December 4, 2008

Eye of The Storm Series #3: The Ultimate Smorgasborg!

Hello everysoul!

First I feel like I need to apologize to you for the extreme size of this SEVEN part compilation - over 54,000 words! There is just so much that is going on and so much that is coming to my attention...

There is one thing I hope you will be able to give a fair bit of attention though, and it is my Follow Up below to the Pathways to a New Earth proposal I made in my last compilation, and about which I wrote a plea for more commitments so it may actually become the beacon of hope and inspiration this project can potentially be - if enough of us are inspired to contribute to its manifestation.

Looking forward to hear from you ;-)

Jean Hudon
Earth Rainbow Network Coordinator

P.S. To ensure that these compilations are not blocked, please add to your safe senders list. Your feedback is as always welcomed and may be included in a coming compilation - unless you prefer it is not. Circulating this compilation (or any part of it) and personally inviting your correspondents to subscribe to this list would also help enlarge the circle of people who have access to this material. Please include the following note and the URL address for the archived copy below along with your forwards, so others may have the opportunity to explore the original copy, if they so choose.

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"Ever since I can remember I have always had a vision of a world very different to the one I grew up living in. That world felt like home to me. People acted with greater kindness and compassion there. They seemed more awake and in tune with something that I hadn't yet observed on this planet. Life had a harmonious and flowing feel; even colour was more vivid. The buildings were built almost as an extension of their environment. The schools were full of ancient and wise teachings. The work people engaged in was more meaningful. For a long time I didn't know if this other world that I felt so strongly and sensed so vividly existed somewhere, or if I was seeing visions of our Earth's future and potential. Growing up I wondered if other people had that same vision too. Something just didn't feel right about the way things were here. I wondered why we weren't living that vision right now as it seemed a whole lot more harmonious and functional than the current reality we were choosing. (...) I believe people do have that same vision I have always had, of a world that lives in peace and harmony. But we have been taught that this vision is an impossible vision, that it's an unattainable dream, that we need to get back to reality and let go of the illusion of a better world. However, a world of peace and harmony is not fantasy. It is a world that is our destined reality. Illusion is the false facade that we are being presented with now. I believe we are going to create this new world. We are going to create it because we are going to demand it, and because the current one can no longer hold the strain of the abuse that is running through it."

- Dana Mrkich ( - Taken from her new book A New Chapter -- "A New Chapter in our evolution lies before us. Each of us is a page in that new chapter. This is a guide to making your page the best it can be."

"There are wonderful websites where just about anyone interested can find kindred spirits with whom to join energies to save our planet ( Here you will find groups of people dedicated to just about every imaginable way of husbanding our resources better and healing the problems we have created, from pollution to recycling; from water waste to revitalizing rivers; from carbon profligacy to carbon units trading; and on, and on. What I find missing in these approaches is the direct addressing of the need for shifts in awareness. No one has come up with a plan that can promote a major shift in consciousness – in the vast majority of people who have not yet awakened to these imminent dangers – and the need to reconnect our awareness of our oneness with our planet. Without this awareness, it is unlikely that enough changes in our carbon dioxide emissions, water use policies, and food allocations will be achieved before it is too late. (...) Ho'oponopono does not push healing upon others. It invites others to resonate with the self-healing we do on ourselves. This is a respectful way of offering distant healing and does not appear to diminish its effectiveness – though research has yet to confirm these anecdotal observations. Inviting healing through the collective consciousness – as we clear negativity in ourselves and help others to do the same for themselves – is likewise a respectful way to offer healing for the CPTSD."

- Daniel J. Benor -- Taken from Using Any Therapy as an Opportunity To Heal The Collective Consciousness and Our Planet: Lessons From Ho'oponopono and WHEE

"Thank you so much for "The Orion Conspiracy" video. I downloaded it in HD. I agree with your surmise that it's real and was likely released to warn people about the false flag plan for an ET invasion. With your help that is soooo not gonna happen!"

- Kathy Roberts ( - Thanks Kathy! Although the story line offered by the director to try to put these amazing pictures in some meaningful context is probably off-track in some respects—for instance, many question the suggestion that the Roswell incident was a hoax because there are too many witnesses who came forward with tantalizing details on it—the fact remains that the pictures he had access to reveal just how much we have not been told yet, officially, and this is certainly just the tip of a gigantic "iceberg" of hidden stuff, more of which is explored below in the Worthy of Your Attention section.

"Many Lightbearers have emerged from the shadows and taken up the challenge to join forces. It is reaching a point where they will take over, and only requires your support for those that are chosen for the task. There is a time and place for everything that has been planned for your upliftment, and it is now so important that information carrying the truth reaches you. Listen carefully to those who speak with clarity and purpose about the coming changes. Link with such souls of Light and Truth as David Wilcox, who has a major role to play in your future. There are many others, and all play their part in bringing you the energies of truth that will set you free. The truth is surely stranger than fiction, because you have been misled by the dark forces that covered it up. Now there is no stopping the avalanche of truth that is building up. It will engulf the world, and release you from the careful web of deceit that the dark ones have used to keep you under their control."

- Ag-agria -- Taken from this December 3 message


1. Robert Fisk: All Fall Down
2. Once more fear stalks the streets of Kandahar
3. The Myth of Americans as an "Indispensable People": What Uncle Sam Has to Tell His Creditors
4. Chronicling the Surveillance Control Grid: The Airport: A Freedom-Free Zone
5. Learning to Lead
6. Thousands Worldwide Prepare for the Apocalypse Expected in 2012
7. Fireworks Light Up Dubai as Gaza Sleeps in Darkness
8. Meet the Shministim
9. Marine life faces 'acid threat'
10. Our World is Finite
11. Zombie Economics: Don't Bail out the System that Gave Us SUVs and Strip Malls
12. One Shot Left
13. How the Rich Are Destroying the Earth
14. After 'GD2' in 2011, a 100-year bear market?
15. A new New Deal for America: Obama must act boldly to rescue the American people
16. Financing for Development: Radical changes needed, WCC says in Doha
17. Smokin’ Deals-Are They Worth Lives?

FOLLOW UP TO There is ALWAYS Hope Series #2: A Higher Standard of Leadership

IMPORTANT NOTE from Jean: First I recommend you give a look at the wonderfully positive response this Pathways to a New Earth proposal has elicited so far...

But then, realizing that out of over 4000 people who have received this proposal, there have been less than 80 of them who gave a look at this page, and 11 who posted a comment and only 3 of them who actually mentioned they intend to contribute written material to it, I'm left to wonder if with such a small response I really want to put in the MANY hours of work required to create this wiki website and its various categories and make it functional as envisioned. I mean... Common... there must be more creative people on this list who would like to contribute to this collective visionary work! At first I hoped for 100 commitments but then I told myself I would settle for 50 to actually decide to go ahead with this project. Is it because most everyone think they prefer to let others take care of envisioning - and then promoting - the kind of future we could have if Love and compassion prevail? Or are most people simply too busy to actually do more than quickly browse through these compilations and thus have not really taken the needed time to ponder this proposal or check what others think about it?...

Ok here is the deal... If another 40 people or so actually commit by December 15 to participate in some way to co-creating this Pathways to a New Earth vision through posting their commitment at, then I commit myself to set up this wiki website and have it functional and ready to use by January 15. Daniel J. Benor has already offered to help me with defining the various categories under which contributors would post their ideas and visions and generally assessing the overall design of this website. If anyone else is interested to offer assistance at this designing stage, by all means let me know.

So there you have it. Now, as they say, the ball is in your camp... In the meantime, here are some more feedbacks to this proposal and to my last compilation.

Kosta Gus Makreas ( wrote: "Hi Jean and Rick! As activist global visionaries, you are both involved in long-running projects to promote cultural creative people power. I suspect you may already know each other, but if not, I hope you can connect via this email in order to help each other's synergistic possibilities. Rick: In this email I have included Jean's wonderful intro to extending his vision via a Wiki. Jean: Rick and his project, "We, the World", can be found at Thanks to both of you for all the fantastic work you have done over the years. Now we can continue to weave the web of Life in greater and more powerful ways." NOTE from Jean: I've thanked Gus for introducing me to Rick's amazing work which I was already a bit familiar with through their 11 Days of Global Unity program which I have recommended twice in past compilations - in 2004 and 2007. I look forward to cooperate with Rick and see what we can accomplish together along with those who have already expressed an interest in this new project. Here is what Rick replied: "Thanks Kosta! You are the great connector! Jean, if you read the message at you'll get a sense of the collaborative framework that we're building. Looking forward to reading your material and working with you to create the Shift!" P.S. Note from Jean: I've included in my next There is Always Hope Series compilation (coming next week!) the sensational initiative outlined at this webpage. But don't wait and give it a look right away to see how you could help! Here is a bit of info on We, The World...

We, The World is a Global Collaboration for a Livable Future. We promote solutions for a world that works for all. Founded in 1998, We, The World is a 501c3 non-profit organization that forms international networks of collaboration. We produce and promote events and other programs to increase public awareness and action about critical societal issues such as violence, poverty and ecological damage. Our mission is to maximize social change on a global scale. Our programs and events are designed to Inspire, Inform and Involve increasing numbers of people in the growing global movement that has the transformative consciousness of peace and service to people and the planet at its core. In September 2004, we launched 11 Days of Global Unity Sept 11-21, now an annual worldwide promotion of peace, sustainability and transformation with more than 700 associated events in over 60 countries around the world. Supporters of the launch included Nobel Peace Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Jane Goodall, Deepak Chopra and many others. Click here for more about 11 Days of Global Unity. For more about We, The World in general see also: NOBEL PEACE LAUREATE ARCHBISHOP DESMOND TUTU VIDEO - MISSION

Sally Leong ( wrote: "I like your idea as there have been many surveys on line but none have asked for a ranking by all so that some sense of direction can be consolidated." And my reply was: "Thanks for your feedback on this. Indeed popular vote will help highlight what makes most sense to all and thus narrow down the number of ideas proposed to something more workable. It will also be an incentive for the people contributing their vision to make it as compellingly clear and inspirational as they can. I'm always amazed at the level of wisdom that so many people can offer when given a chance and the proper context to do so. This is going to be mightily interesting and stimulating!"

Pennie Christie ( wrote: "Today's compilation is truly a reflection of Thanksgiving. Thank you so much for this new series of compilations (There is ALWAYS Hope). Constantly I have to ask when examining my thoughts, words, and actions if I'm part of the problem or the solution. It's no longer a time for doing things the old way and every moment we have the choice of exchanging those non-solutions for solutions. It's a time we thrive on the possibility of what could be for now we do HAVE HOPE. What I wrote to share with you is about a 75-minute interview with Gregg Braden from earlier this week. The audio will only be available for the next day or two to listen to for free. What he says about time cycles is fascinating (all converging now), but of course, the rest of the interview is well worth the listen also. And while I'm here, I absolutely love and support your newest brilliant inspiration for the contents of a wiki website. Want to take part and offer any help I can in making this project a reality."

Al Farthing ( wrote: "Jean --- you have blown the top off of the photo-barrel! The way you have illustrated these glorious pictures is -- well GLORIOUS! Looking at them -- especially the flowers -- is a meditation --- it could be made into a wonderful meditation video, with peaceful music added perhaps --- I think that could find a big audience in the marketplace. And you have included my favourite -- the glorious sunflower! With the sky and trees at the top in the background -- priceless! And the new venture you are considering --- WOW! How exciting! I didn't know Paul Hawken had a new book out -- this one looks marvelous. Your creativity is simply astonishing! So many wonderful things that I have longed to see for so many years of my life -- they actually seem to be coming into focus, and very quickly." Note from Jean: It is Al who brought to my attention Paul Hawken's work featured in my last compilation. And the pictures he refers to are posted at - If someone has the time and ability to create a video rendition of these pictures, please let me know and I'll provide you with suggestions for the music and message that could accompany the pictures. Then it could posted on YouTube and the video could be embedded somewhere on the ERN site...


Date: 02 Dec 2008
From: Ricken Patel - Avaaz Canada (
Subject: Urgent: support the Coalition for Canada

Opposition parties are just days away from uniting in a successful coalition government that would finally replace Stephen Harper and represent the majority of Canadians!

Harper is desperately launching an all out media and PR blitz to attack the new coalition and hang on to power. We urgently need to respond, to show the media and the Governor General that almost two thirds of Canadians oppose Harper and support a coalition government. Forward this email to others, and take action now:

Acting if he had a majority government, Stephen Harper has tried to exploit the economic crisis to push through a series of aggressively partisan and ideological proposals while doing nothing to actually stimulate the economy.

Shocked into action, the opposition parties have finally decided to fight back together -- using their majority of seats in the House of Commons to form a new government. Canada could finally see a Liberal-NDP (and Green supported) coalition that would reverse years of awful economic and environmental policies.

Harper calls this move 'undemocratic' and is using his huge cash reserves and high level media friends to manufacture a 'backlash' and launch an all out PR campaign to publicly discredit the coalition. His only hope is to persuade the Governor General to refuse a coalition government, or grant a request to close Parliament until next year.

We urgently need to show the media and and the Governor General where Canadians stand. Through a flood of petition signatures, phone calls to radio shows, letters to the editor, messages to the Governor General, and more, we can demonstrate that the 62% of us who didn't vote for Harper are firmly behind a coalition to replace him. Click below to sign the petition and much more:

Harper claims a coalition government would be undemocratic, but that's laughable - the opposition parties between them represent almost two thirds of Canadian voters - so a new coalition government would be a great victory for Canadian democracy. Canadians didn't give Harper a majority government precisely because we were worried about his radical views. As he's decided to push far right-wing policies, we expect our representatives in Parliament to fire him.

Harper also claims that the parties are just protecting their government funding, which he proposed eliminating. But Canada has public financing because we believe party funding should be based on how many votes a party gets, not just how many large donors it cultivates. The real issue is that instead of dealing with a global economic crisis, Harper used that crisis to bully the parties into swallowing this and other partisan or ideological proposals, such as banning strikes by public sector workers (who have already accepted a wage freeze). He has never acted like a Prime Minister for all Canadians, and our representatives have had enough.

Finally Harper claims a coalition would be traitorous, because it would require separatist support from the Bloc Quebecois. This is the most laughable claim, because Harper’s own minority government has continually relied on Bloc support to stay in power, as would any minority government.

Canada and the world are facing serious economic and climate crises, and we have the wrong government to face them. The world's representatives are gathering now in Poland for a last ditch effort to fight climate change, and Canada is STILL a spoiler in their efforts. If ever there was a time to get active, it's now. So let's skip that TV show, cook a simpler meal, cancel that social thing we didn't want to go to anyway, and make time this week to make our voices heard. If we do, we could finally have a government that represents us within days.

With hope,

Ricken and the Avaaz Canada team

PS - in a random online poll of Avaaz Canada members, over 84% of us supported a coalition government as the best way forward at this time. Only 4% of us favoured a new election.

LAST minute update:

Rallies held across Canada for coalition (Dec 4, 2008)
OTTAWA — Thousands rallied Thursday on the snow-covered lawn of Parliament Hill to support a coalition of opposition parties who tried to oust the Harper government. The crowd wasn't deterred by ice pellets whirling from the monochrome Ottawa sky or by word that Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean allowed Prime Minister Stephen Harper to suspend Parliament until late next month. They huddled together, bundled in parkas, toques and scarves, waving signs that said "Coalition - Yes! Make Parliament Work" and "I'm a part of the 62 per cent majority" - a reference to the combined vote share of the opposition parties in the last federal election.They blew sharp blasts on their whistles. They clanked tin drums, clanged cowbells and rattled maracas. Anti-Harper chants broke the crisp noon air. "Hey hey! Ho ho! Stephen Harper has got to go!"The Ottawa rally was one of several pro-coalition events organized for Thursday in several major cities to show support for the coalition's goal of defeating the Conservatives and forming an alternative government. CLIP

Much more on this through


Take action: In America, no one is above the law. Speak out against preemptive pardons and restore the American values of justice and due process
Speak out against preemptive pardons and help restore the American values of justice and due process. Send a message to President Bush telling him you oppose preemptive pardons for these people and any others who may have been involved in torture.

UFOTV: Life On MARS - Scientific Evidence (2006)

Pope Confirms UFOs are Real
Only ones left are our own government.

Space Ship dematerializing in China

Jeff Peckman on Letterman June 10, 2008
ET-Motivated Citizen Jeff Peckman with David Letterman about Citizen Disclosure - MORE on Peckman HERE

Authentic Jeff Peckman Stan Romanek Alien Video
Same as the one shown during the Letterman interview above

Obama, phone home (December 1, 2008)
And now for something completely different. The Extraterrestrial Phenomenon Political Action Committee has called on President-Elect Barack Obama to "end the six-decade truth embargo regarding an extraterrestrial presence engaging the human race."The Maryland group wants the incoming president to insist on a "full briefing from military services and intelligence agencies regarding what they know" and to open congressional hearings "to take testimony from scores of government witnesses who have already come forward with extraordinary evidence and are prepared to testify under oath." The campaigners think Mr. Obama could lend a sympathetic ear to their plea for other-worldly transparency because of two people: John Podesta and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson. Mr. Podesta - former chief of staff in the Clinton White House and now chief of Mr. Obama's transition team - once led a project to declassify 800 million pages of intelligence documents. Mr. Richardson, who has contributed to a book on UFO sightings within his state, might also provide some sway.Stephen Bassett, director of "X-PPAC," hopes to have 40,000 signatures from supporters ready for Mr. Obama by Inauguration Day. "The truth embargo is now at the end of the line. The release of documents in Britain and France has put huge pressure on the U.S. It makes the government here look pretty stupid," he told the Sunday Daily Telegraph. "I think we are seeing the Democrats moving towards disclosure. John Podesta has outed himself as an enthusiast. He thinks the American public can handle the truth. Bill Richardson thinks there was a cover-up."

Old man telling about humans working along side aliens at area 51 - with old film footage

This is one disturbing phone call! - but it's all fake according to the other one below...
Frantic caller from Area 51 to Art Bell on his "Live Radio Show" in which Bell has dedicated a line strictly for those employees of Area 51 brave enough to call. This employee is on the run and someone else was obviously listening before pulling the plug on the rest of the message. NOTE: there are MANY versions of that same video! Imagine how many people were freaked out by this devious prank before the prankster set the record straight!

Area 51 caller calls back on Art Bell's Coast to Coast - but was the transmission shut off faked or not?

Art Bell On Gov't Black Ops Payroll? (9 Jul 1997)
(...) Why doesn't Art Bell suffer any flap from the "secret government" that wants to suppress certain information? (...) What better way to track down abductees and those who have seen UFOs and other things than a world-wide talk show with over 10 million listeners where the host *invites* people to discuss their experiences? What better forum to infuse disinformation among the masses who are interested in this subject matter? CLIP

Secret Underground Bases & The NWO - Phil Schneider 7of7 (the end of Questions & Answers part)

Top Extra Secret Underground Alien Bases. Part 2 (Part 1 is HERE)

Underground & Undersea Facilities Pt.1 (Audio only - MOST interesting!) PART 2 - PART 3 - PART 4 - PART 5
Author Dr. Richard Sauder returned to discuss the latest evidence of underground bases and tunnels. (...) Sauder shared materials depicting Nazi MagLev Plans for an underground tubeway that was to be built in WW II, connecting major cities in Europe. He noted that Project Paperclip (see memo) brought many German scientists to the US after the war, and a similar type of underground transport system is rumored to now exist in the US. Hamilton said he'd spoken to a National Guard Col. who claimed to have been on one of these MagLev trains, and that the vehicles might be able to reach speeds as fast as 5,000 mph. Sauder believes it's almost certain that undersea facilities also exist, which could be used for mining or to house self-sustaining societies. It's even possible that descendants from ancient Atlantis might clandestinely be living in an underwater environment, he conjectured.

Stolen US Government UFO Footage

Abducted By Aliens (20 novembre 2008)
(...) She remembers a frantic, frightening phone call from a neighbor. She said three different types of beings came down the hallway, and the fans started rotating in the opposite direction and the lights were flashing. And little balls of light were flying around everywhere. She said one of the beings was so tall it could hardly get through the door. Nelms says those beings abducted her neighbor, just like they abducted her. But why? She says for scientific research."I know this is crazy, but this is what happened. They examined her. She said when she was on the ship, the mother ship, she said there were all kinds of different species of aliens. Some of them were wearing civilian clothes, she said some of them talked in other languages, she said one told her that they weren't going to harm her, they just wanted to do some examinations."

Part 2 of Abducted by Aliens on Texas TV

UFO Massive Fleet over The City of Valencia Spain Oct 13, 2007

Colorado State Patrol Officer Encountered UFO and “Human” Stranger (November 21, 2008)
(...) He said, ‘Well, we were just checking up on you.’I said, ‘Why don’t you explain that.’He said, ‘Let me explain this.’ He then stood there and proceeded to tell me about my entire life from the day I was born to the present moment and he never missed a thing. He knew everything about me – things I had forgotten about! Things I had tried to keep secret in my life. He knew it all, everything.Then he said something that was kind of strange. Do you remember when you were about six or seven years old, there was a strange red light that came into your parents’ house through the front room window and it illuminated your whole front room. Do you remember that?’I said, ‘I don’t recall that.’ He said, ‘Well, we were checking on you then, too.’ He said, ‘You’re one of the special ones.’ And then he handed me a business card and said, ‘If you ever want to talk with me again, you can reach me here.’ (...) I also have an expectation that whoever or whatever these beings are, they are going to make a full disclosure, or our government is going to make a full disclosure, in the very near future. I think that’s going to occur. They can’t hide it anymore.” CLIP

The 2012 Enigma: Free Full-Length Documentary Film!
Is there a miniature stargate in your own brain? Did ancient cultures reverse-engineer it into usable technology that could actually look – and even travel – through time? Did our secret government come into possession of this technology? Did they see anything occurring around the year 2012? Dive into this fascinating story in The 2012 Enigma.

Burning Man 2007: The Temple of Forgiveness

Rainbows at Burning Man 2007 - Amazing pictures!

Burning Man Documentary 2008 DUST & ILLUSIONS (Trailer #1)
A short history of Burning Man

Burning Man 2008
All Burning Man 2008 videos

The shocking story of a Half Man Half Tree

Extraordinary people - Iceman - Wonderful example of the amazing powers we can develop (I suppose!)
In January this year, Wim Hof ran a half Marathon (21 km) above the polar circle in Finland. He wore only a pair of shorts and no shoes. The ground (snow) temperature was 35 below. In a few months time, he'll try something similar on Everest's north side. The expedition, led by Dutch Werner de Jong, will try to set a new world record as Wim attempts to climb parts of Everest wearing only shorts.This is not your regular stunt. Wim already has 9 world records, and has trained hard for many years to withstand cold, much like some monks do in Tibet. Wim can actually regulate his core heat to control the temperature of his skin. Something of a medical enigma, Wim is able to withstand cold that could kill or seriously injure other people.On Everest, Wim will also put to use his free style climbing skills - which he once demonstrated hanging between 2 hot air balloons by his middle finger at an altitude of 1500 meters. Once back inside the basket, Wim finished by climbing to the top of the balloon.One of Wim's world record attempts took him to the North Pole, where he held his breath for about 6 minutes and 20 seconds below the ice.

Extraordinary people - The human calculator Pt1 and 2

Extraordinary People - The boy who sees without eyes
This is a documentary about a boy (Ben Underwood) who has taught himself to use echo location to navigate around the world. Ben Underwood is blind, but has managed to do some truly extraordinary feats.

Extraordinary people - The boy who lived before
Many more extraordinary people's stories in the related videos on the right.

World's Fastest Drinker - Stupid but nevertheless amazing...

Hamster Wheel Yakety Sax - animals too can pull amazing stunts!

A Hummingbird Fly Zone - Remarkable pictures!
This is something I have never seen before, or ever even heard of. This lady lives in a Hummingbird fly zone. As they migrated, about 20 of them were in her yard. She took the little red dish, filled it with sugar water and this is the result.


Giants of the old World

LIFE photo archive hosted by Google
Search millions of photographs from the LIFE photo archive, stretching from the 1750s to today. Most were never published and are now available for the first time through the joint work of LIFE and Google.

The eco machine that can magic water out of thin air (November 23 2008)
(...) The company, Element Four, has developed a machine that it hopes will become the first mainstream household appliance to have been invented since the microwave. Their creation, the WaterMill, uses the electricity of about three light bulbs to condense moisture from the air and purify it into clean drinking water. CLIP

Willard Wigan micro sculptor - Amazing feat!

Web Pick of the Week: The New Pearl Harbor Revisited: 9/11, the Cover-Up, and the Exposé
Author and professor Griffin (9/11 Contradictions: An Open Letter to Congress and the Press) knows his work is referred to by officials and the media as conspiracy theory, and he has a rebuttal: “the official theory is itself a conspiracy theory.” In this companion volume to 2004's The New Pearl Harbor: Disturbing Questions About the Bush Administration and 9/11, Griffin provides corrections, raises new issues and discusses “the two most important official reports about 9/11,” the 9/11 Commission Report and the National Institute of Standards and Technology report on the Twin Towers, both “prepared by people highly responsive to the wishes of the White House” and riddled with “omission and distortion from beginning to end.” Griffin addresses many points in exhaustive detail, from the physical impossibility of the official explanation of the towers’ collapse to the Commission's failure to scrutinize the administration to the NIST’s contradiction of its own scientists to the scads of eyewitness and scientific testimony in direct opposition to official claims. Citing hundreds, if not thousands, of sources, Griffin's detailed analysis is far from reactionary or delusional, building a case that, though not conclusive, raises enough valid and disturbing questions to make his call for a new investigation more convincing than ever. (Oct.) CLIP - Weekly reviews from this trusted and prestigious publisher have guided the book trade, including booksellers, publishers, librarians, and literary agents, for 136 years. Dr. Griffin's book can be found at good bookstores or purchased at a discounted price from and

The secret images of google earth

National do not call list in Canada
Cell Phone Numbers Go Public this month. All cell phone numbers are being released to Telemarketing Companies and you’ll start to receive sale calls. YOU WILL BE CHARGED FOR THESE CALLS. To prevent this, call the following number from your cell phone: 1 866-580-3625 or 888-382-1222 - It’s the National DO NOT CALL list and will only take a minute of your time. It blocks your number for five (5) years. You must call from the Cell Phone Number you want to have blocked; you cannot call from a different phone number. Or you can do it online at for both your cell phone and home phone.
To get on the "Do not Call" list in the U.S.: -- Related: Now Consumer Groups Want A 'Do Not Track' List

Forrest Gump explains Mortgage Backed Securities... (NOVEMBER 27, 2008)
And keep reading for the joke that comes after...

University of Michigan - A new renewable energy concept (November 24, 2008)
A device called VIVACE developed at the University of Michigan draws power out of slow water currents to produce clean electricity. It imitates the swim strategy of a school of fish. MORE through

Ocean currents can power the world, say scientists (29 Nov 2008)
A revolutionary device that can harness energy from slow-moving rivers and ocean currents could provide enough power for the entire world, scientists claim.

Hawaii Endorses Plan for Electric Cars
John Markoff, The New York Times: "The State of Hawaii and the Hawaiian Electric Company on Tuesday endorsed an effort to build an alternative transportation system based on electric vehicles with swappable batteries and an 'intelligent' battery recharging network. The plan, the brainchild of the former Silicon Valley software executive Shai Agassi, is an effort to overcome the major hurdles to electric cars - slow battery recharging and limited availability."

H2O Car - Water Powered Car
Have you ever wondered why H2O/Water powered cars have never been marketed by U.S companies? Maybe the word OIL comes to mind! Now the Japanese are marketing H2O cars. Please don't tell me that America will be buying H2O cars from Japan, when this simple technology has been available for decades!!! More through

German Technology - A cross between a car and a motorcycle!

50 Strange Buildings

Billions of Zimbabwe Dollars and Zimbabwe Inflation in 2008 (Nov 1st, 2008) HYPERBOLIC STUPIDITY!
Zimbabwe inflation rate reached outstanding 2,000,000% (even more probably) in 2008. For me it’s really hard to image such stupid thing happening to country’s economy. For such a bad Zimbabwe’s situation is responsible Robert Mugabe (president) and his government. They just keep issuing bigger and bigger bills. And I have to say, denominations got ridiculously big: the latest was Z$ 100 000 000 000. And all this happened in the last couple years. Funny things is, that the government has announced a longer-term plan to dispense with the zeroes entirely, turning $10 billion into $1. And then what? $1 to $1billion once again?So what went so wrong? Basically government has no clue how to rule the country. Fortune magazine writes: “If anyone is to blame for the economic crisis, it’s Mugabe himself. In 28 years he has managed to take one of the wealthiest countries in sub-Saharan Africa and ruin it in a stupefying variety of ways.”So his first “golden” idea was to annihilated the agricultural sector by seizing commercial farms and giving them to his friends. Sadly they had no idea how to run farms and failed to use the land.Secondly, he prosecuted a war in the Congo, spending $1 million (U.S.) a day in hopes of stealing enough land and resources from the Congolese to make a profit. Zimbabweans didn’t like that and have tried to vote him out of office, but he has punished them with violence and economic repression.These and many other stupid decisions made many people leave the country. OK, this post is not about politics it’s about money (bills). So let’s get down to business. First take a look at this Zimbabwe inflation chart. So if you could buy a glass of beer for 10 Zimbabwean dollars back in 2006, now the same glass would cost you more then 10 000 000 Zimbabwean dollars. Alright, maybe that’s not very accurate but keep reading and you will understand. (...) On 4 April 2008, it was reported that twenty five million dollar and fifty million dollar bearer cheque was being issued. The RBZ also increased the maximum withdrawal limit for individuals to $5 billion a day.On May 5, 2008, it was announced that one hundred million dollar and two hundred and fifty million dollar bearer cheques were to be issued.Image credit: ZeroOneOn May 15, 2008, it was announced that five hundred million dollar bearer cheques were to be issued as of May 20. It was also announced that agro cheques in the amounts of 5, 25, and 50 billion dollars would be issued on the same day. All of these will be dated to expire at the end of 2008. CLIP

Dying Boy's Wish Feeds the Homeless - Very moving!

We Are Change Colorado Exposes Denver’s Terror Museum (Nov 20, 2008) With a video!
(...) The museum conveys its message through the use of sound bites, video clips and flash imagery to promote a political ideology, encouraging support for unconstitutional legislation like the PATRIOT Act and the FISA legislation. This is legislation that directly violates people’s right to privacy, denies them due process and has been the legal justification for torture. The underlying message being promoted by The Cell, along with the use of such graphic material to relay that message peeked our interest. It definitely seemed worthy of investigation. (...) Why are people who are linked with defense contractors and political lobbyist groups, along with banking institutions that have been proven to be involved in serious criminal activity, putting their buck behind The Cell? Why are very prominent public officials promoting this museum? Why is this museum seeking to work with our schools to bring young kids there “to learn about terrorism”? Why is it that they are using their own definition of terrorism to “educate” people about terrorism? Why do they make so many references to the struggle between “security and civil liberties and intelligence gathering and privacy rights”? When you realize many of these groups have a potential gain, either a political or a financial gain from war, war in the Middle East in particular. Questions regarding the true motives behind this establishment become blaringly apparent. This isn’t a museum to teach culture, history, art, or anything of the sort, I think that can be agreed upon. These are just a few of the questions that none one has addressed, but that we feel are at the true core reasons as to why an establishment like this is seeking to bring your children to view such graphic and politically opinionated material. As soon as one scratches the surface of The Cell to see who’s running the show behind the scenes there are a lot of interesting and honestly, quite disturbing names associated with this “museum”. CLIP

Move away from all forms of animal exploitation
Unless we stop persecuting, killing and torturing billions of non-human sentient beings each year for profit and for the "greater good", we will never know peace in the world. We cannot continue to reap and sow the seed of murder and expect that we as humans will ever stop exploiting and killing each other. It is time in the 21st century that we give non-humans the respect, protection and legal rights they deserve and move beyond this insanity of violence we continue to perpetrate as a species. We will also never properly address climate change if we continue to consume meat and dairy because the meat and dairy industry contribute more to global warming than all automotive industries combined. "Researchers at the University of Chicago have calculated the relative carbon intensity of a standard vegan diet in comparison to a US-style carnivorous diet, all the way through from production to processing to distribution to cooking and consumption. An average burger man (that is, not the outsize variety) emits the equivalent of 1.5 tonnes more CO2 every year than the standard vegan. By comparison, were you to trade in your conventional gas-guzzler for a state of the art Prius hybrid, your CO2 savings would amount to little more than one tonne per year."

Check out these videos:
You can't be a meat eating environmentalist

World Food Crisis: Is Meat Consumption a Major Cause

World Food Crisis: Another Major Cause

I have a question for you President-Elect Barack Obama

- Dhanu River (Buddhist animal rights vegan activist and human being), Sante Fe, NM Nov 28, 2008

(...) "Several alternative policies and options could lead to lower consumption of meat and climate-friendly lifestyles, which a society may decide on with its own wisdom. EVA has provided a menu of actions that could be adopted as provided below, and it is for communities and governments to decide how to consider them." Human Benefits
* Twenty vegetarians can be fed on the amount of land needed to feed one person consuming a meat-based diet.
* If America reduced their intake of meat by 10 percent, 60 million people can be adequately fed by grain saved.
* A cow has to eat 7 lbs of grain and soy bean protein to produce 1 lb of meat protein. If the same land were to produce food for humans directly, 7 times more people could eat.
* More than half of all the water used in the United States is used in live stock production that can be used where there is water shortage.
When we become aware of these facts and change our lifestyle and go vegan we can increase the amount of grain available to feed people elsewhere, reduce pollution, save water and energy, cease contributing to the clearing of forests and the most important we can save billions of sentient beings from torture and pain. If one gives up all animal products eg dairy products, and adopts a plant based diet, then one is Vegan -- (excluding flesh, fish, fowl, dairy products such as animal milk, butter, cheese, yogurt (curd), eggs, honey, animal gelatin and all other items of animal origin.) Going vegan is much easier than you think.

Check the latest issue of Yes! Magazine on Sustainable Happiness


It might be a good idea to send some love and peace vibes to India and Pakistan...

Indian Opposition Demand Action Against Pakistan (Dec 4, 2008)
(...) The leader of India's main opposition party urged the government to 'avenge the repeated terror attacks' and hit back at arch-rival Pakistan, the Press Trust of India said on Thursday."

Pakistan May Move Troops From Afghan to Indian Border
Saed Shah, McClatchy Newspapers: "Pakistan has warned that it will divert troops fighting the Taliban and al Qaida on its western border with Afghanistan to its eastern frontier with India, as tensions over the terror attacks in Mumbai push India and Pakistan towards military confrontation. Washington may be forced to mediate as Indian officials declared that their country was being put on a virtual war footing. Indian officials have squarely blamed Pakistan while its media have reported detailed but unconfirmed accounts from unnamed security officials, that last week's assault on the commercial capital Mumbai was planned and launched from Pakistan."

Mumbai attacks ‘were a ploy to wreck Obama plan to isolate al-Qaeda’ (December 1, 2008)
The carnage may have been an attempt to put Pakistan and India at each other’s throats and kill US hopes for the region -- Relations between India and Pakistan were on a knife edge last night amid fears that Delhi’s response to the Mumbai attacks could undermine the Pakistani army’s campaign against Islamic militants on the frontier with Afghanistan. Officials and analysts in the region believe that last week’s atrocities were designed to provoke a crisis, or even a war, between the nuclear-armed neighbours, diverting Islamabad’s attention from extremism in tribal areas bordering Afghanistan and thus relieving pressure on al-Qaeda, Taleban and other militants based there. One analyst even described the attacks as a “pre-emptive strike” against Barack Obama’s strategy to put Pakistan and Afghanistan at the centre of US foreign policy.The United States and its allies now face a balancing act in supporting India’s efforts to investigate the Mumbai attacks, without jeopardizing Pakistan’s crucial support for the Nato campaign in Afghanistan. India’s government, facing an election by May, is under enormous pressure to respond to the attacks, which it believes was carried out by the Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba, possibly with the help of al Qaeda. Lashkar-e-Taiba was also blamed for an attack on the Indian parliament in December 2001, which prompted India and Pakistan to mass troops on each other’s border, almost triggering their fourth war since independence in 1947. CLIP

Fears of sectarian violence after Mumbai carnage (Dec 1, 2008)
MUMBAI (AFP) - The Islamist militant attacks on Mumbai have led to fears that India could see a sectarian backlash as Hindu and Muslim groups exploit mutual suspicion for political and religious ends.ADVERTISEMENT Underlying tensions between Muslims and Hindus that have simmered for decades could flare, if not in Mumbai then elsewhere in the country, in reaction to three days of carnage that officials have blamed on Islamist extremists aligned with Pakistan, members of both communities told AFP.The majority of people from both sides of the sectarian divide wish to live in peace, said commentators, writers and ordinary Indians. Right-wing Hindu groups could be expected to use Islamists' involvement in the attacks to garner support before next year's national elections, said writer Javed Anand. But he added that both Hindu and Muslim communities were "in denial about terrorism in their own midst," which he said was "a nationwide issue."Heavily-armed Islamist youths struck at a dozen sites late Wednesday, including luxury hotels, a hospital and a Jewish centre, taking hostages as they seized some of the city's iconic buildings, including the Taj Mahal hotel.The Taj was finally cleared early Saturday with at least 172 people reported dead and nearly 300 others wounded.Officials including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh have fingered "elements" in Pakistan as being behind the attacks, and Indian media have said one assailant taken alive was Pakistani. CLIP

Mumbai attacks: Investigation focuses on Pakistan (28 Nov 2008)
Following the atrocity in Bombay, the focus is now on the area fuelling the Islamist jihad -- As the body count rises, and the full horror is revealed in the accounts of traumatised survivors and the photographs of the dead strewn around Bombay's (Mumbai's) tourist venues, the investigation into the atrocity is at full pelt. Already a disturbing theme is emerging: that two of the world's most bitter and intractable conflicts, in Afghanistan and Kashmir, could be merging into one.According to Indian authorities, the trail of the gunmen who ran riot in the streets and hotels leads back to the wild terrain of Pakistan's tribal border areas, from where groups linked to al-Qaeda plot a global jihad.The connection is strengthened by the fact that the terrorists singled out British and American citizens as victims for their slaughter, and by reports that the attackers included "British citizens of Pakistani origin", most probably trained in the tribal areas.But other significant factors are in play, too. In their propaganda, the terrorists named the territorial dispute over Kashmir – for which Pakistan and India have twice gone to war – as a cause of their actions, along with grievances over the treatment of India's Muslims by the Hindu majority.This juxtaposition of causes is no surprise to observers of the region. India and Pakistan have long used factions within Afghanistan as proxies in their long dispute over Kashmir. CLIP

Pak may relocate 100,000 army men to border (30 Nov 2008)
KARACHI: Pakistan may relocate around 100,000 military personnel from its restive border area with Afghanistan if there is an escalation in tension with India, which has hinted at the involvement of Pakistani elements in the Mumbai carnage, a media report said on Sunday. A private channel reported that Pakistan's military and intelligence sources told a select group of journalists on Sunday that NATO and American command had been told that Islamabad would be forced to relocate its military from the borders with Afghanistan if there is escalation in tension with India, where nearly 200 people were killed in the multiple terror attacks on the Indian financial capital. "These sources have said NATO and the US command have been told that Pakistan would not be able to concentrate on the war on terror and against militants around the Afghanistan border as defending its borders with India was far more important," Geo News quoted senior Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir as saying. He also said the sources had briefed the media that the decision not to send the ISI chief Lt Gen Shuja Pasha to India was taken after Indian foreign minister Pranab Mukherjee used a very aggressive tone with Pakistani officials on telephone after the Mumbai attacks. "The decision to not send the ISI DG to India was taken because Mukherjee used strong words with Pakistani officials and warned of consequences," Mir quoted the military sources as saying.

Bush sends Condi Rice to India to manage response towards Pak (1 Dec 2008)
WASHINGTON: US President George Bush is sending Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to New Delhi this week in a show of American support for India after the terror attacks in Mumbai last week, the White House announced on Sunday. Rice, who left for London on Sunday night on a previously scheduled trip to attend a Nato meeting, will arrive in New Delhi on Wednesday. "Secretary Rice's visit to India is a further demonstration of the United States' commitment to stand in solidarity with the people of India as we all work together to hold these extremists accountable," the White House said in a statement. Rice’s visit is also aimed at tempering Indian response toward Pakistan and discussing the best options for India and US to act in concert, analysts reckon. Washington is evidently concerned that any unilaterally punitive measures by New Delhi will undermine the US war on terror on Pakistan’s western front, going by the expression of concern from numerous US lawmakers. The Bush administration is also expected to send senior military and intelligence officials to Islamabad to ask for action to dismantle the terrorism apparatus fostered by renegades in the ISI. CLIP

Israel sends defence, forensics men to Mumbai (30 Nov 2008)
JERUSALEM: Israel defense officials say two high-ranking security men have been dispatched to India to assist with the investigation into the Mumbai attacks. One is a representative of the Israeli defence ministry and the other is from the Shin Bet security service. They are also coordinating security at Israeli sites in India with local authorities.The officials spoke on Sunday on condition of anonymity because the Israelis' presence was not officially made public. The foreign ministry says at least seven Israelis were killed at a Jewish center targeted by the assailants. CLIP

Times of India: Mumbai planned by "Hindu Zionists" (2 Dec 2008),prtpage-1.cms
NEW DELHI: Mumbai's 26/11 was actually a plan hatched by "Hindu Zionists" and "Western Zionists", including the Mossad, said a self-styled Pakistan security expert on a Pakistan news television show, uploaded on They look like Hindus. No Pakistani speaks the language they chatted in)," said Zaid Hamid while referring to the terrorists on the show Mujhe Ikhtilaf Hai (I differ) on Pakistan's News One channel. The sensationalist channel was launched in November last year. The Americans executed the 9/11 attack perfectly. They managed the media very well. The Indians tried to repeat the formula but goofed up. The idiots made a complete mess of it). He said that the attackers wore saffron Hindu Zionist bands, which no Muslim would tie. Hamid also said that within the first 5 minutes of the attack, the three ATS policemen investigating the network of terror within India's security agencies and radical right were killed. That ensured that those investigations reach a dead end. Anchor Qudsia Qadri added that with their killings, the investigations into the Samjhauta Express carnage would be halted. The killings also immediately shifted attention from India's domestic terrorists to Pakistan, said Hamid. CLIP

Mumbai: Where Are the 14 Other Pakistani-Trained Terrorists?
Len Tepper, Richard Esposito and Brian Ross, ABC News: "The lone gunman captured alive in Mumbai has told interrogators only 10 of the 24 young men in his year-long terrorist training course were sent to Mumbai last week, leaving 14 still in Pakistan, ready to strike again, law enforcement and security sources tell Security officials say they have been warned by Indian and US officials that a second attack on the Indian capital city of New Delhi is possible."

Pakistan warns India against over-reaction (30 NOVEMBER 2008)
Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari has warned India against any 'over-reaction' following the Mumbai terror attacks that killed 200 people. "Whoever is responsible for the brutal and crude act against the Indian people and India is looking for reaction," Zardari said in an interview on Saturday with Indian CNN-IBN television, adding that "We have to rise above them and make sure ourselves, yourself and world community guard against over-reaction." The president's remarks come after Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee said that initial evidence in the Mumbai attacks show the militants had links with Pakistan. Mukherjee urged Pakistan to dismantle the infrastructure that supports militants. Zardai also promised that he would take immediate and strong measures if proof was provided of Pakistani involvement. "Let me assure you that if any evidence points to any individual or any group in this part of the world, I shall take the strictest of action in the light of this evidence and in front of the world," he said. India has in the past accused elements in Pakistan of supporting militants battling against Indian rule in the disputed Kashmir region, and of complicity in bomb attacks elsewhere in India. The two nuclear-armed neighbors have fought three wars since gaining independence from Britain in 1947. Pakistan's top officials have condemned the attacks and promised full cooperation in fighting terrorism, however. The Mumbai terror attacks threaten to chill improving ties between Islamabad and New Delhi. Gunmen targeted several places across port city of Mumbai late Wednesday, killing 200 people and injuring 300 others.

The International Backers of the Mumbai Attacks (29 NOVEMBER 2008) HIGHLY SPECULATIVE VIEW!
ISLAMABAD: President Asif Ali Zardari has appealed to India not to punish his country for last week's attacks in Mumbai, saying militants have the power to precipitate a war in the region.In an interview with a British newspaper, President Zardari warned that provocation by rogue "non-state actors" posed the danger of a return to war between the nuclear-armed neighbours."Even if the militants are linked to Lashkar-e-Taiba, who do you think we are fighting?" asked Zardari. "We live in troubled times where non-state actors have taken us to war before, whether it is the case of those who perpetrated the 9/11 attacks on the United States or contributed to the escalation of the situation in Iraq," said Zardari."Now, events in Mumbai tell us that there are ongoing efforts to carry out copycat attacks by militants. We must all stand together to fight out this menace," he said.

Complete coverage of Mumbai terror attack - From India's perspective

Slideshow: Mumbai Terror Attacks (393 pictures);_ylt=AiJ.aCpWAlj8XznGd41Ti9Ss0NUE


Russian Professor Says U.S. Will Break Up After Economic Crisis - AMAZING that Bloomberg published this!!
Nov. 24 (Bloomberg) -- A professor at the diplomatic academy of Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the U.S. will break into six parts because of the nation’s financial crisis.“The dollar isn’t secured by anything,” Igor Panarin said in an interview transcribed by Russian newspaper Izvestia today. “The country’s foreign debt has grown like an avalanche; this is a pyramid, which has to collapse.”Panarin said in the interview that the financial crisis will worsen, unemployment will rise and people will lose their savings -- factors that will cause the country’s breakup.“Dissatisfaction is growing, and it is only being held back at the moment by the elections, and the hope” that President- elect Barack Obama “can work miracles,” he said. “But when spring comes, it will be clear that there are no miracles.”The U.S. will fracture into six parts: the Pacific coast; the South; Texas; the Atlantic coast, central states and the northern states.“Now we will see a change to the regulatory system on a global financial scale: America will cease to be the world’s regulator,” to be replaced by China and Russia, he said.

Home prices in record plunge (Nov 25, 2008)
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Prices of single-family homes plunged a record 17.4 percent in September from a year earlier, according to a key S&P index released on Tuesday.The composite index of 20 metropolitan areas fell 1.8 percent in September from August, according to the Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, and a co-developer of the index said rising unemployment makes the outlook for the hard-hit U.S. housing market even bleaker. S&P said in a statement that its composite index of 10 metropolitan areas declined 1.9 percent in September from August for an 18.6 percent year-over-year drop, also a record.Declines in home prices in most areas were greater in September than in August, S&P said. "This is a pretty gloomy report," Karl Case, co-developer of the index and a professor of economics at Wellesley College, said on a conference call following the release of the report.And because the Standard and Poor's S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices has not yet accounted for several important factors that have worsened in recent months, led by unemployment, the outlook is darkening further. "Unemployment is rising rapidly, a primary factor that causes foreclosures to rise and home prices to decline," Case said. "Plus, some people cannot even get a loan due to the credit crunch, so there are a lot of factors out there that have not even hit these home price numbers yet," he said. The U.S. housing market is currently suffering the worst downturn since the Great Depression. A huge supply of unsold homes, tighter lending standards and record foreclosures have pushed down home prices, deflating a bubble from the early part of this decade. CLIP

Financial Bailout Balloons to the Trillions (November 25, 2008)
The government's financial bailout will be the most expensive single expenditure in American history, potentially costing around $7.5 trillion -- or half the value of all the goods and services produced in the United States last year. In comparison, the total U.S. cost of World War II adjusted for inflation was $3.6 trillion. The bailout will cost more than the total combined costs in today's dollars of the Marshall Plan, the Louisiana Purchase, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and the entire historical budget of NASA, including the moon landing, according to data compiled by Bianco Research. It remains to be seen whether the government's multipronged approach to bail out banks, stimulate spending and buy up mortgages will revive the economy, but as the tab continues to grow so does concern over where the government will find the money. Monday the government guaranteed an additional $306 billion to bail out Citigroup, and today Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson pledged $800 billion to make credit more available to consumers and small businesses, and to buy up mortgages from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Congress last month allocated $700 billion for an emergency bailout of some of Wall Street's most storied firms by purchasing their troubled assets. The funds allocated through the Troubled Assets Relief Program are but a small part of the government's overall bailout spending. Bailout programs also include a Federal Reserve plan to buy as much as $2.4 trillion in short-term notes called commercial paper that began Oct. 27, and an FDIC plan to spend $1.4 trillion to guarantee bank-to-bank loans that commenced Oct. 14, according to Bloomberg News, which first compiled the total cost of the bailout. CLIP

What Really Happened in Washington? (November 18, 2008)
The G20 summit that brought together major industrialised and emergent countries in Washington on 15 November 2008 is a dismal failure. The international financial crisis is deep indeed, stock markets lost close to 40% of their capitalisation in October 2008, financial markets are awaiting decisions by the States in order to develop remedies against a dark future. The international media spotlights were on Washington for this mid-November weekend. And yet…Yet what happened in Washington? A sorry show, a script that lacks any credibility, but few spectators seem to care. In detective films it is seldom the case that the keys to the Court of Justice be given to arch criminals. Yet this is what the G20 summit is planning to do. (...) This G20 summit shows that lessons have not been learned. The old demons of the past are still with us. The IMF and the WB, though further delegitimised by the failure of the measures they have enforced for 25 years and by the governance crisis they have experienced over the last years (Paul Wolfowitz' forced resignation as president of the WB, Horst Köhler and Rodrigo Rato resigning from the IMF, the recent investigation concerning Dominique Strauss-Kahn at the IMF), are still at the heart of the proposed solutions. WTO negotiations aiming at even more economic deregulation, while we have just witnessed the utter failure of this policy, are again on the agenda. While IMF loans could no longer find clients, Hungary, Ukraine and Pakistan have volunteered. Contrary to denials by concerned institutions, the same intolerable conditionalities are still the order of the day: as counterpart for the latest loan Hungary had to decide, among other things, to suppress civil servants’ 13th month bonus and freeze their salaries. Japan even proposed to supply the IMF with USD 100 billion so that it could increase its loans and carry on its fateful activities. Moreover the meeting that was intended to find a global solution to the current crisis was not held in the context of the United Nations but in the limited context of the G20. So the very promoters of an unfair and unsustainable model are asked to rescue this model. The only solutions that were put forward protect the interests of major creditors. Populations and poor countries as usual were not consulted. CLIP

U.S. rescues Citi with $20 bln capital, guarantees
NEW YORK, Nov 24 (Reuters) - The U.S. government has bailed out Citigroup Inc, agreeing to shoulder most of the potential losses on $306 billion of high risk assets and inject $20 billion of new capital, in its biggest rescue of a bank yet.Citigroup's rescue marks the latest government effort to contain a widening financial meltdown that has caused the disappearance or bankruptcies of companies including Bear Stearns Cos, Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc and Washington Mutual Inc. The government's $20 billion of new capital comes on top of $25 billion it had put into the second-largest U.S. bank by assets, and it will receive preferred shares with an 8 percent dividend in return. Citigroup received the latest infusion after its shares plunged 60 percent last week to $3.77, amid worry it lacked enough capital to survive. The bank estimated $40 billion of capital benefits, partially from the government guarantee. In return for the bailout, Citigroup's dividend will be essentially wiped out. The bank cannot pay out more than 1 cent per share per quarter over the next three years without government consent. The quarterly dividend is now 16 cents."It looks enormous in size and scope," said Tony Morriss, senior currency strategist at ANZ Bank in Sydney. "Does this mean support for other financial institutions will be this big? Does this mean there will be more problems around calculation of so-called toxic assets?" Citigroup has the farthest international reach of any U.S. bank, with operations in more than 100 countries. The bank was widely perceived to be too big to be allowed to fail, because any collapse could cause financial havoc around the globe."To stabilize the equity, we had to put behind us the issue of Citigroup's ability to withstand whatever would come," Chief Financial Officer Gary Crittenden said in an interview. The New York-based bank will try to modify troubled mortgages in the $306 billion portfolio as the government tries to keep homeowners out of foreclosure. Chief Executive Vikram Pandit and other top management will keep their jobs despite the intervention, but the government will have the final say on executive pay packages. More details on compensation may come next week, government officials said. Not all investors were pleased. "You're seeing an inept management team being rewarded by the U.S. government," said William Smith, chief executive of Smith Asset Management in New York, which owns Citigroup stock. CLIP

Breakdown of the Global Monetary System by summer 2009 (November 17, 2008)!-Phase-IV-of-the-Global-Systemic-crisis-Breakdown-of-the-Global-Monetary-System-by-summer-2009_a2435.html
The G20-meeting held in Washington on November 14/15, 2008, is in its essence a historical indicator that the Western - above all Anglo-Saxon - monopoly on global economic and financial governance, is coming to an end. Nevertheless, according to LEAP/E2020, this meeting also clearly demonstrated that this kind of summits is doomed to inefficiency because they concentrate on curing the symptoms (banks’ and hedge funds’ financial difficulties, derivative markets’ explosion, financial and currency markets’ dramatic volatility, ...) rather than the fundamental root of the current crisis, i.e. the collapse of the Bretton Woods system based on the US Dollar as sole pillar of the global monetary system. Without a complete overhaul of the system inherited from 1944 by summer 2009, the failing of the current system and that of the United States at the center, will lead the whole planet to an unprecedented economic, social, political and strategic instability, and more specifically to a breakdown of the global monetary system by summer 2009.

Colossal Financial Collapse: The Truth behind the Citigroup Bank "Nationalization" (November 24, 2008)
On Friday November 21, the world came within a hair’s breadth of the most colossal financial collapse in history according to bankers on the inside of events with whom we have contact. The trigger was the bank which only two years ago was America’s largest, Citigroup. The size of the US Government de facto nationalization of the $2 trillion banking institution is an indication of shocks yet to come in other major US and perhaps European banks thought to be ‘too big to fail.’ The clumsy way in which US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, himself not a banker but a Wall Street ‘investment banker’, whose experience has been in the quite different world of buying and selling stocks or bonds or underwriting and selling same, has handled the unfolding crisis has been worse than incompetent. It has made a grave situation into a globally alarming one.‘Spitting into the wind’A case in point is the secretive manner in which Paulson has used the $700 billion in taxpayer funds voted him by a labile Congress in September. Early on, Paulson put $125 billion in the nine largest banks, including $10 billion for his old firm, Goldman Sachs. However, if we compare the value of the equity share that $125 billion bought with the market price of those banks’ stock, US taxpayers have paid $125 billion for bank stock that a private investor could have bought for $62.5 billion, according to a detailed analysis from Ron W. Bloom, economist with the US United Steelworkers union, whose members as well as pension fund face devastating losses were GM to fail. That means half of the public's money was a gift to Paulson’s Wall Street cronies. (...) The situation is so intertwined, with six US major banks holding the vast bulk of worldwide financial derivatives exposure, that the failure of a single major US financial institution could result in losses to the OTC derivatives market of $300-$400 billion, a new IMF working paper finds. What’s more, since such a failure would likely cause cascading failures of other institutions. Total global financial system losses could exceed another $1,500 billion according to an IMF study by Singh and Segoviano.The madness over a Detroit GM rescue dealThe health of Citigroup is not the only gripping crisis that must be dealt with. At this point, political and ideological bickering in the US Congress has so far prevented a simple emergency $25 billion loan extension to General Motors and other of the US Big Three automakers—Ford and Chrysler. The absurd spectacle of US Congressmen attacking the chairmen of the Big Three for flying to the emergency Congressional hearings on a rescue loan in their private company jets while largely ignoring the issue of consequences to the economy of a GM failure underscores the utter lack of touch with reality that has overwhelmed Washington in recent years.For GM to go into bankruptcy risks a disaster of colossal proportions. CLIP

U.S. Pledges Top $7.7 Trillion to Ease Frozen Credit (Nov. 24)
(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. government is prepared to provide more than $7.76 trillion on behalf of American taxpayers after guaranteeing $306 billion of Citigroup Inc. debt yesterday. The pledges, amounting to half the value of everything produced in the nation last year, are intended to rescue the financial system after the credit markets seized up 15 months ago. The unprecedented pledge of funds includes $3.18 trillion already tapped by financial institutions in the biggest response to an economic emergency since the New Deal of the 1930s, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The commitment dwarfs the plan approved by lawmakers, the Treasury Department‚s $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program. Federal Reserve lending last week was 1,900 times the weekly average for the three years before the crisis. When Congress approved the TARP on Oct. 3, Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson acknowledged the need for transparency and oversight. Now, as regulators commit far more money while refusing to disclose loan recipients or reveal the collateral they are taking in return, some Congress members are calling for the Fed to be reined in. CLIP

Obama, Democrats Plan $700 Billion Stimulus
Lori Montgomery, The Washington Post: "Facing an increasingly ominous economic outlook, President-elect Barack Obama and other Democrats are rapidly ratcheting up plans for a massive fiscal stimulus program that could total as much as $700 billion over the next two years. That amount, more than the nation has spent over the past six years in Iraq, would rival the sum Congress committed last month to rescuing the country's financial system. It would also be one of the biggest public spending programs aimed at jolting the economy since President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal."

Obama to the Economic Rescue: Is He Picking the Best Team? (November 25, 2008)
Three weeks after the election, the markets are rallying behind the president-elect's picks for his administration's top economic posts. In an irony that has not escaped observers critical of the selections, yesterday's appointment of two protégés of former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin was announced along with a $300 billion federal bailout of Citigroup, the failed financial giant that has become the latest symbol of the eponymous and thoroughly discredited economic philosophy known as Rubinomics. For those hoping for a progressive transformational presidency, the tapping of Timothy Geithner for treasury secretary and Larry Summers to advise the White House on economic policy is cause for serious concern. Will continuity, more than the promised change, define the Obama administration's thinking as it confronts the economic crisis? In a New York Times article describing how a "virtual Rubin constellation is taking shape" in the incoming administration, the liberal economist Robert Kuttner spoke for many when he asked, "Where is the diversity of opinion in this economic team? What worries me is there is not one person in the senior group who is the outsider to this club." Relax, say others. Policy, not personnel, is what matters, and so far the major policy signals coming from the Obama team are blinking in the right direction. In Saturday's radio address, the president-elect called for creating 2.5 million jobs by 2011 through heavy deficit-spending on public infrastructure, modernizing the auto industry and developing clean energy. He also praised the decision to extend unemployment benefits and has continued laying the groundwork for an early and successful push for universal health care. CLIP

The world according to derivatives, part 6 of 7: Den of thieves, house of cards (Nov 20, 2008)
JP Morgan Chase: THE MOTHER of all crooks!
(...) The end result, as Chossudovsky suggests, is that “Federal, State and municipal governments are increasingly in a straightjacket, under the tight control of the global financial conglomerates [where] the creditors call the shots on government reform.” (Who Are the Architects of the Economic Collapse? Michel Chossudovsky)Because of this rather undemocratic and peculiar set of circumstances it is not unreasonable to conclude that a relatively small handful of select groups and individuals, together with their dealers and financial managers, are able to exert hitherto unimaginable influence over whole economies, governments, and even world events, not the least of which is the current economic crisis. This becomes particularly obvious in view of the explosive growth of the world wide derivatives trade which went from approximately $100 trillion in 2002 to a very shakily estimated $681 trillion by the end of 2007. No one knows the extent of leveraging that went into that estimated $681 trillion, but even assuming the more conservative -- and traditional 10 to 1 debt-to-asset ratio, this means that potentially some $600 trillion could disappear from the world’s economy. This is due to the fact that collapsing debt means a collapsing money supply, since money is created when banks extend credit through what are loosely termed loanable funds. (...) The current credit crisis, caused by the unwinding of “bad asset” derivatives, is the most evident example of this financial marriage as governments and central banks are called upon to intervene -- and regulate, while taxpayers are called upon to foot the bill for losses incurred in the global casino, where only a select few can enter and signs of corruption are painstakingly overlooked. How much longer can this fragile house of cards be propped up through abject fear and a total lack of understanding of alternatives? How much longer will ordinary citizens and their elected officials tolerate increasingly obscene levels of wealth redistribution and outright thievery in their midst? A case in point is JP Morgan Chase, for whom Christmas indeed seems to have come early this year. The first Christmas present came in mid-March in the form of the privately arranged, emergency takeover of the highly respected, privately owned Bear Stearns by the highly respected, privately owned JP Morgan. This takeover was, as you may recall, facilitated by the Fed and the largess of the American taxpayer -- one of many such “deals” in which taxpayers are increasingly getting the short end of the stick. (...) So we might ask, what is the difference between JP Morgan, Enron, Carlyle Capital, LTCM and Bears Stearns -- or for that matter Washington Mutual and Lehman Brothers? Why did our government and the Fed see fit to ignore signs of conflicts of interest and malfeasance on the part of JP Morgan and facilitate the takeover or rescue of Bear Stearns, Washington Mutual and LTCM, while Carlyle Capital, Lehman Brothers and Enron were allowed to implode? Certainly all were very highly leveraged, and all were heavily involved in the mortgage securities/derivatives market. Could the difference simply be the counter parties involved?Whatever the case, it is more than a little problematic that Bear Stearns, Carlyle Capitol and JP Morgan all had leverage ratios of about 32 to 1 (according to published estimates) at the time of the Bear Stearns crisis. Worse still is the nagging suspicion that the implied derivatives leverage on equity may have been far, far greater than what has been reported. (JPM Derivatives Monster Grows, Adam Hamilton )JP Morgan is of course still standing, but both it and other financial institutions -- including the giant government-sponsored entities Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac -- have required massive amounts of taxpayer assistance and perhaps not a small amount of favoritism to boot. How many more such rescues remain in the pipeline is almost too chilling a thought to contemplate -- particularly if you happen to be a taxpayer. Hopefully sooner rather than later, we might actually get some answers to some very troubling questions, beginning with why it is that “[t]he Federal Reserve is refusing to identify the recipients of almost $2 trillion of emergency loans from American taxpayers or the troubled assets the central bank is accepting as collateral . . .”(Fed Defies Transparency Aim in Refusal to Disclose, Mark Pittman, Bob Ivry and Alison Fitzgerald) CLIP

Citigroup says gold could rise above $2,000 next year as world unravels (27 Nov 2008)
Gold is poised for a dramatic surge and could blast through $2,000 an ounce by the end of next year as central banks flood the world's monetary system with liquidity, according to an internal client note from the US bank Citigroup. -- The bank said the damage caused by the financial excesses of the last quarter century was forcing the world's authorities to take steps that had never been tried before.This gamble was likely to end in one of two extreme ways: with either a resurgence of inflation; or a downward spiral into depression, civil disorder, and possibly wars. Both outcomes will cause a rush for gold."They are throwing the kitchen sink at this," said Tom Fitzpatrick, the bank's chief technical strategist."The world is not going back to normal after the magnitude of what they have done. When the dust settles this will either work, and the money they have pushed into the system will feed though into an inflation shock." Or it will not work because too much damage has already been done, and we will see continued financial deterioration, causing further economic deterioration, with the risk of a feedback loop. We don't think this is the more likely outcome, but as each week and month passes, there is a growing danger of vicious circle as confidence erodes," he said."This will lead to political instability. We are already seeing countries on the periphery of Europe under severe stress. Some leaders are now at record levels of unpopularity. There is a risk of domestic unrest, starting with strikes because people are feeling disenfranchised." "What happens if there is a meltdown in a country like Pakistan, which is a nuclear power. People react when they have their backs to the wall. We're already seeing doubts emerge about the sovereign debts of developed AAA-rated countries, which is not something you can ignore," he said.Gold traders are playing close attention to reports from Beijing that the China is thinking of boosting its gold reserves from 600 tonnes to nearer 4,000 tonnes to diversify away from paper currencies. "If true, this is a very material change," he said. Mr Fitzpatrick said Britain had made a mistake selling off half its gold at the bottom of the market between 1999 to 2002. "People have started to question the value of government debt," he said.Citigroup said the blast-off was likely to occur within two years, and possibly as soon as 2009. Gold was trading yesterday at $812 an ounce. It is well off its all-time peak of $1,030 in February but has held up much better than other commodities over the last few months – reverting to is historical role as a safe-haven store of value and a de facto currency. Gold has tripled in value over the last seven years, vastly outperforming Wall Street and European bourses.

Chinese Automakers may buy GM and Chrysler
Chinese carmakers SAIC and Dongfeng have plans to acquire GM and Chrysler, China’s 21st Century Business Herald reports. LINK A National Enquirer the paper is not. It is one of China's leading business newspapers, with a daily readership over three million]. This newspaper cites a senior official of China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology– the state regulator of China’s auto industry– who dropped the hint that “the auto manufacturing giants in China, such as Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC) and Dongfeng Motor Corporation, have the capability and intention to buy some assets of the two crisis-plagued American automakers.” These hints are very often followed with quick action in the Middle Kingdom. The hints were dropped just a few days after the same Chinese government gave its auto makers the go-ahead to invest abroad. And why would they do that?A take-over of a large overseas auto maker would fit perfectly into China’s plans. As reported before, China has realized that its export chances are slim without unfettered access to foreign technology. The brand cachet of Chinese cars abroad is, shall we say, challenged. The Chinese could easily export Made-in-China VWs, Toyotas, Buicks. If their joint venture partner would let them. The solution: Buy the joint venture partner. Especially, when he’s in deep trouble. At current market valuations (GM is worth less than Mattel) the Chinese government can afford to buy GM with petty cash. Even a hundred billion $ would barely dent China’s more than $2t in currency reserves. For nobody in the world would buying GM and (while they are at it) Chrysler make more sense than for the Chinese. Overlap? What overlap? They would gain instant access to the world’s markets with accepted brands, and proven technology. CLIP

General Motors to Invest $1 Billion in Brazil Operations -- Money to Come from U.S. Rescue Program
Latin American Herald Tribune staffGeneral Motors plans to invest $1 billion in Brazil to avoid the kind of problems the U.S. automaker is facing in its home market, said the beleaguered car maker.According to the president of GM Brazil-Mercosur, Jaime Ardila, the funding will come from the package of financial aid that the manufacturer will receive from the U.S. government and will be used to "complete the renovation of the line of products up to 2012." CLIP

Legislators taking hard look at oil trading (November 26, 2008)
For a few months this summer, the oil market speculator ... helped push oil prices steadily higher, shattering records that had lasted for decades. As oil topped $145 per barrel, Congress started looking for ways to rein the speculators in. Then oil prices plunged, and interest in the issue fizzled. But that may soon change. "This will remain an issue," said Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., who introduced oil market legislation this year. "Because when the price of oil has gone from $50 to $147 and back, it's clear to me and everyone else that this has nothing to do with supply and demand. It has to do with speculation." Among possible changes, Congress may try to assert more authority over unregulated oil swaps that don't take place on any formal market. Many factors helped shove prices higher, including the growth of China's economy and the decline of the American dollar. But oil kept rising even as gasoline sales fell in the United States, the world's largest oil consumer. That wouldn't have happened if supply and demand really were driving the market, many analysts say. "The entire move from $70 (per barrel) to $147 was people fleeing the dollar and looking at oil as an asset class," said Amy Myers Jaffe, an energy research fellow at Rice University's Baker Institute. "It was speculators, so when they exited the market, we went right back to $70." Speculators are investors who trade in oil or other commodities strictly as a financial investment. They include hedge funds and investment banks as well as retirement funds. CLIP

Gift cards tagged with doubt (November 19, 2008),0,2998854.column
When you're looking to quickly scratch a few names off your Christmas list, those gift-card trees at the grocery store sure are tempting.But with retailers struggling this holiday season, and big names like Circuit City closing stores and filing for bankruptcy protection, some consumer advocates warn that store gift cards are the gifts that may stop giving. If you buy a gift card from a retailer that goes bankrupt, it's uncertain when, or if, it can be redeemed, experts say. CLIP Partial list of stores that will close down in Beware of Gift Cards this Holiday Season

Starving for Change
Chris Hedges, Truthdig: "The swelling numbers waiting outside homeless shelters and food pantries around the country, many of them elderly or single women with children, have grown by at least 30 percent since the summer. General welfare recipients receive $140 a month in cash and another $140 in food stamps. This is all many in Trenton and other impoverished areas have to live on. There are now 36.2 million Americans who cope daily with hunger, up by more than 3 million since 2000, according to the Food Research and Action Center in Washington, DC. The number of people in the worst-off category - the hungriest - rose by 40 percent since 2000, to nearly 12 million people."

Thousands pick up free vegetables on Colo. farm (Nov 23) Wonderful giveaway!;_ylt=AgV_m5bj6qo7.KFRWGpt3e2s0NUE
PLATTEVILLE, Colo. - A farm couple got a huge surprise when they opened their fields to anyone who wanted to pick up free vegetables left over after the harvest - 40,000 people showed up.Joe and Chris Miller's fields were picked so clean Saturday that a second day of gleaning - the ancient practice of picking up leftover food in farm fields - was canceled Sunday. "Overwhelmed is putting it mildly," Chris Miller said. "People obviously need food."She said she expected 5,000 to 10,000 people would show up Saturday to collect free potatoes, carrots and leeks. Instead, an estimated 11,000 vehicles snaked around cornfields and backed up more than two miles. About 30 acres of the 600-acre farm 37 miles north of Denver became a parking lot. Some people parked their cars along two nearby highways to take to the field with sacks, wagons and barrels. "Everybody is so depressed about the economy," said Sandra Justice of Greeley, who works at a technology company. "This was a pure party.Everybody having a a great time getting something for free."Justice and her mother and son picked 10 bags of vegetables.Miller said they opened the farm to the free public harvest for the first time this year after hearing reports of food being stolen from churches. It was meant as a thank you for customers. Farm operations manager Dave Patterson said that in previous years the Millers allowed schoolchildren and some church groups to come to the farm during the fall to harvest their own food. He estimated some 600,000 pounds of produce was harvested Saturday. Weld County sheriff's deputies helped direct traffic and the Colorado State Patrol issued citations for cars illegally parked on the side of the road.

Left Out of the Bailout: The Poor (Nov 25, 2008)
As the roster of corporations and financial institutions in line for government bailouts seems to grow, some public-policy advocates in Washington are calling on policymakers to focus more efforts on the nation's poorest. The ranks of the destitute are growing quietly but alarmingly as much of the world focuses on troubles surrounding Wall Street. "Recent data show poverty is already rising quite substantially," says Robert Greenstein, executive director of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. "There is a strong potential for more hardship and destitution than we have seen in this country in a number of decades."Greenstein's center released a new study on Monday projecting a sharp rise in the number of people living below the poverty line, which is roughly $21,200 annually for a family of four, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. An estimated 36.5 million Americans currently live below the poverty line, but those numbers will probably increase by as many as 10.3 million if current projections for the depth and duration of the recession hold true. According to the center's analysis, the number of poor children will grow by as many as 3.3 million. And the number of children in deep poverty, those in families living on less than half the wages of the official poverty line, will climb by as many as 2 million. CLIP

Disposable Youth in a Suspect Society: A Challenge for the Obama Administration (25 November 2008)
While there is little question that the United States - with its burgeoning police state, its infamous title as the world leader in jailing its own citizens, and its history of foreign and domestic 'torture factories' - has moved into lockdown (and lockout) mode both at home and abroad, it is a mistake to assume that the Bush administration is solely responsible for transforming the United States to the degree that it has now become unrecognizable to itself as a democratic nation. Such claims risk reducing the serious social ills now plaguing the United States to the reactionary policies of the Bush regime - a move which allows for complacency in light of the potentially inflated hopes raised by Barack Obama's successful bid for the presidency. What the United States has become in the last decade suggests less of a rupture than an intensification of a number of already existing political, economic, and social forces that since the late 1970s have unleashed the repressive anti-democratic tendencies lurking beneath the damaged heritage of democratic ideals. What marks the present state of American "democracy" is the uniquely bipolar nature of the degenerative assault on the body politic, which combines elements of unprecedented greed and fanatical capitalism with a new kind of politics more ruthless and savage in its willingness to abandon - even vilify - those individuals and groups now rendered disposable within "new geographies of exclusion and landscapes of wealth" [2] that mark the neoliberal new world order. Nowhere is this assault more evident than in what might be called the "war on youth," a war that not only attempts to erase the democratic legacies of the past, but disavows any commitment to the future. (...) The hard currency of human suffering that impacts children is evident in some astounding statistics that suggest a profound moral and political contradiction at the heart of our culture: for example, the rate of child poverty is currently at 17.4 percent, boosting the number of poor children to 13 million. In addition, about one in three severely poor people are under age 17. Moreover, children make up 26 percent of the total population but constitute an astounding 39 percent of the poor. Just as alarming as this is the fact that 9.4 million children in America lack health insurance and millions lack affordable child care and decent early childhood education. Sadly, the United States ranks first in billionaires and defense expenditures and yet ranks an appalling twenty-fifth in infant mortality. As we might expect, behind these grave statistics lies a series of decisions that favor economically those already advantaged at the expense of the young. Savage cuts to education, nutritional assistance for impoverished mothers, veterans' medical care, and basic scientific research, are often cynically administered to help fund tax cuts for the already inordinately rich. (...) The Bush administration not only waged a war against youth, especially poor youth of color, it also offered no apologies because it was too arrogant and ruthless to imagine any resistance. For many young people, the future looks bleak, filled with the promise of low-paying, low-skilled jobs, the collapse of the welfare state, and, if you are a person of color and poor, the threat of either unemployment or incarceration. Youth have disappeared from the concerns of many adults, and certainly from the policies that have been hatched in Washington during the last twenty years. In his acceptance speech, President-elect Obama raised the issue of what kind of country young people would inherit if they lived to see the next century. The question provides an opening for taking the Obama administration seriously with regard to its commitment to young people. Young people need access to decent schools with more teachers; they need universal health care; they need food, decent housing, job training programs, and guaranteed employment. In other words, we need social movements that take seriously the challenge of dismantling the punishing state and reviving the social state so as to be able to provide young people not with incarceration and contempt, but with dignity and those economic, political, and social conditions that ensure they have a decent future. Surely, this is an issue that the Obama administration should be pushed to recognize and address. CLIP

Observers cite Clinton's human rights commitment (Dec 2, 2008),0,1653448.story
It was a startling speech coming from a first lady - indeed, Hillary Rodham Clinton's 1995 speech at the United Nations Conference for Women in Beijing is credited as a watershed moment."It is a violation of human rights when babies are denied food, or drowned, or suffocated, or their spines broken, simply because they are born girls," the first lady told the international gathering. "... It is a violation of human rights when women are doused with gasoline, set on fire and burned to death because their marriage dowries are deemed too small."Clinton's support for the Iraq war resolution probably cost her the presidency and left some Democrats grumbling that Barack Obama has abandoned his principles in naming her secretary of state. But Clinton's "women's rights are human rights" speech, and her work on international women's rights and rural development causes, may make her the cabinet member who has the most in common with Obama's own mother, Ann Dunham, an early champion of the same kinds of projects advancing women's economic development and microcredit for the poor. Obama has argued that national security is embedded in human security, and that promoting social and economic development may often be as important a guarantor of peace as a strong military. "They completely understand each other," said Ellen Chesler, director of the Eleanor Roosevelt Initiative at Hunter College and a longtime Clinton friend. "He [Obama] understands the issue of advancing women's status in the world because he grew up with that." The Clintons' star power and old friendships will certainly give Hillary clout in her meetings with foreign heads of state. But human rights advocates say it is her relentless plugging away on behalf of the unglamorous and invisible that has made her the world's most admired woman in a dozen Gallup polls, a person whose portrait may be spied in remote south Indian hovels and the steppes of Asia. "I was in Nicaragua last week on vacation with my kids, and people were talking about [Clinton's appointment] everywhere we went," said Rep. James McGovern, a Massachusetts Democrat and early Clinton supporter who co-chairs the House human rights commission. Her appointment, he said, signals that Obama intends to restore the U.S. role as a compassionate voice for human rights. "This is a big deal around the world, and it just changes everything, instantly." CLIP

RIGHTS-US: No Amnesty for Cheney et al, Say Torture Opponents
WASHINGTON, Nov 25 (IPS) - Judging by the rare leaks from President-elect Barack Obama's transition team, investigations and prosecutions of high-level George W. Bush administration officials for torture and war crimes are a distant prospect. But likely or not, that won't stop pundits from debating the question of whether those officials responsible should be held accountable.Irrespective of whether Vice President Dick Cheney, former Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld or others are dragged before juries, one glaring change seems absolutely certain: Obama stands unequivocally against torture, and the practice is likely to come to an end under his administration. (...) "If Obama really wants to make sure we don't torture, he has to launch a criminal investigation," said Ratner, the author of "The Trial of Donald Rumsfeld: A Prosecution in Book." He said that the targets of such an investigation would be the easily identifiable "key players" and "principals" in the Bush administration who hatched plans to allow and legally justify harsh interrogation methods that critics allege are torture, including the controversial "waterboarding" simulated drowning technique. Those pursued, said Ratner, would include high-ranking administration officials such as Cheney, Rumsfeld, and former Central Intelligence Agency chief George Tenet, as well as the legal team that drummed up what is now regarded as a sloppy legal justification for torture. (...) If the characters behind the questionable techniques are not held accountable for violating U.S. and international laws, said Ratner, presidents after Obama may simply say, "well, in the name of national security I can just redo what Obama just put in place. I can go torture again." Ratner also spoke to the concern that, from the view of the rest of the world, "to not do an investigation and prosecution gives the impression of impunity." CLIP

Closing Gitmo Is Just the Beginning (November 19, 2008)
Building US credibility on human rights will be a long-term project - and closing Guantánamo might just be the easy bit -- During his first television interview after winning the White House, president-elect Barack Obama reiterated his long-standing promise to shut Guantánamo Bay. Since the historic vote, legal and policy circles, journalists and human rights activists have hummed about when and how the notorious prison's doors will slam shut once and for all, and what will happen to some 250 detainees still held there. While the incoming president and his team are right to put Guantánamo at the top of their priority list, when it comes to restoring American leadership on human rights, closing the prison is only a first step.Guantánamo has become an emblem of the erosion of US legitimacy on human rights issues over the last eight years. Because it is under direct US control, is near US shores and has been the site of abusive interrogations and years of indefinite detention without charge, the prison has been a focal point for public outrage both at home and abroad. (...) Realistically it could be months – many months – before the legal disposition of every last detainee is resolved, and the facility shuttered. In the meantime, it is essential that the new administration look well beyond Guantánamo and begin to confront an array of other issues that are essential to restoring a leadership role for the US on human rights. The most basic involve ensuring that the abuses with which Guantánamo has become synonymous do not outlast the prison itself. There have been wide calls for an executive order that would apply rules on interrogations set forth in the US army's field manual to all US personnel, including the CIA. The new president should also end renditions – forced transfers – of detainees to countries where they face risk of torture, and close permanently the shadowy network of secret prisons where detainees are effectively "disappeared". Bagram air base in Afghanistan holds some 600 detainees. While many were captured on battlefields in Afghanistan, others were picked up from their homes, far from the main areas of the insurgency, and at least a handful were apparently brought there from elsewhere to be held indefinitely without charge. The prisoners lack access to legal counsel, and because the facility is on Afghan territory, the US justice department has argued that US habeas rights do not apply. Devising a fair process to adjudicate the status of these detainees will be essential to ensuring that Bagram is not the next Guantánamo. CLIP

Weapons Come Second: Can Obama Take On the Pentagon?
Frida Berrigan, "Even saddled with a two-front, budget-busting war and a collapsing economy, President-elect Barack Obama may be able to accomplish a lot. With a friendly Congress and a relieved world, he could make short work of some of the most egregious overreaches of the Bush White House - from Guantanamo to those presidential signing statements. For all the rolling up of sleeves and 'everything is going to change' exuberance, however, taking on the Pentagon, with its mega-budget and its mega-power, may be the hardest task he faces."

Major Shifts at Pentagon Anticipated in Obama Administration
(...) Although President-elect Barack Obama's decision to keep Robert M. Gates at the helm of the Pentagon will provide a measure of continuity for a military fighting two wars, many of Gates's top deputies are expected to depart their jobs, according to senior defense and transition officials. CLIP

Historic Signing of Cluster Munitions Treaty
(...) This was the result of an extraordinary mobilization of state and non-state actors. In Oslo's City Hall this morning ... over 100 countries signed the Cluster Munitions Convention. Notably absent were producers, such as the United States, Russia, China, Pakistan and even Israel. CLIP

JFK Episode Suggests Obama's Iraq Plan at Risk
WASHINGTON, Nov 27 (IPS) - The decision by President-elect Barack Obama to keep Robert M. Gates on as defence secretary has touched off a debate over whether Obama can pursue his commitment to rapid withdrawal from Iraq even though Gates has defended George W. Bush's surge policy and opposed Obama's 16-month timetable for withdrawal.Obama did not explicitly address Iraq at a press conference Wednesday, saying only that he would "provide a vision" on foreign policy and "make sure that my team is implementing" it. The appointments, which will be formally announced Monday, are expected to include Gates and Gen. James Jones as national security advisor, who has also been critical of Obama's withdrawal timetable. But the one historical precedent of a president seeking to get an unwilling military to go along with a presidential troop withdrawal plan suggests that Obama will be unable to implement his plan for Iraq without the defence secretary and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff fully on board. That is the lesson of President John F. Kennedy's effort in 1962 and 1963 to get the U.S. military commanders in Vietnam to adopt a plan for withdrawal of U.S. troops from South Vietnam by the end of 1965 -- the only other historical case of a president who tried to pursue a timetable for rapid withdrawal of combat troops from a war against the wishes of field commanders. Obama, like Kennedy, is an extraordinarily self-confident leader, and he may well believe that he can impose his Iraq policy on a national security team that is not sympathetic to it. He reportedly made it clear to CENTCOM commander Gen. David Petraeus in a face-to-face meeting in Baghdad last July that he would not bow to military pressures to alter his plan, based on Iraq-centred concerns. But the little-known story of Kennedy's timetable for U.S. withdrawal from South Vietnam underlines the critical importance to a president of having his two top national security officials on board in order to have any chance of prevailing over the resistance of commanders in the field. (...) Frustrated by the military's resistance, Kennedy sent McNamara and Taylor to Vietnam with the understanding that they would return with a recommendation for the plan for withdrawal by the end of 1965 as well as an initial withdrawal of 1,000 troops. Kennedy then maneuvered to have his entire National Security Council endorse their recommendation on Oct. 3, 1963, despite the fact that key NSC officials, including National Security Adviser McGeorge Bundy, opposed the plan. Taylor then directed the military command to bring its planning into line with the previous McNamara proposal for withdrawal of all but 680 advisers. But six weeks later, Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, and within weeks the military began to reverse the commitment to Kennedy's plan. CLIP

Gates: Military Looking at Quicker Iraq Withdrawal
(...) Defense Secretary Robert Gates signaled a willingness yesterday to forge ahead with two key priorities for the incoming Obama administration: accelerating the US withdrawal from Iraq and shutting down the Guantanamo Bay detention center. As the only Republican Cabinet member asked to stay on by President-elect Barack Obama, Gates told reporters that military commanders are looking at ways to more quickly pull troops out of Iraq in light of the 16-month timetable that was a centerpiece of the Democrat's campaign. CLIP

Pentagon to reserve 20,000 troops for domestic emergencies (1 Dec 2008)
WASHINGTON: The US Department of Defense plans to deploy 20,000 troops nationwide by 2011 to help state and local officials respond to terror or nuclear attacks and emergencies, The Washington Post said on Monday. Citing Pentagon officials, the newspaper said the plan calls for three rapid-reaction forces. The first 4,700-strong unit, built around an active-duty combat brigade, is based at Fort Stewart, Georgia, and is already available for deployment, according to General Victor Renuart, commander of the US Northern Command, it said. Two additional groups will later join nearly 80 smaller National Guard and reserve units made up of about 6,000 troops to support local and state authorities nationwide, The Post said. They will all would be trained to respond to domestic chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, or high-yield explosive attacks. The newpaper said that civil liberties groups and libertarians had expressed concern that the plan could undermine the Posse Comitatus Act, a 130-year-old law restricting the military's role in domestic law enforcement.

Sci-Fi Ray Gun Debuts in Iraq (November 21, 2008)
I tremble to type this, but here goes: The ray gun has finally become a reality. At least that's what the Economist reports. It says a "directed-energy weapon" named Zeus (presumably because of his fondness for hurling lightning bolts) has been deployed in the back of a Humvee in Iraq. It's being tested by soldiers who are using its laser beam to detonate roadside bombs from a safe distance of 300 meters. This is astonishing news, at least to those of us who have been following the ray gun's history since it was popularized by H.G. Wells‚ 1898 novel, "The War of the Worlds." From the ray guns of Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon to the phasers and blasters of Star Trek and Star Wars, the weaponry of the future was conspicuously bullet-free. Among futurists purporting to be writing non-fiction, ray-gun technology always seemed to be just around the corner without ever arriving.Yet now, if the Zeus prototype works in Iraq, a dozen more will introduced within a year, according to the Econom- for once, a good military acronym) for blowing up incoming shells and rockets with laser beams. Boeing is working on a similar weapon, and a consortium of companies is developing an airborne laser strong enough to disable missiles from several hundred kilometers away.And there's also been testing of a smaller, non-lethal weapon using "a focused beam of millimeter waves to induce an intolerable heating sensation on an adversary's skin," as my colleague Tom Zeller Jr. reported in The Lede. CLIP

Russia building missiles to counter US space defences (Dec 1, 2008)
MOSCOW, (AFP) - Russia is developing missiles designed to avoid being hit by space-based missile defence systems that could be deployed by the United States, a top Russian general was quoted as saying Monday. "Development is now under way on the combat outfitting of missiles whose flight falls outside the range of space-based missile defence systems," Nikolai Solovtsov, the commander of Russia's missile forces, told Interfax news agency.Solovtsov called the project a countermeasure to what he described as US plans to deploy weapons in space, according to Interfax."Judging by an analysis of US work in new weapons development and creation, they truly see space as a potential sphere for armed conflict and in connection with this are not withdrawing from plans to place weapons in space," he said.He also said Russia was "perfecting the structure and makeup" of its missile forces in response to a planned US land-based missile shield, a controversial project that has provoked furious reactions from Moscow.Solvtsov said the steps would include deployment of RS-24 intercontinental missiles, designed to overcome systems such as the US missile shield.In recent months Moscow has sharply criticised Washington's plans to put an anti-missile radar facility in the Czech Republic and interceptor missiles in Poland, despite US assurances that the system is not directed against Russia.Russia has also reacted warily to US moves that it has seen as contributing to the militarisation of outer space under the hawkish administration of President George W. Bush.In February, when the US military was planning to shoot down a rogue US spy satellite, Russia's defence ministry said the plans looked like a veiled weapons test and an "attempt to move the arms race into space."That month Russia and China proposed a new treaty banning the use of weapons in space, but the idea was rejected by the White House.

U.S. would control profits from Iraqi oil exports under agreement (Nov 24, 2008)
There’s been no shortage of controversy surrounding what has been termed the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) between the governments of the United States and Iraq. After battling away for most of the year at what the terms of the agreement should be, the text was at last finalized this month. The terms of the agreement effectively allow the U.S. to continue to control billions of dollars of proceeds from the sale of exported Iraqi oil held in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. It also contains numerous loopholes that could allow the continuing long-term presence of U.S. military forces and would effectively maintain U.S. jurisdiction over crimes committed by American soldiers. Iraq’s cabinet approved the agreement a week ago with 27 members voting in favor, out of 28 ministers who were present, with nine ministers absent. It is now being debated in the Parliament.Abdul Qadir al-Obaidi, Iraq’s minister of defense, issued a dire warning that without the agreement and continued presence of U.S. forces, “then what happened in the Gulf of Aden will happen in the Arabian Gulf too. Pirates will start in these ports in a way you can’t even imagine.” Governments often use fear tactics to push through controversial legislation. Before the U.S. invasion, members of the Congress were told that if they didn’t authorize the president to use military force against Iraq, Saddam Hussein might attack the east coast of the United States with biological weapons from unmanned aerial vehicles, for example. More recently, members of Congress were warned that if they did not pass the highly unpopular bill taking taxpayers’ dollars to bail out banking and investment corporations, there would be martial law in America.While painting an imaginary threat to frighten the public into supporting the agreement, Obaidi criticized opponents as being conspiracy theorists. The New York Times reported Sunday that Obaidi “batted down conspiracy theories about the agreement,” theories fueled by “anti-American Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr” about “the existence of secret deals for a longer American presence.” CLIP

The Voices of Rongelap: Cautionary Tales From a Nuclear War Zone (November 21 / 23, 2008)
(...) What words can possibly communicate what it is like to see and survive such sights? To become increasingly fearful that the intense beauty of your world-the water, the sand, the plants, the soil, the sea, and all the creatures within-has been fundamentally transformed by invisible, untouchable, all-encompassing poison? After years and years of living in a radioactive laboratory as the subject of scrutiny and study, what does it mean to find your fears confirmed-that your favorite foods are taboo, that your loved ones grow old before their time and your children fail to thrive? What does it mean to "survive" downwind from the the United States proving grounds - where nuclear war was practiced and perfected by Cold War warriors?In 1946, after evacuating the people of Bikini and nearby atoll communities in the Marshall Islands, the United States detonated two atomic weapons: the same type of bomb that was dropped on Nagasaki in 1945. In 1947 the United Nations designated the Marshall Islands a United States Trust Territory. Over the next eleven years, this U.S. territory played host to another sixty-five atmospheric atomic and thermonuclear tests. The largest of these tests, code named Bravo, was detonated on March 1, 1954. This 15-megaton hydrogen bomb was purposefully exploded close to the ground. It melted huge quantities of coral atoll, sucking it up and mixing it with radiation released by the weapon before depositing it on the islands and inhabitants in the form of ash, or radioactive fallout. The wind was blowing that morning in the direction of inhabited atolls, including Rongelap and Utrik, some 100 and 300 miles from the test site at Bikini. The Marshallese communities on Rongelap, Ailinginae, and Utrik atolls, U.S. servicemen on Rongerik Atoll (weathermen who were monitoring winds and fallout), and the twenty-three-man crew of the Japanese fishing vessel Fukuryu Maru (Lucky Dragon) received near-lethal doses of radiation from the Bravo event.

(...) Atmospheric nuclear weapons tests released numerous radioisotopes and dangerous heavy metals. An estimated 2 percent of the radioactive fallout was iodine-131, a highly radioactive isotope with an 8-day half-life. The nuclear war games conducted by the United States in the Marshall Islands released some 8 billion curies of iodine-131. To place this figure in broader context, over the entire history of nuclear weapons testing at the Nevada Proving Grounds, some 150 million curies of iodine-131 were released, and varying analyses of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster estimate an iodine-131 release of 40 to 54 million curies. Much of the iodine-131 released in the Marshall Islands was the by-product of the March 1, 1954, Bravo test detonation of the hydrogen bomb. Designed to produce and contain as much radioactive fallout in the immediate area as possible, in order to create laboratory-like conditions, Bravo unleashed as much explosive yield as one thousand Hiroshima-sized bombs. Communities living downwind from the blast, especially the Rongelap community, were acutely exposed to its fallout.

(...) The Rongelap study was structured in ways that required the involvement of children from other atolls, especially children in the southern part of the nation. Such involvement extended over decades. Control subjects were selected at the direction of authorities. Being singled out resulted in social stigmatization (people were shunned because of the social perception that all people studied by the medical survey team were damaged by radiation). Control subject experiences included thorough examinations with photographs and x-rays; measurement of internal radiation with whole-body counters; the sampling of blood, bone marrow, skin, and other tissue; and, on a number of occasions, the injection of radioisotopes, vaccines, and other nonexplained substances. The experience of serving as a research control was intrusive, painful, and potentially harmful to the health of the participant.The research agenda was shaped to meet U.S. military and scientific research objectives rather than the personal health needs of the affected population. The pressing question for the U.S. government was how to document and interpret the Marshallese experience in ways that might predict the consequences for U.S. troops or U.S. citizens exposed to radiation in the event of nuclear war. Marshallese health concerns, especially worries that radiation from fallout remained in their environment, poisoning their food and their bodies, were often ignored.

(...) Political administrations come and go, but radiogenic contamination and disease present protracted, ulcerating, intergenerational problems. The toxic and radioactive contamination of soil, water, terrestrial and marine biota, and human life that is the legacy of nuclear war games in the Marshall Islands is difficult and expensive to monitor, let alone remediate. The health complications of radiation exposure for individuals and their offspring are similarly expensive to monitor and treat. Nevertheless, just as the U.S. government continues to appropriate billions of dollars for the cleanup of the plutonium processing plant in Hanford, Washington, and as it continues to make appropriations to provide full compensation to people living downwind from the Nevada Test Site, so too must it honor commitments to the inhabitants of the former trust territory, who deserve the same level of health care and cleanup as U.S. citizens.In today's world-where uranium mining occurs at historic levels, where depleted uranium is widely used in military training and war, and where nuclear power and weapons production are again on the agendas of the world's nations-these lessons have currency. The experiences of the people of Rongelap, whose lives were transformed not only by acute exposure but also by chronic exposure to low-level radiation, should be read as a timely, cautionary tale.

The 30 greatest conspiracy theories (November 19, 2008)
From the assassination of John F Kennedy to the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. From Roswell, New Mexico, to Nasa's moon landings. From the bloodline of Christ to the death of Elvis Presley. From the Moscow appartment bombings to the Indian Ocean tsunami. From Pearl Harbour to Peak Oil, the Philadelphia experiment and Pan Am flight 103. Every major event of the last 2,000 years has prompted a conspiracy theory and here we examine those with the biggest followings and the most longevity. 1. September 11, 2001. Thanks to the power of the web and live broadcasts on television, the ... theories surrounding the events of 9/11 ... have surpassed those of Roswell and JFK in traction. The [alternative] theories continue to grow in strength. At the milder end of the spectrum are the theorists who believe that the US government had prior warning of the attacks but did not do enough to stop them. Others believe that the Bush administration deliberately turned a blind eye to those warnings because it wanted a pretext to launch wars in the Middle East to usher in another century of American hegemony. A large group of people - collectively called the 9/11 Truth Movement - cite evidence that an airliner did not hit the Pentagon and that the World Trade Centre could not have been brought down by airliner impacts and burning aviation fuel alone. Many witnesses - including firemen, policemen and people who were inside the towers at the time - claim to have heard explosions below the aircraft impacts (including in basement levels) and before both the collapses and the attacks themselves.

How Dow Chemical Defies Homeland Security and Risks Another 9/11 (November 20, 2008)
(...) A Chlorine Cloud of TerrorDow Chemical's resistance to federal Department of Homeland Security guidelines is equally outrageous. President-elect Obama enters an arena where there are 7,000 high risk U.S. chemical facilities. They store or use highly toxic volatile chemicals like chlorine, sulfur dioxide and anhydrous ammonia. If airborne these agents could form a toxic cloud killing or injuring up to a million people in places like New Jersey. People would asphyxiate and die painful deaths. According to risk models from the DHS, an accident or terrorist act at just one plant could result in as much as $100 billion in economic damage. Simple, inexpensive regulations requiring corporations to substitute relatively harmless agents for the dangerous ones could prevent this scenario.According to the EPA just four toxic-by-inhalation gases account for 55 percent of all chemical processes that threaten communities nationwide. These are: anhydrous ammonia (32.5%, 8,343 processes), chlorine (18.3%, 4,682 processes), sulfur dioxide (3%, 768 processes) and hydrogen fluoride (1.2%, 315 processes). These can be transformed into chemical weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). High risk water facilities that rely on chlorine gas are also a significant danger. Legislation has been introduced (but stalled) that would require safer precautionary alternatives include liquid bleach, ozone and ultraviolet light.Dow Chemical, DuPont and the industry at large have spent millions to effectively lobby Congress and the President to stop them from invoking safer measures. Chlorine is one of the backbones of the Dow Chemical Empire and the firm does not want to be told that they cannot use it as they see fit. Dow argues that its their own security measures (e.g. cordoning off high risk tanks and conducting background checks on employees) are effective enough deterrents.To date Congress has only passed an interim law, in 2006, that actually removes power from the Department of Homeland Security. You heard it right. The chemical industry succeeded in using one branch of the federal government to stop the other, more aggressive one. The law prohibits the federal government from requiring companies to take the most important step: replacing dangerous chemicals and processes with inherently safer ones. Even the New York Times has editorialized against it, castigating members of Congress who "have been more worried about currying favor with the chemical industry, a major campaign donor, than with safeguarding their constituents from this serious threat." CLIP

(...) What distinguishes this Administration in its final days—as in its earlier ones—is the purity of its cynicism. White House officials haven’t even bothered to argue that these new rules are in the public interest. Such a claim would, in any event, be impossible to defend, as just about every midnight regulation being proposed is, evidently, a gift to a favored industry. Consider, for example, the case of New Source Review. Utility companies have always hated this provision of the Clean Air Act, which requires them to install up-to-date pollution controls when they build new plants or renovate old ones. A new rule being circulated would take a trick that the power company Duke Energy dreamed up for circumventing New Source Review and turn it into law. According to the Administration’s own estimates, this new anti-rule would allow an additional seventy million tons of CO2 to be released into the atmosphere each year. “If you thought the first hundred days of the Bush Administration were bad, just wait and see what the last hundred could bring,” Representative Edward Markey, of Massachusetts, has warned. CLIP

Climate juggernaut 'on the horizon' (December 02, 2008),23599,24738111-38200,00.html?from=public_rss
WAR, hunger, poverty and sickness will stalk humanity if the world fails to tackle climate change, a 12-day UN conference on global warming heard today.A volley of grim warnings sounded out at the start of the marathon talks, a step to a new worldwide treaty to reduce greenhouse gases and help countries exposed to the wrath of an altered climate."Humankind in its activity just reached the limits of the closed system of our planet Earth," said Polish Environment Minister Maciej Nowicki, elected to chair the December 1-12 meeting in the city of Poznan."Further expansion in the same style will generate global threats of really great intensity - huge droughts and floods, cyclones with increasingly more destructive power, pandemics of tropical disease, dramatic decline of biodiversity, increasing ocean levels," said Mr Nowicki."All these can cause social and even armed conflict and migration of people at an unprecedented scale."The forum of the 192-member UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) comes halfway in a two-year process, launched in Bali, Indonesia, that aims at crafting a new pact in Copenhagen in December 2009. CLIP

UN climate chief warns of 'next economic crisis' (Dec 1, 2008)
POZNAN (POLAND): Investing in "cheap and dirty" power because of the global recession will lead to another financial crisis, the UN climate chief warned on the eve of tough international talks in Poland. "My firm belief is that if as a result of that financial crisis, we make a next generation of bad investments, we will be setting ourselves up for the next economic crisis," said Yvo de Boer, head of the 192-nation UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). "Over the next five to 10 years we will be replacing about 40 per cent of power-generating capacity worldwide. If, in light of the financial crisis, that power-generating capacity is replaced using cheap and dirty technology, then that technology is going to be around for the next 30 to 50 years," he said. "If we use the financial crisis as a reason for short-term thinking then I believe we will basically be setting ourselves up for capital stock destruction in 10, 15, 20 years time." The comments came on the eve of 12 days of talks starting today in Poznan, Poland, involving representatives from almost every country on the planet. Their aim is to clear the way for a new global climate-change pact to be signed in Copenhagen in December 2009. Barack Obama, president-elect of the world's biggest polluter per capita, the United States, will not be present but his "eyes and ears" such as Senator John Kerry will be, de Boer said.

Oxfam calls for £34 billion per annum to help poor cope with climate change (2 Dec 2008)
Green taxes on pollution, aviation and shipping should contribute to a £34 billion annual fund to help poorer countries adapt to climate change, according to Oxfam. (...) The two week conference in Poznan will decide on what shape a new deal to replace the Kyoto Protocol will take. Delegates are expected to decide on whether the world should commit to binding targets to cut carbon emissions, new measures to halt deforestation and an adaptation fund to help poorer countries cope with climate change.

The World's Fine Balance (1 December 2008)
What will they be thinking about in Poznan? Officially, the delegates from 190 countries must relaunch negotiations over the battle against global warming. But will they be able to get their heads around that? The Americans will be focused on their financial crisis, the Europeans on their divisions, the Indians on their deaths, the Chinese on their unemployed ... The clock has moved forward all too quickly since the previous meeting on the same subject in Bali in 2007. From now on, short-term considerations will invite themselves onto the agenda. Once again, the next six months preoccupy people more than the coming twenty years, the interval that separates us from climatic catastrophe. Therein lies the entire problem of the issue. If we don't do something today, it will be too late tomorrow. But suddenly, other - equally imperative - priorities arise. What good does it do to save the planet if only to die cured? In this sinister autumn of 2008, the world finds itself threatened by three formidable demons. Three risks that feed on each other, rule one another out and respond to one another. Economic risk, first of all, with its cortege of social misery. It makes one forget the long period of good investments and expensive energy that incited economization. The sole consolation: recessions, by slowing down economic activity, also brake greenhouse gas emissions. But is it a consolation to see the United States, India and China pollute the planet less because they are plunged in social uncertainty? Then there's political risk, a consequence of economic risk, as is the explosion of inequalities and the rise of every kind of extremism. The Bombay bloodbath is its latest expression. Finally, there's environmental risk, more distant, but palpable and capable of interacting with the two other risks to blow the planet apart. The world's fine balance, to play on the title of Indian Rohinton Mistry's great novel, rests on this fragile triangle. Hence, the anguished appeals we will hear from Poznan not to sacrifice the environment to the crisis and to the immediate gratification of cheap oil, but rather to profit from these difficulties to adopt the opposite approach, the one that will consist in orienting the economic recovery toward clean energy and reduction of social inequalities. To transform such threats into opportunities will require courage, vision and determination. Will we have enough?

Coal addiction tests Poland on U.N. climate goals (Dec 3, 2008)
KONIN, Poland (Reuters) - Poland's addiction to high-polluting coal contrasts sharply with its hosting of U.N. talks on a global climate treaty to promote clean energy, but its government says it is doing its best to break the habit. Some 11,000 delegates are in Poland's western city of Poznan for a December1-12 meeting which marks a halfway point in efforts to agree new climate goals in Copenhagen at the end of next year.And the fact that one of Europe's biggest lignite opencast mines, the Konin mine, lies in moon-like scenery just some 60 kilometers (40 miles) from Poznan highlights Poland's public relations dilemma. Poland depends on coal for around 95 percent of its rapidly growing electricity needs and much of that is lignite -- one of the most polluting forms of the fossil fuel. Warsaw is seeking exemptions from European Union plans to cut emissions. CLIP

Get all the latest news on this crucial meeting in Poznan through

Bush Set to Relax Rules Protecting Species
Dina Cappiello, The Associated Press: "Animals and plants in danger of becoming extinct could lose the protection of government experts who make sure that dams, highways and other projects don't pose a threat, under a regulation the Bush administration is set to put in place before President-elect Obama can reverse them. The rules must be published Friday to take effect before Obama is sworn in Jan. 20. Otherwise, he can undo them with the stroke of a pen."

EPA, Interior Chiefs Will Be Busy Erasing Bush's Mark
Juliet Eilperin, The Washington Post: "Few federal agencies are expected to undergo as radical a transformation under President-elect Barack Obama as the Environmental Protection Agency and the Interior Department, which have been at the epicenter of many of the Bush administration's most intense scientific and environmental controversies."

Democrats Oust Longtime Leader of House Panel (November 20, 2008) GOOD NEWS!
WASHINGTON — Representative Henry A. Waxman wrested the chairmanship of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee from Representative John D. Dingell on Thursday in a coup that is expected to accelerate passage of energy, climate and health legislation backed by President-elect Barack Obama. Mr. Waxman, 69, of California, who mounted a quiet but devastatingly effective two-week campaign against his longtime Democratic colleague, won the chairmanship with a 137-to-122 vote in the Democratic Caucus (...) The ouster of Mr. Dingell, of Michigan, was another blow to the reeling American auto industry, which learned Thursday that it would not get any financial assistance from Congress until it showed how it could be profitable again. Mr. Dingell, who represents a suburban Detroit district, has been the industry’s most stalwart defender in Congress, having slowed or blocked many safety and environmental standards that the auto companies argued they could not meet.Some in the industry quaked at the ascension of Mr. Waxman, whom they consider an “irrational environmental zealot,” in the words of David Cole, chairman of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich. CLIP

Alienated Patrimony
South Korean company Daewoo Logistics is negotiating the 99-year rental of some 1.3 million hectares of agricultural lands with Madagascar's government - that is, a forty-fifth of the island's surface: as though France bestowed freedom of disposition over two of its departments to a foreign investor for a century."

Breast Cancer Rates Soar after Mammograms and Some Cancers may Heal Naturally (November 24, 2008)
(NaturalNews) A report just published in the Journal of the American Medical Association's Archives of Internal Medicine (Arch Intern Med. 2008;168[21]:2302-2303) reaches a startling conclusion. Breast cancer rates increased significantly in four Norwegian counties after women there began getting mammograms every two years. In fact, according to background information in the study, the start of screening mammography programs throughout Europe has been associated with increased incidence of breast cancer. This raises some obvious and worrisome questions: Did the x-rays and/or the sometimes torturous compression of breasts during mammography actually spur cancer to develop? Or does this just look like an increase in the disease rate because mammography is simply identifying more cases of breast cancer? The answer to the first question is that no one knows (and it isn't addressed in the Archives of Internal Medicine study). But the second question has an unexpected and - for those interested in the human body's innate ability to heal itself ˆ potentially paradigm-shifting answer. The researchers say they can't blame the increased incidence of breast cancer on more cases being found because the rates among regularly screened women remained higher than rates among women of the same age who only received mammograms once after six years. Bottom line: the scientists conclude this indicates that some of the cancers detected by mammography would have spontaneously regressed if they had never been discovered on a mammogram and treated, usually with chemotherapy and radiation. Simply put, it appears that some invasive breast cancers simply go away on their own, healed by the body's own immune system. CLIP

Coke/Pepsi Used as Pesticides in Other Countries

Author heading dementia campaign (26 November 2008)
Author Terry Pratchett has handed in a petition to 10 Downing Street calling for an urgent increase in funds for dementia research.The petition, which has been signed by 20,000 people, describes current level of funding as "appalling".The campaign is backed by more than 100 top scientists.The Discworld creator, diagnosed with a rare form of Alzheimer's disease this year, also met Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Health Minister Phil Hope.The petition, addressed to Mr Brown, highlights that Alzheimer's and related diseases, which affect 700,000 people in the UK, currently receives just 3% of research funding.Mr Pratchett, 60, said: "We are facing, to use the term said to me by one of the leading US researchers, a worldwide tsunami of Alzheimer's and other dementia diseases." There's only two ways it can go: researchers, with as much help you can give them, may come up with something that reduces the effects of this dreadful, inhuman disease, or we will have to face the consequences of our failure to prevent the final years of many of us being a long bad dream. CLIP

DNA breaks in cells exposed to GSM radiation
November 27… Science has conceded the error: More than one lab has in fact shown that cell phone radiation can cause DNA breaks. Back in August, reporter Gretchen Vogel claimed that Hugo Rüdiger at the University of Vienna medical school was the only one. Now, Vogel allows that a team from Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China, had previously observed DNA breaks in cells exposed to GSM radiation. In a letter published in the magazine's November 28 issue, Vini Khurana, a neurosurgeon in Canberra, Australia, advises that, "[T]here are many other peer-reviewed papers from laboratories in at least seven countries, including the United States, showing that cell phone or similar low-intensity EMFs can break DNA or modulate it structurally." CLIP

L'utilisation d'un téléphone portable amplifie le phénomène de libération du mercure des amalgames dentaires, c'est ce que montre une étude iranienne menée à la Shiraz University of Medical Sciences (1). Menée sur 14 étudiantes, l'étude a mis en évidence une augmentation significative de la concentration de mercure dans les urines après utilisation d'un téléphone mobile. CLIP

EMF-Omega-News 22. November 2008

EMF-Omega-News 29. November 2008



All Fall Down


November 25, 2008

I spent Sunday afternoon brooding over a great piece of Times reporting by Eric Dash and Julie Creswell about Citigroup. Maybe brooding isn’t the right word. The front-page article, entitled “Citigroup Pays for a Rush to Risk,” actually left me totally disgusted.

Why? Because in searing detail it exposed — using Citigroup as Exhibit A — how some of our country’s best-paid bankers were overrated dopes who had no idea what they were selling, or greedy cynics who did know and turned a blind eye. But it wasn’t only the bankers. This financial meltdown involved a broad national breakdown in personal responsibility, government regulation and financial ethics.

So many people were in on it: People who had no business buying a home, with nothing down and nothing to pay for two years; people who had no business pushing such mortgages, but made fortunes doing so; people who had no business bundling those loans into securities and selling them to third parties, as if they were AAA bonds, but made fortunes doing so; people who had no business rating those loans as AAA, but made a fortunes doing so; and people who had no business buying those bonds and putting them on their balance sheets so they could earn a little better yield, but made fortunes doing so.

Citigroup was involved in, and made money from, almost every link in that chain. And the bank’s executives, including, sad to see, the former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, were clueless about the reckless financial instruments they were creating, or were so ensnared by the cronyism between the bank’s risk managers and risk takers (and so bought off by their bonuses) that they had no interest in stopping it.

These are the people whom taxpayers bailed out on Monday to the tune of what could be more than $300 billion. We probably had no choice. Just letting Citigroup melt down could have been catastrophic. But when the government throws together a bailout that could end up being hundreds of billions of dollars in 48 hours, you can bet there will be unintended consequences — many, many, many.

Also check out Michael Lewis’s superb essay, “The End of Wall Street’s Boom,” on Lewis, who first chronicled Wall Street’s excesses in “Liar’s Poker,” profiles some of the decent people on Wall Street who tried to expose the credit binge — including Meredith Whitney, a little known banking analyst who declared, over a year ago, that “Citigroup had so mismanaged its affairs that it would need to slash its dividend or go bust,” wrote Lewis.

“This woman wasn’t saying that Wall Street bankers were corrupt,” he added. “She was saying they were stupid. Her message was clear. If you want to know what these Wall Street firms are really worth, take a hard look at the crappy assets they bought with huge sums of borrowed money, and imagine what they’d fetch in a fire sale... For better than a year now, Whitney has responded to the claims by bankers and brokers that they had put their problems behind them with this write-down or that capital raise with a claim of her own: You’re wrong. You’re still not facing up to how badly you have mismanaged your business.”

Lewis also tracked down Steve Eisman, the hedge fund investor who early on saw through the subprime mortgages and shorted the companies engaged in them, like Long Beach Financial, owned by Washington Mutual.

“Long Beach Financial,” wrote Lewis, “was moving money out the door as fast as it could, few questions asked, in loans built to self-destruct. It specialized in asking homeowners with bad credit and no proof of income to put no money down and defer interest payments for as long as possible. In Bakersfield, Calif., a Mexican strawberry picker with an income of $14,000 and no English was lent every penny he needed to buy a house for $720,000.”

Lewis continued: Eisman knew that subprime lenders could be disreputable. “What he underestimated was the total unabashed complicity of the upper class of American capitalism... ‘We always asked the same question,’ says Eisman. ‘Where are the rating agencies in all of this? And I’d always get the same reaction. It was a smirk.’ He called Standard & Poor’s and asked what would happen to default rates if real estate prices fell. The man at S.& P. couldn’t say; its model for home prices had no ability to accept a negative number. ‘They were just assuming home prices would keep going up,’ Eisman says.”

That’s how we got here — a near total breakdown of responsibility at every link in our financial chain, and now we either bail out the people who brought us here or risk a total systemic crash. These are the wages of our sins. I used to say our kids will pay dearly for this. But actually, it’s our problem. For the next few years we’re all going to be working harder for less money and fewer government services — if we’re lucky.


Related article:

Finding the balance between greed and altruism (November 27, 2008)
People have the capacity to be as motivated by altruism as greed, economist Ernst Fehr, this year's winner of the prestigious Marcel Benoist prize, tells swissinfo. The Zurich University economist scooped the Swiss equivalent of the Nobel prize for his work that overturned the established principle that self-interest is the primary driver of human nature. He receives the award on Thursday. Fehr blames the slack regulatory framework rather than selfish individuals for causing the financial crisis and believes even greed can be turned to good causes.swissinfo: You believe that altruism plays as important a role in society as greed?Ernst Fehr: Economists assumed for 100 years that everybody was exclusively selfish. We just did not have the scientific basis for finding out what the other motives are. We now have the scientific tools to show us how selfish and altruistic people are. Self-interest is a component in most people's motivational repertoire. But the fact that people also have other motives, such as altruism, is important for the functioning of the economic and social world. (...) swissinfo: So, it is a case of finding the right balance between self-interest and altruism? E.F.: Even altruism can be bad. Altruism that targets small groups of insiders is often combined with hostility to outsiders. White supremacists can display altruism towards their own race while being extremely hostile to blacks.It may be true that self-interest on average does harm while altruism does good, but these two motives are not per se bad or good. My role is not to preach altruism but to understand it. I want to build institutions that take the mix of motives into account and transform them into socially optimal behaviour.swissinfo: Do you have a message for society? E.F.: A small number of idealistic people can make a big difference. You don't need a large number of altruists to generate highly cooperative outcomes. You don't have to start with a majority, but you can build a majority.


A REALLY SOBERING REALITY CHECK... in one of the most hellish, tortured countries on Earth, a country where the life expectancy is among the lowest in the world... 43 years

"Barack Obama wants to send 7,000 more American troops to this disaster zone. Does he have the slightest idea what is going on in Afghanistan? For if he did, he would send 7,000 doctors."


Robert Fisk: Once more fear stalks the streets of Kandahar

20 November 2008

Five years after his last visit, our correspondent finds the Taliban back in charge of their spiritual home – and girls attacked with acid simply for attending school

There is a little girl in the Meir Wais hospital with livid scars and dead skin across her face, an obscene map of brown and pink tissue. Then there is another girl, a beautiful child, Khorea Horay, grimacing in pain, her leg amputated, her life destroyed after her foot was torn to pieces. In another ward, two girls lie on their backs, a tent above their limbs. One has lost an arm, another – a 16-year-old – a leg.

Then there is the grim young man with the beard, also in the darkest pain, who looks at me with suspicion and puzzlement. He has a bullet wound in the abdomen, a great incision sutured up after the doctors found it infected. Two other young men, also bearded, cowled in brown "patu" shawls, sit beside this suffering warrior. They, too, stare at me as if I am a visitor from Mars. Perhaps that's what I am in Kandahar. Better to be a Martian than a Westerner in a city which in all but name has fallen to the Taliban.

The black turbans are everywhere. So are the blue burkhas which we Westerners confidently – stupidly – believed would vanish from Afghan society. But the Taliban insist they were not responsible for throwing acid in the face of the little girl in the second-floor ward at Meir Wais hospital. You know what she is thinking. You know what her parents are thinking. Who will marry this girl now, with her patchwork face of pain? Four men on a motorcycle threw acid at her and 13 of her friends on their way to school. Four were brought here, two dispatched immediately to the eye department. The Taliban deny any involvement. But they would, wouldn't they?

Khorea Horay is a victim of that other tormentor of southern Afghanistan, the forces of Western "civilisation" who dispense "collateral damage" to the poor and the illiterate of Kandahar province in their determination to bring "freedom" and "democracy" to the land that defeated both Alexander the Great and Ghengis Khan. The Americans air-raided her village of Shahrwali Kut in their battle against "terrorism"; a Taliban on a nearby hilltop appears to have fired a missile at Nato troops before our Western technology arrived to crush Khorea's village. "I looked downwards and my foot was in little pieces," she said. "They came from the sky and from the ground. It started in the afternoon and went on into the night." In all, 36 members of a wedding party were killed in Shahrwali Kut on 5 November. That's why she is one of the lucky ones. But luck is relative. Nato forces in southern Afghanistan have promised an inquiry. Needless to say, not a single Western soldier has visited Khorea's hospital ward to say sorry, even to offer a little compassion.

The two girls with amputations are very definitely victims of the Taliban. They were walking in the very centre of Kandahar when a suicide bomber exploded an oil tanker packed with explosives outside the council office which still – theoretically – belongs to the government. The target was Wali Karzai, governor of Kandahar, brother of President Hamid Karzai, a man still desperately denying that he is a local drugs warlord. He escaped. Six died. Of the 45 wounded brought to the Meir Wais hospital, almost all were women and children, many of them crushed by falling walls after the explosion.

The doctors lost only one of their patients, a senior police officer, while two bodies were brought to the hospital morgue, one of them a woman. The Taliban happily claimed responsibility for the bomb which tore their own people apart – and which allowed the Nato commander, US General David McKiernan, to pump out some familiar warspeak. "These cowardly acts reflect how dishonourable the insurgents truly are," he said. "No one can honestly say they are fighting for the people ...".

But who is "fighting for the people" of Kandahar? To its immense credit, the International Committee of the Red Cross is donating £1m a year to the Meir Wais hospital and 11 of its international staff are – incredibly – working full-time in Kandahar. Every other NGO has fled the Taliban city but the ICRC – in contact with "all parties", as the ubiquitous codicil goes – are dispensing medicines, surgical help and courage. They come from Switzerland, France, Ivory Coast, Hungary, New Zealand, Australia and other nations – and walk a tightrope in this terribly dangerous city. Anyone who still chastises the ICRC for its pusillanimous role in confronting the Nazi Holocaust of the Second World War should meet the brave men and women who work here.

A little girl is brought into the hospital in a green dress. "Isn't she beautiful?" Nola Henrya nurse from Australia asked us. "She fractured a bone, but it got infected. Now we will see if we can save her leg." Green-eyed, her tousled black hair falling over her face, the three-year-old sits on the cold concrete floor, eyeing us, half suspicious, half-mischievous, conscious of being the centre of our attention. They often arrive like this, too late for surgery or for cure. Many families arrive from the villages with children dying in their arms. "We are an uneducated people," an Afghan doctor told me with painful if unnecessary humility. "These people do not know what is wrong with their children and they wait till it's bad before they bring them here. By then, it is very bad." I look at one-year-old Nourallah. He is a skeletal creature as light as a pillow, his eyes glazing over at us within circles of skin.

And it is all too clear what is wrong with many of these children. They are dying of hunger. There is a mini-famine in the desolation of the deserts of Kandahar and Helmand. Malnutrition here is a kind of disease. So is fear. I talk to a young Afghan woman hospital worker, dressed in a burkha, educated in Pakistan, fluent in English. "I am afraid," she said. "We are all afraid. We all feel threatened. It's not just 'them' [she means the Taliban] but it's my own relatives, my aunt, my cousin. I do not tell them what I do. I just say I work in a hospital."

Across Kandahar, there is great anger. At the government's corruption, at the Nato occupation and their killings. Little is said of the Taliban. But who condemns those who are winning the war? Taliban officials now speak with near-courtesy of the Tadjiks and Uzbeks and Hazaras who were their sectarian enemies in the awful years of Taliban rule. "If they are against the occupation, they are all friends now," one of the wisest local residents said. There is a new vein of nationalism within the Taliban. "Twenty per cent of the population here are Shias and their mosques were turned into Sunni places of worship by the Taliban during their rule. But now the Shias are asking their mullahs what they should do if America attacks Iran, and their mullahs told them that if this happens, they should support the Islamic Republic and attack all American and Nato interests in Kandahar."

Beside the vast American airbase 20 miles away, a Nato metropolis adjacent to the most Islamist city in Afghanistan, the "international" airport sits in a slough of despond, its chain-smoking Afghan soldiers scarcely bothering to carry out security procedures on passengers, its echoing, empty departure lounges adorned with crude advertisements for tourist agencies that no longer exist and for an Afghan army which disappears from the roads after 4pm every day. I stood beside the runway yesterday, watching the armada of US air fleets roaring into the pale blue wintry sky, Russian-built transports and high-flying US reconnaissance jets and Kiowa helicopters and the softly landing Predators and Raptors, the hi-tech, broad-winged pilotless spotters and killers. The Predators look for the targets. The Raptors fire Hellfire missiles – manufacturers, Boeing and Lockheed Martin. One Raptor returned with its missiles still locked to its wings. Was its mission aborted over Pakistan? Or Helmand?

Another took off. Two minutes later – I could still just see it – at 1,500 feet, US personnel at Tampa, Florida, would have taken over its flight path. It was 11.30 in the morning, a computer guiding its progress at 2am US Eastern Standard Time. Does the guiding hand on the other side of the world have any idea of the political direction in which this machine is flying? Or of the people it threatens.

Barack Obama wants to send 7,000 more American troops to this disaster zone. Does he have the slightest idea what is going on in Afghanistan? For if he did, he would send 7,000 doctors.


Related articles:

Afghan Leader Demands Plan for NATO Withdrawal
Candace Rondeaux, The Washington Post: "Afghan President Hamid Karzai has sharply criticized the United States and NATO, demanding a timeline for the withdrawal of foreign forces. Karzai's comments came late Tuesday in a speech to a U.N. Security Council delegation visiting Kabul, the capital, this week. He accused the international community of failing 'to fight the Taliban properly' since the U.S.-led war in the country began in 2001."

Kabul 30 years ago, and Kabul today. Have we learned nothing? (22 November 2008) STUNNING PARALLEL!
Robert Fisk: 'Terrorists' were in Soviet sights; now they are in the Americans'. (...) Thirty miles north, all those years ago, a Soviet general told us of the imminent victory over the "terrorists" in the mountains, imperialist "remnants" – the phrase Kabul communist radio always used – who were being supported by America and Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. Fast forward to 2001 – just seven years ago – and an American general told us of the imminent victory over the "terrorists" in the mountains, the all but conquered Taliban who were being supported by Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. The Russian was pontificating at the big Soviet airbase at Bagram. The American general was pontificating at the big US airbase at Bagram. This is not déjà-vu. This is déjà double-vu. And it gets worse. CLIP

U.S. eyes "surge" of over 20,000 for Afghanistan:
The Pentagon is considering a plan to send more than 20,000 troops to Afghanistan over the next 12 to 18 months to help safeguard elections and quell rising Taliban violence, officials said on Friday.

US: Financial woes no excuse for not funding Afghan war
Even in a global financial crisis, the world cannot afford to skimp on its obligations to Afghanistan, which wants to double the size of its army but will never be able to pay for it, Defense Secretary Robert Gates says.



The Myth of Americans as an "Indispensable People"

What Uncle Sam Has to Tell His Creditors


November 20, 2008

According to all accounts the US faces its worse economic crisis since the Great Depression with $2 trillion in near-term financing needs for bailouts and economic stimulus. This is an enormous sum for any country, especially for one that is so heavily indebted that it is close to bankruptcy. If the money can’t be borrowed abroad, it will have to be printed--a policy that carries the implication of hyper-inflation.

In normal life a borrower who must appeal to creditors makes every effort to bring order to his financial affairs. But not the Bush regime.  

The out-of-pocket costs of Bush’s Iraq war are about $600 billion at the present moment, a figure that increases by millions of dollars every hour.

In addition, there are the much larger future costs that have already been incurred, such as long-term care for the wounded and disabled US soldiers, the replacement costs of the used up equipment, interest payments on the war debt, and the lost economic use of the resources and manpower squandered in war. Experts estimate that the already incurred out-of-pocket and future costs of Bush’s Iraq war to be $3 trillion and rising.

Even these costs might be small if an article by Richard LaMountain in the November 2008 Middle American News is accurate. According to LaMountain, US refugee programs for Iraqis displaced by the US invasion and occupation could result in a large and growing Muslim US population. These would be people whose lives were adversely impacted by the US invasion of Iraq.

If the US maintains its pro-Israeli stance against Arabs and Muslims generally, the implications of a growing Muslim population and a government obsessed with its “war on terror” are frightening for American civil liberty. In order to contain the potential terror that it will have imported, Washington would impose a total police state.

The war must also end in order that bankrupt Washington can borrow abroad the money it needs to bail out the US economy.

The budget authority for the annual out-of-pocket costs of the war have been rising by $150 billion per year, an addition to the budget deficit that must be financed by borrowing abroad. A sane person might think that a government, such as the US, in need of foreign loans to save its economy, would jump at the change to get its troops out of Iraq, where they are not wanted.

Instead the Bush regime has been struggling all year with the Iraq government in order to secure an agreement that lets the US government continue to hemorrhage hundreds of billions of dollars by keeping American troops in Iraq.

The Korean War ended 55 years ago, and the US still has troops in Korea.  

Germany was defeated in 1945, and the US still has troops in Germany.

A country that must go hat in hand to its creditors must first look to where costs can be cut. Annual military spending of $700 billion is certainly a good place to start.

But the US government has far more hubris than intelligence and is on its way to being a failed state that has to print money to pay its bills.

It is not too late for the US to save itself and the dollar standard, but it would require a rapid transition from arrogance to humility. The rest of the world can bring America down by not lending to us, in which case neither the trade nor budget deficits could be financed.

The world does not want to bring us down in this way. Our creditors would like to preserve as much as possible the values of their trillions in US dollar assets. This is easier done if the dollar remains the reserve currency. Therefore, the US government has an opportunity to go to its creditors with a plan.

This is what the plan must be: A declaration that repudiates the neoconservative goal to achieve US hegemony over the world; a budget that reduces annual US borrowing needs by several hundreds of billions by ending the Afghan and Iraq wars, by closing overseas military bases, and by cutting military spending; a new corporate tax system that brings back American jobs, manufacturing capability, and export potential by taxing US corporations’ worldwide profits according to the value-added in the US.

Such a plan would demonstrate that the US respects the sovereignty and aspirations of other countries and is willing to cooperate peacefully with others as an occupant of what the Russian president has termed “our common house.” Such a plan would demonstrate that the US government has come to the realization that there is a limit to its borrowing capacity and the loans that it can service and is prepared to put first things first. Such a plan would show that the US can curtail its unsustainable dependency on imports without erecting a wall of tariffs.

If the US had the leadership to approach its creditors with such a plan, a sigh of relief would emit from the rest of the world. Many of the economic hardships that Americans currently face could be avoided, and the prospect of a hyper-inflationary depression would recede.

Such a favorable outcome requires that the government in Washington give up the delusion that Americans are an “indispensable people” who have a monopoly on virtue that gives them claim to hegemony over the world.

Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He is coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions. He can be reached at:



Chronicling the Surveillance Control Grid: The Airport: A Freedom-Free Zone

Scott Ritsema - Nov 21, 2008

The American surveillance society is one of the worst in the world. According to Privacy International and the Electronic Privacy Information Center, we are among the nine most “endemic” surveillance societies. The U.S. is supposed to be the beacon of liberty, the example to all the world of what a society of liberty under law ought to look like. But we have become an embarrassment.

Several facets of the surveillance society exist: the police state at the air port, massive biometrics databases of innocents, implantable microchips, secret spy forces, and much more. This report covers just one piece of our massive surveillance society: airports.


You’ve just walked into an airport. Don’t make a joke about a bomb, or you’ll be arrested. Dump out your water before you go through the line. And if you haven’t properly put your personal items in the correct sized zip-lock bags, they will be confiscated.

Is that tooth paste you’re trying to smuggle by? Hand it over. And missy, don’t even think about trying to bring that lip gloss through…that could be a liquid bomb for all we know.

Ma’am, you can’t have that bottle of milk…but it’s for my baby, this is breast milk that I pumped for him…well, you’ll have to take a sip so that I know that it’s not a bomb…I have to drink my own breast milk?…yes, take a sip, Ma’am.

Face it: this is not a free country. The moment you walk into the airport, there are Behavioral Detection Officers examining your “micro-expressions,” attempting to read your emotions for signs of terroristic motives. This practice began all the way back in 2002. It’s called “SPOT”: Screening passengers by Observation Technique. Flying make you anxious? TSA make you mad? You’d better not show it, or you might miss your flight and have to pull your pants down for the TSA agents.

The airport police state is illegitimate on its face. It is immoral and unconstitutional. Our women endure sexual humiliation having to bare their breasts, and our men in wheel chairs have their pants taken off in public, and we simply let it go on as if it’s normal.

But if one is not convinced based on a moral calculation or an appeal to the Fourth Amendment, an argument based on pragmatism is necessary. And the verdict is in: airport “security” does not make us any safer. TSA agents confiscate dangerous water bottles faithfully, while they allow bomb parts and other prohibited items to pass them without a hitch.

You know you’re not living in a free country when there is little to no reaction to the outrageous suggestion that cameras should watch airline passengers from the moment they sit down on the airplane to the moment they get up. That they would actually have the gall to suggest that all passengers should be fitted with shock bracelets should tell us how highly they think of us. We are mere dogs to them.

And does it get any worse than the famed x-ray screeners? You get to choose: endure a good government groping, or a quick peep show. I hate to post inappropriate material, but ask yourself, would you be comfortable having your body (or your sister’s or mother’s) exposed in this fashion?

Then, you really know you’re living in a high tech police state when NASA and the Pentagon say they’re going to read your mind and examine your physiology with bio-scanners in order to determine if you’re a terrorist or not. And getting agitated by the police state will only make you appear suspicious.

Not to mention, they’re watching what you read, where you travel, and even what size bed you sleep in while traveling.

In addition to the litany of creepy Big Brother facets of our so-called free society, much has been said about the no-fly lists and other databases of information about travelers, which are collected and kept without the travelers’ knowledge or consent. AP reported,

Without notifying the public, federal agents for the past four years have assigned millions of international travelers, including Americans, computer-generated scores rating the risk they pose of being terrorists or criminals.

The travelers are not allowed to see or directly challenge these risk assessments, which the government intends to keep on file for 40 years.

The scores are assigned to people entering and leaving the United States after computers assess their travel records, including where they are from, how they paid for tickets, their motor vehicle records, past one-way travel, seating preference and what kind of meal they ordered.

The program’s existence was quietly disclosed earlier in November when the government put an announcement detailing the Automated Targeting System, or

ATS, for the first time in the Federal Register, a fine-print compendium of

federal rules. Privacy and civil liberties lawyers, congressional aides and even

law enforcement officers said they thought this system had been applied only to


The Washington Post reported on the “TIDE” database of supposed terrorists that had quadrupled between 2003 and 2007, heading toward 500,000 names as of March 2007. The same article reminded readers that in 2004 and 2005, a full half of names that were triggered at airports were misidentifications. And that does not account for the innocent people who were identified properly, but were flagged for reasons other than criminal or terrorist activity—namely, those who were flagged intentionally (though illegitimately) for their political activism.

The famed “do not fly” list, Raw Story reported, was edging toward a million names in 2008. One million terrorists on the U.S. Government’s no-fly list. Wow.

AP reported on the phenomenon of misidentifications that harass travelers:

Thousands of people have been mistakenly linked to names on terror watch lists when they crossed the border, boarded commercial airliners or were stopped for traffic violations, a government report said Friday.

More than 30,000 airline passengers have asked just one agency—the Transportation Security Administration—to have their names cleared from the lists, according to the Government Accountability Office report.

Hundreds of millions of people each year are screened against the lists by Customs and Border Protection, the State Department and state and local law enforcement agencies. The lists include names of people suspected of terrorism or of possibly having links to terrorist activity.

“Misidentifications can lead to delays, intensive questioning and searches, missed flights or denied entry at the border,” the report said. “Whether appropriate relief is being afforded these individuals is still an open question.”

Last of all, don’t forget that you’re still being watched when you’re on the airplane. Air Marshals went public in 2006 exposing the insane requirement that they fill out “Surveillance Detection Reports” (SDRs) even if they witnessed no suspicious activity. These whistleblowers told the press that they and other Air Marshals were given monthly quotas of SDRs to fill. How many regular people were placed on a watch list because of their normal airplane conduct? The reported:

You could be on a secret government database or watch list for simply taking a picture on an airplane. Some federal air marshals say they’re reporting your actions to meet a quota, even though some top officials deny it.

The air marshals, whose identities are being concealed, told 7NEWS that they’re required to submit at least one report a month. If they don’t, there’s no raise, no bonus, no awards and no special assignments.

“Innocent passengers are being entered into an international intelligence database as suspicious persons, acting in a suspicious manner on an aircraft … and they did nothing wrong,” said one federal air marshal.

If we endure all of this, what will we not endure? Will we go to FEMA camps, submit to forced inoculations, hand over our guns, give our children over to the state?

When we endure the most blatant oppression at the airport, and when we stand by as our masters loot the people for trillions of dollars in banker bailouts, one has to really wonder, what won’t we put up with?

And airport tyranny is only one facet of the surveillance society. And the surveillance society is only one facet of the emerging tyranny in America.

Before we can solve our problem, we must first come to terms with the fact that we have a problem. Admit it: we’ve been in denial about our so-called free society. Face it: we’re living in a police state.

NOTE: The comments posted for this article are worth reviewing! Here are two of them: "Scott Ritsema, thank you so much for this wonderful factual report. We absolutely are living in a police state, and I hate it and my fellow citizens who allow it." -- "Wow! I thought I was the only one who had stopped flying because of the intrusive and unconstitutional practices that are now commonplace at airports! When I tell others that I have stopped flying, and the reason why, most react as though I am some sort of crank. If people stopped flying it wouldn’t take long before things would change. The only power we have left is the power of the purse.



Learning to Lead

by Dahr Jamail - 26 November 2008

"Observance of customs and laws can very easily be a cloak for a lie so subtle that our fellow human beings are unable to detect it. It may help us to escape all criticism, we may even be able to deceive ourselves in the belief of our obvious righteousness. But deep down, below the surface of the average man's conscience, he hears a voice whispering, 'There is something not right,' no matter how much his rightness is supported by public opinion or by the moral code."
- Carl Gustav Jung

What's in a system?

We in the United States have grown acclimatized to a system that first dehumanizes us and then inevitably feeds on our dehumanization, sucking away at our resources, our rights, and our resistance while we scamper frantically around in the pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness.

We would like to imagine that it is our agency that drives us, and that our lives are under our control. The truth, however, is that we are the ones under control. The reason we do not notice it is that this control is masked as security, which we have been told is synonymous with freedom.

Recently, I passed through an airport checkpoint monitored by the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) and witnessed the "system" rear its ugly head yet again.

TSA is one of several security gifts from the Bush administration, or rather, from the twisted conjunction of corporate business and state power that oversees and safeguards our "freedom" and "democracy" through an elaborate system of control mechanisms.

Immediately in front of me, an elderly gentleman in a wheelchair was trying to reason with the security guard who was asking him to take off his sandals. "What do you want me to do? I didn't wear socks so you could see my feet since I'm unable to bend over and take off my sandals."

"Sir, you must comply with policy," the guard said in a raised voice, as three other TSA agents moved in behind him, arms folded ominously across their chests, and surrounded the elderly man in the wheelchair who requested their assistance, doing what he could to "comply." None of the guards stepped forward to take off his sandals for him in order to check his feet.

In exasperation he shouted, "I'm asking for help, and you won't do it, so what do you want me to do? What the Hell am I supposed to do? What are you afraid of? I'm an old man in a wheelchair! Are you afraid of my sandals?"

The guards would not allow him through the x-ray until he eventually lowered his voice. We must never upset the status quo, because that is an important pillar of a system that holds change in dread. Do not rock the boat, and don't you dare speak up, lest it indicate that something is wrong.

It requires no crystal ball to see that we are embedded in a system that has no qualms about harassing old men in wheelchairs or making pregnant women walk through x-ray machines. It is the same system that is killing scores of Iraqi and Afghan civilians daily, and killing the planet systemically. It is a system that requires us to be sleepwalkers, rather than alert and sensitive humans.

A Symbol Is Born

My partner was in Tanzania recently. I quote from an email from her which encapsulates the elation that individuals and societies across the globe have experienced at the unprecedented outcome of the recent presidential election in the United States. "My short band radio was already on, tuned to the BBC ... I bent down to photograph a small beautiful white flower that grows on the plains here, and as I clicked the shutter, the radio announced that Obama had won the election ... It was an incredible moment, to be here in East Africa as we elected our first African-American President."

Indeed, the profundity of an African-American being elected into the office of the president of the United States of America cannot be overstated. Barack Obama will soon be living, with his family, in a White House that was constructed by black slaves. The significance is not lost on most of us, or on people across the world, especially in Africa. Indeed, the times they are a-changing.

The entire presidential campaign was abuzz with talk of change. Barack Obama, elected, symbolizes the deep desire for change in our country. We thirst for it like one would for cool water in the desert. Our lungs are starved for a breath of positive change in a new direction. We crave a genuine diversion from the death-wish course that corporate capitalism has been pursuing for as long back as most adults in this country can remember.

The victory of Barack Obama symbolizes our need for change. The inhabitants of this planet are beginning to sense the need for something that can replace the willful and self defeating death urge of corporate consumer culture that is bent upon destroying everything. The fate of the world, one could argue, is dependent on a shift in consciousness. The election of Barack Obama has demonstrated that this shift is, in fact, occurring.

My partner wrote that her entire journey "... has been wonderfully saturated by the immense excitement for Obama. Being so close to Kenya, the local news shows images of his family's joy and the villagers dancing, and also Kenya's own mock election of our candidates. I haven't met a single person, who upon learning of my US citizenship didn't initiate a conversation about Obama and the future of the US. They are thrilled, and seemingly proud, of America poised for change ... and as I traverse one corner of this massive continent, I hear it over and over again: 'We love Obama - he has a hard road ahead of him, but the world is ready to stand by him.' One woman chose to clarify to me '... and it's not because he's black-skinned that we believe in him ...'"

She continued, "After eight years of feeling angry at and ashamed by the actions of the Bush administration, and in the very moments of worldwide celebration for our country's clear voice for a new path, I find myself feeling a certain excitement for the challenging road that lies ahead for our country. Here, amidst nearby turmoil and tribal conflicts, Africa is, as is the whole world, looking to us again with a sense of renewed possibility in their eyes."

Undeniably, there is possibility in this moment.

But is there change?

Since it is the United States that is primarily responsible for dragging the world economy into a recession, much of the world is now relying on it to provide the solution. Needless to say, the same applies to our vainglorious attempts at empire building, our excessive contribution to heedless pollution, our invasion of sovereign states, our transgressions and violations of international law....

We have an African-American president, but let us also bear in mind that he is but a symbol, and our need and faith may not suffice for the symbol of change to deliver real change.

There is a tremendous schism between what Barack Obama is saying, and what he is doing. Already, he is gathering around him a group of people that are not only likely to maintain status quo, but worse, cause our current catastrophic situation to worsen.

On November 17, Obama promised on CBS News 60 Minutes to shut down the Guantanamo Bay concentration camp, while his advisers are simultaneously crafting a plan to create a brand new system of "Preventive Detention" and "National Security Courts." Preventive detention facilities do not give people the right to challenge their own detention, which is essentially what the Guantanamo Bay gulag has been all about - detaining people without charging them with a crime, and without trial. All we have at the moment is a suggestion of brand change, but nothing about policy change.

Obama promises to restore the moral stature of the United States. He has John Brennan and Jami Miscik, former intelligence officials under George Tenet, leading his review of intelligence agencies and making recommendations to the new administration. Brennan supported warrantless wiretapping and kidnapping (extraordinary rendition) and Miscik was involved with the politicized intelligence alleging WMDs in Iraq. They were both part of the team that provided the phony intelligence when Tenet informed Bush during the lead up to the Iraq invasion that the intelligence to support it was a "slam dunk." The incoming administration has also revealed that there will be no attempt to bring criminal charges against government officials who authorized or engaged in torture during the Bush presidency.

The new Defense team is being led by former Deputy Defense Secretary John P. White, who is the chair of the Kennedy School of Middle East Initiative at Harvard, and Michele Flournoy, president of the Center for a New American Security famed for the Iraq bombing and sanctions under President Bill Clinton.

Obama's transition team leaders are six of his top fundraisers, four of whom raised $500,000 or more for his campaign. One of them, Tom Donilan, was a lobbyist for mortgage giant Fannie Mae during 1999-2005. The President-elect himself voted in favor of the recent $750 billion bailout.

We were also treated to an echo of hollow rhetoric from the Bush chambers when the new president said on CBS that, "It is a top priority for us to stamp out al Qaeda once and for all," and that killing or capturing the groups mastermind Osama bin Laden was "critical" to US security.

On that note, let us note that Obama has already made it clear he refuses to "rule out" using mercenary companies in war zones, he has labeled Iran's Revolutionary Guard as a "terrorist organization," he plans to escalate the war in Afghanistan, and he has pledged to use unilateral force in Pakistan to defend US interests.

Obama's running mate, Joe Biden, despite having stated that his vote to authorize the use of force in Iraq was "mistaken," was an important facilitator of the war. He has also shamelessly championed the absurd idea of partitioning Iraq into three areas based primarily on ethnicity and religion (Balkanization).

Nor let us forgive the apparent selection of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State. She was an ardent supporter of her husband's sanctions and bombing campaign against the people of Iraq throughout the 1990s, and she supported the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998, which helped lay the groundwork for George W. Bush's invasion in 2003. As a US Senator, Hillary Clinton said, "Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile-delivery capability and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort and sanctuary to terrorists, including al Qaida members ... I want to insure that Saddam Hussein makes no mistake about our national unity and our support for the president's efforts to wage America's war against terrorists and weapons of mass destruction."

Other so-called liberal hawks either in or advising Obama's team include the likes of Madeleine Albright, a war criminal who, as Bill Clinton's Secretary of State, was asked on 60 Minutes if she thought the price of 500,000 Iraqi children killed by the sanctions was worth the price to contain Saddam Hussein and said she thought that the price was "worth it."

The list is long, but I will just mention two more of note. Martin Indyk, the founder of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, spent years working for AIPAC and served as Clinton's ambassador to Israel and Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs, while also playing a major role in developing US policy toward Iraq and Iran. In addition to his work for the US government, he has worked for the Israeli government, and with the neo-conservative think-tank the Project for the New American Century - which devised the US blueprint for global domination.

The idea of Obama keeping Robert Gates as Secretary of Defense is equally disturbing. Let us remember, it is Gates who supports a new generation of nuclear weapons at a time when even George Shultz and Henry Kissinger are calling for nuclear abolition. Gates wants to apply his surge approach to Afghanistan, and while he has criticized the massive budget and influence of the Pentagon, when he had the chance to rectify both problems, he has refused to do so. For example, in his FY 2009 budget request - the last he will be officially responsible for - he added $36 billion, an increase former CENTCOM commander Anthony Zinni noted, "is roughly equivalent to the entire budget for International Affairs."

Schism Galore

On November 16 it was reported that Obama is pursuing an ambitious peace plan in the Middle East that involves the recognition of Israel by the Arab world in exchange for its withdrawal to pre-1967 borders.

Yet, the first appointment he made was of Rahm Israel Emanuel as his White House Chief of Staff, easily the most powerful office in the executive branch. In the 1940s Rahm's father, Benjamin, helped smuggle weapons to the Irgun, the Zionist militia of former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin. The Irgun carried out numerous terrorist attacks on Palestinian civilians, including the bombing of Jerusalem's King David Hotel in 1946.

Rahm's father, commenting on how his son would influence US policies toward Israel, is reported to have told an Israeli paper, "Obviously he will influence the president to be pro-Israel. Why wouldn't he? What is he, an Arab? He's not going to clean the floors of the White House."

To his credit, Emanuel apologized for his father's incendiary remarks. But that does not alter the fact that he has been a consistent and vocal pro-Israel hardliner. In July 2006, Emanuel was one of several members who called for the cancellation of a speech by visiting Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to the Congress because al-Maliki had criticized Israel's bombing of Lebanon. Around the same time, Emanuel referred to the Lebanese and Palestinian governments as ‘totalitarian entities with militias and terrorists acting as democracies" in a speech supporting a House resolution backing Israel's bombing of both countries that had caused thousands of civilian casualties. He accompanied Obama to an AIPAC executive board meeting last June, immediately after the Illinois senator had addressed the pro-Israel lobby's conference.

Emanuel is one of the most influential politicians and fundraisers in the party, and has played not an insignificant role in the costliest campaign for presidency that the country has known.

Sheldon Wolin writes in "Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism":
"When a minimum of a million dollars is required of House candidates and elected judges, and when patriotism is for the draft free to extol and for the ordinary citizen to serve, in such times it is a simple act of bad faith to claim that politics-as-we-know-it can miraculously cure the evils which are essential to its very existence."

Security Lies in Securing Bases

"The truth is replaced by silence, and the silence is a lie."
- Yevgeny Yevteshenko

Barack Obama announced on CBS that immediately upon taking office on January 20, he and his security advisers will "start executing a plan that draws down our troops" from Iraq.

What we never hear him mention is the massive US military infrastructure being developed in Iraq. The US "embassy" in Iraq is the largest embassy in the world and the most secure diplomatic compound in the world.

At a construction budget that now exceeds $1 billion, the "embassy" is a self-sustaining cluster of 21 buildings reinforced 2.5 times the usual standards, with some walls as thick as 15 feet.

Plans are for over 1,000 US government officials to work and reside there. They will have access to gyms, swimming pools, barber and beauty shops, food courts and the commissary. There will also be large-scale barracks for troops, a school, locker rooms, a warehouse, a vehicle maintenance garage, and six apartment buildings with a total of 619 one-bedroom units. The total site will be two-thirds the area of the National Mall in Washington, DC. And, luckily for these "government officials," their water and electricity supplies and sewage treatment plants will be independent of Baghdad's city utilities. Meanwhile, one of four residents of Baghdad, a capital city of over six million, are now displaced from their homes thanks to the so-called surge. Of those lucky enough to still have a roof over their head, they receive an average of 3-4 hours of electricity on good days, and recent reports show that at least 45 percent of Iraqis lack access to safe drinking water.

Then there are the permanent military bases in Iraq.

To give you an idea of what these look like, let's start with Camp Anaconda, near Balad. Spread over a modest 15 square miles, the base boasts two swimming pools, a gym, a mini-golf course and first-run movie theater.

There are 30,000 soldiers who live at the Balad Air Base, where they can inspect new iPod accessories in one of the two base exchanges, which additionally offer piles of the latest electronics and racks of CDs to choose from. Thousands of civilian contractors live at the base in a section called "KBR-land." Doctors at the base hospital carry out as many as 400 surgeries every month on wounded troops.

Air Force officials on the base claim their runway is one of the busiest in the world. A steady stream of unmanned Predator drones carrying Hellfire missiles take off from there along with F-16s, C-130s, helicopters and other aircraft from a total of 250 that the base houses.

If our troops aren't up for the rather lavish dinners served by Third Country nationals from India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh working for slave wages, they can dine at Burger King, Pizza Hut, Popeye's or Subway, then wash it down with a mocha from Starbucks.

There are other gigantic bases in Iraq, such as Camp Victory near Baghdad Airport, which when complete will be twice the size of Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo, currently the largest overseas US base since Vietnam.

At Camp Liberty, adjacent to Camp Victory, soldiers even compete in triathlons. According to a news article on a DOD web site, "The course, longer than 140 total miles, spanned several bases in the greater Camp Victory area in west Baghdad."

There is never any talk of full withdrawal of all forces from Iraq because US policy dictates a continuance of its military presence there. Less than two weeks after the fall of Baghdad on April 9, 2003, military officials announced the US intention to maintain at least four large bases in Iraq for future use, to be located respectively near Baghdad International Airport (where the triathlon was), at Tallil near Nasiriyah in the south, at either Irbil or Qayyarah (80 kilometers apart) in the Kurdish north, and one in western al-Anbar province at al-Asad. These do not include Camp Anaconda in Balad.

Billions of dollars have been spent in their construction, and if today they are in the mentioned locations, it only indicates that the military planners had blueprints ready long before Mr. Bush declared that major combat operations were over in Iraq.

Note that while US officials never use the word "permanent" when referring to military bases in Iraq, they do talk of "permanent access." I quote from a front page story in The New York Times on April 19, 2003, entitled "Pentagon Expects Long Term Access to Four Key Bases in Iraq": "There will probably never be an announcement of permanent stationing of troops. Not permanent basing, but permanent access is all that is required, officials say."

None of the 700-plus US military bases and installations located abroad are considered "permanent," which is why ambivalent instruments like SOFA, the Status of Forces Agreement exist.

A quick glance at US government military strategy documents is even more revealing.

The 2002 National Security Strategy claims: "Our forces will be strong enough to dissuade potential adversaries from pursuing a military build-up in hopes of surpassing, or equaling, the power of the United States." To accomplish this, it adds, we will "require bases and stations within and beyond Western Europe and Northeast Asia."

Another interesting document is "Joint Vision 2020," within which the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff's "vision" is, "Dedicated individuals and innovative organizations transforming the joint force of the 21st Century to achieve full spectrum dominance: persuasive in peace, decisive in war, preeminent in any form of conflict."

The Quadrennial Defense Review offers another priceless key to US foreign policy. In this document, a stated ambition for the US military is to have the capacity to fight "multiple, overlapping wars" (Afghanistan, Iraq, etc. ...) and to use the US military to "ensure that all major and emerging powers are integrated as constructive actors and stakeholders into the international system."

What can be a more obvious proclamation from US policymakers about having replaced the Cold War with a Long War for Global Empire and Unchallenged Military Hegemony? Viewed through this lens, it is not difficult to comprehend the need for permanent US bases in Iraq and elsewhere.

At the height of the Roman Empire, Rome had 39 foreign military outposts. The British had 38 at their peak. The US, in the twilight of her lust for empire, currently has just over 730 according to the Department of Defense.

We have not heard from our new President-elect any articulation of the intent of total withdrawal of all US military personnel and bases from Iraq. Nor has he made any suggestion about the imperative to alter the country's policy of global domination.

Making Real the Symbol

But this is not the time to despair, or merely hope.

"The cure for despair is not hope. It's discovering what we want to do about something we care about."
- Margaret Wheatley

To underscore the essence of this moment in history, I refer once again to my partner's email from Africa, "We must not forget the tremendous responsibility we have now, to see that Obama maintains his promise of change ... we must not relinquish this moment nor this victory into his hands entirely. As he learns to lead us, so must we learn to lead him."

Dahr Jamail, an independent journalist, is the author of "Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches From an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq," (Haymarket Books, 2007). Jamail reported from occupied Iraq for eight months as well as from Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Turkey over the last four years.



Substantial portions of this article are based on bad logic and (McCain would be proud) guilt by association arguments. Let's review. Obama plans to draw down our troops, and yet Bush built a big embassy in Baghdad. So? How are those two things related? (Hint: they're not.) Obama chose Rahm Emanuel as his chief of staff, and Rahm's dad is virulently pro-Israel. So Obama's lying about bringing peace to the Middle East! That totally makes sense. Obama is calling upon Martin Indyk, who once worked for the Israeli government and "with" PNAC (whatever that means). So am I to assume that Obama intends to engage in preventitive wars based on false intelligence because he has appointed Mr. Indyk? Do I need to keep going? In conclusion, Dahr Jamail, to answer your question ("But is there change"): no. Believe it or not, Obama has not managed to change everything that happened over the last eight years during the three weeks since he won the election, before even taking office. Take some Xanax. Relax a little. Give Obama a week or two in the White House. If he does turn out to be a spineless creature of the DLC variety, there will be plenty of time to dump on him over the next 4 years.

As I've said in many other places, we can't expect the wannabe "rulers" of our "Democracy" to practice self-reform. That's not in their vernacular. The people heading the corporations who are calling the shots are the ones we have to shut down, and the only way to do this is to remove our tiny aphid selves from their fiscal control. This is not just a matter of protest or political vision, it's also a matter of necessity. As the collapse that these imbeciles have brought upon us progresses, the corporations that have taken over systems of delivery of food and other essentials will be failing. As they fail, they will remove themselves- and large chunks of the grid- from operation. Those of us still reliant upon these systems will find that we're S.O.L.. On the other hand, if we set ourselves up to be self-sufficient now, then we not only will spare ourselves the worst of the deprivations, but will also be removing our energy- the only true "bottom line"- from their control. Win-win, game over.

Give the guy a break! It's true that he might not be able to change that much, particularly with regard to the military budget. The military-industrial complex has clearly staked out its territory and cutting its financial stranglehold on the American taxpayers is probably beyond even the president's reach. But look what we have had for the last 8 years! At least Obama will inject some badly needed intelligence and compassion into the execution of his office, and we cannot overlook what his presidency means symbolically.

The beauty about democracy is that we get to vote in four years if O delivers on real change. He deserves a chance to deliver results before we can judge him as more of the same. Just as he led a nation to vote for change, we must give him the opportunity to lead his government to change. Speculate all you want, what is truth is where we are in two years.

To continue the TSA analogy--realize that if you are wealthy enough to own or lease your own plane or helicopter you can: (1) fly many places in the US without being tracked (by radar) or filing a flight plan; (2) you never ever have to go through security at small airports--apparently the US considers you to be no security risk whatsoever, definitely safe--solely because you are sufficiently wealthy to own or lease a plane, jet or helicopter; (3) you can bring in anything, transport anyone or anything--no one will ever know. Remember that a jet full of Saudis left the US after 09/11--the only civilian jet allowed to fly in the days immediately following 09/11. The wealthy have rights the rest of us do not. I have heard of no suggestions to change that, not from Homeland Security, not from Obama's incoming "team." Sure, people are upset because Obama's appointments strongly indicate that he will be taking advice, letting situations & issues be framed by people who are hawkish & who see things not much differently than those in office. Only by degree. If he's interested in taking advice from people w/different perspectives, why isn't he hiring them? It's not like there aren't plenty of intelligent experienced people out there (maybe they just haven't been in power in the Swamp of DC)--but Obama isn't hiring them. I'd say he's signaling that he isn't even interested in dissent or lively discussions from people with different points of views & perspectives. I agree, that's a bad sign.

Bama ain't off to such a good start? Excuse me? He is NOT president yet. Give it a rest and see what happens after the 20th instead of falling on the knife now. This attitude depresses everyone and accomplishes nothing.

I agree that one could perceive the unfolding events regarding Obama's moves from this sort of pessimistic point of view; I still choose to hope that Obama is in fact what he symbolizes for many people - let's re-examine this issue in a year after we see what he does, and in the meantime voice our views to him and our other leaders in hope that this democracy can hear the voices of the people. If we don't do that, then we can't complain about the decisions that are made by the people with the keys.

Well, I guess I see this differently. The writer is despairing - and the new administration has not even been sworn in! What I see is that Obama is assembling a team to work for him - not to do what they want to do as he stands idly by, watching. To my eye, standing idly by and watching is not who Obama is. If he assembles a team of people who know about the subject matter, it will be for him to tell them what he wants them to do - not that they will either (1) do as they please or (2) tell him what to do. Frankly, I am so sick and tired of all the emotion of a 2-year campaign that I'd like a bit of respite from the carping and backbiting. We must absolutely not abdicate our responsibility to let the President know exactly what we elected him to do and then, for goodness sake, let's give the man a chance to do it!!!!



Will the World End in 2012?

Thousands Worldwide Prepare for the Apocalypse, Expected in 2012


July 3, 2008

Two years ago, Patrick Geryl, then 51, quit his job as a laboratory worker for a French oil company. He'd saved up just enough money to last him until December 2012. After that, he thought, he wouldn't need it anyway.

Unprecedented catastrophe will precede the end of the world in 2012, believers say, such as massive earthquakes, tidal waves and volcanic eruptions, among other calamities.

Instead, Geryl, a soft-spoken man who had studied chemistry in his younger years, started preparing for the apocalypse. He founded a "survival group" for likeminded men and women, aimed at living through the catastrophe he knew was coming.

He started gathering materials necessary to survive — water purifiers, wheelbarrows (with spare tires), dust masks and vegetable seeds. His list of survival goods runs 11 pages long.

"You have to understand, there will be nothing, nothing left," Geryl told ABC News from his home in Antwerp, Belgium. "We will have to start an entire civilization from scratch."

That's because Geryl believes the world as we know it will end in 2012. He points to the ancient Mayan cyclical calendars, the longest of which last renewed itself approximately 5,125 years ago and is set to end again, supposedly with catastrophic consequences, in 2012. He speaks of the ancient Egyptians, who, he claims, saw 2012 as a year of great change too. And he points to science: NASA predicts a sharp increase in the number of sunspots and sun flares for 2012, he said, sure to cause electrical failures and satellite disruptions.

All this adds up, Geryl said, to unprecedented catastrophe. First, a polar reversal will cause the north to become the south and the sun to rise in the west. Shattering earthquakes, massive tidal waves and simultaneous volcanic eruptions will follow. Nuclear reactors will melt, buildings will crumble, and a cloud of volcanic dust will block out the sun for 40 years. Only the prepared will survive, Geryl said, and not even all of them.

These may sound like the ravings of a madman, or perhaps the head of a small apocalyptic sect. But Geryl is not the only one who believes in the apocalypse. Thousands of people worldwide seem to be preparing, in one way or another, for the end of days in 2012. Survival groups exist in Europe, Canada and the United States. A simple Google search for "2012" and "the end of the world" brings up nearly 300,000 hits. And the video-sharing Web site YouTube hosts more than 65,000 clips informing and warning viewers about their fate in 2012.

"It's bigger than Y2K," said Mark van Stone, a specialist of Mayan hieroglyphic writings and author of a forthcoming book on 2012. "The year is like a pop song or a popular movie. You type in 2012, and you get hundreds of thousands of hits."

Dennis McClung, 28, a project manager for Home Depot from Phoenix, Ariz., runs one of the Web sites dedicated to 2012, an online survival supply store, which sells gas masks, knife kits, bullet-proof vests and more.

"I'm not a firm believer in one specific prophecy," said McClung, who runs his site with his wife, Danielle. "But I think we ought to be prepared for anything."

Even with December 2012 still 4? years away, McClung said business is booming. His Web site, which features an "official 2012 countdown" clock and exhorts customers to "be smart, be ready," averages several thousand visitors a week. McClung's best-sellers, he said, are emergency medical supplies and water purifiers.

"I get a lot of hits from India. I get a lot of hits from the Netherlands," McClung said. "But my No. 1 customer is the U.S."

One of those customers is Thomas Lehmann, a 25-year-old factory worker from Cape Girardeau, Mo. Lehmann said he started researching 2012 when he was 12 years old, and still spends about two hours a day reading about the topic both online and in books. He said he is saving money for survival gear.

"Whatever happens, I'm just trying to be prepared for it," Lehmann said. "I'm just learning to be independent of the system. I mean electricity, vehicles, alternate sources of energy. I'm learning to live without gas, basically be self-reliant."

"If this stuff does happen," Lehmann said, adding, "I have a way to eat. I can hunt, I can fish and I can purify water. I think it's people in the big cities that need to be worried. People that can't provide for themselves."

But for all the hype, there is little evidence the ancient Maya ever intended for the end of their calendar to be read as a portent for disaster.

"These prophecies of doom really don't have any basis in what we know about the Maya," said Stephen Houston, a professor of anthropology at Brown University and a specialist of Maya hieroglyphic writing. "The Maya descriptions barely talk about this event."

Instead, Houston said, the Maya saw their "long count" — the longest of their cyclical calendars — coming to an end in 2012 but also beginning anew on that date, without disastrous consequences.

"Really, it's a conversion of people's anxieties about our times, and finding some remote mythological precedent or prediction of it," Houston said about the origins of the current 2012 myths. "People like to believe that ancient wisdom is somehow predicting this time of upheaval."

John Hall, a professor of sociology at the University of California Davis who is writing a book on the history of apocalyptic ideas, agreed. He said movements predicting the end of the world often reflect a much larger nervousness about the state of our society.

"Terrorism, 9/11, ecological disasters, floods and earthquakes," Hall said. "[There is] a sense that modern civilization has had its run. Those kinds of anxieties are much more widely shared than simply among people who believe in the exact date."

To Lehmann, though, those very events are warnings of what's to come.

"We had Hurricane Katrina, the recent cyclone in Myanmar," Lehmann said. "We've got major flooding in Iowa. We're always going to have natural disasters. But they are picking up quite frequently now."

Lehmann said he eventually hoped to move away from Cape Girardeau, built on the banks of the Mississippi River, to the higher plains of southwest Missouri to keep safe from the floods sure to follow the earthquakes of 2012.

Geryl and his Belgian and Dutch followers have similar intentions, though their plan will take them much farther from home. They are looking to buy a plot of land high up in African mountains, where they'll be able to withstand the monstrous tidal waves and wait out the cloud of volcanic dust that they said would block out the sun.

Geryl said the group has recently zeroed in on a location, but won't reveal his find for fear of tipping off rival survival groups in the United States and Canada. On that land, Geryl's group, whose core membership consists of 16 people but whose wait list supposedly lists hundreds, will build concrete dwellings or outfit caves for survival.

After the cloud clears, Geryl said, they will attempt to create a new, better civilization.

"A guiding principle will be to keep the world population as small as possible so as not to get into the same problems we face now," Geryl said, adding that the group is currently looking for sponsors and hopes to move to Africa in 2011. "There is too little oil, too little grain in the world now. Those are the kinds of problems we want to avoid."

One of the group's members, Jan, a 57-year-old carpenter from Amsterdam whose name has been changed because he doesn't want to be identified in the press, recently drove five hours to attend one of Geryl's meetings in Antwerp.

"I thought, if there's a chance that we can start a new civilization, I want to contribute," Jan told ABC News. "Because whether I make it or not, and there's only a small chance I will, this is important."

Jan, who has never been married and has no children, said he has lost friends over 2012.

"All the people I've ever told about this have declared me crazy," he said. "It makes people feel uncomfortable. Now I just keep it to myself."

Geryl said he found comfort in sharing his knowledge with others. Since "discovering" what the future holds, he has written three books on 2012 and maintains a Web site on the subject.

When asked what would happen if December 2012 were to come and go without the earthquakes and tsunamis of his predictions, Geryl fell silent.

"I don't really contemplate that possibility," he said. "[My predictions] are so spectacular, they can't possibly be wrong."


Related website, videos and articles:

This website is entirely devoted to December 21, 2012

If you want to explore the MANY videos featuring various catastrophic scenarios for 2012 click HERE

Does the Sun have a doomsday twin? (18 Oct 2002)
(...) Intrigued by the work of two palaeontologists working for the University of Chicago, Prof Whitmire, along with Nasa colleague Dr Al Jackson, had earlier attempted to explain the amazing discovery that six apocalyptic events, including the extinction of the dinosaurs, have all occurred, like clockwork, every 26 to 30 million years. To try to explain this mass extinction cycle, they looked to the possibility that comet showers were to blame. (...) Under their original theory, called the Nemesis theory, this small dark star, which lurks at around 90,000 times farther away than the Earth is from the Sun, may be on an orbit that, once every 30 million years, ploughs it into the densely packed inner cloud. Here its immense gravitational pull would drag out several of the Oort comets and give them the "kick" needed to send them towards the Sun on orbits perilously close to the Earth. This explains, in the professor's view, the ominous mass extinction cycle, due to regular periods of increased cometary activity every 30 million years.However, before we head for the bomb shelters, we should take heed of the professor's words: "As a practical matter our models will never be generally accepted (and shouldn't be) until the actual object is found." However stressing that they are "sufficiently plausible to give incentives for others to look".Today, their current paper has moved away from the Nemesis theory and proposed, on the basis of comet orbits, a less massive planet about three times the mass of Jupiter. None the less, with an explanation for the mass extinction cycle yet to be found, he has admitted that they may not be mutually exclusive; and that there could be two dark stars, one a failed partner to our own, and another one that is acting almost as an alarm clock for doomsday. Even so, he says: "I'm still hopeful that ultimately these might turn out to be the same object.".l




Fireworks Light Up Dubai as Gaza Sleeps in Darkness

24 Nov 2008

By Nadia W. Awad

Dubai was the center of attention again last week as it spent $20 million on an exorbitantly lavish, all-night party to celebrate the opening of its latest hotel, the Atlantis Palm Jumeirah. Described as the party of the decade, no expense was spared. Two thousand celebrities accepted an all-expenses-paid invitation to join the celebrations, with Hollywood stars such as Robert de Niro, Lindsay Lohan, Wesley Snipes, and at least one Olsen twin found sipping Dom Pérignon with Dubai's royal family. Kylie Minogue was paid somewhere in the region of $1 and $3.5 million for a 45 minute performance, followed by DJ Sam Ronson and others. The 1,539 room hotel boasts the exclusive Bridge Suite, which alone costs $35,000 per night to stay in. We all know the Chinese like to do things big, but the fireworks display at the Beijing Olympics was dwarfed by the Atlantis's display, which was seven times the size of the Beijing show and could apparently be seen quite clearly from space.

But before you start wondering whether you've wandered onto the wrong site or are reading an article from The Insider, rest assured - this descriptive introduction does have a point! I don't believe I was the only person to read about the party and its copious expense without thinking that the timing of the whole event was in very poor taste. As I read a description of the elaborate fireworks display, I couldn't help but consider the 1.5 million Palestinians living in darkness in Gaza, courtesy of an Israeli blockade on food, fuel and medical supplies- 20 days and counting so far. Meanwhile, the world is sinking deeper into a global financial crisis which Dubai seems to be in denial of; millions of people have and will lose their jobs; and military and humanitarian crises are still ongoing in places like Darfur, Iraq, DR Congo and Zimbabwe. Not to mention the 2,000 or so flights to Dubai for the A-list celebrities that probably chipped off a little more from our melting polar icecaps. Still, there was no evidence of concern as tycoons and celebrities streamed into Dubai for what was reportedly the world's most expensive private party. In true capitalist style, the rich have once again found a way to 'party as the world burns'.

However, this article is not a criticism of capitalism, or the activities of the world's rich. There are plenty of other people who are better adept at doing that job. Rather, my argument is with Dubai itself, as an emirate of the UAE and a member of the Arab and Muslim world. There is no denying that Dubai, along with the other emirates, has given millions in aid to the Palestinians and the Palestinian Authority, for which Palestinians are ever grateful. There is even a section of Gaza named after Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the late ruler of Abu Dhabi, who funded the construction of housing units there. Nevertheless, there is more than one type of support that can be given. Unfortunately, Dubai usually resorts to what it does best - it throws money at a problem, just as it has thrown money to the Palestinian people. When it comes to moral and political support, it is less forthcoming. While we are aware that the original residents of Dubai support the Palestinian cause, we rarely hear their government take a controversial stance on it. True, like most other Arab and Muslim nations, Dubai does not have diplomatic or political relations with Israel. However, it has relations of another kind. In this regard, the name Lev Leviev comes to mind.

Earlier this year, controversy erupted when Dubai announced it had allowed the diamond magnate, Lev Leviev, to open two retail stores in the Gulf emirate, including one just opened in the Atlantis. What it did not announce was that Lev Leviev is an Israeli billionaire and a major funder of illegal settlement construction in the Palestinian Territories, including infamous settlements such as Har Homa and Maale Adumim. Two of his companies, Africa-Israel and Leader Management & Development, as well as several other subsidiaries such as Danya Cebus, have been primary forces in the displacement of Palestinian villagers from their lands in the West Bank. Leviev is also a major donor to the Israeli Land Redemption Fund, which is known to use illicit means to obtain Palestinian land for Israeli settlements. Granted, the Dubai authorities initially displayed an unwillingness to award the Israeli billionaire a license to do business in Dubai; but apparently those feelings of reluctance were dispelled when Leviev used American and European connections to persuade Dubai officials otherwise.

To donate millions of dollars in assistance to the Palestinians and then to profit from business dealings with a primary funder of Palestinian land theft is hypocrisy at its best. The lavish hotel opening last week was just another example of Dubai's lack of tact and sensitivity. The Atlantis itself is owned by Solomon Kerzner, a South African billionaire, but the cost of the party was split between him and the Dubai government-owned Nakheel PJSC, also a developer of the hotel. Perhaps business is merely that, business. But in the heart of the Middle East, it would have behooved Dubai to express a little solidarity with the suffering of its fellow Arabs, the Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip, perhaps by donating some of the firework display funds to purchase fuel for Gaza's power plant, or by having a moment of silence. Or perhaps by kicking Leviev out of the emirate, or at least, putting pressure on him to refrain from illegal settlement building. Big business is not the only goal in life.

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband infuriated the Israeli government when he informed them of his intention to press for EU tariffs to be imposed on produce and products coming from Israeli settlements. Londoners demonstrated outside a large supermarket to bring attention to the fact that produce coming from the illegal settlements is being sold in Britain under the misleading 'West Bank' label. On the other hand, Dubai, who has more in common with us historically, geographically, culturally and religiously, is helping to bankroll a major Israeli settlement builder, indirectly causing untold misery for Palestinians. Dubai is not the first Arab state to have business dealings with Israelis, nor is it likely to be the last; but to have dealings with such a man as Leviev helps to undermine efforts to stop illegal settlement construction. As one Palestinian official in Gaza said, "We never imagined that a day would come when we would have to appeal to an Arab country to refrain from harming us and undermining our cause."

To say Palestinians feel a bit betrayed is an understatement. We definitely need humanitarian aid, but more importantly, we also need Arab and other international nations to stand by us morally and politically, shoulder to shoulder, in the face of an ever-worsening Israeli occupation. And as always, actions speak louder than words.


Related articles:

Libyan ship carrying Gaza supplies turns back (Dec 1, 2008);_ylt=AmFyLGYqhi2yIwjvXeHhbVYLewgF
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip – Israeli and Palestinian officials say a Libyan ship carrying 3,000 tons of supplies for the Gaza Strip has turned back before reaching the coast. The change of course ended the highest-profile attempt yet to break the blockade of Hamas-ruled Gaza by Israel and Egypt. A smaller vessel carrying activists has made three successful runs from Cyprus to Gaza this year. It was not clear why the Libyan ship changed course.Israel's Foreign Ministry says there has been no contact between the Libyan ship and the Israeli navy. However, Gaza lawmaker Jamal Khoudary says the ship was stopped by the Israeli navy Monday morning. He says he lost contact with the vessel for about 45 minutes and was then informed it had turned back.

Gaza: Siege report for the past 20 days (24 November, 2008)
Popular Committee Against Siege PCAS issues a comprehensives report on the latest of siege outcomes which hit all life aspects. The crisis came up strongly as Israel completely closed crossings, banned food stuff, fuel shipments and all products into Gaza Strip.The recent Israeli hazardous siege tightened 20 days ago is considered as a death sentence against Human as well as birds and animals. PCAS chairman, MP Jamal EL khoudary expressed his deep anger towards Israeli policy of collective Punishment. He considered what’s happening as flagrant violations of all international humanitarian accords particularly the Fourth Genva Convention.This new report comes out as a final call before a real collapse hits the life totally. This report uncovers part of enormous repercussions resulted in Israeli inhuman siege. It is also a clear message to United Nations, European Union and International Community to take responsibility immediately and end siege.Siege Report of the latest 20 days only: CLIP - Please go at the URL above to read the details on the consequences of the medieval, abhorrent siege and press this issue with your local government representatives so that they take action to stop this.

US Activist Detained in Israeli Jail Condemns Blockade of Gaza
On Monday, the Israeli navy seized fifteen Palestinian fishermen and three international activists off the coast of Gaza. The fishermen were released, but the activists remain in an Israeli jail. We speak to Darlene Wallach from inside the Masiyahu Prison near Tel Aviv. Democracy Now! -- Broadcast November 21, 2008

UN human rights chief calls for an immediate end to the Israeli blockade of Gaza (19 November, 2008)
GENEVA – The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights called today for an immediate end to the Israeli blockade of Gaza. “By function of this blockade, 1.5 million Palestinian men, women and children have been forcibly deprived of their most basic human rights for months. This is in direct contravention of international human rights and humanitarian law. It must end now ,” she said. CLIP

Hungry Gazans Resort to Animal Feed as U.N. Blasts Israel
Half of Gaza's bakeries have closed down and the other half have resorted to animal feed to produce bread as Israel's complete blockade of the coastal territory enters its 19th day.

Gaza power plant shuts down
Gaza's sole power plant has shut down because Israel will not allow the importation of replacement parts needed for urgent repairs, an official in the impoverished Palestinian territory's energy authority said on Tuesday.

Top UN official: Israel's policies are like apartheid of bygone era
United Nations General Assembly President Miguel D'Escoto Brockmann on Monday likened Israel's policies toward the Palestinians to South Africa's treatment of blacks under apartheid.

Cynthia McKinney Prevented From Leaving U.S. (November 25, 2008)
Former Congresswoman and presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney has been prevented from leaving the country after she planned to give a speech in Damascus Syria at a Conference being held to commemorate the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. (...) Has McKinney been put on a terrorist watch list merely for speaking out in support of 9/11 first responders and passionately questioning the official 9/11 story?As many will recall, McKinney was perhaps the first major public figure to doubt the official version of events way back in 2002, which at the time was tantamount to treason.McKinney has since become a vocal advocate for the 9/11 truth movement and appeared at numerous 9/11 truth conference and events.She also made headlines for attempting to get answers on what had happened to $2.3 trillion dollars that was quietly declared "missing" from the Pentagon budget the day before 9/11.McKinney was set to travel to Damascus to give a speech about the ailing plight of Palestinians and the Israeli lock down of Gaza, which is preventing Palestinian citizens, half of them children, from getting access to basic staples such as food, fuel and medical supplies, but Uncle Sam stopped her from doing so.

The Cause of the Conflict. Fixing Blame
The terrible war between Israel and Palestine that erupted in a second uprising of the prisoners (Intifada II) 20 months ago has claimed over 2,000 Palestinian lives and almost 600 Israelis. It is time to name and condemn the responsible parties. Only then can the killing stop. This will be the least complicated of this 9-or 10-chapter series entitled "Inside the Gaza Strip." The final chapter will be completed next week.Naming the guilty parties is easy because they have come forward publicly to name themselves. The guilty are neither the Palestinian nor the Israeli people. At the root of the problem is a race-hate cult that has emerged under American Zionist leadership. Without this unholy alliance there would have been no uprisings, because the West Bank and Gaza would not have become occupied territories.Ralph Reed, Chairman of the Georgia Republican Party and former executive director of Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition, and Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, founder of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, have become co-chairmen of a new anti-Islamic hate group called the "Stand for Israel" campaign." Southern Baptists Jerry Falwell and Oliver North, and many others have expressed support for the campaign's goal of recruiting 100,000 churches and a million Christians to "support Israel".Rabbi Eckstein describes "Stand for Israel" as the "the Christian AIPAC" (American Israeli Political Affairs Committee). Please see our report on an AIPAC meeting held on May 13, 2002. At that meeting the National Anthem of Israel was sung, but not the Star Spangled Banner ( Note that AIPAC is called "American," but it is controlled by Israel. "Stand for Israel" will also be controlled by Israel.The "Stand for Israel" campaign is a hate group pitting Christians against Muslims and led by Israeli Patriots. The Southern Baptist Convention is for Israel and against Islam. Our source is the Christian leaders' own words. Let us quote some of its founders and most powerful supporters:According to a report by Adella M. Banks of the Religious News Service, the new SBC president, Reverend Jack Graham, pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas, joined other leaders of his denomination in publicly denouncing Islam's venerated prophet Mohammed as a "demon-possessed pedophile." This could be likened to calling the pope a pervert--a highly unusual act by a dignified church leadership committed to Christ's commandment to "love your brother" and even "your enemy." CLIP

The Source of the Problem in the Mid East — Part II: Why Judeo-Christians Support War (2002)
(...) Reverend Sizer's remark brings to mind another Benny; his name is Benny Hinn, not a British comic, but an American evangelist spouting inflammatory hate-filled words aimed at Muslims everywhere. Hinn was speaking to the applause of an aroused crowd of thousands in the American Airline Center in Dallas when he shocked two Ft. Worth Star Telegram religious reporters covering the July 3d event by announcing, "We are on God's side," speaking of Palestine. He shouted, "This is not a war between Jews and Arabs. It is a war between God and the Devil." Lest there be any doubt about it, Hinn was talking about a blood war in which the Israelis are "God" and the Palestinians are "the Devil." Benny Hinn is one of hundreds of acknowledged Christian Zionists who have no problem spouting outright race hatred and who join in unconditional support for Israel without regard for which or how many of Israel's enemies are killed or crippled. His boldness stems from his knowledge that the vast majority of professing Christians from whom he seeks his lavish support-the Judeo-Christians, or Christian Zionists — do not shrink at his words, because they have been conditioned to accept them, just as Roman citizens learned to accept Christian persecution, even burning alive, under Nero. Several evangelists in attendance affirmed their agreement with Hinn — "the line between Christians and Muslims is the difference between good and evil." An amazing number of professing Christians are in agreement with the fanatical likes of Hinn, including Gary Bauer, Ralph Reed, James Dobson and hundreds more. Yet Hinn's profit-seeking fanaticism is not as shocking as that of men like Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention who occupy the highest positions in the area of conservative religious thought. Land may have stopped short of branding all Muslims as devils, but he attacked their leader and Prophet and stated that, according to Baptist Bible interpretation, the Palestinian people have no legal rights to property in Palestine. (See our discussion of Southern Baptists entitled "The Cause of the Conflict: Fixing Blame".) The more politically conservative and libertarian the speaker expressing hatred for Islam, the more shocking the statement sounds. One example is Samuel Blumenfeld, a veteran textbook author and advocate of home education. His attack on Islam in a story entitled "Religion and Satanism" in the April 2002 conservative, Calvinist Chalcedon Report leaves little room for civil liberties and freedom of thought. He writes, "Islam is a religion ruled by Satan," and asks, "Can anyone under the influence of Satan be trusted?" Blumenfeld shows poor judgment and a lack of morality when he allows phrases such as "willing agents of Satan," "another manifestation of Satanism" and "the willingness of Muslims to believe blatant lies," to spill from his pen. How can anyone interpret these words by Land, Hinn, Blumenfeld, and yes, our own President, as anything less than race hatred? Who would make such generalized and transparently false statements against any other minority except Muslims? About 100 million American Christians need to recover their true faith in Christ Jesus, who never denounced any individual on account of his group. Jesus even tried to save the Pharisees, and only denounced them when they showed themselves to be deceivers. There is not a word in the New Testament that urges any follower of Jesus to murder one child in Iraq or condemn Palestine to death. Race hatred is a Zionist, not a Christian, strategy. Christian Zionism may be the most bloodthirsty apostasy in the entire history of Christianity or any other religion. Shame on its leaders: they have already brought the blood of untold numbers innocent people down upon the spires and prayer benches of America's churches. CLIP





Meet the Shministim

Yuval Oron-Ofir
Name: Yuval Oron-Ofir
Age: 19

Why I am one of the Shministim:

“I am convinced that it is no one but ourselves who determines that it is our fate to live by the sword. There is another way, which is not the way of war. This is the path of dialogue, of understanding, of concession, forgiveness, of peace.

I believe that a person should take responsibility and feel reconciled to the way he chooses. This is why I shall not join an army behind whose actions I cannot stand and whose behavior I cannot justify.”

Sentence: 24th Nov. - 7th Dec. 2008 (14 days)

Yuval is currently in prison serving a 14 day sentence since the 24th of November 2008.

Full Declaration of Refusal:

“I would like to ask you to recognize that I have a conscientious problem with enlisting in the army. I believe that the Israeli army has lost its mission as the organization that defends the country’s citizens within its borders.

For 41 years now, Israel has been imposing an occupation of lands that are not its own. Lacking any moral justification or values, it rules over these lands by armed force. It is very clear that this occupation has not been dictated by fate: it is the outcome of nationalist policies that are aimed to expand the boundaries of the Jewish state into territories inhabited by another nation.

To maintain control over the Palestinian people and its land, Israel corrupts its own state machinery: those who are in charge of the legal system turn crime into legal action; those who have the mandate to judge release their sure grip on justice, and those with executive power find themselves forced to soil their hands as they obey orders.

A human being among other humans, I, Yuval, feel committed to some basic values without which we cannot exist. I have been studying and learning about the occupation these past years, I feel its pains and as I do so I am becoming familiar with the ills of humankind. What I see is that with every additional day when Palestinians are kept by force on their lands, my country manages to crush one more value, one more rule. What I see is a country guided by the inanity of its leaders, a country in thrall to an insatiable hunger for another street, another tree to cram into its shattered borders. I see with what ease our parents close their eyes to the atrocities that are being committed in our name. I see how we are all turning inwards, just so we may not have to hear the screams that are reaching us from the other side. All known human atrocities have been possible only because of blind obedience, silence, and an indifference to the fate of the other.

It is because of all this that I regard it my moral duty to refuse serving in the army. My conscience does not allow me to join an organization that demolishes, by fiat of the state, the homes of innocent people, kills children who are not part of the armed fighting, and which prevents sick people from getting due treatment. The army interferes with the freedom of movement, undermines human rights and robs people of their land because they are not Jews. Implementing government orders, the Israeli army brings oppression and terror upon three and a half million Palestinians.

With every day that passes, more people sink into this mire – these people are not bad, they are ordinary people, Jews and Palestinians who don’t resist evil and do bad things, things that are too bad. They have been told to do these things, things that are drenched in pain as well as things of whose evil they are unaware.

Today I know what they want me to do and in what they wish me to participate and I understand that I was not raised to do such things, things that I will not want to tell my children. Nobody should have to do such things.

I am convinced that it is no one but ourselves who determines that it is our fate to live by the sword. There is another way, which is not the way of war. This is the path of dialogue, of understanding, of concession, forgiveness, of peace.

I believe that a person should take responsibility and feel reconciled to the way he chooses. This is why I shall not join an army behind whose actions I cannot stand and whose behavior I cannot justify.”


More such examples of courageous, heart-centered kids at

Raz Bar-David Varon

Name: Raz Bar-David Varon
Age: 18
Why I am one of the Shministim:
"I wasn't born to serve as a soldier who occupies another, and the struggle against the occupation is mine too. It is a struggle for hope, for a reality that sometimes feels so far away. I have a responsibility for this society. My responsibility is to refuse."
First Sentence: 3rd - 21st Nov. 2008 (18 days)
Second Sentence: 24th Nov. - 30th Nov. 2008 (currently in prison) 

Read more

Omer Goldman

Name: Omer Goldman
Age: 19
Location: Tel-Aviv
Why I am one of the Shministim:
"I believe in service to the society I am part of, and that is precisely why I refuse to take part in the war crimes committed by my country. Violence will not bring any kind of solution, and I shall not commit violence, come what may."
First Sentence: 22nd Sept. - 10th Oct. 2008 (18 days)
Second Sentence: 12th - 24th Oct. 2008 (10 days)

Read more

Sahar Vardi

Name: Sahar Vardi
Age: 18
Location: Jerusalem
Why I am one of the Shministim:
"I realize that the soldier at the checkpoint is not responsible for the wretched policy of the oppressor towards civilians, I am unable to relieve that soldier of responsibility for his conduct … I mean the human responsibility of not causing another human being to suffer."
First Sentence: 25th - 31st Aug. 2008 (6 days)
Second Sentence: 12th - 30th Oct. (18 days)
Third Sentence: 3rd - 21st Nov. 2008 (18 days)

Read more

Mia Tamarin

Name: Mia Tamarin
Age: 19
Location: Tel-Aviv
Why I am one of the Shministim:
"I cannot become part of an organization the purpose of which is to fend off violence by violence, because it stands unequivocally contrary to everything I believe in and to my whole life. There always is another, non-violent option, and it is this option that I choose."
First Sentence: 28th Sept. - 10th Oct. 2008 (12 days)
Second Sentence: 12th - 24th Oct. 2008 (12 days)
Third Sentence: 5th - 23rd Nov 2008 (18 days)

Read more


Related articles:

JVP Announces Shministim Solidarity Campaign
The Jewish-American group Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) has announced a solidarity campaign with the Shministim, a group of Israeli high school students who refuse to serve in the Israeli military because of the occupation of Palestinian Territories. Historian Howard Zinn, a member of JVP’s Advisory Board, asked tens of thousands of JVP supporters to help secure thousands of letters to the ISraeli Minister of Defense on behalf of the Shministim. The Shministim will hold a Day of Action in Tel Aviv on December 18th to demand release of conscientious objectors who have been imprisoned.

Lights out in Gaza
You wouldn't know it from following the mainstream media,or from listening to any of the US presidential candidates, but some 1.5 million Palestinians are being slowly starved to death, right now, in Gaza. They have been barred from getting the food, fuel, and medical supplies they need to survive. Eighty percent of the population is dependent on food aid.What's more, the Israeli government claims this collective punishment will protect the people of Sderot, Israel who have suffered tremendously from unrelenting rocket attacks from Gazan militants. But the Gaza blockade, and Israel's ongoing restrictions of goods and free movement, home demolitions, and use of excessive force, including dropping bombs on the heads of civilians, has only caused further loss of both Palestinian and Israeli life. Since 2000, almost 3,000 Gazans and 12 residents of Sderot have died. There is a better way to bring peace, security and justice to both peoples. You probably also won't read in the US media that the US actually helped foment the civil war in Gaza Israel never ended its occupation of Gazaor that this is all made possible through American support, and can therefore be prevented. CLIP Much more to discover there!




Marine life faces 'acid threat'

By Julian Siddle Science Reporter, BBC News

25 November 2008

Man-made pollution is raising ocean acidity at least 10 times faster than previously thought, a study says.

Researchers say carbon dioxide levels are having a marked effect on the health of shellfish such as mussels.

They sampled coastal waters off the north-west Pacific coast of the US every half-hour for eight years.

The results, published in the journal PNAS, suggest that earlier climate change models may have underestimated the rate of ocean acidification.

Ocean pH

Professor Timothy Wootton from the department of ecology and evolution, University of Chicago, in Illinois, says such dramatic results were unexpected as it was thought that the huge ocean systems had the ability to absorb large quantities of CO2.

"It's been thought pH in the open oceans is well buffered, so it's surprising to see these fluctuations," he said.

The findings showed that CO2 had lowered the water pH over time, demonstrating a year-on-year increase in acidity.

Increasing quantities of dissolved CO2 will make sea water more acidic

The research involved taking daily measurements of water pH levels, salinity and temperature, off the coast of Tatoosh island, a small outcrop lying in the Pacific Ocean, just off the north-western tip of Washington state, US.

As well as measuring physical factors, the health of marine life present in the coastal ecosystem was also tracked.

Professor Wootton says biological factors were missing from previous models of ocean climate systems - and that life in the ocean, or in this case on the ocean edge, can also affect seawater pH.

"Over a short time, biology is affecting pH, through photosynthesis and respiration, but current models don't include biological activity as part of the story," he explained.

Calcium carbonate

Every summer, Professor Wootton returned to the same sites on Tatoosh island's windswept coasts, to look at the abundance and distribution of life at the water's edge. He was especially interested in barnacles, algae and the dominant species, the Californian mussel.

Seawater sampling was conducted for eight years

The mussel has a calcium carbonate -based shell, which can be weakened or even dissolved by exposure to acid. Professor Wootton says the increase in acidity may be responsible for the decline in mussels noted in the study.

"Patterns show the chances of mussels being replaced are higher than for species without calcified shells," he said.

Other species quickly move into the space previously occupied by the mussels - though one of these species, the barnacle, also has calcified shells.

To explain this apparent anomaly, Professor Wootton says the decline of the dominant species allows a window where another species may thrive - though he expects this to be temporary as the interloper too will eventually be affected by the increasing acidity.

"In the short term, the long term decline is offset by the release from competition," he explained.

Chemical oceanography

The researchers say they were surprised that the plants and animals in their study are so sensitive to CO2 changes. These organisms live in the harsh inter-tidal zones, they may be submerged under water, exposed to the sun, then lashed by waves and storms.

Professor Wootton says the most troubling finding is the speed of acidification, with the pH level dropping at a much greater rate than was previously thought.

"It's going down 10 to 20 times faster than the previous models predicted," he says.

The research team are now working together with chemical oceanographers to see how their coastal observations can be matched with large scale observations, to try to explain why the decline in pH levels seems to be happening so quickly.

"We actually know surprisingly little about how ocean acidity is changing over time, we need a broader network of measurements," said Professor Wootton.


Related articles:

Oceans Passing Critical CO2 Threshold (November 25, 2008)
UXBRIDGE, Canada - An apparent rapid upswing in ocean acidity in recent years is wiping out coastal species like mussels, a new study has found.Coral at the Great Barrier Reef. Rising carbon dioxide levels in the world's oceans due to climate change, combined with rising sea temperatures, could accelerate coral bleaching, destroying some reefs before 2050, said an Australian study in January 2002. (Reuters)"We're seeing dramatic changes," said Timothy Wootton of the Department of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Chicago, lead author of the study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study shows increases in ocean acidity that are more than 10 times faster than any prediction."It appears that we've crossed a threshold where the ocean can no longer buffer the effects of CO2 in the atmosphere," Wootton told IPS. For millions of years, the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and the ocean were in balance, but the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation has put more CO2 into the atmosphere over the last 150 years. The oceans have absorbed one-third -- about 130 billion tonnes -- of those human emissions and have become 30 percent more acidic as the extra CO2 combines with carbonate ions in seawater, forming carbonic acid.Each day, the oceans absorb 30 million tonnes of CO2, gradually and inevitably increasing their acidity. There is no controversy about this basic chemistry; however, there is disagreement about the rate at which the oceans are becoming acidic and the potential impact. (...) This dispute aside, marine scientists are very worried about ocean acidification and the potential to decimate corals and a large number other species. Some have suggested that little will be left in the oceans except bacteria, jellyfish and algae without major reductions in emissions of fossil fuels and an end to deforestation."CO2 is making the oceans very sick," said Jackie Savitz, senior campaign director for Oceana's Pollution Campaigns. Oceana is an international ocean conservation group."There is a strong likelihood of a massive extinction of corals by mid-century," Savitz said in an interview. To prevent this, atmospheric CO2 concentrations need to return to 350 parts per million, the pre-industrial level, she said. Currently CO2 is 385 ppm and growing at 2 to 3 ppm annually. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, European Union and others have called for a climate stabilisation of 450 ppm to ward off the worst affects of climate change."Four hundred and fifty ppm is not going to save corals," she said, because the acidification of the ocean would kill and weaken corals and other species that make up the reef ecosystems. "We need to stop using fossil fuels period. Carbon that's in the ground now should stay there."Some leading climates scientists agree.In study published last week, 10 prominent scientists said that the level of globe-warming carbon dioxide in the air has probably already reached a point where world climate will change disastrously unless the level can be reduced to 350 ppm. The study is a departure from recent estimates that truly dangerous levels would be reached only later in this century. Climate feedbacks have already begun, particularly at the poles, accelerating the warming of the planet, said lead author James E. Hansen, director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies, part of Columbia University's Earth Institute. Ocean acidification is scary, acknowledges Riebesell. Acidification cannot be fixed quickly. It might take a thousand years for the oceans to regain their buffering capacity to prevent continuing acidification. Many species will not be able to adapt and there will be no place to hide, he said. "The oceans will be very different in 20 years," he warned.

Ten-Year Probe Reveals Oceans in Peril (November 12, 2008)
UXBRIDGE, Canada - A thousand points of light are being shone into the dark ocean depths as scientists from 82 countries work to complete the decade-long global research effort called the Census of Marine Life.Corals are seen at the Great Barrier Reef in this January 2002 handout photo. During the eight years the census has run so far, scientists have documented that more than 90 percent of the oceans' top predators -- large sharks, tunas, swordfish, cod and others -- are now gone! "It's been a remarkable time of exciting new discoveries and frightening revelations of how quickly the oceans are changing," said Canadian deep-sea biologist Paul Snelgrove, a leader of a team integrating findings from all 17 census projects. "We were startled to discover small crustaceans never seen by scientists before completely blanketing the seafloor at 500 metres in the Gulf of Mexico," Snelgrove told IPS.And during the eight years the census has run so far, scientists have documented that more than 90 percent of the oceans' top predators -- large sharks, tunas, swordfish, cod and others -- are now gone and those remaining are in serious trouble. "We're also seeing evidence of climate change with the shifting distribution of species," he said. (...) The ultimate legacy of the census is that it has shifted the attention and imaginations of many to the all-important oceans, which are still less well-known than the surface of the moon."The census has inspired many scientists around the world to do this kind of work," said Snelgrove. This detailed view-from-space of our oceans is also revealing an acute need to take better care of them. Some form of protection and governance over the open oceans is needed, both O'Dor and Snelgrove say. CLIP

Death Bloom of Plankton A Warning on Warming (November 21, 2008)
Vanishing Arctic sea ice brought on by climate change is causing the crucially important microscopic marine plants called phytoplankton to bloom explosively and die away as never before, a phenomenon that is likely to create havoc among migratory creatures that rely on the ocean for food, Stanford scientists have found. A few organisms may benefit from this disruption of the Arctic's fragile ecology, but a variety of animals, from gray whales to seabirds, will suffer, said Stanford biological oceanographer Kevin R. Arrigo. "It's all a question of timing." Arrigo said. "If migratory animals reach the Arctic and find the phytoplankton's gone, they'll have missed the boat."Phytoplankton throughout the world's oceans is the crucial nutrient at the base of the food web on which all marine life depends; when it's plentiful, life thrives and when it's gone, marine life is impossible. CLIP



Our World is Finite

Gail E. Tverberg -- November 21, 2008

We all know the world isn’t flat. Any of us would be laughed out of the room if we built a model with a flat earth as one of its major assumptions.

We also know that the world isn’t infinite. There are a finite number of atoms in the earth and its atmosphere. The ability of our atmosphere to absorb pollutants is limited. The ability of our soil to withstand repeated mistreatment is limited. The amount of our non-renewable resources is limited.

Fossil fuels, especially oil, are a particular problem. Even though the amount of resources seems huge, the cost of extraction (in terms of fossil fuel resources, man-hours, and fresh water) increases greatly after we have extracted the easy-to-extract oil, natural gas, and even coal. Substitutes (such as ethanol and solar voltaic) are expensive in terms of fossil fuel use, man-hours, and fresh water. It is also difficult to ramp up quantities to the level needed to substitute for fossil fuels.

Finite Resources but Unending Growth

In spite of the clear issue of a finite world, the financial community has taken as one of its central beliefs that Economic Growth is Good, and is in fact to be expected. A close corollary is that Leverage is Good. Our monetary system is very closely tied to debt, and would come to a screeching halt if lending stopped. Our banks and insurance companies depend on lending, with banks using lending as their primary source of revenue, and insurance companies using bonds for much of the asset side of their balance sheets.

How did we come to believe that never ending growth was possible? One way was a simple look backward. Growth has continued since the industrial revolution. There was a tie-in with energy resources all along. The industrial revolution brought coal to make creation of goods easier. We later added oil, natural gas, and uranium as additional energy sources. The world’s use of energy has ramped up over a long period, practically without interruption.

Another way we justified the idea of unending growth was through economic models that ignored the contribution of energy and, of course, ignored the fact that we are living in a finite world. Economic models of this type include the Solow-Swan Growth Model that considers the contributions of labor and capital, and the Cobb-Douglas production function that considers labor, capital, and productivity. Neither of these models has built in limits, either.

The Tie Between Energy Resources and Economic Growth

Robert Ayres and Benjamin Warr showed a close tie between energy resources and economic growth in 2004. They found that when they used an economic model that considers both growth in energy use and growth in energy efficiency, it explains the vast majority of US economic growth between 1900 and 2000, except for a residual of about 12% after 1975.

Common sense also tells us that energy resources are required for growth, and even to keep our current economy functioning. There is very little economic activity that we can perform without diesel or gasoline or electricity. Common sense would tell us that models such as the Solow-Swan Growth Model and the Cobb-Douglas production function are incomplete.

We Are Reaching Limits

No matter what kind of resources we are working with, they don’t simply “run out”, as we use more and more of them. Instead, they become more and more difficult to extract. In the case of minerals, the ore concentrations become lower and lower. Mines need to be built deeper and deeper. Fossil fuels become of lower quality and more difficult to extract quickly.

For many years, depletion was not really an issue. Resources were so vast, and the leverage provided by energy from fossil fuels was so great, that we could extract as much of almost anything we wanted (oil, natural gas, coal, uranium, copper, phosphorous, gold, platinum, indium, gallium, fresh water, and many other things) very cheaply, in the quantities needed for whatever use was desired.

What has happened in the last few years is that we have started reaching the point where extraction of many of these resources is becoming much more difficult. In April, 2007, the CEOs of Royal Dutch Shell and of French oil company Total SA were quoted as saying that the days of “easy oil” are gone. Just this past week, the International Energy Agency released a report whose executive summary begins, “The world’s energy system is at a crossroads. Current global trends in energy supply and consumption are patently unsustainable environmentally, economically, socially.”

Our Current Economic Crisis

Now that we are reaching a point where the extraction of fossil fuels and minerals of all types are starting to reach limits, we find that if the economy starts to heat up, the price of many commodities starts to skyrocket. Part of this is competition for limited resources. Part of this is the high cost of extraction of these resources, now that we are increasingly reaching limits. Food prices are affected as well, partly because oil (for machinery) and natural gas (for nitrogen fertilizer) are used in food production, and partly because competition with corn production for ethanol drives land prices up.

Once food and fuel prices rise, people find it difficult to repay debt, and debt defaults rise. Now debt defaults are rippling through the economy. The poor financial condition of banks makes them unwilling to lend. This lack of credit is making it difficult for many direct and indirect buyers of commodities to buy products of many types (oil, natural gas, uranium, and copper, for example). Prices are plummeting for a wide range of products because prices are relatively inelastic.

These lower prices have a feedback effect on new production of commodities. In a paper to be published in Journal of Energy Security shortly, I show that the credit crisis and the resulting lower commodity prices are leading to cut backs in planned production of energy products of all types (fossil fuels, renewables, and uranium). As a result, if the economy does start to heat back up again, we will have another round of commodity price increases. This, of course, will be followed by another round of debt defaults.

What Is the Solution?

In a finite world, we will soon find ourselves in a level or declining economy, simply because there are not enough easily-extractible resources to support growth without causing huge price spikes, followed by debt defaults, and another round of credit contraction and commodity price crashes. The only solution I can see is to develop a new monetary system that is not debt based, and is not expected to grow. Ideally, it would decline as there are fewer resources, and as the economy naturally declines.

With a flat or declining economy, long-term debt no longer makes sense. The likelihood that borrowers will be able to repay loans with interest becomes quite low, because the economic system as a whole is not growing and producing a surplus that can be used toward interest payments. It is much easier for a borrower to repay a 20-year mortgage with interest when he is getting promotions and salary increases than when his employer is downsizing and cutting hours.

Somehow, a monetary system needs to be devised which operates without debt, except for very short-term debt to facilitate commercial transactions. In addition, we need to extract ourselves from the debt morass we have created. There is now far more debt and far more promises like Social Security and Medicare than can possibly be honored with existing resources.

The only way I can imagine transitioning to a new form of monetary system is by having an overlap period in which both monetary systems are in place. The new money might initially be limited in supply and only be good for food and energy products (somewhat like a rationing system). People would receive some pay in each monetary system. Eventually, the new monetary system would replace our current seriously problematic system.


From: From:'t_bail_out_the_system_that_gave_us_suvs_and_strip_malls/

Zombie Economics: Don't Bail out the System that Gave Us SUVs and Strip Malls

By James Howard Kunstler - November 25, 2008

Why squander our remaining resources on a lifestyle that doesn't have a future?

Though Citicorp is deemed too big to fail, it's hardly reassuring to know that it's been allowed to sink its fangs into the Mother Zombie that the U.S. Treasury has become and sucked out a multibillion dollar dose of embalming fluid so it can go on pretending to be a bank for a while longer.

I employ this somewhat clunky metaphor to point out that the U.S. government is no more solvent than the financial zombies it is keeping on walking-dead support. And so this serial mummery of weekend bailout schemes is as much of a fraud and a swindle as the algorithm-derived-securities shenanigans that induced the disease of bank zombification in the first place. The main question it raises is whether, eventually, the creation of evermore zombified U.S. dollars will exceed the amount of previously created U.S. dollars now vanishing into oblivion through compressive debt deflation.

My guess, given the usual time-lag factor, is that the super-inflation snapback will occur 6 to 18 months from now. And the main result of all this will be our inability to buy the imported oil that comprises two-thirds of the oil we require to keep WalMart and Walt Disney World running. At some point, then, in the early months of the Obama administration, we'll learn that "change" is not a set of mere lifestyle choices but a wrenching transition away from all our familiar and comfortable habits into a stark and rigorous new economic landscape.

The credit economy is dead, and the dead credit residue of that dead economy is going where dead things go. It came into the world as "money," and it is going out of this world as a death-dealing disease, and we're not going to get over this disease until we stop generating additional zombie money out of no productive activity whatsoever. The campaign to sustain the unsustainable is, besides war, the greatest pitfall this society can stumble into. It represents a squandering of our remaining scant resources and can only produce the kind of extreme political disappointment that wrecks nations and leads to major conflicts between them. I don't know how much Mr. Obama buys into the current adopt-a-zombie program -- his Treasury designee, Timothy Geithner, was apparently in on this weekend's Citicorp deal -- but the president-elect would be wise to steer clear of whatever the walking dead in the Bush corner are still up to.

All the activities based on getting something for nothing are dead or dying now, in particular, buying houses and cars on credit, and so it should not be a surprise that the two major victims are the housing and car industries. Notice, by the way, that these are the two major ingredients of an economy based on building suburban sprawl. That's over, too. We're done building it, and the stuff we've already built is destined to lose both money value and usefulness as the wrenching transition goes forward.

All this obviously begs the question: What kind of economy are we going to live in if the old one is toast? Well, it's also pretty obvious that it will have to be based on activities productively aimed at keeping human beings alive in an ecology that has a future. Once you grasp this, you will see that there is no reason to despair and more than enough for all of us to do, so we can recover from the zombie nation disease and get on with the next chapter of American history -- and I sure hope that Mr. Obama will get with the new program.

To be specific about this new economy, we're going to have to make things again, and raise things out of the earth, locally, and trade these things for money of some kind that we earn through our own productive activities. Don't make the mistake of thinking this is optional. The only other option is to go through a violent sociopolitical convulsion. We ought to know from prior examples in world history that this is not a desirable experience. So, to avoid that, we really have to put our shoulders to the wheel and get to work on things that matter, and do it at a scale that is consistent with what the world really has to offer right now, especially in terms of available energy.

In my view -- and I know this is controversial -- a much larger proportion of the U.S. population will have to be employed in growing the food we eat. There are many ways of arranging this, some more fair than others, and I hope the better angels of our nature steer us in the direction of fairness and justice. The prospects of a devalued dollar imply that we very shortly will not be able to get the all the oil-and-gas-based "inputs" that have made petro-agriculture possible the past century. The consequences of this are so unthinkable that we have not been thinking about it. And, of course, the further implications of current land-use allocation, and the property-ownership issues entailed, suggests formidable difficulties in rearranging the farming sector. The sooner we face all this, the better.

CLIP - Please read the rest at't_bail_out_the_system_that_gave_us_suvs_and_strip_malls/



One Shot Left

November 25, 2008

The latest science suggests that preventing runaway climate change means total decarbonisation.

By George Monbiot. Published in the Guardian 25th November 2008

George Bush is behaving like a furious defaulter whose home is about to be repossessed. Smashing the porcelain, ripping the doors off their hinges, he is determined that there will be nothing worth owning by the time the bastards kick him out. His midnight regulations, opening America’s wilderness to logging and mining, trashing pollution controls, tearing up conservation laws, will do almost as much damage in the last 60 days of his presidency as he achieved in the foregoing 3000(1).

His backers – among them the nastiest pollutocrats in America – are calling in their favours. But this last binge of vandalism is also the Bush presidency reduced to its essentials. Destruction is not an accidental product of its ideology. Destruction is the ideology. Neoconservatism is power expressed by showing that you can reduce any part of the world to rubble.

If it is now too late to prevent runaway climate change, the Bush team must carry much of the blame. His wilful trashing of the Middle Climate – the interlude of benign temperatures which allowed human civilisation to flourish – makes the mass murder he engineered in Iraq only the second of his crimes against humanity. Bush has waged his war on science with the same obtuse determination with which he has waged his war on terror.

Is it too late? To say so is to make it true. To suggest that there is nothing that can now be done is to ensure that nothing is done. But even a resolute optimist like me finds hope ever harder to summon. A new summary of the science published since last year’s Intergovernmental Panel report suggests that - almost a century ahead of schedule - the critical climate processes might have begun(2).

Just a year ago the Intergovernmental Panel warned that the Arctic’s “late-summer sea ice is projected to disappear almost completely towards the end of the 21st century … in some models.”(3) But, as the new report by the Public Interest Research Centre (PIRC) shows, climate scientists are now predicting the end of late-summer sea ice within three to seven years. The trajectory of current melting plummets through the graphs like a meteorite falling to earth.

Forget the sodding polar bears: this is about all of us. As the ice disappears, the region becomes darker, which means that it absorbs more heat. A recent paper published in Geophysical Research Letters shows that the extra warming caused by disappearing sea ice penetrates 1500km inland, covering almost the entire region of continuous permafrost(4). Arctic permafrost contains twice as much carbon as the entire global atmosphere(5). It remains safe for as long as the ground stays frozen. But the melting has begun. Methane gushers are now gassing out of some places with such force that they keep the water open in Arctic lakes, through the winter(6).

The effects of melting permafrost are not incorporated into any global climate models. Runaway warming in the Arctic alone could flip the entire planet into a new climatic state. The Middle Climate could collapse faster and sooner than the grimmest forecasts proposed.

Barack Obama’s speech to the US climate summit last week was an astonishing development(7). It shows that, in this respect at least, there really is a prospect of profound political change in America. But while he described a workable plan for dealing with the problem perceived by the Earth Summit of 1992, the measures he proposes are now hopelessly out of date. The science has moved on. The events the Earth Summit and the Kyoto process were supposed to have prevented are already beginning. Thanks to the wrecking tactics of Bush the elder, Clinton (and Gore) and Bush the younger, steady, sensible programmes of the kind that Obama proposes are now irrelevant. As the PIRC report suggests, the years of sabotage and procrastination have left us with only one remaining shot: a crash programme of total energy replacement.

A paper by the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research shows that if we are to give ourselves a roughly even chance(8,9) of preventing more than two degrees of warming, global emissions from energy must peak by 2015 and decline by between six and eight per cent per year from 2020 to 2040, leading to a complete decarbonisation of the global economy soon after 2050(10). Even this programme would work only if some optimistic assumptions about the response of the biosphere hold true. Delivering a high chance of preventing two degrees of warming would mean cutting global emissions by over 8% a year.

Is this possible? Is this acceptable? The Tyndall paper points out that annual emission reductions greater than one per cent have “been associated only with economic recession or upheaval.” When the Soviet Union collapsed, they fell by some 5% a year. But you can answer these questions only by considering the alternatives. The trajectory both Barack Obama and Gordon Brown have proposed - an 80% cut by 2050 - means reducing emissions by an average of 2% a year. This programme, the figures in the Tyndall paper suggest, is likely to commit the world to at least four or five degrees of warming(11), which means the likely collapse of human civilisation across much of the planet. Is this acceptable?

The costs of a total energy replacement and conservation plan would be astronomical, the speed improbable. But the governments of the rich nations have already deployed a scheme like this for another purpose. A survey by the broadcasting network CNBC suggests that the US federal government has now spent $4.2 trillion in response to the financial crisis, more than the total spending on World War Two when adjusted for inflation(12). Do we want to be remembered as the generation that saved the banks and let the biosphere collapse?

This approach is challenged by the American thinker Sharon Astyk. In an interesting new essay, she points out that replacing the world’s energy infrastructure involves “an enormous front-load of fossil fuels”, which are required to manufacture wind turbines, electric cars, new grid connections, insulation and all the rest(13). This could push us past the climate tipping point. Instead, she proposes, we must ask people “to make short term, radical sacrifices”, cutting our energy consumption by 50%, with little technological assistance, in five years. There are two problems: the first is that all previous attempts show that relying on voluntary abstinence does not work. The second is that a 10% annual cut in energy consumption while the infrastructure remains mostly unchanged means a 10% annual cut in total consumption: a deeper depression than the modern world has ever experienced. No political system - even an absolute monarchy - could survive an economic collapse on this scale.

She is right about the risks of a technological green new deal, but these are risks we have to take. Astyk’s proposals travel far into the realm of wishful thinking. Even the technological solution I favour inhabits the distant margins of possibility.

Can we do it? Search me. Reviewing the new evidence, I have to admit that we might have left it too late. But there is another question I can answer more easily. Can we afford not to try? No we can’t.


CLIP - To review the references, please go at



How the Rich Are Destroying the Earth

By Herve Kempf, Chelsea Green -- November 22, 2008.

We've got to think about our choices for the future collectively, seeking cooperation rather than competition.

The following is reprinted from the new book How the Rich Are Destroying the Earth by Herve Kempf and published by Chelsea Green.

There is an emergency. In less than a decade we will have to change course -- assuming the collapse of the U.S. economy or the explosion of the Middle East does not impose a change through chaos. To confront the emergency, we must understand the objective: to achieve a sober society; to plot out the way there; to accomplish this transformation equitably, by first making those with the most carry the burden within and between societies; to take inspiration from collective values ascribed to here in France by our nation's motto: "Liberty, ecology, fraternity."

What are the main obstacles that block the way?

First of all, received wisdom -- prejudices really -- so loaded that they orient collective action without anyone really thinking about them. The most powerful of these preconceived ideas is the belief in growth as the sole means of resolving social problems. That position is powerfully defended even as it is contradicted by the facts. And it is always defended by putting ecology aside because the zealots know that growth is incapable of responding to the environmental issue.

The second of these ideas, less cocky although very broadly disseminated, proclaims that technological progress will resolve environmental problems. This idea is propagated because it allows people to hope we will be able to avoid any serious changes in our collective behaviors thanks to technological progress. The development of technology, or rather of certain technical channels to the detriment of others, reinforces the system and fosters solid profits.

The third piece of received wisdom is the inevitability of unemployment. This idea is closely linked to the two previous ideas. Unemployment has become a given, largely manufactured by capitalism to assure the docility of the populace and especially of the lowest level of workers. From a contrary position, the transfer of the oligarchy's wealth for the purpose of public services, a system of taxation that weighed more heavily on pollution and on capital than on employment, sustainable agricultural policies in the countries of the South, and research into energy efficiency are immense sources of employment.

A fourth commonly associates Europe and North America in a community of fortune. But their paths have diverged. Europe is still a standard-bearer for an ideal of universalism, the validity of which it demonstrates by its ability to unite -- despite problems -- very different states and cultures. Energy consumption, cultural values -- for example, the critical significance of food -- the rejection of the death penalty and torture, less pronounced inequality and the maintenance of an ideal of social justice, respect for international law, and support for the Kyoto Protocol on climate are some of the many traits that distinguish Europe from the United States.

Europe must be separated from the obese power and draw closer to the South, unless the United States shows it can really change.

The Oligarchy Could Be Divided

Then there are the forces at work.

The first, of course, is the power of the system itself. The failures that will occur will not in themselves be sufficient to undo the system, since, as we have seen, they could offer the pretext to promote an authoritarian system divested of any show of democracy.

The social movement has woken up, however, and may continue to gain power. But it alone will not be able to carry the day in the face of the rise of repression: it will be necessary for the middle classes and part of the oligarchy -- which is not monolithic -- to clearly take sides for public freedoms and the common good. The mass media constitute a central challenge. Today they support capitalism because of their own economic situation. They depend, for the most part, on advertising. That makes it difficult for them to plead for a reduction in consumption.

On top of that, the development of free papers that depend solely on advertising further increases the pressure on widely distributed paid newspapers, many of which have entered the stables of big industrial groups. It's not certain that the information possibilities generated by the Internet, although immense -- and for as long as these remain open -- will be adequate to counterbalance the weight of the mass media should it wholly become the voice of the oligarchy.

Nevertheless, not all journalists are totally enthralled yet, and they could be galvanized around the ideal of freedom.

The third, wobbly force is the left. Since its social-democratic component became its center of gravity, it has abandoned any ambition of transforming the world. The compromise with free-market liberalism has led the left to so totally adopt the values of free-market liberalism that it no longer dares -- except in the most cautious terms -- to deplore social inequality. On top of that, the left displays an almost cartoonish refusal to truly engross itself in environmental issues.

The left remains pickled in the idea of progress as it was conceived in the nineteenth century, still believes that science is produced the same way it was in the time of Albert Einstein, and intones the chant of economic growth without the slightest trace of critical thinking. Moreover, "social capitalism" rather than "social democracy" is undoubtedly the more apposite term.

Nonetheless, can the challenges of the twenty-first century be addressed by the currents of tradition other than the one that identified inequality as its primary motive for revolt?

This hiatus is at the heart of political life. The left will be reborn by uniting the causes of inequality and the environment -- or, unfit, it will disappear in the general disorder that will sweep it and everything else away. And yet, let us be optimistic. Optimistic, because there are ever more of us who understand -- unlike all the conservatives -- the historical novelty of the situation: we are living out a new, never-seen-before phase of the human species' history, the moment when, having conquered the Earth and reached its limits, humanity must rethink its relationship to nature, to space, to its destiny.

We are optimistic to the extent that awareness of the importance of the current stakes becomes pervasive, to the extent that the spirit of freedom and of solidarity is aroused. Since Seattle and the protests against the World Trade Organization in 1999, the pendulum has begun to swing in the other direction, toward a collective concern about the choices for the future, seeking cooperation rather than competition.

The somewhat successful, although still incomplete, battle in Europe against GMOs, the international community's continuance of the Kyoto Protocol in 2001 despite the United States' withdrawal, the refusal by the peoples of Europe to participate in the invasion of Iraq in 2003, and the general recognition of the urgency of climate-change challenge are signs that the wind of the future has begun to blow. Despite the scale of the challenges that await us, solutions are emerging and -- faced with the sinister prospects the oligarchs promote -- the desire to remake the world is being reborn.


Forwarded by Mark Graffis (


After 'GD2' in 2011, a 100-year bear market?

Seven self-sabotaging 'growth' scenarios killing the great American dream

By Paul B. Farrell, MarketWatch

Nov. 24, 2008

ARROYO GRANDE, Calif. (MarketWatch) -- What is next? If the "Great Depression 2" scenario plays out, what's after 2011? Recovery? A new bull? How can you protect your money? Or are we all helpless victims of the raging winds of fate and Wall Street's self-serving brand of capitalism.

Let's review several scenarios in the bright lens of Akira Kurosawa's classic 1950 film, "Rashomon," at once an ancient Kabuki morality play, a tense modern courtroom drama, and a revealing documentary on human psychology. In "Rashomon" we witness the murder of a Samurai warrior and a rape through the eyes of several witnesses, each swearing they saw what "really happened."

We "see" these tragedies in a forest through the eyes of a Woodcutter, Priest, Samurai's Wife, the accused Bandit, and the Samurai, speaking through a Medium. But as "the facts" unfold, the lies and contractions of biased minds are exposed and the truth becomes increasingly blurred. In the end, we are still wondering: What really happened?

Similarly, today we're asking; "What really happened to America, so fast?" With Bush, Paulson, Bernanke and their Reaganomics ideology? To my 401(k), my CDs, my kid's college fund, my retirement nest egg. To the great American dream? What happened?

Nightmare scenario No. 1: No exit, a never-ending disaster

Remember former Goldman Chairman John Whitehead? He "sees" a tragic ending: This Reagan Deputy Secretary of State and former New York Fed chairman "sees" America burning through trillions, over many years: "Nothing but large increases in the deficit ... worse than the Depression." See previous Paul B. Farrell.
He worries that "tomorrow is the day Moody's and S&P will announce a downgrade of U.S. government bonds." Politicians and public are delusional, promising huge new programs plus tax cutting: "This is a road to disaster.' Like Sartre's existential tragedy, "No Exit," he says: "I don't see a solution."

If this dialogue emerged in "Rashomon," deep in the forest, I could "see" Whitehead pointing a finger at Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, accusing him of terrible deeds.

Nightmare scenario No. 2: Washington's unsustainable deficits

True to the "Rashomon" narrative Warren Buffett "sees" America sinking in a swamp of unsustainable debt to justify our excessive spending -- government, consumer, corporate.

Remember Buffett's famous farmer's story: "We were taught in Economics 101 that countries could not for long sustain large, ever-growing trade deficits." America "has been behaving like an extraordinarily rich family that possesses an immense farm. In order to consume 4% more than they produce, that's the trade deficit, we have, day by day, been both selling pieces of the farm and increasing the mortgage on what we still own." See previous Paul B. Farrell.

Like his farmers, we borrowed $700 billion a year to live high on the hog, selling off American assets. Now foreign sovereign funds own trillions of our assets. Today Uncle Warren's story is less a children's fairy tale and more a "Rashomon" tragedy.

Nightmare scenario No. 3: The endless 100-year bear market

Robert Prechter's a brilliant market forecaster and editor of the Elliott Wave Theorist newsletter. As early as 1978 he predicted the "raging bull market of the 1980s." Many laughed. Then tech roared and he became "Guru of the Decade."

In the "Rashomon" cast he's credible. And ahead again: He "saw" the future in his "At the Crest of the Wave: A Forecast of the Great Bear Market." Today's darkening markets ride his "wave" theories: Rapidly unfolding, accelerating and intensifying economic cycles. First the dot-com crash, then the subprime housing bull, the credit meltdown, now the coming "Great Depression 2."

In the '90s, Prechter had another vision from deep in the forest. Again we ignored him. No more. The same wisdom that let him "see" the 1980's bull years before it took off, may accurately predict the coming 100-year bear market well ahead of time. See previous Paul B. Farrell.

Nightmare scenario No. 4: Pentagon 'warfare defines human life'

In "Rashomon" they see all, we nothing. In courtrooms, lawyers deceive, suppress the truth. Paulson and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke are masters of deception in the courtroom of public opinion, as descendents of former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

One intentional leak (obviously designed as a tactic to stoke public fear and create budget support for the DOD's war machine) surfaced in the early days of the Iraq War. Fortune analyzed a classified military report, the Pentagon's "Weather Nightmare:" "Climate could change radically and fast. That would be the mother of all national security issues ... massive droughts, turning farmland into dust bowls and forests to ashes ... by 2020 there is little doubt that something drastic is happening ... an old pattern could emerge; warfare defining human life." See previous Paul B. Farrell.

Today, as a "Great Depression" and a "100-year Bear Market" become more real than a "Rashomon" sequel, ask yourself: Are there too many people? Too few resources? Too many competing special interests? In America? Worldwide? Are we all too greedy to compromise? Are we then left vulnerable to Paulson's multiple Reaganomics "weapons of financial mass destruction," land mines surviving his exit in bailout "sleeper cells," left to sabotage government budgets, taxpayers and the future of America?

Nightmare scenario No. 5: Too many people, too few resources

The Earth supports 6.5 billion people. The United Nations predicts there will be 9.1 billion by 2050, all competing against 400 million Americans for ever-scarcer resources. The L.A. Times says that a U.N. report "paints a near-apocalyptic vision of Earth's future: hundreds of millions of people short of water, extreme food shortages in Africa, a landscape ravaged by floods and millions of species sentenced to extinction."
Today's news suggests we may already be there, for the population explosion is the mother of all bubbles, a "nuclear" bomb that will explode all other bubbles, ushering onto the "Rashomon" stage a reality far beyond a 100-year bear, on a desolate, post-apocalyptic WALL-E planet Earth. See previous Paul B. Farrell.

Nightmare scenario No. 6: Star Trek's bold new 'end of days'

One "Star Trek: The Next Generation" episode haunts me, much like "Rashomon." In it past and future collide. Set in the 23rd century, "Inner Light" gives us a brief end-of-days look at the star-crossed future of two civilizations, one boldly exploring new worlds, the other leaving behind but a small sad trace of its mysterious disappearance. Two planets, which is our metaphor? See previous Paul B. Farrell.

The Enterprise encounters a probe floating in space. Suddenly an energy beam zaps Captain Picard. He wakes up on an alien planet. Recovering from a fever he is "Kamin," can't recognize his "wife." Friends think he's delusional, mumbling about being a starship captain. Trapped in this parallel universe, time passes. Memories of his prior life fade. He falls in love with his wife, raises a family, kids, grandkids, lives the peaceful life he only imagined in space.

But his new planet's resources gradually disappear. Temperatures rise. Water scarcer. Desert lands spread. The Pentagon scenario? Near the end, he watches a missile soar into space, an intergalactic time capsule, a final record of a once-great civilization.

Suddenly the probe turns off. Picard awakes on floor of the Enterprise bridge. Twenty minutes passed. Engine power returns. They continue boldly going where no one has gone before, left with memories of a simple life on a dying planet that vanished eons ago. Ask yourself: Are we boldly going anywhere? Will someone, someday be reading our probe?

Nightmare scenario No. 7: No-Growth Economics vs. Neo-Capitalism

While Goldman former Chairman Whitehead gave up, there is still a solution, one way to dodge the "Great Depression 2," the "100-Year Bear." I reviewed this scenario in a recent issue of Adbusters magazine, where legendary economist Herman Daly was recently named "Man of the Year."

The Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy" says this new greener economic theory calls for "stabilized population and consumption. Such stability means that the amount of resource throughput and waste disposal remains roughly constant." In this theory, all systems are in balance.
"The key features of a steady state economy are: sustainable scale, in which economic activities fit within the capacity provided by ecosystems; fair distribution of wealth; and efficient allocation of resources."

This new economics may be what sustains the Star Trek culture in the 23rd century, but unfortunately, it is unlikely to get broad support in today's free market Reaganomics capitalism, let alone support from America's political parties or any sovereign nations in today's highly competitive international arena ... at least not until we've gone past the point of no return, like that mysterious planet recorded on the probe discovered in the 23rd century by Star Trek's Captain Picard.

As in "Rashomon," we "see" many competing scenarios, "seen" through many competing "eyes.' Yet, for the victims, the end game is always tragically irreversible. We may, however, find some comfort in the "wave theory," for all waves emerge, ripple, oscillate, accelerate until they inevitably self-destruct and fade.
Earth appears destined to accelerate to 9 billion ... exhausting Earth's resources ... in a self-destructive Pentagon global warfare scenario ... driven by another Great Depression ... and 100-year bear market. In the end Whitehead said it all: "This is a road to disaster ... I don't see a solution."

Probe dims, fade to black. Or will we finally wake up ... and take command of our starship?



A new New Deal for America: Obama must act boldly to rescue the American people

By Ralph Nader

November 18, 2008

WASHINGTON - We are at a moment in our nation's history when great decisions can be made. The country is energized by the historic election of the first African-American president. But it is also a beleaguered nation whose people need help.

President-elect Barack Obama led a campaign of tactical brilliance, but he did not address social issues adequately. In this time of transition, he and the next Congress should focus on initiating long overdue reforms.

After the Depression and during the period of prosperity following World War II, the federal government established a social contract with the American people. In exchange for hard work, productivity, and taxes, Americans were promised their just social and economic deserts, with a safety net for hard times, and a guarantee of safe retirement without fear of spending their last days free-falling into Dickensian misery.

This past July, a Rockefeller Foundation/Time survey revealed that Americans believe the social contract has deteriorated, and 78 percent wanted a new one. In the avalanche of dire economic news since then, it's evident that the contract is now in tatters. And Americans are at a breaking point.

In the past three months alone, 651,000 workers have lost their jobs, bringing the unemployment rate to 6.5 percent – the highest since March 1994. The number of Americans collecting jobless benefits is at the highest level since February 1983.

Today, the average American is working longer and earning less (real wages declined by 12 percent between 1974 and 2004). Millions of homeowners may face foreclosure. More than 47 million Americans have no health insurance. Medical costs are a chief cause of personal bankruptcy. The Institute of Medicine has estimated that 18,000 Americans die annually because they cannot afford health insurance.

Americans deserve better than this. We need a 21st-century social contract that will restore fairness to the fabric of our society and government to its rightful role as a servant and protector of the people. Fundamental ingredients should include:

• A living wage for all Americans of at least $10 per hour. At the current minimum wage – $6.55 – the annual income for a full-time job would be $13,624, which would relegate a family of three to below the poverty level.

• Affordable single-payer healthcare (Medicare) for all Americans.

• A fundamental reappraisal of our tax laws. Taxes should apply first to behavior and conditions we favor least, such as the clearly addictive industries, pollution, speculation derivatives, and extreme luxuries, instead of applying to work, food, clothing, or other essential items.

• Creation of a new Home Owner's Loan Corporation (HOLC), the New Deal era agency that bought mortgages from homeowners at risk of defaulting and offered them more affordable terms. Include a law with a sunset clause allowing below median-value homeowners facing foreclosure the right to rent-to-own their homes at fair-market value rates.

We must also:

• Reform the pension system. Corporations must be held more responsible for the retirement security of their employees. We need to give workers a voice on the pension board, and the right to control their 401(k) plans.

• Enact a speculation tax. The trading of blocks of derivatives to profit from rapid fluctuations in price is one cause of the escalation in oil prices at the pump, the mortgage industry meltdown, and the dotcom bust.

• Enact a carbon tax, with the aim of lowering US emissions to at least 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050, coupled with the expansion of solar energy.

• Repeal the antiemployee, antiunion Taft-Hartley Act of 1947 to allow workers the right to strike for a living wage and better working conditions.

• Crack down on corporate crime by increasing prosecution budgets, reining in obscene executive pay, and closing offshore tax shelter loopholes.

These are not unreasonable goals. We can start to achieve them by ending our military and corporate presence in Iraq and Afghanistan and refocusing our national priorities on poverty, job insecurity, racial injustice, underfunded public education, and corporate avarice.

It has been said that Barack Obama has inspired a movement. Though the election is now behind us, these citizen activists should not rest. Now is the time to place pressure on the new president and Congress to ensure that these reforms are realized.

Taxpayers recently rescued the casino gamblers on Wall Street with a $700 billion bailout. Now it's time to rescue the American people.


Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer, author, founder of public-interest groups, and the 2008 independent candidate for president.


Forwarded by Rudolf Schneider - IPS Geneva (

From: WCC e-news (
Date: 28 Nov 2008
Subject: Financing for Development: Radical changes needed, WCC says in Doha

World Council of Churches - News Release -- Contact:



Radical changes and tangible commitments from world leaders are needed if an equitable and sustainable global economic system is to be built, says an ecumenical delegation attending a UN conference on financing for development starting tomorrow in Qatar.

The United Nation's International Conference on Financing for Development taking place from 29 November to 2 December in Doha, Qatar will review the implementation of the Monterrey Consensus adopted by UN member states in Mexico in 2002. That consensus identified policies and actions to mobilize resources for sustainable development, poverty eradication and gender equality.

The follow-up conference in Doha "provides a historic opportunity for world leaders to take responsibility and enact transformations towards building an equitable and sustainable global economic system that meets the economic, social and cultural rights of all, women and men, and nurtures the environment," says a statement by a World Council of Churches (WCC) delegation attending the conference.

For that to happen, the statement continues, "Now more than ever, radical changes and tangible commitments are needed." However, "like the Monterrey Consensus before it, the Doha Outcome Document is in danger of falling drastically short of generating effective and timely responses to the global crises of our times."

Considering that the international financial system "is not merely inefficient" but "based on injustice," the statement urges the UN to "take leadership in redesigning an international financial architecture that establishes a global system of regulation as well as enlarges the space for developing country governments to enhance social protection in crisis periods".

"The WCC continues to call for a lasting solution to the debt problem for poor and middle-income countries beginning with the unconditional cancellation of the illegitimate debts being claimed from poor countries," the statement continues.

Addressing the global food crisis, the statement identifies "its roots in neo-liberal reforms in trade and investment regimes" promoted by the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organization. Therefore it calls for "the removal of structural inequalities in the global trade system and the establishment of mutuality, transparency and civil society (not least women's) participation in future negotiations".

Regarding the "ecological debt", the statement urges the UN "to conceive a just and sustainable" financial framework with regard to climate change. This framework should redistribute "the financial outlays for mitigation and adaptation among and within countries in proportion to their contribution to climate change and according to their capacity to pay".

"Rich, industrialized countries have […] an ethical and moral obligation to pay for the ecological damages they have inflicted on poor countries through their disproportionate appropriation of natural resources and unsustainable lifestyles," the statement continues.

Members of the WCC delegation at the conference are:

· Rev. Malcolm Damon (South Africa), executive director of the Economic Justice Network of the Fellowship of Christian Councils in Southern Africa (FOCCISA)
· Mr Solomuzi Mabuza (South Africa), honorary president of the Pietermaritzburg Young Men's Christian Association.
· Ms Felina Mendres (Philippines), a leader with the National Federation of Peasant Women (AMIHAN).

The WCC delegation in partnership with the Global Call to Action Against Poverty and with Jubilee South is co-organizing two workshops or side-events at the conference: "Global financial, food and climate crises" and "Climate change and global finance: issues and advocacy initiatives".

Full text of the statement "The Time for Justice is Now"

UN International Conference on Financing for Development:

WCC campaign on climate change:

WCC programme on Poverty, wealth and ecology:


Forwarded by Mark Graffis" on Nov 29, 2008


Smokin’ Deals-Are They Worth Lives?

By Jamie Volner - Tucson, Arizona

I picked up our newspaper this morning and on the front page is chaos from "Black Friday" shopping.

If you have seen the news or read the paper then you are aware that a Wal-Mart employee was stampeded over by greedy shoppers wanting to "save a buck" in total disregard for human life. Mowed this person down without a care, stepped OVER the body and kept plowing through like a heard of cattle all the while trampling over other Wal-Mart associates who were trying to help their fellow friend and co-worker.

Well, Happy Holidays to this now deceased person's family and friends. What better "gift" to give this season but heartache and despair over saving a few bucks on MATERIAL items with total lack of regard for anyone but yourselves.

While these "shoppers" were spreading their "good will toward men" raising their angry voices because heaven forbid, other's were in your way to "save a buck" or get that "Smokin' Deal" these shoppers not only killed a person and maimed others but they've destroyed so many lives that were connected to them.

I have shopped "Black Friday" once in my life. This was 5 years ago ironically in Wal-Mart where a man proceeded to literally drop a microwave on my head (passing it over to his wife next to me) almost rendered me unconscious with no "I'm so sorry" or "please excuse me". I went on this day because my TV died the day before and they had a "Smokin Deal" I actually had someone pull my TV out of my cart slammed it to the ground and stole my shopping cart. I was in such shock of such behavior I just stood there with my mouth to the floor. It was then I knew there was

nothing on this Earth I needed that badly. Nothing.

The horrific economy has hit my home too people. My business has slowed down to a crawl and I may fold it, my husband lost his job, we had to move (which is costly) my husband now had to take a job that pays us 800.00 a month less and not sure if we can even pay the full rent in a couple of days, our house is close to devoid of food and there will be NO Yule/Christmas in my home at all this year.

No, this is not said for anyone to "feel sorry" for me and my family. It is to say since I too am hit so hard in this economy as others am I

supposed to turn into a greedy, no care for human life person? What is the matter with you people?

Truly, does your kid HAVE to have the latest gadget and gizmo that bad or do you have to have that name brand blu-ray system or top of the line cell phone or other item you "just cant live with out" to the point where you kill someone for it? Hurt them, physically or verbally?

Our children read and watch TV. They watch our actions and what are you saying to them? Get what you want, when you want it at NO cost. It's yours for the taking no matter who gets hurt in the process.

This just sickens me and my heart and prayers go out to not only this now deceased Wal-Mart employee and family but to all that were involved right down to the greedy, nasty people who still slept well last night because they got their "can't live with out purchases". Why to the greedy? Because maybe my prayers will be heard (I doubt it) but just maybe and they'll wake up.

Our own kind, human kind will be the total destruction of us all.

Tucson, Arizona


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