Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Beware The Military - Financial Complex, The Devil and Terry Jones

Eugene Robinson
Jesse Jackson
Feisal Abdul Rauf
"Hillary Clinton is denying rumors that she will replace Joe Biden as the Vice President in 2012. It's fun to have a Clinton denying stuff again." – David Letterman

"At the White House yesterday, President Obama told Israelis and Palestinians to reach a peace deal because they might not get another chance soon. That's not really a peace plan. That's how you get a 5-year-old to use the bathroom." – Jimmy Fallon

"President Obama is now trying for peace in the Middle East using a two state solution. I believe the two states are denial and delusion." – Jay Leno

A rare look into one of the inappropriate ways that we seek to nation build comes to us, courtesy of Kabul Bank . Currently, soldiers are trying to hold off a swarm of workers who are trying to get inside and cash their wage checks, perhaps withdraw their savings, thus creating a money crisis because the bank has overextended itself by making millions of dollars in loans that will never be paid back. Sound familiar?

The two major shareholders of Kabul bank are the brothers of the President, Mahmoud Karzai, and the Vice President, Haseen Fahim. The helped finance the last re-election campaign, and engineered the selection of General Muhammad Qasim Fahim as vice-president. A bank using its shareholders money to finance politics? Happens all the time, they are following normal western business procedures. Here's where the real squirrely behavior starts, about three years ago: "... when the bank’s leaders, including Haseen Fahim, decided to lend Mahmoud Karzai at least $5 million in order to enable him to take an ownership stake in the bank. In the interview, Mr. Karzai said he thought there was nothing unusual about being lent such a large sum of money by a bank to buy shares in that bank. He said it had nothing to do with the fact that his brother was the president." Oh no, and it also had nothing to do with Karzai's brother looking for a good place to launder the money he makes from the heroin trade...

A couple other transactions that the US will probably make good on are: "Mahmoud Karzai has profited directly from his relationship with Kabul Bank. He and Haseen Fahim were part of a group of investors who borrowed $14 million from Kabul Bank to start Afghan Cement... In 2007, Mr. Karzai took out a loan from the bank to buy a villa on the exclusive island resort of Palm Jumeria in the United Arab Emirates for $1.9 million, according to a report in The National, a leading newspaper there. Eight months later, he sold the villa for $2.7 million, for a profit of $800,000.

For his part, Haseen Fahim has taken out $92 million in loans for various projects, Afghan banking officials say. The officials say those loans have not been repaid." These don't even count the money bribes that these men have received from US military and diplomatic officials.

The question for the Karzai government is whether to use public funds to prop up the bank, or go ahead and let his brother's investments go down the drain. Again, a similar situation to our recent banking crisis. What might have happened if we had let our financial institutions go bankrupt instead of using public funds to save them? where did those institutions spend our money? The same questions come up in Kabul Bank, and we will get the same stonewalling and non-answers from their bank officers as we  got from AIG and Goldman Sachs.

Do you think that our model of what a bank does is outdated and inherently corrupt? These banks wouldn't pop up in war zones without the support from the western military and banking industries. Was this the warning that Ike was trying convey? The US has committed to saving the Kabul Bank, hoping to make friends and score brownie points among the Afghani ruling class, while providing more ammo for the Talibans, who are more concerned with the poor wage earners storming the bank... Can we get rid of our ambassador to Afghanistan and special envoy Richard Holbrooke yet?

If you ever doubt the power of the press and public opinion, just look at what happened in Siberia and in Iran. The NY Times publicized the case of Tatyana Kazakova, who: " was a successful real estate entrepreneur who was elected mayor of a downtrodden village called Listvyanka on vast Lake Baikal, in Siberia’s south, and pushed to revive it. In late 2007, she repeatedly clashed with the director of a local resort that is owned by the F.S.B., the main successor to the K.G.B, the feared security and intelligence agency. She said the resort had been carrying out illegal construction that threatened the village’s heating system.

Ms. Kazakova was soon arrested by F.S.B. agents and accused of embezzling money from the village and of election fraud. The agency, which typically investigates major crimes and threats to national security, has never explained why it decided to look into the affairs of a village of only 1,700 people. Officials denied that their inquiry had anything to do with her dispute with the resort." Of course not, and I have a bridge that I would like to sell you... The prosecutors claimed what a righteous bust they made, and they kept her in jail for two years before her case was seen by a judge. They can do things like this outside of Arizona and Texas.

When the Times started questioning the KGB officials and government employees back in Moscow as well as in Irkutsk, she was quickly brought to trial, and: "A judge in the regional center of Irkutsk convicted the mayor, Tatyana Kazakova, of felony charges and sentenced her to six years in prison, but then suspended the sentence. She was also barred from holding public office for two and a half years." Of course, this was a BS trial, the KGB officer who made up the charges and had her arrested still goes free to rip off other people in the area, but at least the poor woman is free to go home to her family. It's just unfortunate that there wasn't any truth or justice to make the ending come out more like a television drama...

Iran has suspended the sentence of stoning to death a woman who is said to have committed adultery. Pressure from an international community, including the governments of Brazil and France, finally led the Iranian judiciary to perk up their ears and pay attention. "The verdict regarding the extramarital affairs has stopped and it's being reviewed." OK, so far so good, but the Iranian judicial department also claims that she was involved in the murder of her husband, and that she confessed to that crime. She could be sentenced for that crime and executed the minute that Ramadan ends. But the charges of murder weren't given until well after the protests over her stoning began, and may have been made up to justify how bad a woman she really is...

Stoning is actually a common judicial practice outside of the world of Shirley Jackson, used mostly in tribal cultures, and of course, Iran considers it part of its cultural norm: "Stoning is the penalty for crimes such as adultery under Iranian law. But Amnesty International said a disproportionate number of those sentenced to death by stoning were women because they were not treated equally before the law and were particularly vulnerable to unfair trials. Iranian authorities routinely defend their legal codes and human rights standards as fully developed and in keeping with the country's traditions and values. They have widely ignored Western denunciations over the crackdowns.

Ashtiani's lawyer said he regards the next critical period coming next week. The moratorium on death sentences during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan will end, and he said he worries that an execution could be then carried out "any moment." So, here is but one small, temporary win for truth and justice today, as fought in the court of world opinion...

Terry Jones, the Gainesville, Florida pastor of roughly 30 followers, is not backing down on his threat to burn a bunch of Korans on September 11. He made the statement in a brazen attempt to garner publicity for his so-called church, and to hawk his book and coffee mugs. The book is: " called Islam is of the Devil that sells for $12.99. He sells an Islam devil coffee mug for $14.99." Once the news item made CNN, it went viral all over the world.
"People are trying to associate us with Nazis. The Nazis gathered up all the books they disagreed with and burned them. This is not a purification of society. It's a protest."
Enormous pressure is being put on this small church and its members to not go through with the Koran burning, even Robert Gat4es has said that it could affect the safety of soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq. Muslims all over the world are going nuts, holding protest rallies, posting videos, writing on websites. They are a bit touchy about any perceived desecration of the Prophet Mohammed and the Koran. Touchier than all other religions combined are towards their holy scriptures. Attempts were made to kill a Dutch cartoonist for drawing and saying something funny about Mohammed, so we can only imagine what kind of religious war will sprout up in Florida. A call to arms for all Islamicphobes to rush to Gainesville, while al-Qaeda makes plans to leave Afghanistan and Pakistan and Yemen and Somalia to sneak across the Arizona desert en-masse to strike down the hate-mongering infidels at the Dove World Outreach Center, a Pentacostal tradition...
"TV reporters hammered, How could you send a message of hate? How could you ignore the pleas of Petraeus? He told them the church answers to God, and, so far, God says it's a go.

Wayne Sapp said no church has been so maligned as his. "No one in history has been through anything like this," he said. "Jesus had just one part of the world down on him. We've got the whole world."

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