Monday, June 28, 2010

ASSHOLES! INGRATES! CRIMINALS! Congress Pimps Out the American People & Baker/Krugman Call the End Game (For Our Lifetime Anyway)

(EXTRA: If anyone could make a contribution to my PayPal account (or otherwise - contact me for further info), it will be really, really, really appreciated as I'm in quite a pickle financially right now. I sincerely appreciate everything that my kind readers have done for me in the past financially and otherwise. Especially, otherwise, as the support group for this blog is beyond belief. My belief anyway. Again, my heartfelt thanks. . . and now . . . back to your regular viewing.) "Check's in the mail!"

From the D.C. boys to the Wall Street boys (this time).

George Washington over at his personal blog coins the verbiage precisely. Why didn't I think of that first as it's what I've been fearing for over a year? Oh right. I still had some hope of something good coming from this huge catastrophe from our benefactors - you know, the ones we've been voting for - blindly - because we couldn't see through the BS coming from our side (emphasis marks added - Ed.).

Friday, June 25, 2010

Congress Pimps Out the American People

We've known for over a year that real financial reform wouldn't happen. We knew that the proposed bill wouldn't do much. We knew Congress was just pimping out the American people, and partying at our expense.

But it is still disgusting to see Congressman Barney Frank, Senator Chris Dodd and the rest selling out the American dream. Shahien Nasiripour writes:

After nearly 20 hours over two final days filled with backroom dealing, House and Senate negotiators struck a grand compromise to merge the two chambers’ competing bills to reform the nation’s financial system in a party-line vote. But the long hours of closed-door meetings also appear to have fulfilled Wall Street’s greatest wish: Many of the measures that offered the greatest chances to fundamentally reshape how the Street conducts business have been struck out, weakened, or rendered irrelevant. Bloomberg notes:

Legislation to overhaul financial regulation [won't] fundamentally reshape Wall Street’s biggest banks or prevent another crisis, analysts said. The bottom line is that nothing has really changed ... the government is continuing to strengthen the parasite and poison the real economy.

Congress is still continuing to pimp out the American people to Johns who have insatiable lusts.

Dean Baker goes one further as he has the last of the good times making fun of the arrogance of "reporters" like Tom Friedbrain. Where is the David F. Brooks call out when you need it? Wait - don't miss Driftglass! Particularly the current Driftglass who speaks for us all who've been unemployed due to no fault of our own - with no improvement in lot foreseen - ever. (Emphasis marks added - Ed.)

New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman is well known for pretentious columns that consist of letters that he suggests some prominent person write. I licensed Friedman's literary tool in order to present the following letter from the Wall Street CEOs to the political leadership in Washington.

Dear Friends:

We want you know how much we value the support of the leadership of both political parties in your efforts to ensure that we did not suffer from the crisis that we ourselves created. As you recall, back in the fall of 2008, our banks were flat on their backs. If you had not rushed to our rescue with trillions of dollars in loans and guarantees from the Fed and the Treasury at a time where no sane investor would talk to us, most of us would be among the unemployed today. Instead, our banks are hugely profitable and we're happy to say that bonuses are again hitting record highs.

While this is the sort of support that we expect in exchange for our generous campaign contributions, we are especially impressed how you have managed to so effectively blunt any backlash from the public. After all, with the unemployment rate still near double-digit levels, millions of people facing the loss of their homes and tens of millions seeing their savings wiped out, there is naturally considerable anger. However, you have managed to deftly deal with this problem by diverting their attention elsewhere.

Instead of people being angry at us for the billions that we are pocketing while the economy is still in the tank, you have managed to make scapegoats out of the unemployed. At a time when there are five unemployed workers for every job opening, you have been able to whip up public resentment over unemployment benefits that average $300 a week (a few minutes' pay for us). This is truly skillful politics.

We were also impressed to see that you are taking steps to have the government punish people who default on their mortgage loans to us. Just because we are enormously rich and have huge banks doesn't mean that we know what we are doing when we issue a mortgage. We didn't think about things like the housing bubble when we issued a lot of those mortgages back in the boom. As a result, we lost a lot of money. We stand to lose even more if people keep defaulting - even when they are able to pay back our loans (sometimes referred to as a "strategic default").

Therefore, we appreciate your actions to have the government punish borrowers who default. By telling defaulters that they will not be able to have future mortgages insured by the Department of Housing and Urban Development or purchased by Fannie Mae, you are helping us squeeze more money out of these homeowners. This must be especially difficult since we know how much pressure there is on many of you to actually be helping the homeowners. But you folks have had the courage to stand with us even as foreclosures are continuing at a near record pace. We appreciate this.

And now, you have decided to put cuts to Social Security at the center of your agenda. This really takes courage. Here is a program that people have paid for with their taxes.

This tax will be sufficient to fully fund benefits for the next 33 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office, and even after that date it could indefinitely pay more than 70 percent of scheduled benefits, assuming no changes are ever made to the program. This means that current and near retirees have already paid for their Social Security benefits.

But you're going to cut Social Security benefits anyhow. And this is even after the collapse of the housing bubble and the resulting downturn wiped out most of the housing equity of the baby boomers and much of the value of their 401(k)s.

Frankly, under the circumstances, we wouldn't have been surprised if you were talking about increasing Social Security benefits. But, we're absolutely delighted to see you moving forward with plans for cuts. This will mean that we won't have to be taxed to repay the bonds held by the trust fund.

And, of course, there is the financial reform bill. You killed any plans to break up too big to fail banks (leaving us with huge government subsidies) and kept any talk of a financial speculations tax from being taken seriously. Keep up the great work; we'll remember you at campaign contribution time.

Best wishes,

The Wall Street CEOs

Paul Krugman has no problem (finally) calling it O V E R. (Emphasis marks added - Ed.)

The Third Depression

Recessions are common; depressions are rare. As far as I can tell, there were only two eras in economic history that were widely described as “depressions” at the time: the years of deflation and instability that followed the Panic of 1873 and the years of mass unemployment that followed the financial crisis of 1929-31.

Neither the Long Depression of the 19th century nor the Great Depression of the 20th was an era of nonstop decline — on the contrary, both included periods when the economy grew. But these episodes of improvement were never enough to undo the damage from the initial slump, and were followed by relapses.

We are now, I fear, in the early stages of a third depression. It will probably look more like the Long Depression than the much more severe Great Depression. But the cost — to the world economy and, above all, to the millions of lives blighted by the absence of jobs — will nonetheless be immense.

And this third depression will be primarily a failure of policy. Around the world — most recently at last weekend’s deeply discouraging G-20 meetinggovernments are obsessing about inflation when the real threat is deflation, preaching the need for belt-tightening when the real problem is inadequate spending.

In 2008 and 2009, it seemed as if we might have learned from history. Unlike their predecessors, who raised interest rates in the face of financial crisis, the current leaders of the Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank slashed rates and moved to support credit markets. Unlike governments of the past, which tried to balance budgets in the face of a plunging economy, today’s governments allowed deficits to rise. And better policies helped the world avoid complete collapse: the recession brought on by the financial crisis arguably ended last summer.

But future historians will tell us that this wasn’t the end of the third depression, just as the business upturn that began in 1933 wasn’t the end of the Great Depression. After all, unemployment — especially long-term unemploymentremains at levels that would have been considered catastrophic not long ago, and shows no sign of coming down rapidly. And both the United States and Europe are well on their way toward Japan-style deflationary traps.

In the face of this grim picture, you might have expected policy makers to realize that they haven’t yet done enough to promote recovery. But no: over the last few months there has been a stunning resurgence of hard-money and balanced-budget orthodoxy.

As far as rhetoric is concerned, the revival of the old-time religion is most evident in Europe, where officials seem to be getting their talking points from the collected speeches of Herbert Hoover, up to and including the claim that raising taxes and cutting spending will actually expand the economy, by improving business confidence. As a practical matter, however, America isn’t doing much better. The Fed seems aware of the deflationary risks — but what it proposes to do about these risks is, well, nothing. The Obama administration understands the dangers of premature fiscal austeritybut because Republicans and conservative Democrats in Congress won’t authorize additional aid to state governments, that austerity is coming anyway, in the form of budget cuts at the state and local levels.

Why the wrong turn in policy? The hard-liners often invoke the troubles facing Greece and other nations around the edges of Europe to justify their actions. And it’s true that bond investors have turned on governments with intractable deficits. But there is no evidence that short-run fiscal austerity in the face of a depressed economy reassures investors. On the contrary: Greece has agreed to harsh austerity, only to find its risk spreads growing ever wider; Ireland has imposed savage cuts in public spending, only to be treated by the markets as a worse risk than Spain, which has been far more reluctant to take the hard-liners’ medicine.

It’s almost as if the financial markets understand what policy makers seemingly don’t: that while long-term fiscal responsibility is important, slashing spending in the midst of a depression, which deepens that depression and paves the way for deflation, is actually self-defeating.

So I don’t think this is really about Greece, or indeed about any realistic appreciation of the tradeoffs between deficits and jobs. It is, instead, the victory of an orthodoxy that has little to do with rational analysis, whose main tenet is that imposing suffering on other people is how you show leadership in tough times.

And who will pay the price for this triumph of orthodoxy? The answer is, tens of millions of unemployed workers, many of whom will go jobless for years, and some of whom will never work again.

Who can doubt it now? Prices will not come down.

This time.

And the pain will not be borne in good faith anymore.

Mark my words.

Senator Robert Byrd died today and he was one of the brave few who knew exactly what was going to happen back in 2002 and spoke out against the push by the military-orchestrated "leaders" to go to war instead of choosing a diplomatic, measured-response solution to the mystery of 9/11. Rest in peace, Senator. You tried to warn us. And we are paying that horrendous price you saw coming so clearly.

The outcome was already apparent when the Senate began its official debate over the authorization of the Iraq war in October 2002. But Robert Byrd, then 85, still took to the floor and delivered one of the most significant speeches of his career, an impassioned plea to President Bush to reconsider his zeal for war. Months later, on the eve of the March 20 invasion, Byrd spoke up again, with a last-minute warning that proved tragically prescient.

You can listen to the complete 2002 speech and watch highlights from the 2003 speech . . . . Ironically, 14 years before this riveting speech, Byrd's fellow Democrats nudged him out as their Senate leader, in part because they felt he wasn't an effective communicator in the television age.

As if.

Suzan _____________

Is Petraeus McChrystal’s Replacement or Obama’s At This FUBAR Moment? Wikileaks Readies Another One & Israel Going Down Tubes Without Iran War?

(EXTRA: If anyone could make a contribution to my PayPal account (or otherwise - contact me for further info), it will be really, really, really appreciated as I'm in quite a pickle financially right now. I sincerely appreciate everything that my kind readers have done for me in the past financially and otherwise. Especially, otherwise, as the support group for this blog is beyond belief. Again, my heartfelt thanks. . . and now . . . back to your regular viewing.)

William Pitt speaks for me as well as for almost everyone I know. This doesn't make us glad to read this almost heartbreaking essay of lost hope that he has written for our edification and ultimate enlightenment. It's good to say this out loud every now and then, though isn't it? It's like being on one of the trains bound for the camps, but still able to say publicly that you hope it's going to change direction without being beaten up too much by the guards before it gets there. And having that foolish smile on your face (and in your heart) that all can still be made well somehow. (Emphasis marks added - Ed.)

I was not lured into believing the 2008 presidential election was going to mark the beginning of a sea change in American politics. I approach politics and politicians with one simple rule in mind: if I have heard of a politician, count on that politician being deeply and perhaps irredeemably compromised. In order to achieve the kind of notoriety and financing required to be successful in politics, politicians have to sign their names on a number of dotted lines that are not in any way in the best interests of the people. There are exceptions to this, of course - Sen. Paul Wellstone was one, and Rep. Dennis Kucinich is another - but for the most part, a politician who has reached the lofty heights of genuine power and influence does so by donating themselves to the crooked interests that donated to them on the way up.

President Obama is no different. He took money from BP, which is killing the Gulf as we speak. He took money from the big banks and investment houses that raped our future even as they laughed their way into massive and undeserved bonuses. He is a creature of the "defense" industry, just like every president before him going back to Truman. He is an American politician who reached the highest possible position, and I knew going in that he would be, in the main, another compromised disappointment. Better, but not by much.

I thought I was prepared for this, but a year and a half into this brave new world, I feel...I don't know exactly what. I am glad Obama is the president, I am glad McCain is not, I am glad the derangement of Republican rule has been upended, I am pleased with a number of policy initiatives that have been undertaken, and yet there are these empty spaces in my mind and heart that actually, literally, ache. A few things are better, a lot of things are worse, and most things remain exactly the same. I knew it would be like this, but still, the emptiness is there.

My role is to chronicle these times. During all the years I have done so, I have been clinging to a belief that has managed to sustain me even on the darkest of days, a belief that has always filled some of that emptiness. It is a belief I fear our president has allowed himself to forget amid the cacophony of corporate power, military mayhem and runaway greed which binds him to a familiar course that, if left unchecked, will come to be the end of us all.

This belief is simple: America is an idea. We have borders, roads, cities, farms, armies, but that is not America. The idea that is America was forged in the crucible of Europe, when kings could mandate a state religion and incarcerate or kill whoever disagreed, when rights only existed if the powerful deemed them so. The idea that is America was forged upon the premise that these things were wrong on their face, that people are endowed with rights that cannot be taken away by fiat. At no time in history had any nation premised its existence on the bedrock truth that all of us are created equal until the Founders did so in Philadelphia, and in doing so, they created a self-improving process of national growth and redemption that functions through the will of the people alone.

We are an idea, and all of us are bound to it through the ink that explains us on old pieces of parchment. We are an idea, and in that idea, we can locate our nobility, our strength, and the better angels of our nature. Too many of us, including our president and congressional representatives, have forgotten this.

Perhaps, if we remind them in strong enough terms, if we make We The People a true force for right instead of a catch-phrase, things would get better. Until then, the idea that is America will continue to wither, and the empty spaces within will endure.

I've had the idea since the beginning of the McChrystal Firing Charade that something else was probably operating in the background. After all, these guys largely agreed on outcomes. It was just the specfic paths they had some trouble navigating competently as a duo. (I want to apologize for the length of this post, but it includes many links to relevant essays on these topics, and since I've been interrupted more than several times in the days I spent compiling them, it does run very long.) My guess is that Paul Craig Roberts is closer to the truth than any of us want to acknowledge. Brrrrrr. As the guy said, is this the beginning of the end or the end of the beginning?

Is Petraeus McChrystal’s Replacement or Obama's?

By Paul Craig Roberts

June 24, 2010 Our petulant president’s ego can’t handle a general letting off steam. Neither can any of the spoiled children who comprise “our” government in DC, the capital of the “superpower.” Generals have to fight wars that civilians start, either from the incompetence of their diplomacy or the arrogance of their hubris. Generals have to get young troops killed because of the stupidity or ambition or corruption of civilian government officials. All McChrystal did was to let off steam. A real president would have realized that and let it go. Don’t get me wrong. McChrystal is a militarist, and I am pleased to see him gone. However, McChrystal didn’t restart America’s aggression against Afghanistan. The Obama moron did. People elected Obama, because they were tired of Bush’s wars based on lies. So Obama gave us a new war in Pakistan and reignited the Afghan war. No one knows what these wars are about or why the bankrupt US government is wasting vast sums of money, which it has to borrow from foreigners, in order to murder the citizenry in two countries that have never done anything to us. Just as Bush/Cheney and their criminal neocon government deceived the world that Saddam Hussein had “weapons of mass destruction” that threatened white people everywhere, Obama has conflated the Taliban with al Qaeda. Obama has sold the tale to white countries that unless the US determines how Afghanistan is ruled and by whom, white people are in danger of being exterminated by al Qaeda Taliban terrorists. The most telling aspect of the McChrystal-Obama contretemps is that it has caused no one in the US government, or media, to ask why the US is still killing women and children in Afghanistan after 9 years. The US government is prepared for everyone except itself to be tried at the War Crimes Tribunal. Fred Branfman writing in AlterNet on June 22 reminds us that five million Iraqis were killed, maimed, tortured and displaced by an American invasion based on lies told by the highest officials in the American government. Yet, no one has been held accountable. But Gen. McChrystal is held accountable for letting off steam. Once the Roman senate, the legislative branch, collapsed, the caesars, the executive branch, became the captives of the military. Now with Gen. Petraeus once again moved to the fore as McChrystal’s replacement in Afghanistan, we have the Obama moron elevating Petraeus to the Republican presidential nomination in the next election. Thus has Obama replaced himself with a man who will unify the military and executive branch. Associated Press writers Jennifer Loven and Anne Gearan write (June 23) about the “admired and tightly disciplined Gen. David Petraeus,” the “architect of the Iraq war turnaround,” who is “once again to take hands-on leadership of a troubled war effort.”Petraeus is an evolved form of general. He “won” in Iraq by paying protection money to the Sunnis who were effectively resisting the US occupation. Petraeus figured out that it was far cheaper and more efficient to put the Sunnis on the US military payroll and to pay them to stop fighting, which is how the war between the Sunnis and the Americans ended. To keep the Americans out of the ongoing large scale sectarian violence that continues to slaughter Iraqis, the US military was confined to remote bases. If history is a guide, the Afghans will also accept Petraeus’ protection money, and Petraeus has just enough time to buy the Afghan war before the next presidential election. The Afghans will, of course, take the money and wait us out, just as the Iraqis are doing. All of this drama is playing out despite the continuing lack of any valid reason for the American invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. The Washington idiots, trying to dictate how Iraq and Afghanistan are governed, are destroying constitutional government in the United States. In our hubris to determine how Iraq and Afghanistan are ruled, we are losing our own government.

And, of course, there's "mass spying" going on for those of us who might take offense at this further government subversion of the public will.

WikiLeaks Founder Drops 'Mass Spying' Hint

By Andrew Fowler June 24, 2010 "ABC" - WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange has given his strongest indication yet about the next big leak from his whistleblower organisation.There has been rampant speculation about WikiLeaks' next revelation following its recent release of a top secret military video showing an attack in Baghdad which killed more than a dozen people, including two employees of the Reuters news agency. Bradley Manning, a US military intelligence officer based in Iraq, has been arrested on suspicion of leaking the video but it is also claimed that Manning bragged online that he had handed WikiLeaks 260,000 secret US State Department cables. In an interview with the ABC's Foreign Correspondent, Mr Assange said cryptically of WikiLeaks' current project: "I can give an analogy. If there had been mass spying that had affected many, many people and organisations and the details of that mass spying were released then that is something that would reveal that the interests of many people had been abused." He agreed it would be of the "calibre" of publishing information about the way the top secret Echelon system - the US-UK electronic spying network which eavesdrops on worldwide communications traffic - had been used. Mr Assange also confirmed that WikiLeaks has a copy of a video showing a US military bombing of a western Afghan township which killed dozens of people, including children. He noted, though, it was a very intricate case "substantially more complex" than the Iraq material WikiLeaks had released - referring to the gunship video.

European news media are reporting that Mr Assange has "surfaced from almost a month in hiding", speaking at a freedom of information seminar at the European parliament in Brussels. But during the course of the past month, Mr Assange has been talking to Foreign Correspondent for a program examining the efficacy of the WikiLeaks model."What we want to create is a system where there is guaranteed free press across the world, the entire world, that every individual in the world has the ability to publish materials that is meaningful," he said. Whistleblower speaks The program has also spoken directly to former computer hacker Adrian Lamo who blew the whistle on Bradley Manning after a boastful online discussion in which Lamo alleges the military intelligence adviser revealed himself as a significant WikiLeaks source."He proceeded to identify himself as an intelligence analyst and pose the question: What would you do if you have unprecedented access to classified data 14 hours a day seven days a week?" Mr Lamo said. "He (Manning) was firing bullets into the air without thought to consequence of where they might land or who they might hit. "WikiLeaks has built an information repository it thinks is foolproof. Instead of secret documents physically changing hands, they are anonymously sent to digital drop boxes and stored on servers around the world. Finally, they are posted on the WikiLeaks site.

During Foreign Correspondent's assignment Mr Assange had been preparing to fly to New York to meet his hero - Daniel Ellsberg - the former US military analyst who leaked the Pentagon Papers which amounted to a devastating expose of the Vietnam War. Instead, concerned about travelling in the US and attracting the interest of authorities, he used Skype to speak to the conference. He told the crowd: "Leaking is inherently an anti-authoritarian act. It's inherently an anarchist act."Mr Assange has been quoted as saying he feels perfectly safe in Europe, "but I have been advised by my lawyers not to travel to the US during this period". Daniel Ellsberg, named by Henry Kissinger as "the most dangerous man in America", told Foreign Correspondent that Mr Assange was "a good candidate for being the most dangerous man in the world, in the eyes of people like the one who gave me that award". "I'm sure that Assange is now regarded as one of the very most dangerous men and he should be quite proud of that."

Butler Shaffer helps us make everything that has occurred lately "McChrystal Clear." And everyone should understand by now that the much talked of "kill switch" for the internet has existed since the first Executive Security Order. It won't take any new legislation.

Making It McChrystal Clear

June 24, 2010

The war system’s response to Gen. McChrystal’s Rolling Stone interview is instructive. It is a reminder that every Memorial Day should begin by honoring the first victim of every war: truth. But as all wars are grounded in lies – the bloodier the war the more enormous the falsity of its foundation – truth becomes not only a casualty, but the enemy itself.

Whether McChrystal’s assessment was correct is not the point: it is the threat to the war racket of having insiders purporting to address the reality of war that so disturbs the state. Men of the general’s stature are expected to have greater access to evidence supporting their opinions, thus enhancing their credibility. The public acceptance of war is the default position that perpetuates its insanity. "Truth" is the input that "does not compute" within the logic of the war system, and the state undertakes every precaution – such as censorship, labeling documents and other discomforting facts as "top secret" – to silence any doubts that might be raised as to the validity of the propagandized campaign on behalf of death and destruction.

The annual ritual of gathering at the "Tomb of the Unknown Soldier" – is there even a body within it? – is a convenient way of reinvesting popular commitments to hazy purposes. The uncertainties and contradictions that attend the "fog of war" are more easily overlookedor ignoredwhen the fallen soldiers, themselves, can be enshrouded in the cloak of being "unknown." If the soldiers who die are unfamiliar to us – fungible nonbeings who, like ourselves, have been conditioned to serve the statehow can the rest of us be expected to cut our ways through the cloudiness?

As long as we are prepared to insist upon the protection of our ignorance; to wave our flags when the cheerleaders so direct us; and to regard war as but the expression of some imagined sense of "human nature," this evil, institutionally-profitable racket will continue unabated. The entire mess can then be synthesized into such an incoherent hodgepodge of confusing complexity that no one can be expected to make any sense of it. As in trying to unravel the causation of recessions, depressions, and other dislocations – an effort that requires a basic understanding of economic principles that most of us have learned to dismiss as the "dismal science," whose intricacies and subtleties are best left to institutional wizards and czars – Boobus can take comfort in his ignorance of the critical events in his life.

Gen. McChrystal has discovered what so many others before him learned – from Socrates to Thomas More to Gen. Smedley Butler to Sophie Scholl to Daniel Ellsberg to Seymour Hersh to untold governmental "whistleblowers" – even, more recently to Helen Thomas – that it is dangerous to speak truth not to power, but to ordinary people. The owners of the political establishment know the truth; they are fully aware of the lies they have fabricated; the deceptions they – along with their obliging media and academic supporters – have carefully manipulated into a perception of "truth."

The owners don’t want you to know what they know. Those who would dare to so inform you get labeled as "paranoid conspiracy theorists," "disgruntled former employees," "racists," or "anti-Semitic." When I am asked if I believe in "conspiracy theories" of history, I respond – in the words of the late Chris Tame – "I am not interested in conspiracy theories, but in the facts of conspiracies."

There is one voice the establishment owners have been reluctant to silence, even years after his death. Former President Eisenhower – who personified the "hero" of World War II to such a degree that both the Republican and Democratic parties wanted to nominate him – declared, in his farewell address that "we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex." Perhaps it was his hands-on familiarity with warunlike so many war-loving lounge-generals who never heard a shot fired in anger – that left within him such a distaste for the system. But you and I are not to think such thoughts, nor to listen to those who do. We are to believe the great lie that our family members and friends died to protect us, rather than to profit the corporate-state interests who create and manage the institutionalized carnage.

The institutionalized order cannot tolerate any deviation from the mindset it has worked so hard to maintain. At least since the time of Gutenberg, it has been at war with any expressions that undermine the status quo. Because life is a constant process of response to changing environments, practices that inhibit such resiliency can only diminish life. This is why there is nothing so liberating as the free flow of information which, coupled with respect for the inviolability of property, allows people to engage in self-interested adaptations to their world.

As the political establishment continues to collapse, its war against the transformative nature of information becomes intensified. Efforts are currently being made by some politicians and governmental agencies to control the Internet; to give to the president a "kill switch" that would allow him to shut down, on his dictatorial whim, this decentralized and unrestrained engine of communication whenever he considers it necessary for the interests of national security. That Sen. Lieberman – the sponsor of such a bill – justifies the measure on the grounds that the Chinese government has such power, is indicative of just how strongly the established order feels threatened by free minds!

It is not that the existing power structure is concerned that "false" ideas, or "untrue" statements might be loosed upon society – it has long thrived on such practices – but that speakers and writers might step outside the permitted circle of opinion certified as "safe" by and for the guardians of our minds. It was not that Helen Thomas’s comments were objectionable – I, for one, criticized them on the grounds of the collectivist premise underlying them – but that she crossed the line about what free men and women are allowed to think about and discuss. In this, as in all other matters, I remain an anarchist: people should be free to control their own lives and property – including the content of their minds – as they find useful to their own ends.

Perhaps former President Eisenhower can once again be called upon to advise the Liebermans, the Hillary Clintons, the Sen. Jay Rockefellers, and others who have predilections for tyrannizing the minds of their neighbors: "Don’t join the book burners. Do not think you are going to conceal thoughts by concealing evidence that they ever existed."

Butler Shaffer [send him e-mail] teaches at the Southwestern University School of Law. He is the author of the newly-released In Restraint of Trade: The Business Campaign Against Competition, 1918–1938 and of Calculated Chaos: Institutional Threats to Peace and Human Survival. His latest book is Boundaries of Order.

Tom Hayden has been a little bit too silent until now on these most pressing issues - 'xplain it to us, Tom! We're waiting . . . .
Petraeus And The Politics Of Afghanistan By Tom Hayden

June 24, 2010

President Obama may have saved his reputation as commander-in-chief by firing Stanley McChrystal today, but he deepened his Afghan quagmire by choosing David Petraeus as the replacement.

There may be immediate pressure on Congress to pass the Afghanistan war supplemental under the pretext of showing national resolve. The measure by Rep. Jim McGovern, which requires an exit strategy including a withdrawal timeline, awaits House action after the Senate killed an identical bill by Sen. Russ Feingold two weeks ago. The Feingold measure was supported by 18 senators, an initial gauge of anti-war sentiment. Support for the McGovern bill hovers around 100 House members.

Perhaps the most important thing we know about Petraeus is not that he was the author of the Iraq surge, but that he is a political general, who openly pays attention to two "clocks" - that of events on the ground and that of domestic public opinion as well. The Iraq surge strategy was meant to speed up the Iraq clock [throwing more troops into battle] while slowing the American clock [convincing elites and voters alike that the war was ending, more gradually than peace advocates wanted, but with a timetable that was opposed by the Bush-Cheney administration and neo-con believers in the Long War].

In the case of Afghanistan, Petraeus will want to speed up the Afghan clock by the summer-fall military escalation in southern Afghanistan, and, according to recent testimony, slow down the American clock - now ticking toward a July 2011 deadline to "begin" US troop withdrawals.

On a parallel diplomatic track, Petraeus will support very gradual steps toward talks with the insurgents.

There could be friction with the White House if Petraeus and his allies insist on a "conditions-based" troop withdrawal plan. Over the weekend, Rahm Emmanual emphasized in interviews that the July 2011 deadline for initial withdrawals was a firm one.

By that time most, if not all, of America's NATO allies will be withdrawing their troops and heading for an exit strategy. The multilateral cover will be gone.

Obama may well want to run for re-election in 2012 on a platform of having ended the Iraq War and begun the end of the Afghanistan one. The greatest leverage that the broad peace movement may have is the power of mass disaffection. Obama won the 2008 Democratic primaries on his promise to end the Iraq war, which Hillary Clinton had voted to authorize. In fact, Obama virtually began his campaign with an anti-war speech at a rally organized by the local anti-war coalition in Chicago.But in trying to win in Afghanistan, Obama definitely risks losing most of the peace movement and the larger bloc of peace voters. This loss of support may not be orchestrated, but be measured in disillusionment, apathy, lack of energy, volunteers and grass-roots participation in states where the election will be close.

Republicans have a political strategy of branding Afghanistan as Obama's war and blaming him for not winning. I talked with a member of Congress this week [who declined to be named] who predicted that Republicans will force the Congressional Democratic majority to vote for Afghanistan funding in the coming days, thus co-owning Obama's war, then "hammer [Obama] with it" and try to "use it as the last nail in the coffin."

That brave woman patriot, Cindy Sheehan, puts the nail in the coffin of this Afghanistan FUBAR moment. And I certainly don't think either that McChrystal f*cked up inadvertently. (Emphasis marks added - Ed.)

Offically FUBAR
By Cindy Sheehan

"If Americans pulled back and started paying attention to this war, it would become even less popular," a senior adviser to head of NATO ops in Afghanistan.

General Stanley McChrystal (via Rolling Stone)

June 24, 2010 - FUBAR: Military slang for: Fu#ked Up Beyond All/Any Repair/Recognition. FUBAR also has a close military acronym: SNAFU: Situation Normal All Fu#ked Up.

FUBAR and SNAFU can be traced back to WWII — you know that war. That’s the war (the last constitutionally declared by Congress) that, along with the US Civil War, is the war that is held up as the shining example of the goodness, nay GREATNESS of the United States of America. The war where we freed the entire planet of fascism, Nazism, imperialism and made the world safe for FREEDOM (and freedom’s Siamese Twin: DEMOCRACY)!

So, if the people who were actually in the trenches were recognizing the war, even the GREAT ONE was FUBAR — then we have only gone rapidly downhill from there. Even Marine Major General Smedley Butler (War is a Racket) pointed out that the “War to end all Wars” (WWI) just led to WWII and after he passed away in 1940: Korea, Vietnam, the Balkans, the First Gulf War and now our stains in the Middle East. As a matter of fact, since WWII, we have NEVER been at peace. The SNAFU over the Rolling Stone article where Stanley is openly and disrespectfully critical of Obama, Biden, Ambassador Eikenberry and others is indicative of a few things to me:

First of all, there is a little known aspect of this developing story: McChrystal was given final approval over the version of the story that appeared in the Rolling Stone — a person that achieves the elevated status in the elite world of McChrystal’s rarely rises to the top without knowing the rules and without knowing how to play the game. And trust me, this is a “game.” Does anyone believe that this story was a surprise to anyone in the Obama regime, or to McChrystal? No, obviously it wasn’t — so why now?

Secondly — with a cataclysm off of our very shores that is further proof that our Military-Corporate Complex is not equipped to handle catastrophes — this SNAFU proves that the Military-Corporate Complex is not even equipped to handle wars.

The Empire is crumbling, and it’s crumbling even faster than I would imagine than I predicted — so I have to celebrate the news that just demonstrates how FUBAR things are in Afghanistan. Of course, the stats of civilian deaths (yeah, right - we are protecting civilians) and NATO and US troop deaths are there. There can be no disputing facts. No matter how much one wants to think that Obama is “better than Bush” or is “better than McCain” really has to look no farther than these hard-core facts.

All of this posturing and speechifying is nothing but a distraction from the fact that our economy is FUBAR, the Gulf of Mexico is FUBAR, the wars are FUBAR and Wikileaks is set to come out soon with another video of a bombing incident that killed over 100 civilians in Afghanistan and was covered up. When Obama appointed McChrystal to this job, he knew that he had already covered up the murder of Spc. Pat Tillman.

Also, on the heels of the Marjah Offensive (“bleeding ulcer” according to McChrystal), the Kandahar offensive is approaching and with June already being a deadly month, things will only get worse.

Thirdly, of course McChrystal is offering himself up as the sacrificial lamb of the FUBAR Empire. Already, I am getting Democrats emailing me and telling me that it is “wonderful” that McChrystal is resigning because he “made Obama send more troops to Afghanistan.”

Again — are you serious? Obama made gave top billing to the fact that he was going to send more troops to Afghanistan, as a campaign promise. When the “leak” came out that McChrystal wanted more troops near the end of 2009, all that did was give Obama the political space to do what he promised to do all along. “See, I didn’t really want to send more troops to a mission that was FUBAR from the beginning, but my top-ranking General in the field made me!”

“As the Iraq war winds down, Obama said, he wants to see troops redirected to Afghanistan. He said the fight against the Taliban and Al Qaeda was a war ‘we have to win’ and repeated his call for two more combat brigades in Afghanistan to counteract "deteriorating" conditions.” (LA Times July 16, 2008).

The problem is — and has been for decadesthe Military-Corporate Complex. However, if we want valid change, we also have to look deeper.

Five months shy of two years ago, many of you went to the polls and voted for Obama because you were from mildly disappointed to wildly angry at the Bush administration. I get that emotion — I do. But even I realized that Bush was not THE problem, but only A problem.

The real problem is the system that keeps killing our children and the children of other nations and cultures. It has been doing it from the beginning of our time and it will be doing it until our end if we don’t recognize that an Empire exists to feed on others to enrich, empower and give itself health. We cannot be a healthy society when we live in an Empire — no matter who sits on the throne.

The wars are FUBAR — the Empire is FUBAR. Even in the beginning it was a system for the elite. Now, we are not only the downtrodden, but the trodden on. Trampled on, but not defeated yet.

Peace of the Action is calling you to come to Washington DC to confront the bleeding ulcers in the Gulf and in the Middle East and Asia. We also have to confront and come to terms with the fact that we are an Empire and it will be good in the long-term if it crumbles — and we are already feeling the gross-effects of the collapse in our homes and communities — conditions in the economy and ecology will undoubtedly get far worse before they get better, but if we deal with these issues as a caring community — not as a class at war with itself — we can, and shall overcome.

Peace of the Action is also calling on all troops of good conscience to refuse to participate in these international war crimes against humanity — please don’t allow yourself to be used as a token in this elitist game of destruction and death for profit! It’s far better to pay consequences for being a conscientious objector, than to be dead at a very young age — or to kill innocent people.

If you can’t make it to DC — please donate to keep us going!

Breaking news: As I was writing this, Obama announced that he accepted McChrystal’s resignation and that General David Petraeus would be taking over. Swell — another insider of the Military-Corporate Complex. Of course, in Obama’s speech, he never even hinted that the mission was FUBAR — or that it will be re-evaluated — the Empire rolls on, just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. There is nothing “salvageable” about this disaster.

Go Cindy! And on another front . . . (yes, Lisa, stop reading now - take a break . . . then come back and read some more later if you have the time). . . (emphasis marks added - Ed.):

Things Have Never Been Worse for Israel

Ignoring the Tsunami

The superpower under whose patronage we shelter is becoming increasingly weak and increasingly distant, and the Middle East is becoming unstable.

By Ari Shavit

June 24, 2010 "Haaretz"

Things have never been better: The number of millionaires in the country soared by 43 percent between 2008 and 2009, with 2,519 new ones joining the 5,900 we already had, for a total of 8,419 Israeli millionaires.

Their total net assets rose by about 41 percent, from $30.1 billion at the end of 2008 to $42.4 billion at the end of 2009. No wonder it's impossible to find a luxury apartment to buy or to reserve a table at a top restaurant in Tel Aviv, or that tickets for "Nabucco" were so hard to get. Never was so much owned by so few Israelis.

Never has life been so good here for so wealthy an elite, as the country is poised at the brink of the abyss. Things have never been worse. The superpower under whose patronage we shelter is becoming increasingly weak and increasingly distant. As a result of these two mutually amplifying processes the Middle East is becoming unstable.

There is no one to stop Iran's rise or Turkey's growing extremism, or to provide security for the moderates in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Palestine. The states to the east fear the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, while those to the north are building up their forces in anticipation of a nuclear Iran. And a firestorm of hatred for Israel raging throughout the world.

Israel's legitimacy as well as its deterrence are eroding. It's no wonder that the national security adviser is nostalgic for the first term of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, or that the army chief of staff pines for the days when Ehud Barak was chief of staff. The geostrategic situation is grave. And we are partying on the beach while ignoring the tsunami already visible on the horizon.

Read on if you have the stomach to hear their bad news. (And ours.)

And then, of course, there are the real facts to consider. (Emphasis marks added - Ed.)

War Makes Us Poor
Far from rescuing the economy from recession or depression, needless conflicts drain capital from productive uses.

By David R. Henderson

June 24, 2010 "The American Conservative"

Many people who aren’t comfortable with the U.S. invading other countries reassure themselves with the belief that at least war creates jobs for Americans. But is military conflict really good for the economy of the country that engages in it? Basic economics answers a resounding “no.”

In a 1953 speech, President Dwight Eisenhower noted, “The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some 50 miles of concrete highway. We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people.”

His point, quite simply: money not spent on the military could be spent elsewhere.

This also applies to human resources. The more than 200,000 U.S. military personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan could be doing something valuable at home.

Why is this hard to understand? The first reason is a point 19th-century French economic journalist Frederic Bastiat made in his essay, “What Is Seen and What Is Not Seen.” Everyone can see that soldiers are employed. But we cannot see the jobs and the other creative pursuits they could be engaged in were they not in the military.

The second reason is that when economic times are tough and unemployment is high, it’s easy to assume that other jobs could not exist. But they can. This gets to an argument Bastiat made in discussing demobilization of French soldiers after Napoleon’s downfall. He pointed out that when government cuts the size of the military, it frees up not only manpower but also money. The money that would have gone to pay soldiers can instead be used to hire them as civilian workers. That can happen in three ways, either individually or in combination: (1) a tax cut; (2) a reduction in the deficit; or (3) an increase in other government spending.

If taxes are cut, more money remains in the hands of taxpayers, who can use it to hire the people who were previously soldiers. If taxes aren’t cut but the deficit is, then the government doesn’t need to borrow as much. The money that the government would have borrowed is now available to hire these former soldiers. Finally, if neither taxation nor the deficit is cut, government has more money to hire these former soldiers in civilian pursuits.

Of course, those who get this money will not necessarily want to spend it on what these particular former soldiers produce. But a complex chain of substitutions will take place, and the former soldiers will gradually be reemployed.

Consider the U.S. experience after World War II. Between 1945, when the war ended, and 1947, when substantial demobilization occurred, the military fell from about 11.4 million people to around 1.6 million, a drop of 9.8 million people. But the number of unemployed people increased by only 1 million, about 10 percent of those demobilized. To be sure, many women who had entered the labor force during the war to replace men who were drafted decided to return to work in the home. But the number of females in the labor force fell by only 2.4 million.

And remember that before demobilization, the military employed a whopping 17 percent of the U.S. labor force. Today, it employs less than 1 percent, if we count active-duty military, and less than 2 percent if we count active-duty plus reserves. That smaller percentage makes laid-off troops that much easier to integrate into the civilian economy today.

Read on for the encouraging facts about ending the occupations.

And if you got this far, you won't be sorry as I'm finally giving light to some of the most interesting research done on what happened on 9/11 that didn't make it into the "official" reports. Yep. It's got some doozies in there. And, no, this is about the aftereffects that we've suffered from not knowing all the facts (although the part about the timing of 9/11 does give one pause about that "mysterious/lummoxed look" in Dumbya's eyes at the time, doesn't it?).

The public has widely assumed, due to misleading claims, 59 that the names of the alleged hijackers were on the flight manifests for the four flights, and also that the autopsy report from the Pentagon contained the names of the hijackers said to have been on American Flight 77. However, the passenger manifests for the four airliners did not contain the names of any of the alleged hijackers and, moreover, they contained no Arab names whatsoever.60 Also, as a psychiatrist who was able to obtain a copy of the Pentagon autopsy report through a FOIA request discovered, it contained none of the names of the hijackers for American Flight 77 and, in fact, no Arab names whatsoever.

. . . although every other steel-frame building that has collapsed did so because explosives (perhaps along with incendiaries) were used to destroy its support columns, NIST said, in effect: “We think fire brought down WTC 7.” To understand why NIST started with this hypothesis, it helps to know that it is an agency of the Commerce Department, which means that all the years it was working on its World Trade Center reports, it was an agency of the Bush-Cheney administration. Also, a scientist who had worked for NIST reported that by 2001 it had been “fully hijacked from the scientific into the political realm,” so that scientists working there had “lost [their] scientific independence, and became little more than ‘hired guns.’”

Did 9/11 Justify the War in Afghanistan?

Using the McChrystal Moment to Raise a Forbidden Question

by Prof. David Ray Griffin

Global Research

June 25, 2010

There are many questions to ask about the war in Afghanistan. One that has been widely asked is whether it will turn out to be “Obama’s Vietnam.” This question implies another: Is this war winnable, or is it destined to be a quagmire, like Vietnam? These questions are motivated in part by the widespread agreement that the Afghan government, under Hamid Karzai, is at least as corrupt and incompetent as the government the United States tried to prop up in South Vietnam for 20 years. Although there are many similarities between these two wars, there is also a big difference: This time, there is no draft. If there were a draft, so that college students and their friends back home were being sent to Afghanistan, there would be huge demonstrations against this war on campuses all across this country. If the sons and daughters of wealthy and middle-class parents were coming home in boxes, or with permanent injuries or post-traumatic stress syndrome, this war would have surely been stopped long ago. People have often asked: Did we learn any of the “lessons of Vietnam”? The US government learned one: If you’re going to fight unpopular wars, don’t have a draft – hire mercenaries! There are many other questions that have been, and should be, asked about this war, but in this essay, I focus on only one: Did the 9/11 attacks justify the war in Afghanistan? This question has thus far been considered off-limits, not to be raised in polite company, and certainly not in the mainstream media. It has been permissible, to be sure, to ask whether the war during the past several years has been justified by those attacks so many years ago. But one has not been allowed to ask whether the original invasion was justified by the 9/11 attacks. However, what can be designated the “McChrystal Moment” – the probably brief period during which the media are again focused on the war in Afghanistan in the wake of the Rolling Stone story about General Stanley McChrystal, the commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, which led to his resignation – provides the best opportunity for some time to raise fundamental questions about this war. Various commentators have already been asking some pretty basic questions: about the effectiveness and affordability of the present “counterinsurgency strategy” and even whether American fighting forces should remain in Afghanistan at all. But I am interested in an even more fundamental question: Whether this war was ever really justified by the publicly given reason: the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. This question has two parts: First, did these attacks provide a legal justification for the invasion of Afghanistan? Second, if not, did they at least provide a moral justification? I. Did 9/11 Provide Legal Justification for the War in Afghanistan? Since the founding of the United Nations in 1945, international law with regard to war has been defined by the UN Charter. Measured by this standard, the US-led war in Afghanistan has been illegal from the outset. Marjorie Cohn, a well-known professor of international law, wrote in November 2001:

“[T]he bombings of Afghanistan by the United States and the United Kingdom are illegal.” In 2008, Cohn repeated this argument in an article entitled “Afghanistan: The Other Illegal War.” The point of the title was that, although it was by then widely accepted that the war in Iraq was illegal, the war in Afghanistan, in spite of the fact that many Americans did not realize it, was equally illegal. Her argument was based on the following facts: First, according to international law as codified in the UN Charter, disputes are to be brought to the UN Security Council, which alone may authorize the use of force. Without this authorization, any military activity against another country is illegal. Second, there are two exceptions: One is that, if your nation has been subjected to an armed attack by another nation, you may respond militarily in self-defense. This condition was not fulfilled by the 9/11 attacks, however, because they were not carried out by another nation: Afghanistan did not attack the United States. Indeed, the 19 men charged with the crime were not Afghans. The other exception occurs when one nation has certain knowledge that an armed attack by another nation is imminent – too imminent to bring the matter to the Security Council. The need for self-defense must be, in the generally accepted phrase, "instant, overwhelming, leaving no choice of means, and no moment for deliberation.” Although the US government claimed that its military operations in Afghanistan were justified by the need to prevent a second attack, this need, even if real, was clearly not urgent, as shown by the fact that the Pentagon did not launch its invasion until almost a month later. US political leaders have claimed, to be sure, that the UN did authorize the US attack on Afghanistan. This claim, originally made by the Bush-Cheney administration, was repeated by President Obama in his West Point speech of December 1, 2009, in which he said: “The United Nations Security Council endorsed the use of all necessary steps to respond to the 9/11 attacks,” so US troops went to Afghanistan “[u]nder the banner of . . . international legitimacy.” However, the language of “all necessary steps” is from UN Security Council Resolution 1368, in which the Council, taking note of its own “responsibilities under the Charter," expressed its own readiness “to take all necessary steps to respond to the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001.” Of course, the UN Security Council might have determined that one of these necessary steps was to authorize an attack on Afghanistan by the United States. But it did not. Resolution 1373, the only other Security Council resolution about this issue, laid out various responses, but these included matters such as freezing assets, criminalizing the support of terrorists, exchanging police information 
about terrorists, and prosecuting terrorists. The use of military force was not mentioned. The US war in Afghanistan was not authorized by the UN Security Council in 2001 or at any time since, so this war began as an illegal war and remains an illegal war today. Our government’s claim to the contrary is false. This war has been illegal, moreover, not only under international law, but also under US law. The UN Charter is a treaty, which was ratified by the United States, and, according to Article VI of the US Constitution, any treaty ratified by the United States is part of the “supreme law of the land.” The war in Afghanistan, therefore, has from the beginning been in violation of US as well as international law. It could not be more illegal. II. Did 9/11 Provide Moral Justification for the War in Afghanistan? The American public has for the most part probably been unaware of the illegality of this war, because this is not something our political leaders or our corporate media have been anxious to point out. So most people simply do not know. If they were informed, however, many Americans would be inclined to argue that, even if technically illegal, the US military effort in Afghanistan has been morally justified, or at least it was in the beginning, by the attacks of 9/11. For a summary statement of this argument, we can turn again to the West Point speech of President Obama, who has taken over the Bush-Cheney account of 9/11. Answering the question of “why America and our allies were compelled to fight a war in Afghanistan in the first place,” Obama said:

“We did not ask for this fight. On September 11, 2001, nineteen men hijacked four airplanes and used them to murder nearly 3,000 people. They struck at our military and economic nerve centers. They took the lives of innocent men, women and children without regard to their faith or race or station. . . . As we know, these men belonged to al Qaeda – a group of extremists who have distorted and defiled Islam. . . . [A]fter the Taliban refused to turn over Osama bin Laden - we sent our troops into Afghanistan.” This standard account can be summarized in terms of three points: 1. The attacks were carried out by 19 Muslim members of al-Qaeda. 2. The attacks had been authorized by the founder of al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, who was in Afghanistan. 3. The US invasion of Afghanistan was necessary because the Taliban, which was in control of Afghanistan, refused to turn bin Laden over to US authorities. On the basis of these three points, our political leaders have claimed that the United States had the moral right, arising from the universal right of self-defense, to attempt to capture or kill bin Laden and his al-Qaeda network to prevent them from launching another attack on our country. The only problem with this argument is that all three points are false. I will show this by looking at these points in reverse order. 1. Did the United States Attack Afghanistan because the Taliban Refused to Turn Over Bin Laden? The claim that the Taliban refused to turn over Bin Laden has been repeatedly made by political leaders and our mainstream media. Reports from the time, however, show the truth to be very different. A. Who Refused Whom? Ten days after the 9/11 attacks, CNN reported:

“The Taliban . . . refus[ed] to hand over bin Laden without proof or evidence that he was involved in last week's attacks on the United States. . . . The Taliban ambassador to Pakistan . . . said Friday that deporting him without proof would amount to an ‘insult to Islam.’"

CNN also made clear that the Taliban’s demand for proof was not made without reason, saying:

“Bin Laden himself has already denied he had anything to do with the attacks, and Taliban officials repeatedly said he could not have been involved in the attacks.” Bush, however, “said the demands were not open to negotiation or discussion.”

With this refusal to provide any evidence of bin Laden’s responsibility, the Bush administration made it impossible for the Taliban to turn him over. As Afghan experts quoted by the Washington Post pointed out, the Taliban, in order to turn over a fellow Muslim to an “infidel” Western nation, needed a “face-saving formula.” Milton Bearden, who had been the CIA station chief in Afghanistan in the 1980s, put it this way: While the United States was demanding, “Give up bin Laden,” the Taliban were saying, “Do something to help us give him up.” But the Bush administration refused. After the bombing began in October, moreover, the Taliban tried again, offering to turn bin Laden over to a third country if the United States would stop the bombing and provide evidence of his guilt. But Bush replied: "There's no need to discuss innocence or guilt. We know he's guilty." An article in London’s Guardian, which reported this development, was entitled: “Bush Rejects Taliban Offer to Hand Bin Laden Over.” So it was the Bush administration, not the Taliban, that was responsible for the fact that bin Laden was not turned over. In August of 2009, President Obama, who had criticized the US invasion of Iraq as a war of choice, said of the US involvement in Afghanistan: “This is not a war of choice. This is a war of necessity.” But the evidence shows, as we have seen, that it, like the one in Iraq, is a war of choice. B. What Was the Motive for the Invasion? This conclusion is reinforced by reports indicating that the United States had made the decision to invade Afghanistan two months before the 9/11 attacks. At least part of the background to this decision was the United States’ long-time support for UNOCAL’s proposed pipeline, which would transport oil and natural gas from the Caspian Sea region to the Indian Ocean through Afghanistan and Pakistan. This project had been stymied through the 1990s because of the civil war that had been going on in Afghanistan since the Soviet withdrawal in 1989. In the mid-1990s, the US government had supported the Taliban with the hope that its military strength would enable it to unify the country and provide a stable government, which could protect the pipeline. By the late 1990s, however, the Clinton administration had given up on the Taliban. When the Bush administration came to power, it decided to give the Taliban one last chance. During a four-day meeting in Berlin in July 2001, representatives of the Bush administration insisted that the Taliban must create a government of “national unity” by sharing power with factions friendly to the United States. The US representatives reportedly said: “Either you accept our offer of a carpet of gold, or we bury you under a carpet of bombs.” After the Taliban refused this offer, US officials told a former Pakistani foreign secretary that “military action against Afghanistan would go ahead . . . before the snows started falling in Afghanistan, by the middle of October at the latest.” And, indeed, given the fact that the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon occurred when they did, the US military was able to mobilize to begin its attack on Afghanistan by October 7. It appears, therefore, that the United States invaded Afghanistan for reasons far different from the official rationale, according to which we were there to capture or kill Osama bin Laden. 2. Has Good Evidence of Bin Laden’s Responsibility Been Provided? I turn now to the second point: the claim that Osama bin Laden had authorized the attacks. Even if it refused to give the Taliban evidence for this claim, the Bush administration surely – most Americans probably assume – had such evidence and provided it to those who needed it. Again, however, reports from the time indicate otherwise. A. The Bush Administration Two weeks after 9/11, Secretary of State Colin Powell said that he expected “in the near future . . . to put out . . . a document that will describe quite clearly the evidence that we have linking [bin Laden] to this attack.” But at a joint press conference with President Bush the next morning, Powell withdrew this pledge, saying that “most of [the evidence] is classified.” Seymour Hersh, citing officials from both the CIA and the Department of Justice, said the real reason why Powell withdrew the pledge was a “lack of solid information.” B. The British Government The following week, British Prime Minister Tony Blair issued a document to show that “Osama Bin Laden and al-Qaeda, the terrorist network which he heads, planned and carried out the atrocities on 11 September 2001.” Blair’s report, however, began by saying: “This document does not purport to provide a prosecutable case against Osama Bin Laden in a court of law.”22 So, the case was good enough to go to war, but not good enough to take to court. The next day, the BBC emphasized this weakness, saying: “There is no direct evidence in the public domain linking Osama Bin Laden to the 11 September attacks.” C. The FBI What about our own FBI? Its “Most Wanted Terrorist” webpage on “Usama bin Ladendoes not list 9/11 as one of the terrorist acts for which he is wanted. When asked why not, the FBI’s chief of investigative publicity replied: “because the FBI has no hard evidence connecting Bin Laden to 9/11.” D. The 9/11Commission What about the 9/11 Commission? Its entire report is based on the assumption that bin Laden was behind the attacks. However, the report’s evidence to support this premise has been disowned by the Commission’s own co-chairs, Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton. This evidence consisted of testimony that had reportedly been elicited by the CIA from al-Qaeda operatives. The most important of these operatives was Khalid Sheikh Mohammed – generally known simply as “KSM” – who has been called the “mastermind” of the 9/11 attacks. If you read the 9/11 Commission’s account of how bin Laden planned the attacks, and then check the notes, you will find that almost every note says that the information came from KSM. In 2006, Kean and Hamilton wrote a book giving “the inside story of the 9/11 Commission,” in which they called this information untrustworthy. They had no success, they reported, in “obtaining access to star witnesses in custody . . . , most notably Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.” Besides not being allowed by the CIA to interview KSM, they were not permitted to observe his interrogation through one-way glass. They were not even allowed to talk to the interrogators. Therefore, Kean and Hamilton complained:

“We . . . had no way of evaluating the credibility of detainee information. How could we tell if someone such as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed . . . was telling us the truth?”

They could not. Accordingly, neither the Bush administration, the British government, the FBI, nor the 9/11 Commission ever provided good evidence of bin Laden’s responsibility for the attacks.

(David Ray Griffin is the author of 36 books on various topics, including philosophy, theology, philosophy of science, and 9/11. His 2008 book, The New Pearl Harbor Revisited: 9/11, the Cover-Up, and the Exposé, was named a “Pick of the Week” by Publishers Weekly. In September 2009, The New Statesman ranked him #41 among “The 50 People Who Matter Today.” His most recent book is The Mysterious Collapse of World Trade Center 7: Why the Final Official Report about 9/11 is Unscientific and False (2009). His next book will be Cognitive Infiltration: An Obama Appointee’s Plan to Undermine the 9/11 Conspiracy Theory (September 2010).)

Much more to read here.

And, "Thanks!" for reading this far if you could make it. I shouldn't have another post this long ever again.

Suzan ____________________

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, 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. . . .

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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:

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 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 in summer 1997 after Webb’s investigation was betrayed. (For more on the historic consequences of the “Dark Alliance” series, see’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 ____________