|Asia News Digest
U.S. Military Forces Land at Pakistani Special Forces HQ
Sept. 23 (EIRNS)Reports indicate that about 300 U.S. military personnel have landed at the Special Operations Task Force (SOTF) headquarters in Tarbela, about 20 km north of Islamabad. The Tarbela facility trains Pakistan's elite Special Force personnel. Former President Pervez Musharraf was once a trainee at this facility.
Reports also indicate that, along with the U.S. officials, 20 containers, large enough to hold special arms and ammunition and even tanks and armored vehicles, arrived at the facility. These containers were off-loaded by the Americans, who did not allow any Pakistani officials to inspect them. Also, the U.S. has bought a huge plot of land at Tarbela, several square kilometers, according to sources directly handling the project.
Observers point out that the size of the containers suggests that preparations are being made for an all-out offensive in the North West Frontier Province against sanctuaries belonging to the Taliban and al-Qaeda led by Osama bin Laden, and have nothing to do with any training program. This is, however, not the first time that U.S. military officials have entered the Tarbela facility. In the mid-1990s, during the government of Nawaz Sharif, a special CIA unit was based at the same facility, tasked with catching Osama bin Laden. They left after Pervez Musharraf came to power in a coup in 1999.
Last September, after the Lal Masjid fiasco in Islamabad that killed hundreds of young madrassa students and some hard-core jihadis as a result of an army raid ordered by President Musharraf, the SOTF facility came under attack from a suicide bomber. Over 20 Special Services Group (SSG) commandos were killed and 42 others injured in the incident, which took place in the mess hall.
India To Offer Astronomical Observation Site
Sept. 23 (EIRNS)India is ready to offer an astronomical observatory site at Hanle in Leh for international scientific collaboration for the exploration of the possibility of setting up two large gamma-ray telescope arrays in the Northern and Southern hemispheres, a senior astronomer said.
The group is planning the Cherenkov Telescope Array in both hemispheres to enhance understanding of the high-energy universe, Professor Ramesh Koul, head of the Astrophysical Sciences Division at the Bhabha Atomic Research Center, said.
In keeping with global efforts, the Himalayan Gamma-Ray Observatory (HiGRO) is to be set up jointly by the Indian Institute of Astrophysics, the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, and the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre at the site at Hanle, 4,200 meters above sea level. It will deploy a wave-front sampling telescope array, now at an advanced stage of commissioning, and the large area MACE (Major Atmospheric Cherenkov Experiment) telescope. MACE will use state-of-the-art technology to configure a 21-meter-diameter tracking light collector with a 1408 pixel imaging camera at its focal plane.
The location of the site is in a highly sensitive area. Hanle is in the northeastern part of Kashmir overseeing the Karakoram Highway which links China's Tibet province to Pakistan.
Korean Analysts Tell the Truth About Paulson's Folly
Sept. 22 (EIRNS)South Korean analysts have identified the mortal danger to their nation and the world coming from U.S. Treasury Secretary Paulson's insane bailout of the worthless junk in the world banking system. The Korea Times reports that "many Seoul analysts" warned that "in order to fund its bailout plan, Washington will have to either print money or issue Treasury bonds, which suggests two outcomesa weaker U.S. dollar and a return of inflation triggered by rising commodity prices. A record U.S. budget deficit will lead to a contraction of the global economy," they added.
They also hit the speculative roots: "When the money flows into the financial system, speculators would use it to buy commodities such as oil, which will produce worldwide inflation."
One Seoul banker said: "We cannot rule out the possibility that in the long run, the massive bailout will eventually lead to a run on the U.S. dollar, and a decline in its value once people realize the implications and sell U.S. treasuries." Korea is the world's sixth-largest holder of dollar foreign reserves with $243.2 billion, behind China ($1.81 trillion), Japan ($1 trillion), Russia ($595.9 billion), India ($306.2 billion). and Taiwan ($290.9 billion), as of August.
Andy Xie, an oft-quoted economist who once was Morgan Stanley's chief Asia economist, said, "This is the last tool that the U.S. has to not pay for the full cost. Eventually, foreigners will realize this and run. This game stops working when the dollar free-falls."
Indonesia Sounds Alarm on Paulson's Hyperinflationary Bailout
Sept. 24 (EIRNS)The Jakarta Post asks "Commodities or U.S. Treasury Securities?," in an article by Indonesian banker Helmi Arman, warning of hyperinflation ahead. He notes that Asians who have been lending money to the U.S. are "finding out the hard way that IOUs the Americans have been giving in return aren't really that worthy."
Arman asks: "So what lies ahead? The amount of toxic debt ... held by many U.S. banks reportedly exceeds their capital base by far. The survival of many elements of the U.S. financial sector is put into question. And judging by the way things have been going, more bail-outs could be forthcoming.... Many may soon realize it's just a matter of time before Henry Paulson, the U.S. Treasury Secretary, starts flooding the market with Treasury securities. Likewise it could be just a matter of time before investors look for a new safe haven ... and commodity prices become re-energized."
Run On Hong Kong Bank Eases After "Red Capitalist" Steps In
Sept. 26 (EIRNS)Depositors in Hong Kong's Bank of East (BEA), one of the city's largest, lined up outside its doors on Sept. 24 and 25, waiting to withdraw their money. The bank run was caused by rumors about the bank's exposure to the ongoing crisis. The lines got smaller on the news that the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) injected almost HK$4 billion to the market, and that Li Ka-shing, the city's richest person, had bought BEA shares.
According to the Wall Street Journal, this action shows that Li Ka-shing is the Warren Buffett of Asia. They compare Li's investment, only specified as "substantial," in the BEA to Buffett's bottom-feeding in making his investment in Goldman Sachs. Both investors' actions "signaled the bottom of the market," according to the Journal.