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When a little birdie dropped the End Game memo through my window, its content was so explosive, so sick and plain evil, I just couldn't believe it.
The Memo confirmed every conspiracy freak’s fantasy: that in the late 1990s, the top US Treasury officials secretly conspired with a small cabal of banker big-shots to rip apart financial regulation across the planet. When you see 26.3 percent unemployment in Spain, desperation and hunger in Greece, riots in Indonesia and Detroit in bankruptcy, go back to this End Game memo, the genesis of the blood and tears.
The Treasury official playing the bankers’ secret End Game was Larry Summers. Today, Summers is Barack Obama’s leading choice for Chairman of the US Federal Reserve, the world’s central bank. If the confidential memo is authentic, then Summers shouldn’t be serving on the Fed, he should be serving hard time in some dungeon reserved for the criminally insane of the finance world.
The memo is authentic.
But what was the use of turning US banks into derivatives casinos if money would flee to nations with safer banking laws?
The answer conceived by the Big Bank Five: eliminate controls on banks in every nation on the planet — in one single move. It was as brilliant as it was insanely dangerous.
How could they pull off this mad caper? The bankers’ and Summers’ game was to use the Financial Services Agreement (or FSA), an abstruse and benign addendum to the international trade agreements policed by the World Trade Organisation.
Until the bankers began their play, the WTO agreements dealt simply with trade in goods – that is, my cars for your bananas. The new rules devised by Summers and the banks would force all nations to accept trade in “bads” – toxic assets like financial derivatives.
Until the bankers’ re-draft of the FSA, each nation controlled and chartered the banks within their own borders. The new rules of the game would force every nation to open their markets to Citibank, JP Morgan and their derivatives “products”.
And all 156 nations in the WTO would have to smash down their own Glass-Steagall divisions between commercial savings banks and the investment banks that gamble with derivatives.
The job of turning the FSA into the bankers’ battering ram was given to Geithner, who was named Ambassador to the World Trade Organisation.
A senior Pakistani Taliban commander has welcomed the government’s recent offer to hold peace talks.
Asmatullah Muawiya said in a statement Thursday that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif demonstrated political maturity by reiterating his offer to hold peace negotiations in a speech over the weekend.
A Pakistani Taliban commander believed to be harbouring foreign militants was killed along with four others in a roadside bomb explosion in South Waziristan tribal agency, officials said Thursday.
Ghulam Jan, believed to be a key commander of the outlawed Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), was killed along with four accomplices when the improvised explosive device targeted his vehicle on Wednesday evening in Birmal tehsil, located about 27 kilometres from Wana, the main town in South Waziristan.
The simple statement, "Malala Yousafzai, an innocent schoolgirl," has become increasingly contested through a counter-narrative that labels her a "CIA agent." What use the CIA would have had for a 14 year-old girl in Swat is of course a complete mystery.
At the time of the meeting, the boy didn't know that the United States had decided to kill a man named Adnan al-Qadhi, and had turned to its allies in Yemen for assistance. Now the Yemeni government needed the child’s help. The Republican Guard officers told him what they wanted him to do: plant tiny electronic chips on the man he had come to think of as a surrogate father. The boy knew and trusted the officers; they were his biological father's friends. He told them he would try. He would be their spy.
You are a college professor.
I have just retired as a high school teacher.
I have some bad news for you. In case you do not already see what is happening, I want to warn you of what to expect from the students who will be arriving in your classroom, even if you teach in a highly selective institution.
No Child Left Behind went into effect for the 2002–03 academic year, which means that America’s public schools have been operating under the pressures and constrictions imposed by that law for a decade. Since the testing requirements were imposed beginning in third grade, the students arriving in your institution have been subject to the full extent of the law’s requirements. While it is true that the U.S. Department of Education is now issuing waivers on some of the provisions of the law to certain states, those states must agree to other provisions that will have as deleterious an effect on real student learning as did No Child Left Behind—we have already seen that in public schools, most notably in high schools.
Even during those times when I could assign work that required proper writing, I was limited in how much work I could do on their writing. I had too many students. In my final year, with four sections of Advanced Placement, I had 129 AP students (as well as an additional forty-six students in my other two classes). A teacher cannot possibly give that many students the individualized attention they need to improve their writing. Do the math. Imagine that I assign all my students a written exercise. Let’s assume that 160 actually turn it in. Let’s further assume that I am a fast reader, and I can read and correct papers at a rate of one every three minutes. That’s eight hours—for one assignment. If it takes a more realistic five minutes per paper, the total is more than thirteen hours.
Further, the AP course required that a huge amount of content be covered, meaning that too much effort is spent on learning information and perhaps insufficient time on wrestling with the material at a deeper level. I learned to balance these seemingly contradictory requirements. For much of the content I would give students summary information, sufficient to answer multiple-choice questions and to get some of the points on rubrics for the free response questions. That allowed me more time for class discussions and for relating events in the news to what we learned in class, making the class more engaging for the students and resulting in deeper learning because the discussions were relevant to their lives.
From what I saw from the free response questions I read, too many students in AP courses were not getting depth in their learning and lacked both the content knowledge and the ability to use what content knowledge they had.
The structure of testing has led to students arriving at our school without what previously would have been considered requisite background knowledge in social studies, but the problem is not limited to this field. Students often do not get exposure to art or music or other nontested subjects. In high-need schools, resources not directly related to testing are eliminated: at the time of the teachers’ strike last fall, 160 Chicago public schools had no libraries. Class sizes exceeded forty students—in elementary school.
Now you are seeing the results in the students arriving at your institutions. They may be very bright. But we have not been able to prepare them for the kind of intellectual work that you have every right to expect of them. It is for this that I apologize, even as I know in my heart that there was little more I could have done. Which is one reason I am no longer in the classroom.
Pope Francis has said gay people should not be judged or marginalised.
Speaking to reporters on a flight back from Brazil, he said: "If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge him?"
But he condemned what he described as lobbying by gay people.
"The problem is not having this orientation," he said. "We must be brothers. The problem is lobbying by this orientation, or lobbies of greedy people, political lobbies, Masonic lobbies, so many lobbies. This is the worse problem."
According to the report, the Pope was extremely open as he discussed problems at the Vatican.
He is said to have told the Latin American delegation that there were good, holy men in the administration, but that there was also corruption.
The Vatican would have to "see what we can do" about the "gay lobby" operating in the bureaucracy, he said. "It is true, it is there," the report quotes him as saying.
In the days leading up to Pope Benedict XVI's resignation in February, the Italian media carried many un-sourced reports that gay Vatican clergymen had been working together to advance their personal interests, leaving the Holy See vulnerable to blackmail.
There were even suggestions that the situation had influenced Benedict's decision to resign.
A Yemeni journalist who was kept in prison for years at the apparent request of the Obama administration has been released in the Yemeni capital of Sana'a, according to local reports.
Abdulelah Haider Shaye was imprisoned in 2010, after reporting that an attack on a suspected al-Qaida training camp in southern Yemen for which the Yemeni government claimed responsibility had actually been carried out by the United States. Shaye had visited the site and discovered pieces of cruise missiles and cluster bombs not found in Yemen's arsenal, according to a Jeremy Scahill dispatch in the Nation.
Shaye was arrested in August 2010 and charged, the following month, with being an al-Qaida operative himself. He was known for his ability to make contacts with extremist groups, skills that led to regular work reporting for western media outlets such as ABC News and the New York Times. At his trial, his reporting work was marshaled as evidence of terrorist ties. In January 2011, he was sentenced to a five-year term.
The charges against Shaye provoked an outcry among tribal leaders, human-rights activists and fellow journalists. Bowing to the pressure, then-president Ali Abdullah Saleh pardoned Shaye weeks after his sentencing. But in a February 2011 phone call with Saleh, President Barack Obama "expressed his concern over the release" of Shaye. The pardon was revoked.
Michael Hastings, a native Vermonter and a journalist widely known for his profile in Rolling Stone magazine of a general who commanded U.S. forces in Afghanistan, was killed Tuesday in a car crash in Los Angeles, according to multiple reports.
He was 33.
News of his death was first reported Tuesday evening by the website BuzzFeed, for which Hastings also wrote, and by Rolling Stone.
His reporting on Gen. Stanley McChrystal and the subsequent story in June 2010 led to the commander's resignation after he was quoted ridiculing President Obama, Vice President Biden and other administration officials. The story was titled "The Runaway General" and resulted from the considerable access to McChrystal and others that Hastings was granted.
"You never know how a story will be received," Hastings told the Burlington Free Press shortly before the piece hit newsstands and as the article was being widely distributed online. "I knew the reporting was new and different, but I'm kind of surprised at the impact."
The L.A. Police Department was unable Tuesday night to release the name of the man killed in the early morning wreck that media reports said was Hastings, spokesman Officer Christopher No told the Burlington Free Press. No said information could be made available later Tuesday or Wednesday.
The crash occurred at about 4:25 a.m. in Hollywood near North Highland and Melrose avenues, just north of the Wilshire Country Club. A vehicle crossed the median, slammed into a tree and burst into flames, No said. The male driver, believed to be the car's only occupant, was pronounced dead at the scene. No said he did not know the make and model of the vehicle.
Video and photos from the scene posted on the website of L.A. television station KTLA showed a mangled car crumpled against a tree and engulfed in flames. The KTLA report quoted LAPD Officer Lillian Carranza as saying the car appeared to be speeding when the crash occurred.