Tuesday, February 26, 2008

israel is making a terrible mistake

The New Kill-Israel Axis

By P. David Hornik
FrontPageMagazine.com | Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Iran wants to hang the Jewish state—and Germany and Austria are selling it the rope.

Earlier this month when Austrian foreign minister Ursula Plassnik visited Israel, Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert and foreign minister Tzipi Livni tried to convince her of the importance of strong sanctions against Teheran. There’s no evidence they had any success; Austrian-Iranian ties appear to be too lucrative for such persuasion to work.

In April 2007 the Austrian oil company OMV signed a major deal with Iran for a joint natural gas project. As Simone Dinah Hartmann of STOPTHEBOMB noted Monday in an informative op-ed,

The total investment amounts to 22 billion euros over the next 25 years. Experts believe that these revenues will be used to finance the Iranian nuclear weapons program and undermine present international sanctions.

Austria’s Social Democratic chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer has said his government will not interfere in business transactions. But this is at best a bad joke: the state of Austria holds 31.5% of OMV’s shares. The company’s CEO, Wolfgang Ruttensdorfer, is a former official of the Social Democratic party, which has always been tight with OMV.

Indeed, as Hartmann further points out,

this deal [with Iran] is backed by all parties represented in the Austrian parliament. Social Democrats, Conservatives, Greens and the far right have closed ranks against demands to cancel the negotiations with Iran.

This wall-to-wall unity is in the service of a venerable tradition: OMV, a firm with a good nose for carrion, was selling gas to the Soviet Union just after it crushed the Prague Spring in 1968, to Libya in the 1980s, and to Sudan from the late 1990s till 2003 when it was the last international corporation to leave the country. State-backed OMV is always looking for a new venture in tyranny, terror, and mass murder to fuel, and these days what better client is there than the mullahs?

And OMV is only the cutting edge of the relationship; Austria’s total exports to Iran have doubled since 2002. Still, the OMV deal could catapult this trade from millions to billions, and it’s no surprise that the president of Iran’s Chamber of Commerce, Ali Naghi Khamoushi, said in November 2006 that “Austria is the gate to the European Union for us.”

The OMV deal has drawn criticism in the West, including from German chancellor Angela Merkel.

But as a recent Jerusalem Post editorial noted, “this is close to the pot calling the kettle black.”

Germany, too, treats Teheran as a market it can’t do without: “Germany is Iran’s largest European trading partner and has been the most resistant to tightening sanctions among the pivotal EU-3—the UK, France and Germany.”

Another of the Post’s recent important articles on Europe and Iran gives more of the details:

In 2007, Germany sold €3.5 billion of goods to Iran, including €1.5 billion worth of engineering products and high tech equipment. Security and terrorism experts argue that Germany is uniquely positioned to tighten the economic screws on Iran.

…The growing infrastructure of the Iranian economy is heavily dependent on German technological know-how. Michael Tockuss, the former president of the German-Iranian Chamber of Commerce in Teheran, said, “Some two-thirds of Iranian industry relies on German engineering products.”

…Critics assert that sophisticated engineering technology lends itself to “dual-usage,” and can be rapidly converted for nuclear military purposes.

…Siemens . . . whose economic deals total over half a billion dollars in Iran, conceded in late January that it spent €19 million to bribe Iranian officials to do business with it….

Although German exports to Iran shrank by 15% percent last year [a claim that has been placed in doubt], a dramatic 50% increase of Iranian exports to Germany, totaling €580 million, took place in 2007.

It’s not that Germany and Austria are Iran’s only partners in Europe. Just in the past year Dutch, Spanish, and Norwegian firms have been dealing and talking with Teheran on natural gas projects. Total, France’s oil company, continues to invest millions per year in the mullahcracy. And while 40% of Iran’s trade is with Europe, only 1% of Europe’s trade is with Iran—yet even this Europe is loath to give up.

Still, for Israel the leading roles of Germany and Austria have a special resonance. For these two countries—which in March will be marking seventy years since their Anschluss—the first Holocaust was largely a matter of ideology. The second, if it transpires, will be a matter of heaps of shiny euros.


Debit Cards

Bank Of America Won't Let You Access Your Money


Silly Bill. He thought Bank of America would let him spend $5,800 on a home theater system just because he had over $10,000 in the bank. He tried to charge the system to his Bank of America Visa Platinum Check Card but was declined. Confused, Bill called Bank of America customer support for an explanation and had the sort of conversation that makes you want to drive a fork through your ear.

So tonight I went to my local Best Buy, planning on surprising the wife with a new bigscreen TV.

We get there and, believe it or not, the Best Buy people are helpful, friendly, informative and DON'T try to push Monster cables on me. (I know - I nearly fainted too).

Having done my homework, I picked out a receiver, speaker system, wall mount, some blue ray movies , and a 58" plasma TV. Total cost : $5870.69

So I head to the register to pay for my newly acquired goodies and my card - despite having a few grand more than the total in my "available funds" is declined.

Puzzled - I call Bank of America , wait on hold about ten minutes, go through countless adverts for bank services, double authorizations etc and FINALLY I get to a human. Of course in spite of all of this the woman wants my information all over again even though I just typed it in. She wont even help me til I provide it and so I do.

I explain that I am in the store, at the register, and that I know I have available funds.

She puts me on hold about 5 minutes , then comes back and says "Im sorry - that's over your daily limit. There's nothing I can do. Was there anything else I can help you with?"

Remembering to keep a cool head, I ask about a supervisor giving me an override on the limit. She says "let me transfer you to the ATM department." And before I can explain that this isn't an ATM problem, she disconnects me.

Frustrated - I dial again, more menus, get a human, get transferred, get another human, get transferred, (every time re-verifying my ID)finally I get to the FOURTH person who apologizes 10 times and says "don't worry sir - I can help you!"

I think I'm getting somewhere but then a supervisor comes on and explains to me that "Everyone in the United States that uses Bank of America has a daily spending limit of 5000.00 no matter what."

Stunned, I ask for an exception and in a parent-giving-me-a-cookie tone he says "well, I suppose we can up that to 6000.00 just this once."

At this point I am over an hour on the phone but we try the transaction again. Declined.

More hold time. He comes back and says that he is sorry but 6000. is the limit and buying gasoline and dinner earlier in the day is going to put me at more than 6 grand for the day and so I can come back tomorrow and buy the TV or I can go to my branch and get a money order.

Fuming, and doing my best to remain calm, the conversation goes like this:

"Let me get this straight - I have an "available" balance of nearly 10 grand in my account?"

"yes sir"

"And its not pending or a deposit waiting to clear, that's my money, confirmed and in your bank?"

"yes sir"

"And you have kept me on the phone for over an hour, asked me multiple times to verify my identity and are satisfied that I am who I say I am?"

"yes sir"

"And you are going to deny me access to MY money?!?!"

"No sir - we are not denying you your money, your're just over your daily limit."

"My daily limit? This isn't a credit card. It's a PLATINUM Visa checkcard. I understand that you have to put limits in for my protection but I need to make this purchase"

"Im sorry theres nothing I can do"

At this point, after nearly an hour an twenty minutes on the phone, I lose my cool. I am embarrassed, have essentially shut down a register lane on a Friday night at Best Buy and am obviously the talk of the store both from employees and customers.

I ask to speak to a supervisor and am told that I am speaking to one. I ask to speak to HIS supervisor and am told that's not possible.

Out of desperation I ask again and he says "wait just a moment"

More hold. Ten more minutes. I am fuming. He comes back and excitedly tells me "try it now."

So for the umpteenth time I swipe my card. This time it comes up "authorization code needed"

I relay this to the BoA guy and he says "well, we are making progress"

A few more minutes of hold time later and he comes back with the code and makes my purchase go through.

I have NEVER experienced such shoddy customer service ever. Im sure Im preaching to the choir when I say this, but Monday morning I am cancelling my BoA account, and fellow consumerists - Stay the heck away from Bank of America!

As a side note, after the transaction was completed I said to the supervisor, "So, what if I was say, Donald Trump and wanted to spend 30 grand on something?"

His response, " Well , for Mr Trump we would have made an accommodation ahead of time."

I said "And if I'd decided tonight to buy the $14,999.99 71" plasma TV in here this evening?"

"You wouldn't not have been allowed to do that."

At that point I hung up.


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