Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Dead (or dead)

Although pains were taken to hide the identity of the SEAL Team Six officer who took part in last year's raid that killed Osama Bin Laden, his true name was revealed today.    Regardless of the propriety of this or whether he should have written the account at all, the implication he makes -- that the goal of the raid was to kill Obama period, not to kill only if he resisted capture -- is worrisome.   That one can do whatever he or she wants to achieve a goal.

To be very brief:  I don't mind Osama being dead, to be honest.   But it would have been more satisfying to see him stand trial for the crimes he committed in Kenya, Tanzania, Sudan and Pakistan, as well as in the United States.   I believe no expense should be spared at rounding up the rest of the gang -- but it should be done with an aim to justice, not revenge.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Harper putting screws on Roma, and it's wrong

I would have thought detention centres for would-be refugees were a thing of the past.   But in the last few days we've actually heard the Cons say that if their refugee "reforms" don't move things fast enough they are prepared to round up the in-process Roma population and confine them until they have their hearings.   And that's not the only proverbial baby that Harper wants to throw out with the bathwater.

Detention camps should have gone the way of the passenger pigeon.   They existed during World War II in Canada for the Japanese, Italians and Ukrainians because of a perceived "threat" to Canadian values.   Forcing the Roma into internal exile now is no better than what we as a country did seventy years ago.

And it leads to another problem.    The law of unintended consequences.

Although German Chancellor Angela Merkel said last week she wants to use her influence to finish up the negotiations on the proposed Canada - European Union trade, labour and copyright agreement by years' end -- our government may be actually prepared to put that into the trash can after four years of painstaking clause by clause drafting.    It is considering imposing visa restrictions on Hungary just as it has with the Czech Republic (since both are perceived as exit points for Roma refugee claimants).   Since most of the EU (as well as the four countries in EFTA all of which have adopted the Schengen rules -- and which we already have a trade agreement with) have mostly open borders and imposes no travel restrictions on visitors  who travel throughout the trade area (generally up to 90 days in a six month period for the area as a whole, not for each country), it would naturally insist on no travel restrictions on any EU country going the other way to Canada.   If there's one set of rules for 24 countries and another one for the other two, there's a big problem.

I have said before that while I think there are some fraudulent claimants among the Roma, that can be said for virtually any ethnicity.    I also think that prejudice no matter what ethnicity it's aimed at is reprehensible -- Antiziganism, as it's called in this case, is just as bad as Antisemitism.  But I have also said that since there exists the right of abode for those who have citizenship in one EU country to live in any other state in the bloc, that other countries in the bloc should be considered for residency before a claimant looks here.   
 While this may effectively create an "internally displaced persons" situation (i.e. refugees in one's own country or trade area) -- not unlike the United States which has about 700,000 IDPs escaping gang violence and which peaked at over 1.2 million in the recent past after the Katrina disaster -- finding a place to stay without having to go through the painstaking process of immigration is, I think, way simpler.   And it's not like there's no violence committed against Roma here because of course there is.

For a claim of this nature to work, one would have to say that there's a well founded fear of persecution that extends to all of Europe -- that no matter whether some moves to France, Germany, the UK or Sweden, there will be no safe home.    But it certainly begs the question -- isn't it easier to prove this out in the open rather than behind bars?

Frankly, not even the way some other countries do it -- letting the claimants out on unlimited day passes so they can work as long as they return before curfew -- isn't much better.   These are in way out places with no connection to the main country to which they want to live permanently.   Remember when Ezra Levant suggested we dump the Tamils on Haida Gwaii until they proved their case?

The thinking here for the Roma is exactly the same.   It's racist, prejudicial and unwarranted.   By all means, legal refugees and illegitimate immigrants should be documented so we know who's here and resources such as for health care and education can be deployed correctly.   But our mostly respected immigration policy will be shot to pieces if this goes through.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Since when was rape "legitimate"?

Just when we thought VP Joe Biden Jr had shot off his mouth yet again when he said that bank deregulation like what Mitt Romney is proposing would put Americans -- blacks in particular -- "in chains" (which would not be my choice of words) ...

... comes this moron, Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO 2), challenging Dem Senator Claire McCaskill, who actually had the temerity to say a woman's body can induce a miscarriage in case of a "legitimate rape."   He later clarified this to mean "forcible rape" but that made things worse.  Even the GOP is furious and has demanded he "do what's best for the country" (i.e. withdraw his candidacy) by 5 PM Central today (2200 GMT); or they will get the courts to strip him of his party's line on the ballot.   Akin has backtracked today only slightly, saying "I apologize."   We all know what that means.   Absolutely nothing.

McCaskill, the widow of Mel (and who took his Senate seat when he unexpectedly died before the 2000 election -- and "the dead guy won" over John Ashcroft who promptly got Dubya's AG slot) -- has been seen as "vulnerable" this time around due to Barack Obama's lackluster performance as President; but this snide remark by Akin is more than an unexpected lucky break.   It's a piñata filled with gold coins.

There are people on both sides of the aisle, both men and women, who have nothing but contempt for "the better half" but Akin's screed is more than just reprehensible.   It has no consciousness behind it whatsoever.

I know women who have been raped.   Most had an abortion.   The rest carried to term.   But none of them had the expectation they would be able to prevent a pregnancy by willing it.   Heck, even women who do have consensual sex with their male partner know that each act can plausibly result in pregnancy.

For my part and as a man I don't consider sexual assault, whether there's penetration or not, to be sex at all.   That's because it isn't; it's an act of violence.   Period.   Where there is no consent, whether spoken or implied, it is not a legitimate act.   And comments like Akin's or "retractions" that don't address the issue at hand are totally unacceptable.   Frankly I don't think saying "I'm sorry" would cut it now, it's way too late for that.

(I can only think of two recent examples where mistakes of huge magnitude resulted in an "I'm sorry" and only one of them was political -- Tony Blair's WMD faux pas. The other was the Maple Leaf ™ listeria scandal.)

If this is what passes for discourse these days in politics, those who are considering public office as a career choice would certainly have to stop to ask, why?   Either you say something totally off base and hope you can get away with it or you speak the truth and are shunned for it.   But on this one, there is a stark choice.   Left or right, either you say "No means no" or you don't believe that.   And if it's the latter, you'd better hope it doesn't happen to your wife, daughter or sister.   Or you.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Isn't it time to put an end to the Međugorje fraud?

Being someone who happens to be a kid born in Canada of parents from Croatia, this is bound to ruffle some feathers including some within my "ethnic group".    But it's way past time to put logic into the alleged three decades long non-stop apparitions of the Virgin Mary in Međugorje, Bosnia-Hercegovina (B and H) -- and say once and for all what a lot of people want to say:    The whole thing is a fraud.

The whole sordid thing started way back on June 24. 1981, the feast of St. John the Baptist.    (That's a red flag right there.)    It started with three "visionaries" and has since expanded to six.  It would be fine if there had been a limited number of "appearances".   But non stop for 31 years straight almost daily?   That's about 7,500 give or take.

Those who have flocked to this former weigh station claim to feel a "presence" that's there.   They believe it was the Virgin Mary that freed both Croatia and Slovenia from the "clutches" of Serbia (even though the Eastern Orthodox churches also have a high degree of devotion to the mother of Jesus); and as proof they point to, among other things, a mortar shell that plied upright into the ground near the local parish but  did not explode.   (Um, the Balkan War actually put an end to "duds"?)

But there are a few other problems.   It's not that the first wave of visions during the last half of 1981 started an extremely lengthy row between the Franciscan order and the cadre of priests employed directly by the relevant diocese and who controlled the particular parish in question here.    Nor is it the occasional "dancing of the sun" -- the same fraudulent phenomena that allegedly occurred at Fátima , Portugal, in 1917.   (I'll explain why I think it was a fake in a moment).

Consider too, some of the following outrageous prophecies made at Međugorje (Source: -- and keep in mind, these are just some of the whoppers -- and none of which happened:
  •  Then Pope John Paul II would be forced out in a putsch and exiled to Turkey, where maybe a third of one percent of the population are Catholics, most of them from the Eastern rites and perhaps a few thousand are part of the Western or Roman rite.
  • Germany and the US would both collapse.   There's still a US.  And East and West Germany along with the free city of West Berlin not only all reunited, but the fused country also agreed de facto to share its currency with any other state that wanted it, hence the Euro (which, bizarrely, B and H has adopted unilaterally as its own currency with protest but no sanctions from Frankfurt).
  • There would be a lasting peace in Yugoslavia.    Ha!   The country was torn apart in a bloody war.   B and H effectively operates as a confederation of two states with a shared capital -- not unlike Belgium although the latter uses fighting words instead of the sword.  Even the two republics that were majority Catholic, Croatia and Slovenia, wasn't quite that hunky-dory until very recently and the once open border was slammed shut when Slovenia got into the EU much earlier (2004) than Croatia (admission will be mid-2013).    Serbia is probably next (say, 2015) but it will be 2020 at the earliest before B and H qualifies.   Add in Macedonia -- and the country will be put back together, de facto, although as part of a semi-federal Europe stretching from Ireland and the UK to Finland and Estonia.   The peace will be one of economic necessity, not because of an "Ebony and Ivory" spirit.
Oh yeah, and there was the time when the "Virgin" appeared first as Satan, then suddenly transformed into the Virgin, saying something like, "Sorry, I made a mistake."   Protestants would agree she wouldn't make a mistake like that -- 2 Corinthians 11:14.   Even St. Bernadette Soubirous, who led a virtuous life but had a highly suspect series of visions in Lourdes, France (I think she was hallucinating), was quick to point this out to the Gendarmerie, the French national police.   When one of its officers suggested she was seeing Satan, Bernadette said, "The Devil is not as beautiful as she."    Precisely.

Back to the "dancing of the sun."   I don't know about Međugorje (which has taken it to ridiculous levels), but even what happened in Fátima is also highly suspicious and for this reason:   When Jesus was dared by the Pharisees to perform a sign from the sky, Jesus said the only sign they would see is the miracle of Jonah (three days in the Earth followed by a comeback) -- Matthew 12:39.   A reasonable person would point out that if Jesus refused to force a cosmic disturbance, why would his mother?   There's no doubt something happened that day -- too many eyewitnesses to suggest otherwise.   But it was Satan who did that -- not Mary or her Son.
A special commission by the current Pope, Benedict XVI, was formed two years ago.   Common sense dictates that this series of "apparitions" and "messages"should be called out for what they are -- a fraud.   There's simply no evidence of the supernatural (non constat de supernaturalitate), and there is evidence of no supernatural activity (constat de non supernaturalitate).

In short, the six are all con artists -- and the commission should recommend that they be kicked out of the Church.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Romney: Assuring defeat with Paul Ryan?

Do Vice Presidential choices matter?   For 97% of those who vote, no.  But veep picks can often set the tone for the success or failure of a campaign or administration.

There have been a few lackluster choices on the Democratic side.   But why is it that GOP Presidential nominees more often than not pick running mates that are losers?   I do say more often than not, but consider that the perceived "losers" often turn out be "winners" and vice versa.

Let's go through some of the more recent past choices:

1948:  Thomas Dewey chose Earl Warren.    This election was the very narrow "Dewey Defeats Truman" fiasco for the Republicans.    Warren, the Governor of California and the leader of the Republican's liberal wing, was eventually appointed by Dwight Eisenhower to be Chief Justice of the United State and would lead the Supreme Court to its many pro-civil rights decisions that changed race relations, and police procedures, forever.   (Of course, Warren also ensured much of the truth behind the JFK murder would remain classified for decades.)

1952 and 1956:  Eisenhower chose Richard Nixon.   After a near career ending media storm over the propriety of an expense allowance and how it was used, Nixon went on national TV to deliver the now (in)famous "Checkers Speech" that persuaded most people he was a straight talking guy and Ike got the win on reverse coattails.   Dick was a mostly competent Veep but suffered a setback when facing a solid South delegation in the Senate that refused to pass major civil rights reforms (that would have to wait for LBJ, a Democrat, in 1964).

1960:   Nixon chose the career diplomat Henry Cabot Lodge Jr.   Dick figured that a popular guy from Massachusetts would force JFK to spend more time in his home state.   Guess how that turned out.

1964:   Barry Goldwater chose William E. Miller, a veteran of World War II and one of the American prosecutors in the Nuremberg Trials.    A true honour, but through no fault of his own, he and Goldwater didn't stand a chance after the truly infamous "Daisy" ad appeared (just once).

1968 and 1972:   Nixon, getting a Mulligan, picks Spiro Agnew.     He was Dick's hatchet man -- or at the least the one not involved in the Watergate scandals -- and became the self-proclaimed voice of the so-called "Silent Majority."    Later forced to resign in 1973 over taking bribes while Governor of Maryland, although officially he pleaded nolo contendere to tax evasion.   (For what it was worth, his fellow lawyers in his home state disbarred him, and his official portrait as a former Governor of the state was removed and wasn't rehanged until twenty-three years later).

1976:   Until 1967, a vacancy in the Vice-Presidency remained vacant.   The 25th Amendment, passed in 1967, changed that -- permitting a President to nominate a replacement subject to approval by both the House and Senate (not just the latter as for other Executive appointments).   Nixon made a fine choice in Gerald R. Ford, the House Republican leader, who of course became President a few months later, when Nixon resigned after realizing impeachment by the House was a certainty and he would be stripped of office in the Senate (and the removal process was a true bi-partisan effort, not like the farces of Andrew Johnston in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998).

Ford's decision to pardon Nixon was hugely controversial at the time; but given how hot the Middle East was becoming politically and facing stepladder inflation, putting an end to the fiasco so the country could focus on more important things was the right thing to do.   Ford, in turn, chose Nelson Rockefeller as his own replacement -- which would have been fine overall, except for the infamous zero-tolerance drug laws passed while the latter served as Governor of New York State (and which were only rolled back in 2009).

When Ford got the nod to win a full term in office, after beating off a very close challenge from only one person, Ronald Reagan (the primary vote was nearly tied, and the choice went to the convention floor), Ford wanted to keep Rockefeller.   But largely bullied by Team Reagan who threatened to sit at home if Nelson stayed on the ticket, Ford caved in and picked -- believe it or not -- Bob Dole.    While Dole is nowhere near as doctrinaire as some might think (and is a decent man),  Ford lost by a very narrow margin to Jimmy Carter, and for the rest of his life Ford would regret caving in to the Christian Right.

1980 and 1984:    To appease the moderate wing of the GOP, and after Ford made clear he didn't want a "Co-Presidency", The Gipper chose the elder George Bush.   (The bad economy and the hostage crisis didn't help Carter and Walter Mondale either ... and the flying high economy slammed the door on Mondale when he ran as Prez in '84 too.)   Not much other comment here, Bush was definitely an outstanding choice even if he did flip-flop on the abortion issue (although his wife, the elder Barbara, never has).  

1988 and 1992:   Running as his own man, Bush 41 dispatched his opponents with ease despite an admitted lack of "The Vision Thing"; and it became even easier when Gary Hart got caught cheating -- right in the act -- and the last man left standing for the Dems was the competent but anemic, and even more uncharismatic than Bush, Michael Dukakis.    Of all the much more worthy possibilities, Bush choice Danforth Quayle.   He set the standard for W's "Bushisms".  Those of us young enough to remember Quayle couldn't get enough of foot-in-mouth moments.   Forget "You're no Jack Kennedy" -- my personal favourite is when he mangled the United Negro College Fund's "A mind is a terrible thing to waste ™"  into:  "What a waste it is to lose one's mind. Or not to have a mind is being very wasteful. How true that is."    To be far to Dan, he is a classy guy overall and was also competent as Veep, but his foibles were just one of several drags on the elder Bush (the far larger one, of course, was the economy at that time.)    His biggest post executive legacy is his founding the Museum of Vice Presidents.   I'm not kidding.

1996:   Bob Dole was not fooling anyone when he resigned from the Senate in an "all or nothing" gamble, and renamed his campaign jet "Citizen Ship" from "Leader Ship", then unsuccessfully made fun of (and misinterpreted) Hilary Clinton's "It Takes A Village" when he said "It takes a family to raise a family".   (As now Secretary of State Clinton pointed out in reply to Dole:" [I]t takes a family. It takes teachers. It takes clergy. It takes business people. It takes community leaders. It takes those who protect our health and safety. It takes all of us. Yes, it takes a village.")

Be that as it may, a lot of people did take notice when Dole chose Jack Kemp, a true "progressive conservative" if there ever has been one in the States.   A former Buffalo Bills player, Kemp was very strong on the right to privacy.    As Bush 41's Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Kemp was forced to clean up a huge mess of an agency left to rot by Reagan and Kemp's immediate predecessor and eventually had to call in federal prosecutors to investigate clear evidence of influence peddling.   Incredibly, Kemp turned around HUD into a real success story in just four years.  Kemp was stymied in his efforts, however, to help poor people living in better maintained housing projects to convert units into condominiums and purchase them (the Democratic Congress only allocated a tenth of the $4 billion he asked for).    However, in the wake of the 1992 LA riots, Kemp had the guts to stand up to his boss.    While Bush 41 called the rioters a "mob", Kemp declared  that the Rodney King case was just the spark that lit up long-held resentments including the remit he dealt with, the lack of low-income housing.

So why didn't the Kemp choice work?   The economy was not just flying high but burning.    Bill Clinton and Al Gore won in a landslide.    If it had been a choice on merits rather than the voter's gut instinct, I think Dole-Kemp would have had about even odds.   It would have been a real election for once.

2000 and 2004:    It says a lot about a search committee when it's a committee of one, and that one picks himself to be the veep choice.   That's how Dick Cheney ended up as George W Bush's tag team partner.   If Al Gore (along with his choice of Joe Lieberman) had won Gore's home state of Tennessee, the Florida debacle would have been irrelevant.    And there are still questions about how much Bush actually won by in Ohio in 2004 (not to mention how John Kerry and John Edwards got "Swift Boated").

In the last forty years, the Vice-Presidential office has become more and more powerful, but under Cheney's watch virtually all of the Executive Departments became footstools.   That has been rolled back under Obama and Joe Biden and the Secretaries and other Cabinet rank offices do have a fair amount of independence again, but the conscience of the Oval Office is now the Veep, not the Secretary of State.   The damage has been done.

2008:   John McCain, a hero if there ever was one, could have picked any Republican other than the one he chose -- Sarah Palin.   Need I say any more?

And so here we are in 2012.    Paul Ryan has not been as well known in circles outside of Washington, but he actually does have some smart ideas.   He proposes cutting income taxes across the board, with a top rate of 25% (down from about 35%) for those who line item deductions -- or if one doesn't itemize, two flat bands of 10% up to $100,000 and 25% on anything about that); and mostly making up the difference with a GST of 8.5%.   (Smart that is -- really, the States needs a VAT of some sort to put it on a level field with many other exporting countries; but it will never be accepted by lower classes even with refundable credits.)

But Ryan also wants to substantially reduce access to Medicaid (health care for welfare recipients and the "working poor" -- the threshold would be set to a point where maybe half would be cut off), and replace it with a system of vouchers that will not -- repeat, not -- index with inflation or with rising system costs.    It would also replace fee-for-service (or piecework, if you prefer to call it that) with straight salaries or lump sum payments to Medicaid accepting health care practitioners.    This may be fine with those in the radical right who believe that good health should be a privilege and bad health a punishment from God, but it does nothing to help those who need help.   Cut the payments, fewer doctors will accept the vouchers -- and the vicious cycle of poverty will worsen even more.

The Obama reforms, as faulty as they are, are a start in the proper direction.   And kicking the hornet's nest will not help anyone.

Does the choice made last weekend provide the right amount of shadow (yang) to Mitt Romney's light (ying)?   Perhaps.   But as moderate as he may be on many policy issues, Romney cannot escape his actions as a hedge fund manager and corporate raider and all the victims that caused.   There are many raiders who are much more ethical, and many corporate scions who ensure the laid off or terminated get some kind of decency in a leaving package.   Romney's not that kind of guy.

And it wouldn't have mattered who he chose, it's always about the economy. Unless the dollar devalues by 50% between now and November, or the price of oil skyrockets to $200+, Obama and Biden are safe -- but they won't win a landslide either.

UPDATE (11:06 AM EDT, 1506 GMT, August 14, 2012):   Some minor corrections.   Also, I saw on CNBC this morning Rick Santelli saying that the Ryan pick gives Americans a real choice -- government is the solution or government is the problem.    Sorry, Ricky, but it's not that simple.   People, given the choice, want help when they need it and to be left alone when they don't.   That's how most free world countries operate and why their people are healthier overall.    Cancelling Obamacare with Romneycare (a difference of degrees) would be one thing.    Getting rid of Medicaid for working people making barely more than minimum is really revolting.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Iran: Getting away with genocide, thanks to banks (maybe)

If the allegations about the British based bank Standard Chartered Bank PLC are true then a financial institution that has been at the forefront of a "corporate responsibility" campaign is guilty of an instance of money laundering that makes the Bank of Credit and Commerce International look like Romper Room ™.    When I first heard about this late last night, I thought it was "only" $250 million.   Actually, as we know now, there may be been $250 billion laundered.

If on the other hand the nearly 160 year old bank is telling the truth, that it did not knowingly aid and abet Iran, then it really has been played for a fool and for a bank with just under $600 billion in deposits it really calls into question how trustworthy banks can be.

(SCB's statement is here, New York State's allegations are here.)

Think it couldn't happen in Canada?     I'm not so sure anymore.    I'll explain after a bit of a diversion but I hope it explains my thinking as to why.


By the time regulators around the world slammed the door shut on BCCI in 1991 (the bank had been open for only 20 years, "only" $10 to $17 billion had been moved around illegally with very little foresight; and while 75% has been recovered by governments for the portions not covered by deposit insurance, the trustees are still after twenty years trying to find the rest).    Depositors in most countries where BCCI operated were made whole (more or less) to the tune of just about $20 billion, its deposits; but this did create an embarrassing situation for states like Canada, which was forced to break its own rules that deposit insurance only covered citizens or full time residents of Canada -- not the diplomatic corps in Ottawa, much of which had BCCI as their preferred bank.    Really -- we had to bail out corrupt states like Saudi Arabia and Zimbabwe, and in the middle of a recession.

While it is true that BCCI helped launder USDA food aid money (about $100 million) intended for the poor in Iraq towards Saddam Hussein himself to fund the infamous Project Babylon "Supergun" invented by Canadian traitor Gerald Bull; and Iraq did have chemical weapons which it merciless plowed on Kurds in 1988, there's really no indication that Mr Hussein was at that time seeking nuclear weapons on a mass scale -- after Israel bombed Iraq's nuclear facilities in 1983, Hussein must have decided to keep it simple, hence Babylon.

The stakes are way higher here.    And not just because of the amounts involved here.

Iran, despite its denials, definitely has nuclear weapons ambitions.    We all know that.   And of course it would; with Israel to the left and Pakistan, India and Mainland China to the east (I highly doubt North Korea would want to take out Iran).    Pursuing a nuclear weapon isn't cheap.   You need massive amounts of power, certainly much more than most hydro (water) or coal plants are capable of producing.

And building a successful and viable nuclear generating station by itself is huge.   The Manhattan Project (a joint project of the US, Canada and the UK -- the "Atlantic Triangle") which led to the Trinity, Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs (as well as a fourth, undetonated one) cost about what it took to fund 9 days of conventional warfare, about $1.9 billion; about $24.4 billion today.   That's with three very developed and allegedly "advanced" nation-states.

Among the positive side effects of such a weapon of terror were nuclear power generation and medical isotopes that have successfully treated and even cured millions.    It has even helped combat art fraud (any painting or photograph after about 1948 has radioactive materials in it, in trace amounts but they're there).   But many of us are old enough to remember Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, and of course Fukushima.   The fact is, you never build a machine gun only with the intent to hunt wild game for the purposes of conservation and food consumption.   Ask the real Anton Kalashnikov.

Iran can't simply go to a bank (one that operates within the rules) and say, "Can you extend us a line of credit, for say, $50 billion?    We'll pledge our oil assets as collateral."   The loan officer, knowing Iran's history and its rhetoric, can't just very well say, "Okay, sign here."    They would insist on some kind of assurance about what the money is for, and that it is indeed going for that purpose.   Especially for a third world country, and past instances of corruption throughout the developing world, due dilligence is vital.

SCB admits it had received 150 million text messages and other online contacts.   (The regulators are focused on about 60,000).    If there was a suspicion something weird was going on, a reasonable person might think they would have raised the alarm even before they were first contacted by prosecutors in 2007.

What has happened here, according to regulators, is an illegal "U-turn" in that Iran has multiple times wired X amount of one default currency (say, Euros, but of course using a dummy company as a front) to a European bank (especially one in the Eurozone) with a US branch office; in turn that US branch wires the equivalent in dollars to a US bank and one of its European branches into an account of the same front company.   

Not only has Iran managed to sucker two banks it would seem, but central banks have been suckered too.   The Euros are now "Euro-euros" (that is, a Euro outside the Eurozone and not controlled by the ECB in Frankfurt) and in turn an equal amount of bucks have become Eurodollars (a dollar outside of the US, and it doesn't have to be Europe either) and therefore outside the control of the Federal Reserve.

If there is a seizure of the bank in question here, the depositors may very well get most or all of their $600 billion back; it'll be covered by insurance (government and private).    But those insurance premiums paid by all of us for home, auto, life etc will skyrocket making it very unaffordable; and of course, a bank failure could start a chain reaction.

I think people have had enough of "too big to fail".


So to my point.   And this is only what I think, based on what we know:

SCB has a very small presence in Canada -- while it mostly exited retail banking here, it still is here via its majority ownership of the Canadian arm of American Express ™ Bank.    So there is some exposure there although also some protection with deposit insurance.

 But who's to say that given Canada's very tough position on Iran and our poisonous history with them (we didn't even have relations with them during the 1980s, a policy carried through by four Prime Ministers) that that country hasn't figured out a way to take advantage of what's left of our fairly reasonable stance on foreign policy issues and used front companies running money through any of the chartered banks or trust companies?     If we have been played for fools, then there's going to be a lot of egg on the face of PMS.

Some banks have proactively been trying to clamp down, although overreaching in some cases by closing personal accounts altogether without probable cause (think TD ™).    And while police activity needs to keep a low profile until charges are filed, stopping Iran from getting Da Bomb and / or funding terrorist groups should be our Number One foreign policy initiative.    We need to make that clear.    And if Iran has laundered money through Canada, then we should again suspend diplomatic relations with that country.

As for the banks, nothing less than full disclosure is called for.   If banks have found irregularities, we need to know, openly and now.   Otherwise, there should be a substantial forfeiture of cash and equivalents in hand, a major hike in that bank's deposit insurance premiums, and a very public shaming.

Otherwise the credibility of our banks are in question.    And with it, our confidence in their "stability" compared to other countries, especially the US.    We need to take the lead in saying we're splitting apart the retail (bank, trust and insurance) operations of financial institutions from the investment banking divisions.   That is to say, investor's escrow deposit accounts should of course be protected for their book value; but any risk management by the investors and the traders they rely on should be on a caveat emptor as well as caveat venditor.    We should not be held liable under any circumstances for derivatives that go haywire or transactions made with ill intent.

Furthermore if a Cabinet minister had a probable belief something was rotten but did not speak up, then that minister should be fired -- and that includes the Prime Minister.    If they knew, we need to know too.    If there is a time for "accountability" it's now.

Whether it's just $10,000 or $1 billion or more, we need to know the truth, now -- and the banks telling the government of Iran to get the hell out of Dawson Creek.