Friday, October 26, 2012

Is Stephen Colbert A Teabagger?

I'm out of town until Monday so this will be brief.  Everyone by now has heard about Donald Trump's "big" revelation on Wednesday.  Stephen Colbert has an equally "big" propostion for Trump.  This is absolutely hilarious:  LINK

This week I'm looking for the Broncos to cover the 7 pt. point spread against the New Orleans Saints in Mile High Stadium on Sunday night. I also think the latest price correction in gold and silver has run its course.  One caveat is that I would like to see more liquidation in the silver open interest on the Comex, but that's the only indicator that is still in "red flag" territory.  Everything else is "green light."

Have a great weekend.


  1. A modern day feudal system for real estate

    So now you have to compete with Wall Street that receives favorable treatment from the government and Fed just to purchase an entry level home. This is becoming a closed loop system. The same financiers that made billions upon billions of dollars shelling out fraudulent loans and toxic waste are now gaining favorable treatment in locking up blocks of properties to jack up prices. The California median price is up 12.9 percent year over year while incomes remain stagnant. In Phoenix it is up a stunning 30 percent. Las Vegas? Up 18 percent year over year. These gains are on par with the peak years of the bubble. This mania is being caused by stringent control on distressed inventory and absurdly low rates courtesy of a Fed with a nearly $3 trillion balance sheet that is set to grow with QE3.

  2. Auditor gave Banksia accounts a tick

    Auditors gave Banksia Securities a clean bill of health less than four weeks before its collapse last night, its latest accounts show.

    The non-bank lender's fall into receivers' hands has left thousands of investors in limbo over the fate of about $660 million in investments.

    On September 27, accountants signed off on accounts that found "no significant changes in the state of affairs" during the year.

    Further, "no matters or circumstances have arisen since the end of the financial year which significantly affected or may significantly affect the operations of the company," the report said. The sign-off on the company's 2012 full-year accounts by the chartered accountants Richmond Sinnott & Delahunty in Bendigo came less than a month before receivers McGrathNicol were called in.

    "My wife has her life savings in Banksia [and] also her 85-year-old mum and my 83-year-old mum around $100,000," wrote a reader called Graeme. "I know there will be others worse off than us."

    Read more:

  3. Social Classes in 1984
    The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism
    by Emmanuel Goldstein (George Orwell)

    "...if leisure and security were enjoyed by all alike, the great mass of human beings who are normally stupefied by poverty would learn to think for themselves, become politically conscious and so depose the ruling oligarchy; therefore, in the long run, a hierarchical society is only possible on a basis of poverty and ignorance.

    Point Zero of Systemic Collapse
    By Chris Hedges

    "...We stand on the cusp of one of the bleakest periods in human history when the bright lights of a civilization blink out and we will descend for decades, if not centuries, into barbarity.

    The elites have successfully convinced us that we no longer have the capacity to understand the revealed truths presented before us or to fight back against the chaos caused by economic and environmental catastrophe. As long as the mass of bewildered and frightened people, fed images that permit them to perpetually hallucinate, exist in this state of barbarism, they may periodically strike out with a blind fury against increased state repression, widespread poverty and food shortages.

    But they will lack the ability and self-confidence to challenge in big and small ways the structures of control. The fantasy of widespread popular revolts and mass movements breaking the hegemony of the corporate state is just that – a fantasy."

    1. 1984 has to be one of the bleakest, most depressing books I've ever read, and I've read it nine times, but it has also proven itself the most enlightening in helping me make some sense of the dystopian world around me (although Brave New World by Huxley is not without merit, either). 1984, a how-to manual for sociopathic and predatory governments everywhere.

  4. Major Banks, Governmental Officials and Their Comrade Capitalists Targets of Spire Law Group, LLP's Racketeering and Money Laundering Lawsuit Seeking Return of $43 Trillion to the United States Treasury

    In connection with the federal lawsuit now impending in the United States District Court in Brooklyn, New York (Case No. 12-cv-04269-JBW-RML) - involving, among other things, a request that the District Court enjoin all mortgage foreclosures by the Banksters nationwide, unless and until the entire $43 trillion is repaid to a court-appointed receiver - Plaintiffs now establish the location of the $43 trillion ($43,000,000,000,000.00) of laundered money in a racketeering enterprise participated in by the following individuals (without limitation): Attorney General Holder acting in his individual capacity, Assistant Attorney General Tony West, the brother in law of Defendant California Attorney General Kamala Harris (both acting in their individual capacities), Jon Corzine (former New Jersey Governor), Robert Rubin (former Treasury Secretary and Bankster), Timothy Geitner, Treasury Secretary (acting in his individual capacity), Vikram Pandit (recently resigned and disgraced Chairman of the Board of Citigroup), Valerie Jarrett (a Senior White House Advisor), Anita Dunn (a former "communications director" for the Obama Administration), Robert Bauer (husband of Anita Dunn and Chief Legal Counsel for the Obama Re-election Campaign), as well as the "Banksters" themselves, and their affiliates and conduits. The lawsuit alleges serial violations of the United States Patriot Act, the Policy of Embargo Against Iran and Countries Hostile to the Foreign Policy of the United States, and the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (commonly known as the RICO statute) and other State and Federal laws.

    In the District Court lawsuit, Spire Law Group, LLP -- on behalf of home owner across the Country and New York taxpayers, as well as under other taxpayer recompense laws -- has expanded its mass tort action into federal court in Brooklyn, New York, seeking to halt all foreclosures nationwide pending the return of the $43 trillion ($43,000,000,000.00) by the "Banksters" and their co-conspirators, seeking an audit of the Fed and audits of all the "bailout programs" by an independent receiver such as Neil Barofsky, former Inspector General of the TARP program who has stated that none of the TARP money and other "bailout money" advanced from the Treasury has ever been repaid despite protestations to the contrary by the Defendants as well as similar protestations by President Obama and the Obama Administration both publicly on national television and more privately to the United States Congress. Because the Obama Administration has failed to pursue any of the "Banksters" criminally, and indeed is actively borrowing monies for Mr. Obama's campaign from these same "Banksters" to finance its political aspirations, the national group of plaintiff home owners has been forced to now expand its lawsuit to include racketeering, money laundering and intentional violations of the Iranian Nations Sanctions and Embargo Act by the national banks included among the "Bankster" Defendants.

    The case further alleges that through these obscure foreign companies, Bank of America, J.P. Morgan, Wells Fargo Bank, Citibank, Citigroup, One West Bank, and numerous other federally chartered banks stole trillions of dollars of home owners' and taxpayers' money during the last decade and then laundered it through offshore companies.

  5. Neil Barofsky on the Need to Tackle Banking Reform

    October 26, 2012
    Between President Obama’s ineffectual proposals and Mitt Romney’s loving embrace, bankers have little to fear from either administration, and that leaves the rest of America on perilously thin economic ice. Neil Barofsky, who held the thankless job of special inspector general in charge of policing TARP, the bailout’s Troubled Asset Relief Program, joins Bill to discuss the critical yet unmet need to tackle banking reform and avoid another financial meltdown.

  6. Max Keiser interviews Nicole Foss about global debe deflation

  7. Dave, you may want to find a different cartoon caricture, that Bronco fan looks an awful lot like Joe Pa grabbing his crotch. That being said I like the Broncos as well in a high scoring shoot out but not sure about them covering though. Liking my G-men as well this week

    1. LOL. It does look a bit like JoPa. "Jesse" was the orginal photo-shopper of that pic back in like 2006. I prefer to think it looks more like what Hunter S. Thompson would have looked liked if he survived into his '80's...

      G-Men seem to be the team to beat right now. Something's wrong with this game though, because on paper the Giants should be giving more than 1 pt even though it's on the road. Be a good one to watch.

  8. Charles Ferguson: Standing Behind Every Great Con Artist is Someone Like Glenn Hubbard

    I interviewed Hubbard for my documentary film Inside Job, and analyzed his record again for my book Predator Nation. The film interview became famous because Hubbard blew his cool after I interrogated him about his conflicts of interest: "This isn't a deposition, sir. I was polite enough to give you time, foolishly I now see, but you have three more minutes. Give it your best shot." But the really important thing about Hubbard isn't his personality; it's that as an economist and an advisor, he is a total, unmitigated disaster.
    First, Hubbard has an abysmal track record in economic policy, including the very issues that Romney has made the pillar of his presidential campaign. Second, like Romney, Hubbard refuses to disclose critical information about his income, conflicts of interest, and paid advocacy activities. Third, both in public statements and in my personal experience, Hubbard has been evasive, misleading, and even dishonest when discussing both policy issues and his own conflicts of interest. And last but not least, those conflicts of interest are huge: Hubbard has long advocated policies that Wall Street loves, often without disclosing that he is, in fact, highly paid by Wall Street.
    But we're not done yet. There is a more that Hubbard still hasn't disclosed, and refused to disclose to us when we were making Inside Job. On his CV, Hubbard lists The Analysis Group as a consulting client. That is misleading at best. The Analysis Group is one of a half dozen major firms that specializes in matching private companies and lobbying groups, who are the real clients, with professors who they pay to support their positions in regulatory, policy, Congressional, and legal disputes. It was The Analysis Group, for example, that arranged for Hubbard to testify on behalf of two Bear Stearns hedge fund managers who were prosecuted for securities fraud in 2009. Hubbard was paid $100,000 for his testimony.
    Hubbard has been affiliated with the Analysis Group for many years, but when we asked him, he refused to disclose who he had worked for or what he had done. He also refused to provide us with a copy of the Federal financial disclosure form he was required to submit in 2001; we couldn't obtain it from the White House, because they had already destroyed (yes, that is interesting, isn't it?). Nor has Hubbard provided his total consulting income, his tax returns, or a comprehensive list of his income sources and clients for the period since he left the White House in 2003.

  9. Financial Earthquakes (E359)

    They also In the second half of the show, Max Keiser talks to tax expert, Lee Sheppard, about High Frequency Trading, a Financial Transaction Tax and siphoning gasoline from a neighbor’s gas tank and claiming to be a market maker.

  10. Coincidence? CNBC Exec’s Children Murdered, One Day After CNBC Reports $43 Trillion Bankster Lawsuit

  11. Inequality Is The Child Of Fiat Money

    But let it be clear that there are serious issues of economic inequality that deserve a hearing in our politics today. We are not likely to have them aired by an opportunistic presidential campaign, the Occupy Wall Street movement, or those academics who have made a career of dilating on the “top 1%.” Rather, we should turn our attention to that be-all and end-all of the contemporary economy—the fiat money system so beloved by the Federal Reserve.
    One of the most shocking statistics of recent economic history is the change, since the 1960s, in the share of the economy taken up by the financial sector. That share has at least doubled, from 4% to probably about 10% today. People wonder what happened to manufacturing (and its generally high wages) in this country. One of the answers is alluded to in the subtitle of Judith Stein’s 2010 book, “How America traded factories for finance in the 1970s.”

    The big switch to the foundation of the American financial structure at the advent of this period was the U.S. decision in 1971 to go off the gold standard. Before that time, it was basically clear that outside of wartime (when gold-standard conventions were often suspended), you could basically count on the dollar holding its value against major things like the consumer price level, foreign currencies, and commodities such as gold itself.

    This is where the financial services industry began its long march upward in the share of U.S. economic output it gobbled up. People who had significant money—the rich—threw their money into the products offered by the financial sector, in that the worst thing to happen to a fortune diligently built up over the years would be to see it frittered away on account of currency depreciation.

    As in medicine, the place to address things is at the cause, the root. In this case, the fiat money system. If the next presidency is to show true seriousness on reducing inequality as it has developed in recent generations in this country, a formal reform of the monetary system in the direction of permanent dollar stability will be required.

  12. Why Does the SEC Protect Banks’ Dirty Secrets?

    Bowen was the chief underwriter in the business unit that bought some $50 billion annually in home mortgages from third parties that were then bundled up and sold as securities to investors the world over. On Nov. 3 he sent an “urgent” e-mail to executives including Robert Rubin, the former U.S. Treasury secretary who was then chairman of the bank’s executive committee, and Gary Crittenden, the chief financial officer, raising concerns about “breakdowns in internal controls and resulting significant but possibly unrecognized financial losses existing within our organization.”

    Almost Nothing

    You know where this is going. The Citigroup executives did next to nothing. Rubin, who left the company in January 2009, told the federal Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission on April 8, 2010, that “either I or somebody else sent it to the appropriate people, and I do know factually that that was acted on promptly and actions taken in response to it.” Commission Chairman Phil Angelides asked Rubin to follow up with his commission and explain precisely what actions Citigroup took in response to Bowen’s e-mail. A few months later, Rubin’s attorneys sent a letter stating that the “e-mail was subsequently passed on to the appropriate personnel at Citigroup” and that “Citigroup should be able to provide a description of its response to Mr. Bowen’s concerns.” A Nixonian response if ever there was one.

    By the time of Rubin’s FCIC testimony, of course, Citigroup had been bailed out with $45 billion in cash from the American people, along with another $306 billion in guarantees from the federal government for a pot of the very same toxic home mortgages that Bowen had warned about. Rubin pocketed $126 million in his 10 or so years at the company. Bowen, who was stripped of his responsibilities at Citigroup soon after writing the infamous e-mail, left the company two weeks after Rubin. He now teaches accounting at the University of Texas at Dallas

  13. Koch Brothers and the Road to "Citizens United"

    Greg Palast: When billionaires break the law, they get the law changed

  14. John Embry, Chief Investment Strategist, Sprott Asset Management

  15. Then finally we examine the fallout from the New York Times investigation of the wealth accrued by the family of China’s out-going leader Wen Jiabao. China expert Perry Link joins us. He has been following the behind-the-scenes succession struggle going on within the Chinese Communist Party Politburo that indicates the normally bland leadership transition is deadlocked in intra-party wrangling over power, privilege and profit.

    1. More officials probed for graft

      National system put in place to fight corruption

      The number of officials investigated for corruption and dereliction of duty has risen this year, a prosecutor said.

      From January to August, prosecutors across the country had investigated 12.7 percent more officials, for crimes related to their office, from a year ago, according to the Supreme People's Procuratorate.

      Of these, 75.9 percent were accused of corruption and taking bribes. The remainder were under investigation for dereliction of duty.

      The worst-hit sectors included engineering, construction, rail and transportation, finance and real estate, said Song Hansong, a director of the Supreme People's Procuratorate's corruption prevention department.

      "Powers are centralized and capital flow is intense in these sectors," he said.

      Song said prosecutors had also found an increase in corrupt officials fleeing abroad after transferring their assets to other countries. He did not give details.

      Officials who consider fleeing usually take a number of similar steps, Song said.

      The first step involves sending family members to immigrate, open a business or study. They then transfer their property by money laundering, underground banks or illegal investment and wait for an opportunity to go themselves.

      Song said that crimes involving bribery are becoming increasingly well concealed behind layers of what might appear, at first glance, as legitimate transactions.

      "Bribes are offered in various ways, such as consultant fees, investment, shares, dividends, or sponsoring children studying abroad," he said.

      Song also said that those receiving the bribes are seeking not just quick money but a life-changing amount.

  16. McMahon's WWE has taken $36.7 million in Connecticut subsidies

    Nor is WWE alone in its sale of Connecticut tax credits. According to a 2010 article at the CT Post, "of the 80 productions that received credits, only nine applied them to state taxes." The rest, presumably, sold their credits via brokers. The article also states that the national tax credit market had reached $500 million annually in 2010, from $50 million per year in 2005.

  17. Behind an Estimated $30 Trillion Drain on Banks, a Lot of Hypotheticals

    Imagine a situation in which the world’s banks have to find as much as $30 trillion to comply with just one new regulation. That might be something of a stretch, given that the gross domestic product of the United States is only $15.8 trillion, and the world’s 10 largest banks hold only $25 trillion of assets.

    Yet a banking industry group recently looked into a new rule and sketched out a possibility in which banks were forced to come up with as much as $30 trillion in cash.

    The potential cash call is outlined in a letter the International Swaps and Derivatives Association sent in September to regulators. It is the latest eye-popping number that lobbying firms and banks have produced to support their view that many new regulations will be enormously expensive — and the big, scary numbers seem to be gaining traction.

    Other opponents of initial margin rules have been similarly vague when gauging factors that might reduce the burden. JPMorgan Chase sent a letter last year to regulators criticizing the initial margin rule, saying it might need to collect $1.4 trillion from its trading partners if it did not use the offsetting approach. The letter did say an offsetting approach might “produce smaller initial margin amounts.” Still, it didn’t specify how much smaller.

    The initial-margin rules may prompt some firms to stop doing bilateral derivatives trades. Some financial companies have even started down that path.

    just don't sneeze....

  18. Turk - Central Banks Now Scrambling For Physical Gold

    Gold provides the foundation upon which a country can re-build its monetary system after a currency collapse. With the euro teetering on the edge of a cliff and Bundesbank monetary discipline having been abandoned by the ECB, these may be some of the motivations in Germany now to find out where its gold really is.

    A point I have made many times, Eric, is that we must view gold and central banking in their proper perspective. Gold is not a barbarous relic. The real barbarous relic is central banking when it perpetrates State control of money. This control impedes the market process that is an essential part of any free society. Controlling money is like controlling free speech. If a government controls a country’s money, it controls its people.

    So consider what happened, for example, in the 20th century. Gold was taken from the people by Lenin in Russia, Mussolini in Italy, Hitler in Germany and Roosevelt in the United States. Why did they do it? It was to increase the power of the State by taking money that government can't control – namely gold – out of the hands of the people.

    Governments can't control gold any more than they can control the value of a Picasso painting or any other tangible asset, but of course that doesn’t stop them from trying to manipulate the gold price. But they will fail this time, just like they failed in the 1960s.

    The repatriation of gold out of secretive central banks that have controlled the gold reserves of most countries since WW II back to the countries that own it is, I expect, going to be a major force driving gold higher in the months ahead. The reality is finally being recognized that central banks have less gold in their vaults then people think. This deception is a result of the IMF policy which allows central banks to hide the true weight of gold stored in their vaults.”

  19. How does the US achieve a sustained recovery if “the 99%” continues to suffer perpetual decline in real income?

    Other than some obligatory arrests for disorderly conduct, the Occupy Wall Street movement celebrated its one year anniversary this past September with little fanfare. While the movement seems to have lost momentum, at least temporarily, it did succeed in showcasing the growing sense of unease felt among a large segment of the US population – a group the Occupy movement shrewdly referred to as “the 99%”. The 99% means different things to different people, but to us, the 99% represents the US consumer. It represents the majority of Americans who are neither wealthy nor impoverished and whose spending power makes up approximately 71% of the US economy. It is the purchasing power of this massive, amorphous group that drives the US economy forward. The problem, however, is that four years into a so-called recovery, this group is still being financially squeezed from every possible angle, making it very difficult for them to maintain their standard of living, let alone increase their levels of consumption.

    Figure 2 below is courtesy of Shadow Government Statistics, and shows US Average Weekly Earnings adjusted for inflation using two versions of inflation measurement. It is a sobering chart. The blue line shows inflation-adjusted earnings using government CPI, and shows a small but steady increase in real earnings since the mid-1990s. The green line, however, shows what inflation adjusted earnings would be today had the US Bureau of Labour Statistics not made changes to the CPI in the early 90s, and reveals that average weekly earnings have actually been in contraction for over 17 years. Forget blaming our current woes on the hangover from 2008-2009. The average American worker has been losing income in real terms since the late 1990s. This is clearly a long-term trend which has compounded itself over the last ten years. Weakness begets more weakness.

  20. Turkish Banks Go for Gold to Lure $302 Billion Hoard

    Deniz Kalkan, a 32-year-old housewife in Istanbul, is ready to move her gold.

    “I’ll put these in a deposit account as soon as I get the time,” Kalkan said of the half-dozen gold coins she has collected and stashed in her apartment. “It’s much safer to keep them in the bank than at home.”

    When Kalkan brings in her coins, she’ll be joining a wave of Turks responding to a drive to lure an estimated $302 billion of hidden gold into the economy to help ease the nation’s current-account deficit, the world’s biggest after the U.S. Gold-based deposit accounts surged 15 percent this year through the end of July, three times the increase in standard savings accounts, according to the central bank.

    The gold accounts give customers an amount in Turkish lira equivalent to the weight of the precious metal they turn over to the bank. They can then withdraw cash or take out loans, while the lender is able to sell or hold onto the gold.

    By bringing some of what the World Gold Council estimates are 5,000 metric tons (5,512 tons) of treasure into the banking system -- an amount greater in value than Ireland’s gross domestic product -- Turkey hopes to reduce gold imports and external borrowing, according to Erdal Aral, deputy chief executive officer of Isbank.

    “We have to get the gold that’s out there into the financial system,” Aral said in an interview in Istanbul this month. “This is going to be an important step toward solving our current-account problem.”
    Banks are competing to attract gold with a variety of products. Isbank and Turkiye Garanti Bankasi AS (GARAN), the country’s biggest lender by market value, offer gold-backed loans, where customers can bring jewelry or coins to the bank and take out loans against their value. Garanti also has a credit card linked to gold deposit accounts. The bank said it soon will enable customers to withdraw their savings in gold, instead of Turkish lira or foreign exchange.

  21. RCM launches ETR's backed by Silver bullion

    The Royal Canadian Mint said it will make an initial public offering of C$100 million in silver exchange-traded receipts.

    The Mint will offer exchange-traded receipts, priced at $20 each, which can be redeemed for silver or cash. The Mint said it has entered into an agreement with a syndicate of underwriters pursuant to which the Underwriters have agreed to purchase from the Mint and sell to the public 5,000,000 exchange-traded receipts (“ETRs”) issued under the Mint’s Canadian Silver Reserves Program.

    The offering is expected to close on November 5, 2012 with gross proceeds of C$100,000,000. “The goal is to offer investors an exchanged-traded investment vehicle that tracks the price of silver and makes investing directly in physical silver available to institutional and retail investors,” said the Mint.

    Each exchange traded receipts represent "an equal undivided direct legal and beneficial interest in silver bullion to be held in custody by the Mint. The silver bullion will be legally and beneficially owned by the ETF Holders and not by the Mint."

    The silver ETRs will trade on the TSX and will be redeemable once a month for either cash or silver bullion. Unlike other silver investment products, the purchaser of an ETR owns the actual silver rather than a unit or share in an entity that owns the silver.

  22. The Virtual Recovery

    Americans are far more oppressed by the power brokers in Washington than statistics display. Moreover, the young are born into the oppressive, exploitative American system and do not know any different. They are fed by the Presstitute media with endless propaganda about how fortunate they are and how indispensable their wonderful country is. Americans are kept in a constant state of amusement, and many never grasp the loss of their civil liberties, job and career opportunities, and respect that the US won during the decades-long cold war with Soviet Communism.

    On September 13, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben “Helicopter” Bernanke announced Quantitative Easing 3. Bernanke said that the recovery is weak and needs more Fed stimulus. He said the Fed will purchase $40 billion of mortgage bonds per month in order to drive interest rates further below the rate of inflation and help to sell more houses.

    But how do you sell houses to households who are getting by with 1967-68 levels of real income and who have absolutely no job security? Their company can be taken over and offshored tomorrow or they can be replaced by foreign workers on H-1B visas. Housing prices have dropped, but not to 1967-68 levels.

    Bernanke’s announcement that the Fed’s purchase of mortgage bonds is to spur housing and the economy is disinformation. Bernanke is purchasing the bonds in order to boost the values of the derivatives and debt instruments in the banks’ portfolios. Lower interest rates raise the value of the debt instruments on the banks’ balance sheets. By depriving American savers of a real interest rate on their savings, Bernanke makes the busted banks look solvent.

  23. Michael Olenick: How Fannie Enriches Private Equity Investors at Taxpayer and Homeowner Expense

    By Michael Olenick, creator of NASTIACO, a crowd sourced foreclosure document review system (still in alpha). You can follow him on Twitter at @michael_olenick or read his blog, Seeing Through Data

    Corporate welfare queen Fannie Mae has decided to spread their taxpayer provided love, doling out taxpayer subsidized sweetheart deals to a small number of lucky real-estate investors.

    Let’s examine one of those deals, Fannie Mae’s SFR 2012-1, which includes three groups of properties in Florida.

    Fannie Mae sold 699 Florida properties, appraised at $81.5 million, for $12.3 million cash to San Diego based Pacifica Companies. In exchange, Pacifica must rent the homes, paying Fannie another $78.1 million from rental proceeds, but during that time Pacifica is allowed to keep a 20-percent management fee plus 10-percent of rental proceeds.

    If that doesn’t sound like money for nothing, like the song goes, Fannie sweetened it by adding a trigger allowing Pacifica to keep 50-70 percent of rental proceeds, depending upon performance, after Fannie’s been “paid” (read: collected rent) amounting to $49.3 million.


  24. Vietnamese Musicians Jailed Amid Crackdown on Dissent

    Vietnam jailed two musicians for spreading anti-state propaganda, widening a crackdown on criticism of the government as it grapples with an economy that’s poised to grow at the slowest pace in 13 years.

    The Ho Chi Minh City People’s Court yesterday sentenced Vo Minh Tri to four years in prison and Tran Vu Anh Binh to six years for composing or editing songs critical of the government, said Tran Vu Hai, Tri’s lawyer. The U.S. yesterday called on Vietnam to release Tri, who was cited in a public petition to President Barack Obama seeking to tie an expansion of trade with Vietnam to the release of imprisoned human rights advocates.

    Vietnam has jailed bloggers, journalists and activists it accuses of spreading anti-government propaganda as a fragile banking system, inefficient state-owned firms and corruption weigh on economic growth. Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung signaled this month that Vietnam may struggle to meet a growth target of 5.2 percent this year, the slowest pace since 1999.

    “The jailing of the two musicians suggests the regime is moving to contain anti-government sentiment,” Giulia Zino, senior Asia analyst at Bath, U.K-based risk consultancy Maplecroft Ltd., said in an e-mail yesterday. “This is a strong warning from the government that public dissent will not be tolerated as the party prepares to enact economic reforms to address public and investor discontent with an underperforming economy.”

  25. Happy Halloween

  26. Iran says gold exports now need cbank approval

    DUBAI Oct 31 (Reuters) - Iranians can no longer export gold without approval by the central bank, an official was quoted as saying on Wednesday, in a new effort by the government to restrict outflows of wealth.

    The move follows media reports on Tuesday that Iran had banned the export of some 50 basic goods, as the country moves to secure supplies of essential items in the face of tightening Western sanctions which have destabilised its rial currency.

    "The export of gold and coins without permission from the central bank has been banned," said customs official Mohammad Reza Naderi, according to the Mehr news agency.

    "According to law, (the export of) coins made from precious metals has until now not needed a permit from the central bank, but current economic conditions have resulted in a decision to require a licence from the central bank for the export of these goods."

  27. Taiwanese banks can start yuan transactions

    TAIWANESE banks can start yuan transactions via correspondent banks as long as the island's local authorities approve, Yang Yi, spokesman for the State Council's Taiwan Affairs Office, said today.

    According to the cross-Strait direct currency clearing memorandum, both sides can carry out yuan transactions via clearing banks or correspondent banks, Yang said at a regular press conference.

    Yang said that the currency clearing mechanism under the memorandum needed related technical preparation to ensure the operation of the mechanism.

    "Currently, money management institutes from both sides are making efforts to realize the monetary clearing mechanism," Yang added.

    The mainland and Taiwan signed a direct currency clearing memorandum on August 31, under which the two sides reached an agreement to set up a cross-Strait clearing mechanism.

    The memorandum is an important step for cross-Strait financial cooperation, which will facilitate investment and trade, and strengthen economic cooperation across the Taiwan Strait, Yang said.