Kerry – as his wife wonders
In spite of President Obama’s harsh warnings, Russian armed forces effectively seized control of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula on Saturday. In addition, the Russian Parliament granted President Putin the authority to use military force in response to the deepening instability in Ukraine.
This is a real slap in the face to President Obama.
Russia’s parliament will ask President Putin to recall Moscow’s ambassador back from the United States.
Ukraine’s fugitive president surfaced on Thursday in Moscow, where he was photographed with his good friend President Putin.
To further raise tensions with the West over Ukraine, Russia says it is negotiating with eight governments around the world for access to military facilities, to enable it to extend its long-range naval and strategic bomber capabilities. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Wednesday the military was engaged in talks with Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Algeria, Cyprus, the Seychelles, Vietnam and Singapore.
Access to the new locations would extend Russia’s military’s potential reach well beyond its current extraterritorial bases, at the Syrian port of Tartus and in former Soviet states – Ukraine’s Sevastopol, Armenia, Belarus, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and the occupied Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
Shoigu said Russia was also beefing up its existing military presence in the post-Soviet region, doubling its troop numbers in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, and deploying a regiment of troops to Belarus where it already has fighter aircraft stationed.
Russia’s RIA Novosti state news agency broadcast, “Now, Moscow needs to place such military assets in strategically important regions of the world to make them work effectively toward the goal of expanding Russia’s global influence.”
Since his return to the presidency in 2012, Putin began exploring options to renew alliances with the communist countries, and Russian Navy chief Vice Admiral Viktor Chirkov said that year Cuba and Vietnam were in the frame.
Russia is now helping Vietnam to upgrade facilities at Cam Ranh Bay, including a submarine training center, and Russia is negotiating for preferential access to refueling and repair facilities there for its ships.
As for the Western hemisphere, Russian Navy ships in 2008 made their first visit since the end of the Cold War, holding joint maneuvers with the Venezuelan Navy in the Caribbean, navigating the Panama Canal, and making a port call in Havana.
Just days ago, a Russian intelligence-gathering ship, the Viktor Leonov, docked in Havana harbor with no explanation from the government or state media coverage.
In response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and its other moves, the U.S. has uttered some harsh words – no only from President Obama, but from Secretary of State, John Kerry, and even from Sarah Palin. The dazzling red-head young and glamorous U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, an Irish national, is threatening to bring the matter to the United Nations.
Rahima and George Clooney have yet to weigh in, however Ben Affleck has visited John Kerry in Washington.
If it weren’t so sad, it might be funny.
Kerry called upon Russia to “clarify its intentions.”
Clarify? Russia’s intentions seem obvious, as Putin marches on.
Mexico has captured 18% of North American auto production and that is expected to increase to 25% by 2020.
Mexico’s auto industry employment has soared 46% to about 580,000 jobs since 2009, according to the Brookings Institution. U.S. auto employment has gained a paltry 16% in the same period.
Other U.S. high-value industries such as aerospace and electronics will also face competition from Mexico’s, according to the Brookings Institution.
Mexico’s aerospace industry is on the rise exporting more than $5 billion in 2012, a 16% increase over 2011.
Of all industries, however, Mexico’s auto industry is the leader thanks with low wages, high productivity, great quality and Mexico’s proximity to the U.S. not only by road, but by rail.
Harley Shaiken, a UC Berkeley labor professor said, “The auto industry is critical, because it is among the most sophisticated of manufacturing technologies,” he said. “If you can build a Honda Fit, then almost all other manufacturing is vulnerable.”
Mexican autoworkers earn about $8 an hour compared with the U.S. average of $37. How can the U.S. auto worker compete?
Honda has decided to produce its subcompact cars in Mexico. Its Celaya factory will employ 3,200 when it reaches full production this year.
A new Nissan plant opened last year. Mazda is starting production of its Mazda3 compact car in Mexico this year. Volkswagen’s Audi luxury brand is building a $1.3-billion factory near Puebla, Mexico, near where VW assembly plants already build the Jetta, Golf and Beetle for the U.S. market. Finally, Mercedes-Benz is also considering locating a plant in Mexico.
Mexico’s bottom line is that its automobile production is projected to double to more than 3 million this year as compared to 2009, according to IHS Automotive.
As even more automobile factories are being built in Mexico, there are no new auto factories being built—or even planned in the U.S.
Is Mexico the new China? Looks like it.
At the Cold War’s end, the aspirations of Middle Americans to preserve their country’s values collided with the profit motive of Corporate America.
President Eisenhower had warned America about the danger of the “military-industrial complex.” How right he was!
The Fortune 500 companies wanted to close factories in the USA and ship production abroad—where unions did not exist, regulations were light, taxes were low, and wages were a fraction of what they were here in America—plus their compliant lobby-run government gave them super tax breaks, even financing and guarantees against loss!
Corporate America was going global and getting rid of its American workforce, the best paid and most efficient on earth, and replace it with cheap foreign labor.
While manufacturing sought to move production abroad, hotels, motels, bars, restaurants, farms and construction companies that could not move abroad also wanted to replace their expensive American workers.
Thanks to our compliant government Corporate America got everything it wanted.
Tens of thousands of U.S. factories were shut down. Millions of their American workers were out of a job. Cheap, foreign-made goods poured in, killing the manufacturers who had stayed behind, loyal to their U.S. workers.
As U.S. businesses and services catering to the American consumer reaped the rewards of cheap foreign manufacturing, they too wanted to enjoy the benefits of cheap foreign labor. By backing of on the inflow of illegal immigrants, the government assisted them in replacing Americans with cheap foreign labor now working in America.
Since the early 90s, an estimated 40 million immigrants, legal and illegal, have entered the U.S. More Americans lost their jobs and the wages of those still working have stagnated for over twenty years—and still stagnate with no end in sight.
What was great for Corporate America, along with its owners, lobbyists, and even government officials was living death for the American worker.
Organizations such as GATT, and NAFTA were formed as alliances to let more foreign countries flood America with cheap goods mad with cheap labor.
Of course, all this makes no sense. How can Corporate America continue to profit, while the consumer market in America shrinks? Does Corporate America care? No, and why should they. Their money is in the bank, thanks to their exorbitant profits, outrageous salaries and sky-high bonuses.
And yet, the top one-percenters complain about America becoming a welfare state. What, on earth, did they expect?
The formula for the restoration on the American worker is no amnesty for illegals, and protective tariffs to stem the flow of cheap foreign goods into America, forcing Corporate America to manufacture in their own country—America—or die.
Meredith Kercher’s 2007 murder in the idyllic hillside town of Perugia is getting its third trial after Italy’s highest court annulled an appellate ruling overturning the 2009 guilty verdicts against Knox and her co-defendant and former boyfriend Sollecito.
Both were convicted in the first trial, and sentenced to 26 years and 25 years, respectively.
Knox was also convicted of slander for falsely blaming Kercher’s murder on a Congolese-born bar owner, Diya “Patrick” Lumumba. Knox’s slander conviction for lying to the police has been upheld by the high court and is still in effect—carrying a fine and a probable prison sentence.
Kercher’s body was found in a pool of blood in her locked bedroom on Nov. 2, 2007. Her throat was slit and there were signs of sexual assault.
Both Knox and Sollecito deny any involvement in the murder, saying they were not in the apartment and that they had no motive to harm Kercher. Knox is currently being tried in absentia and would become a ‘fugitive’ if she fails to return to serve her sentence should she be found guilty.
Knox has said, “In that case, I will become, what do you call it? A fugitive.”
Raoul Weil, a 54-year-old Swiss citizen and former UBS banker who was charged by US authorities five years ago for allegedly helping Americans dodge taxes via secret Swiss bank accounts. Weil agreed to go to the US to face trial after being arrested in Bologna, Italy, where he was vacationing with his wife.
Weil would have been safe in his home country, as Switzerland does not extradite its own citizens to other countries in cases of tax evasion.
When Weil could have been safe in Switzerland, why did he make it so easy for the U.S. to extradite him?
Has a deal been struck?
Is Italy giving up Weil in exchange for getting Knox extradited (should she be convicted of murder)?
And has Weil struck a deal with the U.S. to beat or to minimize the charges against him for his cooperation in being exchanged for Knox.
Weil arrived at the Broward Sheriff’s Office in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Dec. 13, 2013. He was charged with tax fraud and then freed on a $9 million bond.
Maybe Amanda Knox should move to Brazil—or any of the other 159 countries that don’t have extradition treaties with Italy.
Balraj (aka Baldev) Naidu
Singapore Reform Party chief, Kenneth Jeyaretnam’s friend and associate, Baldraj Naidu was released from prison in the U.S. and deported to Singapore.
Singaporean Balraj Naidu, 51, spent years in a U.S. prison after trying to funnel arms to a Sri Lankan terrorist group
He has now been deported from the U.S.
Considered to be extremely dangerous, he was accompanied on his flight by heavily armed officers of the U.S. Customs Enforcement and Removal Field Office.
“As a convicted felon, Naidu is prohibited from re-entering the United States,” U.S. Customs Enforcement and Removal Field Office director Simona L. Flores, said in a statement.
In 2010, Naidu was convicted in Baltimore, Maryland in the U.S. of conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization and sentenced to nearly five years in prison. Prosecutors say Naidu tried to buy $900,000 in illegal weapons from an undercover business in Maryland.
In April 2006, on being introduced to a U.S. undercover agent, Naidu negotiated to buy weapons worth $900,000, including grenade launchers, sniper rifles and machine guns.
One of his co-conspirators, Haniffa Osman, test fired several of the weapons in the summer of 2006 in Baltimore.
Osman, 62, was convicted and sentenced in the U.S. He has completed a 37-month jail sentence and testified in Naidu’s trial in 2010 before returning to Singapore. Osman’s term was shortened as he gave evidence against his friend, Naidu.
As a result of the trip, Tamil Tiger representatives wire transferred US$250,000 into the undercover business’ accounts as a down payment on a US$900,000 weapons deal. About 28 tons of weapons and ammunition, which the conspirators believed they were purchasing, was airlifted to the US territory of Guam.
On September 29, 2006, after inspecting the weapons and transferring an additional US$450,000 into the undercover business’ accounts, Naidu’s four co-conspirators were arrested and indicted.
A total of US$700,000 were paid by Naidu and his co-conspirators for the weapons and ammunition.
Where did these terrorists raise $700,000? Who financed them?
Recent Tamil rioting in Singapore
December 8, 2013 Singapore Riot
The Tamils are becoming an increasing power in Singapore. Thousands of Tamils are arriving in Singapore to take up positions as laborers. Naidu, who was also a friend and associate of J. B. Jeyaretnam, father of Kenneth and Philip Jeyaretnam, after serving his time in the U.S was deported and arrived in Singapore on Wednesday, December 18, 2013.
In December, for the first time in decades, there were riots in Singapore. The riot started around 9:30pm after an Indian national, like the Tamils, was killed by a private bus in a district known as Little India. The bus was driven by a Singaporean.
Immediately, about 400 foreign Tamil workers took to the streets, throwing objects at the police and setting police cars and an ambulance on fire.
During the riot, several police cars were overturned and five vehicles—three police cars, an ambulance and a motorbike were burnt. Several private vehicles were also damaged. Singapore’s Special Operations Command personnel and Gurkha troops were called to the scene.
In total, five police cars and nine Singapore Civil Defense Force vehicles were damaged. In addition, there were 18 casualties including 10 police officers, four Singapore Civil Defense Force personnel, as well as the Singaporean bus driver and his assistant. At least 18 people were hurt, most of them police officers, before the violence was brought under control. Six people were rushed to Singapore’s Tan Tock Seng hospital.
December 8, 2013 Singapore Riot In Flames
Twenty-seven of the foreign rioters were arrested.
Police commissioner Ng Joo Hee said it was the first rioting in Singapore in more than 30 years. He condemned it as “intolerable, wanton violence”. “It is not the Singapore way,” he added – but the rioters were not Singaporeans, but immigrant laborers – Tamils.
In an attempt to boost its sagging economy, Singapore depends heavily on foreign workers, with migrant laborers dominating sectors like construction.
A statement from Singapore’s Civil Defense Force (SCDF) said that emergency services were alerted to the killing.
“Upon arrival, there was a man trapped under a bus. An SCDF paramedic pronounced him dead on arrival. SCDF rescuers extricated the body using hydraulic rescue equipment.”
“Projectiles were thrown at the SCDF rescuers while they were extricating the body.”
Nine SCDF vehicles were damaged in the incident, including five which were burned, it said.
Tamils taking over power in Singapore
Philip Jeyaretnam, a Tamil, has infiltrated Singapore’s Public Service Commission, where he will “approve” Singapore Civil Service hirings and salaries. As such, he has a role in determining who gets promoted and who does not.
Philip Jeyaretnam is also the Managing Partner of the prestigious Singapore law firm, Rodyk & Davidson. He took over the firm when the former Managing Partner, Helen Yeo, became involved in a botched attempt to ban Escape from Paradise in Singapore.
In this effort, Helen Yeo was assisted in this effort by her husband, Yeo Cheow Tong, a former Singapore cabinet minister—he also lost his job over the incident.
Since they were unable to get Escape from Paradise banned in Singapore, the Yeos threatened Singapore bookstores with lawsuits if they sold the book. With the influence of her husband’s position as a cabinet minister, Helen Yeo had all 25 copies of Escape from Paradise removed from Singapore’s National Library—save one copy which was placed on “restricted distribution”—meaning readers had to sign for the copy (giving the Yeos access to their name).
Let’s not forget that Kenneth Jeyaretnam’s father—failed politician, Joshua. B. Jeyaretnam, was the lawyer who helped Naidu change his name so Naidu could hide. Both Kenneth and Philip Jeyaretnam are sons of Joshua B. Jeyaretnam.
Kenneth Jeyaretnam is now the head of Singapore’s Reform Party—thanks to Balraj Naidu. On April 26th 2009, Kenneth Jeyaretnam ‘become’ Secretary-General of Singapore’s Reform Party with the help of Balraj Naidu. A “Gang of 4,” spearheaded by Balraj Naidu executed a coup d’état to help Kenneth Jeyaretnam seize the post of party Secretary-General that day.
Singapore’s Tamils are a rising power along with the Jeyaretnam brothers.
From Wikileaks – Secret message from the U.S. Embassy in Singapore to the U.S. Secretary of State.
“Burlesque and Billions Of Dollars Later, Singapore,” the title of this document (and post) is taken from the U.S. Embassy’s secret message to the U.S. State Department.
RR RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHGH RUEHHM RUEHNH RUEHVC
DE RUEHGP #0394/01 0580953
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 270953Z FEB 07
FM AMEMBASSY SINGAPORE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2528
INFO RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE
RUEHOO/CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVE
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 5580
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 SINGAPORE 000394
SUBJECT: BURLESQUE AND BILLIONS OF DOLLARS LATER, SINGAPORE
STILL SEEKING SPONTANEITY
REF: A. 05 SINGAPORE 2058
¶B. 05 SINGAPORE 2609
¶1. (SBU) Summary: The Government of Singapore (GOS) is
attempting to steer the economy to become more
knowledge-based and entrepreneurial to counter the
competitive challenges China, India and other lower-cost
exporters pose. Characteristically, the GOS is taking the
lead, putting schemes in place to encourage creativity and
entrepreneurship, particularly in "strategic" sectors. It
has even tinkered around the edges of its tight political
controls, mandating a relaxation in social mores in order to
give Singapore "buzz." But the dominance of
government-linked corporations in Singapore's economy, an
educational system that stifles independent thinking, and the
continued presence of the government in many aspects of
Singaporean life perpetuate "habits of constraint" that may
hinder the development of entrepreneurship in Singapore. The
recent failure of a French topless revue franchise, part of a
GOS-led effort to pump up Singapore's nightlife, has laid
bare the limits of such top-down efforts. End Summary.
Creativity by Fiat
¶2. (U) A strong record of economic success notwithstanding,
Singapore's leadership recognizes that further growth will
depend on finding economic advantages over the rapidly
growing and low-cost economies of China, India, and ASEAN
neighbors. As a developed nation, Singapore must also
compete with other developed economies. To continue
thriving, the GOS believes that Singapore must transform
itself from an efficient platform for manufacturing and
logistics into a global, knowledge-based and more
entrepreneurial economy. With a small population, no natural
resources, and a trade-heavy economy, the GOS is acutely
aware of the need for Singapore to develop a strong
entrepreneurial class that can adapt.
¶3. (SBU) Pursuing the objective with its usual vigor, the
government is pouring in resources. Prime Minister Lee Hsien
Loong chairs a Research, Innovation and Enterprise Council
(RIEC), established in 2005 to promote R&D and innovation in
"strategic" sectors of the economy. In 2006, the RIEC
announced it would provide $916 million (SGD1.4 billion) over
the next five years to fund entrepreneurs. Also in 2006, the
Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) unveiled its Science and
Technology 2010 Plan (STP2010) which commits $4.9 billion
(SGD7.5 billion) over the next five years to encourage
raising R&D spending to 3 percent of Singapore's GDP by 2010.
¶4. (SBU) GOS efforts to promote entrepreneurship continue to
encounter a risk-averse Singaporean mindset, government
domination of the economy, and discouragement of critical
thinking and inflexibility in the educational system. The
2007 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor Report (GEM) showed
that, among the surveyed OECD and developed economies,
Singapore was consistently below the mean for all indicators
of social and cultural attitudes toward entrepreneurship.
For example, only 57.8 percent of Singaporeans believed that
new business success was accorded high status in their
country, compared to an average of 66.2 percent among all the
countries in the survey, ranking Singapore 21st of 24.
Government Itself a Cause
¶5. (C) Entrepreneurs continue to face obstacles in a number
of sectors in the form of Government-Linked Corporations
(GLCs), which account for nearly 60 percent of the national
GDP. Temasek Holdings, the government's investment arm, is
by far the largest investor in Singapore, with an estimated
50-percent stake in Singapore's GLCs. GLCs often compete
against each other in key markets, making entry by an
independently-held company difficult. For example, SingTel
and Starhub, both Temasek Holdings companies, compete
directly in the wireless service market and will soon do the
same in the cable television market. The strong GOS role in
directing the economy likely has the unintended result of
"crowding out" natural economic development, according Dr.
Sha Reilly, Chief Knowledge Officer at the National Library
Board (NLB), which has a mandate to encourage creativity and
entrepreneurship among young Singaporeans. She believes
SINGAPORE 00000394 002 OF 003
Singaporeans look first to the government, rather than the
private sector, to be the innovation leader.
¶6. (C) Small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) -- a
potential source of innovation and commercial nimbleness --
find it difficult to secure financing for their businesses
since financial institutions, accustomed to an abundance of
large corporate customers, are reluctant to lend to riskier
SMEs. The 2007 GEM report ranked Singapore 17 out of 21
countries for venture capital availability. The Singapore
Stock Exchange (SGX) is similarly inhospitable to SMEs, with
many Singaporean entrepreneurs opting to list in other
countries. SGX Executive Vice President Lawrence Wong told
us that the SGX targets SMEs with a capitalization of SG$500
million to SG$5 billion ($327 million - $3.27 billion). Wong
characterized the amount as "not a lot," but it does put SGX
listing out of the range of many SMEs. He says a GOS
proposal to develop an exchange catering to smaller firms was
"still under discussion."
7.(C) While the government has allocated various funds to
encourage SMEs, a number of business leaders told us that
funding is still inadequate. They suggested that even if
sufficient funding were available, it would still take at
least a generation before an entrepreneurial culture would
truly take root. Of the $4.9 billion STP2010 budget, less
then two percent has been allocated for SME financing.
Inderjit Singh, a Member of Parliament and an entrepreneur,
told us that the proliferation of entrepreneurial schemes for
SMEs was "government lip-service that fails to address the
critical need to divest GLCs and open markets."
Political System Discourages Risk-Taking
¶8. (SBU) The GOS's tight political control and the "habits of
constraint" it fosters have inhibited the development of an
entrepreneurial spirit and risk-taking culture, according to
Nominated Member of Parliament Kum Hong Siew and others. G.
Jahyakrishan, Assistant Director of International Enterprise
Singapore (IE), a government entity responsible for helping
Singaporean companies grow globally, believes that a
prevailing atmosphere of restraint "subtly" leads to less
risk-taking behavior by firms and individuals. Siew believes
the government's attempt to encourage economic risk-taking
while limiting political and social freedoms is unsustainable
because it discourages the kind of critical thinking required
Education System Not Helping
¶9. (C) Singapore boasts a highly competitive and
well-regarded primary and secondary education system, but the
number of Singaporeans completing a tertiary education is
relatively low. Only 23 percent of Singaporean students
entering primary school complete a degree at a local
four-year university. In other knowledge-economies such as
Japan's, around 50 percent of students complete a university
degree. However, according to Cheryl Chan, Assistant
Director of the Planning Division at the Ministry of
Education (MOE), the government does not plan to encourage
more students to get a higher education. The university
enrollment rate will continue to be maintained at 20-25
percent because the Singaporean labor market does not need
everyone to get a four-year degree, she asserted.
¶10. (SBU) Singapore's education system has been criticized
for being heavy on memorization and light on critical
thinking and creativity. Based on the British model, the
system is highly test-focused and separates students (a
process referred to as "streaming") at an early age between
high, middle, and low achievers. The GOS has slowly begun to
introduce greater flexibility into the system by allowing
"streaming" in subjects (rather than based on total average
scores) and has created new magnet schools focused on
mathematics, the arts, and sports. But there are only three
such schools, and the overall education system has changed
Some "Strategic" Sectors Suffer
¶11. (SBU) Growth in the "strategic" media sector may be
hampered by limits the government sets on freedom of speech
and expression. Filmmakers such as Martyn See (reftels) or
productions that touch on sensitive issues often find their
SINGAPORE 00000394 003 OF 003
distribution and broadcasting rights disapproved by the Media
Development Board (MDA), a governmental agency responsible
for regulating and promoting media industries. Cheah Sin
Liang, Deputy Director of International Relations at MDA,
admitted to us that the GOS's tight control over
controversial political, religious, or social topics does
limit growth in the media sector, but argued that such
controls are necessary to prevent negative social
¶12. (SBU) Singapore's approach to promoting R&D development
in the biomedical field, another government-identified
"strategic" sector, has also been criticized by foreign
education specialists as too focused on quick economic gains
rather than fostering the "holistic approach" necessary for
sustained innovation in science and technology. Dr. William
Broady, President of Johns Hopkins University, told the local
press in January that in order to be a leading center for
R&D, Singapore had to get away from "trying to measure
short-term economic returns. There has to be a mindset
change... in tolerating and being comfortable with failure
and ideas that don't seem to be going anywhere." (Note:
Johns Hopkins stopped development of a $53 million (SGD82
million) Biomedical Sciences research unit after its
Singapore Government partner, A*Star, accused Johns Hopkins
of not meeting performance benchmarks. End Note.)
Casinos, Kumar and the Crazy Horse
¶13. (SBU) The GOS appears to recognize the need to give
citizens freer rein in order to foster creativity and
entrepreneurship. Unwilling to loosen political controls, it
has focused so far on easing social restrictions. The
government made a highly controversial decision to allow
casinos, and has awarded contracts to open two integrated
resorts in 2009. Kumar, a popular transvestite nightclub
comedian whose material focuses on taboo subjects including
race, sex and the foibles of government personalities, has
been allowed to perform on television and in public venues.
Singaporeans returning from long stays overseas have told us
of being shocked at the mushrooming of racy billboard
advertising. MDA's Cheah pointed to the opening of the Crazy
Horse French Burlesque in December 2005 (which subsequently
closed in January 2007 due to poor attendance), and to the
"success" of the Singapore Biennale (an arts festival) as
further signs of greater social openness.
¶14. (C) Ever thinking strategically, Singapore's leadership
will keep pushing innovation in order to stay competitive in
a rapidly changing Asia. To its credit, the government
appears to recognize that its own penchant for control --
however enlightened its policy choices or soft its
authoritarian touch -- may be at odds with the kind of
free-wheeling atmosphere it needs to achieve its economic
objectives. Time will tell whether it can promote
creativity, critical-thinking, and innovation in society by
loosening up on social issues and tinkering with the
education system while keeping politics in quarantine. One
way or another, Singapore's flirtation with openness will
provide another interesting chapter in its unique history as
a social-engineering petri dish.
Mr. Li Qing Yun (1677–1933) died at the age of 256 years old. He had 24 wives, and lived through nine emperors in the Qing Dynasty.
According to legend, Mr. Li Qing Yun (1677–1933) was a Chinese medicine physician, herbal expert, qigong master, and tactical consultant. He was said to have lived through nine emperors in the Qing Dynasty to be 256 years old.
His May 1933 obituary in Time Magazine, titled “Tortoise-Pigeon-Dog,” revealed Li’s secrets of longevity: “Keep a quiet heart, sit like a tortoise, walk sprightly like a pigeon and sleep like a dog.”
Mr. Li is said to have had quite unusual habits in his daily living. He did not drink hard liquor or smoke and ate his meals at regular times. He was a vegetarian and frequently drank wolfberry (also known as goji berry) tea.
He slept early and got up early. When he had time, he sat up straight with his eyes closed and hands in his lap, at times not moving at all for a few hours.
In his spare time, Li played cards, managing to lose enough money every time for his opponent’s meals for that day. Because of his generosity and levelheaded demeanor, everyone liked to be with him.
Mr. Li spent his whole life studying Chinese herbs and discovering the secrets of longevity, traveling through provinces of China and as far as Thailand to gather herbs and treat illnesses.
Keep a quiet heart, sit like a tortoise, walk sprightly like a pigeon and sleep like a dog.
While it is unclear whether Li actually lived as long as is believed, what little we know of his habits fit with modern science’s findings about longevity.
Dan Buettner, author of “The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who’ve Lived the Longest,” researches the science of longevity. In his book and in a 2009 TED talk, he examined the lifestyle habits of four geographically distinct populations around the world.
All of these groups—Californian Adventists, Okinawans, Sardinians, and Costa Ricans—live to be over 100 years of age at a far greater rate than most people, or they live a dozen years longer than average. He calls the places where these groups live “blue zones.”
According to Buettner’s research, all blue-zone groups eat a vegetable-based diet. The group of Adventists in Loma Linda, California, eat plenty of legumes and greens as mentioned in the Bible. Herders living the in the highlands of Sardinia eat an unleavened whole grain bread, cheese from grass-fed animals, and a special wine.
Buettner found that low-calorie diets help in extending life, as demonstrated by a group of healthy elderly Okinawans who practice a Confucian rule of stopping eating when one is 80 percent full.
Perhaps Li’s wolfberry tea played a crucial part in his health. After hearing Li’s story, medical researchers from Britain and France conducted an in-depth study of wolfberry and found that it contains an unknown vitamin called “Vitamin X,” also known as the “beauty vitamin.” Their experiments confirmed that wolfberry inhibits the accumulation of fat and promotes new liver cells, lowers blood glucose and cholesterol, and so on.
Wolfberry performs a role of rejuvenation: It activates the brain cells and endocrine glands; enhances the secretion of hormones; and removes toxins accumulated in the blood, which can help maintain a normal function of body tissues and organs.
Researchers have found numerous benefits to regular meditation. Neuroscientists at the University of Massachusetts Medical School asked two groups of stressed-out high-tech employees to either meditate over eight weeks or live as they normally do.
They found that the meditators “showed a pronounced shift in activity to the left frontal lobe,” reads a 2003 Psychology Today article. “This mental shift decreases the negative effects of stress, mild depression, and anxiety. There is also less activity in the amygdala, where the brain processes fear.”
Meditation also reduces brain shrinkage due to aging and enhances mood.
Aside from meditation, Buettner found that regularly scheduled downtime undoes inflammation, which is a reaction to stress. The Adventists in California strictly adhere to their 24-hour Sabbath and spend the time reflecting, praying, and enjoying their social circles.
Buettner also found that community is a huge factor in the longevity of blue-zone groups. Typical Okinawans have many close friends, with whom they share everything. Sardinian highlanders have a reverence for the elderly not found in modern Western societies. The Adventists put family first.
A sense of belonging and having healthy friends and family encourage the individual to live healthily as well.
In “Outliers,” Malcolm Gladwell examined a group of Italians called the Rosetans, who migrated to an area west of Bangor, Pennsylvania. Across the board, they had lower incidents of heart disease and generally lived long, healthy lives. After experiments, it was determined that their secret was not genetics or even diet (41 percent of their diet came from fat).
“The Rosetans had created a powerful, protective social structure capable of insulating them from the pressures of the modern world,” Gladwell wrote. “The Rosetans were healthy because of where they were from, because of the world they had created for themselves in their tiny little town in the hills.”
In his travels, Buettner came across a common theme among blue-zone groups: None of them had the concept of retirement. As it turns out, to keep going makes it easier to keep going.
Purposeful living into the sunset years is a mantra to the Okinawans and Sardinians. In those groups, Buettner met centenarian men and women who continued to climb hills, build fences, fish, and care for great-great-great-great grandchildren.
Interestingly, none of these centenarians exercise purposely as we Westerners who go to the gym do. “They simply live active lives that warrant physical activity,” Buettner said. They all walk, cook, and do chores manually, and many of them garden.
Viewpoint by Conrad Steinhoff originally published in the Lebanon Advertiser (Lebanon, Illinois)
Take notice, One Percenters: The Pope is not your friend. Pope Francis is dangerous. He is stirring up the rabble, the 99 percenters, especially the 47 percenters. He is also the nemesis of your vassals who look after your interests in legislative bodies and government agencies, not only here in the U.S. but around the world—wherever you need them to protect your assets.
There were early signs of his subversive tendencies. In fact, on day one of his papacy he came out to address the crowd in St. Peter’s square dressed not in the embroidered finery of the papacy, but in a plain white cossack. Instead of the traditional miter on his head, he wore a plain little skull cap. From there, things got more ominous by the day. He declined to ride in the Pope-mobile back to the hotel where the cardinals were staying. He climbed on the bus with them. He went to the hotel desk and paid his own bill. It gets worse. He declined the splendid papal apartment in the Vatican and is staying in a small apartment elsewhere on the grounds.
But now comes the ultimate thumb in your eye, One Percenters. He went to a juvenile detention center and washed the feet of the inmates there, including a Muslim girl! The message couldn’t be more clear. He has identified himself not with you, as have many of his predecessors, but with THEM. Not even the 99%, or the 47%, but with the bottom one percent.
He’s acting like Jesus. Now that is truly scary.
The Pope speaking in Cagliari, Italy
But he’s not only acting like Jesus, he’s talking like him, too. Recently he visited the city of Cagliari, the capital of Sardinia.[i] He came there to meet with unemployed workers. He had a prepared speech. But first, he invited those gathered there, 20,000 of them, to talk to him. One man, Francesco Mattana, a 45-year-old married father of three, spoke up. He had lost his job four years earlier and hasn’t been able to find another one. Mattana said, “Unemployment oppresses you and wears you out to the depths of your soul.”
At that, Pope Francis tossed aside his prepared speech and spoke from the heart—for twenty minutes. “I find suffering here…It weakens you and robs you of hope,” he said. “Where there is no work; there is no dignity.” The crowd chanted what Francis called a prayer: “Work, work, work!” Francis spoke of the rights of workers and the personal devastation caused by joblessness.
Then Francis was moved from empathy to anger. “We don’t want this globalized economic system which does us so much harm. Men and women have to be at the center (of an economic system) as God wants, not money,” he declared. “The world has become an· idolater of this god called money.”
He said globalization has brought with it a culture where the weakest in society suffered the most and often, where those on the fringes “fall away,” including the elderly, who he said are victims of a “hidden euthanasia” caused by neglect of those no longer considered productive. Strong stuff, indeed.
But wait, there’s more. “To defend this economic culture, a throwaway culture has been installed. We throw away grandparents, and we throw away young people. We have to say no to this throwaway culture. We want a just system which helps everyone, he continued. He ended with a prayer, asking God to “give us work and teach us to fight for work.”
How does that square with the determination of members of the U.S.Congress to cut $39 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps), while preserving huge subsidies for Big Agriculture?
Or attempting to de-fund the Affordable Care Act thereby keeping 47 million people from getting health insurance. And what does it do with Robert Benmosche, CEO of AIG, the corporation that wrote billions of dollars worth of derivative trades that went sour, helping plunge the economy into deep recession, destroying millions of jobs? Mr. Benmosche complained to a news reporter about the angry public uproar that followed announcement that he and other AIG execs were going to get whopping bonuses. He referred to the uproar as sounding like a lynch mob!
If Pope Francis has it his way, or rather Jesus’ way, One Percenters, you haven’t seen anything yet. Think how, when he was bishop of Buenos Aires, Francis sided with unemployed workers in their conflict with government austerity plans. And think about his parting words in Cagliari: “give us work and teach us to fight for work.” He’s calling for workers to organize and fight back from a position of power. He’s talking about labor unions! I told you he’s dangerous. You’ve spent the last 40 years undermining and destroying labor unions. Now this meddling· Jesus freak is calling on workers to organize.
In a way, you should be pleased. One of your stock arguments against welfare is that people should take; responsibility for their own destiny rather than depending on government to take care of them. Well, here they come, with the Pope leading the charge!
[i] As reported by Philip Pulella, of Reuters As reported by Philip Pulella, of Reuters.
Toni Townes-Whitley, Michelle Obama’s school pal & top official at CGI – winner of billion dollar no bid Obamacare website contract. Townes-Whitley with the Peace Corps in Africa, and then a stay-at-home mom for six years before CGI
American expatriates fall into two categories according to IRS rules. Those who qualify for the IRS earned income exclusion of $97,500 and those who don’t.
To qualify for the IRS $97,500 earned income exclusion (which means no tax on your first $97,500 plus housing cost deductions, etc,) you must either “be in a foreign country, or countries…throughout your period of bona fide residence or physical presence, whichever applies1.”
That means to qualify for the IRS exclusion you either have to have a residence or work visa in a foreign country, or remain outside of the U.S. for a full 330 days in any calendar year.
Those fortunate expatriates who qualify for the IRS earned exclusion are NOT subject to the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare)Obamacare.
Many retired American expatriates do not fall into this elite IRS category. They are therefore subject to Obamacare. Expatriate Americans who are subject to Obamacare must either pay a fine or enroll in Obamacare.
However, should expatriate Americans who are subject to Obamacare chose to enroll in Obamacare, they are committing a felony.
This is according to two sources. We met personally with the Social Security Administration (today) and with California’s Imperial County Department of Social Services (several days ago).
According to both institutions, it is a felony to enroll in Obamacare (or even Medicaid or Medi-Cal) when one is not actually physically living in the United States. This holds true even if the American expatriate owns a house or has a post office box in the United States.
Why this fact of committing a felony is not made public with the public is inexcusable.
The commission of a felony by American expatriates enrolling in Obamacare is easy for the United States authorities to verify. They keep track of each person’s entry into the United States. Each entry (or entries for a given day), no matter how short, counts for a full day in the United States. This is deducted from the 330 days required for the individual to claim the $97,500 earned income exclusion.
We have no estimates of how many American expatriates will be committing a felony by enrolling in Obamacare, but there are many American retirees living abroad. The best way for American expatriates to be safe from the law is to pay the penalty for not enrolling in Obamacare.
It is better to pay the Obamacare fine than to land up in prison and owing a fine and losing your civil rights as a felon.
Of course, if you do wind up in prison, you will be exempt from Obamacare during time served.
1 IRS Form 2555
Today, I logged into “Covered California,” California’s new health insurance exchange. Unlike the Obamacare website, everything seemed to be working quite well. For my questions, I was given a choice—a telephone conversation or a chat. I chose a chat and a separate chat screen opened.
I entered my question which was, “I am an American expat. I understand that American expats are subject to Obamacare if they do not qualify for the IRS income exclusion they are subject to Obamacare. Since I do not qualify for the IRS foreign income exclusion, I am subject to Obamacare. I have also been informed that, if I do enroll in an Obamacare insurance plan, since I am an expat, I will be committing a felony. Is this so?”
The chat screen showed me that I was number 128 on the list of people waiting and that the average wait time was a little over 28 minutes. Slowly I moved moved close to chatting with an agent in the chain of users, and was always given a new waiting time. Very good! Finally, I became the next user.
Instead of getting into a live chat, I received the screen with the information that there “are no agents available.” The screen, however, did give me the option to “REQUEST EMAIL RESPONSE.” That seemed just as good, as an agent could email me an answer.
I hit the button for the email response. The following screen (below) was an error screen stating, “Permission Denied.”
Either the agent at Covered California did not like my question or Covered California is no better than Obamacare.
Council Vice President Mr. Scott Douglas, Northrop Grumman Corporation; Admiral Gary Roughead, Chief of Naval Operation; Admiral Walter Doran (Ret’d), Raytheon International Asia; Mr. Leonard Francis, Executive Group Chairman, Glenn Defense Marine (Asia) Pte Ltd; RDML Nora Tyson, Commander Logistics Group Western Pacific
Yet another crook in Singapore—super-rich Fat Leonard who lives in a 70,000 square foot house on Singapore’s exclusive Nassim Road. No, that’s not a typo—a 70,000 square foot house.
Fat Leonard, whose real name is Leonard Glenn Francis 58, is from Malaysia, but has lived in Singapore for at least 30 years.
Francis is the president and CEO of Singapore-based Glenn Defense Marine Asia, which has had “husbanding” contracts for US Navy ships at ports worldwide for 25 years.
Since 2011, Glenn Defense Marine has been awarded more than $200 million in U.S, Navy contracts.
Francis has now been arrested for bribing high-ranking U.S. Naval officers.
The bribes allegedly went to US Navy Commander Michael Vannak Khem Misiewicz (originally from Cambodia) and Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) Supervisory Special Agent John Bertrand Beliveau II. They are accused of accepting bribes from Francis in exchange for preferential treatment regarding contracts, as well as for tipping the company off to federal fraud investigations. The bribes were also for revealing confidential naval routes—a breach of U.S. national defense.
These bribes enabled Francis to overcharge millions for food, fuel, phony tariffs and other charges at Asian ports.
Francis Christmas decorations at his 70,000 square foot Singapore mansion
Francis supplied prostitutes, Lady Gaga tickets and other bribes in exchange for the top-secret information that allowed him to rob the U.S. Navy of millions when the ships were serviced in Asian ports, federal prosecutors allege.
Francis was arrested in San Diego on September 16 after federal investigators set up a sham meeting with Navy officials. Misiewicz and Beliveau were arrested in Colorado and Virginia, respectively, on the same day and have been delivered to San Diego to face trial with Francis.
In Singapore, Francis is known not only for his extravagant 70,000 square foot Singapore home but for lavish Christmas displays. He is legendary in naval circles, said retired Rear Adm. Terry McKnight. “He’s a larger-than-life figure. You talk to any captain on any ship that has sailed in the Pacific and they will know exactly who he is,” he said.
It may be quite a while before Francis returns to his 70,000 square foot house.
CONTACT INFORMATION: Glenn Marine Group of Companies, Glenn Building, 15D Pandan Road, Singapore 609266, Tel: +65 6268 5300, Fax: +65 6776 1263
November 7, 2013 update:
A third senior official, U.S. Navy Cmdr. Jose Luiz Sanchez, 41, was arrested in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday and charged with accepting escorts, high-end hotels, pricey plane tickets, $100,000 cash and a bevy of other payoffs from Leonard Francis.
November 9, 2013 update:
Rear Admiral Bruce Loveless, director of intelligence operations, and Vice Admiral Ted Branch, director of naval intelligence – the highest-ranking officers to be implicated in the Francis affair – suspended from duty.
Vice Admiral Ted Branch, director of naval intelligence, and Rear Admiral Bruce Loveless, director of intelligence operations, are involved with “illegal and improper relations” with Leonard Francis according to the U.S, Navy.
Both Admirals have been suspended from duty in this breach of U.S. national security.
The U.S. Navy has said that more charges are likely.
Francis appeared in federal court on November 8th in San Diego on bribery allegations. Singapore operative, Alex Wisidagama, Francis alleged “bagman,” also appeared in court with Francis.
The bribes were to have ships dock at Asian ports controlled by Francis, who overcharged the Navy for fuel, food and other services, according to the criminal complaints filed in San Diego.
Prosecutors said Friday they would seek a protective order to shield any of the evidence from the media and the public in this growing scandal.
The size and scope of Francis’ operation over many years raises the question if Singapore’s government was aware of, or involved in Francis’ affaires—a serious breach of U.S. national security.
If so, should the U.S. Navy continue to use Singapore’s port facilities?