Blog Archives

Syria’s proxy war


What began in Syria as another civil uprising of the Arab spring against an established government has grown into a multi-dimensional war, drawing in first the region, then the world.

A few days after the Syrian army took Qusayr, in early June, the influential Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi described his grim vision of a Muslim world dominated by “Persians and Shia”: “The guide of the Revolution … Ayatollah Khamenei will fulfil his dream of delivering a sermon from the pulpit of the Umayyad Mosque [in Damascus] to announce that he [has] achieved Islamic unity, which he has long promised. He will descend from the pulpit with much pomp to wipe the head of a poor child to show the ‘tolerance of the powerful’ [toward Sunnis]. Then he will stand next to … Syrian Sunni scholars, with their white turbans, as there are always people like the mufti Ahmad Hassun who are ready to serve. He will [raise their hands] high, while cameras record this historic moment” (1).

In a speech the same day, Hassan Nasrallah, secretary-general of Hizbullah, justified sending fighters to Syria while recognising that although “a large part of the Syrians [support] the regime”, many were probably against it. He felt this internal conflict was secondary, since “Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, and the entire region are targeted by [a] US-Israeli-Takfiri scheme” (2) that must be resisted at all costs, which meant rushing to help the Assad regime.

As a US official wrote in a report by the International Crisis Group (3), “a Syrian war with regional consequences is becoming a regional war with a Syrian focus.” A new cold war is dividing the region, like the original, which set Nasser’s Egypt, allied with the USSR, against Saudi Arabia and the US in the 1950s and 60s. But times have changed. Arab nationalism has declined, sectarian positions are hardening, and there is even doubt over the future of the states and frontiers created after the first world war.

Syria, with its tens of thousands of dead, millions of refugees, and severely damaged industrial infrastructure and historic heritage, is the main victim. The hopeful dream of the spring of 2011 has turned into a nightmare. Why have the Syrians been unable to do in Damascus what the Egyptians did in Cairo?

The Egyptians were able to overthrow Mubarak relatively easily. The elite and social classes with ties to the clique that held power never really felt their privileges were threatened, let alone their physical safety. After the revolution, businessmen, senior army officers and intelligence service directors calmly changed sides. Only a few were brought to trial, slowly and with great reluctance. And Mubarak’s departure did not upset the regional geopolitical balance. The US and Saudi Arabia were able to adapt to changes they had not wanted but which did not threaten their interests, as long as they were able to channel those changes.

Hopes of a transition faded

It is different in Syria. From the start of the conflict, unrestricted use of force by the intelligence services gained the regime precious months in which to organise. The regime encouraged the militarisation of the opposition, escalation of the conflict, and even sectarianism, in order to scare large sections of the population; minorities, the bourgeoisie and the urban middle classes were already frightened by the extremist language of some opposition groups and the influx of foreign fighters reported by the regime.

As the atrocities continued, hopes of a transition without calls for revenge faded, and relatively large sections of society rallied to the regime, fearing for their safety in the event of an Islamist victory. The West had been invoking Islamist bogeymen for years, which made that prospect all the more frightening, and lent credence to the Assad regime’s challenge to France: “Why are you helping the same groups in Syria that you are fighting in Mali?”

The regime also used Syria’s strategic position as leverage to elicit support from its main allies, Iran and Russia, which have surprised the world by intervening in the conflict with far more determination than Arab or western countries.

Syria is the only Arab ally that Iran has been able to count on since the 1979 revolution. Syria stood by it in difficult times, especially during Iraq’s invasion of Iran in 1980, when all the Gulf countries sided with Saddam Hussein. Given Iran’s deepening isolation over the last few years, the harsh sanctions imposed by the US and the EU, and the continued risk of military intervention by Israel and/or the US, Iran’s involvement in Syria, while not morally justifiable, is a rational strategic decision, and unlikely to be reversed by its new president, Hassan Rohani. Iran has done everything it can to rescue its ally, from granting credit to Syria’s central bank to supplying oil and military advisers.

Call for jihad

Iran’s involvement has led it — with the approval of Russia — to encourage Hizbullah to become directly involved in Syria. Hizbullah could argue that thousands of Islamist fighters, from Lebanon and other Arab countries, are already there, but direct involvement can only worsen tensions between Sunni and Shia (armed clashes have since increased in Lebanon) and embolden radical Sunni preachers.

The conference in Cairo on 13 June held in support of “our Syrian brothers” called for jihad. Mohammed Morsi took part and, though he had until then been cautious on Syria, announced that Egypt was breaking off diplomatic relations with the Assad regime. Anti-Shia rhetoric, even from moderate sheikhs, grew louder. Hassan al-Shafii, representative of Al-Azhar, the major institution of Sunni Islam based in Cairo, asked: “What is the meaning of Hizbullah’s interference [and spilling of] innocent blood in Qusayr? It is a war against Sunnis, it is Shia sectarianism” (4).

Russia’s involvement is not just a whim of Vladimir Putin, but a reassertion of its international importance. An Egyptian diplomat said: “The West is paying the price for its attempts to marginalise Russia since the end of the USSR. Despite Boris Yeltsin’s goodwill, Nato has expanded right up to Russia’s borders.” For two years, “the West has been suggesting to Russia that it should simply adopt the West’s line [on Syria]. That was not a realistic proposition.”

Wary since Libya

The way in which the UN Security Council resolution on Libya was distorted to legitimise military intervention also made Russia wary, and other countries too: Brazil, China, India and South Africa have expressed reservations over resolutions on Syria presented at the UN by the West. The fall of the Assad regime would be unacceptable to Russia: it would be a victory for Islamists and could stir up Muslims within the Federation, among whom Russia claims Wahabist propaganda is being disseminated.

Compared with the determination of Russia and Iran, external support for Syria’s opposition has been fragmented, erratic and incompetent, hardly a vast Saudi-Qatari-American-Israeli-Salafist conspiracy. Each country has been doing its own thing and helping its own clients, providing aid to some and refusing it to others. The absurdities reached a peak this April when Qatar funded the imposition of Ghassan Hitto, a US national, as prime minister of Syria’s “interim” government. Interference from rich Gulf businessmen not subject to any form of control adds to the confusion (5).

It is difficult to see what is really going on with so many different groups and combat units (katibas), all deceptively labelled “Islamists”, a term that makes it possible to ignore their strategic and political differences (6). Jabhat al-Nusra, which claims to be a branch of Al-Qaida, worries the West as much as it does Saudi Arabia, which fought a war to the death against Al-Qaida at home between 2003 and 2005. This apprehension is also felt within Salafist organisations: Nader Bakkar, the media-savvy spokesman of Egypt’s biggest Salafist party Al-Nour, wants to cut the ground from under Al-Qaida’s feet: “What we are asking for is a no-fly zone. So that the revolutionaries can win the war themselves. We are urging people in Egypt not to go to Syria; the victory must be won by Syrians alone.”

This confusion has been encouraged by the diffidence of the US, which though keen to see the Syrian regime fall, is reluctant to embark on another Middle East adventure after its failures in Iraq and Afghanistan. The change in Washington’s outlook is exemplified by Richard Haass. As one of the brains behind the Republican Party’s foreign policy he worked with President George W Bush. Now head of the influential Council on Foreign Relations in New York, he has just published a book called Foreign Policy Begins at Home: the Case for Putting America’s House in Order, which argues that internal problems, from the deterioration of the transport system to the lack of skilled labour, are preventing the US from exercising global leadership.

President Barack Obama has decided to supply weapons to the Syrian rebels. The pretext is the Syrian army’s use of sarin gas — a controversial affair with no independent enquiry as yet (7) — which, according to the US, has killed about 140 of the 90,000 victims of the conflict to date. But how should the decision be interpreted?

Syria has become a regional and international battlefield, and neither camp will accept the defeat of its champion. After the Syrian army’s success at Qusayr, the US wants to prevent the regime from gaining a complete victory, though such a victory is highly unlikely since much of the population has become radicalised and, with nothing more to lose, strongly rejects the regime. But the desires of the US will probably not turn into large-scale intervention, no-fly zones or the commitment of ground troops. If the military balance is maintained, the stalemate will continue, as will the death and destruction, and the risk that the conflict will spread across the region.

Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon have been caught up in the conflict; Iraqi and Lebanese fighters, Sunni and Shia, find themselves on opposing sides in Syria. The international insurgency highway (8) is bringing fighters, weapons and ideas into Syria from as far as Afghanistan and the Sahel. As long as the external protagonists continue to see the conflict as a zero-sum game, Syria’s people will suffer and the whole region is in danger of being dragged in.

via Syria’s proxy war – Le Monde diplomatique – English edition.

Advertisements

Erotic Republic –


When someone mentions Iran, what images leap into your mind? Ayatollahs, religious fanaticism, veiled women? How about sexual revolution? That’s right. Over the last 30 years, as the mainstream Western media has been preoccupied with the radical policies of the Islamic Republic, the country has undergone a fundamental social and cultural transformation.

While not necessarily positive or negative, Iran’s sexual revolution is certainly unprecedented. Social attitudes have changed so much in the last few decades that many members of the Iranian diaspora are shellshocked when they visit the country: “These days Tehran makes London look like a conservative city,” a British-Iranian acquaintance recently told me upon returning from Tehran. When it comes to sexual mores, Iran is indeed moving in the direction of Britain and the United States — and fast.

Good data on Iranian sexual habits are, not surprisingly, tough to come by. But a considerable amount can be gleaned from the official statistics compiled by the Islamic Republic. Declining birth rates, for example, signal a wider acceptance of contraceptives and other forms of family planning — as well as a deterioration of the traditional role of the family. Over the last two decades, the country has experienced the fastest drop in fertility ever recorded in human history. Iran’s annual population growth rate, meanwhile, has plunged to 1.2 percent in 2012 from 3.9 percent in 1986 — this despite the fact that more than half of Iranians are under age 35.

At the same time, the average marriage age for men has gone up from 20 to 28 years old in the last three decades, and Iranian women are now marrying at between 24 and 30 — five years later than a decade ago. Some 40 percent of adults who are of marriageable age are currently single, according to official statistics. The rate of divorce, meanwhile, has also skyrocketed, tripling from 50,000 registered divorces in the year 2000 to 150,000 in 2010. Currently, there is one divorce for every seven marriages nationwide, but in larger cities the rate gets significantly higher. In Tehran, for example, the ratio is one divorce to every 3.76 marriages — almost comparable to Britain, where 42 percent of marriages end in divorce. And there is no indication that the trend is slowing down. Over the last six months the divorce rate has increased, while the marriage rate has significantly dropped.

Changing attitudes toward marriage and divorce have coincided with a dramatic shift in the way Iranians approach relationships and sex. According to one study cited by a high-ranking Ministry of Youth official in December 2008, a majority of male respondents admitted having had at least one relationship with someone of the opposite sex before marriage. About 13 percent of those “illicit” relationships, moreover, resulted in unwanted pregnancy and abortion — numbers that, while modest, would have been unthinkable a generation ago. It is little wonder, then, that the Ministry of Youth’s research center has warned that “unhealthy relationships and moral degeneration are the leading causes of divorces among the young Iranian couples.”

Meanwhile, the underground sex industry has taken off in the last two decades. In the early 1990s, prostitution existed in most cities and towns — particularly in Tehran — but sex workers were virtually invisible, forced to operate deep underground. Now prostitution is only a wink and a nod away in many towns and cities across the country. Often, sex workers loiter on certain streets, waiting for random clients to pick them up. Ten years ago, Entekhab newspaper claimed that there were close to 85,000 sex workers in Tehran alone.

Again, there are no good countrywide statics on the number of prostitutes — the head of Iran’s state-run Social Welfare Organization recently told the BBC: “Certain statistics have no positive function in society; instead, they have a negative psychological impact. It is better not to talk about them” — but available figures suggest that 10 to 12 percent of Iranian prostitutes are married. This is especially surprising given the severe Islamic punishments meted out for sex outside marriage, particularly for women. More surprisingly still, not all sex workers in Iran are female. A new report confirms that middle-aged wealthy women, as well as young and educated women in search of short-term sexual relationships, are seeking the personal services of male sex workers.

Of course, it would be a mistake to assume that traditional values have completely vanished. Iran’s patriarchal culture is still strong, and orthodox values are still maintained by traditional social classes, particularly in provincial towns and villages. But at the same time, it would also be a mistake to assume that sexual liberalization has only gained momentum among the urban middle classes.

So what is driving Iran’s sexual revolution? There are a number of potential explanations, including economic factors, urbanization, new communication tools, and the emergence of a highly educated female population — all of which are probably partly responsible for changing attitudes toward sex. At the same time, however, most of these factors are at play in other countries in the region that are not experiencing analogous transitions. (Indeed, a wave of social conservatism is sweeping much of the Middle East, while Iran moves in the opposite direction.) So what is different in Iran? Paradoxically, it is the puritanical state — rigid, out of touch, and dedicated to combating “vice” and promoting “virtue” — that seems to be powering Iran’s emergent liberal streak.

Since the 1979 Islamic Revolution that swept Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini into power, the Iranian regime has promoted the idea of collective morality, imposing strict codes of conduct and all but erasing the boundary between private and public spheres. Maintaining the Islamic character of the country has been one of the regime’s main sources of legitimacy, and as such, there is virtually no facet of private life that is not regulated by its interpretation of Islamic law. (Indeed, clerics regularly issue fatwas on the acceptability of intimate — and sometimes extraordinarily unlikely — sexual scenarios.) But 34 years on, Khomeini’s successor has failed to create a utopian society — a fact that lays bare the moral and ideological bankruptcy of a regime that is already struggling with economic and political crises.

This inconvenient truth is not lost on young people in Iran, where changing sexual habits have become a form of passive resistance. In defying the strictures of the state, Iranians are (consciously or subconsciously) calling its legitimacy into question. Meanwhile, the regime’s feeble attempts to counter the seismic shifts currently under way — such as its repeated warnings about the danger posed by “illicit relationships” — only further alienate those it wishes to control. Slowly but surely, Iran’s sexual revolution is exhausting the ideological zeal of a state that is wedded to the farcical notion of a utopian society and based on brittle, fundamentalist principles.

In New York, Sex and the City may be empty and banal, but in Iran, its social and political implications run deep.

via Erotic Republic – By Afshin Shahi | Foreign Policy.

Israel’s Three Gambles


Israel‘s recent attacks against Syria are the latest, dramatic development in a conflict that is already spiraling out of control. In the past few days, Israeli aircraft reportedly targeted Iranian surface-to-surface missiles headed for Hezbollah, as well as Syrian missiles in a military base in the outskirts of Damascus. Israel’s strikes show, once again, its intelligence services’ ability to penetrate the Iran‘s arms shipment route to Lebanon and its military’s skill in striking adversaries with seeming impunity. But Israel is also risking retaliation and further destabilization of its own neighborhood — in ways that may come back to haunt it.

With much of Syria outside the control of Bashar al-Assad‘s forces, Israel is particularly wary of chemical weapons or advanced conventional weaponry falling into the wrong hands, whether it’s extremist Sunni opposition groups like Jabhat al-Nusra or, more immediately, Assad’s and Iran’s Lebanese ally, Hezbollah. The missiles Israel sought to hit in the first attack on Friday have a significantly larger payload, greater accuracy, and longer range than the bulk of the Lebanese Shiite group’s current arsenal. Contrary to the allegations of the Assad regime that claims Israel’s strikes prove it is backing the opposition, Israel is not throwing its weight against Assad. Indeed, Israel’s latest strikes represent the latest in a long-standing policy of denying the transfer of arms that could alter the balance of power between Israel and Hezbollah — weapons systems such as advanced Russian surface-to-air missiles; the Iranian-made Fateh 110 surface-to-surface missiles (reportedly targeted this weekend) that would significantly increase Hezbollah’s threat to northern Israeli cities; or additional surface-to-sea weaponry, such as the kind successfully used against an Israeli ship in July 2006.

More broadly, the Israeli strike is meant to disrupt the Iran-Syria-Hezbollah nexus. Iran has long provided Hezbollah with hundreds of millions of dollars (the exact amount is unknown and probably fluctuates considerably) and a wide range of weaponry, including anti-tank missiles and long-range rockets. Since Hezbollah’s birth in the early 1980s, Syria has served as intermediary, allowing Iranian forces to deploy within Lebanon and serving as a transit point for Iranian weapons — something Hezbollah’s Lebanese opponents have complained about, as well as Israel.

The strikes are a gamble, however, for three main reasons. The first bet is that Syria will not respond. Israel has long been a whipping boy for Arab regimes short on domestic credibility: it’s not hard in this part of the world to paint any opponents as Zionist stooges. Bashar, like his father Hafez before him, backed Hezbollah, Hamas, and other terrorist groups in the name of the “resistance,” hoping to win points at home and throughout the Arab world — while distracting attention from his tyranny and economic failures. Indeed, early in the Syrian uprising, the Assad regime tried to create a crisis by pushing Palestinian refugees living in Syria to return to Israel  to divert attention from the crackdown. This failed, but the Israeli strike offers a chance to try again.

Israeli leaders, however, believe that this playbook is dated. When Israel hit the Syrian nuclear reactor in 2007, Assad and his cronies remained mum and did not retaliate. Today, Israeli strategists are gambling that Assad is too embattled to risk escalation. His military forces are weak and overstretched already, facing fierce domestic opposition with no effective airpower. Further losses to Israel and its air force would deprive the regime of desperately needed elite forces. Indeed, Israel seems rather sure of itself: as the smoke was still clearing, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu projected business as usual, departing on a state visit to China.

Perhaps even more important, if Assad tries to use Israel as a foil he risks further losses, which would be politically humiliating and potentially extremely damaging for a regime that is already on a knife’s edge. The Israeli strikes show that it can violate Syrian sovereignty with impunity, and the Syrian opposition is now charging that Assad has repeatedly failed to protect Syrian soil from Israel. The Syrian Opposition Council, a leading opposition political grouping, is trying to play the Israel card itself, noting that it “holds the Assad regime fully responsible for weakening the Syrian army by exhausting its forces in a losing battle against the Syrian people.” Meanwhile, the remaining nationalists in the Syrian military resent this embarrassment, risking Assad further defections and desertions.

via Israel’s Three Gambles – By Daniel Byman and Natan Sachs | Foreign Policy.

via Israel’s Three Gambles – By Daniel Byman and Natan Sachs | Foreign Policy.

A staggering map of the 54 countries that reportedly participated in the CIA’s rendition program


After Sept. 11, 2001, the CIA launched a program of “extraordinary rendition” to handle terrorism suspects. The agency’s problem, as it saw it, was that it wanted to detain and interrogate foreign suspects without bringing them to the United States or charging them with any crimes. Their solution was to secretly move a suspect to another country. Sometimes that meant a secret CIA prison in places such as Thailand or Romania, where the CIA would interrogate him. Sometimes it meant handing him over to a sympathetic government, some of them quite nasty, to conduct its own “interrogation.”

The CIA’s extraordinary rendition program is over, but its scope is still shrouded in some mystery. A just-out report, released by the Open Society Foundation, sheds new light on its shocking scale. According to the report, 54 foreign governments somehow collaborated in the program. Some of those governments are brutal dictatorships, and a few are outright U.S. adversaries.

Their participation took several forms. Some, such as Poland and Lithuania, allowed the CIA to run secret prisons in their countries. Many Middle Eastern, Central Asian and European countries handed over detainees to the CIA, some of whom those countries captured on the agency’s behalf. Other states, particularly in the Middle East, interrogated detainees on the CIA’s behalf, such as Jordan, which accepted several Pakistanis. Several, such as Greece and Spain, allowed flights associated with the CIA program to use their airports.

Here’s what the Open Society report has to say about the staggeringly global participation in the CIA program, including a full list of the countries it names:

The report also shows that as many as 54 foreign governments reportedly participated in these operations in various ways, including by hosting CIA prisons on their territories; detaining, interrogating, torturing, and abusing individuals; assisting in the capture and transport of detainees; permitting the use of domestic airspace and airports for secret flights transporting detainees; providing intelligence leading to the secret detention and extraordinary rendition of individuals; and interrogating individuals who were secretly being held in the custody of other governments. Foreign governments also failed to protect detainees from secret detention and extraordinary rendition on their territories and to conduct effective investigations into agencies and officials who participated in these operations.

The 54 governments identified in this report span the continents of Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, and North America, and include: Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, Finland, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Iceland, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jordan, Kenya, Libya, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malawi, Malaysia, Mauritania, Morocco, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Syria, Thailand, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Uzbekistan, Yemen, and Zimbabwe.

I was most curious about the involvement of two governments that are very much adversaries of the United States: those of Iran and Syria. It’s clear that, in both cases, it was an enemy-of-my-enemy calculus. Iran and Syria are both enemies of al-Qaeda and have struggled against Sunni Islamist extremism (Syria’s government is secular, Iran’s is Shia). Here’s the report’s section on Iran:

Iran was involved in the capture and transfer of individuals subjected to CIA secret detention. In March 2002, the Iranian government transferred fifteen individuals to the government of Afghanistan, which in turn transferred ten of these individuals to the U.S. government. At least six of those transferred to U.S. custody were held in secret CIA detention in Afghanistan. These six individuals included Hussein Almerfedi, Tawfik al-Bihani, Wesam Abdulrahman Ahmed al-Deemawi (Wassam al-Ourdoni), Rafiq al-Hami, Walid Shahir al-Qadasi, and Aminullah Baryalai Tukhi.

Iran’s transfer occurred as part of a detainee exchange. Because the hand-over happened soon after the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, Iran was aware that the United States would have effective control over any detainees handed over to Afghan authorities. Amin al-Yafia, another individual believed to have been captured in Iran, in 2002, may have been subsequently held in CIA custody. Yafia’s whereabouts are unknown. See the detainee list in Section IV.

There are no known judicial cases or investigations in Iran relating to its participation in CIA secret detention and extraordinary rendition operations.

The section on Syria is disturbing. That government’s record of horrific abuses has spilled out into the open since the uprising of 2011 became a civil war, with more Syrians subjected to – and speaking out about – a torture regime that sounds as if it were from another century. According to a 2005 article by the New Yorker’s Jane Mayer, quoted in the report, Syria was one of the “most common destinations for rendered suspects.” Government forces, according to the report, held some U.S.-provided detainees in a prison known as “The Grave” for its coffin-sized cells and subjected them to “torture involving a chair frame used to stretch the spine (the ‘German chair’) and beatings.”

via A staggering map of the 54 countries that reportedly participated in the CIA’s rendition program | Frontlines of Revolutionary Struggle.

via A staggering map of the 54 countries that reportedly participated in the CIA’s rendition program | Frontlines of Revolutionary Struggle.

Why are the Irish People Making Payments to Criminals?


Why are the ‘ Bondholders’ and the Irish government so concerned that the Irish people be forced to take the loss and pay the debts of the speculators

But when we talk of Anglo Irish’s bondholders  we talk of people with already accumulated wealth
We are not talking about widows and orphans or you and me. It is therefore worth
remembering, the next time an Irish politician, or any of our politicians for that matter, say that
some welfare payment can no longer be afforded, it is because the money that could have paid for
it has been given instead to the already wealthy bondholders. The Irish people are
paying and protecting the interests of the bondholders over the interests of their own children.
And it is our very own politicians who have arranged this not you not me

At the end of the third quarter of 2010, not long before Dublin requested a bailout, German banks had $208.3 billion in total exposure to Ireland, according to data from the Bank for International Settlements. That includes $57.8 billion in exposure to Irish banks, an amount exceeding British and French banks’ exposure to Irish lenders combined.

Dublin campaigned to impose haircuts on banks’ senior bondholders to reduce the amount of money the state would have to pump into Irish banks. The ECB refused, fearing contagion.

Most of these banks have indulged in absolute criminal activity and have been able to get away with their criminal acts.

So, at the end of the day the Irish people are paying off a bunch of criminals.

To copper fasten the point lets have a look at Deutsche Bank

Recent Deutsche bank events worth noting

Spying scandal – From as late as 2001 to at least 2007, the Bank engaged in covert espionage on its critics. The bank has admitted to episodes of spying in 2001 and 2007 directed by its corporate security department

Housing Bubble and CDO Market – Deutsche Bank was one of the major drivers of the collateralized debt obligation (CDO) market during the housing credit bubble from 2004–2008, creating ~$32,000,000,000 worth. The 2011 US Senate Permanent Select Committee on Investigations report on Wall Street and the Financial Crisis analyzed Deutsche Bank as a ‘case study’ of investment banking involvement in the mortgage bubble, CDO market, credit crunch, and recession. It concluded that even as the market was collapsing in 2007, and its top global CDO trader was deriding the CDO market and betting against some of the mortgage bonds in its CDOs, Deutsche bank continued to churn out bad CDO products to investors.

Deutsche Bank Gambles Bailout Money in Las Vegas – Loses BIG During the financial meltdown of 2008, Deutsche Bank received at least $11.8 billion in US taxpayer-funded bailout money. The banking giant had made some bad credit decisions and took on some enormous risks – but the gamble failed miserably. So what did Deutsche Bank do with the funds provided by the American taxpayers? The Financial Times has the pathetic story:

Deutsche Bank has apparently gambled in the world capital of gambling and it looks like they may lose: Deutsche Bank has risked a total of $4.9 billion, the institute, a newspaper reported in a luxury casinos in Las Vegas – a significant portion of the money will probably never be seen again.

Deutsche Bank convicted in Italy in widening scandal

Deutsche Bank slashes profits to meet sub-prime mortgage legal action costs
German bank sets aside billions of euros to cover litigation linked to US bonds as Libor-rigging investigations continue

Deutsche Bank under US investigation for Iran dealings

Bundesbank investigating Deutsche Bank derivatives trade

Was Boston Bomb Squad Running “Controlled Explosion” On Same Day As Marathon Blasts?


Two bombs have rocked the streets of Boston, exploding at the Boston Marathon finish line, killing 3 and injuring more than 100. It’s too early to know the cause of these explosions, but you can rest assured both the state and federal government will try to use this tragic event to blame whatever convenient enemies are most advantageous for the government.

What’s not yet being reported by the mainstream media is that a “controlled explosion” was under way on the same day as the marathon explosion.

As the Boston Globe tweeted today, “Officials: There will be a controlled explosion opposite the library within one minute as part of bomb squad activities.”

http://leaksource.wordpress.com/2013/04/15/was-boston-bomb-squad-running-controlled-explosion-on-same-day-as-marathon-blasts/

 

In response to LeakSource:

 

04/15/2013 Two bombs have rocked the streets of Boston, exploding at the Boston Marathon finish line, killing 3 and injuring more than 100. It’s too early to know the cause of these explosions, but you can rest assured both the state and federal government will try to use this tragic event to blame whatever convenient […]

 

Given the ongoing treachery of the current administration on just about any level of government, it’s not unwise to be suspicious that the same officials who have killed almost 4,000 people (most of them civilians or “collateral damage”) in Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan would willingly sacrifice American civilians if it would further their agenda. Unwitting Americans at the Boston Marathon didn’t deserve to loose limbs and life. Today 30 people were bombed at a wedding, they did not deserve to be burned to death in their wedding finery either. Our government and congress has lost credibility. We will never know the truth until it’s leaked by real Patriots.

 

Mossad accuses Iran of developing deadly meteorites underground


Israel’s intelligence service, Mossad, has claimed to have found large amounts of rock beneath Iran, clear evidence that the country is developing a deadly meteorite capability.

Speaking from inside a bin to protect his identity, Mossad agent Golan Aharoni ejected a small pebble from his hiding place, claiming it was a ‘key component’ in Iran’s gravity-powered weapon.

“Our agents risked their lives to retrieve this, from a secret location in the Zagros mountains. A CIA geologist told us the region may have been developing similar rocks for millions of years.”

Aharoni described how the meteorite was first spotted on Google Earth, which led to a mission to investigate further, using their most discreet methods of bombing.

“Everywhere we looked, we uncovered more and more rock”, said Aharoni.

“This proves they’re developing a meteorite roughly the size of Iran.”

Iran’s Meteorite program

While Iran lacks a missile capable of delivering itself from space, Aharoni warned other world leaders that it wasn’t just Israel that was at risk.

“We also discovered smaller meteorites that could be hidden in a suitcase”, he claimed.

“They don’t show up on airport X-rays and although they’re hard to carry, it’s just a matter of time before a really strong terrorist delivers one to London, New York or Paris.”

To emphasise the threat, Mossad has made a video of a meteorite simulation, in which a cheesecake is smashed to pieces by a man with a hammer.

“Imagine that the hammer is a rock, and then imagine that the imaginary rock is a theoretical meteorite, roughly 800 miles across”, suggested Aharoni.

“I don’t know about you, but I quite like cheesecake, so these bastards must be stopped.”

Israel is looking to develop its own meteorite as a deterrent, once they find a piece of land suitable for stripping of all life and then wiping off the map.

“We’ve been working on it for some time”, admitted Aharoni. “Somewhere about the size of Palestine should do it.”

via Mossad accuses Iran of developing deadly meteorites underground.

via Mossad accuses Iran of developing deadly meteorites underground.

Assange hits out at WikiLeaks film – World News


WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has hit out at a Hollywood film about his organisation as a “massive propaganda attack” against the whistle-blowing website.

Delivering a speech to the Oxford Union from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, he revealed he had acquired a script of the film, which stars British actor Benedict Cumberbatch.

Holding a copy of the script, he said the film, being released in the United States in November, was also an attack on Iran.

Publicity photographs released earlier shows the actor as Assange in the movie, The Fifth Estate, which has now begun filming. It traces the early days of the WikiLeaks site as he sought to bring confidential information into the public domain.

But Assange said Dreamworks was spending millions of dollars on the film, which he said was “fanning the flames” of war against Iran. The British public should be concerned about the film because of the involvement of Cumberbatch, said Assange, who has been inside the embassy since last summer.

He has been granted political asylum as part of his campaign to avoid extradition to Sweden where he faces allegations of sex charges, which he denies. Reading from the script, he said the opening scene was inside a military complex in Iran, with documents containing nuclear symbols.

The suggestion is that Iran is working on an atomic weapon, said Assange, adding: “How does this have anything to do with us? It is a lie upon lie. The movie is a massive propaganda attack on WikiLeaks and the character of my staff.”

He quotes from the script, saying scientists are seen meeting a US agent. “How is it that a lie gets into a script about WikiLeaks?”

The film’s director Bill Condon said earlier: “It may be decades before we understand the full impact of WikiLeaks and how it’s revolutionised the spread of information.

“So this film won’t claim any long view authority on its subject, or attempt any final judgment. We want to explore the complexities and challenges of transparency in the information age and, we hope, enliven and enrich the conversations WikiLeaks has already provoked.”

Press Association

via Assange hits out at WikiLeaks film – World News, Breaking News – Independent.ie.

via Assange hits out at WikiLeaks film – World News, Breaking News – Independent.ie.

Woody Allen doesn’t do drugs, so he’s a dealer, as are all Jews.


I’d like to spend a day or two inside the head of Iran’s Vice President, Mohammad-Reza Rahimi. I’m sure it’s a cavernous place with lots of room for exploring and stuff. But there’s so much weird stuff going on in there, it could become a tourist destination. Extreme tourism.

Here’s what the second maddest man in Iran concluded about the Jews, at a speech given at the UN, yes, the United Nations, that place which promotes peace and shit:

“The Islamic Republic of Iran will pay for anybody who can research and find one single Zionist who is an addict. They do not exist. This is their proof of their involvement in drugs trade.”

Two things here: if a Zionist is willing to go into a business partnership with me, take some drugs for a few days and get PAID by the Iranian government, then I’ll go 50/50 with you. I’ll do the research, you do the drugs, we’ll both get RICH beyond our wildest dreams.

Second thing: I personally don’t know anyone who is addicted to drugs. Yeah, I know, I live a sheltered life. Not a single person. Therefore, they’re all drug dealers. It makes sense, doesn’t it. Every person I’ve ever known is a drugs dealer.

I feel like I’m in one of those God-awful M. Night Shyalamamamaman films (or whatever his stupid name is) where there’s a painfully obvious “reveal” at the end, but I’m the only one who didn’t see it.

Every single one of my friends is a drug dealer. Because the logic of Mr Rahimi says so.

And so are all Jews. Woody Allen, you drug-dealing bastard. Scarlett Johansson sells dope, Ben Stiller flogs bath salts and Justin Bieber (go on, you know he’s Jewish) sells skag to addicts in Leith on a regular basis. It’s all true, because Iran said so.

No, hang on, I’m getting hung up on terminology here. It’s Zionists, not Jews. Whatevs. Both of them read this book, you see – it’s called The Talmud. I’ve never read it, but apparently all Jews have read it over and over. Mr Rahimi reckons it makes them drug dealers. Apparently, it says “you shall deal drugs” 20,000 times. Not exactly a page-turner, but then it’s better than Fifty Shades of Grey, which says “dildo” and “buttplug” 20,000 times. Over and over.

As Archbishop Cranmer points out, nobody bothered to report this. What’s more, Mr Rahimi was allowed to accuse Jews of dealing drugs by the UN, who gave him a platform to tell the world that Woody Allen is a crack dealer.

via Woody Allen doesn’t do drugs, so he’s a dealer, as are all Jews. Fact. | The Daily Shame.

via Woody Allen doesn’t do drugs, so he’s a dealer, as are all Jews. Fact. | The Daily Shame.

Crooks, Carpetbaggers and Ireland’s Sovereignty – Changing the Paradigm


At the risk of being tedious once again on the subject of history there are plenty of examples of small nations using their brains to balance competing powerful dynamics around them. The island and city states between ancient Greece and Persia being one historical example.

Ireland has one good natural industry which provides a national income stream and that is agriculture and its related exports. There is another provided by our location that is criminally underutilised and that is ‘blue farming’ or sustainable marine farming. We’re not short of raw material there either. Other than that, it has a high profile in the world for tourism – an industry that has been known to be abusive to its potential customer base in the past, it has to be said. Most of the ‘service’ sector of the Irish economy is fake – an accountants’ trick.

We have no reason by our location to come into conflict with the BRIC countries.  It should be perfectly possible for us, provided we form the habit of thinking along these lines and drop the insecure paranoia about how close to Berlin or Boston we happen to be on any given day, to be able to steer a path for ourselves.

We have the worst of all worlds at the moment  no self-governance over finance, the balance of trade destroyed because we are exporting large sums of money regularly out of the Irish economy to pay currency gamblers and their mates abroad, a financial centre which has no interest in paying any kind of meaningful rent to be in the country and serves only to distort the domestic economy, a professional class incapable of undertaking any national project without robbing as much of whatever budget can be robbed and an utterly dull secretariat convinced of its own importance but unable to take on any major initiative without expensively buying in ‘expertise’.

Mineral wealth  corrupt backhander deals enriching state negotiators with the result that that potential income stream has been delivered to looters.

Ireland desperately needs a serious insurrection and a unilateral nationalisation of resources plus a policy of refusing to sell off other assets with the threat of default if the vultures demand such sales.  For the first time in its history Ireland has a nuclear deterrent and that is around the possibility of taking the Euro area down by pressing the button marked ‘default’.

Our servile policies in this area maintained by a group of carpetbaggers called politicians result only in us being treated as the servant in the room. Looking ahead – who is going to respect Ireland in negotiations when we have our political leadership being patted on the head with his little photo on the front of a corporate rentboy publication and the designation ‘European Servant of The Year’?

History again – sovereignty is never achieved or held without demanding and insisting on it. There are no examples anywhere of a country being handed its self-determination as a gift by other nations and power blocs. It is something that has to be fought for and held.  Germany and the EU are not some fine day going to say ‘good lads, here you go, you’ve been very good and now off you go and enjoy yourself’.

Anyone who thinks Ireland will emerge as a sovereign nation again at some point given current conditions is a fool of the very worst kind.  The paradigm must be changed, whatever the pressures against. Failure to insist on sovereignty over time will result only in servitude.

Captain Con O’Sullivan 10th November 2012

via It’s a Political World.

via It’s a Political World.

US sides with Iran and N. Korea in record UN vote over the death penalty


A record number of countries voted to abolish the death penalty, but the US sided with Iran and North Korea on the issue.

The vote tears apart traditional alliances at the United Nations. The United States, Japan, China, Iran, India, North Korea, Syria and Zimbabwe were among 39 countries to oppose the non-binding resolution in the assembly’s rights committee. Thirty-six countries abstained.

Israel voted against its strong US-ally to join European Union nations, Australia, Brazil and South Africa among major countries backing the motion.

Norway, which played a leading role campaigning for the resolution, said on its Twitter account that the increased support was a “great result”.

At the last vote in 2010, 107 countries backed the resolution.

France’s new Socialist government has launched a campaign with other abolitionist states to get the full General Assembly to pass a resolution in December calling for a death penalty moratorium. Though such a resolution would be non-binding, diplomats say it would increase moral pressure.

A world congress against the death penalty is to be held in Madrid in June.

According to the United Nations, about 150 countries have either abolished capital punishment or have instituted a moratorium.

Amnesty International says that China executed “thousands” of prisoners in 2011 though exact figures are hard to determine. It says that other countries put to death at least 680 people with Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia major users of capital punishment.

Amnesty says that progress is slowly being made however. Even in the United States, Illinois last year became the 16th US state to abolish the death penalty.

via US sides with Iran and N. Korea in record UN vote over the death penalty – Telegraph.

via US sides with Iran and N. Korea in record UN vote over the death penalty – Telegraph.

Election 2012 – A Personal View


Are you getting ready to cast your vote?

Consider the following.

No candidate appears to be addressing the real issues namely the Financial Institutions and Jobs.

At the end of the day health care, immigration, and storms are only side issues.

The two real topics that should be screaming forth from the headline news should be unemployment and control over the financial Institutions.

Have the media failed the people concerning these issues. If so, is this due to the malignant lure of campaign funds to fill the publishers coffers.

Do you know the wise guys of banking have received more money in bailouts than has been spent on the wars in Iraq and Iran? All presidents are complicit in doling money your money into these wealth-sucking leeches.

Your next president will be no different he will feed the parasites.

The lesson learned from all of this is the President no longer represents the people. His sole duty appears to be to protect the wealth vampires and the military/industrial complex, the soldiers of destruction. Poor old Johnny Taxpayer must put his hand in the pocket for all the fraud committed by these smart-ass thugs. It seems to me not just in America, but everywhere the dissonant echoes of this story connect with the corridors of authority worldwide.

The most depressing think about this election is you cannot even pick the lesser of two evils

From 1 Blogger 2 Another

Sharing Great Blog Posts

FilmBunker

Saving you from one cinematic disaster at a time.

Wonders in the Dark

Cinema, music, opera, books, television, theater

Just Reviews

Just another WordPress.com site

Mark David Welsh

Watching the strangest movies - so you don't have to...

conradbrunstrom

Things I never thunk before.

News from the San Diego Becks

The life and times of Erik, Veronica and Thomas

The Silent Film Quarterly

The Only Magazine Dedicated To Silent Cinema

Leaden Circles

First a warning, musical; then the hour, irrevocable. The leaden circles dissolved in the air.

Klaus Kreimeier HOME

THE WORLD FILM HERITAGE 1895-1915

My Archives

because the internet is not forever

CineSocialUK

Up to the minute, fair, balanced, informed film reviews.

PUZZLED PAGAN PRESENTS

A Shrine to Pop Culture Obsessiveness. With Lots of Spoilers

Thrilling Days of Yesteryear

“Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be” – Peter DeVries

thedullwoodexperiment

Viewing movies in a different light

Twenty Four Frames

Notes on Film by John Greco

Suzanne's Mom's Blog

Arts, Nature, Family, Good Works, Luna & Stella Birthstone Jewelry

It Doesn't Have To Be Right...

... it just has to sound plausible

NJ Corporate Portrait Photographer Blog

The life of a corporate portrait photographer who likes to shoot just about anything.

arwenaragornstar

A French girl's musings...

Jordan and Eddie (The Movie Guys)

Australian based film fan - like Margaret and David, just a little younger

Octopus Films

A place for new perspectives on films, TV, media and entertainment.

scifist 2.0

A sci-fi movie history in reviews

The Reviewer's Corner

The Sometimes Serious Corner of the Internet for Anime, Manga, and Comic Reviews

Ready Steady Cut

Your favorite movie site's new favorite movie site

First Impressions

Notes on Films and Culture

1,001 Movies Reviewed Before You Die

Where I Review One of the 1,001 Movies You Should Watch Before you Die Every Day

Movies Galore of Milwaukee

Movie Galore takes a look at Silent films on up to current in development projects and gives their own opinion on what really does happen in film!

The Catwing Has Landed

A Writer's Blog About Life and Random Things

mibih.wordpress.com/

Anime - Movies - Wrestling

Gabriel Diego Valdez

Movies and how they change you.

The Horror Incorporated Project

Lurking among the corpses are the body snatchers....plotting their next venture into the graveyard....the blood in your veins will run cold, your spine tingle, as you look into the terror of death in tonight's feature....come along with me into the chamber of horrors, for an excursion through.... Horror Incorporated!

Relatos desde mi ventana

Sentimientos, emociones y reflexiones

Teri again

Finding Me

Gareth Roberts

Unorthodox Marketing & Strategy Blog

leeg schrift

Taalarmen

100 Films in a Year

12 months. 100 films. Hopefully.

Morcan Books & Films

The site for a new perspective on books and films

humhist

thoughts and thinking

Cinematic Architecture

An Inquiry on the meaning of cinematic for architecture and in architecture

IMPREINT journal

The official bulletin of the artist IMPREINT created to repost excerpts from 'En plein air'.

shadowplay

david cairns

%d bloggers like this: