Tuesday, May 6, 2008

1977: The Year Decency Died

In English popular musical terms, 1977 began at 6.15pm on 1st December 1976. This was the day of the infamous interview of the Sex Pistols by Bill Grundy on the Thames Television Today programme.

Goaded by a drunken Grundy, within two minutes punk, as a liberal socially complex phenomenon, was reduced to a flurry of four-letter words. So it was that 1977 was set up as the year decency died. Punk would still prove to be violent and political, but it had already been subsumed by the Establishment as bad boy rock. What had been an underground musical development was transformed into a media circus typified by the front page of the Daily Mirror published the next day.

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1977: The Year Decency Died - Part II


Defending the Property of an Anti-Property Marxist Scholar

Guy Debord, the Marxist and French philosopher who died in 1994, may be rolling over in his grave.

A lawyer representing his widow has threatened Alexander R. Galloway, an associate professor of culture and communication at New York University, with legal action. Mr. Galloway said the lawyer sent him a letter demanding that he cease and desist from distributing his online war game, claiming it infringes on the copyright of the Debord estate. The philosopher had created a similar war game.

But copyrights and intellectual property were anathema to Debord, said Mr. Galloway. The Situationist International movement that Debord founded in 1957 is a mix of anarchism and Marxism. Its followers scrawled, "Abolish copyright" on building walls during the May 1968 student uprisings in Paris.

The irony of defending the property rights of Debord, a Marxist, has not been lost on scholars, who have publicized the case on their blogs.

Mr. Galloway does not deny that the two-person computer game he developed is based on Debord's board game, the Game of War. Debord, who was an avid student of war strategy, released a few handcrafted copies of the board game in 1978. The goal of the game, which resembles chess, is to corner and destroy the opponents' pieces. Debord wrote a book about the game, with his wife, that was translated into English last year.

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S. Korea: One Million Netizens Favor Impeachment

 Internet users are stepping up their campaign against President Lee Myung-bak to protest the government's decision to import beef from the United States.

On Daum, a petition has been held to ask the National Assembly to impeach the President, aiming to collect as many as 10 million signatures. The number of people who joined the campaign had almost reached one million late Sunday, and was increasing fast, with about 1,000 signatures added in 10 minutes.

The campaign organizers criticized Lee for reneging on his pledge to adopt policies for the people.

``On top of a series of policy blunders, he is now trying to import American beef with the risk of mad cow disease. Lee has hurt the pride of the country and we cannot approve of such a president,'' the organizers said in a statement.

Brussels turns to gods for climate change

Brussels officials have turned to religious VIPs to help spread the gospel of an environmentally friendly society and increase awareness of climate change in their parishes, as well as promoting tolerance between different confessions in Europe.

Twenty high-level representatives – 19 men and one woman - from European Christian, Jewish and Muslim congregations met in Brussels on Monday (5 may) to discuss the sensitive issues of climate change and reconciliation between peoples.

The meeting was co-chaired by European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, Slovenian Prime Minister and current president of the European Council, Janez Jansa, and the president of the European Parliament, Hans-Gert Poettering.


HAARP Transmissions may accidentally be jamming bees' homing ability

The theory has been put forward that Cellular Phones are to blame as a number of studies in Germany showed that 70% of bees will not return to a hive if a cellular phone is close to the hive, the initial article reporting the cellular phone connection incorrectly reported the study which actually place base stations from cordless phone sets into the colonies, cellular phones were not used in this study. This small scale study indicated that the electromagnetics from the mobile transmitters are interfering with the bee's sensitive navigational ability.

"Roughly a third of the U.S. diet is pollinated by honey bees, making their approximate economic value $15 billion in the U.S."

A couple of problems with this cordless phone transmission / bee interference hypothesis: A) Why did this problem occur only within the past year as cordless phones have been used for many years. B) Why has the CCD problem only seriously affecting North America and Europe?

The cordless phone base experiments that indicate interference with bees ability to return to the hive is useful evidence but this in and of itself does not prove their theory. However, we may be able to ascertain from this that some mode of radio transmissions may be affecting the bees, but it would only be transmissions which are located within North America and Europe and the transmissions must be something new within the past year.

The HAARP complex (High-frequency Active Auroral Research Project) is a congressionally initiated program jointly managed by the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy. HAARP is situated within a 23-acre lot in a relatively isolated region near the town of Gakona, Alaska. It consists of 180 towers, 72 feet in height, forming a "high-power, high frequency phased array radio transmitter" capable of beaming in the 2.5-10 megahertz frequency range, at more than 3 megawatts of power (3 million watts). This array is the most powerful in the world and is used in conjunction with at least one other powerful array in Alaska - HIPAS [HIgh Power Auroral Stimulation] used to steer the HAARP signal.

A few of the Military applications of HAARP as disclosed by the military include but are not limited to: submarine communication, long-range ground penetration radar and over the horizon radar.

In 1997 HAARP was used for transmission testing to see how far the signals would travel, this was long before the array was at full power, the results of amateur radio reception of the HAARP signal showed excellent reception down the west coast of British Columbia, Canada to California, the Midwest was weaker with Texas somewhat stronger than the Midwest due to "favorable propagation paths". The East Coast received weak signals with patchy reception due to the signal having to travel through the auroral zone (this is the region we typically see the north lights or aurora at night time)

In Europe the signal was weak but enough to copy the Morse code due to reflection from ionosphere patches within the polar auroral circle, this allowed the people in Europe to get a better signal than those on the East coast of the U.S. Hawaii picked up one of the strongest receptions and New Zealand couldn't get the signal as they were still in the sunlight and the conditions do not allow the signal to propagate into sunlight regions.

"The HAARP transmitter is limited to frequencies below 10 Mhz. Frequencies in this range are affected by absorption in the D layer of the ionosphere which disappears at night. Conversely, ionization in the reflective F layer would be expected to be high for several hours after sunset permitting skywave propagation (bouncing signals off high altitude ionosphere layers for long distance reception) at the 6.99 Mhz frequency."

The test concluded that HAARP High Frequency transmissions can be detected in Canada, U.S. and Europe. It just so happens that the mysterious CCD problem seems to be taking place within the same region!

HAARP transitioned just prior to the Summer of 2006 to full power from 960 kW (kilowatts) to 3.6 mW (megawatts) which is an increase of almost 4 times the output and the technology was moved from DARPA control to full joint U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force operation as of Fiscal Year 2006.

CCD by most accounts began in the summer of 2006, some reports suggest that it may have been occurring in a limited scale for the previous few years. This corresponds with HAARP going to full power in 2006 and transmitting at 27% power output prior to this.

Considering HAARP is not only used for High Frequency (HF) military and intelligence signal transmission but also Low Frequency (LF) and Extremely Low Frequency (ELF) transmission for Submarine communications and the ability for the array to heat a region of the ionosphere producing a denser region to bounce even higher frequency signals back to earth which would normally penetrate the ionosphere. Finding the precise cause for interference with bees' navigational ability from the operational frequency spectrum of HAARP may be difficult.

There could also be another factor HAARP is also able to stimulate the ionosphere to trigger faint optical emissions at specific wavelengths to produce artificial airglow at high altitude. Initially these tests involved producing this airglow bubble above HAARP but they discovered with testing that they could direct the airglow to follow the magnetic lines of the Earth.

These HAARP triggered airglow wavelengths fall within the range of Bee's visual spectrum. Evidence suggests that bees probably use their wide visual spectrum to lock onto the sun to allow them to find their way back to the hive and communicate to other worker bees how to get to locations they just came from, it was thought that ultraviolet emissions from the sun were primary positioning system for the bees as it penetrates cloud cover. However, tests on bees many years ago Edrich, Neumeyer & von Helversen (1979) and van der Glas (1977) have shown that the longer Infrared wavelengths also influence the bees orientation.

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Surviving 2012 and Planet X

Part 1 of 5: The Threat

Part 1 of 5 shows how the approach of Planet X is already changing our world. Produced and hosted by Marshall Masters, a former CNN science feature field producer, this program offers a straightforward view of this coming human event. As the co-author and publisher of Planet X Forecast and 2012 Survival Guide, Marshall believes that 2012 will be a survivable, evolutionary event.

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How Iraq helps the coalition economy

Iraq on Monday signed two deals worth $5 billion to buy 40 planes from Boeing and 10 planes from Canada's Bombardier to upgrade Iraqi Airways' aging fleet, the finance minister said.

The deals were signed by Finance Minister Bayan Jabr in a ceremony attended by Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki as well as U.S., British and Canadian diplomats.

The first Boeing plane will be delivered in 2013, Jabr said, while the Canadian company will start delivering their aircraft later this year.

"Today, the process of developing economy has started," al-Maliki said in a speech during the ceremony also attended by Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and Chief Executive Officer Scott Carson.

Boeing said in a statement Monday that it would deliver 30 Boeing 737-800 commercial airplanes and that Iraq has taken options for 10 additional 737s.

Separately, Iraq and Boeing are finalizing an agreement for 10 Boeing 787s, which will enable Iraq's national airliner to provide longer-range commercial service, Boeing said. The 787s will be added to Boeing's order book when the contract is completed.

Iraq also might take options on five additional 787s, Boeing said. If Iraq decides to place all orders, including optional ones, that would raise the total number of orders from Boeing to 55 planes.

West Bank locked down for Israeli holiday

The Israeli army has announced a three-day security lockdown on the occupied West Bank ahead of the Jewish state's 60th anniversary celebrations. On Wednesday Israel formally remembers soldiers killed in conflicts and a day later celebrates its 60th Independence Day. The Israeli army said in a statement that the closure would end midnight on Thursday in accordance with a security assessment. Israel regularly closes its crossings with Palestinian territories during national holidays, citing security concerns.
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Pakistan's 'Gandhi' party takes on Taliban, Al Qaeda

The ANP, for its part, wants to bring more accountability to negotiations by putting all the facts before the people. Past negotiations under the military-led government were never made public, says Sen. Zahid Khan of the ANP. So when agreements inevitably fell apart amid accusations and counteraccusations, no one knew who was right.

"We'll make all the developments in the talks public so as the masses can judge who is backing out of his words," he says. "The party going against the agreement would have to take the ire of the masses."

In this way, negotiations can serve a strategic purpose. Defense analyst Ikram Sehgal says there are many natural points of disagreement between Pashtun tribals and foreign terrorists, such as the tactic of suicide bombing.

"Terrorist ideology is completely anathema to tribal ideology," he says. "The whole idea is to drive a wedge between the tribals and the terrorists."

Yet Rashid and others say that to ultimately succeed, the government must have a policy beyond just talks – or bullets, for that matter. The government of North West Frontier Province has drawn a $4 billion development plan designed to spread the authority of the government through new counsels and government positions. But it must address the root causes of the tribal belt's problems – the economic backwardness and political isolation that have made the area a haven for militants, analysts add.

"They have to offer some strategic vision," says Rashid. "[The terrorists] want sharia. What are you offering?"

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US contractors accused in Abu Ghraib torture suit

Employees from US military contractors helped torture Iraqi civilians detained at Abu Ghraib prison five years ago, according to a federal lawsuit filed in Los Angeles on Monday.

Lawyers for Emad Al-Janabi said the 43-year-old blacksmith and other prisoners were subjected to months of abuse while being held at the notorious Baghdad jail following his arrest in September 2003.
Al-Janabi was later released without charge in July 2004.
According to the lawsuit, Al-Janabi was subjected to physical and mental torture which included being shown a mock execution of his brother and nephew, being repeatedly deprived of food and sleep and threatened with dogs.
The lawsuit is lodged against defense contractors CACI International Inc, CACI Premier Technology, L-3 Communications Titan Corporation, and former CACI contractor Stephen Stefanowicz.
The complaint alleges that CACI provided interrogators used at Abu Ghraib and that Titan Corp, now owned by L-3, employed translators at the detention facility. Al-Janabi and other Abu Ghraib detainees are being represented by lawyers from the Center for Constitutional Rights.

PARAGUAY: Torture Victim Still Fears Colorado Party ‘Mafia’

RIO DE JANEIRO, May 5 (IPS) - The Colorado Party has become a "criminal mafia" during its 61 years in government in Paraguay, and it will continue to be a force to be reckoned with in spite of its defeat in last month's elections, says Anuncio Martí, a Paraguayan citizen living in exile in Brazil.
Martí said he was abducted and tortured in Asunción in January 2002 by "a paramilitary and parapolice group linked to the government." Since 2003 he has lived as a political refugee in a Brazilian city, along with two fellow members of the Partido Patria Libre (roughly, Free Homeland Party, PPL), Juan Arrom and Víctor Colmán.

Martí rejoiced at the victory of opposition candidate Fernando Lugo, a progressive Catholic bishop who was elected president in Paraguay on Apr. 20. But he still has mixed feelings of hope and fear. The election result was "an important step forward for democracy," but "not the beginning of a real process of change," he told IPS.

"We hope that at least the criminalisation of social struggles and mass movements will end," so that "construction of a participative democracy" can begin, he said. His scepticism with regard to the prospect of a government of the people, led by Lugo who is known as "the bishop of the poor," is partly due to his own personal experience.

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China virus spreads to the capital

The number of people affected by the deadly EV-71 virus has risen to more than 9,000, including people in Beijing, Chinese officials have said.


Beijing health officials said on Monday that there were 1,482 reported cases of the infection in the capital.


At least 26 children have died so far from the severe form of foot and mouth disease.


Officials said the city health authorities were on high alert and might "suggest" that schools and day-care centres be closed if the situation worsens.


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The looming War for Water

Invest in water? One venture capitalist views the situation this way. With the move toward alternate fuels (like bio-fuels) and the increasing costs of oil extraction, water may well become the World's next scarce resource.
Biofuels are enormous consumers of water, says Jim Matheson, a general partner at Flagship Ventures, a venture capital firm in Cambridge, MA. And water is not always abundant where it's most needed. "So, increasingly you're going to see water as a scarce resource. I think it's going to drive not just economics but also a lot of geopolitical dynamics. So, we're trying to find technologies that can allow us to plug into this enormous value chain."

In the same vein, the State of Pennsylvania has just announced the approval of $72 million in low-interest loans to support water infrastructure projects.

Regardless of whether you ascribe to global warming or not, it is a reality that the water resources of a number of countries, especially in drought-ridden Africa, are running short. In fact, British counter-terrorism experts are concerned about future 'water wars' between countries left drought-ridden by climate change. One researcher, Marc Levy at Columbia University has analyzed data to show that when rainfall is significantly below normal, the risk of a low-level conflict escalating to a full-scale civil war approximately doubles in the following year. An example?

As Barcelona runs out of water, Spain has been forced to consider importing water from France by boat. It is the latest example of the growing struggle for water around the world – the "water wars".

Barcelona and the surrounding region are suffering the worst drought in decades. There are several possible solutions, including diverting a river, and desalinating water. But the city looks like it will ship water from the French port of Marseilles.

Of course, as with many other topics of this variety, there are people in opposition: "People will not fight over water," says Mark Zeitoun, from the London School of Economics' Centre for Environmental Policy and Governance in the UK. "But that's not to say water shortages will not contributing to existing tensions."


'Water wars' becoming an issue again

The threat of "water wars" has reared its ugly head again, thanks to comments made earlier this month by Ohio Lt.-Gov. Lee Fisher during an economic development summit in Toledo.

Fisher told the crowd he believed the Great Lakes region could be less than a decade away from selling water to other states, or even other countries in need.

"I think it's fair to say that we're going to see in the next decade states and other countries looking for ways to get access to our fresh water supply, and we're going to have to make some tough decisions about whether we want that to happen and, if so, how," Fisher said.

The comment sent off alarm bells in communities all around the Great Lakes, many of whom are worried about the effects taking large amounts of water from the supply will have on the quality of drinking water, and the potential damage to ecosystems in the region.

Following the backlash, Fisher was forced to clarify his remarks, saying that he misspoke.


Diverting the Brahmaputra - start of the Water Wars?

The reason for China's intransigence on Tibet is simple. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has always referred to Tibet as China's Water Tower and considers it key to sustaining China's northwest in water, revitalising its deserts and the Yellow River itself, as well as being crucial to its Himalayan Strategy.

To guarantee China's water needs, Beijing's excessive and often disastrous policies seriously endanger the survival of hundreds of millions in countries downstream on trans-national rivers that rise in Tibet. One such plan is the unsustainable diversion of a river's flow into north western China. That river is the Yarlung Tsangbo, that when crossing the Indian border, becomes the Brahmaputra.

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The project

The aim is to divert 200B m3 (roughly 33 per cent) of the Brahmaputra's flow into China each year. That 33 per cent uses outdated 1990s data and flawed design philosophy used in the Three Gorges Dam and as then ignores local and international expert advice. Initial proposals include the Soviet practice of PNEs (peaceful nuclear explosions) to blast the tunnels.

At twice the capacity of Three Gorge's the 40GW pumped storage facility will be the world's largest hydroelectric facility. The dam at Shoumatan Point will back up water that will plunge 2,000m through 15km of tunnels near Dagmo and discharge through 26 of the world's biggest turbines into a tributary rejoining the riverbed and reservoir of the storage dam north of Medog. The waters flow will be cut from 200km to 21km.

Pumped storage systems will return water from the storage dam to the holding dam at specific rates. After diverting the original 33 per cent, the volume of returned water determines residual river flow from the holding dam. Authorities refuse to confirm any residual flow rate.


The site is the Great Bend of the Yalung Tsangpo where it flows around Mount Namcha Barwa on its final run south into India. One of the last pristine regions of the world, it is the world's most spectacular, and deepest canyon. The Great Bend, known also as Pemakö, is home of the Goddess Dorjee Pagmo, the Protecting Deity of Tibet and revered by all Tibetans. During filling and then commissioning the wild river will be no more.


'Privatizing' volunteerism

From: Corporate volunteers reaching worldwide

Ask John Leiter, who came back a changed man from three months in Uruguay in 2006 under Ernst & Young's corporate social responsibility fellows program. A Boston-based senior manager for the accounting firm, Leiter normally helps companies carry out internal investigations into financial wrongdoing.

In the capital of Montevideo, he was assigned to help a 12-year-old information technology company develop its first real five-year strategic plan. That meant doing a new kind of work, at a new firm, while coping with language and cultural differences. For a fast-paced American, even the traditional quarter-hour of chit-chat preceding meetings was a tough adjustment.

"I worked out of my comfort zone the entire time," recalls Leiter. Now, back home, he operates differently, trying first to get an overall sense of client needs before starting work. "Oftentimes, we have such a myopic focus, and it doesn't allow us to take a large view of the issue," says Leiter.

Through the program, Ernst & Young is both "doing its small part" to combat world poverty and helping itself, says Deborah K. Holmes, Americas director of corporate responsibility. "We need people with a global mindset, and what better way to develop a global mindset, and what more realistic way, than for somebody to have an immersion experience with just enough safety net?"

While sharing similar aims, each company's program differs. In three years, Ernst & Young has sent 20 top-performing employees to South America to help entrepreneurs. Pfizer, one of the first to set up such a program, has sent 155 global health fellows to 31 countries since 2003 to combat HIV-AIDS and other illnesses.


The rise of Islamic Banking

Islamic Banking by A.L.M. Abdul Gafoor
4.1.1 Interest-free banking as an idea

Interest-free banking seems to be of very recent origin. The earliest references to the reorganisation of banking on the basis of profit sharing rather than interest are found in Anwar Qureshi (1946), Naiem Siddiqi (1948) and Mahmud Ahmad (1952) in the late forties, followed by a more elaborate exposition by Mawdudi in 1950 (1961). Muhammad Hamidullah’s 1944, 1955, 1957 and 1962 writings too should be included in this category. They have all recognised the need for commercial banks and the evil of interest in that enterprise, and have proposed a banking system based on the concept of Mudarabha - profit and loss sharing.

In the next two decades interest-free banking attracted more attention, partly because of the political interest it created in Pakistan and partly because of the emergence of young Muslim economists. Works specifically devoted to this subject began to appear in this period. The first such work is that of Muhammad Uzair (1955). Another set of works emerged in the late sixties and early seventies. Abdullah al-Araby (1967), Nejatullah Siddiqi (1961, 1969), al-Najjar (1971) and Baqir al-Sadr (1961, 1974) were the main contributors.

Early seventies saw the institutional involvement. Conference of the Finance Ministers of the Islamic Countries held in Karachi in 1970, the Egyptian study in 1972, First International Conference on Islamic Economics in Mecca in 1976, International Economic Conference in London in 1977 were the result of such involvement. The involvement of institutions and governments led to the application of theory to practice and resulted in the establishment of the first interest-free banks. The Islamic Development Bank, an inter-governmental bank established in 1975, was born of this process.

4.1.2 The coming into being of interest-free banks

The first private interest-free bank, the Dubai Islamic Bank, was also set up in 1975 by a group of Muslim businessmen from several countries. Two more private banks were founded in 1977 under the name of Faisal Islamic Bank in Egypt and the Sudan. In the same year the Kuwaiti government set up the Kuwait Finance House.

However, small scale limited scope interest-free banks have been tried before. One in Malaysia in the mid-forties and another in Pakistan in the late-fifties. Neither survived. In 1962 the Malaysian government set up the “Pilgrim’s Management Fund” to help prospective pilgrims to save and profit. The savings bank established in 1963 at Mit-Ghamr in Egypt was very popular and prospered initially and then closed down for various reasons. However this experiment led to the creation of the Nasser Social Bank in 1972. Though the bank is still active, its objectives are more social than commercial.

In the ten years since the establishment of the first private commercial bank in Dubai, more than 50 interest-free banks have come into being. Though nearly all of them are in Muslim countries, there are some in Western Europe as well: in Denmark, Luxembourg , Switzerland and the UK. Many banks were established in 1983 (11) and 1984 (13). The numbers have declined considerably in the following years.

In most countries the establishment of interest-free banking had been by private initiative and were confined to that bank. In Iran and Pakistan, however, it was by government initiative and covered all banks in the country. The governments in both these countries took steps in 1981 to introduce interest-free banking. In Pakistan, effective 1 January 1981 all domestic commercial banks were permitted to accept deposits on the basis of profit-and-loss sharing (PLS). New steps were introduced on 1 January 1985 to formally transform the banking system over the next six months to one based on no interest. From 1 July 1985 no banks could accept any interest bearing deposits, and all existing deposits became subject to PLS rules. Yet some operations were still allowed to continue on the old basis. In Iran, certain administrative steps were taken in February 1981 to eliminate interest from banking operations. Interest on all assets was replaced by a 4 percent maximum service charge and by a 4 to 8 percent ‘profit’ rate depending on the type of economic activity. Interest on deposits was also converted into a ‘guaranteed minimum profit.’ In August 1983 the Usury-free Banking Law was introduced and a fourteen-month change over period began in January 1984. The whole system was converted to an interest-free one in March 1985.

Islamic Banks: A Novelty No Longer
From Jakarta to Jeddah, 265 Islamic banks and other financial institutions are now operating in some 40 countries, with total assets that top $262 billion, according to organizers of the International Islamic Finance Forum, a semi-annual industry conference. That pot of money, the investment of which adheres to the Koran's prohibition against receiving or paying interest, has been steadily building since 1994, when Malaysia created the world's first Islamic interbank money market. Now Islamic banking has broadened its appeal well beyond the confines of faithful Muslims. Indeed, nearly one-quarter of all Islamic banking business in Malaysia is being transacted by non-Muslims.

Islamic finance was long the preserve of specialty banks that handled shariah-compliant products exclusively, such as Malaysia's top-ranked Bank Islam and Saudi Arabia's Al Rajhi Banking & Investment Corp. But Western banks, no longer content to leave the market to Islamic lenders, are competing for a slice of the business. Two years ago, Citigroup (C ) began providing Islamic mortgages in Malaysia and has begun training staffers in Indonesia and Pakistan to offer them there. It also provides Islamic mortgages in Middle Eastern countries such as the United Arab Emirates. HSBC operates Islamic banking services all over the Arab world, and they now make up about 10% of its business in Malaysia. UBS, the world's top player in wealth management, set up a stand-alone Islamic private bank last year in Dubai to cater to its wealthiest Middle Eastern clients. And no wonder. Assets held by Muslims, led by Gulf Arabs, in all banks -- Islamic and otherwise -- are estimated at $1.5 trillion and are growing 15% a year, in large part because of high oil prices.

Islamic banking
Islamic banking has the same purpose as conventional banking except that it operates in accordance with the rules of Shariah, known as Fiqh al-Muamalat (Islamic rules on transactions). The basic principle of Islamic banking is the sharing of profit and loss and the prohibition of riba (usury). Amongst the common Islamic concepts used in Islamic banking are profit sharing
(Mudharabah), safekeeping (Wadiah), joint venture (Musharakah), cost plus (Murabahah), and leasing (Ijarah).
In an Islamic mortgage transaction, instead of loaning the buyer money to purchase the item, a bank might buy the item itself from the seller, and re-sell it to the buyer at a profit, while allowing the buyer to pay the bank in installments. However, the fact that it is profit cannot be made explicit and therefore there are no additional penalties for late payment. In order to protect itself against default, the bank asks for strict collateral. The goods or land is registered to the name of the buyer from the start of the transaction. This arrangement is called Murabaha. Another approach is EIjara wa EIqtina, which is similar to real-estate leasing. Islamic banks handle loans for vehicles in a similar way (selling the vehicle at a higher-than-market price to the debtor and then retaining ownership of the vehicle until the loan is paid).
There are several other approaches used in business deals. Islamic banks lend their money to companies by issuing floating rate interest loans. The floating rate of interest is pegged to the company's individual rate of return. Thus the bank's profit on the loan is equal to a certain percentage of the company's profits. Once the principal amount of the loan is repaid, the profit-sharing arrangement is concluded. This practice is called Musharaka. Further, Mudaraba is venture capital funding of an entrepreneur who provides labor while financing is provided by the bank so that both profit and risk are shared. Such participatory arrangements between capital and labor reflect the Islamic view that the borrower must not bear all the risk/cost of a failure, resulting in a balanced distribution of income and not allowing lender to monopolize the economy.
And finally, Islamic banking is restricted to Islamically acceptable deals, which exclude those involving alcohol, pork, gambling, etc. Thus ethical investing is the only acceptable form of investment, and moral purchasing is encouraged. Islamic banking is an example of full-reserve banking, with banks achieving a 100% reserve ratio.[2] However, in practice, this is not always the case.
Islamic banks have grown recently in the Muslim world but are a very small share of the global banking system. Micro-lending institutions founded by Muslims, notably Grameen Bank, use conventional lending practices and are popular in some Muslim nations, especially Bangladesh, but some do not consider them true Islamic banking. However, Muhammad Yunus, the founder of Grameen Bank and microfinance banking, and other supporters of microfinance, argue that the lack of collateral or excessive interest in micro-lending is consistent with the Islamic prohibition of usury (riba).

UK's first Islamic insurance company authorised by regulator
Principle Insurance, UK's first independent Islamic insurance (takaful) company, has been authorised by the FSA (Financial Services Authority). The company will offer Shari'ah-compliant home and car insurance. The latter will be launched in the second quarter of 2008 and will be available online or over the phone.
Abdulaziz Hamad Aljomaih, the company's chairman, believes that Principle Insurance 'will go some way in altering the perception of Islamic finance in the UK, by showing that progressive, sensible and profitable businesses can be established in accordance with Islamic law'. He also states that receiving the FSA authorisation proves that 'Shari'ah-compliant financial products are not only equitable and profitable but also conform to the modern day principles of international finance, especially from a regulatory standpoint'.
Bradley Brandon-Cross, chief executive of Principle Insurance, estimates that over 500,000 British Muslims own cars and therefore, have car insurance (it is a legal requirement in the UK). However, conventional insurance 'compromises their beliefs'. By offering the country's first Shari'ah-compliant motor insurance, the new takaful company will 'remove this dilemma'.
Principle Insurance has established a Shari'ah Supervisory Committee, consisting of three prominent Muslim scholars: Shaikh Nizam Yaquby of Bahrain, Dr Mohammad Elgari of Saudi Arabia and Mufti Abdul Kader Barkatulla, who lives in the UK.
The company has been present in the UK market since 2006 under a previous name of British Islamic Insurance Holdings (BIIH). Its initial capital was around £60 million ($119 million), with over 45 per cent of the investment originating from Saudi Arabia. Other investors include organisations and individuals from GCC and Asia.
The company's long-term strategy is aimed the UK market to start with and, in due course, Europe and the countries in the Gulf region. Principle Insurance will be providing an ethical insurance alternative on a selective basis.

Islamic Banking and the Media
If people want these shows about Islamic banking to be successful then these channels must seek to bring together the professional competencies of this field to work as presenters, or at least advisers, to suggest the topics that should be tackled and recommend suitable guests. In addition, these channels should be diligent towards familiarizing hosts – if they do not belong to the field of Islamic banking – to a suitable level by enrolling them on training courses related to Islamic banking that would teach them the basics of this system.
A significant field such as that of Islamic banking, and the speed of its growth that reaches an average of 20% per year and 35% in some countries, is a huge market for advertising. It is worth television channels gaining a foothold in this market where financial, Islamic and traditional institutions that provide Islamic services are competing to gain access to target consumers by all available means with the aim of selling their services, establishing trademarks and strengthening the confidence that their customers have in them.
Perhaps an indication of the lucrative gains to be made by these channels from such programs is the success of Islamic banking articles that are published in newspapers in attracting advertisers and the fact that Islamic and traditional financial institutions that provide Islamic services compete for this.

Islamic banking needs new rules
How do you think Islamic banking will grow, globally and locally?

Islamic banking services are growing at high rates – more than 25 per cent – on the regional and global levels. Increasing numbers of investors in the GCC are pushing to create Islamic financial institutions, investment companies or Islamic insurance companies. In the UAE, we are achieving high growth rates, however, the share of Islamic banking in the UAE is still low, between 15 per cent and 18 per cent, of the total banking market and less than 20 per cent of the total banking assets. The main challenge is to create a regulatory system for Islamic banking in the country. The UAE Central Bank has not introduced a set of regulations for Islamic banking and this hinders our expansion and progress. We need such regulations to streamline Islamic banking services. Islamic financial services need regulations different from conventional banking regulations because there are essential differences between the two banking systems.

All current regulations are targeting conventional banking and the Central Bank should move quickly to introduce laws and regulations for Islamic banking because the current conventional regulations represent a major obstacle to our expansion. Despite the high growth rate in Islamic banking in the country, which reached around 30 per cent annually, our market share is still low and, with the current regulations, we will not be able to achieve 50 per cent of the market share during the next five years.

Why cannot regulations for conventional banking be applied to Islamic banking?

There is a wide gap between the basics of conventional banking and Islamic banking. Conventional banking is based on financial economy as it trades in money and their main focus is lending. It is also interest-based banking, where the banks are setting fixed interest rates for their customers regardless of whether the business of those customers achieved profits or not. Islamic banking is based on the real economy as we are not offering money. We are partners with our customers through different products.

For example Musharaka, which means sharing, is an ideal alternative to interest-based financing and plays a vital role in an economy based upon Islamic principles as the bank enters a partnership with the client. Also Ijara, which means leasing, is used for two different situations, to employ the services of a person on wages given to him as a consideration for his hired services, or as a form of investment, and also as a mode of financing. Such Islamic products mean the bank is involved in the real economy and is close to changes in the markets.

In conventional banking when a customer borrows money to finance a commercial project and offers his property as a guarantee for this loan, the bank will take over the property if the customer fails to repay and this double the losses of the customer. In Islamic banking, there are a lot of other solutions to help our customers. For example, we could enter into a partnership to own this property and also give customer the right to buy back the bank's share in the property. These factors make things easier for the customer.

Islamic banks 'are making mark'
MANAMA: A new report from a global strategic management consulting firm shows that Islamic banks are making their mark in non-Muslim countries.
The AT Kearney study reveals that these wholesale banks target a broad set of corporate, institutional and high net worth clients, both Muslims and non-Muslims.
While Sharia-compliant banking has traditionally focused on the GCC and Malaysia, there has recently been a dramatic increase in the number of Islamic banks outside the core markets, most remarkably in the UK, where the number of Islamic banks has more than doubled over the past 12 months.
At the same time, their products remain popular in their core markets, where Islamic banks consistently outgrow their conventional competitors.
"While Islamic banks in their core markets take a universal banking approach, with retail, corporate and investment banking business lines, they focus on wholesale banking in the UK," said AT Kearney Middle East manager of financial services Dr Alexander von Pock.
Assets in the Islamic banking sector grew to over $250 billion globally in 2006, according to the UK Treasury.
In the GCC, this segment expanded to 15 per cent of the total system and is expected to reach 50pc within the next few years.
The success at home enables these banks to export their business abroad, as Islamic banks from the GCC are the major shareholders behind all of the newly set-up Islamic banks in the UK.
However, the strategic approach they take on differs between them and their home countries.
"Islamic investments have often been outperforming conventional investments, hence Western, non-Muslim investors are becoming more interested in Islamic finance.
"They account for up to 40pc of buyers," AT Kearney Dubai associate director Maktoum Al Maktoum.

Maybank Banking On Pakistan Expansion
HONG KONG - While most Western banks are taking a pause from expansion to solve their credit problems at home, Malayan Banking is accelerating its acquisition ambitions, in an attempt to strengthen its regional footprint. Malaysia's biggest lender said Monday it would buy up to 20% of Pakistan's MCB Bank for $933 million, its third takeover in the region in two months.
Malayan Banking (other-otc: MLYBY - news - people ), widely known as Maybank, said in a filing with the stock exchange in Kuala Lumpur on Monday that it had agreed to buy 15% of MCB Bank, Pakistan's fourth-largest bank by asset value, for 2.17 billion ringgit ($685.5 million). Maybank also has secured the right to buy an additional 5% stake in MCB Bank for a maximum of $247 million from three other institutional investors, potentially bringing its ownership up to 20%.
[ ... ]
The deal, which will be completed by the end of June, is expected to provide an opening for Maybank to expand into Islamic banking, retail services, credit cards and small-to-medium enterprise banking in Pakistan. MCB Bank has 1,026 branches, including eight Islamic banking branches within Pakistan and six branches outside the country, with a deposit base of about. 280 billion Pakistani rupees ($4.3 billion) and total assets of around 300 billion Pakistani rupees ($4.6 billion), according to the bank's Web site.
Seeking prospects beyond its maturing home market, Maybank recently stepped up the pace of regional acquisitions. It announced last month it had agreed to acquire a 56% stake in Bank Internasional Indonesia, that nation's sixth-largest bank, from Singapore's state-directed Temasek Holdings and South Korea's Kookmin Bank (nyse: KB - news - people ) for 4.8 billion ringgit ($1.5 billion). The bank will also make a tender offer for the remaining 44.3% shares of Bank Internasional Indonesia (other-otc: PKIDF - news - people ) for approximately 3.8 billion ringgit ($1.2 billion), bringing the total value of the potential acquisition to about 8.6 billion ringgit ($2.7 billion).

What is Islamic Banking?
The revival of Islamic banking coincided with the world-wide celebration of the advent of the 15th Century of Islamic calendar (Hijra) in 1976. At the same time financial resources of Muslims particularly those of the oil producing countries, received a boost due to rationalization of the oil prices, which had hitherto been under the control of foreign oil Corporations. These events led Muslims' to strive to model their lives in accordance with the ethics and philosophy of Islam.
Disenchantment with the value neutral capitalist and socialist financial systems led not only Muslims but also others to look for ethical values in their financial dealings and in the West some financial organisations have opted for ethical operations.
Islam not only prohibits dealing in interest but also in liquor, pork, gambling, pornography and anything else, which the Shariah (Islamic Law) deems Haram (unlawful). Islamic banking is an instrument for the development of an Islamic economic order. Some of the salient features of this order may be summed up as:
While permitting the individual the right to seek his economic well-being, Islam makes a clear distinction between what is Halal (lawful) and what is haram (forbidden) in pursuit of such economic activity. In broad terms, Islam forbids all forms of economic activity, which are morally or socially injurious.
While acknowledging the individual's right to ownership of wealth legitimately acquired, Islam makes it obligatory on the individual to spend his wealth judiciously and not to hoard it, keep it idle or to squander it.
While allowing an individual to retain any surplus wealth, Islam seeks to reduce the margin of the surplus for the well-being of the community as a whole, in particular the destitute and deprived sections of society by participation in the process of Zakat.
While making allowance for the ways of human nature and yet not yielding to the consequences of its worst propensities, Islam seeks to prevent the accumulation of wealth in a few hands to the detriment of society as a whole, by its laws of inheritance.

Eustace Mullins - Murder by Injection

Part 1 of 3

~ more ~

On Land Titles, Property and the State

From: What is Political Economy

Trace the origin of land titles back through the centuries and you will invariably find them based upon force or fraud. While not able to articulate ground rent or the law of rent, sovereigns and would-be rulers recognized ownership of land as the source of wealth and power. As the German sociologist, Franz Oppenheimer, put it so well in his opus THE STATE, they were engaged in the political means for obtaining wealth rather than the economic means.

John Locke recognized the distinction between property in land and property in the product of labor. In the Second Treatise on Civil Government he wrote;

Though the earth and all inferior creatures be common to all men, yet every man has property in his own person; this nobody has any right to but himself. The labor of his body and the work of his hands we may say are properly his. Whatsoever, then, he removes out of the state that nature hath provided and left it in, he hath mixed his labor with, and joined to it something which is his own, and thereby makes it his property. It being by him removed from the common state nature placed it in, it hath by this labor something annexed to it that excludes the common right of other men. For this labor being the unquestionable property of the laborer, no man but he can have a right to what that is once joined to, at least where there is enough, and as good left in common for others.

Locke was correct in recognizing a natural right of property in the product of labor but fell into confusion because he did not understand the genesis of ground rent.

The institution of private property in land (which includes land beneath improvements as well as unused land) differs essentially from private property in labor and capital. Or, in terms of the yield, private property in ground rent as distinguished from private property in wages or interest. The sovereign or ruler must provide some sort of title deed or recognition of ownership for the former. No such state authorization is needed for recognition that the fruits of production belong to the producers. To the extent that the state levies or taxes labor or capital or the wealth produced, to that extent it is stealing just as surely as any private thief. Yes-TAXATION IS THEFT. Community collection of ground rent, on the other hand, is merely a collection of that value which is created by the community. It is just as well as expedient.

The desire for any particular item of wealth is generally motivated by wanting to possess and use that item. (a possible trivial exception being collectables such as rare paintings, coins, antiques, etc.) The desire for land has a two-fold motivation. First is possession and use. This security of tenure is necessary so that producers can enjoy the fruits of their production. Second is the potential gain from merely holding title to land. Land speculation may not always be profitable to the individual but the net effects are always harmful to the society.

In Chapter 2, Book VI of Progress and Poverty, following an exhaustive analysis of the production and distribution of wealth, Henry George spelled out the true remedy;

This, then, is the remedy for the unjust and unequal distribution of wealth apparent in modern civilization, and for all the evils which flow from it:

We must make land common property.

We have reached this conclusion by an examination in which every step has been proved and secured. In the chain of reasoning no link is wanting and no link is weak. Deduction and induction have brought us to the same truth-that the unequal ownership of land necessitates the unequal distribution of wealth. And as in the nature of things unequal ownership of land is inseparable from the recognition of individual property in land, it necessarily follows that the only remedy for the unjust distribution of wealth is in making land common property.

A pro-Israel group's plan to rewrite history on Wikipedia

 A pro-Israel pressure group is orchestrating a secret, long-term campaign to infiltrate the popular online encyclopedia Wikipedia to rewrite Palestinian history, pass off crude propaganda as fact, and take over Wikipedia administrative structures to ensure these changes go either undetected or unchallenged.

A series of emails by members and associates of the pro-Israel group CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America), provided to The Electronic Intifada (EI), indicate the group is engaged in what one activist termed a "war" on Wikipedia.

A 13 March action alert signed by Gilead Ini, a "Senior Research Analyst" at CAMERA, calls for "volunteers who can work as 'editors' to ensure" that Israel-related articles on Wikipedia are "free of bias and error, and include necessary facts and context." However, subsequent communications indicate that the group not only wanted to keep the effort secret from the media, the public, and Wikipedia administrators, but that the material they intended to introduce included discredited claims that could smear Palestinians and Muslims and conceal Israel's true history.

With over two million articles in English on every topic imaginable, Wikipedia has become a primary reference source for Internet users around the world and a model for collaboratively produced projects. Openness and good faith are among Wikipedia's core principles. Any person in the world can write or edit articles, but Wikipedia has strict guidelines and procedures for accountability intended to ensure quality control and prevent vandalism, plagiarism or distortion. It is because of these safeguards that articles on key elements of the Palestine-Israel conflict have generally remained well-referenced, useful and objective. The CAMERA plan detailed in the e-mails obtained by EI appears intended to circumvent these controls.

In the past, CAMERA has gained notoriety for its tactic of accusing virtually anyone who does not toe a right-wing pro-Israel line of bias. The group has even accused editors and reporters of the Israeli daily Haaretz of being "extreme" and participating in "radical anti-Israel activity." Jeffrey Dvorkin, the former ombudsman of National Public Radio (NPR), frequently criticized by CAMERA for an alleged pro-Palestinian bias, wrote on the web publication Salon in February 2008 that "as a consequence of its campaign against NPR, CAMERA acted as the enabler for some seriously disturbed people," citing persistent telephone threats he received in the wake of CAMERA campaigns.


British planners feared tea shortage after nuclear attack

Never mind the radiation: British contingency planners worried there would be a dramatic shortage of tea in the aftermath of a nuclear attack, recently declassified documents showed Monday.

The shortfall of the staple British beverage would be "very serious" if the country were to come under attack with atomic and hydrogen bombs, said according to a memo drafted between 1954 and 1956.

"The tea position would be very serious with a loss of 75 percent of stocks and substantial delays in imports and with no system of rationing it would be wrong to consider that even one ounce (28 grams) per head per week could be ensured," it said.

"No satisfactory solution has yet been found."

President Kennedy's Foreign Policy

Kennedy was inaugurated three days after Lumumba was killed in the Congo. Kennedy was known to be a supporter of Lumumba, and was devastated when he learned of his assassination.

As Gerard Colby so brilliantly noted in "Thy Will Be Done":
Within a month of Kennedy's election, some of Nelson [Rockefeller]'s closest allies ... were meeting in the White House's Cabinet Room or heading key offices in the new administration. Swiftly and quietly, they began implementing many of the changes in government structure and policy that Nelson advocated.

This secret victory [for Rockefeller] was the outcome of Kennedy's inexperience. Kennedy had spent the past five years running for office. He knew politicians, but not men who could run the government of a world power.
Kennedy turned to Robert Lovett, a former Truman administration veteran. Lovett was also a trustee of the Rockefeller Foundation.

So right from the start, without realizing it, Kennedy had brought the empire builders right into the top places in his administration. He'd be fighting them for the rest of his short term.

In his second full month in office, he ended support for the anti-communist dictator in Laos that the CIA-Pentagon forces had installed during Eisenhower's term. Kennedy said at a news conference that the US "strongly and unreservedly" supported a goal of a "neutral and independent Laos."

He inherited an already-in-motion operation in the Bay of Pigs when he stepped into the White House. In April, he gave a green light based strictly on the information the CIA had provided, which was that the CIA was simply supporting a native revolution, and was going to offer limited support.

That wasn't true, but Kennedy didn't know then that the CIA would deliberately mislead a president. During the mission, the CIA and Navy pressured Kennedy hard to send in the Marines, stationed offshore, in a full-scale invasion. Kennedy resisted, angering the forces hell-bent on overthrowing Castro.

When Kennedy saw the mission was not going as planned, the CIA figured he would not opt to lose, but would throw more forces at it for victory. But they guessed wrong. Kennedy took the hit, and then forced Allen Dulles, the Godfather of the CIA, from the Agency. Many in the Agency hated Kennedy from that point forward, and the feeling was mutual.

That's when Kennedy made the famous vow to splinter the CIA into 1000 pieces and scatter it to winds. He explicitly set up the Defense Intelligence Agency to corral the CIA's covert operations under strict military control. The DIA opened October 1, 1961, a move which made CIA operatives' blood boil even further.

In July of 1961, Allen Dulles and the Joint Chiefs of Staff present Kennedy with a preemptive nuclear strike plan to be launched against the USSR in late 1963, to be preceded by a period of escalating (and manufactured) events. Kennedy walks out, saying to Dean Rusk, "and they call us the human race."


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