Risk Rap

Rapping About a World at Risk

The Path of Totality: Part 1 Transfiguration

I woke that Sunday morning with a heightened sense of angst.  August 6 was the seventy second anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. The industrial catastrophe at Fukushima was continuing to spew radioactive waste into the Pacific Ocean and war tensions were growing on the Korean Peninsula.  It seemed to me, that with the exception of the people of Japan, and a few global disarmament groups, the deployment and use of nuclear weapons was losing its reprehensible aura.
 
Indeed the deployment and use of strategic nuclear weapons was creeping into the narrative as a solution to the North Korean problem. So as Earth proceeds into the seventh decade of post Hiroshima and Nagasaki tragedy, the rationale and consequences of its aftermath and its place as an historical marker signifying a horrific tipping point in the Anthropocene Age was fading from global consciousness. I thought it might be a good day to get my ass to church.
 
I’ve been a church going person for well over two decades.  Baptized and confirmed as an adult into the Anglican Communion, today I consider myself half Episcopalian, half Quaker as a “small f” Friend. With this composition I got all the angles of high and low church covered.  I sup at the Lord’s Table as a free will Christian and tend the inner light of social justice as a free thinking unfettered Friend.  Though my church attendance has been few and far between the past few years its more the result of spiritual fatigue than backsliding reprobation.  
 
My recent relocation to Florida placed me near an Episcopal church. Inside its Red Doors I discovered a typically dispassionate but collegially earnest multiracial parish.  The sanctuary was well lit, suitably air conditioned and blessed with ample space accentuated with all the modern accouterments of worship.  I had attended a service a few weeks back and the Rector just returning from a west coast vacation preached on Matthew 11:28, “come to me all who are weary and I shall give you rest.” I took the reading to be a propitious affirmation of the reason for my retreat to the Sunshine State.  Though his homily was a bit parochial, I reasoned this is the theology of deep Central Florida. These are the parishioners who helped elect Trump President and returned Rick “don’t use the term climate change” Scott and Lil ”I hate the senate” Marco back to their respective offices.  This parish is located about an hour south of the place where “stand your ground” George Zimmerman walked away from murdering Trayvon Martin and about an hour north of state sanctioned corporate bio-hazard Lake Okeechobee.   
 
As I settled in the pew I was pleased to discover that it was the Feast of the Transfiguration.  Thank God I thought.  Another propitious attendance at Sunday services.  All too often I reluctantly drag my dead ass out of bed on Sunday morning to get to services.  Many times I was glad I did and came away convinced that divine kismet or should I say a predestined Calvinist grace put my ass in the pew to hear the word specially crafted for me and my current life situation.  
 
Today I was hungry to hear a message that transcends the pedestrian dread the 24/7 cable news cycle pedals in the error of Trump. I was eager to hear how this critical Gospel story concerning transformation related to the dire need for transfiguring our broken world. Perhaps some insights into how the attitudes and responses to the problems of daily life continues to elicit the same old responses binding us to stasis, intractable conflict, resentment and distrust.   I was ripe for transfiguration myself.  My ossified Neo Marxism, coupled with Old Main Line Protestant Liberalism and a strong dollop of passionate Jesuit Liberation Theology was falling short in constructing a dialectical understanding of the class struggle in the Age of the Avatar.  So eagerly I lent my ears to hear the word.
 
Most are familiar with the Gospel reading of Luke 9 28-36.   Jesus goes up to the mountain with Peter, James and John.  Jesus goes to a place to pray and his three disciples witness Jesus transfigured in a state of glowing white.  Jesus is filled with divine glory as he converses with Elijah and Moses about his coming resurrection.  Peter approaches a divinely lit Jesus and asks if he should build tree tents for Jesus, Moses and Elijah.  A voice descends from heaven declaring “This is my Chosen Son. Listen to Him.”  Elijah and Moses disappear.
 
The Rector’s homily offered an apologetic of Peter’s Epistle. (2 Peter 1 13-21).  Peter, the flawed one.  Always fraught with inconsistent doubt, ready to offer an incorrect answer. Offering to build three tents for departing visitors.  Peter, swayed by enthusiasm and the whims of passion would leap off a boat and dutifully sink into the morass of unbelief. Or worse, denying His Lord three times before the cock crowed.  Though we love Peter for his deep humanity and all the foibles of being human, his Epistle fails to address the troubles of this world. Indeed he doesn’t even raise them. We must console ourselves in the knowledge that Peter witnessed the Transfiguration.  Peter’s prophecy concerning what he witnessed on the mountain proving The Christ is Lord unfortunately did not prohibit his denial of Jesus after his arrest in Gethsemane. It would take a post resurrection visitation by Jesus before Peter finally got the religion.  In this Epistle we can say this is how religion becomes ideology. Rote acceptance without real world pertinence.  As Christian’s we are Transfigured in Christ to live as transfigured beings in a transfigured world.  The word is made flesh by its application to real world conditions.  It answers the ills of the world as a real balm that heals wounds, changes hearts, transfigures minds and informs actions.  The Rector stood squarely on the dogma of Peter’s Epistle while totally ignoring the bleeding world outside the Red Doors crying out to be recognized, understood and transfigured.  
 
As we filed out of the church I sarcastically thanked Rector James for his passionate apologetics. He in turn asked my name and excitedly continued the line of his sermon. He failed to detect my sarcasm.  I wanted to inquire how the story of the Transfiguration related to the anniversary of Hiroshima, or the growing threat of war with North Korea or Iran but the exit queue was not the place.  I blessed the Rector, dipped my fingers into the dish of Holy Water, crossed myself and left the sanctuary.
 
Returning home I meditated on the homily.  I believed the Rector wasted an opportunity to demonstrate the relevance of the living Gospel.  Hiroshima is one of the seminal transfiguring events of the 20th century and not a word or prayer was raised.  The global ascendance of the technology of mass destruction, the commencement of the Cold War, the political proclivities of MAD and how it profanes the Holy Spirit, the thinking behind the decision to unleash the atomic genie on a community of Asians,  the mass scale of death, the imagery of total destruction,  the release of a second bomb and the decision metrics concerning its necessity, the aftermath narrative and the complicit media, the mass poisoning of the people and the land, the slow debilitating deaths of 200,000 people suffering radiation sickness,  the altered psychology of civilization,  the politics of racial animus, nuclear arms testing in the Bikini Islands,  the morality of disarmament and the insistence of moral justification, atoms for peace, mass proliferation of nuclear energy, mass proliferation of nuclear waste, cleanup and storage of nuclear waste, management of nuclear waste, the ecology of stewardship, Three Mile Island, Hanford, Chernobyl, Fukushima and the next nuclear incident, thermonuclear war with North Korea and Iran. The Rector clearly a missed opportunity to shine the Light of Christ to quell the darkness surrounding the crying needs of the swooning world.
 
As the week progressed the escalating rhetoric surrounding the North Korean nuclear threat and the response of the United States was building to a crescendo.  In response to military provocations by the USA (fly overs and maneuvers with Japan’s military),  North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un threatened to visit mass destruction on the purveyors of imperialism.
 
Tuesday was the eve of the the 72nd anniversary of the Nagasaki bombing and Trump was attending a symposium on the opioid epidemic.  During the meeting, from the bourgeois civility of his Bedminster country club boardroom,  Trump bellowed the United States will deliver “fire and fury, like the world has never seen” upon North Korea if it threatens America or its allies again.  
 
True to his brand of irresponsible recklessness, Trump’s bombast sought to match Kim Jong-Un’s latest temper tantrum.  Trump drew a shock and awe red line for Kim who quickly crossed it with a threat to drop missiles within twenty miles of the American Protectorate of Guam.  
 
The world is trapped in a pattern of conditioned cause and response.  Unable to transfigure our prism of understanding or the mode of response to our problems, vitriolic hyperbole and threats of violence inches the Doomsday Clock ever closer to game over midnight.
 
Part 2: The Fire Next Time
 
Music: Donald Byrd, Change
 
Orlando
8/21/17

jbm

 
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August 23, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

SMEs Dance to the Basel III Shuffle

cap structure sme eu.PNG
I often wonder, what if Basel II capital accords had been in place prior to the Great Recession? 
 
Could the devastating crisis fueled by the serial pops of credit bubbles rumbling through the dismal landscape of G20 principalities been avoided with better capital adequacy safeguards? 
 
Could the precious Post Cold War Peace dividend been preserved; had the fiduciaries of global solvency not toppled the dominoes of economic prosperity and political stability through extreme selfishness and irrational behavior?
 
Some economists assert that had the guidelines of Basel II been in place it would not have mattered. That may certainly be true, but one is still left to wonder if Systemically Important Financial Institutions (SIFI) had followed better governance frameworks the fissures emanating from the epicenter of the global economic meltdown would not have been as deep or as widespread.
 
The lessons learned from the crisis are being codified in the new governance frameworks of Basel III. Whereas previous Basel Accords focused on capital adequacy and loss reserves aligned to risk weighted assets and counterparty exposures, Basel III looks to strengthen capital adequacy by addressing liquidity and leverage risk in the banks capital structure. Basel III recognizes the primacy of mitigating the systemic risk concentrated in the capital structure of a SIFI and lesser designees, and the contagion threat it poses on its counterparties and the greater economy. 
 
To ally solvency concerns, Basel III installs a leverage ratio and bolsters its Liquidity Coverage Ratio (LCR) which will require all banking institutions to increase its regulatory capital reserves of High Quality Liquid Assets (HQLA). An increase in HQLA reserves will raise the cost of capital for all financial institutions requiring it to raise its spreads on credit products. 
 
SMEs will be particularly affected by Basel III initiatives. SME’s are highly dependant on bank capital and credit products and remain highly sensitive to the cyclicality of macroeconomic factors. D&B’s Small Business Health Index reports that SME business failures in the US were in excess of 140,000 per month in 2013. The OECD reported that during 2012 over 800,000 EC SME’s closed shop in 2012. 
 
Eurofact reported that 60% of all non-financial value add to the EC economy is attributable to SMEs. Though SMEs are generally recognized as principal economic drivers in both the developed and lesser developed economies; during the economic crisis SME’s were rationed out of the credit markets. Large capital infusions and accommodative monetary policy by the central bank authorities principally sought to bolster bank capital and inject liquidity into the faltering global banking system. 
 
As such much of the low cost capital provided to banks did not trickle down to SMEs. Better returns were realized by deploying capital to investment partnerships, energy resource development, the acquisition of strategic commercial enterprises and underwriting speculative trading in the global security markets. 
 
Little of the low cost capital found its way onto Main Street; driving the bifurcating wedge between the real and speculative economy. As a more conservative political landscape emerges from the wreckage of the economic calamity created by “elitist” financial institutions and “remote” Brussels based government bureaucrats, the cause of the SME is resonating in the rising voice of a middle class spoken with a distinct nationalist accent. 
 
Politicians, legislators and advocacy groups are fully invested in the cause of the SME. Stakeholders are advocating more government involvement to underwrite and guarantee sponsored loans. In an era where government involvement in markets is under severe attack, political expediency and prudent economics coalesce to fund the incubation of SMEs. Even if greater government intervention is counterintuitive to laissez faire proclivities of the politically engaged, higher taxes would be required to fund the risk of capital formation initiatives. The securitization of SME loans is also a consideration; but aversion to leverage and the risk to encourage poor lending practices raise fears of creating yet another credit bubble.
 
The Government of Singapore recently rose its guarantee on SME loans to cover 70% of principal in response to the increase in cost of capital banks will charge as a result of Basel III. Spreads on SME loans are estimated to increase between 50 to 80 basis points. This rise in the cost of capital will allow banks to recoup Basel III compliance expenses associated with the segregation of regulatory capital requirements to service SME loan portfolios.
 
The risk premia on SME loans is justified by regulators because it guarantees the availability of credit through the business cycle. The financial health of SME’s are highly correlated to the vicissitudes of the business cycle. During times of cyclical downturns risk factors for SMEs are magnified due to the prevalence of concentration risk in products, regions, markets, client and critical macroeconomic factors germane to the SME’s business. Mitigation initiatives are inhibited due to liquidity constraints, resource depletion and balance sheet limitations. The closure of credit channels exacerbates this problem and Basel III risk premia pledges to fund SMEs through a trying business cycle.
 
To maintain profitability of SME lending, banks will enhance quality standards and haircut collateral margins; a potentially onerous demand since asset valuations remain severely distressed from the effects of the Great Recession. Banks will avoid SMEs with enhanced risk profiles, make greater use of loan covenants, expand fee based services and hike origination fees to protect margins and instill enhanced credit risk controls to minimize default risk.
 
As the strictures of Basel III take root within commercial banks alternative credit channels are opening to better match an SME’s credit requirements and market situation with a financial product that best addresses their business condition. D&B has initiated a timely capital formation initiative for SMEs. Access to Capital – Money to Main Street is an event tour that is bringing together regional providers of funding for SMEs and startups. 
 
The economic recovery is combining with technology to energize innovations in SME funding options. Crowd-funding, micro-lending, asset financing, leasing, community bank loans, credit unions and venture capital channels are a few of the many options available for small business funding. Each channel offers distinct terms and advantages that match a funding option to the specific situation of an SME. 
 
SME associations and advocacy groups are surfacing in the EU that seek to harness the residual capital created by SME failures. Second Chance and Fail2Suceed are initiatives that seek to harness the intellectual capital garnered by entrepreneurs in unsuccessful enterprises. It is a clear recognition that a great failure can be the mother of greater wisdom. This may augur well for the success of Basel III as it seeks to build on the shortfalls of its forebears to better protect the global banking system as it promotes the wealth of nations by equitably funding the growth of the global SME segment.
 
Sum2 offers a portfolio of risk assessment applications and consultative services to businesses, governments and non-profit organizations. Our leading product Credit Redi offers SMEs tools to manage financial health and improve corporate credit rating to manage enterprise risk and attract capital to fund initiatives to achieve business goals. Credit Redi helps SMEs improve credit standing to demonstrate creditworthiness to bankers and investors. On Google Play: Get Credit|Redi
 
Risk: SME, Basel III, commercial lending, political stability, economic growth, USA, EU, alternative credit channels, credit risk, global banking, business failure, OECD, SIFI
This article was originally released on Daft Blogger.  

April 14, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Measuring SME Credit Risk

ImageThe underlying financial health of Small Mid-Size Enterprises (SME) has always been difficult to determine, hard to identify and its never been more important.

To manage risk in the credit and capital markets it is critical for lenders and credit suppliers to understand the relative financial health of counter-parties, customers and suppliers. Effective credit extension decisions cannot be made without superior analysis generated by forward-looking, unbiased tools.

The credit crisis and recession has devastated small and mid-sized businesses. Getting a bank loan or securing capital from investors is a big challenge for small businesses. Banks have become extremely cautious in lending to small businesses. To be successful in securing credit you’ll have to demonstrate that you are a good credit risk, that your company’s prospects for growth are strong and that your business model is sound.

Why Credit Score is important?The quality of your credit rating and financial health form the basis for decisions other businesses make about you. Managing your business to improve your Credit Score will improve your company’s financial health. A strong Credit Score indicates good financial health and is used by lenders, capital providers, customers and suppliers to determine:

  •     How much business credit a supplier will extend to you
  •     What interest rates you will pay
  •     How much money lending institutions will loan you
  •     How your customers view you
  •     What your insurance premiums will be
  •     The level of potential investor interest

Sum2 utilizes Altman’s Z Score method to determine fundamental financial health ratings.  The Z Score credit rating is valid measure of financial health for any public or privately held corporation. The Z Score rating methodology is a proven credit risk indicator that is widely used by banks, investment managers, Fortune 1000 companies and small to medium sized enterprises to determine and manage risk. Sum2’s clients use the Z Score rating products to determine financial health, remain in compliance with loan covenants, and assess credit worthiness of clients and mission critical suppliers.

Altman’s Z score method examines fundamental financial data derived from a company’s balance sheet and income statements.  A credit rating is generated by the use of ratio analysis that yields valid comparative results regardless of the currency utilized. Working capital, earnings, reinvested earnings and leverage are integrated into a composite credit rating score. The components and standards are similar to those used by traditional lenders. It is an easily understood approach that provides comprehensive financial details not available with the standard agency reports.

Click here to access Sum2’s Z Score Input Template.

Click here to access zip file of sample reports. Palm Corp Z Score Report.

We recommend supplementing the analysis with trade reports from firms like the Credit Management Association (CMA) or Experian and others for their pertinent data and services.Businesses that extend credit can determine cutoff scores needed to qualify for credit as their risk tolerance and economic conditions change. Lower scores and classifications indicate higher probabilities of default.

Credit ratings must include a careful analysis of the income statement, balance sheet, changes in financial position and key metrics along with consideration of trends, economic conditions and other available data.

Credit|Redi is a set of business assessment tools that helps businesses determine credit worthiness.  It is a critical business tool SME’s need to incorporate to better manage and assess credit risk.

More information on how to manage credit risk can be found here: Credit|Redi

June 12, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Hungry Heart

ImageIts amazing what money can buy.  Former VP Dick Cheney just copped a new ticker to replace his old worn out heart. Cheney’s been waiting two years to trade in his God given heart for a new one.  Its rare for a 71 year old receive a heart transplant.  I guess the thinking is that at three score and ten a man has lived a full life in a biblical sense.  Its time to square accounts with The Man maintaining the celestial ledgers.  Its time to reckon what one did with the time apportioned.

Cheney’s days inhabiting the dark bunkers of power thoroughly polluted his heart.  The burdens and stresses of reconciling the needs of government and big business takes its toll on a persons spirit.  Planning and executing three wars, untold Black Op forays, displacing millions of people from their homes, throwing nations and regions into total chaos, destroying sovereign nation states and executing heads of state while insuring that the war profiteers maintain an acceptable rate of return for their investors does tend to make the heart heavy.  You would think that a man who has achieved so much glory in this life would be anxious to stand before his maker and go to his reward.

This is not the case with Dick Cheney.  He’s still got a hungry heart.  He’s not through gobbling up the spoils of war.  He still thirsts to chug the kegs of light sweet crude paid for with the blood of young American soldiers.  Cheney’s heart beats won’t stop until every last Appalachian mountain top has been fracked to bits by Halliburton explorers pumping toxic chemicals into the water tables of Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania.   Dick Cheney’s heart will not rest until every pristine river valley is poisoned with the dreck that flows from the polluted veins of his scabby ventricles.

Maybe a change of heart will alter Cheney’s mindset?

I understand that heart transplant recipients must maintain an exacting regime of anti-rejection drugs.  I heard one commentator say that the drugs are most unpleasant to ingest and Mr. Cheney will have to take them for the rest of his life.  Its an ironic ending for a man with a history of heart trouble.  No heart ever found peace in the cavity of this mans soulless chest.  Cheney’s power enabled him to purchase another heart with taxpayers money.  Yet his new heart must be drugged into a stupor to prohibit it from rejecting him.

Mr. Cheney’s money and power can’t buy the peace of a troubled soul.  It always infects the heart.

Music Selection: Bruce Springsteen, Hungry Heart

Risk: politics,

March 26, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Let the Hunger Games Begin

I find it near impossible to listen to the 911 calls recording the murder of Trayvon Martin.  We are allowed to eavesdrop into George Zimmerman’s call to the Sanford Police; a rumination of an executioners song.  The self anointed captain of the neighborhood watch reports  he is observing a hoodie clad Trayvon looking suspicious and up to no good.  Says Zimmerman, “I don’t know what his deal is.  He’s got something in his hand.  He’s looking at me. I know he’s up to no good.”   The 911 dispatcher asks Zimmerman if he is following Trayvon.  Zimmerman answers in the affirmative.  The dispatcher instructs Zimmerman, “we don’t want you to follow him.”   Zimmerman answers, “they always get away.”   Not this time.  Next we hear another 911 call  from a resident of the housing complex asking police assistance for an assault in progress.  This is followed by screams of a terrified child and the sound of gunshots that ended the life of a young boy carrying a can of ice tea and a pack of Skittles.

Its sickening to envision Zimmerman,  sitting in his truck eying his pray from the safety of his lair, palming the smooth shaft of his warm gun then commencing a deliberate stalk of a child.   Zimmerman’s actions elicits the desperate screams of a frightened child being hunted down; culminating in the execution of a person whose killer is moved by a perception of his entitlement to be the judge, jury and executioner of an innocent boy.

Its even more sickening to think that his behavior is sanctioned by the State of Florida “Stand Your Ground” law.  The law entitles citizens to use deadly force to protect themselves in an act of self defense.  After the execution of Trayvon, the state corners office performed a battery of drug tests on the corpse of the victim to gather evidence to classify the deceased as a reprobate.  None was found.  No tests were conducted on Mr. Zimmerman.  The killer of Trayvon walked away from the murder of  a child without so much as a disorderly persons citation.

Since 1987 Florida has issued over two million permits to carry a handgun.  Its a sobering realization to consider the firepower legally roaming the streets of Florida and a body of law that entitles and protects the deadly use of force if one of these gun toting entitle-istas  feels the least bit threatened to his person or property.

This is the fruit of a society steeped in a sense of privilege, radical entitlement and fear.  A  culture and a super structure of law codifying the notion of entitlement and privilege, its Second Amendment protection and its deadly enforcement at any cost is a culture bereft of moral value.   The National Rifle Association, lobbyists working on behalf of firearms manufacturers and conservative political groups are vocal proponents in support of America’s gun centric culture.  Arms manufacturing to support a vast gun ownership market and to supply the largest military in the world with guns and bullets is a huge business.  Gun manufacturers are actively promoting the adoption of Stand Your Ground laws in numerous states.  Its a profitable business opportunity for the gun runners of capitalism; sure to result in mounting body counts of Americans.  It is also a major driving force as to why America is in a permanent state of war.

The proliferation of Stand Your Ground laws should be viewed against the backdrop of a rising conservative political culture that preaches the sanctity of private property and the right to employ extreme measures to protect that property.  All justified under the guise of free markets, virulent patriotism and the God given right to the pursuit of property.

The acceleration of the concentration of wealth into fewer hands has created an extreme political economy of “haves and have nots”.  The viral spread of the Occupy Wall Street Movement (OWS) grew as a reaction against the growing bifurcation of America.  The power and privilege of the monied classes, (the 1%) enjoys the liberty and freedom only money can buy, while the  liberty and security of the remaining majority is continually eroded due to diminished economic capacity and political disenfranchisement.

As the deconstruction of the liberal welfare state proceeds and the social safety net it affords taken down, the roiling mass of the remaining 99% of citizens will be left to fend for themselves, fighting for survival in a Social Darwinist dystopia.

The stirring open to the US Constitution, “We the People”  is undermined with a nation populated with “the other”.  We no longer share a republican kinship of a free people united under a common Bill of Rights, equally sharing the common liberty protected and assured by a federal government.  America is quickly devolving into a confederation of “others” exempted from the common rights and responsibilities of citizenship due to a sense of radical entitlement.  The notion that an individual right to a pursuit of happiness trumps all others and must be defended at all costs is killing the republican ideal of free and equal rights of citizenship.  It is also the mindset that puts a bullet into the heart of a Treyvon Martin.  It is the Rebel Yell that prompts Rush Limbaugh to call Sandra Fluke a slut, the Tea Party to insist that President Obama is not an American, Muslims are Islamo Fascists and illegal aliens are undermining the economic and cultural underpinnings of America.

The dehumanization of people is the driving compulsion that led Sargent Bales to madness.  His action was a psychotic attempt to purge his pain by murdering “the thing” he believed lay at the root of his pain.  A similar perversion is played out everyday from the safety of underground bunkers in Oklahoma.  Here, Air Force technicians guide deadly drones to targets in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen.  They push buttons, delivering death on innocent civilians, creating mounting piles of collateral damage as the unfortunate price foreigners are compelled to pay for the liberty of Americans.

The commodification of humanity escalates as the devaluation of human life proceeds.  The mounting human wreckage  from the underclass internecine warfare results in either death or prison for combatants.   America boasts the largest population of prison inmates in the world.  The privatization of this industry is music to the ears of bankrupt state penal systems begging relief and a slice of the growing pie of penal colony profits.  In China, the state recoups its penal expenditures by harvesting the organs of inmates.  A striking example of taking from the distressed and giving to the society’s elites.

This weekend a sure to be blockbuster movie, The Hunger Games hits the cinema multiplexes.  The premiers were sold out weeks in advance.  Americans are eager to buy a ticket to watch young Americans  driven to slaughter other young Americans in an orgy of Social Darwinist blood lust.

As the liberal welfare state continues to be deconstructed and the services and protections of the social contract eliminated or placed into the profit driven care of private enterprises;  the hunger games of distressed citizens will play out in an ugly pantomime of violent civil discourse.   Save yourself the price of  a ticket to admission to The Hunger Games.  We are all players and the game is being played in a hoodie near you.

Music Selection: Taylor Swift, Civil Wars: Safe and Sound

Risk: culture, prisons, social contract

March 25, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Homage to Homs

….
1.

From our
safe windows,
we crane our necks,
rubbernecking
past the slow
motion wreckage
unfolding in Homs.

We remain
perfectly
perched
to marvel at
the elegant arc of
a mortar shell
framing tomorrows
deep horizon,
whistling through
the twilight to
find its fruitful
mark.

In the now
we keep
complicit time,
to the arrest
of beating hearts,
snapping fingers
to the pop
of rifle cracks,
swooning to
the delicious
intoxication of
curling smoke
lofting ever
upward;
yet
thankfully
remain
distant
enough to
recuse any
possibility
of an
intimate
nexus
with the
besieged.

2.

From our
safe windows,
we behold the
urgent arrivals of
The Friends of Syria
demanding
clean sheets
and 4 Star
room service at a
Tunisian Palace
recently cleaned
and under new
management
promising a
much needed
refurbishment.

The gathered,
a clique of
this epochs
movers and shakers,
a veritable
rouges gallery of
ambassadorial
prelates, Emirs and
state department
bureaucrats
summoned
with portfolio
from the
darkest corners
of the globe.

They are
eager to
sanctify
the misery
of Homs,
deflect and
lay blame
with realpolitik
rationalizations,
commencing
official commissions
of inquiry,
deliberating
grave considerations,
issuing indictments
of formal charges for
Crimes Against
Humanity
while
remaining
urgently
engrossed
in the fascination
of interviewing
potential
process servers
to deliver the bad news
to Bashar al-Assad
and his soulless
Baathist
confederates,
if papers
are to be
served.

Yes, the diplomats
are busy meeting
in closed rooms.

In hushed circles
they whisper
into aroused ears,
railing against
Russia’s
gun running
intransigence
and China’s
geopolitical
chess moves.

Statesmen
boast of the
intrepid justice
of tipping points
and the moving poetry
of self serving tales,
weighing the impact
of stern sanctions
amidst the historical
confusion of the
asymmetrical
symmetries
of civil war.

Caravans
of Arab League
envoys roll up
in silver Bentleys,
crossing deserts
of contradictory
obfuscations,
navigating the
endless dunes
with hand held
sextants of
hidden agendas.

The heroic
Bedouins are
eager to offload
their baggage
and share
on the ground
intelligence from
their recent soirées
across Syria.

They beg
a quick fix,
the triage of a
critical catharsis
to bleed their
brains dry
of heinous
recollections,
pleading
release from a
troubled conscience
victimized by
the unnerving paradox
of reconciling
discoveries of
perverse voyeurism
with the sanctioned
explanations
of their respective
ruling elites.

The bellies
of these
scopophiliacs
are distended;
grown queasy
from a steady diet
of malfeasance
an ulcerated
world parades
in continuous loop;
spewing the raw feeds
of real time misery;
forcibly fed
the grim
visions of
frantic
fathers
rushing
the mangled
carcases
of mortally
wounded
children
to crumpled
piles of smashed
concrete that were
once hospitals.

We despondently
ask how
much longer
must we
look into
the eyes
of starving
children
emaciated from
the wanton
indifference
of the world?

3.

From our
safe windows
we wonder
how much
longer can
the urgent
burning
ambivalence
continue
before it
consumes
our common
humanity in
a final
conflagration?

My hair already
singed by the
endless firestorms
sweeping the prairies
of the world.

How can we survive
the trampling hoards,
the marauding
plagues of acrimony
fed by a voracious
blood lust aspiring to
victimize the people
of Homs and a
thousand cities
like it?

4.

From my safe
window I stand in witness
to the state execution of
refugees fleeing the
living nightmare
of Baba Amr.

The murder of innocents,
today’s newly minted martyrs,
women and children
cornered, trapped
on treacherous roads,
mercilessly
slaughtered and
defiled in death
to mark the lesson
of a ruthless master
enthralled with the
power of his
sadistic fascist
lordship.

I cannot avert my eyes
marking sights
of pleading women
begging for the
lives of their children
in exchange for
the gratification
of a sadists
lust.

My heart
is impaled
on the sharp
spear of
outrage
beholding
careening
children mowed
down with the
serrated blades
protruding
from marauding
jeeps of laughing
soldiers.

I drop
to my knees
in lakes of
tears
reflecting
a grotesque
horror stricken
image of myself.

My eyes have
murdered my soul.

The ghastly images
of Homs have chased
away my Holy Ghost
to the safety of a child’s
sandbox hidden away
in a long forgotten
revered memory.

5.

From my safe window
I seethe with anger
demanding vengeance,
debating how to rise
to meet the obscenity of
the Butcher of Damascus.

The sword of Damocles
dangles so tantalizingly close
to this tyrants throat.

The covered women
of Homs scream prayers
“may Allah bring Bashar to ruin”

Dare I pray
that Allah trip the
horsehair trigger
that holds the
sword at bay?

Do I pick up
the sword
a wield it
as an
avenging
angel?

Am I the
John Brown
of our time?

Do I organize
a Lincoln Brigade
and join the growing
leagues of jihadists
amassing at the
Gates of Damascus?

Will my righteous
indignation fit well
in a confederacy
with Hamas and
al-Qaeda as my
comrades in arms?

Do I succumb to
the passion of hate
and become just
another murderous
partisan, or do I
commend the power
of love and marshal
truth to speak with
the force of
satyagraha?

I lift a fervent prayer
to claim the justice
of Allah’s ear,
“may the knowing one
lift the veil of foolishness
that covers my heart in
cloaks of resent, cure
my blindness that ignores
my raging disease of
plausible deniability
ravaging the body politic
of humanity.”

6.

Indeed,
physician heal thyself.

I run to embrace my
illness.

I pine to understand it.

I undertake the
difficult regimen
of a cure to eradicate
the terrible affliction.

This
pernicious
plague,
subverting
the notion
of a shared
humanness
is a cunning
sedition that
undermines
the unity of
the holy spirit.

The bell from
the toppled steeples
still tolls, echoing
across the space of
continents and eons
of temporal time.

The faithful chimes
gently chides us
to remove the wedge
of perception that
separates, divides
and undermines.

Time has come
to liberally
apply the balm
that salves the
open wounds
so common to
our common
human condition.

The power of prayer
is the joining of hands
with others racked
with the common
affliction of humanness.

Allah,
My eyes are wide open,
my sacred heart revealed,
my sleeves are rolled up,
my memory is stocked,
my soul filled with resolve,
my hand is lifted
extended to all
brothers and sisters.
Lift us,
gather us
into one
loving embrace.

Selah

7.

From the safe
windows of
our palaces
we live within
earshot of
the trilling
zaghroutas
of exasperation
flowing from
the besieged
city smouldering
under Bashar’s
symphony of terror.

Our nostrils
fill with the
acrid plumes
of unrequited
lamentations
lifting from the
the burning
destruction
of shelled
buildings.

Our eyes spark
from the night
tracers
of sleeking
snipers
flitting along
the city’s
rooftops.

The deadly jinn
indiscriminately
inject the
paralysis of
random fear
into the veins
of the city
with each
skillful
head shot.

These
ghoulish
assassins
lavish in their
macabre work;
like vultures
they eagerly
feast on the
corpses of their kill,
the stench of bloated
bodies drying in the
sun is the perfume
that fills their nostrils.

8.

From our
safe window
we discern the
silhouettes of militants
still boldly standing
amidst the
mounting rubble of an
unbowed Homs
shouting;

Allah Akbar!!!
Allah Akbar!!!
Allah Akbar!!!

raising pumped fists,
singing songs
of resistance,
dancing to
the revelation of
freedom,
refusing to
be coward by
the slashing
whips of a
butchers
terrible
sword.

9.

From my
safe window
my tongue laps
the pap
of infants
suckling from
the depleted
teats of mothers
who cannot cry
for their dying
children;
tears fail
to well from
the exhaustion
of dehydrated
pools.

10.

From my
safe window
my heart stirs
to the muezzin
calling the
desperate faithful
from the toppled
rubble of dashed
minarets.

We can
no longer
shut our ears
to the adhan
of screams
the silent
voices that echo
the blatant injustice
of a people under siege.

11.

From my
safe window,
I pay
Homage to Homs
and call brothers
and sisters to rise
with vigilant
insistence
that hostilities
cease and
humanity be
upheld,
respected and
protected.

12.

From my safe
window
I perceive
the zagroutas
of sorrow
manifest as a
whiling hum,
a sweeping
blue mist,
levitating
the coffins
from the rubble
of ravaged streets.

The swirling
chorus of
mourning
joins my
desperate
prayers;
rising in
concert
with the
black billows
of smoke
dancing
away
from the
flaming
embers
of scorched
neighborhoods.

13.

From my
safe window
I heed
the fluttering
wings
of avenging
angels
furiously
batting
as they
climb
the black
plumes,
lifting from
the scattered bricks
of the desecrated
city.

It is the
Jacob’s
Ladder
for our
time;
marking
a new
consecrated
place
where
a New Adam
is destined
to be formed
from the
pulverized
stones of
desolation.

14.

From our
safe windows
we peer into
resplendent
mirrors
beholding
the perfect image of
ourselves
eying
falling tears
dripping blood,
coloring death
onto the
blanched sheets
of disheveled beds.

15.

From our
safe windows
our voices are silenced,
our words mock urgency
our thoughts betray comprehension
our senses fail to illicit empathy
our action is the only worthy prayer

16.

From my
safe window
I hear the
mortar shells
walking toward
my little palace,
the crack
of a sniper
shot
precedes
the wiz of a
passing bullet
whispering
its presence
into my
waxen
ear.

17.

From my
safe window,
my palms scoop
the rich soil
of the flower boxes
perched on my sill.
I anoint the tender
green shoots of  the
Arab Spring
with an incessant flow
of bittersweet tears.

Music selection:
John Coltrane
A Love Supreme
Acknowledgment

Oakland
2/28/12
jbm

March 1, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Aids Awareness Day: Silence is Death

Today is Aids Awareness Day.  The organizations and people who have tirelessly worked to rid the world of this terrible plague is expected to announce that the scourge of Aids has peaked and that it is believed that in the struggle to manage, control and eradicate Aids the tide has turned.  Some believe that the total eradication of Aids is within reach and could someday soon become a reality.

I remember when the Aids virus came to the attention of the general public.  It was first called “the gay influenza” because of the preponderance of infection within the gay community.  I also recall a news broadcast that identified the first Aids carrier into the United States.  If I remember correctly it was reported that a Scandinavian Air steward had the unfortunate distinction of being carrier 001.  A convenient scapegoat that supported the narrative of the disease as transmitted and carried by promiscuous gay lifestyles.

As the plague of Aids grew it devastated the gay community.  Young beautiful men in the prime of their lives withered away to become living cadavers as the HIV virus ravaged their bodies. Caregivers and doctors fought to combat the disease but its cause and cure remained a mysterious enigma that baffled and perplexed researchers as the toll of is devastation mounted.

Friends, lovers and families were ripped apart by death and ignorance.  Bigoted intolerant beliefs were voiced that the disease was God’s retribution visited upon Sodomites for their sinful behaviors. The vibrant gay communities of Castro and Christopher Street were besieged within by the virus and from the outside by the rising vitriol and condemnation of the gay lifestyles.  The growing virulence of anti-gay bigotry paralleled the rising death toll of Aids victims.  The mysterious terror of the disease permitted public opinion to elevate the sin of homosexuality from a “misdemeanor nuisance crime” to a capitol offense.  Many believed the ghettoization of the gay communities was a rational response to quarantining Aids.  Bigots preached that God’s Divine Retribution would snuff out Aids as the last gay man succumbed  to the virus confined within the walls of their profane ghetto.

Medical science, social service and compassionate empathy of caregivers turned the tide and public perception concerning the nature, causes and treatment for Aids.  Today we understand that this disease is not a gay affliction but is a virus which attacks the body’s immune system. HIV can be passed on through infected bodily fluids, most commonly via sex without a condom or by sharing infected needles, syringes or other injecting drug equipment.  Aids afflicts people of all social classes, color, nationality and is particularly prevalent in the Third World where unprotected sex is common.

Aids Awareness Day brings us full circle about the need to be vigilant in seeking understanding and practicing intentional compassion.  Our ignorance and our willingness to blame a segment of society as the cause and curse of  Aids made us all complicit in the victimization of sufferers.  It also make us defacto carriers of the disease by enabling the politics of intolerance and exclusion by erecting a wall of silence around the steeples of bigotry.  Silence is death.  May our voices and prayers always be heard in affirmation of all life.

Selah

Lavender Light Gospel Choir: Be Encouraged 

World Aids Day

Scripture Reading: Mark 5

December 1, 2011 Posted by | LGBT, Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Closing Time

The end of
the six day
work week
blessedly
arrived for
the weary
seamstresses.

The thought
alone
returned
dexterity
to fingers
numbed
by the
monotony
of repetitive
motion and
eased the
incessant
ache of
lower backs
and stiffened
shoulders.

The
exhausted
women
would soon
deposit their
subsistence
wages for
piecemeal
work into
worn knit
purses,
mentally
noting
items to
purchase at
the market
on the way
home.

At the head
of the pay line
stood the
bumptious
paymaster
barking at the
compliant women
to keep in line
and keep in mind
any honorariums
due him.

The workers,
youngest
to the oldest
counted the
tokens
in hand to
discern
the weeks
approximate
payout.

Lack of
math skills,
the uncertainty of
unjust deductions
and poor command
of English
made net pay
calculations
impossible
to deduce.

Passing time
in the pay line
the swelling
sound
of trilling
voices rolled
along the line.

Wise
Yiddish
axioms
and Italianate
passions joined
to bespeak
the ecstasies of
the human
condition.

The strange
hybrid dialect
filling the room
busily hailed
the coming
day of rest,
blessed
the faces of
kissed children,
imagined
the warmth given
from a lump
of coal,
explored
the bumpy feel
of hardened
scabs,
sounded hope
for a cloudless
Sunday,
expressed
remorse over
calloused hands
and the hope
that they could
become soft
and youthful again.

One woman
with a swollen jaw
mouthed an
anguished dread
of rejoining a
violent husband.

A buoyant
Rose,
with glittering
eye,
whispered
about the joy of a
potential courtship
with a distant cousin;
while the
bawdy laughs
of a randy group
of union maids
imagined
the luxury of
a Saturday night
bath and amorous
encounters with
broad shouldered
lovers.

One thick legged
woman hummed
happily as she imagined
picking up a ham-bone for
the soup kettle.

A freckled faced girl
and a mid-aged
German woman each
tearfully fretted over
the ritual turnover
of their wages
to a disabled father
and drunkard husband.

The hope of a
speedy and safe
delivery of a child
was prayed for by a
big busted mother of four,
while another worried
if the infection
of a cut finger
would heal and
that her home bound
children afflicted with
terminal hunger
will have some bread
tonight and
porridge tomorrow.

The outbreak of the
fire changed all
their day dreams
and concerns
into frightful
screams,
nightmarish
death leaps
and eternal rest
for 146 workers
of the Triangle
Waist Company
on March 25, 1911.

May their
small knit purses
be filled with the
pleasant dreams
they wished for
themselves and others
as divine compensation
for their earthly labors
and may
they find a restful
peace in an
eternity of Sundays
enjoyed in the
company of
family,
lovers
and
friends.

Selah

You Tube Music:
Triangle Memorial Concert

You Tube:

American Experience
Today marks the 100th Anniversary of the Triangle Waist Company fire in New York City.It killed 146 people the vast majority immigrant woman who worked at the company. The Triangle Fire is a seminal event in the US labor movement that lead to the recognition of labor unions as vehicles for workers rights and social justice. More on the Triangle Fire can found here on this wonderful sight from Cornell University.

A list of the fatalities can be found here.
Fatalities of Triangle Fire.

Oakland
3/25/11
jbm

March 25, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 1 Comment

Davos Dithers While Cairo Burns

Per-Gynt-in-the-Hall-of-the-Mountain-King-Dovregubbens-Hall-1913_WEBB

In the pristine air of the Swiss Alps,  the worlds power elites gather at an annual World Economic Forum in Davos Switzerland.   In this rarefied Hall of the Mountain King’s, Prime Ministers, CEOs and the esteemed emissaries of the global elite get some valuable face-time with each other to assess the world situation and figure out ways to arrange it more to their likeness.   Russian Prime Minister Medvedev  was scheduled to give the welcoming address but had to cancel because a Chechen suicide bomber blew himself up in Moscow’s busiest airport taking a couple dozen travelers with him.

Busy looking inward to protect personal interests,  the fiduciaries of global solvency stew about regulatory overreach and the added burden it creates as the ruling elites balance the demands of worldly subsistence with the perplexities of generating sufficient cash flows to cover dividend payments to shareholders.  More often than not the heft of shareholder concerns outweighs the growing immiseration of the world’s troubled masses.  The deeply held sacred dogma that enlarged prosperity for the wealthy benefits the disenfranchised is being increasingly challenged as the wealth gap rises against a backdrop of growing economic duress and political instability.

The growing movement to topple Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak illustrates the failure of a global trickle down political economy.  Mubarak has held office since Anwar Sadat’s unceremonious removal from office  is receiving urgent signals from the Egyptians that he has clearly overstayed his welcome.  For three decades, Mr. Mubarak and his military caliphate have been the recipients of generous western aid packages designed to maintain a tenuous peace with Israel.  Stitched together at Camp David in the closing days of the Carter Administration; the sibling rivalry between Abraham’s jealous children remains incendiary and its stability will be tenuous at best considering the growing role of  The Muslim Brotherhood in challenging Mubarak’s continued rule.

The United States sends Egypt $1.5 billion in military aid each year.  Its seem a small price to pay to guarantee the peace with Zion and to  underwrite a strategic ally in the volatile Arab world.  It’s also a perfect political foil to counterbalance Israel’s favored nation status.   But US aid and IMF loans have financed Mubarak’s autocracy creating deep political fissures within Egypt.  These aid programs have widened the wealth gap by limiting opportunity to a select few; abetted political disenfranchisement that encouraged social unrest,  fueling Islamic radicalism and the urgent need for democratic reforms.

The game plan followed in Egypt for the past three decades is not working.  The nature of western aid to Egypt and how it was used to benefit the military ruling elites illustrate the conundrum of the Davos Hajiis.   Aligning economic development and political empowerment of the world’s disenfranchised with the needs of the global capitalist elites has failed to deliver on its promise.  The pursuit of Mule and  Sparrow economics have engorged the elites and left the many sparrows emaciated.

When the Davos delegates leave their ski chateaus for an afternoon on the slopes, as they exit the lifts at the top of the world, it may yet still be possible to glimpse the growing crowds amassing in Tahrir Square.  It may still be possible to connect the dots of promoting the inclusive economics of reciprocity and social democracy.  The revolutionaries gathering in Liberation Square  are joining with the dispossessed to give full voice for an agenda of change.

The elites have stored up too much wealth for themselves.  The masses have remained wanting, impoverished of goods and denied liberty, fed a steady diet of repression they stoke fires in Tahrir Square signaling the time for change has arrived.

Music selection: Edvard Grieg: In the Hall of the Mountain Kings

Risk: Middle East, political stability, economic prosperity, global economy, democracy, Egypt, Hosni Mubarak, Davos, IMF, Israel, Tahrir Square, revolution, military rule, Jimmy Carter, Mule and Sparrow Economics, Camp David Accords, Medvedev, Anwar Sadat, World Economic Forum

 

 

 

January 30, 2011 Posted by | banking, corporate social responsibility, credit crisis, democracy, Egypt, history, Israel, Middle East, military, Muslim, politics, revolution, social unrest, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Risk Rap: 2010 In Review

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

About 3 million people visit the Taj Mahal every year. This blog was viewed about 36,000 times in 2010. If it were the Taj Mahal, it would take about 4 days for that many people to see it.

In 2010, there were 56 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 302 posts. There were 62 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 14mb. That’s about 1 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was December 20th with 806 views. The most popular post that day was American Evita.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were facebook.com, linkedin.com, stumbleupon.com, search.aol.com, and ph.yfittopostblog.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for sarah palin, sarah palin photos, butterfly effect, ramadan, and cookie jar.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

American Evita July 2009

2

Butterfly Effect January 2010

3

Welcome Ramadan August 2009

4

Giving Thanks November 2009


5

Paying The Mentor March 2009

 

Thanks for supporting Risk Rap.

You Tube Music Video: Jerry Lewis, Typewriter

Risk: communication

January 2, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment