Sunday, December 26, 2010
The bill, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011, was approved by all 100 senators as required and by a voice vote in the House.
The House had approved the bill, now sent to President Barack Obama to sign into law, five days earlier in a 341-48 roll call, but needed to vote on it again after the Senate altered it in the interim.
The proposed figure for the Pentagon's 2011 war chest includes, in addition to the base budget, $158.7 billion for what are now euphemistically referred to as overseas contingency operations: The military occupation of Iraq and the war in Afghanistan.
The $725 billion figure, although $17 billion more than the White House had requested, is not the final word on the subject, however, as supplements could be demanded as early as the beginning of next year, especially in regard to the Afghan war that will then be in its eleventh calendar year.
Even as it currently is, the amount is the highest in constant dollars (pegged at any given year's dollar and adjusted for inflation) since 1945, the final year of the Second World War. With recent U.S. census figures at 308 million, next year the Pentagon will spend $2,354 for every citizen of the country at the $725 billion price tag alone.
Last year's Pentagon budget, by way of comparison, was $680 billion, a base budget of $533.8 billion and the remainder for operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. In July of this year Congress approved the 2010 Supplemental Appropriations Act which contained an additional $37 billion for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Next year's defense authorization of $725 billion compares to, according to the Center for Defense Information, a Pentagon budget of $444.6 billion in 1946; $460.4 billion in 1968, the highest yearly amount during the Vietnam War; and $443.4 billion in 1988, the highest during the eight years of the Ronald Reagan administration's massive military buildup. (Numbers in 2004 constant dollars.) 
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute estimates American military spending for 2009 to have accounted for 43 percent of the world total. Carl Conetta, co-director of the Project on Defense Alternatives, earlier this year estimated the 2010 U.S. defense budget to constitute 47 percent of total worldwide military expenditures and to amount to 19 percent of all American federal spending.
In addition, Pentagon spending has increased by 100 percent since 1998 and "the Obama budget plans to spend more on the Pentagon over eight years than any administration has since World War II." 
With 2.25 million full-time civilian and military personnel, excluding part-time National Guard and Reserve members, the Defense Department is the U.S.'s largest employer, outstripping Walmart with 1.4 million employees and the U.S Post Office with 599,000. 
"Add in what Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs, and the Energy departments spend on defense and total US military spending will reach $861 billion in fiscal 2011, exceeding that of all other nations combined," according to Todd Harrison, senior fellow for Defense Budget Studies at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. 
In April Robert Higgs of The Independent Institute advocated that the budgets - in part or in whole - of the departments of Veterans Affairs, Homeland Security, Energy, State and Treasury and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) should be calculated in the real military budget, which would in 2009 would have increased it to $901.5 billion.
"Adding [the] interest component to the previous all-agency total, the grand total comes to $1,027.8 billion, which is 61.5 percent greater than the Pentagon's outlays alone."
His numbers are:
National Security Outlays in Fiscal Year 2009
(billions of dollars)
Department of Defense 636.5
Department of Energy (nuclear weapons and environmental cleanup) 16.7
Department of State (plus international assistance) 36.3
Department of Veterans Affairs 95.5
Department of Homeland Security 51.7
Department of the Treasury (for the Military Retirement Fund) 54.9
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (1/2 of total) 9.6
Net interest attributable to past debt-financed defense outlays 126.3
Total 1,027.5 
The above-cited Carl Conetta stated at the beginning of this year that the 2011 Pentagon budget will mark a milestone in that "the inflation-adjusted rise in spending since 1998 will probably exceed 100% in real terms by the end of the fiscal year.
"Taking the 2011 budget into account, the Defense Department has been given about $7.2 trillion since 1998, when the post-Cold War decline in defense spending ended. Approximately $2.5 trillion of this total is due to spending above the annual level set in 1998. This added amount constitutes the post-1998 spending surge."
Based on constant 2010 dollars, Conetta further details that the Ronald Reagan administration spent $4.1 trillion on the Defense Department, the Georgia W. Bush administration spent $4.65 trillion and "Barack Obama plans to spend more than $5 trillion."
He also compares the two previous largest post-World War Two surges in U.S. military spending to the current one:
From 1958-1968: 43 percent
From: 1975-1985 57 percent
In regards to which he said, "the 1998-2011 surge is as large as these two predecessors combined."
His calculations also include a growth in Pentagon contract employees of 40 percent since 1989, thereby freeing up uniformed service members for more direct combat roles.
The U.S. share of global military spending grew from 28 percent during the Cold War to 41 percent by 2006 and that of NATO member states, including the U.S., from 49 percent to 70 percent in the same period.
Contrariwise, the "group of potential adversary and competitor states has gone from claiming a 42 % share to just 16 % in 2006.
"Had Ronald Reagan -" who is generally regarded a hawkish president -" wanted to achieve in the 1980s the ratio between US and adversary spending that existed in 2006, he would have had to quadruple his defense budgets.
"And, of course, since 2006, the US defense budget has not receded, but instead grown by another 20% in real terms.
"By 2011, the United States will probably account for more than half of all global military spending calculated in terms of 'purchasing power parity' (which corrects for differences between national economies)." 
The defense authorization bill passed on December 22, despite its monumental and unprecedented size, has been routinely described in the American press as stripped-down, scaled-down and pared-down because an arms manufacturer or two, their lobbyists and obedient congresspersons didn't get every new defense contract and weapons project they desired three days before Christmas.
The December 22 vote in the House was, as Associated Press accurately described it, conducted without debate or discussion - and "without major restrictions on the conduct of operations" - particularly in regards to the $158.7 billion for the military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, $75 million to train and equip the armed forces of Yemen for the counterinsurgency campaign in that country and $205 million more to fund Israel's Iron Dome missile shield.
Regarding the first vote on December 17: "This year's bill is mostly noteworthy for its broad bipartisan support during wartime....Unlike during the height of the Iraq War when anti-war Democrats tried to use the legislation to force troops home, the House passed the defense bill Friday with almost no debate on Afghanistan." 
Aside from voting for the repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy as a stand-alone measure, excising an amendment to allow abortions to be performed on military bases, and refusing reparations to victims of the World War Two Japanese occupation of the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam (apparently $100 million for the purpose was considered excessive in the $725 billion authorization), there was no meaningful dissent in either house of Congress.
Increasing the U.S. war budget to the highest level it's been since the largest and deadliest war in history while no nation or group of nations poses a serious threat to the country, and to a degree where it effectively exceeds the defense spending of the rest of the world combined, is all in the proper order of things for the world's sole military superpower.
1) Center for Defense Information
2) Christian Science Monitor, March 29, 2010
3) Christian Science Monitor, June 28, 2010
5) Robert Higgs, Defense Spending Is Much Greater than You Think
The Independent Institute, April 17, 2010
6) Carl Conetta, Trillions to Burn? A Quick Guide to the Surge in Pentagon
Project on Defense Alternatives, February 5 2010
7) Associated Press, December 17, 2010
Read more articles at opednews.com
This is very-well produced. The price of everyday low prices is NOT cheap...
JibJab Video - Big Box Mart - A factory worker learns the truth about his favorite department store - that there's a very high cost for everyday low prices - unemployment.
The Seattle Singers for Economic Justice take over WalMart with an entertaining holiday message for workers rights...
Video - Walmart shoppers lose their freaking minds (and scare children) to save a few bucks and get useless plastic shit from China...
Syphilis, lice, gonorrhea, ringworm, chlamydia, staph, strep, noro and papilloma viruses all are part of the possible fringe benefits when airline passengers next go through a full hands-on pat-down by agents of the federal government's Transportation Security Administration, according to doctors.
WND reported two days ago on alarmed passengers who noted that TSA agents doing the pat-downs that have been described by critics as molestation since they include touching private body parts were not changing gloves between passengers. In fact, some apparently were patting down dozens of passengers or more wearing the same gloves.
But neither the TSA nor federal agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control
was willing to comment on the possibilities that infections and other loathsome afflictions
could be passed from passenger to passenger.
Now two doctors – and several others – have confirmed that there is the definite possibility that passengers will be able to catch whatever someone in front of them in line was suffering from via the latex gloves TSA workers use.
"There is no doubt that bacteria (staph, strep, v.cholerae etc.) and viruses (noro, enteroviruses, herpes, hepatitis A and papilloma viruses) can be spread by contaminated vinyl or latex gloves," Dr. Thomas Warner of Wisconsin told WND in a letter to the editor.
"If a traveler has diarrhea and is soiled, as can and does happen, the causative agent can be spread by this method since bacteria and viruses in moist environments have greater viability."
He continued. "The traveler readjusting clothes can easily get the infectious agents on their hands and therefore into their mouth, nose or eyes."
Added a pulmonary critical care physician from Connecticut who did not want to be identified by name, "That doesn't make sense that they're not changing gloves."
"Anything can be transmitted. If there are open wounds and they [TSA agents] are not aware, there's syphilis, gonorrhea, herpes, chlamydia, lice, ringworm."
Worse yet would be for people whose immune systems are compromised by treatments they may be having, including cancer patients, she said.
Physicians undergo extensive training, follow strict rules and even have those who watch them to make sure they follow procedures to reduce to an absolute minimum the likelihood of carrying disease from one person to another, she said.
"How come if we as doctors have guidelines, we must wear gloves and have oversight, it's very different [for the TSA]," she said.
Warner told WND some of the infections are "a tough little beast" and easily would be spread through the contact being used by the TSA.
"Staphylococci are also tough and can be spread on fomites (eg . towels, tampons or gloves ) and survive in dry conditions. Methicillin resistant staph creates havoc in hospitals AND in those awaiting surgery (eg. traveling for a transplant ) when the 'carrier' patient must be clear of the bacterium before elective surgery," he said.
"Emerging infectious and tropical agents create another wild scenario," he said.
He said at a minimum gloves should be changed between pat-downs, "especially if the gloved hand is inside clothes or in the genital ... area even if clothed. Travelers should be advised of this and hand-wash and change clothes ASAP after these intimate examinations."
The CDC previously told WND to contact the TSA, which did not respond to inquiries, on the status of policies that would minimize the possibility of passing infections from one passenger to another.
The response today was the same, according to a WND reader who passed along his question to the CDC about the situation and the agency's response.
In response to a question about minimizing the possibility infections could be passed along, the CDC said:
Thank you for your inquiry to CDC-INFO. In response to your comments that Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents are not changing gloves between the travelers that they pat-down, we are pleased to provide you with the following information.
If you are traveling and are going to be searched, you can request that the TSA agent change his or her gloves.
Endorsing the doctors' recommendations was a commentary at Natural News.com.
There, the editorial writer noted the intimacy of the pat-downs by the TSA, procedures which are required for some travelers and offered as an option to those who refuse to go through a full-body image scanner which essentially reveals a nude image of the passenger for TSA workers to review.
"Air travel passengers across America have been complaining of the TSA fingering their genitalia and touching their sex organs. Just this week, an ABC News employee was fingered by a TSA agent who felt around inside her underwear. ... This process of touching traveler's genitals without consistently changing latex gloves means the TSA is involved in extremely risky behavior that could spread disease," the website warned.
"TSA agents are not trained as medical personnel. Just as they don't seem to grasp the Bill of Rights, they also may not understand how infectious disease is spread. They aren't medical personnel; they're Big Brother enforcers who have likely never been taught the principles of how to conduct a sterile body search," the commentary said.
"If an athlete with jock itch (a fungal infection) undergoes a TSA pat-down, that TSA agent could spread the passenger's jock itch from his crotch to his armpits and neck. The same is true for a person suffering from ringworm or other skin fungal infections: Merely touching them and then touching another body part can cause them to spread," the website said. "Even worse, if that same TSA agent does not change his or her gloves between pat-downs, they could be spreading jock itch, ringworm or other infections from traveler to traveler. So traveler #2 could end up with the jock itch picked up from traveler #1."
In WND's original report on the issue of gloves online forum participants said it was clear the gloves are to protect the TSA agents, not provide any protection for passengers.
Martha Donahue in a commentary at Resistnet said she'd spent 30 years in the medical industry.
"For those of you who fly and opt for the 'pat down,' you need to demand the TSA thugs change their gloves. I've been watching on the news how they operate. People are being searched [with] dirty gloves ... gloves that have been in crotches, armpits, touching people who may be ill, people who pick their noses. Do you want those gloves touching you?
"These thugs are protecting themselves from you. You need to be protected from them," she wrote. "In a hospital, nursing home, in-home care, or even labs, that would never even be considered an option."
While the CDC referred questions about health and disease issues to the TSA, in its online writings the organization repeatedly makes clear the importance of maintaining clean hands to avoid such transmission of communicable and contagious afflictions.
Dr. Julie Gerberding, at the time the chief of the CDC, said during a special presentation on hand cleanliness, "We know that hand hygiene is a critical component of safe and healthy health care."
At the same time, Dr. John Boyce, lead author of the organization's hand-washing guidelines and the chairman of the Hand Hygiene Task Force, said, "There's a large study that was conducted at the University of Geneva Hospital in Switzerland where they demonstrated significant improvement in the adherence of health care workers to hand hygiene practices and they also showed that the incidence of antibiotic resistance to staph infections went down and that the overall prevalence of health care-acquired infections went down ... ."
Suggested Gerberding in the context of health care, "Hand hygiene saves lives. We're recommending a comprehensive evidence-based approach in hospitals that consists of handwashing with soap and water when the goal is to remove unsightly debris; hand alcohol preps for enhancing appearance and reducing bacterial counts; and gloving when people have contact with blood or other body fluids in accordance with universal precautions."
She said even in a "community setting," "washing with soap and water remains a very sensible strategy for hand hygiene."
Other health standards across the country routinely warn against hand contact with sores, lesions or other sources of viruses or contamination. The Lincoln, Neb., health site notes, "This includes hand contact."
Officials at the Canadian Center for Occupational Health noted that "hand washing is the single most effective way to prevent the spread of infections.
"You can spread certain 'germs' (a general term for microbes like viruses and bacteria) casually by touching another person. You can also catch germs when you touch contaminated objects or surfaces and then you touch your face (mouth, eyes, and nose)," it said.
On a TSA blog promoting the agency's actions and policies, one screener explained, "Changing gloves is fairly simple ... . When I gate screen I carry about 10-12 pairs in my pockets."
Respondents to the comment were outraged, "That's just plain disgusting and most certainly not acceptable ... procedures as set forth by the CDC for usage of gloves for protection," said one. "Reasoning being is that the bacteria count in your pockets is about the same is your mouth or armpit."
Wrote another forum participant, "Those gloves are soiled if they come out of your pockets and before handling my stuff you will be expected to obtain a clean, from the original container, pair. ... Who knows what filth inhabits your pockets!"
Now things are really getting interesting in the world and I'm sure the currency markets. "China invites South Africa to join BRIC: Xinhua"
China invites South Africa to join BRIC: Xinhua
(Reuters) - China has invited Africa's largest economy, South Africa, to join the four-member "BRIC" grouping of fast-growing emerging markets, its state news agency reported on Friday.
Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said BRIC has accepted South Africa as a full member of the group, which currently includes Brazil,
China, South Africa's largest trading partner, will invite South African President Jacob Zuma to attend a summit of BRIC leaders that Beijing will host next year, it said.
South Africa is the world's 31st-largest economy, according to World Bank data for 2009 and is less than a quarter the size of the smallest BRIC economy, Russia.
The BRIC countries have sought greater clout for their grouping, holding a summit in Russian in 2009. "BRIC" is a term invented in 2001 by Jim O'Neill, the chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management.
South Africa applied to join BRIC at the G20 meeting of the world's leading economies in Seoul in November, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said at the meeting.
Its economy is projected by its government to grow about 3.0 percent this year, hardly the blistering pace seen in other BRIC countries.
Some investors make asset allocations based on the BRIC classification and all of the countries that currently make up the grouping have seen their global financial clout increase substantially in recent years.
South Africa's foreign minister was scheduled to speak on Friday on the BRIC listing, the ministry said. (Reporting by
It seems as though China has a plan to strip the dollar of its role as reserve currency and claim it for itself?? (Or what I think, purely speculation, speculation in the sense that I have no definitive proof to back why I think this; but, in lieu of the recent privately held G8, G20 meetings, or the Central Bank governors meetings, etc., I would assume that much of this is systematically planned. An unwinding of dollar hegemony and a "new age"...perhaps the "golden age?" as the Mayans and Hindu prophecies predict.) Precluding the onset of WWII those within the governments at that time began implementing protectionist policies which had adverse effects on the economies of many countries due to their interdependence with one another. Fast forward to NOW...and the convolutedness of our corporate system (companies owning other companies; this is some pretty perverse stuff we are talking about here!!) along with the emergence of global stock markets, commodities futures markets, the digitized casinos that are our stock markets, and the bond speculators who did the same $*&t leading up to WWII that many of the PIIGS countries (PORTUGAL, IRELAND, ITALY, GERMANY, and SPAIN) have been experiencing already. Just yesterday Finch's lowered Portugal's rating:
"Portugal’s long-term and local currency ratings were lowered by one notch to A-plus late on Thursday by Fitch, taking its rating to the same held by Moody’s, but two notches above the A-minus held by Standard and Poor’s." http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/6f175e80-0f4a-11e0-b336-00144feabdc0.html#axzz194FyboF7
Moody's is considering downgrading Spain's as well, even after downgrading Spain earlier this year. The credit rating agencies seem to be used in tandem with the bond speculators to exacerbate an already tough economic situation within the country of "choice." The inevitable outcome is always the same: You can have this money; only if you do , this, this and this. "This , this and this" from now, forward, we will call "austerity" measures. These "austerity" measures will be painful and in some instances outright theft (raiding the pension cookie jars similar to what Roosevelt did when he ordered the confiscation of Americans' gold!) With these new economic agreements between the BRICSA and Russia/China (the recent currency swap deal: http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/85424/20101124/china-russia-drop-dollar.htm )
it seems the financial battle lines are being established for the lead up to a possible 3rd World War!
Due to the “Dual Alliance” (Germany/ Austro-Hungary) and then “Triple Alliance” when they added Italy. Due to the alliance Germany had with the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Russia’s perceived sphere of influence in the Baltic region(sound familiar?) WWI began small, but eventually, encompassed most of Europe and Asia.
Some believe Iran could be the next powder keg like Serbia, which I do not deny. However, I believe Pakistan is nearing the boiling point already. It’s vicinity to China, its neighbor India, and former ex Soviet controlled nation states; along with the historically-violent ethnic/sectarian divisions; 6th most populated country in the world, 8th largest active military, and roughly 50% literacy rate; and owner of several nuclear bombs, all adds up to a powder keg waiting to explode. Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari is nothing more than an American hand-puppet who just so happened to replace his wife, Benazir Bhutto who had been exiled in Dubai for roughly 10 years before coming back to Pakistan in 2007, only to be assassinated, almost three years to the date. (December 27th 2007)
By the way, do you remember what happened to our last puppet? What was his name? Saddam Hussein or something like that?! I’m sure Zardari remembers his name.
The recent wikileaks data shows Zardari’s allegiance, (for now) until the pressure from his own people becomes too much?: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2010/12/02/104662/leaked-us-cables-a-stain-on-pakistani.html
Regardless if any of this pans out, I believe we can all agree that the next few years of this decade are going to play a large role in the direction society will take. Perhaps some sort of social rebirth coinciding with the move out of the Age of Pisces into the Age of Aquarius will occur? Countless possibilities abound. These cosmic underpinnings, in my humble opinion, cannot be underemphasized when attempting to understand the social, political, and military actions of those running the governments and multi-national corporations of the world. I suppose time will tell! IN the mean time I hope that we remember the significance of family and friends this holiday season.
Communist China, with all of its resources gained through slave labor and favorable trade agreements, has announced that it will bailout debt-weakened European nations with its vast foreign investment fund.
On the ground, China appears to have a very capitalistic system of production and consumerism. However, at the political level, the essentially single-party state can move very quickly when seeking foreign investments. In other words, there is very little bureaucratic wrangling in decision making.
They seem to have a form of dictatorial anti-competition capitalism. Based on its success in consolidating wealth and power globally, it appears to be the perfect fusion to the cartel-run capitalism in the West -- which it now seeks to prop up, or set up -- in Economic Hitman fashion.
In reality, it is all the same money, the same owners, and the same scheme. The international cartels have gone into partnership with China for resource management, international trade, currency management and global banking. At the very least, their dependence upon each other has undoubtedly married their global interests.
The idea that China is a separate independent entity to be feared by Western governments seems to be manufactured to tap into the notion of patriotism when the time is appropriate to further artificially divide and conquer the sovereign populace.
The globalists deliberately shaped China's rise while maintaining that they are a not-so-friendly force to be reckoned with. And China, well known as a massive military power, is currently free from military hegemonic entanglements in resource-rich nations like Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet, they still find a way to acquire epic contracts for the resources in those countries and others where the West supposedly has military control.
When you strip out the labels of communism and capitalism, China looks an awful lot like a more obvious (or honest) American false two-party system that recently greased through thousands of pages of legislation in a so-called lame duck session. In both, the multinational corporations can move very quickly to consolidate global business.
When you strip away the idea that they are different nations, the same corporations and international banks hold all the cards. Finally, when you consider that nuclear- and space-based weapons have made the prospect of another World War almost farcical, any tension between the China and the West will likely be falsely created by these corporations for the final chapter of power consolidation that the media will trumpet.