McCain to announce VP choice by telegraph + McCain to pick Ronald Reagan as VP



by R J Shulman
Dandelion Salad
featured writer
Robert’s blog post

Aug 22, 2008

PHOENIX – In a Presidential race full of surprises and traditional rule breaking, Senator John McCain will forgo the traditional staged event for the announcement of his Vice Presidential candidate and make the announcement via the telegraph. “We think this is a direct slap in the face to Obama, who is not telegraph savvy,” said Rick Davis, McCain Campaign manager. “Obama is too out of touch with the American people, especially the youngsters who are quite hep to the telegraph,” Davis said.

“My friends,” McCain said, “there is going to be quite a surge of excited Americans at the telegraph offices when I make my historic announcement. It sure beats telling everyone who their next Vice President will be by sending the announcement by Pony Express or driving around town in a Maverick or Pinto throwing flyers on doorsteps.”

“Speculation is running high that as soon as Dick Cheney tells McCain who his running mate will be, that telegraph keys will be clacking all over the country,” a McCain aid said. “This bold move into new advanced technology should dispel any notion that I am old and behind the times,” said McCain dressed in a tye-dyed shirt, Nehru jacket and wide elephant bell pants, an outfit McCain claims is a move to connect himself with today’s youth trends.


McCain to pick Ronald Reagan as VP


by R J Shulman

Dandelion Salad
featured writer
Robert’s blog post

Aug 22, 2008

PHOENIX – Bucking all of the predictions regarding his choice of a running mate, Senator John McCain will choose Ronald Reagan to run as his Vice President, the Post Times Sun Dispatch learned today. “This is a brilliant move,” said Charles Scniender, a strategist for the Republican Party, “as it will bring all the conservatives and Reagan Democrats to the polls to vote for McCain.”

“The choice of Reagan is also a positive for McCain because he will look young and vigorous compared to Reagan and he will look more attentive,” Schnieder said.

“I couldn’t have suggested a better choice,” said Dick Cheney, “except for me, of course.”

Democratic political strategist James Carville said, “I can’t believe what those Republicans will dig up to win this election.” Barack Obama said he had no comment as he would like to keep the tone of the campaign above board and above ground.

“There is nothing in the Constitution that says you have to be alive to be the Vice President,” said Alan Dershowitz, Harvard Law Professor, ” I guess our founding fathers didn’t think future generations would be so unscrupulous and so dumb.”

“I don’t think it’s bad to choosicate a Vice President without a pulse,” President Bush said, “after all, I have a Vice President without a heart.”

America’s Unwelcome Advances By Chalmers Johnson

Dandelion Salad

By Chalmers Johnson
Mother Jones
August 22, 2008

The Pentagon’s foreign overtures are running into a world of public opposition.

Imperialism, meaning militarily stronger nations dominating and exploiting weaker ones, has been a prominent feature of the international system for several centuries, but it may be coming to an end. Overwhelming majorities in numerous countries now condemn it—with the possible exception of some observers who believe it promotes “stability” and some United States politicians who still vigorously debate the pros and cons of America’s continuing military hegemony over much of the globe.

Imperialism’s current decline began in 1991 with the disintegration of the former Soviet Union and the collapse of its empire. The United States now seems to be the last of a dying species—the sole remaining multinational empire. (There are only a few vestiges of the old Dutch, English, and French empires, mostly in the form of island colonies and other enclaves in and around the Caribbean.) As the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have made clear, the United States is increasingly stressed by the demands of maintaining its empire through its own military resources. Change is in the air.

According to the Pentagon’s 2008 “Base Structure Report,” its annual unclassified inventory of the real estate it owns or leases around the world, the United States maintains 761 active military “sites” in foreign countries. (That’s the Defense Department’s preferred term, rather than “bases,” although bases are what they are.) Counting domestic military bases and those on US territories, the total is 5,429.

Mission Creep: America’s Unwelcome Advances


US Interventions: 1798 – Present (2005)

T(ypo)ERRORISM (video) + List of US Bombings since WWII

Nader: Votesong

Ralph Nader after the speech - Green Lecture

Image by Dandelion Salad via Flickr

Dandelion Salad


2008 Presidential Candidate Ralph Nader thanks his supporters for their hard work in making it possible for Nader/Gonzalez to appear on 45 ballots.

Music – Votesong
by Rick Steffen –

Continue reading

Crunch Time By Mike Whitney + Criminals dumping weak dollar for euro

Dandelion Salad

By Mike Whitney
08/22/08 “ICH”

Sharp contractions in the money supply and recession are two spokes on the same wheel. When the money supply shrinks, there’s less economic activity, and the economy slows. An article in this week’s UK Telegraph by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard removes any doubt that a deep recession can still be avoided.

From the UK Telegraph:

“The US money supply has experienced the sharpest contraction in modern history, heightening the risk of a Wall Street crunch and a severe economic slowdown in coming months. Data compiled by Lombard Street Research shows that the M3 ”broad money” aggregates fell by almost $50bn in July, the biggest one-month fall since modern records began in 1959.

“Monthly data for July show that the broad money growth has almost collapsed,” said Gabriel Stein, the group’s leading monetary economist.” (Ambrose Evans-Pritchard,”Sharp US Money Supply contraction points to a Wall Street crunch ahead”, UK Telegraph)

The Telegraph confirms what many of the doomsayers have been saying for more than a year now; we’re facing a severe bout of deflation. The persistent credit-drain from rising foreclosures and deleveraging financial institutions is shrinking the money supply. Now it’s visible in the data. Bernanke’s low interest rates haven’t stopped the hemorrhaging; deflation is spreading like Kudzu. According to Evans-Pritchard, “The growth in bank loans has turned negative” (while) “the overall debt burden in the US economy is currently at record levels, raising concerns that a recession – if it occurs – could set off a sharp downward spiral.”

The under-capitalized banking system has slowed its lending and consumers have stopped borrowing; all the main economic indicators are pointing down. In fact, according to the Conference Board, “weakness among the leading indicators continues to be widespread” and dropped more than 0.7% in July alone. The report is a composite of selected indicators that show the overall direction of the economy. At present, they’re all in negative territory.

The Fed lowered interest rates to 2 per cent hoping to help recapitalize the banks and stimulate consumer spending, but it hasn’t worked. The banks still don’t have the capacity to lend, so the main artery for credit distribution remains clogged and GDP is dropping off. A python has wrapped itself around the financial system and is gradually cutting-off the oxygen supply. Naturally, when the credit system is broken, the money supply contracts. That’s true here, as well. What’s troubling is the speed at which it is all of this is taking place. It’s “the biggest one-month fall since modern records began in 1959”. The process is accelerating and will require the Fed to slash rates at its September meeting.

Economist Nouriel Roubini puts it like this:

“Over time inflation will be the last problem that the Fed will have to face as a severe US recession and global slowdown will lead to a sharp reduction in inflationary pressures in the U.S.: slack in goods markets with demand falling below supply will reduce pricing power of firms; slack in labor markets with unemployment rising will reduce wage pressures and labor costs pressures; a fall in commodity prices of the order of 30% will further reduce inflationary pressure.

The Fed will have to cut the Fed Funds rate much more as severe downside risks to growth and to financial stability will dominate any short-term upward inflationary pressures. Leaving aside the risk of a collapse of the US dollar given this easier monetary policy the Fed Funds rate may end up being closer to 0% than 1% by the end of this financial crisis and severe recession cycle.”

Interest rates are going down not up as the futures market believes.

Federal Reserve chief Bernanke understands the problem, but has no way to fix it. The market is simply correcting from massive credit imbalances. The economy needs time to cool off and rebalance. Bernanke’s various “auction facilities” were created to keep the banking system afloat while the government delivered “stimulus checks” to working people. The plan was designed to bypass the dysfunctional banking system and give money directly to taxpayers. Unfortunately, the strategy failed and added to the bulging fiscal deficits. Martin Feldstein summed it up like this in the Wall Street Journal:

“Recent government statistics show that only between 10% and 20% of the rebate dollars were spent. The rebates added nearly $80 billion to the permanent national debt but less than $20 billion to consumer spending….Here are the facts. Tax rebates of $78 billion arrived in the second quarter of the year. The government’s recent GDP figures show that the level of consumer outlays only rose by an extra $12 billion, or 15% of the lost revenue. The rest went into savings, including the paydown of debt….Consumer outlays increased to $36 billion from $24 billion. So the additional $12 billion of consumer spending was less than 16% of the extra $76 billion of disposable personal income. By comparison, savings rose by $62 billion, or five times as much….This experience confirms earlier studies showing that one-time tax rebates are not a cost-effective way to increase economic activity.”

The whole “stimulus” plan backfired. Americans did the responsible thing and used the money to pay off debts or stash it in savings instead of than wasting it [at] Walmart or Target on more useless knick-knacks. It just goes to show that average working people can change their spending habits and making prudent choices when they see that times are tough. The culture of consumerism is the result of Madison Ave. saturation-campaigns and propaganda; there’s nothing inherently wrong with the American people. Workers are constantly being blamed for “living beyond their means”, but the real problem originates from flawed monetary policy and destructive commercialism. It’s the prevailing “sicko” corporate culture that has created a nation of spendthrifts and speculators. Ordinary people are not at fault.

Fiscal stimulus can work if it is used properly, like if it was applied to the payroll tax. That would be the same as giving every working man and woman in America a sizable raise in pay that could used to give the economy a boost. (Couples making under $70,000 per year spend 100% of their earnings. They represent 50% of total GDP) The problem, however, is that that would violate a central tenet of neoliberalism which dictates that the payroll tax be used in the General Fund as a de facto flat tax levied against the poor and middle class to ensure that the ruling elite don’t not have to pay their fair share for the maintenance of the empire. Bush and his ilk would rather run the economy off a cliff than compromise on their core values. The real reason we are faced with the current economic downturn is because wages have not kept pace with production which means that workers have had to increase their borrowing to maintain their same standard of living and keep the economy growing. If wages are flat the economy can’t grow; it’s as simple as that. That’s why banking elites have lowered standards for lending; it’s just a way to generate profits and create growth without giving workers the raise they deserve. It has the added benefit of pushing people into a life of debt-peonage. Americans are deeper in debt than anytime in history and are struggling just to make the interest payments on their loans. As a result, more and more homeowners are walking away from their mortgages and leaving the banks with huge, unanticipated debts. The architects of America’s debt-slavery system are turning out to be its biggest victims.

Currently, billions of dollars are disappearing in the secondary market where bets were placed on mortgage-backed securities that are now virtually worthless. As market volatility increases, frazzled investors are moving into cash. Credit is being wrung from the system while the money supply continues to contract.

Mike Shedlock of Mish’s Global Economic Trend Analysis gives this technical analysis:

“The recent plunge in M3 (ed.–M3 is the broadest measure of money used by economists to estimate the entire supply of money) makes it likely that credit lines have been fully tapped and/or banks have simply turned off the spigot. Liquidity shrinks by the day. Banks scrambling to refinance long-term debt are going to have a very tough go of it. Weekly unemployment claims are soaring. Consumers out of a job are going to have a tough time paying bills. Those looking for a bottom in these conditions are simply barking up the wrong tree.”

The prospects of a deep and protracted downturn are now greater than ever. Financial institutions are either pulling back and preparing for the storm ahead or taking advantage of existing credit lines while they last. The herky-jerky market action suggests that a growing number of CEOs and CFOs can see that the walls are closing in on them. The crash-alert flag is about half-way up the pole.

Author Ellen Hodgson Brown’s new book “The Web of Debt”, points out some of the parallels some  between our present predicament and events leading up to the Great Depression:

“The problem began in the Roaring Twenties when the Fed made money plentiful by keeping interest rates low. Money seemed to be plentiful, but what was actually flowing freely was ‘credit’ or ‘debt’. Production was up more than wages, so more goods were available than money to pay for them; but people could borrow. …Money was so easy to get that people were borrowing just to invest, taking out short-term, low interest loans that were readily available from the banks”.

Sound familiar?

Brown continues:

“The Fed began selling securities in the open market, reducing the money supply by reducing the reserves available for backing loans..The result was a huge liquidity squeeze—a lack of available money. Short-term loans suddenly became available only at much higher interest rates, making buying stock on margin much less attractive. As fewer people bought, stock prices fell, removing the incentive for new buyers to purchase stocks bought by earlier buyers on margin…The stock market crashed overnight.”

The money supply contracted dramatically during the first few years of the Great Depression.  Free-market guru, Milton Friedman, went so far as to blame the Central Bank for the disaster. He said, “The Federal Reserve definitely caused the Great Depression by contracting the amount of currency in circulation by one-third from 1929 to 1933.”

As a result, interest rates rose and credit became scarcer. To some extent, these things are taking place already. Long-term interest rates and LIBOR have been rising and are headed higher. These are much more accurate gages of the “real” price of credit than the Fed’s artificial Fed Funds Rate (2 per cent) which is just a give-away to the banks.

Brown does a good job of connecting the dots and showing how the Federal Reserve engineered the Depression with their failed monetary policies and serial bubble making. In another chapter, she quotes Louis T. McFadden, Chairman of the House Banking and Currency Committee, who is explicit in his condemnation of the Fed:

(The Depression) was not accidental. It was a carefully contrived occurrence. …The international bankers sought to bring about a condition of despair here so that they might emerge as rulers of us all”. (Ellen Hodgson Brown; “The Web of Debt”, page 146)

Whether the present economic crisis was deliberate or not is irrelevant. The ultimate responsibility for our economic woes lies with the Fed; that’s who created the speculative bubble that is now wreaking havoc on the broader economy. Millions of people will lose their homes, trillions of dollars of equity will be wiped out, and hundreds of banks will fail.  Eventually, there will be more consolidation among the banks and greater concentration of wealth among fewer people.  An self-regulated system run by unelected businessmen naturally gravitates towards monopoly and, yes, tyranny.

Charles Lindbergh summed up the role of the Federal Reserve like this:

“The financial system has been turned over to …a purely profiteering group. The system is private, conducted for the sole purpose of obtaining the greatest possible profits from the use of other people’s money.” (Ellen Hodgson Brown; “The Web of Debt”)

The impending global recession has nothing to do with crafty mortgage lenders, opportunistic loan applicants, dodgy rating agencies, or crooked home appraisers. That’s like blaming Lindy England for Abu Ghraib. The source of the troubles is the Federal Reserve and monetary policies that are designed to rob people of their life savings.

Abolish the Fed.


Criminals dumping weak dollar for euro

Press TV
Fri, 22 Aug 2008 23:04:39 GMT

The weakened US dollar has fallen out of favor with organized crime groups to pay for drug shipments or to settle scores, a Canadian government report says.

And if the greenback continues its slide in 2008, as expected, more and more criminals are likely to exchange euros for illicit goods, said Criminal Intelligence Service Canada in its annual report.

Press TV – Criminals dumping weak dollar for euro.

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.


Web of Debt

by Ellen Brown

Web of Debt

order here


The Economy Sucks and or Collapse

If I Were A Democrat Again, this is What I’d Tell Obama

Dandelion Salad

By Timothy V. Gatto
08/22/08 “ICH

I would be utterly confounded, confused, upset, hopeless and most of all, hurting like hell. Even though I’m not a Democrat, I still feel all of these particular emotions. It feels as if the end of the world is coming and there is not a thing I can do about it, and unfortunately, nobody seems to care, especially the Democrats.

I can’t help but be the eternal optimist. Somehow, someway, we are all going to understand what’s happening to this country and we will demand that the corporate politicians and the corporate media stop this march towards fascism and imperialism, and give this nation back to its people. There are some that believe in a second coming of a political messiah that will right all the wrongs and make the government represent the people. This is a pipedream. There is no single person, no political party and no movement that can, or will, do this. We must do it ourselves if we want to see it done.

The Democrats are wondering why their candidate’s numbers are slowly circling the drain. How stupid is that? Could it be that the man chosen by the mainstream corporate media and the corporate political party is behaving like a corporatist? This entire drama between the two political parties has got to be the most expensive con job that this world has ever seen. Barack Obama is either incredibly naive, or the worst straw man that has ever appeared on the American political scene. If there was any chance in hell of America voting in a Republican after two terms of George W. Bush, the Democrats have found that chance in the hell that are the neo-con theories of war and corporate rape of America.

If Obama is not a plant, if he is really trying to win this election (and I have my doubts about that), than he has to stop listening to his “advisers”, this practice of reaching out to dissatisfied Republicans and vying for their votes must cease. Why elect a make-believe neo-con when you can have the real thing? Democrats must realize that they have completely lost the support of anyone that thinks. This can be turned around in a flash if the Democrats will do but a few simple things.

First of all, stop competing with the Republicans for the right wing polemic. It’s just not going to work. Obama must demand that Congress restore the Constitution. Demand the rescission of the Patriot Acts, the Military Commissions Act of 2006, the John Warner Defense Bill (the revamped Insurrection Act that eliminated Posse Comitatus and allows the government to use Federal troops for law enforcement on the whim of the president) close Guantanamo, denounce torture in any form, and join the International Community. He must state his intention of limiting the powers of the Executive Branch that Bush instituted with the “Unitary Executive” theory. This must be done before the elections so that he will not use these powers for his own administration. The prospect of that much power in the hands of one man is too inviting to ignore.

The next thing he must do is to denounce these wars of aggression against the Muslims in the Middle-East. Moving the war from Iraq to Afghanistan is not the way to peace in that region. This Afghan adventure could easily spill into Pakistan, and even if it is contained in Afghanistan, it is a war that will never be won. It will require an endless supply of dollars we don’t have, and an infinite amount of time that we also can ill-afford. The war in Afghanistan is a trap that will bleed the life from the United States, and killing members of the Taliban will not solve anything. Hamid Karzi, a former Unocal executive that built the Afghan oil pipeline is but one example of America’s war for resources.

Obama must also disengage this nation from the right wing government of Israel. Genuflecting to AIPAC is horrifying to every liberal or moderate voter in this country. Most American Jews do not support AIPAC, in fact, 60 to 80% of them (depending on the source) despise the lobby. Obama must demand that Israel seriously engage its neighbors in peace negotiations or risk the cut-off of US aid. The siege of Gaza must end and Israel must drop its demands that the Palestinians’ surrender their right of return and the payment of reparations for seized property for Hamas to recognize the Israeli State.

The Senator from Illinois must also revamp his foreign policy team of Richard Holbrooke, Madeleine Albright and Zbigniew Brzezinski. Democratic neo-cons of the first order, they may be smarter than the Republican neo-cons, but that makes them infinitely more dangerous. Barack must declare his intention to abrogate the missile defense shield treaty with Poland. Inserting nuclear warheads into Poland is as provocative as putting them in Cuba in 1963 and will lead to the same results, tension and a possible thermo nuclear war between Russia and the United States. Attempting to surround Russia with military force and first strike nuclear capability is insane. The American people understand this, for some unknown reason, the Democratic leadership does not.

Barack Obama must call for paper trail elections and for individual States to stop using electronic voting machines that are totally vulnerable to hacking. Waiting until he loses in November in States that show he won by the exit polls will be too late. It has happened before and it will no doubt happen again.

Corporate ownership of the mass media and corporate censorship of the networks must end. The Fairness Doctrine must be reintroduced and Obama should speak out against any attempt to censor or regulate the internet. The internet is the only thing that resembles a free press in this country.

Suggesting that corporate CEO’s and other corporate executives must have a salary cap. It makes no sense for a corporate executive to be drawing an annual salary of two hundred fifty million dollars plus perks and stock options while cutting the hourly pay of workers and shifting health care benefits to the unions because the company is running in the red. All one has to do is look at the automakers to understand what I’m talking about.

The Democrats should call for the nationalization of all segments of the economy that deal with all facets of the population. The oil industry, the railroads, the water systems, the electric companies, the nuclear power plants, the ports and the healthcare industry should be nationalized as quickly as possible. The sustainability of life and our economy should not be left to the discretion of multi-national corporations. Just as the economy should be regulated, the military industrial complex should be also. Declare the intention to eliminate no-bid contracts and wean the nation off the armament industry as our industrial base. We have been on a war economy since 1940. This is not sustainable and will eventually lead to the collapse of our economy. The United States spends 48% of the entire planets military budget. China spends 8% of what the US spends, and Russia 5%.

Putting people back to work by rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure will bring dividends in two ways. It will boost employment and restore the value of our roads, bridges and utilities. A New Deal approach similar to the FDR years should be instituted. The government should rid itself of the Federal Reserve that allows multi-national bankers to sell us our own money at interest is deplorable! Credit to Americans should be offered at low interest to Americans and lenders that practice deceptive and predatory lending practices should be regulated. Usury laws must be re-instituted to prevent the economic rape of American citizens. It is no coincidence that the richest 10% of the population owns 71% of this nation’s wealth. 1% of the wealthiest families own 38% of the wealth. The division between rich and poor grows each year, while the middle-class shrinks. Taxing the rich and forcing them to pay their fair share is essential. The public must be told that the median income for a Senator is 1.2 million dollars and 675,000 dollars for a Representative (Center for Responsive Politics, Congress will not tax itself without a push from America’s citizens that vote.

I could go on and on. These are the most important issues that come to mind. Weapons of mass destruction used by our own Armed Forces such as depleted uranium-235 (DU) white phosphorus and napalm should be outlawed as well as cluster bombs that kill innocent civilians. There will no doubt be a second and maybe a third part of this article. Senator Obama should read this. I did not think of all of these ideas myself; I gratuitously stole them from some of the best liberal minds in America. If I were a Democrat I would send this to the Obama campaign, but then again I’m not a Democrat and frankly I wouldn’t waste my time. They believe they have all the answers anyway. –

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.

Mosaic News – 8/21/08: World News from the Middle East

Dandelion Salad



This video may contain images depicting the reality and horror of war/violence and should only be viewed by a mature audience.


Mosaic needs your help! Donate here:
“Bombing at Arms Plant Kills 64 in Pakistan,” Al Jazeera English, Qatar
“Pakistan: Sherif Threatens to Withdraw from Coalition Government,” Al Arabiya TV, UAE
“Syria to House Russian Missiles,” Dubai TV, UAE
“Syrian President in Moscow,” Dubai TV, UAE
“Dispute Over Islands Heightens Between UAE and Iran,” Abu Dhabi TV, UAE
“Rice Exerts Pressure to Keep US Troops in Iraq,” Al Jazeera TV, Qatar
“The Quds Force Under Fire Over Training Iraq’s Death Squads,” Al Sharqiya TV, Iraq
“Israel Issues Security Warning to Travelers,” IBA TV, Israel
Produced for Link TV by Jamal Dajani.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Pat Buchanan: Georgia started the war + It’s like the Cold War

Dandelion Salad


Did US officials know about Georgia’s plans to attack its breakaway region? The issue deserves a special hearing in the US Congress, according to American political commentator Pat Buchanan. Continue reading

Planning For Cold War And Beyond + Full spectrum dominance

by Bruce Gagnon
featured writer
Dandelion Salad
Bruce’s blog post
Aug. 22, 2008


The photo above is a make shift hospital in a school basement in Tskhinvali, South Ossetia after Georgia’s military attack that killed around 2,000 people on August 7.

The media in the U.S. are now using the Russian response to Georgia’s attack to justify the deployment of “missile defense” systems in Poland and the Czech Republic. Like many corporate media outlets across the country the Portland Press Herald today editorializes, “Where once displeasing Moscow would seem a strong argument against deployment, now there’s reason to create a negative consequence for Russia’s behavior…..for now, missile defense has a purpose — if not strategically, then at least diplomatically.” Continue reading

Investigation of World Trade Center Building 7 (videos)

Dandelion Salad

53 min

August 21, 2008 C-SPAN

Shyam-Sunder, Sivaraj Director, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Building and Fire Research Laboratory The National Institute of Standards and Technology released the findings and recommendations from its building and fire safety investigation of the collapse of World Trade Center Building 7 (WTC 7). WTC 7 was a 47-story building that fell nearly seven hours after the World Trade Center towers collapsed following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The report presents the probable collapse sequence for the building and provides recommendations for improving building and fire safety in other buildings similar to WTC 7. Mr. Sivaraj Shyam-Sunder, the lead investigator for the federal building and fire safety investigation of the World Trade Center disaster, presented the report and responded to questions from the reporters in the audience.

Continue reading

The Eurasian Corridor: Pipeline Geopolitics & the New Cold War by Michel Chossudovsky

Dandelion Salad

Lots of pics and maps on the original source.

by Michel Chossudovsky
Global Research, August 22, 2008

The ongoing crisis in the Caucasus is intimately related to the control over energy pipeline and transportation corridors.

There is evidence that the Georgian attack on South Ossetia on August 7 was carefully planned. High level consultations were held with US and NATO officials in the months preceding the attacks.

The attacks on South Ossetia were carried out one week after the completion of extensive US – Georgia war games (July 15-31st, 2008). They were also preceded by high level Summit meetings held under the auspices GUAM, a US-NATO sponsored regional military alliance.

War in Georgia Time Line

July 1-2, 2008 GUAM Summit in Batumi, Georgia.

July 1,  “US-GUAM Summit” on the sideline of the official GUAM venue.

July 5 -12,  Russian Defense Ministry hold  War Games in the North Caucasus region under the codename “Caucasus Frontier 2008”.

July 9, 2008 China and Kazakhstan announce the commencement of construction of the Kazakhstan-China natural gas pipeline (KCP)

July 15-31,  The US and Georgia hold War Games under the codename Operation “Immediate Response”. One thousand US servicemen participate in the military exercise.

August 7,  Georgian Ground Forces and Air Force Attack South Ossetia

August 8,  Russian Forces Intervene in South Ossetia.

August 14, 2008 Signing of US-Polish Agreement on the stationing of “US Interceptor Missiles” on Polish Territory

Introduction: The GUAM Summit Venue

In early July 2008, a regional summit was held in the Georgian city of Batumi under the auspices of GUAM

GUAM is a military agreement between Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova, first established in 1997. Since 2006, following the withdrawal of Uzbekistan, GUAM was renamed: The Organization for Democracy and Economic Development – GUAM.

GUAM has little to do with “Democracy and Economic Development”. It is a de facto appendage of NATO. It  has been used by the US and the Atlantic Alliance to extend their zone of influence into the heartland of the former Soviet Union.

The main thrust of GUAM as a military alliance is to “protect” the energy and transportation corridors, on behalf of the Anglo-American oil giants. GUAM countries are also the recipients of US-NATO military aid and training.

The militarization of these corridors is a central feature of US-NATO planning. Georgia and Ukraine membership in NATO is part of the agenda of controlling the energy and transport corridors from the Caspian Sea basin to Western Europe.

The July 1-2, 2008 GUAM Summit Batumi meetings, under the chairmanship of President Saakashvili, focused on the central issue of pipeline and transportation corridors. The theme of the Summit was a “GUAM – Integrating Europe’s East”, from an economic and strategic-military standpoint, essentially with a view to isolating Russia.

The presidents of Azerbaijan, Georgia and the Ukraine (respectively  Ilham Aliyev, Mikheil Saakashvili and Viktor Yushchenko) were in attendance together with the presidents of Poland, Lech Kaczynski, and Lithuania, Valdas Adamkus. Moldova’s head of State flatly refused to attend this summit.


Map No 1: Georgia

Undermining Russia

The GUAM Summit agenda focused on undermining Moscow’s influence in the Caucasus and Eastern Europe. The Polish President was in attendance.

US-NATO installations in Eastern Europe including the Missile Defense Shield are directly related to the evolving geopolitical situation in the Caucasus. Barely a week after the bombing of South Ossetia by Georgian forces, the US and Poland signed an agreement (August 14) which would allow the US Air Force to deploy US “interceptor missiles” on Polish soil:

“… As military strategists have pointed out, the US missiles in Poland pose a total existential threat to the future existence of the Russian nation. The Russian Government has repeatedly warned of this since US plans were first unveiled in early 2007. Now, despite repeated diplomatic attempts by Russia to come to an agreement with Washington, the Bush Administration, in the wake of a humiliating US defeat in Georgia, has pressured the Government of Poland to finally sign the pact. The consequences could be unthinkable for Europe and the planet. ” (William Engdahl, Missile Defense: Washington and Poland just moved the World closer to War, Global Research, August 15, 2008)

The “US-GUAM Summit”

Barely acknowledged by the media, a so-called “US-GUAM Summit” meeting was also held on July 1st on the sidelines of the official GUAM summit venue.

US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State David Merkel met both GUAM and non-GUAM delegations behind closed doors. Several bilateral meetings were held including a Poland GUAM meeting (during which the issue of the US missile defense shield on Polish territory was most probably addressed). Private meetings were also held on July 1st and 2nd at the residence of the Georgian President.


US-Georgia War Games

Barely two weeks following the GUAM Summit of July 1-2, 2008, US-Georgian military exercises were launched at the Vaziani military base, outside Tbilisi,

One thousand U.S and six hundred Georgian troops began a military training exercise under Operation “Immediate Response”. US troops included the participation of the US Air Force, Army, Marines and National Guard. While an Iraq war scenario had been envisaged, the military exercises were a dress rehearsal for an upcoming military operation. The  war games were completed on July 31st, a week before the onset of the August 7th Georgian attacks on South Ossetia.

Troops from Ukraine and Azerbaijan, which are members of GUAM also participated in Operation “Immediate Response” Unexpectedly, Armenia which is an ally of Russia and a staunch opponent of Azerbaijan also took part in these games, which also served to create and “train and work together” environment between Azeri and Armenian forces (ultimately directed against Russia).

Brig. Gen. William B. Garrett, commander of the U.S. military’s Southern European Task Force, was responsible for the coordination of the US-Georgia war games.


Gen. William B. Garrett and Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili

Russia’s War Games in the North Caucasus

Russia began large-scale military exercises involving some 8,000 military personnel, some 700 armored units and over 30 aircraft ( in the North Caucasus republics of the Russian Federation on July 5th. (Georgian Times, July 28, 2008)

The Russian war games were explicitly carried out in response to the evolving security situation in Abhkazia and South Ossetia. The exercise, dubbed  “Caucasus Frontier 2008”, involved units of the 58th Army and the 4th Air Force Army, stationed in the North Caucasus Military District.

A Russian Defense Ministry spokesman acknowledged that the military exercises conducted in the Southern Federal District were being carried out in response to “an escalation in tension in the Georgian-Abkhaz and Georgian-Ossetian conflict zones,…[and] that Russia’s North Caucasian Military District was ready to provide assistance to Russian peacekeepers in Abkhazia and South Ossetia if needed.” (Georgian Times, July 28, 2008, RIA-Novosti, July 5, 2008)

These units of the North Caucasian Military District (Army and Air Force) were subsequently used to lead the Russian counterattack directed against Georgian Forces in South Ossetia on August 8th.

Pipeline Geopolitics

A central issue on the GUAM-NATO drawing board at the July GUAM Summit in Batumi, was the Odessa-Brody-Plotsk (Plock on the Vistula) pipeline route (OBP) (see Maps 3 and 4), which brings Central Asian oil via Odessa, to Northern Europe, bypassing Russian territory. An extension of OBP to Poland’s port of Gdansk on the Baltic sea is also envisaged.

It should be noted that the OBP also links up with Russia’s Friendship Pipeline (Druzhba pipeline) in an agreement with Russia.

Washington’s objective is ultimately to weaken and destabilize Russia’s pipeline network –including the Friendship Pipeline and the Baltic Pipeline System (BPS)— and its various corridor links into the Western Europe energy market.

It should be noted that Russia has established as part of the Druzhba pipeline network, a pipeline corridor which transits through Belarus, thereby bypassing the Ukraine. (See Maps 2 and 3 below)

The Baltic Pipeline System (BPS) also operated by Russia’s Transneft links Samara to Russia’s oil tanker terminal at Primorsk in the Gulf of Finland. (See map below) It carries crude oil from Russia’s Western Siberian region to both North and Western European markets.

Another strategic pipeline system, largely controlled by Russia, is the Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC). The CPC  is a joint venture arrangement between Russia and Kazakhstan, with shareholder participation from a number of Middle East oil companies.

The Baltic Pipeline System (BPS) is tied into the Atyrau-Samara (AS) pipeline, which is a joint venture between Russia’s Transneft and Kazakhstan’s national pipeline operator, KazTransOil. The AS pipeline in turn links up with the Russia-Kazakhstan Caspian Petroleum Consortium (CPC), which pumps Tengiz crude oil from Atyrau (Western Kazakhstan) to the CPC’s Russian tanker terminal near Novorossiysk on the Black Sea.

On July 10, 2008, barely a week following the GUAM Summit, Transneft and KazTransOil  announced that they were in talks to expand the capacity of the Atyrau-Samara pipeline from 16 to 26 million tons of oil per year. (RBC Daily, July 10, 2008).

The GUAM Transportation Corridor

The GUAM governments represented at the Batumi GUAM Summit also approved the further development of The GUAM Transportation Corridor (GTC), which complements the controversial Baku Tblisi Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline. The latter links the Caspian Sea basin to the Eastern Mediterranean, via Georgia and Turkey, totally bypassing Russian territory. The BTC pipeline is controlled by a oil consortium led by British Petroleum.

Both the GTC and the BTC corridors are protected militarily by GUAM and NATO.

The GTC corridor would connect the Azeri capital of Baku on the Caspian sea to the Georgian ports of Poti/ Batumi on the Black Sea, which would then link up with the Ukrainian Black sea port of Odessa. (And From Odessa, through maritime and land routes to Western and Northern Europe).


Map No 2: Strategic Pipeline Routes. BTC, Friendship Pipeline, Baltic Pipeline System (BPS), CPC, AS

Map No. 3. Russia’s Druzhba pipeline system


Map No 4  Eastern Europe. Plock on the Vistula

The Baku Tblisi Ceyan (BTC) Pipeline

The BTC pipeline dominated by British Petroleum and inaugurated in 2006 at the height of the war on Lebanon, has dramatically changed the geopolitics of the Eastern Mediterranean, which is now linked, through an energy corridor, to the Caspian sea basin:

“[The BTC pipeline] considerably changes the status of the region’s countries and cements a new pro-West alliance. Having taken the pipeline to the Mediterranean, Washington has practically set up a new bloc with Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey and Israel, ” (Komerzant, Moscow, 14 July 2006)


Map No 5. The Baku, Tblisi Ceyan pipeline (BTC)

Pipeline Geopolitics and the Role of Israel

Israel is now part of the Anglo-American military axis, which serves the interests of the Western oil giants in the Middle East and Central Asia. Not surprisingly, Israel has military cooperation agreements with Georgia and Azerbaijan.

While the official reports state that the BTC pipeline will “channel oil to Western markets”, what is rarely acknowledged is that part of the oil from the Caspian sea would be directly channeled towards Israel. In this regard, an underwater Israeli-Turkish pipeline project has been envisaged which would link Ceyhan to the Israeli port of Ashkelon and from there through Israel’s main pipeline system, to the Red Sea.

The objective of Israel is not only to acquire Caspian sea oil for its own consumption needs but also to play a key role in re-exporting Caspian sea oil back to the Asian markets through the Red Sea port of Eilat. The strategic implications of this re-routing of Caspian sea oil are farreaching.

What is envisaged is to link the BTC pipeline to the Trans-Israel Eilat-Ashkelon pipeline, also known as Israel’s Tipline, from Ceyhan to the Israeli port of Ashkelon. (For further details, see Michel Chossudovsky, The War on Lebanon and the Battle for Oil, Global Research, 26 July 2006)


Map No 6. Trans-Israel Eilat-Ashkelon pipeline

America’s Silk Road Strategy: The Trans-Eurasian Security System

The Silk Road Strategy (SRS) constitutes an essential building block of US foreign policy in the post-Cold War era.

The SRS was formulated as a bill presented to the US Congress in 1999. It called for the creation of an energy and transport corridor network linking Western Europe to Central Asia and eventually to the Far East.

The Silk Road Strategy is defined as a “trans-Eurasian security system”. The SRS calls for the  “militarization of the Eurasian corridor” as an integral part of the “Great Game”. The stated objective, as formulated under the proposed March 1999 Silk Road Strategy Act, is to develop America’s business empire along an extensive geographical corridor.

While the 1999 SRS legislation (HR 3196) was adopted by the House of Representatives, it never became law. Under the Bush administration, the Silk Road Strategy became the basis of US-NATO  interventionism, largely with a view to integrating the former Soviet republics of the South Caucasus and Central Asia into the US sphere of influence.

The successful implementation of the SRS required the concurrent “militarization” of the entire Eurasian corridor from the Eastern Mediterranean to China’s Western frontier bordering onto Afghanistan, as a means to securing control over extensive oil and gas reserves, as well as “protecting” pipeline routes and trading corridors. The invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001 supported American strategic objectives in Central Asia including the control of pipeline corridors. Afghanistan is also a strategic landbridge linking the extensive oil wealth of the Caspian Sea basin to the Arabian Sea.

The militarization process under the SRS is largely directed against China, Russia and Iran. The SRS, called for:

“The development of strong political, economic, and security ties among countries of the South Caucasus and Central Asia and the West [which] will foster stability in this region, which is vulnerable to political and economic pressures from the south, north, and east. [meaning Russia to the North, Iraq, Iran and the Middle East to the South and China to the East] (106th Congress, Silk Road Strategy Act of 1999)

The adoption of a neoliberal policy agenda under advice from the IMF and the World Bank is an integral part of the SRS, which seeks to foster “open market economies… [which] will provide positive incentives for international private investment, increased trade, and other forms of commercial interactions”. (Ibid).

Strategic access to South Caucasus and Central Asian oil and gas is a central feature of the Silk Road Strategy:

“The region of the South Caucasus and Central Asia could produce oil and gas in sufficient quantities to reduce the dependence of the United States on energy from the volatile Persian Gulf region.” (Ibid)

The SRS is also intent upon preventing the former Soviet republics from developing their own economic, political and military cooperation ties as well as establishing broad ties up with China, Russia and Iran. (See Michel Chossudovsky, America’s “War on Terrorism”, Global Research, Montreal, 2005).

In this regard, the formation of GUAM, which was launched in 1997, was intended to integrate the former Soviet republics into military cooperation arrangements with the US and NATO, which would prevent them from reestablishing their ties with the Russian Federation.

Under the 1999 SRS Act, the term “countries of the South Caucasus and Central Asia” means Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. (106th Congress, Silk Road Strategy Act of 1999).

The US strategy has, in this regard, not met its stated objective: Whereas Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Georgia have become de facto US protectorates, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Armenia and Belarus are, from a geopolitical standpoint, aligned with Moscow.

This extensive Eurasian network of transport and energy corridors has been defined by Washington as part of an American sphere of influence:

“In the Caspian-Black Sea Region, the European Union and the United States have concentrated on setting up a reliable logistics chain to connect Central Asia with the European Union via the Central Caucasus and Turkey/Ukraine. The routes form the centerpiece of INOGATE (an integrated communication system along the routes taking hydrocarbon resources to Europe) and TRACECA (the multi-channel Europe-Caucasus-Asia corridor) projects.

The TRACECA transportation and communication routes grew out of the idea of the Great Silk Road (the traditional Eurasian communication channel of antiquity). It included Georgian and Turkish Black Sea ports (Poti, Batumi, and Ceyhan), railways of Georgia and Azerbaijan, the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, ferry lines that connect Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan with Azerbaijan across the Caspian Sea/Lake (Turkmenbashi-Baku; Aktau-Baku), railways and highways now being built in Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and China, as well as Chinese Pacific terminals as strategically and systemically important parts of the mega-corridor.” (See GUAM and the Trans-Caspian Gas Transportation Corridor: Is it about Politics or Economics?),

The Kazakhstan-China Natural Gas Pipeline (KCP)

Barely a few days following the GUAM Summit in Batumi, China and Kazakhstan announced (July 9, 2008) the commencement of construction work of a 1,300-kilometer natural gas pipeline. The inaugural ceremony was held  near Kazakhstan’s capital Almaty.

The pipeline which is to be constructed in several stages is expected to start pumping gas in 2010. (See, July 9, 2008)

“The new transit route is part of a larger project to build two parallel pipelines connecting China with Central Asia’s vast natural gas reserves. The pipes will stretch more than 7,000 kilometers from Turkmenistan, cross Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, and enter China’s northwestern Xinjiang region. Uzbekistan started construction of its part this month while Turkmenistan launched its segment last year.” (Ibid)

Map No 7. Kazakhstan-China natural gas pipeline (KCP)

China’s National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) which is  the leading operator of the consortium, “has signed deals with state oil and gas firms of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan giving them 50 percent stakes in their respective parts of the pipeline.”

The KPC pipeline project encroaches upon US strategic interests in Eurasia. It undermines the logic of America’s Silk Road Strategy. The KPC is part of a competing Eurasian based transportation and energy strategy, largely dominated by Russia, Iran and China.

Competing Eurasian Strategy protected by the SCO-CSTO Military Alliance

The competing Eurasian based corridors are protected (against US-NATO encroachment) by two regional military alliances: the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO)

The SCO is a military alliance between Russia and China and several Central Asian former Soviet republics including Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Iran has observer status in the SCO.

The Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), which plays a key geopolitical role in relation to transport and energy corridors, operates in close liaison with the SCO. The CSTO regroups the following member states: Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

Of significance, since 2006, the SCO and the CSTO member countries have conducted joint war games and are actively collaborating with Iran.

In October 2007, the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) signed a Memorandum of Understanding, laying the foundations for military cooperation between the two organizations. This SCO-CSTO agreement, barely mentioned by the Western media, involves the creation of a full-fledged military alliance between China, Russia and the member states of SCO/CSTO. It is worth noting that the SCTO and the SCO held joint military exercises in 2006, which coincided with those conducted by Iran. (For further details see Michel Chossudovsky, Russia and Central Asian Allies Conduct War Games in Response to US Threats, Global Research, August 2006)

While remaining distinct from an organizational standpoint, in practice, these two regional military alliances (SCO and SSTO) constitute a single military block, which confronts US-NATO expansionism in Central Asia and the Caucasus.

Full Circle

The US-NATO protected SRS Eurasian transport and energy corridors, are slated to link Central Asia to the Far East, as outlined in the Silk Road Strategy. At present, the Eastward corridors linking Central Asia to China are protected militarily by the SCO-CSTO.

In terms of Washington’s global military and strategic agenda, the Eurasian corridors contemplated under the SRS would inevitably encroach upon China’s territorial sovereignty.The proposed US-NATO-GUAM pipeline and transportation corridors are intended to connect, at some future date, with the proposed transport and energy corridors in the Western hemisphere, including those envisaged under the North American Security Prosperity Partnership (SPP).

The Security Prosperity Partnership (SPP) is to North America what the Silk Road Strategy (SRS) is to the Caucasus and Central Asia. They are strategic regional constructs of America’s business empire. They are the building blocks of the New World Order.

The SPP is the result of a similar process of strategic planning, militarization and free market economic integration, largely based on the control of strategic resources including energy and water, as well as the ” protection” of energy and transportation corridors (land and maritime routes ) from Alaska and Canada’s Arctic to Central America and the Caribbean basin.

Author’s Note: This article has focused selectively on key pipeline corridors with a view to analyzing broad geopolitical and strategic issues.
An examination of the overall network of Eurasian pipeline corridors would require a far more detailed and comprehensive presentation

Michel Chossudovsky is the author of the international bestseller America’s “War on Terrorism” Global Research, 2005.


To order Chossudovsky’s book

America’s “War on Terrorism”, click here

© Copyright Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, 2008

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