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April 23, 2009

Condoleezza Rice and Dick Cheney Irrevocably Linked To Water-boarding

waterboarding  A Senate Intelligence Committee document has revealed that when Condoleezza Rice was Bush’s National Security Adviser she personally verbally approved the CIA’s request to use water-boarding to subject alleged al-Qaida terrorist Abu Zubaydah to water-boarding in July 2002.  This is the earliest known decision by a Bush administration official to approve use of water-boarding. 

The report gives a detailed timeline of how the CIA’s violent “enhanced interrogation” techniques was conceived and approved at the highest levels in the Bush White House.  The timeline also shows that Rice played a greater role than she admitted last fall in written testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee.

While there have long been suspicions that the White House was involved in the decision, the actions have until now been blamed on the CIA and unnamed officials at the Pentagon.

The report describes a meeting between Dick Cheney, then-CIA Director George Tenet and Dr. Rice in July 2002. The Secretary of State “advised that the CIA could proceed with its proposed interrogation” of alleged al-Qaeda terrorist Abu Zubaydah, the report said.

In 2003, the CIA briefed Dr. Rice, Dick Cheney and John Ashcroft — the then Attorney General — on the use of water-boarding and other methods including week-long sleep deprivation, forced nudity and the use of stress positions. The Senate report says that officials “reaffirmed that the CIA program was lawful and reflected administration policy”.

CIA memos released by President Obama’s administration last week revealed that Mr. Zubaydah was water-boarded at least 83 times in the course of one month and Khalid Sheikh Mohammad who claimed to have planned the September 11 attacks was water-boarded183 times in one month.

Experts have said that water-boarding is so horrific that even the most hardened terrorists have not been able to stand it for more than a minute without begging to talk.

(more…)

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April 2, 2009

G20 Gives Super Powers To The IMF

imf  The International Monetary Fund has received super financial powers at the G20 meetings and it seems to me that we might be on our way to a New World Financial Order.

Let me say that I am not a financial whiz by ANY stretch of the imagination.  I’m just reading between the lines and trying to explain what I see with my limited financial vocabulary.  If you’re a financial expert and see any mistakes I made I would appreciate it if you let me know.

The IMF is a group of 185 countries who contribute money to a ‘pool’ and members can borrow from the pool on a temporary basis.  All UN member countries contribute to the IMF except for Taiwan, North Korea, Cuba, Andorra, Monaco, Liechtenstein, Tuvalu, and Nauru. The IMF was set up in 1944 to help countries who get into short-term financial crises because they don’t have enough currency to pay their bills — it offers short-term loans to help those countries get through financially difficult times.

Like the financial bailouts here in America, if you have to borrow from the IMF then you give up some of your independence and power.  Once you borrow from the IMF it imposes strict conditions on countries that take out a ‘loan’ — for example, strict requirements that the borrowing countries cut their budget deficits.

Initially it was mostly European countries that turned to the IMF for help. But as you can imagine in recent years developing countries have been forced to ask for help since times are especially hard and with more countries going to the IMF for financial assistance its supply of funds is dwindling fast.

Because of this the G20 has decided that the IMF should have more money for loans.  The G20 wants the IMF to have enough money in its coffers to triple its lending and ensure that it has enough money to offer loans to needy countries. New monies for the IMF would come from member countries. So far both Japan and the EU have already committed to loan the IMF $100 billion each. 

Right now the IMF is trying something new, instead of waiting for countries to get into financial difficulties the IMF is now offering countries a line of credit to help them protect their currencies before they fall on their financial knees. Up until now countries were reluctant to ask for this kind of loan since the financial markets would get worried that they were a big risk and react negatively toward these countries. Mexico is the first country to ask for this kind of bridge loan and the stigma once associated with kind of loan seems to have vanished — another sign of the times. Most of these funds will be available to middle income countries that have relatively sound economies.

The G20 leaders also agreed on a revolutionary move that will give individual countries an additional $250 billion in available and accessible (liquid) funds. These countries would be able to create more of their own currency supported by the SDR or special drawing right.  The SDR is an international reserve currency that operates as a supplement to existing reserve assets. This new initiative would give countries essentially free money, which they could use as they wish without having to negotiate deals with the IMF, and would do much to boost confidence among poorer and developing countries.

In the past Germany has been against this kind of assistance since creating money is inflationary. But in the current deflationary climate Germany seems to be lifting their opposition.

The IMF is also developing an early warning system for financial problems and taking a larger role in looking at the problems of the financial sector as a whole, in conjunction with a new global regulator the Financial Services Board in hopes of helping to prevent future world wide crisis.

In 2012 there will be another HUGE change at the IMF – they will evaluate their voting structure which could lead to the US losing its veto power.  At the same time China (Russia’s cousin) and other up-and-coming countries would have greater influence.

It has also been decided that going forward the tradition that the World Bank and IMF must be headed by an American and a European respectively will be abandoned and will be open to any member state .  In return China will lend some of its reserves to the IMF and China will also continue to lobby that the SDR will become a real reserve currency that will ultimately replace the dollar.

The changes to the capital and the role of the IMF are historic and perhaps the most important outcome of the G20 summit and it seems to me that this is a move towards a more global system of international finance and maybe a global currency.

March 31, 2009

Schedule: President and Mrs. Obama Goes To Europe

Obama  Obama 

president-obama-dc-to-london-3-31-09-2

Tuesday:

The Obamas are scheduled to arrive in London approximately 7:30pm local time (3:30pm EST).  The UK is 4 hours ahead of EST.

Wednesday:

President and Mrs. Obama will breakfast with Prime Minister and Mrs. Brown at 10 Downing Street then President Obama will hold talks with Prime Minister Brown.  Meetings with Russian President Dmitriy Anatolyevich Medvedev and Chinese President Hu Jintao will follow and then Obama will meet with David Cameron, leader of the British Conservative Party and end the day with her Majesty the Queen of England.

Thursday:

The big day.  G20 summit. 

President Obama will also meet the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak and King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia.

Friday:

Departs for Strasbourg, France (Near the German border)

President Obama will meet with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and hold a town-hall meeting.  He will then travel to Baden-Baden, Germany where he will visit with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and will then return to Strasbourg.

Saturday:

Attends NATO summit in Strasbourg.

Departs for Prague, Czech Republic

Sunday:

Attends EU-US summit.

Departs for Ankara, Turkey

Monday:

Departs Ankara for U.S of A

 

Obama  Obama  . 

Our POTUS and First Lady arrived in Britain at Stansted Airport in Essex, England at 7:51pm GMT (3:51pm EST), where they were met on the tarmac by Chancellor Alistair Darling and his wife Margaret and Britain’s Charge D’Affair’s Richard LeBaron and his wife Jean Foshee LeBaron. They then travelled on Marine One to the grounds of Winfield House, the U.S. Ambassador’s London residence. 

 

July 24, 2008

Thursday: Obama Has ‘Very Open’ Talks With Germany’s Chancellor Merkel

  Senator Barack Obama has held “very open” talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin; just hours before he is due to give a major speech on US-European relations.

Obama travelled in a motorcade from Berlin’s Tegel airport to a private meeting with Mrs. Merkel at the chancellery, opposite the glass-domed Reichstag parliament building.  Chancellor Merkel’s spokesman said the German leader had “very open” and wide-ranging talks with Senator Obama, touching on foreign policy issues including Iran, Afghanistan and the Middle East peace process.

  Their talks also covered the trans-Atlantic economic partnership, climate and energy issues, the state of the global economy and international cooperation to “solve important global questions,” Ulrich Wilhem, Chancellor Merkel’s spokesman, said in a statement.

Merkel and Obama stressed the “great significance of close and friendly German-American relations,” he said, adding that the talks were conducted in “a very good atmosphere”.

Obama paused as he entered the gates of the chancellery to wave at a group of Bavarian teenager school children, whose class happened to be ending its tour of the building.

“We were really close,” an excited Michaela Schmid said. “It was super, a real highlight.”

(more…)

July 23, 2008

Thursday: Will There Be Cheers For Obama In Europe?

 It is no exaggeration to say that relations with Europe have been among the most egregious, and most avoidable, failures of George W. Bush’s presidency. It was not just his excessive arrogance over Iraq – although that war served to reinforce European hostility.

It wasn’t just one thing about George W. Bush that disconnected him from his European counterparts. It was Bush’s lack of experience and knowledge of the world outside of the United States, it was his obvious lack of interest in how people outside of America perceived the world, it was his arrogance of not even caring to learn, it was his aggressive language, it was his cowboy manners, it was his general way of thinking and the posture he took that all combined to sever relationships with European leaders.

Because of these reasons this trip to Europe is important for Senator Obama.  Obama have rightly identified relations with the populous and national leaders of Europe and the United Kingdom as being very important.

With center-right governments in power in Germany and France, and the Conservatives growing in the U.K. the climate for mending fences between the U.S. and Europe is improving and Obama wants to take advantage of the time and opportunity.

Even though Obama has not been in the U.K. or Europe recently, our cousins across the pond have been keenly watching the 2008 elections and it is Senator Obama who has captured their imagination – other candidates not so much. With his relative youth, his allegorical gifts and the ground-breaking ideas he brings to the table, public opinion polls show that if Europeans had a vote, Barack Obama would be elected President of the United States by 60 points tomorrow.

Even though the decision on November 4 is America’s to make and even though all foreign governments have a duty to observe neutrality in other countries elections, it doesn’t mean that “Obamania” won’t break out in Berlin on Thursday!

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