Afghanistan, Heroin, Addiction, Death

Thought it was time to do a post on Heroin.

Seems we have a world wide epidemic now.

The profiteers are happy. Billions of dollars happy.

The addicts and those who have to deal with them, are not so happy.

The farmers who grow it do not make a lot of money, but everyone after them does. They make a fortune. Typical in the profiteering business however.

Troops are busy still Gurading the fields

U.S. Marines with Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 6, patrol through a poppy field during Operation Lariat in the Lui Tal district, Helmand province, Afghanistan, April 16, 2012. The Marines conducted the operation to disrupt enemy logistics and establish a presence in the area. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Ismael E. Ortega/Released)

Nov 5, 2012

$8.8M worth of heroin seized at Toronto airport-22 kg of the drug found in backpacks inside a box

Border services officers at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport noticed a suspicious package unloaded from a plane from Pakistan last week and found 22 kilograms of heroin hidden inside.For the rest of the story go HERE

Nov 5, 2012

Heroin user infected with anthrax in Oxford

2012

Case is the 12th in Europe since June and follows two deaths in Blackpool- For the rest of the story go HERE

Some soldiers are becoming addicts.

Addiction in the Ranks, Soldiers and Heroin

Canada faces flood of Heroin and Addicts

December 12, 2010

Treatment centres in cities around Canada are struggling to cope with a surge of addicts — many younger than ever before — who are hooked on a rising tide of heroin pouring into this country from war-torn Afghanistan.  For the rest of the story go HERE

Mar 12, 2010

By Kevin Hayden

For relatively pure heroin, cultivated and shipped from Afghanistan, the world’s largest supplier of heroin – it would net you $19,923,200 USD PER BARREL.

Now, by the time that hits American and Russian streets…and is cut up and diluted several times, you are looking at roughly $60,000,000 – $80,000,000 US dollars per barrel of heroin.

For the rest of the story go HERE

From 2009

Then we have the Soldiers making sure the poppy fields are safe.

A few pictures as well as reports.

Afghanistan: Troops Guarding the Poppy Fields

CIA, Heroin Still Rule Day in Afghanistan

December 1, 2008

By Victor Thorn

Afghanistan now supplies over 90 percent of the world’s heroin, generating nearly $200 billion in revenue. Since the U.S. invasion on Oct. 7, 2001, opium output has increased 33-fold (to over 8,250 metric tons a year).

The U.S. has been in Afghanistan for over seven years, has spent $177 billion in that country alone, and has the most powerful and technologically advanced military on Earth. GPS tracking devices can locate any spot imaginable by simply pushing a few buttons.

Still, bumper crops keep flourishing year after year, even though heroin production is a laborious, intricate process. The poppies must be planted, grown and harvested; then after the morphine is extracted it has to be cooked, refined, packaged into bricks and transported from rural locales across national borders. To make heroin from morphine requires another 12-14 hours of laborious chemical reactions. Thousands of people are involved, yet—despite the massive resources at our disposal—heroin keeps flowing at record levels.

Common sense suggests that such prolific trade over an extended period of time is no accident, especially when the history of what has transpired in that region is considered. While the CIA ran its operations during the Vietnam War, the Golden Triangle supplied the world with most of its heroin. After that war ended in 1975, an intriguing event took place in 1979 when Zbigniew Brzezinski covertly manipulated the Soviet Union into invading Afghanistan.

Behind the scenes, the CIA, along with Pakistan’s ISI, were secretly funding Afghanistan’s mujahideen to fight their Russian foes. Prior to this war, opium production in Afghanistan was minimal. But according to historian Alfred McCoy, an expert on the subject, a shift in focus took place. “Within two years of the onslaught of the CIA operation in Afghanistan, the Pakistan-Afghanistan borderlands became the world’s top heroin producer.”

Soon,  as Professor Michel Chossudovsky notes, “CIA assets again controlled the heroin trade. As the mujahideen guerrillas seized territory inside Afghanistan, they ordered peasants to plant poppies as a revolutionary tax. Across the border in Pakistan, Afghan leaders and local syndicates under the protection of Pakistan intelligence operated hundreds of heroin laboratories.”

Eventually, the Soviet Union was defeated (their version of Vietnam), and ultimately lost the Cold War. The aftermath, however, proved to be an entirely new can of worms. During his research, McCoy discovered that “the CIA supported various Afghan drug lords, for instance Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. The CIA did not handle heroin, but it did provide its drug lord allies with transport, arms, and political protection.”

By 1994, a new force emerged in the region—the Taliban—that took over the drug trade. Chossudovsky again discovered that “the Americans had secretly, and through the Pakistanis [specifically the ISI], supported the Taliban’s assumption of power.”

These strange bedfellows endured a rocky relationship until July 2000 when Taliban leaders banned the planting of poppies. This alarming development, along with other disagreements over proposed oil pipelines through Eurasia, posed a serious problem for power centers in the West. Without heroin money at their disposal, billions of dollars could not be funneled into various CIA black budget projects. Already sensing trouble in this volatile region, 18 influential neo-cons signed a letter in 1998 which became a blueprint for war—the infamous Project for a New American Century (PNAC).

Fifteen days after 9-11, CIA Director George Tenet sent his top-secret Special Operations Group (SOG) into Afghanistan. One of the biggest revelations in Tenet’s book, At the Center of the Storm, was that CIA forces directed the Afghanistan invasion, not the Pentagon.

In the Jan. 26, 2003, issue of Time magazine, Douglas Waller describes Donald Rumsfeld’s reaction to this development. “When aides told Rumsfeld that his Army Green Beret A-Teams couldn’t go into Afghanistan until the CIA contingent had lain the groundwork with

local warlords, he erupted, ‘I have all these guys under arms, and we’ve got to wait like little birds in a nest for the CIA to let us go in?’”

ARMITAGE A MAJOR PLAYER

But the real operator in Afghanistan was Richard Armitage, a man whose legend includes being the biggest heroin trafficker in Cambodia and Laos during the Vietnam War; director of the State Department’s Foreign Narcotics Control Office (a front for CIA drug dealing); head of the Far East Company (used to funnel drug money out of the Golden Triangle); a close liaison with Oliver North during the Iran-Contra cocaine-for-guns scandal; a primary Pentagon official in the terror and covert ops field under George Bush the Elder; one of the original signatories of the infamous PNAC document; and the man who helped CIA Director William Casey run weapons to the mujahideen during their war against the Soviet Union. Armitage was also stationed in Iran during the mid-1970s right before Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini overthrew the shah. Armitage may well be the greatest covert operator in U.S. history.

On Sept. 10, 2001, Armitage met with the UK’s national security advisor, Sir David Manning. Was Armitage “passing on specific intelligence information about the impending terrorist attacks”? The scenario is plausible because one day later—on 9-11—Dick Cheney directly called for Armitage’s presence down in his bunker. Immediately after WTC 2 was struck, Armitage told BBC Radio, “I was told to go to the operations center [where] I spent the rest of the day in the ops center with the vice president.”

These two share a long history together. Not only was Armitage employed by Cheney’s former company Halliburton (via Brown & Root), he was also a deputy when Cheney was secretary of defense under Bush the Elder. More importantly, Cheney and Armitage had joint business and consulting interests in the Central Asian pipeline which had been contracted by Unocal. The only problem standing between them and the Caspian Sea’s vast energy reserves was the Taliban.

Since the 1980s, Armitage amassed a huge roster of allies in Pakistan’s ISI. He was also one of the “Vulcans”—along with Condi Rice, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, and Rabbi Dov Zakheim—who coordinated Bush’s geo-strategic foreign policy initiatives. Then, after 9-11, he negotiated with the Pakistanis prior to our invasion of Afghanistan, while also becoming Bush’s deputy secretary of state stationed in Afghanistan.

Our “enemy,” or course, was the Taliban “terrorists.” But George Tenet, Colin Powell, Porter Goss, and Armitage had developed a close relationship with Pakistan’s military head of the ISI—General Mahmoud Ahmad— who was cited in a Sept. 2001 FBI report as “supporting and financing the alleged 9-11 terrorists, as well as having links to al Qaeda and the Taliban.”

The line between friend and foe gets even murkier. Afghan President Hamid Karzai not only collaborated with the Taliban, but he was also on Unocal’s payroll in the mid-1990s. He is also described by Saudi Arabia’s Al-Watan newspaper as being  “a Central Intelligence Agency covert operator since the 1980s that collaborated with the CIA in funding U.S. aid to the Taliban.”

Capturing a new, abundant source for heroin was an integral part of the U.S. “war on terror.” Hamid Karzai is a puppet ruler of the CIA; Afghanistan is a full-fledged narco-state; and the poppies that flourish there have yet to be eradicated, as was proven in 2003 when the Bush administration refused to destroy the crops, despite having the chance to do so. Major drug dealers are rarely arrested, smugglers enjoy carte blanche immunity, and Nushin Arbabzadah, writing for The Guardian, theorized that “U.S. Army planes leave Afghanistan carrying coffins empty of bodies, but filled with drugs.” Is that why the military protested so vehemently when reporters tried to photograph returning caskets? Source

A war for drugs.

Afghanistan’s Opium Trail, Documentary.

CBC Passionate Eye

Afghanistan – 10 Years of Failure & Oppression [Documentary]


Afghan children work in a poppy field in the area of Karez-e-Sayyidi, Helmand province, April 2010. REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih

Afghanistan’s Child Drug Addicts

A little History

Secrets of the CIA

“The CIA is a state-sponsored terrorists association. You don’t look at people as human beings. They are nothing but pieces on the chessboard.” — Verne Lyon, former CIA agent in revealing documentary.

The UN Report documents how the world’s deadliest drug has created a market worth $65 billion, catering to 15 million addicts, causing up to 100,000 deaths per year, spreading HIV at an unprecedented rate.

You can thank the US invasion of Afghanistan for the problem.

UN World Drug Report 2012

Here there is a Map on drug use world wide. It was created using the statistics from the UN Report. It is not complete as there is nothing about Heroin use in Canada which of course is wrong, There are Heroin Addicts in Canada. But it does give you a good idea how wide spread the problem is. You can change the type of drug you want to look at on a world wide scale. Choices are Cannabis, Cocaine, Ecstasy, Amphetamines, Opiates/Heroin

Here is another map.

This map Can give a lot of details on Drug seizures.You can segregate by drug.

If you put in Heroin and Opium it is rather interesting.

Better still scroll down a bit and there is another Search you can do. “Search Events”, Try putting in the details you want. You can do it for a certain country and certain dates etc. So I put in Heroin and Opium. I choose dates from 2000 to now. I included all countries. There sure is a lot of Heroin and Opium out there.

I found that the info only goes back to 2009. Even so it is very informative.

The information is only the ones that were caught. So one can only imagine how much more is out there. Odds are there are also many events that are not listed. Finding them all would take  lot of time. Whoever runs the site has done an excellent job however.

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Who Is Behind the 25,000 Deaths In Mexico?

By Charles Bowden and Molly Molloy

July 28, 2010

With at least 25,000 people slaughtered in Mexico since President Felipe Calderón hurled the Mexican Army into the anti-cartel battle, three questions remain unanswered: Who is being killed, who is doing the killing and why are people being killed? This is apparently considered a small matter to US leaders in the discussions about failed states, narco-states and the false claim that violence is spilling across the border.

President Calderón has stated repeatedly that 90 percent of the dead are connected to drug organizations. The United States has silently endorsed this statement and is bankrolling it with $1.4 billion through Plan Mérida, the three-year assistance plan passed by the Bush administration in 2008. Yet the daily torrent of local press accounts from Ciudad Juárez makes it clear that most of the murder victims are ordinary Mexicans who magically morph into drug cartel members before their blood dries on the streets, sidewalks, vacant lots, pool halls and barrooms where they fall dead, riddled with bullets. Juárez is ground zero in this war: more than one-fourth of the 25,000 dead that the Mexican government admits to since December 2006 have occurred in this one border city of slightly over 1.5 million people, nearly 6,300 as of July 21, 2010. When three people attached to the US Consulate in Ciudad Juárez were killed in March this year, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the murders “the latest horrible reminder of how much work we have to do together.”

Just what is this work?

No one seems to know, but on the ground it is death. Calderón’s war, assisted by the United States, terrorizes the Mexican people, generates thousands of documented human rights abuses by the police and Mexican Army and inspires lies told by American politicians that violence is spilling across the border (in fact, it has been declining on the US side of the border for years).

We are told of a War on Drugs that has no observable effect on drug distribution, price or sales in the United States. We are told the Mexican Army is incorruptible, when the Mexican government’s own human rights office has collected thousands of complaints that the army robs, kidnaps, steals, tortures, rapes and kills innocent citizens. We are told repeatedly that it is a war between cartels or that it is a war by the Mexican government against cartels, yet no evidence is presented to back up these claims. The evidence we do have is that the killings are not investigated, that the military suffers almost no casualties and that thousands of Mexicans have filed affidavits claiming abuse, often lethal, by the Mexican army.

Here is the US policy in a nutshell: we pay Mexicans to kill Mexicans, and this slaughter has no effect on drug shipments or prices.

This war gets personal. A friend calls late at night from Juárez and says if he is murdered before morning, be sure to tell his wife. It never occurs to him to call the police, nor does it occur to you.

A friend who is a Mexican reporter flees to the United States because the Mexican Army has come to his house and plans to kill him for writing a news story that displeases the generals. He is promptly thrown into prison by the Department of Homeland Security because he is considered a menace to American society.

On the Mexican side, a mother, stepfather and pregnant daughter are chased down on a highway in the Valle de Juárez, and shot in their car, while two toddlers watch. On the US side, a man receives a phone call and his father tells him, “I’m dying, I’m dying, I’m dead.” He hears his sister pleading for her life, “Don’t kill me. No don’t kill me.” He thinks his niece and nephew are dead also, but they are taken to a hospital, sprayed with shattered glass. The little boy watched his mother die, her head blown apart by the bullets. A cousin waits in a parking lot surrounded by chainlink and razor-wire on the US side of the bridge for the bodies to be delivered so that he can bring them home. The next day, the family takes to the parking lots of two fast-food outlets in their hometown of Las Cruces, New Mexico, for a carwash. Young girls in pink shorts and T-shirts wave hand-lettered signs. They will wash your car and accept donations to help bury their parents and sister, to buy clothes for two small orphans. “This was just a family,” says cousin Cristina, collecting donations in a zippered bag. She says they are in shock, the full impact of what happened has yet to sink in. So for now, they will raise the money they need to take care of the children. An American family.

Or, you visit the room where nine people were shot to death in August 2008 as they raised their arms to praise God during a prayer meeting. Forty hours later, flies buzz over what lingers in cracks in the tile floor and bloody handprints mark the wall. This was the scene of the first of several mass killings at drug rehab centers where at least fifty people have been massacred over the past two years in Juárez and Chihuahua City. An evangelical preacher who survived the slaughter that night said she saw a truckload of soldiers parked at the end of the street a hundred yards from the building and that the automatic rifle fire went on for fifteen minutes.

Or you talk with a former member of the Juárez cartel who is shocked to learn of a new cabinet appointment by President Calderón because he says he used to deliver suitcases of money to the man as payment from the Juárez cartel.

The claim that ninety percent of the dead are criminals seems at best to be self-delusion. In June 2010, El Universal, a major daily in Mexico City, noted that the federal government had investigated only 5 percent of the first 22,000 executions, according to confidential material turned over to the Mexican Senate by the Mexican Attorney General. What constituted an investigation was not explained.

On June 21, Cronica, another Mexico City paper, presented a National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) study that examined more than 5,000 complaints filed by Mexican citizens against the army. Besides incidents of rape, murder, torture, kidnapping and robbery, the report described scenes like the following: “June 1, 2007, in the community of La Joya de los Martinez, Sinaloa de Leyva: Members of the Army were camped at the edge of the highway, drinking alcoholic beverages. Two of them were inebriated and probably under the influence of some drug. They opened fire against a truck that drove along the road carrying eight members of the Esparza Galaviz family. One adult and two minors died…The soldiers arranged sacks of decomposing marijuana on the vehicle that had been attacked and killed one of their own soldiers, whose body was arranged at the crime scene to indicate that the civilian drivers had been the aggressors and had killed the soldier.”

The CNDH also names the army as responsible for the shooting deaths of Martin and Brayan Almanza Salazar, aged 9 and 5, on April 3, 2010, as they traveled to the beach in Matamoros with their family. The only thing noteworthy about these cases is that they ever became public knowledge. Many more victims and survivors remain silent—afraid to report what has happened to them to any Mexican official or news reporter.

Such incidents pass unnoticed in the US press and apparently do not capture the attention of our government. Nor does the fact that in the midst of what is repeatedly called a war against drug cartels by both the American and Mexican governments and press, Mexican soldiers seem immune to bullets. With over 8,000 Mexicans killed in 2009 alone, the army reported losses of thirty-five that year. According to Reporters Without Borders, a total of sixty-seven journalists have been killed in Mexico since 2000, while eleven others have gone missing since 2003. Mexico is now one of the most dangerous places in the world to be reporter. And possibly the safest place in the world to be a soldier.

When there is a noteworthy massacre, the Mexican government says it proves the drug industry is crumbling. When there is a period of relative peace, the Mexican government says it shows their policy is winning. On the night of July 15, a remote-controlled car bomb exploded in downtown Juárez, killing at least three people—a federal policeman, a kidnap victim dressed in a police uniform and used as a decoy and a physician who rushed to the scene from his private office to help dozens of people injured in the blast. A graffiti message attributed the blast to the Juárez cartel and claimed it as a warning to police who work for the Sinaloa cartel.

On July 20, the Mexican ambassador to the United States, Arturo Sarukhan, minimized the Juárez bombing, saying that it was not aimed indiscriminately at civilians and that it did not indicate any escalation in violence. He parroted the declaration of Mexican Attorney General Arturo Chávez that the motivation for the bombing is economic, not ideological, and that “we have no evidence in the country of narco-terrorism.” US Ambassador to Mexico Carlos Pascual also indicated that this violence in Mexico, which also included a grenade attack on the US Consulate in Nuevo Laredo a few months ago, “is disturbing but has not reached the level of terrorism.” We are supposed to believe in their evidence that 90 percent of the dead are criminals, but that they have no evidence at all of narco-terrorism? This, despite numerous incidents of grenades and other explosives being used in recent attacks in the states of Michoacan, Nuevo Leon, Tamaulipas, Guerrero, Sonora and many other places in Mexico. And that “armed commandos” dressed like soldiers and wielding high-powered machine guns are witnessed at the scenes of hundreds of massacres documented since 2008.

No one asks or answers this question: How does such an escalation benefit the drug smuggling business which has not been diminished at all during the past three years of hyper-violence in Mexico? Each year, the death toll rises, each year there is no evidence of any disruption in the delivery of drugs to American consumers, each year the United States asserts its renewed support for this war. And each year, the basic claims about the war go unquestioned.

Let us make this simple: no one knows how many are dying, no one knows who is killing them and no one knows what role the drug industry has in these killings. There has been no investigation of the dead and so no one really knows whether they were criminals or why they died. There have been no interviews with heads of drug organizations and so no one really knows what they are thinking or what they are trying to accomplish.

It is difficult to have a useful discussion without facts, but it seems to be very easy to make policy without facts. We can look forward to fewer facts and more unquestioned and unsubstantiated government claims. Such as the response by General Felipe de Jesús Espitia, commander of the Joint Operation Chihuahua, to a 2008 report by El Diario de Juárez that one out of three Juárez citizens believed the army occupation of the city had accomplished little or nothing. “Those who feel this way, it is because their interests are affected or because they are paid by the narco-traffickers,” he said. “Who are these citizens?”

General Jorge Juárez Loera, the first commander of the Joint Operation Chihuahua, put it this way: “I would like to see reporters change their articles and instead of writing about one more murder victim, they should say, ‘one less criminal.’ ” Source

So who is behind the murder of these people the US and Mexican Governments. This is just a way to terrorize the Mexican people. There is no war on Drugs it is just a fabricated bunch of crap used to kill people.  If there was a real war on drugs do you think the US soldiers would be guarding the poppy field in Afghanistan.  People, drugs on the streets are good for governments, drugged up people are easier to manipulate. It also gives the governments scape goats to use to steal more tax dollars for scrupulous purposes.  The money is then used for well obviously the Military, in other words war. Profits are made from the sale of weapons etc etc.

The so called drug war is a scam. Always was and always will be. How much you want to bet a lot or all of the money used for the Mexican Military is spent in the US. Weapons manufacturers benefit from Mexico’s fake drug war.  US tax dollars again making Americas rich, richer.

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Published in: on July 30, 2010 at 3:23 am  Comments Off on Who Is Behind the 25,000 Deaths In Mexico?  
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Paulson and Co. made a $3.7 billion profit on collapse of subprime mortgage market

The Firm Not Charged in Goldman Case Made Billions on Collapse

By Marisa Taylor

April 18 2010

WASHINGTON – New York hedge fund manager John Paulson was one of the first to predict the collapse of the subprime mortgage market – and to cash in on his knowledge.

By late 2005, he already had concluded that the subprime loans underlying high-yield bonds being sold worldwide would become worthless, even as some Wall Street firms were still ramping up their sale of related securities.

“We determined …that there was a complete mispricing of risk of mortgage securities,” Paulson testified at a congressional hearing in November 2008.

As a result, his firm, Paulson & Co., made a $3.7 billion profit by betting against the housing market as it nose dived in 2006 and 2007. On Friday, the Securities and Exchange Commission disclosed that $1 billion of those profits came in an insider deal in which Goldman Sachs allegedly let the company select subprime securities for a complicated offshore deal and then bet on their failure.

Paulson & Co., which was founded in 1994, manages funds that are open only to “qualified purchasers” – individual investors with $5 million in assets to invest or institutions with at least $25 million to invest. In 2004, the company registered with the SEC as an investment adviser.

The company was able to anticipate the losses because Paulson’s researchers looked at the underlying home loans, Paulson told Congress. Paulson realized they were comprised of risky mortgages – some of which were made with 100 percent financing.

Even worse, he testified, mortgages were given to borrowers who had a history of poor credit, had no verified income or whose appraisal that was typically inflated.

“It was that analysis that allowed us to buy protection on these securities, which resulted in large gains for our funds,” he said.

SEC officials said Friday that Paulson was not charged in the Goldman case because the company did not mislead investors.

In a statement, the company pointed to the SEC’s statements, saying, “Paulson is not the subject of this complaint, made no misrepresentations and is not the subject of any charges.”

The company declined to respond to questions.

Several media outlets reported Friday that former Paulson co-manager Paolo Pellegrini was cooperating with the investigation and provided the SEC with crucial information that led to the Goldman charges.

A spokeswoman for Pellegrini, who left to start his own fund, didn’t immediately comment. Source

Who was IKB, the German bank on the losing end of John Paulson’s Abacus bet?

Mike O’Rourke of BTIG explains, and points out why they’re pissed as hell about the bubble bursting.

One of the “victims” of this alleged fraud is IKB, a bank.  If any institution should know how to analyze credit, it’s a bank.  Even worse is that IKB is one of these serial carry-traders who purchased these types of instruments for the Structured Investment Vehicles and floated paper in the Asset Backed Commercial Paper market against them borrowing short and lending long (see chart).  Those are the institutions that truly put the system at risk.

Finally, in this scenario, the “independent” third party portfolio selection agent claimed to be unsure of the client’s intentions.  It should not matter what the related party’s views or intentions are, whether long or short.  The fact is the agent’s very job description is to be unbiased and independent.  Instead, just like the ratings agencies, the collateral managers saw the profits that loomed rather than performing the task at hand.  If ACA had simply performed its task of comprehensively and independently evaluating the underlying RMBS, the deal would not have happened.  It is hard to believe they did not know the intentions for the pool when the higher quality subprime RMBS were replaced.  In addition, if AAA ratings were not handed out to everyone who applied, this deal (like so many others) would not have been done.

The chart says it all.

Source

Related

John Paulson Should Be Kicked Out Of The Securities Industry For Life

John Paulson Needs A Good Lawyer

There is information on the Financial and housing collapse in the 2008 Archives. From September 2008 on.

Indexed List of all Stories in Archives

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Published in: on April 18, 2010 at 6:53 am  Comments Off on Paulson and Co. made a $3.7 billion profit on collapse of subprime mortgage market  
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Tony Blair’s attempt to keep his Iraqi Oil Profits a secret

Tony-gate: Blair Strikes Oil in Iraq

By Jayne Lyn Stahl

March 26, 2010

Here in the States when someone mentions “UI,” most of us think of Unemployment Insurance, but not former UK prime minister Tony Blair.

Late last week came word of a major scandal from the UK Daily Mail. In the three years since he stepped down as prime minister, Blair pocketed more than $30 million in oil revenues from his secret dealings with a South Korean oil consortium, UI Energy Corporation. Despite all his best efforts to keep his connection to UI secret, word is spreading like wildfire throughout the U.K.

Now, you might ask, that he’s no longer in government and has his own company, Blair Associates, why would anyone care what his business dealings are? Well, for openers, Mr. Blair is also the West’s envoy to the Middle East. Of concern to British politicians, too, is that a former prime minister has been stone cold silent about being on the payroll of an immense multinational oil corporation, specializing in oil exploration in Iraq, and one that coincidentally happens to find itself in another challenging part of the globe.

Not surprisingly, Mr. Blair isn’t the only prominent politician on UI’s payroll. Others reportedly include former Australian prime minister Bob Hawke, as well as politicians like Congressman Stephen J. Solarz, former secretary of defense Frank Carlucci, former ambassador to Egypt, Nicholas A. Belites, and U.S. Commander for the Middle East General John P. Abizaid. And, these are just the ones who acknowledge any association with the oil conglommerate.

Two-time presidential candidate, Ross Perot, is listed on UI Energy Corp.’s Web site as part of their extended family. One wonders if there are any other presidents, or presidential candidates, who may have been considered family by the South Korean oil firm.

While they’ve only been around for about twenty years, it didn’t take UI long to come up to speed. A message from the company’s president, posted to their Web site, says they are interested in “development of overseas resources such as the Middle East and Africa. Especially, Iraq where various Energy (sic) developments are expected.”

UI is now considered among the largest investors in Iraq’s oil rich Kurdistan region, which is said to have obtained a modicum of autonomy since the Iraq war.

Some argue that Blair is benefiting hugely from the connections he made during the Iraq war, but maybe it’s the other way around. More likely, the decision to collaborate with the U.S. on military adventurism in Iraq was on account of connections already in place by then leaders of both countries.

Blair worked hard to prevent disclosures of what is alleged to have been only a three year relationship with the South Korean oil firm, but it’s not inconceivable that his relationship with UI Energy Corp. precedes his departure as prime minister. It’s also quite conceivable that his dedication to keeping this matter confidential was meant to protect other international political figures besides himself.

As the UK Daily Mail notes, “The secrecy is particularly odd because UI Energy is fond of boasting of its foreign political advisors.” Who else may be found to be among UI’s secret foreign political advisors?

Importantly, it is one thing to consult with a firm that acknowledges resource “development” in Iraq when one is envoy to the Middle East. Yes, that may well be conflict of interest, but multiply that conflict of interest exponentially should evidence emerge of his dalliance with UI Energy while he was acting prime minister.

Clearly, the Blair scandal calls into question the exact nature of the alliance between two central figures, and engineers of the Iraq war; then UK prime minister, Tony Blair, and an American president, George W. Bush.

Source

Blair’s fight to keep his oil cash secret: Former PM’s deals are revealed as his earnings since 2007 reach £20million

By Jason Groves
March 19 2010

Tony Blair waged an extraordinary two-year battle to keep secret a lucrative deal with a multinational oil giant which has extensive interests in Iraq.

The former Prime Minister tried to keep the public in the dark over his dealings with South Korean oil firm UI Energy Corporation.

Mr Blair – who has made at least £20million since leaving Downing Street in June 2007 – also went to great efforts to keep hidden a £1million deal advising the ruling royal family in Iraq’s neighbour Kuwait.

In an unprecedented move, he persuaded the committee which vets the jobs of former ministers to keep details of both deals from the public for 20 months, claiming it was commercially sensitive. The deals emerged yesterday when the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments finally lost patience with Mr Blair and decided to ignore his objections and publish the details.

Click on pic to enlarge

News of the secret deals fuelled fresh accusations that Mr Blair is ‘cashing in on his contacts’ from the controversial Iraq war in what one MP called ‘revolving door politics at its worst’.

They will increase concerns that Mr Blair is using his role as the West’s Middle East envoy for personal gain.

The revelations also shed fresh light on his astonishing earnings, which include lucrative after-dinner speaking, consultancies with banks and foreign governments, a generous advance for his forthcoming memoirs, as well as the pension and other perks he enjoys as a former Prime Minister.

Critics also point out that a large proportion of his earnings comes from patrons in America and the Middle East – a clear benefit from forging a close alliance with George Bush during his invasion of Iraq.

Last night Tory MP Douglas Carswell said of Mr Blair’s links to UI Energy Corporation: ‘This doesn’t just look bad, it stinks.

‘It seems that the former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom has been in the pay of a very big foreign oil corporation and we have been kept in the dark about it.

‘Even now we do not know what he was paid or what the company got out of it. We need that information now.

‘This is revolving door politics at its worst. It’s not as if Mr Blair has even stepped back from politics, because he is still politically active in the Middle East.

‘I’m afraid I have no confidence at all in the committee that vets these appointments. It’s no good telling us these deals may be commercially sensitive – we are talking about the appointment of our former Prime Minister and the public interest, rather than any commercial interests, must come first.’

Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker said: ‘These revelations show that our former Prime Minister is for sale – he is driven by making as much money as possible.

‘I think many people will find it deeply insensitive that he is apparently cashing in on his contacts from the Iraq war to make money for himself.’

The committee said yesterday that Mr Blair had taken a paid job advising a consortium of investors led by UI Energy in August 2008. The exact nature of the deal is unknown, but UI Energy is one of the biggest investors in Iraq’s oil-rich Kurdistan region, which became semi-autonomous in the wake of the Iraq war.

Mr Blair’s fee has not been disclosed but is likely to have run into hundreds of thousands of pounds.

The decision to keep the deals secret will fuel concerns about the effectiveness of the committee, which has been repeatedly criticised for its failure to halt the revolving door between politics and industry. The committee is supposed to ease public concerns about former public servants using their contacts for private gain.

Ministers have to have all jobs vetted within two years of leaving office. But the committee is packed with former politicians and Whitehall grandees and is thought never to have banned a former minister or senior civil servant from taking up a lucrative job in the private sector.

Earlier this month the Government quietly rejected calls for the committee to be beefed up with more figures from outside the world of politics.

Gordon Brown has so far refused to answer questions about whether Mr Blair’s arrangements breach his responsibilities under the ministerial code.

A spokesman for Mr Blair said last night: ‘Mr Blair gave a one-off piece of advice in respect of a project for UI Energy in August 2008.

‘He sought, and received, approval from the Committee on Business Appointments before undertaking this project.

‘It was UI Energy who requested of the committee that they delay public announcement, for reasons of market sensitivity.’

Source

You don’t want to know what I am thinking, really you don’t?

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How the mobile phone in your pocket is helping to pay for the civil war in Congo

By Mike Pflanz
November 8 2008

One hundred feet beneath the green slope of a steep hill in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, a man lying flat on his front in a narrow tunnel chips at a rock face with a hammer and chisel.
After two hours, drenched in sweat, he tugs on a cord tied to his waist and is pulled back to the surface, carrying with him a 30 kilogram sack of raw columbium-tantalite ore.

Few people have heard of this rare mineral, known as coltan, even though millions of people in the developed world rely on it. But global demand for the mineral, and a handful of other materials used in everything from cellphones to soup tins, is keeping the armies of Congo’s ceaseless wars fighting.

More than 80 per cent of the world’s coltan is in Africa, and 80 percent of that lies in territory controlled by Congo’s various ragtag rebel groups, armed militia and its corrupt and underfunded national army.

Despite Friday’s ceasefire summit in the Kenyan capital Nairobi, and visits to Congo by earnest international politicians and diplomats, there will be no peace until the economic forces driving the conflict are addressed, experts warn.

“Until now, this question has been avoided on the basis that it is too sensitive or could derail peace talks,” said Patrick Alley, director of Global Witness, a British charity which has investigated the militarisation of Congo’s mineral trade.

“That is a short-sighted view. If international dialogues continue to ignore this critical aspect of the conflict, they will not find long-term solutions.”

In Congo’s North Kivu province, scene of the current bloody conflict, the supply chain that links the sweating miner to the mobile telephone in your pocket starts around Masisi district, the rebel-held area 110 miles northeast of the provincial capital, Goma.

Back up on the surface again, the miner hands his sack of ore to his shift boss, who pays him less than a dollar per kilogramme. Some mines also use child labour, often for no pay at all.

The rocks are then packed into even heavier 50kg loads and passed to porters, who hoist them on to their backs and set off, in flip flops or Wellington boots, for the two-day walk through the mountains to the town of Walikale.

There, the ore is sold once again, now for just over a dollar a kilogramme, to a middleman known as a negociant. He consolidates several loads and calls in an aircraft to land at the town’s grass airstrip, collect the rocks and fly them to Goma.

Dotted across Goma, behind high walls and locked gates, there are hundreds of small-scale traders called comptoirs. Men in dusty overalls sit with large piles of rocks in front of them, using a trained eye to scan scan for the chunks likely to yield the best-quality product, samples of which they then grind to assess its coltan purity and how much to pay the negociant accordingly. In an office to the rear, the comptoir director sits in front of his laptop, scanning coltan and cassiterite prices on the internet site of the London Metal Exchange.

“Things have progressed a bit today because we are able to see what is the best price instantly, rather than having to guess as we did before the internet,” said Joseph Nzanzu, a comptoir director in Goma.

“But still the process, the negociants, how they come to us with the ore, how we grade it and argue over the price, this is the way it has been for decades.”

Gathering hundreds of kilogrammes together, the comptoir loads the ore on to trucks which set off for Mombasa on Kenya’s Indian Ocean coast, five days’ hard driving away through Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya.

From here, cargo ships carry the coltan to processing plants in the Far East, although it is also traded as a commodity on the London Metal Exchange and in Belgium, Congo’s former colonial power. The ore, still hunks of rock just as it was when it came out of the mine, is ground down and refined to extract tantalum, a heat resistant powder which is sold to firms making the capacitors which are found in mobile telephones and other electrical devices.

Finally, the equipment manufacturers buy the capacitors, without which their goods would not work. From North and South Kivu, a total of 428 metric tonnes of coltan was exported in 2007, according to the provincial ministry of mines, worth around £2 million. But these figures are notoriously inaccurate, and take no account of illegally smuggled minerals, likely to make up almost as much again.

There is nothing illegal in buying or using coltan, despite concerns that some of profits from the trade in the Congo helps fund its myriad armed groups. All of the big electronics manufacturers say that they make every effort to ensure that the components in their products are from legitimate mines, either in Congo or in other coltan-producing countries including Brazil and Argentina.

But in Congo’s anarchic environment, it is impossible for customers to know for sure that the tantalum in their mobile phone, DVD player, PlayStation or desktop computer did not come from a rebel-held mine. Buyers say that ore from these mines is mixed with that from legitimate mines, and they cannot tell which is which. There is no equivalent of the Kimberley Process, the international system which certifies that diamonds are from conflict-free areas.

The links between Congo’s vast riches and its blood-stained history stretch back to the Belgian colonial era, when King Leopold II forced labourers onto his rubber plantations and ordered his agents to chop off the hands of workers who failed to fulfil their harvest quotas.

But throughout the latter half of the 1990s and the beginning of this decade, as Congo descended into two wars, its mineral wealth began directly to stoke its conflict. At the height of a coltan price boom in 2001, the UN estimated that rebel groups were earning $20 million a month from mineral exploitation, though the market price has since fallen.

A 2003 United Nations investigation into the illegal exploitation of natural resources accused both Rwanda and Uganda of prolonging their armed incursions into Congo in order to continue their plunder. Peace was supposed to have come to the region that year. But in the east, the rebels and armed militia remained and proliferated, extending their reach into the mines opened by a series of state mining companies and then abandoned as war swept the country.

Today, these armed groups earn their money either by directly controlling the mines themselves, or by taxing lorries as they pass through their territories. Alongside them, Congo’s own army runs various mines and its officers pocket the profits.

There have been calls for an international embargo of the trade in the country’s minerals. But that would only hurt its poorest citizens, who have little else to do to earn money, said Mr Nzanzu.

Instead, according to Mr Alley of Global Witness, buyers must double efforts to ensure that they do not trade in any mineral tainted by contact with any of Congo’s armed groups.

“For as long as there are buyers who are willing to trade, directly or indirectly, with groups responsible for grave human rights abuses, there is no incentive for these groups to lay down their arms,” he said.

“It is not acceptable for buyers to claim they do not or cannot know where the minerals come from. They have a responsibility to find out exactly where the minerals were produced and by whom.

“If there is any likelihood that they have passed through the hands of armed groups or army units, they should refuse to buy them.”

Source
3,000 more peacekeepers needed in Congo: UN chief
Congo ‘worst place’ to be woman or child

Published in: on November 13, 2008 at 1:01 am  Comments Off on How the mobile phone in your pocket is helping to pay for the civil war in Congo  
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Congress Grew 13 Percent Richer In 2007

Times are tough, but don’t worry about most members of Congress making ends meet.

Their collective wealth grew by 13 percent last year, leaving them in better shape than most Americans to make it through an economic downturn, according to a new analysis of personal financial reports.

Overall, nearly two of every three senators are millionaires. That includes presidential candidates Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill. In the House, 39 percent of all members belong to the exclusive club.

Only 1 percent of all Americans are considered millionaires.

“With a median net worth of $746,000, most members of Congress have a comfortable financial cushion to ride out any recession,” said Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, which conducted the study.

In the House of Representatives, Rep. Jane Harman, D-Calif., ranks No. 1, with $397 million, followed by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., with $343 million. Rep Robin Hayes, R-N.C., ranks third, with $173.4 million. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., ranks sixth, with $62 million.

In the Senate, the two Democrats from Massachusetts claimed two of the top three spots.

Sen. John Kerry led the pack, with $336 million, while Sen. Edward M. Kennedy ranked third, with $104 million. Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wis., ranked second, with $241.5 million. Overall, senators had a median net worth estimated at $1.7 million.

The 535 members of Congress, who earn average annual salaries of $169,000 and receive cost-of-living pay increases, had a total net worth of $3.7 billion last year. Although some are likely to take a hit from Wall Street’s woes, their average net worth soared by 61 percent from 2004 to 2007.

However, not all members are wealthy and some appear to be bankrupt. The study found that 16 House members and three senators had an average net worth of less than zero.

Obama ranked as one of the biggest financial winners, with his net worth increasing from $800,000 in 2006 to $4.7 million last year, thanks mainly to royalties from his two best-selling books. McCain had a net worth estimated at $28.5 million, with most of the wealth attributed to his wife Cindy’s family fortune.

Authors of the study said it’s impossible to give a precise net worth for members of Congress because their individual assets and liabilities are disclosed in broad ranges. To conduct the study, the Center for Responsive Politics determined a member’s minimum net worth and maximum net worth and then calculated an average, which was used to rank the members.

Because the law does not require them to do so, members of Congress don’t disclose the value of their homes unless they produce income. As a result, a member’s true net worth is likely to be much higher than what gets reported.

“Members of Congress don’t make it easy for the public to keep tabs on their personal holdings and any conflicts of interest those holdings present,” said Dan Auble, who manages the center’s database of lawmakers’ financial information.

Who’s the wealthiest of them all?

A new study suggests that members of Congress are in much better shape than most Americans to make it through an economic slowdown.

Here’s a list of the members who had the highest average net worth last year:

Senate

1 John Kerry (D-Mass.)……..$336,224,883

2 Herb Kohl (D-Wis.)……..$241,545,513

3 Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.)……..$103,560,020

4 Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.)……..$93,715,011

5 Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.)……..$89,509,099

6 Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.)……..$84,171,162

7 Gordon Smith (R-Ore.)……..$46,127,014

8 Olympia Snowe (R-Maine)……..$33,308,537

9 Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.)……..$32,428,089

10 Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C.)……..$31,421,472

House of Representatives

1 Jane Harman (D-Calif.)……..$397,412,077

2 Darrell Issa (R-Calif.)……..$343,457,521

3 Robin Hayes (R-N.C.)……..$173,409,173

4 Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.)……..$165,748,714

5 Michael McCaul (R-Texas)……..$64,073,077

6 Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)……..$62,468,047

7 Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.)……..$50,297,547

8 Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.)……..$47,350,092

9 Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.)……..$43,716,445

10 Gary Miller (R-Calif.)……..$39,978,021

From Center for Responsive Politics

Source

This site is also rather interesting

Open Secrets

Published in: on November 1, 2008 at 5:46 pm  Comments Off on Congress Grew 13 Percent Richer In 2007  
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Who profits from WAR?

Who profited from the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Not only do Contractors profit of course but, someone else profits quit splendidly form their contracts.

A little History lesson just in case anyone has forgotten.

When you got to Vote make sure the one you are voting for isn’t like Dick Cheney.

Ask questions, Demand answers. There are already to many profiteers in the White House.


Halliburton Makes a Killing on Iraq War

Cheney’s Former Company Profits from Supporting Troops
by Pratap Chatterjee,
March 20th, 2003

As the first bombs rain down on Baghdad, CorpWatch has learned that thousands of employees of Halliburton, Vice President Dick Cheney’s former

company, are working alongside US troops in Kuwait and Turkey under a package deal worth close to a billion dollars. According to US Army sources, they are building tent cities and providing logistical support for the war in Iraq in addition to other hot spots in the “war on terrorism.”

While recent news coverage has speculated on the post-war reconstruction gravy train that corporations like Halliburton stand to gain from, this latest information indicates that Halliburton is already profiting from war time contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Cheney served as chief executive of Halliburton until he stepped down to become George W. Bush’s running mate in the 2000 presidential race. Today he still draws compensation of up to a million dollars a year from the company, although his spokesperson denies that the White House helped the company win the contract.

In December 2001, Kellogg, Brown and Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton, secured a 10-year deal known as the Logistics Civil Augmentation Program (LOGCAP), from the Pentagon. The contract is a “cost-plus-award-fee, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity service” which basically means that the federal government has an open-ended mandate and budget to send Brown and Root anywhere in the world to run military operations for a profit.

Linda Theis, a public affairs officer for the U.S. Army Field Support Command in Rock Island Arsenal, Illinois, confirmed for Corpwatch that Brown and Root is also supporting operations in Afghanistan, Djibouti, Georgia, Jordan and Uzbekistan.

“Specific locations along with military units, number of personnel assigned, and dates of duration are considered classified,” she said. “The overall anticipated cost of task orders awarded since contract award in December 2001 is approximately $830 million.”

Kuwait

The current contract in Kuwait began in September 2002 when Joyce Taylor of the U.S. Army Materiel Command’s Program Management Office, arrived to supervise approximately 1,800 Brown and Root employees to set up tent cities that would provide accommodation for tens of thousands of soldiers and officials.

Army officials working with Brown and Root says the collaboration is helping cut costs by hiring local labor at a fraction of regular Army salaries. “We can quickly purchase building materials and hire third-country nationals to perform the work. This means a small number of combat-service-support soldiers are needed to support this logistic aspect of building up an area,” says Lt. Col. Rod Cutright, the senior LOGCAP planner for all of Southwest Asia.

During the past few weeks, these Brown and Root employees have helped transform Kuwait into an armed camp, to support some 80,000 foreign troops, roughly the equivalent of 10% of Kuwait’s native born population.

Most of these troops are now living in the tent cities in the rugged desert north of Kuwait City, poised to invade Iraq. Some of the encampments are named after the states associated with the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 — Camp New York, Camp Virginia and Camp Pennsylvania.

The headquarters for this effort is Camp Arifjan, where civilian and military employees have built a gravel terrace with plastic picnic tables and chairs, surrounded by a gymnasium in a tent, a PX and newly arrived fast food outlets such as Burger King, Subway and Baskin-Robbins, set up in trailers or shipping containers. Basketball hoops and volleyball nets are set up outside the mess hall.

Turkey

North of Iraq approximately 1,500 civilians are working for Brown and Root and the United States military near the city of Adana, about an hour’s drive inland from the Mediterranean coast of central Turkey, where they support approximately 1,400 US soldiers staffing Operation Northern Watch’s Air Force F-15 Strike Eagles and F-16 Fighting Falcons monitoring the no-fly zone above the 36th parallel in Iraq.

The jet pilots are catered and housed at the Incirlik military base seven miles outside the city by a company named Vinnell, Brown and Root (VBR), a joint venture between Brown and Root and Vinnell corporation of Fairfax, Virginia, under a contract that was signed on October 1, 1988, which also includes two more minor military sites in Turkey: Ankara and Izmir.

The joint venture’s latest contract, which started July 1, 1999 and will expire in September 2003, was initially valued at $118 million. US Army officials confirm that Brown and Root has been awarded new and additional contracts in Turkey in the last year to support the “war on terrorism” although they refused to give any details.

“We provide support services for the United States Air Force in areas of civil engineering, motor vehicles transportation, in the services arena here – that includes food service operations, lodging, and maintenance of a golf course. We also do US customs inspection,” explained VBR site manager Alex Daniels, who has worked at Incirlik for almost 15 years.

Cheap labor is also the primary reason for outsourcing services, says Major Toni Kemper, head of public affairs at the base. “The reason that the military goes to contracting is largely because it’s more cost effective in certain areas. I mean there was a lot of studies years ago as to what services can be provided via contractor versus military personnel. Because when we go contract, we don’t have to pay health care and all the another things for the employees, that’s up to the employer.”

Soon after the contract was signed Incirlik provided a major staging post for thousands of sorties flown against Iraq and occupied Kuwait during the Gulf war in January 1991 dropping over 3,000 tons of bombs on military and civilian targets.

Central Asian Contracts

Still ongoing is the first LOGCAP contract in the “war on terrorism” which began in June 2002, when Brown and Root was awarded a $22 million deal to run support services at Camp Stronghold Freedom, located at the Khanabad air base in central Uzbekistan. Khanabade is one of the main US bases in the Afghanistan war that houses some 1,000 US soldiers from the Green Berets and the 10th Mountain Division.

In November 2002 Brown and Root began a one-year contract, estimated at $42.5 million, to cover services for troops at bases in both Bagram and Khandahar. Brown and Root employees were first set to work running laundry services, showers, mess halls and installing heaters in soldiers’ tents.

Future Contracts in Iraq

Halliburton is also one of five large US corporations invited to bid for contracts in what may turn out to be the biggest reconstruction project since the Second World War. The others are the Bechtel Group, Fluor Corp, Parsons Corp, and the Louis Berger Group.

The Iraq reconstruction plan will require contractors to fulfill various tasks, including reopening at least half of the “economically important roads and bridges” — about 1,500 miles of roadway within 18 months, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The contractors will also be asked to repair 15% of high-voltage electricity grid, renovate several thousand schools and deliver 550 emergency generators within two months. The contract is estimated to be worth up to $900 million for the preliminary work alone.

The Pentagon has also awarded a contract to Brown and Root to control oil fires if Saddam Hussein sets the well heads ablaze. Iraq has oil reserves second only to those of Saudi Arabia. This makes Brown and Root a leading candidate to win the role of top contractor in any petroleum field rehabilitation effort in Iraq that industry analysts say could be as much as $1.5 billion in contracts to jump start Iraq’s petroleum sector following a war.

Wartime Profiteering

Meanwhile Dick Cheney’s 2001 financial disclosure statement, states that the Halliburton is paying him a “deferred compensation” of up to $1million a year following his resignation as chief executive in 2000. At the time Cheney opted not to receive his severance package in a lump sum, but instead to have it paid to him over five years, possibly for tax reasons.

The company would not say how much the payments are. The obligatory disclosure statement filled by all top government officials says only that they are in the range of $100,000 and $1million. Nor is it clear how they are calculated.

Critics say that the apparent conflict of interest is deplorable. “The Bush-Cheney team have turned the United States into a family business,” says Harvey Wasserman, author of The Last Energy War (Seven Stories Press, 2000). “That’s why we haven’t seen Cheney – he’s cutting deals with his old buddies who gave him a multimillion-dollar golden handshake. Have they no grace, no shame, no common sense? Why don’t they just have Enron run America? Or have Zapata Petroleum (George W. Bush’s failed oil-exploration venture) build a pipeline across Afghanistan?”

Army officials disagree. Major Bill Bigelow, public relations officer for the US Army in Western Europe, says: “If you’re going to ask a specific question – like, do you think it’s right that contractors profit in wartime – I would think that they might be better [asked] at a higher level, to people who set the policy. We don’t set the policy, we work within the framework that’s been established.”

“Those questions have been asked forever, because they go back to World War Two when Chrysler and Ford and Chevy stopped making cars and started making guns and tanks. Obviously it’s a question that’s been around for quite some time. But it’s true that nowadays there are very few defense contractors, but go back sixty years to the World War Two era almost everybody was manufacturing something that either directly or indirectly had something to do with defense,” he added.

Sasha Lilley and Aaron Glantz helped conduct interviews for this article.

For further reading on Brown and Root’s military contracts, see The War on Terrorism’s Gravy Train by Pratap Chatterjee.

Pratap Chatterjee is an investigative journalist based in Berkeley, California. He traveled to Afghanistan and Uzbekistan in January 2002 and to Incirlik, Turkey, in January 2003 to research this article.

Halliburton given $30m to expand Guantanamo Bay London Independent | June 18 2005 A subsidiary of Halliburton, the oil services group once led by the US Vice-President, Dick Cheney, has won a $30m (£16m) contract to help build a new permanent prison for terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Dick Cheney of course makes money to this Day From Haliburton.

Talk about a conflict of interest

Cheney served as chief executive of Halliburton until he stepped down to become George W. Bush’s running mate in the 2000 presidential race. Today he still draws compensation of up to a million dollars or more a year from the company, although his spokesperson denies that the White House helped the company win the contracts .

He isn’t alone however

151 Congressmen Profit From War

More than a quarter of senators and congressmen have invested at least $196 million or more of their own money in companies doing business with the Department of Defense (DOD) that profit from the death and destruction in Iraq.

Now maybe it’s just me but is that not a bit of conflict of interest?

Why would they ever vote to stop a war? No profit in that is there?

Even Bushes Father, apparently has invested a great deal in companies that work for the DOD.

The practice of investing in such things should be forbidden.

Let me tell you they didn’t get themselves elected to serve the people. They are self serving, money hungry, power seeking, well you get the idea.

Haliburton also wasted a lot of money. Your Tax dollars were hard at work.

Whistleblowers Describe Halliburton’s “Free Fraud Zone”

June 27, 2005

Halliburton Iraq

“I can unequivocally state that the abuse related to contracts awarded to KBR represents the most blatant and improper contract abuse I have witnessed during the course of my professional career.”

— Bunnatine Greenhouse, top Army Corps of Engineers contract oversight official, turned whistleblower

Today’s Democratic Policy Committee Hearing was another jawdropper.

The witnesses included:

1) Greenhouse — the highest ranking civilian at the Army Corps of Engineers whose job it is to ensure openness and honesty in contracting. Greenhouse said that “essentially every aspect of the RIO contract remained under the control of the Office of the Secretary of Defense.” In other words, Rumsfeld should be held responsible for giving his old pal Dick Cheney’s firm Halliburton the no-bid contract before the war, under its global logistics contract, a violation of competitive contracting requirements (as Greenhouse testified and 60 Minutes reported, other contractors were itching to bid on the work but were never given a chance).

2) Rory Mayberry, a former manager of Halliburton’s mess halls in Iraq, who testified that KBR fed U.S. troops expired food on a daily basis, and fed Turkish and Filipino workers “leftover food in boxes and garbage bags after the troops ate,” while using beef, chicken, salads and sodas intended for the troops to cater parties and barbeques for KBR management and employees. He also said he was informed that “if we talked, we would be rotated out to other camps that were under fire.”

3) Alan Waller and Gary Butters — two top executives from Lloyd-Owen International, a transportation contractor who testified that one of their convoys was ambushed 2 kilometers from a U.S. base while bringing materials under a Halliburton contract. Not only were they not told by KBR that other contractors had been hit recently in the same area (they lost 3 individuals in the ambush), but upon arriving at the base were denied help by KBR (later learning from emails they obtained that KBR management had instructed its on site staff to offer no assistance).

Could this have anything to do with the fact that the company has a fuel supply contract with the Iraqi government that KBR would have had, if it hadn’t been caught defrauding U.S. taxpayers for fuel shipments?

KBR still controls the military checkpoint along the Kuwait/Iraq border, where Lloyd-Owen has to bring over 100 fuel tankers across on a daily basis. They testified that KBR has hampered the company’s ability to cross the border, using the fact that Lloyd-Owen does not have a U.S. Military contract as a technicality.

Meanwhile, they testified that Halliburton’s incompetence in restoring fuel pumping and refinery equipment has also slowed fuel deliveries down, leading to the kind of festering resentments that are certain to fuel the resistance.

A joint report was also released at the hearing by Senator Dorgan and Rep. Henry Waxman, which estimates that Halliburton’s questioned and unsupported costs in Iraq now exceed $1.4 billion, more than three times the previous estimate.

The 10 Most Brazen War Profiteers 2006
Inside the world of war profiteers From prostitutes to Super bowl tickets, a federal probe reveals how contractors in Iraq cheated the U.S.

Banking on Bloodshed: UK high street banks’ complicity in the arms trade
This of course is a microscopic tid bit of what really happens.

Published in: on October 12, 2008 at 6:27 am  Comments Off on Who profits from WAR?  
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Stock Market, History,Causes and Affects

History of U.S. Stock Market Crashes


The Crash of 2000

From 1992-2000, the markets and the economy experienced a period of record expansion. On September 1, 2000, the NASDAQ traded at 4234.33. From September 2000 to January 2, 2001, the NASDAQ dropped 45.9%. In October 2002, the NASDAQ dropped to as low as 1,108.49 – a 78.4% decline from its all-time high of 5,132.52, the level it had established in March 2000.

Causes of the Crash:

  1. Corporate Corruption. Many companies fraudulently inflated their profits and used accounting loopholes to hide debt. Corporate officers enjoyed outrageous stock options that diluted company stock;
  2. Overvalued Stocks. There were numerous examples of companies making significant operating losses with no hope of turning a profit for years to come, yet sporting a market capitalization of over a billion dollars;
  3. Daytraders and Momentum Investors. The advent of the Internet enabled online trading –a new, quick, and inexpensive way to trade the markets. This revolution led to millions of new investors and traders entering the markets with little or no experience;
  4. Conflict of Interest between Research Firm Analysts and Investment Bankers. It was common practice for the research arms of investment banks to issue favorable ratings on stocks for which their client companies sought to raise capital. In some cases, companies received highly favorable ratings, even though they were actually in serious financial trouble.

A total of 8 trillion dollars of wealth was lost in the crash of 2000.

Following the Crash:

  1. New Rules for Daytraders. Under the new rules that were introduced, investors need at least $25,000 in their account to actively trade the markets. In addition, new restrictions were also placed on the marketing methods daytrading firms are allowed to use;
  2. CEO and CFO Accountability. Under the new regulations, CEOs and CFOs are required to sign-off on their statements (balance sheets). In addition, fraud prosecution was stepped up, resulting in significantly higher penalties;
  3. Accounting Reforms. Reforms include better disclosure of corporate balance sheet information. Items such as stock options and offshore investments are to be disclosed so that investors may better judge if a company is actually profitable;4. Separation between Investment Banking and Brokerage Research. A major reform was introduced to avoid conflicts of interest in the financial services industry. A clear split between the research and investment banking arms of brokerage houses was mandated.

The Crash of 1987

The markets hit a new high on August 25, 1987 when the Dow hit a record 2722.44 points. Then, the Dow started to head down. On October 19, 1987, the stock market crashed. The Dow dropped 508 points or 22.6% in a single trading day. This was a drop of 36.7% from its high on August 25, 1987.

Causes of the Crash:

  1. No Liquidity. During the crash, the markets were not able to handle the imbalance of sell orders;
  2. Overvalued Stocks;
  3. Program Trading and the Use of Derivative Securities Software. Large institutional investment companies used computers to execute large stock trades automatically when certain market conditions prevailed. Some analysts claim that the program trading of index futures and derivatives securities was also to blame.

During this crash, 1/2 trillion dollars of wealth were erased.

Following the Crash:

  1. Uniform Margin Requirements. New margin requirements were introduced to reduce the volatility for stocks, index futures, and stock options;
  2. New Computer Systems. Stock exchanges changed to new computer systems that increase data management effectiveness, accuracy, efficiency, and productivity;
  3. Circuit Breakers. The New York Stock Exchange and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange instituted a circuit breaker mechanism, which halts trading on both exchanges for one hour should the Dow fall more than 250 points in a day, and for two hours, should it fall more than 400 points.

The Crash of 1929

On September 4, 1929, the stock market hit an all-time high. Banks were heavily invested in stocks, and individual investors borrowed on margin to invest in stocks. On October 29, 1929, the stock market dropped 11.5%, bringing the Dow 39.6% off its high.

After the crash, the stock market mounted a slow comeback. By the summer of 1930, the market was up 30% from the crash low. But by July 1932, the stock market hit a low that made the 1929 crash. By the summer of 1932, the Dow had lost almost 89% of its value and traded more than 50% below the low it had reached on October 29, 1929.

Causes of the Crash:

  1. Overvalued Stocks. Some analysts also maintain stocks were heavily overbought;
  2. Low Margin Requirements. At the time of the crash, you needed to put down only 10% cash in order to buy stocks. If you wanted to invest $10,000 in stocks, only $1,000 in cash was required;
  3. Interest Rate Hikes. The Fed aggressively raised interest rates on broker loans;
  4. Poor Banking Structures. There were few federal restrictions on start-up capital requirements for new banks. As a result, many banks were highly insolvent. When these banks started to invest heavily in the stock market, the results proved to be devastating, once the market started to crash. By 1932, 40% of all banks in the U.S. had gone out of business.

In total, 14 billion dollars of wealth were lost during the market crash.

Following the Crash:

  1. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) was established;.
  2. The Glass-Stegall Act was passed. It separated commercial and investment banking activities. Over the past decade though, the Fed and banking regulators have softened some of the provisions of the Glass-Stegall Act;
  3. 3. In 1933, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) was established to insure individual bank accounts for up to $100,000.

Source


Have Plunging Stocks Killed Private Accounts in Social Security?

By Dean Baker

Until the recent fall in stock prices, many people viewed the stock market as a money tree that created wealth out of nothing. This was the atmosphere in which the idea of private accounts within Social Security gained popularity. The crash has helped to clear people’s thoughts.

In reality, the stock market does not create wealth. Wealth is created when we are better able to produce goods and services. Putting Social Security dollars in the stock market through individual accounts does not increase the nation’s productive capacity by one iota, compared with putting the same dollars into the Social Security trust funds. As the crash shows, individual accounts only add risk.

Many proponents of private accounts actually want to cut benefits. Since Social Security is fully solvent until 2041, and the shortfalls projected for later years are comparable to past shortfalls, benefit cuts seem hard to justify. But if politicians want to advocate cuts in benefits, they should be forced to do so explicitly, and not hide behind the Enron-like accounting of private accounts.

The market crash also clarified which part of the retirement system needs fixing. Millions of workers who saw much of their retirement savings disappear in the crash are now very glad that they can still count on their “Social Security“. On the other hand, we now recognize that the system of private pensions is in disarray.

Pensions have been manipulated to their administrators’ benefit and are subject to high fees, and many workers lack pension coverage altogether. If the Bush commission’s individual accounts were offered as a voluntary add-on to Social Security—instead of taking money from Social Security revenues and cutting benefits to make up for the lost revenues—they could be very useful. Such accounts would instantly make a low-cost, fully portable, defined contribution pension plan available to every worker in the country.

Dean Baker is the co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research and co-author of Social Security: The Phony Crisis (University of Chicago Press, 1999).

Source


Stock Market History

History of stock market trading in the United States can be traced back to over 200 years ago. Historically, The colonial government decided to finance the war by selling bonds, government notes promising to pay out at profit at a later date. Around the same time private banks began to raise money by issuing stocks, or shares of the company to raise their own money. This was a new market, and a new form of investing money, and a great scheme for the rich to get richer. A little futher on the history tumeline, more specifically in 1792, a meeting of twenty four large merchants resulted into a creation of a market known as the New York Stock Exchange(NYSE). At the meeting, the merchants agreed to meet daily on Wall Street to daily trade stocks and bonds.

Further in history, in the mid-1800s, United States was experiencing rapid growth. Companies needed funds to assist in expansion required to meet the new demand. Companies also realized that investors would be interested in buying stock, partial ownership in the company. History has shown that stocks have facilitated the expansion of the companies and the great potential of the recently founded stock market was becoming increasingly apparent to both the investors and the companies.

By 1900, millions of dollars worth of stocks were traded on the street market. In 1921, after twenty years of street trading, the stock market moved indoors.

History brought us the Industrial Revolution, which also played a role in changing the face of the stock market. New form of investing began to emerge when people started to realize that profits could be made by re-selling the stock to others who saw value in a company. This was the beginning of the secondary market, known also as the speculators market. This market was more volatile than before, because it was now fueled by highly subjective speculation about the company’s future.

This was the pretext for appearance of such stock market giants as NYSE. History books tell us that the reason the NYSE is so highly regarded among stock markets was primarily because they only trade in the very large and well-established companies. It acted as a more stable investment alternative, for people interested in throwing their capital into the stock market arena. The smaller companies making up the stock market formed into what eventually became the American Stock Exchange (AMEX). Contrary to the 80-year old history, today the NYSE, AMEX, NASDAQ and hundreds of other exchange markets make a significant contribution to the national and global economy.

The growth in the number of market participants led the government to decide that more regulation of the stock market was needed to protect those investing in stock. History was made in 1934, when following the Great Crash, Congress passed the Securities and Exchange Act. This act formed the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which, through the rules set out by the act and succeeding amendments, regulates American stock market trading with the help of the exchanges. It also includes overseeing the requirements for a company to issue stock shares to the public and ensures that the company offers relevant information to potential investors. The SEC also oversees the daily actions of market exchanges and how they trade the securities offered.

Although historically, investing in stocks was a “hobby” for the rich, an average person too soon came to realize the value of the investing in stocks vs. traditional assets like land or a house.

Source

Panic Affect

Various explanations for large price movements have been promulgated. For instance, some research has shown that changes in estimated risk, and the use of certain strategies, such as stop-loss limits and Value at Risk limits, theoretically could cause financial markets to overreact.

Other research has shown that psychological factors may result in exaggerated stock price movements. Psychological research has demonstrated that people are predisposed to ‘seeing’ patterns, and often will perceive a pattern in what is, in fact, just noise. (Something like seeing familiar shapes in clouds or ink blots.) In the present context this means that a succession of good news items about a company may lead investors to overreact positively (unjustifiably driving the price up). A period of good returns also boosts the investor’s self-confidence, reducing his (psychological) risk threshold.

Another phenomenon—also from psychology—that works against an objective assessment is group thinking. As social animals, it is not easy to stick to an opinion that differs markedly from that of a majority of the group. An example with which one may be familiar is the reluctance to enter a restaurant that is empty; people generally prefer to have their opinion validated by those of others in the group.

In one paper the authors draw an analogy with gambling. In normal times the market behaves like a game of roulette; the probabilities are known and largely independent of the investment decisions of the different players. In times of market stress, however, the game becomes more like poker (herding behavior takes over). The players now must give heavy weight to the psychology of other investors and how they are likely to react psychologically.

The stock market, as any other business, is quite unforgiving of amateurs. Inexperienced investors rarely get the assistance and support they need. In the period running up to the recent Nasdaq crash, less than 1 percent of the analyst’s recommendations had been to sell (and even during the 2000 – 2002 crash, the average did not rise above 5%). The media amplified the general euphoria, with reports of rapidly rising share prices and the notion that large sums of money could be quickly earned in the so-called new economy stock market. (And later amplified the gloom which descended during the 2000 – 2002 crash, so that by summer of 2002, predictions of a DOW average below 5000 were quite common.)

Irrational behavior

Sometimes the market tends to react irrationally to economic news, even if that news has no real effect on the technical value of securities itself. Therefore, the stock market can be swayed tremendously in either direction by press releases, rumors, euphoria and mass panic.

Over the short-term, stocks and other securities can be battered or buoyed by any number of fast market-changing events, making the stock market difficult to predict.

A stock market crash is often defined as a sharp dip in share prices of equities listed on the stock exchanges. In parallel with various economic factors, a reason for stock market crashes is also due to panic. Often, stock market crashes end speculative economic bubbles.

There have been famous stock market crashes that have ended in the loss of billions of dollars and wealth destruction on a massive scale. An increasing number of people are involved in the stock market, especially since the social security and retirement plans are being increasingly privatized and linked to stocks and bonds and other elements of the market.

Source



Greed Is Fine. It’s Stupidity That Hurts.

By Steven Pearlstein

During financial crises like this one, after people have had their fill of discussions about margin calls and credit-default swaps, they experience a strong desire to have the whole thing put in some larger and more human context. Invariably they come around to some variation of, “Isn’t this really just a story about excessive greed?”

I’ve never really figured out how to answer that question. In a capitalist economy like ours, the basic premise is that everyone is motivated by a healthy dose of economic self-interest — the shopper looking for the best bargain on tomatoes and the farmer looking to get the highest price for his produce, the grocery clerk looking to earn the highest wages for restocking shelves and the investor looking to earn the biggest profit from Safeway stock. Without some measure of greed and the tension it brings to most economic transactions, capitalism wouldn’t be as good as it is in allocating resources and spurring innovation.

Perhaps that’s why most definitions of greed refer to an excessive desire for wealth that is beyond what anyone really needs or deserves. The obvious problem with that, of course, is that those are terribly subjective criteria. Do you draw the greed line at two cars, a three-bedroom house, two weeks at the beach in the summer and college tuition for the kids? Or is it at seven houses, 50 pairs of designer shoes, a yacht, two Bentleys and a Renoir?

Others suggest that for greed to really be greed, the money or goods that are desired have to be denied to somebody else who might want, need or deserve them. A landowner who gets rich by overcharging tenant farmers who can barely feed and clothe their families — he’s obviously greedy. But somehow the owner of a restaurant in the Hamptons who overcharges his millionaire patrons for lobster salad and foie gras is a lot less greedy.

In many minds, greed may have less to do with the amount of wealth or possessions someone has, or aspires to have, than it does with the way in which it is earned. Even before they decided to give away most of their money, nobody seemed to begrudge Bill Gates or Warren Buffett their billions or criticize them for their “unbridled” greed. That seems to have a lot to do with the fact that Gates and Buffett made their money on the basis of their own ingenuity, skill and hard work. On the other hand, when people line up to buy tickets to a Powerball lottery with a $10 million payout, we don’t consider them particularly greedy just because they want to get rich through dumb luck.

If the person who wins that lottery, however, doesn’t send some of that money to his struggling Aunt Mildred or offer to fix up the local Little League field, most people would call him greedy. But no matter how many millions the overpaid corporate chief executive gives away to charity, in the minds of many, greed will always be his middle name.

Which brings us to the now widespread belief that the cause of the current financial crisis has been “the greed on Wall Street.” Both John McCain and Barack Obama believe that. So do Joe Biden and Sarah Palin. A clip search of major publications over the past month turns up about 2,700 stories that contained the words “Wall Street” and “greed.” The month before, there were less than 200.

If there is a surprise here, it is that anyone should be surprised by the level of greed on Wall Street. Wall Street is nothing if not an organized system of greed, a high-stakes game in which the object is to take advantage of customers and counterparties by buying pieces of paper from them at less than they are really worth and selling them to others for more than they are worth. And while it’s hard to see a grand social purpose in all that, it has proven a relatively efficient process for connecting people who have money with the households and businesses that want to borrow it.

The big problem with Wall Street isn’t that it’s greedy– it’s that it keeps making the same mistakes over and over. Each cycle, the masters of finance start out with reasonably good products and good intentions, only to get swept away by their success. They become arrogant, take too many risks and begin to believe their own marketing spiels. Then, when the cycle turns against them and the risks turn sour, they try to cover it up and begin lying to their customers, to regulators and to each other. Trust erodes, and the whole thing collapses.

In the populist “greed” fantasy, it is ordinary people who are the losers while the Wall Street bigwigs walk off with all the loot. But in the real life version, most of the bigwigs lose as well. They lose their jobs, their stock becomes worthless, their reputations are ruined. They spend the next several years shelling out $700 an hour to lawyers to defend themselves against lawsuits and regulatory inquiries and $250 to psychiatrists to help figure out where they went wrong. Bottom line: They wind up worse off than they would have been if they had simply done their jobs well, put their customers first and managed their companies for the long term.

To some, that may be a story of greed. To me, it looks more like old-fashioned incompetence.

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Privatization of Social Security can leave you without any retirement savings.

Investing in the Stock market is like gambling. If you can’t afford to loose it you don’t want to invest. The markets can crash anytime.

Who profits?

There are some who do profit from market crashes. I would assume those who probably created the panic, in the first place.

Profit certainly can be made from a stock market crash. Maybe one of these days someone will take the time to find out Who?

When you find out who, then you have the criminals.

Why do they do it?

For profit of course.

When will they be stopped?

Well when the power hungry, rich, greedy manipulative, liers are caught and when Governments around the world, finally do something to stop them.

Until then they will let you win for a while and then steal your hard earned money.

Personally it seems they manipulate a bunch of innocent folks into investing in the market, then after they have invested a whole lot of money, it crashes.

Those who manipulated the innocent investors into buying into the market, make the profits from it.

There seems to be a growing pattern emerging.

The stock market is somewhat like a Casino.

The owners, operators and the very wealthy are the House.

You are the gambler hoping, to make a fortune.

Like a Casino let you win for a little while.

Then they take all your money.

That is the pattern that seems to be emerging.

Just an observation.

The Stock Market was created by the wealthy, for the wealthy and controlled by the wealthy.

So what has changed since it’s creation other then nothing?

Published in: on October 8, 2008 at 9:52 pm  Comments Off on Stock Market, History,Causes and Affects  
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