Tag Archive: Nigeria

Laws are like sausages — it is best not to see them being made: Mercenary Guidelines for a Better World

Guidelines for a Better World

Sausages

Sausages

Laws are like sausages — it is best not to see them being made.  Perhaps I should re-phrase this as:

The Rules of Law and International Diplomacy are like sausages — it is best not to see them being made

It’s a strange world out there.  Two recent political events have brought two previously unlinked ideas to my mind.  The events are:

Wikileaks disclosures
Innocents Killed In Iraq

Innocents Killed In Iraq by US gunship

For the Wikileaks disclosures, I see them as a highly embarrassing thing for those involved, but an empowering thing for us mere mortals who are divorced from the diplomatic process.  Normally, all the guts of the process are hidden.

In the case of the cover-up of the turkey shoot of unarmed civilians by US helicopter crews, it is something of which we should all be aware, no matter how discomforting for us.

In truth, we need better leaders in the West, people of real morals and guts so that we do not have to see the guts of innocents sprayed on the streets ever again to realise how crap the current bunch are.

Mercenary Forces

Mercenary forces I see as a fact of current and historical life, the old colonial powers especially – indeed, the UK has its own dirty hand in this.  For nigh-on 200 years the UK has even had its own full-time mercenaries, the Gurkhas, typically used in near-suicidal conflict situations.  Also, currently, from the standpoint of an Afghan tribesman, the British Army in Afghanistan could be seen as little more than mercenaries in the employ of a puppet king, Hamid Karzai.  For the tribesman, little has changed – there’s money about but he sees none of it whosoever is in charge.

Diplomacy

Click to see Sausage Making process from the inside.

Sausage Making

In the meantime, we have diplomacy.  For the West, this is a world of essentially astute well educated  folk, usually adept in law not technology, that seek to make deals with not-so-nice folk for our own country’s benefit.

 

Because these deals are done at the guttural level, like sausage-making, it’s an unpleasant process to stumble upon – which is exactly what we’ve seen with the Wikileaks Diplomatic Cable exposures.  Naturally we are aghast that such things go on in our name.  For me, it seems to be a wholly unpleasant process in our current world and something I’d wish to eliminate.

Earth in an oil drop

Taking the current crisis in Libya;  for the previous three years the Blair/Brown Labour Government has made overtures with Libya, sold arms and even SAS training, but all with the aim of ensuring Libya kept it’s hands off the nuclear button.  Seems good-ish.  Laudable aims, jaw-jaw nor war-war and all that.

This process, now revealed, is ugly – but no more so than our current Prime Minister Cameron sucking up to some Gulf Arabs who, like Libya, run a similar kind of oligarchic, autocratic, nepotistic state, full of outlandish greed and luxury with no voice for the inhabitants!  Seems pretty bad.  ………   It is bad.  Really bad.  It’s the same process as before, and we only do it because we need their oil.   Forget about Grand Prix cars and World Cup Football – it’s all about the O. I. L.  – OIL.

So What to Do?

Use Oil?  Sell Bullets.

Most of the recent interventions of the West’s (let’s call them wars should we – after all, thousands have died?), have been into countries that maintain a nice, steady flow of oil to us rich, lazy, westerners.  We think nothing of flying the globe or motoring to the shop for a cheap item that has most probably already crossed the globe once on its way from China, so yes, it’s important we can do this, right?…

On the other hand, our presence in places like Sudan, Rwanda or Congo has been notable by our absence.  Millions have brutally died.  (a.k.a. we don’t care as you’ve no oil.)

Meanwhile our presence in places like Nigeria or Bhopal, India has been notable for our poisoning of the local inhabitants without a trace of remorse or compensation by those involved.

Not Use Oil?  Don’t Sell Bullets.

  • Self-sufficient city planned near Seoul

    A Planned Self Sufficient Korean City

    Consider our own little part of the world.  It’s a place that many people in the world aspire to live because we are essentially free and most material things in our lives can be satisfied.

  • Consider how bright and technologically advanced we consider ourselves to be.

Now consider a world where we eliminated our dependency on chicken dictatorships – a world where we used our technological prowess to eliminate the consumption of oil and our addiction to the making and selling of arms, mostly to these self-same oil rich oligarchies. It’d be a world where we, the citizenry,  didn’t have to look on aghast as all our tax money was spent on bribing simple crooks to talk to us nicely.

Surely, like Egypt & Tunisia, those sort of oligarchies would collapse if we stopped buying their oil and stopped selling them our finest weaponry?

And if they didn’t, so what? There’d be no need for us as a nation to be thrown into hypocritical situations and taking ghastly actions for which we’d later be thoroughly ashamed.  Those areas of the world could take their own destinies into their own hands.

Green Shoot Of Peace

Green Shoot Of Peace

And Diplomacy? For us, we should see more not less of the words and processes done in our name.  We are not children and sooner or later, if the diplomats have fucked it up, we’re going to find out anyway, much as we did after WW1, WW2 and anywhere else our sons and brothers get killed in someone else’s war.

  • We need a proper, ethical, foreign policy.
  • We need diplomats of guile and courage, just like now,  to promote it.
  • And really, we really, really, need to be self-sufficient for all our needs and not rely on corrupt tin-pot states that have not left the Middle Ages in outlook.  This single thing is the most important thing for us and the peaceful futures of our immediate descendants.
  • We need a bit of courage to do this – to wean ourselves off this drug-like dependency on crooks of no substance who happen to sit on stuff we just happen to need, now.  Lets use our technological nous and make the current now a thing of the past – like stone axes and bronze swords, historical curiosities.
  • Mercenaries have courage – after all, if caught they’re usually the first one’s strung up.  See Dead Mercenary Taken to Tripoli Morgue, Libia Protests 2011.   But if the mercenaries have a proper home – what then?  There’d just be the few psychos like there’s always been, because you know, most people, even young hotheads, don’t want to wind up in an early grave.

Remember;

Courage is Contagious.

Get the t-shirt!

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Message from the Chief Protocol of Independent Corrupt Practises Commission (ICPC)

I got a phishing spam this morning from Nigeria!

Typical 419 that I usually see: Office of the Seante House Nigeria

Nothing unusual in that, you say – the Nigerian 419 scam has been going on for years!  It even has it’s own scambusters (see references later) and the actual advanced fee fraud is usually just called a 419 scam because that’s it’s number in the Nigerian criminal code, apparently.

Anyway, I’ve not seen this particular version, and so I provide a full copy of all the spelling, syntax and language mistakes for your information and enjoyment.

From: Mrs. Marisa Smith <[email protected]>

Subject: Pls Reply

Attention: Sir,

I am Mrs. Marisa Smith the Chief Protocol of Independent Corrupt Practises Commission (ICPC) in alliance with economic community of West African states (ECOWAS) with head Office here in Nigeria. We have been working towards the eradication of fraudsters and scam Artists in Western part of Africa With the help of United States Government and the United Nations.

We have been able to track down so many of this scam artist in various parts of west African countries which includes (NIGERIA, REPUBLIC OF BENIN, TOGO, GHANA CAMEROUN AND SENEGAL) and they are all in our custody here in Lagos Nigeria. We have been able to recover so much money from these scam artists. The United Nation Anti-crime commission and the United State Government have ordered the money recovered from the Scammers to be shared among 100 Lucky people around the globe.

This email is been directed to you because your email address was found in one of the scam Artists file and computer hard disk in our custody here in Nigeria. You are therefore being compensated with $2.5 Million Dollars. We have also arrested all those who claim that they are barristers, bank officials, Lottery Agents who has money for transfer or want you to be the next of kin of such funds which do not exist.

Since your name appeared among the lucky beneficiaries who will receive a compensation of $2.5 Million, we have arranged your payment through our swift card payment centre. The swift card ATM has been specially prepared to enable you withdraw your money in any ATM machine in any part of the world, but the maximum is Five Thousand Dollars Only per day.

For proper execution of this project i decide to handle payment myself. Provide the information bellow to enable him prepare your ATM Master Debit Card including your Pin to access it.

1)YOUR FULL NAME.

2)YOUR RECEIVING ADDRESS.

3)YOUR TELEPHONE NUMBER.

4)YOUR PROFESSION.

5)YOUR ID/AGE

Best Regard,

Mrs. Marisa Smith

Further Reading

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A Military Way out of The Credit Crunch

Willie Sutton

Willie Sutton

Willie Sutton

In a curious parallel with the Great Depression when many millions lost their homes and money, I’m reminded about the phrase reputedly said by a USA bank robber of the time, and how it could equally well be applied to our current predicament….

When asked “Mr Sutton, why do you rob banks?”, he is supposed to have said;

…..because that’s where the money is.

More likely as a real attributed saying is this one, about his gun-toting while robbing banks;

You can’t rob a bank on charm and personality

Both quotes I’ll come to later…(SP)

Brown, Obama and the Western Dilemma about ‘Business as Usual’ (BAU)

The trouble with a return to the ‘BAU scenario is that all the old bad habits will return along with an even faster return to a fossil-carbon dominated society with all the climate problems in tow.  Today on the Number 10 website, toothless PM Brown of the UK is re-iterating his mantra of the past few months;

Banks must start lending again – PM

Of course, we own the banks and in reality there’s absolutely nothing to stop them.  The ideal solution out of the ‘lack of credit’ predicament has been passed over, unfortunately….

The best solution would have been to give every citizen of the UK, every man, woman and child, an equal share of the money that’s been used to bail out the corrupt and incompetent bankers.

  • Some people would have frittered it – just like the bankers!  But those people would stimulate the economy with their spending.  And the receivers of the cash all cash up, in banks!
  • Some would use it to pay off loans and mortgages – so the banks would get the money anyway and those people would have more to spend.
  • The parents of minors would have had to invest it in their name, in the banks… –  so the banks get the money again, ready to lend to businesses etc.

As I say, the point has passed, but it would have been a win-win situation, unlike now where we still have to pay, both in loans and in higher future taxes.  The only winners are the incompetent and crooked bankers and other money spivs.

Which brings me back to,

A Military Way out of The Credit Crunch

Because all of the missing money, the money that we’ve had to give to the banks to pay for their losses, it’s all had to have gone somewhere.  Like the Zimbabwe ladies in the news today or the wealthy Nigerians of my wife’s experience; like crooked Stanford and Madoff, the money has gone offshore.  To places like The Cayman’s, Lichtenstein, Luxembourg, Bermuda, Belize, Switzerland.

A much better, less bloodthirsty and legal use of our supposed military might in the West would be to retrieve all our stolen money (don’t forget the Enron billions, Lazards etc etc etc) and pay a nice visit to these offshore havens, packed to the gizzards with siphoned off tax and stolen drug money as well as the proceeds of the biggest frauds the world has ever seen.  As Willie Sutton said;

You can’t rob a bank on charm and personality

If Regan could manage Grenada I’m sure Obama and Brown have a mandate to pay a visit to some or preferably all of the above.  You know it makes sense and it’s the only sure way to inject some money into the system.

It’s certainly cheaper than alienating yet more Pakistanis pursuing the ghostly Taliban all over the world.

Conclusion

Of course, all the world’s leaders have probably got their stashes tied up in these places.  Berlesconi comes to mind…..   So I can’t see it happening although it’s an easy, do-able solution to the recent financial meltdown.

To re-quote Willie Sutton – why go and raid the Cayman Island banks and Lichtenstein etc?

because that’s where the money is!!!

And it’s OUR money!!!

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Eleven Men Die and World Sighs with Relief

Taj operation finally over, casualty figure very high – reports NDTV.com

php9OgG9i_1_

Mumbai Gunman

Justifiably, the world sighs with relief. Some are glad that the shooting has stopped. Some are glad the killers are dead.

Currently, the dead number ~200, the killers, 11.  A ratio of ~9:1 killed per killer.

Jokela_school_shooter_1_

Jokela school shooter

In recent years there seem to have been more and more pointless killings.  America has had it’s all too familiar share of mad schoolchildren who go beserk.  Last year Finland had Pekka-Eric Auvinen in the Jokela High School Massacre who killed 9 – remarkably the same killing ratio.  The UK has had Hungerford and Dunblane.

The truth is that there are always massacres.  Maybe they are just reported better nowadays.  Here’s a (remarkably incomplete) list.

Just Foreign Policy Iraqi Death Estimator
However, spurious number slinging aside, wayward bombs dropped by the USA recently against largely Muslim targets in IRAQ and Afghanistan/Pakistan have killed the same numbers, and usually, the American pilots fly safely home.  Over the years, thousands have died this way.

In this context, the actions of the Mumbai killers do not look so mad.  In their eyes, they see their action as retribution – a continuation of the Jewish principle of “an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth”.  (an aside:  No matter how much the Muslim world loathes the Jewish world, their innate justice is remarkably similar – today’s news for instance, is that an Iranian Islamic court is going to blind a man who blinded a woman – literally, an eye for an eye.)

Nichiren Buddhism’s view on this is consistent and unequivocal.  Simply, that all human lives are precious, even the killers.  It’s simply the law of cause and effect applied to the real world using real people’s lives and experiences.

Cause and effect is simple.  The cowardly killers made the cause – now they are dead.  For them it was easy as there was no-one to fight back, and when an armed response arose, they’d be pretty certain to die quickly…true cowards…

But very little will really change, especially in Mumbai.  The world has selective memory.  Since 2001 there have been huge bomb atrocities in Mumbai, Delhi and elsewhere which have killed the same amount of people as this latest gun battle.  And that’s just India.  (an aside: We notice now and we are bothered because it’s very public and rich westerners are involved this time  –  300 people have also been murdered today in Nigeria – did you notice? )

In other words, the killers can keep killing, themselves and others, but there is a natural order of things that is very hard to change.  The world did not change because of the previous attacks. If it had, the killers, if they have truly honourable motives would have stopped the killing?  Wouldn’t they?

So When or How will the Killing Stop?

The people of Northern Ireland finally realised this futility 10 years ago.  So former enemies are now partners in peace.  The country is slowly changing to reflect this, although it may be later generations who will finally reap the benefits and take down the wall.  The huge death toll in the province and elsewhere affected a lot of lives….

Another effect (by design) of the killers is that of widening divisions and increasing hatred.  But as in Northern Ireland, eventually even this hatred runs out of steam.

The USA is also reaping the effect of the causes it’s making.  It’s reliance on high-tech mass-killing methods to protect it’s own armed forces from harm is actually fuelling resentment in the local affected populations that will last for centuries.  And the thing is, in the end the men on the ground are harmed just as much anyway by the guerilla tactics of roadside bombs from an angry and energised local population.  It’s how the US/UK has lost most men.

Truly, cause and effect.

Hopefully, the failed days of Bush’s “shock and awe” will change to ones of building bridges under the new president Obama.  The rippling effects of peace will then reflect back to America and it can assume it’s self-styled role of a beacon of enlightenment.

The angry men who fuel the excesses of people like the Mumbai killers will then be ridiculed for what they really are – sad, angry despots, living to have an excuse to deal death.

An example of this shift was in Northern Ireland this very month.  Loyalist Michael Stone was found guilty of attempted murder (he was a convicted murderer anyway, but was released as part of the peace process).  Once (in)famous throughout the land, hardly anyone bothered to turn up in court – he’s just too boring and people don’t want the killing anymore and certainly don’t wish to hear his meandering gibberish.

It was like closing the final chapter on a dreadful book. (added 8 Dec 2008: 6 times murderer Stone gets locked up for 16 years! )

And what of the one remaining gunman?  What does Buddhism say?

If verifiably true, the man has done wrong.  Cause and Effect means he will suffer as he’s disrespected human life in the most profound sense – he’s killed.  Cause and effect is immediate.

However, in the film “The Bird Man of Alcatraz“, Burt Lancaster, the multiple killer, is eventually rehabilitated into a world of peace.  Self acknowledgement of his evil acts is part of it.  But time cannot be unwound, so the effects of his killing actions last for a very long time.  That is, society has it’s backlash.

The Mumbai killer may or may not reveal his Buddha nature, but even if he does, the negative effects he generated will linger, dependant on the cause he originally made.

In this respect, the film of the Bird Man, is a view of how we’d like Robert Stroud to have been.  The real Bird Man, by all accounts, was a complete twat who continued all his life to make bad causes and suffered the bad effects as a consequence!

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George Bush continues to say “Do as I say, not as I do” on Trade as Industry Falters.

Yay!  Today, 15 Nov 2008, with only a few weeks of his tenure as US President left to go, he still can’t stop saying one thing and doing the other.

Bush warns over ‘protectionism’ is the news today.  This is at the Washington meeting of 20 countries, the G20, which represent 85% of the global economy, apparently.

This would be all fine and dandy but let’s cast our minds back to 2001, just after he got in first time….

And now cast our minds back to when he got in for his second term in 2004….

  • CBI chief chides Bush over US protectionism – 5 Nov 2004

These few are just a selection of articles on the now carefully forgotten mantra of “protecting US jobs” etc.  They contain a plethora of protectionist tariffs that the Bush administration has erected over the years.  I myself got some experience of this as the EU has a counter tariff for cloth and other imports from the US, even now, as we speak.

Now it’s all “must have free trade” while at the same time propping up private enterprise companies (banks etc) to the tune of “we must protect the economy”.

The Big Question: Why is General Motors in such trouble, and can it be saved?

Coupled with this double-speak, the latest news from the USA that’s just dawning on folk (but has been carefully muffled by the concept that it’s all the fault of the credit crunch ), is that since this key year above, 2004, General Motors (GM) has frittered away $73 billion!  They’ve never made a profit since 2004!!!

Now how can this be the fault of the credit crunch?  That didn’t start until last year..   :-?

The newsgroups and blogs are filling up with commentary that it’s all the fault of unionised labour that the GM, Ford etc cars are un-competetive.  Er… no!  Their prices are close to Japanese & European, on a marque type comparison.   :-)

The trouble is that they don’t make good, small, mass-production vehicles.  And, like all good shop-keepers will tell you;

If it isn’t in the shop, you can’t sell it!   8-O

This is the key to the US car industry’s problems.  They don’t make what people want to buy!  I’ve mentioned it several times on my pages over the past year.

The US worker is like any other – they just want a job.  The US creativity, when unleashed,  is fantastic.  The problem is purely from senior management, content in their bubble world with no real financial worries, unlike the rest of us.  Their stasis and stagnation in the face of a world of rapid change beggars belief!

  • Q. Why didn’t the stock and shareholders sack them?
  • A. Because  most shares are owned by the big banks and financial institutions that have caused the credit crunch – that’s why!
  • Q. Why aren’t the banks etc penalised and their senior managers purged if they are so crap?
  • A. Because we need firm, experienced hands at the tiller…

You couldn’t make it up, could you!

Anyway,  you believe Bush if you want to.  It could be, that for the first time, as he has nothing to lose now, (especially a presidency or respect ), that he is actually speaking as he feels things should go.  If so, it’s good.  If not, his words are just like confetti now, if they weren’t already.

This article by Prof. Jonathan C. Carlson has some good reading on the benefits of free trade, especially from the viewpoint of “emerging economies” as they are now called.  These are Carlson’s key points below, about the positive impact of international trade for developing nations:

  • Removal of trade barriers lowers prices, raising the real value of the incomes of the poor.
  • Removal of trade barriers abroad opens markets and increases prices at which exporters can sell goods.
  • Foreign investment brings new jobs.
  • Foreign investment brings new technology and new capital to improve productivity.
  • Foreign investment also breaks the monopoly of local capitalists, who otherwise can utilize their monopoly position to exploit the poor.
  • Investment and trade liberalization, by opening markets and raising productivity, contribute positively to economic growth and increase the demand for labor by firms that are expanding to export, firms that are newly investing and local firms that supply inputs to the new and expanded companies.

Against these must be weighed the not inconsequential potential for environmental and social degradation that occurs in regions of low levels of law provision and enforcement.  I’m thinking that a particularly good example of this is the poisonous metal leachings from computer recycling run by “slave” ganger bosses in Nigeria and elsewhere.  Things like this are serious.  The (often onerous) laws we have in the West are the result of eliminating centuries of such exploitation.

After all, there’s no point in having the economic benefit of a job if you’re dead from Arsenic poisoning by the time you’re 25!

The challenge obviously, is to have the economic benefits world-wide of free trade without the degradation of peoples and resources.   This is something that the West has spectacularly failed to do so far.  Large parts of China are metal and plastic cesspits.  Poisons are in common foodstuffs.

Action is clearly needed on all these things.  Free trade, while good, is not enough.

While reading recently about the famous Bretton-Woods agreement that started the World Bank & IMF,  I found out that the UK representative, JM Keynes had proposed one world reserve currency, which he called bancor.  This was rejected, the dollar became supreme, then came off gold, then all financial restraints were removed and now we have the Credit Crunch!

How different it could have all been with one, united, currency!

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