At the same time, the global weather is turning extreme again - this time in the form of torrential rain and floods. In some countries the storms have come after harsh droughts. Such drastic changes destroy crops and affect our food supply, which in turn affect food prices. This would not be the first time the world has faced a food crisis, but now it comes two years into an economic recession that more are beginning to realise is a full-blown 'depression'. As people reach their limits of desperation, they are more likely to take to the streets to voice their anger.
Our leaders, however, are showing no interest in covering the basic needs of the masses nor delivering economic justice. On the contrary, war is all they wish to bring, starting with the Middle East.
Food Crisis Redux
Climate change is leading to poor harvests and crop failures which in turn are leading to higher food prices. This is affecting the poorer countries disproportionately as most of the income of the world's poorest people (and they number in the billions) goes towards food. The following excerpt discusses the case of sugar but the pattern is repeated for other crops:
Raw-Sugar Futures May Rally as 'Weird Weather' Curbs SupplyAs we reported last month, Russia, the third largest exporter of wheat, has banned the exportation of all grains after an unusually hot summer caused forest fires that destroyed as much as a third of its cereal crops. The situation is dire as Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has announced the ban will not be lifted before next year's harvest. The dry weather also hurt crops in Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Argentina, the United States and the European Union. Floods in Canada, China, Pakistan and Indonesia had a similar effect. Crops affected include wheat, maize, soy and sugar. The world is clearly unprepared if India's case is an example. This country's huge amounts of grain reserves are rotting in storage.
[...] "We have very low stocks of sugar around the world and we have a number of weather problems that are threatening to affect production," Managing Director [of broker Kingsman SA] Jonathan Kingsman said today in a telephone interview from Lausanne in Switzerland. "It's a combination that's making people bullish."
Prices have jumped 54 percent from a 13-month low reached on May 7 on signs that damage from drought in Russia and floods in Pakistan would spur imports. Russia said last week its output may be 20 percent smaller than forecast and Pakistan said Aug. 16 it may start buying raw sugar by December to make up for the deficit. Production in Indonesia, Southeast Asia's largest buyer, may miss a target due to heavy rain, the government said Aug. 19.
"The weather is weird all over the place," said Kingsman, who's hosting a conference next week in New Delhi. "We have terrible floods in Pakistan, a mix of floods and dry weather in China and wet weather in Indonesia. If the problems get worse, then the market could explode on the upside."
It is instructive to remember what happened in 2008 when the world faced the same situation as the one now unfolding. As 37 countries experienced "serious food crises", protests, strikes and riots erupted in Egypt, Haiti, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Mauritania, Ethiopia, Madagascar, the Philippines and Indonesia. This time around, Mozambique has already seen clashes with the police where seven people have been killed and hundreds left injured after the price of bread rose by 25 percent at the beginning of September. Following "an enormous number" of inquiries over concerns "about a possible repeat of the 2007-08 food crisis", the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation is discussing the shortages, pointing out that the situation is "quite serious" as "two years in a row without Russian exports creates quite a disturbance".
bought all of Europe's cocoa in July. Did the mysterious speculator see a food crisis coming and estimate that cocoa - of all things - would be in high demand? Rather than cocoa, wheat derivative are a staple ingredient in many processed foods and, as such, an increase in wheat price affects the price of many other foods. In the UK, for example, shoppers are facing a 10 per cent rise in grocery bills as wheat and meat prices soar.
Maize genetically modified by the infamous agribusiness giant Monsanto failed to produce kernels in 2009 and hundreds of South African farmers' livelihoods were devastated. Monsanto's aggressive patenting practices have monopolized control over their 'Franken-seeds' in ways that deny farmers control over their own harvest, going so far as to sue - and bankrupt - farmers for "patent infringement". Now it has been revealed that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation - which dares to call itself 'philanthropic' - has invested $23.1 million in Monsanto. put it, "under the guise of "sustainability" the Foundation has been spearheading a multi-billion dollar effort to transform Africa into a GMO-friendly continent." 'Helping' Africa by flooding it with questionable GMO food which is unreliable at best, but most likely dangerous and definitely patented and thus controllable is one method of 'population control' that is being used. The South African Freeze Alliance on Genetic Engineering (SAFeAGE), explains:
"It has nothing to do with helping Africans, but with helping themselves. If a farmer agrees to switch to GM crops, he or she will be tied to the seeds provided by the seed company.The food shortages are having unforeseen consequences. Most of the US and Canadian grain is genetically modified; up to 80 or 90 percent of soy, corn and cotton growing in the US is GMO. Russia and Ukraine's ban on grain exports have thus given a complete global market advantage for US GM crops to step in and absorb some of the global demand.
"This process precludes the saving of seeds for the next year. This means the farmer will have to buy seeds every year, which is profitable to the company."
The Great BP 'Oil Clean-Up' Scam
dipped his feet for a couple of minutes in the stinking waters of a Florida beach and announced that "beaches all along the Gulf Coast are clean, safe and open for business" in a publicity stunt that seemed more appropriate for a Simpsons episode than real life. Indeed, contrary to the rosy picture painted by Obama's irresponsible call for ordinary Americans to "come on down here, not just to support the region, but also because it's a beautiful place to visit," the facts tell a different story that will persist for decades. It's not only a matter of how long the oil will take to biodegrade or be cleaned up. Scientists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) discovered a massive plume of hydrocarbons from the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico measuring at least 22 miles long, more than 3,000 feet below the ocean's surface. Their study, published in the August 19 issue of Science, claims that although the oil droplets that make up the plume are too small for the eye to see, samples of the plume analyzed confirmed the existence of benzene, toluene, ethybenzene, and xylenes. The team saw no signs that microorganisms were degrading the oil.
Researchers at the University of Georgia have concluded that 80 percent of the oil, representing up to 3.2 million barrels of the black gunk, still remains in the ecosystem. We suspect this may be a very optimistic assessment as it does not take into account the newly discovered plume and we doubt that BP has managed to recover the claimed 20 percent. It does not take a scientist to see that the oil did not magically disappear as BP claims. Rather, the toxic dispersant Corexit sank it to the bottom of the sea floor. In this way, BP and the US government sought to "mortgage" the cost of the clean-up over many years, if indeed it can be cleaned up at all. The chances are that the damage has already been done to the world's eco-systems, but the real repercussions are yet to be felt. This winter may bring some nasty surprises!
A man named Steve who was hired to help in the clean-up effort described what he saw to Counterpunch:
"It's as if a nuclear apocalypse has gone off in the Gulf," he said. "The media is not telling the truth. No one is telling the truth. Let me tell you something. Yesterday on the beach where we work, my crew cleaned up seven hundred bags of oil. Today we went back and the beach was completely covered in oil, as if we had never been there. Today we carried away another seven hundred and fifty bags. Every day we clean up, then the tide brings it in again. The oil is everywhere, deep under the sand. Today I wanted to measure the oil, so I stuck my shovel into the sand and the oil was down there eight inches deep."Critical not only for the ecosystem but compounding the economic woe and the food crisis discussed above, scientists have found evidence that oil has become toxic to marine organisms in the Gulf breeding grounds of commercially important fish species. According to Dr. Nyman of Louisiana State University, marine life may recover relatively quickly from oil exposure (assuming that the oil is eventually cleaned up), but the same cannot be said for exposure to the toxic mixture of Corexit and oil, from which sea creatures require two or three times as much time to recover. Local fishermen say that marine animals such as crabs and stingrays that normally stay deep in the water have lately been seen on the surface "as if they were trying to escape the water."
explosion of yet another oil rig, this one belonging to Mariner Energy of Houston, located about 200 miles west of the BP spill site. The fire sent its crew of 13 into the water, injuring one. The Coast Guard reported that an oil sheen a mile long and 100 feet wide has spread from the site. As for the cause of the fire, it is either not known or we are simply not being told - and we are not holding our breath for the truth.
There is also great cause for concern about the possibility that hurricanes will carry toxic pollutants over the US mainland. After a slow start, hurricane season has finally kicked into gear with Danielle and Earl, and tropical storm Hermine. These have not yet strongly impacted the Gulf region but according to one hurricane forecast what we've seen so far is just the beginning of a very busy season that may bring 18 tropical storms, out of which 10 could be hurricanes. Contrary to what the following video states, it is not just a possibility but rather a virtual certainty that the poisonous oil/Corexit mixture will be carried further inland within the next three months. The question is when and how far, but it could be as far north as New England.
In a more sane world, we might expect that any corporation responsible for ecocide that will soon directly affect half the USA (and the whole of the Northern Hemisphere if the Gulf Stream shuts down) would accept its responsibility and make the preservation of life on Earth its first and only priority, regardless of the financial cost. If said corporation did not meet the bare minimum of respect for life, then you would expect the government to take matters into its own hands and force it to do the right thing. Unfortunately we don't live in a sane world, and things happen very differently here on our psychopath-controlled planet. For starters, BP seems far more concerned with its image than with reality, paying its mercenaries to apply Corexit at night while telling the public that it is not being used. BP also spent $93 million dollars on propaganda (advertisements) from April to the end of July. BP also spent $89.5 million on grants to four Gulf Coast states - Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana - to promote tourism in the wake of the oil spill. But wait - shouldn't the mess be cleaned up first before enticing tourists? Not when profit takes precedence over health.
All those millions could have gone to clean-up efforts, but BP wants only to save face and ensure it can continue operating and reaping massive profits. Indeed, BP had the audacity to threaten Congress that if lawmakers pass legislation that bars the company from receiving new offshore drilling permits, it may not have the money to pay for all the damages caused by its oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. It's hard to beat that psychopathic logic. But after all we have learned about BP these past months we shouldn't be surprised. What else could we expect of a company that threatened a chemist who found Corexit in Orange Beach Alabama waters.
Then there is the BP Contractor who was fatally hit by a car, heart attack suffered by a BP executive and Matt Simmons, two BP contractors who apparently committed suicide, and the mysterious plane crash that caused the death of Alaskan Senator Ted Stevens.
Not only does BP have the the local police and Federal officials on their payroll but BP also hired civilian mercenaries and it is rumored that the may have even hired the CIA's favorite Iraqi death squad, Xe Services, the company, formerly known as Blackwater.
As for the government's role, we have already read about Obama's beach-boy antics and know that the government has basically given control of the crime scene to the criminals, but there is more. Rather than doing its job, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is failing to test Gulf seafood for mercury, arsenic or other toxic heavy metals, because the FDA "doesn't expect to see an increase of these toxins from the oil spill." Perhaps FDA officials have been on holiday over the past few months, but it should be obvious to anyone that an increase in toxins is precisely what is to be expected from the oil spill and the use of Corexit. Oil is a complex mixture of substances like benzene, heavy metals, arsenic, and polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons. Corexit is simply.... well.... poison.
If there are no toxins to be expected in the seafood, maybe the FDA could humor us and double-check anyway? Or could it be, by any chance, that the FDA simply does not want us to discover the amount of toxins in our food? Is that a conspiracy too far?
The FDA's hubris comes into full view when we read that a family living an hour from Tampa fell ill and developed skin rashes, not from swimming in the Gulf but in their own swimming pool which was found to be contaminated with 2-butoxyethanol, a key ingredient in Corexit. Fish have been dying by the thousands at the mouth of the Mississipi river, in Walton County, Florida, and Venice, Lousiana. Hello? FDA? Are you there?
There is also the alarming possibility that the oil from the spill may be radioactive as a result of naturally occurring radioactive materials that are likely to be found in deep oil drilling, although so far this has not been confirmed.
When it Rains, it Pours
As we reported last month, the oil in the Gulf of Mexico has disrupted the Gulf Loop current and if it fails to realign itself, it will disrupt the Gulf Stream which prevents both sides of the North Atlantic from experiencing an Arctic climate. If this happens, the effects will be so profound and the consequences so far reaching that it will redefine the term 'natural catastrophe'. Because of this, some meteorologists are expecting this winter in Europe to be the coldest in the last 1,000 years!
third of its territory under water, more than twenty million people affected, out of which six million are homeless, three million have yet to receive any aid and one million are facing starvation.
The suffering of so many people should give us all pause to reflect. In spite of this, the financial aid for Pakistan has lagged far behind that offered to victims of the Haiti earthquake and other recent disasters. Is this perhaps a direct effect of the 'war on terror' propaganda? Would the US get away with its ongoing drone-bombing campaign without the pyramid of lies and misconceptions built over many years, especially since 9/11? In contrast, the Muslim world seems more disposed to sending aid. Rather than helping, the West appears to be more interested in filling its pockets via IMF pressure over maintaining key pro-market reforms - including ending energy subsidies and raising indirect taxes - that will further devastate millions of people in Pakistan.
To the north, Russia's summer drought has been replaced by hurricane force winds and torrential rain. Indonesia is also suffering under "a super-extreme weather this year, the first time in history," consisting of record rainfall. On the other side of the globe, Guatemala is going through its wettest rainy season for 67 years, prompting its president to declare a state of emergency.
Similar stories are unfolding in many other parts of the world. The list includes floods in Australia and England, storms in Spain and Sweden, and more floods in China and North Korea.
Global Warming Gaffe Redux
Considering the ongoing propaganda, you could be forgiven for thinking that storms are the direct result of 'global warming'. We, however, think that matters are more complex than that. Climate change can hardly be denied, but can the 'global warming' scenario account for what happened last winter? Can it explain that Scotland had its first snowfall of 'this year's winter season' in August, or that during the Southern Hemisphere's recent winter Bolivia's rivers were emptied of fish by the cold, in what is the biggest ecological disaster that country has known? Contrary to 'warmist-wisdom', sea levels have not risen at all since measurements began in 1993. The anomalies recorded are the result of ocean depressions and weather phenomena like El Nino and cyclones - not melting ice-caps.
In fact, the global warming campaign has undergone yet another embarrassing episode after an anonymous member of the public spotted satellite data showing a handful of temperature records for the Great Lakes hiked up by literally hundreds of degrees to substantially inflate the average temperature range for the northeastern US. As a result, the average temperatures for the US are shown to be 10 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit above what they really are. It was on the basis of these readings that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported a succession of "record warm summers" in recent years. The story of the incorrect data has now been confirmed by NOAA's Program Coordinator, Chuck Pistis, and the original heat map removed from their website.
hide the decline'. All the while, scientists who dare challenge the theory of 'global warming' and its allegedly anthropocentric origins are marginalized as 'heretics.' One of the reasons for the prevalent narrow-mindedness seems to be the $2.7 billion carbon emissions market overseen by the UN - a scheme that effectively permits polluters to pay their way towards polluting some more. So much for the aspirations of mainstream science to truth and knowledge.
The scientific establishment is being used to keep the public distracted and ignorant about other potentially catastrophic and disruptive issues for society. Scientists would do better to explore, for example, whether the observed increase in the brightness and frequency of noctilucent clouds over the last 27 years is caused by a build-up of cosmic dust in the upper layers of the atmosphere, given that their appearances are highly correlated with the presence of micrometeors. Astute observers recognize that a recent and significant increase in levels of cosmic dust in this region of space increases the probability of asteroid or cometary impacts on the horizon. And then, changes in the atmosphere could also have a connection to solar activity:
Shrinking Atmospheric Layer Linked to Low Levels of Solar RadiationLow solar activity points to ice ages, not global warming. In fact:
Results of a study published today link a recent, temporary shrinking of a high atmospheric layer with a sharp drop in the sun's ultraviolet radiation levels. The research, led by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colo., and the University of Colorado at Boulder (CU), indicates that the sun's magnetic cycle, which produces differing numbers of sunspots over an approximately 11-year cycle, may vary more than previously thought. [...]
Earlier this year, a team of scientists from the Naval Research Laboratory and George Mason University, measuring changes in satellite drag, estimated that the density of the thermosphere declined in 2007-09 to about 30 percent less than during the previous solar minimum in 1996. [...]
[CU professor and co-author Thomas Woods] says the research indicates that the sun could be going through a period of relatively low activity, similar to periods in the early 19th and 20th centuries.
This could mean that solar output may remain at a low level for the near future.
"If it is indeed similar to certain patterns in the past, then we expect to have low solar cycles for the next 10 to 30 years," Woods says.
Scientists studying sunspots for the past 2 decades have concluded that the magnetic field that triggers their formation has been steadily declining. If the current trend continues, by 2016 the sun's face may become spotless and remain that way for decades - a phenomenon that in the 17th century coincided with a prolonged period of cooling on Earth.The scientific community's time and money would be much better spent monitoring seismic and volcanic activity. Here is a sample from the last 30 days:
The food crisis discussed above comes at a terrible time when the world has had to endure a global economic crisis courtesy of a sub-species (psychopaths) interested only in maintaining its own dominance by any means.
While higher food prices will hit poorer countries harder, in wealthier countries the economic Powers That Be are reducing the standard of living of the vast majority of people. The large multinational corporations, with help from ever-friendly governments in Europe, Asia and North America, have used the economic downturn to impose austerity programs for workers in wealthier countries. And by workers, we mean anyone who has to work for a living and who cannot survive on their investments alone.
The media's job is to convince us that it is "necessary", and even inevitable, that social programs and basic public services must be 'liquified' to feed the voracious banking and financial sector. Ismael Hossein-Zadeh describes the role of the elite media in the "Race to the Bottom":
The fact remains, however, that the kleptocratic rulers in the US, EU, and other debt-burdened countries know exactly what they are doing: to let the recession drag on, to take advantage of the crushing recession in order to extract "enough" concessions from the working people until welfare states are dismantled and labor costs in the more developed capitalist countries are made competitive with those of the less-developed countries. This explains why despite new signs of further global economic contraction, the reigning governments in these countries (whether they are nominally headed by Socialist, Social-Democratic, Labor, Democratic, Conservative or other parties) are maintaining their coordinated abstention from expansive or stimulating fiscal policies while continuing their brutal spending cuts on health, education, wages, pensions, and the like....In a similar vein, The Times further opined:
As writer/reporter Patrick O'Connor points out, "In the US, Europe and other advanced capitalist economies, the aim is permanently reducing the living standards of working people....
Through its editorials and columnists such as Thomas Friedman, The New York Times has been playing a leading role in preparing the American public to accept the new, protracted phase of economic challenges, and to reconcile with lower standards of living. Here is an example of how Friedman explains the need for belt-tightening:Welcome to the lean years. Yes sir, we've just had our 70 fat years in America, thanks to the Greatest Generation and the bounty of freedom and prosperity they built for us. And in these past 70 years, leadership - whether of the country, a university, a company, a state, a charity, or a township - has largely been about giving things away, building things from scratch, lowering taxes or making grants. . . . Indeed, to lead now is to trim, to fire or to downsize services, programs or personnel. We've gone from the age of government handouts to the age of citizen givebacks.
American workers are overpaid, relative to equally productive employees elsewhere doing the same work. If the global economy is to get into balance, that gap must close.... The global wage gap has been narrowing, but recent labor market statistics in the United States suggest the adjustment has not gone far enough.Without using blunt words such as "the need to cut wages," President Obama also frequently preaches to the American people to be prepared for the looming lean years: "We must lay a new foundation for growth and prosperity - a foundation that will move us from an era of borrow and spend to one where we save and invest; where we consume less at home and send more exports abroad."Obviously, by "we" Mr. Obama means the working class and the general public, not the ruling Kleptocracy; and by "consume less" he means earn less, get used to a lower standard of living - because wages, benefits, pensions and all kinds of social safety net programs are going to be cut or eliminated.
The pathologicals' vice grip of the economy was vividly displayed in Atlanta last month as a crowd of 30,000 people fought over a limited supply of housing applications that, if successful, would only have placed them on a list for public housing that doesn't actually exist.
It is symptomatic of what is happening around the world. In 2009 alone, the number of young people out of work globally rose by 6.6 million. In contrast, during the ten-year period prior to the current crisis the number of unemployed youth increased, on average, by 192,000 per year.
In their efforts to push wages in the more developed countries down toward slave wages, the powerful financial interests (and the ruling kleptocracy in general) are pursuing multiple objectives. An obvious objective is, of course, to pay for the gambling losses of the Wall Street swindlers. Another objective is to make US producers more competitive in global markets, a strategy of export promotion at the expense of the working class that President Obama calls National Export Initiative: "Boosting America's exports strengthens our economic growth and supports millions of good, high-paying American jobs. That's why I set a goal during my State of the Union address to double our exports over the next five years." Stripped from its Orwellian veneer, the President's "national export initiative" simply means bringing US wages and benefits down on a par with those of China, Vietnam, India, and other less-developed countries so that American manufacturers can compete more effectively in international markets.As Hossein-Zadeh mentioned, the 'austerity initiative' is being implemented throughout the developed world. In Germany the entire political class, business community and labor unions have united around the need for lower wages and cutbacks in social services, despite the relative health of the German economy.
These are ghastly Neoliberal policies of super exploitation that are sometimes called "the race to the bottom," or competing backward to the Dickensian days of working class misery. Naomi Klein has aptly called this sinister strategy "the shock doctrine," a strategy that takes advantage of the overwhelming crisis times to implement Neoliberal austerity programs and redistribute national resources from the bottom up.
Of course, the Neoliberal strategy of dismantling the welfare state and driving the labor pay down to slave wages is not limited to the United States. Downward competition is pursued in other advanced capitalist countries as well. Indeed, the competitive capitalist pressure of profitability and survival has driven almost all countries of the world to participate in this retrogressive (but capitalistically rational!) race to the bottom.
In the United Kingdom, the new Conservative prime minister, David Cameron is implementing draconian cuts in social services without any pretense that they will be restored should the economic outlook improve. The complete lack of hope inevitably leads to a crisis in consumer confidence.
Greece is coming apart because the austerity measures imposed on it by the European Union have destroyed the economy, leading a prominent German economist to warn of impending civil war.
In the United States, the Obama administration has adopted a strategy to revive U.S. manufacturing by offering U.S. workers as low-wage alternatives. The "resurgence," for example, of the auto industry engineered by Obama was accomplished by massive cuts in wages and benefits. In much the same way that the government took toxic assets off the hands of the big banks, leading to the return of record bank profits, the U.S. government takeover of the supposedly bankrupt General Motors allowed the company to shed commitments to its union workers and retirees. The return to profitability of American automakers on the backs of workers and retirees was celebrated by Wall Street and the president in August. Corporate profitability and manufacturing have increased, keeping the stock market afloat, despite a sharp drop mid-month.
The same financial parasites in charge of the big banks have been taking over manufacturing industries. As we saw with Germany, a unanimous consensus between government, media, business and labor pushes the process forward in the best interests of the few.
As Tom Eley and Barry Grey wrote, the Obama strategy is actually to make the United States a center of low-wage manufacturing:
The breakdown of American and world capitalism is being utilized by the ruling class to carry through a drastic and permanent reduction in American workers' wages and living standards and raise the level of exploitation.People in the U.S. should think about that before they pay $300,000 for a house. If the elite achieve their goal, the housing market has a long way to fall and a lot of people will become bankrupt and homeless. The end result, throughout the world, will be an increase in suffering and insecurity for the vast majority and an increase in wealth for a small elite. All as a result of a deliberately engineered economic downturn.
This is a calculated policy of class war. It is being ruthlessly pursued by taking advantage of the misery and desperation caused by mass unemployment and the spread of home foreclosures, utility shutoffs, hunger and homelessness.
The Obama White House gave the signal for corporations to use layoffs and the threat of plant closures to slash wages by forcing General Motors and Chrysler into bankruptcy last year and insisting that the wages of newly hired workers be cut in half as the precondition for a government bailout of the auto companies.
Now, new workers at the auto companies are making the near-poverty wage of $14 an hour. And this is just the beginning, as the auto companies prepare to demand even deeper cuts in wages and benefits and the lifting of all restrictions on speedup. Similar demands are being made in every sector of the US economy.
The lowering of labor costs in the US toward the levels that exist in Asia is at the heart of the Obama administration's so-called "jobs" program. Having ruled out any government job-creation programs and abandoned even its own paltry stimulus proposals, and having refused to provide aid to bankrupt state and local governments, the White House and congressional Democrats are touting a pledge to double US exports in five years as their plan to reduce the highest levels of unemployment since the Great Depression.
At the heart of this strategy is slashing the cost of American labor and on this basis reviving US manufacturing as a cheap-labor platform for exports to global markets. The shifting of operations from India to the US is undoubtedly being celebrated both in Washington and on Wall Street as evidence of the initial success of this ruthless policy.
Wage and benefit-cutting has hit every part of the US working class: factory workers, teachers, government employees, and service workers; whites, blacks, Hispanics; US-born and immigrants; women and men; teenagers and workers with decades of experience. Last week the Commerce Department reported that private sector wages fell 6 percent in 2009.
It is on this basis that corporations are again reporting fat profits and CEOs are continuing to reward themselves with seven and eight-digit compensation packages.
The success the corporate elite has so far enjoyed in implementing this policy is above all due to the collaboration of the AFL-CIO and the Change to Win union federations. Every union, whether it claims to represent teachers, auto workers, mine workers or government employees, seeks to impose employers' demands for wage cuts in the name of "saving jobs."
This assault on wages, and the complicity of the trade unions, is not simply an American, but rather an international phenomenon. The Financial Times article noted that the Indian-based IT outsourcing company Wipro Technologies has "started to recruit workers in Europe, the Middle East and African during the global economic downturn."
Israel's Next War
ordered massive military fuel stocks far in excess of that required for normal murder operations. The order valued at $2 billion included 282 million gallons of JP-8 jet fuel along with 160 million gallons of gasoline and diesel fuel. The article's author reasoned that an attack on Iran would not require fuel for any ground incursion and concluded that the intention must be an invasion of Lebanon, Gaza and the West Bank once the attack against Iran has been launched. He pointed out that jet fuel does not have a long shelf life and wondered whether this is an indication that the final confrontation is imminent.
Signs that Israel's neighbors are on heightened alert for a possible attack include Lebanon being subjected to an increase in Israeli airspace violations. The Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah has formed a joint headquarters with the Syrian army to coordinate the two military forces. Israel's ambassador to Washington, Michael Oren claims that Hezbollah has placed around 15,000 accurate, long-range rockets along Lebanon's border with Israel. Jordan was also provoked by Israel when it ordered Jordan Valley farmers to leave their land.
Israel has been stepping up its anti-Iran warmongering rhetoric to deafening levels. In a carbon copy rerun of the Iraq invasion build-up, any excuse to vilify and demonize Iran is hystericized out of all proportion by a complicit media. One such propaganda example is the media spinning of an Israeli "Iran stones women all the time"story. As we commented at the time, the story was first leaked by Radio Farda, the Iranian branch of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, a CIA propaganda mill, in conjunction with The Media Line, a Zionist propaganda mill. This Jerusalem Post article breached the story of the non-stoning to the mainstream media on June 30.
Just as with the photo of the girl/woman (depending on which account you believe) that went viral at the height of the CIA's failed "green revolution" - when Neda Soltani turned out not to be Neda Soltani - this current propaganda ploy is riddled with inconsistencies.
Israel's US partners-in-genocide such as the former envoy to the United Nations John Bolton, announced on Fox News that Israel has '8 days' to hit the Iran nuclear site. The '8 days' came and went but it was interesting to see that as the Russian-built Iranian nuclear reactor comes online, Israel and Russia signed a long-term military cooperation agreement. The Russian Armed Forces have already bought 12 Israeli unmanned aircraft and Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that Israel is "ready to share with the Russian military its experience in anti-terrorism and security measures."
The specific details of the agreement are unknown but it seems that all major geopolitical players are exploiting the 'war on terror' meme to build up their respective arsenals of weaponry. France is in on the act too, attempting to sell anti-tank missiles to Lebanon much to the alleged irritation of US lawmakers. However, the age-old tactic of arming all sides of a conflict is what America and it's allies do best.
Whether the combination of these events signify that Israel is intending an Iranian attack remains to be seen; this could just be Israel loud and obnoxious way of shifting focus away from its very real and daily assaults in what remains of Palestine.
How Not to Talk Peace
It's business as usual in Israel regarding their persecution of the Palestinian population. Despite the Orwellian double-speak of new U.S.-sponsored peace talks in Washington, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman was very clear in stating that a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians will not be achieved in the foreseeable future. In fact he said peace was impossible, "not next year and not for the next generation". Israel's right wing Government continued aggression and settlement expansion is a clear indication that Israel has no intention of reaching a peaceful agreement.
The Israeli right has an ongoing secret strategy that expressly seeks to derail peace efforts. The second most influential strategic consultant in Israel, as crowned by Forbes Magazine, is Moshe Klughaft. Klughaft was the behind-the-scenes leader of the reserve soldiers' struggle after the second Lebanon war, a struggle that hid a separate agenda of actively preventing the progress of the Gaza disengagement program.
ordered the destruction of 2 new mosques in the West Bank. On August 17th, six Israeli tanks crossed into the Gaza Strip and fired shells at a house of innocent Palestinians. Just two days after the launch of the so-called peace talks Israeli jets bombarded the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Yunis and tunnels in the city of Rafah, leaving a number of people wounded.
For the residents of Gaza, life is becoming critically oppressive and inhumane. The Gaza hospital chief warns that the lack of reliable fuel supplies is imperiling lives. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) compiled a report finding that over the last ten years, the Israeli Defense Forces have increasingly restricted Palestinian access to farmland on the Gazan side of the Israeli-Gaza border as well as to fishing zones along the Gaza's beaches. Israeli settlers on occupied Palestinian land have been wreaking destruction for the past 40 years and still today frequently commit crimes of shooting, stabbing, beating, running over Palestinians, stealing their land, property and water, razing agricultural land, uprooting trees and burning crops, stealing harvests, raiding houses and blocking roads. There are numerous harrowing personal accounts and witnesses to these horrendous acts.
One of the biggest problems is the extremest mentality of Israel's influential Zionist religious leaders. A rabbinical guidebook for killing non-Jews sparked uproar in Israel and exposed the power such genocidal zealots have over the government. The book contained 230 pages on the laws concerning the killing of non-Jews. In another example shortly before the alleged peace talks, influential Israeli Rabbi Ovadia Yosef announced at a sermon that God should strike the Palestinians and their leader with a plague and called for their death. Apparently even the dead pose a "demographic threat" in occupied Jerusalem: On 4th August 2010, Israeli bulldozers destroyed 15 tombs in the central Mamilla Cemetery in Jerusalem. And much like apartheid South Africa once was, the Israeli education ministry approved a new 'whites-only' settlement school.
There is some hope: A US group is planning to send an airplane loaded with humanitarian aid to Gaza. A Canadianboat is being planned this fall to deliver aid and also pick up goods for International export. The all-female Lebanese aid ship Mariam, full of cancer medicines, is also planning to break the siege. Absurdly Ehud Barak claims the goal of that mission is to kill Israelis.
Further promising news of resistance is brought by Israelis who are risking jail by signing up to campaign of civil disobedience. After Facebook images of an Israeli servicewoman posing with blindfolded Palestinians gathered worldwide attention, two former female conscripts spoke out about their own military experiences. It provides a much needed alternative picture to the media's compliant spinning of the IDF's self-description as the "most moral army in the world."
It is arguably the least moral army but with a well-financed and highly sophisticated PR machine behind it. The cracks in this image are showing now and it is encouraging to see worldwide condemnation and growing support against the illegal occupation of the Palestinian population.
No 'Al-Qaeda' - but the Afghan Show Must Go On
So it really should not be an earth-shattering surprise that the London based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) has issued a report stating what we knew all along:
The report, presided over by the former deputy director of Britain's foreign intelligence agency, MI-6, says the threat from al-Qaeda and Taliban has been "exaggerated" by the western powers. The US-led mission in Afghanistan has "ballooned" out of all proportion from its original aim of disrupting and defeating Al Qaeda. The US-led war in Afghanistan, says IISS, using uncharacteristically blunt language, is "a long-drawn-out disaster".In spite of the above, president Obama has 'softened' his previous statement of starting to withdraw US troops by July of next year. Whilst continuing to use that date as a rough guide, he now insists that any withdrawal will depend on the "conditions on the ground".
Just recently, CIA chief Leon Panetta admitted there were no more than 50 members of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. Yet US President Barack Obama has tripled the number of US soldiers there to 120,000 to fight Al Qaeda.
The IISS report goes on to acknowledge the presence of western troops in Afghanistan is actually fuelling national resistance. I saw the same phenomena during the 1980's Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.
Interestingly, the portion of the report overseen by the former MI-6 Secret Intelligence Service deputy chief, Nigel Inskster, finds little Al Qaeda threat elsewhere, notably in Somalia and Yemen. Yet Washington is beefing up its attacks on both turbulent nations.
He follows up this wide-open time frame by saying, "But make no mistake: this transition will begin because open-ended war serves neither our interests nor the Afghan people's." This contradictory message serves to keep the general public - and the armed forces personnel themselves - in a state of confusion as they try to reconcile the idea that troops won't be there for the long run, but they won't be leaving in the near future, either.
Between 65 and 75 coalition troops were killed in August. That's around seventy families who were told their children, parents, siblings, won't be returning home. The US government seems to be counting on the fact that their citizens will simply get used to this, evidenced by the fact that congress has just approved legislation for $1.3 billion dollars to go towards military constructions which indicate "that US military forces will be fighting there for years, if not decades, to come."
A notice seeking contractor bids placed on a US government web site last week maps out plans for the expansion of one of these US bases in Shindand, an airfield in western Afghanistan that had been used by the Soviet Army during its occupation of Afghanistan more than two decades ago.This extra funding for continued covert operations doesn't include "$5.3 billion in allocations for the construction of new facilities for the Afghan security forces, the Post reports, citing a Pentagon news release stating that most of these 'enduring facilities [are] scheduled for construction over the next three to four years.'"
The project is to include new runways, hangars, barracks, storage areas, a "weapons arming area" and other facilities. They are being built to accommodate the Special Operations troops used by Washington to carry out "targeted killings," i.e., assassinations, which have become a key component of the US war. They will also house a unit operating pilotless drone aircraft for purposes of "Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance" as well as missile attacks.
Anyone thinking the U.S. is planning on leaving Afghanistan had better think again. Lt. Gen. William Caldwell, in-charge of training Afghan security forces painted a picture at the Pentagon Press Corps on August 23rd which puts Obama's 'conditions on the ground' into context. One indication of how long it's going to take to hand over national security to Afghanistan itself is the high attrition rate among those freshly recruited for the job. High numbers of those trained simply "disappear" when their 17 weeks training is finished; many are killed in fighting. This means that:
...based on the current attrition rates, to grow the Afghan National Security Force the additional 56,000 needed to meet the 2011 goal of 305,000, we will need to recruit and train 141,000 soldiers and police. To put this into context, in order to meet the 2011 goal, we will need to recruit and train in the next 15 months approximately the same number as is the total strength of the Afghan Army today.daily basis throughout August. The director of an organisation which arranges pilgrimages to the Muslim holy city of Mecca, Mohammad Hassan Taimuri , was assassinated on September 1st. A motorcycle fitted with a remote controlled device was detonated as he left his office, killing him and one other person. With intensified US activity in the area, a fevered desire to increase and improve their capacity for covert assassinations, and previous proof of Special Forces conducting false flag attacks on civilians in US 'theaters of war', one would be forgiven for thinking that overt military action is not the only thing being conducted by the US in Kandahar at the moment.
Three Oxfam workers were killed by an 'improvised explosive device' on August 30th, forcing the organization to suspend their activities in the country, pending a security review. The attack coincided with a surprise visit from British deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, to British forces in the country. The main purpose of his visit appeared to be in reassuring the troops that progress is being made, and that, in "turning the corner," operations were set to start winding down in 2015.
The psychological and emotional affect that combat has on normal people is devastating. But perhaps those who are not psychologically normal find the theater of war a 'fun' place to be?
U.S. troops charged with murder of Afghan civiliansPakistan: Drowning in the Cross-Hairs
Twelve U.S. soldiers have been charged with gruesome crimes in Afghanistan ranging from murdering civilians to keeping body parts as war trophies -- revelations that the Pentagon said on Thursday damaged America's image around the world.
The infantry soldiers from the 5th Stryker Brigade based in Washington state deployed to Kandahar province a year ago and the murders occurred between January and March, according to charges by army prosecutors made public this week.
An Army spokeswoman said four of the soldiers have been charged for keeping body parts, which beyond finger bones and a skull include leg bones and a human tooth. It was unclear where the remains had come from based on the charge sheets.
While millions of people have been displaced and thousands killed by nature's rage in Pakistan since the beginning of August, still many are dying from sectarian violence and Pakistani/US air-strikes.
The first US drone strike since the devastating flooding happened on August 14th, killing at least 13 "unidentified militants," which basically means that they were civilians. On the same day a bus carrying ten Punjabis was stopped, the passengers escorted off, then murdered in cold blood by "an unknown group" of 30 to 35 gunmen. Meanwhile six people were killed whilst painting a house by two gunmen on motorbikes.
On August 20th, in the southern city of Karachi, a senior official was shot and killed by gunmen, which sparked rioting and violence in which dozens of people were killed.
Karachi is the main port for US and NATO supplies to Afghanistan and is one of the biggest cities in the world. It has two main political parties; the Awami National Party, representing the Pashtun populace and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement made up of the immigrants and their decedents who came to Karachi from India in 1947. Between them, the two parties represent much of the 18,000,000 population. It is well established that both have strong links to organized criminal gangs, or 'land mafias', and use these links in their battle for political dominance. The result is unending political assassinations which in the last month alone claimed the lives of over 100 civilians.
August 23rd brought a suicide bombing to a mosque in Waziristan, killing 14 people while a bomb exploded inside a school that was hosting a meeting of tribal elders, killing 7. The following day a US drone fired missiles into a compound in the north of the region, killing 20 civilians:
Missiles fired from a U.S. pilotless drone aircraft killed 13 militants and 7 civilians in Pakistan's North Waziristan on Monday, security officials said.Note the reference to "13 militants". The US military is forced to mention this word to cover up the fact that they killed 20 civilians.
They said the missiles were fired at a militant hideout. Most of the militants killed were members of the Afghan Taliban. Four women and three children were among the dead, said the officials.
The Lahore Bombings
At least 35 people were killed and over 250 injured. How the bombs were detonated is unclear. Most reports maintain that only the second blast seemed to be a suicide attack - the evidence for this being a severed head, although the bombs were big enough to dismember many of the victims.
Two groups have been linked to the attack:
A militant group called Lashkar-e-Jhangvi Al-Alami claimed responsibility for the attack, but a Pakistani intelligence official suspects the involvement of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, and Pakistani interior minister Rehman Malik also blamed the Taliban.There is no reason to doubt that the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi group were instrumental in the attack. Since their creation as a splinter group from another extremist group in 1996 they have made it their goal to murder as many of Pakistan's Shia minority as possible.
So why, after they claim to have carried out the attack, are Pakistani officials deflecting attention towards the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP)?
The organizational strength, military strategy and leadership quality of the Taliban in Pakistan's tribal territories has qualitatively improved during the last few years. At the time of the U.S.-led military campaign in Afghanistan in late 2001, allies and sympathizers of the Taliban in Pakistan were not identified as "Taliban" themselves. That reality is now a distant memory. Today, Pakistan's indigenous Taliban are an effective fighting force and are engaging the Pakistani military on one side and NATO forces on the other.Various militant groups under the umbrella of the 'Pakistani Taliban' are gaining strength and influence and the government is almost powerless to do anything about it. Perhaps the Pakistani government is linking the TTP (along with the Afghan Taliban) to the Lahore bombings in order to bring this rising threat to the attention of their Western invaders in order to secure more aid and military support to maintain its grip over the country, which is fast heading towards a bloody coup or outright civil war. If that were the case, then Pakistani intelligence got a fast response from the US, who, on September 1st, immediately recognized and designated the TTP "a foreign terrorist organization".
The transition from being Taliban supporters and sympathizers to becoming a mainstream Taliban force in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) initiated when many small militant groups operating independently in the area started networking with one another. This sequence of developments occurred while Pakistani forces were spending the majority of their resources finding "foreigners" in the area linked to al-Qa'ida (roughly in the 2002 - 04 period). Soon, many other local extremist groups, which were banned in Pakistan, started joining the Taliban ranks in FATA - some as followers while others as partners.
During this process, the Pakistani Taliban never really merged into the organizational structure of the Afghan Taliban under Mullah Omar; instead, they developed a distinct identity. From their perspective, they intelligently created a space for themselves in Pakistan by engaging in military attacks while at other times cutting deals with the Pakistani government to establish their autonomy in the area. By default, they were accepted as a legitimate voice in at least two FATA agencies - South Waziristan and North Waziristan.
During this process, the Pakistani Taliban effectively established themselves as an alternative leadership to the traditional tribal elders. By the time the Pakistani government realized the changing dynamics and tried to resurrect the tribal jirga institution, it was too late. The Taliban had killed approximately 200 of the tribal elders under charges of being Pakistani and American spies.
These developments explain the genesis of a new formation: Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). The TTP refers to the Taliban "movement" in Pakistan that coalesced in December 2007 under the leadership of Baitullah Mehsud - a wanted militant leader from South Waziristan.
Ahmed Rashid, writing for The National Interest:
There is perhaps no other political-military elite in the world whose aspirations for great-power regional status, whose desire to overextend and outmatch itself with meager resources, so outstrips reality as that of Pakistan. [...] This is a country isolated and friendless in its own region, facing unprecedented homegrown terrorism from extremists its army once trained, yet it pursues a "forward policy" in Afghanistan to ensure a pro-Pakistan government in Kabul as soon as the Americans leave. [...]The big picture is summed up by Kamran Shafi in his impassioned article for DAWN.com:
Pakistan's military-intelligence establishment, or "deep state" as it is called, has lost over 2,300 soldiers battling these terrorists - the majority in the last 15 months after much U.S. cajoling to go after at least the Pakistani (if not the Afghan) Taliban. Despite these losses and considerable low morale in the armed forces, it still follows a pick-and-choose policy toward extremists, refusing to fight those who will confront India on its behalf as well as those Taliban who kill Western and Afghan soldiers in the war next-door. An army that has received nearly $12 billion in direct military aid from the United States since 2001, and has favored-nation status from NATO, still keeps the leaders of the Afghan Taliban in safe refuge.[...]
The mother of all insurgencies is taking place in the seven tribal agencies of Bajaur, Mohmand, Khyber, Orakzai, Kurram, and North and South Waziristan in the northwest-frontier region where the Pakistani Pashtun tribes - under the nomenclature of the Pakistani Taliban - are at war with the state. [...] On June 8 they launched a brazen attack on a convoy of trucks carrying NATO war materials for troops in Afghanistan in heavily populated northern Punjab - torching 50 vehicles. There is now talk of the Taliban shutting down Karachi port, where 80 percent of NATO supplies arrive. The public fear is that the army is losing control of the country as the extremists become ever stronger, ever more daring and ever more capable. [...]
Thus the Pakistani Taliban have a two-pronged offensive: the first is to politically undermine the state and its organs through terror; the second is to commit sectarian violence against all those they believe are not true Muslims. This intolerance has developed deep roots in Pakistan over the past three decades, and it has now been boosted by the jihadist policies of al-Qaeda and the Pakistani Taliban. The government's inability to deal with sectarian threats has led to some Muslim groups arming themselves and taking the law into their own hands. This only leads to further loss of control by the state.
Make no mistake, gentlemen, this is nothing but a creeping coup d'état by the forces of darkness, a coup that will spare no one, including politicians of every hue. There is no right or left for these beasts, it is them against everyone else - an Islamic Emirate of Pakistan is the goal.We leave this section with the most pertinent observation of the situation in an article for the Afpak channel at foreignpolicy.com:
In addition to disruption of their activities, the real challenge lies in penetrating the command structures of terror networks to figure out their links with sponsors and financiers. What Pakistan is witnessing today cannot be explained away merely as "acts of terror by religiously motivated groups." It is a war of attrition through groups which are delivering blows to the country with the clear objective of creating instability and crippling its economy.It may well be that the string pullers consist of a secret team within the intelligence establishment itself.
Pakistan, it seems, is currently in battle against a multitude of domestic and external vested interests, fueled by a combination of religious zeal, political ideology, and possibly external drivers who may be using local militant groups or their splinters to keep Pakistan destabilized. It is for the mighty intelligence establishment to figure out the string-pullers. If it cannot, the collusion of ideologically driven outfits, criminal gangs and external forces -- the al-Qaeda force multipliers -- will keep bleeding this country.
Iraq: Garbage Out, Garbage In
in here and read about the state of the country's current electricity supply for a reality check on Iraq.)
Now it's Obama's turn to pull a 'Mission Accomplished'. With one hand the US president will withdraw some troops out of Iraq (50,000 will remain) and with the other replace them with 'security civilian contractors' (i.e. mercenaries) with the other. Does it make any difference to the oppressed local population if the men with machine guns are wearing uniforms or not? Practically-speaking it doesn't but from an accountability point of view, it certainly does. It has already proven difficult to prosecute US troops for human rights abuses in Iraq, with many more US mercenaries at work, it will be virtually impossible:
This massive buildup of contractors in Iraq takes place at a time when the question of contractor immunity - or impunity - is at a critical point.Recall that Blackwater employees killed 17 civilians in Baghdad's Nisour Square during a shooting spree in 2007. Did you ever hear of any of them being brought to justice? Neither did we.
In one example, since 2004 our organization, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), has been demanding - in US courts and through advocacy - that private military contractors who commit grave human rights abuses be held accountable. Contractors have responded by claiming something known as the "government contractor defense," arguing that because they were contracted by the US government to perform a duty, they shouldn't be able to be held liable for any alleged violations that occurred while purportedly performing those duties - even when the alleged violations are war crimes. Contractors also argue that the cases CCR has brought raise "political questions" that are inappropriate for the courts to consider. These technical legal arguments have been the focus of human rights lawsuits for years - and, so far, the question of the contractors' actual actions have not been reviewed by the federal courts.
discourse on Iraq has changed since he has became president. Mr Hope sounds creepily like his predecessor, Mr. Idiot. Using phrases like "our troops are the steel in our ship of state, and though our nation may be traveling through rough waters, they give us confidence that our course is true", Obama is attempting to beat even Bush's record for spewing utter lies and nonsense.
While Obama's voice seeks to hypnotize people into complacency, coordinated car-bombings kill 50 people across Iraq, alleged 'suicide bombers' kill 12 at an Iraqi army complex, and 60 more die in an explosion in an Iraqi army recruitment center.
The question remains: why would Iraqis blow up their own children? They wouldn't, of course. So who would be interested in prolonging the country's chaos and thus 'encouraging' the American military to stay put? Take your time...
Lets use a little logic regarding Julian Assange and his WikiLeaks. The Wiki-Man has built a reputation of being anti-establishment by exposing conspiracies, corruption and other misdoings. Yet on one of the most obvious false-flag conspiracies of all times, 9/11, this is what he has to say:
When the Belfast Telegraph interviewed him on July 19, he stated,'leaked' documents that accuse General (Retired) Hamid Gul, former head of the Pakistani military intelligence agency, ISI, of regularly meeting Al Qaeda and the Taliban's leading people (all fifty of them) and orchestrating suicide attacks on NATO forces in Afghanistan. General Gul is one of the few public figures to have correctly attributed the 9/11 attacks to "Mossad and its accomplices" - the most likely explanation and one that is supported by extensive data. Can it really be a coincidence that Wiki-leaks is attacking Gul when Gul is attacking the official version of 9/11?
"Any time people with power plan in secret, they are conducting a conspiracy. So there are conspiracies everywhere. There are also crazed conspiracy theories. It's important not to confuse these two...." What about 9/11?: "I'm constantly annoyed that people are distracted by false conspiracies such as 9/11, when all around we provide evidence of real conspiracies, for war or mass financial fraud." What about the Bilderberg Conference?: "That is vaguely conspiratorial, in a networking sense. We have published their meeting notes."
The true role of Assange and Wikileaks has been extensively questioned on the web and even by Russia Today - a media outlet which is probably financed by Russia for the sole purpose of countering Western (American, British and Israeli) propaganda.
So Assange is in need of something to boost his credibility. Now how might that be achieved? Well, how about setting him up with a phony accusation, an accusation that can be easily proven false? In this way, Assange gets to look like the real deal because, of course, somebody is trying to silence him! Interestingly enough, Assange was accused of rape in Sweden in August, but warrant for his arrest was immediately canceled, after the news made its way around the globe. It doesn't get any more transparent than that folks.
Adding to the suspicions is the fact that, according to Assange himself, WikiLeaks gets about half its money from modest donations processed by its website, and the other half from secret "personal contacts," including "people with some millions who approach us and say 'I'll give you 60,000 or 10,000.'" He says his group has raised about $1 million since the start of 2010. In contrast, it is the experience of the humble editors of SOTT that there are not many of such truth-loving millionaires around handing cheques to alternative websites. We'll leave it to the reader to draw his or her own conclusions.
Dystopia Big Brother Style
August saw the military, police and corporations continuing to collaborate to bring about the wonderful dystopic Big Brother society we've been gradually sliding into for many years. It has been reported that more than 1,100 members of the US armed forces killed themselves from 2005 to 2009. The obvious answer to reduce this hemorrhaging that plagues the US Army would be to withdraw troops from the illegal occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. Alas, that just isn't part of the plan, but don't worry, the Pentagon is on the job with a plan to create remorseless 'Warfighters'. Branded 'Warfighter enhancement', DARPA's program involves heavily dosing soldiers with Propranalol to subdue their stress response and essentially make them 'emotionally toothless'. In 2004 Chris Floyd wrote about this in his book (Manufacturing Intent: The Army's Cult of Killing Leaves a Generation Gap):
The DARPA "war fighter enhancement" programs -- an acceleration of bipartisan biotinkering that's been going on for years -- will involve injecting young men and women with hormonal, neurological and genetic concoctions; implanting microchips and electrodes in their bodies to control their internal organs and brain functions; and plying them with drugs that deaden some of their normal human tendencies: the need for sleep, the fear of death, the reluctance to kill their fellow human beings. [...] Some of the research now underway involves actually altering the genetic code of soldiers, modifying bits of DNA to fashion a new type of human specimen, one that functions like a machine, killing tirelessly for days and nights on end.The U.S. has become utterly dependent on contractors for basic national security and intelligence functions. In July, the Washington Post published the Inside Top Secret America project - a sweeping portrait of America's heavily privatized military-corporate-intelligence establishment. Described as the "vast and hidden apparatus of the war on terror," with an 'official' budget of $75 billion, U.S. intelligence has:
1,931 intelligence contracting firms doing work classified as "top secret," for 1,271 government organizations at over 10,000 sites around the country. 533 of the contracting firms were founded after the 9/11 attacks.The Pentagon recently announced the "most significant breach of US military computers ever" and blamed a foreign agency for it being unable to keep its classified Pentagon networks secure. It is disconcerting to say the least to see the U.S. military announce it wants to use its defence skills to exert influenceover private cyber infrastructure such as power grids, transportation networks and financial network systems.
About 110 contractors do about 90 percent of the top-secret work. The biggest of the big are household words: Booz Allen Hamilton, L-3 Communications, CSC, Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics, and SAIC.
The TSA database doesn't include firms that only do merely "secret" work because the reporters found too many to count.
We are increasingly seeing the transfer of technology and methodology from the eternal military playgrounds to civilian law and order. Police enforcement is becoming inseparable from the military and as tighter controls on freedom of movement and civil liberties are put into law then the Police State will be clear for all to see.
arresting dozens of people protesting against it. A federal judge blocked the most controversial parts of the legislation from taking effect but proponents nevertheless vowed to go ahead with a crime sweep targeting "illegals." As many as 18 states say they want to push similar measures and the American Civil Liberties Union wonders whether New York is the next "Papers Please" State. Citing a New York Times report, the ACLU points out that Arizonans are not the only ones who should fear living in a gestapo society. In New York state, armed Border Patrol agents routinely board Greyhound buses and Amtrak trains to question and detain passengers with questionable legal status.
The extremity of the burgeoning Police State is becoming all too clear with Obama's latest demand to access Internet records, in secret and without court review.
High-tech ray guns are being installed in county Jails; the simple act of filming U.S. police is leading to jail terms; police are trialling crime predicting software that brings Minority Report to reality; in the Midwest 370 immigrants were arrested in raids; now the invasive and health risking full body scanners are being deployed in street-roving vans; a new skeletal scanner is being developed that would ID 'terrorists' from 50 meters.
In the US full body scanners (which authorities now admit are storing images) are being offered as a choice; but what is happening is that the 'non-body scanner option' is becoming increasingly humiliating and many innocent travellers are facing ridiculous private questioning and intimidation.
Our every move is being tracked and recorded. Bypassing the normal requirement for a warrant the US government can now use GPS to track your moves. Young and impressionable California students are receiving implanted tracking devices. A district in Chicago is outfitting students' backpacks with a luggage tag-sized unit that logs when the student steps on and off the bus.
A predictable development has been the use of aerial images being used to enforce a range of petty crimes. In New York State Google Earth images have been used to help identify about 250 homes where residents failed to get building permits certifying their swimming pools complied with safety regulations. In the UK meanwhile, a police helicopter was used to nab a twig collector.
Net neutrality is an ongoing issue and last month saw some interesting developments by the big players that are causing huge concern. There were protests when the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) held its first public hearing on Net neutrality at a High School in Minneapolis. The issue is over Google and Verizon's plan to exert control over content providers. Although their proposal begins with the neutral-sounding "Google and Verizon have been working together to find ways to preserve the open Internet", the proposal in fact will enable wireless broadband carriers to decide how content providers share Internet traffic. They can charge, block and slowdown content providers however they see fit. As the article FAQ: Net Neutrality and Why You Should Care explains: If government regulation via the FCC relinquishes control to broadband providers, then we can expect to see a similar situation to where oil companies control the waterways. There would of course be blatant disregard for the general public in favour of the companies with the money. Internet connection would be priced rather like cable TV, where customers pay more for "premium" channels.
While the military and Government agencies develop their dastardly technology for increasing data collection and surveillance, the multinationals are doing their bit to package Orwellian Big Brother technology in desirable forms for consumers to crave. Researchers at IBM are working on technology that enables consumers to be shown targeted adverts reflecting their personal interests on Minority Report-style advertising billboards. At an annual village festival in Israel, Coca-Cola and Facebook used Israeli teens as willing guinea pigs for RFID tracking. Each participant was given a Coca Cola bottle-top-shaped RFID wristband that would update their Facebook page every time they tapped one of the huge 'like' buttons Coca Cola erected around the site. At a State Fair at the University of Minnesota, children unwittingly consented to giving DNA samples as part of a research project on human genetics.
On a brighter note, many privacy-lovers are eagerly anticipating the public launch of Diaspora, the open source Facebook.
We Do Not Forget
We want to conclude this edition of Connecting the Dots with a tribute to those of healthy conscience who didn't let Tony Blair back on-stage without showing him up for the war criminal that he is.
Tony Blair pelted with eggs and shoes as anti-war protester attempts citizen's arrest during publicity trail for controversial memoir
If you wanted to attend the protests and you missed them, fear not. You can still join those moving Blair's memoirs into the crime or fantasy sections of bookshops - where they squarely belong.