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Germany Has Recovered A Paltry 5 Tons Of Gold From The NY Fed After One Year | Zero Hedge

Germany Has Recovered A Paltry 5 Tons Of Gold From The NY Fed After One Year | Zero Hedge.

On December 24, we posted an update on Germany’s gold repatriation process: a year after the Bundesbank announced its stunning decision, driven by Zero Hedge revelations, to repatriate 674 tons of gold from the New York Fed and the French Central Bank, it had managed to transfer a paltry 37 tons. This amount represents just 5% of the stated target, and was well below the 84 tons that the Bundesbank would need to transport each year to collect the 674 tons ratably over the 8 year interval between 2013 and 2020. The release of these numbers promptly angered Germans, and led to the rise of numerous allegations that the reason why the transfer is taking so long is that the gold simply is not in the possession of the offshore custodians, having been leased, or worse, sold without any formal or informal announcement. However, what will certainly not help mute “conspiracy theorists” is today’s update from today’s edition of Die Welt, in which we learn that only a tiny 5 tons of gold were sent from the NY Fed. The rest came from Paris.

As Welt states, “Konnten die Amerikaner nicht mehr liefern, weil sie die bei der Federal Reserve of New York eingelagerten gut 1500 Tonnen längst verscherbelt haben?” Or, in English, did the US sell Germany’s gold? Maybe. The official explanation was as follows: “The Bundesbank explained [the low amount of US gold] by saying that the transports from Paris are simpler and therefore were able to start quickly.” Additionally, the Bundesbank had the “support” of the BIS “which has organized more gold shifts already for other central banks and has appropriate experience – only after months of preparation and safety could transports start with truck and plane.” That would be the same BIS that in 2011 lent out a record 632 tons of gold…

Going back to the main explanation, we wonder: how exactly is a gold transport “simpler” because it originates in Paris and not in New York? Or does the NY Fed gold travel by car along the bottom of the Atlantic, and is French gold transported by a Vespa scooter out of the country?

Supposedly, there was another reason: “The bullion stored in Paris already has the elongated shape with beveled edges of the “London Good Delivery” standard. The bars in the basement of the Fed on the other hand have a previously common form. They will need to be remelted [to LGD standard]. And the capacity of smelters are just limited.”

So… New York Fed-held gold is not London Good Delivery, and there is a bottleneck in remelting capacity? You don’t say…

Furthermore, Welt goes on to “debunk” various “conspiracy websites” that the reason why the gold is being melted is not to cover up some shortage (and to scrap serial numbers), but that the gold is exactly the same gold as before. Finally, to silences all skeptics, the Bundesbank says that “there is no reason for complaint – the weight and purity of the gold bars were consistent with the books match.” In conclusion, Welt reports that in 2014 “larger transport volumes” can be expected from New York: between 30 and 50 tons.

Here we would be remiss to not point out that the reason why the German people and the Bundesbank have every reason to be skeptical is that as Zero Hedge reported exclusively in November 2012, before the Buba’s shocking repatriation announcement and was the reason for the escalation in lack of faith between central banks, it was the Fed and the Bank of England who in 1968 knowingly sent Germany “bad delivery” gold.  Which is why we have a feeling that the pace of gold transportation will certainly not accelerate until such time as the German people much more vocally demand an immediate transit of all their gold held at the New York Fed: after all, it’s there right – surely the Bundesbank can be trusted to melt the gold (if any exists of course) into London Good Delivery or whatever format it wants.

Unless of course, the gold isn’t there…

From November 9, 2012:

Bank Of England To The Fed: “No Indication Should, Of Course, Be Given To The Bundesbank…”

Over the past several years, the German people, for a variety of justified reasons, have expressed a pressing desire to have their central bank perform a test, verification, validation or any other assay, of the official German gold inventory, which at 3,395 tonnes is the second highest in the world, second only to the US. We have italicized the word official because this representation is merely on paper: the problem arises because no member of the general population, or even elected individuals, have been given access to observe this gold. The problem is exacerbated when one considers that a majority of the German gold is held offshore, primarily in the vaults of the New York Fed, and at the Bank of England – the two historic centers of central banking activity in the post World War 2 world.

Recently, the topic of German gold resurfaced following the disclosure that early on in the Eurozone creation process, the Bundesbank secretly withdrew two-thirds of its gold, or 940 tons, from London in 2000, leaving just 500 tons with the Bank of England. As we made it very clear, what was most odd about this event, is that the Bundesbank did something it had every right to do fully in the open: i.e., repatriate what belongs to it for any number of its own reasons – after all the German central bank is only accountable to its people (or so the myth goes), in deep secrecy. The question was why it opted for this stealthy transfer.

This immediately prompted rampant speculation within various media outlets, the most fanciful of which, of course, being that the Bundesbank never had any gold to begin with and has been masking the absence all along. The problem with such speculation is that, while it may be 100% correct and accurate, there has been not a shred of hard evidence to prove it. As a result, it is merely relegated to the echo chamber periphery of “serious media” whose inhabitants are already by and large convinced that all gold in the world is tungsten, lack of actual evidence to validate such a claim be damned (just like a chart of gold spiking or plunging is not evidence that a central bank signed the trade ticket, ordering said move), and in the process delegitimizing any fact-basedinvestigations that attempt to debunk, using hard evidence, the traditional central banker narrative that the gold is there and accounted for.

And hard evidence, or better yet a paper trail of inconsistencies, is absolutely paramount when juxtaposing the two most powerful forces of our times: i) the central banking-led status quo (which isde facto the banker-led oligarchy whose primary purpose in the past several centuries has been to accumulate as much as possible of the hard asset-based fruits of people’s labor, who toil in exchange for “money” created out of thin air – a process which could be described as not quite voluntary slavery, but the phrase would certainly suffice), and ii) “everyone else”, especially when “everyone else” still believes in the supremacy of democratic forces, accountability, and an impartial legal system (three pillars of modern society which over the past 4 years we have experienced time and again have been nothing but mirages). Because without hard evidence, not only is the case of the people against central bankers non-existent, even if conducted in a kangaroo court co-opted by the banker-controlled status quo, it becomes laughable with every iteration of progressively more unsubstantiated accusations against the central banking cartels.

Finally, when it comes to cold, hard facts, which expose central banks in misdeed, even the great central banks have to be silent silent, as otherwise the overt perversion of justice will blow up the mirage that modern society lives in a democratic, laws-based world will be torn upside down.

And while others engage in click-baiting using grotesque hypotheses of grandure without any actual investigation, reporting or error and proof-checking to build up hype and speculation, which promptly fizzles and in the process desensitizes the general public and those actually undecided and/or on the fences about what truly goes on behind the scenes, Zero Hedge travelled (metaphorically) in space – to London, or specifically the Bank of England Archives – and in time, to May 1968 to be precise.

While there we dug up a certain memo, coded C43/323 in the BOE archives, official title “GOLD AND FOREIGN EXCHANGE OFFICE FILE: FEDERAL RESERVE BANK OF NEW YORK (FRBNY) – MISCELLANEOUS”, dated May 31, 1968, written by a certain Mr. Robeson addressed to the BOE’s Roy Bridge as well as its Chief Cashier, and whose ultimate recipient is Charles Coombs who at the time was the manager of the open market account at the Fed, responsible for Fed operations in the gold and FX markets.

This memo, more than any of the other spurious and speculative accusation about Buba’s golden hoard, should disturb German citizens, and of course the Bundesbank (assuming it was not already aware of its contents), as the memo lays out, without any shadow of doubt, that the BOE and the Fed, effectively conspired to feed the Bundesbank due gold bars that were of substantially subpar quality on at least one occasion in the period during the Bretton-Woods semi-gold standard (which ended with Nixon in August 1971).

The facts:  

At least two central banks have conspired on at least one occasion to provide the Bundesbank with what both banks knew was “bad delivery” gold – the convertible reserve currency under the Bretton Woods system, or in other words, to defraud – amounting to 172 barsThe “bad delivery” occured even as official gold refiners had warned that the quality of gold emanating from the US Assay Office was consistently below standard, and which both the BOE and the Fed were aware of. Instead of addressing the issue of declining gold quality and purity, the banks merely covered up the refiners’ complaints 

It is this that the Bundesbank, the German government, and the German people should be focusing on. If in the process this means completely ridiculing the Buba’s “she doth protest too much” defense strategy that what is happening in the media is a “phantom debate” as per Andreas Dobret’s recent words, so be it. In fact, one may be well advised to ignore anything Buba has said on this matter, because in attempting to hyperbolize the matter out of irrelevancy, the Buba is now cornered and will have no choice now but to explain just what the true gold content of the gold even in its possession is, let alone that which is allocated to the Buba account 50 feet below sea level, underneath the infamous building on Liberty 33.

Full May 1968 memo from the BOE to the NY Fed: highlights ours:

MR. BRIDGE

THE CHIEF CASHIER

U.S. Assay Office Gold Bars

1.  We have from time to time had occasion to draw the Americans’ attention of the poor standards of finish of U.S. Assay Office bars. In addition in 1961 we passed on to them comments from Johnson Matthey to the effect that spectrographic examination did not support the claimed assay on one bar they had so tested (although they would not by normal processes have challenged the assayand that impurities in the bar included iron which caused some material to be retained on the sides of crucible after pouring.

2. Recently, Johnson Matthey have put 172 “bad delivery” U.S. Assay Office bars into good delivery form for account of the Deutsche Bundesbank. These bars formed part of recent shipments by the Federal Reserve Bank to provide gold in London in repayment of swaps with the Bundesbank. The out-turn of the re-melting showed a loss in fine ounces terms four times greater than the gross weight loss. Asked to comment Johnson Matthey have indicated verbally that:-

(a) the mixing of “melt” bars of differing assays in one “pot” could produce a result which might be a contributing factor to a heavier loss in fine weight but they did not think this would be substantial ;

(b) a variation of .0001 in assay between different assayers is an extremely common phenomenon;

(c) over a long period of years they had had experience of unsatisfactory U.S. assays

3. It is not, however, possible to say that the U.S. assays were at fault because Johnson Matthey did not test any of the individual bars before putting them into the pot.

4. The Federal Reserve Bank have informed the Bundesbank that adjustments for differences in weight and refining charges will be reimbursed by the U.S.Treasury.

5. No indication should, of course, be given to the Bundesbank, or any other central bank holder of U.S. bars, as to the refiner’s views on them. The peculiarity of the out-turn will be known to the Bundesbank: it has so far occasioned no comment.

6. We should draw the attention of the Federal to the discrepancy in this (and any similar subsequent such) result and add simply that the refiners have made no formal comment but have indicate that, although very small differences in assay are not uncommon, their experience with U.S. Assay Office bars has not been satisfactory.

7. We hold 3,909 U.S. Assay Office bars for H.M.T. in London (in addition to the New York holding of 8,630 bars). After the London gold market was reopened in 1954 we test assayed the bars of certain assayers to ensure that pre-war standards were being maintained. It might be premature to set up arrangements now for sample test assays of U.S. Assay Office bars but if it appeared likely that the present discontent of the refiners might crystalise into formal complain we should certainly need to do this.  In the meantime I would recommend no further action.

31st May 1968

P.W.R.R.

To summarize: Bank of England discovers discrepancies with US Assay Office gold bars, notifies the NY Fed that its gold bars have major “bad delivery” issues, but, and this is the punchline, on this occasion, we’ll keep it quiet, because the Bundesbank got these bars. This is merely one documented assay occasion: one can imagine that of the hundreds of thousands of gold bars in official circulation, the “good delivery” quality of bars outside of the US, and perhaps BOE, official holdings has progressively declined over the decades of Bretton Woods. One can also only imagine what has happened to all those “good delivery” bars currently held by the Fed as custodian at the NY Fed. Literally: imagine. Because there is no way to check what the real gold consistency of these gold bars is, and whether the refiners found ongoing future inconsistencies with “good delivery” standards of bars handed off to other “non-core” central banks. And, yes, without further evidence the above is merely speculation.

As to the remaining relevant facts: the US ran out of good delivery gold in March 1968 and only had coin bars remaining. Which is why it closed the gold pool and went to a two-tier price system. The Bundesbank went on to cover some of the outstanding gold debts of the Fed to the gold pool. Subsequently, the US then did several deals with the BOC to get a substantial amount of gold to pay back the Bundesbank which was sent over to England from March until June 1968. One can, again, only speculate on the quality of said gold. The Fed then created unsettled accounts to account for these transfers between itself and the Buba.

In light of the above facts and evidence, one can see why the Buba is doing all in its power to avoid the spotlight being shone on the purity of its gold inventory: after all the last thing the German central banks would want is someone to go through the publicly available archived literature, to put two and two together, and figure out that it does not take one massive “rehypothecation” (see “to Corzine”) event for German gold credibility to be impaired: all it takes is death from a thousand micro dilutions over the decades to get the same end result. Because chipping away one ounce here, one ounce there for years and years and years, ultimately adds up to a lot.

We eagerly look forward to the Buba’s next iteration of self-defense. We can only hope that this one does not include a reference to a “phantom debate”, to “East German terrorist Simon Gruber” or toGoldfinger, as it will merely further destroy any remaining credibility the Bundesbank may have left in this, or any other, matter.

Shots Fired At German Ambassador’s Home In Athens | Zero Hedge

Shots Fired At German Ambassador’s Home In Athens | Zero Hedge.

This morning we were treated to the usual stupifying comments from Greek leadership that “Greece won’t need more loans,” and will “start becoming a normal country,” because the Greek ‘recovery’ is “built on solid foundations.” However, it appears the public-at-large is not so happy as the BBC reports shots were fired at the German ambassador’s residence in Athens. Samaras said Greeks “have gone through hard times.” With over 60 bullets fired, it seems the someone is upset that their union overlords won’t lift those hard times anytime soon…

Via The BBC,

Shots were fired at the German ambassador’s residence in Athens early on Monday, without causing injury.

Bullets were found embedded in the steel gate, Greece’s Kathimerini news website reports.

Ambassador Wolfgang Dold’s residence is in the Greek capital’s Halandri district. The raid took place at around 03:30 local time (01:30 GMT).

It is not clear who the attackers were. Germany’s insistence on budget cuts has caused much resentment in Greece.

At least 60 spent bullet casings were found at the scene of the attack. Police say the bullets came from two Kalashnikov assault rifles.

So far no-one has admitted carrying out the attack.

In a message to the unidentified perpetrators, Mr Dold said “whoever is responsible for this act: you will not succeed in disrupting the close and friendly relations of our two countries”.

He was in the residence when the shots were fired.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said Berlin took the attack “very seriously” and “nothing, absolutely nothing, can justify such an attack”.

The Greek government called it a “cowardly terrorist action” aimed at undermining Greece’s six-month presidency of the EU, which begins on 1 January.

Germany is the biggest lender involved in the Greek bailout – a 240bn-euro (£200bn; $331bn) rescue for the debt-laden country that started in 2010.

The bailout conditions require Greece to rein in public spending, and that has meant hardship for Greeks who have lost their jobs or who now pay more for essential services.

In 1999 the ambassador’s residence was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade, in an attack claimed by the now defunct radical left-wing group November 17.

 

GCHQ and NSA targeted charities, Germans, Israeli PM and EU chief | UK news | The Guardian

GCHQ and NSA targeted charities, Germans, Israeli PM and EU chief | UK news | The Guardian.

Edward Snowden composite with GCHQ and fibre optics

The details of GCHQ and NSA targets are the latest revelations from documents leaked by Edward Snowden. Photograph: Guardian

British and American intelligence agencies had a comprehensive list ofsurveillance targets that included the EU’s competition commissioner, German government buildings in Berlin and overseas, and the heads of institutions that provide humanitarian and financial help to Africa, top-secret documents reveal.

The papers show GCHQ, in collaboration with America’s National Security Agency (NSA), was targeting organisations such as the United Nations development programme, the UN’s children’s charity Unicef andMédecins du Monde, a French organisation that provides doctors and medical volunteers to conflict zones. The head of the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) also appears in the documents, along with text messages he sent to colleagues.

The latest disclosures will add to Washington’s embarrassment after the heavy criticism of the NSA when it emerged that it had been tapping the mobile phone of the German chancellor, Angela Merkel.

One GCHQ document, drafted in January 2009, makes clear that the agencies were targeting an email address listed as belonging to another important American ally – the “Israeli prime minister”. Ehud Olmert was in office at the time.

Three further Israeli targets appeared on GCHQ documents, including another email address understood to have been used to send messages between the then Israeli defence minister, Ehud Barak, and his chief of staff, Yoni Koren.

Prominent names that appear in the GCHQ documents include Joaquín Almunia, a Spaniard who is vice-president of the European commissionwith responsibility for competition policy.

Britain’s targeting of Germany may also prove awkward for the prime minister, David Cameron: in October, he endorsed an EU statementcondemning NSA spying on world leaders, including Merkel.

They have both been in Brussels, attending an EU summit that concludes on Friday.

The names and details are the latest revelations to come from documents leaked by the whistleblower Edward Snowden. They provoked a furious reaction from the European commission, Almunia and others on the target lists.

• The commission said the disclosures “are unacceptable and deserve our strongest condemnation. This is not the type of behaviour that we expect from strategic partners, let alone from our own member states.” Almunia said he was “very upset” to discover his name was on GCHQdocuments.

• Leigh Daynes, UK executive director of Médecins du Monde, said he was “bewildered by these extraordinary allegations of secret surveillance. Our doctors, nurses and midwives are not a threat to national security. There is absolutely no reason for our operations to be secretly monitored.”

• Another target, Nicolas Imboden, the head of an NGO that provides help to African countries, said the spying on him was “clearly economic espionage and politically motivated”.

• Human Rights Watch, Privacy International and Big Brother Watch condemned the targeting.

• Labour said the committee that oversees GCHQ should be given extra powers.

The disclosures reflect the breadth of targets sought by the agencies, which goes far beyond the desire to intercept the communications of potential terrorists and criminals, or diplomats and officials from hostile countries. Asked about this activity, a spokesman for GCHQ said it was “longstanding policy that we do not comment on intelligence matters”, but the official maintained the agency “takes its obligations under the law very seriously”.

The new information is published after a joint investigation by the Guardian, the German news magazine Der Spiegel and the New York Times. According to documents, the targeting efforts involved programmes run from GCHQ’s listening post near the small Cornish seaside resort of Bude. This is a key listening facility that receives substantial funding from the NSA to undertake shared transatlantic surveillance operations.

Among other activities, the base was tasked with monitoring satellite communications between Europe and Africa, and the papers show that Bude tested the value of new “carriers” used by telecoms companies to judge whether they would be worth intercepting.

According to documents, dated from 2008 to 2011, a unit at Bude did this by testing samples of data to see whether surveillance targets already on GCHQ and NSA databases were making use of the new connections.

If GCHQ analysts identified a carrier they thought could be useful, they would be asked: “Can this carrier be tasked on collection system?”

Providing more permanent surveillance would often depend on whetherGCHQ had suitable software and, if not, whether it was possible to upgrade systems to make it possible.

Almunia is in charge of major anti-monopoly investigations and approving mergers of companies with significant presence in the EU. He has been involved in a long-running investigation into Google over complaints about the company’s alleged stranglehold on online advertising. He has also clashed with Google and Microsoft over privacy concerns and was prominent in the EU’s response to the global financial crisis.

Surveillance on such a senior EU official with a major role in economic affairs is bound to alarm other European nations, and raise concerns as to whether intelligence produced from Almunia or others is shared with the US – the NSA has a number of personnel at the base in Bude and contributes millions of pounds to its budget.

Another target was the French defence and logistics giant Thales Group, which is part-owned by the French government.

In all, communications from more than 60 countries were targeted in this particular operation, with other names listed in the GCHQ documents including Mohamed Ibn Chambas, the current African Union-United Nations joint special representative for Darfur, as well as multiple African heads of state.

Imboden, from the non-profit Ideas Centre in Geneva, and Solomon Asamoah, deputy head of the Africa Finance Corporation, also appeared on GCHQ’s lists.

The documents do not give any insight into why GCHQ deemed them worthy of surveillance.

In 2009, Chambas was president of Ecowas. He had been closely involved in efforts to bring peace to Liberia, and GCHQ picked up text messages he sent while in the country to receive an award.

One message read: “Thanks Kwame. Glad to know all is well. Am in Liberia for receive National Award … inde celebration.” A second added: “What machine gun sounds? Am in Gbanga former HQ of Charles Taylor …”

Offices operated by the UN development programme, which administers financial relief to poor nations, and of the World Health Organisation were also among listed targets.

The targeting of German government buildings may prove the biggest political headache for the UK. The documents show GCHQ targeting German government networks in Berlin, and official communications between Germany and Georgia and Germany and Turkey. Germany’s embassy in Rwanda was also a target.

The papers seen by the Guardian do not disclose the extent of any surveillance or for how long any collection took place.

However, each individual or group had a specific ID number in the agency’s “target knowledge base”. This indicates they had been a deliberate target of surveillance efforts, rather than accidentally caught in a dragnet.

Unlike its US counterpart, GCHQ is entitled to engage in spying relating to economic matters, but only if it is linked to national security issues.

The 1994 Intelligence and Security Act says the agency can work “in the interests of national security, with particular reference to the defence and foreign policies of Her Majesty’s government; in the interests of the economic wellbeing of the United Kingdom; and in support of the prevention and the detection of serious crime”. However, critics have repeatedly called for a proper definition of “national security”, and raised questions about what should be permitted to protect “economic wellbeing” beyond the need to help UK companies defend themselves against the theft of intellectual property or from cyber-attacks.

Documents show GCHQ has also been keen to break into global roaming exchanges (known as GRXs), which are centres that handle routing international mobile calls to the appropriate countries and phone networks. Belgacom, which Der Spiegel revealed this year was the victim of GCHQ hacking efforts, is one such international exchange.

One 2010 presentation referring to the agency’s efforts against GRXs went on to note that “diplomatic targets from all nations have an MO [modus operandi] of using smartphones” and added the agency had “exploited this use at the G20 meetings last year”. The Guardian in Junerevealed GCHQ had engaged in extensive surveillance efforts against G20 delegates in 2009, including in order to secure advantages in trade talks and bilaterals.

On Monday, the Guardian, Der Spiegel and the New York Times jointly approached GCHQ for comment. The agency would not go into any details but said: “One of the purposes for which GCHQ may be authorised to intercept communications is where it is necessary for the purpose of safeguarding the economic wellbeing of the UK.” However, the code of practice made clear this had to be “directly related to state security. Interception under this purpose is categorically not about industrial espionage.”

The NSA said: “As we have previously said, we do not use our foreign intelligence capabilities to steal the trade secrets of foreign companies on behalf of – or give intelligence we collect to – US companies to enhance their international competitiveness or increase their bottom line. The United States collects foreign intelligence just as many other governments do.

“The intelligence community’s efforts to understand economic systems and policies, and monitor anomalous economic activities, are critical to providing policymakers with the information they need to make informed decisions that are in the best interest of our national security. As the administration also announced several months ago, the US government is undertaking a review of our activities around the world – looking at, among other issues, how we co-ordinate with our closest allies and partners.”

 

Edward Snowden Releases “A Manifesto For The Truth” | Zero Hedge

Edward Snowden Releases “A Manifesto For The Truth” | Zero Hedge. (source)

While Edward Snowden may be reviled at the top echelons of Western developed nations and is wanted in his native US on espionage charges for peeling back the curtain on how the gargantuan government machine truly works when it is not only engaged in chronic spying on anyone abroad, but worse, on its own people, the reality is that his whistleblowing revelations have done more to shift the narrative to the topic of dwindling individual liberties abused pervasively in the US and elsewhere, than anything else in recent years. And alongside that, have led to the first reform momentum of a system that is deeply broken. Which also happens to be the topic of a five-paragraph opinion piece he released today in German weekly Der Spiegel titled “A Manifesto For The Truth” in which he writes that his revelations have been useful and society will benefit from them and that he was therefore justified in revealing the methods and targets of the US secret service.

In the Op-Ed we read that “Instead of causing damage, the usefulness of the new public knowledge for society is now clear because reforms to politics, supervision and laws are being suggested.”

RT adds“Spying as a global problem requires global solutions, he said, stressing that “criminal surveillance programs” by secret services threaten open societies, individual privacy and freedom of opinion.

“Citizens have to fight against the suppression of information about affairs of essential importance for the public,” Snowden said in his five-paragraph manifesto. Hence, “those who speak the truth are not committing a crime.”
Even with the existence of mass surveillance, spying should not define politics, Snowden said.

We have a moral duty to ensure that our laws and values limit surveillance programs and protect human rights,” he wrote.

The type of persecution campaigns that governments started after being exposed, and threats of prosecution against journalists, who blew the whistle, were “a mistake” and did not “serve the public interest,” Snowden concluded.

But “at that time the public was not in a position to judge the usefulness of these revelations. People trusted that their governments would make the right decisions,” he said.

Needless to say, all of the above points are spot on, which is why one hopes that Snowden does not intend on returning to the US to defend himself with only truth and justice to lean on, because the US Judicial system is just as broken, if not more, as every other aspect of a tentacular government, intent on growing to even more epic proportions and silencing anyone and everyone who stands in its way.

 

Guest Post: Should Extremist Parties Be Banned? | Zero Hedge

Guest Post: Should Extremist Parties Be Banned? | Zero Hedge. (source)

Following the slaying of two members of Greece’s far-rght Golden-Dawn party (and wounding of a third) on Friday evening, the Greek government’s crackdown on the country’s ‘extremist’ party has revived a vexing question that seemed to have disappeared with the Cold War’s end: Is there a place within liberal democracies for apparently anti-democratic parties?

Via AP,

Police investigating the slaying of two members of the far-right Golden Dawn party and the wounding of a third say the gun used in the Friday evening attack had not been used in previous terrorist attacks.

The assailant fired 12 rounds from a Zastava Tokarev type semi-auto pistol, police say.

A police source, speaking on condition of anonymity because officers were not authorized to comment on the ongoing investigation, said Saturday that a video from a nearby security camera confirmed accounts from Golden Dawn lawmakers that the assailant started firing from 15 meters (yards) away and finished off his victims from point-blank range. The gunman fired at a fourth Golden Dawn member, who managed to enter a building unharmed.

One can’t help but get the sense their is a growing ‘instigation’ of more killing in Greece, which got us thinking of the following discussion…

Authored by Jan-Werner Mueller, originally posted at Project Syndicate,

Should Extremist Parties Be Banned?

To be sure, liberal democracies have felt threatened since communism collapsed in 1989 – but mostly by foreign terrorists, who tend not to form political parties and sit in these countries’ parliaments. So, should extremist parties that seek to compete within the democratic framework be outlawed, or would such a restriction on freedom of speech and association itself undermine this framework?

Above all, it is crucial that such decisions be entrusted to non-partisan institutions such as constitutional courts, not other political parties, whose leaders will always be tempted to ban their competitors. Unfortunately, the moves against Golden Dawn are mostly identified with the government’s interests, rather than being perceived as the result of careful, independent judgment.

On the face of it, democratic self-defense seems a legitimate goal. As US Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson (who was also the chief US prosecutor at Nuremburg) put it, the constitution is not “a suicide pact” – a sentiment echoed by the Israeli jurist Aharon Barak, who emphasized that “civil rights are not an altar for national destruction.”

But too much democratic self-defense can ultimately leave no democracy to defend. If the people really want to be done with democracy, who is to stop them? As another US Supreme Court justice, Oliver Wendell Holmes, put it, “if my fellow citizens want to go to Hell, I will help them. It’s my job.”

So it seems that democracies are damned if they ban and damned if they do not ban. Or, in the more elevated language of the twentieth century’s most influential liberal philosopher, John Rawls, this appears to be a “practical dilemma which philosophy alone cannot resolve.”

History offers no clear lessons, though many people like to think otherwise. In retrospect, it appears obvious that the Weimar Republic might have been saved had the Nazi Party been banned in time. Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s propaganda minister, famously gloated after the Nazis’ legal Machtergreifung (seizure of power): “It will always remain one of the best jokes of democracy that it provided its mortal enemies with the means through which it was annihilated.”

But a ban might not have halted the German people’s general disenchantment with liberal democracy, and an authoritarian regime still might have followed. Indeed, whereas West Germany banned a neo-Nazi party and the Communist Party in the 1950’s, some countries –particularly in Southern and Eastern Europe, where dictatorship came to be associated with the suppression of pluralism – have drawn precisely the opposite lesson about preventing authoritarianism. That is one reason why Greece, for example, has no legal provisions for banning parties.

The fact that Greece nonetheless is effectively trying to destroy Golden Dawn – the parliament just voted to freeze the party’s state funding – suggests that, in the end, most democracies will want to draw the line somewhere. But just where, exactly, should it be drawn?

For starters, it is important to recognize that the line needs to be clearly visible before extremist parties even arise. If the rule of law is to be upheld, democratic self-defense must not appear ad hoc or arbitrary. Thus the criteria for bans should be spelled out in advance.

One criterion that seems universally accepted is a party’s use, encouragement, or at least condoning of violence – as was evidently the case with Golden Dawn’s role in attacks on immigrants in Athens. There is less consensus about parties that incite hatred and are committed to destroying core democratic principles – especially because many extremist parties in Europe go out of their way to emphasize that they are not against democracy; on the contrary, they are fighting for “the people.”

But parties that seek to exclude or subordinate a part of “the people” – for example, legal immigrants and their descendants – are violating core democratic principles. Even if Golden Dawn – a neo-Nazi party in appearance and content – had not engaged in violence, its extreme anti-immigrant stance and its incitement of hatred at a moment of great social and economic turmoil would have made it a plausible candidate for a ban.

Critics warn of a slippery slope. Any disagreement with a government’s immigration policy, for example, might eventually be deemed “racist,” resulting in curtailment of freedom of speech.Something like the classic American standard – the speech in question must pose a “clear and present danger” of violence – is therefore essential. Marginal parties that are not connected to political violence and do not incite hatred should probably be left in peace – distasteful as their rhetoric may be.

But parties that are closer to assuming power are a different matter, even if banning them might automatically appear undemocratic (after all, they will already have deputies in parliaments). In one famous case, the European Court of Human Rights agreed with the banning of Turkey’s Welfare Party while it was the senior member of a governing coalition.

It is a myth that bans turn leaders of extremist parties into martyrs. Very few people can remember who led the postwar German neo-Nazis and Communists. Nor is it always the case that mainstream parties can cut off support for extremists by selectively coopting their complaints and demands. Sometimes this approach works, and sometimes it does not; but it always amounts to playing with fire.

Banning parties does not have to mean silencing citizens who are tempted to vote for extremists. Their concerns should be heard and debated; and sometimes banning is best combined with renewed efforts at civic education, emphasizing, for example, that immigrants did not cause Greece’s woes. True, such measures might come across as patronizing – but such forms of public engagement are the only way to avoid making anti-extremism look like extremism itself.

 

Plundering the planet: a report to the Club of Rome

Plundering the planet: a report to the Club of Rome. (FULL ARTICLE)

This is a text version of a talk I gave at the World Resource forum in Davos on Oct 07, 2013. For a more detailed description of the same subject, see this post on an earlier talk in Dresden.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is a pleasure to be here and my task today is to tell you about something that stands at the basis of everything we do: mineral resources. It it is the subject of a book that is the result of a research program sponsored by the Club of Rome and that has involved me and 16 co-authors. Here is the cover of  “the Plundered Planet.”
For the time being we have only the German version, we are working at the English one, but that will take some time – a few months. In any case, the title should be clear to you even if you don’t speak German and you can notice that we say “The Plundered Planet;” not “The Improved Planet”, or “The Developed Planet”. No, this is the concept: plundering. We have been acting with mineral resources as if we were pirates looting a captured galleon: grabbing everything we can, as fast as we can….

 

Stop the CRA Bullies From Ruining Canadian Lives | Karen Selick

Stop the CRA Bullies From Ruining Canadian Lives | Karen Selick.

 

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