The real targets of the “haircut” are businesses, entrepreneurs and the middle class
News that the Cypriot President’s family moved 21 million euros to London days before the bank accounts of his people were looted as part of the bailout deal serves as another reminder that while the media portrays the victims of the Cyprus “haircut” as the mega rich and wealthy Russian oligarchs, the real victims are middle class families and small business owners.
In addition, as Reuters reports, “While ordinary Cypriots queued at ATM machines to withdraw a few hundred euros as credit card transactions stopped, other depositors used an array of techniques to access their money.”
Branches and subsidiaries of Cypriot banks in London and Russia remained open while banks in Cyprus were closed, allowing Russian oligarchs and other wealthy depositors to move their money.
When asked about the amount of money that had exited Cyprus before the bailout deal, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble refused to provide figures.
On the night of 9-11, after the US Embassy in Cairo was stormed, and after hearing that the US Consulate in Benghazi was under attack, Barack Obama did nothing.
After being briefed by his top security advisers at a pre-planned meeting in the White House around 5:30 PM EST, he never picked up the phone again to see how things were going. And four innocent Americans including the US ambassador to Libya, were slaughtered.
This email was sent to State Department officials, White House officials, Secret Service officials at 6:07 PM EST on 9-11, from Benghazi officials the night of the terrorist attack.
The email clearly blamed Al-Qaeda linked group Ansar al-Sharia for the attack on the US consulate.
This was before the lifeless body of Ambassador Stevens was dragged from the consulate ruins.
This was at least the third email sent to the White House on 9-11 from Benghazi.
What I’m thinking about at the moment is not jailed pop singers, murdered journalists, or poisoned former KGB agents. There are plenty of those. No, I’m thinking about Russia’s most helpless citizens (subjects?), the babies who might have been adopted by American families eager for children. In the bad old days of the Soviet Union, you could be shot for trying to escape. In the bad new days, Putin signs a bill banning U.S. citizens from adopting Russian children. “Russian officials,” The Wall Street Journal reports, “portrayed the latest legislation as a tit-for-tat retaliation against a new U.S. law that seeks to punish Russians accused of human-rights violations.” Right. Leave aside the question of whether the U.S. law in question makes political sense. The outrage here is that Putin responds by punishing his own citizens, denying them freedom and a chance for a better life in America. “Critics allege that the law makes political pawns out of Russian orphans,” the WSJ writes, noting that their “living conditions can be dire and prospects for adoption often slim.” That about sums it up.
Nor are Russian babies the only pawns in this game. The legislation that Putin signed today also bans U.S. charities from operating in Russia, thus depriving Russians of the sustenance those many charities offer.
British prosecutors have charged Andrei Lugovoi, a career Russian security officer who met Mr. Litvinenko at the hotel that day, with the murder and asked for his extradition. The Russian government has declined to extradite Mr. Lugovoi.
A spokeswoman for Mr. Lugovoi said he won’t be commenting until after more hearings take place in London. Mr. Lugovoi was elected to the Russian Duma in 2007.
I estimate the odds of Putin agreeing to extradite Lugovoi at close to zero.
If you were wondering how Hugo Chávez has been putting to use the billions of dollars Russia’s been lending him, wonder no more:
He was on TV bragging that the gun factory’s now working at full capacity, producing a rifle named Catatumbo, and a “grenade, unique in the world,” for the AK-103 automatic weapon, “produced with the help of the Russian government,”
Here’s the Catatumbo, and the cartridge for the AK-103, made with Russian cooperation; the bullet-proof vests are a joint enterprise with China, according to the video,
The following video was produced by the Maracay Services and Production Unit of the Venezuelan Military Industries Corporation (Unidad de Producción y Servicios Maracay de la Compañía Anónima Venezolana e Industrias Militares – Cavim):
President Hugo Chavez said Wednesday that Venezuela has begun to assemble Kalashnikov assault rifles with assistance from Russia and started producing surveillance drones.
Venezuela has spent billions of dollars for Russian arms and military aircraft since 2005, including 24 Sukhoi fighter jets, dozens of attack helicopters and 100,000 Kalashnikov assault rifles.
“We are a free and independent country,” Chavez said.
Army Gen. Julio Cesar Morales Prieto, president of Venezuela’s state-run arms producer, said 3,000 AK-103 assault rifles have been assembled since Venezuela and Russia signed the 2005 agreement for the construction of a Kalashnikov assembly factory.
The factory has begun production, but construction of the facility has not yet been completed, Morales Prieto said.
The factory eventually will have the capacity to produce 25,000 rifles annually.
Chavez, a former paratroop commander, said that Venezuela has also started making grenades, ammunition and surveillance drones for its military. Three drones has been built so far, he said.
“We do not have any intentions of attacking anybody,” he said. “These projects are for defense, for peace.”
En noviembre de 2011, la Fuerza Aérea Venezolana mostró uno de los ejemplares adquiridos, un pequeño modelo bautizado como ANT-1X, e indicó que también se contaba con otro modelo no especificado. Se trata del Sant Arpía, nombre local para el «Mohajer» iraní, que Teherán también ha vendido a Hizbolá. Su uso es de vigilancia, aunque también puede guiar armamento hacia objetivos mediante láser.
(Rough translation – if you use it, please link to this post and credit me) On November 2011, the Venezuelan Air Force showed one of the purchased items, a small model named ANT-1X, and stated that it had another unspecified model. It’s a Sant Arpía, the local name for the Iranian “Mohajer”, that Teheran also sold to Hezbollah. Used for surveillance, it can also deliver laser-guided weapons.
UN sanctions clearly ban “all of Iran’s arms exports”; yet here we have it, right in our hemisphere.
Time to worry?
Upon a second review of the Noticias 24 article, I realized I left out the following information:
The calibers of the Venezuelan rifles produced are 7.62x39mm, with a range of 400 meters,
7.62x51mm, range of 800 meters,
7,62x64mm, range unspecified, but “better than a Dragonov”
They’re also planning an anti-vehicle weapon.
The cartridges for the AK-103 are “95% polymer”.
Chavez also specified his intention to sell all these “to other Latin American countries.”
Cash-strapped Cuba’s long quest for black gold took another twist on Tuesday with the announcement that a Malaysian firm and Venezuela’s PDVSA will use an advanced oil platform vacated by Spain’s Repsol.
Repsol had been doing exploratory drilling since February offshore not far from Havana, but on May 22 said it had not found oil with the Scarabeo-9, a state-of-the-art US$500,000-a-day platform.
“The Scarabeo-9 platform used in exploratory drilling in the field Jaguey-1X has been moved to the Catoche-1X well area,” said a statement from state oil firm Cupet read out on an official news broadcast.
The new well, “where drilling started May 24,” is operated by a Malaysian firm that is a subsidiary of Petronas “on a risk contract with Cupet in which Russia’s Gastrionet also is taking part.”
Once drilling is complete on the current well, Scarabeo-9 will be moved to an area called Cabo de San Antonio 1X, run by Petroleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA), the Cupet statement added, without giving dates.
It’s not clear if Repsol got reimbursed for its state-of-the-art platform, since the article doesn’t mention that any money actually changed hands, but
Cuba’s economic zone in the Gulf is divided into 59 blocs. They include ventures with Repsol (Spain), Hydro (Norway), OVL (India), PDVSA (Venezuela), Petrovietnam, Petronas (Malaysia) and Sonangol (Angola). China and Venezuela have said they intend to help Cuba triple its refining capacity by 2017.
Martin Arostegui, reporting for the Miami Herald, writes on Latin America’s school for dictators in Bolivia where the Iranians, Cuban, Russians, and Hezbollah meet the leftist governments of Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua and now, possibly, Argentina (emphasis added)
A year ago this month, Bolivian President Evo Morales inaugurated the College for Defense of the Bolivarian Alternative of the Americas (ALBA) with a speech in which he called for the expulsion of U.S. intelligence agencies, a new military doctrine based on “asymmetrical war” against “imperialism” and the “abolition” of the U.N. Security Council. He also attacked the press, calling CNN a “tool of capitalism”,
Morales spoke in the presence of Iran’s defense minister, Gen Ahmed Vahidi, who had to be rushed from the ceremony when it was learned that Argentine prosecutors were issuing an international arrest warrant over his alleged role in the 1994 Hezbollah bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires that killed 85 people.
ALBA is a Venezuelan-led association of anti-U.S. governments which also includes Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua and some Caribbean island states dependent on Venezuelan oil subsidies. The fledgling alliance has been given little importance by U.S. intelligence analysts, who tend to dismiss it as a purely ideological entity.
Its 5,000-square-meter military facility outside the city of Santa Cruz, built at the cost of $2 million, remains empty, according to Bolivian defense spokesmen who say that they are awaiting “input” from other member states. One Bolivian army officer ventures to say that it is on “standby,” pending the elections in Venezuela.
Despite ALBA’s vacant real estate, it is becoming increasingly clear that member governments are in the process of forming a military and intelligence network aided and influenced by Iran that could leverage events in the hemisphere, in the absence of effective U.S. leadership.
Thousands of Cuban security advisors have played a critical role in consolidating the regime of Hugo Chávez in Venezuela and have similarly assisted leftist governments in Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua and now, possibly, Argentina.
A Pentagon report released in 2010 also warned about the growing presence of Iranian elite Revolutionary Guard Al Qods officers in Latin America. Small Iranian advisory teams are operating with the security services of Venezuela and other ALBA nations, according to U.S. State Department officials speaking off the record.
Bolivia’s ex-defense minister, Maria Chacón, has said that the ALBA school seeks to form leadership cadres for civilian militias. The strategy of “people in arms” has long been promoted by Fidel Castro and Chávez for the ostensible purpose of resisting a U.S. invasion.
But a more immediate role for politically directed paramilitary organizations like Venezuela’s growing Bolivarian Militia may be keeping hard-line factions in power should internal struggles result from an opposition election victory or Chávez’s much anticipated death from cancer.
A Venezuelan official blacklisted by the U.S. government as a member of Hezbollah, Ghazi Nasr Al Din, directed Circulos Bolivarianos teams that disrupted opposition rallies, in many cases shooting government opponents, prior to assuming diplomatic postings in Lebanon and Syria.
The interface between ALBA and its Middle Eastern allies is such that Cuba has used its Russian-built electronic listening station to jam satellite broadcasts by U.S.-based Iranian opposition radio stations.
President Obama: On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this, this can be solved but it’s important for him to give me space.
President Medvedev: Yeah, I understand. I understand your message about space. Space for you…
President Obama: This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility.
President Medvedev: I understand. I will transmit this information to Vladimir.
This, to quote our Vice President, is “a big f*****g deal.” What solution does Obama envision that would pay off for Putin so much that the Russians would agree to the “space” necessary by keeping quiet about US plans for its deployment? The only possible answer would be the dismantling of even the smaller missile-defense system to which Obama committed in 2009. And it looks as though Obama has already tipped his hand to the Russians — against whom this particular defense system would be mainly ineffective anyway — in exchange for political assistance to influence the election.
In asking Mr. Medvedev to tell Mr. Putin to “give me space” until he can be more flexible next year if he gets re-elected this November, Mr. Obama was clearly telegraphing the willingness to give Mr. Putin at least part of what he wants on missile defense. This President has already given too much. In the New START strategic nuclear arms control treaty with Russia, President Obama agreed that U.S. missile defense capabilities must be reduced along with strategic nuclear weapons — essentially laying down America’s arms and its shield, as well.
Now it appears that President Obama wishes to go even a step farther in order to appease Mr. Putin. Where that step leads, we truly don’t know. All we can see is the direction the President is already headed.
The exchange with Mr. Medvedev, lastly, only deepens and validates two already extant and related narratives about our President: one is that he harbors views that are inimical to the American people and only come out in unguarded moments. An example of that is when he said in San Francisco four years ago that Americans cling to their religion and guns bitterly when they’re afraid of the future. The other narrative is that the President will be unshackled once (and if) he is re-elected, and will put in place a plan far more radical than he is letting on in public at the moment.
If concessions to Russia on missile defense are what Mr. Obama wants, he can make his case to the American people and ask them to endorse his policies. To hide them until it is too late and he is safely ensconced in office is unseemly.
While Hugo Chávez is in Cuba “for medical tests”, his former doctor says he only has 2 years left to live due to an aggressive sarcoma of the pelvis. He also stated that Hugo has been under long-term treatment for manic depression.