Mercury Rising 鳯女

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Archive for December 9th, 2011

Navajo woman runs in AZ-1

Posted by Charles II on December 9, 2011

Via Roadmaster Incognito at Eschaton, the Navajo Post writes:

Wenona Benally Baldenegro has announced her run for the U.S. House of Representatives, Arizona Congressional District One.

A member of the Navajo Nation, Wenona is from the Tsi?naajinii Clan and born for the Honágháahnii Clan. Her maternal grandfathers are from the Ta’néézahnii Clan and her paternal grandfathers are from the Tábaahí Clan. Wenona’s campaign is historic, in that she would be the first American Indian woman to ever serve in the U.S. Congress, and the first American Indian from Arizona.

“Two years ago, my relatives rushed one of my grandmothers to the IHS clinic located in my hometown. The emergency room staff taped a note to the door, stating „The ER is closed due to budget cuts. Please visit the next nearest clinic.? My relatives drove my grandmother to the nearest clinic 45 minutes away. She died on the way there. Too many of us have similar stories…

In regards to Rep. Paul Gosar’s continued push for uranium mining in the Grand Canyon

“my family, friends, and community members have experienced the deadly effects of uranium contamination in the tribal communities of Northern Arizona. Instead of opening up one of America?s greatest national treasures, the Grand Canyon, for contamination, uranium companies need to take responsibility for cleaning up the radioactive waste they left behind years ago that continue to contaminate the water we drink and the air we breathe.” Wenona says

Wenona is honored to have received the endorsement of, among others, Navajo Nation Speaker of the Council Johnny Naize, former Hopi Tribal Chairman Ben Nuvamsa, the Colorado River Indian Tribes, the Pascua Yaqui Tribe, former CD1 candidate Howard Shanker, and U.S. Congressman Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ-7).

Posted in Good Things, Wenona Benally Baldenegro | 1 Comment »

Chiang Kai Shek, the C.I.A., and drug running; also, a fascinating sidelight about Patton

Posted by Charles II on December 9, 2011

I finally found a site that reviews the history of how the US got into the business of running drugs: The Takao Club.

Now, it’s important to understand that the US was not the first. The British beat us into the state-driven drug trade by a couple of centuries in the Opium Wars. But drug running has become a central part of US military action. The roots of US involvement are in World War II. Alfred McCoy gives a comprehensive history of that involvement through the mid-70s. In the case of Luciano, drug running was incidental; Luciano was clearly a bad guy (McCoy adds the fascinating point that Patton’s sweep through Sicily was facilitated by the Mafia). In Southeast Asia, drug running became part of policy.

Here’s what the Takao Club says about the connection between the CIA and the opium trade; I’ve highlighted a sentence that I think is based on the political fear that still reigns Taiwan politics:

The rise to power of China’s Nationalist movement was closely linked with Shanghai’s eminence as an international drug capital….

Chiang’s control of Shanghai was made possible with the aid of two main groups: the wealthy and the criminal. Wealthy merchants and foreign capitalists supported the KMT with the understanding that there would be no reforms that threatened their interests. The Shanghai criminal organizations were dominated by two secret society groups called the Green Gang and the Red Gang.

Tu and the Green Gang solved the problem for Chiang Kai-shek. On April 12, 1927, the gangsters initiated a vicious crackdown on the local Communist party organizers and labour activists. During the subsequent ‘reign of terror’, the city’s Communist party and labour movement was destroyed. This pact with the Kuomintang strengthened the Green Gang’s grip on official power, so that Tu was given a seemingly free hand to operate throughout Nationalist China.

By mid-July 1935, Chiang had turned most of the opium enterprises over to his ally, Tu Yueh-sheng. The Kuomintang jurisdiction in 1935 did not lead to opium suppression but brought instead stricter regulation of cultivation and sale…

Following World War II, the Green Gang fell under the control of a Nationalist army lieutenant general, Kot Siu-wong.

With CIA support, the Kuomintang remained in Burma until 1961, when a Burmese army offensive drove them into Laos and Thailand. By this time, however, the Kuomintang had expanded Shan State opium production by almost 1,000 percent-from less than 40 tons after World War 11 to an estimated three hundred to four hundred tons by 1962.

Shan heroin refinery in Thailand

From bases in northern Thailand the Kuomintang continued to send huge mule caravans into the Shan States to bring out the opium harvest. Until 1971, over twenty years after the CIA first began supporting Kuomintang troops in the Golden Triangle region, these Kuomintang caravans controlled almost a third of the world’s total illicit opium supply and a growing share of Southeast Asia’s thriving heroin business.

The Hong Kong-based ’14K’ triad, with its strong links to the old Shanghai Green Gang and Nationalist officers, was able to link the Kuomintang-controlled highlands of the Golden Triangle to the distribution channels of the USA and Europe.

Whether the Kuomintang in Taiwan had any connection with this trade remains an open question. However, it can be assumed that Taipei had little incentive to risk the American aid that flowed in after the Korean War, and the American supply contracts that flooded in during the Vietnam War, launching Taiwan on its ‘economic miracle’.

In the early 1990s, Taiwan came to notice as a transit point for Asian drug trafficking organizations moving heroin to the Western Hemisphere. The largest heroin seizure on record is the nearly half-ton of heroin that U.S. authorities discovered in Hayward, California in 1991. The drugs, which originated in China, had transited Taiwan en route to the United States.

(Also consult The Soong Dynasty by Sterling Seagrave)

Now, I don’t think it’s an open question as to what the relationship between the KMT on Taiwan and the narcotics trade was. Alfred McCoy, in The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia wrote:

In 1950 the Defense Department extended military aid to the French in Indochina. In that same year, the CIA began regrouping those remnants of the defeated Kuomintang army in the Burmese Shan States for a projected invasion of southern China. Although the KMT army was to fail in its military operations, it succeeded in monopolizing and expanding the Shan States’ opium trade.

The KMT shipped bountiful harvests to northern Thailand, where they were sold to General Phao Sriyanonda of the Thai police, a CIA client. The CIA had promoted the Phao-KMT partnership in order to provide a secure rear area for the KMT, but this alliance soon became a critical factor in the growth of Southeast Asia’s narcotics traffic.

With CIA support, the KMT remained in Burma until 1961, when a Burmese army offensive drove them into Laos and Thailand. By this time, however, the Kuomintang had already used their control over the tribal populations to expand Shan State opium production by almost 1,000 percent-from less than 40 tons after World War 11 to an estimated three hundred to four hundred tons by 1962. (130) From bases in northern Thailand the KMT have continued to send huge mule caravans into the Shan States to bring out the opium harvest. Today, over twenty years after the CIA first began supporting KMT troops in the Golden Triangle region, these KMT caravans control almost a third of the world’s total illicit opium supply and have a growing share of Southeast Asia’s thriving heroin business. (131)

At first glance the history of the KMT’s involvement in the Burmese opium trade seems to be just another case of a CIA client taking advantage of the agency’s political protection to enrich itself from the narcotics trade. But upon closer examination, the CIA appears to be much more seriously compromised in this affair.

What is particularly notable is the destination of the products of the opium that the KMT was producing: the streets of America. The addiction of Americans was financing secret wars being conducted by the CIA.

If you want to understand why Burma–a US ally during WW II–has been so hostile to the US, you cannot understand without understanding this history. If you want to understand why Italy is so ungovernable, this history is an important source to visit. If you want to understand the violence in Latin America, look into this history. All through the world history of the last 60 years, this secret drug empire lurks as a primary cause of America’s defeats.

And this returns us to why the Gary Webb story is so important. Today, December 9th, is the seventh anniversary of his death.

Posted in China, CIA, War On Some Drugs | Tagged: , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Ayn Randians to create free market paradise in Honduras

Posted by Charles II on December 9, 2011

Don’t say you weren’t warned. All of the worst ideas of the right are being tried out on hapless Third World nations like Honduras. And they’re scheduled for reimportation to a community very near you. Like your own.

Via Adrienne, an article from The Economist:

Now, for the first time, libertarians have a real chance to implement their ideas. In addition to a big special development region, the Honduran government intends to approve two smaller zones. And two libertarian-leaning start-ups have already signed a preliminary memorandum of understanding with the Honduran government to develop them.

One firm goes by the name of Future Cities Development Corporation. It was co-founded by Patri Friedman, a grandson of Milton Friedman, a Nobel laureate in economics, and until recently executive director of the Seasteading Institute, a group producing research on how to build ocean-based communes. The other is called Grupo Ciudades Libres (Free Cities Group) and is the brainchild of Michael Strong and Kevin Lyons, two entrepreneurs and libertarian activists.

Mr Strong is close to John Mackey, the co-founder and chief executive of Whole Foods…

Mr Friedman’s contacts seem more promising: the Seasteading Institute received lots of cash from Peter Thiel, a Silicon Valley billionaire who founded the internet payment service PayPal and was an early investor in Facebook…

Honduras has already created zones wherein Honduran law, such as it is, does not operate. Something like Michigan, with its takeovers of municipalities.

Posted in Honduras, libertoonians | 4 Comments »

Oh, Look! Scummy Dictator Lobbyist Lanny Davis Has A Protégé And His Name’s Josh Block!

Posted by Phoenix Woman on December 9, 2011

Because one scumbag lobbyist for overseas dictators and right-wing coup leaders deserves another:

A Politico article yesterday on CAP’s Middle East posture cited Josh Block, who described CAP’s bloggers as writing “borderline anti-Semitic stuff.” In a leaked email to a right-wing listserv, Block, now senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute, disclosed he had compiled thousands of words of opposition research on CAP and Media Matters bloggers, while urging neoconservative journalists to “amplify” the Politico article.

[...]

Last year, upon his departure from AIPAC as a spokesperson for the organization, Block told Ben Smith: “There is an important debate taking place inside the Democratic Party and the progressive movement, and I’m relishing my return to the political, as well as the policy, conversation, politics with Israel-centric policies.” But when not pushing a hard-line on U.S.-Israel policy within the Democratic party, Block partners with Lanny Davis — who represented business interests backing the 2009 coup in Honduras — in a joint lobbying practice.

Block’s firm has proven itself as one of the go-to lobby shops in Washington for human rights abusers such as Ivory Coast strongman Laurent Gbagbo and the the new Honduran government.

TBogg has more on how Josh Block uses the right-wing puke funnel network to spread his smears.

Did you see that Josh Block chose the Republican-funded/run Politico to be his puke funnel? Apparently using the Daily Caller (which as we all know is Republican activist Tucker Carlson’s play toy) would have been a little too blatant.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Friday Cat Blogging

Posted by MEC on December 9, 2011

Friday Cat Blogging

Posted in Alexander the Great, Friday Cat Blogging | 2 Comments »

The panic button is the one with the Vogon engraved into it

Posted by Charles II on December 9, 2011

Ok, we should be getting back into panic mode just in time for Christmas.


(Image from The Guardian)

Via Ritholtz, this article by Martin Hesse and Anne Seith, Der Spiegel:

Europe’s banks urgently need fresh capital to meet tougher EU rules, but they will have problems raising it amid the current crisis of confidence plaguing the euro zone. The survival of Commerzbank, Germany’s second-largest bank, is at stake, and Berlin is considering a full nationalization of the bank if necessary.

Bank managers say that the ballooning debts of a number of euro-zone countries are to blame for this renewed banking crisis only three years after the collapse of Lehman Brothers — and they contend that the crisis management pursued by Brussels, Berlin and Paris has merely exacerbated the problem

the world’s leading central banks provided some relief to lenders last week. They showered the increasingly dry financial system with cheap money. But the flood of cash has not removed the causes of the crisis. The banks will only stabilize when investors regain trust in their stability.

“It’s a mystery to me how some banks can be expected to meet the higher capital requirements at such short notice,” says bank expert Michael Göttgens from the auditing and consulting company Deloitte.

The traditional way would be to raise capital by issuing new shares on the stock exchange. Investors, though, are avoiding European bank stocks precisely because of the sovereign debt crisis. To make matters worse, financial institutions will probably also generate lower returns over the long term due to the more stringent regulatory demands.

banks can also increase their capital ratios by reducing their balance sheets — in other words, by granting fewer loans.

According to FT, stress tests say that German banks need $17.4B, French banks need more than $9B, Italian banks $20B, Spain aboit $34B, Portugal $9B, Austria $5B, Belgium $8B. The UK supposedly has capital sufficiency, but I wouldn’t bet on it. IMO, thanks to the arrogance of its financial wizards, the UK could be an epicenter for a meltdown in derivatives. Anyway, that’s over $100B that has to be moved into capital reserves, which can’t be good for economic growth, whether it’s by taking money from other uses into buying shares or by slashing lending.

Is there a reason to panic? Not the actual financial situation, which could be resolved through modest steps. But the leadership in both the US and Europe–and China and Japan–is so clueless that there’s plenty of reason to be afraid. Basically, as Krugman has pointed out, no one in power understands macroeconomics, even economists. All of the lessons learned during the Great Depression, all of which are obvious from macroeconomics and familiar to anyone who studied Samuelson, have been forgotten.

Added: Joseph Stiglitz read Samuelson.

Posted in Europe, financial crisis | 3 Comments »

 
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