World View: Reports of an Israeli Drone Strike in Sinai Disputed by Egyptians

World View: Reports of an Israeli Drone Strike in Sinai Disputed by Egyptians

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Reports of an Israeli drone strike in Sinai disputed by Egyptians
  • Russia’s Georgia invasion roils Azerbaijan-Armenia tensions
  • Dept. of Justice accuses Bank of America of securities fraud

Reports of an Israeli drone strike in Sinai disputed by Egyptians

Egyptian military tanks deployed in Sinai last month (AFP)
Egyptian military tanks deployed in Sinai last month (AFP)

One or two large explosions on Friday afternoon in the Sinai region ofEgypt, near the borders of Gaza and Israel, killed four or fivejihadist militants, and wiped out a jihadist radar installation,according to first reports. Egyptian sources were quoted as sayingthat the explosion was caused by a missile attack from an Israelidrone, launched with permission of the Egyptian army, as part of theincreasingly close cooperation between the two armies against a commonenemy. However, later in the day, an Egyptian army spokespersonstressed that there’s no truth to media claims of an Israeli attack onEgyptian soil, nor to claims of Egyptian-Israeli coordination.Al Ahram (Cairo) and Jerusalem Post

Dept. of Justice accuses Bank of America of securities fraud

President Obama’s Dept. of Justice has adamantly refused toinvestigate and prosecute the criminals who caused the financialcrisis, which is far from over, with the result that no one has goneto jail for one of the greatest crimes in history. This week’sdecision by the Justice Dept. to charge Bank of America withsecurities fraud for knowingly selling billions of dollars in faultymortgage-backed securities does not change that.

According to William K. Black, who was the senior regulatorinvestigating the savings and loan crisis of the 1980s:

“Yes. So this, first, is a civil suit, not a criminalprosecution. And even in a civil suit, the Department of Justicehas refused to sue any of the senior officers who, according tothis complaint, became wealthy through leading this massive fraudby Bank of America. …

The allegation of the nature of the fraud is that Bank of Americaknew that it was selling product that was often fraudulent andwas–mortgage product that was often fraudulent and was in anyevent of very poor quality, and that it lied in itsrepresentations to Wachovia and the Federal Home Loan Bank of SanFrancisco in order to induce them and others to purchase thealleged best portion of this mortgage-backed security.

And there are some more interesting allegations along the way,interesting because I think the Department of Justice doesn’texplain how–understand how embarrassing they are to theDepartment of Justice. So one of the allegations, for example,says that Bank of America, after it realized that one of its loanofficers was working with a borrower to commit a fraud, fired theloan officer, made a criminal referral to the Department ofJustice. That loan officer, former loan officer, is underindictment; in other words, he’s going to be criminallyprosecuted; and that they still–they being Bank of America–stillsold that loan under representations and warranties that it was agreat long, even though they knew it was in fact a product ofmultiple frauds. And, of course, the loan blew up and causedsubstantial losses.

Now, of course, the question that everyone in the world except theJustice Department would ask is the complaint goes on to say thatBank of America employees came under intense pressure from seniorofficials at the Bank of America to deliberately make bad loansand to approve bad loans made by loan brokers, that they werespecifically instructed that their job was not to find fraud, thattheir bonus packages depended on approving really crappyloans. And they got extra big bonuses if they exceeded theirquotas. And the only way to do that was to approve all kinds ofterrible loans.”

In other words, the Justice Dept. is not prosecuting the realcriminals in order to hide their own complicity in the criminalactivities. And as I’ve pointed out in the past, these seniorbank officials contributed enormous sums of money to Obama’sreelection campaign, and are immune from prosecution.

There is massive corruption in Washington and on Wall Street and inthe mainstream media. As Hannah Arendt documented in the early daysof Nazi Germany, respectable people are actually gangsters, andgangsters are treated as respectable people. Reuters and Willam K. Black

Russia’s Georgia invasion roils Azerbaijan-Armenia tensions

Nagorno-Karabakh (BBC)
Nagorno-Karabakh (BBC)

Azerbaijan is arming to the teeth. Armenia is growing increasinglydisillusioned with Russia, its main protector. And the potential forarmed conflict in the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region appears higherthan it has been in years. Many of the increased tensions throughoutthe Caucasus can be attributed to Russia’s decisive victory in its2008 5-day invasion of Georgia, in support of the separatist region ofSouth Ossetia, for years a province a Georgia. As a result of thatwar, Russia’s role as powerbroker in the region was undermined,according to an analyst:

“[The war] sent also a signal to other post-Sovietcountries that Russia is willing to use force to implement itsinterests. It also undermined Russia’s role, to some extent, as aplayer which has allies, maybe, in the region.”

Armenia and Azerbaijan fought a very bloody war that ended in 1994with Armenia gaining control of Nagorno-Karabakh, a region in themiddle of Azerbaijan. According to an Azerbaijani politician:

“The war between Russia and Georgia was, in reality,an aggression of Russia against independent Georgia — there is nodoubt. And it is a very dangerous action after the collapse ofthe Soviet Union in the Caucasus because it demonstrates thatRussia is the same empire — very aggressive to all peoples and toall small nations in the region.”

Russia tried and failed to mediate between the two countries, but thatattempt failed after the 2008 war. Today, Russia has largely reducedits role to that of the main arms supplier to both sides. RFERL

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