Saturday, August 21, 2010

Gulf Oil Update: Day 124

Giant Underwater Plume Confirmed—Gulf Oil Not Degrading
Bacteria aren't gobbling up Deepwater Horizon oil, study says.

By: Christine Dell'Amore
National Geographic News
Published August 19, 2010

A giant plume from BP's Gulf of Mexico oil spill has been confirmed deep in the ocean—and there are signs that it may stick around, a new study says.

Many scientists had predicted that oil-eating bacteria—already common in the Gulf due to natural oil seeps—would process much of the crude leaked from BP's Deepwater Horizon wellhead, which was capped July 15.

But new evidence shows that a 22-mile-long (35-kilometer-long), 650-foot-high (200-meter-high) pocket of oil has persisted for months at depths of 3,600 feet (1,100 meters), according to a team from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in Massachusetts.

(Related: "Much Gulf Oil Remains, Deeply Hidden and Under Beaches.")

The oil plume's stability is "a little unexpected," study leader Richard Camilli, of WHOI's Applied Ocean Physics and Engineering Department, said at a Thursday press briefing in Washington, D.C.

"We don't have any clear indication as to why it set up at that depth."

It's unclear why the Gulf's microbes aren't eating the oil plume, but the organisms are infamous for being unpredictable, said study co-author Christopher Reddy, a marine chemist at WHOI.

Counting on microbes to quickly clean up an oil spill is "like asking a teenager to do a chore. You tell them to do it on a Friday, to do it when it's most advantageous, and they do it on a Saturday," Reddy told National Geographic News earlier this month.

Further studies are needed to figure out why the plume isn't degrading, Reddy said during the press briefing: "We don't live in the world of the TV show CSI. ... Patience is a virtue."

Hard Evidence for Gulf Oil Plume

During a ten-day research cruise in June, the WHOI team used autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs), free-swimming probes that are the "next generation" of remotely operated vehicles, Camilli said during the briefing.

The team's AUVs were equipped with mass spectrometers—devices that measure the masses of molecules. The spectrometers collected thousands of samples in various regions near the spill site.

Most of these samples detected hydrocarbons—ingredients of oil—at concentrations of 50 micrograms a liter.

Using this data, the scientists were able to piece together the shapes and sizes of two oil plumes: the large, deep plume and a more diffuse plume spread out between depths of 160 and 1,600 feet (50 and 500 meters).

University of South Florida (USF) chemical oceanographer David Hollander said the discovery of stubborn oil in the deep sea "falls right into line" with his recent findings.

"These hydrocarbons are plentiful, and will be around for a long time," Hollander said by email.

Hollander and a USF team announced this week that oil may have been found deep on the Gulf seafloor, and that it appears to be toxic to phytoplankton, small plants that live in the deep ocean and make up the base of the marine food chain.

It's too early to say whether the plume is harmful to marine life in the area studied by WHOI, expedition member Reddy said.

But the research does show that the oil plume hasn't yet spurred oxygen depletion in the Gulf, which can create a dead zone—a swath of ocean largely devoid of life-forms—according to Ruoying He, a physical oceanographer at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, who was not involved in the new research.

(Related: "Gulf Oil Spill a 'Dead Zone in the Making'?")

He added that the new study—published today in the journal Science—is "extremely important," in part because it offers hard evidence of the suspected oil plume in the Gulf.

"I'm happy to see some in situ observations published so quickly," he said.

How Far Will Gulf Oil Plume Go?

The study raises another fundamental question that North Carolina's He is currently modeling: How far will the Gulf oil spill travel?

The plume has already fanned out a considerable distance from the BP wellhead, He noted. At the time of the survey, the plume was migrating about 4 miles (6.5 kilometers) a day southwest from the spill site, according to the study.

And with oil-eating bacteria taking their time, it's possible that the oil could be transported even farther from the well before the crude gets degraded, WHOI's Camilli said.

(See "Gulf Oil Spill Could Reach East Coast Beaches.")

It's also possible the oil plume is already gone: "We don't know what the fate of this plume now is—this was a forensic snapshot in late June, and we have not been back there since," Camilli cautioned.

Deep-Ocean Focus Needed for Oil Cleanups

Since the toxic effects of oil and chemical dispersants are not fully known, "there is great room for debate and contrasting interpretation as to what the impacts will be," Robert Carney, a biological oceanographer at Louisiana State University (LSU) in Baton Rouge, said by email.

At this point, though, a "far more valuable undertaking" would be to start figuring out how to prevent doing further harm to the deep ocean, he said.

"Through this all we have witnessed an aged and untested bit of dogma dominate response decisions: Protect the beach," Carney said. (See: "Oil Found in Gulf Beach Sand, Even After Cleanups.")

"Quite obviously, it is the whole ocean that we must protect and effectively manage," he said. "We are badly in need of new ideas."

____________

Dispersant controversy, oil plumes persist in the Gulf

Rocky Kistner’s Blog
Switchboard, NRDC
Posted August 20, 2010

Down a winding road that hugs the water of Bayou La Batre in southern Alabama, out-of-work shrimp boats float quietly along the piers. Near the end of the road, the Alabama state dock houses a dozen twin-engine, steel-hulled boats that BP has under contract to do oil cleanup work. Police cars guard the entrance.

Across the harbor at the end of the public pier, four large white plastic containers sit on pallets labeled: "Nalco Corexit EC9005A. Oil Spill dispersant. Caution: may cause irritation with prolonged contact…do not get in eyes, on skin, on clothing...." Some of the containers have black hand-written letters on the back that says "oil waste water" or "clean water." Another container sits further away on a pallet by itself, with the same warning label but clean.







Earlier last week, eye witnesses say similar containers were next to the BP contracted boats that make their trips into the Gulf. Some fishermen in this area believe these boats continue to spray chemical dispersants on the oil that continues to pollute the water and shores here. Workers who worked for BP have said when they return to the docks in the afternoon, BP boats with dispersants leave to finish off the job later in the day or at night.

Yet no one seems to have proof of this. The government and BP deny they have been spraying dispersants since mid-July. But some fishermen say it’s still happening. They say those who may have proof are too afraid to come forward for fear of losing their jobs.

Dion Sutton is a former BP worker who wonders if they are still spraying. His cousin saw a plane spraying close to the nearby shore about a month ago, something BP said it has never done. Like many fishermen around here, Sutton believes it’s all about sinking the crude to the bottom, out of sight out of mind.

Common stories about spraying persist across the Gulf states, just like the oil that still moves ashore in patches, tar balls and underwater plumes. Walk to beaches of Alabama’s Dauphin Island and you can’t help but run into it, fresh blobs of weathered oil that stain once world famous white sand beaches. Take a shovel and dig and you find layers of black oily material. Thick, black clay-like oil is pushed up in man-made sand dunes, almost sticking to the vacation houses that line the beach.



Some people in Alabama are sick of being told the water's fine and are taking matters into their own hands. Commercial fisherman “Catfish” Miller has designed his own homemade testing device to hunt for plumes in the water. Yesterday, Catfish designed a unique device consisting of a large conical wire tomato plant holder he had in his backyard. He carefully bent it and wrapped white absorbent pads around the outside to create a funnel.

Yesterday with more than 10 passengers on board, including a marine biologist, he dropped the cone-shaped device into 12 feet of water near Pass Christian, AL. He left it in the water for less than a minute, then pulled it in to see how much oil it had captured in the absorbant pads. Ten times he dropped it into the water near the inland harbor. Ten times he struck oil.



“It blew their minds,” he says. “Every time we dropped it into the water it captured oil. Why can’t the experts find this? I’m going to keep at this until people really understand what’s going on here. It’s nothing more than a cover-up.”

Many people who attended a gathering of fishermen and experts last night in Irvington, AL, agree. While government reports claim up to 75% of the oil is gone, captured or dispersed, the vast majority of people attending this meeting said the oil is not only still out there, but it’s just begun to impact communities.

Prof. Steve Picou of the University of South Alabama knows that well, since he’s studied the devastating impacts of the Exxon Valdez oil disaster on the town of Cordova, AK. He says oil catastrophes such as these pit community members against each other. Some get to work on cleanup, others don’t. It’s a situation that creates conflict as people try to figure out how to reorganize their lives and make ends meet.

Rates of suicides, divorce and reports of battered women skyrocketed in Alaska years later. “This is a marathon," Picou says. “It’s not a 100-meter dash. And the gun just went off.”

Dr. George Crozier, a marine scientist with the Dauphin Island Sea lab, says what bothers him most is what we don’t know. No doubt dispersants have kept some of the oil out of the marshes and coastlines. But they also have pushed the oil down into the water column where the crude may not degrade for a long time. How will this impact the bioaccumulation of oil and the health of the ecosystem? No one knows anything for sure except that it’s out there in unquantifiable amounts. “There’s no doubt we have created a monster in the Gulf of Mexico," Crozier told the audience. “We’ve learned a lot so far. But the oil is not gone.”

Gulf Shores commercial fisherman Raymond Vates told the audience he recently decided to take his scuba gear and go down to the shallow bottom of the seabed off the beach and look around for himself. What he saw appalled him. He says he saw giant pools of oily tar balls on the muddy bottom in just 20 feet of water, some as big as watermelons.

“I called BP about this but they didn’t want to hear it,” Vates said. “How could you act that way when you saw what I saw? There were kids swimming in the water around there. We can’t allow this to go on. I’m going to keep looking for it as long as I can find it.”

That may keep him busy for a long time. Fishermen from Florida to Louisiana are worried about their seafood and their safety. They don’t believe what they’re being told by the experts, especially by those working with BP. They’ve learned to believe only what they see with their own eyes. And so far they don’t like what they've seen.

Why The Wars Can't Be Won

By Prof. John Kozy

August 21, 2010 "Information Clearing House" -- Edmund Burke's statement, "Those who don't know history are destined to repeat it" is frequently cited, but in truth, even history's obvious lessons are unrecognized by many who know history very well.

There was a time when every school child could recite the Gettysburg Address from memory, especially its famous peroration: “we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth." But that resolution has largely gone unfulfilled. So exactly what did the Civil War accomplish?

Most certainly, it preserved the union territorially and abolished slavery—two noteworthy things. But the slaves who were freed, rather than being benefited by their freedom, were left in the lurch, and the prejudicial attitudes of Confederate whites were most likely hardened; they certainly were not softened. So although the war united the nation territorially, it failed to unite its peoples, and that division is still evident today.

After the 2004 Presidential election, The Dallas Morning News ran a feature about this division titled Beyond the Red and Blue. Using the red states that went to President Bush and the blue states that went to Senator Kerry, it pointed out how red and blue states ranked in various categories.

People in red states are less healthy than those in blue states.

People in red states earn less than those in blue states.

People in red states are less educated than those in blue states.

More people in red states live in mobile homes than those in blue states.

The red states have higher birth rates among teens than the blue states.

More people are killed by guns in the red states than in the blue states.


And the Dallas Morning News missed a number of other inferior attributes of the red states.

The red states have higher rates of poverty, both generally and among the elderly, higher rates of crime, both general and violent, have higher rates of infant mortality and divorce, and have fewer physicians per unit of population than do the blue states.

These statistics do not paint a pretty picture. And since the red states are commonly referred to as the conservative heartland, one would think that the people who live in these states would vote against conservative candidates merely on the basis of their own rational, self interests. But they don’t.

There’s an obvious clash here, for the red states are the home of that group that calls itself “moral America.” But how can a moral viewpoint countenance poverty, crime, and infant mortality? What kind of morality is it that doesn’t care for the welfare of people? Just what moral maxim guides the lives of these people? Certainly not the Golden Rule, the Decalogue, or the Second Commandment of Christ. From what I have been able to gather, moral America needs a new moral code. The one it has is, to use a word the members of this group dislike, relative.

So what motivates the conservative nature of the people in the red states? Let’s look at some history.

For a century after the Civil War, the south voted Democratic, but not because the people shared any values in common with the rest of the nation’s Democrats. (Southerners even distinguished themselves from other Democrats by calling themselves “Dixiecrats.”) These people were Democrats merely because the political party of the war and reconstruction was Republican. And when, in the mid-twentieth century, the Democratic Party championed an end to racial discrimination, these life-long Democrats quickly became Republicans, because the Republican party had in the intervening years become reactionary.

What motivates these people even today, though most likely they don’t recognize it, is an unwillingness to accept the results of the Civil War and change the attitudes held before it. When a society inculcates beliefs over a long period of time, those beliefs cannot be changed by a forceful imposition of others. The beliefs once practiced overtly continue to be held covertly. Force is never an effective instrument of conversion. Martyrdom is preferable to surrender, and even promises of a better future are ineffective.

So what did the Civil War really accomplish? It united a nation without uniting its people. The United States of America became one nation indivisible made up of two disunited peoples; it became a nation divided, and the division has spread.

Therein lies a lesson all nations should have learned. By the force of arms, you can compel outward conformity to political institutions and their laws, but you cannot change the antagonistic attitudes of people, that can remain unchanged for decades and longer waiting for opportunities to reassert themselves.

Any astute reader can apply this lesson to the present day’s activities in the Middle East. Neither force nor promises of a future better than the past can win the hearts and minds of people. And soldiers who die in an attempt to change another people’s values always die in vain.

All wars, even when carried on by the strongest of nations against weak opponents, are chancy, and their costs, in every respect, are always much more than anticipated, even putting aside the physical destruction and the lives lost.

Nations that have started wars with the psychological certainty of winning rarely have, and when they have, the results were rarely lasting or those sought. As Gandhi once observed, “Victory attained by violence is tantamount to a defeat, for it is momentary.”

The Crusaders, fighting under the banner of Christ, could not make Palestine a part of Christendom. France, under Napoleon, conquered most of Europe but lost it all and Napoleon ended up a broken man. Prussian militarism prevailed in the Franco-Prussian War, but in less than a century Germany had lost all. The Austrians in 1914 could not only not subdue the Serbs, the empire and its monarchial form of government were lost. The Germans and Japanese after 1939 and astounding initial successes were reduced to ruin.

But even the winners are losers.

Americans won the Mexican War and acquired the southwestern United States, but that conquest brought with it unfathomable and persistent problems—racial prejudice, discrimination, and an irresolvable problem of immigration and border insecurity. Americans likewise won the falsely justified Spanish American war and acquired a number of colonial states but were unable to hold most of them. The allies won the Second World War, but France and England lost the colonies they were fighting to preserve, and these two powers, which were great before the war, were reduced to minor status (although both still refuse to admit it). Israel has won five wars against various Arab states since 1948, but its welfare and security have not been enhanced, and Arab hatred and intransigence has grown more common.

People need to realize that after a war, things are never the same as they were before, and that even the winners rarely get what they fight for. War is a fool's errand in pursuit of ephemera.

At the end of World War II, American leaders wrongly assumed that America's superpower status gave it the means to impose its view of what the world should be like on others everywhere. Then came Korea and the assumption proved false. Despite all of the destruction and death inflicted on the North Koreans, their attitudes went unchanged. The lesson went unlearned. It went unlearned again in Viet Nam, after which Henry Kissinger is reported to have naively said, "I could not believe that a primitive people had no breaking point." The Vietnamese never broke. Now again Americans are foolishly assuming that the peoples of the Middle East will change their attitudes if enough force is imposed for a long enough time and enough promises of a better future are made. History belies this assumption.

Unfortunately, history teaches its lessons to only those willing to learn, and the American oligarchy shows no signs of having such willingness.

So let's start singing bye-bye, Miss American Pie

Warring is nothing but a bad way to die!


John Kozy is a retired professor of philosophy...His on-line pieces can be found HERE... and he can be emailed from that site's homepage.

This item was first published HERE....

© Copyright John Kozy, Global Research, 2010

Friday, August 20, 2010

Power of Israel Lobby Exposed

The Israel Lobby Swims The Atlantic

By Grant Smith

August 20, 2010 "Antiwar" -- Jeffrey Goldberg’s current cover story in The Atlantic, “The Point of No Return,” achieved massive distribution across a broad spectrum of old and new media in the United States. Some observers – including Glenn Greenwald in “How Propagandists Function” – noted how well the methodology and message of Goldberg’s piece serves the Israeli government’s efforts to push U.S. military action against Iran. Gareth Porter views it as part of an overarching strategy to keep the U.S. from restoring productive relations with Iran. A huge trove of newly declassified documents HERE...subpoenaed during a Senate investigation reveals how Israel’s lobby pitched, promoted, and paid to have content placed in America’s top news magazines with overseas funding. The Atlantic (and others) received hefty rewards for trumpeting Israel’s most vital – but damaging – PR initiatives across America.

Unlike today, back in the 1960s Israel and its lobby were battling mightily to draw American attention away from the entire subject of nuclear weapons in the Middle East. A secret executive report HERE...subpoenaed by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee investigation into the American Zionist Council, or AZC (AIPAC’s parent organization), reveals the lobby’s careful tracking of and satisfaction with most mainstream U.S. media coverage about the Dimona nuclear weapons facility

“The nuclear reactor story inspired comment from many sources: editorial writers, columnists, science writers and cartoonists. Most of the press seemed finally to accept the thesis that the reactor was being built for peaceful purposes and not for bombs. Some columnists felt that the U.S. should have awaited more information before ‘ventilating its suspicions’. Drew Pearson’s syndicated column justified Israel’s secrecy; William Laurence in the New York Times stressed Israel’s peaceful intent, in contrast to Arthur Krock who wanted the reactor placed under international safeguards. Arab protagonists in this country – including those in the State Department who raised all the fuss initially – used the occasion to try to cast doubt on Israel’s friendship toward the U.S.”

The observant now know that Israel’s massive, clandestine nuclear arsenal remains a thorn in the side of U.S. nonproliferation efforts. Building it required many unfriendly acts, such as materials theft and covert financing from U.S. donors. The Israeli nuclear arsenal story remains curiously under-reported in America, though not throughout the rest of the world. But have media outlets such as The Atlantic received assistance from Israel and its lobby for publishing helpful – but equally misleading – content?

The unqualified answer is yes.

In the early 1960s the AZC’s Magazine Committee [.pdf] met regularly with writers to prepare articles for top U.S. magazines such as Reader’s Digest, the Saturday Evening Post, and Life. In its program HERE...[.pdf] for “cultivation of editors” and “stimulation and placement of suitable articles in the major consumer magazines,” the committee pushed lighter subjects with prepared texts such as the thirteenth anniversary of Israel’s founding while killing investigative pieces at such publications as the Christian Science Monitor. The committee confronted two major news items challenging Israel: fallout from the “Lavon Affair” (a cover-up of failed false-flag Israeli terrorist attacks on U.S. government facilities in Egypt) and American peace proposals calling for the return of some expelled Palestinian refugees to their homes and property in Israel. The Israeli government and its U.S. lobby invested heavily in arguing against the return of Palestinian refugees through The Atlantic, according to yet another secret AZC report HERE...[.pdf]:

“The Atlantic Monthly in its October issue carried the outstanding Martha Gellhorn piece on the Arab refugees, which made quite an impact around the country. We arranged for the distribution of 10,000 reprints to public opinion molders in all categories. Acting on information that anti-Israel groups were bombarding the Atlantic with critical letters, we stimulated a letter campaign designed to counteract their impact. …"

“Interested friends are making arrangements with the Atlantic for another reprint of the Gellhorn article to be sent to all 53,000 persons whose names appear in Who’s Who in America…"

“The November issue of the Atlantic carried a special 64-page Supplement on Israel, with articles by some of Israel’s top names. …"

“Our Committee is now planning articles for the women’s magazines for the trade and business publications.”


The Jewish Agency, an Israeli quasi-governmental organization with pre-legislative review powers and access to Israeli government tax revenues, laundered overseas tax-exempt charitable relief funds into U.S. public relations and lobbying through its American section. The AZC was incapable of independently raising its own revenue and received $5 million ($36 million in 2010 dollars) from the Jewish Agency over two years for public relations and lobbying. The Jewish Agency received AZC bi-monthly media action reports. Up to $6,300 ($45,360 today) was budgeted for reprints of “The Arabs of Palestine,” which erroneously concluded that “Palestinian refugees will merge into the Arab nations, because the young will insist on real lives instead of endless waiting.” It is clear from contemporary news reports and the heavily redacted Senate record that the AZC and the Jewish Agency seriously violated IRS regulations and the 1938 Foreign Agents Registration Act.

The Senate investigation ultimately failed in its efforts to regulate secret foreign media manipulation and lobbying. The AZC transformed into AIPAC, and today The Atlantic is virtually alone among remnants of the battered magazine industry in its return to profitability. Jeffrey Goldberg’s prolific work no doubt helps propel that bottom line. But readers should remember the origin of deceptive waves of content that washed ashore in American magazines.

____________


Declassified: Massive Israeli Manipulation of US Media Exposed

By Russia Today

Files declassified in America have revealed covert public relations and lobbying activities of Israel in the U.S. The National Archive made the documents public following a Senate investigation. They suggest Israel has been trying to shape media coverage of issues it regards as important. You can download the files from the web-site of the Institute for Research on Middle Eastern policy. And we can cross to Washington now and talk to Grant F. Smith who is a director at that Institute.

Posted August 20, 2010



____________


How American News Media Works In Favor Of Israel


by: Alison Weir
"Off the Charts"
If Americans Knew







123 Israeli children have been killed by Palestinians and 1,050 Palestinian children have been killed by Israelis since September 29, 2000.


1,062 Israelis and at least 4,876 Palestinians have been killed since September 29, 2000.


8,341 Israelis and 33,034 Palestinians have been injured since September 29, 2000.

During Fiscal Year 2007, the U.S. gave more than $6.8 m
million per day to Israel and $0.3 million per day to the Palestinians.


Israel has been targeted by at least 65 UN resolutions and the Palestinians have been targeted by none.


1 Israeli is being held prisoner by Palestinians, while 10,756 Palestinians are currently imprisoned by Israel.


0 Israeli homes have been demolished by Palestinians and 18,147 Palestinian homes have been demolished by Israel since 1967.


The Israeli unemployment rate is 7.3%, while the Palestinian unemployment is estimated at 23%.


Israel currently has 223 Jewish-only settlements and ‘outposts’ built on confiscated Palestinian land. Palestinians do not have any settlements on Israeli land.


Bar Graphs and video's obtained HERE at "If American's Knew".... Please visit their excellent site.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Are We Really Leaving Iraq: What about the US Crimes Against Humanity?

Last of the Combat Troops Leaving Iraq? Only in your Dreams

Bill Noxid

August 20, 2010 "Information Clearing House" -- Watching MSNBC’s coverage of ‘the last combat troops leaving Iraq’ for 3 hours reminded of a few brutal realities that still plague this country and this planet. The first being just how far this country remains from any semblance of reality. It’s the kind of delusional denial that truly can only be believed when witnessed from within. As Keith Olbermann was describing the cinematic quality of the “Strykers driving into your living room,” I could really think of only one thing – The aftermath of a 7.5 year all out United States operation to decimate a people and their society.

There’s no way to comprehend the scope and facets of this operation, because you would need a Pentagon for that. From the first day after initial conquest when the money disappeared from the banks and their record of civilization was decimated by the looting of their museums, it was like any other colonial conquest in history, except every excruciating moment of this one was on television. The following 7.5 years of the assimilation of a country went as diagrammed.

From control (denial) of power, water, and even seed monopolization, to toxic contamination of the gene pool and re-education ‘schools,’ to monopolization of natural resources, to fostering drug addictions and self-perpetuating violence, etc., what took a hundred years to do to Native Americans was accomplished in under a decade. Quite an example of lessons learned from hundreds of years of colonization.

And in the name of all that is Holy, please do not delude yourself into believing this war is over. 50,000 troops will remain, an ‘unknowable’ number of contractors, mercenaries, and an embassy that makes the Vatican look like the summer home will remain. Certainly, the colonization of Iraq was one of the fastest and most efficient in history. It also needs to be the last.

So there are no delusions of the reality we have left for the Iraqi people, please watch the short videos below. Then, while you’re sitting with your family watching the MSM pundits debate whether the war was ‘worth it’ or not, think about how long you could survive the kind of ‘Freedom’ we have heaped on the Iraqis. Face the reality, and forget the cinema. See the following videos.

Iraq War Widows:



The Poisoning of Iraq:



Unknown Illnesses:



Still No Electricity in Baghdad:



____________


Leaving Iraq – Last Combat Unit Crosses the Border

By: David Dayen
Firedoglake.com
Thursday August 19, 2010 6:21 am

It’s a bit odd to discuss the last combat teams leaving Iraq when the 50,000 “advisers” will still have guns and combat training and the ability to support Iraqi security forces when needed. But this is the schedule that was laid out even before Barack Obama became President, and he followed it to the letter, even a couple weeks early, in fact.

The last U.S. combat troops crossed the border into Kuwait on Thursday morning, bringing to a close the active combat phase of a 7½-year war that overthrew the dictatorial regime of Saddam Hussein, forever defined the presidency of George W. Bush and left more than 4,400 American service members and tens of thousands of Iraqis dead [...]

“We are done with operations,” Lt. Steven DeWitt of San Jose, Calif., said as his vehicle reached Khabari Crossing on the border.

“This was a professional soldier’s job,” he said, describing “a war that has defined this generation of military men and women.

“And today it’s over,” he said.

It’s over and it should never have began. We went to war under false pretenses, for selfish reasons, and without any semblance of a plan. We stumbled into Baghdad expecting flowers and sweets. We left 4,400 men and women for no discernible reason (UPDATE: Not to mention the hundreds, not tens, of thousands of Iraqis), for a war and occupation that didn’t make us safer. We sparked a civil war that still simmers under the surface. And today it’s over, to quote the soldier up top.

Only it’s not over. As State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told MSNBC, “We have a long-term commitment to Iraq.” Even after the troops and the military advisers leave by the end of 2011 – and I do believe fully that they will – American civilians and private contractors will play a large role.

As the United States military prepares to leave Iraq by the end of 2011, the Obama administration is planning a remarkable civilian effort, buttressed by a small army of contractors, to fill the void.

By October 2011, the State Department will assume responsibility for training the Iraqi police, a task that will largely be carried out by contractors. With no American soldiers to defuse sectarian tensions in northern Iraq, it will be up to American diplomats in two new $100 million outposts to head off potential confrontations between the Iraqi Army and Kurdish pesh merga forces.

To protect the civilians in a country that is still home to insurgents with Al Qaeda and Iranian-backed militias, the State Department is planning to more than double its private security guards, up to as many as 7,000, according to administration officials who disclosed new details of the plan. Defending five fortified compounds across the country, the security contractors would operate radars to warn of enemy rocket attacks, search for roadside bombs, fly reconnaissance drones and even staff quick reaction forces to aid civilians in distress, the officials said.

So we’re trading the US military for DynCorp. And that’s not even good enough for some of those named in the article, who want “strategic patience” and a continued military presence beyond 2011 (the Obama Administration plan calls for “several dozen to several hundred officers in an embassy office who would help the Iraqis purchase and field new American military equipment” – we’re not going to let an opportunity go by to sell some weapons of war, after all).

So far, the President has resisted those calls, despite a chaotic political situation with no government for going on five months. America has had trouble leaving their wars. Some men and women, it always seems, get left behind. Let’s make sure that doesn’t happen.

____________


US Announces Second Fake End to Iraq War

by Jason Ditz,
Antiwar.com
August 18, 2010

It was another of those great TV moments. Embedded reports filming as the “last” brigade of American troops in Iraq cross the border into Kuwait bringing over seven years of unhappy conflict to its final, conclusive end. America was, at last, at peace.

But like so many other great TV moments, this one was a scripted fantasy, a fake exit done purely for political gain by an increasingly unpopular president trying to look like he is keeping at least one campaign promise.

It was perhaps a different sort of scripted, mythical end to the Iraq War than the last one, the May 1, 2003 “Mission Accomplished” speech of President Bush, but it was no more real, as over 50,000 US troops remain on the ground in Iraq tonight.

The “end of the war” may bring some measure of relief to the American people, but it must be something of a sombre moment for those 50,000 troops, as they continue to go into combat operations with the bulk of the American public believing, because their president told them so, that the war is over and combat operations have ended.

Officials have been pretty straightforward about what really happened, not that it has been picked up by the media, which has preferred the more pleasant narrative of a decisive military victory. Instead, the US simply “redefined” the vast majority of its combat troops as “transitional troops,” then removed a brigade that they didn’t relabel, so they could claim that was the “last one.” Even this comes with the assumption that the State Department, and a new army of contractors, will take over for years after the military operations end, assuming they ever do.

And it worked, at least for now. All is right with the world and the war is over, at least so far as anyone could tell from the TV news shows. But as violence continues to rise across Iraq, and July saw the worst violence in over two years, it will likely be difficult for the Obama Administration to keep this war a secret for much longer.

____________


Iraq sees last of US combatants
Press TV Iran
Thu Aug 19, 2010 3:4PM


The last US combat brigade has left Iraq in line with Washington's plans to implement a complete withdrawal from the war-torn country in the near future.

The 4th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division departed for neighboring Kuwait on Thursday.

"The combat troops have finished moving," said Captain Russell Varnado at a Kuwait-based US base.

"The troops are transitioning now. They are scheduled to go back home soon."

The US started and led the Iraqi invasion in 2003 based on allegations that Iraq harbored weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Later findings, however, proved that the country was not in possession of WMD, and that US officials who rallied support for the Iraqi invasion knew about it.

Iraqi civilians, meanwhile, bore the brunt of the violence, as militancy took grip of the country in reaction to the long-drawn US presence in Iraq.

Examples of such attacks and the damage inflicted on the civilian population included the two American attacks on Fallujah in central Iraq in 2004.

Recently, a study, titled "Cancer, Infant Mortality and Birth Sex-Ratio in Fallujah, Iraq 2005-2009," revealed that the toxic trail left by the American onslaughts have proved deadlier than the US attack on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki when they were targeted by atomic bombs in 1945.

Over one million Iraqis have died during the invasion, says California-based investigative project, Project Censored. The operations, on the other hand, claimed the lives of nearly 4500 American soldiers.

Thursday's withdrawal has left some 56,000 troopers stationed across Iraq, 6,000 of whom are to pull out by September 1.

The rest of the American servicemen, who will remain beyond that date, are supposed to establish a permanent mission, despite Washington's clams that it plans to fully terminate its military involvement by the end of next year.

They are reportedly slated to serve with an open-ended active duty in the Balad and al-Asad airbases respectively in north and west of Baghdad, the Victoria base in the capital, situated near Baghdad International Airport, as well as the Nasiriyah base south of the country.

HN/SAR/AKM

The Guns of August: Lowering the Flag on the American Century

By Chalmers Johnson
TomDispatch.com
9:29am, August 17, 2010.

In 1962, the historian Barbara Tuchman published a book about the start of World War I and called it The Guns of August. It went on to win a Pulitzer Prize. She was, of course, looking back at events that had occurred almost 50 years earlier and had at her disposal documents and information not available to participants. They were acting, as Vietnam-era Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara put it, in the fog of war.

So where are we this August of 2010, with guns blazing in one war in Afghanistan even as we try to extricate ourselves from another in Iraq? Where are we, as we impose sanctions on Iran and North Korea (and threaten worse), while sending our latest wonder weapons, pilotless drones armed with bombs and missiles, into Pakistan's tribal borderlands, Yemen, and who knows where else, tasked with endless "targeted killings" which, in blunter times, used to be called assassinations? Where exactly are we, as we continue to garrison much of the globe even as our country finds itself incapable of paying for basic services?

I wish I had a crystal ball to peer into and see what historians will make of our own guns of August in 2060. The fog of war, after all, is just a stand-in for what might be called "the fog of the future," the inability of humans to peer with any accuracy far into the world to come. Let me nonetheless try to offer a few glimpses of what that foggy landscape some years ahead might reveal, and even hazard a few predictions about what possibilities await still-imperial America.

Let me begin by asking: What harm would befall the United States if we actually decided, against all odds, to close those hundreds and hundreds of bases, large and small, that we garrison around the world? What if we actually dismantled our empire, and came home? Would Genghis Khan-like hordes descend on us? Not likely. Neither a land nor a sea invasion of the U.S. is even conceivable.

Would 9/11-type attacks accelerate? It seems far likelier to me that, as our overseas profile shrank, the possibility of such attacks would shrink with it.

Would various countries we've invaded, sometimes occupied, and tried to set on the path of righteousness and democracy decline into "failed states?" Probably some would, and preventing or controlling this should be the function of the United Nations or of neighboring states. (It is well to remember that the murderous Cambodian regime of Pol Pot was finally brought to an end not by us, but by neighboring Vietnam.)

Sagging Empire

In other words, the main fears you might hear in Washington -- if anyone even bothered to wonder what would happen, should we begin to dismantle our empire -- would prove but chimeras. They would, in fact, be remarkably similar to Washington's dire predictions in the 1970s about states all over Asia, then Africa, and beyond falling, like so many dominoes, to communist domination if we did not win the war in Vietnam.

What, then, would the world be like if the U.S. lost control globally -- Washington's greatest fear and deepest reflection of its own overblown sense of self-worth -- as is in fact happening now despite our best efforts? What would that world be like if the U.S. just gave it all up? What would happen to us if we were no longer the "sole superpower" or the world's self-appointed policeman?

In fact, we would still be a large and powerful nation-state with a host of internal and external problems. An immigration and drug crisis on our southern border, soaring health-care costs, a weakening education system, an aging population, an aging infrastructure, an unending recession -- none of these are likely to go away soon, nor are any of them likely to be tackled in a serious or successful way as long as we continue to spend our wealth on armies, weapons, wars, global garrisons, and bribes for petty dictators.

Even without our interference, the Middle East would continue to export oil, and if China has been buying up an ever larger share of what remains underground in those lands, perhaps that should spur us into conserving more and moving more rapidly into the field of alternative energies.

Rising Power

Meanwhile, whether we dismantle our empire or not, China will become (if it isn't already) the world's next superpower. It, too, faces a host of internal problems, including many of the same ones we have. However, it has a booming economy, a favorable balance of payments vis-à-vis much of the rest of the world (particularly the U.S., which is currently running an annual trade deficit with China of $227 billion), and a government and population determined to develop the country into a powerful, economically dominant nation-state.

Fifty years ago, when I began my academic career as a scholar of China and Japan, I was fascinated by the modern history of both countries. My first book dealt with the way the Japanese invasion of China in the 1930s spurred Mao Zedong and the Chinese Communist Party he headed on a trajectory to power, thanks to its nationalist resistance to that foreign invader. Incidentally, it is not difficult to find many examples of this process in which a domestic political group gains power because it champions resistance to foreign troops. In the immediate post-WWII period, it occurred in Vietnam, Indonesia, and Malaysia; with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, all over Eastern Europe; and today, it is surely occurring in Afghanistan and probably in Iraq as well.

Once the Cultural Revolution began in China in 1966, I temporarily lost interest in studying the country. I thought I knew where that disastrous internal upheaval was taking China and so turned back to Japan, which by then was well launched on its amazing recovery from World War II, thanks to state-guided, but not state-owned, economic growth.

This pattern of economic development, sometimes called the "developmental state," differed fundamentally from both Soviet-type control of the economy and the laissez-faire approach of the U.S. Despite Japan's success, by the 1990s its increasingly sclerotic bureaucracy had led the country into a prolonged period of deflation and stagnation. Meanwhile, post-U.S.S.R. Russia, briefly in thrall to U.S. economic advice, fell captive to rapacious oligarchs who dismantled the command economy only to enrich themselves.

In China, Communist Party leader Deng Xiaoping and his successors were able to watch developments in Japan and Russia, learning from them both. They have clearly adopted effective aspects of both systems for their economy and society. With a modicum of luck, economic and otherwise, and a continuation of its present well-informed, rational leadership, China should continue to prosper without either threatening its neighbors or the United States.

To imagine that China might want to start a war with the U.S. -- even over an issue as deeply emotional as the ultimate political status of Taiwan -- would mean projecting a very different path for that country than the one it is currently embarked on. (Editor's NOTE: As Dr. Joel Clarke Gibbons has argued in his latest book it appears that Taiwan is gradually and peacfully being completely subsumed into the main-land Chinese orbit without US opposition)

Lowering the Flag on the American Century

Thirty-five years from now, America's official century of being top dog (1945-2045) will have come to an end; its time may, in fact, be running out right now. We are likely to begin to look ever more like a giant version of England at the end of its imperial run, as we come face-to-face with, if not necessarily to terms with, our aging infrastructure, declining international clout, and sagging economy. It may, for all we know, still be Hollywood's century decades from now, and so we may still make waves on the cultural scene, just as Britain did in the 1960s with the Beatles and Twiggy. Tourists will undoubtedly still visit some of our natural wonders and perhaps a few of our less scruffy cities, partly because the dollar-exchange rate is likely to be in their favor.

If, however, we were to dismantle our empire of military bases and redirect our economy toward productive, instead of destructive, industries; if we maintained our volunteer armed forces primarily to defend our own shores (and perhaps to be used at the behest of the United Nations); if we began to invest in our infrastructure, education, health care, and savings, then we might have a chance to reinvent ourselves as a productive, normal nation. Unfortunately, I don't see that happening. Peering into that foggy future, I simply can't imagine the U.S. dismantling its empire voluntarily, which doesn't mean that, like all sets of imperial garrisons, our bases won't go someday (Editor--sadly I agree).

Instead, I foresee the U.S. drifting along, much as the Obama administration seems to be drifting along in the war in Afghanistan. The common talk among economists today is that high unemployment may linger for another decade. Add in low investment and depressed spending (except perhaps by the government) and I fear T.S. Eliot had it right when he wrote: "This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper."

I have always been a political analyst rather than an activist. That is one reason why I briefly became a consultant to the CIA's top analytical branch, and why I now favor disbanding the Agency. Not only has the CIA lost its raison d'être by allowing its intelligence gathering to become politically tainted, but its clandestine operations have created a climate of impunity in which the U.S. can assassinate, torture, and imprison people at will worldwide. (Editor's bold emphasis throughout)

Just as I lost interest in China when that country's leadership headed so blindly down the wrong path during the Cultural Revolution, so I'm afraid I'm losing interest in continuing to analyze and dissect the prospects for the U.S. over the next few years. I applaud the efforts of young journalists to tell it like it is, and of scholars to assemble the data that will one day enable historians to describe where and when we went astray. I especially admire insights from the inside, such as those of ex-military men like Andrew Bacevich and Chuck Spinney. And I am filled with awe by men and women who are willing to risk their careers, incomes, freedom, and even lives to protest -- such as the priests and nuns of SOA Watch, who regularly picket the School of the Americas and call attention to the presence of American military bases and misbehavior in South America.

I'm impressed as well with Pfc. Bradley Manning, if he is indeed the person responsible for potentially making public 92,000 secret documents about the war in Afghanistan. Daniel Ellsberg has long been calling for someone to do what he himself did when he released the Pentagon Papers during the Vietnam War. He must be surprised that his call has now been answered -- and in such an unlikely way.

My own role these past 20 years has been that of Cassandra, whom the gods gave the gift of foreseeing the future, but also cursed because no one believed her. I wish I could be more optimistic about what's in store for the U.S. Instead, there isn't a day that our own guns of August don't continue to haunt me.

Who Can We Believe?

Deceptive Economic Statistics:
While the economists lied the US economy died


By Paul Craig Roberts

August 18, 2010 "Information Clearing House" -- On August 17, Bloomberg reported a US government release that industrial production rose twice as much as forecast, climbing 1 percent. Bloomberg interpreted this to mean that “increased business investment is propelling the gains in manufacturing, which accounts for 11 percent of the world’s largest economy.”

The stock market rose.

Let’s look at this through the lens of statistician John Williams of shadowstats.com. Williams reports that “the primary driver of a 1.0% monthly gain in seasonally-adjusted July industrial production” was “warped seasonal factors” caused by “the irregular patterns in U.S. auto production in the last two years.” Industrial production “shrank by 1.0% before seasonal adjustments.”

If the government and Bloomberg had announced that industrial production fell by 1.0%in July, would the stock market have risen 104 points on August 17?

Notice that Bloomberg reports that manufacturing accounts for 11 percent of the US economy. I remember when manufacturing accounted for 18% of the US economy. The decline of 39% is due to jobs offshoring.

Think about that. Wall Street and shareholders and executives of transnational corporations have made billions by moving 39% of US manufacturing offshore to boost the GDP and employment of foreign countries, such as China, while impoverishing their former American work force. Congress and the economics profession have cheered this on as “the New Economy.”

Bought-and-paid-for-economists told us that “the new economy” would make us all rich, and so did the financial press. We were well rid, they claimed, of the “old” industries and manufactures, the departure of which destroyed the tax base of so many American cities and states and the livelihood of millions of Americans.

The bought-and-paid-for-economists got all the media forums for a decade. While they lied, the US economy died.

Now, back to statistical deception. On August 17 the census Bureau reported a small gain in July 2010 residential construction housing starts. More hope orchestrated. In fact, the “gain,” as John Williams reports, was due to a large downward revision” in June’s reporting. The reported July “gain” would “have been a contraction” without the downward revision in June’s “gain.”

So, the overestimate of June housing not only made June look good, but also the downward correction of the June number makes July look good, because starts rose above the corrected June number. The same manipulation is likely to happen again next month.

If the government will lie to you about Iraqi weapons of mass production, Iranian nukes, and 9/11, why won’t they lie to you about the economy?

We now have an all-time high of Americans on food stamps, 40.8 million people, about 14% of the population. By next year the government estimates that food stamp dependency will rise to 43 million Americans. So last week Congress cut food stamp benefits. Let them eat cake.

Wherever one looks--food stamps, home foreclosures, bankrupted states, mounting joblessness, the message to long-suffering Americans from “their government” is the same: go eat cake, while we fight wars for Israel that enrich the military/security complex and while we bail out banksters whose annual incomes are in the tens of millions of dollars and up.

It is impossible to get any truth out of the US government about anything. If private companies used US government accounting, the executives would be prosecuted, convicted, and incarcerated.

“Our government” is committed to fighting wars to enrich the military/security complex and Israel’s territorial expansion at the expense of cuts in Social Security and Medicare. All most members of Congress, especially Republicans, want to do is to pay for the pointless wars by cutting Social Security and Medicare.

When they worry about the deficit, it is usually Social Security and Medicare--so-called “entitlements” that are in the crosshairs.

You don’t have to be smart to see that Wall Street’s and the government’s response to the amazing US budget deficit is not to stop the senseless wars and bailouts of mega-millionaires, but to cut “entitlements.”

I will end this column on unemployment. “Our government” tells us that the unemployment rate is just under 10 percent, a figure that would have wrecked any post-Great Depression administration. But, again, “our government” is lying. The reported unemployment rate is just below 10% because the US government no longer, since the corrupt Clinton administration, counts Americans who have been unemployed for longer than one year. Once the unemployed hit one year and one day, they are dropped from the unemployment roles and no longer counted as unemployed.

Compare this fact with the number you read from the financial press. Right now, if measured according to the methodology of 1980, the US unemployment rate is about 22%. Thus, the reported rate of unemployment hides more than half of the unemployed. (Editor's bold emphasis throughout)

And Secretary Treasury Tim Geithner welcomed us in the August 2 New York Times to “the recovery.”

Utterly amazing.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

American Empire and the New World Order

Editor's NOTE:

I am extremely pleased to be able to publish this essay by Dr. Joel Clarke Gibbons a scholar of the first order, author and private business entrepreneur. Dr. Gibbons earned double doctorates in Economics and Mathematics from the University of Chicago and Northwestern University respectively. His latest book entitled: The Empire Strikes a Match in a World Full of Oil is an excellent read and can be obtained through Amazon.com HERE.... I wholeheartedly recommend it to readers of this blog.

While Dr. Gibbons and I disagree on some matters, in the main I concur with his thoughts on American Imperialism and the increasingly officious domestic US police state.

--Dr. J. P. Hubert



Rethinking the New World Order

By: Dr. Joel Clarke Gibbons, PhD Economics (University of Chicago), PhD Mathematics (Northwestern U.)
Logistics Research and Trading Co. at www.logisticresearch.com
Saint Joseph, Michigan, 49085
August 17, 2010

Paul Craig Roberts writes HERE... of the dangerous overextension of American military might and of its cost. A large coterie of observers who write from many different vantage points – former C.I.A. advisors, retired military men, and journalists from around the world – make the same case. When we understand the depth of this dangerous program and its cause, we can judge fully the danger and also perhaps begin to formulate a preferable alternative. The American enterprise that goes popularly by the name New World Order – but also known more darkly as the Empire – has grown in our midst without being properly understood.

A short excursion in a most bizarre bit of economic policy serves to put the matter in perspective. For many years now – I don’t know exactly when this began but figure something like twenty to twenty-five years ago – our Export-Import Bank has laid out billions of dollars to promote a rather surprising program: a program to maximize imports! Any manufacturer of goods in America could arrange to have his goods made anywhere else. He would them buy them from the foreign manufacturer and become their distributor in America, and the Ex-Im Bank would make it happen. Specifically, the foreign manufacturer would have to put up ten per cent of the investment capital to get up and running, and the Ex-Im Bank would lend the new joint venture the other ninety per cent of the required capital. It was shall we say, not unheard of that the silent partner in the new venture would happen to be perhaps the vice president of the benefiting country. The foreign partner would have its risk removed by virtue of a long term purchase agreement from the American manufacturer/distributor. Why would we pay well connected foreign capitalists to take our industries away from us?

Let me introduce you to a new class of persons: Citizens of the Empire. They come from every nation, though not from every condition of life. They come from the elite of every nation, and their loyalty is owed to that empire. As the saying goes, “Where their treasure is, there also will their heart be.” They are by no means all foreign born of course. Americans are not so foolish or so self-sacrificing as to provide this cushy status only to others. By far the largest number are Americans, Americans who work in a few fields of utility to the empire, and most notably on Wall Street. One thing is certain: they don’t make anything. Their motto is “We think; they sweat.” In writing this I do not want to diminish their work. This worldwide economic system, this “empire,” is in its way a brilliant innovation, and it has certainly served its citizens very well while it has also served the rest of us rather well too. We live extraordinarily well even when we have to pay our children’s college tuition ourselves. Never has the world been so prosperous because never have the productive capacities of the peoples of the world been so effectively harnessed in the service of all. We have opened the whole world and it has opened before us like a beautiful flower. Not only trade, but tourism and resettlement bespeak a world without borders. So while the world of economic affairs is by conventional standards quite bizarre, it works in surprising ways.

At the same time, it visibly does not work, in rather more conventional ways. It has bequeathed an America military burden that is totally unsustainable. Endless acreage of overseas military bases, endless wars, echoing whispers warning of hidden enemies lurking in every airport and even here at home. Countless spy cameras peering down on seemingly innocent shopping malls and street corners. Above all, endless mistrust and fear. There is something fundamentally inconsistent about this kind of empire. Something that pretends to defy the simple laws of something: economics? Sociology and anthropology? Human nature? The empire has triggered forces of unknown magnitude that we think are being kept at bay, but only at a cost that we cannot continue to pay indefinitely. The more smoothly and efficiently the empire functions, it seems, the more people hate it and us. More to the point, the more people seem willing to strap on bombs to kill their equally poor neighbors just to spite us.

We know that our eight-hundred-something foreign military installations cost too much and make too many enemies. If this empire is really to be the great benefactor of the world, why does it survive only at the point of a bayonet? It seems rather implausible that it would be the rather backward foreign workers who have at last gotten work in a factory or workshop somewhere who are the enemies of this empire. Compared with their former station, they are among the greatest beneficiaries. Human nature being what it is, it is hardly surprising that there are going to be malcontents and rabble-rousers and opportunists who want a bigger slice than chance has apportioned to them. At worst however they would be a police problem. After all, we have our bank robbers too. Above all, at worst they would be a local problem to be dealt with by local police and courts. What are our soldiers, and German soldiers and Italian soldiers, doing policing their streets and rounding up – or simply immolating – their miscreants? What are our drones doing patrolling their skies? An army has only one job: to confront and defeat other armies. Defeating the public is never a military mission, and that truth cuts across not only military practicality but natural law and rights as well.

What seems hard to fathom is how is it that anyone, anyone at all, could have become so deluded as to think that defeating civilians could ever be a military mission. It is at this point that we confront the logic of this empire: the steel underneath the velvet glove as it were. As it is presently constituted, the empire is Our empire. We built it and we run it. There are other centers of power who, while by no means hostile to the benefits that the world without borders provides, would rather it not be ours. Whether they dream of replacing us, or merely of sharing it with us is a mystery, but above all they don’t want it to be Ours. Any large and advanced country would naturally see things that way: Russia, China, India, perhaps Brazil. Let’s say that they just want to share. We don’t want to share. I think I speak for the American people in that matter, though quite obviously I do not actually speak for myself. It is not in some narrow sense a cost of the new world order that is too high; it is the cost of attempting to monopolize it that is too high. The very same empowerment of people all over the world, or drawing them into our technological civilization, that accelerates their development and makes more serious competitors. As but one little example, the day is not far off when China will be the source of computer chips to rival Intel Corp, and computers based on them to rival Microsoft. Russia has always had its own designs, and only their lack of infrastructure for mass production of both hardware and software have kept their computers of our shelves.

We find ourselves the greatest beneficiaries of a unified world, but a world that is also becoming, or seen as becoming, a growing threat to our hegemony. We are, in a word, in precisely the situation that the Athens of long ago, the Athens of Pericles and Socrates, found herself in. Master of the seas at that time; with trading outposts stretching from the Spanish coast to the Crimea and the eastern shores of the Black Sea, but gripped with fear that this all of this could be taken away at any time. The fall of Athens is now understood to have been not a murder but a suicide. Murdered by fear.

There are too many other powers for us to control even with ten times our number of bases. In fact, the bases have long since become counterproductive because their expense is draining our wealth. Our defensive actions are not limited to arms and wars. We have pursued a program of reducing the population of the world, especially the poorest parts of the world, by “family planning.” Why is it that this new world order, this great engine of advancement of every sort, this world without borders, should require eliminating the people it benefits – why does it not work better the more people it benefits? This is also a fundamental contradiction.

More recently another presumed inherent limitation has been advanced: it is supposed to be some sort of threat to the climate of the whole planet, of such great extent that fundamental freedoms must be surrendered to Save us from ourselves. The exposure of the scientific hoax of “global warming” perpetrated by a small coterie of ambitious climatologists and exploited by cunning and unprincipled political leaders is warning enough of this contradiction. (Editor's NOTE: Dr. Gibbons and I apparently disagree on the issue of climate change) In summary, whether it is because the new world order has enabled our rivals to gain the technological and economic tools to challenge us, or has enabled the poor of the Earth to outnumber us, or has enabled all of us to suffocate us – the story goes – the order cannot continue. This is the greatest contradiction: that our success is killing us.

Well, it is a contradiction. Our success is not our enemy. Neither foreign powers nor abundant foreign peasants nor foreign SUVs are plotting our ruin. If that is not our fate, what is the alternative? Two principles have to be accepted. The first is that this is a multipolar world. It is already a multipolar world even though no single rival can challenge us. If we want this to be Our empire we will have to fight for it, but it is a fight that will destroy the very way of life we would be fighting to preserve. The other principle is that, since we will not be empowered to make the laws and impose them, everyone including us will need to submit to a true Rule of Law in which all are equal before the law. This law is not just an ephemera. It needs courts and administrators of justice, just as our courts do now. I can think of few greater services that our leaders and legal experts could offer the new world order than to actually deliver the legal framework for keeping order.

To contact Joel Clarke Gibbons, E-mail him at: jgibbons@logisticresearch.com

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Any Solution to US Economic Nightmare: Keynesianism, Austerity or Revolution?

Editor's NOTE:

Every great empire runs the risk of imploding due to overextension and moral decadence. The American empire is currently troubled by both.

Instead of a Defense Department we actually maintain a trillion dollar per year "war department" with almost 1000 foreign bases and so-called "hot wars" in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Paul Craig Roberts is correct that we cannot continue to waste over a trillion dollars each year in war-making and hope to survive as a nation. It alone will bankrupt us.

Moreover, the fact that the oligarchs in their hedonistic greed, successfully transferred virtually all of our manufacturing base overseas has meant the almost total destruction of our middle class and in its place the establishment of a permanent underclass while the elites become unconscionably rich.

The economy is so threatened that experts disagree about what if anything can be done in way of trying to save the nation. It may already be too late. I agree with Roberts that the one major thing that could be done is to end our foreign empire and current wars. That alone could save over half a trillion dollars per year. The closing of most of our foreign military bases would save hundreds of billions more dollars each year. Additional money could be saved by bringing the hundreds of thousands of US troops home that are stationed abroad. Over 30 thousand are based in South Korea for no reasonable purpose.

Ergo: End the Empire and end the wars!

Roberts is also correct that multinational corporations must be forced to pay a heavy price for utilizing foreign labor at the expense of American jobs.

Ergo: Tax multinational corporations for their use of foreign laborers!

Paul Krugman presents an alternative solution below in short further fiscal stimulus and quantitative easing allowing the potential inflation rate to exceed 2%. I have no problem with additional short term stimulus. A depression era make-work jobs bill to boost infrastructure would be good in the near-term. I do not favor printing more money if that is what Krugman thinks is the way to increase the inflation rate. In any case, all will ultimately be lost if the "elephant in the room" which is our constant foreign wars and growing empire is not dealt with definitively post haste!

We simply must excise the war and empire portions of the federal budget which are not only unaffordable but which are also counterproductive and morally unjustified. The prescription is obvious albeit not easy.

--Dr. J. P. Hubert



The ecstasy of empire: How Close Is America’s Demise?

By Paul Craig Roberts

August 17, 2010 "Information Clearing House" -- The United States is running out of time to get its budget and trade deficits under control. Despite the urgency of the situation, 2010 has been wasted in hype about a non-existent recovery. As recently as August 2 Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner penned a New York Times Column, “Welcome to the Recovery.”

As John Williams (shadowstats.com) has made clear on many occasions, an appearance of recovery was created by over-counting employment and undercounting inflation. Warnings by Williams, Gerald Celente, and myself have gone unheeded, but our warnings recently had echos from Boston University professor Laurence Kotlikoff and from David Stockman, who excoriated the Republican Party for becoming big spending Democrats.

It is encouraging to see a bit of realization that, this time, Washington cannot spend the economy out of recession. The deficits are already too large for the dollar to survive as reserve currency, and deficit spending cannot put Americans back to work in jobs that have been moved offshore.

However, the solutions offered by those who are beginning to recognize that there is a problem are discouraging. Kotlikoff thinks the solution is massive Social Security and Medicare cuts or massive tax increases or hyperinflation to destroy the massive debts.

Perhaps economists lack imagination, or perhaps they don’t want to be cut off from Wall Street and corporate subsidies, but Social Security and Medicare are insufficient at their present levels, especially considering the erosion of private pensions by the dot com, derivative and real estate bubbles. Cuts in Social Security and Medicare, for which people have paid 15% of their earnings all their life, would result in starvation and deaths from curable diseases.

Tax increases make even less sense. It is widely acknowledged that the majority of households cannot survive on one job. Both husband and wife work and often one of the partners has two jobs in order to make ends meet. Raising taxes makes it harder to make ends meet--thus more foreclosures, more food stamps, more homelessness. What kind of economist or humane person thinks this is a solution?

Ah, but we will tax the rich. The usual idiocy. The rich have enough money. They will simply stop earning.

Let’s get real. Here is what the government is likely to do. Once the Washington idiots realize that the dollar is at risk and that they can no longer finance their wars by borrowing abroad, the government will either levy a tax on private pensions on the grounds that the pensions have accumulated tax-deferred, or the government will require pension fund managers to purchase Treasury debt with our pensions. This will buy the government a bit more time while pension accounts are loaded up with worthless paper.

The last Bush budget deficit (2008) was in the $400-500 billion range, about the size of the Chinese, Japanese, and OPEC trade surpluses with the US. Traditionally, these trade surpluses have been recycled to the US and finance the federal budget deficit. In 2009 and 2010 the federal deficit jumped to $1,400 billion, a back-to-back trillion dollar increase. There are not sufficient trade surpluses to finance a deficit this large. From where comes the money?

The answer is from individuals fleeing the stock market into “safe” Treasury bonds and from the bankster bailout, not so much the TARP money as the Federal Reserve’s exchange of bank reserves for questionable financial paper such as subprime derivatives. The banks used their excess reserves to purchase Treasury debt.

These financing maneuvers are one-time tricks. Once people have fled stocks, that movement into Treasuries is over. The opposition to the bankster bailout likely precludes another. So where does the money come from the next time?

The Treasury was able to unload a lot of debt thanks to “the Greek crisis,” which the New York banksters and hedge funds multiplied into “the euro crisis.” The financial press served as a financing arm for the US Treasury by creating panic about European debt and the euro. Central banks and individuals who had taken refuge from the dollar in euros were panicked out of their euros, and they rushed into dollars by purchasing US Treasury debt.

This movement from euros to dollars weakened the alternative reserve currency to the dollar, halted the dollar’s decline, and financed the massive US budget deficit a while longer.

Possibly the game can be replayed with Spanish debt, Irish debt, and whatever unlucky country swept in by the thoughtless expansion of the European Union.

But when no countries remain that can be destabilized by Wall Street investment banksters and hedge funds, what then finances the US budget deficit?

The only remaining financier is the Federal Reserve. When Treasury bonds brought to auction do not sell, the Federal Reserve must purchase them. The Federal Reserve purchases the bonds by creating new demand deposits, or checking accounts, for the Treasury. As the Treasury spends the proceeds of the new debt sales, the US money supply expands by the amount of the Federal Reserve’s purchase of Treasury debt.

Do goods and services expand by the same amount? Imports will increase as US jobs have been offshored and given to foreigners, thus worsening the trade deficit. When the Federal Reserve purchases the Treasury’s new debt issues, the money supply will increase by more than the supply of domestically produced goods and services. Prices are likely to rise.

How high will they rise? The longer money is created in order that government can pay its bills, the more likely hyperinflation will be the result.

The economy has not recovered. By the end of this year it will be obvious that the collapsing economy means a larger than $1.4 trillion budget deficit to finance. Will it be $2 trillion? Higher?

Whatever the size, the rest of the world will see that the dollar is being printed in such quantities that it cannot serve as reserve currency. At that point wholesale dumping of dollars will result as foreign central banks try to unload a worthless currency.

The collapse of the dollar will drive up the prices of imports and offshored goods on which Americans are dependent. Wal-Mart shoppers will think they have mistakenly gone into Neiman Marcus.

Domestic prices will also explode as a growing money supply chases the supply of goods and services still made in America by Americans.

The dollar as reserve currency cannot survive the conflagration. When the dollar goes the US cannot finance its trade deficit. Therefore, imports will fall sharply, thus adding to domestic inflation and, as the US is energy import-dependent, there will be transportation disruptions that will disrupt work and grocery store deliveries.

Panic will be the order of the day.

Will farms be raided? Will those trapped in cities resort to riots and looting?

Is this the likely future that “our” government and “our patriotic” corporations have created for us?

To borrow from Lenin, “What can be done?”

Here is what can be done. The wars, which benefit no one but the military-security complex and Israel’s territorial expansion, can be immediately ended. This would reduce the US budget deficit by hundreds of billions of dollars per year. More hundreds of billions of dollars could be saved by cutting the rest of the military budget, which in its present size, exceeds the budgets of all the serious military powers on earth combined.

US military spending reflects the unaffordable and unattainable crazed neoconservative goal of US Empire and world hegemony. What fool in Washington thinks that China is going to finance US hegemony over China?

The only way that the US will again have an economy is by bringing back the offshored jobs. The loss of these jobs impoverished Americans while producing over-sized gains for Wall Street, shareholders, and corporate executives. These jobs can be brought home where they belong by taxing corporations according to where value is added to their product. If value is added to their goods and services in China, corporations would have a high tax rate. If value is added to their goods and services in the US, corporations would have a low tax rate.

This change in corporate taxation would offset the cheap foreign labor that has sucked jobs out of America, and it would rebuild the ladders of upward mobility that made America an opportunity society.

If the wars are not immediately stopped and the jobs brought back to America, the US is relegated to the trash bin of history.

Obviously, the corporations and Wall Street would use their financial power and campaign contributions to block any legislation that would reduce short-term earnings and bonuses by bringing jobs back to Americans. Americans have no greater enemies than Wall Street and the corporations and their prostitutes in Congress and the White House.

The neocons allied with Israel, who control both parties and much of the media, are strung out on the ecstasy of Empire.

The United States and the welfare of its 300 million people cannot be restored unless the neocons, Wall Street, the corporations, and their servile slaves in Congress and the White House can be defeated.

Without a revolution, Americans are history.

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US unemployment: Don't let the elite pass the buck

Congress and the Federal Reserve should be pulling out all the stops to create jobs –not seeking to move the economy's goalposts

Paul Krugman
The Observer,
Sunday 15 August 2010

Growth is slowing and the odds are that unemployment will rise, not fall, in the months ahead. That's bad. But what's worse is the growing evidence that our governing elite just doesn't care – that a once-unthinkable level of economic distress is becoming the norm. And I worry that those in power, rather than taking responsibility for job creation, will soon declare that high unemployment is "structural", a permanent part of the economic landscape – and that by condemning large numbers of Americans to long-term joblessness, they'll turn that excuse into dismal reality.

Not long ago, anyone predicting that one in six American workers would soon be unemployed or underemployed, and that the average unemployed worker would have been jobless for 35 weeks, would have been dismissed as outlandishly pessimistic – in part because if anything like that happened, policy makers would surely be pulling out all the stops on behalf of job creation.

But now it has happened and what do we see?

First, we see Congress sitting on its hands, with Republicans and conservative Democrats refusing to spend anything to create jobs, and unwilling even to mitigate the suffering of the jobless.

We're told that we can't afford to help the unemployed – that we must get budget deficits down immediately or the "bond vigilantes" will send US borrowing costs sky-high. Some of us have tried to point out that those bond vigilantes are, as far as anyone can tell, figments of the deficit hawks' imagination – far from fleeing US debt, investors have been buying it eagerly, driving interest rates to historic lows. But the fear-mongers are unmoved: fighting deficits, they insist, must take priority over everything – everything, that is, except tax cuts for the rich, which must be extended, no matter how much red ink they create.

The point is that a large part of Congress, large enough to block any action on jobs, cares a lot about taxes on the richest 1% of the population, but very little about the plight of Americans who can't find work.

Well, if Congress won't act, what about the Federal Reserve? The Fed, after all, is supposed to pursue two goals: full employment and price stability, usually defined in practice as an inflation rate of about 2%. Since unemployment is very high and inflation well below target, you might expect the Fed to be taking aggressive action to boost the economy. But it isn't.

It's true that the Fed has already pushed one pedal to the metal: short-term interest rates, its usual policy tool, are near zero. Still, Ben Bernanke, the Fed chairman, has assured us that he has other options, like holding more mortgage-backed securities. And a large body of research suggests that the Fed could boost the economy by committing to an inflation target higher than 2%. (Editor's NOTE: It's unclear whether he has in mind here printing more money [so-called quantitative easing] which would be inflationary) But the Fed hasn't done any of these things. Instead, some officials are defining success down.

For example, last week Richard Fisher, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, argued that the Fed bears no responsibility for the economy's weakness, which he attributed to business uncertainty about future regulations – a view that's popular in conservative circles, but completely at odds with the evidence. In effect, he responded to the Fed's failure to achieve one of its two main goals by taking down the goalpost.

He then moved the other goalpost, defining the Fed's aim not as roughly 2% inflation, but rather "keeping inflation extremely low and stable".

In short, it's all good. And I predict – having seen this movie before, in Japan – that if and when prices start falling, when below-target inflation becomes deflation, some Fed officials will explain that that's OK, too.

What lies down this path? Here's what I consider all too likely. Two years from now unemployment will still be extremely high, quite possibly higher than it is now. But instead of taking responsibility, politicians and Fed officials will declare that high unemployment is structural, beyond their control. And, as I said, over time these excuses may turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy, as the long-term unemployed lose their connections with the workforce and become unemployable.

I'd like to imagine that public outrage will prevent this outcome. But while Americans are angry, their anger is unfocused. And so I worry that our governing elite, which just isn't all that into the unemployed, will allow the jobs slump to go on and on and on.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Gulf Oil Update: Day 119

BP to proceed with relief well after tests

By Chris Baltimore

Fri Aug 13, 2010 5:23pm EDT

HOUSTON (Reuters) - BP Plc will proceed with a relief well to kill its blown-out Gulf of Mexico well, the top U.S. spill official said on Friday.

"Everybody is in agreement that we need to proceed with the relief well," retired Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen said. "The question is how to do it."

The decision to continue with the relief well came as Alabama announced it was suing BP for the "catastrophic harm" that the spill had caused the state.

Earlier this week Allen had raised the possibility that the relief well might not be necessary because the cement poured into the top of the blown Macondo well last week -- the so-called "static kill" -- might have permanently killed it.

But after running pressure tests, BP and U.S. officials agree that the relief well is needed to plug the well 13,000 feet beneath the seabed, Allen said. The relief well is only about 45 feet from reaching the Macondo well.

"The relief well will be finished," Allen said. "We will kill the well."

The Macondo well, a mile down in the Gulf of Mexico, blew out April 20 and began spewing oil in what has become the worst offshore oilspill in history.

The well was provisionally capped on July 15 after spewing an estimated 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf, soiling marshlands, fisheries and tourist beaches along several hundreds of miles (kilometers) of the Gulf Coast.

The British energy giant has lost more than a third of its market value since the explosion and has set aside $32.2 billion to deal with clean-up costs.

BP faces hundreds of civil lawsuits from injured rig workers, fishermen, investors and property owners seeking to recoup losses. Alabama added to that pile by with its suit against BP and other companies for what Attorney General Troy King said was "catastrophic harm.

"We are suing them for the amount it will take to make Alabama whole," King said.

"WANTON FAILURE"

The suit, which did not set a damage figure, accuses the defendants of "negligent or wanton failure to adhere to recognized industry standards of care."

The spill has hurt fishing and tourism around the Gulf and has affected other sectors such as housing. People and businesses that have sustained losses can make claims against the BP compensation fund administered by Kenneth Feinberg, named by the White House as an independent overseer.

But King said Feinberg was undermining efforts by Gulf state attorneys general to make it possible for spill victims to claim damages from the fund while retaining the right to sue BP at a future date.

U.S. President Barack Obama, who has faced criticism for being slow to act in the face of the world's worst offshore oil spill, will vacation in Panama City, Florida, this weekend and make a public statement on the recovery effort on Saturday.

In Louisiana, the state hit hardest by the spill, U.S. and BP officials met with parish presidents and Gov. Bobby Jindal to discuss long-term recovery plans.

The U.S. government will enact an ocean monitoring system to detect underwater plumes of oil that could be harming undersea ecosystems, Allen said.

Meanwhile, top-level BP and U.S. officials including Energy Secretary Steven Chu and incoming BP chief executive Bob Dudley on Friday discussed how to proceed with the final well plug, Allen said.

Pressure tests completed late on Thursday showed that the well is effectively sealed, with "no communication with the reservoir," Allen said.

But engineers are worried that increased pressure from the "bottom kill" could damage the existing temporary cement plug and perhaps cause about 1,000 barrels of oil trapped in the well shaft to flow into the ocean, Allen said. Engineers are developing procedures to allay such concerns, he said.

After Allen gives the order to continue with the relief well, it will take about 96 hours to drill into the Macondo well shaft and perhaps days beyond that to complete the job, he said.

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Gulf seafood gets intense safety testing

By LAURAN NEERGAARD
The Associated Press
Monday, August 16, 2010; 4:33 AM

WASHINGTON -- Seafood from the Gulf of Mexico is being put under the microscope like no other kind on the market, with fish, shrimp and other catches ground up to hunt for minute traces of oil - far more reassuring than that sniff test that made all the headlines.

And while the dispersant that was dumped into the massive oil spill has consumers nervous, health regulators contend there's no evidence it builds up in seafood - although they're working to create a test for it, just in case.

More Gulf waters are reopening to commercial hauls as tests show little hazard from oil, and Louisiana's fall shrimp season kicks off Monday. Yet it's too soon to know what safety testing will satisfy a public so skeptical of government reassurances that even local fishermen voice concern.

Basic biology is key: Some species clear oil contamination out of their bodies far more rapidly than others. Fish are the fastest, oysters and crabs the slowest, and shrimp somewhere in between.

"I probably would put oysters at the top of the concern list and I don't think there's a close second," said marine scientist George Crozier, who directs the Dauphin Island Sea Lab in Alabama.

The oil contaminants of most health concern - potential cancer-causing substances called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs - show up in other everyday foods, too, such as grilled meat. Low levels also are in seafood sold from other waters.

Where Gulf seafood harvesting has been reopened, "the levels that we see are pretty typical of what we see in other areas, Puget Sound or Alaska," said Walton Dickhoff, who oversees testing at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Seattle.

Here are some questions and answers about Gulf seafood safety:

Q: What are PAHs? MORE...

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Gulf Seafood Testing: