Thursday, March 6, 2008

Tim Wise on White Privilege

Tim Wise author of "White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son" speaking on white privilege June 25, 2002 at Bloedel Hall, St. Mark's Cathedral, Seattle.

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Talk by Michael C. Ruppert

Michael C. Ruppert author of "Crossing the Rubicon: The Decline of the American Empire at the End of the Age of Oil" given January 15, 2005 at Kane Hall, UW Campus Seattle.

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Mosaic News: 3/5/08 - World News from the Middle East

Mosaic News: 03/4/08 - World News from the Middle East

Ron Paul's Message to Supporters

Ron Paul's Message to Supporters -- March 6, 2008

Oil soars to record, dollar hits low after OPEC accuses U.S. of 'mismanagement'

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By William J. Kole

VIENNA, Austria 05/03/08 -- OPEC said today it will not put more oil on the global market despite record-high prices for crude, blaming the U.S. for economic "mismanagement" that it said was having a worldwide effect.

Oil soared past $104 for the first time after the OPEC announcement and the release of a government report showing a surprise drop in crude-oil stockpiles.

Light, sweet crude for April delivery jumped $5 to settle at a record $104.52 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange after earlier rising to $104.64, a new trading record. Earlier this week, oil prices broke the previous inflation-adjusted price record of $103.76, set in 1980 during the Iran hostage crisis.

The U.S. dollar sunk to record lows today, with the euro fetching $1.53 for the first time ever in Europe.

The 13-nation Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries said it would maintain current production levels because crude supplies are plentiful and demand is expected to weaken in the second quarter.

OPEC President Chakib Khelil told reporters the global market is being affected by what he called "the mismanagement of the U.S. economy," and that America's problems were a key factor in the cartel's decision to hold off on any action.

"If the prices are high, definitely they are not due to a lack of crude. They are due to what's happening in the U.S.," Khelil said. "There is sufficient supply. There's plenty of oil there."

Khelil's comments came a day after President Bush lashed out at the organization.

OPEC did pledge to maintain "constant vigilance" over the market.

Khelil said he and OPEC's secretary-general were authorized to call an extraordinary meeting or hold phone consultations "at any time, depending on the pressures on the market" — an apparent gesture to ease global economic jitters.

There had been some speculation that OPEC might actually cut production — a move that would drive prices even higher, along with profits for cartel members — but Khelil said a cut was not discussed at today's meeting. He said OPEC had no plans to meet again before its next scheduled conference in September.

Earlier in the week, price hawks Venezuela and Iran had indicated they planned to push for less production.

On Tuesday, OPEC was rebuked by Bush. "Understand the consequences of high energy prices," Bush said after meeting with King Abdullah II of Jordan in the Oval Office. "I think it's a mistake to have your biggest customers' economies slowing down as a result of higher energy prices," he added.

Khelil said crude stocks were well within their five-year average and the 13-nation group was not inclined to either boost or reduce its current output of about 32 million barrels a day. OPEC satisfies roughly 40 percent of the world's demand for crude.

OPEC said it "highlighted the economic slowdown in the U.S., which, together with the deepening credit crisis in financial markets, is increasing the downside risks for world economic growth and consequently demand for crude oil."

Analysts had not expected any significant action today.

"In truth, OPEC's decision not to pump more oil is a reflection that supply is relatively good," said Anthony Sabino, a professor of business at St. John's University in New York.

"What is driving oil prices up to the stratospheric level of over $100 per barrel is the U.S. economy, now undeniably in recession," he said. "It's not so much the price of oil is going up — it's that the value of the U.S. dollar, sad to say, is slumping."

Oil shot up a dramatic 19 percent last month as the falling dollar prompted speculators and other investors to shift cash to crude and other commodities as a hedge.

Among other reasons for the spike: tensions in the oil-rich Middle East and Turkey's incursion into northern Iraq.

Key cartel members said this week that prices in the $85 to $90 a barrel range would be optimal.

"The market listens to what they say. So when they do nothing, in the short-term there are still fears," said John Hall, of John Hall Associates in London.

OPEC, Hall said, is "very, very nervous at the moment. By helping the price to rise, they have fueled inflation and they're fueling recession."

But Stephen Schork, editor of The Schork Report, which keeps tabs on global energy markets and trends, said the cartel may not have had much choice.

"If you're OPEC, you see ample supplies and questionable demand," he said.

Schork gave OPEC credit for not pushing through a cut in output, which "would legitimize the bullish speculation we've seen since February" and risk sending oil to $120 a barrel or higher.

The 13 OPEC members are Algeria, Angola, Ecuador, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Venezuela. Iraq is the only member not subject to the cartel's output quotas.

As alliances shift, Iran wins. Again

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By Pepe Escobar

It’s no secret that a great deal of the alleged success of the George W Bush adminstration’s "surge" - or at least the way it’s being spun in the US - is related to a diminished flow of Iranian-made weapons towards militias in Iraq. The weapons anyway were being sold by Iranian and or Gulf black market dealers - and not by the central establishment in Tehran.

At the same time, the publication of the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) in the US virtually debunked the idea that Iran was conducting a secret nuclear program for military use.

These two overlapping developments have alarmed Israeli intelligence - which believes that Washington and Tehran have concluded a secret deal brokered by Saudi Arabia. That’s what’s being spun, for instance, by the Debka website - which is basically an Israeli military intelligence outlet.

The Bush administration, according to this narrative, is developing a new multi-point strategy for the Middle East (it’s useful to remember that no one even mentions Bush’s spun-to-death "democratic" Greater Middle East anymore). And Saudi Arabia is the new strategic go-between.

Via the Saudis, the Bush administration will demand no more Iranian weapons in Iraq used against the US military (as if Tehran could order black market weapons’ cartels how to conduct their business). It will demand no more Iranian weapons sent to Afghanistan (these weapons are not from Iran in the first place, but bought by the Taliban from Pakistani and Sunni Arab sources).

The Bush administration will also demand Iran to tell Hezbollah to allow the election of a new president in Lebanon; as a reward, Hezbollah will be allowed as a partner in government (a ludicrous proposition; as if Hassan Nasrallah, who has the numbers, the popular appeal and grassroots organization would be ordered to accept a Saudi-friendly and US-friendly puppet president).

Israel seems to be concerned of what it perceives as a Saudi Arabian "betrayal" - but in fact the Israeli right’s problems lie elsewhere. The NIE denied any possibility of a Bush administration push towards regime change in Iran - not to mention an Israeli attack. To compound the problem, Tehran does not even bother with United Nations Security Council sanctions anymore, even if the leadership in Tehran does not expect the US’s formidable firepower to vanish from the Persian Gulf.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry has bluntly dismissed the Security Council’s third round of sanctions against Iran as "based on political intentions and double standards" - especially because it ignored the February 22 report by International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) director general Mohammad ElBaradei, according to which the IAEA had found no diversion of Iran’s nuclear program for military use. President Mahmud Ahmadinejad called the new resolution "a new mistake". He may have a point. The IAEA itself decided not to impose sanctions on Iran.

But for the Israeli troika - Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Defense Minister Ehud Barak - that’s never enough. They want more, and tougher, sanctions. As for Iran, it has demanded that the IAEA investigate "how Israel became a nuclear superpower".

Bush’s love affair with civil war

According to a frightened Debka, Israel’s "special relationship with the United States has collapsed amid its worst foreign policy debacle in decades. The Olmert government is paying the price for the military and diplomatic mismanagement of the war against Lebanon’s Hezbollah of 2006".

This may go a long way to explain Israel’s current bombing rampage which has killed more than 100 Gaza residents, more than 50% civilians and most of these women and children. Middle East diplomats confirmed to Asia Times Online Hamas was talking to the Saudis and the Syrians about the possibility of a truce with Israel. But Israel does not want anything that would legitimize Hamas - the Israeli troika is now even floating the idea of the reoccupation of Gaza.

The Israeli right clearly knows what Asia Times Online has revealed - that Bush approved a dirty Palestinian civil war, a lethal mix of the Bay of Pigs and Iran-Contra supposedly to be implemented by the State Deptartment to overthrow Hamas shortly after Hamas won the free and fair January 2006 parliamentary election in Palestine. (See
Document details ’US’ plan to sink Hamas May 16, 2007 and No-goodniks and the Palestinian shootout January 9, 2007.)

According to this scenario, Mohammad Dahlan - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ head of the National Security Council - awash with US weapons, was anointed leader of the "revolution", to the delight of the Israeli right.

It didn’t work - of course; Hamas, as a popular resistance movement, would rather have all its supporters dead than surrender. The State Department has declined to comment, although Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has just offered a spirited defense of US aid for Fatah, playing once again the same old scratchy tune: it is imperative to counteract Iran.

Ahmadinejad, the not-accidental tourist

Israel’s concern also centers on a few key, recent developments such as Ahmadinejad’s visit to Saudi Arabia a year ago, Iran-Egypt talks in Egypt (the countries had had no formal relations since the 1979 Iranian revolution) and the invitation for Ahmadinejad to sit at a key Gulf Cooperation Council meeting - a first for an Iranian leader. This year, at an Iran-Saudi parliamentary friendship meeting in Riyadh, Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal stressed all sorts of efforts should be made to solidify Saudi-Iranian relations. And, more tellingly, both should "stand vigilantly against all conspiracies".

Abdel Monem Said, director of the al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo, has interpreted the process in terms of "Saudi Arabia did what people have been asking the US to do for so long, which is to extend a hand out to the Iranians". The detente, of course, is a work in progress, but any Saudi realist will see that it certainly does not entail the end of Iran’s nuclear program.

The Bush administration had been promoting a Turkey-Israel axis, then a Sunni Arab "axis of fear" (Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates) and then a Saudi-Israeli axis, always trying to isolate Iran. None of these concoctions seems to have worked.

Hanif Ghaffari, writing in the Farsi-language, conservative Iranian daily Resalat, has pointed out how the recent, very successful Ahmadinejad trip to Iraq had to be considered in the context of "Iran after the Iraq war" and "Iraq after occupation by America". The message could not be more graphic. When Bush went to Iraq he saw an ultra-fortified military base, and that was it. Ahmadinejad went everywhere in broad daylight, welcomed like a brother. This is how Tehran sees itself - as the ultimate victor of the US war on Iraq. And no "surge" or spin - not to mention Israeli paranoia - can or will make it go away.

Who leaked the details of a CIA-Mossad plot against Iran?

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By Yossi Melman

The Bush administration is prolonging the hunting season against journalists. The latest victim is James Risen, The New York Times reporter for national security and intelligence affairs. About three months ago, a federal grand jury issued a subpoena against him, ordering Risen to give evidence in court. A heavy blackout has been imposed on the affair, with the only hint being that it has to do with sensitive matters of "national security."

But conversations with several sources who are familiar with the affair indicate that Risen has been asked to testify as part of an investigation aimed at revealing who leaked apparently confidential information about the planning of secret Central Intelligence Agency and Mossad missions concerning Iran’s nuclear program.

Risen included this information in his book, "State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration," which was published in 2006. In the book, he discusses a number of ideas which he says were thought up jointly by CIA and Mossad operatives to sabotage Iran’s nuclear capabilities.One of these ideas was to build electromagnetic devices, smuggling them inside Iran to sabotage electricity lines leading to the country’s central nuclear sites. According to the plan, the operation was supposed to cause a series of chain reactions which would damage extremely powerful short circuits in the electrical supply that would have led to failures of the super computers of Iran’s nuclear sites.

According to the book, the Mossad planners proposed that they would be responsible for getting the electromagnetic facilities into Iran with the aid of their agents in Iran. However, a series of technical problems prevented the plan’s execution.

Another of the book’s important revelations, which made the administration’s blood boil about James Risen, appeared in a chapter describing what was known as Operation Merlin, the code name for another CIA operation supposed to penetrate the heart of Iran’s nuclear activity, collect information about it and eventually disrupt it.

Operation Merlin

The CIA counter proliferation department hired a Soviet nuclear engineer who had previously, in the 1990s, defected to the United States and revealed secrets from the Soviet Union’s nuclear program. His speciality was in the field of what is called weaponization, the final stage of assembling a nuclear bomb.

The scientist was equipped with blueprints for assembling a nuclear bomb in which, without his knowledge, false drawings and information blueprints were planted about a nuclear warhead that was supposedly manufactured in the Soviet Union. The plan’s details had been fabricated by CIA experts, and so while they appeared authentic, they had no engineering or technological value.

The intention was to fool the scientist and send him to make contact with the Iranians to whom he would offer his services and blueprints. The American plot was aimed at getting the Iranians to invest a great deal of effort in studying the plans and to attempt to assemble a faulty warhead. But when the time came, they would not have a nuclear bomb but rather a dud.

However, Operation Merlin, which was so creative and original, failed because of CIA bungled planning. The false information inserted into the blueprints were too obvious and too easily detected and the Russian engineer discovered them. As planned, he made contact with the Iranian delegation to the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna and handed over to them, also as planned, the blueprints.

But contrary to the CIA’s intention, he added a letter to the blueprints in which he pointed out the mistakes. He did not do this with ill intent or out of a desire to disrupt the operation and harm his operators. On the contrary, he did so out of a deep sense of mission and in order to satisfy his American operators. He hoped that in this way he would simply increase the Iranians’ trust in him and encourage them to make contact with him for the good, of course, of his American operators.

The result was disastrous. Not only did the CIA fail to prevent the Iranians in their efforts to enhance their nuclear program, this operation may also have made it possible for them to get their hands on a plan for assembling a nuclear warhead.

Freedom of the press

In Israel, military censorship would have prevented the publication of details such as these. But in the U.S., where the principle of freedom of the press is sacred and anchored in the constitution, there is no compulsory and binding censorship. There is, however, an expectation there that the press will show responsibility. This expectation has increased in recent years, particularly with the conservative Bush administration and in the wake of the events of September 11, 2001 and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Risen is not the first journalist to have been subpoenaed to give evidence before a grand jury and reveal his sources. According to the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, some 65 journalists have been summoned for such investigations since 2001. Some agreed, cooperated and testified. Most refused, so that they would not have to reveal their sources. In this way, they exposed themselves to being charged with contempt of court.

There were some who even preferred to be jailed so long as they were not forced to reveal their source. The best-known case was that of Judith Miller, another New York Times writer. The background to her 85-day imprisonment was her refusal to reveal who had leaked the name of Valerie Plame, a CIA agent, to the media.

"It is true that there is tension between the Bush administration and the media," says Steve Aftergood, director of the Project on Government Secrecy on behalf of the Federation of American Scientists, an independent body which aims at analyzing the activities of government with a critical eye, "but I would not go so far as to say that the administration is waging war against the media."

In Aftergood’s assessment, the danger to the freedom of the press comes rather from private citizens and organizations, those who feel themselves harmed by journalistic publications and commentators and who would therefore like to limit the press’ freedom. The most conspicuous of these is Gabriel Schoenfeld, a senior editor at Commentary, who believes that liberal newspapers like The New York Times are not sufficiently patriotic. In his articles and in testimony before a Senate committee that discussed the issue, Schoenfeld claimed that

The New York Times reporters had revealed confidential material that weakened America’s struggle against Al-Qaida. He calls for relinquishing the soft approach which he says the administration has taken against journalists in whose publications, in his opinion, America’s security is harmed.

There are many others who take the opposite approach and believe that the right of journalists to keep their sources secret should be anchored in law. Two Congressmen, the Republican Mike Pence, and Rick Boucher, a Democrat, have proposed legislation to this effect - a law for the free flow of information. The House of Representatives has already approved their proposal but the legislation is being held up in the Senate, to the displeasure of the American Civil Liberties Union.

On the face of it, this is a sensitive issue that is intended to draw the lines between the freedom of information, freedom of the media, and the public’s right to know, against the right of a democracy to defend itself against enemies that are not democratic. But James Risen has no doubt that the correct and just moral act on his part has to be to defend his sources, even if this means he will lose his freedom.

The next test case in the U.S. concerning the freedom of the press could be of even greater interest to Israel. It is connected to next month’s trial of two former senior American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) employees, Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman, who have been charged with crimes based on an old First World War anti-espionage law, which has hardly ever been put into practice since.

The indictment states that they obtained confidential information from officials at the Pentagon and transferred it, inter alia, to Israeli diplomats and journalists. A number of American journalists have already been investigated by the CIA in connection to this, and it is possible that they will be called to give evidence incriminating the two senior AIPAC officials.

Lynn Forester de Rothschild

The American entrepreneur—and friend of the Clintons and the Blairs—talks about India, telecom, Conrad Black, and her marriage to Sir Evelyn Rothschild.

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By Lloyd Grove

When 67-year-old British banking scion Sir Evelyn Rothschild first set eyes on 44-year-old Lynn Forester at the 1998 Bilderberg conference—the matchmaker was none other than Henry Kissinger—she was already a woman of major means.

A corporate lawyer and telecommunications entrepreneur, the sparkly blond ex-wife of former New York politician Andrew Stein had made more than $100 million from the sale of cleverly acquired wireless broadband licenses. She was also sexy, charming, and dazzlingly well connected. Two years later, after the smitten Sir Evelyn divorced his second wife, Victoria Schott, the mother of his three children, Forester became the third Lady Rothschild. After marrying in November 2000 at a London synagogue, they honeymooned at the White House, guests of Lynn’s good friends Bill and Hillary Clinton.

Today the New Jersey-born Lady de Rothschild—the flashiest hostess in London—is mates with Tony and Cherie Blair, among other topflight Britons. She’s also mistress of the former John Singer Sargent home in Chelsea and of Ascott House, the 3,200-acre Rothschild family estate in Buckinghamshire, and the chief executive of E.L. Rothschild, the holding company that she owns with her third husband to manage investments in the Economist and various enterprises in India. Those include FieldFresh, a startup that will grow and export Indian fruits and vegetables for markets in Europe and Asia, and a soon-to-be-announced retail venture aimed at the exploding Indian middle class.

In July, Sir Evelyn completed the sale of his stake in the centuries-old English branch of the Rothschild banking empire (for a reported $600 million)—which frees up a lot of capital for them to be major players in the Indian business world.

This week, Lady de Rothschild talked exclusively with about business, pleasure, politics, and society—especially her devotion to the idea of President Hillary. "I’m very comfortable in brand-new spaces," she says. "I’m very comfortable with a blank sheet of paper. In fact, I’ve made my money by doing what people have never done before."

Lloyd Grove: Lady de Rothschild, how are you?

Lady de Rothschild: [Laughs.] My name is Lynn Forester de Rothschild; you know that. But I’m fine, thank you.

L.G.: Where are you calling from?

L.R.: I’m back in London. Right now, I am actually at my home in Chelsea. I have a dinner tonight, so I’ve come home.

L.G.: Excellent, excellent. So let’s talk. I just saw that your husband recently sold his stake in the family banking business, and I’m just wondering, was that a tough decision for him? Were you part of that? Was it emotional? It’s kind of a big deal that something that he’s been part of for his entire life and so many generations, to just get out of it.

L.R.: Yeah . . . Evelyn had been chairman of the bank, and when he turned over the chairmanship to his French cousin David, and his own children clearly indicated they did not have an interest in working at the bank, Evelyn decided that his children could remain and wanted to remain—and will remain—as shareholders with their French cousins, and Evelyn would liquidate most of what he had over time. There are actually several transactions. The one you read about is the last transaction.

L.G.: I see, I see.

L.R.: And that was not a particularly difficult decision, because the bank has stayed within family control. To have taken any steps outside of the family would have been traumatic. But it was time for Evelyn to step down from the day-to-day of the business. And so putting some capital to work more directly through what we’re doing with E.L. Rothschild just seemed like a better, more interesting place for our money to be.

L.G.: I see.

L.R.: But it wasn’t traumatic at all.

L.G.: You mentioned E.L. Rothschild, which is the company that you run, you’re the C.E.O. of. What does it do? I know you have investments in India, which we’ll talk about, but what is the idea for the company?

L.R.: The idea for the company is to essentially be a holding company for our global interests, but largely focused on India. So the company oversees our investment in the Economist, for instance, in the U.K. Our most active activity is in India. I sold my last business in June 2000; Evelyn retired as chairman at N.M. Rothschild in 2002. In 2003, we both decided that we wanted to do another major business, and we wanted to do it together, and so we stepped back and looked at where in the world and what industry would be a growth situation. And we decided that Asia was going to be the next spurt of real growth. We were agnostic between China and India, so we spent a year going to both countries, having meetings with whoever would meet with us. I had once read that Henry Kravis when he started K.K.R., went through his father’s Rolodex and visited C.E.O.’s of Midwest companies and just said, "You know, how are things going? Would it be of any interest to you to have an outside investor, and you stay in and manage? What do you think the opportunities are?" And that was kind of what I was thinking about when we were making calls to businesspeople, bankers, journalists, think-tank people, politicians, to get a sense of what opportunities there might be.

L.G.: In both countries?

L.R.: In both countries. It started out with both countries, but within about four months, five months, we decided to limit ourselves to India. Part of that was that in 2003, $49 billion of foreign direct investment had gone into China, and $4.9 billion had gone into India. And on a macro level, if China is better, or was better, it wasn’t 10 times better. So our opportunity seemed better just financially. Also, we were more comfortable with democracy. We were more comfortable with rule of law. There’s the obvious British-Indian link culturally that was important for Evelyn and interesting for me, so we began focusing on India.

L.G.: If you’re a business, is an unwieldy, sometimes insane-seeming democracy better than an authoritarian regime?

L.R.: Well, it’s not better when you’re in the middle of it and it’s driving you crazy. It doesn’t always feel better. But you do know in your heart of hearts that when you play by the rules and you get something in place in India, it is going to stay there. So I believe in the long term — and sometimes India can feel like it’s exasperatingly long-term — it is a safer bet.

L.G.: And how did you hit upon the export of fresh fruits and vegetables? I’ve looked at your history. I don’t see any of that in your history unless you have a mean kitchen garden in the country.

L.R.: [Laughs.] Well Evelyn was the closest that we got to agriculture. He’s a gentleman farmer in England, so he was our closest link to agriculture. No, that was a very unexpected result. But in that process that I was describing to you, one of the first questions to people would be: So what is the next opportunity? B.P.O.-business processing operation-that’s already well-known. Outsourcing and technology are well-known. My area, which was technology and telecom, was already very highly capitalized even back in 2003. So what’s next? What’s next, what’s needed, and what’s big? And from different sources, consultants, businesspeople, we would be given this series of facts about the agricultural sector-that 40 percent of all produce in India goes to waste.

L.G.: Right.

L.R.: That China has 60 percent of the arable land of India, but it’s 40 percent more productive because of technology. That India is the largest producer of fruits, No. 1 in the world, No. 2 in vegetables, and has only 1 percent of the export market. So, those are all really big factors that we know how to fix. You fix them with technology on the ground, with cold storage and infrastructure on the ground. And if the retail sector isn’t ready to buy higher-quality fruit and vegetables, which I always thought they would be-but three years ago, it was less obvious than now-you could export them and be the lowest-cost exporter.

L.G.: So you can export them to parts of Asia and Europe?

L.R.: Yes, and Japan.

L.G.: I see where you have you established this agricultural research center-is that now up and running?

L.R.: Yes, yes, it’s up and running.

L.G.: With the 300 acres that you’re experimenting with, using farming techniques that work well in India, have you started to show Indian farmers the techniques?

L.R.: Yes, yes, it started and it was opened by the prime minister [Manmohan Singh]. It was last year. He showed up for the ribbon cutting, and he made an incredibly moving speech. The Indian prime minister is really, to me, one of the spectacular people of the world, and I’ve seen him speak many times, and he always reads his speech. That day, he put down his speech and he recited a poem, an English poem that he had learned as a young boy about how the land will give to the people and will change lives—a beautiful poem. And then he talked about being so poor that he couldn’t afford shoes—his parents were farmers—and how his dream for India is that 600 million people could be lifted out of poverty. And we’re talking about lifting them from 50 cents a day to $2 a day.

L.G.: Now you recently sold a good part of your stake to Del Monte Pacific, right?

L.R.: Yes. It was last Friday.

L.G.: So that freed up some more capital for you, I guess. I’m a little confused. I saw there was a $50 million investment. I don’t know if that was from E.L. Rothschild, or was that the total? You’re in business obviously with Mr. Mittal [telecommunications billionaire Sunil Bharti Mittal, head of Bharti Enterprises]. How does that all shake out?

L.R.: Well, as an investment for us, it’s an 85 percent I.R.R. [internal rate of return]. So it was a very good return on investment for us. And, as important to us, we brought in a partner who’s going to take the company to the next level, because neither Bharti nor we had the domain knowledge. We saw the opportunity, we put effort into it, but it really needs domain knowledge. So that was really why we got out. . . . And we’ve also retained 9.9 percent of the business.

L.G.: Right, right.

L.R.: So I said to Evelyn, We’re going to have to do it like Bernard Baruch and get rich by exiting too soon.

L.G.: And your actual time commitment remains the same? Or you’re off doing other things now?

L.R.: No, no, our time commitment won’t be the same.

L.G.: What else will you do with E.L. Rothschild?

L.R.: We are also looking very seriously at the retail space in India, both in terms of front-end retail as well as Indian brands that we believe have opportunities. I think that’ll be the next area where you’ll see some announcements from us.

L.G.: When? Can we make some news?

L.R.: Not by the time you go to print. [Laughs.]

L.G.: Give me a hint. I know you’re on the Estée Lauder board, and I know you’re very interested in luxury goods in India. Would it have something to do with that?

L.R.: Well, we’re looking at those. You know India has luxury in its DNA. All you’ve got to do is look at the maharajas and look at the Taj Mahal. There’s no Hermès or Louis Vuitton that’s going to tell India anything about luxury. Luxury is a very interesting, undeveloped piece of India. I don’t think it will be a big piece for a long time, because of the income level, but I think it’s interesting. We do think luxury when we think retail, but we also think more mainstream, aspirational brands and opportunities

L.G.: And the country obviously has an exploding middle class, so that could be a good market internally-or are you thinking for export as well?

L.R.: I am thinking more about the domestic markets, more about the growth of the domestic market, because 10 million people are entering the middle class every year in India. You know, there are more billionaires in India than anyplace else. Let me put it this way: Every day in India, the entire nation of Great Britain is on the train, one way or another. So the numbers are pretty colossal. Seventy million people in India can afford anything they want. It’s a small percent, but that’s a reasonable number.

L.G.: That’s a pretty healthy market.

L.R.: Two hundred fifty million are middle-class, so you might not go for the Chanel glasses, but you sure could go for an Estée Lauder lipstick or a Starbucks coffee.

L.G.: Your expertise in the retail business comes from what? Your experience as a consumer? Your experience on the board of at least one retail company that I know of?

L.R.: My interest comes from the knowledge I believe I’ve developed about what could be next in India. I would not be a buyer of Western brands for Western markets, although there are people who are doing that. I’m very comfortable in brand-new spaces. I’m very comfortable with a blank sheet of paper. In fact, I’ve made my money by doing what people have never done before. And this sector in India is not as undeveloped as the agricultural sector was—we were really on an adventure in FieldFresh. There is retail. There are big commitments to retail. But we think that we can bring Western capital, of course; we can bring Western know-how; we can bring Western distribution; we can bring Western good-governance practices, which will make it easier for Western brands to associate with us. And I think we’re establishing ourselves in India enough that the Indian companies are comfortable with us. I didn’t go into retail or into brands or into luxury because I feel I necessarily have more knowledge of those things. I am looking at them as businesses, as opportunities, and the first thing that we will be doing is hiring really competent people who want to latch on to our vision.

L.G.: Well don’t hire me then.

L.R.: Can I hire you?

L.G.: No, you can’t, because I know nothing about that. I’m the worst consumer possible.

L.R.: Why do you say that?

L.G.: Well, we’ll take this up when you do the interview with me. In any event, is E.L. Rothschild just a vehicle with which you and Evelyn figure out where to invest your resources, or you are raising money from other investors? Can people invest in your company or not? How does that work?

L.R.: The third business that we are considering is virtually a fund where we would bring people in and invest alongside them, but we would be the owner and operator of those businesses.

L.G.: So they would be putting their faith in your expertise and knowledge and gut and whatever.

L.R.: Yes.

L.G.: Okay, now you and Evelyn are also, as I understand it, the biggest investors in the Economist.

L.R.: Well the F.T. [Financial Times] would be very upset if you wrote that. [Laughs.] We’re the biggest family investors.

L.G.: Is there a possibility of I.P.O. there?

L.R.: Oh my God! [Laughs.] Um, I could never talk about that. But I wouldn’t hold my breath. It’s a very good company, we’re very proud to be associated with it, and it’ll continue to have lots of options and lots of growth opportunities.

L.G.: Now, you’re on the Lauder board. Do you expect that the current management—i.e., C.E.O. William Lauder —will stay in for quite a while yet?

L.R.: It’s a great company, and the Lauder family is essential to the success of that company. William is a young, very, very talented man, just like his father is very talented, his cousins are very talented. They’re in the business. You know, the business is better off for having them there. I think he’s done an excellent job. I don’t think there are many people in that high-end-cosmetic world who know more than William, or have his degree of integrity and absolute dedication to the success of the company, so we’re very happy.

L.G.: Let me ask you, when your fellow capitalists come to you and express worries and fears about what Hillary Clinton will do in terms of raising taxes on capital gains and hedge fund operators, and income taxes, what do you tell them to reassure them that Hillary will be good for business?

L.R.: First of all, Hillary will be good for America. And so if we care about our country —which all of my fellow capitalists do —we’ll be very pleased that she’s president. And second of all, if we look at what is best for the economy, remember, she is a Clinton, and our economy under Clinton was strong, dynamic, productive, exciting. And the same kinds of people who advised Bill Clinton will be around Hillary Clinton. And she understands the importance of the business community, and it’s not going to be about raising taxes or doing any one specific thing. It’s going to be, What is in the best interest of all Americans? And I think if history is our guide, we’ve had stronger economies, more wealth creation, under Democratic presidents than we have under Republican presidents. So I don’t understand why all my capitalist friends aren’t Democrats.

L.G.: Really? Are they buying this argument, Lynn?

L.R.: Well, you know, it’s funny. As people are getting a better and better look at Hillary, they’re understanding that Hillary is talking in a way that is so positive for America. We can think we live in elite circles, but we don’t. I mean, America is about Main Street, and Main Street is coming around to Hillary. And Wall Street and the C.E.O.’s can’t buck that tide, and if they think they have some vested interest in their tax rate, those are a very limited number of people who think only about that.

L.G.: By the way, you may also have seen that Hillary reported an eye-popping $27 million raised in the third quarter, which was beyond expectations and far and away the most of anybody. How much of that can we credit you with?

L.R.: [Laughs.] I am—full disclosure—I’m always doing everything I possibly can for Hillary Clinton.

L.G.: Have you made a dollar commitment to the campaign? Have you said, "I’ll raise a million bucks" or something like that?

L.R.: I don’t really do that. I do everything that I can, and I have been waiting for this since Bill Clinton left office, frankly.

L.G.: It’ll be nice to come to Washington and save on hotel expenses again, won’t it?

L.R.: Well, I don’t know if that’ll be the case. I assume I’ll still be at the Four Seasons. It’ll be nice to know America is in the hands of someone with her character and her experience and her vision for where we’re going to take the country. It’s going to be a very exciting time. Even Europeans are excited.

L.G.: There’s a big fundraiser on October 17 in Washington, and you’re listed as one of the hosts-the National Women’s Finance Summit. Will you be there for that?

L.R.: Yes, yes, I will definitely be there for that.

L.G.: And I noticed that all the thousand-dollar seats are sold, but you can still get some $2,300 V.I.P. seats. Do you want to try to sell any to our readers now?

L.R.: [Laughs.] I would strongly advise your readers to snatch up whatever is there. It’s going to be a spectacular day. That event is quintessentially Hillary Clinton. Look at what she’s doing. She is, first of all, empowering women in a way that we could have only dreamed about when we graduated from college. But that’s secondary to bringing her foreign-policy team, her economics team, her political team, herself to educate everyone about what she believes. They’re all going to take whatever questions we have. She’s going to listen; they’re going to listen. She can’t be there the whole day, but it’s so quintessentially Hillary. Politics is so boring, where they ask for your money, you get a glass of cheap wine and a biscuit, and then when you say, "You know, I have an idea about health care or I have an idea about inheritance tax," nobody wants to listen to you, because what they really want is your money. Hillary is the opposite. Obviously there aren’t enough hours in the day to listen to every idea, but she is listening, and she is responding.

L.G.: Well you also, for $2,300, get V.I.P. seating and a grip-and-grin photo with Hillary.

L.R.: Doesn’t she have a beautiful smile?

L.G.: Absolutely. So let me just ask you about [television and wireless mogul] John Kluge, who was a big influence on your early business life, when you’d been practicing as a lawyer. How did you meet him, what was his influence on you, and what did you learn from him?

L.R.: I was a lawyer at Simpson Thacher when John Kluge was the first in the world to figure out that cellular telephones were going to change the world. And he was hiring in that area. Most people, including me, had no idea what cellular was—it sounded like a biotech idea. But he asked me to come in as executive vice president for development.

L.G.: And how did you meet him?

L.R.: He was a client, and also around New York, you know. I’ve always been very blessed with, I don’t know, meeting a lot of people.

L.G.: I heard that!

L.R.: [Laughs.] I don’t know why! So he talked to me about it, and he gave me this job. I was all of, I don’t know, 28 or 29, I was pretty young, and then John created this amazing footprint in America. And people forget that he was the richest man in America before people heard of Bill Gates.

L.G.: This was before the internet, before people had heard of the internet too.

L.R.: Exactly, and so when John sold to Southwest Bell —he had already sold his television business to Rupert Murdoch to create Fox —I was not going to work for Southwest Bell. So I said to John, "I really don’t know if I can do it, but I want to be an entrepreneur. I want my own show." And he said, "I know you can do it, and I know you’ll be very good at it." I said, "Boy, you know, I want a net worth of $40 million."

L.G.: How did you hit on that figure? Why $40 million?

L.R.: Because I just thought that was more money than I could ever imagine. I thought I would die and go to heaven if I ever had $40 million. And John gave me the best advice I’ve ever gotten in one sentence. He said, "Stop. Don’t think at all about the net worth you’re creating. Think about your vision for what you’re creating, and that you wake up every day and you love it. The money will follow." And it was sort of so profound, and this rush came over me of "Oh my God, of course," and then I just went on from there. And that made a huge difference to me.

L.G.: I see, and how did you make your first hundred million? You were involved in a cell-phone company in Puerto Rico, and then you had the foresight to buy up frequencies in major cities, which you later were able to sell for a premium. Is that basically it? How did you have the insight to do all that?

L.R.: Well, uh, the Latin American company located in Puerto Rico was just an obvious buy at the time; it was such a good deal. The licenses, I was actually granted the licenses, and I got them for free.

L.G.: You got them for free? All the better.

L.R.: Yeah, exactly. I realized that frequencies were a limited resource and that there would be a big business at some time around that, and so I was the first person to apply in the United States for wireless-broadband licenses. And yeah, I sold them for a lot of money.

L.G.: How much pure luck was involved? Or did you have a special insight? Obviously you thought it was obvious, but other people obviously didn’t; otherwise they would’ve done it. To what do you attribute that?

L.R.: I think a lot of it was that I was lucky. I think I do understand where value might be when people are overlooking it. I never had the money to buy what was popular. I’ve always had to start from, you know, lack of capital. So I needed to have better ideas, and I’ve been really lucky in focusing on overlooked areas.

L.G.: Let me ask something else. Nietzsche said, "That which does not kill us makes us stronger." Now you assembled this A-list board of people —you know, Nathan Myhrvold, Henry Kissinger, Vernon Jordan — raised a billion dollars to start this broadband company in Europe [FirstMark Communications Europe]. Everybody thought it was almost a sure thing; you had a great track record; there was a lot of expertise there. You hired the best people you could; you dealt with the governments that had authority over aspects of the business and got very advantageous deals from them. And it didn’t go very well. What happened there, and what did you learn from it?

L.R.: Well, most of all I learned that it’s better to be lucky than to be smart. I say that because I sold that company in June 2000. That was when the billion dollars came in, and the market fell apart in October 2000. So that company rode a frenzy, which I actually, at the time, wasn’t comfortable with. But it’s pretty hard to turn down that kind of money when it’s rushing in at you. I was really lucky to get out of it with that billion-dollar financing. I certainly didn’t think it was going to crash in the next three months. You know, bubbles are very dangerous things, and I was fortunate enough to get off before the bubble burst. But the investors in that company believed they would buy for a billion and, within six months, sell it for a billion and a half. I knew, and actually they were told —they just had to look at our business plan —that the business needed $5 billion. So when the new investors panicked and didn’t put in the 5 billion-and I don’t blame them for not doing it; it wasn’t my call and it wasn’t my money-there was no way that company could go on. If people still had those licenses that we sold them, they would have made a lot of money because we had 15 countries with 100 megahertz of bandwidth in each of those countries, and we had 15,000 kilometers of fiber that all went to waste. But if anyone had held on, it would’ve been a great investment. But for me, it turned out to be okay, because I was lucky.

L.G.: When you run into people who committed their companies’ money to the enterprise and didn’t do so well, is it awkward? Or do they just understand it’s business and, you know, you win some, you lose some, and it’s all okay?

L.R.: Well, they were all big boys. They can’t, you know, blame me for their investment decisions. I sold, and I left immediately, so I don’t know. Some of them remain friends; some of them I don’t see. You know, I want everybody to make money.

L.G.: You’re a media owner. How do you think Rupert Murdoch is going to do with the Wall Street Journal?

L.R.: I think Rupert made a brilliant acquisition. I have so much respect for Rupert Murdoch, I cannot even tell you. I don’t, of course, agree with his politics all the time, but I think that he is a visionary. I think he is gutsy. Everyone I’ve ever known who’s done a deal with Rupert cannot say a bad word about him. He’s honorable, and I think it’s an obvious thing for him to do, and I think it was brilliant.

L.G.: The British social establishment is famously stiff, and you have created quite a stir there in London. I saw an article in the Evening Standard by a fellow named Robert Mendick who pointed out that some have nicknamed you Lady Lynn de Pushy. The cocktail party that you arranged last year at 10 Downing Street [where Prime Minister Tony Blair hosted seven billionaires and other rich folks] to raise money for the Tate, which I know is a big cause of yours, got so much crazy publicity over there. Jasper Gerard in the Sunday Times wrote this line that kind of amused me: "Only an outsider would dare go head-to-head with Lady Frost’s summer party and leave Frosty with the dull old things who play celebrity golf on cable." What’s that all about, Lynn? What’s going on here? Are you causing trouble over there?

L.R.: Not at all. I am not social at all over here, and one thing you learn in Britain is you don’t read the press—you get on with your life. So I have a wonderful life in Britain, mainly because I have a wonderful marriage in Britain, so this is a great country. I have a very good time. I have very good friends, and it’s a great base for my business.

L.G.: How does that work? How did you and Evelyn sort of divvy up the business? You’re the C.E.O., but is he like the queen of England? Does he propose and you dispose?

L.R.: Evelyn is very comfortable in the chairman role, and I am a very hard worker. I am a 10-to-12-hour-a-day girl, because in my family, the world is divided into show horses, racehorses, and horse’s asses. I was told, you know, I’m a racehorse, and I better be practicing if I’m going to be racing. So you know, I work, and Evelyn has one of the most amazing senses of strategy, of integrity, of opportunity, of decency, you know, that can be imagined. And if he weren’t in this business with me, I wouldn’t be doing it.

L.G.: Is this the first time you’ve been in business with your spouse?

L.R.: Oh yeah, absolutely.

L.G.: Did you have some trepidation over that on how that would work? Mixing business and love?

L.R.: No, I had more trepidation that I was going to go off and do what I’ve done many times. I know how hard I work, and I wasn’t going to spend all those hours and all that time away from Evelyn and ruin my life.

L.G.: So one of the things you’ve learned is it’s important also to have a life.

L.R.: It is really important to have a life, and I’m very blessed with a positive attitude toward life. I mean I wake up happy, and I’m not going to compromise that for anything. And both Evelyn and I are happiest when we’re working. Social things and all of that do not mean anything. Most of the time, we’re either working or involved in something that we think is good. And that’s why it’s, yes, I’m involved with the Tate; yes, I’m involved with Hillary; and all that, because I think that with all the blessings I have, I can try to do something good.

L.G.: By the way, I noticed that it understandably got under your skin—I think it was the Wall Street Journal that referred to you in a profile piece as a "socialite." And you wrote a letter, saying, "I’m no more a socialite than I am a dressmaker or a brain surgeon."

L.R.: That’s true. You know what’s cute about that story? The writer told me that when his wife saw that he used that word, she got so angry at him. [Laughs].

L.G.: So what is this? Are we past that now where women in business don’t have to deal with those sorts of trivializing labels, or are we still in that era?

L.R.: Look, I think women are going to get so many labels. I think we just ride through it and go on with our lives.

L.G.: And I guess one label might be Madam President at some point.

L.R.: [Laughs] Exactly, exactly—that might help. But I’m sure that women will continue to get the sly comments and all of that. That’s okay. The point is to, you know, do good, have a good life, and carry on. You always know who your friends are, you know?

L.G.: Speaking of knowing who your friends are, how are Lord and Lady Black [former newspaper baron Conrad Black and his wife, Barbara Amiel] doing? I mean, he’s facing some serious prison time. I know he’s appealing it. I know you’re friendly with Barbara-what can you tell me about how you try and support them through all this?

L.R.: Well, there’s not much support that I can give. I send emails. Last time we saw them in London was before all of this. It must be a terrible thing to go through. You know, he’s got to deal with his own reality, and so does she. The courts have decided now. It was one thing before the courts decided. You know, you could hold out hope that maybe it wasn’t true.

L.G.: Yeah, he’ll be sentenced in November. He could get up to 35 years on the four counts he was convicted on, but obviously he’s waging an appeal, so, you know, the legal system grinds on. But it must be very painful and wearing for him and his wife at this point.

L.R.: It must be awful. It must be awful. But we do live in a world of consequences, and you do not do things where jail could be an option. It’s pretty obvious. And you know I feel badly for them.

“Advancing the Cause of Peace”

Go to Original
By Felicity Arbuthnot

“We have an appointment with death We have become familiar with our shores of despair ...” Ali Ahmad Said: “Victims of a Map”, Saqi Books

The world community is encouraged to celebrate and commemorate two occasions this year:
Israel's theft of Palestine and the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights.

As the British government announces that the educational curriculum is to now include school children visiting Auschwitz “lest we forget” the horrors of the Holocaust and to learn that such inhumanity must never be repeated, the Vice Israeli Minister for Collective Punishment and Serial Killing (sorry, “Defence”) Matan Viilnai, threatened a new “Holocaust” in the Gaza Strip.
Surely, a far better education for the young would be to stay with their counterparts in Gaza and experience the real thing. Rows of children’s shoes and silent gas chambers are terrifyingly thought provoking, but pretty yesterday, when it can actually be lived: real human remains, real blood and even those reduced to real ashes - the real thing, in real time, at a Mediterranean venue near you. A learning experience never to be forgotten.

The 1.5 million souls to whom Gaza is home are entrapped, with no place to hide, pounded from ground and air, by tanks, F-16's and Apache attack helicopters (courtesy of the “land of the free”) in a reign of terror unleashed by “the only democracy in the Middle East”. As little Gaza is set to become the next Sabra and Shatila massacre (with the advanced warning ringing round the globe) the world's governments deafen with their shameful, craven silence. War criminal turned Middle East “peace envoy” in our Kafkaesque world, Anthony Charles Lynton Blair Q.C., was unconcerned, taking a break from his stressful life counting his piles of ill gotten gains, holidaying at an African game park owned by Virgin Airways founder, Richard Branson.
America's shoe in, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, has seemingly borrowed his predecessor Kofi Annan's two word lexicon (“concern” and “regret”) and announced his “concern” at the situation. That, only after he had spoken of Israel's threat from home made rockets, fired by the resistance, before verbally tiptoeing round Gaza's threat from weapons of mass destruction fired by the land baggers.

Jordan's King Addullah did better, citing Israel's “state terrorism, in violation of all international covenants”, with his acting Foreign Minister, Nasser Judah, demanding a halt to the carnage and slamming Israel's violation of “international law”. Rogue states, as Israel, America and Britain, however, care naught for international law, the former two countries stolen and settled on the blood and beloved land of others and Britain, over centuries having plundered and culled across a swathe of the entire globe with impunity.

As the bodies, and the pathetic remains of humanity, a foot, a leg, a head, a hand, a torso and the injured mount, Israel's Prime Minister Olmert stated that Israel was: “... taking an elementary step in self defence”. One of his Ministers told the BBC that the killing and the destruction of infrastructure would continue. Whilst citizens can land in a Court of Law for running a red light, leaders (even in a country which has announced an intended Holocaust) ignore international laws enshrined in the Geneva, Hague and Nuremberg rulings with impunity.

Olmert and his shameful excuse for governmental law makers, of course, are not ending the fragile lives of human beings. They are targetting “terrorists” and “Hamas”.

Should not those suspected of crime be brought before the law rather than summarily executed ? Israel's actions in Gaza are indeed “state terrorism”.

Hamas, of course is a democratically elected government, fully entitled to its followers. Under the new world disorder, sovereignty of elected government also means nothing, to which Saddam Hussein and his colleagues graves are testimony. Not for nothing did Neil Mackay call his towering book embracing the pack of lies fed the populous on the Middle East in recent history : “A War on Truth” (Sunday Herald Books 2006.)

And in the new world language, the untried executed are declared “insurgents”, “Taleban”, “terrorists”, statements near never questioned. There are no mothers, fathers, uncles, aunts, no toddlers, teenagers, children, infants. The names and ages of countless dead are the silent scream which addresses this monumental, murderous lie. A family breakfast as the sun's rays spread, dispersing the night's cool, turns to carnage. Kids playing football become seared flesh against the dusty pitch, shouts and laughter forever silenced, in an instant.

A source with considerable expertise also believes that: “The devilish weapons (in Israel's) most extensive armoury (include those) I think designed to disfigure and amputate, so that the loved ones are terrorised.”

A third of the victims of this declared Holocaust are children. There is no kinder transport, no child evacuees sent to safety for the duration. Babies are being buried. Normal people nurture the young. They wake numerous times in the night, for years, to creep and check that the sleeping miracle they have created is still safe, warm. Their heart swells at the waking smile. They wash, cream, dress this new being in special clothes, dream up treats, carry him or her, hugged close, breathing in the special scent of hair and skin. They clutch a small hand in a fledgling walk and speed up to catch them when they run, should they be in danger of tripping, falling. Normal people do not kill kids.

"Uncle, I do not want to die; I want my dad", a toddler screamed as doctors tried to treat burn wounds across her body in Gaza’s main Shifa Hospital. The girl was injured in a house which the Israeli army said was used to store and make weapons, reported the Jordan Times (2nd March.) Israel's “democracy” spreads abnormality at every level. For most benefitting from democracy, few toddlers would even know what dying was.

One image speaks for all the child victims and those left behind, as a result of Israel's criminal actions. It is a father, bent low, laying a small, wrapped child, in a grave, hewn in hardened earth of burned ochre, the sides tooled with care. The little figure looks utterly lost, unbearably vulnerable, searingly alone, the grave seemingly so large. The father, the family will have watched as it was covered and filled in, leaving that mite for ever alone, in rain, shine, cold, heat, unable to ever again wake in the night to stroke the hair, comfort a fear. No faith could ever ease such pain, replicated again and again by America's client state.

"Shame on the Arabs, shame on the Muslims, shame on humanity...” said Tawfek Shaban, a forty four year old school teacher, of Israel's actions.

Shame on humanity indeed. A friend, currently in Palestine, compares the world's shocking indifference to the remarkable Amira Hass's allusion “to what her mother, Hanna saw when women were being taken to the death camps as German women looked on in silence.” Hass wrote: “The vortex is sucking louder and the world looks on from the side.”

My friend concluded: “Palestine is the hinge of humanity. If the world's people turn away, look from the side, the vortex will become a typhoon.”

Prime Minister Olmert sees it differently. Striking at “Hamas”, he said, only advanced the cause of peace. has established a virtual Gaza Holocaust Museum.

Felicity Arbuthnot is a journalist and activist who has visited the Arab and Muslim world on numerous occasions. She has written and broadcast on Iraq, her coverage of which was nominated for several awards. She was also senior researcher for John Pilger's award-winning documentary,

"Paying the Price: Killing the Children of Iraq". and author, with Nikki van der Gaag, of “Baghdad” in the “Great Cities” series, for World Almanac Books (2006.)

Victims of a Map: A Bilingual Anthology of Arabic Poetry (Paperback)


Go to Original
By Devvy Kidd

Tuesday's second "Super Tuesday" was another display of putrid politics. Allegedly Marxist Hillary Clinton took Texas. Why wouldn't she? We all recall her famous words a few months ago, "No woman is an illegal." Texas is infested with illegal aliens and we know they're voting. A few days before this horse and pony show, Obama and Clinton exchanged spit over NAFTA. Both of them tried to out do each other for the sake of big labor in Ohio, a job devastated state. Neither one of them pointed out this treaty is unconstitutional and why. As the Ohio primary loomed with oodles of delegates, Obama (Elmer Gantry clone), and Clinton (Top Ten Most Corrupt Politician), suddenly decided it was time to do something about NAFTA.

NAFTA was signed into law on December 8, 1993, by Bill Clinton, husband of Hillary. While NAFTA ravaged our industrial, agriculture and manufacturing jobs like another hurricane Katrina, Bill and Hill did nothing. As a result of a corrupt Congress getting NAFTA to Bill's desk, next came the Mexican Peso bail out and it WAS tied directly to NAFTA. The U.S. Constitution does NOT authorize Congress to bail out any foreign government; an impotent and corrupt Congress did nothing.

Hillary was unlawfully elected to the U.S. Senate in November, 2000. Obama was unlawfully elected to the U.S. Senate in 2004. Where has Clinton's concern for America's workers been for the eight years she's served unlawfully in the U.S. Senate? Where has Obama's concern for American workers been for the past four years while he's unlawfully served in the U.S. Senate? Why didn't this duo immediately support Rep. Virgil Goode's bill and sponsor one in the senate to get U.S. out of NAFTA? The why is simple: like all professional politicians, they will say anything to get votes. Both of them are preying on the desperate.

Americans are beginning to realize what countless economists and columnists have been warning about for years: financial devastation for millions is rolling across this country with the worst yet to come:

New recession worry: Bank failures - March 3, 2008 "Construction loan problems threaten spike in smaller bank failures and add to worry over credit crunch. As if the economy wasn't already fighting enough strong headwinds, the risk of capital shortfalls and outright failure of the nation's banks is rising."

February 22, 2008: Bank of America circulating confidential proposal to Congress seeking $739 billion bailout.

February 21, 2008: Wall Street Bank Run

February 29, 2008. Risks seen for growing Fannie, Freddie. "Loosening the regulatory reins around Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac gives them the freedom to play a bigger role in trying to stabilize a worsening housing market. The danger, some analysts say, is that the government-sponsored mortgage titans will become saddled with too much financial risk. Fannie and Freddie this week reported fourth-quarter losses totaling $6.1 billion and predicted multibillion-dollar losses throughout 2008"

February 26, 2008: Housing Drop Crumbles Home Depot

February 18, 2008. US banks borrow $50bn via new Fed facility. Rescue the banks first.
Americans are hurting from the sub prime meltdown and they want Congress to stop the hemorrhaging. However, this is not the job of Congress. Private citizens make a contract with a bank to purchase a home and they are bound by that contract to make the payments or lose the property. Collusion and fraud between banks and appraisers is being investigated and it should be done vigorously. However, it is outside constitutional restraints for Congress to bail out the home owner by forcing banks to put a freeze on their loans. The banks are in even more trouble of their own making:

February 22, 2008. Banks Lose to Deadbeat Homeowners as Loans Sold in Bonds Vanish. "Judges in at least five states have stopped foreclosure proceedings because the banks that pool mortgages into securities and the companies that collect monthly payments haven't been able to prove they own the mortgages."

February 8, 2008. The Bush Financial Bust of 2008: “It's All Downhill From Here, Folks” On January 14, 2008 the FDIC web site began posting the rules for reimbursing depositors in the event of a bank failure. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) is required to “determine the total insured amount for each of the day of the failure” and return their money as quickly as possible."

March 3, 2008. Is Your Gift Card Suddenly Worthless? "As more retailers file for bankruptcy or go out of business, more than $75 million in gift cards are at risk of becoming worthless pieces of plastic this year."

March 4, 2008; short video. CNN Warns Americans: A New Great Depression Is Coming. Nine MILLION homes "under water." Foreclosures and estimates are that it could reach as high as 15 MILLION homes.

March 4, 2008. Gulf investors may not save CITIGROUP, Dubai executive says. "DUBAI (Zawya Dow Jones)--Mideast sovereign wealth funds may fail to save troubled U.S. banking giant Citigroup Inc,, unless more cash is pumped into the lender, the head of a $13 billion Dubai-owned investment firm said Tuesday." The selling out of America to foreign countries.
March 5, 2008. "Every day now, thousands of people all over the U.S. and Great Britain are walking away from their homes - simply mailing their house keys to the banks - as housing bailout plans fail....The end of the third quarter of 2008 (thus late September, a mere seven months from now) will be marked by a new tipping point in the unfolding of the global systemic crisis."

I could list another 100 links with the same message: despite the meaningless bluster coming out of the mouths of Obama, Clinton and McCain, we are looking at financial devastation on the same scale as the 'Great Depression. This is not hyperbole, it is reality coming home to roost. There are projections crude oil is heading for $120/ barrel. That should finish off our desperate independent trucking families. These are our fellow Americans, not just statistics:

March 1, 2008. Independent truckers see end of the road. -- "Trucker Robert Griffith is on the road three weeks out of four, pulling oversize loads like crane booms, railroad ties and air conditioning ducts...As the cost of diesel doubled over the last four years, his take-home pay has plummeted, from $50,000 to $11,000 last year. He's literally burning money; he spent $64,000 on diesel in the last eight months. Since he canceled his satellite radio, he's on citizens band radio constantly talking about what needs to change so truckers like him can survive.....No more health insurance for him and his family."

How many times I've written that when the economy goes, so does "fun times" spending and that includes dinner out 2-3 nights a week. No more $100 basketball game tickets or vacations in Hawaii. Worthwhile charities will suffer worse than they are now. As our economy has sifted to service based instead of self-sustaining (manufacturing and growing what we need to survive), these lower paying jobs now dominate, but they are all going to take it in the shorts. Do you see people paying for a burger and fries with their credit card? You'll see more of it, mark my words. It won't last. Credit card defaults are already through the roof. April 15th is a little over a month away; time for the IRS to steal more fruits of your labor.

But, wait! There's more: The White House wants a $1.4 billion stimulus/national security package…for Mexico. MORE HOT CHECKS.

The hoax called an economic stimulus package will fizzle faster than a dud firecracker. That $150 BILLION dollars worth of hot checks will have to be borrowed from the privately owned FED with the never ending interest slapped on the backs of our children and grand children. How much is going into your savings account each month? What about when you retire? Beggar in rags? Mega-millionaires like Pelosi, Bush, McCain, Feinstein, the Clintons and others like them will not feel your pain.

Americans aren't just gasping at the pump (Gas Price Blowout: $5.39 a gallon spotted in CA.). As diesel continues to rise, so does the cost of food and everything else shipped by our road warriors. Go to the grocery store and see the inflation for yourself; it's on the move. As disposable income dries up, parents will feed their children less nutritional food because it's cheaper to feed them off the Burger King buck menu than healthy food. Yes, the enviornmental wackos are partly to blame with their demands of no new refineries and no oil drilling where we know there are tons of it domestically, but in the end, it's the U.S. Congress who are directly responsible for cowering like the dogs they are and allowing this situation to escale to this point.
This is why gold is in such high demand. Americans who follow the market and understand what's happening are buying gold in record amounts. Yes, they are. People are worried sick about their 401(k)s. I highly recommend you look into buying gold now. Worthless fiat currency is just that: worthless. I'm not a gold dealer, but if you're considering protecting what you have left, I always recommend El Dorado Gold. Professional like Harvey (Phoenix) 602.228.8203 and Eric (Florida) 623.643.8786, are highly knowledgeable and can get you on the right path to financial security.

What else can we do? Americans MUST stop buying foreign products - especially from our mortal enemy, the Communist Chinese. A brutal dictatorship that uses slave labor, murders their own people at will while shipping us tainted products (toys, prescription medicines, and lead poisoning in tainted dental products ). They spy on us constantly, force full term abortions, steal our technology and are building a military that is a direct threat to this republic. Not to mention their barbaric practices of skinning dogs and cats alive for the fur in your sweater or parka.

Americans MUST go back to buying products made here in our country. I recently purchased a back up cofffee maker. Unfortunately, KRUPS has gone communist (Made in China), so I purchased a BUNN; their coffee makers are made here by American workers. Need tee shirts for the good weather coming? I bought a dozen last year from Athletic Appeal. They're the most beautiful doggie tees. The highest quality and despite many washings, the colors are still vibrant. Two weeks ago, I purchased a dozen pair of ladies white crew socks. I couldn't find any Made In USA at my local stores, so I took all of five minutes to order from Made In USA Forever. Guess what? They arrived in a few days. They fit perfect and are of the highest quality. Is five minutes too much to put America first, along with saving gas? I know this hurts local retailers, but they must understand that millions of us will not contribute to the death of our country and we will go out of our way to buy Made in America products.

The more we the people buy Made in America, those companies will expand and they will hire for good paying wages. The more Made in USA products we buy, the less expensive they will become because of healthy competition in a free market. The more Made in America products we buy, the more money we put back into OUR economy and it stays here - not shipped to foreign governments. Retailers will get the message - especially if you tell them after they inquire, "Did you find what you were looking for"? When you say no and why, it will get back to management level. American companies want your business. Please join with me in putting Americans back to work because this will help, although with Congress continuing to write hot checks, the worst is yet to come. Please see the Made in USA section on my web site which represents more than 20,000 products proudly made by Americans on U.S. soil. Stop buying foreign fruits and veggies. Seek out farmer's markets or go without. Local farmers desperately need your business.

April 15, 2008: The Great American Strike. To participate, click here for details.
Major protest against the NAU - be there if you can. April 21-22, 2008. Click here for details.
The ethically bankrupt media is lying to the American people. John McCain has NOT won the GOP nomination. The convention is in September and that's when the delegates vote. Huckabee has conceded and "committed" himself to McCain, but let me tell you: things will happen between now and September. For one thing, Flip Romney has not dropped out of the race and this is important. When was the last time you remember a presidential candidate 'suspending' his campaign (2.6.08), but holds his delegates and will attend the convention in September? As one Ron Paul delegate told me on the phone yesterday, the treasonous CFR (Council on Foreign Relations) is running the show and that's a fact.

When Romney suspended his campaign, I knew something was going on behind the scenes. McCain is very vulnerable and the power brokers behind the scenes know it. We must do everything in our power to see that '100-year war' McCain is driven out of this race before September. McCain, Obama and Clinton are dangerous to this country because they stand for more of the same and worse. McCain's betrayal of our POW/MIAs cannot be disputed and this man must not get the GOP nomination.

I have put together a flyer which I intend to distribute to our local VFW halls, gun shows and to as many individuals as I can. I'm also going to fax it to all the major news networks and the more they get, the better. Send one to your local newspaper. We must reach as many of the 22+ million veterans and active duty military personnel as possible. I urge you to make copies of this flyer and distribute them far and wide. The convention in September IS the battleground and for those of us who want Ron Paul to become our next president, we cannot just roll over; see links below. As I said, Romney only suspended his campaign. I believe there's more evil afoot. Saturate America with this flyer.

Important Information:

1 - Why I Don't Support The Ron Paul Freedom March 2 - Follow up: Stay focused on the GOP Convention 3 - Pro-illegals Hillary, McCain and Obama support this- short video that will break your heart 4 - Must watch video: Paul's Brilliant Opening Statement To Bernanke 5 - Continuation video - above 6 - “Monetary Policy and the State of the Economy” 7 - Change not possible with the same players 8 - Bordering on inanity


Go to Original
By Jon Christian Ryter

When he made his mid-morning TV address on Thursday, Feb. 27, President George W. Bush spoke briefly on the economy, sounding more like a wishful Herbert Hoover trying to conjole the economy out of the doldrums than a student of backyard capitalism assuring his neighbors that the economy of the United States is still healthy even though the nation continues to hemorrhage jobs—and money as our trade deficit grows and the United States assumes the undisputed title as the world's largest debtor nation. Bush noted that he didn't think we were headed into a recession although he admitted the economy was slowing down. Under the rules of backyard capitalism, if you still have your job as money tightens and jobs get scarce, the economy is slowing down. If you lost your job, its a recession. If everyone in the neighborhood looses theirs, it a depression.

All political rhetoric aside, here's the simple truth. When the working class has to use plastic as a lifeline to splice the first of the month with the end of the month because they lack sufficient monetary liquidity to pay their bills, the economy is in real trouble. The folks at the top of the pyramid who have been playing the money shell game with the economy since 1993 succeeded in fabricating the illusion that a very anemic economy was healthy based not on consumer capital liquidity but the inflated value of the stock market. Liquidity was artificially stimulated by providing the working class with toxic mortgages that were nothing less than financial time bombs, and with lines of credit they couldn't afford—but were needed by the societal planners to jumpstart the economy and make it appear that the jobs being exported to Mexico, China and the third world were not impacting our economy, and that the plans of the globalists to create an American Union by stimulating the free enterprise system in the western hemisphere were economically solid.

However, the consumers who participated in the globalists' grand scheme are proof-positive that the utopian dream of universal prosperity is just so much puppy poop. The victims of the subprime home mortgage debacle were also the first victims of the subprime credit card debacle. However, before the banks and credit card companies started the plastic tsunami they successfully lobbied Congress to change the bankruptcy laws to make sure those they were about to flood with credit couldn't escape the debt.

The tragedy for the real victims of the subprime debacle—the consumers who got trapped in a credit circle of despair—is that they can't escape. They grab the subprime credit cards even at exorbitant interest rates because they provide them with the appearance of liquidity that marginal credit risk consumers heretofore did not possess. Everything was fine until the ARMs kicked up a notch, sending mortgage payments spiraling skyward. Sequentially, what happens is whatever discretionary income exists will be rapidly depleted as rising interest rates eat up the cash. As cash dries up, money to pay all debts—not just the mortgage payment and the credit card payments, but the local utility payments—also dry up. Late utility payments starts the domino affect that impacts the consumer's credit score, which in turn triggers an increase in the interest rates on that consumer's credit cards and even causes the premiums on their auto insurance to rise, depleting even more of what little discretionary income is left in the household.

What ultimately happens is an absolute dependency on plastic. Hard-pressed consumers today are living on plastic. Their credit cards are more important than cash since plastic has become the only cash they have. They use plastic to pay other debts—even to the extent of using cash advances on their credit cards to make their minimum credit card payments.

As US companies downsize and terminate employees or cut their hours, today's consumer is adjusting to the task of living on less income in a time of rapidly spiraling costs. Todays incomes are having more trouble stretching from payday to payday. Many of those with home equity lines of credit use them to buy groceries, pay their utility bills and put gas in the family car. For many, the home equity line of credit becomes the "cash" that is ultimately used to make their mortgage payments.

As the economy worsens—and it will—credit will tighten even more. Those with good jobs and stellar credit won't notice the belt-tightening at first, but Joe and Judy Workingclass, who've fallen on hard times and have been forced to juggle their financial resources far too often and have paid their mortgages and credit card payments late have discovered those essential lifeblood lines of credit have vanished and the available credit on their plastic has melted into oblivion. Daniel Trevor, a well-to-do home owner in suburban Phoenix, Arizona had a handful of friends whose banks cut off their home equity lines of credit. Trevor, who pays his bills on time, never thought it would happen to him. Trevor never used his quarter million home equity line of credit until last month when he tapped his home equity line of credit to finance an investment he was advised by his broker to grab. Much to his surprise, he received a call from his bank advising him the funds he needed would not be available. They froze his loan, they said, because the equity in his home had dminished because of plummeting home prices. Nationwide, home prices dropped 8.9%. Home prices plummeted 15.3% in Phoenix and Las Vegas and by 17.5% in Miami, Florida. Since the subprime crash, banks have erased over $1.5 trillion in home equity wealth.

One Countrywide Mortgage homeowner was dismayed when the mortgage company froze his credit line in the middle of a major home remodeling. Citing falling home values in his area, Countrywide wouldn't let him withdraw the funds he needed to repair several rooms that had been gutted to the studs. The American dream has taken a fatalist detour in which the consumer increasingly is pushed against the wall as their financial resources dwindle. Keeping the credit cards payments current takes precedent over keeping the mortgage payment current. When the money—or the available credit—doesn't stretch from payday to payday and tough choices need to made, nine-times-out-of-ten, they will let the mortgage payment slip and make the credit card payments because it takes three months for a mortgage to go into default. The consumer always believes he will be able to catch up the payments and stave off foreclosure within 90 days.

Experian Decision Analytics noted that most of victims of economic reappraisal are consumers with low credit scores. They are paying their credit cards with what should be their mortgage payments. Equifax statistics verify that 38% of delinquent mortgage holders kept their credit card payments current and 62% kept their car payments current as their homes went into foreclosure. Record home mortgage foreclosures triggered by greedy mortgage brokers who oversold homes using exotic mortgages to get people into homes they couldn't afford started the ripple in the economic domino affect that threatens to cripple some banks, bringing on a new banking crisis unrivaled since the days of the Keating Five. In all, 76 small banks are in trouble. According to Sheila Bair, chairwoman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp [FDIC], the troubled bank hold only $22 billion in assets. Bair was prompted to make this statement after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke spooked the investment world with a statement before Congress on Thursday in which he said that the central bank faces more difficult issues than it did during the recession in 2001, adding that several small banks are at risk of failing.

On Thursday, Bush noted that the economy was flat, posting a gain of only 0.6 % in the 4th quarter. He blamed it on the still-eroding housing market. Bernanke suggested some banks could fail, causing the NYSE to lose over 300 points on Friday. Instead of thinking in terms of the 76 small banks mentioned by Bair, the media chose to raise questions about Citibank, Bank of America and Merrill Lynch which collectively have over $150 billion in subprime real estate and credit card losses. But each of them, plus Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase have the reserves to avoid failure. The small banks don't have the financial stature to attract foreign capital and are therefore more at risk than the transnational giants.

In January Citibank announced it posted a 4th quarter loss of nearly $10 billion after eating $17 million in subprime chargebacks. To cover the losses, Citibank cut their dividends by 41% after previously assuring investors that their dividends were not in jeopardy. Key Citigroup investors in Singapore, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia kicked in close to $7 billion to stabilize the bank. None of this bodes well for the little guy. While banks and mortgage companies are giving reprieves to owners of delinquent toxic mortgages, the worsening economy will eventually cause them to curb subprime credit card debt. The most profitable business banks have today is subprime because interest rates are 2, 3 or 4 times higher than standard interest rates. During the first half of last year—just before the subprime mortgage collapse—there was a 41% increase in direct mail credit card offers to sub-prime card users. Subprime users are the most vulnerable of getting overloaded with credit card debt. As those consumers max out what credit cards they have they desperately need more since the only "discretionary income" they possess is the available credit on those cards. When financially-strapped consumers max out their credit cards without the prospect of getting another one, they will walk away from their credit card debt the same way they walked away from their toxic mortgages.

When Fairfield, California homeowner Phyllis Coleman's toxic mortgage payment jumped 26% last year she had no recourse but to use plastic to bridge the gap between her resources and her obligations, taking cash advances on her credit cards to make up the mortgage shortfall. When she maxed out her credit cards she lost her home. Hounded by credit card companies for money she didn't have, she walked away from the credit card debt as well.

It appears when the money barons needed to goose the economy they chose to use the least creditworthy consumers to prove that NAFTA wasn't affecting the US economy. According to several credit counselors, using credit cards for daily needs—gas for the car, groceries, or to keep the lights or phone from being shut off is now occurring not only with subprime blue collar workers but middle class professionals as well. Sadly in the next couple of years it is going to get even worse. People have less cash in their pockets, and as the transnational industrialists export even more jobs to Mexico, China, India and Indonesia, and illegal aliens devalue what jobs remain, making ends meet will be even more difficult for the American consumer.

Is there a solution? There's an election coming up. We need to separate the nationalists from the globalists and fire the globalists. We need to retake both Houses of Congress with enough of a majority to override any veto—or an impeachment when we order the President to construct a wall to keep illegals out of the country, or for failing to enforce federal law by arresting and prosecuting corporate executives and seizing the businesses of those who hire illegals; and to legislatively repeal NAFTA—and impeaching any federal judge who does not obey the Constitution including those sitting on the Supreme Court. The globalists believe the Election of 2008 will open the door to the dissolution of the United States of America. Let's show them that November 4, 2008 is an election of the people and for the people of the United States. That's the day the nationalists take their country away from the globalists who are determined to surrender our sovereignty to the Utopians in Europe.