Humanitarian catastrophe in Congo despite cease-fire

October 31, 2008

Despite a cease-fire called yesterday between government troops and Congo’s main rebel group, the Red Cross and news reports indicate humanitarian conditions in eastern Congo may still be worsening.

In an editorial in The Guardian, the paper points out that the 17,000-strong UN force in Congo has the mandate to use lethal force if necessary to protect civilian lives, but has patently failed to do this. In a further editorial in The Financial Times, the paper says that Great Britain and the United States together have influence in Central Africa, to prevent Rwanda crossing Congo’s border and to force it to restrain the rebels there.

As negotiations between rebel and government troops continue in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a guest editorial in HIRAM7 REVIEW written by Congolese journalist Fidel Bafilemba Bienda in September 2007 looked at the social, economic, and security impediments to achieving stability and proposes steps the world community can take to help the situation.

Read full story.


UN Watch Letter in The Jerusalem Post: ‘Mandate & the Man’

October 30, 2008

The following UN Watch letter to the editor was published in today’s edition of The Jerusalem Post.

Mandate & the Man

Sir,

The latest condemnation of Israel by Richard Falk, the UN Human Rights Council’s “Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Palestinian territories occupied since 1967,” requires some context (“UN: Israel violated Geneva Conventions,” October 25, 2008).

First, Falk’s UN title is deliberately deceptive. The actual terms of his mandate do not address the overall “situation of human rights” in the area concerned. Rather, the Arab-controlled council decided in 1993 to investigate only “Israel’s violations of the principles and bases of international law.” That means Hamas brutality against Israelis and Palestinians alike is entirely excluded.

Falk’s is the only UN mandate that is inherently one-sided, presumptive of guilt and immune from regular review. What kind of person would accept such a biased mandate?

One with the moral compass to argue, as Falk did in 2002, that suicide bombings were the “only means still available by which to inflict sufficient harm on Israel so that the (Palestinian) struggle could go on.” One with the political judgment to write, in a 1979 New York Times op-ed, that Ayatollah Khomeini’s revolution “may yet provide us with a desperately-needed model of humane governance for a third-world country.” One with the good sense to support – as Falk has done openly and repeatedly – conspiracy theories about the September 11, 2001 attacks.

In March 2008, he told a radio interviewer that there are “a lot of grounds for suspicion” that the attacks were an inside job. In June, he called for an investigation into whether “some sort of controlled explosion from within” destroyed the Twin Towers. Finally, Falk praised “the patience, the fortitude, the courage, and the intelligence” of conspiracy theorist David Ray Griffin, to whose 2006 book, 9/11 and the American Empire: Intellectuals Speak Out, Falk contributed a chapter.

How tragic that in the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the UN’s representative figures have gone from luminaries like René Cassin and Eleanor Roosevelt to loonies like Richard Falk.

HILLEL NEUER
Executive Director, UN Watch
Geneva

Copyright 2008, The Jerusalem Post


Colombia Fires 27 Army Officers

October 30, 2008

The Colombian defense ministry fired twenty-seven army officers, including three generals.

They are accused in the killing of a dozen youths later falsely identified as guerrillas slain in combat, The Miami Herald reports.

The International Herald Tribune reports the killings cast new doubt on Colombia’s war against leftist rebels.


Als die Russen kamen

October 29, 2008

In einem Essay erschienen in der Berliner Zeitung demontiert der Historiker Bert Hoppe die Legende (insbesondere durch den mit Ressentiments beladenen Spielfilm Anonyma – Eine Frau in Berlin kolportiert worden) wonach es eine Systematik hinter den Massenvergewaltigungen durch sowjetische Soldaten nach dem Krieg gab:

“Derartigen Hinweisen waren schon die deutschen militärischen Aufklärungsstellen nachgegangen – und hatten keine Belege dafür finden können. Eine Befragung von 45 gefangenen Rotarmisten durch die Gefangenensammelstelle des Armeeoberkommandos 9 ergab im Februar 1945 vielmehr ein für die Wehrmacht überraschendes Bild: ‘Die Aussagen deuten ohne Ausnahme darauf hin, dass strenge Befehle der Oberen Führung der Roten Armee vorliegen, die Zivilbevölkerung schonend zu behandeln, insbesondere den Besitz nicht geflohener Einwohner nicht anzutasten.’ Die Realität sah anders aus – die These freilich, die sowjetische Führung hätte die Gewalt unterbinden können, hätte sie nur den Willen gehabt, lässt sich nicht halten.”

Zum Artikel.


The Anti-Jewish Phenomenon: A Historical Torah Analysis

October 28, 2008
In Response to Increasing Anti-Semitism
Feldheim Publishers presents

What is the historical significance of hatred towards the Jewish nation? Why have Jews been the target of such great dislike? Can anti-Semitism be explained by logic and reason? In his new book The Anti-Jewish Phenomenon: A Historical Torah Analysis, Rabbi Dr. Benzion Allswang gives clear answers to these and many more perplexing questions.

Using both traditional and non-traditional sources, The Anti-Jewish Phenomenon explores the peculiar recurring history of hostility towards Jews. It emphasizes key factors of the process that most historians and social scientists ignore or overlook.

In his seventeen chapters of careful research and analysis, the author demonstrates the means for combating modern anti-Semitism and shows that clear and optimistic answers do, in fact, exist. Through thorough historical and scientific investigation, he demonstrates that by a return to Jewish tradition, true security, prosperity and the promise of extended peace can, in reality, be achieved.

A crucial instrument for our time, The Anti-Jewish Phenomenon is a classic source every Jew should be familiar with. It is an essential voice for the student of Jewish history, anti-Semitism, and Judaism in general, and promises to be an exciting and unique educational experience.

Click here to order the book.


United States presidential election, 2008: Whoever Wins, the Democrats Will Rule

October 28, 2008

With just one week to go before the U.S. presidential election, politics dominates the news cycle today, but after November 4, major economic and social questions will return on the top of the agenda, and Americans will await the transition to a new administration with interest.

There will still be much work for the new President and the Congress to do in dealing with the financial crisis, as well as wrapping up the budget process for the next fiscal year, and the new administration will confront a broad range of daunting policy challenges.

In an op-ed in The Daily Telegraph, columnist Anne Applebaum wrote on likely Democratic gains in the House and Senate.

“Not only would higher numbers give the Democrats the ability to pass legislation without fear of a Republican filibuster in the Senate, a two-thirds majority in both the House and the Senate would give the Democrats the ability to override a presidential veto if they so wished. Indeed, a technical two-thirds majority isn’t even necessary, as long as there are enough centrist Republicans to throw in to the mix.”

Read full story.


Iceland’s Financial Collapse

October 28, 2008

Iceland raised its benchmark interest rate from 12 percent to 18 percent as the country sought to stave off financial collapse.

The prime minister said another $4 billion in loans would be necessary to stabilize Iceland’s banks. The IMF has already granted Iceland a $2 billion loan, and several of the country’s banks have received money from Russia. The Financial Times reports IMF funding could soon run short, given the needs of many different nations.


United States presidential election, 2008: Hateful Email Sent to Jewish Voters

October 27, 2008

Press Release

New York – October 26, 2008 – The American Jewish Committee (AJC) is deeply troubled by a letter emailed to over 75,000 Jews in Pennsylvania. The letter asserted that voting for John McCain instead of Barack Obama is necessary “to stop a second Holocaust.”

“While partisans in elections will occasionally indulge in over-the-top language, the reference to a ‘second Holocaust’ is beyond the pale,” said Jeffrey Sinensky, AJC general counsel.

The email was signed by three leading Jewish Republicans, and paid for by the “Republican Federal Committee of PA – Victory 2008.” It also stated that to vote for Barack Obama would not only be a “tragic mistake,” but would be a replay of “our ancestors ignor[ing] the warning signs in the 1930s and 1940.”

“Rhetoric like this has no place in politics, ever, and we are particularly disturbed that it was targeted to a Jewish audience,” said Sinensky.

A 501(c) (3) organization, The American Jewish Committee (AJC) neither supports nor opposes any candidate for public office.


Die neue Einsamkeit des Josef Ackermann

October 26, 2008

Die Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung berichtet über die neueste Hetz- und Medienkampagne gegen den eigentlich ganz vernünftigen und erfolgreichen (nicht der Tod, sondern der Neid ist ein Meister aus Deutschland, um den Spruch von Paul Celan aktueller zu machen) Deutsche Bank-Chef Josef Ackermann, der in seiner Wortwahl über Staatskapitalismus sich nur treu geblieben ist.

Vermutlich versuchen Politiker (die in Aufsichtsgremien von Banken sitzen, und von dem Ernst der Lage wussten) und Mitläufer (sprich Bänker) vom eigenen Versagen abzulenken, in dem sie Ackermanns Aussage, die nicht anders als die blanke Wahrheit ist, anprangern, um ihn als Sündenbock für das gereizte Volk zu präsentieren.

“Er ist jetzt wieder ganz allein. Alle dreschen auf ihn ein: härter, grausamer als jemals zuvor. Josef Ackermann, der Schweizer, hat alle Hochs und Tiefs in Deutschland erlebt. Aber so hoch oben wie in den vergangenen Monaten war er noch nie. So tief gefallen wie in der letzten Woche ist er ebenfalls noch nie. Ob er sich davon je wieder erholen wird, ist ziemlich ungewiss.”

Zum Artikel.


Going Global – Anti-Semitism & the Financial Crisis

October 23, 2008

Conspiracy theories linking Jews and Israel to the world financial meltdown are going global as the financial crisis continues to affect international markets. Anti-Jewish invective and conspiracy theories are evident in European and Latin American countries, as well as the Middle East.

According to Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which first reported a spike in anti-Semitic postings on U.S. financial Web sites, “anti-Jewish invective and conspiracy theories are spreading globally” in European and Latin American countries and the Middle East as a result of the global economic crisis.

One widely circulated conspiracy theory suggests that “$400 billion in funds was secretly transferred to Israeli banks” just prior to the collapse of Lehman Brothers and other major investment banks.  Launched on an anti-Semitic Web site sponsored by a Washington, DC-based Holocaust denial publication, the false rumor has ricocheted across the Internet and around the world, appearing on numerous Web sites and comment boards with few questioning its veracity or citing its origins.

“One disturbing side effect to the global economic meltdown is the resurgence of the Big Lie,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director.  “Anti-Jewish invective and conspiracy theories are spreading globally.  While it is still early, we know from experience what can happen when anti-Jewish myths gain a foothold and move from the far fringes into the mainstream.”

Mr. Foxman pointed to similarities between the “$400 billion” conspiracy theory and the myth that spread around the world after 9/11 – that “4,000 Jews” did not report for work the day of the attack on the World Trade Center – which is today believed by many around the world.  “Whenever world events are difficult to explain or understand, Jews are the most convenient scapegoat,” said Mr. Foxman.

“This belief that only Jews could be responsible for something so catastrophic and damaging to the global economy plays directly into some of the worst anti-Semitic stereotypes,” said Mr. Foxman. “The idea that there is Jewish control of the banking system and the world economy has its antecedents in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and Nazi-era propaganda.”

International Response: Europe and Latin America

Anti-Semitic expressions in response to the financial crisis are spreading in European and Latin American countries, with many appearing on Web sites as articles or comments from unidentified individuals who are angry and seeking to place blame for the spreading impact of the crisis.  Some are accompanied by vicious anti-Semitic caricatures and images.

The following is a snapshot of the global anti-Semitic reaction that has emerged as a result of the ongoing financial crisis as compiled by ADL:

United Kingdom: The Web site of the mainstream British newspaper, The Independent, featured in its comments section a post by a visitor identifying himself as “Errol Flynn” that repeated the claim about the alleged $400 billion transfer from Lehman Brothers to Israeli banks.  In response to a second article on the economic crisis, another reader commented, “So the banks used to be Jewish-owned … has anything changed?”  Both posts were eventually removed by the site’s administrators.

Russia: The Web site of Pravda newspaper published an article arguing that French, German and Italian leaders are advocating a bailout of European banks to benefit “Rothschild, Kuhn Loeb, and other banking magnates,” a reference to well-known Jewish banking families. The article continued, “The trouble is most of Europe is sick of their Zionist puppet governments, the wrecking of the universities and the flood of third world immigration. Another Hitler, running a united Europe, could be elected in a heartbeat.”

Germany: Some discussion forums and blogs made casual linkage between the crisis and Jews or repeated anti-Semitic stereotypes of the “money-savvy” and “financially dominating Jew.”  One comment on Ariva.de, an independent provider of financial news, stated: “When it comes to money Jews are always in the say.”

Spain: Op-eds making reference to Jews and the financial crisis appeared in diario El Pais.  While the articles did not directly accuse Jews of causing the crisis, the comments section following the articles contained several anti-Semitic entries.  One writer declared, “The crisis is not a financial problem but an economic one … it is what is behind this gruesome scene of savage capitalism of the Zionist students of Milton Friedman.” Additionally, several financial Web sites featured articles with anti-Jewish themes, including one stating that “Lehman’s management board is made up of Jews who were only interested in results no matter at what price.” (Cincodias.com).

Venezuela: The host of a virulently anti-Semitic radio program claims that the fact that the U.S. Congress recessed for the Jewish High Holidays after voting on the $700 billion bailout proposal was evidence “that the U.S. government is controlled by the Jewish lobby.

***

FURTHER READING:

The Deadliest Lies: The Israel Lobby and The Myth of Jewish Control

The Protocols of the Elders of Zion

Bronner, Stephen Eric. A Rumor About the Jews: Reflections on Antisemitism and the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion (St Martins Press,  2000) 

Cohn, Norman Rufus Colin. Warrant for Genocide; the Myth of the Jewish World-conspiracy and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion (New York: Harper & Row, 1967).

Goldberg, Isaac. The so-called “Protocols of the Elders of Zion”; a Definitive Exposure of One of the Most Malicious Lies in History (Girard, Kansas, Haldeman-Julius Publications, 1936).

Segel, B. W. A Lie and a Libel: the History of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, Richard S. Levy, translator & editor, (Lincoln, NE : University of Nebraska Press, 1995).

United States Congress, Senate Committee on the Judiciary.
Protocols of the Elders of Zion; a fabricated “historic” document; a report prepared by the Subcommittee to Investigate the Administration of the Internal Security Act and Other Internal Security Laws … Washington, U.S. Govt. Print. Off., 1964.

Wolf, Lucien. The Myth of the Jewish Menace in World Affairs; or, The Truth About the Forged Protocols of the Elders of Zion (New York, The Macmillan company, 1921).


The Iceland Syndrome

October 22, 2008

In The Washington Post, Pulitzer-Prize winning author and columnist Anne Applebaum warns that economic instability can lead to political instability.

“If you wanted to destabilize a country, wouldn’t this be an excellent time to do it?

And here’s a final, unpleasant thought: Pakistan. This is a country with 25 percent inflation and a currency in free fall; a country with a jihadist insurgency on its border with Afghanistan, permanent hostility on its border with India, nuclear weapons and a tradition of street demonstrations in response to suspect newspaper articles. Dozens of people, with all kinds of agendas, have an interest in using financial markets to destabilize Pakistan, and Afghanistan along with it. Eventually, one of them will.”

Read full story.


Bosnian Crisis

October 22, 2008

In an op-ed in The Guardian, Richard Holbrooke, the chief architect of the Dayton Peace Agreement and Lord Paddy Ashdown, who served in Bosnia as the EU’s chief representative warn that that country is in real danger of collapse. As in 1995, resolve and transatlantic unity are needed if we are not to sleepwalk into another crisis, they argue.

Read full story.


United States presidential election, 2008: U.S. Leadership Crisis

October 22, 2008

In an article in The Christian Science Monitor, David Gergen and Andy Zelleke of the Harvard Kennedy School quote a survey in which 80 per cent of the American people say they believe there is a leadership crisis in their country.

“This view of American leadership, according to the latest survey conducted by the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard Kennedy School and the Merriman River Group, is up substantially from the already high 65 percent reported when the annual survey began in 2005. And that 80 percent may well understate the degree of dissatisfaction existing today, since the survey was completed as the financial crisis was still unfolding this past September.

The first reaction of some may be to ask what the remaining 20 percent can possibly be thinking, given the pileup of policy failures on the part of our political leaders. Another reaction might be that the perceived ‘leadership crisis’ may simply be a rough proxy for the public’s dissatisfaction with the Bush administration and the current Congress.”

Read full story.


Eine neue Pyramide für Paris

October 18, 2008

Fast 20 Jahren nach dem Bau der Glaspyramide im Innenhof des Pariser Museums Le Louvre, pünktlich fertiggestellt zur Zweihundertjahrfeier der Französischen Revolution, durch den sino-amerikanischen Star-Architekten Ieoh Ming Pei, will nun das Basler Architekturbüro Herzog & de Meuron eine zweite Pyramide namens Tour de Triangle (i.e. dreieckiger Turm) im Süden von Paris bauen, berichtete Die Neue Zürcher Zeitung.

Zum Artikel.


Fed Chairman Bernanke’s Promise

October 14, 2008

In an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, Ben Bernanke, chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve, writes that the tools put in place to combat the financial crisis, together with the underlying power and resilience of the American economy, will help to restore confidence to the financial system and place the economy back on a path to vigorous growth.

“History teaches us that government engagement in times of severe financial crisis often arrives very late, usually at a point at which most financial institutions are insolvent or nearly so. In these conditions, the consequences and costs of inertia and inaction can be staggering. Fortunately, that is not the situation we face today.”

Read full story.


France’s War with Jihadis

October 14, 2008

Author Walid Phares of the think tank Future Terrorism Project in Washington writes on France’s war with the jihadis, and says it is more intense than most Americans or even most Europeans would imagine.

“In a recent interview with Parisian daily Le Figaro, French Interior Minister Michèle Alliot-Marie, provided significant revelations.

During a recent lecture tour of Europe I had the opportunity to meet with French defense and counterterrorism officials as well as with legislators, particularly members of the French National Assembly serving on the Afghanistan’s committee.

According to Alliot-Marie members of a terrorist group in Central Asia have recently been arrested in Mulhouse, in the east of France, where they were apparently undergoing military training.”

Read full story.


Israel’s National Security Challenges

October 13, 2008

The Transatlantic Institute has the pleasure to invite you for a breakfast briefing with: 

Dan Schueftan, Visiting Scholar at The National Security Studies Center, Haifa University, Israel

‘Israel’s National Security Challenges’

Dan Schueftan is a senior Israeli academic and deputy director of the National Security Studies Center at the University of Haifa, where he also serves as a senior lecturer in the School of Political Sciences. He has also taught at the Israel Defense Forces National Security College and the IDF’s Command and Staff College. Dan Schueftan has served as an advisor to Israel’s National Security Council, and to former Prime Ministers Yitzhak Rabin. He is also a senior fellow at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem.

Thursday, 23rd October, 2008

08:00 – 09:30

At the Transatlantic Institute

6 Rue des Quatres Bras – Brussels 1000

To participate, please call +32 (0)2 500 7287 or e-mail: fellow@transatlanticinstitute.org.


Literaturpapst Marcel Reich-Ranicki lehnt (zu Recht) Deutschen Fernsehpreis ab

October 11, 2008

Wer schreibt, provoziert. (Marcel Reich-Ranicki)

Marcel Reich-Ranicki vermasselt Thomas Gottschalks Kasperl-Show zum Deutschen Fernsehpreis

Der brillante Rhetoriker und Literaturkritiker, der für das Literarische Quartett mit dem Ehrenpreis der Stifter geehrt werden sollte, lehnte die Annahme der lächerlichen Auszeichnung ab und prangerte das Niveau des deutschen Fernsehens scharf an.

“Ich nehme diesen Preis nicht an”, erklärte der 88-Jährige heute Abend überraschend vor den geladenen Gästen in Köln.

Er gestand aber ein: “Ich habe nicht gewusst, was mich hier erwartet.” Der 88-Jährige trat grandiös nach: “Ich habe viele Literaturpreise in meinem Leben bekommen. Aber ich gehöre nicht in diese Reihe. Ich finde es schlimm, dass ich das hier heute abend erleben musste…diesen Blödsinn, den wir hier zu sehen bekommen haben.”

Die Aufzeichnung der Preisverleihung bzw. des von GEZ-Geldern finanzierten Schmierentheaters wird morgen um 20.15 Uhr im ZDF ausgestrahlt. Ob Reich-Ranickis lobenswerter und mutiger Eklat gezeigt wird, ist fraglich.

Bravo Marcel Reich-Ranicki! Die Älteren machen es vor…wie man ein abgekartetes Spiel meisterhaft torpediert.


Ralf Dahrendorf zur Finanzkrise

October 11, 2008

Während Europäer allzu schnell die freie Marktwirtschaft begraben und den Staatssozialismus einführen wollen, äußert sich im Gespräch mit Patrick Bahners und Alexander Cammann die Galionsfigur des europäischen Liberalismus Ralf Dahrendorf zur globalen Finanzkrise, und plädiert für eine Erneuerung des Kapitalismus:

“Zur Freiheit gehören die Krisen der Freiheit. Und dass die Freiheit des Marktes Regeln, braucht, habe ich immer vertreten. Der Finanzkapitalismus hatte sich zuletzt verselbständigt: für bestimmte Innovationen, die Spekulation auf Schulden oder Indexentwicklungen, hatte sich ein ungeregelter Handel entwickelt. Das war noch kein Markt – und es war auf Dauer so nicht durchzuhalten. Jetzt werden sich die verbleibenden Banken und Investmenthäuser Regeln suchen. Für diese neuartige Ökonomie wird ein Markt mit Regeln entstehen.”

Vollständiges Gespräch lesen.


Bloody Party on financial markets has just begun

October 10, 2008

The Central Banks have lost control, market panic spreads and several exchanges suspend trading.

Yesterday’s rapid sell-off on Wall Street, which dragged the Dow Jones Industrial Average down more than 7 percent in late trading, kicked off a wave of global selling today that some analysts termed a panic selling.

Japan’s Nikkei index plunged nearly 10 percent, as did London’s FTSE index at market open, before making a slight recovery to losses of around 8 percent. In Asia, markets in Hong Kong, South Korea, India Thailand, Indonesia, Australia were among those that suffered major losses.

Shares also fell sharply across Europe, with Germany and France each showing early losses over 7 percent. Russia, Indonesia, Iceland, Austria, and Thailand all halted trading after steep losses.

The New York Times reports the United States and UK appear to be converging on coordinating global action to end the decline. The article says the idea that governments should inject money into banks in return for partial ownership and guarantees of loan repayment will be closely examined when IMF finance ministers meet tomorrow.

The Wall Street Journal reports the U.S. Treasury has begun a process of interviewing financial executives to gauge interest in new programs aimed at injecting capital into banks.


European economy goes into recession

October 9, 2008

European and Asian markets stabilized today, showing sober gains following unprecedented coordinated interest rate cuts by many of the world’s major central banks. Russian stock markets, which had suffered worse losses than any major market, gained 17 percent.

Meanwhile, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said it projects Europe is headed toward a recession and that the continent’s banking system is currently under “extraordinary financial stress”.

Read full story.


Globalised Economy

October 8, 2008

In the International Herald Tribune, Paul Kennedy, director of International Security Studies at Yale University, and author of the bestseller The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers: Economic Change and Military Conflict from 1500 to 2000, comments on how the consequences of the financial crisis are affecting all parts of an increasingly globalised economy.

“Even the rising Chinese superpower is being blasted by these distant capitalistic convulsions. How could its Finance Ministry, seduced by the advice of Wall Street bankers and consultants to place billions of dollars into American so-called ‘safe havens,’ not be badly shaken by the financial tumults of the past few weeks?

Should China trust the Yankee capitalist system? What will happen to its vital exports to that enormous, volatile consumer market? Already The People’s Daily in Beijing has published a noteworthy piece by the economist Shi Jianxun calling upon the world to create ‘a diversified currency and financial system and (a) fair and just financial order that is not dependent on the United States.’ Where goes the dollar then, and its reputation as a safe haven?”

Read full story.


Coordinated interest rate cuts by central banks worldwide to stop breakdown in financial markets

October 8, 2008

Following a bloody Tuesday on Wall Street, in which the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped more than 500 points, over 5 percent of its value, Middle Eastern markets also collapsed today, with Egypt’s main index falling 16 percent and Saudi Arabia’ s falling over 8 percent.

Japanese markets fell over 9 percent in early trading, and Hong Kong’s main index fell over 8 percent. Markets in UK, France, and Germany all suffered heavy losses as well.

Great Britain also announced a rescue plan the Financial Times says amounts to a part-nationalization of the country’s banks.

In response to the growing crisis, the U.S. Federal Reserve, Bank of England, European Central Bank, and other major central banks all cut interest rates this morning in a coordinated move.

Read full story.


Russia Call to Action On Financial Crisis

October 7, 2008

President Medvedev records his video at the Kremlin. Photo: © ITAR TASS

While the severe global crisis of confidence in financial markets continues to grow, and with a succession of EU countries announcing individual rescue plans, the Wall Street Journal reports on greater call for a coordinated response to the crisis threatening the bloc’s financial system.

Iceland, one of the countries hardest hit due to its highly developed banking sector, says it has arranged for a 4 billion euro bailout package from Russia, though the Financial Times reports Russia thus far has denied reports of the loan.

Russian President Dmitri Medvedev issued a call for coordinated global action to confront credit problems and said he would present a plan for how to tackle the crisis in meetings later this week in France.

Read full story.


Bernard-Henri Lévy und Michel Houellebecq – Selbstdarsteller unter sich

October 6, 2008

In der Neuen Zürcher Zeitung nimmt der in Paris lebende Germanist Jürgen Ritte die inszenierte und medienwirksame Feindschaft zwischen dem pseudo-Intellektuellen Bernard-Henri Lévy (der Philosophie zur narzisstischen Talk-Show-Veranstaltung herunterwirtschaft hat) und dem möchtegern Enfant Terrible der gegenwärtigen französischen Literatur Michel Houellebecq (der sich gern als der neue Vladimir Nabokov profiliert, nur weil er pornografisch schreibt, in Zeiten wo Pornografie Mainstream ist; sehr mutig…) auseinander.

Der gute Général de Gaulle (der u.a. ein grossartiger Schriftsteller war; siehe seine Mémoires) pflegte zu sagen: “On n’emprisonne pas Voltaire” (Voltaire verhaftet man nicht), um Jean-Paul Sartre den Gefallen nicht zu tun, ihn festnehmen zu lassen, als Sartre 1968 zum Sturz der Republik aufrief. Bernard-Henry Lévy und Michel Houellebecq kann man ruhig links liegen lassen. Voltaire sind sie bestimmt nicht. Halt nur Selbstdarsteller unter sich, i.e. Bullshit-Literatur für Ungebildeten bzw. Möchtegern-Gebildeten.

“Sie sind die Gebrandmarkten, die Aussätzigen, die ‘maudits’ unserer Tage. Das, so Houellebecq, verbinde sie, die doch sonst so vieles trenne, miteinander und beiläufig auch, so Lévy, mit einem Charles Baudelaire. Der Dichter der ‘Fleurs du mal’ wird es dort, wo er jetzt sein mag, mit Erstaunen zur Kenntnis nehmen. Lévy und Houellebecq haben starke Verleger im Rücken, verkaufen ihre Bücher zehn- und hunderttausendfach in aller Welt, jede Zeitung steht ihnen offen, in jeder Fernsehsendung sind sie höchst willkommen. Verfemte? [...] Legt man das Buch, dessen Unterhaltungswert kaum höher zu veranschlagen ist als der einer literarischen Talkshow, wieder aus der Hand, fragt man sich, wohl vergeblich, nach dem tieferen Sinn des Unternehmens. Es ist ein Buch aus der Mailbox, eine Art Blogger-Buch, zu Papier geronnenes Gerede. Und möglicherweise macht auch das Schule . . .”

Zum Artikel.


Europe’s Financial Storm

October 6, 2008

Stocks fell sharply in Asia and Europe this morning as fears over breakdown in the European financial system spread out.

The slowdown came as Germany took what the Financial Times calls a “dramatic move” by saying it would guarantee all funds in German bank accounts – currently worth nearly 570 billion euros – to protect against panic withdrawals. The Economist reports a number of European central banks have started taking similar moves and looks at some of the fallout in European financial markets.

In an editorial, the Guardian comments that the financial storm is now on Europe’s doorstep. As this crisis turns from a financial to an economic one, government intervention will surely become more the rule than the exception.

An editorial in The Wall Street Journal says that the only thing more predictable than European Schadenfreude at American economic trouble is how quickly it falls away amid Europe’s own big problems.

In the Sydney Morning Herald, columnist Paul Sheehan comments on a book written five years ago by George Soros, warning about the dangers of excessive debt and asks why nothing was done until the financial system was on the brink of collapse.


China’s Financial System

October 6, 2008

China’s Prime Minister Wen Jiabao said China’s financial system as a whole has proven well buffered to the financial concerns elsewhere in the world.

He says Chinese financial firms have generally increased their strength during the course of the crisis.

The Wall Street Journal looks at how East Asian central bankers, including China’s, have responded to the U.S. bailout plan.

Read full story.


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