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THOUSANDS WATCH SIEGE OF LENINGRAD RE-ENACTMENT (Russia)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on January 26, 2009

9:21AM Monday Jan 26, 2009

Associated Press

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE NEW ZEALAND HERALD’

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PUBLISHED BY ‘THE NEW ZEALAND HERALD’

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Posted in ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, HISTORY, INTERNATIONAL, RECESSION, RUSSIA, WARS AND ARMED CONFLICTS | Leave a Comment »

MOTOR CITY MALAISE (USA)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on January 25, 2009

Sun, Jan. 25, 2009

by Maria Panaritis – Inquirer Staff Writer

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER’ (USA)

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PUBLISHED BY ‘THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER’ (USA)

Posted in AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY, BANKING SYSTEM - USA, BANKRUPTCIES - USA, CENTRAL BANKS, COMMERCE, COMMODITIES MARKET, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, FOREIGN WORK FORCE - LEGAL, HISTORY, HOUSING CRISIS - USA, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION - USA, INDUSTRIES - USA, MACROECONOMY, NATIONAL WORK FORCES, RECESSION, RESTRUCTURING OF PRIVATE COMPANIES, THE WORK MARKET, THE WORKERS, THE WORKING ENVIRONMENT, UNEMPLOYMENT, USA | Leave a Comment »

ISRAEL’S FRIENDS CANNOT JUSTIFY THIS SLAUGHTER

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on January 19, 2009

Monday, 19 January 2009

by Yasmin Alibhai-Brown

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE INDEPENDENT’ (UK)

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PUBLISHED BY ‘THE INDEPENDENT’ (UK)

Posted in BANKING SYSTEM - USA, COMMERCE, COMMODITIES MARKET, CRIMINAL ACTIVITIES, CRIMINAL FOREIGN POLICIES, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FOREIGN POLICIES, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, HATE MONGERING AND BIGOTRY, HISTORY, HUMAN RIGHTS, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION - USA, INDUSTRIES, INDUSTRIES - USA, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, ISRAEL, MILITARY CONTRACTS, PALESTINE, RECESSION, STATE TERRORISM, THE ARMS INDUSTRY, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN STRUGGLE, THE MEDIA (US AND FOREIGN), THE UNITED NATIONS, USA, WAR CRIMES, WARS AND ARMED CONFLICTS, WEAPONS | Leave a Comment »

THE NEW DEAL WASN’T BUILT IN A DAY (USA)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on January 19, 2009

January 19, 2009

by Philip Warburg

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE BOSTON GLOBE’

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PUBLISHED BY ‘THE BOSTON GLOBE’

Posted in BANKING SYSTEM - USA, BANKING SYSTEMS, BANKRUPTCIES - USA, COMMERCE, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, HISTORY, HOUSING CRISIS - USA, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION - USA, INDUSTRIES - USA, MACROECONOMY, RECESSION, RESTRUCTURING OF PRIVATE COMPANIES, RESTRUCTURING OF THE PUBLIC SECTOR, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, USA | Leave a Comment »

PROCESSO DE INVESTIGAÇÃO DA MORTE DE WLADIMIR HERZOG É ARQUIVADO (Brazil)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on January 14, 2009

13 de Janeiro de 2009 – 22h40

Agência Brasil

PUBLISHED BY ‘AGÊNCIA BRASIL’

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PUBLISHED BY ‘AGÊNCIA BRASIL’

Posted in AS FORÇAS ARMADAS, ATIVIDADES CRIMINOSAS - BRASIL, BRASIL, CIDADANIA, CRIMINAL ACTIVITIES, DIREITOS HUMANOS - BRASIL, ECONOMIA - BRASIL, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND CONSCIENCE, HISTORY, HUMAN RIGHTS, INTERNATIONAL, JUDICIARY SYSTEMS, O PODER JUDICIÁRIO, OS JUDICIÁRIOS ESTADUAIS, POLICE BRUTALITY, RECESSION | Leave a Comment »

IRAQ VICTIMS SUE UK SECURITY FIRM – GUARDS EMPLOYED BY HAMPSHIRE-BASED COMPANY ARE ACCUSED OF OPENING FIRE ON UNARMED CIVILIANS AND DRIVING OFF, LEAVING THEM WITH SEVERE INJURIES

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on January 12, 2009

Sunday 11 January 2009

by Mark Townsend – The Observer

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE GUARDIAN’ (UK)

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PUBLISHED BY ‘THE GUARDIAN’ (UK)

Posted in BANKING SYSTEM - USA, BANKRUPTCIES - USA, COMMERCE, COMMODITIES MARKET, CRIMINAL ACTIVITIES, CRIMINAL FOREIGN POLICIES, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FOREIGN POLICIES, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, HATE MONGERING AND BIGOTRY, HISTORY, HOUSING CRISIS - USA, HUMAN RIGHTS, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION - USA, INDUSTRIES, INDUSTRIES - USA, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, IRAQ, JUDICIARY SYSTEMS, MILITARY CONTRACTS, RECESSION, SECURITY AND PRIVATE-EYE INDUSTRIES, THE ARMS INDUSTRY, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, THE OCCUPATION WAR IN IRAQ, THE UNITED NATIONS, UNITED KINGDOM, USA, WAR CRIMES, WARS AND ARMED CONFLICTS, WEAPONS | Leave a Comment »

THE WHEELS COME OFF MAGGIE’S REVOLUTION – NISSAN’S SUNDERLAND FACTORY WAS HAILED AS THE FUTURE OF BRITISH MANUFACTURING. NOW IT IS UNDER THREAT – PAUL VALLELY FINDS A COMMUNITY AT THE SHARP END OF THE GLOBAL RECESSION

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on January 10, 2009

Saturday, 10 January 2009

by Sarah Arnott

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE INDEPENDENT’ (UK)

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PUBLISHED BY ‘THE INDEPENDENT’ (UK)

Posted in AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY, BANKING SYSTEMS, COMMERCE, COMMODITIES MARKET, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, FOREIGN POLICIES, HISTORY, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIES, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, RECESSION, REGULATIONS AND BUSINESS TRANSPARENCY, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, UNITED KINGDOM | Leave a Comment »

HISTORY MAY NOT REPEAT ITSELF – GOLD STOCKS DURING THE GREAT DEPRESSION

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on January 9, 2009

1/7/2009 1:08:14 PM

by Steven Saville

PUBLISHED BY ‘STOCKHOUSE’ (canada)

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PUBLISHED BY ‘STOCKHOUSE’ (canada)

Posted in BANKING SYSTEM - USA, BANKING SYSTEMS, BANKRUPTCIES - USA, COMMERCE, COMMODITIES MARKET, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, FINANCIAL SERVICES INDUSTRIES, HISTORY, HOUSING CRISIS - USA, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION - USA, INDUSTRIES, INDUSTRIES - USA, RECESSION, STOCK MARKETS, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, THE WORK MARKET, UNEMPLOYMENT, USA | Leave a Comment »

ECONOMY STIRS MEMORIES OF DEPRESSION (USA)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on January 6, 2009

January 5th, 2009 12:05 AM

by Megan K. Scott – The Associated

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE NEWS TRIBUNE’ (USA)

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PUBLISHED BY ‘THE NEWS TRIBUNE’ (USA)

Posted in BANKING SYSTEM - USA, BANKRUPTCIES - USA, CENTRAL BANKS, COMMERCE, COMMODITIES MARKET, DEPRESSION, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FINANCIAL SERVICES INDUSTRIES, HISTORY, HOUSING CRISIS - USA, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION - USA, INDUSTRIES - USA, MACROECONOMY, NATIONAL WORK FORCES, RECESSION, REGULATIONS AND BUSINESS TRANSPARENCY, STOCK MARKETS, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, THE WORK MARKET, THE WORKERS, THE WORKING ENVIRONMENT, UNEMPLOYMENT, USA | Leave a Comment »

HARSH DOSE OF REALITY TO HIT AMERICA AFTER INAUGURATION

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on January 2, 2009

January 3, 2009

Ian Munro in New York

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE SIDNEY MORNING HERALD’

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PUBLISHED BY ‘THE SIDNEY MORNING HERALD’

Posted in AGRICULTURE, AL QAEDA, BANKING SYSTEM - USA, BANKING SYSTEMS, BANKRUPTCIES - USA, BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA -(DEC. 2008/JAN. 2009), CENTRAL BANKS, COMMERCE, DEFENCE TREATIES, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, EDUCATION, ELECTIONS 2008 - USA, ENVIRONMENT, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, HEALTH CARE - USA, HISTORY, HOUSING CRISIS - USA, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION - USA, INDUSTRIES, INDUSTRIES - USA, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, MACROECONOMY, NATIONAL DEBT - USA, NATO, PUBLIC SECTOR AND STATE OWNED ENTERPRISES, RECESSION, REGULATIONS AND BUSINESS TRANSPARENCY, RESTRUCTURING OF THE PUBLIC SECTOR, STATE TARIFFS, STOCK MARKETS, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE OCCUPATION WAR IN IRAQ, THE PRESIDENCY - USA, THE UNITED NATIONS, THE WORK MARKET, THE WORKERS, TRADE DEFICIT - USA, UNEMPLOYMENT, USA, WAR IN AFGHANISTAN | 1 Comment »

AUSTRÁLIA DARÁ A GAZA US$ 3,5 MILHÕES EM AJUDA – COMUNICADO CONDENA O LANÇAMENTO DE FOGUETES SOBRE O SUL DE ISRAEL

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on January 1, 2009

01/01/2009 – 05h59min

E.F.E.

PUBLISHED BY ‘A NOTÍCIA’ (Brazil)

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PUBLISHED BY ‘A NOTÍCIA’ (Brazil)

Posted in COMMERCE, COMMODITIES MARKET, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, FOREIGN POLICIES, HISTORY, HUMAN RIGHTS, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIES, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, ISRAEL, MILITARY CONTRACTS, PALESTINE, RECESSION, THE ARMS INDUSTRY, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN STRUGGLE | Leave a Comment »

‘NOTHING JUSTIFIES WORLD’S FAILURE TO HOLD ISRAEL BACK’ (Jordan)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on January 1, 2009

Thursday, January 1st, 2009, 3:06 am ET

WAM/TF

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE JORDAN TIMES’

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PUBLISHED BY ‘THE JORDAN TIMES’

Posted in BANKING SYSTEM - USA, BANKRUPTCIES - USA, COMMERCE, COMMODITIES MARKET, CRIMINAL ACTIVITIES, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, FOREIGN POLICIES, HISTORY, HOUSING CRISIS - USA, HUMAN RIGHTS, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION - USA, INDUSTRIES, INDUSTRIES - USA, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, ISRAEL, JORDAN, MILITARY CONTRACTS, PALESTINE, RECESSION, THE ARMS INDUSTRY, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN STRUGGLE, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, THE MEDIA (US AND FOREIGN), USA, WEAPONS | Leave a Comment »

WHERE WILL PALESTINE’S SUPPORTERS BE WHEN THE GUNS FALL SILENT?

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on January 1, 2009

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Editorial

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE DAILY STAR’ (Lebanon)

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PUBLISHED BY ‘THE DAILY STAR’ (Lebanon)

Posted in BANKING SYSTEM - USA, BANKRUPTCIES - USA, COMMERCE, COMMODITIES MARKET, CRIMINAL ACTIVITIES, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, FOREIGN POLICIES, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, HISTORY, HUMAN RIGHTS, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION - USA, INDUSTRIES, INDUSTRIES - USA, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, ISRAEL, MILITARY CONTRACTS, PALESTINE, RECESSION, THE ARMS INDUSTRY, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN STRUGGLE, THE MEDIA (US AND FOREIGN), USA, WEAPONS | Leave a Comment »

CBS NEWSMAN’S $70M LAWSUIT LIKELY TO DEAL BUSH LEGACY A NEW BLOW (USA)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 29, 2008

Sunday 28 December 2008

by Christopher Goodwin – in Los Angeles – The Observer

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE GUARDIAN’ (UK)

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE GUARDIAN’ (UK)

Posted in BANKING SYSTEM - USA, BANKRUPTCIES - USA, COMMUNICATION INDUSTRIES, CORRUPTION, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FRAUD, FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND CONSCIENCE, HISTORY, HOUSING CRISIS - USA, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION - USA, INDUSTRIES - USA, NATIONAL WORK FORCES, RECESSION, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, THE PRESIDENCY - USA, THE WORKING ENVIRONMENT, USA | Leave a Comment »

IS WAR A SOLUTION TO GLOBAL RECESSION? (India)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 27, 2008

26 Dec 2008, 18:45 hrs IST

by Mandar Nimkar & Saikat Das

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE ECONOMIC TIMES’ (India)

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PUBLISHED BY ‘THE ECONOMIC TIMES’ (India)

Posted in COMMODITIES MARKET, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FOREIGN POLICIES, HISTORY, INDIA, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INDUSTRIES, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, PAKISTAN, RECESSION, THE ARMS INDUSTRY, WARS AND ARMED CONFLICTS, WEAPONS | Leave a Comment »

E TOME SAPATO NA CABEÇA

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 26, 2008

16/12/2008 – 08:17

Redação Diário de Natal – G1

PUBLISHED BY ‘DIÁRIO DE NATAL’ (Brazil)

CHARGE BY IVAN CABRAL (Brazil) – 16/12/2008 – © Copyright 2008 – All Rights Reserved

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PUBLISHED BY ‘DIÁRIO DE NATAL’ (Brazil)

Posted in BANKING SYSTEM - USA, BANKRUPTCIES - USA, ECONOMY - USA, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FOREIGN POLICIES, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, HISTORY, HOUSING CRISIS - USA, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, ISRAEL, JUDICIARY SYSTEMS, PALESTINE, THE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN STRUGGLE, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, THE OCCUPATION WAR IN IRAQ, USA, WAR IN AFGHANISTAN | Leave a Comment »

MARY, JOSEPH AND THEIR DONKEY AT THE GAZA STRIP IN DECEMBER 2008

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 25, 2008

24 Dec 2008

 
 

 

ILLUSTRATION BY POLYP – © Copyright 2008 –  All Rights Reserved

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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PUBLISHED BY ‘BODY ON THE LINE’

Posted in COMMERCE, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FOREIGN POLICIES, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, HATE MONGERING AND BIGOTRY, HISTORY, HUMAN RIGHTS, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL HUMOR, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, ISRAEL, PALESTINE, RECESSION, THE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN STRUGGLE, USA | Leave a Comment »

MARX ‘DAS KAPITAL’ COMIC FINDS NEW FANS IN JAPAN

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 24, 2008

Dec 22, 5:10 AM EST

by Mari Yamaguchi – Associated Press Writer

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE YOMIURI SHIMBUN’ (Japan)

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE YOMIURI SHIMBUN’ (Japan)

Posted in ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, HISTORY, INTERNATIONAL, JAPAN, RECESSION, THE WORKERS | Leave a Comment »

LULA DIZ QUE CHICO MENDES FEZ A DIFERENÇA NA DEFESA DA PRESERVAÇÃO DA FLORESTA (Brazil)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 23, 2008

18/12/2008

Agência Brasil

PUBLISHED BY ‘PORTAL RONDÔNIA’

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PUBLISHED BY ‘PORTAL RONDÔNIA’

Posted in A CORRUPÇÃO NO APARELHO DO ESTADO, A PRESIDÊNCIA, A QUESTÃO AGRÁRIA, AC, AGRICULTURA, AGRICULTURE, AGRONEGÓCIOS, AM, BRASIL, CATTLE, CIDADANIA, CIDADES, COMBATE À CORRUPÇÃO - BRASIL, COMBATE À DESIGUALDADE E À EXCLUSÃO - BRASIL, CORRUPÇÃO - BRASIL, CORRUPÇÃO NA POLÍTICA, CORRUPTION, CRIMES EMPRESARIAIS, DEFESA DO MEIO AMBIENTE - BRASIL, DIREITOS HUMANOS - BRASIL, ECONOMIA - BRASIL, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ENVIRONMENT, EXPANSÃO AGRÍCOLA, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, GO, HISTORY, INTERNATIONAL, LUIS INÁCIO LULA DA SILVA, MA, MINING INDUSTRIES, MINISTÉRIO DO MEIO AMBIENTE, MS, MT, O PODER EXECUTIVO FEDERAL, O PODER JUDICIÁRIO, OS JUDICIÁRIOS ESTADUAIS, PECUÁRIA, PECULATO, PI, POLÍTICA REGIONAL, PREVARICAÇÃO, RECESSION, REGULATIONS AND BUSINESS TRANSPARENCY, RO, RR, TO | Leave a Comment »

AMAZON KILLINGS GO ON DESPITE CHICO MENDES’ LEGACY (Brazil)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 22, 2008

December 21, 2008

by Bradley Brooks – The Associated Press

PUBLISHED BY ‘TOPIX.NET’ (USA)

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PUBLISHED BY ‘TOPIX.NET’ (USA)

Posted in A CORRUPÇÃO NO APARELHO DO ESTADO, A QUESTÃO AGRÁRIA, A QUESTÃO ÉTNICA, AC, AGRONEGÓCIOS, ATIVIDADES CRIMINOSAS - BRASIL, BRASIL, CIDADANIA, CIDADES, COMBATE À DESIGUALDADE E À EXCLUSÃO - BRASIL, CORRUPÇÃO - BRASIL, CORRUPÇÃO NA POLÍTICA, CRIMES AMBIENTAIS - BRASIL, CRIMES EMPRESARIAIS, CRIMINAL ACTIVITIES, DEFESA DO MEIO AMBIENTE - BRASIL, DEPUTADOS ESTADUAIS, DIREITOS HUMANOS - BRASIL, ECONOMIA - BRASIL, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ENVIRONMENT, EXPANSÃO AGRÍCOLA, EXPANSÃO ECONÔMICA, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, HISTORY, HUMAN RIGHTS, INTERNATIONAL, NATIVE PEOPLES, O MOVIMENTO DOS POVOS NATIVOS, O PODER EXECUTIVO MUNICIPAL, O PODER JUDICIÁRIO, OS GOVERNADORES, OS JUDICIÁRIOS ESTADUAIS, OS PREFEITOS, PECULATO, PREVARICAÇÃO, RECESSION | 1 Comment »

REMEMBERING WASHINGTON’S OPENING TO CHINA DECADES LATER

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 17, 2008

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

by Richard C. Holbrooke

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE DAILY STAR’ (Lebanon)

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PUBLISHED BY ‘THE DAILY STAR’ (Lebanon)

Posted in CHINA, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, HISTORY, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, RECESSION, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, USA | Leave a Comment »

DE MENEZES JURY RECORD OPEN VERDICT AND REJECTS POLICE VERSION OF SHOOTING (UK)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 12, 2008

December 12, 2008

by Sean O’Neill – Crime & Security Editor – Times Online

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE TIMES’ (UK)

JUSTICE FOR JEAN

The inquest jury examining the death of Jean-Charles de Menezes has returned an open verdict – refusing to accept the idea that he was lawfully killed in a fast-moving anti-terrorist operation.

The jurors also answered a series of questions about the circumstances of Mr de Menezes’s death on board a Tube train at Stockwell, South London, in a way which rejected much of the account of the shooting given by police firearms officers.

Asked if they believed that the policemen had shouted a warning of armed police, the jury answered no. They also answered no when asked if Mr de Menezes had moved towards the officers before he was shot.

The jury had been banned by Sir Michael Wright, QC, the coroner, from considering a verdict of unlawful killing. His ruling led the de Menezes family to withdraw from the proceedings and brand the inquest “a complete whitewash”.

But the outcome of the inquest is a damaging result for the Metropolitan Police and could lead to a legal challenge to the verdict in the High Court.

The coroner said he would be preparing a report on what practices of the Metropolitan Police required changing. It will be sent to the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, the police authority and the Home Secretary and should be made public.

Sir Michael expressed his “sincere condolences” to the de Menezes family.

He said: “In any view this was a tragic and terrible event, the killing of an entirely innocent young man.”

The majority verdict of 8-2 came at the end of seven days of deliberations by the jurors, whose number was reduced from 11 to 10 earlier this week.

The inquest, held at the Oval Cricket Ground, south London, has lasted for 12 weeks and is estimated to have cost around £6million in court costs and legal fees. It heard evidence for the first time from the two armed officers who shot Mr de Menezes, 27, a Brazilian electrician.

They fired nine shots, hitting Mr de Menezes in the head seven times, after mistaking him for a suicide bomber on July 22 2005 – the day after four terrorists failed to set off suicide bombs in London then went on the run.

The officers, identified only as Charlie 12 and Charlie 2, said they had shouted “armed police” as the ran onto the Northern Line train at Stockwell, south London, and that Mr de Menezes had stood up and moved towards them aggressively. They claimed his reaction led them to shoot him because they feared he was about to detonate a bomb.

But passengers on the train said they did not hear warning shouts and did not see Mr de Menezes leave his seat. One woman claimed that the policemen appeared to be “out of control”.

During the evidence, the court heard that surveillance officers deployed to search for Hussain Osman, one of the fugitive bombers, did not have a picture of the man they were looking for. Mr de Menezes was thought to be a likeness for Osman but never positively identified as the terrorist before he was shot.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Cressida Dick, who was Gold Command officer in charge of the operation, told the hearing that she did not believe any officer had done anything wrong or unreasonable. She also said she feared that a similar incident could happen again.

Last year, an Old Bailey jury found the Metropolitan Police guilty of breaching health and safety law in the operation which led to Mr de Menezes’s death. The force was fined £175,000.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE TIMES’ (UK)

Posted in A QUESTÃO ÉTNICA, BRASIL, CIDADANIA, DIREITOS HUMANOS - BRASIL, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ENGLAND, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FOREIGN POLICIES, HATE MONGERING AND BIGOTRY, HISTORY, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, JUDICIARY SYSTEMS, RECESSION, UNITED KINGDOM | Leave a Comment »

SWISS BANK SECRECY IN TOUGHEST TEST SINCE NAZI GOLD

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 12, 2008

December 11, 2008

by John O’Donnell – Reuters

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE FINANCIAL MIRROR’ (Cyprus)

More than a decade after holocaust survivors won compensation from Swiss banks for emptying Jewish accounts that had lain dormant since the war, the pressure is on again to dismantle Swiss banking secrecy.

This time, the tax collector is leading the charge.

With Washington joining Germany to press for an end to a code they believe helps tax dodgers, many see it as only a matter of time before the Swiss lift the cloak guarding the secrets of the world’s wealthy.

“The challenge to bank secrecy is a thunderstorm which has been brewing since the holocaust money,” said Sebastian Dovey of consultancy Scorpio Partnership. “It is a hot potato and I don’t think the heat is going to be turned down.”

Nearly one-third of wealth kept abroad globally is in Swiss banks: the Swiss Bankers Association and consultants estimate this at $2.2 trillion, making the Alpine state the globe’s biggest offshore centre ahead of Britain and Luxembourg.

But its code of secrecy — which local myth inaccurately claims was introduced to protect fleeing Jews — is as controversial as it is protective.

Laid down in a 1934 law, it has spawned plots for bestselling thrillers, but also real-life intrigues such as that of Gizella Weisshaus.

Shortly before her father was murdered by the Nazis during the war, he told his children about gold coins and jewellery he had stowed away as Germany’s army marched towards their home in Romania.

“I found the money and his gold watch hidden in the roof of my house,” she told Reuters by telephone from New York. “And there were some pieces of paper. It didn’t mean anything to me.”

Decades later, the Auschwitz survivor was still trying to unravel the riddle of those long-discarded papers which likely contained the numbers of Swiss bank accounts.

But like many others who travelled to Zurich to trace her father’s money, she was turned away repeatedly.

She later became central to a series of legal actions taken against the banks and in the mid-1990s under pressure from Washington and Jewish community group the World Jewish Congress, they finally paid $1.2 billion for accounts they had sucked dry.

Now Switzerland faces its toughest assault since. In an escalation of a U.S. investigation into its biggest bank, Raoul Weil, head of UBS’s wealth management business, was recently charged with helping Americans hide billions.

“With the UBS case, Switzerland is under huge international pressure and pretty much back in the situation it was then,” said Swiss Social Democrat party official and historian Peter Hug.

“Holding onto bank secrecy is not going to work in the long term. Switzerland is small and it cannot afford to help tax evasion in its neighbouring countries.”

POLITICAL PRIORITY

Germany, which at the start of the year paid an informant for the names of tax dodgers who parked money at LGT bank in smaller hideout Liechtenstein, is also pushing for change.

“In the end, Switzerland will have no way around declaring who its foreign bank account holders are,” said Hans Eichel, who as German Finance Minister between 1999 and 2005 tried to tackle offshore havens.

“This is a business based on a criminal activity — dodging tax in a neighbouring country.”

The Swiss have already made some concessions: introducing, for example, a tax on income earned by European Union citizens in Swiss accounts.

Stuart Eizenstat, U.S. Deputy Secretary of the Treasury under Bill Clinton, said the dormant accounts case he helped negotiate prompted the Swiss to cooperate on other fronts.

“I do think it had a catalytic effect of making the banks more open,” he said. “They became strong supporters, for example, of the anti-terrorist financing measures. It did spur them to become more open on money-laundering.”

But with demands from Germany that Switzerland be blacklisted by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, pressure is rising for more.

“The Americans said that if you do not cooperate, then we will make sure you cannot do business here,” said Eichel. “European neighbours of Switzerland such as Germany have to consider similar measures.”

Many believe an agreement between Liechtenstein and the United States this week to drop bank secrecy in cases of tax evasion could force Switzerland into similar concessions.

Prince Nikolaus, the brother of Liechtenstein’s ruling monarch and the country’s ambassador to Brussels, said UBS’s problems and Germany’s probe of his family’s bank, LGT, sent a clear message to offshore havens.

“It was these two banks — the biggest in their respective countries — which were turned into a big case,” he told Reuters by telephone from Brussels. “It has symbolic value. It shows the political priority.”

AIR THINNING FOR ELITE

The pressure from Washington is unlikely to let up. As a senator, U.S. president-elect Barack Obama introduced legislation early last year to make it easier to probe and prosecute tax dodging in offshore locations.

As president, he will need to fund an economic stimulus plan that analysts estimate could cost at least $500 billion.

Hug believes Liechtenstein’s move shows the air is also getting thinner for the Swiss elite. And he sees the first cracks appearing in the country’s usually unshakeable facade.

“There is a conflict of interest between Swiss industry and the banks,” he said. “Industry wants compromise on bank secrecy so that the country’s image is not spoilt.”

Switzerland’s banks — the liabilities of its two largest are more than seven times the country’s Gross Domestic Product — have been talking up the services they offer beyond hiding customer identity.

“This is not all we have,” said Urs Roth, Chief Executive of the Swiss Bankers Association. “We do have a number of traditional advantages, like the economic, monetary and social stability.”

Ultimately, however, it may not be the industry but Swiss pride that is the biggest hurdle to dropping bank secrecy. A nationwide vote would likely be needed to change the rules.

Few speak out publicly on the subject. No major Swiss bank wanted to discuss it with Reuters.

“The Swiss are so brainwashed, that the bank there is untouchable,” said Maram Stern, who as Deputy Secretary General of the World Jewish Congress oversaw negotiations with the Swiss banks about dormant accounts.

“This was what the normal person on the street was not capable of understanding. There were people asking me: how can you question the bank?”

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE FINANCIAL MIRROR’ (Cyprus)

Posted in BANKING SYSTEMS, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, EUROPE, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, FOREIGN POLICIES, HISTORY, HUMAN RIGHTS, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, JUDAISM, JUDICIARY SYSTEMS, RECESSION, SWITZERLAND, TAX EVADING, THE EUROPEAN UNION, USA | Leave a Comment »

MARKETS CAN’T RULE THEMSELVES – A ‘made in the U.S.A.’financial crisis highlights the need for more global—and more robust—oversight

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 11, 2008

December 2008 – february 2009

by Joseph Stiglitz – (*)

PUBLISHED BY ‘NEWSWEEK – Special Edition – ISSUES 2009’ (USA)

For years, there has been an ongoing discussion among world leaders and thinkers about deficiencies in the international financial architecture and about economic imbalances, GROUND ZERO - Wall Street exported troubles to the world; it needs world help to fix themincluding the widening U.S. trade deficit. Many worried about a disorderly unwinding of these imbalances. Nothing was done. We are now paying the price for our failure to act. Ten years ago, the fear was that financial turmoil in the developing world might spill over to the advanced industrialized countries. Today, we are in the middle of a “made in the U.S.A.” crisis that is threatening the entire world.

If we are going to address this worldwide crisis and prevent a recurrence, we must reform and reconfigure the global financial system. There are simply too many inter-dependencies to allow each country to go its own way. For example, the United States benefited from its export of toxic mortgages; had it not sent some of them to Europe via complex securitization, its downturn would have been far worse. But the resulting weaknesses in Europe’s banks are now ricocheting back to the United States.

Better regulation would have helped prevent such a situation. But the reform of the global financial system must go much further. For example, there must be better monetary-policy coordination around the world. Europe’s current slowdown is due in part to the fact that while the European Central Bank spent the past year focusing on inflation, the United States was (rightly) focusing on the impending recession. The resulting difference in interest rates led to a strong euro and weak exports. That hurt Europe. But a weak Europe eventually hurts the United States, as Europe is forced to reduce its imports of American goods. With better coordination, perhaps America would have been able to convince Europe of the risks of recession, and that would have led to moderation of Europe’s interest rates.

There is also a need for internationally coordinated stimulus programs to help jump-start growth. It is good news that China, the United States and Japan have now all instigated major programs of fiscal expansion. But they are of vastly different sizes, and so far, Europe’s is lagging behind. Its growth and stability pact imposes constraints that may have global consequences. Beyond this, confidence in financial markets will not be fully restored unless governments take a stronger role in regulating financial institutions, financial products and movements of capital. Banks have shown that they can’t manage their own risk, and the consequences for others have been disastrous. Even former Fed chairman Alan Greenspan, the high priest of deregulation, admits he went too far.

What we need now is a global financial regulatory body to help monitor and gauge systemic risk. If financial rules are allowed to vary too widely from nation to nation, there is a risk of a race to the bottom — some nations will move toward more lax regulation to capture financial business at the expense of their competitors. The financial system will be weakened, with consequences that are now all too apparent.

What should this” new set of global financial rules encompass? For starters, it should ensure that managerial incentive schemes are transparent and do not provide perverse encouragement for bad accounting, myopic behavior and excessive risk taking. Compensation should be based on returns not from a single year but over a longer time period. At the very least, we should require greater transparency in stock options, including making sure that they receive appropriate accounting treatment. And we need to restrict the scope for conflicts of interest — whether among rating agencies being paid by those they are rating, or mortgage companies owning the companies that appraise the properties on which they issue mortgages. We need to restrict excessive leverage, and other very risky behavior. Standardization of financial products would enhance transparency. And financial-product safety and stability commissions could help decide which products were safe for institutions to use, and for what purposes. We have seen what happens if we rely on bankers to regulate banking.

Beyond better global coordination of macroeconomic policy and regulation, there are at least two other actions governments should take. First, we need a reform of the global reserve system. More than 75 years ago, John Maynard Keynes, the greatest economist of his generation, wrote that a global reserve system was necessary for financial stability and prosperity; since then the need has become much more dire. Keynes’s hope was that the International Monetary Fund would create a new global reserve currency that countries would hold instead of sterling (the reserve of the time). Today, such a currency could be used to replace the dollar as the de facto reserve currency. Because it would not depend on the fortunes of any one country, it would be more stable. Supply could be increased on a regular basis, ensuring that reserves kept up with countries’ needs. Issuance could be done on the basis of simple rules—including punishment for countries that caused global weaknesses by having persistent surpluses. This is an idea whose time may have finally come.

The other major reform should be a new system of handling cross-border bankruptcies (including debt defaults by sovereign states). Today, when a bank or firm in one country defaults, it can have global ramifications. With various national legal systems involved, the tangle may take years to unwind. For example, the problems arising from Argentina’s 2001 default are still not resolved, and bankruptcy complications plagued South Korea and Indonesia during their crises a decade ago, slowing down the process of recovery. The world may soon be littered with defaults, and we need a better way of handling them than we have had in the past.

This crisis has highlighted not only the extent of our inter-dependencies but the deficiencies in existing institutions. The IMF, for instance, has done little but talk about global imbalances. And as the world has focused on problems of governance as an impediment to development, deficiencies in the IMF’s own governance meant its lectures had little credibility. Its advice, especially that encouraging deregulation, seems particularly hollow today. Many critics in Asia and the Middle East, where pools of liquid capital dwarf die IMF’s own, are wondering why they should turn over their money to an institution in which the United States, the source of the problem, still has veto power, and in which diey have so little voting power.

This is a Bretton Woods moment — a time for dramatic reforms of existing institutions” or, as was done at the end of World War II, the creation of new ones. Until now, Washington has consistently blocked efforts to create a multilateral global financial system that is stable and fair. It exported the deregulatory philosophy that has proved so costly, both to itself and to the world. President Obama has an opportunity to change all this. Much depends — now and for decades to come — on his response.

(*) – Joseph Stiglitz is a Nobel laureate in economics and a professor at Columbia University.

Posted in BANKING SYSTEM - USA, BANKING SYSTEMS, BANKRUPTCIES - USA, CENTRAL BANKS, CHINA, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, EUROPE, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, FINANCIAL SCAMS, FOREIGN POLICIES, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, FRAUD, HISTORY, HOUSING CRISIS - USA, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, JAPAN, MACROECONOMY, RECESSION, REGULATIONS AND BUSINESS TRANSPARENCY, THE EUROPEAN UNION, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, USA | Leave a Comment »

LIBYA EYES 10% STAKE IN ITALY’S OIL GIANT ENI AND OTHER INFRASTRUCTURE VENTURES

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 9, 2008

Published: December 07, 2008, 23:31

Reuters

PUBLISHED BY ‘GULF NEWS’ (Dubai – UAE)

Rome: Libya would be interested in buying up to 10 per cent of Italian oil giant ENI, one of a number of investments it is PRESS CONFERENCE BY FRANCO FRATTINI
considering in Italy, the North African country’s ambassador to Italy was reported as saying.

The investment, which at ENI’s closing price of 15.39 euros on Friday would entail spending more than 6 billion euros, would make Libya ENI’s second-biggest shareholder after the Italian state, which has a 20.3 per cent stake.

In comments about other potential investments published in Italian newspapers on Sunday, Hafed Gaddur said he was not interested in the telecommunications sector.

“We have in mind five to six operations, among which I exclude telecommunications,” he was quoted as saying in business daily Il Sole 24 Ore. Other newspapers had him speaking of four to five operations.

Although he did not elaborate, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini told Reuters on Friday that Libya was interested in the transport, tourism and infrastructure sectors.

Important partner

Gaddur spoke to newspapers after Italy’s government said on Saturday that Libya was interested in buying a stake in ENI.

Just as sovereign funds from developing countries have recently made investments in US and European companies, Libya has emerged as a leading source of capital for Italian companies and an important energy partner.

It recently acquired nearly 5 per cent of Italian bank UniCredit.

Gaddur said the accord signed by Libya and Italy last August had made it easier for Libya to invest in Italian companies without provoking a hostile reaction.

On August 30, the countries signed an accord under which Italy would pay compensation for misdeeds during its colonial rule of Libya.

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi hailed the accord as opening a new era of cooperation.

“It allows for something that in different times would have been absolutely impossible, such as a foreign state that enters with a stake of 5 to 10 per cent in your national oil company, which is what we would want to do,” he was quoted by La Repubblica as saying.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘GULF NEWS’ (Dubai – UAE)

Posted in BANKING SYSTEMS, COMMERCE, COMMODITIES MARKET, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ENERGY, ENERGY INDUSTRIES, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, FOREIGN POLICIES, GASOLINE, HISTORY, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, ITALY, MACROECONOMY, PETROL, REFINERIES - PETROL/BIOFUELS, REGULATIONS AND BUSINESS TRANSPARENCY, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, WARS AND ARMED CONFLICTS | Leave a Comment »

NOW IS THE TIME FOR POLITICS – MORE GOVERNMENT IS THE SOLUTION, NOT THE PROBLEM, AND KEY TO SOLVING WORLD POVERTY (Brasil)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 9, 2008

DECEMBER 2008 – FEBRUARY 2009

by Luis Inácio Lula da Silva

PUBLISHED BY ‘NEWSWEEK’ (USA) – SPECIAL EDITION – ISSUES 2009

The world today is experiencing turbulence unlike anything we’ve seen in decades. The U.S. credit crisis has contaminated the international economy, and financial systems have been shaken to the core, undermining economic doctrines once treated as absolute truths.

As I told the UN. General Assembly in September, now is the time for politics, for governments to use public control and oversight to halt the economic anarchy. I welcome the actions that other countries have taken. But it will be some time before their initiatives kick in. That means more steps are needed in the meantime to safeguard the world’s most vulnerable: workers whose jobs and purchasing power are on the line, simple folk trying to save for the future, the poor who depend on the state.

The abuses and errors coming to light daily are all evidence that our existing system of international economic governance has broken down. To develop a better one, the world’s major developing countries should be called on to join the debate. We have plenty to contribute. Take Brazil. We are ready to do our part, and our economy is better prepared than most to confront the crisis. We have said no to macroeconomic adventurism. Inflation is under control and we are growing steadily. We have plenty of foreign reserves and owe nothing to the International Monetary Fund. This gives us the tools and the peace of mind to withstand the turbulence the crisis will bring.

Brazil is also better prepared to deal with the social and economic dislocation that may ensue. Consider: since I took office in 2003, more than 10 million Brazilians have joined the workforce. Some 20 million have risen out of absolute poverty. Our internal market is expanding, giving us an important economic cushion. Above all, we are redistributing income and reducing social inequality. These advances have nothing to do with luck or a favorable environment. They are the result of hard work by the Brazilian people and their government.

Weaving a broad social safety net is a central part of this endeavor. Our income-transfer program now distributes benefits to 11 million poor families nationwide, on the condition that mothers get prenatal care and parents keep their children in school and vaccinated. Our success shows that individual governments can and must play a vital role in reducing poverty and inequality. And our example in health care and education is already being made available to other countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia facing similar challenges.

That said, no state will escape this crisis on its own. Coordinated actions are needed. Yet they will succeed only if international decision making is redesigned in accordance with new realities; the institutions set up after World War II reflect a balance of power that’s long been superseded. This challenge actually goes far beyond the immediate financial storm. Other threats loom, such as hunger and poverty, the rising price and scarcity of food, the energy crisis and climate change. World commerce remains distorted, and the best means of addressing that—die Doha round of trade talks — could collapse.

Still, none of these obstacles is insurmountable. We all know the solutions, and we have the tools and the resources to succeed. Too often what we lack is political will. Many people today are comparing our current situation with the Great Depression. But we should take those parallels further and should summon the spirit of solidarity that helped create the New Deal, harnessing it to forge a new global pact to roll back poverty and extreme inequality. Contrary to what so many believe, globalization has only increased the economic and social responsibilities of governments. We must renew our commitment to strong multilateralism and we must make that multilateralism more democratic, in order to build agreements that reflect the legitimate interests of all nations. This means, among other things, enlarging the U.N. Security Council and revamping the IMF to provide effective financial support to countries in need.

The United States-by virtue of its size and its economic prowess—is and will continue to be a key player in the global search for common solutions. Washington has played such a decisive role since the end of World War II. Given the challenges and opportunities facing us today, we in the developing world hope that we can once again count on the American people to come to the defense of multilateralism, equality and justice. This is not the time for protectionism, but for progressive action born of generosity and solidarity that will forge collective answers to 21st-century challenges.

Luis Inácio Lula Da Silva is the President of Brazil.

PUBLISHED BY ‘NEWSWEEK’ (USA)

Posted in 'DOHA TALKS', A PRESIDÊNCIA, AFRICA, ASIA, BANKING SYSTEM - USA, BANKING SYSTEMS, BRASIL, CENTRAL BANKS, CIDADANIA, COMBATE À DESIGUALDADE E À EXCLUSÃO - BRASIL, COMMERCE, ECONOMIA - BRASIL, ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, EXPANSÃO ECONÔMICA, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, FLUXO DE CAPITAIS, FOREIGN POLICIES, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, G20, HISTORY, HOUSING CRISIS - USA, IMF, INDÚSTRIA DA CONSTRUÇÃO CIVIL, INFRAESTRUTURA - BRASIL, INSTITUIÇÕES DE FOMENTO NACIONAL, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, LATIN AMERICA, LUIS INÁCIO LULA DA SILVA, MACROECONOMY, O MERCADO DE TRABALHO - BRASIL, O PODER EXECUTIVO FEDERAL, OS TRABALHADORES, POLÍTICA EXTERNA - BRASIL, RECESSION, REGULATIONS AND BUSINESS TRANSPARENCY, RELAÇÕES DIPLOMÁTICAS - BRASIL, RELAÇÕES INTERNACIONAIS - BRASIL, SOUTH AMERICA, STOCK MARKETS, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, THE WORK MARKET, THE WORKERS, USA | Leave a Comment »

INTERFAITH DIALOGUE, HYPOCRISY AND PRIVATE LIVES (Lebanon)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 8, 2008

Monday, December 08, 2008

Talal Nizameddin wrote this article for THE DAILY STAR (Lebanon)

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE DAILY STAR’ (Lebanon)

First person by Talal Nizameddin

I am suffering from a total state of agnosia. Is this the same Michel Aoun who angrily vowed that he would break the head of the Syrian regime? Is this the same Syrian regime that pacified the Lebanese Army soldiers fighting under Aoun’s command and waged a ruthless campaign for 15 years to marginalize the idealistic Free Patriotic Movement supporters? At least I am almost sure that I haven’t been afflicted by amnesia. I remember when the Lebanese felt the thrill of defiance when they beeped their car horns driving through the Nahr al-Kalb tunnel leading to Jounieh from Beirut.

Letting bygones be bygones and forgiveness is a treasured feature of human nature and being an optimist, I say whatever breaks the ice and allows people to move on from a painful past should be welcomed with open hearts. But the process of forgiveness is a long and arduous one. In Judaism, Christianity and Islam it must begin with honesty, leading to confession and then as a final step absolution becomes meaningful. On a human level, in a one-to-one conflict, a discussion must take place that expresses the pain of each side so that there is an understanding of the hopes and fears of the other side before saying sorry reaches a level beyond words and touches the human within us.

It is said that since the end of the Cold War we have been living in the age of the clash of civilizations and the dialogue of faiths. In the Western and pro-Israeli media, Islam is the culprit, with the image of bloodthirsty mad Muslims rampaging through Mumbai killing randomly all those around them the latest episode of terror that does nothing to the great religion they claim to be fighting for. Among Arabs and Muslims it is the Jews who have manipulated the Holocaust tragedy to inflict suffering on Palestinians and Arabs. The Christian West is also blamed for a low-burning decadence that over time has led to the collapse of the world financial markets due to greed and the neglect of the poverty and misery of the so-called Third World.

What is strikingly noticeable about Aoun’s visit is the tour of the historic churches of Syria. The message clearly states that Christianity is safe from the harm of Muslim fanatics in secular Syria. But the manipulation of the clash of civilizations idea has been even better fine-tuned because there is now a distinction between Sunni Islam and Shiite Islam that has been dispersed in our media outlets like a wave of cluster bombs. Thus we have inter and intra-civilization clashes if we are to believe our political experts and TV commentators. Aoun and his supporters have played further on Lebanese Christian emotions, maliciously highlighting the difference between the Shiites, true Lebanese patriots who are fighting Israeli occupation and the Sunnis, bad people who are paid by the Saudis to turn Lebanon into a Wahhabi extension. Even by local standards Lebanese politics has descended to a truly low level.

In fact, the Saudi monarch courageously endorsed a United Nations gathering to promote dialogue among the world’s great religions despite criticisms from no other than Aoun and his comrades in March 8. Despite the good intentions, the Saudis may however be wasting their time. By entering into such discussions the world risks mirroring the same Lebanese facade that religious belief somehow lies at the source of conflict. It evades the powerful economic explanations and the fact that there is a huge gap in wealth between states and between individuals in the world we live in. It also, and just as importantly, diverts attention from the lack of representation, the lack of personal freedoms and the lack of human rights most people in the world endure on a daily basis. Blatant injustice, economic and political, creates extremism and not religions.

The West should not feel too self-satisfied about its state when there are calls for more social justice and greater freedoms. In Britain, as an example of an advanced European country, the state has been shown to fail time and time again in protecting children with one in four children according to a recent study suffering from sexual abuse. Crime is rampant and ethics are barely visible in the business and political realms. As in the United States, a philosophy of “grabbing hands grab what they can” has reigned for decades. Support for oppressive regimes, particularly here in the Middle East, is justified in the name of good diplomacy but the arming of parties fuelling regional conflicts is also considered good business sense.

If most sensible people agree that finding a solution to the Palestinian problem, which has nothing to do with religion, will make the Middle East and the world a better place, why on earth has it been so difficult for the world’s only superpower to convince Israel to accept a neighboring viable Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza? If the United States is truly a democracy, then I must concur with the people I despise the most, the religious fanatics, that blaming the elected leader of the United States is futile because the American people must shoulder their moral responsibility to force their government into a strategic change in their approach. The Palestinian-Israeli conflict is a political problem with a human dimension. It is simply about national self-determination and not religious fanaticism or civilizational clashes. Palestinians and Jews belong to the same religious family chart, whether they like to admit or not although undoubtedly their historic experiences have diverged.

Nowhere has the mythology of sectarian and religious warfare been more prevalent than in Lebanon. I am still surprised how many Western observers take for granted the cliches about Muslim-Christian divisions characterizing Lebanese society. In reality, Lebanon is more of a clan-based system, with chiefs of clans or communities often but not necessary being defined by their religious beliefs. It just so happens that the sect is an important form of self-identification that is manipulated for conflicts, whether it is over land or political power. That is why within Lebanese sects there are often more than one chief. Take the Maronites as an example of multiple chiefs or zaims, Suleiman Franjieh, Samir Geagea, Michel Aoun, Amin Gemayel and Dori Chamoun all godfathering their own loyal communities. Even the ideological Hizbullah recognizes the need to respect the independence of the unruly clans of Baalbek in return for acknowledgement.

In Lebanon inter-communal relations and divisions are far more complex than simple religious divides. The downside of this system is that the individual is forced into belonging into a clan, because the collective of clans are far more powerful than the formal state. Only the community can protect the individual. In Lebanon, individuals do not have private lives, as is the case in the West, because they are the property of the family, the village, the community. The pattern is the same among all of Lebanese sects. But then again, free from the regional political conflicts, the interference from outside and the flaws in the internal political system, why should we accept that the community is a lesser entity than the state in its value?

Some Western political theorists have even called for a return to communalism as a result of the social failures of the modern state. The Lebanese model offers the opportunity of creating a political system that safeguards communities and also protects the rights of individuals living within them because the hypocritical and simply false pretense of a unified centralized state has been unworkable and shows no signs of succeeding. The Lebanese want their personal liberty, social justice and their community at one and the same time. It is no easy task but where there is a will there is a way and Lebanon could present the world with an example to be emulated around the world. Lebanon’s greatness and loyalty from its citizens could be reinforced by the historic achievement of harmonious and fraternal communal cohabitation. The first step is liberation from the old slogans and working for the common good without playing on communal fears to achieve personal ambitions. When a zaim such as Aoun tours with an open heart the various neighborhoods of Beirut rather than the churches of Syria we would have began reaching the final step toward that sacred goal.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE DAILY STAR’ (Lebanon)

Posted in AL QAEDA, CHRISTIANISM, EUROPE, FOREIGN POLICIES, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND CONSCIENCE, HISTORY, HUMAN RIGHTS, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, ISLAM, JUDAISM, LEBANON, PALESTINE, RELIGIONS, SAUDI ARABIA, SYRIA, THE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN STRUGGLE, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, THE LEBANESE CIVIL STRUGGLE, THE MEDIA (US AND FOREIGN), THE UNITED NATIONS, UNITED KINGDOM, USA, WARS AND ARMED CONFLICTS | Leave a Comment »

BEYOND THE BAILOUT STATE

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 2, 2008

First Published 2008-12-02

by Steve Fraser – (*)

PUBLISHED BY ‘THE MIDDLE EAST ON LINE’

The American way of life, including its economy of mass consumption, has depended on maintaining the country’s global preeminence by any means possible: economic, political, and, in the end, military, says Steve Fraser.

Roosevelt’s Brain Trust vs Obama’s Brainiacs

On a December day in 1932, with the country prostrate under the weight of the Great Depression, ex-president Calvin Coolidge — who had presided over the reckless stock market boom of the Jazz Age Twenties (and famously declaimed that “the business of America is business”) – confided to a friend: “We are in a new era to which I do not belong.” He punctuated those words, a few weeks later, by dying.

A similar premonition grips the popular imagination today. A new era beckons. No person has been more responsible for arousing that expectation than President-elect Barack Obama. From beginning to end, his presidential campaign was born aloft by invocations of the “fierce urgency of now,” by “change we can believe in,” by “yes, we can!” and by the obvious significance of his race and generation. Not surprisingly then, as the gravity of the national economic calamity has become terrifyingly clearer, yearnings for salvation have attached themselves ever more firmly to the incoming administration.

This is as it should be – and as it once was. When in March 1933, a few months after Coolidge gave up the ghost, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was inaugurated president, people looked forward to audacious changes, even if they had little or no idea just what, in concrete terms, that might mean. If Coolidge, an iconic representative of the old order, knew that the ancien régime was dead, millions of ordinary Americans had drawn the same conclusion years earlier. Full of fear, depressed and disillusioned, they nonetheless had an appetite for the untried. Like Obama, FDR had, during his campaign, encouraged feverish hopes with no less vaporous references to a “new deal” for Americans.

Brain Trust vs Brainiacs

Yet today, something is amiss. Even if everyone is now using the Great Depression and the New Deal as benchmarks for what we’re living through, Act I of the new script has already veered away from the original.

A suffocating political and intellectual provincialism has captured the new administration in embryo. Instead of embracing a sense of adventurousness, a readiness to break with the past so enthusiastically promoted during the campaign, Obama seems overcome with inhibitions and fears.

Practically without exception he has chosen to staff his government at its highest levels with refugees from the Clinton years. This is emphatically true in the realms of foreign and economic policy. It would, in fact, be hard to find an original idea among the new appointees being called to power in those realms – some way of looking at the American empire abroad or the structure of power and wealth at home that departs radically from views in circulation a decade or more ago. A team photo of Obama’s key cabinet and other appointments at Treasury, Health and Human Services, Commerce, the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board, the State Department, the Pentagon, the National Security Council, and in the US Intelligence Community, not to speak of senior advisory posts around the President himself, could practically have been teleported from perhaps the year 1995.

Recycled Clintonism is recycled neo-liberalism. This is change only the brainiacs from Hyde Park and Harvard Square could believe in. Only the experts could get hot under the collar about the slight differences between “behavioral economics” (the latest academic fad that fascinates some high level Obama-ites) and straight-up neo-liberal deference to the market. And here’s the sobering thing: despite the grotesque extremism of the Bush years, neo-liberalism also served as its ideological magnetic north.

Is this parochialism, this timorousness and lack of imagination, inevitable in a period like our own, when the unknown looms menacingly and one natural reaction is certainly to draw back, to find refuge in the familiar? Here, the New Deal years can be instructive.

Roosevelt was no radical; indeed, he shared many of the conservative convictions of his class and times. He believed deeply in both balanced budgets and the demoralizing effects of relief on the poor. He tried mightily to rally the business community to his side. For him, the labor movement was terra incognita and – though it may be hard to believe today – played no role in his initial policy and political calculations. Nonetheless, right from the beginning, Roosevelt cobbled together a cabinet and circle of advisers strikingly heterogeneous in its views, one that, by comparison, makes Obama’s inner sanctum, as it is developing today, look like a sectarian cult.

Heterogeneous does not mean radical. Some of FDR’s early appointments – as at the Treasury Department – were die-hard conservatives. Jesse Jones, who ran the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, a Hoover administration creation, retained by FDR, that had been designed to rescue tottering banks, railroads, and other enterprises too big to fail, was a practitioner of business-friendly bailout capitalism before present Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson was even born.

But there was also Henry Wallace as Secretary of Agriculture, a Midwestern progressive who would become the standard bearer for the most left-leaning segments of the New Deal coalition. He was joined at the Agriculture Department — far more important then than now – by men like Mordecai Ezekiel, who was prepared to challenge the power of the country’s landed oligarchs.

Then there were corporatists like Raymond Moley, Donald Richberg, and General Hugh Johnson. Moley was an original member of FDR’s legendary “brain trust” (a small group of the President’s most influential advisers who often held no official government position). Richberg and Johnson helped design and run the National Recovery Administration (the New Deal’s first and failed attempt at industrial recovery). All three men were partial to the interests of the country’s peak corporations. All three wanted them released from the strictures of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act so that they could collaborate in setting prices and wages to arrest the killing deflation that gripped the economy. But they also wanted these corporate behemoths and the codes of competition they promulgated subjected to government oversight and restraints.

Meanwhile, Felix Frankfurter (another confidant of FDR’s and a future Supreme Court justice), aided by the behind-the-scenes efforts of Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, fiercely contested the influence of the corporatists within the new administration, favoring anti-trust and then-new Keynesian approaches to economic recovery. Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins used her extensive ties to the social work community and the labor movement to keep an otherwise tone-deaf president apprised of portentous rumblings from that quarter. In this fashion, she eased the way for the passage of the Wagner Act that legislated the right to organize and bargain collectively, and that ended the reign of industrial autocracy in the workplace.

Roosevelt’s “brain trust” also included Rexford Tugwell. He was an avid proponent of government economic planning. Another founding member of the “brain trust” was Adolph Berle, who had published a bestselling, scathing indictment of the financial and social irresponsibility of the corporate elite just before FDR assumed office.

People like Tugwell and others, including future Federal Reserve Board chairman Marriner Eccles, were believers in Keynesian deficit spending as the road to recovery and argued fiercely for this position within the inner councils of the administration, even while Roosevelt himself remained, until later in his presidency, an orthodox budget balancer.

All of these people – the corporatists and the Keynesians, the planners and the anti-trusters – were there at the creation. They often came to blows. A genuine administration of “rivals” didn’t faze FDR. He was deft at borrowing all of, or pieces of, their ideas, then jettisoning some when they didn’t work, and playing one faction against another in a remarkable display of political agility. Roosevelt’s tolerance of real differences stands in stark contrast to the new administration’s cloning of the Clinton-era brainiacs.

It was this openness to a variety of often untested solutions – including at that point Keynesianism – that helped give the New Deal the flexibility to adjust to shifts in the country’s political chemistry in the worst of times. If the New Deal came to represent a watershed in American history, it was in part due to the capaciousness of its imagination, its experimental elasticity, and its willingness to venture beyond the orthodox. Many failures were born of this, but so, too, many enduring triumphs.

Beyond the Bailout State

Why, at least so far, is the Obama approach so different? Some of it no doubt has to do with the same native caution that caused FDR to navigate carefully in treacherous waters. But some of it may result from the fallout of history. Because the Great Depression and the New Deal happened, nothing can ever really be the same again.

We are accustomed to thinking of the Bush years – maybe even the whole era from the presidency of Ronald Reagan on – as a throwback to the 1920s or even the laissez-faire golden years of the Gilded Age of the late nineteenth century. In some respects, that’s probably accurate, but in at least one critical way it’s not. Back in those days, faced with a potentially terminal financial crisis, the government did nothing, simply letting the economy plunge into depression. This happened repeatedly until 1929, when it happened again.

Since the New Deal, however, inaction has ceased to be a viable option for Washington. State intervention to prevent catastrophe has become an unspoken axiom of political life in perilous times. Of course, thanks to regulatory mechanisms installed during the New Deal years, there was no need to engage in heroic rescues – not, at least, until the triumph of deregulation in our own time.

Then crises began to erupt with ever greater frequency – the stock market crash of 1987, the savings and loan collapse at the end of that decade, the massive Latin American debt defaults of the early 1990s, the collapse of the economies of the Asian “tigers” in the mid-1990s, the near bankruptcy of the then-huge hedge fund, Long Term Capital Management, later in that decade, the dot-com implosion at the turn the century, climaxing with the general global collapse of the present moment. Beginning perhaps with the bailout of the Chrysler Corporation in the late 1970s, these recurring crises have been met with increasingly strenuous efforts to stop the bleeding by what some have called “the bailout state.”

The Resolution Trust Corporation, created to rescue the savings and loan industry, first institutionalized what Kevin Phillips has since described as a new political economy of “financial mercantilism.” Under this new order the state stands ready to backstop the private sector – or at least the financial sub-sector which, for the past quarter century, has been the driving engine of economic growth – whenever it undergoes severe stress.

Today, the starting point for all mainstream policymakers, even those who otherwise preach the virtues of the free market and the evils of big government, is the active intervention of the state to prevent the failure of private-sector institutions considered “too big to fail” (as with most recently Citigroup and the insurance company AIG). So, too, the tolerance level for deficit spending, not only for military purposes but, in extremis, to help stop ordinary people from going under, is infinitely higher than in 1932. Ronald Reagan was prepared to live with such spending, if necessary, even as he removed portraits of Thomas Jefferson and Harry S. Truman from the Cabinet Room and replaced them with a canvas of Calvin Coolidge.

The question for our “new era” – not one our New Deal ancestors would have thought to ask — has become: How do we get beyond the bailout state? This is one crucial realm where genuinely new thinking and new ideas are badly needed.

At the moment, as best we can make out, the bailout state is being managed in secret and apparently in the interests, above all, of those who run the financial institutions being “rescued.” Often, we don’t actually know who is getting what from the Federal Reserve and the Treasury, or on what terms, or even which institutions are being helped and which aren’t, or often what our public monies are actually being used for.

What we do know, however, is anything but encouraging. It includes tax exemptions for merging banks, prices for public-equity stakes in failing outfits that far exceed what is being paid by governments (or even private investors) abroad for similar holdings. Add to this a stark lack of accountability, aggravated by the fact that the US government has neither voting rights (nor even a voice) on boards of directors whose firms would be in bankruptcy court without Washington’s aid.

Living in an Empire of Depression

Are we, then, witnessing the birth of some warped, exceedingly partial version of state capitalism — partial, that is, to the resuscitation of the old order? If so, lurking within this string of bum deals might there not be a great opportunity? Putting the economy and country back together will require massive resources directed toward common purposes. There is no more suitable means of mobilizing and steering those resources than the institutions of democratic government.

Under the present dispensation, the bailout state makes the government the handmaiden of the financial sector. Under a new one, the tables might be turned. But who will speak for that option within the limited councils of the Obama team?

A real democratic nationalization of the banks – good value for our money rather than good money to add to their value – should be part of the policy agenda up for discussion in the Obama era. As things now stand, the public supplies the loans and the investment capital, but the key decisions about how they are to be deployed remain in private hands. A democratic version of nationalizing the financial system would transfer these critical decisions to new institutions created by the Congress and designed to pursue public, not private, objectives. How to subject the flow of credit and investment capital to public control ought to be on the drawing boards if we are to look beyond the old New Deal to a new one.

Or, for instance, if we are to bail out the auto industry, which we should — millions of jobs, businesses, communities, and what’s left of once powerful and proud unions are at stake – then why not talk about its nationalization, too? Why not create a representative body of workers, consumers, environmentalists, suppliers, and other interested parties to supervise the industry’s reorganization and retooling to produce, just as the president-elect says he wants, new green means of transportation – and not just cars?

Why not apply the same model to the rehabilitation of the nation’s infrastructure; indeed, why not to the reindustrialization of the country as a whole? If, as so many commentators are now claiming, what lies ahead is the kind of massive, crippling deflation characteristic of such crises, then why not consider creating democratic mechanisms to impose an incomes policy on wages and prices that works against that deflation?

Overseas, if everything isn’t up for discussion – and it most certainly isn’t – it ought to be. What happens there bears directly on our future here at home. After all, we live in the empire of depression. America’s favorite export for more than a decade has been a toxic line-up of securitized debt. Having ingested it in lethal amounts, every economy in the world from Iceland’s and Germany’s to Russia’s and Indonesia’s is either folding up or threatening to fold up like an accordion under the pressure of economic disaster.

Until now, the American way of life, including its economy of mass consumption, has depended on maintaining the country’s global preeminence by any means possible: economic, political, and, in the end, military. The news of the Bush years was that, in this mix, Washington reached for its six-guns so much more quickly.

A global depression will challenge that fundamental hierarchy in every conceivable way. The United States can try to recapture its imperiled hegemony by methods familiar to the Obama-Clinton-Bush (the father) foreign policy establishment, that is by using the country’s waning but still intimidating economic and military muscle. But that’s a devil’s game played at exorbitant cost which will further imperil the domestic economy.

It might, of course, be possible, as in domestic affairs, to try something new, something that embraces the public redevelopment of America in concert with the global South. This would entail at a minimum a radical break with the “Washington Consensus” of the Clinton years in which the United States insisted that the rest of the world conform to its free market model of economic behavior. It would establish multilateral mechanisms for regulating the flow of investment capital and severe penalties and restrictions on speculation in international markets. Most of all, it would mean lifting the strangulating grip of American military might that now girdles the globe.

All of this would require a capacity for re-imagining foreign affairs as something other than a zero-sum game. So far, nothing in Obama’s line-up of foreign policy and national security mandarins suggests this kind of potential policy deviance. Again, no Rooseveltian “brain trust” is in sight, even though unorthodoxies are called for, not just because of the hopes Obama’s victory have aroused, but because of the urgency of our present circumstances.

If original thinking doesn’t find a home somewhere within this forming administration soon, it will be an omen of an even more troubled future to come, when options not even being considered today may be unavailable tomorrow. Certainly, Americans ought to expect something better than a trip down (the grimmest of) memory lanes into the failed neo-liberalism of yesteryear.

(*) – Steve Fraser is a visiting professor at New York University and the author of Wall Street: America’s Dream Palace. He is a regular contributor to TomDispatch.com and co-founder of the American Empire Project series (Metropolitan Books).

Copyright 2008 Steve Fraser

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Posted in BANKING SYSTEM - USA, BANKRUPTCIES - USA, BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA -(DEC. 2008/JAN. 2009), ECONOMIC CONJUNCTURE, ECONOMY, ECONOMY - USA, FINANCIAL CRISIS - USA - 2008/2009, FINANCIAL CRISIS 2008/2009, FINANCIAL MARKETS, FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, HISTORY, HOUSING CRISIS - USA, INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION - USA, INDUSTRIES - USA, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, NATIONAL WORK FORCES, RECESSION, REGULATIONS AND BUSINESS TRANSPARENCY, STOCK MARKETS, THE FLOW OF INVESTMENTS, THE LAST DAYS OF GEORGE WALKER BUSH - 2008/Jan. 2009, THE PRESIDENCY - USA, THE WORK MARKET, THE WORKERS, USA | Leave a Comment »

“AMERICA FIRST”

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 1, 2008

PUBLISHED BY TIME CAPSULE/1940 – Times Magazine (1968)

PAGE 23

Last CARTOON BY DR. SEUSSJune, a Yale law student named Robert Douglas Stuart Jr. deplored Yale University President Charles Seymour’s espousal of open aid to the Allies, believing it would lead the U.S. into war. Furthermore, he thought Seymour’s views were not those of the student body and got up a poll showing 3-to-l on his side. General Robert E. Wood (chairman of Sears, Roebuck) heard of the Yale-man’s activities, asked Stuart to visit him. Out of their conversation grew the America First Committee.

Last week General Wood’s committee had 60,000 members, eleven local chapters and an organization drive that was going like a house afire. In Washington, national committee members included such strange company as socially conscientious Kathryn Lewis (daughter of John L.) and socially conspicuous Alice Roosevelt Longworth. Just what the organization was after remained obscure: it was easier to see what it was against. And what the committee was against was getting the U.S. into the war. General Wood last week adduced some further arguments to the National Association of Manufacturers’ meeting in Manhattan:

1) Germany cannot invade America even if Britain falls.

2) The U.S. can and will do business with the Nazis even if necessary to cartelize the trade.

3) If the U.S. convoys British shipping, that act “is sure to put us in the conflict.”

Posted in FOREIGN POLICIES - USA, FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND CONSCIENCE, GERMANY, HISTORY, HUMAN RIGHTS, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, THE MEDIA (US AND FOREIGN), USA, USA HUMOR, WARS AND ARMED CONFLICTS | Leave a Comment »

STORIA DELLE RIVOLUZIONI DEL XX SECOLO – LA RIVOLTA DEI MAU-MAU (Kenya)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 1, 2008

Romano Ledda – A cura di Roberto Bonchio

(1628, 1629)

Mentre l’Africa nera Nairobi. Ottobre 1952. Mau-mau arrestati dalla polizia inglese. I Mau-mau erano una setta segreta a sfondo nazionalistico-religioso costituitasi nel Kenya tra le populazioni Kikuyu, attorno al 1948; un campo di concentramento; un villagio, presunta centrale dei Mau-mau, dato alle fiamme dalle trupe inglesioccidentale ed equatoriale raggiunse l’indipendenza entro l’anno 1960, quella orientale, per lo piú a dominazione inglese, dovette attendere piú a lungo. Qui infatti ai consueti meccanismi di sfruttamento coloniale, si aggiungeva in generale la presenza di massicce immigrazioni bianche, che costituirono (e costituiscono ancora oggi nella Rhodesia dei sud e, sia puré con caratteristiche storiche diverse, nel Sud África) un forte ostacolo alia stessa política neocoloniale del’Inghilterra. Fu questa presenza di bianchi, che si era-no impadroniti delle terre migliori, ricacciando gli africani su quelle sterili, a provocare quella che forse è l’unica grande rivolta contadina del’Africa nera: la guerra che i Mau-mau condussero per tre anni contro il coloni bianchi dei Kenya.

La rivolta dei Mau-mau esplose con primitiva violenza nel 1952. Da trent’anni gli africani chiedevano terre migliori, la fine della discriminazione razziale, e il superamento di condizioni di vita che avevano dei bestiale. Come risposta ebbero un rigurgito di violenza e di crudeltà razziali. La rivolta partita dal gruppo étnico Kikuyu fu la legittima reazione al regime instaurato dai coloni. Essa colpi con durezza lê ricche fattorie degli « altipiani bianchi », rispose a colpo su colpo, porto dovunque il terrore, anche per quel suo carattere primitivo che circondava ogni azione di rappresaglia o di attacco contro i « signori bianchi », dei rituali magici delia tradizione tribale. Ma che non si trattasse di semplici bande criminali, come è stato troppo spesso detto, bensì di un movimento con profonde radici tra i contadini poveri dei Kenya, è dimostrato dal fatto che ci vollero ben tre anni per reprimere la rivolta. Fu una delle repressioni più brutali della storia coloniale. Si ripeterono qui le violenze, gli arbitri, le crudeltà dei francesi in Algeria. Jomo Kenyatta, presunto capo delia rivolta, venne arrestato confinato a tempo indefinito. Migliaia di kikuyu vennero massacrati, i villaggi incendiati, intere tribù ricacciate nelle foreste. Ma quando la rivolta fu alfine domata, il volto dei Kenya era ormai cambiato, e iniziò un processo « costituzionale » verso l’indipenza, ottenuta il 12 dicembre 1963. II partito di Kenyatta, il Kenya African National Union (KA-NU) assunse la direzione dei paese.

Prima dei Kenya, era divenuto indipendente, il 9 dicembre 1961, il Tanganika. E qui maturò uno dei regimi più avanzati dell’África nera, che ebbe ai suo centro il Tankanika African National Union (TANU), fondato nel 1954 da Julius Nyerere, attualmente presidente della Tanzania. Anche nel Tanganika il carattere nazionale, non tribale, dei partito fu determinante nell’orientare il paese verso programmi sociali ed economici, ispirati ad un nazionalismo progressista con elementi di socialismo. Un secondo elemento influi, però, in modo rilevante nella radicalizzazione degli orientamenti del TANU. Il 12 gennaio 1964 scoppiò una rivoluzione popolare nella vicina isola di Zanzibar. L’isola, che aveva ottenuto l’indipendenza nel dicembre 1963, era dominata dal sultano Ben Abdullah, sostenuto dagli inglesi, e rappresentante la minoranza araba delia popolazione. Il partito Umma, diretto da Mohammed Babu, a base prevalentemente contadina, si impadroni dei potere con una insurrezione armata, e il 18 gennaio proclamo la repubblica popolare di Zanzibar. Nell’aprile dello stesso anno, iniziarono le trattative tra il governo di Nyerere e quello di Zanzibar per la costituzione di un único Stato. In breve l’accordo fu raggiunto e il 25 aprile 1964 sorse la repubblica di Tanzania, con un orientamento político generale che si richiama esplicitamente al socialismo. L’accesso all’indipendenza dei possedimenti inglesi deli’África orientale si compì con una certa rapidità: il 9 ottobre 1962 divenne indipendente l’Uganda, il 6 luglio 1964 il Nyassaland, col nome di Malawi, il 24 ottobre 1964 la Rhodesia dei Nord, col nome di Zâmbia.

Posted in AFRICA, ENGLAND, FOREIGN POLICIES, FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND CONSCIENCE, HISTORY, HUMAN RIGHTS, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, KENYA, UNITED KINGDOM, WARS AND ARMED CONFLICTS | Leave a Comment »

THE WEIMAR CHRONICLE – Chapter 6

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 30, 2008

by Alex de Jonge

INFLATION

The year 1923 has a special and dreadful connotation in German history, for it was the year of the great inflation. If defeat, abdication and revolution had begun to undermine the traditional values of German culture, then the inflation finished the process so completely that in the end there were no such values left. By November 1918 there were 184.8 marks to the pound. By late November 1923 there were 18,000,000,000,000. Although the mark was eventually "restored," and the period of inflation succeeded by a time of relative prosperity for many people, life for anyone who had lived through the lunatic year of 1923 could never be the same again.

Such a cataclysmic loss of a currency’s value can never be ascribed to a single cause. Once confidence goes, the process of decline is a self-feeding one. By late 1923 no one would hold German money one moment longer than it was really necessary. It was essential to convert it into something, some object, within minutes of receiving it, if one were not to see it lose all value in a world in which prices were being marked up by 20 percent every day.

If we go back beyond the immediate cause of hyperinflation—beyond a total lack of confidence in a currency that would consequently never "find its floor," however undervalued it might appear—we find that passive resistance in the Ruhr was a major factor. Effective loss of the entire Ruhr output weakened the mark disastrously, encouraging dealers to speculate against it, since the balance of payments was bound to show a vast deficit. Confidence in the currency could only begin to be restored when resistance ended late in 1923.

It has been the "patriotic" view that reparations were also a significant factor. Certainly they constituted a steady drain upon the nation’s resources, a drain for which it got no return. But reparations alone would not have brought about hyperinflation. There were still other causes. Sefton Delmer believes that the true explanation lay in Germany’s financing of the war. She had done so very largely on credit, and was thereafter obliged to run a gigantic deficit. There were other more immediate causes, such as a total incomprehension of the situation on the part of Havenstein, director of the Reichsbank. Failing to understand why the currency was falling, he was content to blame it upon forces beyond his control—reparations—and attempted to deal with the situation by stepping up the money supply!

The first British ambassador to the Weimar Republic, Lord d’Abernon, had no illusions about the economic plight of Germany. He observed in his diary that "German finance is dying beyond its means," 1 and no one seemed to know why. In the meantime, he noted:

Currency experts have a sad fate. During life they empty every room in which they hold forth, and death finds them in madhouses. Berlin has been deluged with these gentlemen for the last week and still survives; but the currency has gone to the devil.2

He saw the Reichsbank compounding its own mistakes:

In the whole course of history, no dog has run after its own tail with the speed of the Reichsbank. The discredit they throw on their own notes increases even faster than the volume of the notes in circulation. The effect is greater than the cause; the tail goes faster than the dog.3

By October 1923 it cost more to print a note than the note was worth. Nevertheless Havenstein mobilized all the printing resources that he could. Some of the presses of the Ullstein newspaper and publishing group were even commandeered by the mint and turned to the printing of money. Havenstein made regular announcements to the Reichstag to the effect that all was well since print capacity was increasing. By August 1923 he was able to print in a day a sum equivalent to two-thirds of the money in circulation. Needless to say, as an anti-inflationary policy, his measures failed.

In his documentary novel Success, Leon Feuchtwanger has suggested that inflation had less obvious and more sinister causes. Certainly it had its beneficiaries as well as its victims. Anyone living on a pension or on fixed-interest investments—the small and cautious investor—was wiped out. Savings disappeared overnight. Pensions, annuities, government stocks, debentures, the usual investments of a careful middle class, lost all value. In the meantime big business, and export business in particular, prospered. It was so easy to get a bank loan, use it to acquire assets, and repay the loan a few months later for a tiny proportion of the original. Factory owners and agriculturalists who had issued loan stock or raised gold mortgages on their properties saw themselves released from those obligations in the same way, paying them off with worthless currency on the principle that "mark equals mark." It would be rash to suggest, as Feuchtwanger hints, that the occupation of the Ruhr was planned by industrialists to create an inflation which could only be to their benefit. Yet we should remember that Stinnes, the multi-millionaire, had both predicted that occupation and ended up the owner of more than 1,500 enterprises. It should also be remembered that some businessmen had a distinctly strange view of the shareholder. He was regarded by many as a burdensome nuisance, a drag upon their enterprise. He was the enemy and they were quite happy to see him wiped out to their benefit. Inflation was their chance to smash him. Witness the behavior of a banker at a shareholders’ meeting at which it was suggested he should make a greater distribution of profit: "Why should I throw away my good money for the benefit of people whom I do not know?"4

The ingenious businessman had many ways of turning inflation to good account. Thus employees had to pay income tax weekly. Employers paid their tax yearly upon profits which were almost impossible to assess. They would exploit the situation of a smaller businessman, obliged to offer six to eight weeks of credit to keep his customers, by insisting on payment in cash. The delay between paying for the goods and reselling them eroded any profit the small man might make, while the big supplier prospered.5

Whether or not the industrialists actually caused inflation, their visible prosperity made them detested by an otherwise impoverished nation. Hugo Stinnes became an almost legendary embodiment of speculation and evil. Alec Swan remembers how hungry Germans would stare at prosperous fellow countrymen in fur coats, sullenly muttering "Fabrikbesitzer" (factory owner) at them. The term had become an insult and an expression of envy at one and the same time.

Hyperinflation created social chaos on an extraordinary scale. As soon as one was paid, one rushed off to the shops and bought absolutely anything in exchange for paper about to become worthless. If a woman had the misfortune to have a husband working away from home and sending money through the post, the money was virtually without value by the time it arrived. Workers were paid once, then twice, then five times a week with an ever-depreciating currency. By November 1923 real wages were down 25 percent compared with 1913, and envelopes were not big enough to accommodate all the stamps needed to mail them; the excess stamps were stuck to separate sheets affixed to the letter.6 Normal commercial transactions became virtually impossible. One luckless author received a sizable advance on a work only to find that within a week it was just enough to pay the postage on the manuscript. 7 By late 1923 it was not unusual to find 100,000 mark notes in the gutter, tossed there by contemptuous beggars at a time when $50 could buy a row of houses in Berlin’s smartest street.8

A Berlin couple who were about to celebrate their golden wedding received an official letter advising them that the mayor, in accordance with Prussian custom, would call and present them with a donation of money.

Next morning the mayor, accompanied by several aldermen in picturesque robes, arrived at the aged couple’s house, and solemnly handed over in the name of the Prussian State 1,000,000,000,000 marks or one halfpenny.9

The banks were flourishing, however. They found it necessary to build annexes and would regularly advertise for more staff, especially bookkeepers "good with zeros." Alec Swan knew a girl who worked in a bank in Bonn. She told him that it eventually became impossible to count out the enormous numbers of notes required for a "modest" withdrawal, and the banks had to reconcile themselves to issuing banknotes by their weight.

By the autumn of 1923 the currency had virtually broken down. Cities and even individual businesses would print their own notes, secured by food stocks, or even the objects the money was printed on. Notes were issued on leather, porcelain, even lace, with the idea that the object itself was guarantee of the value of the "coin."10 It was a view of the relationship between monetary and real value that took one back five hundred years. Germany had become a barter society; the Middle Ages had returned. Shoe factories would pay their workers in bonds for shoes, which were negotiable. Theaters carried signs advertising the cheapest seats for two eggs, the most expensive for a few ounces of butter which was the most negotiable of all commodities. It was so precious that the very rich, such as Stinnes, used to take a traveling butter dish with them when they put up at Berlin’s smartest hotel.11 A pound of butter attained "fantastic value." It could purchase a pair of boots, trousers made to measure, a portrait, a semester’s schooling, or even love. A young girl stayed out late one night while her parents waited up anxiously. When she came in at four in the morning, her mother prevented her father from taking a strap to her by showing him the pound of butter that she had "earned."12 Boots were also highly negotiable: "The immense paper value of a pair of boots renders it hazardous for the traveler to leave them outside the door of his bedroom at his hotel.". 13

Thieves grew more enterprising still in their search for a hedge against inflation.

Even the mailboxes are plundered for the sake of the stamps attached to the letters. Door handles and metal facings are torn from doors; telephone and telegraph wires are stolen wholesale and the lead removed from roofs.14

In Berlin all metal statues were removed from public places because they constituted too great a temptation to an ever-increasing number of thieves. One of the consequences of the soaring crime rate was a shortage of prison accommodation. Criminals given short sentences were released and told to reapply for admission in due course.15

It was always possible that one might discover an unexpected source of wealth. A Munich newspaperman was going through his attic when he came upon a set of partly gold dentures, once the property of his grandmother, long since dead. He was able to live royally upon the proceeds of the sale for several weeks.16

The period threw up other anomalies. Rents on old houses were fixed by law, while those on new ones were exorbitantly high. As a result in many parts of Germany housing was literally rationed. If one were fortunate enough to live in old rented property, one lived virtually free. The landlord, however, suffered dreadfully: to repair a window might cost him the equivalent of a whole month’s rent. Thus yet another of the traditional modes of safe investment, renting property, proved a disaster. Hitherto well-to-do middle-class families found it necessary to take in lodgers to make ends meet. The practice was so widespread that not to do so attracted unfavorable attention suggesting that one was a profiteer. Pearl S. Buck records the case of one family where the woman of the house reluctantly confessed to her husband that they would have to have a lodger. He greeted the news not with anger, but with a sigh of relief: the neighbors had begun to talk. Real property lost its value like everything else. Pearl Buck notes the case of a couple selling their house in order to marry their daughter in some kind of style. More telling is a famous song of inflation:

We are drinking away our grandma’s

Little capital

And her first and second mortgage too.17

As noted in the famous and highly intelligent paper the Weltbühne, the song picked out the difference between the "old" generation of grandparents who had scraped and saved carefully in order to acquire the security of a house, and the "new generation" for whom there could be no security any more, who "raided capital" or what was left of it, and were prepared to go to any lengths to enjoy themselves. Where their parents’ lives had been structured with certainties, the only certainty that they possessed was that saving was a form of madness.

Not all Germans suffered, of course. Late in 1923 Hugo Stinnes did what he could to alleviate the misery of his fellow countrymen by the magnanimous decision to double his tipping rate in view of the inflation.18 Along with rents, rail fares were also fixed and did not go up in proportion to inflation. Consequently, travel appeared absurdly cheap. Alec Swan recalls crossing Germany in the greatest style for a handful of copper coins. Yet even this was beyond the means of most Germans. A German train in 1923 would consist of several first-class carriages occupied entirely by comfortable foreigners, and a series of run-down third-class carriages crammed to bursting with impoverished and wretched Germans.

Although the shops were full of food, no one could afford it except foreigners. Germans often had to be content with food not normally thought of as fit for human consumption. In Hamburg there were riots when it was discovered that the local canning factory was using cats and rats for its preserved meats. Sausage factories also made much use of cat and horse meat.19 Moreover, as we shall see, some of the most famous mass murderers of the age used to preserve and sell the meat of their victims in a combination of savagery and an almost sexual obsession with food that mythologizes much of the darkness and the violence that were latent in the mood of Weimar.

If 1923 was a bad year for the Germans it was an annus mirabilis for foreigners. Inflation restored the sinking morale of the army of occupation ; small wonder when every private found himself a rich man overnight. In Cologne an English girl took lessons from the prima donna of the opera for sixpence a lesson. When she insisted that in future she pay a shilling, the prima donna wept with delight.20 Shopping became a way of life: "All through that autumn and winter whenever we felt hipped we went out and bought something. It was a relaxation limited at home, unlimited in the Rhineland.". 21

Germany was suddenly infested with foreigners. It has been suggested that the English actually sent their unemployed out and put them up in hotels because it was cheaper than paying out the dole.22 Alec Swan stayed with his family in a pension in Bonn. They had moved to Germany because life was so much cheaper there. The inmates of Swan’s pension were mostly foreigners of strange complexion, such as the Swede suffering from tertiary syphilis who would bombard heads of state with urgent telegrams. There was also an extremely fat German, christened Glaxo by the Swans. He was in the habit of helping himself to gigantic mounds of the spaghetti which formed the staple diet of the common table, saying apologetically, "My stomach, my stomach," with a hand upon the offending organ, as a form of explanation.

To find oneself suddenly wealthy in the midst of tremendous hardship proved rather unsettling. Inflation corrupted foreigners almost as much as the Germans. The English in Cologne could think of nothing else.

They talked with sparkling eyes and a heightened color, in the banks, the streets, the shops, the restaurants, any public place, with Germans standing around gazing at them.

Scruples were on the whok overwhelmed by the sudden onslaught of wealth and purchasing power beyond one’s dreams.23

As Alec Swan put it:

You felt yourself superior to the others, and at the same time you realized that it was not quite justified. When we went to Bellingshausen, which was a sort of wine place near Königswinter, we would start drinking in the afternoon. I would always order champagne and my Dutch friend would shake his head in disapproval. We’d have two ice buckets: he with some Rhine wine and me with German champagne. It was really rather ridiculous for a chap of my age to drink champagne on his own.

Being as wealthy as that was an extraordinary feeling, although there were many things you couldn’t get in Germany. It was impossible to buy a decent hat, for instance. But you could have any food you wanted if you could pay for it. I haven’t eaten anything like as well as that in my life. I used to go to the Königshalle (that was the big café in Bonn) at eleven o’clock in the morning for a Frühschoppen and a Bergmann’s Stückchen, a large piece of toast with fresh shrimps and mayonnaise. For a German that would have been quite impossible.

I paid two million marks for a glass of beer. You changed as little money as you could every day. No, one did not feel guilty, one felt it was perfectly normal, a gift from the gods. Of course there was hatred in the air, and I dare say a lot of resentment against foreigners, but we never noticed it. They were still beaten, you see, a bit under and occupied.

My mother did buy meat for three or four German families. I remember I bought an air gun, and, when I grew tired of it, I gave it to my German teacher’s son, with some pellets. Some time later the woman came to me in tears saying the boy had run out of pellets, and they could not afford to buy any more.

On another occasion Swan, all of twenty-two at the time, took the head of the Leipzig book fair out for a meal and looked on incredulously as the elderly and eminent bookseller cast dignity to the winds and started to eat as if he had not had a meal in months.

Stories of money changing and currency speculation are legion. Bureaux de change were to be found in every shop, apartment block, hairdresser’s, tobacconist’s. An Englishman named Sandford Griffith remembers having to visit a number of cities in the Ruhr which had local currencies. He stopped at a dealer’s to change some money, but when he produced a pound note the dealer was so overcome by such wealth that he simply waved a hand at his stock of currency and invited the astonished Englishman to help himself.24 Foreigners acquired antiques and objets de valeur at rock-bottom prices. A favorite trick was to buy in the morning with a down payment, saying that one would fetch the rest of the money from the bank. By waiting until the new exchange rate had come out at noon before changing one’s money into marks, an extra profit could be made on the amount that the mark had fallen since the day before.25

The population responded to the foreign onslaught with a double pricing system. Shops would make their prices up for foreigners. It would cost a tourist 200 marks to visit Potsdam, when it cost a German 25. Some shops simply declined to sell to foreigners at all.26 In Berlin a Schlemmsteuer, or tax on gluttony, was appended to all meals taken in luxury restaurants.27

Foreign embassies were also major beneficiaries of inflation, giving lavish banquets for virtually nothing. Indeed the Weltbühne noted with great resentment the presence of foreign legations of nations so insignificant that they would never hitherto have dreamed of being represented in Germany.28 The spectacle of foreigners of all nations, living grotesquely well and eating beyond their fill in the middle of an impoverished and starving Germany did not encourage the Germans to rally to the causes of pacificism and internationalism. The apparent reason for their inflation was there for all to see, occupying the Ruhr.

The surface manifestations of inflation were unnerving enough, but its effect upon behavior, values and morals were to reach very deep indeed, persisting for years after the stabilization of the mark, right up to the moment when Hitler came to power. The middle class—civil servants, professional men, academics—which had stood for stability, social respectability, cultural continuity, and constituted a conservative and restraining influence was wiped out. A French author met a threadbare and dignified old couple in spotless but well-worn prewar clothes in a cafe. They ordered two clear soups and one beer, eating as if they were famished. He struck up a conversation with the man, who spoke excellent French and had known Paris before the war. "Monsieur," the man replied, when asked his profession, "I used to be a retired professor, but we are beggars now.".29

There was a general feeling that an old and decent society was being destroyed. If the year 1918 had removed that society’s political traditions and its national pride, 1923 was disposing of its financial substructure. In response, people grew either listless or hysterical. A German woman told Pearl Buck that a whole generation simply lost its taste for life—a taste that would only be restored to them by the Nazis. Family bonds melted away. A friend of Swan, a most respectable German whose father was a civil servant on the railways, simply left home and roamed the country with a band. It was a typical 1923 case history. Young men born between 1900 and 1905 who had grown up expecting to inherit a place in the sun from their well-to-do parents suddenly found they had nothing. From imperial officer to bank clerk became a "normal" progression. Such disinherited young men naturally gravitated toward the illegal right-wing organizations and other extremist groups. Inflation had destroyed savings, self-assurance, a belief in the value of hard work, morality and sheer human decency. Young people felt that they had no prospects and no hope. All around them they could see nothing but worried faces. "When they are crying even a gay laughter seems impossible . . . and all around it was the same . . . quite different from the days of revolution when we had hoped things would be better.".30

Traditional middle-class morality disappeared overnight. People of good family co-habited and had illegitimate children. The impossibility of making a marriage economically secure apparently led to a disappearance of marriage itself.31 Germany in 1923 was a hundred years away from those stable middle-class values that Thomas Mann depicted in The Magic Mountain, set in a period scarcely ten years before. Pearl Buck wrote that "Love was old-fashioned, sex was modern. It was the Nazis who restored the ‘right to love’ in their propaganda.".32

Paradoxically, the inflation that destroyed traditional German values was also largely responsible for the creation of that new, decadent and dissolute generation that put Berlin on the cosmopolitan pleasure seeker’s map, and has kept it or its image there ever since. It was no coincidence that 1923 was the year that the Hotel Adlon first hired gigolos, professional male dancers, to entertain lady clients at so much per dance. It was also a period when prostitution boomed. A Frenchman accustomed enough to the spectacle of Montmartre was unable to believe his eyes when he beheld the open corruption of Berlin’s Friedrichstrasse.33 Klaus Mann remembers:

Some of them looked like fierce Amazons strutting in high boots made of green glossy leather. One of them brandished a supple cane and leered at me as I passed by. "Good evening, madame" I said. She whispered in my ear: "Want to be my slave? Costs only six billion and a cigarette. A bargain. Come along, honey.".

. . . Some of those who looked most handsome and elegant were actually boys in disguise. It seemed incredible considering the sovereign grace with which they displayed their saucy coats and hats. I wondered if they might be wearing little silks under their exquisite gowns; must look funny I thought … a boy’s body with pink lace-trimmed skirt.34

Commercial sex in Berlin was not well organized and was considered by connoisseurs to be inferior to that of Budapest, which had the best red-light district in Europe. But in Berlin there was no longer any clear-cut distinction between the red-light district and the rest of town, between professional and amateur. The booted Amazons were streetwalkers who jostled for business in competition with school children. Hans Fallada has painted the following portrait of a shop girl:

Pepa Ledig was at twenty-two no longer a blank page. She had ripened, not in a peaceful atmosphere, but during the war, postwar and inflation. Only too soon she knew what it meant when a gentleman customer in her bootshop touched her lap significantly with his toe. Sometimes she nodded . . . 35

Stefan Zweig gives us another glimpse of inflationary Berlin:

Along the entire Kurfürstendamm powdered and rouged young men sauntered, and they were not all professionals; every schoolboy wanted to earn some money, and in the dimly lit bars one might see government officials and men of the world of finance tenderly courting drunken sailors without shame. . . .

At the pervert balls of Berlin, hundreds of men dressed as women, and hundreds of women as men danced under the benevolent eyes of the police…. Young girls bragged proudly of their perversion. To be sixteen and still under suspicion of virginity would have been considered a disgrace in any school in Berlin at the time.36

Another visitor was struck by what he referred to as Berlin’s "pathological" mood:

Nowhere in Europe was the disease of sex so violent as in Germany. A sense of decency and hypocrisy made the rest of Europe suppress or hide its more uncommon manifestations. But the Germans, with their vitality and their lack of a sense of form, let their emotions run riot. Sex was one of the few pleasures left to them. . . .

In the East End of Berlin there was a large Diele (dancing cafe) in which from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. you could watch shopkeepers, clerks and policemen of mature age dance together. They treated one another with an affectionate mateyness; the evening brought them their only recreation among congenial people. Politically most of them were conservative; with the exception of sex they subscribed to all the conventions of their caste. In fact, they almost represented the normal element of German sex life.

… There was a well-known Diele frequented almost entirely by foreigners of both sexes. The entertainment was provided by native boys between 14 and 18. Often a boy. would depart with one of the guests and return alone a couple of hours later. Most of the boys looked undernourished…. Many of them had to spend the rest of the night in a railway station, a public park, or under the arch of a bridge.37

Inflation made Germany break with her past by wiping out the local equivalent of the Forsytes. It also reinforced the postwar generation’s appetite for invention, innovation and compulsive pleasure seeking, while making them bitterly aware of their own rootlessness. It is not surprising that cocaine was very much in vogue in those years. The drug was peddled openly in restaurants by the hat-check girls, and formed an integral part of the social life of Berlin.

Inflation was also taken as evidence that the old order was morally and practically bankrupt. Capitalism had failed to guarantee the security of its citizens. It had benefited speculators, hustlers, con men and factory owners. It had spawned Hugo Stinnes, but had done nothing for the common good. The need for an alternative system appeared universally self-evident, and until one came along the thing to do was to enjoy oneself, drink away grandma’s capital, or exchange one’s clothes for cocaine: a dinner jacket got you four grams, a morning coat eight.38

Inflation and the despair that it created also acted as the catalyst of aggression. It was at this time that anti-Semitism began to appear in Berlin. An attractive German lady remembers walking through a prosperous suburb with a Jewish friend when someone called to her in the street, "Why do you go around with a Jew ? Get yourself a good German man." In one sense she found it understandable. The ordinary German was very slow to adjust to the special situation of inflation, and in 1923 anyone who was not very quick on their feet soon went under. Jews were better at economic survival in such situations than were other Germans—so much so, she says, that by the end of inflation they had become terribly conspicuous. All the expensive restaurants, all the best theater seats, appeared to be filled by Jews who had survived or even improved their position.

One can imagine that Germans who had lost their own status might have resented the spectacle. One old conservative I spoke to added a second reason for the rise of anti-Semitism in a Prussian society which had traditionally been quite free of it. The arguments advanced are his own, and tell us something of his prejudices. He believes that the Weimar Republic was too liberal with regard to immigration from the East, admitting thousands of Jews from Galicia and the old pale of settlement, persons who, in his words, were "Asiatics, not Jews." They found themselves in a strange anonymous town, free of all the ethical restraints imposed by life in a small community where their families had lived for several generations. They tended therefore to abandon all morality as they stepped out of their own homes, morality being strictly a family affair. They would sail as close to the wind as the law would allow, for they had no good will, or neighborly esteem to lose. The gentleman in question is convinced that their mode of doing business during the inflation did a great deal to create or aggravate more generalized anti-Semitic feelings.

Yet precisely these immigrants were to prove a mainstay of the republic. An old Berlin Jew who had spent some time in prewar Auschwitz told me that it was just these Eastern Jews who offered the most active and effective resistance to National Socialism. They were activists where native Berliners, Jew and Gentile alike, were more inclined to remain on the sidelines.

Certainly the period saw a rise in pro-National Socialist feelings. The first Nazi that Professor Reiff knew personally was a schoolboy in his last year. The young man’s father, a small civil servant, had just lost everything through inflation, and as a result his son joined the party. Pearl Buck records the views of an antimonarchical businessman worried by inflation, who said of the Nazis: "They are still young men and act foolishly, but they will grow up. If they will only drop Ludendorff and his kind, maybe someday I’ll give them a chance.".39

For many people, who felt that they had lost all zest for a life rendered colorless by war and poverty, who
could see that they lived in a world in which Schieber won and decent folk lost, a new ideology combining patriotism and socialist anticapitalism seemed to be the only viable alternative to a totally unacceptable state of financial chaos and capitalist laissez-faire. The shock of inflation had made people mistrustful of the past, immensely suspicious of the present, and pathetically ready to have hopes for the future. It was perfectly clear to them that new solutions were needed, equally clear that until such solutions should appear they could put their trust in nothing except the validity of their own sensations.

The mood of the inflationary period is summed up by Stefan Zweig. It is a mood that endured well beyond inflation itself to become the mood of the Weimar age, a blend of pleasure seeking, sexual and political extremism, and a yearning for strange gods.

It was an epoch of high ecstasy and ugly scheming, a singular mixture of unrest and fanaticism. Every extravagant idea that was not subject to regulation reaped a golden harvest: theosophy, occultism, yogism and Paracelcism. Anything that gave hope of newer and greater thrills, anything in the way of narcotics, morphine, cocaine, heroin found a tremendous market; on the stage incest and parricide, in politics communism and fascism constituted the most favored themes.40

It was indeed a time for the revaluation of all (devalued) values.

The mood of 1923 persisted long after inflation ended, which is why the manner of its ending is offered here as a postscript, for nothing was restored but the currency.

Restoration of confidence was only possible when passive resistance in the Ruhr ended in the autumn of 1923. At the same time, the Reichsbank appointed Hjalmar Schacht to deal with inflation. He was an extremely able man with a clear grasp of essentials. He realized that his main problem was to restore confidence both within and without Germany, and to try to prevent people from spending money as soon as it came into their hands. He established a new currency, based on the notional sum total of Germany’s agricultural wealth, the Roggen-Mark (rye mark). This had the effect of restoring psychological confidence in the currency. He combined the move with a gigantic bear trap laid by the Reichsbank to catch the speculators who would regularly build up huge short positions in marks, in the almost certain expectation that the mark would continue to fall against the dollar: i.e., they sold marks they hadn’t got, knowing that they could buy them for a fraction of their present value when the time came to meet the demand. When the mark stopped falling, thanks to the Reichsbank’s engineering, they had to rush to close their positions, and were forced to buy marks which had actually begun to go up. Many speculators lost the entire fortunes which they had built up over the year.

Schacht’s measures sufficed to stop the rot, but in the period between the ordnance declaring the new currency and the appearance of the first notes, there was an interim of pure chaos in which, as Lord d’Abernon noted, "four kinds of paper money and five kinds of stable value currency were in use. On November 20,1923,1 dollar =4.2 gold marks =4.2 trillion paper marks. But by December the currency was stable." The last November issue of the weekly Berliner Ulustrirter Zeitung cost a billion marks, the first December issue 20 pfennigs. Confidence seemed to have been restored overnight. Germany could breathe again.

There were those, however, who could not accept that the old certainties were lost, as this sad little postscript will prove. In the old days the highest denomination printed had been the brown thousand-mark note which had a prestigious, almost magic significance. Many people among the older generation found it impossible to accept that its value was now gone forever. The notes were seen as the symbol of the golden age of stability before inflation, and it was the touching hope of many that one day they would be restored to full value. In the meantime they were hoarded and even collected. They could be bought in the Munich flea market for five marks a million. That there was still a demand for them at all is proof of the belief that one day the Reichsbank would honor its pledge and exchange paper for gold. Weimar’s electoral system of proportional representation encouraged the proliferation of small political parties, of which there were many. But without a doubt, the strangest and saddest political party of them all was the "Party for the Revaluation of the Thousand-Mark Note.".

 

FOOTNOTES

Chapter 6 – INFLATION

1 d’Abernon, vol. II, p. 23
2 Ibid, p. 22
3 Ibid, p. 24
4 Bonn, p. 2 78
5 Buck, p. 143
6 Ludecke, p. 148
7 Zweig.p. 237
8 Ibid, loc. cit.
9 Daily Express, February 24, 1923
10 Ostwald,p. 63
11 Adlon.p. 99
12 Ostwald,p. 130
13 Clark, p. 11
14 Ibid, loc. cit.
15 Ibid, p. 12
16 Schonberger, p. 155
17 Ostwald.p. 181
18 Adlon.p. 98
19 Ostwald, pp. 84-5
20 Tynan.p. 132
21 Ibid, p. 157
22 Zweig.p. 223
23 Tynan.p. 157
24 Lochner, p. 102
25 Ibid, p. 103
26 Got, p. 67
27 Ibid, p. 57
28 Weltbuhne,
November 1922
29 Beraud.p. 82
30 Buck, p. 163
31 Ibid, p. 141
32 Ibid, loc. cit.
33 Beraud.p. 22
34 Mann, p. 77
35 Fallada, Wolf, Among Wolves, p. 15
36 Zweig.p.238
37 Landauer, pp. 77-80
38 Got, p. 53
39 Buck, p. 232
40 Zweig.p.238

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THE KILLING WINDS – THE MENACE OF BIOLOGICAL WARFARE

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 30, 2008

Chapter 2

by Jeanne McDermott (Arbor House – 1987 – Hardback – 322 pages – ISBN 0877958963)

HERE IS WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT BIOLOGICAL WARFARE

“Armis Bella Non Venenis Geri” (War is waged with weapons, not with poisons). — Roman condemnation of well poisoning

Identical copies of the BIOCHEMICAL WARFAREtreaty banning biological weapons reside in Moscow, London, and at the mammoth State Department building in Washington, D.C. The United States stores its treaties in a dim, almost shabby room, behind a massive, electronically controlled bank vault door, filled with scores of musty manila folders crammed together on rows of gray metal shelves. Here, the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction is nothing special, just one of thousands of international agreements on everything from wheat to whaling, seabeds to outer space.

Genevieve Bell has been the treaty librarian since 1969, the year Nixon renounced biological weapons. Dressed in a green corduroy suit and a green blouse for Saint Patrick’s Day, she welcomes the infrequent visitor. In the age of instant Xerox, few people care to see the originals anymore. “It’s not too often at all that I bring out the Biological Weapons Convention,” she says. “If a party wants to see it, yes, sure, we have an obligation to show it. But I can’t say I’ve had many requests.”

The Biological Weapons Convention, or BWC, as it is usually abbreviated, has the feel of a noteworthy and honorable modern document. It is bound with a simple, blue leather, folio-size cover; typed on creamy, gold-edged paper; decorated with a delicate red and blue ink border; held together with a red, white, and blue ribbon that threads through punched holes in the paper and binder.

The treaty itself is written in five languages: English, Chinese, French, Spanish, and Russian, and followed by thirty-five pages of official and often ornate signatures. To date, over a hundred countries have signed the Biological Weapons Convention, the most recent being China, which the State Department welcomed with a small ceremony.

The text of the treaty has fifteen articles, but the first and second express the heart of the agreement. The first says:

Each State Party to this convention undertakes never in any circumstances to develop, produce, stockpile or otherwise acquire or retain 1) microbial or other biological agents or toxins whatever their origin or method of production, of types and in quantities that have no justification for prophylactic, protective or other peaceful purposes; 2) weapons, equipment or means of delivery designed to use such agents or toxins for hostile purposes or in armed conflict.

The second article reads:

Each State Party to this Convention undertakes to destroy or to divert to peaceful purposes, as soon as possible, but no later than nine months after the entry into force of the Convention, all agents, toxins, weapons, equipment and means of delivery specified in Article I of the Convention, which are in its possession or under its jurisdiction or control.

The treaty specifically bans biological weapons, those made Ayith disease-causing germs such as anthrax, and toxin weapons, those made with poisons produced by living organisms such as botulinum. It does not ban chemical weapons, those made with synthetic chemicals such as nerve gas. (Another treaty, the Geneva Protocol, bans the use but not the production or stockpiling of chemical weapons.) Despite the differences in their legal status, chemical and biological weapons are often lumped together, abbreviated in discussions within military circles as CBW. What the weapons have in common is the fact that they are invisible killers that travel through the air.

For historians, as well as students of arms control, the Biological Weapons Convention represents a daring landmark and a milestone in detente. It was the first treaty, and remains the only one in existence, to ban outright an entire class of weapons, prohibiting not only the use, but also the manufacture and stockpiling of the weapons. No other arms control treaty has aimed to be so comprehensive or ambitious, and in the last few years, no other treaty has found itself at the center of so much controversy. With the passage of time, the State Department retires some international agreements to the National Archives, simply to make room for newcomers. But those treaties that provoke accusations and counteraccusations — such as the Biological Weapons Convention—stay inside the vault.

The Biological Weapons Convention bans one of the oldest and least respected forms of warfare—the use of poison and disease. Since Greco-Roman times, poisons have figured not so much as weapons of war but as tools for assassination. Although the use and preparation of poison was a shrouded, clandestine art, it seems clear that the Greeks and Romans knew about the toxic qualities of hemlock, hellebore, rhubarb, the castor bean, and the amanita mushroom. In the imperial courts, professional poisoners tried to outsmart the cup bearers and food tasters, and often succeeded, the best-known example being Agrippina, who is thought to have poisoned her husband, the Roman emperor Claudius. Some historians claim that Pope Alexander poisoned his way to power, that during the Italian Renaissance, the powerful Borgias picked off their rivals with poison, and that the plotting in the courts of Louis XIV and the Russian czars involved tainted potions.

Until the invention of the microscope and the germ theory of disease, diseases could not be spread in the sophisticated ways that poison was. One technique was to dump a corpse in the enemy’s well or water supply. But then, as now, the attacker ran the risk that the disease would strike his own troops.

Possibly the earliest, and one of the few, recorded accounts of biological warfare took place in the spring of 1346 when the Mongols laid seige to Kaffa, a walled city on the Crimean coast. After three unsuccessful years in which their own soldiers were dying of the plague, the Mongols tried something new. According to an eyewitness, “The Tatars, fatigued by such a plague and pestiferous disease, stupefied and amazed, and observing themselves dying without hope of health, ordered cadavers placed on their hurling machines and thrown into the city of Kaffa so that by means of these intolerable passengers, the defenders died widely. Thus there were projected mountains of dead, nor could the Christians hide or flee or be freed from such a disaster.” While Kaffa filled with plague, some of the survivors fled, carrying the disease with them to Constantinople, Venice, Genoa, and other European ports. Within three years, the Black Death (spread by less heinous activities as well) swept Europe, killing a quarter of the population.

In another often recounted case, the British commander-in-chief in the American colonies, Lord Jeffrey Amherst, set out to destroy the American Indians with disease after an Indian rebellion in 1763. “You will do well to try to innoculate the Indians by means of blankets,” Amherst told his subordinates, “as well as to try every other method that can serve to extirpate this execrable race.” At his request, two blankets and a handkerchief from a smallpox hospital were given as presents to an Ohio tribe. A few months later, smallpox broke out, and, lacking immunity, the Indians were ravaged by disease.

By the twentieth century, disease ceased to be explained by mysterious miasmas or elemental imbalances of humors. Microscopic organisms—bacteria, fungi, and viruses—were gradually identified as the culprits, isolated, cultured, and studied. At the same time, the molecules responsible for the toxicity of so many plants ANTHRAX SPORESand animals were extracted, concentrated, and purified by methods more reliable than making incantations under a full moon. During World War II, scientists around the world began to devise ways to incorporate invisible germs and poisons into conventional military hardware.

To the modern soldier, the various types of biological weapons developed since then do not look like anything very special. In fact, they look like conventional weapons—a bomb dropped from an airplane, a canister and shell fired from a rocket launcher or howitzer, a missile, a drone, and even bullets. The weapons are designed to be hurled, fired, or dropped. The weapons can also be in the form of a spray, spread by a low-flying airplane like a crop-dusting pesticide. While the bomb and the spray tank became standards, a few unusual efforts also emerged—like long-range balloons carrying feathers infected with anticrop spores, bombs filled with disease-carrying insects, and a deadly aerosol spray can shaped like a whisky hip flask.

What distinguishes one biological weapon from another is not so much the hardware but the fillings, which contain the ANTHRAX THRU AN ELECTRONIC MICROSCOPEdeadliest organisms nature ever concocted, all too small to be seen with the naked eye. Some are bacteria and fungi, living creatures only one cell big. Others are viruses, even tinier, ephemeral entities on the threshold of life, made of chunks of DNA, which replicate only by invading and taking over a cell. And finally, some are toxins, the poisonous molecules secreted by plants and microbes, sprayed by insects, or injected by snakes to destroy their own enemies.

In nature, the microbes, viruses, and toxins that cause disease are everywhere, lurking in the soil, the water, the air, your food. Physicians battle these primordial public enemies daily, trying to prevent their growth, treating those people who fall prey. The creation of a biological weapon, in fact, begins with the knowledge gained by doctors of medicine in the process of treating disease. Instead of applying that knowledge to save life, the practice of medicine is perverted, turned inside out, upside down, in violation of the Hippocratic Oath to do no harm.

From the enormous roster of the world’s diseases and toxins, which grows each year as new diseases evolve or are discovered, almost all have been considered as potential biological weapons. But many have not been seriously studied because they are not hardy, swift-acting, reliably infective, or easily spread through the air—qualities that a weapon designer wants. From 1943, when the United States launched its biological weapons program, until 1969, it experimented with the following human and animal diseases and toxins: anthrax, botulinum, brucellosis, chikungunya, cholera, coccidiosis, dengue, dysentery, food poisoning toxin, influenza, melioidosis, plague, psittacosis, Q-fever, Red Tide poison, Rift Valley Fever, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Russian spring-summer encephalitis, shigellosis, smallpox, tularemia, typhoid, Venezuelan equine encephalitis, and yellow fever.

It also experimented with the following crop diseases: wheat rust, rice blast, tobacco mosaic, corn stunt, potato yellow dwarf, Fiji disease (which attacks sugar cane), hoja blanca (which attacks rice), rice blight, corn blight, sugar cane wilt, coffee rust, maize rust, rice brown-spot disease, late blight of potato, powdery mildew of cereals, stripe rust of cereals.

Of all the countries in ANTHRAXthe world, only the United States admitted to amassing a stockpile of biological weapons, and when the Biological Weapons Convention was signed, only the United States publicly destroyed its arsenal. It had had an active biological warfare program for twenty-five years and had produced and/or standardized ten different biological and toxin weapons, selecting them for a constellation of practical characteristics. The list included:

Anthrax: The renowned bacteriologist Robert Koch first cultured the single-celled bacterium, Bacillus anthracis, in 1877, which under the microscope looks like a football. It lives in the soil in many parts of the world, where it forms an almost indestructible spore resistant to disinfectants, rapid freezing and thawing, even boiling. Anthrax infects goats, sheep, horses, cattle, elephants, hippos, and many other animals, including people. If you touch the spores, the bacterium can enter through a wound in the skin and form a small lesion or pustule that eventually turns coal black. (Anthrax is from the Greek word for coal.) Fever, chills, malaise, nausea, and vomiting follow. Even without adequate treatment, almost everyone recovers.

While the cutaneous form of anthrax is the most common today, in nineteenth-century England the inhalation form of anthrax was widespread. It was known as wool-sorter’s disease because factory workers fell sick after reaching into bins full of wool and shaking the wool out. The motion unleased a cloud of anthrax spores into the air which the workers then inhaled. Within two to three days, they died from suffocation, the result of a toxin released by the anthrax bacterium.

The spores clung not only to sheep wool but to many other animal products as well. A vaccuum cleaner assembler caught it from revolving horsehair brushes, a man who cut piano keys from an elephant’s tusk, and a tourist from a hide-covered bongo drum brought back from a Caribbean vacation. If untreated, the inhalation form of anthrax kills almost everyone exposed to it. While anthrax remains a negligible livestock concern in this country, cases of inhalation anthrax have all but disappeared since the passage of stricter sanitation laws. The military concentrated on the inhalation form of anthrax as a weapon, particularly during World War II. But the spore is so indestructible that once unleashed it permanently contaminates an area, denying it to both defender and attacker. Despite these drawbacks, the United States continues to view anthrax as a potential biological weapon.

Botulinum: Botulinum is a toxin that takes its name from the Latin word for sausage because it was first identified in 1793 when thirteen people in a small German town fell sick after eating the same sausage. The bacterium, which secretes the toxin, was isolated a hundred years later when band members in a small Belgian town fell sick after eating a ham. Shaped like a stout rod, Clostridiwn botulinum commonly and harmlessly grows in the oxygen-free surface layers of the soil, particularly in California, and for reasBACTERIAons unclear, produces botulinum, the most potent neurotoxin known. The microbe only causes problems in improperly canned or cooked food, of which a mere nibble can kill. The toxin takes effect within twelve to seventy-two hours, leaving the victim headachy, dizzy, and (if the dose is sufficient) ultimately dead from respiratory paralysis. About a hundred people succumb to botulinum each year worldwide, and of these 30 percent die. The U. S. Army produced twenty-thousand botulinum-tipped bullets and also planned to spread the toxin as an aerosol until it became clear that sunlight degrades it and destroys its potency.

Brucellosis: Found in wild animals like antelope, reindeer, caribou, and hares, brucellosis was a common livestock disease in the United States until eradication programs began in the 1960s. Today, this country has about one hundred-fifty cases each year, mostly among abattoir workers, farmers, and veterinarians who are exposed to the blood of the infected animals. The disease is caused by several strains of the Brucella bacterium. After a four- or five-day incubation period, the infected person has a low-grade fever, and a tired, rundown feeling that gets progressively worse. Over the next two to three months, he or she loses weight, feels depressed, and suffers an intermittent fever. Once diagnosed, brucellosis is treated with tetracycline. Explored by the army as a weapon in the early days of the program, it was dropped in the 1950s in favor of diseases that act and incapacitate more quickly and more uniformly.

Q-fever: Q-fever is short for query fever. When first discovered among abattoir workers in Queensland, Australia, no one BOTULISMknew what it was. The disease hits suddenly, triggering severe headache, stiff neck, chills, sweats, and a lack of appetite, like a severe case of the flu. Within seven to ten days, it subsides. Nobel laureate F. McFarlane Burnet isolated the cause, a single-celled microbe that changes from the shape of a rod to that of a bead, and named it Coxiella burnetii. C. burnetii is highly infective and very persistent, able to survive in sheep’s wool for seven to nine months. It spreads by aerosol, ticks, mice, bedbugs, and fleas. In Italy, the passage of a flock of sheep through a narrow street was enough to start an infection. Employees at a commercial laundry caught it from handling the unsterilized clothes of lab workers who studied it. Only one to ten microbes are needed to infect. Q-fever strikes sheep, goats, and cattle worldwide, but the infection often escapes notice in both animals and people. Doctors in the United States see one hundred to two hundred cases a year in people, but suspect that a milder form is more common and probably mistaken for the flu. For the military, Q-fever was attractive because it is stable, infective, and quick to act. The army continues to research it today.

Saxitoxin: Throughout many of the world’s oceans, single-celled plankton called dinoflagellates bloom in the summer months, tinging the water red, creating what coast-dwellers call Red Tide. Clams, mussels, oysters, and other filter-feeding bivalves eat the dinoflagellates. People eat the molluscs and occasionally die as the result of ten or more deadly and paralyzing toxins, including the extraordinarily powerful saxi-toxin, produced by the dinoflagellates. In 1974, there were 1,600 cases worldwide of paralytic shellfish poisoning and 300 deaths. Death, when it occurs, takes place within thirty minutes after the meal, as the lips, tongue and face start to burn and tingle. As the feeling spreads to the legs and arms, paralysis sets in. The throat closes up. Until the respiratory muscles cease all movement and suffocation occurs, the victim stays calm and conscious. There is no specific antidote. In the 1950s and 1960s, Detrick scientists prepared over 30 grams of shellfish toxin by harvesting, collecting, and grinding up a vast number of Alaskan butter clams and other shellfish. The toxin was used in the suicide pill carried by Francis Gary Powers, the pilot who flew the secret U-2 plane over the Soviet Union in 1960.

Staphylococcus YERSINIA PESTISenterotoxin: Staphylococcus is a ubiquitous, beach ball-shaped bacterium that comes in many strains. Some are harmless and some, like those that cause toxic shock syndrome and food poisoning, are not. The food-poisoning strain wreaks havoc by secreting an enterotoxin. Although the organism is killed by normal cooking temperatures, it can multiply very rapidly, producing enough toxin to make you sick in two to three hours. Severe nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea hit within half an hour to four hours after eating and last for one to two days. The CIA chose the toxin for its immediate and fierce action and stockpiled a form resistant to the chlorine in city water supplies. Since the freeze dried form of the toxin is stable and can be stored for up to a year, the military planned to spray it over large areas.

Tularemia: Tularemia resembles the plague. Discovered in Tu-lare County, California, in 1911, tularemia is carried by squirrels, rabbits, field voles, mice, shrews, and ticks. The disease exists in all countries north of the equator. In Utah, Wyoming, and Colorado, it occurs most frequently during rabbit-hunting season. Caused by the bacterium Pasteurella tularensis, it strikes two to seven days after exposure—usually in the course of skinning the rabbit. The victim starts to feel achey, with chills and a fever as high as 105 ° F. If inhaled, which happens infrequently in nature but would be the case in a biological war, it causes a cough, chest pain, and difficulty breathing. If untreated, 5 to 8 percent of the people who get tularemia die. For inhalatory tularemia, as many as 40 percent may die. Doctors treat it with antibiotics, but the U.S. military developed a strain of tularemia that was resistant to streptomycin. There are 250 to 300 cases in the United States each year. At the time of the arsenal’s destruction, the government had a large stockpile of tularemia and considered it a useful weapon.

Venezuelan equine encephalitis (VEE): VEE is a mosquito-borne virus first found in horses in Venezuela, and later across South and Central America, including Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Panama. In 1970, the mosquito harboring VEE crossed over the Rio Grande River into Texas, but the feared spread of the disease was contained by eradicating the insect. Within twenty-four hours of injection, the virus produces a headache and fever from which most recover in three days. The virus spreads to the nervous system in 10 percent of the cases and is fatal in 1 percent. The United States was increasing its stockpiles of VEE in the late 1960s.

Yellow fever: Yellow fever is a disease with a notorious legacy, responsible for killing the slaves on the slave ships and probably for destroying the crew and passengers of the legendary Flying Dutchman. It is caused by a virus carried by mosquitoes found in a belt just above and below the equator. It strikes three to six days after the mosquito bite, with a fever and often liver damage, which brings on a yellow color—hence the name. As part of an “entomological warfare” program started in the early 1950s, Detrick labs produced half a million mosquitoes a month, and in tests, planes dropped infected mosquitoes over a residential area in Georgia and Florida. In addition to yellow fever-infected mosquitoes, Detrick grew mosquitoes infected with malaria and dengue; fleas infected with plague; ticks infected with tularemia; flies infected with cholera, anthrax, and dysentery. By the late 1960s, yellow fever was not considered a weapon of choice.

The United States also stockpiled two anticrop diseases:

Wheat rust: In April of each year, the Romans held a ceremony, sacrificing a red dog to keep the gods from unleashing the YERSINIA PESTISred rust disease on their wheat crop. Like fire, the rust streaks the leaves and stems, sometimes even reddening the soil. Once it takes hold, the rust can destroy more crop in less time than any other disease. It is caused by a fungus, Puccinia graminis, which forms a tough, windblown spore that grows under humid conditions. Rust can kill the plant outright or shrivel and stunt it.

Rice blast: Caused by the fungus Piricularia oryzae, rice blast also spreads as a windblown spore, growing under humid conditions. If it attacks during an early stage of the plant’s growth, the plant fails to produce rice. Some American planners considered dropping rice blast on Vietnamese rice paddies during the war but the plan was never approved by senior officials. It would have proved difficult to implement since the Vietnamese planted so many different strains, each becoming susceptible at slightly different times.

Outside of isolated sabotage incidents, biological and toxin weapons have seen remarkably little use in the twentieth century, or rather, remarkably little use that everyone can agree on. No one disputes that the Japanese used germ warfare against the Chinese during World War II. But opinions are divided on two notorious and widely publicized incidents. Did the United States wage germ warfare against North Korea and China during the Korean War? Did the Laotians and Cambo-dians use Soviet-made toxin weapons in Southeast Asia in the late 1970s and early 1980s?

Pound for pound, and penny for penny, biological weapons excel in packing the deadliest punch of any weapon. According to an army field manual written in 1966, a single fighter plane spraying a lethal biological agent could cause 50 percent mortality over an area of 300 square miles; that is, it could kill half the people in a city the size of Dallas or New York. That is ten times the area that would be devastated by the same amount of nerve gas.

Biological weapons come relatively cheap. A panel of experts told the United Nations in 1969 that in a large-scale operation against a civilian population, casualties might cost $2,000 per square kilometer for conventional weapons; $800 for nuclear; $600 for nerve gas; $1 for biological weapons. For the price, one gets a brutally versatile weapon. Biological weapons can be weapons of mass destruction, capable of wiping out huge civilian centers; they can blight a country’s breadbasket while leaving the industrial infrastructure intact; they can be sprayed on people ill-equipped to defend themselves in order to drive them off the land; they can be spread in unconventional ways—on the wings of birds, through infected ticks, mosquitoes, fleas, flies, and tourists. They are, however, most uniquely suited to sabotage, terrorism, and covert operations since they are invisible, small enough to carry in a pocket, and, without careful monitoring, can be indistinguishable from natural occurrences.

Why, then, did President Richard Nixon, a political realist who approached foreign policy as if it were a chess game, give up such a good thing? The reason is simple: Biological weapons provoke far more trouble than they are worth. In the modern theater of geopolitics, their very attributes create horrendous liabilities. Consider this fact: biological weapons are so cheap and powerful that they have been dubbed “the poor man’s atomic bomb.” By condoning and furthering the development of biological weapons, the United States created an arms race that would only hurt it in the long run.

The United States is a rich and powerful country, one of the richest and most powerful in the world. One way it maintains military superiority is by spending money on the development and stockpiling of weapons. Very few countries are wealthy enough to keep up. It is in the best interest of the United States and the other superpowers to keep war expensive. The more expensive it is, the fewer countries that can pose threats. It was, therefore, not in the best interest of the United States to develop a cheap and powerful weapon like biological weapons. That was the fundamental logic behind Nixon’s decision.

Other factors contributed to the American renunciation of biological weapons. There is no credible defense against TULAREMIAan all-out biological attack. No devices will even give reliable advance warning. Even if such devices existed, what steps could be taken? People can be vaccinated against some diseases, but these work only if taken weeks before the attack. Even then, experts doubt their protective value against the onslaught of aerosol germs in a biological weapon, or that an attacker would choose a weapon for which the country had prepared an effective vaccine. Gas masks would help, but few civilians have their own. Lacking genetic resistance to a particular disease, crops and livestock are defenseless.

In 1969, the U.S. military was reluctant but willing to give up biological weapons. Troop commanders had never heartily approved of them, in part because they had a disreputable air that never quite fit the military’s self-image of what an honorable warrior should be asked to do. For battlefield operations, the advocates of biological weapons never proved them superior to conventional or even chemical weapons.

A host of practical problems bedeviled biological weapons. They did not behave in a straightforward way. In the field, commanders found them too complicated, too demanding, too quirky. They spread like killing winds. For each disease, the symptoms, incubation, duration, and treatment varied. Coupled with the way the vagaries of the wind, temperature, and terrain influenced the weapon’s stealthy drift, the commander had a lot of variables to juggle and few guarantees. Although the army subjected biological weapons to hundreds of tests, it never had enough data—for the obvious ethical reasons—on what real weapons do to real people. What good is a weapon that you can’t test? In the end, the military decided it wasn’t good enough to keep.

In 1969, three years before the two superpowers signed the Biological Weapons Convention, the United States gave up BW, as biological weapons are usually abbreviated, altogether. Nixon renounced not only biological weapons but also toxin weapons, which occupy a gray area, somewhere between biological and chemical weapons. Although the two had been developed in tandem at Fort Detrick, the U.S. center for biological warfare research in Frederick, Maryland, toxins behave more like chemical weapons on the battlefield. The only difference between a toxin and a chemical weapon is that one is synthesized by nature and the other concocted by man. Both are inert molecules, acting in minutes to hours, and toxic in micrograms or milligrams, not picograms like biological (or germ) weapons. By contrast, germ weapons are living creatures that grow and multiply, taking their toll in days.

Nixon did not renounce chemical weapons, nor did the subsequent international ban include them. Chemical weapons are deployed like biological weapons—in bombs, from spray tanks—but instead of spreading live organisms, they disperse toxic chemicals, such as nerve gas, tear gas, herbicides (like Agent Orange), mustard gas, and other harassing and incapacitating chemicals. The United States, the Soviets, and now a number of other countries continue to stockpile chemical weapons, and the Iraqis are currently using them in their war against Iran. The Reagan administration lobbied hard to build a new generation of nerve gas weapons, but the Congress consistently blocked appropriations for that purpose until September 1986, when Congress finally gave its okay.

While it is illegal to produce and use biological weapons, it is not illegal to produce chemical weapons. (It is illegal to use them.) Chemical weapons remain a legal component of the world’s stockpiles in part because they are not as cheap, potentially powerful, nor as unpredictable as their biological counterparts. They draw on a longer, more successful tradition within the military, and have a more powerful constituency than biological weapons. After all, they had been used in World War I and the Vietnam War, with arguable success. They have also served a useful function as a deterrent: the United States could give up biological weapons with an easy conscience because it could always retaliate with chemical weapons.

But chemical weapons also raise a prickly question from an arms control perspective. How can you distinguish between industrial chemicals and chemicals of war? What if you ban one but not the other? Since World War II, the creation of insecticides and nerve gases have marched hand in hand. Gerhard Schrader, a German scientist working at I. G. Farben, discovered an organophosphorus compound in 1936 that killed insects in seconds. Under a law that decreed that any industrial invention with military potential should be shared with the Wehrmacht, Schrader’s finding led to the development of nerve gases. Today, a plant that produces the pesticides ma-lathion or parathion could be used to produce nerve gas.

Many other chemicals are Jess toxic, but just as lethal and widespread as organophosphate pesticides. When a 1984 The Living Weapon - As America's germ warfare program expanded during the Cold War, scientists began to conduct their own covert tests on human volunteers. The United States continued the development and stockpiling of biological weapons until President Nixon terminated the program in 1969. This American Experience production examines the international race to develop biological weapons in the 1940s and 1950s, revealing the scientific and technical challenges scientists faced and the moral dilemmas posed by their eventual success.accident at the Union Carbide pesticide plant in Bhopal, India, released methylisocyanate into the air, five thousand people died. In a magazine interview, the Bhopal mayor said, “I can say that I have seen chemical warfare. Everything so quiet. Goats, cats, whole families—father, mother, children—all lying silent and still. And every structure totally intact. I hope never again to see it.”

When the Biological Weapons Convention officially went into effect in 1975, it left the impression that every trace or consideration of biological weapons utterly disappeared from the world’s military establishments. That was not the case. By keeping chemical weapons legal, military establishments maintained an institutional infrastructure familiar with the equipment, training, doctrine, and insidious action of invisible weapons. While the United States burned its germs and toxins, scrapped its weapon hardware, dismantled and converted its mass production facilities, it retained the books, reports, studies, and test data accumulated over the twenty-five-year existence of the biological-warfare program. According to one Pentagon official, it would take the United States (or any other country that dismantled its full-fledged offensive program) two to three years to get back into the biological weapons business IF the president of the United States renounced the treaty.

As allowed by treaty, research continues around the world. The systematic study of nasty germs and toxins has not stopped. In the United States, it takes place on a largely unclassified basis and in the name of defense. Fifteen years after the renunciation, the list of germs and toxins studied at Fort Detrick bears little resemblance to those studied in 1969. These new agents have been identified, grown, studied, analyzed, assessed, evaluated, and, if Dugway builds the BL-4 lab, will be tested. But they have not been developed into weapons, that is, mass produced or loaded into hardware—two steps that would clearly violate the treaty.

Since the Reagan administration took office in 1980, the budgets for both biological and chemical weapons have skyrocketed. Compared with the cost of building an F-16 fighter plane, the budgets dedicated to the subject of biological warfare still look small, but it is important to bear in mind that biological research costs relatively little. In 1987, the total budget for biological warfare defense was $71.2 million. Compare that with what was spent on research and development at Fort Detrick at the height of the Vietnam War in 1969. Then, it was $19.4 million—or if you adjust for inflation, $55.6 million. In other words, the United States is spending more on BW research than it did when it had an offensive program.

What this jump in budgets means is that the military is again talking about biological warfare. “Up until three or four years ago, we weren’t talking on the subject [of biological weapons] at all,” says Major Dick Ziegler, a Pentagon spokesman. According to the Department of Defense, the Dugway lab is essential for preparing a defense against the mounting Soviet threat. The Pentagon and the Reagan administration point to a mysterious outbreak of anthrax in Sverdlovsk and to Yellow Rain in Southeast Asia as evidence of the Soviet’s disregard for and violation of the treaty.

In conservative circles throughout the nation, the two events are already taken as proof that the Biological Weapons Convention has failed. Like the clock in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, the treaty is an anachronism, some say, out of step with the times. But others vehemently disagree with that conclusion. They stress that the evidence for treaty violations at Sverdlovsk is open to question and that cited for Yellow Rain has failed to stand up to scrutiny.

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LA CRISIS MONETARIA ESPAÑOLA DE 1937

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 28, 2008

Capítulo II

por José Miguel Santacreu Soler

PLANTEAMIENTO GENERAL DE LA CRISIS MONETARIA REPUBLICANA

I. FACTORES DE LA CRISIS

Los problemas en los que desembocó la crisis monetaria (1) padecida por la España republicana durante la guerra civil no fueron fruto exclusivo de la coyuntura bélica, sino de ciertos factores cuya incidencia fue simultánea y ampliamente extendida. Cabe reconocer que el conflicto bélico quitó la tapadera a algunos de estos factores que ya palpitaban desde hacía algún tiempo; pero de ahí a privilegiar sólo el factor guerra en la crisis va mucho, como demostraremos a continuación.

El sistema monetario español

Las pesetas y sus múltiplos y divisores impresos o acuñados que circulaban presentaban, en 1936 y antes, deficiencias tales como un exacerbado dualismo y una incoherente variedad ideológica que exigía un cambio.

Eran fruto de un sistema monetario que nació allá por el año 1868 (2). Desde el 19 de octubre de ese año —fecha del decreto en que se adoptó definitivamente el sistema decimal para las monedas españolas según las normas de la Unión Monetaria Latina, fijando la PESETA dividida en cien céntimos como unidad monetaria (3) y aceptando el bimetalismo que se frustró con el súbito encarecimiento del oro (4)— se desarrollaron una serie de acuñaciones de piezas en oro con valores de 100, 25, 20 y 10 pesetas respectivamente; en plata de 5, 2, 1, 0,50 y 0,20 pesetas, y en cobre de 10, 5, 2 y 1 céntimos, a las que se añadieron los 25 céntimos de cupro-níquel tras el decreto del 9 de enero de 1925 (5). Su curso legal se mantuvo hasta la guerra civil, 193611939, con pequeñas alteraciones en las monedas de oro y 0,20 pesetas (6). Junto a estas piezas metálicas circulaban los billetes emitidos por el Banco de España, desde que éste lograra el privilegio de único emisor en 1874, con valores de 1.000, 500, 100, 50 y 25 pesetas. Los citados billetes sólo eran una promesa de pago y debían de estar respaldados por una cobertura metálica extraída, en parte, de las acuñaciones mencionadas. A partir de 1898 las cifras de los billetes en circulación se independizaron de la cuantía del capital del Banco de España, aunque siguió conservándose la existencia de una cobertura metálica, si bien con menores exigencias y cantidades proporcionales (7).

Entre 1873 y 1883 se abandonó el patrón oro, al que no se volvió jamás, y se consagró el patrón fiduciario, predominando las monedas de plata y los billetes. No fue esta medida fruto de una política monetaria deliberada sino que más bien no había otro remedio; prueba de ello son los continuos esfuerzos por retornar al patrón oro. El gobierno se preocupaba más de mantener el prestigio de su moneda que de utilizarla, devaluándola, para fomentar las exportaciones (8).

El hecho es que, pese a abandonar el patrón oro, éste siguió acuñándose y circulando entre los españoles (9) hasta su definitiva desaparición de hecho hacia 1914 (10). Desaparición que no causó graves problemas a nivel cotidiano ya que venían realizándose emisiones de billetes con valores de 100, 50 y 25 pesetas que paliaron la carencia de las piezas de oro.

No obstante, en 1917 el oro dejó de fluir a los Estados Unidos y se inició una pequeña corriente hacia España (11), pero no se pudo regresar a él como patrón y moneda corriente, lo que soñara Primo de Rivera (12).

En el plano internacional, la cuestión del oro parece ser que pasó a un segundo término ante las nuevas concepciones monetarias (13). En los EE.UU. de los años 1930 unos cuantos economistas defendían un dólar utilitario, una moneda cuyo valor se fundase en un poder adquisitivo constante y no en su contenido en oro (14).

De otro lado, los gobiernos de los países desarrollados habían abandonado o estaban abandonando la moneda-mercancía en favor de una moneda-signo que se ajustase mejor alas nuevas circunstancias y exigencias económicas. En concreto, Estados Unidos entre 1921 y 1935 (15) y Francia entre 1921 y 1939 (16), por ejemplo, eliminaron o minimizaron la plata en circulación sustituyéndola por otros metales o reduciendo su ley.

A la contra, aunque no sea del todo correcto establecer comparaciones entre países de distintos niveles de desarrollo, resulta significativo matizar que la República Española del siglo XX no sólo continuaba usando la plata como moneda corriente sino que uno de sus gobiernos emitía pesetas con ese metal fechadas en 1933-34 (17).

Así, la oferta de moneda impresa y acuñada para la circulación en julio de 1936 estaba compuesta por los billetes del Banco de España, que en teoría seguían siendo una promesa de pago difícil de cobrar. Su cuantía era como sigue:

VALOR N.i DE PIEZAS
1.000 pesetas …….. 3.646.000
500 pesetas …….. 1.602.000
100 pesetas …….. 32.000.000
50 pesetas …….. 18.640.000
25 pesetas …….. 17.780.000 (18)
   

Y por las monedas metálicas del Ministerio de Hacienda, que teóricamente eran los puntales del sistema. Su cuantía disponible era:

VALOR METAL N.° DE PIEZAS
5 pesetas Plata 210.437.486
2 pesetas Plata 78.159.769
1 peseta Plata 111.544.106
50 céntimos Plata 33.600.196
25 céntimos Cupro-níquel 32.000.099
10 céntimos Cobre 324.708.553
5 céntimos Cobre 444.701.481
2 céntimos Cobre 138.368.865
1 céntimo Cobre 1.090.169.399(19)

Naturalmente, toda esta moneda metálica no estaba en constante circulación. De la cuantía disponible citada hay que descontar la reserva en plata que poseía el Banco de España, las piezas atesoradas por los particulares que no confiaban en los bancos de depósito y, al estallar la guerra, el reparto de dichas piezas entre las dos zonas del conflicto, las fugas al extranjero, las destrucciones, etcétera.

Lo que sí que queda claro es que al empezar la guerra el curso de moneda legal estaba compuesto por una serie de piezas que manifestaban una incoherente variedad ideológica. En el bolsillo de los ciudadanos —julio de 1936— coincidían tanto las acuñaciones de la I República como las de los reyes Amadeo de Saboya, Alfonso XII y Alfonso XIII, junto a las escasas tiradas de la II República (20). La coexistencia de estas acuñaciones chocaba con las líneas ideológicas en el poder y mermaba, tal vez, psicológicamente, parte de la soberanía del Estado republicano, concediendo mayor importancia a la plata de los duros y demás que a sus representaciones figurativas y leyendas.

De otro lado, dicho curso legal denotaba un exacertado dualismo. La moneda en circulación era de dos tipos, los cuales se complementaban y suplían. Por una parte estaba la larga serie de billetes del Banco de España, cuyo valor no bajaba de las 25 pesetas, respaldados por una cobertura metálica en la que basaban su fiabilidad. Jurídicamente sólo eran simples cheques al portador con funciones similares a la moneda metálica del Ministerio de Hacienda. Junto a estos billetes circulaban las piezas metálicas del citado Ministerio; es decir, la moneda real por excelencia. El valor superior que alcanzaban éstas no sobrepasaba las 5 pesetas y basaban su fiabilidad en el peso y ley del metal que contenían, además del carácter legal que les confería el Estado. En ocasiones, ellas desempeñaban una parte del papel de cobertura metálica que precisaban los billetes del Banco de España (21).

Gente anterior a julio de 1936 que criticase el sistema, la labor del Banco de España, el centralismo monopolista de las emisiones, la política monetaria, etcétera y propusiese alternativas, viables o no, la hubo. Son de destacar J. Sarda, J. Tallada o J. A. Vandellós y sus múltiples publicaciones en el Boletín del Instituto de Investigaciones Económicas de Barcelona, la Veu de Cataluña, el Sol, España Sanearía… (22).

Con todo, el gobierno no dejó, según le concedía la Constitución vigente, de tener el privilegio de dominar el sistema monetario y emitir la moneda fiduciaria (23). Además de poseer desde 1931, sirviéndose del Centro Oficial de Contratación de Moneda creado en agosto de 1930, el control absoluto de las operaciones con moneda extranjera —decreto del 29 de mayo— (24). El Estado era prácticamente dueño y señor de la moneda para usarla como quisiese.

En conclusión, quiero recalcar que en julio de 1936 circulaban conjuntamente dentro del territorio español una moneda-signo, los billetes del Banco de España que no podía emitir valores fraccionarios, y una moneda-mercancía, las piezas metálicas del Ministerio de Hacienda que monopolizaban los valores fraccionarios. Ello sería uno de los factores determinantes de la crisis de moneda divisionaria que padeció la España republicana a lo largo de 1937, como veremos más adelante.

La plata de las monedas divisionarias

La plata no era lo suficientemente estable como para servir de moneda fraccionaria en unos tiempos inflacionistas de papel y de anormalidades económicas, políticas y humanas. Por momentos, el metal de la moneda superaba su valor nominal y un duro valía más de cinco pesetas. Estas piezas acuñadas con valores de 5, 2, 1 y 0,50 pesetas, respectivamente, eran un campo abandonado para la especulación y el agiotismo. Ya lo habían demostrado con anterioridad.

En 1898 el atesoramiento de moneda de plata de 5 pesetas, inducido por el pánico ante la pérdida de las colonias y la desafortunada guerra con los EE.UU., junto a las operaciones especulativas aprovechando la caída de los cambios, hizo que dicha moneda escasease en la calle. Por ello, el Consejo del Banco de España —con carácter reservado— tuvo que preparar una emisión de billetes de cinco pesetas para sustituir a esta moneda de plata.

En cierto modo era un antecedente de los certificados de plata republicanos de 5 y 10 pesetas que luego estudiaremos.

Pero como en 1899 cambió la situación, se emitieron monedas de plata y la política restrictiva de Villaverde tuvo sus frutos; no sólo no se pusieron en circulación los billetes sino que en octubre de 1903 se quemaron (25).

En 1914 la elevación del precio de la plata y la necesidad de aumentar la cobertura de este metal inmovilizado en las cajas del Banco de España, movieron a su Consejo a preparar —con carácter reservado— de nuevo una emisión de billetes de cinco pesetas, en previsión de que dejara de circular la plata. Pero como la situación quedó conjurada y el Banco aumentó sus existencias de plata, los temores se desvanecieron a la par que estos billetes (26).

En 1935 la pérdida del poder adquisitivo de la peseta, unido al aumento de precio de la plata, hizo renacer el temor de que las monedas de 5 pesetas desapareciesen de la circulación al ser desmonetizadas buscando beneficiarse con el metal.

Ello volvió a suscitar el tema de los billetes de cinco pesetas. Hubo en esta ocasión unas negociaciones entre el Banco de España y el Ministerio de Hacienda que convinieron que no se trataría de billetes emitidos por el Banco de España sino de «certificados» que suplirían circunstancialmente las monedas acuñadas del Estado. Los gastos de impresión los sufragaría el gobierno y el Banco se encargaría de tramitarla. Los certificados estarían respaldados por un depósito de plata en la Caja del Banco. Sus valores serían de 5 y 10 pesetas respectivamente. En breve se imprimieron 120.000.000 de ejemplares de 5 pesetas y 70.000.000 de 10 pesetas No obstante dichos certificados aún tardarían en ponerse en circulación ya que no lo hicieron hasta octubre de 1936, iniciada la guerra civil (27).

Era evidente que la plata llevaba el mismo camino que el oro. Este desapareció de la circulación hacia 1914 y había dejado de ser patrón monetario en 1883. Diversos países desarrollados, tales como EE.UU. o Francia, entre los años veinte y treinta del siglo XX estaban abandonando o minimizando la plata para acuñar sus monedas y buscaban buenos sustitutos fiduciarios. A la contra, el gobierno republicano no quería o no podía hacerlo, tal vez porque aún confiaba en otros remedios.

El proyecto de emisión de los certificados de plata era un provisional —o solapado— intento: ¡certificados de plata, no sustitutos de ella! Fue a mitad de marzo de 1937, ya tarde y con una incipiente crisis monetaria, cuando el gobierno de aquel momento reconoció las nuevas necesidades:

«… el Gobierno… ha resuelto que las mayores necesidades de moneda divisionaria que el mercado acusa sean atendidas, como han hecho otros países para piezas de semejante valor, por medio de la acuñación de una moneda que, poseyendo para el público todas las garantías y prerrogativas de cualquier otra moneda de curso legal, cumpla las condiciones técnicas requeridas. El metal que, según informe competente, sirve mejor para el caso es un bronce de aluminio de las características que se establecen… y que son análogas a las del metal empleado en Francia con el mismo fin.» (28)

Lógicamente esto que acabo de plantear es adelantar acontecimientos posteriores. Nosotros estamos analizando en estos momentos la situación concreta de julio de 1936, nada más. En esa fecha las monedas metálicas del sistema monetario español presentaban importantes deficiencias que denotaban una situación absurda en una etapa de inflación. La plata no podía mantenerse como moneda.

Antoni Turró, cuando habla de la guerra civil, dice que era una temeridad y un lujo impropio de un país en guerra mantener el patrón de plata en su moneda, máximo si se tiene en cuenta la necesidad que tenía el gobierno republicano de unas buenas reservas a fin de mantener su crédito siempre dudoso en un conflicto bélico (29).

«La inflación hace que las personas previsoras o temerosas se pregunten si conviene guardar el dinero o los signos que lo representan, o es mejor cambiarlos por artículos o bienes tangibles antes de que los precios sigan subiendo.» (30)

Durante la guerra civil la elección era sencilla para los españoles. Las monedas de plata convenía guardarlas como reserva de valor. Se trataba de unas monedas-objeto-mercancía que por su materia y peso podían sobrevivir al proceso inflacionista de papel y mantener un poder adquisitivo real. Los billetes convenía emplearlos como medio de pago para adquirir con ellos mercancías o monedas de plata. Se trataba de unas monedas-signo altamente fiduciarias que habían perdido su convertibilidad en plata y su estabilidad como poder de compra, a la par que era muy difícil que sobreviviesen al proceso inflacionista.

Si la gente se inclinaba por la elección que acabo de describir —de hecho lo hizo— se produciría un fenómeno lógico: La plata desaparecería de la circulación, y con ella los valores fraccionarios de las monedas. El papel se intensificaría como medio de pago y circulación, pero como su valor más bajo no descendería de las 25 pesetas se interrumpirían o dificultarían las compras y ventas de productos cuyo valor no se ajustase al nominal que representaba el juego de los diversos billetes. El sistema monetario tropezaría con una grave crisis.

Junto a esto, y en circunstancias en las que la moneda legal estaba perdiendo su fiabilidad, la plata se convertiría —de hecho lo hizo— en una excelente divisa, por lo que aún eran más los motivos que la impulsaban a abandonar su ejercicio como moneda corriente.

En junio de 1937, unos consejeros denunciaban ante el Consejo Municipal de Alicante que se realizaban compras de artículos en el extranjero pagados con monedas de plata (31). Mas aún, el gobierno recurrió a ella para financiar parte de sus compras de armamentos, etcétera. En 1938 vendió a los EE.UU. 1.225.000 kilos de plata equivalentes a 245 millones de pesetas —16.000 dólares—, además de otras ventas a Francia (32).

Todavía hay más. Si el lector ha recapacitado un poco se habrá percatado de que cuando las autoridades pertinentes o el Banco de España se preparaban para enfrentarse a la posible desaparición de la plata amonedada, más adelante reincidiremos en ello, sólo pensaron en las monedas de duro, las cinco pesetas. ¿Qué sucede?, ¿las piezas de 2, 1 y 0,50 pesetas no eran también de plata? Ahí está otra de las claves de la crisis de moneda fraccionaria durante el año 1937 en la España republicana.

Al iniciarse la guerra uno de los primeros síntomas de la misma, de la especulación y el agiotismo fue la progresiva desaparición de las monedas de plata. Primero los duros, después las 2, 1 y 0,50 pesetas nos dice R. Abellá (33).

El oro y los billetes del Banco de España

El oro y los billetes del Banco de España fueron un excelente medio de financiación de guerra, tanto a nivel interno —los billetes— como externo —el oro.

Tuñón y García-Nieto (34) opinan que la financiación interna de los gastos de guerra republicanos está expresada en los avances hechos al Tesoro por el Banco de España desde el comienzo de las hostilidades. Si hasta abril de 1938 aparece una suma de nuevos billetes, expresión de ese avance, de 3.812,76 millones de pesetas; la liquidación posterior final dio un saldo, según Sarda, de 12.754 millones de pesetas.

La financiación exterior, atendiendo a los mismos autores, estuvo determinada fundamentalmente por la utilización de las reservas de oro en aleación depositado cu la URSS —510 toneladas, unos 500 millones de dólares de la época—. Este oro sirvió para pagar los suministros soviéticos y para, transformado en divisas, colocarlo cu el Banco de París, desde donde el gobierno de la República hizo compras de armamentos en diversos países.

Estos autores siguen diciendo además que entre julio de 1936 y enero de 1937 fueron enviados a Francia 510 millones de pesetas oro, el 26,5% del oro amonedado y en barras existente en reserva en el Banco de España (35).

Si el oro y los billetes fueron en la práctica un excelente medio de financiación, supusieron un duro golpe para la moneda acuñada e impresa del sistema monetario español.

El decreto del Ministerio de Hacienda del 3 de octubre de 1936 (36) regulaba y exigía a los españoles que entregasen todo el oro amonedado o en pasta que poseyesen. Otro decreto del 10 de octubre amplió el plazo concedido para la entrega (37). A partir de estos momentos las Gacetas están llenas de decretos y órdenes que encauzan la recogida de dicho metal (38).

La recogida de oro era una manera de sugerir a los ciudadanos que, comparado con el papel o los depósitos bancarios, tenía una significación mucho mayor. A partir de entonces el oro parecería siempre mejor, algo que convenía guardar prudentemente (39). Y junto a él, por mimetismo, la plata.

“El 25 de octubre de 1936 se embarcó en Cartagena, con rumbo a Odesa, siete mil ochocientas cajas llenas de oro, amonedado o en barras, oro que constituía parte de las reservas del Banco de España”.

La financiación exterior, atendiendo a los mismos autores, estuvo determinada fundamentalmente por la utilización de las reservas de oro en aleación depositado en la URSS —510 toneladas, unos 500 millones de dólares de la época—. Este oro sirvió para pagar los suministros soviéticos y para, transformado en divisas, colocarlo en el Banco de París, desde donde el gobierno de la República hizo compras de armamentos en diversos países.

Estos autores siguen diciendo además que entre julio de 1936 y enero de 1937 fueron enviados a Francia 510 millones de pesetas oro, el 26,5% del oro amonedado y en barras existente en reserva en el Banco de España (35).

Si el oro y los billetes fueron en la práctica un excelente medio de financiación, supusieron un duro golpe para la moneda acuñada e impresa del sistema monetario español.

El decreto del Ministerio de Hacienda del 3 de octubre de 1936 (36) regulaba y exigía a los españoles que entregasen todo el oro amonedado o en pasta que poseyesen. Otro decreto del 10 de octubre amplió el plazo concedido para la entrega (37). A partir de estos momentos las Gacetas están llenas de decretos y órdenes que encauzan la recogida de dicho metal (38).

La recogida de oro era una manera de sugerir a los ciudadanos que, comparado con el papel o los depósitos bancarios, tenía una significación mucho mayor. A partir de entonces el oro parecería siempre mejor, algo que convenía guardar prudentemente (39). Y junto a él, por mimetismo, la plata.

“El 25 de octubre de 1936 se embarcó en Cartagena, con rumbo a Odesa, siete mil ochocientas cajas llenas de oro, amonedado o en barras, oro que constituía parte de las reservas del Banco de España”.

“La consecuencia económica más grave de la entrega a la U.R.S.S. —opina Ricardo de la Cierva— del oro español es que la República hipotecó por adelantado sus posibilidades de dependencia exterior.” (40)

Pero lo peor del hecho es que la credibilidad financiera del gobierno quedaba en entredicho y el público en general podía desconfiar, pese a que en enero de 1937 el gobierno desmintiese que se había depositado dicho oro en el extranjero, aunque tuvo que reconocer que efectuó pagos con él (41).

Sea como fuere, la salida del oro influyó, y mucho, en la crisis monetaria; pero no tanto como lo haría la excesiva inflación de billetes —ello no va en contra de que algunos políticos opinen que el billete sin valor respaldado es un excelente medio para financiar revoluciones, como decía B. Franklin.

Para Tuñón y García-Nieto (42) el Banco de España, sin modificar su estatuto legal, en la práctica, se convirtió en un organismo dirigido y controlado por el Ministerio de Hacienda. Esto fue lo que permitió al gobierno movilizar los depósitos de oro como instrumento principal de financiación de la guerra y hacer frente a la inflación, en la que uno de los factores que influyó fue la depreciación de la peseta, provocada también por la bolsa extranjera.

¿Hacer frente a la inflación? No debió de ser un buen medio. De una parte se gastaban el oro que ya no podría avalar a unos billetes en constante devaluación, de otra entregaban a los españoles cantidades crecientes de billetes sin ninguna cobertura metálica, que incrementaban el papel circulante, para financiar la guerra en el interior. Todo ello creaba inflación de papel.

Para comprobarlo basta ver los cuadros que reproduce Ángel Viñas en la obra de urbión sobre la guerra civil. En el cuadro 23 sobre la oferta monetaria y la población (43) se puede seguir el incremento, ininterrumpido y de fuerte ritmo, de la cantidad de billetes en circulación, junto al descenso de la población sobre la que podían ejercer como medios de pago legales. Y el cuadro 26 que se ocupa de los precios medios mensuales de las dos pesetas españolas en el mercado de París (44) permite comparar la depreciación constante de la peseta republicana con el paralelo aumento de la inflación del papel —visto en el cuadro 23 citado.

Llegó a tal punto dicha inflación que en la zona republicana no era dinero contante y sonante lo que faltaba, aunque lo de sonante se utiliza en sentido figurado, pues las monedas metálicas desaparecieron y fueron sustituidas por redondeles de cartulina o papeles. Lo que escaseaba era qué comprar con las pesetas. En la mayoría de las ciudades, a medida que avanzaba la guerra, los escaparates quedaban vacíos. Casi nadie deseaba vender a cambio de unos billetes depreciados, con los cuales poco podía comprarse —la serpiente se mordía la cola—, y más cuando se sabía que, de ganar Franco, aquellos billetes perderían su valor. Todos eran de series nuevas puestos en circulación después de julio de 1936 (45).

Y si nadie quería esos billetes, fruto de la política financiera del gobierno, los tenedores de plata no iban a dar sus monedas a cambio.

La política financiero-monetaria del gobierno aún intensificó más la crisis del sistema monetario. No sólo perdía credibilidad y buena parte de la cobertura de los billetes con la fuga del oro, también supermultiplicaba la innación de un papel nada fiable. Papel —los billetes— que no podía ser utilizado para pequeñas transacciones porque su fracción menor, antes de 1938 y después de que se pusiesen en circulación los certificados de plata proyectados en 1935, no descendía de las 5 pesetas. De forma que dichos billetes no sólo eran una moneda devaluada sino que daban la razón a los acaparadores de plata acuñada fraccionaria y contribuirían a que éstos incrementasen las tesorizaciones. Y para colmo de colmos, repito, aquellos papeles no servían como moneda fraccionaria. La crisis de medios de pago divisionarios en 1937 era inevitable.

El Ministerio de Hacienda

Excusándose en la intención de eliminar del mercado la moneda de la monarquía, sustituyéndola por otra de nuevo cuño fiel al ideal republicano y con una estructura que se adaptase mejor a las nuevas necesidades del intercambio económico, y alegando que técnicamente la Casa de la Moneda no estaba preparada para acuñar con rapidez la cantidad requerida para la vida cotidiana, el Ministerio de Hacienda, el 13 de octubre de 1936, decretó lo siguiente:

«Artículo 1°. A partir del día 17 de Octubre, el Banco de España entregará provisionalmente certificados plata de cinco y diez pesetas en sustitución de la actual moneda de plata, teniendo tales certificados el mismo poder liberatorio de la actual moneda de cinco pesetas.

Artículo 2°. El Banco guardará en sus Cajas la cantidad de plata amonedada equivalente a los certificados que ponga en circulación, sin perjuicio de conservar también la plata amonedada equivalente a los certificados que ponga en circulación, sin perjuicio de conservar también la plata necesaria para el cumplimiento de lo preceptuado por la base segunda del artículo 1° de la vigente ley de Ordenación bancaria.

Artículo 3°. El Ministerio de Hacienda procederá con la mayor rapidez al estudio y ejecución de la nueva ley monetaria para acuñar la nueva moneda republicana de plata de cinco y diez pesetas que ha de sustituir en su día a los certificados plata puestos ahora provisionalmente en circulación. Oportunamente se publicará la fecha a partir de la cual la actual moneda de plata dejará de ser moneda legal.» (46)

De otro lado, en el territorio rebelde se procedió al estampillado de los billetes del Banco de España que habían quedado en su zona al estallar el conflicto armado con el fin de darles un curso legal dentro de su jurisdicción. Ello fue buena excusa para que el Ministerio de Hacienda republicano los anulase rápidamente. El 29 de noviembre de 1936 decretaba:

«Artículo primero. Queda prohibida la tenencia y circulación de los billetes del Banco de España alterados por estampillas facciosas y no estarán, por lo tanto, garantizados por las reservas oro del Banco de España…

Artículo Tercero. El Banco de España no admitirá en sus cajas los billetes estampillados.» (47)

En el ecuador de 1936-1937 se daba el hecho de que en determinadas sucursales del Banco de España se disponía de los saldos de las cuentas de crédito por medio de vales o pagarés, que se libraban por cantidad fija en papel impreso estampado con el reconocimiento de la sucursal de la existencia de saldo, con lo que se creaba una circulación semejante a los billetes del Banco de España. Como ello iba en contra de las normas de la ley de Ordenación Bancada, el Ministerio dispuso la siguiente orden:

«Que el Banco de España, en sus distintas Sucursales o Agencias, se abstenga en absoluto de autorizar con su firma vales, pagarés o talones de esta especie, destinados a circular como billetes; limitándose a abonar directamente o por compensación los cheques que se le presenten contra cuentas de créditos abiertas y siempre que lo hubieran sido de conformidad con las prescripciones de los Estatutos y Reglamentos de ese Banco de España. Valencia, 14 de Enero de 1937.» (48)

sirviéndose del Comisario general de Banca y del Gobernador del Banco de España que firmaron dicha orden.

El 16 de enero de 1937, a fin de lograr cumplida ejecución del decreto del 13 de octubre de 1936 que dispuso la circulación de los certificados plata, el Ministerio de Hacienda ordenó que los bancos, cajas de ahorro y toda clase de centros y establecimientos públicos, cumplieran con la máxima diligencia lo prevenido en la regla tercera de la orden ministerial del 15 de octubre de 1936 relativa al cambio de las existencias de plata en monedas de cinco pesetas por certificados plata y que, periódicamente, a cada quincena entregasen en el Banco de España, para su canje, las existencias de plata gruesa que pudieran haber recogido. Se exigía además que todos los centros oficiales y entidades bancarias efectuasen preferentemente sus pagos con certificados de plata (49).

El 22 de febrero del mismo año el Ministerio aún amplió más el campo de acción de los susodichos certificados decretando:

«El Banco de España queda autorizado para entregar certificados de plata a cambio o en lugar de la moneda divisionaria de plata. Cuando así se haga una cantidad de plata divisionaria de igual valor nominal que los certificados será retirada de la circulación.» (50)

Está suficientemente claro como para excedernos en comentarios. El Ministerio utilizaba la moneda. De un lado eliminaba los billetes llamados facciosos y se apuntaba una excusa para poner en circulación nuevos billetes, algunos de los que ayudaron a financiar la guerra en el interior (51) creando, a su vez, una galopante inflación de papel. De otro luchaba por impedir que los particulares sustituyesen la moneda estatal con vales o pagarés; pero lo único que logró fue perder el control de esos vales y pagarés que se buscaron otros bancos, que no fuesen el de España o sus sucursales, o constituyeron depósitos propios para avalarse. Así se vieron favorecidas las emisiones de bonos de entidades de naturaleza no crediticia y dificultadas las de esa naturaleza (52).

Sin embargo, lo más significativo con relación a la crisis de moneda divisionaria durante 1937 fueron los certificados de plata —unos insignificante papeles—. Con ellos el Ministerio compró plata gruesa para tenerla dispuesta en sus arcas, recuérdese que también se sirvió de dicho metal para financiar la guerra en el exterior. Así empezó a cambiarse tímidamente la moneda de un sistema basado en la plata y las coberturas metálicas por otra eminentemente fiduciaria, aunque en un principio se pensase en volver a hacer las emisiones con el referido metal, proyecto que las circunstancias o una política consciente —no lo sabemos— impidieron.

Dichos certificados difícilmente podían sustituir a las piezas de plata de la monarquía anterior puesto que sus valores eran sólo de 10 y 5 pesetas respectivamente. Para lograrlo hubieran tenido que reconocer que el sistema databa de 1868, que el sistema también contenía pequeñas monedas de plata y no sólo las de plata gruesa y que la plata pequeña republicana acuñada en circulación poseía una materialidad idéntica a la de los duros que también requería el cambio; cambio que no fue previsto por el decreto del 13 de octubre de 1936 o que, si lo fue, no lo explicitaron en el texto que publicó la Gaceta correspondiente.

¿Acaso las monedas de plata de dos, una y media pesetas de la monarquía no merecían la atención del Ministerio de Hacienda por su reducido peso? ¿O es que la emisión de certificados de plata sólo pretendía ser un mínimo intento de arrebatar a la moneda metálica parte de sus atribuciones en favor del papel?

Lo único que se puede afirmar con alguna certeza —porque lo he visto en mis abuelos y la gente coetánea— es que el duro de plata tenía más valor e importancia que cinco monedas de peseta o diez de cincueta céntimos del mismo metal. Es evidente que los hombres del gobierno cayeron en esta concepción. A los mismos sólo les preocupaba la plata gruesa —el duro— (53), las demás piezas del sistema carecían de importancia. ¿Quién tenía en la mente la idea de que a alguien le pudiese interesar la escasa plata que llevaban las piezas de 2, 1 y 0,50 pesetas?; ¿qué son los 10, 5 ó 2,5 gramos de plata de 835 milésimas comparados con los 25 gramos de plata de 900 milésimas del duro? (54). No hay duda de que si estas monedas de baja ley y reducido peso están junto a un duro, cualquiera lo prefiere a ellas. Esto es lo que hizo el Ministerio. ¿Pero qué sucede si el duro no está? Que la plata de las otras monedas de poco peso y baja ley se vuelve apetecible y más valiosa que un certificado de dudosa estabilidad (55). «¿Cómo voy a darle monedas de plata a este señor/a que me trae un papel que no puedo canjear por un duro?», se preguntarían los tenedores de monedas de plata. En breve llegaría la especulación y el agiotismo. A consecuencia de este fenómeno, que los economistas describen como ley de Gresham, la moneda mala expulsó a la buena.

Lo que en un principio, tal vez, fue un medio para paliar la posible ocultación de la plata, recoger plata gruesa y sustituir las monedas de cinco pesetas monárquicas —hablo de los certificados de plata—, a la postre se convirtió en una causa de ocultación de dicho metal que cada vez se vería menos y, a partir de febrero de 1937, en un importante elemento inflacionista. Lo peor es que no ofrecieron una alternativa viable y completa, aunque cabe reconocer que en las circunstancias bélicas que se vivían los impedimentos eran abundantes. Por otra parte los certificados de plata de 5 y 10 pesetas procedían de un proyecto anterior a la guerra, por lo que sus deficiencias se permitían un amplio margen de justificación heredada; el Ministerio de Hacienda de octubre de 1936 sólo culminó el viejo proyecto. Lo cierto es que en 1938 se pusieron en circulación certificados de 2, 1 y 0,50 pesetas, fruto ya de las necesidades impuestas por los acontecimientos (56). Pero entre 1936 y 1938 media un año, un año de problemas monetarios.

Ahora me pregunto: ¿Aciertan aquellos que echan toda la culpa de la ocultación de la moneda divisionaria y su consiguiente desaparición del circuito monetario a los particulares y elementos fascistas? (57). No niego que éstos tuvieran su papel, pero quiero resaltar que las enormes fauces del Ministerio de Hacienda también tragaron lo suyo, con unos medios mucho más poderosos que los particulares, el ciudadano corriente, y que no ofreció, dicho Ministerio, una alternativa válida hasta 1938.

II. CRISIS Y SOLUCIONES DURANTE 1937

La crisis llegó. Para los autores que han estudiado zonas desconectadas del poder central desde el principio ésta se manifestó ya en 1936 (58). Para nosotros, que estudiamos el caso concreto de la provincia de Alicante, los problemas monetarios no se detectan hasta 1937.

J. M. Bricall (59) dice que la inflación y el deterioro de los mecanismos monetarios no fue más que una faceta de la «sotragada» —sacudida— general de la sociedad que se produjo —guerra y revolución—. La circulación monetaria normal se vio perturbada por un proceso de tesorización de ciertos medios de pago y por el encarecimiento natural de la circulación a través del sistema bancario, causado especialmente por la retirada inicial de depósitos y por las limitaciones que el poder público impuso a esta circulación. Como consecuencia de estos dos fenómenos la moneda fraccionaria desapareció y la aceptación del sistema monetario presentó unas connotaciones específicas: tesorización de ciertos activos líquidos, circulación elevada de otros y ausencia de moneda fraccionaria, etcétera. Todo ello hablando, naturalmente, de Cataluña.

Estudiando también Cataluña, A. Turró (60) afirma que la alteración de las circunstancias económicas como consecuencia inmediata de la guerra afectó en proporciones extraordinarias el ritmo normal de la actividad financiera, derivándose, entre otras cosas, una gran escasez de moneda fraccionaria puesto que ya desde los primeros meses del conflicto se observó un intenso atesoramiento de las monedas de plata por parte de particulares que, influenciados por el incierto resultado de una guerra que preveían larga y el posible naufragio de muchos valores materiales, creían que la plata podría convertirse en la seguridad de su porvenir, hecho que motivó la regular desaparición de estas monedas; atesoramiento que fueron incapaces de evitar e impedir los numerosos decretos que prohibían y castigaban el mencionado acaparamiento. Que cabe señalar que el mismo gobierno contribuyó a esta total desaparición del numerario de plata retirando de la circulación todas las monedas que ingresaban en sus arcas, plata que necesitaba para sus compras de material en el extranjero. Y de otro lado, el Ministerio de Hacienda, por los motivos que sean, no pudo o no supo cumplir con lo que tenía que ser su obligación: dotar al territorio republicano de moneda legal divisonaria del Banco de España. Ello provocó una grave perturbación en la vida económica de cada día ya que se hizo imposible poder devolver cambio o ajustar ningún pago debido a la falta de moneda pequeña.

Rafael Abellá (61), al ocuparse del desconcierto económico de la España republicana, dice que la desaparición de la plata se manifestó muy temprano. En el transcurso del mismo verano de 1936, apenas pasado un mes del alzamiento de julio, la moneda de curso legal al estallar la guerra empezó a ocultarse. Aquello fue el principio de unas dificultades provocadas por la carencia de moneda fraccionaria, de peseta y de calderilla con que efectuar las devoluciones de los cambios. Las medidas conminatorias, las más graves amenazas proferidas contra el atesoramiento, no surtieron efecto apreciable. La plata, el cupro-níquel y el cobre se convirtieron en metales preciosos que aseguraban a sus poseedores contra cualquier contingencia. Y la contingencia que vivía la zona republicana en aquellos momentos era la de las incautaciones, requisas, emisiones de vales, una conmoción económica cuyo resultado no podía ser más que la alarma. El papel podía verse privado de valor, pero el metal sería siempre reconocido. De otro lado, el gobierno tuvo que enfrentarse a muchos pagos, circunstancia que inició la espiral del proceso inflacionista. La posesión de la plata tuvo que restringirse. La emisión de papel se hizo necesaria.

Abellá se sirve de un romance, «Traiga usted dinero suelto», de Antonio Agraz, poeta libertario, para manifestar los problemas del vivir cotidiano ante esa situación. Dicho poema narra las peripecias de una vieja, madre de un combatiente que le manda su soldada, la cual sale a la calle con el billete que le ha enviado su hijo. No puede subir al metro o al tranvía porque no hay cambio. Andando llega a la tienda y se pone en la cola. Cuando le llega su turno el vendedor le dice que no puede comprar nada si no lleva monedas de plata o cobre. La vieja vuelve a casa llorando y le escribe a su hijo pidiéndole que mande perras gordas o plata, no billetes.

Lo que sí que queda claro con el testimonio de estos tres autores es que la crisis existió.

En mi opinión, ésta no fue fruto exclusivo de la guerra que, no sólo dejó al descubierto viejas realidades monetarias, sino que protagonizó numerosas destrucciones, escasez de productos de primera necesidad —ello aumentaba los precios y limitaba el poder adquisitivo del dinero legal—, inseguridad económica —la gente buscaba su futuro atesorando plata, oro…—, saqueos, robos, nuevas responsabilidades y sistemas organizativos casi revolucionarios, etcétera (62); o de la tan citada acaparación, la cual no fue más que un indicador de la crisis que, no contento con revelar la crisis, también la provocó y agravó: fue una especie de desencadenante, culminación del proceso y advertencia de que se requerían cambios para enfrentarse a los problemas; o de la crisis económica que arrastraba el país (63), la cual intensificó las dificultades y mermó algunas de las posibles salidas del caos en que cayeron las cuestiones monetarias durante la guerra civil en la zona republicana. Creo que la crisis llegó como resultado de a interacción de estos tres factores citados junto a los que hemos estado viendo en el apartado I del presente capítulo: Un sistema monetario con deficiencias, la inestabilidad de la plata de las monedas y lo que ello supuso, la fuga del oro y la inflación de papel moneda, la actuación del Ministerio de Hacienda y, como más adelante comprobaremos, la insuficiencia técnica de la Casa de la Moneda que retrasó la solución estatal de un aspecto concreto de la crisis: la carencia de moneda fraccionaria.

Todas estas circunstancias mencionadas se tradujeron en inflación del dinero y carencia de moneda fraccionaria. Nació el problema de los intercambios cotidianos, de la compra, del transporte… y, el pez que se muerde la cola —para nosotros la crisis monetaria—, el círculo vicioso de los problemas dinerarios desembocó en la interrupción del comercio al por menor.

Era preciso encontrar soluciones. Los mecanismos naturales de la economía y del intercambio asomaban la cabeza. El agiotismo se imponía. Y el espíritu del reducido poder local asoló los municipios y gobiernos regionales que, ante la pasividad estatal, para enfrentarse a la crisis crearon su propia moneda con una circulación limitada a sus respectivas jurisdicciones.

Los primeros en notar la crisis fueron los comerciantes, los cuales se veían imposibilitados para devolver cambios, de forma que en lugar de moneda divisionaria entregaban vales o abonos. El sistema era fácil y productivo porque mucha gente no se presentaba al reembolso y los vales se convertían en beneficios (64).

Al poco tiempo, y favorecidos por la fragmentación del poder republicano y la dispersión de los poderes públicos, los organismos regionales, Ayuntamientos, Consejos Municipales, sindicatos, comités políticos, colectividades obreras, unidades militares, cooperativas, economatos y empresas industriales lanzaron sus propios bonos. Más de 2.000 entidades con cerca de 7.000 billetes diferentes, sin contar a los comerciantes individuales (65).

A lo largo de 1937 la zona republicana se convirtió en un muestrario de piezas convencionales que «tuvieron la virtualidad de solventar las más imperiosas necesidades del subsistir en una sociedad que seguía ajustada a las transacciones dinerarias como patrón y vehículo adquisitivo». Pero la pérdida del sentido reverencial del dinero fue espeluznante. La puesta en circulación de esta serie de vales locales tuvo enorme transcendencia sobre las ideas y la vida de los españoles a quienes tqfcó comprar, vender y traficar con dichos bonos. «La desacralización del dinero hizo perder todo aprecio hacia él» (66).

Hablando de las monedas municipales catalanas, Tarradellas, en el prólogo de la obra de Turró (67), dice que las emisiones municipales, reclamadas sobre todo por la necesidad de hacer frente a la desaparición de la moneda fraccionaria, también tuvieron posibles incidencias sobre los ingresos municipales (68).

De otra parte, también se solucionó la crisis —cabe pensar si fue una solución o un resultado de ella— regresando a los niveles ancestrales del intercambio:

«El trueque sustituyó en todas partes a una moneda en la que nadie creía». (69)

¿Hasta qué punto el trueque sustituyó a la moneda fraccionaria que faltaba? ¿En realidad, el trueque no tiende a eliminar la moneda? Aquí sólo podemos hablar de la provincia de Alicante, puesto que se ha estudiado científicamente. En ésta hubo dos tipos de trueque. Uno puro, que elimina la moneda, y otro que no es trueque propiamente sino el uso de una moneda-mercancía representada por el tabaco, los cigarrillos o las cerillas. Se trató de una mercancía que actuó como equivalente general y tendió a sustituir a la moneda fraccionaria.

Soluciones estatales

Junto a la persecución de los acaparadores de monedas de plata y oro (70) el gobierno intentó emitir moneda fraccionaria con precarios resultados. El 19 de marzo de 1937 (71) el Ministerio de Hacienda decretó que:

«Las nuevas necesidades monetarias que han sido consecuencia de la guerra y de la distribución más igualitaria de la riqueza nacional obligan constantemente al Gobierno a adoptar medidas que atiendan a esas necesidades. Entre ellas descuella en primer término la mayor demanda de monedas divisionarias de una y dos pesetas, por efecto de una circulación más rápida y extensa y un número más considerable de pequeñas transacciones impuesto por las condiciones en que ahora se desarrolla el comercio al detall.

No sería prudente en las circunstancias actuales ampliar la acuñación de moneda de plata, aprovechando las abundantes existencias de este metal en las cajas del Banco Nacional, plata que podría ser exportada subrepticiamente, sustrayéndose así, en forma clandestina, recursos positivos al país, los cuales hoy deben ponerse en su totalidad bajo el absoluto control de las autoridades para los fines nacionales. Por esa causa, el Gobierno, debidamente asesorado por elementos técnicos competentes, ha resuelto» (72)

se emitiese la moneda que las necesidades del mercado requería y que ésta se acuñase sobre un metal análogo al empleado en Francia para el mismo fin.

El primero de los artículos del decreto autorizaba al gobierno para que emitiese cien millones de pesetas de monedas de una y de dos pesetas de bronce de aluminio. El segundo regulaba el peso, forma, tipos y tamaños de las monedas. El tercero establecía su circulación en concurrencia con la plata. El cuarto especificaba que las operaciones de acuñación las llevaría a cabo la Fábrica Nacional de Moneda y Timbre, además de indicar la forma de liquidar los gastos, etcétera.

En abril de ese mismo año Mundo Obrero preguntaba:

«¿Cuándo circularán en Madrid las nuevas monedas de peseta?»

Y algún tiempo más tarde repetía:

«¿A dónde han ido a parar las pesetas de nueva acuñación? En Madrid sólo las hemos visto como una curiosidad numismática.» (73)

Lo cierto es que en agosto de 1937 la Fábrica Nacional de Moneda y Timbre se vio obligada a comprar maquinaria moderna porque la suya ya no servía (74).

Las monedas de 2 pesetas en metal nunca aparecieron y las de peseta no circularon hasta 1938. Lo cual quiere decir que durante 1937 la moneda fraccionaria en la zona republicana dependió de la improvisación artesanal de los particulares y de la iniciativa de los poderes públicos locales o regionales de la retaguardia.

NOTAS

(1) En el apartado II veremos la crisis.

(2) Vid. FERNÁNDEZ, C. «La creación de la peseta en la evolución del sistema monetario de 1847.» en ANES Ensayos sobre la economía española a mediados del s. XIX. Madrid 1970.

(3) GIL PARRES, O. Historia universal de la moneda. Madrid 1974. p. 221.

(4) VICENS VIVES, J. Historia de España y América social y económica, t. V Barcelona 1977. p. 103.

(5) VICENTI, J.A. La peseta. Madrid 1976. pp. 5-75.

(6) Cfr. GIL PARRES, O. o.c. p. 221.

(7) BANCO DE ESPAÑA Los Billetes del Banco de España. Madrid 1979. pp. 121 y ss.

(8) TORTELLA, G. «La economía española 1830-1900» en TUÑÓN, M. Historia de España, t. VIII Barcelona 1981. pp. 124-129.

(9) Vid. GASTAN & GAYÓN Las Monedas Hispano Musulmanas y Cristianas 711-1981. Madrid 1980. pp. 1136 y ss.

(10) GIL PARRES, O. o.c. p. 221.

(11) GALBRAITH, J.K. El dinero. Barcelona 1983. pp. 168-169.

(12) V1CENS VIVES, J. o.c. p. 105.

(13) VILAR, P. Oro y moneda en la historia 1450-1920. Barcelona 1981. p. 51.

(14) GALBRAITH, J.K. o.c. p. 236.

(15) YEOMAN, R.S. A guide book of United States coins. Wisconsin 1969. p. 12.

(16) THIMONIER, A. Encyclopédie des Monnaies et Billets de France. Clermont-Ferrand. pp. 338-342. (1981).

(17) VICENTI, J.A. o.c. p. 78.

(18) BANCO DE ESPAÑA o.c. p. 279.

(19) Cantidades tomadas de CASTÁN & CAYÓN o.c. pp. 1120 y ss. y CALICÓ, F.X. «La numismática de la guerra civil española» en La guerra civil española. Exposición itinerante del Ministerio de Cultura. Madrid 1980. p. 64.

(20) Vid. TURRÓ, A. Elpaper moneda cátala 1936-1939. Barcelona 1982. p. 14.

(21) Vid. CALICÓ, F.X. o.c. pp. 63-70.

(22) BRICALL, J.M. Política económica de la Generalitat 1936-1939 t. II «el sistema financer». Barcelona 1979. pp. varias.

(23) TURRÓ, A. o.c. p. 19.

(24) TAMAMES, R. Introducción a la economía española. Madrid 1980. pp. 282-283.

(25) BANCO DE ESPAÑA o.c. pp. 196-197.

(26) Ibídem. p. 235.

(27) Ibídem. pp. 274-277.

(28) Decreto del Ministerio de Hacienda 19-111-1937. Gaceta de la República, 20-JII-1937.

(29) TURRO, A. o.c. p. 15.

(30) GALBRAITH, J.K. o.c. p. 183.

(31) A.M. de Alicante. Libro de Actas de sesiones municipales, s.o. 10-VI-1937.

(32) Datos de TUÑÓN & GARCÍA-NIETO, M.a C. «La guerra civil» en TUÑÓN de LARA, M. Historia de España, t. IX Labor. Barcelona, p. 439.

(33) ABELLÁ, R. «La pesadilla diaria de las dos Españas» en La guerra civil española. URBION t. 11 Madrid 1983. p. 50.

(34) TUÑÓN & GARCÍA NIETO, M.a C. o.c. p. 439.

(35) Para profundizar más en el tema vid. por ejemplo: SARDA, J. «El Banco de España, 1931-1962» en El Banco de España. Una historia económica. Madrid 1970; VIÑAS, A. El oro español en la guerra civil. Madrid 1976 y El oro de Moscú. Barcelona 1979.

(36) Gaceta de Madrid. 4-X-1936.

(37) Ibídem. ll-X-1936.

(38) Gacetas de la República. 7-1-1937, 14-11-1937, 16-111-1937…

(39) Palabras tomadas de GALBRAITH, J.k. o.c. p. 167.

(40) DE LA CIERVA, R. Historia ilustrada de la guerra civil española. Barcelona 1977. pp. 380-381.

(41) Humanidad. (Alcoy) 20-1-1937. p. 3.

(42) TUÑÓN & GARCÍA-NIETO, M.a C. o.c. p. 296.

(43) Un sondeo de los datos que aporta el cuadro 23 para la zona republicana: SUMAS DE CUENTAS CORRIENTES Y BILLETES EN CIRCULACIÓN (millones depts.) 1937, enero: 9.505,8, mayo: 11.520, septiembre: 14.269; 1938, enero: 17.456,8, mayo: 20.336,8, septiembre: 23.697; 1939, enero: 27.533,8. POBLACIÓN (millones de hab.); 1937, enero: 12,5, mayo: 11,8, septiembre: 11,1; 1938, enero: 10,5, mayo: 10,2, septiembre: 9,9; 1939, enero: 7,1. En VIÑAS, A. «Breve bosquejo económico» en URBIÓN o.c. t. 9 p. 124.

(44) Un sondeo de los datos que aporta el cuadro 26 para la zona republicana: Francos por 100 pts. 1937, enero: 86,35, mayo: 72,49, septiembre: 52,04; 1938, enero: 32,20, mayo: 23,20, septiembre: 16,49: 1939, enero: 6,28. En ibidem. p. 127.

(45) Ibidem. 116.

(46) Gaceta de Madrid. 15-X-1936. Recuérdese que estos certificados de papel ya los hemos visto líneas atrás y que su proyecto data de 1935.

(47) Ibídem. 2-XII-1936.

(48) Gaceta de la República. 15-1-1937.

(49) Ibídem. 19-1-1937.

(50) Ibídem. 23-11-1937.

(51) Los milicianos y los soldados del Ejército Popular eran los mejor pagados de su tiempo: diez pesetas por día en mano. VIÑAS, A. o. c. URBIÓN. t. 9 p. 116.

(52) En Cataluña la proliferación de entidades de naturaleza no crediticia que emitieron moneda fue enorme. BRICALL, J. M. o. c. pp. 10 y 280-294. En la provincia de Alicante también, como veremos.

(53) Recuérdese que la expresión plata gruesa ha sido sacada de los decretos y órdenes del Ministerio.

(54) Para la ley y peso de las monedas vid. VICENTI, J. A. o. c. pp. 20-65.

(55) Una explicación del problema de la moneda fraccionaria durante 1937 podría identificarse con la lucha entre una moneda-mercancía-plata revaluada y una moneda-signo-papel devaluada, ni más ni menos la ruptura del equilibrio que habían intentado mantener ambas monedas durante más de 60 años. Ello nos lleva a plantearnos si la crisis monetaria de 1937 fue coyuntural simplemente o estructural. Lo cierto es que el sistema monetario que giraba en torno a la plata se derrumbaría ¿Nacería uno nuevo, acorde con los momentos?

56) Estas emisiones las estudiaremos en el capítulo IV.

(57) Las manifestaciones que acusan a los particulares y elementos fascistas son frecuentes tanto en la prensa como en las actas de las sesiones municipales de los diversos municipales alicantinos estudiados aquí.

(58) Un ejemplo muy claro de estos planteamientos en CONDE, I. «Billete de cincuenta pesetas, emitido en Gijón, en Septiembre de 1937» en Actas del Primer Congreso Nacional de Numismática. Zaragoza 12-16 diciembre de 1972.

(59) BRICALL, J. M. o. c. pp. 29, 26 y 9.

(60) TURRÓ, A. o. c. pp. 18-19.

(61) ABELLÁ, R. La vida cotidiana durante la guerra civil, España Republicana. Barcelona 1975. pp. 319-324.

(62) Para lo que protagonizó la guerra vid. por ejemplo ABELLÁ, R.: La vida cotidiana… o. c. y TUÑÓN & GARCÍA-NIETO: o. c.

(63) Para la situación económica vid. por ejemplo TUÑÓN; M.: La España del siglo XX. t. II Barcelona, edición de 1981. pp. 365-390. y VICENS VIVES: o. c. t. V pp. 247-283.

(64) Vid. CALICÓ, F. X. o. c. p. 65.

(65) BANCO DE ESPAÑA o. c. p. 348 y BRICALL, J. M. o. c. pp. 280-286.

(66) Cfs. ABELLÁ, R. La vida cotidiana… o. c. pp. 326 y 324.

(67) TURRÓ, A. o. c. p. 7.

(68) Los lectores se habrán percatado de que no menciono las emisiones del Banco de España de Bilbao o de Santander, ni las de la Generalitat de Cataluña. Ello es así porque estas emisiones no están directamente relacionadas con el problema de la crisis de la moneda fraccionaria ni del poder adquisitivo de la moneda estatal, las mismas son resultado de la guerra y de unas exigencias políticas.

(69) DE LA CIERVA, R. o. c. p. 378.

(70) En el capítulo siguiente estudiaremos con brevedad dicha persecución en la provincia de Alicante.

(71) Gaceta de la República. 20-111-1937.

(72) El resto de la introducción del decreto ya se ha reproducido en el texto de la nota (28) del presente capítulo.

(73) Vid. ABELL^, R. La vida cotidiana… o. c. p. 320.

(74) Gaceta de la República. 7-VIII-1937.

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CHAGOS ISLANDS – STEALING A NATION – THE CORRUPTION THAT MAKES UNPEOPLE OF AN ENTIRE NATION

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 28, 2008

28/11/2008

CHAGOS ISLANDS – STEALING A NATION – by John Pilger

CLICK HERE FOR A HIGH DEFINITION VERSION OF THE ENTIRE VIDEO

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The native islanders of the Chagos archipelago were forcibly removed from the CHAGOS' FLAGislands by the British Government at that time to make way for an American military airbase during the Cold War. They were forgotten about and left to wither in poverty in the slums of Mauritius. They have been fighting to be allowed to return home ever since, and despite the British courts ruling in favour of this the Government has managed to block that decision, and the Chagossians remain in their enforced purgatory to this day.

STEALING A NATION (John Pilger, 2004) is an extraordinary film about the plight of people of the Chagos Islands in the Indian Ocean – secretly and brutally expelled from their homeland by British governments in the late 1960s CHAGOS ARCHIPELAGOand early 1970s, to make way for an American military base. The base, on the main island of Diego Garcia, was a launch pad for the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. Stealing a Nation has won both the Royal Television Society’s top award as Britain’s best documentary in 2004-5, and a ‘Chris Award’ at the Columbus International Film and Video Festival. A brochure of the film is available at http://www.bullfrogfilms.com/guides/stealguide.pdf. On April 8, 2008, the Chagos Islanders have launched a national Campaign for Resettlement of their islands – go to www.letthemreturn.com. For more information and updates on the plight of the Chagossians, visit the website of the UK Chagos Support Association at www.chagossupport.org.uk.

Other references and articles on the story are as listed below: CHAGOS ARCHIPELAGO

http://www.chagos.org/home.htm

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politic…

Islanders who wait in vain for justice and a paradise lost
Evicted from their tropical idyll in a military deal, victorious in three legal hearings, they now face another battle to be allowed home – From The Times – November 9, 2007

THE CORRUPTION THAT MAKES UNPEOPLE OF AN ENTIRE NATION

27 Nov 2008

In his column for the New Statesman, John Pilger describes the latest chapter in theCHAGOS ARCHIPELAGO extraordinary story of the ‘mass kidnapping’ of the people of the Chagos islands in the Indian Ocean, British citizens expelled from their homeland to make way for an American military base. On 22 October, Britain’s highest court of appeal, the Law Lords, demonstrated how British power words at its apex by handing down a transparently political judgement that dismissed the Magna Carta and banned an entire nation from ever going home.

I went to the Houses of Parliament on 22 October to join a disconsolate group of shivering people who had arrived from a faraway tropical place and were being prevented from entering the Public Gallery to hear their fate. This was not headline news; the BBC reporter seemed almost CHAGOS REFUGEES PROTESTING IN LONDONembarrassed. Crimes of such magnitude are not news when they are ours, and neither is injustice or corruption at the apex of British power.

Lizette Talatte was there, her tiny frail self swallowed by the cavernous stone grey of Westminster Hall. I first saw her in a Colonial Office film from the 1950s which described her homeland, the island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, as a paradise long settled by people “born and brought up in conditions most tranquil and benign”. Lizette was then 14 years old. She remembers the producer saying to her and her friends, “Keep smiling, girls!”. When we met in Mauritius, four years ago, she said: “We didn’t need to be told to smile. I was a happy child, because my roots were deep in Diego Garcia. My great-grandmother was born there, and I made six children there. Maybe only the English can make a film that showed we were an established community, then deny their own evidence and invent the lie that we were transient workers.”CHAGOS REFUGEES PROTESTING - STANDING IN FRONT OF THE ROYAL COURT OF JUSTICE IN LONDON

During the 1960s and 1970s British governments, Labour and Tory, tricked and expelled the entire population of the Chagos Archipelago, more than 2,000 British citizens, so that Diego Garcia could be given to the United States as the site for a military base. It was an act of mass kidnapping carried out in high secrecy. As unclassified official files now show, Foreign Office officials conspired to lie, coaching each other to “maintain” and “argue” the “fiction” that the Chagossians existed only as a “floating population”. On 28 July 1965, a senior Foreign Office official, T C D Jerrom, wrote to the British representative at the United Nations, instructing him to lie to the General Assembly that the Chagos Archipelago was “uninhabited when the United Kingdom government first acquired it”. Nine years later, the Ministry of Defence went further, lying CHAGOS REFUGEES PROTESTING - Louis Olivier Bancoult, (2nd L) Chairman of the Chagos Refugees Group, holds his grandson Julien aloft outside The High Court in central London, 23 May 2007. Families expelled from the Chagos Islands by the British Government to make way for the Diego Garcia US airbase won their legal battle to return home Wednesday. The decision upholds two previous rulings in favour of the islanders, granting them rights of abodethat “there is nothing in our files about inhabitants [of the Chagos] or about an evacuation”.

“To get us out of our homes,” Lizette told me, “they spread rumours we would be bombed, then they turned on our dogs. The American soldiers who had arrived to build the base backed several of their big vehicles against a brick shed, and hundreds of dogs were rounded up and imprisoned there, and they gassed them through a tube from the trucks’ exhaust. You could hear them crying. Then they burned them on a pyre, many still alive.”

Lizette and her family were finally forced on to a rusting freighter and made to lie on a cargo of bird fertiliser during a voyage, through stormy seas, to the slums of Port Louis, Mauritius. Within A demonstrator demanding her return to the Chagos Islands in the Diego Garcia archipelago shouts during a protest outside the Houses of Parliament in London October 22, 2008. Britain's highest court ruled in favour of the British government on Wednesday, blocking the return of hundreds of Chagos Island people to their homes in the south Indian Ocean after nearly 40 years of exile. The decision by the House of Lords ends a years-long battle to secure the Chagos Islanders the right to return to their archipelago, from where they were forcibly removed in the 1960s and '70s to make way for an American airbase on Diego Garcia.months, she had lost Jollice, aged eight, and Regis, aged ten months. “They died of sadness,” she said. “The eight-year-old had seen the horror of what had happened to the dogs. The doctor said he could not treat sadness.”

Since 2000, no fewer than nine high court judgments have described these British government actions as “illegal”, “outrageous” and “repugnant”. One ruling cited Magna Carta, which says no free man can be sent into exile. In desperation, the Blair government used the royal prerogative – the divine right of kings – to circumvent the courts and parliament and to ban the islanders from even visiting the Chagos. When this, too, was overturned by the high court, the government was rescued by the law lords, of whom a majority of one (three to two) found for the government in a scandalously inept, political manner. In the weasel, almost flippant words of LordChagos Islanders look on while Louis Olivier Bancoult (R), Chairman of the Chagos Refugees Group, addresses the media outside The High Court in central London, 23 May 2007. Families expelled from the Chagos Islands by the British Government to make way for the Diego Garcia US airbase won their legal battle to return home Wednesday. The decision upholds two previous rulings in favour of the islanders, granting them rights of abode Hoffmann, “the rightof abode is a creature of the law. The law gives it and the law takes it away.” Forget Magna Carta. Human rights are in the gift of three stooges doing the dirty work of a government, itself lawless.

As the official files show, the Chagos conspiracy and cover-up involved three prime ministers and 13 cabinet ministers, including those who approved “the plan”. But elite corruption is unspeakable in Britain. I know of no work of serious scholarship on this crime against humanity. The honourable exception is the work of the historian Mark Curtis, who describes the Chagossians as “unpeople”.

The reason for this silence is ideological. Courtier commentators and media historians obstruct our CHAGOS ISLANDERS IN FORCED EXILE - Dervillie Permal and his wifeview of the recent past, ensuring, as Harold Pinter pointed out in his Nobel Prize acceptance speech, that while the “systematic brutality, the widespread atrocities, the ruthless suppression of independent thought” in Stalinist Russia were well known in the west, the great state crimes of western governments “have only been superficially recorded, let alone documented”.

Typically, the pop historian Tristram Hunt writes in the Observer (23 November): “Nestling in the slipstream of American hegemony served us well in the 20th century. The bonds of culture, religion, language and ideology ensured Britain a postwarLouis Olivier Bancoult, Chairman of the Chagos Refugees Group, celebrates outside The High Court in central London, 23 May 2007. The High Court on Wednesday upheld a ruling letting families return to their Indian Ocean island homes, from where they were forced out 30 years ago to make way for a US military base. The Court of Appeal backed a High Court ruling in May last year that allowed the families to return to the Chagos Islands, except for Diego Garcia, a launchpad for US military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Britain expelled some 2,000 people from the Chagos Islands, 500 kilometres (310 miles) south of the Maldives, to Mauritius and the Seychelles in the 1960s and 1970s, allowing it to lease Diego Garcia to Washington for 50 years economic bailout, a nuclear deterrent and the continuing ability to ‘punch above our weight’ on the world stage. Thanks to US patronage, our story of decolonisation was for us a relatively painless affair…”

Not a word of this drivel hints at the transatlantic elite’s Cold War paranoia, which put us all in mortal danger, or the rapacious Anglo-American wars that continue to claim untold lives. As part of the “bonds” that allow us to “punch above our weight”, the US gave Britain a derisory $14m discount off the price of Polaris nuclear missiles in exchange for the Chagos Islands, whose “painless decolonisation” was etched on Lizette Talatte’s face the other day. Never forget, Lord Hoffmann, that she, too, will die of sadness.

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SHOOTING AN ELEPHANT

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 27, 2008

1920 – 1940

THE COLLECTED ESSAYS, JOURNALISM AND LETTERS OF GEORGE ORWELL – Vol. 1

AN AGE LIKE THIS

Pages 265, 266, 267, 268, 269, 270, 271, 272

88. Shooting an Elephant

GEORGE ORWELL In Moulmein, in Lower Burma, I was hated by large numbers of people – the only time in my life that I have been important enough for this to happen to me. I was sub-divisional police officer of the town, and in an aimless, petty kind of way anti- European feeling was very bitter. No one had the guts to raise a riot, but if a European woman went through the bazaars alone somebody would probably spit betel juice over her dress. As a police officer I was an obvious target and was baited whenever it seemed safe to do so. When a nimble Burman tripped me up on the football field and the referee (another Burman) looked the other way, the crowd yelled with hideous laughter. This happened more than once. In the end the sneering yellow faces of young men that met me everywhere, the insults hooted after me when I was at a safe distance, got badly on my nerves. The young Buddhist priests were the worst of all. There were several thousands of them in the town and none of them seemed to have anything to do except stand on street corners and jeer at Europeans.

All this was perplexing and upsetting. For at that time I had already made up my mind that imperialism was an evil thing and the sooner I chucked up my job and got out of it the better. Theoretically – and secretly, of course – I was all for the Burmese and all against their oppressors, the British. As for the job I was doing, I hated it more bitterly than I can perhaps make clear. In a job like that you see the dirty work of Empire at close quarters. The wretched prisoners huddling in the stinking cages of the lock-ups, the grey, cowed faces of the long-term convicts, the scarred buttocks of the men who had been flogged with bamboos – all these oppressed me with an intolerable sense of guilt. But I could get nothing into perspective. I was young and ill educated and I had had to think out my problems in the utter silence that is imposed on every Englishman in the East. I did not even know that the British Empire is dying, still less did I know that it is a great deal better than the younger empires that are going to supplant it. All I knew was that I was stuck between my hatred of the empire I served and my rage against the evil-spirited little beasts who tried to make my job impossible. With one part of my mind I thought of the British Raj as an unbreakable tyranny, as something clamped down, in saecula saeculorum, upon the will of prostrate peoples; with another part I thought that the greatest joy in the world would be to drive a bayonet into a Buddhist priest’s guts. Feelings like these are the normal by-products of imperialism; ask any Anglo- Indian official, if you can catch him off duty.

One day something happened which in a roundabout way was enlightening, [t was a tiny incident in itself, but it gave me a better glimpse than t had had before of the real nature of imperialism – the real motives for which despotic governments act. Early one morning the sub-inspector at a police station the other end of the town rang me up on the phone and said that an elephant was ravaging the bazaar. Would I please come and do something about it? I did not know what I could do, but I wanted to see what was happening and I got on to a pony and started out. I took my rifle, an old .44 Winchester and much too small to kill an elephant, but I thought the noise might be useful in terrorem. Various Burmans stopped me on the way and told me about the elephant’s doings. It was not, of course, a wild elephant, but a tame one which had gone ‘must’. It had been chained up as tame elephants always are when their attack of ‘must’ is due, but on the previous night it had broken its chain and escaped. Its mahout, the only person who could manage it when it was in that state, had set out in pursuit, but he had taken the wrong direction and was now twelve hours’ journey away, and in the morning the elephant had suddenly reappeared in the town. The Burmese population had no weapons and were quite helpless against it. It had already destroyed somebody’s bamboo hut, killed a cow and raided some fruit-stalls and devoured the stock; also it had met the municipal rubbish van, and, when the driver jumped out and took to his heels, had turned the van over and inflicted violence upon it.

The Burmese sub-inspector and some Indian constables were waiting for me in the quarter where the elephant had been seen. It was a very poor quarter, a labyrinth of squalid bamboo huts, thatched with palm-leaf, winding all over a steep hillside. I remember that it was a cloudy stuffy morning at the beginning of the rains. We began questioning the people as to where the elephant had gone, and, as usual, failed to get any definite information. That is invariably the case in the East; a story always sounds clear enough at a distance, but the nearer you get to the scene of events the vaguer it becomes. Some of the people said that the elephant had gone in one direction, some said that he had gone in another, some professed not even to have heard of any elephant. I had almost made up my mind that the whole story was a pack of lies, when we heard yells a little distance away. There was a loud, scandalized cry of ‘Go away, child! Go away this instant!’ and an old woman with a switch in her hand came round the corner of a hut, violently shooing away a crowd of naked children. Some more women followed, clicking their tongues and exclaiming; evidently there was something there that the children ought not to have seen. I rounded the hut and saw a man’s dead body sprawling in the mud. He was an Indian, a black Dravidian coolie, almost naked, and he could not have been dead many minutes. The people said that the elephant had come suddenly upon him round the corner of the hut, caught him with its trunk, put its foot on his back and ground him into the earth. This was the rainy season and the ground was soft, and his face had scored a trench a foot deep and a couple of yards long. He was lying on his belly with arms crucified and head sharply twisted to one side. His face was coated with mud, the eyes wide open, the teeth bared and grinning with an expression of unendurable agony. (Never tell me, by the way, that the dead look peaceful. Most of the corpses I have seen looked devilish.) The friction of the great beast’s foot had stripped the skin from his back as neatly as one skins a rabbit. As soon as I saw the dead man I sent an orderly to a friend’s house near by to borrow an elephant rifle. I had already sent back the pony, not wanting it to go mad with fright and throw me if it smelled the elephant.

The orderly came back in a few minutes with a rifle and five cartridges, and meanwhile some Burmans had arrived and told us that the elephant was in the paddy fields below, only a few hundred yards away. As I started forward practically the whole population of the quarter flocked out of their houses and followed me. They had seen the rifle and were all shouting excitedly that I was going to shoot the elephant. They had not shown much interest in the elephant when he was merely ravaging their homes, but it was different now that he was going to be shot. It was bit of fun to them, as it would be to an English crowd; besides, they wanted the meat. It made me vaguely uneasy. I had no intention of shooting the elephant – I had merely sent for the rifle to defend myself if necessary – and it is always unnerving to have a crowd following you. I marched down the hill, looking and feeling a fool, with the rifle over my shoulder and an ever-growing army of people jostling at my heels. At the bottom when you got away from the huts there was a metalled road and beyond that a miry waste of paddy fields a thousand yards across, not yet ploughed but soggy from the first rains and dotted with coarse grass. The elephant was standing eighty yards from the road, his left side towards us. He took not the slightest notice of the crowd’s approach. He was tearing up bunches of grass, beating them against his knees to clean them and stuffing them into his mouth.

I had halted on the road. As soon as I saw the elephant I knew with perfect certainty that I ought not to shoot him. It is a serious matter to shoot a working elephant – it is comparable to destroying a huge and costly piece of machinery – and obviously one ought not to do it if it can possibly be avoided. And at that distance, peacefully eating, the elephant looked no more dangerous than a cow. I thought then and I think now that his attack of ‘must’ was already passing off; in which case he would merely wander harmlessly about until the mahout came back and caught him. Moreover, I did not in the least want to shoot him. I decided that I would watch him for a little while to make sure that he did not turn savage again, and then go home.

But at that moment I glanced round at the crowd that had followed me. It was an immense crowd, two thousand at the least and growing every minute. It blocked the road for a long distance on either side. I looked at the sea of yellow faces above the garish clothes – faces all happy and excited over this bit of fun, all certain that the elephant was going to be shot. They were watching me as they would watch a conjurer about to perform a trick. They did not like me, but with the magical rifle in my hands I was momentarily worth watching. And suddenly I realized that I should have to shoot the elephant after all. The people expected it of me and I had got to do it; I could feel their two thousand wills pressing me forward, irresistibly. And it was at this moment, as I stood there with the rifle in my hands, that I first grasped the hollowness, the futility of the white man’s dominion in the East. Here was I, the white man with his gun, standing in front of the unarmed native crowd – seemingly the leading actor of the piece; but in reality I was only an absurd puppet pushed to and fro by the will of those yellow faces behind. I perceived in this moment that when the white man turns tyrant it is his own freedom that he destroys. He becomes a sort of hollow, posing dummy, the conventionalized figure of a sahib. For it is the condition of his rule that he shall spend his \ life in trying to impress the ‘natives’ and so in every crisis he has got to do what the ‘natives’ expect of him. He wears a mask, and his face grows to fit it. I had got to shoot the elephant. I had committed myself to doing it when I sent for the rifle. A sahib has got to act like a sahib; he has got to appear resolute, to know his own mind and do definite things. To come all that way, rifle in hand, with two thousand people marching at my heels, and then to trail feebly away, having done nothing – no, that was impossible. The crowd would laugh at me. And my whole life, every white man’s life in the East, was one long struggle not to be laughed at.

But I did not want to shoot the elephant. I watched him beating his bunch of grass against his knees, with that preoccupied grandmotherly air that elephants have. It seemed to me that it would be murder to shoot him. At that age I was not squeamish about killing animals, but I had never shot an elephant and never wanted to. (Somehow it always seems worse to kill a lar^e animal.) Besides, there was the beast’s owner to be considered. Alive, the elephant was worth at least a hundred pounds; dead, he would only be worth the value of his tusks – five pounds, possibly. But I had got to act quickly. I turned to some experienced-looking Burmans who had been there when we arrived, and asked them how the elephant had been behaving. They all said the same thing: he took no notice of you if you left him alone, but he might charge if you went too close to him.

It was perfectly clear to me what I ought to do. I ought to walk up to within, say, twenty-five yards of the elephant and test his behaviour. If he charged I could shoot, if he took no notice of me it would be safe to leave him until the mahout came back. But also I knew that I was going to do no such thing. I was a poor shot with a rifle and the ground was soft mud into which one would sink at every step. If the elephant charged and I missed him, I should have about as much chance as a toad under a steam-roller. But even then I was not thinking particularly of my own skin, only the watchful yellow faces behind. For at that moment, with the crowd watching me, I was not afraid in the ordinary sense, as I would have been if I had been alone. A white man mustn’t be frightened in front of ‘natives’; and so, in general, he isn’t frightened. The sole thought in my mind was that if anything went wrong those two thousand Burmans would see me pursued, caught, trampled on and reduced to a grinning corpse like that Indian up the hill. And if that happened it was quite probable that some of them would laugh. That would never do. There was only one alternative. I shoved the cartridges into the magazine and lay down on the road to get a better aim.

The crowd grew very still, and a deep, low, happy sigh, as of people who see the theatre curtain go up at last, breathed from innumerable throats. They were going to have their bit of fun after all. The rifle was a beautiful German thing with cross- hair sights. I did not then know that in shooting an elephant one should shoot to cut an imaginary bar running from ear-hole to ear-hole. I ought therefore, as the elephant was sideways on, to have aimed straight at his ear-hole; actually I aimed several inches in front of this, thinking the brain would be further forward.

When I pulled the trigger I did not hear the bang or feel the kick – one never does when a shot goes home – but I heard the devilish roar of glee that went up from the crowd. In that instant, in too short a time, one would have thought, even for the bullet to get there, a mysterious, terrible change had come over the elephant. He neither stirred nor fell, but every line of his body had altered. He looked suddenly stricken, shrunken, immensely old, as though the frightful impact of the bullet had paralysed him without knocking him down. At last, after what seemed a long time – it might have been five seconds, I dare say – he sagged flabbily to his knees. His mouth slobbered. An enormous senility seemed to have settled upon him. One could have imagined him thousands of years old. I fired again into the same spot. At the second shot he did not collapse but climbed with desperate slowness to his feet and stood weakly upright, with legs sagging and head drooping. I fired a third time. That was the shot that did for him. You could see the agony of it jolt his whole body and knock the last remnant of strength from his legs. But in falling he seemed for a moment to rise, for as his hind legs collapsed beneath him he seemed to tower upwards like a huge rock toppling, his trunk reaching skyward like a tree. He trumpeted, for the first and only time. And then down he came, his belly towards me, with a crash that seemed to shake the ground even where I lay.

I got up. The Burmans were already racing past me across the mud. It was obvious that the elephant would never rise again, but he was not dead. He was breathing very rhythmically with long rattling gasps, his great mound of a side painfully rising and falling. His mouth was wide open – I could see far down into caverns of pale pink throat. I waited a long time for him to die, but his breathing did not weaken. Finally I fired my two remaining shots into the spot where I thought his heart must be. The thick blood welled out of him like red velvet, but still he did not die. His body did not even jerk when the shots hit him, the tortured breathing continued without a pause. He was dying, very slowly and in great agony, but in some world remote from me where not even a bullet could damage him further. I felt that 1 had got to put an end to that dreadful noise. It seemed dreadful to see the great beast lying there, powerless to move and yet powerless to die. and not even to be able to finish him. [ sent back for my small rifle and poured shot after shot into his heart and down his throat. They seemed to make no impression. The tortured gasps continued as steadily as the ticking of a clock.

In the end I could not stand it any longer and went away. [ heard later that it took him half an hour to die. Burmans were arriving with dahs and baskets even before I left, and I was told they had stripped his body almost to the bones by the afternoon.

Afterwards, of course, there were endless discussions about the shooting of the elephant. The owner was furious, but he was only an Indian and could do nothing. Besides, legally I had done the right thing, for a mad elephant has to be killed, like a mad dog, if its owner fails to control it. Among the Europeans opinion was divided. The older men said I was right, the younger men said it was a damn shame to shoot an elephant for killing a coolie, because an elephant was worth more than any damn Coringhee coolie. And afterwards I was very glad that the coolie had been killed; it put me legally in the right and it gave me a sufficient pretext for shooting the elephant. I often wondered whether any of the others grasped that I had done it solely to avoid looking a fool.

New Writing, No. 2, Autumn 1936; Penguin New Writing, No. 1, [November] 1940; broadcast in the B.B.C. Home Service, 12 October 1948; .S.E.; O.R.; C.E.

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CABRISAS: LA ECONOMÍA NO PODÍA SEGUIR FUNCIONANDO COMO UN CASINO – Cabrisas en su participación en la cumbre del Alba, resaltó la incapacidad de los países de Europa y Estados Unidos de contribuir con las solicitudes de los organismos internacionales, para la ayuda de los países en vía de desarrollo, pero ”en pocos días fue capaz de invertir más de 30 millones de millones para salvar a los banqueros”

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 26, 2008

TeleSur – Hace: 01 hora

El primer vicepresidente del Consejo de Ministros de Cuba, Ricardo Cabrisas indicó con relación a El primer vicepresidente del Consejo de Ministros de Cuba, Ricardo Cabrisasla crisis económica mundial que “la economía no puede seguir funcionando como un casino”.

Según Cabrisas el sistema económico funcionaba “para el beneficio de unos pocos especuladores y el sufrimiento para el 80 por ciento de la población del planeta”.

Las declaraciones fueron emitidas durante su participación en la reunión de los países del ALBA que se realiza este miércoles en la capital de Venezuela y donde se realiza un debate para buscar la respuesta de esta organización regional a la crisis financiera mundial.

Sobre la crisis destacó que “se trata de la crisis del orden económico mundial injusto, sin equidad alguna, sobre el cual se apoya en buena medida el orden social y político más injusto de nuestra época”

Asímismo indicó que esta crisis no es la repetición de otras anteriores, “ni siquiera de aquella que, en los años 30 del siglo 20, se conoció como la gran depresión, en la actualidad la crisis económica se acompaña de otros variados rostros de crisis, como la energética, la alimentaria, ecológica y por supuesta la social”

Cabrisas explicó que “La crisis actual tiene lugar cuando la globalización de la economía mundial es más extensa e intensa que nunca antes.”

Calificó la crisis como un reto a la capacidad de los humanos: “Ésta va más allá del neoliberalismo y de la crisis misma, para convertirse en un reto a la capacidad de los humanos para salvar la especie – mediante la construcción de un mundo mejor que éste – de las recurrentes y devastadoras crisis económicas, de la suicida destrucción del medio ambiente, de la guerra global del exterminio”.

De igual manera denunció que “el plan de rescate del Gobierno de Bush y el plan de rescate europeo priorizan el de los especuladores y banqueros que fueron declarados fracasados por el mercado. En pocos días han destinado unos tres millones de millones de dólares para salvar la estructura especulativa fracasada, pero durante décadas no fueron capaces como grupo de cumplir siquiera el compromiso contraído de destinar el 0,7 por ciento del Producto Interno Bruto para la ayuda oficial del desarrollo”.

” Y el país más rico de todos retrocedió en los años del gobierno de Bush hasta apenas el 0,2 por ciento en pocos días han destinado unos tres millones de millones de dolares para salvar la estructura especulativa fracasada pero durante décadas” enfatizó el Cabrisas.

De igual manera denunció la falta de cooperación económica para atender los reclamos de la FAO en el intento de mejorar la producción agrícola en el tercer mundo.

“Ni fueron capaces de reunir entre todos 20 mil millones para cumplir con el programa de educación para todos de la UNESCO o apenas 10 mil millones para resolver los problemas de salud reproductivas de las mujeres de los países pobres solicitada por la OMS”, destacó

Enfatizó que el reto requiere de un amplio y bien preparado debate, con la participación de todos los países sin exclusiones, el sistema monetario internacional surgido en Breton Woods “basado en el papel privilegiado del dólar de EE.UU es un factor central en el nudo de contradicciones de la actual crisis económica”

En cuanto a los conflictos que mantiene EE.UU. reflexionó: “Hacer fabulosos gastos militares sin aumentar impuestos es como una aspiradora que absorbe alrededor de tres mil millones de dólares diarios del resto del mundo para sostener sus déficit y consumismo”.

Realzó el papel de los países miembros del ALBA y su propuesta a la crisis, “hemos optado por una formula avanzada de relación basada en la solidaridad, en la cooperación, en las ventajas compartidas y en la sensibilidad para encontrar solución a la deuda social acumulada en contra de los pueblos”.

“La más importante contribución de América Latina y los países del caribe pueden hacer a la comprensión de la naturaleza de esta crisis global y reducir su impacto es la efectiva integración regional no basada en el lucro del mercado no atrapada por la especulación financiera no diseñada para que los países de menor desarrollo queden rezagados”.

El vicepresidente cubano, Ricardo Cabrisas, relató que ” Durante casi 50 años, sucesivos gobiernos norteamericanos intentaron ahogar a la Revolución Cubana imponiéndole el bloqueo económico más largo, intenso y con mayor desproporción de fuerzas entre el bloqueador y el bloqueado que registre la historia. Pretendieron imponerle al pueblo cubano una situación económica tan severa que lo asfixiara y obligara a rendirse”.

Destacó la contribución de Cuba en base a su dura experiencia por el bloqueo económico ejercido por Estados Unidos contra la Isla “nuestra modesta experiencia de resistencia y creación y nuestra sincera voluntad de trabajar por el ALBA y por una América Latina y el Caribe integrados y unidos”.

TeleSUR / fc / PLL

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WINE, WOMEN AND ROSES by Billy Rose – Illustrations by Salvador Dali

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 25, 2008

 

 


 

First published in 1946

Chapter 11

Iron Butterflies

Mr. Louis B. Mayer Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Culver City, California.

Dear L. B., The last time I saw you in New York, you offered me a job. I explained that I was working on a big popcorn deal and asked for a raincheck. You told me that if I ever hit on a good movie idea to get in touch with you. Hence this letter.

I have a notion which ought to keep the M-G-M lion in tender-loins for a long time to come. It’s a plan for a cycle of movies called “Iron Butterflies.”

I don’t have to tell you, L. B., that cycles make plenty of shekels. When the Brothers Warner were producing biographies of doctors and inventors, they had money in all six shoes. And when the same brothers arranged for Alexis Smith to marry every composer from Gershwin to Gounod, they needed hip boots to hold the dough. But before I blueprint the “Iron Butterflies” cycle, I think it only fair to say that it’s going to cost you a pretty penny—or rather, a pretty painting.

Some years ago, I saw a picture by Rembrandt at the Knoedler Galleries on 57th Street. It was called “Aristotle,” and the catalogue said it was owned by a Mrs. Erickson. Since that time I haven’t been able to get the painting out of my head. I want it like Caesar wanted Gaul, like Stalin wants Oak Ridge, like boy wants girl.

So here’s my proposition: Get me the picture that doesn’t move and I’ll present you with four pictures that will.

The flickers I have in mind are made to order for your dream factory. They’re full of maids, music, madness and malarkey— the four M’s that Hollywood would do well to rediscover. I think you’ll agree, L. B., that it’s about time your writers stopped looking into the crystal hail and shifted their gaze to the navel. An occasional political picture is fine, but it will never replace the fluttering eyelash and the half-minute clinch.

The cycle I have in mind concerns itself with the lives of four talented, tough, and tetched babes who did all right for themselves in the four big branches of show business—opera, circus, theatre, and dance. The opera singer was as dizzy as the heights she scaled. The circus performer was a mixture of sugar and dynamite. The actress—the only member of the quartet still functioning—can do more with an audience than Georgie Jessel can with a date. And as for the dancer, the lady may have said “yes” too often, but she never took “no” for an answer.

I call this cycle “Iron Butterflies” because the gossamer wings of these ladies are made of spun steel and the ends of their feelers are tipped with molybdenum. (Incidentally, the phrase “Iron Butterflies” isn’t mine. Some syllable-happy guy once bestowed it on your old artiste of the aria-ways, Jeanette MacDonald.)

Getting these four scripts in shape shouldn’t be much of a problem. You have a building full of writers who are kept in sterile compartments and forced-fed on the hour. Though these script- writers are shy on plots, they’re long on pencils, and when given something to write about, they turn out many a pretty participle.

In this cycle, they won’t even have to dream up those torrid touches which sell tickets. Their only problem will be to get the scripts down to shooting size. In fact, you may have to caution them not to dip into their adjective bags at all, for gilding the lives of these four dillies would be like adding salt to the Atlantic.

The heroine of the first picture is Mary Garden, the opera singer. If Lana Turner has stopped making like a B movie, she should be ideal for the role. And don’t tell me she can’t sing. They said the same thing about Larry Parks, and look how he sang in The Jolson Story.

We pick up Mary Garden in Scotland where she was born in 1877. (Business of bagpipes and heather on the hill.) When she was six, her family moved to Chicopee, Massachusetts. (Snow-storms and her first plate of baked beans.) Next Chicago, where she gave a violin concert at 12. Then Paris and the Left Bank. (Students, sidewalk cafés, and talk about an upstart named Debussy.)

The next sequence is pretty corny but surefire. The date— April 13, 1900. Scene—the Opéra Comique. Mademoiselle Rio-ton, the star, collapses during the second act of Louise. Without an orchestra rehearsal, Mary Garden is rushed onstage. Sensation! Flowers, diamonds, supper at N’Iaxirn’s. Mary continues in role for a record two hundred performances.

Our heroine becomes “The Toast of the Continent.” She is tall, bosomy, and beautiful. Kings sit in boxes and applaud, and queens give them a good talking-to when they get home. (Fadeout on this sequence with King George of Greece giving Mary a necklace worth $100,000.)

1907. (Establish by fluttering pages of calendar.) Oscar Hammerstein’s grandpappy engages Mary for season of opera in New York at $1,800 a night. Mary opens in Thais. Critics not overly kind, but audiences go mad about opera singer with only one derriere. (Better check on this with Eric Johnston office.)

Miss Garden’s antics in the next couple of reels will have to be played down to make them believable. Especially her flair for publicity. In Louise she introduces the twenty-five-second kiss. When a steampipe bursts backstage of the Manhattan Opera House, she continues singing and averts a panic. In Boston, she announces she will appear in Salome without benefit of veils. Beantown bans the show, but it sells out in sixty-one other cities. The following year, she climbs Mont Blanc, and on her first day back in New York, poses with Andrew Carnegie.

That evening she meets the press and says, “American women don’t worship their men. They merely skin them.”

For the next twenty years, our heroine is seldom off the front page. (Suggest you let Vorkapich montage this.) Show Mary Garden giving out statements about caring more for art than men. Then letting it leak out that she’s going to get married. Then announcing she’s going to become a nun. Show her introducing the hobble skirt, kissing seventy Shriners at a banquet, carrying a cane full of liquid dog food for her pooch, paying $7,600 for eight hats, and telling reporters she yearns to meet a cold-blooded murderer.

During World War I, there’s another socko sequence. When the shooting starts, Mary disguises herself in Zouave garb and tries to enlist in the French Army as a boy. When her curves give her away, she turns her Versailles home into a hospital for wounded soldiers. And now for the wow finish, which is worth a million domestic, L. B., because it’s got a moral.

When Mary gets into the big dough, her father insists on his share of the loot. Says it’s coming to him for the piano lessons he once staked her to. Mary is a good girl, and rather than bite the hand which once walloped her with a hairbrush, she kicks in regularly. At one time she’s making as much as $200,000 a year. But the more she makes, the more her old man demands as his cut. (If Bela Lugosi will work without makeup, he’d be dandy for the father.)

Whatever money Mary Garden manages to hold out, she invests in the stock market. Then comes the crash of ‘29. She’s wiped out. And by this time, her voice has developed some rough edges and good paying jobs are none and far between.

Mary writes her father and asks him to come to see her. She’s almost glad of the chance to tell the old buzzard the well has dried up. But before the postman can deliver the letter, her father ups and dies. A few days later, his lawyers notify Mary she is his only heir and he has left her well over a million dollars!

It’s the same money, of course, that her father had whined and wheedled out of her over the years. The old man had always been haunted by the story of the star who ends up broke.

Mary Garden is still living. In 1942, the papers said something about her writing an autobiography. Your Paris office can check on where to contact her. You might open the picture with a shot of the Mediterranean, the sun sinking in the sea, and the old opera singer signing a contract to let M-G-M make a picture of her life.

The second picture in our cycle is about a queen—the only one I ever knew. Her name was Josie De Mott Robinson and she was the greatest equestrian star in the history of the Barnum & Bailey Circus. I think Judy Garland could play Josie beautifully. You can use a double for the bareback riding and get around the thrill sequences with long shots. (There are quite a few horses in this movie, L. B., and what you haven’t got in your stable you can always borrow from Harry Warner.)

I first met Josie in 1934 when I was lining up a cast for Jumbo. The Hecht-MacArthur script called for some old-time circus stars, and Nagafy the Fire-eater suggested I look up Josie De Mott.

“She’s past seventy,” said the diavolo, “but don’t let that throw you. She can still do more tricks on a horse than I can on a sidewalk.”

I dropped Josie a note and she showed up a few days later at the Hippodrome—a gray-haired kewpie doll about five feet tall.

“Can you still ride?” I asked.

Josie smiled a sweet-old-lady smile. “Try me,” she said.

We went down to the basement where the horses were stabled and she selected a dappled percheron. Rehearsals stopped in the arena as the old girl went into her auditic-n. I looked and blinked. The three- score-and-tenner was performing with the same limp, kittenish speed that had been hers as a girl. I got the feeling she was doing more than ride the horse—she seemed to inhale the darned thing through the soles of her feet.

When Josie dismounted, the performers and roustabouts addressed her the way I imagine Elizabeth’s husband addresses the Queen Mother. I got an even better idea of what Josie meant to circus tradition when Dick Maney, my press agent, brought me the Jumbo program copy to okay. This flinty Broadway broadsider had devoted as much space to the has-been as he had to Durante and Whiteman, and he had written about her with a degree of feeling and respect I never knew was in his typewriter.

Josie De Mott was born a sawdust princess, and no Bourbon or Hapsburg had a better background. Her ancestors were doing horseback high-jinks when the center box was reserved for Napoleon I.

Josie made her debut at three in her father’s horse-drawn caravan. According to the yellowed clips on my desk, the audience at first thought the tot was a mechanical doll. By the time she had galloped into her teens, she was a headliner with Barnum & Bailey. Swedes toasted her in glogg, and Mexicans in tequila. She was as well-known in Paris as she was in Paterson.

In 1890, Josie fell in love with Charles Robinson, part owner of the Robinson Brothers’ Circus. Everyone thought it was a fine match—the impresario and the star. But it didn’t turn out that way. The impresario got interested in politics and became a gillie (a gilhie is a person who thinks there is something in the world more important than the circus). For fifteen years, Josie did her best to be a gillie too, but she never quite made it.

One day she got stuck on a cream-colored gelding pulling a milk- wagon, bought him, and went back into training. Robinson divorced her. Nobody had ever come back to bareback riding after a fifteen- year lay-off, but Bailey, who owned 90 percent of the Barnum Circus, gave her a contract.

A month before the circus was to open at the old Garden, Josie missed a somersault and broke two ribs. The doctors taped her up, and the morning after opening night she was again the biggest five feet in Circusdom.

That is the saga of the sawdust sweetie who performed for me at the Hippodrome and went along with the troupe to Fort Worth when I presented Jumbo at the Centennial. And now, L. B., for one of those vignettes which explains why we’re both in show business.

One spring evening a few years back, I went to the opening of the circus at Madison Square Garden. As Merle Evans picked up his baton for the preliminary fanfare, he turned, faced a center box and bowed. Then, as the performers trotted out for the opening spec, I noticed their eyes were on the same box.

The riders saluted with whips as they pranced by. The aerialists signaled a jaunty two-fingered hello, and the clowns did an extra flip. Prodded by their trainers, even the elephants waved their trunks. “What gives?” I asked myself. “Is the President in the house?”

I followed a Crackerjack salesman down the aisle to the box. Seated in it was you-know-who. Her white hair had been primped and curled until it looked like a platinum tiara.

After the finale, I went backstage and looked up Pat Valdo, who has been major-domoing the Greatest Show on Earth for a quarter of a century. “Who arranged the big fuss for Josie?” I asked him.

“Nobody arranged it,” said Valdo. “It’s been happening like this for years.

“You mean Josie attends every circus opening?”

“Yes,” said Pat, “and all the other performances too. You see, the old lady lives in a hotel down on 23rd Street. Not much of a place—one of those bed, dresser and chair jobs. The walls are covered with her old circus posters, and on the mantel are the decorations she won—the medal from the President of Mexico, the miniature horse presented by Edward of England.

“Every year when the Big Show plays New York, Josie puts on her best dress and hires a limousine. She doesn’t have any trouble getting into the Garden—she still has the gold lifetime pass that Barnum himself gave her. The management reserves the center box for her, and every afternoon and night for six weeks, Josie is in that box. And if she wasn’t, I guess the performers would get worried and figure something was wrong . . . .”

When the Barnum show opened at the Garden this year, L. B., I was there as usual with peanuts, popcorn, and pennant. But Josie De Mott Robinson wasn’t. She had died a few weeks before.

And what happened at the Garden that night would make a fine closing sequence for your movie. Throughout the show, the performers played to the center box as usual, and at the finish, nodded their heads in memory of a lady whose life was a little sad, a little gallant and a little remarkable.

You won’t have to go off the lot, L. B., to cast the heroine of the third picture in our cycle. Greer Garson should be able to do a fine job as Gertrude Lawrence. And if you don’t think Greer can handle the songs, you can always use Gertie’s voice on a sound track—that is, if you want to get documentary all of a sudden.

Gertie was born on July 4, 189— none of your business. Before the braces were off her teeth, she was doing pirouettes on the sidewalks of Clapham (wherever that is) and turning a pretty ha’penny at it. Between semesters at the Convent of the Sacré Coeur, she was a child dancer in a pantomime called Babes in the Wood.

But this babe didn’t stay in the woods long. At the age of 15, she played a white-robed, gilt-winged angel in a Gerhart Hauptmann opus. The angel next to her was a lisping adolescent named Noel Coward. A few years later she was featured in Max Reinhardt’s London production of The Miracle.

New York fell in love with her in 1924 when she sang “Limehouse Blues” in Chariot’s Revue. In 1926, she played Kay in Gershwin’s Oh Kay. Two years later she was the star of Icebound, which won the Pulitzer Prize. In 1931 she played opposite Noel Coward in Private Lives and teamed up with him again five years later in To-Night at Eight-Thirty.

Some of her other successes include Susan and God, Liza Elliott in Lady in the Dark, and the street girl in Pygmalion. She’s been married twice and, according to her autobiography, has had several stylish sweeties.

Recently I caught Gertie in a revival of To-Night at Eight-Thirty. As I watched her take charge of the audience, I asked myself:

“What makes this babe worth five thousand a week? Is she funny? Yes, quite funny, but Nancy Walker is funnier. Can she act? Sure, but not any better than a little gal named Barbara Bel Geddes. Is she a great singer? Well, it’s a matter of taste, but personally I prefer Pearl Bailey. Is she an outstanding hoofer? Heck, no. Any of my chorus kids dance better.”

What, then, makes Gertie Lawrence? What kind of light and heat does this star give out that makes her a bigger draw at the box office than all the other girls I’ve mentioned put together?

Well, that’s a question more easily faced than fathomed. Ask any five producers why one person is a wow and another a walk-on, and you’re a cinch to get five different answers. Ask me and I’ll mumble about some mysterious quantity I call “X”—the ability to turn it on when you need it.

Remember that World Series game in Chicago when Babe Ruth turned to the booing fans, pointed to a spot in the bleachers and smacked the next pitch right where he had pointed? That was “X.” Remember that day at Forest Hills when a fairish tennis player named Jones banged four successive aces past Fred Perry? The fabulous Fred was never noted for his serve, but he saluted Jones and then aced him right back with four of the fastest serves of his life. Another example of X-appeal.

Let me tell you, L. B., about one of the times Gertie Lawrence turned it on. In Lady in the Dark, she played the boss lady of a slick fashion magazine. The plot of this musical concerned itself with her neuroses which were sprouting neuroses. Moss Hart fashioned the libretto with the English star in mind, and the sainted Sam Harris, who produced the show, had to guarantee Gertie $5,000 a week against a double helping of the gross. Like Cornell and Hayes, she was the show, and was in a position to call all the shots. And from what I heard around Broadway, Gertie frequently called them at the top of her voice.

During the last week of rehearsals, Moss got worried. Gertie had some cute ditties, but no slam-bang comic song had been written for her. On the other hand, a kid out of the Borscht Circuit named Danny Kaye had been handed a clever lyric called “Tschaikowsky.”

The script called for Danny to sing this song in Act Two while Gertie relaxed in a swing upstage. Well, Moss knew his show business well enough to know that the star wasn’t going to sit by happily while a newcomer took the theatre over. “Tschaikowsky” was a cinch to be yanked after the opening performance out of town.

The worried Moss cornered composer Kurt Weill and lyricist Ira Gershwin, locked them in a room, and stood guard. At 6:30 next morning, the boys emerged with a little number called “Jennie.” Hart didn’t think much of it, and neither did Gertie. The star pointed out that it was only moderately funny and not her style. It might do for a shouting songstress like Sophie Tucker, but after all, Gertie was a lady.

“Look, my pet,” Moss pleaded, “we’re going to Boston to try things out. Learn the song and see how it goes. If it doesn’t click, Kurt and Ira will write another for you.”

“Okay,” agreed the star, “but it’s a waste of time.”

Miss Lawrence memorized the lyric, but during the dress rehearsal in Boston made no secret of her belief that “Jennie” would be jettisoned before the New York premiere.

And then came opening night at the Colonial Theatre. In Act One, Danny Kaye gave a good account of himself, but Gertie was the star and the audience was given no chance to forget it. But down in Act Two, Danny stepped to the footlights and let go with “Tschaikowsky.” As Moss Hart tells it, Danny was scared—scared he was going to stop the show with this murderously good piece of lyric writing. And then have it cut out by order of the star.

But the lyrics of “Tschaikowsky” were too hot to be cooled down, and Kaye had too much of what it takes not to give. When he finished the funny tongue-twister, the crowd applauded for two solid minutes—practically a lifetime in the theatre. The distressed Danny tried to shush the audience, but this was mistaken by the customers for modesty and they clapped all the louder.

In the back of the house, Hart, Weill, and Gershwin gave each other the old “that-does-it” look. Moss was already speculating on what he could substitute for Danny’s show-stopping specialty. And then “X” took over.

When the applause finally tapered off, Miss Lawrence slipped off the swing, saluted Danny with a deft gesture, took stage center and went into “Jennie.”

Now remember, L. B., she was singing a song that wasn’t her style and which she didn’t especially like. But the crowd had cheered somebody else—some smart Alec had whipped four.r service aces past the champ.

Suddenly Gertie stopped being Miss Lawrence and became Sophie Tucker, Fanny Brice and Gypsy Rose Lee. As she reached the end of the first couplet of “Jennie,” Gertie let go with a Beale Street bump. During stanzas two and three, she did things with her aristocratic Sitzfleisch that had the audience in a wall-eyed trance. And down near the end of the song, the star went into the most magnificent mock strip-tease ever seen inside a theatre or out.

When Gertie finished, they had to do everything but turn on the sprinkler system to quiet the crowd. And “Jennie,” the song nobody liked, went skyrocketing into theatrical history.

Miss Lawrence cashes a pretty big check on payday, but as far as I’m concerned, she doesn’t have to blush when she hands it to the bank teller. If I were the teller, L. B., she wouldn’t even have to sign her name. Her “X” would be sufficient.

The last picture in our cycle is based on the career of the hottest hunk of woman who ever stepped out of a slip-on—Lola Montez. When I say that a movie about her might outgross Gone with the Wind, I’m not kidding.

Lola should be played by Joan Crawford, and, even if the Warner Brothers want Clark Gable in return, I think the swap will pay off. Hecht and MacArthur would be my choices to put this one on paper. As you’ll see in a minute, getting Lola ready for Technicolor is not a job for kids.

Hold on to your seat, L. B., here we go!

Lola Montez was born in Ireland in 1818. Her square moniker was Marie Gilbert. When she was two, her father took her to India, and I guess the curry powder got in her blood. When she was seventeen, her mother arranged for her to marry a rich man. But Lola decided to do her own arranging, and eloped with a subaltern named James. I don’t know what happened to James, but a year later she turned up in England with a six-footer named Lennox.

In London, she bought a mantilla and a pair of castanets in a pawnshop and changed her name to Lola Montez. Then she sweet- talked the manager of His Majesty’s Theatre into giving her a job. Halfway through her Spanish dance on opening night, a young nobleman she had cold-shouldered got up and hollered, “Swindle! She’s from Ireland!” The British audience hooted the hockshop señorita out of the theatre.

Lola went to Brussels and sang in the streets for pennies. A young student sold his books to pay her fare to Warsaw. There she wangled an engagement at the Opera House. Prince Paskievich, a sixty-year- old dwarf who had conquered Poland, saw her dance and offered her a palace. She told him to go take a flying jump in the Baltic.

Next night the Prince sent a claque to hiss her off the stage. Lola stopped the music, stepped to the footlights and told the audience the story. The Poles pitched the hecklers into the alley and carried her on their shoulders through the streets, singing songs of independence.

Paskievich ordered her arrest. Lola barricaded her door and threatened to shoot the first soldier who entered. They were about to burn down her house when the French Consul came along, claimed her as a French subject, and whisked her out of Warsaw.

We next meet up with her in St. Petersburg. The fellow who kept her in caviar that season was the Czar of All the Russias.

In Dresden, Franz Liszt walked out on his wife and children for Lola. In Paris, she bewitched Alexandre Dumas. Then for the first time, Lola fell in love. Her boy friend was a radical journalist named Dujaurier. Her story might have ended here, but the young radical talked out of turn and was killed in a duel.

Henry, Prince of Reuss, offered to make her a Princess, but she patted him on the cheek and kept moving.

Lola was twenty-seven when she turned up in Munich. They told her she wasn’t important enough to dance at King Ludwig’s favorite theatre. She scratched her way past the palace guards to the King’s room and—get this, L. B.—without music, went into her dance. Ludwig of Bavaria was enchanted. She took over his heart and, with it, his kingdom.

Under her influence, Ludwig liberalized schools, canceled censorship, and kicked out his reactionary cabinet. When his sister, the Empress of Austria, tried to bribe Lola to leave him, she showed Ludwig the letter and tossed it in the fire. He made her a Baroness.

An organized mob appeared under her window, jeered and threw stones. Lola stepped out on the balcony and poured champagne on their heads. Finally, the generals told Ludwig to choose between Lola and his kingdom. The old King reluctantly ordered her arrest.

When a mob came to get her, she put on her jewels and walked proudly through her enemies to a waiting barouche. No one could bring himself to molest her. When she had driven off, the hooligans made a shambles of her boudoir. Ludwig, watching, was knocked over and trampled.

In Switzerland, she married an Army officer and was arrested for bigamy. She jumped bail and came to America. Here she danced and married her way right across the continent. During the Gold Rush, Lola was the Texas Guinan of the Barbary Coast. On a sidetrip to Australia, she horsewhipped an editor and clawed a prima donna who had snubbed her.

In 1861, she returned to New York, got religion, and died. She did all this living in forty-three years. And unless I’m daft, hers was the wildest ride on the romantic merry-go-round in the history of this planet Earth.

That’s the package, L. B. And if your hirelings use the sense that God gave geese, they can’t go wrong when they make these pictures. It’s my hunch that there’s nothing but gold in these Iron Butterflies, and that their shenanigans on celluloid should have the movie houses using ice packs on their cash registers.

Of course I know I’m offering you a lot for one little Rembrandt. But if this cycle grosses more than two hundred million, I know you’ll do the decent thing and throw in a frame.

Cordially, Billy Rose

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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SMOKE SCREEN – Economist Nader Fergany has a bone to pick with those who see a rosy fiscal future – There is no development in a country like Egypt. The attempt to use the claim of development and reform is an attempt to cover up an ugly reality,” says Dr. Nader Fergany, a top regional expert on development and all that is attendant to it.

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 15, 2008

October 2008

by Manal el-Jesri

Fergany, a professor who has taught at Cairo University, the American University in Cairo and the Professor Nader FerganyUniversity of North Carolina, was also the lead editor of the UNDP’s first four Arab Human Development Reports between 2002 and 2005. He has since excused himself from continuing the journey.

“I stopped for many reasons,” he explains. “It was time for a change. I think with the completion of the first four reports, a complete intellectual project for development in the Arab world had been formulated. It was a point at which change was due. There were also changes in the leadership at the UNDP and in the Arab bureau of the UNDP that would not allow the same level of courage and critical assessment that we enjoyed in the first four reports.”

Today, these four reports are considered an important reference for anyone interested in studying human development in the Arab world. On the eve of the economic turmoil that rocked global and regional markets last month — turmoil that will certainly curb even the most optimistic forecasts for growth in Egypt — Egypt Today spoke with Fergany about development, growth and the future of the economy. Needless to say, his views diverge rather sharply from those of other economists and the government alike. Edited excerpts:

I think the major contribution of the four reports is that we managed to break new ground in issues that were rarely discussed. Perhaps the most important of these is that we introduced the concept of freedom and good governance as a major element of human development. We also elevated the importance of knowledge acquisition and the empowerment of women, but I think introducing the concept of freedom in a very comprehensive manner and good governance as a requirement for the enjoyment of freedom was the major contribution of these four reports.

Manal el-Jesri – But do all governments adopt the same definition of ‘development?’ In Egypt, we find that the word ‘development’ has become a catchword that is inserted into any headline to lend it importance.

Nader Fergany – It is even worse than this. I think it is an act of deliberate deception because no matter how you define development — especially if you define it as we did in the Arab report, to link it to freedom for the country and all its citizens — then there is no development in a country like Egypt.

Manal el-Jesri – Yet the term is used repeatedly. It is even used in conjunction with another favorite word, ‘growth.’ In Arabic, the two words (tanmiya [development], nomow [growth]) sound very similar to the layman.

Nader Fergany – This is another aspect of deception. First of all, the figure of seven percent [the growth rate of Egypt’s gross domestic product in 2007] is not that high. There have been much higher levels of growth in India and China, for example. Secondly, this figure comes after a period of very low and sometimes negative growth for almost 20 years. And thirdly, seven percent for two or three years is not a major achievement.

However, the most important issue [] is that using GDP growth [as a standard] has a major flaw because it ignores the distribution of income. In Egypt, the case is seemingly that whatever growth takes place goes into the pockets and the bank accounts of a very small clique, while the vast majority of the people continue to face economic misery through unemployment and poverty.

The major contribution of the Arab human development report is defining development as inseparable from the total respect of freedom, especially the key freedoms of opinion, expression and association. Egypt is a very clear case where you might have growth that is on the one hand badly distributed, and on the other hand is coupled with a very severe restriction of freedoms.

Nader Fergany – You also believe there is another aspect of cheating regarding the process of computing the seven percent growth rate.

Nader Fergany – In computing the seven percent, the government puts in the revenues of privatization. This is not really growth, which means an increase in the production of goods and services, additional job creation and hopefully a rise in the standards of living. This aspect of the revenues of privatization is nothing but a transfer of ownership from public hands to private hands — it does not result in a contribution to the production of goods and services in the society. Actually, in many cases, privatization has resulted in the destruction of job opportunities and in mass unemployment.

Manal el-Jesri – If the people are being deceived, are they aware of this?

Nader Fergany – They are becoming increasingly aware because all these bogus claims of growth and reform and so on are not translated into effective, good job opportunities and a rise in the standard of living for the people. The contradiction is so stark that people are coming to realize that they are being taken for a ride.

Manal el-Jesri – You graduated from university in 1963. How has the opposition’s situation today changed from what it was back in the 1960s?

Nader Fergany – On the internal front, in the 1960s of course there was oppression, but at the same time there was a rising national project and there was a sense of dignity deriving from the presence of a national project for development. You may have your views about this, but there were facts on the ground, in terms of an industrialization process and a very clear rise in national income. There was essentially no unemployment, despite the problems with the unemployment schemes that were adopted. You did not see people languishing in the streets for lack of jobs as we have today.

On the whole, there was a lower level of economic misery. At the time, Egypt played a prominent role in the so-called liberation movement, which by definition meant a rather tense relationship with the West, especially the dominant powers and especially the American administration.

Now we are in a totally different situation. Internally, we have a failed development process that is being covered up by an act of deliberate deception. They think that slogans and multi-colored posters can change a very ugly reality, which is not true.

Manal el-Jesri – You believe that all regimes who have depended on a foreign power for their own empowerment have been eventually let down.

Nader Fergany – This is the rather sinister tragedy of the authoritarian governance regimes that bank on the support of the United States and Israel when their time comes, and their time will come. My prime example is the Shah of Iran, who was the most important agent for the American enterprise in this part of the world. He was extremely rich and was the most despotic in terms of oppressing his people, but nevertheless he fell and when he did he could not even find a place to live or to be buried in.

[History is alive with similar examples,] but the leaders do not read. And if they read they do not understand. Of course, it is a case of halawet el-rouh (last throes of death). Have you ever seen a chicken being slaughtered? After the head is separated, it keeps fluttering, obsessed with excess vitality.

Manal el-Jesri – One outstanding difference between the 1960s and today could be the fact that in the 1960s, these elites were a force for change, and hence were feared by the regime. Where are these elites now?

Nader Fergany – Of course, there are very prominent cases of wonderful members of the elite, but the elite at large has betrayed its historical mission to act as the conscience of the people.

Manal el-Jesri – Despite the so-called betrayal of the elite, a group of leftist groups, together with Al-Tagammua’ party, tried to form a coalition a couple of years ago, in an attempt to be an active force for change.

Nader Fergany – I think nothing of value will come from the so-called political parties in this country. They are either useless or are in the pockets of the regime. That is why the real political vitality of the country is coming from outside the parties. It is coming from the extensive protest movements that essentially show the newly acquired vitality of the Egyptian people.

I am not talking about Kifaya, but about the so-called social protest movements, which I do not think are solely social. I think they are political at heart. Even if they concentrate at present on union demands like salaries and benefits, they have a political vision behind that. Movements like Doctors Without Rights, or workers and so on. They have been expanding, mushrooming at a very fast rate and becoming much more effective than they used to be. I think they are the most important source of political vitality in Egypt now.

It is actually taking the political parties by surprise. They are forging a new conscience for the Egyptian people, and in Egyptian politics that is working for freedom and justice, in my opinion. We are not yet there, but we have some very clear examples in Latin America in the last 20 years, where there was a great rise of so-called social protest movements that over time transformed into major political change, essentially leaning towards higher levels of social justice and freedom for the people.

I think we are at the beginning of such a process in Egypt and in other Arab countries. In some Arab countries, the process is even taking a violent turn, as in Algeria, Morocco, and also in Yemen and Saudi Arabia, but even in some smaller Gulf states.

Manal el-Jesri – Are these social movements a sign that the middle class is rising up again to assume its historical role as a force for change?

Nader Fergany – It is not mostly middle class — it is extending throughout society. Actually in many of these protest movements you see a cross-section ranging from the upper sections of the middle class down to the poor. It is cutting across class, and this is a major change and innovation. This traditional dream of the middle class leading change is not valid here.

I think what we will see is active segments of all classes banding together in protest movements, leading to political change in the future. Take the example of Doctors Without Rights: When you think of medical doctors, you think of the upper middle class. This is not true anymore [] Many doctors have been reduced to poverty in this country so they are not middle class anymore.

Manal el-Jesri – If the protest movement is cutting across class boundaries, where will the leadership come from?

Nader Fergany – The standard worry in traditional political circles is that the protest movements will not have a leadership or a unified vision, and I think this is very unfair and inappropriate. You cannot try to impose a traditional type of a hierarchy on protest movements. People are preoccupied with a traditional pattern that, in my opinion, no longer works. This is part of the weakness and tragedy of political parties in this country.

I think we are at a stage in human development where you have to accept that the new forms of organization that will be effective in political change are not the hierarchical forms of organization. We need to be open-minded and accept forms of organization based on network. They will not necessarily be chaotic in a destructive sense, but susceptible to horizontal linkage rather than the traditional vertical hierarchy of leadership. We are already witnessing the beginnings of such protest movements, especially among young people who are reaching out to each other in this kind of horizontal linkage, which is being facilitated by modern technologies such as the internet and mobile phones.

Manal el-Jesri – So you think it will be impossible for any regime to put a muzzle on this process, simply because the modern technologies available are impossible to control.

Nader Fergany – They are trying to disturb it, but try as they may they will not succeed. This is the beauty of expansive protest movements. You cannot round them all and lock them up: You end up having to lock up every Egyptian worker.

Manal el-Jesri – Apart from the technology, what do you see as unique about these protest movements?

Nader Fergany – For the first time, you see women and children playing a very integral role in protest movements. Follow the sit-ins and sleep-ins of many strike movements, and you will see children among them. And the women are there not merely as part of families — they are often leaders. This is especially true in situations where the vast majority of the workforce is made up of women, such as in textile factories or the real-estate tax department.

This is a movement that extends beyond the traditional confines of political thought. It is a movement that extends to every nook and cranny of Egyptian society, because every nook and cranny of Egyptian society is being negatively affected by the poisonous combination of impoverishment and oppression.

Manal el-Jesri – And the lessons learned?

Nader Fergany – Protest does work. Most of the protest movements have attained their declared objective. You must have seen the arrogant initial responses of the government regime being overtaken by the protest. The most important thing is the demonstration effect — it tempts others to wage protest movements. This has been very effective in the Egyptian case.

Manal el-Jesri – But we continue to hear pessimists warning against the infiltration of Islamist forces, which are strong enough, they claim, to take over.

Nader Fergany – Political parties are in the throes of death, so do not worry about them. The protest movement has not fallen prey to any political party, including the Muslim Brotherhood. Through direct contact I can vouch that the leaders of the protest movements are extremely solid social visionaries. They are leaders of the first order, in my opinion.

et

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Posted in EGYPT, HISTORY, HUMAN RIGHTS, INTERNATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, RELIGIOUS FANATICISM | Leave a Comment »

ANGOLA EM DIAS DE ESPERANÇA

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 15, 2008

by Revista Horizonte On Line (Media Quatro)

Depois de 41 anos de guerra, o país se abre ao mundo com expectativa de dias melhores.

“Estávamos todos cansados da guerra, mas se o Savimbi não tivesse morrido ela não teria acabado. Agora com a Paz tudo será diferente”. As frases acima, ditas por um motorista em nossos primeiros dias em Angola, refletem bem o sentimento atual da população e seriam repetidas inúmera vezes em nossa viagem. Carismático e controlador, Jonas Savimbi, o líder da guerrilha de direita UNITA (União Nacional para a Independência Total de Angola), não deixou sucessores. Com sua morte, parece que o processo de paz tantas vezes ensaiado finalmente pode se instalar. O trabalho de reconstrução será longo e custoso, mas a esperança de dias melhores está por toda a parte.

“Como a expectativa de vida de um angolano é de apenas 40 anos, a maior parte de nós nunca teve um dia de paz”, explica Paulo Mandavela, secretário do GBECA – Grupo Bíblico de Estudantes Cristãos. “Seis meses atrás não conseguiríamos reunir metade dos estudantes que temos aqui hoje”, diz apontando para os quase 100 jovens vindos de todas as províncias do país e que já podem cruzar as estradas, ainda esburacadas e algumas até minadas, sem medo de emboscadas e franco atiradores da guerrilha.

A capital é uma metrópole com 5 a 7 milhões de pessoas e uma inegável “cara de Brasil”. Do avião, a Baía de Luanda se parece muito com Salvador ou mesmo Rio de Janeiro. Mais de perto, entretanto, a realidade é mais dramática. O desemprego geral faz com que haja ambulantes por toda parte. Vendedores nos sinais oferecem água, cerveja, biscoito, e também ferramentas, ventiladores e todo tipo de bugiganga. O transporte público ineficiente dá espaço a milhares de lotações irregulares que disputam as ruas mal cuidadas com velhos carros soviéticos e brasileiros caindo aos pedaços. E nas esquinas as mulheres trocam o desvalorizado Kawnsa por dolares a taxas melhores do que nos bancos.

No centro de Luanda, o casario em estilo colonial está decadente e normalmente abriga cortiços. Os prédios do período socialista também, com dezenas de parabólicas penduradas nas fachadas. Mas existem “ilhas” de excelência, afinal não há uma classe média, apenas os muito ricos ligados ao governo ou às indústrias de petróleo e diamantes, e os muito pobres que vivem como podem. A chamada Ilha de Luanda, na verdade uma restinga, reúne por exemplo boa parte das residências de funcionários de embaixadas e organismos internacionais.

A ilha tem um pequeno parque e as melhores praias urbanas de Luanda, voltadas para o oceano e opostas à baía que abriga o porto onde nasceu a cidade. Existem ainda os bairros de classe alta e condomínios fechados de excelente padrão, cercados por muros e com guardas armados. É o caso da vila onde mora o pessoal da Odebrechet, empreiteira baiana responsável por grandes obras em Angola como a hidroelétrica de Capanda que deverá abastecer todo o país e até vizinhos. Nas periferias, por outro lado, o cenário é dominado pelas favelas, com minúsculas casas construídas com tábuas ou tijolos de adobe. Como não cai uma gota de chuva entre maio e outubro em Luanda, também é grande o número de pessoas vivendo nas ruas.

A influência brasileira é imensa: o futebol é paixão nacional, a MPB é hit nas rádios, o carnaval tem desfiles de escolas de samba e são comuns boates com nomes como Copacabana e Brasília. As novelas brasileiras então são uma febre em Angola, que batizou seu maior mercado a céu aberto sintomaticamente de Roque Santeiro. Em setembro de 2002, a TPA (Televisão Pública de Angola) exibia a interminável Malhação, a “italiana” Terra Nostra e a memorável O Bem Amado.

Ouvindo diariamente sotaques carioca, italo-paulistano e baiano, até mesmo o acento lusitano do idioma falado nas ruas vem pouco a pouco perdendo intensidade e ganhando gírias brasileiras. É a retro-alimentação de um fenômeno que trouxe para a língua falada aqui palavras africanas em Umbundu e Kimbundu como samba, bunda, capoeira e quizumba. Fora as produções brasileiras, o maior sucesso da TV angolana atualmente é o programa Nação Coragem. Baseado no já quase secular serviço de reunificação familiar desenvolvido pelo Comitê Internacional da Cruz Vermelha, o Nação Coragem abre semanalmente suas câmeras na Praça 1º de Maio, para que as famílias perguntem por parentes desaparecidos nos 41 anos de guerra. “Desde a assinatura do novo acordo de paz em abril de 2002, estamos vendo uma aumento de pelo menos 25% nas reunificações familiares”, conta Caspar Landolt, delegado de comunicação do CICV. O programa já foi alvo de matérias em veículos por todo o mundo, incluindo o New York Times e Jornal Nacional no Brasil. “

Não existem números exatos porque muitas vezes as pessoas se encontram na praça e os nomes continuam nas listas, mas a tendência de crescimento é clara e atinge o país inteiro”.

Longe da capital, a vida segue outro ritmo. Em Huambo, por exemplo, não existe uma única casa que não apresente centenas de buracos de bala nas paredes. A população, entretanto, é ainda mais simpática. As crianças riem fácil, pedem fotos e brincam de bola exatamente como qualquer moleque no interior do Brasil. A província de Huambo, por ter sido muito afetada pela guerra, também é um importante centro de ONGs que mantêm campos de deslocados, de distribuição de alimentos e hospitais que atendem toda a região. O CICV, por exemplo, reformou e re-estruturou o hospital da cidade. “Tivemos que montar um sistema alternativo de água e treinamos o pessoal para quando sairmos do país”, conta Sylvana Rugolotto, delegada de saúde. “A entidade atua apenas em países que estão em guerra e a idéia é torná-los auto-suficientes para tempos de paz”. Já em Kaála, a mais de uma hora de carro da capital da província, são os Médicos Sem Fronteira que mantém um hospital de campanha.

Mesmo ainda dependendo da ajuda internacional para sobreviver, é difícil encontrar em Huambo alguém que não esteja otimista em relação ao futuro do país. Eles comentam sobre os tempos de grande produção de frutas, o agradável clima de planalto da região que está a 1700 metros de altitude, e a vocação da cidade para centro educacional, turístico e, porque não, administrativo da nação. Afinal, já foi chamada de Nova Lisboa.

Com um litoral equivalente ao que vai de Vitória no Espírito Santo a Recife em Pernambuco repleto de praias de águas mornas; planaltos de vegetação abundante; uma das maiores bacias hidrográficas da África; recursos minerais que podem gerar o dinheiro necessário para o investimento na reconstrução das estradas e infra-estruturas de água e energia; e principalmente uma população gentil e hospitaleira, Angola tem tudo para se tornar um grande destino turístico num futuro não muito distante.

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