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Administrative demotion: Murshidabad nazamat style?

Sadeq Khan

The political as well as business elite of this country appear to be either oblivious or amazingly cool about the nation’s impending debacle, signs of which are staring us in the face. Unemployment and underemployment of new entrants into the labour market have again burgeoned to a state of explosion. Our manpower exports have gone down. And most alarmingly, purchase orders for ready-made garments from USA and Europe are falling sharply.

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Sadeq Khan

The political as well as business elite of this country appear to be either oblivious or amazingly cool about the nation’s impending debacle, signs of which are staring us in the face. Unemployment and underemployment of new entrants into the labour market have again burgeoned to a state of explosion. Our manpower exports have gone down. And most alarmingly, purchase orders for ready-made garments from USA and Europe are falling sharply.

The government has sought time to fulfill conditions for reinstatement of the GSP status of Bangladesh for the US market. The western market as a whole meanwhile will take the continuing US denial of GSP status to Bangladesh as a cue to drive hard bargains and somehow penalise the Bangladeshi exporter-manufacturer. Labour unrest has become chronic on one count or another.

Political cover for criminals
“Police power” being exclusively and excessively employed for “political” agenda of the ruling party, i.e. annihilation of non-conforming political activists to make room for a “loyal” opposition to emerge, shadow power of crime lords are ruling the roost. Indeed crime lords under political cover are calling shots everywhere in mofussil districts, where law and order has virtually broken down.
Young drug-addicts recruited as handymen by petty godfathers are raiding rural households in groups to impose “chanda” as protection money on one pretext or another, while their counterparts in the metropolis are staging armed-holdup of pedestrians and vehicular passengers alike for “chhintai” (thuggery). A pyramidal structure of informally organised crime has thus been spread out from the city streets, bazaars and industrial belts to remotest villages. The kingpin of organised crime in the country is the police, some of whose officers themselves participate in criminal ventures, while others receive proportionate rents and institutionally act as partners and protectors of crime lords.
Quite apart from the seething political crisis, the socio-economic impact the state of anarchy prevalent in Bangladesh cannot but be disastrous. But the elite do not seem to care. Some of them may be secure with escapist intent as they may have second homes in Malaysia or in Dubai or in Canada, Australia, U.K. or USA. Some may similarly have a son or daughter or an uncle or a distant cousin working abroad who may possibly sponsor their escape from our troubled homeland if and when things come to a pass. But what about those who do not have such escape routes? Even amongst the elite, including crony capitalists, that number is not small.

Souls sold to a davil
Some sceptics suggest that the power elite in this country and their cronies do not care, because for real or promised material gains including posting and perks of high office inside and outside Bangladesh, elite membership have sold their souls to a “devil”. That “devil”, so to say, happens to be the neighbouring big power who is now hell-bent on being counted as a global player. As such, Delhi has deployed faceless “RAW” agents to run Bangladesh for the incumbents and their cronies, telling the Dhaka elite to enjoy their “positions” of power without bothering about their duties. They may have also been assured safe homes and pensions across the border in case things go wrong.
Clearly that is a wild conjecture. If rule of law is perceived to have failed in this country, one should acknowledge that the administration is being run by articulated “rules of business”, albeit sometimes bent to suit the convenience of the office of power. Credence to the wild conjecture of the sceptics as aforesaid, however, gains ground when stories claiming that “RAW agents raced ahead of ISI to nab IM’s Pak operative Waqas in Dhaka” are broken in Indian newspapers. The Times of India in its April 15 issue ran that story as follows: “A small mistake on part of the ISI in preparing passport for Indian Mujahideen's (IM) Pakistani operative Zia-ur Rehman alias Waqas landed him in the net of Indian agencies. Waqas had been hiding in Bangladesh and was supposed to leave for Pakistan via Nepal when he was apprehended by India's external intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW).
According to sources in the security establishment, though there had been some information about the possibility of Waqas being in Bangladesh, Indian agencies were clueless about his exact location. However, their sustained interest in the ISI agent who had been loaned to IM made Waqas's handlers in Pakistan's spy agency worried that their asset had been exposed and needed to be brought home.

RAW’s master stroke
Accordingly, ISI got a passport made for Waqas. However, when he reached the airport, Bangladesh's immigration officials discovered that there was no entry stamp on his passport. Even as they set out to detain him, the commotion attracted the attention of a RAW staffer who swiftly used his smart phone to photograph one of India's biggest tormentors and relayed it to his superiors. RAW officers were thrilled when they saw that the six-feet man being held at Dhaka airport was their elusive quarry. What followed was an intense spy game in which Indian agents managed to spirit him away to India without leaving footprints.
How they managed to get him out of the airport and then to India remains unclear. But Waqas proved his utility by furnishing details of IM cells with whom he had collaborated and who would host him. The success was kept a closely guarded secret and Waqas was “encouraged” to do web chats with IM operatives, particularly Tehseen Akhtar “Monu”, without raising suspicion. Waqas's monitors made him seek a meeting with Tehseen.
“Waqas was made to insist that the meeting should happen, as usual, at their known hideout in Nepal. As an unsuspecting Tehseen set out for Nepal, Indian agencies alerted their counterparts in the neighbouring country. Nepal Police, in a remarkable example of cross-border counter-terror cooperation, had the meeting point sealed as soon as Tehseen arrived. He was detained and later “pushed” into West Bengal to be “arrested” by Delhi Police.”
On April 16, in Dhaka State Minister for Home Asaduzzaman Khan told reporters in the Secretariat: “I know nothing yet about it. I read it in the newspapers. I’m looking into the matter. Asked whether RAW is authorised to make such an arrest in Bangladesh, Asaduzzaman said, “We've a prisoner exchange treaty with India but they've no authority to do this.”
The State Minister’s replies remind one of the Nazamat (Executive Power of the state) of Murshidabad Nawabs under British East India Company’s thumbs in the second half of the eighteenth century. What a farce!


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Curtain finally falls on Ganajagaran Mancha

M. Serajul Islam

Imran H Sarker’s (IHS) brief tryst with history and glory is over but his downfall may not be a wasted one. There was at least one immediate outcome. One of his erstwhile guardians in the Ganajagan Mancha’s (GM) heydays said after his fall in a TV interview that the last one year has proved that in this country, there cannot be any politics without religion!

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M. Serajul Islam

Imran H Sarker’s (IHS) brief tryst with history and glory is over but his downfall may not be a wasted one. There was at least one immediate outcome. One of his erstwhile guardians in the Ganajagan Mancha’s (GM) heydays said after his fall in a TV interview that the last one year has proved that in this country, there cannot be any politics without religion!

He and his secular friends were busy spreading the news that Bangladesh was on way to becoming a secular state where religion (Islam) would not be allowed a public space when the Mancha was to the AL led Government special and worthy of the highest attention. One of his comrades, albeit an elder one, even went to the extent and said; before the GM collapsed, that Bangladesh would cease to be a Muslim state and become a secular one!
It is true that the GM had captured the imagination of the nation when it suddenly emerged on the political scene. It is true that the vast majority of the people were very angry because Qader Mollah had been spared the gallows while Bacchu Razakar had been sentenced to die. It is also true that the Mancha had articulated the sentiments of the people in favour of the war crimes trials. These truths notwithstanding, the Mancha was never what it was made to be; it was never a movement where the Projonmo ever had the potentials or the control to lead the county to fulfil the objectives for which millions had sacrificed their lives in 1971. There were too many palpable flaws in the movement to ever reach the lofty heights that the media had predicted it would.

Ganajagaran Mancha’s demise
A new group has relieved IHS of his role as the Spokesman of the GM. Before and after he was relieved, he blamed the government for talking with Jamaat secretly and promised to lead the GM differently and independently of the government. The new group that replaced IHS has blamed him for failing to lead the GM, charging him of financial embezzlement. IHS has served the death sentence for the Mancha’s future by going against the government. In fact, his predicament and that of his followers would now be no better than if the Chatra Dal/Jubo Dal were to take over the GM. The new group that has been named has the ruling party’s imprint so largely written all over it that the people would have no reason to believe that the GM would be any different than the Chatra League or Jubo League.
The GM for all practical purpose is now history. It is however sad that it ended this way because the people had expected so much from the movement. Therefore it is a matter of obligation for those who write about politics and history of the country to look at the GM and find out answers for the people about what went wrong. With curtains down on the GM, it is time to find the palpable flaws in the movement and ask why the flaws had not been revealed and the people were kept in darkness. It was the duty of the media to expose these flaws and therefore it is the media’s primary responsibility for keeping the people in the dark.
The media did not look into the background of the young men and women who gathered out of nowhere as soon as Qader Mollah was given the reprieve from the gallows. It did not inquire why these youth who started by chanting slogans against the ICT and the government changed their slogans and chanted new ones that started with the spirit of 1971 and death to those under trial at the ICT but slowly and surely turned against the Jamat at first and then against the BNP. The media also failed to inquire and find out that amongst those in the GM who were part of a well know group in the Internet who loved humiliating Islam and Prophet Mohammad (pbuh). In fact, had the media questioned before it was too late it would have found out that some of those had been reprimanded in a Dhaka court for anti-Islam postings in their blogs. In that event, it could have saved the GM from its slide after just a few days of glory on the issue of Islam.Instead, the media grossly underestimated the strength of Islam in Bangladesh and instead pushed all these issues under the rug, particularly the anti-Islam bloggers and their postings.

Media’s intentional failure
In retrospect, the media’s failure was not unintentional. Unfortunately for the GM, the pro-BNP newspaper Amar Desh published the offensive postings that it picked on the Internet where it had gone viral and made it public knowledge. The postings were so unbelievably offensive that people deserted the GM as fast as they had gone there when the offensive postings became public. The media went into denial with the way people deserted the GM following the publication of the postings in Amar Desh. In fact, the electronic media misused technology to show that people were still with the GM and had not deserted it when in fact most of them had left it and a section of the print media turned a blind eye to such distortions.
The media’s more serious failures were that it turned a blind eye to the presence of the well-known cultural activists with deep links to the ruling party in the GM. These individuals were seen on live TV guiding the GM leaders. In fact, they became the self-appointed guardians and were with it all the time as if it was their movement. The media did not ask why they were glued to the GM when they were old enough to be the fathers and grandfathers of the Shahabag youth. Instead the media in league with them glorified the GM as a movement of the new generation that would relieve the country from its political and moral ills. The media also did not reveal that these individualso had an agenda of their own and was using the GM to fulfil it, namely, to banish the public face of Islam in Bangladesh in the name of secularism.
The leading media’s other major failure was not exposing the way the AL led government took control of the movement once the AL cultural activists had delivered the Mancha to its laps. The media turned a blind eye to the hands of the ruling party in bringing the crowds to Shahabag; to arranging the huge finance that was required to keep the GM going; to providing the security for the it and its leaders; to pampering and turning the GM leaders, in particular IHS, into adorable national heroes. The media did not ask why the government was taking orders from the GM, changing laws and doing its every bidding. Even if the media had played its role partly as an honest broker, it would have exposed that the government was using the GM openly and blatantly for its political objectives and not at all secretly.

GM served a purpose
The nation was hardly surprised that the GM has collapsed. To most of the people, it really existed at best for 2 weeks till the anti-Islam blogs became public. For the rest of the period till its inglorious end with accusations of financial embezzlement and alleged flirtations with anti-liberation elements, the GM was kept going by the combined efforts of the AL government and the media for achieving the political objectives of the ruling party. Nevertheless the GM did not really fail the people but not the way its leaders and the ruling party and its cultural allies wanted or expected. The GM by its rise and fall has established that to the overwhelming majority of people of Bangladesh, Islam is of the essence and that secularism can co-exist with it but not at its expense.
The lack of even a murmur at the downfall of the GM from the people has further established and strengthened the case of Islam. The cultural activist who said in the media that in Bangladesh there couldn’t be politics without religion has underlined that the efforts of the secular forces to use the GM to push Islam from public domain allowing secularism unchallenged acceptance in public life has not succeeded. The way the Jamat has resurged as witnessed in the upazilla lections has also established how important Islam is to the people of Bangladesh. People supported the Jamaat in large numbers not because of any love for the party’s politics but because they wanted to register their protest against the ruling party for allowing the GM to humiliate Islam. The discussions in political circles that the ruling party is now talking with the Jamaat, even if a baseless rumour, underlines that Islam as a political force in Bangladesh is now stronger than before and that this is not due to the fundamentalist forces such as the Jamaat. Perhaps in all these, the country may in the end benefit because the secular forces that were determined to fight Islam to the end, will now know how impossible their case is. The fall of the GM therefore has helped the country avert the possibility of a dangerous civil conflict and given the country the opportunity to let Islam and secularism co-exist as the two did over the centuries.

All united for war crime trial
The curtain over the GM has finally fallen. After all the sound and fury, it has only the head of Qader Mollah to show as achievement without a whimper. Â In that too, the circumstances under which he was hanged could some day return to haunt the nation that was as united on the issue of the war crimes trials and demand for capital punishment for the accused as it was in 1971.That unity was squandered because the GM allowed itself to be used by the ruling party for its political ends with the media as a collaborator. The final moments of the hanging of Qader Mollah, when Ministers participated live before TV in the count down left many wondering whether Qader Mollah was hanged in the due process of the law after all.
The writer is a retired career Ambassador. His email is ambserajulislam@gmail.com


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Revised ADP tuned to support business, politics

Faruque Ahmed

Business interest must be kept out of politics. Otherwise public interest may lose ground to dirty business interest at the nation’s cost. “A cat can’t be the least trusted guard to a store house of dried fish.” This is what Suranjit Sengunpta had once said about businessmen turned politicians.

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Faruque Ahmed

Business interest must be kept out of politics. Otherwise public interest may lose ground to dirty business interest at the nation’s cost. “A cat can’t be the least trusted guard to a store house of dried fish.” This is what Suranjit Sengunpta had once said about businessmen turned politicians.

Moreover when business interest plus party politics becomes guiding principles of government budgetary allocations, the worst may come at the end. The National Economic Council (NEC) approved the Revised Annual Development Programme (RADP) on April 3 in a highly charged political environment prompting the finance minister to succumb to the newly appointed minister of planning’s additional demand for funds.
Finance Minister AMA Muhith wanted to bring down the size of the revised ADP to Tk 55,000 crore from the original size at Tk 65,870 crore. But Planning Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal, who is a businessman, presented an additional demand of Tk 8,777 crore for different ministries suggesting the allocations are highly essential to their development projects.

Cost overrun
The basis of the demand is the high implementation cost of the projects and he forced the finance minister to agree to the size of the revised ADP at Tk 60,000 crore despite his strong objections about the justification of additional fund and the quality of the expenditures.
Finance Minister said his job is to tailor the size of the budget – both the revenue annd the development budget – keeping eyes on the size of the revenue collection and othher sources of fund from home and donors’ assistance. He said the revenue shortfall has already been projected at Tk 11,000 crore this year and any additional fund to the revised ADP must be arranged with additional borrowing from banks.
He further said, during the eight months the ministries were able to spend Tk 25,218 crore of the ADP which is only 38 percent of the allocated fund. More allocations may therefore end up in waste and misuse as the government implementation capacity is critically limited to handle more funds in the next four months time. The present ADP has been based on Tk 25,000 bank borrowing which is almost 40 percent of the annual development programme and the government will have to borrow at least Tk 5,000 crore more from banks to raise it to Tk 31,000 crore; which is roughly equivalent to 50 percent of the revised ADP.
Economists suggest development funding from public borrowing anticipating that its financial and economic rate of returns will be more over time in terms of job creation and income generation than the real cost of borrowing. But question arises if the money borrowed is used in reckless expenditure dominated by political goals and marred with high level of corruption, irregularities and questionable expenses, such borrowing is critically harmful to add to the repayment load on the economy and to the nation.

More fund allocation questioned
Question arises what were the compulsions to allocate more funds to some development ministries at a time when allegations of corruption and misuse of budgetary fund for political purposes galore at all levels. There is hardly any transparency and accountability in the use of fund in LGRD ministry, in the ministries of education, health, communication, water resource management, social safety net and such other heads of expenditures.
Most money now finds way to political use and there is a common perception at work that government budget has become closely integrated with political goals and mobilization of party machinery at the field level. Party leaders and workers are beneficiaries of the budget and ministers and senior functionaries of the government are reportedly taking home a lion share of the development expenditure under their control by way of manifold manipulations and mischief.  Reports said that the size of the revised ADP soared because of high cost of existing projects but while it is true that cost of construction materials have increased, the question is whether or not the revised expenditure has any relation with the real cost escalation in the ground. It is reportedly estimated at many times higher to generate additional fund to misuse for political purposes. The quarrel between Finance Minister AMA Muhith and Planning Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal was actually a case of public disappointment prior to the revised ADP meetings and during the internal budgetary exercises.
As the Finance Minister was not agreeing to the demand for additional fund of the planning minister who is rather a minister but was a businessmen with questionable integrity, because of his involvement of the 2010 stock market scam and had launched a slanderous campaign against the finance minister at the time.
Muhith who had protected the planning minister from possible prosecution for his involvement in the stock market scam based on a government probe report, now came under his sharp attack as a “good for nothing” minister.

Scandalous verbosity
The Planning Minister questioned the merits and achievement of the Finance Minister and also blamed him for presenting lengthy but hollow budget speeches. He further said, the finance minister crashed out of his long budget speeches on the floor and what he say over several hours in the budget speech he can do it in a 15-minute speech.
It is true that the Finance Minister speaks much and at times irrelevant, but the new planning minister must realized that there is not a second Mr AMA Muhith in the cabinet by virtue of his long public service and the capacity to run the administration of a super ministry like finance.
The planning minister could show the minimum respect as what Muhith said in his reaction demanding certain level of political decorum. Mustafa Kamal may not become a minister again but should have the minimum decency to treat an octogenarian minister like Muhith and should realize that even if he himself lives for another 50 years he won’t be able to achieve anything like half of that of Muhith. Any sensible person would disapprove planning minister’s arrogance and dismiss his comments as gibberish.
However, senior politicians and members of the civil society have said that it is not acceptable from a halfwit businessman of doubtful integrity losing his balance after becoming a minister to treat a nationally respected person with such disdain.


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Polling under shadow of guns in Maoist dominated Indian states

Shamsuddin Ahmed

Elections in the world’s largest democracy are in progress under the shadow of guns. Heavy security forces – police and paramilitary – deployed in the Maoist it infested 20 out of 29 states of India to ensure undisturbed polling.

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Shamsuddin Ahmed

Elections in the world’s largest democracy are in progress under the shadow of guns. Heavy security forces – police and paramilitary – deployed in the Maoist it infested 20 out of 29 states of India to ensure undisturbed polling.

The Maoists called for election boycott and targeted the security forces and political leaders. At least 20 paramilitary soldiers and five or six civilians were killed in Maoist attacks in central India during the first week of poll shaking the corruption and caste ridden democracy. Voting began April 7 will be held in phases till May 12 and the results will be announced on May 16.
Unlike the previous national election, the Maoist anti-election campaign is louder and sharper this time, especially all along the red corridor that runs from the coast of Orissa to Bihar. Interesting to note that none of the major political parties, not even the prime ministerial candidates Rahul Gandhi and Narendra Modi were heard challenging the Maoist threats and pledge to the nation for ending their insurgency although Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh repeatedly warned that the Maoists are the gravest threat to internal security of the country.

Maoists on the roll
Maoists attacked paramilitary forces and polling booths in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Bihar and Orissa. At least nine paramilitary soldiers were killed in guerilla attack in restive Bastar region on April 12. In another incident, a bus carrying election officials was caught in a landmine blast triggered by the red rebels. Five or six election officials were killed in the blast. Maoist spokesperson Gudsa Usendi, however, regretted the unwanted civilian deaths.
In a statement to the media, the spokesperson said PLGA (Peoples Liberation Guerilla Army) cadres attacked the bus suspecting security personnel were traveling in it. “It is a mistake on our part but it should not be seen as violation of human rights. We tender apology for loss of civilian lives.” PLGA is the military wing of outlawed Communist Party of India (CPI-Maoist).
In Jharkhand, six BSF jawans were killed in a landmine blast in Latehar district. Maoists detonated the landmine when the BSF personnel were traveling in bus to a polling station near Aara village, about 140 km from the state capital. The Maoists ambushed the BSF bus.
Meanwhile, heavy exchange of fire between the Maoist guerilla fighters and security forces has been reported from Chhattisgarh and Orissa. Maoists began the fire at six polling stations in Chhattisgarh's Bastar region in presence of heavy security forces guarding the polling centres. The incident took place soon after the voting began in the morning. Maoists fired at six booths in Dantewada and Narayanpur districts to scare away the voters. The voting in high risk Bastar and Kanker was ended at 3pm while polling in nine other constituencies continued till 4 pm. TV footage showed presence of few voters in those polling centres.

Maoists to capture state power
In Orissa, the Maoists attacked a polling booth in remote Andrahill village and set fire to voting machines and vehicles in Malkangiri district.
Two days after theMaoist attack on paramilitary jawans and election officials in Chhatisgarh on Saturday, intelligence officials said they received information of Maoist movement in large number in parts of Mahasamund, Kankar and Rajnandagaon that goes to poll on April 17. Panic ran through security forces and people at the prospect of more attacks, ambush and triggering of landmines by the Maoists.
The ultras of former Naxalites formed the Communist Party of India (Maoist) in 2004. Now the banned party gained strength and support of millions of deprived, neglected adivasis, low caste Hindus and a section of the intellectuals. The Maoist armed struggle targeting security forces is aimed at capturing the state power by 2050. Former Home Secretary G K Pillai who had long involved in anti-insurgency planning frankly admitted the Maoists may reach the objective with the rate of strength they are gaining now.
TV footage showed scores of men and women, all Muslims, were being carried in vehicles that we in Bangladesh call vot-voty to their villages in Muzaffarnagar of Uttar Pradhesh, from distant places, They had been displaced by the communal riot in October last year that left about one hundred people dead. Some of them visited their burnt and looted houses. We have not received the compensation promised by the government, a riot victim told the TV interviewer, “We cannot return home for security of life.”


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The rot of Wall Street stinks all the way to the bank

Jim Hightower

Not too many years ago, any news story about bonus money would’ve been about some 20-year-old baseball player — an up-and-coming superstar getting $1100,000 or so on top of his salary as an extra incentive to join the Yankees, Giants, Red Sox or whatever team. Sports writers dubbed them: “Bonus Babies.”

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Jim Hightower

Not too many years ago, any news story about bonus money would’ve been about some 20-year-old baseball player — an up-and-coming superstar getting $1100,000 or so on top of his salary as an extra incentive to join the Yankees, Giants, Red Sox or whatever team. Sports writers dubbed them: “Bonus Babies.”

How quaint. These days, stories about bonus money don’t elicit cheers, for they feature some of society’s least admirable people: Wall Street bankers. Far from superstars, they can be subpar performers or even what amounts to crime syndicate bosses overseeing everything from simple fraud to laundering money for drug cartels. Yet, in the first part of each year, we witness this cluster of greedmeisters quaffing champagne, laughing uproariously and shouting, “It’s bonus time, baby!”
This year, even though the Wall Street bosses have presided over a 30 percent drop in their banks’ profits, they’ve extracted a 15 percent raise in overall bonus money, totaling a ridiculous $27 billion. That averages out to $165,000 in extra pay to each Wall Street banker. But averages deceive, for thousands of lower-level bankers are given a dab, while those up in the executive suites make off with the bulk of the bonus heist.

Outrageous bank bonuses
Michael Corbat, CEO of Citigroup, for example, didn’t just grab a 15 percent increase in bonus pay, but nearly three times that. His total haul was $16 million. Then there’s Jamie Dimon, boss of JPMorgan Chase. He had a really terrible year in 2013, forcing his shareholders to shell out some $22 billion in penalties for tallying up a long list of illegalities. But that didn’t stop Jamie from taking a 74 percent hike in bonus money this year — he pulled in a cool $118.5 million.
In a time when the 90 percent majority of Americans see their income falling, you’d think Wall Street might show a bit of modesty. But, instead, they choose to show us just how much Wall Street crime really does pay.
Let’s review the rap sheet of Wall Street banks: Defrauding investors, cheating homeowners, forgery, rigging markets, tax evasion, credit card ripoffs ... and so sickeningly much more.
At last, though, some of the cops on the bank beat seem to be having regulatory epiphanies. The New York Times reports that some financial overseers are questioning “whether such misdeeds are not the work of a few bad actors, but rather a flaw that runs through the fabric of the banking industry. ... Regulators are starting to ask: Is there something rotten in bank culture?”

Really? Where’ve they been?
Millions of everyday Americans had no problem sniffing out that rot back in 2007 at the start of the Wall Street collapse and nauseating bailout. Imagine how pleased they are that it took only seven years for the stench of bank rot to reach the tender nostrils of authorities. Still, even sloooww progress is progress.
Both the head of the New York Fed and the Comptroller of the Currency are at least grasping one basic reality, namely that the tightened regulations enacted to deal with the “too big to fail” issue do nothing about the fundamental ethical collapse among America’s big bankers. The problem is that, again and again, Wall Street’s culture of greed is rewarded — bbank bosses preside over gross illegalities, are not punished, pocket multimillion-dollar bonuses despite their shoddy ethics and blithely proceed to the next scandal.
More restraint on bank processes miss a core fact: Banks don’t engage in wrongdoing; bankers do. As Comptroller Tom Curry says, the approach to this problem is not to call in more lawyers, “It is more like a priest-penitent relationship.”
Public shaming can be useful, but it should include actual punishment of the top bosses — take away their bonuses, fire them and prosecute them!
Copyright Creators.com. Jim Hightower is a national radio commentator, writer, public speaker, and author of the new book, “Swim Against the Current: Even a Dead Fish Can Go With the Flow.” (Wiley, March 2008) He publishes the monthly “Hightower Lowdown,” co-edited by Phillip Frazer.


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China, Russia agree to drop US$ in trade

Peter Koenig

Russia has just dropped another bombshell, announcing not only the de-coupling of its trade from the dollar, but also that its hydrocarbon trade will in the future be carried out in rubles and local currencies of its trading partners — no longer in dollars.

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Peter Koenig

Russia has just dropped another bombshell, announcing not only the de-coupling of its trade from the dollar, but also that its hydrocarbon trade will in the future be carried out in rubles and local currencies of its trading partners — no longer in dollars.

Russia’s trade in hydrocarbons amounts to about a trillion dollars per year. Other countries, especially the BRICS and BRCIS-associates (BRICSA) may soon follow suit and join forces with Russia, abandoning the ‘petro-dollar’ as trading unit for oil and gas. This could amount to tens of trillions in loss for demand of petro-dollars per year (US GDP about $17 trillion — December 2013) — leaving an important dent in the US economy would be an understatement.

Old Silk Road opens
Added to this is the declaration earlier this week by Russia’s Press TV - China will re-open the old Silk Road as a new trading route linking Germany, Russia and China, allowing to connect and develop new markets along the road, especially in Central Asia, where this new project will bring economic and political stability, and in Western China provinces, where “New Areas” of development will be created. The first one will be the Lanzhou New Area in China’s Northwestern Gansu Province, one of China’s poorest regions.
“During his visit to Duisburg, Chinese President Xi Jinping made a master stroke of economic diplomacy that runs directly counter to the Washington neo-conservative faction’s effort to bring a new confrontation between NATO and Russia.” (press TV, April 6, 2014)
“Using the role of Duisburg as the world’s largest inland harbor, an historic transportation hub of Europe and of Germany’s Ruhr steel industry center, he proposed that Germany and China cooperate on building a new “economic Silk Road” linking China and Europe. The implications for economic growth across Eurasia are staggering.”
Curiously, western media have so far been oblivious to both events. It seems like a desire to extending the falsehood of our western illusion and arrogance - as long as the silence will bear.
Germany, the economic driver of Europe — the world’s fourth largest economy ($3.6 trillion GDP) — on the western end of the new trading axis, will be like a giant magnet, attracting other European trading partners of Germany’s to the New Silk Road. What looks like a future gain for Russia and China, also bringing about security and stability, would be a lethal loss for Washington.

BRICS to launch new currency
In addition, the BRICS are preparing to launch a new currency — composed by a basket of their local currencies - to be used for international trading, as well as for a new reserve currency, replacing the rather worthless debt ridden dollar — a welcome feat for the world.
Along with the new BRICS(A) currency will come a new international payment settlement system, replacing the SWIFT and IBAN exchanges, thereby breaking the hegemony of the infamous privately owned currency and gold manipulator, the Bank for International Settlement (BIS) in Basle, Switzerland - also called the central bank of all central banks.
To be sure - the BIS is a privately owned for profit institution, was created in the early 1930’s, in the midst of the big economic melt-down of the 20th Century. The BIS was formed precisely for that purpose — to control the world’s monetary system, along with the also privately owned FED and the Wall Street Banksters — the epitome of private unregulated ownership.  The BIS is known to hold at least half a dozen secret meetings per year, attended by the world’s elite, deciding the fate of countries and entire populations. Their demise would be another welcome new development.
As the new trading road and monetary system will take hold, other countries and nations, so far in the claws of US dependence, will flock to the ‘new system’, gradually isolating Washington’s military industrial economy (sic) and its NATO killing machine.
This Economic Sea Change may bring the empire to its knees, without spilling a drop of blood. An area of new hope for justice and more equality, a rebirth of sovereign states, may dawn and turn the spiral of darkness into a spiral of light.
 Courtesy: Global Research. Peter Koenig is an economist and former World Bank staff. He worked extensively around the world in the fields of environment and water resources. He writes regularly for Global Research, ICH, the Voice of Russia and other internet sites. He is the author of Implosion - fiction based on facts and on 30 years of experience around the globe.


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Sorcery scandalize Pakistan

Jonaid Iqbal in Islamabad

Ever since Bill Clinton used damning phraseology of naming Pakistan as the most dangerous place on earth, Pakistanis have tried — and continue to try and win soft image for it.

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Jonaid Iqbal in Islamabad

Ever since Bill Clinton used damning phraseology of naming Pakistan as the most dangerous place on earth, Pakistanis have tried — and continue to try and win soft image for it.

The intellectuals, especially the actors, artists, physicians, film makers, writers, singers and scientists have been in the forefront in the task to get a good message for their country, but global politics and especially events happening after 9/11 tend to sharpen the bad perception even though few statesman deny this country’s geo-political importance.
Local folks with little understanding, unwittingly help sharpen this bad image. Consider the recent case of two brothers living in a small village in Baker near Sargodha, the town known for world class aviators. The two brothers are of the carnivorous kind and eat human flesh. Last week some of their neighbours informed the police that foul smell was overpowering the locality where they and the two brothers live.
The police found the head of a baby in their house which they had stolen from a grave. The two owned up before the police that they eat human flesh and in fact they were arrested in the past for the same offence. The Punjab Police arrested them and is making further enquiries about the past misdeeds of these two man-eating brothers who said they do such bad things at the bidding of their sorcerer tutors.
And then the next day we had to hear the story of an uncle living in Abbottabad, a hill town in KPK (Khyberpashtunkhwa) who killed his two near kin’s – sons of his own sister because an evil soothsayer had asked him to get raw human blood. And the uncle killed his own nephews to give the blood to the sorcerer.
The same week, we hear of a young man in Multan (south Punjab) digging 50 feet under his own home to get a huge fortune which a sorcerer told him was lying deep down the property. The fellow did not find the fortune but lost his life because the house collapsed.
Another story which has made international berth is about a nine month old child who had to appear in court because a police posse had named this child as a dangerous murderer that had attacked a police posse which was assigned to check gas theft.
Pakistanis may now be advised to treat the sorcerers and soothsayers like plague. Those found in the company of those in the two professions – to be found mostly in graaveyards in dark night surely are bad eggs and scandalize the society.


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