Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Oil's Big Dirty Secret as Producers Rake in Hundreds of Billions

Oil's Big Dirty Secret as Producers Rake in Hundreds of Billions

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According to news reports yesterday, members of OPEC alone glommed in $645 Billion (Euro 430 Billion) for the first six months of this year. Not only have oil consumers been gorged to the hilt, we have been reduced to being supplicants of the oil producers. Every day we are being fed the unceasing lesson from the same hymnal, that oil is running out "tomorrow," come and get it while you still can, not unlike 1855 when Samuel Kier's Rock Oil patent medicine made from Pennsylvania crude oil touted to cure everything from diarrhea, rheumatism, ringworm to deafness, solemnly cautioning buyers, "Hurry Before This Wonderful Product is Depleted from Nature's Laboratory." This while The Peak Oil Pranksters are ever ready to carry the message for the oil patch both here and everywhere working near overtime to heighten our anxieties about oil supply, programming us to pay ever more to the oil barons and sheiks.

But wait, suppose, just suppose they are wrong and willfully misleading us. That oil's origins are not, to repeat, not biological, according to the gospel we have been taught to believe. That in effect oil originates from deep carbon deposits dating to the very beginnings of the Earth's formation in quantities vastly greater than commonly thought. The very presence of methane in the solar system is cited as one of the key underpinnings of this theory's seriousness. Then by seepage through the earth's mantle, Abiotic oil becomes in essence a renewing resource migrating toward the Earth's crust until it escapes to the surface (i.e. Canada's tar sands as theorized by some) or trapped by impermeable strata forming petroleum reservoirs.

Much research has been done on Abiotic Theory by a bevy of Russian and Ukranian geologists starting during the Soviet era, most especially by Nikolai Alexandrovich Kurdryavtsev who proposed the modern Abiotic Theory of Petroleum in 1951.

Among Kurdryavtsev's colleagues was Professor V.A. Krayushkin, chair of the Dept. of Petroleum Exploration at the Ukranian Academy of Sciences and leader of the DneiperDonets Basin Exploration project in the Ukraine, an area that has yielded eleven giant oil fields holding at least 65 billion barrels of oil and some 100 billion cubic meters of recoverable gas, comparable to the North Slope of Alaska . The area had previously been designated as having no potential for petroleum production whatsoever. Exploration, according to a paper by Richard Heinberg, was conducted entirely according to the "perspective of the modern Russian Ukranian theory of abyssal, abiotic petroleum origins".

Question, how often have you heard of M. King Hubbert and his peak oil theories dating to 1949 and how often have you heard of Kurdryavtsev or Krayushkin? Certainly, for those having some interest in Peak Oil jargon, Hubbert's name comes up endlessly, while Kurdryavtsev and Krayushkin probably never, or rarely if at all. But then again Hubbert was Chief Consultant for Shell Oil's Production Research Division and his theories served their Marketing Department well. His predictions first made in 1949 that the fossil fuel era would be of very short duration made him, with help of the fine hand of oil industry flacks, probably the best known geophysicist of his time.

Is the theory of abiotic oil viable? I am not a geologist so I cannot begin to answer authoritatively. It is certainly worth exploring with far greater seriousness than has been the case to date. But I have come to learn the oil industry and its minions. One can rest assured that if abiotic oil is a true challenge to current theory and most especially in the dimension it is purported to be, the oil patch will do all in its power to divert our attention elsewhere. Were we to learn that the supply of oil is limitless, the emperor's clothes would evaporate and the price of oil would collapse.

These comments are not in any way meant to encourage the increased and continued use of oil and carbon-based energy. Issues of greenhouse warming and climate change are far too primordial for us in any way not to continue down the path of a fossil/carbon-free society. But that will take time and in the meanwhile we must wrest back our economic bearings from the rapaciousness of the oil producers and one way to begin doing that is to dismantle the received shibboleths being used to hold us in their grasp. It is time to begin dealing with them as consumers free to make our choices just as we would with any other product or supplier. If we don't like attitudes or pricing policies or loyalty, as in customer relations we should once again be able to turn to another provider of comparable goods and we, as the buying public, or for that matter the nation in its own strategic interests, take our trade elsewhere. Seems far-fetched today? Just wait.

Pelosi indicates openness to offshore drilling vote

Pelosi indicates openness to offshore drilling vote

By Mike Soraghan

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Monday night dropped her staunch opposition to a vote on offshore oil drilling in the House.

Republicans, reacting to high gas prices, have demanded a vote on additional oil exploration in the Outer Continental Shelf, where drilling is currently blocked by a moratorium. Until now, Pelosi (D-Calif.) has resisted the idea as a "hoax." But in an interview on CNN's Larry King Live, she indicated that she was open to a vote.

"They have this thing that says drill offshore in the protected areas," Pelosi said. "We can do that. We can have a vote on that."

She indicated such a vote would have to be part of a larger package that included other policies, like releasing oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which she said could bring down prices in a matter of days.

"But it has to be part of something that says we want to bring immediate relief to the public and is not just a hoax on them," Pelosi continued.

She even indicated that she might support a package that includes drilling. She said her decision on whether to support such legislation would depend on how the policies are packaged.

"It's not excluded, let's put it that way," Pelosi said.

In a year in which Republicans expected to take a beating at the polls, their support for drilling in protected areas has been a sudden bright spot. They have relentlessly demanded a vote on drilling as Democrats rearranged House business to avoid such a vote.

But the pressure has only grown. Republicans demanded a drilling vote before the House went home for the summer recess, and when that didn't happen, some stayed behind in the chamber to protest.

A bipartisan group in the Senate came up with a plan that would include drilling, and Democratic presidential contender Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) has said he's "willing to consider" it.

And Democrats realize that it will be difficult to end their legislative year in September without a vote because the offshore drilling moratorium must be renewed every year.

Pelosi had previously said she would allow a vote on drilling and then backed off. On July 30, the last day Congress was in before the August recess, she was interviewed by the Capitol Hill press corps. She was asked if she could envision a vote on drilling in new areas this year, and she answered, "Of course."

But her aides later released a statement saying she was not announcing a change in her stance on a drilling vote.

Web Firms Say They Track Behavior Without Explicit Consent

Web Firms Say They Track Behavior Without Explicit Consent

By Ellen Nakashima

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Several Internet and broadband companies have acknowledged using targeted-advertising technology without explicitly informing customers, according to letters released yesterday by the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

And Google, the leading online advertiser, stated that it has begun using Internet tracking technology that enables it to more precisely follow Web-surfing behavior across affiliated sites.

The revelations came in response to a bipartisan inquiry of how more than 30 Internet companies might have gathered data to target customers. Some privacy advocates and lawmakers said the disclosures help build a case for an overarching online-privacy law.

"Increasingly, there are no limits technologically as to what a company can do in terms of collecting information . . . and then selling it as a commodity to other providers," said committee member Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), who created the Privacy Caucus 12 years ago. "Our responsibility is to make sure that we create a law that, regardless of the technology, includes a set of legal guarantees that consumers have with respect to their information."

Markey said he and his colleagues plan to introduce legislation next year, a sort of online-privacy Bill of Rights, that would require that consumers must opt in to the tracking of their online behavior and the collection and sharing of their personal data.

But some committee leaders cautioned that such legislation could damage the economy by preventing small companies from reaching customers. Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) said self-regulation that focuses on transparency and choice might be the best approach.

Google, in its letter to committee Chairman John Dingell (D-Mich.), Markey, Stearns and Rep. Joe L. Barton (R-Tex.), stressed that it did not engage in potentially the most invasive of technologies -- deep-packet inspection, which companies such as NebuAd have tested with some broadband providers. But Google did note that it had begun to use across its network the "DoubleClick ad-serving cookie," a computer code that allows the tracking of Web surfing.

Alan Davidson, Google's director of public policy and government affairs, stated in the letter that users could opt out of a single cookie for both DoubleClick and the Google content network. He also said that Google was not yet focusing on "behavioral" advertising, which depends on Web site tracking.

But on its official blog last week, Google touted how its recent $3.1 billion merger with DoubleClick provides advertisers "insight into the number of people who have seen an ad campaign," as well as "how many users visited their sites after seeing an ad."

"Google is slowly embracing a full-blown behavioral targeting over its vast network of services and sites," said Jeffrey Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy. He said that Google, through its vast data collection and sophisticated data analysis tools, "knows more about consumers than practically anyone."

Microsoft and Yahoo have disclosed that they engage in some form of behavioral targeting. Yahoo has said it will allow users to turn off targeted advertising on its Web sites; Microsoft has yet to respond to the committee.

More than a dozen of the 33 companies queried said they do not conduct targeted advertising based on consumers' Internet activities. But, Chester said, a number of them engage in sophisticated interactive marketing. Advertisers on Comcast.net's site, for instance, are able to target advertising based on "over 3 billion page views" from "15 million unique users."

Comcast spokeswoman Sena Fitzmaurice stressed that the data are gathered exclusively for advertising on that site.

In their letters, Broadband providers Knology and Cable One acknowledged that they recently ran tests using deep-packet-inspection technology provided by NebuAd to see whether it could help them serve up more relevant ads, but their customers were not explicitly alerted to the test. Cable One is owned by The Washington Post Co.

Both companies said that no personally identifiable information was used and that they have ended the trials. Cable One has no plans to adopt the technology, spokeswoman Melany Stroupe said. "However, if we do," she said, "we want people to be able to opt in."

Ari Schwartz, vice president of the Center for Democracy and Technology, said lawmakers are beginning to understand the convergence across platforms. "People are starting to see: 'Oh, we have these different industries that are collecting the same types of information to profile individuals and the devices they use on the network," he said. "Internet. Cellphones. Cable. Any way you tap into the network, concerns are raised."

Markey said yesterday that any legislation should generally require explicitly informing the consumer of the type of information that is being gathered and any intent to use it for a different purpose, and a right to say 'no' to the collection or use.

The push for overarching legislation is bipartisan. "A broad approach to protecting people's online privacy seems both desirable and inevitable," Barton said. "Advertisers and data collectors who record where customers go and what they do want profit at the expense of privacy."

As of yesterday evening, the committee had posted letters from 25 companies on its Web site.

Russian President ordered a halt to military action against Georgia

Medvedev says Russia is ready to begin peace talks with Georgia

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The Russian president also orders a halt to his country's ongoing military action even as media reported that sites deep in the country continued to be bombed.
By Megan K. Stack and Peter Spiegel
Times staff writers

8:56 AM PDT, August 12, 2008

TBILISI, GEORGIA — Russia's president today said his country was ready to begin peace talks with Georgia to end a five-day conflict over pro-Russian separatist-minded enclaves along the two nations' Caucasus region border.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, a close ally of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, today also ordered a halt to his country's ongoing military action against Western-backed Georgia even as it continued to bomb sites deep in the country and apparently continued its advance, according to media reports.

"The operation that the reinforced Russian peace-keeping contingent carried out has been completed because the goal that we set ourselves has been achieved," Medvedev said, according to the Russian Interfax news service. "The aggressor has been punished, and its armed forces have been disorganized."

Medvedev, speaking after a closed-door meeting in Moscow with French President Nicholas Sarkozy, said peace talks could commence provided Georgia return its troops to their original positions before the outbreak of hostilities five days ago over control of the breakaway pro-Russian enclave of South Ossetia and sign a "legally binding document" vowing not to use force.

But Medvedev also called on his armed forces to remain vigilant against any perceived Georgian provocations. In and around the key central Georgian city of Gori, Russian bombers struck hills and villages and fleeing residents reported that Russian soldiers had continued to advance deep into western Georgia, taking up positions in the area, even after the televised announcement.

And securing a lasting peace may prove difficult. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters today that Moscow rejects the U.S.-educated Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili as a partner in peace discussions.

Moscow accuses Saakashvili of ordering his troops to try to retake South Ossetia by force in a move that the Kremlin says cost the lives of thousands of Russian passport holders as well as some peacekeepers stationed in the province.

"I don't think Moscow will be in the mood not only to hold talks, but even to speak to Saakashvili," Lavrov said at a news conference after talks with his Finnish counterpart, Alexander Stubb, according to Interfax. "He has committed crimes against our citizens. Our position is that Mr. Saakashvili can no longer be our partner. He'd better quit."

Russia's latest moves in the two countries' 5-day-old war has prompted worries about the Kremlin's ultimate goals in the conflict, which pits the staunchly pro-Western former Soviet republic of Georgia against an increasingly rich and powerful Russia opposed to Washington's growing influence in what has traditionally been its strategic backyard.

A day earlier in Washington, President Bush demanded that Russia "reverse the course it appears to be on," but did not say what the United States might do otherwise.

Saakashvili, in an interview Monday with CNN, vowed to fight on alone "until the end" if necessary, but added: "My people feel let down by world democracies."

The conflict threatens to drive a deeper wedge in a growing divide between Russia and the West. Although Georgia launched the initial attack on South Ossetia, and Russia says it is acting to protect the local population, the United States and Western European countries regard Russia's response as wildly disproportionate.

The fighting lurched to a new level Monday when Russian troops stormed out of Abkhazia, a second secessionist region located in northwestern Georgia, to seize control of an army base near the town of Senaki inside Georgia proper. To the east, Georgia's military struggled to regain ground lost to Russia in South Ossetia.

Georgian reservists in flip-flops, along with drawn, dirty soldiers, mingled on the outskirts of South Ossetia, taking cover under trees and overpasses while Russian warplanes hammered the roads.

Late in the day, Russia's Defense Ministry said its troops had pulled back from the army base near Senaki after having "eliminated the threat" that Georgian troops posed to its soldiers in South Ossetia, Interfax reported. Medvedev was quoted as saying that Russia had completed the "bigger part of the operation to coerce the Georgian side to peace in South Ossetia."

Earlier, Saakashvili said that Russian troops had in effect sliced his country in half by seizing control of the main east-west highway at the central Georgian city of Gori. Russia denied the claim, and the conflicting accounts could not be immediately resolved.

Both South Ossetia and Abkhazia have essentially governed themselves since shortly after Georgia became independent when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. Russia has long deployed peacekeeping troops in both regions.

The long-simmering conflict erupted in earnest last week when Georgia launched a surprise operation to seize control of South Ossetia, killing Russian peacekeepers and hundreds of civilians. Russia has bombed targets inside Georgia and imposed a sea blockade, moving its Black Sea fleet along the coast to prevent supplies and goods from entering the country.

The emergence of a second front near Abkhazia is another sign that Russia might be intending to continue punishing the smaller, poorer country, which lies between Russia and Turkey and has been dominated by Russia for most of its modern history. Georgia has strategic significance, in part because of its location on the route of a pipeline that carries oil from the Caspian Sea to the West.

Bush, in a televised statement from the White House Rose Garden soon after he returned home Monday from the Olympic Games in Beijing, said he was "deeply concerned by reports that Russian troops have moved beyond the zone of conflict, attacked the Georgian town of Gori and are threatening . . . Georgia's capital of Tbilisi. There's evidence that Russian forces may soon begin bombing the civilian airport in the capital city."

"If these reports are accurate," he added, "these Russian actions would represent a dramatic and brutal escalation of the conflict in Georgia."

Bush misspoke at one point, saying an effort appeared underway "to depose Russia's duly elected government." He meant Georgia's government, repeating an assertion made earlier by Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

Vitaly Churkin, Russia's ambassador to the United Nations, denied that suggestion Monday as the U.N. Security Council met for its fifth day of emergency talks, which were closed to the public.

In a media briefing after the meeting, Khalilzad said that although Churkin responded to his repeated question, he did not go far enough.

"We hope Russia will join the broad consensus that is emerging, that this has gone on for too long," Khalilzad said. He warned that the conflict would have "implications for the region, implications for the future relations of Russia with the United States, and the other international communities."

Churkin told reporters that Russia was not likely to accept the current draft of a U.N. resolution.

"For us, the situation is not as simple as our American colleagues or our Georgian colleagues would like us or others to see," Churkin said. "Our forces are continuing to take steps which would make sure that Georgian forces do not have the ability to invade South Ossetia again."

Getting accurate information about the situation in Georgia was difficult at best. By Tuesday afternoon, it was not clear who was in control in Gori, a town of 50,000, though Georgian troops were nowhere to be seen.

Although Russia faces international condemnation, there is little evidence that Georgia will receive more than token military assistance from the West.

The United States flew Georgian troops deployed in Iraq back home on U.S. Air Force C-17 cargo planes. Beyond that, and keeping nearly 100 American military trainers in Tbilisi, the Bush administration has ruled out any military aid to Saakashvili.

Instead, senior administration officials said, the White House is pinning its near-term hopes on a cease-fire plan being presented by the French.

Saakashvili signed the agreement during French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner's stop in Tbilisi on Monday, and a senior U.S. official involved in the negotiations said that France, in its capacity as current head of the European Union, would present the plan to the Kremlin in Moscow today.

The U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity when discussing the sensitive negotiations, said that under the plan, both sides would agree to a cease-fire and nonaggression pact, followed by a return to positions before the hostilities erupted last week.

But prospects for Russian agreement appeared slim, and U.S. officials received reports of panic in Tbilisi that Russian troops could attack the capital within hours. The U.S. sent envoys to both Tbilisi and Brussels, where the North Atlantic Treaty Organization was to hold emergency talks today.

U.S. officials said they had repeatedly warned Saakashvili not to be provoked into attacking South Ossetia. But they also said Russia had massively overreacted, which they regarded as an indication that the Kremlin had been searching for a pretext to invade.

Though Russia is far from occupying all of Georgia, the senior U.S. official compared the attacks to the Soviet invasions of Afghanistan in 1979 and of Czechoslovakia in 1968.

"Their accounting is so distorted it recalls the phrase 'the big lie,' " the official said of Moscow's rationale for its military action.

"Words like 'invasion' should not be used lightly, but this is an invasion."

The conflict has poured fresh animosity into already-strained relations between Moscow and Washington. Putin sharply criticized the United States on Monday for supporting Georgia.

"The very scale of this cynicism is astonishing," Putin said on state television, "the attempt to turn white into black, black into white and to adeptly portray victims of aggression as aggressors and place the responsibility for the consequences of the aggression on the victims."

The United States has displayed a "Cold War mentality," Putin alleged, supporting "Georgian rulers who used tanks to run over children and the elderly, who threw civilians into cellars and burned them."

An Appeal from the Passengers and Crew of the SS FREE GAZA and SS LIBERTY

An Appeal from the Passengers and Crew of the SS FREE GAZA and SS LIBERTY

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I am constantly asked ‘what can we do to fight this evil? Well, folks, here is a perfect opportunity set right before you.

start–

Two years ago, about a dozen human rights activists devised a plan to sail a boat to Gaza in order to break the siege. We rejected a plan to rent a boat as impractical because a similar venture in 1988 failed when the Israelis disabled the boat before it sailed and the three organizers were killed. Thus no boat owner would willingly risk his craft. We ultimately decided to purchase two small boats that could carry 44 passengers, crew and media.

Each of us contributed what we could, and we also received thousands of dollars from individual supporters, most of whom used the Paypal link on our website. We also held fund-raising events, received a few thousand dollars from small grants, and several “angels” helped us along the way. Each passenger has paid his/her own way to get here, and many have raised additional money through their groups, worked extra jobs, and asked family and friends to donate. The passengers also paid an additional 600 Euros each for lodging in Cyprus and to cover the cost of supplies and food on land and sea.

Through these efforts we have raised $300,000, which we thought covered our costs.(Some of the photos of the boats are on the IMAGE GALLERY page on our website. More will come.)

But the eroding dollar/Euro exchange rate seriously drained our funds. All of our planning did not anticipate this contingency.

We are now in Cyprus awaiting our boats’ arrival from Crete. When they come in, we will fuel up (with very high-cost diesel) and stock necessary food and supplies. We hope to cast off for Gaza this weekend. We are told that hundreds of thousands of Gazans will greet us on arrival.

Many people thought we’d never come this far. But here we are and we firmly intend to set sail regardless of some recent staggering debts. Frankly, we have spent much more than we raised; here are just a few of our recent expenses:

•Two Sailor 250 FleetBroadband systems to allow us to stay in electronic contact and to send streaming video in real time, $16,000 each, or $32,000;

•Repairs required to make the boats seaworthy, $25,000-$30,000;

•Electronics, wiring, connections, satellite uplinks, SPOT Trackers to make the system work, $5000-$8000. (Most of the labor on the electronics and boats has been donated by the Greek crew and technicians.)

•Forty-four life jackets and two hand-held GPS units, $8000;

•Paint & banners for the boats, and balloons & toys for Gaza children, $2000

•Diesel fuel for both boats, both ways, $15,000 to $25,000.

Except for part of the diesel fuel, we have already paid these costs by running our personal credit cards to the limit, borrowing money, and asking some of the Greek crew to help. Frankly, we’re tapped out.

We need your help so that we sail on the Mediterranean Sea but not on a sea of debt.

Please . . . donate through the Paypal account on our website (www.freegaza.org), send a tax-deductible check to the US address on the website, and/or send a check to the address in the UAE. Every donation, large or small, will help keep us afloat.

And, finally, thanks for your interest, support, and prayers!

The Passengers and Crew on FREE GAZA and LIBERTY

'Oil, Israel and Iran' Among Factors that Led to Georgia War

'Oil, Israel and Iran' Among Factors that Led to Georgia War

by Gl Ronen

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Analysis of the war in Georgia points to a fight over a major oil route as the main reason for hostilities, but also to an Israeli connection.

Channel 2's expert on the Muslim world, Ehud Ya'ari, told viewers of the central evening newscast that Russia and neighboring countries were vying for control of a strategic oil pipeline from the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean. This relatively new pipeline passes through Azerbaijan and Georgia to Turkey and is the only pipeline between Asia and Europe that does not pass through Russia or Iran. Israel is expecting to receive oil and gas through the pipeline.

By using the ethnic Russian population in South Ossetia to destabilize Georgia, Russia was making a play for the pipeline, he said.

The Israeli Connection
The Georgian move against South Ossetia was motivated by political considerations having to do with Israel and Iran, according to Nfc. Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili decided to assert control over the breakaway region in order to force Israel to reconsider its decision to cut back its support for Georgia's military.

Russian and Georgian media reported several days ago that Israel decided to stop its support for Georgia after Moscow made it clear to Jerusalem and Washington that Russia would respond to continued aid for Georgia by selling advanced anti-aircraft systems to Syria and Iran.

Hundreds of Israeli defense experts are reportedly in Georgia and Israel's military industries have been upgrading Georgia's air force, training its infantry and selling the country unmanned aerial vehicles and advanced artillery systems.

Former minister Ronny Milo was reportedly among the leading Israeli middlemen in the arms deals with Georgia and Brig.-Gen. Gal Hirsch has been training army units through a company he owns.

Russia nixes ceasefire
Georgia has ordered its forces to cease fire, and offered to start talks with Russia over an end to hostilities in South Ossetia, Georgian officials said Sunday. However, Russia has reportedly rejected the offer. Earlier in the day, Georgia said its troops had pulled out of the breakaway region and that Russian forces were in control of its capital, Tskhinvali. Georgian President Saakashvili said Sunday that his country's sovereignty is in danger.

After conducting consultations regarding events in Georgia, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said Sunday that Israel "recognizes Georgia's territorial integrity." Israel also called for a peaceful resolution of the conflict between Russia and Georgia.

Russia bombs Israeli-run plant
Also on Sunday, Russia bombed a Georgian military plant in which Israeli experts are upgrading jet fighters for the Georgian military. According to Nfc, the bombing was a "sharp message" to Israel.

A Russian fighter jet bombed runways inside the plant, located near Tbilisi, where Israeli security firm Elbit is in charge of upgrading Georgian SU-25 jets.

Dozens Waiting to Make Aliyah from Georgia
Eight Jews were scheduled to arrive from Georgia to Israel Sunday evening and dozens more intend to make Aliyah to the Jewish state, once they finish the required paperwork. Representatives of Russian Aliyah agency Nativ will provide the Olim with Aliyah permits. The Georgian government claims Tbilisi's international airport was damaged Sunday after being bombed by Russian jets, and it is not clear if flights will be able to take off in the coming days.

Russia's foreign minister denied the Georgian claim, Russian news agency Interfax reported.
Russia is not denying reports that it bombed a military airport in a suburb of Tbilisi twice.

Russia: Western Media is Pro-Georgian
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gregory Karasin said Sunday that international and western press coverage of events in Georgia were biased in favor of the Georgians.

"The West behaved strangely in the first hours of the attack on South Ossetia," Karasin said, and added that "the U.S.A.'s negative attitude" would be "taken into consideration in the future in contacts about other global questions." The US says it will ask the United Nations to condemn Russia's actions in Georgia.

To Be Atom Bombed

To Be Atom Bombed

By Raymond G. Wilson

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August 6, 1945: At the hypocenter in Hiroshima, at Shima Hospital, it was worse than if a Richter-10 flaming cosmic-quake came blasting down upon them from the gods, rattling the earth’s axis, scorching, searing, and radiating everything and everyone below. In this first nuclear war some people disappeared they say, completely vaporized by the heat.

In the city ruins the nuclear radiation began its dirty, deadly, prolonged and profane massacre. It killed for years. In 1955, ten years after the bombings, 12-year old Sadako Sasaki, one of thousands to die in the years after, succumbed to the ravages of leukemia induced by the bomb’s radiation. She was only one of more than 140,000 people to die from this small, primitive nuclear bomb.

The average nuclear weapon of today is 10 times more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb; some are 1,000 times greater. Imagine what it could be like in 2008 over any city.

The 1989 Japanese motion picture Black Rain, directed by Imamura, attempts to relate this destruction of humans in Hiroshima. At the end of the story, in 1950, five years after the nuclear devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the death toll from the two bombs has reached beyond 210,000; Mr. Shizuma, a survivor, is listening to radio news about the possible use of nuclear weapons in Korea. He caustically comments, “Human beings learn nothing. They strangle themselves. Unjust peace is better than war of justice. Why can’t they see?”

It would be some 22-30 years after 1945 before the United States would allow anyone to see. This was a human slaughter of more than 210,000 people and the deadly truthful evidence of it was confiscated by the American occupation forces, the photographs of the victims, held as “confidential” and not revealed until 1967. Almost nothing of this human story appears in standard, supposedly scholarly textbooks in American schools even though these atomic bombs were selected by journalists as the “story of the past century.” Human beings anywhere in the world cannot learn if they are not taught.

My friend, Sumiteru Taniguchi, a postman at age 16, was on his bicycle a little more than one mile away from the Nagasaki hypocenter. That was not far enough from this small nuclear bomb. Of the 28 postmen, he alone survived. He knows of only one other person burned, blasted, and radiated as badly as he was, to survive to this time. Taniguchi spent 21 months on his belly in vicious pain, often pleading to his doctors, “Kill me! Kill me!”

Taniguchi’s personal feelings: “The people that built this bomb, the people that gave the orders, the people that let it be used, and those who enjoyed this, I don’t think these people are human; I can never forgive them.” Taniguchi knows the truth about nuclear war and wants all people to know. He finds it strange for a country with so many nuclear weapons to tell other countries that they can’t have them.

Japan was and is a nation poor in natural resources. In the early 1900s, to achieve greatness, the decision was made to obtain by force if necessary, Japan’s needed and vital resources from other Asian countries. Western nations and industrialists had been doing this for generations throughout Asia and even in Africa. The Japanese militarized government failed to recognize that its most vital resource was its own people and they sacrificed some three million of them in war.

But look what the Japanese people did without war and mainly with their own resources and ingenuity in rebuilding their destroyed nation in only 35 years following 1945. How much more wisdom, creativity, inventiveness, and productivity was lost among the three million killed? “They strangled themselves.”

Since 1946 more than 20 million people have died due to wars that were non-nuclear. Nuclear weapons are only the symptom of a much more profound and widespread cancer of the spirit of the world and of humankind. There is a practical cure for this disease which would make the possession of nuclear weapons a counterproductive unnecessary hindrance. “A New Way of Thinking about Achieving and Preserving Peace” is accessible on the Internet at, http://titan.iwu.edu/~rwilson/Peace.pdf

We need to think about the future of America. Shall we succeed through wartime force and nuclear threats to secure our vital interests in other nations? Or is there a better way to achieve the peace the world craves, the world peace that is possible? Who will lead the way?

Raymond G. Wilson is an emeritus associate professor of physics at Illinois Wesleyan University who has taught about nuclear war issues for 49 years. He is co-director of the Hiroshima Panorama Project in the United States and is associated with the http://www.atomicbombmuseum.org/ web site.

Washington Risks Nuclear War by Miscalculation

Washington Risks Nuclear War by Miscalculation

By F William Engdahl

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The dramatic military attack by the military of the Republic of Georgia on South Ossetia in the last days has brought the world one major step closer to the ultimate horror of the Cold War era—a thermonuclear war between Russia and the United States—by miscalculation. What is playing out in the Caucasus is being reported in US media in an alarmingly misleading light, making Moscow appear the lone aggressor. The question is whether George W. Bush and Dick Cheney are encouraging the unstable Georgian President, Mikhail Saakashvili in order to force the next US President to back the NATO military agenda of the Bush Doctrine. This time Washington may have badly misjudged the possibilities, as it did in Iraq , but this time with possible nuclear consequences.

The underlying issue, as I stressed in my July 11 piece in this space, Georgien, Washington, Moskau: Atomarer geopolitischer Machtpoker , is the fact that since the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact in 1991 one after another former member as well as former states of the USSR have been coaxed and in many cases bribed with false promises by Washington into joining the counter organization, NATO.

Rather than initiate discussions after the 1991 dissolution of the Warsaw Pact about a systematic dissolution of NATO, Washington has systematically converted NATO into what can only be called the military vehicle of an American global imperial rule, linked by a network of military bases from Kosovo to Poland to Turkey to Iraq and Afghanistan . In 1999, former Warsaw Pact members Hungary , Poland and the Czech Republic joined NATO. Bulgaria , Estonia , Latvia , Lithuania , Romania , and Slovakia followed suit in March 2004. Now Washington is putting immense pressure on the EU members of NATO, especially Germany and France , that they vote in December to admit Georgia and Ukraine .

The roots of the conflict

The specific conflict between Georgia and South Ossetia and Abkhazia has its roots in the following. First, the Southern Ossetes , who until 1990 formed an autonomous region of the Georgian Soviet republic, seek to unite in one state with their co-ethnics in North Ossetia , an autonomous republic of the Russian Soviet republic and now the Russian Federation . There is an historically grounded Ossete fear of violent Georgian nationalism and the experience of Georgian hatred of ethnic minorities under then Georgian leader Zviad Gamsakhurdia, which the Ossetes see again under Georgian President, Mikhel Saakashvili. Saakashvili was brought to power with US financing and US covert regime change activities in December 2003 in what was called the Rose Revolution. Now the thorns of that rose are causing blood to spill.

Abkhazia and South Ossetia—the first a traditional Black Sea resort area, the second an impoverished, sparsely populated region that borders Russia to the north—each has its own language, culture, history. When the Soviet Union collapsed, both regions sought to separate themselves from Georgia in bloody conflicts - South Ossetia in 1990-1, Abkhazia in 1992-4.

In December 1990 Georgia under Gamsakhurdia sent troops into South Ossetia after the region declared its own sovereignty. This Georgian move was defeated by Soviet Interior Ministry troops. Then Georgia declared abolition of the South Ossete autonomous region and its incorporation into Georgia proper. Both wars ended with cease-fires that were negotiated by Russia and policed by peacekeeping forces under the aegis of the recently established Commonwealth of Independent States. The situation hardened into "frozen conflicts," like that over Cyprus . By late 2005, Georgia signed an agreement that it would not use force, and the Abkhaz would allow the gradual return of 200,000-plus ethnic Georgians who had fled the violence. But the agreement collapsed in early 2006, when Saakashvili sent troops to retake the Kodori Valley in Abkhazia. Since then Saakashvili has been escalating preparations for military action.

Critical is Russia 's support for the Southern Ossetes . Russia is unwilling to see Georgia join NATO. In addition, the Ossetes are the oldest Russian allies in the Caucasus who have provided troops to the Russian army in many wars. Russia does not wish to abandon them and the Abkhaz, and fuel yet more ethnic unrest among their compatriots in the Russian North Caucasus . In a November 2006 referendum, 99 percent of South Ossetians voted for independence from Georgia , at a time when most of them had long held Russian passports. This enabled Russian President Medvedev to justify his military's counter-attack of Georgia on Friday as an effort to "protect the lives and dignity of Russian citizens, wherever they may be."

For Russia , Ossetia has been an important strategic base near the Turkish and Iranian frontiers since the days of the czars. Georgia is also an important transit country for oil being pumped from the Caspian Sea to the Turkish port of Ceyhan and a potential base for Washington efforts to encircle Tehran .

As far as the Georgians are concerned, South Ossetia and Abkhazia are simply part of their national territory, to be recovered at all costs. Promises by NATO leaders to bring Georgia into the alliance, and ostentatious declarations of support from Washington , have emboldened Saakashvili to launch his military offensive against the two provinces, South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Saakashvili and likely, Dick Cheney's office in Washington appear to have miscalculated very badly. Russia has made it clear that it has no intention of ceding its support for South Ossetia or Abkhazia.

Proxy War

In March this year as Washington went ahead to recognize the independence of Kosovo in former Yugoslavia, making Kosovo a de facto NATO-run territory against the will of the UN Security Council and especially against Russian protest, Putin responded with Russian Duma hearings on recognition of Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Transnistria, a pro-Russian breakaway republic in Moldova. Moscow argued that the West's logic on Kosovo should apply as well to these ethnic communities seeking to free themselves from the control of a hostile state. In mid-April, Mr. Putin held out the possibility of recognition for the breakaway republics. It was a geopolitical chess game in the strategic Caucasus for the highest stakes—the future of Russia itself.

Saakashvili called then-President Putin to demand he reverse the decision. He reminded Putin that the West had taken Georgia 's side. This past April at the NATO summit in Bucharest, Romania, US President Bush proposed accepting Georgia into NATO's "Action Plan for Membership," a precursor to NATO membership. To Washington 's surprise, ten NATO member states refused to support his plan, including Germany , France and Italy .

They argued that accepting the Georgians was problematic, because of the conflicts in Abkhazia and South Ossetia . They were in reality saying that they would not be willing to back Georgia as, under Article 5 of the NATO treaty, which mandates that an armed attack against any NATO member country must be considered an attack against them all and consequently requires use of collective armed force of all NATO members, it would mean that Europe could be faced with war against Russia over the tiny Caucasus Republic of Georgia, with its incalculable dictator, Saakashvili. That would mean the troubled Caucasus would be on a hair-trigger to detonate World War III.

Russia threatens Georgia , but Georgia threatens Abkhazia and South Ossetia . Russia looks like a crocodile to Georgia , but Georgia looks to Russia like the cats' paw of the West. Since Saakashvili took power in late 2003 the Pentagon has been in Georgia giving military aid and training. Not only are US military personnel active in Georgia today. According to an Israeli-intelligence source, DEBKA file, in 2007, the Georgian President Saakashvili “commissioned from private Israeli security firms several hundred military advisers, estimated at up to 1,000, to train the Georgian armed forces in commando, air, sea, armored and artillery combat tactics. They also have been giving instruction on military intelligence and security for the central regime. Tbilisi also purchased weapons, intelligence and electronic warfare systems from Israel . These advisers were undoubtedly deeply involved in the Georgian army's preparations to conquer the South Ossetian capital Friday.”

Debkafile reported further, “ Moscow has repeatedly demanded that Jerusalem halt its military assistance to Georgia , finally threatening a crisis in bilateral relations. Israel responded by saying that the only assistance rendered Tbilisi was ‘defensive.'” The Israeli news source added that Israel 's interest in Georgia has to do as well with Caspian oil pipeline geopolitics. “ Jerusalem has a strong interest in having Caspian oil and gas pipelines reach the Turkish terminal port of Ceyhan , rather than the Russian network. Intense negotiations are afoot between Israel Turkey, Georgia , Turkmenistan and Azarbaijan for pipelines to reach Turkey and thence to Israel 's oil terminal at Ashkelon and on to its Red Sea port of Eilat . From there, supertankers can carry the gas and oil to the Far East through the Indian Ocean .”

This means that the attack on South Ossetia is the first battle in a new proxy warfare between Anglo-American-Israeli led interests and Russia . The only question is whether Washington miscalculated the swiftness and intensity of the Russian response to the Georgian attacks of 8.8.08.

So far, each step in the Caucasus drama has put the conflict on a yet higher plane of danger. The next step will no longer be just about the Caucasus , or even Europe . In 1914 it was the “Guns of August” that initiated the Great War. This time the Guns of August 2008 could be the detonator of World War III and a nuclear holocaust of unspeakable horror.

Nuclear Primacy: the larger strategic danger

Most in the West are unaware how dangerous the conflict over two tiny provinces in a remote part of Eurasia has become. What is left out of most all media coverage is the strategic military security context of the Caucasus dispute.

In my book, Century of War , I describe the developments by NATO and most directly by Washington since the end of the Cold War to systematically pursue what military strategists call Nuclear Primacy. Put simply, if one of two opposing nuclear powers is able to first develop an operational anti-missile defense, even primitive, that can dramatically weaken a potential counter-strike by the opposing side's nuclear arsenal, the side with missile defense has “won” the nuclear war.

As mad as this sounds, it has been explicit Pentagon policy through the last three Presidents from father Bush in 1990, to Clinton and most aggressively, George W. Bush. This is the issue where Russia has drawn a deep line in the sand, understandably so. The forceful US effort to push Georgia as well as Ukraine into NATO would present Russia with the spectre of NATO literally coming to its doorstep, a military threat that is aggressive in the extreme, and untenable for Russian national security.

This is what gives the seemingly obscure fight over two provinces the size of Luxemburg the potential to become the 1914 Sarajevo trigger to a new nuclear war by miscalculation. The trigger for such a war is not Georgia 's right to annex South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Rather, it is US insistence on pushing NATO and its missile defense right up to Russia 's door.

By F. William Engdahl
www.engdahl.oilgeopolitics.net

From Stupid to Moronic to Evil

From Stupid to Moronic to Evil

By Paul Craig Roberts

“Although it is not true that all conservatives are stupid people, it is true that most stupid people are conservative.” John Stuart Mill

Go To Original

Many years ago, during the 1970s if memory serves, neoconservative Irving Kristol, echoing John Stuart Mill, called his conservative party, the Republican Party, “the stupid party.” http://www.amazon.co.uk/Neoconservatism-Autobiography-Idea-Irving-Kristol/dp/toc/1566632285

Kristol was referring to the Republican’s inability to compete on the policy front. Jack Kemp and Ronald Reagan led the Republicans out of the wilderness, but now Republicans have reverted to the stupid party, or more precisely the moronic party.

Take a minute to examine the presidential campaign propaganda that Republicans send around the Internet, and you will see what I mean. For example, recently while Obama was traveling abroad, showing himself to the remnant of our allies, Republican political operatives blitzed the Internet with the suggestion that Obama might not be an American citizen. Doubt was cast on either of his parents being American citizens. The message went on to suggest that Obama refused to produce his birth certificate. All the while, Obama was traveling abroad on a US passport, a document that cannot be obtained without a US birth certificate.

Considering that the Republican candidate, John McCain, was born in the Panama Canal Zone, only the GOP would be dumb enough to make an issue over whether the Democrats’ candidate was born in one of the 50 states. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/28/us/politics/28mccain.html?_r=1&adxnnl=1&oref=slogin&adxnnlx=1218385762-Ap1AsEajnjAnO5XdQ4hGRg

The innuendo and negativism with which the Republicans are conducting their presidential campaign are unprecedented. There is no sign of issues in McCain’s Karl Rovian campaign. http://weblogs.sun-sentinel.com/news/politics/blog/2008/07/mccain_campaign_shakeup.html Issues have been superseded by hate, lies, and war.

Republicans stand for war without end, a police state to make us “safe,” and “energy independence,” which means drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Preserve and offshore of Florida’s Gulf Coast beaches.

What Republicans really mean by “energy independence” is prevailing over environmentalists. Republicans lump environmentalists in the same category with abortionists, gays, feminists, food stamp recipients, trade unionists and terrorists. To a Republican, saving America means prevailing over these people.

The notion that Americans can achieve energy independence by drilling offshore wells and in the arctic is absurd. A number of experts have pointed out that the best data do not support any such possibility.

For example, Robert Kaufman at Boston University, citing US government data, reports that the US might have 40 billion barrels of oil in undeveloped reserves which are not off limits. Another 19 billion might be in off limit offshore sites and in the Arctic National Wildlife preserve. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=92677194

All of this oil cannot be brought up at once, and apparently none before 2017. Bringing it all into production would, experts think, increase US oil production by 1-4 percent. In other words, nothing. Currently the US uses 21 million barrels a day, and the entire world uses 86 million barrels a day. At best, the Arctic Wildlife Refuge could by 2017 produce 1 million barrels a day, about one-twentieth of current US use and one-eighty-sixth of current world use.

This is not energy independence, and it would have no material effect on price. Indeed, the offshoring by US corporations of US jobs has a much greater effect on the dollar price of oil by inflating the US trade deficit and driving down the exchange value of the US dollar. But, of course, here we are talking about facts, and facts are of no interest to Republicans.

Republicans are interested in prevailing over the “bad guys.” The fact that the bad guys are Bush, Cheney, Rice, Wolfowitz, Perle, Billy Kristol, and other such is beyond the Republicans’ imagination. Bad guys are “towel heads” with beards and robes and are “over there” where they must be killed before the come “over here.” The extent of the Republican intellect boils down to “over here” vs. “over there.”

The other great bugaboo of Republicans is “the liberal media.” Fox “News” has Republicans convinced that “the liberal media” is endangering America by siding with terrorists.

Clearly, Republicans never look at “the liberal media.” It was Judith Miller at the “liberal” New York Times who served up as fact all the neocon disinformation about Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction and al Qaeda connections. Without the New York Times leading the way, the neocons could never have pulled off their illegal invasions.

On July 18, 2008, the New York Times allowed the Israeli Benny Morris to spew lies about Iran that he used to justify an attack on that country possibly even involving nuclear weapons. This is the same New York Times that the idiot conservatives believe is part of “the liberal media.”

It was ABC News that served up the neocon disinformation that the anthrax had been traced to Saddam Hussein. http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2008/08/01/anthrax/print.html

And, today, August 9, 2008, as I write, it is the “liberal” Washington Post that has written an editorial urging the US to go to war with Russia.

With its editorial, “Stopping Russia: the US and its allies must unite against Moscow’s war on Georgia,” the Washington Post has established a world record for the maximum number of lies in the minimum number of words.

Except for the Washington Post, the entire world knows that Georgia (the birthplace of Joseph Stalin, not Georgia USA) initiated the aggression that killed Russian peacekeepers and hundreds of civilians in South Ossetia, peacekeepers who were there with the blessing of Georgia and international agreements.

The true facts are available all over the world press. But the “liberal” Washington Post serves up the lie that Russia has attacked Georgia and conceivably plans to conquer all of Georgia. “This is a grave challenge to the United States and Europe,” thunders the Bush Regime’s mouthpiece, aka, “the liberal media.”

Thirsting for blood, the “liberal media” declares: “The United States and its NATO allies must together impose a price on Russia.”

Here we see the combination of idiocy and delusion in one sentence. The United States has proved that it is incapable of occupying Iraq, much less Afghanistan. Russia has a large trade surplus. America’s NATO allies are dependent on Russian natural gas. Yet the “liberal” Washington Post wants a bankrupt US and “its NATO allies” who are dependent on Russian energy “to impose a price on Russia” for defending its peacekeepers!

Seldom has the world seen such total insanity as the neoconservative Washington Post, a propaganda sheet as far from “liberal media” is it is possible to be.

Georgia was part of Old Russia and the Soviet Union for two centuries. After Soviet communism collapsed, the US taxpayer funded neoconservative National Endowment for Democracy broke every agreement that President Reagan had made with Gorbachev and began using US taxpayers’ money to rig and purchase elections in former constituent parts of the Russian/Soviet empire.

The Endowment for Democracy purchased Georgia as a US colony. The affront to Russia was extreme, but at the time Russia was weak. Oligarchs with outside money had grabbed control over Russian resources, and Russia was in dire straits and could not resist American imperialism.

Putin corrected the situation for Russia.

Now using American weapons Georgia for reasons yet to be revealed has violated its own agreement with Russia and attacked South Ossetia, killing in the process Russian peacekeepers. Vladimir Vasilyev, chairman of the Russian State Duma Committee for Security told the press: “The things that were happening in Kosovo, the things that were happening in Iraq – we are now following the same path. The further the situation unfolds, the more the world will understand that Georgia would never be able to do all this without America.” http://english.pravda.ru/hotspots/conflicts/106046-russia_georgia-0

Yes, without America there would be no war in Ossetia and no war between Russia and its former constituent part.

Without America there would be no war in Afghanistan. No war in Iraq.

Without America there would not be 1.2 million dead Iraqis and 4 million displaced Iraqis. We have no idea of the toll on Afghan civilians, although women and children appear to be the prime targets of the US/NATO forces that are “bringing peace and freedom to Afghanistan.”

Recently, US Secretary of State Condi Rice said that the US government could not prevent an Israeli attack on Iran. Israel is an independent country, said the American Secretary of State. What an extraordinary lie.

Israel cannot exist without American weapons and money. Israel cannot attack Iran without overflying Iraq, which the US air force can easily prevent. It is clear as day that the Bush Regime has given the green light to Israel to attack Iran so that the Bush Regime can rush to “Israel’s defense.”

Meanwhile the “liberal” media is urging the US to get involved in a war between Russia and Georgia. The insanity will lead to the unloosening of nuclear weapons.

Dr. Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury in the Reagan Administration. He is a former Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal, a 16-year columnist for Business Week, and a columnist for the Scripps Howard News Service and Creator’s Syndicate in Los Angeles. He has held numerous university professorships, including the William E. Simon Chair in Political Economy, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Georgetown University and Senior Research Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He was awarded the Legion of Honor by the President of France and the US Treasury’s Silver Medal for “outstanding contributions to the formulation of US economic policy.”

The FBI Admits to Spying on NYT and WaPo Reporters in 2004

The FBI Admits to Spying on NYT and WaPo Reporters in 2004

By Spencer Ackerman
Go To Original

In the dull drone of a late Friday afternoon in Washington in August -- you know, when absolutely nothing happens? -- FBI Director Robert Muller called Bill Keller and Len Downie, executive editors of the New York Times and Washington Post, to inform them that in 2004, the bureau spied on reporters for their papers in Indonesia. Without warrants. Without even the approval of the deputy attorney general. Without, apparently, any good reason.

The records were apparently sought as part of a terrorism investigation, but the F.B.I. did not explain what was being investigated or why the reporters' phone records were considered relevant.

The Justice Department places a high bar on the collection of reporters' records in investigations because of First Amendment concerns, and obtaining such records requires the approval of the deputy attorney general. That requirement was not followed when the F.B.I. obtained the records of two reporters for The Times in Indonesia, Raymond Bonner and Jane Perlez, as well as two reporters there for The Post, Ellen Nakashima and Natasha Tampubolon, officials said.

Mueller -- who apologized to Downie and Keller -- didn't find the surveillance records on his own. The only reason he even had to disclose the spying was because Glenn Fine, the Justice Dept.'s inspector general, discovered it. All this happened in spite of what the FBI constantly says is its own rigorous civil-liberties protections in cases of so-called "exigent letters" -- demands for communications records made to telecom carriers that circumvent any judicial approval. The ACLU's Jameel Jaffer comments:

The FBI's disclosure that its agents secretly sought and obtained the phone records of American newspaper reporters confirms once again that there are insufficient safeguards on the agency's use of national security letters and other intrusive surveillance tools. There aren't enough controls inside the agency, and there aren't enough checks from outside the agency. Especially dangerous is the FBI's power to impose gag orders on those ordered to disclose information. These gag orders, which are often unnecessary and almost always overbroad, invite abuse.

Is it really so surprising that unchecked surveillance authority yields an erosion of civil liberties? To use an example that hits close to home: I communicate with people in Iraq, Afghanistan and other war-on-terror hotspots with some frequency. To an algorithm in an NSA or FBI computer, I surely look like a person of interest. And you know what I'd really not like? The FBI or the NSA to, say, read my emails and learn who my sources are. That's some Pervez Musharraf or Hosni Mubarak-level shit. And it's also what Bush has left us as his legacy.

If I Were a Betting Man, I'd Wager that Cheney Was Behind the Anthrax Attacks

If I Were a Betting Man, I'd Wager that Cheney Was Behind the Anthrax Attacks

By Mark Karlin
Go To Original

You'd have to be a terribly cautious and willfully blind person not to think that the Bush Administration was capable of orchestrating the anthrax attacks. You'd almost have to be a fool.

Years after the anthrax attacks were aimed at Democratic senators who were necessary to pass the "spy on Americans," cynically named "Patriot Act," suddenly the latest "prime suspect" commits suicide without leaving a note or anything, but then the FBI makes claims about how they "got their man" after how many seasons of incompetence in their investigation had passed?

Anyone who doesn't believe that an administration that had the CIA (or perhaps Douglas Feith's "manufactured evidence" Defense Department office) forge and backdate a letter to link Saddam to Osama to help justify the war with Iraq is not capable of using army-produced weapons grade anthrax, out of a Defense Department facility in Fort Detrick, Maryland … anyone who doesn't believe that an administration that forged Niger uranium documents to falsely link Saddam to a purchase that could facilitate a nuclear program that had been shuttered … anyone who doesn't believe that an administration that lied about knowing where WMDs were hidden in Iraq (as Rumsfeld and Cheney claimed), when those weapons didn't exist … well anyone who doesn't believe that such people who believe that they are "masters of the universe" and above the Constitution and the law would be concerned about "collateral damage" in a domestic anthrax attack is naive and incapable of understanding the heart of darkness that lurks within Cheney and his puppet in the White House. (George W. Bush ever in need of finding ways to prove his manhood through being indifferent to the deaths of others.)

BuzzFlash was around, as we have said many a time, since May of 2000.

We reported on the suspicious domestic terrorism anthrax attacks when they occurred, and how odd it appeared that the Bush Administration never appeared concerned about domestic terrorism, even after the attacks. In fact, as Ron Suskind's book reports, the Bush Administration pushed ABC News and others to link the anthrax attacks to Saddam Hussein. Suskind reveals much more, including that the WH rejected overtures from Iran to help clamp down on Al Qaeda, who is no friend to them (being a Shiite vs. Sunni match up).

The best analysis on the highly questionable "resolution" of the multi-year Keystone Cops FBI investigation (by design BuzzFlash believes -- how can the Bush Administration investigate itself; it couldn't in the Valerie Plame outing or the Katrina failure, because Bush would have had to find himself guilty) is coming from Glenn Greenwald at Salon.com. Greenwald is taking the Ivins suicide and anthrax attacks on with a sense of detail and passion that is unmatched on the Net or in the corporate press.

But BuzzFlash was online when it happened, and we took note of how ineptly the FBI handled the case of domestic terrorism that not only resulted in the deaths of people, but was aimed at senior Democratic senators (and some "liberal" members of the press). There was something worrisome about an anthrax attack that emanated from a Department of Defense facility -- and there still is.

Just a few days ago, it was the anniversary of Bush receiving a briefing in August of 2001 that bin Laden was determined to hijack planes in the United States. Bush blew it off. He told a CIA briefer at his Crawford ranch who tried to tell him about terrorist threats that the guy had covered his ass and could leave Bush's Hollywood set "regular guy" vacation retreat and leave Bush alone.

9/11 happened on Bush's watch, even though he was warned. We pointed out at the time that the least Bush and Rice could have done was raise a security alert and order airports to take special precautions to prevent hijackings, but they did nothing -- absolutely nothing.

One of the most tragic failings of the corporate press was that when confronted with the August briefing and other warnings of Al Qaeda preparing to launch attacks on U.S. soil prior to 9/11 -- including the pleading of Robert Clarke -- Rice and Bush claimed that if they had been warned of intended efforts to fly planes into buildings that they would have taken precautions. The White House "press corps" stenographers nodded and told us that this excuse made sense.

But we pointed out then, so many years ago, that it made no sense whatsoever. The way to try and prevent airplane hijackings that end up in suicide attacks on buildings is the same way you prevent hijackings in general: you stop them at the airport. You can't construct magic shields around buildings. So Bush and Rice were let off by the mainstream media, even though their incompetence (or worse) resulted in no action being taken to stop the hijackings, even though the title of the August briefing was about planned hijackings, as Rice was forced to concede in Congressional testimony.

So, anyone who doesn't believe that anthrax attacks that originated with U.S. government-created, bio-warfare weapons grade anthrax, could have been part of an effort to move Congress and the American people toward war for oil and empire, as well as toward a tsarist level of "unitary executive" authority, well anyone who doesn't believe that the anthrax attacks might have been part of Dick Cheney's "dark shadow" planning is ready to audition for Pollyanna.

Oh, and did we mention the recent Seymour Hersh revelation that Cheney and some White House staff members recently spent some time brainstorming how to provoke Iran into war, including "false flag" operations? We wrote about that in a recent BuzzFlash editor's blog.

We don't generally get into conspiracy theories, because by their very nature they are theories for which factual evidence doesn't exist. If the corroborating details are there, then it isn't a theory; it's fact.

Saying the WH, particularly Cheney, were likely behind the anthrax attacks may still fall into the category of conspiracy theory. But if I were a betting man, I think that you can probably safely move that conspiracy theory into the column of fact.

Credit Card Debt: This Popping Bubble Is Really Going to Hurt

Credit Card Debt: This Popping Bubble Is Really Going to Hurt

By Danny Schechter
Go To Original

Let me try a few words out on you: "Charge It," "Swipe It" and "Priceless."

You know exactly what I am talking about. We all have credit and debit cards. We all use them, and many of us keep our lives going because of them.

That is, until the bill becomes due.

The sad truth is that we are all complicit in our own economic servitude even if, at bottom, it's not our fault because we live in a consumption society, and don't feel we could live without them.

While many eyes are focusing on the housing meltdown and its hugely negative effect on an economy clearly moving into recession, few are paying attention to the next bubble expected to burst: credit cards. You would never know it by watching those slick VISA card ads on the Olympic TV broadcasts.

Combined with the subprime losses, such a credit card nightmare has the potential, experts say, of bringing down the entire financial system and global economy.

You and your credit card have become key players in the highly unstable financial crunch. Mortgage lender cupidity and bank credit card greed wedded to financial institution deregulation supported by both political parties, have been made manifestly worse by Bush administration support-the-rich policies. It has brought us to a brink not seen since just before the Great Depression.

While campaigning in Edinburg, Texas, in February, Barack Obama met with students at the University of Texas-Pan American. "Just be careful about those credit cards, all right? Don't eat out as much," he said. After the foreclosure crisis, he warned, "the credit cards are next in line."

The coupling of home equity debt and credit card debt has gone hand in glove for years. The homeowners at risk can no longer use their homes as ATM machines, thanks to their prior re-financings and equity loans, often used in the past to pay off their credit cards. Indeed, homeowners cashed out $1.2 trillion from their home equity from 2002 to 2007 to pay down credit card debts and to cover other costs of living, according to the public policy research organization Demos.

To compound the problem, fewer people are paying their credit card bills on time. And, to flip the old paradigm, more are using high-interest credit card cash to pay at least part of their mortgages instead of the other way around.

Younger people are being crushed by this debt burden as college students and new consumers. Emma Johnson of MSN Money reports that "Generation Y" is broke.

"The democratization of credit has really generated a competitive spending culture, and plastic has allowed for material goods not had in the previous generation," says Bob Manning, author of Credit Card Nation. "Most of us grew up in a home with just one or two bathrooms for the whole family, he points out; today, new homes usually have at least one bathroom per bedroom."That change has happened so fast," Manning says.

"This generation feels that somehow or another they're going to figure out some technological advancement that's going to get them out of their financial troubles and outsmart the market," says Manning, who served as adviser to the documentary In Debt We Trust. The documentary paints a picture of national financial crisis stemming from the personal-debt burden. (See InDebtWeTrust.com)

Happily, this issue is finally being addressed by Congress and the Federal Reserve Bank. When asked for comments, the public overloaded the Fed's website as the New York Times commented:

When the Federal Reserve asked for comments on its proposed rules on abusive credit card practices, an astonishing 56,000 poured in. Most were from outraged consumers. They told of interest rates skyrocketing when they paid an unrelated bill late. They complained of unwarranted late fees and pushed-up due dates. One Pennsylvania customer fumed: "I'm fed up with credit card company tricks that drive us deeper in debt."

This anguished deluge should send a clear message to leaders in Washington. The Federal Reserve should swiftly adopt its proposed rules against unfair or deceptive credit card practices. But the real burden to curb these abuses falls on Congress.

This discontent is being organized to press Congress to act by groups like the Consumer Federation of America and the Center for Responsible Lending. And Congress is listening:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Legislation aimed at curbing credit card billing practices that surprise borrowers with unexpected interest rate increases and fees was approved on Thursday by a U.S. House of Representatives committee.

The bill approved by Financial Services Committee mirrors Federal Reserve proposals that would effectively end double-cycle billing -- in which card companies reach back to prior billing cycles to help calculate the interest charged in the current cycle.

These reforms are a start but much more needs to be done because it's not just billing practices that is at issue -- it's high interest changes, deceptive marketing, and arbitrary rules. On top of that, there are other loans that need scrutiny including payday lenders and student loans. And of course our own addiction to shop until we drop.

Also, let us not forget that our credit card companies have been colonizing markets throughout the world. As the New York Times explained in a series on debt, "As the American blessing of credit cards became widespread, so did the American curse of debt."

Bear in mind the experience of another addicting industry -- tobacco. As they came under restraints in the US, they escalated their poison pushing worldwide.

Debt is a global issue and has to be treated as such.

Just as groups like NACA provide help to homeowners in distress, we need a major effort to help the victims of credit cards -- with practical assistance and political demands for regulation and relief.

Danny Schechter writes a blog for MediaChannel.org. He is the author of "Embedded: Weapons of Mass Deception: How the Media Failed to Cover the War on Iraq" (Prometheus).