Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The Scourge of Hypno-Terrorists

Every so often the MSM publishes a story that leaves you rubbing your eyes at the sheer laughable propaganda value. This time, it's Hypno-Terrorists:
Amid fears that Indonesia's most wanted terrorist will strike again, some police have a new theory: Noordin Top is using hypnotism to elude capture and recruit more suicide bombers.

The senior Jemaah Islamiah operative - blamed for both Bali bombings and a series of other attacks - has time and again escaped the clutches of the law during the past three years.

Just two weeks ago he slipped through a massive dragnet again, even though counter-terror officers did shoot dead Azahari Husin, Noordin's bombmaker partner.

Among the few things left behind by Noordin was a graphic video in which he specifically warned Australia that his band of Islamic extremists would strike again.
Gosh, he sounds like a regular criminal mastermind, doesn't he? We'd better get Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot and CSI on the case pronto! After all, we can never know when this black spectre of terror will strike next - why he could even be under your bed right now!!
In Azahari's hideout police found plans for a "Bom Pesta" - or bomb party - this coming Christmas with several churches and shopping malls earmarked for attack.

As fears rise, reports say some police in notoriously superstitious Indonesia believe Noordin may have the ability to hypnotise people, using his mental powers to escape his pursuers and recruit more bombers.

"A village chief fell unconscious after kissing the hand of a man resembling Noordin," one policeman told the latest edition of Tempo news magazine.
Ah yes.... "Reports say" "some police" in "notoriously superstitious" Indonesia "believe" Noordin "may have" the ability to hypnotise people. If that string of qualifiers doesn't convince you, well obviously you haven't been listening to the government and ASIO enough!
The magazine said the chief's mind went blank "like he was hypnotised" after meeting a "tabib", or traditional healer, who looked like Noordin.
Seriously, do I even need to comment on this one?
One officer said police believed even a skilled religious preacher would have difficulty finding so many followers willing to kill themselves for a cause.

Belief in the supernatural is widespread in Indonesia. Crime is sometimes blamed on tricksters with magical powers and people regularly take their problems to fortune-tellers and witchdoctors, known as dukun.

Against this social background, one policeman told Tempo that JI used "unconventional recruitment techniques" to boost its ranks.
Yes... like HYPNOSIS!!!! OOooooooOOOOOoooooOOOOOOOooooooo.......

All Glory to the Hypno-Toad.. err... Terrorists... err... whatever....
Investigators believe Noordin is an expert at disguise, perhaps using many different ID documents.

Noordin is JI's chief recruiter, Islamic ideologue and strategist, and there are now fears that he and at least 14 recruits are preparing to unleash a new wave of bombings.

Security near and around international style hotels and shopping malls have been boosted after a website last week laid out explicit details on how to shoot and launch grenade attacks against foreigners.
Geez those "websites" sure have a habit of providing accurate intelligence, don't they? Can we add "excellent HTML skills" to "Hypnotic mind control powers" under terroristic resumes now? These guys are evolving into mythological super-villians as the weeks pass! What next - "Al Qaeda constructing satellite laser pulse weapon out of diamonds" or "Jemaah Islamiah militants excavating buried temple to obtain Ark of Convenant"? Perhaps we'll hear about Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi being bitten by a radioactive spider soon?

Seriously though, articles like this just highlight the mainstream media for what they are - organs of propaganda, delivering only the information required to shape public consciousness in the direction desired by their corporate paymasters.

Read all about it, but for gods' sake don't believe a word of it.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

As the Global Economy Crumbles (Part I)

It seems that the signs are becoming more obvious that the global economy is headed for a serious downturn. One of the key indicators here is sentiment regarding gold. For decades now, gold has been marginalised as an investment strategy and indeed derided as an "ancient relic" that no longer has any real place in the advancing neo-liberal economy of the Brave New World. However, certain groups of commentators that one might circumscribe as the "alternative financial media" have been keeping an observant eye on gold, and have an entirely different opinion.

For instance, there are the friendly folks at the Gold Anti-Trust Action committee, who also have a hand in running gold investment advice website Le Metropole Cafe. James Turk, founder of GoldMoney, a kind of "Paypal with Gold", also provides some interesting gold commentary. In Australia, Bill Buckler of The Privateer is also a notable gold advocate, providing excellent weekly market commentary.

So what is the general opinion of the alternative financial media on gold? To put it in a nutshell, it's that gold is incredibly undervalued, to the tune of possible thousands of US dollars per troy ounce. Why is it so undervalued? Well, that's a very large can of worms right there. It appears that there has been a systemic, global effort on behalf of powerful Central Banks to devalue gold as part of maintaining massive credit expansions in Western economies. You won't hear a peep of this in the mainstream media of course, but it's up to you to research for youself and decide whether this is a viable hypothesis.

What is NOT hypothetical are recent leaps in the gold price in US$. As of the time of writing this entry, gold is sitting at $491 US / $667 AUD. Gold first approached its Dec '04 high of US$456 on Sept 9 when it reached $450. It set new highs of US$477 on October 11. Since early 2002, gold has appreciated in the order of approximately 60%, despite repeated commentary in the mainstream media about gold being consistently overvalued. Although a historical chart over 2005 to date will show that the gold price in $US is quite volatile, the general trend is up, and I believe it will continue going up in fits and starts in the near term, although more non-linear events such as a global economic downturn could cause an exponential increase in demand that will send the price soaring.

Another fact is that the mainstream media can only ignore a huge story for so long, and there are signs that a "gold rush" is becoming the tentative idea du jour of the more daring commentators. For instance, observe this article by Alan Kohler in the Sydney Morning Herald:
Gold's switch in the past few months from being the inverse of the US dollar to going up with it is a sign of some big forces at work in global markets and economies. It may be "Pink sky in the morning" (the shepherd's warning).

In the first half of this year the US dollar went up 12 per cent on the back of an interest-rate arbitrage play as it became clear the Federal Reserve Board in the US would keep raising cash rates until they were "neutral" (probably 4.5 per cent). At the same time gold fell 6 per cent, which was in keeping with its long-term position as an alternative "currency" to the greenback.

By the way, the mysterious appeal of gold, despite paying no yield, is based on its character as an asset that is no one's liability, unlike all other financial assets. Liabilities can default or become devalued; gold is just gold.

Between November 2003 and January 2004, gold rose 10 per cent and the dollar fell 9 per cent; over the following four months those moves were reversed; in the second half of 2004 gold bounced 20 per cent while the dollar fell 12 per cent, and in the first half of 2005 the dollar regained the 12 per cent and gold fell 6 per cent.

Since September gold has risen 9 per cent to an 18-year high as the dollar has risen 7 per cent - which is virtually unprecedented. It has happened because oil revenues are being recycled as much into gold and domestic investments as petrodollars (remember them?), while Asia continues to recycle trade surpluses into US treasury bonds (and thus dollars).

So what's the problem? It's that the US dollar is overvalued and the country's competitiveness has eroded to the point where the cash rate arbitrage will be pitifully inadequate to hold the currency. This has occurred because Asian central banks, led by China, have been buying US bonds at ridiculously low interest rates in order to keep their own currencies and improve their own competitive position.

US consumers and businesses have been buying their goods from - and outsourcing their services to - cheap currency countries, which has stopped what would have otherwise been a natural depreciation of the dollar. As a result, the US current account deficit is now pushing $US800 billion ($1086 billion), $US300 billion higher than when, as research house Bridgewater Associates puts it, "private sector capital gave up on the dollar in 2002". It is also the biggest financing task the world has ever known.

Meanwhile, Asian current account surpluses are declining and those of oil-exporting countries are rising. According to the ANZ Bank's Saul Eslake, current account surpluses of the Middle East have quadrupled in two years to more than $US200 billion. Russia's surplus is up to $US120 billion and even Latin America is running a surplus now because of oil from Venezuela. In fact, Australia is about the only commodity exporting nation still running a deficit (because we are bigger consumers).

Total trade surpluses of commodity exporting nations are about $US400 billion. Asian surpluses, meanwhile, have declined from $US370 billion a year to $US300 billion, so the most important financiers of America's consumption addiction are no longer the Asian countries supplying the finished goods and services acting out of self interest - what Eslake calls the greatest vendor financing scheme in history. Commodity exporters, especially oil, are taking over, and they have an entirely different set of motivations.

Morgan Stanley's chief economist, Steve Roach, is in the middle of a spin through Asia and the Middle East, and filed an interesting piece for his website from the Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi. He quotes a friend of his who "shared what I believe is a very important insight on the recycling of the huge surge in oil revenues that has once again flowed into the region's coffers - estimated at around $US300 billion over the past year by many accounts".

"Unlike the oil shocks of the past, which gave rise to the concept of the petrodollar - a recycling of windfall oil revenues into dollar-denominated assets - the current windfall accrues to a Middle East that is much better prepared for inward re-investment.

"Take a look at year-to-date returns in the stockmarkets of the region's major oil producers - Saudi Arabia (+96 per cent), UAE (+179 per cent in Dubai and +85 per cent in Abu Dhabi), Kuwait (+84 per cent), Qatar (+77 per cent), and Bahrain (+32 per cent). Also take a look at the urban construction boom - Dubai is starting to look Singaporean in scale."

And they are investing in the other asset that is no one else's liability - gold. Certainly the Arabs are less inclined to finance American consumers than the Chinese and are more worried, as investors, about the sustainability of the US current account deficit.

The US dollar is rising at present - along with gold - because of a short-term arbitrage on cash rates as the Fed continues to push them towards 4.5 per cent, whence chairman Ben Bernanke is likely to stop and sit on the sidelines for a while. Bond yields have also been rising gradually because global growth is surprising on the upside (not because of inflation expectations, which are not rising).

This situation cannot last. American financial assets will have to be repriced eventually, either directly or through a depreciation of the currency, or both.

And while there is little doubt that we are in the midst of a "Santa Claus rally" on Wall Street or that Australian stocks are generally not expensive, the timing and force of the American reckoning will be the key to investment markets in 2006.
This article draws some interesting connections between gold and the coming collapse of the US economy, and adds weight to certain rumours in the alternative financial media of subtle, calculated gold accumulation by not ONLY Arab nations, but also China. Then, we also have the following interesting comments by Russia's President Vladamir Putin:
I support the proposal that the Central Bank pay greater attention to precious metals in forming our gold and foreign exchange reserves," Putin said, Interfax reported. Putin was speaking during a stopover in Magadan, the capital of Russia's gold mining industry, after a visit to Japan and South Korea.

Last week, the Central Bank said it was planning to raise the share of gold in its reserves from 5 percent to 10 percent. In reaction to the announcement, world gold prices reached an 18-year high on Monday.
Considering the actions of European Central Banks over recent years and their habits of announcing gold sales, despite the steadily upward pricing trends, this suggests that Russia is possibly attempting to "get ahead of the game" in terms of protecting itself from the worst excesses of any global depression. Also of interest is the German Bundesbank's recent :
FRANKFURT (AFX) - Bundesbank president Axel Weber indicated yesterday that the central bank will not give in to political pressure to sell part of its gold reserves, according to Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

Incoming finance minister Peer Steinbrueck said he hopes to convince the Bundesbank to sell 120 tonnes of gold to finance a 'future fund' that will promote research and education projects.

Steinbrueck said he will seek close contact with the Bundesbank to discuss the possible sale of gold reserves.

But Weber referred to a German law that puts all decision-making on gold reserves in the hands of the Bundesbank.

'I assume that we can agree to respect each other's responsibilities,' Weber said, while adding he welcomes Steinbrueck's interest in the central bank's policies.
Ouch! Reading between the lines, it seems that Mr Steinbrueck is being told to keep his nose out of it, in no uncertain terms. Do these stories hint at a renewed interest in gold reserves by the Central Banks? If so, why?

As mentioned in the SMH article:
By the way, the mysterious appeal of gold, despite paying no yield, is based on its character as an asset that is no one's liability, unlike all other financial assets. Liabilities can default or become devalued; gold is just gold.
Although Mr Kohler might interpret this as a "mysterious appeal", in times when a massive revaluation of US currency could lead to an economic depression, the appeal is not so much "mysterious" as it is based on solid common sense. During the crash of Argentina's economy, people were able to trade gold coins and jewellery for food on so-called "black markets" which were nothing more than people reasserting their right to trade free from government taxing and interference.

As I believe we are entering a critical phase of indicators for the collapse of the global economy, I have decided to make this blog entry first in a series to observe and document some of these indicators. Let's see what happens.

Friday, November 18, 2005

In Defense of the Innocent

A friend recently brought an interesting blog to my attention: .

This looks as though it will be a very interesting blog. The subject matter is not for the fainthearted, but the more people who know about these sick, twisted crimes and the perverts that perpetrate them, the better a chance we'll have at creating a world where this type of exploitation is but a memory of the past.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Secret Stuff

I was recently pointed towards a TV mini-trailer on the site what-is-the-secret.com. According to the presentation, a "Worldwide Television Event" will take place soon which will reveal a great secret to the general public; something which has helped all sorts of powerful businessmen and brilliant scientists leave their mark in history. With such claims being made, I can't help being a little skeptical (when was the last time television had anything really worth watching hmmm?), so I did a bit of searching around.

A quick bit of googling discovered an interesting thread on an Alternative Reality Gaming forum about the subject. Then there was also this thread on conspiracy-oriented forum "Above Top Secret". Apparently, it may be something to do with a man named Charles Haanel who authored a book called "The Master Key System" - a kind of self-help book for the beginning of the 20th century.

So is this just a marketing gimmick of some kind? Most probably. The domain name what-is-the-secret.com appears to be registered to ROCnet Data Designs, who also happen to own the domain powerfulintentions.com, which just so happens to be promoting "The Secret" in their forum. A guy named Bob O'Connor appears to be the web designer behind it, and also has a link to "The Secret" on his page. So what's the deal? As someone on the ARG forum thread put it:
It seems to be just some kind of silly quasi-spiritual self-help community, like the kind all my business student friends think means so much because they're in love with their own language. $10 this has something to do with Jesus or proactive thinking or self-motivation or something else designed to garner high ratings on PAX and launch a USA Today best-seller.
Got to admit, it's certainly looking like that. But worldwide television coverage? That seems to hint at a certain degree of influence (not to mention $$$), even if it's not going into prime-time slots.

Coincidentally, I was also struck by the similarity of the trailer URL name (the_secret_history.mov) to another - a book by named "", which I just happen to be reading at the moment. I'll blog a review once I've finished the whole thing, but it sure is a head-turning book!

Anyway, I digress; the reason this struck me was that in the first part of the book, Mrs Knight-Jadczyk discusses the idea that the government/military-industrial complex has actually spent a lot of time and effort over the last few decades constructing false spiritual organisations, and in fact the whole "New Age" movement owes most of its success to funds secretly channelled from military-industrial and intelligence agencies. Well, rigorous analysis of this hypothesis is beyond the scope of this blog entry, but an interesting has been published on the Cassiopaea website. If you're into reading about that sort of thing, check it out.

So could "The Secret" be something actually inspired by intelligence agencies in a "COINTELPRO"-style operation? Or is it just a bunch of New-Age salespeople pushing same-old "personal empowerment" philosophies? Well, I don't think there's enough data to come to any conclusions just yet, but it will be interesting to see just how this "Worldwide Television Event" materialises.

And yes, I'm aware that by writing this blog entry I've probably completely pandered to their objective of getting "The Secret" viral-marketed. That's irony for ya.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

From Love, comes Hope

Things have been looking pretty grim lately, and I was happy to read on the BBC news website about Palestinian parents who donated their murdered child's organs to Israelis awaiting transplants.
The parents of a Palestinian boy killed by Israeli soldiers in the West Bank have donated his organs for use in Israel, in the hope of promoting peace.

Twelve-year-old Ahmed Ismail Khatib was shot in the town of Jenin by troops who mistook his toy gun for a real one.

His organs were transplanted into five Israeli children and a woman aged 58.[...]

"I have taken this decision because I have a message for the world: that the Palestinian people want peace - for everyone," he told the AFP news agency.

"We have no problem whether it is an Israeli or a Palestinian [who receives his organs] because it will give them life," added the boy's mother, Ablah Khatib.

Ahmed's kidneys, liver, heart and lungs were transplanted into Israelis including Jews, Arabs and a Druze girl, medical officials said. [...]
Mr Khatib has done a very noble thing and shown that even in the midst of such intense hatred and conflict, individual people can choose a different way of being. Perhaps it is only through learning to respond to hate with wisdom and love, will humanity ever stand a chance of maturing spiritually.

Mr Khatib, thank you.

Suspects of Convenience

Well, just how about that? After the recent "surprise" terror threats, a couple of days elapse and then raids take place which would seem to vindicate John Howard completely. From the SMH:
They were detained after security agencies swooped on properties in Sydney and Melbourne early today, charging 16 people with terror offences just a week after federal parliament passed an urgent amendment to Australia's terrorism laws. [...]

Shortly before the Sydney court hearing, Australian Federal Police Commissioner Mick Keelty said details of the charges against all the accused would be suppressed.

"We are not going to release the details of the charges before the court," he said.

"It's important that we give these people a fair opportunity to prepare their defence before the court, rather than run the trial in the media."

The charges could not have been laid without the passage of special anti-terror laws by the federal parliament last week, Mr Keelty said.

"The additional legislation has in fact assisted the joint operation," he said.


[...] Defence solicitor Adam Houda told reporters outside the court there was no evidence that his clients were planning terrorism.

"These young men are presumed innocent and at least the presumption of innocence has not yet been repealed," Mr Houda said.

"There is no evidence in these cases that terrorism was being contemplated by any particular person at any particular time or any particular place."

Mr Houda described the matters as "scandalous political prosecutions".


Magistrate Allan Moore formally refused the seven men bail and remanded them in custody, listing the matter for further hearing in the same court on Friday.
I can understand Mr Houda's concerns, given that Howard says he's not targeting Muslims and then says "perverted, fanatical Islam" is the common thread behind international terrorism. In a torrent of leaks, all sorts of "evidence" has been published, making a mockery of Mr Keelty's statements about "trial by media". I wonder if these same media outlets will print equally prominent retractions of any "evidence" which is later found to be false, or out of context?

Somehow I doubt it.

Independent site crikey.com.au says it quite well in my opinion. It's early days yet. Let's watch and see how things develop.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Low Down Dirty Rat

Today, in one of the most blatant scare campaigns ever, John Howard is attempting to fast-track the Australian terror legislation via a suspiciously-well-timed terrorist attack alert. All the usual excuses are in full swing... "We have specific details which we can't tell you"... "It's just a coincidence that this is happening now", "The government is between a rock and a hard place on this", bla bla bla bullshit bullshit lies lies lies.

Then, just to ensure the public get a full 12-inch reaming (no lube), the government table the new Industrial Relations reform bill on the same day.

Just the kind of psychopathic behaviour one would expect from Howard and his cronies.

And apparently, ASIO are standing by to swoop on a set of designated patsies... err, I mean, "terror cell" once the Senate and Governor-General have signed off. Because we all know, when lives are at stake, one must ensure the appropriate legislation is passed first before acting. ASIO wouldn't want to be sued now, would they?

It makes me want to puke.
The Prime Minister, John Howard, said yesterday he had received new, "specific" intelligence this week from spies and police indicating a "potential terrorist threat".

"The immediate passage of this amendment would strengthen the capacity of the law enforcement agencies to effectively respond to this threat," he said.

The Opposition agreed to the amendment after its leader, Kim Beazley, was briefed on the intelligence. Security agencies believe the new law increases their chances of successfully prosecuting suspects.

Despite the fresh intelligence, the overall terrorist threat level remains at medium. A "high" level indicates that an attack is believed to be imminent. "We might be advised any moment to change that," Mr Howard said.

The amendment to the anti-terrorism laws seems minor, but it has significant implications. Rather than having to prove that a suspect intends to undertake "the" terrorist act, the wording will be changed to "a" terrorist act.

This, the Government believes, means it does not need specific evidence about the timing and location of the planned attack to secure a successful prosecution, just that an attack was planned. The change will also significantly limit the ability of defence lawyers to defend terrorist suspects.


With Labor's support, the amendment will pass through the Senate today. The Governor-General will be on standby to give the royal assent.

ASIO and police will be able to make arrests almost immediately. A senior security source said the legal issues solved by the amendment had been the main barrier to the raids.

The Herald understands that, while the intelligence presented this week is actionable, it does not reveal a location or timing of an attack. It also builds on earlier intelligence.

The NSW and Victorian premiers, Morris Iemma and Steve Bracks, were briefed on the threat on Tuesday night, and offered their support. Other state leaders were also consulted.

Government and security sources downplayed speculation that the intelligence related to the targeting of trains, buses or aircraft, saying it would be wrong for the public to panic.

Mr Howard urged people to remain calm "in the time-honoured and wonderful Australian fashion".
Yeah, that's right you bunch of sheep. Stay calm. Don't get up off the couch, don't leave work, don't do anything. Just stay calm while we completely rape even the vaguest remaining glimmer of democracy in this country - in the time-honoured and wonderful Australian fashion.

And where is our "Federal Opposition"? On the other side of Parliament, claiming the bill "doesn't go far enough". I swear it would be funny if it wasn't so tragically serious.


Time for a new national anthem:
AUSTRALIA DOESN'T CARE

Australians all let us rejoice,
For we are willing slaves.
With blood for oil we give our toil,
Until we're in our graves.

We all voted John Howard back,
Upon election day.
To make our land a satellite,
Of Empire: U S A.

In craven tones then let us sing.
"KNEEL TO... THE U.... S. A."
It might not have the same ring to it, but damned if it isn't a little bit more objective about the current state of democracy in Oz.