Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Republican Health Care Plan

  1. Don't Get Sick!
  2. If You Do Get Sick - Die Quickly!

And his encore:

Dubai to "liberalise the rules governing its funds industry"

Dubai to open doors to funds

Lax enforcement is just what the world economy needs.

Irish Gangs Exploit Prisons

In Ireland, as elsewhere,prisons are networking centers for gangs.
“Gangs in jails have increased in number and stature, they have become fashionable,” he said.

He believed gangs were using smuggled mobile phones in jails to organise shootings and drug deals outside the jail.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Guinea: Soldiers Shoot Protestors

Soldiers loyal to Guinea's head of state, Captain Moussa Dadis Camara, shot and killed at least 58 protesters, who were part of a rally against Camara's continuing in power. :

Camara, who seized power in a coup last December following the death of long-time President Lansana Conté , had pledged to step down following promised elections. The protesters, responding to rumors that Camara might nevertheless become a candidate in those elections, had sought to prevent him from running.

Prior to Camara's December coup, Guinea had been a center for cocaine smuggling. However, Camara pledged that he would crackdown on drugs.

Recent reports nevertheless assert that Camara actually has promoted drugs.

Musah said the military ruler is being influenced by suspected drug dealers.

'He came pretending to fight against the drug trafficking and others and today we know that some of the drug barons in Guinea are some of his advisors,' Musah said.

Recently reports have conflicted as to whether West Africa remains a heavy source for routing cocaine into Europe - some reporting a decline in cocaine smuggling; others reporting that it is going strong. Less cocaine has recently been seized, but whether that means less cocaine is therefore being smuggled or whether enforcement has been more lax is unclear.

Outside The Walls: Kosovo: Fighting Crime

Outstanding blog post on fighting crime in Kosovo:
As noted here before, there is certainly crime and smuggling in northern Kosovo, as there is in southern Kosovo. Interestingly, the one area in which Serbs and Albanians have always been able to cooperate fully is organized crime. Indeed, smuggling into the north is only really profitable because much of what enters “illegally” goes to the much larger market south of the Ibar. Busting up these organized criminal gangs would presumably pull in a fair number of persons of all ethnicities and maybe even some officials and police, south as well as north. Smuggling knows no bounds in Kosovo. [emphasis added]

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Angst of Joel Fleischman

Want to know how transitioning to John Robb's resilient communities would feel like?

Watch reruns of the 1990's television series, Northern Exposure.

Its central caracter, Joel Fleischman, found himself in the spot we all will find ourself in - should Robb's resilient community theory pan out.

According to Robb, we would all find ourselves in these tightly knit, self sufficient communities. Places just like Cicely, Alaska, location for the Northern Exposure plot.

Poor Fleischman. He has just graduated from medical school and wants to go to New York, where the money is. But no such luck for him. Alaska has paid his medical bill, so he must pay it back by serving instead in Cicely.

There he learns to avoid the local moose; meets Adam, the wilderness man; courts the local bush pilot; and listens to the local philosopher/DJ. Not exactly the New Yorker Talk of the Town.

And apparently this is where we all are headed - as we come to grips with our own inner moose. And that's all for the best - according to Robb.

Massive Exodus Of Street Children Into Western Europe

Massive Exodus Of Street Children Into Western Europe:
There are believed to be a quarter of a million street children in Europe, although officials cautioned that figure may be higher because as many as 1.5 million young gypsies, also known as Roma, are 'unregistered'.

The Bailout For Dummies

In their article,Meet the Hazzards, Nomi Prins and Christopher Hayes describe the recent financial bailout as it would have appeared had it, instead, been given to an hypothetical Twin Cities couple named Joe and Katie Hazzard.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Flow of Cocaine To Europe via West Africa May Have Ebbed

Citing an anti-drug crackdown in Guinea-Conakry, the head of Europe's drug fighting agency, MAOC statesthat this year's flow of cocaine to Europe via West Africa has ebbed.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Profile of A Smuggler

Profile of a smuggler:
Police became suspicious about the artichoke consignment because the shipment was being made by a recently founded company whose owners had raised eyebrows with some recent trips to Colombia, Brazil and Bolivia.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Kosovo: Rethinking EU Policy / ISN

A rift is growing between the European Union and Kosova.
In the meantime, economic development, or a lack thereof, appears to be playing second fiddle to basic law and order, and the risk of economic and social collapse are very real. (For all intents and purposes, Kosovo depends on imports, diaspora remittances and the expenditures of international personnel to stay afloat.)

A Chain of perils: The new Lean Logistics

The modern JIT inventory system is increasingly vulnerable to systems disruptions.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Plans for coastal radar in Windward Islands on hold

The Coast Guard of the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba has shelved plans to construct coastal radar on the Windward Islands pending further analysis. The reasons are mainly financial. according to the Philipsburg, St. Maarten Daily Herald.

The paper states that previously installed radars have enabled the coast guard to intercept 2,400 kilos of narcotics, incluing 2,072 kilos of cocaine.

Prominent Bosnian Director Fears New War ::

An Ocar-winning Bosnian film director has warned that - if current trends continue - conflict will break out in Bosnia.

United States urged to curb trafficking of weapons to the Caribbean

Press Release, Office of the Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis: United States urged to curb trafficking of weapons to the Caribbean

BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, SEPTEMBER 21ST 2009 (CUOPM) – As St. Kitts and Nevis and other Caribbean states tackle the problem of crime, a former Antigua and Barbuda diplomat has warned that unless the United States takes the lead to put measures in place to curb the trafficking of weapons and drugs through the region, the situation will worsen.

According to CMC, Sir Ronald Saunders, who twice served as the Caribbean nation’s High Commissioner to London, said the issue of drugs, arms and crime is “the gravest problem” facing the countries of the Caribbean and Latin America - with the exception of Cuba. He said while in the past the US, Canada and European government have concentrated on cutting the supply through eradication and interdiction with limited success, “it is clearly the time to rethink this strategy.”

The former diplomat said that in doing so, the authorities in those countries must do so in full collaboration with both the producing and transit countries, both of whom “are as much the victims of the trade” as the countries in which the huge markets reside.

“Almost every country has the same problem and many of the smuggled weapons, when captured are traceable to the United States. This suggests that the absence of a vigorous policy to curb arms sales is unintentionally contributing to crime in Central America and the Caribbean,” Sir Ronald told a recent gathering of high-ranking military officers at the Royal College of Defence Studies in London.

He said countries of the region are overwhelmed by the crime that has developed as a consequence of drug trafficking. “In many cases, their police forces are out-gunned by the weapons available to drug gangs and they lack the numbers, the equipment and other resources to combat the problem,” Sir Ronald told the officers from Europe, Latin America, Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

“In conditions of economic decline and increased unemployment, drug trafficking and its attendant other crimes escalate, as they are now doing throughout the region,” said the former chairman of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force against drug trafficking and money laundering.

“The US government could make an enormous contribution to resolving this huge problem by passing legislation and implementing machinery to control arms smuggling; by reviewing the practice of deporting convicted felons to their countries of origin; and by adopting measures to stop legal sale of assault weapons.”

The former Antigua and Barbuda envoy said in addition Washington should take a lead in organising collaborative arrangements with Europe and Latin America and the Caribbean to establish a comprehensive anti-narcotic programme that addresses both supply and demand.

“If this is not done, the problem of drug-trafficking and its attendant high crime will continue to plague Central America and the Caribbean with a terrible destabilising effect on the small economies that are least able to cope,” Sir Ronald warned in the CMC report.

Are Mexican Cartels Expanding for Profit or Survival?

Analyst Sylvia Longmire reviews the Mexican drug cartels' current expansion into Europe via West Africa, attempting to determine whether they are being pulled their by desire for greater profits or being pushed there by more vigorous North American law enforcement.

Her results are inconclusive.

Art Theft Central: Boston Art Thefts Before the Gardner Heist

A chronology of art theft in Boston suggests Rembrandt and old masters have been favorite targets.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Latin American drug cartels move into Africa – The CNN Wire - Blogs

CNN provides an overview of cocaine smuggling into Europe via West Africa.

This overview covers ground already familiar to this blog's readers.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Great Global Land Grab

Traditional farmers are being driven from their farms by modern agribusinessincluing, most recently a great Global Land Grab.

As Mike Davis discusses in Planet of Slums, these displaced peasants flock to slums in giant megacities.

These slums, in turn, have become breeding grounds for many current Global Guerrilla type organizations.

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Disfunctional Art Market

Despite numerous laws to the contrary, illicit art trade has nevertheless been increasing.:
If one were to devise a badly flawed market, one would be hard-pressed to surpass the antiquities trade. The reasons for this are numerous, but can be attributed to two main factors: a restricted supply and a trade plagued by anonymous buyers and sellers often shielded by auction house practices and traditions.

Russian Adventurism on the Black Sea

More mayhem in the Black sea described by an author who apparently believes or at least purports that "rule of law" in those parts represents something other than the interests of those who currently are bribing the judiciary.

Tactics Used To Smuggle From Columbia

Drug smuggling tactics from the Columbian exporters' perspective:
Police said that El Gato shipped drugs using two methods: across the Caribbean Sea in relatively large boats and with human carriers who first go to Venezuela and from there travel to Central America, the United States and Europe.

Authorities also discovered an ingenious strategy the band used to transport drugs on the high seas consisting of securing cargoes of some 500 kilos below the water’s surface attached to a buoy.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Shower Posse: The Big Picture – Boomshots

The Jamaican experience is universal, according to film producer Curtis Scoon.
In every movie there has to be a universal message, a universal theme. And with the Shower Posse, the geopolitical aspect is something that plays out around the world in third world countries. What happened is not exclusive to Jamaica. This is going on in Africa right now, in Asia. It’s the same game, so people could identify with that. The little guy’s getting caught up in the battle between the big imperial forces.

Douglas Farah: Physical Safe Havens for Terrorists

According to Douglas Farah, safe havens play a vital role for terrorists because they create bonds of trust forged in a broader common experience.

What Farah does not consider is that prisons also provide such common experiences.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Hard Times In the Shipping Industry

According to Lloyd's List, the shipping industry is facing hard times.

Doubtlessly smugglers will be able to exploit stresses resulting from these hard times.

The Nigerian - Czech Connection

Nigerian gang members living in the Czech Republic are hiring couriers from around the world to smuggle cocaine into that country.

According to Viktor Mravčík, the head of Czech Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction, while drug use by Czechs is an old story, cocaine use in particular is now surging:

This is a kind of mutual trend together with increasing supply, at least in the mid or long term. Prices are going down. It seems that at least concerning cocaine, supply is increasing; there is a lot of cocaine coming to the Czech Republic. Demand for that cocaine exists as it is kind of in fashion and the decreasing price is accompanying this trend.”

Sniffing Out Fakes

Apparently, only an expert's sixth sense can tellwhether tribal art is genuine or fake.
But to distinguish the real from the fake, say those in the know, potential buyers need more than mere expertise. They must also be blessed with intuition.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Spanish Golden Age

The United States today bears close semblance to 17th Century Hapsburg Spain. Both are empires in decline, decaying from within. Spain living off silver from the Americas; while the United States lives off credit from abroad.

Given this dreary prognosis, we must consider how nevertheless to make a go of things.

If the parallel between today's United States and 17th century Spain holds up, then we should pursue high culture - for while 17th century Spain suffered political decline, it also culturally manifested its Golden Age
The Spanish Golden Age (Spanish: Siglo de Oro, Golden Century) period of flourishing in arts and literature in Spain, coinciding with the political rise and decline of the Spanish Habsburg dynasty. El Siglo de Oro does not imply precise dates, but it begins no earlier than 1492, with the end of the Reconquista (Reconquest), the sea voyages of Christopher Columbus to the New World, and the publication of Antonio de Nebrija's Gramática de la lengua castellana (Grammar of the Castilian Tongue). Politically, it ends no later than 1659, with the Treaty of the Pyrenees, ratified between France and Habsburg Spain. The last, great writer of the period, Pedro Calderon de la Barca, died in 1681, and his death usually is considered the end of El Siglo de Oro of Spain, the golden century in the arts and literature.

The Habsburgs, both in Spain and Austria, were great patrons of art in their countries. El Escorial, the great royal monastery built by King Philip II of Spain, invited the attention of some of Europe's greatest architects and painters. Diego Velázquez, regarded as one of the most influential painters of European history and a greatly respected artist in his own time, cultivated a relationship with King Philip IV and his chief minister, the Count-Duke of Olivares, leaving us several portraits that demonstrate his style and skill. El Greco, another respected artist from the period, infused Spanish art with the styles of the Italian renaissance and helped create a uniquely Spanish style of painting. Some of Spain's greatest music is regarded as having been written in the period. Such composers as Tomás Luis de Victoria, Francisco Guerrero, Luis de Milán and Alonso Lobo helped to shape Renaissance music and the styles of counterpoint and polychoral music, and their influence lasted far into the Baroque period which resulted in a revolution of music. Spanish literature blossomed as well, most famously demonstrated in the work of Miguel de Cervantes, the author of Don Quixote de la Mancha. Spain's most prolific playwright, Lope de Vega, wrote possibly as many as one thousand plays during his lifetime, of which over four hundred survive to the present day.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Greek terrorist group vows to target financial institutions

Greek terrorist group vows to target financial institutions:
In a proclamation published in the weekly Pontiki newspaper Thursday, the group said it was protesting the conservative government's strict measures amid the economic crisis.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Hooray for Ebay Fakes

Forging artifacts has become so lucrative that plundering no longer makes sense, according to Charles Stanish, director of the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology and a professor of anthropology at UCLA.

According to Stanish, thanks to ebay, one can make more money forging an antiquity than digging it up. The more forgeries, the less looting, he suggests.

Many of these forgeries have become so highly sophisticated that they can fool experts.
[T]he experts who study the objects are sometimes being trained on fakes. As a result, they may authenticate pieces that are not real.

The Archdruid Report: A Terrible Ambivalence

John Michael Greer reminds me of why I often suspect mysticism may be the only sane response to the current global situation:
We are not going to have a future better than the present: not in our lifetimes, and not in those of our grandchildren's grandchildren. We collectively closed the door on that possibility decades ago, and none of the rapidly narrowing range of choices still open to us now offers any way of changing that. If this sounds like fatalism, it may be worth remembering that once a car goes skidding off a mountain road into empty air, it requires neither a crystal ball nor a faith in predestination to recognize that nothing anybody can do is going to prevent a terrific crash.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Gangs to Guatamalen Government: Prisons Belong to Us - Not You

The drug cartels, by slaying four Guatemalan prison officials, told Guatemala to mind its own businessregarding what goes on inside:
"The prisons, in general, are centers of corruption," Carrera said. "From inside prison, they direct kidnappings, extortion, drug trafficking."

Balkan Mafia Terrorize Slovenian Diplomat in Belgrade

An employee of the Slovenian embassy in Serbia was forced off the road by the Serbian mafia.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Sick and Wrong : Rolling Stone

Sick and Wrong: How Washington is screwing up health care reform – and why it may take a revolt to fix it, by Matt Taibbi:

Article: Homogenous voting, electoral manipulation and the 'garrison' process in post-independence Jamaica.

Jamaica's "garrisons" are at the root of its links to the drug trade.:
It is impossible to present in one article an in-depth discussion of all of these interrelated negative elements that have emerged within the Jamaican sociopolitical system. At the same time there is a distinctive feature of the system that provides a link between all of these symptoms of malaise. The nexus between electoral manipulation, corrupt politics, tainted elements in the security forces, crime, violence and the international drug trade has reached its apogee in a number of Jamaica's urban communities which have been labelled political 'garrisons'. Coming to terms with the 'garrisons' is essential to an understanding of Jamaica's national politics, its crime problem and its role within the international drug trade.

Profile of Four Serbian Cocaine Traffickers

Four Serbians rank amonst the major drug importers from Latin America.

Italy: Mafia exploits new opportunities in Rome

Italian organized crime is moving from Southern Italy into Rome.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Objection to Worker Cooperatives

When a firm is highly complex, like an orchestra, it needs a conductor. Money serves this conductor role in a modern economy, Joseph Heath argues.

Heath also asserts that cooperatives also inhibit employment, which may be true and which may make them undesirable, but which would not make them infeasible.

Fishy Airplane Landing At Sierra Leone Airport

A "forced landing" at the Sierra Leone airport has raised suspicions:

Police sources inform Awareness Times that the six foreigners have made a statement to the police in which they say that they were on a mission to conduct a feasibility study into Sierra Leone’s potential to export by air, frozen fish livestock from a proposed cold room that should be located at the Lungi Airport.

Friday, September 4, 2009

The Balkan Connection: From Columbia Through West Africa to Romania

An alleged cocaine trafficker extradited by Romania to the United States has a complex route. He allegedly sought to transport tons of cocaine to West Africa. Romanian authorities arrested him after he traveled there to set up a base of operations.

A Full Employment Economic Downturn

Spain's Mondrag�n Worker-Cooperatives maintain employment despite an economic downturn.

Gambling Industry Raises Stakes In Balkans -

The gambling industry - well known for links to money laundering and organized crime - is growing rapidly in southeastern Europe.

Jamaican Police Respond to Threats Against Prime Minister's Office

The requested extradition to the United States of Jamaican political boss Christopher 'Dudus' Coke, who is wanted for drug charges, could threaten chaos inside Jamaica.

EU Crime Fighting Efforts Stir Troubles With Kosovo

The Kosovo government is having their first major disagreement with EULEX over the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo intention, announced in August, to sign a protocol with Serbian police as part of regional cooperation to fight organized crime

Greek Bombing Update

Criminal connections apparently influenced the recent bombings in Greece.:

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Krugman: How Did Economists Get It So Wrong?

Paul Krugman in How Did Economists Get It So Wrong?sets forth his vision the future of economics;

Krugman is spot on regarding financial markets' imperfections and delusions.

However, because of globalization, his prescription of Keynesianism as a cure will not work. Back in the 1930's, when Keynes wrote and FDR began the New Deal, "the economy" was the national economy. Therefore, it made sense and was feasible to address economic issues from Washington. Nowadays, however, "the economy" is the global economy. Absent some global government, it would no longer be feasible to regulate it.

US Worried about Bosnian Political Rifts ::

Bosnia seems to be on "the brink of collapse.

Contemporary Artists Are Victims of Chinese Fakes

Contemporary Artists Are Victims of Chinese Fakes Learn the story of Mandy Wilkinson, the most widely forged contemporary British artist.

VOA News - US to Base Drones in Seychelles to Fight Piracy

The United States will use land based drones to combat piracy. Their purpose: conduct intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance.

Art insurers on high alert for fraudulent claims

Art insurers on high alert for fraudulent claims:
When the economy goes into recession, cases of insurance fraud shoot up. Industry specialists for the art world say they are watching contemporary dealers particularly closely

Party Time At the Afghan Embassy

If the federal government does not take the war in Afghanistan seriously, then why should we?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Anti-Crime Network

Gallery owner uses Facebook, Twitter to locate stolen painting
Upon learning of the theft, Tove Bormes posted messages to the social networking sites Facebook and Twitter that included pictures of the stolen works and asked her fans to re-post the pictures in hopes of finding leads.
“I’m amazed at how angry people got,” she said.

This sounds like a high-tech version of the Baker Street Irregulars.

Bomb explodes at Athens Stock Exchange

Financial institutions are finally being targeted. A bomb has exploded outside the Athens stock exchange.

Given the current economic situation, it is frankly surprising there has not been a great deal more of this.