behind the mask

A one-day tally of at least 10 mergers, totaling some $36 to $40 billion, took stocks up on Monday. It was the busiest merger day since August. David Wyss, chief economist at Standard and Poor's DRI, was quoted by the AP (Nov. 24): "Irrational pessimism has (now) been replaced with irrational optimism." Another term for monopolization and job-reducing mergers is to call it a business "dating game" or "corporate courting." So far in 1998 there have been 10,000 mergers totaling $1.5 trillion (CBS Nov.23). In 1997 mergers totaled $910 billion (Moneyline Nov.23). Stockholders like "merger mania" hoping their holdings will be bought up and bid up.

Bankers Trust smacked of "a little bit of desperation" after J.P. Morgan had earlier rejected a merger (Moneyline Nov. 23). The buying price of $93 a share for BT will give shareholders a 43% premium. BT stock has almost doubled since a Oct. 7 low. In April BT stock was $136.

The Tiger is set to combine with Pegasus (the red horse) to make the world's largest industrial merger ever between. Exxon may pay $61 billion for Mobil-the number two U.S. oil company. The result of the merger would be the world's largest publicly-traded oil company-the second-largest marketer of gasoline in the U.S. The new $236 billion company would still be smaller than Shell/Texaco but ahead of British Petroleum and Amoco. If the merger goes through it would be a reversal of the landmark 1911 anti-trust decision which broke up Standard Oil. Exxon was formerly known as Standard Oil Co. (New Jersey). As of December 31, 1938, Standard Oil Co. (New Jersey) stock was primarily owned by the Rockefeller family, Standard Oil of Indiana and the Harkness family. At one time Standard Oil (Reuters Nov. 28) controlled 90% of U.S. refining.





The largest recruiting drive in a decade (Austin American-Statesman Nov. 28) is being launched under CIA Director George Tenet (CFR) who says today's threat environment is "more diverse, complex and dangerous." Congress has added $1.5 million to the budgets of the U.S.'s 13 intelligence agencies. In the late 1980s the CIA payroll was at least 22,000 employees but is down to maybe 16,000 today.



According to Martin Arostegui, writing in Insight Magazine (Dec. 7), Castro was asked in Spain, while speaking to an international conference of Latin American presidents, whether he was afraid of an extradition order. He replied: "I belong to a species which is above arrest."



A major of the five Law Lords decided Wednesday (Reuters Nov. 25) that Augusto Pinochet has no immunity from prosecution on charges of murder, torture and genocide. The ruling held that the crimes alleged were international in nature that could never be normal acts undertaken in the functions of a head of state. Former sovereigns have narrower immunity than sitting rulers. British Home Secretary Jack Shaw originally had until December 2nd to decide whether or not to block Pinochet's extradition. A Chilean plane was waiting near London as the Law Lords announced their decision.

David Bull, of Amnesty International, said the verdict was "a message to all murdering regimes." Kenneth Roth, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch, said: "This decision will give future tyrants pause before they embark on a path of mass murder." Alfred Rubin, a Tufts Professor of International Law, said that Spain could ask the U.S. to extradite Henry Kissinger (BB/CFR/TC) for involvement in Allende's overthrow as well as President Nixon (if he were still alive).

Andreas Frank Lowenfeld (CFR), Professor of International Law at New York University Law School, said (CNN Nov 25) that: "I think it is clearly an unprecedented decision. It puts the House of the position of saying yes there are universal crimes of genocide, torture, terrorism, disappearance and so on...that cannot be granted any kind of immunity." He added: "(T)he traditions of immunity don't apply when certain acts that cannot be performed lawfully by a state or the head of state are at issue. In that sense it is a novel ruling in a peacetime context."

The NY professor also said that the crimes alleged were "made unlawful in these particular conventions." When asked if former President Bush could be tried in some country, he said: "Bush did send 20,000 troops to kidnap former President Noreiga of Panama. And that one is more questionable."

British Barrister Geoffrey Robertson said (CNN Nov. 25) that it was "a historic moment for human rights, a great day for international law. The result of this ruling is that the torturers of the 21st century can tremble in a way that those of the last half century since Nuernberg have had no worries at all."

Jack Shaw will need another week to decide and will announce his decision on December 9.

Pinochet has been supported by Margaret Thatcher who believes he should be allowed to return to Chile. A deal may be made soon (AP Nov. 28) to allow Pinochet to return home to stand trial.

Salvador Allende Gossens (1908-1973) was elected as president in Chile in 1970. He nationalized the copper industry and instituted various socialist programs. After strikes in 1972 he declared martial law. After a failed coup attempt, the second coup succeeded in 1973 and Allende was killed. General Augusto Pinochet Ugarto became dictator of Chile. In the mid-1970s, the role of the CIA and U.S. State Department in creating strikes, destabilizing the government and ousting Allende was made public.

The European parliament in Strasburg voted almost unanimously for Pinochet's extradition.



Vladimir Zhirinovsky attended an elite Italian fashion house's opening and assured the crowd that wealthy Russians will be unscathed by the current crisis. According to the AP (Nov. 24), he was asked who would have the money to afford the fur coats of Fendi. He replied: "(Government) ministers and (parliament) deputies." The Russian Center of the Standard of Living says:
79 million Russians, out of a population of 147 million, now live in poverty.




At a dinner organized by Ben Gurion University in New York, Henry Kissinger (BB/CFR/TC) said (Israel Alert Nov. 30) that no more territory should be turned over until permanent status talks begin due to security concerns.


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