May 12, 2007

BJP rout in UP , a note from a prominent Journalist

IntelliBriefs received this note from a prominent journalist , we wish keep his name anonymous .



The BJP is seen as a party of human traffickers, money grabbers and posseurs. If anybody is worried about the SP's defeat (as opposed to the BSP's victory or the BJP's washout) it is certain top guns of the BJP who had got used to getting suitcases from those who ran the previous SP regime. BJP supporters should stop spinning imaginary circles of caste and community. This vote was a kick in the face of the BJP for ridding itself of all pretensions of probity in public life. The BJP voters did not turn out on polling day; rather than vote for a venal lot, they chose to stay at home. The BSP voters turned out, as did the SP voters. So let's not tilt at windmills. If there's such great concern for the BJP, do something to check the rot. BJP supporters wilfully choose to deny the truth and look at bogus reasons instead of admitting that the great Hindu party has been hijacked by a crooked lot.

MYANMAR GAS: THE PIPELINE PSYWAR

by B. Raman

In a despatch of April 21, 2007, China's official Hsinhua news agency has quoted the SINOPEC, the state-owned Chinese oil company, as stating that the construction of the China-Myanmar oil pipeline is expected to start this year. According to the company, at the beginning of April, 2007, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) approved the Sino-Myanmar oil pipeline, which would link Myanmar's deep-water port of Sittwe (Akyab) with Kunming, the capital of the Yunnan Province. It did not, however, indicate when the pipeline would be completed.

2. The news agency despatch also indicated that there was a proposal to construct a separate gas pipeline linking the Arakan coast with Yunnan over a distance of 2380 kms. The construction of this gas pipeline would involve an investment of US $ 1.04 billion. In return for this, China would extend to Myanmar a credit of US $ 83 million to enable it to develop its gas resources. The agency said that this pipeline will transport 170 billion cubic meters of natural gas from the Middle East to southwest China in the next 30years.

3. The emerging picture is that Myanmar has allowed Chinese companies to construct two pipelines connecting the Arakan coast with Yunnan----one for oil and the other for gas. While the oil pipeline will start from Sittwe, it is not yet clear from where the gas pipeline will start. Most probably, from Kyaukpu. Both the pipelines will be used to transport part of China's imports of oil and gas from West Asia and Africa in order to reduce the dependence on the Malacca Strait. Subsequently, these pipelines will also be used to transport any oil or gas that may be discovered by the Chinese companies to whom contracts for exploration in the Arakan area have been awarded.

4. Three State-owned Chinese companies are presently exploring in off-shore blocks awarded to them by Myanmar's Ministry of Energy in the Arakan area----the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), the SINOPEC and the CNOOC. Earlier, Huang Qifan, the Vice-Mayor of Chongqing in Yunnan, had been quoted as stating that the CNPC would be constructing an oil pipeline connecting Sittwe with his town, where a refinery with a 10-million-ton capacity would be established. It is not clear whether his announcement, which named the CNPC as the constructor of the oil pipeline, and the latest Hsinhua despatch, which named the SINOPEC as the constructor, referred to the same pipeline.

5. On April 21, 2006, the "Shanghai Security News", quoting what it described as well-informed sources, had circulated the following report: "The plan to build a crude oil pipeline between Burma and China has been shelved because of viability concerns. The pipeline was vetoed for its poor economics, insiders say. Burma produces no oil and building a transit pipeline is not viable in economic terms. On the other hand, if constructed, the pipeline's capacity would account for merely 10% of the oil shipments currently passing through the Malacca Strait, which would not go far in solving the country's energy supply security concerns."

6. Commercial sources monitoring energy developments in China had commented on this report as follows: "The news contradicted earlier reports that the Chinese Government had green lighted the construction of the pipeline. The Shanghai-based newspaper, however, cited an official with the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) as saying that a bilateral agreement should be reached with Burma first and then NDRC can sanction the project. Sinopec and PetroChina, the two companies reportedly pushing the project forward, have also denied their involvement in the pipeline. "

7. Now, after a year, the SINOPEC, as quoted by Hsinhua, says that the oil pipeline has been approved and that the construction will start this year. What has made this pipeline, which was considered as not viable in April last year, viable now? If the Myanmarese authorities have allowed the Chinese to construct an oil pipeline from Sittwe, what happens to the Indian proposal for a gas pipeline from the same place? Is it confirmed that the Myanmarese authorities have decided to sell the gas produced in the two blocs awarded to a consortium of Indian and South Korean companies to China, as reported by some sections of the media? If so, what happened to the Indian and South Korean proposals to purchase this gas?

8. The confusion continues due to a lack of transparency about the various oil/gas projects in the official circles in Myanmar as well as India. Most of the announcements and claims have been coming from the Chinese companies with no corroboration or contradiction from the Indian or Myanmarese side.

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. He is also associated with the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: itschen36@gmail.com)

Money & Power behind Wolfowitz face revolt of Abused Knowledge


This post was written by Ranjit Goswami on 12 May, 2007 (05:13) | All News

If stories of masterpiece Asterix comics were true; we know that the village druid Getafix had the knowledge of mixing unsuspecting mistletoes to prepare the magic potion that provided the Gauls with that ‘invincible’ strength, which the Gauls used only to defend themselves against the invading Romans, or against pirates even more occasionally. Good that simple moral sense of the rustic Gauls never permitted them to abuse and misuse the byproduct of their knowledge.

In the 21st century human civilization, when money-power and state-power seem to be improperly used in an endless pursuit to dominate the world, the need to distort and manipulate the most critical foundation of civilization, call it knowledge built on real time intelligence or otherwise, becomes a necessity.

One glaring example of such a deadly cocktail of misuse of money and power to manipulate knowledge is present day Iraq.

It started tumbling one after another. One could have ignored couple of slips, even in the highest levels of the U.S. decision-making had they wrongfully, but more importantly unintentionally concluded that Iraq under Saddam indeed was having Weapons of Mass Destructions (WMDs), or had been planning to acquire few WMDs that genuinely posed a security threat for parts of the world.

But a steady flow of direct accounts stating intelligence was deliberately tampered with, which started as a trickle initially as the aggression apparently achieved nothing but huge casualties has lately taken the shape of an unending wave of revelations encompassing the Pentagon, the CIA and even the White House involving all possible tentacles of the Bush-Cheney administration. The actors bare their first-hand stories depicting their major, minor or frustrating roles in that distortion of truth exercise as casualties continue to rise; and patience for peace increasingly running thin.

George Tenet, the discredited-but-awarded CIA-chief, who was at the helm of that tampered intelligence exercise, true mostly covertly, has lately added to that continuing waves of devastating revelations in his book titled “At the Center of the Storm.” published last week.

Mud-slinging exercises in post-mortem analysis never help in making the dead alive, other than forming knowledge to be used as learning to avoid unnecessary similar bloodshed in the future. And that can only happen when the haunting question, on why Iraq was invaded and how the case was built, that eventually caused and still causes so many unnecessary deaths, gets answered in a convincing and transparent manner.

It’s already late to ask that all-important question by more than four years and thousands of deaths. How neutral and independent are Money, Power & Knowledge - the three pillars of human civilizations in our present day world? True, one may say that one or two of these three pillars may be unnecessary evils of human civilization; and the unnecessary evil is spreading like a cancer in our societies, and thereby killing the lifeblood called knowledge and wisdom of human civilization.

How safe is the fate of the masses in the hands of our so-called citizen caring and fearing powerful nation-states? Have the modern nation-states, to a large extent, delivered what they were supposed to deliver; or they have started rotting without much reform under money pressure of the classes that influenced the state-power to be used against the masses?

True, there are exceptions in the form of bright spots in parts of the world in democratic governance…but increasingly these bright spots have been vanishing like the pristine isolated natural zones from our earth. The world looked at the U.S. as an inspirational model for nearly a century or so; and the way Money, Power and Knowledge is applied in policy-making in the U.S., the only superpower of present world, no longer offers any comfort to neutral global think tanks.

It has rather become a cause of concern. And to get to the root of this legitimate concern, one needs to understand people who drive present day human civilization, and their apparent motives, if they indeed have one.

So who all drive the decisions that seal many of our fates today and tomorrow globally, and what accountability do they have to us for having that liberty, more so for their deliberate wrong decisions and actions? Are they the Bush-Blair-Chavez-Merkel-Putin-Hu-Abe-Olmert lot, democratically (barring China) elected by the people of the respective nations rightfully representing the will of their citizens?

Or are they the apparently faceless business lobbies that increasingly influence the decision makers through their strength of money, which has not only grown stronger than so called bookish namesake democratic forces in many nations over the years when it comes to delivering results that matter to these classes - in the form of more money in the hands of select few? And call it market forces or the strength of money; it has only grown disproportionately in many of these nations irrespective of the country-specific laws or its individual leaders and their unique leadership styles, leading to increasing unprecedented inequalities as never seen before historically.

There exists a 3rd distinct possibility, probably the best of the alternatives when it does not matter who decides the fate of present and near-term future human civilizations locally and globally; because the decision makers merely work based on the best knowledge-input they receive for the overall betterment of the society, and our one world. That was a fundamental premise in the formation of most democratic nations; it was obvious that a collective sense of betterment would rule all decisions and actions of the democratic states.

The inevitable question we ask is how neutral should these three axes of modern civilizations, namely Money, Knowledge and Power should be and whether they indeed are neutral to that extent in present day world, as we see and interpret events around us. Leaders of democratic states are empowered and entrusted with our collective power, to be used legitimately in order to have a better society for all of us.

We all have a critical stake here in ensuring a healthy sustainable society – today and for ever.

The dangerous trend we encounter now-a-days is quite opposite; true the mirror being my subjective senses, and my subjective reading of local and global affairs. The money-power of the business classes that have grown stronger and stronger increasingly influences the policy for the masses through namesake midwife policy-makers, who merely deliver the business interests behind the fa├žade of democracy and thereby misuse our collective entrusted power for the interest of the classes depriving the masses.

A series of scandals have hit the Bush-administration, but the net result has been the same big zero till date. Starting with Libby (legally convicted on Plame affair on four felony charges), Rumsfeld, Gonzales (responsible for improperly and perhaps illegally using the PATRIOT Act to uncover personal information about U.S. citizens; and his role on firing eight U.S. attorneys), Rove (investigations started on improper favoritism shown to the Republicans), Brown (famous FEMA director, fired or resigned after Hurricane Katrina) to lately Wolfowitz; people in this endless list have at most resigned or fired or at best hangs on indecisively with the support of money and power; but have not been penalized in proportion to the impact of their wrongful actions that brought sufferings locally and globally.

Talks of impeachment against Bush or Cheney, reflecting maturity or immaturity of a section of the masses have so far remained as talks only.

In other words, isn’t it a perfect example of Money-power dictating so-called democratically elected leaders what they want, by distorting information, intelligence or by whatever means? A collusion of Money with Power used for vested interests worked together to distort intelligence and truth, not once or twice but again and again at whatever costs showing scanty respect for national and ethical rules till the very objective of that business class is achieved.

And to do so, which at times may have buyer in corporate world, but ideally not in governance, the people involved manipulate knowledge to achieve better control of the money-making oil-assets of Iraq, and one knows as well as can be reasonably certain of the fact that Iraq isn’t the first or the last of that misuse of Money and Power to distort truth, when this is reviewed historically. More important to note is this system has effectively no accountability – the leaders lose or go back to their other private or public roles after their terms of rule; and the real influencers with even more money power are never traced, and they, in turn continue their influences with the next administration without caring much on who runs government.

Hasn’t anything happened? We never know. The voices on the streets and the voices online have grown stronger in protests; true they again have remained ineffective protests only. Howard Zinn, Professor Emeritus at Boston University and author of ‘Voices of People’s History of the United States’ stated following:

‘One of the things we can learn from history is that history is not only a history of things inflicted on us by the powers that be. History is also a history of resistance. It’s a history of people who endure tyranny for decades, but who ultimately rise up and overthrow the dictator. We’ve seen this in country after country, surprise after surprise. Rulers who seem to have total control, they suddenly wake up one day, and there are a million people in the streets, and they pack up and leave. This has happened in the Philippines, in Yemen, all over, in Nepal. Million people in the streets, and then the ruler has to get out of the way. So, this is what we’re aiming for in this country.

Everything we do is important. Every little thing we do, every picket line we walk on, every letter we write, every act of civil disobedience we engage in, any recruiter that we talk to, any parent that we talk to, any GI that we talk to, any young person that we talk to, anything we do in class, outside of class, everything we do in the direction of a different world is important, even though at the moment they seem futile, because that’s how change comes about. Change comes about when millions of people do little things, which at certain points in history come together, and then something good and something important happens.’


Probably all indicators don’t point to a worsening hopeless situation. The 1st victory of the masses in this round can be with the ouster of Wolfowitz from the helms of the World Bank, which increasingly looks likely now for the interest of the Bank and even in the interest of the vested bodies. True, most organized media reports voiced their opinion against Wolfowitz from day one that started as a mild rebuke, and the pitch has eventually risen. Unexpectedly, few powerful media houses even tried their influencing power with opinions favoring Wolfowitz, like The Bloomberg (‘Wolfowitz’s One Sin Was Waging War on Corruption was one of the early articles on Wolfowitz issue in the Bloomberg, which has only changed when global opinion was totally against Wolfowitz.Probably all indicators don’t point to a worsening hopeless situation. The 1st victory of the masses in this round can be with the ouster of Wolfowitz from the helms of the World Bank, which increasingly looks likely now for the interest of the Bank and even in the interest of the vested bodies. True, most organized media reports voiced their opinion against Wolfowitz from day one that started as a mild rebuke, and the pitch has eventually risen. Unexpectedly, few powerful media houses even tried their influencing power with opinions favoring Wolfowitz, like The Bloomberg ( was one of the early articles on Wolfowitz issue in the Bloomberg, which has only changed when global opinion was totally against Wolfowitz.

True, all Bloomberg articles have standard disclaimer that in above case stated: ‘Kevin Hassett, director of economic-policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, is a Bloomberg News columnist. He was chief economic adviser to Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona during the 2000 primaries. The opinions expressed are his own.’ However elementary editorial discretion should have been applied before making discredited Republican voice public in the Bloomberg. And that was not the only article that vainly attempted to build a case for Wolfowitz in the Bloomberg or in rare few organized media, many now look this as an ego-clash between the US and the EU. More examples can be given when media selectively quoted cronies (like Former Malaysian Finance Minister Anwar Ibrahim or some Nigerian minister) whose credibility has been doubted.

However the other millions of opinions with all types of spoofs and satires online on this Wolfowitz issue, which at times may have even crossed subjectively defined ethics on what should be in public domain and what’s best to be private (for example Wolfowitz turns on Shaha Riza or Dept. of Paul Wolfowitz What? You Want The Wolfowitz Discourse Elevated? DONE and the comments therein and they are very much in Google news, few with ridiculing images or TradeSports.com trading on Wolfowitz’s exit which the respected French daily Le Monde mistook as a report and not as a spoof initially), forced the significant few mainstream media with other opinion to shut up, or to change their color, or even to adopt a stronger unambiguous opinion against Wolfowitz and the various other policies of the World Bank and its sister organizations that fundamentally was against its core objective of poverty elimination.


Few enjoy Money and Power disproportionately; however with Internet and Web 2.0; one can’t have knowledge at the wrong side all the time. The lesson if any for the people who were getting used to their wrongful unchallenged privileges that money and power bought them by exploiting an archaic and ineffective democratic set-up : ‘When million voices protest in the physical highways or on digital highways, untoward incidents beyond moral or ethical standards are bound to happen. They have state power and business money to control the voices on the street; but no state power has yet found ways and means on how to silence the legitimate online voices.’



Ranjit Goswami is a Research Scholar with the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kharagpur, India; and is the author of the book “Wondering Man, Money & Go(l)d’“.

Tamil Brahmins: The best second-rate men in the world

http://www.newindpress.com/ sunday /colItems.asp?ID =SEG20030330072132
Columns by N S Jagannathan


This piece, it must be explained at the outset, is not a history of the Tamil Brahmins, or a gratulatory account of the community's famous achievers. It is more in the nature of a portraiture of the "average or the median" member of the species.

In an endeavour of this kind seeking to crystallize the unique qualities of a whole people, it would be misleading to talk of the "tall poppies", the all-time greats, such as Sir T Muthuswami Iyer, G Subramania Iyer, Subramania Bharati, Rajaji, Satyamurti, Sir C V Raman, Srinivasa Ramanujan, Madurai Mani Iyer or Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar.

It would be more appropriate to use (or misuse?) the well known statistical concept of the "Bell Curve": a graph showing the distribution of the range of any characteristic within a population — say, height, weight, intelligence etc. This is typically a bell-shaped figure with a single well-defined maximum, an initial steep slope and a gradual tapering further down. Since such a distribution is common in nature, it is also known as "normal distribution". The maximum number in the frequency distribution, also called the "mode", occurs roughly in the middle. It would be permissible to take persons in this range as authentic representatives, warts and all, of the whole community. What follows is one man's perception, necessarily subjective, of the defining qualities of this "representative" Tamil Brahmin.

Those who have seen the 1971 Satyajit Ray classic Seemabaddha (Company Limited) would recall a cameo in it of a conversation between the yuppie Bengali hero of the film and his personal secretary, a middle-aged Tamil Brahmin. The young man "on the make" is a "covenanted officer" in one of those once-famous British Merchant Houses of Calcutta. The two have forged a relationship of extraordinary mutuality based on trust and admiration for each other's contrasting qualities. Tormented by the neurosis of upward mobility, particularly by his frustration over a decisive promotion still eluding him, the young executive asks his elderly secretary the secret of his sangfroid, his total imperviousness to tension and worry. The secretary sagely replies: "Sir, it is quite simple. On a cold day, when the hearth-fire is on, the best position to occupy is the place that is neither too near the fire nor too far. If you are too near, you might get singed. If you are too far, you would not get the necessary warmth."

Here, if you like, is the metaphor of the working philosophy of the archetypal Tamil Brahmin. What this illustrates is that the Tamil Brahmin prefers to function (and function efficiently) from behind the scene, rather than thrust himself to the front, with all the hassles and hazards of overexposure and too public a presence. His preferred position is the row behind the throne (as when the pompous minister briefs the Press). His passion for anonymity is notorious. His real successes are private ones secretly to be gloated over by himself or at the most in the intimacy of chosen friends. Even his jokes are private, with his cynical wit much in evidence when among intimates. His forte is wit rather than humour, unlike, say, the Punjabi's. He is a master of the double entendre and is an inveterate punster, often bilingual and sometimes even trilingual. A random example: At the height of Japanese commercial expansionism in Europe and America in the seventies, an envious joke was that the Japanese multinational Sony had bought up-the Leaning Tower of Pisa and re-erected it in Tokyo. The Tamil Brahmin tourist in Japan watching the operation is supposed to have made the deadpan observation: "Nikkumo Nikkado" which is Tamil for "God knows whether it will stand or fall."

An apocryphal quip describes the Tamil Brahmins as "the best second-rate men in the world." Rude as this remark is on the face of it, it is in many ways perceptive and could well be considered a compliment. (It is certainly better than being considered the worst first-rate men.) The sneer latches on to the central characteristic of a Tamil Brahmin — his instinctive preference for anonymous functionality behind the scene rather than high profile highfalutin from centre-stage. A Tamil Brahmin would readily endorse E M Foster's famous prayer: "Let no achievement on an imposing scale ever be mine."

This ineradicable modesty coexisting with proven competence is the reason why his preferred professions are the great anonymous ones, such as the Civil Service, where it is easy — indeed the required trait — to be "the faceless bureaucrat." He lets his nominal boss, the publicity-hungry politician, boast about policies whose details his ingenious mind has given legal and formal shape to, with all the ambiguities and obfuscations safely hidden in the fine print. Give him a brief of your intention, and he will give it a shape that would pass muster with a trusting public. Like the prestidigitator, he gloats in secret not over the illusion that the public laps up but over his real skill of sleight of hand that had made the illusion possible. An extreme example of this is the Tamil Brahmin folklore to the effect that some of the brilliant judgments of the English judges in pre-Independence Madras High Court were really written by their Tamil Brahmin bench clerks.

In the public sphere, the representative Tamil Brahmin is an apolitical pragmatist rather than a passionate ideologue, a trait that makes him an ideal public servant rather than a political leader. Temperamentally, he is a natural Tory, or at best, a "Fabian", believing in the art of the possible rather than in the impossible dream. A British Conservative of the 1960s famously said once: "Let the socialists dream their dreams and scheme their schemes: we Conservatives have a job to do." This sums up admirably the Working philosophy of the Tamil Brahmin administrator. Grand gestures and conspicuous posturing are not in his blood. Risk averse by temperament and playing for safety, he is rarely given to extreme positions or assertive stances in public. A pugnacious Tamil Brahmin is a contradiction in terms, though high profile T N Seshan, former Chief Election Commissioner, might seem to disprove this assessment. (In any case, he is a "Palghat Tamil Brahmin", a sub (?) species that deserves a special study in itself!)

Intellect rather than imagination is the Tamil Brahmin's forte. (Harsher judges might even say that intelligence rather than intellect is a Tamil Brahmin's strength.) Typically, a Tamil Brahmin is a professional executive or administrator rather than a professional politician or entrepreneur or a labour leader. It can even be argued that this is a throw-forward of the ancient Varna taxonomy: of the Brahmin — the purohit and the counsellor, in contrast to the Kshatria (the forerunner of the modern-day politician), Vaisya (the prototype of today's entrepreneur) and the Labour leader, (the champion of the working class, the modern-day shudras.) Thus it is that you find that some of the greatest Diwans of Indian States of yore such as Seshadri Iyer, C P Ramaswami Iyer, T T Krishnamachari, and T Vijayaraghavachari were vintage Tamil Brahmins.

The Tamil Brahmin is by instinct a Rajabhakta, putting his ingenious mind at the disposal of the ruler of the moment for any purpose the latter chooses. But it is not a passive role of the flunkey, doing the bidding of his master. His manifest intellectual superiority makes him an ideal Amaathya, or Counsellor. Many a ruler of the former princely States had the good sense to listen to their Tamil Brahmin Diwans: this was true even when the advice was to quietly quit the scene collecting their privy purses when Sardar Patel ran a coach and four through their puny sovereignties. Quite often, some of these princelings have been saved from the extreme consequences of their rather lurid private lives by the sagacious intervention of their counsellors.

Ostentatious wealth is rare in this community, testifying once again that a representatve Tamil Brahmin abhors extremes. Though poverty and privation are not unknown in the community the median Tamil Brahmin has a reasonable competence that meets his un-extravagant needs. Thrift comes naturally to him to the point of stinginess.

A famous story used to go round the Indian Express editorial anterooms in the days of Ramnath Goenka. A Marwari friend asked RNG why he paid his Punjabi editors fabulous salaries while his Tamil Brahmin editors were paid a pittance. Ramnathji is supposed to have replied: "Arre Bhai! My Punjabi editor gargles his mouth with rose water after brushing his teeth. My Tamil Brahmin editor is content with rasam sadam. To everyone according to his needs. Pure Communism!"

Competent, conventional and conformist, the median Tamil Brahmin is rarely adventurous or conspicuously unorthodox. Resilient and quickly adaptive, he would never wish "to stand out" as too heterodox or for that matter excessively orthodox either, despite the fact that until recent times, the "caste mark" on his forehead was a give-away.

A favourite expression of approbation in the community is "God-fearing." But his conformity is a convenience rather than conviction, arising partly from his reluctance to be the "odd man out". Ancient taboos atavistically present in him are observed in letter rather than in spirit as in the obligatory rituals regularly performed. His house has its sacred and secular spaces clearly demarcated. Even today, in villages and small towns where the "flat culture" has not yet found its way, a traditional Tamil Brahmin house has the ancient layout of increasingly "sacred" space as one goes inwards with the right of admission to each strictly caste-graded. In cities, where the "drawing-cum-dining room" layout has insinuated itself into domestic architecture, the Pooja room is inviolable.

A Tamil Brahmin's modernity is equally skin-deep, readily discarded in the privacy of his home. He eagerly sheds his trousers and shirt the moment he is back home and gets back to his comfortable lungi and bare chest. Until recently, alcohol was not a domestic amenity even among the more affluent and "modern" Tamil Brahmins and was meant mostly for others who might visit. Though for professional reasons and for compulsions of livelihood, he will go to the end of the earth, he is by no means as cosmopolitan, readily jettisoning his cultural baggage and merging with homogenized non-descript new environment. His domestic pieties are preserved whether in New Delhi or New Jersey and his twin-passion of temple worship and Carnatic music are never ever abandoned wherever he is.

Like the Jew to whom he is often compared, he is a great survivor. One of the earliest communities to have eagerly embraced the exhilarating new opportunities offered by English education in the early 19th century, the Tamil Brahmins had acquired a near monopoly of the much coveted Government employment of the times. This had naturally led to upper caste non-brahmin resentment, which effectively politicised itself in the first decades of the last century. When this self-consciousness captured political power and formed governments in the 1920s in the Madras Presidency, it pursued vigorously a policy of reservation that ended the Brahmin's earlier monopoly of government jobs. This was the signal for the great Tamil Brahmin Diaspora that still continues.

Denied opportunities at home, the Tamil Brahmin sought and found newer pastures in Bombay, Delhi and Calcutta. Caste-neutral professions such as accountancy and journalism became the alternatives. Still later, newer professional opportunities abroad, notably in the United States, became the magnet. And with the ascendancy in recent years of the new information technology where brainpower is more important than capital investment, this dispersal has become a flood. Almost every English-educated middle class Tamil Brahmin family has a younger member abroad.

Like much else in the world and in this country, the Tamil Brahmin profile is no doubt changing. The younger generations are conspicuously deracinated and some of the unique qualities of this community are getting blurred and homogenized with the rest of the world. Older generations still around are often disconcerted by the fact that the young Yuppies are losing their unique traits such as the love of their mother tongue and routine absorption of domestic pieties in an ambience of soft Hinduism.

Sanskrit slokas and Tamil Prabandam verses that used to reverberate in the house in the stillness of the evening are being heard less and less. Raucous rock music is displacing the softer Carnatic melodies and ancient civilities are being replaced by modern brusqueness in the attitude of the young towards the elders. But deep down, not much has changed. They are still the world's best second-rate men.

The author, a former Editor of The Indian Express, is a distinguished scholar in English and Tamil. An English version of Kamba Ramayana edited by him was published last year.

INDIA : Maoists masquerading as human rights groups

http://www.dailypioneer.com/
Plot to frame cops in 'encounter' killings
-Navin Upadhyay

The political slugfest over the Gujarat fake encounter
has unnerved the security establishment amid
indications that terrorists and Maoists could use
their sympathisers to exploit the situation and frame
their 'enemies' in similar cases of encounter
killings.


The security establishment is also concerned over
feedback being received from State police forces that
the politicisation of the Gujarat encounter could
hamper inter-State police interaction and
intelligence-sharing, both vital in nabbing or
eliminating terrorists and Maoists.

Sources said that a deep sense of demoralisation was
creeping into the police forces, paramilitary forces
and Army following the arrest of the three IPS
officers for the Gujarat incidents and the way a
systematic propaganda had been unleashed to damn all
encounter killings.

"This could badly hamper anti-insurgency operations in
Jammu & Kashmir and the North-East as well as
anti-Maoist operations in various parts of the
country," an official said, adding, "We are flooded
with inputs which indicate that policemen or jawans
may not shoot at terrorists or Maoists even in most
genuine circumstances."

Sources said that intercepts have revealed that
Maoists are trying to exploit the situation by
attempting to implicate several top cops involved in
anti-Maoist operations. Officials have received
specific inputs that Maoists in Andhra Pradesh have
asked a "human rights group" to implicate Additional
Director General of Police K Arvind Rao in fake
encounter cases. Rao is a no-nonsense officer who has
been actively involved in anti-Maoist operations in
Andhra Pradesh.

Even though few officials defended the brutal killing
of Sohrabuddin's wife by DG Vanzara and his men, they
felt that attempts on either side to politicise the
issue would deal a body blow to undercover operations
carried out by the police and Army to deal with
anti-national elements.

The feedback received from security agencies shows
that the war of words between the Gujarat and Andhra
Pradesh police could affect inter-State police
coordination.

"No police chief will now be forthcoming to provide
any intelligence or logistic support to another State
police for fear of being dragged to court and hauled
over the coals even in genuine encounters," said a
senior official.

"Without such effective coordination, which is based
on trust and sharing of information, there is no way
to track wanted anti-national elements," he said.

There was also strong apprehension that with some
political parties bent upon nailing Gujarat Chief
Minister Narendra Modi, the BJP-ruled States would be
forced to dig up old skeletons and unravel similar
encounter killings carried out during the Congress
regimes. Already Punjab has decided to probe old cases
of encounters.

"If politics over encounter killings continues, the
country's internal security will be at stake," an
official said, pointing out that in the absence of a
strong Federal law, there were few options but to take
harsh measures to deal with anti-national elements.

A senior security official pointed out that in many
cases, Pak-based terrorists had to be eliminated
because they openly threatened to kill the
interrogating officers on coming out of jail. "We have
several examples before us when such dreaded elements
came out on bail and then carried out retaliatory
killings," he said, adding, "if the policemen are not
given a free hand to deal with anti-nationals, the
country should be ready to face further growth of the
Maoists movement and insurgency in bordering States."

Check list for Rahul Gandhi... Cub Politician


Check list for Rahul Gandhi….
Sat, 2007-05-12 02:32

By J. N. Raina - Syndicate Features

The All India Congress needs a revamp. It is on the verge of bankruptcy. Its lot can be likened to that of a drowning man, trying to clutch at a straw. This is exactly what the 122-year-old party is doing to save itself. Without inhibitions, it is using the ‘services’ of Rahul Gandhi, a novice in politics.

He is just a ‘cub’ politician, whatever the family background. He has been forced into politics in the absence of a cohesive leadership. Merit hardly counts, because he is the heir apparent. Senior BJP leader Arun Jaitely has well said that Nehru-Gandhi family is like an ‘albatross’ (a large seabird) around the neck of the Congress, which, according to him, will ultimately result in the “downfall of the Grand Old Party”.

The Congress should take a recess and rejuvenate itself at every level. The party should retrieve itself from the shackles of the dynastic rule. Otherwise its future is bleak. The Nehru-Gandhi family should take political ‘sanyas’ and guide the party from outside. But will it happen?

Rahul Gandhi’s recent observations on issues like 1971 war and Babri Masjid demolition have not endeared him to the intelligentsia. Many party men and in fact, people at large were disappointed and feel that he has miles to go before he could consider himself a mature politician. The question arises, who is the guiding spirit behind Rahul, the 30 plus MP from Rae Bareilly? Does he consult senior Congressmen?

The rub is that the day when Rahul delivered his ‘sermon’ that one of the achievements of the Nehru - Gandhi family was the break-up of Pakistan, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, as if oblivious of what Rahul had uttered in ‘tutli basha’ earlier during the day, eulogized him as the party’s ‘new leader’.

“Rahul Gandhi is your future. He is sweating it out for you…,” Manmohan Singh told the UP electorate.

Rahul Gandhi was chosen to lead the party’s campaign in U P, knowing fully well that the Congress party’s future is bleak in the state. UP is a crucial ladder to rule India. It is a state where all stalwarts should have jumped into electioneering campaign.

There is no dearth of leaders in the Congress. But they are spellbound. Even after the controversial remarks, the Congress, instead of correcting the mistake, backed Rahul to the hilt by saying that these were ‘factually correct’.

Rahul’s remarks on the Bangladesh war expectedly provided ammunition to Pakistan to chastise India for what it says ‘destabilizing Pakistan’. What young Gandhi talked in Bareilly is not new. Pakistan knows it. And that is the reason why it has launched proxy war in India. But Pakistan has not taken Rahul seriously. It is clear from the fact that General Pervez Musharraf, who had wept after the division of Pakistan, has remained mum.

It is probable that Rahul’s election speeches were meant to appease voters who are longing for a strong leadership which can provide good governance. The Babri remark was meant to appease Muslims and ‘achievement’ to break-up Pakistan was targetted at the Hindus. However, his guides should know that this devious method will not yield the desired results.

The cub politician should ponder a while and make a list of mistakes committed by the Nehru-Gandhi family. Here is a short list .In the first place, who is responsible for the creation of Pakistan? Obviously Nehru. Who is responsible for the Kashmir problem? It was Nehru who took the Kashmir issue to the UNO after declaring unilateral ceasefire when the strategic battle was on in Kashmir. Nehru’s approach towards China was soft. That country invaded India in 1962. Over 43,000 sq km area is under China’s occupation. After winning 1971 war, Indira Gandhi lost to Pakistan Premier Z A Bhutto on the diplomatic front, while hammering out the Shimla Agreement.

- Syndicate Features - http://www.asiantribune.com/index.php?q=node/5683



Q: What do you think about Rahul Gandhi’s comment that his family divided Pakistan?

A: See, our socialist values do not encourage division of society. In fact, we encourage a European Union model where everyone can live together. Rahul, who the Congress says is its prime ministerial candidate of the future doesn't know anything. Frankly, I was shocked when he said that, he makes all these comments, sometimes on the Babri demolition, next he will talk about Operation Bluestar in a certain manner...you never know!

Rahul does not have any sense of history, sometimes its best to keep quiet. That is also an art but Rahul does not know when to keep quiet. I'm unable to explain his “division of Pak” comment to the minorities here.



What do you think about Rahul Gandhi's road show?

A: Rahul's road show doesn't make any difference because the Congress is dead in UP. The Congress ruled UP for 35 years, now if you take for example a 25-year-old youth, his whole life has been under the Congress whereas we have been in power for just three years. Rahul doesn't understand the culture of UP, he has to work in villages. Rahul hasn't done any grassroots work. He still has a long way to go; it is not as easy in UP as he thinks it is.
Akhlesh Yadav , Member of Parliament ,

'Rahul Gandhi doesn't know when to keep quiet'
18 Apr, 2007 l 0730 hrs ISTlRustam Roy/INDIATIMES NEWS NETWORK


"I think he needs a good teacher to learn our past history, politics and diplomacy," Kozhikode, April. 18,2007 (PTI) CPI(M) Polit Bureau member S Ramachandran Pillai

Technology Acquisition and the Chinese Threat

Source: Stratfor
May 09, 2007 19 28 GMT


By Fred Burton

A U.S. District Court jury in Santa Ana, Calif., was still deliberating May 9 in the trial of Chi Mak, a naturalized Chinese-American accused of acting as an agent of the Chinese government and exporting military information, among other charges. Chi's wife, brother, sister-in-law and nephew are awaiting trial in connection with the case.

The clandestine and highly sensitive nature of espionage cases, as well as the need to protect the sources and tactics used to discover such operations, makes it difficult to prosecute alleged spies, even when the government is certain the accused party is guilty. For example, alleged American spy Felix Bloch was observed meeting with a KGB officer in a Paris cafe, though he was never prosecuted. Prosecuting suspected spies is further complicated in cases involving the Chinese government, which is renowned for its patient, long-term approach to espionage. Due to these factors, U.S. prosecutors did not accuse Chi of espionage, but of the lesser crimes of being an unregistered foreign agent and violating export laws.

Regardless of the outcome of the trial, however, the testimony and evidence presented in this case provide an inside look at the methods the Chinese use in the United States to acquire cutting-edge technology -- and the U.S. government's efforts to counter them.

An Age-Old Problem

Espionage, often called "the world's second-oldest profession," has been practiced since the beginning of recorded history. In the wake of the 9/11 attacks and the launch of the global war on terrorism, however, the FBI redirected nearly all of its assets for foreign counterintelligence (FCI) programs into the counterterrorism effort. This meant that for the first time in the bureau's history, practically no counterintelligence efforts were taking place. Although the scope of the damage caused by this virtual FCI hiatus might never be fully appreciated, the October 2005 arrest of the Chi family was one sign that the pendulum was beginning to swing the other way -- that resources were being allocated to address the enormous problem of foreign spies.

While the FBI's limited FCI programs run up against the espionage efforts of dozens of foreign countries, no country poses a more aggressive or widespread intelligence threat to the United States than China.

The Chinese in many ways use the espionage version of the "human wave" attacks they employed against U.S. military forces during the Korean War. Due to China's size and the communist government's control of society, the Chinese can devote immense manpower to gathering intelligence. For example, the U.S. State Department issued 382,000 nonimmigrant visas and 37,000 immigrant visas to Chinese citizens in 2006. Additionally, more than 62,000 Chinese students were studying at U.S. universities last year. Granted, very few of these people were spies, though the number still represents an enormous pool of potential suspects to vet and watch, especially when one considers that there are only 12,575 FBI agents in the United States -- most of whom are assigned to tasks other than FCI, such as terrorism and white-collar crime.

The bottom line, therefore, is that it is very difficult to determine which of these visitors are in the United States to steal secrets and technology. Indeed, many serve in both capacities: They are legitimate students and part of the intelligence effort. Furthermore, not everyone who collects information for the Chinese government realizes they are doing so. By engaging in normal conversations with Chinese friends or relatives about all manner of things, including work, the average person can be providing these friends -- the real intelligence agents -- with critical information.

Additionally, in many cases, the activities of Chinese agents do not fit the legal definition of espionage. Scouring open-source material for new and emerging technologies, attending technology conferences and trade shows and hiring firms to look at new technologies are all legal activities -- and U.S. companies do this all the time. Some Chinese agents, then, are engaging much more in business intelligence than in true espionage. Given the blurred lines between civilian and government/military technology in China, however, the information gleaned can easily find its way into military applications.

The Chinese Style

The Chinese are renowned for their patient and persistent espionage methods, and for their technological reverse-engineering capabilities. They also are noted for taking an extremely long view of their political and military needs and of the intelligence required to meet them. Because of this, the Chinese pose the greatest intelligence threat to U.S. technology.

Aggressive efforts by the Chinese government to obtain critical technologies are no secret. The Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology, for instance, lists science and technology acquisition programs such as its National High-tech R&D Program (known as the 863 Program) on its official Web site. This program provides guidance and funding for acquiring or developing technology that will have a "significant impact on enhancing China's overall national strengths." Targeted technologies include those for civilian use in areas such as information technology (IT), biotechnology, agriculture, manufacturing, energy and the environment. Many of these technologies, however, also have military applications.

While the 863 Program calls for the Chinese to acquire or develop these technologies, it is far cheaper and quicker to acquire them -- and China has a long history of doing so. A great many of China's weapons systems have been developed either by stealing designs and technologies or by outright copying the entire system. In addition to copying small arms such as the AK-47, the RPG-7 and the Makarov pistol, Chinese military industries have even reverse-engineered fighter aircraft. The Chengdu F-7 fighter, for example, is a copy of the Soviet MiG-21. This crash technological advancement program is intended not only to close China's technological gap with the West, but also to leapfrog ahead of it.

To acquire critical technologies, then, the Chinese rely not only on traditional espionage, but also on collecting the needed information via open sources. Such open-source collection is both faster and easier than engaging in espionage -- and it is legal. In effect, the Chinese are exploiting the openness of the U.S. research and development (R&D) system. Such openness allows faster development of technologies in the United States because scientists and engineers from various institutions and companies can share ideas, and thus contribute to different aspects of the concept. The openness, however, also makes it easy for others to "eavesdrop" on the ongoing technological conversation.

Other countries, including Israel, France, India and South Korea, do the same thing -- though none has matched China in the amount of effort and resources devoted to this process. To obtain the desired technology, China is sending students, scholars and researchers to work and study in the United States and other industrialized countries. Some of these visitors then return to China to work in high-tech "incubator parks," where R&D takes place. Among this group, however, are real intelligence officers who are sent to steal critical technologies.

The Chi case provides insight into this process at work in the United States. According to the U.S. government, Chi was employed as a principal support engineer for Power Paragon, a subsidiary of L-3 Communications/SPD Technologies/Power Systems Group in Anaheim, Calif. Chi, who was born in China and became a U.S. citizen in 1985, was granted a "secret-level" security clearance in 1996 and worked on more than 200 U.S. defense and military contracts as an electrical engineer.

During the investigation into Chi's activities, the FBI performed a "trash cover" on him -- literally combing through his trash for evidence -- and found two documents containing instructions for Chi to attend more seminars and lists of the technologies he was to obtain. The lists had been torn up into small pieces, but the FBI was able to reconstruct and translate them. The FBI then performed surreptitious searches of Chi's residence and reportedly found documents pertaining to a number of the technologies listed on both documents.

Redefining the 'Company'

Efforts to collect sensitive technology are conducted not only by individual intelligence agents, but also by the many corporations established and controlled by the Chinese government. One such corporation is the Xinshidai Group, which was established by the People's Liberation Army (PLA) and is one of China's two largest military hardware conglomerates. One of the armaments companies Xinshidai controls is Norinco, which is widely known in the United States for sales of light arms and ammunition.

While conglomerates such as Xinshidai are not officially part of the Chinese government, they were established solely to serve the needs of the PLA and the Chinese military-industrial complex. And one important need of the Chinese government is to acquire advanced defense technology. Many Xinshidai subunits, including Norinco, own subsidiary companies in the United States, and employees of these companies attend trade shows and technology conferences, and also meet with representatives from other companies. Of course, with so much information available online, much of this open-source collection can be accomplished from a desk in China

Many times, early technologies related to the defense industry are not yet classified and therefore not protected. These technologies often become classified only after the U.S. government has purchased them. Information on these emerging technologies, then, can be obtained during the early stage, when their developers are applying for patents or looking for venture capital, partners and/or customers.

The technology acquisition process more often crosses the line into traditional espionage inside China, where Chinese intelligence officers -- operating without fear of prosecution -- frequently steal sensitive documents or copy a target's hard drive. This situation is further complicated when one considers that many of the major U.S.-based corporations doing business in China or seeking to expand market share there also have lucrative contracts with the U.S. Defense Department or other federal agencies. Some of these companies are going beyond Chinese manufacturing and are establishing design and software development centers in the country, meaning even more technology and proprietary information must be made available there.

The expansion of foreign companies into China brings a host of potential targets right to the Chinese intelligence apparatus, allowing China to apply even more pressure to even more points in its quest for technology. Moreover, the techniques used against companies and travelers in China can be far more aggressive than those employed against similar targets in the United States.

In addition to the threat posed to U.S. national security, allowing China to close the technology gap through the acquisition of proprietary information -- legally or not -- ultimately will hurt U.S. multinationals as Chinese companies use the information to become competitors. This means U.S. companies wishing to remain competitive by operating in China or partnering with Chinese firms and their subsidiaries in the United States must maintain a high level of vigilance.

Chinese-born engineer convicted of espionage in US

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS



Jurors convicted a Chinese-born engineer yesterday of conspiring to export U.S. defense technology to China, including data on an electronic propulsion system that could make submarines virtually undetectable.

Chi Mak also was found guilty of acting as an unregistered foreign agent, attempting to violate export-control laws and making false statements to the FBI. Prosecutors had dropped a charge of exporting defense articles.

When the verdict was read, Mak at first showed no emotion but then appeared to hold back tears as defense attorney Marilyn Bednarski teared up and rubbed his back. He faces up to 35 years in prison when he is sentenced Sept. 10.

The government accused Mak, a naturalized U.S. citizen, of taking thousands of pages of documents from his defense-contractor employer, Power Paragon of Anaheim, and giving them to his brother, who passed them along to Chinese authorities over a number of years.

Mak, 66, was arrested in 2005 in Los Angeles after FBI agents stopped his brother and sister-in-law as they boarded a flight to Hong Kong.

Investigators said they found three encrypted CDs in their luggage that contained documents on a submarine propulsion system and a solid-state power switch for ships.

Chi Mak’s wife, brother and other relatives will go on trial together June 5.

Mak acknowledged during the trial that he kept copies of classified documents in his office. He said he did not realize at the time that making the copies was illegal.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Greg Staples said that the government may use the verdict to try to negotiate plea bargains with Mak’s family members, who pleaded not guilty.

The six-week trial featured testimony from a parade of FBI agents, U.S. Navy officials and encryption and espionage experts.

Key to the case was the government’s allegation that Mak confessed to the conspiracy — and even identified his Chinese government handler and specific restricted documents — during an untaped jailhouse interview two days after his arrest.

Mak testified that he never confessed during that interview, but admitted that he lied about the number of times he had visited China and when he told he did not have friends or relatives there. He said he felt intimidated during the interrogation.

“This is why I lied,” he said. “They were pushing me that night.”

Geopolitics and oil supply disruption: Is India prepared?

Source: IANS
Written by
Bhamy V. Shenoy

What do we do when crude price touches $250 a barrel? Even with high foreign exchange reserves, India will have a very hard time to absorb such a high price. We could dismiss this as Doom's Day scare mongering at our peril. But then a study done last year by one of the international banks projects such three-figure oil price-line as bottom line case scenario, given the volatile potential for oil supply situation; given the potential for Iran-US confrontation getting a lot worse before it gets better.

During the last week of March, the international crude market became jittery in view of fears of possible attack on Iran either by the US or Israel. Within hours of such informed speculation gaining currency crude price shot up by as much as $5 per barrel. There were concerns that Iranian export of 2.3 million barrels per day itself may be lost, which is more than the spare capacity available now.

There were speculations of the Strait of Hormuz being closed by Iran or made inoperable. This would shut down the export of Middle East crude supply of about 15.5 million bd. That accounts for two-fifths of the world's crude oil traded by tanker, and about one-fifth of total oil production according to Energy Information Agency of the USA.

Crude price is a gamble in the combative global politics over the Middle-East issue. Point is whether we in India have it in us to cope with shocks and disruption on the oil supply front. Does India have a credible energy security strategy?

Planning Commission in their Integrated Energy Policy document released last year defined the imperatives of energy security. It said, "We are energy secure when we can supply lifeline energy to all our citizens irrespective of their ability to pay for it as well as meet their effective demand for safe and convenient energy to satisfy their various needs at competitive prices, at all times and with a prescribed confidence level considering shocks and disruptions that can be reasonably expected." This is the best definition I have come across. But our political class has done very little to implement it.

There are two aspects of energy security - 1) long term measures such as reducing demand for energy and increasing strategic supplies in all possible ways; and 2) oil reserves to deal with sudden scarcity whenever it occurs. My focus here is on the second aspect, our preparedness to be able maintain energy supply during times of shocks and disruptions.

More than the price shock there could be a devastating possibility of non-availability of fuel to run our industries; to move goods and people and, to keep the kitchen stove burning in the multitude of middle class, and more of our urban poor households that are totally dependent on LPG or kerosene...

The last three major oil shocks affected India in terms of sudden price increases. Impact on petroleum supplies was minimal. But a shutdown of the Strait of Hormuz or any such disastrous development would definitely hurt where it hits the common man. India has been planning, for many years, to have strategic petroleum reserves (SPR) like most of the developed countries. They hold adequate crude stocks to cover their domestic requirements for 90 days or more.

Our experts who drafted Integrated Energy Policy Report reckon there is 'no proven justification' to maintain such costly strategic storage level. Their recommendation was to hold stocks to last for no more than 30 days. In my view such a policy is based on wrong premise and should be revisited. It is true that unlike major economies like the US and EU, which may be able to influence the pricing through the use of SPR, India may not be in a position to have an impact.

Tragedy is, even a modest goal of holding 30-day stocks is far from being realised. Only very recently a decision has been taken to construct SPR of 5 tonnes in Mangalore and Visakhapatnam and, that too, by a distant 2015. The total cost estimate is Rs.12,500 crores (Rs.125 billion). The planned SPR represents just 15 days of the nation's fuel requirements.

It is important that LPG and kerosene is made available in different parts of India at times of oil supply disruption. It is possible to put up with the shortage of petrol and diesel for some time, with some inconvenience. But it is impossible to do without LPG or kerosene. We may not take out our cars, and take to biking or walking, instead, but can we go without food? If we fail in proper management of shortages, we may well have to face outbreak of kerosene riots in the country. We need a world-class information system that will give inventory statistics on petroleum products. It is time the government put in place a strategic oil- planning group to draw up a contingency plan to meet the possible shortages of LPG and kerosene in India.

Top-level US defense intelligence team expected in Sri Lanka

Saturday, May 12, 2007, 13:49 GMT, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

May 12, Colombo: A top-level team of intelligence officials from the United States will travel to Sri Lanka next week.

They will advise Sri Lankan government defense authorities on measures to counter the threat of air power from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

The defense intelligence team of the US Pacific Command stationed in Hawaii will arrive on the request of the Sri Lanka government, defense sources said.

Bering Strait Conference Marked a `Major Phase Shift'

Interview: Hal B.H. Cooper
Bering Strait Conference Marked a `Major Phase Shift'

Click and Read

What Do You Know About the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA)

Mmodernization' Bill?
The Bush Administration is pushing legislation that would legalize its National Security Agency (NSA) warrantless wiretapping program and other secret spying programs it may develop in the future. The Senate Intelligence Committee may consider adding the administration's bill to its 2008 intelligence spending bill when it meets on May 17.



Washington, D.C. - infoZine - Here is what the proposed bill would do:

By changing the definition of "surveillance," the bill would exempt wiretapping of Americans' communications into or out of the United States from approval by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
It would also let telephone companies off the hook for illegally complying with the NSA's requests for Americans' phone records, without insisting on warrants.
Finally, it would also give blanket immunity to anyone who collaborates with government spying in the future.


Should this bill become law? Missouri Senator Christopher "Kit" Bond, is on the Senate Intelligence Committee. You can call the senator now, if you have not already done so:

Senator Christopher "Kit" Bond: (202) 224-5721

Or contact the Senator from your state:

2007-2008 Members
Democrats
John D. Rockefeller IV, West Virginia, Chairman
Dianne Feinstein, California
Ron Wyden, Oregon
Evan Bayh, Indiana
Barbara A. Mikulski, Maryland
Russell D. Feingold, Wisconsin
Bill Nelson, Florida
Sheldon Whitehouse, Rhode Island

Republicans
Christopher S. Bond, Missouri, Vice Chairman
John Warner, Virginia
Chuck Hagel, Nebraska
Saxby Chambliss, Georgia
Orrin Hatch, Utah
Olympia J. Snowe, Maine
Richard Burr, North Carolina

Harry Reid, Nevada, Ex Officio
Mitch McConnell, Kentucky, Ex Officio
Carl Levin, Michigan, Ex Officio
John McCain, Arizona, Ex Officio

Contact information links for each of the Senators: intelligence.senate.gov/memberscurrent.html

Here are some suggested talking points from our April 26 action alert:

Suggested Talking Points. Tell the person who answers the telephone your name and that you are a constituent and you vote. Choose one or two points to make about the proposed bill, such as the following examples:

The Bush Administration's bill rewriting the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) is a radical step backward that will actually expand the NSA's surveillance of Americans' conversations and communications without any judicial oversight.
You are troubled by the bill's revised definition of "electronic surveillance," which would exempt surveillance of millions of Americans' communications that currently require FISA warrants, despite the Fourth Amendment's promise of privacy and warrants.
You oppose the bill's pardoning of phone companies and Internet service providers that violated long-standing federal law by giving the NSA access to their customers' conversations, e-mails, and phone records without the required warrants.
FISA should not be weakened. The 1978 law was written to protect Americans from government spying, while giving the government tools to conduct surveillance on spies and foreign terrorists. The Bush Administration is once again asking for a blank check, following its violation of the public trust by illegally creating the warrantless wiretapping program in the first place.
At the administration's request, Congress has "modernized" FISA several times since 9/11, beginning with the USA PATRIOT Act. New technologies that make it much easier for the government to vacuum up whole streams of our communication data and other personal information call for stronger protections-NOT more sweeping government spying powers.


The administration has not made a case for the sweeping changes it is requesting, other than repeating the same fear-inducing terms it has used to expand executive power--such as claims about "weapons of mass destruction." The law already provides ample authority to monitor terrorist plots, with court supervision of surveillance on these shores. Clearly the requested changes go too far

May 11, 2007

Cheney Is Pushing Israeli Strikes Against Iran With Arab Allies

May 9, 2007 (EIRNS)--Arab sources continue to insist that the number-one item on Vice President Dick Cheney's agenda, as he continues his six-day, five-nation tour of the Arab world, is to prepare backing for an Israeli pre-emptive strike against Iran. Today, Cheney made an unannounced stop in Baghdad, to confer with Iraq's Prime Minister al-Maliki and receive a briefing from American military commanders.

While Iraq has been publicly identified by the Bush Administration as the top priority in Cheney's trip, Arab sources pointed out that there is very little for the Vice President to say or do about the Iraq situation, which is rapidly degenerating into a fullscale ethnic-cleansing civil war. The sources emphasized that Saudi Arabia is pouring money and material support into the Sunni tribes in the western Anbar Province, to encourage them to wipe out the foreign Al-Qaeda fighters, before they return home to spread instability throughout the Persian Gulf and North Africa — as happened at the close of the Afghanistan war in 1989. Arab sources emphasized today that the Saudis will not halt this activity, no matter what the Vice President says to King Abdullah. In effect, the Saudis are feeding the Sunni insurgency, through the overlap between the Sunni tribes in the western part of the country, and the major Sunni resistance organizations.

Since this is an intractable problem, which the Vice President cannot solve, the Arab sources insisted in interviews today with EIR, that Cheney's message in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Jordan will be: Diplomacy with Iran has failed over the past year to halt Iran's nuclear program, and now it is time to escalate the pressure on the Tehran regime. According to one source, Cheney will also alert the Arab leaders that Israel is preparing contingency plans for strikes against Iranian nuclear sites, and that the United States is prepared to assist the Sunni Arab regimes in countering any retaliation in the event that the Israelis actually launch such attacks.

In an interview with Al Arabiya television, that aired on May 9, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, referring to Iran, declared that "The American president will not abandon the military option, and I believe that we do not want him to do so." While Rice also emphasized that the Bush Administration preferred a diplomatic solution, her words echoed enough of the Cheney sentiments that they will be read as a further indication that the Bush Administration is still looking to depose the regime in Tehran through military action.

AP CM's US Visit : Hindu group Save Temples Forum protest

Interview with the president of SaveTemples forum



SaveTemples forum president addresses protestors



Footage of the protest



Slogan shouting in protest


Slogan shouting and Hindu demands in protest

Monetary Reform and How a National Monetary System Should Work

by Richard C. Cook

Global Research, May 11, 2007

The author has received an overwhelming response to his recent Global Research report entitled, “An Emergency Program of Monetary Reform for the United States.” The introduction to that report stated that, “the U.S. financial system headed by the Federal Reserve System has failed, and…only an emergency program of monetary reform can address conditions which may be leading to a catastrophe like the Great Depression or worse.”

This new report on “Monetary Reform and How a National Monetary System Should Work” continues the dialogue by outlining the principles and mechanisms available to help guide the creation of a monetary system for any nation that wishes to enjoy economic democracy with prosperity. This would be in contrast to the collapsing debt-based monetary system overseen by the Federal Reserve and the other central banks of the world, coordinated at the top by such institutions as the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank, and the Bank of International Settlements.

Note that all the banks of the Western world are ultimately private institutions owned by the world’s super-rich. The international banking structure is operated by and on behalf of the world’s monetary elite primarily for their own profit.

Just below the banking system are the giant corporations of the global economy which derive capital from and funnel profits into the financiers’ empire. Bringing up the rear are the populations and debt-serfs of the no-longer-sovereign nation states, including those of the United States, whose participation in the system as consumers is essential, but whose jobs continue to disappear as manufacturing is increasingly automated.

The author had realized as early as 1970 that the central problem with the world’s economy lay on the side of distribution, not production. He came to Washington, D.C., that year and spent most of the next thirty-six years working within sight of the Washington Monument, learning how things really work, and pondering the methods that might be more in concord with such founding documents of American democracy as the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. Twenty-one of these years were with the U.S. Treasury Department.

Now, for the first time, this report builds on the findings of many of the world’s monetary reformers past and present by offering a complete prescription for a new and better world. This prescription is radically different from most progressive reform agendas that address only symptoms of the underlying systemic failures.

WHERE MONEY COMES FROM

When setting out to study monetary principles, we must realize how little we know of the real facts of monetary history. Economics is an extremely limited discipline rife with untested assumptions and unchallengeable dogmas. Its most pernicious doctrine is the assertion that there is something called “the market,” where there is an “invisible hand” that makes everything work out the way it is supposed to.

Actually, an economy functions according to the principles according to which it is designed and regulated. If it is designed to funnel wealth into the hands of the monetary controllers, then that is what the “market” and the “invisible hand” will do. If it is designed to foster “the general welfare,” as it should according to the preamble to the U.S. Constitution, then the “market” and the “invisible hand” will tend in that direction.

Unfortunately, we march today to the tune of the monetary elite, so they are the ones who reap the profits and the benefits. They are the ones on whom the “invisible hand” lavishes the wealth of the world.

It is done through the process of bank-created credit. While during the nineteenth century other forms of money circulated, such as large quantities of coinage, silver certificates, and government-issued greenbacks, almost all the money that exists today originates through a loan by a financial institution to an individual or a business.

When a loan is made it is issued as a liability on the bank’s ledger. When it is repaid, the liability is canceled. With today’s computer systems, all transactions are digitized, of course. The bank keeps the interest on the loan as its combined administrative fee and profit. The money that is lent had no prior existence.

Once money is created as credit, it takes many forms according to how the loan recipient spends it. Some credit is used by businesses or individuals as investment in order to generate profits over and above the amount they must repay to the bank with interest. If the money is used simply for consumer purchases, the individual consumer must pay back the loan through future earnings. In those cases where the borrower defaults on the loan or goes bankrupt, the money simply remains in circulation however it was spent.

Unfortunately, large amounts of credit are used mainly for speculation, not for any benefit to the producing economy. This includes securities bought on margin and borrowing by hedge funds where the fund may make a profit even if the value of its investments goes down. Bank-created credit in this case is little more than chips in a casino.

Other borrowing takes place by equity funds and other types of investors for leveraged mergers or buyouts of entire companies, where the predators wreck a company’s infrastructure by reducing costs and selling its assets, then pay back their bank loans before unloading the business on someone else.

The most important thing to realize about the banking system is that the money which enters into circulation as purchasing power must eventually be returned in the repayment of loans. This is why the Federal Reserve’s monetary measures—M1, M2, and M3—are meaningless, because so much of it has liens against it.

We are taught that paying it back is the way things should be—obviously, if we borrow something, we should pay back what we owe.

But the peculiar thing is that because the borrowed money pays for labor, commodities, rent, etc., it becomes part of the prices that are eventually charged for goods and services. However, when the money goes back to the bank to cancel a loan, that purchasing power disappears. Neither the banks nor economists ever make note of the fact that this process creates a chronic shortage of purchasing power which must be filled by more loans and more bank profits. The economy is thus a treadmill that borrowers must constantly trudge along in order to have enough money for survival.

So a system which is seemingly grounded in the simple adage that if you borrow you should repay is all wrong. The reason it is all wrong is that in most cases, individual consumers should never have to borrow in the first place. And we never ask ourselves why, with the abundance that is possible from modern science and technology, should people have to borrow money at interest for the necessities of life—a house, a car, household expenses, an education, etc.

Thus we realize that the financial system works against what should be the real purpose of money, which is to serve as a ticket for the purchase by people of articles they need to survive or otherwise desire to utilize once the demand for survival has been met.

People have needs and desires. The economy is fully capable of producing all the goods and services needed to fulfill those needs and desires. But the system is broken, because, despite the abundance of credit available for financial speculation, there is not sufficient money available at the consumer level to mediate between prices and consumption, even when most people have a job. We still must borrow, and that is wrong. There should be a better way for society to generate the money for what people need.

So what is really going on here?

One of the things that is going on is that money is being mis-defined as a commodity. People who believe money is a commodity think it has value in-and-of-itself. But one of the hardest things to grasp about money is that not even gold or silver money, or paper money supposedly backed by gold or silver, has or could have intrinsic value.

Actually, money is anything that a willing buyer and a willing seller agree to exchange for something else. Money could be and has been such things as gold, silver, paper, wampum, cows, stones, shells, sticks with notches, or, today, electronic blips. What may appear to give gold or silver value is its scarcity and durability. But unless there are goods and services available and for sale, gold and silver are totally useless. You can’t eat gold or silver, live in them, or wear them. In and of themselves they have no value. What gives any money value is the producing economy and nothing else.

So by this definition, bank-created credit, while it may generate money which a willing buyer and seller agree to exchange, is money with strings attached, in that at some point, it must travel back to the bank in cancellation of a debt. Thus a buyer who offers it to a seller is, in reality, deceiving himself about his actual ability to pay. He is not a free man. Always lurking in the back of his mind is that with every article he has purchased he has shackled himself ever more firmly to future indentured servitude.

The seller, on the other hand, may breathe a little more freely having just acquired some of the monetary medium necessary to repay his own debts. And so it goes, ad infinitum. Even if the money were backed by gold and silver, the system would work in exactly the same way.

So by what right do the bankers bind the economy in such a straightjacket of debt? Again, the underlying logic is that money is a commodity. A group of men have money. It is their money, we believe, rightfully earned. Therefore, because these individuals have money, they have a further right to lend it to others.

But under existing laws, the banking system then makes the leap of assuming that because they have money which can be lent, they have a right to lend much more than they actually possess. Somehow they have become fit practitioners of the fractional reserve banking system whereby, as described above, they can lend simply by creating debits in their computers, based on some ratio between their capital stock and their lending ceiling.

But if bankers can do this, why can’t you or I? If I have $1,000, why can’t I then lend $10,000 and collect the corresponding interest? The answer is that a bank has a government charter and supposedly can guarantee through various safeguards that the people to whom it lends can repay. But even this isn’t required of a bank any more if it can package its loans and sell them to some other business entity, such as an investment company.

But the fact is that banks can only be created by people who are already rich, can put up some initial capital, build a functioning business, and obtain the government charter mentioned above. Once they do this, they are the masters of the world.

Also note that under today’s highly unstable financial conditions, it is not only banks which create credit through lending. Since the deregulation of the 1980s, Wall Street brokerage firms greatly expanded the system whereby speculative loans are floated for purchase of securities. This has resulted in a current ratio of debt to equity of 22:1 in the U.S. securities markets, where debt far outweighs value.


WHAT IS CREDIT?

The word “credit” is one of the most widely-used and important in the English language. Dictionary.com lists twenty-one definitions. All these definitions have some connotation of the concept of “value” and the exchange of that value across the dimensions of time and space between one person and another. Obviously, the ideas of “credit” and “money” are closely related.

The idea of credit when viewed from a macroeconomic perspective refers to the ability of an economy to produce goods and services of value to the members of that community. It refers to the potential value of that economy to support life. What it does not and cannot refer to is money in and of itself, because money, as we have seen, has no intrinsic value. Without the credit-potential of a producing economy, money has no meaning.

On the other hand, money can be a convenient yardstick to measure credit, as when we state that the 2006 GDP of the United States was $12.98 trillion. But actually, the “real” credit of the U.S. economy was much higher, because our economy is not running at anywhere near its full capacity. The automobile industry, for instance, is running at about fifty percent of its physical potential. So the real credit of the U.S. is actually higher than the GDP.

“Credit” in an economic sense confers a legal right to draw on the goods and services that make up the potential GDP of the nation. It is the way the society agrees to hand out the monetary tickets by which the GDP may be acquired.

Obviously, the issuance of either too many or too few tickets will cause problems. The issuance of too few tickets will result in underproduction, poverty, even death. The issuance of too many tickets will result in inflation. When the Federal Reserve creates, then deflates, asset bubbles, like the currently collapsing housing bubble, these effects alternate, resulting in the kind of ongoing economic chaos we have seen for decades.

It can readily be seen that credit is a cultural phenomenon. It is the sum total of the entire productive capacity of the nation. It has grown from the past, exists in the present, and can be projected into the future. It is the result of the work of untold millions of people, dead and gone, alive today, and yet unborn. Many of its results may be proprietary, in terms of businesses, property, and patents owned, etc., but every person who has ever lived, lives today, or who will live in the future is a participant in that culture.

Therefore, credit can and should be viewed as a communal endowment, a public phenomenon, a part of what is called “the commons,” even with the normal and natural fact of the existence of private property. So the use of credit and its distribution should be treated as a public utility, like water or electricity. Everyone should have a right to its use, according to some rational, lawful, and humane criteria of need or contribution to creating it.

As with the use of other utilities, it is the responsibility of the community to see that credit is used wisely and for positive and constructive purposes. But no one should be denied it altogether, because it is a necessity of life.

Money, as a measure of credit, should therefore be available to the entire community. The government, as the representative of the community, has the responsibility of overseeing, coordinating, and regulating its availability, keeping in mind the fairest and most socially beneficial ways for it to be utilized. Monetary reformers would argue that extensive availability of credit to the working population should be part of the “general welfare” guaranteed by the preamble to the U.S. Constitution. This should not be confused with the virtually unlimited availability of credit to speculators and stock predators as is presently the case with our Wall Street-based economy.

But these principles are poorly recognized. Money, and therefore credit, is viewed as private property, even though most of it, as stated previously, is made by banks “out of thin air.” It is no exaggeration to say that the existing system is one whereby the financial elite has confiscated and privatized the most important public resource of all, more important than water, land, electric power, etc. This has resulted in much of the world’s wars, poverty, and crime.

Let us again examine the ways money enters into the economic system, this time looking at the total credit picture of the U.S. economy. We said that the 2006 GDP was $12.98 trillion. This takes into account a trade deficit of $726 billion. The question is, where did the credit come from to purchase the GDP, because, by definition, it all had to be paid for in prices.

According to official data, the available national income in 2006 was $10.23 trillion, including wages, salaries, interest, dividends, personal business earnings, and capital gains. Of this amount, approximately one-third was taken through taxes by government at the federal, state, and local levels.

Churning through the economy was borrowing of all kinds—for consumption, commerce, investment, speculation, new government debt, and to finance business transactions. In fact it was the net increase in debt—$3.77 trillion—that paid for the difference between GDP and national income.

Debt also financed much of the trade deficit by our borrowing to purchase what was imported from abroad. The need to borrow has been greatly increased by the decline of the U.S. manufacturing sector, where well-paying jobs that contributed to the national income have disappeared or been outsourced overseas. The ratio of debt to national income has reached historic proportions—460 percent of the national income today vs.186 percent in 1957.

Orthodox economics, including the manipulation of interest rates by the Federal Reserve, has no tools for resolving this crisis. The main reason is that neither economists nor politicians understand it, though bankers certainly do.

Orthodox economics is helpless because people do not understand how the gap between production and purchasing power relates to the way the microeconomics of the corporation translates into the macroeconomics of nations. We observed earlier in this report that prices of articles within the economy include the loans that are taken out during the production process. But these loans are canceled as bank liabilities when they are repaid. Therefore the purchasing power of the economy always lags behind prices.

But this is not the only area where prices include factors that are not paid out in wages, salaries, dividends, or other sources of individual or business income. Other factors include retained earnings, insurance, certain maintenance and overhead costs, plus the cumulative effect of corporations buying from each other with payments which never exit the production system.

As a result, only somewhere between a third and a half of all costs are ever distributed to consumers. This analysis has been documented at length by the Social Credit movement and has been well-known to monetary reformers for decades.

This gap is what drives nations to seek overseas markets for their products as the U.S. did so strenuously during the post-World War II period. When the U.S. balance of payments later fell into negative territory, we tried to compensate by the policy of “dollar hegemony,” whereby we foisted our currency on the rest of the world as the principal means of oil trading, maintenance of currency reserves, and paying for our trade deficit.

But as the U.S. internal and external debt grows and our fiscal and trade deficits deepen, a total systemic breakdown is starting to take place. The main recent prop of the U.S. economy, the housing bubble, is deflating. And frantically, we are trying to escape by a radical devaluation of the dollar combined with an aggressive military policy based essentially on confiscating the resources of other nations such as Iraq.

This, combined with action to prop up our fiscal deficit by importing dollars spent abroad on manufactured products we no longer make ourselves, has created a house of cards that must soon come down. All that is lacking is a major shock, such as a widening war in the Middle East or inability by foreign creditors to continue to accept devalued dollars.

Neither devaluation nor aggression will solve the problem which derives from the failure of debt financing to create real purchasing power and thereby resolve the chaos through which a system built for the profits of the financiers can never produce enough unencumbered credit to maintain our desired level of production and the standard of living that goes with it.

THE PRESCRIPTION

As with anyone facing bankruptcy, it is time for those who wish to understand the current U.S. economic crisis to take a deep breath, step back, and gather themselves in order to correctly assess the situation.

Obviously the solution is not to risk blowing up the world by continuing to resolve our domestic economic problems through overseas conquests. This is what the Western nations have been trying to do for centuries, and it appears that the rest of the world may finally have had enough. This is especially the case today when the main factor that is floating the U.S. economy is the huge U.S. trade imbalance where foreign nations must use the dollars they take in to their ultimate disadvantage by financing a federal budget deficit that is measured in dollars whose value is dropping.

Nor does the solution lie on the production side of the equation. The U.S. and other developed economies are capable of producing everything their populations need, even accompanied by a reasonable amount of foreign trade, especially if we can return our industry to the level of productivity we enjoyed prior to the Federal Reserve-induced recession of 1979-83 which gave us today’s anemic “service economy.”

Rather the solution lies with the federal government taking back its constitutionally-authorized control of the credit of the nation from the financiers and managing it as previously stated—as a public utility. There is no need to eliminate capitalism, change the basis of property ownership, abolish corporations, etc., because the organization and administration of the production process is essentially irrelevant to the real problem.

Once again, the producing economy is not the problem. It has performed with tremendous effectiveness in creating the goods and services people need and want. It would be the basis for real economic democracy if its bounty could be made available and distributed in accordance with democratic principles.

It is essential to realize that the central government of a sovereign nation has the right, the ability, and the responsibility to introduce ALL new credit into existence. This is totally different from having the central bank “print money” by relaxing lending policies, resulting in an infusion of cheap loans which must still be repaid.

Sovereign creation of credit is not based on debt. It is and should be based on direct spending of money into circulation by the government itself. Obviously the government should do this in a way that promotes the best interests of the members of society while respecting the varying degrees of contribution by those of different levels of skill and achievement. It is quite possible to enact such a program with due regard to all established conventions of private property and the private ownership and control of existing wealth.

To those who are concerned that the concept of publicly-controlled credit postulates a monetary supply that can be turned on and off like tap water, this is a misconception. There is indeed a cornucopia of supply on the earth, but it is not of money. If is of what human beings are capable of producing with the skill of their hands and their heads and the knowledge of science and technology.

Money is only a ticket to transfer this abundance from producer to consumer, but it must be plentiful enough to allow the transfer of all that is reasonably desired, it should not be misused for financial speculation, and it is the job of government to bring that money to the place of the economic activity where it is needed. The key point is that such money should not be encumbered by debt to a financial institution, including the banks of the Federal Reserve System.

This should be done according the following principles:
The decisions of what goods and services should be produced should represent a reasonable mix of what is needed and desired by consumers with what is required for the public good by way of regulation and infrastructure. Decisions should be made by a combination of market forces, business governance, and oversight by representative government. In other words, production should be conducted as we imagine it is done at present, though in reality neither the market, business, nor representative government can function properly and responsibly today because they are under so much pressure from a disastrously dysfunctional monetary system.
Purchasing power should be provided to all individuals whether they work or not. This is increasingly important as fewer workers are needed due to automation to produce an increasing amount of goods. There is no way to avoid dislocation of workers due to change in an advanced economy, but it is essentially that people be protected from such change even if they decide to opt out of working for a living at all. There are many productive things people can do without having to draw an income from a paying job. The money provided to people regardless of whether they work would constitute the National Dividend envisioned by a Social Credit system. One way to manage such a system would be to require everyone to work until the age of 40, when optional retirement would be offered.
The idea of one nation being the world’s policeman with military bases everywhere and a right to conquer other nations at will and take their resources must be abandoned once and for all. A system where the nations of the world are financially independent and self-sustaining as described in this report would lead to the possibility of international stability and trade among nations and regions of the world acting as equals. The history of the last century proves that the drive to war is largely fueled by the need for financial dominance as an offset to the failure to generate sufficient internal purchasing power through democratic management of credit. This syndrome would be eliminated by the monetary reforms described herein.


These are the principles—a functioning economy that combines responsible free enterprise with government regulation and infrastructure; democratic distribution of a National Dividend which supplements earned income; and an international system of economic relationships among sovereign nations acting as equals. None of these principles is currently being met, and no one in a leadership position has a plan to take us there, either now or when the crisis strikes.

The first measure in bringing about change, taking the U.S. as an example, would be for the federal government to create a Monetary Control Board as envisioned by model legislation proposed by the American Monetary Institute. This board would oversee the entire process of assuring that the money supply is sufficient to express the real credit demands of the nation in paying for the GDP. This would be followed by a combination of the following steps:
We should spend sufficient credit into existence to supply the basic operating expenses of government at all levels without recourse to either taxes or borrowing. In the past, this has been done by the colonial American legislatures, the Continental Congress at the time of the Revolutionary War, and the federal government during the Civil War. Probably two-thirds of existing federal government expenditures could be eliminated, because much of it is to compensate for a failed monetary system, including much of the military machine. Further, at least ninety percent of all taxes could be eliminated under such a program. The only taxes that would be retained would be those in the form of user fees for infrastructure operations and maintenance or those levied as a control mechanism to prevent inflation. Capital expenses for infrastructure construction at the federal, state, and local levels could be financed through a self-capitalized national infrastructure bank. Government expenditures would continue to require legislative approval under our republican form of government which would be enhanced, not threatened, by monetary reform.
The remainder of the total societal gap between production and purchasing power would be filled by a non-taxable National Dividend of two types. One would be a cash stipend paid to all citizens which would also serve the purpose of eliminating poverty by providing everyone with a basic income guarantee. The remainder of the National Dividend would consist of an overall pricing subsidy, whereby a designated proportion of all purchases, including home building expenses, would be rebated to consumers. The total National Dividend per person would probably exceed $12,000 per year under today’s economic conditions. It would be a calculated value charged against a government ledger but would be off-budget, with no need to finance it with taxation or borrowing.
A portion of the National Dividend would be made available to all citizens reaching the age of eighteen, who would receive a non-taxable lump-sum of $60,000 for higher education, trade school, or business investment.
Bank financing would be much more limited than at present. Private sector corporate investment would be funded entirely out of retained earnings and capital markets without recourse to bank lending. Bank lending for stock speculation would be abolished as would leveraged buyouts.
Bank lending would be accomplished without fractional reserve methods by requiring banks to supplement their capital and deposits with credit borrowed at very low rates from the federal government as publicly-created credit. While the banks would be allowed to add administrative costs and a reasonable business profit for lending used to finance commerce, mortgages, and small business start-up, government guarantees and subsidies should result in net interest rates to borrowers no greater than one percent.
International trade would be accommodated through a regulated system of exchange rates based on real purchasing values of respective national currencies.

RESULTS

This program would not create a Utopia or install a Big Brother to watch over us. It would not relieve mankind of the need to work, study, save, take care of our environment, make wise decisions, use opportunities intelligently, participate in representative government, care for those less fortunate, provide for our posterity, practice self-restraint, obey moral strictures, worship our creator, or love our neighbor as ourselves.


What this program would do would be to allow the nation’s monetary system to reach the same level of maturity, functionality, and access presently found, at least potentially, in the physical economy which utilizes science and technology so effectively in producing abundant goods and services.

This means that the program would free mankind from the control of the monetary elite which has unjustly usurped the fruits of the labor of everyone else. The amount of money involved in this control over time is immense. In his report on “An Emergency Program of Monetary Reform of the United States,” the author calculated that the National Dividend for 2006 should have resulted in an average stipend paid to each U.S. citizen of $12,600. For a person aged 60, this would work out to $756,000 over a lifetime in current dollars.

This figure of $756,000 represents the amount of money an individual has had to borrow from financial institutions to make up what he should have received as his share of a National Dividend if Congress had not ceded the public prerogatives of credit-creation that exist in the Constitution to private financiers. Extrapolated for the entire U.S. population, the amount of unnecessary borrowing probably has exceeded $100 trillion since World War II. We can gain confidence that this figure is in the ball-park by realizing that total societal debt in the U.S. today has been reliably estimated at over $48 trillion.

Thus it is easy to see that in time, the program of monetary reform described in this report could eliminate poverty and the main causes of war, reduce the size of government, and give individuals a chance to prosper. It would replace the current system of debt-serfdom caused by monetary strangulation at the consumer level with true economic democracy.

Economic democracy may be defined as free access to the bounty of God’s earth, according to one’s need, character, ability, and work. The purpose of this access is for individuals to have the liberty to work out responsibly their own occupation, lifestyle, identity, and destiny without these being dictated by external authorities or the threat of economic ruin. These are the freedoms that are inherent in the ideals that created America and, though compromised so much, have been America’s gift to the rest of the world.

The reader might ask why, if these reforms could so readily be made, weren’t they thought of and implemented before? The answer is that these reforms have been known and promoted by many people in the past, both known and unknown, including such leaders in America as Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Herbert Hoover, Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, and many others. But working against such enlightened leaders has been an international financier conspiracy with immense political power.

The modern era of financier control in the U.S. started with the Federal Reserve Act of 1913. But during the 1920s, the U.S. was still outstripping the rest of the world with rapid economic growth. This was due to a favorable financial position with respect to Europe after World War I, the wide availability of credit in the domestic economy, rapid industrial progress, and the predilection of American industrialists to pay their workers generous wages.

Note that President Herbert Hoover is on this list of enlightened leaders. It is not generally known that Hoover, elected in 1928, had become familiar with the Social Credit system which originated in Great Britain with Major C. H. Douglas, who published the seminal work “Economic Democracy” in 1918. Douglas, with intimate knowledge of the events of the time, later related in his book “Warning Democracy” that in order to counter Hoover’s enlightened economic ideas, the financiers decided to wreck the U.S. economy, starting with the stock market crash of 1929.

There is an official version of history, then there is the way things really happened. Thus Hoover is popularly, but mistakenly, portrayed as a failed president. But Hoover, an engineer and one of the most capable presidents in U.S. history, identified the Federal Reserve, acting on its own, as having brought on the Great Depression. He responded by creating the Reconstruction Finance Corporation to revitalize the economy with a fresh infusion of credit, but, having been blamed for the crash, was voted out of office in favor of F.D.R. in 1932.

The RFC remained and was instrumental in rebuilding the economy over the next two decades. Roosevelt himself understood that the federal government had to maintain a decisive degree of control over credit, though he was undermined by people in his own administration favorable to the financiers. So he never completed a program of real monetary reform.

During the 1930s, Douglas was forecasting another world war due to monetary causes, but he was told during his visits to the U.S. that the financiers would never allow Social Credit to be implemented. According to monetary reform folklore, the financial elite looked around for an economist to combat Douglas’s ideas and settled on John Maynard Keynes. The Keynesian system tried to deal with the monetary problem through massive government deficits, high taxes, and rapid economic growth.

This system worked through the World War II years and beyond but ran out of steam after the 1963 assassination of JFK and the loss by the U.S. of its trade advantages and fiscal solvency during and after the Vietnam War. The financiers reasserted control throughout the 1970s, leading to the devastating Federal Reserve-induced recession of 1979-83 and the deregulation of the financial industry during the Reagan years of 1981-9.

That left matters where they stand today. Since the 1980s, every U.S. economic expansion has been nothing more than a Federal Reserve-created asset inflation. The latest has been the now collapsing housing bubble, the largest bubble in history. The financiers are trying to bring about an orderly decline—the so-called “soft landing”—though at the likely cost of the wealth, health, jobs, homes, and perhaps even some of the lives of tens of millions of demoralized people.

Will we let them get away with it? Obviously, the government has bail-outs on its mind, though now, with housing gone, there may be nothing left for the financiers to inflate for the next round of chaos. Still, they are trying. Analysts are now calling attention to a new merger and acquisition bubble and a huge securities lending boom that has driven the stock market to historic levels even as consumer purchasing power in the U.S. crumbles.

If this bubbles bursts, much of the middle class wealth that remained after the 1987 stock market crash, the 2000-2002 bursting of the dot.com bubble, and the ongoing decline of the housing market will be gone for good.

Maybe the party is finally over. Maybe at the end of their 300-year reign, starting roughly with the creation of the Bank of England in 1694, the financiers have finally succeeded in doing enough damage to the world economy that the rest of us are willing to take action. Or maybe there will be a sufficient distraction by more war in the Middle East and elsewhere. Maybe peak oil or global warming will intervene with destruction on too large a scale to ignore. Or maybe we’ll just limp along into the sunset.

Only time will tell. But however the change may happen, it remains the author’s conviction that, one way or the other, a fair and intelligent monetary system will someday exist on the planet earth.

Richard C. Cook is the author of Challenger Revealed: An Insider’s Account of How the Reagan Administration Caused the Greatest Tragedy of the Space Age. A retired federal analyst, his career included stints with the U.S. Civil Service Commission, the Food and Drug Administration, the Carter White House, and NASA, followed by twenty-one years with the U.S. Treasury Department. He is now a Washington, D.C.-based writer and consultant and will be speaking at the AMI annual conference in Chicago in September 2007. His website is at www.richardccook.com.

Richard C. Cook is a frequent contributor to Global Research. Global Research Articles by Richard C. Cook