By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
IMF Billions for Brazil . . .
As everyone knows, keeping Boris Yeltsin alive and nominally in charge of Russia has been a cornerstone of Clinton's wobbly foreign policy. Key to accomplishing this have been been the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, two institutions that generally do Washington's bidding. To that end, the World Bank lost $500 million in a deal to prop up the Russian coal industry.
The problem was simple enough. The money never got to the coal miners it was intended to help, disappearing instead somewhere in Moscow. Now the London Times reports that the Russian Federal Security Service is investigating the disappearance of billions of dollars over a three-week period in August when the nation's banking system virtually collapsed. This investigation comes three months after Prosecutor General Yuri Skuratov accused the Central Bank and its former chairman, Sergei Dubinin, of misusing $4.8 billion of an IMF stabilization loan.
"It was scandalous," a Western economist based in Moscow told the Times. "After the banks had effectively collapsed they were refusing to make payments to depositors, but the ruble was kept stable at seven rubles to the dollar while bankers closed their own accounts and shipped their money abroad, probably to Switzerland."
No wonder House members, left and right, objected to the U.S. making an $18 billion contribution to the IMF. Clinton, busy currying support from Wall Street in the midst of his sexgate scandals, finally tucked the IMF appropriation into his omnibus budget bill.
The IMF is now preparing to dump some $40 billion into Brazil, where in all probability it also will be lost. Increasingly, both the World Bank and IMF look like easy prey for international bankers, who can count on them for payoffs in the name of currency stabilization. When will the rest of Congress wake up to this racket?
Monsanto Sleuths Nip 'Piracy' in Bud
Time was when farmers let certain crops "go to seed" i.e., they let a crop go unharvested and then saved the seeds for next year's planting. Not anymore. It's become a crime to save seeds.
Monsanto, the multinational chemical company, actually employs Pinkerton detectives to crack down on farmers who use "patented technology" to "illegally" save and replant seeds. More than 45 million acres of U.S. farmland are currently planted with genetically engineered seeds.
Monsanto, a leader in genetically engineered food, has hired five full-time investigators and a battery of part-time sleuths and law firms to nip seed piracy in the bud. The company has pursued more than 475 seed piracy cases in the U.S., of which more than 100 have been settled.
According to a report in the Multinational Monitor, one farmer admitted to storing and then trading RoundUp Ready soybeans for other seeds. He was forced to make a $35,000 royalty payment and make his soybean production records for the next five years available.
Monsanto also reportedly forced other farmers to destroy crops and confiscated seed. "When growers save and replant patented seed, there is less incentive for companies to invest in future technologies that will ultimately benefit farmers," said Scott Baucum, chief of Monsanto's seed piracy enforcement group.
Research assistance: Ioanna Veleanu