Saturday, February 26, 2011

Obama Threatens (Again) Economic Disaster Unless Congress OKs New Spending Plan

Meanwhile, in "the land of the free and the home of the brave", the federal government, or rather, President Obama himself, is threatening the citizens with an economic disaster if his government is forced to shut down without the spending agreement in Congress.

Obama and his underlings (Geithner, his budget director with an unpronounceable name, for example) have been threatening the citizenry with one "catastrophe" after another unless they get what they want, ever since they gained power.

But wait, haven't I seen this kind of behavior somewhere else, recently?

Yes I have. I think Egypt's Hosni Mubarak said it, that Egypt would descend into chaos if he wasn't the president. I think Libya's Muammar Gaddafi said the similar thing.

Oh well. No one in the US pays a bit of attention to this guy any more, and life goes on with Ben Bernank printing like a mad professor that he is, exporting inflation abroad and becoming an accidental revolutionary spreading democracy in northern Africa and Middle East (and Asia next).

From AP:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama says the economic recovery will stall if Congress can't agree on spending cuts and avoid a government shutdown.

The current budget expires next Friday. That means lawmakers must OK a new spending plan before the March 4 deadline to keep much of the government from running out of money and closing. The Republican-run House and Democratic-controlled Senate are bickering over how much to cut.

"For the sake of our people and our economy, we cannot allow gridlock to prevail," Obama said Saturday in his weekly radio and Internet address. "I urge and expect them to find common ground so we can accelerate, not impede, economic growth."

What economic growth?

For this man who has never worked a single honest day in his adult life in the private sector, the government squandering money on useless projects is economic growth.

But no matter. Along with Japan, this country will be the dead last to catch on to the idea that it is the government that is the impediment to economic growth, and to freedom to pursue economic growth.

#Libya Solidarity Protest in San Francisco

Tamerlane's Thoughts blog has pictures of the solidarity protest for Libya, held on 2/26/2011 in San Francisco. The blogger reports that:

It didn't snow today in San Francisco, but it was still quite chilly. Thankfully, the sun was out. The turnout today was about half the size of the Egypt protest, but this had a much more grassroots feel and was less scripted. The professional socialist demonstrators did not make an appearance.

(I guess the professional socialist demonstrators are still busy up in Wisconsin...)

More pictures at the link.

What Is a "Jasmine Revolution" That Chinese Are Talking About?

I suggest they ditch that name unless they are indeed funded by George Soros...

Chinese "pro-democracy" groups are calling for another protests on Sunday in 23 cities in China, reportedly inspired by the revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt, and now Libya.

And they keep mentioning a "Jasmine Revolution".

Huh? What the hell is that?

It turns out that the Tunisian Revolution is referred by some people in the media as the "Jasmine Revolution", just like other color-coded so-called revolutions in places like Georgia, Ukraine funded and coordinated by the foundations of George Soros and the US government, in which "protesters" show up on the streets with mass-produced flags, T-shirts, and slogans all designed nicely and prepared long before the demonstrations.

I'd never heard the name until I heard about protests in China about a week ago, and I've been following Tunisian, Egyptian, and now Libyan uprising since January.

I don't think George Soros' foundations were behind the Tunisian uprising, nor the Egyptian uprising, the Libyan uprising, the Yemeni uprising, the Bahraini uprising, the Vietnamese protests, the North Korean protests. (They may be behind the Wisconsin public union workers, though.)

Note to Chinese protesters: Mention that strange name to Tunisians, and they wouldn't know what you're talking about. If you want to rise up against the regime, ditch the cute nickname that hardly anyone in the wider world would recognize, and just do it, just like Tunisians and Egyptians did, and Libyans are doing.

The Tunisian Revolution is called in Tunisia "the Sidi Bouzid Revolt".

The Egyptian Revolution is widely called "the 25 January Revolution".

In Libya, when they successfully drive out the Gaddafis and their minions, it will likely be called "the 17 February Revolution". Or "#Feb17#Libya Revolution" - giving homage to the power of Twitter.

No Soros, no color.

Unless, of course, this Chinese "uprising" is indeed being funded and supported by Soros and the US government. If not, the protest organizers would be wise to stop using the word "Jasmine".

(Oh wait, maybe it is indeed funded by Soros and/or the US government.. The US ambassador to China, Jon Huntsman, was spotted in the demonstration in Beijing last week. Huffington Post has the video of him outside McDonald's in Beijing.)

(It also fits wonderfully with the Obama admin, where branding and image are everything. Well, I still remember seeing the faces of people in China, almost in ecstasy, as they celebrated the election of Barack Obama as the president of the United States...)

Unanimous UN Security Council Vote on #Libya Sanctions

All 15 Security Council Members voted yes on the sanctions on Libya that include:

  • Freezing of assets for the 6 Gadaffi family members (Aisha, Hannibal, Khamis Muammar, Muammar Mohammed Abu Minyar, Mutassim and Saif al-Islam Gaddafi);

  • Travel ban on the Gaddafi family members, government officials;

  • A ban on selling weapons to the Libyan regime;

  • Referral of the Libyan government officials to the International Criminal Court in the Hague.

The last one, the referral to the International Criminal Court, was reportedly a center of contention among the Security Council members behind the closed doors. But in the end all members agreed to the referral, Al Jazeera reports.

The resolution (UN s/res/1970) also calls for an immediate lifting of restrictions "on all forms of media", although Libyans have no problem doing that themselves.

For more, read the Al Jazeera article here.

The US ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, is still reading from the Obama admin template with her remark "When atrocities are committed against innocents, the international community must act with one voice..", after Hillary and Obama.

With one voice. I have a slight problem here, Ms. Rice. When will the international community act with one voice for atrocities being committed by the US against innocents in Afghanistan and Pakistan, to name a few? You know, the places where the US killer drones have been blasting weddings and funerals? I know I know. Like ... never?

Now It's #Vietnam: Farmers Quietly (but Firmly) Protest in Ho Chi Minh City

They are protesting against the government illegally seizing their lands, demanding their basic rights and freedom, according to Al Jazeera English.

The Communists in Vietnam have ruled unopposed for 35 years.

#North Korea Joins the Countries Demonstrating Against the Repressive Regimes

Hundreds of people crashed with the security forces in the town of Sinuiju in North Korea in a demonstration after one of the vendors was beaten unconscious by the police in the town's market (I assume it's an illegal "black" market). Hello Tunisia...

The "unrest" in North Korea must be make the big neighbor and regime-supporter China very nervous.

Bank runs have been happening in South Korea, though not widely reported in MSM. About the only place in East Asia that people would never dream of rising up against their government despite the government's sheer incompetence and grave injury to the citizens is Japan. Everywhere else, watch out.

From Chosun Ilbo (2/24/2011):

Hundreds of people clashed with security forces in the North Korean town of Sinuiju on the border with China on Friday, a source in the Stalinist country said Wednesday.

The military was deployed to quell the demonstration, leaving some protesters wounded.

The source said police officers cracking down on traders in a market in Sinuiju after the public holidays marking leader Kim Jong-il's birthday beat one of them unconscious. The victim's family protested and many other traders went along to support them.

...The source said while the protest was sparked by the crackdown in the market, it was an eruption of long pent-up discontent.

The regime had promised to dole out special rations to Sinuiju residents ahead of Kim's birthday on Feb. 16 but reportedly failed to keep the promise. People were also angry that the regime was once again trying to interfere with their attempts to earn a living in the market.

Chosun Ilbo also reports (2/23/2011) that there have been pockets of protests in North Korea:

Small pockets of unrest are appearing in North Korea as the repressive regime staggers under international sanctions and the fallout from a botched currency reform, sources say. On Feb. 14, two days before leader Kim Jong-il's birthday, scores of people in Jongju, Yongchon and Sonchon in North Pyongan Province caused a commotion, shouting, "Give us fire [electricity] and rice! "

A North Korean source said people fashioned makeshift megaphones out of newspapers and shouted, "We can't live! Give us fire! Give us rice!" "At first, there were only one or two people, but as time went by more and more came out of their houses and joined in the shouting," the source added.

The State Security Department investigated this incident but failed to identify the people who started the commotion when they met with a wall of silence.

"When such an incident took place in the past, people used to report their neighbors to the security forces, but now they're covering for each other," the source said.

The reason for electricity being diverted from these provinces: Kim Jong Il's Birthday Bash on February 16 in Pyongyang, to light up the night sky.

#Gaddafi's "Voluptuous" Ukrainian Nurse Deserts Him

The end is truly near for the madman of #Libya.

From Wall Street Journal:

KIEV, Ukraine—Embattled Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi is set to be deserted by another close ally after his Ukrainian nurse said she was heading home.

Galyna Kolotnytska, described in a diplomatic cable published by Wikileaks as a "voluptuous blond" who "travel[s] everywhere" with Col. Gadhafi, called her family in Kiev on Friday to say she intends to return to Ukraine, her daughter told daily Segodnya.

"Mom got in touch yesterday. She said she was now in Tripoli," Tetyana Kolotnytska said. "She spoke in a calm voice, asked us not to worry and said she'd soon be home."

According to the cable from September 2009, contacts in Tripoli told U.S. diplomats that Col. Gadhafi "relies heavily" on Ms. Kolotnytska, then 38, as "she alone 'knows his routine.'"

The cable also reported claims from unnamed sources that the eccentric Libyan leader and the nurse, part of a retinue of four Ukrainians, "have a romantic relationship."

Ms. Kolotnytska's daughter said her mother had been in Libya for nine years, originally employed in a hospital before starting work for Col. Gadhafi.

"Other Ukrainian women also work for him as nurses. Mom is one of them," she said. "For some reason, he doesn't trust Libyan women with this matter."

The Mouse That Roared in #Libya, #Egypt, #Tunisia, and ...

from gallery. #Gaddafi's of the world, your days are numbered.

Friday, February 25, 2011

A Woman in #Tripoli: "Today My Sons Are Ready to Go Out. I Tell My Sons You Go Out, I'll Go After You"

From #Feb17 voices at Audioboo.

A woman in Tripoli, #Libya left this voice note:


"We're afraid... Every house is armed only by knives, we have nothing else, but we have God... Today my sons are ready to go out. I tell them you go out, I'll go after you. Women, we will die, but there are still pregnant women, they will give more, more brave men to Libya. Libya deserves this, I am not afraid. I will give all my sons, all my brothers, myself to Libya."

Anti-Gaddafi generals and soldiers cannot reach Tripoli soon enough.

Battle of Tripoli Nears?

Now back in #Libya. Ottawa Citizen reports:

Defecting generals from Gadhafi’s eastern army units said Friday that they’d moved 1,000 troops toward Tripoli, as well as assigned a special unit to hunt down the Libyan leader. Reserve soldiers are also being called up either to defend cities or march on Tripoli.

“We are gathering the reserves and we plan to train them again,” said Gen. Suleiman Mahmoud, who, in 1969, took part in the miliary coup against King Idris that brought Gadhafi to power. Even though the government forces are better equipped, “we will fight them to the last,” he said.

“The people have weapons. They are joining militias. Here is where it counts,” the general said, slapping his chest above his heart.

Go Libyans!

Army Uses Force (Batons and Tasers) Against Protesters in Cairo, #Egypt (Just like Police in US)

Back in Egypt, demonstrators are back in #Tahrir Square, demanding purging of Mubarak loyalists from the government and reminding the new "interim" rulers that they are there to serve the people.

The army officers who moved into the square hid their faces behind the black masks, according to a protester who was in the square. He also says there is no more unity between the people and the army.

Not a good sign, but not the end of the world either. It's all learning experience for both sides, particularly for the people.

On the other hand, maybe I should extend my welcome to the Egyptians: Welcome to the same reality as in the US, where peaceful protesters and ordinary citizens of all ages minding their own business can get beaten up, tasered, or attacked by a high-tech sonic weapon by the police and the national guard. And that's become more of a routine, business as usual for the police in the US in the past 10 years, and acceleratingly so in the past 2 under Obama.

From Al Jazeera (2/26/2011):

The Egyptian army has used force to disperse activists gathered in Cairo’s Tahrir Square to demand the removal of Hosni Mubarak loyalists from the interim cabinet.

Egyptian soldiers fired in the air and used batons in the early hours of Saturday to disperse the crowd, the Reuters news agency reported.

Demonstrators had also gathered in front of the parliament building in Cairo, where police beat protesters and used tasers to suppress the crowds, an Al Jazeera producer in the capital reported.

The people had gathered to celebrate two weeks since the removal of Mubarak from power and remind the country's new rulers of their promise to guard against a "counter-revolution" of the people's power.

Activists urged the military, who had promised there would be "no return to the past" of the Mubarak era, to overhaul the cabinet.

But after midnight, protesters said the military fired in the air, shut off lamp posts and moved in on protesters to force them to leave the square.

"Military police used batons and tasers to hit the protesters," Ahmed Bahgat, one of the protesters, told the Reuters news agency by telephone. "The military is once again using force. But the protesters have not responded."

Protesters left the main centre but many had gathered in surrounding streets, another protester, Mohamed Emad, said.

Witnesses said they saw several protesters fall to the ground but it was not clear if they were wounded or how seriously.

"I am one of thousands of people who stood their ground after the army started dispersing the protesters, shooting live bullets into the air to scare them," Ashraf Omar, a protester, said.

Black masks

The army officers who moved in on protesters in Tahrir, donned black masks to cover their faces to avoid being identified by protesters, Omar said.

Military buses were parked in the square to take in protesters that were caught, Mohamed Aswany, one protester who had decided to stage a sit-in, told Reuters by telephone.

Protesters were heard yelling and shouting as they were chased down side streets to Tahrir.

"It is a cat-and-mouse chase between the army and the people," Omar said. "There is no more unity between the people and the army."

"They were using tasers and sticks to beat us without any control. I thought things would change. I wanted to give the government a chance but there is no hope with this regime," Omar said.

"There is no use.

"I am back on the street. I either live with dignity or I die here."

Protesters say they want the resignation of the government of Ahmed Shafiq, the immediate release of political prisoners and the issuing of a general amnesty.

Richard Russell: What Do You and I Do? Sit on Gold and Silver..

Snippets from Richard Russell's Dow Theory Letters (2/22/2011), at [emphasis is mine]:


President Obama is obsessed with being re-elected. So far, he's done nothing to reduce the US deficit. Will Obama sell the nation "down the river" to get re-elected? Obama has turned the whole problem over to the GOP, which is cute. Will anything at all get done about the deficits? We'll know before 2012 election time.

.......The good old American way is as follows: We can make a fortune in the rising stock market or the precious metals market, fortunes that will tide us over during the coming difficult pay-back years. The other way is that we be invested so successfully that our investments will keep us "in good shape" during the coming deleveraging years.

But there's a problem. Stocks today are not priced to generate profits over the years ahead. Sure, under the auspices of the money-printing Fed, the stock market might continue to rise. But that's a risky bet on the Fed. For many investors it's the only course that makes sense.

There are roughly $2 trillion currently buried in the coffers of US corporations. Because of the many uncertainties that lie ahead, corporations are hoarding their cash. Corporate CEOs don't know what President Obama is planning next in his strategy of making the government "master of everything" while planing to distribute money from the "fat rich to the deserving poor" via taxation.

I've said before that the period of "making money" has essentially come to an end. The new era of "not losing money" or not losing purchasing power has arrived. Another way of putting it is that the era of protecting what we still have has arrived. Inflation, cost of living and rising taxes will all take their turns in eating into the good life that Americans have enjoyed since the end of World War II.

The years since World War II have been characterized by leveraging, borrowing, money creation and debt. Plus the US's great advantage of having a monopoly on the world's reserve currency. Since WW II, the US could print all the money it needed, and the world would accept that money.

I've always said that the dollar was the Achilles Heel of the US economy. Now, nations with low-salaried workers are competing with the high-cost workers of the US. The US insists that it wants a "strong dollar." But a weak dollar better serves the US's interests. A weak dollar helps US exports, and it eases the near-impossible task of servicing the monster debts of the US.

For decades, the rising price of gold has, in effect, devalued the US dollar. Those who hold large quantities of both real and paper gold have kept up with, or even improved, their relative standard of living. Gold is now held by a tiny minority of Americans. More recently, Americans have poured their money into an area that they "understand" and feel comfortable with. That area is the supposed safe-haven area of blue-chip US stocks.

Will the rising stock market serve to preserve the great American dream? The dividend yield on the S&P 500 Composite is now a "micro" 1.80%. This is as low as anything I can remember.

Since World War II, better than half the increase in the S&P Composite has been a function of reinvestment of dividends. But buying stocks today for their dividend yield is a fool's game. The only reason to buy stocks today is that you believe top-quality stocks (i.e. the Dow) will continue to rise and thereby serve as a safe-haven against the predations of the Fed and the US government.

From Ben Bernanke's standpoint, he's seen money-printing and low interest rates send tech stocks through the roof, he's seen money-printing and low interest rates send housing prices to the sky. And now Bernanke is watching and hoping as money-printing and near-zero interest rates send the stock market heavenward. If stocks continue to rocket higher, thinks Ben Bernanke, won't that spill over to housing and consumer confidence? "It has to," concludes Bernanke, who is opening the flood-gates via Qe2 and probably thinking about Qe3 if it's necessary.

In the meantime, the Bernanke-Obama team continues to worry about nonexistent deflation. The main deflation today is in the living standard of the majority of Americans.

And what do you and I do? The best I can come up with is that we sit with our holdings of gold and silver.

FYI, non-confirmation of Dow Jones Transport Index and Dow Jones Industrial Average was right there in January and February for those who subscribe to Dow Theory and think it's still a valid indicator of a trend change in the stock market. When Dow Transport finally made a new high with Dow Industrial Average, that was one day before the market started to go down on a large volume.

(It is a whole lot more scientific or objective, than my personal, unscientific indicator; but both worked very well this time. For more, see my TA blog posts, here and here.)

Plane Chartered by Canadian Government Left #Libya Without Canadians

because they couldn't find any Canadians at the Tripoli airport. ROTFLMAO! (Sorry Canadians, can't help it.)

From BBC News (2/25/2011):

An aircraft sent to rescue Canadian citizens from Libya left Tripoli without any passengers on board, after failing to find any Canadians waiting at the airport.

The majority of the Canadians registered with the embassy in Tripoli had said they wanted to leave.

However, a government source offered no explanation as to why the plane left carrying only the crew.

The source defended Canada's efforts to evacuate its citizens.

Tens of thousands of foreigners have been exiting the country by any means possible following a violent crackdown on protesters by Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Of the 344 Canadians registered with the embassy, 213 have said they want to leave.

The evacuation plan has hit several snags, and Canada has struggled to get charter planes to land in the volatile area to pick up their stranded nationals.

One flight was cancelled after the charter's insurers wouldn't provide cover for the mission.

It is unclear why this plane left empty, but Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Lynn Meahan said that dangerous conditions on the ground played a part.

She explained that the plane could not stay long on the ground, and that there were no other citizens from "like-minded countries" who needed the flight.

Like-minded countries?

AIG's Exposure to Munis and Spectre of QE3 Getting Real

Zero Hedge's Tyler Durden is reading 10-Ks, and in the 10-K of AIG he's found the insurer stuck with the toxic waste again, this time with state and municipal bonds that are rapidly losing value.

Will Ben come to the rescue, like he did in 2008? (Will he have a choice?) (No.)

From Zero Hedge (2/25/2011) [emphasis is original]:

Will AIG Implosion 2.0 Lead To QE 3.0?

There was a time when everyone thought CDOs are perfectly safe. That ended up being a tad incorrect. It resulted in AIG blowing up, recording hundreds of billions in losses and almost taking the rest of the financial world with it, leading ultimately to the first iteration of quantitative easing. A few years thereafter, several blogs and fringe elements suggested that munis are the next major cataclysm and will likely require Fed bail outs (some time before Meredith Whitney came on the public scene with her apocalyptic call). It would be only fitting that the same AIG that blew up the world the first time around, end up being the same company that does so in 2011, and with an instrument that just like back then only an occasional voice warned is a weapon of mass destruction: municipal bonds. AIG dropped over 6% today following some very unpleasasnt disclosures about its muni outlook, and corporate liquidity implications arising therefrom: "American International Group Inc., the bailed-out insurer, said it faces increased risk of losses on its $46.6 billion municipal bond portfolio and that defaults could pressure the company’s liquidity." So how long before we discover that Goldman has been lifting every AIG CDS for the past quarter? And how much longer after that until someone leaks a document that the company's muni strategy was orchestrated by one Joe Cassano?

From the Risk Factors section in the company's just issued 10-K:

The value of our investment portfolio is exposed to the creditworthiness of state and municipal governments. We hold a large portfolio of state and municipal bonds ($46.6 billion at December 31, 2010), primarily in Chartis, and, because of the budget deficits that most states and many municipalities are continuing to incur in the current economic environment, the risks associated with this portfolio have increased. Negative publicity surrounding certain states and municipal issues has negatively affected the value of our portfolio and reduced the liquidity in the state and municipal bond market. Defaults, or the prospect of imminent defaults, by the issuers of state and municipal bonds could cause our portfolio to decline in value and significantly reduce the portfolio’s liquidity, which could also adversely affect AIG Parent’s liquidity if AIG Parent then needed, or was required by its capital maintenance agreements, to provide additional capital support to the insurance subsidiaries holding the affected state and municipal bonds. As with our fixed income security portfolio generally, rising interest rates would also negatively affect the value of our portfolio of state and municipal bonds and could make those instruments more difficult to sell. A decline in the liquidity or market value of these instruments, which are carried at fair value for statutory purposes, could also result in a decline in the Chartis entities’ capital ratios and, in turn, require AIG Parent to provide additional capital to those entities.

Some more gasoline in the fire from Bloomberg:

AIG said that “several” issuers of bonds it holds have been downgraded, amid budget pressures. As of Dec. 31, the company had more than $700 million of state general-obligation bonds from California, which has the lowest Standard & Poor’s credit rating of any U.S. state. It also held more than $200 million in the bonds from Illinois.

Chartis’s portfolio has been reduced to about $36.3 billion, and 99 percent of the municipal holdings are rated A or better, AIG Chief Financial Officer David Herzog said in a conference call today with analysts.

$46.6 billion to $36.3 billion - that's 22% haircut already.

The article continues, and it has a transcript of the earnings call.

For more on this AIG's property and casualty insurance division, Chartis, read the Wiki entry. I have a feeling that AIG's idea of Chartis IPO may be shelved. It's been recently downgraded from A+ to A by Fitch, and the New Zealand earthquake may prove costly to the division, too.

But why would one division of AIG threaten the entire company? It would, when Chartis' investment assets ($89 billion) make up almost one-third of AIG's total investment assets; and Chartis' revenue at almost one-third of AIG's revenue, with $30.7 billion (2009) Net Written Premiums. (See the company's 10-K, wiki.)

I also have a feeling that Congress (House TARP oversight subcommittee, chairman Patrick McHenry, R-NC - a Gen-Xer who started a political career under Karl Rove and George the Lesser) would not want to subpoena Meredith Whitney after all...

Timmy had better dump the AIG shares while there's some profit to take. It looks like he may have a decent chance of buying them back again at a much lower price...

People Saif #Gaddafi Is Following on Twitter

From his Twitter page (!/SaifGaddafi)

Mariah Carey, who sang 4 songs for Gaddafi for $1 million on New Year's Day in 2009; Beyonce did her gig on 2010. (Who was this year's diva?)

Women's Pro Soccer

Ivanka Trump

Rachel Maddow

and 18 others.

#Gaddafi's Wife and Daughter in Vienna, Austria? (UPDATED)

(UPDATE) Starwood Hotels and Resorts left a comment on the post, denying the rumor:

"There are false rumors that members of the Gadhafi family are guests at the Imperial Hotel in Vienna. The rumors are completely untrue but have spread rapidly on the Internet."

I sympathize with the employees at the hotel chain who must be doing the unrewarding job of having to find every single obscure blog and tweet to counter the rumor...

That's the rumor circulating on Twitter. It even has pinpointed the hotel, Hotel Imperial Vienna.

The cheapest room available there today is 323 euro/night (US$444) king room, the most expensive Elizabeth Suite, at 737 euro/night (US$1013).

Hey that's nothing compared to the hotels that the queen of the USSA stays on her vacations; each vacation, all-inclusive, costs well north of $1 million to the US taxpayers. Her most recent vacation in Colorado was at the Sebastian Hotel - the rooms there run from US$605 to well north of $2,000.

Obama Admin Finalizing the Outline of the Plan for #Libya Sanctions in the Near Future..Maybe

O'Bummer is too tired from the party last night, celebrating "Motown sound", and is doing absolutely nothing today except for getting up and eat lunch with Biden, which is so usual for this White House.

Al Jazeera Libya Blog 2/25/11:

9:55pm Washington is finalising sanctions against; the precise plan will be outlined in "the near future" according to Washington spokesperson. "The mechanics of the sanctions have not been finalised".

Titbits from #Libya This Morning - Gaddafi's Plans A-C, Diplomats Defect in India, Serbia Denies Involvement

The Gaddafis' plans, according to the jet-setting, partying son, are as follows... (Hope they get their wish.)

From Al Jazeera Libya Blog 2/25/2011:

12:20pm Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, one of the Libyan leader's sons, has reportedly told CNN-Turk that his family plans to live and die in Libya. The excerpt appeared online ahead of the full broadcast at 11GMT on Friday.

"Plan A is to live and die in Libya, Plan B is to live and die in Libya, Plan C is to live and die in Libya."

Meanwhile, the entire diplomatic corps of the Libyan Embassy in New Delhi, not just the ambassador, have defected, also according to the same Al Jazeera blog.

Serbia denies the involvement of Serbian mercenary pilots in bombing protesters in Benghazi and Tripoli. But it has been selling arms to Libya, which is now suspended.

Speaking of Serbia, the NATO may consider the no-fly zone, but says it takes time and a UN mandate to plan. The NATO has ships and air crafts in the Mediterranean that it could deploy for that purpose. They were very quick to bomb Belgrade for the so-called genocide in Kosovo, dousing the Belgrade residents with depleted uranium...

Thursday, February 24, 2011

CNN's Ben Wedeman from Inside #Libya: Benghazi Celebrates

This is a still shot from CNN's Ben Wedeman's video report from #Benghazi on February 23, 2011. This is just awesome (for lack of more flamboyant word). Click on the photo to go to the Youtube video.

It's almost better that the West and the international organizations like UN have managed to stay out of Libya (not by design but by incompetence) while determined people in Libya take back one city after another, though with immense sacrifice.

I have no doubt that they will reclaim all of their country from Gaddafi and his dwindling but still very deadly followers.

CNN's Ben Wedeman tweeted that storeowners in Benghazi are refusing to take money from journalists, as they are just happy to have them there. Also, "Heard in Benghazi: "Ben Ali of #Tunisia fell on a Friday, Mubarak of #Egypt fell on a Friday, Qaddafi will fall this Friday."

Who's in That Obama's "Council on Jobs and Competitiveness"?

The first meeting of the Presidential Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, created by another Presidential fiat called "executive order" on January 31, 2011, was held today (2/24/2011).

It's more like "Council on how to lose more jobs from America and still keep the big companies profitable and rich investors richer so that we can tell those stupid taxpayers that the economy is improving and if we repeat it long enough these suckers will believe". A joke. Total, joke.

And these CEOs get paid for attending the meetings: transportation expenses and per diem for their attendance, just like any other council, board, whatever, set up by President Obama. Per diem rate for Washington DC in February is $181. From March to June, the rate jumps to $211.

Here's the list of 22 members whom Ms. Hayley Tsukayama of Washington Post calls "some of the top minds and names in the technology industry". Top minds and names, people, remember that:

  • Steve Case, former AOL Time Warner CEO
  • Kenneth I. Chenault, American Express CEO
  • John Doerr, venture capitalist
  • Roger W. Ferguson Jr., President and CEO of TIAA-CREF, former vice chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve
  • Mark Gallogly, head of an investment firm
  • Joseph T. Hansen, United Food and Commercial Workers international president
  • Lewis "Lew" Hay III, chairman and CEO of NextEra Energy Inc.
  • Gary Kelly, CEO of Southwest Airlines
  • Ellen Kullman, CEO of Dupont
  • A.G. Lafley, former chairman of the board and CEO of Procter & Gamble
  • Monica C. Lozano, CEO of Impermedia, LLC
  • Darlene Miller, CEO of Permac Industries
  • Paul S. Otellini, CEO of Intel
  • Richard D. Parsons, former chairman of Time Warner
  • Antonio Perez, CEO of Kodak
  • Penny Pritzker, CEO of Pritzker Realty (and national finance chairwoman for the Obama campaign throughout his 2008 presidential effort)
  • Brian L. Roberts, CEO of Comcast
  • Matt Rose, CEO of Burlington Northern Santa Fe
  • Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook
  • Richard L. Trumka, president, AFL-CIO
  • Laura D. Tyson, former chairwoman of the U.S. President's Council of Economic Advisers
  • Robert Wolf, president and COO of UBS Investment Bank

So.... COO of Facebook and Intel's CEO are the techies? I don't think Comcast or AOL qualifies as "tech" companies any more. And union bosses and bankers are ... top minds?

Let's take a look at some of the unfamiliar names on this list:

John Doerr is not just any venture capitalist, but he is a partner at none other than Kleiner Perkins that has funded, among many others, Google, Amazon, Intuit, Sun Microsystems, and whose partners include former US Veep AlGore of "global warming" fame, and former Secretary of State Collin "Saddam has WMD" Powell.

Mark Gallogly is a managing principal of New York-based private investment firm, Centerbridge Partners, with $5.5 billion total assets. The firm's focus is on leveraged buyout and distressed securities. In September 2010, the firm announced the acquisition of GMAC Commercial Finance. So, my guess is that this guy, who also worked for Blackstone Group, has been selected through his connection with Steven Rattner, Obama's former Car Czar. They seem to inhabit the same circle...

Lewis "Lew" Hay III, chairman and CEO of NextEra Energy Inc: NextEra Energy Inc is a renewable energy company. Obama's usual fantasy that the alternative energy industry will create tons of jobs...

Monica C. Lozano, CEO of Impermedia, LLC: Impermedia, LLC turns out to be a marketing firm whose "multi-channel marketing platforms help connect you with your U.S. Hispanic target audience with print, digital, mobile, events, and more". Ms. Lozano became CEO in April 2010, and she is a board member of Disney, the National Council of La Raza, and a director of Bank of America.

Darlene Miller, CEO of Permac Industries: Permac Industries, based in Minnesota, is a custom precision parts manufacturer. Seems like a sop to small businesses. Ms. Miller purchased the company in 1994.

Richard D. Parsons, former chairman of Time Warner, happens to be the current chairman of Citigroup. He is also a senior advisor at Providence Equity Partners Inc, a private equity firm with $22 billion total assets.

Ms. Penny
Pritzker's family is from Chicago, one of the wealthiest families in America. The Pritzker family's prized possessions include the Hyatt hotel chain, Royal Carribean Cruise, and not-so prized possession of Superior Bank of Chicago, for whose failure the family had to shell out $460 million to avoid punishment for gross mismanagement. Ms. Pritzker received her MBA from Stanford University.

And Robert Wolf, president and COO of UBS, a Swiss bank, is a campaign donor and a golf buddy of Obama.

There are three others, according to the White House's website of the Council, and they are:

Ursula M. Burns, chairman and CEO of Xerox

Eric S. Lander, Director of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard

W. James (Jim) McNerney, Jr., chairman of the board, president and chief executive officer of the Boeing Company

Lastly, lest we forget, the Presidential Council is headed by the august figure of Jeff Immelt, CEO of GE, a real job creator outside the US.

Grand total of 26.

Bright, competitive future for the US, for sure.

(Kodak? AOL? Time Warner? Amex? La Raza? Labor unions? Banksters? Wealthy hedge funds? And this president thinks he will get re-elected. I guess he is right.)

Bob Chapman: US Has Given China "Eminent Domain" Option as Collateral for China's US$ Holdings

In his February 23 newsletter, Bob Chapman (of The International Forecaster) claimed his sources in the US Embassy in Beijing have confirmed to him that the US gave China a written agreement that allows China to exercise "Eminent Domain" to seize assets in the US in case of US government default on its financial obligations; however, the section was dropped from the newsletter sometime after it was posted on the net.

The February 23 newsletter that contained the section about this "Eminent Domain" option for China on Chapman's site has been altered - the newsletter got truncated and it now ends right before the discussion of this secret deal. The summary at the top of the newsletter still refers to it by mentioning "mortgaged to China".

But I printed out last night, before it was apparently altered, and read it.

Here's what it said, and what is no longer in the newsletter posted on his site:

Sources at the United States Embassy in Beijing China have just CONFIRMED to me that the United States of America has tendered to China a written agreement which grants to the People’s Republic of China, an option to exercise Eminent Domain within the USA, as collateral for China’s continued purchase of US Treasury Notes and existing US Currency reserves!

The written agreement was brought to Beijing by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and was formalized and agreed-to during her recent trip to China.

This means that in the event the US Government defaults on its financial obligations to China, the Communist Government of China would be permitted to physically take inside the USA land, buildings, factories, perhaps even entire cities to satisfy the financial obligations of the US government.

Put simply, the feds have now actually mortgaged the physical land and property of all citizens and businesses in the United States. They have given to a foreign power, their Constitutional power to “take” all of our property, as actual collateral for continued Chinese funding of US deficit spending and the continued carrying of US national debt.

This is an unimaginable betrayal of every man, woman and child in the USA. An outrage worthy of violent overthrow.

I am endeavoring to obtain images or copies of the actual document but in the interim, several different sources both in the US and in China have CONFIRMED this to me.

Since the section has been pulled from the newsletter, it must have been some mix-up, a mistake.


#Libya's Gaddafi: "I'm like Queen Elizabeth II"

From Twitpic: Qaddafi the Queen - Designed by Ahmad Sabbagh, calligraphy by @Alazaat @SyntaxDesign #Libya #Gaddafi #Feb17


Sell-Off of Gold, Silver, Oil Is Due to Margin Hike in Oil, Not Because of Gaddafi Being Shot

(There is no such news at Al Jazeera.)

So the likely timeline was:

  1. Oil margins were hiked;

  2. Oil plunged, taking other commodities including gold and silver with it;

  3. Seeing that, equity traders speculated that Gaddafi must have been shot, in their effort to come up with the explanation for the oil drop before they heard about the margin hike;

  4. But the momentum already triggered algo bots to go into "buy buy buy" mode.

They do anything and everything to prop up the stock market. Lies? What lies?

(Gaddafi's shooting alright, his forces are shooting hospital patients dead in Tripoli.)

For the true reason for the sell-off in the commodity space, here's Zero Hedge:

ICE Hikes Oil Margins For Second Time In A Week

And now, for the real reason for the oil plunge: the ICE has just announced it is hiking oil margins for the second time this week, this time increasing both Brent and WTI margins. The new Brent scanning range is 5200 compared to 4850 before, while the Oil WTI 1st month contract is hiked from 600 to 900. We expect the NYMEX will follow suit on its own WTI contract any minute. As usual, we continue to patiently await the Globex to hike margin requirements on the ES. The most recent update of the ICE Brent Scanning range and Tiering can be found here.

Out of Nowhere, Gold Sells Off

Thank you, JP Morgue. Or several hedge funds blowing up, maybe. Or is it the rumor that Gaddafi has been shot?

Obama Busy Selling Out Troubled Homeowners to the Foreclosing Banks

Obama is pushing hard for a $20 billion "settlement" with the TBTF US banks so that these banks will be able to foreclose without inconvenient encumbrances like having to prove the ownership of the notes properly and timely endorsed and transferred. Never mind that almost all mortgages securitized in the last 10 years or so have been improperly transferred or not at all, and foreclosures have been done by entities with no standing to foreclose. Never mind that every single foreclosure-related documents may have been signed by so-called "robo-signers" who simultaneously work for all servicers in all states. And never mind that states and counties have been missing a significant chunk of revenues in recording fees (and it's not just MERS).

From Business Insider (2/23/2011):

The Obama administration wants to push through a massive settlement over mortgage-servicing breakdowns that could force the nation's biggest lenders to shell out more than $20 billion in fines, or to at least fund the same amount in loan modifications for troubled borrowers, the WSJ reports.

According to Reuters, the terms of the proposal, which would obviously require a commitment from the mortgage servicers themselves, have not yet been presented to the banks.

The White House hopes such a deal would allow the foreclosure process to start ramping up again.

Yeah Barry, good job, you've shown your true colors. Always help your biggest supporters. Just don't pretend it is for "working-class homeowners".

Gaddafi's Plane Loaded With Gold and US$ Ready to Depart for Zimbabwe?

From ABC News in Australia:

Leader 'preparing to flee' Libyan bloodshed

A political activist says Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi is readying to flee the country, as violent civil unrest continues and rebels continue to take power of towns close to the capital Tripoli.

..... London-based Libyan political activist, Guma el-Gamaty, has told the ABC's Lateline that "quite reliable sources" believe Mr Gaddafi is readying to flee his country.

"Gaddifi's own private plane is loaded with gold bullion and lots of hard currency, mainly dollars, and is preparing to flee to Zimbabwe to stay there with his friend Robert Mugabe," he said.

"We think this could happen very shortly because the Security Council is threatening to impose a no-fly zone and we think that Gaddafi will try to escape before this no-fly zone is imposed, possibly by tomorrow.

The article also mentions a few speculations on how Gaddafi would end - escape, suicide, arrest. Whichever it may be, Libyans, get your gold and money back.

Libya has (or had) 143.8 tonnes of gold reserves as of December 2010, the second largest in Africa (the largest being Algeria at 173.6 tonnes)

BTW, the Swiss government has announced that they will freeze Gaddafi's assets. So that must mean the assets have been safely moved out of Switzerland, just like the case of Mubarak.

#Libya's Gaddafi's Fresh Attacks on Libyans

now that the so-called West has proven totally incompetent, only cares about speaking "in one voice" (whatever), practically giving Gaddafi a go-ahead.

This coward madman has even had the daughters of his former aide kidnapped, after their father defected and spoke against him on TV.

It's an all-out war, lopsided in firepower (heavily in favor of the madman and his family, thanks to the so-called "democratic" West) and in support (heavily against the madman and his family, at least in Libya).

From Al Jazeera Libya Blog for 2/24/2011:

3:24pm There are multiple reports of gun battles taking place between security forces and protesters in the town of Az Zawiyah, 50 km west of Tripoli, on Thursday. Reuters reports that gun fire has broken out there, while sources tell Al Jazeera that the army attacked the town this morning, firing shots at protesters for roughly four hours.

The death tolls vary greatly - from 16 to 100, and Reuters is unable to confirm any numbers. The agency reports that the army attacked the Souq Mosque where protesters had been camped out for several days:

The soldiers opened fire with automatic weapons and hit the mosque's minaret with fire from an anti-aircraft gun, he said. Some of the young men among the protesters, who were inside the mosque and in a nearby lot, had hunting rifles for protection.

The witness said that earlier in the day, a Gaddafi "envoy" had come to Az Zawiyah and told the protesters in the mosque to leave or "you will see a massacre". He also said, "Those who attacked us are not the mercenaries, they are the sons of our country".

1:23pm Several reported dead in the latest attack on Misurata, Reuters reports.

12:30pm Gaddafi's forces have reportedly kidnapped two daughters of the Libyan leader's former aide, Noura al-Masmari, after he spoke on Al Jazeera yesterday. They were allegedly forced to denouce their father on Libya's state TV. His lawyer told the AFP agency:

Two of Mr al-Masmari's daughters have just been abducted by men working for Mr Gaddafi - and forcibly taken to the television [station] to deny their father's statements. They are still in the hands of Muammar Gaddafi's men, which shows there's a will for reprisals.

11:30am Seven reported killed and 40 injured by "Gaddafi Brigade" in Az Zawiyah

UK's PM David Cameron Speaks Up on #Libya, Sort Of...

like...a bewildered boy asking Gaddafi "What'cha doing.....?"

He's killing people, haven't you noticed, David?

It's just too lame to comment further, but let me just point out that Cameron seems to speak from the same template that the so-called leaders of the West use, filled with words like "unacceptable", "must stop", "full range of options", "consequences" (without specifying those options and consequences, of course).

From Al Jazeera Libya Blog for 2/24/2011:

11:55am In a Q&A session with Al Jazeera and YouTube, British Prime Minister David Cameron threatens Libya with "consequences":

What Libyan authorities are doing is completely unacceptable - it must stop. I back what President Obama said about this - these actions must have consequences ... We should look at our full range of options.

All of our minds are focused on Libya. What we've seen is unacceptable. It must stop - and if it doesn't there will be consequences.

Question: If you could ask any world leader anything, what would it be?

My question would be to Colonel Gadaffi right now: What on earth are you doing? Your people deserve democracy, your people deserve better.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Robert Fisk: Tripoli - A City in the Shadow of Death

Robert Fisk's latest on #Libya is a bleak, sober read. It depicts Tripoli, one of the last remaining hold of the mad Gaddafis, slowly but surely wilting:

Tripoli: a city in the shadow of death (2/24/2011)

Gunfire in the suburbs – and fear, hunger and rumour in the capital Thousands race for last tickets out of a city sinking into anarchy

Up to 15,000 men, women and children besieged Tripoli's international airport last night, shouting and screaming for seats on the few airliners still prepared to fly to Muammar Gaddafi's rump state, paying Libyan police bribe after bribe to reach the ticket desks in a rain-soaked mob of hungry, desperate families. Many were trampled as Libyan security men savagely beat those who pushed their way to the front.

Among them were Gaddafi's fellow Arabs, thousands of them Egyptians, some of whom had been living at the airport for two days without food or sanitation. The place stank of faeces and urine and fear. Yet a 45-minute visit into the city for a new airline ticket to another destination is the only chance to see Gaddafi's capital if you are a "dog" of the international press.

There was little sign of opposition to the Great Leader. Squads of young men with Kalashnikov rifles stood on the side roads next to barricades of upturned chairs and wooden doors. But these were pro-Gaddafi vigilantes – a faint echo of the armed Egyptian "neighbourhood guard" I saw in Cairo a month ago – and had pinned photographs of their leader's infamous Green Book to their checkpoint signs.

There is little food in Tripoli, and over the city there fell a blanket of drab, sullen rain. It guttered onto an empty Green Square and down the Italianate streets of the old capital of Tripolitania. But there were no tanks, no armoured personnel carriers, no soldiers, not a fighter plane in the air; just a few police and elderly men and women walking the pavements – a numbed populous. Sadly for the West and for the people of the free city of Benghazi, Libya's capital appeared as quiet as any dictator would wish.

But this is an illusion. Petrol and food prices have trebled; entire towns outside Tripoli have been torn apart by fighting between pro- and anti-Gaddafi forces. In the suburbs of the city, especially in the Noufreen district, militias fought for 24 hours on Sunday with machine guns and pistols, a battle the Gadaffi forces won. In the end, the exodus of expatriates will do far more than street warfare to bring down the regime.

Read the whole article at the link.

Over 2,000 Killed in Benghazi Alone

Jerusalem Post reports, citing AFP (2/23/2011):

A French doctor working in Libya's eastern city of Benghazi told Le Point Magazine that over 2,000 people were killed in that city alone in the past days of fighting, AFP reported.

"From Tobruk to Darna, they carried out a real massacre... In total, I think there are more than 2,000 deaths," he said.

The 60-year-old anesthetist who has been living in the Libyan city for over a year, said that one the first day of fighting in Benghazi, "out ambulances counted 75 bodies...200 on the second [day], then more than 500." On the third day, he added, "I ran out of morphine and medications."

He told the French magazine that forces attacking protesters "included police and the army but also mercenaries from Chad and Niger."

So the earlier report of over 10,000 killed in Libya (see my post) may not be an exaggeration...

Hillary's Cold Stare at Obama as He Stresses the Need to "Speak With One Voice" on #Libya

Great shot posted on Al Jazeera Libya Blog for 2/24/11. (Obama looks half asleep. Maybe he was...)

CEBO Offered by CBOE - CDS for the Rest of Us!

Chicago Board of Options Exchange (CBOE) will introduce Credit Event Binary Options (CEBOs) so the retail investor can bet on the solvency of select companies.

As the name indicates, CEBO has only two outcomes: either the company goes bankrupt, or not. If the former happens, you will be rewarded with $1000 per contract. If not, you lose your money. A premium of 11 cents means 11% chance of bankruptcy sometime during the option's life. If a bankruptcy happens, a contract settles for $1. With a multiplier of 1000, the investor will receive $1000 per contract.

For basket CEBOs, the residual value is calculated at 40 cents, as opposed to zero in the case of single-name CEBOs.

Position limit is 5000 contracts for single name CEBOs, and 50000 contracts for basket CEBOs.

CEBOs were launched in 2007, but CBOE has simplified the terms of payout so that the only credit event that triggers a payout is bankruptcy.

Starting Tuesday March 8, 2011, the retail investor can buy CEBOs on the following 10 companies:

  • AK Steel Holding Corporation
  • Advanced Micro Devices, Inc.
  • Arvinmeritor, Inc.
  • American Axle & Manufacturing Holdings, Inc.
  • Hovnanian Enterprises, Inc.
  • Huntsman Corporation
  • MBIA Inc.
  • The PMI Group, Inc.
  • Smithfield Foods, Inc.
  • Tenet Healthcare Corporation

CEBOs for AK Steel and AMD will be available on March 8, and the rest will be available on March 9.

For more, go to the Zero Hedge article, or CBOE's press release. The CBOE's web site for CEBOs is here.

(I want a CEBO for the US government debt.)

Obama Has Nothing to Say, But He Sure Can Party

After the usual, light schedule, it will be PARTY TIME tomorrow!

(2 more years of this is just too long...)

Obama's Thursday 2/24/2011 schedule, released by the White House:

9:30 am
The President receives the Presidential Daily Briefing
Oval Office
Closed Press
10:00 am
The President meets with senior advisors
Oval Office
Closed Press
1:45 pm
The President holds a meeting with the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness
Eisenhower Executive Office Building, Room 430
Pool Spray at the Top
Pre-set 12:45PM – Final Gather at 1:15PM – North Doors of the Palm Room
3:00 pm
The President meets with Secretary of the Treasury Geithner
Oval Office
Closed Press
7:15 pm
The President and the First Lady host music legends and contemporary major artists for “The Motown Sound: In Performance at the White House”; the Vice President and Dr. Biden will also attend
East Room
Pooled Press

Obama Has Nothing to Say About #Libya Because He Is Busy "Community Organzing" for Wisconsin for Public Unions

ALF-CIO's boss Richard Trumka says he's "at the White House a couple of times a week...two or three times a week", and that he has "conversations everyday with someone in the White House or in the administration. Everyday." The remarks were supposedly taped on February 18, 2011.

Sure, he doesn't say he's talking with Obama himself. So? He's probably talking with his handler, Valerie "Slum lord" Jarrett.

O'Bummer is too busy organizing public union workers to demonstrate against taxpayers. Roughly the equivalent of Libya's Gaddafis organizing thugs against citizens who oppose their policies...

(Is it Constitutional for a sitting president to do the "community organizing" in a particular state, favoring one side against the other? Nah.. who cares about Constitution?)

Obama: "...Speak With One Voice..." on #Libya

(Oh brother...)

As I fully expected, Obama simply follows the template of "speak with one voice" (Hillary, Ban Ki Moon - see my previous post), and wastes everyone's time and his own breath in uttering these empty words:

From the White House Blog:

THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon, everybody. Secretary Clinton and I just concluded a meeting that focused on the ongoing situation in Libya. Over the last few days, my national security team has been working around the clock to monitor the situation there and to coordinate with our international partners about a way forward.

First, we are doing everything we can to protect American citizens. That is my highest priority. In Libya, we've urged our people to leave the country and the State Department is assisting those in need of support. Meanwhile, I think all Americans should give thanks to the heroic work that's being done by our foreign service officers and the men and women serving in our embassies and consulates around the world. They represent the very best of our country and its values.

Now, throughout this period of unrest and upheaval across the region the United States has maintained a set of core principles which guide our approach. These principles apply to the situation in Libya. As I said last week, we strongly condemn the use of violence in Libya.

The American people extend our deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of all who’ve been killed and injured. The suffering and bloodshed is outrageous and it is unacceptable. So are threats and orders to shoot peaceful protesters and further punish the people of Libya. These actions violate international norms and every standard of common decency. This violence must stop.

The United States also strongly supports the universal rights of the Libyan people. That includes the rights of peaceful assembly, free speech, and the ability of the Libyan people to determine their own destiny. These are human rights. They are not negotiable. They must be respected in every country. And they cannot be denied through violence or suppression.

In a volatile situation like this one, it is imperative that the nations and peoples of the world speak with one voice, and that has been our focus. Yesterday a unanimous U.N. Security Council sent a clear message that it condemns the violence in Libya, supports accountability for the perpetrators, and stands with the Libyan people.

This same message, by the way, has been delivered by the European Union, the Arab League, the African Union, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, and many individual nations. North and south, east and west, voices are being raised together to oppose suppression and support the rights of the Libyan people.

I’ve also asked my administration to prepare the full range of options that we have to respond to this crisis. This includes those actions we may take and those we will coordinate with our allies and partners, or those that we’ll carry out through multilateral institutions.

Like all governments, the Libyan government has a responsibility to refrain from violence, to allow humanitarian assistance to reach those in need, and to respect the rights of its people. It must be held accountable for its failure to meet those responsibilities, and face the cost of continued violations of human rights.

This is not simply a concern of the United States. The entire world is watching, and we will coordinate our assistance and accountability measures with the international community. To that end, Secretary Clinton and I have asked Bill Burns, our Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, to make several stops in Europe and the region to intensify our consultations with allies and partners about the situation in Libya.

I’ve also asked Secretary Clinton to travel to Geneva on Monday, where a number of foreign ministers will convene for a session of the Human Rights Council. There she’ll hold consultations with her counterparts on events throughout the region and continue to ensure that we join with the international community to speak with one voice to the government and the people of Libya.

And even as we are focused on the urgent situation in Libya, let me just say that our efforts continue to address the events taking place elsewhere, including how the international community can most effectively support the peaceful transition to democracy in both Tunisia and in Egypt.

So let me be clear. The change that is taking place across the region is being driven by the people of the region. This change doesn’t represent the work of the United States or any foreign power. It represents the aspirations of people who are seeking a better life.

As one Libyan said, “We just want to be able to live like human beings.” We just want to be able to live like human beings. It is the most basic of aspirations that is driving this change. And throughout this time of transition, the United States will continue to stand up for freedom, stand up for justice, and stand up for the dignity of all people.

Thank you very much.

Some Incredible Snippets from So-Called World Leaders on #Libya

From Al Jazeera Libya Live Blog for 2/23/2011:

"UN head, Ban Ki-Moon, makes a statement on Libya, saying the international community needs to speak with one voice"

[Hmmm, the community, sans so-called "leaders", has been speaking pretty much with "one voice" (=down with Gaddafi) for quite some time now...]

"[The same UN leader] welcomed moves by the UN Human Rights Council to set up a "possible international inquiry into events in Libya.""

[Possible? Inquiry? No kidding..]

Antonio Patriota, Brazil's foreign minister, expressed great concern about the situation in Libya, but added that it was "a positive thing" that there has not yet been any violence directed at foreigners in the country.

[Positive? No kiddin'...]

""We have joined with the international community to speak with one voice," Hillary Clinton said"

[Wait, UN Sec General said we're yet to speak with one voice. You got the wording right, Hillary, but wrong tense; you should have said "we may be joining ..... anywhere from a few days to a few months from now....or maybe a few years from now..."]

"PJ Crowley, the US state department spokesperson, says the country is looking at using "a full range of tools," including possible sanctions"

[Sanctions? No kiddin', PJ...]

"Libya's deputy foreign minister, Khaled Khaim, told EU ambassadors in Tripoli that Al-Qaeda had set up an Islamic emirate in Derna, led by a former US prisoner at Guantanamo Bay named Abdelkarim al-Hasadi."

[Al-Quaeda did it! Now they're talking like a true ally of the US.]

As the World Burns, Obama Is Worried About Gay Marriage

(Do I need to comment further?)

From AP:

WASHINGTON – The White House says President Barack Obama is "grappling" with his personal views on gay marriage even as he's ordered the Justice Department to stop defending the constitutionality of a law that bans it.

The Justice Department announced Wednesday that, at Obama's direction, it would not defend the Defense of Marriage Act in a court case where it's being challenged.

Spokesman Jay Carney said Obama has always opposed the Defense of Marriage Act as "unnecessary and unfair." But Carney said there's no change to how Obama views gay marriage itself.

Obama said in January that he is still wrestling with whether gay couples should have the right to marry. He said his feelings on the issue continue to evolve but he still believes in allowing strong civil unions.

And this new, "deer in the headlight" mouthpiece says Obama is not commenting on Libya due to a "scheduling issue".

Al Arabiya: #Libya's Death Toll Over 10,000

And even the Italian government, who's been cozy with Gaddafi in the past and whose CDS on sovereign debt is skyrocketing, is finally speaking against him.

(O 'Bama, where are you? Haven't you figured out how to spin Libya into your re-election campaign yet? Like - "I've been on top of this for two years"?)

From ANSAmed quoting Al Arabiya:

(ANSAmed)- ROME - There are at least 10,000 dead and 50,000 wounded in Libya, according to reports by Al Arabiya on Twitter quoting a member of the International Criminal Court. The death toll was reportd by the Libyan member of the ICC, Sayed al Shanuka, who was interviewed from Paris. The official figures provided by the Libyan government yesterday indicated 300 dead, while this morning Italian foreign minister Franco Frattini stated that he believed more in the death of ''more than 1,000 innocents".

After last night's speech on television by Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, who stated that "I will resist until my death", tension emerged today in Libya while foreigners flee and power supplies to Europe are being shut down. The government still controls Tripoli, but has now lost Cyrenaica. This morning Italian foreign minister Franco Frattini mentioned ''civil war'' between ''death units and squads'' and accused Gaddafi of ''horrible bloodshed'', asking him to stop. Even the Italian government, which the opposition accused of not having spoken about Gaddafi's repression, is now attacking the Libyan leader.

Frattini added that, in its relations with Libya, in the past Italy ''did what it needed to do'', but ''there is a limit and in light of what is happening we cannot but make our voice heard". MALTA SOURCES, AISHA GADDAFI ON REJECTED AIRCRAFT - Aisha Gheddafi, daughter of the Libyan leader, was among the 14 people on board a Libyan airplane that was prevented from landing in Malta today. The report was made by sources close to the Maltese government.(ANSAmed).

Nomura Says Oil May Go to $220 if (Only) Libya and Algeria Cut Output

With half of Libya's daily output is now off-line, and with some commotion in Saudi Arabia (the world 2nd largest producer) not to mention already tense Algeria, Nomura could prove right..

From Zero Hedge [emphasis is original]:

Waiting for a Saudi revolution before buying those $200 oil calls? It may be time to reevaluate: according to Nomura a halt in just Libyan and Algerian oil production (far more likely than the crisis spilling over to Saudi) would send oil to over $220/bbl. Specifically "the closest comparison to the current MENA unrest is the 1990-91 Gulf War. If Libya and Algeria were to halt oil production together, prices could peak above US$220/bbl and OPEC spare capacity will be reduced to 2.1mmbbl/d, similar to levels seen during the Gulf war and when prices hit US$147/bbl in 2008." Wouldn't a doubling in price lead to a major demand plunge as well? Yes it would "This could also result in a temporary demand destruction of some 2.0mmbbl/d globally." Also, since the Fed's free money was not flooding global market last time, $220 is just a lowball estimate: "We could be underestimating this as speculative activities were largely not present in 1990-91."

More observations from Nomura's Michael Lo:

  • In order to estimate the impact the current MENA crisis could have on oil supply and prices, we analysed past crises that rocked the region. There have been a few events that drove oil prices higher (from 30% to 130% per event), most of which were during the period in which OPEC controlled oil prices. However, we believe the closest comparison is the 1990-91 Gulf War as this is the only event outside of that period. During the seven months of Gulf War, prices jumped 130% as OPEC spare capacity was reduced to 1.8mmbbl/d while demand came off briefly by 1.7%. Similarly, today, if Libya and Algeria were to halt operations, OPEC spare capacity will also likely be drawn down to 2.1mmbbl/d, in our view, which could fuel higher oil prices.

  • We have identified three distinct stages of the Gulf war which led to changes in oil prices and we believe we are only at the initial stage of the three stage process for the current MENA unrest. During the initial stage of the Gulf war, prices moved up by 21%. This is comparable to what we have seen recently when oil price went up by 13% since the beginning of the MENA unrest. As we see further evidence of real supply disruption, we will be moving into Stage 2 of the event – during this stage of the Gulf war, prices moved to its peak (up 130%) within a period of two months. On the assumption that prices will move up by the same amount, we could see US$220/bbl should both Libya and Algeria halt their oil production. We could be underestimating this as speculative activities were largely not present in 1990-91.

  • Open interest in WTI futures contracts has risen 2.4% since the beginning of the MENA crisis in January this year. On the other hand, open interest in Brent future contracts has fallen 7.6% during the same period. This was primarily on back of the large WTI-Brent differential during the period, as WTI crude prices are being suppressed by Cushing storage and infrastructure issues while Brent crude price was lifted by supply outages in North Sea fields.

For more, go to the link. Zero Hedge has the full report of Nomura.

On a side note, there is NO BID on US dollars....

"It's going to be very difficult, it's going to be lots of blood"

Australia's ABC Radio phone interview of a man in Tripoli.


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

#Libya's Interior Minister Kidnapped in Benghazi (Updated with CNN Info)

After resigning from his post and urging the entire Libyan army to join the protesters and fight the regime, the interior minister Abdel Fattah Younes has reportedly been kidnapped in Benghazi, according to a tweet by Abdul Hamid Ahmad, editor in chief of Gulf Times.

A bit more on CNN:

Libyan state media reported that "gangs" in Benghazi had kidnapped him. Witnesses have reported that Benghazi has essentially been taken over by the opposition. Witnesses also told CNN they saw Younis on Sunday and Monday in Benghazi, where he was siding with the protesters.

Gangs in Benghazi - meaning the government thugs and/or black African mercenaries?

#Bahrain King to Visit Saudi Arabia on Wednesday

possibly to confer with King Abdullah on how to deal with Shi'ia protesters.

The king's policy of importing foreign Sunnis and fast-track them for citizenship to counter the Shi'ia majority in Bahrain may be backfiring...

From Gulf Times (2/23/2011):

Bahrain’s embattled King Hamad bin Issa al-Khalifa heads to Saudi Arabia today, the Saudi state news agency said, on a visit that coincides with the return of King Abdullah to Riyadh. “His majesty King Hamad bin Issa al-Khalifa is expected in Saudi Arabia Wednesday for an official visit,” read a brief statement posted on the SPA news agency website. Protests by a Shia-led opposition have gripped Manama’s Pearl Square since February 14.

In separate news, the Algerian government adopted the measure that would lift a 19-year state of emergency in an effort to placate the anti-government demonstrators.

And what does Libya do? The madman at the top vows to fight till the end while the West wrings their collective hands. I hope the end comes fast for the sake of Libyans, in favor of Libyans.

George Soros Plans "Bretton Woods II"

Look who's scheming what behind the scene, while all the turmoils from Libya to Indiana, from fighting for life and liberty to fighting to keep to themselves as much taxpayers' money as possible, occupy the news headlines.

George Soros is convening a monetary policy conference in Bretton Woods...

From Economic Policy Journal (2/22/2011):

A monetary conference sponsored by the Institute for New Economic Thinking - a nonprofit founded in 2009 with a $50 million pledge from oligarch George Soros - will be held April 8-11 at the Mount Washington Hotel in Bretton Woods.

Here's the attendance list, according to the article:

Paul Volcker, Former Chairman, Federal Reserve

Adair Turner, Chairman, Financial Services Authority

Richard Bronk, London School of Economics

Gordon Brown, Former Prime Minister, United Kingdom

Paul Davidson, Co-Founder, Journal of Post Keynesian Economics

Martin Wolf, Chief Economics Commentator, Financial Times

Niall Ferguson, Professor of History, Harvard University

Andy Haldane, Executive Director, Financial Stability, Bank of England

Simon Johnson, Professor of Entrepreneurship, Global Economics and Management, Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Henry Kaufman, President, Henry Kaufman & Co., Inc.

Zhu Min, Special Advisor, International Monetary Fund

Carmen Reinhart, Dennis Weatherstone Senior Fellow, Peterson Institute for International Economics

Kenneth Rogoff, Professor of Economics, Harvard University

Jeff Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute

Joseph Stiglitz, University Professor, Columbia Uni[versity]

A parade of globalists and Trilateralists, not to mention CFR members, Bilderbergers... Hey how come Stiglitz is invited but not Paul "Clueless" Krugman? And Gordon Brown? What kind of joke is this? Oh I vaguely remember - Gordon Brown was fishing for a job at the head of the IMF.

The article has excellent information from Lew Rockwell and Murray Rothbard on Bretton Woods I after the World War II, when John Maynard Keynes got almost all his wishes (and we are where we are in 2011).

I have a feeling that this is a "front". Hidden away somewhere is an equivalent of "Jekyll Island" - a extremely secret meeting of bankers to plot the creation of the Federal Reserve in the US - this time on a global scale.

(h/t heavypuree)