Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority Discovery “Something was Missing”

This is a rather weird story. All the talk about horse meat has been going on for some time. Consumer’s being lied to, is bad thing. This story, however stuck me as rather funny.

Of all the things one might find, this was just not what one would expect. I just have to share it. Maybe others will find it amusing as well.  Food for thought. What is in our FOOD? Maybe what isn’t could be important as well.

Congratulations to those who found the problem. They didn’t find what they were looking for, but they certainly did find a problem.

So for all my followers, the next time you pick up a fork to dig into your food, you could be doing a bit of wondering. How many other companies might do this, to boost their profits?  It’s a big world.

The tests carried out by the Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority (MAST) had a surprising result: there was no beef in the Icelandic beef pies tested, despite being labeled as containing 30 percent beef.

Magnús Nielsson, co-owner of Gæðakokkar in Borgarnes, the company which produces the brand of pies, told mbl.is that he is dumbfounded.

On visir.is he was quoted as stating that, the testing must have been inaccurate as his company buys prime beef from SS and use beef stock to make them.

Magnús, however, admits that they have stopped mixing beef with lamb, when making their Italian lamb mince meatballs and that the labeling, stating that there is also beef in the product, needs to be updated.

Kjartan Hreinsson at MAST told ruv.is that the latest equipment and strictest standards are used in the testing and the results are repeated if there is the slightest doubt in accuracy.

As reported last week, the results from the testing of 16 Icelandic products carried by different stores in the country found that they did not contain any horse meat, but only beef and lamb, as stated on the labels.

MAST has since been examining the samples closer regarding their ingredients and labeling. Source

Recent

UK police in Hot Water

Forced Birthcontrol

Historic Case Against the BBC’s Cover Up of 9/11 Evidence

Nuclear Dump in Washington Leaking Radioactive Waste

US going from Police State, To Military State

US going from Police State, To Military State

Every America needs to know this.

Make sure you give a copy to all your friends out there.

The NDAA and the Death of the Democratic State

February 11, 2013 

On Wednesday a few hundred activists crowded into the courtroom of the Second Circuit, the spillover room with its faulty audio feed and dearth of chairs, and Foley Square outside the Thurgood Marshall U.S. Courthouse in Manhattan where many huddled in the cold. The fate of the nation, we understood, could be decided by the three judges who will rule on our lawsuit against President Barack Obama for signing into law Section 1021(b)(2) of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

The section permits the military to detain anyone, including U.S. citizens, who “substantially support”—an undefined legal term—al-Qaida, the Taliban or “associated forces,” again a term that is legally undefined. Those detained can be imprisoned indefinitely by the military and denied due process until “the end of hostilities.” In an age of permanent war this is probably a lifetime. Anyone detained under the NDAA can be sent, according to Section (c)(4), to any “foreign country or entity.” This is, in essence, extraordinary rendition of U.S. citizens. It empowers the government to ship detainees to the jails of some of the most repressive regimes on earth.

Section 1021(b)(2) was declared invalid in September after our first trial, in the Southern District Court of New York. The Obama administration appealed the Southern District Court ruling. The appeal was heard Wednesday in the Second Circuit Court with Judges Raymond J. Lohier, Lewis A. Kaplan and Amalya L. Kearse presiding. The judges might not make a decision until the spring when the Supreme Court rules in Clapper v. Amnesty International USA, another case in which I am a plaintiff. The Supreme Court case challenges the government’s use of electronic surveillance. If we are successful in the Clapper case, it will strengthen all the plaintiffs’ standing in Hedges v. Obama. The Supreme Court, if it rules against the government, will affirm that we as plaintiffs have a reasonable fear of being detained.

If we lose in Hedges v. Obama—and it seems certain that no matter the outcome of the appeal this case will reach the Supreme Court—electoral politics and our rights as citizens will be as empty as those of Nero’s Rome. If we lose, the power of the military to detain citizens, strip them of due process and hold them indefinitely in military prisons will become a terrifying reality. Democrat or Republican. Occupy activist or libertarian. Socialist or tea party stalwart. It does not matter. This is not a partisan fight. Once the state seizes this unchecked power, it will inevitably create a secret, lawless world of indiscriminate violence, terror and gulags. I lived under several military dictatorships during the two decades I was a foreign correspondent. I know the beast.

“The stakes are very high,” said attorney Carl Mayer, who with attorney Bruce Afran brought our case to trial, in addressing a Culture Project audience in Manhattan on Wednesday after the hearing. “What our case comes down to is: Are we going to have a civil justice system in the United States or a military justice system? The civil justice system is something that is ingrained in the Constitution. It was always very important in combating tyranny and building a democratic society. What the NDAA is trying to impose is a system of military justice that allows the military to police the streets of America to detain U.S. citizens, to detain residents in the United States in military prisons. Probably the most frightening aspect of the NDAA is that it allows for detention until ‘the end of hostilities.’

Five thousand years of human civilization has left behind innumerable ruins to remind us that the grand structures and complex societies we build, and foolishly venerate as immortal, crumble into dust. It is the descent that matters now. If the corporate state is handed the tools, as under Section 1021(b)(2) of the NDAA, to use deadly force and military power to criminalize dissent, then our decline will be one of repression, blood and suffering. No one, not least our corporate overlords, believes that our material conditions will improve with the impending collapse of globalization, the steady deterioration of the global economy, the decline of natural resources and the looming catastrophes of climate change.

But the global corporatists—who have created a new species of totalitarianism—demand, during our decay, total power to extract the last vestiges of profit from a degraded ecosystem and disempowered citizenry. The looming dystopia is visible in the skies of blighted postindustrial cities such as Flint, Mich., where drones circle like mechanical vultures. And in an era where the executive branch can draw up secret kill lists that include U.S. citizens, it would be naive to believe these domestic drones will remain unarmed.

Robert M. Loeb, the lead attorney for the government in Wednesday’s proceedings, took a tack very different from that of the government in the Southern District Court of New York before Judge Katherine B. Forrest. Forrest repeatedly asked the government attorneys if they could guarantee that the other plaintiffs and I would not be subject to detention under Section 1021(b)(2). The government attorneys in the first trial granted no such immunity. The government also claimed in the first trial that under the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force Act (AUMF), it already had the power to detain U.S. citizens. Section 1021(b)(2), the attorneys said, did not constitute a significant change in government power. Judge Forrest in September rejected the government’s arguments and ruled Section 1021(b)(2) invalid.

The government, however, argued Wednesday that as “independent journalists” we were exempt from the law and had no cause for concern. Loeb stated that if journalists used journalism as a cover to aid the enemy, they would be seized and treated as enemy combatants. But he assured the court that I would be untouched by the new law as long as “Mr. Hedges did not start driving black vans for people we don’t like.”

Loeb did not explain to the court who defines an “independent journalist.” I have interviewed members of al-Qaida as well as 16 other individuals or members of groups on the State Department’s terrorism list. When I convey these viewpoints, deeply hostile to the United States, am I considered by the government to be “independent”? Could I be seen by the security and surveillance state, because I challenge the official narrative, as a collaborator with the enemy? And although I do not drive black vans for people Loeb does not like, I have spent days, part of the time in vehicles, with armed units that are hostile to the United States. These include Hamas in Gaza and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in southeastern Turkey.

I traveled frequently with armed members of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front in El Salvador and the Sandinista army in Nicaragua during the five years I spent in Central America. Senior officials in the Reagan administration regularly denounced many of us in the press as fifth columnists and collaborators with terrorists. These officials did not view us as “independent.” They viewed us as propagandists for the enemy. Section 1021(b)(2) turns this linguistic condemnation into legal condemnation.

Alexa O’Brien, another plaintiff and a co-founder of the US Day of Rage, learned after WikiLeaks released 5 million emails from Stratfor, a private security firm that does work for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Marine Corps and the Defense Intelligence Agency, that Stratfor operatives were trying to link her and her organization to Islamic radicals, including al-Qaida, and sympathetic websites as well as jihadist ideology. If that link were made, she and those in her organization would not be immune from detention.

Afran said at the Culture Project discussion that he once gave a donation at a fundraising dinner to the Ancient Order of Hibernians, an Irish Catholic organization. A few months later, to his surprise, he received a note of thanks from Sinn Féin. “I didn’t expect to be giving money to a group that maintains a paramilitary terrorist organization, as some people say,” Afran said. “This is the danger. You can easily find yourself in a setting that the government deems worthy of incarceration. This is why people cease to speak out.”

The government attempted in court last week to smear Sami Al-Hajj, a journalist for the Al-Jazeera news network who was picked up by the U.S. military and imprisoned for nearly seven years in Guantanamo. This, for me, was one of the most chilling moments in the hearing.

“Just calling yourself a journalist doesn’t make you a journalist, like Al-Hajj,” Loeb told the court. “He used journalism as a cover. He was a member of al-Qaida and provided Stinger missiles to al-Qaida.”

Al-Hajj, despite Loeb’s assertions, was never charged with any crimes. And the slander by Loeb only highlighted the potential for misuse of this provision of the NDAA if it is not struck down.

The second central argument by the government was even more specious. Loeb claimed that Subsection 1021(e) of the NDAA exempts citizens from detention. Section 1021(e) states: “Nothing in this section shall be construed to affect existing law or authorities relating to the detention of United States citizens, lawful resident aliens of the United States, or any other persons who are captured or arrested in the United States.”

Afran countered Loeb by saying that Subsection 1021(e) illustrated that the NDAA assumed that U.S. citizens would be detained by the military, overturning two centuries of domestic law that forbids the military to carry out domestic policing. And military detention of citizens, Afran noted, is not permitted under the Constitution.

Afran quoted the NDAA bill’s primary sponsor, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who said on the floor of the Senate: “In the case where somebody is worried about being picked up by a rogue executive branch because they went to the wrong political rally, they don’t have to worry very long, because our federal courts have the right and the obligation to make sure the government proves their case that you are a member of al-Qaida and didn’t [just] go to a political rally.”

Afran told the court that Graham’s statement implicitly acknowledged that U.S. citizens could be detained by the military under 1021(b)(2). “There is no reason for the sponsor to make that statement if he does not realize that the statute causes that chilling fear,” Afran told the judges.

After the hearing Afran explained: “If the senator who sponsored and managed the bill believed people would be afraid of the law, then the plaintiffs obviously have a reasonably objective basis to fear the statute.”

In speaking to the court Afran said of 1021(e): “It says it is applied to people in the United States. It presumes that they are going to be detained under some law. The only law we know of is this law. What other laws, before this one, allowed the military to detain people in this country?”

This was a question Judge Lohier, at Afran’s urging, asked Loeb during the argument. Loeb concurred that the NDAA was the only law he knew of that permitted the military to detain and hold U.S. citizens.

Via Truth-Dig Source

Chris Hedges: NDAA Lawsuit Update

Bad enough Americans already have people being Entrapped.

Inside the FBI’s ‘Terror factory’

You could be sent to anyone of these Countries.

CIA used 54 countries for detaining prisoners for toture

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. Must not forget Cuba. Cuba did not help, but did have the US prison there. Guantánamo Bay. Source

Now the Military can help with all of this.

You can bet many of those countries still help the CIA.

Like many who were sent to prison from Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and other countries of course.

The Counter-Terrorism Rewards Program, administered by the United States Department of State offers monetary compensation for individuals who volunteer information that leads to the location, capture, and trial of suspected terrorists. The program also seeks information relevant to finances, assets, and plans of terrorist organizations. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) work closely with the Department of State to investigate all information garnered through the Counter-Terrorism Rewards Program. In 1998, after the bombing of United States embassies in East Africa, the Department of State raised the maximum reward for information to $5 million.

The rewards program not only offers monetary rewards for information aiding anti-terrorism operations, but also promises confidentiality and anonymity for the informant. The United States government further promises to aid and relocate informants whose disclosure of information places themselves, and their family, in jeopardy.

The Counter-Terrorism Rewards Program is now a part of a larger anti-terrorism operation, the Rewards for Justice Program. The program pays for information relevant to the arrest and capture of wanted terrorists, both domestic and foreign. As part of the Patriot Act of 2001, the secretary of state can pay rewards greater than $5 million for information leading to the arrest of suspected terrorists. To date, the program has paid $9.75 million to 24 individuals who aided government antiterror investigations.

The Counter-Terrorism Rewards Program, as part of Rewards for Justice, has had several key successes. Information received through the program led to the arrest and eventual conviction of the 1993 World Trade Center bomber, Ramzi Yousef. The highest current priority of the rewards program is information leading to the capture of al-Qaeda front man, Usama bin Laden, and others with suspected involvement in the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Source

Have a beef with one of your neighbours.
Turn them in and get a reward. They will of course be tortured until they confess, not to worry.
By the way how do your neighbours feel about you?  You could be sent to a black hole never to return.
If the NDAA is accepted you will have  no rights at all.
This is what a witch hunt looks like.
Rather reminds me of what is done to Palestinians in Gaza and especially the West Bank. They live under the same rules as the NDAA.
Here is a must read Article.

Max Blumenthal: How Israeli Occupation Forces, Bahraini Monarchy Guards Trained U.S. Police For Coordinated Crackdown On “Occupy” Protests

New York – In October, the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department turned parts of the campus of the University of California in Berkeley into an urban battlefield. The occasion was Urban Shield 2011, an annual SWAT team exposition organized to promote “mutual response,” collaboration and competition between heavily militarized police strike forces representing law enforcement departments across the United States and foreign nations.

At the time, the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department was preparing for an imminent confrontation with the nascent “Occupy” movement that had set up camp in downtown Oakland, and would demonstrate the brunt of its repressive capacity against the demonstrators a month later when it attacked the encampment with teargas and rubber bullet rounds, leaving an Iraq war veteran in critical condition and dozens injured. According to Police Magazine, a law enforcement trade publication, “Law enforcement agencies responding to…Occupy protesters in northern California credit Urban Shield for their effective teamwork.”

Training alongside the American police departments at Urban Shield was the Yamam, an Israeli Border Police unit that claims to specialize in “counter-terror” operations but is better known for its extra-judicial assassinations of Palestinian militant leaders and long record of repression and abuses in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. Urban Shield also featured a unit from the military of Bahrain, which had just crushed a largely non-violent democratic uprising by opening fire on protest camps and arresting wounded demonstrators when they attempted to enter hospitals. While the involvement of Bahraini soldiers in the drills was a novel phenomenon, the presence of quasi-military Israeli police – whose participation in Urban Shield was not reported anywhere in US media – reflected a disturbing but all-too-common feature of the post-9/11 American security landscape.

The Israelification of America’s security apparatus, recently unleashed in full force against the Occupy Wall Street Movement, has taken place at every level of law enforcement, and in areas that have yet to be exposed. The phenomenon has been documented in bits and pieces, through occasional news reports that typically highlight Israel’s national security prowess without examining the problematic nature of working with a country accused of grave human rights abuses. But it has never been the subject of a national discussion. And collaboration between American and Israeli cops is just the tip of the iceberg.

Having been schooled in Israeli tactics perfected during a 63 year experience of controlling, dispossessing, and occupying an indigenous population, local police forces have adapted them to monitor Muslim and immigrant neighborhoods in US cities. Meanwhile, former Israeli military officers have been hired to spearhead security operations at American airports and suburban shopping malls, leading to a wave of disturbing incidents of racial profiling, intimidation, and FBI interrogations of innocent, unsuspecting people. The New York Police Department’s disclosure that it deployed “counter-terror” measures against Occupy protesters encamped in downtown Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park is just the latest example of the so-called War on Terror creeping into every day life. Revelations like these have raised serious questions about the extent to which Israeli-inspired tactics are being used to suppress the Occupy movement.

The process of Israelification began in the immediate wake of 9/11, when national panic led federal and municipal law enforcement officials to beseech Israeli security honchos for advice and training. America’s Israel lobby exploited the climate of hysteria, providing thousands of top cops with all-expenses paid trips to Israel and stateside training sessions with Israeli military and intelligence officials. By now, police chiefs of major American cities who have not been on junkets to Israel are the exception.

“Israel is the Harvard of antiterrorism,” said former US Capitol Police Chief Terrance W. Gainer, who now serves as the US Senate Sergeant-at-Arms. Cathy Lanier, the Chief of the Washington DC Metropolitan Police, remarked, “No experience in my life has had more of an impact on doing my job than going to Israel.” “One would say it is the front line,” Barnett Jones, the police chief of Ann Arbor, Michigan, said of Israel. “We’re in a global war.”

Karen Greenberg, the director of Fordham School of Law’s Center on National Security and a leading expert on terror and civil liberties, said the Israeli influence on American law enforcement is so extensive it has bled into street-level police conduct. “After 9/11 we reached out to the Israelis on many fronts and one of those fronts was torture,” Greenberg told me. “The training in Iraq and Afghanistan on torture was Israeli training. There’s been a huge downside to taking our cue from the Israelis and now we’re going to spread that into the fabric of everyday American life? It’s counter-terrorism creep. And it’s exactly what you could have predicted would have happened.”

Changing the way we do business

The Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA) is at the heart of American-Israeli law enforcement collaboration. JINSA is a Jerusalem and Washington DC-based think tank known for stridently neoconservative policy positions on Israel’s policy towards the Palestinians and its brinkmanship with Iran. The group’s board of directors boasts a Who’s Who of neocon ideologues. Two former JINSA advisors who have also consulted for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Douglas Feith and Richard Perle, went on to serve in the Department of Defense under President George W. Bush, playing influential roles in the push to invade and occupy Iraq.

Through its Law Enforcement Education Program (LEEP), JINSA claims to have arranged Israeli-led training sessions for over 9000 American law enforcement officials at the federal, state and municipal level. “The Israelis changed the way we do business regarding homeland security in New Jersey,” Richard Fuentes, the NJ State Police Superintendent, said after attending a 2004 JINSA-sponsored Israel trip and a subsequent JINSA conference alongside 435 other law enforcement officers.

During a 2004 LEEP trip, JINSA brought 14 senior American law enforcement officials to Israel to receive instruction from their counterparts. The Americans were trained in “how to secure large venues, such as shopping malls, sporting events and concerts,” JINSA’s website reported. Escorted by Brigadier General Simon Perry, an Israeli police attaché and former Mossad official, the group toured the Israeli separation wall, now a mandatory stop for American cops on junkets to Israel. “American officials learned about the mindset of a suicide bomber and how to spot trouble signs,” according to JINSA. And they were schooled in Israeli killing methods. “Although the police are typically told to aim for the chest when shooting because it is the largest target, the Israelis are teaching [American] officers to aim for a suspect’s head so as not to detonate any explosives that might be strapped to his torso,” the New York Times reported.

Cathy Lanier, now the Chief of Washington DC’s Metropolitan Police Department, was among the law enforcement officials junketed to Israel by JINSA. “I was with the bomb units and the SWAT team and all of those high profile specialized [Israeli] units and I learned a tremendous amount,” Lanier reflected. “I took 82 pages of notes while I was there which I later brought back and used to formulate a lot of what I later used to create and formulate the Homeland Security terrorism bureau in the DC Metropolitan Police department.”

Some of the police chiefs who have taken part in JINSA’s LEEP program have done so under the auspices of the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), a private non-governmental group with close ties to the Department of Homeland Security. Chuck Wexler, the executive director of PERF, was so enthusiastic about the program that by 2005 he had begun organizing trips to Israel sponsored by PERF, bringing numerous high-level American police officials to receive instruction from their Israeli counterparts.

PERF gained notoriety when Wexler confirmed that his group coordinated police raids in 16 cities across America against “Occupy” protest encampments. As many as 40 cities have sought PERF advice on suppressing the “Occupy” movement and other mass protest activities. Wexler did not respond to my requests for an interview.

Lessons from Israel to Auschwitz

Besides JINSA, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has positioned itself as an important liaison between American police forces and the Israeli security-intelligence apparatus. Though the ADL promotes itself as a Jewish civil rights group, it has provoked controversy by publishing a blacklist of organizations supporting Palestinian rights, and for condemning a proposal to construct an Islamic community center in downtown New York, several blocks from Ground Zero, on the basis that some opponents of the project were entitled to “positions that others would characterize as irrational or bigoted.”

Through the ADL’s Advanced Training School course on Extremist and Terrorist Threats, over 700 law enforcement personnel from 220 federal and local agencies including the FBI and CIA have been trained by Israeli police and intelligence commanders. This year, the ADL brought 15 high-level American police officials to Israel for instruction from the country’s security apparatus. According to the ADL, over 115 federal, state and local law enforcement executives have undergone ADL-organized training sessions in Israel since the program began in 2003. “I can honestly say that the training offered by ADL is by far the most useful and current training course I have ever attended,” Deputy Commissioner Thomas Wright of the Philadelphia Police Department commented after completing an ADL program this year. The ADL’s relationship with the Washington DC Police Department is so cozy its members are invited to accompany DC cops on “ride along” patrols.

The ADL claims to have trained over 45,000 American law enforcement officials through its Law Enforcement and Society program, which “draws on the history of the Holocaust to provide law enforcement professionals with an increased understanding of…their role as protectors of the Constitution,” the group’s website stated. All new FBI agents and intelligence analysts are required to attend the ADL program, which is incorporated into three FBI training programs. According to officialFBI recruitment material, “all new special agents must visit the US Holocaust Memorial Museum to see firsthand what can happen when law enforcement fails to protect individuals.”

Fighting “crimiterror”

Among the most prominent Israeli government figure to have influenced the practices of American law enforcement officials is Avi Dichter, a former head of Israel’s Shin Bet internal security service and current member of Knesset who recently introduced legislation widely criticized as anti-democratic. During the Second Intifada, Dichter ordered several bombings on densely populated Palestinian civilian areas, including one on the al-Daraj neighborhood of Gaza that resulted in the death of 15 innocent people, including 8 children, and 150 injuries. “After each success, the only thought is, ‘Okay, who’s next?’” Dichter said of the “targeted” assassinations he has ordered.

Despite his dubious human rights record and apparently dim view of democratic values, or perhaps because of them, Dichter has been a key figure in fostering cooperation between Israeli security forces and American law enforcement. In 2006, while Dichter was serving at the time as Israel’s Minister of Public Security, he spoke in Boston, Massachusetts before the annual convention of the International Association of Chiefs of Police. Seated beside FBI Director Robert Mueller and then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez, Dichter told the 10,000 police officers in the crowd that there was an “intimate connection between fighting criminals and fighting terrorists.” Dichter declared that American cops were actually “fighting crimiterrorists.” The Jerusalem Post reported that Dichter was “greeted by a hail of applause, as he was hugged by Mueller, who described Dichter as his mentor in anti-terror tactics.”

A year after Dichter’s speech, he and then-Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff signed a joint memorandum pledging security collaboration between America and Israel on issues ranging from airport security to emergency planning. In 2010, Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano authorized a new joint memorandum with Israeli Transport and Road Safety Minister Israel Katz shoring up cooperation between the US Transportation Security Agency – the agency in charge of day-to-day airport security – and Israel’s Security Department. The recent joint memorandum also consolidated the presence of US Homeland Security law enforcement personnel on Israeli soil. “The bond between the United States and Israel has never been stronger,” Napolitano remarked at a recent summit of AIPAC, the leading outfit of America’s Israel lobby, in Scottsdale, Arizona.

The Demographic Unit

For the New York Police Department, collaboration with Israel’s security and intelligence apparatus became a top priority after 9/11. Just months after the attacks on New York City, the NYPD assigned a permanent, taxpayer-funded liaison officerto Tel Aviv. Under the leadership of Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, ties between the NYPD and Israel have deepened by the day. Kelly embarked on his first trip to Israel in early 2009 to demonstrate his support for Israel’s ongoing assault on the Gaza Strip, a one-sided attack that left over 1400 Gaza residents dead in three weeks and led a United Nations fact-finding mission to conclude that Israeli military and government officials had committed war crimes.

Kelly returned to Israel the following year to speak at the Herziliya Conference, an annual gathering of neoconservative security and government officials who obsess over supposed “demographic threats.” After Kelly appeared on stage, the Herziliya crowd was addressed by the pro-Israel academic Martin Kramer, who claimed that Israel’s blockade of Gaza was helping to reduce the numbers of “superfluous young men of fighting age.” Kramer added, “If a state can’t control these young men, then someone else will.”

Back in New York, the NYPD set up a secret “Demographics Unit” designed to spy on and monitor Muslim communities around the city. The unit was developed with input and intensive involvement by the CIA, which still refuses to name the former Middle East station chief it has posted in the senior ranks of the NYPD’s intelligence division. Since 2002, the NYPD has dispatched undercover agents known as “rakers” and “mosque crawlers” into Pakistani-American bookstores and restaurants to gauge community anger over US drone strikes inside Pakistan, and into Palestinian hookah bars and mosques to search out signs of terror recruitment and clandestine funding. “If a raker noticed a customer looking at radical literature, he might chat up the store owner and see what he could learn,” the Associated Press reported. “The bookstore, or even the customer, might get further scrutiny.”

The Israeli imprimatur on the NYPD’s Demographics Unit is unmistakable. As a former police official told the Associated Press, the Demographics Unit has attempted to “map the city’s human terrain” through a program “modeled in part on how Israeli authorities operate in the West Bank.”

Shop ‘til you’re stopped

At Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport, security personnel target non-Jewish and non-white passengers, especially Arabs, as a matter of policy. The most routinely harassed passengers are Palestinian citizens of Israel, who must brace themselvesfor five-hour interrogation sessions and strip searches before flying. Those singled out for extra screening by Shin Bet officers are sent to what many Palestinians from Israel call the “Arab room,” where they are subjected to humiliating questioning sessions (former White House Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala encountered such mistreatment during a visit to Israel last year). Some Palestinians are forbidden from speaking to anyone until takeoff, and may be menaced by Israeli flight attendants during the flight. In one documented case, a six-month-old was awoken for a strip search by Israeli Shin Bet personnel. Instances of discrimination against Arabs at Ben Gurion International are too numerous to detail – several incidents occur each day – but a few of the more egregious instances were outlined in a 2007 petition the Association for Civil Rights in Israel filed with the country’s Supreme Court.

Though the Israeli system of airline security contains dubious benefits and clearly deleterious implications for civil liberties, it is quietly and rapidly migrating into major American airports. Security personnel at Boston’s Logan International Airport have undergone extensive training from Israeli intelligence personnel, learning to apply profiling and behavioral assessment techniques against American citizens that were initially tested on Palestinians. The new procedures began in August, when so-called Behavior Detection Officers were placed in security queues at Logan’s heavily trafficked Terminal A. Though the procedures have added to traveler stress while netting exactly zero terrorists, they are likely to spread to other cities. “I would like to see a lot more profiling” in American airports, said Yossi Sheffi, an Israeli-born risk analyst at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Center for Transportation and Logistics.

Israeli techniques now dictate security procedures at the Mall of America, a gargantuan shopping mall in Bloomington, Minnesota that has become a major tourist attraction. The new methods took hold in 2005 when the mall hired a former Israeli army sergeant named Mike Rozin to lead a special new security unit. Rozin, who once worked with a canine unit at Ben Gurion Airport in Israel, instructed his employees at the Mall of America to visually profile every shopper, examining their expressions for suspicious signs. His security team accosts and interrogates an average of 1200 shoppers a year, according to the Center for Investigative Reporting.

One of the thousands who fell into Rozin’s dragnet was Najam Qureshi, a Pakistani-American mall vendor whose father accidentally left his cell phone on a table in the mall food court. A day after the incident, FBI agents appeared at Qureshi’s doorstep to ask if he knew anyone seeking to harm the United States. An army veteran interrogated for two hours by Rozin’s men for taking video inside the mall sobbed openly about his experience to reporters. Meanwhile, another man, Emile Khalil, was visited by FBI agents after mall security stopped him for taking photographs of the dazzling consumer haven.

“I think that the threat of terrorism in the United States is going to become an unfortunate part of American life,” Rozin remarked to American Jewish World. And as long as the threat persists in the public’s mind, Israeli securitocrats like Rozin will never have to worry about the next paycheck.

“Occupy” meets the Occupation

When a riot squad from the New York Police Department destroyed and evicted the “Occupy Wall Street” protest encampment at Zuccotti Park in downtown Manhattan, department leadership drew on the anti-terror tactics they had refined since the 9/11 attacks. According to the New York Times, the NYPD deployed “counterterrorism measures” to mobilize large numbers of cops for the lightning raid on Zuccotti. The use of anti-terror techniques to suppress a civilian protest complemented harsh police measures demonstrated across the country against the nationwide “Occupy” movement, from firing tear gas canisters and rubber bullets into unarmed crowds to blasting demonstrators with the LRAD sound cannon.

Given the amount of training the NYPD and so many other police forces have received from Israel’s military-intelligence apparatus, and the profuse levels of gratitude American police chiefs have expressed to their Israeli mentors, it is worth asking how much Israeli instruction has influenced the way the police have attempted to suppress the Occupy movement, and how much it will inform police repression of future upsurges of street protest. But already, the Israelification of American law enforcement appears to have intensified police hostility towards the civilian population, blurring the lines between protesters, common criminals, and terrorists. As Dichter said, they are all just “crimiterrorists.”

“After 9/11 we had to react very quickly,” Greenberg remarked, “but now we’re in 2011 and we’re not talking about people who want to fly planes into buildings. We’re talking about young American citizens who feel that their birthright has been sold. If we’re using Israeli style tactics on them and this stuff bleeds into the way we do business at large, were in big trouble.”

This article is cross-posted from Al-Akhbar.com with permission from the author Max Blumenthal.

You can read more of Max Blumenthal at MaxBlumenthal.com. He is the author of Republican Gomorrah, published by Nation Books.

Source

 

The 2nd Eyjafjallajökull volcano eruption in south Iceland

Added updates for Sunday April 18 2010 at the bottom. Also there are  useful links for air travelers and train travelers.

Volcano Eruption in Eyjafjallajökull Iceland  April 14 2010:  Photo taken by a man named Ólafur Eggertsson from the farm Þorvaldseyri.

April 14, 2010 — The 2nd Eyjafjallajökull volcano eruption in south Iceland for year 2010. It started on 14.04.2010. GPS coordinates of the eruption: 63.629° N, 19.630° W. Video by Icelandic National TV stations RÚV and Stöð 2. Music by Jonn Serrie, The Legacy, Spirit Keepers. Date: 14.04.2010.

March 21, 2010 — Video made by the Icelandic coast guard of the volcano eruption near Eyjafjallajökull glacier, in South Iceland. The eruption started shortly before midnight on Saturday 20th of March 2010.

Ash from Iceland Volcano Will Spread Widely
April 15 2010

According to meteorologist Thorsteinn Jónsson at the Icelandic Meteorological Office, the ash emitted from the volcano in Eyjafjallajökull in south Iceland will continue to drift across Europe and spread to many countries in the next 24 hours.

Scandinavia, the British Isles, the Benelux countries and even Poland will be subject to ash fall in the next 24 hours, Jónsson told ruv.is. He finds it likely that the eruption will continue at the same force and that ash can spread as widely as across the entire northern hemisphere.

In Iceland the Eyjafjallajökull eruption has caused extensive ash fall in the regions east of the glacier today. The situation was worst in the eastern Mýrdalssandur sand plain and in the Medalland and Álftaver districts in Skaftártungur. Ash fall was also reported in Kirkjubaejarklaustur and as far as Höfn.

Tomorrow wind is forecast to blow in from the north and then ash is expected to spread over the districts south of Eyjafjallajökull and to the Westman Islands. Forecasts also assume that ash will continue to drift with upper atmosphere winds in the coming days.

Airports have been closed in Scandinavia and the British Isles today and millions of travelers are stranded.

The British media has stated that never before in peace times has aviation been brought to such a standstill in the UK—after the 2001 terrorist attacks there were still flights to a few destinations while the current ash fall is causing an absolute flying ban.

Ash can prove extremely hazardous to airplane engines. Grains that are carried into the engines can destroy the motors in a matter of minutes. Source

Volcanic ash cloud causing fear among Icelandic farmers

There has not been as much volcanic ash falling in Iceland since the Katla eruption of 1918 and that eruption caused many farmers’ entire stock of animals to die.

April 15 2010

Vilhjalmur Eyjolfsson from the farm Hnausi to the east of Eyjafjallajokull told RUV the ash cloud is darkening the sky and the ash is still falling. He says he has never seen anything like it. If the situation lasts long, he fears there could be trouble with regard to putting his animals out to graze, as they must be protected from eating or drinking volcanic ash at all costs.

Eyjolfsson said his farm experienced ash falls from the Grimsvotn eruption in 1934, but today is much worse. All farm animals in the Medallandi area died when Katla erupted in 1918 and Eyjolfsson says people took many years to get over it.

In other news: work has begun to repair the deliberate damage done to the Route 1 highway yesterday. The digging up of the road appears to have helped the surging flood waters on their way, meaning that bridges have not been damaged. The flood of meltwater caused by the volcano has now subsided significantly. Source

Information on Ash Fall

April 15 2010

There is considerable ash fall resulting from the volcanic eruption under the Eyjafjallajökull glacier. The ash that is falling is composed of both fine and course particles. The wind direction and other meteorological conditions have an impact on where the ash falls to earth.

An examination of the ash particles is in progress but it is known that the ash originated from the volcano and so it can contain the chemical Florine, which is a pollutant and can have harmful short term and long term effects for grazing animals.

Volcanic ash can also effect humans. The most common effects are:

Respiratory effects:
Common short-term symptoms include:
Nasal irritation and discharge (runny nose).
Throat irritation and sore throat, sometimes accompanied by dry coughing.
Breathing becomes uncomfortable.
People with pre-existing chest complaints may develop severe bronchitis symptoms which last some days beyond exposure to ash (for example, hacking cough, production of sputum, wheezing, or shortness of breath).
Airway irritation for people with asthma or bronchitis; common complaints of people with asthma include shortness of breath, wheezing and coughing.
Eye irritation is a common health effect as pieces of grit can cause painful scratches in the front of the eye and conjunctivitis. Contact lens wearers need to be especially ware of this problem.

Eye symptoms:
Common short-term symptoms include:
Eyes feeling as though there are foreign particles in them.
Eyes becoming painful, itchy or bloodshot. Sticky discharge or tearing
Corneal abrasions or scratches.
Acute conjunctivitis or inflammation due to the presence of ash, which leads to redness, burning of the eyes, and photosensitivity.

What to do to protect yourself against volcanic ash,
Use a mask when outside, and it is also recommended to wear protective clothing.
If a mask is not available the use a cloth over the mouth and nose to prevent inhalation of larger particles.
Use protective goggles.
Children and adult with respiratory problems should remain indoors.

Source

More photo’s of Volcanic eruption posted on Flickr

Huge ash plume blanketing Europe may last 5 more days

The unprecedented closure of airspace across Britain and large parts of Northern Europe is set to continue into the weekend, after a volcanic eruption in Iceland sent a massive plume of ash into the atmosphere.

The giant plume also shut airspace in Scandinavia, Germany, Belgium, France and Ireland yesterday.

Dutch airspace closed due to volcanic ash from Iceland

Danish airspace shuts down

More Airports could be affected depending on how far the Fall of ash travels.

Norway, Sweden and Finland are also among European countries that have also been hit.

It is amazing how the ash can travel so far in just one day.  It goes with the wind.

As I was looking at this map it occurred to me Radiation from Nuclear Bombs and DU can travel even farther  as it is lighter, but invisible to the eye.

Something to think about.
Update  April 15 2010
(Reuters) – A volcanic eruption in Iceland, which has thrown up a 6-km (3.7 mile) high plume of ash and disrupted air traffic across northern Europe, has grown more intense, an expert said on Thursday.

The eruption under the Eyjafjallajokull glacier continued to spew large amounts of ash and smoke into the air and showed no signs of abating after 40 hours of activity, said Pall Einarsson, a geophysicist at the University of Iceland.

“The seismographs are showing that since this morning the intensity of the eruption seems to be growing,” he said.

Hot fumes had melted up to a third of the glacial ice covering the crater, causing a nearby river to burst its banks, and frequent explosions on the floor of the crater sounded like bombs going off, he said.

The floods were abating, however, and some of those living in the sparsely populated area near the volcano had returned to their homes.

Another scientist said the eruption was 10 times more powerful than one which occurred last month on the flank of the volcano, though the two were part of the same event.

To the east of the volcano, thousands of hectares of land are covered by a thick layer of ash while a cloud blotted out the sun in some areas along the southern coast of Iceland, local media reported.

The cloud of ash from the eruption has hit air travel all over northern Europe, with flights grounded or diverted due to the risk of engine damage from sucking in particles of ash from the volcanic cloud.

CLOSE WATCH

Scientists picked up the first signs of increased seismic activity at Eyjafjallajokull last summer and had been expecting an eruption at any moment, Einarsson said.

The eruption began in March but subsided earlier this week when a magma conduit became blocked, building up pressure which finally escaped through the volcano’s main crater.

Einarsson, who described the eruption as “reasonably powerful,” said it was the most significant volcanic event in Iceland since a huge eruption in 1996, when an eruption under the Grimsvotn lakes led to widespread flooding.

He said scientists were still concerned the ongoing eruption could trigger Mt Katla, a more powerful volcano nearby covered by a thicker ice sheet, but had not picked up any clear signs of brewing activity.

The volcano under the Ejfjallajokull glacier, Iceland’s fifth largest glacier, has erupted five times since Iceland was settled in the ninth century.

Iceland sits on a volcanic hotspot in the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and has relatively frequent eruptions, although most occur in sparsely populated areas and pose little danger to people or property. Before March, the last eruption took place in 2004.

(Reporting by Omar Valdimarsson; writing by Nicholas Vinocur; editing by Robert Woodward) Source

Warning. I was just checking for updates and noticed.

Some News articles are saying that the Falling Ash/particles or whatever you want to call it, will not affect your health. That is not true. It most certainly can harm your health. If the ash is falling stay indoors if possible or wear a mask, especially those with respiratory aliments like Asthma.

Point of interest

If the closures continue for up to three days, the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA) estimates some 6 million passengers will be affected – probably forfeiting their flights; as an Act of God, the volcano’s impact nullifies insurance claims for canceled flights. Source

My Advice become an Atheist real quick. Don’t let them rip you off. Act of God my foot. That is just a line they use to  rip people off. They can’t prove God did it. Nobody can.

Update Friday April 16 2010

Ryanair halts flights till Monday

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary tonight announced blanket weekend flight cancellations over safety fears for planes flying in northern Europe.

The budget carrier’s chief said all services to and from the UK and Ireland and about a dozen other regions have been grounded until 1pm on Monday.

Mr O’Leary apologised to customers but said he was acting on advice that stable weather was continuing to push potentially dangerous volcanic ash over the region.

Spectacular pictures taken from a helicopter at sunset on April 14, 2010 show how ash from an Icelandic volcano is severely disrupting travel plans for British air passengers. Photo MARCO FULLE / BARCROFT MEDIA LTD

For the Entire Story and more photo’s go HERE

Some 17,000 flights in European airspace are likely to be cancelled Friday due to the dangers posed by a volcanic ash cloud spreading from Iceland, with experts warning that the disruption could continue into the weekend.

Although some Scottish and Scandinavian airports are likely to resume limited flights Friday, a ban on flights still covers most UK airspace and much of Northern Europe.

Eurostar has also confirmed that it has no availability for trains on Friday, April 16.

More information:

Useful  Links Compliments of the UK Independent

Flightstats
Flightstats tracks aviation delays worldwide, showing the current status of individual airports and flights.
http://www.flightstats.com

Updates on British air space
NATS controls all air traffic over the British Isles and the eastern North Atlantic and has provided regular updates on its website.
http://www.nats.co.uk/

Updates on mainland European air space
Eurocontrol is responsible for air traffic across mainland European airspace and has provided regular updates on its website and on Twitter.
http://www.eurocontrol.int
http://twitter.com/eurocontrol

Updates from main airport operators

BAA (responsible for London Heathrow airport) http://www.baa.com/

Aeroports de Paris (responsible for Paris Charles de Gaulle airport) http://www.aeroportsdeparis.fr

Frankfurt Airport (Frankfurt/Main airport) http://www.frankfurt-airport.com

Berliner Flughafen (responsible for Berlin’s Tegel airport) http://www.berlin-airport.de

Schiphol Airport (Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport) http://www.schiphol.nl/

Crowd sourced updates

The Twitter “ashtag” is being used by major airlines and airport operators to provide micro blogging updates:

http://twitter.com/#search?q=%23ashtag

Train updates

Eurostar operates trains between the UK and mainland Europe http://www.eurostar.com/

General update on the volcanic eruption

By IceNews

April 16 2010

Passengers flying to or from Iceland are advised to follow updated travel information on http://www.kefairport.is/English/

The volcanic eruption in the glacier Eyjafjallajokull in South Iceland is continuing but Icelandic civil protection authorities have the situation as regards public response fully under control. The affected areas have been evacuated and damage has been limited to roads, bridges and other infrastructure that has been destroyed by flooding. Further damage to agricultural land is evident.

Day to day business in Iceland apart from the directly affected areas in the south has not been affected. The ash hurled into the atmosphere by the eruption has however caused serious disruption of air traffic. Icelandic scientists and public authorities, the Meterological Institution (http://en.vedur.is/) and the Icelandic Civil Aviation Administration (http://www.isavia.is/), remain in close contact with their counterparts in Europe in order to monitor the eruption, the weather conditions and the projected path of the volcanic ash cloud.

Travelling in Iceland – safety first

Foreign visitors in Iceland that have had their flights cancelled are advised to contact their travel agents. Visitors coming to Iceland are encouraged to monitor the news and learn about their rights if the flight is cancelled.

Travelers are also urged to take all necessary general precautions while travelling in Iceland and seek the advise of local authorities.

Air traffic

Ash fall from the volcanic eruption in Eyjafjallajökull has affected air traffic in North Europe the last few days and therefore traveling to and from Iceland. People are encouraged to monitor the news and learn about their rights if the flight is canceled.

Source

April 16 2010 Update

All of Europe’s three biggest airports – London Heathrow, Paris-Charles de Gaulle and Frankfurt – were closed by the ash, which is a threat to jet engines and pilot visibility.

Eurocontrol, the European air traffic control group, said only 11,000 of the daily 28,000 flights in the affected zone would take off Friday. It said at least half of the 600 daily flights between Europe and North America would be cancelled.

About 6,000 flights to and within Europe were canceled Thursday.

Poland, Britain, Austria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Belgium and the Netherlands shut down all or most of their airspace.

Finland, France, Germany, Russia and Spain experienced major disruption, although Sweden began gradually reopening airspace and Norway temporarily opened up some of its.

“Forecasts suggest that the cloud of volcanic ash is continuing to move east and southeast and that the impact will continue for at least the next 24 hours,” Eurocontrol said in a statement.

Most aviation authorities promised a review on Friday, but the Dutch transport inspectorate set the uncertain tone: no flights “until further notice”.

The cloud now extends from the Atlantic to the Russian capital and from the Arctic Circle to Austria. Thousands of people were stranded in airports around the world as a global flight backlog built up. Source

The prevailing winds, however, allowed Icelandic airports to remain open.

This impressive picture was taken with a special camera on board the Icelandic coastguard’s TF-SIF research plane. The picture shows three craters in the Eyjafjallajokull volcano. The craters are each 200 to 300 metres wide.  IceNews

This is from the Volcano that erupted in March 20 2010. There are three people walking at the bottom of the picture. This give us an idea of just how huge the volcano is.

The eruption on Fimmvörduháls, which has now come to an end. Photo by Páll Stefánsson.

Both eruptions are extremely close to each other.

More information at Iceland Review

For more information Volcanic eruption, flooding etc. try this Link it is a google translated version to english.

If that doesn’t work try this  One it is the original and use your own translator. The videos below are under the world “Upptökur” Just in case the translated version  below for the videos  does not wok for you.

Some Videos

The videos below  come up in Windows media player. If you do not have High speed let it run through once, then hit the play again and they usually come up second time around a bit slow but better. If it happens that they don’t come up in English just click on “Horfa” = Watch

Myndir af gjóskufalli Pictures of ash falls
Loftmyndir af gosinu í Eyjafjallajökli Photographs of the eruption in Eyjafjallajökull
Magnús Tumi ræðir eldgosið í Eyjafjallajökli Magnús Tumi question eruption of Eyjafjallajökull
Nýtt myndband af öskufalli New video of ash fall
Nýjar myndir af flóðinu New pictures of the flood

Myndir af eldgosinu og flóðinu Photos of the eruption and flood

Update April 10 2010

Videos: Driving Into the Ash Cloud in South Iceland

Watch these videos shot from a car driving into the volcanic ash cloud in south Iceland from Drangshlíd by Skógafoss waterfall towards Skógar. There were 18 kilometers of absolute darkness but on both sides of the ash cloud the sun was shining brightly.

2 Videos below  Shot by by Páll Stefánsson at 1:30 pm on April 17. Copyright: icelandreview.com

Iceland volcano coming to an end?

From IceNews April 17 2010

A University of Iceland geophysicist says there are now clear signs that the Eyjafjallajokull volcano, which began erupting on Wednesday, is slowing down. Attention is now turning to the more violent Katla volcano which many fear will erupt next. However, there are no indications that Katla is reawakening at the moment.

AFP reports Sigrun Hreinsdottir, a geophysicist with the University of Iceland, as saying that the lava flow has slowed and that the whole eruption could now slow dramatically as a result.

Hreinsdottir says it appears the lava is flowing from a lava chamber one kilometre deep. She likens the lava chamber to a bursting balloon, adding that nobody knows how much lava is inside in order to accurately predict when the eruption will stop fully.

The pressurised lava always tries to find the easiest way out, she says. That was at Fimmvorduhals in March and is now at the top of Eyjafjallajokull. The build-up of pressure when this eruption finishes will lead eventually to another volcano erupting. History teaches that Katla may well be next, but whether that will be tomorrow, in one year, or never, is impossible to say today. Katla last erupted in 1918.

Click here to see a series of eruption photos, including night time shots where lightning can clearly be seen in the ash cloud. Source

140 mn cubic metres ash spewed from Iceland volcano
April 19 2010

The Iceland’s volcano has spewed about 140 million cubic metres of ash over the past three days, Icelandic scientists have said.

The Institute of Earth Sciences of the University of Iceland estimated that about 100 million cubic meters of ash rose into the air from Eyjafjallajokull volcano and was blown across northern Europe, cancelling thousands of flights. Source

Many flights are still canceled. Some until Tuesday..

Iceland’s farmers try to save herds from toxic ash

April 18 2010

AP Photo – Wearing a mask and glasses against the smoke, dairy farmer Berglind Hilmarsdottir from Nupur, Iceland, looks for cattle lost in ash clouds, Saturday, April 17, 2010. The volcano in southern Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull glacier continued to send ash into the air Sunday.

Berglind Hilmarsdottir, a dairy farmer, teamed up with neighbors Saturday to round up her cattle, some 120 in all, and get them to shelter. In the panic, some of the animals got lost in the fog of ash, and the farmers had to drive around searching for them.

“The risk is of fluoride poisoning if they breathe or eat too much,” Hilmarsdottir said through a white protective mask.

The fluoride in the ash creates acid in the animals’ stomachs, corroding the intestines and causing hemorrhages. It also binds with calcium in the blood stream, and after heavy exposure over a period of days makes bones frail, even causing teeth to crumble.

AP Photo – Farmers team up to rescue cattle from exposure to the toxic volcanic ash at a farm in Nupur, Iceland, as the volcano in southern Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull glacier sends ash into the air Saturday, April 17, 2010.

“The best we can do is put them in the barn, block all the windows and bring them clean food and water as long as the earth is contaminated,” said Hilmarsdottir. For entire story go HERE

Airlines challenge restrictions as 6.8 million passengers affected April 19 2010

The enormous shroud of fine mineral dust particles now stretches from the Arctic Circle in the north to the French Mediterranean coast in the south, and from Spain into Russia.

The cloud is now heading toward Greece and into Russia, weather experts said. For entire story go HERE

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British newspaper investigates Icelanders

By Alex Elliot
December 15, 2008

The British newspaper the Sunday Times published a long article yesterday in which British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is severely criticised for using anti-terrorist laws against Iceland.

Journalist Adrian Gill visited Iceland to acquaint himself with the country’s situation and gained a new appreciation for the land and its people during his stay. In his article, he variously describes Iceland as, “The most liberal, reasonable, hard-working, decent, moral, amusing and well-educated people on the Continent,” Visir.is reports.

The country is large, but its people few – only 300,000 people. And it is this nation Gordon Brown chose to kick: “He put an ally into intensive care for the sake of a headline and three points in a weekend poll,” the article reads.

Gill says in his article that Brown would never have treated other nations the way he treated Iceland, “He would never have started it if the banks had been German or French, or even from Liechtenstein”.

Adrian Gill used his time in Iceland well and spoke with a great many people.

He makes a point of pointing out how little it can take to improve the mood of the nation, drawing on the example of when people gathered on the grass earlier this year to celebrate Iceland’s silver medal in Olympic men’s handball – one of the nation’s greatest sporting achievements to date.

He also proves he can put things into perspective, like when he jovially says the Icelandic parliament building is smaller than Elton John’s guesthouse.

The online version of the article is followed by a succession of reader comments complimenting Gill on his excellent writing and thanking him for his brutally honest, yet fair portrayal of today’s Iceland.

Source

I have to wonder what Gordon Brown has in his play book to address a real criminal.

Namely:

Bernard Madoff who ripped off  billions from folks. Pension plans included from the UK

Iceland: frozen assets
Six months ago, Iceland was one of the world’s richest nations. Now it’s bankrupt. Adrian Gill visits the first victim of the economic ice age.
December 14, 2008


Published in: on December 16, 2008 at 5:56 pm  Comments Off on British newspaper investigates Icelanders  
Tags: , , , ,

141 states support Depleted Uranium Ban

Campaign Against Depleted Uranium

Sign Petition to Ban DU

What is DU?

  • Depleted Uranium is a waste product of the nuclear enrichment process.
  • After natural uranium has been ‘enriched’ to concentrate the isotope U235 for use in nuclear fuel or nuclear weapons, what remains is DU.
  • The process produces about 7 times more DU than enriched uranium.

Despite claims that DU is much less radioactive than natural uranium, it actually emits about 75% as much radioactivity. It is very dense and when it strikes armour it burns (it is ‘pyrophoric’). As a waste product, it is stockpiled by nuclear states, which then have an interest in finding uses for it.

DU is used as the ‘penetrator’ – a long dart at the core of the weapon – in armour piercing tank rounds and bullets. It is usually alloyed with another metal. When DU munitions strike a hard target the penetrator sheds around 20% of its mass, creating a fine dust of DU, burning at extremely high temperatures.

This dust can spread 400 metres from the site immediately after an impact. It can be resuspended by human activity, or by the wind, and has been reported to have travelled twenty-five miles on air currents. The heat of the DU impact and secondary fires means that much of the dust produced is ceramic, and can remain in the lungs for years if inhaled.

Who uses it?
At least 18 countries are known to have DU in their arsenals:

  • UK
  • US
  • France
  • Russia
  • China
  • Greece
  • Turkey
  • Thailand
  • Taiwan
  • Israel
  • Bahrain
  • Egypt
  • Kuwait
  • Saudi Arabia
  • India
  • Belarus
  • Pakistan
  • Oman

Most of these countries were sold DU by the US, although the UK, France and Pakistan developed it independently.

Only the US and the UK are known to have fired it in warfare. It was used in the 1991 Gulf War, in the 2003 Iraq War, and also in Bosnia-Herzegovina in the 1990s and during the NATO war with Serbia in 1999. While its use has been claimed in a number of other conflicts, this has not been confirmed.

Health Problems

  • DU is both chemically toxic and radioactive. In laboratory tests it damages human cells, causing DNA mutations and other carcinogenic effects.
  • Reports of increased rates of cancer and birth defects have consistently followed DU usage.
  • Representatives from both the Serbian and Iraqi governments have linked its use with health problems amongst civilians.
  • Many veterans remain convinced DU is responsible for health problems they have experienced since combat

Information from animal studies suggests DU may cause several different kinds of cancer. In rats, DU in the blood-stream builds up in the kidneys, bone, muscles, liver, spleen, and brain. In other studies it has been shown to cross both the blood-brain barrier and the placenta, with obvious implications for the health of the foetus. In general, the effects of DU will be more severe for women and children than for healthy men.

In 2008 a study by the Institute of Medicine in the US listed medical conditions that were a high priority to study for possible links with DU exposure: cancers of the lung, testes and kidney; lung disease; nervous system disorders; and reproductive and developmental problems.


Epidemiology

What is missing from the picture is large-scale epidemiological studies on the effects of DU – where negative health effects match individuals with exposure to DU. None of the studies done on the effects on soldiers have been large enough to make meaningful conclusions. No large scale studies have been done on civilian populations.

In the case of Iraq, where the largest volume of DU has been fired, the UK and US governments are largely responsible for the conditions which have made studies of the type required impossible. Despite this, these same governments use the scientific uncertainties to maintain that it is safe, and that concerns about it are misplaced.

However, in cases where human health is in jeopardy, a precautionary approach should prevail. Scientific scepticism should prevent a hazardous course of action from being taken until safety is assured. To allow it to continue until the danger has been proved beyond dispute is an abuse of the principle of scientific caution.

Environmental Impacts
The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has studied some of the sites contaminated by DU in the Balkans, but it has only been able to produce a desk study on Iraq. Bullets and penetrators made of DU that do not hit armour become embedded in the ground and corrode away, releasing material into the environment.

It is not known what will happen to DU in the long term in such circumstances. The UNEP mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina found DU in drinking water, and could still detect it in the air after seven years – the longest period of time a study has been done after the end of a conflict.

Uranium has a half life of 4.5 billion years, so DU released into the environment will be a hazard for unimaginable timescales.

Decontaminating sites where DU has been used requires detailed scrutiny and monitoring, followed by the removal and reburial of large amounts of soil and other materials. Monitoring of groundwater for contamination is also advised by UNEP. CADU calls for the cost of cleaning up and decontaminating DU affected sites to be met by the countries responsible for the contamination.

The Campaign
CADU is a founder member of the International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons (ICBUW) – now comprising over 102 member organisations in 27 countries.

CADU and ICBUW campaign for a precautionary approach: there is significant evidence that DU is dangerous, and faced with scientific uncertainty the responsible course of action is for it not to be used. To this end CADU and ICBUW are working towards an international treaty that bans the use of uranium in weapons akin to those banning cluster bombs and landmines.

Through the efforts of campaigners worldwide the use of DU has been condemned by four resolutions in the European Parliament, been the subject of an outright ban in Belgium, and brought onto the agenda of the United Nations General Assembly.

Source

Sign Petition to Ban DU

International Campaign to Ban Uranium Weapons

141 states support second uranium weapons resolution in UN General Assembly vote

The United Nations General Assembly has passed, by a huge majority, a resolution requesting its agencies to update their positions on the health and environmental effects of uranium weapons.
December 2 2008

The resolution, which had passed the First Committee stage on October 31st by 127 states to four, calls on three UN agencies – the World Health Organisation (WHO), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to update their positions on uranium weapons. The overwhelming support for the text reflects increasing international concern over the long-term impact of uranium contamination in post-conflict environments and military ranges.

In the 17 years since uranium weapons were first used on a large scale in the 1991 Gulf War, a huge volume of peer-reviewed research has highlighted previously unknown pathways through which exposure to uranium’s heavy metal toxicity and radioactivity may damage human health.
Throughout the world, parliamentarians have responded by supporting calls for a moratorium and ban, urging governments and the military to take a precautionary approach. However the WHO and IAEA have been slow to react to this wealth of new evidence and it is hoped that this resolution will go some way to resolving this situation.

In a welcome move, the text requests that all three agencies work closely with countries affected by the use of uranium weapons in compiling their research. Until now, most research by UN member states has focused on exposure in veterans and not on the civilian populations living in contaminated areas. Furthermore, recent investigations into US veteran studies have found them to be wholly incapable of producing useful data.

The text also repeats the request for states to submit reports and opinions on uranium weapons to the UN Secretary General in the process that was started by last year’s resolution. Thus far, 19 states have submitted reports to the Secretary General; many of them call for action on uranium weapons and back a precautionary approach. It also places the issue on the agenda of the General Assembly’s 65th Session; this will begin in September 2010.

The First Committee vote saw significant voting changes in comparison to the previous year’s resolution, with key EU and NATO members such as the Netherlands, Finland, Norway and Iceland changing position to support calls for further action on the issue. These changes were echoed at the General Assembly vote. Once again Japan, which has been under considerable pressure from campaigners, supported the resolution.

Of the permanent five Security Council members, the US, UK and France voted against. They were joined by Israel. Russia abstained and China refused to vote.

The list of states abstaining from the vote, while shorter than in 2007, still contains Belgium, the only state to have implemented a domestic ban on uranium weapons, a fact that continues to anger Belgian campaigners. It is suspected that the Belgian government is wary of becoming isolated on the issue internationally. Two Nordic states, Denmark and Sweden continue to blow cold, elsewhere in Europe Poland, the Czech Republic, Portugal and Spain are also dragging their feet, in spite of a call for a moratorium and ban by 94% of MEPs earlier this year. Many of the abstainers are recent EU/NATO accession states or ex-Soviet republics such as Kazakhstan.

Australia and Canada, both of whom have extensive uranium mining interests and close ties to US foreign policy also abstained.

The resolution was submitted by Cuba and Indonesia on behalf of the League of Non-Aligned States.

Voting results in full

In favour:

Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Cyprus, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Finland, Germany, Ghana, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Liechtenstein, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nauru, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Rwanda, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Sao Tome and Principe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Switzerland, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Against:

France, Israel, United Kingdom, United States.

Abstain:

Albania, Andorra, Australia, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Micronesia (Federated States of), Palau, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey, Ukraine.

Absent: Central African Republic, Chad, China, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Fiji, Gabon, Gambia, Kiribati, Monaco, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia.

Source

Honor Vets by Learning About Depleted Uranium

November 11, 2008

by Barbara Bellows

As Europe mourns in Verdun today for those lost in “The War to End All Wars”, World War I, we could look to another moment in European history to shed light on the most aggressively silenced story of the Bush administration.

In late 2000 and January 2001, reports were exploding across Europe about the rise in cancer amongst NATO soldiers who had served in the “peacekeeping missions” in Bosnia and Kosovo. The effects of the depleted uranium in the U.S. and U.K. weapons could not be ignored.

But history shows that the United Nations and the World Health Organization could be intimidated. The report from the WHO – that detailed how the DU vaporized upon impact into tiny particles that were breathed in, or consumed through the mouth or entered through open wounds, where the irradiating bits attacked cells all the way through the body, causing mutations along the way – was shelved under pressure from the U.S.

Even now, the major U.S. news organizations do not touch the subject, though the international press cannot ignore it. Even last month, a Middle Eastern Reuters reporter discussed the health damages because of the contaminated environment with Iraqi En Iraqi Environment Minister Nermeen Othman,

“When we talk about it, people may think we are overreacting. But in fact the environmental catastrophe that we inherited in Iraq is even worse than it sounds.”

And The Tehran Times further endangers their country by continuing to report on the problem, calling it a war crime.

And across the internet, retired Air Force Lt. Col. Roger Helbig seeks to intimidate anyone who dares to bring up the subject.

But we evolve, and the United Nations First Committee has overwhelmingly passed a resolution, on October 31st, calling for “relevant UN agencies, in this case the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA), World Health Organisation (WHO) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to update and complete their research into the possible health and environmental impact of the use of uranium weapons by 2010.” The only countries that voted against it were the United States, the United Kingdom, Israel and France.

Meanwhile, to help the reader get to the point, I’ve put together the following.  Although the facts, for the most part, do not contain links, there is a list of the references at the end.

Ten Essential Facts:

1. Depleted uranium, the nuclear waste of uranium enrichment, is not actually “depleted” of radiation; 99.3% of it is Uranium238, which still emits radioactive alpha particles at the rate 12,400/second, with an estimated half life of 4.5 billion years.

2. Depleted uranium is plentiful – there are 7 pounds remaining for every pound of enriched uranium – and requires expensive and often politically-contentious hazardous waste storage.

3. Depleted uranium is less of a problem for the nuclear industry when it is cheaply passed on to U.S. weapons manufacturers for warheads, penetrators, bunker-busters, missiles, armor and other ammunition used by the U.S. military in the Middle East and elsewhere, and sold to other countries and political factions.

4. Depleted uranium is “pyrophoric”, which makes it uniquely effective at piercing hard targets, because upon impact, it immediately burns, vaporizing the majority of its bulk and leaving a hard, thin, sharpened tip – and large amounts of radioactive particles suspended in the atmosphere.

5. Depleted uranium weaponry was first used in the U.S. bombing of Iraq in 1991, under President George H. W. Bush and Defense Secretary Dick Cheney.

6. Depleted uranium weaponry was later used by President Bill Clinton in the NATO “peace-keeping” bombing missions in Bosnia, Kosovo and Serbia. By January 2001, as the 2nd President Bush and Dick Cheney were moving in to the White House, there was a furor in Europe over the news of an alarming increase in leukemia and other cancers amongst the NATO troops who’d served in the Balkans.

7. The World Health Organization suppressed a November 2001 report on the health hazards of depleted uranium by Dr. Keith Baverstock, Head of the WHO’s Radiation Protection Division and his team, commissioned by the United Nations. Baverstock’s report, “Radiological Toxicity of Depleted Uranium”, detailed the significant danger of airborne vaporized depleted uranium particles, already considerably more prevalent in Iraq than the Balkans due to the difference in military tactics, because they are taken into the body by inhaling and ingesting, and then their size and solubility determines how quickly they move through the respiratory, circulatory and gastrointestinal systems, attacking and poisoning from within as they travel, and where the damages occur. In addition, the report warns that the particles tend to settle in the soft tissue of the testes, and may cause mutations in sperm. In 2004 Dr. Baverstock, no longer at the WHO, released the report through Rob Edwards at Scotland’s Sunday Herald.

8. The George W. Bush/Dick Cheney administration twisted the meaning of the failure of the World Health Organization to produce evidence of depleted uranium’s health hazards, turning it into evidence that there was no link between exposure to depleted uranium and the increases in cancer in Europe and Iraq; instead, as presented in the January 20, 2003 report by the new Office of Global Communications, ironically titled Apparatus of Lies: Saddam’s Disinformation and Propaganda 1990 – 2003, the depleted uranium uproar was only an exploitation of fear and suffering. Two months later, Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz-Rice began to “Shock and Awe” Baghdad by again dropping tons of depleted uranium bombs on densely populated areas.

9. On March 27, 2003, significant increases in depleted uranium particles in the atmosphere were detected by the air sampler filter systems of the Atomic Weapons Establishment at 8 different sites near Aldermaston Berkshire, Great Britain, and continued at 4-5 times the previous norm until the end of April 2003, after the Coalition forces declared the war over. This information only came to light in a report on January 6, 2006 by Dr. Chris Busby, due to his diligent fight for access to the data through Britain’s Freedom of Information law.

10. We have a new, intelligent President, who is willing to listen.  It is up to us to bring this to his attention.  THIS IS HOW WE CAN HONOR VETERANS.

VALUABLE REFERENCES:

Department of Defense description of self-sharpening depleted uranium: click here

Dr. Keith Baverstock’s November 2001 report, suppressed by the World Health Organization:
Rob Edwards article on Baverstock:

Karen Parker, a Human Rights and Humanitarian Law Lawyer:  Scroll down on the page and you’ll find her documents on DU.

January 2003 White House Report – Apparatus of Lies:

January 2006 Chris Busby report: click here

Source

Depleated Uranium Information

Or Google it there is tons of information out there.

Be sure to encourage those who are still not supporting the ban,  that it  is something that needs to be banned.

This is an extremely dangerous form of Pollution.

We, the people, need to let governments and the United Nations know that these weapons can have no part in a humane and caring world. Every signature counts!

  1. An immediate end to the use of uranium weapons.
  2. Disclosure of all locations where uranium weapons have been used and immediate removal of the remnants and contaminated materials from the sites under strict control.
  3. Health surveys of the ‘depleted’ uranium victims and environmental investigations at the affected sites.
  4. Medical treatment and compensation for the ‘depleted’ uranium victims.
  5. An end to the development, production, stockpiling, testing, trade of uranium weapons.
  6. A Convention for a Total Ban on Uranium Weapons.

The life you save may be your own.

Sign Petition to Ban DU

Published in: on December 4, 2008 at 1:10 pm  Comments Off on 141 states support Depleted Uranium Ban  
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Salary Board rejects Iceland MPs’ pay cut request

December 2 2008

By Alex Elliot

The Senior Civil Servants Salary Board of Iceland (Kjararad) has rejected the government’s request for a reduction in the salaries of public officials in Iceland of 5-15 percent. The request was made due to the country’s economic crisis.

The idea was embraced early-on by the president, Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, but the Board already ruled last week that cutting the president’s pay would be illegal.

The Board’s decision states that with unchanged legal conditions it would not be possible to carry out the request for other elected officials without also breaking the law. This information came from a press conference held on the subject this morning by Prime Minister Geir H. Haarde and Foreign Minister Ingibjorg Solrun Gisladottir, Visir.is reports.

Haarde said on the issue that the government has decided the pay cut is going to happen, and that will not be changed by the Salary Board’s decision. “We’ll just have to find another way,” he said.

Source

Iceland Crisis Sends Viking Descendants Back to Norway for Jobs

Icelandic politicians to get paid less


Published in: on December 3, 2008 at 9:04 am  Comments Off on Salary Board rejects Iceland MPs’ pay cut request  
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Iceland Crisis Sends Viking Descendants Back to Norway for Jobs

By Meera Bhatia and Helga Kristin Einarsdottir

December 2 2008

Almost 1,200 years after Viking chief Ingolfur Arnarson left Norway to found Reykjavik, the crisis engulfing Iceland is forcing his descendants home.

“There are no jobs here,” said Baldvin Kristjansson, an 18-year-old former container repairman from western Iceland, at a European job fair in Reykjavik. “I’m going to move away and go to Norway.”

The Atlantic island of 320,000, suffering from its worst financial crisis since gaining independence in 1944, faces the biggest exodus in a century. Iceland’s $7.5-billion economy may shrink about 10 percent next year, according to the International Monetary Fund, which is helping provide a $4.6 billion bailout package.

About half of Icelanders aged between 18 and 24 are considering leaving the country, Reykjavik-based newspaper Morgunbladid said, citing a survey of 1,117 people between Oct. 27 and Oct. 29.

“Tens of thousands” will depart, estimated Jesper Christensen, chief analyst at Danske Bank A/S, the biggest lender in neighboring Denmark.

Iceland’s biggest wave of emigration was in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Then, 15,000 out of a total population of 70,000 left, joining a flow to North America from countries including Norway, Sweden and Ireland.

Foreign Debt

A hundred years later, Iceland’s economy is struggling after the nation’s banking system collapsed under the weight of its foreign debt last month.

Inflation surged to an 18-year high of 17.1 percent in November following a currency collapse that drove up prices. A protest against the government turned violent last week as police used pepper spray to battle activists in front of Reykjavik’s main police station.

Unemployment is forecast to rise to 7 percent by the end of January from a three-year high of 1.9 percent in October, the country’s Labor Directorate estimates.

“A lot of people are registering unemployed,” said Valdimar Olafsson at European Employment Services in Reykjavik. “It’s very hectic and Icelanders are asking for jobs, especially in Norway.”

Norse settlers arrived in Iceland around 874 on sail- powered wooden longships. The country came under Norwegian control in 1262 and then under Danish dominion in 1380. It gained autonomy 90 years ago yesterday and became fully independent from Denmark in 1944.

‘State of Coma’

The Danes and Norwegians, along with Germans and Poles, returned to pluck Icelandic talent at a job fair on Nov. 21 and 22. It drew 2,500 people.

Neither country has been fully spared from the effects of the global crunch. Denmark’s economy will shrink 0.5 percent next year, according to the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation. Norwegian economic growth more than halved to 0.2 percent in the third quarter.

Both remain in much better shape than Iceland, though, and Norwegian and Danish companies are seeking skilled workers.

“Iceland is more or less in a state of coma,” said Sigrun Thormar, who runs a consulting business for Icelanders moving eastward. “There’ll be an increase in the number of Icelanders seeking work in Denmark.”

Danish unemployment is 1.6 percent. In Norway, the jobless rate rose to 1.8 percent last month from 1.7 percent the previous month. Norway’s Labor and Welfare Administration, or NAV, expects unemployment to stay below 3 percent over the next two years.

Swamped

Kristiansand-based Teknova, a research institution looking for scientists, and Billingstad-based Aibel AS, a provider of products and services to the oil and gas industry, are among Norwegian companies seeking Icelandic workers.

In total, NAV has 350 vacancies posted, according to Ragnhild Synstad, an adviser at NAV EURES who attended the job fair.

“I have been absolutely swamped with employers that are interested,” said Synstad. “The response was overwhelming. We heard some very sad stories about families who have lost everything.”

Stefan Gudjonsson, 37, who was let go from his job as an account manager at an information technology company, said he may have to leave his 6-year-old son behind for work elsewhere.

“I don’t like the look of things right now and also worry about what has yet to happen,” he said. “People are trying their best to be optimistic, but the prospects look anything but good.”

Source

Protest in “Iceland” ends in Violence

Published in: on December 3, 2008 at 8:54 am  Comments Off on Iceland Crisis Sends Viking Descendants Back to Norway for Jobs  
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Iceland’s Glitnir seeks protection from U.S. creditors

November 26 2008

NEW YORK
Icelandic bank Glitnir banki hf sought bankruptcy protection on Wednesday from creditors in the United States.

The Reykjavik-based bank filed a Chapter 15 bankruptcy protection in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York. The bank was taken over by Iceland’s Financial Supervisory Authority last month as the global financial crisis took its toll on the country.

The International Monetary Fund approved a $2.1 billion loan for Iceland on November 19.

According to court documents, Glitnir’s court-appointed overseer wants to have the company’s court proceedings in Iceland recognized in the United States.

The company said in the filing that it had more than $1 billion in assets, and liabilities of more than $1 billion.

Iceland’s three biggest banks, Kaupthing , Landsbanki and Glitnir, collapsed in October under the weight of billions of dollars of debt accumulated in an aggressive overseas expansion. The government moved to takeover the banks, but the financial collapse shattered the country’s currency and forced Iceland to seek aid from the IMF.

(Reporting by Emily Chasan and Jonathan Stempel)

Source

Iceland to Pay ISK 245 Billion for Icesave?

November 27 2008

The net expenses that the Icelandic state has to cover because of deposits of Icelandic banks in foreign countries will amount to approximately ISK 245 billion (USD 1.8 billion, EUR 1.4 billion) according to a preliminary estimate by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

While Prime Minister Geir H. Haarde and former majority owner of Landsbanki Björgólfur Gudmundsson have stated that the assets of the banks are likely to cover the deposits, the IMF does not appear to share their estimates. The IMF calculates that the assets of the Icelandic banks abroad will only cover about half of claims made by foreign states because of insured deposits, Fréttabladid reports.

According to IMF’s estimates, the gross expenses of the Icelandic state because of the deposits will amount to 47 percent of this year’s gross domestic produce (GDP). Assuming that the bank’s assets suffice for roughly half, around 19 percent will be the responsibility of Icelandic tax payers.

Iceland’s GDP in 2007 was more than ISK 1,293 billion (USD 9.2 billion, EUR 7.1 billion) according to numbers from Statistics Iceland.

Although it is unclear what this year’s GDP will be, the IMF expects Icelandic tax payers to be responsible for paying ISK 245 billion for foreign deposits, most of which are deposits in Landsbanki’s Icesave. However, Glitnir and Kaupthing banks also had deposits abroad.

That means that every Icelandic resident will be indebted by ISK 800,000 (USD 5,700, EUR 4,400) because of these deposits alone. To put these amounts in perspective, Fréttabladid states that ISK 245 billion would suffice to cover the operations of Iceland’s entire healthcare system for two years.

The newspaper was unable to receive comments from the resolution committees of the banks and Minister of Commerce and Banking Björgvin G. Sigurdsson.

Source

Published in: on November 28, 2008 at 6:40 am  Comments Off on Iceland’s Glitnir seeks protection from U.S. creditors  
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Lessons learned in Icelandic crisis

November 24, 2008,

A city council finance chief has admitted people have questioned their own roles in the Icelandic bank saga which has seen £42m of council cash frozen overseas.

John Beevers, head of financial projects at Nottingham City Council, said lessons are being learned about credit ratings after the authority ploughed vast sums of money into Landsbanki, Glitnir and Heritable just months before they ran into trouble.

Mr Beevers told the council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee: “It [the Icelandic banks crisis] has provided more focus around the impact of credit ratings and what they show and whether they have been sufficient.

“There is a number of people that, as things come out, are looking at whether their role in it has been appropriate.

“I think we are taking on board the lessons we are learning.”

He also said there had been changes in some of the banks’ credit ratings around the time the investments were made.

“There had been some negative rating outlook changes on some of the banks,” he told the meeting. “That has not developed through to a complete meltdown of the bank itself.”

He later added: “Our actions are reinforced by over 100 other institutions. If the message were so loud and clear we would have been a number of two or three.”

The meeting heard the council was continuing to use the same credit rating agency, Butlers.

Deputy chief executive Carole Mills-Evans said an update on recovering the money was expected in the next “couple of weeks”.

She claimed that it would have been “almost impossible” for the council to get its money back before the end of its agreement with the banks.

“There is some talk that some councils have exit clauses. We have yet to find one council that that applies to.”

Source


UK anti terror laws right move against Icelandic banks?

“Not all conversations concerning this matter have been made public . . . When the matter is investigated, other conversations will have to be made public. I am aware of what they are about and I am aware of what in fact determined the position of the UK authorities,” the Financial Times quotes Icelandic central bank chairman David Oddsson as saying.

The implication, the article continues, is that the UK was right to use anti terror laws to freeze Icelandic assets at the beginning of the banking crisis in October. Furthermore, the FT states that any such revelations could damage any potential lawsuit filed against the British government by Reykjavik. The Icelandic government has hired Lovells, a UK law firm to investigate whether London acted illegally and significantly and unnecessarily worsened the economic crisis already unfolding.

Oddsson’s comments were made during a speech to the Iceland Chamber of Commerce late last week. As a former long-standing Prime Minister, current head of the central bank and prominent Independence Party figure, Oddsson is seen as a close ally of PM Geir Haarde, who once served as his minister of finance.

Oddsson and Haarde, among others, are credited with liberalising the Icelandic financial sector and also blamed by many for allowing the current crisis to unfold. As many as 90 percent of people now want Oddsson replaced, and a Frettabladid poll this weekend revealed that 70 percent of respondents no longer support the current government.

David Oddsson protests his innocence however; stating in his speech that he had been warning the government on the state of the banks for 18 months and was repeatedly ignored.

He also described the inquiry recently announced by the government as “a whitewash”.

“The investigation . . . is in all respects unsuitable and insufficient. It is almost laughable to see the posturing in the entire organised propaganda campaign which has been carried out by those who bear the prime responsibility,” he said.

Source

Related

Who Could Have Predicted Revolution in Iceland?

Iceland’s Economic Meltdown is a big Flashing Warning Sign


Iceland isn’t the only one needing help: Point of Interest.

The United States has asked four oil-rich Gulf states for close to 300 billion dollars to help it curb the global financial meltdown, Kuwait’s daily Al-Seyassah reported Thursday.

Quoting “highly informed” sources, the daily said Washington has asked Saudi Arabia for 120 billion dollars, the United Arab Emirates for 70 billion dollars, Qatar for 60 billion dollars and was seeking 40 billion dollars from Kuwait…….

Seems Because of Capitalism we have a planet full of beggars.

The lesson to be learned from all of this is “Capitalism” SUCKS.

Simple and to the point.

A Lesson the Entire would should have learned by now.

Published in: on November 25, 2008 at 3:13 am  Comments Off on Lessons learned in Icelandic crisis  
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Protest in “Iceland” ends in Violence

November 22 2008

By Alex Elliot

The now regular Saturday protests in front of the Icelandic parliament in Reykjavik went ahead today as planned, but a follow-up demonstration outside the police headquarters ended in violence.

During the busy parliament protests, the famous statue of Jonas Sigurdsson was dressed in women’s clothing to remind people of the role of the female half of the population and how they should take a leading role in rebuilding the Icelandic economy.

After the rally, some 200 to 300 people took part in a different protest at the main police station to demand the release of Haukur Himarsson, who had been arrested last night when police found out he was the person to fly the Bonus supermarket flag from the top of parliament two weeks ago.

After officers in full riot gear used pepper spray to try to disperse the crowds, police eventually released Hilmarsson and the crowd dissipated. It is still not known whether or not the police charged Hilmarsson before his release, however.

Hilmarsson was arrested last night after an educational research trip to the Althingi parliament house. He has a suspended 14 days remaining of an 18-day prison sentence he received in 2005 for protests with the Saving Iceland environmental pressure group.

Source

Iceland’s Economic Meltdown is a big Flashing Warning Sign

Published in: on November 23, 2008 at 7:15 am  Comments Off on Protest in “Iceland” ends in Violence  
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Germany to provide a 308-million euro loan to Iceland

November 22 2008

BERLIN,

Germany said on Saturday it would provide a 308-million euro loan to Iceland’s deposit guarantee fund so it could pay back savings of German clients of Kaupthing bank, which was taken over by the Icelandic state last month.

The International Monetary Fund this week approved a $2.1 billion loan for Iceland. The loan had been held up due to a dispute between Iceland, Britain and the Netherlands over how to repay savers with deposits in frozen Icelandic accounts.

German savers also had money locked up.

German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck told Tagesspiegel daily the German savers would get their money back in full.

The German loan would total 308 million euros, the amount savers in Germany had held at Kaupthing

Iceland was caught in the global financial crisis as its currency plunged and its financial system crashed last month under the weight of tens of billions of dollars of foreign debts incurred by its banks, three of which failed.

Britain, the Netherlands and Germany issued a statement last week saying they would provide “pre-financing” to help Iceland meet foreign deposit obligations. The IMF, in a conference call on Thursday, estimated those obligations at $5-6 billion.

A British finance ministry source said Britain would lend Iceland 2.2 billion pounds ($3.27 billion). The Netherlands said it was working on aid to help cover 1.2 billion ($2.63 billion) to 1.3 billion euros of Dutch deposits held in Icelandic accounts.

Kaupthing said last week it hoped to pay back customers of German operations in the next few days or weeks.

Germany’s financial watchdog BaFin has implemented a temporary moratorium for the German unit of Kaupthing and the bank said it had been working on an agreement with the German government in recent weeks.

(Reporting by Andreas Moeser; Writing by Kerstin Gehmlich)

Source

BREAKING NEWS: Iceland IMF loan approved

Iceland’s Economic Meltdown is a big Flashing Warning Sign

Published in: on November 23, 2008 at 6:47 am  Comments Off on Germany to provide a 308-million euro loan to Iceland  
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Iceland’s Economic Meltdown is a big Flashing Warning Sign

A lesson in who not to listen too and what doesn’t work.

Iceland followed the prescriptions of a right-wing ideologue, and its economy paid a severe price.

November 17, 2008

by Toby Sanger for Alternet

Iceland — better known for its geothermal hot springs, abundant fish, all-night raves and eclectic musicians such as Björk and Sigur Rós — has now become renowned for something else: It is the first catastrophic, and perhaps most unlikely, casualty of the 2008 economic and financial meltdown.

Corporate taxes were cut from 50 percent down to 18 percent. Privatization and deregulation were driven directly through the prime minister’s office, and the major banks were privatized.

Iceland is now essentially bankrupt after the government took over its three major banks to prevent them from failing. It owes more than $60 billion overseas, about six times the value of its annual economic output. As a professor at London School of Economics said, “No Western country in peacetime has crashed so quickly and so badly.”

What on earth happened to get Iceland and its banking sector into such a state?

It turns out that Iceland, despite its coalition governments and Nordic social values, became a poster child for neoconservative economic policies inspired by Milton Friedman during the past decade. Friedman himself visited Iceland in 1984 and participated in what was described as a “lively television debate” with leading Socialists. This inspired a generation of young conservatives who came to power through the Independence Party in 1991 and have run its government through different coalitions since then.

Friedman may be dead now, but the economic and financial collapse of 2008 is becoming a real-life battleground of his theories against those of the other giant of 20th century economics, John Maynard Keynes, and their respective followers. Will financial market bailouts put the economy back on track, or are more extensive reform and a more active role for the government needed?

Keynes’ analysis was complicated and nuanced. The work for which he’s best known, The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money, provided a theoretical basis for the economic reforms of the New Deal era — investments in public works and deficit spending that helped countries recover from the Great Depression.

While Keynes did not dismiss the role of monetary policy in countering an economic downturn, some of his followers, notably recent 2008 Nobel economics prize winner Paul Krugman, in relation to Japan, have focused on the possibility of a “liquidity trap” that makes traditional monetary policies, such as cutting interest rates, ineffective.

Keynes’ theories, though often misapplied, provided the basis for most macroeconomic policies in the capitalist world from the 1930s until the 1970s when the oil-price shock and stagflation hit.

Friedman, in his Monetary History of the United States, argued that the Great Depression was primarily caused by negligence by monetary authorities, such as the US Federal Reserve, who didn’t do enough to respond to an ordinary financial shock by expanding the money supply.

Friedman and his Chicago school of economics then very successfully spearheaded a reaction against Keynesianism, largely defining economic policy since the 1980s. The main policy prescriptions — restricting the role of government, deregulation, privatization, cutting taxes, low inflation and the benefits of free markets — were encapsulated in the “Washington consensus” and imposed with missionary zeal by IMF economists around the world.

While Friedman’s narrow form of money supply monetarism was quickly abandoned in the early 1980s, most governments have relied primarily on monetary instead of fiscal policy for stabilization of their economies over the past few decades. This turned Alan Greenspan, former head of the US Federal Reserve and an advocate of Friedman’s policies, into the most important economic policy maker in the world.

Although Greenspan was never elected, had no particular expertise in economics and was a disciple of the fringe ideology of libertarian Ayn Rand, he was able to use his considerable power to endorse tax cuts and deregulation. He is now widely considered to share the blame for creating the conditions that resulted in the current economic collapse.

Greenspan’s successor as chair of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, is also a follower of Friedman, but he is an accomplished economist. Coincidentally enough, one of his areas of expertise was in the economics of the Great Depression; he once boldly stated that the Federal Reserve was responsible for causing the Great Depression and making banking panics during it “much more severe and widespread.”

Bernanke is now one of the people in charge of what is probably the most expensive experiment in human history: trying to avert another Depression, using economic policies inspired by Friedman. The cost of this to the US Treasury so far has already reached well over $1 trillion and continues to rise.

So how did the much smaller but perhaps more ambitious experiment with Friedmanite economic policies fare in tiny Iceland, one of the most physically isolated countries in the world with a population of only 320,000?

Under the leadership of Prime Minister David Oddsson and explicitly inspired by Friedman, Iceland’s neoconservative young Turks implemented a radical (but now familiar) program of privatization, tax cuts, reductions in spending and deficits, inflation targeting, central bank independence, free trade and exchange rate flexibility. Corporate taxes were cut from 50 percent down to 18 percent. Privatization and deregulation were driven directly through the prime minister’s office, and the major banks were privatized.

Economic missions and reports on Iceland issued by the influential International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) largely praised and encouraged these reforms, often disregarding the rising risks for its financial sector until recently.

It wasn’t as if everyone was unaware of the growing dangers of these policies. In 2001, Joseph Stiglitz, recipient of the Nobel prize in economics and one of the leading lights of the “New Keynesian” school of economics, wrote a remarkably prescient paper for the Central Bank of Iceland. In the paper, he raised alarm about a vulnerable, small, open economy such as Iceland suffering from a severe financial and economic crisis from such policies. In the absence of reforms in the “global financial architecture”, Stiglitz outlined a set of regulatory and tax measures that Iceland should implement “both to reduce the likelihood of a crisis and to help manage the economy through a crisis.”

Stiglitz’s paper has invaluable advice that should have been considered by any nation — and especially Iceland — but it appears these recommendations were ignored. The right-wing reformers certainly didn’t change their course. Why would they? Life was good and getting better in the small island state, with showrooms full of fancy cars and booming real estate, business and financial industries.

At first, the policies appeared to be very successful. The economy grew at a strong pace, rising until Iceland achieved one of the highest per capita GDPs in the world. In 2007 it also topped the score for the United Nation’s Human Development Index.

Iceland rocketed to the top 10 in the indexes of economic freedom designed by the Fraser Institute and the Heritage Foundation. It was lauded by the conservative Cato Institute for its flat taxes, privatization and economic freedoms. The institute also criticized Naomi Klein for not mentioning Iceland (along with Ireland, Estonia and Australia) as an example of success in her book about the rise of disaster capitalism, The Shock Doctrine.

Icelandic banks and businesses, with the support of their government, expanded aggressively overseas, particularly into the UK and the Netherlands. The banking industry and private businesses flourished and created a number of new billionaires on the island.

Then it all came crashing down.

Inflation and short-term interest rates escalated to 14 percent, and Iceland’s currency lost half its value. Now Iceland has an external debt equivalent to about $200,000 per person with virtually no prospect of repaying it.

Iceland’s economic collapse wasn’t caused by the subprime crisis or by the Wall Street shenanigans in the biggest economic powerhouse in the world. Instead, it was caused by the same Friedman-inspired economic policies being independently applied in one of the smallest countries in the world.

Back in the United States, it appears that Washington’s experiments with Friedman-inspired economic policies are not meeting with much success. Each action taken by the US Treasury and the Federal Reserve until mid-October was met with a further decline in stock prices.

Stock markets didn’t start to recover until European nations moved to effectively nationalize their major banks. This move was quickly followed by Washington, although it is far outside of what Friedman advocated. It is also diametrically opposed to a number of the 10 economic policy commandments of the old “Washington Consensus”. While stock markets may recover, or continue more along their roller-coaster ride, we have yet to see how far down these Friedmanite free market policies will take the real economy of people’s jobs, incomes and living standards.

What is somewhat incredible is the apparent lack of remorse or self-reflection and doubt being expressed by the ideologues who put these policies in place. Amazingly, many neocons continue to argue that the financial collapse was caused by regulations that were too strong, or by a confluence of unlikely events, including a rise in “leftist attitudes”.

There seems to be a belief among many that a financial market bailout will soon relieve the credit crunch caused by the subprime fiasco and then we can go back to business as usual. We don’t need to look too far back in time or too far abroad to see how misguided these views are. Clearly it is time to broaden our horizons, learn from Keynes and successful New Deal economic policies, and consider other imaginative solutions to our economic crisis.

Toby Sanger is an economist with the Canadian Union of Public Employees and a contributor to the Progressive Economics Forum blog.

Source

Icelandic politicians to get paid less

November 21 2008

By Alex Elliot

Geir H. Haarde, Icelandic Prime Minister today announced (at a press conference) his intention that all elected officials and judges should take a pay cut. President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson suggested a few weeks ago that he would welcome such a move and that he hoped Haarde would consider it.

The PM made his announcement at a press conference this afternoon, held in conjunction with Ingibjorg Solrun Gisladottir, Foreign Minister and head of the Social Democrats (the other coalition government party with Geir Haarde’s Independence Party).

MBL.is reported that Haarde would not be drawn on numbers, but said it would be in the region of a 5 to 15 percent pay cut.
Ingibjorg Solrun Gisladottir said that now there are very special circumstances in society and that politicians’ pay should reflect that.

MPs’ pension rights will be changed too, if the bill is passed in parliament over the coming weeks. This will mean that funds will not be accessible until the age of 60, rather than the current 55.
Over-wage pension contributions would decrease while the proportion of pension contribution taken out of officials’ wages would increase.

The Prime Minister also said at the press conference that he has discussed with all opposition party leaders the establishment of an investigative panel to carry out a full inquiry into the collapse of the Icelandic banking sector. He said he hopes a bill will be introduced to parliament on the issue in the next few weeks.

Source

I think all the CEO’s in  banks should get a pay cut too. They certainly aren’t worth what they are being paid. Boy are they not worth it.  They are still messing up in the US. They just can’t get it together.

US Banks Will be Begging at the Tax Payers Door Again Soon

Seems the bums will knocking at the Door, looking for another handout.

Considering they caused for the most part the Crisis around the world they should all be fired.

They should be booted out of every country they are now in, as well.

Personally I think a bank should be run in their own country and not anyone else’s.

It should be owned and operated only by person from said country and not owned by any one from outside the country either.

That is one of the reasons the US banks infected so many other countries with their, financial crisis.

Now what was it Rothchild once said “Let me control a peoples currency and I care not who makes their laws”

Meyer Nathaniel Rothchild in a speech to a gathering of world bankers February 12, 1912. The following year, we subscribed to the “services” of the newly incorporated Federal Reserve, headed by Mr. Rothchild.

The US still doesn’t own the Federal Reserve. It is controlled by others from outside the country.

Nathaniel was in great part responsible for the great Depression.

Published in: on November 21, 2008 at 9:07 pm  Comments Off on Icelandic politicians to get paid less  
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BREAKING NEWS: Iceland IMF loan approved

November 20 2008

By Alex Elliot

The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has just confirmed that it will extend the requested USD 2.1 billion loan to Iceland, according to MBL.is.

In addition to this, the Finns, Swedes, Norwegians and Danes intend to lend Iceland some USD 2.5 billion. Reuters quoted a senior Finnish politician as saying that the Norwegians will provide USD 631 million of that sum; but it is not yet known how the rest will be split between Finland, Sweden and Denmark.

Earlier today, the Finnish business paper, Kauppalehti stated that in addition to the above loans, the Icelanders are also likely to receive a USD 500 million loan from Russia and funding from Poland, the Faroe Islands and the European Union.

IceNews will bring further details on the implications of this news as it comes to light over the next days.

Source

Iceland gets $2.1 billion loan from the IMF

By Robert Daniel

Nov. 20, 2008

The International Monetary Fund approved a two-year standby arrangement for Iceland, in which the country will receive a $2.1 billion loan, the agency said on Thursday.

Additional loans totaling as much as $3 billion have been secured from Denmark, Finland, Norway, Poland, Russia and Sweden.

The Faroe Islands will also lend Iceland $50 million.

The IMF will provide $827 million of its loan immediately with the rest in eight installments of $155 million each. Iceland will repay the loan during 2012 through 2015, the agency said.

Source

Nice to see the other countires coming to the aid of Iceland.

Lets hope things improve.

Considering everything they have been through, they need their friends.

The people in Iceland are good people and desrve to be treated as such.

Published in: on November 20, 2008 at 9:24 am  Comments Off on BREAKING NEWS: Iceland IMF loan approved  
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Iceland Abandoned

By HANNES H. GISSURARSON

November 17 2008

Brown’s actions helped to worsen the island’s financial crisis.

REYKJAVIK, Iceland

As recently as last year, Iceland was considered an economic success story. After 16 years of free-market reforms, it was one of the world’s 10 richest and freest countries. Efficiently managing its fish stocks — elsewhere operated with huge losses — it also enjoyed a strong pension system. Massive tax cuts had led to strong economic growth and rising tax revenues. At the same time, extensive privatization generated about $2 billion for the state, allowing it to pay off most of its debt. The newly privatized banks were flourishing. Income distribution was relatively even, and the poverty level one of the lowest in Europe. Like other Nordic countries, Iceland was a stable democracy under the rule of law.

Then, in the first week of October 2008, all went wrong. The three main Icelandic banks collapsed and the government took over their domestic branches. It is still unclear what will happen to their foreign operations. The local currency, the krona, went into free fall. Foreign trade came to a standstill, as it became almost impossible to transfer money to and from the country.

Why did the international financial crisis hit Iceland so hard? A plausible answer is that Iceland’s banks were oversized: With assets worth more than 10 times the country’s GDP, the Icelandic Central Bank simply could not act as their only lender of last resort. In hindsight, Iceland’s Financial Supervisory Authority should perhaps have demanded much earlier that financial institutions significantly scale down their foreign operations.

While some Icelandic bankers may have behaved recklessly, there is another side to the story. In 1994, Iceland joined the European Economic Area, a free-trade zone that unites the 27 EU member states with Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland. The idea was that any company based within the EEA could operate freely throughout the area, provided it followed the rules.

The Icelandic banks took this seriously and began operations in other European countries, working under EEA regulations. Efficient, aggressive and technologically advanced, they often offered better terms than their competitors, undoubtedly causing some resentment.

At the beginning of the financial crisis in 2007, the Icelandic banks were quite solvent. They had almost no subprime loans. But there was a foreseeable liquidity problem. When the Icelandic Central Bank tried to obtain credit lines from other central banks in the EEA, it was refused almost everywhere. Suddenly, it did matter where the banks had their headquarters. Once the financial markets realized that there was no credible lender of last resort in the Icelandic financial system, a run on the banks became almost inevitable.

One or two of the Icelandic banks might have survived, though, if on Oct. 8 British Prime Minister Gordon Brown had not used the country’s antiterrorist law to take over the assets and operations of two Icelandic banks in the U.K., Kaupthing and Landsbanki. The Icelandic Ministry of Finance and Central Bank even found themselves briefly on the list of terrorist organizations published on the Web site of the British Treasury, alongside al Qaeda and the Taliban.

These British measures significantly worsened Iceland’s financial crisis. The island’s banking system and foreign trade collapsed. Unsurprisingly, banks are reluctant to transfer money to and from “terrorists.”

Mr. Brown justified his draconian actions by saying that the Icelandic government was unwilling to honor its legal obligations to British depositors of Icelandic banks. There is no evidence for this charge. To the contrary, the Icelandic government repeatedly asserted that all legal obligations to depositors in the EEA area would be honored. These obligations are covered by the Icelandic Depositors’ and Investors’ Guarantee Fund set up under EEA rules. The fund is an independent body, guaranteeing all deposits up to about €20,000. However, if the fund is unable to fully meet its obligations, then there is no requirement, under EEA rules, for the Icelandic government to step in.

Prime Minister Brown also talked darkly of last-minute bank transfers from England to Iceland. Whether that is true or false remains to be seen. But interestingly, the last-minute transfer of $8 billion from Lehman Brothers in England to America in September did not land the U.S. Treasury or the Federal Reserve on the British list of terrorist organizations.

Having helped to bring down two of the three Icelandic banks, Mr. Brown, using the position of London as a financial center and his country’s influence in the IMF and the European Union, demanded that the Icelandic government go far beyond what the Depositors’ and Investors’ Guarantee Fund is obliged to do under EEA rules. The prime minister, fearing that the fund does not have sufficient means, insisted that the Icelandic government must guarantee foreign deposits in Icelandic banks. Late Sunday, Reykjavik succumbed to this pressure and agreed to reimburse European savers for up to about €20,000. This might put a debt of perhaps $10 billion on the shoulders of 310,000 people, close to 100% of the country’s GDP.

The central banks in the EEA that refused to come to the assistance of the Icelandic Central Bank probably did not anticipate the damage their inaction would cause even beyond Iceland’s shores. And Prime Minister Brown probably did not understand that bringing down the Icelandic banks would inflict much higher costs on British depositors than if he had stayed calm and participated in resolving the situation.

Little wonder that Icelanders these days feel rather abandoned by their European friends.

Mr. Gissurarson is a board member of Iceland’s central bank and a professor of political philosophy at the University of Iceland.

Source

Well Mr. GissurarsonI I have to agree with you. Seems Iceland was in the process of doing everything within their power to resolve the problem.  What Brown did certainly didn’t help matters any. The EU, Iceland and Canada all started falling together.

Icesave may have been a problem but it of course was  a Privately owned bank. Iceland itself at the time was not in control of it. The owner however was.

Brown punishing a country because of a privately owned bank, was over stepping his bounds for sure.

The Government in Iceland was working to remedy the problem. Brown was in my opinion in to much of a hurry.

Iceland certainly is not a terrorist country and should not have been treated as such.

From October -There is more in my November Index as well.

New State-Run Glitnir Bank Established

Iceland’s Kaupthing Prepares Lawsuit against Britain

Iceland Registers Complaint about Britain to NATO

Government set on collision course with Iceland over Landsbanki assets

Iceland ‘working day and night’

Salaries hit by Icelandic bank Collapse

Fear on streets of Reykjavik as country can only go to IMF for financial bailout

UK Government ‘ignored Iceland warning’/ Charities may lose

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has condemned Iceland’

Iceland government seizes control of Landsbanki

Icelands, Icesave freezes deposits and withdrawals

EU, Iceland, Canada Suffering Fall Out, Caused By US Crisis

The Icelandic Government program with the IMF

PRESS RELEASE FROM THE ICELANDIC PRIME MINISTER’S OFFICE:

Reykjavik, Iceland

November 17 2008

In the wake of the recent international financial turmoil, Iceland’s economy is facing a banking crisis of extraordinary proportions. The economy is heading for a deep recession, a sharp rise in the fiscal deficit, and a dramatic surge in public sector debt – by about 80%. Potentially substantial capital outflows could lead to a further large loss in the value of the króna. In the context of the high leverage in the economy, this would produce massive balance sheet effects and a substantial contraction in domestic activity. The immediate challenges are, therefore, to restore a functioning and viable banking system, and to stabilize the króna. Looking further ahead, the challenge will be to reduce a very high level of public debt, by embarking on a process of sustained fiscal consolidation.

Banking sector restructuring and insolvency framework reform
The Icelandic government is committed to progressing a sound and transparent process as regards depositors and creditors in the intervened banks. Constructive work is being carried out towards comparable agreements with all international counterparts for the Iceland deposit insurance scheme in line with the EEA legal framework. Under its deposit insurance system Iceland is committed to recognize the obligations to all insured depositors. This is done under the understanding that prefinancing for these claims is available by respective foreign governments and that Iceland as well as these governments is committed to discussions within the coming days with a view to reaching agreement on the precise terms for this prefinancing. Furthermore, it is recognized that the payment by the new banks of the fair value for the assets transferred from the old banks is a key factor in the fair treatment of depositors and creditors in the intervened banks. Accordingly, we have instituted a transparent process involving two sets of independent auditors to establish the fair value of the assets. More generally, the fair, equitable and non-discriminatory treatment of depositors and creditors will be ensured in line with applicable law.

The bank regulatory framework and supervisory practice will be reviewed to strengthen the safeguards against potential new crises. Previous senior managers and major shareholders in intervened banks who are found to have mismanaged the banks should not assume similar roles for at least three years.

The insolvency framework to manage deleveraging and recovery in the banking, corporate and household sectors in an efficient manner will be reviewed.

Fiscal policy
Preliminary estimates suggest that the gross cost to the budget of honoring deposit insurance obligations and of recapitalizing both commercial banks and the Central Bank of Iceland could amount to around 80 percent of GDP and the general government deficit will be 13.5 percent of GDP in 2009. Overall, gross government debt could rise from 29 percent of GDP at end-2007 to 109 percent of GDP by end-2009. The net cost will be somewhat lower on the assumption that money can be recovered by selling assets from the old banks.

In order not to exacerbate the recession, the fiscal deficit will be allowed to widen to the extent that this is driven by higher expenditures and lower revenues due to the effects of the economic cycle. But given the high financing need and the dramatic increase in public sector debt, a planned discretionary fiscal relaxation in 2009 will be significantly scaled back.

The intention is to reduce the structural primary deficit by 2–3 percent annually over the medium-term, with the aim of achieving a small structural primary surplus by 2011 and a structural primary surplus of 3½-4 percent of GDP by 2012. A thorough analysis of the fiscal framework will be conducted and recommendations made, including on how local government finances can be better aligned with the governments’ overall fiscal plans.

Monetary and exchange rate policy
The immediate challenge facing the Central Bank of Iceland is to stabilize the króna and set the stage for a gradual appreciation. It can be expected that the króna will face near-term risks of pressure when the normal functioning of the foreign exchange market is restored. Extraordinary measures are therefore needed to deal with short-term risks and prevent substantial capital outflows.

In the very short-run, we intend to adopt the following pragmatic mix of conventional and unconventional measures:
• To raise the policy interest rate to 18 percent. The Central Bank stands ready to increase it further, but it is unclear that higher interest rates alone will suffice to stem capital outflow.
• Tight control over banks’ access to Central Bank credits will be maintained to avoid excessive liquidity being drawn down through this route.
• The Central Bank stands ready to use foreign reserves to prevent excessive króna volatility.
• Furthermore, the Central Bank is willing to temporarily maintain restrictions on capital account transactions. Such restrictions have considerable adverse implications and the intention is to remove them as soon as possible.

This process of normalization and lower inflation and interest rates can start as soon as the króna stabilizes in the foreign exchange market, all demand for foreign exchange in respect of current account transactions is met in the foreign exchange market, and there is no longer need to support the market by drawing on the reserves. Following the above mention actions, the króna could strengthen quickly and annual inflation will have fallen to 4½ percent at end-2009. Additional strengthening of the króna and further disinflation is expected in 2010. This will allow us to begin to ease control over Central Bank’s credit volume and increasingly rely on the policy interest rate as the primary monetary policy instrument, in the context of a flexible exchange rate policy.

Incomes policy
It will be important to have a national consensus consistent with the objectives of the macroeconomic program. Historically, income policy in Iceland has been very effective, with past agreements supporting the economic adjustment when difficult circumstances demanded it. Social partners recognize the need to enter an agreement that is commensurate with the severity of the situation.

Publishing and Parliamentary Procedure

A Letter of intent was sent to the IMF on November 3, signed by the Minister of Finance and the Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Central Bank. The Executive Board of the IMF will put Iceland’s plan on its agenda on Wednesday November 19. At the same time IMF’s Staff Report will be published.

Today, November 17, the plan was put before the Parliament and will be discussed there later this week.

A special information Web Page has been opened as a part of the Web Page of the Prime Minister’s Office, http://www.forsaetisraduneyti.is/Aaetlun_um_efnahagsstoduleika/. Among its contents are the Letter of intent in Icelandic and English, explanatory texts on every article of the LOI and other relevant information.

Source

Published in: on November 17, 2008 at 10:05 pm  Comments Off on The Icelandic Government program with the IMF  
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Icelanders Take to Streets to Protest Government’s IMF Loan Failure

By Tasneem Brogger and Helga Kristin Einarsdottir

November  14 2008

Icelanders will take to the streets in their thousands tomorrow to protest the government’s failure to clinch a $6 billion International Monetary Fund-led loan while countries in less dire economic straits jump the IMF queue.

Weekly protests in downtown Reykjavik may swell to 20,000 soon, or 6 percent of the population, said Andres Magnusson, chief executive of the Icelandic Federation of Trade and Services. The islanders are venting their anger on politicians as prices soar, the krona collapses and the economy goes into reverse.

“Enormous mistakes were made, but those who made them are still in the same place,” said Hildigunnur Runarsdottir, a music composer who has attended five protests since the country’s banking system collapsed last month. “They don’t seem to be doing anything at all about the situation.”

The Atlantic island, which had the fifth-highest per capita income in the world last year, needs the money to finance imports and revive the banking system. Central bank forecasts that the economy will contract 8.3 percent next year may prove optimistic if the loan isn’t approved soon, said Lars Christensen, chief analyst at Danske Bank A/S in Copenhagen.

This “isn’t sustainable,” Christensen said. “You can’t starve the economy, and that’s what the government’s doing at the moment. Every day that passes makes the economic outlook worse.”

`Depressed’

Many retailers are relying on credit from their suppliers to keep their shops stocked.

“I have a long-standing relationship with suppliers, who have given me 30-60 days credit,” said Gudrun Steingrimsdottir, who runs a lingerie store in central Reykjavik. “If the situation persists another month, I don’t know what is going to happen.”

Trouble is, neither does anyone else.

“The main thing that is creating unrest is that the government doesn’t come forward and inform the public what is on the agenda,” Magnussen said. “Nobody can get any information.”

As the currency fell and imports shrank, the inflation rate reached an 18-year high of 15.9 percent in October. Delays in sealing a loan package mean the central bank can’t return the currency to free float. The bank now holds daily krona auctions, with the currency trading for 178 against the euro on Nov. 12, compared with about 90 kronur per euro at the start of the year. The traded volume at that auction was 13.8 million euros.

“What I notice is how depressed people have become,” said Steingrimsdottir. “We know nothing. People seem to have lost all hope.”

IMF Rescue

The IMF is withholding approval of its $2.1 billion loan until other lenders agree to fulfill their commitments to a wider bailout, Fund spokesman Bill Murray said on Nov. 11.

Norway has pledged 500 million euros ($635 million), the Faroe Islands 300 million kronor ($50 million) and Poland $200 million. That leaves Iceland well short of the $6 billion it says it needs.

Complicating talks are U.K. and Dutch demands that the government repay depositors at the Internet unit of Iceland’s collapsed Landsbanki Island hf. Those debts may amount to as much as 5.5 billion pounds ($8.2 billion), the size of Iceland’s economy, according to a report by Jon Danielsson, an economist at the London School of Economics.

“By comparison, the total amount of reparations payments demanded of Germany following World War I was around 85 percent of GDP,” Danielsson said.

Iceland’s government has accepted it will have to reach a negotiated solution to the dispute with the U.K. and the Netherlands to get the IMF loan, the newspaper Morgunbladid said yesterday, without saying where it got the information.

Envy

Icelanders are shooting envious glances at Eastern Europe where Hungary and Ukraine received loans from the IMF within two weeks of asking. Iceland has little to show for its efforts, six weeks after its banking system started to collapse.

“It’s worrying enough that they’re not getting the $6 billion they’re talking about, but the fact they’re not even getting the $2 billion is very worrying,” Christensen said. “It’s amazing that Ukraine is able to get a $16 billion loan, one of the most corrupt countries in the world, and Iceland is not able to pull it off.”

Ukraine had its $16.4 billion loan from the IMF approved on Nov. 6. Hungary said on Nov. 11 it’s already drawn on the first 4.9 billion euro ($6.16 billion) tranche of its IMF-led 20 billion-euro loan.

While the IMF loans to Hungary and Ukraine make up less than 20 percent of those countries’ gross domestic products, Iceland needs loans worth more than its entire GDP to repay debts built up through five years of economic boom.

“We should have turned the music down when the party got out of hand,” Runarsdottir said.

Source

Bottom line, it all started in the US.

Iceland has be hit extremely hard and things don’t seem to be improving.

Protests against Crisis in Iceland Get out of Hand
November 10 2008

People ganged up on police during the latest in a series of protests outside Iceland’s Althingi parliament in central Reykjavík on Saturday. Police were having problems with keeping the situation under control and one man was arrested.

From the protests on Saturday, November 8. Copyright: Icelandic Photo Agency.

Demonstrators were demanding actions to improve the economic situation, Fréttabladid reports.

“There is nothing wrong with people protesting in a democratic society but one also has to differentiate between legal peaceful demonstrations and riots,” Prime Minister Geir H. Haarde told Morgunbladid. “A demonstration is in real danger of becoming a riot when the parliament building is pelted with stones.”

Among actions undertaken by protestors was raising the Bónus supermarket-chain flag (a pink piggybank on a yellow background), from the parliament building roof.

Haarde said his government was trying to inform the public on the status of the situation as quickly as possible—lack of information is one of the issues angering demonstrators—with regular press conferences, via the websites of the ministries and elsewhere.

“People who ask for information should be able to receive it,” Haarde stated.

Source

More on Protests

One problem leads to yet another.

Iceland Cuts Funds to Foreign Aid

Iceland’s Foreign Minister Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir presented yesterday a strategy for limiting expenses at her ministry in light of the economic depression, including cutting funds to development assistance.

Well you do what you have to do.

By Alex Elliott
November 13 2008

Ingibjorg Solrun Gisladottir, Icelandic Foreign Minister, says she is hopeful the negotiations currently underway in Brussels to work out a satisfactory settlement with the British and Dutch governments over Icesave compensation can be completed tonight or tomorrow, MBL.is reports.

Stod 2 television news reported this evening that the Icelandic delegation has adjourned the meeting until midnight, when their conclusions may be delivered. According to sources, the British government is reported to be demanding the equivalent of ISK 600 billion (USD 4.7 billion) to pay British Icesave customers up to the EUR 20,000 state guarantee. If an agreement is reached, it is thought Iceland will be free to take control of Landsbanki’s UK assets and sell them – generating crucial revenue. The burden on the Icelandic tax payer will likely be less than feared.

The Foreign Minister said in an interview with the Icelandic state broadcaster RÚV, that the government has received a very clear message on just how important it is to resolve the Icesave issue with the Dutch and British. It is important for the entire European economy. A lot is at stake if the issue is not successfully resolved very soon, she said.

Source

Published in: on November 14, 2008 at 6:02 am  Comments Off on Icelanders Take to Streets to Protest Government’s IMF Loan Failure  
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Iceland’s President Wants Lower Salaries

November 11 2008

President of Iceland Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson has expressed his view that the salaries of the president and of other officials should be lowered in light of the current economic crisis facing Iceland.

President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson. Copyright: Icelandic Photo Agency.

“I would celebrate such a decision made by Althingi [Iceland’s parliament] or the wage council [which’s decides the salaries for elected officials and other state employees] and I believe it should be made as soon as possible,” Grímsson told Fréttabladid.

Fréttabladid newspaper sent out a questionnaire to MPs and other officials, requiring whether they believed it was natural for the country’s highest-ranking officials to receive lower salaries like the general public has to live with during this economic recession.

Apart from the president, three MPs from the coalition parties and eight MPs from the opposition parties replied.

“If there will be a general cut in salaries it is natural that MPs will suffer it as much as everyone else,” said Gudlaugur Hannesson of the Social Democrats, who have a seat in Iceland’s government along with the Independence Party.

Source

Maybe they should do that all over the planet.


Published in: on November 12, 2008 at 6:52 am  Comments Off on Iceland’s President Wants Lower Salaries  
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Iceland’s rescue package flounders

By David Ibison in Stockholm

November 12 2008

An international bail-out of crisis-hit Iceland appeared to be unravelling last night as the International Monetary Fund withheld official backing for the $6bn plan. Iceland has also been left with a $500m shortfall in the funds for the plan that it had hoped to raise from other international donors.

Iceland agreed a $2.1bn (€1.7bn, £1.4bn) loan with the IMF on October 24 that was due to be approved by its board last Tuesday but which was delayed until the following Friday, postponed again to Monday and has now been put back to an unknown date.

IMF approval is crucial as Sweden, Denmark and Norway have said they will only offer loans to Iceland once the IMF package and an associated economic stabilisation plan have been agreed by its board.

The delay at the IMF’s head office comes at the same time as Iceland has failed to raise the full sum it needs to stabilise its economy. A government official said: “There is a $500m gap.”

There are deep suspicions in Iceland that the UK government has put pressure on the IMF to delay the loan until a dispute over the compensation Iceland owes savers in Icesave, one of its collapsed banks, is resolved.

Össur Skarphédinsson, acting foreign minister and ministry for industry, told the Financial Times: “I spoke to representatives of the UK who said that before they could assist us they would have to have clarity on other outstanding issues. I was left in no doubt what they were talking about.”

No explanation for the delay has been provided by the IMF and Gordon Brown, prime minister, said yesterday that he supported the IMF loan.

A government spokesman said London had “in no way blocked the IMF’s loan to Iceland. In fact the UK government fully supports the IMF’s loan and looks forward to a swift resolution of this issue”.

However, Wouter Bos, Dutch finance minister, suggested there was a link between the IMF plan and compensation disputes with Iceland, which also involve the Netherlands. He told Dutch television that The Hague would oppose the IMF plan until their compensation dispute was resolved. “Luckily we have powerful allies as Britain and Germany have the same problem with Iceland,” he is reported to have said.

Iceland is seeking to make up the $500m shortfall with a loan from the US, Japan, Russia or China, but has not had a response to its appeal for help, the official said.

The IMF delay and the failure to raise the necessary funds has left Iceland unable to boost its foreign exchange reserves and unable to re-float its currency, undermining international confidence in its struggling economy after its banking system collapsed last month.

“Iceland is stuck in limbo. It clearly needs a new monetary and exchange rate framework, but it needs the IMF for that,” said Paul Rawkins, senior director at Fitch Ratings, the credit rating agency.

Source

Has IMF Not Received Formal Request from Iceland?

November 11 2008

The Swiss representative on the board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) claims the board has not received any formal request of assistance from Iceland, known as a letter of intent. Iceland’s Prime Minister says such a letter was sent one week ago.

“To this date, no formal request [from Iceland] has been received by the fund’s board,” the Swiss representative on the IMF board, Thomas Moser, wrote to Fréttabladid in an email yesterday, adding that Switzerland is generally positive towards assisting Iceland.

Prime Minister Geir H. Haarde. Copyright: Icelandic Photo Agency.

Iceland’s Prime Minister Geir H. Haarde told Fréttabladid that a letter of intent, signed by Iceland’s Minister of Finance Árni M. Mathiesen and Central Bank governor and chairman Davíd Oddsson, was sent to the IMF on November 3.

“I don’t know how this could be. There must be some kind of an in-house system which controls what documents are sent with express delivery to the board,” Haarde said, adding that the IMF is a large and unwieldy institution.


Haarde said that since the letter of intent was sent, Icelandic authorities have been expecting their request to be discussed by the board.

Icelandic authorities suspect that their dispute with Britain and the Netherlands in regards to the Icesave deposits may be the cause of the delay, although they are not certain of the matter. Haarde requests an explanation from the IMF board as to why Iceland’s letter of intent has not been discussed yet.

IMF’s decision on Iceland’s application for an emergency stabilization program has been postponed thrice, as reported yesterday.

Acting Foreign Minister Össur Skarphédinsson told RÚV that he is certain that British authorities were causing the delay. British authorities however claim that they support Iceland’s application from a loan from the IMF wholeheartedly.

A spokesperson from the British Chancellery, who was not named, told ruv.is, that Iceland could on the other hand not expect special treatment from the IMF. The fund’s regulations are very clear and state that applicants must have reached an agreement with their loan granters.

Fréttabladid reports that the agreement between Iceland and an the IMF which was presented in late October has at least 30 items, the 19th of which was increasing the policy rate to 18 percent, according to an announcement from the Central Bank.

Source

Published in: on November 12, 2008 at 6:37 am  Comments Off on Iceland’s rescue package flounders  
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Dutch, British block IMF loan to Iceland – NRC


November 7 2008

The Netherlands and Britain are blocking a €2.1bn loan from the International Monetary Fund to Iceland pending agreement on compensation for Dutch and British savers, the NRC reports on Friday.

The paper says Icelandic MPs were told at a meeting in Brussels that the loan would not be approved until the financial aspects of compensating hundreds of thousands of savers has been worked out.

Sources at the Dutch finance ministry have confirmed the veto off the record but refuse to comment officially. Nor would British officials comment, the paper says.

Yesterday, Iceland’s prime minister Geir Haarde said that the IMF loan and the repayment agreement were ‘two separate issues which should not be linked,’ the paper said.

Dutch savers have some €1.6bn on deposit at Icesave which they cannot access.

Meanwhile, the conflict between the government, the province of Noord-Holland and 22 local councils over their claims against Iceland escalated on Friday. In total, local governments have some €400m in Icesave.

Finance mnister Wouter Bos and the queen’s commissioner in Noord-Holland have been embroiled in a public spat over the province’s determination to go it alone in trying to recover its money.

On Friday home affairs minister Guusje ter Horst said the government had used a royal decree to annul local government claims to Landsbanki property abroad. ‘Their behaviour is hindering the difficult and complex discussions with the Icelandic government,’ she said.

Source

Maybe Iceland should just declare bankruptcy.

Seems all the way around things just are getting more ridiculous.

All the banks have being going through the same thing but it seems Iceland is really being hung out to dry.

Of course I have little or no trust when it comes to the IMF at any rate.

Maybe not getting a loan from them is a “good thing”.

There certainly seems to be a lot of manipulation going on when it comes to Iceland.

A few tid bits.

Iceland to Receive Unexpected Loan from Poland

Norwegian loan to Iceland confirmed

Iceland lifts interest rates to record 18% to secure IMF $2bn loan

Iceland Registers Complaint about Britain to NATO

Unbowed Icelandic PM sends a strong message to UK

Iceland ‘working day and night’

UK Government ‘ignored Iceland warning’/ Charities may lose

The worst of all was being treated as a Terrorist country.

Browns actions have not helped in any way.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has condemned Iceland’

Published in: on November 10, 2008 at 5:17 am  Comments Off on Dutch, British block IMF loan to Iceland – NRC  
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Iceland awaits IMF decision on Monday


A decision on whether or not Iceland will receive its requested loan from the IMF has been delayed again for two days. The decision is now expected on Monday.

The Icelandic PM says he is entirely confident that the USD 2.1 billion loan will be granted, and that a wider 6 billion dollar rescue package will be agreed upon as a result.

The delay is blamed on IMF coordination with the Nordic countries. Some sources claim the IMF is waiting for the Nordic countries to commit money beforehand; while others claim the Nordic countries are waiting for the IMF’s confirmation before they pledge support.

PM Geir H. Haarde believes the weekend’s hurdles will be easy to conquer – although, if true, it could potentially become a frustrating situation.

Norway and the Faroe Islands have already pledged to lend Iceland money. The final rescue deal is expected to include cash from the IMF, the Nordic bloc, the UK, Netherlands and Poland. The participation of the USA, Russia and the European Central Bank has not yet been confirmed or denied.

The Prime Minister denies credible rumours that the delay is caused by IMF unease over Iceland’s ongoing negotiations with the Netherlands and the UK over frozen savings accounts.

Source

Published in: on November 8, 2008 at 3:23 am  Comments Off on Iceland awaits IMF decision on Monday  
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Iceland to Receive Unexpected Loan from Poland

November 7 2008

Polish authorities will participate in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) economic stabilization program for Iceland, which has yet to be accepted by the IMF board, by granting Iceland a USD 200 million (EUR 155 million) loan.

This was confirmed by Magdalena Kobos, a spokesperson from the Polish Ministry of Finance, to Bloomberg news agency.

According to Bloomberg, Iceland is likely to receive an IMF-led emergency loan of around USD 6 billion (EUR 4.7 billion). In addition to Poland, the Scandinavian countries, Britain and the Netherlands will participate in granting the loan to Iceland.

According to late-breaking news from visir.is, Icelandic Prime Minister Geir H. Haarde announced at a governmental meeting this morning that he had not been made aware of Poland’s intentions to offer Iceland a USD 200 million loan.

Source

Published in: on November 8, 2008 at 3:13 am  Comments Off on Iceland to Receive Unexpected Loan from Poland  
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Big deficits may force Turkey towards IMF

By Selcuk Gokoluk

ANKARA

Turkey will face a balance of
payments problem next year that could snuff out growth if the
government does not overcome its reticence to join the queue of
emerging countries seeking International Monetary Fund help.

Politicians are loath to ask for IMF help before municipal
elections next year given the public backlash against the six
years of fiscal austerity demanded by the IMF in return for
helping Turkey through a financial and economic crisis in 2001.

However, economists say its $70 billion foreign exchange
reserve is not a large enough buffer given the current account
deficit is seen rising to $50.4 billion in 2009 and the funding
need of the private sector is estimated at around $90 billion.

Turkey’s business community has therefore been calling for
an IMF loan deal to limit the fallout from a global financial
crisis which has already forced Ukraine, Hungary, Iceland and Serbia to seek IMF help.

Such aid comes with strings attached and while the
government is reluctant to accept big spending curbs and other
painful steps that might exacerbate the economic slowdown,
economists say IMF credit may be the only source of credit if
Turkey finds itself in a balance of payments difficulties.

“Turkey is not an EU member with access to the European
Central Bank credit lines that have been made available, nor
does it have a swap line with the (United States’) Fed as do a
few other emerging markets now to boost dollar liquidity,”
Kristin Lindow, Moody’s Investors lead sovereign analyst for
Turkey, told Reuters.

Turkey is carrying out accession negotiations with the
European Union, but is not expected to join the 27-members bloc
for several years at the earliest.

FINANCING NEEDS
Turkey’ economy is in much better shape than it was in 2001,
when it had a severe crisis and signed one of the biggest ever
IMF bailouts but some economists say the Treasury may not be
able to maintain its current cash holding.

Government spending is expected to pick up in coming months
and appetite for Turkish bonds has faded as investors favour
safe-heaven U.S. dollar assets.

Analysts say Ankara needs $15-$20 billion IMF credit to meet
its short-term financing needs, even if such help is made
contingent on measures such as cutting spending, raising taxes,
accelerating privatisation, and increasing interest rates to
correct fiscal and external imbalances and control inflation.

“For the first time in a couple of years, the balance of
payment will be a binding concern for Turkey in the sense that
Turkish corporates might have to cut back their borrowing from
international markets,” said Reinhard Cluse, economist at UBS.

It is estimated the non-bank corporate sector will roll over
roughly $20 billion in debt in the coming months.

Curbs on firms’ ability to borrow will dampen economic
activity, which has already weakened.

The economy expanded by 1.9 percent in the second quarter, a
a sharp slowdown from 6.7 percent in the first quarter, and some
economists expect it will grow by only 2-3 percent next year.

Turkish banks have strong loan/deposit and capital adequacy
ratios compared with their western peers and are tightly
regulated, but this is not the case for manufacturing firms.

“I don’t think banks will have a problem rolling over their
debt. The unknown factors are more in the non-financial sectors.
The non-financial sector firms borrowed $18 billion in the first
eight months. This is a very high figure,” said JP Morgan Chase
senior economist Yarkin Cebeci said.

“An IMF deal will cut the size of the shock waves even if it
can’t stop the financial volatility. More importantly is that an
IMF deal will comfort both the financial and non-bank corporate
sectors,” Cebeci added.

An IMF deal would also help shore up financial market
sentiment, economists said. Global financial turmoil has hit
Turkish markets in the last two months, with the lira losing one
third of its value and stocks halving in value.

“An IMF deal will ensure a gradual and softer fall. If the
market attempts to make a correction on their own, the fall will
be sharper and faster…I mean further slowdown of growth and
more lira weakening,” Merrill Lynch EMEA economist Turker
Hamzaoglu said.

(Editing by Swaha Pattanaik)

Source

Iceland had to raise their interest rates up to 18 per cent to get their loan from the
IMF

Published in: on November 6, 2008 at 11:27 am  Comments Off on Big deficits may force Turkey towards IMF  
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Iceland lifts interest rates to record 18% to secure IMF $2bn loan

By David Ibison in Stockholm

Published: October 29 2008

Iceland raised interest rates to a record 18 per cent from 12 per cent yesterday as a “condition of a proposed $2bn loan from the International Monetary Fund” to help rescue the stricken island.

Iceland applied to the Washington-based organisation for the emergency loan after its banking system collapsed and is seeking another $4bn (€3.2bn, £2.6bn) from some Nordic and other central banks.

The application will be presented to the IMF’s board tomorrow and the central bank said a condition attached to the loan was for a rate rise to 18 per cent.

The move reversed a 3.5 per cent rate cut announced just two weeks ago by David Oddsson, central bank governor, underlining the influence the IMF now has over policymaking in Iceland.

Brian Coulton, managing director at Fitch Ratings, the credit rating agency, said Iceland’s central bank had “no choice but to work very closely with the fund”.

Following the collapse of the banking system, the Icelandic economy is expected to contract by up to 10 per cent, unemployment to rise at about 8 per cent and inflation to hit 20 per cent or more, economists say.

“Putting up interest rates means they are going to go through the mother of all recessions, but the key is stability,” Mr Coulton said.

The IMF-led rescue represents an important breakthrough for Iceland as it strives to stabilise its economy by clearing the way for other countries to come to its aid. But it has come at the price of agreeing to the organisation’s demands.

The IMF conditions at-tached to the loan are to restore confidence in the economy and stabilise the Icelandic krona, restore fiscal sustainability, and reestablish a viable banking system. Yesterday’s rate rise was an important first step towards boosting the credibility of the Icelandic krona, which lost 70 per cent of its value during the crisis before trading dried up amid the uncertainty.

The IMF and Icelandic government have agreed that the currency should refloat within a matter of weeks, regarded as a vital step in restoring Iceland’s international credibility and helping the international payment system to restart.

“It is of overarching importance to restore stability in the foreign exchange market and support the exchange rate of the crown,” Sedlabanki, the central bank, said in a statement.

The huge interest rate rise came as Iceland continued to try to rally international sup-port for multi-billiondollar loans to bolster its foreign exchange re-serves, a move that should also help support its currency once it resumes trading.

The office of Geir Haarde, prime minister, told the Financial Times yesterday Iceland had sent an application for funds to the US Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank and had also been in contact with the Bank of Japan via its embassy in Tokyo.

The Icelandic krona is expected to be floated again as soon as is practical, possibly within the next two weeks, once the IMF’s board has approved the $2bn loan.

Source

The interest rate increase is way out of line with any logic. That is one of the reasons I don’t trust the IMF. Their Conditions. They dictate to those in need. 18% is ridiculous. This is helping Iceland how?

That kind of interest rate is insanity.

Nordic nations work on Iceland bail-out
By David Ibison in Stockholm

November 5 2008

Officials from four Nordic central banks and finance ministries held a private meeting in Stockholm on Wednesday to discuss their contributions to a $6bn rescue package for Iceland.

The gathering at the Ministry of Finance was a strong sign that Denmark, Sweden and Finland are drawing closer to announcing a multibillion euro package of loans after Norway agreed a €500m ($648m, £405m) advance last week.

Iceland hopes to be told on Thursday or Friday that its application to the International Monetary Fund for a $2bn (€1.54bn, £1.25bn) loan to support its economic revival has been approved.

Once official approval of the IMF loan has been secured, the way is clear for the Nordic countries to start considering how much they are prepared to offer, central banking officials said.

Iceland is seeking a total of about $6bn, which it will use to bolster its foreign exchange reserves to try to restore the credibility of its currency after its banking system collapsed last month.

The island’s government has also sent an application for funds to the US Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank and has been in contact with the Bank of Japan through its embassy in Tokyo, it said.

The four Nordic nations have said they are willing to support Iceland but only after it agreed to design and implement an economic stabilisation plan in association with the IMF. That plan was agreed in late October and comprises stabilising the Icelandic krona, restoring fiscal sustainability and re-establishing a viable banking system. It should also be approved by the IMF on Thursday or Friday.

The meeting at the finance ministry was attended by Ingimundur Fridriksson, one of three governors of Iceland’s central bank; Audun Gronn, the head of the international department at Norway’s central bank; Barbro Wickman-Parak, deputy governor of Sweden’s Riksbank; and similar level representatives from the central bank and finance ministries of Finland and Denmark.

Any commitment by the Nordic nations to support Iceland alongside the IMF would be an important development as the island strives to stabilise its economy. But securing approval for the loans does not mean that Iceland will have immediate access to the funds. Norway’s loan requires approval from parliament, as would others.

Following the collapse of Iceland’s banking system, its economy is expected to contract up to 10 per cent, unemployment is forecast to spike to about 8 per cent and inflation is set to reach 20 per cent or more, according to economists.

Iceland raised interest rates last week from 12 per cent to a record 18 per cent.

Source

Some European Union member states are said to be of the opinion that Iceland should not be granted a loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) until an agreement with Britain in regards to the deposits of Icelandic banks has been reached.

These same EU member states allegedly also believe that Iceland should not be granted a loan from the union’s emergency fund until the dispute surrounding the deposit accounts has been solved, Fréttabladid reports.

Icelandic Committee Members of Parliament of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) Countries (CMP) said they had been given a clear message in that regard from EU officials during a meeting in Brussels earlier this week.

“I believe that extortion is involved,” said MP for the Left-Greens Árni Thór Sigurdsson, who is on the CMP. “[EU officials] said that a loan from the IMF would not happen unless we reached an agreement with Britain. They have influence in the fund and can set terms like that, which is known as extortion.”

Katrín Júlíusdóttir, an MP for the Social Democrats and chairman for the Icelandic division of the CMP, said Iceland’s representatives on the CMP had pointed out that Iceland intended to respect laws and regulations but that they disagreed with Britain on the interpretation of some legal issues.

Júlíusdóttir said Iceland’s representatives in the committee had also pointed out that there should not be a connection between international financial aid and a dispute on insurance for deposits.

British authorities have offered a loan to the Icelandic state so that Icelandic authorities can honor their obligations to Landsbanki account holders in the UK. However, a prerequisite for such a loan is an agreement with the IMF.

According to Fréttabladid, British Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling emphasized that a loan to Iceland would not be granted otherwise in an interview with the Dow Jones news agency on Monday.

Icelandic banks Landsbanki and Kaupthing, both of which have now been nationalized, accepted deposits through their subsidiaries in some European countries, primarily in the UK and the Netherlands. Landsbanki’s Icesave is an example of such a subsidiary.

Click here to read more about the potential IMF loan and here to read more about the development of the Iceland-Britain dispute.

Source


Published in: on November 6, 2008 at 10:07 am  Comments Off on Iceland lifts interest rates to record 18% to secure IMF $2bn loan  
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Icesave victims are about to get their frozen cash back

November 5 2008

By

About 200,000 Britons whose savings were frozen because of the collapse of Icesave, the internet bank owned by Landsbanki, of Iceland, will be told this week how they will get their money back.

Savers will be sent a letter from the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) explaining that most will be compensated before the end of the month.

Savers have been unable to access their accounts since October 7, when Landsbanki went into receivership in Iceland. The deposits will be paid into savers’ linked bank accounts, which they would have set up at the time that the Icesave account was opened.

The compensation will follow the formal approval by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) of a $2.1 billion (£1.32 billion) two-year loan for Iceland within the next few days, which is expected to restore confidence to the country’s battered banking system.

The Government guaranteed that all deposits held by British retail savers would be returned, even those above the £50,000 limit.

The FSCS said that savers would receive an e-mail this week explaining what is happening. Soon after, another e-mail will be sent containing more details and instructions on how to use a short electronic procedure to complete the transfer.

The process is expected to be phased to manage the flow of payments through the system and for security reasons.

The Government has guaranteed an estimated £4 billion in savings held by the banks but local authorities, charities and police authorities are waiting to learn whether the protection will be extended to cover them.

Separately, the Conservative Party is stepping up the pressure for an independent inquiry into the Government’s handling of the Icelandic financial crisis.

The move follows claims that the Treasury had been secretly monitoring developments for six months before a banking collapse that threatened British savers and local authorities with heavy losses.

Mark Hoban, Shadow Financial Secretary to the Treasury, called for a wide-ranging independent inquiry into the way the Treasury and the Financial Services Authority reacted to the turmoil in the island’s banking business in the lead-up to the decision to intervene and protect retail depositors.

Source

Published in: on November 5, 2008 at 3:05 am  Comments Off on Icesave victims are about to get their frozen cash back  
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Iceland and Norway criticise UK Labour Party for Scotland jibes

November 4 2008

By Alex Elliott
Icelandic officials urged Labour ministers to stop using Iceland’s financial problems to “undermine the case for Scottish independence”, TimesOnline.co.uk reports.

Even top level politicians have got involved in the bitter slanging match. Cameron Buchanan, Iceland’s honorary consul to Scotland believes Labour has been cultivating the impression that Iceland’s banking crisis proves that small countries cannot manage their financial affairs. Buchanan calls such notions “objectionable”. Prime Minister Geir H. Haarde is said to be “incensed”.

“Politicians are using Iceland’s predicament for their own political ends rather than for the benefit of the Scottish and Icelandic people,” he said.

“The comments from UK ministers about Iceland being insolvent and bankrupt are unmerited and they are not helping the already frosty relations between the two countries.”

The issue centres on SNP leader Alex Salmond’s proud assertion over recent years that an independent Scotland could form part of an ‘Arc of Prosperity’ with other northern neighbours, especially Norway and Iceland.

Ministers, including Gordon Brown, have since lined up to ridicule Salmond’s comments. Scottish secretary, Jim Murphy described it as more like an “arc of insolvency”.

The Norwegian government is also said to be angry at the Labour Party’s apparent use of sensitive international matters to score points against domestic political opponents.

Source

Published in: on November 4, 2008 at 7:36 pm  Comments Off on Iceland and Norway criticise UK Labour Party for Scotland jibes  
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Norwegian loan to Iceland confirmed

By Alex Elliott

November 3 2008

Details are emerging that the anticipated Norwegian loan to Iceland will take place.

Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store is in Reykjavik at the moment on an official visit. Following a meeting with Prime Minister Geir H. Haarde today, Store confirmed that a NOK 4 billion (USD 606 million) loan will be extended to Iceland.

The loan will have a maturity of up to five years and the existing currency exchange swap agreement will be extended to the end of 2009.

MBL.is also quotes Norwegian media as saying Norway has offered to mediate in the dispute between Iceland and the United Kingdom over repayments of British savers and the UK government’s controversial reaction to the Iceland crisis.

The news of the Norwegian loan comes after weeks of uncertainty over who will step in to save the Icelandic economy. Despite the IMF agreeing a loan of USD 2 billion, it still has not been officially approved by the board.

The Faroe Islands were the only country to have yet firmly granted Iceland a loan. Sources in Reykjavik hope the Norwegian loan will spur on negotiations with the other Nordic countries and Russia.

Source

Published in: on November 3, 2008 at 7:13 pm  Comments Off on Norwegian loan to Iceland confirmed  
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Prime Minister’s plea on oil prices as he tours the Middle East to secure IMF funding

By Nigel Morris

November 1 2008

Gordon Brown flies out to the Gulf today on a mission to persuade the region’s oil-rich states to help combat the global economic meltdown.

He is expected to meet the leaders of Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates and ask them to pump billions of pounds into the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which is struggling to cope with pleas for help from countries facing collapse in their financial system.

The Prime Minister will also urge them not to cut production in an effort to reverse the slide in oil prices over the past month. The size of the challenge facing the British economy was underlined on the eve of the tour, as Mr Brown was warned that levels of debt and borrowing will climb higher than during the last recession in the early 1990s.

A report by the independent Institute for Fiscal Studies concluded that the Government was going into the recession with a “significantly higher” level of debt than in 1990. Even excluding the cost of nationalising Northern Rock, public sector net debt is due to reach 39.7 per cent of gross domestic product this year and is “very likely” to rise above 46.2 per cent within the next couple of years.

The Prime Minister has sought to emphasise the “global” nature of the economic downturn. Ahead of his latest trip abroad he signalled fears that the $250bn (£155bn) fund available to the IMF to help fragile economies might not be enough to cope with the extent of global downturn. Hungary, Iceland and Ukraine have already agreed emergency loans, while other countries queuing up for help include Belarus, Turkey and – critically for regional security – Pakistan.

Mr Brown believes the IMF’s coffers should be topped up by the rapidly-growing economies of the Gulf region, whose revenues have soared as fuel prices leapt this year. He is also targeting China, which is sitting on large reserves of capital.

The extra cash required by the IMF to counter the international turbulence could amount to hundreds of billions of dollars. But Mr Brown will probably run into opposition in the region, whose leaders have already expressed dismay that they are being asked to tackle a problem that has its roots in the turmoil in the American sub-prime mortgage market.

The Prime Minister will also express his opposition to the decision of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to cut output from today by 1.5 million barrels a day.

The Gulf nations, which produce more than half of the world’s oil, have seen the price of a barrel fall from a high of $147 (£91) in July to below $65 yesterday. The Prime Minister’s spokesman said yesterday: “We recognise over that over the long-term global demand for oil is increasing, so over the long-term price is likely to increase. But what we want to avoid is the sharp increases we have seen in recent months.” Mr Brown is also planning to renew his call on the Gulf states to invest in renewable energy technology.

He is being accompanied by Peter Mandelson, the Business Secretary, and Ed Miliband, the Energy and Climate Change Secretary, and more than 20 business leaders.

During a visit to Edinburgh yesterday, Mr Brown said low interest rates and falling inflation, along with lower national debt than other countries, would help Britain survive the turbulence. “It is the first global crisis that we are having to deal with in this new industrial age where so much is global. I am confident that the opportunities for our economy are great in the years to come.”

The shadow Chancellor, George Osborne, yesterday accused the Prime Minister of trying to “spend his way out of recession” at the risk of exacerbating the downturn and saddling future generations with huge tax increases to combat rising national debt.

In a speech drawing dividing lines between Conservative and Labour approaches to the economic crisis, he denounced Mr Brown as irresponsible for suggesting that the Government can “borrow without limit” to stave off recession.

He said the policy of borrowing more to pay for a state “spending splurge” was “a cruise missile aimed at the heart of the economy”, which could require tax rises equivalent to 4p on income tax. But he was attacked by Labour and Liberal Democrat opponents for being “confused” and “out of his depth” in his analysis.

The credit crisis: Latest developments

*PM to urge Gulf states not to cut oil production as Opec reduces output by 1.5 million barrels a day

*Osborne accuses Brown of trying to ‘spend his way out of a recession’

*Barclays to take £7.3bn from investors in Abu Dhabi and Qatar in bid to maintain bonus packages

*Investors in the Middle East could end up owning as much as one-third of banking giant’s shares

Source

Published in: on November 1, 2008 at 4:03 pm  Comments Off on Prime Minister’s plea on oil prices as he tours the Middle East to secure IMF funding  
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New State-Run Glitnir Bank Established


A new Glitnir, Nýr Glitnir banki hf., has been formally established as announced by the Financial Supervisory Authority (FME) yesterday. The new bank will take over Glitnir’s domestic assets to secure regular banking operations and the safety of deposits in Iceland.

The new bank will not be involved in Glitnir Bank’s international operations, ruv.is reports, but all branches in Iceland, service centers and online banks are open.

The new Glitnir has ISK 110 billion (USD 1.0 billion, EUR 0.7 billion) in equity as submitted by the state. The size of the balance sheet is ISK 1,200 billion (USD 10.9 billion, EUR 8.0 billion).

Birna Einarsdóttir is the new director of the bank. A woman has also been hired as the new director of Landsbanki and the Financial Times commented that women were now responsible for tidying up the mess created by their male colleagues.

Ninety-seven employees of Glitnir Bank were given notice yesterday. Around 500 people have lost their jobs in total at Glitnir and Landsbanki, which were nationalized last week. Earlier reports stated that 500 people at Landsbanki alone would lose their jobs.

Einarsdóttir told RÚV that the salaries of many of Glitnir’s remaining employees, including herself, will be reduced.

It is still unclear how many employees of Kaupthing Bank, which was also taken over by the state last week, will be left unemployed.

Source

Published in: on October 16, 2008 at 7:48 pm  Comments Off on New State-Run Glitnir Bank Established  
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Iceland’s Kaupthing Prepares Lawsuit against Britain


October 16 2008

Representatives of Iceland’s largest bank, Kaupthing, are preparing a lawsuit against British authorities because of the harsh measures the UK took last week—seizing Kaupthing’s assets in the UK—which, Kaupthing claims, drove the bank into bankruptcy.

Kaupthing Bank will demand ISK 100 billion (USD 1.0 billion, EUR 0.7 billion, GBP 0.5 billion) in compensation, RÚV reports.

A group of lawyers from an international law firm are currently in Iceland working with Kaupthing Bank’s representatives to prepare the bank’s case against the British authorities. One of these lawyers is John Jarvis, a highly-respected lawyer in the UK.

“I think it’s safe to say we have formed some initial views. We are surprised that the order that was made, was made pursuant to an act which is commonly known now as the Northern Rock Act 2008,” Jarvis said in an interview with RÚV.

“It seems to be, to us at the moment, outside the purpose of that act that the order was made and there is a possible remedy there for a gain to the English court to have that order declared unlawful,” Jarvis continued.

“We are also looking to see whether there are the civil remedies for damages for such torts under English law as misfeasance in public office and negligence,” Jarvis concluded.

The team of lawyers is hopeful that Kaupthing Bank can win the case. “One can see from the use of the anti-terrorist legislation by the British government against Landsbanki that there was a degree of desperation in their actions last week,” said lawyer Richard Beresford.

“And certainly the language of the British government in relation to Icelandic banks was unfortunate and perhaps betrayed something underneath which was more than one would have thought should be proper behavior by the British government towards one of the major financial institutes in the UK,” Beresford added.

Click here to watch the news item on RÚV and listen to the interviews with Jarvis and Beresford (only available for two weeks from this date) and here to read about a potential lawsuit by Icelandic authorities against the British government.

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Published in: on October 16, 2008 at 7:39 pm  Comments Off on Iceland’s Kaupthing Prepares Lawsuit against Britain  
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