Archive for June 25, 2009

Gonna go away for a few days and will start blogging again next Wednesday. Thanks for following, and have a good time :)! And if you’re up to it, try to find the coffee bean man … 🙂

coffee bean man


This is bizarre – after you’ve found the guy, it seems so obvious, and you think, ‘why didn’t I see him immediately’?

Scientists apparently have concluded that if you find the guy in the coffee beans in 3 seconds, the right half of your brain is better developed than in most people. If you need between 3 seconds and 1 minute, the right half  of the brain is developed normally. If you find the man in between 1 minute and 3 minutes, then the right half of your brain is functioning slowly and supposedly you’ll need to eat more protein. If you have not found the guy after 3 minutes, the advice is to look for more of this type of exercise to make that part of the brain stronger (and probably take the protein ;)).

And, yes, the man is really there!



Preventing A Taliban Victory

By Pervez Hoodbhoy
Pervez Hoodbhoy’s ZSpace Page

(Dawn, 20 June, 2009) — Now that the army has turned serious, Baitullah Mehsud cannot expect to stroll down Constitution Avenue any time soon, nor hope to sit in the presidency. A few thousand mountain barbarians, even if trained by Al Qaeda’s best, cannot possibly seize power from a modern, well-armed state with 600,000 soldiers. The spectre of Pakistan collapsing in six months – a fear expressed by a senior US military adviser in March – has evaporated.

But there is little cause for elation. Daily terror attacks across the country give abundant proof that religious extremism has streamed down the mountains into the plains. Through abductions, beheadings and suicide bombings, Taliban insurgents are destabilising Pakistan, damaging its economy and spreading despondency.

Look at Islamabad, a city of fear. Machine-gun bunkers are ubiquitous while traffic barely trickles past concrete blocks placed across its super-wide roads. Upscale restaurants, fearing suicide bombers, have removed their signs although they still hope clients will remember. Who will be the next target? Girls’ schools, internet cafes, bookshops, or western clothing stores with mannequins? Or perhaps shops selling toilet paper, underwear, and other un-Islamic goods?

The impact on Pakistan’s women is enormous. Throwing acid, or threatening to do so, has been spectacularly successful in making women embrace modesty. Today there is scarcely a female face visible anywhere in the Frontier province. Men are also changing dress – anxious private employers, government departments and NGOs have advised their male employees in Peshawar and other cities to wear shalwar-kameez rather than trousers. Video shops are being bombed out of business, and many barbers have put “no-shave” notices outside their shops.

If public support were absent, extremist violence could be relatively easy to deal with. But extremism does not lie merely at the fringes. As an example, let us recall that 5,000 people crammed the streets outside Lal Masjid to pray behind the battle-hardened pro-Taliban militant leader, Maulana Abdul Aziz, the day after he was released from prison on the orders of interior minister Rehman Malik.

In the political arena, the extremists have high-profile cheerleaders like Imran Khan, Qazi Hussain Ahmad and Hamid Gul who rush to justify every attack on Pakistan’s people and culture. To them it makes no difference that Baitullah Mehsud proudly admits to the murder of Allama Dr Sarfaraz Ahmad Naeemi, the recent Peshawar mosque bombing, the earlier Wah slaughter and scores of other hideous suicide attacks. Like broken gramophone records, they chant “Amrika, Amrika, Amrika” [Amerika] after every new Taliban atrocity.

Nevertheless, bad as things are, there is a respite. To the relief of those who wish to see Pakistan survive, the army finally moved against the Taliban menace. But, while the state has committed men to battle, it cannot provide them a convincing reason why they must fight.

For now some soldiers have bought into the amazing invention that the Baitullahs and Fazlullahs are India’s secret agents. Others have been told that they are actually fighting a nefarious American-Jewish plot to destabilise Pakistan. They now believe that Pakistan’s mullahs are actually being paid by RAW, Mossad, and the CIA. To inspire revenge, still others are being shown the revolting Taliban-produced videos of Pakistani soldiers being tortured and beheaded.

That the enemy lacks an accurate name typifies the confusion and contradiction within. In official parlance they are called “militants” or “extremists” but never religious extremists. It is astonishing that the semi-literate Fazlullah, on whose head the government has now placed a price, is reverentially referred to as “maulana”. On the other hand there is no hesitation in describing Baloch fighters – who fight for a nationalist cause rather than a religious one – as rebels or terrorists.

A muddled nation can still fight, but not very well and not for too long. Self-deception enormously increases vulnerability. Yet, Pakistan’s current army and political leaders cannot alone be blamed for the confusion; history’s baggage is difficult to dispense with.

To say what really lies at the heart of Pakistan’s problems will require summoning more courage than presently exists. The unmentionable truth – one etched in stone – is that when a state proclaims to have a religious mission, it inevitably privileges those who organise religious life and interpret religious text. It then becomes difficult – perhaps impossible – to challenge those who claim to fight for religious causes. After all, what’s wrong with the Taliban mission to bring the Sharia to Pakistan?

If there was one solid unchallengeable version of the faith, then at least there would be a clear answer to this question. But conflict becomes inevitable once different models and interpretations start competing. Whose version of the Sharia should prevail? Whose jihad is the correct one? Who shall decide? Lacking a central authority – such as a pope or caliph – every individual or group can claim to be in possession of the divine truth. The murder of Dr Naeemi by the Taliban comes from this elementary fact.

For now the Baitullahs, Fazlullahs, Mangal Baghs, and their ilk are on the run. Yet, they could still win some day. Even if killed, others would replace them. So, while currently necessary, military action alone can never be sufficient. Nor will peace come from merely building more roads, schools and hospitals or inventing a new justice system.

Ultimately it is the power of ideas that shall decide between victory and defeat. It is here that Pakistan is weakest and most vulnerable. A gaping philosophical and ideological void has left the door open to demagogues who exploit resource scarcity and bad governance. They use every failing of the state to create an insurrectionary mood and churn out suicide bombers. Only a few Islamic scholars, like Dr Naeemi, have ventured to challenge them.

The long-term defence of Pakistan therefore demands a determined ideological offensive and a decisive break with the past. Nations win wars only if there is a clear rallying slogan and a shared goal.

For this, Pakistan must reinvent itself as a state that is seen to care for its people. Instead of seeking to fix the world’s problems – Kashmir, Afghanistan and Palestine included – it must work to first fix its own.

A nation’s best defence is a loyal citizenry. This can be created only by offering equal rights and opportunities to all regardless of province, language and, most importantly, religion and religious sect. Navigating the way to heaven must be solely an individual’s concern, not that of the state.

[The author teaches at Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad.]

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Who can we bank on, who can we trust, as the crisis sharpens?

By Schechter, Danny
Danny Schechter’s ZSpace Page
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Washington seems tethered at the hip to Wall Street and does it’s bidding.

Can it possibly be true that the Congress can’t walk and chew gum at the same time? This question is prompted by the announcement that financial reform is being pushed back as health care becomes the priority.

This makes me nervous for two reasons. First, it portends a long drawn out legislative battle on health care reform with more time for industry lobbyists and the Congress-persons and Senate persons on their payrolls to compromise away or wreck the change we so deeply need.

Second, it confirms that the lobbyists for financial institutions-the people responsible for the collapse of our economy have been scheming and wrangling to gut the reforms that could stop anther economic breakdown. Reviving this industry without restructuring and re-regulating it just guarantees another disaster down the line.

Bear in mind that that disaster is already underway despite what you may be reading about “green shoots” and signs that a turnaround is coming because unemployment didn’t go down as much as expected-only 500,000 plus a month.

In fact, many observers see a deeper crash still coming with a depression quietly deepening, even if most us cling to our perennial optimism and trust in the change-maker we can believe in.  The Telegraph’s Ambrose Evan-Pritchard, who unfortunately has been more prescient than wrong, whines:

Those of us who still question whether the world has purged its toxins are reduced to the same tiny band of moaning Druids from early 2007, when we shook our heads in disbelief as the carry trade swept Iceland to fresh madness and bankers laughed off sub-prime rot at Bear Stearns. We learned then to thicken our skins with walnut juice, lie down in dark rooms, and dissent from Goldman Sachs.

You may recall Dennis Kucinich asking his colleagues aloud if he was in the Congress of the United States or the “board room of Goldman Sachs” as if the former is a wholly owned subsidiary of the latter. Or perhaps, there was  a merger between the two in the sense that Wall Street may be down but by more means out. It is “clawing back” its influence with a new lobbying surge which is allowing Goldman and the big banks to pay back their TARP Money and get out from under the spectre of new regulations, compensation limits and the like.

The Empire inside the Empire is striking back.

Meanwhile we still live with a fog of misinformation, disinformation and no information. Basic information about monies from the Federal Reserve to Banks and financial institution has not been disclosed. Bear in mind the Banks control the Fed-and free marketers ran the economy, not the government.

Writes Bob Chapman of International Forecaster:

Not one banking or Wall Street executive owned up to what really happened to cause the crisis. They are totally lacking in honesty, integrity and decency. As it now stands we’ll never know the true inside story of what really went on. We have seen no civil or criminal charges against any of these crooks. Not even investigations. Whatever happened to RICO. Over the past 25 years our financial industry has descended into darkness and corruption and the people who caused it are getting away scott free.

Wow, what an indictment! Example: do we really know the purpose or the TARP program that gave money to banks that apparently didn’t need it, but didn’t say no. (The other side of giving loans to borrowers who couldn’t afford them?)

The Ritholtz blog suggests:

It was $700 billion dollar pile of money in search of a justification for its existence.

Most people still look at TARP the wrong way. When trying to discern what the true basis of it was, we eliminated what made no sense whatsoever, and what was left were a few strange ideas. When you eliminate the impossible, what’s left, no matter how improbable, becomes the best explanation.

What was that explanation? In Bailout Nation, we discuss the possibility that The TARP was all a giant ruse, a Hank Paulson engineered scam to cover up the simple fact that CitiGroup (C) was teetering on the brink of implosion. A loan just to Citi alone would have been problematic, went this line of brilliant reasoning, so instead, we gave money to all the big banks.

Oh, that explains it.

Shamus Cooke writes on Global Research: “History will likely show that these bailouts involved the largest transfer of wealth ever – from the working class to that small group of billionaires who own the corporations. This fact is recognized by most people now and is such common knowledge that even the mainstream media feels comfortable discussing it. . . matter-of-factly.

These corporations have also exerted tremendous influence in other realms of politics, working towards destroying Obama’s campaign promises of health care, job creation, civil liberties, the Employee Free Choice Act, peace, etc.

In each case, the promised reform was gutted of its essence, and “compromise” versions of the bills are now being discussed: instead of universal health care, we will likely be universally mandated to purchase health insurance; instead of “job creation” we are told that the stimulus has “saved jobs” (contrary to the evidence); while troops are “drawing down” from Iraq, the war in Afghanistan/Pakistan is being escalated; instead of allowing workers to organize unions easier, a compromise version [of the] ” Employee Free Choice Act, minus card check – seems more politically “pragmatic,” etc.”

At the heart of the crisis is the plight of homeowners who we know were defrauded in large numbers, victims like the Madoff investors. Yet the former are getting reimbursed to some degree, the latter are not. Bills to help them have been killed with Matt Renner on Truthout reporting:

A new analysis from a government watchdog group shows senators who killed off a consumer-friendly change in law aimed at addressing the foreclosure crisis received more money in campaign contributions from the industries their vote aided. Senators who voted against the consumer-friendly amendment received $3.98 million from the financial industry during the 2008 election cycle, while proponents of the bill received $2.65 million.

Could this be more corruption? Of course , but they call it politics as usual. And,  that’s not the worst of it, is that foreclosures are still rising and now affecting non-subprime lenders with little relief in sight.

Back to the banks: I have been reading complex web posts showing how the stress tests of banks were rigged and more may be needed. I have been reading about how the unemployment figures under-count folks out of work with the real numbers probably doubled, with minorities possibly tripled. I have been reading essays arguing that the notion that the government is “saving jobs” is not quantifiable with no statistical back up.

I have been following the campaign to get the Federal Reserve Bank to disclose its showering of money on financial institutions – something it refuses to do.

Who can we trust and bank on? The President wants to give us confidence but seems to be playing a confidence game. The Banks are dissembling when they are not lying. The most trenchant critics – may they be wrong – believe a total collapse is in the offing,

And the rest of us, mostly puzzled and paralyzed, unable to comprehend the severity of the situation, the billions, no make that trillions, gone. How do we make sense of the game playing in State Governments like those in California and New York a caricature of responsibility. The jobs are going and the Banksters are still going for it, sucking up what they can in a race to the bottom.

Who can we trust? Who Can We Bank on? You tell me.

Mediachannel’s News Dissector Danny Schechter is making a film based on his book PLUNDER: Investigating Our Economic Calamity ( Comments to

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F. William Engdahl, Larry Everest, Catherine Lutz and Cynthia Enloe, and Ellen Brown are guests on The Global Research News Hour

Host: Stephen Lendman, June 22-26
– 2009-06-26
Obama’s Financial Reform Proposal: A Stealth Scheme for Global Monetary Control

– by Stephen Lendman – 2009-06-24
Peruvian government forced to repeal Amazon free trade decrees

– by Luis Acre – 2009-06-23
Pentagon reviews war planning strategy

– 2009-06-23
Baitullah Mehsud’s Taliban rival shot dead in Pakistan

– by Isambard Wilkinson – 2009-06-23
Obama Regulatory Reform Plan Officially Establishes Banking Dictatorship

– by Paul Joseph Watson, Steve Watson – 2009-06-23
Official: US, Kyrgyz reach deal on using air base

– 2009-06-23
We have created a monster … banks with access to public funds

– by Ian Macwhirter – 2009-06-23
Document points to alleged military plot against Turkish government

– by Sinan Ikinci – 2009-06-23
“Rules of Disengagement: The Politics and Honor of Military Dissent”

Review of Marjorie Cohn and Kathleen Gilberd’s book
– by Leslie Thatcher – 2009-06-23
Big Brother in Basel: Are We Trading Financial Stability for National Sovereignty?

– by Ellen Brown – 2009-06-23
National Security Adviser General James Jones to Visit Afghanistan, Pakistan, India

– 2009-06-22
Military contractors eye Africa again

– 2009-06-22
VIDEO: Pulling the World Economy Out of Recession

SCO and BRIC Gain Momentum
– 2009-06-22
Who Will Control Iraq’s Oil?

“Who Knows, We Might Have to Start Importing Crude Oil…”
– by Patrick Cockburn – 2009-06-22
What Actually Happened in the Iranian Presidential Election?

A Hard Look at the Numbers
– by Esam Al-Amin – 2009-06-22
Armed vandals ‘killed civilians’ in Tehran

– 2009-06-22
Unemployment crisis grips US states

– by Tom Eley – 2009-06-22
U.S.- Canada Border Security and Military Integration

– by Dana Gabriel – 2009-06-22
Instead of Real Financial Reform, Obama’s Plan capitulates to Wall Street

– by Prof. Michael Hudson – 2009-06-22
“Full Spectrum Dominance: Totalitarian Democracy in the New World Order”

Review of F. William Engdahl’s book
– by Stephen Lendman – 2009-06-22
More than 1 billion people hungry worldwide in 2009

– by Joe Kishore – 2009-06-21
Iran: fear of foreign plotters may be justified

– by Simon Tisdall – 2009-06-21
Iranian leadership feud too close to call

– by Eric Margolis – 2009-06-21
Britain has frozen $1.6 billion in Iranian assets

– 2009-06-21
Iranian Foreign Minister Mottaki says West ‘dramatizing’ riots

– 2009-06-21
Are the Iranian Protests Another US Orchestrated “Color Revolution?”

Is This the Culmination of Two Years of Destabilization?
– by Paul Craig Roberts – 2009-06-21
Iran’s supreme leader sets stage for confrontation

– by Peter Symonds – 2009-06-21
UK Foreign Minister Miliband: “The thesis of conspiracy by foreign powers against Iran is peddled vociferously by the regime”

Propaganda Alert
– by Cem Ertür – 2009-06-21
U.S. Govt. Threatens to Prosecute Waterboarding

– by David Swanson – 2009-06-20
North Korea: “Sanity” at the Brink

– by Michael Parenti – 2009-06-20
The number of starving people in the world has exceeded one billion

– 2009-06-20
Mumia Abu-Jamal: Grave injustice

Open Letter to US Attorney General Holder
– by Cynthia McKinney – 2009-06-20
Towards an Inflationary Depression

A macroeconomic review
– by Bob Chapman – 2009-06-20
Destroying Indigenous Populations

– by Dahr Jamail – 2009-06-20

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Obama’s reform, saying it once again, does not make any major structural changes. The US president’s words are just weasel talk, glossing over the fact that Wall Street is still in control. The regulator, the Federal Reserve, claims not knowing who its trillions of dollars distributed to financial institutions are going to, the Glass Steagall Act that once separated plain vanilla banking from casino capitalism institutions is not being reinstated, and Wall Street tries to pay off debts owed to the government as quickly as it can so it can go back to its ways before the crisis. All in all: business as usual.  A very interesting clip explaining in simple words what was and is going on behind the Wall Street and White House scenes.

Via the REALnews network

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Israeli settlement construction, including “natural growth” makes an advancement of two-state solutionimpossible, and Israel knows that – which is why they continue with the settlments’ expansion. So far they already have annexed 50% of the Westbank; their aim therefore can only be to incorporate the whole of this Palestinian land into Israel and ‘cleanse’ it of its Palestinian population. And the US does what she always does: pay lip service to the rights of the Palestinian people.

Via theREALnews network