In Freedom’s Name By Monica Benderman

Dandelion Salad

By Monica Benderman
08/02/07 “ICH

Reyam is fourteen years old. Her name means “white gazelles”. She’s a beautiful girl who loves to draw and chat with her friends. She’s bright, and works hard on her lessons. It’s three in the morning in Georgia, and the computer monitor and two candles cast the only light in the room as Reyam and I chat on the internet. She hopes she does well on her test in school. She would love to have a puppy, and her instant message icon changes weekly to fit the current teenage trends.

The miracle of technology, Reyam is teaching me Arabic using microphones, instant messages and something I’m still getting used to called an IMvironment. Reyam is in Baghdad. She “buzzes” my computer and I hear her talking – she is gentle, intelligent and caring, her parents should be proud. She tells me she hears bombings and it makes her scared. She tells me she sometimes wants to hide under her bed and she thinks she might cry. She tells me she tries so hard not to cry. She doesn’t want to cry, “I am an Iraqi, and I must be brave.”

Her generator loses power and our connection is ended for the night.

Freedom?

It’s five in the morning. In a parking lot opposite an abandoned Winn-Dixie store sits an old red pick-up with more rust than paint and a rope holding the hood down. The driver’s door is open and sticking out are a pair of slippered feet. The man they belong to is trying to sleep. Everything he owns is piled into the bed of the truck.

He once called himself ‘Honest Abe’, and is the spitting image of our sixteenth president. For years he traveled to schools around the country sharing his love for history in a one-act play he had written, dressed in the black hat and tails of his namesake. Now accused of stealing money from the people he worked for over the past five years, he has been arrested and released. He had worked for room and board and for reasons known to him, his social security was meager. He cared more about teaching children our country’s history than saving money for his retirement. His hands and feet are blistered with open wounds; a skin disease no one seems able to diagnose. Not wanting the burden of having to care for him, the city has decided to let him live in the parking lot until his court date. A police officer has said that it would be best if the man simply died.

Freedom?

In Iraq, the United States military is “surging” to strengthen the security of a country whose borders had once been secure, now decimated from an invasion by the United States military. Some people in the United States actually still believe our soldiers are over there fighting for our freedom. Thousands of Iraqis become refugees from their homeland every day. Thousands more have died in the four years this fiasco has continued on. This is for freedom?

I sit and think about my friends in Iraq, the Iraqi people we talk with, the soldiers who tell us what they face and how they believe; and I take a look around this United States, my home.

Freedom.

Let me tell you something about freedom.

Freedom does not rely on history. Freedom does not rely on endless lectures on where our culture has been and where it is going.

Freedom does not rely on young men and women signing their lives away for an enlistment bonus serving as nothing more than a glittery facade to keep innocents from knowing they’re about to become slaves.

Freedom does not rely on wars being fought on foreign soil so we don’t have to face our enemies at home.

Freedom does not rely on the work of past generations, so that this generation can remain idle in their responsibility, consumed by achieving the pretense of success.

Freedom does not rely on others fighting our battles while we profess moral support for their actions from living rooms and computer monitors where our words are posted using pseudonyms so our government cannot track our actions.

Freedom.

It is August. At the end of the month the final brigades designated as part of the “surge” for security in Iraq are scheduled to deploy from Fort Stewart. Soldiers don’t hide their feelings much any more. In grocery stores, gas stations and local businesses, more and more soldiers are willing to express their displeasure at the continued deployments with no definitive end. Some soldiers are returning for their fourth deployment in four years.

Freedom.

I will hear from those who tell me soldiers volunteered to serve, they get what they deserve. Others will tell me soldiers can stop fighting at any time. Still more will write and remind me that our soldiers are fighting for our freedom, and we should honor them by supporting them and allowing them to continue their work.

In Georgia this weekend, residents are gearing up for “tax free shopping.” Parking lots of shopping malls will be full of vehicles bearing faded out ribbons with barely legible words. “I Support the Troops.”

Freedom.

Two years ago tonight I received a phone call at three in the morning. It was my husband calling from the County Jail. He was being taken in the night to an airport in nearby Savannah to fly three thousand miles away to serve the sentence imposed by a military judge who oversaw the kangaroo court-martial his commanders fabricated and manipulated. No one in the command bothered to tell me what they had up their sleeve, but the past two years were a sentence from hell, as much for waiting for the promises of “support” to materialize from those who claimed to have the best interests of soldiers in mind as for the reasons he was put in prison to begin with.

Freedom.

A ten year veteran who served a combat tour in Iraq, Kevin had seen the reality of what he had been asked to do, and took action to stand against it. Kevin was proud to serve, he was proud of what he gave this country. He trusted people when they said they would stand with him as he fought against actions that violated his commitment to serve with honor. He believes in the Constitution and his oath to defend its laws, enough that he refused to give in to the threats and intimidation of his command even if it were to avoid spending time in prison for his beliefs.

It was midnight last night as I witnessed a scene played out repeatedly at our house in the year since he was released from prison; anger and frustration from facing the reality that the country he believed in and gave so much to really does not care, regardless of what a soldier fights for.

Freedom.

We learn more daily about the depth of the surveillance program that threatens the freedoms of people in the United States. The Patriot Act becomes more invasive with every renewal. People complain about their liberties being taken away as they continue to laud the efforts of our soldiers in Iraq keeping us free.

Freedom is earned. Freedom is fought for, not with guns, but by standing strong for the values and principles which define the laws of our Constitution. Freedom takes work. Freedom takes commitment. Freedom means taking a realistic look at ourselves, our goals and our actions; knowing we are living our truth, but not at the expense of another’s freedom.

Freedom requires courage and diligence.

Freedom requires action from all, not just a few.

We have freely allowed the homeland of millions of innocent Iraqis to be destroyed. We have freely allowed a war to continue for over four years, creating a spending deficit which will take generations to overcome, putting lives in turmoil, and dividing our nation. We are freely allowing our freedoms to be taken away.

It is midnight in Georgia. In the distance is the sound of artillery rounds pounding from the training grounds of Fort Stewart. We hear them nightly now as the final brigades of the latest surge make final preparations to deploy. “I am an American, I must be brave,” though what I see from my country is enough to make a person cry.


Monica is the wife of Sgt. Kevin Benderman, a ten-year Army veteran who served a combat tour in Iraq and a year in prison for his public protest of war and the destruction it causes to civilians and to American military personnel. Please visit their website, www.BendermanDefense.org to learn more.

Monica and Kevin may be reached at mdawnb@coastalnow.net

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

All Fall Down by Stephen P. Pizzo

Dandelion Salad

by Stephen P. Pizzo
Atlantic Free Press
Thursday, 02 August 2007

I wonder how many of those Minnesota commuters were listening to news on their car radios as they approached the I-35W bridge yesterday afternoon? Those who were probably had just listened to GOP members of the House urging their Democratic party colleagues to hurry up and pass legislation re-authorizing the “Terrorist Surveillance Act.”

“It is absolutely vital at the time of a heightened threat environment to realize the present system simply is not as responsive as it needs to be in terms of providing the flexibility and speed in acting on actionable intelligence,” pronounced White House spokesman, Tony Snow.

Maybe that’s what the victims thought was happening as the bridge collapsed under them yesterday — that “the terrorists,” had struck again. After all, since 2001 terrorism has been about the only threat to American’s safety, lives and wellbeing this administration mentions — and they mention it often.

So, as those poor folks dropped 65 feet towards the Mississippi below, surely they must have figured that was the cause of their pending misfortune – terrorism.

Those who survived the fall quickly learned that it wasn’t terrorism at all. What killed or almost killed those Americans wasn’t al-Qaeda but al-George and his administration’s neglect, mismanagement, misdirection and mis-allocation of our nation’s attention, priorities and resources.

The day before the I-35W span collapsed we learned that the war in Iraq will eventually drain the US treasury of somewhere between $1- to $2 trillion dollars. Not a dime of that will be available to perform critical, and already too-long delayed, repairs to the tens of thousands of bridges and overpasses that carry tens of millions of Americans every day.

In 2005 the American Society of Civil Engineers reported that $1.6 trillion is needed over a five-year period to repair American’s crumbling bridges, highways and other critical public infrastructure.

We didn’t, we haven’t and we likely won’t do that. Instead that money is being spent to rebuild Iraq’s infrastructure, much of which will either be promptly blown up by Iraqis themselves or simply left to rot.

U.S. overseers and Iraq rebuilding failures
International Herald Tribune — July 26, 2007: The report, issued Wednesday, is the first of a planned series of audits of Western contractors that have received large slices of the roughly $40 billion in U.S. taxpayer money that has been spent on the troubled program to rebuild Iraq. Previous audits have looked at individual projects but never the performance across Iraq of a single contractor. (Full Story)

Meanwhile, back here at home, a giant 83-year old steam pipe blows leaving a huge crater in the middle of a New York City street, a 40-year old bridge in America’s heartland collapses during rush hour, our air traffic control system can just barely operate, saddled by failing, antique computer systems and a shortage of runways. Meanwhile air passengers become accustomed to sleeping on cots at terminals as an ever-growing number of flights are delayed or canceled.

Over at the NOAA another day of reckoning looms. Even as global warming threatens more Katrina-type hurricanes, there are no replacements being readied for America’s aging fleet of weather satellites.

I’m not going to belabor the point. You get it. The bottom line is that you are more likely to be killed or injured on American soil by a falling bridge or plane or by falling into a giant sink hole than by a terrorist. And not just a little more likely, but exponentially more likely.

As I write this I am waiting to hear what George Bush is going to say about yesterday’s bridge collapse in a scheduled morning news conference. We know what he would have said had a terrorist flown a plane into that bridge. He would have come out swinging, demanding that we “connect the dots,” to discover how such a thing was allowed to happen. He would also use the opportunity to demand more money to fight terrorism and support for proposals to trim back more of our domestic rights so he can protect us from just that kind of threat.

And, we’d likely go along with him too. He is certainly not going to suggest we need to “connect the dots.” on yesterday’s bridge collapse, because those dots lead right to Oval Office and Congress.

Yesterday’s disaster wasn’t terrorism. Al-Qaeda didn’t take down that bridge. Nor will al-Qaeda bring down who knows how many other bridges, killing who knows how many more Americans in the years ahead. No it wasn’t. The “terrorist” this time wasn’t al-Qaeda. It was the Bush Administrationm, and Congress’ misplaced priorities that killed those Americans yesterday. It was the product of the fatal combination of imperial hubris, military/industrial primacy and the blind greed military spending it fosters once it gets on a roll.

How ironic that it was Dwight D. Eisenhower who championed and built American’s interstate highway system back in the 50’s.

The Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956, popularly known as the National Interstate and Defense Highways Act, was enacted on June 29, 1956, when a hospitalized Dwight D. Eisenhower signed this bill into law. Appropriating $25 billion for the construction of 40,000 miles of interstate highways over a 10-year period, it was the largest public works project in American history to that point.

The money was handled in a highway trust fund that paid for 90 percent of highway construction costs with the states required to pay the remaining 10 percent. It was expected that the money would be generated through new taxes on fuel, automobiles, trucks and tires. It is said he drew six lines (three vertical and three horizontal) on a piece of paper and told his people to base their freeway system on it. (Full)

It was also as Eisenhower who, on leaving office tried to warn us of the danger created at the nexus of politics, business and the military.

“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”

Eisenhower was, of course prescient. We ignored that warning and so it has come to pass. The proof lies among the bodies and wreckage of the I-35W bridge. What Ike could not foresee was that this ascendant military-industrial complex would end up also destroying the crown jewel of his administration — our national highway and transportation system.

Anyway, that’s the way it is. So rather than stockpiling duct tape and plastic to protect yourself from a terrorist attack, it might be wiser to stock your cars with a helmet and life preserver for yourself and each passenger.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

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A Metallurgist’s Insights Into the Minneapolis Bridge Disaster by Joel S. Hirschhorn

A Metallurgist’s Insights Into the Minneapolis Bridge Disaster by Joel S. Hirschhorn

Dandelion Salad

by Joel S. Hirschhorn
Atlantic Free Press
Thursday, 02 August 2007

The incredible collapse of the Minneapolis bridge will send a message to the nation that has been repeatedly sent for decades, but that our political system has refused to effectively respond to. America ’s physical, engineered infrastructure has been in desperate need for massive spending to repair and replace, but the multi-trillion-dollar cost has been rejected by local, state and federal politicians.

First, understand that I have a professional background in this area. My career started as a metallurgist, than I obtained a Ph.D. in Materials Engineering and became a full professor of metallurgical engineering at the University of Wisconsin, Madison where I taught about mechanical metallurgy and failure analysis, and in my consulting practice regularly worked on explaining actual failures of products and systems.

Many academic and professional groups have for many years produced countless reports on mounting unpaid public costs for updating our crucial physical infrastructure, including bridges, but going way beyond those to, for example, roads, water and sewer systems, tunnels and much more. Make no mistake: The deeply researched and totally supported case for a massive national infrastructure spending program could not have been clearer. But spending on infrastructure is not sexy and politicians at ALL levels of government have found countless excuses for not facing the totality of the problem. Instead, public spending is dribbled out, dealing with the most urgent problems or, worse yet, the ones that are the most visible to the public. But unaddressed are massive numbers of problems, such as the Minneapolis bridge and thousands more bridges, that our bureaucratic system has learned to game, postpone, rationalize and, therefore, put the public safety at considerable risk.

As a metallurgist I can pretty much assure you that if there is a technically honest and complete investigation, the ultimate explanation of the Minneapolis bridge failure will be related to fatigue cracking in the metal structure. Already, news reports have revealed some prior observation of a fatigue problem with the bridge and that the bridge had a relatively low rating of four out of a possible nine, showing that it was structurally deficient. The game played by virtually all government agencies is to find excuses for delaying the most costly repair or replacement of bridges and other parts of our physical infrastructure. As just another example, in most older urban areas there are constant repairs of busted underground water pipes. What is really needed, but avoided, is a total replacement of very old underground pipe systems – in many places 100 or more years old!

Government inspection programs have been terribly compromised over many years. The incredible political pressures to minimize spending on infrastructure have filtered down to the people, procedures and technologies used to examine bridges and other things. When it comes to bridges it is also important to admit that many aspects of our automobile addiction have raised risks, including enormously greater numbers of vehicles creating heavy traffic during much of the day in urban regions. Add to this the massive increase in vehicle weight resulting from the incredible increase in monster SUVs, as well as huge increases in large truck traffic.

The Minneapolis bridge collapse happened during evening rush hour because that was a period of maximum stress, and that would be the trigger for expanding existing fatigue cracks. Once fatigue cracks get to critical sizes they grow and propagate very rapidly, producing powerful loads and stresses on remaining steel components and creating what appears to be a virtually instantaneous bridge collapse.

The remaining public policy question is clear: Will the nation spend what is necessary? Seven other major bridge collapses in the last 40 years have not done the trick. Inadequate bridge inspection has been a frequent documented problem, as well as some design defects. Many people have already died from bridge failures. But still the nation’s elected officials have not bitten the bullet and agreed to spend trillions of dollars over several decades to bring America ’s physical infrastructure up to the most modern standards.

Think about all this the next time you go over a bridge.

[The author can be reached through www.delusionaldemocracy.com.]

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

Bomber Obama: My Own Personal Terror War by Chris Floyd

Dandelion Salad

Written by Chris Floyd
Thursday, 02 August 2007

(UPDATED BELOW.)

What would be the best way to pull America — and the world — out of the dizzying spiral of the “War on Terror,” which has spread death, destruction and extremism across the globe?

Why, invading Pakistan, of course! Yes, sending American tanks, troops and warplanes into the only Islamic nation with a nuclear arsenal — and a large, angry, powerful and growing fundamentalist movement to boot — would obviously be an act of wise and prudent statecraft. It is, after all, the very strategy now being advocated by such brilliant counselors as William Kristol and his doughty comrades in the ever-expanding “Long War” against evilism.

That’s why we were truly heartened to see Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama boldly step across the partisan divide and embrace the policies of the Full Spectrum Dominators in his “major foreign policy speech” on Wednesday. Obama declared that if the Pakistani government did not start a wholesale slaughter of its own people in the tribal lands on the Afghan border, where no government writ has ever run, then when he is president he will send in American troops to do the job.



Continued…

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Banana Republic: Chertoff, Chiquita and Right-Wing Death Squads by Chris Floyd

Money Been On Me Blues: Once More With the Hat by Chris Floyd

Banana Republic: Chertoff, Chiquita and Right-Wing Death Squads by Chris Floyd

Dandelion Salad

Written by Chris Floyd
Thursday, 02 August 2007

As Jonathan Schwarz recently noted, there is a deeply discouraging sameness about the outrages that dissenting writers must address — and a new front-page story in the Washington Post is a perfect example. In fact, it’s a piece that could have been written any time in the last 100 years or more: “Feds Look the Other Way While United Fruit Company Peddles Death and Corruption in Latin America.”

Continue reading

Reviewing Linda McQuaig’s “It’s the Crude, Dude” by Stephen Lendman

Dandelion Salad

by Stephen Lendman

Linda McQuaig is a prominent, admired, and award-winning Canadian journalist writing about vital issues of concern to everyone. She was a national reporter for the Toronto Globe and Mail before joining the Toronto Star where she now covers Canadian politics with her trademark combination of solid research, keen analysis, irreverence, passion and wit. She’s easy to read, never boring, and fearless. The National Post called her “Canada’s Michael Moore.”

McQuaig is also a prolific author with a well-deserved reputation for taking on the establishment. In her previous seven books, she challenged Canada’s deficit reduction scheme to gut essential social services. She explained how the rich used the country’s tax system to get richer the way it’s worked in the US since Ronald Reagan and then exploded under George Bush. She exposed the fraud of “free trade” (never called fair because it isn’t) empowering giant corporations over sovereign states while exploiting working people everywhere.

She also showed how successive Canadian governments waged war on equality since the 1980s, and in her latest book, “Holding the Bully’s Coat – Canada and the US Empire,” she takes aim at the conservative Stephen Harper administration’s allying with George Bush’s belligerent lawlessness and phony “war on terrorism.” Canada chose not to be part of Washington’s concocted “coalition of the willing” in Iraq but partnered in its war of aggression and illegal occupation of Afghanistan.

Her last book before her latest one is another important tour de force and subject of this review. It’s titled “It’s the Crude, Dude: war, big oil, and the fight for the planet.” It’s no secret America’s wars in the Middle East and Central Asia are to control what a Franklin Roosevelt State Department spokesman in 1945 called a “stupendous source of strategic power, and one of the greatest material prizes in world history” – the huge amount of Middle East oil with most of it believed to be in Saudi Arabia then. With it goes veto power over how it’s distributed, to whom, at what price, for whose benefit and at whose expense. Today, one country above all others may be that “greatest material prize” making it target number one America intends to control for the strategic power and riches it represents.

The country is Iraq, and it’s the reason US forces invaded and occupy it. McQuaig’s book explained it stunningly, beginning on her opening page: The “oil motive” drives America’s wars “given oil’s obvious geopolitical significance, and the fact that Iraq is the last easily harvested oil bonanza left on earth.” More on that below and also on the fact that with less than 5% of the world’s population and 3% of its oil reserves, the US wastefully consumes one-fourth of all oil production with no plan to cut back. It means a reliable outside source is essential pointing directly at the Middle East where two-thirds of all proved reserves are located. They’re not inexhaustible, however, as oil is a finite resource. It means a crunch ahead is inevitable.

Continued…

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If Hamas must renounce violence, so should Israel By Linda McQuaig

The criminal cover-up of Ohio’s stolen 2004 election sinks to the fraudulent, the absurd, the pathetic by Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman

Dandelion Salad

by Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman
The Free Press
August 2, 2007

The illegal destruction of federally protected 2004 election materials by 56 of 88 Ohio counties has become a fraudulent “dog ate my homework” farce of absurd justifications and criminal coverups.

The mass elimination of the critical evidence that could definitively prove or disprove the presumption that the 2004 election was stolen has all the markings of a Rovian crime perpetrated to hide another one. Indeed, under Ohio law, that’s precisely what must be presumed here.

But what makes the situation downright pathetic is that Ohio’s new Democratic Secretary of State, Jennifer Brunner, has publicly stated she sees “no evidence” of intentional destruction in the disappearance in more than 60% of the state’s counties of the ballots from the 2004 presidential election.

So once again, as did Al Gore in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004, the Democrats seem poised to cave to the on-going GOP coup that has redefined America, and that now involves the criminal destruction of contested evidence in one of the most controversial vote counts in US history.

Ironically, in Florida, under Jeb Bush, the ballot records from the 2000 election in all but one of the state’s counties were successfully preserved. They are now stored in a state repository in Tallahassee. An unofficial recount conducted by the national media concluded that Al Gore rightfully carried Florida, and thus the presidency, in 2000.

A parallel preservation was ordained by federal and state law for the election records from Ohio 2004, where a similar examination has been viewed as inevitable.

But a series of excuses that range from the lame to the pathetic to the obviously criminal have left us shocked—shocked!—to learn that despite the protection of established federal law, a federal court order, long-standing Ohio laws, two directives from the Ohio Secretary of State’s office, and legal notification letters from plaintiff’s attorneys to hold the evidence, a precise recount of Ohio’s stolen 2004 election may no longer be possible.

In short, Brunner has informed us that 56 of Ohio’s 88 counties have mostly “inadvertently” destroyed all or some of their records from the 2004 presidential election.

Are we surprised?

Wait ’til you hear how these mostly Republican directors say it happened!

The materials were under legal protection “from birth” on November 4, 2004, shielded by national law, acknowledged by Brunner, by Ohio Revised Coded 3505.31, then by a federal court decision in the now-legendary King-Lincoln-Bronzeville lawsuit (in which we are attorney and plaintiff).

The Ohio Revised Code specifically states that in presidential elections “the board shall carefully preserve all ballots prepared and provided by it for use in that election, whether used or unused, for twenty-two months after the day of the election.” In this case, that would have been through September 2, 2006.

These records were also essential to reconstructing a credible recount that was most pointedly stifled by then-Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell. Brunner blamed the destruction of documents on Blackwell, “…for not giving counties clear instructions and for not notifying them quickly enough about U.S. District Judge Algenon L. Marbley’s September 7, 2006 order,” according to the conservative Columbus Dispatch.

But many of the ballots were destroyed soon after the election in a series of events whose descriptions grow stranger and more implausible by the day.

In October 25, 2004, just prior to the election, Blackwell issued directive 2004-43, reminding all county election officials of the federal 22-month holding period for presidential ballots. That meant all election-related materials would be under federal protection until September 2, 2006.

On August 23, 2006, plaintiff’s attorneys in the King-Lincoln-Bronzeville case hand-delivered a letter to the Secretary of State’s office and faxed notices to all 88 county Board of Elections offices that the ballots were to be evidence in the forthcoming civil rights suit against Blackwell.

On August 31, 2006 that suit was filed in Marbley’s federal court in Columbus. The AP reported that same day that Blackwell “has signaled his willingness to keep ballots from the contentious 2004 election beyond their scheduled September 3 destruction date in response to activists who plan to sue him in federal court today.”

Ohio laws also require that noticed—for election-related materials and other public records—be offered to the Ohio Historical Society and other public repositories before they are destroyed. Public record forms must be filed and Ohio law requires a Certificate of Destruction. Nonetheless, Blackwell erroneously told the Dispatch the next day that he was “willing to ask the boards not to destroy ballots, but the decision ultimately is a local one.”

But under applicable law, the decision was definitely not “a local one.” Indeed, Judge Marbley ordered all of Ohio’s 88 counties to “…preserve all ballots from the 2004 presidential election on paper or in any other format, including electronic data, unless and until such time otherwise instructed by this court.” Thus anyone destroying such records, from Election Day until the time you read this, may have broken various federal or state laws, and be in contempt of a federal court order.

King-Lincoln alleges a wide range of civil rights violations perpetrated by Blackwell and many of Ohio’s 88 county boards of elections based on race, economic status, political inclination, wrongful denial of absentee ballots (as in Harvey’s case) and more.

Here are some of the stories the counties are telling about the destruction of their ballots: (View the original state documents in a 19.5MB PDF)

Hancock County says it “received verbal directions” from Secretary of State Blackwell’s office that unused and soiled ballots “did not have to be retained and these items were destroyed.”

But any election audit requires a complete set of used and unused ballots to ensure that the unused ballots weren’t stuffed illegally into the ballot box. The law refers specifically to “all” ballots.

Putnam County apparently understood this all too clearly. That’s why they informed Brunner that “all unused ballots were destroyed for security purposes.”

In Warren County, on Election Day, the board of elections declared a Level 10 Homeland Security alert for which neither the Homeland Security Agency nor the FBI has any documentation or explanation. The alert served as cover for moving the vote count to an isolated warehouse, away from the media. Bush emerged from Warren County with a huge majority, far in excess of what he received in 2000.

Some twenty-two thousand officially unused ballots from Warren County are now mysteriously missing.

Warren County Board of Elections Director Michael E. Moore has written Brunner, stating that, in complete defiance of the law, “They were not accidentally destroyed. They were destroyed pursuant to standard practices that had been used by the Board of Elections for many years in Warren County regarding unused punch card ballots.” Moore notes that “The unused ballots were destroyed 60 days after the 2004 election.”

Warren, along with neighboring Clermont and Butler counties, provided Bush with more than his entire 118,775 winning margin in Ohio 2004. Thus these three counties were singled out for allegations of fraud in the election contest case Moss v. Bush (though only after surviving the first-ever Congressional challenge to a state’s entire Electoral College delegation). The allegations of fraud on a level that could have decided the presidency were thus never tested in court…and now the evidence has been destroyed.

Clermont County “could not locate” the unused ballots, according to Mike Keeley, Board of Elections Director.

Butler County cannot provide the “2004 General Election Ballot Pages.” Director Betty McGary says that “at no time was anyone specifically instructed to discard these items. Our staff unintentionally discarded boxes containing Ballot Pages as requested in Directive 2007-07 due to unclear and misinterpreted instructions.” For complex reasons having to do with Ohio’s precinct ballot rotation law, the ballots from Butler County cannot be recounted with the “Ballot Pages” missing. The pages match the punches to the candidates.

Holmes County BOE Director Lisa Welch wrote Brunner that “a shelving unit collapsed in the Board of Elections storeroom on the morning of Friday, April 7, 2006. That shelving unit held the voted ballots, stubs, soiled and defaced ballot envelopes, and ballot accounting charts from the 2004 General Election. The shelves and stored items collapsed onto a side table holding a working coffee maker. The carafe on the coffee maker was full at the time of the incident. Many of the stored items had to be destroyed due to the broken glass and hot coffee. The ballot pages and unused ballots were stored on a neighboring shelf and were not damaged.”

Holmes County was rendered infamous by Karl Rove’s legendary spin claiming there was an unprecedented massive turnout of homophobic old order Amish voted for Bush and against gay marriage. (It is well-known that the Amish as a community rarely vote).

Allen County “labeled all voted ballots and placed [them] in our vault for the required 22 months of storage,” according to Keith Cunningham, Director. Cunningham distinguished himself as a pro-Bush and Rove mouthpiece when he testified at then-Congressman (now-felon) Bob Ney’s cursory March 2005 hearing into the 2004 Ohio election.

Cunningham told the Secretary of State that in the “…latter part of 2004 and into 2005… [we] began to experience problems with storm water migrating and subsequently penetrating our primary storage areas including our vault.” He told Free Press reporter Paddy Shaffer that the vault had been flooding for “six years,” and he had to put the 2004 presidential ballots on the floor because he needed the shelf space.

Cunningham added that: “As a result of these events, much of what was stored in our vault, including the 2004 general election ballots, were compromised by water damage and subsequently destroyed on or about August 20, 2006. Pursuant to the recommendations of the Allen County Health Department the boxes displaying mold or mildew were set aside to be discarded. Unfortunately, the contractor hired to remove the damaged boxes also accidentally removed the undamaged boxes as well,” stated Cunningham, who did manage to save 498 write-in ballots.

The Health Department records recommended destruction or isolation as a solution.

Guernsey County’s ballots suffered a similar twisted fate. According to BOE Director Jacqueline Newhart, “The unused ballots as well as the punch card ballot pages were destroyed in error” because “the county maintenance worker, when collecting trash, picked up the boxes” that contained them.

In allegedly mobbed up Mahoning County, the board of elections has blamed environmentalists for inadvertently destroying the ballots. Apparently the “Mahoning County Green Team picked up all recyclables in the storage room for disposal pursuant to the retention schedule,” according to Director Thomas McCabe. As a result, some 115, 936 ballots “were accidentally disposed of on Friday, March 23 of 2007.”

Down in Hamilton County (Cincinnati), home of the Taft family dynasty, the unvoted and soiled ballots were “inadvertently shredded between January 19th and 26th of ’06.”

Perhaps the most egregious case of ballot destruction, and easiest to criminally prosecute, is Director Steve Harsman’s in Montgomery County. Researcher Richard Hayes Phillips reported in the Free Press that, “…the Board was eager to destroy them [the ballots]. The employees who handled the ballots for me brought up the subject themselves.”

Harsman conceded that the “Ohio Revised Code” required a 22-month “retention schedule.” Yet, he argues that since the “Certificate of Destruction” had already been “prepared” prior to his receiving the order from Judge Marbley that he had the right to destroy the ballots.

“We literally ran out of space to prepare, stage, and retain material for these elections. It was imperative that we process the 2004 materials for destruction under the guidelines of the 22-month retention. Therefore, all materials were properly destroyed in a timely manner and we were unable to comply due to these circumstances. We did not receive formal notice from the courts prior to preparing the certification of destruction,” Harman wrote.

Thus Harman admits to openly defying a federal court order and destroying evidence because he wasn’t notified “prior to preparing the certification of destruction.”

But Judge Marbley pointed out in his opinion and order of September 11, 2006 in support of his order of September 7, that the Ohio Revised Code 3501.16 makes it a fourth degree felony for, among other things, willfully or negligently violating election laws as a director of a board of elections.

The original story of the ballots being saved for litigation and history made the pages of the New York Times. But the blatant and bizarre destruction of Ohio’s 2004 ballots has been relegated to the back page of the Columbus Dispatch Metro & State section. The brief article by Mark Niquette ran below the fold and the weather map, and above an ad for Window World and the Ohio State Medical Center.

Matt Damschroder, the Franklin County (Columbus) Board of Election Director and former Chair of the Republican Party, assured the Dispatch that the “counties did nothing intentionally wrong.” Damschroder is the President of the Ohio Association of Election Officials and was suspended without pay for a month after he accepted a $10,000 check from a Diebold representative in his office, made out to the GOP on the day the bidding for e-voting machines opened.

His job was in jeopardy until Board of Elections President Bill Anthony, Chair of the Franklin County Democratic Party, intervened to save Damschroder from firing.

King-Lincoln-Bronzeville Attorney Cliff Arnebeck stated that “The nature and scope of the cover-up can tell a lot about the nature and scope of the crime. Destruction of relevant documents can create a presumption that such evidence would have helped the other side in litigation.”

Arnebeck also said White House advisor Karl Rove “has had the keys to the US Justice Department for some time. No wonder FBI investigations requested by US Rep. John Conyers of the House Judiciary Committee went nowhere. He also used those keys to scuttle two years of work by the IRS and FBI of financial corruption at the Ohio Statehouse.”

Overall this blatant destruction of evidence only reinforces the widespread belief that the 2004 election was stolen. The loss of ballot materials in a few isolated counties might be an understandable random event. But for more than 60% of the state’s BOEs to have destroyed ballots or ballot materials amidst a series of bizarre, absurd explanations is a joke.

America has been robbed of its history here. The public has a right to know the true outcome of the 2004 election, and to have its laws about preservation of critical records honored.

Under evidence laws, the destruction of material that serves as evidence in a lawsuit is presumed to be fraudulent action by the destroyer.

But the Bush-Rove-Blackwell regime is about nothing if not contempt for the law. And its assault on the documents that could show what really happened in Ohio’s contested 2004 election seems yet another obvious confirmation that it was, in fact, stolen.

Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman’s HOW THE GOP STOLE AMERICA’S 2004 ELECTION & IS RIGGING 2008, available at freepress.org (where this article first appeared) along with the FITRAKIS FILES. HARVEY WASSERMAN’S HISTORY OF THE US is at http://www.solartopia.org.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

08.01.07 Uncensored News Reports From Across The Middle East (video; over 18 only)

Dandelion Salad

Warning

This video contains images depicting the reality and horror of war and should only be viewed by a mature audience.

Selected Episode

Aug. 1, 2007

For more episodes and other Link TV programs:
http://www.linktv.org/originalseries

Taliban threaten to kill more Korean hostages,” Al Jazeera TV, Qatar
Saudi Arabia Backs Conference Proposed by Bush,” Al Arabiya TV, UAE
US Arms Sale to Saudi Arabia Raises Concern,” IBA TV, Israel
Sunni Political Bloc Withdraws from Maliki’s Government,” Saudi TV, Saudi Arabia
Turkey May Pursue Kurd Separatists into Iraq,” Al-Alam TV, Iran
Turks Re-discover Islamic Identity,” ANB TV, England
Lebanese Army Honored,” Al Jazeera English, Qatar
Takfiris Haunt Arab Scholars,” New TV, Lebanon
Mauritanians Prefer Cheaper Expired Medicines,” Dubai TV, UAE

Isfahan Dazzles Generations,” IRIB2 TV, Iran

Bush’s Secret Spying on Americans By Robert Parry

Dandelion Salad

By Robert Parry
August 2, 2007

The dispute over whether Attorney General Alberto Gonzales committed perjury when he parsed words about George W. Bush’s warrantless surveillance program misses a larger point: the extraordinary secrecy surrounding these spying operations is not aimed at al-Qaeda, but at the American people.

There has never been a reasonable explanation for why a fuller discussion of these operations would help al-Qaeda, although that claim often is used by the Bush administration to challenge the patriotism of its critics or to avoid tough questions.

On July 27, for instance, White House press secretary Tony Snow fended off reporters who asked about apparent contradictions in Gonzales’s testimony by saying:

“This gets us back into the situation that I understand is unsatisfactory because there are lots of questions raised and the vast majority of those we’re not going to be in a position to answer, simply because they do involve matters of classification that we cannot and will not discuss publicly.”

Discussion closed.

But al-Qaeda terrorists always have assumed that their electronic communications were vulnerable to interception, which is why 9/11 attackers like Mohamed Atta traveled overseas for face-to-face meetings with their handlers. They limited their phone calls to mostly routine conversations.

The terrorists also had no reason to know or to care that the U.S. government was or wasn’t getting wiretap approval from the secret court created by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. They simply took for granted that their communications could be intercepted and acted accordingly.

It never made sense to think that al-Qaeda terrorists suddenly would get loose-lipped just because the FISA court was or wasn’t in the mix. The FISA court rubber-stamps almost all wiretap requests from the Executive Branch for domestic spying, and overseas calls don’t require a warrant.

Can anyone really imagine a conversation like “Gee, Osama, since Bush has to get FISA approval, we can now call our sleeper agents and plan the next attack.”

Similarly, there’s no reason to think terrorists would change their behavior significantly if they knew that the U.S. government was engaged in massive data-mining operations, poring through electronic records of citizens and non-citizens alike.

The 9/11 attackers mostly stayed off the grid and many of their transactions, such as renting housing, would not alone have raised suspicions. Indeed, the patterns that deserved more attention, such as enrollment in flight-training classes and the arrival of known al-Qaeda operatives, were detected by alert FBI agents in the field but ignored by FBI officials in Washington – and by Bush while on a month-long vacation in Texas.

The 9/11 attacks were less a failure of intelligence than a failure of political attention by Bush’s national security team.

Americans in the Dark

So what’s the real explanation for all the secrecy about the overall structure of the so-called Terrorist Surveillance Program?

The chief reason, especially for the excessive secrecy around the data-mining operations, appears to be Bush’s political need to prevent a full debate inside the United States about the security value of these Big Brother-type procedures when weighed against invasions of Americans’ privacy.

Bush knows he could run into trouble if he doesn’t keep the American people in the dark. In 2002, for instance, when the Bush administration launched a project seeking “total information awareness” on virtually everyone on earth involved in the modern economy, the disclosure was met with public alarm.

The administration cited the terrorist threat to justify the program which involved applying advanced computer technology to analyze trillions of bytes of data on electronic transactions and communications. The goal was to study the electronic footprints left by every person in the developed world during the course of their everyday lives – from the innocuous to the embarrassing to the potentially significant.

The government could cross-check books borrowed from a library, fertilizer bought at a farm-supply outlet, X-rated movies rented at a video store, prescriptions filled at a pharmacy, sites visited on the Internet, tickets reserved for a plane, borders crossed while traveling, rooms rented at a motel, and countless other examples.

Bush’s aides argued that their access to this electronic data might help detect terrorists, but the data could prove even more useful in building dossiers on anti-war activists or blackmailing political opponents. A targeted individual would have almost no privacy in the face of an all-knowing government.

Despite the administration’s assurance that political abuses wouldn’t happen, the capability would be a huge temptation for political strategists like Karl Rove who have made clear that they view anyone not supporting Bush’s war on terror as a terrorist ally.

In 2002, the technological blueprint for this Orwellian-style project was on the drawing board at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Pentagon’s top research and development arm. DARPA commissioned a comprehensive plan for this electronic spying – and did so publicly.

“Transactional data” was to be gleaned from electronic data on every kind of activity – “financial, education, travel, medical, veterinary, country entry, place/event entry, transportation, housing, critical resources, government, communications,” according to the Web site for DARPA’s Information Awareness Office.

The program would then cross-reference this data with the “biometric signatures of humans,” data collected on individuals’ faces, fingerprints, gaits and irises. With this knowledge at its fingertips, the government would have what it called “total information awareness” about pretty much everyone.

Masonic Eye

The Information Awareness Office even boasted a logo that looked like some kind of clip art from George Orwell’s 1984. The logo showed the Masonic symbol of an all-seeing eye atop a pyramid peering over the globe, with the slogan, “scientia est potentia,” Latin for “knowledge is power.”

Though apparently unintentional, DARPA’s choice of a giant white pyramid eerily recalled Orwell’s Ministry of Truth, “an enormous pyramidal structure of glittering white concrete, soaring up, terrace after terrace, 300 metres into the air.” The all-seeing Masonic eye could be read as “Big Brother Is Watching.”

Former Vice President Al Gore and some civil libertarians noted these strange similarities both in style and substance to Orwell’s totalitarian world.

“We have always held out the shibboleth of Big Brother as a nightmare vision of the future that we’re going to avoid at all costs,” Gore said. “They have now taken the most fateful step in the direction of that Big Brother nightmare that any president has ever allowed to occur.”

Besides the parallels to 1984, the administration’s assurances about respecting constitutional boundaries were undercut by its provocative choice of director for the Information Awareness Office. The project was headed by President Reagan’s former national security adviser John Poindexter, who was caught flouting constitutional safeguards and federal laws in the Iran-Contra scandal of the mid-1980s.

Poindexter was the White House official who approved the transfer of profits from the sale of missiles to Iran’s Islamic fundamentalist government to Nicaraguan contra rebels for the purchase of weapons, thus circumventing the Constitution’s grant of war-making power to Congress. Under U.S. law at the time, military aid was banned to both Iran and the contras.

In 1990, Poindexter was convicted of five felonies in connection with the Iran-Contra scheme and the cover-up. But his case was overturned by a conservative-dominated three-judge appeals court panel, which voted 2-1 that the conviction was tainted by congressional immunity given to Poindexter to compel his testimony to Congress in 1987.

Though Poindexter’s Iran-Contra excesses in the 1980s might have been viewed by some as disqualifying for a sensitive job overseeing the collection of information about nearly everyone on earth, DARPA said it sought out such committed characters to run its projects.

“The best DARPA program managers have always been freewheeling zealots in pursuit of their goals,” the agency’s Web site said. [For more details on this and other Bush administration authoritarian-style projects, see our new book, Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush.]

‘Scrapped’ Program

When the “total information awareness” project was disclosed, public outrage forced the Bush administration into retreat, ousting Poindexter and supposedly scrapping the massive data-mining program.

What is now apparent, however, is that the Bush administration simply took many of these data-mining features and put them under the rubric of what’s known generally as the Terrorist Surveillance Program, or as administration insiders call it, “the TSP.”

The data-mining component of the operation is considered so sensitive that in December 2005 when Bush acknowledged the TSP’s warrantless wiretapping, he continued his silence about the data-mining aspect.

That distinction is at the heart of the dispute about Gonzales’s testimony. The Attorney General told the Senate Judiciary Committee that there was no significant internal disagreement about the legality of the surveillance program undertaken by the National Security Agency, which is responsible for high-tech electronic spying.

However, senior senators – after noting that former Deputy Attorney General James Comey and FBI Director Robert Mueller recounted high-level threats to resign over the project’s legality – raised questions about whether Gonzales had committed perjury.

In a letter to senior members of the Judiciary Committee on Aug. 1, Gonzales acknowledged that he had parsed his words narrowly.

“I recognize that the use of the term Terrorist Surveillance Program and my shorthand reference to the ‘program’ publicly ‘described by the president’ may have created confusion, particularly for those who are knowledgeable about the N.S.A. activities authorized by the presidential order,” the Attorney General wrote.

A day earlier, Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell made a similar point in a letter to Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pennsylvania. McConnell wrote that after the 9/11 attacks, Bush signed a single executive order which authorized “a number of … intelligence activities.”

Defending Gonzales’s from perjury accusations, McConnell revealed that, in administration jargon, the Terrorist Surveillance Program is only “one particular aspect of these activities, and nothing more.” [Washington Post, Aug. 1, 2007]

Real Reasons

Yet, whether Gonzales’s legalistic parsing crossed the line into perjury or not, the larger question is why the Congress and the American people have been kept so ignorant of these programs that the administration feels it can get away with playing word games.

Since al-Qaeda already assumes it’s under tight scrutiny – and since technical secrets of the surveillance program could still be legitimately classified – there appears to be no compelling operational reason for blocking a more informed public debate that would weigh the proper balance between liberty and security in a democratic society.

Yet, because of the secrecy that Bush has pulled down around these operations, neither Congress nor the people can evaluate whether the trade-offs of liberty for security are worth it. Leading senators can’t even make an informed judgment about whether Gonzales lied to them.

But that, of course, might be exactly the point. The real purpose of all the secrecy appears to be to enable the Bush administration to construct an authoritarian framework – similar to the “total information awareness” concept – without the American people knowing that their liberties are facing a draconian threat from intrusive government spying.

Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush, can be ordered at neckdeepbook.com. His two previous books, Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq and Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & ‘Project Truth’ are also available there.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

see:

U.S. Orders Recruitment Of Over 15,000 Informants For Domestic Spying By Sorcha Faal

Canada Sells Off Its Economic Jewels by Rodrigue Tremblay


Dandelion Salad

by Rodrigue Tremblay
Translated by Wendy Forrest
Thursday, August 2, 2007

“One cannot separate property and power; one can simply have them change hands.”
— John Randolph (1773-1833)

“The situation becomes serious when the company is nothing any more but one bubble of air in the speculative swirl.” John M. Keynes (1883-1946) “The interest of the dealers, however, in any particular branch of trade or manufactures, is always in some respects different from, and even opposite to that of the public. To widen the market and to narrow the competition, is always the interest of the dealers. To widen the market may frequently be agreeable enough to the interest of the public; but to narrow the competition must always be against it, and can serve only to enable the dealers, by raising their profits above what they naturally would be, to levy, for their own benefit, an absurd tax upon the rest of their fellow-citizens.”
— Adam Smith (1723-1790)

Québec is a giant in hydroelectricity, with an average annual production of some 37 000 megawatts. Over half of hydroelectric energy in Canada is produced in Québec. This is why the sale of Alcan to foreign interests is of particular concern. Alcan is the most important industrial producer of electricity in Québec. It has a net market worth of approximately $40 billion Canadian dollars and employs 105,000 people, of whom 8,000 are in Québec. More importantly, however, is the fact that Alcan owes its enviable strategic position to hydroelectric concessions obtained from the Québec government. Indeed, these yearly subsidies, in the form of private hydroelectric licences that are renewed annually, allow Alcan to produce electricity at very low costs.

On July 12, a “white knight”, the anglo-Australian consortium Rio Tinto, announced its intention to take control of the Canadian company Alcan, with the unanimous blessing of its board of directors. Alcan is the third largest global producer of aluminum products and the second largest world producer of primary aluminum. Its current registered head office, with 800 employees, is located in Montréal, Québec. In 2003, Alcan bought out the French aluminum producer Pechiney, and the management of its Packaging division is located in Paris.

Continued…

The “Protocol of the Elders of American Neoconservatism” and the Blood of American Soldiers by Walter C. Uhler

Dandelion Salad

by Walter C. Uhler
2 August 2007

As virtually every literate citizen on our planet knows, since the nineteenth century anti-Semites have been extolling the crackpot and wicked Protocols of the Elders of Zion in order to prove a conspiracy by Jews to rule the world. Even today, alas, the Protocols remain popular and believable throughout the world, especially the Middle East. Yet, since the end of the Cold War there has been little in the political behavior of the Jews among America’s neoconservatives to refute such beliefs. After all, it was people with the names Paul Wolfowitz, Irv Lewis Libby and Eric Edelman, who “in 1992…co-authored a security doctrine for the United States that aimed at perpetual hegemony and implied perpetual aggression to prevent the emergence of ‘peer’ powers.” [Juan Cole, “Informed Comment,” July 21, 2007]

Continue reading

Return of the Robber Barons By Paul Craig Roberts

Dandelion Salad

By Paul Craig Roberts
August 01, 2007
As the Bush Regime outfits B-2 stealth bombers with 30,000 pound monster “bunker buster” bombs for its coming attack on Iran, the US economy continues its 21st century decline. While profits soar for the armaments industry, the American people continue to take it on the chin.

The latest report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the real wages and salaries of US civilian workers are below those of 5 years ago. It could not be otherwise with US corporations offshoring good jobs in order to reduce labor costs and, thereby, to convert wages once paid to Americans into multi-million dollar bonuses paid to CEOs and other top management.

Good jobs that still remain in the US are increasingly filled with foreign workers brought in on work visas. Corporate public relations departments have successfully spread the lie that there is a shortage of qualified US workers, necessitating the importation into the US of foreigners. The truth is that the US corporations force their American employees to train the lower paid foreigners who take their jobs. Otherwise, the discharged American gets no severance pay. [See, for example, BofA: Train your replacement, or no severance pay for you  By David Lazarus, San Francisco Chronicle, 2006 ]

Law firms, such as Cohen & Grigsby, compete in marketing their services to US corporations on how to evade the law and to replace their American employees with lower paid foreigners. As Lawrence Lebowitz, vice president at Cohen & Grigsby, [send him mail] explained in the law firm’s marketing video, “our goal is clearly, not to find a qualified and interested US worker.”

Meanwhile, US colleges and universities continue to graduate hundreds of thousands of qualified engineers, IT professionals, and other professionals who will never have the opportunity to work in the professions for which they have been trained. America today is like India of yesteryear, with engineers working as bartenders, taxi cab drivers, waitresses, and employed in menial work in dog kennels as the offshoring of US jobs dismantles the ladders of upward mobility for US citizens.

Over the last year (from June 2006 through June 2007) the US economy created 1.6 million net private sector jobs. As Charles McMillion of MBG Information Services reports each month, essentially all of the new jobs are in low-paid domestic services that do not require a college education.

The category, “Leisure and hospitality,” accounts for 30% of the new jobs, of which 387,000 are bartenders and waitresses, 38,000 are workers in motels and hotels, and 50,000 are employed in entertainment and recreation.

The category, “Education and health services,” accounts for 35% of the gain in employment, of which 100,000 are in educational services and 456,000 are in health care and social assistance, principally ambulatory health care services and hospitals.

“Professional and technical services” accounts for 268,000 of the new jobs.

“Finance and insurance” added 93,000 new jobs, of which about one quarter are in real estate and about one half are in insurance.

“Transportation and warehousing” added 65,000 jobs, and wholesale and retail trade added 185,000.

Over the entire year, the US economy created merely 51,000 jobs in architectural and engineering services, less than the 76,000 jobs created in management and technical consulting (essentially laid-off white collar professionals).

Except for a well-connected few graduates, who find their way into Wall Street investment banks, top law firms, and private medical practice, American universities today consist of detention centers to delay for four or five years the entry of American youth into unskilled domestic services.

Meanwhile the rich are getting much richer and luxuriating in the most fantastic conspicuous consumption since the Gilded Age. Robert Frank has dubbed the new American world of the super-rich “Richistan.”

In Richistan there is a two-year waiting list for $50 million 200-foot yachts. In Richistan Rolex watches are considered Wal-Mart junk. Richistanians sport $736,000 Franck Muller timepieces, sign their names with $700,000 Mont Blanc jewel-encrusted pens. Their valets, butlers (with $100,000 salaries), and bodyguards carry the $42,000 Louis Vitton handbags of wives and mistresses.

Richistanians join clubs open only to those with $100 million, pay $650,000 for golf club memberships, eat $50 hamburgers and $1,000 omelettes, drink $90 a bottle Bling mineral water and down $10,000 “martinis on a rock” (gin or vodka poured over a diamond) at New York’s Algonquin Hotel.

Who are the Richistanians? They are CEOs who have moved their companies abroad and converted the wages they formerly paid Americans into $100 million compensation packages for themselves. They are investment bankers and hedge fund managers, who created the subprime mortgage derivatives that currently threaten to collapse the economy. One of them was paid $1.7 billion last year. The $575 million that each of 25 other top earners were paid is paltry by comparison, but unimaginable wealth to everyone else.

Some of the super rich, such as Warren Buffet and Bill Gates, have benefitted society along with themselves. Both Buffet and Gates are concerned about the rapidly rising income inequality in the US. They are aware that America is becoming a feudal society in which the super-rich compete in conspicuous consumption, while the serfs struggle merely to survive.

With the real wages and salaries of American civilian workers lower than 5 years ago, with their debts at all time highs, with the prices of their main asset–their homes–under pressure from overbuilding and fraudulent finance, and with scant opportunities to rise for the children they struggled to educate, Americans face a dim future.

Indeed, their plight is worse than the official statistics indicate. During the Clinton administration, the Boskin Commission rigged the inflation measures in order to hold down indexed Social Security payments to retirees.

Another deceit is the measure called “core inflation.” This measure of inflation excludes food and energy, two large components of the average family’s budget. Wall Street and corporations and, therefore, the media emphasize core inflation, because it holds down cost of living increases and interest rates. In the second quarter of this year, the Consumer Price Index (CPI), a more complete measure of inflation, increased at an annual rate of 5.2% compared to 2.3% for core inflation.

An examination of how inflation is measured quickly reveals the games played to deceive the American people. Housing prices are not in the index. Instead, the rental rate of housing is used as a proxy for housing prices.

More games are played with the goods and services whose prices comprise the weighted market basket used to estimate inflation. If beef prices rise, for example, the index shifts toward lower priced chicken. Inflation is thus held down by substituting lower priced products for those whose prices are rising faster. As the weights of the goods in the basket change, the inflation measure does not reflect a constant pattern of expenditures. Some economists compare the substitution used to minimize the measured rate of inflation to substituting sweaters for fuel oil.

Other deceptions, not all intentional, abound in official US statistics. Business Week’s June 18 cover story [The Real Cost Of Offshoring, by Michael Mandel] used the recent important work by Susan N. Houseman to explain that much of the hyped gains in US productivity and GDP are “phantom gains” that are not really there.

Other phantom productivity gains are produced by corporations that shift business costs to consumers by, for example, having callers listen to advertisements while they wait for a customer service representative, and by pricing items in the inflation basket according to the low prices of stores that offer customers no service. The longer callers can be made to wait, the fewer the customer representatives the company needs to employ. The loss of service is not considered in the inflation measure. It shows up instead as a gain in productivity.

In American today the greatest rewards go to investment bankers, who collect fees for creating financing packages for debt. These packages include the tottering subprime mortgage derivatives. Recently, a top official of the Bank of France acknowledged that the real values of repackaged debt instruments are unknown to both buyers and sellers. Many of the derivatives have never been priced by the market.

Think of derivatives as a mutual fund of debt, a combination of good mortgages, subprime mortgages, credit card debt, auto loans, and who knows what. Not even institutional buyers know what they are buying or how to evaluate it. Arcane pricing models are used to produce values, and pay incentives bias the assigned values upward.

Richistan wealth may prove artificial and crash, bringing an end to the new Gilded Age. But the plight of the rich in distress will never compare to the decimation of America’s middle class. The offshoring of American jobs has destroyed opportunities for generations of Americans. Never before in our history has the elite had such control over the government. To run for national office requires many millions of dollars, the raising of which puts “our” elected representatives and “our” president himself Bank of France acknowledged that the real values of repackaged debt instruments at the beck and call of the few moneyed interests that financed the campaigns.

America as the land of opportunity has passed into history.

COPYRIGHT CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.

Paul Craig Roberts [email him] was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan Administration. He is the author of Supply-Side Revolution : An Insider’s Account of Policymaking in Washington;  Alienation and the Soviet Economy and Meltdown: Inside the Soviet Economy, and is the co-author with Lawrence M. Stratton of The Tyranny of Good Intentions : How Prosecutors and Bureaucrats Are Trampling the Constitution in the Name of Justice. Click here for Peter Brimelow’s Forbes Magazine interview with Roberts about the recent epidemic of prosecutorial misconduct.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

U.S. Orders Recruitment Of Over 15,000 Informants For Domestic Spying By Sorcha Faal

Dandelion Salad

By Sorcha Faal
Speaking Truth to Power
Thursday, 02 August 2007
Reported by PRAVDA

In another blow to American freedom, among many other similar blows of recent months, the American War Leader, and who is now ranked as one of the most unpopular Presidents in modern history, has issued orders for his Nation’s Internal Security Police, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to begin recruitment of over 15,000 informants to begin spying on their fellow American citizens.

According to the United States ABC Television News Service: “The FBI is taking cues from the CIA to recruit thousands of covert informants in the United States as part of a sprawling effort to boost its intelligence capabilities.

According to a recent unclassified report to Congress, the FBI expects its informants to provide secrets about possible terrorists and foreign spies, although some may also be expected to aid with criminal investigations, in the tradition of law enforcement confidential informants. The FBI did not respond to requests for comment on this story.

The FBI said the push was driven by a 2004 directive from President Bush ordering the bureau to improve its counterterrorism efforts by boosting its human intelligence capabilities.

The aggressive push for more secret informants appears to be part of a new effort to grow its intelligence and counterterrorism efforts. Other recent proposals include expanding its collection and analysis of data on U.S. persons, retaining years’ worth of Americans’ phone records and even increasing so-called “black bag” secret entry operations.

To handle the increase in so-called human sources, the FBI also plans to overhaul its database system, so it can manage records and verify the accuracy of information from “more than 15,000″ informants, according to the document.”

This news comes on the heels of the top domestic general in the United States, Air Force General Victor “Gene” Renuart, who heads U.S. Northern Command, calling for a tripling of troops on American soil to battle alleged ‘sleeper cells’, and the American President’s signing of an Executive Order outlawing all opposition to the Iraq war under threat of confiscation of all property and imprisonment for life.

This latest provocation against the citizens of the United States by its War Leaders eerily echoes the dreaded Ministry for State Security of the late East German communist government, and of which we can read:

“The Stasi influenced almost every aspect of life in the GDR. During the mid-1980s, a civilian network of informants known as the Inoffizielle Mitarbeiter (IMs, Unofficial Collaborators) began to grow within both parts of Germany, East and West.

By the time East Germany collapsed in 1989, it was estimated that 91,000 full-time employees and 300,000 informants were employed by the Stasi.

In other words, about one in fifty East Germans collaborated with the Stasi—one of the highest penetrations of any civilian society by an intelligence-gathering organization.”

To what is becoming the United States under its totalitarian fascist rulers has been noted by, perhaps, the greatest living survivor of the Soviet Russia gulag, and Nobel Prize winner, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, and who according to the Associated Press News Service stated:

“Nobel laureate Alexander Solzhenitsyn has accused the West of trying to ignore and sideline Russia and hailed President Vladimir Putin for rebuilding the country. The 88-year old author, who documented the murderous Soviet prison camp system based on his own seven-year experience as a prisoner of the gulag, said the Western criticism of Russia was often unfair, according to a sprawling interview with Der Spiegel magazine that was republished Tuesday in the Russian daily Izvestia.”

It is, also, more than interesting to note that at the very same time that the American experiment with freedom and liberty for its people have died, the exact reverse is now true in Russia, and where under President Putin’s leadership thousands of new Orthodox churches have been built around the Motherland leading to a resurgence of faith and stronger family morals in what was once a brutal communist nation.

As with all of the assaults to their freedom and liberties against them since September 11, 2001, there remains nothing but total submission by the American people themselves to the iron bars of totalitarian fascist rule swallowing them whole, leading one to wonder if, indeed, the American President has indeed been reading from the writings of the late Nazi German Dictator, Adolph Hitler, and who said:

“Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it.”

By Sorcha Faal, and as reported to her Western Subscribers

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