Journalists, bloggers are threats in terror drill (video link)

Dandelion Salad

Raw Story
Associated Press
Thursday January 31, 2008

This video is from The Associated Press, broadcast January 31, 2008.

read more | digg story

Vodpod videos no longer available. from rawstory.com posted with vodpod

h/t: soothe s..

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New analysis ‘confirms’ 1 million+ Iraq casualties by The Opinion Research Business

Dandelion Salad

Global Research, January 31, 2008
The Opinion Research Business 

Further survey work undertaken by ORB, in association with its research partner IIACSS, confirms our earlier estimate that over 1,000,000 Iraqi citizens have died as a result of the conflict which started in 2003.

Following responses to ORB’s earlier work, which was based on survey work undertaken in primarily urban locations, we have conducted almost 600 additional interviews in rural communities. By and large the results are in line with the ‘urban results’ and we now estimate that the death toll between March 2003 and August 2007 is likely to have been of the order of 1,033,000. If one takes into account the margin of error associated with survey data of this nature then the estimated range is between 946,000 and 1,120,000.

Our revised estimate – which compares to a figure of 1.2 million published in August 2007 – is based on a representative sample of 2,414 adults aged 18+. They were asked the following question:

How many members of your household, if any, have died as a result of the conflict in Iraq since 2003 (i.e. as a result of violence rather than a natural death such as old age)? Please note that I mean those who were actually living under your roof?

chart

Casualties Calculation:

Among the over 2,160 respondents who answered the question 20% said that there had been at least one death in their household as a result of the conflict which started in 2003. Within these households the average number of deaths was 1.26 people.

The last complete census in Iraq conducted in 1997 indicated a total of 4,050,597 households. Based on this our data suggests a total of 1,033,239 deaths since March 2003. Given that the statistical margin of error on a sample of approximately 2,160 people is +1.7% (for findings at or near 20%) the possible range of casualties implied by our data is:

chart

Detailed analysis (which is available on our website) indicates that over two-fifths of households in Baghdad have lost a family member, higher than in any other area of the country. Meanwhile among those willing to declare their doctrine (and for quite obvious reasons about half those interviewed prefer to simply describe themselves as Muslims) those from Sunni households (33%) were significantly more likely to say the conflict had claimed a household member. The respective figure for Shias being half that figure (16%).
Research Methodology:

  • Results based on face-to-face interviews amongst a nationally representative sample of 2,414 adults aged 18+. Interviews conducted throughout Iraq – 1,824 in urban areas and 590 around rural sampling points.
  • The survey methodology utilized multi-stage random probability sampling and covers fifteen of Iraq’s eighteen governorates. Overall 112 unique sampling points were covered – 92 in urban areas and 20 in rural locations.
  • For reasons surrounding interviewer safety Karbala and Al Anbar were not included in this research. Irbil is also excluded as the local authorities refused our fieldwork team a permit to operate. We feel that the net result of these exclusions –two areas of relatively high volatility since 2003 and one relatively stable – is that the casualty estimates reported are unlikely to overstate the actual figure.
  • The first batch of interviews was completed August 12th – 19th 2007 with the ‘rural booster’ conducted 20th – 24th September, 2007.
  • At the 95% confidence level the ‘margin of error’ on the sample who answered (2,163) is +2.1%. This figure is applicable to findings at or near 50% while for findings in the region of 20% this margin drops to +1.7%
    Full results and data tabulations are available at http://www.opinion.co.uk/newsroom
  • IIACSS (Independent Institute for Administration and Civil Society Studies) is a polling/ research company established in Iraq in 2003 and which has a network of interviewers covering all regions of the country. Further information about IIACSS and its founding director Dr. Munqith Dagher can be found within the relevant news article in the Newsroom section of ORB’s website.
  • ORB is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.

For further information please contact Allan Hyde on 020 7611 5270 or email ahyde@opinion.co.uk

The Opinion Research Business

34 Bedford Row

London

WC1R 4JH

Tel: 020 7611 5270

http://www.opinion.co.uk

www.globalresearch.ca contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available to our readers under the provisions of “fair use” in an effort to advance a better understanding of political, economic and social issues. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving it for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than “fair use” you must request permission from the copyright owner.

For media inquiries: crgeditor@yahoo.com
© Copyright The Opinion Research Business, The Opinion Research Business, 2008
The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=7950

Bombs Away Over Iraq by Tom Engelhardt

Dandelion Salad

by Tom Engelhardt
Global Research, January 31, 2008
TomDispatch – 2008-01-29

Normalizing Air War From Guernica to Arab Jabour

A Jan. 21
Los Angeles Times Iraq piece by Ned Parker and Saif Rasheed led with an inter-tribal suicide bombing at a gathering in Fallujah in which members of the pro-American Anbar Awakening Council were killed. (“Asked why one member of his Albu Issa tribe would kill another, Aftan compared it to school shootings that happen in the United States.”) Twenty-six paragraphs later, the story ended this way:

“The U.S. military also said in a statement that it had dropped 19,000 pounds of explosives on the farmland of Arab Jabour south of Baghdad. The strikes targeted buried bombs and weapons caches.

“In the last 10 days, the military has dropped nearly 100,000 pounds of explosives on the area, which has been a gateway for Sunni militants into Baghdad.”

And here’s paragraph 22 of a 34-paragraph Jan. 22 story by Stephen Farrell of the New York Times:

“The threat from buried bombs was well known before the [Arab Jabour] operation. To help clear the ground, the military had dropped nearly 100,000 pounds of bombs to destroy weapons caches and IEDs.”

Farrell led his piece with news that an American soldier had died in Arab Jabour from an IED that blew up “an MRAP, the new Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected armored vehicle that the American military is counting on to reduce casualties from roadside bombs in Iraq.”

Note that both pieces started with bombing news – in one case a suicide bombing that killed several Iraqis; in another a roadside bombing that killed an American soldier and wounded others. But the major bombing story of these last days – those 100,000 pounds of explosives that U.S. planes dropped in a small area south of Baghdad – simply dangled unexplained off the far end of the Los Angeles Times piece, while, in the New York Times, it was buried inside a single sentence.

Neither paper has (as far as I know) returned to the subject, though this is undoubtedly the most extensive use of air power in Iraq since the Bush administration’s invasion of 2003 and probably represents a genuine shifting of American military strategy in that country. Despite, a few humdrum wire service pieces, no place else in the mainstream has bothered to cover the story adequately either.

For those who know something about the history of air power, which, since World War II, has been lodged at the heart of the American Way of War, that 100,000 figure might have rung a small bell.

On April 27, 1937, in the midst of the Spanish Civil War (a prelude to World War II), the planes of the German Condor Legion attacked the ancient Basque town of Guernica. They came in waves, first carpet bombing, then dropping thermite incendiaries. It was a market day, and there may have been as many as 7,000-10,000 people, including refugees, in the town, which was largely destroyed in the ensuing fire storm. More than 1,600 people may have died there (though some estimates are lower). The Germans reputedly dropped about 50 tons or 100,000 pounds of explosives on the town. In the seven decades between those two 100,000 figures lies a sad history of our age.

Arab Jabour, the Sunni farming community about 10 miles south of the Iraqi capital that was the target of the latest 100,000-pound barrage, has recently been largely off-limits to American troops and their Iraqi allies. The American military now refers generically to all Sunni insurgents who resist them as “al-Qaeda,” so in situations like this it’s hard to tell exactly who has held this territory.

At Guernica, as in Arab Jabour 71 years later, no reporters were present when the explosives rained down. In the Spanish situation, however, four reporters in the nearby city of Bilbao, including George Steer of the Times of London, promptly rushed to the scene of destruction. Steer’s first piece for the Times (also printed in the New York Times) was headlined “The Tragedy of Guernica” and called the assault “unparalleled in military history.” (Obviously, no such claims could be made for Arab Jabour today.) Steer made clear in his report that this had been an attack on a civilian population, essentially a terror bombing.

The self-evident barbarism of the event – the first massively publicized bombing of a civilian population – caused international horror. It was news across the planet. From it came perhaps the most famous painting of the last century, Picasso’s Guernica, as well as innumerable novels, plays, poems, and other works of art.

As Ian Patterson writes in his book, Guernica and Total War:

“Many attacks since then, including the ones we have grown used to seeing in Iraq and the Middle East in recent years, have been on such a scale that Guernica’s fate seems almost insignificant by comparison. But it’s almost impossible to overestimate the outrage it caused in 1937. … Accounts of the bombing were widely printed in the American press, and provoked a great deal of anger and indignation in most quarters….”

Those last two tag-on paragraphs in the Parker and Rasheed Los Angeles Times piece tell us much about the intervening 71 years, which included the German bombing of Rotterdam and the blitz of London as well as other English cities; the Japanese bombings of Shanghai and other Chinese cities; the Allied fire-bombing of German and Japanese cities; the U.S. atomic destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki; the Cold War era of mutually assured destruction (MAD) in which two superpowers threatened to use the ultimate in airborne explosives to incinerate the planet; the massive, years-long U.S. bombing campaigns against North Korea and later North and South Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia; the American air power “victories” of Gulf War I and Afghanistan (2001); and the Bush administration’s shock-and-awe, air-and-cruise-missile assault on Baghdad in March 2003, which, though meant to “decapitate” the regime of Saddam Hussein, killed not a single Iraqi governmental or Ba’ath Party figure, only Iraqi civilians. In those seven decades, the death toll and damage caused by war – on the ground and from the air – has increasingly been delivered to civilian populations, while the United States has come to rely on its Air Force to impose its will in war.

One hundred thousand pounds of explosives delivered from the air is now, historically speaking, a relatively modest figure. During the invasion of Iraq in 2003, a single air wing from the USS Kitty Hawk, an aircraft carrier stationed in the Persian Gulf, did that sort of damage in less than a day and it was a figure that, as again last week, the military was proud to publicize without fear of international outrage or the possibility that “barbarism” might come to mind:

“From Tuesday afternoon through early Wednesday the air wing flew 69 dedicated strike missions in Basra and in and around Baghdad, involving 27 F/A-18 Hornets and 12 Tomcats. They dropped nearly 100,000 pounds of ordnance, said Lt. Brook DeWalt, Kitty Hawk public affairs officer.”

As far as we know, there were no reporters, Iraqi or Western, in Arab Jabour when the bombs fell and, Iraq being Iraq, no American reporters rushed there – in person or by satellite phone – to check out the damage. In Iraq and Afghanistan, when it comes to the mainstream media, bombing is generally only significant if it’s of the roadside or suicide variety; if, that is, the “bombs” can be produced at approximately “the cost of a pizza,” (as IEDs sometimes are), or if the vehicles delivering them are cars or simply fiendishly well-rigged human bodies. From the air, even 100,000 pounds of bombs just doesn’t have the ring of something that matters.

Some of this, of course, comes from the Pentagon’s success in creating a dismissive, sanitizing language in which to frame war from the air. “Collateral damage” stands in for the civilian dead – even though in much of modern war, the collateral damage could be considered the dead soldiers, not the ever rising percentage of civilian casualties. And death is, of course, delivered “precisely” by “precision-guided” weaponry. All this makes air war seem sterile, even virginal. Army Col. Terry Ferrell, for instance, described the air assaults in Arab Jabour in this disembodied way at a Baghdad news conference:

“The purpose of these particular strikes was to shape the battlefield and take out known threats before our ground troops move in. Our aim was to neutralize any advantage the enemy could claim with the use of IEDs and other weapons.”

Reports – often hard to assess for credibility – have nonetheless seeped out of the region indicating that there were civilian casualties, possibly significant numbers of them; that bridges and roads were “cut off” and undoubtedly damaged; that farms and farmlands were damaged or destroyed. According to Hamza Hendawi of the Associated Press, for instance, Iraqi and American troops were said to have advanced into Arab Jabour, already much damaged from years of fighting, through “smoldering citrus groves.”

But how could there not be civilian casualties and property damage? After all, the official explanation for this small-scale version of a “shock-and-awe” campaign in a tiny rural region was that American troops and allied Iraqi forces had been strangers to the area for a while, and that the air-delivered explosives were meant to damage local infrastructure – by exploding roadside bombs and destroying weapons caches or booby traps inside existing structures. As that phrase “take out known threats before our ground troops move in” made clear, this was an attempt to minimize casualties among American (and allied Iraqi) troops by bringing massive amounts of firepower to bear in a situation in which local information was guaranteed to be sketchy at best. Given such a scenario, civilians will always suffer. And this, increasingly, is likely to be the American way of war in Iraq.

The ABCs of Air War in Iraq

So let’s focus, for a moment, on American air power in Iraq and gather together a little basic information you’re otherwise not likely to find in one place. In these last years, the Pentagon has invested billions of dollars in building up an air-power infrastructure in and around Iraq. As a start, it constructed one of its largest foreign bases anywhere on the planet about 50 miles north of Baghdad. Balad Air Base has been described by Newsweek as a “15-square-mile mini-city of thousands of trailers and vehicle depots,” whose air fields handle 27,500 takeoffs and landings every month.

Reputedly “second only to London’s Heathrow Airport in traffic worldwide,” it is said to handle congestion similar to that of Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. With about 140,000 tons a year of cargo moving through it, the base is “the busiest aerial port” in the global domains of the Department of Defense.

It is also simply massive, housing about 40,000 military personnel, private contractors of various sorts, and Pentagon civilian employees. It has its own bus routes, fast-food restaurants, sidewalks, and two PXs that are the size of K-Marts. It also has its own neighborhoods including, reported the Washington Post‘s Thomas Ricks, “KBR-land” for civilian contractors and “CJSOTF” (Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force), “home to a special operations unit [that] is hidden by especially high walls.”

Radar traffic controllers at the base now commonly see “more than 550 aircraft operations in just one day.” To the tune of billions of dollars, Balad’s runways and other facilities have been, and continue to be, upgraded for years of further wear and tear. According to the military press, construction is to begin this month on a $30 million “state-of-the-art battlefield command and control system [at Balad] that will integrate air traffic management throughout Iraq.”

National Public Radio’s Defense Correspondent Guy Raz paid a visit to the base last year and termed it “a giant construction site. … [T]he sounds of construction and the hum of generators seem to follow visitors everywhere. Seen from the sky at night, the base resembles Las Vegas: While the surrounding Iraqi villages get about 10 hours of electricity a day, the lights never go out at Balad Air Base.”

This gargantuan feat of construction is designed for the military long haul. As Josh White of the Washington Post reported recently in a relatively rare (and bland) summary piece on the use of air power in Iraq, there were five times as many U.S. air strikes in 2007 as in 2006; and 2008 has, of course, started off with a literal bang from those 100,000 pounds of explosives dropped southeast of Baghdad. That poundage assumedly includes the 40,000 pounds of explosives, which got modest headlines for being delivered in a mere 10 minutes in the Arab Jabour area the previous week, but not the 16,500 pounds of explosives that White reports being used north of Baghdad in approximately the same period; nor, evidently, another 15,000 pounds of explosives dropped on Arab Jabour more recently. (And none of these numbers seem to include Marine Corps figures for Iraq, which have evidently not been released.)

Who could forget all the attention that went into the president’s surge strategy on the ground in the first half of last year? But which media outlet even noticed, until recently, what Bob Deans of Cox News Service has termed the “air surge” that accompanied those 30,000 surging troops into the Iraqi capital and environs? In that same period, air units were increasingly concentrated in and around Iraq. By mid-2007, for instance, the Associated Press was already reporting:

“[S]quadrons of attack planes have been added to the in-country fleet. The air reconnaissance arm has almost doubled since last year. The powerful B1-B bomber has been recalled to action over Iraq. … Early this year, with little fanfare, the Air Force sent a squadron of A-10 ‘Warthog’ attack planes – a dozen or more aircraft – to be based at al-Asad Air Base in western Iraq. At the same time it added a squadron of F-16C Fighting Falcons … at Balad.”

Meanwhile, in the last year, aircraft-carrier battle groups have been stationed in greater numbers in the Persian Gulf and facilities at sites near Iraq like the huge al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar continue to be upgraded.

Even these increases do not tell the whole story of the expanding air war. Lolita Baldor of the Associated Press reported recently that “the military’s reliance on unmanned aircraft that can watch, hunt and sometimes kill insurgents has soared to more than 500,000 hours in the air, largely in Iraq.” The use of such unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), including Hellfire-missile armed Predators, doubled in the first ten months of 2007 – with Predator air hours increasing from 2,000 to 4,300 in that period. The Army alone, according to Baldor, now has 361 drones in action in Iraq. The future promises much more of the same.

(American military spokespeople and administration officials have, over the years, decried Iraqi and Afghan insurgents for “hiding” behind civilian populations – in essence, accusing them of both immorality and cowardice. When such spokespeople do admit to inflicting “collateral damage” on civilian populations, they regularly blame the guerrillas for making civilians into “shields.” And all of this is regularly, dutifully reported in our press. On the other hand, no one in our world considers drone warfare in a similar context, though armed UAVs like the Predators and the newer, even more heavily armed Reapers are generally “flown” by pilots stationed at computer consoles in places like Nellis Air Force Base outside Las Vegas. It is from there that they release their missiles against “anti-Iraqi forces” or the Taliban, causing civilian deaths in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

As one American pilot, who has fired Predator missiles from Nellis, put it:

“I go from the gym and step inside Afghanistan, or Iraq. … It takes some getting used to it. At Nellis you have to remind yourself, ‘I’m not at the Nellis Air Force Base. Whatever issues I had 30 minutes ago, like talking to my bank, aren’t important anymore.'”

To American reporters, this seems neither cowardly nor in any way barbaric, just plain old normal. Those pilots are not said to be “hiding” in distant deserts or among the civilian gamblers of Caesar’s Palace.)

Anyway, here’s the simple calculus that goes with all this: Militarily, overstretched American forces simply cannot sustain the ground part of the surge for much longer. Most, if not all, of those 30,000 troops who surged into Iraq in the first half of 2007 will soon be coming home. But air power won’t be. Air Force personnel are already on short, rotating tours of duty in the region. In Vietnam back in the late 1960s and early 1970s, as ground troops were withdrawn, air power ramped up. This seems once again to be the pattern. There is every reason to believe that it represents the American future in Iraq.

From Barbarism to the Norm

The air war is simply not visible to most Americans who depend on the mainstream media. In part, this is because American reporters, who have covered every other sort of warfare in Iraq, simply refuse to look up.

It should be no surprise then that news of a future possible escalation of the air war was first raised by a journalist who had never set foot in Iraq and so couldn’t look up. In a December 2005 piece entitled “Up in the Air,” New Yorker investigative reporter Seymour Hersh suggested that “a key element of [any] drawdown plans, not mentioned in the president’s public statements, is that the departing American troops will be replaced by American airpower. … The danger, military experts have told me, is that, while the number of American casualties would decrease as ground troops are withdrawn, the over-all level of violence and the number of Iraqi fatalities would increase unless there are stringent controls over who bombs what.”

After Hersh broke his story, the silence was deafening. Only one reporter, as far as I know, has even gone up in a plane – David S. Cloud of the New York Times, who flew in a B-1 from an unnamed “Middle Eastern airfield” on a mission over Afghanistan. Thomas Ricks traveled to Balad Air Base and did a superb report on it in 2006, but no reporter seems to have bothered to hang out with American pilots, nor have the results of bombing, missile-firing, or strafing been much recorded in our press. The air war is still largely relegated to passing mentions of air raids, based on Pentagon press releases or announcements, in summary pieces on the day’s news from Iraq.

Given American military history since 1941, this is all something of a mystery. A Marine patrol rampaging through an Iraqi village can, indeed, be news; but American bombs or missiles turning part of a city into rubble or helicopter gunships riddling part of a neighborhood is, at best, tag-on, inside-the-fold material – a paragraph or two, as in this AP report on the latest fighting in an undoubtedly well-populated part of the city of Mosul:

“An officer, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information, said three civilians were wounded and helicopters had bombarded buildings in the southeastern Sumar neighborhood, which has seen frequent attacks on U.S. and Iraqi forces that have led to a series of raids.”

The predictably devastating results of helicopters “bombarding” an urban neighborhood in a major Iraqi city, if reported at all, will be treated as just the normal “collateral damage” of war as we know it. In our world, what was once the barbarism of air war, its genuine horror, has been transformed into humdrum ordinariness (if, of course, you don’t happen to be an Iraqi or an Afghan on the receiving end), the stuff of largely ignored Air Force news releases. It is as unremarkable (and as American) as apple pie, and nothing worth writing home to mom and the kids about.

Maybe then, it’s time for Seymour Hersh to take another look. Or for the online world to take up the subject. Maybe, sooner or later, American mainstream journalists in Iraq (and editors back in the U.S.) will actually look up, notice those contrails in the skies, register those “precision” bombs and missiles landing, and consider whether it really is a ho-hum, no-news period when the U.S. Air Force looses 100,000 pounds of explosives on a farming district on the edge of Baghdad. Maybe artists will once again begin pouring their outrage over the very nature of air war into works of art, at least one of which will become iconic, and travel the world reminding us just what, almost five years later, the “liberation” of Iraq has really meant for Iraqis.

In the meantime, brace yourself. Air war is on the way.

Note on Air-War Readings: The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) published a study in December 2007 on the air war in Iraq, which can be read by clicking here [.pdf]. Figures on the rising intensity of air power in that country can be found there – of a sort that the Washington Post only recently reported on. For some historical background on U.S. air power and the bombing of noncombatants, I suggest checking out Mark Selden’s “A Forgotten Holocaust.”

Those who, in these years, wanted to find out something substantive about the air war in Iraq had to look to independent sites on line. At TomDispatch, I began writing on the air war in 2004. See, for instance, “Icarus (armed with Vipers) Over Iraq“; others have taken up the subject at this site since: See Dahr Jamail’s “Living Under the Bombs“; Nick Turse’s “Bombs Over Baghdad, The Pentagon’s Secret Air War in Iraq” and “Did the U.S. Lie about Cluster Bomb Use in Iraq” (both of which involved the sort of reporting, long distance, that American journalists should have been doing in Iraq); and Michael Schwartz’s “A Formula for Slaughter: The American Rules of Engagement from the Air,” among other pieces. On the air war in Afghanistan, see my “‘Accidents of War,’ The Time Has Come for an Honest Discussion of Air Power.”

www.globalresearch.ca contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available to our readers under the provisions of “fair use” in an effort to advance a better understanding of political, economic and social issues. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving it for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than “fair use” you must request permission from the copyright owner.

For media inquiries: crgeditor@yahoo.com
© Copyright Tom Engelhardt, TomDispatch, 2008
The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=7944

Stagflation is Here by Prof. Rodrigue Tremblay

Dandelion Salad

by Prof. Rodrigue Tremblay
Global Research, January 31, 2008

War—after all, what is it that the people get? Why—widows, taxes, wooden legs and debt.

Samuel B. Pettengill

“Armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few.

James Madison, 4th U.S. President (April 20, 1795)

“Let me issue and control a nation’s currency and I care not who makes its laws”.

Nathan Rothschild, 1791

Last summer, I observed that there was a “solvency crisis” underneath the ongoing subprime mortgage liquidity squeeze. Central banks can alleviate a “liquidity crisis”, but they cannot solve a solvency crisis.

Last year also, before the events, I warned that the U.S. was heading toward stagflation.

This was due to three fundamental factors.

First, the structural fiscal imbalances of the federal budget in a period of prosperity, as a result of the Bush-Cheney administration’s continuous deficit spending linked to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and to its large tax cuts;

Second, the over-indebtedness of the overall U.S. economy coupled with an overall saving rate close to zero (in 1981, it was 12 percent), and, as a consequence, the rapidly increasing foreign debt of the U.S.; and,

Third, the required decline in the U.S. dollar to reverse and correct the deteriorating American balance of payments. The second factor was a harbinger of less consumer spending in the coming months while the third factor would stoke the fire of overall inflation. And with already high budget deficits, there would be less leeway for an aggressive fiscal policy to sustain economic activity. The table was thus set for a bout of stagflation, i.e. slow growth and rising inflation.

Now, stagflation is here. —Economic growth is slowing down, M3 money supply numbers, as a measure of overall liquidity in the economy, are in the double digits range, the yield curve has inverted and become negative (short term rates higher than longer term rates) and the U.S. dollar has become one the weakest currencies in the world. All this as American twin deficits (balance of trade and federal government budget deficits) are at record levels. —As I pointed out last year, ” A lower currency translates into more imported inflation and makes it difficult to maintain low interest rates,” even if, in due time, it will improve the trade balance. This means that, for all practical purposes, monetary policy is also severely constrained in what it can now accomplish. For all of 2007, inflation hit 4.1 percent, which is two-thirds more than in 2006 when inflation registered at 2.5 percent. Moreover, the surge in wholesale prices announces even higher inflation in the months ahead.

With inflation being on the rise and real interest rates already in negative territory, aggressive monetary stimulus would likely be counterproductive, because too low interest rates would encourage capital outflows, pushing the dollar further down, and translating into more imported inflation. On top of that, one has to remember that monetary policy shifts take at least nine to twelve months before impacting the real economy. One has also to keep in mind that the U.S. operates, more and more, in an international environment, and is less and less capable of influencing the domestic economy by manipulating one variable only, such as the interest rate.

Of course, the Fed could have played a better preventive regulatory role if it had intervened in 2003-04 to reign in the unsound banking lending practices that have led to the subprime debacle. But the milk is out of the bottle now, and nothing can erase the damage done to the housing construction sector and other parts of the economy because of this lack of oversight.

After seven years of continuous indulging, of borrowing and debt building, the U.S. federal government is also in a fiscal bind and will find it difficult to effectively counteract the slowdown in the economy. Indeed, over the last seven years, the Bush-Cheney administration has run fiscal deficits on the average of $461.29 billion each year, for a grand total of $3,229 billion of cumulative of on-budget deficits.

This makes it harder to embark upon a new round of deficit spending to stimulate the economy. For one, fiscal policy shifts have even a longer time horizon before impacting the real economy. Secondly, the coming slowdown and recession will worsen an already high federal government deficit, as government receipts decline with the rise in unemployment and the drop in income growth. On the spending side, the Iraq war, in particular, is a black hole that siphons off more than $100 billion each year, with no end in sight. Oil prices are also very high, partly because of high world demand, partly because of geopolitical instability and partly because of the lowered dollar.

After seven years of foreign policy madness and of empire building on a mountain of debt, and of public indulging and private gouging, the financial crisis and credit crunch, the plummeting dollar, the high price for oil will all contribute to the 2008 economic slowdown, which is likely to turn into a recession, during the first half of the year, if it is not already into one since last December. The downturn in the world stock markets during this month is another clear indication that something is wrong, not only with the U.S. economy, but also with the world economy.

All that would seem to be very bad news for George W. Bush’s Republicans, just as it was bad news for the Democratic Carter administration in the late ’70s. Indeed, over the last century, the U.S. economy has been in a recession four times in the early part of a presidential election year, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research. In each of those years — 1920, 1932, 1960 and 1980 — the party of the incumbent president lost the election.

Rodrigue Tremblay is professor emeritus of economics at the University of Montreal and can be reached at rodrigue.tremblay@yahoo.com

He is the author of the book ‘The New American Empire’

Visit his blog site at: www.thenewamericanempire.com/blog.

Author’s Website: www.thenewamericanempire.com/

Check Dr. Tremblay’s coming book “The Code for Global Ethics” at: www.TheCodeForGlobalEthics.com/ 

Rodrigue Tremblay is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

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A 12-Step Program to Save US Democracy by Mark Crispin Miller

Dandelion Salad

by Mark Crispin Miller
opednews.com
January 30, 2008 at 19:10:55

Certainly the outlook for democracy seems pretty bleak—and how could it be otherwise? The surest way to make a problem worse is to pretend it isn’t there, which is exactly what our press and politicians have been doing; and the rest is, unfortunately, history.

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NATO Genocide in Afghanistan By Ali Khan

Dandelion Salad

By Ali Khan
30/01/08 “ICH

Ali Khan argues that the internationally recognized crime of genocide applies to the intentional killings that NATO troops commit on a weekly basis in the poor villages and mute mountains of Afghanistan to destroy the Taliban.

Sloganeers, propagandists and politicians often use the word “genocide” in ways that the law does not permit. But rarely is the crime of genocide invoked when Western militaries murder Muslim groups. This essay argues that the internationally recognized crime of genocide applies to the intentional killings that NATO troops commit on a weekly basis in the poor villages and mute mountains of Afghanistan to destroy the Taliban, a puritanical Islamic group. NATO combat troops bombard and kill people in Taliban enclaves and meeting places. They also murder defenseless Afghan civilians. The dehumanized label of “Taliban” is used to cloak the nameless victims of NATO operations. Some political opposition to this practice is building in NATO countries, such as Canada, where calls are heard to withdraw troops from Afghanistan or divert them to non-combat tasks.

Dehumanization

In almost all NATO nations, the Taliban have been completely dehumanized — a historically-tested signal that perpetrators of the crime of genocide carry unmitigated intentions to eradicate the dehumanized group. Politicians, the armed forces, the media, and even the general public associate in the West the Taliban with irrational fanatics, intolerant fundamentalists, brutal assassins, beheaders of women, bearded extremists, and terrorists. This luminescent negativity paves the way for aggression, military operations, and genocide. Promoting the predatory doctrine of collective self-defense, killing the Taliban is celebrated as a legal virtue. To leave the Taliban in control of Afghanistan, says NATO, is to leave a haven for terrorism.

A similar dehumanization took place in the 16th and 17th centuries when NATO precursors occupied the Americas to purloin land and resources. The killings of native inhabitants were extensive and heartless. Thomas Jefferson, the noble author of the Declaration of Independence, labeled Indians as “merciless savages.” President Andrew Jackson pontificated: “What good man would prefer a country covered with forests and ranged by a few thousand savages to our extensive Republic, studded with cities, towns, and prosperous farms.” Promoting the predatory doctrine of discovery, the United States Supreme Court later ratified the pilgrims’ crimes, holding that “discovery gave an exclusive right to extinguish the Indian title (to land). ([T]he Indians were fierce savages…To leave them in possession of their country was to leave the country a wilderness.”

The predators have not changed their stripes a bit. They come, they demonize, they obliterate. They do all this in the name of superior civilization.

The Facts

The NATO website lists its killings in Afghanistan. These killings are also reported in the world media, often with a shameless tone of gratitude as if NATO forces are engaged in wiping out cannibals. In 2007 alone, NATO helicopters and precision guided munitions bombed and killed over six thousand “Taliban.” Read the following recent attacks, which the NATO itself reports, and smell the scent of genocide:

• On January 19, 2008, NATO launched a preemptive strike relying on “credible intelligence” that the Taliban were planning to mass on a NATO base. The attack killed two dozen “insurgents” in the Watapoor District of Kunar Province, though the exact number of casualties could not be confirmed because of the rough mountainous region. The world media reported that numerous civilians were killed and 25 bodies were buried in just one mass grave.

• On January 12, 2008, NATO forces conducted what it calls a “precise strike” on a compound in Kapsia Province targeting Taliban leaders. NATO claimed that the civilians were cleared from the compound before the attack. The claim is absurd because any removal of civilians from the compound would have alerted the battle-hardened Taliban that an enemy attack was imminent.

• On September 20, 2007, NATO forces launched “Operation Palk Wahel” to kill and remove the Taliban from an area in the Upper Gereshk Valley. Numerous civilians were killed. The evidence of the genocide was so obvious that NATO admitted that it “was unaware of civilians in the vicinity of the target and unfortunately it appears that a number of non-combatants were caught in the attack and killed.”

The Law

The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (entered into force, 1951) is binding on all states including the 26 member states of NATO. The Genocide Convention is jus cogens, the law from which no derogation is allowed. It provides no exceptions for any nation or any organization of nations, such as the United Nations or NATO, to commit genocide. Nor does the Convention allow any exceptions to genocide “whether committed in time of peace or in time of war.” Even traditional self-defense – let alone preemptive self-defense, a deceptive name for aggression – cannot be invoked to justify or excuse the crime of genocide.

In murdering the Taliban, NATO armed forces systematically practice on a continual basis the crime of genocide that consists of three constituent elements – act, intent to destroy, and religious group. The crime, as defined in the Convention, is analyzed below:

1. Act. The Convention lists five acts, each of which qualifies as genocide. NATO forces in Afghanistan are committing three of the five acts. They are killing members of the Taliban. They are causing serious bodily harm to members of the Taliban. They are deliberately inflicting on the Taliban conditions of life calculated to bring about their physical destruction in whole or in part. Any of these three acts committed one time constitutes the crime of genocide. NATO combat troops have been committing, and continue to commit, these acts through multiple means and weapons.

2. Intent to Destroy. The crime of genocide is a crime of intent. It must be shown that NATO combat troops and the high command ordering these troops carry the requisite intent to destroy the Taliban. Mere negligent killings do not qualify as genocide. The statements of NATO’s Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer and those of NATO spokesmen leave no doubt that the NATO conducts military operations to “hunt and destroy” the Taliban. Preemptive strikes to kill the Taliban are sufficient proof that NATO troops and commanding generals have specific intent to destroy as many Taliban members as they can find. The weekly murderous planning and intelligence gathering to locate and eliminate the Taliban leaders and members further demonstrate that the killings in Afghanistan are not negligent, accidental, or by mistake. For all legal purposes, NATO’s incessant and deliberate killings of the Taliban are powered with the specific intent to destroy a religious group.

3. Religious Group. The Genocide Convention is far from universal in that it does not protect all groups from genocide. Its protection covers only four groups: national, ethnic, racial and religious. (Political groups are not protected). The Convention does not require the complete eradication of a protected group as a necessary condition for the crime of genocide. Even part destruction of a protected group constitutes the crime. It is no secret that the Taliban are a religious group. (They may also qualify as a national (Afghan) or ethnic (Pushtun) group). The Taliban advocate and practice a puritanical version of Islam. The Convention does not demand that the protected group advocate and practice a form of religion acceptable to the West or the world. The questionable beliefs and practices of a religious group are no reasons to destroy the group. That the Taliban are armed or support terrorism or oppress women are unlawful excuses to commit genocide. (All reasons that Hitler had to murder Jews would be simply irrelevant under the Convention).

The Holding

It may, therefore, be safely concluded that NATO combat troops and NATO commanders are engaged in murdering the Taliban, a protected group under the Genocide Convention, with the specific intent to physically and mentally destroy the group in whole or in part. This is the crime of genocide.

Ali Khan is a professor at Washburn University School of Law in Kansas. This essay is previously published in JURIST

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West Will Never Beat Taliban

The world crisis of capitalism & the prospects for socialism Part 1 By Nick Beams

Dandelion Salad

By Nick Beams
wsws.org
31 January 2008

Below we are publishing the first part of the opening report given by Nick Beams to an international school held by the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI) and the International Students for Social Equality (ISSE) in Sydney, Australia from January 21 to January 25. Beams is a member of the international editorial board of the World Socialist Web Site and the national secretary of the Socialist Equality Party of Australia.

The second part of the report will be posted on February 1. Part 2

At our school ten years ago, held on the eve of the launching of the World Socialist Web Site, we spent some time examining the implications of the so-called Asian financial crisis which had erupted the previous July.

In delivering a report on this crisis, I said it was somewhat difficult because we were confronting a moving target. Today, I have the feeling of déjà vu in the midst of what is undoubtedly a deepening crisis of American and world capitalism.

When the Asian crisis erupted, we explained that it was not so much an Asian crisis as a crisis of world capitalism which had manifested itself in Asia. Today, we are confronted not simply with the crisis of American capitalism, but a world crisis which has erupted in the United States.

Every day brings further news of losses by the major finance houses—Merrill Lynch has just suffered write-offs of $16.7 billion—and warnings that more are to come. Citigroup has just announced its biggest loss in its 196-year history—$9.83 billion for the last quarter—after writing down the value of subprime mortgage investments by $18 billion.

Major financial institutions are scrambling to ensure large injections of cash from anywhere they can find them—Merrill Lynch and Citigroup alone are trying to raise $21 billion from funds in Singapore and Saudi Arabia.

Each day brings new announcements. The Economist of January 18, under the headline “All Fall Down?”, reported on the developing crisis within the bond insurance market. It wrote:

“America’s big bond insurers, which have underwritten some $2.4 trillion of private and public-sector bonds, usually go about their business largely unnoticed. But now they are looking distinctly wobbly they have started to attract attention. If one or more of them were to topple over, there will be a huge knock-on effect on banks and other financial institutions that rely on their guarantees. This in turn will further worsen the credit crunch and cause an even bigger headache for policymakers already grappling with a sharp slowdown in the American economy.

“The threat of such a financial domino effect looms large. Moody’s, a credit-rating agency, has signalled that it might downgrade the AAA ratings of two of the biggest bond insurers, MBIA and Ambac, in the near future.”

…continued


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. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Olbermann: Broken Govt + & Then There Were 2 + Endorsemental + Bushed + Worst

Dandelion Salad

Ryokibin

Jan. 30, 2008

Broken Government

Keith talks with John Dean.

CSI: Rudy’s Run

Keith talks with Dana Milbank.

And Then There Were Two…

Keith talks with E.J. Dionne.

Endorsemental 

Keith talks with Craig Crawford.

Bushed! 

Perpetuity-Gate

Gonzo-Gate

Terry Gilliam-Gate

World’s Worst 

Worse: Town Of Davie Florida

Worser: Rush Limbaugh

Worst: Dick Morris

Ron Paul’s replies CA debate 01.30.08

Dandelion Salad

researchris2

Want to let CNN know how you feel about Ron Paul being ignored @ this debate? Contact them @ any of the links below…
…..’Anderson Cooper 360′
http://www.cnn.com/feedback/forms/for…
…..’The Situation Room’
http://www.cnn.com/feedback/forms/for…
…..’American Morning’
http://www.cnn.com/feedback/forms/for…
…..’CNN Newsroom’
http://www.cnn.com/feedback/forms/for…
…..’Lou Dobbs Tonight’
http://www.cnn.com/feedback/forms/for…

***

reagan and ron paul

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Much Ado About Ron Paul by Grim

Paul-Ron