TBR News July 10, 2018

Jul 10 2018

The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Isaiah 40:3-8

Washington, D.C. July 10, 2018: “The French are establishing military defense treaties with the Russian Federation, and in order to deal with the problems of high energy costs, the E.E.C. is trying to work with the Russians to establish an oil industry [in the Arctic] that will enable Europe to free itself from the need for Middle Eastern oil. Reserves of oil believed to be located both in the Russian Arctic and north of the Caspian may turn out to be larger than the reserves in the Middle East and if the Europeans can get the upper hand over the United States in helping develop these reserves, the geopolitical balance may rapidly shift from U.S. domination to the Eurobloc domination.

The German and French governments have already been seriously considering divesting of all of their investment in U.S. Government bonds, and have already decided that they will stop investing in new U.S. bonds. Given the growing strength of the Euro against the dollar this may make the E.E.C. the de facto world economic superpower. If they can institute a mutual defense pact with Russia, this alliance may be able to challenge U..S. superpower status, Russia still has a large nuclear arsenal, and their military capability is still potentially formidable . A joint Russian/E.U. defense union, based upon EU/Russian military forces would be a formidable deterrent to U.S. domination in the Eastern hemisphere. The promulgation of such a pact could well result in an Eastern Hemisphere version of the Monroe Doctrine in which the new superpower demands that no power outside of the Eastern Hemisphere has the right to interfere in the politics of that area. The French most certainly want to challenge US. world domination. and such an alliance would give them the muscle to do so. The interests of Europe and European Russia are far closer than any alliance with the U.S. and Europe is starting to surpass the United States as an economic superpower. The massive outsourcing of U.S. jobs, as well as the decline of the U.S. as an exporting industrial power also is a massive weakness of the U.S. that the Europeans can and no doubt will exploit to their own economic and political advantage . Europe still has a significant industrial base, and a large portion of their outsourcing is done in nations that are geographically contiguous to Europe itself. While they do some outsourcing to India and China, they also do a large amount of outsourcing to the Balkans and the ex- Warsaw Pact Nations which greatly lowers their transportation problems, while the U.S. is withdrawing a lot of its outsourced industry from geographically close countries like Canada and Mexico, for places like China and India. This makes our economy far more fragile, and certainly more vulnerable than the European economy.

America is desperately attempting to prevent the formation of an E.U. military/ Russian  economic and military alliance which would be ipso facto, a catastrophe from the PNAC point of view. In fact the fall of the Soviet Bloc may be something that will be regretted by those who are claiming it to be one of the great accomplishments of Reagan’s neo con government. Most of the Warsaw Pact is and the Baltics are now a part of the E.U. All that would be necessary would be for the Russians to form some alliance in order for the entire continental Europe up to the Urals to form a unified continental force. If Turkey were to  join such a union, as they have expressed a desire to, this alliance will reach the borders of the Middle East and be able to challenge the U.S for dominations over the region.”

 

 

The Table of Contents

  • Judge rejects Trump request for long-term detention of immigrant children
  • Donald Trump’s former driver sues over unpaid wages
  • A matter of life & death’: 15,000 white South African farmers seek refuge in Russia, report says
  • The Media Needs to Radically Change the Way It Covers ‘Foiled Terror Plots’
  • EU’s Tusk to Trump: Respect your allies, you don’t have many
  • The Rape of Russia
  • JESUS CHRIST

 

 

 

Judge rejects Trump request for long-term detention of immigrant children

July 10, 2018

by Andrew Hay

Reuters

(Reuters) – A U.S. federal judge on Monday rejected the Trump administration’s request to allow long-term detention of illegal immigrant children, a legal setback for President Donald Trump’s push to detain immigrant families taken into custody at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Los Angeles U.S. District Court Judge Dolly Gee dismissed as “dubious” and “unconvincing” the U.S. Justice Department’s proposal to modify a 1997 settlement known as the Flores Agreement, which says that children cannot be held in detention for long periods.

The government made its request in June after public outcry over its policy of separating children from parents who entered the United States illegally. A judge in a different case in San Diego ordered the government last month to reunite the families it had separated.

The government asserted in its Flores filing that the San Diego ruling would necessitate longer-term detention of children, since that would be the only way to both reunite them with their parents and keep the parents incarcerated during their immigration proceedings.

Gee rejected that argument.

“Defendants advance a tortured interpretation of the Flores Agreement in an attempt to show that the … injunction permits them to suspend the Flores release and licensure provisions,” she wrote.

Previous administrations often released families apprehended at the border to pursue their immigration claims while living freely in the United States. But Trump has vowed to end what he calls “catch-and-release.”

In a statement, U.S. Justice Department spokesman Devin O’Malley said the administration disagreed with the ruling but said it appeared to allow the government to continue some practices.

“Parents who cross the border will not be released and must choose between remaining in family custody with their children pending immigration proceedings or requesting separation from their children so the child may be placed with a sponsor,” he said.

The plaintiff’s attorney Peter Schey disputed that interpretation, saying the judge’s ruling deals with children and “does not address laws, regulations or rules dealing with the release of parents.”

Gee called the administration’s request for relief from the Flores agreement “a cynical attempt… to shift responsibility to the judiciary for over 20 years of congressional inaction and ill-considered executive action.”

Last week John Mendez, a U.S. District Court Judge in Sacramento appointed by former President George W. Bush, struck a similar note in a ruling on a case challenging California’s sanctuary law.

Mendez said he was joining an “ever-growing chorus” of judges to urge “elected officials to set aside the partisan and polarizing politics dominating the current immigration debate and work in a cooperative and bi-partisan fashion toward drafting and passing legislation that addresses this critical political issue.”

Additional reporting by Eric Walsh; Editing by Leslie Adler, Sue Horton and Neil Fullick.

 

Donald Trump’s former driver sues over unpaid wages

Noel Cintron, Trump’s driver for more than 25 years, says he’s owed 3,300 hours of uncompensated overtime

July 9, 2018

by Sabrina Siddiqui in Washington

the Guardian

Donald Trump’s former personal driver has sued the president’s family business for thousands of hours of unpaid overtime, according to a lawsuit filed in New York on Monday.

Noel Cintron, who worked as Trump’s driver for more than 25 years, said he was owed 3,300 hours of uncompensated overtime from his last six years on the job.

Cintron is suing the Trump Organization for lost wages and damages, stating: “In an utterly callous display of unwarranted privilege and entitlement and without even a minimal sense of noblesse oblige President Donald Trump has, through the defendant entities, exploited and denied significant wages to his own longstanding personal driver.”

Cintron also claimed his salary was increased just twice over a period of 15 years – from $62,700 in 2003 to $68,000 in 2006, and then to $75,000 in 2010. The second raise, he added, came with a caveat: Cintron alleged he was forced to surrender his health benefits, “saving Trump approximately $17,866.08 per year in health insurance premiums”.

Cintron’s lawyers said he is owed roughly $350,000. Under the statute of limitations, he can only seek compensation dating back six years. Cintron was replaced in his role by the US Secret Service in 2016, when Trump became the Republican presidential nominee.

Larry Hutcher, one of Cintron’s attorneys, said Trump’s “complete disregard for the rights of workers has defined his disgraceful record in business”.

“Donald Trump has proclaimed himself as a champion of working men and women, but nothing could be further from the truth,” Hutcher said in a statement. “Noel Cintron worked for him days, nights and weekends, but year after year Trump refused to pay him the wages he had earned.”

The allegations mirror numerous other claims made by contractors and workers for Trump’s companies, who have frequently gone to court over claims of unpaid wages or fees.

A spokesperson for the Trump Organization did not immediately return a request for comment.

 

A matter of life & death’: 15,000 white South African farmers seek refuge in Russia, report says

July 9, 2018

RT

A delegation of 30 South African farming families has arrived in Russia’s farmbelt Stavropol Region, Rossiya 1 TV reports. The group says it is facing violent attacks and death threats at home.

Up to 15,000 Boers, descendants of Dutch settlers in South Africa, are planning to move to Russia amid rising violence stemming from government plans to expropriate their land, according to the delegation.

“It’s a matter of life and death – there are attacks on us. It’s got to the point where the politicians are stirring up a wave of violence,” Adi Slebus told the media. “The climate here [Stavropol Region] is temperate, and this land is created by God for farming. All this is very attractive.”

The new South African government, led by President Cyril Ramaphosa, has pledged to return the lands owned by white farmers since the 1600s to the black citizens of the country. The government said it is planning to put an end to what it calls the legacy of apartheid, where most of South Africa’s land is still in the hands of its minority white population.

Rights groups have said the initiative incites violence. There were 74 farm murders and 638 attacks, primarily against white farmers, in 2016-17 in South Africa, according to data by minority rights group AfriForum.

The farmers are prepared to make a contribution to Russia’s booming agricultural sector, according to Rossiya 1. Each family is ready to bring up to $100,000 for leasing the land.

Russia has 43 million hectares of unused farmland, and has recently begun giving out free land to Russian citizens to cultivate farming. The land giveaway program, which began in 2014, has been a huge success.

 

The Media Needs to Radically Change the Way It Covers ‘Foiled Terror Plots’

July 6, 2018

by Adam H. Johnson

TruthDig

This holiday week, we saw yet another high-profile “foiled” terror plot. And once again, when one looks closely at the government’s case, it consists of an FBI ruse, driven largely by the government itself. According to The Washington Post, the suspect, Demetrius Pitts, “indicated to [an] FBI employee he did not want to detonate any bombs himself” and the FBI special agent in charge “conceded it was unclear whether Pitts had the means to carry out an attack by himself.” The FBI even gave Pitts a bus pass and a cellphone so he could “carry out” the entirely theoretical attack on an Independence Day parade in Cleveland.

But right on cue, the average American was met with the routine barrage of sexed-up headlines, giving one the distinct impression an organic, al-Qaida-driven plot had been stopped at the eleventh hour. Since 9/11, the chasm between the reality of so-called Islamic State or al-Qaida plots and the way the public perceives the threat is light-years apart. The media should—and can—work to reduce this chasm if it chooses to use the slightest bit of critical reasoning and political context.

Human rights groups and independent researchers have found between 67 percent and 99 percent of nominal terror cases involve varying degrees of FBI involvement, often with the bureau acting as the primary engine—providing materials, plans and encouragement to a “suspect,” often after he or she merely expresses pro-jihadist sympathies online. The gap between idle internet musing and actual acts of violence is a wide one, and one the FBI routinely helps close by constructing these Potemkin plots. Frequently, informants or agents working for the FBI outnumber the suspects being targeted by three, four or five to one and provide the funding and targets for the attack. The FBI and its 15,000-strong network of informants particularly enjoy constructing those plots involving major holidays and new, previously unthinkable targets—presumably in an effort to raise the stakes and get an increasingly terror-fatigued public to notice.

Yet one wouldn’t know there was no actual imminent threat by scanning the headlines, which only 40 percent of Americans read past. Often, the fact that the FBI is a driving force behind these “plots” is buried deep in the story, as is the case again this week with coverage from CNN, Forbes, Fox News and CBS News on the alleged plan for a Cleveland attack.

But headlines are the most important element of stories, and cable news—which is little more than headlines being yelled at the public on a loop—engages in the same type of shallow, government-parroting fear-mongering. The vast majority of Americans are simply unaware of the degree to which these are not plots that would otherwise be carried out, but creations of a network of informants and agents building a trap for a target, very often one that’s poor, black and suffering from a history of mental illness.

None of this, of course, is to say that every plot is cooked up in some FBI whiteboarding session. Often the line between organic and contrived terror plot is difficult to distinguish, and statistically speaking it’s almost certain some percentage of those caught in the FBI’s crosshairs would have committed an act of violence at some point. But the most basic reading of many of these high-profile cases would leave any reasonable person with the impression these are not actual terror plots in any real sense. And the public has a right to know this, without having to get into the weeds of obscure, difficult-to-read government affidavits.

The media doesn’t simply report the news. It shapes our perception of it. To simply repeat the FBI “foiled a plot” without noting in the headline that the FBI was responsible for creating the plot is intellectual malpractice.

Take the case of Emanuel Lutchman of Rochester, N.Y. A similar holiday-themed “thwarted attack” occurred on New Year’s Day 2016. It involved a mentally unwell indigent man. An FBI informant drove him to Walmart to buy supplies for the attack and provided the $40 for the “terror” materials because the man didn’t have a car or enough money for his own murder-suicide. The headlines at the time screamed “News Year’s Eve terror plot” over and over, but every detail of the case showed how exploitative and thin it was, up to and including the FBI’s informant talking Lutchman into the attack after he wanted to back out at the last minute.

Or look at the case of the “Draw Muhammad Contest” plot in Garland, Texas—an actual terror attack that involved live fire and the main suspect, Elton Simpson, being killed in a hail of bullets in 2015. This too involved undercover FBI agents telling the suspect to “tear up Texas” days before the attack and a mysterious FBI agent who was present when the attack took place, standing just feet behind Simpson. Even the security guard injured in the attack, to this day, blames the FBI for letting the plot spiral out of control.

Now compare this with the hyperventilating coverage of Garland, which gave the impression that Islamic State cells were everywhere in our midst. It wasn’t until months later, after court documents came to light, that we learned the level of FBI involvement. This is a consistent pattern: Initial reports—based solely on an FBI press release and statements—downplay government influence and make the plot seem like the work of an elaborate Islamic State or al-Qaida sleeper cell network. Then, when the case (or related cases) go to trial, the extent to which informants or agents advanced the plot becomes too glaring to ignore.

To what extent the FBI has a hand in creating the image of perma-terror that it and it alone can stop is rarely centered in coverage of these so-called plots. The fact is it’s essential. Anyone who studies these cases with any degree of skepticism knows this. The idea that the FBI eggs on, provides inert weapons for and helps map out these plots is not a controversial point. It’s a key element to the bureau’s “proactive” approach to stopping what it views, fairly or not, as emerging threats.

However, the public has a right to know the deceptive nature of these sensationalist stories, and how often and how much the FBI itself is driving the impression that terror threats lurk around every corner.

 

EU’s Tusk to Trump: Respect your allies, you don’t have many

July 10, 2018

RT

European Council President Donald Tusk called on Donald Trump to be more respectful to America’s allies ahead of a NATO summit, arguing that they are now in short supply, Reuters reports

“Dear America, appreciate your allies, after all you don’t have that many,” Tusk said after signing a statement on cooperation between the EU and NATO.

The declaration was signed ahead of a two-day meeting of NATO members in Brussels starting Wednesday, in which Tusk and Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of the European Commission, will represent the European Union.

Trump is a vocal critic of NATO, which he branded as a vehicle used by European Allies to abuse America’s generosity and get military protection while failing to contribute enough financially. The rhetoric spared fears in Europe that the US may downgrade its military presence on the continent during this week’s meeting.

 

The Rape of Russia

by Anne Williamson

The following  are excerpts Anne Williamson’s testimony before the Committee on Banking and Financial Services of the U.S. House of Representatives, presented Sept. 21, 1999.

It shows how the historic opportunity given the U.S. to help transform Russia into a free, peaceful, pro-Western country was squandered in the form of a bruising economic rape carried out by corrupt Russian politicians and businessmen, assisted by Bush and (especially) Clinton administrations engaged in political payoffs to Wall Street bankers and others, and by ineptitude and greed on the part of the U.S. Treasury and the Harvard Institute for International Development, assisted by fellow travelers and manipulators at Nordex, the IMF, the World Bank, and the Federal Reserve.

The losers were the Russian people and (mainly) U.S. tax-payers.

And the winners? Ms. Williamson names names, and that’s why the elite media has shut out her book. She indicates their heroes are thieves, and they are afraid she may be right.

. . . I should like to add just a few words about myself by way of introduction. I am the author of Contagion: The Betrayal of Liberty, Russia, and the United States in the 1990s, which will be available to Committee Members and the American public in time for the nation’s Thanksgiving holiday. Prior to beginning my work on the book, I covered just about all things Russian for a broad range of publications which included inter alia The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Mother Jones, Art and Antiques, Premiere, Film Comment and SPY Magazine. From the late 1980s until 1997, I maintained homes in both Moscow and the United States. And therefore I can say for much of the last decade I had the privilege of being a witness to a dramatic history and the pleasure and excitement of sharing with the Russian people their remarkable land, language and culture. And it is with a profound gratitude to and a deep respect for that noble, heroic and too long-suffering people that I speak to you today.

In the matter before us – the question of the many billions in capital that fled Russia to Western shores via the Bank of New York and other Western banks – we have had a window thrown open on what the financial affairs of a country without property rights, without banks, without the certainty of contract, without an accountable government or a leadership decent enough to be concerned with the national interest or its own citizens’ well-being looks like. It’s not a pretty picture, is it? But let there be no mistake, in Russia the West has truly been the author of its own misery. And there is no mistake as to who the victims are, i.e. Western, principally U.S., taxpayers and Russian citizens whose national legacy was stolen only to be squandered and/or invested in Western real estate and equities markets.

The failure to understand where Communism ended and Russia began insured that the Clinton Administration’s policy towards Russia would be riddled with error and ultimately ineffective. Two mistakes are key to understanding what went wrong and why.

The first mistake was the West’s perception of the elected Russian president, Boris Yeltsin; where American triumphalists saw a great democrat determined to destroy the Communist system for freedom’s sake, Soviet history will record a usurper. A usurper’s first task is to transform a thin layer of the self-interested rabble into a constituency. Western assistance, IMF lending and the targeted division of national assets are what provided Boris Yeltsin the initial wherewithal to purchase his constituency of ex-Komsomol Communist Youth League bank chiefs, who were given the freedom and the mechanisms to plunder their own country in tandem with a resurgent and more economically competent criminal class. The new elite learned everything about the confiscation of wealth, but nothing about its creation. Worse yet, this new elite thrives in the conditions of chaos and eschews the very stability for which the United States so fervently hopes knowing full well, as they do, that stability will severely hamper their ability to obtain outrageous profits. Consequently, Yeltsin’s “reform” government was and is doomed to sustain this parasitic political base composed of the banking oligarchy.

Property Rights

The second mistake lay in a profound misunderstanding of Russian culture and in the Harvard Institute of International Development advisers’ disregard for the very basis for their own country’s success; property rights. It was a very grave error. Private property is not only the most effective instrument of economic organization, it is also the organizational mechanism of an independent civil society. The protection of property, both of individuals’ and that of a nation, has justified the existence of and a population’s acceptance of the modern state and its public levies.

Russian property rights are tricky; property has never been distributed, but only confiscated and awarded on a cyclical basis. For the big players property exists, as it always has, only where there is power. For the common man, the property right hasn’t advanced much beyond custom which prevents the taking of any man’s shelter, clothes or tools so long as continuous usage is demonstrable. An additional, purely Slavic feature of the Russians’ concept of property is the shared belief that each has a claim upon some part of the whole.

In ancient ‘Rus, property existed for the individual as a claim – or an entitlement if you will – to a shared asset, a votchina or “estate”, held by all the members of a particular clan. This understanding of property still informs the culture; though Westerners bemoan Moscow mayor Yury Lyuzhkov’s retention of the system of the residential permit (“propiska”) as an impediment to a flexible labor force, the policy is one of Lyuzhkov’s most popular. Muscovites are well-satisfied with a mayor who polices outsiders as they believe any proprietor of such a great estate as Moscow should.

The Russians’ failure to accept the Roman concept of private property has compelled them to suffer the coercive powers of the state so that at the very least a civil order, if not a civil society, might be established and sustained. The hackneyed idea that Russians have some special longing for tyranny is a pernicious myth. Rather, they share the common human need for predictable event undergirded by civil and state institutions and their difficult history is the result of their struggle to achieve both in the absence of private property.

Since only the Tsar or the Party had property, no individual Russian could be sure of long-term usage of anything upon which to create wealth. And it is the poor to whom the property right matters most of all because property is the poor man’s ticket into the game of wealth creation. The rich, after all, have their money and their friends to protect their holdings, while the poor must rely upon the law alone.

Connections

In the absence of property, it was access – the opportunity to seek opportunity – and favor in which the Russians began to traffic. The connections one achieved, in turn, became the most essential tools a human being could grasp, employ and, over time, in which he might trade. Where relationships, not laws, are used to define society’s boundaries, tribute must be paid. Bribery, extortion and subterfuge have been the inevitable result. What marks the Russian condition in particular is the scale of these activities, which is colossal. Russia, then, is a negotiated culture, the opposite of the openly competitive culture productive markets require.

Ironically, the nontransferability of the votchina system’s entitlement was the very flaw a shareholding culture and an equities market could have addressed successfully had Lenin’s revolutionary dictum of “Property to the people! Factories to the workers!” been realized. And such a program existed. It was designed by Larisa Piasheva, a free market Russian economist who was appointed by Moscow mayor Gavriil Popov to design and execute a program for the privatization of Moscow’s assets. Ms. Piasheva’s program was a fearless and rapid plunge into the market which would have distributed property widely into Russia’s many eager hands. Further, the program – inspired as it was by the policies of Ludwig Erhard and his adviser, the renowned Austrian economist Wilhelm Roepke – did not rely upon Western lending but instead tailored itself to maximize direct Western investment.

When the Administration says it had no choice but to rely upon the bad actors it did select for American largesse, Congress should recall Larisa Piasheva. How different today’s Russia might have been had only the Bush Administration and the many Western advisers from the IMF, the World Bank, the International Finance Corporation, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the Harvard Institute of International Development then on the ground in Moscow chosen to champion Ms. Piasheva’s vision of a rapid disbursement of property to the people rather than to the “golden children” of the Soviet nomenklatura.

Instead, after robbing the Russian people of the only capital they had to participate in the new market – the nation’s household savings – by freeing prices in what was a monopolistic economy and which delivered a 2500 percent inflation in 1992, America’s “brave, young Russian reformers” ginned-up a development theory of “Big Capitalism” based on Karl Marx’s mistaken edict that capitalism requires the “primitive accumulation of capital”. Big capitalists would appear instantly, they said, and a broadly-based market economy shortly thereafter if only the pockets of pre-selected members of their own ex-Komsomol circle were properly stuffed. Those who hankered for a public reputation were to secure the government perches from which they would pass state assets to their brethren in the nascent business community, happy in the knowledge that they too would be kicked back a significant cut of the swag. The US-led West accommodated the reformers’ cockeyed theory by designing a rapid and easily manipulated voucher privatization program that was really only a transfer of title and which was funded with $325 million US taxpayers’ dollars.

Vouchers and Vandals

Voucher privatization’s conceits were compounded by a grievous insult; unregulated voucher investment funds, which the privatizers encouraged the uncertain Russian citizenry to patronize. Hundreds and hundreds of investment funds simply walked with their clients’ vouchers, reselling them to domestic criminals, Red Directors, western investment banks and international money launderers. In other words, the lion’s share of Russian money laundering occurs when capital enters the country, and what we see today in the Bank of New York scandal is, in fact, properly understood as capital flight. When the 18 month-long thieves’ banquet that voucher privatization was concluded in July 1994, the program, whose very design left the controlling shareholding of any single enterprise in the hands of the state, had actually institutionalized the state as the determinant owner of all that had formerly belonged to “the people”.

Co-temporaneously with voucher privatization, an early and precipitous Bush Administration initiative was coming to fruition. In early 1992, the “Bankers Forum” project was wheeled into place by a former New York Fed chief, Gerald Corrigan, who at George Bush’s direction sent in a group of experts from the Fed, commercial banks and the Volunteer Corps on an off-the-books mission to teach the Russians at the Central Bank the bond game. Moscow-based Dialog Bank’s Peter Derby, who explained the project’s background remarked, “Basically, when Corrigan asks, I guess no one turns him down, because people reacted instantaneously. It was done by private investors, who were asked by a person you can’t say no to” (my emphases).

The improbable yields (290 percent on 3-month paper at one point) on the Russian market’s GKO instruments were paid with US taxpayers’ money via IMF loans. Guess where all investment went? By yielding those kind of non-market returns, the bond market insured that all the country’s resources and all that it was capable of attracting went to the support of the state, just as Tsarism and Communism had done previously.

So lush were the bond market’s rewards that dubious market participants included the Russian Central Bank itself through an off-shore firm known as Fimaco. The involvement of the Harvard Institute of International Development’s HIID honchos in the same conflict-of-interest activities has already been admitted publicly and remains the object of a Boston Grand Jury’s scrutiny. The Harvard Management CorporationHMC, which invests the university’s endowment, was also an avid purchaser of Russian bonds, a dubious and unsettling history since there is no legal separation of HMC and the university itself. According to the Russian Interior Ministry’s Department of Organized Crime, Western employees of Russian banks, Western bankers and consultants, Russian bankers and anecdotal evidence, other likely participants include certain employees of the U.S. Treasury, of the multilateral agencies (most especially the World Bank’s Moscow offices), of bilateral aid agencies, and policy and program consultants acting through accounts established in their wives’ maiden names with non-U.S. reporting brokerages in Moscow. Even the Ford Foundation’s Moscow office sponsored its own internal Russian bond shop for which the unthinking Russian managers once asked this reporter to drum up U.S. investors.

Clinton Buys Wall Street

One particularly striking aspect of Bill Clinton’s presidency is how aggressively his administration has worked to capture the political support of the financial sector, offering up heretofore unseen gobs of government favor. A disproportionate number of firms receiving OPIC (Overseas Private Investment Corporation, a government entity) guarantees, Export-Import bank lending, and IFC (International Finance Corporation, the private lending arm of the World Bank) and Russian Enterprise Fund participation were generous contributors to both Clinton campaign coffers and the DNC. The basic formula was simple, it’s not the rocket science Russia’s Harvard advisers intimated it was: The bread and butter of all equity markets are bonds. Wall Street wanted a debt market. You build it and we’ll come, they said.

The aid program delivered best it could what was in reality a flimsy contrivance, which – in turn – was really only an exotic venue through which to pass public funds to selected Russians of the Clintons’ and HIID’s choosing and to Wall Street investment banks the Clintons hoped to entice permanently into their orbit of supporters and contributors. In short, the Russian bond market was the Arkansas Development Finance Authority gone international.

Today the Clinton Administration’s chief defense for their hand in Russia’s ruin is that somebody had to keep the communists at bay. But there were no communists in Russia by late 1991, only nascent investment bankers looking to nail down a stake any which way. Communism had evaporated by late 1987, the year in which the Russian people were allowed to hold convertible foreign currencies. Overnight, the power of money displaced the power of ideology.

The Role of Nordex and FPI

Though some now say the loans-for-shares privatization program marked the reformers’ fall from grace, I beg to differ. On 14 September 1991, Vladimir Shcherbakov, the last First Deputy Prime Minister of the Soviet Union, formed with two other partners, one of which was the now notorious Austrian firm, Nordex GmbH, the International Foundation for Privatization and Private Investment FPI. FPI’s charter was legitimized by Gorbachev’s signature and approved by 13 heads of what were still constituent republics.

In an interview published in a 1993 issue of VIP, the vanity organ of the commercialized nomenklatura, Shcherbakov reported excellent relations with the new regime of “eager young reformers” – Gaidar, Chubais et al – and their leader, Boris Yeltsin. All hail-fellows-well-met. So too did FPI enjoy similarly sympathetic connections to the EBRD, the IMF and the UN Industrial Development Organization. Shcherbakov even boasted about FPI’s “new approach to the problem of the property of the Western Army Groups in Eastern Germany that comes down to its joint exploitation by Russian and German businesses”, an eyepopping admission since a year after the interview was published, the Russian scandal was Bonn’s claim that Soviet weaponry sales to rogue regimes originating in the Western Army Group had amounted to a $4 billion criminal take.

A former employee of FPI, speaking through clenched teeth, reported, “It’s FPI not a well-known organization, but it’s one of the most wealthy and most powerful organizations in Russia,” and their work was engineering commission-paying deals for money or privilege with the Kremlin, thereby organizing a pipeline of tribute typical of corrupt regimes. “I can’t say it publicly, I can’t prove my position with documents, but I know they were privatizing companies, the very best companies, before we had a privatization program.”

The CIA has determined that through Nordex, FPI seized the export earnings from Russia’s natural resource companies – oil, gas, platinum, gold, diamonds – and from industrial firms exporting items such as steel and aluminum and then stashed the hefty profits in Western bank accounts. And only now, eight years almost to the day later, do US taxpayers learn that the “eager, young reformers” to whom their resources were sent for the purpose of building a new Russia were in league from day one with the exhausted Soviet nomenklatura in a scheme to loot Russia’s wealth and park it in the West.

Yegor Gaidar still insists, John Lloyd was good enough to remind us in his recent New York Times Sunday Magazine article, that “he had no choice but to let prices rise to increase supply and to scrap trade barriers so that foreign commodities could begin to fill store shelves.”

Freeing Prices Without Privatization

Gaidar’s assertion is untenable. The Soviet Union was economically self-sufficient except for bananas, coffee and coconuts. Foreign commodities weren’t required to fill Soviet shops. And even though the ruble was not convertible, that characteristic had nothing to do with the sudden shortages in late autumn 1991, which were only slightly worse than those normally encountered in the last thin years of Gorbachev’s perestroika.

No one had stopped producing, but shops were suddenly nearly empty. Producers had begun hoarding, as had fearful consumers, but why? It wasn’t that Yeltsin announced in November 1991 that the government intended to free prices, it’s that he also announced the exact date on which prices would be freed. Predictably, producers withheld their product from market and rubbed their hands together like flies awaiting the coming feast which Yeltsin’s newly announced policy guaranteed. Within a week of the ill-considered speech, Muscovites’ needs were being rationed.

However, Gaidar really was under pressure, but the pressure was coming from the West to open Russia to unrestricted imports in return for multilateral lending. Gaidar soon delivered a trade policy that was 100 percent back-to-front, accommodating as it did the self-serving demands of both the West and Russia’s nascent banking oligarchy; Russian manufacturing was to take the brunt of unrestricted foreign competition, but domestic banking was to be protected from competition! Even Russian Central Bank Chairman Viktor Gerashchenko protested, but the Russian bankers were accommodated and the IMF continued lending. So much for the “leverage” foreign policy elites claim foreign assistance programs provide the U.S.

In 1991, there was no hope whatsoever that wheezebag Soviet industries could compete with Western products. For decades, prices were set by Gosplan (State Ministry of Central Planning), any enterprise profits were claimed as Soviet tax revenues, all customer bases were guaranteed and therefore no enterprise had a financial incentive to compete. Without competition, there was never any need to improve quality.

How could freeing prices alone change this equation? Free prices only work to the benefit of consumers when producers compete with one another in the marketplace to satisfy customers’ demands, leaving consumers postitioned to reap the most benefit at the lowest price. Clearly, an equitable and transparent privatization that would have delivered property widely to Russia’s many eager hands should have preceded the freeing of prices. And during privatization, native producers should have enjoyed some protectionism at least, as did developing American industry and manufacture in the 19th century.

Jeff Sachs Can’t Read

Competent advisers would have known Russia never did develop an effective banking sector and system of credit in a 1000 years of her history. The story of Russian banking – ancient and modern – always has the same plot, only the names and the dates change. S.Y. Borovoi’s easily obtained history of 18th century banking outlines a typical episode involving a certain “Suterland, who received 2 million pounds for transfer to London, but instead lent the sums to Prince Potyomkin (800,000), Finance Minister Vyazemsky, Foreign Minister Bezborodko and even to the future emperor Pavel. The debt of these honorable people was, according to the custom, forgiven and paid by the state.” (My emphasis)

Certainly eager Western banks should have been given admission to Russia. By working initially with more developed and well-capitalized Western banks and later by competing with them, Russian banks could have developed quickly and today be mediating capital responsibly and profitably. No good economic purpose was achieved by foisting subsidized billion dollar loans onto Russia for the purchase of Western consumer goods.

Once the crime of voucher privatization was fully realized, thereafter ensued a years-long highly-criminal and oftentimes murderous scramble for hands-on control of the enterprises. Directors stashed profits abroad, withheld employees’ wages and after cash famine set in, used those wages, confiscated profits and state subsidies to “buy” the workers’ shares from them. The really good stuff – oil companies, metals plants, telecoms – was distributed to essentially seven individuals, “the oligarchs”, on insider auctions whose results were agreed beforehand. Once effective control was established, directors – uncertain themselves of the durability of their claim to the newly-acquired property – chose to asset strip with impunity instead of developing their new holdings.

Unsurprisingly, the entire jury-rigged effort has collapsed in flames. The bond market has gone bust, Russia is crushed by her IMF loan payments, and OPIC’s nearly $2 billion in U.S. taxpayer-provided guarantees are yet to be resolved. The West’s best course under whatever new government the Russian people elect is to take its own advice, stop meddling, cease all subsidies and allow what few market mechanisms that do exist in Russia to work. The sooner the banking industry’s pylesos (“vacuum cleaners”) are allowed to fail, then the sooner the national property can return to market where more able and productive hands might yet grasp it.

Until Russians have resolved for themselves how property is to be held and secured their decision de jure, all the destructive economic arrangements and cultural behaviors crowding Russian history will continue. Wealth will not be created without private property; without transferable property secured legally to protect no Russian will pay taxes; without revenues no Russian government can endure without falling back upon what is every state’s final reserve; coercion.

The years-long sugarcoating of what the Clinton administration’s policies have wrought in Russia is just one more lie bequeathed Americans. More Western money will only work to insure the continued degradation of Russia, bequeathing her people a future that can be discerned in that most familiar object of Russian folk culture – the Matryoshka nesting doll – a perfect, visual metaphor of Russia’s Brechtian universe: Each figure is captive, one inside the other, and in the end the biggest doll consumes the lot.

Free Money from the Fed

Turning to the question of the IMF and the World Bank generally and their specific roles in international finance, much needs to be said. When libertarians say that government produces nothing, they make a serious error. Government produces one thing in abundance – our money. U.S. paper fiat dollars have no intrinsic value and circulate only by faith and by edict. Consequently, the dollar in a baby boomer’s pocket is worth but the penny that was in his grandfather’s purse less than a century ago. But granddad’s penny was one hundredth of a gold-backed dollar’s value, while today’s dollar is the product of a government-operated pyramid scheme. Once the state slipped the “golden handcuffs” of budgetary discipline through the establishment of the Federal Reserve System, it gained the ability to create unlimited debt, thereby claiming for itself what before had been the purview of tyrants – the ability to debase the currency. It is the slow leaching of value from the U.S. dollar, not the far lesser sums raised by direct taxation, which has enabled the political class to purchase votes for its re-election, creating massive dependencies upon government amongst the citizenry in the process. The end result is the degradation of American society and the citizenry, a situation much remarked upon.

Any pyramid scheme remains viable only so long as its base continues to expand and it is that fact which has driven US foreign policy for much of the past century. Since politicians and investment bankers both have an interest in promoting deficits and in forcing taxpayers to redeem government debt, they were quick to come to terms on the advantages of underwriting foreign debt along with new markets and natural resources from abroad. Taxpayer-subsidized globalism then is not a new phenomenon, but it has reached an apogee of sorts under the guiding hand of the opportunistic Clinton Administration.

Once the criminal financial flows from Russia and Asia were combined with the easy money common to presidential election cycles and began pumping into the economy in the spring of 1995, it wasn’t long before asset inflation hit U.S. corporate share valuations. Throughout 1995 and 1996, the money supply kept rising, and along with it mutual fund holders’ paper wealth. Attracted by the double-digit yields found in risky, unregulated environments abroad, the banks – given the election year liquidity the Fed wished to export – lent unwisely and to excess. The moral hazard the 1995 $40 billion bailout of Mexico unleashed (the debt was refinanced, not repaid, with additional IMF lending and proceeds from eurobond sales in 1996) led to a tripling of international capital flows. Investors took greater and greater risks in the belief that the “new paradigm” economy promised taxpayer-provided redemptions if necessary. The consequence of all those dollars frolicking in exotic locales is a $141 billion bailout for Asia, more than $20 billion for Russia in 1998 alone, and $30 billion for Brazil in 1999.

Liberty vs. Empire

Cures under discussion all share one quality; each has some aspect that degrades American citizens’ independence and prosperity while delivering yet more more to intrude to the political class. It is one more irony of the post-cold war environment that ambitious American policymakers, who were so busy “reforming” Russia in the most appallingly cavalier and self-serving fashion, failed to honor the lesson Russia has to teach, i.e. liberty and empire do not cohabit.

The 1930s were the last era in which the international political and financial elite sought advantage through control of the global economy. What economists call “hot money” raced from one nation to the next throughout that era, leaving a trail of competitive currency devaluations in its wake. Six decades ago, as nation after nation was humbled by and strangled with the manipulations of the financial world’s insiders, history saw fit to serve up Adolph Hitler.

A world war and a score of years later, the allies established the IMF as a prophylactic money bag to prevent destabilizing trade imbalances and therefore, they thought, a repetition of the preceding decade’s nightmare. Yet over half a century later, the IMF, the World Bank and their similarly US-controlled spawn – the IFC, the six regional development banks and the EBRD – have become 800-pound gorillas of economic distortion and, over time, of pillage which unchecked will guarantee extensive international conflict and a broadly-based anti-Americanism.

During the Cold War, the International Monetary Fund got itself repeatedly into all sorts of financial and ethical mishaps in the West’s effort to contain the Soviet empire. But the IMF’s excesses were of little concern so long as its financial firepower could be directed at whatever nation appeared on the verge of toppling into the Soviet camp.

A Little Gift from Clinton via Rubin and Summers

No longer serving in an arguably wasteful manner what was nonetheless an agreed national purpose, the IMF has come to function increasingly as the personal gift of the office of the U.S. Treasury courtesy of that office’s service to the US presidency. The US-dependent IMF has been well pleased; far easier to serve a single master than answer to a committee of Congressmen such as yourselves.

The ascendancy of Treasury in foreign policy at the State Department’s expense is the result of a neo-mercantilist foreign policy in which enterprise is to be subject to direction from the presidential administration it is to serve. By expanding the mandates and accelerating the use of a host of international agencies in which the US is dominant – the IMF, the World Bank, the EBRD, the regional development banks, the IFC – and combining their efforts with those of the Commerce Department, the Export-Import Bank, OPIC and USAID-financed Enterprise Funds, the Clintons succeeded in constructing an international patronage machine in which the American executive stands supreme.

Today the president’s men are seeking to institutionalize the socialization of private investors’ and global bankers’ risks in international markets via a freshly-capitalized IMF. The price of the US’s $3.5 billion contribution to the proposed IMF bailout fund on top of another requested $14.5 billion was said to be insignificant when weighed against the financial calamity of a worldwide recession that IMF ministrations and policing could avert. But how true is this?

Taking the IMF’s behavior in Russia as a guide, the answer is that we can expect a rapid escalation of taxpayers’ liabilities in the service of failed policies. After the chaos unleashed by the Fund’s initial advocacy of a single ruble zone for the Commonwealth of Independent States, which handed management of the ruble to 12 central banks, the Fund’s monetary sages settled down to their more usual business of lending large sums in return for secret, IMF-designed recovery programs always said to be strictly enforced. In Russia’s case, only the rhetoric of strict conditions was enforced.

For example, when the IMF touted a 1996 $10.2 billion loan on the basis of what an extraordinary job Russia had done in meeting the conditions of a 1995 $6.7 billion loan, one crucial detail went unmentioned. The $6.7 billion loan was extended without any conditions via the IMF’s Systematic Transformation Facility, a program designed to funnel money to Russia in return for “the promise to reform”. Also left unsaid was that through the magic of money’s fungibility, the $6.7 billion loan financed – almost to the kopeck – Yeltsin’s bloody and disastrous assault on Chechnya.

Yeltsin and Tyson Chicken

Following the Russian Communists’ success in the December 1995 parliamentary elections, the Fund proceeded into even dodgier territory with the 1996 $10.2 billion loan, which came front-loaded with a billion dollars meant for Yeltsin’s re-election. Tape recordings of conversations between Mr. Clinton and Mr. Yeltsin made public demonstrate that in return longtime Clinton supporter and campaign donor Tyson Chicken’s exports to Russia – a $700 million annual business – were protected from a threatened 20 percent tariff increase.

Once the first tranche’s payout of a billion plus dollars arrived the following May, Yeltsin pulled out all the stops; back wages for state employees and pensions were paid, and after the IMF’s billion was consumed, the capricious Siberian ordered his initially mulish Central Bank to hand over a billion more. The IMF said nothing despite claiming the Fund’s main achievement during the previous 6 months was legislation establishing the Russian Central Bank as an independent institution. Therefore, the Fund’s current denial of any knowledge of the Russian Central Bank’s offshore operations through Fimaco is dubious at best.

But weren’t Americans told that Russia’s financial oligarchy paid for Yeltsin’s re-election? To the contrary, Russia’s bankers made serious money on Yeltsin’s electoral weakness by buying government bonds at distressed prices using cheap money handed over from government deposits. The lion’s share of the domestic bonds’ high yields have always been paid with IMF loans. Russia’s first representative to the World Bank, Leonid Grigoriev, explained, “Of course, the government was to return this money and that is why the yields on 3-month paper reached as much as 290 percent. The government’s paying such huge, impossible rates on treasury bills, well, it’s completely unbelievable. It had nothing to do with the market and therefore such yields can only be understood as a payback, just a different method.”

Clearly, building an empire of finance capitalism is an expensive business. But who pays? U.S. taxpayers, who paid directly through contributions to both multilateral and bilateral assistance efforts, and Russian workers, who paid indirectly by having their wages go unpaid and their national estate continually degraded. Secondly, the Russian people paid by being denied a means of exchange since the banking and trade sectors of the economy were quick to socialize amongst themselves what few rubles the IMF’s tight money policies allowed the Russian Central Bank to print.

Academic Pigs at the Public Trough

“The new paradigm” economy concocted by the Harvard-connected Clinton Administration appointees in the U.S. Treasury, was designed to extend the federal government’s meddling hand worldwide through its control of the multilateral and bilateral public lenders, enabling government a free ride on the back of a re-structured U.S. economy grown vigorous and ever more innovative on account of the benefits the Reagan era’s low taxation, moderate inflation, reduced regulation and expanding world trade had delivered. The overall scheme works as follows:

Sell assistance programs on an alleged “free market” and “humanitarian” basis by awarding government grants to those academics who can be relied upon to supply the intellectual camouflage politicians and journalists then repeat ad nauseum to a distracted public, move the IMF and the World Bank to target, induce target to raise taxes, fine tune target’s central banking operations, encourage borrowing and debt creation through the target’s government and its national banks, allowing IMF lending to pay yields if necessary; induce target to privatize national property while building a flimsy, artificial “infrastructure” for an equities market good enough to attract high risk foreign investors. Once the target nation’s government flounders, step back and watch speculators assert discipline through a run on the target’s currency. The subsequent devaluation delivers, in turn, a flood of cheap imports to American manufacturers and producers.

The finishing touch on the swindle is to confiscate more money from G-7 citizens (the lion’s share from Americans) to pay for what is said to be an “essential” IMF bailout; thereby allowing Uncle Sam’s IMF minions to entrench themselves more deeply in the target’s government. Taxes are raised, the population struggles beneath indebtedness, government funding demands and the inevitable domestic inflation a devaluation delivers. Western neo-colonialists then bully the target over its rapidly compounding debt in order to extract yet more property. Once successful, the world’s insiders then turn around and deliver cheap shares from privatizations and initial public offerings into the maw of U.S. mutual funds and portfolio investors. US taxpayers get hit coming (foreign aid) and going (bailouts) and innocent foreigners’ property is finagled away either from, or on account of, inattentive and corrupt leaderships. The big winners are the world’s increasingly corrupt and cozy governing class, international bureaucracies and global banks.

What U.S. policy has wrought across much of the post-cold war landscape is a moral, political and financial abomination based on fraud, theft and deceit. In Russia the results of the Clinton Administration’s policies are the perpetuation of the longest depression of the 20th century in what is increasingly an unpoliced deadly weapons dump, the biggest swindle of national property since Vladimir Lenin muscled the country early in the century and the discrediting of the ideas of free markets and democracy.

The Chickens Come Home

But as the old saying has it, what goes around comes around. Unfortunately, all those dollars the Fed printed to get Bill Clinton re-elected in return for Alan Greenspan’s third appointment as central bank chief, are now returning to the United States in the form of manufactured goods and commodities with which U.S. producers can not compete on price.

When exchange rates fluctuate against one another as they do now, some countries will inflate more quickly than other countries. The G-7 are the only nations that try to co-ordinate their monetary policies and the effort usually ends up a failure over time. When one country inflates too quickly, the value of its currency will decline.

Some governments – especially those with an election on the horizon – actually want to devalue since national exporters, their goods now being cheaper, sell more goods. Global lenders like the IMF are also fond of devaluations because a rising national income from bargain exports leaves plenty in the national kitty for principal and interest payments to them. (Global direct investors who stick to the dollar, quasi-“good guys”, fear devaluations, because their profits calculated in a devalued domestic currency buy fewer dollars for repatriation.)

But when exchange rates depreciate rapidly the specter of capital flowing out of a country appears. Foreigners and residents put their savings elsewhere. The currency goes into free fall, its value plummets, more investors flee and at the end of the cycle, interest rates skyrocket. This is exactly what happened in Asia in 1997, in Russia in 1998 and in Brazil in 1999.

One World, One Currency, One Tax Collector

Yet to curse the speculators is useless; since the 1973 collapse of Bretton Woods that broke the international link between the dollar and gold, the fear of the syndrome described above is the only remaining bit of discipline in the international system. How much better, the globalists reason, if there were to be one central bank and one fiat currency for everyone so that then national leaderships (and the financial oligarchies they sustain) could inflate and rob their own populations in unison.

In time, U.S. corporate profits will decline as a consequence of the IMF-induced deflation and share prices of all but premiere multinational corporations will follow suit. Alas, those Americans up to their necks in credit card debt may well be the next class of debtors to be rolled, and American farmers are already suffering serious losses from the collapse of farm commodities prices. In time, credit will dry up, government receipts will dwindle, the national debt will skyrocket and unemployment will increase. Eventually the government will inflate its way out of its accumulated debt.

Camdessus & Fischer: the Inmates Run the Asylum

Before concluding my remarks, I would like to recall one curious and mostly unremarked detail from 1994, that sticks out in this sad story like a boy’s unruly cowlick. In mid-July 1994 – at the very moment dollar-based Mexican tesobonos were being oversold to prosperous clients of Goldman Sachs and other U.S. investment banks, which, in turn, would lead to the 1995 Mexican bailout and the introduction of moral hazard into the world’s financial system – Michel Camdessus told a press conference that he intended to press for the creation of a new IMF facility to give members resources with which to defend themselves against speculative attacks in financial markets.

In other words, long before bailouts of entire countries became routine Camdessus wanted a new loan program to feed the last disciplinarians in the world’s financial system – currency speculators – so that national governments might become even more unaccountable to their citizens. At the time, The Economist slammed the proposal, saying it was “absurd and almost certainly unworkable,” since Camdessus “bizarrely” was assuming the IMF would know more about economic fundamentals than the markets. And that assumption, The Economist noted, was the very assumption which had been the undoing of the USSR’s centrally planned empire. But Camdessus’ 1994 plan is the very one the Clinton Administration implemented and seeks to institutionalize.

So who wags the tail of the money dog? Citizens who labor to create wealth for themselves and their families or folks like IMF chief Michel Camdessus, a French socialist and lifetime bureaucrat, and his deputy, Stanley Fischer, who together are quite possibly the two most incompetent people on the planet? Sadly, it appears a once free people are slowly but surely being enserfed to globalism’s useless hors d’oeuvres eaters and incompetent lenders.

It doesn’t take a conspiracy theory to observe that the downward arc of citizens’ liberties, independence and civic competence and of American culture generally parallels the declining value of the U.S. dollar, which has lost 99 percent of its value since the founding of the Fed, and 75 percent of that debasement has occurred since the last link with gold established by Bretton Woods collapsed in 1971. From that perspective, it’s really not very surprising that at the end of the century, not quite a century after America instituted the Federal Reserve and thereby began the process that would deliver the power of creating unlimited debt to the political class, the White House is occupied by a couple who share not so much a marriage as they do a collection of felonies.

Throughout the 1990s, finance capitalism’s shills have been a “new paradigm” economy so glorious one might have thought Beatrice awaited us each and every one at the very lip of Heaven itself. Their brassy tune celebrated the defeat of the business cycle by globalization, productivity gains and computer technology. Inflation was tamed, the golden horns sounded, and we were to dwell eternally in lush fields of full employment, low interest rates and a booming stock market. And, insiders winked, foreign money once mugged by speculators would have nowhere else to go but directly into Wall Street’s money machine.

But what if – instead of Beatrice – what waits over our collective shoulder down Purgatory way is a repeat of the European currency instabilities of the 1930s, which culminated in the most vicious and widely-fought war in world history?

Mother Russia

From the perspective of the many millions of her children, Mother Russia in late 1991 was like an old woman, skirts yanked above her waist, who had been abandoned flat on her back at a muddy crossroads, the object of others’ scorn, greed and unseemly curiosity. It is the Russian people who kept their wits about them, helped her to her feet, dusted her off, straightened her clothing, righted her head scarf and it is they who can restore her dignity – not Boris Yeltsin, not Anatole Chubais, not Boris Berezovsky nor any of the other aspirants to power. And it is the Russian people – their abilities, efforts and dreams – which comprise the Russian economy, not those of Vladimir Potanin or Viktor Chernomyrdin or Mikhail Khodorkovsky or Vladimir Gusinsky. And that is where we should have placed our bet – on the Russian people – and our stake should have been the decency, the common sense and abilities of our own citizens realized not through multilateral lending but through the use of tax credits for direct investment in the Russian economy and the training of Russian workers on 6-month to one year stints at the U.S. offices of American firms in conjunction with the elimination of U.S. tariffs on Russian goods.

Russia is a fabled land, home to a unique and provocative thousand year-old culture, and a country rich in the resources the world needs whose people had the courage and resilience to defeat this century’s greatest war machine, Hitler’s invading Wehrmacht. Yet, thanks to Boris Yeltsin’s thirst for power and megalomaniacal inadequacy, Russia has become the latest victim of American expediency and of a culturally hollow and economically predatory globalism. Consequently, Americans, who thought their money was helping a stricken land, have been dishonored; and the Russian people who trusted us are now in debt twice what they were in 1991 and rightly feel themselves betrayed.

The worst of it was that some pretty good ideas – private property, sound money, minimal government, the inviolability of contract and public accountability – that have delivered to the West’s citizenry the most prosperity and the most liberty in world history, and might have done the same for the Russians, were twisted into perverse constructions and only then exported via a Harvard-connected cabal of Clinton administration appointees who funded – without competition – their allies at Harvard University courtesy the public purse. Joining the US-directed effort were the usual legions of overpaid IMF/World Bank advisers whose lending terror continues to encircle the globe.

But where, in a land in which today more of the people die each year than are born, lies the gain? History’s yardstick will measure out the answer, and I suspect it will not suit us.

 

JESUS CHRIST

 

The great Js all die young — Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Jesus.

Jesus H. Christ was born (ironically enough) around five to six years “before Christ” (B.C.) due to a scheduling mixup.

Generally depicted in art as a white guy with blue eyes and dirty blonde hair, the location of Jesus’ birth and his ethnicity suggest that he probably looked a lot more like Osama bin Laden than Brad Pitt. His parentage has been the subject of much controversy. His mother is generally agreed to have been a woman named Mary, and upwards of 2 billion people would make some sort of claim to the effect that his Father was Yahweh, the Jewish God (as opposed to Zeus, Durga, Allah, Jupiter, Anubis, Quetzalcoatl or Keanu Reeves).

The location of his birth is inconsistently reported, even in the Bible. Christmas carols record it as Bethlehem, other accounts say Nazareth, the town in which young Jesus grew to maturity, with his virginal mother and cuckolded father, Joseph.

In the Bible, Jesus was a precocious child, given to lecturing rabbis on the finer points of Talmudic law and chiding his parents for being so attached to him. A few unauthorized biographies of the “mysteriously-not-burnt-by-the-Catholics” variety, such as the Infancy Gospels of James and Thomas, relate salacious anecdotes about the prepubescent Jesus and his Bart Simpson-like antics — such as using divine powers to blind fellow children who presumed to roughhouse with His Fine Self. Don’t have a cow, man!

When Jesus grew to adulthood, he took up preaching as a career choice. In turn-of-the-Aeon Israel, preaching was a hot career much like computer programming in the 1990s. Everyone was doing it. Amidst a crowded field, however, Jesus stood out as an overachiever and soon people were talking. He gathered a core group of 12 groupies, who would later become known as The Apostles, and took his show on the road at age 30.

Jesus’ pitch was something new — he talked about God as a loving, forgiving figure, in sharp contrast to God’s previous reputation as a pillar-of-salt-transforming smiter of iniquity. He also made a name for himself as a miracle-worker, enabling the blind to see and the deaf to hear, casting out demons, walking on lakes, changing water into wine and making the Statue of Liberty disappear during a prime-time special.

Jesus spent a lot of time curing sick people, feeding the masses and disrupting the money-making activities at local temples. These activities did not endear him to the Jewish authorities, who began researching ways to get rid of him. Eventually they settled on the tried and true method of betrayal by a close friend, and hired Judas Iscariot, one of the Apostles, to do the job for 30 pieces of silver.

In a needlessly elaborate Passover plot, Judas led authorities to the Garden of Gethsemane after supper (which would in retrospect be designated “Last”), telling them to arrest the first person he kissed.

The accounts of what followed are somewhat muddled, but the general idea is this: For both political and religious reasons, the Jewish council of priests didn’t want to personally execute Jesus, so they turned him over to the Romans on charges of inciting revolution.

The Roman governor Pontius Pilate was extremely suspicious of this development, since the Jews did not suffer occupation gracefully and there were plots on every street corner. Suspecting he was being set up as the fall guy, Pilate tried to make Jesus somebody else’s problem, but nobody else was interested. Under heavy pressure from the council, Pilate eventually waffled his way through the dilemma by essentially condemning Jesus to death by Crucifixion but insisting it was the Jews’ fault (a deniability strategy that would eventually be cited by the insane Third Reich as a justification for the Holocaust).

The crucifixion went off without a hitch. Jesus was marched up to a hill, nailed to a cross and died. Or did he?

The official story is that Jesus died on the cross, was tossed in a grave but not embalmed (due to the impending Passover Sabbath) and miraculously rose again in three days. Not surprisingly, this account has been the subject of much dispute after the fact.

Again according to the party line, the Risen Jesus spent 40 days hanging with his Apostles, before bodily ascending into Heaven for the duration of human history. When he departed, or so the story goes, Jesus (allegedly) put Peter in charge of the Church, a fateful (alleged) decision that would lead to centuries of bad blood among the various Christian sects.

About five minutes after Jesus was out of the public eye, the controversy began.

It’s universally accepted that Jesus was granted his surname, Christ, around this time. Christ is Greek for “Messiah,” the fabled Jewish savior was foretold in the Old Testament. Prior to this time, the Jewish vision of the Messiah was a bit more conventional, involving Kingship and leading their armies to victory against the Gentiles.

The early Christians usurped the whole Messianic complex and voted Most Likely to Save. After that, things got sticky. Although there are no reliable historical accounts of the first decades of Christianity, the early Christians had divided into camps based on their favorite apostles by 100 A.D. These various sects had a lot of strange ideas, such as the Gnostics, who claimed that Jesus never died on the cross at all.

When the followers of the peaceful and loving Jesus realized that disagreements existed, they naturally began viciously attacking each other. A period of internecine warfare commenced, with the followers of the Peter Tradition coming out victorious. The surviving entity, known as the Roman Catholic Church, proceeded to spend a couple centuries systematically destroying all opposition, only to be completely screwed a thousand years later when Martin Luther nailed a laundry list of complaints to a church door.

The Mormons believe Jesus made a post-Resurrection visit to the future home of the United States, where he befriended Native Americans and notably didn’t give them smallpox. In later years, the discovery of such alleged artifacts as the Shroud of Turin led some researchers to speculate that Jesus H. Christ (no one knows what the H. stands for) didn’t actually die on the cross (but in a different way than the Gnostics believed it).

According to these theories, Jesus was taken down from the cross still alive and nursed back to health. He then sired a child with Mary Magdalene, who took the kid to France and raised him there. The Knights Templar formed to protect this secret, codenamed “Holy Grail,” and the descendants of Jesus eventually became a line of French kings known as the Merovingians (which would then lead to a neat little inside joke in The Matrix Reloaded).

According to this theory, which is far more convoluted and labyrinthine than the above paragraph might suggest, you can actually meet the living descendent of Jesus today. Unfortunately for residents of George W. Bush’s America, he’s a Frenchman — a guy by the name of Pierre Plantard, who runs a not-so-secret-anymore society and generally sits around quietly waiting for the world to acknowledge him.

As for Jesus himself, word has it that there’s a Second Coming in the works, which would in all likelihood be the precursor to the Apocalypse. The Second Coming is scheduled to take place around the time of Armageddon, the final war that concludes the history of humanity and vanquishes the forces of the Antichrist, the chief general of Satan.

All this talk of a Second Coming has naturally led to many mentally unbalanced people to assume they are it, including (but not limited to) David Koresh, Sun Myung Moon, Marshall Applewhite, The Beatles and John Ashcroft.

To date, none of these figures have successfully walked on water or returned from the dead, so the search, such as it is, goes on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 responses so far

  1. https://www.gaia.com/video/nazca-mummies-following-evidence-jaime-maussan?fullplayer=preview

  2. Here is what is causing the change in weather.
    Our daily wobble.

    https://www.ssec.wisc.edu/data/geo/#/animation?satellite=fy2e&end_datetime=latest&n_images=24&coverage=fd&channel=04&image_quality=gif&anim_method=javascript

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