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Archive for July, 2012

The Julian Assange Show: Cypherpunks Uncut (p.1)

Cyber threats, hacker attacks and laws officially aiming to tackle internet piracy, but in fact infringing people’s rights to online privacy. It’s an increasingly topical subject – and the world’s most famous whistleblower is aiming to get to the heart of it. In this edition of his interview program here on RT, Julian Assange gets together with activists from the Cypherpunk movement – Andy Müller-Maguhn, Jeremie Zimmermann, and Jacob Appelbaum (29 July 2012).

Exclusive: Turkey’s Central Role in Syria’s Civil War

For quite some time I have been repeating that Turkey and the U.S. have been organising and arming the rebels in Syria from the U.S. Air Base in İncirlik. The only source I could cite, however, was Sibel Edmonds, reticent to divulge her own sources.[1]  Then, some time ago, the CIA admitted to recruiting Syrian opposition fighters in Turkey.[2]  And now, the well-respected news agency Reuters has revealed that Turkey’s role in the anti-Assad movement is not to be underestimated.

From Dubai, Reuters’ Regan Doherty and Amena Bakr indicate that “Turkey has set up a secret base with allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar to direct vital military and communications aid to Syria’s rebels from a city near the border, Gulf sources have told Reuters. News of the clandestine Middle East-run “nerve centre” working to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad underlines the extent to which Western powers – who played a key role in unseating Muammar Gaddafi in Libya – have avoided military involvement so far in Syria”.[3]  It seems that Reuters forgets that Turkey is part and parcel of the Western alliance as a NATO member and close friend of the U.S. Or is that only Israel, as an imported nation state in the Middle East, can be publicly termed a member of the Western powers???  Nevertheless, Doherty and Bakr’s sources clearly show that Turkey is now stepping out of the shadows and has publicly assumed a leading role in the mission to topple the Syrian Baath regime.

The news agency Reuters furthermore reveals that a Doha-based source stated that “It’s the Turks who are militarily controlling it. Turkey is the main co-ordinator/facilitator. Think of a triangle, with Turkey at the top and Saudi Arabia and Qatar at the bottom. The Americans are very hands-off on this. U.S. intel are working through middlemen. Middlemen are controlling access to weapons and routes”.[4]  This anonymous source now confirms what Sibel Edmonds has said months ago. In addition, it seems now that the CIA is openly operating from the İncirlik Air Base and that Turkey has now established another centre to operate from, apparently in the vicinity of the Turkish city of Adana, according to the Reuters report. Doherty and Bakr elaborate that the Adana base “was set up after Saudi Deputy Foreign Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah al-Saud visited Turkey and requested it, a source in the Gulf said. The Turks liked the idea of having the base in Adana so that they could supervise its operations, he added. A Saudi foreign ministry official was not immediately available to comment on the operation”.[5]   As for the finer geographic points of American and Turkish action regarding the war in Syria, the Reuters reporters add that “Adana is home to Incirlik, a large Turkish/U.S. air force base which Washington has used in the past for reconnaissance and military logistics operations. It was not clear from the sources whether the anti-Syrian “nerve centre” was located inside Incirlik base or in the city of Adana”.[6]  Their Doha-based source additionally revealed that “Three governments are supplying weapons: Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia”.[7]  From Washington, Reuters’ Tabassum Zakaria, Matt Spetalnick, and Andrew Quinn report that “the White House has crafted a presidential directive, called a “finding,” that would authorize greater covert assistance for the rebels, while still stopping short of arming them. It is not clear whether Obama has signed the document, and U.S. officials declined to comment on the finding, which is a highly classified authorization for covert activity”.[8]  Remembering President Bush’s Presidential Findings regarding support for Iran’s opposition, which were only mentioned by Seymour Hersh, and President Obama’s recent Kill List, that seems to have been strategically leaked, it is probably safe to assume that Barrack Obama did sign the paper but put a strategic ban on divulging said information. In the same way, Ankara has also denied any kind of role in organising the armed opposition in Syria. Keeping Erdoğan’s strong words in mind, however, one cannot but assume that Turkey is spearheading the international; operation to oust Assad.

The Russian naval base in Tartus and Iran’s opposition to the U.S. administration also mean that Damascus is not without allies. Recently, Iran’s vice president in charge of international affairs, Ali Saeedlou has said that “Tehran is ready to give its experience and capabilities to its friend and brother nation of Syria”, according to the IRNA news agency.[9]  And on Sunday, 29 July, ‘Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Al-Moallem heading a high-ranking political delegation arrived [in Tehran] for talks with Iranian officials’.[10]  In this volatile mix, China also needs to be considered as an active actor of course. The Xinhua news agency, for instance, dutifully reports that ‘Walid al-Muallem said . . . that his government is committed to implementing the peace plan put forward by UN-Arab League joint envoy to Syria Kofi Annan’.[11]

All the while, the battle for Aleppo is raging on: ‘Regime helicopters have shelled the key city of Aleppo and clashes have continued on the ground between regime forces and rebel fighters, according to opposition activists. The Guardian’s Luke Harding said the two sides are about 1.5km apart. Aleppo-based activist Mohammed Saeed told AP the shelling was most intense in the south-western neighborhoods of Salaheddin and Saif al-Dawla. The government said security agents were hunting down armed groups in Salaheddin. Video purported to show that a government shell had set a plastics factory ablaze in Aleppo’, as reported by the Guardian.[12]

[1] “Op-Ed: The Road to Intervention in Syria” A Pseudo-Ottoman Blog (06 June 2012). https://sitanbul.wordpress.com/2012/06/06/op-ed-the-road-to-intervention-in-syria/.

[2] “The New Cold War: The CIA Prepares Battleground Syria???” A Pseudo-Ottoman Blog (22 June 2012). https://sitanbul.wordpress.com/2012/06/22/the-new-cold-war-the-cia-prepares-battleground-syria/.

[3] Regan Doherty and Amena Bakr, “Exclusive: Secret Turkish nerve center leads aid to Syria rebels” Reuters (27 July 2012). http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/07/27/us-syria-crisis-centre-idUSBRE86Q0JM20120727.

[4] Regan Doherty and Amena Bakr, “Exclusive: Secret Turkish nerve center leads aid to Syria rebels”.

[5] Regan Doherty and Amena Bakr, “Exclusive: Secret Turkish nerve center leads aid to Syria rebels”.

[6] Regan Doherty and Amena Bakr, “Exclusive: Secret Turkish nerve center leads aid to Syria rebels”.

[7] Regan Doherty and Amena Bakr, “Exclusive: Secret Turkish nerve center leads aid to Syria rebels”.

[8] Tabassum Zakaria, Matt Spetalnick, and Andrew Quinn, “Insight: Cautious on Syria, Obama moves to help rebels” Reuters (27 July 2012). http://in.reuters.com/article/2012/07/27/us-syria-usa-obama-idINBRE86Q04U20120727.

[9] “Iran says it’s ready to support Syria with ‘experience and” AP (26 July 2012). http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/iran-ready-support-syria-experience-capabilities-article-1.1122168?localLinksEnabled=false.

[10] “Syrian FM arrives in Tehran” IRNA (29 July 2012). http://www.irna.ir/News/Politic/Syrian-FM-arrives-in-Tehran/80251558.

[11] “Syria committed to implementing Annan’s peace plan: FM” Xinhua (30 July 2012). http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/world/2012-07/30/c_123489893.htm.

[12] “Syria: Battle for Aleppo – live updates” The Guardian (29 July 2012). http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/jul/29/syria-bashar-al-assad?newsfeed=true.

TalkingStickTV: Medea Benjamin

Interview with Medea Benjamin, co-founder of CODEPINK and Global Exchange and author of “Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control” recorded July 28, 2012 in the KEXP studios (28 July 2012).

Counting the Cost – The cost of the London Olympics

As the 2012 London Olympics begin, we are focusing the world’s most-watched sporting festival on this special edition of Counting the Cost. So what is the price tag for London’s Games? And when the games are over and the last medal is handed out, what kind of legacy will be left? Joining us to discuss this is Daniel Moylan, the chairman of the London Legacy Development Corporation; and Pamela Gardner, the director of neighbourhoods and communities at East Thames, a housing provider and social regeneration charity. A more immediate challenge than creating a legacy is providing security. And the scale of the security operation for London 2012 is quite staggering. Joining us is Dr. Pete Fussey, a senior lecturer in Criminology at the University of Essex whose work has focused on security and regeneration in relation to major events. Counting the Cost is also looking at the Olympic trademark and the issues behind it. Why are small British businesses being prevented from benefiting from Olympic fever? Is the Olympic branding clampdown going too far? And are Olympic organisers killing off the spirit of the games? (28 July 2012).

The London Olympics: Austerity Rules???

A lot of hype surrounds this year’s Olympic Games in London. And the UK has not spared any costs . . . hosting ‘the 2012 Summer Games cost a mere $14 billion’,[1] while the Cameron government has spent months preaching austerity and cutting services. . . but spending money to offer illusory comforts or sheer escapist fantasies is arguably cheaper than tackling real problems upsetting real people.

The ‘satirical, sardonic, and mildly offensive’ Daily Shame opines: ‘Dunno about you but this double-dip recession’s going rather well isn’t it. I read in the papers that austerity is the only path to growth, you see. David Cameron said so. George Osborne said so. I don’t know if you’ve heard of George Osborne, but he’s the Chancellor of the Exchequer on Tuesdays, Wednesday mornings and Fridays between 11am and 2pm. And I don’t know if you’ve heard of David Cameron, but he’s the fat-faced fella who follows businessmen around with his tongue out saying “I’ll spread my legs for you if you give me some money”. So yeah, austerity it is, folks. That means no money for your health service, no money for wages, no money for libraries and all those things that Gordon Brown spent your money on – because we’ve spent it all on the banks and quantitative easing (i.e. the banks). But austerity is the path to growth’.[2]

In the grand old tradition of bread and games, the UK is now hosting the greatest show on earth, allowing McDonald’s, Coca Cola, and other big corporations to reap the monetary benefits of this orchestrated mass hysteria. Moreover, in this television and internet-saturated 21st-century world of ours, not just the British public is lulled into a serene sleep of oblivion, the whole global public out there will now be able to enjoy the benefits of Olympic anaesthetics like never before. The Belfast Telegraph happily reports that ‘[b]illions of people from across the world tuned in to watch the £27 million spectacular [Olympic opening show], while thousands of others travelled to the UK to witness the official start of the sporting celebration in person. The three-and-a-half-hour show seemed to be an instant hit with many, with its British sense of humour and vibrant soundtrack celebrated by viewers from other countries’.[3]

Danny Boyle’s quirky presentation of the Queen, Bond, and Great Britain has fired up a lot of people . . . even the exported talking head (read twat) Piers Morgan seems to have forgotten himself gazing upon the £27 million extravaganza. Obviously also forgetting that the EU is the new wanna-be European empire, albeit with London preferring to hang on to the Pound Sterling, Mister Morgan nevertheless went ahead and tweeted his ridiculous statement. A statement that led to numerous responses, such as this one: “Why don’t you invade India and report back on how it goes”, by jonronson‏@jonronson or the more sober “Sad that you would say that. World doesn’t need more empires”, by RayBeckerman‏@RayBeckerman. On a more serious note, Al Jazeera’s Kamahl Santamaria states that the ‘latest [UK] government report has the games on target to cost $14.5bn of public sector money. However, a recent parliamentary committee warned the full cost of the games could amount to $17bn and skeptics are saying it could be even more. So there is the cost but how will the Olympics affect the British economy?  A report by VISA predicts an increase in consumer spending of $1.2bn during the games and a $8bn stimulus to the British economy over three years. David Cameron, the British prime minister, is more optimistic, saying that the London Games will generate over $20bn. But when the games are over and the last medal is handed out, what kind of legacy will be left?  The idea of creating a legacy in London’s East End was central to London’s successful bid back in 2005. In Victorian times east London was a black hole of slums and disease. It got bombed heavily in World War II. Nowadays it can still present a picture of gloom, the forgotten part of the British capital, so London’s bid for the Olympics offered hope that the games might finally turn the area around’.[4]  Rather than the East End, the real winners this year will be the international corporations sponsoring the games: ‘The Olympic Games in London have got off to a shaky start, with political controversies, security failings and traffic concerns. And now it’s some of the athletes in the main spotlight, and not only because of their sporting skills. It’s their toned bodies that are grabbing the headlines, as RT’s Anastasia Churkina reports (28 July 2012)’.

‘Top sponsors at the Olympic Games are expected to pay at least £65 million each, with the International Olympics Committee raising over £12 billion in costs of the games from domestic sponsors. This comes as up to two-thirds of the tickets for the games have been given to Olympic bodies and corporate sponsors, while London closes off public roads for the exclusive use of VIPs. Mark Perryman, Olympics author, says the Olympics has turned from a game for the common man into a showcase for corporate greed, disconnecting sports from the average fan. Press TV has conducted an interview with Perryman to further discuss the issue (25 July 2012)’.

[1] Ryan Rudnansky, “Opening Ceremony 2012: Kickoff of London Olympics Lives Up to High Price Tag” bleacher report (28 July 2012). http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1275904-opening-ceremony-2012-kickoff-of-london-olympics-lives-up-to-high-price-tag.

[2] Admin, “Osborne and Cameron spread UK’s legs for business, close them for the rest of us” The Daily Shame (27 July 2012). http://www.dailyshame.co.uk/2012/07/satire/osborne-and-cameron-spread-uks-legs-for-business-close-them-for-the-rest-of-us/.

[3] “London 2012 Olympic Games: Billions tune in to watch spectacular opening” The Belfast Telegraph (28 July 2012). http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/sport/olympics/london-2012-olympic-games-billions-tune-in-to-watch-spectacular-opening-ceremony-16191078.html.

[4] Kamahl Santamaria, “The cost of the London Olympics” Counting the Cost (28 July 2012). http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/countingthecost/2012/07/201272895042894654.html.

The KRG, Iraq, and Syria: Tensions on the Rise

‘Iraqi Kurdish security forces have prevented Iraqi government soldiers from reaching a disputed area that borders Syria. Baghdad sent the Iraqi army division to protect the border. But it’s a sensitive area – both the Kurds and the Iraqi government claim the territory. Al Jazeera‘s Omar Al Saleh from the Fishkhabour border crossing between Iraq and Syria (28 July 2012)’.

U.S. War on Whistleblowers

Hearings are underway on the case of John Kiriakou, a former CIA official turned whistleblower. He first told the world about waterboarding in secret prisons, but scandals like that might never break again of lawmakers on Capitol Hill have their say. Congress is on a mission to silence journalists from ever publishing classified information and, in fact, want to make doing so a crime under the Espionage Act. Jesselyn Radack, National Security & Human Rights Director of the Government Accountability Project, joins RT’s Liz Wahl to explain what that could mean for the freedom of press in America (24 July 2012).

Fukushima: A Tale of Disasters Expected

The intrepid Mister Palast spins his tale like this: “On March 12 [2011], as I watched Fukushima melt, I knew: the “SQ” had been faked. Anderson Cooper said it would all be OK.  He’d flown to Japan, to suck up the radiation and official company bullshit. The horror show was not the fault of Tokyo Electric, he said, because the plant was built to withstand only an 8.0 earthquake on the Richter scale, and this was 9.0. Anderson must have been in the gym when they handed out the facts. The 9.0 shake was in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, 90 miles away. It was barely a tenth of that power at Fukushima. I was ready to vomit. Because I knew who had designed the plant, who had built it and whom Tokyo Electric Power was having rebuild it: Shaw Construction. The latest alias of Stone & Webster, the designated builder for every one of the four new nuclear plants that the Obama Administration has approved for billions in federal studies. But I had The Notebook, the diaries of the earthquake inspector for the company. I’d squirreled it out sometime before the TradeCenter [where the documents were kept] went down. I shouldn’t have done that. Too bad. All field engineers keep a diary. Gordon Dick, a supervisor, wasn’t sup- posed to show his to us. I asked him to show it to us and, reluctantly, he directed me to these notes about the “SQ” tests”.[1]

And in his inimical style, Palast enlightens us next: “SQ is nuclear-speak for “Seismic Qualification.” A seismically qualified nuclear plant won’t melt down if you shake it. A “seismic event” can be an earthquake or a Christmas present from Al Qaeda. You can’t run a nuclear reactor in the USA or Europe or Japan without certified SQ. This much is clear from [Gordon Dick’s] notebook: This nuclear plant will melt down in an earthquake. The plant dismally failed to meet the Seismic I (shaking) standards required by U.S. and international rules”.[2]  Fukushima was a disaster waiting to happen . . . and now four nuclear plants of the same type are set to be built in the U.S. Palast continues, “Here’s what we learned: Dick’s subordinate at the nuclear plant, Robert Wiesel, conducted the standard seismic review. Wiesel flunked his company. No good. Dick then ordered Wiesel to change his report to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, change it from failed to passed. Dick didn’t want to make Wiesel do it, but Dick was under the gun himself, acting on direct command from corporate chiefs. From The Notebook: ‘Wiesel was very upset. He seemed very nervous. Very agitated. [He said,] “I believe these are bad results and I believe it’s reportable,” and then he took the volume of federal regulations from the shelf and went to section 50.55(e), which describes reportable deficiencies at a nuclear plant and [they] read the section together, with Wiesel pointing to the appropriate paragraphs that federal law clearly required [them and the company] to report the Category II, Seismic I deficiencies. Wiesel then expressed his concern that he was afraid that if he [Wiesel] reported the deficiencies, he would be fired, but that if he didn’t report the deficiencies, he would be breaking a federal law’. . . . [Palast then goes on: ] The law is clear. It is a crime not to report a safety failure. I could imagine Wiesel standing there with that big, thick rule book in his hands, The Law. It must have been heavy. So was his paycheck. He weighed the choices: Break the law, possibly a jail-time crime, or keep his job”.[3]  What did Bob Wiesel do???

Palast ends his piece on Fukushima and SQ thus: “I think we should all worry about Bob. The company he worked for, Stone & Webster Engineering, built or designed about a third of the nuclear plants in the United States”.[4]  The good folks at Wikipedia tell us that ‘Stone & Webster is an American engineering services company based in Stoughton, Massachusetts. Stone & Webster was founded as an electrical testing lab and consulting firm by electrical engineers Charles Stone and Edwin Webster in 1889. It was acquired by The Shaw Group in 2000. The company provides engineering, construction, environmental services, and plant operation and maintenance. The company has long been involved in power generation projects and has worked on most American nuclear power plants’.[5]  Not content with simply endangering the world with unsafe nuclear power plants, The Shaw Group recently proudly announced that ‘it has achieved substantial completion of the new Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center, a 585-megawatt clean coal-fired generating plant in Virginia for Dominion Virginia Power. As part of substantial completion, the plant was operated at its rated capacity and released to Dominion for commercial operation’.[6]  Nuclear energy is an unsafe method of boiling water, given that the nuclear waste material will have to be safely deposited . . . which seems like a contradiction in terms. At the same time, the company is also busy purveying other means to boil water using “clean coal”, a fuel that has been proven not to exist.


[1] Greg Palast, “The Fukushima story you didn’t hear on CNN” Greg Palast (08 March 2012). http://www.gregpalast.com/the-fukushima-story-you-didnt-hear-on-cnn/.

[2] Greg Palast, “The Fukushima story you didn’t hear on CNN”.

[3] Greg Palast, “The Fukushima story you didn’t hear on CNN”.

[4] Greg Palast, “The Fukushima story you didn’t hear on CNN”.

[5] “Stone & Webster” Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stone_%26_Webster.

[6] “Shaw Completes New 585-MW Clean Coal-fired Generating Plant in Virginia” News Release (12 July 2012). http://ir.shawgrp.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=61066&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=1714193&highlight=.

The Upcoming Influenza Pandemic: Bird Flu Mutations

On Tuesday, 24 July, NPR’s Nell Greenfieldboyce writes that ‘[t]op influenza researchers around the world published a statement back in January [2012] saying they would temporarily hold off on any work with contagious, lab-altered forms of a particularly worrisome form of bird flu. The unusual voluntary moratorium was supposed to last only 60 days, but it’s been more than six months. And scientists don’t agree on what should happen next. Some scientists and researchers say these mutant bird flu viruses could cause a devastating pandemic if they ever got out of the lab. Others argue that the work is vital to help public health officials get ready for the possible threat of a flu pandemic that might emerge naturally, as bird flu viruses mutate in the wild. Flu researchers are going to New York next week for the annual conference of the government-funded Centers of Excellence for Influenza Research and Surveillance (CEIRS). Researchers who made the mutant viruses will be there, plus others who signed the voluntary moratorium’.[1]

And to remind ourselves what we are talking about, let’s go back to 2006 and read Debora Mackenzie’s words: the “H5N1 strain of influenza – often referred to as bird flu – is first known to have jumped from chickens to humans in 1997. Since 2004 it has ripped through poultry and wild bird populations across Eurasia, and had a 53% mortality rate in the first 147 people it is known to have infected. Health authorities fear this strain, or its descendent, could cause a lethal new flu pandemic in people with the potential to kill billions. Flu has been a regular scourge of humanity for thousands of years. Flu viruses each possess a mere 10 genes encoded in RNA. All of the 16 known genetic subgroups originate in water birds, and especially in ducks. The virus is well adapted to their immune systems, and does not usually make them sick. This leaves the animals free to move around and spread the virus – just what it needs to persist. But sometimes a bird flu virus jumps to an animal whose immune system it is not adapted to. In chickens – originally a forest bird and not a natural host – it causes a moderate disease but can readily mutate to a more severe, highly pathogenic strain. Just such a strain of H5N1 flu, named after its surface proteins, began rampaging through large chicken farms in east Asia sometime before 2003”.[2]

Viruses are wily creatures, in fact there is some debate as to whether a virus lives or is a mere chemical reaction. The virology professor Vincent Racaniello explains on his blog that “Viruses are not living things. Viruses are complicated assemblies of molecules, including proteins, nucleic acids, lipids, and carbohydrates, but on their own they can do nothing until they enter a living cell. Without cells, viruses would not be able to multiply. Therefore, viruses are not living things”.[3]  It is a strange world we live in, as Racaniello explains: when “a virus encounters a cell, a series of chemical reactions occur that lead to the production of new viruses. These steps are completely passive, that is, they are predefined by the nature of the molecules that comprise the virus particle. Viruses don’t actually ‘do’ anything. Often scientists and non-scientists alike ascribe actions to viruses such as employing, displaying, destroying, evading, exploiting, and so on. These terms are incorrect because viruses are passive, completely at the mercy of their environment”.[4]

And now to get back to the possible lifting of the moratorium on altering the flu virus in laboratory environments that might be decided upon next week . . . The Stanford University microbiologist David Relman states unequivocally: [if the moratorium is lifted right after the upcoming meeting], “I’d be concerned”.[5]  Sentiments which are echoed by the Harvard School of Public Health epidemiologist Marc Lipsitch: “But the risks are not to scientists. The risks are to the world. The risks are that one of these viruses gets out of a laboratory and starts to spread from person to person. And so the people who have something at stake are not the scientific community only”.[6]  In other words, if the moratorium were lifted next week, there is very little that would prevent a Twelve Monkeys scenario from being enacted . . . On its Facebook page, CEIRS announces that the ‘2012 6th Annual CEIRS Network Meeting (Mount Sinai) to be held in New York City, July 29-August 1, 2012’.[7]

[1] Nell Greenfieldboyce, “Bird Flu Researchers To Meet About Research Moratorium” NPR (24 July 2012). http://m.npr.org/programs/all/3/157130835.

[2] Debora Mackenzie, “Introduction: Bird Flu” New Scientist (04 September 2006). http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn9944-introduction-bird-flu.html?full=true.

[3] Vincent Racaniello, “Are Viruses Living?” virology blog (09 June 2004). http://www.virology.ws/2004/06/09/are-viruses-living/.

[4] Vincent Racaniello, “Are Viruses Living?”.

[5] Nell Greenfieldboyce, “Bird Flu Researchers To Meet About Research Moratorium-2”. http://m.npr.org/programs/all/3/157130835?page=1.

[6] Nell Greenfieldboyce, “Bird Flu Researchers To Meet About Research Moratorium-2”.

LIBOR: Barclays Manipulation

The Libor scandal has been in the news now for some weeks. The news broadcaster Euronews explains: ‘Libor – the London Interbank Offered Rate – is the average cost of borrowing at which Britain’s banks lend each other money. It is calculated daily, based on information supplied by those banks and is used worldwide as a benchmark for prices on trillions of euros worth of derivatives and other financial products. After the financial crisis, the Libor rate also was seen as a guide to the health of bank’s balance sheets. Barclays manipulation alone could not have had a big effect on the final rate, but the suggestion is a lot of the big banks were doing the same thing. And the Libor rate has an effect on the real economy as Tony Greenham, Head of Finance and Business at the New Economics Foundation, explained: “That average is what drives the interest rates paid by hundreds of millions of people on their own mortgages, small business on their loans, student loans, insurance products. It affects a hugely diverse range of financial transactions globally, not just in the UK.” Britain’s central bank, the Bank of England, is trying to avoid being dragged into this scandal. It has denied it knew about Libor manipulation and was allowing it to happen. “It is nonsense to suggest that the Bank of England was aware of any impropriety in the setting of Libor,” a BoE spokesman said. “If we had been aware of attempts to manipulate Libor we would have treated them very seriously.” Barclays said it submitted artificially low estimates of its borrowing costs because it thought rivals were doing the same, and higher submissions would make it appear to be in trouble. Barclays is the first bank to settle in an investigation which is looking at more than a dozen other banks, including Citigroup, HSBC, UBS and RBS. HSBC said that as a bank that contributes to setting the Libor interest rate it was providing information to authorities, but the Financial Services Authority said it was not investigating HSBC’ (2 July 2012).