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Archive for March, 2011

Old Russian House

I love Russian architecture. Here is an old house, and follow the link to see many more:

http://englishrussia.com/index.php/2008/09/30/wooden-windows/

Russian wooden architecture 3

another, from the same site

Russian wooden architecture 12

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An old Russian gold mining town…….

The other day I was surprised to learn that Jeffrey Sachs, the creator of “shock therapy” capitalism, who participated in the looting of Russia in the 1990s, is now NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s top adviser for health care. So we in NY will get shock therapy, much as the Russians did two decades ago. Here is a story I wrote for The Wanderer in 2000:

How Clinton & Company & The Bankers Plundered Russia

by Paul Likoudis (May 4, 2000)

In an ordinary election year, Anne Williamson’s Contagion would be
political dynamite, a bombshell, a block-buster, a regime breaker.

  If America were a free and democratic country, with a free press and
independent publishing houses (and assuming, of course, that Americans were a
literate people), Williamson’s book would topple the Clinton regime, the
World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the rest of the criminal
cabal that inhabits the world of modern corporate statism faster than you
could say “Jonathan Hay.”

  Hay, for those who need an introduction to the international financial
buccaneers who control our lives, was the general director of the Harvard
Institute of International Development (HIID) in Moscow (1992-1997), who
facilitated the crippling of the Russian economy and the plundering of its
industrial and manufacturing infrastructure with a strategy concocted by
Larry Summers, Andre Schliefer (HIID’s Cambridge-based manager), Jeffrey
Sachs and his Swedish sidekick Anders Aslund, and a host of private players
from banks and investment houses in Boston and New York — a plan approved and
assisted by the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

  Contagion can be read on many different levels.

  At its simplest, it is a breezy, slightly cynical, highly entertaining
narrative of Russian history from the last months of Gorbachev’s rule to
April 2000 — a period which saw Russia transformed from a decaying socialist
economy (which despite its shortcomings, provided a modest standard of living
to its citizens) to a “managed economy” where home-grown gangsters and
socialist theoreticians from the West, like Hay and his fellow Harvardian
Jeffrey Sachs, delivered 2,500% inflation and indescribable poverty, and
transferred the ownership of Russian industry to Western financiers.

  Williamson was an eyewitness who lived on and off in Russia for more than
ten years, where she reported on all things Russian for The New York Times, Th
e Wall Street Journal, and a host of other equally reputable publications.
She knew and interviewed just about everybody involved in this gargantuan
plundering scheme: Russian politicians and businessmen, the new “gangster”
capitalists and their American sponsors from the IMF, the World Bank, USAID,
Credit Suisse First Boston, the CIA, the KGB — all in all, hundreds of
sources who spoke candidly, often ruthlessly, of their parts in this terrible
human drama.

  Her account is filled with quotations from interviews with top aides of
Yeltsin and Clinton, all down through the ranks of the two hierarchical
societies to the proliferating mass of Russian destitute, pornographers,
pimps, drug dealers, and prostitutes. Some of the principal characters, of
course, refused to talk to Williamson, such as Bill Clinton’s longtime friend
from Oxford, Strobe Talbott, now a deputy secretary of state and, Williamson
suspects, a onetime KGB operative whose claim to fame is a deceitful
translation of the Khrushchev Memoirs. (A KGB colonel refused to confirm or
deny to Williamson that Clinton and Talbott visited North Vietnam together in
1971 — though he did confirm their contacts with the KGB for their protests
against the U.S. war in Vietnam in Moscow. See especially footnote 1, page
210.)

  The 546-page book (the best part of which is the footnotes) gives a nearly
day-by-day report on what happened to Russia; left unstated, but implied on
every page, is the assumption that those in the United States who think what
happened in Russia “can’t happen here” better realize it can happen here.

  Once the Clinton regime and its lapdogs in the media defined Russian thug
Boris Yeltsin as a “democrat,” the wholesale looting of Russia began.
According to the socialist theoreticians at Harvard, Russia needed to be
brought into the New World Order in a hurry; and what better way to do it
than Sachs’ “shock therapy” — a plan that empowered the degenerate,
third-generation descendants of the original Bolsheviks by assigning them the
deeds of Russia’s mightiest state-owned industries — including the giant gas,
oil, electrical, and telecommunications industries, the world’s largest
paper, iron, and steel factories, the world’s richest gold, silver, diamond,
and platinum mines, automobile and airplane factories, etc. — who, in turn,
sold some of their shares of the properties to Westerners for a song, and
pocketed the cash, while retaining control of the companies.

  These third-generation Bolsheviks — led by former Pravda hack Yegor Gaidar,
grandson of a Bolshevik who achieved prominence as the teenage mass murderer
of White Army officers, now heads the Moscow-based Institute for Economies in
Transition — became instant millionaires (or billionaires) and left the
Russian workers virtual slaves of them and their new foreign investors.

  When Russian members of the Supreme Soviet openly criticized the looting of
the national patrimony by these new gangsters early in the U.S.-driven
“reform” program, in 1993, before all Soviet institutions were destroyed,
Yeltsin bombed Parliament.

  Ironically, when Harvard’s Sachs and Hay started identifying Russians they
could work with, they ignored — or shunned — the most capable talent at hand:
those numerous Russian economists who for 20 years had been studying the
Swiss economist Wilhelm von Roepke and his disciple, Ludwig Erhard, father of
Germany’s “economic miracle” in anticipation of the day when Communism would
collapse.

  Somewhat sardonically, Williamson notes that one, probably unintended,
benefit of Gorbachev’s perestroika was the recruitment of these Russian
economists by top U.S. universities.

  In the new, emerging global economy, it’s clear that Russia is the
designated center for heavy manufacturing — just as Asia is for clothing and
computers — with its nearly unlimited supply of hydroelectric power, iron and
steel, timber, gold and other precious metals.

  This helps explain why America’s political elites don’t give a fig about
the closing down of American industries and mines. As Williamson observes,
Russia is viewed as some kind of “closet.”

  What is important for Western readers to understand — as Williamson reports
— is that when Western banks and corporations bought these companies at
bargain basement prices, they bought more than just industrial equipment. In
the Soviet model, every unit of industrial production included workers’
housing, churches, opera houses, schools, hospitals, supermarkets, etc., and
the whole kit-and-caboodle was included in the selling price. By buying large
shares of these companies, Western corporations became, ipso facto, town
managers.

Another Level

  On another level, Contagion is about the workings of international finance,
the consolidation of capital into fewer and fewer hands, and the ruthless,
death-dealing policies it inflicts on its target countries through currency
manipulation, inflation, depression, taxation and war — with emphasis on
Russia but with attention also given to Mexico, Thailand, Indonesia, the
Balkans, and other countries, and how it uses its control over money to
produce social chaos.

  Those who read Williamson’s book will find particularly interesting her
treatment of the Federal Reserve, and how this “bank” was designed to plunder
the wealth of America through war, debt, and taxation, in order to maintain
what is nothing more nor less than a giant pyramid scheme that depends on
domination of the earth and its resources.

  Williamson is of that small but noble school of economics writers who
believe that the academic field of economics is not some esoteric science
that can only be comprehended by those with IQs in four digits, and she —
drawing on such writers as Hayek and von Mises, Roepke and the late American
Murray Rothbard — explains in layman’s vocabulary the nuts and bolts of sound
economic principles and the real-world effects of the Fed’s policies on
hapless Americans.

  Contagion also serves up a severe indictment of the World Bank, the
International Monetary Fund, and the other international “lending” agencies
spawned by the Council on Foreign Relations and similar “councils” and
“commissions” which are fronts for the big banks run by the Houses of
Rockefeller, Morgan, Warburg, et al.

  The policies inflicted on Russia by the banks were cruel to the Nth degree;
but the policy implementers — Williamson employs the derogatory Russian word m
yakigolovy (“soft-headed ones”) applied to the Americans — were a foppish
lot, streaming into Russia by the thousands (the IMF, alone, with 150
staffers) with their outrageous salaries and per diem allowances, renting out
the finest dachas, bringing in their exotic consumer goods, driving up prices
for goods and rents, spurring a boom in the drug and prostitution businesses,
and then watching, cold-heartedly, the declining fortunes of their hosts as
they lost everything — including the artistic heritage of the country.

  Williamson describes brilliantly that heady atmosphere in Moscow in the
early days of the IMF/USAID loan-scamming: a 24-hour party. There were bars
like the Canadian-operated Hungry Duck, which lured Russian teenage girls
into its bar with a male striptease and free drinks, “who, once thoroughly
intoxicated, were then exposed to crowds of anxious young men the club
admitted only late in the evening.”

The Third Level

  At a third and more intriguing level, Contagion is about America’s criminal
politics in the Clinton regime, and, inevitably, the reader will put
Williamson’s book down with the sense that Al Gore will be the next occupier
of the White House.

  Gore, who was raised to be President, has impeccable Russian connections.
His father, of course, was Lenin financier Armand Hammer’s pocket senator,
and it was Hammer who paid for Al Jr.’s expensive St. Alban’s Prep schooling;
and, as Williamson reports, Al Jr.’s daughter married Andrew Schiff, grandson
of Jacob, who, as a member of Kuhn, Loeb & Co., underwrote anti-czarist
political agitation for two decades before Lenin’s coup, and congratulated
Lenin upon his successful revolution.

  Williamson also documents Gore’s intimate involvement with powerful Wall
Street financial houses, and his New York breakfast meeting with
multibillionaire George Soros (a key Russian player) just as the Russian
collapse was underway.

  Williamson tells an interesting story of Gore’s response to the IMF/World
Bank/USAID plunder of U.S. taxpayers for the purpose of hobbling Russia.

  By March 1999, Russia was now a financial basket case, and billions, if not
tens of billions of U.S. taxpayer-backed loans had vanished into the secret
bank accounts of both Russian and American gangster capitalists, and the news
was starting to make little vibrations on Capitol Hill.
  “The U.S. administration’s response to the debacle was repulsively similar
to a typical Bill Clinton bimbo-eruption operation: Having ruined Russia by
cosseting her in debt, meddling ignorantly in her internal affairs, and
funding a drunken usurper, his agents denied all error and slandered
(‘slimed’) her,” writes Williamson.

  “Pundits and academics joined government officials in bemoaning Mother
Russia’s thieving ways, her bottomless corruption and constant chaos, all the
while wringing their soft hands with a schoolmarm’s exasperation. Russia’s
self-appointed democracy coach Strobe Talbott (‘Pro-Consul Strobe’ to the
Russians) would get it right. An equally sanctimonious Albert Gore — the same
Al Gore who’d been so quick to return the CIA’s 1995 report detailing Viktor
Chernomyrdin’s and Anatoly Chubais’ personal corruption with the single word
‘Bullshit’ scrawled across it — took the low road and sniffed that the
Russians would just have to get their own economic house in order and cut
their own deal with the IMF. . . .”

  The cost to the American taxpayers of Clinton regime bailouts in a
three-and-a-half-year period, Williamson notes, is more than $180 billion!
The “new financial architecture” Clinton has erected, she writes, “isn’t new
at all, but rather something the international public lenders have been
wanting for decades, i.e., an automatic bailout for their own bad practices.”

  As the extent of the corruption of the Clinton-Yeltsin “reform” plan for
Russia unfolded last year, with the attendant Bank of New York scandal, the
mysterious death of super banker Edmond Safra in his Monte Carlo penthouse,
the collapse of the Russian stock market, and the whiplash effect in
Southeast Asia, Congress was pressed to hold hearings.

  What resulted, as Williamson accurately narrates it, was just a smoke
screen, show hearings that barely rose above the seriousness of a Gilbert and
Sullivan farce — though they did result in proposed new domestic banking laws
that, if passed, will effectively make banks another federal police force
responsible for reporting to the U.S. government the most minute financial
transactions of U.S. citizens.

Double Effect

  In this regard, it is instructive to quote Williamson at length:
  “If the FBI, [Manhattan District Attorney] Robert Morgenthau, or Congress
were serious about getting to the bottom of the plundering of Russia’s assets
and U.S. taxpayers’ resources, they would show far more professional interest
in exactly what was said and agreed in the private meetings [U.S. Treasury
secretary] Larry Summers, Strobe Talbott, and [former Treasury Secretary]
Robert Rubin conducted with Anatoly Chubais [former Russian finance minister,
who oversaw the distribution and sale of Russian industries], and Sergie
Vasiliev [Yeltsin’s principal legal adviser, and a member of the Chubais
clan], and later Chubais again in June and July of 1998.

  “Instead of allowing Larry Summers to ramble casually in response to
questions at a banking committee hearing, the Treasury secretary should be
asked exactly who suckered him — his Russian friends, his own boss [former
Harvard associate Robert Rubin, his boss at Treasury who was once cochairman
at Goldman Sachs], or private sector counterparts of the Working Committee on
Financial Markets [a White House group whose membership is drawn from the
country’s main financial and market institutions: the Fed, Treasury, SEC, and
the Commodities & Trading Commission]. . . . Or did he just bungle the entire
matter on account of wishful thinking? Or was it gross incompetence?

  “The FBI and Congress ought to be very interested in establishing for
taxpayers the truth of any alleged ‘national security’ issues that justified
allowing the Harvard Institute of International Development to privatize U.S.
bilateral assistance. It too should be their brief to discover the
relationship between the [Swedish wheeler-dealer and crony of Sachs, Anders]
Aslund/Carnegie crowd and Treasury and exactly what influence that
relationship may have had on the awarding of additional grants to Harvard
without competition. On what basis did Team Clinton direct their financial
donor, American International Group’s (AIG) Maurice Greenberg (a man nearly
as ubiquitous as any Russian oligarch in sweetheart public-funding deals), to
Brunswick Brokerage when sniffing out a $300 million OPIC guarantee for a
Russian investment fund. . . . And why did Michel Camdessus [who left the
presidency of the IMF earlier this year] announce his sudden retirement so
soon after Moscow newspapers reported that a $200,000 payment was made to him
from a secret Kremlin bank account? . . .

  “American and Russian citizens can never be allowed to learn what really
happened to the billions lent to Yeltsin’s government; it would expose the
unsavory and self-interested side of our political, financial, and media
elites. . . . Instead, the [House] Banking Committee hearings will use the
smoke screen of policing foreign assistance flows to pass legislation that
will effectively end U.S. citizens’ financial privacy while making them
prisoners of their citizenship. . . . The Banking Committee will use the
opportunity the Russian dirty money scandal presents to reanimate the
domestic ‘Know Your Customer’ program, which charges domestic banks with
monitoring and reporting on the financial transactions in which middle-class
Americans engage. This data is collected and used by various government
agencies, including the IRS; meaning that if a citizen sells the family’s
beat-up station wagon or their ‘starter’ home, the taxman is alerted
immediately that the citizen’s filing should reflect the greater tax
obligation in that year of the sale. . . . Other data on citizens for which
the government has long thirsted will also be collected by government’s
newest police force, the banks. . . .”

  You see, as this book explains, the Clinton’s Russia policy did not just
plunder Russians, leaving them destitute while creating a new and ruthless
class of international capitalist gangsters at U.S. taxpayer expense; it had
the double consequence of bringing all Americans deeper into the bankers’ New
World Order by increasing their debt load, decreasing their privacy, and
restricting their civil rights.
  If only Americans cared.

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An article in the London Review of Books the other day pointed out the first bombs dropped from airplanes was 100 years ago this year: Where? Libya.

Here is a great anti-war video:

Dealers in Death (1935)
37:29 – 4 years ago
This 1935 anti-war documentary tells the story of the companies that became rich selling weapons in World War I. It also looks into the years that lies ahead:

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Does anyone remember Pat Paulson, the comedian, who was a regular guest on the Smothers Brothers’ Show? This is the kind of humor Americans could enjoy in the 1970s. Not so now. This is too funny. Please watch:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=owDUPtBuY78&feature=related

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Sadly, it no longer exists, having been demolished in the middle 1970s, for a variety of reasons, some plausible, others not so.

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