In what may be the most prophetic news of the day, we learn that the head of Afghanistan's central bank, Abdul Fitrat (what an oddly appropriate name for a central banker), has escaped the country, emigrated to the US and "isn't expected to return because he fears for his safety after investigating fraud allegations at the country's largest lender, according to two Western officials." It gets funnier. From the WSJ: "Mr. Fitrat said he left the country because his life had been threatened and that the Karzai government was refusing to prosecute those allegedly involved in fraudulent loans, the Associated Press reported. "My life has become completely endangered," he told the AP. "Since I exposed the fraudulent practices on April 27 in parliament I have received information about threats on my life." Mr. Fitrat's family lives in the Washington suburbs, and he has permanent resident status in the U.S., according to a person close to the banker." Surely, Mr. Fitrat had nothing to do with the $850 million in "suspect loans" made by Kabul Bank which is at the core of the scandal. After all, central banks are never involved in such things as massive money laundering schemes and fund flows that are respectable fractions of a host country's GDP. Oddly enough, when it comes to matters of central bank kleptocracy, we are willing to side with the position of the so called despotic domestic regime: "Mr. Fitrat "has escaped Afghanistan and is in the list of those responsible for wrongdoing at Kabul Bank," Mr. Karzai's spokesman Waheed Omer said on Monday. "This is not a resignation but [an] escape from legal implication of his having failed to act responsibly as the head of the Central Bank." Fear not, Mr. Karzai, we can assure you that when our own ponzi scheme unravels, you can be the host of our own central bank head. Then at some point, an exchange can be effected.
The Fourth Turnings that centered upon an external threat ended with a glorious High. The Civil War Fourth Turning resolution felt more like defeat, with the country exhausted, bitter and angry. All indications are this Fourth Turning will be mainly an internal struggle between the ruling class of bankers, business elites, and politicians and the downtrodden middle class. The lying, cheating, fraud, theft and other wrongs committed by those in power will need to be atoned for. The generational dynamics in place will drive the reactions of the country moving forward. We have been badly led. A vast swath of the populace has lived beyond their means. The existing system is unsustainable. The Boomer generation does not want to yield on their perceived entitlements. The Millenial generation will be saddled with un-payable debts. Generation X is caught in the middle of this generational struggle. The huge imbalances in our society have built up over decades like flood waters behind a weakening levee. When the levee breaks the existing order will be swept away in the raging torrent that will follow.
- HOUSE REJECTS MEASURE TO ALLOW ONLY SOME SUPPORT ACTIONS
- HOUSE VOTES NOT TO RESTRICT U.S. MILITARY ROLE IN LIBYA
The vote was 238 to 180. So does this mean the president is now implicitly violating the War Powers Act? It is getting impossible to follow all the strands of the 5 war fronts that America is successfully finding itself into. Also, does it mean America is now officially at war with Libya? Or does it mean simply that America has unlimited funding to continue its pursuit of "humanitarian" light sweet?
Much of our debt is due to the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and elsewhere.
And yet the top American military and intelligence officials say that debt is the MAIN THREAT to our national security.
"What may be the science story of the century is breaking this evening" ... and it provides a window of opportunity for sanity in the climate change debate ... including getting away from the next financial scam ...
Another revolution in China is impossible, you say? Please step this way into the time machine and return to 1979. The year is usually remembered for the Iranian Revolution, and many commentators are comparing the current "Arab Spring" revolts to the systemic changes unleashed in 1979. More interesting is the case of the Soviet Union in 1979, which appeared to all eyes as a permanent, stable political entity. The U.S.S.R. invaded Afghanistan on December 24, 1979, but that only seems noteworthy looking back from the present. At the time, there was still concern in the West that the U.S.S.R. would launch a blitzkrieg attack to conquer Western Europe. One-party systems lack the mechanisms for adaptation, and thus they are exquisitely ripe for revolution and implosion. Democracies and republics tend to have periods of low-amplitude instability (witness Greece right now) that enable the system to adapt and experiment ("fail fast, fail small" being the preferred process of adaptation). One-party systems, from the Liberal Democratic Party in Japan to the Communist Party in the U.S.S.R. and China, suppress the information and processes intrinsic to dissent, and thus build up intrinsically unstable systems...Both China and the U.S. may be quite different countries by 2021. It's worth recalling that nobody saw the 1989 implosion of the Soviet Union a mere ten years before in 1979, so it is not surprising no one sees the implosion of the Status Quo in China and the U.S. ten years hence.
We've been told that 9/11 changed everything.
Is it true?
Pentagon Papers Whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg Says that the Government Has ORDERED the Media Not to Cover 9/11Submitted by George Washington on 06/15/2011 11:31 -0500
The official release of the Pentagon Papers is big news this week. Ellsberg's support for Wikileaks and Bradley Manning is big news. But Ellsberg's other passion is receiving the "don't touch it" treatment ...
There is a great deal of uncertainty among investors about what the future of the U.S. economy may look like – so I decided to take a stab at what’s likely to happen over the next 20 years. That's enough time for a child to grow up and mature, and it's long enough for major trends to develop and make themselves felt. I’ll confine myself to areas that are, as the benighted Rumsfeld might have observed, “known unknowns.” I don’t want to deal with possibilities of the deus ex machina sort. So we’ll rule out natural events like a super-volcano eruption, an asteroid strike, a new ice age, global warming, and the like. Although all these things absolutely will occur sometime in the future, the timing is very uncertain – at least from the perspective of one human lifespan. It’s pointless dealing with geological time and astronomical probability here. And, more important, there’s absolutely nothing we can do about such things. So let’s limit ourselves to the possibilities presented by human action. They're plenty weird and scary, and unpredictable enough.
Whenever I unleash a tirade at home about how Federal spending has leaped 40% in three years and how the government is now borrowing 42% of its spending, my wife points out that nobody cares because the deficit doesn't impact them at all. This always stops the tirade in its tracks, because it's so obviously true. As long as the Federal checks keep being issued and everyone gets their 17 "low-cost" meds paid by Medicare, the National Defense State gets unlimited billions to spy on the citizenry and indeed, the entire world, gasoline at $1,000 a gallon flows freely in Afghanistan and other distant corners of the Empire, and Wall Street writes itself billions in bonuses, then nobody cares about the deficit. The only way anyone will feel the deficit is if their share of the Federal swag is trimmed to pay the interest on the ballooning debt. But the Federal Reserve has a solution to that eventuality: keep interest rates (and thus yields on new Federal debt) super-low. At zero interest, $50 trillion in debt costs nothing. Heck, you and I could handle the interest payments on $50 trillion at zero interest. At 1%, the interest is "only" $500 billion a year--no big deal, as we can easily borrow another $500 billion a year, no problem. After all, the bond market hasn't barfed yet and we're already borrowing $1.65 trillion a year, plus hundreds of billions "off-balance sheet" in "supplemental appropriations."
Our descendents will surely look back on this time and wonder how we could have been so foolish– to let these people rob our freedoms; destroy our economies; kill foreigners on their home soil; and shower themselves with Peace Prize medals… all while keeping society quietly subdued with games, tricks, and bombastic patriotism. They tell us to wave the flag, to buy yellow ribbon bumper stickers, and to remember the fallen on days like today. Truthfully, though, the memories of the fallen would be much better honored if the government quit making more of them… and stopped destroying the freedom that they supposedly died to defend.
Recently, I have been thinking about a former marine I know that recently "retired" from the federal government after a couple of decades as an US postal inspector. During his entire career in government service, he carried a weapon, and spent most of his time conducting narcotics investigations. He has photos of himself beside giant mountains of cash and drugs that he had seized on raids. Several months ago, before he retired, he shared a little bit about his financial situation; specifically that he has several hundred thousand dollars in a federal retirement account invested in U.S. treasuries. He said it was essentially all that he and his wife had saved, and that he knew it was not going to be enough for him to truly retire, especially because they still have kids to put through college. Being a bit of an instigator, I asked this ex-marine/postal worker what his assumptions were regarding inflation, his life expectancy, and future returns...
Are they pulling a Columbo?
We are about to experience the consequences of decades of really bad decisions.
- Al Qaeda names Egyptian militant Adel as interim chief - Al Jazeera (Reuters)
- Geithner: U.S. must deal with budget woes or pay more (Reuters)
- Pressure mounts on Strauss-Kahn to quit (FT)
- IMF issues stark warning to Greece on fiscal goals (Reuters)
- Europe Aims to Keep IMF Job After Strauss-Kahn (Bloomberg)
- The eurozone after Strauss-Kahn (Martin Wolf, FT)
- U.S. mulls White House aide Lipton for IMF No. 2 job (Reuters)
- Could Greece be the next Lehman Brothers? Yes – and potentially even worse (Guardian)
- Moody's Cuts Rating of Four Major Australian Banks (WSJ)
- Fed seeks annual US bank stress tests (FT)
- Mideast peace bid needed more than ever (Reuters)
- World Bank sees end to dollar’s hegemony (FT)