Monday, March 23, 2009

Putin Attacks Canada, Saves Seals

In a move to clearly inflame Canadian opinion Russian PM Vladimir Putin has banned baby seal infantacide.According to the Polar Conservation Organization:

"Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's usual tough-guy image has a soft spot after all. He condemned the hunting of baby Whitecoat / Harp seals. In a ban on seal hunting coming ?

During a meeting with his cabinet he was quoted saying "This is a bloody business and it clearly should have been banned long ago."

Following protests by environmental groups, many countries have banned the large-scale hunting of Whitecoat /Harp seals.

It is not the first time that Putin showed he has compassion for wildlife and nature. He had a controversial oil pipeline around Siberia's Lake Baikal re-routed in 2006 and was shown on tv with the tiger cub he had been given for his birthday."

Canadians were shocked by this unexpected Russian move, Russia Blog reports the following:

"Sheryl Fink, a researcher for the International Fund for Animal Welfare based in Guelph, Ont, was positively shocked by Putin’s decision. The Russian branch of the organization held rallies in cities across Russia last month, but after years of fruitless campaigning, Mr. Putin's support caught them off guard. "It highlights the fact that Canada is still in the Dark Ages on this issue. It's astounding when even the government of Russia is more willing to listen to its own people than ours is," Ms. Fink said.

Yury Trutnyev, the Russian Minister of Natural Resources, announced a ban on the hunting of all harp seals less than one year old. "This bloody hunting is from now on banned in our country, as in most developed countries. This is an important measure to preserve Russia's biodiversity," he said. The Russian ban effectively ends commercial seal hunting in that country, as most of the market for pelts comes from seals less than a year old, reported The National Post. A quota had previously allowed for the harvesting of up to 35,000 seals in the White Sea, near Russia's border with Finland."

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Treausury International Capital Report or The Lifeboats Are Launched But No One Told the Passengers

While there is a certain catharsis fantasizing about arrest, flagellation, defenestration, and hanging from streetlights the members of the financial elite and their political accomplices who have, after two decades of unrestrained greed and rapacity brought us to our present state, the unfolding crisis takes on new, largely unappreciated dimensions with each passing day.
A good example of this is the story now unfolding in Treasury International Capital report released for January of this year.This shows that after years of influx of foreign capital the U.S. saw a loss of $150 billion.
Julian Delasantellis in AsianTimes Online lays it out:

"The first article I ever wrote for Asia Times Online, (US living on borrowed time - and money" March 28, 2006), introduced readers to the US Treasury's monthly Treasury International Capital (TIC) report, a compendium of how much investment or short-term capital the US receives from foreign sources every month. Back then, the US was quite the popular parking spot for foreign capital, frequently drawing in over $100 billion a month.

That worm has certainly turned; the US in January, the last month data is available, was actually net drained of foreign capital, to the tune of $150 billion. On his blog at the Council of Foreign Relations, economist Brad Setser interpreted the data this way.
Today's TIC January data was a disaster. $150 billion in (net) capital outflows (negative $148.9 billion to be precise) cannot sustain even a $40 billion trade deficit.
Obviously, the concern is that those with still the capital to lend to the US, primarily China, seeing the huge increase in US government demand for borrowed funds with its now huge and ever-burgeoning budget deficits being used to finance the economic crisis recovery programs, will fear that the US dollars they use to buy US debt will depreciate in value, devastating the value of their investments.

Previously, China has tried to give messages that slowly pulling out of its dollar positions was exactly what it wanted to do, but America's cherished habit of ignoring anything that foreigners say to it had it lending a stone-deaf ear to the warnings.

Last week, as detailed on this site with W Joseph Stroupe's three-part series (see Dollar crisis in the making Asia Times Online, March 14-18, 2009) and by Olivia Chung's article on Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's warning to the US to maintain the value of its currency as a matter of national honor, (see Wen puts US honor on the debt line Asia Times Online, March 14, 2009) the message seemed to be being sent as loudly and clearly as possible. Still, the US stockmarket ran true to form - it ignored Wen's warnings, and continued its recent bounce off the lows."

Meanwhile the debate rages on regarding President Obama's NCAA picks and the signigance of possibly impugning the reputation of Special Olympics participants. Indeed, why should we worry knowing the steady hands of Geithner and Sommers are on the wheel and in the till.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Who Represents America in the Mideast?

In what appears to be a major setback to assertion of genuine American self-interest, Charles Freeman, nominee as Chair of the National Intelligence Council, has been forced to withdraw under the preassure of Israeli interests. In a message published by the Wall Street Journal he lays out a rather disturbing but familiar scenario :

"I have concluded that the barrage of libelous distortions of my record would not cease upon my entry into office. The effort to smear me and to destroy my credibility would instead continue. I do not believe the National Intelligence Council could function effectively while its chair was under constant attack by unscrupulous people with a passionate attachment to the views of a political faction in a foreign country. I agreed to chair the NIC to strengthen it and protect it against politicization, not to introduce it to efforts by a special interest group to assert control over it through a protracted political campaign.....

"The libels on me and their easily traceable email trails show conclusively that there is a powerful lobby determined to prevent any view other than its own from being aired, still less to factor in American understanding of trends and events in the Middle East. The tactics of the Israel Lobby plumb the depths of dishonor and indecency and include character assassination, selective misquotation, the willful distortion of the record, the fabrication of falsehoods, and an utter disregard for the truth. The aim of this Lobby is control of the policy process through the exercise of a veto over the appointment of people who dispute the wisdom of its views, the substitution of political correctness for analysis, and the exclusion of any and all options for decision by Americans and our government other than those that it favors."

Monday, March 09, 2009

CNBC Insane Clown Posse

John Stewart nails one of the major media sources of support and general disinformation for Bankster Insane Capitalism in the above video. CNBC is mindblowingly detached from reality even the face of the most dire economic circumstances in American history. A particularly telling episode features the greed-crazed CNBC zombie panel interviewing Nouriel Roubini and Nassem Taleb on the current collapse. I 've seen crackheads with more circumspection and insight.