Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Federal Reserve Is Using Your Money To Bail Out European Commercial Banks Once Again

The Federal Reserve Is Using Your Money To Bail Out European Commercial Banks Once Again

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For a moment, imagine that there is a privately-owned organization in the United States that can create U.S. dollars out of thin air whenever it wants and can loan that money to whoever it wants to. Imagine that this organization is able to act with the full power of the U.S. government behind it, but that nobody in the organization is ever elected by the American people, and that for all practical purposes the organization is not accountable to the president or to Congress. Imagine that the organization is able to make trillions of dollars of secret loans to banks, to foreign governments and even to their close friends without ever having to face a comprehensive audit. Does that sound preposterous? Well, such an organization actually exists. It is called the Federal Reserve, and today we found out that once again the Fed is going to be taking huge piles of your money and loaning it to commercial banks in Europe. The Congress cannot overrule this decision. Neither can Barack Obama. Because it has so much power, many refer to the Federal Reserve as "the fourth branch of government", but unlike the other three branches of government, there are basically no significant "checks and balances" on the Federal Reserve. If you don't like the fact that the Federal Reserve is racing in to help big foreign banks survive the European debt crisis that is just too bad. The Federal Reserve pretty much gets to do whatever it wants to do, and the folks over at the Fed simply do not care whether you like that or not.

So what in the world just happened today? The following is how an article on CNBC explained it....

Just ahead of the Wall Street open Thursday, the European Central Bank, along with the U.S. Federal Reserve, Bank of England, Bank of Japan and Swiss National Bank announced they would offer three-month dollar loans to Europe's commercial banks, easing dollar funding constraints.

It must be nice to do whatever you want without having to get the approval of anyone else.

What do you think Barack Obama would give for such power right about now?

The Federal Reserve and other major central banks around the world decided that lending big European banks gigantic piles of dollars would be a good idea, so they are just doing it.

No debate, no votes and no democracy - they just tell us how things are going to be and that is that.

It is a bit ironic that all of this happened on the third anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers. It is almost as if the central bankers of the world are trying to send some sort of a message.

So how much money is going to be loaned out?

Well, according to an article in The Daily Mail, big European banks are going to be able to borrow an "unlimited" amount of money....

The deal announced yesterday means banks will be able to borrow ‘any amount’ of money in three separate auctions in October, November and December. Banks will have to put up collateral, or security, to tap the emergency funds.

Wow - I wish someone would offer to lend me an "unlimited" amount of money.

But of course this really is not going to solve anything in the long run. You can't solve a raging debt problem with more debt.

Yes, it will help the big European banks with their short-term liquidity problems, but it will do nothing to fix the long-term structural problems that are tearing Europe to pieces.

Win Thin, a senior currency strategist at Brown Brothers Harriman, said essentially the same thing to CNBC today....

"They're taking care of the symptoms, but the underlying illness is still out there. On the margin, it's positive. Until Greece defaults and we clear this whole thing up, they're still treading water"

So, no, the financial problems of Europe have not been solved.

Just think of this latest move as a temporary band-aid.

So why get upset about it?

Well, what all of this shows is just how arrogant the Federal Reserve is.

The Federal Reserve gets to throw around trillions of dollars without any accountability to the American people.

As I have written about previously, the Federal Reserve made $16.1 trillion in secret loans to their friends during the last financial crisis.

This was revealed in a GAO report, and members of Congress such as Ron Paul and Bernie Sanders tried to get people to pay attention to this. The following is a statement about this report that was taken from the official website of Senator Sanders....

"As a result of this audit, we now know that the Federal Reserve provided more than $16 trillion in total financial assistance to some of the largest financial institutions and corporations in the United States and throughout the world"

So how much of that money went overseas? Well, it turns out that approximately $3.08 trillion of that money was loaned to big banks and major financial institutions in Europe and Asia.

Barack Obama can't lend trillions of dollars to foreign banks.

So why does the Federal Reserve get to do it?

Sadly, most Americans know very little about the Federal Reserve. In the United States today, most Americans graduate from high school without ever learning much of anything about the Fed.

But if you really want to understand what is going on with our economy, it is absolutely critical that you understand the Federal Reserve.

The following are some more reasons why you should be upset about what the Federal Reserve has been doing....

*The Federal Reserve is a perpetual debt machine. Today, the U.S. national debt is 4700 times larger than it was when the Federal Reserve was created back in 1913.

*The Federal Reserve has recently been actually paying banks not to make loans. Right now banks can park money at the Federal Reserve and make risk-free income without having to make loans to the American people.

*Current Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has a track record of failure that is legendary, and yet George W. Bush and Barack Obama both backed him 100%.

*The Federal Reserve system is designed to create inflation. The truth is that the United States has only had a persistent, ongoing problem with inflation since the Federal Reserve was created back in 1913.

*Since 2008, what the Federal Reserve has been doing to our money supply has been absolutely insane. Eventually this is going to have very serious consequences for us.

*The U.S. government has handed over the task of "centrally planning" our economy to the Federal Reserve. The Fed decides what the target rate of inflation should be, what the target rate of unemployment should be, what interest rates are going to be and what the size of the money supply is going to be. This is quite similar to the "central planning" that goes on in communist nations, but very few people in our government seem upset by this.

*The Federal Reserve picks "winners" and "losers" in the financial system. For example, when the last financial crisis hit, the Fed bent over backwards to help out the big Wall Street banks, but hordes of small banks were left out in the cold.

*As mentioned above, the Federal Reserve has become way, way too powerful. The Fed is able to do a lot of things that the three branches of government are simply not able to do. Fortunately, there are a few of our leaders that are alarmed by this. For example, Ron Paul once told MSNBC that he believes that the Federal Reserve is now more powerful than Congress.....

"The regulations should be on the Federal Reserve. We should have transparency of the Federal Reserve. They can create trillions of dollars to bail out their friends, and we don’t even have any transparency of this. They’re more powerful than the Congress."

As long as we continue to use a debt-based currency that is controlled by a privately-owned central bank, we are going to continue to have permanent inflation and government debt that expands at an exponential pace.

The "central planning" done by the Federal Reserve has created bubble after bubble after bubble. Our dollars is on the verge of dying and our financial system is about to collapse.

The Federal Reserve system simply does not work.

Hopefully we can start sending more politicians to Washington D.C. that will be willing to stand up to the Federal Reserve.

But for now, the Federal Reserve is going to keep running around doing whatever it wants to do whether we like it or not.

Merck scientist admits vaccines were contaminated with leukemia, SV40, cancer viruses

Merck vaccine scientist Dr. Maurice Hilleman admitted presence of SV40, AIDS and cancer viruses in vaccines

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One of the most prominent vaccine scientists in the history of the vaccine industry -- a Merck scientist -- made a recording where he openly admits that vaccines given to Americans were contaminated with leukemia and cancer viruses. In response, his colleagues (who are also recorded here) break out into laughter and seem to think it's hilarious. They then suggest that because these vaccines are first tested in Russia, they will help the U.S. win the Olympics because the Russian athletes will all be "loaded down with tumors." (Thus, they knew these vaccines caused cancer in humans.)

This isn't some conspiracy theory -- these are the words of a top Merck scientist who probably had no idea that his recording would be widely reviewed across the internet (which didn't even exist when he made this recording). He probably thought this would remain a secret forever. When asked why this didn't get out to the press, he replied "Obviously you don't go out, this is a scientific affair within the scientific community."

In other words, vaccine scientists cover for vaccine scientists. They keep all their dirty secrets within their own circle of silence and don't reveal the truth about the contamination of their vaccines.

You can hear this interview at:
http://naturalnews.tv/v.asp?v=13EAA...

Here is the full transcript. (Thanks are due to Dr. Len Horowitz for finding this recording and making it publicly available.)

Transcript of audio interview with Dr. Maurice Hilleman

Dr. Len Horowitz: Listen now to the voice of the worlds leading vaccine expert Dr Maurice Hilleman, Chief of the Merck Pharmaceutical Company's vaccine division relay this problem he was having with imported monkeys. He best explains the origin of AIDS, but what you are about to hear was cut from any public disclosures.

Dr Maurice Hilleman: and I think that vaccines have to be considered the bargain basement technology for the 20th century.

Narrator: 50 years ago when Maurice Hilleman was a high school student in Miles City Montana, he hoped he might qualify as a management trainee for the local JC Penney's store. Instead he went on to pioneer more breakthroughs in vaccine research and development than anyone in the history of American medicine. Among the discoveries he made at Merck, are vaccines for mumps, rubella and measles…

Dr Edward Shorter: Tell me how you found SV40 and the polio vaccine.

Dr Maurice Hilleman: Well, that was at Merck. Yeah, I came to Merck. And uh, I was going to develop vaccines. And we had wild viruses in those days. You remember the wild monkey kidney viruses and so forth? And I finally after 6 months gave up and said that you cannot develop vaccines with these damn monkeys, we're finished and if I can't do something I'm going to quit, I'm not going to try it. So I went down to see Bill Mann at the zoo in Washington DC and I told Bill Mann, I said "look, I got a problem and I don't know what the hell to do." Bill Mann is a real bright guy. I said that these lousy monkeys are picking it up while being stored in the airports in transit, loading, off loading. He said, very simply, you go ahead and get your monkeys out of West Africa and get the African Green, bring them into Madrid unload them there, there is no other traffic there for animals, fly them into Philadelphia and pick them up. Or fly them into New York and pick them up, right off the airplane. So we brought African Greens in and I didn't know we were importing the AIDS virus at the time.

Miscellaneous background voices:…(laughter)… it was you who introduced the AIDS virus into the country. Now we know! (laughter) This is the real story! (laughter) What Merck won't do to develop a vaccine! (laughter)

Dr Maurice Hilleman: So what he did, he brought in, I mean we brought in those monkeys, I only had those and this was the solution because those monkeys didn't have the wild viruses but we…

Dr Edward Shorter: Wait, why didn't the greens have the wild viruses since they came from Africa?

Dr Maurice Hilleman: …because they weren't, they weren't, they weren't being infected in these group holding things with all the other 40 different viruses…

Dr Edward Shorter: but they had the ones that they brought from the jungle though...

Dr Maurice Hilleman: …yeah, they had those, but those were relatively few what you do you have a gang housing you're going to have an epidemic transmission of infection in a confined space. So anyway, the greens came in and now we have these and were taking our stocks to clean them up and god now I'm discovering new viruses. So, I said Judas Priest. Well I got an invitation from the Sister Kinney Foundation which was the opposing foundation when it was the live virus…

Dr Edward Shorter: Ah, right…

Dr Maurice Hilleman: Yeah, they had jumped on the Sabin's band wagon and they had asked me to come down and give a talk at the Sister Kinney Foundation meeting and I saw it was an international meeting and god, what am I going to talk about? I know what I'm going to do, I'm going to talk about the detection of non detectable viruses as a topic.

Dr Albert Sabin …there were those who didn't want a live virus vaccine… (unintelligible) …concentrated all its efforts on getting more and more people to use the killed virus vaccine, while they were supporting me for research on the live viruses.

Dr Maurice Hilleman: So now I got to have something (laughter), you know that going to attract attention. And gee, I thought that damn SV40, I mean that damn vaculating agent that we have, I'm just going to pick that particular one, that virus has got to be in vaccines, it's got to be in the Sabin's vaccines so I quick tested it (laughter) and sure enough it was in there.

Dr Edward Shorter: I'll be damned

Dr Maurice Hilleman: … And so now…

Dr Edward Shorter: …so you just took stocks of Sabin's vaccines off the shelf here at Merck…

Dr Maurice Hilleman: …yeah, well it had been made, it was made at Merck…

Dr Edward Shorter: You were making it for Sabin at this point?

Dr Maurice Hilleman: …Yeah, it was made before I came…

Dr Edward Shorter: yeah, but at this point Sabin is still just doing massive field trials…

Dr Maurice Hilleman: …uh huh

Dr Edward Shorter: okay,

Dr Maurice Hilleman: …in Russia and so forth. So I go down and I talked about the detection of non detectable viruses and told Albert, I said listen Albert you know you and I are good friends but I'm going to go down there and you're going to get upset. I'm going to talk about the virus that it's in your vaccine. You're going to get rid of the virus, don't worry about it, you're going to get rid of it… but umm, so of course Albert was very upset...

Dr Edward Shorter: What did he say?

Dr Maurice Hilleman: …well he said basically, that this is just another obfuscation that's going to upset vaccines. I said well you know, you're absolutely right, but we have a new era here we have a new era of the detection and the important thing is to get rid of these viruses.

Dr Edward Shorter: Why would he call it an obfuscation if it was a virus that was contaminating the vaccine?

Dr Maurice Hilleman: …well there are 40 different viruses in these vaccines anyway that we were inactivating and uh,

Dr Edward Shorter: but you weren't inactivating his though…

Dr Maurice Hilleman: …no that's right, but yellow fever vaccine had leukemia virus in it and you know this was in the days of very crude science. So anyway I went down and talked to him and said well, why are you concerned about it? Well I said "I'll tell you what, I have a feeling in my bones that this virus is different, I don't know why to tell you this but I …(unintelligible) …I just think this virus will have some long term effects." And he said what? And I said "cancer". (laughter) I said Albert, you probably think I'm nuts, but I just have that feeling. Well in the mean time we had taken this virus and put it into monkeys and into hamsters. So we had this meeting and that was sort of the topic of the day and the jokes that were going around was that "gee, we would win the Olympics because the Russians would all be loaded down with tumors." (laughter) This was where the vaccine was being tested, this was where… so, uhh, and it really destroyed the meeting and it was sort of the topic. Well anyway…

Dr Edward Shorter: Was this the physicians… (unintelligible) …meeting in New York?

Dr Maurice Hilleman …well no, this was at Sister Kinney…

Dr Edward Shorter: Sister Kinney, right…

Dr Maurice Hilleman: …and Del Becco (sp) got up and he foresaw problems with these kinds of agents.

Dr Edward Shorter: Why didn't this get out into the press?

Dr Maurice Hilleman: …well, I guess it did I don't remember. We had no press release on it. Obviously you don't go out, this is a scientific affair within the scientific community…

Voice of news reporter: …an historic victory over a dread disease is dramatically unfolded at the U of Michigan. Here scientists usher in a new medical age with the monumental reports that prove that the Salk vaccine against crippling polio to be a sensational success. It's a day of triumph for 40 year old Dr. Jonas E Salk developer of the vaccine. He arrives here with Basil O'Connor the head of the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis that financed the tests. Hundreds of reporters and scientists gathered from all over the nation gathered for the momentous announcement….

Dr Albert Sabin: …it was too much of a show, it was too much Hollywood. There was too much exaggeration and the impression in 1957 that was, no in 1954 that was given was that the problem had been solved , polio had been conquered.

Dr Maurice Hilleman: …but, anyway we knew it was in our seed stock from making vaccines. That virus you see, is one in 10,000 particles is not an activated… (unintelligible) …it was good science at the time because that was what you did. You didn't worry about these wild viruses.

Dr Edward Shorter: So you discovered, it wasn't being inactivated in the Salk vaccine?

Dr Maurice Hilleman: …Right. So then the next thing you know is, 3, 4 weeks after that we found that there were tumors popping up on these hamsters.

Dr. Len Horowitz: Despite AIDS and Leukemia suddenly becoming pandemic from "wild viruses" Hilleman said, this was "good science" at that time.

Gardasil HPV vaccines found contaminated with recombinant DNA that persists in human blood

Gardasil HPV vaccines found contaminated with recombinant DNA that persists in human blood

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(NaturalNews) In seeking answers to why adolescent girls are suffering devastating health damage after being injected with HPV vaccines, SANE Vax, Inc decided to have vials of Gardasil tested in a laboratory. There, they found over a dozen Gardasil vaccine vials to be contaminated with rDNA of the Human Papillomavirus (HPV). The vials were purchased in the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Spain, Poland and France, indicating Gardasil contamination is a global phenomenon.

This means that adolescents who are injected with these vials are being contaminated with a biohazard -- the rDNA of HPV. In conducting the tests, Dr. Sin Hang Lee found rDNA from both HPV-11 and HPV-18, which were described as "firmly attached to the aluminum adjuvant."

That aluminum is also found in vaccines should be frightening all by itself, given that aluminum should never be injected into the human body (it's toxic when ingested, and it specifically damages the nervous system). With the added discovery that the aluminum adjuvant also carries rDNA fragments of two different strains of Human Papillomavirus, this now reaches the level of a dangerous biohazard -- something more like a biological weapon rather than anything resembling medicine.

As SANE Vax explains in its announcement, these tests were conducted after an adolescent girl experienced "acute onset Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis within 24 hours" of being injected with an HPV vaccine. (http://sanevax.org/sane-vax-inc-dis...)

rDNA found in Gardasil is genetically engineered

The rDNA that was found to be contaminating Gardasil is not "natural" rDNA from the HPV virus itself. Rather, it is a genetically engineered form of HPV genetic code that is added to the vaccines during their manufacture.

As Dr. Lee, the pathologist who ran the laboratory tests identifying the biohazard contamination of Gardasil said:

"Natural HPV DNA does not remain in the bloodstream for very long. However, the HPV DNA in Gardasil is not 'natural' DNA. It is a recombinant HPV DNA (rDNA) -- genetically engineered -- to be inserted into yeast cells for VLP (virus-like-particle) protein production. rDNA is known to behave differently from natural DNA. It may enter a human cell, especially in an inflammatory lesion caused by the effects of the aluminum adjuvant, via poorly understood mechanisms. Once a segment of recombinant DNA is inserted into a human cell, the consequences are hard to predict. It may be in the cell temporarily or stay there forever, with or without causing a mutation. Now the host cell contains human DNA as well as genetically engineered viral DNA."

Innocent girls being injected with genetically engineered HPV rDNA

What all this means is that through Gardasil vaccines, innocent young girls are being injected with the recombinant DNA of HPV, and that this biohazardous substance persists in their blood. The implications of this are rather scary, as Dr. Lee explains:

"Once a segment of recombinant DNA is inserted into a human cell, the consequences are hard to predict. It may be in the cell temporarily or stay there forever, with or without causing a mutation. Now the host cell contains human DNA as well as genetically engineered viral DNA."

The vaccine industry, of course, has a long and dark history of its vaccines being contaminated with cancer-causing viruses and other frightening contaminants. Watch this astounding video of Merck scientist Dr. Hilleman openly admitting that polio vaccines were widely contaminated with SV40 viruses that cause cancer:

http://naturalnews.tv/v.asp?v=13EAA...

It's called "Merck vaccine scientist admits presence of SV40 and AIDS in vaccines - Dr. Maurice Hilleman" and was partially narrated by Dr. Len Horowitz. You can view the full transcript of this extraordinary interview at:
http://www.naturalnews.com/033584_D...

If you thought vaccines were safe, think again. Get informed. Learn the truth, and please share this story so that others may also be informed.

Listen up, folks: Why do you think the vaccine industry pushed so hard for total financial immunity under the government's vaccine injury compensation plan? Because they knew that if the truth ever got out about how many cases of cancer, autism and even death were truly caused by vaccines, they would be financially wiped out!

Resisting the Corporate Theft of Seeds

Resisting the Corporate Theft of Seeds

Unemployment benefit requests jumped to 428K

Unemployment benefit requests jumped to 428K

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of people applying for unemployment benefits jumped last week to the highest level in three months. It's a sign that the job market remains depressed.

The Labor Department said Thursday that weekly applications rose by 11,000 to a seasonally adjusted 428,000. The week included the Labor Day holiday.

Applications typically drop during short work weeks. In this case, applications didn't drop as much as the department expected, so the seasonally adjusted value rose. A Labor spokesman said the total wasn't affected by Hurricane Irene.

Still, applications appear to be trending up. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, rose for the fourth straight week to 419,500.

Applications need to fall below 375,000 to indicate that hiring is increasing enough to lower the unemployment rate. They haven't been below that level since February.

The economy added zero net jobs in August, the worst showing since September 2010. The unemployment rate stayed at 9.1 percent for the second straight month.

The job figures were weak because companies hired fewer workers and not because they stepped up layoffs, economists said. Business and consumer confidence fell last month after a series of events renewed recession fears.

The government reported that the economy barely grew in the first half of the year. Lawmakers fought over raising the debt ceiling. Standard & Poor's downgraded long-term U.S. debt for the first time in history. Stocks tumbled — the Dow lost nearly 16 percent of its value from July 21 through Aug. 10.

Businesses added only 17,000 jobs in August, which was a sharp drop from 156,000 in July. Government cut 17,000 jobs. Combined, total net payrolls did not change.

Unemployment benefit applications are considered a measure of the pace of layoffs.

The total number of people receiving benefits dipped 12,000 to 3.73 million, the third straight decline. But that doesn't include about 3.4 million additional people receiving extended benefits under emergency programs put in place during the recession. All told, about 7.14 million people received benefits for the week ending Aug. 27, the latest data available.

More jobs are desperately needed to fuel faster economic growth. Higher employment leads to more income. That boosts consumer spending, which accounts for about 70 percent of economic growth.

Higher gas and food prices have cut into their buying power this year. The economy expanded at an annual rate of just 0.7 percent, the slowest growth since the recession officially ended two years ago.

The weakness has raised pressure on the Federal Reserve and the White House to take steps to boost economic growth.

Many economists expect they will decide at its meeting next week to shift money out of short-term mortgage-backed securities and into longer-term Treasury bonds. The move could push down longer-term interest rates, including rates on mortgages, auto loans and other consumer and business borrowing.

President Barack Obama has proposed a $447 billion job-creation package. He wants to cut Social Security taxes for workers, extend unemployment benefits, cut taxes for small businesses and spend more federal money to build roads, bridges and other public works projects.

Republicans oppose the president's plan, particularly after he said he wants to pay for it with higher taxes on wealthier households, hedge fund managers and oil companies.

Targeting Dissent

Targeting Dissent

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Protesters at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota, September 1, 2008. (Photo: hanskuder)

Ten Years Later: Surveillance in the "Homeland" is a collaborative project with Truthout and ACLU Massachusetts.

How little - yet how much - has changed in the last 40 years. The COINTELPRO papers sound distinctly 21st century as they detail the monitoring of perceived threats to "national security" by the FBI, CIA, National Security Agency (NSA), Secret Service, and the military, as well as the intelligence bureaucracy's war on First Amendment protest activity.

The Church Committee investigation concluded in 1976 that the "unexpressed major premise of the programs was that a law enforcement agency has the duty to do whatever is necessary to combat perceived threats to the existing social and political order."

In addition to massive surveillance, assassinations and dirty tricks "by any means necessary" included the creation of NSA "watch lists" of Americans ranging "from members of radical political groups, to celebrities, to ordinary citizens involved in protests against their government," with names submitted by the FBI, Secret Service, military, CIA, and Defense Intelligence Agency. The secret lists, which included people whose activities "may result in civil disturbances or otherwise subvert the national security of the US," were used by the NSA to extract information of "intelligence value" from its stream of intercepted communications.

Also See: September 11: A Day of Death and a Decade of Constitutional Crisis

We learned that there was, apparently, no easy way to get off the FBI's "security index." Even after the criteria for fitting the profile of a "subversive" were revised in the mid-1950's, the names of people who no longer fit the definition remained on IBM punchcards, and were retained in field offices as "potential threats." A card would only be destroyed "if the subject agreed to become an FBI source or informant" or in another way indicated a "complete defection from subversive groups."

By 1960, the FBI had compiled 432,000 files on "subversive" individuals and groups, and they were getting hard to handle. The following decade brought the promise of a technological fix. Under the guidance of the attorney general at the time, Ramsey Clark, the FBI explored the potential for "computerizing the master index." The goal of Clark's Interdivision Information Unit was to harness "automatic data processing" to put information about people collected from external and internal sources in a "quickly retrievable form."

Forty years later, the same "by any means necessary" mindset is harnessed to a national surveillance industrial complex that pumps out some 50,000 intelligence reports every day into the FBI's Terrorist Screening Database (which contains over a million names, including aliases). This error-ridden "master list" is not to be confused with the National Counterterrorism Center's Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment (TIDE) system, which held 640,000 identities in March 2011. There are reported to be about a dozen terrorism watch lists or databases, and a single tip from a credible source is all it takes to get into one or more of them, while there is no reliable way to get out.

Given the legion of local, state and federal agents seeking out harbingers of "terrorist activity," the fact that espousing "radical" beliefs is grist for a Suspicious Activity Report (SAR) and the virtually unchecked ability of FBI operatives to spy on groups without suspicion of wrongdoing, it is not surprising that the same kind of groups that were infiltrated and spied on by the FBI, NSA, CIA, and Department of Defense (DoD) under COINTELPRO are featuring in Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) investigations and fusion center data banks. The secrecy shrouding "national security" matters and the blurred jurisdictions that turn FOIA requests into pieces in a "pass the buck" shell game have made it impossible to get a clear picture of the extent of spying on protected First Amendment activity. But leaks and oversight reports indicate that a 21st century Church Committee would find a mention of any group that challenges the status quo somewhere in the vast domestic surveillance labyrinth.

In his 2010 report, "A Review of the FBI's Investigation of Certain Domestic Advocacy Groups," Glenn Fine, the (now retired - and not replaced) inspector general of the Justice Department, concludes that the FBI had "little or no basis" for investigating many advocacy groups and individuals, and that it made false and misleading statements to the public and Congress to justify its surveillance of an antiwar rally organized by a peace and social justice organization, the Thomas Merton Center of Pennsylvania. Not only did it routinely classify actions involving nonviolent civil disobedience as "Acts of Terrorism matters," it also, "relied upon potential crimes that may not commonly be considered 'terrorism' (such as trespassing or vandalism)" to get people placed on watch lists and their travels and interactions tracked.

Around the country, databases have swelled with information about antiwar and other protests that are classified as "potential terrorist activity." Intelligence oversight reports indicate that the Pentagon, which defined protest in training materials as "low-level terrorism activity," monitored and shared intelligence on groups ranging from Alaskans for Peace and Justice to Planned Parenthood, and used Army signals intelligence in Louisiana to intercept civilian cell phone conversations. It was revealed late in 2005 that the DoD had a secret database called Threat and Local Observation Notice (TALON) maintained by its Counterintelligence Field Activity (CIFA) unit. Among its 13,000 reports were dozens detailing antiwar activity, along with photos of protesters. Meetings were sometimes infiltrated and information widely shared among partner agencies. Events classified as "threats" included the gathering of activists at a Quaker meeting house in Lakewood, Florida, to plan a protest of military recruiting at the local high school, a Boston protest outside a military recruiting center and a peace march through the streets of Akron, Ohio, tailed by local police who had been tipped off by the Pentagon.

Although CIFA was disbanded after the extent of its spying was revealed, the TALON database has been preserved and is expected to be part of a new repository of information housed at the Pentagon's Defense Counterintelligence and Human Intelligence Center. A notice in the Federal Register for June 15, 2010, states that the new repository will have a broad domestic and homeland security mandate and will amass personal data, citizenship documentation, biometric data and "reports of investigation, collection, statements of individuals, affidavits, correspondence, and other documentation pertaining to investigative or analytical efforts by the DoD and other US agencies to identify or counter foreign intelligence and terrorist threats."

The Posse Comitatus Act's substantial limitations on the use of the military in domestic law enforcement appear to have all but vanished. Indeed, in Washington State, John Towery - a member of Force Protection Service at Fort Lewis who infiltrated and spied on peace groups in Olympia and shared information with the Army, JTTF, the FBI, local police departments and the state fusion center - is being sued by groups claiming his undercover surveillance violated the Act. A document leaked by WikiLeaks outlines how a "fusion cell" in a military police garrison integrated with local, county, regional, state and federal law enforcement can avoid the usual constraints on military intelligence by operating "under the auspice and oversight of the police discipline and standards." In the words of former Olympia City Council member T.J. Johnson, who was one of the people spied on by Towery, "The militarization of domestic law enforcement is one of the more disturbing trends in recent years."

Leaks from fusion centers reveal that peace groups share a place on surveillance databases with environmental groups, animal rights groups, student groups, anti-death penalty organizations, Muslim organizations, conspiracy theorists, Ron Paul supporters, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Nation of Islam and "Black Extremists." The Virginia Fusion Center cited various historically black colleges and universities as potential "radicalization nodes" for terrorists. The Maryland State Police, which works with the FBI as part of a JTTF and shares information with the state's fusion center, infiltrated protest activity, kept error-ridden "terrorist" files on activists and was notified by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) about what groups should be monitored. Bette Hoover, a retired nurse who is a grandmother and Quaker antiwar activist, was surprised when documents came to light listing her as a member of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and direct action group The Ruckus Society - organizations she never belonged to - and placing her at demonstrations she had never attended. She now understands why she receives special scrutiny at airports.

Given the enormous dimensions of the secretive echo chamber in which flawed information is disseminated, it is difficult to see how the record can ever be set straight. Once a person is in a database, there seems to be no more inclination to delete all traces of that individual (assuming this is even possible) than to remove an IBM punch card from J. Edgar Hoover's security index. The FBI today wants to keep all Suspicious Activity Reports in its eGuardian database, on the grounds that even if there is no connection to terrorism or crime today, one may become clear tomorrow as it continues to add information to a person's profile and mine information about their associations.

In the age of the Total Information Awareness program, there appears to be no end to the appetite for data to be stored and mined, and all sorts of agencies want a share of the action. There was little attempt to rein in the NSA after whistleblowers Russell Tice and Thomas Tamm revealed an "overcollection" of data of staggering proportions through the Agency's access to the phone calls, text messages, faxes and emails affecting the communications of "all Americans" - including Bill Clinton. Data captured through the NSA's warrantless surveillance program has reportedly been systematically archived for data mining purposes.

The US Joint Special Operations Command is meanwhile establishing a mega fusion center at a secret address near the Pentagon which will serve as "the offense end of counterterrorism, tracking and targeting terrorist threats that have surfaced in recent years" and advising domestic law enforcement "in dealing with suspected terrorists inside the US." It will feature a cloud-computing network combining "all elements of US national security, from the eavesdropping capabilities of the National Security Agency to Homeland Security's border-monitoring databases."

Not to be outdone, the FBI has erected a giant Investigative Data Warehouse (IDW) containing 1.5 billion records and counting - much of it classified - including information collected through nearly 300,000 National Security Letters, criminal records, financial records, intelligence reports, gang information, terrorist information, open source data and more. According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, whose Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) litigation has brought the data trove to light - the "future of the IDW is data mining" as the FBI uses "link analysis" and "pattern analysis" in the hunt for "pre-crime."

The neverending hunger for data may be one reason why the FBI, in late 2010, raided the homes and seized computers, cell phones and files belonging to peace and justice activists in Illinois, Minnesota and Michigan. Twenty-three of them have been issued with grand jury subpoenas, some for allegedly giving "material support" to a foreign terrorist organization by meeting with groups in Colombia and Palestine.

"We're conflating proper dissent and terrorism," warned former FBI agent and whistleblower Coleen Rowley:

A secretive, unaccountable, post 9/11 homeland security apparatus has increasingly turned inward on American citizens. The evidence includes everything from controversial airport body scanners to the FBI's raids last September on antiwar activists' homes ... Agents are now given a green light, for instance, to check off "statistical achievements" by sending well-paid manipulative informants into mosques and peace groups. Forgotten are worries about targeting and entrapping people not predisposed to violence.... The massive and largely irrelevant data collection now occurring only adds hay to the haystack, making it even harder to see patterns and anticipate events. "Top Secret America" needs to ask itself who is more guilty of furnishing "material aid to terrorism: - its own operatives, or the activists and protesters it so wrongheadedly targets.

U.S.-Saudi Arabia Agreeing on Less And Less

U.S.-Saudi Arabia Agreeing on Less And Less

Go To Original

Accumulating strains between the United States and Saudi Arabia are steadily weakening one of the world's longest lasting and most effective bilateral alliances, according to observers here.

The latest point of contention – Washington's opposition to this month's anticipated bid by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) for statehood – is only one of a number of issues, ranging from how to react to the so-called "Arab Spring" to the price of oil, that threaten the relationship.

"We're seeing an increasingly transactional relationship," according to former ambassador Chas Freeman, who served as Washington's top diplomat in Riyadh during the first Gulf War in the early 1990s.


Washington has been losing credibility with the Saudis since even before the 9/11 attacks when Israel ignored President George W. Bush's pleas to ease its repression during the second Palestinian intifada, Freeman noted. He spoke at a forum on U.S.-Saudi relations here Monday co-sponsored by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Dubai-based Gulf Research Center (GRC).

Prof. Gregory Gause, a prominent Saudi expert at the University of Vermont, agreed. "The relationship is now based more on common interests than on a shared worldview," he said. "What keeps it together is the lack of an alternative."

The increasingly fraught relationship was brought home once again Monday when Prince Turki al-Faisal, the former director of Saudi Arabia's intelligence forces who also served as ambassador here from 2005 to 2007, published an op-ed in the New York Times entitled "Veto a State, Lose an Ally".

If Washington does not support the Palestinian bid for U.N. membership, "Saudi Arabia would no longer be able to cooperate with America in the same way it historically," he wrote.

A veto, he warned, would not only "have profound negative consequences" for U.S.-Saudi relations but would also "undermine (U.S.) relations with the Muslim world, empower Iran and threaten regional security".

U.S.-Saudi relations date back to the 1930s, but became much stronger during World War II, when Franklin Roosevelt declared Saudi Arabia's defense a "vital" U.S. interest, and the early days of the Cold War. Ties have always rested primarily on a basic bargain of security for oil.

With the exception of Riyadh's participation in the Arab oil embargo during the October 1973 war, the two countries have cooperated closely on a range of issues, particularly during the 1980s when Saudi Arabia helped finance the so-called "Reagan Doctrine" whose aim was to overthrow purportedly pro-Soviet governments in Central America, southern Africa, and Afghanistan.

In the early 1990s, Saudi Arabia served as the launching pad for the U.S.-led campaign to oust Iraqi forces from Kuwait, and Washington maintained a not insignificant military presence in the kingdom until shortly after 9/11.

But the relationship suffered a number of blows in the first years of the Bush administration.

In addition to then-Crown Prince Abdullah's disappointment with Washington's inability to rein in Israeli actions in the Palestinian Territories, the fact that 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers were Saudi nationals created a storm of negative publicity, especially about the degree of private Saudi backing for Al-Qaeda and other violent Islamist movements.

Adding to bilateral tensions was the Bush administration's failure to respond positively to Abdullah's plan for peace with Israel that was adopted by the Arab League at its Beirut Summit in 2002, and the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. The invasion was strongly opposed by Riyadh which feared – correctly, as it turned out – that Saddam Hussein's removal would significantly enhance Iran's regional power and influence.

Of the three post-9/11 issues, only one – cooperation on counterterrorism and related efforts to defeat Al-Qaeda and other radical Islamist movements - has seen significant improvement in bilateral relations, according to both sides.

"They're not just killing terrorists… but they're also attacking the ideology of terrorism," according to Freeman. "It is one area of the relationship that has been flourishing."

The other issues remain serious points of contention, however. While President Barack Obama has repeatedly praised the Arab Peace Initiative, as the Abdullah plan is now known, he has been unable to persuade Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to accept it as a basis of negotiations with the Palestinians.

"We were full of enthusiasm" for Obama's election and his initial policy statements," said Abdulaziz Sager, GRC's chairman and founder. "Somehow today, unfortunately, by saying the U.S. will veto Palestine (at the U.N.), that has created a lot of disappointment."

At the same time, Obama's plans to withdraw all but a few thousand U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of this year is seen by the Saudis as likely to consolidate Iran's influence over its western neighbor, whose Shi'a-led government has shown little interest in reconciling with its Sunni minority, and beyond.

"There is no more buffer state in Iraq," noted Mustafa Alani, director of the GRC's Security and Terrorism Studies program, who said Tehran posed both a "strategic threat and an internal threat" to the Saudis.

To these strains, new ones have been added as a result of this year's "Arab Spring".

Abdullah is reported to have been personally appalled by Obama's pressing Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to resign, and Washington and Riyadh clashed publicly over the crackdown by Bahrain's Sunni monarchy against its majority Shi'a population, especially after as many as 2,000 Saudi and Emirati troops were sent to shore up King Hamad.

That operation was seen as the most dramatic example of what analysts have described as Riyadh's "counter-revolutionary agenda" in the Gulf, if not the wider region.

"The United States has had a very ambiguous position (on the Arab Spring), and I think the relationship with Saudi Arabia has not helped," said Marina Ottaway, a democratization specialist at Carnegie.

"The differences (between the two countries) …on the direction political evolution in the Arab world should take …are sharpening," according to Freeman, who also expressed concern about the impact of growing Islamophobia in the U.S. and the West on relations with Riyadh.

Moreover, the budgetary drain caused by Saudi Arabia's multi-billion- dollar aid packages to shore up fellow-monarchies and other conservative regimes in the region, as well as the 130 billion dollars in new domestic subsidies it announced earlier this year to pre-empt internal demands for change, is likely to translate into higher global oil prices, according to Gause.

"Oil is one thing that could lead to more tensions in the future," he said.

Most observers note that Riyadh's continued reliance on U.S. arms sales – it agreed in principle late last year to buy at least 60 billion dollars in advanced military aircraft over a 20-year period – as well as its continuing purchase of dollars shows that some of the relationship's fundamentals remain very much in tact.

But Washington should not be over-confident, according to Freeman, who noted that Riyadh is increasingly looking eastwards, particularly in its commercial relations.

U.S.-manufactured products and other exports now claim about half of the Saudi market share, less than they did a decade ago, and East Asia now accounts for half of all Saudi trade.

China overtook the U.S. as Riyadh's top oil customer at about the time of the Iraq invasion which also coincided with the withdrawal of all U.S. soldiers from the kingdom.

America And Oil

America And Oil

Go To Original

America and Oil. It’s like bacon and eggs, Batman and Robin. As the old song lyric went, you can’t have one without the other. Once upon a time, it was also a surefire formula for national greatness and global preeminence. Now, it’s a guarantee of a trip to hell in a hand basket. The Chinese know it. Does Washington?

America’s rise to economic and military supremacy was fueled in no small measure by its control over the world’s supply of oil. Oil powered the country’s first giant corporations, ensured success in World War II, and underlay the great economic boom of the postwar period. Even in an era of nuclear weapons, it was the global deployment of oil-powered ships, helicopters, planes, tanks, and missiles that sustained America’s superpower status during and after the Cold War. It should come as no surprise, then, that the country’s current economic and military decline coincides with the relative decline of oil as a major source of energy.

If you want proof of that economic decline, just check out the way America's share of the world's gross domestic product has been steadily dropping, while its once-powerhouse economy now appears incapable of generating forward momentum. In its place, robust upstarts like China and India are posting annual growth rates of 8% to 10%. When combined with the growing technological prowess of those countries, the present figures are surely just precursors to a continuing erosion of America’s global economic clout.

Militarily, the picture appears remarkably similar. Yes, a crack team of SEAL commandos did kill Osama bin Laden, but that single operation -- greeted in the United States with a jubilation more appropriate to the ending of a major war -- hardly made up for the military’s lackluster performance in two recent wars against ragtag insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan. If anything, almost a decade after the Taliban was overthrown, it has experienced a remarkable resurgence even facing the full might of the U.S., while the assorted insurgent forces in Iraq appear to be holding their own. Meanwhile, Iran -- that bĂȘte noire of American power in the Middle East -- seem as powerful as ever. Al Qaeda may be on the run, but as recent developments in Egypt, Libya, Syria, Yemen, and unstable Pakistan suggest, the United States wields far less clout and influence in the region now than it did before it invaded Iraq in 2003.

If American power is in decline, so is the relative status of oil in the global energy equation. In the 2000 edition of its International Energy Outlook, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) of the U.S. Department of Energy confidently foresaw ever-expanding oil production in Africa, Alaska, the Persian Gulf area, and the Gulf of Mexico, among other areas. It predicted, in fact, that world oil output would reach 97 million barrels per day in 2010 and a staggering 115 million barrels in 2020. EIA number-crunchers concluded as well that oil would long retain its position as the world’s leading source of energy. Its 38% share of the global energy supply, they said, would remain unchanged.

What a difference a decade makes. By 2010, a new understanding about the natural limits of oil production had sunk in at the EIA and its experts were predicting a disappointingly modest petroleum future. In that year, world oil output had reached just 82 million barrels per day, a stunning 15 million less than expected. Moreover, in the 2010 edition of its International Energy Outlook, the EIA was now projecting 2020 output at 85 million barrels per day, hardly more than the 2010 level and 30 million barrels below its projections of just a decade earlier, which were relegated to the dustbin of history. (Such projections, by the way, are for conventional, liquid petroleum and exclude “tough” and “dirty” sources that imply energy desperation -- like Canadian tar sands, shale oil, and other “unconventional” fuels.)

The most recent EIA projections also show oil’s share of the world total energy supply -- far from remaining constant at 38% -- had already dropped to 35% in 2010 and was projected to continue declining to 32% in 2020 and 30% in 2035. In its place, natural gas and renewable sources of energy are expected to assume ever more prominent roles.

So here’s the question all of us should consider, in part because until now no one has: Are the decline of the United States and the decline of oil connected? Careful analysis suggests that there are good reasons to believe they are.

From Standard Oil to the Carter Doctrine

More than 100 years ago, America’s first great economic expansion abroad was spearheaded by its giant oil companies, notably John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Company -- a saga told with great panache in Daniel Yergin’s classic book The Prize. These companies established powerful beachheads in Mexico and Venezuela, and later in parts of Asia, North Africa, and of course the Middle East. As they became ever more dependent on the extraction of oil in distant lands, American foreign policy began to be reorganized around acquiring and protecting U.S. oil concessions in major producing areas.

With World War II and the Cold War, oil and U.S. national security became thoroughly intertwined. After all, the United States had prevailed over the Axis powers in significant part because it possessed vast reserves of domestic petroleum while Germany and Japan lacked them, depriving their forces of vital fuel supplies in the final years of the war. As it happened, though, the United States was using up its domestic reserves so rapidly that, even before World War II was over, Washington turned its attention to finding new overseas sources of crude that could be brought under American control. As a result, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and a host of other Middle Eastern producers would become key U.S. oil suppliers under American military protection.

There can be little question that, for a time, American domination of world oil production would prove a potent source of economic and military power. After World War II, an abundance of cheap U.S. oil spurred the development of vast new industries, including civilian air travel, highway construction, a flood of suburban housing and commerce, mechanized agriculture, and plastics.

Abundant oil also underlay the global expansion of the country’s military power, as the Pentagon garrisoned the world while becoming one of the planet’s great oil guzzlers. Its global dominion came to rest on an ever-expanding array of oil-powered ships, planes, tanks, and missiles. As long as the Middle East -- and especially Saudi Arabia -- served essentially as an American gas station and oil remained a cheap commodity, all this was relatively painless.

In addition, thanks to its control of Middle Eastern oil, Washington had its hand on the economic jugular of Europe and Japan, both of which remain highly dependent on imports from the region. Not surprisingly, then, one president after another insisted Washington would not permit any rival to challenge American control of that oil jugular -- a principle enshrined in the Carter Doctrine of January 1980, which stated that the United States would go to war if any hostile power threatened the flow of Persian Gulf oil.

The use of military force, in accordance with that doctrine, has been a staple of American foreign policy since 1987, when President Ronald Reagan first applied the “principle” by authorizing U.S. warships to escort Kuwaiti tankers during the Iran-Iraq War. George H. W. Bush invoked the same principle when he authorized American military intervention during the first Gulf War of 1990-1991, as did Bill Clinton when he ordered missile attacks on Iraq in the late 1990s and George W. Bush when he launched the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

At that moment, the United States and oil seemed at the pinnacle of their power. As the victor in the Cold War and then the first Gulf War, the American military was ranked supreme, with no conceivable challenger on the horizon. And nowhere were there more fervent believers in “unilateralist” America’s ability to “shock and awe” the planet than in Washington. The nation’s economy still appeared relatively robust as a major housing bubble was just beginning to form. China’s economy was then a paltry 15% as big as ours. Only seven years later, it would be approximately 40% as large. By invading Iraq, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld planned to demonstrate the crushing superiority of America’s new high-tech weaponry, while setting the stage for further military exploits in the region, including a possible attack on Iran. (A neocon quip caught the mood of the moment: “Everyone wants to go to Baghdad. Real men want to go to Tehran.”)

The future of oil seemed no less robust in 2003: demand was brisk, crude prices ranged from about $25 to $30 per barrel, and the concept of “peak oil” -- the notion that planetary supplies were more limited than imagined, that in the near future production would reach its peak and subsequently contract -- was still considered laughable by most industry experts. By invading Iraq and setting up permanent military bases at the very heart of the global oil heartlands, the White House expected to ensure continued control over the flow of Persian Gulf oil and gain access to Iraq’s voluminous reserves, the largest in the world after those of Saudi Arabia and Iran.

From an imperial point of view, it was a beautiful dream from which Americans were destined to awaken abruptly. As a start, it quickly became apparent that American technological prowess was no panacea for urban guerrilla warfare, and so a vast occupation army was soon needed to “pacify” Iraq -- and then pacify it again, and again, and again. A similar dilemma arose in Afghanistan, where a tribal-based religious insurgency proved remarkably immune to superior American firepower. To sustain hundreds of thousands of American soldiers in those distant, often inaccessible areas, the Department of Defense became the world’s single biggest consumer of oil, burning more on a daily basis than the entire nation of Sweden -- this, at a time when the price of crude rose to $50, then $80, and finally soared over the $100 mark. Procuring and delivering ever-increasing amounts of gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel to American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan may not be the principal reason for the wars’ spiraling costs, but it certainly ranks among the major causes. (Just the price of providing air conditioning to American troops in those two countries is now estimated at approximately $20 billion a year.)

With oil likely to prove increasingly scarce and costly, the Department of Defense is being forced to reexamine its fundamental operating principles when it comes to energy. Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld’s notion that troops could be replaced by growing numbers of oil-powered super-weapons no longer appears viable, even for a power already garrisoning much of the planet for which “unending” war has become the new norm.

Yes, the Pentagon is looking into the use of biofuels, solar arrays, and other green alternatives to petroleum to power its planes and tanks, but any such future still seems an almost inconceivably long way off. And yet the thought of more wars involving the commitment of vast numbers of ground troops to protracted counterinsurgency operations in distant parts of the Greater Middle East at $400 or more for every gallon of gas used appears increasingly unpalatable for the globe’s former “sole superpower.” (Hence, the sudden burst of enthusiasm over drone wars.) Seen from this perspective, the decline of America and the decline of oil appear closely connected indeed.

Don’t Bet on Washington

And this is hardly the only apparent connection. Because the American economy is so closely tied to oil, it is especially vulnerable to oil’s growing scarcity, price volatility, and the relative paucity of its suppliers. Consider this: at present, the United States obtains about 40% of its total energy supply from oil, far more than any other major economic power. This means that when prices rise or oil supplies are disrupted for any reason -- hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico, war in the Middle East, environmental disasters of any sort -- the economy is at particular risk. While a burst housing bubble and financial shenanigans lay behind the Great Recession that began in 2008, it’s worth remembering that it also coincided with the beginning of a stratospheric rise in oil prices. As anyone who has pulled into a gas station knows, at an average price of nearly $3.70 a gallon for regular gas, the staying power of high-priced oil has crippled what, until recently, was being called a “weak recovery.”

Despite the great debt debate in Washington, oil is a factor seldom mentioned when American indebtedness comes up. And yet the United States imports 50% to 60% of its oil supply, and with prices averaging at least $80 to $90 per barrel, we’re sending approximately $1 billion every day to foreign oil providers. These payments constitute the single biggest contribution to the country’s balance-of-payments deficit and so is a major source of the nation’s economic weakness.

Consider for comparison our leading economic rival: China. That country relies on oil for only about 20% of its total energy supply, about half as much as we do. Instead, the Chinese have turned to coal, which they possess in great abundance and can produce at a relatively low cost. (China, of course, pays a heavy environmental price for its coal dependency.) The Chinese do import some petroleum, but considerably less than the U.S., so their import expenses are considerably smaller. Nor do its oil-import costs have the same enfeebling effect, since China enjoys a positive balance of trade (in part, at America’s expense). As a result, when oil prices soared to record heights in 2008 and again in 2011, Beijing experienced none of the trauma felt in Washington.

No doubt many factors explain the startling rise of the Chinese economy, including lower costs of production and weaker environmental regulations. It is hard, however, to avoid the conclusion that our greater reliance on oil as it begins its decline has played a significant role in the changing balance of economic power between the two countries.

All this leads to a critical question: How should America respond to these developments in the years ahead?

As a start, there can be no question that the United States needs to move quickly to reduce its reliance on oil and increase the availability of other energy sources, especially renewable ones that pose no threat to the environment. This is not merely a matter of reducing our reliance on imported oil, as some have suggested. As long as oil remains our preeminent source of energy, we will be painfully vulnerable to the vicissitudes of the global oil market, wherever problems may arise. Only by embracing forms of energy immune to international disruption and capable of promoting investment at home can the foundations be laid for future economic progress. Of course, this is easy enough to write, but with Washington in the grip of near-total political paralysis, it appears that continuing American decline, possibly of a precipitous sort, could be in the cards.

And don’t think that China will get away scot-free either. If it doesn’t quickly embrace the new energy technologies, the environmental costs of its excessive reliance on coal will, sooner or later, cripple its development as well. Unlike Washington, however, the Chinese leadership not only recognizes this, but is acting on it by making colossal investments in green energy technologies. If China succeeds in dominating this field -- as has already begun to happen -- it could leave the United States in the dust when it comes to economic growth. Ditching oil for the new energy technologies should be America’s top economic priority, but if you’re in a betting mood, you probably shouldn’t put your money on Washington.

Click here for Tom Englehardt's reponse: Michael Klare, Is Washington Out of Gas?

Former 4-star U.S General admits to America Foreign Policy Coup

One Betrayal Too Many

One Betrayal Too Many

Go To Original

It’s getting too late to give President Barack Obama a pass on the economy. Sure, he inherited an enormous mess from George W., who whistled “Dixie” while the banking system imploded. But it’s time for Democrats to admit that their guy bears considerable responsibility for not turning things around.

He blindly followed President Bush’s would-be remedy of throwing money at the banks and getting nothing in return for beleaguered homeowners. Sadly, Obama has proved to be nothing more than a Bill Clinton clone triangulating with the Wall Street lobbyists at the expense of ordinary folks.

That fatal arc of betrayal was captured by a headline in Tuesday’s New York Times: “Soaring Poverty Casts Spotlight on ‘Lost Decade.’ ” The Census Bureau reported that there are now 46.2 million Americans living below the official poverty line—the highest number in the 52 years since that statistic was first measured—and median household income has fallen back to the 1996 level. As Harvard economist Lawrence Katz summarized this dreary news: “This is truly a lost decade. We think of America as a place where every generation is doing better, but we’re looking at a period when the median family is in worse shape than it was in the late 1990s.”

The late 1990s, it should be noted, is when President Clinton, working with Phil Gramm, the Republican head of the Senate Banking Committee, pushed through two critical pieces of legislation ending effective regulation of the banks. The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act smashed the wall between high-flying Wall Street investment firms and the once staid commercial banks entrusted with the deposits and mortgages of America’s innocent souls. The next year Clinton signed the Commodity Futures Modernization Act, banning any effective regulation of the rapidly expanded trade in the collateralized debt obligations and credit default swaps that have since haunted the world’s economy.

The collapse of those toxic securities led to the housing crisis and resulted in 15.1 percent of Americans now living in poverty, the same level as when Bill Clinton took office. But thanks to another one of Clinton’s grand triangulation strategies, the one he called “welfare reform,” the impoverished are now denied the safety net that existed before the Clinton presidency. Although 22 percent of U.S. children are now below the poverty line, the Aid to Families With Dependent Children program no longer exists.

Some of us who voted for Obama thought he was no Clinton, but he was and is, as was demonstrated in his first days in office when he appointed two key veterans of the Clinton Treasury Department, Lawrence Summers and Timothy Geithner, to head up the Obama economic team. Geithner, as treasury secretary, is the point man for the administration’s push to pass the so-called American Jobs Act, which the president hyped in his Sept. 8 speech to Congress and the nation. It was pure Clinton bull: I feel your pain while I help the superrich pick your pocket.

Space permits only one example, that of General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt, whom Obama selected to head his “Jobs Council of leaders from different industries who are developing a wide range of new ideas to help companies grow and create jobs.” Was that some cruel joke? GE under Immelt has grown and created jobs, but they are abroad rather than in our own troubled country. As a result, by the end of last year, only 134,000 of GE’s workforce of 304,000 were based in the United States; the remainder—and 82 percent of the company’s profit—were sheltered abroad.

Ironically, GE’s ability to avoid taxes was restricted by President Ronald Reagan, who had once been a spokesman for GE but was outraged by the company’s use of tax loopholes. It remained for President Clinton to offer GE some new tax breaks. As a result of being able to shelter profit abroad last year, GE had profits of $14.2 billion but claimed a tax benefit of $3.2 billion. Immelt was the elephant in the room when Obama said in his speech last week: “Our tax code should not give an advantage to companies that can afford the best-connected lobbyists. It should give an advantage to companies that invest and create jobs right here in the United States of America.”

It has been a long time since GE was creating jobs here during its “better light bulb” days, and the last spurt of GE participation in the U.S. economy came through its unit GE Capital, which specialized in toxic mortgage lending that once produced more than half of the company’s profits but ultimately led to a taxpayer bailout.

Someone who knows a great deal about that sort of scam is Elizabeth Warren, the consumer advocate and Harvard law professor pushed out of Obama’s inner circle. In launching her campaign for the U.S. Senate in Massachusetts this week, Warren posted a video that clearly defined the enemy:

“Washington is rigged for big corporations. A big company, like GE, pays nothing in taxes, and we’re asking college students to take on even more debt to get an education?”

Obama in appointing Immelt last January praised him as a business leader who “understands what it takes for America to compete in the global economy.” Apparently, what Immelt understands is that what it takes to satisfy corporate interests instead of national needs is conning a president into looking the other way while you send jobs abroad.

Sen. Bernie Sanders: Is Poverty a Death Sentence?

Is Poverty a Death Sentence?

By Sen. Bernie Sanders, Reader Supported News

14 September 11

he crisis of poverty in America is one of the great moral and economic issues facing our country. It is very rarely talked about in the mainstream media. It gets even less attention in Congress. Why should people care? Many poor people don't vote. They certainly don't make large campaign contributions, and they don't have powerful lobbyists representing their interests.

Here's why we all should care. There are 46 million Americans - about one in six - living below the poverty line. That's the largest number on record, according to a new report released Tuesday by the Census Bureau. About 49.9 million Americans lacked health insurance, the report also said. That number has soared by 13.3 million since 2000.

Moreover, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United States has both the highest overall poverty rate and the highest childhood poverty rate of any major industrialized country on earth. This comes at a time when the U.S. also has the most unequal distribution of wealth and income of any major country on earth with the top 1 percent earning more than the bottom 50 percent.

According to the latest figures from the OECD, 21.6 percent of American children live in poverty. This compares to 3.7 percent in Denmark, 5 percent in Finland, 5.5 percent in Norway 6.9 percent in Slovenia, 7 percent in Sweden, 7.2 percent Hungary, 8.3 percent in Germany, 8.8 percent in the Czech Republic, 9.3 percent in France, 9.4 percent in Switzerland. I suppose we can take some comfort in that our numbers are not quite as bad as Turkey (23.5 percent), Chile (24 percent) and Mexico (25.8 percent).

When we talk about poverty in America, we think about people who may be living in substandard and overcrowded homes or may be homeless. We think about people who live with food insecurity, who may not know how they are going to feed themselves or their kids tomorrow. We think about people who, in cold states like Vermont, may not have enough money to purchase the fuel they need to keep warm in the winter. We think about people who cannot afford health insurance or access to medical care. We think about people who cannot afford an automobile or transportation, and can't get to their job or the grocery store. We think about senior citizens who may have to make a choice between buying the prescription drugs he or she needs, or purchasing an adequate supply of food.

I want to focus on an enormously important point. And that is that poverty in America today leads not only to anxiety, unhappiness, discomfort and a lack of material goods. It leads to death. Poverty in America today is a death sentence for tens and tens of thousands of our people which is why the high childhood poverty rate in our country is such an outrage.



Some facts:

  • At a time when we are seeing major medical breakthroughs in cancer and other terrible diseases for the people who can afford those treatments, the reality is that life expectancy for low-income women has declined over the past 20 years in 313 counties in our country. In other words, in some areas of America, women are now dying at a younger age than they used to.


  • In America today, people in the highest income group level, the top 20 percent, live, on average, at least 6.5 years longer than those in the lowest income group. Let me repeat that. If you are poor in America you will live 6.5 years less than if you are wealthy or upper-middle class.


  • In America today, adult men and women who have graduated from college can expect to live at least 5 years longer than people who have not finished high school.


  • In America today tens of thousands of our fellow citizens die unnecessarily because they cannot get the medical care they need. According to Reuters (September 17, 2009), nearly 45,000 people die in the United States each year - one every 12 minutes - in large part because they lack health insurance and cannot get good care. Harvard Medical School researchers found in an analysis released on Thursday."


  • In 2009, the infant mortality rate for African American infants was twice that of white infants.

I recite these facts because I believe that as bad as the current situation is with regard to poverty, it will likely get worse in the immediate future. As a result of the greed, recklessness and illegal behavior of Wall Street we are now in the midst of the worst economic downturn since the 1930s. Millions of workers have lost their jobs and have slipped out of the middle class and into poverty. Poverty is increasing.

Further, despite the reality that our deficit problem has been caused by the recession and declining revenue, two unpaid for wars and tax breaks for the wealthy, there are some in Congress who wish to decimate the existing safety net which provides a modicum of security for the elderly, the sick, the children and lower income people. Despite an increase in poverty, some of these people would like to cut or end Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, home heating assistance, nutrition programs and help for the disabled and the homeless.

To the degree that they are successful, there is no question in my mind that many more thousands of men, women and children will die.

From a moral perspective, it is not acceptable that we allow so much unnecessary suffering and preventable death to continue. From an economic perspective and as we try to fight our way out of this terrible recession, it makes no sense that we push to the fringe so many people who could be of such great help to us.