Friday, June 25, 2010

Being Played Again! Destroying Safety Nets, War Addiction: Funding Enemies Maintaining Trillion Dollar Racket, Toxic Crap Everywhere From Gulf & 9/11

(EXTRA: If anyone could make a contribution to my PayPal account (or otherwise - contact me for further info), it would be sincerely appreciated as I've just gone off the cliff financially. I really appreciate everything that my kind readers have done for me in the past financially and otherwise. Now . . . back to your regular viewing.) No wonder Tony Hayward was back at yacht racing, while everyone else were still dragging their feet on civilization-ending issues . . . the fix is always in - long before you even see it coming . . . but others do . . . you can be assured . . . and guess who?

So let's all gather around President Obama and sing "Kum-Ba-Yah," because it certainly seems like that is the best he is now destined to get. And I don't like it any better than you do - but you gotta admit it was pretty easy to entrap him - and this gang of trappers plays for keeps.

And now we understand much better why Jeb(!) is readying himself in the wings, and Palin is no longer unthinkable as the Fall Woman.

This was reported on Fox News and as you probably are aware, I give their sources absolutely no credence usually; however, why does this seem to fit in with everything we've been complaining about regarding the Obama Administration's responses to this crisis from the first? And why did so long a time pass by before we had the much more serious response? R.J. Sigmund, that rabble-rouser, sent me this yesterday (and I do not like it one bit). Hope it's not even partially true (emphasis marks added - Ed.):

God's Work? Luck? Or Lawbreaking
One has to wonder about the BP thing. . . .

It seems incomprehensible that the president and other members of the administration still have jobs when it is now being reported that the federal government was apprised by BP on February 13 that the Deepwater Horizon oil rig was leaking oil and natural gas into the ocean floor.

In fact, according to documents in the administration's possession, BP was fighting large cracks at the base of the well for roughly ten days in early February.

Further it seems the administration was also informed about this development, six weeks before to the rig's fatal explosion when an engineer from the University of California, Berkeley, announced to the world a near miss of an explosion on the rig by stating, "They damn near blew up the rig."

Hmmm.... Now let's see.... there was no public dissemination of this information, was there? Well, no.

And yet we know that: According to regulatory filings, RawStory.com has found that Goldman Sachs sold 4,680,822 shares of BP in the first quarter of 2010. Goldman’s sales were the largest of any firm during that time. Goldman would have pocketed slightly more than $266 million if their holdings were sold at the average price of BP’s stock during the quarter.

Really..... We also know that: Tony Hayward cashed in about a third of his holding in the company one month before a well on the Deepwater Horizon rig burst, causing an environmental disaster.

The latter article also says: There is no suggestion that he acted improperly or had prior knowledge that the company was to face the biggest setback in its history. Oh really?

Again: Further it seems the administration was also informed about this development, six weeks before to the rig's fatal explosion when an engineer from the University of California, Berkeley, announced to the world a near miss of an explosion on the rig by stating, "They damn near blew up the rig."

So here are my questions, which I believe we all deserve answers to:

Did Goldman or Mr. Hayward know this?

Did they sell stock with knowledge of material inside information that had not been disseminated to the market?

Just curious, mind you. . . .

Short URL for this article

Peter Ewart gives us some even better insight into things which we know not of (and I'm not even getting into the McChrystal "firing" yet because I think it's more important to keep you informed about the economic shenanigans first and foremost) but should. And most of us didn't miss the events being discussed below, we just were waiting for the other shoe to drop. Surprise! It's dropping now ("wolfpacks" at the door - licensed to murder).

If you don't like the smell of napalm in the morning, you might want to stop reading here. But it's not Vietnam's landscape this time - so please forgive me for running most of this elucidating (and horrifying) essay (some editing was performed for clarity's sake and emphasis marks were also added - Ed.).

Financial Chaos And The Smell Of Napalm In The Morning

May 13, 2010

What in God’s name should we make of it all? On Thursday, the New York Stock Exchange had its most severe plunge in history - nearly 1000 points, before it recovered minutes later. On Monday, it shot up 400 points, one of the biggest spikes in memory. All told, the variance was around 1400 points over the period of a couple of days.

The context for this, of course, is the financial turmoil that has spread from Greece and is sweeping across Europe, threatening the very existence of the European Union and the Euro as a common currency. Last week alone, it is estimated that global stock markets lost $3.7 trillion of their value as a result of this crisis. According to the Canadian finance minister Jim Flaherty, not even the Canadian economy is immune from the financial contagion.

There is no doubt about it – the global financial sector is still in a period of extreme volatility and instability despite massive and unprecedented bailouts from the coffers of governments around the world a year ago. Now the European financial sector is to receive “the mother of all bailouts” amounting to an astounding $1 trillion more.

But there is a troubling feature of this situation - a “financial war”, so to speak – that is not getting the attention it should. As Anders Borg, Swedish Finance Minister has put it, one of the main contributing factors to the extreme volatility in the financial sector is that “wolf packs” of speculators are roaming around Europe looking to feast upon the economic carnage. These include bond and currency speculators, as well as hedge funds, banks and other financial institutions.

The situation has become so grave that German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said that “the [financial] speculators are our adversaries” and that financial markets have become “perfidious”. What she does not clarify, of course, is that German financial institutions, along with U.S.-based Goldman Sachs and others, have played a big role in precipitating the turmoil, including that which is currently unfolding in Greece.

The barbarity of all of this is no secret, giving rise to great tragedies in previous years as well as today in Europe. David Cohen, an economist with Action Economics, comments that “the bond market vigilantes are still hungry, they smell blood”. In his opinion, despite the massive bailout package, the situation could become like the 1997-1998 Asian crisis, where “countries were attacked one by one” Edmund Conway, Economics Editor of The Telegraph newspapers and website, dismisses the idea that the $1 trillion bailout “will help clamp down on the ‘wolfpack’ of speculators baying around the wreckage of the euro area.”

According to him, “if anything, it is rather likely to make billions for the speculators, who will make a killing on the big increases in [stock] prices today, and will make another killing when there is another dip”.

Thus these financial speculators seek out or - as has been suggested by various analysts - actually cause or precipitate financial and economic chaos.

Like the Robert Duvall character in the movie “Apocalypse Now”, they “love the smell of napalm in the morning.”

Just who are these financial speculators?

Well some are no doubt respected “pillars of the establishment” and “respected business leaders”. But, as Danny Schechter comments, “despite all the rules that govern the markets or regulations designed to assure transparency and accountability, crooks, swindlers, and even gangsters are commonplace”.

Whether “pillars of the establishment” or crooks or gangsters or just individuals who “love the smell of napalm”, they all have one thing in common though - when it comes to financial speculation, the flag they hoist is black as night and has the skull and cross bones emblazoned across it.

How can such individuals have so much power over the futures of millions of people and, indeed, of entire countries? One of the features of the last several decades in North America, Europe and elsewhere has been the tremendous growth in the financial sector relative to other sectors of the economy. Large parts of this financial sector have become parasitic and a danger to economic stability, as can be seen in the sub-prime mortgage crisis in the U.S., the debt crisis in Greece, and other examples.

Politically, financial institutions have become extremely powerful. As even some members of Congress have admitted, “the banks own the U.S. Congress” and have contributed massive amounts to the election campaigns of Barack Obama and other prominent political leaders, both Democrat(ic) and Republican.

What can people do in the face of this extremely volatile situation, whether they live in Europe, North America or elsewhere?

One of the things we can do is to take the discussion out of the hands of the financiers, as well as the political pundits and politicians who are in their service.

They are desperately trying to blame ordinary people for the financial chaos, claiming that is their high wages, pension funds and benefits that are the source of the problem – i.e. people are living “beyond their means”. Furthermore, they claim that banks, hedge funds and other financial institutions are absolutely vital for the economy and cannot be allowed to fail.

Let the population fall, let the country be ruined, but whatever you do, keep propping up the financiers and moneybags.

Now it is true that financial services are a necessary part of a modern economy. Indeed, they are as necessary as utilities, such as water, gas, and electricity. So then, why couldn’t financial services actually be converted into a type of public utility and be owned, operated, and stringently regulated as such?

In other words, stop bailing out the banks and financiers. Let them fall. In their place, set up public non-profit banking institutions, similar to credit unions, and ban the hedge funds, currency manipulators, and other speculators as pirates who constitute a threat to human society.

Jesus cleared the moneylenders from the temple. Given the financial chaos of the last several years, maybe it’s high time to follow his example.

Peter Ewart is a writer, columnist and community activist based in Prince George, BC. He can be reached at: peter.ewart@shaw.ca.

From Guns & Butter we learn the truth (again). Michael Hudson, financial economist and historian, speculates that the Democratic Party today is to the right to the Republicans (although not the Tea Bagger thugs) in that they supported the bailout giveaway to the banksters (run by Summers and Geithner who are two of the biggest bankster employee/lobbyists). He convinces me.
Orchestrated Movement to Abolish Lower Classes and Destroy All Safety Nets/Social Security

A Return to Feudalism and the City-State"Europe's Financial Class War Against Labor, Industry and Government"
Michael Hudson explains what is happening in Europe right now (blackmailing them into stopping all social spending including health care, pensions and social security) and what they have planned for us. Yes, totally orchestrated (as you undoubtedly have guessed).
Guns and Butter - June 16, 2010 at 1:00pm Click to listen (or download)
David DeGraw details the U.S. Addiction (but we knew this already). It's great to have all the data though isn't it? P.S. So when the "news readers" make statements like "It costs us billions to wage the wars, so how do the Taliban and al Qaeda do it, it's rhetorical. They all know the answer. So, how do you like our propaganda against our own citizens? Same as it ever was. (There's also a nice rationale for the vilification of the French (remember "Freedom Fries?") included in the essay below - seems they had contracts with Iraq which we wanted nullified and they wouldn't agree before the Cheney/Bush Iraq Invasion.) (Emphasis marks added - Ed.).
The U.S. War Addiction: Funding Enemies to Maintain Trillion Dollar Racket

June 19, 2010 A few recent news items help expose the true drivers of current wars around the world. #1) Wherever there is a war, look for CIA/IMF/private military war profiteers covertly funding and supporting BOTH sides in order to keep the wars raging and the profits rolling in. As former CIA Station Chief John Stockwell explained: “Enemies are necessary for the wheels of the US military machine to turn.” Here’s an important glimpse of truth to seep through last week in the NY Times, via Raw Story: US-backed ‘bribes’ in Afghanistan may be funding Taliban On June 7, the day Afghanistan became America’s longest-ever war, the New York Times reported on an ongoing investigation poised to prove that private security companies “are using American money to bribe the Taliban” to fuel combat and thus enhance demand for their services. The news follows a “series of events last month that suggested all-out collusion with the insurgents,” the Times said. “The American people are paying to prop up a corrupt government that may be using our money to pay private companies to drum up business by paying the insurgents to attack our troops,” [Kucinich] said…. The Times interviewed a NATO official in Kabul who “believed millions of dollars were making their way to the Taliban.” [read more] #2) On top of that report, Sunday’s headlines read, “Pakistani spy agency supports Taliban:” Pakistan’s main spy agency continues to arm and train the Taliban and is even represented on the group’s leadership council despite U.S. pressure to sever ties and billions in aid to combat the militants, said a research report released Sunday. The findings could heighten tension between the two countries and raise further questions about U.S. success in Afghanistan since Pakistani cooperation is seen as key to defeating the Taliban, which seized power in Kabul in the 1990s with Islamabad’s support. U.S. officials have suggested in the past that current or former members of Pakistan’s powerful Inter-Services Intelligence agency, or ISI, have maintained links to the Taliban despite the government’s decision to denounce the group in 2001 under U.S. pressure. [read more] First off, these two reports are really not news at all. Reports of American tax dollars ending up in the hands of the Taliban have been coming out since the start of the war and the ISI, as the CIA has been well aware of for years now, has been playing both sides of this war and is pivotal in keeping the war going. Secondly, I have long wondered when the CIA / US military would start exposing all of this in the mainstream propaganda press as a pretext to further expand the war into Pakistan. #3) As a result of all this, and not surprising at all to people who were paying close attention to Obama’s surge strategy, costs and death counts are quickly rising. Jim Lobe reports from Afghanistan that the “News is Bad.” While U.S. officials insist they are making progress in reversing the momentum built up by the Taliban insurgency over the last several years, the latest news from Afghanistan suggests the opposite may be closer to the truth. Even senior military officials are conceding privately that their much-touted new counterinsurgency strategy of “clear, hold and build” in contested areas of the Pashtun southern and eastern parts of the country are not working out as planned despite the “surge” of some 20,000 additional U.S. troops over the past six months. Casualties among the nearly 130,000 U.S. and other NATO troops now deployed in Afghanistan are also mounting quickly. [read more] #4) In a propaganda effort to spin away from all the latest bad news, the desperate US military has pulled this dusty old news report out of their back-pocket and launched a psychological operation in the NY Times to give a positive spin in hopes of further manipulating US public opinion: U.S. Identifies Vast Riches of Minerals in Afghanistan The United States has discovered nearly $1 trillion in untapped mineral deposits in Afghanistan, far beyond any previously known reserves…. The previously unknown deposits — including huge veins of iron, copper, cobalt, gold and critical industrial metals like lithium — are so big and include so many minerals that are essential to modern industry that Afghanistan could eventually be transformed into one of the most important mining centers in the world, the United States officials believe. An internal Pentagon memo, for example, states that Afghanistan could become the “Saudi Arabia of lithium,” a key raw material in the manufacture of batteries for laptops and BlackBerrys. [read more] In the process of this latest propaganda campaign, the Pentagon has unwittingly exposed two things that I will now jump on. A) The real reason why we are in this war to begin with: it’s all about natural resources. And B) All the BS statements about these “previously unknown deposits” clearly prove, yet again, that the NY Times is only too happy to play the role of a straight-up propaganda paper. For those of us paying attention, we’ve been reading reports about these minerals for the past decade! Roland Sheppard just sent this along: “The New York Times, when it was beating the drums of war in 2002, failed to mention that the USGS published a report, at that time, Mines and Mineral Occurrences of Afghanistan, Compiled by G.J. Orris and J.D. Bliss. Open-File Report 02-110. On page 16, they list as ‘Significant Minerals or Materials’ magnetite, hematite, chalcopyrite, covellite, chalcocite, cuprite, malachite, azurite, molybdenite, and native gold – lithium is mentioned on page 10 under ‘References.’” So, from the very beginning, as I went into further detail in the past, the war in Afghanistan is all about resources. I’ll get back to the “Saudi Arabia of lithium” in a minute, here’s a brief excerpt from my prior report on another key resource in the region: ORIGINS OF THE AFGHANISTAN OCCUPATION: “STRATEGY OF THE SILK ROUTE” Up until 9/11, oil companies, with the help of the Bush administration, were desperately trying to work out a deal with the Taliban to build an oil pipeline through Afghanistan. One of the world’s richest oil fields is on the eastern shore of the Caspian sea just north of Afghanistan. The Caspian oil reserves are of top strategic importance in the quest to control the earth’s remaining oil supply. The US government developed a policy called “The Strategy of the Silk Route.”

The policy was designed to lock out Russia, China and Iran from the oil in this region. This called for U.S. corporations to construct an oil pipeline running through Afghanistan.

Since the mid 1990s, a consortium of U.S. companies led by Unocal have been pursing this goal. A feasibility study of the Central Asian pipeline project was performed by Enron. Their study concluded that as long as the country was split among fighting warlords the pipeline could not be built. Stability was necessary for the $4.5 billion project and the U.S. believed that the Taliban would impose the necessary order. The U.S. State Department and Pakistan’s ISI, impressed by the Taliban movement to cut a pipeline deal, agreed to funnel arms and funding to the Taliban in their war for control of Afghanistan. [read more]

Then of course we have the war in Iraq, again from my previous report: ORIGINS OF THE IRAQ OCCUPATION: CHENEY ENERGY TASK FORCE As an AlterNet report put it: “In January 2000, 10 days into President George W. Bush’s first term, representatives of the largest oil and energy companies joined the new administration to form the Cheney Energy Task Force.” Secret Task Force documents that were dated March 2001, which were obtained by Judical Watch in 2003 after a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, contained “a map of Iraqi oilfields, pipelines, refineries and terminals, as well as two charts detailing Iraqi oil and gas projects…” They also had: “… a series of lists titled ‘Foreign Suitors for Iraqi Oilfield Contracts‘ naming more than 60 companies from some 30 countries with contracts in various stages of negotiation.

None of contracts were with American nor major British companies, and none could take effect while the U.N. Security Council sanctions against Iraq remained in place. Three countries held the largest contracts: China, Russia and Franceall members of the Security Council and all in a position to advocate for the end of sanctions.

Were Saddam to remain in power and the sanctions to be removed, these contracts would take effect, and the U.S. and its closest ally would be shut out of Iraq’s great oil bonanza.”

Project Censored highlighted a Judicial Watch report that stated: “Documented plans of occupation and exploitation predating September 11 confirm heightened suspicion that U.S. policy is driven by the dictates of the energy industry. According to Judicial Watch President, Tom Fitton, ‘These documents show the importance of the Energy Task Force and why its operations should be open to the public.’”

So that’s the oil angle of this resource war, now back to the lithium angle. This longest war in US history is very similar to the even longer wars raging in Northern Africa, another resource rich paradise of death and destruction.

In the late 1990s, CIA-connected corporations like Bechtel worked with NASA to conduct infrared satellite studies to discover mineral rich regions throughout the world. Other than the discoveries in South-Central Asia (Af-Pak region), Northern Africa (Democratic Republic of Congo region), emerged as a key source for future resources. In particular, the mineral coltan, which like lithium, is vital to powering most computer technology. Since Bechtel and NASA made these discoveries, a report from The International Rescue Committee revealed that an astonishing 5.4 MILLION Africans have been killed in the region. For some background, here’s an excellent report from July 2001, in Dollars and Sense magazine:

The Business of War in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Dena Montague and Frida Berrigan “This is all money,” says a Western mining executive, his hand sweeping over a geological map toward the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). He is explaining why, in 1997, he and planeloads of other businessmen were flocking to the impoverished country and vying for the attention of then-rebel leader Laurent Kabila. The executive could just as accurately have said, ‘This is all war.’

The interplay among a seemingly endless supply of mineral resources, the greed of multinational corporations desperate to cash in on that wealth, and the provision of arms and military training to political tyrants has helped to produce the spiral of conflicts that have engulfed the continent – what many regard as “Africa’s First World War.” These minerals are vital to maintaining U.S. military dominance…” [read more] For further detail, here’s Project Censored’s 2003 report: American Companies Exploit the Congo: The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has been labeled “the richest patch of earth on the planet.” The valuable abundance of minerals and resources in the DRC has made it the target of attacks from U.S.-supported neighboring African countries Uganda and Rwanda.

The DRC is mineral rich with millions of tons of diamonds, copper, cobalt, zinc, manganese, uranium, niobium, and tantalum also known as coltan. Coltan has become an increasingly valuable resource to American corporations. Coltan is used to make mobile phones, night vision goggles, fiber optics, and capacitators used to maintain the electrical charge in computer chips….

The DRC holds 80% of the world’s coltan reserves, more than 60% of the world’s cobalt and is the world’s largest supplier of high-grade copper. With these minerals playing a major part in maintaining US military dominance and economic growth, minerals in the Congo are deemed vital US interests.

Historically, the U.S. government identified sources of materials in Third World countries, and then encouraged U.S. corporations to invest in and facilitate their production. Dating back to the mid-1960s, the U.S. government literally installed the dictatorship of Mobutu Sese Seko, which gave U.S. corporations access to the Congo’s minerals for more than 30 years. However, over the years Mobutu began to limit access by Western corporations, and to control the distribution of resources. In 1998, U.S. military-trained leaders of Rwanda and Uganda invaded the mineral-rich areas of the Congo. The invaders installed illegal colonial-style governments which continue to receive millions of dollars in arms and military training from the United States. Our government and a $5 million Citibank loan maintains the rebel presence in the Congo. Their control of mineral rich areas allows western corporations, such as American Mineral Fields, to illegally mine. Rwandan and Ugandan control over this area is beneficial for both governments and for the corporations that continue to exploit the Congo’s natural wealth….

San Francisco based engineering firm Bechtel Inc. established strong ties in the rebel zones as well. Bechtel drew up an inventory of the Congo’s mineral resources free of charge, and also paid for NASA satellite studies of the country for infared maps of its minerals. Bechtel estimates that the DRC’s mineral ores alone are worth $157 billion dollars. Through coltan production, the Rwandans and their allies are bringing in $20 million revenue a month. Rwanda’s diamond exports went from 166 carats in 1998 to 30,500 in 2000. Uganda’s diamond exports jumped from approximately 1,500 carats to about 11,300. The final destination for many of these minerals is the U.S.” [read more]

And to close this out, let me return to “The Business of War” report by Dena Montague and Frida Berrigan. As you will see, you always have to follow the money, the bankers and our friends at the IMF are always at the root of global death and destruction, and are the true Masters of War:

“Today, the United States claims that it has no interest in the DRC other than a peaceful resolution to the current war. Yet U.S. businessmen and politicians are still going to extreme lengths to gain and preserve sole access to the DRC’s mineral resources. And to protect these economic interests, the U.S. government continues to provide millions of dollars in arms and military training to known human-rights abusers and undemocratic regimes. Thus, the DRC’s mineral wealth is both an impetus for war and an impediment to stopping it…. During his historic visit to Africa in 1998, President Clinton praised Presidents Kagame and Musevini as leaders of the ‘African Renaissance,’ just a few months before they launched their deadly invasion of the DRC with U.S. weapons and training….

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank have knowingly contributed to the war effort. The international lending institutions praised both Rwanda and Uganda for increasing their gross domestic product (GDP), which resulted from the illegal mining of DRC resources. Although the IMF and World Bank were aware that the rise in GDP coincided with the DRC war, and that it was derived from exports of natural resources that neither country normally produced, they nonetheless touted both nations as economic success stories….

In January 2000, Chevron – the corporation that named an oil tanker after National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice – announced a three-year, $75 million spending program in the DRC, thus challenging the notion that war discourages foreign investment…. As one investor put it, “It is a good moment to come: it is in difficult times that you can get the most advantage.”….

In April 2001, a scathing UN report argued that Presidents Kagame and Museveni are “on the verge of becoming the godfathers of the illegal exploitation of natural resources and the continuation of the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo.” The two leaders, the report alleged, have turned their armies into armies for business….

According to East African media reports, U.S. diplomats continue to view Rwanda and Uganda as “strategic allies in the Great Lakes region” and “would not want to upset relations with them at this time.” …. The IMF and World Bank have also indicated that their policies toward Rwanda and Uganda will remain unchanged….”

Famed two-time Congressional Medal of Honor recipient US Brigadier General Smedley D. Butler accurately summed up the situation when he said: “I spent 33 years in the Marines, most of my time being a high-class muscle man for big business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer for Capitalism…. The general public shoulders the bill. This bill renders a horrible accounting. Newly placed gravestones, Mangled bodies.

Shattered minds. Broken hearts and homes. Economic instability. Back-breaking taxation for generations and generations.” Sing it with me:

“Come you masters of war…You that hide behind desksI just want you to know,I can see through your mask…” Read more of David DeGraw's work at DavidDeGraw.org. Deficit Terrorists Strike In The UK - USA Next?

By Ellen Brown

"[T]he powers of financial capitalism had another far-reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole. This system was to be controlled in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert. Pentagon to Rebuild Data Base on People “of Interest” By Matthew Rothschild, June 21, 2010 The Pentagon wants to create another unit to keep records on a whole range of people. The unit is called the Foreign Intelligence and Counterintelligence Operation Records. The Pentagon says it is seeking records on “individuals involved in, or of interest to, DoD intelligence, counterintelligence, counterterrorism and counternarcotic operations or analytical projects, as well as individuals involved in foreign intelligence and/or training activities.” All this came out in a Pentagon filing with the Federal Register on June 15. For the most part, this language seems designed to cover people working for or with the Pentagon. But it also includes anyone “of interest to” the Pentagon’s intelligence operations, which could mean just about anybody. And it appears especially concerned with “breaches of security related to DoD controlled information or facilities.” According to the Washington Post, this may be a successor to the Pentagon’s notorious Talon program, which ended up collecting records on nonviolent U.S. citizens who were simply exercising their First Amendment rights.

This effort may also be related to the Pentagon’s concern about the people behind Wikileaks or to protesters at Pentagon facilities.

Under this new operation, the Pentagon could get your Social Security number, your phone number, your license plates, your passport number, your citizenship status, and your biometric data. This new intelligence gathering operation is set to begin on July 15, unless there’s enough public outcry. Matthew Rothschild is the editor of The Progressive magazine. Toxic Crap Everywhere Now From Gulf Reminder of What British Petroleum Is Doing to the Planet Eventually, toxic crap from the petroleum will diffuse into all the oceans. It will evaporate with water to form rain that will poison people and other life forms all over the planet. The air we breathe will remain poisoned as well.

Greenpeace has a Flickr photo set that shows what is really being done to the environment.

So much of the coverage on the cable "news" channels is about the politicians and the pundits, while the consequences of this horrific crime get short shrift. - - - - - - -

From Walled-In-Pond:

In jail for being in debt: "They have no right to do this to me," said the 57-year-old patient care advocate, her voice as soft as a whisper. "Not for a stupid credit card."

Justice for Bradley Manning Army Specialist Bradley Manning, who is accused of leaking a video to WikiLeaks (the now infamous "Collateral Murder") has friends in the blogosphere. There is a site up called Help Bradley Manning, and a petition the text of which is below.

To: US Department of Defense; US Department of Justice, We, the Undersigned, call for justice for US Army PFC Bradley Manning, incarcerated without charge (as of 18 June 2010) at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait.

Media accounts state that Mr. Manning was arrested in late May for leaking the video of US Apache helicopter pilots killing innocent people and seriously wounding two children in Baghdad, including those who arrived to help the wounded, as well as potentially other material. The video was released by WikiLeaks under the name "Collateral Murder".

If these allegations are untrue, we call upon the US Department of Defense to release Mr. Manning immediately.

If these allegations ARE true, we ALSO call upon the US Department of Defense to release Mr. Manning immediately.

Simultaneously, we express our support for Mr. Manning in any case, and our admiration for his courage if he is, in fact, the person who disclosed the video. Like in the cases of Daniel Ellsberg, W. Mark Felt, Frank Serpico and countless other whistleblowers before, government demands for secrecy must yield to public knowledge and justice when government crime and corruption are being kept hidden.

Justice for Bradley Manning! - The Justice for Bradley Manning Petition h/t Mike Gogulski.

All this is of course just another example of how much different Obama is from Bush, and how open and "transparent" his administration is to the American people. After all, we wouldn't want a President who was trying to suppress the truth about the war, or prevent vital information from getting to the public, now would we, "liberals"?

And isn't this really the most important story of the decade if not since World War II? And it will not be covered in this Rupert Murdoch Fox News-owned world.
Hung Out to Dry

By Georg Hodel June 22, 2010 (Originally published Summer 1997)

Editor’s Note: Georg Hodel, who died Sunday after surgery in a Swiss hospital, was a courageous journalist with the tenacity to dig into complex and difficult stories that scared away many other reporters – and he paid a career price for his bravery.

Working in Nicaragua in the 1990s, Hodel collaborated with San Jose Mercury-News reporter Gary Webb on an important series, entitled “Dark Alliance,” about the Reagan administration’s tolerance of cocaine smuggling by the Nicaraguan contra rebels.

When the newspaper’s editors lost their nerve and pulled the plug on Webb’s follow-up investigation, Hodel pleaded with the editors, citing dangers for people who had helped in the probe – but to no avail. Soon, Hodel and his family were forced to flee Nicaragua. (Webb, whose career was destroyed, committed suicide in 2004.)

In honor of Hodel’s heroic work, we are republishing the story that he wrote for Consortiumnews.com in summer 1997 after Webb’s investigation was betrayed. (For more on the historic consequences of the “Dark Alliance” series, see Consortiumnews.com’s “Why Journalist Gary Webb Died.”)

The "Dark Alliance" contra-crack series, which I co-reported with Gary Webb, has died with less a bang or a whimper than a gloat from the mainstream press.

"The San Jose Mercury News has apparently had enough of reporter Gary Webb and his efforts to prove that the CIA was involved in the sale of crack cocaine," announced Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz, who has written some of the harshest attacks on Webb.

"Editors at the California newspaper have yanked Webb off the story and told him they will not publish his follow-up articles. They have also moved to transfer Webb from the state capital bureau in Sacramento to a less prestigious suburban office in Cupertino." [Washington Post, June 11, 1997] Webb got the news on June 5, 1997, from executive editor Jerry Ceppos, who had publicly turned against the series several weeks earlier with a personal column declaring that the stories "fell short of my standards" and failed to handle the "gray areas" with sufficient care. [San Jose Mercury News, May 11, 1997] In killing the new stories, Ceppos said Mercury News editors had reservations about the credibility of a principal Webb source, apparently a reference to convicted cocaine trafficker Carlos Cabezas, who has claimed that a CIA agent oversaw the transfer of drug profits to the contras. Ceppos also complained that Webb had gotten too close to the story. Ceppos then ordered Webb to the paper's San Jose headquarters the next day to learn about his future with the newspaper.

On June 6, 1997, as that final decision was coming down, I called Ceppos to protest. I wanted him to understand the human as well as journalistic costs of what he was doing, not just to Webb but to other journalists associated with the story in Nicaragua where I have worked for more than a decade. I thought he should know that his decision to distance himself from the "Dark Alliance" series -- combined with earlier attacks from major American newspapers -- had increased the dangers to me and others who have been pursuing this story in the field. Just as Webb has been under personal attack in the United States, I have faced efforts from former contras to tear down my reputation in Nicaragua. Ex-contras also have harassed Nicaraguan reporters who have tried to follow up the contra-cocaine evidence. In one paid advertisement, Oscar Danilo Blandon, a drug trafficker who has admitted donating some cocaine profits to the contras in the early 1980s, called me a "pseudo-journalist" and accused me of having some unspecified links to an "international communist organization."

Blandon also accused Nicaraguan reporters from El Nuevo Diario of "trying to manipulate" members of the U.S. Congress looking into the contra-cocaine charges. Former contra chief Adolfo Calero declared in an article in La Tribuna what he thought should be done to these politically suspect Nicaraguan and foreign reporters. He used metaphorical language that refers to leftist Nicaraguan journalists as "deer" and fellow-traveling foreign reporters as "antelopes."

"The deer are going to be finished off," Calero wrote on Feb. 2, 1997. "In this case, the antelopes as well." As a Swiss journalist, I would be an "antelope." Less subtly, there have been threatening phone calls to my office. In late May 1997, a male voice shouted obscenities at me over the phone and threatened to "screw" my wife who is a Nicaraguan lawyer representing Enrique Miranda, one of the Nicaraguan cocaine traffickers who has spoken with congressional investigators. Earlier I had sent Ceppos a letter which complained that his May 11 "column provoked ... a series of very unfortunate reactions that seriously affect my working environment and exposes unintentionally everybody here who has been involved in this investigation."

In the phone conversation on June 6, 1997, Ceppos first denied having received the letter, but then admitted that he had it. Still, he refused my request that the letter be published.

A Clear Message

My appeal also did not stop Ceppos from informing Webb later that day that the investigative reporter would be transferred to a suburban office 150 miles from his home where he and his wife are raising three young children.

That would mean that Webb would have to relocate from Sacramento or not see his family during the work week. The message was clear and Webb did not miss its significance: he saw the transfer as a clear message that the Mercury News wanted him to quit. The retributions against Webb were a sad end to the "Dark Alliance" series which has been enveloped in controversy since it was published in August 1996.

The series linked contra-cocaine shipments in the early 1980s to a Los Angeles drug pipeline that first mass-marketed "crack" cocaine to inner-city neighborhoods. The series drew especially strong reactions from the African-American community which has been devastated by the crack epidemic. In fall 1996, however, The Washington Post and other major newspapers began attacking the series for alleged overstatements. The papers also mocked African-Americans for supposedly being susceptible to baseless "conspiracy theories." The furor obscured the fact that "Dark Alliance" built upon more than a decade of evidence amassed by journalists, congressional investigators and agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration who found numerous connections between the contras and drug traffickers.

Some of that evidence was compiled in a Senate report issued in 1989 by a subcommittee headed by Sen. John Kerry. Other pieces came out during the Iran-contra scandal and still more during the drug-trafficking trial of Panamanian Gen. Manuel Noriega in 1991. But the contras were always defended by the Reagan-Bush administrations which saw the guerrillas as a necessary geo-political counterweight to the leftist Sandinista government that ruled Nicaragua in the 1980s.

With a few exceptions, the mainstream media joined the White House in protecting the contras -- and the CIA -- on the drug-trafficking evidence. [For details, see Robert Parry's Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth.'] Contra Cocaine.

Still, from time to time, even The Washington Post has acknowledged legitimate concerns about contra drug trafficking. In fall 1996, for instance, after initiating the attacks on "Dark Alliance," the Post ran a front-page article describing how Medellin cartel trafficker George Morales "contributed at least two airplanes and $90,000 to" one of the contra groups operating in Costa Rica. The story quoted contra leaders Octaviano Cesar and Adolfo "Popo" Chamorro as admitting receipt of the contributions, although they insisted that they had cleared the transactions with their contact at the CIA. [Washington Post, Oct. 31, 1996]

The Post did not mention the name of that contact, an omission that angered Adolfo Chamorro. He told me that the CIA man was Alan Fiers, who served as chief of the CIA's Central American Task Force in the mid-1980s.

Fiers has denied any illicit involvement with drug traffickers, although he testified to the congressional Iran-contra investigators that he knew that among the Costa Rican-based contras, drug trafficking involved "not a couple of people. It was a lot of people." While admitting some truth to the contra-cocaine allegations, the Post story stopped short of any self-criticism about the newspaper's failure to expose the contra-drug problem in the 1980s as the cocaine was entering the United States.

[The contra-cocaine problem was first reported in December 1985 by Associated Press reporters Robert Parry and Brian Barger and was followed up by an investigation led by Sen. John Kerry discovering more proof of a serious drug scandal, but the Post and other major U.S. newspapers mostly ignored or disparaged the evidence.]

In its Oct. 31, 1996, story, the Post only noted that "a broad congressional inquiry from 1986 to 1988 ... found that CIA and other officials may have chosen to overlook evidence that some contra groups were engaged in the drug trade or were cooperating with traffickers." The Post then added obliquely: "But that probe caused little stir when its report was released." With that indirect phrasing, the Post seemed to be shunting off blame for the "little stir" onto the Congressional Report. The newspaper did not explain why it buried the Senate report's explosive findings on page A20. [Washington Post, April 14, 1989].

Then, in the summer and fall of 1996 when Webb’s investigation revived the contra-cocaine scandal, the Post and other big papers focused almost exclusively on alleged flaws in "Dark Alliance." When that drumbeat of criticism began, Ceppos initially defended the series. He wrote a supportive letter to the Post (which the newspaper refused to publish). But the weight of the attacks from major newspapers and leading journalism reviews eventually softened up the Mercury News.

Inside the paper, young staffers feared that the controversy could hurt their chances of getting hired by bigger newspapers. Senior editors fretted about their careers in the Knight-Ridder chain, which owns the Mercury News.

New Leads: In the meantime, Webb and I continued following contra-drug leads in Nicaragua and the United States. The new information eventually became the basis for Webb's submission of four new stories to Ceppos. Webb has described these stories as completed drafts although Ceppos called them just "notes." Though I have not seen Webb's drafts, I know they include two stories relating to witnesses in Nicaragua who were part of the cocaine networks of Norwin Meneses, a longtime Nicaraguan drug trafficker who was based in San Francisco and who collaborated closely with senior contra leaders.

Meneses's operation surfaced with the so-called Frogman case in 1983 when the FBI and Customs captured two divers in wet suits hauling $100 million worth of cocaine ashore at San Francisco Bay. The federal prosecutor ordered $36,020 captured in that case be given to the contras who claimed it was their money. For the new "Dark Alliance" stories, we interviewed Carlos Cabezas who was convicted of conspiracy in the Frogman case. Cabezas insisted that a CIA agent -- a Venezuelan named Ivan Gomez -- oversaw the cocaine operation to make sure the profits went to the contras, not into the pockets of the traffickers. Last year, Cabezas outlined his claims in a British ITV documentary.

"They told me who he [Gomez] was and the reason that he was there," Cabezas said. "It was to make sure that the money was given to the right people and nobody was taking advantage of the situation and nobody was taking profit that they were not supposed to. And that was it. He was making sure that the money goes to the contra revolution." The ITV documentary, which aired on Dec. 12, 1996, quoted former CIA Latin American division chief Duane Clarridge as denying any knowledge of either Cabezas or Gomez. Clarridge directed the contra war in the early 1980s and was later indicted on perjury charges in connection with the Iran-contra scandal. He was pardoned by President George H.W. Bush in 1992.

The new "Dark Alliance" stories also would have examined the claims of other contra-connected drug witnesses in Nicaragua as well as the career problems confronted by DEA agents when they uncovered evidence of contra drug trafficking. But prospects that the full contra-cocaine story will ever be told in the United States have dimmed with the shutting down of "Dark Alliance." I am also afraid that Ceppos's decision to punish Webb will strengthen the campaign of intimidation inside Nicaragua. But beyond the personal costs to Webb and me, Ceppos's actions sent a chilling message to all journalists who some day might dare investigate wrongdoing by the CIA and its operatives.

What's especially troubling about this new "Dark Alliance" tale is that the investigative spotlight was turned off not by the government, but by the U.S. national news media. [For another classic example of Hodel’s journalism, see “Evita, the Swiss and the Nazis.”]

At this point (having gone on waaaay tooo looong already), I feel the financial need to quote from Jesse's Café Américain (emphasis marks added - Ed.):

23 June 2010 SP 500 Futures and Gold

The Sept SP 500 Futures daily chart rolled over at big overhead resistance and has now fallen to support, retracing approximately 50% of its advance. Housing sales are falling dramatically according to this morning's economic reports.

Why this would surprise anyone is beyond me. Outside of the cheerleading the economy in the US is wooden, zombie-like, dominated by non-productive speculation and wealth transferal. It is becoming a textbook example of policy error for the next school of economic thought to come forward after this epic failure by the neo-liberals and their faux free market hypocrisy.The SP 500 *could* fall to the bottom of that trading range which would take it down to 1050. However, JPM and Morgan Stanley have been appointed to get a General Motors IPO out into the market over the next week or so, which will help to relieve the US government of its 60+% stake in that company.

So, while it may decline further, or find a footing here despite the news, I would not expect it to fall apart unless there is a big event or breaking news. They would really like to prop the market until they can get this pig out the door.

Gold was hit again by bear raids today. Make no mistake, this is what it is, and it is as we forecast. If one had hedges in place it did not matter, but it does serve to illustrate the shallow venality of this market, and the lax stewardship of the CFTC.

The economic news this morning was quite dire, and concerns about a 'double dip' will revive as the US enters its 'zombie-like' stagflation which is the natural consequence of policy errors and a failure to reform.

How can a country being run by gamblers, control fraud operators, corrupt politicians, and the idiot sons and shills of decrepit oligarchs (W Bush, Clinton, Obama, Palin for example) possibly turn around without a serious reform and change in regime, and a return to the fundamentals that made it great?

This is what Americans voted for in the last election, and they were cheated, and rightfully feel betrayed and disappointed. Change will still inevitably come, but such changes are historically fraught with risk. Other ways will be sought to further distract a restless public. Change and progress will be resisted with a remarkable intensity by a powerful few, like men possessed. The drums of war are being beaten by those who never fight themselves, but feed their half lives off the misery of others. And so we go into the future with fear and trembling.

Courage! (Quoting Dan Rather before he was dumped from the CBS Evening News Anchor slot.) Suzan ____________

3 comments:

Lisa G. said...

I call bullshit on Tony's insider trading. Haul him before the SEC and let's see how this shit holds up. GS too.

I already moved my money from Chase to a credit union. When they asked what they could do to save my business, I said, "Fire Jaime Dimon and make him stop lying in front of Congress." He pretty much didn't have an answer for that one.

I'm not surprised that Xe et. al., is paying the Taliban. That's exactly what we did in Iraq and now look at the clusterfuck that is. And what we are doing in Pakistan is illegal, plain and simple. Let's piss off another country shall we - let's see who's next - I bet Yemen.

I'm shocked, shocked I tell you that we are causing unrest and war in the DRC and that the IMF is helping. Nothing like exploiting more poor people.

It already rained oil in LA.

Whew. That was a long one.

Suzan said...

Hey there, Lisa!

You are the best. I mean it, girl!

BAR NONE!!!!

I love your no-BS comments.

And I promise not to run any other essays as long (after today's which I've had a few problems publishing in a timely fashion already (all weekend long) as events just keep happening).

Ha!

Love ya, baby.

Rock on!

S

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