded woman to whom the president feels deeply indebted in an era when every state has its hand out.

Instead they have Gillibrand, who voted against the Wall Street — as in New York — bailout bill. And who introduced a bill to balance the federal budget annually, which suggests she would oppose the $825 billion in deficit spending that President Obama proposes to rescue the country, not least New York.

Paterson’s five weeks of dithering let the jealous vindictiveness of the Clintons and friends — still fuming over Caroline’s endorsement of Obama and Teddy’s blocking Hillary from a leading health care role in the Senate — poison the air. With his usual sense of entitlement and aggrievement, Bill Clinton of Arkansas did not want Caroline Kennedy of New York to have the seat that Hillary Clinton of Illinois held.

Paterson wasn’t thinking of New York, only of how an upstate ally who was a woman would bolster his own chances for re-election. We can only hope that an avenging Andrew Cuomo takes him out in a primary.

The 42-year-old Gillibrand, who has been in the House for only two years, is known as opportunistic and sharp- elbowed. Tracy Flick is her nickname among colleagues in the New York delegation, many of whom were M.I.A. at her Albany announcement.

Fellow Democrats were warning Harry Reid on Friday that he was going to have his hands full with the new senator because she’s “a pain.”

Chuck Schumer embraced Gillibrand because at long last he can be the best-known senator from New York, something that would have been impossible with Kennedy.

The governor who began his accidental tenure, thanks to Client 9, by confessing his infidelities and drug use had so little class that he trashed Kennedy while letting her hang out to dry, then let aides trash her even after she dropped out.

Kennedy friends said that, as Caroline was pulling out for family reasons, the governor made a crude attempt to control the spin — a childish “You can’t quit, I’m firing you” power play.

Carolyn McCarthy, who ran for Congress on an antigun platform after her husband was killed and her son wounded by a gunman on the Long Island Rail Road in 1993, said she may challenge the “N.R.A. poster child” in 2010.

She had the best line Friday, wondering about the chuckle-headed governor: “Who’s in control up there?”



Saturday, January 24, 2009

Swim suit contestants then and now.

Some of the blogs and papers are making a big deal of the girls in the current 2009 swimsuit competition as if there is something new about toned bodies in woman. Having dated a few swimmers and track stars when I was in my twenties I do recall a toned body or two. My investigation confirmed my suspicions with this 1936 photo. Remove the suits and not much else has changed.

Swimsuit contestants 1936

The Current Crop is Below



Jennifer Lynn Hepner, Miss Montana, Elise Davis, Miss Idaho, Natalie C. Shaw, Miss New Hampshire, Emily Ann Cox, Miss Kentucky, and Karissa Renee' Martin, Miss Ohio




Gretchen Bergquist, Miss Nebraska


Miss New York Leigh-Taylor Smith

The scene of the accident

The world economy is a car wreck
in a cloak of steam and smoke and fog.
Wheels spin round and round in the darkness.
In the twisted steel, lay the wounded, dead and dying.
In the silence comes the sounds of suffering, steam and sirens.
In the first light of day comes the wailing.


No one has a crystal ball but in midst of our current systemic meltdown, we have doubts, anxiety and questions about inflation, deflation, recession, and depression. We wonder about the nature of assets, debt and the loss of wealth. What is the future of the Banking industry? Can small banks or credit unions fill a gap or will we resort to government banks to provide the credit needed for a vibrant economy. What will capitalism look like when the smoke clears? Will we see the rise of reregulation? How big, really, is the Gross Domestic Product? What will the global realignment look like? Is this the decline and fall of the United States? Are we seeing the crib death of the European Union? What next for the BRICS?

Economy, Jobs Trump All Other Policy Priorities In 2009
Is the world, particularly Britain on the brink of economic depression?
One word for investors...antidepressants.

Battle for the soul of the Republican party.
Obama attempts divide and conquer strategy, while Rush Limbaugh warns the rank and file about the efforts of the Rockefeller wing to purge southern conservatives.


Friday, January 23, 2009

Obama Disconcerts

I, as most Americans, do not  care  about six hundred  sociopath killers and killer wannabees doing stir in Guantanamo. Guantanamo was always an obscenity, not because it was cruel but because it was outrageously expensive and overly dramatic and contrived. 

What ever was accomplished in Gitmo could have been done in a shipping container in Kabul. I would bet that the American tax payer has paid $100,000,000 per prisoner. That is not why Obama was elected. Remember the "economy stupid?"

Obama won because a majority are rightly scared about the economic condition of the USA and they had no faith in John McCain. Obama would be better served, holding the lefty razzle dazzle and focus on the real threat, which is the truly obscene economic wreck left by Bush.

Thursday, January 22, 2009



Mexico police chief's head found in ice box
The head of a Mexican police chief was delivered to his colleagues in an ice box in the country's latest drug-related violence.

Last Updated: 6:31PM GMT 20 Jan 2009

The incident came as 16 other people were also killed in Mexico's northern state of Chihuahua in attacks the authorities believe are linked to the country's drug wars.

"Hitmen cut off commander Martin Castro's head and left it in an ice cooler in front of the local police station," said a statement issued by the state justice authorities.

His head was left in the town Praxedis with a message from the powerful Sinaloa drug cartel.

The police commander was abducted on Saturday, along with five other police officers and a civilian, only five days after starting his job.

Six bodies in police uniforms bearing signs of torture and gunshot wounds were found on Monday in a street in the state capital, Chihuahua, officials said.

Hitmen killed four men in separate attacks in the violent border city of Ciudad Juarez, while six others, including a woman, were found dead in other towns across the state.

Mexican police and soldiers are battling a wave of drug-related violence across the country, particularly in northern areas bordering the US, with more than 5,300 people killed last year.

The federal government launched a campaign against drug-related violence more than two years ago involving the deployment of around 36,000 troops across the country.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Obama Failed to Sieze the Moment. Berlin Redux?



You can't win them all. Every public figure soon learns than there is no revise and resubmit outside of the Senate. It would be more interesting to hear what was not recorded. How about the first night in the Presidential bed.

Do you think Michelle said something along the lines of..."I've never done a president before"

Just wondering.

______________
Barack Obama inauguration: his worst speech
Posted By: Alex Spillius at Jan 20, 2009 at 19:56:31 Telegraph

Barack Obama, history, inauguration, past, speech

QUITE a day, but not much of speech unfortunately. Obama got where he is by speechifying, but this effort would not have won him many votes. It was his worst on a grand stage, though still better than most politicians could muster.

The delivery, as ever, was first class, but the message was wasn't clear enough and the language not insufficiently inspiring.

As soon as the applause had died down, an African American standing man near me on the Mall said to his friend: "I thought the speech was shit." Another woman said, correctly, that "we had heard it all before at other events".

In a way Obama was a victim of his own success. Having given so many dynamic speeches he had set his own bar very high. What he tried to do at his inauguration was tell Americans that they had to sacrifice to make gains, while making them believe this was well within their capabilities. The emphasis on sacrifice was too weak however.

To the disappointment of many black people in the crowd, he also made but one reference to the enormity of a black man occupying the White House for the first time. Obama has never laboured the issue of his race, but on this historic day the issue needed more.

Jon Favreau, his co-writer, recently admitted that he had been pouring over previous inaugural speeches. That might have been a bad idea. Obama seemed weighed down by the past, and failed to seize the moment.


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

George Bush Did Not Deserve This. Neither Did President Obama



First, I am on an extended business trip to Central America and am in and out of areas with poor communications. I expected to be back in the States for the inauguration, but just caught some on replay. This clip is very disturbing. There is a time and place to express your opinion. George Bush left a lot to be desired as a leader and POTUS. That criticism does not belong in a public state function. That it happened does not surprise me but certainly saddens me as it is obvious that the public behavior of many Americans is loutish on a good day.

On Sunday i happened to be in the company of some very conservative Cuban expats who thought is was quite remarkable that I expressed the opinion that the office is more important than the man and Barack Obama is my president now, regardless of my preference and vote. I gladly accepted their toast and genuine appreciation of what it means to be an American. It is regrettable that many in the world will see this video.


Sunday, January 18, 2009

A Prison of Nations -The folly of the EU


Monetary union has left half of Europe trapped in depression


By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard Telegraph
Last Updated: 9:36AM GMT 18 Jan 2009

Events are moving fast in Europe. The worst riots since the fall of Communism have swept the Baltics and the south Balkans. An incipient crisis is taking shape in the Club Med bond markets. S&P has cut Greek debt to near junk. Spanish, Portuguese, and Irish bonds are on negative watch.

Dublin has nationalised Anglo Irish Bank with its half-built folly on North Wall Quay and €73bn (£65bn) of liabilities, moving a step nearer the line where markets probe the solvency of the Irish state.

A great ring of EU states stretching from Eastern Europe down across Mare Nostrum to the Celtic fringe are either in a 1930s depression already or soon will be. Greece's social fabric is unravelling before the pain begins, which bodes ill.
Each is a victim of ill-judged economic policies foisted upon them by elites in thrall to Europe's monetary project – either in EMU or preparing to join – and each is trapped.

As UKIP leader Nigel Farage put it in a rare voice of dissent at the euro's 10th birthday triumph in Strasbourg, EMU-land has become a Völker-Kerker – a "prison of nations", to borrow from the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

This week, Riga's cobbled streets became a war zone. Protesters armed with blocks of ice smashed up Latvia's finance ministry. Hundreds tried to force their way into the legislature, enraged by austerity cuts.

"Trust in the state's authority and officials has fallen catastrophically," said President Valdis Zatlers,
who called for the dissolution of parliament.

In Lithuania, riot police fired rubber-bullets on a trade union march. Dogs chased stragglers into the Vilnia river. A demonstration outside Bulgaria's parliament in Sofia turned violent on Wednesday. These three states are all members of the Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM2), the euro's pre-detention cell. They must join. It is written into their EU contracts.

The result of subjecting ex-Soviet catch-up economies to the monetary regime of the leaden West has been massive overheating. Latvia's current account deficit hit 26pc of GDP. Riga property prices surpassed Berlin.
The inevitable bust is proving epic. Latvia's property group Balsts says Riga flat prices have fallen 56pc since mid-2007. The economy contracted 18pc annualised over the last six months.

Leaked documents reveal – despite a blizzard of lies by EU and Latvian officials – that the International Monetary Fund called for devaluation as part of a €7.5bn joint rescue for Latvia. Such adjustments are crucial in IMF deals. They allow countries to claw their way back to health without suffering perma-slump.

This was blocked by Brussels – purportedly because mortgage debt in euros and Swiss francs precluded that option. IMF documents dispute this. A society is being sacrificed on the altar of the EMU project.

Latvians have company. Dublin expects Ireland's economy to contract 4pc this year. The deficit will reach 12pc of GDP by 2010 on current policies. "This is not sustainable," said the treasury. Hence the draconian wage deflation now threatened by the Taoiseach.

The Celtic Tiger has faced the test bravely. No government in Europe has been so honest. It is a tragedy that sterling's crash should have compounded their woes at this moment. To cap it all, Dell is decamping to Poland with 4pc of GDP. Irish wages crept too high during the heady years when Euroland interest rates of 2pc so beguiled the nation.

Spain lost a million jobs in 2008. Madrid is bracing for 16pc unemployment by year's end. Private economists fear 25pc before it is over. Spain's wage inflation has priced the workforce out of Europe's markets. EMU logic is wage deflation for year after year. With Spain's high debt levels, this is impossible. Either Mr Zapatero stops the madness, or Spanish democracy will stop him. The left wing of his PSOE party is already peeling off, just as the French left is peeling off to fight "l'euro dictature capitaliste".

Italy's treasury awaits each bond auction with dread, wondering if can offload €200bn of debt this year. Spreads reached a fresh post-EMU high of 149 last week. The debt compound noose is tightening around Rome's throat. Italian journalists have begun to talk of Europe's "Tequila Crisis" – a new twist. They mean that capital flight from Club Med could set off an unstoppable process.

Mexico's Tequila drama in 1994 was triggered by a combination of the Chiapas uprising, a current account haemorrhage, and bond jitters. The dollar-peso peg snapped when elites began moving money to US banks. The game was up within days.
Fixed exchange systems – and EMU is just a glorified version – rupture suddenly. Things can seem eerily calm for a long time. Politicians swear by the parity. Remember John Major's "soft-option" defiance days before the ERM blew apart in 1992? Or Philip Snowden's defence of sterling before a Royal Navy mutiny forced Britain off the Gold Standard in 1931.

Don't expect tremors before an earthquake – and there is no fault line of greater historic violence than the crunching plates where Latin Europe meets Teutonia.

Greece no longer dares sell long bonds to fund its debt. It sold €2.5bn last week at short rates, mostly 3-months and 6-months. This is a dangerous game. It stores up "roll-over risk" for later in the year. Hedge funds are circling.
Traders suspect that investors are dumping their Club Med and Irish debt immediately on the European Central Bank in "repo" actions.

In other words, the ECB is already providing a stealth bail-out for Europe's governments – though secrecy veils all.
An EU debt union is being created, in breach of EU law. Liabilities are being shifted quietly on to German taxpayers. What happens when Germany's hard-working citizens find out?



Saturday, January 17, 2009

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Do Not Pass Go, Do Not Collect $200


I was wondering why the price of oil has fallen so much. Obviously, "supply and demand" but the usual story about the US motoring public "altering its driving habits" didn't quite add up, if you know what I mean. This was an interesting report in yesterday's Telegraph.

Freight rates for containers shipped from Asia to Europe have fallen to zero for the first time since records began, underscoring the dramatic collapse in trade since the world economy buckled in October.

"They have already hit zero," said Charles de Trenck, a broker at Transport Trackers in Hong Kong. "We have seen trade activity fall off a cliff. Asia-Europe is an unmit­igated disaster."

Shipping journal Lloyd's List said brokers in Singapore are now waiving fees for containers travelling from South China, charging only for the minimal "bunker" costs. Container fees from North Asia have dropped $200, taking them below operating cost.

Industry sources said they have never seen rates fall so low. "This is a whole new ball game," said one trader.

The Baltic Dry Index (BDI) which measures freight rates for bulk commodities such as iron ore and grains crashed several months ago, falling 96pc. The BDI – though a useful early-warning index – is highly volatile and exaggerates apparent ups and downs in trade. However, the latest phase of the shipping crisis is different. It has spread to core trade of finished industrial goods, the lifeblood of the world economy.

Trade data from Asia's export tigers has been disastrous over recent weeks, reflecting the collapse in US, UK and European markets.

Korea's exports fell 30pc in January compared to a year earlier. Exports have slumped 42pc in Taiwan and 27pc in Japan, according to the most recent monthly data. Even China has now started to see an outright contraction in shipments, led by steel, electronics and textiles.

A report by ING yesterday said shipping activity at US ports has suddenly dived. Outbound traffic from Long Beach and Los Angeles, America's two top ports, has fallen by 18pc year-on-year, a far more serious decline than anything seen in recent recessions.

"This is no regular cycle slowdown, but a complete collapse in foreign demand," said Lindsay Coburn, ING's trade consultant.

Idle ships are now stretched in rows outside Singapore's harbour, creating an eerie silhouette like a vast naval fleet at anchor. Shipping experts note the number of vessels moving around seem unusually high in the water, indicating low cargoes.

It became difficult for the shippers to obtain routine letters of credit at the height of financial crisis over the autumn, causing goods to pile up at ports even though there was a willing buyer at the other end. Analysts say this problem has been resolved, but the shipping industry has since been swamped by the global trade contraction.

The World Bank caused shockwaves with a warning last month that global trade may decline this year for the first time since the Second World War. This appears increasingly certain with each new batch of data.

Mr de Trenck predicts Asian trade to the US will fall 7pc this year. To Europe he estimates a drop of 9pc – possibly 12pc. Trade flows grow 8pc in an average year.

He said it was "illogical" for shippers to offer zero rates, but they do whatever they can to survive in a highly cyclical market.

Offering slots for free is akin to an airline giving away spare seats for nothing in the hope of making something from meals and fees.
No international shipping could certainly have a significant effect on the demand for oil. Today's good news/bad news story is that oil has fallen to near $36 per barrel. Essentially, the credit crisis and the pullback in consumer demand are having the same effect as Smoot-Hawley. The first round of stimulus (the tax rebates) did not work. The second round, the bailout of Banks, hasn't worked either. Bankers are not keen to lend and consumers do not want to borrow. Cash is king and debt is an anchor around one's neck. The economy is in a self perpetuating free fall. What we need is a Bono. Someone who can ride to our rescue and convince the world that what is needed is a complete cancellation of all debt... then we can get $200 and start over at GO. Until then,

Round and Round she goes and where she stops nobody knows.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Frozen Turf Wars



George Bush is finally getting tough on the Canadians and Russians over the Arctic. Old W never worried much about the southern border so I am not not sure what fired a neuron over the recently frozen North. Maybe it is the next big thing, turf wars.

Turf wars are beginning to turn up everywhere especially within the White House. President Barack is adding a change. The Obamas are moving on up and bringing the mother-in-law. That will be the classic turf war.

Anyway, as we are reminded with the video, the moral to the story is:

Hold the line.

Strength in the face of diversity. Concede Guantanamo but please hold the Arctic.
________________

Bush policy stakes U.S. claim in Arctic
Seeks rights to waterways and resources


Stephen Dinan Washington Times
Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Facing growing competition for the Arctic, President Bush on Monday issued a directive staking the U.S. claim to be an Arctic nation with rights to its resources and travel lanes.

It's the first presidential declaration of Arctic policy since 1994. The directive comes at a time when Russia has claimed the North Pole seabed, Canada has continued to assert that the Northwest Passage is an internal waterway and scientists say global warming is chipping away the polar ice cap but opening up new opportunities to explore for oil, minerals and natural gas.

In the document, Mr. Bush challenges Canada's claim to the Northwest Passage, saying the U.S. must spell out its own claims on natural resources and calling for American defense and homeland security officials to "develop greater capabilities and capacity" to defend U.S. access.

Mr. Bush also renewed his call for the Senate to pass the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, which has been blocked by conservative senators.

"The Northwest Passage is a strait used for international navigation, and the Northern Sea route includes straits used for international navigation; the regime of transit passage applies to passage through those straits," said Mr. Bush, who issued the directive with just a week to go before he leaves office, though the policy process had been under way for months.

"Preserving the rights and duties relating to navigation and overflight in the Arctic region supports our ability to exercise these rights throughout the world, including through strategic straits," Mr. Bush said.

Two dozen executive offices and agencies worked on the document, which comes as Arctic issues are heating up.

Late last year, the European Union, citing member nations that border the Arctic, asserted its own claims to be involved in discussions on the region.

Mr. Bush's document focuses heavily on science and environmental protections.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, Alaska Republican, who was the lone member of Congress to actively participate in the drafting process, said the policy is a needed statement at a time when there is much uncertainty surrounding the Arctic.

"This is a significant step forward for the nation and sends a message to the world that the Arctic is important to the United States, and we stand ready to work cooperatively with the international community in this vital region," she said.

She added that Congress and President-elect Barack Obama would have to follow through with manpower and money to help make the recommendations policy.

In his directive, Mr. Bush also called on the Senate to ratify the Law of the Sea treaty, which has been pending for years and has been ratified by all of the other nations that border the Arctic.

But the treaty has been blocked by conservative senators, who argue that the U.S. would cede sovereignty and could end up subject to an international tax. Sen. John McCain, Republicans' presidential nominee last year, came out in opposition to the treaty, which could explain the Bush administration's delay in releasing the directive.




Monday, January 12, 2009

It is Legacy Time in the Neighborhood


Bush's Press Conference on 8-9-07

So it is legacy time again, a time to reflect on what we got wrong about our nearly departed. Today was a twofer with  both of the near teary-eyed Bushes reminiscing about what some of us just did not understand. It was a fourfer for me as I voted for them both twice.

But when it comes to the Permanent Record, if there really is such a thing, I rely on the "did they leave it better on leaving than they found it when they arrived or is it all a matter of fate?"

The fate part is OK with me for cops and cab drivers, but the higher you get up the food chain, the less it impresses. All of our rulers and masters are pretty much the same; they take credit for every sunny day and deny authorship for their Uckfups. They all wimp out with the "History will understand" plea. I prefer to listen to the actual words that I actually heard when they were uttered.

Turn back the clock to 8-9-07.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Obama on Intelligence Gathering by CIA and Military



Doing the right thing seems to be the Obama theme.

I would feel better if he would be content to do the smart thing and he is certainly smart. There is a lot of what Obama says that rings of an idealism that borders on the naive and he clearly does not lack in confidence or charm.

He is a quick study, and I suspect we will end up having a left leaning pragmatist that will be just as reactive to events as most of his predecessors.

I guess that will have to do.


Saturday, January 10, 2009

Why China Purchases US Debt


To understand why China purchases US debt one has to look at the manufacturing and distribution model. A totally vertically integrated company, or for that matter, a country would manufacture and sell its products directly to the consumer.

Each stage of the process would have a cost and would require a profit. A farmer would raise his own eggs and sell (trade) his surplus to his neighbor. That was how commerce began. There was no such thing as outsourcing. All costs and profits, or losses were born by the farmer. Modern society is far different.

The manufacturing and distribution process has evolved into specialists who manufacture, distribute or sell products. When China decided to get into the game of world commerce, she assessed her structural weaknesses and strengths. The US was a powerhouse of distribution and sales. It simply was not possible for China to set up a retail or wholesale distribution in the US which represented almost a third of global consumption.

Chinese strength rested in low cost manufacturing. Low cost manufacturing can be dependent on well chosen capital or intensive use of low cost labor. China used low cost labor to build capital.

The huge US market was open to China and welcomed low cost Chinese produced goods. US branding of products could easily allow retailers to sell American named goods produced in China.

A $90 Black and Decker appliance, made in China, could be sold for $80 to a consumer with a greater profit to the retailer than a US produced unit. China made the product and gleefully took the dollars. The Question was what to do with them?

The Chinese had little need for US products but a huge need for the dollars. The currency generated could be redeployed globally through banking, distribution, construction or for internal financing of capital or infrastructure. China bought US securities with the trade dollars because there was nothing better or smarter for them to buy. They bought a lot of securities because they had the excess cash from export.

Today China will buy US securities based upon its trade with the US. If the US slows in buying Chinese goods, China will buy fewer US securities because it has fewer dollars. If China needs more money for internal consumption, it may have to sell US securities to raise cash.

China will not be selling or refusing to buy US securities because they are mad at us. If China wants to sell in the US, it must take dollars and either spend them or invest them. There is no other way.

_______________________

U.S. Rates to Stay Low as China Cuts Debt Purchases


By Kevin Hamlin and Judy Chen

Jan. 8 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. Treasury yields are unlikely to climb significantly should a decline in China’s foreign-exchange reserves force the nation to scale back purchases of the securities, according to Fitch Ratings Ltd.

The New York Times reported yesterday that China is losing its appetite for debt from the U.S. and said this could have “painful effects for American borrowers.” Demand for Treasuries remains robust with investors shifting out of riskier assets, and yields on 10-year bills are close to historical lows, said James McCormack, the Hong Kong-based head of Asian sovereign ratings at Fitch.

“China is going to buy less Treasuries but only because foreign exchange accumulation is not going to be so large,” he said. “It’s not as though they are shying away from Treasuries and buying something else.”

China’s currency reserves, the world’s largest at about $1.9 trillion, recently fell for the first time in five years, Cai Qiusheng, who works for the State Administration of Foreign Exchange, said last month. With less dollars flowing into the country, China’s need to buy U.S. debt is reduced.

The total amount of U.S. government debt outstanding rose to $10.7 trillion in November, from $9.15 trillion a year earlier, as the government bailed out financial companies. President-elect Barack Obama, who takes office on Jan. 20, is pressing Congress to approve an economic stimulus plan of about $775 billion over two years.

Global Recession


“The likely scale of China’s reduced purchases will not be enough to overwhelm other global factors that are pushing down rates,” said Brad Setser, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington.

The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note was recently at 2.50 percent, compared with an average 3.64 percent last year. It reached a record low of 2.0352 percent on Dec. 18 as recessions in the U.S., Europe and Japan boosted demand for the safest assets.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte downplayed questions about potential conflict over how China handles its holdings of Treasuries while visiting Beijing today.

“My Chinese interlocutors pointed out that they have been very responsible in dealing with the question of the American debt that they do hold, and they want to be viewed as a reliable partner in that regard,” he told reporters at a press conference today in Beijing.

Deepening Crisis

Zhu Guangyao, the Chinese Assistant Finance Minister, said on Dec. 5. that China may continue to buy U.S. Treasuries to help stabilize the American financial system as the global financial crisis deepens.

The latest data shows China continues to have a strong appetite for U.S. debt. In September it passed Japan to become the largest overseas holder of Treasuries. China’s holdings of the securities increased $67.5 billion in October to $652.9 billion, according to Treasury Department data.

That level of purchases is probably unsustainable because China’s reserves growth has slowed, said Setser. Data on China’s foreign-exchange reserves at the end of December are scheduled for release next week.

The reserves may have declined due to “changes in valuations of assets, especially in euro-denominated assets,” Chinese central bank adviser Fan Gang said Jan. 6.

Euro’s Decline

The euro has fallen 18 percent against the U.S. dollar from its record high of 1.6038, touched on July 15.

China’s reserves may decline in the first half of 2009 as a pause in the yuan’s appreciation prompts speculators to pull money out of the country, Moody’s Economy.com said on Dec. 30.

Other factors that may slow growth in the reserves this year include a possible narrowing of the trade surplus and less foreign direct investment.

China’s trade surplus may have dropped to $34 billion in December, from a record of $40.09 billion in the previous month, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of 17 economists.

China should diversify its currency holdings away from Treasury bills because credit default swaps show they are “a relatively big risk,” former central bank adviser Yu Yongding said Dec. 12.

Such diversification is not easily executed, said Stephen Green, head of China research at Standard Chartered Bank Plc in Shanghai.

“We still have the same old problem,” he said. “There are not many other places to invest the money.”


Friday, January 09, 2009

Family Honor, Islamic of Course.

Another honorable outcome


Just another day in the life of the most honorable and peaceful of all religions. Another day in paradise on the most perfect of all worlds at the beneficence of the most holy one.
___________________

Family of Afghan rape victim cut her open and removed foetus without anaesthetic

The mother and brother of a 14-year-old Afghan rape victim face charges after they cut her open and removed her foetus without anaesthetic, it has been reported.

By Ben Farmer in Kabul TTelegraph
Last Updated: 8:49PM GMT 08 Jan 2009

The girl is critically ill in hospital after her family sewn the girl up themselves and said she had been bitten by a dog to cover their crime.

A man accused of raping the girl, from the central Afghan province of Bamiyan, is under arrest.

The rural family apparently decided to perform an abortion when the girl was five months pregnant to protect the family's honour.

Rape victims face extreme social stigma, imprisonment and abandonment or murder by their own families in Afghanistan.

Dr Ghulam Mohammad Nader, head of Bamiyan hospital, told the BBC that the girl had been able to explain what had happened but was in a critical condition with infected wounds. She is now being treated in the capital Kabul.

"The girl stayed at home for three or four days in her condition until her father took her to hospital," he said.
"He said a dog had bitten her so that people in the area wouldn't know what had really happened."

Habiba Sarabi, governor of the province, said the girl had been bound and taken to a stables for the abortion. Police are now trying to arrest her family.


The Palin Epilogue



Wednesday, January 07, 2009

The Elephant Bar Solution to Social Security


The boomers are lining up for social security and everyone knows that the system will shortly be stretched to the limit. Meanwhile many of those who have been frugal have seen both their 401k's and equity in real estate diminished. There is a rather simple and elegant solution. It would include these points:

  • Allow potential retirees to opt out of the system on a yearly basis in exchange for permitting them to work without paying any income taxes with no income limit.
  • Allow those who are at retirement age to collect medicare. This would relieve worry about medical coverage, both privately and from employers.
  • Those opting to take the tax free income would continue to make payments into social security but the matching component by the employer would be dropped.
  • There would be no cap on social security payments by the tax exempt earner.
  • The combination would be very attractive to employers as they could hire skilled people without healthcare costs and with reduced tax liabilities.
  • This system would be very attractive to entrepreneurs and would create jobs.
  • Senior workers would have a higher propensity to save and that would help build the national saving base.
There is no reason why many millions of potential retirees could not work well into their seventies if they so chose and defer retirement in exchange for tax free earnings.

"We have three foreigners, including women," the gunman said into the phone. The response was brutally simple: "Kill them."


Yahoo


Gunshots then rang out inside the Mumbai hotel, followed by cheering that could be heard over the phone.

The ruthless exchange comes from a transcript of phone calls Indian authorities say they intercepted during the November Mumbai attacks. They were part of a dossier of evidence New Delhi handed Pakistan this week that it says definitively proves that the siege was launched from across the border.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Tuesday that he did not believe the gunmen were acting alone, and Pakistani state agencies must have had a hand in the attacks.
The dossier made no mention of any Pakistani officials or agencies.

Pakistani authorities are reviewing the evidence but have dismissed Singh's claims. Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani accused India of waging a "media and diplomatic offensive against Pakistan."

"It is clearly unhelpful to any serious and objective investigations and amounts to unnecessarily whipping up tensions in South Asia," Gilani said.

But Pakistani Information Minister Sherry Rehman did say Wednesday that the lone surviving gunman was a Pakistani citizen, after weeks of refusing to confirm Delhi's claims. Islamabad had previously said it could not find Ajmal Kasab — the only one of 10 not killed as commandos ended the siege — in its databases.

Indian leaders have made clear they do not want a military conflict with Pakistan, and Pakistan's intelligence chief said there will be no war over the Mumbai attacks.
"We may be crazy in Pakistan, but not completely out of our minds," Pakistan's intelligence chief, Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shujaa Pasha, told German news magazine Der Spiegel. "We know full well that terror is our enemy, not India."

Predominantly Hindu India and Muslim Pakistan have fought three wars against each other since they gained independence in 1947.

The Mumbai transcripts, which were translated into English by Indian authorities and obtained by the newspaper The Hindu, show that the gunmen who carried out the attacks were in close contact with their handlers throughout the siege. India says the handlers directing the attacks that left 164 dead were senior leaders of Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistan-based militant group.

The handlers told a team of gunmen who had seized a Jewish center to shoot hostages if necessary.

"If you are still threatened, then don't saddle yourself with the burden of the hostages. Immediately kill them," he said.

Six Jewish foreigners, including a rabbi and his wife, were killed inside the Jewish center.

Later in the night, nearly 24 hours after the attacks began, the handlers urged the gunmen to "be strong in the name of Allah"

"Brother, you have to fight. This is a matter of prestige of Islam," the handler said. "You may feel tired or sleepy, but the commandos of Islam have left everything behind, their mothers, their fathers."

The gunmen were told several times not to kill any Muslim hostages.

The attackers used several different mobile phones, including those belonging to the hostages. Shortly after the siege began, Indian authorities say they began intercepting calls from inside the hotel. They were also able to pick up calls carried over the Internet, which the handlers used to route some calls, according to the dossier.

The siege lasted nearly three days, far longer than security experts said it should have, and, apparently, far longer than the terrorists expected as well. The handlers told the gunmen on Nov. 27 that "the operation has to be concluded tomorrow morning." But it was 36 more hours before it finished.

Much of the dialogue has a teacher-student dynamic, and indeed, the surviving gunman has said he and the rest of the group were trained by Lashkar in Pakistan.

"We made a big mistake," one of the gunman says into the phone in the early hours of the siege.
"What big mistake?"
"When we were getting into the boat ... another boat came. Everyone jumped quickly. In this confusion, the satellite phone of Ismail got left behind."

The investigation shows the gunmen entered Mumbai, which sits on the Arabian sea, by a rubber dinghy.

The attacks against iconic Mumbai targets were covered nonstop by news channels around the world. The handlers used the TV reports to guide the gunmen, the dossier says, including warning when commandos roped down to the Jewish center from helicopters.
The dossier included photographs of dozens of items recovered in the attacks, including GPS units, mobile phones, guns, and explosives, as well as data gleaned from satellite phones, and details from the interrogation of the lone surviving gunman.
It also had pictures of more mundane items India calls incriminating because they were made in Pakistan, including pickles, detergent, a match box, tissue paper, a Mountain Dew bottle, shaving cream and a towel.

But the strongest — and most chilling — evidence that the gunmen were not acting alone came from the phone transcripts.

"Keep your phone switched on," a handler said in the midst of the siege, "so that we can hear the gunfire."



Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Accuses the Pakis



No diplomatic subtlety here. Singh lays the blame of the Mumbai terror murders on elements in the Pakistani Government. That is an act of war. Now we will see what India does about it.