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Obama authorizes covert economic war against Venezuela

Obama authorizes covert economic war against Venezuela

Wayne Madsen
Online Journal
January 21, 2010

WMR’s intelligence sources have reported that the Obama administration has authorized an economic war against Venezuela in order to destabilize the government of President Hugo Chavez.

After a successful coup against Chavez ally, President Manuel Zelaya of Honduras, and the very thin 51-49 percent electoral win by Chile’s billionaire right-winger Sebastian Pinera on January 17, a buoyed Obama White House has given a green light for political operatives in Venezuela, many of whom operate under the cover of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), to set the stage for massive street demonstrations to protest Chavez’s devaluation of the bolivar, Venezuela’s currency.

Chavez devalued the bolivar by 50 percent to make Venezuelan oil exports less expensive, thus boosting revenue for his country. However, the devaluation has also seen price rises and inflation in Venezuela and the CIA and its subservient NGOs have wasted little time in putting out stories about consumers rushing to the stories ahead of an increase in consumer products, with imported flat-screen televisions being the favorite consumer item being hyped by the corporate media as seeing a huge price increase and long lines at shopping malls favored by the Venezuelan elites.

The state has exempted certain consumer goods such as food, medicines, school supplies, and industrial machinery from being affected by the bolivar’s devaluation through a different exchange rate and price controls, but it is the price increases on televisions, tobacco, alcohol, cell phones, and computers that has the anti-Chavez forces in Venezuela and abroad hyping the ill-effects on the Venezuelan consumer.

To battle against businessmen who are trying to capitalize on the devaluation of the bolivar, Chavez has threatened to close and possibly seize any business that gouges the consumer by inordinately raising prices. The first target of a temporary closure was a Caracas store owned by the French firm Exito.

International investment analysts praised Chavez’s decision to devalue the bolivar and said the decision was overdue considering the fall of oil prices worldwide. However, the CIA and NGOs, many aligned with George Soros’s Open Society Institute and the U.S. National Endowment for Democracy are planning large street demonstrations against Chavez’s handling of the economy.

National Assembly elections are scheduled for September but the Obama administration has decided that if Chavez can be removed now, his allies in Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Paraguay, and some Caribbean island states will quickly abandon Chavez’s alternative to American-led Western Hemisphere financial contrivances and free trade pacts, the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA).

The Obama planners then see Cuba, once again, being isolated in the hemisphere and ripe for increased U.S. political pressure. Cuba was placed on the list of 14 countries requiring additional airline passenger screening as part of the policy to pressure and isolate Cuba. There is a possibility that with the outbreak of U.S.-inspired violence in the streets of Venezuela, that nation could join Cuba on the list as the 15th country.

The Obama administration’s assault is two-fold: economic and political. Pressure is being applied against the gasoline chain Citgo, which is owned by the Venezuelan state oil company, PDVSA, and Venezuelan investment favorability ratings. Politically, the U.S. is overtly and covertly funneling money to anti-Chavez groups through the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and groups affiliated with George Soros.

There is also a small military component to Obama’s strategy of undermining Chavez. U.S., P-3 Orion overflights of Venezuelan airspace from bases in Aruba and Curacao are designed to intimidate Chavez and activate Venezuelan radar and command, control, communications, and intelligence (C3I) systems to gather electronic and signals intelligence data that would be used by the United States to jam Venezuelan military networks in the event of a U.S.-inspired uprising against Chavez by U.S. loyalists embedded in the Venezuelan military, police, PDVSA, and media. The U.S. is also stoking cross-border incursions into Venezuela by Colombian paramilitaries to gauge Venezuela’s border defenses. Last November, Colombian right-wing paramilitary units killed two Venezuelan National Guardsmen inside Venezuela in Tachira state. Weapons caches maintained by Colombians inside Venezuela have been seized by Venezuelan authorities. Venezuela has also arrested a number of Colombian DAS intelligence agents inside Venezuela.

Obama signed a military agreement with Colombia that allows the United States to establish seven air and naval bases in Colombia. An additional agreement by Obama with Panama will see the U.S. military return to that nation to set up two military bases.

It is estimated that some 25 percent of Venezuelans are likely Fifth Columnists who would take part in a revolt against Chavez. Many of them based in the Venezuelan oil-producing state of Zulia and the capital of Maracaibo, where successive U.S. ambassadors in Caracas have stoked secessionist embers and where the CIA and U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency have concentrated much of their efforts. In November, Venezuelan police arrested in Maracaibo, Magaly Janeth Moreno Vega, also known as “The Pearl,” the leader of the right-wing United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), which has been directly linked to Colombia’s pro-U.S. President Alvaro Uribe and members of his government, including former Colombian Attorney General Luis Camilo Osorio Isaza, appointed by Uribe as Colombia’s ambassador to Mexico.

U.S. Provoking War With Venezuela

 



U.S. Provoking War With Venezuela

Netherlands has Granted U.S. Military Use of its Islands in the Caribbean

globalresearch.ca
January 14, 2010

The government of the Netherlands recently granted the US military use of its islands in the Caribbean, with the excuse that this is to help in the “war against drugs”. In reality, this is a direct threat to the Chavez government in Venezuela.

In the Dutch media articles have appeared about the “war-mongering” president of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, who is “preparing a war against Colombia”. Now Chávez has accused the Netherlands of supporting aggression against Venezuela, because the Netherlands has given permission to the American armed forces to use the military bases on the Dutch Caribbean islands of Aruba and Curaçao[1].

In the media Hugo Chávez, as always, has been presented like some “crazy populist”, and of course the “civilised Netherlands” are presented as being totally innocent.

Later Maxime Verhagen, the Dutch minister of foreign affairs, said the American military were on Aruba and Curaçao, as part of the “war against drugs”. He remains silent about what is really happening on Aruba and Curaçao.

Authors such as Noam Chomsky and Eva Golinger have pointed out in different articles that the so-called “war against drugs” has nothing to do with any battle against drug smuggling, but has been used for other causes such as fighting against guerrilla movements and the spying of other countries. Since the start of the “war against drugs” there has only been more smuggling and consumption of drugs.

The fact that the Netherlands are participating in this is quite normal, because the Dutch government has a tradition of supporting American imperialism. After Britain the Netherlands are the biggest ally of the U.S. in Western Europe. The cabinet of Prime Minister Balkenende gave political support to the invasion of Iraq that was based completely on lies. Now the Netherlands have troops in Afghanistan, officially to rebuild the country, but in practice to prop up the corrupt regime of Karzai.

The bases on Aruba and Curaçao

In 1999 the Netherlands and the U.S. signed an agreement for the establishment of Forward Operating Locations (FOLs). This meant that the American military could use air force bases on Aruba and Curaçao. While the bases were originally used for operations against drug smuggling and the Colombian guerrilla movement FARC, this changed with the election of George Bush. Venezuela was seen as a threat by then, because it was a beacon of hope for the poor and working people of Latin America. In 2002 there was a CIA-backed coup attempt against the democratically elected Hugo Chávez. Since then there have only been more intrigues against Venezuela.

In 2006 there was a big military exercise by the U.S., Netherlands, Belgium, Great Britain, France and Canada in the Caribbean, named Joint Caribbean Lion 2006. This exercise was clearly a provocation against Venezuela. After criticisms by the Venezuelan government the then-minister of defence Henk Kamp and some right-wing MPs decided to accuse Chávez of “wanting to conquer the Antilles”. This was based on false statements from the Venezuelan opposition, that stated Chávez claimed everything within 200 miles from the Venezuelan coast as Venezuelan territory, while in that speech Chávez clearly said “12”, and not “200” miles.

Now there is a new conflict. This has everything to do with the recent militarization of Colombia and its seven military bases that have been given to American troops. Venezuela is not talking nonsense as the media keep claiming. Colombia’s military spending now is 5% of its Gross Domestic Product. At the peak of her struggle against the FARC this was 2.5%.

Also the American Fourth Fleet has been stationed back in the Caribbean since 2008. This fleet was disbanded in 1950 after the end of WWII, but now it is back and close to the Venezuelan coast.

The Netherlands are now playing the role of junior partner of the U.S. in the Caribbean. Different spy planes have been detected above Venezuela. An American Boeing RC-135 has taken off at different times from Curaçao and has been detected over Venezuelan air space.

Hugo Chavez orders military to shoot at US aircraft

 



Hugo Chavez orders military to shoot at US aircraft

Hugo Chavez orders military to shoot at US aircraft

London Telegraph
December 21, 2009

President Hugo Chavez has accused the US of violating Venezuela’s airspace with an unmanned spy plane, and ordered his military to shoot down any such aircraft in the future.

Speaking during his weekly television and radio program, Mr Chavez said the aircraft overflew a Venezuelan military base in the western state of Zulia after taking off from neighbouring Colombia. He did not elaborate, but suggested the plane was being used for espionage.

“These are the Yankees. They are entering Venezuela,” he said.

“I’ve ordered them to be shot down,” Mr Chavez said of the aircraft. “We cannot permit this.”

Read Full Article Here

War threat between Venezuela and Colombia increases

 



Thanksgiving: A Native American View

Thanksgiving: A Native American View

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6RwCPaZujZM

 



U.S. Planning Coups in Latin America

Morales: U.S. Planning Coups in Latin America

Press TV
September 14, 2009

The Bolivian president has accused the United States of planning coups in Latin America after Washington reached an agreement with Colombia over military bases.

“In Latin America, where there is a US military base there are military coups,” Evo Morales told Bolivian immigrants living in Spain on Sunday.

Morales along with his allies in South America have repeatedly criticized the deal between Colombia and the US that would give the US military access to seven Colombian bases for a 10 year period.

“To the social movements of Europe and the world: Help us put an end to military bases in Latin American,” he said, citing the Bolivian constitution that bans foreign bases on its soil.

According to US officials, American troops will continue to be involved in helping Colombia in counter-drug operations and in supporting its fight against leftist rebels.

However, Latin American governments believe that the US uses the regional war on drugs as a pretext to boost its regional military presence.

Meanwhile, Morales claimed earlier that the United States was involved in a military coup in Honduras that ousted President Manuel Zelaya in June.

Later, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez presented a document from the US Air Mobility Command which according to him showed Washington’s future plans for the region.

The Venezuelan leftist leader claimed that the US wants to use Colombia as a power base, from which to dominate South America.

 



Cities Debate Privatizing Public Infrastructure

Cities Debate Privatizing Public Infrastructure

NY Times
August 29, 2008

Cleaning up road kill and maintaining runways may not sound like cutting-edge investments. But banks and funds with big money seem to think so.

Reeling from more exotic investments that imploded during the credit crisis, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, the Carlyle Group, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse are among the investors who have amassed an estimated $250 billion war chest — much of it raised in the last two years — to finance a tidal wave of infrastructure projects in the United States and overseas.

Their strategy is gaining steam in the United States as federal, state and local governments previously wary of private funds struggle under mounting deficits that have curbed their ability to improve crumbling roads, bridges and even airports with taxpayer money.

With politicians like Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California warning of a national infrastructure crisis, public resistance to private financing may start to ease.

“Budget gaps are starting to increase the viability of public-private partnerships,” said Norman Y. Mineta, a former secretary of transportation who was recently hired by Credit Suisse as a senior adviser to such deals.

This fall, Midway Airport of Chicago could become the first to pass into the hands of private investors. Just outside the nation’s capital, a $1.9 billion public-private partnership will finance new high-occupancy toll lanes around Washington. This week, Florida gave the green light to six groups that included JPMorgan, Lehman Brothers and the Carlyle Group to bid for a 50- to 75 -year lease on Alligator Alley, a toll road known for sightings of sleeping alligators that stretches 78 miles down I-75 in South Florida.

Until recently, the use of private funds to build and manage large-scale American infrastructure assets was slow to take root. States and towns could raise taxes and user fees or turn to the municipal bond market.

Americans have also been wary of foreign investors, who were among the first to this market, taking over their prized roads and bridges. When Macquarie of Australia and Cintra of Spain, two foreign funds with large portfolios of international investments, snapped up leases to the Chicago Skyway and the Indiana Toll Road, “people said ‘hold it, we don’t want our infrastructure owned by foreigners,’ ” Mr. Mineta said.

And then there is the odd romance between Americans and their roads: they do not want anyone other than the government owning them. The specter of investors reaping huge fees by financing assets like the Pennsylvania Turnpike also touches a raw nerve among taxpayers, who already feel they are paying top dollar for the government to maintain roads and bridges.

And with good reason: Private investors recoup their money by maximizing revenue — either making the infrastructure better to allow for more cars, for example, or by raising tolls. (Concession agreements dictate everything from toll increases to the amount of time dead animals can remain on the road before being cleared.)

Politicians have often supported the civic outcry: in the spring of 2007, James L. Oberstar of Minnesota, chairman of the House Committees on Transportation and Infrastructure, warned that his panel would “work to undo” any public-private partnership deals that failed to protect the public interest.

And labor unions have been quick to point out that investment funds stand to reap handsome fees from the crisis in infrastructure. “Our concern is that some sources of financing see this as a quick opportunity to make money,” Stephen Abrecht, director of the Capital Stewardship Program at the Service Employees International Union, said.

But in a world in which governments view infrastructure as a way to manage growth and raise productivity through the efficient movement of goods and people, an eroding economy has forced politicians to take another look.

“There’s a huge opportunity that the U.S. public sector is in danger of losing,” says Markus J. Pressdee, head of infrastructure investment banking at Credit Suisse. “It thinks there is a boatload of capital and when it is politically convenient it will be able to take advantage of it. But the capital is going into infrastructure assets available today around the world, and not waiting for projects the U.S., the public sector, may sponsor in the future.”

Traditionally, the federal government played a major role in developing the nation’s transportation backbone: Thomas Jefferson built canals and roads in the 1800s, Theodore Roosevelt expanded power generation in the early 1900s. In the 1950s Dwight Eisenhower oversaw the building of the interstate highway system.

But since the early 1990s, the United States has had no comprehensive transportation development, and responsibilities were pushed off to states, municipalities and metropolitan planning organizations. “Look at the physical neglect — crumbling bridges, the issue of energy security, environmental concerns,” said Robert Puentes of the Brookings Institution. “It’s more relevant than ever and we have no vision.”

The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that the United States needs to invest at least $1.6 trillion over the next five years to maintain and expand its infrastructure. Last year, the Federal Highway Administration deemed 72,000 bridges, or more than 12 percent of the country’s total, “structurally deficient.” But the funds to fix them are shrinking: by the end of this year, the Highway Trust Fund will have a several billion dollar deficit.

“We are facing an infrastructure crisis in this country that threatens our status as an economic superpower, and threatens the health and safety of the people we serve,” New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg told Congress this year. In January he joined forces with Mr. Schwarzenegger and Gov. Edward G. Rendell of Pennsylvania to start a nonprofit group to raise awareness about the problem.

Some American pension funds see an investment opportunity. “Our infrastructure is crumbling, from bridges in Minnesota to our airports and freeways,” said Christopher Ailman, the head of the California State Teachers’ Retirement System. His board recently authorized up to about $800 million to invest in infrastructure projects. Nearby, the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, with coffers totaling $234 billion, has earmarked $7 billion for infrastructure investments through 2010. The Washington State Investment Board has allocated 5 percent of its fund to such investments.

Some foreign pension funds that jumped into the game early have already reaped rewards: The $52 billion Ontario Municipal Employee Retirement System saw a 12.4 percent return last year on a $5 billion infrastructure investment pool, above the benchmark 9.9 percent though down from 14 percent in 2006.

“People are creating a new asset class,” said Anne Valentine Andrews, head of portfolio strategy at Morgan Stanley Infrastructure. “You can see and understand the businesses involved — for example, ships come into the port, unload containers, reload containers and leave,” she said. “There’s no black box.”

The prospect of steady returns has drawn high-flying investors like Kohlberg Kravis and Morgan Stanley to the table. “Ten to 20 years from now infrastructure could be larger than real estate,” said Mark Weisdorf, head of infrastructure investments at JPMorgan. In 2006 and 2007, more than $500 billion worth of commercial real estate deals were done.

The pace of recent work is encouraging, says Robert Poole, director of transportation studies at the Reason Foundation, pointing to projects like the high-occupancy toll, or HOT, lanes outside Washington. “The fact that the private sector raised $1.4 billion for the Beltway project shows that even projects like HOT lanes that are considered high risk can be developed and financed privately and that has huge implications for other large metro areas,” he said .

Yet if the flow of money is fast, the return on these investments can be a waiting game. Washington’s HOT lanes project took six years to build after Fluor Enterprises, one of the two private companies financing part of the project, made an unsolicited bid in 2002. The privatization of Chicago’s Midway Airport was part of a pilot program adopted by the Federal Aviation Administration in 1996 to allow five domestic airports to be privatized. Twelve years later only one airport has met that goal — Stewart International Airport in Newburgh, N.Y. — and it was sold back to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

For many politicians, privatization also remains a painful process. Mitch Daniels, the governor of Indiana, faced a severe backlash when he collected $3.8 billion for a 75- year lease of the Indiana Toll Road. A popular bumper sticker in Indiana reads “Keep the toll road, lease Mitch.”

Joe Dear, executive director of the Washington State Investment Board, still wonders how quickly governments will move. “Will all public agencies think it’s worth the extra return private capital will demand?” he asked. “That’s unclear.”

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Stressed banks borrow record amount from Fed

Stressed banks borrow record amount from Fed

Reuters
July 31, 2008

Banks borrowed a record amount of funds from the Federal Reserve in the latest week as the year old credit crisis took a persistent toll, while the commercial paper market continued to contract, signaling tough conditions for short term borrowers.

Banks’ primary credit borrowings averaged $17.45 billion per day in the latest week, the second straight week this had hit a record and up from $16.38 billion the previous week, Fed data showed on Thursday.

Read Full Article Here

 

Zimbabwe Devalues Currency

AP
July 30, 2008

Zimbabwe will drop 10 zeros from its hyper-inflated currency — turning 10 billion dollars into one — the country’s reserve bank said Wednesday. President Robert Mugabe threatened a state of emergency if businesses profiteer from the country’s economic and political unraveling.

Shop shelves are empty and there are chronic shortages of everything including medication, food, fuel, power and water. Eighty percent of the work force is unemployed and many who do have jobs don’t earn enough to pay for bus fare.

Read Full Article Here

 

Inverview with George Green – (7/16/2008)

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