The Stealing Of America – The Unethics Of America’s New Undemocracy

Dandelion Salad

by Mickey Walker
TPJ
Aug 3, 2008

We used to ponder the great questions of man.  We are no strangers to the eternal debate of right and wrong as applies to humankind, to our very selves, our neighbors, to our very world we live in.  We studied and debated the merits of John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) and his Utilitarianism approach to great questions of ethics, e.g., is the greatest good for the greatest number of people, right?  Do the moral ethics of us all demand that we hold true to a few certain beliefs, namely the ones that promote the highest welfare and protection for the greatest number of us who coexist in a democratic society?  Or (perish the thought) shall we continue to sell out to dark forces disguised as patriots who would destroy America and continue to shatter our rights as free people for their own greed and gain?

Our forefathers who authored the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution understood the dear importance of these concepts well.  Somehow they knew and anticipated the usurping of the rights of the common man by the few who possessed power and money and who had no intention of sharing their earth’s bounties with their fellow man.  To them, the chattel of the masses, the greatest number among us, the common people of America, were liabilities.  Our Forefathers anticipated this peril and seeded the Constitution with firewall laws to help fend against this stealing of America.

Today, much money and effort is spent on demonizing the poor, or at best, just disregarding them, as though they do not exist.  See, the poor, the middle class, the working man in America, though he be part of the greatest number, is a tax burden, a liability to the rich and more fortunate.  They who would paint such an unattractive picture see the masses as a tax liability that robs their own pockets.  If it weren’t for them, they pontificate, we (the upper crust) would have more money to spend.  Privileged and arrogant, they resent paying taxes that might help educate a carpenter’s son, and they make fun of the poor, the working man, as a class.  Mockingly, those who protest the poor and the government programs that help them, say things such as, “Government was not meant to help the poor from cradle to grave.”  They try to shame the poor for even drawing upon government assisted programs passed into law by Congress.

But hold on.  The language in the Declaration of Independence is clear:  “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”  Such pure language!  Let no man try to alienate them from us.  Made me feel good when I first heard them as a kid, and I knew that our Founding Fathers cared about us with all the fiber they possessed.  Unalienable rights are rights which cannot be sold, bartered, or taken away.  Yet many specific instances of our unalienable rights granted us under the Constitution have been stolen away while we watched trustingly as our government betrayed us.  And the destroyers gave us new language as pabulum as to why it was best for us to give up many of our basic freedoms as Americans.  They told us that the greater good was the ability to fight terrorists so that they would not kill us.  And no one questioned them as they decimated America and unhinged our sacred laws granted all Americans under the Bill of Rights in the Constitution.  So where is bin Laden?

The language of the Neocons (the ones who destroyed our laws) is also clear.  Many Neocon talking points lulled us to sleep while they burned democracy slap up.  They argued the virtues of torture and trashed our treaty the USA signed under the Geneva Convention which banned torture.  See, the Geneva Convention, along with the Red Cross defines torture for what it really is, while President Bush argues the point.  He maintains (and got his Attorney General to back him up) that water-boarding, one of our favorite methods at Guantanamo, Cuba, is not torture.  Do tell.  The Red Cross does not agree.  In fact the Red Cross, devoted to helping the broken, wounded, and downtrodden, sternly holds us liable for our actions, and says some of our leaders who condone and direct torture, could be tried as war criminals.

Guantanamo is a unique place.  It exists above the law where Neocons argues that some humans are more equal than other humans.  Habeas Corpus does not exist there.  Neither does a trial by a jury of your peers.  You see, if you are branded to be an enemy combatant, you have no rights, the Neocons say, under the law or the Geneva Convention.  They won’t even tell you why you are being imprisoned.  Hmmmmm.  So Torture doesn’t apply in this case, get it?  Is this really who we have become?  Really?

Abu Ghraib was an eyeful for the world to see the United States in all its glory as bringers of democracy to Iraq.  Hooded prisoners with electrical wires attached to private parts seemed like torture, alright yet in the predictable doublespeak monologue of Bush, he says, “We do not torture.”  Think the world believes him?  Do you?  Moreover, do you care?  If the masses of Iraqis are all truly evil, that’s one thing, but are they?  Are they really?  And if we think it’s okay to torture them for a higher good, then what is the good?  Does it make us better Americans?  Do we not get a twinge of shame deep within us, knowing that women, children, and millions of Iraqi innocents are caught in the crossfire of George Bush’s private war, and that “It is better to fight them over there so we don’t have to fight them here at home?”  I cannot imagine Iraqis giving a camel turd enough to come over here and attack us at home.  I think they are weary of having us occupy and shoot up their country and wish us gone so that they can get back to their business of government ruled by an elected Shia majority.  Didn’t we bring free elections and majority rule to Iraq?  So why we still hanging around? With al Sadar’s help, Iraqis can damn sure snuff out al Qaeda.

A friend asked me the other day why you never hear much about the Iraqi casualties on the news.  “I don’t know.”  I told him.  “Perhaps it’s because we have been brainwashed into believing that Iraqis are expendable, second-class, Muslims who we have cast as synonymous with terrorists and not worthy of much news coverage.”  Christ.  Are we that stupidly callous?  Do we not remember whose country we are occupying?  Have we become the new Crusaders who would plunder the oil like the Christian Crusaders plundered the gold while killing Muslims who occupied the Holy Land?  Are Iraqis and their continued plight, filed in the darkest parts of our mind, an incidental reality to watching the “Simpsons” and football?

The greatest good for the greatest number.  That would be the vast majority of Americans who work for a living, right?  So why would it be in our best interest for the president to break the law, wiretap us without a lawful court order, and say it was for our own best interest?  Really?  He illegally wiretapped over one MILLION Americans on that bum premise, that lie with a hidden agenda, so that he could get the goods on his enemies without giving the FISA Courts or anybody else a record of who he wiretapped. And the phone companies who enabled Bush to break the law should have had their feet held to the fire instead of getting immunity.  In washing away the sins of Bush and the phone companies for wiretapping all of us, how has the greatest good of the greatest number of Americans been served?

How about the 2 Trillion dollars in tax cuts for the less than 1 per cent of Americans Bush calls his “Have Mores?”   How does that serve the greatest good for the greatest number?   Is the greatest number served by recent legislation mandating that the credit card companies send a record to the IRS of all our purchases?  I mean, do we really need more government surveillance?  Is that the meaning of getting government off the backs of the people, a talking point of past Republican administrations before the Neocons took over and donned the lamb’s clothing?  Wouldn’t the greatest number be served better if we all could get affordable healthcare for our children?  Instead of having the head Neocon, GW Bush, veto the recent bill that would have given children more and better access to healthcare services?

Does our continued presence and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan help the greatest number of Americans?  Has that ongoing travesty helped prices at the pump?  Has the draining of our Treasury to pay off-budget costs of these wars helped the greatest numbers of Americans by securing the solvency of Medicare and Social Security benefits?  Or has this cavalier, in broad daylight, destruction of the Treasury and the US dollar hastened the destruction of the funding for these two government programs that do, indeed, serve the greatest good for the greatest number of Americans?  Today is August 1, 2008, and NBC News reported that 3.7 million American jobs had been reduced to part time positions with loss of many benefits.  Also that 500,000 year-to-date jobs had been lost.  Looks like nobody cares about the greatest good for the greatest number of Americans anymore.

These are new waters.  I know many of us feel like we are up shit creek without a paddle.  What do we do next?  One thing is for certain.  If we seek to be truly accountable ourselves we must demand that our elected officials be accountable.  Those who vote to continue to fund illegal and immoral wars of continued occupation need to be voted out of office, short and sweet.  Those who dared to try to change our form of government and to tamper with the unalienable rights of the people, need to be Impeached and punished under the law.  And those congressmen who think it is an option to NOT follow the Constitution on impeachment directives (when, where, and how) need to be held accountable for dereliction of duty.  And kicked out.  If we don’t do this, we have no law.

We must dedicate ourselves to remember Polonius’ advice to his son, “This above all else, to thine own self be true.”  And knock it off with the notion of debating whether water boarding is torture or not.  It is.  And we know it.  We must confront and challenge.  We are the greatest number.  We rule.  We must never shrink back again from those who are in the small minority who try to tell us how to think and how to vote.  We need no advice.  We know a crook when we see one.  And we are going to take back America again, where the greatest number rules, and holds at bay those with money who would buy our freedom and exchange it for empty peanut hulls of a once great nation.  Unalienable rights, remember, are those which cannot be bought, sold, or traded.  They belong to all men, to every member of the giant majority of Americans who believe government exists for the people.  They belong to all of us.  Not the elite who would steal them from us and stoop to telling us that it is for our own good.

Is Washington Intent on Sabotaging the Beijing Olympics?

Dandelion Salad

Note: video is no longer available.

by Michel Chossudovsky
Global Research, August 3, 2008

Pre-Olympics PsyOp creates Atmosphere of Fear and Insecurity

In the weeks leading up to the Beijing Olympics, an atmosphere of fear and insecurity is unfolding.

China has not only been targeted for its alleged human rights violations, a China based Islamic terrorist organization has announced that it is planning to “create havoc” at the outset of the Olympics.

According to media reports, the Turkestan Islamic Party (TIP) has claimed responsibility for several pre-Olympic terror attacks including the July 21 bombing of three buses in Kunming, capital of Yunnan , which killed two and left 13 injured, as well as a similar Shanghai bus bombing in May. The TIP also claimed responsibility for an attack  in Wenzhou on July 17 using an explosives-laden tractor and the bombing of a Guangzhou plastics factory on July 17 (Sydney Morning Herald, 27 July 2008).

The leader of the Turkestan Islamic Party (TIP) Commander Seyfullah in a mysterious video broadcast warned both athletes and spectators that it is planning to carry out simultaneous attacks in several highly populated urban areas, with a view to ultimately sabotaging the Olympic games:

“Through this blessed jihad in Yunnan this time, the Turkestan Islamic Party warns China one more time. Our aim is to target the most critical points related to the Olympics.

We will try to attack Chinese central cities severely using the tactics that have never been employed. We warn China and the international community for the last time that those spectators, athletes, particularly the Muslims, who are planning to attend the Olympics, please change your intention from going to China. Please do not stand together with the faithless people. The Turkistan Islamic Party volunteers will conduct violent military actions against individuals, departments, venues, and activities that are related to the Olympics in China.” (Transcript of alleged Statement of Commander Seyfullah, released to the media by IntelCenter, Washington, 23 July 2008 http://www.intelcenter.com/)

The authenticity of the video is dubious, the timing of its release following the Kunming bombings barely two weeks prior to the Olympics is suspicious.  The mystery video was made available to the Western and Chinese media by IntelCenter, a private Washington based Intel company on contract to US intelligence and the Pentagon. How, from whom and when it was obtained has not been revealed.

The video contains a carefully crafted narrative. It sends a clear-cut message with evocative images. Keep away from the Olympic games. It starts with the Beijing’s Olympic logo going up in flames as a rocket hits an Olympic venue. (See Toronto Star, August 1, 2008)

Who is behind the Turkestan Islamic Party?

According to Stratfor, a US based think tank on intelligence issues, the Turkestan Islamic Party (TIP) which claimed responsibility for the pre-Olympic terror attacks belongs to the broader East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), based in the Xinjiang-Uygur autonomous region.

The ETIM is known to be covertly supported  by Pakistan Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), acting in close coordination with the CIA. The role of Pakistan’s ISI in supporting the Islamist Uygur insurgencies goes back to the mid-1990s. According to Yossef Bodansky in a 2000 Defense & Foreign Affairs’ Strategic Policy report:

“The Pakistani terrorism-sponsoring activities along the Silk Road were the primary instrument of Islamabad’s regional strategy. The ISI -sponsored insurgency and terrorism along the western gateways to the PRC were strategic developments with grave ramifications.”

The historical relationship between Pakistan’s military intelligence (ISI) and the CIA is amply documented.  In the course of the 1980s, the Covert Action Division of the ISI was used by the CIA to recruit and train the Mujahideen, who were sent to Afghanistan to fight Soviet troops.

In the post Cold war era, this CIA-ISI relationship remained largely intact. The ISI continued to be used by Washington to channel covert support to various Islamic fundamentalist movements, including Al Qaeda, involved in false flag terror attacks. (Michel Chossudovsky, America’s War on Terrorism, Global Research, Montreal, 2005). The ISI as an intelligence body has played a key covert role in America’s “war on terrorism”, by sustaining an abetting these terrorist organizations and by sustaining the illusion of an outside enemy.

In China, covert support to the Uygur insurgency largely served the purpose of creating political instability. In Xinjiang-Uigur, Pakistani intelligence (ISI), acting in liaison with the CIA, supports several Islamist organizations including the Islamic Reformist Party, the East Turkestan National Unity Alliance, the Uigur Liberation Organization and the Central Asian Uigur Jihad Party. Several of these Islamic organizations have received support and training from Al Qaeda, which is a US sponsored intelligence asset. The declared objective of these Chinese-based Islamic organizations is the “establishment of an Islamic caliphate in the region” (Michel Chossudovsky, op cit, Chapter 2).

The “caliphate project” which is supported covertly by US-Pakistani intelligence encroaches upon Chinese territorial sovereignty. Supported by various Wahabi “foundations” from the Gulf States, secessionism on China’s Western frontier is consistent with U.S. strategic interests in Central Asia.

By tacitly promoting the secession of the Xinjiang-Uigur region (using Pakistan’s ISI as a “go-between”), Washington is attempting to trigger a broader process of political destabilization and fracturing of the People’s Republic of China.

“China reportedly said that East Turkestan (Uyghur) Islamic terrorists [are] operating on Pakistan’s soil and trained in special camps in its territory. This is the first time Beijing administration charged Pakistan for harboring anti-China elements in its soil. The revelation came in a court document in the trial of jailed Canadian [Celil] in which it was mentioned that Celil joined the East Turkistan Liberation Organisation (ETLO) way back in 1997 and acted as a senior instructor in Kyrgyzstan. As per the document, Celil allegedly recruited people and sent them to various training camps on the Pamir Plateau in Pakistan territory. ETLO’s prime objective is to carve an independent East Turkestan by uniting parts of China and Kyrgyzstan.” (B. Raman, US & Terrorism in Xinjiang, South Asian Analysis, 2002 http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/papers5/paper499.html )

map

The TIP which has claimed responsibility for several pre-Olympic terror attacks belongs to the broader ETIM which is supported covertly by Pakistan’s ISI.

The role of Pakistan’s ISI in Xinjiang-Uygur is known to Chinese intelligence. According to a 2002 report, Beijing accused Islamabad of training East Turkestan Islamic operatives on the Pamir plateau inside Pakistan, bordering on the Southern tip of Xinjiang-Uygur region (see map).

For political reasons, however, the issue of  ISI-CIA involvement has been carefully avoided. In the weeks leading up to the Olympics, the Chinese authorities are anxious to avoid controversy. The issue of foreign support to the East Turkestan Islamic Movement is unmentionable.

Sabotage or Disruption of the Olympics?

The Western media quoting the mystery video as well as Chinese officials, in chorus, are asserting that Muslim terrorists will attack the Olympics.

The message in the videotape released by IntelCenter is unequivocal:  Turkestan Islamic Party (TIP) Commander Seyfullah, “warned athletes and spectators ‘particularly the Muslims’ to stay away from the Olympics.” (quoted by Associated Press, August 1, 2008)

An atmosphere of fear and insecurity has been created, quite deliberately, which could potentially undermine the Olympic Games.

Are these terror warnings and attacks, not to mention to the mysterious video, part of a US sponsored PsyOp which is being applied to discredit the Chinese leadership and/or sabotage the Olympics?

How reliable is the videotape? What is the credibility of IntelCenter? Neither the Western nor the Chinese media has investigated the matter.

IntelCenter, the private Intel company on contract to US intelligence happens to be the same Washington outfit which released, also in a timely fashion, several mysterious Al Qaeda related videotapes including the 11 September 2007 video of Osama bin Laden as well as an April 2006 video featuring Al Qaeda’s Number Two Man Ayman al-Zawahiri.

IntelCenter describes “the collection, exploitation, analysis and dissemination of terrorist and rebel group video materials” as one of its  “core competencies”. InteCenter’  “primary client base is comprised of military, law enforcement and intelligence agencies in the US and other allied countries around the world.” (http://www.intelcenter.com/aboutus.html)

How IntelCenter actually obtained these various videotapes including the latest pre-Olympic Seyfullah Turkestan Islamic Party (TIP) video, remains to be established.

At an August 1st press briefing, Sen. Colonel Tian Yixiang of the Olympics security command told reporters that the biggest threat to security comes from “the East Turkestan terrorist organization” meaning the ETIM based in the Xinjiang-Uygur autonomous region.

What the Chinese official failed to mention is that there is evidence that these terrorist organizations have over the years been covertly supported by Pakistani intelligence, operating on behalf of Washington.

© Copyright Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, 2008

The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=9735

Journalists, their lying sources, and the anthrax investigation

Dandelion Salad

by Glenn Greenwald
Salon
Sunday Aug. 3, 2008

(updated below – Update II – Update III)

The death of government scientist Bruce Ivins has generated far more questions about the anthrax attacks than it has answered. I want to return to the role the establishment media played in obfuscating the anthrax investigation for so long and, at times, aiding in what was clearly the deliberate deceit on the part of Government sources. This is yet another case where the establishment media possesses — yet steadfastly conceals — some of the most critical facts about what the Government has done, and insists on protecting the wrongdoers. Obtaining these answers from these media outlets is as important as obtaining them from the Government. Writing about ABC’s dissemination of the false Iraq/anthrax story, The New Republic‘s Dayo Olopade wrote yesterday: “Pressure on ABC to out their sources should be swift and sustained.”

The Washington Monthly‘s Kevin Drum argued yesterday that despite the need for journalists to use confidential sources, “the profession — and the rest of us — [are] better off if sources know that they run the risk of being unmasked if their mendacity is egregious enough to become newsworthy in its own right.” Drum added: “I’d say that part of [Ross’] re-reporting ought to include a full explanation of exactly who was peddling the bentonite lie in the first place, and why they were doing it.” Nonetheless, Drum said: “In practice, most journalists refuse to identify their sources under any circumstances at all, even when it’s clear that those sources deliberately lied to them.”

…continued

see

Vital unresolved anthrax questions and ABC News by Glenn Greenwald + McCain video

Countdown: Anthrax Attacks Inside Job? + The Long Road + Wal-Mart

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.

A Vote For Military Force Against Iran? AIPAC’s House Resolution, H. Con. Res. 362

Dandelion Salad

by Ira Glunts
Thursday Jul 31st, 2008

Despite the expectation of easy passage, AIPAC’s controversial resolution is stalled in committee. The efforts of antiwar groups who mobilized messages of protest proved fruitful, but the debate over the use of military force in Iran is just beginning.

Ordinarily, the American Israel Policy Action Committee (AIPAC) has an influence on U.S. foreign policy way which goes unchallenged. In the case of the current House resolution, H. Con. Res. 362, despite the intense pressure exerted by AIPAC, some members of the United States House of Representatives who initially were about to rubber stamp this reckless non-binding resolution promoted by the powerful pro-Israel lobbying group, are having a change of heart. After receiving many thousands of messages which pointed out that the resolution could be interpreted as Congressional authorization for military action against Iran, legislators began expressing their own reservations.

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Iran always ready for dialogue

Dandelion Salad

Press TV
Sun, 03 Aug 2008

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says Tehran is always ready to hold negotiations on various issues, including its nuclear program.

“We are serious about holding talks. We seek negotiations based on legal principles leading to practical outcomes,” Ahmadinejad said Sunday in a joint press conference with his visiting Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad.

…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.

see

Americans protest war with Iran (video link)

To Provoke War: Cheney Considered Proposal To Dress Up Navy Seals As Iranians & Shoot At Them +Worst Person

Bush must be stopped before starting war with Iran

The NYT: Making Nuclear Extermination Respectable

If Iran is Attacking It Might Really be Israel By Philip Giraldi

Plain Facts About Iran’s Military By Eric Margolis

Iran

Americans protest war with Iran (video link)

Dandelion Salad

Any Amerikan corporate media cover the protests?  Just curious.  ~ Lo

by Jihan Hafiz
http://www.campaigniran.org/casmii
(source: Press TV)

Sunday, August 3, 2008

On a US national day of protest against any military attack on Iran, tens of thousands marched on Saturday 2 August across America and Canada against the Bush Administration. View a video of the protestors in DC here.

Video link

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.

see

To Provoke War: Cheney Considered Proposal To Dress Up Navy Seals As Iranians & Shoot At Them + Worst Person

Bush must be stopped before starting war with Iran

The NYT: Making Nuclear Extermination Respectable

If Iran is Attacking It Might Really be Israel By Philip Giraldi

Plain Facts About Iran’s Military By Eric Margolis

Iran

Biometric database to be formed in Israel

Dandelion Salad

by Attila Somfalvi
http://www.ynetnews.com
08.03.08

Government approves bill calling for creation of database of all Israeli citizens. Data to include fingerprints, computerized facial features embedded on IDs, passports

The government approved Sunday a motion calling for the establishment of a biometric database by the Ministry of Interior and the Public Security Ministry.

The motion, dubbed the “identification card, travel papers and biometrics database bill,” will now be referred back to the various Knesset committees, which would ready it for its Knesset votes.

…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.

see

Bush Executive Order Expands Data Collection – Will Share Data with “Foreign Partners”

“Big Brother” Presidential Directive: “Biometrics for Identification & Screening to Enhance National Security”

Bush pushes biometrics for national security + NSPD-59 & HSPD-24

Solar Hydrogen Home + MIT Announces Major Breakthrough In Solar Energy Storage

Dandelion Salad

video replaced January 27, 2019

Largest Dams on Apr 18, 2018

The Hydrogen House is North America’s first regulation-approved solar-hydrogen powered residence. The home was developed by Mike Strizki with a grant from the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities. The solar hydrogen system was completed in 2006 and has since received international acclaim.

Continue reading

Private Spies: The Secret World of Intelligence Outsourcing

Dandelion Salad

by Tom Burghardt
Global Research, August 2, 2008
Antifascist Calling…

CACI Grabs Scottish Census Contract, Ignites Political Firestorm Over Torture Allegations

Glasgow’s Sunday Herald reported July 27 that a British subsidiary of CACI International was awarded an £18.5 million ($36.6) contract by the Scottish government to carry out the country’s next census. The announcement ignited a political firestorm.

Leading human rights and antiwar organizations have condemned the deal and threatened the Scottish National Party (SNP) government with a mass boycott should the agreement stand.

On June 30, the Center for Constitutional Rights and other law firms filed a series of civil lawsuits against CACI International, Inc., CACI Premier Technology and L-3 Services Inc., a division of L-3 Communications over allegations of torture at Iraq’s infamous Abu Ghraib prison. AFC has previously reported on these landmark cases, see: “Abu Ghraib Torture Claims Spook CACI, L-3 Communications.”

Sunday Herald investigations editor Neil Mackay writes,

Granting CACI (UK) — a subsidiary of the firm accused of torture — the £18.5 million contract has not only badly wounded the SNP government’s claims of being more ethical than Labour and putting human rights at the top of its agenda, but has also led to fears personal data on millions of Scots collected by the company might be sifted by the US government given the close relationship between the Bush administration and the CACI head office in Arlington, Virginia. (“Scottish Government Hires Firm Accused of Torture in Iraq,” Sunday Herald, 27 July 2008)

As strategic partners in Washington’s “global war on terror,” private corporations, particularly those in the defense and burgeoning “homeland security” industries, have been incorporated into the state’s intelligence apparatus–with little or no accountability and even less oversight.

Human rights’ lawyer John Scott told Mackay, “The government is opening itself up to significant and justified protest. Ordinary members of the public could refuse to have anything to do with the census. A boycott is something to be considered. It would be a legitimate step. We cannot ignore our principles.”

As outrage grows over the deal, The Stop the War Coalition, a UK-wide organization that has mobilized mass opposition to the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq, launched a petition drive against the contract. The SWC petition states “awarding millions of taxpayers’ money to a subsidiary of a firm that has benefited from a contract at Abu Ghraib, profiting from an illegal and immoral occupation, is contrary to the views of the majority of the Scottish public.”

Aamer Anwar, a prominent human rights attorney with the organization Scotland Against Criminalising Communities told the Sunday Herald, “the US government doesn’t give a damn about people’s rights, it’ll gather data in any way possible how can we be sure that the census information will not be handed over to the US government in the interests of homeland security?”

Private Spies: A Cautionary Tale

Anwar’s concerns are indeed justified. In May, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported on the case of Col. Larry Richards, a Marine reservist stationed at Camp Pendleton. According to investigative journalist Rick Rogers, Richards, a group of fellow Marines and law enforcement officers, including the cofounder of the Los Angeles County Terrorist Early Warning Center (LACTEW), stole secret files from the Strategic Technical Operations Center.

While Col. Richards and the other conspirators described below had no relationship to CACI or its web of worldwide affiliates their case however, is illustrative of the inherent dangers of employing private corporations with ties to the military-industrial-surveillance complex to perform sensitive public functions.

Created in 1996, the LACTEW has been described by the FBI and the Office of National Intelligence as “a model for others to emulate,” according to the ACLU. The LACTEW has since “evolved” into the the Joint Regional Intelligence Center (JRIC) in Los Angeles. When not on active duty, Richards worked as a “top specialist” at LACTEW, according to the Union-Tribune.

But when he was working at Camp Pendleton, Richards’ private spy ring stole hundreds of classified files, including those marked “Top Secret, Special Compartmentalized Information,” the highest U.S. Government classification. The files included surveillance dossiers on the Muslim community and antiwar activists in Southern California.

Members of the ring included a Marine Gunnery Sgt., Gary Maziarz, who was given access to Richards’ “logon and password to access confidential computer accounts on the Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System and Secret Internet Protocol Router Network,” while Richards was deployed to Iraq, the Union-Tribune reported.

Another conspirator was Lauren Martin, an intelligence analyst at U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM) headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colorado. NORTHCOM manages information about potential terrorism operations nationwide, and “Martin was responsible for the region that included Southern California, Maziarz testified” during his court martial.

While the private spies claimed they were acting on “patriotic motives” and were seeking to “minimize the threat of a terrorist attack,” Richards and the others, Rogers reported, “shared anti-terrorism intelligence with defense contractors in exchange for future employment.”

Among the firms being “scrutinized” for possible links to the ultranationalist spy ring are Kroll Associates, described as “a risk-management firm,” and MPRI International Group, a “private military contractor” owned by L-3 Communications, a codefendant in the CCR lawsuit. According to Richards’ account to investigators, MPRI allegedly offered him “$300,000 to work in Afghanistan,” the Union-Tribune reported.

Rogers reported that Kroll’s clients included the city of San Diego and that some of its employees have had ties to the Los Angeles County Terrorist Early Warning Center. MPRI denied that Richards ever worked for the firm. Kroll refused to comment on the allegations to the Union-Tribune.

As the American Civil Liberties Union documents in their update on the groups’ November 2007 report on Fusion Centers, which LACTEW served as a “model,”

In the six months since our report, new press accounts have borne out many of our warnings. In just that short time, news accounts have reported overzealous intelligence gathering, the expansion of uncontrolled access to data on innocent people, hostility to open government laws, abusive entanglements between security agencies and the private sector, and lax protections for personally identifiable information. (Mike German and Jay Stanley, “Fusion Center Update,” ACLU, July 29, 2008)

While there was no CACI involvement in the scandal, the question must still be asked: will the “abusive entanglements between security agencies and the private sector” be replicated in Scotland?

Considering the breathtaking reach of the Official Secrets Act and the shocking abuses perpetrated by British intelligence agencies against their own citizens, many of which have been documented by the Pat Finucane Centre for Human Rights and Social Change, this is not an issue that should be taken lightly.

Will Data Be More Secure in Scotland?

Given serious and well-documented data-security breaches in the United States and elsewhere, egregious civil liberties violations, as well as the seamless relationships that exist among the military, law enforcement and private security contractors with a vested interest in hyping the “terrorist threat,” the concerns of Scottish human rights’ campaigners are hardly misplaced.

The Scottish government for its part, have denied the charges and defended its actions by claiming CACI (UK) was not involved in defense work and was a “separate legal entity from its US parent company. Allegations of improper conduct made against the parent company have been vehemently denied, but in any event there is no link between these allegations and the work of CACI (UK),” the Sunday Herald reported.

Claiming the government “would never be a party” with any company “convicted” of human rights abuses, SNP spokespeople asserted that their choice of the firm was based solely on claims that CACI’s offer represented “the best and most competitively priced of the bids we received, delivering best value for tax-payers’ money.”

The government contended it “could not take unproven allegations into consideration”. The SNP government also claimed that personal information would be protected through “independent audits of security,” according to Mackay’s report.

CACI (UK) maintained that allegations of abuse at Abu Ghraib “was not substantiated by any evidence or proof, and subsequent investigations by both CACI and the US government could not confirm it. No CACI employee was ever depicted in the shocking and disturbing photos seen in the press.”

Despite CACI assertions to the contrary, photographic evidence indeed exits and was published more than two years earlier. In April 2006, Salon investigative journalist Mark Benjamin published a photograph of CACI International interrogator Daniel Johnson, a defendant in CCR’s lawsuit against the company, interrogating an Iraqi prisoner in what Army investigators described as “an unauthorized stress position.” According to Benjamin,

The Army investigated the circumstances behind the photograph, found “probable cause” that a crime had been committed, and referred the case to the Justice Department for prosecution. (Salon obtained the photo from someone who spent time at Abu Ghraib as a uniformed member of the military and is familiar with the Army investigation there.) But in early 2005, a Department of Justice attorney told the Army that the evidence in the case did not justify prosecution. (“No Justice for All,” Salon, April 14, 2006)

Indeed, the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command (CID) told Salon their office had “investigated the circumstances” surrounding the incident and found “probable cause to believe a crime was committed by civilian contractors.” However, after the case was referred to the Department of Justice, “an assistant U.S. attorney in Virginia told the Army that he had reviewed the Johnson case and found there was ‘insufficient evidence’ to prosecute.”

There the case against Johnson and other contractors languished until this May when CCR initiated a lawsuit in Los Angeles federal district court, brought by a former “ghost” detainee at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison and torture center. That case was filed against another former CACI contract employee, Steven Stefanowicz, aka “Big Steve.”

As I reported in July, CCR attorneys were forced to file separate civil suits only after a federal District of Columbia judge in 2004 refused the attorney’s petition to consolidate some 237 victims’ abuse claims as a class-action lawsuit. The judge ruled he “lacked jurisdiction,” not that the charges were “baseless allegations,” as CACI maintains. The original complaint is still pending. Why then, was CACI less than forthcoming?

How Is this Relevant to the Issue of the Scottish Census?

As the ACLU forcefully argues, “the elements of [a] nascent domestic surveillance system include: Watching and recording the everyday activities of an ever-growing list of individuals; channeling the flow of the resulting reports into a centralized security agency; sifting through (‘data mining’) these reports and databases with computers to identify individuals for closer scrutiny.” (ACLU, op. cit.)

A centralized database of census information culled by a private corporation with long-standing ties to the military-industrial-surveillance complex sets up a system ripe with the potential for abuse, particularly if such data were to fall–or drop–into the wrong hands, as feared by human rights, antiwar and civil liberties advocates.

CACI is not some eager start-up; rather the firm has been described as “one of the Pentagon’s favorite contractors” by Tim Shorrock in his essential book, Spies For Hire: The Secret World of Intelligence Outsourcing.And according to Washington Technology’sTop 100 Federal Prime Contractors: 2008,” CACI International, Inc. clocked-in at No. 17 with some $1,337,472,153 in total revenue. Some $1,105,765,855 or 82.6% was a result of defense-related contracts for IT and network services, data information, management services and what the publication terms “integrated security and intelligence solutions.”

Meanwhile, the victims of heinous abuse and torture that resulted from policies crafted at the highest levels of the Bush administration, and with the alleged complicity of many of their “outsourced” partners, are still awaiting their day in court and a modicum of justice.For more information on CCR’s lawsuits see: “New Abu Ghraib Torture Claims Filed Against Military Contractors,” Press Release, May 5, 2008 and “CCR Files Four New Abu Ghraib Lawsuits Targeting Military Contractors in U.S. Courts,” Press Release, June 30, 2008.

Tom Burghardt is a researcher and activist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition to publishing in Covert Action Quarterly, Love & Rage and Antifa Forum, he is the editor of Police State America: U.S. Military “Civil Disturbance” Planning, distributed by AK Press.

© Copyright Tom Burghardt, Antifascist Calling…, 2008

The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=9729

see

Abu Ghraib: The Outsourcing of Torture by Tom Burghardt

New Evidence Reveals Top Secret Government Database Used in Bush Spy Program

Fusion Centers Part of Incipient Domestic Intelligence System, ACLU Warns

Chemtrails and Chembows, our skies are changing (no longer available)

Dandelion Salad

Video is no longer available.

jamessanger

Our sky is changing, do you see it ?
chemtrails and chembows,
multi-coloured clouds and strange effects,
things you’ve never seen before are common,
you’ll get used to them…
So when the planes come to spray you for real,
you wont even notice.

Continue reading

Mining Racism in a Northeastern Pennsylvania Town by Walter Brasch

by Walter Brasch
featured writer
Dandelion Salad
www.walterbrasch.com
Walter’s blog post

Aug. 3, 2008

On a street in Shenandoah, Pa., deep in the heart of the anthracite coal region, six White teens took their racial hatred to a higher level. They confronted 25-year-old Luis Ramirez, an undocumented worker, and beat him to death.

At first the police chief, the mayor, and borough manager refused to believe racism was involved. Although there was already racial and ethnic tension in the 5,000 population town, the town’s political leaders were united in one belief–it was just another street fight gone bad. “I have reason to know the kids who were involved, the families who were involved, and I’ve never known them to harbor this type of feeling,” said the borough manager.

It took police almost two weeks, even with several witnesses, to finally arrest four of the teens. The district attorney charged two of the teens with homicide, aggravated assault, and ethnic intimidation, and two others with aggravated assault and ethnic intimidation. Unindicted co-conspirators are millions of Americans and the far-right mass media.

It’s common for people in a nation that is in a Recession to complain. They’re frustrated with their lives, with bad working conditions, dead end jobs, and low incomes. They’re frustrated by skyrocketing prices, obscene corporate profits, and do-nothing legislators. The problem isn’t “us,” they believe, but “them.” Others. Outsiders who “invaded” America.

A century ago in the coal region, good ole boy Americans complained about the Irish and Poles who took “our” jobs in the mines. For decades, Whites kept Blacks out of almost all but the most menial jobs, and then lynched those who they found to be too “uppity.” During the 1920s and 1930s, the masses of Germans, trying to rationalize their own economic distress, decided the problem was the Jews–and Americans went along with that ethnic racism. We blame Asians. Africans. Muslims. Anyone who’s different.

In today’s America, it’s the “Illegals,” the code-name for undocumented Mexicans. Of course, undocumented Swedes or Canadians or anyone with White skin pass under the radar. Anyone with dark skin doesn’t.

However, politicians and pundits together yell that “illegal” means just that. “What’s not to understand about ‘illegal’,” they screech. They claim they aren’t after any one race or people. Just get rid of illegals. You know, the ones who take “our” jobs. Take “our” welfare. Take “our” education. Take “our” health care. For free! And, while they’re taking, say the forces of righteousness and purity, these illegals become criminals. Some do. But most don’t.

You can’t reason with people in their own crises. You can’t tell them that our prisons are filled not with undocumented workers but with American citizens. You can’t explain that most undocumented workers don’t want hand-outs because they don’t want to be known to the authorities. Volumes of data won’t convince some of the masses that undocumented workers, the illegals, often live in near-poverty and don’t get welfare. They don’t even go to the ER when necessary, and so their illness or injury “runs its course” while destroying other body systems because these undocumented workers, already exploited by American business, are afraid of being identified and deported.

In our schools, hatred festers and breeds. Jokes about race, ethnicity, religion, women, gays, and anyone not “us” are told and retold by students—and by teachers and principals who should know better.

Two decades ago, the hatreds would have been somewhat isolated, confined to the corner saloon or social club. But now, self-aggrandizing politicians and media talk show hosts and pundits, who erroneously believe they are populists, spew hate-filled torrents of bigotry and fear-mongering.

I don’t know if the six teens who murdered Luis Ramirez listen to talk radio, watch Fox News, or read web blogs and anonymous call-ins and letters to the local newspaper. They don’t have to. Their community does.

[Dr. Walter M. Brasch is an award-winning social issues columnist, former newspaper and magazine reporter and editor, and professor of journalism at Bloomsburg University. He is president of the Pennsylvania Press Club, and former president of the Keystone state chapter of the Society of Professional Journalist. He is also the author of 17 books, including America’ s Unpatriotic Acts: The Federal Giovernment’s Violation of Constitutional and Civil Rights (January 2005) and Sinking the Ship of State: The Presidency of George W. Bush (November 2007), available through amazon.com and other bookstores. He frequently writes about the media, social and political issues. You may contact Brasch at brasch@bloomu.edu or through his website at: www.walterbrasch.com.]

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Inflation and the New World Order by Richard C. Cook

Digg It

by Richard C. Cook
featured writer
Dandelion Salad
richardccook.com
Aug. 3, 2008

DANBY, VERMONT, August 2, 2008. The sunlight on the lake sparkles at dawn. As they have done for millions of years, the rounded tree-shrouded shoulders of the Green Mountains loom above the still waters. A loon calls from the next lake over. Who would guess that that not far from such serenity the world’s most powerful nation was teetering on the brink of disaster? Though here in the bosom of nature one wonders why we should be surprised. Nations and empires come and then they go.

ARE THINGS REALLY THIS BAD?

Just before we left Washington, D.C., the Bush administration announced that it was expecting the largest federal budget deficit in history to be racked up in fiscal year 2009 starting September 1—$490 billion likely to be added to the national debt. This doesn’t even count the “supplemental appropriations” during the coming year which are the preferred method for off-budget financing of the Iraq War.

Exiting the Washington-Baltimore metropolitan area we passed the gigantic rows of glass and steel office towers along the interstate highway corridors. Further in the distance were rows of McMansions thrown up in what once were corn fields. Built for an automobile culture, the viability of both towers and houses has been stretched to the limit by $4 a gallon gas.

We drive through rural Pennsylvania and southern New York state. Homes and businesses look seedy, run down. What was once a vibrant and prosperous small-town culture in this part of the country seems exhausted. When we stop in Oneonta, New York, the prices at a local restaurant are out-of-sight, and only the Walmart seems bustling.

We eat sandwiches at a Subway where at the table next to us a young man with his elderly parents is holding a book on black magic. The headline on a copy of the New York Post says, “N.Y. for Sale.” The lead paragraph reads: “Warning of a looming economic calamity, Gov. Paterson yesterday called an emergency session of the state legislature—and raised the specter that New York may have to sell off roads, bridges, and tunnels to close a massive and still-growing budget deficit.”

Are things really this bad? Our cottage on the lake has internet service, and the  next day I read the Washington Post’s lead headline: “U.S. Economy Grows at Solid Pace in 2nd Quarter.” The Post, despite its occasional liberal posturing on social issues, is the American Pravda, the closest thing we have to an official newsletter of the establishment elite.

But even the Post has to come clean a little, stating in its lead: “Much of the improvement came from the one-time bump from economic stimulus payments, raising prospects of weaker performance in months ahead.” Matters would have been worse, the Post notes, except that the weaker U.S. dollar has caused a rise in exports and foreign tourism, though the trade deficit remains horrendous, having hit $711.6 billion in 2007.

Of course the weakening dollar also makes it easier for foreigners to buy American businesses at fire-sale prices. This happened with the recent purchase of Anheuser-Busch by the Belgian company InBev, adding to the $2 trillion spent by foreigners to acquire American companies since 1978. (EconomyInCrisis.org)

“SLOWDOWN” OR RECESSION?

The Post’s ambiguity over the condition of the economy reflects the chasm between the official government gloss on events and the actual daily experience of people who work for a living. According to the Bush administration, we are in a “slowdown,” not a recession. The GDP is still growing, they say, though at less than two percent annually.

Of course much of this “growth” reflects paper financial transactions, not the creation of wealth through production of new goods and services. But if someone makes money and the government can tax it, it’s part of the GDP.

A better measure is the actual amount of money available to working men and women for everyday expenditures. The Federal Reserve calls it M1, cash-on-hand or money held in checking or NOW accounts. In fact, M1 has not increased appreciably since late 2003, hovering at any given time between $1.3 and $1.4 trillion.

This means that for the producing economy, we have been in a recession now for almost four years, because the real value of M1 has eroded due to inflation. And it’s in the inflation statistics that the rift between the party line and daily experience is most striking.

According to the government, inflation is relatively low and has been for some time. The 2007 rate was calculated at about four percent, up from two percent in 2004. Yet we all know that the actual cost-of-living is skyrocketing. Gas costs twice as much as it did a year ago. The increase in food prices has been devastating to the family budget. Even with the bursting of the housing bubble, mortgages and rents are much higher than a decade ago, and the costs of medical care and higher education have continued to climb steadily. So what is going on?

It’s been well-documented that the government’s Consumer Price Index is not a true measure of what it takes to sustain life. For one thing, the methodology for measuring the CPI was changed in the 1990s to eliminate certain major items, such as the cost of home ownership. Other items, such as federal, state, and local taxes were never included. Finally, some items such as computer equipment have declined in price. So even though not everyone purchases such equipment in substantial amounts, the CPI is thereby moderated.

Why is this done? According to commodities analyst Danny Bannister:

“Looking at it from the government point of view, there’s a strong political motivation to understate the CPI. By understating, it keeps COLA adjustments down on entitlements, which are at this point the largest part of the government’s budget. And by understating CPI, the government can minimize the inflationary impact on things such as rents, which are indexed to CPI, or wages, pensions and a whole list of ancillary costs to artificially keep inflation rates down. Bottom-line: the published CPI understates the real inflation rate.”  (Michael Hodges, “Grandfather Economic Report,” July 2008)

In fact the Federal Reserve has gone to exhaustive lengths to avoid even using the word “inflation,” which in Fed-speak often refers to upward pressure on wages and salaries rather than prices of products or commodities. Wages and salaries have been stagnant, with purchasing power steadily declining since the recession of 2000-2001. Instead, the primary source of new money within the consumer economy has been derived from capital gains due to the rise in housing prices that have now reversed.

The fact that consumers are going broke is recognized in a back-handed way by Fed officials such as Sandra Pianalto, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland and a voting member of the Federal Open Market Committee. Pianalto said in a recent speech in Paris, “While sometimes devastating, these global relative-price pressures are not the same thing as inflation.”

As writer Colin Barr explains in a recent article in Fortune, the Fed is reluctant to identify “relative price pressures” as inflation because it does not want to make the current recession worse by raising interest rates. What is the Fed’s rationale? “It’s because,” Barr writes, “the Fed remains skeptical that high commodity prices will ripple through the economy, leading to broad price hikes and big wage increases.” (Fortune, June 26, 2008)

Or, as Sandra Pianalto puts it, “As consumers spend more money for higher-priced petroleum and agricultural goods, they eventually have less money to spend on other goods and services. Other relative prices must then fall.”

In other words, “Fed to consumers: ‘drop dead.’” If you can’t afford gas and food, stop buying other items, because while the income of whoever is benefiting goes up, yours will not.

So what should you stop paying for? Maybe your mortgage payment, credit card debt, or student loans? If you can’t afford your real estate taxes, shouldn’t you sell your house—if you can find a buyer in a depressed market? If you are elderly and have to choose between food and medicine, maybe eat dog food?

Also quoted in Barr’s Fortune article is WarrenBuffett, the billionaire investor, who is at least honest about it. According to Barr, Buffet has “fingered ‘exploding’ inflation…as the biggest risk to the economy. ‘I think inflation is really picking up,’ Buffett said on CNBC. ‘It’s huge right now, whether it’s steel or oil…We see it everywhere.’”

INFLATION AS CLASS WARFARE?

Then what is the cause of the inflation? On this subject, commentators are all over the map, often without citing any truly definitive data. Neither the government nor politicians offer any help at all, even as companies like Exxon-Mobil, BP, and Shell report quarter-after-quarter of record profits. What have we heard from John McCain or Barack Obama, for instance, on the subject? Answer: nothing.

So is it true, as Professor James Petras said in a recent article, that the causes are not accidental, but are “products of public policies which deeply affect markets, supply and demand, consumers, producers and speculators”? According to Petras, these policies result in “declining capitalist investment in the productive economy, the vast increase of capital flowing in the paper economy, the huge increases in profits and the grotesque salaries, bonuses and payoffs to senior executives, totally unrelated to ‘performance.’” (James Petras, “Inflation and the Specter of World Inflation,” Information Clearing House, July 20, 2008)

In this respect, inflation is a wealth-transfer mechanism that benefits the already-rich. Petras continues:

“In other words, in the contemporary economy, inflation benefits the wealthy because they pay their workers in deflated currency, while they can take advantage of inflation to further jack up prices and then income. [Thus] the upper classes have fortified their economic positions to take account of inflation through their power over prices, income and other compensations in a way that wage workers and people on fixed income and other vulnerable sectors cannot.  Bankers protect their loans via adjustable interest rates. Monopoly resource owners jack up prices to retain profits. Wholesalers mark up prices to compensate for higher commodity prices. Large-scale retailers squeeze final consumers – the great majority at the bottom of the production and distribution chain.”

Doubtless there is an impact from all these factors, though no one knows for sure how much. With regard to food prices, geopolitical factors deserve particularly deep scrutiny. Petras writes:

“In Asia, particularly Pakistan, India, Indonesia, South Korea, Philippines, Nepal, Mongolia, and China, hundreds of millions of workers, peasants, artisans, and low-paid self employed workers, as well as housewives and pensioners have engaged in sustained mass protests as they experience a decline in the quality and quantity of food purchases as prices skyrocket. In Africa, hunger stalks the land and major food riots have occurred from Egypt through Sub-Saharan Africa to South Africa. In the Caribbean, Central and South America, food riots have led to the overthrow of regimes, mass protests, road blockages from Argentina, Bolivia, through Colombia, Venezuela and Haiti.”

In Haiti, hungry people eat mud cakes laced with salt and a little margarine. As reported by Rory Carroll of The Guardian UK:

“The global food and fuel crisis has hit Haiti harder than perhaps any other country, pushing a population mired in extreme poverty towards starvation and revolt. Hunger burns are called ‘swallowing Clorox,’ a brand of bleach. The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization predicts Haiti’s food import bill will leap eighty percent this year, the fastest in the world. Food riots toppled the prime minister and left five dead in April. Emergency subsidies curbed prices and bought calm, but the cash-strapped government is gradually lifting them. Fresh unrest is expected.”

According to relief workers in Haiti, mass starvation could begin in six to twelve months. Meanwhile, in our own country, traders have been making millions short-selling the declining U.S. stock market while some hedge fund managers made over a billion dollars last year. Their lobbyists have been battling in Congress to stop a move to raise the relatively low rate of taxation on their capital gains to the level of earned income. In other words, while ordinary people starve, Wall Street is doing just fine.

The situation in many developing nations is desperate in part because the International Monetary Fund, under the “Washington consensus,” required them to give up their subsistence agriculture in favor of crops raised for export by agribusiness, while the people who once supported themselves on family farms have had to migrate to urban slums. The Western corporate-owned press calls it “free market reforms.”

The devastation wreaked upon the world has been eloquently described by Dennis Brutus, a former South African activist, now Professor Emeritus at the Department of African Studies, University of Pittsburgh. Brutus writes:

“When I was serving a sentence on Robben Island during the struggle to end apartheid in South Africa, I never suspected that the end of white minority rule in my home country would be the beginning of yet another struggle for justice – this time against the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

“As architects of the global economy, the World Bank and the IMF have enormous power and shape the conditions of peoples’ lives around the world. That power has been used to create a global economy friendly to the interests of the wealthy and multinational corporations, but devastating to the lives of hundreds of millions of impoverished people.

“I live now in the United States where people so far are relatively unscathed by the reordering of the global economy for the benefit of the very rich. I do not see the squatter settlements, the polluted rivers, the street children, and the elderly beggars that are all too visible in Africa, Asia, or Latin America. I am not saying, of course, that the poor in the U.S. don’t suffer from the ravages of the extremist global economic system – they do. Even the U.S. middle class is beginning to see their comfortable lives threatened by the concentration of wealth in fewer and fewer hands.

“The IMF and World Bank, with the ‘structural adjustment programs’ (SAPs) they impose on indebted countries and their pro-corporate development projects, are the leading edge of oppressive globalization. The policies they have imposed in Africa, Latin America, and Asia have condemned people to stagnation, poverty, and death for twenty years, and those policies are now being adopted in the countries of Europe and North America too.” (Human Quest May/June 2001).

IMF policies require governments to cut food price subsidies, restrict credit to farmers, and divert prime farmland to non-food export crops such as tobacco, coffee, and cotton in order to provide cheap bulk commodities to Western consumers. The victimized nations must then import wheat, rice, and other food products from outside. But prices for these food staples depend on world markets which they cannot influence, much less control.

Speaking of IMF’s directors and economists, Brutus writes:

“Although some of them may have tricked themselves into believing that the neo-liberal economic model they defend is immutable, like a law of nature, most of them probably know that they are perpetrating a fraud of global proportions. Michael Camdessus, who retired after thirteen years as Managing Director of the IMF, told a group of U.S. religious leaders that he was willing to ‘sacrifice a generation’ in order to realize the so-called benefits of the macroeconomic model.”

Camdessus, a Frenchman who headed the IMF for thirteen years, became a legend for the harshness with which he attacked the developing world’s national economies. Obviously his willingness to “sacrifice a generation” reflected the official program of the Western financial oligarchy, but today their targets extend well beyond the hapless victims of the Washington Consensus.

As Brutus indicates, the same policies are being applied to the inhabitants of the once-prosperous nations of Europe and North America as well. But doesn’t it really point to a worldwide regression to a neo-feudalist system where the rich will eventually lord it over a vastly-reduced population of debt-serfs? Is this the essence of the “New World Order” that the international elite have seemingly been planning in earnest since the Club of Rome began talking about overpopulation in the late 1960s?

At least the developing nations are now fighting back, with IMF lending running at a fraction of what it once did and some nations such as Venezuela dropping out altogether. Resistance is also being exhibited to similar policies of the World Trade Organization which likewise seeks to destroy tariffs and other trade barriers that developing countries might wish to use to protect their farmers and workers.

Just last week the “Doha Round” of WTO trade talks collapsed at Geneva when India and China led the way in refusing to alter their tariff and subsidy policies. According to the Center for Economic and Policy Research, the collapse was not surprising, “given the reluctance of India and other developing nations to sacrifice food security measures in the wake of the recent global spike in food prices.”

According to Deborah James, Director of International Programs for the Center for Economic and Policy Research, who had been observing the talks in Geneva, “The tariff cuts demanded of developing countries would have caused massive job loss, and countries would have lost the ability to protect farmers from dumping, further impoverishing millions on the verge of survival.”

NEW WORLD ORDER COUP D’ETÁT?

In looking for the tracks of the New World Order, we should also scrutinize the continuing assertion by the Western media that supply-and-demand is the controlling factor.

For instance, while the price of petroleum has doubled in the past year, there is no solid evidence that increased demand has caused this huge jump nor has the U.S. dollar  declined in value to that degree. Within the U.S., gasoline utilization is stagnant. That of China has grown but not enough to cause such an increase, while worldwide more biofuel is coming on-line. And despite the “peak oil” scare, there are no obvious shortages in what is in the pipeline and ready to be refined and utilized today. This has led to surmisals that the price increases reflect activity in the commodities futures markets.

Despite the uncertainty, the Washington Post commenced a major week-long series on July 27 by declaring with absolute certainty that “cheap gas is gone forever.” So what does the Post know that we don’t? In fact none of the factors cited by the Post, including growth of the Chinese economy, can account for the aforesaid doubling of crude oil prices within a twelve-month window. By the Post’s own figures, world petroleum utilization has increased by only twenty-five percent in the last fifteen years. (Washington Post, July 27, 2008)

Further, in spite of its certainty that it knew the causes of the problem and that higher prices are here to stay, only two months earlier, on May 27, the Post ran a lengthy article entitled, “Skyrocketing Oil Prices Stump Experts.” Toward the end came this interesting statement: “’We see many of the essential ingredients for a classic asset bubble,’ said Edward Morse, chief energy economist at Lehman Brothers. Morse estimated that $90 billion has flowed into the biggest commodity indices in just more than two years, and more money has flowed into other exchanges, pushing up prices.”

So is oil is being used as a hedge by investors to protect their wealth at a time of uncertainty? Are the richest of the rich competing with each other to park their cash? It is known that among these investors are the oil companies themselves. Also, it is known that such commodity investments are often heavily leveraged by bank loans, often up to ninety-seven percent of investors’ capital. So the banks are in on it too.

But this type of trading seems to be more than just a hedge. Its content is political. Ethically, it is deeply anti-human, even criminal, because higher fuel prices make everything else cost more in a world where fuel is needed for all that is produced or sold. In fact it seems more like an assault by the rich on every living human being in the world, an assault that governments, under the hypnotism of neo-liberal free market fundamentalism á la Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, are unable or unwilling to fight.

And who, other than the oil companies, are these big investors?

On June 19, 2008, David Bario of The American Law Daily reported on an interview with Philip McBride Johnson, a former CFTC chairman under President Reagan. Johnson now heads Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom’s exchange-traded derivatives practice. He is not exactly a wild-eyed conspiracy theorist.

Regarding activity in the petroleum futures market, Johnson said:

“The CFTC’s economists are saying that supply and demand seem to be driving this. But we have clients in the business that have experienced these markets for many, many years, and what I’m hearing from them is that they don’t see any change in the fundamentals of supply and demand.”

Bario asked, “Is it a matter of institutional investors seeking shelter from the subprime crisis and the credit crunch?” Johnson replied:

“I don’t know. But I do know that speculators as a class do not agree on anything, and yet there is almost unanimity of opinion these days — and the money to make the opinions matter. The fact that prices have been relentlessly trending up suggests a new type of market participant [with] a mentality that is traditionally more in line with investing in securities than trading in commodities. If enough of these wealthy people, or funds, or other entities with a lot of capital decide to flip out of securities for a little while and go into commodities, and they’re all looking for something that is going up, and you get enough billions of dollars thinking that way, then their wish comes true.”

So again, who exactly are these “wealthy people, or funds, or other entities” that may be manipulating the market of the world’s most important substance? Surely government regulators must know. Aren’t they able to trace market activity to the players involved?

The answer, Johnson said, is no, they can’t:

“The situation now is that the CFTC is sitting there looking at one screen, one piece of the picture, which is whatever is happening on the exchanges. Meanwhile, an increasing volume in dollars is taking place in the form of over-the-counter activity where no one can see it… there is still a blind spot with respect to the true over-the-counter activity that is going on, which represents billions and billions of dollars.”

This trading in what the industry calls “dark pools” amounts to a third of all commodities activity, easily enough for the manipulators to remain hidden. It takes place outside the regular commodities exchanges, where trading activity is relatively transparent. And it applies not only to trading in petroleum futures but also food crops and other vital commodities.

And who is it that has allowed this secret trading to take place? Johnson:

“In 2000 Congress decided that there were certain kinds of high-end investors that were big enough and smart enough that they shouldn’t be constrained to do all their business on the exchanges.”

The United States Congress has constitutional responsibility to regulate interstate commerce in order to secure “the general welfare.” It is Congress that has enabled the richest of the rich to work behind the scenes in U.S. markets in exerting this stranglehold over whether much of the world’s population will live in relative prosperity or poverty, or, in countries like Haiti, even live or die.

Are we seeing the totalitarian dictatorship of the world’s financial elite being rolled out, with petroleum and food prices the primary weapon of a final coup d’etát against every national government on earth and their citizens? And if we knew who these “high-end investors” were, and who controlled them, wouldn’t we then understand who is in charge of the New World Order and for whom it really functions?

If we are wrong in deducing such a plot, there is an easy way for those under suspicion to disprove it. Those who are “big enough and smart enough” to be making so much money surely can live handsomely without these additional profits. Let them come forth, identify themselves, and donate their gains for worthwhile projects to benefit humanity.

Absent such a gesture, let them stand indicted.

UNSETTLING TIMES

Meanwhile, here in Vermont, home to a small but popular movement for the state to secede from the U.S., the local news reflects the unsettling times.

The Rutland Herald reports that the Vermont Milk Company, founded in 2006 with the goal of paying local dairy farmers more for their milk than would big out-of-state food corporations, is facing “huge increases” in the costs of fuel and credit and is laying off employees. The article notes that it takes the company 100 gallons of heating oil to make a single batch of ice cream.

On the state level, the government in Montpelier must cut $32 million from the fiscal year budget that began July 1. The Herald notes that, “Public safety and preparedness agencies like the Vermont State Police, Corrections, the National Guard, and Veterans Affairs will not be cut. Neither will debt service, which the state must pay.” Layoffs of state employees in other program areas will be considered.

One relatively inexpensive activity that will continue will be the Vermont “Wood Warms” program, “aimed at getting split cord wood into the sheds of low- and moderate-income Vermonters.” Jonathan Wood, commissioner of the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation is quoted as saying: “We used to be more reliant on our backyards and forests for fuel. I think we have to head back there in the future. We’re kind of going forward into the past.”

The classified section contains “Help Wanted” listings for a local economy that is struggling but still has a few openings for nurses, truck drivers, cooks, carpenters, and an occasional job as a teacher or administrator. But there is only one listing for industrial work, placed by a filament extrusion company.

But it’s oil that rules the world. On the Herald’s business page is an Associated Press report that the “Exxon-Mobil Corp. reported second quarter earnings of $11.68 billion Thursday, the biggest profit from operations ever by any U.S, corporation.”

Unfortunately, “the results were well short of Wall Street expectations.” Even with record profits the devils of the financial world were not satisfied, as Exxon-Mobil’s stock “slumped three percent.”

Copyright 2008 by Richard C. Cook

Richard C. Cook is a former U.S. federal government analyst, whose career included service with the U.S. Civil Service Commission, the Food and Drug Administration, the Carter White House, NASA, and the U.S. Treasury Department. His articles on economics, politics, and space policy have appeared on numerous websites and in Eurasia Critic magazine. His book on monetary reform, entitled We Hold These Truths: The Hope of Monetary Reform, will be published soon by Tendril Press. He is also the author of Challenger Revealed: An Insider’s Account of How the Reagan Administration Caused the Greatest Tragedy of the Space Age, called by one reviewer, “the most important spaceflight book of the last twenty years.” His website is at richardccook.com. Comments may be sent via email to EconomicSanity@gmail.com.

see

World Prout Assembly: Monetary Policy with Richard C. Cook

Louis T. McFadden (1876-1936): An American Hero by Richard C. Cook

Richard C. Cook: On The Eve of WW3 (videos)

Status Report on the Collapse of the U.S. Economy by Richard C. Cook

Engineered Collapse of the US Economy – Alex Jones interviews Richard C Cook

Federal Reserve

Inflation and the Specter of World Revolution By James Petras

Deep in the capitalist doo-doo by William Bowles

Bill Moyers Journal: Mortgage Mess + Wall Street + Justice & the American Dream

Economic Collapse by Norman Livergood

The Economy Sucks and or Collapse

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