There Will Be Others More

U.S. Government Agrees to Massive Citigroup Bailout


WASHINGTON — The federal government agreed Sunday night to rescue Citigroup Inc. by helping to absorb potentially hundreds of billions of dollars in losses on toxic assets on its balance sheet and injecting fresh capital into the troubled financial giant.

The agreement marks a new phase in government efforts to stabilize U.S. banks and securities firms. After injecting nearly $300 billion of capital into financial institutions, federal officials now appear to be willing to help shoulder bad assets, on a targeted basis, from specific institutions.

Citigroup is one of the world's best-known banking brands, with more than 200 million customer accounts in 106 countries. Its plunging stock price threatened to spook customers and imperil the bank.

If the government's rescue plan is a success, it could help bring stability to the entire financial system. If it doesn't, even deeper doubts about the industry's future could spread.

After a weekend of marathon talks between Citigroup executives and top federal officials, the parties late Sunday night nailed down a package in which the government will help protect the company from its riskiest assets.

Under the plan, Citigroup and the government have identified a pool of about $306 billion in troubled assets. Citigroup will absorb the first $29 billion in losses in that portfolio. After that, three government agencies — the Treasury Department, the Federal Reserve and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. — will take on any additional losses, though Citigroup could have to share a small portion of additional losses.

The plan would essentially put the government in the position of insuring a slice of Citigroup's balance sheet. That means taxpayers will be on the hook if Citigroup's massive portfolios of mortgage, credit cards, commercial real-estate and big corporate loans continue to sour.

In exchange for that protection, Citigroup will give the government warrants to buy shares in the company.

In addition, the Treasury Department also will inject $20 billion of fresh capital into Citigroup. That comes on top of the $25 billion infusion that Citigroup recently received as part of the the broader U.S. banking-industry bailout.

The government and Citigroup had hoped to unveil the plan early Sunday evening, but negotiations dragged on longer than expected. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson began briefing Congressional leaders about the plan later in the evening.

Read the full report at the Wall Street Journal

There are others more out there. But for how long can they still hold their breaths? Not much longer. Carefully watch and listen then understand, because their distress are as the flash of a light and their anxiety are as the noise of a sound. The lightnings of their distress are already flashing across the thick dark sky, and their thunders of anxiety are already roaring above the lands.

In a resources-constrained rescue scenario not all could be saved no matter how you would want to, therefore it is important to at least have some idea of who are those that need to be rescued so that the rescuer can properly prioritize according to the limits of his capacity and resources. Otherwise, there will only be minimal effect achieved when it could have been maximized.

Be very prudent with the resources, lest they will run out quickly before the season is over.


Using Some Bait Might Help Catch The Sharks

Russia sending More Ships in Pirate Crackdown


Russia will send additional ships to the Horn of Africa in an effort to crack down on the recent wave of hijackings by Somalia-based pirates, its navy chief said Thursday.

The Russian frigate Neustrashimy is already in the region and has helped repel pirate attacks on at least two ships. Adm. Vladimir Vysotsky told the official news agency Ria Novosti that more ships would be joining it soon.

"After Neustrashimy, Russia will be sending warships from other fleets to this region," Vysotsky said. No additional details were provided.

A NATO-led international fleet has attempted to crack down on the attacks. An Indian frigate battled a pirate ship in the Gulf of Aden on Tuesday, leaving the ship ablaze and likely sunk, the country's defense ministry reported.

In September, Vysotsky said Russian ships would be operating on their own. But the crews of the Neustrashimy and the British frigate HMS Cumberland teamed up to chase off pirates who attacked a Danish ship in the gulf earlier this month.

More than 90 ships have been attacked off eastern Africa so far this year, according to the International Maritime Bureau, which monitors piracy. The pirates, who operate from largely lawless Somalia, still hold 17 vessels -- including the Saudi-owned supertanker Sirius Star, the largest ship captured to date.

The pirates typically hold the ships and their crews for ransom, and Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal said Wednesday that the tanker's owners were in talks with the hijackers.

"We do not like to negotiate with either terrorists or hijackers, but the owners of the tanker are the owners of the tanker and they are the final arbiters of what happens there."

Click here to read full text.

These pirates might also be defeated by taking advantage of their own weakness -- their desire to hunt for merchant ships.


Economic Equality vs. Equality of Opportunity

Challenges of Democracy
Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia

One of the biggest hurdles democracy had to overcome in order to be genuine was the question of whether political equality should be granted to individuals who were economically unequal. In other words, should property qualifications for voting be abolished? When the United States Constitution was adopted, there were property qualifications for voting in the states. By the time Andrew Jackson left the White House in 1837, these limitations on voting rights, which applied to white males only, had generally been abolished. Women and slaves still could not vote, but the abolition of limitations on voting rights was a large step in making democracy true to its name.

During the 19th century, largely as a result of the French Revolution, the opposite question was posed by many political writers. Should those who are politically equal be made economically equal by the force of government power? Socialist and Communist writers, most notably Karl Marx, thought so. They proposed that society, whether peacefully or by revolution, be made over so that a genuine equality of economic conditions would prevail.

Attempts to achieve such societies were made in the 20th century. The best-known experiments involved revolutions -- Russian, Chinese, Cuban, Nicaraguan, Indochinese, and others. More peaceful means were used in England, Sweden, Norway, and other welfare states. The United States, though not as extensively a welfare state, has used peaceful means to achieve some measure of what is perceived to be economic justice. Where the structure of the welfare state was achieved peacefully, it was often preceded by decades of labor strife. But revolutions were avoided, and laws were passed that tried to redistribute wealth.

Whether by revolution or legislation, history seems to show that attempts to create economic democracy are destined for failure. Economic forces absolutely defy political legislation aimed at equality. The stronger the attempt to install economic equality, the greater the failure of the economy itself. The general result has been an equality of poverty.

If, however, economic democracy is defined as providing equality of opportunity for all -- rather than equal economic status for all -- then this type of democracy has been at least partially achieved by societies that do not demand the same level of prosperity for everyone. (The United States, Great Britain, and Japan serve as examples.)

Democracy cannot be guaranteed success or permanence. Many democracies have been overthrown. Those in ancient Greece succumbed to tyrants and, finally, to the kings of Macedon in the 4th century BC. Rome became an empire. The Weimar Republic in Germany disintegrated into dictatorship in 1933.

Democracy can collapse for a variety of reasons. Economic or political adversities can lead to popular demands for remedies. Politicians eager for power offer remedies, but, once they have seized power, the leaders become tyrants. This happened in Russia in 1917 and in Italy in the 1920s. In the United States during the Great Depression there were many populist leaders who sought unlimited power for themselves by offering solutions to the crisis.

Representative democracy can fail when representatives cease to represent those who elect them. Elected officials, in order to stay in office, frequently serve special interests or foreign governments instead of their constituents. This failure in representation, however, is mostly the fault of the citizenry. Through lack of education, lack of interest, and unwillingness to be informed on complex issues, the citizens abdicate their responsibilities and turn them over to officials and party leaders. Hence, a division between government and the citizens begins to emerge; and democracy is therefore diminished.

Money is not the root of evil. It is the love of its power that is evil.

Wealth is power, and it can corrupt leaders. It is a venal servant yet a tyrant master.

Grant someone great wealth, and you will test his integrity. Give him power, and you will discover his true character.

Corruption is an oligarchy of a dishonest leadership.


To Believe Is To See

Who has seen the wind?
Neither I nor you:
But when the leaves hang trembling
The wind is passing thro'

Who has seen the wind?
Neither you nor I:
But when the trees bow down their heads
The wind is passing by. - Christina Georgina Rossetti

The wind blows where it wants to, and you hear its sound, but don't know where it comes from and where it is going. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit. (John 3:8)

In the physical realm the guiding principle is, "to see is to believe". But in the metaphysical realm, "to believe is to see."

There are ideas of which the truth of them cannot easily be fully understood or satisfactorily be proven logically without the element of faith – the existence of God is but one of them.

Consider the whole concept of the entire universe. With all of man's sciences, can he fully fathom the vastness of the expanse of the universe and the ever growing number of cosmic bodies with the countless molecules of all the matters that comprise them, and explain completely how everything works as they are in perfect order and harmony? Not, of course. This fact just demonstrates the finiteness of the capacity of the human understanding. If to completely comprehend the fullness of the physical realm (the entire universe) is beyond the capacity of mankind, how much more far beyond mankind's capacity is it to completely comprehend the fullness of the metaphysical realm?

God, a metaphysical entity, cannot be proven adequately using concrete physical methodologies of science. The acceptance of the truth of God is primarily a function of faith rather than of reason. To attempt to explain the fullness of God using the finite human understanding defies basic principles of logic. It would be comparable to an ant trying to fully understand a computer with all of its complexities.

As beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, faith is in the inner being of the believer. How else is beauty perceived but by the "seeing" of the object of beauty? ("Seeing", as used here, does not refer only to the perception through the faculty of the eyes.)

Similarly, faith comes by "hearing" the truth of God. ("Hearing", as used here, is not limited only to the perception through the faculty of the ears.)

Faith is the substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things not seen.

You know that another human being is in the other end of the phone because he/she hears and understands and responds consistently according to what you are communicating. Answered prayers of true believers are not just one manifestation of the existence of God, but also it is an evidence that God is a living metaphysical entity with an intellect that is far beyond man's. God hears and responds accordingly as asked but in ways not always understood. non-existent, or non-living, or imagined beings do not hear nor respond.

Do you want to prove yourself that God really exists? Do you have any real problem that is beyond your immediate capacity to solve? Try asking God for help by praying a “valid” prayer. When your prayer is answered, you will perhaps begin to believe. To see is to believe? Try again every next time you have a bigger problem.

To discover that “God is who God is” can only be possible by faith. To believe is to see.

Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. (John 20:29)


Oh God, Things Are Simply Not Working!

US Blames Taliban for Afghan Deaths
Al Jazeera News

The US military says that Taliban fighters prevented civilians from fleeing clashes in southern Afghanistan, leading to the deaths of about 40 people, believed to have been attending a wedding ceremony.

US and Afghan forces killed several Taliban fighters in the battle, which took place in Kandahar, the US military said on Thursday.

The military did not specify how many civilians were killed in the fighting, but villagers say that about 37 civilians died in a US air raid on Monday.

The bombing run was called in as part of the fighting between US forces and Taliban fighters in the area.

The military's statement said that fighters attacked a US-led patrol that was moving through the Shah Wali Kot region of Kandahar between Monday and Wednesday.

"Civilians reportedly attempted to leave the area, but the insurgents forced them to remain," the US military said, but did not specify where the report was from.

Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, condemned on Wednesday the killings, saying that 40 people had been killed and 28 wounded as a result of an air raid.

Click here to read full text.


Liberty vs. Equality

Liberty may be defined as freedom or release from slavery, imprisonment, captivity, or any other form of arbitrary control. While euality may be defined as having the same rights, privileges, ability, rank, etc.

Have you seen director Michael Moore's documentary film "SICKO" on socialized healthcare system which many American anti-socialism criticized heavily? For those who have not yet seen it, watch it. It's also on unscheduled showing at Star Movies cable TV maybe due to the U.S. presidential election.

Perahpas to put some context to the message conveyed by Moore's film, here is a bit of information from Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia.

Liberty vs. Equality

One of the purposes of the United States Constitution, as stated in the Preamble, is to "secure the blessings of liberty." Equality is nowhere mentioned, because the writers of the Constitution did not envision a popular democracy of the 20th-century style. They were establishing a constitutional republic in which only some citizens had full political rights.

For the generation that created the Constitution, liberty was more in the foreground than democracy. Those who had fought in the American Revolution did so in order to liberate themselves from Great Britain. They wanted to pursue the opportunities available in the New World, without the restrictions of the laws, demands, and taxes set by Parliament and the king. When they made a new constitution, they set up a government that, for the first time, did not automatically claim the right to oversee all aspects of society, including its economic pursuits.

Because there was obviously opportunity enough for all in a large and mostly unsettled country, the Constitution was designed to secure the blessings of liberty for all Americans to pursue their own livelihoods. To help them do this, the first Congress passed the Bill of Rights--the first ten amendments to the Constitution. While the government guaranteed the individual's right to the pursuit of happiness, how well the individual succeeded in attaining happiness was not the government's concern. If a person failed, government offered little assistance. Freedom only removed the barriers to advancement.

Across the Atlantic Ocean, in the kingdom of France, another revolution began in 1789. Although the revolutionist slogan of the French peasants was "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity," they were willing to jeopardize their civil liberty and their bonds of brotherhood for the primary goal of equality. From the ferment of the French Revolution emerged, for the first time, demands for equality in all respects--political, social, and economic. The French Revolution inspired the socialist and Communist movements that eventually led to the 20th-century revolutions.

The contrast between the American and French revolutions on one point is significant. The Americans exalted liberty and were willing to let equality take care of itself. The French espoused equality at all costs. A real conflict emerges between liberty and equality if either is carried to an extreme. When equality is forced, personal freedoms usually give way, and inequality is inevitable in a society granted unlimited liberties. Modern democracies have not been able to resolve this conflict.

On Being Neither Liberal Nor Conservative

By Fr. James V. Schall, S.J.
Ignatius Insight

The division of the world into "liberal" and "conservative" on every topic from politics to our taste in cuisine, clothes, or automobiles is one of the really restricting developments that has ever happened to us. If we are not what is considered popularly a "liberal," then we must, by some convoluted logic, be a "conservative," or vice versa. No third or fourth option is available as is usually the case in the real world. It has to be, we are told, either this way or that.

Such a view makes things very simple, I suppose. But it also reduces our minds to utter fuzziness. We are required to define everything as either liberal or conservative even when the two allowable terms of definition are not adequate to explain the reality that they are intended to describe.

Our political language is likewise amusingly confusing, especially when used to describe theological issues or currents. When I am asked whether I am a "liberal" or a "conservative," I reply that I am a "Thomist." Needless to say, Thomas, who was once considered a liberal Whig, is now considered a hopeless conservative, even though what he actually held defies such simple categories. In Thomas’s own methodology, the first thing he did was precisely to define what is a liberal or what is a conservative. He then explained why both, while containing some point of truth, were inadequate. Yet, it is almost impossible to escape this system of "either conservative or liberal," since whatever other category we use becomes merely grist for the liberal/conservative dichotomy. [...]

[...] Whether the notions of "liberal" or "conservative" themselves are, in content, stable and definite concepts or not is another–and not unimportant–matter. An economic liberal of the nineteenth century is a conservative economist today, but the ideas are roughly the same. The liberals of one age notoriously become the conservatives of the next. But without some criterion of judgment both notions may indicate mere change, not either decline or improvement.

Most social coercion today seems to come from those called liberal/left, not from those called conservatives, who are pretty "liberal" by comparison to self-designated "liberals." But then social coercion has always been a trademark of the left, which is overly anxious to improve things in this world, as, in their view, there is no other world or no other way to accomplish any improvement. So we find a certain impatience and restlessness in their agenda. The spiritual origins of totalitarianism are often found in a certain impatience at the slowness of the world to become what the ideologies tell us it ought to become.

Take another set of oft-heard words–"radical" or "revolutionary," for instance. Or take "dogmatic" or "reactionary." The first thing we need to notice is that each of these words has something fluid about it. What was once considered to be "liberal" can come to be called "reactionary." How so? Take, for instance, the Muslim practice of having four wives. In context, this precept should rather be stated, "having only four wives." It was a "conservative" standard. For this limit was originally conceived as a restriction–four, not ten or twenty. Who is more "liberal," the man with four wives or the one with ten? In this context, the really "radical" or "revolutionary" man is the one with only one wife. He is the one defying the culture. Yet, in a society of widespread divorce and infidelity, having only one wife is "conservative," if not down right primitive or reactionary, except for the fact that primitives never seem to have evolved the one wife theory. That came from Christianity, though it was in the logic of marriage itself.

That is to say, if most every one maintains that abortion, divorce, homosexuality, and so on are all right, it is a truly brave and "radical" view to think that they are not and to have reasons why they are not. After so much argument or controversy, we have to decide where we stand. If we think that the proper way to act is what was handed down to us, we are not "normal" citizens of this culture for whom the Decalogue can be changed, even by a pope, so they think. We go against such a view by holding that there are truths in every time. We are "liberal" or "radical" or even "revolutionary" over against the ingrained habits and established laws of our time, which do not reflect abiding standards.

There is, in the end, something beyond liberal and conservative. That is the truth of things according to which we have a criterion that is not constantly changing between liberal and conservative and, in the meantime, one that means nothing but what we want it to mean. Thus if we claim we are "neither liberal nor conservative," we announce that there are criteria that exist outside of our narrow way of thinking, categories that better define for us what we are and ought to be.

Sometimes you will realize that some of your ways and ideas of doing things are not much better than your competitor when your competitor is the first one to be given the opportunity to do things by his ways and ideas.

Competition becomes a negative thing when competitors aim their strengths and talents to destroy each other. When people work together for selfish ends, cooperation turns into a negative thing. But when competitors get their strengths challenged and their talents enhanced and come out accomplished in the end, competition yields its true spirit. And when people collaborate using their individual strengths for the common good, so desirable cooperation is.

Would it be possible for people to compete in order to cooperate? Competitive cooperation, or cooperative competition?