Monday, November 29, 2010

We Can Be Heroes

Results of '30 Media Heroes' Voting Announced:
1. Rachel Maddow (MSNBC)

2. Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!)

3. Glenn Greenwald (Salon)

4. Matt Taibbi (Rolling Stone and more)

5. Bill Moyers (formerly PBS)

6. Jon Stewart (The Daily Show)

7. Keith Olbermann (MSNBC)

8. Jeremy Scahill (The Nation)

9. Paul Krugman (New York Times)

10. Stephen Colbert (Colbert Report)

11. Chris Hayes (The Nation, MSNBC)

12. Seymour Hersh (The New Yorker and more)

13. Chris Hedges (The Nation and more)

14. Arianna Huffington (Huffington Post)

15. Jane Hamsher (FireDogLake)

16. Cenk Uygur (The Young Turks)

17. Naomi Klein (The Nation)

18. Dylan Rattigan (MSNBC)

19. Bill Maher (HBO)

20. Frank Rich (New York Times)

21. David Sirota (syndicated columnist)

22. Thom Hartmann (radio)

23. Julian Assange (WikiLeaks)

24. Digby (blogger)

25. Greg Palast (writer)

26. Ed Schultz (MSNBC)

27. Laura Flanders (GRIT TV and more)

28. Allison Kilkenny-Jamie Kilstein (Citizen Radio team)

29. Sam Seder (Huffington Post and more)

30. Jim Hightower (The Nation and more)

VERY HONORABLE MENTIONS: Markos Moulistas, Lawrence O'Donnell, Katrina vandenHeuvel, Eric Boehlert, Bob Herbert, Josh Marshall, Marcy Wheeler, Robert Scheer, Helen Thomas, Dean Baker, Yves Smith, Nick Kristof, Ezra Klein, Atrios, Mike Malloy, Max Blumenthal, Joe Conason


Wikileaks Hypocrisy

Glenn Greenwald - Salon.com
I'd argue that one's views in general of WikiLeaks is shaped primarily by one's views of the legitimacy and justness of those authorities.

John Cole notes an added irony of the furor over this latest disclosure: "I have a hard time getting worked up about it - a government that views none of my personal correspondence as confidential really can’t bitch when this sort of thing happens." Note how quickly the "if-you've-done-nothing-wrong-then-you-have-nothing-to-hide" mentality disappears when it's their privacy and communications being invaded rather than yours.

I'd note an added irony: many of the same people who supported the invasion of Iraq and/or who support the war in Afghanistan, drone strikes and assassination programs -- on the ground that the massive civilians deaths which result are justifiable "collateral damage" -- are those objecting most vehemently to WikiLeaks' disclosure on the ground that it may lead to the death of innocent people. For them, the moral framework suddenly becomes that if an act causes the deaths of any innocent person, that is proof that it is not only unjustifiable but morally repellent regardless of what it achieves. How glaringly selective is their alleged belief in that moral framework.


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Damn Right

BLOGGING THE WIKILEAKS RELEASE:
The cables show the extent of US spying on its allies and the UN; turning a blind eye to corruption and human rights abuse in "client states"; backroom deals with supposedly neutral countries; lobbying for US corporations; and the measures US diplomats take to advance those who have access to them.

This document release reveals the contradictions between the US’s public persona and what it says behind closed doors – and shows that if citizens in a democracy want their governments to reflect their wishes, they should ask to see what’s going on behind the scenes.

Every American schoolchild is taught that George Washington – the country’s first President – could not tell a lie. If the administrations of his successors lived up to the same principle, today’s document flood would be a mere embarrassment. Instead, the US Government has been warning governments -- even the most corrupt -- around the world about the coming leaks and is bracing itself for the exposures.


Friday, November 26, 2010

Monsters Devour Each Other, Then Themselves

Johann Hari: There won't be a bailout for the earth:
Many of us know, in outline, the warm, fuzzy Gaia hypothesis, first outlined by James Lovelock. It claims that the Planet Earth functions, in effect, as a single living organism called Gaia. It regulates its own temperature and chemistry to create a comfortable steady state that can sustain life. So coral reefs produced cloud-seeding chemicals which then protect them from ultraviolet radiation. Rainforests transpire water vapour so generate their own rainfall. This process expands outwards. Life protects life.

Now there is a radically different theory that is gaining adherents, ominously named the Medea hypothesis. The paleontologist Professor Peter Ward is an expert in the great extinctions that have happened in the earth’s past, and he believes there is a common thread between them. With the exception of the meteor strike that happened 65 million years ago, every extinction was caused by living creatures becoming incredibly successful – and then destroying their own habitats. So, for example, 2.3 billion years ago, plant life spread incredibly rapidly, and as it went it inhaled huge amounts of heat-trapping carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This then caused a rapid plunge in temperature that froze the planet and triggered a mass extinction.

Ward believes nature isn’t a nurturing mother like Gaia. No: it is Medea, the figure from Greek mythology who murdered her own children. In this theory, life doesn’t preserve itself. It serially destroys itself. It is a looping doomsday machine. This theory adds a postscript to Darwin’s theory of the survival of the fittest. There is survival of the fittest, until the fittest trash their own habitat, and do not survive at all.

Seems to me this might apply at a financial / political level too - the most powerful can destroy each other, while the disenfranchised are powerless.

Watching The Days Go By

Krugman on The Instability of Moderation:
We used to pity our grandfathers, who lacked both the knowledge and the compassion to fight the Great Depression effectively; now we see ourselves repeating all the old mistakes.

What it all comes down to IMHO is human nature. Whatever the system, people are going to try to game it. And eventually, even if it means infiltrating the government overseers, they are going to succeed.

The only solution is to have a new kind of society, where individuals feel a sense of loyalty and belonging to the community, and do not always act on sheer self-interest. Is that possible?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Interesting...

Remember, FOX are the guys who buried that Cameron 9/11 tape...

Andrew Napolitano, Fox Business Host, Reveals He Is A 9/11 Truther:
Fox Business host Andrew Napolitano revealed on Tuesday that he does not believe the government's account of the 9/11 attacks. Napolitano, who hosts "Freedom Watch" on Fox Business and is frequently seen on Fox News as a legal analyst, told radio host Alex Jones — who is a prominent 9/11 conspiracy theorist —that the attacks "couldn't possibly have been done the way the government told us."

The subject came about when Jones noted that Geraldo Rivera had recently raised questions about the collapse of World Trade Center 7 on Napolitano's Fox Business Show. 9/11 conspiracy theorists have centered on that building's collapse, contending that it was blown up by government forces. Jones asked Napolitano what his opinion about the issue was.

Napolitano replied:

"It's hard for me to believe that it came down by itself...I am gratified to see that people across the board are interested. I think twenty years from now, people will look at 9-11 the way we look at the assassination of JFK today. It couldn't possibly have been done the way the government told us."


No Craic For You!

   Memo to Ireland:  "Tell the EU and the IMF to 'shove it'"      :      Information Clearing House: ICH
Ireland is being asked to cut to social services, slash wages, renegotiate contracts, and dismantle the welfare state so that undercapitalized banks in France and Germany can get their pound of flesh. But, why? They're the ones who bought the bonds. No one put a gun to their head. They knew they could lose money if Irish banks went south. That's the risk they took. "You pays your money, and you takes your chances." Right? That's how capitalism works.

Not any more, it doesn't.


Graveyared Of Empires

The Specter of Defeat Haunts Lisbon by Eric Margolis
The defeat of Soviet armies in Afghanistan in 1989 began the collapse of the Soviet Empire. Could the same fate be in store for the American Raj?


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

We Are All Doomed By Stupidity And Greed

UN issues severe climate warning ahead of summit - Climate Change, Environment - The Independent
All the pledges of the nations which have agreed to cut or limit their emissions of greenhouse gases, when added together, still leave the world far short of what is needed to halt the coming rise in global average temperatures to 2C, generally regarded as the danger threshold, according to the study from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).


Monday, November 22, 2010

Follow The Argies

Ireland should 'do an Argentina' | Dean Baker
What the people of Ireland and every country must realise is that if they agree to play by the bankers' rules, they will lose.


The Art Of Blogging

Like most successful US "left" bloggers, Eschaton shamefully ignores Zionist crimes but when it comes to economics, he's pretty on the ball:
All along there's been a failure to really come to terms with the magnitude of the financial disaster and of the culpability of the Very Serious People in charge. In the beginning it was all the fault of poor minorities who used their immense political power to force banksters to give them loans they couldn't afford, then when the crisis really hit it was just a wee 'liquidity' problem which could be easily solved with a couple trillion dollar gift from the Fed.

And we left the people responsible in charge, because, well, nobody could have predicted, without considering the fact that this is what the people in charge will continue to do because this is what they know how to do.

The powers that be thought the economy would turn itself around and some of these problems would evaporate. But it didn't and they didn't and that light at the end of the tunnel no longer appears to be just around the corner.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Why Do They Hate Us?

The Cost of Humiliation
Loss of possessions is one thing, loss of dignity is quite another. And there exists an inverse relationship between humiliation and pride. Take away a people’s dignity and they will be ever more determined to take revenge in the form that their culture and values dictate when the opportunity comes.


Friday, November 19, 2010

911 MUST READ

Evidence for Informed Trading on the Attacks of September 11 | FPJ
Evidence for Informed Trading on the Attacks of September 11
by Kevin Ryan
November 18, 2010
316Share

Just after September 11th 2001, many governments began investigations into possible insider trading related to the terrorist attacks of that day. Such investigations were initiated by the governments of Belgium, Cyprus, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Monte Carlo, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the United States, and others. Although the investigators were clearly concerned about insider trading, and considerable evidence did exist, none of the investigations resulted in a single indictment. That’s because the people identified as having been involved in the suspicious trades were seen as unlikely to have been associated with those alleged to have committed the 9/11 crimes.

This is an example of the circular logic often used by those who created the official explanations for 9/11. The reasoning goes like this: if we assume that we know who the perpetrators were (i.e. the popular version of “al Qaeda”) and those who were involved in the trades did not appear to be connected to those assumed perpetrators, then insider trading did not occur.

That’s basically what the 9/11 Commission told us. The Commission concluded that “exhaustive investigations” by the SEC and the FBI “uncovered no evidence that anyone with advance knowledge of the attacks profited through securities transactions.” What they meant was that someone did profit through securities transactions but, based on the Commission’s assumptions of guilt, those who profited were not associated with those who were guilty of conducting the attacks. In a footnote, the Commission report acknowledged “highly suspicious trading on its face,” but said that this trading on United Airlines was traced back to “A single U.S.-based institutional investor with no conceivable ties to al Qaeda.”[1]

With respect to insider trading, or what is more technically called informed trading, the Commission report was itself suspect for several reasons. First, the informed trades relating to 9/11 covered far more than just airline company stock. The stocks of financial and reinsurance companies, as well as other financial vehicles, were identified as being associated with suspicious trades. Huge credit card transactions, completed just before the attacks, were also involved. The Commission ultimately tried to frame all of this highly suspicious trading in terms of a series of misunderstandings. However, the possibility that so many leading financial experts were so completely wrong is doubtful at best and, if true, would constitute another unbelievable scenario in the already highly improbable sequence of events represented by the official story of 9/11.

In the last few years, new evidence has come to light on these matters. In 2006 and 2010, financial experts at a number of universities have established new evidence, through statistical analyses, that informed trades did occur with respect to the 9/11 attacks. Additionally, in 2007, the 911 Commission released a memorandum summary of the FBI investigations on which its report was based.[2] A careful review of this memorandum indicates that some of the people who were briefly investigated by the FBI, and then acquitted without due diligence, had links to al Qaeda and to US intelligence agencies. Although the elapsed time between the informed trades and these new confirmations might prevent legal action against the guilty, the facts of the matter can help lead us to the truth about 9/11.

Early signs

Within a week of the attacks, Germany’s stock market regulator, BAWe, began looking into claims of suspicious trading.[3] That same week, Italy’s foreign minister, Antonio Martino, made it clear that he had concerns by issuing this public statement: “I think that there are terrorist states and organisations behind speculation on the international markets.”[4]

Within two weeks of the attacks, CNN reported that regulators were seeing “ever-clearer signs” that someone “manipulated financial markets ahead of the terror attack in the hope of profiting from it.” Belgian Finance Minister, Didier Reynders, said that there were strong suspicions that British markets were used for transactions.[5] The CIA was reported to have asked the British regulators to investigate some of the trades.[6] Unfortunately, the British regulator, The Financial Services Authority, wrote off its investigation by simply clearing “bin Laden and his henchmen of insider trading.”[7]

Conversely, German central bank president, Ernst Welteke, said his bank conducted a study that strongly indicated “terrorism insider trading” associated with 9/11. He stated that his researchers had found “almost irrefutable proof of insider trading.”[8] Welteke suggested that the insider trading occurred not only in shares of companies affected by the attacks, such as airlines and insurance companies, but also in gold and oil. [9]

The extent of the 9/11-related informed trading was unprecedented. An ABC News Consultant, Jonathan Winer, said, “it’s absolutely unprecedented to see cases of insider trading covering the entire world from Japan to the US to North America to Europe.”[10]

By October 2001, the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) and the four other options exchanges in the US had joined forces with the FBI and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to investigate a list of 38 stocks, as well as multiple options and Treasury bonds, that were flagged in relation to potential informed trades. SEC Chairman Harvey Pitt gave testimony to the House Financial Services Committee at the time, saying, “We will do everything in our power to track those people down and bring them to justice.”[11]

Mary Bender, chief regulatory officer at the CBOE, stated “We’ve never really had anything like this, [the option exchanges are] using the same investigative tools as we would in an insider-trading case. The point is to find people who are connected to these heinous crimes.”

The people ultimately found included an unnamed customer of Deutsche Bank Alex. Brown (DBAB). This involved a trade on United Airlines (UAL) stock consisting of a 2,500-contract order that was, for some reason, split into chunks of 500 contracts each and then directed to multiple exchanges around the country simultaneously.[12] When the 9/11 Commission report pointed to a “single U.S.-based institutional investor with no conceivable ties to al Qaeda,” it was referring to either DBAB or its customer in that questionable trade.

Michael Ruppert has since written about DBAB, noting that the company had previously been a financier of The Carlyle Group and also of Brown Brothers Harriman, both of which are companies closely related to the Bush family. Ruppert also noted that Alex. Brown, the company purchased by Deutsche Bank to become DBAB, was managed by A.B. (Buzzy) Krongard, who left the firm in 1998 to join the CIA as counsel to director George Tenet.[13] Krongard had been a consultant to CIA director James Woolsey in the mid 1990s and, on September 11th, he was the Executive Director of the CIA, the third highest position in the agency.

Stock and Treasury bonds traded

In 2002, investigator Kyle Hence wrote about the stocks involved in the SEC’s target list. Those that had the highest examples of trade volume over the average were UAL [285 times over average], Marsh & McLennan (Marsh) [93 times over average], American Airlines (AMR) [60 times over average], and Citigroup [45 times over average].[14] Other stocks flagged included financial firms, defense-related companies, and the reinsurance firms Munich Re, Swiss Re and the AXA Group. Put options for these reinsurance firms, or bets that the stock would drop, were placed at double the normal levels in the few days before the attacks. Regulators were concerned about “large block trades” on these stocks because the three firms were liable for billions in insurance payouts due to the damage inflicted on 9/11.[15]

The four highest-volume suspect stocks — UAL, Marsh, AMR and Citigroup — were closely linked to the attacks of 9/11. The two airline companies each had two planes hijacked and destroyed. Marsh was located in the exact 8 floors out of 110 in the north tower of the WTC where Flight 11 impacted and the fires occurred. Citigroup was the parent of Travelers Insurance, which was expected to see $500 million in claims, and also Salomon Smith Barney, which occupied all but ten floors in World Trade Center (WTC) building 7. Oddly enough, Salomon Smith Barney had both Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney on its advisory board until January 2001.

Marsh occupied a number of floors in the south tower as well. This is where the office of Marsh executive, L. Paul Bremer, was located. Bremer was a former managing director at Kissinger Associates and had just completed leading a national terrorism commission in 2000. The San Francisco Chronicle noted that Bremer was a source of early claims that rich Arabs were financing Osama bin Laden’s terrorist network. In an article on the 9/11 informed trades, the Chronicle reported that “The former chairman of the State Department’s National Commission on Terrorism, L. Paul Bremer, said he obtained classified government analyses early last year of bin Laden’s finances confirming the assistance of affluent Middle Easterners.”[16]

On the day of 9/11, Bremer was interviewed by NBC News and stated that he believed Osama bin Laden was responsible and that possibly Iraq and Iran were involved too, and he called for the most severe military response possible. For unknown reasons, Google removed the interview video from its servers three times, and blocked it once.[17]

The trading of Treasury bonds just before 9/11 was also flagged as being suspicious. Reporters from The Wall street Journal wrote that the “U.S. Secret Service contacted a number of bond traders regarding large purchases of five-year Treasury notes before the attacks, according to people familiar with the probe. The investigators, acting on a tip from traders, are examining whether terrorists, or people affiliated with terrorist organizations, bought five-year notes, including a single $5 billion trade.”[18]

Some reports claimed that the 9/11 informed trades were such that millions of dollars were made, and some of that went unclaimed. [19] Others suggested that the trades resulted in the winning of billions of dollars in profits. One such suggestion was made by the former German Minister of Technology, Andreas von Buelow, who said that the value of the informed trades was on the order of $15 billion.[20]

The FBI Investigations

In May 2007, a 9/11 Commission document that summarized the FBI investigations into potential 9/11-related informed trading was declassified. [21] This document was redacted to remove the names of two FBI agents from the New York office, and to remove the names of select suspects in the informed trading investigations. The names of other FBI agents and suspects were left in. Regardless, some information can be gleaned from the document to help reveal the trades and traders investigated.

On September 21, 2001, the SEC referred two specific transactions to the FBI for criminal investigation as potential informed trades. One of those trades was a September 6, 2001 purchase of 56,000 shares of a company called Stratesec, which in the few years before 9/11 was a security contractor for several of the facilities that were compromised on 9/11. These facilities included the WTC buildings, Dulles airport, where American Airlines Flight 77 took off, and also United Airlines, which owned two of the other three ill-fated planes.

The affected 56,000 shares of Stratesec stock were purchased by a director of the company, Wirt D. Walker III, and his wife Sally Walker. This is clear from the memorandum generated to record the FBI summary of the trades investigated.[22] The Stratesec stock that the Walkers purchased doubled in value in the one trading day between September 11th and when the stock market reopened on September 17th. The Commission memorandum suggests that the trade generated a profit of $50,000 for the Walkers. Unfortunately, the FBI did not interview either of the Walkers and they were both cleared of any wrongdoing because they were said to have “no ties to terrorism or other negative information.” [23]

However, Wirt Walker was connected to people who had connections to al Qaeda. For example, Stratesec director James Abrahamson was the business partner of Mansoor Ijaz, who claimed on several occasions to be able to contact Osama bin Laden.[24] Additionally, Walker hired a number of Stratesec employees away from a subsidiary of The Carlyle Group called BDM International, which ran secret (black) projects for government agencies. The Carlyle Group was partly financed by members of the bin Laden family.[25] Mr. Walker ran a number of suspicious companies that went bankrupt, including Stratesec, some of which were underwritten by a company run by a first cousin of former CIA director (and President) George H.W. Bush. Additionally, Walker was the child of a CIA employee and his first job was at an investment firm run by former US intelligence guru, James “Russ” Forgan, where he worked with another former CIA director, William Casey.[26] Of course, Osama bin Laden had links to the CIA as well.[27]

Another trade investigated by the FBI, on request from the SEC, focused on Amir Ibrahim Elgindy, an Egyptian-born, San Diego stock advisor who on the day before 9/11 had allegedly attempted to liquidate $300,000 in assets through his broker at Salomon Smith Barney. During the attempted liquidation, Elgindy was said to have “predicted that the Dow Jones industrial average, which at the time stood at about 9,600, would soon crash to below 3,000.”[28]

The 9/11 Commission memorandum suggests that the FBI never interviewed Mr. Elgindy either, and had planned to exonerate him because there was “no evidence he was seeking to establish a position whereby he would profit from the terrorist attacks.” Apparently, the prediction of a precipitous drop in the stock market, centered on the events of 9/11, was not sufficient cause for the FBI to interview the suspect.

In late May 2002, Elgindy was arrested along with four others, including an FBI agent and a former FBI agent, and charged with conspiracy to manipulate stock prices and extort money from companies. The FBI agents, Jeffrey A Royer and Lynn Wingate, were said to have “used their access to F.B.I. databases to monitor the progress of the criminal investigation against Mr. Elgindy.”[29] A federal prosecutor later accused Elgindy, who also went by several aliases, of having prior knowledge of the 9/11 attacks. Although the judge in that case did not agree with the prosecutor on the 9/11 informed trading accusation, Mr. Elgindy was eventually convicted, in 2005, of multiple crimes including racketeering, securities fraud, and making false statements.

The Boston office of the FBI investigated stock trades related to two companies. The first was Viisage Technologies, a facial recognition company that stood to benefit from an increase in terrorism legislation. The Viisage purchase, made by a former employee of the Saudi American Bank, “revealed no connection with 9/11.” However, the Saudi American Bank was named in a lawsuit brought by the 9/11 victims’ families due to the bank having — “financed development projects in Sudan benefiting bin Laden in the early 1990s.”[30]

The second company investigated by the Boston FBI office was Wellington Management, a company that allegedly held a large account for Osama bin Laden. The FBI found that Wellington Management maintained an account for “members of the bin Laden family” but dropped the investigation because it could not link this to “Osama, al Qaeda, or terrorism.”[31]

Although the connections to al Qaeda in three of these cases (Walker, the Viisage trader, and Wellington Management) can be seen as circumstantial, the amount of such evidence is considerable. The quality of the FBI investigations, considering the suspects were not even interviewed, was therefore much less than “exhaustive”, as the 9/11 Commission characterized it.

The summary of FBI investigations released by the 9/11 Commission also described how the Commission questioned the FBI about damaged computer hard drives that might have been recovered from the WTC. This questioning was the result of “press reports [contending] that large volumes of suspicious transactions flowed through the computers housed in the WTC on the morning of 9/11 as part of some illicit but ill-defined effort to profit from the attacks.”[32] The Commission came to the conclusion that no such activity occurred because “the assembled agents expressed no knowledge of the reported hard-drive recovery effort” and “everything at the WTC was pulverized to near powder, making it extremely unlikely that any hard-drives survived.”

The truth, however, is that many such hard-drives were recovered from the WTC and were sent to specialist companies to be cleaned and have data recovered. A German company named Convar did a good deal of the recovery work.

In December 2001, Reuters reported that “Convar has recovered information from 32 computers that support assumptions of dirty doomsday dealings.” Richard Wagner, a data retrieval expert at Convar, testified that “There is a suspicion that some people had advance knowledge of the approximate time of the plane crashes in order to move out amounts exceeding $100 million. They thought that the records of their transactions could not be traced after the main frames were destroyed.” Director of Convar, Peter Henschel, said that it was “not only the volume, but the size of the transactions [that] was far higher than usual for a day like that.”[33]

By late December 2001, Convar had completed processing 39 out of 81 drives, and expected to receive 20 more WTC hard drives the next month. Obviously, the 911 Commission memorandum drafted in August 2003 was not particularly reliable considering it reported that the FBI and the 911 Commission had no knowledge of any of this.

Statistical confirmations

Considering that the FBI and 9/11 Commission overlooked the suspicious connections of informed trading suspects like Wirt Walker, and also claimed in 2003 to have no knowledge of hard drive recoveries publicly reported in 2001, we must assume that they did a poor job of investigating. Today, however, we know that several peer-reviewed academic papers have reported solid evidence that informed trades did occur. That is, the conclusions reached by the official investigations have now been shown, through scientific analysis, to be quite wrong.

In 2006, a professor of Finance from the University of Illinois named Allen Poteshman published an analysis of the airline stock option trades preceding the attacks. This study came to the conclusion that an indicator of long put volume was “unusually high which is consistent with informed investors having traded in the option market in advance of the attacks.”[34] Long puts are bets that a stock or option will fall in price.

The unusually high volume of long puts, purchased on UAL and AMR stock before these stocks declined dramatically due to the 9/11 attacks, are evidence that the traders knew that the stocks would decline. Using statistical techniques to evaluate conditional and unconditional distributions of historical stock option activity, Professor Poteshman showed that the data indicate that informed trading did occur.

In January 2010, a team of financial experts from Switzerland published evidence for at least thirteen informed trades in which the investors appeared to have had foreknowledge of the attacks. This study focused again on a limited number of companies but, of those, the informed trades centered on five airline companies and four financial companies. The airline companies were American Airlines, United Airlines and Boeing. Three of the financial companies involved were located in the WTC towers and the fourth was Citigroup, which stood to lose doubly as the parent of both Travelers Insurance and the WTC 7 tenant, Salomon Smith Barney.[35]

More recently, in April 2010, an international team of experts examined trading activities of options on the Standard & Poors 500 index, as well as a volatility index of the CBOE called VIX. These researchers showed that there was a significant abnormal increase in trading volume in the option market just before the 9/11 attacks, and they demonstrated that this was in contrast to the absence of abnormal trading volume over periods long before the attacks. The study also showed that the relevant abnormal increase in trading volume was not simply due to a declining market.[36] Their findings were “consistent with insiders anticipating the 9-11 attacks.”

Conclusion

In the early days just after 9/11, financial regulators around the world gave testimony to unprecedented evidence for informed trading related to the terrorist attacks of that day. One central bank president (Welteke) said there was irrefutable proof of such trading. This evidence led US regulators to vow, in Congressional testimony, to bring those responsible to justice. Those vows were not fulfilled, as the people in charge of the investigations let the suspects off the hook by conducting weak inquiries and concluding that informed trading could not have occurred if it was not done directly by Osama bin Laden or al Qaeda.

The “exhaustive investigations” conducted by the FBI, on which the 9/11 Commission report was based, were clearly bogus. The FBI did not interview the suspects and did not appear to compare notes with the 9/11 Commission to help make a determination if any of the people being investigated might have had ties to al Qaeda. The Commission’s memorandum summary suggests that the FBI simply made decisions on its own regarding the possible connections of the suspects and the alleged terrorist organizations. Those unilateral decisions were not appropriate, as at least three of the suspected informed trades (those of Walker, the Viisage trader, and Wellington Management) involved reasonably suspicious links to Osama bin Laden or his family. Another suspect (Elgindy) was a soon-to-be convicted criminal who had direct links to FBI employees who were later arrested for securities-related crimes.

The FBI also claimed in August 2003 that it had no knowledge of hard drives recovered from the WTC, which were publicly reported in 2001. According to the people who retrieved the associated data, the hard drives gave evidence for “dirty doomsday dealings.”

The evidence for informed trading on 9/11 includes many financial vehicles, from stock options to Treasury bonds to credit card transactions made at the WTC just before it was destroyed. Today we know that financial experts from around the world have provided strong evidence, through established and reliable statistical techniques, that the early expert suspicions were correct, and that 9/11 informed trading did occur.

People knew in advance about the crimes of 9/11, and they profited from that knowledge. Those people are among us today, and our families and communities are at risk of future terrorist attacks and further criminal profiteering if we do not respond to the evidence. It is time for an independent, international investigation into the informed trades and the traders who benefited from the terrorist acts of September 11th.

Notes

[1] National Commission on the Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, The 9/11 Commission Report, July 2004, p 172, and Chapter 5, footnote 130, http://govinfo.library.unt.edu/911/report/911Report.pdf

[2] 9/11 Commission memorandum entitled “FBI Briefing on Trading”, prepared by Doug Greenburg, 18 August 2003, http://media.nara.gov/9-11/MFR/t-0148-911MFR-00269.pdf

[3] Dave Carpenter, Exchange examines odd jump: Before attack: Many put options of hijacked planes’ parent companies purchased , The Associated Press, 18 September 2001, http://911research.wtc7.net/cache/sept11/cjonline_oddjump.html

[4] BBC News, Bin Laden ‘share gains’ probe, 18 September 2001, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/1548118.stm

[5] Tom Bogdanowicz and Brooks Jackson, Probes into ‘suspicious’ trading, CNN, 24 September 2001, http://web.archive.org/web/20011114023845/http://fyi.cnn.com/2001/WORLD/europe/09/24/gen.europe.shortselling/

[6] James Doran, Insider Trading Apparently Based on Foreknowledge of 9/11 Attacks, The London Times, 18 September 2001, http://911research.wtc7.net/cache/sept11/londontimes_insidertrading.html

[7] David Brancaccio, Marketplace Public Radio: News Archives, 17 October 2001, http://marketplace.publicradio.org/shows/2001/10/17_mpp.html

[8] Paul Thompson and The Center for Cooperative Research, Terror Timeline: Year by Year, Day by Day, Minute by Minute: A Comprehensive Chronicle of the Road to 9/11 – and America’s Response, Harper Collins, 2004. Also found at History Commons, Complete 9/11 Timeline, Insider Trading and Other Foreknowledge http://www.historycommons.org/timeline.jsp?timeline=complete_911_timeline&before_9/11=insidertrading

[9] Associated Press, EU Searches for Suspicious Trading , 22 September 2001, http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,34910,00.html

[10] World News Tonight, 20 September 2001

[11] Erin E. Arvedlund, Follow The Money: Terrorist Conspirators Could Have Profited More From Fall Of Entire Market Than Single Stocks, Barron’s (Dow Jones and Company), 6 October 2001

[12] Ibid

[13] Michael C. Ruppert, Crossing the Rubicon: the decline of the American empire at the end of the age of oil, New Society Publishers, 2004

[14] Kyle F. Hence, Massive pre-attack ‘insider trading’ offer authorities hottest trail to accomplices, Centre for Research on Globalisation (CRG), 21 April 2002, http://globalresearch.ca/articles/HEN204B.html

[15] Grant Ringshaw, Profits of doom, The London Telegraph, 23 September 2001, http://911research.wtc7.net/cache/sept11/telegraph_profitsofdoom.html

[16] Christian Berthelsen and Scott Winokur, Suspicious profits sit uncollected: Airline investors seem to be lying low, San Francisco Chronicle, 29 September 2001, http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=%2Fchronicle%2Farchive%2F2001%2F09%2F29%2FMN186128.DTL#ixzz14XPGwh6e

[17] Lewis Paul Bremer III on Washington, DC, NBC4 TV, 11 September 2001, Vehmgericht http://vehme.blogspot.com/2007/08/lewis-paul-bremer-iii-on-washington-dc.html

[18] Charles Gasparino and Gregory Zuckerman, Treasury Bonds Enter Purview of U.S. Inquiry Into Attack Gains, The Wall Street Journal, 2 October 2001, http://s3.amazonaws.com/911timeline/2001/wallstreetjournal100201.html

[19] Christian Berthelsen and Scott Winokur

[20] Tagesspiegel, Former German Cabinet Minister Attacks Official Brainwashing On September 11 Issue Points at “Mad Dog” Zbig and Huntington, 13 January 2002, http://www.ratical.org/ratville/CAH/VonBuelow.html

[21] 9/11 Commission memorandum

[22] The 9/11 Commission memorandum that summarized the FBI investigations refers to the traders involved in the Stratesec purchase. From the references in the document, we can make out that the two people had the same last name and were related. This fits the description of Wirt and Sally Walker, who are known to be stock holders in Stratesec. Additionally, one (Wirt) was a director at the company, a director at a publicly traded company in Oklahoma (Aviation General), and chairman of an investment firm in Washington, DC (Kuwam Corp).

[23] 9/11 Commission memorandum

[24] Sourcewatch, Mansoor Ijaz/Sudan, http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Mansoor_Ijaz/Sudan

[25] History Commons, Complete 911 Timeline, Bin Laden Family, http://www.historycommons.org/timeline.jsp?financing_of_al-qaeda:_a_more_detailed_look=binladenFamily&timeline=complete_911_timeline

[26] Kevin R. Ryan, The History of Wirt Dexter Walker: Russell & Co, the CIA and 9/11, 911blogger.com, 3 September 2010, http://911blogger.com/news/2010-09-03/history-wirt-dexter-walker-russell-company-cia-and-911

[27] Michael Moran, Bin Laden comes home to roost : His CIA ties are only the beginning of a woeful story, MSNBC, 24 August 1998, http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3340101

[28] Alex Berenson, U.S. Suggests, Without Proof, Stock Adviser Knew of 9/11, The New York Times, 25 May 2002, http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9E06E4DB143BF936A15756C0A9649C8B63

[29] Alex Berenson, Five, Including F.B.I. Agents, Are Named In a Conspiracy, The New York Times, 23 May 2002

[30] History Commons, Complete 911 Timeline, Saudi American Bank, http://www.historycommons.org/entity.jsp?entity=saudi_american_bank

[31] 9/11 Commission memorandum

[32] 9/11 Commission memorandum

[33] Erik Kirschbaum, German Firm Probes Final World Trade Center Deals, Reuters, 16 December 2001, http://911research.wtc7.net/cache/sept11/reuters_wtc_drives.html

[34] Allen M. Poteshman, Unusual Option Market Activity and the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001, The Journal of Business, 2006, vol. 79, no. 4, http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/abs/10.1086/503645

[35] Marc Chesney, et al, Detecting Informed Trading Activities in the Options Markets, Social Sciences Research Network, 13 January 2010, http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1522157

[36] Wing-Keung Wong, et al, Was there Abnormal Trading in the S&P 500 Index Options Prior to the September 11 Attacks?, Social Sciences Research Network, April 2010, http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1588523


Follow The Money

Evidence for Informed Trading on the Attacks of September 11 | FPJ
The people ultimately found included an unnamed customer of Deutsche Bank Alex. Brown (DBAB). This involved a trade on United Airlines (UAL) stock consisting of a 2,500-contract order that was, for some reason, split into chunks of 500 contracts each and then directed to multiple exchanges around the country simultaneously.[12] When the 9/11 Commission report pointed to a “single U.S.-based institutional investor with no conceivable ties to al Qaeda,” it was referring to either DBAB or its customer in that questionable trade.

Michael Ruppert has since written about DBAB, noting that the company had previously been a financier of The Carlyle Group and also of Brown Brothers Harriman, both of which are companies closely related to the Bush family. Ruppert also noted that Alex. Brown, the company purchased by Deutsche Bank to become DBAB, was managed by A.B. (Buzzy) Krongard, who left the firm in 1998 to join the CIA as counsel to director George Tenet.[13] Krongard had been a consultant to CIA director James Woolsey in the mid 1990s and, on September 11th, he was the Executive Director of the CIA, the third highest position in the agency.

Stock and Treasury bonds traded

In 2002, investigator Kyle Hence wrote about the stocks involved in the SEC’s target list.  Those that had the highest examples of trade volume over the average were UAL [285 times over average], Marsh & McLennan (Marsh) [93 times over average], American Airlines (AMR) [60 times over average], and Citigroup [45 times over average].[14] Other stocks flagged included financial firms, defense-related companies, and the reinsurance firms Munich Re, Swiss Re and the AXA Group.  Put options for these reinsurance firms, or bets that the stock would drop, were placed at double the normal levels in the few days before the attacks.  Regulators were concerned about “large block trades” on these stocks because the three firms were liable for billions in insurance payouts due to the damage inflicted on 9/11.[15]

The four highest-volume suspect stocks — UAL, Marsh, AMR and Citigroup — were closely linked to the attacks of 9/11.  The two airline companies each had two planes hijacked and destroyed.  Marsh was located in the exact 8 floors out of 110 in the north tower of the WTC where Flight 11 impacted and the fires occurred.  Citigroup was the parent of Travelers Insurance, which was expected to see $500 million in claims, and also Salomon Smith Barney, which occupied all but ten floors in World Trade Center (WTC) building 7.  Oddly enough, Salomon Smith Barney had both Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney on its advisory board until January 2001.

Marsh occupied a number of floors in the south tower as well.  This is where the office of Marsh executive, L. Paul Bremer, was located...


China Puts the Squeeze On USA

"A Few Powerful Men"

America Surrenders, The Collective Will is Broken :
Let me close with a quote from former President, James Garfield.

“Whoever controls the volume of money in any country is absolute master of all industry and commerce... and when you realize that the entire system is very easily controlled, one way or another, by a few powerful men at the top, you will not have to be told how periods of inflation and depression originate.”

1881. President James Garfield - Howard, Milford Wriarson, The American Plutocracy, (New York, Holland Publishing Co. 1895) P. 158

A few weeks after making this statement, Garfield was assassinated (July 2, 1881). The truth can be dangerous.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Yea, The Last Shall Be First

Wilkie to oversee agencies:
In a remarkable turnaround for Andrew Wilkie, who quit his job as an intelligence analyst at Australia's peak intelligence body, the Office of National Assessments, in 2003 following concerns about faulty Iraq war intelligence, the newly elected federal member will be responsible for partly overseeing Australia's six intelligence agencies.

Those agencies include the domestic and international spy agencies, ASIO and ASIS, the three defence intelligence agencies and the ONA.


It's Not Blackmail If You Are A Willing Accomplice

Not one cent for tribute: Obama's embarrassing gift to Israel:
This weekend, the Obama administration promised to turn over $3 billion in stealth fighters to Israel (supplementing the 20 F-35s it will buy with the $2.75 billion in "grants" it gets from Washington) and veto any U.N. resolution that questions Israel's legitimacy -- all in exchange for Israel's pledge to extend a ten-month partial settlement moratorium for another 90 days. This is a bad idea. And it's dangerous.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Green Political Opportunism (ad Nauseum) :-(

Solar power scheme swapped:
"Promise after promise... it should have been up and running last year but it's now been dumped by Minister Robertson with the limp excuse it would have been glary," Mr Seeney said.

"Here's hoping glare won't be an issue with (the solar farm) if and when anything ever happens."

"The Bligh government's solar energy policies are all about generating election campaign headlines not about generating electricity," Mr Seeney said.


The Wages Of Sin Is...?

The Wheel Of Justice Is Slow. Damn Slow.

I wonder how much money lawyers made out of this poor bastard?

Longest-serving Texas death-row inmate dies in cell.


Reaching The Logical Conclusion

Charlie Brooker | The words you read next will be your last ...
The moment I've finished typing this, I'm going to walk out the door and set about strangling every single person on the planet. Starting with you, dear reader. I'm sorry, but it has to be done, for reasons that will become clear in a moment...


Surely Brits Will Not Accept This Outrage?

Guantánamo: security services must be protected, says Ken Clarke | World news | The Guardian
The settlement has stopped the disclosure to the high court of previously secret documents showing that former ministers, including Tony Blair and Jack Straw, were closely involved in the decision-making process that led to suspects being abducted and "rendered" to Guantánamo.


Bush The Dumb, Lazy Plagiarist

Another great reason to check Doonesbury is the daily quotes:
"If we have multiiple, highly skilled Special Operations forces identifying targets for precision-guided munitions, we will need fewer conventional ground forces. That's an important lesson learned from Afghanistan."
— General Tommy Franks, in "American Soldier"

"If we have multiple, highly skilled Special Operations forces identifying targets for precision-guided munitions, we will need fewer conventional ground forces. That's an important lesson learned from Afghanistan."
— George W. Bush, in "Decision Points"


Monday, November 15, 2010

Of Course The Brits Bloody Knew

So why bother buying their silence? Because The Great Charade must continue, whatever the cost! Especially coz the bloody taxpayers are paying for it!
Guantanamo inmates set to receive payouts of up to £1m:
Mr Cameron had made clear that "we need to deal with the totally unsatisfactory situation where for the past few years the reputation of our security services is overshadowed by allegations about their involvement in the treatment of detainees held by other countries".


Investors Back Armageddon

An interesting study, examining the stock market rather than the facts, suggests oil will run out 100 years before new fuels developed:
The researchers analyzed the share prices of 25 oil companies quoted on US, European and Australian stock exchanges, and of 44 alternative energy companies.

They found that the market capitalization, or total value of all stock shares, of traditional oil companies far outstripped that of the alternative energy companies.

That indicated that investors believe oil is going to do well in the near future and occupy a larger share of the energy market than alternative energy, said Malyshkina.


Oz Media Self-censorship

Wikileaks and the Australian Media. | WL Central
We flicked channels - ABC, 7, 9, 10, and SBS - as it dawned on us that the press conference of largest the leak of military information in history - involving documents detailing Australian involvement in the Iraq war - was not going to be broadcast live - anywhere - in Australia on free to air public tv.

It essentially amounted to an effective Australian news media blackout on Wikileaks' live press conference.


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Real Change Begins With Yourself

Science Backs the Meditation-Happiness Factor:
When we learn to become authentically happy and/or content ourselves, even in the midst of reality (even if reality bites), we're often in a better space to turn that happiness outward to others -- family, friends, our community and then maybe our planet at large. Lofty, yes, but what's the alternative? Similarly, can we fight for climate change or another environmental cause without treating each other (family, friends, colleagues) with respect, kindness or even beyond--love? Perhaps, but I don't think we'll get very far.

American Fascism And The Credibility Thing

The first truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in essence, is fascism - ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling power. Among us today a concentration of private power without equal in history is growing.

-- President Franklin Delano Roosevelt

The CIA calls it "A Persistent Emotional Issue". Chris Floyd called it "a thread running through modern American history... a thread of moral corruption, corruption by an idea... the whisper of evil that says: 'The end justifies the means.'"

Floyd was writing about the 1953 murder of Frank Olsen, a Fort Detrick government scientist who knew too much and wanted out. Olsen, who worked on spreading anthrax and other biological weapons, had been witness to secret government experiments with bioweapons, toxins, and mind control drugs. After telling a colleague he had witnessed "horrors" and wanted to leave, Olsen was deemed a danger to US national security. Following standard operation procedure, he was given LSD by a CIA agent, knocked out, and then thrown from a 10th floor hotel window. The police report called it suicide.

Olsen's work was part of the super-secret MK-ULTRA project, a program whose very existence was officially derided as a "conspiracy theory" for many decades.
The published evidence indicates that Project MKULTRA involved the use of many methodologies to manipulate individual mental states and alter brain function, including the surreptitious administration of drugs and other chemicals, sensory deprivation, isolation, and verbal and sexual abuse.

Project MKULTRA was first brought to wide public attention in 1975 by the U.S. Congress, through investigations by the Church Committee, and by a presidential commission known as the Rockefeller Commission. Investigative efforts were hampered by the fact that CIA Director Richard Helms ordered all MKULTRA files destroyed in 1973...
MK-ULTRA was a logical extension of the CIA's Operation Paperclip, a program established to bring Nazi scientists to the USA after WWII (supposedly in order "to deny German scientific knowledge and expertise to the USSR and the UK").

Of course we all know what those horrible German scientists were doing to hapless Jews, Poles and other victims of the Third Reich - history, as they say, is written by the victors. Countless documentaries, novels and Hollywood movies have established the stereotype of the mad Nazi scientist performing horrific experiments on live victims. That's what made them the bad guys. That's what made us better than them. Right?

Wrong.

The New York Times has just published their review of a top secret 600-page report on the USA's repatriation of Nazis following WWII.
The Nazi-hunting report was the brainchild of Mark Richard, a senior Justice Department lawyer. In 1999, he persuaded Attorney General Janet Reno to begin a detailed look at what he saw as a critical piece of history, and he assigned a career prosecutor, Judith Feigin, to the job...

“I spoke to him the week before he died, and he was still trying to get it released,” Ms. Feigin said. “It broke his heart.”

So now the truth is out, or at least another little bit of what's left of the truth after Richard Helms ordered all those MKULTRA files destroyed in 1973. And of course we still know few of the gory details, like the death of Frank Olsen.

But sadly, if you care to discuss this stuff, you will still be accused of peddling "conspiracy theories". People just don't want to know the truth about this kind of thing.

And the truth in this case is that the USA was cavorting with the Nazis before, during and after WWII. George W. Bush's own grandfather, Prescott Bush, was just one of many wealthy US citizens found guilty of trading with the enemy. Powerful US industrialists had urged their government not to even join the Allied cause, because they were making such a tidy profit from their German operations. Even Allen Welsh Dulles, who later became the first head of the CIA, was operating as a Berlin business lawyer through the 1930's.

The truth, if you can handle it, is that Nazi-style Fascism has been a persistent thread running through US history, and right now it arguable exerts more power and influence than ever.

Just look at those anthrax attacks in October 2001, for example, and then look at how poorly the FBI ran their investigation of those attacks, and then look at the flimsy evidence used to posthumously convict another Fort Detrick anthrax scientist, Dr Bruce Ivins. But of course, if you were to suggest that the US government itself was behind those 2001 anthrax attacks, you would be derided as a "conspiracy theorist".

Little wonder, then, that the issue of US Fascism is carefully avoided by anyone who wants to maintain a credible reputation in the English-speaking media. What's that you say? Rumsfeld and Cheney were involved in covering up Dr Olsen's murder? Ho hum. OK, whatever. Lunatic.

The only people who seem to care about this stuff are crazy bloggers...

War Is Never The Answer

This week my 5 year old daughter cam home from school with a red paper poppy pinned to her uniform.

"It's to remember the soldiers," she explained to me.

My heart felt heavy. Our schools still teach children to glorify wars and praise the "sacrifice" of soldiers. Can we ever move beyond war if we do not discard this endless glorification of violence? Of course we should remember these wars, but we should do so with great sorrow, and honour those "sacrifices" by ending all wars, once and for all.

On that note, it was refreshing to read John Quiggin's excellent Belated Remembrance Day post at Crooked Timber:

It is now ninety-two years since the guns fell silent on the Western Front of what was variously called The Great War, the War to End War and, when both of these descriptions were rendered grimly obsolete after 1939, World War I. The commemorations of the end of the war were similarly renamed, from Armistice Day to Remembrance Day.

The Great War cost the lives of 15 million soldiers and civilians, with another 20 million wounded, many maimed for life, by bullets, high explosive and poison gas. Far from being a war to end war, it brought forth the horrors of Nazism and Bolshevism and paved the way for World War II, and for the long series of conflicts that were collectively called the Cold War.

The consequences of the Great War are easy to see, and some are still with us (for example, the last of Germany’s war debt was repaid only a couple of months ago). The causes, on the other hand, are obscure to the point of invisibility. The spark that set off the war was the assassination of an Austrian archduke. At a marginally deeper level, the rush to war reflected simmering disputes between the European state over colonial possessions, economic rivalry and the like.

More fundamentally, though the cause of the War was a belief in war itself. Political and military leaders, along with the mass of the population, believed that countries could, and should, advance their interests through military force...

These days, the idea that war is motivated by a desire to seize the assets of other countries is indignantly disclaimed. But marginally more subtle versions of the same fallacious idea remain influential. The idea that military force provides a way of ‘projecting power’ and thereby enhancing the national interest remains a staple of strategic thinking. In plain words, this means that a country with a strong military can threaten war against others who do not do its bidding.

The temptation to solve problems by military force remains strong. Yet the evidence of the 21st century is just as negative as that of the 20th. The US has already spent a trillion dollars in Iraq and Afghanistan, with little to show for it. The total bill,, will be at least two trillion or about 20 per cent of US GDP. The same money could have saved millions of lives and lifted a billion or more people out of poverty.

On this Remembrance Day, we should honour the sacrifice of all those who died by giving up, once and for all, the belief that war should be part of our national policy.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Great Pic!



From John Pilger's Tony Blair must be prosecuted.


Keeping Up With The Jones Is Dangerous

NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF on Our Banana Republic:
Robert H. Frank of Cornell University, Adam Seth Levine of Vanderbilt University, and Oege Dijk of the European University Institute recently wrote a fascinating paper suggesting that inequality leads to more financial distress. They looked at census data for the 50 states and the 100 most populous counties in America, and found that places where inequality increased the most also endured the greatest surges in bankruptcies.

Here’s their explanation: When inequality rises, the richest rake in their winnings and buy even bigger mansions and fancier cars. Those a notch below then try to catch up, and end up depleting their savings or taking on more debt, making a financial crisis more likely.

Another consequence the scholars found: Rising inequality also led to more divorces, presumably a byproduct of the strains of financial distress. Maybe I’m overly sentimental or romantic, but that pierces me. It’s a reminder that inequality isn’t just an economic issue but also a question of human dignity and happiness.

Mounting evidence suggests that losing a job or a home can rock our identity and savage our self-esteem. Forced moves wrench families from their schools and support networks.

Solving Global Warming and Poverty Simultaneously

Solve global warming while ending global poverty? Yes, it can be done:
Quiggin: a global emissions entitlement could eliminate global poverty
by John Quiggin

The continuing global financial crisis has distracted attention from more fundamental problems facing the world: the seemingly eternal problem of global poverty and the threat of climate change.

The seeming intractability of these problems promotes an attitude of despair and defeatism. In reality, however, the world has the resources to address global poverty and climate change. The impact on living standards in wealthy countries would be barely perceptible.

Political resistance to, and scepticism about, foreign aid has meant that most countries have failed to deliver on commitments to the very modest target of providing 0.7% of their national income in development aid.

For the moment, after Copenhagen, the same is true of climate change. But the reality of climate change has not gone away and will sooner or later be pressing itself on the attention of even the most delusional sceptics. And the longer the delay the more pressing the need will be for an effective global agreement.

The need for a global agreement on climate change will tie the needs of poor and rich countries together. Potentially it could provide the opportunity for a substantial step towards the end of global poverty.

The only sustainable solution to climate change is a “converge and contract” model in which all countries converge to a common target in terms of emissions per person. Those wishing to maintain higher emissions would need to buy permits from holders in countries willing to reduce emissions below the entitlement.

So far discussion of these issues has focused on negotiations between national governments. Adopting a principle of equal entitlements per person could potentially be the basis of a serious step towards the end of global poverty.

It’s worth looking at some numbers to see whether a global emissions entitlement would be significant in relation to the problem of global poverty. To put it another way, if everyone on the planet had an equal claim on rights to carbon emissions, would the value of those claims be enough to lift poor people out of poverty?

Estimates based on a target CO2 concentration of 450 ppm suggest that emissions per person need to be reduced to somewhere between 1.5 and 2.5 tonnes per person. Such a reduction would probably require a carbon price of the order of $US200/tonne of CO2.

This would, for example, raise the price of coal-fired electricity by about 20c/kWh (making it uneconomic in competition with gas or wind) and raise the cost of petrol by about 50c/litre.

With an entitlement of two tonnes per person per year, and a price of $US200/tonne, a person with no net emissions would attract an entitlement worth $400 per year, or $1.10 per day, which is just below the World Bank’s extreme poverty line of $1.25 per day. So, in principle, the provision of a global emissions entitlement would yield enough income to the billion or so people now in extreme poverty out of that state. As well, assuming they could sell half their entitlement, most of the next billion people in poverty (incomes between $1.25 and $2 a day) would be lifted above $2/day.

The cost to purchasers of emissions in middle-income and rich countries would be about $600 billion a year, or 1% of global income.

Of course, this accounting exercise glosses over all kinds of difficulties in implementation. Nevertheless, the orders of magnitude are close enough to suggest that a policy package combining a global emissions entitlement with a commitment to end extreme poverty in the world would be feasible and, for wealthy countries, eminently affordable.

Even more significantly, the recognition of a universal right to CO2 emissions could form the basis of something even more momentous: a recognition that everyone on the planet has a claim on at least some minimal access to our common resources.

The ultimate goal ought to be one in which, everyone, no matter where they happen to be born has access to the basic requirements for a decent life. That doesn’t entail a world government (at least in the sense in which we typically understand the word “government” today) but it does entail a break with ideas based on nation-states as the ultimate focus of sovereignty.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Economics Of Happiness

I love this:
"When people start connecting the dots between climate change, global economic instability and their own personal suffering – stress, loneliness, depression – there is the potential for a movement that will truly change the world."

Watch the trailer:



Or visit the official film website.